Escape Trips Finance Tips: How you can get your Stag and Hen do for free

by Chris20. April 2015 19:14
get your Stag and Hen do for free

If you’re on the ball you will have already read our last post which explains how to cut the cost of your wedding in half. If you’ve got any savings, then this little tip could save you enough money to pay for your stag do and your hen do as well. There’s a bit of a juggling act you’ve got to get to grips with to start saving but it really can work.

So, how does it work?

You have to pay income tax on any interest earned on savings. The tax is deducted before you get your statement, so you never normally see it - but there is a way to avoid paying so much (if you’re married). If you and your partner pay different tax rates then you could save money by transferring savings from the higher earner to the lower earner. Which could help you avoid paying so much income tax on your interest. This can only be done if you are married.

You can’t just transfer your assets around to whoever and however to avoid paying higher levels of tax, there's a law that says if you give away any property or asset then you can't benefit from that asset any longer. So, if you were cohabiting and you transferred £5,000 to your partner to avoid paying tax on it, you can't benefit from it, spend it or do anything with it because it isn't yours anymore. Thanks to a lovely little oversight by HMRC, however, that law doesn't apply if the transfers are between spouses. Therefore, you can juggle whatever savings you like and benefit however you want.

Let’s look at an example. We’ll use simple numbers to make it easy to understand. If Earner 1 earns £30,000 a year and has £20,000 in savings, Earner 1 will pay income tax at basic rate on any interest. If we take Earner 1’s interest rate to be 1.5%, at the end of the year they would get £240 in interest after tax. But if Earner 1’s partner (Earner 2) earns under £13,000 a year and the couple transferred the savings to the lower earner (Earner 2), they’d pay a lower rate of 10%. If Earner 2 earns under £10,000 they are exempt from tax altogether. You can also use this method to avoid paying the higher rate - if you’re lucky enough to have to worry about it!

I hope your brain is okay, that was a lot of ‘Earner’s!

Anyway, let’s say your partner earns £6,000 a year. You could transfer your £3,000 of savings to your other half to protect them from the tax man. In the real world, our numbers will all vary but as long as your partner earns under the personal allowance you can save some money on tax! Or if you pay higher rate and your partner doesn’t, again you can transfer savings to pay basic rate instead.

Use this little calculator to see the difference you could make for yourself.

But how does this get you your stag and hen dos for free?

Okay, so not everyone has 20 grand in the bank, fair enough. If we say you’ve got £6,000 saved, by transferring this to your non-tax paying partner you can save yourself £18 a year. Doesn’t sound like a lot? Well, it adds up.

Our average stag or hen do is only about £100 (£50 cheaper than the national average spend). So in 5 years that will mean you will have paid off the stag do, in another 5 you’ll have paid off the hen do. Hopefully you’re planning on staying together for more than 10 years - so it should work out! The potential savings are much higher than £18 with varying interest rates etc. but I just wanted to be realistic to show you how simple it can be! Whatever way you look at it, you can only avoid tax like this if you’ve tied the knot!


Escape Trips Money Tips: How you can cut the cost of your wedding in half!

by Chris13. April 2015 06:42

Most of us of have heard about this new ‘Marriage Allowance’ Tax break. David Cameron has used the policy to tell us how much he ‘believes in marriage’. Let’s be honest, we don’t really care if he believes in marriage or not, we just want to know what we’re going to get out of it, right? I’ll let you in on a secret, it could be very good for you. The tax break could cut the cost of your wedding considerably.

Let’s start at the beginning; what is this tax break, and what do you get? Well, it’s the 'Marriage Allowance', its available from the 4th of August and it allows one of you to transfer £1,060 of your tax-free allowance to your partner. You have to earn under the tax-free allowance of £10,600 and your partner has to earn under £42,385. It goes without saying that you have to be married or in a civil partnership. It also takes into account your savings, pensions and investments so you can't claim it if you’re just sitting on a big pile of cash. Which is probably fair enough.

Okay, so, you think you fit the bill? How do you apply?

First of all, you have to register your interest in the 'Marriage Allowance', (here then the HRMC will invite you to apply, and finally they'll tell you whether you're eligible. Maybe that's a bit of a lengthy process, but it could be worth it.

How much is it really worth in cold hard cash?

If ‘Earner 1’ takes home £9,000 a year, and ‘Earner 2’ earns £41,000, ‘Earner 1’ can transfer the maximum £1,060 because there is £1,600 of the their personal allowance left. So, that’s £9,000 tax free for ‘Earner 1’ and the maximum of 11,660 tax-free for ‘Earner 2’; a saving of £212 a year. However, if ‘Earner 1’ is on £10,000 and ‘Earner 2’ still earns £41,000 ‘Earner 1’ can only transfer the remaining £600 of their allowance to ‘Earner 2’ which would mean 11,200 tax free; a tax break of £120 a year.

With me so far?

This next bit isn’t that hard to understand but it isn’t entirely logical. If you earn £5,000 a year you can still only transfer the maximum of £1,060. Which means the maximum you can save a year is £212. That works out at £5,000 tax-free for 'Earner 1' and 11,660 tax-free for 'Earner 2' totaling… £16,660 tax-free earnings. But surely your combined allowance should be 10,600 plus another 10,600; £21,200, the total of two individual allowances. But then again to expect such a logical idea from politicians might be asking a bit much!

It doesn’t compare that well to the 'Married Couples Allowance' which is a different (but very similar) kind of tax break. If you were born before 1935 you can claim 'Married Couples Allowance' and you can save up to £815 a year on your tax bill.

That’s not to say this tax break isn’t worth anything. On average, a wedding can cost £12,000 or even more these days but the savings you can make with this tax break can go towards reducing that sum. If you save the maximum amount over 30 years of marriage you can half the cost of your wedding by saving over £6,000 on tax. Let’s hope your marriage gets to 60 years and you’ll have paid off the whole thing. Okay, so you’re playing the long game, but that’s what marriage is about. If you’re worried about how much a wedding would cost you, see if you’d be eligible for the tax break and that might give you the push you need to just go for it! Also, keep reading this blog because I will be hitting you with a barrage of money saving tips only available to those who’ve said their vows!


An Awfully Seedy Dinner : A History of Stag Parties

by Chris25. March 2015 14:06

History of stag do

Celebrating your last night of freedom when you've been living with your partner for 5 years may seem a bit pointless. People may ask what freedom are you celebrating? Didn't it go as soon as you gave her a key to your house? If so, there's probably even more need for a stag do! Despite the changing nature of relationships and increased cohabiting, stag dos haven't become any less popular. Instead of just lasting the one evening, now they swallow up a whole weekend. That's the way we like it. They aren't going away any time soon and why should they?

To truly understand the importance of stag weekends it's probably a good idea to look at their history. The first stag do's can be dated back to Spartan pre-wedding celebrations in the 5th century B.C. Spartan soldiers would hold a dinner with toasts on behalf of the Groom to celebrate his last night as a single man. This tradition can be seen in the History of American Bachelor parties which would commonly comprise of a formal dinner and toasts to the couple. This was hosted by the groom's father and the bride was often present .

Ever since the scandal of 'The Awful Seeley Dinner' in New York in 1896, however, us boys have dabbled with the fairer sex at stag do's. That's right, in 1896, Herbert Barnum threw a dinner party with erotic entertainment to mark Clinton Seeley's entry into the world of marriage. It was rumoured that a 'hoochy-koochy' dancer 'Little Egypt' (real name Annabel Whitford) was served to the Groom in a pie! The party of around 20 guests (most of them married men!) was broken up just after midnight by Police Captain Chapman of the Tenderloin Squad. The Seeley Family, however, did not let this police interruption go unchallenged... they later complained to the Chief of Police and demanded that Captain Chapman stand trial in front of a Police Board. He did, but the case was quickly dismissed.

So, 119 years ago, men were fighting for the police to go on trial because they interrupted a stag do. Nowadays the police aren't breaking up our stag dos they're just waiting for next weekend when they'll be going on their mates package do to Prague; we have no excuse! The word 'Stag' comes from Germanic language and means 'Male animal in his prime'. This could mean you decide to celebrate your sexual prime, physical prime, just have a laugh or you do it all! Everyone deserves a good send off, everyone needs a good excuse to have a bit of fun, and everyone should face temptation before they jump into the very lovely but very committed world of marriage. Everyday we lose a little bit more tradition but I think we owe it to the men of history that we honour and maintain this one. Now, if your bride-to-be asks you why you need a Stag Weekend just give her a history lesson!

Links & Further Reading:,8599,1904885,00.html

Stag Weekend Focus: Manchester

by Chris12. March 2015 12:33

For some truly awesome home-grown fun why not choose Manchester as your destination of choice for your all-important stag weekend? A thriving city in its own right Manchester offers a number of great pubs and clubs, not to mention the fantastic activities we have unearthed for your weekend of freedom and pleasure.

Football Frenzy

For the Man Utd fans amongst you we have here a truly spectacular Old Trafford Canal Tour experience on offer which includes a tour of the world’s most well-known and highly regarded Old Trafford footy stadium.

Enjoy a pleasant time with your stags, floating along the Manchester Ship Canal with a few bevvies, viewing the fabulous Salford Quays and then landing at the Theatre of Dreams. Next you’ll tour the Old Trafford museum, visit the Red Café and finally move onto the stadium. You’ll be returned at the end of the trip, no doubt laden with souvenirs from the gift shop back to Castlefield.

Make Like Bond and Hit the Casino Royale

A popular stag activity our Casino Royale night will have you singing Sinatra and counting your winning chips. After being delivered to the rather upmarket private poker room at a renowned Manchester casino you and your stags, looked after by your own dealer who will explain the rules of the game, will enjoy a two hour poker game. After this you are free to play the night away in the main casino after a delicious provided meal.

It’s a Knockout

If beer wenches, lap dancing and the most hilarious activity session involving a series of games such as obstacles courses, inflatables, lots of water and of course big costumes sounds great to you then keep reading. The “It’s a Knockout” package based in Manchester offers all of this, food, drink, VIP passes, fabulous accommodation and more.

Clay Pigeon Shooting

If you’ve been itching to have a go at this popular sport then get it booked in so that you are your stags may enjoy besting each other’s scores. The Clay Pigeon site is located just twenty minutes from Manchester and you’ll receive 1-1 support from a qualified instructor (they don’t let people loose with guns without instruction these days!). You’ll learn the correct stance, the way to time your breathing (very important we are told) and of course how to aim and shoot properly to maximise your chances of catching that fast flying clay pigeon.

If you haven’t really considered Manchester as a top spot for stag weekends before you will now. Not only does this friendly and welcoming city offer all of these activities and more, we organise everything for you so that you may simply turn up and have the time of your lives.

Tackling Groom Speech Nerves

by Chris25. February 2015 11:05

Planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart, with so much to remember, organise and of course pay for. All of this pales into insignificance however when faced with the arch nemesis of all grooms (no, not the Mother-in-Law!); the Groom’s Speech.

If you are of a nervous disposition then the mere thought of getting up in front of friends and family, not to mention your beloved new wife could almost be enough to have you heading for the hills.

These top tips will help you organise your speech and yourself so that on the big day you’ll be more worried about when you can slip away from the reception than speech giving.

Write the Perfect Speech

No pressure here but as the Groom the speech has to be pretty spectacular. Provided you include all of the relevant parts and don’t decide in your wisdom to tell a lewd joke about the new missus you’ll be fine. First of all thank everyone (the guests) for joining you and the bride on your special day, making it clear how much you both appreciate it and hope they enjoy the day. Make a point of thanking the best man, groomsmen, and bridesmaids and of course parents.

Having dispensed with the formalities this is the part of the speech many find hardest; the slushy stuff. Here is where you tell your lovely lady how much she means to you, how happy you are to be her husband and where you perhaps share some hopes and dreams about your future. You don’t need to make this a three page essay, but do make it sincere. Try and keep jokes out unless you are sure they’ll work though.

Finish off by telling the lucky lady you love her and leave the floor to give her a kiss. This will signal the end of the speech and you may crawl back under the table.

The Speech Delivery

If you practice, practice and practice some more in advance giving the speech shouldn’t be as bad as you fear. Perform it in front of others before the big day and remember that you don’t have to make it a long speak or particularly clever, just honest and sweet. It is perfectly acceptable to read the speech out or use prompt cards if you are worried about forgetting parts.

Release Some Tension

If the mere thought of writing and giving the Groom’s speech has you tied up in knots what you really need to do is blow off some steam and where better than during your stag weekend? This is the time when you can forget wedding details (unless you plan on using the time to get the stags to help you write the speech) and kick back. With rally car racing, canoeing, clay pigeon shooting and a range of other mind-blowing and testosterone filled activity sessions you’ll be having far too much fun to worry about anything whatsoever.

Get in touch and we’ll help you put together the perfect stag party weekend and then organise all the details so that the most nerve-wracking thing you’ll have to do is remember to pack everything you need for the weekend away.

Inspiration for Something Old, Something New, Borrowed and Blue

by Chris18. February 2015 09:47

It is traditional and considered good luck to have something new, old, borrowed and blue on your wedding day and many brides decide to keep the fun going and do the same. Of course, deciding on what to choose for each section could be a little harder than you’d expect.

Something Old

Old doesn’t need to mean musty or past its best. Old could mean antique or vintage. Jewellery fits in well here however for something a little bit special whatever about a vintage lace handkerchief or some sort of family heirloom. If wearing a locket an old photograph of someone special or even a lock of hair would fit the bill. For something rather sweet perhaps see if you can have something from your Mother or Grandmother’s wedding dress to sew onto your own; a button, bead or scrap of lace would do.

Something New

This is possibly the easiest part of the rhyme to take care of. If you have new shoes, a new wedding dress, tiara or veil then you can cross new off the list straight away. Some people like to be more creative however. What about new jewellery, something very special which is either bespoke or rather unique in its design?

Something Borrowed

Something borrowed is quite an easy one, what about a piece of jewellery, a family bible to carry, a charm which could be sewn into your dress or a hair accessory? Some people pinch their best friend’s lipstick while others go for something more traditional such as a brooch or similar.

Something Blue

If blue isn’t going to sit well with your colour scheme why not incorporate the colour elsewhere, blue undies or a blue coloured garter belt even? If it does fit then the possibilities are endless with blue roses, a sapphire necklace, blue beads on a shawl; you could really have some fun with your colour scheme.

So Much to Remember

With a list of traditions such as these and superstitions to be mindful of, not to mention the guests, flowers and everything else to remember it is fortunate that the hen night is so much easier to deal with. Browse the website for your perfect hen night destination; choose from activities like dance experiences to clubbing and pubbing it and we’ll take care of the whole thing for you. All you’ve have to remember is to turn up.

Writing Your Perfect Wedding Vows

by Chris5. December 2014 10:28

There is something very special about writing your own wedding vows. These words are those that you will use to tell your beloved how you feel, to tell your family and friends what he means to you and of course there is an element of promise-making.

Where to Start

First decide whether you wish to say the more traditional Declaration of Intent first (these are the I Do parts) before doing your own vows or whether you wish to replace them. There is no right and wrong here, although many enjoy the formality of the traditional vows before the tear-jerking self-written ones.

Decide whether you want to make our own promises as part of your vows, whether you’ll include any amusing anecdotes or whether you’ll be going for the full make-up wash-out slushy type of vow speech, and then relax. Once you’ve made these decisions the fun may start.

What to Write About

A good way to structure your vows is to firstly talk about your other half and what they mean to you. Think back to your past, perhaps how you met and how you got together (there may be a funny story here or something quite sweet so do share it). Think of where you are now, what you are both doing, how life is so good and then think about your future together.

The future is a great place and time to write about. Tell your partner, and your guests what you plan and hope for the future, what your dreams are, where you see yourself in ten years etc.

Make Promises to your Beloved

This is the part where you promise to love, honour and obey or rather love, respect, support or remain forever faithful. What you put in your vows as part of this section will depend entirely on you and your partner.

Finishing Off Your Vows Properly

Finish off your vows by telling your groom how much you love him in your own special way. These vows are unique to you and offer an unrepeatable opportunity to really tell it as it is in whatever way you most want to.

And Relax

Writing the vows may seem a mammoth task, especially when faced with a blank piece of paper however once you get going you’ll soon find the words start to flow. Thankfully this is one of the only wedding-related jobs you’ll have to do entirely for yourself. Thankfully there are wedding experts on hand to ensure that you are supported in everything else, or in the case of your hen night that it is done for you.

Choose your dates, destination and from our many activities and accommodation choices and we’ll take care of the rest. We don’t write vow however we do promise a personalised and unforgettable hen weekend without any hassle.

Motor Mad Men on a Stag Weekend

by Chris12. November 2014 12:11

Motor Mad Stag Weekend

The roar of the engine, the screech of the tires and the unmistakable smell of motor oil; no we aren’t describing your first car, we are talking here about organising the ultimate motor mad stag weekend.

How motor mad the groom and his fellow stags are will help determine which of our many thrilling activities are going to be enjoyed. With many to choose from there is something here for everyone.

Even better, all of our UK stag weekends include two nights in suitable accommodation, food, VIP club tickets (dependant of the location) and more than that everything is taken care of well in advance and no time need be wasted looking for place to eat, drink or crash (as in fall asleep!).

Off Road Buggies

For those who aren’t afraid of a bit of mud our high speed off-road driving experience will have you fist pumping the air and feeling a champ. Driving 400cc Honda Pilots, skidding around corners and across the track the only thing you’ll have to worry about is clocking the slowest lap time and having to buy the first round in the pub!

Quad Biking

If talking on challenging obstacles such as the “Helter Skelter” or the renowned “Wall of Death” sounds like your idea of fun then our Oxford quad biking experience could be right up your street. Explore fifty acres of Oxfordshire countryside on a full-size automatic quad bike and don’t be afraid to let the throttle out and burn some rubber!

Rally School Taster

For the real rally car experience this taster session will have you and your stags driving the incredibly fast and responsive Peugeot 206 Super Cup Rally Car around a purpose-built stage. The ultimate thrilling ride you’ll be rewarded with certificates at the end of the day.

Safety First

No-one expects any of you to jump on these vehicles and go and so everyone is given proper instruction, safety advice, equipment and more before you are allowed to rev anything. Needless to say the aim of the day is to have the time of your life, not risk it so be assured that the professionals in charge will be looking out for you every step of the way.

It seems clear that if you are looking for some motor madness that you’ve come to the right place here. Enjoy browsing our many adventure packed activities and remember that with our bespoke packages you may now put together the perfect stag weekend to suit your needs.

Organise a Perfectly Personal Hen Weekend

by Chris24. October 2014 14:35

perfect hen weekend

When it comes to organising your own or your best friend’s or perhaps your sister’s hen weekend you basically have two choices, do it all yourself or get someone else to do the grunt work for you. Obviously the popular choice is the latter and it really couldn’t be easier to pick your favourite destination, activities, food choices, accommodations and more with us.

What About Making it Personal to the Bride

It might seem to some that when choosing one of our popular EscapeTrips hen weekends that you’ll be receiving a “one size fits all” service. The reality couldn’t be further removed. Not only do we offer a range of bespoke options so that you may personalise the packages to suit you we also foster close relationships with everyone we book with so that from accommodation to activities, if you are looking for something a little different we will help.

If you would like rose petals sprinkling on the bride’s bed in shape of a p… any shape at all, let us know. If the lovely lady has a preference about food let us know and we’ll see what we can do. We already pull out of the stops to ensure you get the very best hen weekend experience and going that extra mile means nothing to us if it means your party goes off with a perfectly planned bang.

Adding Your Own Personal Touches

The hen weekend is all about the bride and so needs to be packed pull of things she would love. If she is a sleepover kind of gal then why not book a Butler in the Buff and give each other makeovers back at the accommodation while listening to her favourite cheesy tunes?

If you’d love to have a surprise hen weekend cake why not speak to the accommodation in advance to see whether they are able to arrange this. If they can’t cater for it in-house the chances are they will have contact that will be happy to speak to you about putting an order together and possibly delivering it to the accommodation in advance to surprise the special lady. Indeed if you have anything (no horses, goats or any bizarre looking animals in the country house bedrooms please) you would like delivered in advance to form part of the weekend get in touch and we will do what we can to make sure that everything is in place ahead of time.

When All is Perfectly Planned Just Enjoy

Once the venue has been chosen, activities booked and the costumes have arrived all you and the other hens have to do is enjoy yourself. Our staff are on hand with any queries so that your bride will be able to enjoy a magical and unbelievably enjoyable hen weekend she’ll never forget.

Stag Weekends in Riga

by Chris14. October 2014 15:22

Riga Stag Weekends

Riga is the capital city of Latvia and is a renowned party destination. By day the fabulous views, picturesque walks and amazing architecture are quite the sight to behold and by night the action really does get started with gusto.

The beer is cheap, the clubs and bars infamous (for all the right reasons) and the local ladies are something else altogether.

As with all of our hen and stag weekend packages you may tweak your booking so that it is personal to your party. With the array of popular activities we offer for our Riga-bound stags the only problem you will have is narrowing down what you want and fitting everything in.

Riga Essentials

This really is the essential stag package as it offers the basic, yet far from boring, “must-have” stag experiences including airport transfers and drop offs, a guided pub crawl with two lovely looking English-speaking guides, a VIP club access and of course a visit to a very highly regarded local lap-dancing club.

This package, as with all of the Riga packages includes two nights’ accommodations in a three star hotel with breakfast included as standard. The hotel we use has been specifically chosen to ensure that you stags have everything you need from fabulous room views, a twenty four hour bar which offers food and drink, Sky Sports, Xbox 360 access and much more.

Sharp Shooters

This shooting stag package is similar to the Riga Essentials apart from the fact that you get to shoot things (targets that is!). Meet your instructor who will walk you through the shooting range, introduce you to the guns you will come to love including a Glock pistol, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a Makarov and let you show off your gun-toting prowess.

At the end of the hour and a half session you get to keep your target to show off and full bragging rights for the best marksman are of-course included as standard.

Piss Up in a Brewery

This common phrase is normally used to indicate that someone couldn’t arrange a piss up in a brewery. We however most certainly can. This package comes with airport pick-ups and drop offs as standard, three star accommodation, a visit to an unforgettable lap dancing club and we’ve also handpicked a brewery tour and a casino night to complete your weekend in style.

As part of your brewery tour you’ll get to enjoy three fabulously flavoursome beers and an array of snacks to line your stomach. Learn about the brewery and how the Latvians produce their award-winning beverages while you and your stags enjoy a leisurely tour.

As for the casino night; you haven’t enjoyed a real casino experience until you’ve visited a Latvian casino. The casino opens early and closes late so you may choose how long you want to enjoy the buzz of the club for while hopefully making yourself some extra beer money. Whether you are a poker man, fancy your chances at the roulette wheel or are a Black Jack fan there is a game of chance waiting for you at this exclusive club. Riga is perhaps not the first place you would think of when looking to book a stag weekend abroad however this thriving city offers as much, if not more than many mainstream European cities and does so in style.

About Escape

Escape is one of the original Stag & Hen Weekend agencies and since starting up in 2001 we have arranged weekend packages for thousands of happy customers. You can rest assured that you will receive the highest level of customer service and that your stag or hen weekend will be organised down to the last detail and offer great value for money.

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