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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from July, 2008

Holiday ”priority” despite credit crunch

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Getting away still important to BritonsThe credit crunch will not stop over a third of Britons taking a summer holiday abroad this year, new research has found.

An ICM poll carried out for the BBC discovered that despite rising living costs and fuel prices, more than one-third are still set to leave the country for a break.

However, there were various factors determining who was planning to go where, the survey said.

Of 1,007 respondents, those from Scotland were least likely to forgo sun and sea due to money worries. The most travel-happy age group was the 18 to 24-year-old bracket.

But residents in the Midlands were most likely to stay at home, it was found.

According to travel operators” association Abta, Spain was the most popular hotspot for Brits heading abroad, although the biggest areas of growth were seen outside the eurozone.

And recent research from Tesco Personal Finance, Britons are not setting themselves any spending limits while on holiday.

Nearly 63 per cent of those asked in a survey said they did not restrict themselves to a certain daily budget.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18704137-ADNFCR

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Beijing Olympic visitors urged to check insurance

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Travellers heading to Beijing are urged to check preparations and insuranceThe 2008 Summer Olympics start in less than a fortnight, and over half a million international visitors are expected to head to Beijing during the games, but esure has urged British travellers to check they have suitable travel insurance before they leave.

According to the travel insurance provider, many UK holidaymakers are forgetting to check that they have adequate cover, while 15 per cent are not checking the validity of their passport and 16 per cent have not even checked to see if they need a visa.

The research also indicated that just one in four Brits take out a travel insurance policy with cancellation cover, even though last minute changes to holiday plans can be so costly otherwise. Esure also recommended people visiting China check their vaccinations are up to date before flying.

Mike Pickard, head of travel insurance at esure, said: "A cancelled flight, lost luggage, a serious bout of illness – it wouldn”t take much for an Olympic dream trip to turn into a nightmare. Being fully prepared will ensure you have an enjoyable and memorable time at the games."

More than 10,500 athletes are expected to compete in 302 events across 28 different sports at the 2008 Summer Olympics, the 29th official games. The event will last from August 8th to 24th, and will then be followed by the Summer Paralympics from September 6th to 17th.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18701879-ADNFCR

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Credit crunch ”sends holidaymakers to UK coast”

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Families are set to enjoy the beach this summerAs households keep an eye on their spending in the wake of the current economic uncertainty and schools finish for the summer, more families than ever are expected to take a trip to the Great British seaside.

That is according to research from financial group LV=, which suggested that Britain”s beach-side resorts will enjoy record amounts of visitors over the summer months.

A survey of holidaymakers indicated that 58 per cent are planning to take a holiday in the UK this year, with various seaside resorts among most attractive destinations.

Mark Smith, director of tourism for Bournemouth Borough Council, said: "With more and more families choosing to holiday in the UK, Bournemouth”s Blue Flag beaches and miles of golden sand make it a top UK summer destination."

Meanwhile, a survey by the Co-operative Bank has revealed that people travelling abroad tend to begin their holiday spending at the airport, parting with £18 each on average before stepping onto the plane.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterparkADNFCR-1652-ID-18701876-ADNFCR

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Credit crunch ”sends holidaymakers to UK coast”

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Families are set to enjoy the beach this summerAs households keep an eye on their spending in the wake of the current economic uncertainty and schools finish for the summer, more families than ever are expected to take a trip to the Great British seaside.

That is according to research from financial group LV=, which suggested that Britain”s beach-side resorts will enjoy record amounts of visitors over the summer months.

A survey of holidaymakers indicated that 58 per cent are planning to take a holiday in the UK this year, with various seaside resorts among most attractive destinations.

Mark Smith, director of tourism for Bournemouth Borough Council, said: "With more and more families choosing to holiday in the UK, Bournemouth”s Blue Flag beaches and miles of golden sand make it a top UK summer destination."

Meanwhile, a survey by the Co-operative Bank has revealed that people travelling abroad tend to begin their holiday spending at the airport, parting with £18 each on average before stepping onto the plane.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterparkADNFCR-1652-ID-18701876-ADNFCR

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Credit crunch affecting 19% of holidays

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40% of Britons say they will not take a holiday for the rest of the yearOne in five Britons have said that the credit crunch is having an adverse effect on their holiday plans, according to a new poll by Travel Weekly.

The magazine found that 19 per cent of people surveyed in July admitted that the current economic climate would lead to them cutting back on their holidays, up from seven per cent at the beginning of the year.

Around 40 per cent of those surveyed said they would not be taking a holiday away from home for the remainder of 2008.

But people are still taking holidays, according to one industry expert.

Ian Rumgay, European communications manager at TripAdvisor, said: "People are still taking holidays and they are looking at ways of downsizing or cutting costs.

"One of which is taking a domestic holiday although the fact is that often having a holiday in [Britain] can prove more expensive than actually going abroad."

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.

ADNFCR-1652-ID-18700066-ADNFCR

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Buckingham Palace to open to public

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The Palace was originally a townhouse belonging to the Duke of BuckinghamBuckingham Palace is set to open to the public on July 29th.

Visitors to London will be able to see the official residence of the British monarch until September 29th.

The palace has served as the official London residence of Britain”s sovereigns since 1837.

It evolved from a town house that was owned from the beginning of the eighteenth century by the Dukes of Buckingham.

Today it is the Queen”s official residence, with 775 rooms.

Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by the Queen, areas of Buckingham Palace are opened to visitors every summer.

Make sure to visit the State Rooms which are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.

Here you can see paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude, sculpture by Canova and Chantrey, exquisite examples of Sevres porcelain, as well as some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out the city to see Stonehenge.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18700060-ADNFCR

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Transform Your Dream Holiday into Reality…

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It’s FAMILY TIME!

We’ve gotten some fantastic Perfect Holiday contest entries so far—do keep ‘em coming!

And, after further perusing your travel whims and fantasies, I’ve discovered that many of you dream not simply about secluded, romantic getaways as discussed in a previous blog: you want to get your entire families on board. What a task…

I know it seems difficult to fathom actually leading your family on an Arctic fishing trip…or guiding them through a bustling north African market. So many things to worry about: the cost, transportation logistics, and accommodation… your daughter’s current vegetarian phase…your son’s incredibly fair skin…your mother’s bouts with vertigo…

But have you ever actually tried to translate one of your visions of paradise into a real-life family holiday? Why not give it a try? Just cast all of the logistical details aside for a moment, and focus on the actual on-the-ground experiences that you desire: you can do this by first compiling a concrete, feasible list of tours and activities.

To assist you in this process, I have pasted some descriptive and imaginative Perfect Holiday contest entries below, responding with some suggestions.

1. Debbie’s Arctic Adventure:

“I’d take the family to Iceland for the most exhilarating holiday ever. We’d go whale watching in Husavik where humpbacks, minke, orcas, sperm whales white-nosed dolphins and harbour porpoises leap in the waters of the North Atlantic. We could go snowmobiling on the Solheimajokull glacier. We’d visit spouting geysers, bubbling mud baths and bizarre rock formations and bubbling lava flows in the Golden Circle. I want to tee off at 3am in the Arctic Open where amateurs and professional golfers compete through the night under a spectacular orange night sky. My kids could swim in the sea at the geothermally heated beach at Nautholsvik Bay, and I could ease my bad back in the pure, mineral-rich geothermal waters of the blue lagoon, a bright blue pool in the middle of a lava field which is world renowned for it’s healing properties. On September 20th is the Summer Solstice, the apex of a month of 24 hour daylight when the country celebrates the magic of the midnight sun. (Of course they also experience an equivalent month of darkness so everyone makes the most of the spectacle and parties through the night.)”

Debbie, thanks so much for that insightful description of Iceland! There are plenty of structured, guided tours of these places that you could sign up for to keep your family happy and busy—most of them from Reykjavik. I suggest checking out the following:

1. The Golden Circle Tour

2. Excursion to Snæfellsjökull National Park (Snæfellsjökull Glacier).

3. Blue Lagoon Experience, Reykjavik.

Good luck, Debbie!

2. Karen’s Paradise:

“My perfect holiday is landing in a place where the views and the heat take your breath away from the moment you arrive. I stay in a place where the walls are white, the floors terracotta and the flowers, red. I throw cases on the bed, take out all I need and head out to the pool. I smooth sunscreen on my son and watch, smiling, while he plays and explores and squeals excitedly over the lizards he finds. I lie with my eyes closed behind my sunglasses, sipping a chilled cocktail while the sun makes my skin tingle. My little boy calls from the pool, so I get up, walk to the edge, take a breath and dive into ice cold, ice blue water that in that second makes me feel more exhilarated than I have ever felt before. Later, we visit hot, exotic, noisy markets and walk round, holding hands, buying fabulous things we’ve never seen before. We visit a restaurant and eat delicious, local seafood with velvety wines from a table that faces the ocean as the sun sets. Beautiful people in traditional dress play music and dance while night draws in on the first day of our holiday…”

Well, Karen, this could be a number of places! A few destinations come to mind…have you ever considered visiting the Strait of Gibraltar? You could stay on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain to get your dose of sun, sand and relaxation… and take an excursion to Tangier, Morocco for the ultimate, colourful and cultural experience.

Some organised tours that your son might enjoy:

Kayaking Excursion in Nerja (Costa del Sol, Spain)

5-Day Morocco Sightseeing Tour from Costa Del Sol (from Spain to Morocco)

Strait of Gibraltar and Tangier Sightseeing Tour (Daytrip from Spain to Morocco)

Thanks again, Debbie and Karen!

May your holiday wishes come true!

Happy planning!

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Dublin’s attractions offer best value for money

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Dublin’s top family attractions are the least expensive in the world, according to a new survey by The Sunday Telegraph.

The newspaper examined prices charged by nine of the most popular tourist attractions in major cities around the world as well as the cost of an open-top bus ride.

In Dublin, a family of four would pay only €226 (£180) if they wanted to take part in all ten activities, compared with £549.30 in London.

Frank Magee, chief executive of Dublin Tourism said he was “thrilled” with the results of the survey.

“Dublin has a vast array of attractions all of which offer a truly authentic Dublin experience to the visitor at very affordable prices,” he said.

Mr. Magee also noted that there were many free attractions and events in the Irish capital.

“The National Museums of Ireland are a shining example of great-quality attractions which are free to visit.

“These, along with the many free events and initiatives such as Dublin”s eco-cabs, prove that you don”t have to spend a fortune to enjoy Dublin.”

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18697803-ADNFCR

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Singapore Mid-Autumn festival

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The festival dates back 3,000 yearsFrom August 31st to September 30th, visitors to Singapore are in for some beautiful evenings as the streets of Chinatown light up for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month among Chinese communities worldwide.

It is a time of gathering and reunion for families and friends, many of whom come together to enjoy mooncakes, Chinese tea and appreciate the moon at it fullest.

In Singapore, friends of all races join in the celebrations, making it truly multicultural in a way that only Singapore can be.

Enjoy the amazing display of themed lanterns and shimmering festive lights that adorn the streets of Chinatown and celebrate with locals in the traditional way.

The Mid-Autumn Festival dates back over 3,000 years to China”s Zhou Dynasty.

In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.

Singapore – Enjoy the wonderful shops or explore Singapore”s colonial history, whatever you do end the day with a Singapore sling at Raffles.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18695356-ADNFCR

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AITO: Ferry journey part of holiday

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Children see ferry journeys as an adventureFerry journeys are increasingly becoming part of a holiday rather than being seen simply as a mode of transportation, the chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has said.

Derek Moore said that “travellers, particularly families, see it as part of the holiday as opposed to just a method of transport getting them to their destination”.

This was mainly due to the fact that children enjoy ferry rides.

“A ferry ride is often enjoyed by children as an adventure,” Mr Moore explained.

Last April, Shipping Times revealed an Easter holiday boom for ferry travel from Dover Ferry Port.

Figures showed that more than 235,000 passengers passed through the Port of Dover over the four days of the Easter holiday weekend in 2007.

Meanwhile, figures from the Dover Harbour Board at this time showed this was seven per cent more than the holiday weekend in 2006.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18695320-ADNFCR

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