Europe, Travel, Travel
Despite being one of the most affordable destinations in Europe. Sofia, Bulgaria is still packed with completely free activities. In fact, I think the vast majority of the very best things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria are actually completely free. 

Which is why I’ve put together this guide of my four favourite free things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Walking Tour

What better way to see the city of Sofia, than on a completely free walking tour. The tour departs from the courthouse in the city centre daily at 10am, 11am and 6pm – every day of the year, regardless of the weather!

The tour takes around two hours and is filled with photo ops, culture and history. If you’re only here for one day and manage to do one thing only. I’d make it this! Check out the Free Sofia Tour website to learn more

Balkan Bites

Balkan Bites is the very first free food tour in the world!

The tour starts at 2pm daily (excluding national holidays), it lasts around 2 hours and leaves from Park Crystal in front of the big head statue of Stefan Stambolov. The tour is very, very popular and only has a limited number of spaces available so try and arrive around 15 minutes before it’s due to leave to guarantee your spot.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia. Opened in 1912 the cathedral is free to enter.

Named after St. Alexander Nevski, a Russian Tsar who saved Russia from invading Swedish troops in 1240 and the patron saint of Tsar Alexander II, who was also referred to as Bulgaria’s Tsar Osvoboditel (Liberator), since it was his troops that finally brought about Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule. The foundation stone of Sofia’s biggest church was laid in 1882.

The Vitosha Mountain

Last on my list of free things to do in Sofia, but by no means least is Vitosha mountain. In the winter this can be a great place to ski and in the summer, a great place to hike.

Public transport is available to the summit of the mountain is available. Firstly, take the 9TM from the National Palace of Culture – get off at the last stop Hladilnika. Then you’ve got two options;

Bus 66: This will take you to Aleko. Just below the highest peak of the mountain this is the highest you’re able to get with public transport.

Bus 64: This will take you to nearby Boyana Church. From there you can choose the hiking paths to Boyana lake or Boyana waterfall.

While transport to get to the site is free, hiking the mountain itself costs nothing and is well worth a visit. 


There we have it. My favourite four free things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria. As always, I’d love to know what free things you’ve been doing in Sofia. Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to add the very best to this guide. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out our daily vlog ‘The best of FREE in Sofia, Bulgaria’…

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America, Travel, Travel

Disney World Florida is the dream trip for many families. However, we all know that it comes at a great cost. In my Walt Disney World on a budget I outlined exactly how much a trip to land of dreams could cost.

After my latest trip to Magic Kingdom I decided to take that one step further. By together this article outlining the many ways that you can save money at Disney world.

Make Your Own Autograph Books

Big kids and little kids alike love to collect autographs from their favourite characters around the park.

It can easily feel that you’re missing out if you don’t have an autograph book – especially when everyone else in line does. Disney have of course been able to capitalise on this and charge around $12 for a small book with a couple of pages.


A great solution to this cost is to make your own autograph books before you go. Helen and I put together this great demonstration of how you can create one for as little as £3.60 using supplies from Poundland.


This is also a great way to drum up the Disney World excitement before you’re trip!

Don’t Buy Souvenirs at Disney World – Get Them Elsewhere

Disney World Florida has a vast number of souvenir shops. In fact, I’d assume there’s over one million different Disney World items you could buy inside the parks. 

However, a vast number of souvenirs can be picked up much cheaper. You can either opt for getting second-hand Disney World merch online through websites such as eBay.

Or shop around while you’re in Orlando. Both mainstream stores and independent outlets stock thousands of different Disney products at approximately 50% less than the price you’d be paying inside the parks.

Another great trick is to visit the Orlando Premium Outlets. There’s a Disney Outlet with lots of ‘old’ stock available with up to a 70% discount!

 

Or Don’t Buy Them At All…

You’ll notice in our trip reports that we buy no souvenirs. We collect moments and memories rather than things. 

I’m a minimalist, however I know to many that’s on the ‘extreme’ end of things. So instead I challenge you to have a look around your local carboot sales, thrift stores etc. You’ll be surprised how many of those Mickey Mouse bobbleheads someone just had to have will appear.

If you’re still not convinced then maybe think about the additional experiences you could have on your trip if you avoid buying gifts and souvenirs. It could be anything from an additional day at the theme park to a fast pass upgrade or character breakfast.

Stay At A Disney Hotel

Staying at a Disney hotel doesn’t really sound like the budget option. However, when you consider all the extras included it very much can be. 

The major financial benefit of staying in a Disney hotel has to be the Magical Express Bus.

This bus will collect you from the airport and bring you right to your hotel door. It’ll also bring you back on departure day. Not only will this enable you to skip the long lines at the car rental, it’ll save you $$ on rental, gas and parking (which is $25 a day!)

There’s also a complimentary bus service from your hotel to any of the Disney parks or Disney Springs. 

However, if you decide to drive to Florida you can still transport yourself around the resort. That’s because the hotel offers free parking at the hotel, at the parks and at Disney Springs. 

However, if you do choose to stay on-site…

Choose A Value Disney Hotel

These hotels include the all-start resorts as well as the Disney campsites. 

If you’re travelling by car or as part of a large family then the campsites can prove amazing value for money with up to 10 people able to share one pitch in two tents or one tent and an RV. Fill it to maximum capacity and you can be looking at as little as $4 per person, per night!


If you’re a little unsure, consider how much time you plan to spend in your room anyway. If it’s just to sleep then why pay double or triple for the privilege of staying in one of the fancier hotels?

Bring Refillable Water Bottles

Unlike Universal Studios, Disney doesn’t offer a great deal on drinks. Instead you’ll be paying around $3 for a bottle of water or soda. 

You’re able to get free cups of water in any of the Disney restaurants, however this isn’t always most convenient when running between rides or waiting in lines.

Instead bring your water bottle. You’ll be able to fill it up at the number of different water fountains across the park. We personally opt for the CamelBak brand

If you’re not a fan of tap water (like me!) consider getting a small flavour pack.

Go When Your Child Is Under 3

My final save money at Disney world trick could save you as much as $400. That’s because kids under three get free admission to all of the Walt Disney World parks.

With a four day child ticket costing $297 in 2017 that’s one large saving for the sake of changing your trips start date by as little as a few days or weeks.

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America, Travel, Travel

There’s no doubting that a trip to Orlando is going to cost you some cash. However, on my latest trip I found some sneaky ways to save money at Universal Studios Orlando.

These aren’t going to harm your experience of one of the greatest places on earth, but they are going to save you some cash in the process!

Get A Coca-Cola Freestyle Drink

A great way to save money at Universal Studios Orlando is to purchase one of the Coca-Cola freestyle cups. 

You’ll then be able to enjoy FREE unlimited fountain refills (you can only refill every ten minutes.) With more than 100+ drink choices you’ll never be stuck for choice. 

The Coca-Cola machines are all over both of the Universal parks, so you’ll never be far away from a refill. The cost of the souvenir cup inc one day’s refill is $13.99. However, just a standard bottle of coke retails for around $4 inside the parks, so anymore than four drinks a day and you’ve got your money back.

How to save money at Universal Studios Orlando


Stay on Site Instead of Buying Express Passes

There are many benefits of staying on-site at Universal Studios, Orlando. These include entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the new Volcano Bay one hour before the general public. As well as in some cases, free access to an express pass.

The cost of a Universal Express Unlimited pass varies. However, a pass costs as much as $150 per person during the late December Christmas holiday rush. With up to five people in a room this could save you as much as $750 per day!

To find out how much Universal Express Passes are at the time of your visit click here.

The offer is only available to stays at the following three on-site hotels; Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel and Royal Pacific Resort

Remember, this is only going to save you money if you were looking at buying the express passes. If this isn’t of interest to you, then it’s not going to save you anything.

Buy Your Park Tickets Online

Simply booking your Universal Studio tickets online in advance instead of purchasing them at the gate on arrival is going to save you $20.

However, if you’re going to be visiting some of the other theme parks while in Orlando then even bigger savings can be made by purchasing a ‘combo ticket’ from the likes of Florida Tix.


Buy Your Interactive Wand Online

One of the greatest attractions at the Universal parks has to be The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Most of us want an interactive wand from Olivander’s that allows us to wander around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley casting spells.

The interactive wands from Olivanders cost $48, with a standard wand available for $25.


However, you can purchase a second hand wand from a previous wizard via eBay and save yourself from queuing once you arrive. Giving you more time to cast some spells. Alternatively, if you can’t stop yourself and end up purchasing one on site (who can blame you) then remember you can always sell it on eBay yourself once you return home.

Have A Big Breakfast (and other food hacks)

My final words of advice on how to save money at Universal is on food. Firstly, have a big breakfast. This should stop you snacking in the morning and keep you going through until lunch. If you’re a large party full of notorious snackers, then bring a couple of bags of crips (chips). Just don’t forget about the weather when packing foods, this could easily ruin chocolate bars etc. 

Finally, when eating at the parks either opt to share a large portion between two or have a kids meal. American meals are notoriously large, and this should help cut costs and reduce waste. I’ve been to the Universal parks three times over the past five years and still never managed to finish an adults meal to myself. 

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Clothes, Everything Else, Food, Leisure, Personal Finance, Save Money, Travel
I love my student discount card. I love it even more now that I can get it without being a student

Which is why I’ve put together this complete directory of where you can get a student discount.

This is an open document, meaning you’re able to contribute. So if you know of anywhere in the world that offers a student discount for students then feel free to add it to the sheet using this form.

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Europe, Travel, Travel

We have recently come back from our first trip to Amsterdam and wow, what a fabulous place. I was quick to see why this continues to be the up and coming European destination. While the main focus of our trip
was to attend the video conference event VidCon we had some time to explore the city. 

It therefore seemed only fitting that we put together our guide of how to visit Amsterdam on a budget;

Travel Insurance – £10

Before you go anywhere you’re going to need travel insurance. Travel insurance covers you for small things such as loss of baggage or larger things such as illness of death abroad.

Whilst it isn’t compulsory I personally wouldn’t go anywhere outside of the UK without it. I have travel insurance as part of a service with my bank. If you don’t have travel insurance already then I recommend using a comparison service such as Go Compare to find the cheapest / most suitable insurance policy for your needs.

For the purposes of this study let’s say that you don’t have travel insurance but you manage to pick up an annual worldwide travel insurance policy for £10.

 

Airport Parking – £7.50

The cost of airport parking, or any parking for that matter usually frustrates me. However, our three nights of parking at Manchester Airport that we booked through APH parking didn’t seem that bad at all. In fact it came in at just £15.00 – which made it £7.50 each for the two of us.

How To Visit Amsterdam on a budget


Flight – £85.48

We was rather specific as to when we wanted to visit Amsterdam, due to the reason in which we was travelling – VidCon. Which meant that despite booking four months in advance, the cost of travel was still rather high at £85.48 return each.

If you’re more flexible as to when you visit then return flights can be purchased for more than half that price.

 

Internal Travel – €26 / £22.04

We purchased this ticket from the rail ticketing desk inside the airport that gave us three days of unlimited travel on all trams, buses, metros and ferries within a vast number of stations within the city. 

This cost €26 euro per person, and we certainly got our money’s worth. The public transport in Amsterdam is second-to-none and by far the easiest, cheapest, and best way to get around the city. 



Hotel – €220.82 / £187.20

We splashed out on accommodation in Amsterdam. Being our first trip and us both doing different things, we wanted to be sure that we both benefited from easy access to the places which we would be visiting.

While the hotel was fantastic, it’s unlikely we’d stay somewhere quite so pricy in the future.


Attractions – €73.15 / £70.90 (Includes Transport!)

Purchasing an I Amsterdam card provides you with all of the following. This also covers your public transport which means you only need one or the other… 


At the time of writing the card currently costs the following;


This in my opinion is an absolute steal, just be sure the free museums that are on offer are the ones you actually want to visit. Otherwise, maybe it’s not so much of a steal…

Food – £50

Despite shopping at the supermarket for the majority of the time Amsterdam certainly wasn’t the cheapest place to eat. I made a video highlight how much some common items cost. 


Souvenirs – £0

As always we opt not to purchase souvenirs. Our trip to Amsterdam on a budget was no different. As with all of our budget trips we instead put the money we would have spent on another trip, and the chance to make even more memories.


An so, there we have it, my complete guide to how to visit Amsterdam on a budget. If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, or have recently come back then be sure to let me know in the comments where you stayed, what you did, and if you feel comfortable enough, how much it cost you.

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Europe, Travel, Travel

We recently got back from a wonderfully frugal trip to Dublin the capital of Ireland. Dublin certainly isn’t the cheapest place to visit in Europe however you can experience a lot of what this marvellous city has to offer on a budget.

To help you do just that I’ve compiled together my favourite four free things to do in Dublin…


Trinity College

A gentle stroll through the grounds of Trinity College, Ireland’s most oldest and most famous university is completely free. Alumni include; Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift and Bram Stoker.

The campus is beautiful and highly photogenic. Situated right in the centre of Dublin City.

A trip to Trinity College is one of the many great free things to do in Dublin
A trip through Trinity College is one of the free things to do in Dublin. However, you will be unable to access sights such as the Book of Kells is displayed without a guided tour.

The most up to date information on tours of the college can be found on the Trinity College website.

Irish Museum of Modern Art

My second favourite and completely free thing to do in Dublin has to be a trip to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). Set in a former 17th century Royal hospital located slightly outside the city centre, the IMMA has established itself as the country’s foremost modern art gallery’s.

Royal Hospital IMMA
IMMA boasts more than 400,000 visitors a year and hosts a mixture of both permanent and temporary exhibitions from prominent contemporary artists. For the most up to date information on exhibitions and special events be sure to check the IMMA website.

The Science Gallery

Hands-on and super interactive, the Science Gallery is devoted to explaining the intricacies of science and how it applies to everyday life. Better yet, it’s one of the completely free things to do in Dublin. 

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Europe, Travel, Travel
I’ve been craving a city break since the start of the year. So when I spotted some bargain sailings to Dublin, Ireland I just had to book. Now I’m back I’m ready to share just how I managed to visit the amazingly vibrant and historic city that is Dublin on a budget.

This Dublin on a budget travel breakdown comes to less than £186 per person. Based on two sharing. It includes absolutely everything from travel insurance through to port parking. So if you’re looking for a city break that doesn’t break the bank then let’s talk…

Travel Insurance – £10

Before you go anywhere you’re going to need travel insurance. Travel insurance covers you for small things such as loss of baggage or larger things such as illness of death abroad.

Whilst it isn’t compulsory I personally wouldn’t go anywhere outside of the UK without it. I have travel insurance as part of a service with my bank. If you don’t have travel insurance already then I recommend using a comparison service such as Go Compare to find the cheapest / most suitable insurance policy for your needs.

For the purposes of this study let’s say that you don’t have travel insurance but you manage to pick up an annual worldwide travel insurance policy for £10.

 

Port Parking – £14

This hurts. Like so much!

My Dublin on a budget hit a rather large roadblock thanks to the Stena Line park and ride at Holyhead port. This is priced at £7 per day and £35 for the week. It just about worked out cheaper to pay a daily rate rather than for the week. Split between the two of us this came in at £14 each.

That’s the same price as 1.4 nights in our hostel or going return to Dublin with the promotion Stena Line was offering more than 3.5 times.

 

Ferry – £4

Stena Line was running a promotion for St Patrick’s day that made fares from Holyhead as foot passengers just £2 per person, each way.

An absolute bargain, and from what I’ve been told these and similar promotions run throughout the year so it’s well worth keeping tabs on their website for future promotional offers.


If you don’t have access to a ferry port, then there are many flights from around the world direct to Dublin. Prices from the UK start from as little as £12 return.

Transfers – €5 / £4.27

For just €5 return, Stena Line also provided us with a bus service from Dublin port into the city centre. It takes around 20 minutes and times coincide with ferry times.

If you’re travelling by plane then transfer alternatives include the Airlink747 – The Dublin on a budget choice, or a taxi.

 

Hostel – €38.40 / £32.82

We booked this budget trip to Dublin rather last minute. This meant that accommodation availability was limited, this was reflected in the price.

The Generator Hostel, Dublin provides fantastic facilities
However, we wasn’t about to let this ruin the prospect of our Dublin on a budget trip. Instead we opted to look at staying in a hostels. After much debating we chose the Generator Hostel. Situated slightly north of the city centre, we managed to save around 75% when compared to a basic two-star hotel.



Attractions – €83 / £70.90

A city break is all about the sights of the city and having The Dublin Pass made doing so simple, easy and affordable. The three day pass provides you with;

Completely free airport transfers

Free hop on, hop off bus tour

Free entry to over 25 of Dublin’s most popular attractions, slights and landmarks. Including Guinness Store House, Jameson Distillery, Dublin Zoo, Aviva Stadium, National Wax Museum, The Little Museum of Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral and many more… 

Complimentary fast track entry, allowing you to skip the queues.

The pass also comes with a free guide book, to assist you in planning your trip around the city. Click here, to see the full list of places you can visit with The Dublin Pass.


Also, be sure to check out my guide on my personal favourite 7 things to do in Dublin – it includes a map to really help you plan your time accordingly.

Food – £50

Dublin, like many places can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Unfortunatly the hostel didn’t provide a kitchen, but that didn’t stop us.

We opted to purchase pastries from the local supermarket for breakfast (€2). We’d use our student card to get a fantastic deal on lunch at a local establishment (€6) and then opt for a basic evening meal checking the likes of TripAdvisor for a place in budget with great reviews (€10).


Souvenirs – £0

As always we opt not to purchase souvenirs. As with all of our budget trips we instead put the money we would have spent on another trip, and the chance to make even more memories.


An so, there we have it, my complete guide to how to visit Dublin on a budget. If you are planning a trip to Dublin, or have recently come back then be sure to let me know in the comments where you stayed, what you did, and if you feel comfortable enough, how much it cost you.

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America, Travel, Travel
Seeing a vast majority of the major attractions in New York City can mean spending a large amount of your budget on tickets.

However, there’s something for everyone in this magnificently beautiful city that doesn’t have to cost a cent. Which is why I dedicate todays post to my top ten free things to do in New York City.  

1. Central Park


Designed in the 1860’s to boost real-estate value uptown. Central Park is without a doubt the most famous park in the world. A must see destination on your trip to New York City and better yet, completely free.


Spread across 843 acres this park includes everything from rolling meadows to an outdoor theatre right through to a reservoir.

Central Park is my favourite free thing to do in New York City  

2. High Line

The high line is a fantastic example of urban renewal. Sitting 30ft above the city on an abandoned rail line, this attraction is now one of New York’s most loved outdoor spaces.

The high line walk connects the meatpacking district with the Chelsea galleries, making it the perfect stop for a picnic as you wizz around the city.

The High Line is a fantastic free place to visit in New York City  

3. Staten Island Ferry

This has to be one of my favourite travel hacks of all time. Everyone wants to see the world famous Statue of Liberty but with ferry tours starting at $12 the costs can soon stack up. Instead take the commuter route with the Staten Island Ferry.

The route cuts across New York Harbour carrying up to 19 million passengers a year and is completely free.

Free transport in New York how is this possible?  

4. Grand Central Terminal

On the subject of transport. Let’s talk about another commuter hotspot, Grand Central Terminal. With over 750,000 commuters pacing the floors of it’s 44 platforms every single day there’s no where quite like Grand Central Terminal.

Filled with everything from an Oyster Bar to an old fashioned shoe shine you’re free to wonder the vast majority of the terminal without a train ticket.

Grand Central Terminal is another fantastic commuter hotspot.  

5. Brooklyn Bridge

The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is over 1,500 foot long suspended over the East River it’s designed to connect Manhattan to Brooklyn. Completed in 1883, it’s estimated that 27 people died during it’s construction.

To take a stroll across this iconic bridge start at Centre Street near the City Hall. Along you’re walk you’ll be able to take in great views of theManhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Governors Island.

The Brooklyn bridge is perfect for a stroll    

6. Brooklyn Brewery

The Brooklyn Brewery was established in 1988 by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. At a time where Brooklyn was the centre of the beer brewing industry.

Almost thirty years on and the brewery still stands strong offering completely free tours on a weekend. This gives you a fantastic chance to explore the history and an insight into the brewing industry.

If you’re looking go midweek the tour will cost $20 and includes a beer tasting session.

Brooklyn Brewery offers fantastic free tours of their facilities  

7. Governors Island

Governors Island is a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbour that’s open to the public during the summer months. Whilst the island is just 800 yards away from lower Manhattan you’re still going to need to take the ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in the financial district.

The service is half hourly and the ride takes approximately 7 minutes. After safely arriving on Governors Island you can cycle around it’s 2.2 mile bike path, have a picnic in the picnic area. Take in sights at the Admirals house or even play a round of mini golf.

 
Governor's Island is a fantastic little gem in New York City
 

8. New York Public Library

Inside the Stephen A Schwarzman Building you’ll find the New York Public Library. At more than 100 years old this jaw-dropping building is somewhere not to be missed. Situated east of Times Square and fronted by marble lions named Patience and Fortitude.

The library plays host to more than 430,000 old maps and has a reading room designed for more than 500 guests. You are free to wonder the library on your own or take part in a tour hosted Monday to Saturday at either 11am or 2pm.

 
The New York Public Library is a fantastic and completely free place to visit

 

9. Socrates Sculpture Park

In 1986, American sculptor Mark di Suvero created Socrates Sculpture Park on an abandoned landfill and illegal dumpsite in Long Island City.

Over thirty years later, and this four acre site is now the largest outdoor space in New York City dedicated to exhibiting large-scale sculptures. Highlights of the park include a piano harp that’s been transformed into a beehive as well as a self-sustaining forest garden.

Socrates Sculpture Park  

10. The Fashion Institute of Technology

While many museums offer free or pay as you feel times. Not all of us are flexible enough to be able to visit at those times.

Fortunately, the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is free year-round.With more than 4,000 pairs of shoes and 50,000 pieces of clothing and accessories there’s plenty to see. The museum plays host to a mix of both permanent and rotating exhibits from designers including Dior and Chanel.  

 

There we have it, my top ten free things to do in New York City. As always I’d love to know you’re favourite things to do in the big apple. In the meantime, feel free to use the map I’ve created. It has every location I’ve spoken about pinned, allowing you to map out your trip itinerary with ease…

 

In the meantime, if you enjoy seeing the sights that America has to offer on a budget, then be sure to check out my other posts.

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