Thursday, 19 October 2017

Take A Holiday Break Abroad Without Breaking The Bank

We all deserve a break from the daily grind and everyday setting of our neighbourhood. Many people planning a holiday on the cheap with plan a ‘staycation’ – which involves not leaving the country. Whilst this can still serve as a beautiful getaway, you shouldn’t feel that you’re unable to venture abroad on a budget. There are plenty of ways to travel overseas on the cheap. Here are just a few ways to spend little on a holiday abroad.

Check your passport

First thing’s first, check that your passport isn’t close to expiry. Some airlines won’t let you travel with less than six months left on a passport. A passport can be expensive to renew and can take a few weeks to process, so plan to do this first. Whilst you can speed up the process, this usually involves paying extra and travelling to a passport office - not ideal for those on a budget.  

Time your holiday right

Timing is everything when booking a holiday. If you’re taking away kids who are in school, you may be limited by school holidays. These are sadly the most expensive times to vacate – with the demand so high, many hotels and flight companies don’t feel the need to slash prices. The period leading up to Christmas is also expensive, with many people flying home to see their families.

All in all, your cheapest times to travel are February to May and September to November. For a summer holiday, May and September are excellent options as the weather is generally still hot and you don’t have the high costs or crowds. These may not be options for those with kids in school however.

You should also consider foreign holidays and festivals when planning a holiday abroad as these can affect prices. For example, travelling to a Caribbean island when carnival is on or travelling to China during Chinese New Year is bound to be more expensive.
Use comparison sites

Comparison sites are great for finding the best deals. Sites like Skyscanner compare all the cheapest flights for your select dates. You can also use travel brokers. Your high street travel agent is likely to be a little more than an online company, but some may prefer the clarity of dealing with staff face-to-face. Many online holiday companies will advertise jaw-droppingly low deals, but these may only be for a specific day and time – something you’ll only discover upon ringing up. Find as many quotes as you can and don’t let holiday brokers rush you into a deal.

Plan far ahead or book last minute?

Some people claim that booking months ahead is cheaper. Others claim that booking last minute is the best way to go. Who is right? Well, in some respects, both are equally good strategies.

By booking far ahead, you can often get cheaper deals on hotels and flights. Even extras like airport parking can be cheaper to book ahead. On top of this, you can pay in smaller instalments over a longer period of time. You’ve also got more options booking ahead as less places are filled up. That said, there may be some obstacles when booking ahead (you can’t book flights more than a year ahead).

That said, last minute deals can also be some of the cheapest. Few people are willing to pack their bags and go the next week – a sly option is to book the time off work months before, save up and let it be a mystery holiday until the week before when you finally book it. There are even some sites such as that won’t tell you where you’re going until you reach the airport (a daring option, although you may struggle knowing what to pack).

Overall, to up your chances of a cheap holiday, either book far ahead or last minute. Booking three to four months before like everyone else could result in you getting the worst deals.


Try alternative tourist destinations

If you’re not picky about where in the world you go, why not try somewhere that isn’t the typical tourist destination.

When it comes to Europe for instance, many people may plan a city break to Rome or Paris or a Mediterranean beach holiday to Greece or the Algarve. You could save costs by trying somewhere a little out of the ordinary. The likes of Turkey, Bulgaria and Croatia are steadily growing in popularity as tourist destinations – you may be able to get the same luxury of other Mediterranean beach resorts for a fraction of the price. A city trip to Budapest or Prague meanwhile could be far cheaper than the usually cities.

Such alternative destinations exist around the world. In South East Asia, Vietnam and Cambodia can often work out much cheaper than Thailand and Bali in Indonesia, whilst offering a similar climate and culture. Meanwhile, instead of opting for Caribbean islands, why not try Central American countries like Costa Rica and Honduras for an equal amount of sun and sea?

Break up long-haul flights

Planning on travelling somewhere very far away? Breaking up your flight instead of travelling direct can often bring down costs dramatically. Most people don’t like the idea of having to take multiple flights to get to their destination and would rather cut the travel time down. However, you don’t have to necessarily hang around in an airport. You could add to your holiday by adding a new destination en route and staying there overnight. A flight from New York to London with a stopover in Iceland and a hotel room will still work out cheaper in most cases than a direct flight.

Go all-inclusive

All-inclusive holidays are brilliant as they cut out the hassle of having to plan every component individually, whilst bringing down overall costs. All-inclusive hotels include the hotel price, the flight, transfers and – most importantly – free food and drinks. Being able to eat three meals a day for free can bring down costs significantly, preventing you having to eat out for meals at restaurants or buy food for self-catering purposes. Free drinks meanwhile means less alcohol spending (you may have a limited selection of drinks, but this is usually enough to suffice most holidaymakers). You can still opt to eat and drink out occasionally, but you’ll always have the option of free food and drink if your holiday spending money starts to get low.

Be wary of flight extras

Some flight companies – especially budget airlines – will try to sell you all kinds of extras. This is where these flight companies make their money. They may charge you everything from your luggage to your seats. This can all start to add up and could turn a cheap deal into a not-so-cheap deal.

Can’t afford your next holiday instalment?

When not booking last minute, many holiday companies will offer you the ability to pay in instalments with a deposit up front. Life may result in emergency costs, which could leave you unable to pay for an instalment, but in doing so you could lose your deposit.

In these cases, it’s worth considering a loan. Online you’ll find many lenders such as this New Horizons website, which won’t require a good credit rating. Check that the interest you’ll owe isn’t more than the holiday deposit, otherwise you may as well lose the holiday deposit and pay for a new holiday.

Travel insurance is also handy to have for cancellations. It can also help to pay for any emergency medical costs abroad, cancelled flights and lost baggage.


Research into cheap currency transfers

When travelling abroad, you’ll likely need to transfer some currency to use as spending money. Transfer rates aren’t the same everywhere, with some places charging a larger transfer fee on top. As a general rule, never transfer money at the airport before departure. Sometimes the airport at your destination will have cheaper rates. Otherwise, buying currency online or using a pre-loaded card is a good option. Avoid using your credit card whilst abroad or using cashpoints when possible as you could end up spending more money. Also, whilst some less developed countries may accept all kinds of currencies, you’ll generally always get the best rate paying in that country’s own currency.  

Say no to airport parking

Airport parking is a rip-off. Whilst you can save money booking a parking space months ahead, you may be far better off asking a friend or family member to drop you off and collect you from the airport for a small payment. Alternatively, apps like Just Park can help to find cheap parking nearby – you may then be able to get a bus from a local town and still save money on parking overall.

Keep a strict spending money budget

Whilst you’re out there, enjoy yourself – but don’t go over your spending money budget. Too many wild excursions or too much fine dining could have you returning home in debt. Make the holiday something to look back on fondly and not something you financially regret.

Making Sure the Landlord & Tenant are Happy #RentingRules

My brother has a house with a tenant, so far it seems to be going well and has done for a couple of years now thankfully.  You do kind of need to strike lucky and find someone suitable otherwise it can be a complete nightmare!  If you have ever watched the shows on TV about tenants from hell, wrecking your home and not paying the rent you will know what I mean.  I guess the tenant is fortunate too as my brother is very flexible about certain things, for example she has been allowed to re-decorate, something not all landlords allow.  I think my brother is quite laid back in general as long as the rent is being paid and the house is not falling apart!

We have debated buying a property to let out ourselves, but I do feel nervous doing so when I have seen so many bad tenants.  I think it would be a good investment for the future and if the boys stay in the area then they could have a boost up the property ladder when they needed it.  It’s tough starting out these days with living costs so high.  But I am torn about what to do, because I cannot be in a situation where the tenant doesn’t pay up or move out!!!

Naturally I would do my research before committing to anything, I hate risk and do my best to mitigate it, I wouldn’t take the leap becoming a landlord until I knew exactly what I was doing.  Here are some essentials before handing over the keys!

Writing an Inventory

This means both the tenant and the landlord are clear about what is included in the property and the condition it is in.  It should include information on anything that is worn or damaged, so the new tenant does not get the blame for anything they haven’t done.  This gives the landlord documented proof if they did damage something and they needed to make a claim against the security deposit if the landlord needed to buy a replacement.  Although I do think you need to be open to reasonable wear and tear as a landlord and not make deductions for that.

Having landlord Insurance in place

HomeLet mention on their site the importance of having insurance in place in the event of damage to your property or loss of rental income.  Giving how many people seem to get away without paying for months on end from the television shows I think having insurance in place is a priority!  It seems for the unfortunate landlords on the TV that some have suffered real hardship because they cannot then meet their own mortgage commitments.

Tenants deposits

Fortunately, the law has changed now so landlords must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme as someone who has struggled to get deposits back in the past through no fault of my own I think this is a huge help for vulnerable tenants.  On the flip-side its vital landlords do this correctly otherwise a tenant with rent arrears could use it in their defence, so for your own protection make sure you their deposit in a safe scheme.

If you want to visit the property

You must give your tenants 24 hours’ notice if you want to visit the property and at a reasonable time of day.  If there is an emergency then you can enter the property at other times, but please be clear about all of this in your initial tenancy agreement so everyone knows what to expect.

Once you get your head around the idea, becoming a landlord doesn’t seem so bad.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Introducing the Breastlight

Next year I turn 40 and as I have got older I have become much more aware of my health.  I regularly check my breasts for changes, something I have been doing for a couple of years now.  It’s a good routine to get into, because early detection of a problem means your chances of being treated successfully are considerably higher.  Fortunately, being more aware means that deaths from breast cancers have fallen over the last decade.

If you do find a lump don’t panic as 90% aren’t cancerous but do go and see the doctor for reassurance if they feel sore or your worried and want to put your mind to rest.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, so even though you might feel quite self-conscious checking your breasts, it’s something you soon get used to and is essential to do.  Begin by looking at them in a mirror and checking for swelling, are there any other notable changes in shape, size or colour?  I always run my hands over them lying down, although I do think sometimes I am too delicate and don’t apply enough pressure to the thicker tissue.  If you have any discharge from your nipples again don’t be alarmed this too can be harmless, but if ever in doubt always see the doctor especially if you have a lump and discharge and are over 50.

I am keen to order a Breastlight which was developed by breast care specialists as they look extremely helpful, making self-examining easier and more comprehensive.  

I think its clever that you can now see inside the breast tissue, I feel that any checks I do will be much more thorough because of this.  Who would have thought that you could buy such an ingenious device to use in the comfort of your own home, technological advancements like this are extraordinary.

The video below explains how the tool works and illustrates some of the advantages of investing in a Breastlight.

Apparently women that have been using the Breastlight are now much more confident checking their breasts.  I think the development of this device is a real breakthrough for detecting breast cancer and I am excited to share information about it on my site.  I really like that the product is designed and manufactured in the UK too, us Brits can design revolutionary tools that save lives!  Men can use the product too, breast cancer in men becomes more common when they reach their 60's so its good for everyone to do those checks!

The red light is harmless to your body but lets you see what is going on inside.  With regular use of your Breastlight it will be easier to notice changes.  But still go for any mammogram screenings you are entitled too once you turn 50, these are every three years so the Breastlight is a handy tool to use in-between to identify any shadows or dark spots in your breast tissue.

Priced at £179.95, it might seem expensive but can you really put a price on a tool that could potentially save your life?