Pack your Bags…The Top 5 Coolest Airbnb’s you Need to Visit

Airbnb is definitely the increasingly popular accommodation choice for travellers old and young alike. Not only is it convenient for quickly booking somewhere to stay and great value for money, it also allows you to see the world from a completely different perspective than if you were staying in a hotel. You can stay with real residents who will teach you about their culture, the best places to eat and the tourist hotspots you might as well avoid. What’s more, you can stay in some of the coolest accommodation around – without blowing the budget. A treehouse in the middle of a rainforest for a few nights? A hut on stilts on a remote island? A penthouse in the middle of New York City? Why the hell not.

The Seashell House – Isla Mujeres

Ever wanted to live inside a seashell? Well now is your chance with the exquisitely designed seashell house located in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The location and the house itself are nothing but total paradise. The house used to be secretive, meaning it was pretty difficult to visit and book a stay, but the owners have now shared the accommodation via Airbnb, meaning it is now a world famous spot. For a two night minimum stay you will get a private pool, to king beds, a kitchen as well as a BBQ at your disposal. Aside from the boiling hot weather, amazing views and absolute tranquillity, the Seashell House is a truly unique experience and, as one reviewer put it, somewhere you have to stay ‘at least once’.

Nakagin Capsule Tower – Shambasi, Tokyo

If you want an authentic Japanese experience during your visit to Tokyo, then this is definitely the best way to go about it. The capsule tower offers an insight into the nitty gritty of Japanese life, designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa in 1992. Staying at the Capsule Tower is definitely a great opportunity. Inside, as you can imagine is pretty basic as the rooms are small and built purely for convenience but being the first capsule tower built in Japan for actual use, it’s a pretty cool experience.

The Gypsy Wagon – Joshua Tree, California

This traditional Gypsy Wagon is definitely located off the grid. Be at one with the great, peaceful outdoors as you stay in an authentically designed gypsy wagon, which has all the amenities of a tiny home (2 beds and one bathroom). It is completely solar powered and the location is stunning. Joshua Tree is all about being at one with yourself and nature, enjoying how therapeutic it can be to watch the incredible stars. The land is also great for natural medicine and is close to the National Park Noah’s Purifoy. If you want to feel a great sense of community, you can head to Downton Joshua. Described by reviewers as a ‘magical experience’. If you fancy something off the beaten track, this is definitely worth a go.

Geodesic Glamping Domes – Killin, Loch Tay

From as little as £75 per night, be at one with nature the glamorous way, with a Glamping dome. The domes are part of the Loch Tay Highland lodges, which has recently built a dome village. The scenery is nothing short of sensational, as is known in the Scottish Highlands and the domes are modern, heated and can be set up as a double bed or two singles on request. Outside of the domes are picnic benches and fire pits where you can sit and enjoy your breakfast looking out over the stunning Ben Laweres Mountain Range. No electricity is available inside the domes but a beautiful, converted shared stable block contains all the amenities you would need such as showers, electricity and a kitchen.

Carlowrie Castle – Edinburgh

Yes, this is an actual castle. This listing sleeps sixteen people and is located near Edinburgh airport. A perfect stag/hen party hangout, a wedding day, or simply if you want to indulge your inner extravagance. A whopping £1000 per night to hire, you will probably need to find 16 willing friends before you consider this bad boy. Alternatively, you can stay in the private suite which is located inside the castle. This is the height of contemporary modern luxury with all the authenticity of a traditional setting. The estate itself is 32 acres and is located in the notoriously beautiful Scottish countryside. You will also be fully catered during your stay. Where do I sign?


Pensions Need to Keep Up with Baby-Boomers Ever-Growing Technology Use

In a recent study conducted by Aviva it was revealed that 84% of over 45 year old’s were in complete control of their finance because they had become accustomed to using online banking, despite it being a prime example of the growth of technology. Amazing technology is used worldwide on a day to day basis, what with Playstation’s new virtual reality headset and the new Xbox Play that allows you to play your favourite games pretty much anywhere, it’s safe to say you’re falling behind massively if you’re not tech savvy. However, whilst it may be feasible to manage day to day finances using the internet, it seems that when it comes to retirement funds 68% of 45-68 year old’s have said that they find it near impossible to sort out their pensions online and whilst 62% have said that they are in complete control of their finances due to online banking, less than 28% feel that they are also in complete control of their pensions.

It may be a pretty infamous stereotype that old people and technology do not go hand in hand but according to Aviva’s latest retirement report, this myth could be dispelled in the near future, with 69% of over 45’s admitting that they are tech adopters in today’s society. So if this is the case, why do only 29% of pensioners say that they feel confident with managing their pension online? Many have realised that using the internet to manage their finances, whether it be day to day banking, savings and investments or paying utility bills has a positive effect on their finances due to its efficiency which highlights the opportunities that are currently being missed when it comes to pensions and the world wide web, and how technology can help greatly when it comes to retirement planning. It seems it’s about time that pensions were hauled out of the stone age.

If anything, managing pensions online will hopefully help people to feel that they are better in control of their finances and Aviva are encouraging those that don’t use it already, to start doing so, and in the meantime are urging banks to make it easier and more accessible. There is a pension scheme online service that is available on the Government website but users are warned that at busy times the service may become quite slow. You will need a user ID, a password and an activation code to log in. There is also the pension tracker available from Aviva which allows you to manage your pension wherever and whenever suits you. For those that might be a bit unsure, all of the information you need to know about making sure your retirement is financially secure can be found on the Aviva website. Aviva believe that if more people begin to manage their pensions online, they will be more clued up and therefore more likely to ensure that they are financially stable later in life.

Thanks to recent studies, there is countless proof that today’s baby-boomers are not afraid of technology, with 58% going online at least once everyday to read the news and half even check social media which less than 10 years ago would have been pretty much unheard of. One-third,(probably the extremely savvy exceptions) use the internet to listen to music, so there really is no excuse to not make the most of expanding technology and manage pensions online. You can also make sure you are not over-spending by using available budgeting tools, which are currently only used by 11% of 45-64 year old’s.

How to Do Christmas On a Budget

Christmas tree
Christmas tree

There are no two-ways about it; Christmas is the most expensive time of the year. We tell ourselves we’ll save for it throughout the year, yet we never do. That leads to spending all of December in a haze of panic-buying and scrimping, all whilst trying to maintain an aura of festive spirit. Here’s how you can make the most expensive time of year affordable, with a little bit of planning and a dash of common sense.


  • Plan for affordability – what can you afford to spend? It’s better to know what you can’t afford to spend before you spend it, rather than have a case of buyer’s remorse.
  • Take advantage of supermarket stamps to save towards Christmas – Asda, Morrisons, Iceland and Wilko are some of the best schemes to go for.
  • Set up a Christmas cupboard in your home and fill it up with presents as you encounter them throughout the year i.e. during the January sales or summer discount events.
  • Send your Christmas cards in plenty of time – the last Royal Mail date for Christmas post is usually the 20th of December for 2nd class.
  • If you’re travelling by train, book in advance – fares are available 12 weeks before the date of travel and this is when they are at their cheapest. Virgin Trains is particularly good for this.


  • Sell things that you don’t need on eBay to add to your festive fund.
  • Use shopbots and comparison websites to find the cheapest price – a lot of people instantly think the likes of Amazon are the cheapest, but it can be useful to shop around, especially with retailers who offer a price match service.
  • It’s best to budget, but if you must borrow, use a 0% credit card. Just pay it off before the 0% period ends.
  • Use cashback sites such as Quidco to get money back when you buy presents online.
  • If you’re buying something for over £100, paying by credit card adds an extra level of security as the credit card provider will make sure that you get your money back should anything go wrong.
  • Take advantage of free Christmas activities in your area – carol concerts, walking through Christmas lights, visiting the Coca-Cola truck.


  • Check local charity shops for stocking fillers, they sometimes have items still in their packaging or nearly new toys for children.
  • Create a memory jar of photos and handwritten memories for a loved one.
  • Make your own bath bombs by mixing 1kg of sodium bicarbonate and 500g of citric acid in a bowl with food colouring and flavouring. Mould them using biscuit moulds or similar.
  • You could make your Secret Santa at work ‘a pot of gold’ using a bowl, chocolate coins and a scratchcard or two.
  • Make an old-school mixed tape for a friend/partner with their favourite songs or songs that remind you of memories you have created together.
  • Make a coupon book that the recipient can redeem- think homecooked candlelit meals for a partner, babysitting for a friend and DIY for your parents.
  • Choose a quote that means something to the recipient and print it with some cool typography and a cheap frame.
  • Make a cold weather mug with toasty bed socks, hot chocolate and marshmallows.
  • Make a food hamper of special treats that they love, or a pamper hamper so that they can indulge themselves.


  • Buy an artificial Christmas tree – you might be shocked at the initial expense, but you’ll be able to use it for years to come. A real one is so expensive and most of the needles have dropped out by the time Father Christmas drops the presents off anyway.
  • Make your own decorations such as paper icicles, salt dough figurines and popcorn garlands – get the kids involved as the perfect Christmas craft activity.
  • Create a wreath using green and red wool – just wrap the wool around styrofoam balls.
  • Collect pine cones to make cute festive decorations – make a winter figure or spray paint them with gold and silver.
  • Turn plastic cartons filled up with water into ice lanterns by freezing them and adding a small light bulb.
  • Paint a plastic deer toy with glitter for a sophisticated Christmas ornament.
  • Make paper ornaments for your tree – use border punches with different strips of paper and staple them together at the edges.
  • If you have a small space or budget, use baubles to decorate a plant you already have.
  • Fill glass ornaments with Christmas scenes, such as miniature trees and artificial snow.

Christmas Dinner

  • If you’re serving pre-dinner canapes, make your own. Try cheeseboard sticks for a twist on a classic Christmas treat, or mini jacket potatoes. For a meat canape, try Spanish-style chicken skewers or chorizo and gruyére puffs. For vegetarians, a cranberry camembert puff is super tasty, or a spinach and potato empanada.
  • Smoked salmon is a popular starter choice, but they can be expensive. Try making salmon pate or buying salmon bits from your local supermarket. With salmon bits, you can make a potted salmon rillette or potato cakes with salmon and cream cheese.
  • Look out for discount food in the run up to Christmas and freeze it. It will be fine if you freeze it before the expiry, defrost it and use it straightaway.
  • Invite your guests to bring a dish to Christmas dinner i.e. one person makes roast potatoes, another makes Yorkshire puddings and another makes sprouts. It saves money and helps guests feel like they are contributing to their meal.
  • Make your own mince pies – use cheap mincemeat and jazz them up with orange/lemon shreddings etc.
  • Buy a plain Christmas cake from the likes of M&S and decorate it yourself using marzipan and other baking bits.
  • Make your own mulled wine – it will fill your home with a beautiful smell as it warms.

Netflix Announces Offline Playback – What Does It Mean?

We’re all partial to a good Netflix binging session. There’s nothing like settling down on the sofa, pressing play and emerging hours later, covered in crisp crumbs as the TV asks pitifully ‘Are you still watching?’ OF COURSE, I AM. However, there’s now been an incredible announcement by Netflix, and it’s big news for the binge watchers, particularly ones on the go. You’ll now be able to download some of Netflix’s best content to watch online. Think of the possibilities…you can watch on the train, on the plane, and in a wifi not-spot. You can keep the kids happy on long car journeys. You’ll never be behind if you’re stuck in a hotel room travelling with work. Bless you, Netflix. Let’s take a look at what the offline playback feature means for us all.

What is offline playback?

Offline playback is a brand new feature that up until recently, Netflix was reluctant to add. Even as close as a few weeks ago, the company were denying that they would ever make offline playback, aka the ability to watch shows/films later, a feature with the Chief Product Officer labelling it ‘too complex’. However, the company has now had a HUGE turnaround and announced today that it will offer the service from today! It’s completely free to existing users and if you update your Netflix app, you’ll see a new category called ‘available to download’.

Rival services such as Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer have allowed users to download content for a while now. Even Sky has got in on the act with the launch of Sky Q, so it’s easy to see why Netflix has finally given in, even though it will cost them a lot in licensing.

The director of Product Innovation at Netflix said that the feature had been added for ‘the people who want to continue their Stranger Things binge on the plane or in places where the internet is expensive or limited”

Indeed, it does take away the potential problems of trying to stream Netflix over a data connection, so phone companies may not be thrilled with the news as users use less data as a result of downloading their shows instead of streaming them.

What will I be able to watch?

Due to the potential licensing issues, at the moment it is mostly Netflix original content that you can download. That means the likes of Orange is the New Black, Narcos, The Crown and Stranger Things are now available to download, with other original shows to follow in the coming weeks. To download a show, just click the button on the details page and it will be stored for you to watch later.

Films such as Eat, Pray, Love, The Talented Mr Ripley and An Education are also available to download at the time of launch, as well as Netflix’s original show Black Mirror, a scientific series which explores the daunting effects of technology in the future.

What are the limitations?

For some of the shows, you must start watching them within 48 hours of downloading them. Once you begin playing it, you’ll see how many hours you have left to watch it. In addition to this, you’ll have a timeframe of around seven days to watch the content- it depends on the licence for that particular programme or film.

Once again due to licensing, with some titles, you will only be able to download a certain amount of episodes from the same licensing agreement, so you might not be able to download a whole series if you are extensively travelling, for example.

If the model is proven to work, it could be that the strict licensing agreements are lifted slightly, allowing you a longer time frame or bulk downloads from the same licence, but this depends entirely on the licence agreement.

At the moment, you can’t see which Netflix shows are available to download from a PC/laptop, which is frustrating. It could just be that Netflix hasn’t rolled it out to PCs yet, given that the update was only announced today, or it could be that they are only granting the download option to mobile devices through the app- again, frustrating for people who watch on their laptop.

Will Netflix be adding more programmes in the future?

Yes, Netflix is planning to add more of its original content such as its Marvel shows in the coming weeks and months.

It’s unknown yet if shows purchased from other networks will become available to download. It depends on whether the networks will grant Netflix a licence- the process could be very complicated.

However, with many people reacting to the news that offline playback is now available in a positive way, networks could spot an opportunity and grant Netflix the licences.

Netflix has said today on its UK Facebook page that it is working ‘with all of our partners’ to get downloading rights, telling one user to ‘watch this space’, so we should soon see more programmes and films become available.

Will you be using Netflix’s new offline playback feature?