A lot of low-cost holidays and flight-plus-hotel bargains come with one major flaw -- you find yourself at the airport in (or sometimes miles outside) an unfamiliar city before even making it to the hotel. Fear not, this is often easier than you think, and without the inflated prices for a taxi or private transfers.
While it may be tempting to whizz into the city in a classic yellow New York cab, economic it is not: this could set you back £40. Instead, head underground and catch the subway -- just as much classic NYC, for a fraction of the cost.
Follow the signs and hop on the elevated AirTrain, which stops at every terminal. Then change at Jamaica Station for the E (blue) train to New York Penn Station. You'll need to buy an AirTrain ticket for US$5, and then a subway ticket (if you'll use the subway a few times during your stay, it may be worth buying a week MetroCard for $29).
There are trains every seven minutes during peak times, every 10 minutes off-peak and four every hour from 8pm to 4am. It should take less than an hour, and once you get to Times Square, you can switch to almost any other subway line.
The AirTrain, again, is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get out of the airport and into New York. This time, catch the AirTrain to Newark Liberty International Airport Station, where you can jump on a NJ Transit connection to World Trade Centre or New York Penn Station -- exiting from either, you will instantly get the very essence of New York. The journey will take around 40 minutes in total, and will cost a mere £7.80 -- much better than the £30+ for a taxi that's subject to traffic.
In the last couple of years, El Prat airport has seen passenger numbers rocket -- in 2011, they jumped by over 17% to 34.4 million, meaning a lot of people need to get to the city centre. Thankfully, for those of us who aren't fans of crowded airports and long queues, the Aerobus leaves every five minutes, every day of the year.
A single ticket will set you back around £5, or a return, which is valid for nine days, will be £8.60. You'll get to the city centre in 35 minutes. Separate buses serve terminal 1 and terminal 2 (A1 and A2, respectively), and both stop several times on the way to Plaça de Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona. You can pay by cash at the bus stop or by card at a ticket machine in the airport.
Directly below the Schiphol airport is Schiphol Plaza, where there are a host of trains going to the city in less than 20 minutes. Simply head towards the yellow machines on the plaza to get a ticket, which is around £3.30. You can take your luggage trolleys between the airport and platform, too, to ensure you're not knackered before your holiday even starts.
Once you've got your ticket, most trains into Amsterdam Centraal depart from platforms 1 and 2, but check the live departure boards. If you're heading straight to a hotel that's not in the city centre, check out the NS rail service website, which has train routes and prices for other destinations.