Simple Ways to Beat Parking Fines

If you’re the type of person that pays their parking fines without question then this post really isn’t for you.

If, on the other hand, you’re determined to go out in a paper trail blaze of glory as you flip a finger to the scourge of the weekend shopper then I have just what you’re looking for.

Before we start, let’s get one thing straight: a parking ticket is not another form of tax. You get them because you’ve been very naughty boys and girls. End of lesson. Continue reading

5 Scariest Hotels In The UK

For most of us, all we want out of holidays is some time to kick back and relax. Some people are made of sterner stuff and go in search of some spine tingling thrills…

Every now and then I like to find something other than money to talk about. A few days ago, a friend and I were chatting about some of the really scarey places he been to over the years and that sparked an idea for a new post… Continue reading

Most Economical Cars In The UK

Buying a new car is hard enought without having to take its green credentials into consideration. Instead of searching the web for the most fuel efficient cars of 2012, I’ve done the hard work for you and created a list of the 20 most economical new cars in the UK.

As you’ll see, most of them sit in the supermini class but I’ll also be creating a list of the most economical family cars. I’ll update you when it’s complete. Continue reading

Has Ryanair Been Playing Russian Roulette With Aircraft Fuel?

Hollywood would have you believe that pandas make great Kung Fu artists but it’s not true. Likewise, passenger jets don’t make great gliders. Now will someone please tell Ryanair that?

ryanair girls strip

Ryanair stewardesses forced to strip to pay fuel bills

Ryanair – loved and hated in equal measure. This is the kind of company that likes to brag about its low cost credentials. To me, having the qualities of a cheap carrier bag that you put your heavy shopping in is not how I’d want my company to be viewed. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary seems happy to accept that applause coming from the cheap seats. Continue reading

The Ultimate List of Cheap Places to visit in the UK

Are you looking for a cheap day out in the UK? In that case, you need to check out our ultimate guide to cheap and free destinations around the country.

I spent a fair amount of time mulling over whether I should write up a list of the top destinations. However, after a little bit of searching round the web I came to the conclusion that there are already plenty of excellent guides out there.

I’ve created a list of some of the very best resources I could find. If you know of any others that you think should be on the list then send me an email or leave a comment below with the link. If it’s good, I’ll add it to this guide.

Here we go…

Cheap places to visit in Bristol

Yeah, I did say Bristol! Actually, you’ll probably he surprised at how much there is to see. The official capital of the South West, Bristol straddles the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire. During the 15th century, the city was the second most important in England. Amongst some of the more interesting places to visit include the city museum with its displays of Bristol through the centuries and Ashton public gardens.

Best list of cheap places to visit in Bristol

Cheap places to visit in Cambridge

Originally a Roman settlement, Cambridge has gone from strength to strength. Over the centuries, the city has morphed from a heavily fortified centre of trade and commerce into the world famous university city that we know today. Among Cambridge universities more significant former students include Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton. Going beyond the walls of the university, you can visit Shepreth wildlife park, go on a bike tour or take a punt down the river Cam.

Best list of cheap places to visit in Cambridge

Cheap places to visit in Cardiff

Dating back over 2,000 years, the city of Cardiff owes its creation to the Romans (AD 55 – 60). The city name literally means “the fort on the river Taff”. Significant points in the history of the city include its destruction in the 15th century by Owain Glyndwr’s army, the granting of city status in 1905 and the birth of Dr Who’s arch-enemies; the Daleks. A long established association with sports can be traced back the hosting of the British and Commonwealth Games of 1958.

Best list of cheap places to visit in Cardiff

Cheap places to visit in Edinburgh

The capital of bonny Scotland, Edinburgh is crammed full museums, gardens and events to cater for just about every taste. One of the historical centres of the Enlightenment, the Old Town and New Town districts are listed as UNESCO World Heritages Sites. The old town area has retained many of the buildings that were standing during the Reformation era of history. With over 4,500 listed buildings and 40 conservation areas, Edinburgh is a lesson in how to protect the UK’s heritage.

Best list of cheap places to visit in Edinburgh

Cheap places to visit in Exeter

The origins of Exeter date as far back as 250 BC and is now home to the Met Office. The old industrial areas of the city itself provide visitors with a glimpse of Exeter’s former glories. The city itself also can be used a great launchpad to tourists and visitors looking to explore deeper into the South West.

Best list of cheap places to visit in Exeter

Cheap places to visit in London

As the capital of our fair country, London is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. Aside from those world famous cheeky chappies in their black cabs, London contains some of the most historic buildings in the world. From the Houses of Parliament, to Churchills wartime command bunker – there’s an absolute bargain bucket of places to visit. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to see all the sights of London in your lifetime.

Best cheap places to visit in London

Cheap places to visit in Manchester

Now officially classed as our second city, Manchester is another great place to expericnce some of the history and culture of Britain. A former centre of industry and a key port during the years of the British Empire, the city still retains many of the buildings and architecture of the era. Some of the most impressive sights can be found in the old docklands area. Like London, there are a lot of places that allow free or very cheap access.

Best cheap places to visit in Manchester

Cheap places to visit in St Davids

The smallest city in the United Kingdom, St Davids in Wales is the perfect destination for visitors wishing to step back in time. The tiny city centre offers various attractions including the cathedral and the ruins of the Bishop’s palace.

Best cheap places to visit in St Davids

I’ll be adding more links in the coming weeks so make sure you come back and see if there’s anything useful to. Why not follow me on Twitter? I’ll tweet updates to the post to make it easier for you.

Cheap Train Tickets In 3 Easy Steps

Ever wish you could travel back in time to the great age of steam engines? Wouldn’t it be even better if we could drop the cost of a train ticket in the Victorian era?

Fortunately, there’s no need to expose yourself to the grime and destitution of the 1850’s. Here is the cheap train tickets guide.

Research Your Train Journeys

The word ‘research’ might conjure up images of dome-headed scientists experimenting on a cure for all mankinds ills. I applaud them. Whilst they’re fixing the world you’re going to be doing some research on your train fares.

The most comprehensive list of train times and fares that I’ve found comes from The website does charge a £1 fee for online booking but the potential savings are huge.

I did some research on a one way ticket from London Euston to Manchester. The cheapest the First Class ticket came in at £62.50. Not bad. But then I looked at the sidebar that indicated there were 3 more deals on the day I am going to travel. The cheapest option? £12.50!!

Ok, it’s not first class but it’s a huge saving. is another great source of deals. Some of the train tickets have been reduced by up to 75%. The cheapest ticket for the same route was £73. More expensive than but still cheaper than buying on the day.

The National Express East Coast actually covers more than just the East coast. The London to Manchester journey costs as little as £12 but only if you travel at 0100!! Cheapest price for normal hours of the day is £62.50.

Buy Your Train Tickets Early

Cheap train tickets are in big demand. No sooner are they advertised and they’re gone. Is there a way to ensure you get the best deals? Yes; you need to book in advance; well in advance. In fact, if you want the very best deals you’ll need to book 12 weeks in advance.

That is quite a long time to book ahead and you may find it’s only really suitable if you’re going on holiday or taking the family to visit relatives. It’s easy to forget the planning and book a few days before you travel but, before you do, check the prices of your train journey. Do you really want to pay £100’s more because you didn’t do a little planning?

Break Your Journey Down

It goes without saying that you’re going to pay more for the convenience of a journey without train changes. But, with a little planning and a change, or two, you could knock a hefty chunk off you ticket price.

Known as ‘split-ticketing’, this method can save you up to 60% off advertised prices (and that includes the already massively discounted tickets). Instead of buying a ticket on, say, a Virgin train that takes you from A to B in a single journey, you buy tickets for different stages.

Let’s take the London to Manchester example and factor in ‘split-ticketing’.

Instead of travelling direct to Manchester, you book a ticket to Birmingham. The lowest price I found was £6. Next book a ticket from Birmingham to Manchester. The lowest price I found was £6.50. So, for a total of £12.50, you can get from London to Manchester without having to travel in the wee hours.

Is split-ticketing legal? Yes, it’s perfectly legal.

Why is split-ticketing so cheap? Because you’re taking advantage of the prices set by each individual train company rather than relying on a single operator.

What could go wrong? The biggest problem you could run into will be delays. If your connecting train departure time is close to your arrival time you may miss your connection. Plan ahead.

Travel Cards

Contrary to popular belief, travel cards aren’t the preserve of students and pensioners (although they do get the best deals and rightly so).

Rail travel cards cater for just about every group you can think of. Here’s a quick rundown of the entitlements:

16 – 25 Railcard

To be able to buy one of these cards you need to be:

Aged 16-25 or a full time student. You also need to hold either a valid passport or UK driving licence.

How much does it cost and what do you get? The 16 – 25 railcard costs £28 for a 1 year subscription or £65 for 3 years. For this rather small sum of money you get 1/3 off UK rail fares for a year.

Friends and Family Railcard

To be able to buy one of these cards you need to be:

Travelling with at least 1 child. Children must be aged between 5 and 15 years old.

How much does it cost and what do you get? The Familay and Friends railcard costs £28 for a 1 year subscription or £65 for 3 years. Adults save 1/3 off ticket prices and childrens tickets are discounted by 60%. You also get some great discounts on hotel bookings, days out and meals in selected restaurants.

Senior Railcard

To be able to buy one of these cards you need to be:

Over 60 years old. You also need a valid passport number or UK driving licence. These will be used to prove your identity.

How much does it cost and what do you get? Senior railcard prices cost the same as the others we’ve talked about so far – £28 for a 1 year subscription or £65 for 3 years. In return, you’ll get 1/3 off Standard and First Class fares. There are additional perks and you can get the latest offers here:

Disabled Persons Railcard

To be able to buy one of these cards you need to be:

In receipt of disability-related benefits, have epilepsy, be deaf or a hearing aid user or be registered as visually impaired.

How much does it cost and what do you get? £20 for one year or £54 for
three years. The disabled person railcard lets you save 1/3 on most rail fares across Britain. Make you check your are eligible before yo book. Your travelling companion is also entitled to the same discount.

Network Railcard

To be able to buy one of these cards you need to be:

Travelling in the network railcard area.

How much does it cost and what do you get? For a 12 month subscription that entitles to one third of rail fares on most of the London and south east network you’ll pay £28.

Claim Back Rail Costs

It’s not the best piece of advice for rail travellers as we know you just want to get to your destination with no fuss. But, if your journey is subject to delays, you can claim back at least some of the cost of your ticket.

Your train will need to be delayed by 30 minutes for overground journeys and 15 minutes for Tube journeys for you to be eligible to claim.

Claims forms are available at your local train station.

How Georges Welsh Hitmen Will Kill Eco Cars

best eco car in the world

You might need one of these soon.

Did you really think you’d get away with not paying road tax because you drive a lean, mean green machine? The fun’s over. The government is short of cash and George’s hit men are about to unleash a tax raid on four-wheeled eco warriors.

Vehicle Excise Duty, VED, is a necessary evil. Like any tax, the revenue it generates is put to use fixing roads, maintaining traffic networks, etc. The government is constantly telling us that we need to think green; saving the planet matters.

Over the past few years, environmentally aware motorists have been given more and more options to stand by their green credentials whilst continuing the use the roads. In return, anyone that bought into the electric/hybrid car market was rewarded with not having to pay any road tax. Now the government has decided it’s time to lose that benefit.

Why Don’t Electric and Hybrid Cars Pay Road Tax?

VED or, as it’s more commonly known to the over burdened, road tax is based on the emissions generate by your vehicle. As you probably already know, electric cars produce no emissions – they’re the ultimate green machine.

Like a traditional petrol engine, hybrid cars use a small petrol engine to propel the car as well as charging the battery. Typically, the engine in this type of car is very small and produces minimal emissions which affects how much VED you pay.

Ironically, the lack of emissions are the cause of a major headache for the government. If you pay no tax then a very large hole starts to appear in their revenue.

What Is The government doing with road tax?

They’re going to apply VED to all cars. The good old Chelsea tractor will be hit the hardest but electric cars are also going to have a charge slapped on them. “Not fair”, I hear you cry and I agree, to a point. The AA, and a number of the nuttier, fringe groups are calling this a conspiracy.

Apparently secret plans leaked to the certain consumer groups are being used to demonise the coalition as some kind of gang of rotters. Let’s stamp on this once and for all: get real!

You might think that, by doing your part and helping to save the world, you should get a break. It doesn’t work that way. I know it’s hard. We’re all a bit skint but anyone complaining needs to take a reality check.

Pollution: The Facts

Yes, we need to think about the environment. The world population is growing. Pollution will grow inline with population growth. The environment will suffer and something needs to be done about it. 7 billion people makes an awful lot of rubbish and pollution that Mother Earth really can’t cope with.

By 2050, the human inhabitants of this planet are expected to reach 9 billion. Living space will be at a premium. We’ll still need land on which to grow food and raise livestock (unless we descend into a nightmare ‘Soylent Green‘ scenario).

Taxes, Taxes and more Taxes

Taxes are essential. Not only are they used to fund the UK”s network of motorways and roads but they’re also used like financial poly filler whenever the government finds a ‘little’ blackhole in their figures

As tax revenue from road tax falls, the government is left with a problem: where is the money going to come from?

The sensible option is to move away from a system that uses emissions as the basis for determining the amount you pay.

Alternatives to Road Tax

Some quarters are now suggesting that instead of this stealth tax we should be moving towards a ‘pay as you drive’ system.

Instead of this, I think all vehicle owners should be taxed at a flat rate; if you own a car you pay for the privilege. This might seem like insanity but here are a few considerations:

  1. The heaviest users of private transport aren’t you and I. It’s industry. If the government were to create a pay as you drive system then costs will go up. You might save some money on your annual tax bill but everything you buy would rise in price.
  2. Low earners will be punished. Think of the commuter who earns an average salary but has to commute long distances to the workplace. Could they really afford the additional burden of a ‘pay as you drive’ system?
  3. The initial outlay required to build this type of system is huge. The RAC Foundation produced a road governance faq that a similar system in Holland cost £4.7 to setup and run for the first 5 years.!
  4. Ironically, this means we’ll need to pay even more taxes to pay for a new form of taxation. Lunacy

So, what options do you have? The most obvious is the good old stiff upper lip. Take it on the chin and get on with life. This may seem harsh but it’s something we Brits do well.

If you’re feeling a little punch drunk you could always go cold turkey and give up your car altogether. Buy a bicycle, use public or reacquaint yourself with the method of locomotion that nature gave you.

Lastly, you could try screaming, crying, stamping your feet and signing a petition against VED on your eco car. At a guess, I’d say this will all be in vain. The Chancellor will nod, sympathise with your predicament, agree that you are a paragon of green virtue… then levy road tax on your eco car!

10 Things You Want To Lose In A Hotel

From troublesome relatives to your identity; there’s nothing you can’t lose in a hotel.

bates motel

1. Lose The Weight

Weight loss it a big issue for many of us. A few extra pounds here and there are enough to make you cry into your extra-large, cheese stuffed pizza. It’s no wonder that hotel gyms are prime real estate.

Do you know where those queues of fitness fanatics and slimmers alike lead? I can tell you now: to a suite filled with torture devices that would be more at home in the Tower of London. Continue reading

Cheap Hotels | Cutting The Cost Of Hotel Rooms

Bagging a bargain on a hotel doesn’t have to be a painful affair. The internet has helped drive down the price of rooms by offering you more shopping options than ever before.

Top tips for cheap hotels
Price comparison sites
Starred Hotel Deals
Other Ways To Cut Accommodation Costs

Top Tips For Cheap Hotel Bookings

Regardless of what you need a hotel room for (business trip, holidays abroad, short breaks) you’re going to need to do a little research. Don’t panic! There are plenty of websites offerings you the chance to pick up some massive savings.

Tip 1: Hotel price comparison sites should be your first port of call prior to booking.

Tip 2: Before you book and if you’re staying within the UK, give the hotel a call and find out if you can get a better deal by going direct.

>Price Comparison Sites

There’s a price comparison site for just about everything you can think. They grow faster than weeds but are infinitely more helpful. Regardless of where you’re going or how much you want to spend there’s a deal waiting for you.

Here’s my list of the top 5 hotel price comparison sites on the. I’ve added a few of my own thought about usability.


Trivago are a newcomer to the hotel price comparison game but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a great range of offers available.

The site features hotels from around the globe.

The system lets you order the listings by price, star ratings and reviews. Pricing details are pulled from a pool of brokers (currently 111).

Trivago is one of the fastest sites I’ve seen and is probably the easiest to use, in my opinion. The search results page may seem a little cluttered for some though.


An offshoot of Moneysupermarket (is there anything they don’t do?) this price comparison site pulls pricing data from a number of brokers and hotel chains around the world.

Visually, the layout is more attractive than Trivago.

Although they have a pretty comprehensive pool of suppliers, the interface isn’t the friendliest.

Personally, I find it a little slow for my liking but it’s hard to argue with the number of offers on the site.

The only major flaw I can see is that, to find the best deals, you have to select a star rating of the hotels you’re interested in.


HotelPriceBot is one of the better newcomers to the hotel price comparison scene. The site creators have put a lot of effort into building a comprehensive database that’s fast and attractive.

When you search for hotels by popular location the results produced are a little clutter. This site designers could also do with moving the list of links to the top of the page (you’ll see what I mean when you get there).

The only downside I can see with HotelPriceBot is the page loading time when you click a link to a specific hotel: they’re not fast!

Hotels Comparison isn’t the most attractive looking site and the interface might seem a little a clunky when compared to Trivago. That said, it’s still one of the better options available for sniffing out hotel deals.

The site queries a list of over 20 brokers which means there’s a pretty comprehensive list of destinations to choose from.

In the early days of the site there were a lot of complaints about the speed and it hasn’t got much better (in my humble opinion). Sit back have a cup of tea and watch an episode of your favourite soap whilst the search tools hunts down a list of hotels that match your criteria!

Easy Voyage

Easy Voyage is fairly new having launched in 2010. The site has a pretty broad focus on all aspects of travel and holidays but there is dedicated hotel price comparison search engine.

The interface is very simple to use and even tries to predict where you want to go as you type – very Google-esque.

The selection of hotels is good – over 1,000 are currently listed on the site.

The searches can be slow if you’re not specific about where you want to stay. I tried a search for ‘London’ and it took about 25 seconds for teh page to load all the results. If you use make sure you drill down to as small a geographic location as possible.

Starred Hotel Deals

A few years ago, came up with a blinding idea; 5 star hotel deals at bargain prices. The idea behind their Top Secret Hotels plan was to find 3 to 5 star hotels that could be booked on the cheap. This proved so popular that other websites quickly scrambled to give you similar deals.

Navigating The Maze Of Last Minute Deals

How does the scheme work? At any given time, most hotels are far from full. Empty rooms cost the hotel owners money. By renting them out at low prices, the chains ensure they’re making some money (even if it is just enough to cover costs).

Who has the best deals?

Lastminute Secret Rooms

The first of the big hotel price comparison sites, has a monstrous assortment of offers available.

The most popular feature on the website is their Secret Rooms section. Book a featured 3 – 4 star hotel and you will be automatically upgraded to a 5 star hotel for the same price. You won’t know which hotel you’re going to stay in until you’re booked a room. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email informing you where you’ll be staying.

There are ways to plan in advance.

Some of you will no doubt like the idea of a little mystery hotel. Some of you are a bit more inquisitive. There are ways to find out which hotel you’ll be upgraded to. Once you have this information you can put some planning into your travel requirements.

  1. Copy part of the mystery hotel’s description and paste it into your favourite search engine. has a habit of scraping content about the hotels and pasting it into their site word for word.
  2. Ask. Most of you will be using the Secret Rooms feature based on a recommendation. If friends or family have used the service and been to the places you’re planning to visit then ask them where they stayed.
  3. Get your travel plans in order. If you know the city you’re going to stay in then check out the local transport systems. Advanced travel bookings using sites such as the will save you a lot of money.

Hot Wire

If you’ve ever travelled to the United States you may well know about The site has been the first port of call for American bargain hunters looking for deals on hotel accommodation.

Hotwire launched their UK-based website in 2011.

Like, Hotwire also allows travellers to stay in 5 Star hotels at bargain prices. Now, if you’re like me then you hate surprises especially when you could end up paying for a less than amazing hotel room. So let’s look at how you can find out which hotel you’re going to be staying in…

Once you supply all your requirements on Hotwire click search. You’ll now be presented with a list of untitled hotels. All that you’ll see are descriptions.

Now open and scroll down the Winning Bids section for the area you selected on Hotwire. Now match up the two descriptions and you have your destination hotel. Easy.

Priceline Mega Discounts

“Who?”, I hear you say. are a company based in the United States. They have one of the biggest selection of hotel pricing details you can imagine.

The mainstay of Priceline’s offers come from U.S hotel chains with savings of up to 63% off the marked price.

Unlike and Hotwire, Priceline has taken a slightly different approach to selling discounted hotel rooms. The ‘name your own price” system is sort of like reverse bidding. All you need to do is enter the your destination, select the required hotel stars then place an offer price that you’re prepared to pay. If any hotel accepts you’ll be notified.

Like any bidding system, it’s within the hotels rights to reject your offer so you might need to up the amount you’re prepared to pay. If so, make sure your bids only go up in small increments.

Other Ways To Cut Your Accommodation Costs

If a top notch hotel on the cheap isn’t your thing then there is a multitude of other ways to cut your travel and holiday costs.

Off Peak and Weekday Bookings

You can save an awful lot of money if you book your accommodation during off peak periods. Typically, most hotels put their prices up during the school holidays. Now, even if you don’t have kids this will affect you but only if you let it.

Checking in on a Sunday is normally cheaper as are off peak periods. You could waste hours trying to find the best off peaks deals by sifting price comparison sites or you could simply go to This site specialises in finding off peaks deals for to suit your needs.

Get a group discount on your accommodation.

Tired of hotel accommodation? Why not book a group holiday in one of hundreds of locations around the world. There are plenty of websites offering larger rental opportunities to tourists. The more people in the accommodation the less it’s going to cost you.

Back To Basics: Camping

Fancy getting back to nature? In that case you’ll want to try a camping holiday. For a listing of campsites around the UK, check out Site are listed by region and each one is accompanied by user reviews and a listing of all the amenities on offer.

Experience The Call Of The Wild

If camping isn’t hard core enough for then it’s time to really head back to nature. and are two great sites featuring woodland holidays complete with a wooden hut (which is where you’ll be staying for the duration of your holiday).

Working Holidays

Free food and accommodation in return for a bit of hard graft. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Most working holidays are on farms so you’ll be getting a breath of fresh air as well as a real taste of country life.

For more information on working holidays take a look at If you want to try something a little different then check out these working holidays in a Buddhist meditation centrezentastic!

Keep Out of The City Centres

Don’t worry! That’s not a warning. It’s a simple fact that, the further away you are from a city centre the lower the cost of your accommodation.

You’ll need to consider transport if you’re planning to pay regular visits to the city centre but, in most cases, all the major cities have efficient shuttle services available.

B&B Or Guest Houses

Forget the room service and dedicated land line and really save yourself some money with a stay in a bed and breakfast or guest house. Prices are far cheaper than the average of over £100 for a hotel room and you tend to find the environment is much more homely.

For a really huge list of UK-based B&B’s and guest houses, check out these sites: and (this second link has an excellent review system).


The Youth Hostel Association has been around for years. My first experience of them was back in the mists of time (according to my daughter). The facilities have come a long way since the 1980’s. Not only are most of them well maintained, the room rental is dirt cheap when compared to hotel prices and the YHA covers just about all the most popular destinations around the UK.

Swap Houses For A Week Or Two

If you’re planning a longer stay then it’s definitely worth considering a house swap. What’s the idea? Basically, over the past 15 years or so a number of websites offering house swapping holidays have sprung up. Register your details, pay a small fee and then browse homes in desirable holidays spots.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for simply contact the owner and see if they’re up for the swap. Oh yeah, the swapping part – it’s free.
More details over at and .

Why You’ll Never Be Mugged With Ken Livingstone At The Helm

Because those “poor victims of circumstance” will have to get past 2,000 Royal Marines first!

Not content with trying to ru(i)n London once more, it would appear that Ken Livingstone also wants to rule the waves.

According to Ken, the he’s paid enough in taxes to fund a third aircraft carrier. Seems like good news for government who were set to mothball the second carrier following it’s scheduled completion date (circa 2297). Continue reading