holiday hotline #1 – solo travel, jordan hacks, dog friendly retreats and birthday fun in budapest

If you’re following me over on Instagram, you may already know that I’ve opened up shop and am taking your holiday requests once a week!

And in the first official ‘holiday hotline’, I had so many requests through that I literally could spend all week searching for getaways for you all.

Alas, I only had a couple of hours to properly research one meaty request and then I thought I’d give my fleeting thoughts to a few others as well.

All of this is over on my stories today and remember, if you’re after a holiday of your own, follow and get ready to submit your own request next time!

THE REQUEST: Perfect solo retreat in Europe first week of July

What a great first query to get stuck into!

Now, if I was planning a solo trip, I’d definitely want to spend some time chilling and enjoying my own company but then I know that I’d definitely get bored and want something or someone to entertain me a little. So what I’m going to suggest is a nice mix of the two.

Now, I’ve clocked the word ‘perfect’ here and thought SHIT THIS IS NOT AN ALL INCLUSIVE CALIPPO ON THE BEACH JOBBY. They want something special. So that’s exactly what I’m going to deliver.

So where are we going?

Well, here’s the flights:

London to Paphos
Sat 29th June – Sun 7th July
£121

Paphos is full of incredible food, archaeological sites, and road trips to beautiful beaches. Plus, at a whopping 4 hours 30 mins flight out there, it’s literally as far as you can get in Europe without hitting the middle east.

Speaking of which…

Paphos to Amman
Weds 3rd July – Sat 6th July
£30

YEH BOI. Not only are we doing Cyprus, but we’re gonna fly on over to Jordan. JUST COZ WE CAN.

Told you this was gonna be spesh.

The top tip here is that you can fly to Jordan from Cyprus for disgustingly cheap. In fact, flying Tuesday to Saturday will cost just £14 return, but the flights for Weds to Sat worked better for what I’ve got planned.

To put into perspective just how cheap these flights are, do you want to see how much it would cost to fly direct from London to Amman on the same dates?

VILE.

But before we get excited by Jordan, let’s get back to Cyprus to talk car hire and accommodation.

Car hire

Paphos and the surrounding area is definitely worth exploring so renting a car will help you to get out during the day if you don’t fancy just chilling at the pool.

The good news is car hire is super cheap at £35 for 4 days.

Paphos Accommodation

There are still so many options available for a whole range of budgets but given what’s coming up in Jordan, I think keeping it on the cheaper (but definitely still cheerful) side will help level out the costs later on.

Paphos Airbnb Studio
Sat 29th June – Weds 3rd July
£47.25 a night / £196 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

This studio apartment is the perfect base. With a small kitchen, air conditioning, balcony and access to a shared pool, it ticks a lot of boxes.

You’re also just 700m from the sea and in easy access to sights, restaurants and nightlife. What’s more, you get access via a lockbox meaning you won’t be charged more for that late check in.

I was really impressed with how many options there were both in Paphos and the nearby area so here’s a few more if you’re interested:

Paphos Airbnb Private Room
£19 a night / £76 total

Tala Airbnb Apartment
£54.74 a night / £219 total

Kathikas Airbnb Entire Stone House
£83 a night / £334 total

Pissouri Airbnb Entire Villa w/Private Pool
£97.50 a night / £390 total

And if you fancied chilling out at a hotel instead, this 5 star option is very well priced considering… Well, considering it’s 5 star!

Azia Resort and Spa
£91 a night / £364.16 total

Next stop – Jordan!

The Wednesday is an early start back to the airport to embark on the next adventure.

Named as one of Lonely Planet’s ‘top places to travel in 2019’, now’s your chance to get ahead of the pack before it gets TOO popular.

Some of the most popular reasons to visit include ancient ruins in Petra, the epic desert wilderness of Wadi Rum and the incredible buoyancy of the Dead Sea.

Now, it’s absolutely possible to visit all three of these places from Amman yourself HOWEVER, as a solo traveller you won’t be able to split the cost of a hire car, hotel rooms or a tour guide, so I think this would be a great chance to embark on a group tour. It also gives you the chance to meet new people!

For our trip to Jordan, I’ve found a 4 day tour, that begins with a pickup at Amman airport. Given our early arrival, this also gives us time to explore the city for the day before we get on the road.

Across the next three days, we’ll explore the desert, Petra and visit the Dead Sea all before being brought back in time for our flight home on the Saturday.

The tour is £372 via Tour Radar and includes:

  • 3 star hotel accommodation for 3 nights (though you may well be sharing will a fellow group member)
  • Tour guide in Jordan (for min 5 persons)
  • 3 breakfasts & 2 dinners
  • All transportation and English speaking driver

Not included are your entrance fee to Petra ($60), tips and additional meals but for what works out as £93 a day, I think it’s exceptional value.

This particular tour worked really well for these dates but currently has only 1 review, so I’d definitely recommend chatting more to Tour Radar (they’re the middle man who sells on the tours) before you book. This 3 day tour has loads of great review but didn’t work as well for our dates.

Back to Paphos!

After an incredible four days of exploration, we’ll be ready to relax so for the last evening in Cyprus, I think it’s time to go ALL OUT and stay somewhere lush.

Staying a hotel will also help with that late flight the next day home as they’ll be able to keep hold of our luggage, and we should be able to still chill out by the pool all day should we want to!

Almyra
Sat 6th July – Sun 7th July
£129 a night with breakfast

As I said, I’m all about going cheaper at the beginning so you can stay the last evening in LUXURY.

This hotel is gorgeous. It even features on the Mr & Mrs Smith website which if you don’t know, is like a directory of bloody beautiful hotels. They don’t let any old muck on there.

However, if you’re hoping to spend a little less, there are plenty of other options including:

Azia Resort & Spa
£114 a night

St George Hotel
£76.96 a night

So how much for the whole trip?

Flights – £151
Paphos car hire – £35
Paphos Airbnb Accommodation – £196
Jordan 4 day tour – £372
Paphos luxury hotel – £129
Total = £883

It may not be a ‘budget trip’ but for the price, I think it’s pretty damn special (I TOLD YA SO!!)

What if I don’t have £883? Is there anywhere else you’d recommend?

Yes! For a solo trip I’d definitely recommend getting a cheap flight out to Germany (so many in July for under £60) and using their great train network to visit a few different cities.

Germany in the summer is gorgeous and thanks to the popularity of Europe’s interrail passes, many cities are so ready to embrace people travelling on their own.

Stay in trendy hostels for under £20 a night to meet new people and act as a base for exploring historical cities with GREAT BEER!

Now for a few quick requests.

THE REQUEST: 4 day Italian escape

I went to a wedding in Italy last year and flew into Perugia – a place I’d never heard of before but would definitely visit again.

Explore the beautiful city (and eat at La Taverna – INSANE FOOD!), hire a car and explore the Italian countryside – you’re not far from Tuscany either!

There’s loads of decently priced flight options but I found Fri 28th June – Tues 2nd July for £109 which is pretty good considering it’s the summer.

When I went, I stayed with three friends in this sweet apartment which is set in the grounds of a families LUSCIOUS garden. There’s just two or three other apartments so you often have the pool to yourself. It was GORGEOUS.

THE REQUEST: Can take our 20kg dog without a passport, no/few kids, nice accommodation, good nature

I stayed in dog-friendly The Gallivant right on the beach of Camber Sands in East Sussex last year and it is gorgeous.

With spa treatments, yoga on the beach and a great restaurant, it ticks all the boxes for a boutique getaway that feels like a treat.

What’s more, they only allow babies under 18 months and children over the age of 12.

Rates start at £115 a night and they even have a ‘dog lovers escape‘ deal which is £330 for two nights (Mon – Thurs in Sep-May) with breakfast, afternoon tea, a 3 course dinner, endless dog biscuits and a dog rug, toy and water in your room!

THE REQUEST: The best comparison site?

My go to is Skyscanner but I like to check Momondo for prices, particularly for long haul flights.

I also like Google Flights for spotting cheap fare patterns but then I’d always check the price against those mentioned above.

THE REQUEST: Villa in Portugal (Vilamoura are) for 8 adults, a 4 year old and 6 month old

Get on the ol’ Airbnb and my top tip is to not forget about the other websites too!

Hometogo is a handy website for comparing holiday rental sites (it saves you a hell of a lot of time!) – though unfortunately they don’t compare Airbnb!

Also, sites like Booking.com now offer apartments and villas so try searching there too.

THE REQUEST: Looking to go Copenhagen for 2 nights in Dec for 3 adults & 2 children

Manchester to Copenhagen
Fri 6th Dec – Sun 8th Dec
£69 each

Central Airbnb
£388 for 2 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

4* hotel – 1 x Superior Extra and 1 x Standard room
£555

1* hotel – 1 x Double Room + 2 extra beds and 1 x Single Standard room
£350

Make sure to visit Tivoli theme park – it’s beautiful at Christmas!!

THE REQUEST: Budapest in Nov for 40th birthday

Bristol to Budapest
Thurs 7th Nov – Sat 9th Nov
£68

You can also go for 5 nights, returning on Thursday 14th Nov for the same price!

Since you’re celebrating your 40th, it only seems right that you should stay somewhere nice. Both of these are great boutique hotel options!

Hotel Moments
£109 a night with breakfast

Brody House
£120 a night with breakfast


Right, that’s all for the first official holiday hotline!

Make sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you want to be involved in the next – and let me know if you end up booking any of these!


I have used affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more (in fact, I’ve put non-affiliate links where that’s the case), but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I make around 10p if you book a flight through one of my links so… Yeh. NO ONE’S GETTING RICH HERE PAL 😂

how to get your airbnb for half the price

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Airbnb is bloody great but when you’re trying to get a bargain, you don’t have winter sales and promo codes to help you get the price down – or do you?

What many people don’t realise is that whilst Tara has stated that her flat in Knightsbridge is £290 a night, she – as an Airbnb host – has an option to send potential stayees (yes that’s a real word) a ‘special offer’.

I.E. IT’S TIME TO GET YOUR HAGGLE HAT AND YOUR BARTERING BROGUES ON LADS

You could give this a go in any situation, but here are the two scenarios where bartering can be particularly successful:

  • You’re staying a decent amount of time – there’s a lot of work that comes with checking people in and out so if you’re looking for a place for a week or more, owners will be much more open to having you stay rather than 7 different people across 7 different nights
  • They haven’t filled their room/home and time is running out – this is riskier as it could mean you’re left without, yet you could always book a back up hotel room with a great cancellation policy so that you’ve got something to fall back on

I decided to go with the latter whilst plotting a UK break for holiday number six after realising just how bloody pricey staying in the homeland can be.

Here’s what I did:

STEP ONE – Compile

One week before, I searched for available rooms and homes in a whole host of places within a 2 hour train ride of London – notably Oxford, Brighton and Margate.

I created a new ‘wish list’ and popped them all in – this is a great tool as it automatically updates what’s available.

I found 40 places in total.

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STEP TWO – Wait

Whilst checking and then seeing the place you were secretly lusting for get booked up is THE PITS, it’s worth checking in a couple of times over the next 4 or 5 days to see how things are shaping up.

STEP THREE – Pounce

Two days before you intend to go away should be a good point to put some feelers out there.

When I clicked back on, I saw that just 10 places were still available – I said it was risky, didn’t I?! – and the next step was to schmooooooze.

Done in the form of a ‘oh me? I’m just super casual this is helping you more/oh god please house me’ message:

Hi XXX,

Your place looks absolutely beautiful!

My boyfriend and I both work in radio in London and after a rather hectic week at work (and we’re only three days in!), we’ve decided to try and get out of the city, get some of that sea air and hit ‘refresh’.

Our plan would be to explore the area and sample whatever delights the local restaurants and bars have to offer!

Our budget for staying 2 nights is £XX including Airbnb’s service fee which I understand is under what you’re currently looking for, but if you’re wanting to fill your place with respectful guests who you wouldn’t see much of – then look no further!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Chelsea

STEP FOUR – Wait again…

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All my messages got a reply (thank you, kind Airbnb brethren).

8 said they were actually booked but they hadn’t updated their calendar (bahhh)

1 said ‘can you check back in tomorrow?’

and 1 said ‘yeah sure!’

GREAT SUCCESS.

So how much did we save?

My bartering meant that we were able to get a super cute room (with its own bathroom and living room) in Margate down from £105 to £80. Not too bad?

It’s worth saying that the ‘can you check back in tomorrow?’ place would have been an entire house in Brighton for £90 down from £180! So there’s definitely some massive deals to be had.

Extra saving

As it’s always me doing the booking around here, this was James’ FIRST EVER BOOKING on Airbnb meaning he had a £30 welcome offer from a friend, bringing our final cost to a mere £25 each.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can also get some moola off by being referred to by a friend.

Fancy seeing how we got on?