Avoid hassle at the airport

We are all fully aware that security at airports and when taking flights is a very necessary part of holiday and business travel. Now that security is being stepped up further due to a terror warning in the United States travellers have to prepare themselves for further delay at check in but there are some ways in which you can make the situation slightly more bearable.

The first thing that we have to say is that you should absolutely ensure that all your electronic devices are fully charged before you leave home and it would be wise to have them switched off whilst travelling and at the airport.

Weekends are a busy time and if it is possible to travel outside of them it will be better for you. Now that most, if not all airlines and travel companies allow online booking and printing of boarding cards, doing this will ease your time in the airport. Fast track through security for around £3 can prevent frustration in the snaking line of stressful passengers.

Whenever it is possible and particularly if you have had a long journey to the airport with young children, book a lounge, it may cost you a few pounds but it could prove to be money well spent. Airport security checks are an absolute necessity and as travellers we just have to make the best we can of them.

Airport securityPicture: redjar

British Museum most popular British attraction list

The British Museum remains top of the most visited attractions list for 2013 and attracted a whopping 6 million tourists last year. The National Gallery came second in the list as London attractions dominated the list of Britain’s most popular tourist sites.

London saw a 12% increase in tourists last year, with many suggesting that it was a knock on effect from hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. London attractions made up 12 of the most visited sites in Britain and top placed British Museum received 20% more visitors than in 2012.

Housing some of the best historical artefacts in the world from the Vikings to Egyptian mummies, the British Museum has been the most visited British attraction for the last seven years.

The most visited attraction outside of London was the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh which attracted 1.77 million visitors.

Overall, visitors to British attractions were 6% up on 2012, due in some part to the good summer weather. Tourism minister Helen Grant welcomed the news by saying, “It is fantastic news for the tourism sector that our top attractions received a boost in visitor numbers in 2013 and the Government will continue to support the industry and promote Britain to the world as a great place to visit and do business with.”

British MuseumPicture: Nicolas de Camaret

Earthquake in the Greek Islands

News reports are coming in that a small earthquake has hit the Island of Kefalonia in the Greek Islands. Although not massive it was still of 5.9 magnitude and has left some damage to buildings and roads on this popular island, the setting for the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which itself featured an earthquake.

Greece has seen a number of earth tremors; they are not regarded as uncommon, but usually are only slight in nature. Kefalonia was hit by a major earthquake in 1953 which virtually destroyed most of the old buildings on the Island, the Lixouri peninsular taking the brunt of it. The net result that most of the island has modern buildings with the exception of Fiskardo, which remains a tranquil harbour setting a favourite with visiting yachtsmen and has retained its old world Greek charm.

The island does remain open for business and if you intend to go to Kefalonia in the near future there should be no problem, but normally earthquake activity will normally cease after within two or three days. The latest Foreign Office advice is that he airport remains open although there could be some disruption to port services if you are planning your trip there by ferry.

Picture: Berit

A guide to Christmas travel

With Christmas fast approaching and as more people decide to go away to a European or Mediterranean destination, it is worth remembering the restriction that are placed on hand luggage by most airlines.

Naturally it’s always a pleasure to surprise your hosts at the airport with a small Christmas present; however, if you plan to carry presents in your hand luggage, you must ensure that they are permitted to be carried on board. Check with the airline the size of bag that you can take on the aircraft, usually this will be no larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm and remember it includes including wheels, handles and outside pockets, some airlines specify smaller hand luggage sizes.

There are restrictions on what you can put in the bag as well; liquids including gels and aerosols can only be carried in containers of 100ml or less. All liquid items must be placed in a transparent, re-sealable bag no larger than 20cm by 20cm, for example a re-sealable freezer bag is ideal. Also that harmless little toy that you may be taking for a child can be confiscated at the security check. A child’s water pistol or catapult, tools, any item that could be used as a potential weapon will not be allowed through security.

Finally if you are taking some presents, don’t wrap them; security is only going to un-wrap them. Have a great Christmas break.

Picture: gstremer

Facts about Working Holiday Visas

Working holidays are a great way of earning money while you travelling, and have the bonus of experiencing new cultures whilst at the same time gaining work skills you can add to your CV.

Hundreds of thousands of people travel all over the world each year on working holidays, but you must keep in mind that you will need an actual working holiday visa instead of a tourist visa to allow you to work.

Here are the most popular countries to take a working holiday in:

Australia

Australia’s Working Holiday Visa program provides the opportunity for individuals aged between 18 and 30 years old to holiday in Australia and to obtain work through short-term employment.

The visa is valid for up to 12 months and starts from the date of first entry into Australia.

Canada

Canada’s working holiday visa is known as the IEC (International Experience Canada) work permit. Age limits are between 18 and 30 for most countries although for some countries the age limit is 35 years old.

The type of work and duration of stay for the IEC work permit varies depending on the individual’s country of residence.

France

The French working holiday visa, called the Permis Vacances Travail or PVT allows holders to travel and work in France for up to 1 year. Because France is part of the Schengen Agreement, the PVT work permit also allow holders to travel to other countries signed up to the agreement for up to 90 days in a 180 day period during the duration of the permit.

New Zealand

A New Zealand working holiday visa allows individuals to live and work in the country for up to 12 months, and even up to 23 months for those with a valid UK passport.

New Zealand only hands out a limited number of visas each year, so plan ahead and get in there early or you will likely miss out.

Virtually every country in the work has some form of working holiday visa, all with different requirements and criteria, and it is important that you choose the right visa for what you are planning to do.

The best places to get information about visas is the specific countries embassy website or a dedicated visa advice service such as IXPVisas.com. Either way, these agencies will be able to guide you in the right direction for applying for the right visa.

Where will you go?

Where will you go?

Royal Caribbean announces new features to cruise ships

After hard times for the cruise ship industry with numerous disasters including outbreaks of illness and luxury liner crashes, Royal Caribbean is fighting back against all the odds to draw customers back on board.

They announced yesterday that they will be bringing in a whole new range of features on their line of Quantum ships, including a series of what they are calling ‘firsts at sea’ such as a brand new capsule ride, the North Star, which transports guests more than 300 feet above sea level over the edge of the boat; a skydiving experience for beginners and seasoned skydivers within a simulated environment; and updated staterooms.

Richard D. Fain, the chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises stated that “the unique features on Quantum will boggle our guests’ mind, but the real strength of the design is how our people have integrated all these diverse components to create a comfortable and exciting experience.”

The highly anticipated details of the brand new ships such as the SeaPlex sporting and entertainment venue and Two70 multi-level room with floor to ceiling glass walls were announced alongside changes to the staterooms. Every room, even the internal ones, will have a ‘view’ due to the introduction of the ‘virtual balcony’. This is managed through an 80 inch LED screen that will show views in real time of the world outside. There is also more comfortable accommodation for family and friends travelling together with family-connected staterooms with separate bathrooms and bedrooms that interconnect for time together and apart.

The Quantum ships will span 18 decks and have the capacity to carry more than 4000 guests in their 2090 staterooms. The first ship, Quantum of the Seas, will debut in the fall of 2014, followed closely by the sister ship, Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015.

Picture: Royal Caribbean Cruises

Firms investigated over ATOL claims

It is a great scheme that is designed to provide the traveller with help should the airline or airline tour operator experience problems and collapses whilst you are away in a foreign land. The scheme known as ATOL is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority. ATOL protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad if the tour operator goes out of business, but only if the company is a registered ATOL protected one.

In September new regulations were implemented, which meant that Britons who book an ATOL protected holiday must now receive a yellow certificate, this explains in detail what is protected on the holiday, also with a number which will speed up claims. However it seems that some companies are cheating and falsely claiming on their websites they are an ATOL-registered company, which in a recent case a company wasn’t and was fined. The CAA is investing a number of other firms and more prosecutions are expected shortly. It has to be remembered that you may not be covered by the scheme if you build your own holiday buying flights and accommodation from different suppliers, so great care should be taken as a flight only booking could be unprotected, other than by insurance specifically taken out by you.