holiday three | denmark for under £45

After a rather pricey trip to Doobz (what do you mean, no one calls Dubai that?!?), I needed to cash in a trick I was hoping to hold onto for a little while longer…

STAYING WITH A MATE.

And before you say it, it’s not cheating.

Why?

Because I said so.

(IT’S MY HOLIDAY CHALLENGE SO I’M MAKING DA RULEZ).

My mate Line is from Aarhus in Denmark, and we met 9 years ago (9 YEARS AH!!!) when we lived next door to each other when studying in Atlanta.

We always bang on about visiting the other, but we’ve been pretty pants in recent years so, teamed with super cheap weekend flights from Stansted airport, what excuse did I have?

holiday to dubai? add sri lanka, india or thailand from just £69 extra

If you’ve got your heart set on Dubai, there’s plenty of one stop options to get you there for less than £230 – I talked about these in my last blog post.

However, if you’re flying direct with a top class airline, there’s a great way to make the most out of your money by using Dubai as a stop off.

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Intrigued?

Dubai isn’t called the ‘gateway to the middle east’ for nothing – it’s a key hub for connecting flights, especially when you’re flying from the UK. Therefore, adding in an additional return flight to Sri Lanka, Thailand or India could end up only costing you an additional £69.

For example, here’s the straight forward return from London.

Dubai
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 16th Oct

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So, say we wanted to spend 4 nights in Dubai to explore the city, where could we head on to next?

As our chosen airline, Emirates, flies to over 150 destinations, it means that there’s a lot of choice when it comes to adding another trip on. All you have to do is search for a ‘multi-city’ flight, which is made pretty easy by sites like Skyscanner and Kayak.

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For example, if we were to add in a flight on Monday 9th October to another destination and then return back to London on Monday 16th October (which automatically would send us via Dubai), this is how much it would cost.

Mumbai, India +£69
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctScreen Shot 2017-04-24 at 23.20.23.png

Colombo, Sri Lanka +£88
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctColombo - £427.png

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia + £116
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctKuala Lumpur - £455.pngHong Kong, China +£117
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctHong Kong - £456.png

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam +£129
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctScreen Shot 2017-04-24 at 23.47.59.png

Bali, Indonesia + £142
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th Oct
Bali - £481.png

Phuket, Thailand +£150
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctPhuket - £489.png

And these are just a handful of options. The basic rule is ‘does the airline you’re originally flying with go anywhere else?’ If so, get searching for multi-city deals.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that this would be the cheapest way of getting to that extra destination, but it does give you a great option if you were heading somewhere anyway, or wanting to do 2 destinations in 1.

Good luck with your search!

holiday one: winter sun weekend break for less than £170

As I sat down to get my booking on, I had three things in mind.

  • I wanted to go somewhere new
  • I wanted to go some warm(ish)
  • I wanted to go somewhere for 2 nights

I was also planning on going with the housemate, James, so everything I’d be searching for would be for two.

So with a quick stretch of my most prominent key-tapping fingers, I set forth, loose in the wily heaths of the world wide web.

Here’s how I got on:

1. Flights first

I bloody love Skyscanner because its nifty search tool allows you to search ‘everywhere’ when you’re not sure where to go, and ‘cheapest month’, when you just want a good deal.

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This time, I knew my dates so just used ‘everywhere’.

After sifting through many a cold (but cheap) destination, I settled on Valencia.

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Total cost – £61.98 each (yes, I really am counting that 2p!)

Tip – Whilst there certainly are last minute deals to be had, deals were pretty thin on the ground 10 days before. I saw some incredibly cheap flights (£38) to Cyprus at the same time just 2 weeks ago!

Booked with easyJet (via Skyscanner)

Cashback – No monies for easyJet, but we’ll let it slide… This time…

2. Getting to Gatwick

Since our flight is leaving Gatwick at 7:10AM, I’d rather put my head into a bag of wet prawns that leave the house at half three on a Saturday morning. Therefore, I had a quick look for a cheap hotel at the airport itself et voilà!

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The BLOC hotel is actually IN THE TERMINAL. As in, roll out of bed, brush teeth, do 12 lunges (how else do you think I maintain my physique?) and walk through security.

What’s more, some of the rooms look out onto the runway which excited James so much, he asked if we could just stay there for the weekend.

I found a ‘no window’ room for £71 on hotels.com, but after hitting up trivago which is a great tool for comparing prices, I found one with a window for £67 on a site called Amoma. What’s more, when I checked if it did cashback, I saw that there was a 5% off code as well. Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 16.45.46.png

Total cost – £32.78 each

Tip – Always use a comparative site such as trivago to check you’ve got the cheapest price on your hotel.

Booked with Amoma (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% cashback = £5.95 PLUS a cheeky 5% off code to boot (HOTEL5OFF – expires 31st March 2017).

3. A Valencia hotel worth of an Instagram (or six)

There were a bevvy of beautiful hotels for under £75 a night to choose from, including the highly rated Hotel Vincii Mercat and Vincii Palace.

However, it was two others that caught my eye.

First, One Shot Colon because – well, yes, because of the absolute lolathon the name gave me (and its minimalist but cool decor, great reviews and a bargain price of £50 a night).

But we ended up going for the slightly more expensive Hotel Balandret which has a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, and also comes second in The Telegraph’s expert ‘best hotels in Valencia’ list.

It’s also on the sea front (we paid an extra £15 in total to have a sea view) and comes with free breakfast each morning.

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Total cost – £75 each

Tip – Sure, we could have done this bit for cheaper but a few extra pounds has got us a better room and we’ll save money on spends by eating in for breakfast.

Also, the hotel is part of Hotels.com’s loyalty scheme so we’ve banked 2 nights out of the 10 needed to get a free night stay at a hotel in the future.

Booked with Hotels.com (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% = £8.15


Total cost = £169.72

Total potential cashback = £14.10

As the cashback is only a bonus once it comes through, there’s no deducting it from the final total (just yet) so for now, here’s what we’re left with:

Total left = £1543.29

Holiday one: BOOKED.

5 quick tips for booking cheaper holidays

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I am ITCHING to get booking my first wild escapade but you know what they say, “don’t run a marathon before you do a few lunges”.

Okay FINE. No one says that.

But basically, I’m just trying to point out that there’s a few little ‘warm up’ tricks one can do before going batshit cray-cray on the credit card.

1. Sign up to holiday deal websites and newsletters

To get the best deals, you need to know what’s out there and a good way to stay in the know is to sign up to some travel newsletters.

A few personal faves are:

Now, I know what you’re about to say.

NO ONE NEEDS MORE EMAILS IN THEIR ALREADY CLUTTERED INBOX, CHELSEA.

And I’m with you. So I use Unroll.Me which not only unsubscribes you from pesky emails (found out I was signed up to 133 of those bad boys t’other day – bleak) but also allows you to add newsletters into one daily ‘rollup’.

2. Set travel alerts

We all have a dream location in mind. Like, imagine being able to say “here’s me in St. Barts with my friend Edna”.

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If you’ve also got an idea of when you’d like to go, travel alerts let you know when the flight’s price changes – be that up or down.

I use Skyscanner for this (like I said, obsessed) but you could also use other flight comparison sites, such as Kayak.

skyscanner

3. Be ready

You’re sat in work one day and an email pops into your inbox. You rub your eyes. You can’t quite believe it. GOOD GOD they’re offering direct flights to BOGNOR REGIS for only £2500! It’s the bargain of the century!

Between sharp breaths, your shaking hand clicks on the link and just as you’re about to checkout you remember – you don’t have the money, you don’t have your details and you don’t know who you’re going with.

Incredible deals, including online glitches, go quick or get fixed so don’t hang about. Whilst money is a no-brainer, it can be easy to forget that you need personal details when you’re booking.

Quite often airlines don’t require a passport number at checkout, but they do need to know everyone’s date of birth and name as it appears on their official documentation.

4. Sign up for cashback

Who the hell doesn’t like free money?

Whilst cashback sites are no new trick, I often speed through an online checkout and only remember later than I could have claimed money back on it.

noo

Quidco and Top Cashback both offer a downloadable extension that notifies you when you’re on a site with cashback. I personally found this a little too invasive so I just try my best to remember.

If you join Quidco via this link, we’ll both get a tenner (WHEYYY) but I’ve actually just swapped to Top Cashback as Quidco’s success rate on paying out was about 40%, so I’m giving something new a go.

In fact, that’s important to remember. Don’t book something because of a promise of cashback – you may never get it. Just think of it as a bonus if it does come.

5. Get a railcard

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A 13 hours and 23 minute train from Aberdeen to Penzance not your idea of a holiday? (Yes, that’s a real train route). No worries. Railcards can still come in use.

10 airports in the UK have their own railway station so you can cut down on a third of your travel costs before you even fly.

Woah – what’s that? Not 16-25? (I feel your pain, bro).

There are a few more options but my favourite is the Two Together railcard. You don’t need to be romantically involved (can you IMAGINE having to send in EVIDENCE to PROVE IT – HA) and so you can get one with your best mate, your colleague or even your Nan.

All railcards are £30 but there’s ALWAYS a 10% discount if you search the web.

Is it worth it? Well, it depends on how much you travel. If you’re having to take the train to a different city to fly, it usually pays for itself but even if you just need a return ticket between London Victoria and Gatwick, a railcard makes the journey £10.65 cheaper each.

Two holidays a year and you’ve saved yourself £15.60. That’s enough for a pint each and a sudoku book at the airport.

ALSO – if you do have a 16-25 railcard, did you know that you can add it to your Oyster card?

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IKR. GAME CHANGER.

(Mine expires in Feb. I am so sad).


So there you have it – 5 quick tips to help you cement your way to a top holiday deal.

Now, it’s about time I start my own booking otherwise I’m gonna have to take up that Bognor Regis deal…

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