How to Budget for Your Dream Holiday

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Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Maybe an exotic medieval city in Southern Europe, or a tropical island where coconuts grow in great bunches high up in lush palm trees?

Perhaps you simply haven’t had the time to get away, or maybe you’ve been struggling to justify the expense.

Here’s a look at how you can budget for your dream holiday and finally work towards turning it into a reality.

Keep a record of your income

The first thing to do at the start of any budgeting scheme is to keep a record of your earnings. This can be done in a variety of ways, both paper and digital, but it’s absolutely crucial that you keep a record of how much money you’ve got coming in, so that you can reasonably determine how much you’re able to set aside.

investing in a check stub maker can be one good way of achieving this, as can signing up to a service such as Mint.com.

Cut out the waste in your day-to-day life

If you’re going to begin putting money aside for your dream holiday, you’ll need to free some up first. One of the key ways that this can be accomplished is by looking at the different areas of your life where you frequently spend money, and plugging up the unnecessary “leaks”.

Simply put, these “leaks” are under-the-radar expenses which don’t serve a vital function in your life, can be avoided with a small degree of attention and planning, and which add up to substantial costs over time.

Examples of these leaks could be things like buying a ready-made sandwich from the shop every day on the way to work, instead of making your own. Or paying subscriptions to entertainment services which you rarely if ever use.

Put aside small amounts at a time

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, goes the saying attributed to Lao Tzu. This turns out to be a great bit of advice for anyone who’s budgeting for a particular event.

If your holiday would cost you a thousand dollars in total, you’d likely find it difficult to pull that money together in any given month. If, however, you started putting a couple of hundred aside in a savings account each month, you could end up with enough for the trip within a few months. That’s without financially crippling yourself in the meantime.

Taking the long view, planning ahead, and saving in small increments is one of the ultimate secrets of turning your dreams into a reality. If you’re not doing it already, you should be.

Research your destination well in advance

Researching the destination you plan to visit is essential in creating an accurate budget for your trip. It does you no good to set aside a certain amount of money for your adventures only to arrive and find that you’ll need to spend far more than you originally thought.

There’s no reason for this to be a painful exercise. Treat it like a game. Spend time searching the web for attractions in the area, read reviews, get a sense of what, specifically, you’d like to get up to and how much it’d cost you.

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How To Plan A Road Trip Safely And Efficiently

Going on a road trip can be one of the most amazing experiences of anyone’s life because there’s no limits on what you can see or do. If you can drive there, you can experience it. However, road trips can sometimes go wrong and in this article, is going to be how you can plan a road trip safely and efficiently.

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Packing

First and foremost, you will need to pack your car with everything that you will need on your road trip. Even if you’re not necessarily driving for a long period of time there are still many essentials that you will need to take with you to make sure you’re not left stuck at any point. Here’s your checklist:

  • Phone and phone charger (with a car adapter to charge while you’re driving).
  • Water, and lots of it too. You never know when you’re going to be stuck somewhere, especially if your car breaks down at any point.
  • Clothing. Pack enough to last you the entire trip incase you’re unable to stop anywhere to clean your clothes.
  • Camera
  • Something to sleep in. If you’re not going to be sleeping in your car, of course.
  • First aid kit
  • Washbag full of personal toiletries like shampoo and toothpaste
  • GPS or a map
  • All important documents like your passport, visa and driving license.
  • Toilet paper
  • Pots and pans
  • Food that’s not perishable for the length of your trip
  • Toolbox
  • Any necessary medication, and also some NSAIDs in case you happen to have any minor complaints.
  • Music, because what’s a road trip without some amazing music?

Another thing that you will need to do before setting off, is to check your car to make sure that it’s safe enough to drive. If you’re not sure how to do this, take it to the garage for a quick service to avoid any chances of accidents while you’re driving.

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Driving

Once you’re ready to set off, make sure that you’ve got your first route to your first destination planned out. If you’re using a GPS, put the location in and get your road trip underway!

While you’re driving, you will need to make sure to remember some key points so that you can stay as safe as possible on the road. These are:

  • Never drive drowsy, because tired drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk ones. If you’re feeling fatigued, pull over for some coffee and a bit of sleep before carrying on with your journey.
  • Never drive after an alcoholic drink. There are safety laws put in place for a reason, and the best way to avoid an accident or conviction, is to not drink at all if you’re going to be driving. If you’re travelling with someone, make sure to remember that if either one of you has had an alcoholic drink, that you should not be driving for at least a day to make sure the alcohol has left your system.
  • Put your phone where you can’t reach it so that if it rings you will have to pull over safely to see who is trying to contact you. Don’t let yourself become distracted while driving.
  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times. You might be a safe driver, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is. Don’t trust anyone when it comes to driving on the roads.
  • Remember to have your dash cam switched on if you’ve got one fitted in the car, so that you can prove you’ve been driving correctly if needs be.

Even though you’re doing your part to keep the roads safe to drive on, if you do happen to be in a car accident while you’re driving, don’t hesitate in contacting a car accident lawyer who will be able to assist you in claiming against the driver at fault.

Sight Seeing

Finally, the sight-seeing. Breath in the incredible world that we live in and bask in the glory of making it to such a wonderful part of the earth. Don’t forget to take lots of snaps to look back on for the rest of your life. If you get the chance to do something out of the ordinary like take a hot air balloon ride, then do that too!

Road trips can be an amazing experience if you take the right precautions. Make sure to follow this guide if you’re planning on taking a road trip in the future, and most of all, enjoy yourself!

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Genius Hacks For When You Travel

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Travelling is an amazing way to broaden your horizons and experience new cultures and lifestyles. Many of us choose to partake on a package holiday each year to an exotic resort, or maybe go backpacking for a few weeks around the continent. Whatever the reason for your travel and whatever your taste, you’ll know that planning a trip and making sure everything goes right on your journey can be pretty stressful. Luckily, today we are going to take a look at some genius hacks to use on your next trip away.

Camping

If you want to travel without burning a big hole in your pockets, it’s a great idea to go camping with your family or friends. Instead of having to pay for flights, a hotel stay and transport; why not get in the car, drive to a campsite or a secluded area and set up your tent?

Sleeping under the stars isn’t everyone, but it can be an amazing way to bond with your family without technology and to learn about the environment and wildlife in the area. Settle down and cook some S’Mores by the fire, and relax.

Car Essentials

If you do plan on taking a road trip out with the family rather than travelling abroad, you will always need to make sure that you have the essentials at hand in case of an emergency. Before you travel there are several checks you’ll want to carry out on your car. The first of these is your engine oil. To check your oil, simply take out the dip stick and check the level. If it’s between the minimum and maximum lines, you’re good to go. You’ll also want to make sure your tyres have ample tread and are inflated to the correct pressure. Once you actually get in the car, you’ll want to keep an emergency kit in the trunk. This could include things such as:

  •         Phone Charger
  •         First Aid Kit
  •         Blankets
  •         Food
  •         Water
  •         Empty Fuel Bottle
  •         Spare Tyre
  •         Flashlight
  •         Sturdy Shoes
  •         Spare Clothes

Portable Air Conditioning

If you are one to frequent hot countries, the you’ll know well that the rooms can become sweltering under the midday sun. No matter how many ice-cold cocktails you drink and how well you close off the curtains, it can still be too hot for comfort. So, instead of suffering in silence, why not invest in a portable air conditioner? Companies such as acpulse.com offer small air conditioning units you can take with you on your travels, and they can be a lifesaver in a heat wave.

Water Bottle Backpack              

If you are an avid explorer, or if you decide on going somewhere with lots of hiking opportunities and vast woodland: it could be a great idea to get yourself a backpack which has a built-in water bottle. The last thing you want to be doing when you are walking and climbing all day is to lug around 2-3 water bottles, instead you can fit a few litres of water into a pouch in your bag and sip on it through a tube throughout the day. A much easier way to stay hydrated in the wilderness!

Always Be Prepared

One of the first rules for any traveller, you must always prepare yourself for every possible situation. Just the same as your car kit, make sure that if you are out and about or travelling by plane, pack for every weather condition. The last thing you want is to be stuck out in a thunderstorm in shorts and a vest!

Pack The Smart Way

Many of you will already know about this simple packing tricks, but in case you don’t, here are the things to remember. Firstly, stop folding your clothes when you pack up your suitcase. Rolling them up is much easier and saves a lot of space, allowing you to fit more in your luggage. Secondly, store your underwear inside your shoes. Again, this saves space and allows you extra room for other things in your case. To avoid tangled cables in your bag, roll them up and tie with a cable tie. And finally, carry as much as you can manage in your hand luggage. It will make life much easier for you when you get on the plane!

Backup Your Documents

Rather than just relying on your paper copies of your passport, boarding passes and other documents; scan them online and email them to yourself. Then you will be safe in the knowledge that you always have a copy to hand when you need it. On some smart phones, you can also scan them to a wallet and use them whenever you need them.

Download Yelp Or TripAdvisor

When you visit somewhere unfamiliar, you might struggle to know where to find the best restaurants, hotels and activities’ in the area. If you download an app such as TripAdvisor, you can search your location and find out where the best places are to visit during your stay. You might even find a beautiful country park or even a historical building to visit while you are away.

Respect The Local Culture

If you visit a country which asks for a modest dress code, don’t be that guy who dresses in nothing but a pair of shorts and sandals. If you respect the local culture you will be treated more kindly by the locals than if you don’t. It will make your stay more comfortable all round.

Unpack Immediately

Coming home can be sad, but can also be a relief if you want to curl up on the sofa in your pjs with a glass of wine. Travelling home can be tiring, but always try your best to unpack the moment you walk through the door. Put away your clean clothes, stick the rest in the washing machine and then have a shower and relax. It will seem like the last thing you’d want to do at the time, but it will feel amazing in the morning when you have nothing left to do.

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Family Road Trip: 4 Tips For A Smooth Ride

Family going on vacation

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Going on a break with the family is a must for most people. Taking time to seek out new terrains and get to know new horizons with the kids in tow is a big part of adding experience to life. Piling the family into the car and heading out is a great way to follow a trail to new adventures, but being stuck in a car with family at close quarters can cause squabbling to an extreme and make an adventure feel useless.

 

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Planning is the key to the perfect family road trip and it’s got to start with how you travel. Some families love to hire a huge recreational vehicle like this one to get their family around. The space and comfort – not to mention, the toilet – can make such a difference to the journey. Not being confined to five seats and bags is a glorious feeling and an RV can change that. Alternatively, plan your mode of transport based on what you plan to do. If you’re heading into the mountains and valleys for hiking, paragliding and skiing fun, then getting into an off-road vehicle like a Ford Ranger is going to change the game and give you every comfort you need as you go off those regular roads and into new terrains. Road trips don’t have to be a stressful affair, and we’ve got four tips to make it work for your whole family.

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  1. Activities. Depending on the age of the kids, the fun they have in the car is going to differ. Teenagers may well be happy to sit back with their headphones in, watching the world go by as they listen to the latest tracks. Little children are a whole other kettle of fish. They need interaction and entertainment, from car games like these to portable DVD players to keep them entertained. Babies are always easier, as they tend to sleep on long car journeys and can make life easy!
  2. Time. As a family, you know that timing is going to matter the most. Trying to plan to get to school on time is hard enough, never mind a full road trip. Mark on a map all the toilets and rest stops, and mark down how long you want each stop to last. Once you’ve done that, stick to it! Allow extra time for traffic, but not for choosing candy on the road!
  3. Make It Interesting. Kids are easily bored on the road, and adults are, too! Making those rest stops interesting ones and not just the local gas station can make such a difference. Plan your journey to include interesting towns and tourist spots!
  4. Plan Surprises. Keep a bag with you in the front of the car full of little treats and goodies so that during car games, you have prizes. These little gifts can change the atmosphere in the car during boring periods and make it fun.

Your road trip doesn’t have to be a disaster; careful planning and treats see to that!

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Want A Perfect Family Trip? Stay Close To Home

The perfect holiday can often seem like something of a fantasy. It certainly can be hard to plan and arrange the ideal vacation, especially if you are somewhat limited in regards to your funds. Most people are not able to afford five-star luxury every year, so if you are having to scrimp and save, don’t worry about it. Everyone has been there – and what’s more, it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t still have a fantastic holiday. As it happens, one of the best ways to have a holiday with the family is to stay home, or close to home. There are many reasons why that might be; let’s have a look at some of the more convincing ones now.

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Save Money

 

One of the main reasons that people consider holidaying at home is simply because they will save a lot of money. Just think about it: you won’t need to buy flights (which is often most of the expense) and you will find that any other transport will be much cheaper than abroad. But it’s also a case of having local knowledge. Because you know more than you do about location which are further afield, you can be a little savvier with how you spend your money. You will probably find that you get a lot more for your money than you would abroad, even if in some foreign locations most things might be cheaper. Having the local knowledge really does make a huge difference.

 

A Safer Journey

 

There is mounting evidence to suggest that holidaying nearer to your home is more often safer. There are many factors which will influence this. For a start, it is true that you are less likely to be in any kind of accident, because you have more understanding of the culture and won’t find yourself making the same silly mistakes. You will also have an easier time navigating your way, as you already know the area fairly well. You speak the language, and can more easily gain any assistance you might need when you need it. If you are planning a road trip, it might be particularly wise to stay in your own corner of the country. The last thing you want is an out of state car accident, with all the hassle that brings. If you are closer to home, in your own state, you will be less likely to crash in the first place – and if you do, the procedure following it will be much simpler.

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Allow Your Children To Appreciate Their Hometown

 

You don’t have to actually stay in your town, of course, but even just getting your children to appreciate the local area or state you are in is important. Too often these days, people find themselves getting too out of touch with the area they belong to. This is a real shame, but a great way to remedy the situation is by holidaying at home. It is especially good for your children, and the earlier you take them on holidays at home the better it will be for them. You might even find that they develop an understanding and respect of their home which other kids their age lack. It’s a great way to avoid the trap of ignoring your own corner of the world’s own special beauty.

 

Cut It Short? No Problem

 

There are many ways in which travelling close to home will mean that you have a much less stressful time. A particularly good example of this is when you need to cut your trip short. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and it is always a shame when it does happen. It might be a family emergency, for example, or that you have run out of your holiday spending money and need to stop spending. Whatever the underlying problem, it goes without saying that you will find it much easier to make your way back home whenever you want to if you are only just down the road. This can actually be something of a lifesaver in more serious circumstances – sometimes literally. You don’t want to live in fear of this kind of thing to the point that you never go anywhere – but it is still a huge benefit of holidaying at home which can’t be ignored.

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Next time you are thinking of taking the family away somewhere, look close to home. You might be surprised at what kind of wonder lay on your doorstep, once you stop and look.

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Alone Ranger: Quality Ways To Make The Most Of “Me Time”

There is a little stigma attached to spending time on your own. A lot of people view it as being some sort of social pariah, yet some people love their own company and would prefer it to be that way more often. But if you are one of those people who struggle to enjoy your own company, there are many benefits of being on your own for a short period of time. The one main positive is developing resilience and relying on your own resources, so how can we find more suitable methods to enjoy your own time?

 

Traveling By Yourself

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The most clichéd of methods to spend alone time is actually one of the most beneficial. By travelling alone and seeing other parts of your country or the world (depending on your budget) you can broaden your mind and get a unique sense of perspective on things. A lot of people get in a car and go, and a lot of people are now taking to obtaining a motorcycle license, getting on a Harley and heading down that open road until they find what they’re looking for. This is an extremely romantic idea, but there are plenty of people that do it as an alternative to meditating or mindfulness. So if this is an option for you, you can find out from American Motorcycle Trading Company on what types of motorcycles are suitable. The open road is a great way to clear your mind in whatever form, be it hiking, spending time in a foreign land, or just getting on your trusty hog and finding out what you’re all about in the great wide open.

 

Creating A Journal

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For a lot of us, we don’t really know what makes us tick. By creating a journal that is for the purposes of your own thoughts and feelings, that no one will ever have access to, means that you can spend a lot of time getting to know yourself better. It’s also been shown that getting our thoughts onto paper is a very suitable method of beating stress and gaining a unique perspective on our problems. So even if you aren’t physically able to spend time alone, this could be a suitable pastime to be engrossed in your thoughts and make you feel like you have had some quality alone time. A lot of people swear by writing a diary because it acts as a very effective “brain dump” too.

 

Take A Nap

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Even if you don’t go to sleep, having a bit of quality alone time during the day to muse over the more pressing thoughts in your mind will give you that breathing space from your day to day life that you didn’t even know you needed. A lot of us are worried about spending time on our lonesome, but it may be just what the doctor ordered for you to go through the thought of the day and to reduce stress and anxiety. But also you may realize that life isn’t always as stressful as you’ve built it up in your head. If you can afford yourself the luxury of 10 minutes a day where you are doing something for your own benefit, this could be the rejuvenation process you need.

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Save $Money$ on Hotels with a VPN

When traveling, most of us try to find the best deals for hotels. Hotels and lodging options often take a big bite out of your travel budget but finding deals are usually quite a challenge. Going through many comparison websites just to find the best deal can be time-consuming, though the worst part can be the fluctuating prices.

The main reason why it’s nearly impossible to pin down that elusive good deal is that those comparison websites usually track the location you’re accessing the site from. From this tracking, the sites give you prices based on where you browse from and demand the rate in your specific region. (Flight websites are the same, but you can also find deals on them with a VPN.)

Comparison websites track your location using:

  • Cookies – Cookies track and store your browsing history, which allows comparison sites to detect when you query the search engines for the same search item several times and as such increase the price of available hotels.
  • IP Address – Your IP address also known as Internet Protocol, is the easiest way travel sites are able to detect your location and therefore serve you different hotel prices accordingly.
  • Mobile tracking – The GPS feature on your mobile device, like your smartphone or tablet, can indicate your location. If you are browsing travel sites from your mobile device you will likely see different prices depending on your location.
  • Wi-Fi – If you give websites permission, they will be able to detect your location using your Wi-Fi.

Here’s how to save money on hotels

August is a big month for summer holidays and travel. We decided to check out staying at a luxury hotel, The Goring, in London. This five-star hotel is right next to Westminster Palace, the hub of United Kingdom and right on the doorstep of the Queen herself.

If this place seems a little too pricey, don’t worry. What we’re showing you can be used with any hotel.

We decided to stay for a week from August 11th to 18th on our fictional holiday and the prices below are per day of stay. Here is the original cost of staying at The Goring for one adult:

As you can see, £475 per night for one adult is quite steep even with the promotional offer of 11% off but is the best price available with free cancellation.

Browse from a lower income country

Using a VPN, set your IP address to a lower income country and watch the price difference. For example, if you set your IP address to a server in Indonesia whilst browsing the comparison site Kayak, you will see the prices in the native Indonesian currency. Quickly Google the exchange rate to find out the cost.

A single night’s stay at The Goring costs 8,078,384 Rupiah. However exchanged into GBP, that becomes £470, £5 lower than the original price. It isn’t much, but it adds up over the week stay.

However, if we were to change our IP address to the USA, the price changes again.

When we exchange currencies from USD to GBP we find that the price has gone down from the original £475 to £392, which is a saving of a whopping £83 per day. Over the week that adds up to £581 saved! Whilst in London that can be turned into a shopping spree or a luxurious few days at a spa. Even though the timing for the bookings is the same, the prices vary from the original.

Although browsing from lower income countries typically results in lower hotel rates, it is not always true. Take for example Greece, which has been hit with increasing amounts of debt since the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Greece recently joined the European Union and in doing so rid itself of its former currency and now uses the Euro.

When we exchange the currency of the Euro to GBP the price actually increases by £1. It is not a monumental increase, but you don’t want to be spending more if you don’t have to.

The greatest saving we found happened to be using an Argentinian server:

When we exchanged the Argentinian Peso to GBP we found the price to be £387, which is an even greater saving of £88 per day. This low price is also because of the promotional offer of 18% off as can be seen above.

Not only have we saved due to the currency exchange, but we also saved from a promotional offer on the comparison site itself. Double win! With prices like these, staying in a luxury five-star hotel in the middle of London just got more affordable.

When quoting hotel prices, comparison sites consider your location, the currency you pay with along with the point of sale, and other factors. It is common for customers in different countries using different currencies to see different prices for the hotel.

It goes without saying that if you are looking to save money on hotel bookings, without wasting too much time going through the different sites for a good deal, your best bet is to simply hide your location using a VPN.

Alternative ways of saving money on Hotels

Clear your browsing history

As mentioned earlier, comparison sites track your location and browsing history based on the cookies stored in your browser. They take that information and adjust the prices accordingly. Clearing your cookies and browsing data can help to reset those prices and allow you to see the initial booking cost of your hotel.

However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to secure the cheaper prices you seek, just as if you were browsing anonymously using a private browser session or VPN. It may be beneficial to use the international version of a comparison site e.g. (.co.uk) for Britain or (.in) for India to see different price quotes for hotel bookings, so you may get lucky.

Choose Off-Peak times of the year

If you are more concerned with saving money rather than the time of year you’d like to book your hotel stay, consider booking a hotel during off-peak periods.

Off-peak periods tend to be during the school term as well as when there isn’t a public holiday coming up. Choosing these times to book your hotel getaway can significantly lower the price you’re offered compared to when everyone else is also booking their hotels at peak times.

Is it legal?

If you’re worried about the legalities of using a VPN to book your hotels, rest assured thatcomparison sites don’t have a problem with this. These sites quote different prices for customers in different locations and browsing with a VPN can help you take advantage of these differences and make a considerable saving.

Looking for a good VPN to save money on hotels? Check out our top VPNs.

 

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