Category - Travel Tips

Find all the tips and advice you need with our handy online travel tips, created by the experts. Ensure you have the perfect holiday by reading our advice on how to pack, where to find the best deals and even which suncream to wear – Purple Travel

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Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhone
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Explore: Holiday Companies Explained
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Top 5 Things to Do on a Rainy Day
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Top 5 Long-Duration Getaways to Skip the British Winter
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Purple Travel Video Invasion Day 10
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Purple Travel Video Invasion Day 9
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The Culture of Alcohol
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Holidays: Cultural Dining… Taste the Experience

Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhone

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 travel apps for iPhone 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Explore: Holiday Companies Explained

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

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

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.

Top 5 Things to Do on a Rainy Day

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.

Top 5 Long-Duration Getaways to Skip the British Winter

Winter in the UK is cold, grey and wet. Definitely a good excuse to stay in the office. If you have the luxury to be able to leave, though, these are definitely the best and most popular places to hibernate and escape the winter blues..

1. Spain.

An all-time British favorite, Spain offers amazing value for long-term getaways in an environment that caters distinctively to the British. It’s like home away from home – with better weather and cheaper food. Mainland Spain and the Balearics, such as Majorca and Ibiza, have much milder temperatures in the off-season months than the UK and you can even end up spending less than you would if you stayed home! The best part about it is that you’re no further than a 3-hour flight from the British cold – in case you ever want to go back, that is.

2. Florida.

Take advantage of the almighty Pound compared to the US Dollar and spend a month or more in the USA’s favorite laid-back state. Florida has something for everyone, whether you’re retired, have a family, or want to party all night…and they speak English! Prices on flights out of the UK are quite moderate (you are crossing the ocean) and once you get there, accommodation is very cheap! You can have a villa or apartment to yourself for peanuts. If you feel adventurous, internal flights are cheap as well – go to New York, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles just for the weekend.

3. Australia.

Australians go backpacking through Europe. Europeans go backpacking through Australia. It’s just the thing to do…and they speak English! The Pound will go far in Australia also, although the flights can be quite pricey. If you haven’t been to visit your second-cousins half way around the world, you definitely should. Australia is blessed with warm climate, beautiful beaches, and very friendly people. Australians celebrate their Christmas and New Year on the beach, since the seasons are opposite from the UK. No wonder it’s such a great place for you to hibernate the winter away.

4. Thailand. Indonesia (Bali). India.

Exotic, hot, and CHEAP. Sorry, they don’t speak much English. Spend a month or more immersing yourself in an amazing cultural experience surrounded by breathtaking natural surroundings. Better yet, choose one a year or, even better, one a month! These are developing countries that have a lot to offer. Pleasant and luxurious hospitality is available at prices you would have to see to believe. Jump on the “eat-pray-love” trend and go on a Yoga retreat. So many options, so little time…

5. Europe.

Yes, Spain fits in here also, but we reserved this space for all the other wonderful destinations you can take advantage of in the winter months that are just around the corner. Europe has many popular, and cheap, places to get away on a long-term holiday. Among the favorites are Portugal, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Croatia. Each of these countries has a distinct character and personality to offer – along with an unforgettable experience.

The Culture of Alcohol

Drinking is a part of the culture in the UK, pubs are the best places to go and socialise, catch up on gossip and watch the match of the day on the TV, all while having a pint or two, or three, or so on….

Holidays are no different, as the number of people choosing All Inclusive (AI) hotels proves that even whilst abroad, people still want to have alcohol to end (or in some cases begin!) the day with.

In case you don’t know, AI means that free drinks, snacks and even ice cream are served throughout the day, not just at mealtimes. There are varying types of AI, which tell you exactly when they are served. While it is all day, most hotels do not allow free alcohol after midnight, so do check with your hotel before trying for an all night booze up!

To keep costs down, hotels don’t always give away popular drinks all the time, since they are fairly expensive to import. Instead they tend to use drinks that are either brewed locally or imported from nearby. Though it isn’t your normal pint at the pub, their own local flavours are worth trying.

Here is quick list of the different types and brands of local alcoholic drinks that you may get to sample at your hotel or resort. This doesn’t include the small shots you can get in every bar, since those are everywhere, but for the more sedate pace of drinking a can of beer, or glass of wine.

In Tenerife, they have a beer called Dorada which is exclusive to the island, and comes in three varieties, Dorada Pils (normal alcohol level), Dorada Pils (strong), and Dorada Sin (alcohol free). The neighbouring island of Gran Canaria has its own beer by the name of Tropical, and as the two islands are so close to each other, both beers can be found on either one.

The Canary Islands also have their own wine thanks to their climate, and asking for the house wine for a meal is not a bad choice at all. Red wine is more common here too, and may even be chilled, good for those boiling summer days!

Egypt, despite being a Muslim country, is fairly tolerant of foreigners drinking alcohol, and so they have a large selection available. The most common beer which can be found in almost every bar is known as Stella (yes, similar name, but this isn’t related to the Artois family). Two more varieties, Stella Export and then Stella Premium have higher alcohol levels. A European brand called Meister, licensed for and produced in Egypt is also available and Meistar Max, another type, has the highest alcohol level for beer in Egypt, good if you want a quick dizziness spell!

For the wine lover, there are some that try to capture the taste from the ancient Egyptian days, these include Omar Khayyam, Cru Des Ptolmees, Rubis D’Egypte and Abarkai. They’re called Giancils types of wines, so ask for one if you’re interested.

Greece is famous for Ouzo, highly alcohol with the taste of aniseed, thus giving licorice-haters less to drink. However there are other drinks too. For beer there is Mythos, the most famous out of all the brands, and is easy to find. Retsina is a white wine that can be served with a meal, however house wine does taste good on the whole.

Overall, a huge variety which should move you away from your current tipple of choice. You’re sure to get a hangover if you overdose on them too much, but then you can rely on your own methods to clear your head. The levels of alcohol vary so do check the amount before beginning another round at the bar. Be sure to follow the law with regards to drinking age, and drink responsibly. Ending up in a police cell or even a medical clinic overnight does not make for a good vacation!

So, happy holidays, cheers, and bottoms-up!

Holidays: Cultural Dining… Taste the Experience

Holidays abroad can be a chance to try something just a little different to what you’re used to at home. Whether you’re in a five star, all inclusive hotel, or just a two star self-catering apartment, no matter what, at some point, you’ll want to eat!

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