Belgian Grand Prix – Spa Travel Guide Belgium

Is it your dream to head to Spa for some high octane F1 action? Here’s what you need to know to make sure you enjoy your stay in style!

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How to get to Spa-Francorchamps

You can choose to fly into Brussels Airport, Luxembourg, Colne Bonn, or Dusseldorf – all of which are 110-140km away from Spa-Francorchamps, so you’ll need a transfer to wherever you are staying. A private hire transfer is ideal so you can arrive rested, or if you aren’t staying at or next to the track get a hire car so you can get from your accommodation to the circuit easily.

Where to stay near the F1 action

Trackside camping is the by far the most popular way to stay at Spa, and some say it is the only way to really get the full Spa Grand Prix experience. There are also glamping and camping options within 5km of the Spa circuit – including a dedicated F1 Glamping site that has a restaurant and bar.

If camping isn’t your style but you don’t want to splash your life savings on nearby hotel, then the best bet is get a hire car and stay in Liege, Aachen, Maastricht, or Luxembourg.

If you are going to Spa with a no-holds-barred approach, book a room at Hotel de la Source. It’s just a five minute walk form the F1 Paddock and is where many of the drivers, VIPs and celebrities stay for the race weekend.

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What to pack

Layers and waterproofs – the temperature is changeable and can get very wet
Rucksack – for taking your layers and waterproofs to the track
Comfy trainers or walking shoes – the Spa circuit is well known for its grassy and hilly terrain

Don’t worry about the glitz factor at Spa, it is a track that is well known for having a more relaxed feel, maybe because it’s hard to keep up polished appearances under a plastic poncho!

Loose change – some toilets have a fee to use
Snacks and drinks – things can get costly quickly eating “out” all weekend trackside, although cheaper options are available to grab before you go through the gates.

Good to know
• Spa itself is in a French-speaking part of Belgium, but you’ll happily get by with English, Dutch and German.
• The tap water is safe to drink.
• The currency is Euro.
• The weather in August is as warm as it gets (17 °C) but Spa has a micro-climate that gets a lot of rain, so don’t go expecting lots of sun!
• In case of emergency dial 112, 100 (medical emergencies only), or 101 (police only).

Our travel insurance comes with a 24 hour helpline for total peace on mind wherever you are in the world. Get in touch with one of our team to find out more about our worldwide travel insurance.

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Hiking In The Swiss Alps – Summer Destination Guide

Whether your thing is peak bagging, glacier trailing, or hiking through blissfuly beautiful meadows – the Swiss Alps are likely on your bucket list! Here’s what you need to know if you’re heading to the Alps this summer!

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When to go hike the Swiss Alps

The most pleasant months to explore the alps is July and August when the weather is usually dry and warm and the days are nice and long. Do be aware though that even in summer snow can fall, so ensure you pack for every season.

Average temperature in the summer is between 14°C and 21°C
Sunrise approx 6am and sunset approx 9pm

Where to stay in the Swiss Alps

This all depends on the routes you are taking and the type of experience you want to have – the choice is generally between camping – wild or at a designated site, B&B/Hotel, or a mountain hut. In our opinion there are only two options for a true backpack adventure!

Wild Camping – knowing where you can pop up your bivvy can be complicated. For starers you are only allowed to wild camp in the mountains, above the tree line, but not if you are in a nature reserve, hunting ban area, or wild rest zone – having said that you might fall into one of the exception categories. Best bet if you want to sleep under the stars is to contact the local authority when planning your trip to get a definitive answer.

Mountain Hut – the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) are responsible for the mountain huts in the Swiss Alps, and there are a huge variety over a vast area to squeeze into your hiking itinerary. Some offer no more than a place to sleep for the night, others are more like hostels offering food. Most are dorm-like spaces but some also offer private rooms. All welcome visitors regardless of experience from families on a first-time hike through to experienced mountaineers.

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Fun Facts:
• There are 153 huts and shelters in the Swiss Alps
• The lowest altitude you’ll find a hut is at 1474m
• The highest altitude you’ll find one is an emergency bivouac at 4003m
• The biggest mountain hut in the Swiss Alps has 155 beds
• The smallest has just 8 beds
• The first hut was built in 1863
• At any one time there is room for 9000 people to sleep in mountain huts in the Swiss Alps!

What to watch out for hiking the Swiss Alps

Switzerland is considered a safe country with negligible violent crime, and the alps as you can imagine pose even fewer such risks. Hiking in the alps however brings some risks that you’d expect anywhere in the world with the same terrain. Top things for consideration are:

The weather! It can change at any moment, especially if you are at high altitude.
Beware cattle – especially if there are calves. Attacks do happen, so keep your distance and do not surprise them.
Altitude sickness – know the signs and what to do if altitude sickness hits.
Dehydration – an unsuspecting danger for all hikers – but it can affect your judgement and your performance which can be sketchy if you decide to bag a peak!

Get the right travel insurance!

Having the right travel insurance means that you are covered for the sports and activities you do while you are away and policies can be tailored to suit your itinerary and interests.

Essential Safety Advice: If you need help the recognised sign is six signals per minute followed by a one minute break – either blowing a whistle or shining a torch.

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Swiss Alps Summer Kit List

• A good pair of closed toe waterproof walking boots. Tip: boots are better because they protect your ankles on uneven terrain.
• Seamless socks
• Breathable comfortable clothes that you can wear inlayers – think base layers, durable trousers (to protect from bushes and rocks), breathable jumper/fleece, light down jacket, and wind and waterproof outer layers.
• Hat, gloves and thermals in case of snow – yes even in summer!
• Sunscreen
• Sunglasses – sports type are best to cut out glare from the sides, and they are less likely to slip off your face!
• Cap to protect from summer sun
• Trekking poles
• First aid kit
• Emergency food such as high protein bars
• A whistle in case of an emergency
• Torch
• A weather resistant paper map of of your routes
• An offline map of your routes – AllTrails is a great app, download before you go!

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Get an online travel insurance quote fast with worldwideinsure.com today!

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Packing Tips for Long Trips

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Deciding what to pack for an extended trip overseas is easy with these insider tips!

1. Choose your luggage wisely! Packing to fill a 20kg suitcase is a different game to packing all that you can into a backpack! Think about how often you’ll be going from one location to the next and how you’ll be getting there. Maybe hoiking a great big case around isn’t worth the hassle if you are on the move each week and will be travelling by bus!

2. Don’t take anything that you can buy along the way. Shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, bodywash… some things are sold all over the world – there is no need to waste precious packing space on stuff that you can get at your destination.

3. Downsize your electronics. Kindles are great space savers for avid readers, but a tablet with all your relevant apps is even better! Having devices that use the same charger is another great way to save space, and get a battery pack to keep things powered while you are on the move.

Top tip: Did you know that most TV screens have a USB port making it easy to charge devices without needing to pack extra adaptors!

4. Pack travel friendly-clothes. These are clothes that:
• Are light and good to layer
• Resistant to creasing
• Can be dressed up or dressed down (think jumpsuits, dresses and chinos)
• Dark in colour – so less likely to show marks or stains.

5. Create a capsule travel wardrobe. You can only wear one outfit at a time so make sure that whatever you pack goes with all the other things you are taking, that way the clothes you take will make a multitude of outfits! Top tip is to avoid packing statement pieces or clothes with bold patterns.

6. Think the rule of three. Realistically packing what you need for a week can get you through a trip of any duration, and a rule of thumb is to pack three of each “thing”, so there is allowance for one in the wash, while one is drying while you are wearing one of the other. It may look something like this:

• 3 short sleeve tops
• 3 long sleeve tops
• Combination of three shorts/trousers/skirts/jumpsuits
• 3 undergarments
• 3 pairs of socks
• Combination of three jumpers/cardigans/hoodies

7. Pack a sarong or hammam towel. There is nothing a sarong can’t be used for; towel, blanket, beach coverup, skirt, curtain, even a bag and a sling (plenty more uses can be found here… 30 ways to use a sarong!). They come in any print and colour way you fancy and can even be used to add some flair to an outfit they pack down small and are easy to replace. However, there is one huge advantage of a hammam towel – the special fibres! Traditional Turkish cotton fibres are extra long and thin which means you get all the absorbency of a regular towel in something that is as lightweight as a sarong. They dry fast and also come in a multitude of colourways!

8. Learn to pack smart! Use every centimetre of space you have! Stuff undies, socks, sarongs, jewellery etc in shoes. Roll AND fold, use whatever works best for the item you’re packing. Wear your bulkiest items, extra important if you need hiking boots and a bulky coat or jumper.

9. Remember that most things can be picked up if needed. It isn’t the end of the  thanks world if you haven’t packed something for every occasion, chances are you can get what you need as you need it. Charity shops and thrift shops could be your best friend. Pick up cheap and then donate what you no longer need.

If you are planning an extended adventure, gap year, or you are just wandering off into the great blue yonder leaving the rest to fate – make sure you get longstay travel insurance, a specialist policy for longterm adventurers! Cover can be from 3 to 18 months, and if you are still working your way around the world it can be extended while you are still travelling.

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Gap Year Travel – Where to Go and What To Do

The world is your oyster, so how on earth are you meant to decide where to go and what to do on an extended travel break? We highlight some of the different types of gap year adventures available and give some pointers to help you choose what option is right for you.

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Types of Gap Year

There are four main types of gap year, each with it’s own focus and merit, so your first decision might be based on how you want to spend your time abroad before you decide on where it is you would like to go.

Volunteer Gap Year: A gap year programme built around volunteering for a community or cause. This could be animal rescue, conservation, construction and renovation, teaching, medical or as support in a chosen community.

Popular Volunteer Gap Year Programmes:
• Animal Conservation, Kenya
• Community Support, Romania
• Healthcare, South America

Academic Gap Year: This is an opportunity to study abroad either in your chosen area of interest or in a completely new subject. Programmes and placements are often as courses, but internships are really common too.

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Popular Academic Gap Year Universities:
• Harvard University, USA
• Fudan University, Shanghai
• Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu

Immersive Gap Year: The perfect way to experience a whole new culture! An immersive gap year is focussed on integrating with a different way of life, usually by living with a host family, learning the language, and fully taking part in the cultural practices.

Recommended Destinations for an Immersive Gap Year:
• India
• South Africa
• Brazil

Personal Gap Year: The focus on this type of programme is more about personal development – exploring your own interests and seeing where the journey takes you, or working on a project. A personal gap year is ideal if you’ve got a dream of turning a hobby into something bigger, or you just want to indulge in one of your passions before you make your next big life decisions.

Top Destinations for a Personal Gap Year:
• Thailand
• Australia
• USA

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Most Popular Destinations Gap Year & Longstay Travel

1: Thailand comes top thanks to it’s amazing beaches, lively cities, and legendary parties! It is also known as a backpacking friendly place to be and there is so much to see and do that your gap year might actually feel too short and you might decide to stay longer!

Top tip: Longstay travel insurance gives you the freedom to commit to an extended gap year adventure, but did you know that you can also get travel insurance while you are already travelling, or extend your existing insurance? Perfect for if you decide to keep the adventure going at the end of your trip.

2. Brazil is another place with a big draw for those on a gap year. It is a vast country that has huge cultural variety, and plenty to offer whether you are looking to immerse yourself in city life or want to connect with nature, wildlife and a more remote way of living .

3. South Africa with it’s National Parks and plentiful volunteering opportunities is an incredibly popular place to head for an extended travel adventure. The infrastructure here is good making it easy to split your time between the tranquility of rural villages and the buzz of the city.

4. Australia has been one of the most popular destinations for many years, especially for people that want to work while they explore the country with a working holiday visa. Earning while you travel opens up opportunities to stay longer than you would if you’d have to save before-hand, and for some means it is the only way they could fund such an adventure of a lifetime.

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Longstay Travel & Gap Year Travel Insurance

Travelling for an extended period requires a different type of insurance than for those on a short holiday. There is greater risk of missed or cancelled flights, and less pre-booked accommodation means more uncertainty as you go from one location to another. Chances are you are also more likely to require a visit to a doctor, even for something minor, over the space of several weeks or months than you are on a two-week holiday!

That is why we have our specialist Longstay Travel Insurance – designed to meet the needs of backpackers, gap year adventurers and those who want to take their time travelling. Get an online quote from our team.

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Destination Guide: Machu Picchu & The New Rules!

New rules to protect this sacred site means that a visit to Machu Picchu has to be planned long in advance, and all rules should be noted as it could scupper your chances of entering (or staying entered) even if you do have a ticket. Here is what you need to know to enjoy your trip to the max.

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What to Expect

Scenery that is as likely to take your breath away as the high altitude! There’s 20 per cent less oxygen at Machu Picchu, so acclimatising before your trip is advised as is understanding the new rules and restrictions.

Post-pandemic the heritage site decided that it was a great opportunity to bury its murky past of mass-tourism and the negative impact it had on the local environment as well as it’s reputation.

Numbers of visitors are restricted to varying degrees both on the many trails and on the site itself. Here are the important things to know:

  • No tickets are on sale at the gates – they must be purchased in advance.
  • Purchase online is the easiest option but it will help to know a little Spanish.
  • Purchasing in person (only worth it if arriving in Peru on a longstay trip) will require a decent knowledge of the language.

Tickets for a tour generally include the entry price for the Citadel.
Tickets are available only for designated time slots between 6am and 2pm (don’t panic, it is open until 5pm, that is just the last entry slot)

Tickets are now only applicable to the routes and areas you want to explore, and the number of tickets available per day are at time of publishing as follows

  • Machu Picchu Citadel – 2100
  • Machu Picchu Mountain – 400
  • Huayna Picchu Mountain – 200
  • Huchuy Picchu Mountain – 200
  • Standard Inca Trail – 350
  • Short Inca Trail – 150

You can purchase combined tickets, but again due to restricted numbers at any one time the more complex your time here the further in advance you should book.

Another change to the rules including the route you take through the Citadel – you can no longer just wander about, you have to choose just one designated route and stick to it. There are 4 to choose from so do your research carefully.

There are a lot more guards on the site, so don’t flout the rules  as you will be invited to leave if you are caught. These include:

  • No food (water bottles are allowed)
  • No drones
  • No tripods or selfie sticks
  • No wild wees
  • No large backpacks – if you arrive with one you’ll have to leave it at the entrance

 

The three most important things to know are:

1. There is NO RE-ENTRY! Once you are out of those gates, you are not going back in.

2. There are no toilets beyond the entryway – so remember to go before you go in because you won’t be allowed back in if you want to pop back out for a pee.

3. Take your passport – you won’t get in without it, not even a photocopy or digital image will do.

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When to visit Machu Picchu

June may officially be the start of the winter in Machu Picchu, but not only is it the driest time of the year to visit, the temperature in the day is comfortable enough to hike to your heart’s content through this beautiful landscape. That said, it is also the start of the busy season so you may find it trickier than before to get a ticket now that the numbers are limited. General consensus however is to avoid July and August if at all possible as it is the busiest time of the year.

The time to avoid Machu Picchu for sure is between November and March when the downpours are huge. It also impacts visibility, and that will definitely feel like one wasted trip of a lifetime! Be warned that mists and fog can appear any time of the year, so the drier the conditions are meant to be, the better.

How to “do” Machu Picchu

You can arrive by bus, you can arrive by train or you can hike. As we have a passion for action and adventure the latter is the option we’d whole heartedly recommend.

Treks to Machu Picchu vary between 1 and 12 days taking visitors along the Inca Trail, the Alternative Inca Trail (aka Salkantay), or the Mountain Lodges Route.

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Travel Safety in Machu Picchu

Common sense will see you through – pack plenty of water and sunscreen and be mindful of opportunistic pickpockets!

Beyond Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, especially in Cusco and Lima you’ll need to be more vigilant, and make sure you have travel insurance that covers you in the event of theft as there has been a high number of unscrupulous taxi drivers forcing passengers to withdraw large amount of money at ATMs. Never get in an unregistered taxi, and try to order by phone rather than hail if you need one.

Specialist Travel Insurance for High Altitude Treks

Altitude could also bring problems, but not just in terms of sickness – did you know that trekking at altitude is something not usually covered by standard travel insurance policies? With Machu Picchu standing at 2,450m above sea level and nearby Cusco (your entryway to Machu Picchu by air and by train) 3,400m you need to be sure that you get the cover you need on your policy – make sure to ask your longstay travel insurance specialist if your policy covers you for what you plan to do!

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Sightseeing Goes Sci-Fi with Interactive Travel Game Apps

Discover all the hidden gems of your holiday destination with apps that mix self-guided tours with interactive smart-phone gameplay, a kind of urban entertainment for travellers. These apps aren’t for passing the time waiting for your travel adventure to start, they bring sightseeing to the next level!

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Questo

Explore over 140 cities worldwide by taking tours and solving puzzles in the Questo app. This blend of real-world adventure with interactive app “gameplay” is a great way to connect to your surroundings, and discover amazing insights into local history and culture. You can even take a themed tour as an iconic local character. Games are are set both indoors and out, in museums and galleries for example, and you can choose themes around a historical fact, local legend, books, films and more.

Examples of real world city exploration include hunting for Jack the Ripper in London, and Taking a tour with Albert Einstein to discover the wonders of Zurich.

Cluecation

Self-guided discovery through 66 travel guides covering over 13,000 destinations. The app is a travel guide in a game where you score points as you progress through your destination. It promises to take players off the beaten path, educate and inspire through an interactive quiz with activities and riddles that will allow you to immerse yourself in local culture an customs.

Passes last from 1 to 7 days, play can be against people in your group or play solo to compete with fellow travellers also using the Cluecation app.

Urban Adventure Quests/ Hidden City

This a great option for a couple or group, taking a treasure-hunt style tour on a story-led adventure with teams pitted against one another. The Urban Adventure Quest app, also known as Hidden City sends clues to your phone so you can follow a trail around your chosen destination and even interact with characters and people on the way in the real world around you. Just like a real-life tour guide the app has built-in stops so you can grab some refreshments. Genius.

Games take 3 to 4 hours, teams can be of 1 to 5 people and the app promises that you’ll discover hidden locations on your fantasy city adventure.

Geocaching

Billed as the world’s largest treasure hunt, you can count on the Geocaching app to take you off the beaten path wherever you find yourself on holiday. Simply select a geocache in the app and work your way to it and discover what’s been hidden. Log your find, replace the geocache and continue on your journey.

While this app isn’t going to reveal insights into the history and culture of your destination, it certainly gives you a reason to explore routes you’d probably not consider otherwise.

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance!

The right travel insurance can provide cover for your electrical goods and gadgets while you are away on holiday Get in touch with one of our specialist travel insurance advisors to find out how we can help get the cover you need for your precious items.

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Father’s Day: Dream Destinations for Sports and Adventure

Give the gift of adventure this Father’s Day with a trip of a lifetime to take part in some epic sports and adventure. Whether it is a short European break, or a longer trip to a far-flung destination, we’ve gathered a whole load of ideas that are sure to please.

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Two Wheels

Off-road adventures on a mountain bike combine adventure, freedom, and if you head to hills – a whole heap of adrenaline too. There are so many places around the world that are renowned for beautiful mountain vistas, here are the top 3:

  •  Mefjellet, Norway – combining glaciers, snow-capped peaks and fjords, this 1100m trail guarantees an epic adventure!
  • Cotopaxi, Ecuador – volcanic slopes with an ever changing terrain of sand, ash, boulders and lava fields, a ride to challenge even the most confident.
  • Dolomites, Italy – the Sella Ronda race route is an 84km circular tour of the Sella Massif, with views of the vertical mountains, alpine meadows, and pine forests. At 4,300m it will certainly take your breath away.
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Four Wheels

Going off-road in a 4×4, especially in an unfamiliar destination, requires a lot of skill, courage, and a great sense of adventure. Here are three of the most exciting places to go for a Father’s Day treat.

  • Rubicon Trail, California, USA – considered the most challenging off-road experience in the world, this 22mile track will take you over boulders and sharp rocks, through forests and soft dirt, and along near impossible passes.
  • Atlas Mountains to Sahara Desert, Morocco – a mix of grassy plains, rocky roads, sand dunes, canyons, and salt marshes  make Morocco a splendid choice for a 4×4 trip with variety.
  • The Alps, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein… – this mountain range runs for 750 miles through numerous countries and offers the adventurous driver a mix of rocky mountain roads, gravelly passes, hair pin bends, steep drops, and plentiful waterways to traverse and explore.
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On the Water

White water rafting is a white-knuckle adventure even for those that love extreme sports. We’ve selected three of the most challenging locations – by name and by nature – that you might want to check out.

  • Zambezi River, Zimbabwe – One of the rapids is called “Gnashing Jaws of Death” and an entry-point for tours is right by Victoria Falls. Throw in some hippos and crocodiles as well as grade IV and V rapids and you’re in for a heart-racing treat for sure.
  • Futalefu River, Chile – the crystal-clear glacier-fed grade V rapids nestled amongst Patagonian rainforest are a popular spot for white-water rafters to plummet downstream. Bonus points for the plentiful riverside camps with hot tubs – perfect for those aching muscles.
  • Noce River, Italy – 28km of top rafting fun! The river is fed by melting glaciers from the Dolomites, and the route takes in gorges and valleys with snow-capped mountainous views along the way.
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In The Air

Plummeting towards the earth at 120mph really is some people’s idea of fun, and while the sensation may be the same falling from the sky wherever you are the views certainly aren’t. Here are three of the top places to soak up the views skydiving!

  • Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland – on your way down to earth you’ll see the beautiful gorges and waterfalls that make up Lauterbrunnen Valley as well as the stunning glacial surroundings.
  • Mount Everest, Nepal – this is the highest drop zone in the world, and you’ll need a decent canister of oxygen to get you through not only the breath-taking views but also the oxygen-deficient air on the 23,000ft drop!
  •  The Grand Canyon, USA – there is probably no other viewpoint that does this natural wonder of the world justice. From 15,000ft in the air you’ll be able to see the canyon and the surrounding desert  in all its glory.

Extreme sports activities need specialist travel insurance!

Did you know that many adventurous activities such as white water rafting and skydiving may require specialist insurance to ensure that you are covered in the event of accident, injury or cancellation? Get in touch with one of our amazing travel insurance specialists to find out what type of cover you might need for your next adventure!

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The Grand Canyon USA – Destination Guide

A wonder of the world with views that will fill you with awe and a sense of adventure. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of our Bucket List adventures-of-a-lifetime – here is what you can see and do during a trip to this part of the world.

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Best Time To Go Travel To The Grand Canyon

Did you know that May is the best time of year to take a trip to the Grand Canyon on a kayak adventure? The skies are clear and the temperatures are high – which means you’ll soon warm up if you take an unexpected dip in the chilly waters! The rainfall is low between April and June, but things start getting really hot at the end of April when the mercury rises above 30. June, July and August temperatures hover around 40 – the only place to be at this time of the year is in one of the dark bars in the nearby city of Phoenix, a top travel tip from our blog on Wilderness City Breaks in The USA.

Things To Do At The Grand Canyon

At 270 miles long and 18 miles wide, there is a lot to discover at the Grand Canyon. Much of it sits with the Grand Canyon National Park, but there are bits on Native American land.

  • Grand Canyon Village – It’s the most popular entrance to the park, and it is one of the best places to view the canyon, from Yavapai Point. There is also a Geology Museum here and a shuttle bus that gives visitors great views, especially good if visiting just for a day or two or with children.
  • South Rim – The South Rim is lower than the North Rim, so generally accessible all year round as the roads aren’t often closed by snow in the winter. It is also closer to towns which makes it a more popular side to visit. There is a 25 mile stretch that is worth seeking out, popular for scenic desert views.
  • North Rim – The North Rim is less accessible and less visited because there is only one road to get you there at it’s usually only open mid-May to mid-October. Due to being a bit higher, the views from the North Rim are said to be more impressive, especially Cape Royal which offers the widest views.

Did you know? There is only around 17 miles separating the North Rim from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – however, it’s a 5 hour trip covering 220 miles between the two!

  • Grand Canyon Skywalk – Another way to get an impressive view of the impressive vistas is to head to the man-made Skywalk. A horseshoe-shape reinforced glass-bottomed walkway that hangs out over the canyon. Certainly not for the feint hearted!
  • Kayaking & Rafting – We know the Grand Canyon is big, but did you know that The Colorado River sits a whole mile below one of the rims? There are many ways to enjoy the Colorado River and the views of the Canyon from below, from smooth-water motorised trips to level IV white-knuckle white water rafting adventures. There is even an incredible 12 day adventure that covers 200 miles taking those with enough experience through the varied terrain both on the water and on land.
  • Hiking & Trekking – The hiking season is long at the Grand Canyon, with only the hottest summer months off the agenda for most people. Winter is a favourite time because there is more of a chance that you can soak up the spectacular scenery all by yourself. The big question is usually what do you want to take in, as this will determine when to go. The bottom of the canyon is arid and hot, and the tops of the rims are home to plentiful forests, a full four seasons with the summer bringing intense thunderstorms. The advice is to NOT BACKPACK WITHOUT A GUIDE who specialises in desert hiking in the summer months if down in the canyon.
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How Safe Is The Grand Canyon?

The biggest risks at the Grand Canyon are falls, heatstroke, dehydration and drowning. The safety advice is to take care when you go, so pick the right season for your activity (remember that there is a vast difference in temperature and terrain between the top and bottom of the canyon, and north rim and south rim!), and never underestimate what mother nature can do with weather! Flash floods are a real danger here, and even the most seasoned hikers have to be aware that the heat here can be fatal. Dress in layers, and always carry plenty of water with you whatever the time of year – the canyon area is huge and remote.

Of course, make sure that you get yourself some travel insurance before you visit.

Not only can it offer a lifeline in the event of illness or injury, it can offer peace of mind with repatriation if you need it and protect from extremely costly medical bills in the US. We even offer specialist insurance for sports and activities on holiday so that you are covered for hiking, trekking, kayaking and white water rafting adventures.

 

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Stress-Beating and Boredom-Busting Travel Tips for Business Trips

It’s a fact – business trips abroad don’t bring nearly as much pleasure as other people think you’ll have. Far from “going on a jolly” overseas business trips are often loaded with stress and boredom. Here are our top tips that will hopefully bring a bit more balance to your next trip overseas for work.

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1. Book an Airbnb – even if you’re paying for a higher rate hotel, there is only so much comfort you can get from being in one-room, or even a suite with a travel kettle, coffee machine and room service. Booking yourself an apartment where you can sleep in one room, relax in another, and even whip up some simple dishes in a kitchen will bring a more homely feel to your trip, even if it’s just for a few days of your stay.

2. Organise A Capsule Travel Kit – packing is a pain, so get yourself a capsule travel kit which is always ready to go. In it have:• a fully stocked designated toiletries bag• a set of crease-free travel clothes• spares of (or list of) chargers and cables you need for all your devices• earplugs and an eye mask – essential for flights and noisy hotels!

Top Tip for a short trip: Pack hand luggage only for a speedier exit from the airport and to reduce the risk of lost luggage.

3. Download your content – music, films, podcasts, ebooks… what ever floats your boat download it before you go to while away the hours spent in an airport, waiting for a transfer, or even unwinding after working. It’ll save on battery, data, and of course help you take a break from work work work.

Top Tip for a long trip: Dress smart casual, that way if your luggage gets lost you’ll still look presentable if needed when you arrive.

4. Get Social – if you have family or friends nearby then book in some time to catch up, and if you don’t get, on something like City Socializer or Meetup. This is an excellent app for likeminded people to hook up with emphasis being on just meeting up to be social. Showaround is also good for a guided tour by a local who can show you where to go and what to do as well as get to know your destination.

5. Get Business Travel Insurance – nothing ups the stress levels like a missed or cancelled flight; lost, stolen or damaged laptop or equipment; or even something happening that means you can no longer travel to your destination. Get travel insurance and you buy peace of mind!

6. Schedule in Time Off – give yourself a day (or two) extra time to explore the place that you are in, re-charge your batteries and actually enjoy yourself a little before you head back home. It might be a one-day spa break at the end of your trip, sight-seeing mid-way, or even heading out to a gig, game, or show to allow yourself time off in the evening to relax and unwind.

Don’t forget your business travel insurance! We can tailor a single-trip or annual multi-trip travel insurance policy to give you the cover you need for work equipment as well as personal belongings.

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Holiday Hot Spots for Film Fans

Looking for a trip with a cultural twist? How about you base your next holiday in a favourite film location? Here are a few blockbuster movie locations to inspire your next travel adventure!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rub’ al Khali, Abu Dhabi, UEA – Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

If you travel to the most western region of Al Dhafra you’ll come to the worlds largest uninterrupted sand mass, commonly called The Empty Quarter. This is where you’ll spot the fossilised sand dunes that appear in some of the scenes. There is an eerie and surreal feel to this place that might well have you feeling you really are in the far-flung regions of the galaxy! Discover more about this amazing region in our Abu Dhabi Destination Guide.

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Lord of the Rings
Milford Sound, New Zealand – Fiordland National Park

Milford Sound is one of those destinations that definitely lives up to the hype (link to 8 destinations….) and once you set eyes on the spectacular scenery it is little wonder that it was chosen as one of the 150 locations for one of the most jaw-droppingly spectacular fantasy films of all time. It is even reported to be one of director Peter Jackson’s favourite places to set a scene! The Great River Anduin, Fanghorn Forest and the Dead Marshes are just some of the LOTR locations that you’ll find here in real life.

Milford Sound New Zealand Travel Bucket List

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Lost in Translation
Tokyo, Japan – Park Hayatt Tokyo Hotel

Tokyo is a vibrant futuristic metropolis and served as a wonderful setting for this block buster film. The film was set entirely in Japan, but if your romantic heart is looking for an additional hit of wanderlust, head to the Park Hayatt Tokyo, the first western luxury hotel to open in Japan offering guests staggering views of the city, wonderful cocktails and delicious cuisine. Take a peek at our Brief Guide To Japan for more amazing things to do in Tokyo.

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12 Monkeys
Philadelphia, USA – Eastern State Penitentiary

There is more to this location than the iconic psychiatric hospital scenes from 12 Monkeys, it was also the place where Al Capone served time, and the audio tour is actually narrated by Steve Buscemi. It is currently described as being in a “beautiful state of decay” and as there are no more plans to make this place a filming location again, it is definitely a must-see to go on a film fan itinerary. There’s also the chance to soak up Philly with some other great films in mind such as Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), and Philadelphia (Tom Hanks).

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The Beach
Koh Phi Phi Ley, Thailand – Maya Bay

The idyllic scenes shot at Maya Bay have sadly ended up highlighting the darker side of tourism. After the film was released the uninhabited island of Koh Phi Phi Lay became inundated with tourists. As well as (ironically) transforming the deserted paradise everyone was searching for into a heaving tourist hot-spot, this also had a devastating impact on the delicate ecosystems here. After being closed to visitors for three years the ecosystems are recovering, and limited numbers of tourists are allowed to visit once more. There is a cap of 375 people at a time, no swimming is allowed, and boats must moor in designated places to avoid damaging the recovering coral reefs.

Check out the best places to go for Ethical Adventure Holidays.

Maya Bay Image

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Don’t forget your travel insurance! Whether you are hiking mountains, swimming in the sea, or immersing yourself in a city break, having the right travel insurance can give you peace of mind in the event of accident, injury, theft, loss or cancellation. Longstay, single-trip and multi-trip travel insurance policies available.

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