Things To Do For Free In Amsterdam

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If you are a thrifty traveller, you’ll love finding free things to do on holiday. Here are some of the best things to do for free in Amsterdam!

Visit the floating flower market on Singel Canal – There are loads of open-air markets around the city, but this is probably the most extraordinary because it is actually floating on the canal!

Take a walking tour – There are free audio tours available to download, or if you can spare a tip book yourself on the Sandemands Free Walking Tours.

Watch some open air theatre – All of Amsterdam’s parks and gardens are free to enter, but head to the Vondlepark at the right time and you could watch a play, performance or even a festival all for free.

Catch a concert – This city is very fond of culture so it should come as no surprise that you can get free entry to a classical or jazz concert somewhere in Amsterdam nearly every day of the week. Check local listings and larger establishments like The National Opera and Ballet, and The Royal Concertgebouw.

Take a river tour – Believe it or not, there is free public transport by boat in Amsterdam. The free ferries are behind Central Station and have three routes crossing the IJ River.

Go to the beach – Even though Amsterdam isn’t on the coast, there are three beaches that can be enjoyed for free. Head to Blijburg, Muiderlaan 1001 Amsterdam if you want to swim too.

Take a tour of the Diamond Factory – There are free tours that share the history of Amsterdam’s reputation as the City of Diamonds, as well as everything you need to know about the sparklers themselves.

Go to Cannabis College – This is a not-for-profit establishment in the city that aims to educate visitors about Cannabis, including the medicinal benefits. Entry is free, but if you want to experience the indoor garden, a paradise of fully-flowering organic cannabis plants, you’ll have to pay a small fee.

UK Spring Break – Countryside or Coast?

Can’t decide how to spend that extended bank holiday weekend? Here are some top spots in the countryside and on the coast to help you make up your mind!

Countryside

Snowdonia Image by diego_torres CC0

Snowdonia National Park

This area is blessed with a hugely varied landscape of valleys and mountains, river gorges, lakes and waterfalls, so you can imagine the wealth of activities that come with this! As well as the usual suite of outdoor activities there are 150 attractions packed in too. Late spring and early summer are the driest times here, so perfect for the spring bank holiday break.

The Lake District

As the home of British mountaineering, and with the highest concentration of outdoor activity centres than anywhere else in the UK, you can be assured that the Lake District will deliver a fabulous slice of outdoor life. The area combines lakes, rivers, fells, woodland and small towns, so you’ll be spoilt for choice deciding what to see and do.

The Cairngorms

This is the largest National Park in the UK, is home to over a quarter of Scotland’s native forest, and the high plateaux are more like the landscape you’d find in Greenland! The Cairngorms is an inspirational place where visitors can connect with nature, but be warned it’s not the place to go if you want to get warm – temperatures are unlikely to rise above 8 °C in May.

New Forest

While these ancient woodlands are a tamer option than mountainous regions, it is still blessed with wonderful wildlife, and lots of opportunities for embracing the great outdoors. Highlights include miles upon miles of cycle tracks and forest footpaths, all of which have cattle and horses wandering freely around. It is the ideal location to set up camp, but if roughing it in a field isn’t your idea of fun, you’ll love the many quintessentially English villages nestled amongst the glades and moors!

Give your getaway an upgrade and hire a car for your journey!

Whether it is a super car, campervan or SUV that you’ve got your sights set on, make sure you get Car Hire Excess Insurance so you are not left with the bill if the vehicle is damaged or stolen.

Coast

Lulworth Cove Image by diego_torres CC0

Sanna

If you are looking for a remote coastal experience, Sanna Bay is a must. There is very little here but white sandy beaches, turquoise seas and spectacular sand dunes. In fact, you’d be mistaken for thinking you are on a tropical beach. Apart from the temperature of course! The drive to Sanna is also extraordinary, a single track road through what has been described as some of Scotland’s oddest scenery – it is in fact the crater of an extinct volcano.

Lulworth Cove

If you are looking for warmth, your best bet for the Spring Bank Holiday Break is to head to the south coast, Dorset in particular. The Jurassic coast is said to have more hours of sunshine and be warmer than anywhere else in the UK. Lulworth Cove, and further down the coast at Durdle Door you will find shelter from cold northerly breezes whilst being blessed with sunny blue skies. This area also has spectacular coastlines, far-flung views, and wonderful beaches where you may find a fossil or two.

Southwold

The mix of sand dunes, marshlands, and sensationally genteel historic town is just gorgeous. Add to that the fact it has it’s own brewery, and you’ll see why Southwold is a go-to for a wonderful long weekend! As well as delightful scenery, first class eateries and up-market shopping opportunities, Southwold also lays claim to having the quirkiest pier in England, a nice nod to the many artists that have been drawn here, and of course reside here.

Swansea Bay

This is billed as the best beach in Wales – a vast sandy stretch of coast hugged by gently sloping hills. From the top of these hills you can see the Pembrokeshire coast, and a wealth of natural wonders. This is a great place to catch some gentle surf, which might be tempting as the temperature is creeping up at this time of year, or relax in natural surroundings – but it will also appeal to those of you who like to be near the hustle and bustle of city life too!

11 Totally Awesome Pre-Holiday Detox Tips – Get Summer Ready!

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Want to look hot on your next holiday? Check out these tips which promise to turn up the temperature by beating the bloat, burning the fat, and giving you a wonderfully healthy glow (without a fad diet in sight)!

1. Hydrate at the right time – Drinking your water between meals will make your digestion more effective. As well as making you feel good on the inside, effective elimination could in turn lead to clearer skin! Experts advise to drink a glass of water no less than 15 minutes before a meal and no sooner than an hour after eating.

2. Savour your food on a smaller plate – Choosing a smaller plate means you are less likely to serve up a huge portion, but be mindful that you should eat slowly too. It takes about 20 minutes for your tummy to get the signal it is full. If you finish your meal before then, you are likely to head for seconds you really don’t need.

3. Keep caffeine as a morning treat – Indulging in caffeinated drinks later in the day can impact on your ability to get a good night’s kip. In fact, one study showed that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime reduced sleep time by 1 hour! Ideally, stick to the morning, but definitely no later than 4pm if you want a fresh glowing look for your holiday.

4. Get on the mat – The yoga mat that is. Yoga isn’t just about exercise, it is a combination of breathing techniques (Pranayama), meditation, and movement (Asana). Practiced regularly this combination will promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve digestion, and give greater physical and mental strength. The result will be more energy, and a natural radiance from within!

5. No raw after 4 – As with caffeine, the advice is that raw food should not be consumed after 4pm. This is because the uncooked cellulose in raw foods is harder to digest, especially when your metabolism is starting to wind down ready for rest, which ups the chances of bloating after eating your dinner-time salad.

6. Let go of excess baggage – No, we aren’t talking about hand luggage! Believe it or not swelling and bloating could be down to negative emotions connected to stressful events in your life that you have not yet let go of. Systems such as DTO can release the negative feelings, and the body naturally changes as a result.

7. Take three 10 minute walks a day – Apparently a brisk 10 minute walk that gets your blood pumping taken three times a day is better for you than trying to hit your daily 10,000 steps. The key is to ensure you get a bit out of breath.

8. Eat the rainbow – This is not permission to stuff your face with Skittles! While we don’t want to encourage fad diets, healthy eating is a must. One easy and fun way is to aim to create a rainbow of different coloured foods on your plate. At the very least it means you’ll be avoiding beige dinners, synonymous with an unhealthy diet!

9. Pamper yourself! – Body brushing, face packs, hair masks, nail oil, manicure, pedicure… the list could go on indefinitely! Make sure that every inch of your wonderful self is treated to a pampering in the lead up to your holiday. Start at least a month before you go for the best results!

10. Make time for a massage – There aren’t many activities that can improve your health while you literally lie down and do nothing! As well as having all the benefits of relaxation, a massage can boost the immune system, and make the body more effective at getting rid of toxins by increasing circulation.

11. Catch some Zs – Sleep, or lack of it, is top of the list for bad skin, sluggish digestion, and increased stress, so if you want to look good you HAVE to get your rest! A top tip for a good night’s slumber is: NO screen time for an hour before bed, in fact no screen at all near you – this is because the blue light interferes with the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

Disclaimer: These tips may not be suitable for you! Please seek advice from your GP before making changes to your diet, wellness, or exercise routine if you think it is necessary, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Detour Review – Travel App Of The Month March 2018

Private tours are only in the realm of the rich, right? Wrong! There is an app that offers location aware audio tours, an immersive experience that will make you feel like a VIP next time you take a select city break.

 

 

What is the Detour App?

It is an app that offers immersive audio walks. Using your GPS signal, it will guide you through the world’s most interesting places, with the people that know them best telling you all about it via your headphones.

How does the Detour App work?

  • Detour uses GPS to keep your selected narrator in sync with your location. This means that you can look at what is around you rather than staring at your screen.
  • Detour can be a solo or social experience – in fact it is the world’s first social audio tour, you can sync Detour with friends for a shared experience!
  • Each Detour audio tour lets you walk in the shoes of a narrator with a special connection to the place, giving you access to voices and experiences you couldn’t otherwise have.
  • Detour is available at some of the world’s most iconic locations including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New Orleans, Boston, Portland, Savannah, Charleston, Austin, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Barcelona, and Marrakech.

Who is the Detour App for?

Anyone who wants to know more than they will learn from a guide book about their destination. Whether you are between flights, on a business trip, or on a holiday, Detour will make every step you take an unforgettable experience.

What do the Detour App reviews say?

Excellent mini tours that you can take to suit your own travel itinerary, and an unusual – and cool – way to experience a new place. Moreover people are saying that these tours deliver a real connection, on an emotional level via the stories told by the narrator. The downside? Wanted in more locations!

Get the app on Google Play and iTunes, or tune into the Detour website to find out more.

play.google.com

itunes.apple.com/gb

detour.com

 

 

12 Travel Photography Tips You Don’t Want To Miss

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Want to take some Nat-Geo worthy snaps on your next trip? Take a look at these top tips, guaranteed to improve your travel shots!

  1. Get up early. Sunrise is an awesome time, take the time to capture it in your location. An early start also gives you a better chance for capturing well-known landmarks without the masses.
  2. Stay out late. Long exposures of city lights, or of the stars at night sweeping by. Staying up late might also reveal a more decadent side to your destination!
  3. Use a tripod. It’ll give you time to set up your shot, and wait for the ideal light, or opportunity to take a remarkable shot.
  4. Shoot from the hip. A unique perspective, and a fun way to get some candid shots.
  5. Plan an itinerary. Don’t kick yourself for missing a photo opportunity, make a comprehensive list of locations you’d like to shoot.
  6. Let yourself get lost. Some of the best photos come from adventure. See where your journey takes you, there could be untold surprises in store.
  7. Recap the rules of composition. The rule of thirds in particular, it is a fast-track way to get a well-balanced shot.
  8. Try out some unusual framing. Break the composition rules and you may well get a dream shot that no-one else discovered.
  9. Learn to use your manual settings. Adjusting the shutter speed and light levels yourself can lead to a signature style that no one else can steal.
  10. Let yourself free with auto. Even the most basic of cameras nowadays are capable of awesome imagery – let your equipment do the hard work.
  11. Backup your image library. The last thing you want is to lose your pictures – keep them backed up!
  12. Make sure your equipment is covered with travel insurance. You also won’t want to lose your camera. Make sure that any equipment you take on your travels is covered on your insurance policy.

Chocolate Themed Breaks – An Alternative Easter Treat

Why have a chocolate egg when you can have a chocolate holiday! Here are four choice ways to have an eggstra indulgent Easter!

© Image Courtesy of Jade Mountain.

Chocolate Alchemy, Jade Mountain Spa Hotel, St Lucia 

This luxury hotel bathes in the glory of Piti and Gros Piton mountains, floating upon the Caribbean Sea, and rather indulgently is set in an estate where there are over 2000 cocoa trees growing! This makes Jade Mountain the place to go for an ultra indulgent chocolate experience!

In the Chocolate Lab guests can taste and help make the estate’s very own Emerald Estate Chocolate. Chocolate infused activities include sensory tastings, educational estate trips, and truffle making classes. There are also chocolate inspired dishes and cocktails in the resort restaurants and bars – plus chocolate themed spa treatments – the coarseness of ground cocoa makes for the perfect scrub, infusing the skin with natural nutrients and anti-oxidants. The Chocolate Alchemy Package Includes:

  • A chocolate welcome amenity and cocktail
  • Chocolate Lovers’ Breakfast in Bed celebration
  • Chocolate infused 1 hour spa treatment
  • A learning excursion to the resort’s Emerald Cocoa Estate
  • Chocolate Sensory tasting
  • Chocolate making class in Jade Mountain’s chocolate laboratory
  • A chance to create your own fudge and personalized chocolate bar

© Image Courtesy of Jade Mountain.

Chocolate Journey Cruise, Worldwide

Princess Cruises offers indulgent on-board chocolate experiences on all its liners, in partnership with award-winning chocolatier Norman Love. Each ship is different – but chocolate is always a key theme. Some for example do a monster Chocolate Indulgence breakfast buffet, and some boast a chocolate fountain or two. Experiences to entice guests aboard include:

  • Exquisite chocolate desserts
  • Chocolate-flavoured cocktails
  • Wine and chocolate pairing tasting sessions
  • Chocolate-themed spa treatments

 

© Image Courtesy of Cruise Critic

Mövenpick Signature Chocolate Hour, Worldwide

 This Swiss hotel chain is so connected with its heritage that it dedicates one hour in the afternoon to an exquisite chocolate tasting experience!

Mövenpick’s Signature Chocolate Hour takes place in the lobby of all their hotels and resorts around the world. Each day you can discover Mövenpick chocolate variations and homemade creations such as éclairs, brownies, truffles, chocolate fountains and much more!

© Image courtesy of Mövenpick.

The Chocolate Indulgence Break, Vale Resort, Wales

A complete hands-on experience in chocolate making, combined with a luxury break. The chocolate indulgence break includes:

  • 1 night luxury 4* break
  • Full Welsh breakfast
  • Vale Grill, A la Carte dinner
  • Half a day hands-on course making dipped chocolate & hand rolled truffles
  • Take home 25-30 chocolates
  • Tasting session & recipes
  • Half day in the Vale Spa with 25 minute facial or massage

© Image Courtesy of Vale Resort.

Mothers Day Weekend Getaways – Go On Treat Yourself!

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Whether you are looking to spoil your mum, or you are a mum looking to get away from it all on a Mother’s Day break, here are three sensational destinations to choose from!

MILAN – for the mum who likes to shop

Synonymous with design and fashion, the Italian city of Milan is the place to go on a shopping spree! The top five spots to shop are:

  • Via Montenapoleone – Luxury shopping from world-class designers including Gucci, Prada, and Valentino. It’s also where you’ll find the best of Italy’s leather goods!
  • Corso Venezia – Exclusive, elegant, and surrounded by beautiful gardens, parks and palaces. This is the place to be seen if you are in to fashion.
  • Corso di Porta Ticinese – Alternative brands, unique boutiques, and boasting a very cool hipster vibe. You’ll also find well-known brands like Vans, Levi and Diesel here.
  • Corso Vittorio Emanuele II – High street fashion from the likes of Zara and Mango, plus it’s got one of the biggest department stores in the city, 8 floors of retail therapy heaven!
  • Corso Buenos Aires – Europe’s longest shopping street with the highest concentration of clothing stores. A sure fire guarantee that you’ll shop till you drop.

 

BUDAPEST – for the mum who likes a pamper

The Hungarian capital is brimming with thermal baths, and spas, offering a wide range of pampering opportunities such as mud therapy, massage, facials, and salt cave experiences. Top places to go are:

  • Rudas Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool – A glorious historical building where you can get the most authentic hammam experience. There are 6 baths, all of a different temperature, a steam chamber and a Finnish sauna. Divine!
  • Lukács Bath – An enormous spa space with everything you could wish for under one roof. Outdoor hot pool with mini river, massage services, swimming, and Himalayan salt steam room – all supplied by what is touted to be the best quality thermal spring in the city.
  • Széchenyi Baths – As the largest spa complex in Europe, you know that this place has everything you could possibly want, but one spa in particular comes to attention – the Beer Spa! Here you can soak in the mineral-rich thermal water but blended with natural extracts used to brew beer. While the spa lists many benefits to this spa, the fact it has beer on tap within reach of the tub is a winner.

 

ICELAND – for the mum who likes an adventure

There is just so much for an adrenaline junkie to do in Iceland! Here are some top activities and where you’ll find them:

  • Ice Climbing – Sólheimajökull in South Iceland.
  • Ice Caving – one of the most popular places to explore is on a glacier hike near Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding – Head to Akureyri, Hlíðarfjall, these ski resorts are open for more days in the season.
  • Dog Sledding – Locations vary, but most tour pickups are from Reykjavík.
  • Trekking, Hiking and Mountain Biking – All over Iceland taking in beaches, hot springs, mountains and valleys.
  • Snowmobiling – Tours are mostly at the top of glaciers, so expect awesome views too!
  • Scuba Diving – Silfra Fissure, situated in Þingvellir National Park – one of the top 5 diving sites worldwide!
  • White Water Rafting – Hvíta´ river, south Iceland, Jökulsá Austari in the North East, Vestari Jökulsá in the North West.
  • Paragliding – Birds eye view of Reynisfjara black sand beach, Reynisdrangar basalt stacks, ocean waves, lava rock formations, waterfalls… you get the picture!

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We cover a huge range of activities and sports as standard, and even more can be added to your policy if you need!

 

Culture Trip App Review -Travel App of the Month Feb 2018

If you are searching for inspiration for your travel itinerary, there is an app written and curated by locals, enhanced by travellers, and designed so you can leave bulky guidebooks behind. Let us introduce Culture Trip!

What is the Culture Trip App?

It is an app that helps you discover the most amazing things to see, do, and experience in over 300 locations worldwide. Everything on it has been recommended by someone who lives it, loves it, and wants you to experience it too.

What can the Culture Trip App do?

It makes local culture globally accessible, enabling users to explore things to do in their chosen destination. It even has informative articles and videos that will enhance your holiday experience from a cultural perspective.

  • Find recommendations for every country in the world
  • Use the explore function to find things to do in favourite locations and new destinations
  • Locate restaurants, bars, pubs, markets and more near you
  • Discover unique and informative articles curated and written by locals
  • Bookmark posts you want to come back to
  • Share stories with one tap to facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram
  • Download and read articles offline

Who is the Culture Trip App for?

It is for travellers that don’t want to miss a thing, and really want to understand and experience all that their holiday destination has to offer. If you have a thirst for knowledge, are interested in other cultures, and are inspired by new things, this is definitely the travel app for you!

What do Culture Trip App reviews say?


It has been described as “fantastic, intuitive, and compelling”, and the must-have app if you like to travel off the beaten path. Some reviewers have had some glitch experiences, but the developers seem to be quick on bug fixes and performance improvements aimed to enhance user experience.

Get it on Google Play

Get it on iTunes

 

Backpacking Life Lessons – 20 Things You Discover On Your First Trip

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  1. You don’t need a change of clothes for everyday.
  2. Layering is the best way to dress for all weathers.
  3. Cotton clothes retain water, which is rubbish for backpacking in the winter. During the summer however that is an obvious perk.
  4. Wool socks and base layers are the way to go in winter.
  5. Merino wool is worth the money because it’s not itchy.
  6. Extra socks are a necessity not a luxury.
  7. Every little thing you can cut from your backpack bag really does make it weigh less.
  8. Pack less, smile more.
  9. Pack a portable charger WITH converters.
  10. Take a kindle not hardcopies of books.
  11. Download “offline” maps while you have wifi.
  12. Listening to music on an mp3 player is better than wasting phone battery.
  13. Microfibre towels take ages to dry, a wash cloth is just as good as a towel.
  14. Ziplock bags in various sizes will save your day, every day.
  15. Going with the flow and hoping to find a bed for the night doesn’t work out if you turn up mid-festival/holiday/celebration… check how busy your destination might be before you head there.
  16. Good socks are just as important as good shoes and boots.
  17. Sock liners are a luxury you make room for if you don’t want stinky feet or blisters.
  18. Looking for stuff in an unorganised pack is a waste of time – pack your bag so the stuff you use the most is on the top or in external pockets.
  19. Earplugs are a must if you want a good night’s sleep.
  20. Hostel beds can be rank even at the best of times – pack a travel sheet.

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Living out of a bag and being constantly on the move ups the risk of losing belongings, or having them stolen. We have special long stay insurance perfect for backpacking adventures. Cover from 3 to 18 months covering casual work plus many sports.