Beat those airline luggage fees!

In previous posts I’ve discussed how to bag amazing travel deals with Wowcher and Groupon, to ensure you keep costs low you’ll want to invest in the correct luggage to prevent yourself being hit with those pesky luggage fee’s cheap airlines love to hit you with! If you’ve never flown with Ryan Air before here is some helpful information on their luggage requirements:

All passenger fare types include a small personal bag, which must fit under the seat in front of you. In order to avoid the extra fees you’re going to want to take the essentials away with you and hopefully fit everything you need into this sized luggage:

Ryan Air has one of the most stringent cabin baggage policies so if you’re able to purchase luggage that fits their requirements you’ll be good to go with any other airline! If you’re travelling on a shoe string beating luggage fees can be one way to guarantee you’ll stay on budget. I will admit it can be VERY difficult to try and fit everything you need into one cabin bag, I’ve only managed this once on my trip to Tallinn as I was only visiting for 2 nights and didn’t need a massive amount. I think 3 nights is probably the maximum amount of time away you would be able to pack for but hey you might be a really lightweight packer and could teach me a thing or two about minimising luggage!

I’ve put together some of the best cabin luggage deals I’ve found, for full disclosure these items do include affiliate links.

  1. This Aerolite cabin bag starts at only £11.49 and is available in black, charcoal, rose gold and wine. It’s slightly less boujee than I would like personally but the biggest appeal is the bag is cheaper than the extra fees!!
  2. If backpacks are more your thing this Cabin Max travel bag may be for you! Personally I’m more of a Fjallraven Kanken kinda girl but they can be super pricey so this is definitely a great alternative.

3. This Daabliz travel flight bag is lightweight, waterproof and a pretty cute alternative to the Aerolite cabin bag.

4. Finally my favourite is this Eastarer laptop backpack which would be perfect for business trips.

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration on combatting the luggage fees and saving yourself some money. One final tip is to always make sure you check the luggage allowance and the dimensions given by the airline as this tends to differ dependent on the airline you are flying with. Some airlines are more lenient than others, not naming anyone in particular but I think you can guess from my previous posts…

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Guide to visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

I’ve recently come back from a weekend break to Munich and I think it’s safe to say Bavaria is the most beautiful place I’ve been so far. Maybe Copenhagen is close second but the views in the Bavarian alps are close to perfection. You can’t visit the region without going to Neuschwanstein Castle. If you haven’t heard of the castle (do you live under a rock?!) it’s the most visited tourist attraction in Bavaria and it always ranks highly on lists of the top attractions across Germany. Here’s a couple of snaps I took whilst I was there which may jog your memory!

Time for a quick history lesson before we get into the travel deets, feel free to skip this part if you have an aversion for the historical. I want to take this opportunity to try and prove to myself having a history degree wasn’t a complete waste of time! So, the castle (Schloss if you speak German, GCSE Germany wasn’t a complete waste of time either!) was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria in honour of the composer Wagner. You may have heard of Ludwig II being referred to as ‘Mad King Ludwig’, whilst he was undoubtedly eccentric the label of ‘mad’ came from a ploy by the Bavarian government to have him deposed. The government had to rid themselves of Ludwig as he was running up large debts with his compulsions to build spectacular castles (see Linderhof Palace and Herrenchiemsee Palace). If you’re into conspiracy theories then you’ll totes want to read up on how Ludwig died..

Getting to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich

It’s really easy to get to the castle from Munich, there are several different routes or transport you can take:

1. Train – from the main train station in Munich (Hauptbahnhof) you can easily get to Neuschwanstein Castle. The destination you will be looking for when purchasing your ticket is ‘Füssen’. Once you’ve arrived at Füssen then you will need to take the bus to Neuschwanstein. The stop you will be needing is “Hohenschwangau Neuschwanstein Castles, Schwangau”. Go here for more information on local bus routes. It will be fairly obvious when you arrive which stop you will need to get off at as you will be at the base of the castle at the visitor information point (Hohenschwangau). Just look directly upwards and you’ll spot the castle nestled in the hills…

View of Neuschwanstein Castle from Hohenschwangau.

For more information on train routes visit Bahn.

2. Local tours – if like me you’re a bit of a baby and unable to follow simple instructions then a local tour may be preferable to you. We booked our tour through Get Your Guide, I highly recommend this company I usually book the majority of my tours through them as it’s a super simple process and you can get everything arranged before you even leave the country. Our trip cost around £40 which included our train fare, bus and guided tour up to the castle. You have to pay for your tickets into the castle separately if you’d like to go inside, which after walking all of the way to the top why wouldn’t you?! Alternatively there are so many kiosks around Munich where you can buy tour tickets, these are likely to be a coach trip. If you prefer travelling by train I would recommend booking via Get Your Guide.

3. Car – if you’re brave enough to drive in Europe (as mentioned before I’m a total baby and haven’t attempted to do this yet) then you’ll have the freedom the stop off at the many beautiful locations along the way. After a quick google search you take the A7 motorway in the direction of Ulm-Kempten-Füssen until the end. I’m sure if you choose this option you’ll be using a sat nav or Google Maps, unless you’re a natural born navigator..

Arriving at Hohenschwangau

Once you’ve successfully made it to the visitor centre for the castle you’ll be out of breath just looking at the route up to the castle. Unless you’re actually fit and healthy then you’ll be thinking pfft this is easy peasy. Of course I fall under the first category. You have the option of taking a shuttle bus up the castle which costs: Uphill 2.50 euros, downhill 1.50 euro and a return trip is 3 euros. I did debate whether to take the shuttle bus but thought I would miss the beautiful views on the way up and down, even if it did mean my thighs were burning the whole time! If you’re looking for a more romantic option (yuck) then there is the option to travel up to the castle via horse-drawn cart, this costs: uphill is 7 euros and the downhill trip is 3.50 euros. I will say the queue for the carts was up to an hour wait which seems extortionate to me. Plus the horses looked so tired! If you’re able bodied and feel up to the task then I definitely recommend walking as the views on the way up are breathtaking. You also feel a great sense of achievement once you’ve made it all the way to the top, or at least I did because I’m very lazy.

Once you’ve arrived at the castle make sure you leave plenty of time to explore the grounds as there ‘s many different paths to explore. Each route offers spectacular views of the Bavarian alps and different perspectives of the castle.

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Lakeside in Romania

In August 2018 I went on one of my favourite holidays, a lakeside stay in Romania. We flew into Cluj Napoca and drove down to Bistrita to our lodge which sat on Lac Colibita. We spent 2 weeks in the sun, dipping in and out of the lake and just look that view!

Despite how pretty the view was we didn’t spend the whole time by the lake. We visited Salina Turda salt mine and went to Baile Figa water park. The salt mine was quite interesting, it took forever to walk down all of the steps to get into the mine. Once we made it to the bottom there was a small fun fair and activities like golf. It was quite cute but I’m not sure if it was worth the journey and the length of time it took to get into the mine. My calves were killing going back up all of those steps to see the light of day again!

The water park was my favourite trip we went on whilst in Romania and I would highly recommend it. Nestled in the hills Balla Figa doubles as an outdoor spa with a mud pool, salt water pool and a number of hot and cold pools to choose from. The water park had a good mix of activities for families and adults so if you’re travelling with children there’ll be plenty for all to do. This is the lazy river, a staple of any good water park :’)

I’m really hoping more people start visiting Romania as it is such a beautiful country and there is so much more to it than Bucharest!

Copenhagen and AirBNB

In April 2018 me and my best friend Georgie went to Copenhagen. We bagged relatively cheap flights with Norwegian then started looking for accommodation. Scrolling through AirBnb and found the weirdest apartment I had ever seen in my life. I sent Georgie the screenshot and she reluctantly agreed to letting us book the apartment, I’m fairly certain that I won’t be allowed to choose any of our future trips and you’ll understand why…

W T F
This is actually quite cute not gonna lie!

Honestly I feel like these images don’t even do it justice, there was just stuff EVERYWHERE. One thing that really freaked us out was the fact before we had even left the UK the host messaged us some strict rules to follow upon our arrival. We had to make sure we did not pull our suitcases through the apartment building, we had to carry them to ensure we didn’t make any noise.. this freaked us out before had even left! It made me feel like we were arriving somewhere we weren’t allowed to be. The fact I knew the apartment looked so odd probably didn’t help this feeling of unease. When we arrived at the apartment, after following our strict suitcase instructions, waiting for the guy to open the door he was playing loud classical music which made me feel like I was waiting to meet Hannibal. When meeting the host (I’m a terrible person I can’t remember his name) he gave us a quick tour of the apartment which we found out this was his actual HOME and he would be staying with a friend for the duration of our stay, this made me feel super awkward and bad for the guy! He told us he was an artist and the below piece was something he created, it’s not my type of thing but each to their own I guess

Art?

When showing us the toilet he pointed to a large shell he had placed on a shelf which contained sage with a feather next to it. He explained to us after we had been to the bathroom we should light the sage and waft it with the feather in the bathroom, fair enough?! I do feel super bad writing about the apartment as he seemed lovely but the place had the creepiest vibes and the toilet advice was just odd. Maybe it felt creepy because when sitting on the sofa in the evening watching Netflix it felt like you were being watched! For all of its faults the apartment was in a great location and like I said the host was really lovely although he looked like Ru Paul but with face tattoos.

We were within walking distance of Tivoli Gardens, Christiansborg Palace and Nyhavn which was great, everywhere we wanted to visit was within walking distance so personally I can’t really fault the apartment, Georgie might have a different opinion! Saying that I don’t think I would use Airbnb again just because I always felt slightly on edge knowing that the owner could access the apartment at any time, the feeling of “I could be murdered at any point” didn’t really help me get a good nights sleep! I quite like the anonymity of hotel stays, you can come and go as you please without anyone really acknowledging you leaving, that sounds slightly depressing when I think about it..

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Guide to booking holidays through Wowcher and Groupon

I’ve used Wowcher a number of times now when booking cheap city breaks and personally I can’t really fault it. As mentioned in my Budapest post the key to booking holidays through sites like Wowcher and Groupon is having low expectations. Here are some of my top tips if you’re thinking of booking a holiday with them:

  1. The first and most important point is flexibility. In order to get the best deal you will need to be flexible on the dates or even month that you are looking at going away. The deal will present you with the cheapest price you can get but remember this is never going to be for a popular time of year i.e. half terms. Also, if you’re able to be flexible with leave at work then you’re good to go. If you are unable to be flexible with the dates you have chosen, I would suggest booking a trip through these sites probably aren’t the best option for you.
  2. Low expectations. As I mentioned in this post low expectations are really important when booking cheap deals. You can’t expect to get a 2 week all inclusive deal for buttons. Although, I have seen some amazing deals for all inclusive holidays the point made above will assist or hinder you in grabbing that amazing deal. Most of the hotels booked via these deals are going to be 3 star at the most but I haven’t had any issues with any of the hotels I have stayed.
  3. Be prepared to fly with Ryan Air! If you’re going for 2-3 nights you can easily fit everything you need into hand luggage but if you like to pack on the heavier side be prepared to pay extra for luggage. When travelling to Tallinn I managed to fit everything I needed into my trusty Fjall Raven backpack which saved a fortune on those extra fees Ryan Air like to bombard you with. If you’re travelling with someone else you’ll have to pay to sit together, yep I’m not lying! If you’re thinking of visiting Tallinn in the near future you can read about it here, this is just one trip I booked through Wowcher.
  4. Don’t be surprised if you’re flying from Stansted Aiport. There doesn’t seem to be a great selection of UK wide flights so if you’re based in the north or Scotland you may not be able to get the super cheap deals they are advertising.
  5. Once you’ve found the trip you’d like to book and made the purchase, more times than not you will be contacting by the tourist operator who the trip is actually booked with. This is their chance to get more money out of you by offering extra days or better flights from more accessible airports but stick to your guns. When booking BUDAPEST I was offered earlier flights to give me an extra day for £50 I declined and after a ‘”quick conversation with my manager” they were able to give me the earlier flights for a £10 admin fee, sneaky.

Happy holiday hunting!

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