Couple reveal their ‘holiday hacks’ for a cheaper escape
A globe-trotting Tyrone family is helping thousands of people to enjoy cut-price getaways by sharing their money-saving holiday hacks.
Lynne and Andrew Callaghan were forced to become experts in budget travel when their income took a hit because of redundancy and ill health a few years ago.
Since then, the couple has saved thousands of pounds on overseas adventures with their children Lily-Belle (12) and Matilda (7).
While Lynne (42) spends hours scouring the internet for the best deals, Andrew (51) writes a popular Instagram blog ‘Around the World in 18 years’.
As well as 3,500 followers on Instagram the couple have 7,500 members in a Facebook group they set up called DIY Family Holidays.
It was around 2016 that they found themselves forced to tighten their belts and could no longer afford expensive holidays.
With a joint passion for travel, not going away simply wasn’t an option as Lynne explains: “Before we had children we loved five-star hotels and holidaying in the likes of Maldives.
“Having a young family and redundancy meant we really had to find a different way to do it and it forced us to think outside the box.
“I just put the time into searching to find cheap flights and cheaper accommodation and we looked for holidays off the beaten track.
“I have discovered that by booking it yourself you can see the world very cheaply.
“When we told family and friends how great our trips were and how much money we had saved, they suggested we should tell others about it and so we launched the blog on Instagram in 2016.
“Within a year we had 15,000 social media followers. We choose ‘around the world in 18 years’ because that’s how long we have to travel as a family before our children become adults.
“It took off from there. We share details of our trips and our money-saving hacks and we have also helped people to book similar bargain holidays.”
A favourite trip for the family is the magic of visiting Santa in his home in Lapland which they did for four years in a row before the health crisis.
Traditionally an expensive trip, Lynne has found a way to make it affordable.
She says: “It can cost as much as £4,000 for a three-day trip to Lapland for a family of four which makes it too expensive for many people.
“The first year we did it for two days for £1,068 for the four of us.
“When I first looked at Lapland all I could find was expensive package holidays.
“I discovered you could fly cheaply to Finland from Gatwick and get cheap flights from Belfast to Gatwick.
“In total our flights for the four of us was £441 and then we got ‘the Santa Express’ overnight to Lapland which was an adventure in itself.
“We booked an overnight in Santa Claus Holiday Village which cost us £361 and we had two full days in Lapland. Now we tend to look for an Airbnb outside of the towns where you get a better experience of Lapland and it’s much cheaper.
“Since then, easyJet has launched direct flights from London to Lapland which has opened it up even more.
“We’ve been four times now; we just fell in love with the people as well as Lapland. It’s not just all about Santa, there is so much more to it and you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy it.
“You can see Santa for free or you can pay to have a private meeting with him, there are different options. We know a lot of people think they can’t go because it is too expensive but we have found it is one of the easiest trips to book yourself.”
The family was actually in Lapland in March 2020 when Covid restrictions were first introduced.
The pandemic has seen them discover a whole new way of holidaying after they were forced to curtail foreign travel in favour of exploring closer to home.
Their staycations proved so enjoyable that they are now on the cusp of launching a new business, opening a glamping site at their family farm in Omagh and launching the first ever website dedicated to glamping in Ireland.
Lynne admits: “Covid made us realise what is on our doorstep. We felt very lucky that we live on a farm and we had a great space to enjoy during lockdown.
“It’s something we took for granted before because we look at it every day and didn’t realise just how beautiful it is.
“Holidays for us are as much about the people as the places and we realised we could bring people to us by using the land for families to come and enjoy rural life.
“We have applied for planning permission to open the farm up as a glamping site.
“Our holidays in the past two years have been on the Wild Atlantic Way and again we got lots of bargains. This year we found an Airbnb beside a beach in Mayo for just £50 a night.
“While I was searching online for glamping sites I was surprised to find there was no site dedicated to it.
“We bought the domain and are in the process of getting the website built.
“Because we have years of experience doing the travel blog we hope to help site owners with photography and social media and build a glamping community, not just a website.”
While the couple will be holidaying at home a little more often now, they have not fallen out of love with foreign climes.
Lynne has already bagged them a bargain deal for next summer when all four will cruise the Norwegian fjords for a week on board P&O’s newest luxury liner for the unbelievable price of £1,500 — what most weekly cruises cost per head.
She admits: “I actually never thought we would go on a cruise because they are so expensive.
“It just goes to show what you can do when you are prepared to search. That price even includes all of our food.
“A few of our followers have booked the same cruise since we posted what we found it for and that’s what we love, being able to share it with people.
“It really is about scouring the internet. I would sit at night watching TV with one eye on my computer screen always searching for deals.”
But thanks to some easy hacks Lynne has picked up from her hours online, you don’t have to sit in front of your computer all night to bag a real holiday bargain.
You can follow the family’s adventures and tips on Instagram/around the world in 18 years or Facebook/DIY family holidays.