University not for you? Here’s why you should take a gap year instead..

University not for you? Here’s why you should take a gap year instead..

In light of the recent A Level results, there are likely thousands of teenagers currently in the UK at a loose end and perhaps you are one of them. You haven’t yet chosen a career path that warrants higher education and maybe you are scrambling through the competition to bag that summer job?

This is the not the time to be pulling your hair out, worrying about your future. This is the time to discover who you are and exactly what you want from this merry-go-round we call life. This is the absolute perfect timing to throw your essentials into a backpack and head of into the unknown as the glorious ‘backpacker’.

The world is a huge place and travel will teach you so much about life. Everyday will bring you opportunities to immerse yourself in a new culture and try food so exquisite you won’t miss your Sunday roast. It will bring people into your life who will mean so much to you and may never leave. Travel will teach you about change. It will teach you confidence and to love yourself and how to treat others with respect. Travel will teach you how to communicate with others, even when you do not speak the same language. It will teach you how to survive without your family and friends to lean on and most importantly, it will show you who you really are.

So when you return, your friends may be a year into their studies, but who will have the better education??

Is it scary? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely.

There are companies on the market that specialise in tailoring your year out to explore the world and find you the best airfares to visit all the places you can fit on your list and can hold your hand right up until the day when you spread your wings and fly (well… board the plane!)

So what are you waiting for? The world is waiting for you.

*Warning!! Travel can be highly addictive and you may get the ‘travel bug’.*

info@cuddleyourglobe.com

Gapyear

 

How often should we travel?

Whilst some people’s idea of happiness is to get a mortgage and pay off their debts, enslaved to a full time job, this is the idea of hell to others. 

In an ideal world we should be travelling constantly. We were not designed to buy a house and never leave it. The world is impossibly large for a reason, to explore it.

So if, like me, you cannot afford to travel constantly, so have the home and a full time job and waste hours dreaming about travel… How often should we get away?

When I used to work in travel, a month would never pass that I wasn’t on a plane, and I loved it! Nowadays I am lucky if I get away more than once a year. And I don’t even have kids or a mortgage. 

So I decided to travel with work, set up a new life across the country and start a fresh. It’s great because there is a whole new part of the world to explore and it’s fresh and exciting all the time. Although, nothing quite beats getting a flight and travelling a new continent..

  

Book Review: Upgraded! How To Save Money And Fly In Luxury Using Avios Points– Are you one of the 99% who would love to fly Business Class but can’t afford it? This book is for you….

Book Review: Upgraded! How To Save Money And Fly In Luxury Using Avios Points– Are you one of the 99% who would love to fly Business Class but can’t afford it? This book is for you….

Avios Points

Despite having a very good knowledge of air miles schemes, I knew very little about Avios points when I picked up this book so I was intrigued to see what it had in store.

I often read blogs about how to snag free or cheap upgrades but in reality, most of them don’t work. I have tried every ‘trick in the book’ to get upgraded on flights and despite it working once or twice (mostly down to dumb luck), in reality an airline will not upgrade your seat for the simple reason that its clients who have handed over literally thousands of pounds to fly in Business / First class would not be very happy sitting next to someone who paid an economy fare… and Business class passengers are the last type of clientele they want to displease!

Without giving away too much of this book’s top secret tips, Avios appears to be the next best thing in snagging aviation discounts and from countless proven accounts, it actually works! The book talks you through in a step-by-step approach, all you need to know to gain Avios points to snatch discounted flights or upgrade your seat to a Premium cabin for a mere percentage of the going market rates.

The book explains – in some depth – exactly how and where to collect Avios points, and where to spend them and gives very honest accounts on what is beneficial to you, and what is not. It is very simple – if you commit yourself fully and put a little time and effort into the Avios scheme, you genuinely can fly for peanuts!

It is the first book I have seen of its kind which actually breaks down the travel ‘zones’ and how many points are required to fly to these destinations, in which cabin, and roughly the value of points to be collected in various places, including Tesco Clubcard points!! Who knew that?!

To summarise, if you fly with British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Air Malta, Flybe, Monarch, Air Auringy, Qatar or Finnair, for business or leisure travel, this book is an absolute must read for you if you want to save a lot of money and get cheaper flights, or if you want to see how the other half live and travel in luxury.

Having flown in Business / First class myself several times, I can say from experience that once you have experienced it, you will not want to fly Economy again. I have just set up my first Avios account already and you can do the same at https://www.avios.com/

To purchase your very own copy of this incredible book, ClickHere!

Happy Travels!

Cuddle Your Globe

Travel Blogger

Thomas Cook it to Cape Town

Thomas Cook it to Cape Town

Charter airline, Thomas Cook has just announced a fabulous new route to add to their collection of long haul destinations including the likes of Cuba, Mexico and Goa.

As of December 2016, they will now be operating a direct flight from London Gatwick to Cape Town 3 days a week with economy and premium cabins available. Ticket prices will start at just £699 which is definitely at least comparable with its schedule airline rivals. They are using a brand new Airbus A330 and have invested millions into their new fleet.

This is fantastic news for South African tourism. Cape Town is stunning and has much to offer the most discerning of travellers including table mountain and the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. The garden route nearby offers stunning and tasty wine regions, too.

Rules of Packing

Rules of Packing

1. I pack too much stuff. I tell myself I will take a half empty case so that I can bring stuff back with me. This never happens.

2. I only ever unpack my case when I actually need the case for the next trip.

3.  I always imagine I will be “that person” who creates a tick list of what to take and organises everything into neat piles. In reality I shove everything in and sit on the case so the zip will do up.

4. I buy cheap cases and the swines at the airport almost always break them. Mine is always the case on the conveyer belt with the wheels, zip and underwear rotating around separately.

5. I plan for lost luggage. Always put some money and spare undies in your hand luggage. Just incase.

6. I hate packing.

Somebody very dear to me just reminded me of a valid no.7… In the packing process my feline furry friend takes a leak all over my stuff inside the case. I guess it’s her way of showing affection.

Sharm El Shaken

All flights from the UK to and fro Sharm El Sheikh have been halted, temporarily by the government following a Russian plane, Metrojet 9268, that crashed in Sinai.

It is suspected that an explosive device had caused this crash, killing all 224 passenger and crew on board.

What does this mean for you if you are in Sharm or due to travel?

If you are currently in Sharm, you are best to contact your resort rep or travel agent for advice.

If you are due to travel, firstly check with your airline or tour operator that your flight is still scheduled. If you no longer wish to travel, you will need to inquire with whomever you booked with for a refund. Currently the foreign office has not changed its advice on travel to the Red Sea resort, which usually means travel insurance may not cover you for cancellation, but you definitely should still check this out.

[UPDATE]: 5th November.

The foreign office has now revised their advice on travel to Sharm El Sheikh to avoid all but essential travel. The good news here is that your travel insurance should be covering cancellation.

Please note, travel to other parts of Egypt is currently still perfectly OK. A lot of media are stating travel travel to ‘Egypt’ is affected, but this is only Sharm El Sheikh at present.

Nocturnal Life in London

Nocturnal Life in London

There is so much I adore about being alive during the night time. I often wonder if my ancestors were hamsters because I, like so many others, simply prefer the world at night time. 

There is far less traffic in London, everything is lit up by the multicoloured glow of manpower, there are no flocks of people and tourists surrounding every building so you can hardly move or breathe. Everything is more open and clear. You can appreciate the majestic and charming beauty of a city like London during the midnight hour.

I decided to take a little tour of London in the dead of night to see how different it was. This city really blows my mind. Here are some of the photos I snapped on my journey.

 

The River Thames, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben in the distance

  
the Embankment, river Thames, London. These lamps were built in the 1860s… I wonder how they were wired once electricity was used?!
 

Awesome colours from London skyscrapers reflecting into the Thames

 

The most photographed building in London, Buckingham Palace and home to the Queen. The flag is up which means she was home and probably sleeping peacefully while 24/7 Police guard the front
    
 
The stunning Horse Guard’s Parade building with the London Eye peeping over in the background

 
5am delivery to a pub in central London
  
 
Downing Street! the home of our Prime Minister which is also guarded at all times. At least the Policemen gave me a smile.

As if these magnificent photos and lack of people and traffic aren’t reason enough to visit London in the middle of the night, the best bit is…. It’s free! There is no £25 tour fee like the open top bus tours, no congestion charges and generally easier to park your car in the middle of the night.
This is true of any big city in the World. Night time is there for a reason other than to sleep.

Highly, highly recommended.

Do you fly more than once a year? Get ready to pay more tax…

Do you fly more than once a year? Get ready to pay more tax…

  
In the recent national controversial debates with regards to the planned expansion of London Aiports (Heathrow and Gatwick) and the effects it will have on our environment, another solution may have been found. Green Peace MP, Caroline Lucas has, for some time, been backing an idea of replacing APD (Air Passenger Duty, which is basically the bulk of the tax we all pay when we fly) with FFL (Frequent Flyer Levy).

The idea behind this scheme is that the people who fly the most will pay more tax than those who take an annual holiday. It is thought the most frequent flyers are just 15% of the population but they take a whopping 70% of the flights and approximately 90% of these are short haul, so Green Peace hope that by implementing a scheme resulting in frequent travellers having to pay more tax to fly (increasing with each outbound flight per annum) will ease the strain on airports as people will begin to use trains and other modes of transport. It will also be better for the economy and residents near the airports.

The good news if you only fly once a year as a family holiday… you may not have to pay any tax at all resulting in very cheap flights!

What are your thoughts on this?

Combatting a fear of flying!

It may be unusual to write about fear of flying on a happy travel blog, but this is a very real problem! I have come across many individuals who struggle to fly or simply will not get on a plane because of this fear.

This is also a fear of mine. A few years ago I became slightly obsessed with the TV show – ‘Air Crash Investigation’ after a few bad experiences on flights then my fear of flying began and I reached the point where I did not want to fly. I clung to my seat during the flight and I couldn’t stand up as I was convinced the aircraft would lose balance if I walked around on it. Every time the plane touched down at its destination it felt like a crazy miracle and I had been saved!! This for me seemed rediculous as I will go to theme parks, water rafting and boats / trains do not make me uncomfortable in the least. Being that travel is my favourite thing in life, this was a problem I had to solve.

I read books and purchased hypnosis DVDs. The two main things I took from this was that the noises you hear during take off and landing are perfectly normal, as are strange movements of the flaps off the wing etc. There is no such thing as an ‘air pocket’, if the plane drops suddenly, this happens!! Just relax. For me, understanding HOW the aircraft actually lifts off the ground and into the sky was the best way to calm my fear. I have studied the basics of aerodynamics during my lifetime, none of which could offer me any real comfort. For me, the best ‘scientific’ explaination I could find to understand how flying works was this simple paragraph;

Imagine you are driving in a car, either as the driver or passenger, and you are travelling at a very high speed. Pop your arm out of the window and make no effort to hold the tone in your arm, just relax it. You will find that the air will actually hold your arm up whilst you are in motion.’

Go ahead, try it, it works! You obviously have to be travelling at a certain speed for it to work. This is how pilots determine how fast an aircraft needs to be travelling down a runway before it can lift off, just down to the size and weight of the plane.

This next bit may sounds rediculous but what I did next to help my fear was accept that a plane crash may happen to me. The fear of it happening was causing me far too much anxiety when weighed up the realistic and highly unlikely possibility of this event ever happening to me. Once I accepted a crash was possible, it no longer seemed like a terrifying omen. Also, working in the Ambulance service and being in the face of death on a regular basis stops it being so scary.

Something to bear in mind if and when anxiety kicks in is that your fear of flying is irrational. In fact, any fear of anything is irrational. In this instance it is literally the fight AND flight syndrome.

The final and by far, the best thing I did in combatting my fear of flying was to book a flight to Australia and South East Asia, by myself. Facing the fear really did help me in this sense. Travelling alone makes you more independent and your inner child gets tucked away.

Give these a try for yourself if you, too struggle with this fear! 🙂

*SECRETS OF THE TRAVEL TRADE* – tips on how to find and book the best and cheapest flights (from an insider!)

Here I am revealing the top secrets of the travel agent / airline ticket industry. I hope you find this useful when you come to purchase your flights!

There are three different types of airlines:- Charter, Budget (low cost) and Scheduled airlines.

Charter flights are usually operated by a package holiday operator and operate a slightly flexible schedule; usually seasonally / once a week e.g, and include the likes of Thomson, Thomas Cook and Monarch and are aimed at holidaymakers.

Budget, or Low Cost flights operate usually a bit more frequently but can still be seasonal (depending on destination) and include Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizz Air, Jet Blue or Virgin Australia etc. They are no frills and low cost and you have to pay for lots of hidden extras such as airport check in and hold luggage.

The third type of flight is scheduled flights; these are the main carriers who run flights on specific routes and specific times and include BA, Virgin, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Delta etc etc etc, the list goes on. Scheduled airlines generally offer a better service in terms of reliability, in flight entertainment, luggage allowance, meals / drinks on board.

I am not going to discuss charter and budget flights in any great depth but I will tell you, they will usually cost you less than a scheduled flight if you have the choice of either options which are flying the same route. If there is any possibility you will need to change the name on the ticket, book with a low cost or charter company as scheduled airlines NEVER allow a name change. You will still need to check the rules of your ticket with your agent to see if a name change is permitted. The other point I will make is that if you want to book a flight with a charter or budget airline, just book direct with the airline / company, on their website or in store. No third party travel agent receives concession or commission on these tickets and with their fees and commission mark up you will often end up paying a lot more, despite what they tell you when booking. By third party I mean they have no direct affiliation with them (for example, this will not apply if booking a Thomsonfly flight through Thomson holidays travel agent.) Booking package holidays with charter flights is pretty much the only time in the travel world where you can find a ‘late deal’. If they have not sold their hotel rooms / flights when the travel dates are approaching, they are likely to drop their prices.

Scheduled flights are the main airlines who deal with travel agents and offer agencies a discounted rate which is why you will normally able to find flights a lot cheaper by booking through a third party than direct on the airlines website. So where do you look to find these flights? How do you know you are getting the best fare possible? This is where I can help you! There are some great tools online and by phone to help you plan your trip.

Firstly you need to consider what type of trip you are looking at. If it is a simple return flight (to and from the same destination and departure point) then you are laughing!! You can search for live availability on various websites and because the travel agents know that you have access to this anywhere, the competition is rife and you can easily get the best rates.

If you are looking at multi-stop flights (visiting various destinations on the SAME ticket) then this can become a little more complex online but I can recommend some fantastic companies who can look at this for you. http://www.opodo.co.uk/ is fantastic for checking multi stop flights online. Alternatively if you prefer to speak to a travel agent over the phone, I can recommend Flight Centre http://www.flightcentre.co.uk/ , Dial A Flight are very knowledgeable with complex itineraries and have access to low fares and various others in the same league. You will need to factor whether or not your ideal trip is realistic. By this I mean, Emirates are based in Dubai so if you use them for a flight to Australia then in theory you can stop in Dubai for a few days en-route. You would not however be able to stop in Dubai and then New York to travel out to Australia. Some airlines offer special tickets that can take you around the world in the correct direction with various stops and it can save you a fortune compared to booked these flights individually online yourself. With these tickets, your best option is to phone a few of the main stream agencies. If you have been given a quote from one, expect to be able to get it around 10% cheaper by shopping around. Agencies will always put mark ups and fees on to your flight. Don’t try to bankrupt the travel agencies but know that you can probably save a few pounds by shopping around.

http://www.skyscanner.co.uk/ is a great tool to check what flights are physically operating the route / date you have entered and gives you the best possible fare for that flight. Whilst sometimes you can go through and book it, bear in mind it sky scanner is just a search engine / flight comparison tool and does not search for live availability and often shows prices that are no longer available to book or the flight could be completely fully booked. I do, however find it very useful to look for flights travelling to obscure places or to play around with the dates.

If you have a preference of airline rather than the best price then your best bet is to find the flight you want on the airlines website and get the direct quote from them, then phone a few mainstream / reputable travel agents to see if they can price beat it. I will come to this again in more details shortly.

I have mentioned some companies above that can be used to check for flight availability that I, personally have had good experiences with in the past. There are some others such as http://www.netflights.co.uk/ , Travel Up, Expedia who often have great rates – shop around!

Business travellers (Inclusive Tour fares) – If you are travelling to certain destinations without a Saturday night stay, you may be familiar with having to pay 3-4 times the cost of a normal ticket! No more…. If you speak to some travel agents, they can hook you up with a deal that includes accommodation for a minimum of 3 nights / or full duration and this potentially will save you hundreds. This is not available in all destinations but USA is a hot spot for these deals. The fact that the travel agent knows you will not be able to get this flight only price online and can do it a lot cheaper WITH accommodation does mean they are likely to include a large profit margin so again, it is always worth getting matching quotes from various reputable agencies to see who can offer the best.

Book in advance – Booking last minute to get the best deals in the world of scheduled airlines is a myth! This only applies with charter flights or package holidays occasionally. Scheduled airlines do not drop their prices last minute, they would actually prefer to send the plane off half empty than to sell cheap seats off to fill the plane.

Be Flexible with Dates!!! You will be surprised how moving the dates around even a day either side could save you many pounds. If your departure date is 31st May for example, always check the 1st June as this could be a new season and therefore have drastically different prices. Its basically worth checking flights 2-3 weeks either side of your ideal dates to travel. If you want to get away in September, avoid departing in the first week as this is still school holiday period and the prices are still hiked up.

Pre Book Seats – do this online as far in advance as you can. SOME airlines will actually let you book bulkhead seats or exit seats online in advance but be warned, they may move you from these seats if someone else needs it more. If you are unable to do it online, speak to your travel agent. Some airlines have now started to charge for this service.

Check in online – usually available 24-48 hours prior to your departure time, check with your airline. check your seated together and any meal requests are showing and print your boarding pass. If the online check in tool is not working, be warned there may be an issue with your flight taking off when it should, you should contact your airline.

Don’t bother with a long connection in an airport just because it saves you £20 off the airline ticket, you are wasting valuable holiday time and will easily spend that in the airport anyway.

How to avoid the summer school holiday prices! This may not work all the time / every year but I am aware than Scotland and England do have different school term dates so if you are prepared to drive to Glasgow for a flight during the English half term, it could save you hundreds if there is a group of you travelling!

I mentioned Flight Centre above, if you click on to their website and scroll to the bottom they offer something called the Lowest Airfare Guarantee. This means if you find a flight cheaper with another travel agent that fills their criteria (ABTA and ATOL bonded / reputable) then they will price beat it by £1. I have used this tool before and ended up paying about £50-60 cheaper than they had originally quoted me. They are a great company to use, reliable and offer good customer service.

Make sure that if you book with a travel agent repeatedly that you occasionally shop around as they could start adding more profit to your bookings once you get comfortable without you even realising it!

Before even factoring in the cost of the ticket, the most important thing you MUST check is that the agent you are considering booking with is both ABTA and ATOL bonded. This gives you financial protection against the failure of the airline you are flying with or the travel agent you are booking with. There is no point in saving £50 on a flight that you may lose £600 on a few later as they have gone into administration. Credit card payment does not give you the same protection, for example if you are abroad and the airline you are due to fly home with goes bust, AMEX are not going to travel out to Corfu and get you home….

Happy bargain flight hunting!

*publisher would like to add that this is all based on personal opinion / review of purchases / products and publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for readers future purchases / products*