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Category: Travel, Holidays & Days Out

  1. How to save money when you go camping

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    Camping trips are a great way to relax, get some exercise and recharge your batteries with some time away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation.

    The problem many people have with camping is the setup cost involved when it comes to all the equipment needed. From food and shelter to all the other bits and pieces that can make spending time in the great outdoors a bit easier.

    There definitely is a lot of cool and hi-tech camping equipment out there that can make your trip a little more luxurious, but for us camping is something that is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to a hotel stay and allows us to visit places on more of a budget.

    Thankfully it is possible to enjoy a camping trip without breaking the bank.  Here are some of the ways you can save money when you go camping.

    How to save money when you go camping

    Photo by Patrick Hendry 

    Feeding yourself

    Feeding yourself on a campsite can be difficult as your options are limited. Instead of travelling with lots of cooking equipment and ingredients think about specially made camping meals.

    There’s lots of different providers but companies like Summit to Eat provide a number of different options, including some which are suitable for vegans.

    These options can save money and effort allowing you to enjoy your trip and some of the meal options available are incredibly tasty and quick to make, meaning they are perfect for fuelling your trip and giving you more free time to relax and enjoy yourself.

    Last time we went camping we managed to buy a camping stove in the sale and took cheap tins of beans with us!

    Shelter

    One of your biggest outgoings when you’re going camping is a tent. Bringing your own tent is often cheaper than renting accommodation, such as a glamping pod. However, it might be worth looking at this option if there’s a lot of you going camping, as a group of friends and you can split the cost between you to have a less stressful weekend with less set-up involved.

    If you do need to bring a tent keep in mind that they can be incredibly expensive so its worth asking around friends and family to see if anyone has a tent you could potentially borrow first.  Alternatively look online for a second hand version.

    This can save you a fortune. Another good idea is if you can borrow a tent ask the person you are borrowing it from to show you how to put it up and take it down properly.

    Not only will this help you avoid struggling to put a tent up on a campsite, but it can also help you avoid damaging the tent and having to replace it anyway.

    Essential equipment

    With camping, there’s a temptation to buy every gadget, space saving tool and handy piece of equipment there is to make spending some time outdoors as relatively easy as possible.

    This can pile a lot of unnecessary cost onto your trip. You should avoid this by planning carefully, work out exactly what you need and where you can trim away any excessive purchases.

    For example, you might not need to buy a whole new wardrobe for camping. Or there might be utensils, can openers, etc that you can bring from home. This can save you on having to buy new items for your trip and drastically reduce the cost of getting ready to go camping.

    Think about the following things to help you finalise your inventory for your trip:

    • How long you’re going for – if you’re going away for a weekend its more likely that you can travel light and need to buy or prepare less equipment for your trip.
    • What amenities your campsite has – some campsites provide kitchen areas, towels, etc. This can mean you again have less to bring with you as some equipment is tied into the cost of your campsite.
    • What your itinerary for the trip is – you might have the opportunity to eat out on various days meaning you have to buy less in terms of cooking equipment.

    Planning your trip can in more detail can help you to work out what you need to budget for in terms of activities, but also helps you create a comprehensive list of what you need to buy and what you can avoid.

    Taking the time to do this can help you define a budget for your trip, help you be properly prepared for your camping and ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy yourself and have a stress-free camping adventure.

     

    Related blog posts

    Ways to save money while on holiday

    Where to get affordable family travel insurance for a pre-existing medical condition

    7 free things to do with kids at Center Parcs Longleat

    9 Free Things to do in Gloucestershire (with kids)

    How to save money on family holidays and day trips

    Ways you may be wasting money without even realising it

    A list of 50 free and cheap things to do in the summer holidays with kids

    Save money on UK family days out with Kids Pass and sign up for just £1

     

    How to save money when you go camping

  2. 7 ways to save money on travel

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    Travelling is good for the mind, body, and spirit, but it can be pretty bad for the wallet. If you're ready to skip out of town, but want to save a few pounds so you're still in good shape when you get home, here are seven ways you can save money while travelling.

    7 ways to save money on travel

    Photo by Nils Nedel

    1. Be flexible with your flight dates

    The difference between Sunday and Tuesday can mean several hundred pounds in savings. Instead of being hard and fast on your dates, leave a little wiggle room if you can so as you can snatch up the best deal.

    2. Pack lunches

    One of the most expensive parts of any trip is meal time. Sure, you'll probably want to treat yourself to an awesome dinner while you're away, but you don't have to spend every pound in cafes. Instead, fill up your hotel fridge with salad, fruit, veg  and bread from the supermarket so as you can fill your family's tummies without spending your whole wage-packet in restaurants.

    3. Fly during unpopular hours

    You're getting to the same place, whether you fly out at 5pm or midnight. Why not choose the flight nobody else wants to be on? If it’s money you’re looking to save, then choosing a flight at a unpopular hour could be any easy way to do this.

    4. Live like a local

    People who live in tourist destinations don't abide by tourist prices. They've got their own affordable out-of-the-way places they use to dine, and they stay true to the people who do great things for their communities.

    Chat it up with locals when you're at a bar or standing in a check-out line. You'll be amazed at the gems locals are willing to help you uncover!  You could even ask your hotel staff where they’re favourite haunts are to avoid the tourist hotspots and find something really genuine with normal prices.

    5. Be a frequent flyer

    Even if you only get to fly once in a blue moon, it pays off to have a membership with a major airline. Frequent flyer mileage adds up pretty quickly, and if you're getting hotels and rental cars on the same account, you'll double your benefits.

    Frequent flyer mileage isn't only applicable to flight discounts; you can also use it for upgrades with the airline, discounted hotels, and cash-back rewards, depending on the program your airline-of-choice uses. If your airline of choice offers gift cards, you could even consider waiting until the winter months to purchase these; they get discounted at the end of the year. (This tip could be especially helpful if you’ve been thinking about a Christmas holiday vacation getaway).

    6. Call the hotel directly

    Most people don't realise that even discounted fares online aren't the lowest price a hotel is willing to offer. In fact, when you utilise a third-party service, you're often paying more because you're paying for that company's service fees.

    Cut through the expensive extras by calling the hotel directly. Ask if there are any specials available. If you'll be coming in late, you can often get great deals because the hotel already knows how many rooms it will (or won't) sell.

    This is one instance in life when it's great to be late to the party!

    7. Check out free days

    Once you know where you're going, pen all the places that would be great for your family to visit. This is just a brainstorming session, so you don't need to put anything down in a particular order.

    Once you've filled out your list with plenty of possible options, look online to see if any of them offer free days or special offers. Zoos, museums, and aquariums, for example, have a habit of offering free days at random times or BOGOF deals on tickets. If you can save yourself from paying entry fees for fun things, you've got extra money for something else you may not even have budgeted for!

     

    The key to saving money while travelling comes by being proactive and spending time planning. Make sure you've checked out the current prices for everything from hotel stays and flights to day-trip getaways.

     

    Read these next

    Ways to save money while on holiday

    Where to get affordable family travel insurance for a pre-existing medical condition

    7 free things to do with kids at Center Parcs Longleat

    9 Free Things to do in Gloucestershire (with kids)

    How to save money on family holidays and day trips

    Ways you may be wasting money without even realising it

    A list of 50 free and cheap things to do in the summer holidays with kids

    Save money on UK family days out with Kids Pass and sign up for just £1

    7 ways to save money on travel

     

  3. 3 tips to save money for cheap car insurance

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    Do you simply let your car insurance automatically renew each year?  Stop right now!  You could be one of the many people who are overpaying their car insurance and simply throwing money down the drain.  Apparently people are overpaying around £2billion per year by not seeking out a cheaper car insurance deal.  That’s pure madness if you ask me.  Are you wondering where you can find cheap car insurance tips?  I’m here today with three very savvy tips to help you find a cheaper deal on your car insurance.

    Every year I manage to find a cheaper car insurance deal and last year I was even able to find a better deal.  I managed to not only reduce my annual payment, but increased my protection form third party only to fully comp!  I also got one year’s breakdown cover included.  It’s totally worth shopping around and not forgetting about your car insurance each year, unless you’re absolutely loaded and don’t care about paying more than you need to for things.  But, if you’re like the majority of us, a saving and potentially a better deal is always preferred.

    Here are three things you should always do when searching for cheaper car insurance:

    3 tips to save money for cheap car insurance

    Image

    1.     Use a comparison site

    The first thing to do is to check out comparison sites.  Don’t just settle for one either.  Sometimes I’ve had a cheaper quote from the same company, but just on a different comparison site!  I like to use confused.com, moneysupermarket.com and TopCashBack Compare to start with.

    Once you’ve done say three comparison sites, you’ll get an idea of the cheapest quote for your car.  There are more comparison sites, so you can fill in as many as you like to find a really good deal!  But I think if you’re short on time and you’re starting to find a big saving compared to your renewal quote then three may be enough.

    It is a bit of a pain to fill in these sites with all your details, but if you create an account and providing you keep your car for more than one year, then they’ll save your car’s details to make it much quicker and easier to complete the following year.  I saved over £100 one year, so the pain of filling in all the forms was worth it!

    But, stop there!  Don’t go through with any car insurance before checking out the next two steps.

    Related:
    Today I saved BIG on my car insurance and MOT. Here’s how…
    How I saved £36 on my car insurance (with increased cover and breakdown) and got £12.80 cashback

    2.     Check for cashback

    Before you click through and purchase, always check for cashback!  The insurance company that you’ve found offering you the cheapest quote on a comparison site, might actually offer you a nice lump of cashback if purchase it via the link on Top Cashback or QuidCo

    You might have to fill out your details again to get a new quote, and this is sometimes slightly more, but with the cashback offer it should still be cheaper than going directly through the comparison site link, unless that comparison site is TopCashBack Compare.

    Related:
    How to get a discount on almost all your online and in store purchases
    How to earn cashback on things you already buy! 

    3.     Ask Mustard to beat the cheapest quote

    If your quote is a basic annual car insurance quote then Mustard promise to beat it!  They are an independent car insurance provider whose aim is to save you money on your car insurance.  You can call them and speak to a real human being to get a quote tailored to your exact needs.  I’m not sure if they can take the cashback into consideration, but tell them if you see any and see what they can do.  They clearly want everyone to go with them and for them to be able to give the best quote possible, so give them a try!

    Find out more about them in my blog post here: Mustard car insurance comparison promises to beat your cheapest online quote

    Always, always remember to search for a better deal when it’s time to renew your car insurance.  Once you have a quote it is a great idea to ring up and let your current provider know, just in case they can beat it.  If they want to keep your custom then they’ll have to.  Otherwise, just go ahead with your new quote and make a great saving!

    3 tips to save money for cheap car insurance

    I hope you manage to save lots of money each year on your car insurance!­­

  4. Save money by maintaining your car tyres

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    How much do you know about your car tyres?

    I’ve written several times about car safety checks on this blog as it’s so important to maintain your car mainly for your own personal safety and those around you, but also because it’s a cost-effective solution in the long run.  Maintaining your car with regular services, the yearly MOT, having any concerns checked at a garage and doing a few checks yourself on a regular basis will help to prevent a breakdown and keep your car in tiptop condition.  This will prevent costly breakdowns in the future and causing any unnecessary damage to your car if issues can be spotted before they are major.  One of the main areas of your car that you can check yourself is the tyres and I’ll share in this blog post how exactly this will save you money.

    Save money by regularly maintaining your car tyres

    Tyre quiz

    I thought I knew a lot about tyres, but I was wrong!  I tried an online quiz on the Kwik Kit website and only scored a measly 5 out of 10!  Oops!  I definitely need to brush up on my tyre knowledge.  Try the quiz yourself and let me know how you get on!

    How to check your car tyres at home

    Sadly I didn’t know as much as I thought, but I do know several ways to check your car tyres at home:

    • Check the pressure – I search online for ‘car tyre pressure’ and enter my car registration into an online checker to see the correct pressure for my front and back tyres.  The pressure is different for the front and back of my car.  I then use a portable pump to reach the correct pressure.  You can also get air at fuel stations.
    • Check for objects – Sometimes objects get stuck in the tyres which can cause a puncture resulting in a slow loss of air.  If you find an object such as a nail stuck I the tyre then it’s advisable to leave it there, as it may be plugging the hole which prevents air loss.  Drive to a local tyre centre where it can be removed and the puncture repaired, or a new tyre fitted.  If you are unsure of driving then call your local tyre centre for advice.
    • Check for wear and tear – Simply looking at the tyres to assess their condition can be a good way to indicate their state.  If they look worn and tired, then chances are they are.  Seek a professional opinion if this is the case.
    • Check the tread depth – 1.6mm is the legal minimum tread depth, but consider changing your tyres when the depth is 3mm.  1.6mm is too low in wet conditions and you don’t want to risk it wearing down any more, so change it before it hits the absolute minimum.

    Save money by maintaining your car tyres

    Not only will maintaining your car tyres and ensuring they are fit for purpose keep you and your loved ones safe, but it will also save you money!  Here’s how:

    • No costly breakdowns – If your car tyre is under inflated then this can cause a blow-out.  Not only is this a scary and dangerous situation to be in, especially if travelling at speed, but it will result in breakdown and recovery costs.
    • Better fuel efficiency – It’s estimated that 50% of the tyres on the road are under-inflated which is not only dangerous, but increases your fuel consumption!  Save money on fuel by regularly checking you have the correct pressure in your tyres.
    • Invalid insurance – If you are in an accident and your tyre tread is not the legal depth then this will render your car insurance invalid, meaning you’ll be liable for any costs as a result of the accident.
    • Spot suspension problems – Uneven wear on the tyres can point to other car issues such as a suspension issue.  Checking your tyres could flag these issues that can be fixed before they become a major problem.

    Keeping your tyres maintained will keep you safe and save you money!  It’s a no-brainer.

     

    Related blog posts

    Mustard Car Insurance Comparison Promises to Beat Your Cheapest Online Quote 
    Expenses to consider when purchasing a car
    4 features every family car needs
    Travel Safely with these Car Safety Checks
    5 important car checks before your next family road trip
    Why checking and buying the right car tyres is important for your safety
    7 driver safety reminders

     Save money by regularly maintaining your car tyres

     

  5. How to stay warm when camping in a Mazda Bongo in cold weather

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    We recently went camping to Rhossili Bay in our Mazda Bongo Friendee for a spur of the moment one night trip without the kids, and let me tell you, it was freezing!  We got a great deal on the campsite as it was the end of the season being October and they don’t open past this month.  I quite enjoyed it as it meant the campsite was really quiet.  I did ask Ben why he thought they shut at the end of October, but before he could answer, I answered my own question as I realised it’s probably just too cold. 

    Even though we went near the beginning of October, it was still freezing!  The weather was quite unpredictable.  It was 6 degrees when we woke at around 7am to 7.30am in the morning, so who knows how cold it had been overnight.  In the day time though, it was really warm by midday in the sun.  So warm, in fact, that we had to take all our layers off and we were in t-shirts!

    It seems a shame to have the van all through winter and not be able to use it.  Even though I detest the cold weather, I do sometimes like wrapping up warm and getting outdoors.  I don’t want to totally hibernate inside for the entire winter.  I love being outdoors in nature and seeing the change in season.  I just need to find a way to stay warm! 

    Here are my suggestions of how to stay warm when camping in a campervan in cold weather:

    How to stay warm when camping in a Mazda Bongo in cold weather 1

    Wrap up warm!

    Mini heater

    This is such a great idea.  We have a plug socket in the van and Ben said perhaps we can get a mini heater inside the van.  I have found the perfect solution at Coopers of Stortford who stock a mini heater that they call a ‘pint sized’ heater.  It plugs into a socket and is not much bigger.  It can heat for 1-12 hours and even has temperature control.  I’m not sure if Ben realised there would be something quite so dinky, but I think it’s a perfect solution.  We have a leisure battery installed so we can run it off this without draining the main battery.

    Leave the pop-top down

    This was my genius solution whilst camping as I was certain lifting the pop-top roof would just create more space that would need heating up.  We left it down so we were in a more confined space and I believe this kept us warmer.

    Sleep fully dressed

    I didn’t dare get changed into my pyjamas and instead slept fully dressed, socks and all.  I would highly recommend fluffy socks, cosy jogging bottoms and a fluffy jumper to sleep in!  Perhaps even a hat if it’s super freezing! 

    Snuggle up

    If there’s two or more of you, then snuggle up!  Keep each other warm!

    Take lots of blankets

    Pack some extra blankets.  And then pack some more.  And then pack some more.  I questioned ben on why he was packing sooooo many blankets and thought it was overkill, but when it came to night time I realised it wasn’t even enough!  We had a couple of cosy blankets under us, our duvet from home and then around three or four throws on top.  It was still cold!  The extra blankets and throws definitely helped though and we’ll be taking every last one we own next time!

    How to stay warm when camping in a Mazda Bongo in cold weather

    We took a camping stove so we could have warm food first thing!

    Or use a thermal sleeping bag

    Probably the most obvious solution is to use a thermal sleeping bag.  This was Ben’s suggestion, but I just hate sleeping in sleeping bags.  I feel so trapped.  Perhaps I’ll change my mind if we go in even colder weather!

    Use thermal screens

    I’ve also discovered these thermal interior screens that will not only keep us warm and retain the heat in the van overnight, but they’ll give us some extra privacy too.  We have built in blinds on all the regular windows, but nothing on the front or back windscreens.  It’s on our list of things to buy, but we were just thinking of something thin for privacy, instead we can choose thermal screens to keep us warm in the colder months.

    Have a warm cuppa

    There’s nothing more warming than a nice hot cup of tea or cocoa!  Invest in some proper thermos flasks to keep hot drinks hot for hours and use them when you need them the most – to warm up at night time or in the morning!

    We definitely need to invest in a few more things for the van to keep us warm outside of the summer months.  I don’t want the cold weather to put us off exploring and we’ll be getting a mini heater and thermal screens ASAP!

     

    Here’s some kid-free camping adventures:

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - A weekend in Wales with camping, beaches and castles 
    A Kid Free Weekend: Hot tub glamping and zip wire fun at Chepstow Quarry

    And with the kids:

    Branscombe Airfield and Campsite review and two day Devon travel diary

     How to stay warm when camping in a Mazda Bongo in cold weather (2)