How to pack for different climate zones

Cruising can be fantastic fun for the whole family whatever the weather. With an ever expanding list of exciting destinations accessible via cruise ship plus a constant developing arena in on-board entertainment and conveniences, it is rare you’ll ever hear the phrase “it’s a shame about the weather” on your cruise holiday. Come rain or shine; activities, amusement and exploration are in abundance on modern cruise holidays and providing you are prepared for the climate zone of your choice, you can eliminate any weather woes from spoiling what’s bound to be your best holiday to date.

I’m packed © the opoponax

So you’ve chosen your next port of call, booked your holiday and your famous (yet slightly annoying for anyone not going) holiday countdown has begun. But when it comes to packing, what should you take and how can you ensure a good time is had no matter what the forecast has in store? Take some time to learn a little about the weather zone you are entering and with these handy tips plus some essential pre-planning, you will be well on your way to forecast fortune telling and smooth cruising in no time.


No prizes for guessing these are the countries hugging the equator. If you are cruising to the Equatorial climate you’ll likely be visiting some truly exotic destinations such as Columbia, Brazil and Ecuador in South America, Central America, Central Africa, India, Indonesia and the northern coast of Australia. When cruising along the equator itself you’ll be at zero degrees latitude, the widest point of the earth and exactly between the northern and southern hemispheres. Most countries within the equatorial climate experience just two seasons, wet (tropical rainfall and higher humidity) and dry (cooler temperatures with less rain). Biodiversity is rich here due to the surge in tropical humidity; this also means some of the world’s greatest rainforests are found within this climate zone. If the air feels dense and heavy be prepared for some short but heavy rainfall, plus if you’re cruising during rainy season, air conditioning and onboard entertainment should be high on your check list.

Equatorial Essentials: Rain mac, 50+ sun protection, bug spray, long sleeves, sports socks and closed toe walking shoes or boots for jungle excursions, binoculars, book on wildlife spotting.


Are you planning a cruise to the Middle East, Australia or Western America? You might find yourself entering an arid climate. Destinations such as (inland) California, Arizona, Texas, Morocco, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Australia can have extremely dry regions and deserts. Although they are astounding in physical appearance, these deserts and their surrounds can be extremely hot and inhospitable places. On the upside, annual rainfall is low and you can experience some beautiful blue skies as descending air and areas of high pressure eliminates the presence of clouds. An arid climate can also bring much colder temperatures as night falls so bare that in mind for evening attire and sleepwear.

Arid Essentials: Water bottle, sun hat for shade, cover ups (choose comfortable materials like cotton and linen), sunglasses, sandals, thermal pyjamas, eye drops, Vaseline.


Cruising the Mediterranean is a dream come true for most holiday makers, and the balmy Mediterranean climate makes it easy to see why. This climate zone includes countries and regions roughly up to 40 degrees latitude either side of the equator but can also be present slightly further afield. Countries within this climate zone include Portugal, Spain, (the south of) France, Italy, Greece and Turkey but also (far south) Western Australia can experience similar conditions. Due to a seasonal shift in descending air, summers of the Mediterranean climate zone can be warm, sunny and dry with low rainfall. Pleasant and bearable temperatures are generally experienced throughout summer and some of the world’s best beaches are blessed with this weather, but searing heatwaves can also occur so sun protection is still important. Winter will bring cooler temperatures but still shouldn’t be cold enough to warrant packing a bulky overcoat.

Mediterranean Essentials: Swimwear, beach towel, snorkel, waterproof camera, shorts, thin layers, lightweight jacket, walking shoes.


You may not always see snow when cruising within the snow climate zone but overall temperatures are definitely colder for the most part and summers are short lived. Destinations within this region include Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Within this higher northern latitude the winters can be long, harsh and very cold so you’ll want to take some extra thermal layers if you plan on doing some shore exploring outside of the summer months. Frost melting and birds tweeting announce the awakening of spring in some areas and you’ll need good quality hiking boots to explore the magnificent terrains of Alaska, Canada or Sweden. Despite its snow coated stereotype, temperatures can still reach up to 30 degrees in the city of Moscow so consider short sleeves if you’re travelling to Russia’s capital city during summer. Stunning scenery changes drastically from vast thick fir tree forests to baron and empty acres of tundra the further north you explore the snow climate zone.

Snow Essentials: Hat, gloves & scarf for winter, warm (waterproof) coat, lightweight fleece, synthetic fibres (warm in winter, cool in summer), hiking boots, moisturiser, nature or bird spotting book.


The north and south Polar regions experience different climates but both harbour some of the coldest temperatures in the world. However, those that don’t mind a colder cruise will be rewarded with breath-taking scenery, amazing uninhabited landscapes and some incredible opportune photo moments. Destinations covered by the polar climate zone include (northern) Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, (north and north east) Russia, Antarctica and some areas of western China. The Arctic climate can be more bearable than the south due to moderation from the Atlantic Ocean, meaning that temperatures can reflect those of a mainland European winter. You’ll likely witness frozen ocean and some incredible ice glaciers during a cruise to the arctic north so prepare for the possibility of freezing temperatures. The sky is clear and you’ll want to bring a travel telescope or decent camera for star gazing or chasing the famous northern lights. Wrap up extra warm for a polar cruise to the south because temperatures here have been recorded at -80 Celsius. The air here is drier than most deserts so protect your skin and keep hydrated.

Polar Essentials: Thermal clothes, hiking or snow boots, coat, hat/scarf/gloves/balaclava, digital SLR camera, waterproofs, pocket tissues, torch, polarised wraparound sunglasses, sea sickness medication, swimwear (for natural thermal springs), travel telescope, book on star gazing.


Expect a bit of a mixture if you are entering a temperate climate, as this category can include aspects of a Mediterranean, sub-tropical or maritime climate. You could even expect four seasons in one day if you are visiting the UK for example, an island with a typical maritime climate which means conditions are influenced by the ocean. A rain mac, sunglasses and scarf could all be of use during a trip here no matter the time of year. Other destinations experiencing a temperate climate include northern mainland Europe, (western and central) USA, (western) China, (north west) Argentina.

Temperate Essentials: Rain mac, sunglasses, hat, comfy walking shoes, sense of humour, layers, sea sickness medication, guide to cloud spotting

*Climate zones depicted from the Koppen climate classification. Weather conditions are always subject to change and it is advised to check official weather forecasts pre-departure for a happy holiday.






Extreme global weather

The UK may be experiencing what looks likely to be a milder than average winter but other parts of the globe are struggling against some extreme weather conditions.

Middle East

Heavy snow is expected to affect large parts of Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and SW Russia early this week. As the cold conditions spread east later in the week, strong to gale force winds and heavy snow are expected across more eastern parts of the Mediterranean.

This will lead to the Middle East seeing temperatures 10 or 15C below normal for the time of year. For example, overnight temperatures could fall to -10C in Syria by mid week, with daytime temperatures struggling to rise above freezing.

This is likely to have a significant impact on refugees and the humanitarian aid agencies in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, with problems enhanced by the threat of frozen water supplies. Although overnight temperatures of -5 to -10C are expected, these values may well fall much lower if there is snow cover.

North America and Canada

Large areas of the USA and Canada are experiencing very cold conditions, with the threat of heavy snowfall across some parts over the coming days.

The eastward movement of a cold front over the weekend has dragged very cold air down from the arctic. Temperatures across parts of Canada have fallen to -30C, and widely across North America, daytime temperatures have ranged between 0 and -6C, with the bitterly cold conditions enhanced by strong winds.

As well as the low temperatures, some parts have seen heavy snowfall, such as the Pacific Northwest and areas to the east of the Great Lakes.

Further heavy snowfall is expected this week, particularly down-wind of the Great Lakes due to “lake effect” snow. This is caused when cold flows across relatively warm bodies of water such as the Great Lakes. The air rises in strong convective currents which creates clouds and heavy precipitation. In these very cold conditions, the moisture in the clouds will fall as snow.

The significance of this is highlighted by snowfall projections over the coming days. Lake Ontario, the easternmost of the Great Lakes with a surface area of 18,960 km2, is expected to bring narrow bands of heavy snow to areas east of the lake. These narrow bands could generate 2-3 feet of fresh snow over the next 24-36 hours causing significant disruption.

While the freezing temperatures are expected to last throughout the week, temperatures may recover slightly through the weekend.

Will the US weather affect the UK?

The cold conditions will have the effect of strengthening the jet stream, which will move close to the UK over the coming days. This will bring unsettled conditions through this week, with spells of wet and windy weather, particularly across northwestern parts of the country. However, it will be mild, particularly towards the end of the working week when daytime temperatures could reach around 14C.

There is the potential for the remnants of this cold air to move eastwards across the Atlantic to affect the UK over the weekend. However, the airmass will become heavily modified by the Gulf Stream, and there is little risk of the extreme temperatures over North America affecting the UK.

© Met Office

Iceland, iBeacons and in-flight kids clubs – Thomson and First Choice predict the top travel trends for 2015

As the festive season draws to a close and the new year is just around the corner, research shows that millions of us will have spent much of the Christmas holidays searching for our next break in the sun.  According to leading holiday brands Thomson and First Choice, the peak time for holiday searches on Christmas Day is at around 8.30pm, just hours after the turkey has gone cold and the last cracker pulled. Last year a staggering 110,000 of us chose to skip charades and endless repeats on TV, instead searching for the perfect sunshine break online.

As the New Year approaches and Thomson and First Choice’s retail and call centre teams are gearing up to help millions of customers find their perfect break, the holiday company predicts what’s hot for 2015…


Short and mid haul beach destinations such as Spain, Greece and Turkey continue to remain firm favourites with Brits looking for short flight times, high standards of accommodation and glorious beaches.

However the arrival of the 787 Dreamliner makes long haul flying more comfortable and easier than ever. With a boom in long haul travelling, there are a number of new destinations, which are emerging as the ‘hot’ places to go in 2015.

Long haul…

  • Costa Rica – Green and lush Costa Rica is an adventure lover’s paradise.  From November 2015 Thomson Airways is launching a new weekly service from Gatwick to exotic Costa Rica, which will be the only direct flight from the UK.
  • Aruba – white sandy beaches, gable topped houses, ramshackle bars serving fresh fish and cocktails, Aruba’s Dutch roots set it apart from other Caribbean islands.
  • Bonaire – one of the best dive and snorkelling destinations in the world. Shipwrecks, tropical fish and seahorses are ripe in the waters that surround the island.
  • Curacao – a mix of footprint-free beaches and pretty colonial town, this little colonial island in the Caribbean is slowly beginning to creep onto the tourist radar.
  • Goa, India – EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is taking this chilled out beach resort by storm, and this New Year sees the return of the globally famous Sunburn festival, making it the one of the hippest places to holiday next year. From November 2015 Thomson is adding 10 and 11 night holidays to Goa departing from Gatwick.

 Short and mid haul…

  • Iceland – famous for boiling mud pools, spurting geysers, glaciers and waterfalls, Thomson has recently announced that it will be offering three or four night breaks to Iceland from January 2016.
  • Dalmatian Coast, Croatia – situated along Croatia’s Adriatic coast is home to clear waters, secluded coves and enchanting towns, including the vibrant city of Split, Dalmatian Coast is the place to go next summer for a short haul beach holiday.
  • Mykonos and Santorini – with boutique hotels, luxury villas and label-laden shops, stylish Mykonos and Santorini are Greece’s answer to St-Tropez.
  • Cyprus – a popular destination for years, attracting everyone from families to clubbers, Cyprus has invested heavily in tourism in recent years putting it firmly back on the list of ‘must visit’ holiday destinations next year.
  • Ibiza – regarded as the cool and hip party capital of the Med, Ibiza is fast becoming the fashionable destination for families looking for great accommodation in a laid back setting.

All of the above destinations will be available in 2015, either by direct flight from the UK, or as part of Thomson Cruises’ programme.

In the longer term, Thomson Airways is currently considering expanding its operations to offer direct flights east from the UK to the stunningly beautiful Vietnam and lush and cultural Malaysia on its new 787 Dreamliner fleet. To the west, it is looking at direct flights to the Eastern Caribbean to St Lucia and Antigua, and to Bonaire and Curacao in the Antilles.


2014 saw mobile technology become ‘the norm’ as a way to search and book a holiday.  28% of all of Thomson and First Choice’s online bookings made between January and October 2014 were on mobile technology (smart phones and tablets).   Rich and highly tailored content can now be accessed through all devices making it a quick and easy way to book.

In 2015 Thomson predicts that the real technology game-changer will be Wearable Technology, and will be trialling this latest innovation both in the UK and overseas early next year.  With the launch of the iWatch in early 2015, wearable technology will explode onto the travel scene with smart watch apps significantly enhancing the holiday experience. At the airport, wearable boarding passes will allow travellers to board their flight with a flick of a wrist, whilst in resort they will be able to access local information, get the latest weather reports and book excursions. Holiday advisors will also able to access a wealth of information, communicate with their resort office and the UK as well as make bookings, all from the back of their wrists.

State-of-the-art Virtual Reality technology will bring the high street experience to life, allowing customers to have a personalised, inspiring and highly immersive experience in retail stores. Virtual Reality technology and high quality interactive displays will allow customers to really feel the holiday experience and tailor the choices down to the finest of detail.

iBeacons, small Bluetooth transmitters that push out information to nearby iPhone users, will also be widely used by travel companies.  Holidaymakers can receive information and guidance at key points in their journey, alerting them to gate numbers, retail offers and queues and delays in the airport, as well as hotel and resort information once on holiday.


Advances in technology and inflight services means that 2015 will also see Thomson Airways trial a number of initiatives that will bring the holiday experience to life on the aircraft, helping customers plan their trips from 43,000 feet and seamlessly connect the crew with the overseas holiday teams.

On-board kids’ club will bring Thomson and First Choice child care expertise to the skies with a fully trained member of the crew to help parents keep the kids entertained with arts, crafts and quizzes that relate to the destination.

In addition, Thomson Airways will be trialling on-board HolidayMakers on selected short and mid-haul flights. These are members of the resort team who are experts on the destination who can offer advice and recommendations to customers.

Inflight entertainment will be modernised as new content and channels designed specifically for holidaymakers including a bedtime story channel for little ones, bespoke teenage content and destination inspiration channels on long-haul.

The airline’s cabin crew are also currently trialling iPads so that it can offer a more personalised customer service, share destination information and pass special requests and information over to the resort team for a seamless customer experience.


While millions of Brits enjoy their annual holiday with their children, research by Thomson showed a trend towards stressed out parents enjoying holidays as a couple, leaving their children at home with friends or family.  34% of parents of children under 18 already take child-free holidays and of those who currently holiday with their children, 57% said that given the chance, they’d go away without them.

As a result Thomson is expanding its adult-only Couples collection for 2015 following a 46% increase in bookings in the last two years fuelled by a surge in demand from worn-out parents taking holidays without their children. The rise of hands-on grandparenting is also easing the burden on stressed out parents, with over half (52%) leaving their offspring with their own parents while they enjoy some quality time away.

Jeremy Ellis, Marketing & Digital Director, said; “2015 promises to be an exciting year for travel.  The explosion of mobile technology has not only changed the way people book, it is shaping our customers’ holiday experience from start to finish.

“Long haul travel is becoming more accessible and the choice is now vast.  With the comfort and convenience of direct flights on the Dreamliner and high standards of accommodation, more holidaymakers are looking further afield.”

© Thomson

Beat the winter blues – book up a January getaway now!

January – it’s just around the corner, and perhaps the most depressing month of the year. We find ourselves with bare bank accounts, bulging waistlines and a freezing temperature to boot. The unsolicited reality of the New Year can no doubt leave us feeling rather miserable, so why not escape the dreary post-festive season and book a quick break away. Ozel Rowland picks some of the best January getaway destinations…go on, book up now!

The Algarve

Regarded as Portugal’s most premier holiday destination, the Algarve can reach averages of up to 16˚C in January and is loved for its beautiful coastal setting lined with magnificent limestone rocks. Go on a walking expedition, or book a boat trip, through a scenic route of the cliffs of Ponta de Piedade in Lagos, or head over to the wilderness of the west coast to discover Cabo de São Vicente, Portugal’s least developed region for a quiet retreat. If it’s a bit of culture and sight-seeing you’re after then discover the town of Faro to get a feel for Portuguese life in the old town. Book your getaway with bargain prices from £120pp.

Punta Cana  

Lining the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic’s is more than 50km of a stunning white coastline where you can get your dose of sun, sea and sand. The renowned Coconut Coast is a favourite among many for its dramatic seascape and lofty palm trees, as well as its abundant water sport activities and buzzing night scene. Temperatures can reach an impressive high of 29˚C as January marks the start of the island’s dry season, so you can lounge to your heart’s content on the beachfront before taking a dip in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean. Otherwise, why not explore the land and visit the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve to get up close with local wild life and tour its 12 freshwater lagoons. Find deals starting from £638.50 and begin your journey to this exquisite island today.


Sitting along the glittering turquoise coast of the Turkish Riviera is Turkey‘s largest and most popular resort. Visit Antalya this January and find yourself in the narrow cobbled streets of Kaleici, the city’s historic quarter, to see beautifully preserved ancient Roman landmarks such as Hadrian’s Gate and Hidirlik Tower. Take a break at one of the many restaurants and get lost in the view of the Marina below before checking out the Antalya Archaeological Museum, where you can discover even more about the city’s rich history. For a more tranquil experience take a stroll along the coast or visit one of Antalya’s beautiful parks for picturesque landscapes and greenery. Temperatures in January can reach averages of up to 15˚C and with prices starting from £235 you wouldn’t want to miss out on this Turkish delight.

Gran Canaria  

The Gran Canaria is classic holiday destination that offers an eclectic mix of options for visitors. Whether it’s for a relaxing getaway on a beach, heady nightlife, or an active adventure of hiking and rock climbing, there’s much to enjoy on this fabulous island. While January is the coolest month of the year with averages at 17˚C it’s still warm enough to get the most out of your holiday. Stay at Las Palmas for a touch of culture and city life, or join a camel train in the sandy dunes of Maspalomas before hitting the plaza for a dose of high-end retail therapy. Playa del Ingles is best for party-goers, while Puerto Rico is ideal for sophisticated nights out in the town. Whichever resort you choose, you’re bound to find something that suits you. Deals start from £245pp.

Sharm El Sheikh

Surrounded by the aquamarine waters of the Red Sea is the charming coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, it’s a favourite among holidaymakers for its year-round sunshine, which is hardly surprising considering it enjoys January averages of 22˚C and value-for-money package deals. The area is an ideal spot to embark on an underwater adventure of snorkelling along the stunning coral reefs of the Red Sea, or for soaking up the sun on the inviting white sands of Sharm, which boasts more than 60km of coastline. A day trip to the historic city of Cairo is only three hours away and visitors can see such world famous ancient landmarks such as the grand stone monuments of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. Book your all-inclusive holiday now with prices starting from as little as £245pp.


We wish you a Merry Cruise-mas…

MSC Cruises is giving families the opportunity to make the most of the festive season this year with great value sailings available throughout the Christmas and New Year period.

Sun setting, Baltic Sea © JVP pHoTOs

Escaping the British weather – and all the stress of a Christmas at home – has never been easier. With MSC Cruises, guests can simply relax, celebrate and share their magic moments safe in the knowledge that all the food, entertainment and tidying up is taken care of.

There’s an MSC Cruises itinerary to suit all budgets – and all ships will be decked out in the best traditional trimmings, with sparkling lights, shimmering decorations and Christmas trees. For the little ones, Father Christmas will make a very special stop during an event in the onboard theatre, where he’ll present a gift to every child on board.

MSC Cruises Christmas and New Year fly-cruise itineraries include:

Western Mediterranean: Seven-night western Med sailing aboard MSC Splendida, departing Genoa, Italy. The ship calls at Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Tunis, Tunisia; Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France and Genoa, Italy. Prices start at £679 per person (based on Dec 21 departure), including transfers and return flights with British Airways from London. New Year cruise (departing December 28) starts at £849 per person.

Eastern Mediterranean: For a longer break, consider this 11-night sailing aboard the luxurious MSC Fantasia. The Eastern Med itinerary, departing Genoa, is great for guests you love a packed itinerary since it features multiple ports of call. The ship visits Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; Heraklion, Greece; Rhodes, Greece; Izmir (Ephesus), Turkey; Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Valletta, Malta; Messina, Sicily; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and Genoa. Prices start at £969 per person (based on December 16 departure) including return flights with British Airways from London and transfers.

Dubai, the Emirates and Oman: MSC Orchestra offers a seven-night Arabian Sea sailing this winter departing Dubai, UAE. The itinerary features calls at Abu Dhabi, Khor Al Fakkan, Muscat and Khasab and starts at £1,149 per person including return flights with Emirates from London, Manchester or Glasgow and transfers (based on December 20 departure). New Year cruise (departing December 27) starts at £1,299 per person.

Canary Islands & Madeira: Fresh from a £40 million lengthening and refit project, MSC Armonia sails the Canary Islands from November. For Christmas it offers a trip combining the best of the Canaries with the Portuguese isle of Madeira. The sailing (departing December 20) leaves Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, and calls at Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura; Funchal, Madeira; Santa Cruz, La Palma; Santa Cruz, Tenerife and Las Palmas. Prices start at £1,039 per person, including return flights from Manchester and transfers.

Caribbean: Guests in search of the ultimate break from the norm can indulge themselves on a two-week trip around the Caribbean on MSC Cruises’ spectacular megaship MSC Divina. Operating out of Miami, the luxurious vessel sails alternating seven-night itineraries that can be combined to make a seriously relaxing break from the British winter. Onboard attractions include a West End-sized theatre, award-winning Aurea Spa, splash park with sweeping water slide, F1 simulator and bowling alley. The 14-night Caribbean itinerary, departing December 13 2014, calls at Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Miami; Philipsburg, St Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Miami, and starts at £1,289per person including return flights to Miami with British Airways from London.

And remember, kids cruise free with MSC Cruises (paying only flights and port taxes).

For more information see or call 020 3426 3010.

© MSC Cruises

Good news! Britons behaving badly abroad reputation has improved

Let’s face it… us Brits don’t seem to have the best reputation abroad when it comes to our behaviour at holiday resorts. Yes, the majority of us are as good as gold and just keep ourselves to ourselves when away, but there are a few that let the side down. decided that they’d speak to hotel workers around the world. 500 hotel employees took part in total, from popular tourist destinations such as the Canary Islands, mainland SpainFranceTurkeyGreecePortugalMexicoItalyEgypt and the Balearic Islands. Everyone we spoke to had been at the same resort for at least three years.

65% of hotel workers think Britons are more generous with tips now

They asked those taking part asked to think about tourists from Britain that they had encountered whilst at work and asked to compare their interactions and opinions of those from the UK at the present time to their experiences from three years ago.

First of all, the people taking part were asked if British tourists were more or less generous with their tips to hotel staff than they were three years ago. 65% felt they were being tipped more generously by British holidaymakers now than they were three years ago; while 18% said ‘less generous’ and 17% said there had been ‘no change’.

Britons are ‘more polite’ holidaymakers than they were 3 years ago

Next, asked if the British holidaymakers they encountered were more or less polite than they were three years ago, to which the majority, 54%, said ‘more’. 35% said there hadn’t been a change in the politeness of Britons, while 11% said they seemed ‘less polite’.

When asked a similar question, but in relation to the general behaviour of Britons, 71% said they’d noticed an improvement in this department; whilst 12% said they hadn’t noticed a change and 17% said they’d noticed holidaymakers from Britain becoming more badly behaved.

Dutch holidaymakers are most pleasant to hotel staff

When asked which nationality was the most pleasant to deal with when they were on their holidays, the top five answers given were as follows:

1. Dutch – 21%

2. Britons – 16%

3. Germans – 13%

4. Spaniards – 11%

5. Irish – 8%

Despite politeness, tipping generosity and general behaviour having improved according to the majority of the hotel workers, our research revealed that the majority (52%) felt that Britons were ‘drinking in excess’ when on their holidays.

It’s great that holidaymakers from the UK are finally getting a better reputation abroad. For too long, we’ve been known for our overly patriotic outfits, our stingy tips and our 24-hour drinking culture. Well, perhaps we’re still known for our ability to put away ten pints before lunch, but at least hotel staff around the world have noticed a change and people are being more courteous – cheers to that!


Treat yourself…

We’ve pulled together three of our top well-being retreats – ideal for boosting your energy and enjoying some relaxation before the festive season kicks off in full force. From yoga in India to meditation in Greece, book up now for true peace of mind…

The Pomegranate, Fethiye, Turkey

Surrounded by fragrant flowers, fruit trees and vines, this charming little hotel in Fethiye boasts spectacular views of the dramatic coast of south-west Turkey. Putting yoga firmly at the top of the agenda, experienced yoga teachers visit between April and October and offer a variety of yoga styles including astanga and ivenger. Once you’ve worked up an appetite by perfecting your downward dog and warrior poses, you can enjoy tucking into locally sourced, fresh, mostly vegetarian tasty fare, cooked by the hotel’s friendly owners Siggi and Mickey. There’s also a lovely pool and Turkish bath. From April to October it’s generally warm enough to swim and the slightly cooler temperatures are ideal for energising but relaxing yoga practise, although it’s worth packing a layer of warmer clothing for evenings and early morning yoga during spring and autumn months.
From £655 to £895pp per week, including yoga, accommodation and food.
To check the weather in Fethiye, click here.

Serenity Retreat, Lefkada, Greece

Set up by Zen Buddhist meditation teacher Kim Bennett, Serenity Retreat offers retreat-style holidays, which take place from May on the picturesque island of Lefkada in Greece. Combining personal development courses with therapies, meditation sessions, excursions and guided walks, you’ll meet like-minded people while topping up on some serious R&R. October is one of the best months to visit for real peace and quiet and best of all – in true serene style – none of the courses start before 10am, plus they are all optional. Temperatures dwindle alongside the influx of tourists in Lefkada at this time of year, but it’s still pleasantly warm and dry with a daily average peak temperature of around 22°. From £379pp per week, including accommodation, transfers from most flights, a welcome lunch, guided meditations and walks. Food is self-catering.
01698 542787,
To check the weather in Lefkada, click here.

Yogashala, Kerala, India

Reconnect with your inner zen at this modest but welcoming place in Kovolam in Kerala ideally situated in a grove of swaying palm trees, a pebble’s throw from Lighthouse Beach. Owner Padma Nair offers group and private yoga classes on an airy rooftop platform – choose from sivananda, iyengar and ashtanga. Why not combine daily yoga classes with a 10-day programme of daily chavutti thirummal, the distinctive Indian foot massage, for truly transformative full body and mind bliss. Be sure to seek out Keralan cuisine, which is utterly delicious and features plenty of fresh fish, seafood, coconut and gentle spices. The Monsoon comes to an end this month, with enjoyably warm temperatures and sunshine replacing downpours. Expect a daily average high of around 30°C.
Dedicated yoga holidays are also available. Guests can stay in the simple Pink Flowers guesthouse, or Padma can help arrange more luxurious accommodation nearby. From £17pp per night for accommodation and yoga. +91 9895 882 915,
To check the weather in Kerala, click here.

Skyscanner’s Guide to Airport WiFi

If you’ve ever been stuck at an airport, you’ll know it can be a dull place, 71% of international travellers* consider free WiFi at airports either important or extremely important. Skyscanner has therefore compared the costs of WiFi at Europe’s busiest airports and listed the results.

Whether it’s to download a film before your flight, keep in touch with friends and family – like 33% of international travellers – or to update your social media feed with pictures from your trip, 96% of international travellers agree airports should provide free WiFi.

If you’re travelling to Turkey, France, Italy, Russia or Germany you will be glad to know that most of their main airports offer unlimited free WiFi. Unfortunately UK Airports fail in comparison with only Birmingham and London City airports giving travellers free unlimited WiFi and Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, only offering travellers a mere 45 minutes free Wi-Fi connection.

To prepare travellers with what to expect when passing through Europe’s 50 busiest airports** Skyscanner has put together an easy to read guide to airport WiFi, along with a guide to UK airports’ WiFi offering. Click here to see the guide.

© Skyscanner

*1,500 European Travellers

**European’s busiest airports by passenger numbers in 2013 according to








Turkey is located in south west Europe, surrounded by the Black Sea in the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south and west. It is famed for its miles of beautiful beaches, wide array of top class resorts and wealth of natural beauty and historical sites.

There are many reasons why Turkey is such a popular holiday destination. Flight times to Turkey from the UK are usually around four hours, so whether you are looking for a quick break or longer, more relaxing stay, it is ideal.

Turkey is such a diverse country; younger people come for the nightlife; families enjoy the wide range of convenient facilities on offer and culture vultures soak up the vast array of history in the area.

The range of accommodation reflects this, with self catering apartments, beachside hotels, and secluded all inclusive resorts catering to everybody’s need.

Turkey also enjoys a Mediterranean climate and so it is fairly mild all year round. However, the best time of year to visit is in the summer months of April to October. At this time you will find long hours of sunshine and warm temperatures awaiting you. The full range of accommodation is available to you, and tourist sites can be explored at their best.

Known as the ‘cradle of civilization’, Turkey’s history spans Hittites, Romans, Greeks, Ottomans and many more, and each culture left their mark on the country.

In Marmaris, you can see the castle on the site where a fortification has stood since 3000BC; the ancient city of Kaunos is also thought to date from this time, and the remains to be seen here include city walls, public baths, temples and an amphitheatre.

The ancient Kings of Kaunos were buried in the elaborate Lycian Rock Tombs, which are carved right into the sheer face of a cliff and are quite a sight to behold.

Other ancient ruins include Halicarnassus and the cities of Physkos and Amos in the Iyilik Kayaliklari Archaeological Park.

Of course, the main focus of any trip to Turkey will be the beautiful beaches, and they are certainly not in short supply!

Marmaris, in south west Turkey, is a very popular resort; located very close to a lot of tourist sites and boasting a man made beach close to all the amenities on offer, this is a great base for your holiday.

The Pandora Apartments are a favourite with holiday makers as they offer self catering accommodation right in the heart of the city. With ease of access to shops, bars, restaurants and the beach, this is ideal for a flexible holiday.

If you’re a party animal then you’d be in your element staying at Hotel Honeymoon – located as it is very close the most popular nightclubs in the area!

Families would be comfortable at the Mustis Royal Plaza. This family run hotel is located in the quieter suburb of Armutalan and features an on-site restaurant and regular Turkish nights with live music.

Further north up the coast you will find the resorts of Gumbet and Bodrum. Gumbet Beach is a 600m sandy peninsula located right next to a range of amenities, and Bodrum Beach offers similar facilities – however, both beaches can become very crowded. If you fancy something more secluded, head to the beaches at Torba, Gundogan and Bitez.

The Aegean Gate Hotel is popular in this area, being located close to the centre of Bodrum but far enough away to not be disturbed by noise in the evenings. The bar, restaurant and swimming pool are also on-site for you to enjoy.

El Vino Hotel offers a mix of self catering apartments and hotel accommodation. Open all year round, you can enjoy the view over Bodrum with ease of access to the town centre.

Whether you are staying in Gumbet, Bodrum, Marmaris or Dalyan, you are extremely near to the mecca of Pamukale. Here you can take a dip in natural mud baths that are extremely nourishing for your skin – a perfect, natural way to revitalise your complexion!

And for the ultimate in relaxation, no trip to Turkey would be complete without a trip to a Hammam, or Turkish bath, where you can be treated with a scrub and stone massage before relaxing in a sauna.

On the other side of Turkey, popular areas to stay are the coastal areas Antalya, Side and Alanya.

The Mesut Hotel in Alanya is right by Kleopatra Beach and offers all inclusive accommodation with buffet style meals in the restaurant.

The Semoris Hotel in Side is ideal for families. Located just 2km from the centre of town, it is close to the action yet secluded enough to be peaceful. On-site there are several bars, a buffet style restaurant and a playground and swimming pool for the kids.

Or the for the ultimate in family relaxation, head to the Selcukhan Hotel in Kemer, where you can drop the children off at the kids’ club while you relax with a trip to the Turkish bath, Jacuzzi and sauna!

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