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      6 of the best rail holidays to take in 2019

      Every passionate traveller’s worst fear is the thought of not getting to visit every destination on their bucket list. Which is understandable given how many incredible destinations there are in the world.
      A solution to ticking every place off is a rail itinerary that takes you through multiple cities and towns within one holiday. We’ve recently teamed up with Railbookers to create some new multi-stop rail journeys that include hotel accommodation and transport (including return flights to the UK). Here are six itineraries that you can book now for 2019.
      1. Venice via the Alps
      You’ll firstly make your way to Paris via Eurostar, where you’ll transfer to your onward rail travel. Then it’s time to enjoy one night in Geneva, before setting out on your journey through the Swiss Alps, riding along the Simplon Pass. Your final destination is Venice, where you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful sights for three nights. To return to the UK you can choose between flights or a return rail journey.
      2. Switzerland’s Lakes and Mountains
      Explore Switzerland at a leisurely pace with this five-night itinerary. Start with an overnight stay in Montreux before you continue along the Golden Pass Line to Interlaken. Take a quick detour to the highest railway station at the top of Jungfrau Mountain, before travelling through the Swiss Alps on-board the Glacier Express to Chur. Complete this incredible journey with a day trip across spectacular viaducts past impressive glaciers on the Bernina Express to Tirano.
      3. Ultimate Canada Coast to Coast
      On this itinerary, you’ll start with a flight to the Atlantic Canada gem of Halifax in Nova Scotia. Then, using the VIA Rail network, you’ll enjoy stops (and hotel accommodation) in Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Jasper, Banff, and Vancouver. The flight back from Vancouver to the UK and three meals are included.
      4. The All American
      This journey highlights some of America’s most popular destinations. Starting and finishing in New York City, you’ll travel on-board Amtrak® to New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago. Overall it is 18 days including flights, with 10 nights spent in hotel accommodation and 5 nights on-board the train.
      5. Jazz Blues and Rock ‘N’ Roll
      If you’re a big music lover, then this USA rail itinerary will be up your street. Start your journey in Chicago, with its famous blues scene, before heading down the colourful Deep South. Here you’ll stop by Memphis, the birthplace of rock ‘n' roll and home to Graceland. Then you’ll move onto New Orleans, where you can enjoy a jazz brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters restaurant.
      6. Ultimate Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest
      With this itinerary, you’ll enjoy 2 nights each in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest – as well as rail travel in between. In Berlin, Prague, and Vienna you’ll also be treated to a Hop on Hop Off bus pass, while in Budapest you’ll be invited on-board a Danube River Cruise. Eurostar transport between London and Brussels and return flights from Budapest are also included.


      3 adventure-filled holidays your family will love

      Nothing brings families together like exploring somewhere new and creating lasting memories you’ll all laugh about around the dinner table for years to come.
      Kids grow up fast these days and making the most of those shared moments is key. So, with that in mind, here are three incredible places you can all enjoy that offer something a little different to your typical European holiday.
      1. Borneo
      Did you know, Borneo is home to half of all known plant and animal species in the world? Meaning there’s nowhere better to see a huge array of wildlife. Be sure to hop aboard a Kinabatangan River cruise where the kids will love spotting the local jungle inhabitants like macaques, crocodiles, pygmy elephants and orangutans!
      Other highlights include the historic temples and harbourside market of Sandakan, the caves of Sarawak and the beaches of Lankayan where green turtles come to lay their eggs all year round.
      2. Peru
      If your tribe are always up for a challenge, how about tackling the four-day hike to Machu Picchu together? Trek passed early Incan settlements, reach the dizzying heights of Dead Woman’s Pass and camp high in the clouds surrounded by the stunning Andean mountain range.
      After successfully completing the trail, remember to make a pitstop at Aguas Calientes, which is home to soothing hot springs and a great selection of delicious restaurants. The nearby city of Cusco, with its traditional craft markets and fascinating museums is also a must-visit!
      3. Morocco
      Immerse your family in the buzz of Marrakech’s world-famous souks and let the kids test out their bargaining skills as they barter for a pair of traditional slippers or a carved wooden camel. Before reviving yourselves with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in the Djemaa el-Fna main square.
      Venturing into the Atlas Mountains to explore Berber villages, taking a trip to the pretty pirate port town of Essaouira and getting involved in a hands-on bread baking class all help make this trip great fun too!
      Intrigued by what you’ve just read? Then get in touch to talk to us about how we’re working with our friends at Intrepid Travel to bring you the best family breaks to destinations across the globe.


      10 reasons why everyone should visit Tahiti

      If you think idyllic paradise islands don’t truly exist – you clearly haven’t been to The Islands of Tahiti.
      Located in the South Pacific The Islands of Tahiti is comprised of 118 beautiful exotic islands. When Captain James Cook and his crew returned to Europe after having stumbled upon The Islands of Tahiti, people were captivated with the illustrations of the unusual flowers and fauna – and the European fascination with these South Pacific Islands began.
      And the allure hasn’t ended. The Islands of Tahiti is still the destination of choice for couples, families and individuals looking for seclusion, romance and escapism. Here are 10 reasons why Tahiti should be on everyone’s bucket list.
      1. It’s the home of the water bungalow
      Those water bungalows that are now an essential part of any tropical island? They are Tahitian.
      In 1967, the first three overwater bungalows were built at the Bali Hai Hotel on Raiatea, followed by the overwater bungalows on Moorea and at Hotel Bora Bora. Five decades on, there are now 884 overwater bungalows across the islands.  
      2. The rare black pearl
      The Islands of Tahiti is one of the few places in the world where you can find the rare black pearl. They are found in black-lipped oysters, which are larger than most other oysters resulting in larger pearls than you might be used to. Tahitian pearls can actually be a charcoal grey, silver, or dark green colour instead.
      3. Whale spotting opportunities
      Between July and November, humpback whales migrate from the icy waters of the Antarctic to the warm waters of Tahiti. French Polynesia is actually a Marine Mammal Sanctuary, and there are strict laws about approaching the animals. Book yourself a boat tour to witness these impressive mammals in the wild.
      4. It’s a beautiful diving location
      Whales aren’t the only fascinating creatures wandering through the French Polynesian currents. There are 1000+ species of marine life within the surrounding waters, including 20 shark species. Because of its exceptional biodiversity, scientists consider the Polynesian sea zone to be the “richest aquarium on earth”. The waters are also a warm 80°F with a visibility of 30m.
      5. Some of the world’s best surfing
      We’re not done talking about The Islands of Tahiti’s fantastic waters quite yet. Keen surfers will know that Tahiti is home to some big waves – including Teahupoo, which is considered the most powerful break in the world thanks to its size, force, power, and coral reef below. Don’t worry, if you’re not a surfer you can still take a sightseeing boat out to observe this incredible force of nature.
      6. Adventurous rainforest
      When you arrive in The Islands of Tahiti, it’s tempting to sit down on the white-powder beach and stay there for the duration of your holiday – but The Islands of Tahiti has an adventurous core. Book a 4x4 safari through lush rainforests and the Papearii and Papeeno Valleys and stumble upon villages and hidden rivers on The Islands of Tahiti, or seek out sacred altars and old World War II artillery on a guided hike around Bora Bora's Mount Otemanu.
      7. The food is an exotic blend of Asian, French and Tahitian
      You’ll discover plenty of new flavours and smells in The Islands of Tahiti. Alternate between delicious local dishes like Poisson Cru (marinated raw fish salad), traditional French fare like Bouillabaisse (fish soup) or Asian-influenced Chow Mein stir-fried noodles and wonderful mixed-culture dishes like Poulet Fafa (chicken with taro leaves). Remember to also try some fresh fruit and order some imported French wine to sip on during dinner!
      8. Traditional tattoos
      If you’ve got some ink, you’ll be in good company as the word tattoo actually derives from the Tahitian word tatau (the literal translation is “light tapping”). The practice of tattooing in French Polynesia goes back 2000 years and was traditionally used as a way to distinguish between tribes, chiefs, princes and kings. There were even “tatau” ceremonies that could last several weeks. 
      9. Dazzling night sky
      With a remote location in the Pacific Ocean, far away from light pollution, you’ll find the clearest night sky you’ll ever witness. Keep an eye out for famous constellations, most notably The Southern Cross, Scorpio and The Pleiades.
      10. It’s incredibly romantic
      With gorgeous beaches, clear night skies, and gorgeous food – we don’t really need to explicitly tell you that Tahiti is perfect for a romantic break with your partner. It also makes for a beautiful backdrop during a proposal, wedding, or honeymoon! (There are 33 places to get married in Tahiti, including same-sex marriage).


      5 Pride Festivals that need to be on your bucket list

      It’s June so that means we’re officially into Pride month. Across the globe, LGBTQ+ communities will be celebrating with festivals and marches – many of them attracting crowds larger than some countries!  
      Pride parties can range from small gatherings that are only a few years old, right through to decades-old festivals that are so big, streets need to be shut down for the event. But if it’s big – or historically important – that you’re looking for, we have rounded up five Pride Festivals that need to be on your bucket list.   
      1.      New York City
      Back to the place that sparked the modern LGBTQ+ movement. In the early hours of June 28th, 1969 police raided a small bar in Greenwich Village that was popular with the local LGBTQ+ community. Tired of the raids, this time the customers fought back and the Stonewall Riots made their way into the history books. A year later the world’s very first Pride Parade was held in New York City.
      This year’s event will be held on the 24th June, and (aside from the main march) you can attend dance parties, cabaret shows, comedy shows and even a climbing event!
      2.      Sao Paula
      Pride made its way to Brazil in 1997, and a decade later it became the world’s biggest Pride festival – even making its way into the Guinness Book of World Records. The city has just hosted its 2018 celebrations and is it reported that 3 million people were in attendance.
      3.      Toronto
      In 2005 Canada became the fourth country in the world (and the first outside of Europe) to legalize same-sex marriage. So it’s no surprise that it knows how to organise a Pride Parade - and Toronto Pride is arguably it's best. 
      The main event every year is the main parade, and the corresponding Dyke March and Trans March. Though there are other events throughout the city (both official and non-official) including dance, film and book events.
      4.      Madrid
      If you’d like to stay closer to home, head to Spain’s capital for the biggest Pride party in Europe. Past parades have attracted up to 2 million people, and in 2017 there were 11 parties over 9 days – including a massive outdoor all night long party at Ciudad Del Rock!
      This year’s Pride will be held on the 7th of July.
      5.      Antarctica
      We’re not pulling your leg – Antarctica will be holding its first Pride event in 2018! Technically it will just be the 10 employees of McMurdo Station, but it could open the doors for larger events in the future. Whether that’s the employees of the other workstations or the cruise liners that sail in during the year (it’s definitely bucket-list worthy for sure).
      What’s the best Pride Festival you’ve ever attended? Have we missed your favourite?


      6 far-flung destinations you can fly to from Belfast

      If you live in Northern Ireland, a lot of the time you’ll need to travel to Dublin if you want to fly somewhere exotic. But that isn’t always the case. While Belfast International Airport mostly flies to other European airports, it does offer a few long-haul flights to far-flung places. Here are six places you can fly to from Belfast that aren’t in Europe.
      1. Cuba

      Cuba is becoming more accessible to the rest of the world, including Belfast. Flights are available to Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport (also known as Varadero Airport), which is just under two hours from Havana.
      2. Mexico

      If it’s a fun-filled beach holiday you’re looking for, then you can’t do much better than Cancun. Home to numerous all-inclusive resort hotels, the beaches and nightlife in Cancun are world-famous. If it’s history you’re after, however, the ancient city of Tulum is only a day-trip away.
      3. Orlando

      Orlando is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world – and it’s not hard to imagine why. Home to world-famous roller coasters and theme parks, there’s plenty to keep the children entertained morning to night.
      Away from the parks you’ll find amazing shopping and dining – plus, there’s the other side of Florida that often gets forgotten about. Cities like Kissimmee, St Pete’s and Tampa are only an hour’s drive away, and offer a different experience than the one you’ll have in Orlando. They’re perfect for a few days of relaxation before you fly back.  
      4. Las Vegas

      If you’re looking for an all-night party, then you need to book a flight to Las Vegas. The famous 4-mile strip is lined with casinos, A-list entertainment and an infectious atmosphere – all essential ingredients for a night out. Then during the day there’s always a pool party happening somewhere.
      5. NYC

      New York City is somewhere that requires no introduction. Full of shopping, entertainment, famous landmarks and delicious food – there are several reasons why people return to this buzzing metropolis year after year. Flights run twice a week to Newark Liberty International Airport.
      6. Boston

      If you’re after an American city break but are looking for something that is more chilled than NYC, Las Vegas or Orlando, we recommend Boston. A great city for anyone interested in America’s rich history, you can spend your days wandering between different museums. Plus, seafood lovers will adore the coastal restaurants. 



      5 alternative places to visit in 2018 before they become popular

      Last week we published our top 10 destinations that are set to be big in 2018 – but what if you don’t want to visit the same place as everyone else?
      If you’re looking for somewhere off-beat, we’ve rounded up five destinations that aren’t overrun with crowds but still have a solid travel infrastructure. But you’ll need to be quick, these places will catch on eventually.

      Witness a different side to Australia on the southern island of Tasmania. While the mainland boasts shining cities, Tasmania has remained true to its rugged routes. The scenery is beautiful and hikers will adore the selection of short forest trails and multi-day adventures. Plus, water sport lovers can explore the rocky coastline and winding rivers via kayak, raft, yacht or cruise boat. Then when evening falls, keep an eye out for the native Tasmanian Devils (and the legendary Tasmanian tiger).

      Angkor Wat has been bringing in the travellers for decades, but generally it’s Thailand and Vietnam that attract the crowds to South East Asia. However, a string of luxury hotels have recently opened up in Cambodia that will allow visitors to explore other, mostly untouched, regions – some of them boasting quiet crystal-white beaches.
      Faroe Islands

      Much closer to home this time, the Faroe Islands are a low-key option for people wanting to explore the Northern Hemisphere. Cruises especially are becoming more popular - especially as part of a wider Scottish Isles and Iceland itinerary. Despite their remoteness, the Faroe Islands are much more than just rugged mountains: their easy-access to fresh seafood has resulted in an impressive selection of restaurants - one of them even boasts a Michelin Star.

      We predicted in last week’s blog post that Argentina is set to become South America’s biggest tourist hub. But if you’re after some Latin American charm without big crowds, we recommend Bolivia. Sometimes referred to as the Southern Hemisphere’s Iceland thanks to the ethereal Salar de Uyuni salt flat, this is easily the continent’s most fascinating country. The cultural hub of La Pas (up in the scenic mountains, no less) has also recently emerged as a foodie capital.

      Tourists have been wary of Egypt for a few years, but the country is finding its feet again. Visitor numbers are climbing at a steady enough pace that you won’t be alone in your adventure but you’ll be able to enjoy an leisurely stroll around the main attractions. On top of that, even more Egyptian artefacts have been recently discovered: last summer archaeologists uncovered an ancient pyramid and a pharaoh’s head!

      Let us know in the comments what off-beat place you’ll be visiting this year.  


      Top worldwide sporting events of 2018

      Enjoy both travel and sport? Then 2018 has plenty of opportunities for you to combine your love of the two. Whether it’s the heavyweight events like the World Cup or something a little more niche, the sporting world has a busy year planned. Here are just a few of the biggest world sporting events happening in 2018.
      2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
      The FIFA World Cup is always massive, with fans flocking to the host country every four years. This year it is Russia’s turn. Twelve stadiums will be used for the matches, all of which will be in European Russia (including two stadiums in Moscow).
      England is the only UK team to qualify, and their first match will be held on the 18th of June in the Volgograd Arena in the south of Russia.
      2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea
      It’s time for the Winter Olympics again, and this time it will take place in Pyeongchang County during February. The Alpensia Resort in Daegwallyeong-myeon will be the focus of the games, and will host the ski jumping, snowboarding, bobsleighing, biathlon, alpine skiing and cross-country skiing (as well as the opening and closing ceremonies).
      The east coast city of Gangneung will also be stepping in to host the indoor events. If curling, ice hockey, speed skating or figure skating are your winter sports of choice then this is the city to travel to. 
      Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast
      It doesn’t feel as though it’s been four years since Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games, but here they are again – but this time it’s on the sunny Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The majority of the stadiums will be located within the city (and are only a 20 minutes’ drive from the Athletes Village) with only track cycling, shooting and the preliminary rounds of basketball held elsewhere (Brisbane and Cairns/Townsville respectively).
      Superbowl in Minneapolis
      One of the biggest annual sporting events (not even just in America) is the Superbowl. It will be held on the 4th of February this year at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, though it is not yet known what teams will be playing.
      US Open
      The US Open is the modern version of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world and continues to attract the crowds. Details of this year’s US Open have not yet been announced but traditionally it is held on the last Monday in August, and continues for two weeks into September, with the middle weekend coinciding with the Labor Day holiday.
      We can’t forget about the UK’s very own tennis championship, can we? It’s the oldest tennis championship in the world and is regarded as the most prestigious. This year’s tournament will begin on the 2nd of July.
      2018 Sailing World Cup in Denmark
      If you’re a sailing fan you won’t need to travel very far as this year’s Sailing World Cup is being held in Denmark. While the crowds for this are not massive, the performance of the teams is used to qualify countries for the next Olympics (which will be Japan 2020).  
      European Sports Championships in Glasgow and Berlin
      This is Europe’s biggest inter-sport championship and this August it will be split between the iconic German city of Berlin and Scotland’s very own Glasgow. Athletics, aquatics, cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon will all be represented. Tickets are not yet available but you can sign up for alerts.


      Where will be popular in 2018? Our predictions

      There’s something about a new year that brings about the plan-making in us. Maybe it’s purchasing a new diary with fresh pages, or maybe now that the festive season is over our minds turn to what’s ahead.
      If you use January as an excuse to map out your year, you’ve probably already thought about what countries you would like to visit. You’re not the only one as January is one of the most popular times of year to book, with airlines and hotels offering an array of early bird discounts. If you’re short on inspiration, however, here are our predictions on what destinations will be must-visits over the next 12 months. 
      1. Japan

      Japan is an island full of wonders. Whether you’re looking for sky-high cities, fascinating culture, or stunning natural landscapes, you’ll find it in this two-island destination. The country also boasts an impressive bullet train service, making it an excellent choice for a touring holiday if you can’t choose between the popular cities of Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto.
      2. Vietnam

      Vietnam is the perfect mix between old-school oriental charm and modern-day buzz. Its capital, Hanoi, is a mixing bowl of French and Asian culture and boasts a European feel with a lively old quarter. Down in the south though you’ll find tranquil beaches in the resorts of Hue, Nha Trang and Hoi An (but if you begin to crave the city, the bustling Ho Chi Minh City can also be found in the south).
      3. Argentina

      South America is a once-in-a-lifetime destination, and Argentina is currently its hotbed. Get lost in the infectious spirit of Buenos Aires where you can tango until seven in the morning. Then take a trip to the breath-taking Iguaza Falls on the Argentinian and Brazilian border. And remember to pop by the Andes.
      4. Italy

      Thanks to its generous offering of tourist hotspots, Italy makes this list every year. Whether it’s the canals of Venice, iconic buildings of Rome, the shopping in Milan, the scenic views of Lake Garda, or the rich architectural heritage of Genoa – Italy offers something for every traveller.
      5. China

      China is a fascinating country, whether you’re looking for city lights or iconic world wonders. Celebrate modern China in the city of Shanghai, with its high rise buildings, the charming People’s Square and first-class Grand Theatre. Then explore the oriental temples of Beijing, before moving onto the ancient sites of Xi’an - including the Terracotta Warriors.
      6. Croatia

      Croatia has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, largely thanks to Game of Thrones. But this beautiful country is more than just the real-life location of the Red Keep and the House of the Undying. It is home to eight national parks, that are overflowing in fauna and flora, and the striking Postojna Caves.
      7. Cuba

      In 2017, the Cuban travel industry opened up and we’re predicting a rise in holidaymakers (especially from cruisers). A little bit different from the other islands in the Caribbean, Cuba boasts a unique, Latin-shaped history with an energetic atmosphere, as well as sunny beaches.
      8. Thailand

      Thailand is always popular, and for good reason. Whether it’s the exotic aroma of lively Bangkok or the relaxed beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand offers something for beach-bums and city-lovers.
      9. South Africa

      If you’ve never been to Africa before, South Africa is the perfect place to start off. The city of Cape Town has plenty to offer such as Table Mountain, Robben Island and a modern waterfront with shops and restaurants. After you’ve explored the city, get back into nature with a safari in Kruger National Park or a shark diving expedition in Gansbaai.
      10. India

      There are many sides to the country of India, but all of them are equally amazing. Feel the buzz in the bustling city of New Delhi, admire the Taj Mahal in Agra, or relax on the beaches of Goa. Whatever India you choose in 2018, we guarantee you’ll love it.
      Where are you escaping to in 2018?


      10 new airlines routes from the UK in 2018

      Every year the world becomes easier to explore, and 2018 will be no exception. In the new year several UK airports will be launching new flight routes to some of the world’s most desirable destinations.
      Some of these new routes will provide holiday makers with more options on the times and days to fly – while others will offer UK residents the chance to fly direct to parts of the world previously only available with a stopover. Have a look at the list below and let us know what destination you’ll be jetting off to.
      1.Seattle and Portland

      The north-west USA has never been the easiest place to get to from the UK, but that will change in the 2018. From May, UK jet-setters will be able to fly to Seattle twice a week from Manchester. Also in May, British Airways will launch the only direct flight between the UK and Portland, via London.
      2. Nashville

      The Deep South of America will also become more accessible to British travellers with five flights a week to Nashville from London Heathrow with British Airways.
      3. Buenos Aires

      Gatwick to Buenos Aires is a new flight route from low-cost airline Norwegian Airlines. It will start in February and will be the first South American route for the airline.
      4. Seychelles

      Next year, one of the world’s most desirable holiday destinations will become more accessible to UK holiday makers. Launching in March, British Airways will be offering twice-weekly flights from Heathrow to Mahé – making it the only direct flight from the UK to these beautiful islands.
      5. Ukraine

      Explore this eastern state with a new direct flight from Wizz Air that will be flying into the capital of Lviv three times a week from Luton.
      6. Amritsar, India

      In 2013 Air India launched a successful flight to New Delhi and in 2018 it will continue that success with a direct flight to Amritsar (the first from the UK). So far no start date has been announced but it will leave from Birmingham and will run twice a week.
      7. Doha

      It’s not just the big English cities that will benefit from new flight routes in 2018. Welsh jet-setters will be happy to hear that Cardiff airport will be offering flights to Doha from May onwards via Qatar Airways.
      8. Boston

      Another USA flight route, but this time from Birmingham to Boston. Starting in April, the midlands of England will welcome four flights a week to New England with Primera Air.

      If you’ve already been to Venice, Rome and Milan – set your sights in Genoa for 2018. Because from March Easyjet will be offering two flights a week from Manchester airport to this underrated Italian city.
      10. Perth, Australia

      Finally, we have what will be 2018’s biggest and longest serviced flight. Qantas Airways have announced that they will be launching the world’s first non-stop flight route to Perth, Western Australia. It will take 17 hours and will leave from London Heathrow.


      10 places that look like Christmas cards

      Ever looked at a Christmas card of a snowy town and wondered if anywhere could really be that beautiful? Here are 10 places that look just like the places you have seen on the front of Christmas cards.
      1. Zermatt Valley and Matterhorn Peak at Dawn Switz

      2. Wetterhorn of Grindelwald in Winter

      3. St. Stephen's Basilica Square, Budapest

      4. Prague

      5.Lake Bled
      6. Niagara Falls

      7. Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City

      8. Boston
      9. Jungfrau ski resort under Eiger
      10. Reykjavik 


      Top 5 winter warmer escapes

      We all love the beginning of the winter season – nights in by a crackling fire, cosy knitwear and mug after mug of hot chocolate. However, there comes a time when we are all crying out for some well needed sunshine.
      Luckily, there are plenty of locations around the world that offer opportunities to soak up the rays and starve off the winter blues.
      Here’s our top picks of places to jet off to for a winter sun escape.

      Dubai is a popular destination all year round. Beat the 41-degree summer heat to enjoy more comfortable temperatures in the winter months. Dubai is home to luxurious hotels, the largest shopping mall in the world, waterparks and incredible international cuisine. With countless activities for all ages, Dubai really does have something for all ages.

      Malta is the perfect destination for a last minute sunny break, located just three hours by plane from the frosty UK. Enjoy this volcanic island’s famous year-round sunshine, without having to share it with hundreds of other tourists. It’s time to ditch the woolly jumpers and pack your bathing suit to spend a few days absorbing Malta’s history, indulging in freshly caught seafood and of course, soaking up some well-earned Vitamin D.

      Florida is an ideal haven from the chilly winter weather – it is nicknamed the Sunshine State after all. With over 1000 miles of coastline and temperatures lower than thirty degrees, heading to Florida in the winter provides the perfect weather for exploring. Plus, the temperature of the sea will still be around 25 degrees, so go and take a dip! Theme parks, sandy beaches and vibrant cities will complete your trip – Florida really does have something for everyone.

      Turkey is a great choice for winter sun – take advantage of the fact that attractions will be much quieter than in the summer months, leaving you with the best views for all your photo ops. Not to mention the fact that Turkey offers incredible value for money, so you can browse markets and bazaars for unique Christmas presents without breaking the bank. With some incredible all-inclusive offers available, you really are spoilt for choice.
      St Lucia

      Treat your special someone to the trip of a lifetime and jet off to St. Lucia. Chase away the winter blues in this Caribbean paradise. With tropical scenery, endless sandy stretches and the most phenomenal sunsets, St. Lucia is perfect for any couple looking for some quality time in the sun. How could you resist?
      Where would you like to go on your winter sun escape? Let us know in the comments below!


      Top 5 surprising vegan-friendly cities

      Since 1994, International Vegan Month has been celebrated each November and demonstrates how much the plant-based movement has progressed.
      There are some major cities - such as Berlin and Melbourne - that have had a stellar reputation for vegan food for years. However, demand has resulted in more and more locations around the globe embracing the diet - including some that you wouldn’t expect.
      Here are just a few of the alternative locations around the world where you can indulge in plant-based delights. Cruelty-free cuisine has never tasted so good.
      Los Angeles, USA

      Los Angeles has the most vegan listings of any US city, and its cruelty- conscious inhabitants are leading the way with plant-based cuisine. LA has everything from high-end eateries frequented by the stars to the famous LA juice bars on every street corner. There really is something for everyone – even your meat loving friends.
      Where to Eat: For the ultimate guilty pleasure, visit Donut Friend. With a huge selection of mouth-watering unique doughnuts, you will be spoiled for choice.
      Taipei, Taiwan

      With around 10% of the population opting for a meat-free diet due to their Buddhist practises, Taipei is one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in Asia. Chefs are reinterpreting traditional Taiwanese cuisine with fresh, local ingredients to create the vegan fare of your wildest dreams. From pop-up eateries to gourmet cuisine, you will be spoiled for choice.
      Where to Eat: Buffets are normally out of the question for vegans, but opt to visit Fruitful Food to fuel up during your trip for plant-based internationally inspired cuisine. (Note: some of the products will include dairy, but the majority of options are vegan!)
      Warsaw, Poland

      Although the eruption of vegan restaurants in Warsaw may have looked like just a food fad, their popularity means they are now a permanent feature of the city. With over 30 entirely vegan eateries, you can now sample reinterpretations of traditional Polish cuisine – all cruelty free. The vegan fare in Poland is so good that many meat eaters also frequent the establishments.
      Where to Eat: Mango Vegan Street Food is situated in the heart of the city, and so is the perfect stop amongst your sightseeing. Don’t forget to try their speciality, mango sticky rice.
      Chennai, India

      India is actually considered to be the birthplace of vegetarianism! Around half of India’s population follow a meat-free diet, and the rest of the country has the lowest meat consumption per head in the world. Chennai is seen to be the country’s trailblazer for cruelty-free cuisine, with local delights including rice, pulses and coconut milk.
      Where to Eat: For a culinary experience to remember, dine in The Royal Vega, one of India’s first vegetarian and vegan-friendly fine dining establishments.
      London, England

      For a foodie break slightly closer to home, there is no better option than heading to the capital. London has over 100 plant-based establishments, so you have plenty of choice during this city adventure. London has created vegan versions of some of your favourite comfort food, from fried chicken to doner kebabs! What will you try first?
      Where to Eat: Itadaki Zan is the first vegan and organic Japanese restaurant in Europe, and has been making waves on the jam-packed foodie scene. Try the tofu spring rolls and ‘kakiage’ tempura for the ultimate treat.
      Have you ever tried the cuisine in any of these alternative vegan-friendly cities? Let us know in the comments below!


      Best places to visit in November

      For us Brits, November is the month when the clocks go back, Christmas lights go up and temperatures fall into single figures. It’s no wonder we crave winter sun…
      It’s also the month when the northern and southern hemisphere switches hands. Many places that were not open to tourists due to the rainy season (or humidity) are now in full swing. If you’re looking to fit in a holiday before the festive season begins, here are ten places we recommend. 
      1.    Caribbean

      First off, we have the Caribbean – all of it. November is when most Caribbean resorts open up for the tourist season but it’s not high season quite yet. Whether it’s dancing in Cuba, listening to reggae in Jamaica, or admiring the beautiful landscape of Saint Lucia, November is a great time to explore this beautiful part of the world. 
      2.    Mexico

      Just across the Gulf, Mexico is also a great option in November. Not only is the weather amazing, but the first two days of the month are spent celebrating the Day of the Dead Festival (Dia de Muertos). It’s a public holiday and is dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed on. Janitzio in Lake Pátzcuaro, and Xochimilco in Mexico City are the best places to join in the festivities. 
      3.    Deep South of America

      The tourist season in most of the USA begins to slow down in winter, but the Deep South is still in full swing. So whether its rodeos in Texas, music in Memphis or parties in New Orleans you’re after, now is the time to do it. 
      4.    Hong Kong

      Most of South East Asia is at its best during our winter, but Hong Kong needs a special mention. The city can sometimes get too much for tourists during the summer heat, but the winter boasts breezy days perfect for exploring this glittering metropolitan gem. 
      5.    Phuket

      November is shoulder season of Phuket and a great time to visit before prices go up. The rainy season has just ended (though you might still experience light drizzles) and the beaches are sunny once again.  
      6.    Mauritius

      November is the start of summer season in Mauritius, with daily temperatures of 24°C. The temperature also increases gradually over the next few months, normally reaching 28°C. November is also just before the tourists start appearing in large numbers, so it’s a great time for good weather and secluded beaches.  
      7.    Dubai

      If you’re looking for dazzling sun, but don’t want to travel to the southern hemisphere or across the Atlantic, Dubai is a great option. The Middle East is typically too hot for British holidaymakers during the summer months but when winter begins to set in, a cool breeze appears and it becomes the prefect short haul getaway. 
      8.    Turkey

      Roughly the same distance from the UK as Dubai, Turkey is also a great winter sun destination without a long-haul flight. Whether it’s the cultured capital of Istanbul or one of the many family-friendly resorts in Antalya – it’s a great all-round winter sun destination. 
      9.    Canary Islands

      Finally, we have the always-popular Canary Islands. Set off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are permanent inclusions in best winter sun destination lists. Whether it’s the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, the hiking in Fuerteventura , the adventure in Gran Canaria or the all-round fun of Tenerife, the Canary Islands are always a good choice. 
      10.    Christmas Markets

      Not everyone is looking for sunshine at this time of year. City breaks to some of the Europe’s best Christmas markets are extremely popular in the later months of the year. A few of the biggest also open shop in mid-November so you can get your Christmas shopping finished before everyone else. 


      Top 5 Activities - Extraordinary Abu Dhabi

      Abu Dhabi is known as a place of unparalleled luxury.
      As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, it is often called “The Arabian Jewel”, and for good reason. This former desert strip is known for its year-round blazing sunshine, and is now a glittering metropolis of opulent buildings, lush green parks and diverse multiculturalism. Abu Dhabi really is a must-visit destination for people who want an extraordinary holiday, and is home to a host of unique travel experiences that will make you want to return again and again.
      Here are our top five extraordinary things to do in in Abu Dhabi:
      Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

      As one of the largest in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque really is an architectural masterpiece. With a capacity of 41,000 worshippers, its beautiful white and gold exterior is enhanced by the sun and it is also home to one of the largest chandeliers in the world. Visiting this mosque is a travel bucket-list experience and it is open daily for visitors, with both entry and guided tours being free of charge. If you book an Abu Dhabi City Tour with Barrhead Travel, you will not only have the chance to visit this stunning mosque, but many other interesting stops along the way.
      Top Tip: Escape the afternoon heat by taking the 5pm ‘Sunset Tour’ and enjoy a cool breeze while you take photos of this exceptional work of art, transformed by nightfall and its unique lighting system.
      Get your adrenaline rush at the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

      The prestigious Formula One championship is back for its ninth year from the 24th-26th November, returning to the famous Yas Marina Circuit.  The Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is the only hotel to span the track, and the only hotel in the world that does this! There is even a driving centre and school for aspiring racing drivers. The Grand Prix is one of the most important events to hit Abu Dhabi each year, and with acts like Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris and Pink announced for the race-day concerts, it is set to be an extraordinary event.
      Soak up the rays on Saadiyat Beach

      Set on the pristine shoreline of Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Beach is perfect for anyone looking for some quiet solitude away from the bustling city streets. Relax on a lounger and keep an eye out for dolphins or Hawksbill turtles in the crystal-clear water. This beach is kept perfect by a Dune Protection Zone, protecting the sandy white stretch and the wildlife that it holds so dear.
      Top Tip: Take part in the yoga classes offered on Saadiyat Beach for the ultimate relaxation retreat. If you would like an activity that will get your blood pumping, take part in the eco-friendly windsurfing and sailing options on offer.
      Participate in a once-in-a-lifetime Desert Safari

      If you want to go beyond the sparkling city lights of Abu Dhabi in search of some thrills, then a Desert Safari is perfect for you. Your trip into the unknown can include dune-bashing, sand-boarding, camel trekking (all under the watch of an expert guide) and even an overnight stay for the ultimate desert adventure experience.
      Top Tip: Take your trip into the desert in the evening and witness a spectacular sunset followed by a barbecue dinner around a campfire under the stars. This is one opportunity that you cannot have at home.
      Cool off with a splash at Yas Waterworld

      Yas Waterworld is not your average water park and has something for everyone, from thrill-seekers to families. Experience the Dawwama, an exhilarating six-person Tornado raft ride or see the park from the skies on the Bandit Bomber, featuring water and laser effects in an interactive adventure. With 43 incredible rides, you really are spoiled for choice!
      Top Tip: Stay until 10pm each Friday for DJs, lights and a Hydrojet show that needs to be seen to be believed.
      Which one of these incredible attractions would you love to visit first? Book now with Barrhead Travel and discover Abu Dhabi.


      Staff Diaries: Sandals Barbados

      Hi Holly, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Barrhead Travel.
      I have worked for Barrhead Travel for almost two years now and work within the Marketing Department. This is my first job in the travel industry and it is one of the most exciting industries to work in.
      What was it about Sandals Barbados that made you choose it for your own holiday?
      I have always dreamed of holidaying in the Caribbean. We wanted to visit somewhere where we could relax and completely switch off, but also experience the local culture - Barbados provides just that.
      What was your initial thought when you got there? What caught your eye first?
      When we arrived at the resort after the long journey from Scotland, we were greeted by singing hotel staff and were handed a glass of chilled champagne; from this moment I knew that this was going to be the perfect holiday. We were accompanied to our room with a walk through beautiful well-kept gardens. Our room was everything we could have possibly wished for – and more! I also spotted the French Patisserie right outside our room – fresh coffee and pastries in the morning was the best way to start the day.
      You were staying in a Caribbean Village Deluxe room - what did you think? What was your favourite part of the room?
      The room was the perfect size! There was the comfiest four–poster bed, a spacious and stylish bathroom and not to mention some of my favourite products from the Red Lane® Spa. We also had doors which opened fully onto the beautiful tropical gardens. It was great to chill out here before dinner, watching the sun set.
      Sandals is known for its All-Inclusive water sports and activities – what did you get up to while you were there?
      We love water-sports so we made sure we booked some trips as soon as we got there. We went on the snorkelling tour to Carlisle Bay twice. I have never snorkelled before and was a little unsure at first, however the divers made me feel completely at ease and ensured I had a fantastic experience. We swam over six ship wrecks and learned about their history. Then it was time for the best part and probably one of the highlights of the holiday - we swam with turtles. There was several of them swimming around us and the water was so clear – definitely a must-do experience!
      Tell us about the resort and your holiday highlights.
      The resort was just the right size, as I don’t really like huge, sprawling resorts. We went between two pools; for the first half of the week we were in the main pool looking onto the beach. Here, there is a swim-up bar which was incredible and served premium spirits and delicious cocktails. There’s games and pool volleyball on throughout the afternoon which is great for getting to know other guests. We went between the pool and the beautiful white sand beach laying in the hammocks. The other pool is very chilled-out and is situated next to the spa.
      And the food? The resort has 11 restaurants. Which one was your favourite?
      Ok this is a really hard decision as I fell in love with every restaurant. The restaurants all served different food but I have got to say that Butch’s Chophouse was one of the best steak restaurants I have ever visited. Schooners served the tastiest seafood and I still can’t believe there was no supplement for lobster which there usually is. I am a huge sushi lover and ate in the best sushi restaurant and it was even better that I could order as much as I wanted.
      What did you think of the wider island? Did you wander outside the resort?
      We planned to get out and about but loved spending time in the dreamy resort so much that we only went out on the Friday night. The place to go on a Friday is Oistins Fish Fry. It is very casual and has a great atmosphere. The place is packed with the island’s chefs cooking delicious fresh fish. You probably will stand in a queue for a while but grab a beer and listen to some of the live music playing. The flying fish was delicious and after dinner, you can wander round and experience Barbados like the locals.
      What kind of people were on holiday there? Who would you recommend it to?
      There were couples from all over the UK and America, but particularly a lot of Honeymooners. There was a few weddings on the beach and they looked so beautiful with a stunning back drop. If you are planning a destination wedding I would highly recommend Sandals Barbados. Even better, your Wedding is always free. It is also very romantic so perfect for newlyweds or couples looking for the perfect romantic getaway. Don’t worry though if you do find yourself wanting a little ‘me time’ as there’s plenty of things to do. I took some time to visit the Red Lane® Spa, I had a massage and pedicure and while there treated myself to some of their amazing products. There’s perfectly placed hammocks on the beach to read a good book and soak up the Caribbean sunshine, with a cocktail of course!


      Best cities for the most spectacular Fireworks Celebrations

      It’s that time of year again when the UK skies are lit up with mesmerising light shows for Guy Fawkes Night.
      Like a lot of the British population, you might wish firework displays were more common throughout the year. But we see that as an excuse for a holiday. Here are seven world-famous cities that are famous for their firework displays (including somewhere in the UK).

      Sydney is one of the first cities in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and we witness their spectacular fireworks display every year on TV. Then on the 26th of January, Darling Harbour lights up again for Australia Day along with a boat parade. Between the spellbinding light shows and the terrific weather – January is a great time to visit this iconic city.

      https://www.barrheadtravel.co.uk/holidays/worldwide-holidays/dubaiDubai never does things by half measures, and that includes its fireworks displays. Every New Year, revellers gather around the Burj Khalifa to witness the world’s tallest building light up with fireworks. Other areas of the city that light up with fireworks include Jumeirah Beach and Atlantis the Palm.

      Montreal loves fireworks so much, there’s an official competition. Going strong since 1985, the Montreal International Fireworks Competition is held every summer and features synchronised music. Tickets are pricey (usually $52 to $70 plus taxes) but there are plenty of places to view them throughout the city for free.

      Since its Guy Fawkes Night we can’t not mention London . While many UK cities put on their own amazing firework displays, London’s are a step above the rest. You’ll find firework displays at Crystal Palace Park, Battersea Park, Alexandra Palace and Wembley Park (to name a few).

      You know what makes every fireworks display better? The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower. Every year on the 14th of July, fireworks are set off from the gardens of Trocadéro for about 30 minutes and the public are welcome to watch from the Champ de Mars.
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

      Watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the UK might be a chilly affair, but in Rio de Janeiro it’s a warm and tropical experience. At the start of every New Year, thousands of people gather on the sands of Copacabana Beach for a 15-minute fireworks display.  
      Washington, D.C.

      The USA dazzles every 4th of July – but nowhere does it better than Washington D.C. Fireworks are set off from National Mall, and they are viewable from a plethora of places around DC. Including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial and numerous rooftop bars.
      Where have you witnessed an amazing fireworks display? Let us know in the comments.


      Desserts Around The World

      No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone knows about The Great British Bake Off.
      We love the show because each week, we are introduced us to some of the most incredible pastries and desserts from all over the world, which always leaves us drooling over our TV screens.
      Think of yourself as a bit of a pudding connoisseur? Inspired by the show, here are some of the countries you should tick off your dessert bucket list. Who knows, maybe after trying all of these, it could be you battling it out in the white tent next…
      Custard Tarts, Portugal

      Custard Tarts have been tried and tested on Bake Off. This dessert consists of a pastry crust that is filled with an egg custard and baked, and is one of Portugal’s most popular sweet treats.
      TRY THEM YOURSELF: The best custard tarts in Lisbon come from ‘Antiga Confeitaria de Belem’. The recipe is almost 200 years old and with 16,000 tarts being made each day, these are a reason to go to Portugal in themselves.
      Sfogliatelle, Italy

      Often nicknamed ‘Lobster Tail’ in English, this shell-shaped pastry is made up of small layers that resemble stacked leaves, traditionally filled with orange-flavoured ricotta, almond paste and citron peel. These delicate pastries could be the ultimate technical challenge on Bake Off.
      TRY IT YOURSELF: ‘Antico Forno delle  Sfogliatelle Calde Fratelli Attanasio’ is seen by travellers to be the best bakery in Naples, and is a must for any visitor to the city. Serving hot Sfogliatelle all day, this is the perfect first stop after you touch down at the airport.
      Nanaimo Bar, Canada

      This could be the bakers’ chance to go all-out Canadian, by making the Canada’s favourite no-bake dessert. With layers of buttery wafer crumb, a custard-flavoured butter icing and melted chocolate, this treat is low-fuss in the best way possible.
      TRY IT YOURSELF: To get the best of this iconic Canadian dessert, you have to go to its home, Nanaimo itself. Take their self-guided dessert trail around the city – why try one when you can try them all?
      Brigadeiro, Brazil

      This chocolate truffle will make you want to pack your bags and head to Brazil immediately. Since its conception, it has been made from condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter, coated in chocolate sprinkles. With over 50 flavours existing in gourmet shops across Brazil, there is definitely room for the bakers to experiment with flavours.
      TRY IT YOURSELF: If you can’t make it to Brazil, ‘Maya’s Brigadeiro Brazilian Sweets’ in Los Angeles is seen to be as close to the original as you can get. Head here at the end of your stateside trip to ensure you’re a hit with all your friends at home.
      Baklava, Turkey

      Yet another tricky dish that could serve as a technical challenge, Baklava is a rich, sweet delight made with layers of filo pastry, with chopped nuts and either syrup and honey. Said to have been around since the 15th Century, Balkava can be served hot or cold – why not try it both ways?
      TRY IT YOURSELF: ‘Karakoy Gulluoglu’ is seen to serve the best Baklava in Istanbul, and even provide an educational video on the history and production of their desserts. Be sure to add this as a stop on your next Turkish city break.
      Which of these desserts is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!


      5 budget winter sun destinations

      Let’s face it, the UK never gets winter right.
      And there’s only so many months we can take of sludge, grey skies and electric blankets. Instead of patiently waiting for April to arrive, many of us just take off somewhere else for a week (or two) to perk up our spirits. Problem is, the later months of the year can get expensive and we’ve already splashed out on our ‘main’ holiday for the year. So we recommend these 5 cheap winter breaks to see you over until spring.
      1. Canary Islands

      No matter what time of year it is, you can always rely on the Canary Islands for a sun-drenched getaway. Even better, they don’t have to cost you the world. With a range of accommodation offers you can stay in a five-star villa or a two-star self-catering apartment. The choice is yours. Keep an eye open for Canary Island deals, as there are always plenty of them floating around.
      2. Gambia

      Gambia might not be a place you’d immediately think of when you picture a relaxing sunshine holiday, but it’s one of the world’s hidden gems. It’s much cheaper than other more established resorts, and you can stay in high-end hotels on a mid-range budget. January is its coldest month, but even then it is a toasty 24°C. You also won’t need a visa if you’re only there for travel.
      Related: A beginner’s guide to the Gambia
      3. Cape Verde

      Savvy travellers have been heading to Cape Verde for a few years now. The beaches are pristine, the landscape not dissimilar to the Canary Islands, and the sunshine beautiful - so it’s not hard to see why. The islands are also home to a unique Creole Portuguese-African culture, which is especially noticeable in the local foodie scene.
      4. Doha

      With new skyscrapers popping up along its glittering coastline, Doha is sometimes hailed as the new Dubai. There’s no pretending that Dubai is a cheap winter sun break, but Doha has many of the same things that attract people to Dubai – at a much cheaper price.
      5. Marrakech

      December is an excellent time to visit Marrakech. The scorching summer heat has now cooled, plus the famous souks and bazars are less busy. Our tip, however, is to dine at the local restaurants rather than the hotels (the opposite to most travel advice, we know) as it’s the hotels who like to hike up the price of a three course meal.


      Where is good to holiday in September?

      If you’re looking to get away in September, you’re in luck. There are very few holiday destinations that don’t impress during the first month of autumn. It’s shoulder season all over the world, with hot temperatures softened by a relaxing breeze and rainy seasons fading out. Plus, it’s the end of the school holidays and most destinations will boast smaller crowds.
      The places we wouldn’t recommend are few and far between, and it might be quicker for us to list of said destinations. But below we’ve rounded up seven destinations that are not only nice in September – but are probably at their absolute peak.
      North Asia

      South Asia is just emerging from its rainy period, but we wouldn’t recommend it quite yet. Japan and the north of China are wonderful in the autumn however. Temperatures in Japan average a high of 26°C in September and a low of 20°C. While Beijing boasts an average high of 26 °C and a low of 14 °C with the rainy season now behind it.
      New England

      We’ve all seen those vibrant photos of New England in the fall. While the famous NYC is awesome all year round, it’s in September that we recommend all of its visitors take an extra week to explore the wider state and New England area. Whether it’s exploring Boston’s rich educational institutions, sampling Main’s freshest lobster or driving the scenic Route 112 through northern New Hampshire.
      Most major cities of Canada and USA

      Whether it’s Vancouver, Seattle, or Chicago – September is the final stretch of sunny weather for these northern cities. While Canada and the northern USA turn into a winter wonderland with Christmas bells and winter sports – summer lovers need to get in there before September ends.
      Central and Western Africa

      September still just manages to include itself in safari season – with Zimbabwe stealing the crown. With warm weather and long days, the watering holes are really popular with animals – especially elephants.

      Northern Africa is also a traveller’s delight in September, including the cultural city of Marrakesh. It’s still far enough south that summer is definitely still in full swing but the winter breeze is beginning to welcome itself to Morocco’s shores allowing for romantic Arabian nights.

      If you’re looking for a quick break to the Mediterranean or a cultural city break, Italy is your best bet. Its southern location makes it a warmer choice than most other European cities, but the onset of autumn makes a day exploring the cities of Rome and Milan more comfortable than in the summer heat.

      Like a few other entries on this list, September is Peru’s shoulder season where the crowds are dying down but the weather is still nice. The slightly cooler weather will lend a hand to active holidaymakers looking to hike the Inca Trail, or climb the rocky stairs of Machu Picchu. The capital city of Lima boasts temperatures somewhere between 17 °C and 21°C and the atmosphere is general dry with little rainfall.
      Where’s your favourite place to visit in September? Let us know in the comments.


      Where should I visit in August?

      It sounds cliché to say, but 2016 is going so fast. Here we are in August with summer beginning to wrap up and autumn not that far away – and everyone looking to squeeze in a final summer break before routine starts to fall on us again. However, August can be a funny one for holidays as summer is just about to close but the cold UK winter hasn’t quite set in either, leaving a debate in people’s minds on where to travel to during this seasonal change. If you have some time off work in August, however, here are our top 5 recommendations.
      Channel Islands

      If you’re looking for a quick family break before the kids go back to school, the Channel Islands are a great low-key choice. With the turquoise waters, champagne-coloured sand and a francophone atmosphere – you’ll feel as though you’re holidaying in southern Europe (even though you’re only an hour from London).
      European Lakes

      Europe as a whole is still bright and sunny in August, and most Mediterranean destinations are still at their peak. However, if you’re looking for something quieter and more relaxed we recommend any of the beautiful scenic lakes in central Europe. The French, German, Swiss, Slovenian and Italian lakes are all lovely in August and – even better - the main tourist crowd has settled down.
      Cairns and Queensland

      Australia has a reputation for being humid and wet during our summer, but Queensland is an exception. It’s an area of Australia that is hot all year round, and August falls within its dry season (daily temperatures are 26.5°C and many Australia who live in the south travel to Cairns for their own winter break).

      We mentioned in our July destination round-up that Canada as a whole is a great holiday option for summer – but Vancouver itself is lovely in August. Its coastal location means that its summer days are more crisp than humid and the scenic views are framed beautifully by the late summer sunset.

      Berlin is a great city break option at any time of year, but August offers a full cultural calendar. The city’s beloved International Beer Festival takes place this month as well as the acclaimed Dance in August, one of Europe’s most important contemporary dance festivals.


      Where’s good to visit in July?

      School’s out and that means it’s holiday season. July is by far one of the most popular months for a sun-drenched getaway - especially for families - and many tourist hotspots open their doors. Obviously the Mediterranean is at its peak during the summer months but what if you’re not looking for that typical summer break and are looking for something alternative? We’ve rounded up the destinations that offer their best weather in July, including places you wouldn’t immediately consider.
      1. Iceland

      Iceland’s ethereal landscape is a must-witness and there’s no better time to explore it than in July as the sun only sets for roughly 4 hours! The darkened hours aren’t even that dark and even resemble twilight hours, a phenomenon known as ‘midnight sun’.
      2. Kenya

      If you’re going to book that once-in-a-lifetime safari to Kenya, organise it for July. This is when the wildebeest start their great migration from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. The stunning coast that overlooks the azure Indian Ocean is also as its best at this time of year.
      3. South Pacific

      Fiji and the other islands in the South Pacific offer some of the best diving experiences in the world. July falls within Fiji’s dry season when the water is at its clearest and on a perfect day you’ll be amazed at the reefs and 1,000 species of fish you’ll find in one quick snorkel session.
      4. Alaska

      Summer isn’t just a beautiful time to visit Alaska’s rugged coastline, it’s logistically easier as cruises only tend to run in the warmer months. And for good reason: local shops are more likely to be open, there’s a wider choice of activities and excursions, plus the wildlife is in abundance (especially bears, who are more likely to be seen hanging out by the rivers thanks to the summer salmon migration).
      5. New Zealand

      Ski enthusiasts don’t have to wait until the Northern Hemisphere is speckled with snowflakes every year. Instead they can head to New Zealand, where the ‘Southern Alps’ are coated with enough snow to make it a sought-after ski and snowboard destination. Mount Dobson, Ohau, Mount Hutt and Coronet Peak are all popular with local and international skiers.
      6. Brazil

      The best time to soak up the energy of Rio de Janeiro and admire the beauty of the Iguazu Falls is actually Brazil’s winter. In the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, temperatures can reach an uncomfortable 40ºC – but July roughly sits at a pleasant 24ºC. It’s also a great month for surfers as the waves rise up on the famous Ipanema beach.
      7. Aruba

      Summer is not the high season in the Caribbean, as there is a higher chance of rain. However, Aruba’s southerly location means that it misses out on the most of rainy forecast and has great weather year round. Strictly speaking Aruba isn’t better in July, it’s merely one of the few Caribbean islands that isn’t in its off-season at this time of year.
      8. Canada

      This beautiful country shares a similar climate to that of Northern Europe and mirrors much of the weather we see during the summer months. Everything is clearer and days are lighter for longer – plus the Rocky Mountaineer routes are in full swing and it’s cruise season along both the east and west coasts.
      9. Scandinavia

      Just like the northern countries of Iceland and Canada, Scandinavia is at its best when the sun shines over the Northern Hemisphere. Whether it’s a city break to Stockholm or Copenhagen , or a cruise through the Baltics or up the Norwegian coast to the North Cape – there are plenty of opportunities for an enjoyable break to Scandinavia with good weather.
      10. UK

      If you’re a sun-lover, maybe leave the sunshine holiday until the winter and make the most the UK’s best month by staying put. July is by far one of the best months to explore what the UK has to offer – whether it’s a trip into London, a beach break to Cornwall, a countryside escape to Wales or a weekend away exploring Scotland’s historical sites.


      7 extra luxuries you'll find in Delta One

      Flights between Glasgow and New York clock in around 7 hours, meaning that you’ll want your flight to be as comfortable as possible. Delta Air Lines fly to the USA from the UK up to 15 times a day, including their new Glasgow route, operated in partnership with Virgin Atlantic (and connecting flights to 200 destinations across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean). And they know that 7 hours in the sky isn’t everyone’s idea of relaxation, so they’ve created Delta One® with amenities that make the jump across the pond an enjoyable experience.
      Here are some examples of the little extras that make all the difference.
      Extra luggage allowance
      Booking a seat in a premium class cabin isn’t just about making your journey more comfortable; it’s also about improving your holiday with more luggage space for multiple outfits and souvenirs. In Delta One® passengers can check in two bags that are 32kg each.
      Attentive extras
      Delta One® goes the extra mile to anticipate your needs. Onboard comforts include in-seat power with USB outlets, larger entertainment screens, noise-cancelling headphones, and TUMI amenity kit featuring Kiehl’s deluxe skin care products.
      Flat-bed seats
      Book yourself a seat in Delta One®, and have plenty of time to catch up on beauty sleep with a 180˚ flat-bed seat and comfortable Westin-Heavenly® In-Flight Bedding.
      Delta Air Lines operate the largest Wi-Fi enabled fleet in the USA, allowing you to surf all the way to the USA and stay connected to work, news, family and friends from take-off to touch down.
      Sit back, relax and enjoy entertainment tailored for you, with personal seat-back screens and the free Delta Studio® in-flight streaming service, where hundreds of the very latest movies and TV shows can be delivered direct to your mobile device or tablet to enjoy as you cross the Atlantic.
      Personal service
      Feel well-taken care of, with attentive and personalised service from a dedicated Delta One® cabin flight attendant. Whatever you need, Delta flight attendants will be ready to assist. 
      Refined dining
      Enjoy exceptional service and a refined dining experience with a selection of regionally tailored chef-curated meals, paired with wines selected by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson.
      For a taste of America passengers flying Delta One business class will enjoy a delicious vanilla ice cream sundae with a choice of toppings including whipped cream, strawberry or chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of nuts.


      10 great value destinations with amazing exchange rates

      There are many factors that go into making up the overall cost of a holiday, with local prices and exchange rates being one them. And if you’re looking to jet off somewhere for as low a cost as possible, choosing a destination where you’ll get as much local currency for your pound as possible is a great budgeting strategy.
      At Barrhead Travel, our dedicated Foreign Exchange team keep a close eye on fluctuating exchange rates and the Bureaus found in our branches have a range of currencies available to exchange straight away, with even more available to order in. The team have kindly put together this list of destinations that have super cheap local activities and a great exchange rate.

      The Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires is a lively city with ongoing parties every night, and you won’t need to break your purse-strings in order to keep up. The pounds goes 50% further in Argentina than it did two years ago, meaning you can sip many glasses of that famed wine.

      South America clearly knows how to treat its budget travellers. While you still need to be careful with hiked up prices on typical tourist activities, you’ll receive roughly three Brazilian Real for one British Pound and there’s a world of inexpensive wonders to be found if you detour away from the main streets of Rio.

      Bulgaria has risen to be the go-to budget beach escape of Europe in recent years. Hotels, food and drink are all cheap anyway, but the favourable exchange rate doesn’t hurt either.
      Dominican Republic

      Moving into the warm waters of the Caribbean islands now. If you’re looking to visit this paradise-esque part of the world without breaking the bank, we recommend the Dominican Republic. This resort and tourist friendly island is home to several mid-range hotels and a fantastic exchange rate – roughly 58 Dominican Peso for one British Pound.

      Mexico is an all-round holiday destination with great sunshine, sparkling beaches, fascinating ruins and a great exchange rate. Currently you’ll get about 23 Mexican Peso for your pound and it is home to one of the world’s cheapest subway systems.

      While most of South East Asia has extremely favourable exchange rates for British travellers, Vietnam still comes out on top. The cost of hotels and flights aren’t as high as its popular neighbour Thailand, plus you can get roughly at whopping 28,319 Vietnamese ***** for one British Pound.   

      While Norway – like its Scandinavian neighbours – is known for its high cost of living, the exchange rate helps make it easier on the purse strings. Currently you’ll get roughly 10 Norwegian Krone for your pound – which is the best in Northern Europe.

      Krakow has become a popular European holiday destination in recent years with travellers looking for a budget city break. Home to unique architecture, castles, churches and market squares, you’ll have roughly 5 Polish Zloty to your pound to spend.
      South Africa

      South Africa is one of the best-value destinations in the world thanks to its low cost of living and a great exchange rate. You’ll receive roughly 17 South African Rand for your Pound right now, so you won’t need to miss out on discovering everything this gem of a country has to offer – from Game Reserves to wine tours.

      While the word safari doesn’t automatically appear to be synonymous with a budget holiday, Kenya is another African nation with a great exchange rate and low cost of living. Just like South Africa, you’ll need expert advice on getting a cheap flight but once you’re there you’ll have plenty of money to spend on holiday activities as well as a nice hotel.


      Best destinations, resorts and cruises for families with teenagers

      Teenagers are the hardest family member to please. This is especially true when it comes to organising a holiday – pick the right one and you’ll have a great time; pick the wrong one and, well, you’ll probably get told straight up it the was the wrong choice…
      Thankfully there are lot of destinations, resorts and cruises that cater to the teenage demographic. Whether you have a 13-18 year old who craves adventure and theme parks, or one that wants to be left alone to chill, there is a holiday out there for them. Have a look at the following options for some inspiration.
      Beaches Resorts

      While the Caribbean as a whole conjures up mental images of honeymoons and couples retreats, Beaches Resorts brings family-friendly holidays to this sunny climate. There’s three resorts (two on Jamaica and one on Turks and Caicos) and on-site activities and features include a waterpark, scuba diving, championship golf, Scratch DJ Academy, Xbox Play Lounge, the teen-only Club Liquid, and a plethora of land based sports including volleyball, pool tables, and tennis. Perfect if you have two teenagers with conflicting interests!

      Did we need to tell you that Orlando is great for children of all ages? The choices are virtually limitless, with iconic theme parks, first-class shopping, great beaches less than an hour’s drive away, and night-time entertainment – there’s plenty to keep teenagers from boredom.
      Royal Caribbean Cruise

      Long gone are the days when cruises were for your grandparents. Royal Caribbean are leading the way in proving that cruising can be for all the family with on-board activities including surf-simulators, climbing walls, basketball, mini-golf, Scratch DJ Academy, and a dedicated teen venue with a nightly teen disco.
      MSC Cruise

      If your teenager prefers to keep it low-key and wouldn’t get on a surf machine even if it would save their life, try MSC Cruises as a calmer but teen-friendly alternative. The on-board spa has its own dedicated teen menu and parents can top up a spare band with spending money – so their teenager can do their own thing, but still within a budget set by their parents.
      Hard Rock Hotels

      Hard Rock Hotels boast excellent facilities for children and teenagers, and with locations all over the globe your destination won’t be limited to your teenager’s temperament. Amenities differ from resort to resort but examples of what you can expect are mini-golf, several pools, climbing wall and private beaches.
      New York City

      If your teen isn’t warming to the idea of a beach holiday or cruise – maybe they would like a city break? And there’s no better city break experience than New York City. Rent a cool Brooklyn apartment, then spend your days shopping at trendy outlets, seeing some of the world’s most famous landmarks and taking the best holiday selfies for the family album.

      A safari is a great choice for adventurous families. There’s definitely no chance of boredom and for image conscious teenagers, there’s no doubting they’ll have the best holiday stories out of their friends.
      PortAventura and FerrariLand

      For teenagers who love a theme park thrill, treat them to a holiday at Europe’s newest park: FerrariLand. Built within the PortAventura World Resort, rides include the Thrill Towers, where one free falls and the other bounces back! Younger siblings will also love the main PortAventura Park and its Sesame Street characters, while all the family will love the Caribe Aquatic Park. It’s also within easy distance of Barcelona!
      French Alps

      The French Alps is not the only ski destination in Europe, but the alpine resorts found here offer amazing facilities for all the family. And during the summer months they turn into a different kind of adventure playground including mountain biking, bungee jumping and canoeing.
      Dubai Parks and Resorts

      With four theme parks and one waterpark, Dubai Parks and Resorts offers something for all the family. Teenagers especially will love MOTIONGATE™ Dubai and the rides based on films such as Zombieland, The Hunger Games and Ghostbusters.


      Top 10 Winter Sun Destinations

      In the depths of British winter, your summer holiday can seem like a distant memory. As the nights start to draw in, you find yourself dreaming of the day when you can dust off your suitcase and take off for some long-awaited sunshine. Fortunately, there’s no need to wait until the summer to get your much needed boost of Vitamin D!
      There are an abundance of destinations worldwide that boast year round summers, with plentiful sunshine and an ample selection of flights from the UK.
      1. Costa Rica

      January through to February is the perfect time to visit Costa Rica, with highs of 27 degrees. This tropical climate sees very little rainfall at the beginning of the year, but always be prepared for the occasional shower within Rainforest territory!
      This is also a prime time for wildlife watching! The chance of spotting baby turtles is high right at the end of nesting season, with Californian Humpback whales and their calves frequently spotted off the coast!
      With direct flights now available from the UK, there’s never been a better time to embark on a Costa Rican adventure!
      2. Seychelles

      There’s never a bad time to visit Seychelles! This spellbindingly tropical island typically offers uninterrupted sunshine and average temperatures of between 24 & 32 degrees.
      February - March time is ideal for visiting this picture-perfect paradise. Straight after the rainy season, the island is bursting with luscious foliage and breath-taking scenery.
      Snorkelling, diving and sailing are on offer all year round , making this the perfect winter escape for the adventurous traveller.
      3. Cuba

      Cuba enjoys a fantastic climate all year round.  December – February is the best time to visit for maximum sunshine, with highs of 25 degrees and very little rainfall. Perfect for an action packed getaway to beat the winter blues!
      Havana is a historic hot bed, its streets bursting with history and retro motor vehicles. Or, to add a more Caribbean twist to your Cuban getaway, Cayo Largo de Sur boasts stretches of white sand and wide spread coral reefs, perfect for sun seeking and deep sea diving.
      4. Tenerife

      Tenerife boasts highs of 22 degrees from October through to December, with direct flights from various UK airports!
      Unsurprisingly, it is extremely popular with British tourists during the winter months, with many families choosing to spend Christmas and New Year unwinding in the Canaries.
      Moreover, there’s still plenty to do at this time of year. The islands legendary Siam Park remains open from 10-5 daily, and December plays host to a number of Christmas-themed markets and processions across the Island.
      5. Melbourne

      Many jet-setters and sun seekers head to Australia in the New Year, with temperatures in January and February averaging a sweltering 30 degrees.
      One for the sporting fanatics, the city is bustling with activity at the beginning of the year! The Australian open starts on the 16th of January, along with a multitude of cycling events and cricket matches to kick start the year!
      6. Orlando

      Amidst Orlando’s many attractions is its fantastic weather, with highs of 22 degrees in December. The destination has steadily increased in popularity amongst UK tourists, and is now a regular choice for families spending Christmas abroad.
      We can see why! in December, Orlando’s many theme parks transform into winter wonderlands, hosting enchanting festive events and activities which perfectly complements the mild climate – Christmas with a twist!
      Furthermore, visiting at this time will allow you to avoid January and February peak times which make the destination busier and more expensive to visit.
      7. Cancun

      With highs of 25 degrees, November through to January is the perfect time to escape to Mexico. Avoiding the rainy season, visitors are free to embrace the hours upon hours of daily sunshine.
      A cultural mecca meets party capital, there’s plenty to do during a winter getaway. Whether it be frequenting the island’s nightlife scene with a visit to the infamous Coco Bongo or taking a historic tour to the Cichén Itzá, it’s a destination which satisfies all tastes.
      8. Dubai

      The end of December through to February is the perfect time for a post-Christmas trip to the UAE, with temperatures hovering between 25 and 30 degrees.
      Aside from its dazzling sunshine and alluring beaches, this destination is bursting with enough activities and events to create an action-packed winter sun escape. New Year’s Eve sees a fireworks display unlike any other, the Al Ain Zoo is a day–trip not to be missed, and the Dubai Mall is a true shopping paradise!
      9. Koh Samui

      With this Thai Island boasting an average of 27 degrees from November through to February,  Koh Samui is becoming ever more popular as a winter sun spot.
      A destination where luxury meets culture and tradition, this dazzling expanse of white sands and crystal waters is scattered with a combination of luxury retreats, natural wonders and cultural must-sees.
      The islands infamous Big Buddah Temple demands a visit, whilst the cascading waterfalls and ‘ Grandmother and Grandfather’ rocks are awe-inspiring works of nature.
      10. Cape Verde

      This desert meets tropical haven offers a plethora of activities for the winter sun seeker. With highs of 24 degrees in January and February, Cape Verde boasts 10 volcanic islets, lunar-like landscapes and out of this world white sand beaches.
      In addition to the perfect wind-surfing weather this archipelago also boasts magnificent mountain ranges and natural parks, making it perfect for wizened trekkers and beach seekers alike.

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