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Thankfully the invention of budget airlines has worked wonders for the travel industry, meaning that more and more of us can see some of the fantastic sights the world has to offer, for a fraction of the cost! Holidays are more accessible to all these days, which can only be great news for those who struggle to find the spare cash for an annual family break.
Typically short or medium-haul destinations are serviced by many a low cost airline, offering budget travel for low, low prices. Great news!
You can cut your travel costs further by being a little clever with how you get to the airport too, meaning more money in your pocket. If you regularly book trains and coaches, maybe it’s time you gave some thought to driving yourself to the terminal door, and booking your airport parking spot with ParkBCP. This saves money and stress, which is fantastic news if you’re travelling with children! You’ll find this is a service that is available at most UK airports, including the busiest ones, with Gatwick North parking equally great value.
EasyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, Fly Be, these are all companies who offer bargain airfares, and all you have to remain mindful of is that this is no-frills travel, so don’t expect masses of leg room, or excessive amounts of in-flight entertainment! Having said that, comfort is more than possible, and you get from A to B safely and effectively. What more could you want?
Here’s a few tips to get the most out of your budget flight.
Consider booking extra leg room
This does add a little cost onto your flight, but if you’re particularly tall, then you might find it worth the money. Booking extra leg room in advance will be cheaper than if you try and do it on the day at the check-in desk, when there may also be limited availability.
Choose your seat online
Again, there is a small fee for this, but choosing your seat ahead of time means you’re exactly where you want to be, e.g. near the front, near the back, near a toilet, on the aisle, at the window, sat together etc. Your preferences are personal.
Don’t bother with meals
I personally wouldn’t waste money on paying for an in-flight meal. Let’s face it, it’s never going to be gourmet, and if you’re only on the flight for a few hours, you can grab a meal deal in the airport and make do until you land!
Stock up on entertainment
You generally won’t have in-flight entertainment, so instead load up that tablet with games/books/apps/films etc, remember your earphones, and amuse yourself.
Arrive in good time
I have had a few occasions, especially with EasyJet, where boarding happened very swiftly indeed, so as soon as you see your gate number displayed, head there immediately!
Check the extras
Certain companies, such as Jet 2 for example, charge a fee for checking in at the airport, trying to encourage people to check in online instead. Take advantage of this if you’re able to print your boarding passes off, as this will save you time and money.
At the end of the day, a flight is a means to an end – getting you from A to B safety and quickly. No frills is no problem when you’re heading to a fantastic destination.
Sundance Helicopters Review
Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps. There is plenty to do, plenty to see, and plenty to experience. One of those unforgettable experiences is a trip out to the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
There are a handful of helicopter tour companies available in Las Vegas that offer the trip of a lifetime to marvel at the ragged cliffs which stretch to the bottom of the canyon to meet the Colorado River. The longest standing and most experienced of these companies is Sundance Helicopters. Sundance was founded in 1985 and started out specializing in tours of the famous Las Vegas strip. In 1988 they branched out to offering trips to the canyon, and with great success, the start of the tourism boom to this wonder was born.
Sundance Helicopters carry over 200,000 guests per year and offer 16 different tours to the Grand Canyon for all budgets and time restrictions. Their fleet of 25 aircraft and a brand new terminal building make Sundance an excellent choice when deciding what company to pick. Also to note, over the next few years (until 2018) Sundance is looking to upgrade their entire fleet to the EC130T2 helicopter which will be the most technologically advanced and economically friendly helicopters to visit the canyon day in day out!
The new terminal was opened in May 2014 which is situated at McCarran International Airport, about 2 minutes drive off Las Vegas Boulevard. It is modern, spacious, and is set out with earthly structures which buffs the transition from the busy city to the scenic grand canyon. It also holds a VIP area as Sundance is the preferred provider for many various celebrities who frequently visit the area.
Our tour started when our limousine driver picked us up from the hotel and after collecting a few more guests, drove us to the terminal. The registration process was fast and simple, firstly we were weighed so that the balance of the helicopter was even, then we were given a name tag with our pilots name and the number of our helicopter. After a short wait of about 20 minutes, a look around the terminal and safety instructions, we were taken out on the tarmac to the choppers where we were personally given instruction on further emergency procedures.
Once the formalities were over, we took our seats in the spacious aircraft, blasted the cooling fan, and away we went up over the city, marveling at excellent views of the Las Vegas strip, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, then finally into the Grand Canyon itself. The flight there lasted about 45 minutes, and was complete with narration in our earphones, topped up by the pilot when there were extra things to be said and spotted.
Inside the canyon, we were treated to a champagne picnic surrounded by the massive canyon walls. Our pilots all sat with us and got to know us better (although left the champagne to the guests as there was a return flight to be had!)
The flight back was just as magnificent, (we changed seats in the helicopter so that everybody got a great view every time) as the sun was setting, we saw the colours erupting from the horizon which then blended with the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip as they were just cranking up for a long night ahead.
Once back on the ground, we were taken back into the terminal to look for our official photos ($30 including frame) and to have another look for last minute souvenirs before being taken back to our hotel in another limousine. Luxury!
All in all, a great trip and highly recommended. The whole team at Sundance Helicopters treated us like gold from start to finish and made our trip extremely memorable.
Since 1945, some dudes have been climbing a greasy pole to get to a ham which is strapped to the top of it, when they do get it, the most epic tomato fight known to this world is started. This crazy event was developed possibly as a protest, or maybe a food fight between friends. Who knows?
Every year, on the last Wednesday in August, festival go-ers cram into the street at Plaza del Pueblo in Bunol (about 30mins drive from Valencia) ready to be covered from head to toe in 140 tonnes of the locals finest (or not so) tomatoes.
Until 2013, it was a free-for-all and the number or people who went to this street was unlimited, meaning that anyone could drive out there, and turn up on the day ready for action. Now, due to safety concerns, the event is capped to just over 20,000 and you need a ticket which costs 10 euro each. Unfortunately tickets sell out mega fast, so the way to go is through various travel companies which offer a day package to the event.
We went with 'Festivals all around'. A company set up by an Australian (Ash) and his local Spanish mate about 6 years ago. They specialize in festivals all over Europe, mainly La Tomatina, San Fermin (running with the bulls) and Oktoberfest.
Firstly, we went to pick up our tickets to the festival, the staff who greeted us couldn't have put us more at ease that we had chosen a good company. We were given not only information about the festival, but also the local hangouts and even recommendations on campsites in the area.
The day of the fight was here, we woke up bright and early as our instructions were to get to the meeting point at 6am for a 6.30am bus departure. There was a thousand people meeting, all sleepy eyed. Unfortunately due to the sheer volume of people, the bus system turned out to be a bit of a shambles. Eventually we got away at 7.15am en route to Bunol (meaning we had missed out on 45 minutes precious sleep!). On the bus, our tour guide explained the proceedings for the day, which involved a sangria party, the tomato fight, then the timings for the return buses to Valancia.
Once we arrived, we were headed towards a carpark where 1000L of sangria was waiting for us. Nice touch! And this was definitely a point of difference from other travel companies. Free (all-you-can-drink) sangria with some tunes pumping to wake us all up. What more could one ask for ahead of a truly memorable day.
The tomato fight itself doesn't need much explanation. Just an intense, fun, slimy war, throwing the red stuff back and forth for an hour made for an amazing morning. Friends were made, then lost when they smudged tomatoes over your head. By the end everyone was partying in the streets, all as mates. The crew from Festivals All Around were brilliant, gathering up stragglers and letting everyone know where the best spots were to get amongst the fight of a lifetime.
Once the canons sounded, the fight was over and everyone dispersed through the narrow streets of the town, past the locals who were hosing people down on the way.
The buses returned to Valencia, and this time were on time and carried a very quiet bus load of sleepy travellers home for a bit of a siesta before the night time festivities.
Next up (if you had a ticket) was the after party which was also sanctioned by Festivals All Around. The official party which was out at a resort in the middle of no where was accessed by the free buses which were all included in our ticket (not to mention a free drink if you arrived before 8pm). Sweet!
The party was pumping, multiple bar areas, plenty of food, a few dance floors and a swimming pool in case you needed to 'cool down'!
A great time was had, but time to roll. Unfortunately it was the buses that let us down. After a hard night punching the air on the DF, the last thing you want is to wait for a bus which we were told were frequent. After waiting 45 minutes one bus arrived, but due to the amount of people, it was like trying to rush onto the last life raft off the Titanic.
All in all, a great day, many memories and definitely something ticked off the bucket list, not to mention many jealous friends back home. Although the washing lady might have thought differently.
Festivals All Around knew what they were doing from the start, unfortunately the buses let us down at times, but with the sheer number of people around, not everything can run to clockwork.
Definitely a recommended package.
London boutique hotels
One of the best places that you can stay at while in London is the area around Victoria Coach Station. Some of the best of London’s boutique hotels are located right here. This is also where you will find the best shopping centres, parks, museums and palaces. Belgravia, London, which is a stone’s throw away, has some wonderful restaurants, pubs and cafes to re-energize you to make the most of your time here. And if you need to visit the passport office, you are ideally located to do that too. The names that are most often associated with the city, such as Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall are situated in London Victoria.
How to go Offbeat at London Victoria So, you’ve found just the right accommodation at the right price in London with boutique hotels, such as Astors Hotel, near Victoria Coach Station. Now, you can get ready to enjoy some of the more unusual activities rather than visiting the common touristy places. Here’s a look at some offbeat things you can do in London Victoria:
Watch a Musical: The Victoria Palace Theatre hosts some great performances of popular musicals like Billy Elliot, Grease and Wicked. Billy Elliot is a much acclaimed musical adaptation of the Oscar winning film by Stephen Daldry. Get ready to rock to the music of Elton John as the story of Billy unfolds right before your eyes. There is some excellent ballet in store for you in this inspirational story. This musical opened for the first time in London in 2005 and since then has been nominated for nine Laurence Olivier Awards, winning the award four times, including the award for the Best New Musical.
Visit the Houses of Parliament: See how the government of the erstwhile empire functions. There are audio and guided tours to choose from. The tours take you through the route taken by the Queen at State Opening of Parliament. This route starts from the Queen’s Robing Room and then traverses the Royal Gallery and Prince’s Chamber and finally ends at the Lords Chamber. The tour then takes tourists to the Central and Members’ Lobbies, as well as a voting lobby before it ends at the Commons Chamber, where you can witness those lively parliamentary debates. You will then be taken through St Stephen’s Hall to Westminster Hall, which has seen the government function for over nine centuries. The tours are available in several languages at different times of the day.
Have a Meal at a Historic Location: While nearby Belgravia, London, offers a vast array of eateries to choose from, you might just enjoy yourself eating at the site where the Old Westminster Library used to stand. Today this historic building, right at the heart of the political district of London, is home to Cinnamon Club, one of the top Asian restaurants in the city. It has made a name for itself with its modern Indian delicacies, excellent service and an enviable wine list.
Once you’ve lived at one of London’s boutique hotels and experienced life off the beaten track here, all you need is to get on the Gatwick Express and head off to the airport for home.
3Glav Adventures Review: Lake Bled, Slovenia
Nestled in the heart of Slovenia is an outdoor paradise, more commonly known as Lake Bled. The breath taking mountain-meets-the-lake setting in the north west region of the country is an ideal place for adventure. Luckily, a friendly adventure specialist agency is set up just off the crystal clear shore line of Lake Bled.
3Glav Adventures (www.3glav-adventures.com) specialises in warm weather activies so is open from April until October every year and offer a wide range of activities, including horse riding, paragliding, segway tours, and their trademarks, the Emerald River Adventure, and Canyoning.
We were lucky enough to jump on to a canyoning trip on a gorgeous day in the Bled area. We were picked up from our accomodation by Bob, one of the canyoning experts who would be taking us on an afternoon of memories. After a short trip, we met the rest of the group, and another guide called Matt.We spent a bit of time getting to know one another, and getting kitted out with our wetsuits, harnesses and helmets, then we were off into the hills for a short walk upwards to the top of the river.
Once we were at the entrance to the canyon, we had a detailed safety briefing about harnesses and were given lessons on how to abseil and how to keep safe in the canyons. The guides were fluent in English, and gave time for the non-English speaking on the trip to digest the safety information given.
Once the formalities were over, it was a short abseil into the canyon, then a jump into the fresh water. Next, we were swimming, sliding, jumping, abseiling and traversing in the canyon in an experience which is sure to test the comfort zones.
All in all, there was one 4m jump, and two 6m jumps into the waters below, but also the option to abseil down the cliff face if you did not want to jump. There were plenty of abseiling opportunities, and heaps of awesome photos taken all around. The feeling of jumping towards a small target zone between jagged rocks is amazing, and does definitely challenge the nerves.
Once out of the canyon, we all received the congratulatory handshake from the guides on a wicked day out, then it was all about relaxing, and getting to float back down the river that we had walked up to get there in the first place!
Great things about this company is that they obviously care about safety, with great briefings before the trip, and not pushing people too far out of their comfort zone if they did not think they could complete certain tasks. The tour guides both spoke great English and both had an awesome sense of humour, which made the day relaxing, challenging, and unforgetable all at the same time!
Well worth the 55 euros to do this half day trip, and something that I will always remember doing!
Would you recommend 3Glav adventures: Yes, most definitely
Overall destination rating: 4.5 out of 5
Sky Diving Review : Skydive Switzerland
Having a bucket list is a great thing, it makes you do things which are normally out of your comfort zone....... For me, sky diving was one of those things that I really wanted to do, but when it came to actually booking myself in, I knew my sub conscious would tell me not to do it.
I was travelling around Europe, and came to a beautiful place known as Interlaken, with Europe’s highest mountain back dropped against rugged terrain in Switzerland’s adventure capital, how could I say no to hauling my ass out of an aeroplane high above the Earth's surface?
(July 2014) I met the team at Skydive Switzerland at their airfield which is about a 30 minute drive from Interlaken. The airfield is easy enough to find with a GPS and parking is available on site, although they did offer to pick me up from Interlaken which would be handy for those of you who don't have a car.
We signed our lives away and had a quick safety briefing by one of the instructors. “bend your knees under the plane, put your head back, hips forward”. It was all getting very real now.
We boarded the one way plane to the sky and had a magnificent view of the alps from above the clouds. The instructors were able to take photos and videos for those who had ordered them (highly recommended).
All of a sudden, the light for 'drop zone' came on, we moved forward to the edge of the plane, my knees were bent, head was back and hips forward, and with a blink of the eye, we were off. Free falling. WHAT A RUSH! The feeling of free falling is second to none, and nothing you would ever hope to imagine.
The instructor tapped me on the shoulder after 5 seconds of freefall once he had stabilized us and I was able to give a big thumbs up to the camera. After a while of free falling (which only seemed like about 10 seconds, but the video shows it was 35-40 seconds) the parachute was up, and we made a landing right by the runway we had taken off from. (see photos below)
The crew at Skydive Switzerland were welcoming and knew what they were doing. They seemed relaxed, but were orchestrated in all of their safety checks making it one of the safest extreme activities around. They definitely knew when it was time to work, and when it was time to play.
I would recommend Skydive Switzerland as a company to jump with. They have a great team, run good safety checks and adequate briefings, take awesome photos/video, and as one of the instructors reassured us, “if the parachute doesn't open then they have to do lots of paperwork and the jump will be for free!”. Nothing to worry about..... any questions just ask.
Would you recommend Skydive Switzerland: Yes, most definitely
Overall destination rating: 4 out of 5
Top Things to do in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Cheap hotels in Kensington are available in plenty. However, selecting one in haste may not be the best thing to do. You would need to assess your options on the basis of certain parameters like comfort, reputation, facilities and amenities, safety, availability of parking and so on. Once you find a hotel of your choice, the best destinations of interest in the Kensington and Chelsea area would be close by. Some of the best things to do when you are in this part of London have been discussed here.
Spending Quality Time in the Kensington Chelsea Area
Now that you have chosen from among cheap hotels in Kensington and arrived at an option like Hotel Lily London, it’s time to plan your activities wisely. Some of the best activities to choose from would include:
Heading to the best Museum: South Kensington is known for its gorgeous museums. Therefore, picking the best one you would wish to spend your time at could be a bit of a challenge. Some of the options include the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. You can also head to the Leighton House Museum which showcases stunning North African as well as Middle Eastern art forms. Other museums of repute include the National Army Museum, Carlyle’s House, the 18 Stafford Terrace and the Museum of Brands. If you have kids with you, these trips to various museums would prove to be informative and fun.
Spend some time at the best pubs: Well, since you are on a holiday, its time to relax and rewind. What better than to head to the celebrated pubs of Kensington for a quick drink and some great time. Kensington is known for its lively pubs and restaurants. Top choices to head to from your Kensington hotels London include The Windsor Castle, The Britannia, The Churchill Arms and the Imperial College Bars. Especially, the college bars could prove to be a great idea when the students aren’t around. With the students in attendance, the place becomes way too noisy.
Go Street Shopping: If you are looking for an illustrious collection of street shops for spending some good time, the Golborne Street Market should ideally be your pick. This is the place that provides a truly local flavor of this part of London. Some of the eateries here serve some delicious Moroccan food, which is definitely an added plus. You can shop and grab a bite in between your shopping sessions.
Head to the best Open Spaces: The best open space of Kensington is the Holland Park with its black rabbits and peacocks. It also has a Kyoto garden. Another option here would be the Little Wormwood Scrubs which also has an adventure park for kids as well.
Other Places to Explore
Some of the other celebrated destinations to explore from your 3 star hotel in Kensington includes Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Westfield shopping Centre, Royal Albert Hall, Hammersmith Apollo, Olympia Exhibition Centre and Chelsea Stadium. Considering that there are several options to explore it is important to plan your trip impeccably so that every interesting element can be packed in.
Top 4 Family Restaurants in Edinburgh
Do you plan to visit Edinburgh you your family for your next vacation? Well, it is a great place for holidays and business trips alike. With so many places to see and food to try out, make sure you plan your trip so that you don’t miss out on anything. From Edinburgh and Holyrood Castles to the Royal Yacht Britannica and the Museum, there is a lot to take in.
Even before you plan all this sightseeing, you will need to book yourself into a family friendly hotel in Edinburgh, like Piries Hotel, which offers the most comfortable stay and the modern amenities without burning a hole in your pocket.
In case there are any differently abled members travelling with you, check for disabled friendly hotels in Edinburgh as well.
4 Family Eateries in Edinburgh All set for your trip to the land of history and culture? Take a look at some of the best places to eat at affordable prices while you are here. These restaurants have a special way of catering to the needs of children and are a great choice to make your family holiday memorable.
1. La Favorita
If your little angels adore pizza and you too have a fondness for Italian cuisine, this is the place to be at. There is an interesting option here – while adults can order from a menu; your little ones can eat at just €1 , which is donated by this restaurant to charity. So, eating here adds meaning and pleasure to your moments. This place is well connected to Haymarket train station in Edinburgh and Edinburgh city centre as well.
2. The Scottish Storytelling Centre
There is lot more in store for you than extremely delightful cuisine here. This place comprises of the remarkable Netherbow Theatre and the George Mackay Brown Library. It is also the nerve centre of the famous Scottish storytelling network. The court is easily accessible to the public and plays host to a child centric exhibition. The cafe here serves scrumptious, homemade, nutritious meals, beverages and snacks, along with a special children's menu. You can go through the rich Scottish heritage and relive stories along with the enchanting meal, all at a one go.
3 The Spice Pavilion
When you wish to try something different and spicy, don’t look beyond Spice Pavilion at Dundas Street. Authentic and freshly cooked Indian food awaits you here. The lunch menu is a must try. Tickle your taste-buds with the unique assortment of spices here. You can easily reach this restaurant from Edinburgh Train Station.
4. Frankie & Benny's
This is a prominent Italian-American themed restaurant that extends its theme to the ambience and a la carte menu. This place is famous for its incredible variety of desserts, making it a favourite among kids. This place also offers a good assortment of burgers, pizzas, and American and Italian delicacies. And your little devils are kept thoroughly engage through various activities like puzzles and drawings, till they finally get their hands on their choice of meal or dessert.
Before you can try out these delicacies, however, make sure you book yourself into a family friendly hotel in Edinburgh. If it is close to Edinburgh Airport and easily connected by public transport. There are several disabled-friendly hotels in Edinburgh to choose from too.
Exploring Buckingham Palace like Never Before
Imagine a place with a floor space of 8, 30,000 sq ft. Yes, the Buckingham palace is a large castle. It was built in 1703 in the honour of the Duke of Buckingham. In 1837, it was designated as the monarch’s official London residence replacing St James's Palace. If you are lucky , you can actually spot Queen Elizabeth II here , just keep an eye on yellow, red and blue flags flying. If it does, you might witness the true royalty. Queen usually divides her stay between Buckingham, Balmoral and Windsor.
If you plan visiting the castle, make sure you arrange in advance for your stay at cheap hotel near Gatwick express like St. George’s Inn Victoria or you can even book cheap hotel near Buckingham palace. Once, you are done with that go ahead with exploring the citadel.
A mesmerizing walk around Buckingham palace: Here is the list of the things you will discover on your walk in Buckingham Palace.
The ceremonies happening at courtyard of the fortress is a momentous experience. It is interesting to note that the dress code of the ceremonies used to be of utmost importance. After World War I, Queen Mary wish to infuse some fashion in the dress code, she wanted the length of the skirt to be bit shorter, stylish and comfortable. Just to read the expression on the king’s face, she asked the lady-in- waiting to try the fashion out, the king was mortified by the view and the queen didn’t dare to try that fashion again. Her attempts were materialized when Queen Elizabeth allowed this during her reign. But, today there is no official dress code; people just wear formal attire to match the occasion. You can witness throne room, ball room; there are lots of ceremonies like state banquets, investitures, reception of new ambassador that takes place here.
Every year from July to September, 19 sumptuously decorated state rooms with artworks are open for the visitors. The tour to state rooms is of 2 hour and you can get your tickets online as well as from the palace ticket office. The tour also includes the Throne room.
This is a must watch area in the citadel, for it showcases the artwork from the royal collection, these artworks were once owned by the Queen. The collection is exhibited on a rotating basis, and approx 450 collections are displayed at any one instance. It was first designed by John Nash. You can visit the place by the entrance through Buckingham Gate.
When you watch the beautifully carved royal coaches, your Cinderella fantasies come alive. At royal Mews which is combination of stables, garage and carriage house, you witness the opulent site of the Royal British family. Previously, the royal mews were located at Charing Cross but now you can access the magnificence at Buckingham palace. We recommend taking special note of Glass Coach of 1911 and Gold State Coach of 1762.
Thus, this fortress has a soul of its own and you must visit the place for once in a lifetime experience. Just consider booking a cheap hotel near Gatwick express for its exceptional connectivity or book a cheap hotel near Buckingham palace for its close proximity to the location.
Other place of interest having exceptional connectivity from London Victoria Station, Victoria Coach Station or through Gatwick express are Belgrave, London Aquarium Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, London Eye and Royal Albert Hall. You can also plan a visit in these places.