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Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 30th April 2019

Best Travel Deals

In my best travel deals this week I have last minute holidays to Lanzarote, a wine and shopping trip to Madrid, luxury for less in St Lucia, a super deal to Greece in July, a family holiday in August, Caribbean cruise and stay holidays and an early booking offer for St Stephens Day.

 

Best last minute:

Enjoy a week in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote from as little as €299. Fancy a little 5-star treatment? The Hesperia Hotel in Puerto Calero is only €378. Want to go all-inclusive? The Morromar aparthotel is only €399! These super deals include flights, transfers and checked baggage for seven nights, departing in May.

View self catering here

 

View 5* Hesperia Hotel here

 

View All Inclusive here

 

 

 

Best city break:

Enjoy a wine and shopping trip to Madrid over the August bank holiday weekend. I found a great deal flying with Ethiopian Airlines, direct from Dublin on their dreamliner aircraft. Enjoy the comfort of full in-cabin service, with drinks and 2 x 23kg bags included in the fare! Spend three nights in the Spanish capital for only €228, staying in the centrally located HRC hotel. Stock up on some Spanish wine and shop till you drop. With 2 checked bags each, you have the perfect excuse!

See more here

 

 

 

Best summer sun:

With direct flights to Thessaloniki from Dublin airport, there has never been a better time to explore the Greek region of Halkidiki. I found a great deal staying in the highly rated Dionysos Hotel, in the popular resort of Hanioti. Price for flights and a seven-night stay on the 1st of July, is only €357!

View offer here

 

 

 

Best long haul deal: 

Save up to €450 and receive a room upgrade and spa treatment, when you book the adult-only, All Inclusive, Bel Jou Hotel in St Lucia. Price starts from €1229 and includes flights, transfers, all meals and drinks for seven nights.  Check out the amazing reviews on tripadvisor here.

View offer here

 

 

 

Best cruise deal:

Combine a seven night luxury Caribbean cruise with Celebrity Cruises, with stays in Miami and the Florida Keys, for only €1899! Price includes flights, cruise, three night stay in Miami, four night stay in the Florida Keys and car hire! See this and more Caribbean cruise and stay offers by clicking below. 

See more here

 

 

 

Best family deal:

Bring the kids to the highly rated Terraza Mar Suites in Puerto Rico on the 8th of August. This is one of the most sought after properties in Gran Canaria. Price for 2 adults and 2 children sharing for seven nights, is only €1776, including flights, transfers and checked baggage. Use code SUMMER to save €100 off the listed price of this, or any summer holiday over €1000 in value. 

View offer here

 

 

 

Best early booking offer:

Best the post Christmas blues by jetting off to a luxury hotel in the Algarve on St Stephens Day. Stay at the highly rated 5* Grand Real Santa Eulalia for only €395! Price includes flights and hotel for five nights.

View offer here

 

 

 

Best seat sale:

Aer Lingus have up to 20% off summer holidays in their latest seat sale.  Travel between the 13th of May and the 31st of July and you could save 20% off the fare. Book by Monday 6th of May.

See more here

 

 

 
Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

Travel Tips

The Beginners Guide to AerClub – And Why You Should Join

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Would you shop in Boots without an Advantage card or Tesco without a Clubcard? So why fly with Aer Lingus without joining AerClub? Check out my beginners guide to AerClub below and find out why you should join! 

 

If you have booked an Aer Lingus flight within the last two years, you have probably been asked to join their frequent flyer programme, AerClub. Perhaps some of you didn’t join yet, because you thought you had to fly regularly with Aer Lingus to get the benefits. Believe me, you don’t! Even if you have no plans to fly with Aer Lingus this year, you can still join AerClub, the benefits are superb. Don’t worry if you have left it late to join, with this beginners guide to AerClub, you will be saving money off your next Aer Lingus flight in no time!

beginners guide to aerclub

The benefits of joining AerClub:

AerClub has over one million members. Avios is the travel reward currency of AerClub, which is also used by other international airlines such as British Airways & Iberia. As an AerClub member, you collect Avios points when you fly with Aer Lingus and their partner airlines, as well as with a range of other retail, travel and leisure partners. Then you can get money off your flights with Aer Lingus! Let’s use one of AerClub’s partners, Marks and Spencer, as an example.

If you spend €100 online with Marks and Spencer via the AerClub eStore, you will receive 400 Avios. The AerClub eStore is an online shopping portal, where you shop in the same way as you would normally shop online, but instead of searching directly on the Marks and Spencer website, you access it via the AerClub website. There is no extra cost to you for shopping in this way. I should also point out that the 400 Avios that you will receive for spending €100 with Marks and Spencer online, is actually the M&S standard reward rate with Avios. During promotions this rate will be much higher.

You can then use these 400 Avios to save money off your next Aer Lingus flight. There is no filling out forms, no application necessary, simply select ‘Pay With Avios’ when booking an AerLingus flight on AerLingus.com or via the Aer Lingus app. Now can you see the benefits of joining AerClub? See more in this guide to AerClub and Avios in this short video.

See how to pay for flights with Avios here.

 

 

How to collect Avios

As well as collecting Avios when you fly with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and other airlines, you can also collect Avios when shopping in SuperValu through their Real Rewards programme, Kildare Village and online, via the AerClub eStore. I’m not talking about obscure boutiques, I mean your favourite retailers like M&S, Asos, River Island, Apple as well as travel websites like Expedia, Hotels.com etc.

You can get Avios when you travel too, for example when you book car hire with Avis or Budget and also with a range of hotel partners. Fancy afternoon tea in the Merrion Hotel, want to treat yourself in Appleby Jewellers or feel like ordering a take-away from Just Eat for a cosy night in?  Yes you guessed it, these are all AerClub partners too! I have accumulated almost 70,000 Avios now, mostly from shopping with AerClub partners.

See more ways to collect Avios here

See tips to boost your Avios balance here

beginners guide to aerclub

 

How to spend Avios

Once you accumulate Avios, you can use these to pay for reward flights, hotels, car hire and travel experiences. You can also use them to part-pay for Aer Lingus flights. So even if you have only accumulated 400 Avios, you can use these to get a discount off your next Aer Lingus flight.

See more ways to spend Avios here.

beginners guide to aerclub

 

How to Join AerClub

If by any chance you have not joined AerClub yet – now is your chance!  It is so easy to join, simply click here. By joining AerClub you will enjoy the benefits of being part of a global network of partners and you can pay for flights with Avios. You can also use Avios to pay for hotels, car hire and travel experiences.

 

 

Where can I see my membership number and Avios balancee.

Once you have joined AerClub, log in on AerLingus.com with your username and password, where you will see your membership number, Tier Credits and Avios balance. You can also log in on the app to view your membership number and account details. Note it can take up to four weeks for Avios to be shown on your balance, depending on where you have collected them. For hotels and car hire, your Avios will be added to your account after you have completed your booking.

 

What are AerClub Tier Credits?

As well as rewarding you with Avios, AerClub reward their frequent flyers with Tier Credits. Tier Credits are only given when you fly with Aer Lingus. If you can manage to collect 301 Tier Credits in one year, you will move from a Green Tier (the basic introductory level) to a Silver Tier and can avail of huge benefits, like business class check-in and even flight upgrades. 

See more tips and tricks to boost your AerClub Tier Credits here.

 

beginners guide to aer club

I hope that you enjoyed my beginners guide to AerClub and that it will help you to accumulate lots of Avios. This post was sponsored by Avios, but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 
Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 23rd April 2019

Best Travel Deals

In my best travel deals this week I have amazing May holidays, summer in Sicily, a short break to Dubai, New England in the Fall cruise, a family adventure to Singapore and Borneo, a bargain break in Bali, winter sun in Lanzarote and lots more!

 

Best last minute:

There are so many amazing last minute deals for May! Choose Bulgaria from €237, half-board in Tenerife from €254, Algarve, Lanzarote and Costa del Sol from €256 and Puerto Rico from €259. ALL of these prices include flights, accommodation, transfers and checked baggage for seven nights!

View offers here

 

 

 

Best cruise:

Combine two night stays in New York and Iceland, with a cruise to New England in the Fall  – all for just €1999! This amazing 14 night holiday includes all flights, transfers, 4 star hotels in New York and Reykjavik and a 9 night cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas!  

See more here

 

 

 

Best family deal:

Seeing as though I’m travelling long haul with my kids at the moment, I thought I would opt for a family adventure this week 😉.  Visit Universal Studios in the modern city of Singapore, before spending seven nights in the tropical island of Borneo. Snorkel in pristine coral reefs, trek the rainforests and see orang-utans in their natural habitat. Not only does the itinerary have the wow-factor, but you will be staying in five-star family accommodation throughout. Price of €1839 per person, is based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing, with flights, transfers, 5* hotels, tickets to Universal Studios and an orang-utan tour included.

See more here

 

 

 

Best summer sun:

Sicily is an island that needs to be explored. Don’t do what I did and spend a full week in the same resort! This super trip from Travel Department includes excursions to Mount Etna, Catania, Siracuse, Toarmina and an adventure to the Aeolian Islands. Price of €999 includes flights, 4* hotel with breakfast and evening meal included, transfers and excursions with local guides, for seven nights.

See more here

 

 

 

Best city break:

Jet off to Dubai in June! Spend four nights in the highly rated JA Ocean View Hotel for only €695 per person. I stayed right next door to this hotel and the location is superb. You can walk to the the marina and the beach and there loads of bars and restaurants close by – I think it’s the best place to stay in Dubai.

See more here

 

 

 

Best long haul deal:

Want to go long haul without breaking the bank? Check out this deal to Bali for only €799! Price includes flights and a seven-night stay in the Haven hotel Seminyak. This is a handy base if you want to do some island hopping.

View offer here

 

 

 

Best staycation:

The deal to Druids Glen that we booked is back, and it’s valid until the 30th of June! Price of €169 per room includes an over-night stay with breakfast, a bottle of prosecco, €15 spa credit each towards treatments of 50 minutes or more, €15 golf credits towards a round of golf, €20 dinner credit per couple and late check-out by 1pm. Read my review of Druids Glen here.

View offer here

 

 

 

Best early booking offer:

Plan your winter sun break now and get the best travel deals. Escape to Lanzarote on the 15th of November from just €261, staying in the Atlantis Las Lomas apartments in Puerto del Carmen. See this offer and lots more hotel options by clicking below. Price includes flights and accommodation for seven nights. 

View offer here

 

 

 
Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

Cruises

Luxury Caribbean Cruise & Stay Holidays, Flights, Accommodation & Cruise, From €1749!

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Take your pick from these luxury Caribbean cruise and stay holidays with flights, accommodation and a five-star Celebrity Cruise included.

 

I have teamed up with American Sky to bring you my top three Celebrity Caribbean cruise and stay holidays. I was fortunate enough to be on board one of Celebrity Cruises Solstice class ships, Celebrity Silhouette recently and I absolutely loved it! All of the holidays below include a seven night cruise on a Solstice class ship, either Celebrity Reflection or Celebrity Equinox. You can expect five star luxury with a wide choice of dining and entertainment on board. Interiors are bright and modern and they even have a real grass lawn! This gives a country club feel, I found it hard to believe that I was on a cruise ship.

But that’s not all…

As well as a fabulous seven day Caribbean cruise you can also choose to add on a few nights in Miami or the Florida Keys, or even both! I have also chosen a cruise holiday with a stay in Orlando, which should satisfy any thrill seekers. Check out my top three Caribbean cruise and stay holidays below and get planning your next cruise holiday!

 

 

3 Nights Miami, 7 Nights Western Caribbean Cruise: Flights, Accommodation & Cruise, €1749!

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

This is such amazing value, I am tempted to book it myself! Miami has been on my bucket list for a long time and this amazing offer includes a three night stay in Miami and a seven-night Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Equinox. You will be staying at the highly rated Grand Beach Hotel, which is centrally located to explore the vibrant city of Miami. Shop till you drop, visit chic Little Havana or chill out on the beach right in front of your hotel. After three days in Miami you will board Celebrity Equinox for a Western Caribbean cruise. Visit the lively town of Key West, Puerto Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, and then swim with sting rays in the Cayman Islands! You will also have two full days at sea to enjoy the facilities on this luxurious cruise ship.

View offer here

 

7 Nights Orlando &  7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Flights, Accommodation, Car hire & Cruise, €1829! 

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

Spend a week in the theme park capital of the world and enjoy the thrills of Disney World, Universal Studios and lots more. You will be staying at Westgate Palace which is right in the heart of Orlando, close to International Drive and all the theme parks. After a week of non stop action, drive to Miami and board Celebrity Reflection for a seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise. Your first stop will be Puerto Rico where you can visit the old town of San Juan or take a trip to the rainforest. You will also visit the small Caribbean islands of St. Maarten and St Kitts, where you can chill out on some of the Caribbean’s white sandy beaches, or go off the beaten track and zip line through the jungle. There are also three days at sea so you can enjoy all of the fantastic facilities that Celebrity Reflection has to offer.

View offer here 

 

3 Nights Miami, 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise, 4 Nights, Florida Keys: Flights, Accommodation, Car Hire & Cruise, €1899!

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

Start this holiday of a lifetime with three nights in the trendy Albion Hotel on South Beach, Miami. Explore this cool city or just chill out and people watch, it is that sort of place! You will then board the luxurious Celebrity Equinox for a seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise. Visit San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Kitts, where you can enjoy some of the Caribbean’s white sandy beaches, or seek adventure in their tropical rainforests. You will also have three full days at sea to enjoy this luxury cruise ship.

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

Your holiday doesn’t end there… When you disembark in Miami, you will pick up a hire car and drive to Key Largo, for a four night stay at the Ocean Pointe Suites. You can snorkel, go kayaking or chill out on the beach. Of course no trip to the Florida Keys would be complete without driving the ultimate road trip, from Key Largo to Key West, and with five days car rental included, you will have plenty of time!

View offer here 

 

I hope you enjoyed my top picks for Caribbean cruise and stay holidays and that this inspires you to book a Caribbean cruise. If you want to change the above itineraries, add on extra nights, or choose to combine with different city, contact American Sky, they will tailor make a cruise holiday to suit your requirements.

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by American Sky  but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Like cruises? Click here for the latest cruise reviews and the best cruise deals.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 
AmericaCity BreaksDestinationsEurope

The Best Cities for Christmas Shopping Breaks

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Christmas shopping is always a good excuse for a getaway. You can even justify the cost of the trip, by the savings you make! From London to New York, Berlin to Barcelona, check out five of the best cities for Christmas shopping breaks and get planning!

 

London

With sterling so low against the euro there has never been a better time to hit Oxford Street! Over 2km in length, all the top high street stores are here, including Primark’s flagship store. Oxford Street is also home to John Lewis (famous for it’s amazing Christmas adds) and Selfridges, both of which are worth going for their window displays alone. I also think it is nice to shop in places that we don’t have here in Ireland, at least there will be some unique gifts under the tree! London is definitely one of the best cities for Christmas shopping and with great flight options from all Irish airports, you can fly over on Saturday morning, come home Sunday night and still have two full days shopping!
 

 

 
Covent Garden is a must for quirky souvenirs and trendy boutiques and Bond Street is the best for designer shopping. If the weather is against you, don’t worry, you can always pop into Westfield Shopping Centre. One of Europe’s largest shopping malls, this has 250 shops and 70 places to dine! Of course no visit to London would be complete without a trip to Harrods in Knightsbridge. 

Top 5 cities for Christmas shopping
 
Check flights here

 
Check hotels here

 

 

Rome

Unlike some of Europe’s big shopping cities, Rome isn’t full of department stores. One of the great things I love are the boutiques. The Via del Corso has most of the familiar high street stores, but don’t neglect the side streets! You will find lots of Italian shoe shops, jewellery and clothing, at very reasonable prices and with different stock to what you will find at home.
 

 
Make sure you visit the Via Condotti too, you will see all the top designers here including Prada, Fendi, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. If you are not in a position to purchase, don’t worry, it is worth going to window shop. Many shops still close at lunchtime from 1pm-3pm, so it’s the perfect city to enjoy some nice Italian food over a leisurely lunch. Save the sight seeing for night time when Rome’s remarkable buildings are illuminated for the Christmas season.
 
Rome Christmas Market
Check flights hereCheck hotels here  

 

 
New York

Without a doubt, New York is one of the world’s best cities for Christmas shopping. Watching the tree at Rockefeller centre illuminated with the ice skating rink in front, it is magical. I love wandering through Central Park in winter time and ogling at the window displays in Macys and Bloomingdales.
 

 
Plan to spend at least a half day in Macys, check out the bargains in Chinatown and visit the designer shops on Fifth Avenue. Early risers will enjoy Century 21 (opens from 7.30am) and the 24 hour Apple store. If you have time, take the trip to the outlets at Woodbury Common or Jersey Gardens.

Top 5 cities for Christmas shopping

 

Check flights here

 

Check hotels here

Read: My Top 25 Things to do in New York
 

 

Barcelona

Contrary to what you might think, Barcelona is a great choice for Christmas shopping, it is home to over 35,000 shops! The pedestrianised Las Ramblas is one of the world’s most iconic streets. Witnessing the street artists perform and stopping for some tapas along the way, is all part of the Barcelona shopping experience.
 

 
Spanish brands like Zara, Desigual and Custo have flagship stores around Passeig de Gracia and Diagonal Mar, and prices are about 20% lower than in Ireland. If you are looking for some trendy boutiques, head for the Gothic quarter, and you will find some cool tapas bars here to stop for lunch too.
 
cities for christmas shopping
 Check flights here
 
Check hotels here  

 

Berlin

A Christmas market break seems like the perfect way to see some of Europe’s top cities, while enjoying the festivities. There are so many cities to choose from, Budapest, Prague, Krakow or Vienna are amongst the favourites. However, Berlin has 50 different markets – staggering isn’t it? Enjoy some mulled wine and carol singers, as you shop the market stalls for hand made trinkets.
 

 
Of course Berlin now rivals Paris and Rome in the  shopping stakes, so make sure you check out Kurfurstendamm, Berlin’s longest boulevard, which is lined with high street stores and designer shops. With one of Europe’s largest selection of Christmas markets as well as top high street and designer shops, Berlin is one of Europe’s best cities for Christmas shopping. For more tips and tricks on visiting Berlin, check out my city guide to Berlin here.
 

Top 5 cities for Christmas shopping
 
Check flights here
 
Check hotels here 

 

 
Like Christmas market breaks? See Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets here.

Like City breaks? See my best city break destinations here

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert

 
Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 16th April 2019

Best Travel Deals

In my best travel deals this week I have last minute holidays from €233, a family trip to Legoland, a Mediterranean sailing sale, luxury for less in Mauritius, a super cruise deal and an early booking offer to Lisbon for Patricks weekend.

 

Best last minute:

Spend a week in sunny Puerto Rico for only €233 on the 26th of April. Price includes flights and a seven-night stay in the popular Babalu apartments.

View offer here

 

 

 

Best cruise:

Save a whopping €405 on this amazing Greek Islands, Croatia and Montenegro cruise in August. Price of €1210 includes flights, a seven-night cruise on Norwegian Star and your choice of two of the following add-ons – premium drinks, WiFi, speciality dining or shore excursion credit!  

See more here

 

 

 

Best family deal:

Bring the kids to Legoland this summer. This super deal from Travalue includes flights and a two-night stay in the Holiday Inn Express Slough, with breakfast and  two-day Legoland park tickets. Price of €269 per person is based on a family of 2 Adults & 2 children travelling from Dublin on 08th July 2019.
 
View offer here
 

 

 

 

Best long haul deal:

 
The All-Inclusive Veranda Pointe aux Biches in Mauritius is a regular favourite in my best travel deals. Imagine a hotel where you are encouraged to go barefoot 😍.  This laid-back luxurious hotel is highly rated on tripadvisor and with all meals and drinks included in the price, it is also superb value. Price for flights, transfers and a seven-night, all-inclusive stay is only €1389.
 
See more here

 

 

 

Best summer sun:

 
G Adventures have a Mediterranean Sailing Sale on at the moment, with 25% off all summer sailing trips booked before the 24th of April. Their 8 day Croatia sailing trip is only €659 or sail from Santorini to Mykonos on a 52ft yacht for only €862! Discover hidden gems, swim in the sea before breakfast and dine on freshly caught seafood every day – it sounds like heaven!
 
See more here

 

 

 

Best early booking offer:

 
I’m a firm believer in having a trip to look forward to and it’s even better when you bag a bargain! Spend St Patricks Weekend in Lisbon next year for only €183! This amazing early booking offer includes direct flights and a three-night stay in the centrally located 8-Downtown Suites.
 
View flights here €70pp

View hotel here €113pp

 

 

 

Best staycation:

 
Take a trip to Game of Thrones country over the June bank holiday weekend. Enjoy an overnight stay in the 4* Radisson Blu Hotel Belfast for only €81 per room, on Sunday the 2nd of June.
 
See more here

 

 

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

Travel News and ReviewsTravel Tips

How to Pay For Flights With Avios

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Hallelujah! You can now pay for flights with Avios! I am so excited by this new initiative from AerClub, it really is a game changer.

 

Are you clocking up your Avios balance with no real plan on how to spend them? Is your Avios balance so low that you think it’s worthless? Or are you still not convinced about the benefits of collecting Avios? If you answered yes to any, or all of those questions, this new initiative from AerClub, ‘Pay with Avios’, will change the way you feel about Avios forever! It doesn’t matter if you have only accumulated a few hundred Avios, you can still use them to pay for Aer Lingus flights with Avios. In one simple transaction you can use your Avios to pay for flights online or via the Aer Lingus app. 

Hopefully by now we all know that there are many ways to collect Avios and how we can collect them for free on everyday spend. Let’s face it it’s not often we get something for nothing anymore, but now you can! There are new partners joining all the time, making it easier and easier to accumulate Avios. However, I am not so sure we are all masters at spending them! I have been collecting Avios for a few years and despite nearly spending them on a few occasions, I have accumulated almost 70,000 Avios. I had planned to use them to upgrade US flights to business class, but this never materialised. I have heard similar stories from many people. I am sure there are lots of you out there with Avios balances and no idea what to spend them on – well not anymore! 

pay for aer lingus flights with avios

How to Pay for Aer Lingus Flights with Avios:

I checked out flights to Malaga on the Aer Lingus website and I could’t believe how easy it was to pay for flights with Avios. Various pay options are shown on screen automatically, once you are logged in to your account and you have sufficient Avios balance in your AerClub account. Your discount options will depend on your Avios balance and the total cost of your journey. You can use Avios to discount your entire basket price when booking, including flights, baggage, lounge passes, seats & meals.

You can see from the screen shot below that I can use 3275 Avios to save €23 off my flight, 7075 Avios to save €46, 12625 Avios to save €77 or 42,000 to save €231. You simply click on which ever amount to want to use and it will be deducted from your flight cost.

pay for flights with Avios

Another great benefit is if you pay for Aer Lingus flights with Avios, you will still earn Avios and Tier Credits on the booking! You can also use Avios to pay for CityJet, ASL or Aer Lingus Regional flights booked on AerLingus.com 

 

Book Aer Lingus flight here

 

Are there any times that I can not Pay with Avios?

1. If you want to pay for Aer Lingus flights with Avios – you need to do it when you are making a booking on AerLingus.com. You cannot pay with Avios over the phone to the Aer Lingus call centre.

2. If there is a codeshare segment on your booking, or if you have a group booking ( 7 passengers or more ), you are unable to use the ‘Pay with Avios’ system.

3. You cannot use Avios to pay for the addition of other passengers to an existing booking, or to discount the purchase price of flights in existing bookings.

4. You are unable to use Avios to pay for ancillaries such as DAA Fast track.

For a full list of Ts&Cs click here.

pay for flights with avios

 

Still not joined AerClub?

If by any chance you have not joined AerClub yet – now is your chance!  It is so easy to join, simply click here. By joining AerClub you will enjoy the benefits of being part of a global network of partners and you can pay for flights with Avios! You can also use Avios to pay for hotels, car hire and travel experiences.


 

Like this post? You might like:

 

10 Ways To Collect Avios

5 Ways To Spend Avios

Collect Avios with Avis

How to collect Avios at Kildare Village

 

This post featuring how to pay for flights with Avios, was sponsored by Avios, but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 
AmericaFamily HolidaysLong HaulTravel Tips

10 Things You Need To Know About Universal Orlando Resort Before You Book

10_The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

When visiting Orlando’s numerous theme parks, time is off the essence! Make sure you check out my top tips and find out all you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort before you go.

 

1. You need to visit all 3 Parks in Universal Orlando Resort

The first thing you need to know about Universal Orlando, is that you need AT LEAST three days to see the parks properly. There are three parks in Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and the new Volcano Bay Water Theme Park. There are great rides in all three parks, so it is impossible to recommend one over another – you need to visit them all! 

Orlando with the Travel Expert

There is a Harry Potter ride in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal Studios is home to Transformers, one of my personal favourites, The Mummy, the one that scared me the most, as well as the Simpsons Ride and Dispicable Me Minion Mayhem. However The Incredible Hulk, Jurassic Park River Adventure and some great water rides, are located in Islands of Adventure. See more on the best rides in Universal Studios here.

Of course rollercoasters and simulator rides are all great, but on a roasting hot summer’s day, is there anything better than visiting a water park? Universal’s Volcano Bay boasts over 30 unique experiences and 19 different attractions, including it’s own real sand beach! Now do you see why you need to visit all three parks?
 

 

2. You need to book tickets before you go.

Booking tickets before you go is a golden rule when visiting Universal Orlando resort. Not only will you save yourself a fortune, but you will also be able to secure combination tickets that you can not buy locally. My favourite ticket is the Universal 3 Park Explorer ticket. This gives you unlimited access for 14 days to Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. You will also have access to selected live entertainment venues in Universal’s CityWalk and you will get a free Tapu Tapu, a waterproof wearable, that allows you to hold your place in a ‘virtual line’ at Volcano Bay. 

Attraction Tickets Direct offer many more combination tickets, so if you want to visit other parks, they have a wide selection to choose from. I love their exclusive Universal and Disney Combo ticket, or if you really want to see all the parks, opt for the Orlando Freedom Ticket Ultimate. This allows you to visit all three Universal Parks, six Disney Parks as well as Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Aquatica and Legoland. I should also point out that Attraction Tickets Direct send you real park tickets (not vouchers) so there is no queueing when you arrive, just sail through the entrance doors! Another thing you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort tickets, is that a €25 deposit secures your booking. So even if you are planning for 2020, you can book now and pay the balance 6 weeks before departure! 

View Universal Tickets here

 

3. The NEW Harry Potter Ride looks like the best one yet!

If you haven’t visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you are in for a real treat. I was blown away when I saw it a few years ago. Diagon Alley, Hogwarts and the two Harry Potter rides were incredible, but the new Harry Potter ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, is supposed to be their best one yet! Watch the video below and you will get some great insight into what to expect, when it opens on the 13th of June.

the best theme park tickets to buy in orlando

They actually planted 1200 trees so you will ride through a real forest. You can choose whether you want to be in the driver’s seat of the motorbike, or in the sidecar. Each seat offers a different experience – so you will HAVE to ride this at least twice! As you ride into the Forbidden Forest, at a mind boggling 50 miles per hour, you will come face to face with some of the creatures from the movies, including Hagrid’s three-headed dog, as well as experiencing a scary drop into the Devil’s Snare – I’m not sure I would be too keen on that part! This looks like it will not only one of Universal’s Studios best rides, but it could be the best ride in Orlando – watch this space.

 

4. Stay at a Universal Hotel and reap the benefits!

Staying in one of Universal’s eight hotels (one is due in 2020), is not as expensive as you might think. With the launch of the Endless Summer Resort Surfside Inn & Suites in August 2019, and a further value hotel in 2020, there are plenty of hotels to suit all budgets. Attraction Tickets Direct offer excellent rates on all hotels, so you can book the hotel and park tickets in one simple transaction. 

There are so many benefits of staying in a Universal hotel, but my personal favourite is getting early access to the parks, before anyone else. If you are travelling in peak season, this is a Godsend, particularly for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Volcano Bay. There will be no need to squabble over sun loungers, get to Volcano Bay early and you will have your base for the day!

Other benefits include free entrance to CityWalks’s best venues and priority seating at selected restaurants in the parks and at CityWalk. You can also charge any meals or purchases to your room, so you don’t need to carry cash, and any merchandise that you buy, is delivered straight to your hotel.

 

View Universal Hotels here

 

5. If  you stay in one of Universal’s Premier hotels you get FREE Express Passes

If you can afford to stay in one of Universal’s premier hotels, Lowes Portofino Bay, the Hard Rock Hotel or Lowes Royal Pacific, you will get a FREE Universal Express Unlimited Pass, which lets you skip the regular lines at some the most popular attractions. I stayed in Lowes Portofino Bay and it is superb.

The price of a Unlimited Express passes for a family of 2 adults and 2 children, starts is $89,99 per person, per day x 4 = $359.96. So that €200 per night you think you are saving, by staying in a cheaper hotel elsewhere, may not be worth it, particularly you going to buy the express passes. I highly recommend you to stay in one of the Universal Hotels, even for a few days, so you can avail of these amazing benefits.  

 

View Universal Hotel's here

 

6. You can use the facilities in ALL Universal Hotels.

What you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort, is that you can use the facilities in all Universal hotels if you are staying in a Prime Value, Preferred or Premier Universal hotel. That’s all Universal hotels except the new Endless Summer Resorts  (Surfside or Dockside). So if you opt for a Prime Value hotel, you can still enjoy an Italian meal on the piazza in Lowes Portofino. You can also slide down the 260-foot long water slide and listen to the latest tunes via the underwater sound system, in the Hard Rock hotel. Why not listen to a live opera performance or enjoy the Roman aqueduct-themed water slide, at Lowes Portofino Hotel? Fancy taking the family bowling? You can do that at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort! Make sure you visit Bar 17 Bistro in Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Universal’s first rooftop bar. Expect fine cocktails and tasty Wagyu beef sliders, from this stylish hang-out. Top tip: Go at night time and enjoy spectacular views of the Krakatau Volcano erupting at Volcano Bay.  

 

View Universal Hotels here

 

7. Plan your meals – check out my top dining tips for Universal Orlando

I know this might sound a little crazy, but planning your meals in advance is a great tip. Trust me, the queues are longer at lunch time in some restaurants, than what they are for the rides! If you avoid the peak lunch time rush from 12-3, not only will you have a much better dining experience, but you will also find that the rides are much quieter at that time too. Its a win-win! Have lunch at 1130am or 330pm instead and you will love the benefits! Alternatively if you fancy a leisurely lunch, pop outside the park to CityWalk, the restaurants are far superior and less crowded.

 

8. There is a Child Swap facility and shorter Single Rider lines.

If you are travelling with small kids, that are unable to go on some of the rides, use the child swap system. This allows one person to stay behind with a child while the other members go on the ride. When they return, the remaining family member can go on the ride without queueing. 

Another good tip is to use the single rider line, it is always the shortest. If you are happy to go on a ride alone, choose this line and save a huge amount of queueing time. This is great when you are looking to experience a ride for the second time and don’t necessarily need to have your partner beside you to share the experience.

 

9. You need more time than you think to explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

As well as two great rides (and soon to be three), there is so much to see and do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Make sure you walk through the ‘magic wall’ to the platform 9 and 3/4, before boarding the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. The train journey is a replica of the one Harry took in the movie and the outward and return have different experiences. If you can, try to take both. Hogswarts castle is mesmerising as I loved strolling around Diagon Alley, the attention to detail is incredible. Make sure to taste some butter beer in the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ cafe too. 

A visit to Ollivanders is one of the top things to do in Universal Orlando. This immersive experience was one of my personal highlights. A child is chosen at random from the audience to receive a wand. It’s extremely well thought out and a great show – not to be missed. If you are not lucky enough to be chosen, don’t worry, you can buy a wand in the shop afterwards. They are beautifully made and are a great souvenir to bring home. They also have interactive wands which work in various locations throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You are given a map with clues, kids will love it! 

TOP TIP: Get to the park early, ideally before it opens, and go straight to Ollivanders, the queues can get extremely long throughout the day. You can read more about my time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.

 

10. Make sure you download the Universal Orlando App

The Universal Orlando app is not only great for planning before you go, but it also helps you when you are inside the park. You can see show times, the latest wait time for rides and access maps of the park. You can even use it to be pre-book a ride time on the Fast and Furious and Jimmy Fallon and join a virtual queue! All you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort is in their app.  My top tip is to set an alert for your favourite ride, it will tell you when the waiting times are low. It also lets you pre-order your meals in selected restaurants, so you can skip the queue when you arrive!  

Orlando with the Travel Expert

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post, 10 Things You Need To Know Before Booking Universal Orlando Resort,was sponsored by Attraction Tickets Direct but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 
Travel

Jetline Cruise Launches in Ireland With All Inclusive Cruise and Stay Holidays from €1139

cruise

From the Mediterranean to Mexico, Alaska to Antartica, Jetline Cruise offers a wide range of exclusive cruise holidays, with all cruise companies, to destinations all over the world. 

 

Did you hear that Jetline Cruise have launched in Ireland? For cruise fans, this is a game changer! Forget about your run-of-the-mill seven day Med cruise – Jetline Cruise will include three nights in Lake Garda afterwards! Many of us want to get away for longer than seven days, or extend a seven-day cruise with a few days in a city or resort. Jetline Cruise have listened to their customers feedback and have customised a huge range of bespoke cruise holidays, that are unique to the Irish market. Not only do they offer exclusive cruise holidays, but their prices are incredible too!

jetline cruise

Jetline Cruise have also broken the boundaries in terms of destinations. They have a long standing relationship with all of the major cruise lines and offer cruise holidays all over the world, including Alaska, Asia, Antartica, Hawaii. They even offer cruises to the Galapagos Islands! Instead of booking a Caribbean cruise with a stay in Miami (they do that too by the way), why not combine a stay in Barbados with a cruise around the Grenadines and some of the smaller Caribbean islands, on a luxury tall ship?

It’s not all about far flung destinations, they also have a super all-inclusive cruise and stay in Majorca from €1139! These are just just a sample of the great holidays from Jetline Cruise, check out their website for lots more cruise deals from Ireland. I loved searching the Jetline Cruise website and I was delighted to be asked to choose three of my favourites, to give you a flavour of what Jetline Cruise can offer.

 

Jetline Cruise

 

Lake Garda & Royal Caribbean Cruise from €1339 Including Flights, 4* Hotels & Transfers

Not only is this my favourite Mediterranean cruise itinerary, but you also get to spend time in Lake Garda and Venice too! Jetline Cruise really knew what they were doing when they combined Royal Caribbean’s Greek Isles and Croatia cruise, with such great Italian cities. I have holidayed in Lake Garda twice and loved it and this super deal includes a three night stay there, which is just enough time to catch the highlights. You will then travel by 1st class rail to Venice, where you will spend the night, before starting your cruise the following day.

jetline cruise

Visit the Croatian cities of Split and Dubrovnik before cruising to the bucket list island of Santorini and to the mainland port of Katakolon, before returning to Venice for your flight home. The cruise itinerary will vary depending on the date you choose, Montenegro, Corfu, Athens, Mykonos and Kefalonia are also possible cruise stops. When you click on the link below, simply scroll down to select the date and itinerary that suits you.

jetline cruise

No matter which cruise itinerary you choose, you will enjoy a fabulous week on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. Rhapsody of the Seas boasts contemporary styling and floor to ceiling windows, that ensure stunning ocean views. There are numerous restaurants on board including their famous steak-house, Chops Grille, Japanese at Izumi and fine dining at Chef’s table. With superb broadway shows, the ShipShape Spa, a choice of swimming pools and eight bars – you may not want to leave!

jetline cruise rhapsody of the seas

Prices start at €1339 which includes flights, transfers, hotel & cruise, departing in October. However Jetline Cruise have secured deals throughout the 2019 and 2020 season. Simply click on the link below and scroll down to find the date that suits you.

 

View Offer Here

 

Tokyo, Mount Fuji Bullet Train & Japan Cruise from €1849 Including Flights, 4* Hotel & Transfers

Japan is so on trend at the moment, the number of visitors to Japan has actually doubled in the last few years. Instagram is full of images of a white tipped Mount Fuji and of blooming Cherry Blossoms and let’s not forget that Japan is hosting the rugby world cup this year. Japan is the country that everyone is talking about and this amazing deal from Jetline Cruise allows you to see all the highlights, without the expensive price tag. The price includes flights, transfers, a three night stay in Tokyo with breakfast, a ride on the rapid Bullet Train, a full day Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi tour and an eight night cruise on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess. You will visit Okinawa, Ishigaki and Taipei before returning to Tokyo for your overnight flight back to Dublin.

jetline cruise japan

The Diamond Princess has recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment and now offers a ‘ Movies under the Stars’ giant screen, a luxury spa and fitness centre as well as a host of entertainment options. If Japanese food is not your thing, don’t worry, Princess Cruises offers a wide selection of dining options including the popular Sabatini’s Italian restaurant which serves up delicious home made pasta dishes.

jetline cruise princess cruises

 

Prices start at €1849 which includes flights, transfers, hotel & cruise, departing in November. However Jetline Cruise have secured deals throughout the 2019 and 2020 season. Simply click on the link below and scroll down to find the date that suits you.

 

New York Stay with Cunard Queen Mary 2 Cruise from €1269 Including Flights, 4* Hotel & Transfers

Imagine cruising into to New York city on the iconic Queen Mary 2! Audrey Hepburn and Clarke Gable have cruised on this luxury liner and now you can too! It is incredible to think that you can cruise on this opulent ship and enjoy a three night stay in New York for only €1269, this has to be one of Jetline Cruises’ best cruise deals! 

jetline cruise to New York

Cunard’s flagship cruise-liner, the Queen Mary 2, was remastered in 2016, with a staggering £90 million makeover. She has all the glitz and glamour associated with traditional cruising, but now has contemporary styling too. Expect fine dining, the best wine cellar at sea, exceptional service and sophisticated shopping.

There are five main dining options on board, all included in the cost of your cruise, as well as two speciality restaurants which incur a charge. Of course no Cunard cruise would be complete without their signature afternoon tea, which incidentally is included in the price of your cruise.

Entertainment is what you would expect from Cunard – world class. From West-End style shows in the grand Royal Court Theatre to string quartets in intimate bars, the choice is yours. The Queen Mary 2 has a full-scale planetarium, famous speakers giving informative presentations, the largest library at sea and a luxury spa. This really is cruising at another level.

jetline cruise to new york

You can choose to cruise from Southampton to New York and fly home direct to Dublin or vice versa. Both have their advantages! Arriving into New York by cruise ship is incredible experience, however if you choose to cruise on the return you won’t have to endure a tiresome over night flight. Both options include a direct flights to or from New York and flights to and from Southampton, a three night stay in a four-star hotel, entrance tickets to the Empire State Building and airport transfers.

 

View Offer Here

 

Although relatively new in Ireland, Jetline Cruise is a multi award winning independent cruise operator, which has been selling cruises for 18 years to 250,000 customers. Their specialist cruise team will be able to advise you of the best cruise to suit your requirements and their product team have created unique cruise holidays, that you won’t find elsewhere! You also have the peace of mind of knowing that Jetline Cruise are licensed and bonded in Ireland, so your booking  is 100% financially protected.  

 

 Visit Jetlinecruise.ie for more details

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Jetline Cruise but all views, as always, are my own.

 

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