How To Travel Savvy (on a budget)

Cala Tarida, Ibiza
You might have noticed, I travel a lot. Since taking time off to travel around Europe 10 years ago (and meeting friends across the world who I count amongst my best friends), I vowed to see the world. And then taking on a job involving pretty much constant travel for work (both with fashion shoots and travel writing), it’s now just part of my DNA.
But how exactly do I manage it on a budget? Firstly, I don’t have children, which obviously makes that a lot easier. And I will always prioritise a trip away over a night on the tiles (I don’t actually drink much, preferring to do it socially, with a meal whilst away). But I am also quite savvy with my spending on a trip, so thought I’d share a few tips on how I manage to get away so much without dipping into savings:
Manhattan Beach, LA

1. Delete your cookies.  Ever noticed you search for a great flight deal but when you go back to book, the price has gone up? This is because the site knows you’ve been from your history and registers that you now are ready to buy the flights. So before you commit to buy, delete your cookies or log in from another computer – the price will no doubt be the one you found originally.
2. Sign up to newsletters. I know we all strive for less junk mail. But this year I went to Paris via Eurostar for £29 each way and Copenhagen with Ryanair for £29 return. All through email alerts.
Top: £13.65, Boden. Skirt: Boden Icons (sold out). Heels: £119, Boden in Paris

3.  Small Boutique Hotels are the way forward. And you can often find something quite affordable without all the added extras (for instance, we never book breakfast). My favourite sites are Mr & Mrs Smith and iEscape (which we used a lot for our trip to India). Sometimes we need a treat, and we much prefer small Boutique Hotels than fancy five stars anyway.
The Artist Residence Brighton, from £85 a night. Book direct here or via iEscape here

4. If we stay somewhere expensive, we’ll do for 1 or 2 nights max, and then move onto somewhere cheaper. In LA we stayed at The Ace hotel when we first arrived to get over jetlag in style (and with room service!), and then onto an Air Bnb for the rest of our trip. We also stayed with a friend in San Diego for a few nights which spread our costs too.
5. Air BnB is actually amazing. We’re starting to use these types of sites more and more (see a piece I wrote on alternative places to stay here). I’d also recommend Homestay which we used in Venice (more B&B type accommodation or sometimes you stay with a family). The money saved on facilities and concierges etc can go towards a better location or maybe a pool – and in LA it was worth it alone for the saving we made on tips for Porters and valet parking (free with our bungalow, $30 a night at The Ace). 
Our Air BnB in Paris

6. Wait for the January Sales. All in all, it’s a rather depressing month, so I always like to plan some trips to get me through, plus the January Sales are always the best. Especially if it’s a big trip in the summer or the following Christmas, we booked india the January before we went and it gave us an entire year to pay it off and save for our spending money.

7.  Travel to affordable places. You might have noticed I don’t really go to the Maldives, Capri or St Tropez very much. We chose India for our last big trip as the cost of living and food etc is much more affordable. And we go to Nerja for our main holiday as my parents have a flat there so we just pay for £100 Easyjet flights, we eat in the apartment most nights or do tapas dinners in the evenings. And it’s perfect.
Cocktails in Kerala, India

8. Eat Like Locals. It sounds obvious, but this is the reason whenever we go away, we often come home with change. Even from Japan – we preferred to eat in smaller, more local places with just a few spaces at the bar to eat rather than the Park Hyatt. And places like Barcelona have fab restaurants like Catalan where dishes are €5 or even more traditional tapas places where you get small food dishes free with your drink. 
9. Change up money before you go. You get
charged at least £1 every time you use your card abroad. We’ve found a place in
Tooting that has great exchange rates…we don’t change it back either if we get
a good rate and save for next time – a little treat to open for the next trip!
We’ve saved $100 from our LA trip, as it’s not worth spending money changing it back and because we know we’ll be in NYC soon.
10. Book in stages. I book trips in advance. That way by the time we go we’ve paid most of it off. January I’ll book the flight, February I’ll book trains, March I’ll book one Hotel for the first few nights etc etc. It means you don’t feel like you’re paying hundreds of pounds at once and not paying it off once you get back (because that’s just depressing).
Burano, Venice

11. Travel off season (if you can). We got flights to Venice last year for under £80 return because we travelled in November. We ran the risk of it raining everyday but totally lucked out and we were eating outside in the sunshine. Plus, there weren’t the usual crowds you get in Venice and we could wander most side streets almost by ourselves.

12. Use a card with mileage. I actually paid off my credit card this year (very exciting) but I have one for work, which I made sure earns me airmiles. I use it mainly to book flights, so that a) they’re covered if the company goes bust, b) I have a little bit of time to pay it off and transfer money etc c) I earn more airmiles to use on my next trip.

13. Book flights through Quidco. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t done it (yet). But my next flight, I’m giving it a go – it’s a cashback site where you earn money back when you use it as a go-between site (up to 2% cashback through BA). Worth a try, especially on big purchases like flights.
Flat Iron district, New York

14. Go hand luggage only. it’s definitely a squeeze (especially for someone like me!) but can save you so much money on those budget airlines.  A suitcase for Copenhagen cost £50 for just 15kg when the flight was £29, and although hand luggage had to be petite, there was no weight restriction.

15. Do carboot sales. I feel like this is my answer to everything. But seriously, a clearout makes you feel really good plus you earn cash you didn’t have before. We always try and do one before a big holiday to take as spending money.
It’s so funny, when I have ideas like this to work for a blogpost I worry I don’t have enough content for it…and then it simply flows. I hope this has inspired you somewhat, as travelling is so good for the soul.


  1. I haven't used Quidco but Topcashback is excellent! I've earned nearly £300 in the last year or so just from going via there when shopping online (they have it for lots of sites; furniture is another one that you can make meaningful savings on! I bought a new sofa and mattress from and I think the cashback rate was 8% at the time!). Also even if you're out and about shopping, if you do click-and-collect lots of places will let you collect the item then and there if they have it in stock (schuh for example) and then you still get the cashback from shopping online.

    Also if you're London based then "Thomas Exchange Global" have some of the best foreign exchange rates I've found (I work in the City and quite a few of my colleagues have recommended them to me!), just make sure you book through the website (fast collection) as the rates there are more competitive than instore! The website is a bit retro but they're really good and they have all kinds of obscure currencies available for immediate collection.

    1. Thanks so much for the info! Quidco has some good shopping sites like Net A Porter and J Crew (where I spend all my money anyway!) – and good to know re: furniture! Oh and is this the one near Victoria? There's always a queue there! Our one in Tooting is pretty competitive (and a bit more handy) but we need to let each other know these things! I once did it in the post office and severely disappointed by the amount I received! x

  2. Great tips – I hadn't thought about clearing my cookies before booking flights but I'll DEFINTELY do that from now on!

    Where's the 'Alex' striped washbag from please?

  3. I really LOVE your posts about travel tips, really helpful and inspiring…I´m beggining to feel the urge to travel right now!

  4. Great tips – thank you! The exchange place in Tooting – I normally use Thomas exchange but do with something more local!!

  5. Love this post! Great tips, thank you! I've recently started to book flights through Quidco and it really is nice to make some money back from your trip. I also book my hotels through them as they often have decent rates for and I usually research the hotel I want to stay at through blogs like yours or travel websites then see if they are available on one of those larger hotel sites and click through Quidco to book. For my last hotel booking I got £60 cashback which was amazing!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed – not the usual posts i do but so nice to share the knowledge…I agree with hotels, I do the same with books -touch them in Anthropologie and then buy them online! Definitely going to do Quidco next time x

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