Since being married, we have managed to do 5 city breaks and only one resort holiday, we soon realised we are more the backpacking explorer types then the relaxing sun, sea and sand type. Don’t get me wrong after our first adventure week of our honeymoon we were ready to relax and finish it off with a nice resort.

But whilst we have time to ourselves and our youth I think it’s better to explore the cities now. My sister keeps telling me “once you have kids, it will be harder to do city breaks” I understand where she is coming from, every city break we have gone on has been jammed packed with daily activities and lots of walking! We love waking up early and exploring and coming back late ready for the next day of adventure, so I can understand why that would be difficult with children.

Our honeymoon was planned so well by Audley Travels I was left speechless by the whole trip, Hubby did very well! They spoke to Hubby to ask where we would like to visit and what activates would interest us. They came up with a beautiful 2 week trip visiting 3 different destinations in Malaysia. We went from seeing the hustle and bustle of the city to going to a rural town famously known for their street food ending with a relaxing beach resort.

I would love to travel with Audley for every holiday, unfortunately my bank balance wouldn’t like that at all. I guess we could justify spending so much on our first holiday together, but since then we have tried to keep our other holidays along the same wavelength as our honeymoon but on a budget.

Itinerary

Audley introduced me to itineraries, they gave us a small zipped ring bound folder with all our travel information. I was amazed (I know it doesn’t take much to take my breath away)

Since then I have always created an itinerary for our holidays. We may not follow it to a T but it always nice to have a plan before you go. Whilst I was planning for our short break to Paris I came across a brilliant itinerary website to make me plan my days better, Vist A City 

I absolutely love this website and use it whenever I can. The only problem is that they don’t have every holiday destination on the site, I guess that would mean they would have to put up every corner of the world, but they are working on adding a few more popular destinations.

What I love about this website is that it calculates the time it takes to go from one place to another, which I think is very important information when on holiday. It also allows you to add location breaks, so anything not on their list of to do’s don’t worry you can add whatever you like.

I’m such a visual person, so I love the map they create for you showing where you will be visiting. It’s handy seeing all the top tourist attractions on a map, that way you can plan to do the things that are close to each other and save the rest for another day. For this I also love looking at the app Tripomatic they bring up the top places to visit and also hotels. It’s always good to know where everything is before you go.

Hotels

I tend to use Tripomatic to look for hotels, I bring up the map and try and search for places next to a few tourist attractions. I write a list of possible hotels and read the reviews on Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor is my go to for hotel review, pictures do not tell you the whole story. I have seen so many fancy hotel pictures and when you read the reviews and see the travellers own pictures you realised how easily we can be fooled. Trip Advisor searches prices for you too, so you can get a rough idea on how much you are likely to spend. I like to check the hotels own website as sometime they can be cheaper.

With short city breaks I don’t book anything too fancy, we hardly spend any time in the hotel so it’s not worth it.

Flights

Flights are always the harder part of holiday planning, I wish there was a website that would show you the price to your destination over the whole year. As I am not limited when I can go on holiday, perks of being a D.I.N.K (Double Income No Kids) I will always choose for the cheaper flights. We all know flying during school holidays is a lot more expensive then term time. But some months are cheaper than others. It would be nice to see it all on one page so I can then decide when to go. I like using skyscanner to search, they tend to have all the correct filter and best prices. I always check the airlines website too, to see if it’s cheaper booking direct, sometimes it is. What annoys me with searching for flights is after a while the prices slowly go up. A friend told me this was a trick the airline does using your internet history. The more you search the higher the flight prices seem to go up. Make sure you clear your browser history every time before booking your flight, EasyJet is a big culprit for doing this.

 

Places to Eat & Places to Pray

Food is a very important part of our holidays, it can really make or break your day. I remember coming out from the hamam in Istanbul and craving donner and chips. A local restaurant owner flagged us down and shoved his menu in our face. We were starving and pictures on the menu look so good. Unfortunately the food was cold and stodgy, the chips looked like they had been soaked in oil instead of fried and the donner was cold and hard. It really did ruined our entire day (over dramatic much)

Finding food in Malayasia and Istanbul was very easy, as they are both Muslim countries. Food in non-Muslim countries can be daunting, for non-vegetarians there’s only so much veggie dishes you can have before you start craving meat! But I’ve come across Zabihah a brilliant website allowing you to find local halal places to eat. I like to note down a few places that have good reviews in different areas. I don’t like adding these to my itinerary, I feel like what you want to eat can change on the day, or you might even walk past a place that is even better. I always read the reviews as some places can say they are halal but when you get there they only have a few items that you can actually eat. Islam being such a fast growing religion is isn’t hard to find halal food.

I try my hardest to not miss my prayers, especially when on holidays. Zabihah allow you to search for places to pray too. Again I always read the reviews as some places are small rooms that offer prayer spaces for men only. I always print a copy of prayer times from Islamic Finder to take with me so we know roughly when each prayer starts. Worst case scenario if there is nowhere to pray whilst out, we always head back to our hotel.

If anyone has any advice to make planning my trips better and cheaper, let me know.

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