The Best Sites for Finding Cheap Flights

Not sure about you guys, but I’m currently in the midst of some severely itchy feet. I’m not disclosing here that I have athlete’s foot, I mean I really want to hop on a plane and get travelling… Obviously, that’s not the easiest thing to do for me, as I have other commitments, like a job, and money and a coffee shop stop that I feel relies on me as it’s sole customer to buy really overpriced coffee each day. Imagine if I were to just stop going? They’d close in a week…

ANYWAY, in the midst of my imaginary holiday planning I’ve discovered a lot more sites and companies that make the process of finding cheaper flights way easier than I had ever thought. I wrote this post on my types on how to buy cheap flights almost 2 years ago (which you can read here), but it’s ready for an update, with what I’ve found since then.

So, if you’re looking at booking some flights anytime soon then READ ON

To start with I have to give a shout out to my first point of call and number one:

SkyScanner

I’ve waxed lyrical enough about how I use SkyScanner on here, but the function to look at the flight prices throughout the month – and the cheapest month as well – are great for finding the cheapest flights. If you’re still in trip planning mode and have flexibility on your dates this makes for a handy tool at tailoring your trip to the cheapest flights you can find.

The only slight fault is that you have to apply a lot of filters to get what you really want, as it will show you the cheapest flights possible at whatever airline/time combo they can find, whereas if you higher expecations you might be better off looking elsewhere.. which brings me on to the next site…

Always search in incognito mode f you can, so you can avoid the hefty price hikes – this applies for all sites really, even car rental comparison sites.

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Flight Centre

If date flexibility isn’t as much of an issue then I would definitely suggest checking on Flight Centre. I’d even say it would be a great shout to look immediately when you start planning your trip as it can help you realistically gauge what type of prices you might be looking at.

If you’re not keen on budget airlines, or if you’re going far and therefore the luxury really is worth it, then it’s worth looking here. Their website accessibility and viewpoint are also really handy to compare airline prices quick and easily.

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STA Travel

This is a site that’s recently been introduced to me, and there’s a few aspects of using STA that I think can really come in handy. The first is that when you buy flights through STA travel you have the option to only pay a £50 deposit to hold the flights you want. I think this can be a great assets, especially if you want to secure some flights but don’t have the full funds to pay for them at that specific time.

There a few holidays in the past year that I spent a few weeks looking for flights and watching the price get higher each time (which is why it pays to search in Incognito mode!). It’s also a great way to make sure you lock down the holiday you want without having to wait until you have all the relevant funds.

It’s second advantage is that it’s also a great site to use if you are a young person (which STA counts as under 31), as I believe this can help you gain some discount on what you’re looking for. Even if it might not apply for what you are searching for, it’s always worth a try.

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Hopper

Hopper is a new prospect for me, I had heard people mention it and seen it’s name pop up in articles, but I never thought much about it. Then, as it turned out, as my birthday this year falls across the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (as it tends to do every 5 years), it meant flights to Lisbon were coming up a lot more expensive than we’d hoped. So, that’s when I decided to give Hopper a go, and I was really pleasantly surprised.

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The idea behind it is very clever, and it could be very handy if you’re flexible with your dates, and have a lot of time to look around – you enter the location your flying from, and where you are flying too, and your intended dates and Hopper will keep an eye on the flight prices as and when they go up or down, and will advise you whether to buy soon, or to keep waiting.

Personally, using this for my trip to Lisbon worked really well. Return flights for our trip were looking at around £200+ before I started using Hopper, until it notified me to say prices had dropped and we could find returns from as low as £130. I’ve spoken to a few people about the app and some believe it’s not as effective as it should be, but from my recent experience using it for Lisbon I have to say I’m really impressed.

I currently have a watch on flights to Sydney for my (hopeful) trip to Australia next January. I’ll keep you all updated as to whether the app helps us to find cheaper flights!

And there we have it, my round up of favourite websites for finding the best flights. I’ve heard great things about other options, such as Kayak, and I will attempt at giving those a go and will keep you posted with how I get on with that.

If you have any recommendations for any other websites or apps then let me know in the comments below! In the mean time, don’t forget to check out my Instagram at GrundyTravels for all the latest pics and post updates!

TTFN x

The Staycation Series: London

Hello everyone, I hope February is treating you well? Whilst I’m recovering from the sugar overload that is pancake day and Valentines, I also wanted to write up a post all my city – ol’ London town. I’ve been asked a lot recently by both friends and family for recommendations of what to do when visiting London that aren’t always the most obvious options, so I thought I’d share my recommendations on here.

So, first a disclaimer – I’m lucky enough to live in London, and even more to live pretty central in Islington – just a short hop away from the centre, but also in a little secluded area that allows quiet and a bit of peace. I’m not from here originally so I’m not claiming to be an expert on what to do here, but below is my recommendation of what to do and where to take your pals when they come to visit.

I love having my friends and family over to visit, but when they do I’m always trying to find better things to show them that isn’t ridiculously expensive, or guaranteed to be flowing with other tourists. So I’ve listed below my favourite places to go in London that I find  to be great for seeing another side to the city without fighting off other tourists!

  1. A Trip to Richmond & a Walk around Richmond Park

Richmond is a gorgeous part of London and a great place to spend the day – hop on the Overground for only £1.60 and take a walk through the town, do a little shopping, walk down the river and to Richmond Park, spot some wildlife and finish off with a pub lunch and a drink.

It really is a lovely place, with great shops, cafes and restaurants and is also home to a huge park which is perfect for walks – no matter what the weather – and it also happens to great for wildlife spotting – especially Deer.

Where To Eat: Jackson & Rye for their extensive brunch menu and gorgeous cocktails and interiors.

2. The Sky Garden

This is a place I’d recommend if you’re planning in advance, such as special occasions or just a way to see a different side to the city – and it’s free. You have to prebook your tickets three weeks in advance, but you don’t have to pay to go – you just have to reserve the spaces with your names. When you’re up there you can find a bar and a restaurant (which you need to book for) also, but it’s perfect for not having to spend a penny.

The view when you’re up there is brilliant, and it’s one I’d like to revisit again – even at night to get a different view. It’s a cheaper option than the Viewing Floor at The Shard, and I would argue a better view – as you get to see along the Thames (Shard included) with a 360 panoramic view.

3. Columbia Road Flower Market

The flower market is perfect for a stroll on a Sunday morning, and is also free (unless you’re inclined to buy yourself a bunch). It’s a great area with a chilled, cool atmosphere – and is surrounded by cool little shops and pubs if you fancy stopping for brunch or a beverage.

I love bringing my friends here as its a lovely area of London, and even if you’re just window shopping, it’s great to look at all the flowers and stop for a coffee or maybe something stronger! It is very busy though, so be prepared to elbow a few people out the way, but if you’re in no rush you’ll be absolutely fine.

Where to Eat: Clutch Chicken for their long list of variations on fried chicken, and an outside eating area for Sunnier weather, and an insta-perfect wall to boot. They also do Sunday Roasts which is a perfect way to finish off a stroll through the market.

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4. Sushi Samba/The Duck and Waffle

As with my conclusion of 2017 that is, if you’re going to get a good view, might as well do it with a drink in your hand. Whereas you usually have to book for food at The Duck and Waffle or Sushi Samba, the latter has a bar you can usually just arrive at without a booking.

It’s very pricey for cocktails and a few bar snacks, but if you’re looking for somewhere to impress your guests then it’s the perfect spot to try and exotic cocktail and get a great view in the process.

If you do book far in advance I’d recommend the Duck and Waffle, I’m lucky enough to have been before and would definitely recommend the signature dish – the duck, waffle and fried egg. It’s pricey definitely, but if you want to treat yourself or if it’s a special occasion then go for it – just make sure you book way in advance!

5. Southbank

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily an unknown tourist-empty party of London, but it’s a favourite of mine. When I was younger and I would come to London for the day with my family, we would travel by train to London Bridge and walk from Borough Market (busy, but worth it) and then stroll up the Southbank.

It’s dotted with cafes, shops and street performers and you’re right next to the Thames – with a good view of the Skyline including St Paul’s. You can stop by the Tate Modern or pop into the BFI – both completely free – and then if you’re ready to brace the crowds you can then walk on up to Covent Garden for a drink and street performance – try and wrestle a space on the Punch and Judy balcony if you can for the peak viewing point.

Where to Eat/Drink: The Understudy. I love this bar and have taken friends/family/friends of friends here multiple times and never been disappointed. It has a great cost interior and long benches outside with blankets for the winter. Nothing better than meeting a pal here, sharing a bottle of wine and watching the sun set over the Thames.

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6. A Walk Along Regents Canal

This is best suited for great weather, so maybe reserve these plans for British summer time, as you might not get the same results if you try it in winter. But personally – as I live near the canal – there’s nothing I love better on a weekend than taking a wall down to Victoria park, having a nice stroll and then stopping off at Broadway market for a drink and some tapas whilst strolling through the market stalls.

London Fields Lido is also there, and on a Sunday the local cricket team often have a practice, so sometimes it’s nice to sit by with a coffee and watch in the sun. Like I said – enjoyment factor is 100% better in good weather, so please bear that in mind. I’ve recommended this to several friends who live all over London, and it’s always been a hit with them and their visiting friends/family, as there are numerous pubs and restaurants lining the canal that you can dip into if you fancy, and if you’re more on a budget there’s no harm in picking up some snacks and drinks and having a little sunbathe in one of the parks.

Where to eat: Txotx, Broadway market – This place is a great place to stop whether you’re just fancying a drink or something to eat. Their tapas menu is gorgeous, and they make a mean aperol spritz as well, I think it’s a great place to visit on a perfect Summer day.

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And so there we have it! My guide for where to take your friends/family/yourself if you’re ever in London and want to see an alternative side to the tourist-heavy areas. If I’ve missed something or if you have any recommendations for anywhere to go or do, let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading x

The Best Spots to Get the Perfect NYC Skyline View

You’ve booked your tickets, you’ve picked your hotel, you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the money you’ll spend and food you’ll eat whilst your there – you’re ready to go to New York. Next stop, picking out which attractions you want to do and see whilst you’re there, and how do you pick from all the options there are that promise that ultimate Skyline view?

Well – and I’ve mentioned this plenty of times on this blog – I’m lucky enough to have visited New York three times so far, and throughout each trip I’ve managed to fit most of the tourist attractions in. Below I’ve written up my views on which are the best, and listed them in order of how good I think they are, so if you’re visiting New York

  1. Brooklyn Bridge

Straight in at number one we have my favourite spot for that famous New York skyline view, and also a great way to travel over to Dumbo, Brooklyn. On our trip this year we woke up at 5am (thanks jet lag!) and decided to walk down to the bridge to catch sunrise. I’m so glad we did as it was my favourite moment of the holiday, having the whole bridge pretty much to ourselves and watching the sun come up over the city.

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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2. One World Observatory

In second place I would say my favourite viewpoint has to be the One World Observatory. We went this year on a whim, as the weather was so perfect it would’ve been a shame to miss out on the opportunity. When you buy your ticket you can also add on a drink for $5 – which I would advise doing if you want to view the skyline in style, as it was the biggest glass of prosecco I’ve had for that cost, and if you don’t buy it at reception, the costs at the bar at the top are a lot more money!

Anyway, the view at the top if incredible – you get a full 360 view of New York, from the Statue of Liberty right round to the rest of the city – including the Empire State Building. Also, it’s all inside with massive glass windows, so if you’re not weirdly scared of heights-but-only-when-you’re-outside, or is that just me?

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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3. Rockefeller Center/Bar Sixty Five

Another of my favourites, I think the view from the top of the Rockefeller center is really great, and if you can book yourself in for a time slot at dusk then it would definitely be worth it.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to see the view, you can also visit Bar Sixty Five, which is where I went on my last trip, however unfortunately it was 0% visibility, but the service and cocktails were lovely, so if you can get in on a lovely day then I would definitely recommend.

If you do buy the official Top of the Rock tickets then I’d advise booking in a slot as early as possible, as if it is terrible visibility they do allow you to come back at another date to try your luck with better weather!

The view is really good from the top, as you can see Central Park and The Empire State Building. The Top of the Rock is in two levels and you can pretty much take in a 360 view all the way around.

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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4. Empire State Building

Arguably one of New York’s most famous attractions, The Empire State Building is the main sight in every New York skyline shot, but what do you get when you actually go up it? Luckily enough I’ve been to visit twice, and the second time I actually went up to the 102nd floor, which is the extra bit right at the top.

I’d say the view is pretty great from right at the top, and if you can get in for sunrise/sunset it makes for a really pretty view. However, I’m not sure if I would say it’s one of the best you can get for your money. It’s not great for queuing, as they can often take a lot longer than you’d think – might be wort buying in fast pass tickets if you’re really strapped for time.

It is great for the experience of it, as it is the Empire State building, that is right in the centre of the city.  But perhaps if you’re after that view it’d be best to go to the Rockafella centre, where you can have this and the view of the Empire State?

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟

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Rooftop Bars

Salvation Taco

Now, this is my personal favourite way to take in a view – with a drink in hand. I couldn’t group it with the other viewpoints mentioned above, as technically a rooftop bar isn’t there just for the view – it’s also for the drinks/snacks/experience. Salvation Taco and Mr Purple mentioned next were two bars I had the pleasure to visit on my last trip to New York and I would definitely recommend both.

Salvation Taco was a treat on my visit as it was actually a Halloween party with all-you-can-drink margaritas, and that alone should be worth a 5/5 emoji rating.

However, the view up there is amazing, but it’s not the best. I would say if you fancy some tacos and a few margaritas (they were really tasty btw) then head on up here and you can have an amazing view at the same time. But my personal favourite rooftop bar is the next on this list…

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟

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Mr Purple

Mr Purple is a bar sandwiched in-between the floors at the Hotel Indigo, and I am so jelly of anyone who would get to stay there as the views are gorgeous! AND (weather permitting) you can even go for a dip in their pool if you’re staying there, which sounds like a lovely treat on a hot day in the city.

I think the view here was gorgeous and as always when you add a glass of wine or a cocktail into the mix it makes it 1000 times better. The only downside is when it gets quite windy you can really feel it up there. But despite the wind on a sunny and crisps day like we had, the view is incredible. You can’t quite see all around as you can in the other viewpoints mentioned earlier in this post, but I definitely think it’s worth a visit. Because if you’re going to have an expensive glass of wine in New York City then why not have it with THIS VIEW?

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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And there we are lads, I hope you enjoyed my round up of my favourite New York skyline viewing points. Let me know if you’re planning a trip to NYC in the comments section below, and don’t forget to check out my Instagram if you can 🙂

Big love to you all x

 

My Favourite Blogs to Follow for Travel Inspo

Hello everyone! We’re now officially into February, and thank God January is finally over! I hope 2018 is going well for you all so far? Dry January is officially over and payday has finally arrived, and to top it all of I’ve just booked a trip to Paris! What a way to start the new year, eh?

ANYWAY, with holiday planning in mind and the reason I’m here is that I wanted to share with you some of my favourite bloggers that I always turned to for travel recommendations. Below are a collection of bloggers – whether travel specific or not – who I really love and enjoy their content – and most importantly – I want you to see!

I hope you enjoy my recommendations below, and don’t forget to follow the links through to the gals below (just realised all the bloggers are ladies… huh!) and get following, liking and commenting 🙂

The Anna Edit

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you’re already signed up to my newsletter as I tend to wax lyrical about her, as I’m a huge fan of Anna and her blog and YouTube channel.

Whereas Anna is an all round blogger – covering Beauty, Fashion and lifestyle, I’ve really enjoyed her travel posts from the past year. Anna’s posts on New York especially came in useful last year when planning my own trip back in October, and I think they’re great reading for anyone else interested!

Anna’s YouTube channel is also a personal fav, and her video about her month-long trip New Zealand was so lovely and inspiring. It genuinely had me on Sky Scanner looking at the cheapest flight options (spoiler.. there aren’t that many..)

Anyway, if you’re looking for a really friendly and all-round blogger (beauty, fashion, travel, lifestyle) then I always recommend The Anna Edit. I love her blog and watching her videos and can’t wait for what she’ll produce in 2018!

If you’d like to read more from Anna, 3 of my favourite posts are as follows:


Girl Tweets World

I discovered Girl Tweets World in 2016 when I started the research for my trip to Australia, and have been a big fan ever since. Jayne – who runs GTW – is currently living in Melbourne, although I believe she is originally from ol’ Blighty. Her brilliant writing style and the extensive range of places she writes about means I can always lose a few good hours reading through her blog.

I really enjoy Jayne’s posts about Australia – especially her ‘Stylish Guide To’ posts, which are super helpful if you want to find the best side of a touristy place. I particularly found the Stylish Guide to Bondi Beach help for our trip, and will be on the look out for any more Australia content now I know I can plan for my trip there next January (eep!)!

I would definitely advise following Jayne on Twitter to keep up to date on her posts, and she also shares helpful tips and other bloggers to read, and with all that I think she’s hilarious as well!

If you’d like to read more from Jayne, 3 of my favourite posts are:


Shot From The Street

I’ve followed Lizzie’s Instagram, YouTube and blog for a long, long time, but I feel like 2017 in particular Lizzie created some beautiful content, and her vlogs were also so fab. Primarily I think Lizzie counts as a fashion blogger, her blog posts are so well written and the imagery is always incredible! Her week on film posts are gorgeous, and watching her vlogs as well really shows how much effort and time goes into creating them.

I’ve really enjoyed Lizzie’s vlogs from the past year, including her moving trip (because I’m kinda nosey…) but her laid back style, honesty and humour prove why her fanbase is growing so rapidly.

What I love about Lizzie is her incredible style – of course – but all of the innovative videos and blog posts she produces are really inspiring to try and up your blogging game. Her travels over the past year have also been inspiring – I feel like when Lizzie Hadfield visits/recommend somewhere – whether bar, restaurant or hotel – that’s a good seal of approval from me.

If you’d like to read more from Lizzie, 4 of my favourite posts/videos are as follows:


Suitcase Magazine

Okay – so this isn’t a blog per see, however the Instagram for Suitcase Magazine is seriously inspiring! I love the magazine as it is, but they’re great to follow on social media as well for your daily fix of travel inspiration and to read the vast amount of online articles they have available!

The website is super handy if you’re heading somewhere specific on holiday (or if you just fancy some inspiration) but I love going straight there when I’ve decided on a location, and looking at what articles/recommendations they have on offer!

The magazine itself comes out quarterly, and there are always offers available to subscribe – and for digital versions as well. Personally I love following their social accounts to get inspired, and to also find other travel bloggers along the way!

If you’d like to see more from Suitcase, 3 of my favourite postsare as follows:


Fashion Me Now

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Hot storms ahead 🌪

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I love Lucy Williams and her blog, and whereas initially she is a fashion editor and blogger, her travels are seriously wanderlust-y. They may be destinations I doubt I’ll visit myself anytime soon (Mauritius is slightly outside my budget), her travels and accompanying photography are beautiful and really inspiring. For example, Lucy’s posts about a trip to the Wyoming, Utah and Colorado ignited a want to visit there that I hadn’t had before!

Specifically last year I really loved Lucy’s posts about travelling to Zakynthos, which – perfect timing – were published just before my own trip. There’s honestly nothing better than finding the perfect post about somewhere you’re going yourself, I just wish I had the ability to take such good pictures, and wear such a nice wardrobe…

On non-travel note I also love the #fmnbookclub and also Lucy’s jewelry line with Missoma. So.. yep.. You can put me down as a member of the Fashion me Now fan club.

Below are 4 of my favourite posts to read:

 


Women Who Travel podcast by Condé Nast Traveler

(the above picture has literally nothing to do with this Podcast, but I love it all the same)

This is a very recent discovery but I have binged the entire series of Women Who Travel ever since I discovered the podcast by Condé Nast Traveler.

The podcast covers a broad range of topics that all relate back to travelling as a woman, from travelling as a mother, in addition to how the industry needs to do more for women of colour. I’ve really enjoyed the way the team discuss each aspect, such as where to travel safely as a female traveller, and how to handle group trips in an effective way.

I would definitely suggest this podcast – even if you’re not a big podcast listener – it’s great for someone like me with a long commute each day, but it’s also so interesting to listen along and be introduced to all these interesting topics! They also have a Women Who Travel Facebook group that you can apply to join, which is meant to be a big social safe space for female travellers to share their stories and tips!

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Thanks everybody who’s made it to the end of this mammoth post, I hope you’ve enjoyed all of these recommendations and go on to read/listen to all (even some) of the above. if there’s any blogs you’d like to recommend please leave them in the comments section, and whilst you’re here don’t forget to check me out on Instagram here 🙂

Have a lovely weekend you lovely lot! x