Saturday, 28 May 2016

Make your National Trust membership go further

If, like my family, you've got National Trust membership but have become bored with the same old local stately piles on a Sunday afternoon, why not make your subscription go further? Literally.

That little orange card in your wallet can also work its magic across the sea in Northern Ireland.

The rugged County Antrim coastline is perfect for picnicking on glorious beaches, listening to the echoes in compelling caves and swaying on rickety rope bridges.

The National Trust's vertiginous rope bridge (above) was built in 1775 by salmon fisherman and it links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede (translated to 'Rock in the Road'.) This simple bridge spans 20 metres and is 30 metres above the rocks of the sea, and hose who are brave enough to hold on tight and not look down are rewarded with views across to the Scottish islands.

Travel a little way along the stunning coastline and you'll be able to use your card again, this time at The Giant's Causeway.  The inner-geographer in you will marvel at the 40,000 basalt columns and the kids will love climbing over (and slipping) on the rocks.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, most of the formations are hexagonal but some have up to eight sides; a great family competition is to see who can find the column with the most sides!  

Flights to Northern Ireland are cheap and for around £30 each you can fly to the Emerald Isle with Ryanair or Easyjet from several regional airports.  

Myself and the crew are off to explore Northern Ireland in August on a quick jaunt.  Our flights (for the four of us) have come in under £100, our Premier Inn room slap bang in the middle of Belfast city has cost £34 for a night's use of a family room and car hire for 24 hours is a measly £21.  Two children eat free with every adult breakfasting at a Premier Inn and, in this part of the world, Tesco Clubcard vouchers are valid at restaurants such as Prezzo and Pizza Express.  So, for £155 we have a family trip to Northern Ireland with no additional costs for entertainment while we're there; our National Trust membership and Tesco Clubcard have eliminated additional expenses.  

When you consider that a family day out in the summer holidays to a theme park can cost in the region of £150 for entrance tickets alone, a quick nip across the sea seems like an Irish adventure worth having.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Grab a summer bargain!

Those of you still without plans for the summer will be pleased to know that the bargains are plentiful for August this year.  For under £100 spent on flights, a family of four can fly off to some amazing destinations...

What about Germany?  For just £16 return, Cologne beckons you and your kinder.  With its magnificent cathedral and wonderful position on The Rhine, this city is bound to delight you.  Landing you slap bang in the middle of Europe, this destination would make a perfect starting point for a roadtrip.

At just £24, flights to Gothenburg and Copenhagen are available, with Scandinavian splendours waiting to be discovered.  Legoland for the children, travels across the majestic ├śresund Bridge between the two countries and all the gravlax you can eat!

Or what about wonderfully crisp Basel for £35 return?  Sitting on the border of France, Germany and Switzerland, this city is one of many identities.  Mountain passes, world-class art galleries and trains that run on time!

And, if it's gelato and pizza you're after, Milan is cheap at £46 return at the height of summer.  The beauty of the Italian Lakes will delight you, I promise.  Como, Maggiore or Garda?

Factor in self-catering accommodation (see my blog from January for tips) and you've got a European week for under £750 for the whole family.  Definitely a holiday to remember.

I'm more than happy to help source flights and accommodation for you and your family.  Why pay brochure prices when you can create a bespoke break for half the price? 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Walt Disney World and Legoland for MUCH less than you'd expect!

With yesterday's high court ruling on holidays during term-time, it looks as if the world is now a family's oyster, making it cheaper to holiday abroad than to stay in this country.  The gamble with the weather is officially over and you can flit the UK to be assured of wall-to-wall sun and the cheap Euro or dollar.

Next month, direct flights to Florida from London, Manchester and Birmingham are only £250 return.  Factor in accommodation in your own self-catering villa (with pool) and a fortnight's holiday with Mickey, Pluto and Cinderella comes in at under £2000!  A quick look at the Thomas Cook website reveals that's a saving of over £4000 for a family of four! 

For £2000, you'd struggle to holiday in this country for a fortnight in July or August and you wouldn't be guaranteed the weather or the variety an Orlando holiday can offer in the way of alligators, swamplands, water parks, the Kennedy Space Centre...

For those watching the purse strings a little more, I have the perfect theme park alternative a little closer to home.  Why go to Legoland Windsor when return flights to the Danish home of the plastic brick are only £15 at the end of this month?  And as for minimising costs on entry to the theme park, I have the perfect plan for money-savvy parents.  Just as we, in the UK, have the 2-for-1 vouchers for venues/days out on cereal boxes in the UK, the Danish and Germans have similar offers and a quick ebay search produces such deals for only a euro.  When we visited Billund last summer, I sourced a fistful of vouchers which meant that our kids went free into Legoland, with lots of vouchers left over to dish out to other families at the payment booths.  If you search for 'Legoland gutschein', you'll be sure to find a host of sellers who can save you money on the entrance fee.

So, a Lego-themed minibreak for under £150 for a family of four, including accommodation, travel, entry to the park and the joys of Scandinavian culture. In comparison, Alton Towers costs £130 for a day ticket.  Surely, a no-brainer?

Orlando and Billund.  The most perfect family destinations at a perfect price.

And, as always, if you need a hand sniffing out these bargains, give me a shout!  I'd love to help you bag a bargain, full of family memories.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Family Travelling makes it to the small screen!

Yeah!  We're on TV.  Catch us on Channel 4oD with the programme "Sun, Sea and Supersavers".  Will we win the contest to have the cheapest family holiday in Majorca with only a couple of weeks to book flights, accommodation and activities?

Monday, 9 May 2016

Freedom to fly...

As you've probably gathered by now, I'm a teacher and, therefore, I'm frustratingly tethered to the school holidays when it comes to travelling. 

However, If you're lucky enough to have chosen a 'normal' profession, you can seriously see the world with the change in your back pocket.  Shop for flights wisely and you can explore the world on the cheap.

Being able to holiday whenever you choose is a real luxury; you can reap the rewards of bargain European flights beginning at a pocket-money sized cost.  Indeed, a recent search of mine found ten Italian flights, over the next couple of months, all for under £30 return, including the dream destination of Venice!

To find bargains, go to the search engine and search UK to EVERYWHERE.  For the dates, choose CHEAPEST MONTH and, away you go!

A quick search has thrown up amazing deals for destinations, such as those below, for May 2016.
  • Return to Greece - £30
  • Return to Denmark - £18
  • Return to Mexico - £220
What are you waiting for?  Go and pack!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Easter 2017

Now's the time to book next year's Easter jaunt, folks!  As with this year, schools are all over the place in terms of where they've chosen to land the two-week break.  This anomaly means that there are flight deals out there for the early birds.

Just a brief look on has thrown up some interesting options.  Santorini flights are pricing up at £300 for a family of four, Rome is coming in at a similar price and Madrid continues to be a bargain.  Factor in self-catering accommodation and the whole week's Easter break will come in at under £1000.  Look in a brochure for April next year and you'll be lucky to get change from double that amount. 

Another benefit of booking up early is that you get the pick of the self-catering accommodation.  The best places get rented out months in advance and, leave it too late, and you're left with the dregs of the resort.

Happy planning.  Let me know where you're off to...