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Category: Travel, Holidays & Days Out

  1. 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

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    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!­­

  2. 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 Fit 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

     

  3. 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)

     

  4. A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales

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    Two weekends ago we went on a spur of the moment camping trip to Rhossili Bay which is part of the Welsh coast on the Gower Peninsula.  It was the first time going there and our second trip to the Gower this year.  Earlier this year Ben and I took the camper van for its first ever camping trip to Oxwich Bay.

    My mum had the kids for the night which had already been planned.  She was having them for 24 hours from 3pm Sat to 3pm Sun.  We didn’t originally plan on going away as it didn’t seem long enough to get very far and after writing my winter bucket list blog post I originally wanted to go tubing to tick it off the list!  So we’d planned on going tubing which is only £11 each at the local dry ski slope in Gloucester – somewhere I’ve never been yet.  But that week I was feeling really stressed!  I was getting serious cabin fever with being at home so much!

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    For the first time in almost eight years, Ben managed to take some nice photos of me!

    I work at home and I’m at home nearly all the rest of the time as our kids are just 3 and 6, so in bed early and so on.  My day is often school runs, work at home, then home all evening.  I was starting to feel like I’ve just been at home for weeks on end and not done anything else, so needed to get out of here. School, home, gym.  That’s my life and it’s all local to me and I just need to get out and do more things!

    I said to Ben we should maybe go away for the night instead and expected him to say there wasn’t enough time.  He usually classes any drive over one hour as a holiday and doesn’t usually like driving far at all unless it is for a holiday or specific reason.  So I was shocked when he sent me a map image of Rhossili Bay back and said ‘let’s go’.  It was a 2.5 hour drive and we only had 24 hours!  I thought he was joking, but luckily he was being serious so we started searching for a campsite.

    Hillend Campsite review

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    Our van is down there in the field!

    We found Hillend Campsite online before we left and it looked perfect.  It was right by the beach and only £16 for a night’s stay as it was October – the last month they are open for the year.  There was also no need to book, just turn up, pitch up and pay when your there.  I loved this flexibility so we didn’t feel tied to go if it was chucking it down with rain!

    Pitching up for us is easy with the van.  We have a Mazda Bongo with pop top roof.  We literally pull up, find a spot and we’re done!  Ha!

    It’s so easy.  We don’t have a converted van as we decided we wanted a larger sleeping area and would just go out for food, buy picnic type food or use Ben’s new camping stove to cook something easy in a pan and we don’t need to take up valuable space in the van for this.  I’d much rather a bigger bed!

    The campsite was ideal.  Super cheap, lots of toilets, hot showers and as it was end of season it was really quiet – perfect!  It was also only a stone’s throw away from the beach. 

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    Dinner at Kings Head Inn, Llangennith, Gower

    The setting was great.  It was one mile from a pub called Kings Head Inn which we walked to as soon as we got there.  We arrived at dinner time and are clockwork with our hunger!  I can’t wait too late for food!  They had a delicious vegan chickpea curry so this was perfect.

    We sat outside as the view was lovely.  It wasn’t that warm, but we kept our coats on and the setting was too beautiful not to really.  There was a church opposite and the hills dropped down to the sea.  It was so nice and we really felt like we had got away for a mini holiday!

    The curry was so delicious and huge portions!  I ordered chips on the side as I was starving, but the mains were plenty big enough.

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    Rhossili Bay review

    I absolutely love Rhossili Bay.  I felt really emotional when there as it’s the most perfect beach in the UK that I’ve seen so far.  I really want to live by a beach one day and hadn’t seen anything remotely suitable yet, but now I think Rhossili could be a contender.  It is a large sandy beach with pebbles and dunes at the back, as well as gorgeous green hills behind it with plenty of countryside and walks.  The back of the beach is hilly and not built up with residence or for tourism at all.  It still has all its natural beauty.

    At the end of the beach is Worm’s Head.  It’s a tidal island that is accessible at low tide.  It has a really cool natural rock bridge called Devil’s Bridge.  We did walk along the beach for around one hour from the campsite to Worm’s Head in the morning, but we needed to get back home for lunch and to pick up the kids, so didn’t make it all the way across Worm’s Head.  I hope to return one day to see cross over at low tide and walk over Devil’s Bridge.

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    It’s a really spectacular place and we sat for a moment at the edge of the low tide crossing part of Worm’s Head to look back over the beach and see the sea all around.  There are lots of rugged rocky cliffs to admire and I enjoy the fresh sea breeze and sound of the gulls.  I could imagine myself living there and walking to that spot with a book on a summer’s day to lie in the sun and read.  Bliss!

    Rather than walk back along the beach, we walked up the hill to the top where there’s a view over the whole peninsula.  I said to Ben there must be something wrong with this place as it’s so ideal – sandy beach ideal for running along in the morning and the kids to play on,  plenty of countryside, not built up, campsites, a couple of pubs and lots of walks… what could be wrong?  It seemed perfect.  On our hour walk back over the hills to the campsite we bumped into some residents and they said it was very calm day.  They told us it’s normally really windy and we’d be battling against the wind to get up that hill and walk across it.  Ah-ha.  It does have a downside, not that I was hoping for one, but it all seemed too perfect a place.  I think we need to go back and see how windy it is!

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wels

    Final thoughts

    Even when there Ben questioned why I would not go to the same place twice.  I always say this and it’s because I feel life is short and if I go back somewhere again then that’s a chance of seeing somewhere new that I’ll never get back again.  I want to see and do as much as possible in my life and so I love to explore new places all the time.  That said, I do want to go back to explore the other beaches we didn’t see and to go properly onto Worm’s Head and see Devil’s Bridge.  We also picked up a map for the Gower coastal path so this is something we are both keen to do – walk around the whole Gower over 2-3 days and see everywhere!

    I really enjoyed Rhossili Bay.  It’s a stunning beach with a beautiful natural backdrop, perfect for long walks, beautiful scenery and fresh air.  A true escape from the monotony I was feeling at home!

     A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wale

    Here’s some camping we’ve done without the kids before:

    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

    A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay in the Gower, Wales

  5. Accommodation types for all budgets in European cities

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    Whether you’re looking for a little luxury on your next European city break, or you’re on a shoestring budget, here are several different types of accommodation that you’ll find in European cities.

    Accommodation types for all budgets in European cities

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    Hotel

    Hotels are a popular accommodation as it’s easy to check in and out, easy to pay, some offer free cancellation and your room is cleaned for you.  Many hotels also have a concierge who is there for you to ask advice and make your stay as comfortable as possible. They can arrange tours of the city for you, book excursions, order taxis and help to ensure you have an enjoyable stay.  They’ll also be able to recommend the best places to visit.  Hotels are definitely a convenient choice when travelling.  Hotels can vary greatly in price depending on the star rating and services offered.  It's also possible to save money by booking last minute.

    Serviced apartment

    For the ultimate in luxury and if you have more cash to splash, then try your very own private and serviced apartment.  Have an entire apartment to yourself with the benefit of a kitchen so you can choose to cook yourself.   Apartments are spacious and more homely than hotels.  I've seen some amazing serviced apartment accommodation in Paris which looks gorgeous and I'd love the opportunity to stay there one day.  See what I'm talking about at https://paris-claridge.frasershospitality.com/en/accommodation.html

    Hostel

    The cheapest hostels are set up like dorms where you simply use it as a place to crash for the night.  Bedrooms are shared and there are often bunk beds.  Toilets and bathrooms are shared.  Some will provide inexpensive food.  They are a great option for those who really want the ‘traveller’ experience, to meet other travellers and make a travel budget stretch further.  They are great for those on a tight budget.

    Luxury hostel

    Luxury hostels are relatively new and offer you the chance to stay in affordable accommodation, but with hotel like luxuries or décor.  You'll get the hostel vibe with some features of a hotel, but without the hotel price tag.  It’s the perfect combination.  They also offer private ensuite rooms as well as the traditional hostel dorms.

    BnB

    Bed and breakfasts are usually cheaper than hotels and they include a delicious, often home cooked, breakfast.  Some will have shared bathrooms and some will have an ensuite.  They are usually a part of someone’s home so can feel very personal and homely with hosts who are proud of their local area and its offerings.  There are still different standards of BnBs so price and standard can vary to suit different budgets.

    Air BnB

    Thanks to Air BnB there are so many options nowadays for accommodation which enables you to stay in an actual home or someone’s second home.  This could be an entire house, a flat or just a room.  There are unlimited options on websites like these for cities all over Europe.  Prices vary to suit all budgets and depend on the type of accommodation and location.  These can offer great value if you are looking for more of a short-term rental when compared to the price of a hotel for a long stay.

    Sofa surfing

    I told you this would be a blog post for all budgets and share all types of places to stay!  If you’re looking for free or very cheap accommodation then staying on someone’s sofa could be for you!  There are dedicated sofa surfing websites where you can find details of people offering this service.

    Whether you’re looking to spend more on luxury on your European city break or want to try your luck at finding free accommodation, there really is a choice for every type of traveller and budget.

     

    What to read next

    Top tips for saving money on your summer holiday

    How to save money on family holidays and day trips

    Things to prepare in advance for your family summer holiday abroad

    Ways to save money while on holiday

    Accommodation types for all budgets in European cities