Holiday hire: 9 advantages of renting a vehicle for your holiday

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From freedom to finances, there are so many reasons why hiring a car for your foreign getaway is a great idea. Say goodbye to the inconvenience of flagging down a taxi on the side of the road and say hello to the novelty of renting a fresh, new, reliable ride.

If you’re planning a road trip in peak times like July and August, car rental prices can be higher than usual and certain cars may be in short supply. One way to avoid disappointment is to book your car hire well in advance. Quick sellers often tend to be 4x4s which are great for family road trips, or smaller cars perfect for couples and nipping around narrow winding roads.

Our tip to you is to match a motor that works for you and your surroundings. If you’ve never rented a car for your holiday, here are 9 reasons why you should consider it:

Drive in disguise:

Want to hide your tourist-like qualities? Hiring a foreign vehicle allows you to fit in with ease. Your fresh, clean rental will not only get you respect on the roads but it can often prove to be the safer option as foreign number plates tend to run the risk of theft or break-ins.

Another great way to ensure you keep a low profile on your road trip is to hire a car with a Satnav. Not only will you know where you’re heading without having to stop and ask for directions, but you’ll get access to updated maps which will save your mobile data and roaming charges too.

Forget the taxi:

If you plan on using a taxi to get from A to B abroad, the costs can quickly mount up.. The downside to jumping in a taxi on holiday is unfortunately looking like a tourist can cost you. If you’ve fallen victim to being driven the long way around or even being charged twice as much for the same route as a local, you’ll probably be looking into hiring a car for your next getaway.

Even ordering a taxi over the phone can be a hassle, thanks to location and communication barriers…it’s just not simple. All these issues can be solved by renting a holiday hire.

Freedom to explore:

Here’s your chance to take advantage of your new found freedom. Having a car abroad allows you to explore remote places more freely. Rocky mountain restaurants, hilltop landmarks and stunning waterfalls are all places that would be harder to reach by bus or taxi.

Hiring for your holiday can take you to places your own car can only dream of. If you want to pull over to admire the fantastic scenery, guess what – you can! You’re the boss and you’re in the driving seat!

Save, save, save £££’s:

The amount you spend renting a ride can be saved elsewhere by booking a hotel that’s further afield, out of inner towns and cities. The chances are you’ll have way more fun exploring at your own pace. You’ll avoid the traffic, plus it’ll raise your chances of stumbling upon stunning scenery that you just wouldn’t have spotted otherwise.

Through our preferred partner Holiday Extras, you can book car hire for as little as £7!

Experience the novelty factor:

Escapism – there’s no thrill quite like it. Sit back, relax and enjoy the novelty of exploring a new country in the comfort of your own hired car. Push the boat out and choose a car that really suits your personality. Have fun with it!

Trial out an extended test drive:

Switch it up! Depending on the license you have, if you drive a manual car at home use this opportunity to experience an automatic or vice versa. Holidays are all about new experiences so embrace it!

In the market for a new car but don’t quite know if your choice is the right one? Renting a ride for a few days acts as the perfect extended test drive to find out first-hand if the car you’re renting fits your long term needs.

Fall in love with getting lost:

Things haven’t gone quite to plan? That’s the fun of it! Hiring a car abroad gives you the opportunity to see a country for what it has to offer and there’s plenty of fun to be had along the way!

Although deciphering European road signs isn’t quite what you had in mind, it’s these experiences that can make a holiday one to remember (for the right reasons). When it comes to planning your road trip, make it a team effort and get the whole family involved.

Choose a green car to save you money:

Did you know a lot of cities offer blue zone, free parking to hybrid and electric model cars? Reduce the costs of parking abroad by simply going green this summer.

Witness fuel savings:

Have you noticed that your own car has the tendency to be a bit of a gas guzzler? A great advantage of hiring a car abroad is that the vehicle you’ll be driving is likely to be newer, more reliable and therefore a more sustainable model that holds great gas mileage.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it about time you experience the open road in style? A driving holiday offers escapism, freedom and more importantly that feel-good factor! Hit the road and hire your motor to discover the experience of a lifetime.

What’s your couple ID? Our guide to planning the ultimate, romantic road trip

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Are you on the highway to love? Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to say those three little words than by planning the ultimate romantic road trip? We’ve picked six of the most-iconic, scenic settings across the globe, set to tempt you to jet off, jump in the car and pop that playlist on repeat as you drive into the dusk.

The key thing to remember when planning a successful romantic getaway is to customise it to your own relationship. One thing that’s often overlooked is that one person’s impression of romance can be very different to someone else’s. Think about how you like to spend time together. Go back to basics – think about the characteristics you hold as a couple. What kind of couple are you?

The Adventurous Couple:

Lots of couples share a similar thirst for adrenaline and adventure – if your first date was a trip to Alton Towers, you definitely fall under this category. This type of couple is much more open to double dating because they’re so carefree. Together, you live life on the edge and life-goals like marriage and offspring just aren’t on your radar at the moment because you’re too busy ticking off your bucket list and planning your next fix of fun.

Road Match:

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Great Ocean Road stretches from the Twelve Apostles to Apollo Bay and is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most-iconic coastal drives.

Surfs up! This region is a particular favourite for the world’s professionals. The Rip Curl Pro event, held at Bells Beach, makes this stretch of water very well known. There’s plenty to offer when it comes to satisfying the needs of the adventurous. Stop off along your way to admire breathtaking waterfalls or if you really want to push the boat out, (not literally), go shark cage diving – it’s a sure way of seeing your adrenaline levels soar!

 

The Long Distance Relationship (LDR) Couple:

Although many view this as a partnership destined for downfall, don’t be so sure. Think about it, you’ve mastered independence and you’ve got communication down to a fine art. You certainly know what you want from life. Sometimes, LDRs do suck, but that’s why it’s so important to make an effort all year round, not just Valentine’s Day.

Road Match:

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Next stop, Japan! After all, you should be used to long distances by now.

What’s more romantic than a road named the Nihon Romantic Highway? The route from Chugushi to the 120 road split is renowned for its incredible turns, corners and twists that impress even the most-experienced of drivers. This is a drive sure to turn up the heat in your relationship: when you’ve had enough of the relentless sharp bends, take a pitstop at some of Japan’s best hot springs and volcanoes.

It’s called the 120 road split for a reason – whether you choose to go your separate ways again at the end is entirely up to you!

 

The Young at Heart Couple:

As the saying goes: you’re only as old as you feel! It’s just a state of mind. There are so many couples out there who are grabbing life by the horns right now…tooting them constantly as they drive down the street! If you’re a couple who’s got a few miles on the clock, but are just as fun loving as when you first met, this is the greatest road match for you:

Road Match:

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3, 2, 1, GO! The U.S. Route 129 offers 318 turns of the steering wheel, making this infamous stretch a real-life racetrack in itself.

The road earned its name from its curves being said to resemble a dragon’s tail. Some of its sharpest curves are named Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell, Shade Tree Corner, Mud Corner, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, Beginner’s End, and Brake Or Bust Bend purely for the fun factor! It really is one for the light hearted but be warned as its dangers offer a challenge that isn’t for the faint hearted!

 

The Mismatched Couple:

You love playing tennis, your other half doesn’t. Your partner likes Italian food, but you’re not so keen. You like beach holidays and your spouse enjoys skiing. It’s said that opposites attract, but is it possible to be so far apart on the spectrum that you’re literally on the road to nowhere?

Road Match:

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New Zealand’s Karamea Highway is just that. Its physical dead-end status is guaranteed to see you backtracking sooner or later. However, it’s all about keeping things exciting and this road is rich with scenery and quaint towns to enjoy along the way.

This road offers sub-tropical rainforests and coastal views of the Tasman Sea. So, whether you’re in it for the long run or just here to enjoy the ride while it lasts, one thing’s for sure: this long stretch will leave you with epic memories!

 

The Crazy in Love Couple:

If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, it can seem that this type of couple is plastered all over your social feeds. In fact, you’ve probably already started thinking about which could be the key contenders this year – #unfollow

Love struck? Head over heels? The crazy in love couple (also known as the inseparables) hold a partnership made in heaven. This is a pairing that seems to stem major couple envy! You live in each other’s pockets and the love just keeps growing. It’s the kind of relationship most aspire to or take years searching for a connection as deep.

Road Match:

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This journey shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Overall, It leaves little disappointment. Lakes, trees, mountains and more. Drive the L126 through the southern part of Germany’s Black Forest to witness scenery that will quite literally take your breath away and set your pulses racing.

 

The Power Couple:

They’re the couple that made it ten years ago while you were still trying to claw your way to the top. The house, the car, the family – they have it all. There’s nothing wrong with them and they’re perfectly nice people, but there’s just something about them that makes you look at your life in a different way. The thing is, anyone can aspire to be a power couple…

Road Match:

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If you’re in search of a full throttle power-trip, this is the road for you and your partner.

The first 20 miles of this mountainous road offers obstacles in the form of tight corners and reverse camber bends, but it’s the final section that will really put you to the test! The WOW factor consists of 27 consecutive bends and a drop of nearly 1,000 metres before finishing off with an impressive tunnel that turns 340 degrees before emerging in the small town of Lysebotn, making this scenic stretch like none other.

These are just a few suggestions for your not so middle-of-the-road getaway this Valentine’s Day. If your lover has been driving you crazy lately, this could be the perfect opportunity to re-charge your batteries and take solace. Who knows, you may even get to know your other half a little better because of it! Depending on your relationship, this could be either a good or bad thing, we would like to think you’ll see sparks flying but if it all backfires, don’t blame us!

 

Share your #romanticroadtrip selfies with us @Airparks (make sure your engines turned off before you do so obviously) we’d love to see them!

Autumnal Road Trips: Because Autumn is so much more than Pumpkin Spice Lattes

15549483995_d8f510cc53_kImage by Anthony Quintano under Creative Commons license.

There is little doubt that autumn is an incredibly beautiful time of year. The air is crisp, but not quite cold, the sun still shines and the leaves change to glorious shades of orange, reds, yellows and golds.

There are various locations worldwide to experience the autumn colours in all their glory…and many of these make cracking road trips. Here we give you the best of the best for hitting the highway this season.

Fall in love with autumn in New England

To kick off this feature, we had to start with the breathtaking beauty of New England, USA, which is renowned for its stunning foliage this time of year.

New England in the autumn is an adventure The Telegraph calls “the trip of a lifetrip” and has become a pilgrimage for enthusiastic “leaf peepers’. Crisp mornings, endless farm lands littered with bright orange pumpkins and orchards for apple picking and miles upon miles of incredible autumnal colours have been drawing keen photographers, tourists and nature enthusiasts in their droves for years.

The Northern regions of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire typically peak around mid-October. In the more southern states of the area such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island and along the coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine, the colour starts later and often lasts up until November, as America prepares for Thanksgiving.

“Leaf peeping” is serious business in many of these states, so expect crowds on peak weekends and plan ahead for lodging. The US Forest Service offers regular updates on where and when to catch the best autumn colours in 29 states.

Churchill’s Canada

The historic Niagara Parkway, or “River Road,” in Ontario, Canada was dubbed “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” by none other than Winston Churchill.

Surrounding the infamous Niagara Falls and following the curves of the Niagara River dividing Canada and the US, this road reveals a stunning landscape in autumn. The most popular stretch is allegedly between the small towns of Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake which reach pinnacle colour in October.

Niagara on the Lake inspires walkers, hikers, joggers, and bike riders to explore its beauty – but it also draws wine lovers in their droves! As the climate in Niagara on the Lake is ideal for grape growing, the picturesque Niagara River Parkway is dotted with wineries for miles.  

Home to award-winning wines, tours and tastings, the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada is currently the most widely respected producer of ice wine. Made from the last grapes of the season remaining on the vines, ice wine is a sweet dessert wine with a rich, golden colour.

Big in Japan

On the other side of the globe, Japan is another fantastic location for an autumnal roadtrip. Kouyou, or autumn leaves, can be seen across the country, starting in the northern island of Hokkaidō and spreading quickly south from the end of September.

For a truly incredible autumn experience, head towards the city of Hachimantai, located in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. A mountainous region in northern Akita and Iwate Prefectures, Hachimantai, the area makes up the southern part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park.

This particular region is far removed from the big cities and offers some of Japan’s best rustic hot springs, rewarding hiking trails through volcanic landscapes and stunning autumn foliage.  

The breathtaking views of Hachimantai, including the virgin forest of Aomori white fir, can be enjoyed from the road as you travel along the Asupite-Line Road which connects the Hachimantai-onsen Hot Springs and the Toroko-onsen Hot Spring in Akita Prefecture.

The hot springs of Hachimantai-onsen offer spectacular views of the Ou Mountain Range, which runs across the Akita Prefecture border, and the magnificent Mt. Iwate-san, an ideal route for hiking after a long drive! Visitors can also enjoy skiing at Hachimantai Resort closer to winter.

Falling for French Foliage

Loire Valley in France is also beautiful this time of year. France is a great place for an autumnal road trip for those who don’t want to stray too far away from the homeland.

Summer holidaymakers will have long gone and the leaves will be turning beautiful shades of copper and gold.

This is another great spot for wine lovers as autumn in France is harvest time. The final 500 km of the Loire, between Sancerre and Nantes, measure out one of the great wine regions of France where you can make your way to one of the many wineries in the area where you can see the grapes being picked in the fields.

This is the ideal place to sample and enjoy locally made tipples while taking in spectacular scenery.

The area is also dotted with lively cosmopolitan cities such as Orléans, Tours, Saumur and Angers which we recommend you add to your french foliage road trip!

The top four products for your autumn road trip

Aside from the road trip essentials – smartphone, chargers, apps and maps, here are the top items to take along for the ride to ensure you make the most of your trip this season…

Camera

If you’re hitting the road to experience the colours of autumn, make sure you have a decent camera with you to capture the scenery. Expect Instagram-worthy opportunities in abundance on these trips so kit up and get ready for some serious kodak moments.

Plaid blanket

No autumn road trip would be complete without a gorgeous plaid blanket in the colours of the season. Use to keep warm on the road or when out and about taking in the scenery. Alternatively, if you’re not bothered by the autumn chill then why not enjoy a picnic – complete with hot cider and pumpkin pie!

Travel mug or flask

Whether you’re drinking coffee, hot chocolate or hot toddy, make sure you are transporting your beverages in style. Your own mug will also save of wasteful takeaway cups from cafes. After all, with all this beautiful scenery, who wouldn’t be inspired to do their bit for the planet?

Hiking boots

The roads are a great place to take in the scenery, but sometimes the best locations will need to be reached on foot. Make sure you’re prepared with a sturdy pair of walking boots!

 

One for the Road: Europe’s Quirky Rules of the Road

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Driving abroad can be both an adventure and a hinderance. The same rules don’t apply, road signs are in an alien language and you can come across more than just a bump in road in rural areas.

Just the simple switch of direction in Europe is enough to wrack the nerves of even the most experienced driver, so being clued up on the more unusual rules of the road can prepare you for any surprises along the way, ensuring a smooth ride across unfamiliar terrain.

From the correct number of spectacles to carry in your vehicle in Spain to the countries that will fine you for having a dirty car,  we’ve found some of the more quirkier laws that drivers may come across whilst road tripping throughout the continent. You’ll want to be prepared for some of these!

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EuroTrip: What you need to know when hitting the road in Europe

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Exploring new terrain can be a fantastic experience by road and mainland Europe, with it’s wealth of culture and stunning landscape, provides the perfect location for a truly memorable adventure.

For those embarking on such a trip, we’ve compiled the need-to-know facts for Brits on the road. With focus on France, Germany, Norway, Italy and Spain, we bring you all you all the facts to ensure you to stay on the right side of the law (and the road!) throughout Europe.

Driving regulations and customs often differ from country to country and studies estimate a quarter of people planning a driving holiday do not learn about the rules before embarking on their trip, which in some cases could lead to heavy fines.

One Direction

The first and most obvious rule of the road when driving in Europe is that the rest of the continent drives on the right-hand side of the road. There is an historical reason why we drive on the left – it’s to keep your sword hand free! In the Middle Ages you never knew who you were going to meet when travelling and as the majority of people are right-handed, your right hand would need to be free to use your sword if required.

During the 20th century, mainland Europe began the gradual shift towards driving on the right. The last Europeans to change from left to right were the Swedes who bravely made the change overnight! On September 3rd 1967, known as Dagen H (H Day), all traffic in Sweden stopped at 4:50am for ten minutes before restarting, this time driving on the right. Today, only 35% of countries drive on the left.

Whilst we are fully aware of the left/right divide, there are many other regulations that will be wholly unfamiliar to a Brit driving abroad. Some apply across the continent, others are specific to each country. We’ve compiled a list of the need-to-know rules of the road when travelling by car through Europe.

  • Speed limits are often higher than in the Britain so be aware that cars may approach faster than you are used to.
  • Large quantities of luggage may weigh down your vehicle so make sure you allow more time and distance for braking.
  • A GB sticker must be clearly visible on the back of your vehicle if your number plate doesn’t include this information.
  • If you are involved in an accident, make sure you contact your insurer immediately and take photographs of the damage to your vehicle.
  • It is now compulsory in many countries in Europe, including France, for all vehicles to carry a reflective jacket and at least one warning triangle for use in case of a breakdown.
  • Radar detectors are illegal in many countries throughout Europe, including France and Spain, whether in use or not, so make sure these are left at home to avoid a fine!
  • Be wary that though Brits can get behind the wheel at 17, this may not be the case abroad.

 

FRANCE
France Guide

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  • Be aware that devices used to detect speed cameras are illegal in France. If you are caught with a working device, you could run the risk of the French police confiscating your licence and impounding your vehicle, in addition to the possibility of a fine.
  • The French police also strictly enforce speeding restrictions. Exceeding speed limits may result in heavy on-the-spot fines, often payable only by the exact amount in cash.
  • A single continuous white line is equivalent to a double white line in the UK and means ‘do not overtake.’
  • There are two speed limits for motorways and dual carriageways: in wet weather the lower must be obey. Drivers who have held a licence for less than two years must abide by the lower limit at all times.  
  • When entering a town or village a sign showing the name of the town/ village is the start of the 50km/hr speed limit unless otherwise stated.
  • When leaving a town or village, you will see a sign with the name of the village crossed diagonally with a red line. This indicates the end of the speed limit. In some areas, towns and villages will run into each other. In this instance, another sign is place above with the name of the next town, meaning the same (50km/hr) speed limit still applies.
  • France has banned the use of all mobile phones, hands-free and Bluetooth devices when driving which can result in a €135 fine.
  • A French government certified (NF) breathalyser or alcohol detection test kit and reflective jackets must be carried in a vehicle at all times.
  • Drivers in right- hand drive cars will also need to fit headlamp beam deflectors to avoid dazzling other road users.

 

SPAIN
Spain Guide

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  • In Spain it is a legal requirement for motorists to carry two red warning triangles. These are to be placed in front of and behind the vehicle in the event of an accident or breakdown.
  • Drivers who require spectacles for driving must always have a spare pair in the car or risk a fine.
  • All drivers must carry a spare wheel and a full set of spare bulbs plus the tools to change them.
  • The blood alcohol limit is Spain is 0.05 per cent, and an even lower 0.01 per cent for drivers with less than three years of experience.
  • A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive a motor vehicle in Spain until the age of 18yrs old.

 

NORWAY
Norway Guide

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  • It is compulsory in Norway to keep your headlights on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. According to Aviva, police have the power to issue on the spot fines they deem appropriate, which can be anything from €100 (£72) to €1000 (£720).
  • Headlamp beam deflectors: depending on the car you are driving, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually.
  • Although not compulsory for foreign registered vehicles, foreign drivers renting a car in Norway will have to make sure the hired vehicle is fitted with a jacket
  • A vehicle towing a caravan must be equipped with special rear view mirrors
  • Residential areas can have speed as low as 30 kilometres per hour. It’s worth noting that speed control bumps are not always signposted.
  • Built-up areas/town centres require a speed of 50 kilometres per hour.
  • Dual carriageways and motorways allow for either 90 kilometres per hour or 100 kilometres per hour for cars.
  • Motor vehicles towing a caravan/trailer without brakes with a gross weight of over 300 kilos, may not exceed 60 kilometres per hour even if the local speed limit is higher.
  • Visitors riding or driving any vehicle registered in Norway (hired or borrowed) must have reached the minimum age required in Norway. You must be 18 or over to drive/ride private cars and motorcycles over 125cc.

 

GERMANY
Germany Guide

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  • The autobahn in Germany has lengthy sections with a 130km-per-hour speed recommendation. It is illegal to stop even if you run out of petrol on the motorway and result in a €70 (£50) fine and two points on your licence.
  • As is the case in Spain and Italy, foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive/ride a motor vehicle in Germany until the age of 18yrs old.
  • Trams in motion must be overtaken on the right.  If the space on the right is inadequate, they may be overtaken on the left.  In one-way streets, trams may be overtaken on either side. Priority must be given to passengers boarding or alighting from stationary trams.
  • The “no overtaking sign” prohibits to overtake a vehicle with more than two wheels. For example. a car driver may overtake a motorcycle, but a motorcyclist may not overtake a car.
  • Children three years and over must sit in the rear seats of vehicles and any child under 12 years of age and measuring less than 1.50m must be seated in a child seat or child restraint.
  • All child restraints/seats used must conform to the ECE 44/03 norm.

 

ITALY
Italy Guide

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  • You must use dipped headlights during the day while travelling on motorways and major roads outside cities.
  • You should wear a reflective safety jacket if you are standing with, inspecting or repairing your vehicle on a public highway.
  • The use of mobile phones is not allowed while driving in Italy, but unlike in France, Italian authorities do allow the use of hands-free and Bluetooth devices.
  • A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive a motor vehicle in Italy until the age of 18yrs old.
  • On roads with three traffic lanes, overtaking is allowed only when a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction is not already in the middle lane.

 

What have you come across on the road during your European travels? Let us know! Tweet us @Airparks

Packing a Punch: Top Tips for Your Luggage Liquids

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It’s the same old story when packing for a holiday – how can I take shampoo without it spilling on my clothes in transit? Are the products in my hand luggage under 100ml? Do I take the extra weight or do I buy the products when I get there?

Here we’ve compiled our top five recommendations to ease your packing woes…

Save money on miniatures and buy empty bottles to decant your existing products into travel friendly sizes. These are available at a range of pharmacies and often come with a clear travel bag which is required for transporting liquids on flights.

An item to save travellers everywhere, the Lush Cosmetics shampoo bar is a travel must. As this is a solid product it does not need to pass any recommendations reserved for liquid products. What’s more, it’s far lighter than a bottle of shampoo and can also double as an alternative for shower gel. As if that wasn’t enticing enough, the shampoo bar requires no packaging making it environmentally friendly too!

Another product from eco-warrior cosmetics company Lush is the Solid Sunscreen Wash. A new product for the company, this has the same packing virtues as the shampoo bar. The bar is SPF 30 High and although it was made to be used in the shower, many fans of the product it can be used on the go.

Just like the shampoo bar, try to pack products that are multi-purpose. For example, a cleanser which can also effectively remove make-up or items such as Benefit’s Benetint which can be used as a lipstain and blusher. A powder highlighter can also double as an eyeshadow to save room – it’s all about being creative!

Another tip is to save hotel products or trial sizes free with magazines or cosmetics purchases and use these when travelling. If you’ve signed up to a monthly cosmetics subscription such as Glossybox or Birchbox, save the travel size items for your holiday. Some dentists will offer trial sizes of toothpaste so hold on to these too.

Flying Solo: The Rise of the Lone Wolf Traveller

wild-reese-witherspoonAn increasingly popular trend for solo travel has emerged, with individuals of all ages embarking on adventures alone.

According to Tech Insider, this trend is especially prevalent among women, with many of them documenting their travels on Pinterest.

“Since Spring 2015, we’ve seen a marked increase in women Pinning solo travel ideas,” Christine Schirmer, consumer communications at Pinterest told Tech Insider.

“Pinners of all ages tell us this is less about self discovery and more about simply not wanting to compromise on where and when they want to travel.”

Travelling alone can be a great adventure and a chance for self discovery and independence, but preparation is everything in order to stay safe. Below we’ve compiled our top tips for planning your trip.

  1. Leave contact details, copies of important documents and a rough travel itinerary with family or friends at home – this creates peace of mind for both parties and will be useful should you find yourself in a bind along the way.
  2. Keep hard copies of emergency contacts and your itinerary with you at all times and keep copies of key documents such as a photocopy of your passport in each piece of luggage.
  3. Packing light means less items to worry about, less weight to carry and means you can focus more on what’s happening around you. No one wants to be that person lugging their worldly possession through an airport terminal or through narrow, cobbled streets of an unknown town.
  4. Go prepared. Before leaving ask yourself;
    • What’s the best way to get from the airport to your accommodation?
    • Which taxi company is safest/ most reliable?
    • What is the average cost for transport from the airport?
    • What’s the procedure for arrival, visas, and immigration?
    • Are there any scams to be aware of?
    • If possible, schedule your flights to arrive during daylight hours.
  5. Make the effort to learn at least a few helpful phrases in the native language of the countries you are planning to visit.
  6. Before embarking on your journey, let your bank and credit card providers know that you’ll be travelling, for how long and where – this way they won’t suspect your card is being used fraudulently and block it. It may also worth registering with your government as a citizen travelling abroad.
  7. For safety reasons, don’t keep your money and credit cards in one place – spread it across your luggage and keep a money belt under your clothes.
  8. Don’t forget travel insurance!
  9. Pack overnight necessities in your carry-on. There is always a chance your checked luggage won’t make it to the destination when you do. It happens. Having a toothbrush and a change of clothes can make the world of difference should you find yourself in this situation.

Here Comes the Sun: 8 Tip for Staying Summer Safe

Holiday Sunscreen

When planning a holiday, making sure your passport is up to date, that you’ve purchased currency or cash cards and travel insurance and that you’ve packed the right clothes for your destination are all important factors, but there is one item which is absolutely essential – sunscreen.

Various forms of sunscreen have been in use for years – even ancient cultures had their own forms of sunscreens, made from herbal extracts or mineral crusts and included ingredients such as iron, clay and tar. It wasn’t until the 1930s that Ambre Solaire went on sale and eventually the concept of SPF (sun protection factor), which indicates how long a sunscreen protects the skin, was introduced in the 1960s.

Sunscreen not only protects you from the immediate effects of burning, it also safeguards you for the future, helping to reduce the chances of skin cancer.

Use plenty of sunscreen

According to the NHS, once you are burnt, the damage has already been done to your skin as it has received a dangerous level of radiation. Every time the skin is exposed to radiation, this increases the chance of a cancer occurring, possibly many years in the future.

With thousands of Brits jetting off on holiday this summer, we’ve put together our TOP TIPS for staying safe in the sun…

  • Make sure you have packed enough sunscreen for your holiday. Depending on where you are going, sunscreen could be far more expensive or could be harder to get hold of if you are travelling to a remote spot.
  • Remember the limits for liquids in hand luggage and either pack your sunscreen in your suitcase or, if you’re just travelling with hand luggage, make sure you have a number of bottles under 100ml.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors, don’t forget to pucker up protect your pout too and reapply every two hours!
  • The average person needs a volume of one shot-glass–worth of sunscreen to cover the body. So swap the liquor for something a little thicker!
  • Check the expiration date as some sunscreen ingredients might degrade over time or develop bacterial growth.
  • The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) recommends not applying sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old. Instead, babies should be placed in shady areas or covered with clothing.
  • An effective sunscreen needs to block both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 is recommended.
  • And if you are planning a paddle, use a waterproof sunscreen.

Frugal Flying: Cutting the Costs of Travel

Cutting the costs of travel

According to a recent survey by the Money Advice Service, Brits have admitted to overspending while on holiday.

Around 60% of UK adults overspend by £220 when taking a holiday, with 39% of people claiming to return home with holiday debt, taking up to five months on average to pay off.

The main reasons cited by participants was unexpected costs of food and drink (32%) and activities (22%). Buying items that we’ve forgotten to pack also contributes to holiday overspending.

But a holiday needn’t be a financial burden – here our are top tips to avoid breaking the bank while enjoying your time away:

  • Make a list of everything you need to take away with you to avoid having to buy items when you’re away. Think what you use on an average day, check the weather predictions for your destination – do you need to bring sunscreen or a raincoat?
  • Avoid expensive travel miniatures and instead opt for reusable plastic bottles to decant the products you already own into travel friendly containers.
  • Travel Insurance: Make sure you’re prepared and purchase travel insurance in advance to avoid any unexpected costs or losses. Why not take a look at the travel insurance by Holiday Extras, our preferred partner .
  • Make sure your car is safe without blowing the budget. Save up to 60% on airport parking at just £2.68 a day.
  • Don’t wait until you’re at the airport to exchange your money; exchange rates can be 10% higher than anywhere else.

From Mordor to Manhattan: Popular Culture Inspiring Travel

The sun is out, Wimbledon is in full swing and summer holidays are well under way. When it comes to picking a holiday destination, some of us have our favourite spots, others are ticking off bucket lists – and then there are those who choose locations based on their love of popular culture.

Northern Irish media has recently reported a notable rise in tourism thanks to the hit fantasy series, Game of Thrones. The HBO phenomenon has thrown the spotlight on beauty spots such as the Dark Hedges and Ballintoy harbour in north Antrim.

We take a look at some of the films and TV series that have inspired global travel…

Lord of the Rings
New Zealand

Since the release of the first film in 2001, fans of Lord of the Rings have flocked to New Zealand in search of Middle Earth, travelling from Auckland to Queenstown.

With many organisation offering ‘Lord of the Rings’ filmed tours, Tolkien fans can experience Mordor and Mount Doom, explore Hobbit habitats galore and experience the breath-taking landscapes and natural attractions New Zealand has to offer.

Sex and the City
New York, USA

Every year, New York sees flocks of tourists looking to follow in Carrie’s Manolos. The hit TV series Sex and the City has prompted fans to make the pilgrimage to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, drink a cosmopolitan in the city that never sleeps and hit the shops the Bradshaw way.

The Beach
Ko Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Thailand has become a popular destination for millennials and the breathtakingly beautiful Ko Phi Phi is no exception. Following the release of The Beach in 2000, featuring Leonardo Di Caprio and based on the 1996 novel by Alex Garland, tourists have flocked in their masses to the stunning island.

The Twilight Saga and Fifty Shades of Grey
Vancouver, Canada
Washington and Oregon, USA

Love them or hate them, there is no denying the popularity of both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. The latter was originally written as fan fiction for the teen series Twilight and has since taken on a life of its own.

Both series are set in Washington, USA which itself has become a tourist destination, but the film was filmed in nearby Canada and Oregon, USA, both becoming hotspots for both Twilight and Fifty Shades enthusiasts.

Nordic Noir
Scandinavia

Thanks to the huge success of The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge and the Stieg Larsson series, cities such as Stockholm and Copenhagen have become a hotspot for fans of ‘Nordic Noir’.

Nordic Noir refers to Scandinavian crime fiction, which is typically dark, minimal and direct in style, often featuring female anti-heroines such as The Killing’s Sarah Lund and The Bridge’s Saga Noren. In recent years, fans of Scandinavian crime drama have travelled in droves to the region, fascinated by the landscape of the much-loved thrillers.