The other week the dreaded happened, I became of an age where I no longer fell into that category of choice and I now have to opt for the 26-35 checkbox on forms. How did that happen?! I’m TWENTY SIX so I guess that means I need to stop for a second and reevaluate my life, I’m at that age where I have certain milestones society says I should be achieving; getting married, having children, saving and paying mortgages and also getting serious about a career, I’ve been serious about business since I can remember so at least I’ve nailed one!
With post-Brexit worries about finances, the long-term impact (hang on, stay with me guys) of not only our finances, trade deals and currency but the effect this will have on our cost of living, the way we save and how much we actually save is imperative. The FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) are on hand to take some of the worries away: they are the people who protect your money in your savings and current account and the service they provide is totally free. They have some pretty cool money hacks on their website too!
I once heard a motivational speaker giving advice that he had learned a long time ago, you should live off 50% of your income, save 30% and invest 20% of it and that’s how he taught many people to grow their wealth. It’s logical really but easier said than done, especially if you’re like me and love to travel.
With 2017 upon us and New Year’s Resolutions already being thrown about I know that tightening up my saving is on the agenda with goals already set for the upcoming year I’m also thinking of how I can still live the life I love and in particular, travel. Next year’s travel bucket list is Giraffe Cafe in Kenya, a Skiing holiday and of course Black Friday in America. I’ve already trips to Tenerife and Ibiza to look forward to too.
I need some help so luckily the FSCS have teamed up with travel journalist Helen Ochyra to showcase the travel trends of 2017.
Feeling prepared? Here are my 10 top tips to help you travel in style without dipping into your savings
1. 6 weeks before you plan to travel, on a Tuesday that’s when your ticket will be at the cheapest price. Use comparison sites to check deals and scour the internet for coupons that could help make extra savings. Keep your eye out for sales too, it’s worth following the airlines or rail companies on Facebook & Twitter too and signing up to their mailing lists. Virgin and BA have amazing sales!
2. Make yourself flexible, travelling out of peak times works out much more reasonable, this includes school holidays, summer time and festive periods. Try different dates for travel too. There’s also an influx of people travelling on a weekend, with demand increasing the travel companies can hike the prices to whatever they choose. Tuesday and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest days to travel. Also, check your destination and dates that there’s not big festivals or events on. On a couple of occasions we’ve stayed in Vegas when the Rodeo has been in town and it has had an impact on prices.
3. When it comes to trains standard class is not always the brightest way to travel. If there’s only a couple of pound difference between standard and first class opt for first class, it includes more often than not unlimited drinks, a meal and of course that all-important free wi-fi, by the time you take into account the cost of the food you’ll have bought on the train or in the station this will add up to far more than the ticket price where the wine is flowing and the meals are hot. Similarly sometimes (not very often) you find that the ticket prices are cheaper to travel by first class than standard class - the other week I took a train from Birmingham to London and the ticket fare was £10 first class, £13 standard class. No brainer really!
4. Set menus and fixed priced deals are the way to go. Usually, these are an exceptional value and if you’re travelling the cost of eating soon adds up. Instead of going all out every night on the a la carte menu usually 3 courses from their fixed price menu costs less than a single main course from their a la carte. Embrace the local delicacies and try something different. When we were last in Greece there was a little restaurant which did 3 courses for €8. You can’t argue with that! If you can stay all inclusive, even better this will help save you lots of money as all your food and drinks will be included for not much more than a standard price. We’ve stayed in a few amazing hotels with great all inclusive menus including Tunisia and Mexico, they had multiple restaurants and the drinks were all well-known brands.
5. Check currency rates well in advance. We’ve had a few unstable months since Brexit was announced but if you’re heading to another country make sure you’ve got your eyes on the prices of the currency, this will save you money and give you more to spend - try and research the best prices a month before you go and buy currency in multiples of £500 offers you a better rate.
6. Use local transport - this is one of my favourite tips. When we were in Cancun we took a trip to the Isla Mujeres one day, instead of booking the tourist boat over to the island which cost around £50 each we took the locals boat, sat next to a woman with a box of live chickens on her knee and only paid £1 each return. Same goes in Vegas, the deuce is great value at a couple of dollars for a 24-hour ticket, whereas looking at a taxi or even a limo you’re talking a minimum of $25.
7. If you stay less centrally and in less tourist-dense hotels you’ll expect to pay much less. In April (out of season) my Mum and I booked a cheap deal to Alanya, Turkey we ended up paying £240 each for flights, transfers, hotel and all inclusive. I think we spent £50 the whole time we were there - as we stayed somewhere off the beaten track and out of season the price was too good to not go. Had we stayed in Marmaris at exactly the same time in a lower rated hotel we’d have been looking at around £400+ each. The hotel had absolutely everything and lots of facilities and was a 10-minute drive from the main town, a 2-hour drive from the airport. The scenery was gorgeous and there weren't tourists everywhere. It was perfect.
8. If you’re not fussy about where you’re heading to use Skyscanner’s ‘everywhere’ button to see where the cheapest flights from your local airport are too. There’s a lot of other sites now that offer this option to show only the starting destination. This allows you to weigh up the prices and where you can go from your starting destination.
9. Hotel haggling. Hotel prices are blurry, I watched a TV programme once where they phoned 30 hotels and haggled with them over their online price, out of the 30, 28 of them either offered a bigger discount than the one stated on the website or they offered them an upgrade for the same price. We have a saying in Newcastle “shy bairns get nowt” if you’re sat there thinking what’s this foreign language that I’ve just read simply ‘shy kids get nothing’ - what’s the worst they can do say no?
10. If you’re booking tours and excursions book through the concierge, fewer people are involved in the commission so it’s much more reasonable - we’ve done this a couple of times when heading to the Grand Canyon, when we’ve seen the prices of the street sellers compared to what we’ve paid it’s an astronomical saving.
Be smart, be savvy, keep saving and check out FSCS Money Means!