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If you still can’t fasten your trousers from piling in the turkey yesterday, now is the time to stew on the couch and switch on the Tele (and dig into some Quality Street). But if you don’t feel like watching the Christmas episode of the Flintstones for the fifteenth time, maybe you’ll enjoy some of these ‘holiday’ TV shows with a difference. Here is our pick of the top ten travel TV shows (including one epic fail). Happy boxing day!
An Idiot Abroad
Karl Pilkington’s travel plans lie in the hands of his ex-radio show host colleagues, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Pilkington’s indifference to seeing the world is mocked by Gervais and Merchant who make him do just that, only with an enormous list of crazy things to do (while they sit back and watch from the comfort of their London office). Expect activities that vary from being dropped into the Amazon jungle and told he has to survive to climbing Mount Fuji.
Around The World In 80 Days
In 2001, the BBC produced this seven episode series, which follows Monty Python star Michael Palin, on an attempt to become a Jules Verne’s hero. Palin aims to match the route of his fictional predecessor by circling the globe in 80 days without the use of modern air transportation. Palin is responsive, intelligent, candid and most importantly, hilarious, as he creates a journey filled with fascinating encounters – TV gold.
Stephen Fry in America
Stephen Fry, a man of many talents (he is an actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, and comedian), journeys through America in a traditional London cab. Beginning in Maine, he drives through the lower 48 states, before flying to Alaska and Hawaii. However, far from your typical travel TV show, Fry’s interpretation is as honest and endearing as the man himself, and full of his usual tongue in cheek humour of course.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony’s Bourdain’s No Reservations has moderately redeemed the Travel Channel for years of inane broadcasting. Bourdain, whose wickedly funny commentary is the greatest thing about the whole show, visits a series of disparate destinations including Iceland, Vietnam and New Jersey. His unfiltered take on local foods and atypical typical tourist activities makes for a personality-driven show, but then what else could you expect from the world’s leading punk chef novelist?
Globe Trekker has filmed over 130 episodes and is hosted by a total of 26 people, offering a unique feel depending on which host appears in each episode. The show acts as a tour guide through a series of destinations, with a huge amount of time and effort put into each well thought out, well edited episode.
The Amazing Race
A reality TV show with a difference, the contestants on The Amazing Race are racing the globe in both famous and offbeat locales.
Adventurer Bruce Parry, a former Royal Marine, is followed as he goes in search of knowledge from supposedly ‘primitive’ peoples around the world. He lives with a tribe for at least a month, learning everything about their lives – even their language. At the end of each episode, there’s genuine regret and often tears as he parts with the tribe, making for bona fide armchair travel.
Departures began when three friends were talking about travel shows and decided that they could make something better. Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach leave all familiarities behind and set out into the beyond. Expect incredible cinematography and an authentic, personal approach to travel. The show has won three Gemini Awards and with just one look at the landscapes presented, you’ll understand why.
Another one from Michael Palin, this time he makes an epic journey around the Pacific Rim from the Arctic, coastal Asia, Australia, Antarctica, South America, North America and back. As is the norm from Palin, it is he that makes the series so memorable, admirable and relatable.
Boozed up Brits Abroad (epic fail)
On the other hand, shows such as Boozed Up Brits Abroad are a cold, cruel reality check for those living in the UK. If you enjoy feeling embarrassed by your nation, this is the show for you. Expect to see profane language, nudity and of course, lots of vomiting.
Hen nights abroad are increasingly popular these days; there are so many great places to choose from, you can top up your tan before the big day and lets face it – you can get royally smashed without having to worry about bumping into an ex-boyfriend or your boss.
We spoke with one bride, Janine who spent her hen night in the most popular destination to do so – Amsterdam. From the crazy outfits to losing members on the group, she tells us why a hen night Amsterdam weekend will be an epic one for you.
Purple Travel: Why did you decide to spend your hen night in Amsterdam?
Janine: The second we got engaged, or at least within the minute I called Amsterdam for the hen party before Arky, my fiance, could call it for the stag do. He had been before, several times and loved it whereas I had never and, well, fair’s fair – it was my turn.
A girly weekend away with lots of booze and little or no sleep would be just what the doctor ordered to break up the long months of staying in, saving to pay for the big day.
It wasn’t so much the sampling of the smokey cafes and their exquisite muffins as much as the relaxed feel I always thought Amsterdam would have. The exact opposite of what the UK’s hen/stag hotspots have to offer (apart from the weather of course).
So, smug from “winning” Amsterdam, even though I kind of spoiled the romance of the proposal with my “Yes! I call the Dam” reply, I started to worry a little if all of the girls would be up for it, that it might be too expensive, or that some may feel it was more of a laddish venue.
Purple Travel: Did you find it was more difficult to round up your hens to travel abroad than to have a night out back home?
Janine: I actually found that the girls were VERY up for the weekend away, a couple raised an eyebrow at Amsterdam as first thoughts always turn to the Red Light District and the pot smoking reputation, but if it’s your do it’s your choice and eighteen of us travelled in all.
Purple Travel: Did your plans change when you arrived there? For example, was the Anne Frank museum at the top of your list before you arrived, but then you found you never left the cafes when you actually got there?
Janine: On the night of our arrival, Friday, we were made to feel so welcome by the locals, despite our noisy arrival. The Police at the railway station even staged my “arrest” and handcuffed me once they clocked the classy veil I was given to wear in the airport bar pre-flight. Indeed I was very well looked after in the bars that night also – if I stepped near to a bar the bartender would pour 2 shots, one for me and one for them.
The next morning the city looked so calm and classy I wondered if we would be frowned upon dressed as pixies, nymphs and fairies, but we once again felt welcome wherever we went. I just had to see the Red Light District and was surprised I didn’t feel shock, as the sights to be seen are certainly a world away from what we know. The area holds a vibrant atmosphere where you truly will meet all sorts, but everywhere and everyone were as chilled as can be, and the friendly locals and regulars were happy to direct us to the best bars and clubs where we were able to drink and dance til dawn.
I have to honest, there were no museums or homes of historical interest on the must-see list, but we did split up on the last day into smaller groups for a mooch around this beautiful city. For me this was my cafe day, dressed down and taking in as much as I could in what little time we had left. I do regret a little not finding time to look beyond the party side of Amsterdam, but that just means I’ll have to go again.
The first in our new bi-weekly series of the best holidays reads. This week, we’re obsessed with the French and their chic, innovative style of writing. Impress your fellow holidayers with some of the best Parisian exports around, all you need know is a black coffee, un macaron pistache and a high-held nose. Ooh la la…
Whether it’s a wheelie suitcase, an over the shoulder or a bunch of plastic bags sellotaped together (ed’s note, we don’t recommend this) it’s hard to get everything you need for a holiday to fit.We all know the feeling of hopping up on and down on the case to make sure it closes and the frustration when it doesn’t. So we’ve got some super tips for anyone jetting off for a bit of sunshine!
- Make a list. It’s a good place to start so you can tick off what you’ve packed and know you won’t have forgotten anything.
- Be ruthless! You might have been saving up a nice top, or jacket for a special occasion, it doesn’t get any more special than a holiday so if you’re absolutely sure you’ll wear it, bring it. If not, then chuck it. Most people take far too many clothes with them, and you might get the bargain of a lifetime on your holiday!
- Roll it up. This is a tip from cabin crew, who, let’s face it; know what they are talking about. Rolling your clothes saves space and stops creasing.
- Remember to check your airports rules on flying with liquids and maybe invest in some travel containers. The general rule is liquids of no more than 100ml are allowed in hand luggage and must be placed in a clear plastic bag. Usually you can pick these bags up at the airport. Keep these in an outer pocket of your bag, or with your hand luggage, so you can easily access it going through security. You can always pick up some shampoo and shower gel when you arrive.
- Wear a pair of trainers for extra comfiness (yes, we like to make up words around here!) on your flight and pack your flat sandals and wedges/shoes in your case. You can tuck small items like socks inside your shoes to save room and keep them in shape.
- If you’re really worried about the weight of your case, you should recheck what you’re bringing, do you really need everything? And weigh your bag to make sure you’re not over the standard 15kg check in limit of most airlines.
- Wear your heaviest clothes, e.g. a jumper or coat on the flight for a little extra warmth and to spare room in your bag.
- Think layers, a couple of t-shirts you can throw over your bikini, a light cardigan or pashmina for evenings.
Remember, you’re going on holidays! Bring clothes you’re comfy in and enjoy wearing. Now you know how to pack like a pro and you’ll be jetting off to the sun in no time!
Anyone who has flown before usually has some tricks for staying comfortable and distracted, so we decided to put them all together in one handy place, so you can print them out and have the best flight ever! As always, if you have any more, we’d love to hear them.
So, here goes, as always, we’d love to hear if you have anymore, just add your comment below.
- Drink plenty of water; it’s the only way to keep hydrated in the pressurised atmosphere of a plane. Steer clear of coffee or tea and stick to water to stay feeling tip-top!
- Reading material: always bring a couple of magazines or books with you and try to bring more than you think you’ll need. Inevitably there’s a little extra waiting around and there’s nothing worse than staring at the other passengers for excitement (unless that’s what you’re into!)
- Bring something to entertain yourself. A great choice is a tablet computer, like an ipad, on which you can watch movies, listen to music, or play games (all with the aid of headphones, so you don’t upset your neighbours!)
- Take a little stroll around the cabin; this is quite important especially on longer flights. There are some exercises you can do from your seat, but it’s hard to beat a walk around the cabin and a couple of stretches to make you feel a little better.
- Bring a toothbrush! It’s always nice to give yourself a quick refresh and cleanup before landing; it’ll help you feel better and is quite nice for anyone you’re meeting at the other side too.
- Don’t check the time! You can’t do anything to get to your destination faster and it will only make you feel a bit frustrated.
Everyone’s been through it, that awkward moment; you’re stuck on a flight next to a chatterbox, when all you want to do is have a snooze. You do that not-so subtle thing of sticking in your headphones and hope for the best. Well now, a couple of airlines are introducing ‘social seating’ so you can use your Facebook to pick who you’ll sit beside.
We hear airlines like Air France, Malaysia Airline and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are planning on the move. ‘Social seating’ will enable you to browse the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles of people on your flight and see what you’ve got in common. We think they want you to check out their pictures; see what their interests are and then you can decide if you want to sit next to them.
It will probably be geared a little more to the business audience, people who want to talk management or strategy, but it’s easy to see how it could catch on. So, we’ve been having a little chat about it here and we think it’s definitely got a lot of positives, but what happens if someone you know requests a seat next to you and you’re not exactly thrilled about it?
Maybe you’d be a little more interested in ‘antisocial seating’? An airline called AirAsia is giving customers the option to take up all the seats beside them. For a price you’ll be able to stretch out across three seats or simple ensure the one right beside you is free. You’ll be notified a few hours before – and if there are no spare seats you’ll get a refund.
We’d love to know what you think. Are you a social or antisocial sitter!? Tell us what you reckon in the comments section.
You’ve finally bit the bullet and invested in an iPhone (possibly even your second or third) – so what next? So many things you can do with it, where do you even start? Well, if you’re going on holiday in the near future – then you’ve just officially made yourself a valuable travel companion! To get through all the noise, here are the top apps you need to get before you leave on holiday.
1. Photo Editing & Sharing
Your iPhone has an incredible capability to take photos. Whenever on holiday, taking photos of your experiences is as essential as packing (if not more so)! Aside from the built-in features, investing in some extra apps to help you edit and share your photos will ensure they end up perfect. For editing try CameraBag to brighten, sharpen, crop, and add filters to your photos almost instantly. Use Pano to capture those incredible views in Panoramic images. PixelPipe is an amazing app for sharing your photos with your friends – it is linked to over 50 supported sites (including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and WordPress) and even lets you add geotags to your photos so you can keep track of exactly where each photo was taken.
2. Language Translation
Jibbigo is an application that promises to take all the hand-gestures and guesswork out of trying to communicate in another language. All you do is say what you want to say and it says is back to you in the language of your choice! No typing required. Right now it’s available for English to Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic… hopefully with many more on the way. If you are looking for a greater set of language translation options, try iSpeak. Although you need to type what you want to say, an audio playback feature will help you get the words just right and is available in most European languages with more to come.
3. Restaurant Locations & Reviews
The next time you’re drifting about a busy resort wondering what “looks like” a good place to eat, all you need to do is pick up your phone. Zagat to Go gives you access to thousands of restaurant ratings and reviews, including descriptions and price guides. Chances are you’ll only be in the area for a week or two at the most, so it’s best to get it right as soon as possible and save your taste buds – and your wallet.
4. Trip Planning
From airport departure times and delays, estimated landing times and alternate flights, to parking availability, baggage claims, airline contacts and weather – TripCase has your entire travel itinerary needs in one neat little package. To sort out all the fun things you want to do while on holiday (alphabetically, by importance, cost, location & more) and store contact numbers and locations with ease, try GlobeTrot on for size.
It goes without saying that there are so many options out there that it may be possible we missed a couple travel apps worth sharing. If you have any suggestions, we would definitely like to know!
There are so many holiday companies nowadays doing so many different things that getting through all the names and their roles in your holiday booking can be extremely gruesome. This is especially true when you have a complaint to make about your hotel or you’re looking for compensation of some sort. This article intends to help you get through all the jargon and show you how it works. We’ll start from the beginning.
Travel Comparison Websites
If you’re doing an initial holiday search, chances are you’re using one of the many travel comparison website available online. These are websites like Teletext Holidays, Icelolly, Travelzoo, Travel supermarket, Kelkoo, Lastminute.com and many more. When you search these websites, the offers advertised are actually those of other companies and are not provided, organized or booked directly through the travel comparison website. All the offers you see are only advertisements for other travel agents or tour operators. When you call the number on the ads or click on a link, you are directed to the travel agency or tour operator who will give you the details and book the holiday for you.
Travel agents come in many shapes and sizes. From your local independent travel shops around the corner, to your large travel agents like Hays Travel (Hays Travel is also our “parent” company – we work with them and other independent agents to get the best discounts and pass them on to you).
Travel Agents work like brokers, with access to all kinds of flights, hotels, tours, and tour operator packaged holidays. We work with commissions and discounts from these tour operators and various other suppliers that we can pass to the customer, meaning you get better prices than going straight to the source. Travel Agents are also helpful because they can provide you with a wide range of product availability and are not limited to booking with just one company.
Tour Operators come in many shapes and sizes as well. The big ones are Thomas Cook, Thomson, and Cosmos. There are, however, other tour operators that provide great deals on specialty holidays. Tour Operators sell their holidays to Travel Agents with a discount and can also sell their holidays directly to you, the customer. If you go directly to Thomas Cook, for example, you will only be able to get the flights and hotels available through Thomas Cook and no one else. If you book a Thomas Cook holiday through a Travel Agent, chances are you’ve paid less for it and gone through all the different holiday options before settling on a Thomas Cook package.
Tour Operators like Thomas Cook offer flight-only and accommodation-only bookings as well, so it is very possible when you book through a Travel Agent, that you can be flying with Thomson because the flights are cheaper or more convenient and still stay in your preferred Thomas Cook hotel. The main difference between a Tour Operator and a Travel Agent is that Tour Operators often have their own flights and hotel contracts that have been paid in advance and are theirs, while Travel Agents purchase the available spaces one at a time and at the same time you book your holiday.
Bed Banks & Transfer Suppliers
Beds Banks & Transfer Suppliers are companies that provide only accommodation and/or transfers and nothing else. Some examples include Low Cost Beds, Alpha Rooms, You Travel, A2B Transfers and many, MANY more. These companies work in a few different ways. Mainly, they contract hotels and transfers either from a local (i.e. on location) broker or directly with the various hotels they provide. Because they contract large amounts of rooms, they often achieve great prices for accommodation and pass them on to you or to a Travel Agent with commission (even bigger savings for you).
Low Cost Airlines
Low Cost Airlines are just that, low cost. They don’t get any lower in cost and do not offer commissions for travel agents with discounts on flights or extras. Travel Agents can include a low cost airline in your holiday booking and still have your holiday financially protected. This is especially important if you are considering booking each holiday element separately and on your own. Booking each element on your own (not through a Travel Agent) affords you the least financial protection on your purchase and could potentially end up costing you hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Local Handling Agents
These are the agents who will be there, on location, while you are on holiday. They offer the hotel or transfer contracts to your tour operators, bed banks, and transfer suppliers. If you have a transfer booked through A2B Transfers, for example, you need to look for the local handling agent’s name (written on the voucher) when you get to your destination airport.
How This Affects You
Let us say that you’ve booked your holiday with us (a Travel Agent) and the food and service at the hotel is just unbearable. (By the way, we try not to sell these kinds of properties and we do this by asking our customers for their feedback – which is always appreciated). You complain to the hotel reception and they tell you to phone us. Once you call us, we need to send your complaint to the Bed Bank or Tour Operator who we booked your hotel with (since you are our customers, and we are their customers, you usually cannot contact the supplier directly). That Bed Bank or Tour Operator, depending on how they’ve contracted the specific hotel, will contact the local handling agent to pass along your complaint and come up with a solution and a response.
Although this process is time-consuming, we always work with our suppliers to develop better and faster ways of resolving problems. For emergencies, the number of the local handling agent is always on your vouchers. This is the same for any component of your holiday, whether it is booked as a package from one Tour Operator or as a “Dynamic Package” through many suppliers.
Rain, rain, go away; come again another day! The season has come again where this will be true for many more days to come. Since you have to deal with the rain anyway, there should be ways of making the best out of it. Now, we are a travel company, so obviously our first piece of advice would be to book the first flight to a sunny destination. If that’s not an option, however, there are other things you can do to make the most of the rainy day. You certainly can’t beat the rain, so just join it!
1. Go Swimming
This may seem like an unpleasant way of spending your time, but don’t knock it until you try it! Visit your nearest beach for incredible surfing or the nearest outdoor pool. The water will seem warm compared with the outside temperature, and you’ll feel much better about getting wet from the rain. Make sure to take dry clothes and a towel with you and stay away when there’s lightning in the air!
2. Splash in the Puddles
Your kids will love you! Sport your wellies and some water-proof clothes and go splashing in the rain. There is no better feeling than letting go of your initial urge to run away. Take turns to see who can make a bigger splash and get each other as wet as possible.
3. Picture Marathon
If enjoying the great outdoors on a rainy day just sounds a bit too crazy for you, grab your kids or your favourite person and go on a picture marathon. Head to your local pictures and see all those films that you’ve been aching to see and haven’t had time. Then, see the ones you weren’t so crazy about but sound interesting. It’s not like you have a job, right? If you don’t have much time to kill, just see the one. Rainy days at the pictures are always delightful. If you really don’t feel like heading out of the house at all, there is always the traditional curl-up-on-the-couch-with-hot-chocolate option.
4. Cozy Café
Take your best friend or lover to a cozy café and curl up with your favourite hot beverage next to the window. Watching the rain come down from a warm and comfy place will go far to brighten up your rainy-day mood.
5. Go Somewhere Sunny
We can’t help it. Seriously, this is the best and most effective solution in the books. Whether it’s for just a few days or two or three weeks, there is nothing better than getting away from the rainy weather and following the sunshine – and while you’re at it, you’ll win the envy of all your friends back home.