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    1.  

      6 tips for getting a good night’s sleep on a plane

      It sometimes feels as if you could split the world into two types of travellers: those who can easily snooze away for a whole plane journey and others who are lucky if they get a half hour of sleep. If you fall into the latter category, it can really effect your energy levels and result in you retreating to your hotel room when you arrive instead of exploring your destination. For any travellers that struggle with sleeping on a plane, here are a few tips to help your body drift off and fit in some sleep time.
      Wear loose and comfortable clothing
      Many experienced travellers have what is known as a “plane outfit” that they set aside for longhual journeys. It can differ from person to person but generally the materials are light, baggy or stretchy (such as leggings and a t-shirt dress or tracksuit bottoms).
      Select your seat
      If you’ve been on a few longhaul flights you’ll probably have some idea of what seat you feel most comfortable in. Some people choose the window seat and prop up a pillow between them and the wall; while others like to book an aisle seat and gain some extra leg room.
      Slowly relax
      Even when you’re sleeping in your own bed, it’s recommended that you begin winding down an hour before you plan to sleep. Why not book yourself an airline lounge with a spa or massage facility? Or if you don’t want to spend the extra pennies – how about taking a relaxing book with you or load your music player with some soothing music?
      Store your bag in the overhead locker
      While you can keep your bag below the seat in front, if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep you’ll need to keep the space around you as clear as possible to avoid any leg cramps.
      Pack fuzzy socks
      You’ll want to take your shoes off to get comfy, but aeroplane floors can get pretty chilly. Make sure you add a pair of fuzzy socks to your hand luggage for extra comfort.
      Re-create your bedtime beauty routine
      Do you have an evening or night-time beauty regime? Re-creating it on a plane can help your body know that’s its bedtime and help you feel a little more comfortable. Pop to the bathroom and brush your teeth, wipe down your hands with some antibacterial wipes and remove your make-up before you settle down. 
      What are your top tips for falling asleep on an overnight flight?  

    2.  

      10 free apps to download before your next holiday

      For decades there has been a stereotype of holidaymaker’s wearing socks and sandals with a camera around their neck, either reading a map in the middle of a busy street or fumbling for confirmation printouts in the airport. While socks and sandals might still apply, the large cameras, maps and pieces of random paper part of the stereotype is now being replaced by the smartphone that is firmly glued in my holidaymakers hands. Walk past any tourist attraction and you’ll witness numerous people photographing the moment for Instagram rather than on a roll of film that they will take to get developed or walking around relying on their smartphone for direction.
      It’s definitely official: smartphones are a holiday essential and so are the many apps that can be downloaded onto them. But smartphones don’t come with unlimited storage, so if you’re going abroad which ones should you make space for on your phone? Here’s 10 free apps that we think make the cut.
      1. Google Maps
      Good old Google Maps. Trying to orient yourself when you first step out into a new city? Or maybe you’re wondering whether somewhere is a short enough distance to walk or whether you should get a bus? Google Maps can help you in both situations. 
      2.Citymapper
      Google Maps definitely holds the position as most people’s default map app, however some travellers swear by CityMapper. The benefit of CityMapper is that it is linked up to 100s of underground, subway and bus timetables helping you navigate your way around a new place without a car – it’s a must if you know you’ll need to use public transport.
      3. Google Translate
      If you’re heading to a part of the world where the signage and menus won’t be in English, then having this app that will help you avoid ordering something you don’t want or taking the wrong train.  
      4. Duolingo
      Even better than translating words quickly on your phone as you sit in a restaurant, is to learn the lingo before you go. Duolingo won’t make you fluent but it will help you get more confident speaking and understanding a foreign language in a way that is fun and addictive.
      5. Your airline and hotel’s official app
      These days, most airlines and hotel chains have their own app that allows guests and travellers to check-in online, track their flight, order room service and store a scannable boarding pass. Very handy to have before you travel.
      6. AccuWeather
      There are a lot of weather apps available but AccuWeather is one of the most detailed apps that you can download for free. You can search for the weather by street and postcode, making it great for destinations with multiple microclimates, and it will let you know the start and end times of any predicted rainfalls. If you’re on an adventure holiday and need more detailed weather instructions, the app also informs you of humidity and precipitation percentages, dew point, visibility, UV index, plus wind speed and direction.
      7. PackPoint
      PackPoint is more than an app that simply stores your packing list – it actually helps build it for you based on the weather of your destination, the activities you’ll be doing and whether it’s a business or leisure trip. You can customise the list afterwards by adding items or changing the quantity – you can then also share it with other travellers in your group.
      8. UVLens - UV Index Forecasts
      Sunburn can really dampen your holiday mood, but when you’re having fun it can be easy to forget to reapply your sunscreen. UVLens identifies your location, suggests how strong the UV rays will be that day and will push through a notification reminding you to re-apply.
      9. My Easy Tip Calculator Free
      In the UK there aren’t any hard or fast rules about tipping but in some cultures tipping a certain percentage of the bill is standard social etiquette (it’s not unknown for waiters to get noticeably upset over a low tip in places like NYC). While this app won’t tell you what the customs are for the destination (you’ll need to look it up before you go) it does allow you to quickly work out the percentage and add it on for you.
      10. Pixlr or Prisma
      If you love uploading holiday snaps to social media as you travel, make sure you download a photo editing app like Pixlr or Prisma. Both apps allow you to brighten, adjust, and re-size your images as well as add an attractive filter.

    3.  

      10 tips for your first solo holiday

      We’re told that life is too short to not go for what we want, and that we shouldn’t always follow the crowd. But doing things by yourself is daunting especially when that independent activity is boarding a plane to another country. Solo travel is on the rise with more operators, cruise lines and hotels creating deals for single travellers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the fear of solo travel magically goes away. If you’re thinking of jetting off on your first solo adventure then we salute you, wish you luck, and pass you on these 10 tips to make the whole experience less intimidating.
      1. Start small
      Every time you read an inspirational story of someone trekking through Borneo or exploring Brazil themselves, keep in mind that their first solo trip was probably to Budapest or Berlin. Don’t feel you need to travel across continents for your first unaccompanied adventure – there’s plenty of four day European city breaks with your (and only your) name on them.
      2. Consider escorted touring
      If you can’t find anyone else to accompany you on your dream trip, but you really hate the idea of solo travel, consider Escorted Touring. Most operators include flights and hotels fees within the final cost, as well as an experienced guide.
      3. Or a cruise
      Single supplements are slowly becoming a thing of the past in the world of cruising. P&O, Thomson Cruises, Fred Olsen and Norwegian Cruise Line all offer single cabins at no extra cost.
      4. Give your full itinerary to friends and family
      Travelling by yourself can be daunting, for you and your loved ones. Before you leave provide your nearest and dearest with a full itinerary and keep them updated (especially when you move between cities or countries).
      5. Bring some entertainment
      As much fun as you’ll have exploring new places, you’re probably going to want some downtime. And downtime by yourself can be a bit too quiet for some people, so remember to pack a book, e-reader, tablet or portable game console.
      6. Consider hotels with a restaurant on site
      There’s very few people in the world who don’t get self-conscious dining by themselves. While we recommend sampling the local cuisine at least once (yes, that includes a sit-down solo dinner) if you book yourself a hotel with a restaurant attached, you won’t need to feel awkward every night of your trip (even less so if you treat yourself to room service).
      7. Be confident
      Travelling yourself is a great way to boost your confidence, and you’ll need plenty of it. Whether it’s asking for directions, booking your own transportation, or striking up friendships in a hotel – when you’re travelling alone you don’t get to hide behind you’re confident best friend.
      8. Take a selfie stick
      Photos are one of the best souvenirs you can bring home with you - and the best photos will have you in them. Selfie sticks have become popular enough that you don’t need to feel self-conscious using them either.
      9. Have fun planning an itinerary unique to you
      If you decide to not go to the escorted touring route, and opt for a true solo adventure, have fun creating an itinerary that is special to you. No more standing around a tourist site that you have no interest in or missing out on an attraction because no one else wanted to go in. This is your trip and the flexibility to do what you want is the best part of it!
      10. Forget what other people think
      Whether it’s concerned family or friends, you might get a few questions about travelling alone. Most of these questions come from a loving place so just take them in your stride. You only live once, and you’ve got a bucket list to complete.

    4.  

      Where are the best places to visit in May?

      May isn’t your typical holiday month. There’s no longer the desire to book a summer break to escape the wet British winter, but it’s not officially summer yet either and if you have children, they’ll still be in school. But in turn that’s what makes May a great month to go abroad – it’s the low season almost everywhere and you won’t be followed by crowds wherever you visit. So if you’re looking for a last minute break or want to make 2018’s holiday a May getaway here’s our top destinations for the last month of spring.
      Japan

       
      The best time of year to visit Japan is spring or autumn. Between March and May the country is illuminated with the soft pink hues of cherry blossoms, with the southern regions the first to reach full bloom. The air is still slightly cool at this point and the ski slopes still have enough powder to include a day of skiing in your itinerary.
      Caribbean

       
      December to April is largely considered peak season for the Caribbean, but with May just after popular holiday times you’ll be treated to similar weather but won’t have to fight for a deck chair. Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Grenada are all great islands to visit in late spring.
      Peru

       
      If it’s a bucket list destination you’re looking for – the South American country of Peru is in its peak during May. The dry season runs from the start May until October and boasts sunny days, bright blue skies in the Andes and chilly nights. Peru isn’t the kind of destination you can book last minute though, so get planning now!
      Algarve

       
      If you’re looking for somewhere that doesn’t require a longhaul flight, then the Algarve in the south of Portugal is the perfect option. Temperatures begin to increase at this time of year as summer rises across the Atlantic, with daily temperatures in the capital of Faro typically sitting pretty at 22ºC (and 12ºC at night).
      Indian Ocean

       
      Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives are all pleasant to visit in the month of May. The Seychelles, in particular, boasts daily temperatures of 28 degrees and visibility off the coast can reach 30m making it a great month for snorkelling.
      California

       
      This western USA state boasts a Mediterranean-like climate and in May temperatures usually hover about 25 degrees Celsius (and very rarely fall below 10 degrees). This lends a hand to creating picture-perfect landscape of hillsides that are draped in lush green grass and the deserts are in bloom with poppies. The high season is still school holidays, so May has the added benefit of smaller queues and lower prices.
      Tuscany

       
      Tuscany is a great place all year round for an authentic Italian break, but is at its best in May. This is when the weather is comfortably warm with lows of 10°C and highs of 22°C, and the countryside is coloured by bright-green grass, yellow-tinged *****-seed flowers and red poppies. Locally-grown strawberries and cherries are also in season.
      Marrakesh

       
      During the summer Marrakesh reaches scorching temperatures, and May is the last time to visit before they set in. The atmosphere is hot and dry with average daily temperatures of 29ºC, which drop to a cooler 14ºC at night.
      Bali

       
      Traditionally May is a transitional month for most of South East Asia and doesn’t typically attract many travellers. Bali, however, is different. Its dry season runs from May to November when winds are also quiet creating a great environment for watersports.
      Nepal

       
      If you’re looking for a trekking holiday in May, you’ll be hard pushed to beat Nepal. Precipitation and humidity are low, while visibility is high. Also, the birthday of Gautama Buddha falls on the 23rd of May and festivals are held across the country (the cities Lumbini and Kathmandu are especially vibrant).

    5.  

      15 airport travel hacks for an easier holiday

      The airport part of the holiday is never fun. Between trying to find your gate, to getting past security, and then keeping yourself occupied during a long stop-over, it feels as though airports were invented to try our patience. As testing as they can be, there are things you can do to ease up the journey. If you’re jetting off soon, we’ve rounded-up 15 airport #TravelTricks for an easier holiday which are designed to make your airport experience just that little bit more straightforward.
      1. Wear slip off shoes
      No one wants to be that person who fumbles around trying to get their shoes on and off while at the security gate. Get to the Duty Free shopping first by wearing shoes that easily slip on and off.
      2. Convert your money before the airport
      Airport foreign exchange usually comes with a fee. Before you travel, pop into one of our branches to get your money or order it online and have it delivered.
      3. Download the app
      Many airline and hotels have downloadable apps where you can check your booking details and receive real-time updates. Some airports have their own dedicated app as well that’s worth having on your phone or tablet.
      4. Book your transport to the airport in advance
      Asking a family member or friend to drop you at the airport (and collect you) is the cheapest option. But if that’s not an option, remember to book everything in advance to avoid any rushing around or a higher price. Some dedicated airport buses also allow passengers to book tickets in advance. If you’re looking at extended parking, you can save a lot of money by booking this in advance too (remember to take a note of where you’re parked).
      5. Look at transport options at your final stop
      Do you need to take a taxi? Is there a local bus service you could use or a dedicated train line? You can also use some Google Maps features without WiFi.
      6. Purchase some snacks for the flight once you’re past security
      Depending on the length of your flight you might have a meal included, but it’s still ideal to have a few of your favourite snacks in your hand luggage. Technically you can bring dry food through security, but the restrictions can be confusing so many travellers leave it until they’re cleared.
      7. Bring an empty flask with you
      It will need to be empty when you go through security, but once you’re past find a water fountain and fill it up so you stay hydrated on your flight.
      8. Double check hand luggage restrictions
      We all know someone who has had something taken off them by security. Whether it was some make-up, a pen, pocket-knife or non-essential medication. When packing your hand luggage, cross-reference it with the Gov.uk brochure.
      9. Check-in online
      Even if you have hold luggage, checking-in an online can still speed up the process as some airlines now have a dedicated ‘bag-drop’ for organised customers.
      10. Make your luggage stand-out
      Whether you buy a suitcase in a florescent shade or cover a subtle case in stickers, making your suitcase stand out will save a lot of time at luggage collection.
      11. Pick the checkpoint farthest to the left
      It’s a bit debatable but studies have suggested – due to most people being right handed – that the security or check-in line on the right will fill up quicker than the left.
      12. Sign up for a VIP Lounge
      If you know you’re going to have an extended stop-over, it’s worth paying up for one of these lounges. Depending on the lounge, you could get access to all-inclusive food and drinks plus unlimited WiFi access.
      13. Carry a portable charger
      The last thing you want is for your phone to run-out of battery while you’re still trying to reach your final destination.
      14. Pack everything you’ll need during the flight into one smaller bag
      Pack all your ‘in-flight’ essentials (such as your book, headphones and travel pillow) into one smaller bag so you can get comfortable before take-off.
      15. Be careful with headphones
      If you have a long layover, it’s tempting to watch a film on your laptop but you might end up missing important announcements. Try and leave your TV watching or music listening until you’re on your flight.

    6.  

      Where to be seen in 2017

      Here at Barrhead Travel, we like to stay ahead of the game; we’re always on the lookout for new experiences and inspiring destinations both near and far across the globe.  That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our top 12 Rising Star Destinations that you may not necessarily have even thought of visiting before.  Don’t follow the crowd, get in there first and be a trailblazer! Your holiday stories will most definitely stand out round the BBQ this summer…
      The Deep South of America

      The birthplace of Jazz music lies at the very heart of the Deep South of America. Back in the late 19th century, New Orleans was dancing to Voodoo rhythms, while Bluegrass, Rock and Roll and the Blues all have their roots here too. Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville, to name a few, are havens for music-lovers the world over. To experience the atmosphere during Mardi Grad in New Orleans should be on any music lover’s #BucketList.
      Andalucia

      With one of the best year-round climates in Europe, Andalucía is one for the #BucketList2017. It’s been rejuvenated thanks to recent investment, whilst still steeped in medieval history of the crusades. Film-buffs may also remember the recent feature of its capital city, Granada in the hit block buster movie, Assassin’s Creed. With its charming antiquity, romantic architecture and picturesque beaches, this alluring part of Spain is a holiday hotspot with a difference! Make a date with Andalucía in 2017.
       The Azores

      With seas teaming with dolphins, whales and manta rays, the Azores are a haven for any marine enthusiast. These tranquil, unspoilt Atlantic islands are dramatic and beautiful with their volcanic landscapes and a multitude of little surprises to explore. A micro world of water-sports and adventure awaits you in 2017.
      Bermuda

      In June 2017, Bermuda will play host to the 35th America’s Cup sailing tournament. Ben Ainslie, the world’s greatest sailor will be leading Britain’s toughest challenge for years. The eyes of the world will turn to this iconic destination where the best sailors on the fastest boats will battle for the oldest trophy in international sport.
      Chile

      With new direct flights from the UK, this breathtakingly beautiful landscape will be a lot more accessible in 2017. Housing 36 National Parks, Chile plays host to some of the most extreme, yet stunning environments on the planet. From subpolar islands to fjords and deserts, this savage beauty is an unsung natural wonder of the world.  This is one South American adventure not to be missed: do something different and make 2017 the year to explore this incredibly diverse land.
      County Kerry

      Looking for something a little closer to home? Come and feel the force in the beautiful Irish town of County Kerry, as the latest Star Wars movie features the stunning County’s Skellig islands. The raw beauty of this peaceful peninsular proves itself to be blockbuster-worthy in so many ways; come and explore Killarney National Park’s 10,000-hectares, including adventurous trails through enchanting forests and moorland, or visit striking natural landmarks like Torc Waterfall and Torc Mountain.
      Croatia

      From the mystifying tranquil waterfalls of their national parks to the multitude of dance festival extravaganzas, Croatia is a must-visit destination for 2017! Krka National Park is only a 40 minute drive from popular Split, where you can bathe in any one of the 9 waterfall pools and experience this idyllic location in all its glory.
      Perhaps you’re thinking of taking a long weekend to experience a new city? Then keep Croatia at the top of your list as Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Zadar are excellent city-break destinations to discover the wonders of this Eastern European destination.
      Denmark

      "Hygge" in Danish, pronounced "HUE-gah", is a wonderfully onomatopoetic word with many variations. But to us, it’s simply seen as the Nordic ritual of enjoying life, embracing nature, loving the people surrounding you and appreciating moments over possessions. Denmark is a great place to start if you’re looking to discover this way of life. Home to stylish cities with superior design, the world-renowned “New Nordic” cuisine and famously welcoming locals, Denmark is one such destination where you will experience your first feeling of 'hygge' the minute you step off the plane.
      Kerala – Southern India

      2017 sees India celebrate its 70th year of independence. This is guaranteed to be a momentous celebration throughout the country, with a kaleidoscope of colours, sights and sounds adorning the streets from east to west and north to south. To experience the best of the festivities as well as enjoying some relaxing time on the beach, we recommend heading to Kerala. Whether you fancy stretching out on its serene beaches, explore its famous intricate backwaters or reaching out to spend some time with the locals, set your sights on India's beautiful Southern coastal state of Kerala this year and experience India like never before.
      Sardinia

      Throughout the ancient island of Sardinia, the story of the indigenous 'Nuragic' civilisation and their fabled, 'Nuraghi Towers' is full of mystery and local tales and legends that prompts many unanswered questions. Steeped in history, this hidden gem is a playground for any lover of mythology and mystery.
      This large Italian island in the Mediterranean also boasts around 2,000km of stunning coastline and is scattered with coves perfect for snorkelling. Alternatively, if relaxing and soaking up some sun on some of Europe’s whitest beaches is more your style, add Sardinia to your #ChillOutCheckList in 2017.
      South Africa

      The country that has everything – including great value for money! The pound sterling is strong against the South Africa rand; these easy-on-the-wallet prices mean that it’s more affordable than ever to visit. Explore this incredibly diverse landscape where you can be spotting the Big 5 on safari one day then pounding the surf the next. South Africa's 3,000km of coastline has 270 degree exposure to the swells that may be on offer and even offers gorgeous beach retreats thanks to the east coast’s Indian Ocean positioning. If you crave adventure and are looking for something out-with Europe this year, then consider South Africa for a holiday that you’ll never forget.
      Vietnam

      The contrast between the cosmopolitan cities and the ancient wonders of Vietnam make for an abundance of choice. This versatile country offers so much for the discerning traveller; from beaches where you can lose yourself in miles of sugar soft sands to sublime mountains rising into the sky dwarfing the attempts of any manmade feat of engineering.

    7.  

      8 passport tips for a smoother holiday

      A passport is an essential part of any foreign holiday. But every year many travellers (including experienced holidaymakers) face holiday difficulty because they didn’t renew theirs on time, didn’t keep it in a safe place or ran out of pages due to extensive travelling. At best this can result in having to fork out for a new passport, but at worst it can result in being refused entry to the departure lounge.
      We want to make sure all of our customers have a relaxing holiday, so we’ve rounded up 8 pieces of advice for making sure your holiday tales don’t involve any passport troubles.
      1. Buy the right size of passport
      In the UK you can buy either a standard 32-page passport or a jumbo 48-page passport. If you know you’ll be travelling extensively in the next 10 years purchasing the larger size might save you a lot of money.
      2. Check your passport’s validity before you travel
      When you book your holiday ensure that your passport will still be valid when you jet off.  Many destinations stipulate that passports should have six months left on them at the time of travel.
      3. Organise your visa early
      Different countries have their own visa application system, but some require travellers to send their passports to the local embassy for stamping prior to travel. Make sure you don’t leave this too late. When you book your holiday with Barrhead Travel, we’ll let you know which destinations require a visa and can even help you with your visa waivers (ESTAS) for the USA and Australia.
      4. Photocopy your passport
      If you lose your passport abroad, a photocopy will help speed up the process of organising an Emergency Travel Document. There’s also some travellers who swear by their photocopied passport as informal ID while travelling.
      5. Don’t forget travel insurance
      Losing your passport is one of the many emergencies where you’ll thank yourself for organising travel insurance. However, many travel insurance companies do expect their customers to treat their passport as a valuable item – you might have difficulty claiming if you left it on the dashboard of your hire car, for example.
      6. Use colour coded stickers
      If you’re in charge of your children’s passports use this handy trick to save time. Buy a small packet of coloured stickers, scribble an initial on each one and stick to that person’s passport. Now there’s no need to open up every passport at the security gate.
      7. Wear a money belt under your clothes
      Your back-pocket is not a place to keep your passport as, while it’s not something we like to talk about, pickpocketing does happen. Wear a money belt under your shirt so your passport (and other key belongings) are out of touch.
      8. Constantly check your passport
      There’s debate about whether you should leave your passport in your room or keep it on your body. But whatever choice you make – ensure you check it regularly. When you return from a day’s adventure make sure your passport is still there (either in the room or in your money belt) and if you’re carrying it on you, just place your hand over your pocket every so often.

    8.  

      Christmas Gift Ideas For Travellers

      ‘Experiences over things’ has long become the mantra of avid travelers. As business and personal travel increases in popularity, the world is getting smaller and people are turning their backs on consumerism.
      As a result, it can become challenging to choose Christmas Gifts. What do you buy somebody who frequently has to fit their possessions into a backpack or a suitcase or doesn’t want or need a generic gift?
      Fortunately, help is at hand. Our comprehensive gift guide will ensure your fellow wanderer has a Christmas to remember.
      1. A camera lens for their phone
      If the person you’re buying for is an avid Instagrammer, you could leave a few clip-on camera lenses under their tree to help their phone snaps pop a bit.
      2. Instant camera
      If your friend is a lover of all things kitschy and retro, it’s likely they have an instant camera on their Santa list.
      3. Portable keyboard for their tablet
      Some people just can’t travel without their laptop – but an actual laptop can be a bit much to pack into hand luggage. If they already have a tablet buy them something to make it a little more functional.
      4. A GoPro
      If your camera-obsessed friend already has an instant camera and a camera lens for their phone, why not gift them with a GoPro? If they prefer adventure holidays then this is a great little gadget to take with them to record the action.
      5. GPS Watch
      If your friend likes to regularly head off the beaten path, invest in a GPS watch. The “more expensive, the better” generally applies in this category so choose wisely.
      6. Noise cancelling headphones
      If your friend is constantly complaining about the noise on long-haul flights, consider buying them a pair of high-end noise cancelling headphones.
      7. Stylish packing organisers
      Packing organisers are one of these boring but essential things that every keen jet-setters require. If your favourite travel-buddy still hasn’t invested, buy them some for Crimbo - and remember to pick them in a colour or pattern they’ll like.
      8. Quirky Passport Covers & Suitcase Tags
      If you’re looking for a gift that won’t break the bank, passport-covers and matching suitcase tags are a fantastic idea! Not only are they fabulous stocking fillers, but they protect essential documents from the inevitable wear and tear of frequent airport trips & rucksack spillages!
      9. Solid Perfume or aftershave
      Ladies and gents fragrances are classic Christmas gifts, but travellers will struggle to make space for bulky bottles in a rucksack or suitcase. Plus, there’s always the risk that they smash! To combat this, buy solid perfume & aftershave bars and keep your nearest and dearest smelling wonderful on their travels.
      10. Christmas Gift Vouchers
      They say travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. Treat your loved ones this Christmas with Barrhead Travel gift vouchers. It’s never been easier to help someone realise their travel ambition, especially with these great value vouchers. Buy £20 worth of vouchers, and get an extra £5 free or get £100 worth of vouchers for just £80!

    9.  

      Why you should book your holiday with a travel agent

      When you book your holidays, do you arrange it all yourself or do you ask a travel agent to organise everything for you? If it’s the latter you’ll know the benefits of booking through an agent – such as financial protection and sourcing great deals. However, if you prefer to research your own holiday, here are some of our top reasons why you should consider booking through a travel agent.
      1. Someone does the hard work for you
      If you’re travelling in a group or coordinating flights that require stop-overs, it’s nice to have someone do the (complicated) leg work. A travel agent will take charge of organising these intricate details so you (and your family) just have to turn up on the day.
      2. They can search from a range of travel providers
      Save yourself the trouble of opening multiple tabs on your browser, or phoning around a dozen airlines and hotels. Travel agents have their own booking systems that allow them to quickly search through all the different airlines, hotels and excursions.
      3. You can get the same deal as you seen online
      And even better, some travel agents have exclusive deals with suppliers that can’t be found online (or elsewhere). Even if you’ve found a super-cheap deal online, pop into a travel agent and see if they can price match (or better).
      4. Your holiday is financially protected
      If you book through an ABTA travel agent, you can be safe in the knowledge that your well-earned holiday is financially safe. While travel insurance covers belongings, cancellations, and medical assistance, it doesn’t cover situations where the hotel or airline goes out of business. If you a book a package holiday through an ABTA agent, this will be covered.
      5. They can help narrow down your choices
      If you literally have no idea where you want to travel, a travel agent can help. They have rich information at their fingertips and are passionate about travelling themselves. Next time you feel the travel bug but aren’t sure where to pick, pop into your nearest travel agent and set them a challenge.
      6. Travel agents are specialists
      There are lots of everyday situations where you would call in a specialist instead of trying to do something yourself. Travel agents love to travel in their time off (plus travel is part of their job), and many specialise in a certain kind of travel. If you make your way to a large flagship store you’ll find dedicated sections advising on different types of holidays – our Oswald Street flagship store is home to individual long-haul, package, cruise, flights, Canada and Sandals hubs.
      7. They take care of everything (including you)
      You can rest your mind knowing everything that needs to be booked, has been booked. Flights, hotels, care hire, airport transfers, drinks packages, park tickets and excursions can all be booked in the one go. You can even exchange your money before you leave the shop.

    10.  

      Tips for swimming safely with your children on holiday

      One of the best things about a family holiday is splashing about in the pool. All parents love to see their children happily swimming and becoming acquainted with the warm blue sea for the first time. While it’s rare for anything to go wrong, swimming pools and beaches are not without their hazards. That’s why ABTA have launched a Swim Safe 2016 campaign to make sure families have nothing but poolside fun while on holiday. Follow these tips for swimming safely to ensure you have an accident-free family holiday.
      1. Organise swimming lessons before you go
      Children can be booked into swimming lessons before they hit primary school. But even if your kid does get structured swimming lessons, take them to the local pool so they can have extra practice and get familiar with pools of different sizes. If the resort you’re heading to is home to a water park, the local leisure centre can be a great way to introduce them to flume rides.
      However, swimming lessons are not just for children. If you’re feeling as though your own swimming skills need topped up, look to see if there’s any adult swimming lessons in your area.
      2. Know your (and your childrens) ability
      Even the strongest swimmer can be caught out at sea if they’re used to swimming in a pool. Let your children paddle at the beach before deciding if they can go further in. Be careful jumping off a boat at sea if you’re only used to swimming in a pool. If wanting to try watersports start off with something simple, such as a pedalo and banana boat before trying jet skis.
      3. Get familiar with your holiday pool
      Before jumping in with excitement, remember to explore the pool area first. Get familiar with the shallow and deep end (and exactly how deep it is) and acknowledge any pool rules.
      The same applies to the beach. Check to see where the lifeguard is and look around for any flags that you need to stay between. Spot where the rocks are and research beforehand when the tide comes in.
      4. Be careful with pool toys
      Everyone loves an inflatable toy for the pool. However too many can obstruct views and make it difficult for parents and lifeguards to spot any potential emergencies. Take only one inflatable into the pool at a time and if buying for a child, purchase an inflatable that is specifically for kids and won’t block your view of them.
      Be very careful using inflatables at the beach. While rare, people have been blown out to sea while relaxing on a lilo.
      5. Look out for others
      Double up with a swimming buddy. Small kids should always be accompanied in the water and older kids should be told to stay in sight. Even teenagers and adults who are strong swimmers shouldn’t swim too far out to sea by themselves.
      6. Know the RLSS UK’s code
      Spot – spot the dangers
      Advice – follow safety signs and advice
      Friend – stay close to a friend or family member
      Emergency – shout for help and call 999 or 112

    11.  

      How to take perfect underwater holiday photos

      We all want memorable holiday photos to bring home with us – or even just some great snaps to share on Facebook. But if the idea of taking your camera anywhere near water leaves you clutching it for dear life – you’re not alone. However, some of the best potential holiday snaps happen underwater and make for a great addition to the family photo album.
      Whether it’s taking great photos of your kids at the pool or in a waterpark, or capturing some stunning coral reefs, we’ve rounded up nine simple tips to make sure you feel more confident taking underwater holiday photos.
      1. Purchase the best waterproof camera or protective case for your needs
      There’s a wide range of underwater cameras out there to suit any budget and requirements. For an action holiday purchase a durable point-and-shoot, or for a family holiday look into a disposable underwater camera.
      If however you’re looking to capture beautiful underwater shots with your DLSR, there’s the option of protective casing. There’s even watertight protective casing for your phone if it’s exciting underwater Instagrams or Snapchats you’re after.
      2. Buy a lifejacket for your camera
      If you’re in deep water you’ll want to concentrate on taking a great photo – not worrying about accidently letting go. Buy a mini-life jacket for your camera so your camera doesn’t risk becoming part of the ocean seabed.
      3. Play with your cameras settings (before you go on holiday)
      Most cameras these days come with an impressive array of settings. Get to know what all the buttons achieve before you dive in and, if you can, practice in a small pool or home-town beach before you jet off.
      4. Take photos in natural daylight
      Good lighting is essential to a great photo (it’s arguably more important than the quality of the camera). The best lighting is found during the middle of the day and near the surface of the water. Your flash won’t extend as far underwater as it does on land but if you are planning to dive in darker waters consider investing in an underwater lighting strobe or external flash.
      5. Take as many photos as you can
      You can’t always tell if a photo has turned out well from glancing at the preview screen. Get snap happy and when you arrive home you’ll have dozens of photos to choose the best from.
      6. Get as close as you can
      This might depend on what you’re photographing. If you’re shark diving, we recommend staying inside the cage. However, if you’re splashing about the pool with your kids the closer you are to their fun, the sharper and more colourful your pictures will be.
      7. Choose the pool over the sea
      If it’s memorable underwater shots of your family you’re after, consider staying in the hotel pool. The water here is clearer and lighter than the sea.      
      8. Look after your camera afterwards
      After you’re back in your hotel room wash your camera or protective casing with fresh water from the tap. Gently dry the camera or casing and only then open or unlock any compartments. You don’t want saltwater or chemical-treated water slipping inside your camera.
      9. Edit your photos slightly afterwards
      Adjust the brightness and colours of your photos after your holiday. No one ever needs to know.

    12.  

      How to navigate the subway in 7 major world cities

      Many of the world's largest cities are (literally) built on their subway system and it would be hard to imagine life without them. For locals and visitors alike, the subway is the go-to mode of transport when they want to navigate the subway to get from one side of the city to another.
      For tourists especially, the subway is a great way to travel. It keeps the overall cost of the holiday low, visitors can plan out their journey in advance and in some cities you'll find a station on every second street. No matter how lost you feel in the metropolitan wilderness of New York or Paris, you'll never be far from a subway station and will find your way home (or back to your hotel). Here's our guide on navigating the subway system in seven major world cities with confidence.
      Riding the New York Subway

      The New York City subway packs 450 stations into 240 square miles. If you're looking to get anywhere in NYC, all 10 subway services run through the lower half of Manhattan before heading out to the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx (Staten Island also has its own subway route that starts at the ferry terminal). Stations can be named after the streets they are on or a nearby attraction, and all lines have a colour and a number/letter. If you've already planned your itinerary and know you'll be using the subway a lot, purchase yourself an Unlimited Ride MetroCard for 7 or 30 days from one of the stations (you can't buy this online in advance). The NYC Subway is a 24-hour service (the buses in the city are as well) though not every station is open all night.
      Exploring Paris on the Metro

      Paris has one of the most extensive subway systems in the world, with a station near every major attraction. Even handier the stations are named after their nearest landmark, as opposed to the name of the street. The system is split into 5 zones with the city itself covered by Zone 1 and the suburbs shared between the other four (where it's more common to see the overland RER train lines). Travelling beyond Zone 1 costs extra money and tourists should purchase a tourist ticket that allows them to cover all the zones if they know they'll be visiting attractions outside of Paris itself (such as Disneyland Paris, Versailles and the Charles de Gaulle airport). Tourist tickets also allow travel on the trams and RER train lines. The Metro itself opens at 5:30am and runs until midnight during the week and 2am at the weekend (however the RER train lines don't run as late).
      Finding your way on the Mexico City Metro

      When you look at a map of the Mexico City subway routes, it immediately looks less complicated than most other systems. There's just 11 lines but they cover all the major tourist spots, all stations are named after the area and each stop is associated with a unique icon making it easy to spot from a distance. The lines open at 5am during the week, while on a Saturday they open at 6am and Sunday they open at 7am, and are open until midnight every night. Mexico also has one of the cheapest subway systems in the world, where each ticket will only cost 5 pesos and allows passengers to transfer between the lines. You can also purchase a rechargeable fare card for 10 pesos.
      How the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway works

      The fast-paced city of Tokyo has two systems below its pavements: Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. The two of them work together to make things simpler, though tourists should remember to buy a ticket that works on both systems such as the pre-paid Pasmo or Suica cards. The stations in Tokyo (on both systems) are represented by a number rather than a name, while all the lines have a designated colour and letter (in stations you'll see coloured circles like the ones in the photo above that signify what routes are available at which gate). English is used on signs and in most tannoy announcements, free Wi-Fi is available in the majority of stations, and the official phone app can be downloaded in English.
      Boarding the Beijing Subway system

      The metro stations in Beijing are marked by a blue circular symbol. There are seventeen subway lines running through the city that are numbered, while the stations themselves are known by their names. Tickets are 2 Yuan and these tickets allow passengers to transfer between routes (aside from the Airport Express Line that costs 25 Yuan). Child tickets in Beijing are determined by the child's height – any children under 1.3 metres (4.2 feet) are not allowed to travel alone, but can travel for free with an adult (though if an adult travels with two children under this height, only one travels for free).
      Lines popular with tourists are Line 8 that passes the Olympic Park used in the 2008 Olympic Games, Line 2 that travels into the remnants of old Beijing, and Line 1 that stops by many of the main attractions in Central Beijing. Most of the lines operate between 5am and 11pm.
      How to use the Shanghai Metro

      Below the streets of China's most populous city, lies 14 subway lines. There's 364 stations across Shanghai all marked out by a red M symbol. Public Transportation Cards are the best kind of ticket to get if you'll be using the subway frequently and will be in Shanghai for a while (it's similar to the MetroCard in NYC). Visitors can also purchase a one-day or three-day ticket for unlimited travel if they're only going to be in the city for a few days. If you only need a single ticket, these will be 3-14 Yuan depending on the distance travelled. Shanghai also operates the same child ticket policy as Beijing where children under 1.3 metres ride for free with an adult, but cannot travel alone (and adults can only get one child on for free).
      Understanding the Hong Kong MTR

      The Hong Kong MTR is a well-maintained and comfortable network of air-conditioned trains. Many of the stations also have mini-banks and kiosks, and some exits are inside shopping centres. The MTR system consists of 12 light rail lines and 10 rapid transit lines that together connects up Hong Kong. Many of the routes have been designed with locals in mind so tourists only need to familiarise themselves with a few such as The Airport Express Line, the Island Line if they want to head to the stylish shopping districts or the Tsuen Wan Line if they want to experience the Temple Street Night Market. The opening and closing hours vary between the stations.
      The Hong Kong MTR offers four different tourist tickets: Airport Express, Cross-Boundary Travel Pass (allowing unlimited travel), Adult Tourist Day Pass and Child Tourist Day Pass. These have to be bought while in Hong Kong while travellers have been there for less than 14 days.
      Navigating the London Underground

      You've maybe already had to navigate the London Underground, but if you haven't you'll probably know someone who has. The Tube is split into nine travel zones, with Zone 1 covering central London and the other eight covering Greater London. Most lines runs between 5am and midnight, however the Jubilee, Victoria, Northern and Piccadilly Lines are all 24-hour and the tickets are the standard off-peak price.
      Transport for London provides free tube maps that can be viewed online or picked up at the major stations, Tourist Information Centres or all Heathrow Airport Terminals. The most popular – and cost effective way – to pay is using the Oyster Card (which you can order online and have posted to you before your trip). Holidaymakers can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card at various prices depending on how much credit they want (plus a £3 activation fee).

    13.  

      Money Abroad: Your guide to tipping in 20 countries

      You've just finished a delicious meal in a restaurant on holiday and are now ready to pay your bill. You take out the notes you were given when you exchanged your money, and are slowly counting up the amount on the bill making sure you've used the correct coins. Then the thought pops into your head: should I tip?
      Tipping etiquette varies depending on where you are. In some countries – such as the USA and Canada – tipping your server is seen as mandatory. In some countries – such as those in Europe – a few coins left on the table is polite and appreciative of service staff, but in some countries it's considered rude to leave a tip.
      If you're heading abroad soon and don't want to offend any waiting staff, today's blog post explains the tipping etiquette for twenty of our popular holiday destinations.
      Australia
      Down under is a region where there aren't any stringent tipping rules and locals aren't known to tip. In Australia , tipping is seen as something that rewards exceptional service – so don't feel you have to leave money if you've had average service.
      Bulgaria
      As Bulgaria becomes a more popular holiday destination, it is developing a tipping style similar to that of Western Europe. It's not an obligation but it is considered polite to tip 10 percent to spa therapists, tour guides and taxi drivers. However in a hotel it is expected you will tip low-earning members of staff such as housekeepers and porters.
      Canada
      Canada's tipping etiquette doesn't differ much from the United States. At restaurants a 15 to 20 percent tip is expected and you should leave something daily for room service, but only about $5. Porters usually get $1 per bag. Taxi drivers are usually tipped 10 to 15 percent.
      Caribbean
      Because a lot of Caribbean resorts are all inclusive, the service charge will be included. If you're paying for something which isn't included it's polite to leave a small tip, or if a member of staff has gone above and beyond for you.
      Croatia
      If you're out for a quick coffee or a drink, it's acceptable to just leave the change. The same procedure applies for taxi drivers. However, if you're having a nice dinner at an upmarket restaurant leave a tip which is 10 to 15 percent of the bill.
      Cyprus
      Due to Cyprus popularity as a holiday destination, service staff have become accommodated to receiving tips from holidaymakers. A reasonable tip is considered 10 percent but check if it's already on the bill. However, even if the bill includes a service charge it is appreciated if a few euros are left behind.
      Dubai
      In Dubai , the government insists that hotels and restaurants must include a service charge in the official bill, and you're free to add something extra. Parking valets and porters should be tipped about ten dirhams but cab drivers won't expect anything (though it's nice to round-up).
      Greece
      Greece generally has the same tipping rules as other European destinations, which is usually 10 percent of the bill. In Greece, however, it is also customary to tip on yacht tours.
      India
      Some of India's upmarket restaurants will include a service charge in the bill, but if it's not included then it's customary to tip 10 percent. At the hotel, it's common to tip the porter 50 rupees and housekeepers a bit more. If you hire a private car, you should tip your driver 400 to 500 rupees a day, however, taxi and rickshaw drivers won't anticipate a tip.
      Italy
      Tipping isn't commonplace in Italy, with gondoliers sometimes refusing tips. In a restaurant leave as close to 10 per cent as you can but nothing more.
      Japan
      Japan is largely a non-tipping society and it can be considered extremely rude. However, if you choose to stay at a Japanese inn – also known as a ryokan – you provide the room keeper with 5,000 yen for one night stay in an envelope.
      Malta
      Similar to other Mediterranean countries, a tip of 10 percent is appreciated but not mandatory. Sometimes it will already be included in the bill.
      Mexico
      Cash is preferred in all tipping situations, including restaurants where it is 10 – 15 per cent of the bill. At a Mexican hotel, it is 10 pesos per bag for the porter and 20 pesos per night for housekeeping. In Mexico, it's also customary to tip gas station attendants about 5 pesos per fill-up.
      New Zealand
      Tipping is generally not commonplace among locals in New Zealand , though tourists are known to tip. If the service has been exceptional it's nice to leave 10 percent but the waiter won't be offended if you're not able to leave a few extra cents on the table.
      Portugal
      Portugal has a similar tipping etiquette to its Spanish neighbour: it's polite but not essential. It's usually reserved for situations where service has been exceptional.
      Qatar
      A service charge is usually included in the bill however in Qatar it's not usually divided up between service staff. So if you want to ensure your server receives something on top of their wages leave something extra in cash. A tip of 5 -10 Riyals is usually appreciated by taxi drivers.
      Spain
      Spain is another country where tipping isn't considered a necessity. If the service has been of high quality, leave a 10 percent tip in cash.
      Sri Lanka
      Sri Lanka is a country where tips are earned by service staff, not expected. If you decide to tip, do it in cash because this is a country where a credit card payment might end up in the pockets of the proprietors.
      Thailand
      In Thailand it is customary to tip $1 in most circumstances. At restaurants it's $1 per diner, and to porters is $1 for each bag (though you're not expected to tip the housekeepers). If you're getting a taxi it's also $1 however if you're in a private cab it will be $2 and $10 for tour guides.
      Turkey
      If you visit a Turkish bath it is customary to tip roughly $10 and if you're out on a boat it is customary to tip 5 percent to the crew. In restaurants, it is at your own discretion how large a tip the service staff should receive.

    14.  

      2016 swimwear trends for a stylish poolside outfit

      Every fashionista agrees that a beach holiday is the perfect excuse to buy a new bikini (or five). Whether their poolside plans involve lying back and topping up their tan or splashing about with the kids, looking stylish by the pool is still a must for every fashion lover. During Fashion Week season last year some designers debuted their latest swimwear range, and now we're beginning to see these 2016 swimwear trends come to life in the shops. Expect a lot of monochrome, retro high-waists and stylish options for the sporty girls!
      Classy in monochrome
      If you're jetting off somewhere sophisticated for your summer holidays, remember to pick up a simple, clean and monochrome one-piece that is very much in this summer. This summer's dark one-pieces come in a variety of cuts and styles to suit different body shapes such as lace-up sides, halter necks and plunging necklines.
      Feminine with frills and ruffles
      Bikinis with frill details are popular this summer, perfect for a beach party. Ruffled details are also great at creating the illusion of slightly curvier figure.
      Cover up in high-waists and high-necks
      If you prefer a bikini to a one-piece but still want to cover-up, pick out one of this seasons high-waisted or high-necked two-pieces. Different cuts and sizes exist for different body shapes, from just below the belly button to almost meeting the bikini-top. Feminine, retro and fashionable.
      Show off some skin with cut-outs and lace ups
      A lot of one and two pieces this summer have eye-catching cut-outs. Some of these cut-outs are simply blocks, while others have lattice or lace designs to add some extra details. Whatever kind of detailing you go for, wearing swimwear with cut-out details will guaranteed that you're one of the most stylish people by the pool.
      Be stylish while sporty
      If sunbathing or cocktail-sipping isn't in your poolside plans, but volleyball and windsurfing on the beach are, style isn't something you'll have to sacrifice. Sporty swimsuits with tropical prints, mesh detailing and zips are popular this summer whereas bikinis with sleeves and high necks also make for a stylish but practical alternative.
      Any accessories?
      Shoe-wise anything with straps and buckles will bring the finishing touches to your outfit as lace-up and gladiator sandals are two key trends in shoe-wear this summer. Tassels, fringes and poms-poms are also making an appearance, while leather and suede are two key fabrics for 2016. To protect your eyes from the sun in the most stylish way possible treat yourself to some coloured lenses or cat-eye frames.
      Hat trends haven't altered much since 2015 so you can save some pennies by digging out your poolside hat from last year (or you can buy another one, just to make sure it matches your new monochrome one-piece and lace-up sandals). For covering up at the beach the old favourites (such as sheer dresses) are available widely this summer, though bandeau tops are set to be huge and are perfect for wearing as a cover-up between the pool and your room (or bar, or restaurant, or the shops).

    15.  

      Parlez-vous English? Learning a new language for your next trip

      If English is your mother tongue, you're less likely to have encountered that holiday dilemma called the language barrier. English is widely spoken across the world and many organisations use English as one of their official languages. So you're usually sorted.
      Saying that, learning the language of your next destination will still come in handy. Firstly, it can open up doors with locals and can help you get recommendations that might not be served to tourists who only speak English. Secondly, it can help when you jet off to a far flung destination where English is not as widely spoken. These countries are bucket-list beautiful but some locals will only speak their own tongue. If you're planning to head off somewhere soon where English isn't the official language these tips will help you brush up on your language skills.
      1. Use a mixture of resources
      When learning a new language, some learners prefer online tutorials, some prefer podcasts, some like phrase books, and some might only be able to learn in a classroom set-up. Explore the different resources available (both online and offline) as a mixture of learning techniques usually gathers the best results.
      2. Then identify what works for you
      We all learn differently and learning a new language is no exception. So while you're exploring the different learning techniques above, keep checking in with yourself to see what's working.
      3. Identify phrases you'll need
      While basic greetings and numbers will be essential for most holiday types, what other phrases you'll need will depend on your plans. If you've already booked the hotel then you'll not need to worry about learning how to say “twin room” in French. If you plan to eat out a lot you'll need to brush up on your food, and numbers for paying the bill. If you're planning to backpack, you'll probably need to know a lot more about transport and getting around.
      4. Actually get speaking it
      While most language courses will focus on reading, writing, listen and speaking – when you're heading to a foreign shore it's the last two that you're more likely need practice in. You'll need to know how to read lunch menus and road signs, but it's conversing with locals that will come in handier. Concentrate on speaking it: pop on your favourite film and change the language settings, buy yourself an international radio and open your ears, or if you know someone who can speak the language grab them for a coffee where you agree not to speak English.
      5. Have a second language ready to go
      While this probably isn't helpful advice if you're heading off in a few weeks, it's always helpful if keen travellers have a second language already in their arsenal. Even just one extra language can help while globe trotting due to similarities between some historically-connected languages: if you know German you can likely navigate Dutch, if you know Spanish you can probably pick up Italian.
      What are your tips for learning a new language? 

    16.  

      Do's and Don'ts for visiting a water park with kids

      If you're planning to visit a sun-drenched destination with your little ones, chances are you'll be looking to spend some time cooling off in water. That water may be found on a sandy beach, a pool within the hotel or at one of the water parks regularly found at resorts favoured by those seeking sun. Visiting a water park with your mini-humans can be fun and transport you back to your own childhood, but it can also be a bit stressful as you prepare for possible tantrums and sunburn. To limit the stress here's our top do's and don'ts for visiting a water park with your kids, whether it's in Tenerife or Costa Dorado.
      Do...remember plenty of sun cream
      If you're in a sunny destination, sun cream is always essential. As a precaution, it should always be re-applied throughout the day even more so if hitting the beach or a water park. Keep an eye out for any signs of sunburn and reapply to your kids regularly.
      Do...consider the swimming ability of your children
      Just like any other type of park, water parks come with height and age restrictions. In place for safety, these heights and ages are designed to match up with average swimming ability. In the real world, however, your kids' swimming ability may be different from what the water park had in mind when they said 'ages 7 and up'. Have a proper look at the slides on offer before you go and be prepared that there are some slides your kids can't yet go on.
      Do...consider visiting a smaller water park
      Okay, your kids will probably have strong opinions on which water park they'd like to visit but remember that lesser-known water parks can provide just as much fun for a smaller ticket price. Most sunshine destinations will have a well-known water park with a price tag plus a few smaller ones dotted around.
      Don't...dress as if you're going to the beach
      The bathing suit your kids wear to paddle in the back garden and the one they wear to run up and down water slides might need to be two different items. While we're not suggesting you buy a wet suit for your kids purchase something that covers them from the sun, nothing that could come undone easily or anything with frills that could snag. Also pack a waterproof belt bag as opposed to a beach bag, and include a t-shirt to throw over your kids.
      Don't...assume all water parks are aimed at children
      While most water parks were designed with the family holiday in mind, some will have more child-friendly attractions than others. Research beforehand the child-friendliness of the rides and whether the resort is aimed at families, or groups of young friends on holiday.
      Don't...forget to pack your rucksack
      While you can rent goggles and towels, and buy your lunch, these items don't come cheap when bought on site. Most water parks will allow you to bring your own towels and other swimwear, plus a few snacks allowing you to save some pennies.

    17.  

      Explore a city in 3 days: how to make the most of a city break

      When a long weekend welcomes itself into our schedule many of us decide it's time to book a short city break to mainland Europe. Being just an hour away by plane, mainland Europe offers plenty of holiday options without the jetlag making it easy to nip across for a few days.
      A problem that can arise with city breaks however is choosing what to do in a bustling city and fitting it all into three days. Europe's cities aren't short of things to do (our recent blog post on what to do in Paris clocked in at 37 suggestions) and an extra bit of planning goes a long way in ensuring your time is used wisely. Below we've rounded-up ten pieces of advice to help you make the most of your next city break.
      1. Prioritise what's important
      Is it trying all the local food? Visiting every museum? Maybe it's walking around and seeing all the sights you've only ever seen photos of. Whether the Ann Frank Museum in Amsterdam is on your bucket list or you've always dreamed of exploring the Colosseum in Rome, make it a priority to stop by your must-sees then fill in the blanks.
      2. Buy tickets in advance
      Once you've decided which attractions are priorities, make sure you book tickets in advance. Not only does it guarantee entry, but many advanced tickets also have queue-jumping benefits.
      3. Book a hotel near the attractions you want to visit
      When you begin researching places to stay, sense check all options against a map with your must-see attractions circled. It's a common myth that hotels right beside top attractions are always pricier – if you research well enough you can find yourself a bargain. If you really can't find a good deal within close proximity then the next piece of advice is for you.
      4. Research the public transport system beforehand
      Some major European cities have modern and world-renowned public transport systems. If you choose to stay out-with the main area – or the attractions you want to see are spread out – look up beforehand how the trains, buses and trams work – and see if you can purchase any advanced travel cards.
      5. Get up and explore when it feels natural to you
      Many travel guides would advise waking up early and using the whole day, however this is probably only appealing if you're a type A morning person. Perhaps you're a night owl (who's itinerary is more restaurants and pubs rather than museums and walks in the park), or even an afternoon-person who would rather get up late and pack as much into six hours as possible. There's no set rules, you'll enjoy you trip more if you listen to your own body clock.
      6. Choose your travel partner wisely
      Some holidaymakers use a holiday to relax and take it slow, while others prefer to get up and explore absolutely everything. There's no right or wrong approach but choosing a travel buddy who owns a similar level of holiday energy will make things easier. Alternatively, you can try the next piece of advice.
      7. Consider solo travel, or split up and do your own thing
      While solo travel can feel a bit daunting, it's main benefit is that you can do exactly what you want without negotiation and don't need to wait on anyone. If you are travelling with someone and you have conflicting to-do lists, split up for the afternoon so neither of you miss out on something you really want to see.
      8. Exchange your money in advance
      Make sure you visit a money exchange service to get your currency in advance. You'll save time when you arrive at your destination, and you'll dodge any exchange charges.
      9. Research when the quieter time to go is
      Not only can it be cheaper to travel during the quieter times but queues will be smaller and attractions less crowded. If you aren't travelling with kids, book a holiday during the term time or take a few days off work rather than waiting for a long weekend.
      10. Pack lightly but wisely
      When you're only on holiday for a few days, standing in the airport waiting on the luggage carousel is time that can be spent walking around a new city. Ditch the hold luggage and invest in a sturdy cabin bag and write a strict packing list. Look up the weather forecast and pack weather-appropriate clothes, narrow down your toiletries to the essentials (are you really going to need an eye serum?) and decide that your laptop can stay at home.

    18.  

      5 hand luggage essentials for long-haul flights

      Writing a packing list for your hand luggage essentials never feels straight-forward. On the one hand, you don't want to carry too much through the airport, but you also don't want to be caught out by not having something you need while eye-level with the clouds. If you're flying short-haul, the issue of hand luggage isn't that pressing, but if you're boarding a flight that flies over continents and oceans to somewhere like Australia or Japan, you're probably going to want some creature comforts.
      Below we've rounded-up five hand-luggage essentials for long-haul flights that will help you arrive at your destination rested and relaxed.
      A pre-loaded entertainment system
      Whether your entertainment of choice is games, TV, film, music or books come prepared with something to occupy yourself with. Bring a paperback to read or load up your e-book reader. If you have a tablet, download a few films or the next season of your current TV show. If music or gaming is your hobby of choice, make sure your devices are stocked up. Don't forget your power-pack either!
      24-hours worth of clothes
      While still rare, suitcases are more likely to go missing on a long-haul flight with a changeover. As a precaution, take 24-hours worth of clothes in your hand-luggage so you can get on with your holiday while the airport chases up your case. A change of underwear, bathing suit, sleepwear, and a day outfit should be enough to cover you.
      A small toiletries bag
      Tying into the point above, a small toiletries bag is something you'll be glad you packed in the event your case goes missing. However, many travellers still like to carry a few basic beauty products on board with them. For example cabin air can cause already dehydrated skin to feel extra-parched, so dry-skin sufferers sometimes pack a small tube of moisturiser. Other common hand-luggage beauty items include 100ml bottles of sun-screen, deodorant, toothpaste and hand-sanitiser.
      Warm socks
      On a long haul flight there's a chance you'll want to curl up and catch some sleep. Sleeping with shoes on is not the comfiest task and feet can get chilly on a flight. Pack some fuzzy socks to keep toes warm.
      Some snacks
      Feeling the pangs of hunger when 25,000 feet in the air is never a comfortable experience. While most long-haul flights come with a meal included, it might not be enough to comfort the hungriest of flyers. If you have a big appetite throw in a few bits of solid food, or buy something after the security gates (liquid-esque foods are treated the same way at security as shampoo – must be in the clear bag).

    19.  

      7 ways to eat for less on holiday

      You're planning your itinerary and budgeting for your newly-booked holiday. Museum entry fees? Set aside. Passes for that water park? Arrived safe and well. Shopped around for the best value currency exchange? Done. The amount of money you'll need to eat out each night for dinner? Actually, let's discuss this one for a second.
      Eating out and sampling the local cuisine is all part of the holiday experience. It is also an expensive part and can eat into the holiday budget. A holiday shouldn't be spent worrying about your bank balance, or eating ***** Noodles in your room every night. Below we've rounded-up five tips on eating for cheap when on holiday, without resorting to stealing extra from the buffet.
      All-inclusive, half-board or self-catering?
      Whether self-catering or all inclusive is cheaper depends on the individual. If you're a massive foodie and sampling foreign cuisine is your motivation for travelling, then pre-paying for dinner in the hotel could be a waste. If sampling local cuisine isn't high on your travel to-do list but getting a suntan by the pool is, then paying for all-inclusive so the waiter can bring you unlimited cocktails isn't a bad shout.
      Head to the local grocery store
      If trying the local cuisine is at the top of your to-do list on holiday, you can still get friendly with local food production at the nearby grocery store. Buy some non-familiar food packets and take them back to your hotel room for a munch in the evenings.
      Lunch menus are sometimes cheaper than dinner menus
      If you want to save a bit of money on eating out, have your largest meal during the day and have a smaller snack at night. Lunch menus are almost always cheaper than dinner menus wherever you are in the world.
      Research where to eat beforehand
      In the same way that you would plan what attractions to see on what day, save money by planning in advance where to eat on what day. Whether you intend to eat out every day, or just a few nights, research online before your trip to see where offers you the best price, menu selection and value for money.
      Learn the local tipping etiquette
      In some countries – the USA for example – tipping is considered essential and it is a social faux-pas not to. In Italy, by contrast, the service charge is included in the bill and it is not considered essential (although nice). It's also regarded as rude in some countries. Save a few pennies by not tipping more than you need to.
      Stop by street food carts and buffets
      If you're looking for authentic food from the locals, you can usually not do much better than a food cart. With less running costs than a traditional restaurant, a food cart is cheap even in major world cities. All you can eat buffets are a great option. Even in London and New York you can eat for cheap while the exploring the ethnic variations that can be extremely rewarding.
      Pack your own snacks
      Whatever your favourite convenience food is, pack some of it in your suitcase. Foods such as dried fruit or nuts keep well in a suitcase so are ready for you to munch on upon arrival, helping keep your hand out the mini-bar (though check the regulations for the country you're heading to first - some destinations don't allow food to be brought in).

    20.  

      Your passport to a smoother holiday experience

      What are the three most important things you need for a smoother holiday experience? That’s right – money, tickets, passport…but do you know where your passport is, and when it is due to expire?
      You can avoid potential disaster next time you head off on your holidays by checking now. It’s best to keep your passport in a safe place – in fact if you have a safe, why not keep it there? – so that you can find it easily. Get in to the habit of putting it back in the same place each time you travel and there’s a whole lot more chance that you will find it next time.
      Once you’ve located it, then check its validity – when is it due to expire? UK adult passports are valid for 10 years, but under 16s are only valid for 5. Some countries won’t allow you entry if you have less than 6 months left, even if you are due to return home before your passport expires, and many people have been refused boarding because their passport is damaged to such an extent that it looks like it may have been tampered with. If yours has had a hard life, then it may be best to bite the bullet and apply for a new one, even at a cost of £72.50.
      Passport offices, like the majority of businesses, have busy and quiet periods. While the standard service should generally take around 3 weeks if you are looking for a new or replacement passport, that can stretch to six weeks during the summer months, as demand increases in comparison to other times. They offer a Fastrack service which takes a week from your passport being accepted, for £103, but if you require a new passport urgently, for £128 there is a Premium service which sees you visiting one of the UK Passport Offices in person (they are based in London, Liverpool, Peterborough, Durham, Newport, Glasgow and Belfast). But bear in mind that, for lost or stolen passports and badly damaged ones, you cannot use Premium service.
      Forms are available at the Post Office and your application will be processed more quickly if it is filled in correctly and if your passport photos adhere to the strict criteria required.
      Once you have your passport, guard it carefully, as losing it costs both time and money. Taking a photocopy of it with you in a separate area of your luggage, and taking additional proof of identity such as a driving license, means that it’s easier to get emergency travel documents from the UK consulate or embassy, should the worst happen.
      Check your passport now, and look after it – that way, you’ll have a holiday to remember for all the right reasons.

    21.  

      Must have items in your holiday beach bag

      There are many important must have holiday items that you need to remember to take before going on holiday, especially when it comes to the all important beach bag. We here at Barrhead Travel have conducted a handy list of beach bag necessities, which we often neglect to take with us!
      The Bag
      Everything revolves around the bag. No matter where you go – whether it be Canada, Turkey or Thailand – picking the right kind of beach bag is important. You want one that can hold everything easily, look stylish, as well as withstand the water, sand and sun cream!

      Beach Hat
      Whether it be a Fedora, cap or straw hat -  it is always important to protect yourself from the rays of the sun. There are no excuses when it comes to the 'It will ruin my hair' and 'I don't suit hats' remarks - look effortlessly stylish with any one you decide to choose.

      Sunglasses
      Where would we be without our trusty pair of sunglasses! A staple in most handbags nowadays no matter where you go - maybe Paris at Christmas or the USA at Easter - make sure you pack a cheaper pair in your beach bag in case of any unfortunate accidents!

      Talcum Powder
      We love reading about other people's advice when it comes to being hassle free at the beach. Here is one of our favourites! Grab a bottle of talcum powder - no it is not just for babies - and apply it all over your sand covered body and as if by magic, watch the sand disappear! Don't say we aren't filled with good advice!
      Water Resistant Phone Pouch
      The most essential of all essential beach bag items  - after sun cream and flip flops of course - is your mobile phone! One of the hardest questions we ask ourselves when on holiday goes something like this, 'Should I take my phone with me to the beach, or should I not? This question is non-existent, with now knowing that it will be protected within a clear pouch where you can still text and snap away to your heart's content without even having to remove it from the sleeve! Genius!

      Reading Material
      This may be a little bit of a given in your beach bag, but packing a book or even a magazine let's you escape - at least for a short while - into another place where there is no noise or chaos.This a must pack item if you are just wanting to get away from it all and take yourself to another world - at least for a week or two!
      Beach Spiker
      Sand free drink anyone? There is always that level of doubt and uncertainty when you first take a sip of your drink and go back again for another mouthful an hour later. 'Did I just taste sand? Have I got sand in my drink?' This handy device is a MUST in your beach bag to avoid the nuisance of sand getting in just about anywhere you don't want it! Simply prop it up and place your drink inside for care free easy drinking! Enjoy!

      Leave-In Conditioner
      For any girls (or guys) that get dry hair when returning from a holiday, those days are behind you! Simply apply your leave-in conditioner at the same time that you apply your sun cream and get nice bronzed skin with silky smooth undamaged hair without barely having to lift a finger! 
      Waterproof Bag
      This is one of those items we always forget to pack but is certainly a beach must-have! Keep your wet clothes separate from your dry ones with a waterproof bag. Just fold it up and stuff it down the side of your beach bag for stress free fun days at the beach.

      Sun cream Lip Balm
      This is a great beach bag essential! We are often so preoccupied with covering up as much of our skin as possible with sun cream that we neglect our lips. They can get dry and chapped and become uncomfortable so carrying a little lip balm that moisturises and rehydrates your lips as well as protect them from the harsh sun rays is certainly a must have, male or female!
      Spray Applicator
      The dreaded question everyone gets asked by each family member on holiday, 'Can you do my back?' Yawn... Now you don't have to ask or do the dreaded task if you pack this handy device in your beach bag! Simply put as much sun lotion on the applicator as you need and rub all over your back, neck and shoulders to your hearts content! Applying sun cream will never seem as stressful again!

      Waterproof Speakers
      Music gets us into the holiday mood no matter where we are! With this handy device, there is no stress when you bring out your iPod on the beach to enjoy a few of your favourite tunes. Simply slide it into the protective shield and play away all day every day with no worry!

      Make sure you have the perfect stress free holiday with all of these handy beach bag essentials! So what are you waiting for? Book your amazing holiday adventure with us today!

    22.  

      Myths about Travel Insurance

      So you've booked that big holiday, and you're debating whether or not to pay for travel insurance. You may feel that you have spent enough on your dream getaway, and that the additional cost for travel insurance is just too much. You may feel like it's a waste of money, because nothing is going to happen to you on holiday, and if it does it will be a struggle to get any money from the insurance company anyway.
      WRONG!
      Let us try to clear up some of the commonly-held myths which surround travel insurance.

       
      Nothing will happen to me! 
      So you travel a lot? You've seen the world and nothing bad has ever happened to you, so why bother to buy travel insurance now? Unfortunately, weather, flight delays, illness or other major catastrophes can happen very quickly and easily change the best of travel plans. The only way to protect you from these circumstances is to invest in travel insurance. You can get protection from flight delays, medical car and many more...
      I have insurance at home. 
      Unless you specifically purchased an insurance policy that includes full coverage abroad, your domestic health insurance and credit card policies do not always cover the costs of trip cancellation, medical expenses and other scenarios. What happens if you are stuck in a foreign country because an ash cloud has cancelled all flights? If you don't have travel insurance, you will have to pay for additional hotel nights and maybe even new flights home.
       
      I would never get a pay out anyway.
      The right policy will not only cover catastrophic illness, injury, disasters and repatriation costs, but it’ll also help if you lose your camera or your expensive designer sunglasses fall off your head into the sea. However, make sure you understand how the excess works on your policy. 
      I am not doing anything dangerous on holiday! 
      Ok, so you're not planning on bungee jumping or shark diving, but emergency situations can happen to relatively 'boring' travellers too. What if your taxi breaks down on the way to the airport and you miss your flight? Getting travel insurance will help minimise the issues, should circumstances go bad. So don’t buy into the idea that, just because you're not going to jump out of any planes on your vacation, you won’t need travel insurance! 
       I can buy my flights and hotels now, then book travel insurance right before I leave! 
      So you want to treat your loved one to a trip to Paris for your 1st anniversary? You book a romantic hotel, where you can see the Eiffel Tower from your guest room window, and you think that you'll wait until nearer the time to book your insurance. This is not clever. In the week before you're meant to go, your partner is taken ill and can no longer travel. If you don't have insurance, you can wave au revoir to your romantic weekend - and your cash too...
      Barrhead Travel offers extremely competitive rates, and the cover is excellent too. You’ll be asked by our travel consultants as to whether you would like to buy insurance when you book your trip – please don’t put it off! We have annual insurance policies available too, for frequent travellers. Be sure to book your insurance in store at any of our branches, or give us a call on 0800 804 8666, as soon as you book your holiday – you’ll be covered straight away!

    23.  

      Do you need value travel insurance? Yes!

      You wouldn't go on holiday without your tickets or your passport, but many of us happily set off without travel insurance. In fact, the number of people travelling abroad uninsured is on the rise. 
      What happens if you fall ill when you are overseas and need medical treatment? Or maybe you have to cancel your holiday due to a family member being taken to hospital?  These are all factors which make purchasing adequate travel insurance one of the most important purchase's you make when travelling away from home. If you don't have travel insurance and one of the above scenarios happens, your dream holiday could turn into a nightmare.
      Once you have decided that you require travel insurance, you need to make sure that you purchase the best type of cover for your individual needs. You can get basic cover to shark cage diving in Cape Town! It is very easy to see what is covered and what is not.
      It is important to understand how the 'excess' works on your travel insurance policy, to make sure you don't get caught out. The excess is the amount that the policyholder pays towards the claim. For example, if you lose or damage your camera and you put in a claim for £500 and policy excess is £100, the insurer would pay out £400. Another thing to watch out on, is that there are a number of different policy covers. Some polices charge an excess per section, which could result in costs mounting up quickly as you would need to pay excess on the amount of items you lose. This is compared to just one excess per claim, which could work out much cheaper.
      Whatever type of travel insurance you need, Barrhead Travel offers extremely competitive rates, and the cover is excellent too. You’ll be asked by our travel consultants as to whether you would like to buy insurance when you book your trip – please don’t put it off! We have annual insurance policies available too, for frequent travellers. Be sure to book your insurance in store at any of our branches, or give us a call on 0800 804 8666, as soon as you book your holiday – you’ll be covered straight away! To purchase, you will be offered travel insurance when you book your Barrhead holiday.

    24.  

      Impressive places to snap the perfect selfie

      The 'selfie stick' has become somewhat of a staple in the suitcases of many a traveller these days. No matter where you choose to visit there is always plenty of opportunity to get that perfect selfie. On a holiday with Barrhead Travel, we have highlighted some of the best destinations to visit to get that all important picture that will impress your friends forever!
      Brooklyn Bridge, New York
      The most famous suspension bridge in the world! People flock from countries across the globe to get a selfie on this landmark. Why not walk over it at night, to capture the beauty and buzzing atmosphere of New York City from one of the most desired tourist spots in the city?
      Big Ben, London
      London's most famous tourist attraction which can be seen for miles and miles across the city. If you are strolling near Hyde Park or are enjoying the sun in Covent Garden, you can't miss this stunning monument.
      Trolltunga, Norway
      'Troll's Tongue' as it is otherwise known, is a piece of rock poking out of a mountain about 700 metres above the ground with a spectacular drop into the Ringedalsvatnet Lake below. If you're brave enough, why not take a 'jumping selfie' like most people who visit the rock do...Eeek!
      Colosseum, Rome
      Visit the world's most famous amphitheatre and marvel at the place where many a gladiator met their fate, whilst capturing its glory (and you) on your selfie. There's no better place in the whole of Italy to experience the true essence of this spectacular country than its stunning capital city.
      Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
      Croatia has reinvented itself as a must-visit destination in recent years - and it's no surprise, considering the beauty of some of its towns and countryside, including Dubrovnik and the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park.
      Great Wall of China, China
      Undoubtedly one of the most impressive landmarks ever built by man, a visit here on the Great Wall is one you will never forget. The spectacular views over China mean that we're sure you'll be one of many tourists taking a quick pic along this famous trail.
      Walt Disney World®, Florida
      Walt Disney World® isn't just for kids! Grab a quick selfie with Mickey and Minnie and you'll be the hot topic of the day with family and friends back home!
      Taj Mahal, India
      'The jewel of Muslim art in India,' the Taj Mahal is one of the world's most celebrated structures and symbolises this country's rich history. A picture with this stunning, architecturally brilliant structure in the background will be one to talk about years to come.
      Maligne Lake, Alberta, Canada
      There are so many beautiful parks, lakes and walks in Canada that you'll be spoilt for choice as to which one capture on camera! We suggest canoeing in the waters of Maligne Lake to take the selfie of all selfies, complete with the majestic backdrop of the mountains behind you.
      Eiffel Tower, Paris
      A trip to Paris usually means just one thing: a pic with the Eiffel Tower. Whether it be from the bottom or the top, this is one landmark that will never go out of fashion in the selfie stakes!
      Burj Khalifa, Dubai
      If you've always wanted to feel like you are on top of the world, you nearly will be should you decide to visit the mesmerising masterpiece that is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. This is a city so rich in luxury and class that it's one of the most opulent in the world!
      Maya Bay, Thailand
      We don't think that there can be any better beach in the world on which to lie back and relax than this one in Phi Phi. Surrounded by 100 metre high cliffs, lie on the silky soft sand of the beach while gazing out into the gloriously blue seas of the ocean. And don't forget to take that selfie!
      Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
      South Africa's most photographed attraction and a definite for this list! Ride a cable car to the top, where you can admire Cape Town in its entirety and take the obligatory selfie too.
      Next time you're planning to visit any of these places, be sure to grab your selfie stick in order to savour that perfect moment forever. Let Barrhead Travel take you all over the world on your ultimate journey of a lifetime!

    25.  

      Travel Insurance - Don’t Skip It, Buy It!

      Each year, we see reports issued by The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and other well-known organisations that show the number of people who don’t buy travel insurance is rising.
      And there are many, many other travellers who decide to buy it just before they go away.
      If there’s one thing you do when you book your well-deserved and much-longed-for holiday, it’s take out adequate travel insurance when you book your holiday.
      We know that travel insurance isn’t the most exciting purchase you’ll ever make, and that many people think, "I’ll be fine. It’ll never happen to me.“ But the fact is, accidents and issues do happen to people - all the time. And another fact is, if you need it and you don’t have it, you could be in real financial dire straits.
      It may be that you think that insurance is too expensive.
      You might think that the UK Government will cover your costs if you fall ill or have an accident abroad.
      You might think that all you need is the European EHIC card will cover you for any medical emergencies.
      You might not have thought about what happens to the money you have paid for your break if you fall ill and can’t travel, if you are made redundant and can no longer afford to go, or if you are delayed getting to the airport because of an accident on the motorway and miss your flight.
      Insurance covers you for those unexpected things that just might happen before your holiday, which mean you have to cancel. It covers you for medical bills – and let’s be honest, it’s well-documented that destinations such as the USA charge huge amounts for even the most basic medical care. While the UK Government’s Foreign Office will provide you with emergency assistance, they will never give you money for medical bills. And the EHIC card only entitles you to the same benefits as a resident of that country, which could still mean you pay for treatment. It's not an alternative to travel insurance, just an added extra - it won't cover for things like emergency dental treatment or an air ambulance home to the UK.
      Of course, exclusions will apply, especially if you are taking part in dangerous sports or have an excessive amounts of alcohol. It pays to read the small print on your policy, but wouldn’t you rather be safe in the knowledge that you’ll have a safety net if anything untoward happens?
      Not buying insurance at the time you book your holiday is a false economy. When you do buy it, make sure the policy covers you for everything you’ll need – some policies, including those given free with credit cards, may not have the level of cover required.
      As the UK’s leading independent travel group, Barrhead Travel offers insurance at extremely competitive rates, and the cover is excellent too. You’ll be asked by our travel consultants as to whether you would like to buy insurance when you book your trip – please don’t put it off! We have annual insurance policies available too, for frequent travellers. Be sure to book your insurance in store at any of our branches, or give us a call on 0800 804 8666, as soon as you book your holiday – you’ll be covered straight away!

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