Tag Archives: competition
June 24, 2013

Volcano-hopping in Iceland: Win this trip!

Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Sitting on top of Eldfell

By Frankie Bird

The more I travel, the more I start to think that places have more stories than people.

One of the places that all but convinced me of this was the Westman Islands, a cluster of wild, rocky islands off the southern coast of Iceland. Here I was lucky enough to see – and climb – part of their story; the 40-year old remnants of a volcano that drastically altered Heimaey, the Westman Islands’ only inhabited isle. When it erupted unexpectedly in early 1973, it effectively “grew” the island by a fifth, spilling lava out into the sea , which hardened and formed a new landmass that is only now starting to calm down and grow vegetation.

Exciting and enthralling as this may sound – and it was an honour to see it – it was also deeply frightening and destructive as the eruption also took with it 400 homes and threatened to cut off the island’s lifeline; it’s harbour. While the island grew by 20%, the population dropped by the same amount as families were evacuated and didn’t return. Those who stayed had to live with a black and red steaming mountain as a reminder of what happened in 1973. As life-altering as this particular story is (and it’s a small miracle that no body was killed), it certainly goes some way to confirm that Heimaey is a very special place – which proud locals would tell you in a heartbeat – as it’s one of the youngest and most raw volcanoes in Iceland that you can literally get up, close and personal with. In fact, you can climb its full height and sit on the cusp of its crater, admiring a view of the town and surrounding islands. For an idea of the magnitude and force of a volcano, you can dig a few inches into the golden brown mass you stand on and you’ll feel the heat of Eldfell – the volcano you just climbed to the peak of – it’s barely starting to cool down.


Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Feeling the heat of a volcano


Volcano-hopping in Iceland

Eldfell is one of three volcanoes I got, up close and personal with in Iceland, albeit from different angles and in very different ways. Eldfell is certainly the only one I can pronounce, Thrihnukagigur and Eyjafjallajökull (of 2010′s “ash-cloud” fame) being the other two. Three volcanoes, three days of eye-opening, mind-blowing and memory-making adventure. Before I tell you more, I need to inform you that you can win this exact same experience. You (and a friend) can enjoy a five day trip to Iceland with flights, accommodation (at Bus Hostel Reykjavik), car hire and tours all included.

Read on to find out exactly what we did and how you can win exactly the same experience.


Day One

Volcano-hopping in Iceland

Admiring the view from the top of a volcano


This was our trip to the Westman Islands. We drove south through lunar-like lava fields and caught whiffs of sulphur in the air as we passed a geothermal energy plant. The scenery changed quickly but stayed consistently impressive; Iceland is one of those countries that is a privilege to drive through. With a few stops planned en route (I don’t want to spoil all the surprises!) we met our guide “Viking Jon” and from there drove to catch the 30 minute ferry across to Heimaey. After climbing up to Eldfell’s peak (a steady but short hike that is steep in a few places but with endless spectacular views) our efforts were rewarded by a visit to the island’s cliffy coastline where puffins take their summer holiday.


Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Puffins on Heimaey, Westman Islands


If you’re still awake and up for it, Jon will also treat you to a drive along a beautiful black sand beach once you’re back on the mainland.

Day Two

Volcano Hopping in Iceland

A view to remember


Again we left Reykjavik by heading south. It was the same journey, but it was far from broing. After meeting Viking Jon again, we headed inland and were given a tease of what was to come later as we drove past a row of beautiful waterfalls including the famous Seljalandsfoss. Quickly, the tarmac road gave way to gravel and flat turned into rocky and river-like on occasion; you’ll be grateful that you’re in an elevated 4×4! Eventually we reached the foot of the Gigjokull glacier and there followed some fascinating lessons in geology and geography (and I don’t say that loosely – geography was my least favourite subject at school!).


Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Off-roading in Iceland!


Afterwards we travelled further into the vast valley which became even more unforgiving in terms of terrain – but no match for the beast of a vehicle you’ll be driving in. We parked up and took a very gentle hike into a nearby valley.  Thórsmörk National Park is renowned for its natural beauty and hiking trails – and hiking isn’t my favourite activity – but I loved the views on offer.


Volcano Hopping in Iceland Thorsmorsk

Thórsmörk National Park


Heading home we got to “play” in the waterfalls we’d seen earlier and it’s actually hard to describe how impressive these were. What I can easily say, however, is this – bring a waterproof jacket!


Day Three

Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Inside the Volcano – Photo by the fantastic Anders Bergh


By this point you have climbed a volcano and explored the base of another one. Today it’s time to go inside the volcano, literally. Google it if you want, or leave it open to your imagination, but “Inside the Volcano” is a very new and completely unique experience that has only been available to the public for a year so I now feel very privileged to be one of only a relative few who have stood inside a magma chamber. Crazily colourful, very humbling and peculiarly emotional, it’s an experience I won’t forget. It’s made all the more fun by a lively hike across a lava field that crosses continents as you’ll have the opportunity to have one foot in American and one in Europe across a crack that shows you how the continental plates are pulling apart making Iceland grow by 3cm every year.


Volcano-hopping in Iceland

Lava fields in Iceland


That afternoon we followed one of the most spectacular roads I’ve ever driven across more lava fields and other-worldly landscapes to see some of Iceland’s geothermal activity at the smelly but sensational mud springs at Reykjanes Peninusla.


Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Blue Lagoon


Our day ended with a well-earned soak in the Blue Lagoon, though the relaxing doesn’t stop there; you’ll also be treated to a delicious dinner in the adjacent Lava Restaurant. Magic!


Volcano Hopping Iceland

A delicious dinner at Lava Restaurant


Day Four

A day of rest and relaxation in Reykjavik. I climbed to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, wandered the pretty city streets, admired the striking Harpa concert hall and took photos of the colourful corrugated iron houses. However, if you still have a taste for adventure you will still have the keys to your hire car so feel free to go exploring further afield too.


Volcano-hopping in Iceland

Reykjavik from above


I feel like I’ve touched on only a handful of the stories told to me during my five day stay in Iceland, but maybe that’s a good thing as they’re stories I think best heard when you’re there in person. And how fantastic that you could make that happen…

To enter this competition all you need to do is take a photo of a bus (yes, really!) and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #bushostel. The photos will be shared on Bus Hostel’s Facebook page and a jury of bloggers will pick a winner from the ten best.

For full details about the competition and how you can enter visit this page. GOOD LUCK!!


Volcano Hopping in Iceland

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

August 4, 2012

Win a trip to Barcelona!


[ Here's a cool competition from the Generator: one of the awesome Luxury Hostels I've been featuring on the blog. ( If you missed out here is a recent review of Generator Copenhagen and Generator Hamburg ) ]


Get up and close with the genius of Gaudi-one of the many highlights of a trip to Barcelona



Generator Hostels, the European hostel chain, are preparing to launch their latest hostel location: Barcelona!

Launching in Feb 2013, the location will feature everything you’d expect from a great hostel – a clean and bright environment, a good kitchen and a party bar.

To celebrate the opening of the location, Generator are holding a photo competition on their Facebook Page. They’re looking for your very favourite travel snaps for the chance to win flights to Barcelona and accommodation for two in their brand new hostel!

Enter the competition here:

To give you a few more reasons to visit Barcelona, here are some highlights of the beautiful Spanish city:


Gaudi: From La Sagrada Familia to his lizards, Gaudi’s beautiful architecture makes Barcelona unique.


Las Ramblas: The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca once said that La Rambla was “the only street in the world which I wish would never end.” Endless rows of florists, shops, cafes, restaurants and more make this street (or to be more accurate, collection of streets) the perfect place to while away an hour or two.



La Boqueria: One of the greatest food markets of the world and one of the great Barcelona experiences


La Boqueria: It’s hard to mention Barcelona without a reference to the vast amount of delicious food available in the country. Visit the largest market in Spain for everything from fruit and vegetables to salted cod and local cheeses.


Discover Barcelona for yourself – enter the competition here!

December 23, 2011

Complete the BudgetTraveller Annual Survey- Win 1 of 4 New York City-Pick Guides








It’s come to the end of a very exciting year in travel at the BudgetTraveller

Between me and my team of trusted contributors, we’ve covered over 19 destinations this year on the BudgetTraveller and sister blog Europebudgetguide.com

Berlin, Paris, Costa Brava, Bologna/Rimini, Florence, Barcelona, Dordogne, Lisbon, Oslo, London, Granada, La Rochelle/Ile de Re, Antalya, Rotterdam, Krakow, Gdansk, Ystad/Malmo and Kolkata – wow some amazing memories there.


Next year I am already in planning mode and have a whole raft of exciting trip and project ideas in store.

However, as the readers of my blog, you are in the driving seat.


The blog is not just about my travel aspirations but more about discovering, sharing and inspiring your travels.


So please accept my invitation of completing the first ever annual BudgetTraveller survey.

Please click on the link here or just go to

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QRMY8BN    [ Copy and paste in your browser ]


10 minutes max to fill out.

Please feel free to share this and forward to your friends-more responses, the better!

Deadline for completing the survey is Friday, 13th January 2012.


As a special thank you to all those taking the effort to filling out the survey, you have the option of being entered into a prize draw to win 1 of 4 New York City-Pick Guides!

Just leave your contact details at the end of the survey.

Winners of the New York City-Pick Guides will be announced on Monday 16th January, 2012.


Oxygen Books’  acclaimed city-pick series is a new kind of travel guide featuring some of the best-ever writing on favourite world cities from Berlin, Paris and London to Venice, Amsterdam and Dublin.



Their latest title, city-pick  New York, has over sixty dazzling writers on the most happening city in the world including Tom Wolfe, Scott Fitzgerald, Alistair Cooke and Jan Morris.

It’s already been called ‘excellent’ by The Guardian and ‘remarkable’ by the Sydney Morning Herald.


Big thank you to Malcolm Burgess for the kind donation of the guides for the survey.


August 18, 2011

BudgetTraveller Launch Competition : Win 1 of 4 great prizes




To celebrate the launch of the BudgetTraveller I have not 1 but 4 fantastic prizes to giveaway to you today.


To be in with a chance of winning, I want you to send in a memorable budget tip from your recent travels.

This could be a great meal in a restaurant or  a great museum, a great walking trail or a memorable place you stayed that was budget friendly-anything!

If you can send in 50-100 words with a picture, that would be great.

Email address to send your entries is europebudgetguide AT gmail.com

The winning entries will also be published on the BudgetTraveller.


Deadline for entries is Friday 9th September.

Send in your tips with your name and address please.

Winners will be notified by email on Monday 12th September, 2011. Good luck!

PS : Big thank you to Kasia Dietz, BudgetPlaces.com, CrashPadder and umi Brighton for donating the prizes!!


So what are the prizes!?


We have 4 prizes.

1sr Prize


The first prize comes courtesy of the stylish funky, budget boutique hotel umi Brighton

umi Brighton is a beautiful 1850’s period building ideally situated on the sea front in the heart of Brighton’s vibrant city centre.

Winner will be treated to a 4 night stay (Sunday to Thursday only) in one of umiBrighton’s seafront double room.


2nd Prize

2nd prize in our competition is a 2 night stay for 2 people* in any BudgetPlaces.com destination.

With over 6500 hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast places to choose from in 700 cities there is no shortage of places to go on holiday if you win. ( *Budgetplaces.com T&C apply )



3rd Prize

This is another great prize: £50 voucher (valid for 12 months redeemed via the website) from the glorious worldwide homestay specialists Crashpadder.

Crashpadder is perfect for travelers who are fed up of hotels and looking for a stay with more soul where you get to hangout and meet friendly locals.


4th Prize


This is something a bit different and unique.

4th prize is something stylish and for the ladies and all those Parisphiles out there.

Parisian blogger by night and by day Kasia Dietz is a designer of handbags-one-of-a-kind, reversible handbags, totes, clutches all made with love from the city of love-Paris.


Kasia is giving away one of her reversible bags: the Circles Bag from the Tribal Collection. The prize included the bag and the purse.


About the Sponsors


BudgetPlaces.com offers you the coolest budget places to stay in the best destinations. Check out their website for photos and videos of the centrally located hotels, hostels, b&b and apartments.
An average 120€ savings on a 3 night stay lets you live their slogan “Save on the hotel. Spend on the fun.”


Kasia Dietz handbags are one-of-a-kind, reversible bags and totes, made {with love} in Paris. Clutches and purses to match. Select collections are hand-painted, wearable art. Kasia Dietz handbags are the ideal bag for the fashion savvy eco-conscious traveler. Available internationally in France, Italy, Greece, USA, UK and online at www.kasiadietz.com

Kasia Dietz is a NYC designer and traveler who followed her heart to Paris. Check out her great blog www.loveinthecityoflights.com



umi Brighton offers a large range of rooms to suit an array of budgets and requirements, from small single rooms to large double-roomed family accommodation. All rooms have, free Wi-Fi, plasma TV, en-suite bathrooms and tea and coffee facilities, whilst our seafront rooms are air-conditioned. For more information visit their website

Crashpadder.com enables travellers to stay in local homes, but it is more than just a place to stay. It is a community of like-minded people with loads of different interest groups so everyone can find a match. With rooms starting at £15 a night in 1,847 cities, there’s no place like homes!