Stargazing, Camels and Medinas: Explore Mesmerising Morocco

Just three and a half hours away by air from the UK, Morocco is worlds away in every
other respect. From the dramatic Atlas mountains and alluring Sahara, to the buzzing
medinas and fabulous cuisine – your Moroccan adventure beckons…

Morocco architecture Image bybbsil CC0

Image bybbsil CC0

Why Morocco?

Morocco is one of North Africa’s most traveller-friendly destinations, offering an alluring mix of majestic mountains, ancient cities and warm hospitality. The weather is great for most of the year, too – although autumn and early spring offer the most comfortable temperatures. It’s also considerably cheaper than most European destinations, with an affordable train network, myriad cheap eats, and low-cost accommodation.

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Where to Go

Get a taste of old Morocco in the winding alleys of the coastal city of Essouriera, or the Nation’s backpacking mecca, Marrakesh. See the new Morocco rise up in the chic modern neighbourhoods of Casablanca and Fez, where the long-standing pleasure of people- watching in cafes – invariably over a mint tea – continues.

There’s a huge choice of accommodation available across Morocco – much of it both high quality and affordable. We recommend staying in a “riad” – a hotel or guest house built around a breezy internal courtyard.

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What to Do

Ascend North Africa’s Highest Peak: Mount Toubkal (4,167m) is just 40 miles to the south of Marrakesh, but lightyears away from the jangle and hum of the big smoke. It takes two days to reach the summit, so it’s an ideal expedition if you’re on a longer trip.

Explore the Djemaa El Fna Medina: Wander Mareakech’s buzzing Djemaa El Fna medina, where a dazzling array of leather handicrafts, ornate teapots, carpets, rugs, spices – and much more – can be haggled over.

Take care not to get lost in the maze of alleys in and around the medina, and don’t always go by the directions of the locals – you may end up in someones carpet shop!

Sleep Under The Stars in the Sahara Desert: Book an overnight camel trip where you can enjoy some of the best stargazing on the planet. A top stargazing destination is the Merzouga Erg Chebbi sand dunes in the Sahara desert, where the clear skies make for an unforgettable experience.

Choose an excursion with a luxury desert camp for extra comfort. Aim to book in spring or autumn, when it is warm enough to sleep outside and the skies are wonderfully clear. If you do plan a desert trip, stay up to date with the weather forecast – sandstorms are not unknown and can ruin an overnight excursion. Around three days are required.

Morocco Dunes Image

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What to Eat

While Morocco is a treat for your visual and auditory senses, it’s also an ongoing delight forvyour taste buds. Tagine is a must-try – a kind of stew made in a dish with a conical lid. Chicken, vegetables and spices are key ingredients, but vegetarian versions are easily found.

Other culinary wonders include couscous, ssara (a rich broad bean soup), fish (marinated in herbs and grilled), and harira soup (tomato, lentils and lamb). And of course, the locals will offer you a refreshing mint tea at almost every opportunity!

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Good to Know: Travel Safety & Etiquette in Morocco

● While you can enjoy Morocco all year round, temperatures are best in autumn
(September-November) and early spring (March-April). A midsummer visit may be
too hot for some, while a midwinter trip comes with chilly nights.
● Dress appropriately. While men are less restricted in terms of clothes, women are
expected to dress modestly – this means no bare shoulders or legs. Too much skin
on display could attract unwanted attention. A shawl or scarf can make a great ad-
hoc cover-up.
● Buying things isn’t always straightforward. Haggling over prices for things like
souvenirs and clothes is expected in many places. Always establish the price for
services like hair cuts and taxis, and always keep small change with you (few cab
drivers seem to carry change!).
● Plan your routes in cities. If you look lost, someone will almost certainly appear to
offer directions – and will almost certainly ask for a tip in return!
● Flash flooding is not uncommon in Morocco – including around Marrakech. Stay up to
date with the weather forecasts, and don’t take unnecessary risks if bad weather is
on the cards.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We offer a range of comprehensive travel insurance options for longstay, single trip and multi trip adventures, as well as travel insurance if you are already travelling!

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Avoid Lost Luggage – 10 Top Travel Hacks!

Travel insurance is a wonderful safety net should something go wrong on your holiday, but nobody really wants to make a claim when they could be relaxing and having fun. Here are some top tips to keep your baggage safe so you don’t need to ring the claims line!

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1. Take hand luggage only
If you have the option to pack light then DO! Having everything in your hand luggage means you can keep an eye on your stuff and it is far less likely to get lost. Bonus for not having to wait at the other end to get your belongings too.

2. Make your case stand out
Buy a bright coloured case, but bear in mind that many others may have done the same, get a colourful baggage strap or tag, and hope that it doesn’t come off, or go all out and get a personalised skin added to your case so it is absolutely like no other. We’re loving these suitcase skins! Whatever you do, do something to make that case stand out – not just so you can spot it on the carousel, but in case you need to describe it if lost.

3. Label bags inside and out
If your case goes wandering someone is likely to want to get it back to you, so get your luggage tag sorted. It’s also a good idea to add a piece of paper with your name and phone number inside too in case the tag goes missing and someone opens it up to look for owner info.

4. Remove old flight labels
No need to confuse matters by leaving old flight stickers on – take them off so that only your current travel info is on there.

5. Invest in a luggage tracker
Should your case go missing, it may well be in with many many others – having a tracker means you could track it down and let those that need to know where it is so they can return it to you asap.

6. Keep valuables with you
Losing a sarong or two is bearable, but when it’s your favourite signature accessories, or valuable jewellery it’s no joke. Keep any irreplaceable, difficult to replace items, or high value items in your hand luggage to make the pain of losing your suitcase more bearable.

7. Don’t overfill your case
An over-stuffed case is more likely to get caught, ripped, or sad to say, opened. Keep it simple and not over-stuffed.

8. Avoid luggage with straps
Holdalls, duffel bags, rucksacks and the like are likely to have straps which can get caught places en-route to the plane. Maybe nothing will happen, maybe your bag will get ripped, or maybe your bag will stay stuck while all the other cases go on board.

9. Get to the airport early
Checking in late increases the risk of your bags not making it onto the plane – get there early and it’s less likely to happen.

10. Send your belongings ahead of your holiday
There are some things that just must not be lost and won’t fit in a carry on, such as wedding dresses and sports equipment. Thankfully there are some very highly regarded luggage forwarding services that can ensure your special things arrive at your destination before you do.


Don’t forget your travel insurance! You may well need it if travels do not go according to plan! Get an instant online quote today.

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Shades of Autumn: Scenic Holiday Ideas for 2022

Long to soak up the hazy hues of autumn on your next holiday? We’ve picked six of the most beautiful destinations you can head to see some autumnal treasures.

Nara – Japan

Nara Japan Image

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The Visit Nara website lists 10 reasons why Nara should be on your bucket list – and the amazing colours of the autumn leaves at Murouji Temple is one of them! The vibrant display of red, yellow and orange maples are also celebrated in an Autumn leaves Festival.

The best time to go to see the colours of the trees change is from mid-November to early December – the festival takes place in the evenings during the first few weeks, when the trees, pagoda and bridge are illuminated once dusk falls.

Aspen – USA

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The hues of an autumn in Aspen, Colorado are very much of the golden variety, thanks to the native Aspen tree, which covers vast swathes of the landscape. Hiking or biking is the way to go to soak it all up while you are there. The trees grow to 80 feet in height, creating a magical feel when you’re in amongst them.

The top recommendation is to take the Cathedral lake trail, which starts off in the Aspen groves, opens out onto views of valley and the alpine meadows, before meandering all the way to the top of a mountain high above the lake. The summit is over 3,600 metres high offering absolutely spectacular views! Time to go is during the last two weeks of September, and there is even a Fall Foliage Map available to help you time your trip with peak season!

Vermont – USA

Vermot in Autumn Image

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The time to head to Vermont, New England for a touch fiery-coloured foliage is late-September in the north and late-October in the south – our advice is to go for at least a month and explore it all!

Three-quarters of the state of Vermont is covered in Maple trees, and once the leaves start to turn a whole host of activities are on offer. Corn mazes, pumpkin patches, harvest festivals, hikes, bike tours, and river rides to take in the reflections of the foliage are just some ways you can enjoy the scenery. There is an excellent Foliage Forecaster to help you plan your trip.

Quebec – Canada

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To witness the brightest blaze of glorious foliage in Quebec City, you need to hit some of the best scenic landscapes the area has to offer – what a shame!

Our top three recommendations are: Mont-Sainte-Anne, great for mountain biking and hiking, but for the best views get the chairlift up and wander your way down; Parc National de la Jaques-Cartier, over 62 miles of hiking trails taking you through forests, mountains and lakes in a glacial valley; Canyon Sainte-Anne, a feast for the eyes awaits from three magnificent suspension bridges, one of which is 60m above the gorge and the highest in Quebec.

Head to Canada late-September/early-October to see the best of the autumn colours.

Autumn in Europe & Spring in the Southern Hemisphere

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You don’t have to travel all the way around the world to see the wonderful colours of autumn. France, Germany, the UK, and many other countries in middle and high latitude areas have the right climate and conditions to make this season magical in September and October. And if you are ever craving the golden leaves of this season during the spring – you can head to the southern hemisphere where the colours of autumn start in March in places such as Chile, Argentina, Peru and New Zealand!

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We cover staycations as well as holidays abroad, so wherever you’re hoping to head to look at the leaves, you can count on us to be able to give you the cover you need.

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Santorini on a Shoe String – A Budget Conscious Destination Guide

Santorini is a dream destination for many, and this beautiful isle is at its most impressive some say in August. But isn’t it well known for being a budget-busting destination? Not necessarily – here’s how to enjoy Santorini on a shoestring!

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Avoid staying in Oia

Head for Fira instead. Oia is the destination of choice, and a honeymoon paradise, so hotels and apartments are much more expensive here -as are the restaurants.

Keep your trip short

Things in Santorini can be on the pricey side, but it is only a small island which can be enjoyed during a short stay. You can make it a pit-stop as part of a multi-island trip, or just head there for a short break.

Opt to go camping

If accommodation costs are the thing threatening to use up your budget, you could consider camping. There are two camps sites on the island which not only offer pitches, but also ready-pitched tents with beds; bungalows; and hostel space.

Forget car hire

The towns in Santorini are great to explore on foot and the bus service between towns is great, and cheap! There are numerous KTEL Santorini Buses that run through the summer months (far more than in winter) with tickets costing between €1.80 and €2.50 – the thing to remember is that the busses here are cash only. It really is a much more relaxed way to explore this idyllic island, plus it is better for the planet!

Grab a beer and avoid cocktails

Probably the same money-saving advice the world over, but Santorini is well known as a romantic and luxurious destination, so geared up to people willing to spend on luxurious treats. Pints of beer are not where bars are hoping to make their money, so come in relatively cheap. If you are in Fira, you’ll likely find plenty of bars offering happy hours too!

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Go get food in Fira

Eating out in Santorini is well known to be an expensive affair – but there are plenty of tavernas and small restaurants offering affordable food, especially in Fira. The island is known for spectacular seafood, great gyros and there are places where you can get a cone of healthy nosh, plus a tankard of greek beer for around €5!

Go for a hike

It is the spectacular beauty of Santorini that draws visitors year after year, and the views cost nothing! Bring a decent pair of trainers and you can spend your days on some great walks that promise jaw-dropping views turn after turn. Top of the list is a 12km hike that runs between Fira and Oia – you can get a cheap bus back. A shorter, but possibly more challenging option is a 5.2km hike between Kamari and Perissa.


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Don’t worry about missing out on boat tours

There is a big push get get folks on a boat, luxury catamaran, or yacht, but it costs a fair bit, gives you the same scenic views of the sea, and is often choppier than some might like to admit! If getting on the water is part of your Santorini dream why not get yourself a water taxi instead? These can be cheap and a great way to go from Kamari to Perissa if you don’t fancy the hike!

Opt for a DIY wine tour

Santorini is well known as being home to some of the oldest wineries in Europe, as such there are numerous packages that pander to those buying into a luxury experience such as sunset packages. You can however save a fair bit of money by booking a tour direct with the winery.

Get cheap travel insurance

Not specific to Santorini, but important to mention nonetheless! Saving money on your travel insurance means you have more cash to splash on those little things that bring you joy on holiday. Get an instant online quote for single trip travel insurance or multi-trip travel insurance online at

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Hot Weather Health and Wellness

Whether you are a fervent sun-seeker, like your holidays hot, or you prefer to keep yourself in the shade, tips on how to stay healthy and well in hot weather are more relevant than ever. Here are our top wellness tips that are just as useful at home in a heatwave as they are on a hot holiday abroad.

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HYDRATE! This absolutely can’t be emphasised enough. The top tip is to make sure you drink often (no need to drink a pint at a time!) even if you are not thirsty. The goal is to have urine that is a pale clear colour.

Hot drinks are better than cold in warm weather – true or false?
Well, it depends on the environment! A hot beverage can warm the body, producing sweat, which when evaporating can actually create a cooling affect. This only works in a hot and dry environment though. If you are already sweating or you are in a humid location, you are better of with a cold drink.

Cut back on the booze. Firstly, it can cause a person to sweat – which while might have a cooling affect to begin with, when combined with the fact it also increases urination, you are on a one-way ticket to dehydration. If you are going to have a cocktail in the sun, make sure you drink plenty of water to replenish your system!

Hot Holiday Image

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Get a hot water bottle. Yes, really! Just don’t fill it with hot water. Instead chill your water in the freezer then add it to the bottle and place it under your feet for maximum cooling action. Other top cooling tips include:
• Run your wrists under cool water
• Wrap an ice-pack in a towel and place under your feet, armpits or neck
• Pop a pair of socks in the freezer before putting them on
• Take a cool shower
• Spritz your body (won’t work in humid weather)
• Place a wet towel on an airer in front of a fan (again, won’t work in humid weather)
• Keep doors, windows and curtains closed on the sunny side of your apartment or hotel – this will stop warm air getting in

Watch out for muscle cramps. This is an early sign of heat-stroke or heat-exhaustion, other things to look out for include:
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Loss of appetite
• Feeling sick
• High temperature

The following are signs of dehydration:
• Thirst
• Dark urine with a strong smell
• Fatigue
• Lightheadedness
• Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
• Short urination, and going fewer than four times in a day

Pre-existing conditions and illnesses can make you more susceptible to dehydration such as diabetes, vomiting and diarrhoea, and medicines which are diuretics.

Hot Weather Health and Wellness Image

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Schedule a siesta. Only mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun, don’t be either. The sun is at it’s strongest between 11am and 3pm, so seek shade, take a nap, enjoy some air con, read a book – whatever… re-emerge when you are less likely to get heatstroke!

Wear lightweight loose clothes. Ideally made form a fabric that offers SPF protection (see below!). These will help you keep cool, and if you also avoid dark coloured fabric, your clothes won’t become a personal heater.

Slather on the sunscreen. Even if you’re sitting in the shade, or if it is cloudy the sun’s rays can damage your skin, and cause burns. Look for protection that is at least SPF 30 to protect from UVB rays, and has a minimum 4-star rating to protect from UVA.

SPF clothing is better than sunscreen! There are a number of ways fabric can offer sun protection. Firstly, the weave – a tightly woven dense fabric for example will block more UV than a loose weave. The type of fabric is also a consideration – unbleached cotton actually absorbs UV, sadly most t-shirts are made with bleached cotton so unlikely to offer protection. A tight weave linen blocks both UVA and UVB. Fabrics to avoid include viscose, bleached cotton and crepe. Be aware that tight clothing stretches the weave and therefore offers less protection. Some fabrics have chemicals added and are sold with a specific SPF rating.

Take it easy! Who needs an excuse (especially on holiday) to take it easy? Everyone it seems. Whether you haver tours booked, sightseeing to do, like to get some exercise in or just don’t like siting still – make sure you keep your pace slow, and try not to exert yourself, especially at the hottest times of the day.

Our travel insurance comes with a 24 hour helpline should you fall ill on holiday. For more information about how we can offer you peace on mind on your next break, and about travel insurance for pre-existing conditions, get in touch with one of our team.

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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.

Swiss Alps Summer Image

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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 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

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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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