Some travellers arrive at the airport way too early and find themselves purchasing lots of unnecessary items that they soon regret as soon as you board the plane. On the other hand, if travellers leave too little time to get to the airport they may find themselves running through the airport which gets their holiday off to a bad start. I've been in both of these situations and to this day still haven't found the perfect time to arrive at the airport where I'm not twiddling my thumbs in the departure lounge or worrying about whether my flight will leave without me.
For short-haul flights it's recommended that travellers arrive at least two hours before their flight departs so that they can go through the necessary steps of checking in. More importantly, it's important to set time aside to going through security since on the off chance that you're limited on time it may be the one time to which you're stopped and searched. However, these times can vary as Jet2 and TUI ask travellers travelling from the East Midlands to arrive three hours before their departure time. Additionally, Leeds Bradford Airport suggest that travellers should arrive two to three hours before their flight departs. After researching the different times that travellers should begin to go through the different stages of their journey at the airport, it's evident that some airports have streamlined their process whereas others evidently haven't. It seems that airports that are used by hundreds of thousands of passengers, or even millions, have streamlined their processes as they have stated the times in which passengers should arrive is a lot less than other smaller airports.
For long-haul flights it's recommended that travellers should arrive at least three to four hours before their flight departs so that they can go through the necessary steps of checking in. More importantly, there is a huge difference between short-haul and long-haul flights since those who are travelling without hand luggage on short-haul flights can simply go on through to security and then go to their gate. However, for those on a long-haul flight it's almost essential to go to a counter and offload your luggage, which in turn may take a large portion of time since there may be queues and unfortunately if you're caught out by the luggage scales you'd need to figure out a solution quickly. In an airport such as London Heathrow there are terminals that allow passengers to weigh their luggage, tag it and send it off without the need for staff at the airport to do so. When I'd travelled to New York in July 2019, it took me approximately 5 minutes to firstly queue up and then use the self-service machines in London Heathrow's Terminal 5 to weigh and tag my luggage. Additionally, it then took less than 5 minutes to go through security as I'd firstly had an early flight therefore there were only a few passengers travelling as well as having only a small amount of hand luggage on my person. As I'd arrived at the airport 3 hours beforehand and had departed with my luggage and gone through security in less than half an hour, I was left with over two hours to spend at the airport which became quite boring very quickly.
Dependant on the questions stated below, a traveller can determine how much time they would need at the airport, since they can review everything that an airport offers a traveller. For example, if I was travelling from London Gatwick Airport for a short-haul flight from the North Terminal which departs at 11:30am with EasyJet, it would result in a different set of timings. I would firstly have to acknowledge that EasyJet recommend that travellers should arrive at the airport two hours beforehand as the check-in desks close exactly 40 minutes before the scheduled departure - in this case I would have to arrive at the airport at 9:30am and the check-in would close 10:50am. This would leave me with exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes to firstly travel from The South Terminal at Gatwick Airport to The North Terminal via the shuttle provided. This takes at least 10 minutes in retrospect of waiting for a shuttle and the journey itself. Once in The North Terminal it would take me another 10 minutes to get to security and begin to queue up among other passengers. As I've already checked-in online and gained access to my boarding pass, I can go through to security and use my boarding pass to enter the barriers for security. As I'm travelling during an off-peak period I would set aside 15 minutes to get through security which includes time if I was stopped and searched. To get through to the Departure Lounge travellers are required to walk through Duty Free but as always I normally continue my journey without buying any additional extras. By the time that I would've entered the Departure Lounge it would be around 10am with the Departure Gate being announced around 30-40 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. Therefore, this would mean that at 10:50am the Departure Gate would be announced and travellers are advised to begin making their journey towards this. In turn, I would be left with 50 minutes to spare but as I would like to get breakfast from The Red Lion, I would have more than enough time to do this. However, passengers that are simply heading straight through the airport to the Departure Gate may find themselves with time to spare and in turn they may want to arrive at the airport a little later. EasyJet state that their Departure Gates close 25 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave but in turn this has been shown to be false with queues of passengers still waiting to have their passport and boarding pass checked during this time. However, as I would have my hand luggage with me I would prefer to be one of the first to board to make sure that I have an overhead locker to store my luggage within.
What To Consider Before Travelling To The Airport:
What To Consider When At The Airport:
Rome, with over nine million international tourists per year, it’s become one of the most popular cities in Europe to visit. There's so much to see and do in Rome - from visiting Ancient Ruins, visiting the Vatican City as well as trying the Roman Cuisine, there’s endless opportunities for those wishing to get an incredible experience from the city. However, with so much to see and do, it can be hard to see everything that’s been talked about and promised, especially with such a small time frame when visiting. Although, the saying goes “Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day”, as this attests to the need for time to create great things. With hundreds upon thousands of years passing with a range of different buildings, landmarks and attractions being built, it can be overwhelming with what to see and do first. However, I managed to see the main highlights of Rome without compromising on the quality of my experience as well as the itinerary of my day. Therefore, without further ado Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day, But I Managed To See It In A Day - here’s my itinerary for my day in Rome.
Throughout the day there were a range of different souvenirs bought for family and friends. These gift shops were located around Rome but were located near tourist destinations such as Termini, The Colosseum, The Vatican City as well as The Trevi Fountain. Moreover, even though this was one of my busiest days, it only highlights the majority of the main attractions that can be found throughout Rome. Therefore, each person will have their own idea of what they would like to see and visit while in Rome. This is simply an outline as to how much one person can accomplish throughout the day - dedicating time to shopping, breaks as well as finding somewhere to eat. Moreover, if you are in Rome for simply a day then make the most of it and if you’re spending a long weekend in Rome then make the most of it! Rome has so much to offer and needs to be taken advantage of while there.
Before visiting Amsterdam, I spent hours and hours searching through different travel websites, blogs and forums to determine how much my trip to Amsterdam would cost me. Not only are there a range of different factors such as accommodation and flights but also other factors such as spending money, attractions and landmarks and many more! Even the smallest of things such as travel insurance can't be overlooked especially when travelling internationally as these prices seem to increase dramatically in consideration of my health as well as the tablets I’m currently on. I kept every single receipt from the moment I booked my flights and hotel to the moment I got on the plane at Amsterdam which marked the end of my trip. There are 7 different factors which compiled my budget:
Flights to Amsterdam are very generally very cheap when travelling from Europe, the UK especially, since it’s less than an hour's flight or just under two for those living in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Denmark to name a few. Regardless, if you book flights in advance then you’re more than certain to get the best deal whereas if you book last minute then you’ll be expected to pay a premium price for leaving it so late. Luckily for me I was able to book return flights with easyJet for £50.98 as there was an offer promoting flights for £29.99 for a one way journey, therefore I took advantage and booked return flights at this price. However, EasyJet does charge passengers to reserve a seat but since this flight was less than an hour, I decided against paying £4.99 per seat, per way, which is a price that grew the closer you got to the front rows of the plane. Luckily I was able to check-in 30 days before and found out that I was seated in the eighteenth row with both an aisle seat and the person I was travelling with sitting next to me. Even though I’ve always boasted about how EasyJet are a low-budget airline therefore there are minor faults to be expected, my journey back from Amsterdam was nothing short of a nightmare. Therefore, I wouldn’t be flying with EasyJet in the future since I’d rather pay extra and fly with airlines such as British Airways as they pride themselves on great customer service and satisfaction. Although, if you want to find out more information regarding easyJet then click here to see whether easyJet are worth flying with for their inexpensive tickets. If you want more information regarding easyJet Plus, a service providing additional benefits and extras for an annual fee, then click here to read more.
Amsterdam attracts 20 million tourists throughout the year, as people travel from far and wide to visit Anne Frank’s House, The Red Light District, The Van Gogh Museum as well as the hundreds of different landmarks and activities that Amsterdam offers. There are thousands of different accommodation options in Amsterdam, each located near to a popular tourist destination and important landmark, in turn increasing the price drastically and some establishments wanted upwards of €100 for one room for one night, with little amenities but the unique selling point that they were located within Amsterdam’s City Centre. Either way, I began searching for accommodation in Amsterdam by using Booking.com to search through and narrow down my choices of accommodation for a hotel in Amsterdam, rather than searching for a hostel or an apartment. From there I narrowed my search down to hotels that were located within the city of Amsterdam but far enough away from major attractions to prevent overpaying for a room that would’ve otherwise been a lot more inexpensive. After an extensive search of hotels located near various transport links to get around the city as well as a hotel that wasn’t too far away from the City Centre since I didn’t want to be reminded of the vibrant nightlife that Amsterdam has. With a list of a handful of hotels located near Leidseplein I did my own research into the hotel’s reviews from TripAdvisor which was very surprising yet I’m grateful I dug deeper into people’s experiences with certain hotels. Even though Leidseplein is primarily known for its nightlife, I found a hotel located down a quiet street surrounded by restaurants and less than a minutes walk from a wide variety of shops. I finally decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at: Hotel La Bohème which cost £158 per person, as there were three of us travelling. This price was based on a 3-night stay which included a double room with a double bed as well as another spacious room with lots of different amenities both in the room and the hotel itself. The hotel prided itself on their high rating from previous visitors as well as their high standards, to which I can vouch for, as our stay was perfect from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. What I liked most about Hotel La Bohème is that it prides itself on being an “small eco minded hotel with a homely atmosphere” and there was even a cat called Mimi - it doesn’t get any better than that!
I’ve visited Amsterdam before and I’d experienced firsthand how Amsterdam came to become the Bicycle Capital of the world with the added feature of canals everywhere you looked. Moreover, I walked near enough everywhere when I visited Amsterdam previously and this trip was planned to be exactly the same - even using public transport to get to and from the airport in the bid to be more environmentally friendly. However, it should be noted that Amsterdam has a very extensive Tram Network to which takes tourists across the city for €3.20, the price of a ticket for an hour of the GVB Network, to which is all a tourist needs if travelling to attractions such as The Anne Frank House, The Van Gogh Museum or even if they’re travelling to a destination to meet up for a walking tour (this is something I’d highly recommend). Additionally, public transport was very handy when travelling to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which is accessible by Train, Bus and Taxi. On my outbound journey I got the Amsterdam Airport Express Bus, Line 397, which cost €6 for a single ticket, which had a journey time of 45 minutes but nonetheless had beautiful sights throughout it. On the other hand my return journey consisted of walking to Centraal Station, taking around 35 minutes, to then getting the Train run by Dutch Railways, costing €5.50 including €1 surcharge for a disposable ticket. This journey time was very quick with a journey time of only 15 minutes, we sat down and then found ourselves getting comfortable then having to get up again. Regardless, I only spent £10.12 (€11.50) while in Amsterdam as I walked to every attraction and only had to pay to make my journey to and from Schiphol Airport.
One of the most important factors travellers should consider before booking their flights and accommodation for Amsterdam, or any holiday in general, would be purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is so important as it prevents travellers from being out of pocket as well as being covered for their gadgets, baggage, flights or anything that may misfortune travellers throughout their trip and most importantly their health. As I say, you cannot put a price on health, but while buying travel insurance I was more than happy to pay £8.52 which was a Single Trip Insurance which covered mostly all of the factors mentioned above. Even though I thankfully didn’t need to use my travel insurance, I was more than grateful to have it if I did need it.
Attractions & Activities
Attractions and activities can range in price depending on the budget of the person travelling as well as what they plan to do throughout their stay in Amsterdam. For example, if a traveller wants to visit The Red Light District then they can do so for free, as it’s just a street, whereas others may want a private tour detailing the specific history of the street. This may set travellers back anywhere from €10 to €50 depending on the size of the group as well as if it’s a private tour or if it operates on a “Pay-As-You-Feel” basis. The same rule applies for those wishing to visit a range of different museums while in Amsterdam, as some museums offer free admission whereas others operate on a basis where visitors must pay and in some cases reserve a ticket. For example, Anne Frank’s House requires visitors to pre-book a ticket online, preferably two months beforehand, to which they then reserve a specific time slot and arrive there accordingly. Tickets cannot be bought on the door anymore as there were a range of issues with people queuing up for hours without the guarantee of a ticket as well as people queue jumping and pushing in. However, the same principle doesn’t apply for The Van Gogh Museum as tickets can be bought in advance or on the day throughout the self-service machines provided outside of the building itself. Although I would advise those planning to go to reserve a ticket as it allows visitors to skip the queue to which the line looks never ending. As those I travelled with wanted to see Amsterdam but was unsure of what to see and where to visit, I participated in two walking tours with a company called Amsterdam Free Walking Tours. Amsterdam Free Walking Tours operate on a “Pay-As-You-Feel” basis which makes travellers not feel obliged to pay for a service that they didn’t enjoy or deem worthy of a monetary tip. However, these two tours provided by Amsterdam Free Walking Tours were thoroughly enjoyable and informative, which allowed me to learn more about Amsterdam while seeing the highlights of the city, even though I’d visited before. Since I enjoyed these tours I was able to leave monetary tips for the guides services and since they rely on tips for their work. More information regarding the debate where “Free Walking Tours” are actually free can be read more thoroughly by clicking here. Throughout my time in Amsterdam I also visited Anne Frank’s House since after reading Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl again, it was an immersive experience by putting a visual image to the text in the book. Additionally, I visited the Xtracold Icebar as well as Glow-In-The-Dark Mini Golf for a bit of fun throughout my stay, which was inexpensive but worth every penny in terms of finding an activity to do in Amsterdam that wasn’t swarmed by tourists. It should be noted that most attractions and places to visit are free to see, it shouldn't be deemed expensive as people only pay for what they wish to see. In total I spent £67.24 (€76.50) on attractions and activities in Amsterdam. All tickets were booked in advance via GetYourGuide where you're able to buy tickets that allow visitors to skip the line as well as being able to modify or cancel these tickets before or during your trip. Additionally, the tickets for Anne Frank’s House can be bought directly on the website where there’s added information regarding your visit, opening times as well as how to get there.
Amsterdam has a range of shops throughout the City Centre including well known brands such as Primark, C&A, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, DKNY, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren as well as Foot Locker. There’s tons of shopping promenades across Amsterdam, most being surrounded by souvenir shops and overpriced tourist traps the closer you get to Centraal Station - the reason being is that before people travel to Schiphol Airport these shops become an attractive option. Either way, I was able to put some money aside for souvenirs for family members and friends, this came out to a lot more than I was expecting. Even though I’d visited Amsterdam previously, there were a wide array of people I needed to buy souvenirs for including those I worked with as well as for family members who had requested specific products they couldn’t get where they lived. Moreover, since it’s unlikely I’d travel back to Amsterdam for a while I took full advantage of the range of souvenir shops nearby. As Amsterdam is known for The Red Light District, there were quite a few souvenirs that I bought and hoped friends would see the funny side - what was not funny however was the security staff pulling these souvenirs out of my suitcase and holding them up proudly. I got a range of different souvenirs ranging from baby grows, a frame, a postcard, magnets and bookmarks - I could’ve easily set up shop on the plane and offered these to tourists returning home. In total I spent £40.18 (€45.66), this is quite a lot on souvenirs but considering it’s very unlikely that I’ll return as well as buying for a wide range of family and friends, it seemed reasonable.
Food and Drink
It's very hard to determine how much travellers should budget when travelling to Amsterdam for food and drink. There are people who don't mind a €1 chocolate bar and a €3 pastry or piece of cake whereas there are others who prefer to dine in fancier and therefore more expensive restaurants. I had three meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a quick snack. Within the price of the room rate breakfast was included, La Bohème offered a wide spread of continental items as well as a selection of cooked items leaving us spoilt for choice. In this section I include snacks bought from supermarkets and small corner shops near the hotel, as we were able to store them in the room since there was a lot of storage. La Bohème also offered a vending machine which offered soft drinks to visitors, which were priced at €1-2 per item, which was a lot cheaper than buying the item from a supermarket so of course I took full advantage. Every person has different tastes in food as well as some having dietary requirements which makes it hard to pinpoint a budget for food and drink. I budgeted €30-40 per day:
TOTAL SPENT FOR 4 DAYS IN AMSTERDAM: £407.85 (Approximately €462.93)
Even though this was my second trip to Amsterdam I had still planned that I would spend a lot, especially with accommodation and shopping since it would be unlikely that I would return to Amsterdam as I’ve now been there twice. There wasn’t one category that dominated the majority of my expenses except for the flights and hotel, which is expected since they’re unavoidable to get at a very low price. As I split the expenses with two other people that I was travelling with, it made it a lot more affordable and overall made the trip more enjoyable. Others may prefer airlines, hotels and dining at restaurants that cost less whereas others may pay for more if they want to experience Amsterdam in style and luxury.
Before visiting Rome, I spent hours and hours searching through different travel websites, blogs and forums to determine how much my trip to Rome would cost me. Not only are there a range of different factors such as accommodation and flights but also other factors such as spending money, attractions and landmarks as well as many more! Even the smallest of things such as travel insurance can't be overlooked especially when travelling internationally, these prices seem to increase dramatically in consideration of my health as well as the tablets I’m currently on. I kept every single receipt from the moment I booked my flights and hotel to the moment I got on the plane at Rome which marked the end of my trip. There are 7 different factors which compiled my budget:
Flights to Rome are generally very inexpensive for those travelling within a 3 hour radius, such as from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Denmark to name a few. Regardless, if you book flights in advance then you’re more than certain to get the best deal whereas if you book last minute then you’ll be expected to pay a premium price for leaving it so late. Luckily for me I was able to book return flights with easyJet for £78.03 which included a seat reservation on my outbound flight and my inbound flight back to London Gatwick. Additionally I paid an extra £7 to go “Hands Free”, meaning I could put my cabin bag under the plane and avoid the rush for the overhead lockers. The flights itself was booked in May 2019 for January 2020 and as I travelled outside of school holidays it led to my flights being reasonable cheaper compared to flights during February. EasyJet only allows one type of service onboard which only allows passengers to one piece of hand luggage and a small handbag or rucksack. EasyJet provided a great service for both flights, especially when the plane faced a lot of turbulence on the returning flight from Rome to London Gatwick. Whenever I travel to countries that are only a short journey from London I always use easyJet since they mostly provide a reliable service for inexpensive prices. If you want to find out more information regarding easyJet then click here to see whether easyJet are worth flying with for their inexpensive tickets. If you want more information regarding easyJet Plus, a service providing additional benefits and extras for an annual fee, then click here to read more.
As Rome attracts nearly 10 million tourists throughout the year, as people travel from far and wide to visit the Colosseum, The Vatican City, The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill as well as the hundreds of different landmarks and activities that Rome offers. There are thousands of different accommodation options in Rome, each located near to a popular tourist destination and important landmark, in turn increasing the price drastically and some establishments wanted upwards of €100 for one room for one night while providing some amenities but the unique selling point being that they were located next to The Vatican City. Either way, I began searching for accommodation in Rome by using Booking.com to search through and narrow down my choices of accommodation for a hotel in Rome, rather than searching for a hostel or an apartment. From there I narrowed my search down to hotels that were located within the city of Rome but far enough away from major attractions to prevent overpaying for a room that would’ve otherwise been a lot more inexpensive. After an extensive search of hotels located near Termini Station, a major transport hub in Rome allowing visitors to use various transport links to get around the city, since it was the most inexpensive but most reliable place to stay throughout my time in Rome. With a list of a handful of hotels located near Termini Station I did my own research into the hotel’s reviews from TripAdvisor which was very surprising yet I’m grateful I digged deeper into people’s experiences with certain hotels. One of the hotels I favoured came out to be one in which residents were woken up constantly by thin walls, they found bed bugs and other insects in their room as well as being greeted by rude staff. I finally decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at: Relais de l'Opera which cost £95 per person, as there were two of us travelling. This price was based on a 3-night stay which included a double room with a double bed, an spacious room with lots of different amenities both in the room and the hotel itself. The hotel prided itself on their high rating from previous visitors as well as their high standards, to which I can vouch for, as our stay was perfect from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.
Transport was one of the first factors I considered before even travelling to Rome since it would be the main factor involved in getting to and from the airport as well as travelling throughout Rome. While planning my itinerary I researched where certain shops, landmarks and attractions were and from there I researched how to get there from Relais de l'Opera. As mentioned before, Relais de l'Opera was located near Termini Station which has various transport links including access to the Metro, buses and trams. Another station which was located just a few minutes walk from Relais de l'Opera was Repubblica Station, which connects with various stations such as Spagna, Ottaviano and Flaminio on Line A. Even though I had planned to walk to the majority of the activities and landmarks I planned to visit in Rome, I wanted to make use of the transport links available to me, especially when travelling back to Relais de l’Opera when it got a lot darker at night. Since I was unsure as to when I would need to use the Metro, I only bought tickets when needed - essentially “Pay As You Go”. As I only used the Metro 3 times, with a journey costing €1.50, it set me back €4.50 for three journeys, with each ticket allowing me 100 minutes on the Rome Metro system which was an added bonus. Another aspect of transport that I used throughout my stay in Rome was the Leonardo Express, which is run by Trenitalia, connecting Rome Termini and Fiumicino Airport. One ticket, with the only option being First Class, cost €14 per way, per person. This method of transport was not only quick and efficient but was very inexpensive in comparison to a taxi service which would’ve cost almost triple. As I only used the Rome Metro system and the Leonardo Express throughout my trip with no private taxis taken, it brought my total for transport to £27.50 (€32.50).
One of the most important factors travellers should consider before booking their flights and accommodation for Rome, or any holiday in general, would be purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is so important as it prevents travellers from being out of pocket as well as being covered for their gadgets, baggage, flights or anything that may misfortune travellers throughout their trip and most importantly their health. As I say, you cannot put a price on health, but while buying travel insurance I was more than happy to pay £8.52 which was a Single Trip Insurance which covered mostly all of the factors mentioned above. Even though I thankfully didn’t need to use my travel insurance, I was more than grateful to have it if I did need it.
Attractions & Activities
Attractions and activities can range in price depending on the budget of the person travelling as well as what they plan to do throughout their stay in Rome. For example, if a traveller wants to visit The Colosseum then it’ll set them back €16, this price including entry to The Roman Forum, Palatine, Imperial Forums Archaeological Area as well as if there’s any additional exhibitions currently being held. Although, if a traveller wants to visit The Colosseum but wants a private tour then this could cost as much as €100 depending on the company you decide to book with. The same rule applies for those wishing to visit a range of different museums while in Rome, as some museums offer free admission whereas others operate on a basis where visitors must pay and in some cases reserve a ticket. For example, tickets to The Vatican Museums can be reserved or be bought on the day, although I would advise those planning to go that reserving a ticket allows visitors to skip the queue to which the line looks never ending. As I wanted to see Rome but was unsure of what to see and where to visit, I participated in two walking tours with a company called Rome Free Walking Tours. Rome Free Walking Tours operate on a “Pay-As-You-Feel” basis which makes travellers not feel obliged to pay for a service that they didn’t enjoy or deem worthy of a monetary tip. However, these two tours provided by Rome Free Walking Tours were thoroughly enjoyable and informative, which allowed me to learn more about Rome while seeing the highlights of the city. Since I enjoyed these tours I was able to leave monetary tips for the guides services and since they reply on tips for their work. More information regarding the debate where “Free Walking Tours” are actually free can be read more thoroughly by clicking here. Throughout my time in Rome I also visited St Peter’s Basilica which allows free admission on the basis that visitors queue up and then become subject of a security check. It should be noted that most attractions and places to visit are free to see, it shouldn't be deemed expensive as people only pay for what they wish to see. In total I spent £38.79 (€46) on attractions and activities in Rome, which include visiting The Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, The Pantheon and the numerous piazzas across Rome as well as participating in two walking tours. All tickets were booked in advance via CoopCulture where you're able to buy tickets that allow visitors to skip the line but unfortunately not being able to modify or cancel these tickets before or during your trip.
Rome is home to many designer shops including Gucci, Dior, Bulgari and Dolce & Gabbana, making it an exclusive shopping destination to those who want to treat themselves to luxurious items. Even though these shops caught my eye and ideas of these items filled my head, I soon got brought back to reality when I received a text from my bank stating that I should make sure I have enough money to cover future payments. Either way, I was able to put some money aside for souvenirs for family members and friends, this came out to a lot more than I was expecting. In St Peter’s Basilica there’s the opportunity to buy glass containers with a silver oxidised medallion of The Vatican City printed on the front, which cost a mere €3 which can be filled with Holy Water. This water has been blessed through a public blessing in St Peter’s Basilica by Pope Francis, which made it a perfect gift for my family and friends who are religious. Other items were available to buy from St Peter’s Basilica such as rosary beads, small charms and a range of other items in relation to religious themes and Pope Francis. Although, there are a range of souvenir shops located outside of The Vatican City and around Rome which are considerably cheaper but come without the notion that it was bought on holy land. These souvenir shops are perfect for those wanting something very small to those wanting something very large, with reasonable prices wherever I visited. In one shop I found a snow globe priced at €2 whereas another shop located next to The Colosseum was priced at €7 simply because of the location. In total I spent £40.90 (€48.50), this is quite a lot on souvenirs but considering it’s very unlikely that I’ll return as well as buying for a wide range of family and friends, it seemed reasonable.
Food & Drink
It's very hard to determine how much travellers should budget when travelling to Rome for food and drink. There are people who don't mind a €1 slice of pizza and a €3 pastry or piece of cake whereas there are others who prefer to dine in more fancier and therefore more expensive restaurants. I had three meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a quick snack. Within the price of the room rate breakfast was included, Relais de l’Opera offered a wide spread of continental items as well as a selection of cooked items leaving us spoilt for choice. In this section I include snacks bought from Coop and a small corner shop near the hotel, as we were able to put them in the minibar provided to us by Relais de l’Opera. The minibar was also used by the hotel to offer soft drinks to visitors, which were priced at €1 per item, which was a lot cheaper than buying the item from a supermarket so of course I took full advantage. Every person has different tastes in food as well as some having dietary requirements which makes it hard to pinpoint a budget for food and drink. I budgeted €30-40 per day:
TOTAL SPENT FOR 4 DAYS IN ROME: £352.39 (Approximately €417.87)
As this was my first trip to Rome I had planned that I would spend a lot, especially with accommodation and shopping since it would be unlikely that I would return to Rome as I’ve now been there. There wasn’t one category that dominated the majority of my expenses except for the flights and hotel, which is expected since they’re unavoidable to get at a very low price. However, I preferred flying with easyJet from previous experience as well as knowing I’d be in good hands with Relais de l’Opera. As I split the expenses with the person I was travelling with, it made it a lot more affordable and overall made the trip more enjoyable. Others may prefer airlines, hotels and dining at restaurants that cost less whereas others may pay for more if they want to experience Rome in style and luxury.
Even though many people think that a simple journey from your home to your soon to be flight won’t cost much, once you add up all the costs involved regarding transport as well as food and drink as they're commonly overlooked, it soon adds up to a lot more than you'd expect. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of this and treating my hard earned cash like monopoly money since I’ve convinced myself that I somehow deserve it - well technically I do, that’s why I’m on holiday right?
You’ve got all your bags packed and you’re ready to leave, the next step would be getting to the airport from your home. Whether you’re driving to the airport or getting a taxi service to drive you there, it can become very costly depending on the distance travelled as well as the fares for that specific area. In London it would cost around £50-70 to get to Gatwick Airport by taxi compared to a small fee that will cover petrol costs - if you’re travelling with family and friends then it may work out even cheaper. However, if you’re located within London then you would’ve seen countless adverts for The Gatwick Express which states that you can go from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport in just under 30 minutes making it a quick and reliable way to travel. Unfortunately, this service does come with a price tag that currently stands at £17 for a Single Direct Ticket if bought on the day. Luckily there’s other trains that service airports across the UK including Thameslink and Southern which offer tickets at an inexpensive and standard price when compared to services such as The Gatwick Express. Regardless, there is still a small price to pay when travelling to and from the airport regardless of how you’re getting there with.
If you’ve travelled by car and saved yourself a small fortune on purchasing train tickets or paying for an expensive taxi to the airport there’s still the case of parking charges at the airport. Unfortunately these charges are quite expensive for simply leaving a car in a designated space for the length of time you’re away. The charges depend on what airport you’re travelling from but can cost as much as £30 per day as well as there being a small charge if you’re simply dropping passengers off. Additionally, from the car park you may be charged a fee to get a shuttle bus to the terminal itself - everything is about money nowadays and airports will squeeze every penny they can out of people.
If you’re like me and like arriving to the airport the night before with the addition of booking a hotel room, then that can also be costly. However, there are some bargains out there which was seen where I found a hotel room in Heathrow Airport for £21 - more information regarding that blog post can be found by clicking here. Although, hotel rooms get more expensive the closer it’s situated to the airport with many hotels charging in excess of £200 a night for a bed, shower and toilet for the night. The reason I prefer staying in hotels is because the trains departing from London can be quite problematic at the worst of times, especially if I have an early flight. It simply saves me the hassle of having to get a taxi to the train station and from there a train to the airport - without the fear of missing my flight.
At the airport there are a range of different terminals, each with their own specific airlines and destinations. Unfortunately, if you pick the wrong terminal and discover that you need to travel to another one then you may be charged to get a shuttle or a train, which happened to me when I was travelling home from Australia. As a family member dropped me off at the wrong terminal I had to pay $5 for a 5 minute journey to get to another terminal. Even though this is a small price to pay, it’s the principle of lots of passengers paying this fee makes a small fortune for the company operating these shuttles since they know passengers will pay for it. Luckily, Gatwick Airport offer a free shuttle from the South Terminal to the North Terminal but this same principle won’t apply for all airports throughout the UK.
Another fee that some passengers may incur intentionally or unintentionally would be a luggage charge. Some passengers will intentionally overfill their bags so that it’s overweight to bring home items that they’ve bought, which they’ll happily pay a charge for at the airport at no trouble to them. However, some passengers may be caught off guard with a hefty fee even if their suitcase is only slightly over the limit - some staff members will not allow you even the extra 0.1kg whereas others will - it’s simply not worth the risk. Each airline has their own weight specifications which I’d advise passengers to look at before travelling as well as their allowances.
Travelling through security can be a lengthy and frustrating process, especially when passengers don’t understand the concept of taking all items out from their personal possession and declaring what’s in their luggage. Luckily, airports have added a paid feature for those who simply want quickness and easiness throughout their journey by adding a “Fast Track Security Lane”. Once again though, this is a paid luxury with a range of prices depending on the specific airport but unfortunately does cost an arm and a leg for less than a minute of putting your luggage down and walking through a scanner. It’s easy to understand why passengers choose this for, especially during peak times, since it’s an easy way to get through security, especially if you have children, which will allow you to be in and out within minutes.
Once you’ve dropped off your bags and gone through security you’re now free to roam around the airport until your gate is displayed. What’s that? You’re hungry? Well then you won’t find any bargains at the airport, more so that you will spend an absolute fortune on items that you could get at any supermarket for a quarter of the price. Whether you’re eating in a restaurant or cafe or simply picking up a sandwich to eat on the plane then you will find yourself spending a lot more than you’d have hoped. Even a meal deal for a simple sandwich, drink and a small packet of crisps can cost as much as £5. It gets even worse when you see the costs of hot food and drinks on the flight itself, a meal deal is priced at around £8/9 for the same three options as standard - a hot sandwich or baguette accompanied with a drink and a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps.
Not only is food and drink one of the more pricier items throughout the flight, duty free is advertised throughout the flight whether it be flight attendants or the catalogue in front of you displaying “unmissable deals”. As mentioned in a previous blog post, companies will sell you items that they know is beyond your liquid limits so that in turn you will have to pay for your luggage to be put in the hold, if it’s not already. Either way, these deals can be found on the high street with even more discounts than Duty Free - for me it’s a decision that people feel pressured to make with the time constraints provided and the feeling that they should treat themselves since they’re on holiday.
If you thought that these were the only purchases that can be made in regard to your actual flight, this is far from the truth. Once you've booked your flights you will be given the option of being able to purchase seats with people you’re travelling with or towards the front of the plane. For example, seats at the front of the plane will be the most expensive which depends on the duration of the flight, which starts at around £20 for short haul flights which can go as far as £70 for long haul flights. Either way, if you want to sit next to family and friends then you will be faced with a charge, which seems unnecessary, but it’s another way to make money from passengers throughout their flight.
Not only can an airport be a place to wait for your flight but a place where you can relax, enjoy comfortable seating while enjoying a buffet meal as well as having access to spa facilities. You can even feel rejuvenated and refreshed by the added extras of showers and even more surprisingly a small cinema to enjoy the latest releases. Buying a pass to the lounge can range in price depending on the facilities but it’s in the price range of £60 to £100 for just a few hours of access. Although, if you’re set on going to a lounge before your flight then go on an empty stomach and make sure you make use of all the facilities on offer.
Using Public Transport
Instead of using private taxis or renting a car while you’re travelling, there’s a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to get around. Public transport can cut carbon emissions as well as being accessible in many countries - every country I’ve visited I’ve used public transport in one form or another to get around the city without breaking the bank too. For example, in New York I could see yellow taxis as far as the eye could see but there’s also an extensive metro system as well as the use of trains to get to and from the airport. One better than public transport would be walking, in some instances public transport is absolutely needed, but there are some journeys that can be considered walkable. Not only is walking a way to keep healthy but it’s also one to see the sights around the place you’re visiting.
Try and Pick Direct Flights
Flights are the guiltiest members out of all forms of transport for the increasingly high CO2 emissions - with hundreds of flights leaving a day it’ll take a huge impact to cut these down. However, if you go out of your way to book direct flights then this will reduce the demand for a second flight to take you to your final destination - such as from London Heathrow to New York and from there to Las Vegas. Or, if possible, there’s the option of travelling by train and ferry to certain destinations both in your country and surrounding countries. Not only can a train and ferry hold over double the passengers that an aircraft could, it also works out environmentally friendlier in the long run. The Man in Seat 61 found that travelling from London to Paris by plane creates 240kg of CO2 emissions compared to only 22kg of CO2 by using the Eurostar. Additionally, the journey time is less and overall more efficient in terms of being environmentally friendly as the CO2 emissions are reduced by 91% when using the Eurostar instead of a plane.
Bringing Eco-friendly Materials
Nothing can be overlooked when trying to be environmentally friendly - even the simplest of things such as a reusable shopping bag and a water bottle (preferably one made out of stainless steel or one which is completely plastic free). Plastic bags take hundreds upon hundreds of years to decompose and more worryingly most of it ends up in the ocean which in turn hurts our ocean wildlife. Around most cities there’s at least a few water fountains around which allow visitors fill up their water bottles for the day ahead. In reception areas there may be a water bottle for the same use also, if not then there should be some form of drinkable water on site - if in doubt then there’s no harm asking. If you have the money and are willing to invest in a bamboo toothbrush and hairbrush then go ahead - they’re environmentally friendly and I’ve heard that they’re better than plastic toothbrushes and hairbrushes. There has now been a rise in the availability of metal razors rather than using plastic ones and the use of menstrual cups rather than menstrual pads and tampons - every little act helps the environment in one way or another.
The Simple Things
The small things lead to a bigger picture and this case your small actions can lead to a big environmental impact from just an individual alone. In your accommodation these small actions can be reusing your towels rather than asking for them to be washed everyday as well as the same principle being applied for bed sheets. As someone who washes their bed sheets weekly as well as their towels every other day - I wouldn’t expect any more at a hotel than what I’d usually do. Even avoiding the single use shampoo, conditioner and soap given to guests complimentary - even the single use shower caps should be left alone. Everything is made of plastic as this material is cheap and seems to be a reliable way to keep products fresh. The majority of hotels and establishments still supply single use plastics but hopefully in the near future they will resort to more sustainable materials that will help the environment. Guests should try not to have long showers and turn off the lights when out or not needed - these tips sound simple but the majority of people don’t understand how these small acts can make a big difference. Even asking if you can recycle items such as shopping bags made from paper in your hotel is better than simply throwing them away when they’re recyclable products. Most hotels just supply one bin - used for rubbish, which cleaning staff simply bin as that’s what a bin is for - rather than seeing what can be recycled and what can’t. Overall, the best way to be environmentally friendly would be to avoid single use plastic in all shapes and forms - from plastic cups to the plastic that sanitary products come in that are sometimes offered.
Watch What You Buy As A Souvenir
In certain countries there may be souvenirs made out of endangered species which not only endangers our wildlife even more but you may be found to be breaking the law when you return home. If tourists keep buying these souvenirs then it’s a sign that these products are in demand which mean more endangered animals will be killed - supply and demand. Avoid small plastic souvenirs that seem mass produced - for example if you see lots of small plastic toys that clearly say “Made in China” they’re not representing the country you’ve visited. Instead buy local - it’ll be more likely that your money will go directly to local people and help a small business rather than supporting a large business. Buying from local shops and people will also mean you’re helping the economy and helping these people carry on their work. If you have your heart set on getting a souvenir then make sure it’s a practical one - not something that will stay on a shelf and collect dust over time. Even the best memories can be recorded in a journal or by taking pictures on your phone that can be developed once you’re back home.
When flying there’s numerous ways to save the environment - from taking reusable straws with you to then rejecting the plastic covered materials given on-board. Reusable cutlery is one of the cheapest options for those wanting to reject the plastic spoons, forks and knives which are then covered in plastic during flights. If you bring your own earphones or headphones then you can then reject the single use earphones which are also covered in plastic too - you get the idea with flights and single use plastic. Single use plastic is also used on the blankets and pillows given to passengers on long haul flights - even though this keeps the blankets and pillows clean and new - there are other environmentally friendly alternatives. If you really want to research how to be environmentally friendly, then you can research what airlines are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.
No I didn’t just create a random word by headbutting my keyboard - plogging is the new trendy term for jogging and picking up litter. Not only can you stay healthy but you can reduce the impact of litter on our beautiful beaches and surrounding areas. This trend really took off in recent months and for the better - you can recycle and throw away items that you find to prevent them from going into the ocean and harming wildlife. As the slogan goes “The rubbish way to get fit” really means what it says - you can make a difference to both your body and the environment in one small step - or preferably lots of small steps.
While abroad, what's the point of going to chain restaurants and even worse fast food restaurants that you know and potentially love. Why travel across the world to eat the same fast food that you eat in your home country? Eating locally not only allows visitors to experience new flavours and food but uses local produce and ingredients - which in turn prevents food waste and reduces the travel time between farm and table. Street food is also cheaper than restaurants allowing visitors to get incredible food for a fraction of the price while getting an authentic experience. If you do visit a restaurant and have some food leftover - ask for a doggy bag so that you can prevent your food from going to waste and straight into the bin. Too Good To Go is an incredible app that prevents food from going to waste - click here to read about it!
With the notion that people are trying to become more environmentally friendly in all possible ways there has been a rise with eco-friendly hotels across the globe. These hotels ensure that they operate in a sustainable manner which is seen through all aspects of a guests visit. The smaller things consist of low energy light bulbs, buying in bulk as well as encouraging and providing information on how guests can reduce their carbon footprint and help the environment. Information about the hotel itself and maps are used with recycled paper as well as breakfast consisting of organic produce which can either be grown on site or bought locally. Any waste that comes directly from the hotel will be put into a compost - such as food waste from breakfast such as fruit and bread. Solar panels will be found across the roof to prevent the use of electricity as much as possible and furniture such as beds and tables will be made from sustainable source material. In some of the rooms there may be plants dotted around the room as these absorb toxins from the air as well as just creating a nice little touch for travellers.
Travelling can be stressful for some, with people on the other side of the world wondering if they made sure they turned off the tap in the bathroom and whether their house is safe. If something unexpected happens while you’re abroad, you need to make sure that you have everything you’d need including access to your debit and credit cards as well as knowing how to contact your travel insurance provider.
Have You Got Everything?
Before you make your trip to the airport the first thing to do is make sure that you have everything. It seems silly and unnecessary but you’d be surprised at the amount of people that turn up to the airport without essential items such as their passport and information regarding their flight or booking. Writing a checklist is the easiest way to make sure you’ve got everything and prevents those self-doubts when you’re at 35,000 feet. The most important items include: passport, VISA documents, hotel or accommodation confirmation, travel insurance documents, credit or debit cards as well as money.
Travel insurance is one of the most important items you will need before travelling - make sure that you know what your travel insurance covers as well as how much you’re covered for. If you’ve purchased an annual policy then make sure it’s in date and includes the countries you’re visiting. For example, some policies have some exclusions when travelling within Europe and within the United States as well as countries such as Turkey and Egypt. Most importantly, make sure that you have information that you may need if you run into a problem as well as your policy documents to refer to (including your policy reference number and any supporting documents).
Is Your Passport in Date?
Another stupid question but regardless your passport doesn’t expire on the date that it states it expires - technically. Certain countries require visitors to have more than 6 months left on their passport to enter. Imagine getting all the way to your final destination to be told that you cannot enter because you simply didn’t spend a few seconds checking that you have enough months left on your passport. While you’re checking these dates you should also check if you have enough pages left to be given a stamp stating what date you need to leave the country by. If you’re a frequent traveller then you’d know how quickly these pages can become filled out - especially when border control officials pick a spot that nearly takes up the whole page.
Do You Have A Visa?
When booking your holiday the airline you’re flying with usually recommends getting your Visa to prevent any last minute panicking - especially if you’re at the airport and remember you’ve completely forgotten to buy one. It took me around 3 minutes to look at Visa Application Fees through GOV.UK. Applying for an ESTA, which is the American version of a Visa, took me no more than 20 minutes as well as only taking around a week to get it confirmed. Depending on the country you’re visiting, Visas can cost up to £100, which would not only break the bank if booking last minute but eats into your hard earned spending money.
If you plan to rent a car while you’re abroad then make sure that you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) if needed as well as your driver's license from your home country. An International Driving Permit may only be needed if you’re travelling outside of the EU but there’s also specific requirements that need to be followed such as overseas driving rules. For some countries you may need to purchase emission stickers as well as headlight converter stickers which conforms to the state and local rules. Not only will you be breaking the law if you do not abide by these rules but you could be in for a hefty fine too.
If you’re on medication then not only must you make sure that you have enough to last you for the duration of your trip but also make sure that your medication has your name clearly stated on it. If your bag is searched and a your medication is found without any labels or signage that states that it's yours - the border control will not only have a hard time believing you but may also confiscate it if it’s a controlled drug. I always make sure that I bring a copy of my prescription as well as making sure that all medication is in my hand luggage and readily available if it needs inspection.
Have You Got Your Travel Vaccinations?
Depending on the country you’re visiting, visitors are advised to get their vaccinations to prevent against diseases found in other parts of the world. In the UK there’s four vaccinations which are currently free: polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera - more information can be found by clicking here. Some countries also require proof of vaccination, so it would be important to keep a record and carry any documents supporting these just in case they’re needed. If you have an immune deficiency and want to travel to certain countries then you may be strongly advised by your GP to avoid certain vaccinations - it’s better to be safe than sorry so check before you even begin to book up your holiday.
It would be advisable to make a small first aid kit, even if you’ve planned to stay in the hotel the entire time, as anything can happen. These small first aid kits could simply be paracetamol, plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes as well as hydration tablets such as Dioraltye (for those suffering from diarrhoea). It’s horrible not having paracetamol when you’re in a country where you cannot obtain it or cannot find a pharmacist that speaks the same language as you. Especially if you’re travelling with children then plasters will be a lifesaver as children tend to fall over out of nowhere and instead of rushing around to try and get plasters - having them on hand will be a lot easier.
You’ve found the perfect accommodation but wait - there’s a problem with your booking. This can make every traveller’s worst nightmare come to life, especially when they’ve just arrived after hours upon hours of travelling. However, if you have documents that state you’re reserved or paid in full for your stay it’ll make it much easier to find your booking and resolve any queries. Many people rely on their phone to store bookings and documents but there’s always that small chance that you may get no signal or the WiFi may not be working. Carrying an extra copy of your reservation is advisable - even when you’ve arrived in a country such as America and need to show proof of where you’ll be staying.
Taking Copies Of Everything
It’s advisable to take a copy of every important document to which you can leave in your accommodation or even better the safe that’s provided. Printing out your tickets is a great idea, as mentioned above, there’s the uncertainty that your phone may not work or run out of battery when you need it. Furthermore, some airlines don’t allow passengers to show their tickets on their phone which also applies to train tickets - especially if you’re standing in front of the ticket inspector whose demanding to see your ticket while your phone miraculously wants to freeze. Taking a copy of your passport is essential for two reasons - if you’ve become a victim of theft then you can take your copy to the police to prevent it being used elsewhere. The second reason being that you will have a copy of your passport to give to your accommodation especially if you’re booking through platforms such as Airbnb or Booking.com.
Notify Friends & Family of Your Whereabouts
If you’re travelling for one day or one hundred days then you should tell your close family and friends, including reliable neighbours, who will keep an eye on your house/flat while you’re gone. If you give your itinerary to even one person, it’ll give them an idea of where you’ll be if you fail to pick up your phone or even worse if you’ve been declared missing. Notifying friends and family of your whereabouts will also come in handy if there’s an emergency such as a terrorist attack or if there’s an emergency within the country. For example, when members of my family were on holiday there were reports of an earthquake in another part of the country they were staying in. Miraculously they had no idea as there were no English-speaking channels but luckily they had the chance to prepare themselves for the worst and make suitable arrangements.
Check What You’ve Booked Up
The amount of times I’ve booked up specific excursions or events and somehow booked another event on the same day surprises me - I really have a goldfish brain. If you book through platforms such as GetYourGuide then there’s the chance you can either modify or cancel your reservation up to the day before without being charged. Making an itinerary prevents this and doubles up as a guide to follow when travelling. As some events and excursions are non-refundable I’d advise just spending that extra minute or two checking the dates and making sure that you’ve got the correct date before ending up out of pocket.
What Are You Allowed To Carry?
Packing a suitcase can be one of the easiest tasks before travelling, well for me it is, but there are slight restrictions as to what you can and cannot bring. The obvious being you cannot bring any explosive materials, weapons or drugs but there are restrictions on food when travelling abroad. For example, when collecting my luggage at New York there were numerous families begging officials to not fine them as they had taken fresh fruit from the flight into New York - something that’s prohibited and means a passenger can be given a fine of up to $500 - not the greatest way to begin your holiday. Not only is there a restriction on what you can bring in but there’s a restriction on the weight of your suitcase. If you go over the maximum weight limit then you will be either forced to leave your precious souvenirs behind or pay a hefty price to allow your suitcase to go through.
What’s The Weather Like?
You’d be surprised how hot it was in New York when I visited - I didn’t wear half of the outfits I packed as I had resorted to wearing shorts and tank tops for the majority of my stay. Before packing the first thing you should do is check what the weather would be like and more specifically what temperatures you’ll be living in for the next few days. On the other hand, I researched how cold Poland would be when I visited in November but I underestimated how cold it would be when visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau - a thermal vest, thick t-shirt, a hoodie and a thick insulated jacket still wasn’t enough to stop me from shaking in my boots. Packing an umbrella never hurt anyone - even if where you’re travelling to predicts to be warm and sunny, the same might not be said from when you return from your travels (especially if you live in the UK).
One thing that catches everyone out is forgetting that plug sockets around the world are very different from the ones we’re used to back at home. I’ve been caught out a few times and have been left asking at reception where the nearest supermarket is and trust me, these adaptors don’t come easily nor cheaply. It would be advisable to bring more than one, the same applies to phone leads, as there’s always that small chance that they could break and you’d be left without them. Even at the airport or train station adaptors have come in handy time and time again - from checking Facebook updates to then make sure everyone knows how much you really are going to miss Paris.
Portable Chargers & Charging Electronics
As much as we all think that 79% will be enough to get us through a 3 hour flight, people fail to recognise that you’d most likely use your phone at the airport with the free WiFi as well as using your phone when you arrive at your destination. Making sure that your phone, laptop and other electronics are charged fully will prevent the worry that halfway through listening to your specially made Spotify playlist for the flight your phone will run out of battery. A portable charger is a readily and cheaply available product, if you buy it before travelling, with it being small and compact meaning it can easily fit into your pocket and charge your phone.
Can You Use Your Phone Abroad?
Luckily I’m with Three, a network that allows me to use my texts, minutes and data abroad at no extra cost to me, which most provides also allow customers to do. However, when travelling outside of Europe providers may not support your use of data in countries such as America and Australia - which if you don’t read about beforehand might leave you with a hefty phone bill and can ultimately ruin a perfectly enjoyable holiday. When me and my friend had got off the plane at New York and began making our way to our hotel, she found out that her mobile provider doesn’t allow her to use her phone in America - which led to a sigh and the realisation that she couldn’t like all the comments on Facebook from people telling her to enjoy her holiday.
Debit & Credit Cards
If you’ve chosen to use your debit or credit card while abroad then make sure you contact your bank so they can allow payments and transactions to go through. A simple phone call will allow the bank to put a message on your account rather than blocking your card with the suspicion of fraud on your account. When you’re abroad this is the worst thing that could happen - not having access to your bank account if you needed to pay for hospital bills or returning flights if necessary. Furthermore, it would be advisable to leave enough money in your account so that bills and other direct debits can be taken out accordingly. If you do decide to use your debit or credit card - try using an account that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee attached to it as you might spend even more than you had hoped.
Getting foreign currency can be a bit of a hassle with different providers stating that they’re the best and you’ll get the best rates in town. Sometimes this can be so much of a hassle for people that they actually forget to do it - trust me I know a few people who have completely forgot to change up their pounds and pence for euros and cents. If you’ve already got your chosen currency then make sure you’ve got enough and just a little extra in case something goes wrong or you just plan to treat yourself while abroad. Cash always comes in handy even if you’re set on using your debit or credit card and the ATM or the card itself doesn’t work abroad.
Research About The Place You’re Visiting
If you’re planning to go to countries which local communities prefer tourists to wear conservative clothing when out and about or visiting sacred temples - then it’s better to be prepared. For example, if you’re wearing shorts and a tank top then there is no way that you’ll be allowed in as you will be asked to return once you’ve covered up or you will need to purchase additional clothing while there. In countries located in the Middle East and Asia tourists are required to cover up from their shoulders down to their knees - this information can allow visitors to wear clothes that respects these customs and make themselves feel comfortable. In Dubai public displays of affection aren’t illegal but are frowned upon as well as two people of opposite genders sharing a hotel room - as sex outside of marriage is illegal as well as homosexuality. So if you are unmarried and travelling with a partner, try to avoid displays of affection and sharing a room until your return home - it’s better than a hefty fine and in extreme circumstances jail time.
Getting a tattoo is a lot more than a ‘spur of the moment’ decision - it’s a lifelong commitment and a constant reminder that you have ink on your skin. Even for me, who got a tattoo 2 years ago, I planned for 4 years what design I wanted and had time to think it over and make sure that I wanted this on my skin. Even to this day I’m still pleased that I took the time to find a design I wanted, decide for ages whether I wanted it and from there find a reputable and safe tattoo parlour to get it done with.
While abroad, most people celebrate being free from daily stresses and experiencing new cultures as well as experiences. Most people want to capture their travels in something memorable, which is completely understandable. I’d settle for photographs and items that I can treasure and keep forever whereas some people prefer getting tattoos - either way, the choice is up to the individual but there are some pros and cons to getting a tattoo abroad.
Do You Really Like The Idea Of A Tattoo?
A tattoo, a beautiful piece of art, which shall remain on your body for the rest of your life. Well unless you get it removed, but that destroys the idea of how beautiful tattoos are. Either way, as mentioned before, for some people the idea of a tattoo can become a reality in the spur of the moment - which might look incredible for the rest of your travels but will you like it when you return home? If you’ve decided there and then you want a tattoo then I’d spent time reconsidering, especially if you’ve had a drink or two especially since many things can go wrong if you drink and decide to get a tattoo done. Even though most parlours should refuse clients who have been drinking for numerous reasons some class money as a more important factor. If you do want to go abroad and get a tattoo done, get an image of it and place it on your body - Will it look good in a months time? Will you be happy having this on your body for the rest of your life? If you immediately cannot say yes to either of these questions, then it’s time to reconsider.
Where Are You Going To Get It Done?
One of the things I would advise against with all of my might is do not get a tattoo on a whim and walk into the first tattoo parlour you see. If you’re walking past a few tattoo parlours that catch your eye then note the name of them down - once you get back to your accommodation do your research into the parlour itself. Make sure they are licensed to tattoo clients and from there make sure they meet safety requirements - if possible, go into the shop and see whether it’s clean. A license should be prominently displayed as well as the parlour itself smelling and seeming clean - it should resemble the smell of a hospital. If you do your research and even have one doubt in your mind - avoid the parlour at all costs. Even if you really want a tattoo while on holiday - you could always get it done back in your home country and no one would really know the difference.
One quote that sticks with me is: "Good tattoos aren't cheap, and cheap tattoos aren't good." A very wise reminder for those being offered cheap tattoos - if you’re given a quote of $20 for a few words on your arm then simply walk away. Not only is this a price that will leave you regretting your decision but may also impact your health - you could get a lovely tattoo but follow up with an infection afterwards. I paid £50 for a tattoo that reads “lust for life” which admittedly is more expensive than the average tattoo but the parlour was highly rated, it was very clean and the needle used was sterile. Additionally, the parlour gave me information regarding aftercare and if I needed a touch up they would be happy to do it for free in the future.
Are You Comfortable Travelling With A New Tattoo?
As much as having a new tattoo is exciting and you cannot wait to share images of it all across social media and send it to your friends and family, once again safety comes first. After getting a tattoo, you should follow the instructions from the parlour regarding how to look after it throughout the first week - it will begin to scab and fall off which is never pretty. You need to keep tattoos clean - which means you cannot put it in direct sunlight and must keep it protected from seawater, even water from a swimming pool should be avoided. If you’ve gone to a hot country then I would advise against getting a large tattoo - keeping it covered might be a problem. Regardless, you’ll need to keep the area clean to prevent infections and allow the tattoo to heal in its own time. That also means that you cannot pick it or pull of the scabs, that’s why loose clothing is advised rather than tight clothing that could accidentally peel off scabs.
Will There Be The Problem Of A Language Barrier?
If you have your heart set on a tattoo that has words included within it - make sure that you bring an image with you and you have clear communication with the tattoo artist. I’m sure we’ve all seen the tattoo “NO RAGRETS” - to which I’m sure it’s one regret they’ll have when they have to live with it for the rest of their life. If you go to a parlour where your language isn’t their first then reconsider your plans - a lot could go wrong. Initially the tattoo artist could spell words wrong or even worse give you a tattoo that you never agreed on but are now stuck with. Then there’s the form of payment - you may scammed out of even more money if the tattoo artist knows you cannot speak the same language as them - they may take advantage of this especially if you haven’t got to grips with the local currency.
What Happens If You Need To Go Back?
Unfortunately there are some instances where you may not be entirely happy with your tattoo or you may need a small touch up. How could you possibly get back to this tattoo parlour if you’re 2000 miles away? This is my main reason against ever getting a tattoo in another country for this reason exactly. The tattoo parlour could mysteriously close down for reasons including operating under unhygienic conditions or as they’ve gone bankrupt. Then there’s no place to complain too and even get a resolution from. However, if you’ve done your research and spoke to the artist and you’re more than trusting in their work then go ahead - just make sure that you note down the aftercare instructions and any contact information.
Getting Your Tattoo
If you’ve read all of the above tips, done your research into the parlour and are happy to go ahead and get a tattoo, here are a few final tips:
EasyJet has become a rising favourite for those wanting to travel across Europe and other surrounding areas such as Tel Aviv and Damascus. EasyJet has notably gained popularity for providing over 1,000 routes which span across 30 countries with flights departing as we speak. However, with such an inexpensive airline there are some downfalls, as they say you pay for what you get - but is easyJet an airline that should be avoided simply because they offer unmissable prices?
When you visit the easyJet website the first thing that visitors notice will be the deals that easyJet are currently offering, in this case there’s flights for £29.99 to Belfast - one way, per person. EasyJet have even advertised Malaga for £19.99 which is dependant on two passengers flying from London Gatwick and prices are representative of a one way flight. With deals like these, which seem unbeatable, it’s no wonder that easyJet has gained such as large following with over 80 million passengers flying with the airline in 2018, according to Statista. As someone who uses easyJet frequently, it’s one of the sole reasons I’m able to travel so much for someone whose on a budget. Additionally, with over 5 major airports such as London Gatwick and London Luton supporting easyJet flights, it’s become a reliable airline to use.
You’ve selected your £29.99 seats and even possibly a cheaper return as while doing my research I found flights from Barcelona to London Gatwick for £19.99. Too good to be true? Well if you plan to use hand luggage and have no preference as to where you sit, then it really is an incredible deal. However, if you do have hold luggage then easyJet will charge an additional fee of £18-20 for a 15-23kg bag, which is an average price for one bag per flight. If you have any sports equipment such as skis and boots as well as snowboards then you may be paying a lot more than you had hoped - £74 more for each item. It gets considerably worse for those wanting to transport large items such as bicycles and canoes as this will set you back £90, which again is per item, per flight. If you haven’t got any equipment then you can make a sigh of relief as reserving a seat only costs £5-8 for a standard seat towards the middle of the plane. For those wanting to be nearer the front then a seat may set you back £8-9 or if you want to go all out and sit right at the front of the plane then this will set you back a whopping £20 - in some cases it’s more than the ticket itself. These small charges is how easyJet makes it money as those travelling with friends and families consider the tickets to be so cheap that they can afford to reserve seats to sit next to each other.
The easyJet website and app allows customers to have a smooth experience, with it taking less than 5 minutes in some cases to buy tickets for flights with an email confirmation shortly arriving. EasyJet are very transparent with their price breakdown as well as giving passengers more than enough information regarding their flight. EasyJet outline what time the bag drop opens as well as what time the gate closes - allowing passengers to plan their journey to the airport around this. There’s information regarding what passengers should do after booking - fill in their passport details and how to get their boarding passes, which is available to download and print 30 days before you fly. These boarding passes can either be printed or shown through the easyJet app, which is handy for our technology savvy generation as they can also be added to our online wallets. For a budget airline, easyJet really goes above and beyond for what passengers would expect, but then again easyJet wants customers to return and use their service again.
As mentioned before, I’ve flown with easyJet lots of times before which had led me to experience mostly positive experiences but then again I’ve had some of the worst experiences with them. The positive experiences with easyJet is that the flights have left on time in most cases and enough leg room to sit comfortably for a 2-3 hour flight and even sleep on the flight. Additionally, all of the staff that easyJet employ, from the customer service team to the cabin crew, they’ve always been polite and helpful throughout my journey. Unfortunately, when I travelled to Amsterdam I was subject to a 4 hour delay to which the staff seemed to be as confused as the passengers were, with the times being pushed further and further back. Passengers were given vouchers to buy food and drink either at the airport or on the plane. However, with the flight being only 45 minutes, by the time I would’ve got my drink, it would then be time to land. Either way, it’s a hit or miss situation with some passengers experiencing as smooth of a flight as possible whereas others wouldn’t trust easyJet again after their experiences.
It should be noted that when flying with easyJet you will not get any complimentary snacks or drinks, it is a budget airline and they need to make their money somehow - which is where the Bistro comes into play. With a meal deal costing passengers £7.50/€9.50 is quite an expensive lunch considering that in places such as Boots and WHSmith you can get a meal deal for £3-4, even at the airport. For this price you get a main, drink and a snack but recently the choices of mains has decreased and the quality followed suit too. However, as mentioned in previous posts, bring your own food to the airport or have a large meal before travelling to prevent you from feeling tempted to spend your money on food at the airport or on the plane. The Boutique from easyJet is expensive too, with even duty free prices not being low enough to make me splurge on a new fragrance or a watch that I know I don’t need. Either way, looking through the Boutique magazine does allow passengers to take their mind off flying and doubles up as reading material. It’s a clever sales pitch, as easyJet state that passengers can only carry hand luggage only, which then in turn only allows passengers to carry a limit of 100ml per item of liquids. If you bought a perfume that exceeded these 100ml limits then you may be faced with throwing your purchase away or having to pay extra to put your luggage under the plane - that purchase doesn’t seem so cheap now does it?
If you want to fly with easyJet, which is known to be an affordable and mostly a reliable airline, then you should go ahead and book with them. Just keep in mind that you will be imposed to easyJet’s rules of hand luggage only and the mystery of where you’ll be sitting on the plane if you haven’t prebooked your seat. For those wanting a simple flight with no frills, then easyJet is the way to go - even if you want added luxury then you can splurge on a seat at the front of the plane or towards the front.
When I flew to New York in July 2019 I had the pleasure of flying with British Airways - both on my departure and return flight. As it was a 8-9 hour flight I wanted to make sure that I was travelling comfortably and with an airline that had been praised by not only friends and family members but by people online too. Without further ado, here’s my review of my British Airways flight where I was seated in Economy Class.
What is Economy Class?
When travelling by plane there are a range of classes that passengers can travel by, each with their own price tag and unique benefits tailored to suit individuals needs. Within this specific flight there were four different classes - Economy, Premium Economy, then to Business Class and First Class. The higher the class, the more expensive it becomes for passengers which is justified by the amount of privacy given to passengers, the different meal options, the facilities such as the bathroom and the general area as well as the airport experience passengers will receive.
Booking Up Tickets
In September 2018 I booked up two return tickets from London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy Airport to which I booked up Economy World Traveller. However, when I was researching the different departures from London Heathrow I found that there were two different options for Economy: Hand Baggage only or Economy: Checked Baggage. The difference between these options doesn’t only count for the luggage but also differs in price - only around £50 per flight but also allows passengers to pick their seat for free 24 hours before as well as allowing passengers to change their flight for a fee. Either way, the whole process was very easy when using the British Airways website as well as the information being provided at every step.
Only one issue came a few months after initially booking my tickets - British Airways moved me and my friends seat to another spot, even though we had paid. The same occurrence happened on the flight returning from New York as we were once again moved without notice, only to find out at the airport. It was a slight inconvenience but regardless as this was an overnight flight I couldn’t be bothered to dispute it.
In total the flights altogether were £907.22 - which worked out £453.61 per person, as there were two of us, which then works out to be £226.80 per flight. These prices were absolutely incredible - in comparison I had spent £220 when travelling to Gran Canaria during the Easter holidays for a family vacation. This price included £168.11 in government, authority and airport charges such as £78 for Air Passenger Duty and £44.91 Passenger Service Charge in the United Kingdom. Immediately after purchasing my tickets a full confirmation email was sent to me - all the information was clearly stated which included departure time and dates as well as a price breakdown. The only downside to booking with British Airways was the expensive seating prices - £23 for a seat in the rows towards the back, per person per way. However, more importantly British Airways had included useful information such as reminding me to purchase a ESTA to enter the country and what my luggage allowances were.
As I had purchased tickets for Economy World Traveller I was allowed three items of luggage altogether. The first item of luggage was my main suitcase which had the requirements of being 90 x 75 x 43cm and the weight restriction of 23kg. The second item of luggage, which for me was hand luggage, had the same weight limit but different dimensional restrictions of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. The third piece of luggage, which for me was a small cross body bag to carry my passport, medication and other important documents, had the dimensional restrictions of 40cm x 30cm x 15cm as well as having a weight restriction of 23kg. If you were taking a lot of luggage on your departure or your return flight then British Airways certainly gives passengers more than enough. However, if for some reason your luggage is overweight then you’ll be subject to a £65 fee and if you want to bring an additional piece of luggage then you will be charged the same fee of £65.
The Economy Class Seat
As mentioned previously, as the seats were right at the back of the plane and as I had an aisle seat there was more than enough legroom for even a tall person such as myself. The seat itself was a 32-inch seat pitch and the reason I decided to sit at the back of the plane would be the feeling of reclining my seat without the person behind me feeling cramped or having to be asked to move my seat so those behind me could use their trays. On the seat itself there were the basic amenities: a pillow and a blanket as well as a small pair of earphones for the flight. Admittedly it wasn't the best but wasn't the worst considering it's economy quality plus it was free - I’ll settle for anything if I’ve been up since 5:30am. The only problem with the position of my seat was the lack of overhead lockers which in turn led me to use someone else’s locker which then led to a snowball effect of everyone using other passengers lockers.
In front of me was a screen which was a regular iPad size (9 inches) - enough to watch films and look up information regarding the flight and estimated time of arrival. There were seven categories: Movies, TV, Audio, Games, Kids, Maps and Information. All of these categories gave enough entertainment and information which would keep both adults and kids entertained for the entirety of the flight, in this case it was 8 hours. There were a range of newly released Movies and TV Shows, which was entertaining and great to see. For this particular flight I enjoyed watching Spy and from there watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars - which isn’t even available in the UK on Netflix. It took my mind away from the thought of flying and made the 8 hours fly by. My favourite part of the screen was the integrated USB socket allowing me to charge my iPhone for the entirety of the flight which saved me using my own portable charger.
The one downside to this flight was the option to pay for WiFi - which set me back £4.99 for an entire hour whereas if I wanted 4 hours worth of WiFi it would’ve set me back £10.99. As I bought this WiFi I was surprised how fast it was especially since we were 38,000 feet in the air. I was able to check all forms of social media including Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram without any problems. I was able to send and receive messages on Whatsapp almost immediately - it seems even though I had to pay for WiFi it was well worth it.
Food & Drink
The food and drinks served on the plane were more than enough to satisfy a passenger as well as making sure they got their money's worth. Once we were up in the air the first snack that was offered was a small bag of pretzels and a drink, which could either be a soft drink, water, orange juice or an alcoholic beverage. From there the main course was served which consisted of either a chicken or pasta dish, accompanied by a starter which was salad in this case, crackers and cheese, a roll and a small dessert. A small cup of water was also offered but there was so much offered on this flight that it barely fit on the tray - that gives you an indication that you're getting a good sized amount of food. From there we were offered another drink and to my surprise we were offered a Magnum Ice Lolly. A while later we were then offered another drink but this time it was between orange juice and water. An hour or two before landing we were offered a chicken sandwich and a chocolate bar but by this point I was completely full but still managed to eat the chocolate bar. Around an hour before landing all passengers were offered another drink. Throughout this the flight attendants were attentive by making sure that all mess was cleared up and trays were taken from passengers once they were finished with them.
As standard there were four toilets at the back of the plane which never got crowded even after everyone had been served their meals - which was lucky for me as I was sitting right next to them. The toilets were a standard size for an aircraft - enough to move in and wash your hands without bumping into the door and hitting your head on the ceiling. For the first time I had seen sanitary products being offered to passengers in little drawers under the sink - a very good initiative for those who had either forgot to pack them or had unfortunately started throughout their flight.
Arrival at John F. Kennedy
Throughout the flight we were given updates directly from the pilot regarding the status of the flight, which was helpful and saved me checking the onboard map every twenty minutes or so - you can tell I’m impatient. Regardless, we arrived on time and not a minute too soon apparently, as soon as the flight came to a stop people jumped out of their seats to only stand there for ages to be let off the plane. Of course First Class would be let off first, then Business Class, Premium Economy and last but not least Economy. However, I took the time to gather my belongings and make sure that I had everything. Around 25 minutes passed and I was able to disembark without any problems - staff even took the time to talk to me while I was waiting to get up from my seat asking if it was my first time in New York and whether I enjoyed the flight.
Upon disembarking off the actual plane we were guided towards the Immigration Area of John F. Kennedy Airport for which another 20 minutes were spent standing in line rehearsing what I was going to say. Either way, the process was quick and the baggage followed within another 20 minutes which meant I spent less than an hour in the airport - a lot less than I had planned.
As this was the first time I had flown with British Airways it certainly won’t be my last as I’ve already booked up flights for 2020 with the same airline. For the price I paid, which was £453.61 for a return journey including the additional payment of reserving seats, I consider this an incredible deal when summarising everything onboard including the service and the food. Even though you’re given the bare minimum in Economy Class - the bare minimum turned out to be quite a lot! Possibly in the future I will be travelling Premium Economy or Business Class to see whether it lives up to the high standards expected. Even though I only ran into one problem overall, I was able to rectify British Airway’s mistake myself and no more was said of it.
From the moment I stepped into Heathrow Terminal 5 until the time I landed at Terminal 7 in John F. Kennedy Airport, I had a pleasant experience which is why British Airways has become so memorable in my opinion. British Airways is ranked as a 4-star airline and for good measure too - whatever class you’re flying there is bound to be attentive staff, delicious food and an enjoyable experience. In this instance, you get for what you pay for and in my opinion £453.61 has stretched even further than I would’ve imagined it to.
One of the most commonly asked questions I receive would be asking how much spending money should one person take, whether they’re going for a city break or flying to the other side of the world for a month long vacation. The simple answer is that one size doesn’t fit all - there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration such as whether your accommodation has been paid for, the attractions you’ll be visiting as well as whether the country is known to be expensive or inexpensive.
Before buying any sort of currency it would be advisable to do your research into the places you’ll be visiting and whether they’re notoriously known for being expensive or more hopefully inexpensive. For example, when I travelled to Poland I had brought 500zł to which I returned with 200zł as the prices there had been incredibly inexpensive even though I had splurged on meals as well as gifts for family and friends. If you simply type in “Is ____ expensive?” then you’ll get a rough idea of what travellers have spent regarding food, drinks, activities as well as the price range of specific items which should hopefully begin to give you an idea of how much to take.
If you’ve already prebooked and paid in full for your accommodation then this segment won’t apply to you. If you’ve chosen the option to pay for your accommodation upon arrival then the first thing to do would be to create a separate bank account to store the money to pay for this in - mainly as it will mean that the money will stay there without the option for it to be spent. It’s also important to remember that some debit and credit card companies will charge a foreign transaction fee - which is around 2-3% of the total purchase. From the moment you reserve your accommodation I’d begin to save and make a plan of how much you will need as well as seeing what your accommodation includes.
Food and Drink
Before I travel anywhere I make sure that I’ve scouted out the local restaurants, cafes and bars in the local area. The reason for this being that I would be able to see how much the food and drink near my accommodation would cost - from there I could make an estimate of how much I would be spending per meal, per day. If you’ve got your breakfast included with your room rate for your accommodation then you will only need to focus on lunch, dinner and extra snacks. When I travelled to Amsterdam I knew that dinner would set me back around €20 whereas lunch would only set me back €10 as well as snacks per day only costing €3. From there I worked out that I should budget just over €30 per day for food and as I was there for three days it meant I budgeted around €90. This allows me to give me leeway as if I spend over then it’s accounted for as well as if I spend under this amount it allowed me to bring money back home to exchange.
Personally I prefer to book as many activities as I can before travelling, the main reason being that it allows me to simply turn up and enjoy the attraction or tour. However, in some circumstances such as free walking tours - the only way I can tip these tours is by attending the tour and then tipping afterwards using the local currency. I tip at least €10-20 per tour, even if it’s stated that it’s a “free” walking tour - more information regarding these tours can be found by clicking here. If you’ve already booked up your activities then keep extra money spare in case you visit a gift shop from the museum or landmark - you never know what they may sell and what may catch your eye.
If on holiday you buy more than the odd souvenir and go full out in the local shops and any shopping centres then make sure that your wallet can cope. For example, in New York I knew that there were two main shopping centres and hundreds of shops that I wanted to go in which allowed me to budget around $50 to $70 to fund my shopping habit - some days I spent around this amount and some days I spent a lot less than I had planned. Either way, I had to keep in consideration that I had a weight limit for both suitcases, which I went over slightly but luckily never got charged.
Transport can either be one of the most expensive areas when travelling simply because a taxi here and there will soon add up. Hundreds upon hundreds of cities such as London, New York, Barcelona and Paris have extensive methods of public transport which are very inexpensive and convenient. If you plan to use public transport then see whether it’s worth investing into a transport card or pass that allows you to use public transportation cheaply around the city you’re in. If you do want to use taxis then research beforehand what a journey will cost you, for example from one landmark to another, which not only allows you to have a rough idea of how much money to bring but prevents you from being scammed. Additionally, make sure that you know what taxi’s look like, it sounds stupid, but you wouldn’t want to get into an unmarked taxi as there’s a risk of your safety being breached as well as your wallet.
Spending Money for Amsterdam 2020:
As I’m travelling back to Amsterdam next year I already have a budget in mind which has allowed me to purchase euros here and there to save up for the trip. As I’m there for three nights but four days I budgeted that I will need around €200 - I always bring extra in case of an emergency or I see something I’d like to buy and splurge on.
As much as the question has the answer in itself already, it’s an act of judgement and how your morality works. Free Walking Tours have been around for years and have become popular for those travelling on a budget who want to see everything the city they’re visiting has to offer. In Amsterdam walking tours are popular as getting around by car is not only time consuming but won’t allow you to see everything Amsterdam has to offer. These walking tours have found their popularity through recent bloggers and word of mouth - internet marketing has allowed these tours to become popular without spending a penny.
The way these free walking tours work is a tour will be advertised on the tour company’s website or through the use of social media platforms. People wishing to go on the tour will either have to sign up with their email and confirm their attendance or simply turn up at the specified time and location given. From there the guide will introduce themselves and most importantly explain how these tours work: they work for free and reply on tips and donations from visitors who use these guides. At the end of the tour there will be the chance to tip these guides or simply walk away - but it’s simply not that simple. As much as people will already be thinking “I can simply walk away after all of this is done' 'the reality is a lot different. After watching the guide speak for two or three hours while recalling information and dates about events in the city - how can you not feel obliged to tip? I’ve been on many walking tours and have not seen anyone once walk away without putting in at least £10/€11. Additionally, some of these tours can be as small as up to four people - making it more of a private tour than a public one, which then leads many to tip even more.
Nevertheless, there’s still the question of ethics and morality coming into play here. There have been many articles written regarding the ethics of these companies including whether they pay their taxes on this income they’re receiving as it’s advertised as a free walking tour. Furthermore, many people are concerned as to how much these tour guides actually take home - how much of their profits need to be given to their management or company and how much profit is actually made? This is the point where most people’s opinions regarding free tours change as their mind flashes back to when they tipped their tour guide a less than generous tips or some even walking away and paying nothing.
Regardless, these tour guides deliver exceptional information regarding the city you’re visiting whether it be about the history, the impact of the First and Second World War or specific areas in rain or shine. This shouldn’t only be a tour that is praised by the gracious tips of €10, €15 or €20 but should be spoken about more often as these people purely rely on tips to which some tour guides will actually have to give away a small part of their earnings. Even though I’m someone who tries to save money in whatever way I can, I have found that these “free walking tours” are the furthest notion from free that could be found but I am more than happy to pay into these tours and keep them going for as long as possible.
Travel During The Off-Season
Travelling during the off-season seems easier said than done, especially if you’re planning to visit Disneyland with children. Parents and guardians can now be liable to fines if they’re found taking their child out of school for unnecessary reasons - in this case Disneyland is deemed one of them. Nevertheless, there is a way around this and it’s by taking your child to Disneyland during a bank holiday weekend or when there’s a planned inset day that happens on either a Monday or Friday. As this would mean a three day weekend which allows a weekend away without the hefty price tag. Schools should display their yearly term-dates and inset days in advance on their website. If not, then another option would be asking the school directly and in most cases they will be more than happy to comply.
Save Money on Disneyland Tickets & Deals
Before you buy tickets to Disneyland it’s worth researching what rides certain parks have on offer, to which you can plan how many you could go on. For example, if you’re with a three or four year old then certain rides and attractions have certain height restrictions to which staff abide by very strictly. From there, if you plan to go on around 20 rides then plan how quickly you could get through these rides - would you need a two day ticket or a three day ticket? Additionally, I’ve seen numerous discounts on the Disneyland website, most deals revolve around 2 days stay for the price of 1 - take advantage of these! At the moment there’s a special offer where adults can get into Disneyland for children’s prices. If you do decide to stay in hotels surrounding the park then there are even more deals including free breakfasts for children throughout their stay as well as discounts of up to 25% off.
Plan, Plan & Plan Even More!
As mentioned previously, if you’ve decided what rides and attractions you’d like to see then it’d be worth researching into whether it’s worth getting a FastPass. If you’re only in Disneyland for a day or two then see whether it’d be cheaper getting a FastPass to get you onto all the rides you’d like - they start at £39.58. This price may be cheaper than spending money on another night at a hotel, the costs of food as well as if travelling on certain days may cost more. Research into what rides would be open during your visit to avoid disappointment - Disneyland clearly states on their website which rides will be closed for specific days. Furthermore, research into what parades and characters you’d like to visit and what time they take place - from there you can plan around this while making sure you get the best seat in the house to enjoy them!
As much as Disneyland hotels offer the full experience for those wanting to experience the magic of Disney in all forms - it comes with a hefty price tag. For those who have their heart set on staying in a Disney hotel then look into the best deal for your stay - free breakfast, character breakfasts as well as discounts on your stay altogether if park tickets are included. However, when I was in Paris and Orlando I stayed off-site to firstly save money as well as being able to see the city without the constraints of being within a certain area. As I only visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World for a day it worked out a lot cheaper when taking into consideration the price of the hotel, transport to and from the park as well as transport options to get to the airport.
Free Breakfast & Bringing Snacks Into The Park
Most hotels do offer free breakfast for guests staying, which can either be a continental breakfast or a full cooked breakfast (most of these hotels will offer buffet breakfasts). In most cases you’ll have breakfast included within the price of the hotel, which is an added bonus, since breakfast will most definitely fill you up for the first part of the day. When I stayed in Paris, I used the baguettes, cheese and ham provided at breakfast to make my own lunch as well as my family quickly catching on and following suit. Disneyland allows visitors to bring in their own food and drinks with exceptions on alcoholic drinks as well as food that needs to be heated or unprepared. Visitors are allowed to bring in sandwiches, small fruit bags and anything that their heart desires that follows Disneyland’s rules. When I was in Paris for my birthday I saw a family of around 20 bring out a slow cooker with as much food as the eye could see. I mean I’m not judging - you do you, but that really is a genius idea, especially with so many people.
Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
Visiting Disneyland means the unfortunate trip through the numerous gift shops placed around the park and strategically located outside the exit of rides and attractions. I splurged on a piece of clothing as it was my birthday and it set me back €40-50 but to this day it’s still my favourite jumper and has lasted well. However, small toys, plushies and even small items such as pens can cost visitors an arm and a leg - especially with children being the masters of persuasion and begging. If you use websites such as Amazon and eBay, then you can find items such as autograph books, frames as well as even personalised t-shirts for as little as £5. In shops such as Primark the whole family can get outfits for Disneyland at a price that will definitely won’t break the bank.
Bring A Small First Aid Kit & Other Essential Items
As much as this tip may sound extreme - do you know how hard it is to find plasters throughout Disneyland? Throughout the whole park there isn’t one shop that sells a small pack of plasters as they’re located in pharmacies outside of the park such as Val d’Europe (which will also cost a small fortune to get there and then back into the park by taxi). Plasters can cost as little as 70p in some shops and can even be bought in discount shops with Disney-themed plasters too. Children love running around, it’s all fun and games until they fall over and wobble over to you screaming in pain - if you had a plaster on you it saves the hassle of making your child wobble around the park trying to find one. Paracetamol costs around 30p in supermarkets and after a long day at Disneyland you may need it especially if you’ve spent all day there. Make sure to bring sunscreen with you if you’re spending all day in the heat, especially if you haven’t bought one which only needs one application to last the day. Even wet wipes save the day when children enjoy their food so much that it goes absolutely everywhere and even for a simple clean up after touching everything. A small sick bag does the trick too, even for me, as some rides are simply just too much for us all and leaves us feeling worse for wear afterwards.
Carry Reusable Water Bottles
Not only is carrying water important for those spending all day in the scorching sun to keep hydrated but also doubles up as a light refreshment throughout the day. There are tons of drinking fountains around Disneyland which beats paying the extortionate prices for a small bottle of water or even a soft drink. It’ll also save time going into certain shops and restaurants for a simple drink and most importantly it saves the environment! The amount of plastic wasted from those visiting Disneyland is ridiculous as well as those deciding to leave their waste all over the floor for others to step and trip on.
Bring Your Own Stroller/Wheelchair
Bringing your own stroller may seem completely obvious but for some the idea of lugging their stroller all the way to Disneyland seems like too much of an effort. Especially for those staying off-site who may have to use public transport to get into Disneyland - I understand how much of a nightmare than can be especially early in the morning. However, once I tell you the prices of renting out a stroller this will definitely make you think twice. The price to rent out a stroller for the day currently stands at €20 with a €75 deposit as well as the fact that by the time you get there they may all be rented out. The same price applies to wheelchairs - €20 with a €75 deposit.
Check The Weather Before You Go
As much as this tip might seem ridiculous in the sense of saving money, it’s very important as in the park umbrellas and ponchos will cost you more than loose change. If you check the weather beforehand, which can either be done by asking someone at reception or using your phone, you can see what you’ll need to pack instead of buying it at the park. If it’s sunny and hot then make sure you bring water, sunglasses, sunscreen and aftersun. On the other hand, if it’s raining and cold then make sure you wrap up warm and bring an umbrella or a poncho.
Using Public Transport Instead Of Renting A Car
For larger families it may seem the best option to rent a car while you’re at Disneyland but for those travelling by themselves or with a small group then I’d advise taking the cheaper option of public transport. Parking at Disneyland can be a tiresome effort as well as an expensive one, with prices ranging with the different parks but it can be as much as €45. Then from there it’s a long walk into the park - in Paris it took me around 20 minutes to get from the car park into the actual park as we used a coach service.
Annual passes are one of the best options for saving money at Disneyland and they’re not too expensive either. For Disneyland Paris an annual past costs as little as €179 which allows visitors 150 days throughout the year to visit. However, there are other options which are more expensive but offer discounts at shops, hotels, restaurants, PhotoPasses and even extra time in the park before it officially opens. The most expensive option is €449 but comes with a range of incredible benefits as well as allowing visitors to come and go whenever they please within the year. As a ticket to Disneyland Paris currently stands at £94.11 for a Super Magic Ticket (2 Parks/1 Day) - you’d only need to go twice to Disneyland to get your money’s worth.
If you have your heart set on getting professional pictures during your trip to Disneyland, then it’d be worth investing into a PhotoPass. As one photo currently costs €16 which allows a digital print for the visitor as well as giving a choice of frame, you’d only need to get 4 pictures taken to get your money’s worth as the PhotoPass is currently priced at €59.99 which allows visitors to get their photos digitally rather than in physical prints. It’s a win-win situation as you can develop these photos once you return home from your visit for as cheap as 40p a print as well as not having the task of carrying around the photos all day.
Disneyland Gift Cards
Gift cards make a wonderful present if you’re given money for Christmas and don’t know what to do with it - it doubles up as cards that your kids can spend in the park. Once the money’s gone - they know that they can't buy anything else so it makes them choose their souvenirs wisely. Additionally, in Disneyland parks there is a small fee for those wanting to withdraw money from ATMs so instead visitors should purchase a Disney gift card directly from one of the shops. Not only does this eliminate the small fee charged by ATMs but allows a budget for spending to take place. If you only put a certain amount on these gift cards, then once they run out you’ll know where your spending stops and can save money for your next trip to Disneyland.
Check Your Receipts
I’m sure we’ve all glanced at our receipts after spending money in Disneyland, to check how much our bank account will suffer after buying just a simple hamburger and a drink. Regardless, there’s an option to get discounts at specific retailers but the only downside is that you will need to purchase these goods on the same day. A small discount is better than no discount - especially if you plan to get a few souvenirs from Disneyland.
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Throughout Disneyland there are lots of different freebies that are mostly unknown to visitors. The first being a birthday badge or a first visit badge which you can get as soon as you enter the park in City Hall - it also doubles up as a souvenir. Watching the parades is also another free option which saves standing in the heat in endless queues but allows you to sit down, eat a quick snack and have a quick drink while enjoying everything Disneyland has to offer. Additionally, there’s small pieces of candy and sweets being offered if you go into the many sweet shops and places around Disneyland. It might be small but in all honestly it’s better than nothing when needing to satisfy a sweet tooth. During special events throughout the year there are free face painting opportunities and even crafts for kids to enjoy for free.
Disneyland offers all visitors the opportunity to connect to their WiFi which isn’t half bad - it’s fast, allowed me to check my emails as well as make FaceTime calls to my family and friends. For those who don’t have data roaming options with their phone plan then free WiFi not only saves money but would allow your battery to stretch out throughout the day. There’s apps available for each park you visit - which include an interactive map which uses your location to tell you the rides nearest to you and their current waiting times.
Read Up On Reviews
There’s nothing worse than going into a restaurant, having the worst meal imaginable and then having to pay an extortionate price for it. Luckily websites such as TripAdvisor come in handy here as hundreds of people have reviewed specific restaurants around Disneyland, with comments on the service, food and overall price. A quick search will be able to tell you if it’s worth it and more importantly if you’ll be getting the most for your money. There are hundreds of different forums within the website which helps if you have a dietary requirement or any allergies - people are more than happy to help other visitors to Disneyland who have been in the same position.
Even though I’ve visited lots of different countries, experienced different cultures as well as doing activities I could’ve only dreamed of - having a bucket list reminds us all of our achievements throughout our life. Searching through hundreds of different lists allowed me to make my own bucket list - with the main goal of completing mostly all or if I’m lucky all of them before I die. When I’m older I’ll be able to look back upon my list, with many of the goals crossed out and be able to see the highlights of my life. My bucket list does include personal goals as well as travel based goals. Throughout the upcoming years ahead I will update this blog post and my bucket list when I complete a specific goal - adding the date I completed it on.
Travel insurance, the one thing that us travellers always buy with the idea that it's an added layer of protection in case something unfortunately goes wrong during our holiday. However, a large number of people are unsure as to how they would go ahead and claim back on their travel insurance policy if they fall victim to theft, lost baggage or a delayed flight. Knowing how to claim on your travel insurance is important not only because it will reimburse money spent on medical bills or on the replacement of items but will avoid being stranded in another country.
What Can You Claim On and How?
Even though there's tons of different insurance providers offering a wide variety of insurance cover for specific incidents - the main features covered will include medical and personal injury, lost or stolen baggage, theft of personal items, cancellation or abandonment of a holiday as well as delays within the airline.
Claiming On Your Travel Insurance
What Happens If I'm Not Satisfied?
If you're not satisfied with the outcome of your claim, then firstly request a final letter of response from the insurance provider you took our your travel insurance with. This will outline their reasons for rejecting your claim as well as the date it was rejected. From there you can then take it to the Ombudsman, if you live in the UK, or a place such as Citizen's Advice or similar. An Ombudsman's job essentially is to resolve a complaint before it escalates and goes to court. The Ombudsman may take a while - I'm currently in the middle of a claim which has been going on for 3 months as I needed to provide additional information as well as the Ombudsman having thousands upon thousands of claims that need investigating. If you're then not satisfied with the service as you're unable to gain help then you can complain to the Ombudsman once again and from there research other organisations that may be able to help with your claim.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.