I’ve signed up to lots of cruise deal newsletters for departures in the UK, and to be honest, most are really spammy.
I’ve also signed up to the big cruise websites, and they don’t seem to share their great deals with their database. The only I’ve not unsubscribed to is Cruise Sheet.
They send regular emails about amazing deals for cruises across the world.
I love it that they use a day rate (all inclusive) with deals that often make it cheaper to cruise than stay at home!
It's worth signing up to you if you like the idea of cruising, like a bargain and you are flexible with your dates and destinations.
When comparing costs make sure you check out the drinks packages and menus. You're usually not allowed to take your own supply of alcohol, so if you're a drinker allow for the extra costs.
Also watch out for the daily tip that is a requirement. Don't be a Scrooge and opt out —the staff rely on these tips. Just factor them into your overall expense.
A word of warning: if you are planning on working remotely internet connection is notoriously expensive on cruise ships. Which may be perfect if you’re writing a book (or lots of blogs) and don’t want the distraction of the internet. Not so fab is you do everything online.
hire cars smartly
Hiring a car in Europe when travelling with a group of people or kids often makes a lot of sense. You can avoid public transport and have the freedom to go where ever you like. Booking a car however does require a bit of research and planning to optimise your spend.
BOOK FOR LESS
The main car hire companies are Europcar, Avis, Budget and Sixt. If you don't want to spend the time visiting each directly, then use the aggregate site Auto Europe.
If you are going with one of the major hire companies, it might be worth seeing if booking on the website where the care hire company is based is cheaper. For instance Europcar is based in France - so try Europcar.fr ; Sixt is based in Germany and Avis is based in the UK.
Try to pick up and drop off at the same location. You will usually pay more to return the car to a secondary location.
If you can avoid hiring from an airport or train station you can usually save money. However hiring from the place you arrive at is usually the most convenient, and depending on the cost to get yourself to town, may work out cheaper overall.
1. Do you already have insurance?
Check with your credit card company to see if you already have car hire insurance.
Check if your travel insurance will cover you for car hire insurance.
2. Remove excess insurance
Many travellers have fallen victim to the 'when you arrive insurance upsell'.
Usually car hire companies require you to take out their insurance, which you do at the time of booking. Then when you turn up to hire the car, you are sometimes upsold the chance to remove the excess in the event of theft or an accident. Sometimes the excesses can be terrifyingly high--even into the £1000s, so many travellers panic and accept the removal of the excess on the spot. The charges for doing so are often ridiculously high--up to £25 per day.
To avoid this dilemma, take out an annual excess insurance policy before you leave home. It’s usually only about £40 for the year. If you do have a claim, this insurance should cover you for any excess. It's peace of mind.
As with all insurance make sure you carefully read the T&Cs.
3. Prevent scam claims
Before taking your vehicle check it carefully for any damage—even little scratches. Take time-stamped photos and ensure they are documented by the car hire company before you take possession.
TAKE YOUR OWN EXTRAS
We also take our own sat nav (or use an iphone), and when our child was little, our own car seat. These can really add up if hiring them on a per day basis.
I'm sure there are loads more car hire tips. Let me know if you've got some in the comments below.
get cheaper travel with cashback sites
If you're not already familiar with cashback sites it's worth giving them a go.
You simply sign-up for free and search for the goods or service you want to buy (or the website you want to buy from).
When you click on the merchant's website link (eg. Expedia) the cashback site tracks your visit, and if you complete a sale according to their rules you will, in time, receive some cash back as a percentage of your purchase.
I have accounts with Quidco
(sign up with this link for a £10 bonus)
(sign up with this link for a £7.50 bonus).
Just before I book a hotel room (or any online purchase) I do a quick search on each to find out the best cashback. Last month there was a deal for Travelodge in Wales–10% off. I was about to book anyway, but by clicking on my cashback account first, then booking, I got £6 back on our £60 room. Not bad for less than a minute’s work on my phone.
I find the hotel chains offer the best cashback, but if they don’t have one (or it’s a low percentage) sometimes the larger booking services such as Expedia and e-bookers will give you a few pounds back.
Small returns for little effort–that do add up over time.
Next post on Travel Hacking will look at Car Hire Tips.
I love travelling.
I’m a nomad at heart.
But travelling can get quite expensive.
Like all our spending I like to be mindful and optimise every penny to get the best holiday experience for the lowest cost.
I don’t mind paying £130 a night for a room, but if I can get the same room for £115 with a quick web search, and then get £13 back through cashback, then heck, why not? That’s £23 (or £27.6++ pre-tax) I’d rather spend on BBQ sardines and a carafe of wine. On top of that if I can earn some points towards to the flights, for no extra cost!
Some travel hacks I’ve used with success are: