Saturday AM

In The Media

My Favourite Travel Hacks As Seen on Saturday AM

Being a savvy traveller is easier than you think, just remember to use some of my favourite travel hacks!

 

Research the weather

Before you book any holiday it is important to gauge what the weather will be like. In the age of constant climate change, the wunderground website is an excellent resource for checking historical weather. It will show you the temperature and rainfall for the same period you are looking to travel in, over the past number of years.  No more guesses, these are real temperatures which should give you the best indication of what the weather will be like, at your chosen destination.

Check in online, prebook seats & meals.

Checking in online will not only save long airport queues but it may ensure you get the best seats available. For airlines like Ryanair, you HAVE to print your boarding passes beforehand, for most other airlines this isn’t necessary. Although I would recommend doing it anyway, to save time when you get to the airport.

Pre book seats where possible, www.seatguru.com is the ‘Tripadvisor’ for seats! Use this website to find out where the best seats are on an aircraft, read honest reviews from travellers who have flown on the same aircraft. If you normally pay for priority boarding with Ryanair, book an exit seat and they will give you priority boarding free! If travelling long haul, pre book specific meals so you will be served first, particularly if it’s a night flight and you want to sleep. I find the vegetarian options are usually the best!

favourite travel hacks

Prebook attraction tickets.

Read travel blogs on the area you are going to, or use TripAdvisor to find out the top things to do in a particular destination. Check the local tourist boards for free activities and for discovery passes. Usually you will find a bulk attraction / city pass is cheaper than paying for each attraction separately. Websites such as Attraction Tickets Direct offer huge discounts for booking in advance and offer real tickets, so you can avoid queuing for tickets at your destination.

Take out car hire excess insurance

Car hire excess is a personal bug bear of mine. When you arrive at an airport, particularly with kids in tow, the car hire companies always insist you take their car hire excess policy, and they usually charge exorbitant rates. You can avoid paying these by taking out a car hire excess insurance policy before you travel. With prices from €2.99 per day instead of €15 per day (approx cost), this is a must have if you are hiring a car abroad. Visit carhireexcess.com for more details.

favourite travel hacks

Travelling with kids

I have many travel tips for travelling with kids but one of my favourites is to invest in light weight hand luggage. Loose the trunkis as soon as your children are able to wheel heavier cases. Kids like wheeling their own cases anyway and if you invest in the best lightweight case available you can save a fortune on checked baggage charges. I tell my kids they can bring whatever fits in their case, this usually works out well when packing! Buy a portable luggage scales and bring it with you to avoid stress of thinking you may be over weight. You can buy them here for less than €10.

If travelling on a city break, choose an early flight home. Once you have checked out of the hotel, the kids will just want to go home and you will spend a fortune trying to amuse them on the last day. The €30 saving you thought you had by coming back on the later flight, believe me you will spend it twice over. For city breaks where there is a lot of walking involved, buy a €20 fold up scooter from Smyths and depending on your weight allowance, leave it behind you if necessary.

Avoid bringing the kitchen sink! Most hotels have baby equipment so you wont have to bring your own. These are not always advertised in brochures, incase 20 families ask for buggies, sterilisers or bottle warmers at the same time. Call or email the hotel before hand and ask them what equipment they have and pre-book if possible.

I wish my kids didn’t need electronic devices to on holidays, but they can be a Godsend! Invest in a Mediashare, it’s a small portable device that creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies and listen to music on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. It is also really compact so much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.

Verbatim 49160 MediaShare Mini Wireless MicroSD Card Reader Black Amazon.co.uk Computers Accessories

 

Use travel apps

If travelling outside the Eurozone, know the exchange rates. This is a common mistake. You arrive tired and although you may have known the currency conversion before you left home, the likelihood is you have forgotten once you arrive. Don’t end up paying huge money for taxis or tipping hotel staff the wrong amount because you don’t know the proper exchange rate. Download the XE currency app – it also works offline (you dont need to be connected to wifi or use roaming).

Tripadvisor app is invaluable when checking restaurant or attraction reviews. It will also send you push notifications about highly rated restaurants or attractions close by. Many people don’t realise it but Google Maps can also be used offline. Download your route plans before you leave home and use them offline on holidays. Google translate is another excellent tool, you can use your phone’s camera to photograph menus, sign posts etc, and it will translate them to English for you.

favourite travel hacks  

Photocopy or scan important documents.

It is not something we like to think about but is it possible that you could be a victim of a crime on holidays, or simply loose your passport or other documents. Passport, insurance details, credit cards, flight tickets – all of which are much easier to replace if you have copies of the originals safely stored. Alternatively, store the scanned documents in the ‘Cloud’, using Google Drive (15GB of free space and part of your Gmail account), Dropbox which gives you 2GB of free storage space or an app like Evernote. These digital copies are stored safely online and available by logging into from any computer in the world.

 

Have you any favourite travel hacks? Comment below, I would love to hear them!

 

Like Travel Tips? See more here!

 

Sarah

In The Media

Romantic Holidays As Seen on TV3 Saturday AM – 6th February 2016

TV3 Sat AM

Love is in the air for this weeks Saturday AM travel slot. We discussed romantic holidays including Ireland’s top hotels, a weekend break in Florence and a magical trip to the Maldives.

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Ashford Castle

Not only is Ashford Castle Ireland’s best hotel but it was also voted the world’s No 1 hotel in 2015 by one of the industry’s leading luxury networks – Virtuoso. €75 million has been invested into the hotel over the past two years and there is no doubt this 13th century castle offers something unique to its guests. As you drive in under the impressive gates, through the golf course and across the moat – you will be blown away before you even set foot inside the hotel. Once inside the attention to detail is extraordinary. Complete with excellent service and the finest furnishings, when it comes to romantic hotels in Ireland, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

You can choose one of the many sporting activities including golf, falconry, horse riding, fishing or spend the afternoon relaxing at the spa – you will be spoilt for choice here. There is also an excellent choice of dining available. Choose fine dining in the famous George V Dining Room or casual dining in their Summer Bistro or Dungeon restaurant.

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

As it is a leap year, Ashford are offering a “Leap of Faith’ package for ladies who would like to propose. Price of €563 per person includes a two night stay with breakfast, a five course fine dining meal, couples spa treatments and a visit to the in house cinema to see the movie Leap Year. It doesn’t end there! During the movie you can arrange for a secret proposal to happen on the big screen. This will be arranged by the staff to suit your individual taste. And of course you will be given a bottle of champagne to celebrate!

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

There are also special offers available during February & March which would be ideal as Valentines day gifts. Two nights BB and one evening meal from €285 per person or two nights BB and two evening meals plus afternoon tea from €380 per person. For more details click here.

Monart

The difference between Monart and other luxury hotels is that Monart is Ireland’s only destination Spa property. It offers a unique adults-only environment and was recently awarded ‘runner up best spa retreat in the world’, by Conde Nast Traveller. It was also named as Ireland’s best destination spa for four years in a row. If you are looking for a spa break, there is no doubt – Monart is the best!

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

All spa products at Monart are 100% natural. They use Pevonia Botanica, the award-winning natural skincare range and Voya, 100% organic seaweed body therapies. The deluxe accommodation and excellent cuisine are also top class and as Monart is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here.

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

Monart have limited availability for Valentine’s weekend with packages from €185 per person including breakfast, evening meal and full access to the 2000 square foot Thermal suite throughout your stay.

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

Alternatively they have over night stays available throughout the year from €149 per person – a perfect Valentines day gift. For more details click here.

Florence

Florence is Italy’s most romantic city and must rival Paris for being Europe’s city of love. Smaller and more compact than Paris it offers a more intimate feel. It is so easy to navigate and you should manage to see most of the highlights in a weekend break.

Florence by The Travel Expert

The Ponte Vecchio bridge is lined with jewellery shops just asking for the ring to be chosen. The city oozes style so its not surprising that Gucci and Roberto Cavalli were born here! The Uffizi Gallery houses one of the largest collections of art in the world and the Cathedral (Duomo) is one of the most impressive you are likely to see anywhere.

Duomo, Florence by The Travel Expert

If you have the time, a trip into the Tuscan countryside will only add to the romance. Choose from Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti – all a short distance from Florence. I found a great deal departing on the 7th of May for only €215 including flights and three nights hotel accommodation. The perfect gift for your loved one on Valentines day! Click here for more details.  

Maldives

The beaches are white powder, the temperatures are approximately 30 degrees all year round and each resort is on its own island. The word paradise automatically springs to mind! Not surprisingly the Maldives are one of the most romantic places to holiday.

Kandolhu Island, Maldives by The Travel Expert

There are almost 1200 islands spread out over 1000 km of which 100 are tourist islands and 200 are locally inhabited. Even the airport is on a separate island as it is literally a runway in the ocean! Renowned as an underwater paradise each island is surrounded by its own reef which is perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving. Many rooms or villas are situated over the ocean with direct access to the sea. The atmosphere is so relaxed that even in the 5* resorts, a beach dress and flip flops are the norm at night. So ladies, no need to pack ten pairs of shoes!

Kandolhu, Maldives, The ultimate honeymoon by The Travel Expert

Normally once you land you will transfer to a sea plane to bring you to the island resort. As everything needs to be imported, items can be expensive so I would recommend going all inclusive. Be careful though as some all inclusive resorts will only allow you use the buffet restaurant and you will have to pay extra to use the a la carte restaurants on the island. I can recommend Kuramathi, an excellent 4*+ resort who offer a ‘select’ all inclusive package, that includes nine a la carte restaurants. Prices from €2745 per person include flights and seven nights accommodation in a jacuzzi beach villa, with sea plane transfers and the select all inclusive dining package. For more information click here.  Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert talks about the Maldives on Saturday AM

If you want to go 5*, Kandolhu has four a la carte restaurants and even your own wine cooler stocked with 30 bottles of wine in your villa! Will you manage to get through them all though…. 

I hope I gave you some ideas of how to surprise your loved on on Valentines day or at some stage in the future. For more ideas read my blog post – the top 10 romantic destinations.

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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