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.
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.
Before visiting New York, I spent hours and hours searching through different travel websites, blogs and forums to determine how much my trip to New York 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 compared to visiting a country in the EU. I kept every single receipt from the moment I booked my flights and hotel to the moment I got on the plane at JFK which marked the end of my trip. There are 7 different factors which compiled my budget:
Flights to New York can be very cheap or very expensive depending on where you live - domestic trips are obviously going to be a lot cheaper than international flights. Luckily for me I was able to book return flights with British Airways, which included reserving a seat as well as purchasing WiFi for an hour, which cost £562.72. The flights itself was booked in September 2018 for July 2019 and as I travelled outside of school holidays as well as before Independence Day, my flights were reasonably cheaper compared to flights during late July and throughout August. I chose to go World Traveller (Economy) which allowed three bags: a small handbag, a small suitcase which counts as hand luggage and a larger suitcase (hold luggage). British Airways were absolutely incredible for both flights, I would recommend them for travelling comfortably for long-haul flights as well as their unbeatable prices. If you want to find out more information regarding my flight then click here to see my TripAdvisor review.
As New York attracts millions of tourists throughout the year, room rates can change depending on the month, season or if there's any holidays such as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. While searching for accommodation in New York I started by using the site Booking.com to narrow my search down for a hotel in New York rather than a hostel or apartment. From there I narrowed my search down to hotels that were located in Manhattan and those which were located near Midtown Manhattan as it would be in the centre of everything. From there I was still left with a long list of hotels each with their own unique selling point and ranging prices. From there I done my own research into the hotel's reviews from TripAdvisor, to which I'm so glad I did since some hotels may look absolutely spectacular but once you dig a little deeper this image quickly vanishes. Some hotels were reviewed to have bed bugs, guests being overcharged as well as having an unforgettable stay for the wrong reasons. I finally decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at: The Hilton Garden Inn/West 35th Street which cost £1058.26 which was per person, as there were two of us travelling. This price was based on a 9-night stay which included a double room with two double beds, an enormous bathroom and the room itself being spacious with lots of different amenities. The hotel prided itself on its 3-star rating as well as being part of the Hilton chain, a reputable chain that has hotels located all across the globe.
Transport was one of the cheapest factors I considered before even travelling to New York. While planning my itinerary I looked at where the location of certain shops, landmarks and attractions were and from there I researched how to get there from The Hilton Garden Inn. Another reason why I booked The Hilton Garden Inn was the vast variety of transport options, with Herald Square/34th Street being a stone's throw away from the hotel as well as having 8 different subway lines passing through the station. I had planned to buy a MetroCard with a 7-Day Unlimited Ride connected to it, which originally set me back $33 + $1 New MetroCard fee. I got more than my money's worth with my MetroCard as I was taking on average 5/6 journeys per day, doubling the amount I had paid for the card and saving me the hassle of topping up my card per ride. The card itself costs $1, which can be refilled throughout your time in New York. I also added extra credit to my MetroCard when travelling to New Jersey for the day to visit Newport Centre. Additionally, as I had travelled to and from the airport via the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Way (LIRR) that set me back an additional $13 per journey, dependant on the time of day I was travelling as well as my final destination. I only used the New York Subway, the LIRR and AirTrain throughout my trip with no private taxis taken - which brought my total for transport at £70.50.
One of the most important factors travellers should consider before booking their flights and accommodation for New York, 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 £24.67 which was a Single Trip Insurance which covered mostly all of the factors mentioned above. I'm more than glad that I purchased travel insurance as while I was in New York I contracted a UTI (Bladder Infection) which left me in agony and unable to walk properly around 4 days into my trip. I paid upfront as I would then claim this money when I had returned from my holiday but it cost me $155 to see a doctor and from there $80 for antibiotics. I paid £24.67 and I'm in the process of reclaiming my money back rather than being £190 out of pocket if I hadn't purchased insurance.
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 New York. For example, if a traveller wants to see an NBA Game tickets can range from $25-40 for a seat whereas a ticket for a baseball game at Yankee Stadium can range from $15-230 depending on your choice of seating. The same rule applies for those wishing to visit a range of different museums while in New York, some museums such as The American Museum of Natural History operates on a pay-as-you-wish basis meaning visitors can pay anywhere from $1 to $30 if they wished (or even more). The 9/11 Museum & Memorial is a must see in New York and prices start at £20.78 if bought beforehand allowing visitors to skip the queue or buying tickets on the day for $26. Some attractions are free such as visiting Times Square, The Staten Island Ferry as well as visiting Central Park. However, those who may want to go on walking tours, those wanting to go up the Statue of Liberty and those wanting to spend more time sightseeing than shopping will spend more on activities and attractions. In total I spent £100.26 on attractions and activities in New York, which include visiting Central Park Zoo, The Empire State Building, 9/11 Museum & Memorial and The American Museum of Natural History. 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.
This is the part of the blog where I hang my head in shame while I type out how much I spent during my time in New York. As I had planned to go absolutely crazy in New York on shopping I made sure that I'd sorted my clothes out before going to New York and donating some to charity as well as figuring out my size in the US (as it's very different than the UK). I went to every shop imaginable - from Bath and Body Works to Macy's to then TJ Maxx to get unbelievable deals and then to China Town to get souvenirs for my friends and family. It's all fun and games picking up items and putting them in your basket until everything has been rung up and the cashier declares your total is $112.32 - where did it all go wrong? I only picked up 15 shower gels, 32 hand sanitizers, 4 candles, 2 bottles of perfume and.. oh, I did buy a lot.. Throughout my stay in New York I spent the grand total of £479.85. Some people may not shop that much while in New York, this price applies to those who shop everyday and want to buy designer goods that are discounted in shops such as Macy's and TJ Maxx.
Food & Drink
It's very hard to determine how much travellers should budget when travelling to New York for food and drink. There are people who don't mind a $1 slice of pizza and a $3 hot-dog whereas there are others who prefer to dine in more fancier and therefore more expensive restuarants. I had three meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a quick snack. In this section of my budget I included snacks bought from Target and Walgreens to put in the fridge of my hotel room such as soft drinks, water, cookies and chocolate. It's also important to note that I turned 20 during my trip to New York, which meant I wasn't able to purchase or consume alcohol as the law restricts the age to consume and purchase alcohol at 21. 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 $50 per day:
TOTAL SPENT FOR 9 DAYS IN NEW YORK: £2,536.88 (Approximately $3,140)
As this was my first trip to New York I had planned that I would spend a lot, especially with accommodation and shopping, as I wouldn't have a chance to return back for the next few years. Nearly half of the money spent consisted of paying for the hotel, which would've been a lot more if I had decided to travel alone, as well as a huge majority being taken by purchasing flights. I'd chosen and preferred to fly with a airline such as British Airways as they provide a high quality service and I knew I would be in good hands. Others may prefer airlines that costs less whereas others may pay for more expensive airline tickets if they want to travel in style and luxury.
Revolut, a form of a pre-paid card which is used in the form of digital banking, appealed to me mostly due to the fact that I was able to change the money I put onto this card into a range of different currencies. Since I'm travelling a lot I would hate to lose my regular bank card abroad, with the countless stages to get it back as well as not being able to use if in an emergency, leaving me with only the cash I had brought out with me.
Applying for this bank card was easy and quick, with it only taking me to download the Revolut app and then putting in my details as well as deciding what plan I had wanted. I decided to pick the standard plan, which has its limited features but has the benefit of it being completely free. However, I had to pay for the card itself with it being £4.99 excluding delivery which then took another 9 days to arrive. Luckily I had thought of getting this card weeks before my next holiday so I could try it out and make sure it worked before I ventured abroad.
My favourite feature about the Revolut card is the simplicity of it, I was able to transfer money from my bank account straight into my Revolut account within seconds. This money then appeared immediately in my account with the date and time of the transfer being present. From here I was able to convert this money into any currency I wanted to. When I mentioned before that Revolut have a lot of currencies available, I wasn't exaggerating with there being 130 currencies currently available. This meaning this card can be used globally with a small exception for countries with a currency that is not currently featured with this card. Even without transferring money I was able to purchase dinner in Spain with Revolut doing the conversion for me, with them taking it out of my main account (which has the currency in GBP), by using the exchange rate at that period of time. The only downside to this would be if the exchange rate is extremely poor, you will be the one suffering and losing out, which is why I recommend watching the exchange rate for your preferred currency and then exchanging money through the app when it's at its highest.
Just like a regular bank card Revolut allows money to be withdrawn in ATM's in your home country as well as at destinations you're travelling to when abroad. There is a catch to this, if you're on a standard plan then you're only allowed to withdraw up to £200 a month without being charged 2% for each withdrawal made after this. I barely withdrew money since I made a plan of how much physical money I would spend and how much I would spend on my Revolut card. However, if in need of emergency cash or if you travel a lot monthly then this may be a big downside for this card due to the charge applied after reaching your £200 a month limit.
The app for Revolut is one of my most used and helpful apps since when I purchased something on holiday, such as a meal or a drink at a supermarket, I'd get a notification seconds after. This notification would let me know how much I've spent and how much I've spent that day in total, an easy way to see if you're following your budget. The app also divides your transactions into categories such as groceries, restaurants and transport as well as showing how much you've spent in each category per month. This feature is handy since I was able to see how much I spent on food and transport and whether or not I was under or over my budget. The app also allows you to freeze the card, in which if your bag was stolen with your card in it, you would be able to immediately freeze it, so no one would be able to use it and you'd be able to cancel it. From the app I'm also able to see exactly where I made my purchase, this helped me find a restaurant I used and didn't remember the name of (since I wanted to return there the following day). The only downside to using your phone to keep track of your spending and making sure your card is topped up would be to make sure that your phone is fully charged or to make sure you have a portable charger with you.
Revolut is a form of digital banking, as mentioned before, which unfortunately means there is no physical branches in which people can go to if there is a problem. There's only the online support which is available through the app or by phone, this may make some people feel cautious about using Revolut since there is nowhere to physically go if something went wrong. The company itself is very new with Revolut being launched in 2015 with over 2 million customers in just under 3 years, which indeed did make me suspicious when I first read that on their website. Regardless, the website makes a strong point in saying that they're regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in which allows your money to be protected.
The Revolut card has made my life so much easier when travelling abroad since I always know that money is in the account regardless of whether or not I have converted it to the chosen currency for the country to. The only real downside was waiting for the card to come and the initial payment for it but regardless once it came I was able to use it straightaway.
As much as some people may believe I was born into a life of luxury to be able to save £7,000 a year for my travels, I work at least 112 hours a month to afford to do this. It’s very easy to save anything if you know how and have a goal to focus on. If you break this down I only save around £600 a month from my paycheck which comes in at around £1,000 after tax and National Insurance contributions have been deducted each month. This money can vary depending on whether or not I do any overtime as well as if I have to take any sick days. Regardless my thrifty ways still allow me to save £600 a month which contribute directly towards flights, accommodation and activities when abroad.
When first starting my job I knew I wanted to save a lot of money to be able to travel around the world, this led me to creating my own budget from scratch as well as keeping track of my payments going into and out of my account. I bought a project book, which I used to write down every single transaction that went through my account and I then categorized them according to what category they would fit into. I made 7 categories in total: savings, bills, travel, meals, clothes, other and food. These categories each had a specific budget attached to them:
In total these seven categories total to £400.45, which deducted from my paycheck equal to around £599.55, in which everything has been deducted and accounted for. This leaves the rest of the money to be saved and put towards future holidays.
Example of My Budget Plan
The first image shows my plan in my project book that keeps track of the transactions coming out of my account. Some of these transactions don’t come directly from my wages, such as flights and money put towards booking up hotels but I note them down just to keep a track of what is coming out of my account. The second image shows the spreadsheet I made which gives an overall account of how the month went financially for me. In areas such as clothing I was way under budget with me spending £17.30 less than I had accounted for but then going over budget by £7.73 with food. These payments cancel each other out and even after going over budget technically overall I am still within my budget. The “Other” section of my budget accounts for money going out of my account that is for holidays, which comes directly from my savings as well as items such as “Shoes for Dad” comes out of the money I save up monthly for birthdays.
As much as we don't realise it we're all guilty of the small purchases such as being a sweet treat or a new item of clothing. These purchases soon add up and you're left sitting there going through your statement wondering how all of these small purchases amounted to so much. In our minds we justify these purchases as being "small" but in reality they're just a constant cycle of spending in which leaves us with less money then we'd like.
I went through my statement one day and realised that I needed to cut down my expenses in order to afford all of the holidays I wanted to go on. A month later I had already saved around £200 by cutting back and limiting the amount of items I bought as well as making my money last longer by cancelling subscriptions I never used. In 15 easy steps you could easily cut down your expenses, if not saving more than I did, leaving you with more money to put away for your travels.
1. Travelling - Saving £50 a month
I love the transport in London since it's cheap, quick and efficient but it comes at a price. With a single tube and bus journey starting from £1.50, these purchases can soon add up with a minimum of £3 being spent daily to commute to and from work. This doesn't even include transport for going out on weekends or any other activities during the week. Taxis are also money consuming, even though they are useful in helping me get from one place to another in comfort and with added privacy, these journeys can start from around £5 and cost upwards of £20. I started to walk to work, which saved me £3 a day on travel, as well as helping me get fitter and allowing me to enjoy the wonderful weather London has at the moment. Rather than getting a taxi I use the bus or tube, even though it costs £1.50, it's much better than it costing nearly quadruple the price in a taxi.
2. Generic vs Named Brands - Saving £10-30 a month
This is something that can save money very quickly since it can be used in all aspects of life: food, clothing, medicines, toiletries as well as cleaning products. Even though I wouldn't go as far to make ever single food item an supermarket brand, there are some food items such as pasta that are a lot cheaper than branded as I've seen 500g of penne pasta for just 30p. Many clothing brands boast about their reputation and their name being recognisable yet these items are overpriced and can be bought in other clothing retailers for better than half the price (just without the logo). My favourite way of saving is buying own branded medicine, this has easily saved me money since I constantly suffer with headaches I buy a pack of paracetamol being 30p for 16 capsules rather than branded names being around £3/4. They both do the same job in my opinion and there is no point spending more money than necessary on something only you will see.
3. Food & Drink - Saving £50 a month
As much as it seems unrealistic to save £50 solely on food and drink, it is very easy once you start to cut out the obvious yet unimportant things. I used to buy a bottle of water when I was at work since it would be cold and it would save me the effort of doing this at home. When I counted up how much I had spent on water alone, it came to just over £25. I nearly cried when I had seen that I had spent that much on water and then decided I would reuse a bottle from work and fill the water from a jug (that filters the water) from my fridge. Since I currently work in a supermarket, it has it perks, since I finish work the same time second reductions have begun. This meaning I'm able to get at least 75% from the retail price from items such as fruits and vegetables to a whole leg of lamb. As much as people argue that this food is "bad" since it's expiring that day, there is no harm in freezing it and then defrosting it when it's needed. Some of my friends have even got £80 worth of shopping for less than £15 since they shopped just before closing when supermarkets are desperate to get rid of food expiring that day.
4. Do you really need those ______ ? - Saving £20-40 a month
Do you really need those shoes? Do you? Do you really need them when you have dozens of pairs at home? These are the questions I ask myself now when shopping since I'm one of those people who impulse buys since they "need" that certain item. Unless my clothes have ripped or my shoes have holes in them, I don't need to buy anymore than I need to - when something rips or breaks then replace it, don't buy something you don't need and might not wear. When going through my wardrobe I had found tons of tops and dresses that I didn't even know I had, which led me to have a massive clear out of the clothes I wore and the ones I didn't, with the clothes I didn't wear either going to charity or being sold.
5. Doing your own beauty treatments - Saving £30 a month
I love feeling pampered by going to get a manicure and a pedicure done, yet I don't feel pampered when I see the hefty price tag that comes along with it. The salon I have been going to for years charges around £15 for a manicure and pedicure, which I admit is cheap, yet soon adds up when this is done once or twice a month. To save money I bought a nail varnish colour and a nail hardener, which was as cheap as £3 for both items, which allowed me to do my nails whenever I wanted to since I could do it from the comfort of my own home and without paying out each time. Another way I learnt to save money was to do my own waxing, admittedly the lady I go to is a professional, when I go on holiday I could spend up to £50 on waxing (I'm very ashamed to admit that). To change this I bought waxing strips from a health and beauty retailer and braved the pain, which first time left me with a waxing strip stuck to my leg and me in tears trying to rip it off without bringing my skin with it. Regardless over time I began to get better and the results were similar to those of a salon.
6. Gym Membership - Saving £30 a month
When joining the gym I was surprised to find out I had to pay £20 upfront as well as paying £27.99 a month for the membership. The gym was about a 20 minute walk from my house, that alone being a task in itself, put me off going when it was raining or if the weather forecast said it would rain later on. The equipment itself in the gym is worth the money but when walking through a park nearby my house one day I found similar equipment in a section dedicated to being an outdoor gym. I then cancelled my gym membership and started going to this gym, not only was it completely free but I was able to go there whenever I wanted to since it was so close to my house. Another great thing is that you're not cooped up inside with the smell of sweat filling the air but unfortunately this means you're stuck indoors if it begins to rain.
7. Going Out (Or Should I Say Staying In) - Saving £20 a month
Living in London is very expensive. I mean very very expensive. With restaurants costing around £15-20 per person for a main course and either a starter or dessert as well as a drink, these outings can come at a price if done frequently. Why go out for a meal when you can cook for your friends from your home, you could even make it so that each week or each fortnight you take turns to cook for each other. Not only is this an easy way to save money but it means you get to spend time with your friends in an intimate place where you can watch a film or even just talk privately without being surrounded by music and other guests. With this meal you could also bring a bottle of wine, if you and your friends drink, since pubs charge ridiculous amounts for a single glass (so much that you could buy the bottle of wine for that price). I remember the first time I bought a drink from the pub became my last, when ordering a single vodka and coke I was charged £4.50, I could hear my debit card crying when I had finished paying for it. Let me tell you it was my only drink that night, preferably since I wasn't about to spend £4.50 on another one.
8. Smoking, Energy Drinks, Fast Food & Coffee - Saving £10-50 a month (depending on if you smoke, eat fast food or drink coffee or energy drinks)
Smoking is a very expensive habit, I'm not going to suggest giving up smoking straight away since I know it's a very difficult habit to give up as many of my friends and family members smoke. However, smoking is detrimental to your health as well as your wallet since a pack of 20 cigarettes can cost up to £12, even the cheaper packets are around £8.50. If you started to reduce the amount you smoke even by a packet a week, that can save nearly £10 a week which then leads to you to saving £40 a month. The same goes for energy drinks and fast food, as much as they're a purchase of habit, I find they're not the best for your body. I gave up fast food around a year ago as well as cutting down my energy drink intake and it has made my health much better as well as my bank balance.
9. Only Use Cash When Going Out - Saving £25 a month
As mentioned before I'm an impulse buyer, I won't worry about the price until I read it on my statement and then regret it. Since technology has evolved people are now able to pay for items with just a tap of a card - no hassle of putting in your card and entering your pin. This makes it even easier to buy items since in the time it takes for the payment to be verified, your brain still hasn't thought of the actual money being spent. If you bring £20 out with you and see something for £25, that's tough. You'll just have to put it back and come back when you have enough money (don't steal it). This limiting what you can buy with just physical cash and preventing you from spending tons of money on a day out, in which you could do if you had your debit card on you.
10. Sharing a House/Living at Home - Saving upwards of £200 a month
Some people are afraid to admit they live at home, not me, I'm proud to say I live at home since being single and at the time of writing this blog post I'm 18 - I don't have enough to even think of moving out and no reason to. I pay for all my own bills and pay my parents housekeeping each month which contributes towards food and household bills but this is a lot cheaper than the rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in London. Another cheaper alternative would be living with friends since it would mean bills get split between more people which then makes it a lot cheaper.
11. Phone Plan - Saving £5-10 a month
When looking for phones and tariffs that go along with them, it's important to think about whether it's cheaper to buy the phone and the tariff separately or buying it as part of a contract. With my phone tariff, which is £26 a month for an iPhone SE with unlimited calls and texts as well as 4GB of data each month, which I consider good value for money as I make a lot of phone calls and text a lot of people. My contract lasts 12 months so in these months it would have cost me £312 for the phone and the tariff through my contract. If I had bought the phone by itself it would have cost me around £270 and the tariff being around £10 each month which altogether would have cost me £390 - saving me around £80 altogether.
12. Second Hand Items - Saving £5-10 a month
There is absolutely nothing wrong with second hand items, whether they're from a charity shop or a library, they still are fit for their purpose but just might not look in the best condition. One of my favourite things to do on a hot day in London is sit in the park and read but books that are brand new can cost between £5 and £10, which would be costly in the long run. For this price I could buy around 5 books from a charity shop and then pass them on to a friend or donate them back to a charity shop. Another alternative which is completely free is borrowing books from a library however these have a limited time frame in which they need to be read in and returned by.
13. Cinema Pass - Saving £60 a month
I love going to the cinema, whether it be to watch a horror movie or a comedy, it's something I do more than once a week. Nevertheless, going to the cinema has become very expensive with a ticket for an adult costing around £12, a ridiculous amount to see a film that on average lasts around an hour and a half. I purchased a Odeon Limitless Pass which costs me £17.99 a month and I can see an unlimited amount of movies, with restrictions of course, but still it's very good value for money. When I purchased this I went to the cinema twice in one day, so in one day I had already gotten my money back for the month plus more towards next month. In September 2017 I watched 11 films, which should have cost me around £132 but only cost me £17.99 since I had used my Limitless Pass.
14. Bringing Your Own Lunch To Work - Saving £60 a month
Meal deals, which usually consist of a sandwich, a drink and a bag of crisps, usually cost about £3. As much as these tend to be good value for money, they can be an unsurprising weight on your bank account. If you spent £3 each day for 5 days during the week, it would cost around £15 (not much so far considering what you get) but if you done this every week for a month it would then cost around £60 (that is a lot for sandwiches, crisps and a drink). Instead of paying £3 for a meal deal I bring my own lunch to work, this consists of a sandwich, a drink (which was bought as a multi pack) and a bag of crisps (which was also bought as a multi pack) which brings my total cost of lunch each day to less than 50p. This saves me the time and effort in work of going back onto the shop floor and figuring out what I wanted to buy, which has wasted nearly a third of my break in the past.
15. The best things in life are free! - Saving £20 a month
I enjoy going out at the weekend since it gives me a chance to do something other than work. In London activities tend to be on the more expensive side but there are hundreds of interesting and enjoyable activities to do in London that cost absolutely nothing. Museums that are free include the National Gallery and The Science Museum as well as talking a walk along South Bank. There are hundreds of parks around London that not only are free but host some of the best views of London.
Some of these tips may seem completely obvious but some of us are so unaware of how much we're spending due to habit of doing it. Even cutting back on the smallest of things can save at least £50 a month towards a holiday or your travels, this equates to £600 a year in which I could get two and a half holidays out of (including flights, hotels and activities).
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.