Travel Wallet – Ted Baker Menicon Case

Travel Wallet – Ted Baker Menicon Case

Hello Lovelies,

I wanted to show you my new favourite thing. 

This neon coral Menicon mini Ipad case from Ted Baker is serving its purpose as my new travel wallet.


This isn’t the first time I have used something for other means but the Menicon case is patent making it durable, the perfect size to slip in to your handbag, sturdy enough to keep your passport and documents safe and bright enough for you to fish it out of your travel bag in a hurry.

Inside it is lightly padded and has a thin slip pocket inside. The Menicon’s dimensions are a respectable  H15.5cm x W 22.5cm x D 1.5cm





I have previously used leather travel wallets and nylon ones but they are all a bit samey samey so when I spotted this beauty it had to be mine as I am currently using another ipad mini case which is looking worse for wear!

My travel wallet with Mr Tramp’s boring travel wallet from Boots



Not only is it awesome, it was also only £18 in the Ted Baker sale.




What do you keep your travel documents in on your journeys?



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Travel : Bargain Packing Cubes

Travel : Bargain Packing Cubes

Hello Lovelies, 

I have some bargain packing cubes to tell you all about today!

I recently picked up a 4 pack of packing cubes from Ikea. Available in pink and navy. Each 4 pack is £5.

When you compare that to the market leaders from Eagle Creek which are around the £30+ mark or the Ebay copies for about £10, then the £5 sets from Ikea are just perfect.

The Upptacka set contains 4 polyester zippered bags which come in 4 different sizes including a shoe bag.

If you are not familiar with packing cubes, they are a god send for organising and packing. Not just for travels in your case but they are good for storing your seasonal clothes such as bikinis over winter or hats and scarfs over summer. Safe, secure and neat in one place. With 2 colours available,  you can colour coordinate with your partner or children so you know who has what.

In suit cases, you could pack each out fit in to its own cube so you can just grab and go, keep small items together, straighteners and tongs with their unruly cables or keep your dirty washing separate. They are perfect for camping or room sharing as you can just grab your wash bag and your days clothes in the cube and head to the shower without lugging clothes around.



Small – 25cm x 16cm
Medium – 33cm x 25cm
Large – 35cm x 25cm
Shoes – 43cm x 23cm

I always use packing cubes in my travel bags to put my electric cords in as the cubes are slim line and their soft structure means they can accommodate odd shaped items.


I do have some Eagle Creek packing cubes and they are incredibly well made but getting hold of them in the UK for a reasonable price is really hard so I am always on the look out for alternatives without resorting to the poor quality ebay jobbies.


If you travel a lot or are looking to get more organised, these are for you. At £5 you can’t go wrong!

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Travel – My Dream Cruise!

Travel – My Dream Cruise!

Hello Lovelies, 

I mentioned in my last travel post that I am going to Morocco in Spring when in fact that is only half correct. Mother Tramp and I are going abroad as it is her first foreign holiday since Dad passed away. We both have the time booked off work and although we had both been settled on Morocco, I was looking at options around this and thought a cruise might be more special for her. Fred Olsen had  a cruise to Spain and Morocco. 
Then I just had to go and look around the website further didn’t I?
Petra is at the top of my must visit destinations. It is a UNESCO world heritage site in Jordan, so when I saw that a cruise to Egypt could not only include shore excursions to the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings, 4X4 sand dune adventures AND a trip to Petra that was me sold, right there and then. A cruise was the way forward.
 
 
The Embark for Egypt cruise has 11 stops over 24 days and prices start from £1549 for a 2015 sailing. Not only would we visit Egypt, we would start our voyage in Spain, on to Malta and then we’d sail through the Suez canal, a man made engineering wonder of the world, then visit Oman, Jordan and Dubai.
 
 
I have never been on a cruise before and I was amazed to see that on board the Balmoral, the Fred Olsen cruise liner for the Egypt adventure, has a swimming pool, spa, library, shops and lots of entertainment options!
 
It has everything we are both looking for in one combined holiday. Sun, Sea, relaxation and sight seeing!  I wish I had explored cruises before now.
You can find all details of the cruise HERE along with some excellent, highly tempting last minute cruise deals
Now, all I have to do is get over my fear of boats and convince Mother Tramp to raid her piggy bank – wish me luck!

 

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* Post written in conjunction with Fred Olsen Cruises. All words and thoughts are my own.
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Travel Planning – Part 3 – My 2014 plans

Travel Planning – Part 3 – My 2014 plans

 

Well after discussing how to get organised during your planning and my top websites to use as tools, I thought it was only fair to tell you about my holiday plans this year and how I booked them.
For our main holiday this year, Mr Tramp and I are going to New York in December  flying with British Airways from Newcastle to JFK and staying in a 4* Marriott property. With 7 nights of our total stay completely free thanks to loyalty points.

I am always checking flights and routes we are likely to travel so I have a pretty rough idea of how much flights usually cost so when I am beginning to plan my travels, I know if a good deal crops up. It means I never have to wait for sales, I can jump on a bargain when I see it. On average flights with BA, my carrier of choice range from £1100 to £1300 return for 2 people to JFK via London Heathrow. The airport codings are NCL – LHR – JFK for anyone that likes to play the 3 letter game.
 
 
 I booked the flights in March for a bargainous sum of £900 which are at least £200 cheaper than usual. We could have flown from Manchester for a similar price with a US Airways but by the time we factored in diesel costs + parking + more importantly time, it wasn’t worth it so  when this deal cropped up for Newcastle we snatched it up.
Because we had saved the money on the flight, I chose to reserve our seats on the LHR to JFK leg and return. I paid extra for this but we thought it was worth it as we are quite specific for our flight requirements so it’s no big deal. I am a British Airways Executive Club member with a household account so I will be collecting the miles from this trip on both of our flights. I checked the seats our via Seat Guru before I booked them. I didn’t pay to reserve the seats from NCL to LHR because it’s only a short flight and you can usually always guarantee to be seated together.
 
British Airways is my carrier of choice because it serves a vast majority of the destinations we are interested in, with Newcastle acting as a feeder airport for Heathrow. We use BA because we know it will be a guaranteed level of service and quality. We know there will be meals, drinks, entertainment and attentive service. Of course this is the same as most other airlines but we stick with BA to maximise our point building. Every few journeys, we rack up enough miles for a European city break for free. You can’t complain with free! 
Like I mentioned in my last post, we also use BA because I can convert my Tesco points in to BA Avios miles and use their Gate 365 shopping portal to earn extra points from my online shopping!
As I am a proud points hoarder, the hotel is paid for by Marriott loyalty points. The hotel we chose would have cost us £1,400 for 7 nights. That is expensive! As a Marriott member we have the added luxury of an automatic room upgrade at check in and the benefit of hotel lounge access which provides a complimentary breakfast, cocktail hour, tea time nibbles and drinks. As most American hotels provide Room Only, anything that can be had for free for breakfast saves time and money as you don’t need to find anything.
 
At the airport itself, we will be enjoying the BA lounge in London Heathrow for the short time between our connecting flights, which means we will be able to have a little bit of peace and quiet, a coffee and a comfy seat before our 7hr flight over to New York. In Heathrow Terminal 5, there are no other paid-for lounges. If your air ticket does not include lounge access (Business Class upwards) then collecting air miles to get status is a great way to get access as a frequent economy flyer can move up the loyalty club ranks to reap the benefits.
So there you go, a little insight in to our main travel plans for this year. Mr T is also in the middle of planning our holidays next year – I am going to Morocco and then we are both going on another road trip through America….. that is going to take a whole load of planning!
 
If this post and the previous one has taught you anything about planning your own travels away, that is to join loyalty schemes. You never know what you will get free!
 
There is currently a British Airways fare sale on until July 8th – Hurry!
 
 




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Travel Planning – Part 2 – Online Planning + Research

If you are wanting to plan a holiday off the beaten track or outside of the reaches of the high street travel agent, it can be a daunting task the first time you go it alone. There are thousands, if not millions of hotel, flight and holiday websites out there and choosing the right one for you can be a minefield so I have put together my top websites for planning holidays.

I always plan my holidays from scratch myself. Start to finish we can make our holiday 110% suited to us. I am not disputing that package holidays aren’t great… they are, but they don’t cover all the areas or things we like to see and do.


Expedia

Not only a holiday booking website but also a source of inspiration for those early planning stages. Bargain prices, reliable service and the added bonus of being able to earn Quidco cash back AND Nectar points (See my handy hints below). The great thing about Expedia is you can book everything in once place, from flights to hotels to hire cars. Not only is it a site I would always trust, when you book flights + hotel together you are covered by the ATOL guarantee which along with your travel insurance, forms a great peace of mind.

If I am visiting a city for the first time and I am unsure where is the best location to be based, I generally search for the most expensive 4+5* hotels in the city via the map feature, find out where they are and then work around that area within my budget – you never get a 5* hotel in a rough area, do you

Skyscanner

My favourite website for flights. You can check the whole month instead of specific dates which is very handy if you are not constrained to going on set dates. You can make some huge savings just by going a few days earlier or later than planned.

Skyscanner shows all the major airlines across routes and you can see the various suggested routings for your trip. With selectable options such as direct only and a price limiter, you can customise your searches.

Tripadvisor

Not only is this the holy grail of hotel review sites, the country specific forums are an absolute god send. If you are visiting a country or city for the first time and really want some authentic experiences off the beaten tourist path, jump on the forums and find out what the local experts recommend. From the best bars to small museums to that restaurant you just need to visit, a Tripadvisor forum has it all. There are many help posts in the forums which are very useful for the first time visit to a place you are unfamiliar with, including how to get to your hotel from the airport or train station.

Once you have found your shortlist of hotels via Expedia, you can hop on over here to check out reviews and guest photos. It helps to be in the know. If it is a beach resort and you want to be close to the main resort, a review will help you narrow down which block to request on booking, or you want a great view from your city centre high rise, a review or forum request can help you big time.

Google Custom Maps

We all know how to view Google maps right? Did you also know you can make your own custom map? By creating a customised map, you can plan road trips with points of interest or walking distances between shops and museums in a city. This is perfect for pulling together a daily schedule or finding way points along the journey.

I also use it for planning my work load visiting clients as I can work out which is the most logical route to visit everyone!

This is Mr Tramp’s favourite tool as you can build your layers to cover different days and modes of transport / routes.


British Airways + Avios

I am loyal BA flyer, where possible I use them for the vast majority of my flights. From doing this I have a loyalty card with a stock pile of miles on there which are great for upgrades or even free flights via the Avios air miles system.

Not only do I build miles from flying but I can convert my Tesco Clubcard points in to BA miles and also use their online shopping portal to also boost my air miles ready for redemption time.

As I do not live in the radius of an airport with good international flights, I find the BA feeder service from Newcastle to Heathrow to be very handy as I can literally go anywhere in the world from my doorstep.

Flyer Talk

My husband will confirm this but I have an unhealthy obsession with this website. From checking out great tips for boosting air miles or bargain secret flight sales, Flyer Talk always plays a big part in my holiday planning as it often serves as inspiration.

Divided in to many different subsections you can join in forums for your favourite hotel chain, frequent flyer club, offer savvy travel tips or just drool over all the beautiful trip reports from far flung places.

I have learned many handy hints, tips and tricks from using Flyer Talk that have served me in good stead not only for flying but for travelling and working away from home.

Seat Guru

Probably a self-explanatory website but when it comes to booking flights, Seat Guru is very useful. If you can’t decide whether to take those last middle 2 seats on a 12hr flight at a bargain price or pay extra to upgrade to economy premium, Seat Guru will help you out. With facts, figures and layouts of all major carriers and their equipment, it is always good to be prepared. Some planes offer in-seat charging points which are handy for gadget loving travellers on long haul flights.

It’s even good to work out how quickly you can deplane, where the exits are, proximity to the toilets and even if you will get the drinks trolley first or not!

Marriott

Much like Expedia, you can use the Marriott website to stalk some top notch hotels and base yourself near them. 9 times out of 10 I find the Marriott room rate to be pretty competitive and I find myself staying there. I know I am guaranteed a specific standard regardless of the city or country I am in and I know the staff speak English or can get me to an English speaker should the extreme circumstance ever arrive.

From working away, I built up my Marriott Points to Gold and I get added benefits from their Marriot reward scheme as well as some great email offers such as free night offers or executive lounge access.

Aspire Airport Lounge 



When checking for flights, I never discount bargain flights with long layovers or multiple connections if it saves me money. But you may wonder what you are meant to do with a 4hr layover in Philadelphia for example? If I am travelling in Economy and I am with an airline for which I do not have lounge access I recommend you check out an airport lounge. Usually around £20pp you can stock up on food, soft drinks, alcohol and most importantly a comfy chair and some peace and quiet away from the hubbub of the departures lounge. Some are fitted with shows which is ALWAYS good. Sometimes just a round of drinks and sandwiches can come to more than £20! It’s just a nice way to get your holiday started and they often come with bonus deals on parking charges or cashback via Quidco.

Handy Tips for booking

*   Join loyalty schemes. Hotels, Airlines, Hire car, if you use it, join it. You can turn your Tesco shop in to hotel points or air miles if you fancy ‘free’ trips. Thanks to my Club Card + my BA Executive Club, I managed to get a free 4* trip to Rome for Mr Tramps 30th.

*   If you book online, check for cash back opportunities via Quidco etc or look for an online code

*   Ensure any website you book on is covered in the relevant way, for insurances or ABTA / A TOL protection

*   When researching flight times, hotels, point memberships etc, don’t forget to use my handy Planning Prep post HERE

 
Hope this has whet your whistle a little bit and made you feel a bit more confident at branching out without a travel agent.
 

 

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