A Drink for Every Destination – What’s Your Favourite Holiday Tipple?

I think most of us are guilty of over indulging during our holidays abroad, and while it may not be ‘socially acceptable’ to drink a Piña Colada at 11am down at your local pub, it is almost mandatory when you are lying by the pool in an exotic destination!

Holidays

But the more I travel, the more I believe that different drinks belong in different destinations (ie. red wine just doesn’t belong on a beach!), and my favourite holiday tipple really depends on where I am going or what I am doing…

White Wine

As the sun sets over Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, there is nothing better than a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Crisp, fruity, and easy to drink (too easy maybe!), white wine is a summertime drink that needs sunshine!

Red Wine

I love a good Argentinean Malbec, but a full-bodied wine needs a roaring open fire, a cosy couch, and good company!  Think the Austrian Alps (in winter), Patagonia (Chile or Argentina), and New Zealand (again, in winter!).

Gin and Tonic

Refreshing, zingy, and simplistically elegant, a Gin and Tonic is the perfect aperitif, but it tastes even better when you drink it in the African Bush while on Safari!  A ‘Sundowner’ overlooking the plains of Africa is an unforgettable experience, and a good old G&T ticks all the right boxes!

Bloody Mary

I think most people have a love/hate relationship with Bloody Marys. I happen to love them, but only if they have plenty of Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco, and funnily enough, only when I’m aboard a cruise ship!  It’s the only time I ever order one, and have yet to find another destination where a Bloody Mary belongs…

Beer

Okay, beer pretty much works anywhere, but again, a cold fizzy beverage always tastes better in warm sunny climates. The best beer I have ever tasted was an ice-cold Antarctica on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, but Dos Equis works well in Mexico, and Fiji Gold goes down well in the Fiji Islands!

Cocktails

I’m not a huge fan of cocktails, they are a little too potent for me! But the Tuesday night ‘Sex on the Beach’ special at Lee’s Roadside Grill in St Maarten is worth the flight to the Caribbean alone!

What’s your favourite holiday tipple? Let us know! Cheers

Get More for Your Money at these Great Value 2014 Holiday Destinations

When you work in the travel industry, you constantly have one eye on the international exchange rates, and if the first three weeks of 2014 are anything to go by, it looks as though this year is going to be a great year for British Travellers.

The good old Great British Pound is clambering its way back up the currency conversion charts, and as a result, our overseas holiday destinations are getting a whole lot cheaper, and if you want to get more for you money in 2014, here’s where you should be heading…

South Africa                                                                                                               Exchange Rate as of 24/01/2014 – 18.3423 ZAR (South African Rand) to 1 GBP

Holidays South Africa

The Pound Sterling has gained tremendously against the South African Rand in the past few months, with UK travellers getting 28% more for their money than they did this time last year!  Combine that with no jet lag, endless accommodation choices, and oh yes, 30 degrees sunshine from now until the beginning of April – and you have one mighty fine holiday destination!

New Zealand                                                                                                                           Exchange Rate as of 24/01/2014 – 1,999 NZD to 1 GBP

2014 Holidays New Zealand

Back in January 2013, you would have been lucky to get 1,78 New Zealand Dollars for your Pound, but today it is pushing the 2 Dollar mark, and that is great news travellers!

New Zealand has long been a relatively reasonable holiday destination for European travellers (especially when compared to neighbouring Australia), but it promises to be cheaper than ever in 2014.

Bali                                                                                                                             Exchange Rate as of 24/01/2014 – 20,080 Rupiah to 1 GBP

Bali Holidays 2014

Bali is emerging as the world’s best value holiday destination 2014, thanks to Indonesia’s Rupiah falling against the GBP.  At approximately 19% cheaper than it was last year, Bali is a great choice for travellers on a budget.

Portugal                                                                                                                     Exchange Rate as of 214/01/2013 – 1,20 Euro to 1 GBP

Portugal Holidays 2014

While the Euro remains strong against the Pound, the local ‘price plunge’ in Portugal’s Algarve has given this pretty European beach destination the edge over neighbouring Spain and France.

Up to 18% cheaper than other Euro Zone destinations, Portugal is the perfect holiday hot spot for those looking for a short-haul getaway this summer.

All exchange rates sourced xe.com

Thinking of Taking the Kids out of School for a Holiday? It could cost you more than you think!

We all know a holiday makes us feel better, and we all know that certain tour operators take advantage of families by hiking their prices during the school summer holidays… but is it really worth taking the risk of travelling during term time?

Well, British couple Stewart and Natasha Sutherland from Shropshire, decided to take the risk last September when they took their three children to Greece for a week, and as a result, they have just been fined £630 and ordered to pay £300 in costs!

Until recently, head teachers had the power to grant pupils up to 10 days’ leave for a family holiday in special circumstances, but it seems the new regulations have taken that power away, and absence during term time is only permitted during “exceptional circumstances”.

A very controversial subject, and one that is sure to raise the temperatures of hardworking parents who simply cannot afford the additional cost of a trip abroad during the school holidays, these new regulations could stop many children experiencing a family holiday, new cultures and the many other benefits that come with travel.

In court, Mr Sutherland stated that his job at the Ministry of Defence prevented him from taking leave during the school holidays, and that their September break in Greece was the first family holiday in five years… So is this fine justifiable?

Polls seem to indicate that many parents will ignore the new ruling, with over 130,000 signing a petition for the law to be overturned completely, and research carried out by consumer watchdog Which? suggests that the extra cost involved in booking a package holiday during the school summer holidays will most likely outweigh the cost of the fine.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said, “Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect” and “Parents should never simply discount a possible penalty notice from the cost of a cheaper holiday, because this is a criminal offence and when doing so they are always risking prosecution.”

Like everyone, I have my own views on this, but what I will say is… I don’t think the above mentioned spokesperson is very well travelled!

 

Staying Healthy Abroad and Avoiding the Top 5 Travel Bugs

It is no secret that we are travelling further and to more ‘exotic’ destinations than we were some 20 years ago, but what I was surprised to learn from a newspaper article the other day, is that six out of ten travellers fall sick during their holiday!

Staying Healthy Abroad and Avoiding the Top 5 Travel Bugs

Spanish tummy, sunstroke and mosquito bites are about as serious as it gets in the Mediterranean, but if you are heading down to South America, Southern Africa or Southeast Asia, you might want to stock up on the Imodium and do a little research before you leave home, if you are to avoid the Top 5 most common Travel Bugs:

1. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea, Deli-belly, Spanish tummy, we’ve heard it all, but a surprising amount of travellers seem to get an upset stomach while they are away.  Bottled water is a must in any country below the equator (and many above it), and if you do have a sensitive tum, you should avoid ice too.

While I seem to have a stomach lined with steel, I always put chilli on my food abroad, avoid salad (unless I have seen it washed) and stick to bottled drinks, and in the 50-odd countries I have visited so far, I have only had an upset stomach once – in England!

2. Food Poisoning

This can happen anywhere in the world, and there have been more cases reported in the UK during this sweltering summer spell than ever before, but if you are going somewhere warm and tropical on holiday, you need to take extra care.

Be wary of ‘all day buffets’ at all-inclusive resorts, and if you buy fresh fruits and salads from local markets give them an extra good wash – much the same as you would at home.  Tabasco seems to serve me well, and as I have it on virtually everything – it must keep the bacteria at bay!

3. Insect Bites

Now this is where I do not do too well! If there is one mosquito within a hundred mile radius, you can guarantee it will find me!

Insect repellent is always handy to have in your suitcase, and if you are heading to tropical countries during their summer months, it is a necessity.  While most mosquito bites are harmless (but damn itchy!), malaria is present in many African,South American and Asian countries. It is therefore advisable to do your research before you leave home.

4. Sun Burn

It is so tempting to lie out in the sun ALL DAY on the first day of your holiday, but the after effects can be quite devastating.  Sunburn is not only painful but it also increases the risk of skin cancer (especially amongst children), so take it easy and slap on the factor 30!

5. Heat Stroke

A knock-on effect from the sunburn, heat stroke can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseous and violently ill, so stay cool and drink plenty of water during the heat of the day.  I’m not even going to suggest you keep your cocktails to a minimum; you are on holiday after all, so just wear a big hat and sit under a palm tree when you sip a Mojito!

What do You Look Forward to Most – Your Holiday or Christmas?

The 1st of August is upon us (white rabbits etc!), the high streets are deserted, the highways are packed, the airports are going into overdrive – and that can only mean one thing… the Summer Holiday Season has finally arrived!

A time to pack up your troubles and worries and head off somewhere warm and exotic with friends and loved ones, summer holidays are something most of us look forward to, but do you rate your annual or bi-annual break higher than Christmas or perhaps your birthday?

Well, if you do, you will be pleased to know you are not alone!

What do You Look Forward to Most – Your Holiday or Christmas?

A study conducted by ‘Travel Counsellors’ has revealed that over 55% of Britton’s look forward to their annual holidays over any other event in the year, with Christmas trailing in way behind at just 27%.

As someone who rates holidays over EVERYTHING, I can definitely understand why people would favour a week or two relaxing in the sun over the chaos of Christmas, (I mean, who would choose Roast Turkey over Bodrum Turkey!), but you need a good set of nerves and buckets full of patience to travel in Europe during the month of August.

The same survey revealed that 12% of those who wanted to book a summer holiday would do so based on the recommendation of their friends, a family member or an online review, but as someone who visits TripAdvisor on a daily basis, I think that seems very low.

Do you look forward to your holidays more than Christmas­?

Do you rely on the photos in glossy travel magazines or do you prefer recommendations from friends before you book?

Drop us a line, we would love to know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Top 10 Tips for Saving on Your Summer Holiday

The summer holiday season is officially upon us, and if you want to avoid paying inflated prices for your annual trip abroad this year, now is the time to do some clever planning and internet searching to find out where you can cut costs.

Top 10 Tips for Saving on Your Summer Holiday

Unfortunately, high demand pushes up the prices of our hotels and flights during the summer months, but there are several ways to save, and here are our Top 10 Tips for Saving on Your Summer Holiday:

Book in Advance

In the 1980s and 1990s, if we wanted a cheap holiday abroad we were advised to wait until the very last-minute to score a bargain, but fast forward 20 years and it’s a whole new story!  Flight prices can increase by the day as you get nearer to your departure date, especially if you are travelling long haul, so book well in advance and secure your flights as soon as they are released by the airline (usually 12-months in advance).

Book Mid-Week Flights

If you can avoid travelling at weekends, you could save a significant amount on your flights. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally the cheapest days to fly, and tickets can be up to 30% cheaper than those departing over the weekend.

Read the Small Print

No one likes reading the small print, but if you want to make sure that your ‘bargain’ holiday really is a bargain, read the terms and conditions before you book.  Many all-inclusive options are not as “inclusive” as one might hope, and those little extras could soon add a substantial amount to your holiday.

Budget Airlines – Be Careful!

Check Your Luggage Allowance – Budget airlines may offer cheap flights, but unless you are able to travel with just 10kg of hand luggage, your baggage could end up costing more than your flight ticket.

Check in online and print off your boarding card – If you don’t, you could end up paying more for your boarding card to printed out at the airport than you paid for the flight ticket!

Check Baggage Restrictions – Otherwise, your suntan lotion and toiletries could be confiscated.

Eat before Heading to the Airport

Airports are notoriously expensive, so if you are travelling with a large family or group, eat before you head off to the airport and save the £12 they will charge you for soggy cheese sarnie and a mini bottle of Evian!

Check Wireless Access before you leave home

If, like us, you run your own business, you will probably need to have some internet access while you are on holiday.

Fortunately, most hotels now offer free WIFI in the room, reception or restaurant, but check before you leave home if it is important, as others charge as much as £1 per minute!

Arrange your own Excursions

If you really want to save money on your summer holiday, one of the best ways to do so is by arranging your own excursions.  Just ask the hotel concierge for a bus timetable and head off on a sightseeing tour – you will probably see a lot more of the country you are visiting, and you can do everything at your own pace.

Eat in Local Restaurants

I know it can be a bit daunting choosing your dinner from a foreign menu, but if you head out of the tourist restaurants and into the local restaurants, you will get better food at better prices.  Most locally owned restaurants welcome foreign travellers with open arms, so why not give it a go!

Drink Local Beverages – Including Water

In many foreign countries, we are advised to drink bottled water, which is fine, but look out for bars and restaurants who try to serve expensive Perrier, Evian and San Pellegrino! Local bottled water is always available at a quarter of the cost, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Same goes for local wines, they will cost a lot less than imported versions and often taste much better.

Head to the Duty Free before Heading Home

If you haven’t managed to save much during your summer holiday, you could always save on your favourite perfume, spirits or tobacco by heading to the Duty Free store on your way home. By then you will have so many wonderful memories of your trip that you will think every penny was well spent!

 

 

 

 

 

The Heatwave is Set to Last – Anyone for Glamping?

Oxford Dictionary Definitions:

Glamping: A form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping: Glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature – without foregoing any of life’s luxuries

Staycation: a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

The sun is shining, the temperatures are set to stay in the mid 20s all next week, and if you are one of the many Brits foregoing a summer holiday abroad this year in favour of a ‘staycation’ in Blighty, then you might want to think about a bit of Glamping!

A word still unrecognised by my spellchecker, Glamping (derived, I presume, from Glamorous and Camping) is all about adding a bit of luxury to your camping adventure, and if you find the idea of traditional camping in a muddy field with no water, a lumpy sleeping bag and an alfresco loo somewhat daunting, this could be the holiday for you!

The Heatwave is Set to Last - Anyone for Glamping?

There are literally hundreds of websites dedicated to Glamping holidays, and whether you decide on a Tipi, a Yurt, an Armadilla (Google it!), or a safari tent you can be confident you will have all the mod-cons you have at home combined with a little bit of the great outdoors.

My experiences of camping to date have been somewhat limited, I once camped in the back garden as a child (until it got dark and scary – then I went to bed!), I camped for 6-nights on Mount Kilimanjaro during our climb, and I once camped in a field (minus the tent) after a music festival in Austria…

But I have to say, I quite like the sound of this Glamping malarkey, and with unusually hot temperatures like these in the UK, who needs a hotel?  I’m off to find a wigwam!

 

 

May Day, May Day – It’s Time to Book a Holiday!

White Rabbits and Pinch Punch, the 1st of May has finally arrived and it is time to pack away the winter woollies, spring clean the house, and start thinking about that summer holiday!

The winter seems to have gone on forever this year, but with the cows back in the fields (it’s an Austrian thing), the daffodils in the garden, and the sun raising its head for more than a few minutes each day, I feel like summer is just around the corner.

May Day, May Day – It’s Time to Book a Holiday!

My favourite season of the year, summer is all about picnics by the river, sneaky weekends away, and barbecuing with friends, and unless you are one of the unlucky ones who suffer from hay fever, it provides us with the perfect opportunity to move outside, enjoy the fresh air, and dust off those winter cobwebs.

Then, of course, there is our summer holiday to think of.  With just 3-weeks until half term, and 12-weeks until the schools breakup for summer, now is the time to start browsing online for that dream holiday somewhere warm and exotic.

A recent report by TravelZoo indicates that two-thirds of us are still to book our summer holidays due to ‘nerves out finances’, but thanks to the UK narrowly avoiding a triple dip recession, the British pound is getting stronger by the day, and the outlook is somewhat brighter than we might have hoped.

So whether you are spending the day at work, dancing around a Maypole with friends and family, or spring cleaning the house and garden like me, don’t forget to spare a few moments to search for your summer holiday, after the ghastly winter we’ve had – you most definitely deserve it!

 

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve – Home of the Luxury Safari Holiday

With just five weeks to go until we get on our bikes (literally) and cycle South Africa in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, I can hardly wait to feel the warm sunshine of the southern hemisphere on my bones after what has been a long, cold, and snow-covered winter in the Austrian Alps!

The training is not going as well as the training for Kilimanjaro went (it’s hard to cycle in a metre of snow!), but we are hitting the gym four to five times a week, and hope that those long hours on the exercise bike will pay off and that we will complete the 109km Cape Argus in the 7-hours allotted…

Fortunately, the Argus forms just one part of our trip to South Africa, and after spending 2 weeks in our beloved second home of Cape Town, we are heading on up to the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve for a spot of safari action.

Sharing its borders with the world-famous Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands is not only the oldest private reserve in SA, but it is also referred to as “the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism in Southern Africa”, and homes a vast population of wild animals, including the Big Five.

While the Sabi Sand Reserve used to be fenced off, it now shares a 50km unfenced border with the Kruger Park, which allows the wildlife to move freely in-between the two areas, and as it is in the process of opening more areas within the Peace Park concept, this magnificent wildlife reserve will soon integrate and amalgamate with protected areas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Taking its name from the two rivers the flow through the game reserve, the Sand and the Sabie, Sabi Sands enjoys one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations in all Africa, and so it is no surprise that the world’s most luxurious safari properties, such as Chitwa Chitwa, have set up base in this immense reserve to provide travellers with unique game viewing holidays.

So while I count the days until our next South African safari adventure, I will leave you with some pictures shared by the many luxury properties in Sabi Sands to give you some inspiration on this cold February Sunday…

Chitwa Chitwa Luxury Safari Reserve Sabi Sands Kruger Park South Africa

Chitwa Chitwa Luxury Safari Game Reserve South Africa Kruger Park

Chitwa Chitwa Luxury Safari Game Reserve South Africa Kruger Park

Chitwa Chitwa Luxury Safari Game Reserve South Africa Kruger Park

Chitwa Chitwa Luxury Safari Game Reserve South Africa Kruger Park

Chitwa Chitwa Luxury Safari Game Reserve South Africa Kruger Park

Want to Live Longer? Holiday More!

If you love to go away on holiday but feel guilty about spending your hard-earned cash on exotic trips abroad, you will be pleased to know that the results of a recent survey carried out by Nuffield Health and Psychotherapist Christine Webber, indicate that regular holidays are not only good for our health, but they can also make us live longer.

Holidays that make you live longer - Melia Hotel Zanzibar, Tanzania

The study involved 12 people who were given health assessments, psychological tests, lifestyle and dietary advice, and heart monitors to wear before being split into two groups.  One group went on with their everyday lives at home, while the other group were sent on holidays to Thailand, the Maldives or Peru.

Holidays that are good for your health - Fiji Islands Tailor Made Travel

Two weeks after the holidaymakers returned, both groups underwent medical and psychological tests, and the results showed quite conclusively that those who had been on holiday had lower blood pressure than those who had not, and that their mood, energy levels and sleep quality had improved significantly.

Additionally, the holidaymakers were found to have a higher resilience to stress than those who had stayed at home, they had decreased blood glucose levels and that their body shapes had improved (lost weight around their middles).

The holidays that were ‘road-tested’ during the survey included a small group escorted tour, a volunteer holiday, and a beach break in a luxury resort, and while they all had slightly different effects on those taking part in the survey, the results were all positive.

Holidays, it seems, really do improve our mental and physical health, and as many of us make life changing decisions while away or implement lifestyle changes that we learnt in a foreign land when we get home, the benefits could last long after our two weeks in the sun have passed.

So if you are feeling down, tired or ill, book your next holiday abroad – it’s good for your health and you might just live a bit longer!