Island Hopping in the South Pacific – Anyone for Fiji?

Often described as “The World’s most Romantic Holiday Destination” the Fiji Islands are every bit as beautiful as those picture-perfect postcards would have us believe.

Pure white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, year-round sunshine, and the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet, the Fiji Islands have it all, and if your idea of the perfect holiday includes island hopping in the South Pacific, Fiji will most definitely be your dream destination…

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Chiang Mai, Thailand – Tigers, Temples, Thai Boxing and Tasty Treats

My favourite place in Thailand, Chiang Mai is one of those cities where you can do as much or as little as you like.

A city of vibrant contrasts, Chiang Mai homes over 300 ancient temples, some of Thailand’s newest hotels and the trendiest bars in Southeast Asia, but they are all clumped together in a mishmash of old world meets new, which makes for a very interesting holiday destination.

Many travellers use Chiang Mai as a stopover on-route to Vietnam (via Laos), but as we found out, this pretty city, voted on of the “25 Best Destinations in the World” by TripAdvisor, has so much to offer that most travellers extend their stay, and some never go back home…

We visited a variety of animal sanctuaries (some we would recommend, others not!), many beautiful temples including the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, watched a Thai Boxing Match, and ate some of the best Thai food we have ever tasted.

The highlight of our six-week trip throughout the “Land of Smiles”, Chiang Mai is Thailand at its best…

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Friday’s Photo Session – Cruisin with my Baby!

When it comes to Cruising, they say you either love it or you hate it.

With this in mind, we booked our first cruise from Los Angeles to Acapulco along Baja California with the clear intention that if we did not like it, we would disembark in Mexico and make our way home from there…  But, we LOVED it!

The ultimate holiday for those who want to relax and unwind, cruising is easy, carefree, and once you have check in to your cabin, the only thing you need to remember is your key card, your sunglasses, and your appetite!

Over the years, we have tried numerous cruise lines and a variety of different routes such as the Caribbean and the Panama Canal, and while we do have certain favourites, we have thoroughly enjoyed every single cruise holiday we have ever taken, as you will see below…

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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!

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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

Take a Road Trip – And See for Yourself why Self-Drive Holidays are More Popular than ever Before!

If you like the idea of travelling to exotic destinations and far-flung corners of the earth, but do not like the idea of sharing your experience with a busload of tourists, a self-drive holiday could be the perfect solution.

Self Drive Holidays along the World’s Top 10 Coastal Drives

Offering freedom and flexibility to come and go as you please, self-drive holidays are a great idea for those who like to do things at their own pace and travel without ties, and if you are not afraid to hit the “the wrong side of the road” with nothing more than a map (or GPS!), a rucksack with a few essentials, and your favourite travel buddy, a road trip should be your next holiday choice.

Twenty years ago, a ‘self-drive holiday’ meant cruising along the Costa del Sol in a compact campervan for two, but fast-forward those 20-years and the self-drive holidays of today are looking a whole lot different, and a tad more exotic!

Self-drive tours of New Zealand, self-drive holidays in Patagonia and self-drive double-destination trips to South Africa and Namibia are in demand today, as travellers of every age become more confident and more inquisitive about those countries they may not have considered before.

Thanks to the wonderful invention of the World Wide Web, we are now able to research our destinations and set up a route before leaving home, and whether you decide to pre-book all your hotels, or pick and choose those you like along the way, a self-drive road trip puts you in charge of your holiday – and that’s exactly how it should be!

As people who love to self-drive, we have toured South America, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the United States but to name a few, and apart from the odd speeding ticket (hmmm!), every road trip has been nothing short of wonderful.

So if you are thinking about taking the plunge in 2014 – go for it! You’ll never look back… unless you miss your junction!

 

 

Hotel Room ‘Souvenirs’ – Do You Take More than Memories Home?

If you have ever felt tempted to pilfer more than the toiletries and stationery from your hotel room, you will be pleased to know that you are not alone!

A recent survey carried out by TripAdvisor on 19,000 guests and 10,000 hoteliers revealed that up to 70 per cent of us take more than the tea bags when checking out of our hotel rooms, with towels, clothes hangers, dressing gowns and light bulbs being the most popular “souvenirs”.

Travel Surveys

Those tiny tubes of shampoo and pocket-sized soaps may well be there for the taking, but should we really be helping ourselves to the batteries from remote controls, ashtrays, and items from the mini bar? Well, according to hoteliers, this happens every day, and if the survey is anything to go by, those who were interviewed were not exactly honest about the extent of their ‘nicking’.

Just five percent of travellers confessed to taking towels from a hotel room, yet a whopping 25% of hoteliers report towels going missing following a guest’s stay.  There were similar discrepancies over clothes hangers, with just 2 per cent of travellers admitting to taking them, while 10 per cent of hoteliers said they had disappeared.

With figures like these, it is no surprise that many hotels now charge us a ‘deposit’ for everything, but isn’t it a bit sad… I mean, does anyone ever use these mini toiletries, or is it just a case of ‘it’s there, I’ve paid to stay here, I’m taking it’?

Well, we all love a freebie, and the hotels do entice us with their impressive ranges of “complimentary amenities”, but perhaps they should start indicating what is ‘complimentary’ and what is not, or they could end up losing much more than the tea bags!

 

 

 

 

 

Are you Dreaming of a White Christmas? Here’s where you will find one!

If you like the idea of a traditional White Christmas, but don’t like the idea of snow, then why not head off to one of the world’s most beautiful white sandy beaches this festive season, and treat yourself to a White Christmas with a difference!

The southern hemisphere starts to heat up nicely at this time of the year, and if you are looking to swap your tinsel and turkey for something a little more exotic, the pure white beaches of Mauritius, Zanzibar, Bali and Fiji will tick all the right boxes.

Alas, I will be up to my ears in snow again this year, but here’s what I’ll be dreaming about…

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Grab Yourself Some Winter Sun with Our Top Five Destinations

Well, you only have to step outside the front door today to realise that winter is well and truly underway, and if you find the ‘season of goodwill’ more frustrating than festive, it might be time to pack your bags and head down below the equator or across the Atlantic for some winter sun!

As the temperatures drop below zero here in Europe, the temperatures down in Southern Africa, South America, and Oceania start to rise, and if your idea of the perfect Christmas involves white beaches, cool wine, and seaside dining, get yourself off to one of our Top Five Winter Sun Destinations and bag yourself some sunshine!

Zanzibar – The Spice Island, Tanzania

A gorgeous tropical island in the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is the perfect winter holiday destination for those who want to relax, unwind, and pamper themselves in a luxurious all-inclusive resort.  Just a shop hop from Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar is the perfect ‘add-on’ to those climbing Africa’s highest mountain, and after spending a week camping on Kili you will be ready for this beach haven… believe me!

Winter Sun Holidays

Anguilla, Caribbean

If you fancy rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous this Christmas, pack your designer swimwear and head off to the uber cool Caribbean Island of Anguilla!  A short hop from St. Maarten, Anguilla offers unspoilt white beaches, lavish hotels, and endless water sports for active travellers.

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Cape Town, South Africa

If beaches are not really your ‘thing’, why not head on down to South Africa and the mother city of Cape Town for a week or two of indulgence!  Sunshine is pretty much guaranteed in Cape Town from December through to February, and if you enjoy golfing, fine wines, and great food, you might just think you have arrived in heaven!

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Perth, Western Australia

With rugged coastlines, pristine beaches, cosmopolitan cities and endless national parks, Perth and Western Australia in general, is the perfect choice for your winter holiday.  A wonderful place that welcomes travellers with open arms, Perth is an action-packed destination, and it gets pretty hot and sweaty during our winter months!

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Mamanuca Islands, Fiji

If you live in Europe, Fiji is just about as far as you go until you start coming back again, but once you have witnessed the true beauty of the Mamanuca Islands, you will agree that every minute you spent on the plane – was well spent!

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Packing for the Holidays…

In this world, there are two types of travellers – those who pack light, and those who do not!

Falling miserably into the latter category, I am (sadly) one of those who cannot bear the thought of travelling with just two pairs of shoes, but after many, many trips with exceptionally heavy suitcases, I think I finally have my packing down to a fine art.

So what does one pack when going away on holiday?  Well of course that depends on where you are going, what the temperatures are going to be like, and how long you are going to be away for, but with plenty of mix and match items that can be layered up (or down), it is easy to pack light –ish!

Packing for your winter holiday

City breaks are great fun, especially during the winter months, and if you are lucky enough to be whisked away on a romantic trip to Salzburg, New York or Cape Town, then smart casual is key. Mix and match layers always work well, and while comfort is paramount during the day for your city tour, you can really spice it up at night as you hit the local nightlife.

Beach holidays are easy, swimwear and flip-flops for the day, light colourful clothing for the night, and again, if you mix and match items you can get through a week with a handful of well-chosen pieces and three (cannot do two!) pairs of shoes.

Packing for a cruise holiday depends entirely on the cruise line you are travelling with.  Luxury cruise lines such as Regent have a more smart casual approach during the day and a more formal dress code in the evening, which is perfect for those who like to dress up.  Royal Caribbean on the other hand, has a far more relaxed dress code during the day, and most people dress smart casual in the evening.  Swimwear, sportswear (for the gym), casual clothing for days in port and a selection of evening attire is all one needs for a cruising holiday.

Heading off on a South African safari does not mean you have to dress like Indiana Jones, and while many enjoy dressing in traditional safari clothing – please resist wearing it on the plane to Cape Town!  Early morning and late evening game drives can be rather chilly, so layers, a warm jacket or fleece and comfortable shoes are all you really need.

I would love to hear any packing tips and tricks from other travellers, and in the meantime, I will stick to the catchphrase I came across some years ago:

“When packing for a trip, lay out all your clothes and all your spending money on the bed.  Then pack half the clothes and take twice the money!”  It seems to work for me!

Friday’s Photo Session – 10 Reasons to Take a South African Safari this Winter

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing wild animals living in their natural habitat, and while there are many countries in Africa that offer superb game viewing, South Africa really does have something for everyone.

In the Eastern Cape, you will find several privately owned game lodges with beautiful accommodations and great game viewing, and as it is a Malaria-free area – you never have to worry about those pesky mosquitoes!

Up in Kruger National Park, you will find a range of accommodations to suit every budget, and if you are looking for something extra special for your honeymoon or anniversary, Sabi Sands has the perfect Safari lodge for you.

I could list at least a hundred reasons why you should take a South African Safari, but here are just ten of my favourite…

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