Latest Spectrum Newsletters
Green destinations leading the way
Published: 14 March 2020
When it comes to sustainable tourism, we can certainly do our bit to be a good citizen of the world: offset our carbon emissions, pick up our litter and the like. But the big changes happen on a national level, with creative ideas, smart schemes and chunks of funding helping to preserve the planet. That’s why it’s become fascinating to watch countries enter uncharted territory and shift their focus on ways of becoming more sustainable. From free public transport in Luxembourg to jail time in Kenya if you’re seen with a plastic bag, there’s so many small and significant things that destinations can do to be green. All in all, it’s a neat showcase of measures that can be taken – take note, countries who aren’t doing very much.
Exhibitions worth travelling
Published: 09 March 2020
One of the most revolutionary aspects of travel? It turns the greatest masterpieces in human history from something you read about in books, to something you can see up close in real life. The Mona Lisa is always a train ride away in Paris, and even before then, admiring Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery is a life-affirming endeavour. Casting the net wider, it means that the world’s most important and creative exhibitions are available to us – all we have to do is hop, skip or jump over. This year is a particularly interesting one, with dozens of significant art and design events taking place across the world involving the most popular innovators in world history.
Up to date restrictions for hand luggage
Published: 04 March 2020
There are some packing rules that are not exactly hard to fathom when you’re preparing for a flight. Don’t take hand grenades or radioactive substances with you. No catapults or crossbows in your hand luggage – although if for sporting purposes, these actually can be packed in the hold. Then there are the hand luggage rules that trip us up time and time again at security. As our handbag beeps for the third time due to a forgotten bottle of perfume, we gaze enviously at those experts gliding smoothly through security. But with a bit of research, we too can be that good at travelling. With this in mind, the Spectrum team have compiled our list of up-to-date cabin bag rules for 2020.
Easter beach breaks
Published: 28 February 2020
After a cold and stormy winter, no one can blame Brits for wanting to enjoy a bit of sunshine before the weather heats up on our chilly isles. The Easter holidays mark the first time in the new year when the kids have time off school and sunny destinations are within reasonable flying distance - so why not make the most of them? This year, Easter Sunday lands on April 12th. While the average temperatures in Western Europe are generally warm at this time of year, they don’t always guarantee the strong sunshine you want from a beach break. Why not fly an extra couple of hours and watch the mercury climb a little higher? Eastern Mediterranean destinations like Cyprus and Turkey are beginning to sizzle at this time of year.
Beat the crowds: Raja Ampat
Published: 23 February 2020
The concept of lounging around on a deserted island is becoming rarer as the world becomes more accessible and our curious nature takes us further afield. But if you’re going to find it anywhere, it will be in Raja Ampat, a remote but reputable area of Papau-Indonesia. It’s home an archipelago of 1,500 islands protruding from turquoise-green waters, each simply stunning in its natural beauty. But it’s big draw is below sea level: based in ‘The Coral Triangle’, it’s one of the richest areas for unspoilt coral reefs and active marine life, with 1000 species of fish concentrated within its crystal-clear waters. No wonder it’s a bucket list spot for divers and snorkelers. If you’re looking for a dreamy tropical paradise and one-on-one time with mother nature, look no further.
Where to head for the heat in April
Published: 18 February 2020
Across the UK, April temperatures average just 12C. And that’s if we don't get a cold snap. The double figures might prompt daffodils to burst into colour, and little lambs leap across the countryside, but it’s hardly beach weather. After waiting out a long, cold British winter, who can blame you if you’re super eager to feel the sun on your face? The good news is there are many (slightly more equator-adjacent) destinations around the globe where the fourth month of the year marks the beginning of summer proper. Whether you’re looking for a fun family holiday in the sun, a romantic couples’ trip where you never have to leave the beach, or a striking cultural backdrop for your envy-inducing Insta snaps, we’ve got you covered.
Five fascinating religious destinations
Published: 13 February 2020
Easter is the biggest holiday in the Christian calendar, and whether you’re Christian or not, no one can argue with chocolate eggs and a couple of weeks off work or school. If you’re considering jetting overseas for the Easter holidays this year, why not get into the spirit of the holiday by visiting some of the most fascinating religious destinations around the globe? Whether you’ve always dreamed of visiting Jerusalem, want to develop your own spirituality, or are simply interested in learning more about different faiths, there’s so many diverse experiences to choose from. After all, so many of the most historic and most-visited monuments on the planet - from the Hagia Sophia to Angkor Wat - sprang from religion.
From sugar shacks to Cirque: spring activities in Quebec
Published: 08 February 2020
Nowhere does spring quite like Canada. Especially on the east coast, which Quebec dominates, the seasons are well-defined and reliable: summer is roasting hot, autumn is the time of muted colours and healthy harvests; winter is snow season and spring – well, the whole province comes alive right about now. There’s always heaps to do in the buzzy capital of Montreal, but maple syrup enthusiasts will adore heading out to the French-Canadian countryside to see a sugar shack kick off production for the year (and sample the goods, no doubt?). This year, there’s more to lure us over as the world figure-skating championships kick off, and a new Cirque du Soleil show is premiered.
Last minute deals for Valentine’s Day trips
Published: 03 February 2020
Valentine’s Day is almost upon us once more! For those of us who are coupled up, this means working out how best we can indulge and impress our other halves on February 14th. And let’s be honest: when it comes to sweeping your partner off their feet, it’s hard to beat a surprise Valentine’s Day trip overseas. Holidays are an incredible way to reconnect with your significant other – when you’re out of the UK, external worries and stresses just seem to fade, and you can get on with falling in love all over again in an exciting new setting. If you’re single, this is also the perfect time of year to treat yourself. Whether you love travelling solo or prefer holidaying with friends, take some time out of the country to celebrate you.
Are you prepared for your post-Brexit holiday?
Published: 29 January 2020
The official Brexit date of January 31 is looming on us so large that suddenly the tax return deadline doesn’t look so important. Yup: at the turn of the month, we’ll begin our move away from the European Union. Among the questions that remain to be answered is what it means for our holidays. After all, 58 million Brits visit Europe every year, making it our most popular overseas destination. The good news is that our current arrangement is in place at least until December 31 2020, so we can explore the beaches of Portugal, the restaurants of Paris and the craft beer bars of Belgium as much as we’d like. But to make sure Spectrum Travel Insurance customers are fully in the loop and prepared for the shift, we’ve put together a quick guide to the major points. From data roaming concerns to passport rules, this is the definitive arrangement…for now.
Five unmissable attractions for sports fans around the world
Published: 24 January 2020
Yes, travel opens your mind and broadens your cultural horizons. But for the sports fans among us, it’s also an opportunity to visit the sites where the most dramatic, heart-warming and tear-inducing moments in sporting history played out. Touring the place where it all happens shows just how much sport can break down cultural and geographical barriers. Most major sporting attractions also house a museum, so once you’re done watching, you can learn more about some of the world’s most successful teams, like the New York Yankees or FC Barcelona. Maybe you’re more into athletics than team sports? Olympics fanatics simply must visit Switzerland to delve into the fascinating history of the Games. Motor racing enthusiasts, meanwhile, should start saving some dollars if they’re ever going to make the Indy 500..
Best hiking spots for beginners
Published: 19 January 2020
As addicted as we are to our modern comforts, there’s no app in the world that can replicate the fresh air, gentle exertion and sense of achievement of a hike. It’s even better when the ramble is in the depths of the countryside, far away from the hectic aura of a city. But hikes don’t have to be multi-day, specialist affairs - there’s plenty of opportunities for beginners too. What to look for in an easy hike? Top of the list is landscape that’s unique to that destination, whether that’s the cityscape of Japan, the rolling hills of Ireland or the rugged coast of Madeira – after all, the payoff still needs to be spectacular. Then, it helps to have good paths and signposts, so even those with no sense of direction can find their way around.
Best places to go diving around the world
Published: 14 January 2020
Snorkelling is all well and good – and with a multitude of coral reefs, vibrant fish and moving marine life, it really is - but there’s nothing quite like diving to show how beautiful the world can be. Strapped to your own oxygen tank, heading deep underwater allows you to observe aquatic goings-on up close: you might catch a crab busy themselves in sand, or a starfish camouflage into their background. You’re also more likely to see some interesting sea creatures: the deeper waters are where turtles, seahorses and sharks reside. While coral reef and its associated clear waters are decreasing thanks to a mix of pollution and climate change, there are still plenty of places for a dream dive.
Beat the crowds: Vilnius
Published: 09 January 2020
The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius may not be at the top of your bucket list - but we’re about to tell you why it should be. With an eventful history and plenty of fascinating cultural quirks, this indomitable city is both intriguing and charming. Wander streets lined with elegant architecture and pub-crawl your way through warming craft ales in super-cosy establishments. With magnificent churches, plenty of literary monuments, and the bohemian micronation of the Republic of Uzupis to discover, Vilnius is the perfect city break destination. While ideal for a summertime trip, in winter the Christmas market lights up and the whole city transforms into a frosty wonderland where snow is almost guaranteed, making it extra magical. Not convinced yet? Lithuanians have a whole genre of food called ‘snacks to beer’ - basically fried bread and potato pancakes - and it is delightfully delicious.
Where to head for the heat in February
Published: 04 January 2020
Blue Monday might belong to January, but with its grey skies and already discarded New Year’s Resolutions, February in Britain is another bleak month of the year! Of course, there is a way to avoid a chilly, grey February: by leaving the UK behind in search of some much-needed sunshine. Stepping off the plane and feeling the warm air and sun on your face is just the tonic you need to shake off the long, cold winter months and prepare yourself for spring. With most of Europe still experiences temperatures under 20C, finding sun in February means you have to fly a little further – but we promise it’s worth it.
Travel trends for 2020
Published: 30 December 2019
The Roaring Twenties are almost upon us! Alongside the inevitable resurgence of flapper dresses and headbands comes a whole host of shiny new travel trends. The past few years have seen more authentic forms of travel rise, with younger generations eager to learn about and embrace local cultures. Also, green travel has surged in popularity - and it hasn’t peaked yet. We think next year, reducing the negative impact of travel on the planet will be a biggie - no surprises there. We’re also predicting growth in slow travel, in line with the overall authentic travel trend, and in specialised tours. Ancestry travel is also going to be huge, judging by the millions of people taking home DNA tests. Meanwhile - and these are words we never thought we’d say - millennials are finally going to get on board with cruises.
Leap year 2020: The best ways to make the most of the extra day
Published: 20 December 2019
Did you know that if we cancelled all leap years, in 100 years we’d be 24 days out of sync with the seasons? This is because - as Julius Caesar worked out all the way back in 46 BC - the Earth actually takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds to orbit the sun. This is why, almost every four years, we add an extra day to the end of February, giving the year 366 days rather than the traditional 365. Aside from the astronomical benefits of tacking February 29th onto the calendar every now and then, having an extra day in the year gives us all an extra 24 hours. And in 2020 this special day falls on a Saturday – so why not make the most of this extra day by taking a cheeky weekend trip?
Europe’s most spectacular road trips
Published: 15 December 2019
You’re cruising along the open road, with tunes playing from the stereo and the sun is shining overhead: road trips can be a true tonic for the soul. Of course the UK has some fantastic road trip destinations - from the Scottish Highlands to the valleys of South Wales. But if you fancy taking your road-trip game up a gear, there’s nowhere like Europe. With an incredible array of scenery – from coast to mountains to forest to toybox villages – you really can craft your perfect road trip on the continent. It’s home to a seemingly infinite number of beautiful road trip routes, so to help you pick, we’ve highlighted the very best of them below.
Where to head for the heat in January?
Published: 10 December 2019
When your teeth are chattering in the January chill of the UK winter, it’s hardly believable that anywhere on the planet is hot at this time of year. But luckily, there are a number of toasty destinations around the world that allow you to leave the great British winter far behind. January is a great month for a holiday: the festive season is over, the dark nights at home are worth getting away from, and it’s going to be months before the UK thaws out – so why not give yourself some sunshine and warmth to look forward to? Whether you’re dreaming of a beach holiday, a culture-heavy city break, or simply the chance to remove your duffel coat for the first time in months, we’ve got you covered. Stick that out-of-office on and fly off to laze on a Jamaican beach, snorkel in the crystalline waters of the Maldives, or party in Miami.
Beat the crowds: Oman
Published: 05 December 2019
Oman isn’t one of the world’s most famous or popular holiday destinations, but if you’re willing to take a chance and get off the beaten track, this Middle Eastern sultanate will hugely reward you. A spectacular country with an incredibly rich cultural heritage, desert terrain, and an impossibly evocative mountainous skyline, you’d be hard pressed not to be blown away. The culture shocks are plentiful and wonderful: from the evocative souks and the opulent Grand Mosque to the fact you’ll be presented with dates wherever you go. From the stunning capital of Muscat, take day trips into the desert to explore more of the country, see camels and exotic birds, and learn about the Bedouin tribes who still live there. Or there’s the option of a toasty beach break in the Arabian Sea resorts of Salalah, or head to the mountains for some much-needed serenity instead.
Smart alternatives to the world’s most famous attractions
Published: 30 November 2019
The world’s most famous attractions are famous for a reason. No-one goes for a swim in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or wanders Dubrovnik’s city walls and comes away thinking they were just okay. Despite all the marvel, over-tourism can make it difficult to fully enjoy the world’s most iconic attractions - as anyone who has attempted to watch the sunset in Santorini will testify. If you have a passion for seeing the world but don’t want to spend your holiday jostling with bus loads of tourists trying to snap that perfect holiday pic, there are other options. Not only does travelling to lesser-known destinations make for a better experience, it also gives you some off-the-beaten-track travel kudos.
Five tips for ethical travellers
Published: 25 November 2019
Ethical travel can sound a little intimidating and conjure up images of eco-lodges with compost toilets, or using alternative modes of transport, such as sailing, instead of flying everywhere. But when you’ve only got a precious few weeks of annual leave it’s understandable to want a bit of luxury. Responsible tourism doesn’t have to be difficult however; it’s simply about respecting the country you’re visiting whilst also trying to minimise your impact on the planet. A few easy steps - like cutting your CO2 output - can go a long way to making you more of an ethical traveller. But it’s important to tailor your behaviour to your destination too.
Five tips to bag a great travel deal on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Published: 20 November 2019
If you’re anything like us here at Spectrum you’ll love a bargain, and there’s no feeling that quite compares to the thrill of bagging a serious deal. And when shopping for big-ticket items like travel deals, the stakes are even higher. Fortunately for us, we live in the golden age of Black Friday and Cyber Monday: two days where, if we do our preparation and hold our nerve, there are some top travel deals to be had. Still, with plenty of bargain hunters to compete with, it’s not as simple as navigating to your favourite online travel agent and securing a half-price holiday.
Best destinations for music lovers
Published: 15 November 2019
As Plato once said: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”. Or as Timbaland and Miley Cyrus put it: “Hey! Hey! We belong to the music”. However you look at it, music is a universal joy! From serious musos with a much-loved vinyl collection, to those who enjoy bopping along to the latest hits on the radio, learning about music while travelling is a wonderful way to access the culture of your host destination. If you fancy delving deeper into the sounds that are related to specific places, here are the Spectrum team's top destinations for music lovers.
Where to head for heat this December
Published: 10 November 2019
Are you dreaming of a not so white Christmas? Would you rather be enjoying the heat of the sun over the heat of the kitchen come December 25th? If you’re keen to experience a different type of yuletide this year there’s lots of warm winter sun destinations to choose from. Why not swap traditional turkey for a delicious curry and eat it amidst the otherworldly mountains of tranquil Kerala in India? Or give your family the unforgettable festive gift of a Christmas safari amidst Namibia’s rolling sand dunes? Alternatively, swap the stress of your Christmas day kitchen for relaxing on one of Costa Rica or Fiji’s paradise beaches, or tangoing the night away with locals in seductive Buenos Aires.
Beat the crowds: Bhutan
Published: 05 November 2019
A truly magical kingdom, Bhutan is a once-in-a-lifetime destination with awesome mountainous scenery and stunning, historic Buddhist monasteries. If you’re not yet convinced, just know that Bhutan is sometimes known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon – intriguing or what? What’s more, Bhutan has always been careful to ensure the country isn’t damaged due to tourism, making it one of the world’s most unspoilt destinations. Whether you want to learn more about Buddhism, delve into the history of this unique country, or take to the great outdoors for hiking, camping, and white-water rafting, travelling to Bhutan makes for a truly unforgettable trip.
Scariest spots in Europe
Published: 31 October 2019
Hubble bubble toil and trouble - it’s that time of year again, where we celebrate with cauldrons, cobwebs and candles and get to scoff a whole load of sweets and chocolate guilt free! But if you can’t get enough of Halloween, or you just love to be spooked, why not plan something a little different for your next getaway by heading to one of Europe’s scariest spots. If you’re looking for inspiration the Spectrum team has come up with five spine tingling locations – visit them if you dare!
Christmas markets without the crowds
Published: 26 October 2019
Immersing oneself in a Yuletide winterscape, with snow-topped chalets and a steaming mug of mulled wine, is one of the loveliest travel experiences in the run up to Christmas. Vienna certainly got it right when they began the Christmas market tradition back in 1298. Today, plenty of spots in Europe have made a name for themselves with their offering. As well as Vienna’s markets dotted across its centre, Zurich hosts a Swarovski crystal-encrusted tree alongside the largest indoor market in Europe. While in Munich the marvellous gothic Old City Hall forms the backdrop of its Christmas market on Marienplatz. While there’s so much to see and do in these popular places, there’s a strong appeal to lesser-known markets too.
Emerging foodie hotspots
Published: 21 October 2019
For many travellers sampling local foods and embracing the gastronomic scenes of their host countries is a huge part of the adventure. Of course there are firmly established foodie hotspots the world over, from Paris and Peru to New York and Naples. But there are so many more culinary delights to discover for those willing to get off the beaten track. Why not head on a foodie tour of Slovenia’s 24 gastronomical regions? Or if you’re feeling like taking a trip somewhere tropical, Phnom Penh - ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ - is suddenly bursting with unique culinary experiences, while Colombia is finally making a well-deserved name for itself in South America.
Five funky alternatives to skiing - and where to do them
Published: 16 October 2019
There’s nothing quite like a winter sports holiday - that fresh mountain air, impeccable scenery and all that après. Skiing is the most traditional activity to try on a snowy break, while snowboarding has snowballed in popularity. But why follow the crowd when there are so many other options? Whether you’re an expert skier or boarder who wants to try something new, or skiing has simply never been your thing, there’s plenty more fun to be had amidst the mountains of Europe and the Spectrum team has rounded up some of its favourite funky alternatives - and tips on where to enjoy them.
Cabin bag essentials for a more comfortable flight
Published: 11 October 2019
Air travel has come a long way in the last half a century or so. Sure, flying in the 1950s was ultra-glamorous but the tickets cost so much that even a short trip could set you back a month's wages or more. Today, affordable flights give us the flexibility to swan off at the drop of a hat, but the downside is that planes aren't as luxurious, or in some cases as comfortable, as they used to be. But help is at hand as the Spectrum team has compiled a list of its five favourite travel items that'll help make your next flight zip by faster than you can say "cabin crew, prepare for landing".
Where’s hot in November
Published: 06 October 2019
It’s hard to ignore the fact that we’re slipping ever faster towards winter - the leaves are falling, bright blue morning skies belie chilly temps and the nights are quickly drawing in. But if you want to postpone having to dig out your winter coat for a little while, November is a great time to escape to enjoy sun, sea and sand. While the areas of the globe that can offer balmy heat in November are further away with every passing week, there’s still plenty of choice for a sun-soaked holiday. From the desert heat of Morocco to the city heat of Muscat there’s enough choice for a tempting last minute holiday to get one last blast of summery warmth before winter really takes hold. So don’t retire your beach towel and sunglasses just yet.
Beat the crowds: Colombia
Published: 01 October 2019
From its towering mountains to its golden Caribbean beaches, from its skyscraper-packed cities to its jungle-engulfed ruins, Colombia offers something to suit every traveller. South America in microcosm, Colombia is a fantastic introduction to the vast continent. Yet compared to some of its neighbours, Colombia is often overlooked. According to the Latin American Travel Association, the country attracted just eight per cent of all UK visitors to South America, behind Mexico, Brazil and Cuba. But this won’t be the case for long. While it’s largely off the regular tourist trail at the moment, here’s another statistic: the country has seen an astonishing 300 per cent increase in international visitors since 2006 – and that’s surely set to continue.
Unusual yoga retreats
Published: 26 September 2019
Whether you’re an expert yogi, or you’ve just started attending classes, we’re sure you’ll agree that yoga is a relaxing practice and incredible for boosting mindfulness. If you’ve considered heading away to a yoga retreat in the past, but dismissed it as being a little too intense for your tastes, the good news is that there are many quirky options to consider. By complementing your favourite pastime with an activity - be it skiing, scuba, sailing, or ‘beer’ - you can get much more out of your annual leave, while still getting to enjoying some yoga practice. Read on to get the Spectrum team's top picks on the five yoga retreats worth travelling for – and remember, we’ve chosen these independently, with only your enjoyment in mind.
Five sights to see in Liechtenstein
Published: 21 September 2019
Despite being Europe’s fourth-smallest country, with an area only slightly larger than that of Bristol, Liechtenstein packs a lot into its diminutive borders. The German-speaking principality stretches just over 15 miles from north to south, occupying a tiny, mountainous spot encircled by Austria and Switzerland. Fewer than 38,000 people live there – only six other nations in the world have smaller populations – but this is no remote backwater. In fact, it has a fascinating history, from its foundation as part of the Holy Roman Empire, to its struggle to remain neutral during the first and second world wars. If Alpine scenery, medieval castles clinging to craggy peaks, acres of vineyards and splendid cultural attractions are your idea of fun, Liechtenstein is the place for you. And with the principality celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, what better time to visit?
Five places to see in Havana
Published: 16 September 2019
Havana is a spectacular destination whenever you visit, with its pastel-hued old town and classic Americana cars motoring along the Malecon. But on November 16th, Havana marks the 500th anniversary of its foundation as Villa de San Cristobal de La Habana, meaning 2019 is an extra special time to enjoy this unique destination. In preparation for the anniversary, the government has been restoring the city: retaining its unique charm and beauty while making it a better place to live. Epic celebrations are unsurprisingly planned to mark the date, including electrifying cultural events and fascinating tours. But whether you’re planning to visit during Havana’s anniversary year, or further in the future, there’s so much to see it’s tough to work out the unmissables.
Breathtaking walking holidays in Europe
Published: 11 September 2019
Have you ever sped by alluring scenery on a European holiday and wished you could stop the train, bus or taxi to explore a little? If so, it might be an idea to pull on a pair of hiking boots and take a walking holiday that allows you to truly embrace the beautiful and varied nature of the continent – from craggy coastlines to forest-lined lakes. Walking holidays offer you a new perspective on a destination and often give you the opportunity to eat and drink locally for a more authentic experience. You don’t have to be an experienced walker to indulge in a revitalising walking holiday. If you’re new to this, start slow by rambling in Slovenia or along the sparkling Croatian coast. While if you’re feeling up for an adventure you could head to the foothills of the Pyrenees or traverse Iceland’s otherworldly glaciers.
Where’s hot in October
Published: 06 September 2019
It’s about this time that sun-lovers will start to notice the nip in the air and the dreaded return to earlier evenings, meaning that we’re heading towards winter again. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept our fate without a fight. To elongate the summer, and enjoy those jacketless nights for a little longer, there’s always the option to hop on a flight to sunnier climes. But where are the best places to go? The good news is that in October you don’t have to go far to get some solid sun action. Countries only a few hours flight from the UK are still basking in heat, making it a very affordable and tempting option – although there’s no reason not to head off on a long haul jaunt if you fancy it of course.
Beat the crowds: Bucharest
Published: 01 September 2019
Despite being Romania’s capital and largest city, Bucharest is frequently overlooked by visitors to the Eastern European country, who are often eager to head north to the forests, mountains and medieval castles of Transylvania. But they’re missing out. From the winding streets of its elegantly dilapidated Old Town, to the looming presence of the imposing Palace of Parliament, there’s plenty to see and do in this intriguing and historical city. Read the Spectrum team's guide to find out why you should go, and what to do when you're there.
Destinations for wine lovers
Published: 27 August 2019
Vin. Vino. Wein. Let’s face it, wine sounds appealing in every language. If you seriously appreciate a glass, then you might consider taking your knowledge to the next level by travelling to some of the world’s most beautiful wine regions. Where to start on your wine journey? France is a delightful option, or there’s irresistible Portugal. Then there are the winemaking titans of Australia and the US - or how about visiting the Greek birthplace of the God of wine? The Spectrum team is here with its guide covering the top five destinations for wine lovers. Cheers!
Five places to visit while travelling for the Japan Rugby World Cup
Published: 22 August 2019
Throughout its history the Rugby World Cup has only ever been hosted by members of the Six Nations, or its southern hemisphere equivalent, the Rugby Championship. That’s all going to change this year when Rugby Union’s showpiece event ditches its traditional venues and decamps to Japan from 20 September to 2 November. Following the sporting action is obviously high on the agenda for any rugby fans jetting off to the Land of the Rising Sun, but many will also have an additional priority: to explore the fascinating Far Eastern nation, from its magnificent landscapes to its intriguing history.
Last minute options for the August Bank Holiday
Published: 17 August 2019
Wasn’t it the start of summer just three minutes ago? Where did time fly? It’s understandable if the grand plans for the holidays have fallen by the wayside, but if one of those was to treat yourself to a getaway, fear ye not: there’s still time for some precious R&R. While there’s certainly a saving in booking early, there are still decent deals to be had - even when travelling over the best bank holiday of the year, on 26 August. From luxury brand hotels in Dubai to an olde worlde city break in Tallinn, there’s plenty of options at relatively reasonable prices. So make the most of the extra day off and give in to the travel bug within you. That way, you’ll have even more to cover in your ‘what I did this summer’ discussions.
Reasons to visit Sharjah
Published: 12 August 2019
Until recently the buzzing emirate of Sharjah was overlooked by visitors from the UK - even though it’s closer to Dubai Airport than Dubai’s Jumeriah Beach is. But if one was to cross the nearby border there’s a whole unique culture to explore. The third largest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it’s also one of the more conservative, while at the same time making significant steps to modernity. As international tourism rises it’s becoming known as the beating heart of Islamic culture and history – and with excellent prices and good accessibility all-round there’s never been a better time to consider Sharjah for a trip.
The longest aeroplane routes in the world
Published: 07 August 2019
In Jules Verne’s classic 19th century novel Around the World in Eighty Days, the protagonist Phileas Fogg famously tries to circumnavigate the globe in – funnily enough – 80 days. We don’t want to give away any plot spoilers, but it’s reasonable to describe his journey as pretty arduous. But Fogg’s marathon endeavour would have been a little less challenging had he attempted it today. Now it’s possible to board a single flight and step off more than 9,000 miles from your point of departure. Most notably, you can jet from Singapore to Newark in less than 19 hours (for context, it took Verne’s character more than a month to cover the same distance, travelling by train, paddle steamer and, at one point, a wind-powered sledge). And that’s not the only long, long distance flight around. As the aviation industry becomes more sophisticated, we’re connecting great cities quicker and more carbon-efficiently than ever before.
Beat The Crowds: Sarajevo
Published: 02 August 2019
The Balkans are rising in popularity among British travellers and Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a brilliant place to start your exploration of this less-trodden part of the world. The city is breathtakingly pretty and offers plenty to see and do, from exploring its rich history and Ottoman architecture, to hiking in the surrounding mountains and chowing down on mouth-watering street food. What’s more, it’s still not too tourist-heavy, and boasts that all-important cool factor. Best of all, if you’re travelling on a budget there are plenty of cheap flights between the UK and the Bosnian capital. Upon arrival you’ll find the cost of living is wonderfully low too.
Five things to do on the east coast of Mexico
Published: 28 July 2019
If you’re planning a Mexican holiday, chances are you’re eyeing up the country’s east coast. Typified by glorious beaches, guaranteed hot, sunny weather and top-notch hotels, it’s got everything you could possibly want for a relaxing break. While it’s a fantastic place to kick back and unwind, there’s so much to see on Mexico’s east coast that you’ll no doubt want to drag yourself away from the resort at some point. Whether you fancy soaking up the local history, throwing yourself into something active or simply relaxing somewhere a little off the beaten track, you’ll be rewarded for stepping away from your lounger for a day or two.
Five packing tips for three-week trips
Published: 23 July 2019
Jetting off on a three-week trip? You lucky thing! Research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that it takes eight full days to truly relax on holiday, so if you’re only jetting off for a week or two, you’re coming home before you’ve really had a chance to get in the chilled holiday vibe. Instead, three-week holidays give you far more time to explore your destination, or simply to kick back and forget all about work for a while. However, the longer the trip, the more complicated packing becomes. You might buy a bigger case and upgrade your luggage allowance, but you still need to tackle key questions. How can you keep your clothes fresh into the third week? Can you pack a different outfit for every day, or is that Kardashian-level extra? And what about shoes?
Five scrumptious lesser known European foods
Published: 18 July 2019
It’s no secret that Europe is home to some of the most unapologetically delicious food on the planet. There’s the mouthwatering pizzas of Italy, the chocolate-drizzled crepes of France, and England - of course - is home to the good old fashioned fry-up. Hungry yet? While Europe’s most famously scrumptious foods are now exported around the world, if you look a little closer you’ll discover so many more yummy dishes you may never have even heard of. Dishes you need to visit the origin country of to truly appreciate.
Five tips for looking your best in hot destinations
Published: 13 July 2019
We’ve all been there. You’re having the time of your life on holiday, whether you’re relaxing on a Greek beach, sipping a cocktail in Bali or shopping in New York in high summer. You’re snapping selfies left, right and centre. You’re not worried; you know you looked fine before you left the hotel room. But when you glance at the image on the screen you see it’s not quite the holiday look you were going for thanks to the humid climate. However, there are a few things that can help to ensure that you keep looking cool even when the heat is high and the Spectrum team has pulled together its top tips.
Five tips to sleep on a plane
Published: 08 July 2019
One of life’s greater challenges for the traveller is trying to get some shut-eye on a plane. While planes are a godsend for getting us from A to B in quicksmart time, the upright seats and noisy conditions can stop us arriving or returning as fresh as a daisy. But here’s a truth: it needn’t be that way. Even those who are insistent that they’re not able to sleep on planes can find tips or tricks that work effectively. From choosing the best seats for sleep to smelling oils to help ease your journey to the land of nod, there’s a whole host of things you can do aside from reclining your seat and hoping for the best. Whether it’s an overnight flight for a long stretch of sleep, or a short European jaunt in which you need to catch forty winks while you have the time, here’s our guide on how to stand the best chance of a dreamy flight.
Beat the crowds: Laos
Published: 03 July 2019
One of southeast Asia’s most underrated destinations, Laos is a true dream for travellers who love nothing more than leaving the beaten track behind. More peaceful than its Thai and Vietnamese neighbours, and with a luxe edge over the backpacker haven of Cambodia, this sleepy and largely rural country is impossible not to love. With glorious leafy scenery, fine dining and super polite people it’s a true R&R paradise. What’s more, as it’s unlikely your friends will have been yet, you’ll get all the travel kudos for going the extra 6,000 or so miles before they do. It does mean that planning a trip to Laos takes a little bit more work than a traditional fly and flop, especially as there are experiences and places you won’t want to miss.
Five techie tips for finding cheap flights
Published: 28 June 2019
Once upon a time, arranging a holiday involved popping into your local high street travel agent and relying on them to find you a suitable package. But while that’s still an option, today there’s a host of online tools enabling you to track down the perfect break any time of day or night. There are some fantastic tried-and-trusted ways to find yourself a bargain on flights. Like if you’re flexible on dates you can set up alerts to notify you when prices drop; if you’re not sold on a specific destination, you can look out for flash sales and pricing errors. But best of all you don’t need to be a Sherlock Holmes-esque sleuth to track down the best flight deals online - you just need to know what you’re looking for.
Best budget friendly summer holiday deals
Published: 23 June 2019
If you’re anything like us you probably spend most of the year browsing summer holiday deals and dreaming of some much-needed warmth and relaxation. And when it comes to arranging a trip away, we’re sure budget is a factor. So with our independent, non-partisan hat on we’ve scoured the web for the best mid-range holiday breaks, based on a family of two adults and two children staying over the summer holidays.
Tips for getting the best seats on an aeroplane
Published: 18 June 2019
There is nothing like the feeling of settling back on a long flight with just that little bit of extra legroom, or a quieter area, or away from the queues for the toilets. With just a little know-how and effort it’s possible to bag yourself a decent seat, giving you the best possible chance of a relaxing flight – and maybe a little sleep too. Best of all, it won’t necessarily cost you any extra money to book yourself a prime spot. While we can’t promise that the person sat next to you won’t fall asleep on your shoulder, or attempt to instigate a lengthy conversation the second the plane takes off, we can suggest ways to make your flight as comfy as possible.
How to make the most of the midnight sun
Published: 13 June 2019
It’s pretty much a given than most of us love a long summer evening. The only thing better than sitting in a park or out in your garden, sipping a frosty beverage and eating delicious barbecued food, is if the night could last a little longer. Well, it's possible to enjoy summer evenings that stretch well into the small hours - you just have to travel a little way to find them. The tilt of the Earth’s axis means that at the planet’s northern and southern extremities the summer days are almost never-ending. The extra light means that travellers can really make each day of their holiday count - whether you want to spend it partying at a festival or whale watching until the early hours, the extended days allows activities to continue all night long.
Published: 08 June 2019
As the climate change message has become increasingly urgent over the past decade eco-tourism has made its way up the agenda. We can still travel and make the most of this incredible planet we live on - but it would be great if we could do it in a way that ensures future generations will get to embrace it too. Luckily, there are a number of countries more than willing to host your holiday while also helping you to negate the negative impact of your travel. In some destinations you’ll find a whole host of eco-friendly travel businesses, from hotels to tours, while other locations are simply dedicated to protecting their own unique corner of the world. Wherever you’re visiting there’s bound to be ways to travel more responsibly, so it’s vital to research ahead of time.
Beat the crowds: Puglia
Published: 03 June 2019
If your ideal getaway involves tiny picturesque villages, grand baroque towns, mouth-watering cuisine and jaw-dropping landscapes, you'll find it all in Puglia. Even better, you'll also be able to while away the long, sunny days lounging on tranquil golden beaches, which isn’t always easy to find along Italy's coastline. Despite its many visit-worthy qualities, Puglia, the region in the heel of Italy's boot, attracts just a fraction of the tourists of better-known areas like Campania and Tuscany. But it won’t stay this way for long. There are clear signs that the Puglian secret is starting to get out, with tourism operators frequently citing it as one of the country's hottest up-and-coming destinations. If you want to visit Puglia as it is today - largely unspoiled and oozing relaxed Southern Italian charm - you'd better move fast.
Alternative holiday ideas for kids' summer holidays
Published: 29 May 2019
Key components for any summer holiday where kids are involved are ice cream, sunscreen and a trusty bucket and spade. While a fly and flop holiday to a sandy beach somewhere in Europe is always plenty of fun for the kids, and let’s face it, much needed for mum and dad, why not try somewhere a little different this year? Whether you’re a family that is either looking for outdoor adventures, keen to explore more of Europe or to educate your kids through travel, a family holiday can mean so much more than lying by the pool. It doesn’t have to be pricey either - Europe contains some fantastic unusual holiday options from Dracula’s spiritual home to the lesser-explored parts of Scandinavia. Take a trip further afield and you could be zip-lining through the jungle canopies of Costa Rica or exploring Tokyo’s toy shops.
Top five cricket-crazy destinations
Published: 24 May 2019
Cricket will be high on the agenda this summer, with the World Cup taking place on home soil from 30 May to 14 July, followed shortly after by the latest chapter in the 137-year Ashes rivalry between England and Australia. While not every country is privvy to this great sport, it does reach the four corners of the globe, from England, Wales, and Ireland in the north, to Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in the south, the Asian giants of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in the east, and the West Indies in the west. Few sports have the colour, passion and tension of international cricket. From the fancy dress-clad devotees of England's Barmy Army to the boisterous and partisan ranks of an Indian cricket crowd with their homemade banners, a day at the cricket can be a real feast for the senses – making it a great excuse to pay a visit.
Last minute European breaks for late May bank holiday
Published: 19 May 2019
Now that the spate of spring bank holidays are coming to an end we should probably use our precious time over the next long weekend to get that garage sorted, clear out the attic, visit family…or go on a cheeky break. Whether you’re keen to take in different terrains and scenes, explore new cities or chase the sun around Europe now that the days are really heating up, there’s a whole host of exciting options to suit soloists, couples, families and friends for the final bank holiday in May. With impressively-priced holiday packages helping to seal the deal it might well be more affordable than you think. We’ve scoured the internet and done the legwork to find some options for late May it would be hard to refuse – and remember, we’ve no vested interested in these other than to find you a bargainous holiday you won’t forget in a hurry.
European summer festivals
Published: 14 May 2019
Warm beer, overheated tents, the inevitable rain: there’s nothing quite like a great British festival is there? This year why not make your experience bigger and better, or even just quirkier, by jetting overseas to one of Europe’s famed festivals. After all, some of the world’s biggest artists will be hitting events in destinations including Denmark and Hungary. Or alternatively you could seek out a hidden gem, like The World Bodypainting Festival, that none of your friends have hit up yet. Either way venturing abroad for a festival provides the double win of getting to see some of your favourite acts while also enjoying an exciting new city. And the weather will (probably) be better too.
Hip places for summer holidays
Published: 09 May 2019
It's hard to define what makes a destination cool. Sometimes, the second everyone becomes aware that a place is trendy, it ceases to be so. Let's face it, even David Bowie and Iggy Pop's 1970s Berlin apartment would have lost its edge if it had been full of selfie stick-wielding tourists. Yet in other instances - think Shoreditch in London or Williamsburg in New York - a location seems to grow in coolness precisely because everyone already thinks it's a trendy place to be.
Beat the crowds: Osaka
Published: 04 May 2019
Osaka, Japan’s ‘second city’, is famed for its street food scene, neon-lit roads and parks packed with beautiful cherry blossom trees. If you haven’t been yet, now’s the perfect time to get it ticked off that ever-expanding bucket list. Why? With the Rugby World Cup hitting Japan in September this year, and Osaka being one of the 12 cities chosen to host games, before you know it the city will be flooded with tourists. Furthermore, getting there has become easier, with British Airways recently launching direct flights to Osaka from London, eliminating the need for lengthy layovers.
Where to watch the Tour de France
Published: 29 April 2019
Cycling doesn't appear that difficult, does it, apart from once a year when the riders of the Tour de France prove quite how Herculean it can be as they embark on the marathon 21-stage race that sees them cover an average of more than 100 miles a day. For the French the Tour de France is a national celebration; it's considered a huge honour for a town or village to be chosen as a host venue. Fans flock from across the world to watch the action unfold, while clamouring to get their hands-on free gifts doled out by the publicity motorcade that precedes the riders at each stage. Fancy sampling a slice of the action first-hand? The 2019 Tour de France runs from 6 to 28 July.
What to do in Israel
Published: 24 April 2019
There's nothing quite like the Eurovision Song Contest. Literally. From solo artists performing operatic duets with themselves (here's looking at you, Croatian superstar Jaques Houdek) to unicycling violinists, and Graham Norton's ever-growing sense of despair as the UK lands its sixth successive ‘nul points’, it truly is an unrivalled multisensory experience. This year the final takes place in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, officially starting on 14 May. If you fancy heading to Israel, either to enjoy the Contest first hand or at another point in the year, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Check out the Spectrum team's guide on what to do while you're there.
Five destinations for chocolate lovers
Published: 19 April 2019
As Easter Sunday approaches, our thoughts turn (even more than usual) to chocolate. Sweet and light, rich and dark. Melt-in-the-mouth loveliness. Sorry, where were we? Ah yes – chocolate isn't just a delicious snack, it's been shown to have a beneficial impact on heart health, to improve cognitive function and to heighten your mood. It's a veritable superfood. In short, chocolate deserves to be celebrated. And what better way to honour it than by visiting some of the places in the world that have made the biggest contribution to our beloved confectionery? With that in mind, we’ve picked out our favourite places for chocolate worshippers, accompanied by some fascinating facts with which to wow your fellow chocoholics.
Alternative destinations for Game of Thrones fans
Published: 14 April 2019
After seven series of unrelenting drama and dragons, winter has finally come – which means it’s a perfect time to take a Game of Thrones pilgrimage, though hopefully, to sunnier climes. By now, fans of HBO’s record-breaking series will know the locations that provide a fantastical backdrop to the quest to reinstate the Starks to their rightful position. It’s involved the greenery of Northern Ireland, the winter scenes of Iceland, the Mediterranean architecture of Seville and the ancient cityscape of Dubrovnik. But that’s only telling part of the Game of Thrones story. Look closely, and you’ll find some incredible wonders of the world in other memorable scenes.
Where’s hot in May?
Published: 09 April 2019
With the mercury slowly creeping up in the UK come May, the good news is that heat-seeking holidaymakers have a much wider variety of destinations to choose from. That’s because if our little island is warming up, more and more European destinations will be hotting up. Or alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a far-flung adventure in the Caribbean or Southeast Asia, by May, these destinations are really sizzling. Depending on where you’re heading you may need to take care with your packing choices though as temperatures can still fluctuate at this time of year - so be careful you don’t land in your shorts, t-shirt and sandals only to find out you should have brought a mid-weight jacket too!
Beat the crowds: Pittsburgh
Published: 05 April 2019
Formerly a large industrial city in the Midwest, thanks partly to its strategic location intersecting three rivers – the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny – Pittsburgh has remerged from its grittier post-industrial era. Now it’s a hotbed of heartland American culture, with American football and baseball playing a central role, and resident tech giants like Apple and Facebook influencing its make-up (plus keep an eye out for Uber’s first test of driverless cars). While the city is already popular with Americans, its direct door to London now means that it will no doubt gain in popularity this side of the pond too. So before it really takes off, make the most of the cheaper fares by heading there first.
Last minute Easter breaks
Published: 30 March 2019
We’ve all been there: you’re so busy that you really need a holiday, but finding the time to actually sit down and book one is a challenge. Before you know it, school holidays are mere days away, and despite your constant daydreams about beaches, swimming pools, and heat (remember that?) you’ve nothing arranged. If this is you right now, don’t worry. As the Easter holidays approach, hotels and airlines often release some of their best deals in a bid to make the most of their busiest times of year. And we’ve done the hard work for you, scouring the internet high and low in order to find the top options for last-minute Easter holidays – and as we’re totally independent our only vested interest is that you find the holiday you need.
Up and coming Euro cities for a short break
Published: 25 March 2019
With Easter happening in a few weeks’ time and then the usual two days off in early and late May there’s a few bank holidays coming up that you can use to bag a long weekend away. But if you feel that Euro tourist hotspots like Dubrovnik or Barcelona are a little played out, or you just fancy going somewhere your friends haven’t been yet, then it’s time to turn your attention to the up-and-coming city break destinations that are still a little off-the-beaten-track.
Kid-friendly European cities for a short break
Published: 25 March 2019
With Easter coming late this year, quickly followed by the 6 and 27 May, there’s a bank holiday bonanza on the horizon. With these ‘extra’ days come the potential to head away and as the kids are off school, you're out of the office, and temperatures across Europe are starting to warm up - all things considered, it's a great time for a city break. Of course, even the most optimistic of parents would be forced to admit that travelling as a family narrows down the destinations available. Fortunately, some of Europe's cities make it an absolute cinch to visit with kids, thanks to their excellent transport links, pleasant climates and array of child-friendly attractions and amenities.
Perfect destinations for adventurous couples
Published: 20 March 2019
While for some couples the perfect holiday comprises of nothing more strenuous than relaxing by the pool, for others that just isn’t their cup of tea. If you fall into the latter category, or you feel like experiencing a more energetic holiday this time round, there are plenty of options available for active couples. Rock climbing, safari and snorkelling are all perfect ways to bond and create memories that will last a lifetime, and it’s all the more blissful when they’re done in far-flung destinations that rate amongst the best in the world for the activity.
Five fashion hacks for travelling with just a cabin bag
Published: 15 March 2019
As airfares drop amid increased competition and travellers become increasingly budget-conscious, it's hardly surprising that many airlines now charge a painful price for baggage. It's not unusual to see fees of £30 or more for 20kg of hold luggage – which can sometimes be more than the cost of the flight. Of course if you're planning a short getaway, you might be able to save yourself some cash by opting to only take a cabin bag. Naturally, you'll need to show a little restraint - your favourite tuxedo or ball gown will probably have to stay at home, unfortunately - but with a bit of careful planning it's perfectly possible to get through a long weekend with only a cabin bag's worth of clothing.
Where's hot in April?
Published: 10 March 2019
If you're anything like us, the beloved childhood film Bambi will have left you constantly associating the words ‘April’ and ‘showers’. In reality, it's actually the second driest month in the UK - but why take the chance? Escape the nearly-but-not-quite-there weather by booking yourself a trip someplace hot. And with the Easter school holidays falling in April, it's the perfect opportunity for a big family getaway. While there are lots of far flung destinations to choose from, most of the Euro-zone is still heating up but there are a few options to consider if you fancy a break closer to home - you just need to know where to look.
Beat the crowds: Sicily
Published: 05 March 2019
Getting off the beaten track can be one of the most satisfying elements of travelling. It's wonderful to explore authentic culture and food that you only find hints of at home. The downside, of course, is that you may miss out on everyday creature comforts. So wouldn't it be great if there was somewhere that combined all the joys of a lesser-explored destination with the comfort of the tourist trail? That’s where Sicily comes in. With its balmy climate, gorgeous scenery, endlessly explorable cities, fascinating history and incredible food, the Mediterranean's largest island appears tailor-made for tourism - yet visitor numbers pale in comparison to Italy's biggest attractions. The city of Venice is 60 times smaller than Sicily and has just a fifth of the population, but receives four times more tourists each year than the whole island combined.
Places perfect for an Easter weekend break
Published: 28 February 2019
Easter is about more than just eating your bodyweight in egg-shaped chocolate products. With a bank holiday bonanza and the kids off school it's also a fantastic opportunity for a mini-break. Whether you fancy exploring historic buildings, watching live music, keeping the little ones entertained or just kicking back on a beach, cocktail in hand, there are countless options. But all that choice can be a little overwhelming. Plus with it being a long weekend you don’t want to spend too many of your precious holiday hours getting to your destination either.
Five movie studios you can visit
Published: 23 February 2019
With all the glitz of the 91st Academy Awards hitting Hollywood this coming Monday (25 February 19), the eyes of the world will be turned to LA once more. The Oscars’ red carpet is one of the most prolific celebrity moments of the year but unless you’re one of the film world’s elite, or a movie star’s latest squeeze, the red carpet is off-limits. However, if you’d really relish the chance to get behind the scenes many film studios, in LA and beyond, offer tours that allow you to see where the pre-Oscars magic happens. Movie fans can step inside real sets, take a closer look at the famous props used in blockbusters and watch films being made right in front of your eyes.
How to Brexit-proof your holiday
Published: 18 February 2019
With 29 March deadline of Brexit hurtling towards us like a runaway train, the first place that we might feel the split with the European Union on an everyday level is with travel. With the Easter Bank Holiday weekend occurring not long afterwards, and plenty of summer holidays in the offing, there are still some question marks around the logistics of it all. Rest assured, whatever happens, the EU has promised travellers that planes won’t ground to a halt, so don’t let it put you off booking your next hols. But when it comes to the organisation, we’ll all need to be more informed to make sure we’re not caught out.
Top romantic destinations - for any time of year
Published: 13 February 2019
Romance is not just for Valentine’s Day. Amidst the splendour of the world’s most romantic destinations, that argument about whose turn it was to put the bins out can be left firmly in the past, and you can get back to falling in love all over again. You don’t need to wait for the summer sun to inject some more passion into your lives either, with many destinations only ramping up the romance as the mercury drops. And away from Valentine's, there’s better value for money – so it can be spent showering them with the bells and the whistles of a holiday instead.
Where’s hot in March
Published: 08 February 2019
If you've made it all the way through the long, cold winter without a holiday, congratulations! But don't you think it's time to reward yourself with some sun, sea, sand, and sightseeing? March is a great time for a getaway. Perched proudly between February’s half-term and the Easter holidays, it offers excellent value for money. The biggest downside to travelling in March is that much of Europe is still fairly chilly and even slightly farther-flung hotspots like Marmaris in Turkey and Tunis in Tunisia rarely exceed the high teens. Fortunately, the Spectrum team is here to help. Read on for its top five locations to visit for hot weather this March.
Beat the crowds: Albania
Published: 03 February 2019
It's not easy to get off the beaten track in Europe, but there are still hidden gems to be found if you know where to look. Albania is one such example. The Balkan nation may be small in size, but its jaw-dropping terrain encompasses everything from golden sandy beaches to towering, snow-capped mountains. If you're looking for a city break and don't fancy tourist-heavy locations like Venice, Prague and Budapest, head for Tirana. Along with the rest of the country, the Albanian capital was almost completely isolated from the West until the early 1990s, but having emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, it now offers a tantalising combination of old world charm and cosmopolitan ambience. It's not unusual to see luxury cars driving along unpaved roads, while gleaming skyscrapers tower above tiny, winding alleys dotted with cafes and bars.
Airlines that auction their business class seats
Published: 29 January 2019
It wasn’t long ago that one could turn up at the airport and, with a bit of luck and the right shoes, stand a chance of being bumped up to business class. The fabled freebie. That still happens on the odd occasion, but constrained by tightening budgets, airlines have begun to get smarter about how they fill those empty business class seats. One idea that’s taken off is auctioning available seats for those in economy who don’t want to pay full price. But be warned: there’s usually a minimum bid, so bargain hunters won’t be able to throw in a £50 bid and hope for the best – as a very rough figure, expect the minimum bid to be £100 for each hour you fly. Still, it’s possible to get hundreds of pounds off a full-price business class ticket if you’re willing to take the risk and find out just before boarding. It’s an especially successful method with leisure flights (like sun destinations and weekend flights), where the premium seats often remain empty.
How to save money at the airport
Published: 24 January 2019
Hurray, you're going on holiday! First stop is the airport and while they may be the gateway to your dream getaway, they also can be harbingers of doom for your hard-earned cash. According to Netflights, the average person spends almost £60 at the airport, with 53% going on food, 44% on hot drinks and 28% on booze. That's a pretty significant dent in your holiday money before you've even boarded your flight. Fortunately, we at Spectrum are experts when it comes to making funds go further. From baggage check-in to duty-free shopping, read on for the Spectrum team's top tips on how to save money next time you're at the airport.
The world’s safest airlines
Published: 19 January 2019
We’re sure every travel lover is familiar with the factoid that flying is the safest form of transport. Even so, recent years have brought an advancement in technology that means passengers can be even more assured that they’re in safe hands. But it doesn’t mean we’re not curious about which airlines are the safest. That’s why AirlineRatings annually compile their list of the world’s safest airlines – and they’ve just released their latest set. They closely studied 405 airlines across the globe, looking at factors like audits from governments, aviation organisations and lead associations. They also totted up the crash and serious incident reports, as well as the age of the aeroplanes they fly, and the airline’s profitability. Spoiler alert: Qantas Airlines came top and the rest of the top 20 were too close to call, so they’ve been listed rather than ranked. That’s a similar case for the safest low-cost airlines, which resulted in an equal top 10.
Ski holidays for February half-term
Published: 14 January 2019
Do you dream of Alpine vistas and log cabins? Does relaxing in a hot tub after a day on the slopes sound like your idea of heaven? Do you wish you could eat fondue every day for a week without being judged by society? If you answered yes to all of the above, may we suggest you book a ski holiday pronto? Ski breaks are a superb family-friendly activity and the February half-term – mostly Saturday 16 to Sunday 24 February – is a fantastic time for a trip, as you'll be pretty much guaranteed excellent ski conditions at Europe's top resorts. Read on for the Spectrum team's pick of the best February half-term ski holidays – all based on a group of two adults and two children, including flights, transfers and accommodation.
Where’s hot in February?
Published: 09 January 2019
With winter still trapping the northern hemisphere in its icy grip, February is a great time to take a break to warmer climes, although sunseekers will need to be a little creative when choosing a destination for their getaway. Even European hotspots like Cyprus and Malta rarely get hotter than the high teens. They’re pleasant enough, but hardly beach weather. Fortunately, the Spectrum team are here to help. Read on for our choice of the top five locations to visit for sun, sea and sand this February.
Beat the crowds: Zanzibar
Published: 04 January 2019
Located off the east coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of two main islands, Pemba and Unjuga, and many smaller ones. Unjuga is the larger of the main islands and home to the capital of Zanzibar Town, though the whole island is often also referred to as Zanzibar. While this can be a bit confusing, it's a small hurdle for swimming in crystal-clear waters, relaxing on golden sands and exploring the historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. If Zanzibar sounds like your kind of place, here’s the Spectrum team's guide on why you should go and what to do when you get there.
Travel trends for 2019
Published: 30 December 2018
Now don't get us wrong, we love a low hassle, tried and tested holiday as much as the next person. But at the same time it's hard to beat the feeling of experiencing something genuinely different. Whether that means beating the tourist crush to visit a new up-and-coming location or employing new logistics to take a special holiday, there's something to be said for being ahead of the curve. As a quickly shape-shifting industry there’s a whole host of new and exciting things in store for 2019, both for the occasional traveller or those who believe they’ve seen it all. We’ve compiled our list of the hottest travel trends for 2019, so you can see it and experience it before your friends and family have chance to ask if you're going anywhere nice next year.
2018 Travel News Review
Published: 20 December 2018
Remember those well-intended New Year’s resolutions? We should know by now that in every aspect, each year ends differently to our expectations – and travel is no different. While some trends have continued, like the industry’s drive to make travel as sustainable as possible, 2018 has brought all manner of surprises: some good, some bad, and some intriguing enough to pique the interest of even the most intrepid of explorers. From the launch of the world's longest-ever flight to the planned expansion of Heathrow Airport, we've seen some pretty significant changes over the past 12 months – a year that’s expected to see a record number of Brits jetting away for work or pleasure. So what were the most important developments?
Beat the crowds: Georgia
Published: 15 December 2018
In the first of our new series, we take a closer look at the destinations that are fast becoming the next buzzworthy place to be. The idea is that with this inside knowledge, you can immerse yourself before it’s well and truly on the tourist trail. And there’s no better destination to start than Georgia – the country that is, not the US state! Located on the other side of Europe and bordering Asia, Georgia has long been under-appreciated as a tourist destination. But there’s a rising interest, as anyone who caught Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road series can confirm. A Soviet republic until 1991, it’s full of beautiful architecture, untouched hiking trails, cycling routes and warm hospitable people ready to welcome guests.
Five galleries to visit in Madrid
Published: 10 December 2018
Truly, Spain isn’t short of a gallery or two. With a strong artistic heritage – which encouraged the works of Picasso, Dali and Gris - each city boasts at least one beautiful gallery to show off its art. Bilbao has the Guggenheim, Barcelona has the National Art Museum of Catalonia and even the party town of Malaga has the beautiful Pompidou Centre. But we’d suggest that art lovers take a trip to Madrid where in between great food, great shopping and great nightlife, a who’s who of popular artists line the walls of its many famous galleries. Days could be spent hopping from gallery to gallery, taking in the sights to which prints and posters don’t do justice – though a trip to the gift shops are an extra treat for art-lovers.
Where's hot in January?
Published: 05 December 2018
Some New Year's resolutions are doomed from the outset. Why give yourself an unrealistic goal like sticking to a regular gym routine or spending less time on your phone, when you could just resolve to travel more often? January is the perfect time to start, especially as the weather here is freezing and everyone's too busy trying to be healthy to go out for dinner. So treat yourself by leaving it all behind for a week or two and jet off for some much-needed winter sun. But where to go for guaranteed hot weather at the start of the year?
How to make the most of your Christmas annual leave
Published: 30 November 2018
Never been abroad for Christmas? You don't know what you're missing. With picture-perfect markets, breathtaking snowscapes or even the possibility of some hot weather to help you stave off the winter blues, there's plenty to like about a festive getaway. Still not convinced? Let us twist your arm a little further. Did you know that this Christmas, you can take just four days of annual leave and get a truly joyous 11 days off work? All you need to do in order to level up your Christmas break is book off Christmas Eve, 27 December, 28 December and 31 December.
Last minute winter sun getaway deals
Published: 25 November 2018
If the dark nights and chilly days are beginning to grow tiresome, we don’t need to suffer them in this day and age. With competition increasing, travel companies are offering knock-down prices to lure Brits away when we need sunshine the most. It means that we can get some much-needed respite from the British winter, all while enjoying the cultural and climatic riches of another destination. Whether it’s a short-haul trip for more bearable temperatures or a far-flung holiday deal that you’re tempted by, we’ve searched high and low to bring the best bargains to you. Remember, we’re completely independent and don’t profit from these recommendations – simply put, we’re happy when you’re happy.
Five discount shopping trips abroad
Published: 20 November 2018
Black Friday and Cyber Monday may almost be upon us, but put down that laptop, tablet, smartphone and everything in between: as tempting as those designed-to-be-on-sale offers are, nothing beats the glamour of an overseas shopping jaunt. And it’s even more satisfying when you know you’ve bagged a bargain you could never get at home. From the US east coast to the foothills of Japan's Fuji Mountain, some of our favourite holiday destinations also offer superb discount shopping opportunities, courtesy of accessible outlet malls carrying a cavalcade of sought-after brands. And when you're dressed head to toe in Vivienne Westwood, who's going to know - or care - that you bought it all for a bargain price?
Up-to-date cabin bag rules
Published: 15 November 2018
Is it two bags or one? Does it cost to bring a wheelie on the plane? And whether it’s free or chargeable, what size is allowed? Knowing your luggage allowance is no intuitive task – especially when the rules keep changing as Ryanair’s just did for the second time this year. Cynics among us might say airlines do this on purpose to earn a few more bob in add-ons or fees, but whatever the reason, it’s a risky move not to double check what is and isn’t allowed beforehand. So while we’d encourage travellers to research their cabin allowance – especially as we approach winter and jumpers take up valuable space – we’ve taken a look at the latest rules. If the news isn’t to your liking, don’t forget to browse our other newsletters to see how you can pack smartly and make the most of your allowance.
Unusual places to spend Christmas
Published: 10 November 2018
Ever get bored of the same old Christmas, year after year? Now don't get us wrong, we love Good Saint Nick as much as the next person. But sometimes - just sometimes - the thought of eating turkey for days, watching yet more James Bond reruns and attempting to persuade your uncle that he's had one-too-many sherries can send a shiver down the spine – and it's got nothing to do with the freezing weather. If the reality of another British Christmas gives you a similar feeling of ennui, maybe it's time to swap the Queen’s speech for a serene beach, and spend the festive season overseas? Obviously we love travelling at any time of year, but there's something extra special about jetting off for a late-December getaway, especially when you consider all the fascinating, and occasionally bizarre, Christmas traditions celebrated overseas.
Where’s hot in December?
Published: 05 November 2018
For some people, keeping warm in December is all about wearing copious amounts of knitwear, snuggling in front of a roaring log fire and enjoying roast dinners in quaint country pubs. But for others, a steaming mug of eggnog does not compare to the lure of sun-drenched beaches and the only way to escape the chill is to flee gloomy Britain and jet off to warmer climes. Whether you’re hankering for the deliciously spicy foods and verdant scenery of south-east Asia, the easy-going nature and frosty beers of Oz, or the rum, reggae and relaxation of a dreamy Caribbean island, you're sure to find a hot-weather destination to help you shed those winter blues.
Spooky festivals across the world
Published: 31 October 2018
Whether you spend months planning your Halloween party, or you prefer to curl up on the sofa with a hot drink and a vintage horror film, there’s something fun about getting a little creeped out. The UK’s version of Halloween may be little more than an excuse to dress up and eat our body weight in sweets, but there are plenty of festivals that take the business of spooking a little more seriously. From the colourful celebrations seen at Mexico’s Day of the Dead, to more off-the-beaten-track creepiness in the USA, it seems that people worldwide love a scare as much as we do. So in honour of today, the Spectrum team has rounded up some of our favourite spine-tingling festivals from around the globe, from the super spooky to the downright silly.
Missing the warmth? Extend the summer at these five locations
Published: 26 October 2018
The UK avoided its usual tepid summer this year, enjoying multiple heatwaves which of course meant that instead of moaning about how poor the weather was, we still made our feelings heard about the fact that it was far too hot! Complaints are no doubt being regretted now that the country has returned to its usual state of mixed weather and colder days, and we've ditched our summer clothes for jackets and jumpers. If you weren't quite ready to say goodbye to the sizzling temperatures, however, there are plenty of destinations where you can forget about the undoubtedly dreary British weather to come.
Traditional Christmas markets
Published: 21 October 2018
Nothing gets you in the festive spirit quite like wandering around a traditional Christmas market, fairy lights twinkling above and a powdery blanket of snow underfoot. There’s a wealth of arts and crafts on offer, and even if your Christmas shopping is complete, it’s still worth visiting a market to imbibe a sweet glass of mulled wine, or to hear a traditional Bavarian Oompah band play. While the UK’s big cities play home to their own special markets, why not go big on the Christmas feeling and sample some of the festive offerings abroad. Whether you want to experience a traditional Christmas market in Europe, or see how they do December across the pond, there’s plenty of variety. And if you’re struggling to muster up that yuletide spirit this year, the magical atmosphere of these markets is sure to enchant even the Grinch-iest of attendees.
Culinary experiences in Menorca
Published: 16 October 2018
Menorca might often be overlooked in favour of its bigger sibling Majorca, but that means it’s a special secret for those of discerning taste. The Balearic island offers a wealth of beaches, UNESCO-protected landscapes and oodles of charm. But its shining draw lies within the vistas of hilly green fields and rustic farmland, as the fresh and tasty local cuisine is perfect for holiday dining. With traditional methods still used across the island, it’s no wonder Menorca’s gastronomy is taking centre stage. Across the Spanish islands, it holds a strong reputation for its cheese, oil, saffron pastries and mayonnaise, named after its capital of Mahon (or Mao). Its size means that producers can’t make enough for mass exports, but those who make the trip over can visit warehouses, dairies, restaurants and vineyards to get a look behind the production process – as well as sample their goods
Five chocolate experiences in Saint Lucia
Published: 11 October 2018
As we turn our attention to tasty treats ahead of Chocolate Week, which starts on October 15th, you might be surprised to learn that while Saint Lucia is the land of Caribbean sunsets and lavish honeymoon hotels, it’s also one of the most important cocoa-growing regions in the world. Its small area means that it’s not as well-known as other major players like Ecuador or Brazil, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. As well as having some of the purest, tastiest chocolate you’re likely to find, the island has some great chocolatey experiences too. These can range from high-end luxury indulgences like chocolate spa treatments through to the traditional hot chocolate drink that Saint Lucians have enjoyed for many years.
New and improved skiing holidays for winter 2018
Published: 06 October 2018
There are few things better than gliding down the Alps amidst a picture-perfect winter scene, snow underfoot and the sun on your face. Or collapsing in front of a roaring fire, happily exhausted after a day of skiing, with a warming beverage in hand. There’s nothing quite like a rejuvenating skiing holiday to boost your spirits in winter, whether you’re an expert on the slopes or just a beginner. So this year, why not swap out the winter sun destination for a rustic mountain village dusted with snow and replace activities on the sand and surf with the thrill of skiing or snowboarding?
Five vegetarian foods worth travelling for
Published: 01 October 2018
Veggies can find a limited choice when it comes to eating abroad, especially in countries where abstaining from meat is pretty much unheard of. It’s not much fun watching your friends tucking into obscure national delicacies while you’re stuck with a plate of soggy fries, or having to repeatedly explain your eating preferences to bemused waiters or offended locals. This is why it’s such a treat to travel to destinations where delicious veggie dishes are a central component, or even a highlight, of national cuisine. From the mouth-watering street food of India, to Greece’s irresistible feta and spinach dishes, there’s plenty for vegetarians to get excited about when it comes to international cuisine.
New routes for winter 2018
Published: 26 September 2018
Whether you want to escape the chilly British weather, or embrace the season with a frosty festive break, winter can be a great time to leave the (often) dreary UK behind. And thanks to a number of airline carriers introducing new routes just for winter 2018, there’s a mixture of exciting off-the-beaten-track destinations and popular tourist hotspots to choose from. Here’s the Spectrum team's roundup of its favourite new routes launching at UK airports this winter.
Tips for hiking abroad
Published: 21 September 2018
Whether you’re planning to scale a mountain, venture through the jungles of Vietnam or amble across the vineyards of southern France, hiking abroad is an activity that demands preparation. There are plenty of rewards to hiking on holiday – it means you conquer an exciting new challenge, take in otherworldly scenery and snap that #goals Instagram post. However, there might also be challenges along the way, not least because of the combination of doing something outdoorsy in a different country. Still, with a bit of research and planning - from working out your route to making sensible packing decisions - you can ensure your hike abroad is the idyllic adventure you’ve been dreaming of.
Five destinations for tech heads
Published: 16 September 2018
Do you think a classic games arcade holds just as much fascinating history as the British Museum? Do your ears crave the sweet sound of your Mac powering up more than the music of the Vienna State Opera? If you think so, then we're confident you'd appreciate a holiday destination that combines the joys of travel with a hearty dose of technology. Ahead of National Coding Week, starting on 17 September, we've rounded up five of the world's hotspots that are an absolute must for tech lovers. Whether you fancy a pilgrimage to the former stomping ground of Jobs and Wozniak or you'd rather pay homage to the world's first ever electronic computer, the Spectrum team has come up with some techie adventure options to consider.
Five theme parks for half-term holidays
Published: 11 September 2018
If your kids are tired of holidays packed to the brim with walks and museums, remember the two little words that are bound to get them excited about a family trip: theme park. Children, teenagers, or big kids, can’t resist the thrill of rushing through the air on a rollercoaster, getting sprayed by the log flume on a hot day or stuffing themselves with sugary confectionary. If you’ve exhausted the UK’s options, this half-term is the perfect time to venture abroad to find your family’s new favourite theme park. The US does a fantastic trade in larger-than-life rollercoasters and there are plenty of European parks bound to excite and delight the little ones if you'd rather stay closer to home. Weather around the October half-term can be hit and miss, but with a theme park on your doorstep, a little cloud cover won’t ruin your holiday.
Five of the best spa towns
Published: 06 September 2018
As if we needed another excuse to indulge in a little pampering, 10 September marks the start of Spa Week, which celebrates the great art of rest and relaxation. While there’s plenty going on in day spas and spa hotels, there’s nothing quite like a visit to a real-life spa town, built and populated around its locally-famous waters. These towns are worth visiting not only to discover a new area in a new country and all the fun that entails. Often, daytime activities can revolve around their geothermal goodness in hot springs or whole lakes infused with minerals that are said to aid youthfulness and good health. From rustic, unregulated waters to luxury facilities, every spa fiend will find a spiritual home that’s right for them.
Five places to see autumn colours
Published: 01 September 2018
It might seem strange to be mentioning woolly jumpers, crackling fires and Pumpkin Spice Lattes what with the summer we’ve been enjoying, but there’s nothing quite like that cosy autumnal feeling we’ll soon be experiencing. And while autumn might be beautiful here in the UK, there are locations across the world where the spectrum of autumnal colours is simply stunning. So if you’re already looking forward to what the next season has in store here’s the Spectrum Team's favourite destinations for showcasing autumn scenery.
Five literary places to visit
Published: 27 August 2018
Tearing yourself away from the pages of your favourite novel to embrace the big, wide world can admittedly be difficult sometimes, but what if you were jetting off to one of your favourite literary locations? From historic cities frequented by famous authors of centuries gone by, to the enchanting backdrops of classic novels, the world offers plenty of opportunities to see the words on your most-thumbed pages become a reality. Stalk the Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff, or head to St Petersburg’s Dostoevsky Zone to see the enigmatic environments that shaped the classics. If you’d rather walk in an author’s very footsteps, head to the USA to visit the hometowns of American literary heavyweights, or jet to Venice to drink in the same bar as the notorious Lord Byron.
Five villages to visit in Cyprus
Published: 22 August 2018
It’s not easy for holidaymakers to prise themselves away from the warm beaches of Cyprus. Along the north but especially in the south of the island there are vast stretches of beautiful sand and plush resorts that give you that holiday feeling of being as far away from real life as one can get. But those who explore more of the country will find their efforts rewarded. In recent years, the government have invested heavily in restoring old, sparsely-populated villages into thriving centres of artisanal industry. Family businesses – from halloumi–making to wine production – have been revived, cute cottage houses returned to their former glory and longstanding Cypriot traditions have been honoured by a new generation.
Top five airlines in the world
Published: 17 August 2018
Regular fliers will know that airlines can vary greatly, even when prices are similar. Small touches like a complimentary chocolate after take-off or larger differences like a smoother fleet of aeroplanes can really make a difference to the enjoyment of a flight. So which airlines should we be travelling with to ensure our holidays start the moment we take off? To answer that, every year Skytrax undertake a thorough survey to rank the very best airlines in the world. Their awards have now become the industry standard, and 2018’s eagerly-awaited results have recently been released. As usual, their top 10 is dominated by Middle Eastern and Asian airlines that try and outdo each other when it comes to customer comfort and excellent service.
Europe’s best street food markets
Published: 12 August 2018
The past decade has seen a foodie revolution that has transformed how we eat, both at home and abroad. No longer do travellers stick to the safe option on the menu, or eat in the most obvious tourists traps. Now, even the most cautious visitors prefer to seek out hidden culinary gems, for an authentic experience to tell their friends about. And visiting a street food market is one of the best and most fascinating ways to immerse yourself into local foodie culture. Asia might be the continent with the longest tradition of street food, but Europe is rapidly catching up. In Spain, tapas lends itself well to a street food format, while in countries like Germany and Denmark, new life is being breathed into historic buildings through the installation of food stalls.
What’s new in Cuba
Published: 07 August 2018
Visitors often report that going to Cuba is like going back in time. Unaffected by the pressures of commercialisation, the Caribbean island has progressed at a different rate than the tech-tastic world around it. But as Bob Dylan once said, the times, they are a-changing. Look behind the classic cars and the crumbling colonial architecture, and it’s progressing at a rip-roaring rate, and now buoyed by the new president Miguel Díaz-Canel – the first non-Castro leader in 42 years. He inherits a country that’s already modernising. Areas formerly left derelict after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 have been restored to their former glory.
Five of the best last-minute summer deals
Published: 02 August 2018
The summer heatwave hasn't just been great for Britain's suppliers of fans, paddling pools and barbeques - it's also been fantastic for would-be holidaymakers. Why? Well as we mentioned in our last newsletter, there's been a surge in the popularity of staycations to coastal destinations like Cornwall and Wales. This in turn means that the travel industry has been forced to slash prices to coax Brits away from our own sunny shores. Whether you're tempted by a sundrenched city break, a tropical beach holiday or an indulgent stay at an all-inclusive resort, there are some incredible late summer deals out there - as long as you know where to look.
Last minute summer all-inclusive deals
Published: 28 July 2018
With the sweltering heat and sunny skies, Britain is having one of its best summers yet. As if that wasn’t good enough news, jetsetters of the world will be delighted to find out this has led to plenty of amazing holiday deals. You see, more people than ever are staycationing, so tour operators and travel companies are making their holidays more tempting with knock-down prices. And because it’s no easy task to tear ourselves away from busy parks and invitations for barbeques, we reckon an all-inclusive holiday is what it takes to justify the sacrifice.
Five foods of Madrid
Published: 23 July 2018
Every year, six million travellers make their way to Madrid to experience its many delights – not least the warm weather and sunny skies that’s mostly found in the Spanish capital. In between attractions like Grand Via, the Royal Palace and Retiro Park, there’s a distinct joy in taking a break to enjoy the sangria, cava and tapas the country is famous for. In restaurant-heavy areas like Barrio de Las Letras and Conde Duque, there are quirks specific to Madrid. It doesn’t always follow the Catalonian influence found in the rest of Spain and nor is it as seafood-dominant as the coastal areas. Instead they have popular dishes that together, make a distinctly Madrileño experience.
Europe’s artiest hotels
Published: 18 July 2018
Culture vultures might often be torn when travelling: do you spend that last bit of energy visiting more galleries, or relax back at the hotel and recharge the batteries? Thankfully, especially in the cultural continent of Europe, art hotels offer both temptations at once. Rather than pick a chain hotel with standard style, or a boutique hotel with a strong style, art hotels are there to surround their guests with beautiful aesthetics. We’re talking contemporary hotels that exude a gallery feel, as well as rooms that are an art installation themselves - there’s enough on offer that it will feel like a wasted opportunity not to stay in hotels that don’t have Dali on their walls.
The hottest destinations on earth
Published: 13 July 2018
When it comes to holidays, sometimes a cool weather destination just won’t cut it. As Brits, we spend a considerable amount of time in cold, wet and generally grey weather, so when we’re shelling out for a holiday, we expect to at least glimpse a bit of sun and feel a bit of warmth. Luckily, there are some destinations where hot weather is pretty much guaranteed. Of course there are sunny locations close to home in Europe, but for truly soaring temperatures, fly a bit further to the deserts of the Middle East, or the toastiest parts of North America. In the world’s hottest places, you don’t need to wait for summer to get away as these countries are perfect for escaping the UK’s winter gloom too - just don’t forget your high-factor sun cream!
Travel attire mistakes to avoid
Published: 08 July 2018
How many times have you checked in at your hotel, rushed upstairs to get changed and upon opening your case felt a pang of despair at what you’ve packed for your holiday? Maybe you’ve brought clashing separates that can only result in a fashion disaster, or you’ve left your comfy shoes for your sightseeing tour at home. On the other end of the scale, choosing the wrong fabric for the weather can leave you feeling icky in the sun or fed up in cold and wet conditions. Either way, there are plenty of travel attire mistakes definitely worth avoiding. Putting in a bit of thought during the shopping and packing process will help to ensure you turn up at your destination with the right items to enjoy every minute of your hard-earned trip.
Fun places to learn photography
Published: 03 July 2018
With a world full of diverse scenes and sights, travel allows aspiring photographers endless opportunities to hone their skills. And whether it’s architecture or the natural world that gets you snap happy, the perfect destination is out there. Of course, those with intermediate photography skills can venture out on their own and capture amazing images of exotic animals or spectacular landscapes, for example. But often aesthetically interesting places have tours run by experts, to help beginners cope in more tricky situations like low light or underwater.
Five ways to find cheap flights
Published: 28 June 2018
The only feeling better than being on holiday is the feeling of getting it for a bargain price. The good news is that it’s not only our friendly local travel agent that can seek out the best deals to some of the hottest destinations. Look in the right places, and there’s a wealth of information for holidaymakers wanting to beat the system and pay less for their flight. Whether it’s something as easy as signing up to a newsletter or flying a longer route for a bigger discount, the Spectrum team has gathered up some of the canniest ways to ensure a well-priced seat to make that holiday fund stretch further.
Maximise your cabin luggage space
Published: 23 June 2018
Thanks to budget airlines it’s easier and cheaper than ever to head off on a mini-break and going cabin-bag not only saves you money but spares you that tedious wait at the baggage carousel. Now that some budget airlines like Norwegian Air are charging extra for hold luggage on long-haul flights too, it’s no wonder more holidaymakers are ditching bulky suitcases and jetting abroad with nothing more than a small cabin bag in tow. Travelling with just a small case has a number of advantages, but especially for longer holidays or trips to a different climate, it does mean you have to get creative with your packing.
Destinations For Grandparents To Take Their Grandchildren
Published: 18 June 2018
When it comes to travel trends, we’ve noticed it’s increasingly popular for grandparents to take their grandkids away for some extra special bonding time. Discovering a new place together while undertaking fun activities is a perfect way to strengthen a relationship and make enduring memories. So it’s extra important to make sure the holiday fits the bill. For example, the destination has to have activities to interest both the older and the younger members of the party. It also helps when the aesthetic of the place is striking – that way, the resulting photographs will make the parents at home dead jealous!
What you need to know about travelling with medicine
Published: 13 June 2018
With currency, transfers, visas and much more to sort out before heading on holiday, it’s no wonder that thinking about our medicine is low on the list of priorities. In fact, half of us take prescription medicine on holiday, but only one in three look up the rules for taking prescribed medication abroad and just one in five do this for over-the-counter medicines. But actually, a check of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice is key. On the gov.uk website, they’ll let readers know which medicines common in the UK could get confiscated abroad or in worse cases, could get you locked up. As we cast our travel nets wider and jet to far-flung places, it’s key to know how local laws affect us.
All-inclusive hotels for large family groups
Published: 08 June 2018
There’s nothing quite like the quality time you get when you’re on holiday, which is perhaps why there’s a resurgence of trips for larger family groups. Whether for a wedding, birthday, anniversary or just because, it’s a great chance to bond away from our busy lives. To maximise the free time and minimise stress, all-inclusive hotels, where all meals and drinks are included in the price of the room, are perfect. Not only do they mean there’s no money worries once the hotel wristbands are given out but everyone can run to their own schedule if they want.
Royal palaces to visit across the world
Published: 03 June 2018
It’s a right royal year here in the UK. Not only have we seen the long-awaited wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but Princess Eugenie will marry Jack Brooksbank later this year. And to top it all off Queen Elizabeth II has further cause for celebration as yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of her coronation. Such occasions have made the likes of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle even more of an attraction to tourists, though they’re just two of the many royal palaces worth a visit. Across the world, the finest interiors and best architecture have been employed to make royal residences the most spectacular buildings in the land.
What to do in Valencia, Spain
Published: 24 May 2018
Visitors to Valencia, a third of whom are Brits, adore its thriving arts, culture and gastronomy scene. What’s particularly noticeable is that snaking through the city the old path of the river is given over to green space with historical landmarks, cultural venues and viewing points along the way. The City of Arts and Sciences is a particular highlight but throughout the city the architecture is Instagram-friendly. And the presentation of paella, its native dish, is often updated for a new generation – that’s if it’s not beautifully served in the traditional manner.
Holidays fit for royalty
Published: 19 May 2018
With today being the day when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’ travel lovers will be wondering about an important aspect: their honeymoon. If the day itself is an example of everything that’s England’s finest, their break away will surely demonstrate the best that the world has to offer. The latest accounts suggest that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will head to Namibia to celebrate and relax after their big day. This up and coming destination is indeed a place fit for royalty, but if you’re after a first class holiday the Spectrum team has found five other options where regal luxury abounds.
Five sights to see in Russia
Published: 14 May 2018
With plenty of international visitors heading to Russia to enjoy the action at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the question is what to do when the final whistle blows? The historic and curious country of Russia offers so many cultural delights it would be a travesty to not take the opportunity to see at least some of its world-famous attractions From the brilliance of Saint Basil’s Cathedral to the Hermitage Museum complex in St Petersburg, its many wonders make it a key place to soak up Eastern European culture – even without the vodka.
Holidays for active families
Published: 09 May 2018
Part of the joy of parenting is introducing kids to the world around them – and there’s no better way than through outdoorsy holidays. Though the UK offers many opportunities to get active, heading to areas overseas that specialise in particular pursuits, helps inspire a love of fresh air and fitness, while also being exposed to different cultures and customs. From the waters of Portugal to the lakes of Germany, the Spectrum team has come up with five destinations perfect for both parents and their kids to head away to and get active together.
Where to go with a group of friends
Published: 04 May 2018
Group holidays are a case of the more, the merrier. It’s a delight to swap and shift company over the course of a few days and spend quality time with friends in a different locale. But it also means that the destination has to be just right. Beach holidays might leave some of the party cold, and others might not appreciate activity holidays from the starting line. For jam-packed group holidays that suit a wide range of tastes, budgets, interests and foibles whilst not generic enough to bore everyone, the Spectrum team has pulled together a list of its favourite five destinations that should keep everyone happy.
Russia World Cup - know before you go
Published: 29 April 2018
Taking place every four years, 2018’s World Cup kicks off on Thursday 14 June and lasts until Sunday 15 July. It will see 32 teams play in matches across 11 of its key cities, including Moscow, Sochi and the beautiful St Petersburg. For those lucky enough to be heading over, it’s worth spending some time researching the logistics of the trip. Russia’s rules can be quite strict and enforced under normal circumstances, and these rules are changing in light of the footie tournament. To give a head start, here are five pointers the Spectrum team thinks are important to know before you go.
What to do in Pula, Croatia
Published: 24 April 2018
On the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Pula in Croatia is a charming city marked by its Roman past – though it was also in the hands of the Slovenes and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was part of neighbouring Italy until the early 20th century. Nowadays, at the end of cobbled pedestrian streets selling artisan goods from paintings to local wines, pieces of history remain standing. The Istrian area is also known for its beautiful coastlines and myriad sailing opportunities. With a relaxed pace of life that’s inevitably absorbed by its visitors, no wonder Pula has become a trending destination, with BA the latest airline to fly there from the UK.
Celebrities’ favourite getaways
Published: 19 April 2018
As holidays are meant to be a break from the hum-drum of everyday life, it’s no wonder we look to celebrities for holiday inspiration. For if they live their lives in glitz and glamour, their happy place must really be something special. Yes, they may well stay in ultra-luxurious retreats where their every whim is catered for, but when they’re sipping a cocktail watching the sun go down, it’s the very same view as ours. The Spectrum team has picked five places where you may find the great and the good clocking in and checking out.
No-fly holidays from the UK
Published: 14 April 2018
Due to the large distances and waters around us, plane travel is usually the go to mode of transport when it comes to holidays abroad. And that brings with it its own set of considerations: holidays need planning well in advance, we have to tack on a few hours extra for the faff of airports, and those who dislike flying need to mentally prepare. Happily, there are a growing number of destinations we can reach through alternative modes of transport. The Eurostar is expanding its routes and connections, while ferry companies have the major benefit of enabling us to take a car along, making transit doubly easier.
Five Commonwealth Games cities to visit
Published: 09 April 2018
Sports fans of all persuasions – from armchair enthusiasts to seasoned professionals – will be pleased the Commonwealth Games are back in full swing. It's the fifth time Australia has hosted the Games, with the action this time taking place along the beautiful Gold Coast. Of course, the event is a great showcase for the area, with its miles of alluring beaches and vibrant, outdoorsy lifestyle. Once the event is over on 15 April, it will return to being one of the high-profile areas that have previously hosted the Games.
Five civil rights tours
Published: 04 April 2018
Today marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr’s death – an important day in America’s history, and indeed, the western world. To mark the occasion, and for culture vultures who relish the opportunity to find out more about an area’s modern history, there are a rising number of tours of inspirational places in civil rights history. At the start of the year, Travel South USA introduced the comprehensive Civil Rights Trail, taking in the key points of interest in the civil rights movement, from Martin Luther King’s birthplace to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, depicted in the 2014 movie Selma.
Five amazing religious sites
Published: 30 March 2018
Easter may mean a welcome run of bank holidays for most and a glut of chocolate for some, but lest we forget, there’s a religious element too. With today being Good Friday it seems the perfect time for the Spectrum Travel Insurance team to look at where travellers should head to experience some of the world’s most fascinating sacred places whose religious history is captivating. While churches and cathedrals are often top of the list, here are five other religious sites that also double as novel destinations for the culture-curious.
Five foods of New Orleans
Published: 25 March 2018
New Orleans is a city that just keeps giving. From its parades to jazz culture, to the marshlands and its deep history it’s full of fascinating features that tourists can explore. And its food heritage is a large part of that. With Creole culture dominant, the fusion of foods has proved so popular they’re now perfected to incredible standards. Of course it helps that the Crescent City is located near the sea, resulting in some of America’s best seafood restaurants. No wonder New Orleans is known as a foodie destination, with gastronomic tours high on the list of activities in the area.
The most amazing churches in Germany
Published: 20 March 2018
Whatever your religious persuasion or level of interest, churches are often worth seeing as pieces of art on the inside, and architecture on the outside. This is certainly the case in Germany, where strong religious traditions and many similar sized-towns have helped impressive churches and cathedrals become a fixture across the country. Whether you’re holidaying in Hamburg or doing business in Berlin, it takes just a few minutes to step into a church and experience the beauty and serenity inside.
What to do if your flight is delayed
Published: 15 March 2018
One of the most common problems of airline travel are the inevitable delays. We expect a few minutes tardiness in a complex operation where buffer times are tight and safety remains paramount. But those are empty words on those rarer occasions when faced with a few hours of painful waiting at a crowded airport gate. If that happens to you, there’s more that can be done than stewing in one’s own juices.
Lisbon for £300
Published: 10 March 2018
This year, Lisbon plays host to the Eurovision Song Contest in May – but we’re in no need of an excuse to jet to the Portuguese capital thanks to its charming trams, hilltop vistas and excellent cuisine.Better still, the Post Office rated it as the cheapest city break in Western Europe in 2016, finding that two nights in a three-star hotel, an evening meal for two, travel cards and entry into some major attractions costs just £160. That means even now, a budget of £300 will generously cover a weekend away.
What to do in Queensland during the Commonwealth Games
Published: 05 March 2018
For the 21st Commonwealth Games, from 4 to 15 April 2018, over 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 Commonwealth nations will jet into Queensland – with a fair few spectators ready to cheer them on too. Of course, these travellers will come for the Games but many will stay for the sights. From the natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and lush rainforests, to the ultra-modern Gold Coast and unspoilt islands of paradise, Queensland is one of the most diverse areas on earth and just like the Games themselves, a trip down under will involve a busy, back-to-back schedule.
Family-friendly holidays in France
Published: 28 February 2018
With February half term already a distant memory, it’s only a little over a month until Easter descends providing another great family getaway opportunity. If you’ve yet to put any plans in place, and you’re not up for heading to a far-flung destination, what about France as a tempting alternative? With rustic towns, pretty countryside, vibrant cities, snow-capped mountains and miles of stylish coast to explore, you’ve got yourself a high-return holiday just across the channel.
Europe’s five most interesting second cities
Published: 23 February 2018
When planning a short European break it’s often the case that we look to a country’s capital city to head away to. And while these are the ones that house most of the important buildings and cultural amenities, there’s plenty of interest in second cities too. Not aiming to compete on such a global scale, these cities have developed a personality that’s more representative of the country and its customs. Often, the buildings are quirkier, the restaurants more inventive and the culture more grassroots.
America’s five best brewery tours
Published: 18 February 2018
With their love of sports and relaxed nature, beer is the drink most synonymous with Americans – and while visitors might use that as an excuse to hang out in a bar, it’s possible to go one better with a brewery tour. Across America, both industrial and craft brewers throw open their doors to interested parties, showing their unique hop-to-glass process, often with a tasting of special brews at the end.
Top exotic jungle hotels
Published: 13 February 2018
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, it isn’t only the lion that sleeps tonight. As our thirst for the weird and wonderful increases, the range of accommodation found in the depths of verdant rainforests has also risen. It’s led to some novel overnighters, from luxury pads in cloud forests to tented villas where an elephant’s trumpet acts as the camp’s alarm clock. If getting back to nature sounds like a tempting holiday, jungle retreats are found along the equator: across central and south America, in parts of central Africa and the islands of South East Asia.
Winter Olympics – Five Fab Former Hosts
Published: 08 February 2018
For those who love anything winter sports related it’s about to get very exciting as the XXIII Winter Olympics starts tomorrow (9 February) in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Over the years many places have benefited hugely from the exposure that hosting the Winter Olympics brings, as you’re immediately marked out as a leader in winter activities and this piques the interest for general tourists wanting to check out a culturally important destination.
Five things to do in Orlando for free
Published: 03 February 2018
As far as holidays go, a trip to Orlando, Florida can add up. But while the biggest attractions have a price tag attached, you don’t have to factor in expensive activities all day every day, especially if you make use of all the free entertainment on offer in the Sunshine State. Away from the theme parks, there’s plenty going on to entertain the thousands of tourists that visit every week. From major attractions to pleasant parks, there are amenities to make use of and atmospheres to soak up that don’t cost a dime.
Europe’s best located airports
Published: 29 January 2018
Us Brits might notice how far London spans when it comes to its airports: it stretches from Gatwick in Sussex, to Luton in Bedfordshire, all the way out to Southend. Certainly, in the big capitals of Europe, a shortage of space means that airports are pushed further and further out. But that’s not a universal experience: many vibrant cities make travel easy, with a conveniently located airport that’s just a hop, skip or jump away from its epicentre.
Five foods of Warsaw
Published: 24 January 2018
Polish gastronomy has a style of its own but one we can replicate in the winter months by following recipes of hearty stews, meats and dumplings. But there’s nothing quite like the real thing. And in the buzzing capital of Warsaw, where competition is high and the clientele discerning, the cuisine offered is just as it should be: a tantalising treat. Even better, flights to Warsaw are competitive and on-the-ground it’s great value for money, so a quick jaunt over won’t break the bank.
Where’s warm in February?
Published: 19 January 2018
It’s impossible to resist a trip away come February. It’s that time of year when the winter blues have truly kicked in, and we could use a little Vitamin D to boost our energy levels and some outdoor heat to warm our bones. It helps that February is a good month to get away. As the days become a little brighter, there are more accessible places offering the dose of warmer weather that we need at this point. Plus for families the half-term holidays also provide a great excuse (if one was needed!).
Casablanca for £300
Published: 14 January 2018
When it comes to well-priced, romance-filled holidays, a short trip to Casablanca is hard to beat. The Moroccan coastal city, made famous by the 1942 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, is a destination of many wonders yet is less touristy than its neighbours of Marrakech and Fez, making it ideal for a couple’s holiday come Valentine’s Day. There’s so much to see and do - from the bustling port, to the French colonial buildings, to the fine-sand beaches – that at least three days are needed to get under its skin.
Trendy destinations for 2018
Published: 09 January 2018
Now that our annual leave and travel budgets have been reset, it’s time to ponder over which exciting destinations are on the cards for 2018 – and happily, there’s no shortage of places coming to the fore. While old favourites like the Canary Islands, New York and Tokyo expect a heaving British contingent as usual, other destinations are preparing for a rising influx. We’ve picked out five destinations that are hot picks and not just because of their balmy weather.
Travel trends of 2018
Published: 04 January 2018
It’s not surprising after all the parties, presents, glitz and festive cheer we’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks that January can feel like a very long month! But one aspect that can help beat the blues is to focus on the fact that there’s 12 months stretching out in front of us so now’s the perfect time to start planning those all-important trips away! With destination options seemingly never-ending, it’s sometimes hard to pin point where to go.