Travel Savings: Beginner’s Guide to Boost Your Travel Fund

Travel Savings: Beginner’s Guide to Boost Your Travel Fund

Travel has always been one of our favourite ways to not only explore the world but as a way to detox from our busy lifestyles. While travel is considered a privilege it doesn’t mean you have to be rich to enjoy the benefits a holiday destination can afford you.

We have been fortunate to explore various parts of the world while working full-time. But this wasn’t without forward planning to dip into our travel savings which helped to fund our trips.

Saving doesn’t always come naturally for many of us and it can be struggle to get the cash together for a big trip if you’re not used to being careful with your money. While we don’t suggest you have to be overly frugal we have listed our best tips and tricks to get closer to your travel savings goal!

So get out your pen and pad and jot down our savings hacks which will get you closer to your holiday destination and on the next flight out.

Set up a separate bank account

First thing first! Set yourself up a savings account that is separate from all of your other accounts. It is easy to set up an account online with pretty much any and every bank provider. This way your travel fund is totally separate from your regular money and you’ll be less inclined to dip into your travel pot. Many banks will give you rewards for opening a new account, which can include a monthly bonus or you could receive a gadget for showing loyalty. In addition, we would recommend an account which limits the number of withdrawals you can make throughout the year so you’re not tempted to touch your savings.

Set up automatic transfers

To build up your travel savings faster it would be a good idea to set up a standard order into your new account. Put a set amount from your monthly pay cheque into your new savings account. The easiest way to do this is to have cash automatically transferred from your ‘regular’ checking account each payday. For example, you could set up a £50 standard order (depending on your budget) to set aside for your travel goals. It is also a good idea to boost your savings fund with any extra cash you have leftover – whether daily, weekly or monthly – rather than buy that latte put that extra £5 into your travel account.

Get a money jar

Why not go old school and put your loose change into a money jar. We love doing this. It’s always a surprise to see how much you have accumulated over a few months. We both used to put £5 aside and saved over £150 between us in just a couple of months. Setting up a savings jar is an easy way to put money aside.

Use budgeting apps

A great way to keep your expenses low and see how much extra money you have available to boost your savings is to download a budget app. They allow you to keep track of your spending habits which can you give a clue of where to cut back on your spending. Apps like Mint are perfect to use for this. Mint allows you to keep track of and categorise your expenses, as well as set maximum spending limits for yourself.

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Cancel your Direct Debits

Remember that gym membership you started in January but have yet to step inside – cancel it. Or that magazine subscription you probably don’t need, cancel that too.

Now, take a closer a look at areas that you can negotiate a better deal and pay a lower rate. For instance, do you pay a monthly fee for your bank account? Think about switching to another provider and earning a cash bonus of up to £100. Or you can check what upgrades your current provider offers and decide whether you actually need it. For example, if they offer mobile and travel insurance this can be a great asset for when you’re ready to travel. If you’re paying too much shop around and compare prices on comparison websites.

What about your Netflix account? Check out how much you’re paying each month and if you’re paying for premium consider going back to the basic plan which costs about £5.99 per month.

Don’t Give Up

While it may seem like a challenge it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Travel is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer and we should all get a chance to get a discover the world. Whether you’re craving new experiences or challenges by following these easy steps you’ll be on your next flight in no time!

Shelley & Michelle xx

ULTIMATE GETAWAY GUIDE FOR YOUR STAY IN AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam, The Netherlands capital and one of the world’s most multicultural cities. Home to painter Van Gogh and Anne Frank. Known for its historic canals, museums, coffee shops, narrow houses, cyclists, bike paths and not forgetting the red-light district. We have to say one of our favourite long weekends away was spent in this city. There is so much history in Amsterdam with the most stunning buildings.

Where to stay

We stayed at the Corendon Vitality Hotel which has easy transport links and is very handy when exploring Amsterdam. The rooms are small, cosy and chic, the hotel restaurant is based on the ground floor and serves a breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner with the chefs cooking in your eye view. Our favourite part of the Corendon is the spa. We enjoyed a 60-minute hot stone massage side by side which was so relaxing! We then took advantage of the sauna and steam room after our massage. The spa also has a chill out area that comes with cushioned lounge beds where you can enjoy a quick nap. To add the extra zen there’s mood lighting that creates a soothing tranquility effect. We honestly didn’t want to leave!

Things to do

Canal Cruise: We boarded the boat in the heart of the city and chose the cruise as it’s a nice way to see Amsterdam from the water. You are given disposable earphones when seated where you then sit back and listen to a recorded tour guide. Amsterdam is so picturesque the canals and bridges are so beautiful. We chose a great day for the cruise, the sun was shining which made the cruise that extra special. The cruise is a great way to learn about Amsterdam’s history. Some of the houses built alongside the canal were built during the Dutch Golden Age and there are different stop off points. We exited the boat outside Anne Frank’s house.

Anne Frank House: Located on the Prinsengracht canal in central Amsterdam stands the house of Anne Frank along with her family and four people who hid from the Nazi persecution during World War II. We booked tickets to visit Anne Frank’s House before we left London and highly recommend booking this way to prevent queuing for ages and to avoid disappointment. Anne Frank’s House should definitely be on your to do list. The museum is full of pictures of Anne, her family and the people who lived with them. You see quotations from Anne’s diary, family photographs and film images. It’s as if you’re stepping into her mind, everything she wrote, her thought’s and how she felt at that time was quoted in the museum. You will also see original objects belonging to those in hiding. It truly was a memorable part of our trip.

Ice Bar: We wanted to experience something a little different and one evening while walking along the streets of Amsterdam we came across Amsterdam’s Ice Bar. On arrival you are given three tokens where you can treat yourself to free drinks. There are two bars, the first bar called ‘the lounge’ where you sit and enjoy some music (in the warmth) whilst sipping on a cocktail. The Ice bar is located at the back of the lounge. Before entering the -10 degree bar you are given a thermal coat and gloves. It was all fun and games before we entered lol! The Ice bar is colourfully lit with an amazing ice sculptured bar made up of 60 tons of natural ice. Even the walls were made out of ice. When ordering your drink at the bar the glasses you drink out of are also made up of ice. Even down to the seats!

Dining Experience

Supperclub: If you want a night out combined with good cuisine then look no further than Supperclub. When you arrive at the low-key venue be prepared to enter a night filled with magical festivities. It’s more than a restaurant but a place that will blow your mind from beginning until the end. On arrival guests have the option to dine at a table or can lounge on a crisp white bed and we opted for the latter. Kicking off your shoes you can lay back and await your seven-course meal before the entertainment begins. Another twist to the evening was all the dishes were a surprise, so you didn’t actually know what was on the menu. You have no idea what you are about to eat until you are served your meal. Be sure to wear your favourite socks when sat on the beds as you will be asked to remove your shoes. When booking the experience they do ask for your dietary requirements and allergies beforehand and will make a note on your reservation. The entertainment was stellar – from acrobats, to ballerinas and people in drag singing and dancing. To wrap up the evening there is an in-house DJ who keeps the night going well into the early hours.

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Shelley & Michelle xx

The Ultimate Guide for a Las Vegas Girls Trip

A few days spent in the city of Las Vegas (pre-lockdown) was breathtaking. The city honestly felt like a different world! From bright lights, to fine dining, night life and great entertainment. We guarantee that there is never a dull moment when spent in Sin City.

So if you’re looking for some adventure where no two days are the same… look no further than Vegas baby!

Some people may believe that Las Vegas is just partying and gambling but this little Nevada city has so much more to offer.

Here’s our top places to visit for the ultimate girls trip to Las Vegas.

Welcome to Vegas!

You can’t start your trip without checking out the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. It’s the perfect selfie opportunity but be prepared to be met with crowds so get there early to get the best shot.

The sign is at the start of the 4.2 mile strip so be sure to get a drink, preferably a tequila cocktail and start exploring.

There is so much to see and do on the Las Vegas strip. We do recommend that you wear your comfy shoes before you begin sightseeing as it’s one heck of a trek! From gambling hotels to a variety of different restaurants and shops, the strip is lined with something different for everyone. Vegas is a great place to watch your favourite artists in concert – Caesars Palace and the MGM Grand are Vegas’ concert hotspots. You may even fancy seeing a circus act and we also recommend seeing the Bellagio fountains.

Where to stay

Las Vegas strip is known for providing a host of unique hotels, from Wynn, Excalibur Hotel and Casino and many more. We stayed at the Luxor Hotel and Casino which is shaped as an Egyptian pyramid. The hotel is named for the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) in Egypt. It felt so surreal walking around the hotel, which is buzzing 24/7. If gambling’s your thing the Luxor has a 120,000-square-foot casino with over 2,000 slot machines and 87 table games. Luxor LasVegas includes bars, clubs, spas and restaurants. We had so much fun lounging at the outside pool which has four swimming pools and whirlpools and also has one of the largest pools in Las Vegas. The Luxor is so easy to get around and is connected to the Mandalay Bay hotel to the south and the Excalibur hotel to the north. All three hotels are connected by free express and local trams as well as walkways to get around.

Dining Experience

The two of us love to eat out at restaurants and are keen dining-enthusiasts. We were only in Vegas for three days so we didn’t get to experience all the restaurants, but have picked out a couple of our favourites.

TAO: We are massive fans of TAO and was lucky enough to experience dining at TAO in Uptown New York City. TAO Las Vegas is just as good and is known for its unique ”fine dining” experience. If you enjoy Pan-Asian food then TAO is the restaurant for you. Located inside The Venetian hotel, Tao also has its own nightclub next door if you fancy it.

Hakkasan: This restaurant is an all time favourite of ours. The whole experience from when you enter Hakkasan is five-star, the whole vibe is just perfect. The lighting is dim which creates a peaceful atmosphere and when the smell of good food hits you, you know you are in for a great time. The different courses were so mouth-watering whilst washed down with great cocktails. We recommend Jasmine tea after your meal which is so refreshing and really helps the digestive system.

Things to do:

Bus Tour: There isn’t anything better than to spend the day sightseeing in Las Vegas. We did just that on the hop-on hop-off bus tour. We traveled through Downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip, enjoying views from the upper deck of the open-top bus. We saw the iconic ‘A Little White Chapel’ that is famously known to be the site of many quick celebrity weddings. We saw the Harley Davidson Parking Lot, Circus Circus Hotel and decided to jump off at the Mob Museum.

The Mob Museum: We love museums and thought why not visit The Mob Museum when in Vegas. The museum is a history museum located in Downtown Las Vegas and is dedicated to featuring the artifacts, stories and history of organised crime in the United States.

The Chandelier Bar: This beautiful three-floor bar is surrounded by shimmering strands of around two million beaded crystals. We sat on the top floor taking in the scenery whilst enjoying a cocktail or two. The bar is located in the centre of The Cosmopolitan Hotel. If you are looking for a sophisticated evening decorated by shimmering lights then The Chandelier Bar should be on the top of your list.

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Shelley & Michelle xx

NEW YORK CITY

New York is a city you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. We decided to spend a long weekend in style and thought what better way to do so than in the city that never sleeps!

NYC has one of the highest rates of any tourist attraction in the world, with around 60 million people visiting each year. There are around 800 different languages spoken in New York making it the most diverse city in the world.

We had the best time and have made so many memories, there was only one issue though and that was the weather. It was absolutely freezing! The coldest we’ve ever felt in our lives. We highly recommend layering up if travelling during the winter months, we’re talking thermals lol! 

We decided to spend a long weekend in NYC but we will definitely stay longer next time. There was so much to do and see with such little time, so if you’re travelling to New York for the first time we suggest writing up an itinerary before you travel with the places you want to see and eat. It really does help organize your day ahead.

This is the second trip we arranged through Travel Counsellors (here) who specialise in luxury travel and really look after you, making sure you have a trip to remember. We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel (here) situated in the best part of town! The hotel is located at Madison Avenue in the centre of Midtown Manhattan which is great as it is a short walk from Times Square and very close to Grand Central station. We were taken aback by the decor of the hotel which is very grand and looks more old school glamour which is so nice to see as hotels are a lot more modern nowadays. We fell in love with the chandeliers but The Roosevelt’s is on another level.

Times Square

It is actually a crime to visit New York and not see Times Square (just joking). During Times Square’s busiest time around 460,000 people walk through the iconic streets. Known for the massive billboards, sparkly advertisements and not forgetting the yellow taxis which constantly drive through the busy New York traffic. The home to many great Broadway shows Times Square has so much to offer. From loads of clothes shops, the M&M store, Mac make up, sweets and milkshake shops, Disney stores and loads of bars and restaurants, there is definitely something for everyone. 

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is the most beautiful and picturesque stations we have ever visited. Located at Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central opened in 1913 and is one of the busiest stations in the world. We loved the turquoise decor to the ceiling.  

It was great to experience travelling on the subway as we’ve seen the Subway featured in so many films and music videos. Shout out to Jlo ‘On The 6’ album lol.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is the 28th tallest building in the world, standing at 1,454 metres tall.

We took a lift to the top of the building and as it was so cold, being on top of a tall building…the wind was ridiculous! It was a struggle trying to take pictures battling the wind and cold, but being up there made up for it. The views are just breathtaking, we could see the whole of NYC!

NYC Sightseeing Cruise

A fantastic way to explore New York is by taking a boat trip. We took a ferry cruise from Midtown Manhattan on the Hudson River and it travels to the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. We were lucky that it was a very sunny day, so although we had to brave the cold it was a really lovely way to see New York on water.

TAO

If you fancy a spot of fine dining, we highly recommend TAO restaurant. The Pan-Asian dim lit restaurant was full of the most delicious food and cocktails. We dined at the TAO Uptown which has a ‘Sex and the City’ vibe to it. It is known not only for its amazing food and cocktails but the giant Buddha centerpiece in the middle of the restaurant. Once you have finished your meal, why not head downstairs to the main bar area, for some more cocktails and good music that has a club like ambiance.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

If you want to experience a unique dining experience, you have to visit Ellen’s Stardust Diner. You can enjoy your food with singing waiters/waitresses. It is not that cheesy stuff either, the staff are true performers that will blow you away. It is a family friendly restaurant and is worth a visit if you are ever in NYC. Also, the cocktails are so good!

Sylvia’s

We could not go to to New York and not visit the ‘Queen of Soul Food’ Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem. It is truly Southern home made comfort food and is a place you have to experience. The restaurant has a home like feel and the walls are filled with the likes of Barack Obama, Whoopi Goldberg and Nelson Mandela who are few of the famous faces who have eaten at this famous restaurant. From warm biscuit, chicken wings, ribs, macaroni and cheese to peach cobbler, there is something to suit your taste buds. Sylvia’s is a place not to miss!

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Shelley & Michelle xx