Category Archives: Travel Advice

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Borrow A Boat Review – Travel App of the Month July 2018

Fancy chartering a boat at the drop of a hat on your next holiday? Well, a new app, from the only peer-to-peer charter company in the UK is offering flexible bookings on over 17,000 boats in over 60 countries across the world.

What is Borrow A Boat?

It is an online booking portal where people who own (often underused) boats hire them out to people looking for adventure experiences. The aim of the founder was to open up boating adventures to more people, and at the same time offer those who own a boat a way of getting some of the costs of ownership back.

Boats can come with skippers on board if required, which means that you also don’t need to have sailing experience to enjoy a random adventure!

What does the Borrow A Boat app do?

It makes it super simple to charter a boat wherever you are. The app puts the following at your fingertips:

  • Find boats near you
  • Search and filter based on your requirements
  • Contact boat owners
  • Book online
  • Review past trips
  • Create wishlists of your favourite boats
  • Share boats with friends

There is a choice of Bareboat and skippered charterson sailing boats, gulets, motor boats, catamarans, canal boats, river boats, narrow boats, picnic boats, super yachts, sailing yachts, speed boats, and trimarans.

What makes the Borrow A Boat app so good for travelling?

It puts a luxury lifestyle experience in your hands at your destination. It can also be the reason for choosing to visit a special part of the world. Ultimately, it is a cost-effective way to live the high life whether you have experience sailing or not.

“This app will revolutionize the charter market by opening up access to boats, which we see parked in marinas the world over, almost always under-used. People will be able to take this app on holiday with them or use from the comfort of their own home, and be able to access boats from the palm of their hand in an instant, without the burden of ownership!” CEO Matt Ovenden

What do the Borrow A Boat app reviews say?

This app is brand spanking new, so no reviews yet. However, the company has been in action since 2016 and has an excellent Trustpilot score with the following comments as standard:

  • “Amazing Company & Service”
  • “Amazing, easy & speedy service – especially for a first time boater!!!”
  • “Brilliantly organised & would highly recommend.”
  • “Cheaper than hiring directly with the charter owner.”

Only available on iTunes

Top Tips For First Time Travelling Abroad With Toddlers

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Tantrums, a short attention span, and the tendency to spontaneously require something completely unexpected (or unattainable) can scupper the best-laid travel plans. Here are some top tips from parents who travel to ensure your toddler is on best form on holiday.

Tell them what is going to happen –From an early start and travelling in their PJs, to what it feels like to board a plane, boat or train, tell your toddler what to expect on the journey. Who they may encounter, the crazy spaces they might experience, and what the travel staff expects of them should all be revealed.

Let them pack their bag (with some assistance) – Maybe you don’t think FooFooFluffBunny is an essential travel item, but your child might, and it could be the one thing that they demand if they get a little travel stress. Let them pick their own toys to take, and compromise with some parental recommendations. Taking them shopping for their own travel essentials will make sure it’s not a fight to get a flannel and toothbrush in, but it will also get them excited about the adventure ahead.

Pack the right snacks –Hunger is the enemy, but don’t let sweet treats be the way to distract. You’ll never get a toddler to sit still after a box of raisins let alone a pack of sweets. Keep the snacks simple, nutritious and on-hand.

©43kcreative.com

Pack the right entertainment –A tablet is a compact and versatile answer to keeping a child occupied on a long journey. While colouring pens and paper and travel games might seem like the superior choice parentally, rummaging for dropped bits under seats is no fun. Just remember to load plenty of games, drawing apps and books on to the tablet before you set off.

Break everything up into bite-size chunks– The journey AND the holiday! Some parents recommend 15-minute activity slots on a long journey, and while on holiday break the days up so that there is something for everyone. A sightseeing tour for the grown ups in the morning for example, followed by an afternoon of adventure play or a pool. Throw in the promise of a holiday ice cream for being patient, and you should have a happy family all round.

Play dress-up for sightseeing– Longer excursions for less toddler-exciting attractions will require a little creativity. Take along their favourite dress-up set, or get something that ties in with the theme of where you plan to visit. Dressing up will make the whole experience more immersive for them, and hopefully keep them occupied so you can enjoy it too.

Devise a treasure hunt –And make it last for the whole holiday! A simple list of things to spot will be a great distraction when toddlers are getting a little testing. Keep it simple with flowers, cats, dogs, cars, trams, tuk-tuks – whatever is common in your destination – then throw in a few curve balls like a heart shaped cloud, banana shaped hat… you get the idea. Make sure there is a reward for hitting certain targets – more holiday ice cream for example, and encourage a bit of teamwork if travelling with more than one child.

A Gluten-Free Holiday Guide – Advice For Coeliacs

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If you have to watch what you eat for health reasons, going on holiday can throw up a whole host of food-related challenges. This month we are focussed on sharing helpful information for those who can’t eat gluten.

Get location specific advice

Coeliac.org.uk has some excellent country-specific information sheets to help gluten-free holidaymakers ensure their food is safe to eat. This includes information about the cuisine, local coeliac groups and useful phrases you can show to those in charge of your food. For example, when visiting Vietnam:

I suffer from an illness called coeliac disease and have to follow a strict gluten-free diet, or I may become very unwell.
Tôi bị một căn bệnh gọi là bệnh celiac và phải
tuân theo một chế độ ăn không có gluten chặt chẽ, nếu không tôi có thể trở nên rất khó chịu trong người.

Make your dietary needs clear when booking EVERYTHING

Whether it is your flight, a hotel, or a restaurant, state your needs clearly when booking. This not only gives your host more time to ensure your needs can be met, but will also mean you are more likely to get a decent gluten-free meal.

Double check your dietary needs have been understood when you arrive

Remind the person that you booked with that you are the gluten-free individual, or ask to speak to the chef to make sure that your needs have been taken seriously and that you will be served food that won’t make you ill.

Pack essential foods

Things don’t always go to plan, so pack bare essentials you know you can eat. Take your own gluten-free breads and pastas for example, not just snacks. There aren’t many establishments that will deny someone breaking out their own gluten-free bread roll if they aren’t able to cater for their needs.

But do check that you can take them into the country!

Some countries have strict policies on what foods can be brought in. Check with your airline, and also ask your GP to write a cover letter explaining the importance of these foods for your health.

Go to Italy – it is a top gluten-free destination!

Ok, so this is the home of pasta and pizza dishes, so how can it be so good for those who need to avoid gluten? Well, there was a national coeliac screening programme that raised awareness of coeliac disease, and in turn educated a whole country on the importance of gluten-free menus and preparation areas. The Italian Coeliac Society, understanding that gluten based foods are a staple in every Italian household then set about publishing a list of eateries and B&Bs in the country that are certified gluten-free.

Talk to your travel insurance provider

As a coeliac, you must make sure that you tell your travel insurance provider about your condition. As a general rule a customer with a medical condition (or several) can declare their recent medical history and current situation and if the condition is stable and well controlled, not awaiting investigation or treatment, for example surgery, then the condition can be covered.

At Worldwideinsure.com for a condition such as Coeliac, we are able to cover customers with a stable condition, including those with Stomas, provided they haven’t had an unplanned hospital admission in the last 6 months.

For more information please see Travel Insurance Medical Conditions.

Choose self-catering

If you can’t trust what other people might serve you, then you can ease the stress and opt to cook up your own gluten-free cuisine on a self-catering basis. While you’ll have to be patient and shop carefully for ingredients, it is a great way to learn a few new words. Life is made a bit easier if you are holidaying in the EU, as the packaging has to have the same labelling information that we are used to in the UK, where allergens are written in bold.

Opt for a resort

Resorts are more likely to cater for a variety of dietary needs, and are more likely to be familiar with the seriousness of cross-contamination. Another bonus is that they are also more likely to have nutrition sheets where every dish has its ingredients explained in minute detail.

 

*** Please Note ***

Policies, terms and conditions may change – all information published in this blog pertaining to travel insurance from worldwideinsure.com is only deemed valid at the time of publication.

UV Lens App Review – Travel App of the Month June 2018

After sharing our top tips on safe tanning, we thought this simple to use, and free UV awareness app should get some exposure!

What is the UV Lens App?

It is a simple app that can predict the UV levels anywhere in the world, and also give personalised advice about staying safe in the sun based on a skin type quiz.

What can the UV Lens App do?

As well as letting you know how strong those rays might be at any given time, the app can be personalised to your skin type, allowing users to enable reminders to apply more sun cream based on the strength of the sun and their skin. It also gives a nudge as to whether sunglasses, hats, full clothing, or parasols need to be used. It has an extended forecast so it can be used to prepare for the day ahead too.

 

Why is the UV Lens App good for holidays?

This is a useful app to have for the British summer when it’s easy to underestimate the strength of the sun, but on a hot holiday it comes into its own. This app has the power to prevent sunburn disasters that are so common in the first few days of a sunny break abroad. It’s a great way of reminding and educating holidaymakers about how strong the sun can be, and a gentle nudge to exercise a bit of self-care with the right SPF.

What do the UV Lens App reviews say?

Users like its simplicity, and its levels of personalisation. On the downside, users would like to see more accurate real-time UV updates, and a longer forecast spell.

Get UV Lens on Google PLay

Get UV Lens on iTunes

Visit uvlens.com

The Worst Holiday Destinations In The World To Visit in June

Ever planned a badly-timed break? Spent your Round The World Trip visiting every destination in the wrong season? If you are thinking of a last-minute getaway this month, you’ll do well to avoid the following locations!

Dubai, UAE

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In June in Dubai it is really really hot, and really really humid, which makes really really hot feel like a bath in a volcano. Basically the seasonal high of 40°C combined with 58% humidity makes it feel like a searing 59°C! That is hotter than the hottest place on earth! If you must go, stick to indoor activities – thankfully quite easy due to the many luxury shopping malls and the world’s largest aquarium.

The Everglades, Florida

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June marks the start of several seasons in the Everglades – The Wet Season, The Hurricane Season and the Mosquito Season, not the most sought after combination on anyone’s travel itinerary! Plus the thunderstorms at this time of year can last for hours, so you’ll find yourself hiding for cover most of the time. FYI, the best months to visit are December to April.

Havana, Cuba

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Hot, wet and very very windy. June in Havana marks the start of the Hurricane Season, and the stats say it will rain on average for half the month. We all know that wind and rain are the number one enemies of enjoying a Cuban cigar, so save your trip for another time, ideally between December and May.

Death Valley National Park, California

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This destination holds the impressive Highest Recorded Temperature In The World title, and guess when it was recorded? Yup, June – a whopping 56.7°C! The previous record of 58°Crecorded atEl Azizia, Libya, and held for around 90 years, was deemed to be inaccurate by as much as 7°C because the measurement was taken over tarmac, not a true representation of the desert terrain.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! A well-chosen policy can help you out when Mother Nature decides to scupper your travel plans. Bad weather can mean cancelled flights, long delays, and in extreme cases the need for replaced belongings and even repatriation! Speak to our travel insurance advisors to make sure you’ve got the cover you reallyneed for your next break!

 

Scorchio! 10 Tanning Tips Sun Seekers Tend To Ignore

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With the holiday season well underway and temperatures soaring in the UK, we thought this list of tips that sun-worshipers tend to ignore would be rather timely.

  1. Wear sunscreen to suit your skin type – never choose anything less than SPF 15.
  2. Make sure your sunscreen provides UVA protection as well as UVB protection.
  3. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before exposure to the sun.
  4. Reapply sunscreen regularly, and always after swimming.
  5. Wear clothes that protect from the sun.

Crazy Fact: A regular t-shirt actually offers less protection than an SPF 15 sunscreen. Choose clothes that are tightly woven, or have been given a dedicated SPF rating – especially for children!

  1. Stay out of the direct sun between 11am and 3pm when it’s at its strongest, or at least limit your time exposed during these times.
  2. Wear sunglasses to prevent cataracts caused by sun damage – make sure they have a protection rating.
  3. Buy a new sunscreen at the start of each season, its shelf life is reduced when exposed to hot temperatures.
  4. Apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day or when sitting in the shade. The rays are still strong and can damage your skin.
  5. Check the SPF of your cosmetics, if it is less than 15, or has no SPF at all, use with sunscreen.

Top Tip: Get on the fake tan, but don’t be fooled into thinking your skin is protected because it is darker! How long you can stay in the sun isn’t actually determined by how dark your skin is; it is down to your skin type. So, a person who is classed as Type I (very fair) who has darker skin is just as vulnerable to the effects of UV damage as they are without a tan.

 

Simple Habit App Review – Travel App Of The Month May 2018

Following on from our blog that shares the secrets to achieving a zen-like experience when travelling, we thought we’d check out an app that might just help. Welcome to Simple Habit!

What is the Simple Habit App?

It is a sweet as a nut app that offers your mind a “daily vacation” from the stresses and strains of life based on the things that actually cause you stress. Simply pick from a list of topics when you fire up the app for the first time, and you’ll be offered a selection of 5 minute meditations that will help you sleep better, eat more mindfully, be less anxious… or whatever it is that you need a little assistance with.

What Does The Simple Habit App Do?

It is like an audio library of tailored meditations from experts in the field all around the world with far-ranging approaches. You could just as easily end up listening to a former monk as you could a mindful expert at Google. The app also sends a timely reminder, at a time of your choosing so you don’t miss your daily dose of tranquillity!

Why Is the Simple Habit App Good for Travellers?

With over 1000 meditations stored, there were bound to be a few that were focussed on travel. We found: just landed, waiting at the airport, fear of flying, and commuting by bus. However, we do think that the standard meditations focussing on generic topics like relaxation and sleep will be of great benefit to a weary traveller.

What Do The Simple Habit App Reviews Say?

The app gets lots of praise on both iTunes and Google Play, but only a certain scope of meditations are available to listen to without subscribing, and it doesn’t come cheap. New users can explore 50 free sessions before having to subscribe.

 

 

Get Simple Habit on iTunes

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Vegan Travel Tips – Easy Ways To Keep To Your Plant Based Diet Abroad

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In the UK we are pretty blessed when it comes to eateries understanding “specialist dietary requirements”, but in some places around the world it is harder to get the importance across. Here are some top tips for ensuring your plant-based diet isn’t compromised!

Learn the lingo for the things you want to avoid. It is easier to get a straight answer about the vegan-ness of the food if you ask directly whether it has butter, milk, honey, or egg etc. in.

Say that you have an allergy to the ingredients you want to avoid. In some places dietary choices aren’t given as much respect as they are in the UK, saying you have an allergy, to dairy for example, should ensure your meal is free from animal products.

Tell your host about your vegan diet. You are more likely to bag yourself easy vegan alternatives if you give the hotel or guesthouse a heads up about what you can and can’t eat in advance. Leave it until check in and you might have to go hungry.

Stock up on your own vegan essentials such as milk and spread. If your hotel or guesthouse is somewhat lacking on vegan alternatives, ask them if they can keep your supplies to hand in the kitchen. This way you can be sure you’ll be able to start your day with a vegan-friendly breakfast.

Go online to find vegan restaurants at your destination. Websites such as happycow.net have user-rated recommendations for vegan-friendly eateries all over the world.

Carry vegan condiments and snacks at all times. Whether it is a bottle of soy sauce to stop the street vendor plastering fish sauce on your noodles, or a vegan power bar for when you just can’t find anywhere to accommodate your diet, having your own supplies will prevent you getting “hangry” on holiday!

Choose vegan-friendly accommodation. There are lots of retreats, hostels, and hotels that cater for vegans, or you could choose to couchsurf with a vegan host. As well as ensuring your diet stays clean, you’ll also know that the complimentary toiletries are vegan-friendly and you won’t be confronted with animal-hide furnishings or décor.