Last Minute Holiday
We are now two weeks into the summer holiday and we are just about to disappear off on holiday for a week. Did you see our appearance on Good Morning Britain on Friday 3rd August? It has been a big ambition of mine to appear on live morning TV. And this was a good one. I have been in discussion for weeks about this project and it was never definite until a week ago.
The feature was booking a last-minute holiday on a budget with Simon Calder, the travel expert from the Independent, BBC and ITV helping with the research. I hadn’t booked a holiday for the family yet as had been waiting on a few work projects to be confirmed, which never happened, so this was a perfect opportunity to get a decent holiday booked via a travel expert.
We were to be packed and ready for Friday 3rd August and to take out bags into the Good Morning Britain Studio ready to travel straight from the studio. Exciting times.
The day of Filming
We were picked up at 4:30am, the boys were extra sleepy but very excited to be going into Good Morning Britain to appear on TV. Hubby not so much excited, more nervous about being on live tele. I knew very little. I had received an email the night before saying that we didn’t need to bring our bags as its was unlikely we would be leaving on the Friday; our requirements were proving difficult to meet!
We arrived at the studio at 5:30 and were ushered straight into a side entrance to meet Helen and Verina who looked after us all morning. We got comfy in the studio 4 café, as I remember seeing on Phil Schofield’s IGTV video on its launch day, he gave a little tour of the studio and café! Very surreal being in the same place.
The boys were extra excited about being able to have whatever food they wanted and made the most of it with full English breakfasts, bacon sarnies, cans of coke zero. I had a steady supply of coffee after a bad night sleep as was stressing about not waking up in time for the 4:30 cab!
I got to go first into make-up first along side Charlotte one of the Friday presenters and Laura Whitmore the guest showbiz reporter for the day. It was fun, chatting about my website, Corsica and Drake, as you do. The make-up girls did a fabulous job of my makeup. TV perfect. I felt like a proper celeb.
Our Holiday Requirements
Then we were on air! We were after a holiday for the five of us, 2 adults and 3 children. We wanted beach or pool, air con, Wi-Fi, as much food as possible and activities for the boys. All this for a budget of £2000. Heads were shaking on live TV, our budget seemed to be unachievable.
We were chatting to Simon Calder, Charlotte Hawkins and the lovely Ben Shepherd.
Off we went back stage for Simon to find us a holiday in the hour until the next slot on TV. There were two other families getting holiday and they were sorted out, holidays were found for them. A family of three, a mum and her daughters who were after a camping/driving holiday for under £1000. And a pair of sisters were after a weekend spa break to Paris. Both were found deals but our holiday was proving to be a challenge.
Simon found a few deals, but they were busting the budget at £2500 and from airports like Manchester and Leeds! Not great. And to be honest the hotels looks very busy, high rise, not the spacious type relaxation we were after.
It wasn’t looking great and we came off air after the second segment not sure what was happening. As we sat in the café I said to Simon that I loved the sound of the France holiday that the mum and two daughters had booked, and Simon had a brain wave. Center Parcs in France.
Center Parcs is Go Go Go
Simon had a quick search for availability over the next few days and found a comfort cottage for 6 people (having that extra child makes affordable holidays a challenge) available from Monday 6th August at just 1599 Euro. This worked out at £1424 for the week. Bargain. We tried to book it and failed, twice. The only option was to call them, using an ITV phone (as I wasn’t going to pay £1 a minute to call France!). Then ensued an hour of calling, being cut off a few times, missing calls, to finally get through and be told that the cottage was 1850 Euro and their website hadn’t updated with the correct availability.
So annoying, but it was still a good deal and I booked it. The cottage was an extra 200 Euro with an extra charge for the bedding/tax that we would have had to pay on top of the 1599 Euro. We were in effect 200 Euro out of pocket, based on the deal Simon had found.
Booking the Ferry to get to France
We had the accommodation booked, next was booking the ferry, I used my Tesco Clubcard Vouchers of £50, worth £150 in ferry vouchers. Simon was impressed with my thrifty ways. The ferry was booked via DFDS and it cost £185. Using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers we saved £150 and there was a balance of £35 to pay.
The Best Credit Card for Holiday purchases
Another top tip on the Euro payment was that I used my Halifax Clarity card, this gives the best on the market £ to Euro conversion rate, better than most credit cars whom charge a loading fee. I only every use this card for foreign currency purchases here and abroad as it consistently converts at the best exchange rate.
The holiday was all booked within two hours of finding the deal.
Simon was unhappy about the issue with the Center Parcs website saying 1599 Euro, and that rate not being available to purchase online or on the phone. He emailed the PR team who came back a few hours later offering us the 200 Euro in a credit note to spend at the park during the week. I was happy with that!
So total cost of holiday if we take off the 200 Euro credit is 1642 Euro. Converting to £1490. Plus, the £35 we paid for the ferry return crossing = £1525. Way under our £2000 budget.
What is left to pay for?
We have spending money to provide for, we have the 200 Euro credit note waiting for us in France. And we got £200 in Euros from our local Debenhams currency exchange at a fab rate of 1.10, best in the market. The screen didn’t say 1.10 when I walked in, but I asked them to match the online rate and they did. I got 225 Euro for the £204 spent. We have another 25 Euros left from previous holidays so maybe we’ll have enough money to keep us going for the week including self-catering food and activities. I will report back on how much we spend whilst there. I’m not going to budget too fiercely as I do believe that holidays should be enjoyed rather than worry about the pennies being spent.
Finally, just booked with 12 hours to spare was travel insurance. I booked an annual travel insurance deal covering all five of us until next year. Topcashback compare is my comparison site of choice where I always get the best deal plus cashback on top. I popped in my details and scrolled down until I found a company I had used before and recognised. The package I went for was Bronze from Debenhams insurance which was £60 with £7 cashback and a £15 Debenhams voucher. This annual policy will cover me for future planned holidays for the next twelve months.
All that is left to do now is to choose what books to take with me and think about what treatments to have in the spa.
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