Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Short Break Solution

Whether it is due to a dislike of rushing to make tight connecting flights, crowed airports or a simple fear of flying, increasing numbers of travellers simply don’t want to get fly long distances by airplane. International terrorism, bird flu, language barriers and the risk of getting ‘Delhi belly’ are also contributing to a boost in the UK domestic tourism industry with the market now estimated to be worth over £59 billion per annum.

Figures show that travellers who prefer making their trips within the UK rather than abroad, tend to journey more frequently but for shorter lengths of time, with the average period of a trip within the UK being just over 3 nights.

One possible explanation for the domestic short break trend is the powerful DINKY (Double Income No Kids Yet) demographic. With a high disposable income but perhaps not a great deal of free time due to heavy work commitments, the DINKY’s holiday of choice is the short break. Heading straight off on holiday after work is particularly appealing to a group who are looking to fit as much into a 2-3 day break as possible. They can also afford more than one holiday a year so dividing up their annual leave allocation into multiple short breaks is the perfect solution.

Home grown attractions such as Royal Ascot, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis, Henley Royal and the Edinburgh International Festival are just a few of the internationally renowned events keeping the domestic tourist here during the summer months.

Another potential reason for this reduced length stay is possibly due to the generally high prices charged for UK hotel rooms. The UK has one of the highest rates of VAT levied on accommodation in the EU; with only Denmark imposing higher rates. In addition a new ‘Bed Tax’ is being proposed as part of a series of Government tax reviews. This will mean an additional 10% tax could be added on top of the current 17.5% VAT making the UK the most heavily taxed holiday destination in Europe.

Whether it’s a shopping break to take advantage of the sales, a family theme park break with the kids, a luxury pampering break or a peaceful country break to simply escape the hustle and bustle of city living, it’s all within easy reach through the specialist online travel companies who are able to offer wide ranges in choice for short breaks including hotel accommodation at discounted rates. Using online travel companies such as Superbreak ( ), who specialise in booking 2-5 star hotel accommodation throughout the UK, Europe and beyond, means it is possible to book theatre and event tickets and arrange accommodation in advance, whilst also saving money.

Once you’ve decided where you’re going on your short break there remains the mundane but highly recommended task of finding suitable travel insurance and the best price. This is where online sites offering financial comparison services ( ) such as Moneynet, come into their own and do the searching for you. Moneynet’s travel insurance quick quote finder asks you 3 simple questions (where, who and how long?) and then brings back numerous quotes within a matter of seconds. You simply need to select the quote most appropriate to your needs and buy! Let’s face it, the financial world is a vast and complicated place and most people are not properly equipped to quickly search through it all – so leave the hard work to them and enjoy a short break instead!

The New Edition of the Rough Guide to Wales

The Rough Guides are distributed worldwide by the Penguin group and include recommendations from shoestring to luxury, covering more than 200 destinations around the globe, including almost every country in the Americas and Europe, more than half of Africa and most of Asia and Australasia. The team of authors and photographers is spread all over the world, particularly in Europe, the USA and Australia.

The Rough Guide to Wales has a new edition published less than a month ago. This is the fifth edition.

As in any good Rough Guide you can find here information about the best places to see as well as about what to avoid in Wales, the most “beguiling” parts of Britain.

In the top of the attractions compiled by the Rough Guide to Wales, you can find the south Wales valleys. Newport’s transporter bridge is placed on the third position by the authors. The interesting part is that the British version of the guide book has the same opinion and describes the valleys as an “interesting and distinctive” corner of Wales. There are a lot of people saying that the area’s success is due to the people who friendly and supportive and to the picturesque countryside and they bring they own experience in the area as a proof. Others are saying that what made the valleys the top attraction is the rich heritage and history of the valleys and some are thinking that the regeneration of the road networks was “ruining the area’s natural beauty”.

Mike Parker and Paul Whitfield, the authors of the fifth edition of the Rough Guide to Wales, are also presenting the disappointing part of Wales. Criticized parts of Wales were the town centre hotels which are “often just rooms above a noisy bar”. Other descriptions found in the guide are the “loud and lairy” Newport, the “breezy and resurgent” Swansea and the “crowning glory” of north Wales – Snowdonia.

Another point made by the authors and not to be ignored by the visitors is the warning that “The worst thing you can possibly do is call a Welsh person English”. The Rough Guide to Britain also claims Welsh people are “resentful of English dominance”.

The Surprising Popularity of Cigar Smoking

The practice of cigar smoking has been on the rise in the U.S. since the early 90’s. In part due to a reputation as a glamorous alternative to cigarette smoking, the increase can also be tied to its popularity among celebrities, as well as to the social nature of its practice. But whatever the reason, it is clear that cigars are big business in the U.S. with higher sales of premium brands each and every year.

Magazines like Cigar Aficionado portray cigar smoking as alluring, and perhaps slightly risqué (particularly for women), and so the hobby strikes a cord with young Americans. Celebrities are often photographed at parties or social gatherings with a cigar in hand, and cigar lounges find regular folks trying to emulate these stars. Clubs and societies, particularly those dominated by men, often design their regular activities around the ritual of cigar smoking.

In general, cigar smoking is viewed as the “civilized” alternative to cigarette smoking. Unlike cigarettes, cigars have a distinct, elegant stigma attached to them that often appeals to young people, particularly those with a higher than average income. They are most often associated with an elevated status in society, and the many of the available cigar accessories reflect that fact.

One of the most prominent cigar accessories, the humidor, reflects the overall style and refined nature of cigar smoking among young Americans. More expensive humidors are hand crafted out of wood. They serve not only to protect and preserve the product within but also to display them in a tasteful and fashionable manner. Large humidors may cost many hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and are often fixtures in the homes of the wealthy.

But despite their prominence among the upper class, the increased affordability and availability of quality cigars has also contributed to an overall increase in cigar smoking over recent years. Today discount cigars are readily available for purchase, often from easy-to-find online merchants, at prices well below normal. Cigar stores have increasingly moved to the Web in order to offer a wider variety of brands to any location at a fraction of the usual cost.

In part because of its current glamour and in part because of its practical affordability, cigar smoking has never been hotter, trendier or more profitable in the U.S.

A Great Vacation and Travel Destination

The Biltmore Estate consists of an immense mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 1800s. It is the largest home that is privately owned in the United States and the descendents of the Vanderbilts still own the home. It is amazingly large at 175,000 square feet. The available tours of the home are simply incredible and it is unbelievable to tour the home and realize that more than 130 years ago architecture, design, and the like were so advanced.

The best time to visit if you want to save money is during the winter months. And, many times the North Carolina winter is fairly mild so you won’t be worried about freezing to death when visiting. Hotel prices are much cheaper during this off season and you can even get a winter pass for $35, which is considerable savings!

If you want to really enjoy the atmosphere of the Biltmore Estate then staying at the Inn is really the best route. The Biltmore Inn is beautiful and located on the Biltmore Estate and when you stay there you receive free entrance into the Biltmore Estate. This is a great way to combine the hotel with the tour and save money while really enjoying the atmosphere.

The Biltmore Estate is also a great place to host meetings, conferences, weddings, and even to shoot movies. The grounds are exquisite and the home is gorgeous and is the perfect place for any special event. While you are in Asheville, North Carolina you should also check out the Urban Trail. This is a walking trail that teaches individuals about Asheville’s history and architecture. Famous author Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home is in Asheville as well and a tour of his home place is interesting and inspiring.

When you head to Asheville, North Carolina you will have an amazing vacation. You can spend time at just the Biltmore Estate, or you can venture out and see more of the area. But, whatever you do, one thing is for certain and that is that you will love the experience.

The future is another country

It’s grey and chilly. Throngs of thirty and forty somethings lumber through the drizzle to an agricultural hall outside Coventry. I pay the £11 entrance fee and once through the door everything changes. Sunny optimism illumines the interior. Maple-leaf flags hang like bunting while red, white and blue balloons jostle for attention with inflatable kangaroos and surfboards. This is Emigrate, the largest migration exhibition in Britain, at which financial advisers, estate agents and lawyers from more than 60 organisations offer advice to 7,000 visitors on how to gain entry to new lands of opportunity.

I join the queue of visitors who are eager to discover how to clinch the golden ticket: an Australian visa. We take our seats and the game-show begins. On the stage, a smiling Australian migration lawyer talks up the prize of a one-way ticket to the land of surf, sun and beer. “Once you get a visa you can sit on the beach for the rest of your life. You don’t need to work if you don’t want to.”

At Emigrate, points win prizes. Later in the day, at stalls dotted around the fair, there are talks on how to gain the differing number of points required for entry by Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Each country has its own list of desired skills and professions and the fair’s walls are pasted with posters cataloguing each nation’s sought-after occupations. Are you a bee-keeper? A civil servant? Welcome to New Zealand. Hairdresser? Last year Australia was desperate for you.

Now, after admitting large numbers of Chinese and Indian scissor-hands, hairdressers are no longer required. Qualification for permanent residence can be a lottery but there are some certainties. All countries allocate more points for youth, English-language fluency and education. And if you are an entrepreneur with thousands to invest in your new country, Australia, New Zealand and America all want you.

Myths about points swirl around the show. To demonstrate the abundant migration misinformation, the presenter, Ben Willis, a migration agent and lawyer, asks, Paul McKenna-style, for a guinea pig who believes he or she has the 120 points to qualify for permanent Australian residency.

The victim says confidently that he is an engineer, aware Australia is desperate for them. “Do you have a BSc in engineering?” the presenter asks. “No. I switched careers later and took an MSc in engineering,” he replies. It is not enough. The BSc would have given him the necessary points but the MSc counts for less.

The volunteer’s face falls. The presenter looks vindicated: “My main message is: don’t assume you will manage to get 120 points,” he says.

Registering the wavering mood in the audience, he attempts to gee them up: “It’s worth going through the hurdles or else you’ll be stuck on the M1 thinking, ‘what am I doing here?’ Australia is the best place to be. Once you’ve made a decision to come, just do it.”

To keep wannabe migrants’ eyes fixed on the prize, we are introduced by video link-ups to Brits who have leapt through the migration hoops to settle in new countries. At one talk, entitled “Chat with Brits in Canada”, we’re presented to Maxine, a migratory role model who moved from London to Ontario two years ago: “She got a whopping 79 points! She only needed 67 to qualify!”. Canada’s craving for her postgraduate social work qualifications ratcheted up her score.

The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona – A Great Vacation and Travel Destination

You must plan a vacation to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. It is just simply amazing and the maze of canyons, fissures, and gorges intertwine and merge to create one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders. You can actually see the different colors of the rock in the many layers that make up the canyon not to mention the way the sun reflects on them, and then the shadow, affects their color, which is awe inspiring in and of itself. The beauty of the Canyon is one thing, the size is another and it is just as amazing if not more so.

The canyon is huge and that may even be an understatement. The canyon measures between 10 and 15 miles wide and is more than 200 miles long. At some parts of the canyon it measures nearly a mile to the bottom. Can you imagine looking over the edge of the canyon and the ground being a mile below? It truly is one of the must see places in the world, let alone the United States. The Grand Canyon National Park includes the Grand Canyon and other sites and is located north of Flagstaff, Arizona, by about 75 miles. It will take about an hour and a half to get to the north rim’s visitor center from Flagstaff, or if you are in Las Vegas plan on a five hour drive. The south rim’s visitor center requires a 200 mile drive although it is only 10 miles away if you could fly your car over!

The south rim is the best place to visit if you are only visiting one of the rims. That is because the views are outstanding and it has more facilities than the north rim center. More tourists visit the south rim because the north rim is closed from October to May. If you are a backpacker or don’t like crowds then you might prefer the north rim. The Grand Canyon Village is a great place to stay when visiting because there are hotels, souvenir shops, and restaurants near the south rim.

The best thing to do when visiting the Grand Canyon is to allow yourself plenty of time. There is a lot to see and although it might look like you can do it all in one day you may not be able to and really enjoy it. So, give yourself plenty of time when you are at the Grand Canyon so you can see all the rims, head down to the basin, whitewater raft, and just enjoy this beautiful natural wonder.