Latest Spectrum Newsletters
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.