Category Archives: Travel Tips

Travel tips to help you make the most of your European trips. Tips on the best things to see, places to stay and eat in European destinations.. The lowdown from locals and experienced European travellers to help you plan your travels.

Top Tips for Travelling Around Europe on a Budget

The European continent is blessed with a vast number of fantastic holiday destinations. Whether you’re travelling with a loved one, with a group of friends or even by yourself, you won’t be short on things to do and choose from.

sardinerobeach

However, while it’s all well and good to just say you’re going travelling, this isn’t always something many of us can afford, nor is it easy to just drop everything and go. You’ll need to have some savings in place and give yourself enough prep time, which is where your planning comes into the picture.

So read on to find out what you need to do in order to make your European travel dreams an affordable reality.

List Your Destinations

To start with the basics, make a list of the places you wish to visit and do a little research to find out what things there are to do in each destination. You can use this as the basic itinerary to help plan your trip and make decisions about how long you intend to stay in each respective location.

SAMSUNG

Book In Advance

Next, you need to start getting those hotel and day trip bookings sorted as the longer you give yourself the lower the cost will be. In some cases there will be package deals that include your days out, as well as accommodation. A trick here is to use comparison sites such as HotelsCombined to find the best-value deals but then get in touch directly with the providers to enquire about what else they can do for you – this is often cheaper as it cuts out the commission the comparison sites will take.

holiday apartment

Compare Transport Options

Rather than forking out thousands for international flights, why not consider other methods of transport? Hiring a car for instance might take longer but you can experience more while en-route, and you can also travel at a time that suits you. There’s also rail to think about, as trains can also be quick and indeed cheap, as this post from Card Cutters shows.

french train

Check Online for Honest Reviews

Finally, you need to head for the forums and look at what reviews there are for your chosen hotels, locations and trips you might be looking to book. These can help with your final decision making as the frank and open reviews people leave are bound to be more reliable than the posts by the holiday companies.

With this all in place, hopefully all there’s left for you to do now is start counting down the days. So wherever you go, bon voyage and enjoy what could be the holiday of a lifetime!

road trip europe

Four European Road Trip Mistakes to Avoid

A road trip is the ideal way to discover Europe so if you want to squeeze in as much as possible during your trip, here are four factors to keep in mind.

road trip europe1

Ignoring the Rules of the Road

Prior to setting off on your road trip you should make sure your vehicle is road worthy. This means having insurance and breakdown cover as well as safety accessories such as a reflective jacket, a warning triangle and a GB sticker. Different countries have different rules regarding what you will need to take with you but this guide covers the essential information. Part of the fun of a road trip is the ability to explore as you wish. As a result, your vacation experience will not be as organised as a traditional holiday. If you plan to drive from city to city make sure you know the rules of the road. It is illegal to sleep in your car in some countries so make sure you know the rules before you decide to turn your vehicle into an impromptu bed for the night.

Failing to Identify Toll Roads

Failing to identify toll roads along your route can play havoc with your travel budget. If you have a relatively new satellite navigation system, it should alert you to where the toll roads are located or allow you to plan a route that avoids them altogether. However, don’t leave this to chance. Look up the toll roads before you travel so you don’t have to rely on your Sat Nav.

Forgetting a Map

road trip europe2

For many young travellers, maps are a thing of the past. However, it is always wise to carry one in your glove box just in case your Sat Nav battery dies or your phone loses signal. Why not draw your route on the map itself and frame it as a memento once you have completed your road trip?

Choosing a Boring B&B

Finding places to sleep is one of the most important aspects of planning a road trip. While being spontaneous is all part and parcel of any holiday, it is wise to book accommodation for the first leg of your trip. This way you can set off safe in the knowledge that you have somewhere safe to sleep when you arrive at the first destination. Further down the line it may be tempting to stop at bog standard B&B’s along the way, but if you want to stay flexible while keeping costs low you can always rent a spare room in an unusual property using sites like Airbnb and Owner’s Direct. The best part about renting rooms from homeowners is you can add as much character to your vacation as you want to. A castle in Costa Brava or a single room in a city centre apartment in Norway, the possibilities are endless.

London Versus Amsterdam

It’s hard to compare London to Amsterdam, but the infographic illustrates some of the highlights of, and differences between, the two cities.

london-amsterdam

Amsterdam is a much smaller city than London, therefore easier to get around. Hiring a bicycle is one of the best ways to see Amsterdam, as there are dedicated separate cycle lanes.

amsterdam

Even if your accommodation is in central London, the city is so vast that you’ll probably need to use public transport to get around. If you use a Transport for London Day Travelcard or a contactless card, it should cost around £8 a day for unlimited travel within Zones 1-3. There are bicycles for hire, but the cycle lanes are often only strips at the side of the road, on which bus stop and cars park.

Although there are several famous bridges over the River Thames in London, such as Tower Bridge (pictured below), London only has 48 bridges, compared to Amsterdam’s 1753 bridges, which criss-cross the city’s canals.

tower bridge

If you are a museum buff, then London gives you more choice, with 240 museums compared to Amsterdam’s 75. It’s free to enter the permanent collections in the UK’s museums, whereas there are entry fees to most museums in Amsterdam.

Three of the Most Common Mistakes People Make on their First Skiing Holiday

Skiing holidays are fast-paced, fun, and thrilling. They’re a great choice for adrenaline junkies and adventure lovers alike, and can offer the perfect alternative to beach getaways for tourists that don’t want to sit still for two weeks.

ski holiday 3

Their allure extends beyond the excitement factor. Set against paradisiacal backdrops of towering glaciers, ethereal evergreen forests, and cosy log cabins, they provide a chance to visit new places, meet new people, and make memories that will last forever.

Unfortunately, they don’t always go to plan. Unlike beach holidays, which we’re all familiar with, the inexperienced sometimes turn up a little unprepared. If you want to avoid making mistakes and maximise your enjoyment, then here are three outcomes that we recommend you avoid…

#1: Underestimating Costs

Many people are pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive skiing holidays can be, but for rookies, there are lots of costs waiting for you around the corner. Rather than throwing caution to the wind and unthinkingly booking your next getaway, take the time to do your research and find out what you’re going to need. The right clothing, equipment, and an education at home before you hit the slopes all need to feature on your list, so factor in these expenses to make sure that you have the budget to make the most of your holiday.

ski holiday gear

#2: Failing to Research Your Location

Another common mistake made by novices is a failure to research their location. A lot of people assume that ski resorts will have an adequate snow covering year round, never realising that the reason their holiday is so inexpensive is because they’re visiting out of season. To ensure maximum fun and enjoyment, do your homework beforehand, and make sure that snowfall is guaranteed. Don’t be afraid to ask the professionals as well as carrying out your own internet searches, as companies like Iglu Ski are staffed by professionals that really know their stuff.

ski holiday 2

#3: Overestimating Your Abilities

Finally, here’s another rookie mistake to avoid: overestimating your abilities. Lots of outdoor enthusiasts assume that skiing can’t be all that hard to master, but how wrong they are. Some ski resorts cater to the experienced and professional only, and if you visit them, you’re unlikely to have much fun. If you like a challenge, take some lessons at a nearby snow sports centre, and thus broaden the range of activities and slopes that you’ll be able to have a bash at. However, if you’re truly novice, make sure that you stick to resorts that cater to people of your ability, where instructors will be available onsite to help you.

Make sure that you have a superb snow covered skiing adventure by getting it right from the word go.

FlightHub Says Travel Insurance a Necessity For Adventure Travellers

While there is an element of risk associated with any form of travel, adventure travel raises the stakes in terms of risk of injury. FlightHub, a North American online travel agency, has helped many backpackers, adventure travellers, and vagabonds kick off their trips and always recommends that these travellers investigate insurance. After a quick FlightHub review, I came up with a few crucial reasons why travellers who are going on higher risk trips need to consider travel insurance.

adventure travel

First, the obvious. Adventure travellers should have insurance in case they get injured or sick on vacation. I say this with personal experience as a friend of mine once required hospitalization and dealt with a family member requiring surgery in another country. Insurance in those cases was a lifesaver. Between the two incidents, which both occurred in the United States, their family would have faced severe financial hardship. With that being said, getting sick in the United States isn’t a worst case scenario. Their modern medical system means you will receive top notch care. You can’t say the same for third world or under developed countries. This makes insurance even more necessary, as insurance in most cases will assist you in getting home quickly to see a doctor in your own country.

Secondly, natural disasters can be devastating no matter where they occur, but in regions with poor infrastructure and less organized policing and rescue efforts they can become even more dangerous thanks to looting, poor sanitation, and criminal activity. FlightHub says having insurance allows you to quickly find a route out of danger. In the event you don’t have insurance you would be relying entirely on embassy services which can get bogged down quickly in times of great need.

Lastly, according to FlightHub, your gear. If you are living out of your backpack and it gets stolen or destroyed, you will be royally screwed. Insurance helps you recoup necessary supplies or at least provides you with financial help to get you back on your feet. In some areas, your bag is your only ally, so insurance can keep you covered in case of loss or destruction.

Travel insurance allows you to travel with peace of mind. While no one plans for anything to go wrong, you should always plan for the chance that something could go wrong, making travel insurance a no brainer.

FlightHub Tips For Vacation Injuries Or Illnesses

You are on vacation. Maybe you are at a resort or are in the middle of the wilderness backpacking, but something goes wrong. What do you do next?

FlightHub have heard this question before in dealing with clients. These questions have made it necessary that FlightHub review protocols for these types of emergencies as part of its travel insurance offerings. So what are you supposed to do?

helicopter ambulance

1 – Identify The Severity Of Your Injury

Do you require urgent medical attention? If yes, go to the hospital. If not, the first stop should be the closest pharmacy. FlightHub says pharmacists in many countries are able to prescribe medication on site, meaning you can avoid the hospital altogether if your situation simply requires antibiotics. Additionally, a pharmacist can give you advice going forward, like whether you should go to the hospital asap, or if you can wait until you get home. If you have no idea where to find a pharmacy or hospital, ask your tour guide or hotel staff.

2 – Get In Contact With Your Family Doctor

Whether or not you require hospitalization, contact your family doctor. If you don’t need the hospital right away you can give your doctor the heads up that you’ll be coming to visit, If you do, getting in touch with your doctor can facilitate the exchange of your medical information. Last thing you need according to FlightHub is a foreign doctor prescribing or administering medications to which you may be allergic.

3 – Contact Your Embassy

Your embassy is there to help. FlightHub says embassy services can vary depending on their facilities, but they’ll be able to provide various forms of service that can come in handy in your time of need.

4 – Call Your Insurance Company (Did You Remember To Get Insurance?)

Lastly, get in touch with your insurance provider if you purchased travel insurance. The sooner the better as bills will pile up. On that note, get a copy of every document you see. You never know what you’ll need, and those documents are a lot easier to get when you are in the country where they were issued.

5 – Get Home Safe

FlightHub says you should definitely do your best to get home as soon as possible depending on the severity of your condition. So, get home safe, and get home quickly. You don’t need complications coming up again while on vacation.

the head sculpture in Jardin Marechal Juin in Nice

The Giant Head Sculpture in Jardin Marechal Juin in Nice, France

I’d seen a couple of photos of the enormous head sculpture in Nice on Pinterest prior to my visit to the city. I intended to seek out the sculpture to take some photos. But I chanced upon it when I got slightly lost walking from our hotel to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC).

Jardin Marechal Juin Nice

The head sculpture is located in Jardin Marechal Juin, which lies between the Acropoplis conference centre and MAMAC.  It’s official title is ‘La Tete au Carre de Sosno’ which translates to ‘Thinking Inside the Box’. It was created by the French artist and sculptor Sacha Sosno. The sculpture is home to a library with three floors. I’m not sure if it’s ever open to the public, I couldn’t find any information about this.

Jardin Marechal Juin in Nice

There are a few other sculptures in Nice’s Jardin Marechal Juin. I liked the rock man, held in place by wire wrapped around his body.

rock sculpture in Jardin Marechal Juin Nice

The man below looked pensive as he stared up into the sky.

close up of sculpture in Jardin Marechal Juin Nice

I liked the simplicity of the predominately white sculpture in contrast to the intricate balconies and green shutters of the pink building behind it.

Jardin Marechal Juin Nice sculpture

 

What Can You Buy for £10 Around the World?

Flight Centre’s ‘What Can £10 Get You Around the World?’ infographic highlights a selection of activities in different countries.

The activities which most appeal to me all involve the views.

The Forest Research Institute Malaysia Canopy Walk near Kuala Lumpur takes you along a 150 metre walkway in the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve, which is suspended at a height of 30 metres. It’s advisable to book in advance as there’s a limit of 250 people per day.

what £10 can buy you around the world

The Table Mountain Cable Car Ride in South Africa’s Capetown ascends more than 1000 metres. In Summer, there is a half price ‘Sunset Special’ promotion if you take your ride after 6pm. Free family-friendly guided walks, lasting 30 minutes, depart every hour from Apostles Terrace. If you’d prefer a longer walk, there are three hiking trails from the Upper Cable Station.

I’d need to substitute a non-alcoholic drink for the Hot Chocolate Martini served at the Hilton Bellini Bar, which overlooks Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand.

Tatev Monastery Armenia

Top 5 Things to Do in Armenia

One of the first Christian countries in the world, Armenia, is a small country in the Southern Caucasus that despite its tragic history overcame all the difficulties and now is an independent republic. Perhaps, you haven’t heard about Armenia a lot and it is not the first country that will come to mind as a travel destination. But its world heritage sites, ancient monasteries, friendly culture, and exotic dishes make it well worth visiting. So if your interest is piqued, why not have a holiday filled with culture, history and relaxation. Here are top 5 things to do in Armenia.

Enjoy the View of Ararat Mount

Khor Virap Armenia

Khor Virap

Despite the fact that now Ararat Mount is not situated on the territory of Armenia, it is exactly from here that opens the most exciting and unforgettable view of this Biblical mountain. And during your journey in Armenia we recommend primarily to visit those places which offer the most fascinating view to that mountain. In Yerevan, you can climb the observation area of the Cascade – the huge stair connecting the centre of the city with the residential area and if the weather is clear you’ll be able to enjoy the view of Yerevan and Ararat. If you drive to the monastery of Khor Virap located a one hour drive from Yerevan, you’ll get a truly impressive sight. Nowhere in Armenia does Ararat seem so close.

Fly on the Longest Rope Way in World to Tatev Monastery

Tatev Monastery Armenia

Tatev Monastery

Armenia is famous for its ancient Christian monasteries and temples that have unique history and architecture. All of them are really worth visiting. However, in this article we’d like to mention the monastery of Tatev – the medieval architectural masterpiece of the 9th century. Once it was an important spiritual and educational center of the Middle Ages. It’s located on the edge of the canyon surrounded by the mountainous Armenian nature. Take the world longest rope way, included into the Guinness Book of Records, and fly over the deep Vorotan River canyon to the monastery.

Taste Armenian National Dishes

Armenian sudjoukh and dried fruits

Armenian sudjoukh and dried fruit

Tourist travel in a foreign country wouldn’t be complete without tasting local dishes. So in Armenia the choice is great, there are lots of good restaurants offering wide variety of national dishes. You can order Armenian tolma, which is a minced meat wrapped in grape leaves, Armenian barbecue prepared by special national recipes, some kind of soups, for example, white creamy spas or thick tasty khash. Don’t forget about national sweets and try soft cake gata, tasty sudjoukh with wall nuts and wide variety of bright dried fruits which have soaked up the rays of hot Armenian sun.

Take Part in National Festivals

Festival of tolma Armenia

Festival of Tolma

Every year various national festivals take part in different picturesque corners of Armenia. The festivals are dedicated to local dishes, products, costumes or other no less unique national symbols. So if you happen to visit Armenia during one of them try not to miss such an opportunity to plunge in an absolutely new colourful atmosphere and get acquainted with some interesting traditions. You will enjoy national songs and dances, games and competitions, and a lot of tasty goodies. For example, on May 16, you can visit the Festival of Dolma and try different variations of this national dish. And in August in the picturesque town of Dilijan, you can take part in the carpet festival and not only enjoy the beautiful national ornaments, but also buy the work you like the most.

Enjoy Paragliding

Paragliding Armenia

Did you know that Armenia is an excellent place not only for the cultural tourism but also for  adventure travel? Mountainous landscapes and favourable climatic conditions contribute to the fact that the fans of extreme sports come to Armenia for a new adrenaline high. Paragliding has recently become popular. The flying places here are quite variable and the choice depends on the season, weather conditions and some other important factors. So if you are an extreme lover and want to combine the paragliding activity with the interesting cultural program, enjoy beautiful landscapes and get new impressions Armenia is a perfect place.

plage vieille chapelle marseille in the south of france

Marseille’s Beautiful Beaches

I wasn’t expecting the beaches in the French city of Marseille to be so beautiful. In fact the main reason that we went there was that our son Gary wanted to see the Bowl skate park, located at Plage Vieille Chapelle, which was featured in some skateboarding games he’d played when he was younger. As often happens, real life didn’t quite match fantasy, as the skate park looked much better and bigger in the game.

our son gary at the bowl skatepark marseille france

Heavy rain was forecast for the afternoon. The darkening skies made for some dramatic photos of Plage Vielle Chapelle in Marseille.

plage vieille chapelle in marseille france

plage vielle chapelle marseille france

culpture at plage vieille chapelle marseille france

anse de la chapelle marseille france

If you’re visiting Marseille, I recommend a visit to the beaches.