holiday hotline #2 – aug bank holiday getaways, manchester to barcelona, scottish road trips and cheap new york accommodation

Following the success of. the first holiday hotline (Will is currently planning his trip to Jordan – wahey!) I thought I’d get back on the search to find someone else a proper great holiday for less.

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram so that you know when the next hotline is live!

THE REQUEST: August bank holiday birthday fun – 4 days – somewhere hot

So, this week’s main hotline request comes in from Vicky who’s wanting a getaway over the August bank holiday as it’s her birthday that Friday and her work give her the DAY OFF – what a perk!

Heres what she’s after:

  • Ideally leave on evening of Thurs 22nd Aug
  • 4 days but could take more time off
  • Somewhere hot
  • Going with someone so can share a room

So, where are we going?

Looking at Thursday eve – Monday, there were plenty of options under £50 (including Cologne, Copenhagen, Oslo and Gothenburg) yet none were really giving that ‘hot’ vibe that Vicky was hoping to get.

Unfortunately, flights to warmer destinations such as Lisbon (one of my faves) were starting at £150 so I made the decision to change the return date to Tuesday 27th August instead.

London to Madrid
Thurs 22nd Aug – Tues 27th Aug
£84
(there’s also a flight back at 1310 for £94)

Why Madrid?

As the Spanish capital, there’s so much to see and do but having visited recently, I was really enamoured by the fact that it didn’t come with big city price tag.

With many menu del dia’s (three course lunches with wine – HALLOH) costing less than €10 and €1,20 rides on their well linked metro system, you’ll find that your money goes pretty far in this capital city.

Toledo

As well, with its brilliant connections, you can easily get a train out of the city and visit the UNESCO sites of Toledo and Salamanca, or how about a day trip to Madrid’s Wine Country?

As for the weather, Madrid in the summer gets HOT and August hits an average of 31 degrees – there’s a siesta for a reason. Which is why I think it’s important to find Vicky a hotel with not only some decent air con, but also some outdoor space and maybe, if we’re lucky, a pool.

Where are we staying then?

For this, I simply hopped on trivago and changed my filters to include:

  • Up to £100 a night
  • 3-5 star
  • Guest rating 7.5+
  • City centre location
  • With pool (fingers crossed)

With trivago, I always leave a bit of wiggle room with the price because annoyingly, they only filter based on the price they offer you in bold which is not always the cheapest price out there. That can be found by clicking on ‘more deals’.

Always click on ‘more deals’ for the best price

So, as you can see above, if we’d been looking for a room that cost £85 or less, this option wouldn’t have come up.

SNEAKY.

As Vicky will be staying 5 nights, I’m going to try and find a place around £80 a night so that she and her travel partner aren’t going to be spending more than £200 on accommodation each.

Option 1

Axel Hotel Madrid
£82 a night (£41 each)

  • 4 star with cool, quirky style
  • Very highly rated
  • Rooftop pool and terrace
  • Air con in every room
  • Adults only (no offence kids but HELL YEAH!)
  • Bizarrely would cost you £187 a night if you booked direct
  • Better photos can be found here (Booking.com always create such good picture galleries!)

I wouldn’t have picked up on this at all had I not checked out their own site, but Axel Hotels are a chain that focus on the LGBTIQ+ community who are proudly heterofriendly! They welcome everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, without prejudice which I think is a great business to support.

Option 2

H10 Puerta de Alcalá
£87 a night (£43.50 each)

  • 4 star with super chic decor
  • Very well rated
  • Incredible rooftop pool and terrace (H10 always NAIL this)
  • Air con
  • Again, you can peruse a better photo gallery (in my opinion) here

Option 3

Airbnb – Duplex with terrace in Central Madrid
£74.40 a night (£37.20 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

  • Well rated with great reviews
  • Okay so NO POOL – but you do have your own cute terrace
  • The sofa bed means that two adults could have a bed each
  • Air conditioning
  • A kitchen with everything you could need to help you save money on food whilst in Madrid

So how much is this costing?

Based on going with the cheaper hotel, this 5 night birthday getaway will set Vicky back £289.

Which for a long capital city break across a popular bank holiday staying in a well rated, central hotel with a pool seems a pretty good deal to me.

I hope you have the best birthday holiday EVER, Vicky!

Any time for a few more requests?

Sure, let’s razz through a few more.

THE REQUEST: Venice – August bank holiday weekend

You lot are mad for your bank holiday getaways it seems!

Flights to Venice are not cheap but the best deal I could find was flying out later on the Friday and coming back early on the Tuesday morning.

London to Venice
Fri 23rd Aug – Tues 27th Aug
£126

If you can get the time off, you can also fly back on the Tues at 2125 for £134.

Venice isn’t necessarily the cheapest destination and is already pretty booked up that weekend but there’s still some decent deals to be had!

Airbnb – Sky Tower Suite
£65.67 a night (£32.84 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

In the same building as a hotel, what it lacks in personality it makes up for with its clean, practical and low cost. The hotel reception also means you can check in 24/7 and you’re just a 10 minute bus from the historic centre of Venice.

Airbnb – Venetian Bridge Private Room
£81.67 a night (£40.84 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Hurrah, we’ve made it over to the main island but it does mean we’ll have to stay in a private room… But it’s a very cute one if that helps?!

Hotel Pausania
£108.33 a night + €21 on check in (£57.17 each)

If you want to be super central, get ready for some proper OLD SKOOL ITALIAN DECOR! Which I personally love. This place is 3 star, well rated and really close to many of Venice’s historic monuments.

THE REQUEST: Barcelona – September. About £500 all in. 3 people from Manchester.

Now this didn’t say how many days, so I’ve gone for a cheeky little long weekend getaway for you!

Manchester to Barcelona
Fri 6th Sep – Mon 9th Sep
£59 each

The Bicycle Apartments
£124.66 a night (£41.50 each)

As I wasn’t sure on what formation the 3 adults would need to sleep in, The Bicycle Apartments have a range of options that would work and if you can stretch to the Design Duplex at £55 a night each, you can all get a double bed!

An 11 min walk from Plaça d’Espanya and has plenty of transport options in its midst.

Total cost = £183.50 each leaving plenty of money for food and fun!

Went went to Barcelona last year and managed to bag ourselves an INSANE apartment for next to nothing so you could try giving Love Home Swap a try too!

THE REQUEST: Booked flights to NYC for 30th November – 5th December… Now to find a hotel? Under £700 please!
Where better to enjoy the New York skyline than in Brooklyn?!

Ah yes. New York accommodation. It’s never fun 🤣

Now, there are some options in Manhattan for around £140 a night but they are – pardon my French – absolute horse shit. And I refuse to recommend anyone stay anywhere so crap!

So instead, I’m going to take us across the East River to Brooklyn. It has easy access over to Manhattan and is a place to visit and enjoy in its own right. In fact, it’s my favourite area of New York!

It’s also particularly helpful if you’re flying in from JFK as it’s the same side of the city.

Henry Norman Hotel £684.28 total

  • Trendy 3.5 star hotel with excellent ratings
  • Greenpoint is another area that’s become a ‘hip’ place to visit in recent years
  • 11 min walk to the G line up to connect to then connect to either the L or the 7 across to Manhattan
  • Also, the hotel provides a shuttle to take you to nearby subway station

Hotel Le Jolie£799 total

  • Basic (but with a modern edge) 2.5 star hotel
  • Very well rated
  • Williamsburg is an AMAZING part of Brooklyn – full of cool shops, cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Great location – just a 7 min walk from L line over to Manhattan (20 mins to Union Square)

Less nice but cheeeap, is the Bogart Hotel for £519 and much more expensive, but super lovely is the Hoxton Williamsburg for £933.

THE REQUEST: Mid August trip in Scotland. Ending in Glasgow. Car hire, beautiful roads & good value

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here but here are my headlines:

  • Look into the North Coast 500 road trip. James and I did it in 6 days last summer and it was phenomenal
  • Whilst in many places you may have no choice, but always choose B&Bs over hotels. Much better value for money and the breakfasts are EPIC!!!! Check Airbnb too for B&Bs
  • For car hire, Skyscanner is great at giving an overview but also check Turo – it’s like Airbnb but for people’s cars!
  • Also, if you’re very lucky you may be able to relocate a campervan from Edinburgh for £1 A DAY with Spaceship Rentals! The only problem is you’ll probably have to return it to London… But hey, did I mention the £1 a day??!
  • We also ended our trip in Glasgow and went all out by staying at the Dakota hotel. It’s not cheap but we got their Friday night offer (can only be booked via their website) where we both got a cocktail, £25 each towards dinner, a cooked breakfast and a LUSH ROOM for £200 (£100 each). It was a total treat but I would absolutely recommend it, especially after a week of B&Bs!!
Dakota Glasgow
THE REQUEST: More drunk videos of James

Hahaha. We’re off to Croatia on Wednesday so I’m sure there will be more to come. But for now, skip to 37 seconds to keep you going.

This is from the FIRST VLOG I EVER MADE!!! #classicdrunkjames


So, thats it for the second every holiday hotline! I’m so sorry to all the people I didn’t get to – I do hope I can help you out in the future.

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!

how to fly to the europa league 2019 final in Baku on a budget

First the mad scurry to get to the Champions League in Madrid and now both Chelsea and Arsenal have made it to the final in Baku on Wednesday 29th May 2019. Cue airfare meltdown.

Unfortunately, Baku isn’t going to be quite as easy as my deep dive into cheap ways to get to Spain. But let’s see what we can do here, pals.

Before I crack on, if you find that this helps you at all, feel free to help a gal out by giving me a follow on either YouTubeInstagram or Twitter and I promise even more top money saving tips when it comes to your future travel.

In this post, I’ll be exploring the following. Either scroll through or click on which bit applies to you:

  1. Where is Baku and will I need a visa?
  2. Direct flights from London from £604
  3. Cheapest 1+ stop flights from the UK from £451
  4. Fly from just £289 one way by DOING IT YOURSELF

First Things First

Where the bloody hell is Baku? And WILL I NEED A visa?

Baku is ‘the capital and commercial hub’ of Azerbaijan. A place I literally only know of due to their yearly inclusion in the Eurovision. But if they’re in Eurovision, surely we can all jump in our cars and embark on an epic road trip, right?

Ah, rigggghht.

I mean, if driving 60 hours is your kinda ‘thing’, then go for it pal. But just remember that you’ll need to get an eVisa sorted for scurrying through Turkey.

Speaking of visas, you will need an eVisa to get into Azerbaijan but fortunately, it’s a simple process that you can do over the internet that will set you back around £20. Make sure to select ‘Europa League Final’ in the ‘purpose of visit’ and give yourself at least three working days to get it sorted.

On to the flights…

DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM LONDON TO BAKU

This section should otherwise be named, ‘let’s all have a big laugh, shall we?’

Direct flights are as good as gone, unless you fancy a 12 day trip to Baku for £609 instead:

Seems a bit of a hassle.

The next best thing I could find was this weeklong schlep with one direct flight for a cool £764.

It is worth saying that airlines are obviously aware of the demand and so may put extra planes on. Sure, they’ll hike up the prices, but if you really need get there and back in a sharpish manner, it may be worth keeping an eye on Azerbaijan Airlines.

Anything cheaper?

CHEAPEST 1+ STOP FLIGHTS FROM LONDON

Remember – if you’re not flying direct, you may have to re-check your bag and even go through security again so make sure there’s enough time. My top tip would be to not check in any bags at all to make this as simple as possible for you.

Tues 28th May – Thurs 30th May

Let’s pause for a moment here to rinse our eyes out with bleach.

£1566 for a NOT EVEN DIRECT FLIGHT to Baku? Get a grip, love.

Unfortunately, these really are the cheapest flights you’re going to find that don’t involve 15+ hours with multiple transfer. But, because we don’t have many options here, let’s take a look at these too:

TOP TIP: when searching for a flight that needs to get me into somewhere for a certain time, I always search on Momondo as they allow you to filter by landing time.

Weds 29th May – Fri 31st May

With the game kicking off at 11pm Azerbaijan time (thanks to @Mattswfc1 for pointing this out on Twitter 🙈) the following flight might just work… But it would be tight!

Tues 28th May – Fri 31st May

One stop only is still a sickening mess at £1463:

Whack in a few more stops and you only need pay £704! WHAT A BARGAIN! (Please sense my intense sarcasm).

Tues 28th May – Sat 1st June

One stop from £1276:

Two stops from £695:

Can you tell I’m getting bored of the repetitive high prices yet? Okay, what’s it going to take to find a sub £500 ticket? WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?!

Mon 27th May – Mon 3rd June

A week off and a change in Stuttgart, Ankara and Riga, that’s what!

And what about for a sub 10 hour leg and a sub £500 ticket?

Sun 26th May – Tues 4th June

Yeah. I couldn’t actually find one in the timeframe/lost the will to live. FFS BAKU!

Right, let’s try doing it ourselves instead.

HOW TO FIND YOUR OWN CONNECTING FLIGHTS FOR LESS

Search engines like Skyscanner and Momondo are good, but they can’t always show you every single possible connection. So this is a little trick may be useful now, and worth holding onto for the future too.

To do this:

  • Open a new browsing tab – we’re going to call this tab one – and go to Skyscanner and in ‘From’ type in your departure airport
  • Next, in ‘To’, write ‘Everywhere’
  • Select the date you’d like travel on
  • This will bring up a list of countries in price order – leave this open
  • In a new tab – this will be referred to as tab two – again, go to Skyscanner but this time, write ‘Baku’ underneath the ‘To’ box
  • In the ‘From’, you’re going to look back at that list of cheap countries in tab one
  • For a European city (I used this tactic to find super cheap flights for the Champions League final in Madrid), I’d usually go through the list one by one but for Baku, we know that not many places are going to fly there. So whilst we may find a cheaper fare from these places listed (and therefore they may be worth checking) it’s likely that they’re going to be pretty gnarly flights.
  • Therefore, I’m going to now head over to the Baku arrivals page to see where may be a good place to invest my efforts.
  • Straightaway I’m getting Turkish vibes so I scroll through the list of cheap countries listed to me in tab one and find direct flights from London to Turkey for £53 on Tuesday 28th May
  • Next, I head back to tab two and enter ‘Turkey as my departure country to Baku and hit search
  • Unfortunately Antalya’s one flight is really early in the morning but there are a few viable options for Istanbul, so I head back to tab one and see what’s available from London to Istanbul on Tues 28th May:
  • Now, there are cheaper flights with Pegasus but these fly into Istanbul SAW airport which is the other side of the city. HOWEVER – I have actually had to travel between SAW and IST airports in rush hour before and it took around 1 hour 45 minutes and just £35 in a taxi using their app, Bitaksi – BUT, you would have to buy an eVisa for entering the country so I guess it all adds up!
  • Heading back to tab two, I see if any of the flights from Istanbul to Baku work and they do!

THE BORING BUT IMPORTANT PART:

  • As you are booking two flights separately, it will look like to Turkish Airlines that you are ending your journey in Istanbul and therefore they are well within their right to check that you have a Turkish eVisa before allowing you to board the flight. It may be that by showing them your next booked flight they accept that you do not need it, but PLEASE CHECK THIS WITH THEM DIRECTLY BEFOREHAND. It’s only $20 and is a quick process online, but check before you turn up to the airport.
  • Secondly, whilst 2 hours and 25 minutes sounds like more than enough time to connect to your next flight, each airport has a different process and whilst you may not want to leave the airport, you may be obliged to go through immigration and re-check in to get onto your next flight so again CHECK WITH YOUR AIRLINES!

Update: Joe who has family in Turkey has done us a solid and given his first hand experience of all of this!

  • I would definitely recommend not checking in a bag so that you won’t have a reason to leave the airport!

If you can indeed stay in transit then that 9 hour trip for £289 is a pretty sweet deal (and just £306 for a longer, but much less risky journey) – especially when you look at the one way options that Skyscanner offer up. That’s a saving over over £661.

Now, you just need to do the same trick for the flight back and believe me, finding it and knowing you’ve saved hundreds of pounds is half the fun!!


I hope this has helped you find a flight that works for both your budget and your schedule. If you end up booking something, let me know so I can holiday vicariously through you!

And if you’ve found this useful, give me a follow over on YouTubeInstagram and Twitter for even more cheap travel tips.


I have used affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies – and make me feel better about spending my Saturday morning in bed researching this!! For total transparency though, I’ll have you know my post about the Champions League directed thousands of clicks to sites and I made £6 from it. SIX POUNDS. And that bad boy took me 8 hours to write up 🤣🤣🤣

vlog 1 | 7 day iceland ring road trip for cheap – flights, car hire and supermarket prices

I’ve enjoyed frolicking around, making the most out of £5 flights but recently I realised that I was eager for a new challenge.

And what better place to flex my money saving muscles than Iceland?

Renowned for its beauty – and the price tag that comes along with it – I thought it would be the perfect destination to do on a budget.

The challenge (which I do indeed accept) is to get flights, accommodation, 4×4 car hire, petrol, food, drink and activities for a 6 night road trip around Iceland’s ring road for less than £600.

In the first video, we nab flights with Wizz Air for £57.98 each, a 20kg suitcase for £29.50 each (we shared!), 4×4 car hire via Northbound for just £78 per person and our first supermarket shop for £28.50 each.

Total spent so far = £193.98 each

Total left = £406.02 each

FLIGHTS

We flew with Wizz Air from London Luton for £57.98 each. Being Wizz Air club members (€29.99 a year for two people) we saved around £15 each but we could have flown for just £55 without the discount (£39 with!) the week prior – alas, the flights didn’t work for James’ work!

Is it worth joining Wizz Air’s discount club?

If you’re planning on more than one trip per year with them and you’re travelling with the same person, then yes. They also do a group membership for €59.99 where the member + 5 companions get discounts so if you often travel as a family or social group, it’s definitely worth looking into.

The flight itself was more than fine. Wizz Air has a very similar offering to Ryanair so sure, it’s not luxury, but for the price you really can’t complain.

As we were travelling in the winter, we decided to add on one 20kg suitcase which cost £59 – ouch. However, as well as helping to keep us warm with the numerous jumpers packed inside, it also made financial sense as I was able to pack some food bits and towels that we’d later get charged to hire at the geothermal pools.

CAR HIRE

I usually jump straight onto Skyscanner yet I quickly realised that it wasn’t bringing up any local rental companies. Some googling later, I found Northbound who consistently offered the cheapest prices.

Northbound are a broker, so they’ll scour a whole host of local companies to bring you the best price.

As we were there during some pretty icy weather, we definitely needed a 4×4 and I quickly found a Suzuki Jimmy for just £156 for 6 days. At just £26 a day, I think that’s unreal value!

One tip – if you’re searching from the airport, make sure to change your pickup destination to their local office as this can often save you even more money.

On arriving at Keflavik Airport (that’s Reykjavik’s international airport), we looked out for our name on a board and were greeted by a very friendly fella from Lava Rentals. Two minutes later, we were in their minibus and five minutes after that, at their Keflavik office.

We lucked out being the first to be served at the desk (there were around four people behind me) and five minutes later we were in our car and ready to go.

We were honestly so impressed with speed and efficiency of the people at Lava Rentals and would definitely recommend the whole process!

It is worth saying that I reached out to the folk at Northbound asking for more info after noting their cheap costs, and they gave us a Dacia Duster. Lava Rentals show this model online at £40 a day but I bet you could find it cheaper via Northbound‘s site.

All in all, we saved around £60 by booking with them over Skyscanner. NOT TOO SHABBY PALS!

SUPERMARKET COSTS

Finding cheap flights and a cheap car was simple enough, but I quickly realised that if one thing was going to catch me out, it was going to be the cost of food on the road.

I knew that we’d be cooking most of our meals but I was nervous about the prices and whilst I’d watched numerous videos about what to expect, I did feel that this area could be my downfall.

My top tips here are to:

  • Make a food plan at home
  • Work out what you can bring from home (small packets of salt, pepper, etc.)
  • Make a list of everything you need to buy

List in hand, we rocked up to the Netto which was just 400m from the hire car company. The other budget supermarkets are Kronan and Bonus – the latter being undeniably the cheapest – yet as we were fast approaching 9pm, Netto was one of the few places still open.

This is what we ended up buying in our first big shop:

ItemQuanitityISKGBP
Beef mince500g936£5.99
Bags140£0.26
Tortellini pasta1 pack498£3.19
Frozen pizza575g679£4.35
Semi skimmed milk1 litre182£1.16
Orange juice1.5 litre299£1.91
Heinz baked beans400g can99£0.63
Heinz baked beans400g can99£0.63
Red kidney beans in chilli400g can189£1.21
Fusili pasta500g199£1.27
Schwepps tonic2 litre339£2.17
Ham1 pack (6 slices)309£1.98
Sour cream and onion crisps165g pack230£1.47
Spring onionBunch205£1.31
Iceberg lettuceHalf (220kg)94£0.60
Bread1 loaf 820g479£3.07
Coca cola1 litre239£1.53
Salad tomatoes365kg127£0.81
Carrots500g389£2.49
Onions635g98£0.63
Potaotes1.15kg277£1.77
Strawberries250g579£3.71
Chopped tomatoes400g can179£1.15
Chopped tomatoes400g can179£1.15
Red pepper200g96£0.61
Mystery item I can’t rememberN/A156£1.00
Bananas4 (740g)181£1.16
Leek1 (400g)144£0.92
Lemon(1) 190g64£0.41
Lime(1) 95g46£0.29
Lime(1) 90g43£0.28
Skyr yoghurt500g277£1.77
Butter400g459£2.94
Eggs10 pack498£3.19
TOTALS.8907£57.00

Overall, I was super pleased by how affordable most things were. Yes, a little pricier than normal but no where near as bad as I had built it up in my head! I also could not believe that Heinz baked beans were cheaper there than in the UK – MADNESS!!!

The list definitely helped and I found this particular Netto (this one!) had a really good range of items. Everything I looked for, I found!


A great start to the trip – and the money saving – but how will we fare further down the line??!


Catch up on the rest of the road trip:

Day 1you’re reading this now!
Day 2The Golden Circle and staying in a luxury, designer home for £27 a night
Day 3Waterfalls, glaciers and black sand beaches on Iceland’s stunning south coast
Day 4 – Escaping the tourists on Iceland’s beautiful Eastern coastal roads

the ultimate checklist for finding cheap flights

Finding a cheap flight is a complex beast.

One time it may be a 10 minute job, the next you may spend hours going round in circles, feeling like you’re the main character in a heist movie.

Attention!

This post is a little epic (Homer eat your heart out) as I wanted to compile all the information in one place so I definitely recommend saving for when you’re about to book and then clicking on the scenario that’s most relevant for you:

The first five are fairly straightforward but the latter is my ultimate checklist.

This is something I’ve added to over the years and that I use to squeeze out extra deals. It’s literally all my trade secrets in ONE PLACE 🙈😂

So if you’re somewhat travel savvy already, then I’d head straight there.

Unless, like me, you love this kind of thing, this is a bit of a long read and so remember to bookmark or pin this article so that you can pop back when booking any flights in the future.

Pin me on Pinterest!

This post does include some affiliate links. They won’t boost the price for you, but they will help me to continue running this site!


Before we get cracking, here’s a few things to bear in mind off the bat:

  • Always do your searches in private or incognito mode so that sites don’t inflate prices that you’ve searched repeatedly. This isn’t always needed, but it doesn’t hurt to use it as standard.
  • If you’re spending more than £100 per ticket, always book on a credit card as you’ll have payment protection if the seller goes bust, or the product isn’t as described

Scenario One

WHEN YOU’RE FLEXIBLE ON DATES AND DESTINATION

Option one:

  • Head to Skyscanner, type in your departure airport, click on ‘whole month’ and then select ‘cheapest month’ for your dates
    • You can also type in just your city, e.g. ‘London’ or country, e.g. ‘United Kingdom’, and tick ‘add nearby airports’ for even more options
    • If you’re overwhelmed by results, try selecting whole months instead
    • Good to know: Skyscanner vets all of the travel agents they use and monitor them closely.
Screenshot 2019-02-20 at 16.52.58

Option two:

  • Similar to Skyscanner, you can use Kayak’s flight page to search ‘Anywhere’, however more fun is their ‘explore‘ function which can be accessed by clicking on ‘explore’ in the homepage’s menu (this may be hidden in ‘more’) and pop in your date range and duration
    • Here you’ll gain a map view of potential destinations which is a great visual tool!
    • (Skyscanner actually has a map view too but… I prefer Kayak!)
Kayak

Option three:

  • Head to Ryanair’s Fare Finder – yes, you can only search their flights but the search options are AMAZING. If only all sites had this functionality!
  • First things first, get past the initial page as you can really tailor your search on the next page
  • What I love is that not only can you search ‘anywhere’ and ‘anytime’, but you can also look at the next 3 months and, my favourite, date ranges!

Option four:

Lastly:

  • Before booking, check your chosen flights on momondo – sometimes they’ll find cheaper prices, though this tends to be for long haul flights
    • momondo seem a bit more relaxed on the travel agents they use (hence, the greater range of prices!) so if you’re feeling nervous, check their rating on trustpilot

Scenario Two

WHEN YOU’RE FLEXIBLE ON DATES BUT KNOW THE DESTINATION

Option one:

  • Head to Google Flights, type in your destination and click ‘reset’ on the dates to reveal a calendar that clearly shows you the best prices
  • Don’t worry if you don’t know your trip duration, the calendar shows all options so just ignore this at the bottom
  • What is fantastic about Google Flights is that once you’ve selected your dates, you can also add in a range of filters including bags, stops and times that really help when you need to be specific.
  • It also suggest tips, such as the fact you can fly the same route Premium for £753.
  • Google Flights is amazing for spotting patterns of when cheap flights land however, they often do not show the cheapest prices so once you have your dates, remember to check against Skyscanner and momondo

Option two:

  • Head to Skyscanner, type in your intended destination, click on ‘whole month’ and then select ‘cheapest month’, or, if you know what month you’d like to travel, select that instead
Skyscanner Destination
  • Similarly, you can try Kayak’s flight page which allows you some flexibility on your dates but personally, I prefer Skyscanner’s offering
  • However, there is a weekend option which is good for finding those annual leave friendly flights
  • Also, I really like the explore option that allows you to search a map
  • The explore function also has a ‘holidays’ option that lets you search school holiday dates

Lastly:

  • Once more, before you book, do check your chosen flights on momondo as you may be able to get a cheaper deal here

Scenario Three

WHEN YOU’RE FLEXIBLE ON DESTINATION BUT KNOW YOUR DATES

Option one:

  • Head to Skyscanner, type in ‘everywhere’, and then pop in your dates
Skyscanner flex dest

Option two:

  • Head to Kayak and peruse their explore function to visualise where you could go on a map!

Lastly:

  • Again, remember to whack in your chosen details into momondo as you may save a few bob using this site

Scenario Four

WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR DATES AND THE DESTINATION

Option one:

  • Head to Google Flights, fill in what you want and use their clever filters to navigate the best price once you’ve added all your preferences – check in bags, departure times, stops, etc.
  • This is handy as other search engines may only allow you to search these extras once you’ve selected a flight and so if a particular airline has a cheap fare but an astronomical price for luggage, you’ll be able to spot that using Google easier
  • Once you have this knowledge, or if you simply want the cheapest of the cheap, head on over to Skyscanner and momondo to double and triple check the costs

Lastly:

  • As flight prices can go up and down, it can be sometimes difficult to gauge if you’re getting it for the cheapest price possible. Whilst there’s a lot of theories about when is the best time to book, on a Sunday for example, but it often comes down to market demand – which can be very hard to plot!
  • However, a more scientific way to gauge this is using apps and the Hopper app uses stats to tell you whether to pounce or wait it out
  • I’ve used the app for over a year now and I will admit that I have totally ignored it’s warnings, and gone on to find cheaper flights, HOWEVER, what it is very good for is flagging when you’ve found a KILLER deal – particularly on long haul
  • I’ve also picked up that in general, the closer you get to the date of departure, the more expensive it’s going to get. Just because a flight isn’t sold out, doesn’t mean they’re going to flog the seats for cheap. I once paid £355 (okay fine, work paid) for a last minute flight to Luxembourg and when I got on board, there were only 10 other people on it!

You still with me? Good. Because now is the time to reveal all those little tricks I’ve picked up over the years that can save you hundreds of pounds.

They won’t all work for your specific trip, but what I hope they’ll do is help you develop alternative methods that will not only help you save money, but make you feel like a TOTAL TRAVEL GURU!


Here we go.

THE ULTIMATE CHEAP FLIGHT CHECKLIST

  • Find your accommodation first
    • Well. This isn’t what you expected, was it? But before we get down to the nitty gritty, I wanted to just pop my head up and go ‘yes cheap flights are brilliant and all that but…’ – do not let a cheap flight distract you from the fact that accommodation tends to be the biggest cost when going away.
    • SO. Do have a look at that first because if it means paying an extra £50 for your flight, it will be well worth it if your accommodation is £300 cheaper for that period
  • Top tip: It can be hard to find when hotels are cheap so why not look at Airbnb instead? Whilst there’s lots of choose from, I recommend their ‘Plus‘ range (the creme de la creme of Airbnbs) or try googling ‘best Airbnbs in New York‘ (replace with city of choice, obvs). These places do get booked up quicker but you can use their availability calendar as a starter for dates, and have the peace of mind that you’re staying somewhere lush
  • Oh go on have another tip: the Airbnb app displays the prices in a calendar format but the website doesn’t so definitely get that bad boy downloaded for the easiest way to see prices

OKAY I’M READY TO CHAT FLIGHTS NOW.

  • Check nearby airports
    • Sometimes ticking ‘search for nearby airports’ isn’t enough – you need to manually search for alternative airports
    • For example, did you know that you can reach Birmingham International airport for as little as £7 and it’s only 1 hour and 10 minutes away from London?
    • I used this trip when I needed to find a cheap flight from New York to Miami. Everything was so expensive, but then I discovered that I could fly from Long Island (just over an hour’s train away from NYC) for just £30! I saved myself so much money.
  • Book a multi-city trip to fly from/return to a different airport
    • Travel jargon alert – when you fly from and back from different airports, this is called an open jaw flight
    • If your flight is coming up pricey, it may be that one of your legs is much more expensive than the other. Therefore, why not look to see if you could swap the pricey one to/from a different location?
    • I did this when flying to a wedding in Perugia. The flight out was £30 – SOUND AS A POUND LAD – but the flight back was £270. WITH RYANAIR. I was horrified. So instead, I looked at other Italian airports within a two hour radius and not only did I find a flight back from Rome for less than half the price, it was also BUSINESS CLASS 💁‍♀️💁‍♀️💁‍♀️ (could literally not be more smug).
    • What’s more, the train from Perugia to Rome was a chilled two hour £10 trundle through the Italian countryside with a bottle of prosecco. As I said. Smug AF.
  • Turn your connection into another destination with multi-city
    • Does your long haul flight have a stop? Then why not turn that stop into another destination?
    • Using the multi-city function, enter the flight details that you’ve been presented with flight by flight but instead of a measly 3 hour stopover, change the date so that you can spend some time in that destination instead.
    • So often this will cost the same, or even, if you’re lucky, even cheaper!!
  • Flying to an International hub? Super serve your holiday by adding another destination!
    • If your destination also happens to be one of the world’s largest airports – think Atlanta, Beijing, Dubai and Los Angeles – there could be a chance you could add on another destination for not much more
    • I wrote a blog post about how you can super serve a trip to Dubai by adding in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Vietnam for less than £100
  • If flying to multiple destinations, try flying with the same airline
    • You can get a cracking deal by flying multi-city, but often only if you’re flying with the same airline
    • Why not check out where else the airline you’re flying with goes to and try adding that in a multi-city search
  • If flying with multiple airlines, try booking your flights individually
    • Got a connection and then continuing with another airline? Try popping the flights into multi-city and also individually as one way trips, just to check you’re getting the best possible deal
  • Flying one way? Try searching for a return
    • Yep – sometimes it’s cheaper to purchase a return flight than just one way. Madness.
  • Searching for two people? Try searching individually
    • There may be one ticket left at the cheapest price, so check how much it would cost if you selected the tickets individually in case it adds up to less
    • You could also try booking the cheap rate simultaneously – but most websites won’t be fooled that easily!
  • Not travelling on your own? Make sure you’ve changed your search to reflect it
    • It can be easy to search for prices on the preset of ‘1 adult’, but strangely, you can sometimes get cheaper rates when you’re booking more than one ticket so give that a go too
  • Go on a holiday someone else can no longer make
    • Transfer travel is a site that lets you book unwanted holidays and the great news is that the price you see INCLUDES the name change fees
    • There’s flights, hotels, package deals and even bus and train fares on here!
    • I also really like that some people tell you why they can no longer go – one fella lamented that it was intended as a romantic getaway but they’d unfortunately broken up… 🙈😬🤣
    • I haven’t used this site yet, so can’t vouch for it, but I am SO INTRIGUED
  • Go for a dump
    • I mean a FUEL DUMP obviously (I’m 29 and in desperate need of a better sense of humour)
    • As well as referring to when a plane needs to dispose of fuel, the secret meaning is when you have a connecting flight, but you sack off the last flight and leave halfway through
    • For example, you may find a cracking deal from Inverness (oddly, Inverness often gets airfares cheaper than the rest of the country!!) but you could do with jumping out at London Heathrow on the way back
  • Well, you could technically do this as long as you didn’t check in any luggage
    • Now, this is FROWNED UPON but it’s very unlikely that an airline would take action about you not turning up for your final flight (though some have!) since people miss them all the time, but definitely read up on it before you do this
    • Skipplagged is site that exploits this, though they’re pretty US centric
    • It’s definitely worth saying that you cannot join a flight midway through – you can only ‘dump’ the final leg!
  • Check the departures and arrivals board of your wanted destination
    • If you know exactly where you want to go, it’s definitely worth checking to see what flights are coming in and out. This is because new airlines, or new routes, can sometimes take a while to filter through
    • I saw this recently when looking for flights for a friend travelling to Shenzhen in China. Neither Skyscanner or momondo showed me that a new route served by Shenzhen Airlines was a whopping £300 cheaper than the direct options they were giving me (they are finally coming up in the search results now!)
  • Try foreign search engines
    • Search engines local to the destinations you’re heading may be able to offer you a better a deal – but remember to book with a card that doesn’t charge you a foreign transaction fee
    • When travelling around Vietnam, I came across Baolau‘s search engine and not only did it offer train fares, it consistently offered plane fares for less money than the likes of Skyscanner – and having just checked, it still does!
    • Baolau also works if you’re travelling around China, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines or Indonesia
  • Try booking in a currency that’s seen a sudden dip in value
    • This is quite a new tip I’ve heard about but I like it in theory! The thought is that if a currency dips, you could try to book a flight in said currency and save a lot due to the conversion rates
    • It’s likely that airlines will be across this, but if you’re quick, you might just catch them out!
    • Of course, remember that when booking in a currency different from your own, you may incur a foreign transaction fee so check what rates you have on the card you’re purchasing with!
  • Check business class
    • Now this sounds WILD I know, but sometimes, just sometimes, someone makes a blunder and you might find a better class of seat for the same or less money – it’s happened to me ONCE where it was £25 cheaper to fly business than economy with British Airways. Absolute insanity mate.
The best thing about business class? THE LOUNGE.
  • Double check how much it would cost you to upgrade
    • Often, you can only select different classes for a return journey if you’re booking direct with the airline (which often costs you more that third party travel agents) however, do double check as I once missed a £100 upgrade to Premium Economy when booking with TravelUp (booked via Skyscanner) for a 12 HOUR FLIGHT from Mexico City which I wasn’t allowed to add on after purchase
    • When I got to the check in desk, they said it would cost me £800 to upgrade. I was FEWMIN’
  • Check vouchers and promo codes
    • Now, money off and promo codes aren’t the norm when it comes to booking flights but some third parties, such as opodo, do often flaunt these from time to time so it can be worth a quick google
  • Book an error fare
    • An error fare is exactly that – when someone makes a f*ck up and you reap the benefits
    • You can technically find these yourself but it will take a lot of man hours without the certainty of finding a deal so instead, take a look at the sites listed next who will flag error fares as and when they arise
    • Also heed their advice on booking them – they’re not always honoured!
  • Check Secret Flying
    • Secret Flying is my FAVOURITE website when it comes to a place that compiles the best deals, open jaw flights, error fares – the works! The only problem is that there is just too much on there 😂
    • What’s more, most of their deals are completely free to access
    • My tip would be to sign up for daily emails as you can choose your departure location
    • Also, the search options on their website is pretty helpful
  • Sign up for Jack’s Flight Club
    • Jack’s Flight Club also compiles the best deals out there. There’s a free option that will get you one or two deals a week, but as a paid member (which I’ve been for three years running – it costs £35 a year), you’ll get sent ALL the deals and lists of weekend friendly flights
    • What I will say is that I will rarely see a deal via Jack’s Flight Club that I haven’t then seen for free on Secret Flying, HOWEVER, they do send you an email as and when the deal is found and since you have to react quite quickly to them, I do find this really convenient
    • If you’re on Three, there’s currently a 30 day free trial for the premium service on their rewards app, wuntu, but remember to set a reminder to cancel
  • Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights
    • Scott’s Cheap Flights is a similar offering to Jack’s Flight Club.
    • I’m not a paying member of this one so alas, I cannot comment further!
  • Check Airfare Watchdog
    • Airfare Watchdog is yet another option, but if you’re searching for that particular flight, it may be worth checking in with what offers they’ve got there as well – JUST IN CASE
  • In general, I find that once one group reports a cheap deal or error fare, they all start circulating it so don’t be overwhelmed by the choices. Perhaps choose just two and check those more often
  • Seen a great deal but it doesn’t fit your dates?
    • All these cheap flight groups are amazing but they may not list all available dates or, if they do, they may have missed one
    • Head to Google Flights and add in the locations and dates that have been given as an example
    • Do not worry if Google Flights aren’t showing the same cheap price – this is normal, as you tend to get the best prices by checking with other websites
    • However, what Google Flights is amazing for is spotting the patterns. So, if the example dates are showing up as say, £400, you can then hit ‘reset’ on the dates, scroll through the calendar and look for other £400 dates
    • Then, whack those newly found dates into Skyscanner and momondo and hopefully they’ll also show the same bargainous price!
  • In general, I find that once one group reports a cheap deal or error fare, they all start circulating it so don’t be overwhelmed by the choices. Perhaps choose just two and check those more often
  • Need a specific fare? Set price alerts
    • If you’ve already download the Hopper (the app that uses stats to give you hints on when to book) and have decided to wait it out, it’s worth setting price alerts on the routes you’re after
    • On Skycanner, you can find this to the right labelled as ‘Get Price Alerts’ after you’ve made your initial search
    • They’ll then email you when prices change – be that up, or down
  • Need bags? Know the airlines that offer them for free/cheap
    • With more and more airlines (we’re looking at you, Virgin and BA) offering fares without bags, if you need to add in some luggage, that cheap rate may not be so cheap after all
  • Google Flights allows you to add in carry on bags to your search
    • Otherwise, keep scrolling through your results on the lookout for an airline that offers bags as standard.
    • A few to look out for are Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Etihad
  • Whilst on the face of it, Ryanair has one of the worst baggage policies since they only allow you a small personal item on board HOWEVER, you can make it work for you since you can add a 10kg piece of checked luggage from £10 each way (used to be just £8 – the scoundrels!)
  • Ignore the ‘upgrade to plus’ nonsense, select a basic/standard fare and on the next page, you’ll be give further bag options
  • This means that from just £20 return, you can go wild on 100ml+ products and even pack a bottle of voddy (no?? Just me???)
  • easyJet also offer a ‘Hands Free’ service where you pay £6 (or £14 for a group of 3 to 6 people) to drop your cabin bag at an easyJet Bag Drop before security – where you’ll receive a tote bag for the items you’ll need on the flight
  • The idea behind this is that you don’t have to drag a case around with you but the total winner is that since it’s BEFORE security, you can have liquids over 100ml in there
  • What’s more, your bags will be tagged as ‘priority’ so will be out first
  • If you have a Pay Monthly deal with Three, you can currently get this service for free but only for the flight departing the UK
  • Bag Drop is not available on all flights so check and book ahead!
  • Lastly, if you’re flying from London, it may be worth checking British Airway’s Holiday Finder as they offer a free checked bag for all flight + hotel deals (they also have a really fun search engine that lets you search destinations by temperature!)
  • Check British Airway’s Holiday Finder
    • As mentioned above, not only do you get a free checked bag if you book with British Airway’s Holiday Finder, you can also get a cracking deal
    • A few times I have found the price of the entire deal to be cheaper than the flight alone –  winner – however, do always check the costs individually because on the flip side, you could end up paying more
    • As well, you can pay just a deposit on bookings over £300 from £75 per person
  • Check package deals
    • Now, I love making life hard for myself so I’m not always a huge package deal fan BUT, after my mate managed to blag flights and a five night stay in a 4 star New York hotel for just £600, I realised that I was probably missing out on a cracking deal or two
    • My favourite place to check is lastminute.com
  • Buy a ’round the world’ ticket
    • Genuinely thought these only existed in 50’s fiction but no, they are indeed a real thing!
    • Skyscanner have done an impressive job of summarising here and have given these following reasons for why you should book one of these rather than doing it yourself via multi-city:
      • Your trip is less than a year
      • You’re not bothered about flying with budget airlines (like Ryanair or AirAsia)
      • You have a set travel plan
      • You’re buying tickets on behalf of a group or family
      • You’re part of a frequent flier programme and collect miles and perks
  • Get a free upgrade – sign up for frequent flyer programmes
    • Now, I wish I could tell you how to nail this but alas, the last time I got a free upgrade was 13 years ago – BLIMEY!
    • However, one thing you must do is sign up for the frequent flyer programmes. Not only will you collect points (that one day may equal prizes in the form of free flights), but you’re just giving yourself that boost up for being selected for a free upgrade
    • Obviously, you’ll be up against all the frequent flyers but HEY, this is a very free way to get your foot on the ladder!
  • Fly for free with points
    • Now, I’m not the best person to talk about collecting miles as I’m a total floozy and will cast aside all brand loyalty to save money
    • However, there are credit cards out there that will reward you with free miles but first things first – DO NOT GET ONE UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY IT BACK MONTHLY
    • As someone who’s not so good with money, I was wary of this so ended up signing up for the American Express Gold card (I’m not gonna link to these as I do not want to encourage anyone to get into debt!) because it is in fact a charge card rather than a credit card meaning that I HAD to pay it off every single month
    • I got 10,000 points by spending (and paying off) £1k in 3 months and with my spending throughout the rest of the year, I earned another 15,000 points which I transferred out to Virgin miles
    • These were the very ones I used recently to upgrade to premium economy for £78 when flying to LA, which would have cost me £800 otherwise
    • So yes, it can work, but be wary and check additional fees
  • Top tip: If you travel by train a lot for work or fun, always book with Virgin Trains as you can add in your frequent flyer number and earn airmiles!
  • Another top tip: Shop with Tesco? You can turn your clubcard points into points too!
  • Is there another form of transport cheaper?

Right. I need a bloody drink. And so do you if you’ve got to the end of that.

Overall, I hope that’s given you some ideas about how you can make your money go further when it comes to booking flights.

Got any more tips? I’d bloody LOVE to hear them so please comment below.

And remember to let me know if you use any of these so that I can holiday vicariously though you all!

Learnt something new? Amazing! If you’d like to say ‘thanks’, you can do so by sharing this post, and by following me on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter!

the future of how many holidays

I’ve had A LOT of fun embarking on cheap travels for the last two years but what’s next for this channel? Will my cheap travels continue?

Well, I sure hope so. But to keep on going, I’d love your help to spread the word of this channel! And if you’re not subscribed already, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR PAL?!

In return, I promise to upload more. Let’s give this a proper bash, eh?

how expensive is a weekend in warsaw? | vlog

Visiting Poland can be super cheap but what about its capital, Warsaw? Well, we decided to try our best to wine, dine and get cultured with a budget of just £100 each.

Could this be the most affordable European city break EVERRRR??!!

Important to note that we didn’t change our normal holidaying habits to keep this under budget because we wanted to show just how much it would cost to go, explore and enjoy a few treats.

san francisco road trip to napa & yosemite on a budget

I’ve just realised I never posted the link to my latest video!

What started out as a work trip to Istanbul and LA (I make radio docs for those of you who don’t know!) turned into an amazing getaway to Napa and Yosemite in California.

Now, with work paying for my flights, that was all taken care of but as for the day to day… Jeez. What happened to the days when the US was a cheap destination? It was PRICEY! Yet, we still managed to find a way to do it for less…