Updated: 5th June 2016
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“How do you travel so much?” is by far the question I am most often asked and the answer is super simple…
Cheap Flights! Scoring the cheapest flights possible is always the goal. I’ll never forget my last-minute weekend to Milan a few years ago for TWO POUNDS and ever since then I have been a Skyscanner addict.
A few years ago at my 70 hours a week restaurant job it was all about the last-minute getaways and spontaneous weekends and it is not mission impossible. Sure, going last minute can cost more in the peak of summer but during the offseason, there is still some insane deal. Here’s the seven steps I recommend to getting yourself on a last-minute adventure after being invited to play a little game by Skyscanner. Watch the video or read the tips below, either way, go and explore!
FIVE HOURS FROM BED TO BOOKING TO BOARDING IS MY RECORD… LETS #SKYSCANNERROULETTE
1. Search Everywhere, End up Anywhere
The best thing about Skyscanner is the ability to search flights to everywhere. On the website it’s as simple as putting in your starting point, destination: everywhere and then either searching a particular date or the month.
On the swanky new app (which you need to download if it’s not a staple on your phone) simply hit ‘Explore Top Deals’ and you can take your pick from city breaks, longer trips or go for that famous everywhere search to see where is cheapest, that’s the key to last-minute escapes – flexibility.
2. Pack light, play hard!
We’re talking a last-minute getaway for a few days here, not hiking Kilimanjaro so pack light! Not only will just having hand luggage save on flight fees it also makes it a lot easier with hotel check out times to wander around with just a backpack and not have to leave it in storage.
Don’t panic, you can buy anything anywhere (unless Skyscanner sends you to Antarctica) so if you forget something no sweat. Forget heavy and lumpy items like tripods and trade them in for balancing the camera, don’t bring hair dryers or the like but spend the money you save on checked luggage on a nicer hotel. Three outfits are plenty, one for the day, one for the night and something for dressing up. Keep it simple, keep it light.
Last Saturday morning I gave the new app a spin at 11 am and was waiting at the airport for a flight to Amsterdam by 2 pm!
3. Pick a Handy Hotel for weekend adventures
I’m all for saving cash on accommodation when I am travelling long-term but for weekend escapes you are going to want some comfort and to be as central as possible to maximise your time. On the app it does the same as for flights and searches all the main booking sites – you can then filter it by price if you want the cheapest, or my recommendation for city breaks, by distance and then find something in your budget as central as possible. Less time finding the hotel, more time exploring!
4. Skip the Queues.
If you are lucky enough to live by a small regional airport then security queues are likely to be super short already and you can breeze through less than an hour before take off with your hand luggage. If not, most major airports offer a priority security skipping service which can be paid for at the desk or a machine on arrival – If you are making a super last-minute weekend dash to the sunshine these can be worth the extra pounds so you can start the trip with a beer airside instead of clutching onto your mini toiletries for 45 minutes in line!
5. Last minute airport research and mapping
Cool. You’re at the airport? You’ve got that beer? Now it’s time to plan your last-minute escape. Here’s how I do it:
1. Check out some travel guides online to get an idea of what’s going down or an awesome travel blog such as DanFlyingSolo.com :P
2. Head to Instagram and search the hashtag of the city – you’ll get a great idea of what the weather’s like, any events going on right now as well as an unfiltered view of things to see in the city from the perspective of both travellers and locals.
3. Go to Google Maps on your mobile, make sure you have the whole of the city shown on your phone (so when you lose wi-fi the map still works on GPS). Then, search for everywhere you now know you want to visit and click save. Hey presto, a free city map built for your preferences!6. Walking tours, people watching and public transport
6. Free walking tours and people watching
Oh no! You drank more than one beer airside and forgot step 5? No sweat! Most major cities offer free walking tours around 11am, check with your hotel and tag on to one of these. It’s a great way to get a quick city overview and suss out what you want to head back and spend more time visiting. If you escaped last-minute, you don’t want a lack of planning to make you miss out. Remember to tip these free walking guides for their awesome knowledge and time.
If you are heading to a city where the airport is not well-connected jumping in a private transfer on arrival could save you a heap of time which can be invested exploring a new city. Personally, no matter how long it takes I’ll grab a two day public transport pass for a last-minute weekend getaway. It’s a great way to start taking in the vibe of the city straight away.
Also, People watching and café culture FTW – nothing gives you a better insight to a cities atmosphere on first glance than this.
It may seem obvious but so many people I know rush around on a weekend escape and come back stressed, angry and glad to be back in the office on a Monday. Trips are to be enjoyed so do just that. You missed a famous sight? Who cares! It’s your escape, just enjoy it.
Another little cheat is if you are taking a longer weekend then looking for one way flights on Skyscanner and then seeing if you can come back from another city can always be fun. For example, when I was in Albania it was cheaper to get a boat to Corfu, Greece and then fly back from there. That afternoon of Feta, well worth it!
* Thanks to the awesome Skyscanner Team for inviting me to play #SkyscannerRoulette and covering the cost of my weekend adventure – My love affair with this app goes back way before I teamed up with them so never fear, all opinions (and empty bank balance from using it too much!) are my own