Tag - Advice

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Turkey Top 5
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Top Destinations for Weddings
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World’s Sharkiest Beaches… Swim at Your Own Risk!
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Top Tips: Gran Canaria beaches
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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

Turkey Top 5

Turkey is easily one of the most popular summer holiday destinations for Purple Travelers.  Its combination of stunning beaches, quaint seaside resorts, ethnic cuisine, and rock-bottom prices, make Turkey the destination of choice for British holidaymakers. If you’re thinking of travelling to Turkey this summer, or have already planned to return, we’ve come up with some of the most spectacular things to do while you’re there.

Pamukkale thermal pools via purple travel

1.  Pamukkale Thermal Pools

If you do only one excursion during your stay in the Bodrum Peninsula, this is definitely it. This rare formation of thermal pools high in the mountainous region is said to heal asthma, rheumatism, and even skin and eye conditions. In case that’s not enough to convince you, the stunning views and the photos you’ll be able to bring back home should certainly do it. Pamukkale image via @ Esther Lee

Gulet cruise via purple travel

2.  Gulet Cruise

The best way to experience everything the Turkish coast has to offer is by taking a Gulet Cruise, also known as the Blue Cruise. Starting in the port of Bodrum and travelling as far as Antalya, these cruises will take you through stunning bays, busy ports, ancient cities, and secluded coves. A little research in advance is well worth it, as these cruises are different and may stop in different places of interest. Keep your eyes out for those stopping at Kaputas Cove and Patara Beach. Gulet Cruise Image via @ Turkey Vision.

Ephesus via purple travel

3.  Ruins of Ephesus

One of the most-visited archeological sites in Turkey, the ancient ruins are certainly a sight to see if you’re staying near Kusadasi. Ephesus was home to one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, and still is a significant point of culture, religion, and history. Image of Ephesus via @ Esther Lee.

Mamure Kalesi via Purple Travel

4.  Mamure Kalesi

This castle fortress located on the southernmost tip of Turkey, is a magnificent sight. Home to the Romans, Crusaders, and Ottomans throughout the centuries, it stands as though it was livable just last week. Although it’s about 5 hours from the nearest tourist resort of Alanya, it is the ideal getaway for a swim at sunset. Image of Mamure Kalesi via @ Dr. Colleen Morgan.

Ballooning in Cappadocia

5. Ballooning in Cappadocia

The area of Cappadocia is hugely popular with tourists, who visit it to examine its history, geological and historic landscape. But really, the way to see it is by hot air balloon and is available in Goreme. This will give you a true birds-eye view of the incredible landscape. Image via @ Moyan Brenn.

Of course, there are many other sights to see in Turkey that we didn’t go into more detail about and are sure to be a memorable experience on your trip. Definitely go to one of the many Turkish markets in your resort, or the Turkish Nargile (Water Pipe) Bars.  There are many archeological sites and castles scattered throughout the coastal region worth visiting. If you’re still deciding on where to go in Turkey, do some research on what you want to see before you book and stay in the area with the most places of interest to you. A good place to start is Trip Advisor’s Thing to Do in Turkey  page.  Have you been to see these, or any other sites, yourself? If so, please post your feedback and your suggestions for our readers!

For more on things to do in Turkey and the best value flights, hotels and transfers, get in touch with our expert team at Purple Travel here.

Top Destinations for Weddings

With the Royal Wedding around the corner, we got to thinking about how we “regular people” can tie the knot in an unforgettable way. Of course, the common thing to do is get married in England. However, for those who are more adventurous (and perhaps a bit less picky about the little details), destination weddings are definitely the answer. Of course, choosing the right destinations for weddings is half the battle, so we decided to narrow the list for you. We chose the best and most romantic wedding destinations from across the globe and give them to you here, in a neat and tidy package.

Mexico

Mexico is the most popular wedding destination for many reasons. The stunning beaches are surrounded by turquoise sea and the weather is hot and sunny. What separates Mexico from the rest is the vast choice of accommodation. The coastline is home to hundreds of excellent quality, all inclusive hotels, all vying for a piece of the wedding pie (or cake!). Mexico is also available at a fraction of the cost of some other popular wedding destinations, making it the ideal choice without a huge burden on the wallet.

Jamaica

This lush island is home to all kinds of natural beauty. Stunning beaches turn into lush mountains and mountains to waterfalls. Jamaica is home to more all-inclusive hotels than anywhere else in the Caribbean, which makes it the ideal choice for wedding parties and honeymoons. All that’s left is to walk down the aisle to the beat of reggae.

Dominican Republic

The south side of the Dominican Republic, known as Punta Cana, is a wonderful destination for a romantic wedding. Unlike its Northern counterpart (Puerto Plata), Punta Cana captures the serenity and beauty of the Caribbean Sea. Turquoise waters and endless stretches of white sand beaches lined with plenty of luxury all-inclusive hotels makes for the perfect wedding destination. Bring your snorkeling gear!

Greece

If you’re looking for a gorgeous destination wedding that certainly won’t hurt the wallet, look no further than the Greek Islands. Stunning beaches and beautiful scenery can be enjoyed only a short flight away, with an abundance of All Inclusive options to keep everyone in your party entertained. You may even find enough of your budget left over to take a second honeymoon!

Hawaii

Although the flight is very long no matter where in the world you are, the beauty of Hawaii is very well worth it. Besides being one of the most stunning, serene, and romantic destinations on the planet, it offers all the modern conveniences you could ever imagine. Slightly more strenuous on the wallet than the other places listed, a destination wedding in Hawaii promises to be one of the most memorable experiences of your entire life – certainly not to be confused with an every-day holiday. You will have a great excuse to go back to celebrate those many special anniversaries.

World’s Sharkiest Beaches… Swim at Your Own Risk!

With the tragic passing of 4 tourists in Sharm El Shiekh, the Egyptian Red Sea Riviera, we are left wondering where else we may be in danger of encountering a Jaws-like shark attack. Although we have been told that it is quite rare for a shark to attack a person, we have recently had a rude awakening. Egypt is not included on this list, as the Shark attacks there are actually much less frequent than in other areas around the world – some that have even more beach traffic than Egypt. Just have a look at the world’s sharkiest beaches. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Sharkiest beachesImage via @ Marco Verch

South Africa

Some consider this beautiful country, on the southern tip of this great continent, the Shark Capital of the world. Most notably, Gansbaai (or “Shark Alley”) has become a shark tourist attraction for those wanting to visit the greatest collection of Great White Sharks on the planet. Certainly not the place for a casual swim! Kosi Bay is another shark-infested destination, with the incredibly aggressive Zambezi sharks swimming well inland… in fresh water! Just a short distance from Kosi Bay, you will find Umhlanga Rocks, an incredibly picturesque beach resort. Umhlanga Rocks is home to a deadly combination of Great Whites and Zambezi (or Bull Sharks) but you can feel a little bit safer swimming here because the beach is protected by fish netting in the water. Swim at your own risk.

United States

The New Smyrna Beach, in Florida, is known as the Shark Attack Capital of the world. That’s right – with hundreds of holidaymakers and surfers making frequent visits to these shark-infested waters, you can be sure that the attacks will be very frequent! Although the sharks in this area are much less aggressive, they can still attack humans by accident – which happens quite often. Can you blame them? A surfer floating in the water can seem like a very appealing mid-day meal. Along the opposite coast, Bolinas is a small beach town in Northern California, home to a very large population of Great Whites. Because of the surfer culture in these cold waters, food for the sharks is plentiful. Stay far away.

Australia

Gorgeous climate, incredible coral reef, and an ecosystem of natural wonders, Australia is home to one of the largest populations of Sharks on the planet. Bondi Beach, easily the most popular beach on Australia’s coast, is also the most vulnerable to shark attacks. Although plenty of netting is in place to protect bathers from the threat, it is certainly not 100% safe.

Other Shark Destinations

Some other notable Shark infested areas to watch out for include Recife in Brazil, Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua, and Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar. Always keep in mind that your risk of getting into a car accident is much higher than being attacked by a shark, although swimming in any of these waters will certainly put you some danger. Always consult the professionals on duty in the area and make sure to travel with health insurance if you insist on taking your chances. Swim safe!

Top Tips: Gran Canaria beaches

The third entry in our 4-part series on the best beaches of the Canary Islands highlights the splendor of Gran Canaria beaches, the largest of the group.best beaches gran canaria

Playa de Las Canteras 

Considered one of the best beaches in Spain, Playa de Las Canteras boasts 3000 meters of golden sand and calm waters. The beach has a very good range of facilities for the entire family with restaurants, bars, and shopping in the direct vicinity. For the snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, the coral reef protecting the beach is about 2km for the shore. Something for everyone means windsurfers and body boarders will love it as well. Located in Las Palmas, this is the best and busiest beach on the island.

Playa de Maspalomas

Sand. Miles of sand. This is Playa de Maspalomas, home of the famous sand dunes of Gran Canaria. Stretching for 12km is a nature reserve of soft golden sands that leads down to the sea. This is a very busy beach as well, with different areas for families and nudists. Watersports enthusiasts will enjoy the winds in the as well. Hint: don’t bring anything to this beach you don’t want getting sand on.

Playa del Inglés

If you continue down the coast of Maspalomas, you will arrive at the highly organized and very busy Playa Del Ingles beach. This beach has plenty of facilities for everyone and quite a bit less sand than Maspalomas, which makes it more accessible to the surrounding restaurants, bars, and shops.

Playa de Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico beach is man-made and filled with white sand. Shaped to resist the winds, the waters are turquoise and calm as a result. This beach is very well organized and has all the amenities to make your stay both relaxing and entertaining. Ideal for families.

Playa Meloneras

On the other side of the Maspalomas beach is the beach of Meloneras, home to the outstanding H10 Playa Meloneras Palace. This is also a busy beach with golden sands, calm waters, and characteristically windy for this side of the island.

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.

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