Travel agent mum who saved £20k on travel and snagged free upgrades shares tips

Millions of Brits love to travel the world with a yearly holiday to somewhere sunny often being what we spend our savings on – and after years of travel restrictions many are desperate to jet off.

But, with the cost of living drastically rising and gas prices shooting up a lot of us aren’t willing to spend as much as we used to.

Luckily, one savvy mum-of-two has shared her top tips for travelling in style on the cheap.

Ruby Talia, from Southampton, has some simple secrets to saving tens of thousands of pounds on travel – and loves the industry so much she even decided to become a travel agent!

The 25-year-old, who works in social media and shares her travel bargains on Instagram at @ruby_taliaa, has bagged some incredible bargains and reckons that anyone else who loves to jet around the world should become a travel agent too as she’s saved over £20,000 since.

Her bargains include a corner suite at the Radisson Blu Mercer Street for £56.86 instead of the usual rate of over £500, a holiday to Portugal for £1,624 instead of £3,443, and a stay at the W in London for £124 instead of £415.

Ruby told money-saving community : "As a young mum to two children, I really wanted to continue travelling and give my children the best adventures abroad and here in the UK.

"I have always been interested in travelling more for less and I’m known amongst my friendship group for bagging amazing perks when travelling.

"I was once lucky enough to receive a free business class upgrade on a return trip to Uganda!

"I was applying for university at the time and my tutors said I would be able to talk myself into Oxbridge with my persuasive skills – my teacher had to stay in economy though, I wasn’t quite good enough at talking to get us all past the curtain!

"I have always been travel-savvy and enjoyed some amazing trips around the world.

"Becoming a ’teen mum’ lots of people would say things like ‘well you won’t be able to go on all of those holidays anymore’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I have travelled more since having children than ever before thanks to my top tips.”

She added: “Last year in total I saved £9,121 and that was just for travel between June and December!

“Since I first really travelled savvy and got a free upgrade on my flight to Uganda I would say I’ve made well over £20,000 in savings.”

Check out Ruby’s top tips below…

Become a travel agent

Ruby noted: “If you have a passion for travel, become a travel agent!

"This is by far my top tip! Since becoming an independent travel agent, my travel experiences have been second to none.

“I once checked into a hotel, and there was a travel agent in front of me also checking in and they received a free upgrade plus complimentary spa treatments!

"As soon as we got to our room I Googled it and found it was pretty simple to become one myself, so I did just that!

"I work alongside some amazing brands and hotels and I get to review their properties. Travel agents unlock the ability to earn commission and save money on ALL aspects of their travel.

"I love to experience what luxury hotels bring to the market and I am currently creating my own little travel bible full of recommendations and experiences of my own.

"Anyone can become a travel agent! There are no minimum requirements so long as you are over 18 and no hidden fees. After paying the £142 registration fee I was welcomed into such a knowledgeable, supportive group of agents that were all travelling more for less.

"I had support through my mandatory training that was really straightforward to complete and then got straight to booking. I’ve made friends for life!”

The mum added: “Many people sign up to be agents in order to get better deals on travel for themselves, their family or their friends because being an agent gives you access to exclusive hotel rates, reserved cruise cabins and even more discounts and upgrades. No matter who you book travel for you can earn commission.

"So if you are a business traveller, a travel lover who wants to find the best deals or somebody who already books travel for a living can benefit by earning from what they are already doing – travelling.

"Being an independent agent is amazing because of the flexibility it provides. You have no targets but the freedom to sell and book travel to anyone and everyone.

"Plus you can work as much or as little as you want to. This means that people who are looking to work full time or who already have a career, but would like to earn extra income, can easily become agents and instantly make a profit."

Collect air miles

Ruby said: “Avios are redeemable with lots of major credit card companies. Your air miles can then be used to purchase or go towards flights.

"They can also be used to upgrade economy tickets to a higher cabin class. I pay for all of my food shops on my credit card, pay it off in full at the end of every month and get avios in return!

"It's a great way to travel smarter, but only do so if you can guarantee you will pay the balance each month."

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

Ruby noted: “Confidence is key! Always, always ask if you can enhance your experience. Sometimes you just might get lucky!

"Remember to smile and be courteous, and treat all people how you would wish to be treated, at all times, not just when travelling!"

Be sure to let hotels know if you are celebrating

The travel agent commented: “Hotels pride themselves on guests celebrating important life events and milestones whilst staying with them. Many will want to make sure your stay is as memorable as possible.

"I recently stayed at the W in London for my birthday and it's safe to say I was absolutely spoiled by the team there! I’d highly recommend their hotel for any adult celebrations."

Sign up to loyalty schemes

She added: “Some are better than others and the emails can be annoying but loyalty schemes are always one to keep an eye on.

"Lots of chains will reward customers with incentives after booking a number of nights.”

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Ruby advised: “Always look out for promotions! Hotel chains and booking sites will offer their own sales throughout the year that are specific and unique to them.

"My favourite promotion is one that ran in 2021. I was able to book a corner suite at the Radisson Blu Mercer Street for £55.31 instead of the usual rate of over £500."

Cheaper dates

The mum added: “The obvious one is that if you can avoid travelling during peak times such as school holidays then do! But, this doesn’t work for everyone.

"So if you are limited to dates when you can travel, fear not there are still ways that you can travel more for less!

"For example, when booking lodge breaks and staycations, it is often cheaper to stay Monday to Friday (four nights) than it is to do a weekend Friday to Sunday (three nights).

"Last month I took my children to stay in a hot tub lodge Monday to Friday and we saved £300! I paid £280 instead of £549.”

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