Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Marrakech, Istanbul, Berlin, Rome … these are all exotic, inviting, and sophisticated cities that beg for a visit or two. You might think they’re too far away, or expensive, and so should be put on the ‘one day’ list – you’re wrong!
Paris is around an hour and a half’s flight away, which is probably less than the time it takes to drive to the coast from your home! Istanbul, just four hours away, which is less than a drive to London for me. The sophisticated glamour of Barcelona? Just two hours away.
See, for the time it takes you to drive somewhere you’ve probably seen before, you can fly in less time to a dramatic and new destination, with new experiences to be had, and sights to take in. It really is a no-brainer.
The short distance also makes these cities a fantastic choice for a weekend away from it all, so you can leave your desk on a Thursday evening, jet off for a fantastic weekend away, and return Monday morning, with a whole head full of new memories.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Thanks to low cost airlines jetting off to these closer than you think cities, a short break like this doesn’t break the bank either, and I found a fantastic deal on my Istanbul flight with Easy Jet from Birmingham, and when combined with Birmingham Airport parking, it was a real budget-busting weekend away, and one I still cherish now.
You don’t even have to go out on serious sight-seeing trips either, and you don’t have to shop ‘til you drop if you don’t want to, you can simply find a top-class hotel and enjoy the facilities if the mood takes you, maybe a sauna or massage to relax you and take away all your cares.
Of course, if you’re jetting off somewhere like this though, it would be crime not to see some of it, so why not venture out late afternoon for a wander, or in the evening for a meal and a few drinks.
The idea is to get away from it all for a few days, and a short-haul city break ticks all the boxes. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, as you can tailor it to your preferences, and when you add in your all-important extras, such as airport parking, cutting out the need for expensive public transport, not to mention stress, then you’ll find you save even more.
Wherever you’re flying from, you’ll generally find a parking service, such as my regular service of Luton Airport parking, where I’ve always found fantastic value for money, and Heathrow Airport parking for those cheap flights from London too. See, more savings to be had!
When the nights get darker, a few days in an exciting new location can sometimes be all the tonic you need, and with so many exciting cities so close by, we truly are spoilt for choice.
The beautiful city of Glasgow, with its astounding architecture and cosmopolitan air, has such a vast array of things to do that you’ll be spoilt for choice should you wander through its crowded streets.
And, such is the welcoming atmosphere of the city that you’ll feel almost immediately at home once you’ve stepped off the train platform from Queen Street or Glasgow Central Station.
It’s the ideal place to settle down, with properties to purchase in the area – including nearby flats to rent in Paisley if you don’t fancy too much of the big city lifestyle – available at cheap prices for the person looking to bask in the delights of the west coast of Scotland.
So, whether you’re in Glasgow for a day or a lifetime, here are some fantastic places that you can visit.
One of the most satisfying locations to wander around in Glasgow, Kelvingrove Museum is filled with a fascinating wealth of cultural artefacts concerning Scotland and beyond.
Just a short trawl through this beautiful building will uncover treats such as Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross – which features a surreal perspective that has been known to give some viewers a sense of vertigo – as well as many other works that recount some of the most important pieces of Scottish history.
For those on the lookout for more contemporary art, why not try out the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art), in order to find some left-of-centre works that will please the eye and the mind?
If you’re on the hunt for a hip place to hang out in Glasgow, then the wonderful Ashton Lane is your best bet. Situated just off Byres Road, Ashton Lane is a small back road that’s brimming with romantic restaurants, cool pubs and even a highly reputable cinema.
Despite its meagre size, Ashton Lane is a place you can lounge around in for hours, without even noticing the time that’s passed you by.
Just as you exit Glasgow Queen Street Station, you’ll be welcomed by the sight of George Square, one of the greatest places in Glasgow to simply sit down and watch the world go by. Named after King George III, the square boasts an impressive array of statues commemorating many of the people integral to the path of Scottish history.
And, if you’re looking for a pint afterwards, there are a number of bars surrounding the square, with Georgics underneath the Millennium Hotel offering particularly good service and a fine drinks selection.
Do you roll? Do you vacuum pack? Do you layer? Do you cram in and hope for the best? These are all methods of packing clothes into a suitcase, in case you were wondering.
Packing is hell, there is no way to enjoy it, you simply have to endure it and hope it doesn’t tip the scales too much. I certainly wouldn’t risk the first weigh-in being at check-in, so I always weigh my case after I’ve packed it.
In fact, I’m so ridiculously organised, I have a ‘mock pack’ a week before I actually pack, as it cuts down on stress for me, although I can appreciate that probably does sound a little desperate!
I’ve never found much advantage to travel scales; the first time I used them, they lied, and the second time, they broke. No success. These days I weigh myself on the scales, note it down, then weigh myself holding my suitcase, and take away the two.
Then just to be sure, I prop my case on the scales as best I can and see if it is around the same number. It is always is, and I’ve never gone over.
Sometimes being ridiculously organised has its perks, i.e. no excess baggage charges!
My friend swears by rolling her clothes, as she believes she gets more in that way, but I’ve never been able to master that particular technique. I bought a lightweight suitcase instead, and that has saved me a lot in terms of weight allowance.
Another good idea is a large holdall on wheels, because even though it doesn’t protect your clothes from creasing quite so much, you can fit in so much more than in a suitcase. The key here is to pack anything that might burst in several carrier bags, e.g. make up etc, so if it does leak, it won’t be disastrous to your clothes.
I always try and make the most of my hand luggage too, usually putting my straighteners in there, or a pair of shoes that are quite heavy, as I don’t generally put much in the way of day to day things in my hand luggage anyway, so it all adds up to more room for clothes and essentials.
Packing is a nightmare, there’s no way around that, but once it’s done, you are free to enjoy your holiday.
So, where are you heading next summer? I’ve already booked two holidays, and found some fantastic deals on extras, including holiday insurance from Holiday Extras. I like having something to look forward to, and my holiday countdowns are well underway! I may even be tempted to book a couple more, with some great deals on offer at the moment, I do love a winter holiday!
You can generally save more on flights from the capital, if you’ve got that sorted, head to Gatwick departures, where you’ll find a massive range of information about your flight and holiday, with a handy checklist, the perfect way to start a stress-free holiday.
Hopefully these packing tips will help make your experience a little easier but please, if anyone ever truly masters the rolling technique, let me know!
It is nearly impossible to cease speaking in clichés when describing the beauty of St Lucia. The island is an idyllic destination with breathtaking scenery and natural waterfalls.
The secretive nature of its rugged coastline is flecked with palm trees, floury soft sand and warm waters. A picture perfect holiday in a picture perfect surrounding, St Lucia is your destination to cast all cynicism aside and melt into the simple island lifestyle.
Voted as the World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination, St Lucia is truly your gateway for a romantic stay. Go on a dreamy stroll and capture the island’s breathtaking beauty in your mind’s eye, bask under a champagne sunset, enjoy an intimate dinner at a secluded beach with only the waves for company, indulge in a spa treatment for two or sip pre-dinner drinks gazing at the inky star spangled sky.
While seclusion is all well and good, getting bored is something that other not-so-romantic potential island visitors worry about. But with an array of activities on offer there is more than enough to keep even the most energetic people occupied.
St Lucia’s lagoons boast vibrant coral reefs that make for safe snorkelling and superb diving. You have a high chance of swimming with shoals of exotic fish that frequent the island’s waters and to study about the surfeit of marine life in the mysterious Atlantic sea.
If you are one of those who prefer a loftier sport, then jet-skiing, sunfish sailing, kite-boarding, parasailing and windsurfing are simply a few of the countless aerobic sports on the menu.
St Lucia thrives with fun for your family too. There are virgin rainforests to explore and mineral baths to dunk into. A gentle walk through the twelve acre Mamiku Gardens displays tropical flora and fauna.
The Sulphur Springs and the majestic Piton Mountains are also a must see for all those who visit St Lucia. Otherwise, the entire family can spend a day at the beach on glass bottom boat excursions, feed fish and enjoy the sea breeze whipped with tangy aromas of salt and seaweed!
Traditional cuisine twirls around Indian, English and British influences, and some of the best eateries are known for their unpretentious nature and romantic locations. The Spice Of India is a remarkable restaurant bringing to you the Indian charm.
You can watch the cooks in action in the open display kitchen or take lessons from the Chef himself. The dishes are tailor made to suit your palate, so you have a say on the degree of spice in your dishes.
But with so many islands to decide between –ranging from glitzy nightlife rich to the quiet-escape from it all, it is very important to choose your resort wisely. Head to St Lucia with Travel Bag, where your holiday needs are taken care of in the best possible manner at the best possible price. Choose from three star, four star and five star holiday packages and enjoy the St Lucia the way you want to.
The 4 miles odd stretch of land is a place where the vibrancy of glamor, entertainment, thrills, spills and excitement are at a different pitch. The architecture of the buildings and the casinos and the sky-line of the city are just amazing to watch.
It is a princely place and obeying the rules of, ‘when you are in Rome …’ you can start behaving like a prince, no offences will be taken.
Have a Princely Stay
Have the taste of royalty by staying at the one of the luxurious casino hotels, like Circus Circus Las Vegas. You get a royal treatment and the taste of impeccable hospitability. The rooms are one-of-their kind, well furnished, and with beautiful décors.
There is lively activity all around with fun and entertainment taking the center-stage. The restaurants have their own flavor of royalty with accolades and specialties of their own; their cuisines pack a powerful punch on your taste buds.
You can take a pick from pastas, seafood, steaks, Mexican food and an array of other international cuisines. Then, there are elegant bars which do not pinch your pockets. And not to forget the spa and health centers which are all there to recharge your energies. Putting it straight, your princely stay is guaranteed.
The Majestic Adventuredome
Take a walk around this treasure house of fun-rides, built at a cost of whooping $90 million. This amusement park is enclosed by glass panes and within the dome is the world of thrills and shrills.
The rides will sweep you off your feet and the world around ceases to exist. There are rides for all ages. Then there are clown shows, video games and many other amusing activities to keep you grinning with joy.
You can take your thrills to new heights by showing your daredevil side and going for sky-jumping. Falling freely from the sky with air gushing past you, as you plunge towards the earth, is an experience of a life time.
You reach the dizzy heights of the Stratosphere tower and you are attached to vertical zip line; from 855 feet you take a free-fall plunge and come rushing towards earth at 40 miles an hour; that is the time for you can check out the definition of adrenaline rush.
But before you take the leap, you are read out the guidelines and educated on the basics which are to be kept right. You wear on your jump suit and off you go. Though the jump may last few seconds, you will be on its high the whole day.
Thrills have different names and zip-lining is one of them; take one at Bootleg Canyon to prove it otherwise. For, coming down from the Red Mountain over the deserts at 50 mph is an ultimate thrill and a fantastic experience.
The thrills of Las Vegas and its glamorous lifestyle should be reasons enough for you to stop on your tracks, put on your thinking cap, carve out a plan, and come running to this wonderful place.
Add some spice to your life. If your share of thrills is overdue, without any procrastination get yourself to Mauritius, and check out your adrenaline levels. The lagoon islands of Mauritius are also ideal for exploring the deep blue seas, and marvel the scenic beauty of the place.
Say goodbye to dull life, ignite sparks in your family bonds, start by checking into one of the scenic hotels, such as Tropical Attitude, and let the show begin.
Hit the Sack in Style
To begin your thrilling adventure, you begin by walking in a luxurious hotel which provides a scenic view to the sea and impeccable hospitality. The rooms breathe elegance and beauty, and are the ultimate comfort zones.
You have facilities like the TV, in-room safe, air-conditioners, telephones and mini bars etc. The restaurants are the centers of exotic cuisines of both local and international flavors. Then, the hotels have water sports facilities and spa centers to tone up your bodies.
Parasailing is the thrill awaiting you at Mauritius that will take you on its wings and make you fly sky-high in the majestic blue skies, with distant milky-white clouds clustered together. You feel on top of the world and have a panoramic view of the beautiful landscape. Kids from 6 years onwards are welcome.
You are given tips on parasailing before being taken to the launch pod, where you are harnessed to the parasail, and you wait with anticipation, as the boat engine throttles and zooms forwards. You are gently taken off the pod and up, up in the sky. Your thrilling fantasy ride can lasts half an hour or so; but, those will be the moments that will resonate in your memories all your life.
Another horse oozing with wild spirits in the stables of Mauritian waters is water skiing. It is right on top of water sport’s chart, and visitors can’t resist putting their soles on water. Your safety precautions are given the front seat and you are made to wear a life jacket.
At the starting point you are provided with the skies and off you go towed behind the motor boat. You are given rides as per your expertise level, and you can choose the complexity of the course and the speed that you feel comfortable. You whole trip can last half an hour and the ideal place for it will be the northern side of the island, as the waves are gentle.
Explore the wilderness of Mauritius in unique style, say hello to Segway. It is an amazing experience you and your family are going to talk all your lives. Explore the 4,500 hectares of Yemen natural reserve park on the south west of Mauritius, on a Segway. You come up close with wild animals like zebras, African antelopes, macaque monkeys, wild boars, Java deer, hares, ostriches and many other fascinating creatures.
The thrillers are lined up for you to cater for your adrenaline rushes, hence rush for Mauritius!
This place is strict ‘no’ for business suited people. The more casually dressed you are, more you are welcome; even the restaurants don’t mind bare footed customers.
Though it takes no more than an hour to walk the entire circumference of this gem of an island, the memories of the scenic beautiful will last forever in your hearts!
Begin your journey with:
World Class Accommodation
Sleep in the lap of nature. To begin your happy vacations, start out by choosing place like Kuredu Island Resort, and have ball of a time. The place hosts a large diving center, a PGA certified golf course, beautiful villas, sun beds, cabanas and private swimming pools.
Adding to its beauty are the lush green gardens and terraces with sun beds. There are water sports facilities to check out your thrill levels. Your evenings will be taken care of by the beach parties, discos shows, and entertaining games. The restaurants serve international and local cuisines to match up with your taste buds.
Kuredu Islands offer you exciting excursions including fishing and visiting nearby islands, or go snorkeling and diving. The enthusiastic professionals are all more than eager to assist you in your adventures down below the waters.
You can ask for a crash course to know the tricks of the trade, choose a suitable route, and take a plunge. You get a fantastic view of the reef, and you swim along with variety of marine animals including Dolphins, Mantra Rays, turtles, the Napoleon fish, Lion fish and their likes. The snorkel equipment can be rented out from the centers.
Need for Thrills
You can check the thrills of water sports and the limits of your adrenaline level by waterskiing over the waters. With winds rushing by you, you are in a world of your own. Then, there are these Banana and Blast rides, which are ‘fast and furious’. You compete with your partner and check out who holds on longer as you are swept and whipped over the water.
But for a bit passive cruise you can opt for parasailing, which takes you around the beautiful island and you can explore the scenic beauty and the blue waters around. You can spend a perfect afternoon taking a leisurely ride on a canoe as well.
Power Pack Diets and Drinks
Just imagine sipping in a pool bar and gazing across the horizon with wide expanse of water and serenity all around. These are ingredients enough to give you a high and transcend you to a different world.
Then there are glass-top tables with oil lamps to give a romantic touch. Also, you have dance floor and games for your entertainment including the famous crab race. You can get the choicest of BBQs, lobster and other exotic seafood for dinner and an array of other dishes from across the globe.
If at the end of the day, you feel it was not enough, do it again the next day. Ultimately, you may want to do it every day of your life.
How the city got its name may be debatable, but they all concur that Montreal has niched a name for it and is one of the most sort after cities of the world.
This commercial hub of Canada has been bestowed with UNESCO City of Design honors. Millions of visitors each year have rendezvous with Montreal, and it is perfect place to live.
You can have a whale of a time going out for the sea adventures looking for whales, seals, belugas and other marine animals. Your day of excitement is guaranteed once you set out on the tour beginning from Riviere-du-Loup, which is five hour drive from Montreal.
The drive itself is a pleasant experience with scenic beauty scattered around. Then you get on a boat, and head for the seas. The boat is well equipped, and you have a narrated tour from an expert guide. You can have some bites and drinks while absorbing the spectacular view of the ocean.
The snowy slopes of Montreal are the thrillers for skiing and snowboarding, for locals and foreigners alike. The call for cross country ski is irresistible, for it is undiluted fun and adventure which reaches its peak between December and March.
From Montreal you can head straight for Mount Royal, with your family in a beeline and explore the wintry freshness that hangs in the air. The slopes in Montreal, all add up to whooping 200 km of trails, which gives ample opportunity for skier to feel the grounds slipping under the feet.
You have lift services to take you to the top. From there you have a fantastic panoramic view of the city nestled in scenic beauty below. Your warm bites are taken care of at Smith House & Museum, which has braved the snow for centuries now.
The city of Montreal simmers with nightlife parties and fun, and it’s shrills are heard all across Canada and the world over. The city is carelessly littered with clubs, bars and bites, to keep you occupied and busy with fun.
You can have a couple of drinks listening to tantalizing upbeat music and shake your legs and exhibit your raunchy and wild side. If it is jazz music which makes sense to you, be a guest at the jazz club, and listen to the great music, and feel the soothing effect in your body and soul.
The international festival of Jazz de Montreal, which is held annually, is accredited by Guinness World Records as the largest jazz festival across the world. The nights of Montreal are hot with activities and are a perfect timeout.
With this magnificent city having so much to offer, if you crave for perfect living place in Montreal, your aspiration can well be understood. There are uncountable places for your grabs; you can check out condos Montreal and say hello to Montreal lifestyle. Hence, knock on the wood and open new doors of luxury and comfort.
Caribbean island nation of Barbados has seen many civilizations from around the world come running to it, and they never left. And that ritual still carries on, as people from across the globe come running to it still.
Not to break the trend of history you may as well join the wagon and make a visit to Barbados. Better add your spouse and kids in it, and let them be part of it.
On your historic journey add comfort and luxury, as there are many elegant hotels in Barbados such as Tamarind Barbados, to give you taste of impeccable hospitability. Add scenic beauty to it, as you have a splendid view of the sea from your balconies and beautiful expanses of sandy beaches.
The hotels also have their own fresh-water swimming pools and other water sports facilities. The kids have their own arena for fun filled activities. The restaurants give you a Sunday blast on the beach with grill delicacies and steel pan music to zip you up.
Visit Harrison’s Cave to view the artistic work of nature in the caves. Though it remained unsung until 1970, but truth has the odd habit of prevailing and once it dawned on the authorities, the agencies went on war footing and primed up the site.
You can see the unique ways nature exhibits itself inside the cave with stalactites hanging from cave roof and stalagmites sprouting from ground, with streams and the scenic waterfalls brimming up the pools below; it is indeed an artistic workshop of nature. Visitors take a trip on trams to explore the lengths of the cave.
Accra Beach / Rockley Beach
Out of the many beaches, this is one of the most visited beaches of Barbados and happy ground for many locals and foreigners alike. You can have fun at the beach by going for body surfing, boogie boarding, and snorkeling.
You can lie idle on a rented chair under an umbrella and gaze at the fantastic view of the clear blue waters and blue skies. Then you have bars and food courts to keep you in good spirits as are other water sports activities.
For kids too young and for those others who do not want to put body to water, this Atlantis submarine is there to take you down and keep your rendezvous with the marine creatures intact. From the portholes you can see exotic marine creatures such as the sharks, sea turtles, moray ells, and stingrays and uncountable colorful fishes.
St. Lawrence Gap
Let the party continue during the night; you can all but gape at the splendor of stretch of over 1 km of land, nicked named, ‘The Gap’. It is your gateway for entertainment at Barbados, with an array of restaurants, shops and nightclubs. There are clubs who have open air lounges with beautiful surroundings and sizzling music to dance your night out.
So, give yourselves a break and transcend to a different world. Have fun filled holidays at Barbados with your families! Have a unique Christmas!
A Mecca for tourists, Dubai breathes with exquisite beauty, luxury and marvelous manifestations of architectural wonders. As one of the most visited places in the world, it is among the pack of front runners.
The graph of annual visitors is expected to shoot to 15 million by the year 2015. A small wonder, considering the array of attractions it holds, you can begin your journey to explore them, taking from the top.
Keeping the relationship of luxury with Dubai intact, there are a string of hotels like Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, to give you the taste of best Arabic hospitality. Your fantasy Arabian dreams begin right from the doors of your hotel.
You can have a fantastic view of the Arabian Gulf, and the guest rooms are the setting examples of modern day luxury. Your culinary craves are taken care of by an array of restaurants which serve nothing but mouthwatering delicacies.
Then, you have spa centers which belong to the different world, for their architecture and colorful design say it all. You can have various body refreshing treatments like the sauna, steam bath, snow room, medicated pools hydrotherapy etc. You can be assured that you will remain lively and kicking with energy during your stay.
Dubai has exotic marine creatures all lively and swimming in this gigantic aquarium which holds 10 million liters of water. The acrylic walkthrough, all through its 270 degree curve gives an incredible sight of colorful creatures inside. The glass tunnels with overhead sharks and rays swimming are an amazing experience.
But stop there, as there are dives held daily, with the supervision of the experts; hence if your adrenaline rush is pending, get loads of it swimming with the sharks. Then, there is an underground zoo which behold mixed bag of Piranhas, Otters, Catfish, Penguins and their likes. It is a fantastic place to come up-close and friendly with the marine life.
As promised, here is another wonder of Dubai, snow in the desert. Yes that’s right, and that too lots of it, all season throughout the year; this is what Dubai ski resort is all about. Yes, this is the ultimate destination of indoor skiing.
You can get the thrills of snowboarding, tobogganing, and of course skiing. You can try your long gone snowman making skills, check them out with your kids and play snowball with them. And make them wonder, if they ever knew you. This gigantic slope of snow provides thrill at different levels, hence your kids are not left out.
To get the chills out of your bones from the ski resort, you can head for the deserts and explore the amazing beauty. You can go on 4×4 car safari, or jump on hot air balloon and float over the majestic deserts. You will be fascinated with the beauty of a different kind.
Practically there is wonder written on every hook and corner of Dubai, putting them in words is futile, for thousand words cannot paint a picture.