Travel with a mate http://www.travelwithamate.com The Online travel blog written by over 180 bloggers and writers from around the world Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:20:31 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Great ways to enjoy Johannesburg http://www.travelwithamate.com/great-ways-to-enjoy-johannesburg/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/great-ways-to-enjoy-johannesburg/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:58:27 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26525 With the Rainbow Nation really starting to open up to tourism, many visitors will be keen to visit the city that is considered the heart the nation – Johannesburg. The city, which is also known as Jozi or Jo’burg, is the largest metropolis in South Africa and it enjoys a warm and sunny climate along […]

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With the Rainbow Nation really starting to open up to tourism, many visitors will be keen to visit the city that is considered the heart the nation – Johannesburg.

The city, which is also known as Jozi or Jo’burg, is the largest metropolis in South Africa and it enjoys a warm and sunny climate along with a fantastic array of attractions to explore.

Jozi history

For a city that has survived the terrible history of Apartheid, Johannesburg is surprisingly upbeat. This is especially so in light of the moving story told at the Apartheid Museum that provides a thought-provoking analysis of the nation’s history in the confines of a highly modernist building.

Hillbrow Johannesburg

And a brief walk around the central business district will illustrate South Africa’s success story with Johannesburg playing a key role as Africa’s economic powerhouse. This is seen by a range of closely packed skyscrapers providing a truly impressive skyline, and the Carlton Centre in particular offers stunning views across the city from its observation deck on the 50th floor.

Jo’burg casino style

Since the fall of Apartheid, South Africa has become a hot spot for those who enjoy gambling with many casino resorts such as Montecasino popping up just north of Johannesburg offering a huge variety of entertainment.

Things to do in Jo'Burg

The casino has several promotions on to entice customers, but if you aren’t feeling confident in your gambling abilities, then there are online slot options that allow you to play for free to get a feel for the game before wagering any real money!

Green spaces

For a country with such a great reputation for its wildlife, it’s good to know that Johannesburg is one of the greenest cities in the world.

Interesting places in Joburg

This has been achieved through some notable outdoor attractions such as the Johannesburg Botanical Garden that contains over 10,000 roses, as well as the popular Johannesburg Zoo that showcases the best in the nation’s wildlife without having to head out on safari!

Shopping opportunities

If you’re looking to make some local purchases, then Johannesburg has an impressive range of shops for you to peruse. There are upmarket shopping malls boasting all of the brands you could wish for at Nelson Mandela Square and Sandton City.

Reasons to go to Johannesburg

And for those seeking something a little more unique, then a visit to the Rosebank Flea Market has an eye opening range of African art available. Whereas the renowned Mai Mai market offers everything that you could wish for in terms of traditional healing products, and is located appropriately enough in Ezinyangeni – ‘the place of the healers’.

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Croatia Travel Itinerary – My best places to visit http://www.travelwithamate.com/croatia-island-itinerary/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/croatia-island-itinerary/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:38:13 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26516 Croatia is a country that has seen a boom in tourism over the past decade. With some of Europe’s most beautiful coastline and more than its fair share of UNESCO World Heritage sites its great Croatia finally getting the recognition it deserves. There’s a lot to see and do here but if you’re like me […]

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Croatia is a country that has seen a boom in tourism over the past decade. With some of Europe’s most beautiful coastline and more than its fair share of UNESCO World Heritage sites its great Croatia finally getting the recognition it deserves. There’s a lot to see and do here but if you’re like me you’ll be pushed for time and want to make the most of time in this culturally and historically rich nation. So with this in mind I’ve put together an itinerary covering some of the best of Croatia and also some hidden wonders in between. You should be able to cover this journey within one week but if you have more time I urge you to slow down and soak up the sights. You wont regret it in Croatia!

Start – Dubrovnik

They say save the best until last but many would say Dubrovnik is one of the best places to visit in Croatia, its also one of the most accessible with daily flights to Croatia arriving from all over Europe. This walled city celebrates some of the beauty and history of Croatia and is filled with plenty to explore. The beautiful white-stone buildings are extremely photogenic and there’s plenty to see and do here too. Definitely take in at least some of the city wall tour, some 2 kilometres long and 22 metres high, giving you great views of the town. The best time is in the afternoon when the sun is starting to drop and temperatures are a little cooler.

Dubrovnik

There’s a fabulous cable car to the peak of the hill above Dubrovnik with more great views. Remember to take your camera! For some of the best fish you’ll ever eat head to the restaurants close to the harbour. You can also kayak out to the Elafiti islands, or get a ferry if you’re feeling lazy. Definitely worth the excursion. Make the most of your evenings in Dubrovnik too as there are plenty of tiny bars and restaurants hidden up unsuspecting alleyways.

With so much worth seeing I’d recommend at least 2 full days in Dubrovnik before moving on to your next Croatian destination!

Korcula Island

The popularity of Dubrovnik can be a little overwhelming at times but you’ll feel right at home on the island of Korcula. Its green and lush woodland peaks offer beautiful views of the Adriatic sea and Croatian coastline, while the fertile lands of the island are home to local farmers and small villages. its here that you can get back to nature and explore a few quiet settlements, with numerous fishing villages along its coastline and red rooted homes dotted on the hillsides.

Korcula Island, Croatia

There’s also plenty of water sports available here and tourism is slowly growing with modest but great value accommodation. Korcula town is where you’re likely to visit first and there’s plenty of excursions from here to help you view all that the island has to offer. Its an island just shouting to be explored so take some comfortable walking shoes and worry about sleep when you’re back on the main land.

Again its probably best to have at least 2 full days here to take in both the old town and some amazing excursions further in land.

Hvar

Often referred to as the Queen of the Islands, Hvar has a rich mixture of landscapes and architecture too. Some of the most beautiful beaches can be found here with some dramatic cliffs too. The atmosphere here is distinctly relaxed and slow where even the locals appear as if they’re on holiday. Locals often claim Hvar is one of the sunniest place in Europe but the tourist crowds have yet to discover this fact.

hvar town croatia

The beaches are never crowded, the cobbled streets are free of hustle and bustle. The loudest thing on the island would be the ferries taking people to nearby islands, equally as beautiful as Hvar is. Its a real hidden paradise that you’ll always feel sad leaving. You can of course head out over the island and check out the many vineyards, olive groves and lavender lined streets of nearby villages, or you could just relax at one of the most picturesque of outdoor cafes, order a glass of wine, enjoy the view and read a good book.

Hvar Island, Croatia

Time here can easily slip away so if you’re looking for a break from busy days elsewhere on your trip you’ll no doubt lose a few days here. A night will recharge your spiritual batteries, a day or two is meditation for the soul.

Finish – Split

Heading further north on our beautiful Croatian itinerary, we end our travels in the city of Split. Here you’ll find a colourful mixture of old and new. Where the ancient history of this nation meets the modern day head-on. Once the city was a proud and powerful Palace, since ruined (and worth visiting) some 190,000 people call Split home, and who could blame them?! Diocletian, the Roman Emperor  in 295AD ordered a palace to be built here where he would spend his last remaining days. These days its a UNESCO world heritage site and one of Split’s top tourist attractions. Its also free to enter so a must while you’re here.

diocletian palace

A walk along the Riva Promenade is another must although the signs call it “Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda”. A great place to people watch and see the cute little boats bobbing around in the water. The walkway was recently renovated and is a great place to relax, take in the sites, sounds and smells of this great city. There’s plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry here too so you’ll no doubt want to spend maybe an afternoon and evening here. If you’re feeling active a brisk walk up Marjan Hill it worth it for the views and the greenery too.

riva promenade, Split

The beaches here are a must too with Bacvice Beach and Kasjuni Beach being two of my favourites. The first being a more young and lively affair while the latter is definitely more peaceful and relaxing. I would recommend 2 or 3 days here if you have time. A mixture of active and relaxing days to end your wonderful Croatian experience. I guarantee you’ll love Croatia!

 

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The best cities to visit in Australia http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-cities-australia/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-cities-australia/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:55:17 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26509 Australia is one of the world’s most desired countries to take a holiday to. It is often regarded as the holiday destination for everyone, whether you are the adventurous type, love culture or prefer a more relaxed approach; there is just so much to do. Due to this, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by how […]

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Australia is one of the world’s most desired countries to take a holiday to. It is often regarded as the holiday destination for everyone, whether you are the adventurous type, love culture or prefer a more relaxed approach; there is just so much to do. Due to this, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by how much Australia has to offer to tourists. Luckily however, there are places to visit in Australia that have it all; here are the top destinations in Australia for any holiday-goer:

Sydney

There is a reason why the state capital of New South Wales is so popular amongst tourists, Sydney is a marvel of urban sophistication. With the iconic Opera House, street performances in Circular Quay and Museum of Contemporary Art, this is a place particularly for the culture-minded.

Sydney

Melbourne

The perfect place to go if you are looking for the history savvy, Melbourne is home to the gorgeous Royal Botanical Gardens and a centre for the visual arts. Marvel at the Australian and Aboriginal history this city has to offer, or for something more family-orientated, head to the Healesville Sanctuary to coo over Australia’s native animals such as the Koala and Kangaroos.

Melbourne

Brisbane

The third largest city in Australia, Brisbane perfectly depicts Queensland aestheticism. Visit the historic Windmill and Old Commissariat store built in 1828 for a slice of culture, although the Brisbane River is also a definite must-see, especially for first timers. With so much to see here, if ever in doubt, Hello Sunshine gives great advice and information on this picturesque location.

Brisbane

Perth

For those looking for something a bit livelier, Perth is definitely the place to visit. The infectious nightlife will make you dance till dawn in some of the hottest clubs catered to every taste, while also giving you the chance to sample some of the local delicacies. In contrast, the beaches are a great excuse to try your hand at surfing and snorkelling.

Perth

All of these locations are home to some of the largest attractions that Australia has to offer, for every type of traveller. Fortunately, Flight Centre allows you to visit all of these destinations with little hassle, and even provides the widest choice of airfares on sale in the UK. For more information on Flight Centre’s offers on destinations in Australia, be sure to visit their website.

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The 10 Most Romantic Places to Explore in Paris http://www.travelwithamate.com/the-10-most-romantic-places-to-explore-in-paris/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/the-10-most-romantic-places-to-explore-in-paris/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:21:55 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26496 Paris is known to be the most romantic place in the world. It is not surprising that you would want to visit it with the person you love. If you are a romantic at heart, then you will enjoy these 10 most romantic places in Paris. Paris at Night Paris by night must be one […]

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Paris is known to be the most romantic place in the world. It is not surprising that you would want to visit it with the person you love. If you are a romantic at heart, then you will enjoy these 10 most romantic places in Paris.

Paris at Night

Paris by night must be one of the most romantic sights you could ever see. Explore Paris with Musement and you will be taken to the most romantic places in Paris. Sites seen in the daytime take on new meaning when lit up against the dark skies above. Plan now and have more time for fun in Paris.

Paris at night

Eiffel Tower

This is a must-go place to visit when in Paris. Remember the romantic movies Sleepless in Seattle, Forget Paris, and Moulin Rouge – yes, love (and love scenes) happens here! Indeed, when in Paris, never miss going to the very top of the Eiffel Tower to declare your love.

Eiffel Tower

Louvre

The Louvre has just about every famous painting you’ve ever wanted to see. Find out what your own masterpiece wants to see and view it together.

Louvre Paris

Montmartre

Montmartre is a place set on a hill North of Paris. It has some breathtaking views of the city; thus, couples love to wander around the cafes and shops. You can also find studios where a few well known 19th century artists like Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh used to work.

Montmatre, Paris

Notre Dame

No Cathedral is as famous as the Notre Dame. Victor Hugo wrote about the Hunchback in a way no one can forget. Climb 140 steps to see the bells that chime for Paris every day.

Notre Dame, Paris

The Palace of Versailles

About 20 kilometers outside of the city, the Palace of Versailles is the epitome of royal indulgence, Hall of Mirrors included. Now that the beheadings are over, it’s a beautiful palace and garden that couples should not miss.

Palace of Versailles

Cafe de Flore

A street-side cafe in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Café de Flore has probably been featured in 99 out of 100 travelogues. Really, any outdoor cafe on the street is an entertainment in itself, so have a cafe au lait and enjoy.

Fafe de Flore

Le Coup Chou

Romantic dining is a must, and Le Coup Chou has it. Go to 11 Rue de Lanneau near the Sorbonne — this restaurant has traditional French food and wine in a 14th century building.

Le Coupe Chou

Le Pont Neuf

This oldest bridge over the Seine is definitely worth a stroll with your loved one. More than 400 years old, it crosses the Ile de la Cite where you visit Notre Dame. Other than this, there is also a medieval Paris walking tour illuminating the history of the city with tales of the randy Henry IV.

pont neuf

Musee d’Orsay

Stand in the Musee d’Orsay and peer out through the giant clock at spectacular views of the Seine and beyond. See the stellar art, too. Most romantic spots in paris

 

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How to manage your money whilst on a long-term holiday http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-manage-your-money-whilst-on-a-long-term-holiday/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-manage-your-money-whilst-on-a-long-term-holiday/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 07:36:50 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=21327 It’s been a fair while since I took an extended holiday anywhere, not having had the luxury of time I had when I took my Gap Year. Now the time has come for me to look at holidays for longer than a week or two at a time, I have to confess I’d forgotten the […]

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It’s been a fair while since I took an extended holiday anywhere, not having had the luxury of time I had when I took my Gap Year. Now the time has come for me to look at holidays for longer than a week or two at a time, I have to confess I’d forgotten the amount of options that are available when it comes to sorting banking, money and cards for that trip. Having jumped into the world of finance, here’s what I discovered is the best solutions for long term travel.

Currency Concerns

saving money while travelingWhen I travelled to Canada recently, I decided to split my money into two. Half of the money I converted into dollars before we left, which meant lots of time spent shopping around for the best exchange rate. As I was getting paid mid way through my trip, I then decided that I would use my normal bank account for anything extra that I needed once (because I am a bit of a shopaholic) my dollars ran out.

Now for a week’s break, that’s absolutely fine and as it was, I didn’t use my bank card too much. However, the case was very different when I visited during my gap year and stayed for just over 5 weeks. The difference between withdrawing 5 weeks of money compared to 1 is enormous and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable in carrying that much money around with me. Obviously I had my bank card, but there are fees attached to taking money from ATMs which soon add up on a long trip. Travellers cheques are an option but again, there’s the concern of carrying so much money at one time.

Banking Abroad

get an international bank accountWith the internet linking the world up at the click of the button, it has never been easier for companies to expand abroad and now the big brands of international banks have branches and connections across the globe. This is great news for us travellers, opening up many doors to feel secure with our holiday money when we see banks we recognise. The comfort and security of home goes a long way when you’re thousands of miles away.

The great thing about these international bank accounts is that not only are they easy to set up, but they also ensure there are no charge fees from ATMs as well as allowing transfers into the account on the off chance you underestimated your spending! In this day and age of Internet Banking, an international bank account ensures that you have access to paying those everyday bills that still need to be paid, as well as access to the account 24/7. Using an international bank account helps protect against any fluctuations in the currency rates which is a clear advantage over credit cards which can feel like a game of chance when it comes to rates.

Making your money go further

An increasingly popular way to save money right now is to make use of Voucher websites like VoucherBin.co.uk where you can search for vouchers, promotional codes and discounts on all sorts of products. I managed to save money on hotel accommodation, flights, even a new suitcase I needed too. Definitely worth considering if you want your money to last a little longer on your big trip. The internet really has made it possible to travel further for longer, helping me manage my money while I travel and find discounts easily too!

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A weekend in Seville – My guide http://www.travelwithamate.com/weekend-seville-guide/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/weekend-seville-guide/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:03:21 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26412 Seville is a place I’ve always wanted to visit and thanks to a recent press trip from British Airways and Tourism Spain I got my wish granted. It’s an interesting mix of cultures and architecture from both Muslim and Christian origins and was built on the river Guadalquivir as a port to ship olive oil.  It’s also […]

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Seville is a place I’ve always wanted to visit and thanks to a recent press trip from British Airways and Tourism Spain I got my wish granted. It’s an interesting mix of cultures and architecture from both Muslim and Christian origins and was built on the river Guadalquivir as a port to ship olive oil.  It’s also the place that Christopher Columbus set off for America from and he stored his goods here before exporting them all over Europe. Over the centuries it’s become a haven for artists that made Seville their home and created some beautiful buildings, paintings and even Operas. With so much to take in I was really looking forward to this trip!

Getting there in style

British AirwaysI had the pleasure of being on the inaugural British Airways flight from London Gatwick in England direct to Seville. It takes just 2 hours 45 minutes and there’s now flights 5 days a week too. I was treated to some very tasty food on board, afternoon tea served on the way there and a choice of Thai beef curry or pasta salad and Salmon on the way home.  Being an inaugural flight were lucky enough to get a water cannon salute on arrival which was quite the entrance! It definitely made me want to be on more inaugural flights! Quite a sight! Thank you to jaalmarza for his photo.

Where to stay in Seville

where to stay in sevilleI had 3 nights at the FonteCruz Sevilla Hotel.  The hotel was right in the city, on the edge of the Jewish quarter, about a 5 minute walk from the Cathedral.  The hotel is very stylishly decorated with an outdoor swimming pool which is open 6 months of the year.  The whole of Seville is walkable from here making this an ideal location for sightseeing! The restaurant does a wonderful array of food with dogfish being my favourite discovery on this trip. Something I’ll definitely be trying again on my return to Spain.

I also had the pleasure of visiting the Hacienda De Orán which is only half an hours drive from Seville in the plains near to the town of Utrera.  Definitely something a little different away from the busy city life. There are 19 rooms all decorated individually with antique Spanish pieces.  It’s a very quiet location with a lovely pool and beautiful views. Worth considering if you prefer the smaller towns on your travels.

What to see

The Royal Alcazar

The Royal Alcazar and the Cathedral were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987 and its the oldest royal palace in Europe. The official residence of the Spanish royal family when in Seville too which makes this a must during any visit.  The palace is a complex of historical buildings with each of them built at different points in time. The first part for instance was built over a thousand years ago during the reign of the Moorish King.

places to go in sevilleThe most beautiful room for me was definitely the the Ambassadors room.  In this room the King would have received his guests and no doubt impress them greatly.

The bottom half of the walls are ceramic with plaster on top with moulds used to form Arabic writing.  You may even recognise this room as it featured in the TV series Game of Thrones in October of 2014.

I found the gardens wonderful and could have spent most of the morning sitting and watching the tourists enjoy the views.  The oranges that grow in the garden here are sent to Buckingham Palace and made into Marmalade. A wonderful tradition that has continued for centuries.

The Cathedral of Seville

The Cathedral was originally built as a mosque in the 12th Century but all that remains now is the Orange Tree Courtyard and minaret.  Entrance for the Cathedral including access to the tower is 9 Euros and you’ll need at least an hour to get the most out of your visit.  Going up the tower was easy as there are 35 ramps rather than hundreds of steps to get you to the top.  The views over the city are fabulous, day and night. Definitely a highlight of my time in Seville.

Plaza Del España

what to see in sevilleBuilt for the Iberian exhibition of 1929 the Plaza Del España is an awesome sight.  With a manmade river running through it on which you can row and 4 bridges over the river towards the impressive fountain in the centre.

Around the edge of the Plaza are tiled depictions of each province of Spain with plenty of Spanish tourists searching for their province.  There is a map of each one and a picture which is a wonderful depiction of Spanish history.

It’s such a beautiful Plaza with photo opportunities from so many angles. Definitely worth a visit on your trip to Seville!

Opera Tour

One of the tours we embarked on was centred around Sevillian Operas and locations of special importance.  The 3 Operas we paid particular attention to were Carmen, The Barber of Seville and Don Juan/Giovanni. Don Juan was a trickster so the opera is often performed at Halloween and is the longest uninterrupted performance of an opera too. Its been played every year since 1787. The tour took in some interesting sights with fantastic background information and truly stunning performances from the singer. It really brought them to life. Our guide from www.sevillaofficialtours.com was excellent and was an entirely unique way to take a walking tour of a city.

Eating out

Mercado Lonja del Barranco

where to eat in sevilleThis was definitely my favourite lunchtime spot.  A posh food court where each “stall” specialises in a different food, from cheese, damon and prawns to oysters and champagne.  You go up and buy a plate or 2, take it back to your table and share it with friends! Simple.  If each person in your group gets a different item it works really well.  We sat outside and the whole area was buzzing even when I left at 4pm. Locals love to take their time when it comes to food and drink. The atmosphere is as important as the food.

El Rinconcillo Bar

Established in 1670 this is one of the oldest Tapas bars in Seville.  A great place to either hang out at the bar for a snack or enjoy a more formal occasion sat within the restaurant.  The food here was very typical of Seville with beef cheeks and honey fried aubergine.  Open from 1pm to 1.30am eating on Spanish time is a must.

Besana Tapas

best tapas in spainNoted by many as one of the best tapas restaurants in Spain you’ll find the Besana Tapas about 30km outside of Seville in the town of Utrera, situated in the Jewish Quarter.  The tapas arrives well presented and the popular restaurant has a modern atmosphere with white walls and dark wood tables and chairs.  There’s a bar that wraps round the front of the restaurant, which also includes high bar tables and stools on the side. The prices are reasonable making it easy for you to sample a lot of the menu even if there is just the 2 of you.  Definitely try their mini burger and the cannelloni.  A very popular dish with regular clientele is the Oxtail meatloaf.

Evening out

Museum of Flamenco Dancing

best flamenco in SevilleThis is a great introduction to everything Flamenco with the museum showing the progression over the centuries with lots of interesting video presentations. The Flamenco teacher Cristina Hoyos takes part in the shows and also has a school for those that are keen to learn and participate.

The highlight for me was the 1 hour show which was filled with passion and intensity.  I was enthralled by the performance of the dancers as well as the singer and guitarist.  Each person has a solo section showing off their particular skills and its definitely a very captivating experience. Museum admittance including the show is €24 and there’s a bar too for a drink after the show.

Casa de la Guitarra

A tiny little venue owned by a man who is definitely passionate about guitars! With a collection of about 100 guitars there’s plenty to see here with the oldest dating back as far as 1840.  Its a small and intimate place and in the evenings they have their own Flamenco shows with the owner José Luis Postigo on guitar, of course.  No microphones are used as the acoustics are perfect without them. A quirky little place that will definitely give you some fond memories from your trip to Seville. Tickets to the show are €17 with 2 sessions every night of the week, at 7 and 9pm.

Thank you Seville!

I think its true to say that Seville is a quintessentially “Spanish” city losing none of its local charm to modern European living. Getting around is very easy and there’s so much to do here I’d recommend a full week to take it all in. If like me you only have a weekend then its entirely possible to have a very memorable experience in Seville. With the new British Airways flights from Gatwick, getting there is easy!

A huge thank you to British Airways and the Spanish Tourist Office for making this trip possible. For more information on Spain visit www.spain.info and for the latest deals on flights to Seville from Gatwick Airport check out www.britishairways.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Planning a ski trip in the French Alps http://www.travelwithamate.com/planning-a-ski-trip-in-the-french-alps/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/planning-a-ski-trip-in-the-french-alps/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:06:26 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26465 With stunning views and the best ski slopes in Europe, the Alps are always a thrilling place to visit. They are the perfect place to enjoy the brilliance of the summer sun while enjoying your favourite winter sports. If you’re thinking of travelling there this year, how should you go about making your plans? Planning […]

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With stunning views and the best ski slopes in Europe, the Alps are always a thrilling place to visit. They are the perfect place to enjoy the brilliance of the summer sun while enjoying your favourite winter sports. If you’re thinking of travelling there this year, how should you go about making your plans?

Planning your packing

How much ski gear you need to take with you will depend on where you are going to stay. It is possible to hire gear at most resorts, which often makes things much easier as you travel, especially if you are flying. However, it is well worth having your own ski boots for that perfect fit and a comfortable pair of shoes for hiking or for exploring the towns and villages. Layering up is the best way to conserve heat and still have light clothes ready for other activities – and for travelling. Make sure you buy breathable fabrics rather than thick materials, you’ll soon find that skiing is quite a hot and sweaty sport so being able to lose a few layers quickly is the key. Whenever you’re in doors you’ll often find its warm and cosy so be prepared for freezing temperatures as well as warm ones!

Packing for skiing. What to take.

Choosing your route

There are many different ways to reach the Alps. You can fly direct to Chambéry-Savoie or Grenoble-Isere, a practical choice if you don’t have much time for your break, but this sadly means missing out on some great views along the way. If you take a cross-Channel ferry or travel by Eurostar, you can take trains between some of France’s most attractive cities or drive down through beautiful countryside. It all depends how much time and money you have for your trip. If driving is your thing then I can highly recommend travelling by road as its a beautiful part of the world and you’ll have the freedom of a vehicle when you get there. If time is of the essence then flying is undoubtably the best way to maximise your time on the slopes, make the most of the Apres ski and head back home quickly and simply.

Choosing a location

There are many fantastic skiing locations to choose from in the French Alps. These are some of the best:

  • Chamonix – slopes to suit all levels of experience, snow all year round (though best between November and May) and amazing extra long glacier slopes.
  • Les Menuires – natural and artificial snow all year, slalom areas, toboggan runs and lots of extra fun and games.
  • Val d’Isère – some of the best skiing in the region, plus ice skating on a natural lake in the heart of the village. Sleigh riding, ice climbing and special activities for kids from ages three and up.
  • Les Arcs – a great mix of slopes, including some impressively steep ones, long ones and wooded ones, with challenges for experts but good options for intermediates as well.
  • Courchevel – the biggest open ski area in the world with lots of great beginner slopes plus some real challenges, and cross country skiing and snowboarding too.

Where to ski in the French Alps

The perfect ending

For relaxing and recovering at the end of the week, Lyon is an ideal destination for a holiday, conveniently close and a good place to soak up a bit of sun after spending all that time on the snow. The historic city is fascinating to explore, and it is one of the best places to find an attractive hotel to stay in in Alsace, whatever your budget. It is also well supplied with restaurants, and the local wines are a delicious treat.

Lyon, France

Whatever your level of experience as a skier, the French Alps will provide something challenging and fun for you to do. You can get lessons if you need them, take on new environments or try a new kind of ski activity. You’ll find the locals very friendly and the natural beauty of the area unforgettable.

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How to protect your identity while travelling http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-protect-my-identity-while-travelling/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-protect-my-identity-while-travelling/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:06:14 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26457 Nothing ruins a holiday quite like losing your vital documents and credit cards, but imagine if you returned home with everything intact only to later find your bank accounts had been accessed and your identity had been assumed by another person. From someone stealing your credit card or skimming its details at an ATM, to […]

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Nothing ruins a holiday quite like losing your vital documents and credit cards, but imagine if you returned home with everything intact only to later find your bank accounts had been accessed and your identity had been assumed by another person.

From someone stealing your credit card or skimming its details at an ATM, to stealing information about you by radio frequency reading of your passport or credit cards, identity theft is the new age version of mugging. It’s a risk every traveller should prepare for long before their trip. Here are three ways to protect your identity while travelling.

1. RFID Blocking

RFID blockingWhere once a money belt or pouch was the best way to ensure your items weren’t stolen, now it’s all about Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) protection. These days, personal information is imbedded in chips in our passports and credit cards. This information can be read illegitimately using Radio Frequency Identification readers. Feasibly, this means you could be standing at the counter of a coffee shop, while a thief scans and steals your identity without even touching your purse. The information is then duplicated onto new cards.

To protect against this, there are a series of RFID blocking products that block the ability to read your information. From credit card sleeves, to money belts, wallets and passport holders, they are the must-have for any traveller and are available at quality luggage shops such as Bags To Go. You can click here to see just some of their range and how it works.

2. Securely Store Your Documents

Money beltIf you don’t need your cards, don’t carry them with you. Passports should be stored in reputable hotel safes while you tour the city, instead of in your bag, lying around the hotel room, in your pocket or even on your body. Only carry what you need and ensure it is properly protected.

When carrying important documents or cards, have them in a secure bag such as an anti-theft bag or, better yet, in a money belt under the waistband of your clothing. The harder it is to access, the less likely it is to get stolen. Then go that extra step and protect it against readers by purchasing RFID blocking money belts, wallets and document holders.

3. Exercise Caution

Card skimmingProtecting your identity is about exercising caution. When using your bank card, cover the pin pad at ATMs. Be on the lookout for additions to the ATM that may be card skimming devices. Use your card as little as possible by carrying only enough cash on you for that day’s travel. That way, you won’t risk using your card with unscrupulous vendors.

Be especially careful if accessing your banking online while travelling as the internet connection may not be secure, allowing thieves to access you bank account details and personal information.

Identity theft is a very real and traumatic experience, and one that can leave a legacy long after your flight has landed back home. By taking the necessary precautions, you may just save yourself a whole load of expense, heartache and time.

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3 Must-experience British cultural experiences http://www.travelwithamate.com/3-must-experience-british-cultural-experiences/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/3-must-experience-british-cultural-experiences/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 07:55:01 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26425 For a small island nation we do seem to have quite a global image, one filled with quirky British traditions and past times that other countries may find a little odd. Much like the range of accents here, Britain has a vast amount of cultural variety in a fairly condensed area. This makes it easy […]

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For a small island nation we do seem to have quite a global image, one filled with quirky British traditions and past times that other countries may find a little odd. Much like the range of accents here, Britain has a vast amount of cultural variety in a fairly condensed area. This makes it easy for overseas tourists (and Brits as well) to experience all sorts of weird and wonderful events, hobbies, local oddities and traditions. So here are just a few of them that you really must check out when you’re in the United Kingdom.

Sport

While every country has their own national sport, Britain has a very long history of not just playing sports but inventing them too! This legacy has endured and is tightly woven in to the every day culture of British people. Its fair to say every sport we like to participate in we do so with unbridled fanaticism. Checking out a football match is a must if you’re in the UK especially over a weekend. While tickets aren’t cheap these days England boasts the most popular teams in the world! The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, in fact London alone has 6 teams in the Premier League at the moment with a further 7 in lower leagues. So even if you’re limited to the capital city there’s plenty of opportunities to catch a game. You can also book yourself on a tour of your favourite club’s stadium too.

Football matches in London

If football isn’t your thing then there’s plenty of other sport that is a must-see while you’re in the country. The world famous Wimbledon Tennis tournament takes place the last week of June for 2 weeks and is arguably the most important tennis championship in the world. July sees the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, one of the most demanding and high speed circuits ever created that sees hundreds of thousands of fans flock there every year for a weekend of camping and motorsport. Cricket is a sport quite unlike any other and you’ll find matches played at local level in nearly every town and village during the summer. Not to mention the Hockey, Rugby, Athletics and even American Football that’s now being embraced especially in London!

Sunday Roast

There aren’t many countries in the world that limit the eating of one type of meal to one day of the week but in Britain, up and down the country Sunday lunch is reserved for the sole pleasure of a roast dinner. I’ve lived here most of my life and can rarely remember eating anything else on a Sunday other than roast chicken, Yorkshire puddings and piles of roast potatoes and parsnips. In fact pub culture in the UK has a life all its own with drinking establishments packed every Sunday as we all head out for this most British of meals.

Sunday roast in a British pub

 

Ironically its origins are actually from the Romans but we’ve made it all our own these days. Ask any brit if they’ve had a roast on any other day of the week and they’ll look at you as if you’re some sort of insane person! So if you happen to be in the UK on a Sunday be sure to head to a local pub, enjoy a pint of Britain’s finest ale and order yourself a roast dinner. Check out this useful resource for some of the best British Pubs.

Bingo

Interestingly Bingo is also of Italian origins but thanks to the huge popularity of the cinemas in the mid 20th century many movie theatres doubled up as bingo halls. The fashion for cinemas dwindled especially after World War 2 which left plenty of venues for the new fashion of Bingo to thrive. In fact rather than a relic of the past Bingo has become ever more popular. Huge purpose built Bingo venues have appeared in most major towns and cities across the country and these days the internet is where you’ll find plenty of Bingo Sites and a new craze of sell hosted bingo parties called Rebel bingo.

Bingo parties in Britain

 

Once upon a time the game was seen as a decaying seaside attraction for old grannies. That image has definitely changed and the Brits love of Bingo is definitely on the up!

Don’t miss out

A trip to the UK wouldn’t be complete without experiencing our food, our quirky traditions and our sports. Make sure your holiday in Britain includes a little taster of all these things for that true slice of British life.

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Best places to go in Granada, Spain http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-places-to-go-in-granada-spain/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-places-to-go-in-granada-spain/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 20:46:57 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26436 Located in the south of Spain, the city of Granada is a place worth visiting. Located just an hour away from golden, sandy beaches and half an hour away from several ski resorts, the city is an ideal holiday destination. Alhambra The Alhambra is the city’s most famous symbol, an ancient Moorish citadel that has […]

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Located in the south of Spain, the city of Granada is a place worth visiting. Located just an hour away from golden, sandy beaches and half an hour away from several ski resorts, the city is an ideal holiday destination.

Alhambra

The Alhambra is the city’s most famous symbol, an ancient Moorish citadel that has palaces, fortresses, gardens and patios that are waiting to be discovered. Located on top of a hill, the Alhambra can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Book your tickets to the Alhambra in advance in order to be able to visit the intricate marble halls of the Nasrid palaces, decorated with gilded Moorish designs and latticed ceilings. Take a walk around the lush gardens decorated with quiet pools and carved, stone fountains. Do not miss the Patio de los Leones, a patio decorated with the stone-carved Fountain of Lions.

Alhambra views

Albaicin

The district of the Albaicin is located at the foot of the Alhambra. This neighbourhood is one of the oldest districts in the city. Here you will find traditional Andalusian white-washed houses decorated with fragrant colourful flowers. There are many artisan shops and tapas bars in this area, where visitors will be able to enjoy local beer and a variety of appetisers.

Albaicin views

The city centre

The city center, with its cobblestone streets and squares, can be explored on foot. There are many places worth visiting, including the renaissance Cathedral and the ancient Arab baths. Take a walk along the chic Acera del Darro street, where you will find boutique stores and grand houses.

Arabic Baths in Grenada

Tapas in the University District

Located near the northwest of the city, the University district is ideal for those on a budget. If you want to find an affordable hostel in Granada, head there. The district is ideal for gourmets- there are plenty of bars, restaurants and tapas bars offering traditional Andalusian dishes. Try the famous gazpacho andaluz cold vegetable soup and gambas al pil pil fried shrimp inolive oil and garlic.

Tapas in University district of Grenada

Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada mountains are located a short distance away from the city. These mountains are ideal for those who want to spend their holidays skiing and snowboarding. This resort has more than 20 ski lifts and offers views towards the Sierra Nevada National Park. About half the sloped are designed for beginner skiers, and the other half are ideal for advanced skiers- there are even seven black slopes for the experts.

Sierra Nevada

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How to save money for a round the world trip http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-save-money-for-a-round-the-world-trip/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-save-money-for-a-round-the-world-trip/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 07:55:14 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26416 Awesome travel adventures cost money, there’s no escaping the fact that if you want to experience the world you’ll need a lot of cash. Getting the money together is often the stressful bit and if you want to travel for an extended time you’ll need even more! Saving up for your trip of a lifetime takes […]

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Awesome travel adventures cost money, there’s no escaping the fact that if you want to experience the world you’ll need a lot of cash. Getting the money together is often the stressful bit and if you want to travel for an extended time you’ll need even more! Saving up for your trip of a lifetime takes planning and organisation but the rewards are of course, amazing. When it comes to saving there are many options out there for all types of people. So here’s a guide to the short, medium and long term saving options that might suit you.

Short term saving for travel

Easy ways to save more moneyIf you’re planning a big trip and you don’t have too long before your flight out then you are obviously limiting how much you can save. Never fear there are ways you can get the cash together quickly but they are more drastic and intense! Firstly you need to think about what you currently spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. When you’re off on your round the world trip you’ll be happily living without any of the material things you currently spend your money on. Why not apply that travel lifestyle to your current life at home? Do you really need to buy that item? Can you take it with you when you travel? Will it help you travel more? If there answers are NO then do the obvious and don’t buy it!

Take a look around your home and look for items you haven’t used in months or years.  Will you have to pay for storage to keep it? Would they be better off sold to someone who could make use of it? Could you easily buy a 2nd hand item if you ever needed it in the future? If the answer is YES to these questions then organise all the things you have and find the best place to sell them. I’ve done this with furniture, media of all formats, even old computers and random cables! There’s all sorts of ways to sell your old stuff. eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and good old fashioned notice boards at supermarkets! They’ve all helped me clear out old stuff, liberating me of material possessions and giving my savings a much needed boost! Its drastic but it works and you’ll feel better about your travels knowing you have less stuff back home to store or worry about.

Medium term saving for travel

When is the best time to buy flights?If you have at least 6 to 12 months before your big round the world trip then your saving options are bigger. While I’d still recommend clearing out all the material stuff you don’t need there are also some other methods of gathering savings and making your money go further. As you have more time to shop around for your flights, hotels and excursions you may find a better deal. Its worth taking a look at trends in flight prices as they fluctuate throughout the year. Prices are based entirely on demand so buying early can save you money, too early and the prices are artificially high to increase profits, too late and the demand for last minute tickets may skyrocket. You’re after the sweet spot in the middle. Be prepared to change the dates you travel drastically to find the best deals. Even by a month or so if you can. You have time to be flexible so put this to good use and you’ll be amazed how much you can save.

Cancel subscriptionsIf you have between 9 and 12 months before you leave chances are there are some subscriptions you currently have that you could cancel or at least downgrade to a cheaper tariff. Things like mobile phone plans, broadband, TV, telephone, magazine subscriptions and even the gym. Live like you’ve already left is my motto. While you’d think you may miss that lightening fast broadband or satellite TV subscription, once you calculate how much you can save for your travels each month you’ll be very happy!

Credit cards with 0% balance transferWhile 6 to 12 months isn’t long enough to make the most of savings accounts there are still some options open to you. The interest you could earn over this short period of time is minimal so I’d recommend utilising your cash in a different way. Pick a credit card (or cards) that reward you the most, there are plenty with 0% on balance transfers and often 0% on new purchases as well. This allows you to purchase those flights and other travel expenses at the optimal time to save money, but pay for them without interest penalties when you’re ready. While this does take some organisation and planning, with a bit of risk if you don’t pay the minimum each month, it does allow for greater savings on the travel products you need.

Long term saving for travel

If you’re really planning ahead for that ultimate journey some 2 or more years away then savings accounts can work for you. In fact this approach can work for everyone that loves to travel. Lets face it you’ll still want to be taking amazing trips even in 5, 7 or 10 years time, so why not start a savings plan specifically for that? Taking those big trips is a big jump from your normal lifestyle and worth the risk, so why not take a risk on your savings to make them work harder for you.

NutmegDon’t go for the plain savings account options with your local bank. I would recommend pushing your savings a little harder and investing in some higher risk opportunities to get the most reward. Services like Nutmeg.com are a prime example of this, monitoring your savings, setting your risk aversion and letting them do the rest. While there is always a chance your savings will go down as well as up, over a longer period you’re pretty much guaranteed to increase your savings with minimal effort.

While there’s less to organise here you do need much more forward planning. These savings are essentially creating a buffer for you. Allowing future travel adventures to take less of a dent in your regular income. At first it can seem daunting to relinquish some of your current money to distant travel adventures but trust me you’ll be thanking yourself when before you realise it you’re on that travel adventure and glad you organised your savings well!

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British Airways Inaugural flight – Gatwick to Seville http://www.travelwithamate.com/british-airways-inaugural-flight-gatwick-seville/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/british-airways-inaugural-flight-gatwick-seville/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:39:00 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26392 httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32VGd_pHcIc Arriving at an airport has never been quite so exciting. On board the first flight by British Airways from Gatwick to Seville, it’s tradition that the plane is sprayed by two huge water cannons on the fire engines at the airport. Such a great thing to witness and see from the inside! Here’s a […]

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httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32VGd_pHcIc

Arriving at an airport has never been quite so exciting. On board the first flight by British Airways from Gatwick to Seville, it’s tradition that the plane is sprayed by two huge water cannons on the fire engines at the airport. Such a great thing to witness and see from the inside! Here’s a quick video of our view.

From the outside!

Here’s what it looked like from the outside. A big thank you J.A. Almarza for kindly letting me show you these.

British Airways landing at Seville Airport

Inaugural plane salute

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6 Sumptuous Chocolate Festivals No Chocoholic Can Miss http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-sumptuous-chocolate-festivals-no-chocoholic-can-miss/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-sumptuous-chocolate-festivals-no-chocoholic-can-miss/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:10:48 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26382 While scientists may not agree that chocolate in its myriad forms can inspire actual physical addiction, most chocoholics will argue that their cravings and mood swings during times of deprivation point to a physical dependency on the cocoa bean. Fortunately, unlike other addicts, chocoholics are celebrated for their fine taste in what is arguably the […]

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While scientists may not agree that chocolate in its myriad forms can inspire actual physical addiction, most chocoholics will argue that their cravings and mood swings during times of deprivation point to a physical dependency on the cocoa bean.

Fortunately, unlike other addicts, chocoholics are celebrated for their fine taste in what is arguably the emperor of all sweets, and their drug of choice is venerated for its complexity, malleability, and (above all else) scrumptiousness in hundreds of festivals around the globe. If you identify as an avid chocoholic, you should buy your ticket now to one of these top chocolate festivals in 2015.

1. Eurochocolate — Italy

Just up the Italian coast from the hustle and bustle of Rome, the quiet, historic city of Perugia attracts nearly a million visitors for one week only during its annual Eurochocolate Festival. Inarguably the largest celebration of chocolate on the planet, Eurochocolate has everything from chocolate cooking classes to chocolate sculpting competitions, including a multitude of chocolate vendors that line the streets offering as many free samples as you can hold. You can enjoy live music from morning to night as you explore international chocolate companies, and the end of the festival is marked by the Eurochocolate Awards Ceremony, where you can learn who esteemed connoisseurs deem the best of the world’s expert chocolatiers.

Eurochocolate Festival

2. Sin City Chocolate Festival — United States

For all the sins on offer in Las Vegas, the mountains of chocolate available during the city’s yearly chocolate festival is certainly the most tempting. During the first week of April, Sin City — already a haven for the most talented and prolific cooking maestros — attracts and assembles the world’s greatest confectioners and pastry chefs to create the country’s best sweet treat tasting event. Alongside your chocolate, you’ll be able to try top wine and spirits to make your chocoholism even more enjoyable.

Sin City Chocolate Festival

While you’re in town, you might as well fit in a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World Las Vegas, where America’s favorite chocolate company offers tastes of more than 800 variations of its iconic candy bars as well as freshly baked treats and other unique Hershey’s experiences.

3. ChocolART — Germany

Germany is well-known for its love of sweets: No fewer than five popes were petitioned by German princes to lift the Lenten ban on butter so Germans could properly prepare their cakes and cookies during spring. Thus, it must be obvious that Germany’s biggest and best chocolate festival, ChocolART, is almost unbearably decadent in its production of sweet treats. Indeed, this historic town of Tubingen transforms into a chocoholic’s paradise as the world’s finest chocolatiers line the streets to dole out goodies. There are classes for tasting and cooking the treat, and a few vendors even offer a luxurious chocolate massage that utilizes magic chocolate components to revitalize the skin.

 4. Choco-Late — Belgium

As each citizen of Belgium consumes more than 17 pounds of the good stuff every year, common chocoholics have much to learn from this major producer and consumer of chocolate. That’s why a trip to Belgium’s Choco-Late Festival in November is well-warranted. Only the most gourmet chocolatiers peddle their product here, which means budding connoisseurs can practice the delicate art on some excellent chocolates.

Choco-Late festival Belgium

Plus, if their consumption wasn’t evidence enough of their passion for chocolate, the Belgians also have an art museum devoted to chocolate works, including paintings and sculptures with chocolate as the medium and muse.

5. The Chocolate Festival — United Kingdom

Coming up fast is Britain’s celebration of chocolate, which takes place every March in four different locations around the island nation:  London’s South Bank, Brighton’s New Road, Oxford’s Broad Street, and Bristol’s Old Station. The Chocolate Festival honors both traditional and modern interpretations of the age-old treat, reveling in cheap candy bars and epicurean confections alike. Stalls throughout the festival offer pastries and candies in all shapes and sizes, so you should come hungry if you are looking to leave happy.

The Chocolate Festival United Kingdom

6. Chocolate Rush Festival — Australia

A mix of chocolate festival and industry conference, the Chocolate Rush Festival is an opportunity for chocoholics to indulge in and also learn about their favorite treat. Through a series of classes and seminars, you can find out where and how chocolate is made, how to taste it like an expert, and how to pair chocolate with other foods and beverages. Kids are welcome to visit as well, as several classes are aimed at younger chocoholics’ educations.

Chocolate Rush Festival Australia

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Alternative British seaside towns to visit this Summer http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-british-seaside-towns-visit-summer/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-british-seaside-towns-visit-summer/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:33:00 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26366 Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside… especially during the summer months. We love taking trips down to the seaside towns, taking a look around the cute little shops and making sandcastles on the beach with the family, but there are some seaside towns that we have forgotten about which can help us […]

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Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside… especially during the summer months. We love taking trips down to the seaside towns, taking a look around the cute little shops and making sandcastles on the beach with the family, but there are some seaside towns that we have forgotten about which can help us create good memories. Here are 4 seaside towns that we’ve forgotten about, that may inspire you to go and visit them this year.

Southport

Often referred to as ‘England’s Classic Resort’, Southport offers sophistication and charm. There is plenty to do there, whether it’s with your spouse or family. There is an arcade, a pier – which is said to be the longest in Britain at 3.650 feet long. Why not visit the new and improve Southport Pleasure land whilst you there and experience thrilling rollercoaster rides? There is that much to do, you’d have to stay for the entire weekend to cram it all in. You can stay in Southport with UKbreakways who help you to find the perfect place to stay, depending on your budget.

Southport Promenade

 

Morecambe

If you miss the many pleasures of the seaside, Morecambe is the place to go. Whether it’s building sandcastles, going for a paddle or flying kites, you can do all of this here whilst enjoying the beautiful views across the bay. Morecambe has an impressive and award winning promenade which you can walk along whilst enjoying an ice cream, and catching up with family and friends. Not to far away is Happy Mount Park where family-friendly attractions complement the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity of a traditional park. You can find swing boats, mini golf, trampolines, a miniature train, a splash park and a zip wire that will keep your family amused for hours.

Other seaside town resorts to visit

Scarborough

A place that has it all, Scarborough is the perfect destination for a day out with your family. It boasts dramatic cliffs, castle headline, beautiful beaches and a lively town centre. Scarborough’s proximity to Dalby: Yorkshire’s Great Forest, The North York Moors National Park, the Wolds and the dramatic scenery of the Yorkshire Coast makes Scarborough a perfect base from which to explore Britain and you will never be stuck for ideas of what to do if you choose to take a holiday here.

Scarborough

Formby

Fancy going for a picnic at the beach with the family? Formby beach is perfect for this. With a large car park, large picnic areas and waymarked paths to the beach and sand dunes, you can enjoy a breath taking view across the Irish Sea and on clean days you can even see the mountains of Cumbria. If you are wildlife fans, Red squirrels, natter jacks, prehistoric footprints and miles of coastal walks are just waiting to be discovered.

Formby

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5 amazing landscapes in the USA http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-amazing-landscapes-usa-america/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-amazing-landscapes-usa-america/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:13:56 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26357 Apart from big cities the United States of America can impress every man with its wonderful nature and landscapes. From ancient times nature attracts artist, writers as it gives spirit of freedom and nowadays doctors prescribes eco-therapy to patients with a variety of conditions. So take a chance to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. Remember that […]

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Apart from big cities the United States of America can impress every man with its wonderful nature and landscapes. From ancient times nature attracts artist, writers as it gives spirit of freedom and nowadays doctors prescribes eco-therapy to patients with a variety of conditions. So take a chance to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. Remember that if you do not already have a visa, you can do so processed online and get the ESTA authorisation and ensure the visit to USA.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon is one of the most inspiring and powerful landscapes in our planet. It is one of the 7 great natural wonders of the world. Size, colors, Colorado River and unique combinations of erosion gives you unforgettable feeling of exciting. People from all over the world come to stand on the edge of this natural wonder and one of the most breathtaking experiences with Mother Nature.

Grand Canyon National Park

Crater Lake, Oregon

It is the most favorite place of all photographers as there are more than 20 different scenic overlooks where everyone can take the most impressive photos. Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in USA with unbelievable blue color. You can not only enjoy the view but also try finishing or scuba diving.

Crater Lake Oregon

Acadia National Park

Acadia locates in the state of Maine and associate small islands. Indescribable landscapes, mountains, lakes, ocean seashore, woodlands attract people from all over the world. No matter when you are coming, this place will impress you any time of the year. It is the best place to run away from bustling and to spend time in privacy.

Acadia National Park

Death Valley National Park

There are many people that ignore the park, but if you like extreme – Death Valley is waiting for you. It is the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America. Mushroom Rock, Natural ridge, Zabriskie Point, Museum and many other things will wonder every tourist. And don’t be afraid of its name!

Death Valley

White Sands National Monument

If you have a dream to turn up in a different planet, White Sands National Monument is the place that gives you feeling that you are in another world. 275 square miles field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. It is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. You will never find similar place in the world like White Sands National Monument.

White Sands National Monument

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Secrets of the Casino de Monte Carlo http://www.travelwithamate.com/secrets-casino-de-monte-carlo/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/secrets-casino-de-monte-carlo/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:23:31 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26348 The Principality of Monaco is definitely the kind of place you that you want to visit with a mate, with one of the oldest still running casinos in the world, you can visit the very same place that served as inspiration for Sir Ian Fleming’s very first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, centered around a […]

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The Principality of Monaco is definitely the kind of place you that you want to visit with a mate, with one of the oldest still running casinos in the world, you can visit the very same place that served as inspiration for Sir Ian Fleming’s very first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, centered around a high stakes game of poker at the Monte Carlo, as well as being featured in Bond films Never say never again, Golden Eye, and, of course,  Casino Royale, as well as legendary master of horror Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller To catch a thief, starring Cary Grant and future princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly;  and who knows? You may end up having a big adventure of your own in this jewel of the Mediterranean.

Monte Carlo travel guide

Of course, in a place like this you need to be looking your best possible, so bring a black suit or dress and go for a night on the town. Polished leathers shoes, or high heels; in the Monte Carlo you not only need to know how to play, you gotta show people you’re the real deal. So buckle up, and bring some extra pounds so you can play the night away, James Bond style, and come back feeling like a million quid. And don’t worry if you don’t know what any of the terms the croupiers use, you can find a glossary here, where you can find pretty much any term you could possibly hear at a game table. Just quickly pop open a search window on your mobile and look it up, so if you’re behind on the terms, you can quickly get up to speed. It was what definitely helped me not look like a complete newbie once I was there, and I even managed to bluffed my way into a big jackpot a poker table, before losing it all again .

Hotel Monte Carlo

Monaco is a tiny country that is located between the beautiful French Riviera and the Mediterranean sea. It has steep, green hills where winding roads make their way across this idillic landscape of intense blue seas and clear skies. There is an unmistakable atmosphere of glamour about the principality, what with the yachts hanging like a pearl necklace around the harbor and the Victorian style architecture that  dots the landscape across hills and plateaus overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Monaco by night

The Casino de Monte Carlo, as it’s know in its native land of Monaco, is one the oldest running gaming enterprises in the world, commissioned by Princess Caroline, consort to the ruling Prince Florestan the second, its construction began in 1854 and extended all the way until 1863 (it is composed of several differents complexes, and it had several renovations and expansions over the years).

Princess Caroline of MonacoOriginally, Caroline came up with the idea of a full fledged resort with the works: a  theater, a casino, hotels and other amenities to save the dwindling income of the principality. Caroline, a woman from a common background who first found fame as a stage actress, met her future husband, Florestan, while both were working in the parisian Theater of the Comic-Ambigüity (or “Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique” in french), her husband wasn’t prepared for the role of sovereign, so Princess Caroline became the decision maker and with that, de facto ruler of the country.

The enterprise took a few years before it actually became profitable, but it eventually did by 1859, saving the finances of the country and its royal house of Grimaldi, the dynasty the rules the country to this very day, and are the major stake holders of the society that administrates not only the casino, but a world famous ballet and theater company, called Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and Le Grand Théatre de Monte Carlo.

Monaco formula 1

Monaco is one destination that if you have the means, must take absolutely take. The place exudes class, it’s one of the most well known playgrounds for the rich and famous, with world famous activities like the Grand Prix de Monte Carlo, one of the most prestigious races in Formula 1, and it has been called home by some of the biggest names in show business, like U2’s Bono, Former James Bond actor Roger Moore, Mohammed Al Fayed, former owner of London’s Harrods department store; and former Beatle Ringo Starr, among others. So talk your friends into taking a high stakes trip in this Elysian Field on Earth.

Monaco travel guide

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Future travel: The Smart Suitcase http://www.travelwithamate.com/bluesmart-suitcase-future-travel/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/bluesmart-suitcase-future-travel/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:38:11 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26335 I’m a self confessed techn-lover and an avid traveller too, so naturally whenever possible there’s nothing better than combining the two and totally indulge in the latest gadget, gizmo and geeky product that will help me travel better. I’m a true believer that tech can enhance our lives and make it easier. So with that in […]

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I’m a self confessed techn-lover and an avid traveller too, so naturally whenever possible there’s nothing better than combining the two and totally indulge in the latest gadget, gizmo and geeky product that will help me travel better. I’m a true believer that tech can enhance our lives and make it easier. So with that in mind I bring you the latest in tech-wizardry raising funds for production and launch via Indigogo. The Smart Suitcase!

Bluesmart suitcase

When I first heard about this product I have to admit I did wonder if there was really a need to tech-up a suitcase? After all it’s usually just that thing I keep on top of a cupboard or in the attic and then cram things in to the night before a flight. Does my suitcase really need to be smart? Then I took a look at the features and weighed up whether any of them would actually make my trips any easier.

Bluesmart suitcase buy

 

Lets take a look at the main features.

  • Lock and unlock from your phone
  • Built-in digital scale
  • Built-in battery to recharge your devices
  • Distance alerts
  • Location Tracking
  • Handy access to electronic devices
  • Cool trip data at your fingertips
  • Highly resistant and lightweight
  • Waterproof zippers and polyurethane covering
  • Anodized aluminium
  • 4 Spinner Wheels

Check out more of the features here

Recharge my devices from my suitcase

Hold on, I can charge my devices from my luggage? OK now that is useful! The amount of times I’ve drained my battery at airports or been caught out in a hostel or hotel without my charger. I do have a rechargeable external battery for my devices but I’m always losing the damn thing. So that feature on a suitcase would be very useful for me.

airport phone charger

Built in Digital Scales

I’m the kind of traveller who likes options. This means extra clothes, extra gadgets, extra cables and chargers. Better to have and not need than need and not have! That’s always been my travel motto. Unfortunately this means pushing the weight limits to the absolute max and on more than one occasion I’ve had to repack at the last minute and a couple of times at the airport check-in counter! I’ve bought cheap scales in the past but ironically they’ve broken due to lifting too much weight! The Bluesmart suitcase weighs itself when you pick it up so I could squeeze in every last gram of extra clothing, shoes and chargers and easily weigh every time. That is pretty cool.

How to weigh my suitcase

Distance alerts and Location tracking

When I heard about this I was quite skeptical that I’d be able to track a suitcase after a flight. We’ve all heard nightmare stories of losing luggage when flying overseas but could this suitcase actually help? Well there’s two modes that might do just that. The Distance alerts works via bluetooth, yes this suitcase is wirelessly capable of talking to your smartphone! The suitcase can be used for carry on and checked luggage. So if you’re waiting at the baggage carousel you can set the BlueSmart App to notify you when your suitcase is nearby. No need to stand and wait, looking at every case, just take a seat and when your case is within about 30 metres you’ll get a notification. Genius! Bluesmart suitcase features

 

As for location tracking, lets say you’ve lost your suitcase, be it at the airport, hotel or somewhere else. Your suitcase can ping any other Bluesmart owners via the app and send location information back to Bluesmart HQ where they can notify you of its location. The suitcase has a GPS tracker built in and can pass on the exact coordinates to you via another user. So this feature is very useful once there’s enough Bluesmart suitcase owners. That could take a while but eventually I can see this being very handy when you suddenly realise you’ve lost your case. Of course another method of finding it would be to re-visit the locations where you think it might be  and scan of a distance alert. If you’re within 30 metres or so you should get a notification.

Track location of suitcase

Lock and unlock my suitcase via a smartphone app

This I like! The case is fully locked without a keyhole and opens via bluetooth connection from your smartphone with the Bluesmart app. A very handy security feature that ensures all your valued travel possessions stay safe. They’ve even thought about what happens if your battery goes flat! There’s a smart looking key card that you can keep in your wallet or purse and open with a quick swipe. I’ve often bought extra mini padlocks and locking devices for suitcases but never found a solution I was that comfortable with using (and not losing my key!) so this security feature appeals to me too.

Best suitcase security

Where can I get a smart suitcase?

Bluesmart suitcase orderNow that the Indigogo campaign has raised the funds for production the Bluesmart suitcase is now in pre-sales and you can order yours today. Just head to the Bluesmart website here and place your order.

Check out their video too for a good overview of all the features.

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5 reasons to visit Grenada http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-reasons-visit-grenada/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-reasons-visit-grenada/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:08:41 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26321 Grenada might not be the best-known of the Caribbean islands, probably because it only spans around 132 square miles, but it offers a world of delights for visitors. Consisting of Grenada itself and six smaller islands which surround it, this is a there is lots to explore. The island is not yet geared towards tourists as […]

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Grenada might not be the best-known of the Caribbean islands, probably because it only spans around 132 square miles, but it offers a world of delights for visitors. Consisting of Grenada itself and six smaller islands which surround it, this is a there is lots to explore. The island is not yet geared towards tourists as much as other islands in the region, so you can experience authentic local culture without having to fight through crowds of tourists. So forget the trendy Caribbean islands filled with holidaymakers, and explore the many beauties of this small island – here are 5 top reasons to visit Grenada.

Some of the world’s best beaches

Grenada has a staggering selection of sandy stretches for such a small island, with over 40 public beaches to choose from! There are both white and black sand beaches dotted around the island and, unlike most Caribbean hotspots, you won’t find them to be unbearably crowded.

Grand_Anse_Beach_Grenada2

Grand Anse beach is regularly listed among the best in the world; a 2 mile stretch of gorgeous white sand which has to be seen. The more secluded Morne Rouge Beach, south of Grand Anse, is also a popular choice for those looking to achieve ultimate relaxation.

World famous food and drink

Often known as the Spice Island, Grenada is one of the world’s largest exporters of spices and a visit to the island is not complete without exploring the many aromas of the popular spice markets. The island is also well known for its chocolate, and you can see how it is made by visiting The Grenada Chocolate Company in St George for a tour of their factory. You should also take some time to visit one of the Rum distilleries, such as the home of Clarke’s Court Rum, and learn about the history and manufacturing process of the national drink. You will get lots of opportunities to taste it during your visit!

You’ll immediately feel at home

Not only is English the main language spoken on the island, but there is a huge expat community and almost 10% of the population is made up of international students from St George’s University. The language might be the same, but the way of life could not be more different from Britain; the slow relaxing pace is worlds away without any of the complications of unknown languages.

Amazing sights

Above anything else, Grenada just looks beautiful. Its combination of golden beaches, blue water and green mountain terrain makes it a perfect picture. It only gets better once you delve deeper into the surroundings too. Sights you can’t afford to miss include the stunning Seven Sisters Waterfall (part of the expansive Grand Etang National Park) and the incredible underwater sculptures in St George. There is a breath-taking site around almost every corner in this island of natural beauty.

Underwater Sculptures  in Grenada

Party atmosphere

The day-to-day pace of life might be very slow in Grenada, but they also know how to party! The national calendar is packed with cultural festivals which offer an incredible opportunity to experience the amazing culture of the island first-hand.

St George Grenada

The Spice Mas Festival is the biggest event of the year, prompting sees celebrations of food, music, and artistic performances throughout August. Celebrations draw from the islands rich heritage of French, British, African and Caribbean roots. Many smaller festivals during the year pay tribute to different aspects of the culture, including the Carriacou Carnival and the Grenada Drum Festival.

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TOP 5 Ways to Explore the Many Shades of Oman http://www.travelwithamate.com/top-5-ways-to-explore-the-many-shades-of-oman/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/top-5-ways-to-explore-the-many-shades-of-oman/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 14:26:43 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26375 As-salaamu alaykum, kindly welcome to the warm Sultanate of Oman. Words fall short in their explanation of what one is to anticipate when Oman traveling. If any avid world travelers feels like they are falling short of destinations to visit next without having already visited the Sultanate of Oman; then they must be really mistaken. This […]

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As-salaamu alaykum, kindly welcome to the warm Sultanate of Oman. Words fall short in their explanation of what one is to anticipate when Oman traveling. If any avid world travelers feels like they are falling short of destinations to visit next without having already visited the Sultanate of Oman; then they must be really mistaken. This piece here will leave them feeling like they are in Oman and wanting to be in Oman. This is why…

Oman travel infographic

The Middle Arabian country of Oman is endowed with fragrant archaic souks whose visual can only be termed as hypnotizing. The terrain of the country is full of drama more reason why travelers have a lot of stories to tell after Oman traveling. Oman houses numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has even inspired famous literal tales. Now, how can I exhaustively explain to a traveler about a country whose amusement never ceases? I will mention five destinations of Oman traveling that can help a traveler who wants to explore the many shades of Oman.

5 Shades of Oman

Nizwa

Oman traveling is the most enjoyable adventure that one can embark on. Randomly, while in Oman; Nizwa is one shade city that somebody should make a point to visit. The city is 174 km from the capital city demanding approximately 1 1/2 hours drive by paved road. During the 6th and the 7th centuries, this city acted as the capital city of modern day Oman. It portrays a nostalgic blend of archaic and modern developments. Being once a center of education and art, Nizwa possess the charm to make you love Oman’s art and culture.

Western Hajar Mountains

If a traveler wanted more adventure, he would surely want to visit the Western Hajar Mountains. These are located 200 km from the capital city and salon cars as well as 4-wheel drive SUVs can be hired for travel. This journey would probably take a little more than 2 1/2 hours. The flanks of the Western Hajar Mountains stand around 2000 meters above sea level. Curved networks of dramatic canyons and caves characterize these mountainous features with rugged networks of popular wadi channels. This would make hiking interesting.

Muscat

Muscat is the primary entering location for any traveler into Oman. One must have definitely noticed the striking effect of this Arabic City – Arabia’s Jewel as some would call it. This shade of Oman is what sells the country internationally since despite being part and parcel of a desert country, it openly defies this and seems even greener than green. Coming from a foreign country and having to start Oman traveling through Muscat, a tourist’s heart is softened. This makes him/her to open up to the remaining Oman destinations – they definitely love it.

Sur

Sur – a coastal town that is warm and enticing is another shade of Oman traveling. Via sea coast, it stands 240 km from the capital Muscat and above 300 km via interior paved road links. This would take a traveler well over 4 hours while the former would be 3 1/2 hours. The interior drive is more tasty if a traveler is looking for adventure since it would pass him/her through the phenomenon Hajar Mountains.

Sumail Gap

Finally, Sumail Gap not far away from Muscat would make a destination for any traveller. It is only 75 km from Muscat and here you can trace the Silk Routes of ancient trade caravans. The place is well fortified with castles that are an owe to look at.

Now you know Oman, what remains is to travel to Oman.

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Website review: MyBreakTrip Group travel http://www.travelwithamate.com/website-review-mybreaktrip-group-travel/ http://www.travelwithamate.com/website-review-mybreaktrip-group-travel/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:07:12 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=26282 In my many varied travels over the years I’ve often utilised the internet to arrange much of our flights, hotels, excursions and tours. When there’s just 1 or 2 people, it’s so easy to do online. A few clicks and my dream holiday is booked. When it comes to group travel, though, it’s totally different story. If there’s […]

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In my many varied travels over the years I’ve often utilised the internet to arrange much of our flights, hotels, excursions and tours. When there’s just 1 or 2 people, it’s so easy to do online. A few clicks and my dream holiday is booked. When it comes to group travel, though, it’s totally different story.

If there’s 4 or more of you to arrange travel for, it can be a real pain & time wasting to organise the people travelling with you and the trip’s logistics, find good group deals, to arrange everyone’s payments which may often mean out of your own pocket before they reimburse you too! The hardest thing is to search for competitive deals as you’re often stuck with whatever is available rather than what’s right for you.

So when we were asked to review MyBreakTrip.co.uk we were very curious. The site claims to help group travellers get the best deals and make the entire process of booking group travel a breeze. But could it live up to the hype? I put it to the test.

Here’s a quite table of contents if you want to jump to a specific section of this review:-

MyBreakTrip.co.uk

Mybreaktrip logo

So the premise is pretty straightforward. MyBreakTrip offers a platform for you to create a group trip the way you wish; you can select your perfect itinerary, invite your friends and family on the trip or even find other like minded travellers to join your trip. Once your group is happy with the itinerary, you can request quotes for your trip from well-known UK holiday suppliers. You can review multiple quotes, pick the best one and get everyone to pay separately (or as group). It’s touted as a one-stop-shop for group travel. It’s a refreshing new approach that I know from experience could have come in handy on numerous occasions over the past couple of decades I’ve been travelling!

Homepage

So let’s start at the beginning. The bright and friendly homepage makes it pretty clear how you step through the process, with a few teasers on current public group trips you could join and some dream destinations you might want to visit. If you’re logged in you’ll see notifications on the user links at the top too.
Mybreaktrip review

There’s a handy video worth watching to quickly understand how the site works. I would expect this video to be embedded in the homepage as it’s often the first thing I’d watch if it was right there when I first visit the site. Here it is embedded in our site for you to enjoy.

Group travel website service review

While you can browse the site without logging in, the service really requires you to be a member to tailor the experience directly at your favourite destinations and travel requirements. I signed up pretty instantly thanks to the Facebook integration and was prompted to enter some profile details. The profile is an important aspect of the site so it’s worth filling it out in full, especially if you plan to create a publicly accessible group trip idea. While you can have an entirely private trip for just your friends and / or family, the idea that like-minded travellers could join my trip (public trip type) and ultimately make it cheaper for us all is very appealing to me. So I filled in my profile complete with avatar and details of my past travels. It also asks you what type of travel you like the most which helps to tailor any public trip results to your liking. You may not need this for your trip but if it helps make the website more useful then I think it’s worthwhile. It’s also visible to others so when people join your trip you can see if they are your kind of traveller.

Searching for group trips to join

I’ll get on to creating my own group trip in a moment, first let’s try searching for a few trips I might want to join. You can do this in a couple of ways. Either using the search box which appears at the top of most pages (including the homepage) or start browsing around the “Trip Board” on the top menu. On top there is also the “Traveller Hub” which I found be an interesting way to connect with like-minded travellers. There’s two options here, either click around on the map, dropping a marker on whatever country you’re interested in, or click on the style of travel you like to refine your experience.
How to find people for group travel

I found playing around here actually helped inspire me and check out a few group trips I’d previously not thought about or even been aware was an option. The map does appear a little blank at first so I wasn’t too sure what to do here but once you get clicking it becomes apparent. It would be useful if there was maybe a counter showing for each country so I knew how many trips were available. That would save me having to click around multiple times just to find out there were none in certain places. Also at present its only by country rather than region, Not too big an issue for places like Morocco but a big issue for large countries like America, Canada and Australia where you might only want to see trips in California for instance. The great thing is you can see who put a particular country as their dream destination, you can check out their profiles, add them as friends and message them directly too. Its early days so the membership levels will only increase but I can see this being a great social hub for like minded travel junkies like me. A social network built around the kind of travel I like.

Creating my own group trip

Let’s get down to the real concept of this service now. I want to find the best group deal for me, my friends and maybe some like-minded strangers who will accompany me on a trip. I’m a huge Formula 1 fan so I put together a trip based around attending the Singapore F1 Grand Prix held every September. Creating a new trip is easy, you can’t miss the big green “Create a new trip” button usually found top right of most pages. It’s a fairly straightforward form to fill in from there to create your trip and become the Group Leader. The Group Leader is responsible for organising the rest of travellers and the logistics of the trip.

mybreaktrip review

Group trip reviewOn this form you enter the city of origin and the destination city. It tries to match your search with a location in its vast database or world cities, not always finding cities I was searching for but for the most part was accurate. Of course one reason for this is that its only major cities with airports or rail stations that you’ll need to search from. So my trip starts in London and the destination is Singapore. If your trip involves an itinerary visiting numerous cities and countries then you can add all of them here too. I made my trip open to the public to see who else would join me and entered a detailed description of the trip, what people can expect, what would be included and what areas of interest to entice people to join. I also created a graphic for my trip. This can be a snapshot of the destination but I decided to try and tempt people a little more with this graphic.

My trip settings

There’s some important information to enter as well that not only tells group members when the trip will be, expected budget and number of members allowed to join, but it also tells suppliers who will offer you quotes for your trip. You can put in age ranges, type of travel and even gender, which lets you really specify the type of people you really want accompanying you. There’s some fairly strict criteria here which on my first attempt I had trouble meeting but after a couple of tries my trip was set up.

Creating a trip

Once I’d entered all the information about my trip it was set up and ready for people to search for and find it on the Trip Board too. Just like I had searched earlier. I could share this directly on Facebook which is a very handy feature and also send the link to my trip page via email too. It’s really just a waiting game now, for people to join my trip both from friends I had invited and strangers on the site. My trip page is a very inviting layout with a large map showing the full itinerary, mine was simple but it’s a good representation of where we’ll be going. There’s also easy to read info on all aspects of the trip. Other users can also leave comments asking questions about the trip.

Mybreaktrip review my trip

Waiting for members to join my trip

This waiting period really depends on the kind of trip you’ve added and the travellers you’re looking for. You can of course share the link with people on twitter, Facebook, any other network you’re on, friends, family and just wait for members of MyBreakTrip to join. Thankfully on my trip it wasn’t long before some of my friends and some people on the site had joined and I was notified by email with their profile images appeared on my trip page too. I was hoping for around 10 members but was happy to have 5. I could contact them directly, chat about the trip and get a sense of who they were so I knew the trip would be a success.

group travel website review

Getting quotes from suppliers

Once I was happy with the members that had joined my trip, I could move on to the next stage which is getting quotes that match my trip’s requirements. In the past this was always the tough part. Group travel is notoriously tough to administer and get good deals on too. Most price comparison websites deal with specific prices for specific items, no bulk discounts applied or the ability to get members to pay separately. Moreover, most online search engines limit the number of travellers/passengers to just 8 or 9 while travellers on MyBreakTrip can create group trips with up to 50 travellers. Certainly not much offering for a bespoke package like the trip I’d created.
review of mybreaktrip website

Moving on to the next step is very simple. Just a quick form to submit that tells the group that we’re now getting quotes and not accepting any more people to the group. It’s important that the site locks down the number of people and the trip’s requirements (e.g. budget, destination, dates, etc.) here so that the quotes provided are accurate. Again once you’ve submitted it’s pretty much a waiting game for suppliers to come forward and offer quotes. No doubt as the sites popularity increases the number of suppliers competing will also increase so you can expect faster responses and hopefully lower prices too.

Thankfully I had a quote back within 24 hours with a cost I was happy with. I could share this with the group and get their feedback. The quote included a total price for all of us, details on the hotel, flights, inclusion of extras like the grand prix tickets and details on any excursions they suggested.

Website review of Mybreaktrip.co.uk

Again how long you’re willing to wait for more quotes is up to you. It’s good to have a rough price in mind so you can see how they compare to your expected price. If you get more than one you can always contact them for more details (or travellers can optionally vote for the best quote) and you can even add your own suppliers who will be contacted and invited to quote too. Quite a clever system for getting more suppliers and more members to the site.

Paying for the trip

Moving on to payment is a similar experience to moving on to the quote stage. Informing all the travellers of the group, that I’ve accepted a quote and they can now pay for the trip. I specified when I created my trip that I wanted each member to pay individually. There’s also an option for one person to pay for all but I’m not keen on that. The hassle in the past has always been that I’ve had to be responsible for all payments which inevitably leads to stress and headaches sorting it all out.

mygrouptrip review suppliers

Each member of my trip was emailed and invited to pay for their portion of the total cost. I didn’t have to do anything other than pay for my share. The payment page clearly shows the breakdown of costs per person and invites me to pay. The information here is as much a mental relief as it is a useful display. Knowing others had to pay their share and had been notified took the pressure off me to do this! I could just relax and not have to deal with the hassle of collecting payments and chasing people! As each member paid I could refresh my trip page and see the progress. Once they’d all paid I was notified by email and could move on to booking the trip.

Another key aspect of the online payment is the security. MyBreakTrip uses WorldPay for secure online payment processing and they are also a member of Travel Trust Association which means you are 100% financially covered.

Collecting payment for a group trip

Booking the group trip

Once again another step where I can notify the members that we’re now booking everything. This also informed the supplier to go ahead and take the money from MyBreakTrip to book our flights, hotel, tickets, etc. This can take a while depending on how quick the supplier is for your trip but I didn’t have to wait too long before I got confirmation that everything was booked and I could see some of the details on my trip page too.
Group travel booking review

I could even request all of the details by email as well as print off what was displayed here. Before the trip actually takes place I can now use my trip page and the MyBreakTrip service to contact the group about anything that needs discussing before we leave. Things like meeting up at the airport, discussing preferences for days out and just generally getting very excited about our impending travels!

Conclusion

The service is in its early days but what strikes me about MyBreakTrip is the really easy approach to group travel booking. Something I’ve not come across before and so dearly would have liked when organising trips in the past. Allowing travellers and suppliers to join for free and use an intuitive platform to move through the many steps of successfully booking travel for a group of people. Easier said than done in the past so this service is a breath of fresh air! I constantly felt in control of the trip I had created while also relinquishing responsibility to MyBreakTrip  suppliers and other group members when it was called for.

MyBreakTrip also make it clear you can contact them directly via email for support which I used a couple of times. Their friendly and quick responses meant my trip was able to progress from just an idea for a trip to being fully booked! All with the peace of mind their service was doing much of the work for me. Exactly how the internet should be.

I really enjoyed the user experience of mybreaktrip.co.uk and would definitely use it again. It is a great tool to use for a family holiday, a city break with friends or for finding more travellers like myself. We’ve all got dream holiday ideas, maybe even some that you’ve yet to find the right like-minded person to go with you. This website could be the answer to a lot of group travel problems. I’m keen to see how it progresses in the coming months and years. The more members, trips and suppliers it has the more useful it becomes.

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