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February 2009

Book a Budget Ski Trip to Eastern Europe.

Posted February 28, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

1Were you thinking of putting your skiing holiday on hold this year to save some money?

True, it is not a cheap way of spending your time away from home. Flights, hotels, ski pass, ski rental, ski outfits, it all ads up. But instead of going down the slopes in the traditional and mostly expensive ski resorts in Western Europe, why not venture to the East? Some of the former Soviet countries have some great ski resorts that are still quite unspoilt.

Compared to France and Switzerland the pistes might not be top notch, but if there is snow you can ski. And because these resorts are still unknown, you won’t have to queue up to take a ride in the ski lifts and you won’t trip over anybody on your way down. But the best thing is that the prices are unbelievably low. So here are a few options. 

Give your skiing trip a Bohemian twist and try some of the great resorts in the Czech republic. The most popular slopes are in the Krkonose mountain range in the town of Spindleruv Mlyn. It is very easy to get there from Prague. If you don’t have your own equipment you can rent skis for around £8 per day.Expect to shell out around 23 GBP per day for a lift pass which is easily 50% cheaper than in Switzerland or France. Sleeping is not expensive either and you can find cheap accommodation for as little as £15 per night.

 Another option is Bulgaria. Pamporovo is one of the ski resorts in this former East Block country.  Prices for ski lisfts and rentals do very a bit depending on who and where you buy them from. But expect to pay something around the £35 mark for one whole week of ski hire, £100 for a weeks’ lift pass or around £190 GBP for both including daily ski instructions. Hotels are very inexpensive as well and you can easily find something for around £30.

A third alternative is Zakopane in Poland.  The town is only a 2 hour bus ride away from historic Krakow. This could well be the cheapest ski resort ever as ski hire will set you back 5 quid per day a ski pass will only cost you around £1.50 for 12 runs and If you need to brush up on your skiing skills; for £8 per hour you can get yourself a private ski instructor. Of course you can find a decent and cheap hotel here with prices starting from £13 per room.

So what are you waiting for? Catch the last few weeks of winter and book yourself a cheap flight to Prague, Sofia or Krakow and have a great snow filled holiday after all.

(Photo: Reuters)

Holiday in England. UK holidays revival

Posted February 25, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

Yes, there is life outside the M25. 1

You won't fall off the face of the earth when you go Heathrow airport. 

In fact, there are some beautiful places to see and visit in our own country and the best part is, you will feel like you've had a proper holiday without spending tons of money. 

Now that the value of the Pound is about the same as the Euro, it has become very expensive to take a whirlwind weekend break to the continent. So why not stay on the island and see what good ole Blighty has to offer? 

Enjoy England, the official tourism board, has set up a special webpage that features all kinds of cheap offers and discounts around the country as well as some good tips for those of you who think they have seen it all. Check out enjoyengland.com/value for some great money saving ideas suchas 2 tickets for the price of 1 when you visit Denbies Vineyard in Dorking Surrey. Honestly, you will feel as if you are visiting a fancy wine estate somewhere in New Zealand and you're really only one hour away from London. 

Or what about a flight in a hot air balloon? You will now get 50% off Virgin Balloon Flights Adventure Packages. These are just two examples of some of the credit crunch offers on the tourism board’s website. For more great budget travel ideas beyond the English borders, surf to visitbritain.com. Here they give you great listings of the best attractions for under a tenner or helpful tips on how to find budget accommodation around the country. 

Also all your questions about where to find the cheapest train, plane and bus tickets to travel around the British Isles are answered.   

Tip: Take the train instead of the plane and if you book well in advance you will be cheaper off and reduce your carbon footprint. So, really, there is no acceptable excuse for staying at home this year. Credit crisis or not.

Or, to search for flights and compare prices, please use our cheap flight comparison tool

(Photo: visitbritain.com)

Cheaper travel tips for a recession

Posted February 25, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Holiday For Less1

Alright, you’ve had enough and have decided to go on holiday. However, you probably want to be able to buy a flight ticket and pay for your accommodation without having to take out a mortgage. Well, there’s no need to fly with a low-cost carrier and stay at roach-infested backpackers’ establishments just to save money. Your friends at BookingBuddy.co.uk have come up with a few tips to help you save money while getting the holiday you desire. Just remember to drop us a postcard when you’re there!

When planning your trip, keep an eye on currency exchanges rates. If you’re not too fussed about where you want to go, you’ll be able to stretch those pounds by going where the exchange rate is better.
The weak krona makes Iceland one of the better value countries to go to right now. And if you feel like some sun, why not head towards the Southern Hemisphere? The pound is currently standing strong against the Australian dollar and South African rand, which makes holidays Down Under a relatively inexpensive option right now Some partners of BookingBuddy are advertising cheap flights to Sydney or Melbourne for around £600 return currently, or about half the peak price!

Another way to save money is to opt for package deals while booking your flight tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals. Deals from third-party travel websites often offer great savings when you choose them. Most websites also offer customisable packages, which means you can also book extras such as theatre tickets or sightseeing tours and save on them as well.

Finally, try to shop like a local when you’re at your holiday destination. Instead of visiting large faceless shopping centres, try and seek out markets and shops that the locals visit. Haggling in markets is often accepted and even encouraged, which means you’ll feel less ripped off. You’ll able to able to soak in the sights and sounds of the place at the same time.

This is by no means a definitive list of money-saving tips, but follow them, and you’ll not only be able to have a cheaper holiday, but you’ll have fun at the same time.

(Photo: telegraph.co.uk)

P&O Cruises Offer Cheap Wedding Packages

Posted February 19, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

So he got down on one knee and asked you to marry him on Valentine’s Day? Now all you have to do is get cracking and start organising your wedding.  

Easier said than done, especially with this credit crunch just getting worse and worse. Dress, location, flowers, cake. All of those things can easily leave you with a hefty bill of up to £10,000.  If not more. 

So if you're wondering how to have a budget wedding without making it look cheap, here's an idea. 

P&O Cruises have been swamped lately with couples looking to tie the knot on their ships. That’s why they've created cheap wedding packages on their cruises. For as little as £1,000, you can say your wedding vows during a ceremony conducted by the captain. 

The package further includes flowers, invitations, two bottles of champagne, thank you notes for your guests and, best of all, a wedding planner. Meals, wedding pictures and a wedding cake are extra, but your total cost will still be a lot lower than a wedding on dry land. And what could be more romantic than saying ’I do’ at sea? 

And don’t forget that if you were planning a romantic post-nuptial trip anyways, you'll kill two birds with one stone by getting married while on your honeymoon. You can choose from the many romantic destinations P&O sail to, among which are cruises in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and the Canary Islands. Tip: Don’t bother pressing your dress or suit before you leave. You can have it done on the ship. For free! 

So if he hasn’t asked you yet, start dropping some hints, because these packages are just too good to be miss.

Don't fancy a cruise or want to meet halfway? Check out cheap flights to the Caribbean or cheap flights to the Canary Islands

Cheap Flights From London Gatwick (LGW)

Posted February 19, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

Now that we're officially in a recession, everyone is spending less on luxury items, and of course one of those being skimped on is travel.

However, if you spend some time surfing the Internet, you’ll find you can still book some nice getaways without spending months paying back your astronomically high credit card bill. 

Aer Lingus, the Irish national carrier, has completely overhauled their pricing strategy and is taking on competition with Easyjet and Ryanair. Additionally, they've set up a new hub outside of Dublin at London Gatwick and you can book flights from there to cities in Southern Europe. Such as cheap flights to Nice, Malaga and Faro, but also cheap tickets to Vienna, Munich and Zurich

The fares are incredible and if you are flexible and book well in advance, you can find fares for as low as £0.00. Yes, zero, zilch, nada. Just pay the taxes and surcharges and you are off to the Mediterranean to top up your tan. 

Tip: Avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays in the evening. Midweek departures can save you some major pounds. Better to spend those on a nice dinner on the boulevard in southern Spain, right? 

Another tip: Pack light and bring small bottles of suntan oil so you don’t have to check your luggage. You will save another £18, or three mojitos....

Search and compare cheap flights from London here

Holiday packing list tips

Posted February 17, 2009 by BookingBuddy

1

Looking at someone’s luggage can tell you a lot about that person.

Are you the type who manages to get by on a month-long getaway with nothing but the bare essentials, yet manages to look (and smell) like you’ve got a personal stylist stashed away in a compartment of your suitcase?

Or are you the type who brings along a bulging bag you can barely zip up, (containing 4 pairs of heels and 2 pairs of trainers) just for a weekend jaunt to the Cotswolds or one of those last-minute flights to Alicante?

If you’re the latter (alright, I confess, I’m one of them. After all, I did pack a pink sequined skirt when I went to the Gobi Desert…) then here are some tips you might find helpful the next time you’re packing for a trip.

First off, plan ahead.  This may seem pretty obvious to some of you and may also sound like a bit of a hassle, especially if you’re going on a holiday and not a business trip. But whatever the type of trip, it helps if you think it through in advance. At the very least, try to find out the weather forecast. This helps you pack your clothes accordingly. After all, there’s no point lugging a parka with you if you’re going somewhere tropical.

The next thing you can do is to make a packing list. A list will help you remember to pack essential but easily forgotten items—for example, sunscreen, travellers’ checks, or medication—and cut out any unnecessary items. Checking each item off after you’ve placed it into your bag ensures that you’ll have everything you need once you get to the end of the list.

This next tip is to plan and investigate your sightseeing itinerary and is also related to the first point. Plan ahead and try and find out what sites you may be visiting. Many religious places may not allow women in if they have bare shoulders, or are wearing tiny denim shorts. So, take pieces that can be layered. Separates will be more versatile than suits and full-length dresses. Take along a shawl that you can wrap around your waist as a skirt, or to help cover your head and shoulders. Some restaurants may frown on men wearing t-shirts and shorts, so it helps to pack a pair of lightweight trousers and a long-sleeved shirt.

Also, roll up your clothes instead of folding them when packing, as this helps eliminate wasted space, and you’ll be able to cram more in (if you absolutely have to, of course).

And lastly, if you’re bringing your own lotions and potions, repackage them into smaller bottles of 100 ml or less. This helps with security-screening purposes if you plan on taking them in your carry-on. Many hotels also provide complimentary bottles of toiletries, so why not take advantage of those? After all, you’ve already paid for it. If you’re going on a short trip (say, a week to 10 days), you’ll only need little bottles anyway, as you’re not likely to finish everything straightaway.

Oh, and don't forget to search and compare flight prices to make sure you have the best deal.

(Photo: Reuters)

Cheap Singapore Hotel - find one for £1 A Night!

Posted February 11, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Are you sitting in your office (or at home), staring out at the slush blanketing the streets? Right now, you’d probably love to be someone warmer and less wet, where you don’t risk falling over and fracturing your coccyx every time you step out the door.

However, the economy is still looking fairly uncertain, and your best bet for a cheap holiday seems to be to take a few days off work and stay at home. Turn the heating up and add a couple of plastic palm trees and you could almost pretend you were somewhere in the tropics.

Or, you can always turn the global financial unrest to your advantage and actually go somewhere for a holiday that will cost about the same as a monthly train ticket. After all, it’s a global financial crisis, which means other countries are filling the effects too. Instead of hopping over to Europe, why not wing it to Southeast Asia, where your pound still buys you a lot more?

First off, check out STA Travel’s online auction site. If you’re looking for cheap flights to Singapore, for example, then you’d better start bidding for a plane ticket. Bids start from about US$1, so if you’re lucky, you may be able to bag yourself a ticket to the Lion City for a couple of pounds.

If you’ve managed to get your mitts on a ticket to Singapore, then log on to the Ibis Singapore’s website www.paywhatyouwant.com.sg to get bidding for a room at the new ‘international economy hotel’.

Customers can bid for a room during specified sales periods, and even bids as low as S$1 will be excepted, subject to availability.
Play your cards right, and you might be able to come back from your holiday with enough change left over to go on another holiday.

See fares for Cheap flights to Singapore now!

Eurostar adds Love Trains on Valentine’s Day

Posted February 11, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

This year if you really want to treat your wife, boyfriend or whatever is applicable to you, don’t even think of buying flowers or chocolates, but take her/him to Paris. You have to admit that it’s the most romantic city in the world with so many dreamy spots to take the one you love. Strolls along the Seine, candlelit dinners in Montmartre, cuddling up while listening to music on the Place des Vosges, smooching on the Bateaux Mouches, saying ‘I  Love You’ at the top of the Eiffel Tower, popping the question at…. Ok stop, I am getting a little bit carried away here, but apparently there were many more people who had the same idea. Due to popular demand Eurostar, the high speed train company that links the UK with France, are adding ‘Love Trains’ to their schedule during Valentine’s Day weekend. They are offering special Valentine’s Day packages which you can book through their website.

From £231 you can take that special someone to Paris or (if it’s a not so special someone) you can spend the weekend in Brussels starting from £168.

Now Valentine’s Day is not just for couples. Cupid is riding the Love Train too. On the 14th of February there will be a high speed dating event held on one of the trains. Unfortunately it is a trial event by invitation only, but who knows, if it proves to be a success, they might turn it into a regular event. So keep your eyes peeled on Eurostar.com, because surely it beats watching ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ for the 'zillionth' time.

Or, want a different travel method? Book a Cheap flight to Paris or Flight to Brussels

Free Flight Upgrade? Do these still exist?

Posted February 11, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

Well we have the current tips to get a flight upgrade on your next trip.

Times are tough at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on luxury when you travel. Check out some cheap ways to fly in style without breaking the bank.

Many carriers struggle to fill their premium seats and are offering great deals on upgrades. Check out Virgin Atlantic's website for great deals on their Upper Class tickets. For around £1000 you can enjoy a massage and a glass of bubbly flying across the pond to the US, say a flight to New York or a flight to Orlando.

Even better is Etihad Airways’ offer: free upgrades from Economy Class to Business and from Business to First. They obviously do this in the hope that next time you fly with them you will actually fork out the cash. Not that I can afford that, but it is nice to enjoy being pampered in the air. At least for once.

Another way is to join a frequent flyer program of whatever airline you like best. If you think you don’t fly often enough to actually accrue enough points to get the upgrades or even free flights, try the many credit cards that most carriers are teamed up with and start earning points while paying for your daily shopping. There are some great deals out there at the moment, with some companies offering you points for just signing up. 

Airlines always overbook their flights to ensure their aircraft don’t fly out with empty seats. This means that on busy flights they will be doing cabin rolls. Of course the highest paying passenger will be the first to get an upgrade to the next cabin, but it never hurts to ask.  A tip: It pays off to to check out the flight loads on the airlines' website (if the airline website has this feature).  If economy is full and the other cabins aren’t, then timing your check-in at the airport as late as possible can often end in being upgraded.  Leave the frayed jeans and trainers at home. You will be more likely to get it if you dress to impress.

Get a job at an airline and enjoy all the premium travel you want.  However in these dire times that might be a bit hard to do as most carriers are not hiring at the moment. The obvious alternative is to befriend airline staff. So on your next trip, start chatting up the crew on your flight. If anything, you will kill some time on those extremely long flights.

Yotels Open at Gatwick and Heathrow

Posted February 6, 2009 by Jaklien van Melick

Yotel Whenever I need to catch an early morning flight, I start the day being stressed out.  I keep waking up, worried that I won’t hear the alarm clock. I pace my flat, fretting that the taxi will be late or won't show up at all. Followed by a nervous ride to the airport, because the M4 is chock-a-block full of traffic. Then of course there is a queue of cars up the ramp leading to the terminal, so I usually end up at the check-in kiosk out of breath and just in time to make the flight.

I've been thinking of ways to deal with this anxiety, but I've only come up with either sleeping at the airport or getting a hotel near the airport the night before. I tried both and let me tell you, you would have to be a contortionist to be able to sleep in those airport seats. The other option wasn’t much good either because most airport hotels are located in such inconvenient locations that you still need to hop on a bus, a train and then a taxi to get to the terminal.

So I was happy to hear that the founder of Japanese fast food restaurant chain Yo-sushi, came up with the brilliant idea of setting up hotels in the airport. How great is that? All you need to do is wake up and roll out of your bed and you are at check in. Well, sort of. The ultramodern design of the Yotels is based on the Japanese capsule hotels. The cabins are equipped with TV, Internet connection and room service and the great thing is that it costs almost nothing to stay here. Prices start from £24.50 for a day room and £55 for one night and you can book directly on Yotel.com for stays at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The only thing is that the cabins are a bit small and boxy, so probably not a good idea if you suffer from claustrophobia or sleep walking.

Hey, you might not get a good night’s sleep, but at least you'll be able to board your flight completely stress-free.

(Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

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