Be a Homestay Hero – Avoiding Airbnb Scams and Knowing Your Rights

Don’t let your holiday be ruined by a poor homestay experience – follow our advice for a great stay in an Airbnb for your next holiday!

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It’s no surprise that I love homestay opportunities like those found with Airbnb – a unique way to see a city and make lasting memories, what’s not to love? We can even provide you with a wonderful first-time offer if you’re yet to use the services of Airbnb, with new users to the site being able to get £25 off of their first homestay booking over £55, or £9 off of their first Airbnb experience over £36; check out the information on that here.

I have however found out that a couple of my friends and family would never consider staying in a homestay property, and why? They worry about the level of safety, and most often the actual genuine nature of the listings themselves. ‘Anyone can post anything online really, it’s probably a scam to get your money and leave you with nowhere to stay.’ While this is of course a valid concern, with the knowledge we’re discussing today, you can make sure that your homestay adventure is as safe and secure as possible.

The first thing to consider is the legality of staying in a homestay property in your chosen location in the first place. While you may have seen in the news that some international cities have issues with locals being priced out of the main city areas due to the bulk-buying of locations to only rent out to travellers, you may not know that some cities have increased fines and some have even banned the presence of homestay locations altogether in certain forms. New York for instance does not permit the option for whole-property rental through homestay websites (and only permanent residents are allowed to rent their home, with them still living there, for up to 30 days). Some locations do not permit the renting of properties for over a certain number of days – this is the case in Amsterdam, where whole properties can only be rented out by the hosts for 30 days a year, and only to up to 4 adults. Other cities require the property owner to gain permission from the city before renting out their space – this includes in the major European cities of Barcelona and Berlin.  This doesn’t however mean that properties still don’t pop up on booking platforms without the correct permissions or legalities. While it is of course not the fault of the traveller if correct legal procedures are not maintained, if you know you are travelling to a location that has stricter homestay rules (websites like Airbnb often discuss the rights and expectations of travellers and hosts for larger cities on their website), be sure to discuss this with your host prior to your arrival – a genuine host will definitely provide you with evidence that their property follows all local laws.

So you’ve checked you can actually stay in a homestay property in your holiday destination. Next, how can you check if a listing on a homestay website is legitimate to begin with? Checking out reviews is often the best, and quickest, way to go. Look out for listings (the more recent the better) discussing the level of contact with the host or their team – comments mentioning positive interactions with hosts are a great sign that the location is a genuine one. A great level of detail about the property itself is also a positive – this is something to consider when you review a property yourself; I always write my reviews in the mindset of showing the next traveller just what staying in the property is like. You also need to make sure that the URL you are using is actually a valid website – search through the platform itself rather than through a generic search engine to make sure you’re actually safely booking the property in the first place.

You might not always meet someone face-to-face on your trip, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole thing is a scam either. Contacting your host before your trip, especially if they indicate that you won’t be meeting anyone physically to hand over keys, is a good way to judge the situation – message them on the platform you are using to discuss specific details about entering the location (though you can only do this after booking). I have personally stayed in Airbnbs where I haven’t met the owner or a member of the team mentioned on the listing, but have been given clear advice and guidance due to the contact I’ve been in with them before. If you’re really concerned after making your booking, there is no shame in asking the host beforehand to prove that the pictures online are actually indicative of the place they’re renting, and that they even have access to it in the first place – if they’re genuine, they won’t take it personally!

In the slim chance you do end up booking and travelling to a fake listing or a place that looks nothing like the images provided at all, the first, and most important, thing to do is contact your homestay provider immediately. While many of these sites advise you to contact the host first, in a clear scamming situation, it is very unlikely they will respond to you. You do however have to send a message to your host on the platform to show your awareness of the issue; this is a condition of Airbnb’s refund policy. It is critical you do this as soon as possible, with Airbnb stipulating that all claims of this nature must be filed within the first 24 hours of the scheduled stay. This is also the best way to make sure you are refunded as quickly as possible – Airbnb retains all payment you have given to the host for the first day of the booking in order to ensure that you as a guest are not left high and dry in the case of a scam.

You can find more information on Airbnb’s refund policy here, and through their contact page here.

Do you have any tips and tricks to finding the best, and most legitimate homestay location that we haven’t discussed? Are you now more likely to book an Airbnb adventure (remember to check out the page here for your discount) for your next holiday? Be sure to tell us in the comments below or through our social media channels all about your homestay experiences!

 

Image: Patrick Perkins

 

Please note, all the information on this page is accurate at the time of publication. If you are viewing this article at a later date, the content discussed may no longer be as described.

Cabin (Bag) Fever

Bothered by those extra baggage fees with low-cost airlines? Worry no more with our guide to one bag, hand luggage packing, perfect for those short breaks!

Disclaimer: This post was written in January 2019, if you are reading this post at a later date the information discussed below may be inaccurate. Please check your chosen airline’s information on luggage before proceeding with your flight booking.

 

Quite often when posting a flight route on Student Holiday Plans, I’ll include a caveat about the different prices for different types of luggage. Although the flights may be as low as the price of a nice meal out, it is often these little price increases that push up the overall expenditure of a holiday. Of course for some longer journeys you just have to pay up for a higher luggage allowance, but spending over half of the cost of the flight either way for a short break is something that can easily be dealt with.

First you have to know what you’re working with. For Ryanair and Wizz Air, two of Europe’s biggest budget airlines, you get the same cabin baggage allowance for free – 40cm x 20cm x 25cm for Ryanair, and 40cm x 20cm x 30cm for Wizz Air. Now this is small, fact. It is smaller than most average-sized backpacks – be prepared to take your tape measure with you if you go out to buy a new small bag! It isn’t however beyond the realms of possibility to save money and travel on short journeys with only this bag. Check out our guide below to packing smartly to save money.

 

Clothing –

When packing for a holiday, we all often tend to think we need to bring more than we actually do. Of course for many holidays having access to facilities to wash clothes is often not available, but if you’re only planning on bringing your hand luggage with you, you need to pack smart, and often savagely.

The first stop is daywear. It might sound basic, but check the weather of your holiday location before going. If it looks like sun all week, then you don’t need to pack your winter thermals just in case. Always be sure to make room for a thin raincoat or umbrella though, since rain is ubiquitous across all ends of Europe! Don’t pack for what ‘might’ happen either – if you’re travelling with fixed plans in mind for activities, then create your outfits for those days before you pack. Don’t just pack three or four different versions of an outfit for the sake of choice.

If you’re going somewhere with a nightlife that you want to experience, consider items that can double up as day and nightwear. Jean-like trousers are a perfectly example of something that can be worn all day and not look out of place – though beware, denim can be notoriously hard to compactly pack!

Now onto accessories. This can be chargers, brushes or other electronic equipment. These are surprisingly some of the hardest items to pack, as they’re simply not flexible or ‘squashable’. Always pack these things last, since you’ll know what kind of space you’re working with. Detach wires from their plugs if possible, and place them in the little gaps that will always appear. Don’t forget plug adaptors – it’s very unlikely you’ll find these in your holiday destination outside of being overly priced at an airport. As a note, some devices, including laptops and tablets, will need to go through airport security out of your bag, so don’t bury it at the bottom of your bag and forget about it.

Finally, a day sack, or handbag. While in the past you’ve been able to have your hand luggage and a ‘personal bag’ separately, you may now find yourself with just one bag as your carry-on. This may mean that your usual handbag or rucksack will simply be too large to bring with you. You don’t however need to re-pack everything already in your bag into a smaller receptacle. Be clinical with your packing – your essentials are few; you need money or means (debit or credit cards), your house and car key, if parked at the airport (there’s no need to bring all of your keys with you – they’re just taking up room, and you’ll have more to lose if your keys go missing on your holiday) and your passport (which, like your home keys, can easily stay in your main travel bag whenever you’re out of an airport) as necessities. You may also want to consider bringing items including a shopping bag (you may be visiting a country that has a carrier bag charge similar to that of the UK), a small map of your area (though we would advise downloading a map onto your phone that you can use offline), or a pen and small notepad. For such a short journey, everything that you normally have in your bag as ‘just in case’ items are very unlikely to be used, and will just take up room.

 

Toiletries –

The universal EU rulings concerning liquids (including aerosols, ‘pastes’ eg. lipstick and gels) in hand luggage already place a limit on what you can travel with. All containers must be under 100ml, and must all fit in one 20cm x 20cm transparent plastic bag. If you want more information on this, check out the official information here.  This is something that can however be advantageous to the ‘hand luggage only’ traveller. Which such a small existing limit, you can easily make room for more items of clothing, or additional items that you may have had to leave behind.

If you want to make even more room through your travel toiletries, we have a few more tips. Our first is to think about just how small you can go with travel-sized products. For example, while most make up products are under 100ml or are compact, think about collecting a few free samples from locations that offer in-store beauty services, or from online free sample releases – there’s no point packing up your entire make up collection when you only need a tiny quantity of make up in relation to your length of journey. This works especially well with scents and perfumes – a tiny sample of perfume is perfect for a few days away, and saves you from trying to pack up your bulky full-sized perfume bottle in that small liquids bag. If you’re travelling with others, it’s also worth considering splitting up the essential toiletries that you’ll all be using. Things like shampoo and toothpaste can easily be shared, giving everyone more room in their luggage. Of course, if you have a bit more money to spend, you can purchase all of your necessary toiletries when you touch down in your holiday location, avoiding any issues with size and allowing for more space in your luggage. Just remember you can’t bring anything back with you if you do this!

As a last note, if you don’t have enough room in your bag to place your toiletries – in the regulated plastic bag – in the top of your bag pre-packed (or if you don’t have a bag itself), you can always save room and stick the tubes, sprays and sticks into small gaps or little side-pockets in your bag when originally packing, and a spend a couple of minutes before going through security re-packing your toiletries.

 

Here is an example toiletries bag, with its contents listed below:

 

 

  • Shower gel
  • Spray deodorant
  • Dry shampoo
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Foundation/concealer
  • Shampoo x 2
  • Conditioner x 2

 

We’re going to demonstrate a couple of different luggage options to help you visualise – and actually prove – what can be packed – as a note, toiletries aren’t included in these examples.

The first is an over-the-shoulder travel bag measuring (when empty) at 35cm x 20cm x 20cm – this is below the limits for Ryanair and Wizz Air.

 

 

 

 

This bag has been packed for an autumn/winter journey for 3 days/4 nights. Below the images is an itinerary for the content of the bag:

 

 

 

 

Content =

  • 3 pairs underwear
  • 2 pairs socks
  • Thermal tights
  • Bra
  • Night-shirt
  • T-shirt
  • Jean-like trousers (but not denim – a very bulky material)
  • Dress
  • Long shirt (can be worn as dress)
  • Hairbrush
  • Plug adaptor

 

  • Handbag – containing:
  • Purse
  • Passport
  • Keys
  • Tablet strips (paracetamol and ibuprofen)
  • Umbrella
  • Shopping bag
  • Pen

 

This is not considering the items already being worn – bulkier clothes, large jumpers, jackets and coats don’t need to be packed, and even if you don’t need to wear it, you can carry it through the entire experience with no issues. Items including chargers could definitely fit within this bag also (that’s our fault for not checking twice when packing!)

 

 

 

 

The next bag is a backpack, measuring (when empty) at 40cm x 22cm x 20cm. This time we’re going with a summer trip for 3 nights/4 days. Again, below the images is an itinerary for the content of the bag:

 

 

 

 

Content =

  • 3 pairs underwear
  • 1 pair socks
  • 2 pairs pop-socks
  • Tights
  • Bra
  • Night-shirt
  • 3 T-shirts
  • Skirt
  • Shorts
  • Jumpsuit
  • Hairbrush
  • Plug adaptor

 

  • Handbag – containing:
  • Purse
  • Passport
  • Keys
  • Tablet strips (paracetamol and ibuprofen)
  • Umbrella
  • Shopping bag
  • Pen

 

While you might not have a coat with you in the summer, you can still carry around a jumper or thin jacket in the same way you can with a bigger coat in the winter. Again, a charger would fit fine in this bag too!

 

We asked our followers on social media for their favourite tips and tricks for travelling light, here are a few:

 

yvonne

precious

heather

 

Of course, if you need more room for your luggage, there are many options that are offered by budget airlines for additional luggage. Often the best of these can be found when booking your flights – both Ryanair and Wizz Air offer a ‘priority’ package that entitles a passenger to 2 bags in the cabin; your small bag described above, and a larger bag sized 55cm x 40cm x 23cm for Wizz Air, or 55cm x 40cm x 20cm for Ryanair, as well as the opportunity to board the plane first. This is at a cost of £5 and £6 respectively. However, any time after this, this package increases to up to £15 and £10 respectively. Regarding Ryanair, there is however a limit on the number of passengers that can purchase the priority package per flight. This is usually around half of the expected passenger numbers per flight eg. 99 passengers out of 198 expected can obtain priority. If you find yourself on the wrong side of this, then the next larger luggage option is a 10kg checked bag for £10 at booking, and up to £12 afterwards. This bag is at the same dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.

 

There you have it, our tips and tricks for travelling with the budget airlines without having to spend more on bags. Let us know in the comments if you have any advice for the ‘hand luggage only’ traveller!

 

ABC – A Bucharest Charm

Bucharest is one of Europe’s best hidden capital cities! Check out our guide to touring this Romanian recluse – ‘I-a picat fața!’

Earlier this week, we gave you a brilliant introductory guide to volunteering abroad, written by our guest blogger Astrid. If you haven’t had chance to read it yet, check it out here!

It got me to thinking about locations in Europe that can be visited by those who want to experience a unique ‘voluntourism’ experience as well as visit an area for fun. Romania is one of the best locations for volunteering abroad in Europe. From performing arts roles to conservation research, Romania can be one of the most beautiful places to visit that’s only a few hours from home. Be sure to check out advice from VSO if you want to learn more!

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Volunteering abroad can be a unique and humbling experience!

From a tourist point of view though, Romania’s capital, Bucharest, is undeniably a haven for the student traveller. Beautiful landscapes border a wonderful city structure, with so much accessible by foot. If you want to get further out into the surrounding area, Bucharest has brilliant public transport links that can allow you to explore as much as you want – for a very reasonable price!

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You can zip around Bucharest by tram!

 

Bucharest, like many Eastern European cities, displays glorious historic architecture alongside relics from the recent communist era. This is all documented in heritage sites across the city, from the former residences of national leaders to tours routed around the locations of revolution. You can leave Bucharest with a real understanding of modern-day Romania and the challenges faced by the nation today.

Don’t forget about all the food and drink you can find in Bucharest! From Mahala, a contemporary Romanian restaurant offering the best of the local cuisine, to the gorgeous Linea rooftop bar overlooking the city, you can experience the best culinary vibes that Bucharest has to offer without breaking the bank!

 

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Be sure to take a break in one of many of Bucharest’s green spaces!

The flights below are with Wizz Air – Wizz Air offer a lucrative deal with their Discount Club. For €30 a year, a named traveller and their companion can benefit from a significant discount on flights, as well as luggage deals. For €60 a year, this can extend to a named traveller and up to five others getting this deal. In this instance, there is a 40% discount in the comparative price – travelling more frequently with Wizz Air will allow you to quickly earn back this initial cost!

Like many other budget airlines, Wizz Air have recently changed their baggage policy. All passengers are entitled to one free cabin bag (40cm x 30cm x 20cm), while those who purchase Priority at £6.50 per flight will also be entitled to an additional bag (55cm x 40cm x 23cm). Aside from this, a 10kg bag (149cm x 119 cm x 171cm) costs £10 per flight.

 

(Prices last checked 17th January 2019)

18th March – LTN – OTP (08:55 – 14:10) – £10/£16 (Wizz Air – the lower price is with the Discount Club) (Transfer from Bucharest Otopeni Airport to city centre = 50p)

21st March – OTP – LTN (21:35 – 23:15) – £10/£16 (Wizz Air – the lower price is with the Discount Club) (Transfer to Bucharest Otopeni Airport from city centre = 50p)

Total = £21/£33

 

Currency conversion rate (17th January 2019) – 1 GBP = 5.32 RON

 

Images: rawpixel.comEduard BalanAlexandru Stavrică

 

Please note, all the information on this page is accurate at the time of publication.
If you are viewing this deal at a later date, the price and availability may no longer be as advertised.

 

 

40 Must Know Facts About Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering abroad can have an enormous amount of benefits, from improving physical and mental health to gaining new skills. There are more reasons now than ever before to get away and help others overseas!

 

Volunteering abroad can have an enormous amount of benefits, from improving physical and mental health to gaining new skills, there are more reasons now than ever before to get away and help others overseas.

Here are some must know facts about volunteering abroad:

  1. Ten years ago, in 2008 there were reportedly 1.6 million international volunteers. Think how many there are now!
  2. In 2018, the top volunteer destination was Thailand, followed by India and in third place Peru.
  3. Volunteering abroad and gap years became popular in the 1960s. Gap years started as a cultural exchange experience.
  4. Culture exchanges actually deter future wars, countries are less scared about different cultures and instead embrace them.
  5. The first gap year organisation was founded in 1969 and is still running today, specialising in internships abroad.
  6. International volunteers are great for a country’s economy, volunteers have contributed $200 million to Australia’s economy.
  7. Volunteering helps to improve mental health.
  8. You become a part of the community. Volunteers don’t just visit a country, they are welcomed into the community and live as a local.
  9. ADHD volunteers are able to focus and concentrate for longer compared to those with ADHD who did not volunteer.
  10. The flight will probably be the most expensive aspect of any volunteer trip. With return flights to South America typically around £700 many volunteers are looking to stay closer to home, in Europe.
  11. Volunteering makes you healthier according to a study done by S Travel Association
  12. It is affordable but rarely free. There are many affordable volunteer organisations out there, but they may be harder to find, on the second or third page of search results.
  13. 96% of volunteers believe that volunteering makes people happier, there are many studies which support this.
  14. The main reason volunteers help overseas is to experience cultural immersion and give back to a less developed community, with an aim to end poverty.
  15. If a volunteer has a personal attachment to a project, with a skill to offer or a genuine interest, they are more likely to feel the benefits of volunteering.
  16. Volunteers settle into a project quicker if they know some familiar phrases in the local language. Probably the two best words to learn are “hello” and “good” to start making friendships.
  17. The USA sends the most international volunteers abroad, probably because they install the idea of volunteering overseas with the peace corps from a young age.
  18. By reading about what other volunteers and travellers have experienced in the region you’re travelling to will lower the culture shock experienced, as you have a better idea of what to expect.
  19. Some colleges offer extra credit or travel grants for students who volunteer, even if it is not advertised, it is always worth asking!
  20. Employers are always looking for unique things which make candidates stand out against the thousands of applications they see every day. Volunteering can help boost your CV. Make sure you leave your project with a reference and if possible a video clip of you volunteering.
  21. Whilst volunteering abroad, many skills are gained or enhanced, from teamwork and communication to admin and planning work. Many of which are opportunities that crop up on an ad-hoc basis.
  22. Employers claim they can gain a better understanding of someone’s personality when they have included volunteering abroad on their CV. Ensure you have described your role abroad as fully as you can.
  23. Your ideas on a project are actually heard. I was shocked to see that projects actually wanted to hear about room for improvement and keen to implement ideas volunteers have.
  24. The best way of starting your own volunteer project, is through volunteering on another project and learning how they work.
  25. Adults who volunteered as a child are more likely to help again in their adulthood compared to those who never helped overseas when they were younger.
  26. The most popular type of volunteering at home is fundraising and activities to raise money for a cause.
  27. The second most popular form of volunteering at home is baking, serving and preparing food for others.
  28. Statistically, more volunteers are female than male.
  29. The majority of summer volunteers are aged between eighteen to twenty-four years old and are likely to be employed.
  30. Volunteering abroad isn’t exclusively for younger volunteers, more mature travellers are taking advantage of sabbaticals, career changes and retirees free time to help overseas and see a new country.
  31. Between November and May the average age on a project is much higher, with only one or two gap year students.
  32. Nearly 20% of volunteers in one survey documented that when helping on a volunteer project their overall general health improved.
  33. Simply the act of planning a volunteer trip overseas is enough to make someone happier.
  34. A new perspective gained from volunteering helps volunteers see clearly and inspires them to keep doing great work whilst volunteering.
  35. Volunteering helps renew someone’s perspective on everyday stresses like work, family, relationships and health.
  36. Volunteers are more likely to volunteer solo and meet friends on a project, rather than travelling with people they already know.
  37. Even when volunteering solo, you don’t have to volunteer alone. Organisations can help volunteers chat before they travel and even help volunteers fly out together.
  38. It is not uncommon for volunteers to make friendships which last for life, organising a second or third volunteer trip together.
  39. The main object in the way of volunteering is the commitment, unaware that many project welcome volunteers for as little as a week.
  40. Many employers are keen to encourage their staff to volunteer offering extra vacation days when travelling to help a good cause.

 

Image: Cristi Tohatan

London Calling – Tips and Tricks for a Capital Adventure

Capital experiences for a capital price! Check out our tips to explore London on a budget!

As someone who loves getting out into the world and seeing what every nation has to offer, it’s not uncommon for me to forget just what can be found on my doorstep.

London, to those like me who live hundreds of miles away, is a whole experience when visiting. Even though things may look and sound the same to at home, London is so vast that you could spend a whole day in just one borough and still not know all of its secrets. Our guide to the UK’s capital will hopefully give you an insight into exploring the city like a pro.

 

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Kensington is one of London’s prettiest districts!

 

The capital is, unsurprisingly, a haven for culture. Many of London’s biggest and best collections can be explored for little to no cost. From the Science Museum in glamorous Kensington to the Tate Modern on the banks of the Thames, you can view some of the world’s premier exhibitions in the same city. The London Underground is a great way of getting around so your culture trip can continue with ease.

My recent visit to the Natural History Museum made me fall back in love with nature. This educational hotspot had children and adults alike mesmerising at the wonders of the animal kingdom before introducing them to the scientific surprises found throughout nature. From geology to palaeontology, you could easily spend all day in the gorgeous building – it is however possible to blitz the site while still leaving with a mind full of knowledge.

 

 

 

Food is not just a factor of travel – in London, it can be your main focal point! From Chinatown to ‘Little India’, the capital can let you (and your taste-buds) travel around the world without leaving the inner city.

On my latest visit, I opted for hearty American fare with a twist. Honest Burgers, found across London, offer delicious burgers with incredible additions. Be sure to order a double portion of their rosemary-salted chips, since you’ll wolf them down so quickly! With gluten free, veggie and vegan options, everyone can enjoy their delicious meal. Students can also benefit from a very generous 30% discount courtesy of UNiDAYS – check out their page here for all of the T&Cs.

 

 

 

Here are our top tips for a London experience on a budget:

 

  • If you’re in possession of one, remember that your contactless card can work as an Oyster card on the Underground and bus networks – your daily fare will be capped in line with current fees (eg. £7 for travel solely in Zone 1), and is much cheaper than buying a single fare.
  • Be sure to factor in the number of zones that you’ll be travelling in on the Underground in relation to your length of time in London – it could be cheaper to purchase a multi-day travelcard for a longer stay.
  • Download a map of the Underground to your phone – internet access cannot be guaranteed when travelling, especially on the Tube; a guide on your phone allows for conspicuous travel planning on the move.
  • Make sure you know what is and isn’t free within London’s biggest museums and galleries – many of the featured or heavily advertised exhibits will come with a price tag, even if the site and many of the other exhibitions are free to enter.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! – London has a reputation as being a bit of a stoic and silent location, but it reality it’s one of the friendliest cities around. From Tube staff to waiters and waitresses, be sure to ask for help and guidance if required. Even ask other visitors to the city about their itineraries to gain perspectives of the city that you would never have previously explored.

 

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London is gorgeous, whatever time of day!

 

Images: Heather Swain, Megan Field

 

Please note, all the information on this page is accurate at the time of publication. If you are viewing this information at a later date, the prices and availability may no longer be as advertised.

 

An Albanian Affair

Want culture, history and beauty from your break? Look no further than Albania! Check out our last post of 2018 to get inspired for your 2019 travels!

It may not even be 2019 yet, but now is one of the best times to start planning your spring and summer adventures!

You might only know Albania as one of the first countries alphabetically, but this Balkan beauty is a haven of culture and surprise. This route takes you in and around Albania’s capital of Tirana, and to the gorgeous coastal port of Durrës, two locations that will leave you wanting to come back and explore this brilliant region even more!

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Can you believe that you can travel high above Tirana?

Tirana, like many other former Yugoslavian cities, is a capital that combines a rich and developed history with a more recent, impactful past, as well as signs of a modern future. The iconic Piramida is a communist relic that is truly unique – though seemingly a disused, vandalised structure, a short lesson in the history of this site will let you understand why this location is so crucial to Albania today. If you want to see this brilliant city from above, the Dajti Ekspres cable car travels high above Tirana into a wonderful, natural haven – this is the longest cable car service across the Balkans, giving you the best opportunity to snap those incredible photos to show off your fab holiday!

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Durrës is a cultural colossus as well as a beautiful beach!

Only 40 minutes West from Tirana by train, the port of Durrës may seem like a total world away from life within the capital. Bordering the Adriatic Sea, Durrës is a combination of seaside destination and ancient monument. With its foundations being believed to be back in 600 B.C., it isn’t a surprise that the seaport is home to a 15,000-seat amphitheatre, however seeing is always believing! Durrës is also an archaeological goldmine – as well as relaxing by the coast, you can also explore the region’s past through its objects and buildings, ranging from bathhouses with glorious designs to the city’s unavoidable castle.

 

(Prices last checked 26th December 2018)

 

11th March – LUT – TIR (06:50 – 10:50) – £10.50 (Wizz Air Discount Club), £18 (without Wizz Air Discount Club) (Transfer from Tirana Airport to city centre = £2)

13th March – Tirana – Durrës (11:45 – 12:25) – 50p (hsh.com.al)

14th March – Durrës – Tirana (15:35 – 16:15) – 50p (hsh.com.al)

Note – The station for Tirana is actually in Kashar, a 15 minute drive from the centre of the capital. If you would prefer to travel from Tirana itself, please search coach services, such as this one. These are however not verified. Please also check before travel that the trains are actually running – it is reported that they may often stop or not run with little to no notification. Train times may also change with no prior notice.

15th March – TIR – LUT (11:30 – 13:30) – £15.50 (Wizz Air Discount Club), £23 (without Wizz Air Discount Club) (Transfer to Tirana Airport from city centre = £2)

 

Total = £31/£46

 

Regarding accommodation, both Tirana and Durrës are home to many affordable homestay options, located both in the centre of the city and by the seafront respectively. Both also present a range of cute and quirky hostels and cheap hotels perfect for a short Balkan break. If you want to experience Albanian hospitality for less, don’t forget that Student Holiday Plans offers new Airbnb users the chance to save £25 from their first booking anywhere in the world over £55 – check out our page here explaining how!

 

Currency conversion rate (26th December 2018) – 1 GBP = 136.45 LEK

 

Images: Alexandr Bormotin, jesper-48.blogspot.com, albania.al

 

Please note, all the information on this page is accurate at the time of publication. If you are viewing this deal at a later date, the price and availability may no longer be as advertised.

Ringing in the New Year, Student Holiday Plans Style

Want to end your year with a bang? Get ready for an incredible deal on hotels next week – be prepared with our guide!

EDIT (17/12/18): This deal has now expired.

 

Student Holiday Plans always tries to find deals that allow you time and ease for planning a holiday. However, some deals are so spontaneous that we, and you, simply don’t have time to strategise! This deal in particular is not a travel deal involving flights, but a deal on accommodation that seriously is too good to turn down.

 

Expedia are offering 90% on selected hotels for travel between the 17th December and 5th January (inclusive). Sounds too good to be true? It really isn’t! The offer goes live at 9am on the morning of Monday 17th – any purchase has to be via the Expedia app (found here for iOS and here for Android), and the promotion code ‘HITRESET’ has to be entered on the payment page – that’s it! The code is limited – this deal recently ran on the American Expedia site, and all codes were used within the first few hours of release, so you’ll have to be on the ball if you want to get the best deal! If you miss out, the code will still get you 20% off of your hotel. If you want to check the terms and conditions further or learn more, read all about Expedia’s deal here.

 

Now this might be a bit too last-minute to be travelling abroad, but this deal could still be used for a New Year’s Eve out, or visiting family and friends over the Christmas break.

We’ve got some top tips for making sure you don’t miss out on this incredible deal:

 

  • Make sure you’ve created an account with Expedia that has a credit or debit card, or PayPal account, attached before the start of the sale. This will save time when you pay – all you have to enter is your card’s security code.

 

  • Always select the ‘Free Cancellation’ option presented. Even if you’re sure you’ll be able to stay in your hotel on your selected nights, you have the freedom to change your mind and get your money back for what would only be maybe only a few pence more than losing out.

 

  • Most importantly, this deal can only be redeemed on the app – don’t miss out by finding a great hotel on the web only to not be able to recover the deal!

 

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, we have found a few fabulous flight routes that would be great for a short holiday break, and leave your total travel spend at a minimum.
Everyone knows that Dublin is a wonderful city all year round. From having a pint of Guinness in one of the city’s unique pubs to snapping a picture with some of Dublin’s gorgeous architecture, Ireland’s capital is one of the best places to go for a festive break. Don’t miss out on seeing the unmissable Spire in the centre – at 120 metres tall, you won’t miss it!

Diogo Palhais
Wrap up warm for a stroll down Dublin’s scenic streets!

 

If you want to get away from city life, you can visit Limoges in the West of France for next to nothing either just before or after the New Year. As well as the ubiquitous Christmas market that can be found all across Europe at this time, Limoges is also home to some glorious Gothic architecture that beautifully juxtaposes the little traditional alleyways, such as the ‘Rue de la Boucherie’. Something that you’ll love to share with your uni friends is your time in ‘Escrocs’, a café specialising in variations of ‘croque’ (grilled cheese) sandwiches!

haute-vienne tourism
Last minute Christmas presents, anyone?

 

Prices last checked 14th December 2018 –

 

20th Dec – BRS – LIG (18:05 – 20:40) – £10 (Ryanair) (Transfer from Limoges Airport to city centre = £17 – £23) (Uber)

22nd Dec – LIG – BRS (15:50 – 16:30) – £10 (Ryanair) (Transfer to Limoges Airport from city centre = £17 – £23) (Uber)

Total = £54 – £66

 

2nd Jan – BRS – DUB (08:05 – 09:10) – £13 (Ryanair) (Transfer from Dublin Airport to city centre = £5.50) (dodublin.ie)

4th Jan – DUB – BRS (06:30 – 07:40) – £13 (Ryanair) (Transfer to Dublin Airport from city centre = £5.50) (dodublin.ie)

Total = £37

 

3rd Jan – BRS – LIG (18:05 – 20:40) – £10 (Ryanair) (Transfer from Limoges Airport to city centre = £17 – £23) (Uber)

5th Jan – LIG – BRS (15:50 – 16:30) – £10 (Ryanair) (Transfer to Limoges Airport from city centre = £17 – £23) (Uber)

Total = £54 – £66

 

BeFunky Collage.jpg

Just to demonstrate the level of discount you’re looking at with the incredible deal by taking the example of Limoges, the prices above in red are the price per night, excluding city tax. You could have two nights in a city centre location for under £20!

 

Images: Marten Bjork, Diogo Palhais, tourisme-hautevienne.com

 

Please note, all the information on this page is accurate at the time of publication.
If you are viewing this deal at a later date, the price and availability may no longer be as advertised.