Ibiza Pool

What are your priorities?

Following up on the last post I feel that it is important to talk about priorities when it comes to money.

Not all of us have the same priorities. And that is OK.

In reality most of us cannot have it all. That is why we need to get our priorities right.

Depending on what makes you happy you might need to compromise on the non essentials. These will be different for everyone. Only you know what are the things you feel OK to go without.

You might want a really nice flat and being a home owner is important to you. This might mean you won’t be able to afford to go on holiday often or at all.

If you love your social life and spending time and money at the pub makes you happy you might not be able to afford a car.

I would like to have a bigger house, a car and faster internet but I am OK without it if it means I am able to travel more.

Have a clear idea of what your priorities are, don’t be afraid to compromise on non essentials and live your life the way that makes you happy.
Ibiza En Bossa Minnie

How can I travel so much?

If you’ve been reading from the start you might be questioning how can I keep up with all the travelling, how I can afford it and how do I get so much time off.

I do get those questions in person quite often whenever I mention I am going somewhere. And honestly I don’t think I have ever answered those properly.

It is understandable that it might sound odd to most of you that I am able to go away so many times in a year. It is July now and I have already been away 4 times!

The maths: 25 days of holiday every year = 5 weeks. On top of that I also try to get a few more days using bank holidays and weekends.

I don’t take days off to stay in London. Unless I need it to sort something out or go to the doctor (I try to do this before or after work whenever possible). And I get back to work the day after I land in London. Last time I got home after 3am and still made it to work that morning.

Now, lets talk money. I know not many people open up about this. It is a bit of a taboo.

Usually I don’t go on crazy expensive holidays but I do splurge on special occasions. And sometimes destinations just turn out to be more expensive than expected, like Switzerland.

Our salaries are a little below the average in the UK and if we had a “normal” lifestyle we would probably not be able to afford to go away so often.

Instead of renting a 1 bedroom house in a trendy area we rent a studio flat in zone 3/4 of London. We don’t own a car or go out for drinks every week. We don’t watch TV (saving on TV license here) and have a cheap broadband service. Also this year was the first time we got a contract phone, up to that point we were spending only about £20 a month each on our phones.

We have also lived in a flat share for about 5 years. It was tough at times but it allowed us to save more money.

Hopefully this post gave you an idea on how we are able to do all the travelling while living in London. If you have any questions please ask away in the comments.

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Cala Mesquida Menorca

Me Gusta Menorca

Love. That is what I feel for this little Spanish island. To show my love for Menorca I have visited four times already. And I plan to visit again.

It is just over 2 hours away flying from London so it makes for a great sunny destination quick break.

We have discovered the most amazing beaches by land and by sea in this hidden gem of the mediterranean sea. Some of those are very unspoilt and not too crowded if you visit at the right time of the year.

We have stayed in a couple of different places in the island and rented a car 3 out of the 4 times we visited. It is relatively cheap to get a car from the airport (do it online before you go). We visited most of the island already and have our favourite spots. I will share those with you. But please keep it between us. We wouldn’t want to spoil them by attracting the crowds there.

sea view son parcWe usually stay at Son Parc. At the Beach Club Apartments. Now these are very basic and outdated apartments, nothing fancy. But the views (if you get sea view) are the best! Also it is just a short walk down the stairs to the white sand beach of Arenal de Son Saura. It is hard to beat this location so we keep going back.

Not far from it you have Fornells and our new favourite restaurant in Menorca, La Guapa. The food is delicious and the service is the best.

Now, the beaches. And I am only going to mention a few of our favourites.

The North of the island is not the best for beach time apart from Arenal de Son Saura, a long stretch of white sand with clear water and the most beautiful blue shades. And also the small and hard to reach Cala Pudent.

On the East side we love Cala Mesquida. Not easy to get parking close by but it is worth the walk. You can dive in straight away as the sea level deeps abruptly. Historically this is the beach where French troops disembarked with the aim of taking over the island. Thankfully they didn’t succeed. Not far at all you have Cap Roig restaurant with the freshest sea food.

Cala Sa Mesquida Menorca

On the West side I loved Cala en Brut. A totally different scenario here with rocky platforms perfect for diving. And as per usual super clear blue water.

cala en brut menorca girls jumping

The South is a beach paradise. We enjoyed many sunsets at Son Xoriguer. Unfortunately it can get quite crowded and it is just a small patch of sand. Binibeca beach is worth a visit as it is very picturesque but again it can get crowded so not the best to relax. Now for the stars of Menorca you must visit Cala Macarella and Cala Turqueta, not the easiest to get to but so worth the walk from the car park.

beautiful beach menorca

If you can, look into any boat tours as they usually take you to beaches that are not accessible by land. Also it is a fun day out.

Just go, explore Menorca and fall in love.

us at Son Xoriguer Menorca
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one of my favourite spots apples beach

Portugal. Is it really a holiday?

I absolutely love Portugal. But it is RARELY a real holiday when I go there. You might ask, why?

Because I grew up there and all my family and some friends still live there. This means everyone expects me to arrange some kind of meetup, family will be calling and I will be expected to spend a decent amount of time around the table catching up on lost time. As a result there won’t be much free time left to just enjoy my boyfriend’s company and to relax.

Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with family and friends back in Portugal. But with only 25 days of holiday a year I need to make the most out of those to rest and to explore new places too. Finding a balance is hard sometimes. We end up not enjoying as much of Portugal as we would like to due to all the social events.

Sometimes we plan trips away from Lisbon to explore new places, to enjoy Portugal and to have some alone time. But we rarely get to be tourists in Lisbon.

For anyone considering Portugal for a holiday break I 100% recommend it. And I will try to write more about my Country and bring you some tips on cool places to visit.

Quick tip for now:
I would avoid package holidays in those spots everyone at your work place has already visited. Unless you like to feel “at home” while away. Then go ahead and enjoy the sunshine at “the pub” by the beach in Algarve. But please try the sardines on the slice of bread with a salad (no fries).

Now Enjoy the below old videos of some of our good times in Portugal.

If you’re curious about any of the places in the videos just ask away in the comments. And if you like these videos go ahead and check out our YouTube channels here and here and subscribe for more.

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Planning the “perfect” holiday – Final Steps

These I would usually leave for a later date as I’d probably feel pretty drained after sorting out flights and accommodation.

Car RentalRenting a car. If that is what we decided is best for the specific holiday.

In the last few years we have only rented with Sixt. Even though we had a really bad experience with them we kept using them as their prices are quite good and the service is usually OK too.

Very important when renting a car: Take pictures of the entire car when collecting it and also when you return it.

If you are renting with full insurance it can get quite expensive so we get a third-party insurance. Please note that you will need to pay the excess in full and then claim it back so you cannot do this if you are unable to cover that amount.

Travel insurance. We get this annually as it is cheaper taking in consideration how often we go on holiday. But you can get it just for the period you are going to be away for.

Make sure this covers you for any activities/sports you are doing while away and if it covers the Country you are going to.

Transfers. Getting to and from the airport. Both at home and at your final destination.

Check your preferred transport and timetables to check if you will have it at the required time. Always have a plan B. If there are delays you might need to get a Uber or any other transport available at the time.

If you are getting a cab/Uber during the night please watch the driver carefully throughout the journey as they might be tired and falling asleep. Unfortunately this has happened to us more than once in the UK.

At your final destination (if you are not renting a car) check for public transport information online and if this is non-existent check transfer services available locally. There are websites that cover a few countries and have good transfer services.

I try to book as much of these online as possible so I don’t waste time on the day.

Travel Money.

You are likely to travel to countries where the currency is not the British Pound so you will need to figure out how you are going to pay for things there. Most times we get some cash before we travel and hope that will be enough. Usually it is as we pay for most things online. Always check your bank charges for cash withdrawals (I avoid these as they are sometimes very costly) and for using your card abroad. You don’t want to pay unnecessary fees.

Any other transport or events at the destination.

I have booked boat trips and live music events in advance. If you want to do something different it is cool to check what is on where you are going and get the tickets before you get there.

I hope I have not forgotten anything important that you need to sort out before you go! If I did please let me know in the comments.

Final note: I didn’t cover visas as I have almost zero experience on those.

Planning the “perfect” holiday – Flights and Accommodation

So now that I know the destination and have chosen my dates. It is time to start spending money.

Important note: Try to get your holidays approved before booking anything you cannot cancel for free.

First of all I book the flights. At this point I have a rough idea of what flights are available as I used that information to pick the dates.

My airline of choice is Easyjet as I know their rules and never had any major issues with them. Also their hand luggage allowance is quite decent with no weight limit.

My preferred airport is Luton as it is not that far from home and by train is only about £13 each way. Gatwick is not too bad to get to either and even though it is a longer journey it is cheaper to get to than Luton as you can use an Oyster card.

Nowadays I use Skyscanner a lot to check prices from different airlines and book the cheapest as long as they don’t have any ridiculous hand luggage rules. It is important to always do your research before booking with an airline you are not familiar with in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. I also avoid booking through third-party websites as I prefer to book directly with the airline even if it is a bit more expensive. Again to avoid any nasty surprises.

All that said I choose the flights that suit me and pay for them. Then I take a deep breath and get ready for the next step.

Accommodation. This step usually takes many hours and can be quite stressful. Too many decisions to make and a lot of information to take into consideration.

I check the main places I want to visit wherever we are going. I draw the route in my head (with the help of Google maps). Check driving times roughly from point A to point B and get an idea of how long I need in each place to see everything.

If we are renting a car I filter by places with parking. Other filters I use are the price and the customer rating (usually set this to higher than 7 or 8).

Reading reviews can be tiring but it is a must! I do it all the time. Please try not to be put off by a slightly lower score if the reason for that is mainly because of something that you don’t really care about. In Menorca my favourite place has bad reviews because of ants but they don’t bother me so I still booked it the first time and two times after that.

If there is a chance you have to cancel the holidays or you are not sure about a certain place you can try to book places with free cancellation.

I have done it before and was happy I could just cancel it without paying a penny.

Always read the small print when booking to check if you are paying online straight away or if you pay when you get there. This is usually pretty easy to figure out on Booking.com so I tend to mostly book with them.

When booking accommodation I open a million tabs, go through the pictures first and close the ones I don’t like straight away. I check the location on the ones left open to close any that are no good. And finally I start reading reviews.

After all that hopefully I will make a decision and go ahead with booking the place.

Often I stay in different places throughout the same holiday so I repeat this process for the different locations.

airbnb posh danish house

If there isn’t anything I fancy on Booking.com I tend to check Airbnb.

On Airbnb I always pay attention to check in times and rules as those can be tricky as you don’t usually have a reception desk. It is likely you will have to communicate with your host in advance and sometimes on the day to arrange to pick up the keys and the times might not be very flexible.

I hope all this was useful and you got an idea on how to book flights and accommodation to plan your own “perfect” holiday.

Planning the “perfect” holiday – Where do I Start?

First of all, it is hard work! And that is why travel agencies still exist.

I have been planning holidays since I moved to London. I enjoy doing it but it can be tiring and sometimes stressful. I even had nightmares about it once but I’ll leave that for another post.

Now, how do I do it?

Usually I travel in mid or low season. Which for Europe is just a matter of avoiding July, August and holidays like Christmas or Easter (I have travelled during Easter before and if you book well in advance you might get away without spending a fortune). Also a good idea to avoid the school holidays like half term (I never know when this is).

This means I am avoiding the big Summer crowds but still enjoying a relatively lively environment and decent weather.

Also I try to book in advance to allow me time to plan properly and to get the best deals. Ideally 2 to 3 months.

A big part of it is choosing the destination.

I tend to do 2 types of holidays. The beach holiday and the city holiday and sometimes I mix the two.

Skyscanner is my go to website to check for flight prices (their mobile app is the best). I check all the destinations sorted by price for the period I am planning (I try to be flexible with the dates and book my time off from work based on flight prices).

Once I bump into something I fancy I go onto Booking.com to check if staying there is affordable.

If all is looking good I go on to check car rental prices. Only if I think that is the best option for that destination.

So the 3 main things I consider on my first approach in terms of my budget are, flights, accommodation and car rental/transfers. I also check the weather for the period I am booking.

Sometimes I am guilty of impulsive booking. But never regretted stretching the budget that little bit extra for special occasions.

 

 

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Thank you 🙂