7 super tips for saving money for travel

How do I do it? Well here are my top tips for saving money for travel

We’re only just over 2 months in to 2015 and I’m already planning and saving for my next big adventure. So while tightening the purse strings is on my mind at the moment, I thought I would share my top tips for saving money to fund your travels.

1. Set up a separate bank account

Once I have been paid and have allocated my set amount of money for mortgage, bills and such like, I move a portion of my wage to a bank account I can’t access by debit card then just try to forget it’s there. I’m rubbish at remembering numbers anyway, so this usually works for me. Do this each month and it soon adds up!

2. Avoid temptation

I used to be subscribed to all sorts of shopping emails, mainly clothing, and I would find that they would draw me in with something stunning in their email and then once I had decided to purchase said top/skirt/pair of shoes, I would inevitably end up browsing the rest of the site and then buying more than I intended! I have now unsubscribed from all of these emails and have removed that temptation.

3. Saying “no” sometimes is ok

I don’t go out every weekend, infact my clubbing days are well and truly behind me – been there, done that. I know some people like to drink their wages away at the pub, which is all well and good if that’s what you want to do. But if your friends are out partying every Friday and Saturday night, it is ok to sometimes say “not this time, I’m trying to save money”. There will always be another occasion. And if they call you boring, then just think of them while they’re spending yet another Saturday night in the same old pub while you’re off having an adventure of a lifetime.

4. Look at cheaper alternatives

I’m not just talking about boring important stuff like car insurance and gas prices, I mean situations like the other day when a friend of mine happened to drop into conversation how much the shoes she was wearing cost. I realised that for what she paid for her shoes, I could have bought 20 pairs of mine! Sure, hers are bound to be better quality than mine but is it worth it at that price?

5. Cut down on luxuries

I’m not talking about the odd splurge but do you really need a monthly manicure or that £50+ a month Sky package? You’re not going to care about having the perfect nails or what’s on the tv when you’re snorkelling in the Indian Ocean or watching the sun set over Uluru.

6. Brains before belly

Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach – you’ll buy more than intended. Take a packed lunch to work – a much cheaper alternative to buying lunch out every day. Eat fewer takeaways – this may sound obvious but homecooked versions of your favourite pizzas and curries can be much cheaper and healthier alternatives.

7. Have a movie night

If you think about it, trips to the cinema are expensive, especially if you buy all the overpriced snacks the cinemas sell too. As a frequent cinema-goer I know this all too well. So, why not buy your popcorn from the supermarket (at a fraction of the cinema price) and have a dvd night? Dvds are cheaper than a cinema ticket these days anyway and you can always swap and share movies with friends. Perhaps you can keep yourself inspired and motivated by watching movies to ignite your wanderlust!

If all else fails – look at the bigger picture. Forgoing that weekly Costa Coffee for a holiday of a lifetime in Costa Rica will be totally worth it when you get there!

Camping in the New Forest

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If you fancy getting back to basics and “roughing it” in a tent (albeit with an airbed underneath your sleeping bag to ensure a more comfortable night’s sleep!) then you can do no wrong by choosing to pitch up in the New Forest. There’s an abundance of accommodation on offer, including plenty of campsites, and while many of us appreciate our creature comforts, camping is a whole lot cheaper and perfect for the budget conscious traveller!

Camping doesn’t necessarily have to mean peeing into a hole in the ground and showering in rain water either, as most campsites these days have well-kept toilet and shower facilities. Our chosen campsite was an adults-only place called Back of Beyond, ideal for those who want to hear the pleasant singing of the birds in the trees instead of the whining of other people’s children. Despite children not being welcome guests at our chosen campsite, the activities available in the New Forest are suitable for anyone and everyone. From rest and relaxation, to horse riding, cycling, fishing and nature spotting – there’s something for everyone!

It may sound obvious, but nature is all around you here and this is no more apparent than in the free-roaming ponies and cattle grazing the land, something the New Forest is quite famous for. Great care must be taken around these creatures, make sure that you admire them from a safe distance as these animals are wild and could seriously hurt you if feeling threatened. At the same time, caution must be taken when driving around the area as you could equally seriously injure or kill a pony or cow if it is standing in or crossing over the road, as they so frequently do.

Note: It is an offense to feed the ponies and cattle. It is also an offense to fail to report being involved in a traffic collision with said animals.

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One of the most popular activities in the New Forest is cycling. You can bring your own bikes or hire some locally, and off you go! There are many cycling routes to choose from, but if you’re like me and haven’t ridden in a while and don’t feel too safe dodging cars, pedestrians and ponies, then an ideal place to have a bike ride would be at one of the country parks. We stopped off at Moors Valley Country Park where it will cost you around £5.40 per adult to hire a bike for an hour and a half. The downside to Moors Valley Country Park is that you have to pay quite a lot to park your vehicle there but there’s plenty more to do on site such as Go Ape, golf, and even Segway riding, to make the most of your day.

Another place worthy of note would be Lyndhurst, the capital of the New Forest, although we found the traffic getting in and out of the village to be pretty horrendous so instead chose to stop for an ice-cream and spend the morning at the village of Burley where there are pubs, cycle facilities and gift shops, as well as Witchcraft shops celebrating a former Burley resident who was a well-known white witch.

Then, why not pack a picnic and head on over to Bolderwood, where you can savour a pleasant lunch among the tall trees. There are even specially designed picnic tables available which are designed for disposable barbecues to be stood on if you fancied a barbecue lunch – just remember to follow the barbecue code displayed on site. Here you may also enjoy the deer viewing platform from where you can admire the fallow deer that inhabit Bolderwood – some binoculars or a camera with a large zoom lense would be ideal here if you have them.

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So, if you’re feeling inspired then what are you waiting for? Pack up, pitch up and just pray that the unpredictable British weather brings you some sunshine!

A girl’s guide to… Las Vegas on a budget

Las Vegas isn’t perhaps the most purse-friendly of destinations but there is more to it than the movies will lead you to believe – it’s not all about getting drunk, getting hitched and gambling. If you don’t want to pour all your hard-earned pennies into the slots then there is plenty Las Vegas has to offer, and best of all, some of it is for FREE!

From fountains to flamingos, here is a selection of activities to entice any budget-conscious traveller-

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1. Fountains of Bellagio

Perhaps the most romantic of Vegas’s attractions is the Fountains of Bellagio. Every day from 3pm (12pm on weekends and holidays) viewers are mesmerized by this extraordinary show of carefully choreographed water and light playing against a backdrop of music ranging from upbeat tunes such as ‘Viva Las Vegas’ to classical numbers like ‘Time to say goodbye’. Shows run every half hour until 7pm and then from 7pm until midnight, every 15 minutes, so if you don’t get such a good view the first time round its not long to wait until the next performance.

2. CBS Television City, MGM Grand Hotel

If you feel tired from traipsing the strip all day then Television City at the MGM Grand is a great way to rest your legs while playing a part in tv history. Participants are led into a studio to watch a pilot episode of a new tv series. Each viewer is given a dial to register how they feel during the show and then at the end is asked to fill in a questionnaire on screen. The feedback you give remains anonymous so you can be as honest as you like. The research results are passed on to studio executives, so if you are lucky enough to have previewed ‘the next big thing’ you can tell all your friends you had a small part in a big hit!

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3. Wildlife Habitat, Flamingo Hotel

The Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo Hotel is a beautiful place to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the strip. As well as a flock of Chilean flamingos, the lush garden is home to swans, ducks, koi and turtles. The buffet restaurant overlooks the garden so stop here for a meal. There is also a gift shop just inside the hotel which is the perfect place to buy gifts for those with a penchant for all things pink!

4. Circus acts, Circus Circus Hotel

At the north end of the strip sits the colourful big top known as Circus Circus, and what circus would be complete without its acts? Every day from 11am on the carnival midway visitors can see regular performances from world class circus acts including trapeze artists, jugglers and acrobats. On the occasion that we stopped for an act we were treated to a performance by a graceful aerial acrobat suspended from the ceiling with little more than a piece of ribbon.

4. Sirens of T.I, Treasure Island

Vegas is famous for its shows and the swashbuckling Siren show at Treasure Island draws quite a crowd. The sultry Sirens sing and dance while sword fighting with a group of pirates aboard their ships. The sexy cast, impressive stunts and amazing pyrotechnics make this show a sizzler. Check the T.I. website for times and be sure to get there early for a good view as it gets very busy.

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6.   Fremont Street Experience

Take the Deuce bus from The Strip and head downtown to the world-famous Fremont Street for a vintage Vegas experience. See the illustrious neon signs – Vegas Vic and Vegas Vicky – as you wander between the legendary casinos, such as Golden Nugget. You will be entertained under the bright lights by the free street performances, but the main attraction at Fremont Street is the free hourly sound and light show overhead. The whole experience is one not to be missed!