Travelling is one of those things most of us aspire to do, but in reality we don’t do enough. For anyone like me, you’ll have a revolving wish list that grows month after month. One minute you’re soul searching for Yoga retreats in Bali and the next you’re certain a girls trip to Miami will be the best experience of your life. The world is a colossal place after all, and in 2016 finding travel inspiration is almost too easy. I usually flick through Stylist’s ‘Escape Routes’ on a Wednesday and find myself lured into the charm of coastline views and thermal spas across the Far East. This is swiftly followed by the realisation that £2,000 is probably a little extreme for some sunshine. So, feet firmly back on the ground I look at more realistic ways to travel and find that I’m never disappointed with what’s just on my doorstep.
Luckily, I’ve been able to visit a substantial amount of destinations (24 and counting) and that has shaped my outlook on what it means to really enjoy holidays, big or small. When it comes to planning, packing, spending and those exciting bits in between, I’ve managed to adopt a list of essential tips to guide me through, especially on a budget! This year, if a five star holiday to desolate sandy shores isn’t feasible but a three-day city break is, there’s no reason not to make the best memories!
Where to start?
– Write down what kind of holiday you want. What are your interests? Are you a huge foodie or culture enthusiast? Do you want to relax or explore? Let this be the basis of your search in terms of location
– Assess your budget and mentally stick to it; it’ll help you avoid browsing holidays that you simply can’t afford
– Who are you travelling with? Solo or a group? If it’s a group, who is the lead organiser? You’d be surprised how essential this is to save time and confusion
– Do your research! Get online, read magazines and blogs, speak to travel agents, friends and family. They are all helpful in planning a holiday
Six travel hacks:
– Price compare: Flights can drastically increase or decrease just days apart so it’s worth checking out a few different sites and being flexible with departure dates. Flying off-peak can save you £! Shop around for currency conversion rates too. Post Office Currency is a good start but avoid currency bureaus in busy stations and airports that will charge a premium.
– airbnb : A firm favourite. Take your pick of local people’s homes in near 200 destinations based on style, size, location and price. Let them host you or rent the entire property for your stay. It’s a revelation.
– easyJet Euro currency card: A simple and secure way to take money abroad. It’s free and uses chip and pin security. Oh, and there’s no transaction fees.
– Cash over card: I’d always advise taking cash (converted) and keeping a credit card as back up. You can monitor what you spend much easier avoid unnecessary charges.
– Avoid the excess: Pack with interchangeable outfits and accessories in mind rather than too many single items. Like a mini capsule wardrobe. You’ll save suitcase space, potential airport fees and time stressing in the mornings!
– Going solo: More and more of us are travelling alone and it’s a liberating experience. If a hotel isn’t on the cards, airbnb is perfect if you want a little home comfort. I’d always recommend learning just the basics of the language so you can talk to locals. Be sure to try new food, find new ways to relax and take in everything you see around you. It’s a completely different experience to having company 24/7 and you can plan your time (and expenditures) freely.
– Citymapper app: A great journey planner that is available for a wide range of destinations. It has live departrure times for all available transport, plus tube, train and metro line maps.
European city escapes:
If you are on a shoestring budget and a tight timescale, here’s my top four recommendations that can be reached within a few hours.
ooze Nordic charm and are aesthetically pleasing, within easy reach of major UK cities like London, and are a perfect mix of great food and culture. You’ll find cheap last minute flights on easyJet
and Sky Scanner
, two of my recommended travel websites, and once there you can travel mostly by foot or bike. Explore lush green spaces, island hop by boat, explore attractive shopping districts, eat your way through local delicacies and capture the candy coloured buildings through your lens. The streets are extremely clean, the people are friendly and the pace is uber laid-back.
is another incredible city full of vibrancy and adventure year-round! Whether you hit the stylish streets to people watch during Fashion Week, mingle with the locals at karneval der kulturen
, or explore the energetic nightlife and music scene, there’s something to keep you occupied from dusk till dawn. Make the most of free galleries, markets, coffe shops, lakes and parks. At its cheapest, you can get to Berlin for around £20 each way – a bargain if there ever was one! Most people speak fluent English there, so getting around is a breeze on public transport.
in the Czech Republic is a mere two-hour flight away from London, and it’s beautifully well preserved. Again, flights are a snip with airlines like easyJet and Ryan Air
. Explore the Old and New Towns, National Galleries and the historic Prague Castle, or enjoy live music through the cobbled streets before a dreamy sunset over Charles Bridge. Amongst bespoke jewellers, bakeries, bars and cultural hotspots, Prague will have you lusting over its picture perfect postcard streets.