…with travel bucket lists

Since we bought a scratch map I’ve been trying to scratch off as many continents as possible. My next dream holiday destinations are:

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Short-haul

  • Denmark (flights from £23)
  • Isle of Skye (flights from £25)
  • Iceland (flights from £62)
  • Malta (flights from £32)
  • Netherlands (flights from £26)
  • Switzerland (flights from £25)

Long-haul

  • Bahamas (flights from £259)
  • Canada (flights from £131)
  • Cuba (flights from £778)
  • Costa Rica (flights from £467)
  • Fiji (flights from £891)
  • Hawaii (flights from £724)
  • Mexico (flights from £381)
  • Thailand (flights from £474)
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…with travel money

euro-1353420_1920.jpgSo you’re going abroad this summer and want to know how to get the best for your pounds? Get reading! First work out how much you’re taking. If not all inclusive I tend to budget £5pp for breakfast, £10pp for lunch and £15pp for dinner. Don’t forget extra for souvenirs, attraction tickets, snacks etc. Once you know how much you need visit travelmoneymax.com at least a week before. Select currency, amount and whether you want to collect from somewhere local, an airport or have the money delivered by post. If it is a large amount or if you are going travelling – check exchange rates daily for fluctuations and sign up to certain newsletters like Travelex for ‘Happy Hour’ exchange rate sales. If you don’t want to take loads and loads of cash consider a currency card which you can use like a debit card even at ATMs abroad – Revolut, We Swap or Fair FX. There are loads of deals to be had but remember to read the small print for fees!

…with flight delay compensation

airport-1822133_1920.jpgEver been stuck at airport waiting for a plane delay? Have you then made family delayed at the other end, missed your next connection or void your onward train ticket? Of course you have – we all have! Did you know you could be owed compensation? Next time you fly keep this in mind. Or even better, look back at previous delays NOW. We did and got back £350 for a £50 flight! This is all thanks to moneysavingexpert.com‘s advice.

The trick is: “If you’re delayed by more than three hours or your flight’s cancelled, under EU rule 261/2004 you are often entitled to between £110 and £520 in compensation.”

If you flew from an EU airport since 2011 and you were delayed by more than 3 hours then keep reading. If you can’t remember if you were ever delayed type any previous flight numbers and dates into flightright.co.uk – it’s worth trying them all.

If you find one, use MSE’s Resolver Tool to send an automated email request for compensation to the airline. It is that easy. You are then sent their compensation offer and a cheque!

…with island honeymoons

Ahhh honeymoons. It makes my heart flutter just thinking about them. Here are my top five romantic island destinations.

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  1. Maldives (flight time from UK: 12.5 hours)
  2. Seychelles  (flight time from UK: 13 hours)
  3. Mauritius  (flight time from UK: 12 hours)
  4. Fiji  (flight time from UK: 24 hours)
  5. Bora Bora  (flight time from UK: 27 hours)

We actually asked for honeymoon gifts for our Prezola wedding list after contacting our hotel for the excursions they offer. Here are some ideas for things to ask for:

  • Airport lounge upgrade
  • Meals
  • Massages
  • Boat Trips
  • Room Service Breakfast
  • Cocktails
  • Contribution to flights or accommodation
  • Bicycle Hire
  • Spending money

…with budget city breaks

When I was given my student loan I scrimped and saved what I could and with the free time in between lectures and seminars (and technically the free money?!?!) I was able to visit loads of capital cities. Here’s my top eight possible on a budget:

8) Brussels – Thon Hotel EU

Although very metropolitan, Brussels is a very interesting city worth a visit by Eurostar. 

7) Dublin – Travelodge Dublin Airport South

Lots to do, lots to see and so much to soak up, so close to home.

6) Vienna – San Souci Wien

Stunning and safe cultural city.

5) Prague – Hotel General

A fairytale destination to get lost in.

4) Paris –  Hotel Eiffel Seine

Romance is well and truly in the air, which fills your stomach with butterflies.

3) New York – Hilton New York Fashion District

The place of movies, dreams and everything you ever imagined.

2) Venice – Royal San Marco

Unlike any other place in the world, magical and beautiful.

1) London – Crowne Plaza Kensington

The best city in the world.

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All done in a weekend – who needs a gap year!

…with US road trips

Guess what? It’s Travel Tuesday! Growing up my parents’ biggest passion/outgoing was summer holidays and we were very lucky to visit amazing destinations every year throughout Europe, America, Australia and the Caribbean. When I met my (equally passionate about travel) fiancé at uni we scrimped our student loan and splurged on city breaks with every chance we got. When we graduated we worked our socks off immediately, with the intention of treating ourself to a month travelling in the summer of 2014.  I’ve never wanted to do the typical hostel ‘gap year’ in Asia alone with just a backpack as to be honest I’m a scaredy cat. At the time, we were both obsessed with the TV show Nashville and had visited America separately with our families so we decided we’d do it together. Initially we looked at flights direct to Nashville but it was extortionate! And so six months of planning/money-saving began.

routeFirst we used the Skyscanner graphs to find the cheapest flights with just hand luggage in August which happened to be arriving in Washington Dulles (with a stop in Reykjavik)  and returning from Orlando (stopping in Oslo) both with different airlines. Tips: Keep deleting your browsing history/cookies when you search for flights or it boosts up the price and booking on a Tuesday is usually the cheapest. Next we planned a road trip from Washington to Orlando using Google Maps fitting in all of our most-wanted stops – Roanoke, Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Tallahassee, Tampa, Miami, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm, Palm Bay. I had studied so much American Civil Rights history that there was so much I wanted to see.

After this we worked out how many nights we would need on each stop and made a driving itinerary (max. 4 hours in a day). We scrutinised the best, affordable hotels at each stop on Tripadvisor and Trivago. We prioritised free car parking, WiFi and breakfast. Then we price compared our favourite hotels on Priceline and Hotwire. Every payday we booked another few hotel stops (using Topcashback, Quidco and voucher websites) – it was so exciting! Tip: We booked so many cheap ‘top secret hotels’ where they hide the hotel name. The trick is to play detective, copy and paste key bits of the description into Google and double-check by matching ratings on Tripadvisor and we found out exactly which hotel it was before paying.

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Bahia Honda

Apart from flights the other most expensive thing was car hire due to the hefty surcharge for being under-25 and for collecting and dropping off the car in different states. After weeks of research about cutting costs we read this blog about hiring with Hertz Gold Rewards and waivering our young driver fee with USAA membership and it worked – we saved hundreds and got a lovely lime green Mazda 2!! We bought excess insurance online in advance (along with travel insurance) so saved on that too and used our own SatNav but downloaded American maps.

In terms of travel money we ordered a Travelex Cash Passport which worked out great for checking balances online, withdrawing at ATMs and paying in restaurants. We put in some of our earnings every month and timed exchanging with special offer Travelex ‘happy hours’ that they have every so often. We also use Travel Money Max for comparing the best cash rates.

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Key West

And then we went. It was truly an adventure of a lifetime. We recorded everything on the free app Narrato ‘Journal’ so our friends and family could follow along. Highlights included chilling by the rooftop pool in DC, the AMAZING food (Chipotle, biscuits and gravy, Publix salads), watching Striking Matches live at The Grand Ole Opry, the malls where we would get free ice creams and fries just for being English, sitting at Elvis’ piano at RCA B studios, line-dancing at Honky Tonk bars, watching Jimmy Fallon for the first time, the emotional civil rights trail, the gorgeous warm-water at our favourite beaches Clearwater & Bahia Honda, partying at Clevelander on South Beach, speeding through the Everglades by airboat, meeting astronaut Bruce Melnick at the Kennedy Space Centre and being invited on stage by Blue Man Group. Worth every penny.

P.S. Don’t forget to get your ESTA and International Driving Permit (IDP)!