When it comes to travelling the world, there is one potential downside that stymies even the most determined of travel plans: the cost. Travelling is undoubtedly a very expensive hobby, which means if your wanderlust is biting and you can’t wait to travel the world, the idea of a cheap holiday is incredibly inviting.
However, cheap holidays are rarely a good idea— in fact, they can be incredibly problematic, and can cause you untold stress. If you’re currently being tempted by a cheap and cheerful vacation, then there are a few things you might want to bear in mind…
The perils of “cheap”
Why is cheap so damaging? Well, it tends to mean that every aspect of the holiday has been chosen not for how beneficial it is to the customer, but to how cheaply it can be obtained for the provider.
This means that you could find yourself at a hotel with malfunctioning electronics, bed linens so uncomfortable you can barely sleep, and just a generally poor level of service.
Cheap flights could mean that you are a victim of overbooking, or that the flight will be landing a huge distance away from the city it claims to be landing at.
Finally, cheap deals — such as sightseeing tours — will often be cut short, poor value, and even fail to deliver on what you have been promised.
Taking all of the above into consideration, does that mean that trying to book anything related to a holiday means that you have to pay over the odds just to ensure your safety and security? Not quite…
There’s a difference between “cheap” and “low cost”
Low cost, on the other hand, means that the hotel or deal is being provided with the budget traveller in mind. Yes, the provider wants to keep the costs down, but that’s not the only factor in the decision making. While holidays with low costs providers and hotels won’t be a byword for luxury, they shouldn’t be unpleasant or outright dangerous.
So, the key question: how can you differentiate between “cheap” and “low cost”?
The signs of a “cheap” deal
Learning how to spot the difference between “cheap” and “low cost” is incredibly important.
Signs of a cheap hotel
- Very few reviews of the hotel on the website
- Limited number of photos on the site— or worse yet, the only photos on the site appear to be stock images. You can use a reverse image search to see if this is the case for a hotel you’re considering.
- Little to no social media presence
- The website doesn’t use a secure protocol
Signs of cheap deals:
- Vagueness when discussing travel arrangements or requirements; information is never clearly presented.
- The deal keeps dropping in price, with often only a few days in between the price drops.
- There is no set itinerary for what you should expect
Signs of cheap flights
- Cheap flights will usually be just that— cheap. They are otherwise indistinguishable any other flight.
- If you spot a particularly cheap deal, you need to do your research. Don’t take the destination city as read. Let’s say, for example, that you’re planning on flying to Rome. This is the destination that the flight is going to, so you might be happy to make the booking. However, a little research will reveal that Rome has two airports; one of which is convenient, the other of which is nearly an hour from the city itself. You will likely find that a cheap flight provider will be flying to the distant airport, while low cost will be flying to the main airport.
- So always check out the airport that the flight is travelling to, rather than just the city, if you want to be cautious of cheap flights.
So what are the other options?
You want to travel, but your budget is compromised. The only types of deals that you can find within your price range appear to be alarmingly “cheap”, and you’ve decided not to take the risk… but you still want to travel. What are your options? Here are a few suggestions you may want to consider…
Change your destination
While travelling is often about exploring foreign lands and delighting in other cultures, you can have a wonderful time in your home country if you’re on a budget. Pick an area that you have never visited before and that you know relatively little about, then visit using public transport and your own knowledge of securing good deals in your home country. It might not be the far-flung foreign travel you dream of, but it should be enough to keep your wanderlust under control until you can afford your next big trip.
Lean on your reward points
If you’re a frequent traveller, then chances are you have amassed a few reward points or frequent flyer miles. If you can add some funds to your reward points, then you might be surprised by just how fantastic a holiday you’ll be able to afford. As inspiration, consider how Alex Miller from Upgraded Points was able to cover the cost of an incredible trip with relatively little financial investment— the rest was covered by his reward points. This is a great choice if you have some money to spend, but not enough money to spend on an entire holiday— use your reward points to make up the difference and secure yourself a great deal.
Yes, it’s the option that no traveller truly wants to consider; if you want to travel, then the idea of waiting for a trip can feel extremely stifling. However, it’s better for your financial situation and your own well-being to opt to stay home rather than take a risk with a cheap deal. As you wait, you can keep scouring the internet looking for low cost, rather than cheap, deals that might fit into your available budget.
So while you may be desperate to travel, it’s important to be careful. Hopefully, one of the alternatives above may help to settle your wanderlust… for awhile, at least!
Sights to See in London
If you’re traveling to London, congratulations. You are going to enjoy yourself. The capital of the United Kingdom has something for everyone – history, theater, art, and of course, the monarchy. Before you go, make sure you have attended an english course. It will make your trip all the more enjoyable. While there is much to do across the pond, make sure you put these destinations on your must-see list.
Considered by many to be the best museum in England, this architectural marvel is free to visit. Constructed in 1753 and opened to the public six years later, the British Museum became the world’s first national public museum. Nearly six million people visit the museum each year and explore its 10 departments – Africa, Oceania and the Americas; Ancient Egypt and Sudan; Asia; Britain, Europe and Prehistory; Coins and Medals; Conservation and Scientific Research; Greece and Rome; Middle East; Portable Antiquities and Treasure; and Prints and Drawings. Famous antiquities housed in the museum include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and the Lindow Man.
The home of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace is available to tour from July through October. It costs $34 for adults, $19 for kids 17 years of age and younger and is free for guests under 5 years old. When you visit, make sure to check out the 19 State Rooms, the Grand Staircase, fine art, a Prince Charles-narrated audio tour, fine art, the Throne Room, Sèvres Porcelain, the royal gardens, flags and clocks, special exhibits, the Garden Café and the Garden Shop. If you don’t want to pay for a tour of the palace, you can still witness the storied Changing of the Guard. Executed by active soldiers from the Foot guards who have protected the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces since the 17th century, this special ceremony is forever linked to the British monarchy.
The famed royal church offers daily services and is a World Heritage site. Since 1066, Westminster Abbey has served as the coronation church. It is the resting place of 17 monarchs. Started by Henry III in the 13th century, the church is considered the most famous Gothic building in England. At its center is a medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint. Abbey’s most popular spots include Poet’s Corner, Coronation Chair, The Lady Chapel, Pyx Chamber, Royal Tombs, Unknown Warrior, The Quire, Cloisters, Chapter House and College Garden. Admission to Westminster Abbey is $26, but you can visit for free. Evensong services are offered seven days a week. While not highly publicized, simply walk over to the iron gate by the church’s main entrance and enjoy a beautiful service performed by a world-class choir.
London truly has it all. Depending how long you are in the country, you may not have time to see everything that makes the country great. If that’s the case, make sure you put the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey on your to-do list.
Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore
A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.
We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.
The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.
Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and uhealth and safety advice.
From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.
El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.
It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:
Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.
That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.
The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.
The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.
Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.
The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.
The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.
With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.
The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.
Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).
By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and buffets morning, noon and night.
Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.
The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.
One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.
Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.
We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.
Day Seven and Eight
The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.
So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.
Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!
Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.
By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.
The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.
With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.
The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:
- It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
- There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
- We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
- More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.
As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.
- Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
- The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
- The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
- The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.
All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.
Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.
Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.
How to Buy the Perfect Swimwear for Your Next Trip or Vacation
If you are planning to spend time on the beach or by the pool during your next trip or vacation you are going to need to buy the right swimwear. Below, we explain how to make the right choice.
Don’t be afraid to try something a bit different
Gone are the days where men wore trunks and most women wore a one-piece or bikini. As you can see when you click here, these days, there is a lot more choice, especially when it comes to women’s swimwear. You can now buy swim dresses, tankinis and even shapewear that is designed with swimming in mind.
If you have not been costume shopping in a while, it is worth taking the time to try out some of these new cuts and styles. The same applies to men. Try out a pair of swimming shorts instead of always wearing trunks. You never know you might end up really like them.
Getting the fit right
Before you travel, you should try your swimming costume on and make sure it fits you properly. It needs to stay in place regardless of what activities you take part in. So, when trying it on, go through the entire range of motions. Reach your hands above your head bend down and bend over. Then repeat the process when it is wet. Going through this little exercise will ensure that you do not end up embarrassing yourself while on the beach.
Bear in mind local swimwear rules and customs
In some parts of the world, there are regulations that govern the type of swimwear you can wear. Regardless of where you are planning to travel to it is worth clicking here and checking if there are any swimwear related rules or customs you need to bear in mind. For example, so many people get caught out by the French rule that says that men cannot wear shorts when swimming in a public pool that they now have vending machines that sell trunks.
The quality matters
If you are planning a long trip, it is wise to spend a little extra cash and buy a high-quality swimming costume. In the end, doing so will end up saving you a lot of money.
In many popular tourist destinations, the cost of swimwear is high. So, you really do not want to be forced to buy a swimming costume in a place like that. That is why it makes sense to buy something that has been made to last from your home country.
Most supermarket costumes are only designed to be worn for beach holidays. So, usually, they are not made from very good fabric. After a month or so you will notice that your costume starts to lose its elasticity and get baggy.
More packing and holiday clothing tips
If you found the above article useful and would like to read something similar, just click here. When you do, you will be taken to one of our packing tips articles.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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