Budget Airlines – the saviours of summer holidays?

Budget Airlines, those “jackals” of the travel industry which more often than not are damned for “penny pinching and price gouging” are now being praised by one tour operator for saving this summer’s holiday season.

Said Laurence Hicks, Director of tour operator and holiday rentals company CLC Leisure, “In the face of a double dip recession it looks like 2012 is going to be a bumper year for holidays abroad. Much of the credit must go to the budget airlines for making sure that holidays to the popular sunshine destinations remain affordable and accessible.”

His comments come on the back of figures from Easy Jet which reported that passenger numbers increased by 10.9% to 16 million in the three months to the end of June driven by demand for holidays to the top three beach destinations of Malaga, Alicante and Faro. Meanwhile, Ryanair’s latest figures show a fall in profits primarily due to keeping fares down while fuel prices have increased by 27 percent.

“Budget airlines have also helped keep the lid on scheduled and charter air fares,” continued Hicks. “Sales figures across the board have confounded the doom merchants who were predicting a staycation summer. The wet weather and favourable exchange rates have helped but what has become a bumper summer for holidays abroad would not have happened without affordable air travel.”

Have budget airlines saved the summer holidays, or, with all the extras they add on, are they just as expensive as traditional, full-service airlines?

Airport panic buying costs £395 million a year

As if holidays aren’t expensive enough, it seems we Brits are increasing the cost of our holidays by spending an estimated £395 million a year on last-minute “essentials” at the airport before boarding our flights.

In a survey conducted for Virgin Atlantic’s 747 In-Flight Entertainment Development Team researchers found that 90% of British travellers hit panic mode as soon as they arrive in the departures lounge and purchase around 12 items, including food and drink supplies and gadgets for children.

The survey identified the top ten must-have flight essentials are:

  1. Books and magazines – 32%
  2. Bottled water and other soft drinks – 28%
  3. Snacks -14%
  4. Tech gadgets for kids – 7%
  5. Ear plugs – 3%
  6. Flight socks – 3%
  7. Toiletries – 3%
  8. Tech gadgets for adults – 2%
  9. Flight pillow – 1%
  10. Back support cushion- 1%
    Other – 6%

While some of these purchases are unavoidable, such as drinks and snacks, how many of these are unnecessary extras that we really don’t need?

Small Business, Small Budget: 10 Ways to Expand Your Company’s Reach Without Breaking the Bank

For some companies, sending staff to other cities with the intent of building relationships with clients is essential. But, it can also be expensive. Things like accommodations, car hire (for cheap prices, try Nova Car Hire), airfare, and meals can quickly add up to a big bill.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to keep your company’s expenses under control, all while forming essential relationships… Read on to discover 10 ways you can expand your company’s reach without spending an arm and a leg:

  1. Book early – We know that business meetings may come up last minute and you don’t have a choice but to book your airfare within days of leaving. But when you can, try to book airfare in advance to get in on much better deals.
  2. Fly Tuesday through Thursday – Most business travelers fly on Mondays and Fridays so flying on these off-peak days will help you save money on airfare and possibly even hotels. They’ll be less busy so they’ll need the business!
  3. Travel lightly – Today, airlines charge you fees for everything – sodas, snacks, baggage and more. Next time you go on a business trip, pack light and fit everything into a carry on to avoid the charge for checking a bag.
  4. Avoid taxis – If you’re unfamiliar with a city, the easiest way to get around seems to be a taxi because you can tell the driver exactly where you need to go. But, did you ever think of how much extra money that costs you? Instead, try taking a bus or other public transport system.
  5. Ask for an upgrade – If you’re renting a car, ask the desk if they can offer you a free upgrade. If you travel with them often, many are able to upgrade you to the next size without costing you a dime.
  6. Ask for a corporate discount – As you can tell, we firmly believe that “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” Next time you’re traveling with business partners, ask whether a hotel or car rental company offers corporate discounts. Sometimes these can save you a good chunk of money – and the worst they can do is say no.
  7. Look for an extended stay hotel – If you’re staying in your destination city for more than two nights, consider using an extended-stay hotel. These hotels usually offer great rates and also have a larger living space and kitchenette – so as a bonus, you can also save money on meals by making your own.
  8. Look for free WiFi – If you’re on a business trip, chances are you and your partners will need WiFi. When booking your hotel, look for one that offers free WiFi because even those small daily fees at other hotels can add up quickly.
  9. Do lunch instead of dinner – Dinner meetings can get quite pricey, especially if you’re entertaining clients. When you can, schedule a lunch meeting instead so you’ll save money while still getting the benefit.
  10. Opt for the continental breakfast – You know what they say – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Instead of spending a lot of money on a meal in a local restaurant, look for a hotel that has reasonable rates and also offers a complimentary breakfast. You and your business partners will be fueled up and ready to go for the day.

Before you embark on your next business trip, be sure to keep these tips in mind. They’ll help your company save money while keeping your clients happy.

About the Author:

Laura Murphy has led the eclectic vagabond life, traveling here and there and now has settled into the perfect gig for the perpetual itinerant: writing for the money-saving gurus at www.novacarhire.com! She’s learned a thing or two about saving money on travel and hopes you follow her on her quest to share her lessons with folks who have a traveler’s heart, if not the budget.

Heathrow helps children pinpoint holiday destinations

According to research, our children are turning into a bunch of globe trekkers with almost 78 percent of children surveyed having travelled abroad.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of Heathrow Airport, surveyed 1,000 children between the ages of six and ten and found that by the age of ten most children have been abroad five times.

However, in spite of this amount of travel, it doesn’t seem to be help them with their geography. The survey’s amazing findings revealed that, although 78% have been abroad, 12% of those surveyed couldn’t pinpoint the UK on a map of the world, 41% didn’t know the UK was in Europe and 42% didn’t know where the USA was.

The most easily identifiable countries were: Australia with 78% pinpointing it on the map and Russia, 73%.

Heathrow is aiming to redress this lack of knowledge by installing giant globes in each of its terminals this Easter, including a giant 10’ globe in Terminal 5 departures, to help its younger passengers learn more about the world around them and make their journeys better.

Airport staff will also hand out 20,000 maps to young travellers, adding to their excitement about the destinations ahead and helping them to understand more about different cultures and geographical locations across the world.

Jet Lag – symptoms and solutions

Don’t you just hate jet lag? Just when you think you’ve escaped work for two precious weeks and enjoy your summer holiday, jet lag strikes and you feel exhausted, yet you can’t sleep at the right time, you’ve got headaches, can’t eat properly and you just don’t feel ‘right’.

The effects of jet lag can be so bad it can affect your enjoyment of your holiday for days.

Jet lag affects us when our body’s rhythms are out of sync with the time at our destination – the body operates on a 24-hour cycle, and travelling to a different time zone alters the body’s natural rhythm leading to jet lag. The more time zones you travel through the worse the symptoms can be, and travelling west to east is worse than travelling east to west, as it’s harder to adapt to a reduced number of hours in a day than it is to add a few hours.

The symptoms of jet lag can include all or some of the following:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration
  • Disorientation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Digestive problems
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Irritability or anxiety

Generally, the length of your flight doesn’t cause jet lag, it’s the amount of time zones you travel through. For every time zone travelled through it can take up to a day to recover!

While there is no miracle cure, you can take steps to minimize the effects of jet lag.

As dehydration can play an important part in jet lag it is important to drink plenty of fluids – water ideally, however, fruit juice or herbal teas will be okay. Try to avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine.

Adapting to time differences
Try to adapt to your destination time as soon as possible. Set your watch to the destination time as soon as you board the plane, try to eat at times appropriate to your destination time, not departure time.

If you are due to arrive at your destination in the morning, try sleeping on the plane. Yes, I do know how difficult it is to sleep in such cramped conditions, but try taking off your shoes, getting as comfortable as possible and just closing your eyes – an eye mask and ear plugs will help block out distractions.

If you are due to arrive at night, do try to stay awake during the flight. If you sleep on the plane you will find it difficult sleeping when you arrive and it will take more time to adjust during your holiday.

You may find it useful to gradually adjust your daily routine by an hour a day for a few days before you travel – getting up an hour earlier or staying up later for a few days may help you adjust quicker when you arrive.

If it’s daytime when you arrive and you feel tired, try to resist the temptation to sleep. Get outside into the sunshine. Daylight and sunshine are a major factor in resetting your body clock. If you simply must sleep, set your alarm and try not to sleep for more than an hour.

Fight the flab with a ski holiday

Looking for a way to shift those extra pounds put on over Christmas? Well, one airline, is advocating skiing and snowboarding as the perfect way to whittle off the weight put on by festive feasting.

Apparently, whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned pro, each hour on the slopes provides a complete body work-out burning between 300-500 calories (source livestrong.com).

Skiing and boarding also improve aerobic fitness, strength, muscle tone, balance and agility.

Jet2, which offers flights to many ski destinations, has suggested the following ski fit tips to help make the most of your time on the slopes:

  • Improve ski stamina with three 20 minutes sessions of uninterrupted cardio each week
  • If cycling, running and other more traditional exercise regimes are not for you, try joining the Zumba craze to boost cardio fitness
  • Biking, the cross trainer and step are great for building up leg strength
  • Yoga or general stretching help with suppleness making your muscles more prepared
  • Pilates and abdominal exercises help with core strength giving vital back support when you’re on the slopes
  • Strengthen leg, bum and tum muscles with squats and knee raises
  • Don’t forget to give shoulders and backs a boost to build core strength and help balance.

The airline also suggests taking care of mind, body and soul when you arrive by:

  • Skiing away stress – clear your mind and whittle down your worries as you focus on overcoming the mountain terrain rather than everyday stresses
  • Burning more calories – it doesn’t get much healthier than a ski trip. Burning calories and fresh clean air combined with exercise at high altitude means a better aerobic workout
  • Getting a natural high – mountain air, magnificent views and exercise are great for releasing serotonin – making you feel happy and increasing natural immunity
  • Stretching before and after is just as important on the slopes as it is in your pre trip regime
  • Respect the environment – observe and follow the information and advice regarding your resort, be mindful of weather predicted, respect the boundaries of the piste unless you have experience and equipment for off-piste environments.

Ian Doubtfire, Managing Director of Jet2.com, said: “To be able to maximize enjoyment of the holiday and to avoid annoying aches and pains whilst away we recommend an exercise programme prior to hitting the slopes. At this time of year many people are looking to rid themselves of extra inches accumulated over the festive period and getting fit to ski provides a great way to recover from over indulgences.”

All inclusive holidays see increase in popularity

In these tough economic times it seems that our budgets are being squeezed from all directions. The rising cost of food, fuel and limits on wage increases mean that there has never been a more important time to keep control of our spending, particularly when it comes to taking a holiday.

When you book flights and accommodation you know what the price is, however, it can be difficult to know how much the rest of your holiday will cost. It’s hard to know how much spending money you will need and how cheap or expensive food, drink and activities will be at your resort. While you can always take a look at online resort reviews and talk to travel agents, a good way to keep control of your holiday spending is to take an all inclusive holiday.

All-inclusive holidays have been around for many years and originally were only available to far-flung destinations and luxury destinations. These days, there are many types of all inclusive holidays available. In fact, the market for all-inclusive is expanding – recent research by Mintel showed that between 2004 and 2009 the all-inclusive holiday market had increased by 32%.

So what are the benefits of all-inclusive holidays and who are they suitable for?

  • All-inclusive holidays are suitable for all sorts of budgets, from economy to luxury, and many types of travellers including families and those looking for activity holidays
  • When booking an all inclusive holiday you know at the outset what your holiday will cost as the price usually includes flights, in resort transfers, hotel accommodation, meals and unlimited local drinks
  • As most things are included in the price of the package, you won’t be affected by fluctuating currency – it won’t matter if the value of sterling goes up or down
  • With meals included, you don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat, you can just relax and enjoy your holiday.

Things to watch out for:

  • Be aware that most all-inclusive holidays only provide free local drinks – usually branded drinks are available at an additional charge
  • Although you may have a choice of on-resort / in-hotel restaurants to eat in, if you do venture outside your resort and wish to eat there, you will have to pay for food and drink if you choose to eat outside your resort
  • In a growing holiday market, there’s a whole host of companies providing all types of inclusive holiday packages, so when booking an all inclusive holiday, check what is and isn’t included in the price – some packages include activities, some include late-night, out-of-hours snacks and some packages even include branded drinks.

Always ask your travel agent or check online before booking an all inclusive holiday.

Twelve Reasons to celebrate Christmas in Cyprus

From balmy temperatures to the magic of a Greek Orthodox Christmas, there’s as much to tempt visitors to Cyprus during the months of December and January as at any other time of year.

Just a four-hour flight from the UK, a break in Cyprus remains a popular mid-winter retreat with visitors from Britain – 136,000 Brits alone visited the island last winter.

Twelve of the top winter highlights for visitors to experience in Cyprus over Christmas and the New Year:

  1. Winter warmth
    Average winter daytime temperatures throughout Cyprus rarely dip below 20°C and with 340 days of sunshine a year there are still plenty of rays to catch throughout December and January. Balmy temperatures mean winter can be one of the best times to explore all the island has to offer.
  2. Christmas Day dip
    Adventurous beach lovers can even enjoy the island’s beautiful blue-flag beaches year-round with sea temperatures remaining in the high-teens throughout the Christmas and New Year period – perfect for an invigorating Christmas Day dip!
  3. Traditional Cypriot Christmas
    Christmas (pronounced Christouyenna in Greek) is celebrated with plenty of delicious Cypriot food and the honouring of age-old traditions. Unique to the region is the habit of hanging crosses wrapped in basil and sprinkled with holy water on the front door of a house to ward off the Goblin-like spirits known as ‘kallikantzari’, which are said to make mischief during the twelve days of Christmas.
  4. Marvel in seasonal Byzantine spectaculars
    Christmas is marked in towns and villages across the island with magical processions, usually accompanied by carols, called “kalanda”, which have been handed down from generation to generation since Byzantine times. The major festival on Christmas day is held in Nicosia in Eleftheria (Freedom) Square, while one of the most dramatic services is held in Larnaca on 5 January, when young swimmers dive for a cross, only to return it to the priest.
  5. Make merry with live performance and song
    Cyprus has a colourful year-round cultural scene and winter is no exception. Special concerts and events take place across the island, from local bands, choirs, orchestras, dancers and groups through to Viva Verdi – Moscow New Opera in Rialto, Liamssol (22 December). Nicosia’s Eleftheria Square is one of the main places to catch live acts with performances everyday from 17 – 30 December. At the entrance of the Pafos Mosaics near the harbour there is free entertainment every Sunday.
  6. Treat your tastebuds
    The heart of every Cypriot home is the kitchen so food plays a major role in the Cypriot Christmas celebrations. Loaves of Christopsomo (Christ Bread), normally accompanied by dried figs, nuts and honey, are eaten on Christmas Eve. Familiar dishes such as stuffed turkey, roast chicken and roast lamb are traditionally served on Christmas day. Also very popular are the traditional cakes such as ‘kourabiedes’, a delicious small almond cake coated in icing sugar, ‘melomakarona’, a traditional honey cake, and ‘finikia’, a kind of walnut pie.
  7. A taste of home
    For those for whom Christmas would not be Christmas without a proper dinner with all the trimmings, most hotels also observe UK traditions as well, with festive decorations and traditional British fare.
  8. Celebrate New Year, Cyprus-style
    New Year is an important date for families in Cyprus. The 1st January marks the Feast of St Basil, the region’s equivalent to St Nicholas, and the day is the main date for present giving. Some of the best parties on New Year’s Eve are around the town hall in downtown Limassol, but most big hotels also host parties. No visitor should celebrate New Year in Cyprus without a taste of Vassilopitta, or Saint Basil’s cake, baked with a silver or gold coin to bring good luck to the person who finds it.
  9. Won’t break the bank
    During the winter season accommodation costs in Cyprus are at their lowest. Shopping around should see lower flight costs as well, especially if you can be flexible with your travel dates. Many bars and restaurants in the island’s main tourist destinations offer discounted rates out of season, but with the same excellent levels of service you would expect in the summer months.
  10. Drive time
    Car hire is also exceptional value at this time of year. With a two-day hire from as little as €30, visitors have the perfect excuse to explore the island under their own steam. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation has teamed up with the Travel Foundation to create 6 self-drive routes guiding visitors to some of the most beautiful and special parts of the hidden rural interior of the island.
  11. Boutique wineries
    Six wine routes crisscross the island, taking in some of the best of the 40 or so boutique wineries which have sprung up on the island in recent years. Cypriot wine production dates back almost 5,000 years. Numerous boutique wineries with modern facilities have sprung up in the last 5 years. Highlights include local xinisteri and mavro grapes or the delicious Commandaria sweet white.
  12. Return in better health than when you left
    Wellbeing holidays are one of the fastest-growing areas of the tourism industry in Cyprus. The island has seen a number of exciting new high quality spas and health farms open in recent years. With its year-round good climate and varied terrain, Cyprus offers every kind of activity and opportunity, from hiking and cycling to intense yoga stays and relaxing spa breaks. Added to this are treatments indigenous to the island, such as the chance to be immersed in the healing waters at Ayii Anargyri.

Potential Icelandic Volcanic Eruption Comment

With the BBC reporting that a ‘New Icelandic volcano eruption could have global impact’: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15995845 Moneymaxim.co.uk, the website which specialises in Travel Insurance covering natural disasters and travel disruption, comments:

Mark Bower, Managing Director of Moneymaxim, said: “Scientists and experts believe that the Katla volcano in Iceland could soon erupt, indicating that there has been 500 tremors in the last month alone. The potential devastation for Iceland could be catastrophic, with any resulting volcanic ash cloud bringing the world’s aviation to a halt.

“Ever since the initial Icelandic eruption in the Spring of 2010 we have been tracking Travel Insurers who will cover the impact of major travel disruption caused by Natural Disasters, including Volcanic Explosions.

“Many of those who did provide cover for the original incident no longer do so, whilst others have developed specific policies covering major travel disruption.

“However with every eruption we get calls from travellers who have left it too late to buy their insurance and are facing significant financial losses if their airport were to close. Whilst there are policies that can be bought after an eruption has occurred they have significant limitations and we definitely recommend buying now and then being safe in the knowledge you are protected if the worse happens.”

Border Agency strike could cause delays at airports and ports

Visitors to the UK today, 30 November 2011, could experience disruption and delays due to border agency staff joining other public sector workers in strike action over pension reforms.

Ports and airports are set to be affected with Gatwick warning of ‘significant delays’ and Heathrow has contacted airlines requesting that they reduce load factors to alleviate pressure on border checks.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has said that it has robust plans in place to maintain the security of the border.

Tips to help avoid delays when passing through border control today:

  • Use e-Passport gates where available
  • Have travel documents, including passports, ready
  • Fully complete landing cards
  • Stay in family groups.