Rain or sun this summer?

The Met Office has revised its forecast for this summer – no heatwaves (apart from the one in June when no-one expected it and the kids were still at school), just rainy days ahead.   Apparently it stressed back in April that the odds of a scorching summer were 65% – so not guaranteed.  However the press picked up on this as a really high percentage which obviously guaranteed a heatwave.  I must say that 65% doesn’t sound “guaranteed” to me.

How much should we believe the Met Office – short term tends to be right.  But should we be surprised?  Summers in the UK tend to be damp with the occasional hot day when everyone runs around moaning that its too hot. 

There are various business sectors who rely on these long term forecasts – farmers, ice-cream manufacturers, supermarkets, stores selling garden toys and barbeques are just a few that spring to mind.  Travel is another one – if the forecast is good for the UK, people tend to stay at home.  If its bad – everyone wants to get away to the sun.  Telling us at the end of July is a little late – manufacturing runs have been set, goods ordered, charter flights fully booked (or cancelled due to lack of demand). 

A BIT MORE NOTICE PLEASE MET OFFICE!!!

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Popular destinations for UK travellers

THE 10 MOST POPULAR DESTINATIONS (Jan-Mar, 2009) according to the Office of National Statistics.

1 France  

2 Spain  

3 Ireland  

4 USA

5 Germany  

6 Italy

7 Holland  

8 Poland  

9 Switzerland

9 Belgium  

 

The decline [in numbers traveling] is accelerating – the ONS said that in the 12-month period to May, 2009, the number of trips taken by Britons plunged by eight per cent, from 70.6 to 64.6 million. It is expected that full-year figures for 2009 will barely break 60m. (Taken from Times Travel)

 

I’m guessing that most visitors to France are for short breaks or even day trips.  The French are our closest neighbours and being neighbourly means we should get together more than our furthest neighbours.  However there’s more to France than Calais’s Cite Europe shopping centre.

 

We’ve had some fantastic holidays there as a family.  One of the best was unexpectedly good – we had a mobile home on the Vendee at the beginning of September.  The weather was starting to change towards the end of the fortnight and tourist attractions were starting to close down.  The children’s club only operated on site for the first week.  We were there late as my son was due to start school in reception class that year and the little ones start later than the rest of the school, being a summer baby he started last of all.  My daughter was due to start pre-school as well at the end of the month.  However all this meant we had very few tourists around to disturb us – no queues, empty beaches (and the Vendee has fantastic sandy beaches) and fast(ish) service in restaurants.  We’ve explored Brittany, the Dordogne, Bordeaux and all points from here back to the channel ports.  A couple of years ago we drove down to Tuscany, taking 4 days to do so on the way there and a different route on the way back.  This showed us another side of France which we didn’t know.  Fantastic places that we want to go back and explore another year.

 

I also love Paris – especially as I know it so well, having spent a year working there while I was a student (now that’s a whole 900 page blog on its own!!) 

 

Spain has been a popular destination for British travelers for many years.  Last year we went to the Costa del Sol, a lovely resort called San Pedro de Alcantara.  Very relaxing and hot.  To be different, we flew into Gibraltar rather than Malaga (the resort was around half way between the two airports).   In 10 days time, we’re off to Barcelona for a few days – so I’ll write about that at the time.

Why not explore and enjoy some of the lesser visited countries?  Diamond Travel can help with planning a trip to almost anywhere!  Just get in touch anytime – olein@diamondtravel.gtmail.co.uk

Common sense!

When it comes to travel abroad, sometimes I think we all leave our common sense at home with the warm clothes.  A study has been published today suggesting that two thirds of Brits get some kind of stomach bug while on holiday.  And for 20% of these, the holiday is completely ruined.   We all wash our hands before eating at home – so why not do it abroad?  A lot of the precautions you should use may also help prevent the spread of swine flu!

Most Britons blame their tummy troubles on exotic food, unwashed produce or contaminated water.   

Precautions to reduce the chance of stomach upsets on holiday include washing hands before eating or cooking, peeling fruit and vegetables, avoiding ‘buffet’ style foods and uncooked shellfish and using bottled water for drinking, washing food and brushing teeth.

If you know that you’ve had a stomach bug on past holidays, then take steps to ensure you’re going to be less vulnerable this year.   Some people say that using pro-biotic yoghurt drinks etc might help, if taken for a while before you go. 

I got this information off the Times Travel website – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/news/article6725131.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=1491494

Mistakes happen!

The Air Transport Users Council (AUC) published their annual report today which shows they had 11% more complaints than last year.   Over 12000 complaints – mainly about delays, cancellations and baggage issues.   It seems a lot of the other complaints arise form online booking with the subsequent errors that can happen when typing.  Fares might be cheaper online but if you type your name incorrectly,  your travel dates or even your destination – it can take hours and ridiculously expensive amendment fees. 

How can you reduce the chance of things going wrong ?

  • If delays are going to cause more than an inconvenience – i.e. lost business – check the airlines record on delays. 
  • If you’re worried about getting details wrong when booking online – then book through a travel agent
  • Booking through a travel agent will also protect you – even if you’re booking a low cost airline such as Easyjet, they will normally include Airline Failure Insurance.

More anniversary holiday ideas!

Continuing on the wedding anniversary theme again today!

 Your fourth anniversary has the traditional theme of books, flowers or fruit.  Wide open choice here for gifts!!  However there are plenty of flower themed holidays – the bulbfields of Holland are a colourful choice if your anniversary is in the spring.  Later in the year, Madeira is an island full of flowers.  For long-haul holidays, Japan in the spring with the cherry blossom is particularly spectacular.  Hong Kong’s Flower Market is one of the most colourful street markets with a jungle of exotic blossoms, luck-bringing houseplants and sweet scents to be found in more than 50 shops.

 Wood is the theme for the fifth anniversary – also seen as many couples as the first big milestone anniversary.   For fans of the rainforest – we can offer holidays in most of the world’s major rainforests in the Caribbean and the Far East.  How about the Australian rainforest with luxury lodges and eco-lodges, near white sand beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. 

 Let’s skip a couple of years and take you to the 10th anniversary.  Something special for us as it is the Diamond Jewellery anniversary (my company is Diamond Travel by the way!).  Where to go for this anniversary – there are diamond mines in South Africa, India, Canada, the USA and Australia (among others).  We can organise trips to any of these countries – trips to the mines themselves are rare, for security – but the scenery in all these areas is spectacular!

 For details on any of these trips, please contact us at sales@diamondtravel.ltd.uk  – we can make your anniversary trip special and sparkling.

Wedding anniversary holidays

Don’t you think travel is becoming more challenging as the years go on? I remember my first trip overseas was when I was 15 and took the coach and hovercraft to Paris to stay with a penfriend. Not only first trip, but I’d never met her only by letter (and we didn’t have a phone in those days). Ok just showing my age! But no security, apart from flashing my passport, no CRB checks for me to go and stay 2 weeks with a stranger. I’m sure my parents were concerned but it never occurred to me to be worried.

Ever since then, I’ve loved travelling – and even more when I’m on my own. Time to look around and concentrate on the scenery – both people and buildings, instead of being distracted by having to make conversation or look after children. Now my travel is mainly with the family and I still love it, gives a new dimension to the journey.

Looking at the pattern of travels however these days – it looks like people like to travel for a “reason” whether it is a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. So with this in mind, I’ve put together some ideas of anniversary trips based on how many years you’ve been married:

1st anniversary – traditional theme is paper – the Egyptians were one of the first civilisations to make and use paper. We’ve got some great holidays to Egypt – Red Sea resorts are always popular for divers, Nile Cruises to experience the ancient civilisation and architecture with maybe a few nights in Luxor afterwards, Cairo is a bustling and busy city. The Mediterranean coast of Egypt is lesser known for tourism but is starting to appear in UK brochures with resorts such as Alexandria.

2nd anniversary – traditional theme is cotton or straw. Let’s send you to the cotton fields of the southern USA! We’ve got some great prices for Plantation Houses, now converted to beautiful hotels in South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

3rd anniversary – leather is the traditional theme. But crystal and glass are the modern themes. The town of Wattens in Austria is home to Swarovski Crystal and the Kristallwelten (a crystallised fantasy world) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. With flights into Innsbruck, car hire and hotels booked in advance for you – we can make this a sparkling anniversary!

Whew – I didn’t realise this would be such fun to find anniversary destinations. I’ll post more on this subject soon.

Thanks for reading.

New blog!

Well, my intention with this blog is to talk about things that interest me in the travel world. I hope my enthusiasm for all things travel might encourage you to start a conversation with me, (even dare I say it, book something with me!)

I became a travel agent nearly 10 years ago after years of experience on holidays and business trips. I thought i could bring something fresh to travellers and after the amount of repeat bookings I get – I think I’m proving this theory.

Watch this space for news on travel – especially for UK travellers.

Thanks for reading!