Category Archives: Travel Advice

Wi-Fi Hotspots on Holiday – Tips To Keep Your Online Surfing Safe

It was once the case that travellers used free or paid-for Wi-Fi hotspots without a care in the world. Then the security flaws were revealed. We share some essential insights and advice to keep your holiday free from cyber invasion next time you go online.

Image by Unsplash CC0

Security experts warn that travellers who use free and paid-for, passcode-protected Wi-Fi hotspots at hotels, bars, airports, restaurants etc, are vulnerable to hacking by cyber criminals snooping around on the network – trying to steal users’ bank details, passcodes, personal contacts and other information. All they have to do is spot users on a network and attempt to hack into any unsecured phones, tablets or laptops or see what their users are doing online and gather data that might prove useful in a criminal act.

How do they do it?

Craig Stillman, Marketing Executive, Cellhire Group explains, “One popular method is to fool customers into thinking they have a connection to the Wi-Fi hotspot, whereas in fact they have connected to someone [the criminal] who is between them and the hotspot. Each Wi-Fi hotspot provider issues their own passcode to their customers, passcodes that can also be accessed by cyber criminals posing as customers – this is all the information they need to set up the alias connection also known as an “Evil Twin” connection.”

The “Evil Twin” connection

The “evil twin” connection is a spoof network that uses the name of a hotel, café or shop etc – and enables the creator access to devices when their owners click the network name and try to log on.

Once connected, customers send information – which might include credit card details and emails, complete with their email address, of course – to the criminal’s device, not to the intended destination.

When criminals have personal information, they can masquerade as the customer at will, whenever they want, until [or if] caught out.

Another risk is malware

Criminals can trigger a pop up message advising users to upgrade their software. By clicking the message – in good faith! – the customers infect their device.

None of this means we should shun Wi-Fi hotspots. But it does mean we should be vigilant when we do, and take precautions, or use our own private MiFi hotspot instead.

Steps you can take to help safeguard you from attack

  • Don’t be an easy target. Ensure you really are connecting to the Wi-Fi hotspot, not a spoof connection. If in doubt, double-check the precise name of the connection with the hotspot owner. Hackers might set up a near-identical connection name and trick the unwary.
  • Use a VPN [Virtual Private Network]. That way, any data you send will be encrypted, meaning that even if a criminal has broken into your connection, they’ll be more likely to dump the data rather than try to decrypt it, unless they have good reason to believe your data is of value.
  • Turn the “sharing” option off on your device, if it’s “on”. That will help ensure your data isn’t shared with anyone on the network.
  • Browse the web using a secured browser. It will make you safer online and help keep you away from rogue, phishing websites, but cannot guarantee 100% security. However, it’s another step in the right direction.
  • Keep your anti-malware program up to date to help guard against viruses and spyware. That’s key even if you believe your device is safe because you’ve taken steps like those above. Determined hackers will still have a go and might succeed in getting your device infected.
  • Use a device that contains no confidential information. Smartphones can be hired, a useful option if you want to go down that route. Hired smartphones can be particularly useful when visiting the US, because strict regulations there mean that a traveller’s smartphone can be taken away for inspection and its passcode demanded, potentially putting its data and information at risk. A hired smartphone will carry no personal data or information, if it has not been used by the traveller.
  • Create your own hotspot – a mobile, MiFi hotspot – that goes where you go and which reverts to 3G where a 4G signal weakens or disappears or isn’t even available.

Using internet security solutions such as anti-malware and anti-phishing programs are only part of the picture. Our online behaviour such as keeping backups of data and information is also important.

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack, and face a demand to pay £x to unlock our infected device, having a backup will get you out of the situation. You can simply ignore the demand and load your backups onto another device. Using cloud-based options for storage is fine, but if you have confidential work or personal information, an offline backup better. Offline backups are unhackable unless the computer it’s attached to is connected to the web. Always perform backups when disconnected!

Mobile Hotspots explained…

A mobile hotspot is generated via a MiFi, a small, portable, battery operated router that has its own passcode – a robust first-line defence against easy or determined hacking.

A MiFi can be hired for use on holidays or business travel, it is small enough to fit in your pocket, and it comes with country – and, in some cases, continent-specific data SIM cards.

Apart from their security aspect, A MiFi often provides noticeably superior web surfing speeds compared to Wi-Fi hotspots – perfect if you want to keep on top of business or social media while you are travelling!

Remember – you aren’t just vulnerable to cyber crime on holiday – criminals are known to use the same techniques the world over. Your smartphones and MiFis are the value of the information they can access, not just what they cost.

Don’t forget your travel insurance, it will cover you for loss, damage or theft of your belongings while on holiday!

Stratajet Travel App of the Month March 2017

Getting to your holiday destination by private jet is no longer an option exclusive to the rich and famous thanks to the very clever technology behind the stratajet app…

What is the Stratajet app?

Stratajet is a private jet booking app that makes it easier than ever before to get from A to B. The app brings private jets to your fingertips for the first time, allowing you to search for and compare a wide range of aircraft for charter and book them instantly. The app also shows the exact prices for your trip so you won’t be stung with any additional charges post-flight.

What can the Stratajet app do?

The app gives you direct access to a fleet of over 1,250 private jets, and the ability to check their availability at a date and time of your choosing.

The beauty of private jet travel is that you control the schedule, but until now confirming a booking has been a time-consuming process. With Stratajet you just enter where you would like to go and the date and time at which you’d like to travel and the system filters through all available aircraft for that route. The results are displayed in seconds, along with accurate prices, and the system allows you to completely customise your private jet experience. You can confirm your booking there and then and pay securely within the app using touch ID.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within its search results, Stratajet will also automatically include any available empty legs (private jets that are flying empty because they need to be repositioned).

Adapting these flights to suit your itinerary allows Stratajet to offer private jet charter at significantly reduced prices – often a discount of up to 75% off the normal cost. If an adaptive empty leg flight is available for your journey these will show at the top of the search results.

Who is the Stratajet app for?

The Stratajet app optimises door-to-door private jet travel, offering you a way to save time getting from A to B. You can enter what time you need to be at your destination and the app will tell you exactly what time you need to leave your home or office. No delays, no airport queues, no stress.

Thanks to Stratajet’s more streamlined booking process, private jets are no longer reserved for the rich and famous – they’re available at lower costs to the mainstream traveller.

What do the Stratajet app reviews say?

“Managed to get a quote within minutes, and completed my entire booking through the app with no issues.”

“Finally a way to search and book flights instantly – no waiting on quotes by email, no pushy salespeople.”

“What an amazing way to search and book jets!”

Discover more and download the app at stratajet.com

The Biggest Firework Festivals of 2017

If you are looking for a break that packs a big bang for your bucks, then maybe you should plan your next adventure around a firework festival! Here are some of the most impressive firework themed events that are happening around the world in 2017 for you to enjoy.

April 15th Rouketopolemos – Greek islands of Chios

Image by phtorxp CC0

This event translates as “Rocket War”, and it takes certain types of travellers to throw themselves into the chaos that ensues. Rouketopolemos takes place in Vrontados. It is here a pyrotechnic battle is staged between two churches – in rival parishes – firing as many as 60,000 rockets between them actually at each other. Rouketopolemos is their way of marking Easter. We bet not many chocolate eggs survive the ordeal!

July 14th Bastille Day – France

Bastille Day Fireworks Image by Yann Caradec CC BY-SA 2.0

Each year the Bastille Day fireworks display lights up the Parisian skyline, and each year it brings something new in a themed event. War and Peace, Paris Welcomes The World, and Paris Is A Party are examples. Watching untold amounts of money literally go up in smoke from the Eiffel Tower is a popular event, and you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with around a million people! Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the start of the French revolution.

August 09th Singapore National Day

Singapore National Day Celebrations Image by Tony Gladvin George CC BY 2.0

The fireworks on Singapore National Day is a patriotic display of pyrotechnic wonders that gets bigger every year. To mark Singapore as an international hub, teams from around the world are invited to showcase their culture in the most magnificent way possible – with fireworks and pyromusicals – lighting up Marina Bay. The colorful event celebrates the country’s colourful rise to independence from Malaysia in 1965.

September 22nd – 25th Correfoc, Spain

Correfoc Fire Run Image by Somewhere In The World Today CC BY 2.0

This fiery pastime translates as “firerun” and is actually quite self-explanatory – especially when you read the tourist health and safety advice. Wear old clothes, cover your arms and legs, protect your neck with a bandana and wear headgear to protect yourself from burns. It is also advised that spectators wear earplugs to protect their ears, and that hands should be free to shield eyes at any time a “diable” gets too close. So what’s all the fuss about? During the Correfoc, “devils” are let loose, running through the crowds with fireworks attached to pitchforks. Not for the feint hearted. There are kids Correfoc events that may be less scary for the safety conscious traveller. Correfocs happen at lots of festivals throughout the year in Spain, we’ve picked a balmy autumnal event in Barcelona for your enjoyment!

October 31st Diwali, India

Diwali Fireworks Image by Kinshuk Kashyap CC BY 2.0

The Hindus celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over despair with the most massive firework display. Diwali hasn’t always had fireworks at the heart of its celebrations – traditionally candles were lit in a more modest celebration of light – and may not have for much longer. It seems that the enthusiasm for fireworks displays during this time is seriously affecting the air quality. Last year’s celebrations caused smog in Delhi for days affecting many people’s health. Weather conditions were thought to be a contributing factor.

November 05th Guy Fawkes, UK

Lewes Fireworks Image by Stuart Chalmers CC BY-ND 2.0

You’ll all be familiar with this celebration, but have you ever witnessed the shenanigans that happen in the little (and usually very peaceful) town of Lewes in East Sussex at this time of year? Lewes Bonfire Celebrations is one of the most spectacular of its kind in the world, where a procession of burning (often political) effigies make their way down the high street and fireworks are let off, well, wherever it seems! Tickets MUST be bought in advance, and don’t go thinking you can just drive in and park – most of the town is closed to traffic in the lead up to the celebrations.

December 24th La Noche Buena, Peru

Fireowrks Image by photogrammer7 CC0

The last date in the calendar takes us across the world to Peru, where locals welcome in Christmas with a big bang. The 24th is a day for feasting and drinking, and then Peruvians take to the streets and light fireworks before partying the night away. It’s summer in this part of the world, which makes celebrating xmas alfresco an unusual and beautiful experience, especially accompanied by festive fireworks!

If you fancy dancing with fire devils, spectating a rocket war, or just taking in the dazzling lights of Diwali, you’d better get yourself some travel insurance. We have a range of competitively priced policies that are low on excitement, but big on cover.

Gifts For Globetrotting Mums on Mothers Day

If you have a mother who enjoys short city breaks, likes spending a well-earned week on a yoga retreat, or is on the fly all the time with work – give her a gift she’ll really love this mothers day…

Oversized Travel Wrap, £59 at Tolly McRae

A pashmina is the sarong’s rich relative, and the perfect present for Mother’s Day. This one by Tolly McRae is woven from fine merino wool and will make a cosy cover-up on the plane, or beach, and work just as well dressing up eveningwear.

Sleep Mask, £22 at In Spaces

The key to looking glam, is feeling well rested. Thankfully these handmade sleep masks designed by Laura Nicholson will make your mum feel glam while she is wearing them too. Delightful delicate Asian-inspired designs finished with satin bows are just too cute for home, they deserve to be seen by fellow travellers!

Adventure Luggage Tag, £6 at The Contemporary Home

Cutesy, quirky, and another way to make sure luggage stands out in a crowd. Globetrotting mums will love these luggage tags, and at this price, you’ll be able to get a bunch of flowers too –or matching luggage in the range!

 

Paper Plane Wash Bag, £17.99 at Totally Funky

Any jet-setting mum worth her passport has a soft spot for Paper Plane, which is why we think this parcel-inspired wash bag will go down a treat on Mothers Day.

Wooden Bead Wristband Headphones, £29.99 at Cuckooland

Your mum will love you forever for this one! It is super-stylish, super-space saving, and she’ll never have to rummage through her luggage to find headphones again! The Wooden Bead Wristband by Wraps combines headphones with microphone and is designed to be worn as a bracelet when not in use. Genius!

GoEuro – Travel App of the Month Jan 2017

goeuro logoTravelling Europe by plane, train and “bus-mobile” has never been easier thanks to a fab new app aimed at those looking for the fastest and cheapest way to get from A to B.

What is the GoEuro app?

GoEuro is a travel search and booking app for train, bus and flights across Europe with over 30,000 destinations in 12 countries – not just cities and airports like many other sites, but small towns and villages that are serviced by trains and coaches as well. The app is your best friend for discovering and booking the fastest and/or most affordable journeys via train, coach and plane.

What can the GoEuro app do?

The GoEuro app is useful for those looking to travel from one European city, town or village to another as they can work out the cheapest or smartest route to their intended destination and compare travel time or price.

The app will allow users to:

  • Discover the cheapest ticket price for the fastest travel time
  • View all available methods of transport to their destination- train, coach or plane
  • Book tickets securely via credit/debit card or Paypal

GoEuro App Screenshot 3 GoEuro App Screenshot 2 GoEuro App Screenshot 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is theGoEuro app for? 

Adventurers and the budget-conscious! Although the GoEuro app is for anyone looking to book travel in Europe, we think the app particularly suits the budget traveller who is looking to find the fastest and/or most affordable way to hop between European cities, or travellers wanting to explore further afield than the main tourism hubs.

What do the GoEuro reviews say?

goeuro review shot 2 goeuro review shot 1

Get The GoEuro app on iTunes or GooglePlay

Can Travel Insurance Save You From These Deadly Creatures?

Travel insurance is pretty good at making sure that travellers get home safe and sound after something nasty has happened. Being airlifted off a mountain after a skiing accident for example, or getting someone on the next flight home should they fall ill on holiday. Should someone fall foul of these deadly creatures however, then travel insurance could well save a life… if you have long enough!


Image source: TravelSupermarket;

Don’t leave your holiday health to chance – get travel insurance!

 

Don’t Let Your Amorous Intentions Hit The Rocks! 10 Romantic Holiday Tips You Must Not Miss

Image by Pexels CC0

Image by Pexels CC0

1. Don’t go all-inclusive

There isn’t much that is less romantic on holiday than a table for two in a hotel restaurant.

2. Choose self-catering

Having your own rental is way cosier than being confined to a hotel room, plus there are certain amorous perks to having your own food supplies.

3. Go somewhere cold

That way you have a perfect excuse to snuggle up.

4. Book somewhere with a log burner

It’s easy and a romantic thing to arrange.

5. Get somewhere with a hot tub

This needs no explanation – easy on the bubbles though.

6. Go somewhere quiet

This guarantees you get more attention.

7. Disconnect

The fastest way to boost the romantic factor is to SWITCH YOUR PHONE OFF!

8. Keep it short

Any more than a couple of days away and you are likely to kill the cuddly atmosphere with something trivial.

9. Keep it close-by

A long journey, especially involving an airport is also likely to stop romance dead in its tracks.

10. Ask your hotel or booking agent for “honeymoon” treats

Champers on ice, a box of chocolates, petals on the bed… most hotels, b&bs, and apartments have a little something special for newlyweds, ask if you can have the same upgrade.

Cricket In The Caribbean – A Sunny Spring Break For Sports Fans

Image by rhodes8043 CC0

Image by rhodes8043 CC0

Worried that the grey British weather will leave you feeling as mad as a March hare by the end of the month? Fear not – you still have four weeks to get yourself to the England v West Indies Tour where the sound of wood on willow is extra relaxing thanks to sea, sand and sun!

There are also lots of gorgeous beaches to explore, natural sights to see, and plenty of rum to be drunk too. Here’s our guide to the most relaxing break in the world this spring!

Where and When

The England v West Indies tour 2017 takes place in Antigua on the 3rd and 5th of March at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium and at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on the 9th March.

What to do (other than watch cricket)

Whether you travel independently or plump for a package, you’ll have a few days between matches to explore everything the Caribbean has to offer. Here are some of our favourites…

Swim with turtles – You can book a private trip or go on a group feed and swim excursion to the nearby turtle sanctuary. The 2 hour eco-adventure starts in Bridgetown, Barbados where you’ll be whisked away in a boat, giving you beautiful views of the south coast on the way to Carlisle Bay. Guests get to feed these magnificent beasts, and brush up on their underwater photography. All snorkelling equipment is provided, and you’ll be given some light refreshments on your return journey. Prices start at about £45.

Explore Harrisons Cave – It might seem a shame to head underground when you have sunny skies above, but Harrisons Cave is a treat not to be missed! A glass lift and tram ride ensure it won’t sap too much energy, and you will get to learn a lot about the local history as well as the geology on the journey. You can book a tour for about £100 that includes visits to the other natural wonders in Barbados such as Hunte’s Gardens, The Flower Forest, Barbados Wildlife Reserve, and Bathsheba.

Drink Rum at St Nicholas Abbey – No trip to the Caribbean is complete without a drop of Rum, and St Nicholas Abbey is just the place to go to sample some. The working distillery dates back to the mid 1600s and is a working example of a 19th century sugar plantation, with the original mills crushing the sugar cane. You can join a historical tour around the house and museum then spend your own time exploring the grounds. Various packages are available starting at about £65.

How to get there – Independent Travel vs Tour Packages

Flights to just Barbados with Virgin are in the region of £700 per person return. The flights between Antigua and Barbados are around £400 with Caribbean Airlines.

To enjoy a week in a luxury beachside hotel you can expect to pay £3,000.

English Cricket Tours have a two-centre package with 6 nights in Antigua, all-inclusive at the beachfront Halcyon Cove followed by 6 nights in Barbados from £2700 per person. This includes flights, accommodation, transfers from the airport to the hotels, and inter island flight. Even though tickets to watch the cricket are extra, this seems like quite a bargain! For more information visit englishcrickettours.co.uk or call 0208 932 4565/0203 667 1613.

Travel Insurance!

Don’t forget your travel insurance – if it is your only trip of the year, we can offer excellent deals on our single trip insurance, or if this is part of your annual globetrotting adventures you’ll need our annual multi trip insurance. We also have family policies where kids go free. Call 01892 833338 for more info, free quotes or to arrange last minute cover.

Envago – Travel App of the Month Jan 2017

envago-logoThere’s a new app in town designed to unite adventure seekers and adventure planners in one great big community of global adventure!

What Is Envago?

Envago is a free app that allows those seeking adventures to search by category of adventure, listed activities or by location to access a range of experiences and providers. It is also a place where adventure planners can list upcoming trips, adventures, and events.

Adventure Categories:

  • Air: parasailing, paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, zip lining, hot air balloon, base jumping, parachute.
  • Earth: hiking, camping, trekking, rock climbing, cycling, backpacking, running, ATV, safari, motorcycling, mountain biking, expeditions, hunting.
  • Water: rafting, snorkeling, diving, shark cage diving, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, fishing, sailing, scuba diving.
  • Rock & Ice: skiing, climbing, caving, glacier hiking, snow boarding.
  • Volunteer: volunteer tourism, eco-tourism, environmentally sustainable activities, archeological expedition, disaster relief, refugee camps, health and educational programs.

envago-screenshot-1 envago-screenshot-2

What does the Envago app do?

Adventure seekers can:

– Browse experiences by category, difficulty, location, price and date

– Book and plan adventure breaks with verified planners

– Connect with others booked on the same adventure

– Chat with groups

– Create an adventure bucket-list

– Review adventure planners

Adventure planners can:

– Register as a planner

– List and manage adventures

– Create closed or open groups

– Set the price and number in group

– Chat with team groups

– Receive payments

What do the Envago reviews say?

This app is super-new on the scene and is yet to notch up a bank of user reviews, but we are predicting it will be the next big thing in the adventure industry – it has after all been described as “the Airbnb and Uber of adventure travel”.

envago-review

Envago is free and available in the iTunes store. The Android version is being released soon. You can find out more about the Envago app at www.envagoapp.com

Tours: The Holiday From Hell Or The Best Way To Check Out Somewhere New?

Organised tours have a bit of a bad rep, deemed by many to be un-adventurous and a bit like an overpriced school trip with a bunch of people you are unlikely to get on with. If this is what you think, we are here to change your mind by busting some myths associated with this type of holiday.

Myth 1: I’ll only see the touristy stuff

going-on-a-tour-image-by-sasint-cc0

Image by sasint CC0

FALSE! Tours are run by people who know the area – which includes all the cool stuff that you’d probably miss if you were left to your own devices, or at least spend half of your holiday trying to discover.

Myth 2: I’ll be stuck with the group the whole time

going-on-a-tour-image-by-hans-cc0

Image by Hans CC0

FALSE! You are not being babysat 24/7, you can go out and discover the area by yourself and experience the night life without the rest of the group if you so wish. In fact, if you want a bit of spontaneity on your trip just ask your tour guide who can tell you where is safe to go if you fancy a bit of time on your own.

Myth 3: It’s expensive

going-on-a-tour-image-by-klimkin-cc0

Images by Klimkin CC0

TRUE! BUT… Break the cost down and you’ll be surprised what great value for money it really is. Whether the daily cost works out to be £50 or £150, bear in mind that it covers the cost of flights, accommodation, transfers, local guides and even meals. You can check out average tour prices with this handy calculator from Tour Radar.

Myth 4: It’s better to go on holiday with friends

going-on-a-tour-image-by-unsplash-cc0

Image by Unsplash CC0

MAYBE, MAYBE NOT! Organizing a holiday with friends can actually be quite restrictive, as you all want to see and experience different things, and try hard to compromise. It can also lead to some pretty epic bust-ups on the way. The bonus of a tour holiday is that you are essentially experiencing independent travel with the safety and support of a group.

Whether a tour is the best option for you all depends what you want to get out of your holiday. If it’s a trip of a lifetime where you get a chance to try new things, expand your personal horizons, meet new people, forge new friendships, and have something to write home about – a tour is probably the way to go.

Don’t forget your travel insurance!

Even if you are booked with a tour operator, you may benefit from having your own independent travel insurance to ensure you are covered for things like medical assistance and repatriation. If you are unsure, just give one of our travel insurance advisors a call on 01892 833338