Latest Spectrum Newsletters
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.