There’s an age-old misconception still floating about that a person needs to be rich or have lots of money to be able to afford to travel. Sure, if you fly suites class, only stay in 5*+ hotels and enjoy 6-course meals each meal time, that might make sense – but your average traveller doesn’t do that.

One of the many reasons I was so keen to set up this blog was to show people that travel doesn’t have to be expensive; it’s not something reserved for the rich anymore. A few simple changes here and there, a bit of flexibility and some self-initiative can save you a lot of money when you’re planning your travels. I call it travelling smart; but more on that another time!

For now, let’s jump straight into 6 ways I’ve saved myself £1000’s on my travels, and how you can too!

1. Let your hotel know about your special occasions

If you’re visiting for a special occasion (birthday, honeymoon, anniversary) be sure to let your hotel know in advance. Chances are, they’ll want to do something nice for you! Drop them an email explaining how excited you are to stay in their hotel and let them know about your special occasion. 99% of the time I’ve done this, we’ve been rewarded with a special surprise – from room decorations to cakes and upgrades and it costs you nothing!

Most resorts offer honeymoon packages worth hundreds of pounds – so make sure you let your booking agent or hotel know about your special occasion! Some hotels also offer “celebration packages” at an additional cost, just keep that in mind if they do come back to you offering a priced package.

2. Always check hotel websites for the latest deals and promotions

I have to admit, I’m a serial user. I always find prices cheaper on and it’s so quick and easy to use, but sometimes, shopping directly through the hotel’s website can make you big big savings even if it doesn’t look like it at face value! Look out for offers that may include free breakfast, airport transfers, discounts for staying a certain number of nights (or free nights), free dining vouchers etc, these offers can save you a lot of money and many only apply to rooms booked through hotel sites directly.

3. Check what your bank has to offer

Most UK banks will offer some form of travel benefits/insurance for their customers. Speak to your bank and see what travel benefits are included within your account. It may be worth upgrading your account to get better cover – or shop around! This could save you many £’s in the long run.

For a small monthly fee, my bank provides me with a number of perks including free worldwide travel insurance meaning I don’t have to shell out for additional cover. American Express is excellent for it’s travel benefits; from car hire cover to flight-delay compensation, lounge passes, and so on (I’ll be reviewing AMEX soon!). Some banks and credit cards will also give you cashbacks or discounted rates on certain hotel chains and car hire companies.


4. If you’re not happy – complain!

I think us Brits have a serious problem with leaving genuine feedback for fear of appearing rude or ungrateful, even when we have a very valid reason to complain. I used to be the grin-and-bear it queen until I had a close friend who complained about virtually everything and I noticed how keen companies were to make it up to her.

If something is wrong, just complain about it! I’m not saying complain about everything and invent problems – but if something isn’t right, or up to the standard you expect from the brand/hotel/company – let them know.  Chances are they’ll go out of their way to make the experience up to you because they don’t want a bad reputation.

Many moons ago, I checked into a hotel room while travelling with family and noticed the bin hadn’t been emptied by housekeeping prior to our arrival. We placed a 2 second phone call to reception to let them know, they immediately sent a cleaning crew to clean the loo. Then management called to apologise profusely and offered us food vouchers for every single one of us (staying across the two rooms we’d booked!) to visit the overpriced hotel-buffet for lunch/dinner that evening. The vouchers were worth a LOT of money.

Perhaps my biggest win was on our honeymoon, when Mr H and I were upgraded to the most luxurious villa in the entire resort for the remaining duration of our stay in the Maldives due to a number of small issues in our first villa that we reported to management. It was a room we had dreamed of staying in but couldn’t afford, and we got to enjoy it for the majority of our trip! Moral of the stories – complain when something isn’t right!

5. Look out for airline & airport offers

It’s well worth checking if the airline your flying with has any special offers or free promotions running during your holiday. You can find these through airport and airline websites, sometimes they’re included in the in-flight magazine. National carriers frequently offer discounts in their home country to encourage you to fly with them. I used my Singapore Airlines boarding pass to gain discounted entry into attractions in Singapore.

If you’re transiting through Singapore’s Changi airport on Singapore Airlines, Silk Air or Air New Zealand, take advantage of the free $20-$40 voucher for airport spending. Turkish Airlines recently had a scheme providing free hotel rooms and free tours of Istanbul for Turkish Airlines passengers on transits longer than 7/10hrs. Qatar Airways similarly provided free hotel accommodation and are still offering free tours of Doha for transit passengers.

6. Loyalty schemes can save you a lot of money

This is quite an obvious one but one you really shouldn’t be overlooking. If you stay in a particular chain of hotels regularly, sign up for their loyalty scheme. You can score discounted rates, room upgrades, free hotel rooms, free breakfasts and more, saving you hundreds, if not thousands of £ in the long run. I’ve used my HHonors membership to score free breakfasts, free afternoon teas and stays on some of the most exclusive floors of hotels. Of course it goes without saying,  if you’re not already signed up to a frequent flyer’s club – do it now!

If you have any travel-freebies hacks share yours in the comments section below, I’d love to hear how you save on your travels.


Sarajevo, the city that drifted in and out of the headlines on our TV screens for years on end during the early 90’s, always reminding us that somewhere, not so far away, something terrible was happening. Reminding us that children just like us (at the time), were suffering immeasurable pain and growing up amidst devastation. The images of empty streets with makeshift barricades, families desperately scurrying across the main street in Sarajevo under sniper fire, and the burning remains of the Council building remain imprinted on my mind so vividly, even now, some twenty something years later.

We landed on the tarmac at Sarajevo airport early in the morning and were instantly struck by an air of calm. The stunning backdrop of mountains in the distance, coupled with a lucky bright blue cloudless-sky greeted us. As we journeyed our way towards the hotel in the old city, we were struck by the many contrasts of this city.

Small traditional houses with terracotta rooftops nestled amidst lush green mountains in the distance, modern sky scrapers standing next to abandoned buildings bearing the scars of sniper fire, grand Hungarian-inspired buildings, set against a backdrop of traditional Ottoman architecture, with minarets towering in the sky . Through a single road, Sarajevo will tell you it’s history, all you need to do, is to look out for it.

We ventured into the old town of Baščaršija as coffee shops and stalls opened their doors for their first customers. For the next hour, we sipped on Bosnian coffee and watched the old town go about it’s day. There was an Istanbul-esque vibe about it, the Ottoman mosques dotted about, always reminding you of the city’s Ottoman ancestors. But Baščaršija was far calmer, even by mid-day, when tour groups arrived, walking tours commenced, and locals went about their day picking up bread from local bakeries and catching sips of coffee on their way; there was a calmness. A calmness we loved.
















It’s hard to forget what this city has endured, not so long ago. After the fall of Yugoslavia and a Bosnian independence referendum, Sarajevo was besieged by the Yugoslavian People’s Army. The siege lasted a total of 1425 days, up until February 1996. The city was encircled, snipers nestled themselves on vantage points on the outskirts of the city, shelling and fighting bought chaos to the city. Streets became war zones. Starvation was rife, with no proper way in or out of the city, the population were trapped with no supplies. Many who attempted to cross the makeshift borders into neighbouring towns were killed instantly.

The not-so-distant bloody history of Sarajevo is still very visible today, from burnt-out buildings to bullet-ridden walls. I could not help but wonder how the siege had affected all those we conversed with. Those my age were just growing children at the time, today, many are heads of households.

[The Kovaci cemetery is home to some of the victims of the war, alongside the grave of Bosnia’s first president Alija Izetbegovic, who died in 2003]

There are so many signs of recovery here. The modern part of the city connects itself so seamlessly with the old town. As the cobblestones give way to pavements, you’ll find streets lined with shops, glossy malls, and young Sarajevans hanging out in hip cafes – a sight almost unimaginable some 20 years ago. The Olympic bob-sleigh/luge tracks built for the ’84 Olympics are finding new life and becoming a canvas for the local art scene. International brands have set up shop and international investors have set sights on the city, the tourism industry is steadily growing, mainly through support of investors from Gulf countries. Outside the national Library sits a replica of a Cable Car compartment – part of a new cable car service due to arrive in Sarajevo in the near future. It will bring the cable car back to Sarajevo (another piece of history destroyed by the war), transporting passengers to the top of Mount Trebvić.

There is no rush to forget what happened here, Sarajevans are preserving their history, still determined for the world to know their story. The “Tunnel Of Hope” – the only lifeline for this city under siege still stands today, you can walk through part of the original underground tunnel to understand it’s role in the cities survival. Through an assortment of Museums and Galleries, Sarajevo’s recent war history is being told.

There’s something so special about Sarajevo, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know so many other people feel the same way. Perhaps it’s an air of simplicity? The kindness of it’s people? The untouched natural beauty spanning miles and miles in the distance? Or perhaps it the knowledge of what this city has been through in it’s lifetime? Power struggles, a mixed identity, independence, war and ultimately recovery? An endless journey to pick up the pieces.

We fell in love with the city, so much more than we thought we would. I was so much more excited about Mostar when we set out for our trip, but after just a few hours in Sarajevo, I never wanted to leave. We said goodbye with a heavy heart and a vow to return to the beautiful city once again. Hopefully soon.

Here’s our traditional travelling chalkboard shot:

Some tips if you’re visiting Sarajevo :

  •  Bring comfortable shoes! I can’t stress this enough. There are plenty of hills/steep climbs/cobbled streets that make for a challenging walk. We lived in trainers and our feet thanked us for it!
  • If you are travelling with someone with mobility issues/children, stay in a hotel that is not on a hill (check on TripAdvisor). We stayed in the wonderful Hotel Aziza but it was set on a steep hill.
  • Sarajevo is safe! There’s a strange misconception that the city is still at war – it’s not. The city is safe, just exercise the usual caution you would anywhere in the world and you’ll be fine!
  • There is no Uber in Sarajevo but there is a number you can call for a taxi. Red taxis (with font on the bonnet) have meters. You can also get around by tram.
  • We found it very difficult to find a Sim card in Sarajevo – we found one shop near the Gazi Husarev Mosque in the old town that sold them.
  • Halal food : Bosnia is a majority Muslim country and Halal food is easy to find. You can confirm Halal status with restaurant owners.
  • If like us you make a pilgrimage to the land of Golden Arches every time you step foot in a Muslim country, rejoice, McDees is Halal in Bosnia (according to staff at our hotel)

    Don’t forget to check out my post on 10 things to do in Sarajevo!


When people see the excitement I have for travelling and airplanes, it can be hard to believe I had a severe phobia of flying, up until quite recently.

I’ve heard so many people say they would love to travel the world, but a fear of flying stops them. It may sound ridiculous to some people (who’ve never dealt with such anxiety) but as someone who has been on both sides of the fence; fear of flying can be a serious problem. The good news is, it’s curable.

I developed a fear of flying quite suddenly at around the age of 10, it gradually got worse and worse. I can’t pinpoint what it was that kicked it off, except that at that time, I was suddenly flying a lot, and with little advance notice. One of my siblings had moved abroad and we were regularly having to visit them. There would be days I would come home from school and find out we were flying the very same evening.  They weren’t short flights either, at 5 and a half hours, and that’s without the transit flights!

At first I just got nervous boarding the plane, felt uneasy during the flight, perhaps had some nausea, then it would all be over once we landed. This quickly evolved into being unable to sleep in the lead up to flights, I was unable to eat anything the night before, I’d wake up with stomach cramps and nausea, then proceed to throw up constantly, until we landed (seriously!). I would throw up before leaving for the airport, in the airport, on the plane, in the airport once we landed, and occasionally when we arrived at our destination.

For the duration of the flight I was unable to eat, drink, talk (seriously), read, move, look out the windows or do anything. My heart would race continuously. I was literally paralysed with fear. I missed out on so many great flying memories (and Air France’s legendary children’s packs!) because of this. Flying was a nightmare that plagued my pre-teen years and I wasn’t even going on holiday to make it worthwhile!

Despite that, I was still desperate to travel. Coming from a mixed-ethnicity family, since a young age I have always been so curious about different countries and cultures, I knew travelling was my way of experiencing them even more.

Somewhere in my teens, I decided to work on my fear of flying. There was no overnight solution, I still got bouts of panic here and there, but within a few flights I managed to hop on board a 12hr flight alone and I was fine!


Here are some of the things I did to help manage my flight anxiety, that may help you:

Understand your fear
Firstly, have a really good think about where your fear of flying stems from. Is it due to it being an unfamiliar or new sensation? Is flight safety a concern? Are you fearful of a plane crash? Does the discomfort of being in a pressurised cabin make your stomach turn? Do you have claustrophobia? Once you decipher all the reasons you are scared to fly, you can begin to tackle them one by one.

Educate yourself
This was without a doubt the most important part of “recovery” – and is in fact part of the reason I am so obsessed with planes today! To work through my fears I must better understand them, and that’s exactly what I did (p.s doesn’t work with fear of cockroaches!). My prime concern was flight safety, I was convinced any plane I boarded would fall out of the sky, fly head-on into another plane, or overshoot the runway. No matter how many times I flew and landed safely at my destination – I always told myself the next flight would be the one that killed me.

To work on this fear, I started researching planes. I read everything; how they were built, why they were built, which planes had the best safety records etc. Documentaries were great for visual references. I quickly became obsessed with Air Crash Investigation and watched every episode. This might unsettle some people, but for me, understanding how much airline safety has improved because of historical plane crashes helped me understand the advances we have made in technology and how strict flight regulations are today to avoid such accidents ever happening again.

The reality is, flying is actually the safest method of transport. You’re far more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash. According to the Civil Aviation Authority “There is an average of one fatality for every 287 million passengers carried by UK operators. This can be compared with a one in 19 million chance of being struck and killed by lightning in the UK or a one in 17,000 chance of being killed in a road accident.” Those are staggering figures. As I type this, there are currently 17,306 airplanes flying the skies above us, and I can guarantee you, we won’t hear of a single plane crash by the time this post goes up.

Planes are incredibly robust structures built to do the impossible – to fly. They are packed to the bring with some of the most advanced technology in the world and they are only getting safer. This video explaining the flight process may be of help.

Eliminate stress
Eliminating as much stress as you can BEFORE you get to the airport will give you peace of mind and make you less susceptible to anxiety. Some ways you can do this:

  • Pack in advance so that you aren’t running round like a headless chicken trying to remember things at the last minute
  • Gather all your important documents the night before (or days before) and put them in one safe place
  • Keep check-lists (packing list, to do list) so that you are sure you’ve remembered everything
  • Double check for your important documents when you leave home (set a phone reminder)
  • Wear comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement or delay you getting through security
  • Check in online to avoid queues and to give you as much time as you need to arrive at the airport and clear security

Build a good pre-flight relaxing routine
This may sound stupid, but being relaxed in advance can really help take the edge off fear of flying. The night before you fly, take time to just relax. Have a bath, read a book or listen to classical music – anything you find relaxing. This should help you get a better nights sleep and result in better spirits in the morning. Avoid foods that give you discomfort or that could potentially flare up any conditions you have (fizzy drinks are my enemy before a flight!).

Choose your seat wisely
If sitting in a specific seat terrifies you, make sure you make a seat selection at check in. Checking in online usually gives you the best pick of seats (do it early) but if for any reason you haven’t managed to, ask at the check in desk. They may be able to accommodate your needs if there is availability. If you are likely to require access to the loos, opt for an Aisle seat so that you aren’t stressed about asking fellow passengers to move for you.

Take something to calm you down
I found the natural remedy Travella helped me immensely, you can also buy this in Boots in some UK Airports. A few drops of Lavender essential oil on a tissue or napkin can also provide relief. Consult a pharmacist if you are looking for other options.

Stay hydrated
We all know the importance of being well hydrated in our day to day lives, but it’s a thousand times more important up in the air. Cabin pressure can cause you to become dehydrated quite quickly and make you susceptible to headaches, body aches, feeling unwell etc. Stay hydrated, even if you are unable to stomach anything else. Take a water bottle with you onto the plane to ensure you always have it at hand.

Converse with fellow passengers
Conversation will distract you. If you’re flying solo, be brave and make conversation with the person sitting next to you. Some of the most profound conversations I’ve had in my entire life are with the passengers sitting next to me on flights. During one of my very first super long-hauls between Singapore and Cairo, I felt fine until we had around 3 hours of flying time left, then the anxiety kicked in. I actually moved seats to sit near a fellow traveller who looked around my age and started a conversation. We turned out to have so much in common, and I aced the landing!

Travel smart

If you are struggling with anxiety every time you board a plane but are still required to travel, travel smart. Build your journey centered around your wellbeing.

If checking in and clearing airport security stresses you out, arrive at the airport extra early.  If you are terrified of being on a plane for long periods of time, book a transit flight to give you a break from being up in the air. If you’re terrified of landings and find a single landing difficult enough – don’t book a transit flight. If cabin pressure and noise sets you off, invest in noise-cancelling headphones or try to fly on a different plane. I was surprised at the lack of cabin pressure and noise when I flew on the Airbus A380 (aka my favourite plane of all time!) – of course the A380 doesn’t serve all flight routes, but I would always pick it on a route if it’s an option.

The important thing is to make the journey less overwhelming so that you have the mental and physical energy for situations beyond your control that may arise.

And finally…

Don’t be defeated. Fear of flying is extremely common, perhaps more than you may think. Give yourself the time to work through it, at a pace that is right for you. There is no single solution that will work for everyone, but I hope some of the tips listed above may be of use to you.