Top Places to Celebrate Your Honeymoon and Anniversary

Oahu, Hawaii

Referred to as the “Heart of Hawaii”, it’s easy to see why this island is a popular getaway for so many. Not only does its picturesque beaches and legendary sunsets look like they came right off a canvas, it is also home to amazing nightlife, endless amounts of water activities such as surfing and snorkelling, and shopping outlets to suit any budget. To truly experience the glory of Oahu, hire a car for a day and explore the island at your leisure. Must see destinations include Turtle Beach, Diamond Head lookout and the legendary Giovanni’s shrimp truck. But what really makes this island special is its local people, whose friendly nature welcomes visitors from far and wide.

Phuket, Thailand

Whether it’s sipping a cocktail by the beach whilst admiring the crystal blue waters, enjoying a traditional Thai massage, or trekking through the forest on the back of an elephant, Phuket is a paradise fit for all. Aside from the fact that this tropical destination has warm weather all year round and a vibrant nightlife

Highlights of Singapore

If you have limited time you will want to squeeze in as much quintessential Singapore as possible! Happily, its geographically-compact size and excellent transport infrastructure mean that your main challenge will be one of stamina.

Gardens Galore

As you approach Singapore’s central business district, your eye will automatically be drawn to two structures that simply defy belief. Even in a city that seems to run on the notion that “if you can imagine it, we can build it”, these go above and beyond the imagination of mere mortals. Gardens by the Bay could be described prosaically as a nature park of three gardens that cover a total of 101 acres of reclaimed waterfront, but the reality is so much more. The largest of the three gardens, the Bay South Garden, comprises two vast temperature-controlled conservatories: the Flower Dome is a mild, dry zone featuring plants from semi-arid regions while the Cloud Forest replicates the cool, moist conditions and flora of a tropical mountain region. This garden is also home to the Supertree Grove, a collection of twelve futuristic treelike

Cherry blossom season in Japan

In springtime in Japan, a phenomenon sweeps the length of the archipelago and causes a nationwide flurry of picnics, outdoor parties and general celebration: it is the season of the cherry blossom. The season is brief, lasting up to a week before time and/or weather causes the fall of the blossoms. But to the Japanese, it is a metaphor for life itself: beautiful, fragile, unpredictable and essentially fleeting. The act of appreciating and celebrating the cherry blossoms is known as hanami: here is our beginner’s guide to the aptly-named business of “looking at flowers”.

Cherry trees, and the art of appreciating them when in bloom, is not restricted to any one part of the country, but there are a few locations that we would highly recommend for an authentic hanami experience. Tokyo may be a bustling metropolis but it also has plenty of open park spaces where cherry trees number in the hundreds or even thousands. Ueno Park is a great favourite, but you can expect to share your picnicking space with large crowds. The ancient former capital of Kyoto is another scenic location, but again, you

Planning a Vacation? Don’t Forget These Essential Items for Your Next Trip

With summer slowly fading away and the holidays right around the corner it can feel like you are stuck in a limbo between reminiscing about what a great fun filled summer you had and starting get excited about all the great things that come with the upcoming holiday season. Whenever I am in this state of mind I always get the itch to start planning for holidays so that I can create some solid plans to look forward to. With a restless mind my first thought is always to plan a vacation. Some people say that vacationing around the holidays is stressful, and that if you are really going to do it right then you have to start planning pretty far in advance. However, I am of the mindset that you are able to get better deals the closer it gets, so if you are just starting to plan now you may have an advantage when it comes to pricing. No matter where you are headed, there are a few essential items you should make sure you bring with you.

Good Walking Shoes

Whenever I go on vacation I always like to spend at least

The Main Reasons Why People Travel

These are exciting reasons. But there are deeper reasons for traveling that have less to do with what we do when we travel, and more to do with what traveling does to us. These five sets of changes to ourselves are at the heart of what makes travel so compelling.

  • Travel Enriches You, Before, During & After

The anticipation of a trip is almost as stimulating as the trip itself and the memories afterwards. Knowing what you have ahead, and imagining it in detail, lends excitement to life, and relieves the tendency to fall into a workaday rut. The more detailed the image of the trip, the more a future trip will excite you in advance. During the trip itself, daily life can be intense. Living in these moments fully, and noting everything around you, makes for heightened living. Clearly, this kind of intensified experience is a quality of a style of travel that takes you beyond the bus and out into the streets and squares, landscapes and waterways, of the places you are visiting. Independent travel is a world apart from “contained” travel.

  • Travel Broadens Your View of the World

Through travel you gain a framework for the history

Top cruises for a short holiday

As the holiday season comes to an end, days filled with fun and relaxation will soon be a distant memory. As work picks up again and the kids head back-to-school, it might be time to break up your routine with a short cruise. Cruises are a great option if you only have a few days because of their all-inclusive nature which removes the stress of having to plan daily activities, packing and unpacking more than once, allowing you plenty of time to actually enjoy your holiday. To make the most of a few days off and the upcoming long weekends, talk to your personal travel manager about a short haul cruise. Here are a few of our favourites.

Rediscover Fiji

Captain Cook Cruises features options such as a three or four night Yasawa Island Cruise, that come complete with child minding services to give the grown ups that all essential me-time. These short cruises are great for families because they are chocked full of activities on the many islands they visit, ranging from volleyball to snorkelling. Captain Cook Cruises’ team is also made up of many friendly Fijians who are on hand to share local secrets

Shopping in Thailand for Teens

Thailand ticks many other boxes for families too, with its beautiful beaches and resorts, stunning scenery, cultural experiences and adventure sports. Choosing a holiday that entertains teenagers can be a challenge. Teenagers are not so content with splashing in a pool all day, driving around looking at scenery or the kids club. They have different needs and wants to younger children and adults when it comes to holidays, so choosing a holiday that will keep the whole family happy is important.

Local Shops

Local shops are just a short stroll from most resorts and will immediately appeal to any teenager. Teens can pick from t-shirts, sunglasses, handbags, dresses, sportswear, sports shoes, jewellery, hats, caps, local handicrafts and much more. Vendors make sure that they offer the most up-to-date and popular products to draw in these young shoppers. If local shops are not enough, there are endless shopping opportunities in multiple large shopping complexes and factory outlets, like Bangkok’s CentralWorld.

Markets

Look out for the larger night or weekend markets where you and your teens will experience a fascinating mix of shopping, food and culture. They’ll find everything they have their heart set on, and generally

Flying Tips

The mere thought of spending hours on a plane in-between a snorer and a fidgeter can be enough to keep you working away at your desk. But rest assured, with our well-travelled network of personal travel managers, our seven heavenly tips for flying will help get you from A-B with ease.

1. Long flight? Get the best seat.

If you’re looking at a long haul flight, forking out a few dollars to select the seat that you feel the most comfortable in will be well worth it. Window seats go fast – not only for the view but also for extra comfort the side of the plane provides when you’re trying to sleep. If you’re a passenger who struggles to keep still, you’ll prefer the aisle so you can escape your seat without having to disturb anybody. Families are often seated in the first few rows of the plane. Avoid this area if you’d like a little more peace and quiet as kids can understandably become restless.

2. Prepare your entertainment.

Load up on podcasts, e-readers, music and apps, and make sure you have all your chargers with you so that you can keep

New York’s Best Kept Secrets

New York, New York, it’s a heck of a town… We asked our personal travel managers to share some of their best-kept secrets hidden within this incredible city. Here are seven to keep you busy during your next visit.

  • Hidden Subway Station at City Hall

New York’s first ever subway station, City Hall, is buried underneath the city’s oldest government building and has been inactive since 1945 due to infrastructural shortfalls for transporting passengers. It’s well worth venturing down to the station’s platform to admire its elegant and breathtaking design. Where: City Hall Park, Civic Center Area of Lower Manhattan, NY 10007

  • Secret gardens of Rockefeller Center

Most locals and tourists have stopped by Rockefeller Center to gaze over the city, shop, dine, and ice-skate during winter. However few have journeyed up to its rooftop gardens. Majestic in their unexpected tranquillity, the secret gardens are the perfect place to take a time out from the buzzing streets below and breathe in a fresh, new perspective. Where: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, NY 10111

  • Hidden Waterfall at Greenacre Park

This pocket park in Midtown East has leafy corners, fragrant flowers and an enchanting, tumbling 25-foot-high waterfall.

Tips to Camping in Style

In recent years glamping, short for ‘glamorous camping’, has skyrocketed in popularity. This trend has been driven by an increasing desire for travellers to seek natural and unique experiences without sacrificing comfort. A wealth of boutique glamping spots have sprung up across Australia in recent years, making for a great stop on a self-drive holiday. You can even ‘DIY glamp’ provided you know the tricks of the trade. To satisfy a yearning for both the great outdoors and the finer things in life, we’ve compiled tips from our network of personal travel managers to help you to glamp in style.

  • Embrace the notion of a campervan

A king bed, fully operational kitchen and a hot shower at the end of the day can make a world of difference to your camping trip. Not just for retirees or backpackers, campervans can be tailored to suit your individual needs, with luxury and budget options available.

  • Comfort is key

The quintessential symbol of relaxation is the humble hammock. Consider bringing along a basic hammock, which can easily be strung up between two trees providing hours of tranquility and ambience for your campsite. Other easy-to-pack luxuries include an

Unique Hotels Around the World

It’s easy to get fixed upon the usual considerations when booking accommodation; affordability, comfort and location are all important factors. However, sometimes it’s worth branching out a little and investing in a hotel which offers something outside the square. From unusual to eye-popping, here is our roundup of five of the most unique hotels around the world.

  • IceHotel, Sweden

Sweden’s IceHotel, nestled in the small village of Jukkasjarvi, is made of natural ice and snow from one of Europe’s last wild rivers, the Torne River, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. Each winter, its hallways are lined with ice art, flittering chandeliers drip with icicles and an atmospheric ice bar is frozen at a constant -5°C. You can also ‘sleep on the ice’, tucked up within plenty of warm bedding. Beyond the hotel, chase the Northern Lights, and try husky-sledding and snowmobiling. Naturally, the hotel melts and returns to Mother Nature in spring, but it will pop up again the following winter.

  • The Manta Resort, Zanzibar

If you enjoy five-star luxury, tropical islands and close encounters with nature, then The Manta Resort on Pemba Island in Zanzibar is an ideal destination for you. Sleep

Tips For Travelling With Teenagers

As your kids leave their tweens and enter their teens, travelling together may require a different approach in order for the entire family to stay sane while travelling. Our personal travel managers have put together a list of helpful tips to ensure your teenagers are as excited about your next holiday as you are.

  1. Involve them in the planning process

Although some teenagers may respond with the iconic “whatever”, it’s important to give them the reins in some way. Discuss the destination with them or have them choose the activities for a day. This not only teaches teenagers about compromise, but also the more involved they are, the more enthusiastic and engaged they’ll be.

  1. Choose accommodation wisely

If your budget allows, try to give your teenager some privacy when holidaying together. This may mean more than one tent, or separate hotel rooms.

  1. Let them pack their own bags

Giving your teenager the opportunity to pack his or her own bags is a great way to teach accountability and help them feel more independent. So long as the weight restriction isn’t exceeded, understanding how to pack efficiently, and carrying around what

Unique Food Festivals

Every Spring Bank Holiday near a small village in Gloucestershire, the tranquillity of the English countryside is shattered by several hundred participants engaging in the pursuit of a large round of locally-produced cheese. Despite the considerable assistance afforded by gravity and a steep slope, the runners find themselves no match for the nine-pound Double Gloucester that cartwheels downhill at speeds of up to 112 kilometres per hour. If you want to experience a food festival that’s quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, ask your personal travel manager to help you design an itinerary that’s sure to be memorable.

Fête du citron

In February 2017, the French Riviera town of Menton will celebrate the 84th year of the Lemon Festival. Why? Menton citrus afficionados have long-proclaimed the uniqueness of the Menton lemon, which according to local legend is descended from a single fruit that was planted by Eve herself following her exiling from the Garden of Eden. Regardless of the accuracy of that claim, more than two hundred thousand visitors descend on this pretty little town annually to view the giant sculptures that have been lovingly crafted from thousands of tonnes of oranges and lemons. Each year the

Sensational Santiago

With its fabulous cuisine, European ambience and easy mix of Latin American energy mixed with old-world bohemian charm, Chile’s capital city has plenty to entice the curious.

1.  Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Santiago’s Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is housed in the lovely 1807 ex-Royal Customs House. It is an essential first stop – especially if you’re heading further north to explore the Inca city and World Heritage site of Machu Picchu in Peru. The museum’s collection includes centuries-old art from Mexico to Patagonia. Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s bustling hub, is just metres away, but inside the museum all is relaxed and reflective.

2.  Mercado Central

Chile’s incredible long coastline ensures a varied supply of seafood, and the best place to sample the Pacific’s bounty is at Santiago’s Central Market. Take a seat at one of the seafood restaurants and order one of Chile’s signature Pisco Sour cocktails to enjoy with your meal, fresh from the ocean.

3.  Barrio Bellavista

Barrio Bellavista is Santiago’s most well known bohemian neighbourhood with modern bars, restaurants and boutique hotels. The area’s arty vibe still lingers at places like the humble Venezia Café, which is well

New ways to travel

Many of today’s travellers prefer a more individual approach, looking for travel experiences that are unique, tailored and fit with their personal tastes and interests. The same destination can offer different holidays for different people: foodies might choose Bali for a three-day cooking course in Ubud; fitness fanatics would probably prefer a bootcamp week in Seminyak, while those in need of some quiet time might prefer a yoga retreat in Canggu. Of course, some destinations naturally lend themselves to a particular type of travel. For example, the Galapagos Islands are unlikely to appeal to those not interested in wildlife. But if you were, say, an iguana enthusiast, and you gallivanted off to the Galapagos for ten days, you’d probably find yourself surrounded by like-minded souls.

Eco-tourism and voluntourism are two other relatively new travel niches that are becoming increasingly compelling reasons to travel. Instead being perched poolside at a luxury tropical resort for the duration of their stay, holiday makers might instead choose to spend a day helping to rebuild a cyclone-damaged school or digging a new cesspit for a local village. These holiday choices often stem from a strong desire to connect with the people we

Paris like a local

As travellers, we are increasingly seeking to experience the destinations we visit through the eyes, ears and even stomachs of the locals. Paris is a destination that richly rewards the intrepid traveller who is happy to cast aside the guide book and wander through its broad avenues and narrow streets. With a little basic knowledge and a willingness to follow your eyes and nose, you too can pass yourself off, if not quite as a local, at the very least like a seasoned visitor. The other major geographical points of reference are the Rive Gauche and Rive Droite (Left and Right Banks). The Left Bank refers to the southern side of the Seine and is traditionally the more bohemian, creative part of the city, and includes such landmarks as the Musée d’Orsay and the famed eatery, the Café de Flore. By contrast, the Right Bank is the elegant, sophisticated side, home to grand avenues like the Champs-Elysées and impressive landmarks like the Louvre.

Now that we’ve mastered these basic tenets of Parisian town planning, we can move on to some authentic Parisian experiences:

1. Walk

Paris is a walker’s delight. The Berges de Seine is

24 hours in Bangkok

If your time in Bangkok is limited you’ll want to plan your stay carefully in order to ensure that you make the most of it. Here are some of our favourite ways to fill in a day in Bangkok.

5am: Put thoughts of breakfast aside for an hour or two and head to Pak Klong Talad flower market. Bangkok’s largest wholesale and retail flower market is open 24 hours a day, but a pre-dawn visit is particularly memorable as that’s when the wholesalers bring in truckloads of fresh supplies and retailers come to buy their stock for the day. There’s plenty of noise and action, so come later in the day if you want to see it in a more tranquil and orderly state.

8am: Thai food doesn’t really adhere to Western ideas about breakfast. This is great if you love Thai food as it means you can eat your favourite dishes at any time of day without feeling out of place. If you do want to try something typically Thai, look for a street stall selling Khao Neow Moo Ping. This is a kind of Thai omelette made fresh on demand, often with minced pork and various vegetables, and

Bali for Families

Bali’s popularity as a holiday destination has been on the rise for decades, with a reputation that has encompassed surfing mecca, health and wellness retreat, party central and foodie heaven. Its latest reincarnation is as a fabulously family-friendly destination, with a variety of attractions that are sure to keep everyone happy. Here are some of our favourites.

Wildlife

Whilst you may not have associated Bali with an opportunity to see lions, zebras, and meerkats, these are just a few of the animals you will see during a visit to this open-air zoo, which is located roughly 30 kilometres from Kuta. You can ride the safari tram through the park and view the variety of animals in their free-range settings, or take the night safari to see the park, and its animals, in an entirely different light. If you’re more interested in the local wildlife, a visit to the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre is a must. Here, the focus is on rescue, rehabilitation hatching and release of three local turtle species, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to take part in releasing baby turtles back to the ocean.

Food

25 minutes south of

24 hours in Abu Dhabi

Roughly halfway along the 700-kilometre Persian Gulf coastline of the United Arab Emirates, you’ll find its capital city, Abu Dhabi, which shares its name with the Emirate in which it is located. Archaeological evidence indicates that human settlement on this site dates back to at least the third millennium BC, but the city itself has moved far beyond its roots of herding, fishing and pearl diving.

Now, with a thriving petroleum-driven economy, it’s pushing back the desert to create space for its 1.5 million inhabitants, and its constantly-changing skyline rivals any other 21st century city. Its location makes Abu Dhabi an ideal stopover for Europe-bound travellers and we recommend spending at least 24 hours in this fascinating destination: your visit might look like this.

9am: Start your day with a ride on the open-top, hop-on, hop-off Big Bus. It’s a great way to get your bearings, and your ticket includes numerous freebies – more on those later. They actually operate two different loops but if you’re short on time, we recommend the City Tour (red route) as it stops at main attractions within the city.

11am: If you start your Big Bus Tour at the Corniche end of the loop, you can hop off roughly halfway

Rail through Switzerland

A visit to Switzerland is a visit to another world. One where fairytale-like villages and pristine scenery are the norm. A place where every frame is perfect and where every detail makes you feel like you are in a dream. This is the Swiss effect. Due to the compact size of Switzerland, you can see its stunning highlights even on a short trip. Here’s a guide on how to get the most out of your Swiss holiday.

The most efficient and convenient way to experience the country is with the Grand Train Tour using a Swiss Travel Pass. A truly spectacular tour, it combines eight of the country’s most panoramic rail journeys covering 1,280km, unveiling majestic snow-capped mountains, verdant meadows, glistening lakes and much more. Peeling yourself away from the over-height train windows as you weave your way through the country will be your greatest challenge. The longest express train ride in the world, this 7½ hour journey is a must for train lovers. Thoroughly scenic from end to end between the resort towns of Zermatt and St Moritz, the train crosses a whopping 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and ascends up to 2,033m, the highest point

A Ladies Packing List

Dresses

A maxi dress provides you with length if you’re visiting a site such as a church dress that requires modest dress.  It also provides some protection on windy days, and can be worn with a cardigan or jacket on those days when the weather is a little cooler. It’s a good idea to also include a dress with a longer sleeves, not just for modesty but also for protection from inclement weather.

Pants

Leggings are great for travelling as their stretchy waistband and fabric make them really comfortable, and they can be paired with virtually anything. Black is good colour to use as your base as it’s forgiving with dirt and you can easily throw on a bright t-shirt to freshen up in no time.  A pair of lightweight jeans or capri pants can add further comfort and style to your wardrobe options.  It’s a good idea to throw in a pair of shorts too, just in case.

Tops

It is advisable to pack a selection of tops with sleeves of varying length when backpacking in Europe. The longer sleeve length will keep you warmer on the cooler days and are a