cheap school holiday getaways for families, teachers and groups

For this week’s holiday hotline, I decided to tackle a very hot topic: cheap summer holidays.

For teachers, families, or those wanting to just make the most of the summer weather, I know it really can be difficult to bag a bargain.

So, for this hotline I’m going to go through six different things – which you can click on to jump to if you don’t fancy a long read (if you do, grab a cuppa!)

NAVIGATION

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Top tips for cheap summer holidays

  • Book your flights sooner rather than later

Long gone are the days when you could rock up to the airport on the day and ask for a cheap flight. The stats show that flights costs almost always go up in the last week before travel – and that’s before even taking into account travelling at peak times.

The fact is that the summer holidays are always going to be popular travel times and so waiting for the price to drop is always going to be a tricky game.

My advice is if the price is an ‘typical to lower’ than the average cost, then book knowing that you will have spent less than more than half of the people on your flight.

You can find this out by popping your flights into Google Flights, selecting them and looking out for their helpful price bar (though remember to check the flights on Skyscanner too as they can often be even cheaper!).

Hopper is also a good app that uses stats to predict whether it’s the right time to book.

  • Book a hotel with a good cancellation policy and then check for last minute deals

The good news is that it is still possible to score a last minute deal when it comes to your accommodation – hotels do not like leaving rooms empty and so last minute price slashes are known even in peak times.

However, there is an element of risk here and so a good way to get around that is to book a hotel with a good cancellation policy early. Some hotels will offer this as standard.

Then, closer to your holiday you can scour to check for last minute bargains and cancel your original booking if you find a deal.

  • Book a holiday rental instead of a hotel

Whether it’s an apartment or villa with pool, the great thing about a holiday rental is how much money you can save by buying food, drinks and snacks for the duration of your stay!

  • If you want an Airbnb or villa, book early

Whilst many owners do higher their costs for peak times, some just have a basic rate that runs across the whole year. However, to find these cheap deals you’re going to have to get in and book early before someone else does.

And remember, if you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can get £25 off your first booking here!

  • Check more sites than just Airbnb

Hometogo searches lots of holiday rental websites, including Airbnb and it’s also worth checking out other websites such as Oliver’s Travels, Booking.com, Canopy and Stars and Sykes Holiday Cottages.

  • If you want an Airbnb or villa and have left it late, get ready to haggle!

Similar to hotels, Airbnb hosts don’t want their place going empty so put an offer in instead!.

Read my full guide on how to haggle on Airbnb here – there’s even a template email to send!

  • Booking a package holiday? Do it yourself for less!

One of my favourite things to do is to use package holiday sites as a springboard for my own searching. If they’re advertising a mega deal, before you hit ‘click’, have a search for the flights on Skyscanner and accommodation on Trivago to see if you could do it cheaper – often you can!

What I also like about this is that it’s a simple way to discover cheaper flights to popular destinations and then you could always swap out their chosen hotel for something more you, or perhaps even a villa or an apartment.

Do bear in mind that if you’re booking your flight and accommodation separately you will not get the ATOL or ABTA insurance offered by most package holiday companies so make sure you’ve got travel insurance and buy on a credit card or a visa debit card for added payment protection on purchases over £100. Read up on more ways to protect yourself here.

  • House sit for free accommodation

Did you know that you can bag free accommodation by looking after someone’s house, watering their plants or even feeding their pets? I’ve done it twice and it is amazing.

  • Get your flights for the cheapest price possible

Use my cheap flight checklist and find the scenario that best fits your getaway!

There’s also a list of alternative ways to whittle down that price at the end too.

  • Get £25 off by booking with cashback

This isn’t supposed to be part of the work I’ve been recently doing with Quidco but I thought I would highlight here that you can get a £25 bonus plus cashback by signing up to Quidco and spending £250 on travel before 9th Feb 2020 by using this link.

  • Visit a non traditional summer holiday destination

Yes, I’m sure you’d to relax at the beach but if you’re really after a great value holiday, I’d recommend heading inland or to a city. As there’s less demand for these destinations, you could end up finding a much better deal and just because it’s not by the sea doesn’t mean you can’t score yourself a hotel with a pool!

  • Fly inland and travel to the coast another way

If you’re really gagging for that beach holiday try flying inland instead – big capital cities that aren’t on the coast are normally a good shout as there’s lots of flights going there – and then look at either taking the train or driving to the coast.

Whilst not a beach destination, we once took a 2 hour train in Italy to get between Rome and Perugia and it cost just £10 each and was a lush way to travel (though that may have something to do with the bottle of prosecco we took on board…)

  • Pack light

The great thing about summer holidays is that it’s warm and you really don’t need to pack much. Make a clothes plan before you go away and stick to it. Use a big fabric backpack (this is what I use) that you’ll be able to use for flights with even the crappest allowances. If travelling in a group, book a suitcase between you for liquids if you really need them or order your liquids through click and collect at a Boots after security. Yep, THIS IS A THING!

I used to pack LOADS but now I love going travelling light – give it ago on your next holiday!

  • Not sure where you’re going to go? Use clever search engine tools

When you just want to get away, there are loads of search engine hacks that can help you spot a cheaper fare.

My favourite is the Ryanair fare finder which allows you to select date ranges. DREAMY.

WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE ELSE DO THIS??!!

Other search engines have great tools but a lot of them clump your searches into month blocks. This can be really helpful for August, but not in July when you only want to search for school holiday dates and the cheapest prices will obviously be those outside of that.

Here’s one way you can kind of hack your way around it – though it’s a bit long winded!

Kayak let’s you search for ‘anywhere’ and they also allow you state the duration of your trip – LOVE IT as it allows flexibility.

They also make out that you can search for 4 weeks around your selected date but it’s a lie mate.

Once you click search it forgets that date and then you can only select a whole month to search.

WHY ARE YOU TEASING US KAYAK?!!

However, I did find this helpful…

Once you’ve selected a destination, look to the right as this graph does allow you to toggle through the trip duration and you can spot where the cheaper prices will lie.

But then again, if you know what destination you want, you’ll also get this from the banging calendar view on Google Flights!

Google Flights also have a clever search tool that allows you to search for weekends, weeks and two week return flights in a certain month (though annoyingly we’re note quite at the summer holidays yet!).

On the homepage, leave your destination blank, click search, and then click into the dates and toggle over to ‘flexible dates’.

And as always, check your flights on Skyscanner before you book.

Skyscanner also allow you to search for ‘everywhere’ in a certain month but I’d like to see some more options from these guys in the future!


The Request

This week’s holiday hotline is a culmination of a few people asking for cheap summer holidays so I’m going to show you some of the deals I’ve rustled up for couples, families and groups of mates.

Remember, if you want to be involved with the next holiday hotline, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram.


Cheap summer flights from all over the UK

Before I give you some solid holiday options, here’s some cheap flights from all over the UK that might intrigue you but remember – check the accommodation prices before you hit buy on those cheap flights!

From London

Berlin, Germany – 5 nights – Weds 19th Aug – Mon 24th Aug – £58 each
Ibiza, Spain – 4/5 nights – Sat 8th Aug – Thu 13th Aug – £60 each
Nice, France – 7 nights – Tues 28th July – Tues 4th Aug – £67 each
Budapest, Hungary – 7 nights – Tues 18th Aug – Tues 25th Aug – £86 each
Seville, Spain – 7 nights – Thurs 6th Aug – Tues 11th Aug – £86 each
Porto, Portugal – 5 nights – Sun 26th July – Fri 31st July – £102 each
Luqa, Malta – 9 nights – Tues 21st July – Thu 30th July – £106 each
Faro, Portugal – 7 nights – Tues 28th July – Tues 4th Aug – £115 each

From Manchester

Copenhagen, Denmark – 5 nights – Wed 22nd July – Mon 27th July – £41 each
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Mon 17th Aug – £48 each
Prague, Czechia – 7 nights – Thu 6th Aug – Thu 13th Aug – £80 each
Lisbon, Portugal – 7 nights – Thu 20th Aug – Thu 27th Aug – £107 each
Barcelona, Spain – 5 nights – Sat 15th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £110 each
Luqa, Malta – 7 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Thu 20th Aug –£130 each
Malaga, Spain – 8 nights – Wed 12th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £136 each

From Cardiff

Dublin, Ireland – 7 nights – Wed 5th Aug – Wed 12th Aug – £58 each
Paris, France – 5 nights – Fri 7th Aug – Wed 12 July – £112 each
Malaga, Spain – 7 nights – Wed 22nd July – Wed 29th July – £118 each

From Edinburgh

Milan, Italy – 7 nights – Sun 16th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug – £75 each
Munich, Germany – 7 nights – Mon 3rd Aug – Mon 10th Aug – £76 each
Girona, Spain – 7 nights Sun 16th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug – £97 each
Faro, Portugal – 12 nights – Sun 23rd Aug – Weds 2nd Sep – £105 each
Dubrovnik, Croatia – 7 nights – Thu 13th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £114 each

From BelfasT

Amsterdam, Netherlands – 7 nights – Sun 9th Aug – Sun 16th Aug – £73 each
Luqa, Malta – 7 nights – Tues 25th Aug – Tue 1st Sep – £75 each
Krakow, Poland – 7 nights – Thu 13th Aug – Thu 20th Aug – £124 each
Venice, Italy – 7 nights – Mon 27th July – Mon 3rd Aug – £156 each

From Leeds

Dublin, Ireland – 7 nights – Sun 26th July – Sun 2nd Aug – £44 each
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5 nights – Sat 25th July – Thu 30th July – £94 each
Limoges, France – 7 nights – Thu 23rd July – Thu 30th July – £112 each
Pisa, Italy – 7 nights – Fri 14th Aug – Fri 21st Aug – £118 each

Hopefully that will give you some ideas but let’s put a few of them into motion to show what cheap accommodation you could find as well.


Cheap summer holidays for couples

THE HOLIDAY

Berlin is a great example of non-traditional summer holiday destination that’s a lot of fun in the warmer months.

James and I went last August and had the best time zipping about the city of e-scooters, drinking bottles of beer out in the sunshine and even travelling out to one of the many lakes Berlin brags on its outskirts.

What’s more, there are loads of great 4 star hotels available for around £60 a night – even in the summer – though do check whether there will be aircon. Ours didn’t have any initially and it was SO WARM!

FLIGHTS

London to Berlin, Germany
Weds 19th Aug – Mon 24th Aug
£57 each

ACCOMODATION

Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz
4 star
£59 a night / £147.50 each for 5 nights

What’s more, if you book with Quidco you can earn 8.4% cashback if you book with a credit card, as well as qualifying for the bonus £25 back if you sign up with this link.

TOTAL

Without cashback – £204.50 each for 5 nights
With cashback and bonus – £179.61 each for 5 nights


Cheap summer holidays for families

THE HOLIDAY

So, I’m going to show you hear how you can use package holiday sites to find a good deal but then book it yourself to save even more money.

Here’s a week long holiday to Mazagón, a beach town in Andalusia, Spain. The Mazagon hotel has a kids club, entertainment and a pretty bad ass pool (hello pirate ship and slides) and the price per night includes half board which should help keep your daily costs down.

I found this deal on loveholidays which is great website to use if you’re a fan of package holidays as I love the fact you can select multiple departure airports – for this I selected ‘Any North West’ – and that you can select a date but then add up to 5 days flexibility either side.

However, let’s take these details and break it down.

FLIGHTS

Manchester to Seville
Weds 19th Aug to Weds 26th Aug
£97 each / £386 total

HOTEL

By searching on Google Hotels, Trivago and even with the hotel directly, I’ve found the same room for £153 a night with LogiTravel.

TOTAL

The total cost for a family of four comes in at £1460 – that’s £104 cheaper than booking it as a package.

That works out at £365 each.

Again, check out the cashback deal I’ve got running at the moment to earn a bonus £25 plus cashback on the hotel, meaning you’d save £117 pounds bringing the overall total in at £335.75 each.

It is worth noting that booking your holiday as a package can mean you can put down a small deposit (though in this case, LogiTravel also allow you to put down a small deposit for just your hotel) and that you won’t get the same insurance that comes with booking parts of your holiday together.

However, there are some straight forward ways to cover yourself – including buying on a credit or visa debit card and making sure your travel insurance covers insolvency.

You can read up on this here!


Cheap summer holidays for groups

THE HOLIDAY

For our final search, I’m going to show you another way to get a cheaper summer holiday – find the accommodation first!

I find this is especially helpful when you’ve got quite niche requirements, so for this example, here’s what I’m searching for:

  • 24th August for one week (give or take a few days)
  • 6 people
  • At least 3 bedrooms
  • At least 2 bathrooms
  • Hot weather destination
  • Air conditioning
  • Pool

The reasoning behind this is that if you can nail a great price for where you’re staying, you’ll save way more than scoring some cheap flights and then trying to find accommodation that suits.

ACCOMMODATION

So, to search for this I’m going to head over to Airbnb and in the search bar, type ‘Europe’.

I’ll then enter my dates (24th Aug – 31st Aug) and the amount of guests I’m after (6).

Next, I’ll click on ‘Stays’ and on the next screen, will use the filters to finely tune what I’m after.

E.g.

  • Entire place
  • Max budget of £150 a night
  • At least 3 beds
  • At least 3 bedrooms
  • At least 2 bathrooms
  • Air conditioning
  • Pool

Even after all of that, Airbnb is showing me 300+ places to stay so now it’s about using the map to see where may be easy to get to and for a good price.

Almost instantly I find this UNREAL home for an incredibly good price in the south of Spain.

Airbnb
Ribera Baja
Sleeps 12 – 4 bedrooms – 3 bathrooms
£138 a night / £964 total

Get £25 off your first stay

What’s more, the availability on the calendar tells me it’s free from 21st August so we do have some flexibility on dates which will help find the best value flights.

It’s a 2 hours drive from Malaga and a 2.5 hour drive from Seville, so there’s also some flexibility there as well.

FLIGHTS TO MALAGA

Fri 21st Aug – Fri 28th Aug
From London – £141 each

Tues 25th Aug – Tues 1st Sep
From Belfast – £89 each
From Glasgow – £95 each
From Edinburgh – £111 each

FLIGHTS TO SEVILLE

Fri 21st Aug – Fri 28th Aug
From London – £114 each
From Manchester – £152 each

Sat 22nd Aug – Sat 29th Aug
From Edinburgh – £120 each

Mon 24th Aug – Mon 31st Aug
From Manchester – £140 each

Tues 25th Aug – Tues 1st Sep
From Bristol – £116 each

TOTAL

So, if you’re flying from Belfast, this place for six people could be as cheap as £249 each for one week.

BUT, if you were to fill up the place to capacity and have 12 of you staying, it could be as cheap as £214 each!

(Before you question my maths, the price of the Airbnb goes up with the amount of people who stay!)


Phew! That was an epic one! Wanna say thanks?

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Where are the best value places to go as a solo traveller?

On this week’s Holiday Hotline, I noticed a bit of a theme.

Lots of people asking about solo travel.

As someone who travels often with someone else, I take for granted how lucky I am when it comes to costs because being able to split a hotel here, a car hire there, can really help when keeping down the price.

However, with a growing demand for solo travel, it’s about time I put my bargain hunting hat on to share some of my top tips when it comes to holidaying on your own.


New to the Holiday Hotline?

Once a week, I take in your cheap holiday requests over on my Instagram and select one to do a deep dive on.

If you want to be involved in the future, make sure you’re following me and keeping an eye out for my stories.


Top Tips for Cheap Solo Travel

Before we crack on with the specific request at hand, I wanted to whizz though some general top tips that will help you book your next solo trip.

However, make sure you keep on scrolling to see what 3 night holiday you could be going on, on your own, for less than £90!


Destinations

  • Perhaps the most important things to keep in mind… Visit somewhere cheap!

I’m not just talking about cheap flights – they’re a one off cost – I’m on about somewhere that is cheap to stay, eat, drink, do and travel about.

Here’s some of my recommendations:

Please note: the average costs for hotels come from Kayak based on what’s been booked in the last three days – therefore you will definitely be able to find something much cheaper by staying in a basic hotel, hostel or airbnbor just by scoring an unreal deal!

GDAŃSK,
POLAND

Hotel: £47 a night

Inexpensive meal: £5.04

0.5l beer: £1.81

Transport: 65p

Also try: Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Łódź and Warsaw

BUDAPEST,
HUNGARY

Hotel: £67 a night

Inexpensive meal: £5.12

0.5l beer: £1.28

Transport: 90p

Also try: Debrecen, Eger, Lake Balaton, Sopron, Heviz

PORTO,
PORTUGAL

Hotel: £71 a night

Inexpensive meal: £5.98

0.5l beer: £1.71

Transport: £1.07

Also try: Lisbon, Faro, Funchal, The Azores and Olhão

ISTANBUL,
TURKEY

Hotel: £53 a night

Inexpensive meal: £3.92

0.5l beer: £2.61

Transport: 35p

Also try: Antalya, Bodrum, Cappadocia and Ephesus

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Hotel: £45 a night

Inexpensive meal: £1.53

0.5l beer: 38p

Transport: 96p

Also try: Phnom Penh, Koh Rong and Bangkok, Thailand

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Hotel: £78 a night

Inexpensive meal: £3.66

0.5l beer: 95p

Transport: 57p

Also try: Medellin, Bogata and Tayrona National Park


More average daily costs can be found using Numbeo.


Accommodation

  • Look for accommodation first
    This may well turn out to be a bigger cost than your flight so take a look at when there’s good availability first and then get your flight!
  • Change the number of people staying to 1
    Lots of booking sites autofill to 2 people and there are many hotels that do offer a single occupancy discount or single bed rooms
  • Find the cheapest dates to stay
    If you have a hotel in mind, use Google Hotels to scour for the best rates available using their handy calendar view. Then use Trivago to find which site offers the cheapest price
  • Use Trivago to help whittle down the options
    If you’re not so sure where to stay, use Trivago and its handy filters to really nail what you’re after. Always remember to click ‘more deals’ to see the cheapest prices!
  • Stay in a hostel
    If you’re wanting to meet other solo travellers, or just really keep the cost down, hostels are perfect – I recommend using hostelworld and using the filters to sort by best rated
  • Many hostels also offer private rooms if you want to mingle but also have space to yourself
  • Stay in a Bed and Breakfast
    B&Bs are also a great shout and if you’re refining your search by selecting how many stars you want, you can often miss out on these as many aren’t starred like hotels.

    Booking.com has a helpful B&B search section for this!
  • Stay in an Airbnb
    Airbnb has become standard issue when it comes to travel these days and are a great way to cut down daily costs, especially if they come with a kitchen!

    If you haven’t used it before, you can get £25 off your first stay here.
  • The private room option is a great way to keep costs down, still have access to a kitchen (normally!) and be able to have a local on hand to help you out
  • Stay for free
    Did you know that you can bag free accommodation by looking after someone’s house, watering their plants or even feeding their pets? I’ve done it twice and it is amazing.

Flights


Meeting New People

  • Book a group activity
    Solo travel can be amazing but if you, like me, can send yourself a little crazy after too much time alone, then why not plan for a group activity during your trip? It may just be a free walking tour (google whether the place you’re going has one) or a cookery class/hike or food tour!

I’ve used Airbnb Experiences in the past and have always met amazing people along the way. You’ll get money off your first one if you don’t have an Airbnb account already.

  • Book a group tour
    Like meeting new people so much you want to travel with them? There are loads of great tours available which will even pair you up in a room (hello splitting costs). Plus, most tours organise everything for you so you can relax on all the details.

    Tour Radar is a great site that compiles tours from load of different companies.

The Request

Right, let’s put all these tips into action so that we can help out Liam who has asked for:

  • Somewhere photogenic
  • From London or Edinburgh
  • End of Feb/early March
  • 1 person
  • 3/4 days
  • £300 budget

First thoughts

As London tends to be easier to find cheap flights from, I’m going to challenge myself by finding a cheap flight from Edinburgh first and hopefully the London option will come in at around the same cost.


Flights

When there’s no specific destination in mind, it can often be difficult to know where to start so I’m going to show you a really handy trick you can use on Google Flights to help you out.

I discovered this by total accident – I don’t know why they’re not screaming it from the rooftops as it is SO HELPFUL!

Step 1 – Enter your departure airport but leave the destination blank. Don’t worry about what dates are in, just press search.

Step 2 – In front of you will be a list of destinations to the left and a map with prices on the right. You’re going to click on the dates and next to ‘Specific dates’, you’re going to click on ‘Flexible dates’

Step 3 – Now, select what month you’d like to go away in (or you can just select ‘all’) and then select whether you want to go away across a weekend, 1 week or 2 weeks.

For Liam, I’ve selected ‘February’ and ‘Weekend’ and this is what comes up.

ISN’T THAT THE MOST HELPFUL THING EVER?!!

Though make sure to cross check your dates in Skyscanner and Momondo as they can often come up cheaper.

Now, you may be thinking ‘but Liam wanted 3/4 days Chelsea, not 2 and he didn’t specify weekend travel‘ well… You’re right. But as Google Flights is scouring for the cheapest flights across a weekend, most of them do tend to be 3 night stays as 2 nights is often more expensive.

Also, taking less annual leave means more holidays in the future so what’s not to love?!

There are some great options coming up from Edinburgh including:

Warsaw – £23 return
Gothenburg – £23 return
Milan – £32 return
Gdańsk – £33 return
Copenhagen – £48 return
Berlin – £50 return

But in the spirit of keeping daily costs down (and not choosing Poland which I’m sure you’re all sick of me banging on about!), I’ve decided to go for:

Edinburgh to Bratislava
Thu 27th Feb – Sun 1st March
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£38 return

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and I think Liam will definitely be able to find some photogenic spots!

What’s more, with an average inexpensive meal coming in at £5.12, a beer coming in at £1.71 and ticket on the local transport costing only 77p, his money will go really far.

Also, as it’s only 64km from Vienna, it’s very possible to do a day trip to the Austrian capital, or even a twin city break!

You can even catch a boat between the two from 30 euros (though check the site for winter times as they aren’t daily!) or take a train for around £10, or a bus for around £5 via omio.

Now, let’s hope we can find a flight from London for a similar price!

London to Bratislava
Thu 27th Feb – Sun 1st March
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£46 return

So, Liam will get a much fuller schedule if he flies from London but I think it’s fair to say that both prices are looking GREAT.

Now onto the fun bit…


Cheap Bratislava Accommodation

Airbnb
Entire Apartment
£73 for 3 nights

Save £25 on your very first Airbnb here

This highly rated and central Airbnb came in even cheaper than the private room options available. What a bargain!


Boutique Hostel CHORS
Capsule in 10 bed dorm
Breakfast included
£52 for 3 nights

Now, there are plenty of hostels to choose from with beds for £10 a night on hostelworld but I’m a big fan of these new ’boutique hostels’ that are popping up! You can even pay £4 more to stay in a room with just 3 others.


Apollo Hotel Bratislava
4 star
Includes breakfast
£126 for 3 nights

That’s right, just because you’re travelling solo, it doesn’t mean you have to rough it. The great news is that Bratislava means 4 star hotels for under £50 a night.

YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.


Total cost

So, if Liam was to go with the cheapest flight and the cheapest accommodation, his 3 night trip to Bratislava would only cost £90.

Even with the better flight times from London and the four star hotel, his total cost would be £172 which really isn’t too shabby at all.

Get it booked, lad!

Wanna say thanks?

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Also, make sure you’re following me over on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.


Want my help?

To be in with a chance of getting your request selected, make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll give you a weekly reminder to get your request in.

Until next week!

Can I do a 3 night group getaway to Krakow for less than £100pp?

This week we’re helping Jade who’s after a group trip to Krakow in Poland.

  • Krakow
  • From London
  • 3 nights
  • 7 people
  • £250pp

I love a group trip as more people means more people to split the cost by!

I also chose this holiday hotline because I thought it would perfectly show just how amazing Google Flights can be when you have a place in mind but you can be a little bit flexible on your dates.

3 nights is also the perfect amount of time to hook a getaway around a weekend so that you don’t have to use up too much annual leave.

Top tip for weekend trips:
A lot of people are looking for that Sunday flight back but by moving the trip back one day and getting the Monday flight home, you can save money and you’re often taking the same amount of time off work!


Flights

So first things first, let’s head to Google Flights and most importantly change your passengers to the correct number as there may only be a few tickets left at the lower price you find.

(The eagle eyed of you will spy in the screenshots that it’s for one but this is just as it’s the only way to reflect cost per person!)

Next, pop in where we’re leaving from and where we’re going to.

Next, click on the date box and change your desired trip duration at the bottom. Here, I’ve changed it to 3 days for Jade and her mates.

Now, that seems pretty straight forward but actually, things get even more helpful on the next page so for now just click some dates. Any dates, it doesn’t matter.

By doing this, you’ll see the cheapest flights possible for that day but what if you don’t want an evening flight?

And I bet you deffo don’t want that 6am flight home.

Meaning that your £33 return flight could quickly become more expensive.

And what if the flight times you actually want could be cheaper on another day?

Can you search for that?

The good news is, yes you can.

So, the next thing you’re going to do is select the ‘Times’ button and decide what times you’d ideally like to leave between, and then do the same for your return journey.

For Jade, I’m actually going to keep in a later departure so that it cuts down on annual leave needed getting to Krakow, however I am going to get rid of that 2050 flight option because I think that gets in just a tad too late.

For the return I’m also going with a later flight so that they can make the most of their last day but make sure it arrives home before 2200 so that most public transport is still up and running.

After doing this, go back to the calendar and you’ll see that the prices will have updated to reflect your needs.

You may need to change the length of your trip again at the bottom.

Now, I’m in a great place to look for a cheap price that hooks around a weekend and within a few clicks, I find this great price in March.

The 1950 departure time means that most people, if working in Central London, would only need to take half a day off work or nothing at all if they’ve got a nice boss who will let them leave just before 5pm!

Wizz Air only includes a small piece of hand luggage but I’m a firm believer in that being more than enough for a weekend away! Plus, if you’re travelling in a group you could split a suitcase between you to pop some extra liquids in.

As I’m searching for 7 people for Jade, here’s what the final cost looks like on Google Flights.

Which indeed works out at £48 each.

Bargain.

Before clicking through, always check your flights on Skyscanner as it can often find cheaper prices as it searches more third party companies.

The flights are showing up the same price but hilariously, Skyscanner are throwing in an even cheaper option with Ryanair for £43 return.

However, as it’s flying from and returning to different airports AND I have a way to save more money on Wizz Air, I’m going to stick with what I found on Google Flights and click through to book direct with the airline.

How to save more money on Wizz Air flights

By signing up to the Wizz Discount Club, you’ll get access to loads of perks.

And two types of membership are available:

The great news for Jade is that she can buy the group membership for £69 and it will save her £108 across 6 tickets – so the membership has instantly paid for itself and, once we’ve added in one remaining full price ticket, brings the cost in at £42.43 each for 7 people.

Even better is that the membership will last Jade a year and as she’s the only one named on the account, she can go away with a group of totally different people and still use the discount – or just use the discount for herself.

To buy this membership, Jade just needs to change the amount of tickets to six passengers and then click on the ‘WIZZ Discount Club Price’.

She’ll then be able to buy membership on the same screen.

Jade then just needs to buy the last ticket at the full price cost.


Right, that’s enough flight chat, let’s move onto accomodation.

IMAGINE IF I CAN’T FIND ANY AFTER ALL THAT.

No, positive thoughts Chelsea, positive thoughts.

For this I’m definitely thinking an apartment or house but instead of hopping straight to Airbnb, I’m going to go to HomeToGo instead.

HomeToGo is to holiday homes like what Trivago is to hotels.

It pulls in homes from loads of different sites, including Airbnb, and whilst isn’t always the slickest websites (sometimes listings aren’t available) I do like the range of choice it offers.

Top tip:
Too many Airbnb results being shown? Select ‘Balcony/Patio’ or ‘Garden’ in your search filters as Airbnb doesn’t have this option and therefore all will leave the listings. However, you will only get listings with those amenities but I always love to have a balcony so this is a plus for me!

For Jade, I’m searching for a place that has at least 4 rooms so that 7 people won’t feel too cramped!

I’m also using the map to search for a spot in Central Krakow.

As the flights were so cheap there’s enough budget left for accommodation to cost £483 a night but I reckon we can get something much cheaper!

Here’s the best that I found.


Accommodation

Rister Apartments
£129 a night / £55.29 each

The dining area may not be big enough for everyone but with 4 bedrooms (though one has a sofa bed), 2 bathrooms and two sofa areas, it’s not bad for £55 quid each!


Airbnb
£164.67 a night / £70.57 each for 3 nights

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

THIS PLACE IS SO BIZARRE AND I FACKIN’ LOVE IT.

Just look at the floor plan 🤣

It will be so wrong for most groups but if you were away with a group of close mates and wanted a posh and trendy sleepover, WHAT A PLACE!

I mean, it has a sauna?!??? But only one bathroom?

WAS SOMEONE OFF THEIR TITS WHEN THEY DESIGNED THIS?!!!


Airbnb
£217 a night / £93 each for 3 nights

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

What I liked about this place is not only did it have 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but it also had two social spaces and a table that actually fits all the people Jade wants to go away with!


House of Loft Affair
2 apartments x 1 bed apartments
£337.16 a night / £144.71 each for 3 nights

These apartments are GORGEOUS and they’ve got big social spaces.

Yet, for people not to be on sofa beds in the living rooms, Jade would need to book this instead.

House of Loft Affair
2 x 2 bedroom apartments
£529 a night / £227 each for 3 nights

Jade will need to select the Palace House and the Pent House.

Now this is slightly over budget but if Jade is looking for something a bit luxe, then this is it!


The final cost

So, going with the cheapest option, Jade and her mates could get away to Krakow for 3 nights for just £97.72 each.

Meaning that the extra £150 can be used for spends.

GET THE BEERS IN, SON.


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cheap christmas market weekends that are STILL available from all over the UK

How is it the end of November already?

And HOW do I not have a European Christmas Market trip not booked in yet?

Madness.

Let’s see what we can rustle up for some last minute cheap weekend trips away this December.

Either scroll on through or click on the trips that interest you:

All prices are based on flights and two people sharing a room.


TOULOUSE

from £59.50pp for 2 nights

Set in their impressive Place du Capitole, expect the traditional style huts bearing the customary toys, candles and local woodcrafts.

FLIGHTS

London – Toulouse
Fri 6th Dec – Sun 8th Dec – from £24 return

You can also fly from Bristol for £64 return

Psst – There’s also flights from London between 13th – 15th for only £44 return

ACCOMMODATION

At just £67.50 a night for a well rated 4 star hotel, Hôtel de Brienne is a great shout!

Want cheaper? The Aparthotel Adagio across the river is just £35.50 a night or this cute Airbnb works out at £50 a night.

Remember, if you haven’t used Airbnb before you can get money off your first stay here!


POZNAN

from £107.49pp for 3 nights

Listed as this year’s 6th best European Christmas market, Poznan ticks all the boxes for a magical festive experience but also if you’re there on the 7th and 8th December, you’ll also experience their amazing Ice Festival where sculptors come together to compete in the streets!

FLIGHTS

London to Poznan
Fri 6th Dec – Mon 9th Dec – from £66 return

Yes, the flights are EARLY (the evening flight with Ryanair costs A LOT more!) but think of how much festive cheer you can cram in? I’ve gone for the return on the Monday morning as it allows you more time to explore the city but you can return early on the Sunday for just £46 return.

ACCOMMODATION

This super central Airbnb works out at just £36.67 a night.

Travelling as mates? This twin bed studio will only cost you £35 a night and if you don’t mind the 40 min walk central, this modern studio is only £27.66 a night!

Remember, if you haven’t used Airbnb before you can get money off your first stay here!


BRUSSELS

from £106.50pp for 2 nights

Another from the top ten Christmas Markets is Brussels! Their ‘Winter Wonders’ gets 2.5 million visitors a year and has markets, an ice rink and a huge Christmas tree in the square.

FLIGHTS

Edinburgh to Brussels
Fri 13th Dec – Sun 15th Dec – from £62 return.

Though you can fly into and out of the main airport for just £67 return.

You can also fly direct from London from £127 and from Manchester from £176 return.

ACCOMMODATION

Currently under offer thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this 4 star hotel – The President Brussels Hotel – has rooms from just £72.86 a night.

Plus, it’s just a 20 min walk from the Christmas markets!

Top Tip: Be sure to click on ‘rooms’ rather than ‘packages’ to get this deal.

Want to stay somewhere cheaper? A private room woth ensuite in Hostel Galia is £56 a night and this simple £44.50 a night Airbnb is a 40 min walk or a 15 min public transport journey away from the markets.

Remember, if you haven’t used Airbnb before you can get money off your first stay here!


BASEL

from £158pp for 2 nights

Okay, it may not be the cheapest once you’re there but if you’re gagging to see some snow, you’re not too far from the Alps here! Placing #15 on the best Christmas Markets, Basel is known as the Switzerland’s biggest and most beautiful Christmas city.

FLIGHTS

Manchester to Basel
Fri 6th Dec – Sun 8th Dec – £78 return

What great timed flights!

There’s also some great times from London for £97 return.

ACCOMMODATION

Top tip: You get a free Baselcard when you check in to a hotel in Basel which offers discounts on local attractions. More importantly it also gives you unlimited public transport in the city and to the airport as well. If your hotel reservation is marked ‘mobility ticket’, you can use this to travel from the airport to your hotel. More information is here.

Hotel Stücki is a really well rated 3 star hotel that’s a mile from the historic old town where the Christmas festivities take place! For Switzerland it really isn’t bad for £80.90 a night.


SEVILLE

from £78.50pp for 3 nights

With average temperatures in December coming in at 17 degrees, you may think Seville is a bizarre choice yet it was voted amongst the Best Sunny Christmas Markets in Europe and was visitors top market in Spain last year. Expect traditional style markets, an ice rink and delicious food, of course!

FLIGHTS

You can fly Fri – sun from London from £83 return and from Manchester for £122 return but I wanted to shine a light on this amazing deal instead.

Bristol to Seville
Fri 13th Dec – Mon 16th Dec – £20 return

What a bargain!

ACCOMMODATION

Okay stop.

WHY IS SEVILLE SO DAMN CHEAP FOR GORGEOUS HOTELS?

LET’S ALL GO TO SEVILLE.

A room at the 4 star One Shot Palacio Conde de Torrejón 09 (mouthfull or what?) comes in at just £64.66 a night.

Lush.

This cute Airbnb is just £57 a night and if you want to keep it really cheap, this one bedroom Airbnb is only £39 a night (the reviews are amazing, I just think they need better photos!!).


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holiday hotline #8 – £116 Krakow trip, Budapest in October, £302 flights to New York and a FAILED group getaway to Amsterdam

If you haven’t heard of the holiday hotline before, it’s something I do over on my Instagram stories where I ask you for what cheap getaway I can help find for you.

As I can only get to a few every week, I’ve decided to include how I go about finding deals so that even if you weren’t picked, there will hopefully be something here to help you with your own booking.

Well, as long as you don’t want a group trip to Amsterdam…

More of that coming up!


THE REQUEST: CHEAP Winter weekend getaway FROM MANCHESTER

From: Manchester
To: Krakow/Finland/Latvia/Slovakia
When: Jan/Feb weekend
People: 2

FLIGHT

Manchester to Krakow
Fri 7th – Sun 9th Feb
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£84

If you’d like a bigger bag, you can also fly with easyJet and Jet2 for £111 who both allow a carry on case.

Not interested in Manchester? Here’s where else you could fly to that weekend:

London – from £42
Liverpool – from £104
Glasgow – from £136

ACCOMMODATION

As Krakow is so good on the pocket, I always like to make the most of it by staying a lush hotel that I normally couldn’t afford. 


PURO Kraków Kazimierz is that rare partnership of incredible style and incredible value, coming in at just £53.50 a night.

If you book with Hotels.com (who are currently offering the cheapest rate), you’ll also collect 2 nights stay as part of their loyalty programme. Once you’ve collected 10, you’ll get a free reward night!

However, if you’re wanting to keep the budget down, check out this cute little Airbnb instead which is just £32 a night.

You can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!


Between two, that means you could have yourself a cheap getaway from just £116 each!


THE REQUEST: GROUP GETAWAY TO AMSTERDAM

From: Liverpool
To: Amsterdam
When: 14th May
Duration: 4 nights
People: 10
Budget: £300 each

FLIGHTS

Liverpool to Amsterdam
Thurs 14th – Mon 18th May
EasyJet – who still allow small suitcases in hand luggage. Hurrah!
From £59

Note: this price is for 8 travellers – unfortunately you can’t book 10 at a time on Skyscanner though interestingly, this price is cheaper than booking for just 2 people by a few quid!

Top tip: Most airlines will do group bookings and whilst unfortunately it’s for a minimum of 15 for easyJet, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind as most give you the option to confirm the names of all your passengers last minute. This can be slightly more costly than if you booked in advance, but it can really take the stress out of organising big groups.

ACCOMMODATION

Now, I’m a bit nervous about trying to find a place for ten people as Amsterdam is NOTORIOUSLY SPENNY when it comes to places to stay.

This isn’t because it’s a super expensive destination, it’s just really popular and places get booked up fast, thus driving the price up so my biggest tip if you want to visit is book sooner rather than later!

From a quick look on Airbnb, I could see that there was absolutely nothing coming in under budget for a large group.

By thousands of pounds 😬😬😬

Well, apart from this which looked very promising but after clicking through the pictures I stumbled on this:

Do not trust anything that directs you away from Airbnb! This is totally against the rules and I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets pulled sooner or later.

I did find this Airbnb which comes in just over budget but boy, it looks a bit bleak for the money… I mean, where are the windows??!

Anyway, on with the search!

Next, I went over too hometogo which is like the trivago of holiday rentals – it searches loads of different sites including Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking.com, and brings you all the options in one place.

However, that wasn’t bringing up anywhere either!

Definitely me and not a stock image model thinking about how bad I’ve become at finding cheap holidays…

Time for PLAN B!

I’ve headed over to Booking.com’s apartments and what I’m looking for are smaller apartments that are in the same complex.

The only thing I found that could work was Cityden The Garden Amsterdam South – but if you haven’t clocked it from the name, it is 30 minutes from the city by public transport.

For 2 x two bedroom apartments (each has a sofa bed as well), the total cost would be £182.50 per person for 4 nights for ten people.

It looks lovely, but it seems quite far out, doesn’t it?

What about if we tried to find hotel rooms instead?

Just sneaking in – in budget – is the ibis Amsterdam City West. Whilst it’s still not super central, you’re not far from a metro that will get you to the main train station in a couple of minutes.

Selecting 2 x triple rooms and 2 x double rooms comes in at £221.80 a night each for 4 nights for ten people.

As a bargain hunter, I’m still not completely satisfied so my last search will be at the complete opposite that Sarah was looking for.

Hostels.

This time hopping over to hostelworld, where I find Clinknoord. A very well rated hostel in a fairly central location.

A 10 bed dorm with private bathroom for £179.30 each for 4 nights for ten people.

Jesus wept.

I’ve spent about an hour looking and these are genuinely the best deals I can find. So, do I have any final thoughts?

Yes.

Just go somewhere else.

🤣🤣🤣

If there’s one thing I can’t stand is paying a lot of money for something not that good.

Spending just 5 minutes looking at alternative options, I’ve already found flights from Liverpool to Barcelona for £91 and numerous apartments in the centre of the city that easy house 10 people.

See!

£217.20 each

All prices reflect accommodation only and other options:

£169.10 each

£164.74 each

£152.20 each

If you’re adamant that you want to go to Amsterdam – then find the accommodation first. Go to Airbnb and whack in your amount of guests without the dates. Find what you want and then check to see if it’s in budget, and when it’s available.

Then check for flight prices.

I hope that’s been on some help!!!


THE REQUEST: OCTOBER BUDAPEST WEEKEND FOR TWO

From: London
To: Budapest
Dates: 11th – 14th October
People: 2
Budget: £200

FLIGHTS

London to Budapest
Fri 11th – Mon 14th Oct
Wizzair – small hand luggage only
£107

But pssst, you can fly the 12th – 15th from just £53.

Accommodation

Budapest is yet another great city for getting great value out of your hotel, so let’s take a look at that first.

Heading to trivago, it does let me know that the Friday and the Saturday are more expensive than usual, so it may be that Airbnb is the way to go – but let’s see what we can rustle up.

The Malmaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest is extremely well rated and costs £90 a night.

Plus, as the cheapest price is with Hotels.com at the moment, you’d earn yourself 3 nights on their loyalty rewards programme where you get your 11th night for free.

However, I don’t think anything is gonna beat this BEAUTY from Airbnb which costs just £50 a night including fees.

(You can even get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Check out those high ceilings!

Between the two of you, that brings your three night trip to Budapest in for £182 each.

Okay, time for one more!


THE REQUEST: 50TH BIRTHDAY BREAK IN NEW YORK

From: Manchester
To: New York
Dates: April
Duration: 5 nights
People: 2
Details: 4* – it’s ma birthday innniiitt (okay fine Angela didn’t add that bit)

FLIGHTS

For this, I want to show you a brilliant function that Google Flights has.

As you can see above, once you pop your dates in, you can toggle the duration of the trip at the bottom which will really easily show you the best prices for the month you’re after.

THANK YOU GOOGLE.

So I’m going to go for the trip starting on the 22nd April et voila, a direct fare to New York with Virgin for just £319.

(Shit, people are going to start to realise that my cheap holiday skills aren’t that difficult to grasp… 🤣)

However, whilst Google have done the hard job for us here, they don’t always show the cheapest prices and so my next step is to put the dates into Skyscanner, and this is what comes up.

£302?!! YES PLEASE.

The reason Skyscanner is able to offer this cheaper is because, as you can see above, you’re actually buying from a third party. They are the exact same flights that you could book direct with Virgin, it’s just that these companies often offer discounts to entice you in.

Skyscanner do vet all their third party companies and clearly show how customers rate them.

I’ve used them many times before and have only once had an issue when the price had increased and so they returned my money. In hindsight, I should have known it was going to happen as the fare was half the price of what everyone else was offering 🤣 (god loves a trier!)

Okay, so we’ve got the flight, now onto…

ACCOMMODATION

Now, Angela wants 4* and as someone who’s often cursed the prices of nice hotels in New York, I’m gonna do something a little rogue here…

🎉 CUE PACKAGE HOLIDAY 🎉

Since our flight is with Virgin, it does make me wonder if Virgin Holidays will have a good deal for these dates…

The cheapest deal is at Row Nyc for £912 per person (other sites list it as a 4 star but Virgin use their own rating system).

To work out if that’s a deal, we need to pop to trivago and whack in the same hotel.

Once I click through, I can see that Travel Republic are offering the room for 5 nights for £857 – which once split between two and added to the flight price comes in at £730.50 per person.

FFS VIRGIN HOLIDAYS.

I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU.

WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU.

Goddam you Virgin Holidays.

However, before we call it a day, I want to see if I can find a slightly nicer hotel for Angela.

ANGELA’S 50TH DESERVES MORE THAN A 6.5 RATING OKAY?!

So this time sticking to trivago, I’ve whacked in the dates and used the filters to find us a 4* hotel with at least a 7.5 guest rating.

A Queen Room at the Westgate New York City is coming in at £148 per night on loveholidays (it’s £267 on Booking.com!)

That’s £672 pp in total for the whole holiday.

A double room at Renaissance New York Hotel 57 is £152 a night.

That totals £682 each for 5 nights and a flight.

And finally, this Queen Room at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York is just £185 a night if you book through loveholidays.

This hotel is GORGEOUS – check out the photos on Booking.com (in my opinion, they have the best gallery!) and also check out how much more expensive it is if you book with them 👀

This would cost £764.50 each for everything.

Have a great 50th birthday, Angela!


That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.

Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but unfortunately the business of finding the best deals isn’t quick work!

Remember, you can get involved in the next holiday hotline by simply following me over on Instagram and looking out for it on my stories.

Until next time!


I have used some 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. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it 😂

how to book cheap october sun holidays after the closure of thomas cook

Once a month I join Penny Smith on talkRADIO to chat all things cheap holidays and this time, following the news of Thomas Cook going under, I’ll be sharing where’s still cheap to fly to this October for sunshine.

Before I share my top picks, here’s some general tips to take on board when looking for yourself:

  • Avoid traditional October sun holidays (unless they’re well served by multiple airlines)

Due to Thomas Cook going bust, the demand for these destinations has sky rocketed as people try to rebook holidays and flights have been cancelled. Therefore, I’d actually avoid the usual suspects of The Canary Islands and Turkey as right now, the flights are much more than you’d normally pay.

  • Check Thomas Cook’s destination list to find places that haven’t been affected by their closure

From a quick look at their destination list, I can see that they served a lot of resorts and therefore a warm city break may be a better option this Autumn.

  • If you’re desperate for a traditional destination, check one stop flights

Need to get to Turkey, or got your heart set on the Canaries? Make sure you’ve unclicked ‘direct flights’ as there’s still some deals to be had for flights that have one stop.

  • Or hold off until November

I’ve started to see some less inflated prices start to creep back in November, so there’s always the option to hold off – if you can bear it!

  • Look at other airports in the same area you want to get to

For example, if your holiday to Orlando has fallen through, or prices are just too expensive now, try Miami instead.

Miami is seeing some of the cheapest flights in the next month or so (hello return flights for £255) and being just a 3.5 hour drive from Orlando, it could be a way to do the beach AND the theme parks.

  • Check to see if you’re getting a good deal on your flight

There’s a really easy way check if the flight you’ve found is more expensive than usual by using Google Flights.

Once you’ve selected your flight, it will bring up a bar that shows you where the price sits.

As you can see, Tenerife isn’t looking too cheap this October!

Right, let’s plough on with where I recommend!


Algarve, Portugal

There’s a reason why four million visitors are drawn to the Algarve each year. Be it golden beaches, fresh seafood or a spot of golf, Portugal’s southernmost region has a lot to offer.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Algarve in October
14°C / 25°C
7 hours of sunshine
8 days of rain

At time of posting, the weather forecast until the 10th October is looking LUSH!

Where do I fly into?

Faro airport is well located as you can reach most resorts in the Algarve within an hour. What’s more, seventeen UK airports fly there direct so it’s a great option for everybody!

Any good flight deals this October?

Sat 12th Oct – Fri 18th Oct
London to Faro
From £54

Sun 13th Oct – Thurs 17th Oct
Bristol to Faro
From £101

Mon 21st – Mon 28th Oct
Cardiff to Faro
From £134

Where should I stay?

There are plenty or resorts along the coast for a range of different holiday needs.

If you’re after somewhere with lots to do, try Lagos, Albufeira or Praia da Rocha.

If you’re hoping for more of a chill out, try Tavira, Alvor or Praia da Luz – or just scour Airbnb for a remote villa!

How expensive is it once we’re there?

Average costs in the Algarve
Domestic beer – £1.77
Cappuccino – £1.17
Three course meal for 2 in a mid range restaurant – £26.58
One way local transportation ticket – £3.54

Click here to find out more costs.

Any other tips?

On arriving in Faro, most people go west up the coast but there are also options going East.

Twice, I’ve stayed in the small fishing town of Olhão which, when I told a Portuguese friend they pulled a face and went ‘but nobody goes on holiday there?!’ – which is exactly what we wanted!

Just 25 minutes away from the airport, we absolutely loved the early trips to the fish and fruit markets, buying pasteis de nata from the tiny bakeries and getting a ferry out to the beaches!

Oh, and buying bottles of Mateus for £3 a pop.

I do believe it’s become a bit more of a go to destination since I last went in 2015, but it will still be a lot quieter than the resort towns!


Madrid, Spain

Once known as Barcelona’s ‘boring sibling’, the Spanish capital has upped its game as a food and drink destination with a great arts scene. What’s more, with travellers often opting for other Spanish cities, you’ll find that this capital is more affordable than others across Europe.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Madrid in October
9°C / 21°C
6 hours of sunshine
10 days of rain

However, at time of posting, the weather forecast until the 10th October is looking SO GOOD. Mid twenties and sunny every damn day.

Where do I fly into?

Madrid Barajas International Airport which is 8 miles from the city centre. The airport has buses, trains, taxis and even a metro so getting where you need to be is super easy – and super affordable.

Any good flight deals this October?

So many. Get on Skyscanner and in the dates section, select ‘October’ to see a full range of cheap, cheap prices.

Sat 5th Oct – Sat 12th Oct
London to Madrid
From £54

Tues 22nd – Sun 27th Oct
Birmingham to Madrid
From £58

Weds 16th -Sun 20th Oct
Liverpool to Madrid
From £80

Where should I stay?

Want to hit the city but still get a feel for a late summer break? Search for a hotel with an outdoor pool to allow you to have the best of both worlds!

The H10 Puerta de Alcalá has a gorgeous roof top pool with upcoming rates from £96 a night.

Madrid also has so many great Airbnb options.

Here’s a great place which is still available between 8th – 11th October for just £60 a night!

You can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!

How expensive is it once we’re there?

Average costs in Madrid
Domestic beer – £2.66
Cappuccino – £1.54
Three course meal for 2 in a mid range restaurant – £35.44
One way local transportation ticket – £1.33

Click here to find out more costs.

Any other tips?

Away for a few nights? Why not split your stay between an affordable Airbnb that allows you to splash out on a hotel the last two nights? It’s such a good way to end a holiday!

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Lots of fun recording a World Service doc in Madrid this week 🎤👤👂 Unfortunately didn’t get to see too much, but caught enough glimpses to persuade me to revisit in the future🤞 Here’s my thoughts: ✈️ Very cheap flights from the UK (mine were 30€ return booked 3 weeks ago) 🚇 40 min metro into the city centre – and only 3€ on top of your standard fare 💳 10 tickets for the metro work out at just 1,20€ each – very cheap for such an efficient and wide reaching service 🏠 One bed Airbnb apartment, 1 min from Bilbao metro, cost £62 a night and was really nice! Small room in a 3 star hotel was around the same price. 🍤 Great seafood – and great tapas too! So many restaurants to choose between with really affordable prices (shout-out to the lunchtime Menu Del Dia where I got paella, chicken, wine and pudding for 11€!!!) 🍷 Wine on most menus started around 3€ – and I wasn’t intentionally choosing cheap places 😊 Really relaxed vibe – found it more slow paced than Barcelona – and unlike other capital cities, locals are known for their friendliness! 🇪🇸 Speaking English is not a given. At all. But I see this as a perk. I really enjoyed trying out my VERY BASIC Spanish and everyone was so helpful, and we had a right laugh as they tried to teach me new phrases! ☀️ 13 degrees and blue skies in Jan? I will take that!! Have you been to Madrid? What did you reckon? Have my ‘glimpses’ steered me wrong?!! #travel #instatravel #travelgram #wanderlust #citybreak #cheapholiday #budgettravel #europe #madrid #spain #visitspain #visitmadrid #radio #producer #picoftheday

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Malta

Brimming with history, explore this archipelago in the central Mediterranean by witnessing its jewel like depths and visiting its numerous fortresses and megalithic temples.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Malta in October
22°C / 25°C
7 hours of sunshine
9 days of rain

Again, at the time of posting, the weather is looking great over the next two weeks!

Where do I fly into?

Malta International Airport. There are express buses and taxis available at the airport to take you wherever you need to go!

Any good flight deals this October?

Sat 19th Oct – Sat 26th Oct
Belfast to Luqa
From £63

Sat 5th Oct – Sat 12th Oct
London to Luqa
From £85

Tues 15th Oct – Tues 22nd Oct
Exeter to Luqa
From £87

Where should I stay?

Malta Uncovered has all the details when it comes to what resorts will work best for you.

The Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz is a gorgeous 5 star hotel with rooms starting at £124 a night, which is great value for such a well rated hotel.

If you’re after something a bit kinder on the purse strings, how about the simple but stylish rooms at 115 The Strand Hotel and Suites? With rooms starting at £56 a night and overlooking the waterfront in popular Sliema, it ticks a lot of boxes for me!

How expensive is it once we’re there?

Average costs in Malta
Domestic beer – £2.21
Cappuccino – £1.77
Three course meal for 2 in a mid range restaurant – £48.73
One way local transportation ticket – £1.33

Click here to find out more costs.

Any other tips?

Every time I look the car hire in Malta is ridiculously cheap.

This is the cost for a week in October. That’s £5.42 a day.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY?!

So why not make the most of the cheap prices and explore the whole island?


Found any of this useful? Come say hi over on Instagram where I share top travel tips on the regular.

I even host a weekly holiday hotline where I help find you getaways for less money!


Some of the links on this page are affiliated meaning I might make a small cut if you book using them. It doesn’t make the price more expensive for you, but it does help me run this site! So cheers pal!

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.

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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
  • 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: 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!

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