Once in a lifetime travel abroad

Enjoy your dream getaway for less than £500


by Gabrielle Albert |

We may have had to put this year’s summer travel plans on hold, but we can certainly set our sights on next year. With travel restrictions gradually lifting this could be the perfect time for you to start saving for that dream holiday. We’ve asked the travel and financial experts to share their top tips on saving, booking and planning, so when you are ready to jet off on that holiday of a lifetime, you’ll have everything in place.

How to pay for your trip

With a little careful planning, it’s possible to go on a big blowout trip without breaking the bank. Whether you want to add to your savings pot or start a new one altogether, here are a few pointers on how to get started…

A short-term savings plan

First of all, find a bank account with a great rate for short-term savings plans and you be well on your way to financing your trip.

“Commit to savings of at least £25 per month and you can get interest rates of 2-2.75%,” says Financial Planning expert Steve Butler, “If you are a taxpayer, you can get a similar regular savings cash ISA account, so you don’t have to pay tax on the interest earned. Aiming to save between £50 - £100 per month will result in £600 - £1200 of savings at the end of one year – not including interest.”

Set up a monthly direct debit payment to this account so your saving fund won’t get confused with your day-to-day money pot.

If you are making sufficient savings for your retirement, Steve says you could look to use your pension pot additionally to hold your holiday savings.

“If you are still working and looking to save a larger amount over a longer period something worth considering is using your workplace pension as the savings account, assuming this saving is in addition to your regular pension savings,” says Steve. “This option would mean you receive tax relief from the government on your monthly savings, as well as a potential top up from your employer subject to their pension rules.” When you want to take the money for your once in a lifetime trip you are able to draw tax free cash from you pension any time after age 55.”

Top tip: Visit comparison sites such as moneysavingexpert.com****,** which.co.uk or moneysupermarket.com for the best savings accounts**

How to book your trip safely

Ensure you and your money stay protected with this expert guide on booking travel insurance…

First steps

“Ahead of booking a trip away, always check the latest updates on the FCO website to check it’s safe to visit the destination,” says Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director of insurance comparison site, Medical Travel Compared. Once the holiday has been booked, the most important next to step is to purchase travel insurance, however it is important to check insurance policies carefully for Covid-19 specific cover.

What should I look for in a policy?

Having a specialised over 50s travel insurance policy can provide peace of mind to enjoy a holiday. “Broadly speaking, this type of travel insurance covers cancellations, medical expenses and repatriations, theft or loss of belongings and personal accident,” says Tommy.

However, cover can vary from provider to provider, with some providers offering more cover than others, which is usually reflected in the cost of travel insurance. “Before purchasing insurance always make sure you declare any pre-existing medical conditions, carefully read policy documents to check exactly what’s covered,” says Tommy.

If you’re travelling with others, purchase a group travel insurance policy in the event that you, or they, need to make a claim due to one another’s medical conditions causing trip complications. If insured on separate policies, you and your companions run the risk of being out of pocket should the trip be cancelled or extended due to medical conditions.

Which insurers can I trust?

“You should always buy your travel insurance from a company you’ve either heard of or a company you know you can trust,” says Tommy. “It’s very easy to find reviews about companies on the internet ¬ – I always recommend researching before finalising a purchase.”

When should I book travel insurance?

“Purchase insurance as soon as you have booked a holiday to protect the money you have spent, whether it be a deposit or flights costs,” says Tommy. “Your cover will become active from the moment you pay for it, and provided you have cancellation cover, you will be able to claim should you have to cancel the trip.”

What if I fall ill abroad?

“We are seeing additional cover being introduced to the market to account for travel during a pandemic,” says Tommy. “For example, certain providers including CoverForYou, Cedar Tree, Coverwise and Southdowns have started introducing emergency medical and repatriation cover should someone catch the virus abroad as well as extension of stay due to being diagnosed with Covid-19 whilst abroad.

Additionally, cover is also available should someone be denied boarding at the airport due to Covid-19 symptoms, or if the people you are staying with have the virus and you can no longer visit with them, giving travellers peace of mind ahead of any trips.”

Top tip: Policies still include a number of exceptions so read the small print

What about UK holidays?

For those looking to holiday a little closer to home, taking out travel insurance is still worthwhile. “Thanks to our amazing NHS you don’t need medical cover, but UK trips can still be subject to cancellation,” says Tommy. “For example, if you have to cancel plans due to unforeseen circumstances, such as contracting Covid-19, travel insurance would add a layer of protection.”

Watch out! Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel says: “It’s worth looking for a policy that includes Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance, as this is not always included as standard and could prove invaluable if the ongoing pandemic results in any more airlines or operators going into administration.”

Now let’s go travelling!

We’ve picked a selection of dream getaways that fall into three different price brands, to show you the type of amazing adventures it’s possible to have after just 12 months of saving – starting from as little as £500pp…

For a modest £500, you can go to…

Skye, Loch Ness and Inverness, Scotland


Take a spectacular five-day journey through the Highlands and onto the magical Isle of Skye, experiencing stunning scenery, local gems, myths and legends – and a wee dram of whisky – along the way. Journey on a steam train from Fort William and cross the famous Glenfinnan viaduct (from the Harry Potter movies), taking in sweeping views of Loch Shiel. Ride a ferry to the magical Isle of Skye with its awe-inspiring mountains, stunning coastline, myths and legends, before returning to the mainland.

You’ll stop at Eilean Donan Castle and before winding your way to the Great Glen to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, where you’ll hunt for the elusive monster with a cruise on Loch Ness before visiting the Highland Folk Museum.

Five days from £499. Includes bed and breakfast accommodation and transport, departing from Edinburgh. Call 0131 558 3738 or visit highlandexplorertours.com

Istanbul, Turkey


Set on the mighty Bosphorus waterway, with Europe on one side and Asia on the other, Istanbul is known as the city where East meets West. Capital of the great Ottoman Empire, it is crammed with history, amazing architecture and an ancient souk, bursting with bargains and unique finds. On this four-day mini-break, you’ll get the chance to marvel at the Topkapi Palace Museum, watch the light and sound show at the Blue Mosque, enjoy a delicious seafood meal at a restaurant overlooking the bustling harbour and explore the city’s ancient alleyways and modern restaurant and cafe scene at your leisure.

Prices from £415pp, excluding flights. Visit coxandkings.co.uk

Save £1000 – £1500 in 12 months and visit…

Northern Lights, Niagara Falls and New York


Few people can say they’ve witnessed so many worldly wonders in one trip. Starting in The Land of Ice and Fire, you’ll begin by venturing deep into Iceland’s countryside to see the legendary Northern Lights ripple across the ink-black skies, before taking a warming soak in the famous geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. Then it’s off to the coast in search of dolphins, minkes and humpbacks on an exhilarating whale watching tour in the North Atlantic waters. Across the pond to Canada you’ll hear the thunderous roar of the mighty cascades of the Niagara Fallsbefore crossing the border and taking a bite into the Big Apple

Nine nights from £1299pp. Includes return flights from London, Amtrak train transfers from Toronto to New York and 4-star room-only accommodation. Call 0203 023 7776 or visit www.affordableluxurytravel.co.uk

Viva Cuba


The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is a fascinating land of sunshine and blue sea. Famed for its manufacture of rum and cigars, you'll soon find there's much more to this vibrant country, from the rhythmic salsa bars and colonial architecture of Havana – where you can ride in classic Cadillacs from the Fifties – to the pristine beaches of Varadero and rural countryside of Vinales. Along the way, you’ll get to master the art of Cuban cocktail making and experience cultural shows and ceremonies.

Eight days from £1569pp. Includes flights, meals and accommodation. Call 0333 230 7884 or visit www.mercuryholidays.co.uk

Glacier Express, Switzerland


Ever wanted to see Switzerland’s fantastic scenery up-close? Take the magical Alpine rail journey aboard the famous Glacier Express and Bernina Express. Along the way, you’ll stop off at the chic resort of St Moritz, as well as Switzerland's largest natural park, Parc Ela. Soak up Swiss culture in Chur, it’s oldest town.

Nine days from £1499pp. Includes transportation, accommodation and meals. Call 01904 734 939 or visit raildiscoveries.com

Save £2000+ and you can enjoy one of these unforgettable experiences…

Route 66 by rail, USA

Route 66

Hop from one historic site to another unique delight and discover true Americana as you navigate along the iconic Route 66 by rail. Travelling by train provides the perfect opportunity for you to explore some of the best spots on the classic route, including a visit to the mighty Grand Canyon, without the need to drive. Starting in Chicago, you will travel by Amtrak or rail through Saint Louis, Albuquerque, Williams and the Grand Canyon, passing rocky mountain peaks and vast desert plains before arriving in Los Angeles on the sun-kissed Californian coast.

15 days starting from £2,349pp. Includes return flights from the UK, hotel accommodation and train travel. Call 01892 250 105 or visit www.pettitts.co.uk

Sri Lanka: Highlights of the sacred island

Sri Lanka

From its lush mountain greenery and palm-fringed sands, to its ancient ruins and Buddhist caves, this ‘active’ visit to Sri Lanka is a real treat for the senses.

Soak up oodles of culture and history with visits to the island’s numerous Unesco World Heritage Sites and witness its wonderful wildlife in the national parks. Embark on a jeep safari, taking a rainforest trail and, if you’re lucky, spot blue whales off the coast.

Uou’ll meet Sri Lanka’s indigenous tribe, a Buddhist monk and even try your hand at preparing local cuisine. Enjoy breathtaking views and visit hidden villages and waterfalls.

14 days from £2,375. Includes meals and accommodation, excludes flights. Call 0208 741 7390 or visit www.wildfrontierstravel.com

Highlights of New Zealand with Fiji

New Zealand

Situated within the southern Pacific Ocean, a trip to New Zealand offers an amazing amalgamation of city life and natural beauty. The first three nights of your trip begins in Pacific paradise on the neighbouring island of Fiji – famous for its rugged landscape, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons – before continuing on to Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, for a sightseeing tour. Journey through the lush farmland of Rotorua, with its bubbling geothermal sites, learning about the region’s natural wonders, agricultural traditions and the indigenous Maori culture along the way.

11-day tour from £2,589pp. Includes accommodation, not flights. Call 0330 0588 237 or visit www.cosmos.co.uk

Prices quoted at time of writing. Holidays are subject to availability. Refer to the Governments latest travel advice for Covid-19 ahead of booking.

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