Category Archives: Travel Advice

Top Tips For Adventure Holiday Landscape Photography

Don’t come back from your next trip with a bunch of smartphone pics and the excuse “you had to be there really”. Instead, bag some envy-inducing shots worthy of National Geographic with these simple tips.

Alaska Image by 12019 CC0

 Take a decent camera.

Go old school Single Lens Reflex, or take it up a notch with a DSLR. Whatever you do, don’t use a smartphone, use a camera where you can adjust light settings and aperture to get the aesthetic you are looking for.

Use a tripod.

The best way to get the perfect frame for your shot, and the only way to wait for the right moment without ruining the image with camera shake. A tripod is also essential for taking long exposures.

Pack a cable release.

The hands off approach will ensure you don’t jog the camera when releasing the shutter, or cause any movement during long exposure photography.

Take a variety of lenses

Take a wide-angle, super-wide angle and a telephoto lens at the very least. This image of Seljalandsfoss, one of the most-photographed waterfalls in south Iceland, was taken with a 10mm fish-eye lens.

© GERALDINE WESTRUPP

Photographer tip: Try an unusual perspective

“Taking this picture from the path to the back of Seljalandsfoss gives an unusual perspective, and the use of a 10mm fish-eye lens gives remarkable results. The setting sun lights up the wall behind this stunning cascade only a few times in the year. October, when this shot was taken, is a good time to try.” 

Photographer tip: Get up early

“Getting up early ensures that you have time to get to your chosen location and set up your equipment before the action starts. On Iceland’s Diamond Beach (pictured below) the sun rises over the sea and it lights up the water and sparkling ice that graces the black sand.  The actual appearance of the sun in this case is not important; the effect that it has on the ice is where the drama is. It’s a good idea to pinpoint the perfect time to shoot by using a smartphone app such as Sun Seeker to determine sunrise and sunset times for your exact location.” 

© GERALDINE WESTRUPP

Pack your filters.

A UV filter will really make the image crisp and the colours pop, and a polarising filter will give extra colour saturation as well as reducing glare off highly reflective surfaces. An ND filter is awesome for daytime long exposures, resulting in an ephemeral aesthetic when photographing waves or fast moving clouds in the sky.

© Fortythree Photography

 

© Fortythree Photography

 

Circa App Review – Travel App of the Month October 2018

It is hard enough to know when you are awake when hopping from one country to the next in a blur of time zone changes. So how are you meant to know when friends, family, and business contacts are around? We have found the answer!

What is the Circa App?

It is a thing of beauty. A well designed time zone tracking app that allows you to see what time it is where you are, as well as the time it is where you are heading, and anywhere else you like too. But that’s not all…

What Does the Circa App do?

It has some clever features such as allowing you to add “office time” for example, so you know when a contact in another country will be available. The app also lets you do this for multiple time zones and locations which makes it possible to create meeting invitations that work for everyone.

  • Visually compare time across multiple locations
  • Quickly see working hour overlaps
  • Connect your calendars to check your schedule
  • Personal, organise in your own way
  • Create one-touch meeting invitations

It is also Apple Watch ready, which looks pretty neat.

Who is the Circa App for?

It has been built with busy business people in mind. “Stop wondering when your colleagues are available and start using circa.” However, we think it is a pretty neat app for anyone who has friends and family around the world, which includes long-term travellers trying to keep in contact with friends they have made on their way as well as family back home.

What do the Circa App reviews say?

It looks nice. It is simple. It does what it says on the tin, and very well it does it too.

Get Circa on iTunes.

What Really Happens When You Miss A Flight?

Image by JESHOOTScom CC0

You’ll feel stressed, confused, embarrassed and have “why did it happen to me?” doing loop da loops in your head until you finally get to your destination. For slightly more helpful information, read on…

1. It depends on the reason you missed your flight

Missing your flight because you got the date wrong or because your passport is out of date when you show up – this is your error, totally avoidable and you should have noticed. In this instance you will have to reschedule your flight and bear whatever costs that involves!

If you spent too long browsing duty free or fell asleep and missed the call for your gate, you have the added inconvenience that your luggage may well be on its way but you are not! In this awful situation find a relevant member of staff and see if your bags got booted off the plane, then work out how you get on the next flight. In many cases you won’t be charged, or you may have to pay a small fee to change your ticket, whereas some will charge you the difference in flight fee.

If you missed your flight in a wave of abject panic from being stuck in traffic, dealing with a broken down car, or train services were unexpectedly not running then you may be able to get on the next available flight at no extra cost. This is down to an unofficial “flat tire” rule. As it’s unofficial it is never definitely a choice, and it varies between airlines. General rules of it are:

  • The reason for missing your flight must be out of your control e.g. like having a flat tire.
  • You must arrive at the airport within 2 hours of your original flight departure.
  • You must have notified your airline of your unfortunate predicament so your probably vacant seat could be offered to some other poor soul that missed their own flight if you don’t turn up in time.

2. It could depend on your travel insurance

 If you have travel insurance, which really you should, you may be able to recover some unexpected costs as a result of missing your flight. Please note that this is different from costs incurred due to a flight being delayed or cancelled! Your policy will outline if you are covered in the event of a missed flight, and also what qualifying circumstances are required to be eligible to claim. You may be able to book any ongoing flight to get you to your destination at the soonest opportunity rather than wait for a standby slot – but as always, please read the terms of your own policy for clarification!

3. The terms of your ticket may play a role

Not all tickets are equal, and if you are on a budget airline, or have a super-economy ticket, or booked a special deal, you may find that if you miss your flight then that’s just tough luck and you will need to pay out for another.

4. It depends on what other flights are available

Usually your airline will put you on standby for the next available flight, but that might not be until the next day. You can always opt to book an entirely new flight if you are happy to accept losing your original fare to get to your destination sooner.

5. It definitely depends on how you handle it

As with anything, politeness will get you a long way, as will being pro active! If you think you are going to miss your flight, let the airline know – you will have more chance of getting on the next flight and may well be able to without much extra cost. If you are at the airport and have missed a connection or it took longer than expected to get through security, remain calm, go to your nearest desk or representative and ask how they can help in this situation. If you have already checked out your options during the mayhem sharing them with the helpdesk may well make the whole process quicker and get you on a flight sooner.

 

Jetcost Flights Comparison Review – Travel App of the Month September 2018

Everyone loves a bargain, especially if it means having more spending money for holiday! People also want finding that bargain to be super easy. Enter an app that makes it a cinch to find competitively priced flights, favourite searches, and works offline….

What is the Jetcost App?

It is a free flight comparison app and the new updated version has a range of features that makes it really easy to use.

What does the Jetcost App do?

Jetcost offers the usual comparison service and adds a customised search experience by allowing users access to their search history and bookmarked results. Users can do this EVEN WHILE THEY ARE OFFLINE! This makes it perfect for browsing your travel itinerary while still on a plane, or in your remote destination that has no signal or wi-fi.

  • Access flight information – departure and arrival locations, times, duration, number of stops, waiting times, etc.
  • Filter results by flight duration, airlines, stops, travel class, departure and arrival times, smart time intervals, etc.
  • View search history and favourite
  • Continue searches where you left off.
  • Access search history at anytime, anywhere.
  • Swipe to either delete an itinerary, or add it to bookmarks.

Who is the Jetcost App good for?

Thrifty travellers, frequent travellers, business travellers, backpackers, bargain hunters, savvy travellers, busy travellers.

What do the Jetcost App Reviews say?

Reviews focus on the ease of use and lack of ads – not bad for a free app! Links to less than reputable travel agents has been mentioned, but Jetcost only claims to offer users the info, not recommend which bookings to make.

Jetcost Comparison App is available on iTunes

Filling The Void: 10 Ways To Kill Time Before Checking In

Image by StockSnap CC0

Ever been stuck in that post-check-out, pre-check-in void while travelling, or even just arrived earlier than scheduled and can’t book in for four hours? It sucks, especially when you just want to enjoy a holiday vibe! Here are a few ways to pass that time without feeling like you are waiting.

First, ask to stash your luggage so you are free to explore – you could even take this opportunity to find out if there is a different room already free and avoid waiting around altogether!

  1. Ask to use the hotel facilities – whether it is a lounge, lobby, or leisure area they’ll probably let you in before you check in.
  2. Head to a local spa – it will be relaxing, refreshing and will wash away the dreaded travel grime.
  3. Seek out a nearby gym – a burst of exercise will hopefully leave you feeling energised, plus you can get cleaned up with a well-deserved shower after.
  4. Go for a leisurely brunch – enjoying a bellyful of food while watching the local life pass by will soon get you in the holiday vibe.
  5. Take the opportunity to exchange currency – or do any other tedious tasks that need doing just to get them out of the way.
  6. Go to a local museum or gallery – not only will you fit in something that might not be on your itinerary, but you’ll also learn heaps about the local culture during your visit.
  7. Go for a walk – by exploring the local area you’ll find out what you’d like to see and experience more of during your stay. It is also a great way to scope out hidden gems that you’d otherwise miss with a set itinerary.
  8. Journal – whether you head to a nearby open space, a café or bar, finding somewhere to journal is a great idea for whiling away time.
  9. Revise your itinerary – this is the best time to take a look at your ideas because you can pick up local literature for lesser known attractions and excursions, and you can also ask the locals, and other holiday makers what they would (and would not) recommend.
  10. Ask for early check-in – if you know you are going to be early, ask in advance about an early check-in. In most cases hotels and hosts are able to accommodate given enough notice, but may charge for the service.

 

Arriving way before your check-in time is a pain, but not as bad as missing your flight or connection and missing out on holiday time! Make sure your travel insurance covers you for missed departures!

The Secrets to Making The Most of a Short Break Abroad

Image by Aknafi CC0

The truth about short breaks is that they are exhausting – right? Just when you need a few days respite, with a splash of adventure you end up travelled out, rushed and wishing you’d spent a long weekend at home with a book instead. Unless you do it right of course – here’s how!

1. Follow the cardinal rule – the number of hours you travel should not be greater than the number of days of your trip.

Going for 4 days? Limit your flight time to four hours! You could even argue that the time spent in travelling to and from the airport should count too. Breaking this rule will mean that you will spend most of your trip getting from A to B rather than enjoying your destination, and you might just add a bit of jetlag into the mix if you travel really far!

2. Pick a destination or experience that is very different from “real life” at home.

The more novel your travel experience, the more you’ll feel like you have had a proper holiday and a decent break.

3. Stay at one hotel or apartment rather than travelling through your destination.

The post-check-out, pre-check-in void between 11 and 2 is best avoided, especially on a short break. Time is of the essence, so don’t spend it waiting around!

4. Upgrade yourself!

If you yearn to live a luxury lifestyle, a short break may well be the perfect opportunity to do it. A five-star hotel for 3 days is going to be more financially accessible than for a long holiday. OK, you might spend the same as you would on a 7-day budget break, but instead you have a long weekend of absolute bliss to enjoy!

5. Create the perfect “holiday experience sandwich” when you plan your itinerary.

Make the first day a day to relax, unwind and do things that aren’t mentally, emotionally, financially or physically taxing. Use the middle section of your trip to see, do, and experience everything on your to-do list so that you really feel like you’ve made the most of your trip. Finally, save the last day for unwinding – maybe head to a local spa, or have a long luxurious feast at a local restaurant.

Follow these tips and not only will you have a full and rewarding holiday experience, but you’ll also come back feeling like you have managed to relax and unwind – a rarity with a short break abroad!

A Newbies Guide To Wildlife Volunteering Holidays

Male Lion on Borana Conservancy © culsansgaptravel.co.uk

If you want to work abroad for a bit helping the local wildlife, you need to be very careful about who you book with and what you’ll be doing, otherwise there is potential to cause more harm than good, or miss what you went to experience. Here are a few pointers to steer you in the right direction when researching your options.

Look for recognised affiliations and partnerships with reputable responsible travel companies. Companies such as Long Run and Responsible Travel really put operators through their paces to showcase honest, supportive behaviours. Booking with affiliated companies means your volunteer experience should be a help to the wildlife not a hindrance.

Pick your time of travel carefully. For example, if you want to get up close with African wildlife, you don’t want to book a volunteer trip in the green season – not only will your job be harder because of the thick turf, but you’ll have less chance of seeing the wildlife. Migration patterns should also be considered before booking!

Go for the right reasons. No-one knows what mother nature has in store, or what wild animals might do next, so don’t sign up for a wildlife or conservation programme just to see wild animals. Make sure you are going because of the good you will be doing. Any close encounters you experience are a bonus!

Observing animal tracks with James, Head Guide, from Il Ngwesi © culsansgaptravel.co.uk

Get Vaccinated. It is absolutely vital to get the correct vaccinations for your location. Whether you need the likes of rabies shots or malaria pills depends very much on where you are going – so get the advice of your GP or tour operator.

Get Insured. Animals can be very dangerous and unpredictable, and you are immediately putting yourself in a high-risk environment when signing up to volunteering with wildlife – that is why adequate travel insurance is essential!

Beware of close encounter opportunities. Volunteering in a contained environment with wild animals, or volunteering with companies offering physical human contact should raise alarm bells. As an untrained volunteer you only pose a risk in such a situation.

Il Ngwesi anti-poaching ranger © culsansgaptravel.co.uk

Ask about safety. At the very least find out what safety procedures are in place, and what the emergency evacuation procedures are. You should also be able to find out what to do in the event of a wide range of risk situations. If the information isn’t available, doubt the integrity of the operator.

Finally – Be sure to ask your operator the following questions:

  • How much is the total cost of the volunteer programme?
  • What does this cost include?
  • What costs must I cover myself?
  • Where do the profits go?
  • How involved will I be able to get?
  • What will my daily role be?
  • How is my presence there actually helping?
  • How many other volunteers are on the same project?
  • Who is the project managed by and what is their past experience and qualifications?

Students observing a white rhino on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy © culsansgaptravel.co.uk

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Talk to one of our sales team on 01892 833338 or get a quick travel insurance quote online!

PKs List Review – Travel App of the Month August 2018

Welcome to an app that gives you entry to the most luxurious hotel experiences around the world! Not only does this app open doors to magnificent places, it also guarantees a VIP experience as you will be part of one of the most exclusive travel clubs in town.

What is PKs List?

It is an exclusive members travel club, and the result of PKs – aka Phillipe – time spent compiling an extensive ‘little black book’ of the world’s leading hoteliers, granting him access to the world’s finest hotels. The connection means that each hotel in PKs List recognises a PKs List booking, guaranteeing the guests will receive additional perks on arrival, such as upgrades, inclusive breakfasts, spa credits, gift vouchers, late check out and discounted services.

Members of PKs List – of which there are three tiers, the Elite Membership (by invitation only), the Travel Club, and the new App – can trust that the suggestions being offered have undergone a vigorous vetting process and that Philippe has personally visited and arranged for the very best perks for his members.

What does the PKs List app do?

The app was designed for time-poor members wanting inspiration and insight into the world’s finest hotels, offering hotel contact details, a ‘quick book’ option and perks such as upgrades, spa credits, gift vouchers and late check out at select hotels.

  • Uses Subjective Travel Intelligence™- a dynamic database of over 1,000 individually selected, reviewed and visited hotels around the globe.
  • Categorises hotels into types for easy selection.
  • PKs List Travel Club Membership grants users perks such as upgrades, breakfast and VIP amenities (participating hotels only).
  • Guaranteed VIP status and privileges at virtually every hotel brand across the world.
  • Bespoke trip itineraries, access to sought-after events and experiences.

Who is the PKs List app for?

PKs list is for discerning travellers that expect the best, but don’t have the time to vet every booking option themselves. The trust in Philippe’s choices and connections means that VIP status and privilege is guaranteed and you will not be disappointed by your booking! To become a member of this exclusive travel club via the app costs $99 a year, however there is a 7 day free trial to give people an idea of what the app can give access to!

Remember that the app is the lowest tier of membership – to really get the best perks, you will have to pay $500 a year membership and be personally referred by someone who is already a member of PKs List.

What do the PKs List app reviews say?

The app is super new and so far only available in iTunes, so no app reviews available. There aren’t any reviews or ratings on the website either, but that is probably because the target audience is a discerning crowd and probably give feedback to Philippe himself about their undoubtedly magnificent experience.

Download PKs List on iTunes.

Visit the website. 

 

Lagom – The Swedish Goldilocks Principle for Globetrotters

Lagom – a Swedish word that has no direct translation. It more or less means not too much, not too little, just the right amount. It can be applied to every aspect of life – whether that be the amount of cream you have in your coffee, the way you dress, how you decorate your home, or how you travel! Here are some top travel tips that we think hit the lagom vibe.

Image by skeeze CC0

Take an extended break

In Sweden it is common for people to take three to four weeks off in the summer to enjoy the weather. While this isn’t an option for everyone, the key is to make sure that you take more days than you think you need to enjoy your holiday. So, if it is a weekend city break you are going on, add an extra day either side to prepare, and to come home and relax after travelling. Going on a longer holiday? Same principle – take more days than you think you need, you’ll be glad of it when your itinerary is approaching capacity.

Plan a sensible itinerary

Cramming in sightseeing and activities to a pre-booked holiday is not adhering to lagom. You don’t want to do so little you feel like you are wasting time, but you also don’t want to be rushed off your feet trying to fit everything in – you want balance. Before you book your holiday decide what it is you want to do, how much time you ideally need to enjoy each activity to its fullest, and also how long it will take to get from A to B to C… Then add some time for doing NOTHING – only with space in your schedule can you embrace something spontaneous, or take some time to rest between adventures! Once you know that, create your itinerary and book your holiday. If it feels like there is too much for the holiday time you can take, remember you can always come back another time!

Get close to nature

Lagom is about keeping things simple, something a spell in the great outdoors can provide in abundance, but remember we aren’t aiming for extremes! Enjoy outdoor activities that are within your skill-range, environments that aren’t going to cause discomfort, and above all, remember to dress for the weather. There is a saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

Eat fresh, eat local

You can also use the concept of lagom to enjoy the local cuisine – in moderation of course. So, bingeing on steak and red wine in Argentina is not lagom, but indulging in a fine cut with a reserve occasionally during your stay is. Choose items off the menu that do not have a negative impact on the wellbeing of local wildlife or ecosystems – something to be mindful of in places where the popularity of seafood is leading to an overfishing problem. Finally, only eat what you need, no need to go large, order big, or have three courses when two will do.

Choose ethical travel

Low impact and ethical travel is on the rise. This encompasses a wide range of tourist activities that take the excessive side of tourism into account, things like damage to flora and fauna, overcrowding, and negative impacts on the economy and the life of locals. Wherever you travel make sure that you are adding to the local economy during your stay, that you leave as little trace as possible while you are there, and that you are mindful of the impact of your presence in everything you do.

Popular Destinations Capping Tourist Numbers

Cheap travel is more accessible than ever, couple that with Airbnb maximising the number of places to stay and it is a recipe for disaster as far as locals are concerned. While tourism can help boost the economy it appears that there is a tipping point when the locals themselves can no longer afford to stay, or enjoy the life they once led. Here are a few popular destinations that are capping their tourist numbers, and why they have chosen to.

Barcelona

Image by 12019 CC0

Last year 32 million people visited Barcelona, vastly outnumbering – and irritating – the 1.5 million permanent residents. It isn’t just the drunk and disorderly antics that are causing concern, it is also the rise in apartment bookings, leading to rent hikes which many Barcelonans cannot afford. The fury of the locals has resulted in anti-tourist graffiti, and residents storming the beach area and holding protests along Las Ramblas.

To combat the rise in visitors, and to keep the residents happy, the authorities have introduced a special plan for tourist accommodation. This will limit the number of new hotels spaces (currently at 75,000 beds) that can be introduced, and limit the number of tourist apartments. The latter may be more difficult however as authorities estimate that half of the 100,000 beds available to rent in apartments are actually illegal ones.

Dubrovnik

Image by MemoryCatcher CC0

This beautiful city’s World Heritage Site status is at risk due to extreme overcrowding by tourists. UNESCO requested numbers within the medieval city’s walls to be capped at 8,000 visitors a day after peak times saw in excess of 10,000 people cramming the ramparts. As with Barcelona, such crowding has led to disgruntled locals who have chosen to protest.

Plans put in place include limiting the number of cruise ships that can arrive at the port at any one time, and lowering the limit of visitors to the medieval city even further than UNESCO recommendations to just 4,000 per day. While the Mayor acknowledges that this could see a reduction in revenue to the tune of a million Euros over two years, it should improve the happiness of Dubrovnik’s residents, and also enable the city to retain its World Heritage status.

Mont Blanc

Image by Simon CC0

Overcrowding is becoming such a danger that France recently issued a cap on the number of visitors to the Royal Route of Mont Blanc. While this cap is only temporary, it is something that may come in to play regularly in the future.

The reason for the restriction on numbers is safety and pollution. There are more people than ever attempting the summit, many of whom do not have enough experience, which has led to deaths. There is also the issue of pollution from overcrowding – especially as the shelter at the summit, the Gouter, is frequently exceeding its 120-person capacity. The recent cap was in place for 8 days, and only permitted experienced climbers who already had permits to access the summit.

Santorini

Image by SofiaPapageorge CC0

Two million visitors a year isn’t helping preserve the charm of this idyllic destination, especially when close to half the number of visitors are cruise liner day-trippers adding very little to the local economy.

To combat the impact the Mayor has imposed a limit of just 8,000 tourists per day, but some fear that the overcrowding is also due to a rise in the number of residents. As more tourists arrive on this Greek Island, more people come here to live and work – but the infrastructure isn’t there to support the fastest-rising population in Greece, creating much discontent.

Maya Bay

Image by suyashdixit CC0

For four months this year the idyllic Maya Bay in Thailand is closed to ALL tourists. This has been enforced to allow the surrounding reefs to recover from the impact of 5,000 people a day seeking paradise.

The huge numbers of visitors are down to the success of The Beach, a film about an untouched backpacker paradise. Back then, this bay really was an unspoilt gem, but today it is a far cry from the image in the film. Temporary beach and bay closures has worked well in other Thailand beauty spots, but ideally a permanent closure is what is needed in extreme cases – which has an obvious impact on the much-needed tourist revenue for locals. One compromise could be to have a daily cap on visitors once Maya Bay opens again in September, or at least closing the bay to sightseeing boats, one of the biggest polluters in this part of the world.