In 48 hours time I’ll be stepping on to a Royal Brunei plane at London Heathrow, and starting a trip that will take me to lavish Dubai for a three night stay in a four-star hotel, before moving on to beautiful Borneo for a seven night stay at the five star Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort, a trip that I managed to get at a fraction of the actual price!
All of my transfers have been pre-booked, and breakfast is included every day whilst I am in Borneo. In addition, I’ve booked a return, internal flight across Borneo to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, as well as a late afternoon river-cruise on another afternoon -a trip which will take me deep into the rainforest to spot primates, birds and the magical sight of hundreds of fireflies at dusk. I also have a whopping $2000 worth of credit to spend at the resort, on food, drink, watersport equipment rental, and at their five star spa.
All of this was a 30th birthday present to myself, and it cost me the rather moderate sum of just over £1,200 and whilst that’s a lot of money, I will be getting almost £4000 worth of bang for my buck if everything was priced up seperately.
It sounds to good to be true, I know, but it isn’t – so I decided to blog about how I did it, so that hopefully you can get a bomb-ass deal on your next adventure, too!
- Use Travelzoo to find your holiday, but not necessarily to book it
Most people already know about this site, but in case you don’t – you need to sign up immediately. Their Top 20 is a roundup of the best weekly deals from lots of different providers, and they get emailed out to subscribers every Wednesday. That’s where I found our pre-packaged trip to Dubai and Borneo, for the tiny sum of £899pp.
It’s important that you read all of the details on the deal you are interested in as there are often baggage and date restrictions (hence the bargainous prices) – and some deals include flights and transfers, whilst some are hotels only. They are pretty much always excellent value.
It’s advisable to try calling the company offering the deal directly, to see what you can arrange. In our case, Travelzoo stated the price was only available until May 2016, but when we called the actual travel agency looking after it – Premier Holidays – they managed to book us during our preferred month of September. They also allowed us to book with only a 10% deposit, giving us time to save up for 6 months before the full amount was payable.
2. Travel as a trio
Part of the reason that our price was so good, is because we are going as a group of 3 girls. That means we’re staying in double rooms, and paying only a supplement for an extra sofa bed in each one. We’ve split the cost equally, meaning the amount paid by each of us individually is much lower.
3. Take crappy flights, share transfers & sacrifice sleep
Another reason this trip has worked out to be so cost effective, is because we have accepted that the flights and the travelling is going to suck. All of our transfers are shared, some of the flights are at gross times (early mornings / late night), most of them are ‘dry’ flights (no alcohol served on board) and in the case of our flight from Dubai to Borneo, it’s at 5.45 in the morning and we haven’t booked a hotel room for the night before. Instead, we check out of our room at 2pm, and spend the afternoon at the pool, the evening in a bar, and then get a 1am shuttle to the airport to catch our 5.45am flight.
After 12 hours of flying we’ll land in Borneo exhausted, but hey, we managed to save ourselves a few hundred quid (which made all the difference when I was trying to justify such a ‘selfish’ purchase at the time of booking)!
4. Be a social media stalker
Once we had everything booked, I jumped on to social media and followed each of the airlines, hotels, and travel providers we would be using, as well as the restaurants I knew I wanted to eat at. Lots of businesses announce promotions, competitions for upgrades and little extras on social media, and this way, I knew I wouldn’t miss a trick as they would be appearing in my news feeds every single day.
5. Enter competitions
This is the big one. So as a result of my social media stalking, I found out that the Shangri La group (who we are staying with in Borneo) were running a huge competition to celebrate 10 years of their loyalty program. The prize? 20,000 loyalty card points (worth $2,000), redeemable at any of their hotels worldwide. Not only that, they were picking 40 winners every month, and publishing every single valid entry on their competition website for everyone to see.
A quick squiz at the site revealed that they were only getting about 60 qualifying entries per month. The mechanic was simple enough – share in image on Twitter or Instagram explaining what loyalty meant to me personally, using the hashtag #loyaltyis. Buoyed on by my realisation that being picked as a winner was a very real possibility based on the number of entries they were recieving, I spent a morning in bed in my PJ’s crafting 20 carefully thought-out entries and submitting them all one by one.
Well, as you’ve probably guessed by now, I won. And that’s where the extra $2,000 of spending money for my trip comes from.
Even more amazingly, after nagging my other half Pete to enter too, he only went and bloody won as well. So in October, we’re spending an all-expenses-paid night in the Shangri La at the Shard in London – the cherry on the cake!
So that’s it – with a bit of effort I managed to bag arguably the holiday of a lifetime at a bargain price, and a free weekend away in London to boot. Jammy as hell I know, but I hope that reading this might help some of you bag something similar one day! 🙂
Finally, if you want to see how my Dubai & Borneo adventure turns out – I leave on Monday, so keep an eye on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for updates over the next 10 days (…or alternatively, unfollow me if you’re going to be stuck at a desk and it’s just too much to bear)!