London is always a good idea.
Usually that phrase is intended for Paris, but we think London is worthy as well. A trip to London has the potential to be something new every time you visit. As one of the most lively, historic and well-known cities in the world — London hardly needs an introduction. And while visiting London is certainly always a good idea, going in autumn is an even better idea.
Christmas decorations, mulled wine and brisk weather are the perfect addition to the crisp autumn air.
London, and England in general really know how to do their holiday decorations. Visiting as early as the beginning of November gives you a glimpse into the full charm of the holidays in London. By the time Christmas rolls around, every street has transformed into a winter wonderland. After bundling up, spend your days walking through the quaint streets and visiting the Christmas fairs. Pop into one of the seemingly endless picturesque pubs to warm back up and soon you’ll find you can spend an eternity exploring this amazing city.
While there are several Christmas markets in London, here’s two of the top ones:
1. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
This Christmas market is one of the largest and is set in one of the biggest and most iconic parks in the city. This sprawling market features a couple hundred stalls featuring more modern gifts as well as traditional German markets. Whether you’re catching up on holidays gifts for friends and family or looking for gift for yourself, there’s more than enough unique Christmas stalls to stock up!
2. Christmas by the River
There is no prettier stroll along the River Thames than this one — and lit up with picturesque Christmas stalls, lights and mulled wines shops — you’ll be overflowing with cheer. Even better than the market is the view, the sparkling river with a backdrop of Tower Bridge is hard to beat!
But, there’s more than just London!
Once you’ve had your fill of the city, take a drive through the quintessential English countryside to explore the breathtaking Cotswolds. An area made up of tiny villages nestled in the fall foliage made of the trademark yellow stone, a few days out here and you may never want to come home!
Whether you’re wanting to experience just London or want to explore more of the United Kingdom, we can put together the perfect itinerary to make your next vacation amazing!
Here’s a few sample itineraries to inspire you:
London & Country 2017
The Best of Southern England 2017
If these itineraries have inspired you to hop over the pond, contact us to set up an appointment!
Using your phone abroad.
Whichever provider you use, they will have different options for using your service away from home. Be sure to check in with your provider and see if there is an international package that you can pay a nominal fee for the time period that you need it for.
Regardless of if you opt for an international service plan with your provider or not, WiFi can get you a long way. For the most part, doing a bit of searching for WiFi will pay off, but it will certainly not always convenient. In the moments that you find you need a WiFi connection for something that you need at that moment, this is a real pain. The convenience of having an international data package, for many people, is worth the extra fee. Keep in mind that different locations have fundamentally different accessibility to WiFi. If the region that you’re traveling to is sparse on it’s WiFi, perhaps you want to consider speaking with your service provider.
International Roaming Fees
Something you absolutely do not want to find out for yourself is how expensive international roaming fees are. If you aren’t familiar with what this constitutes, check out this horror story. From the e-magazine Conde Nast, “a New Zealand man was fired from his job for racking up a bill of over $23,000 on his company-issued cell phone during a three-week holiday in Sri Lanka. International roaming charges made up $23,350 of the bill, with just $6 spent on international calls and texts. Around 1.5GB of data was used.” You do not want to mess with these. Don’t do it. Pay attention to the kind of service you will need to cover you abroad, turn off the roaming on your phone. Don’t be caught without warning in this situation — it will ruin your vacation.
Backing up your photos.
Speaking of horror stories, here’s another doozy for you. Three months, 13 countries and over 2,000 photos — GONE, without a trace. This happened to my travel companion three days before we were to fly home. Whether your phone becomes damaged or stolen, there are ways to ensure your photos stay safe. There are so many options available when it comes to backing up pictures that there is really no excuse for this to happen to you. The best part about these programs is that once you have set them up, they virtually do all of the work — automatically updating the storage of your photos as you snap them. Options such as iCloud and Amazon have storage space for free and it will save you a massive headache should something happen to your device.
Charging your devices.
Wherever you’re headed, be sure to check if you need an adapter for your chargers. There are several options that combine 4 different adapters into one item.
Additionally, consider a portable charging device if you know that you’ll be out for the day. These power banks can keep you going all day long! Do your research — some are better than others! A portable charge will help you stay ready for photos, using your phone for directions and keeping in touch.
Make sure that you don’t have a lot of applications open. Consider putting your phone into airplane mode when you’re not using it. Combining airplane mode with accessibility to a mobile charger will help to keep you going throughout the day.
Cases and waterproofing.
Protect your assets, y’all. If you’ll be on a beach vacation or somewhere tropical where rain occurs frequently and unpredictably, this may be something you’ll want to think about. If you don’t want to lug the big camera around and opt for your phone or tablet for the day — a waterproof case is great.
Additionally, if you don’t use a sturdy case at home, you may want to beef it up for your trip. Consider a more secure case. It’s a downer to break your phone on vacation and not be able to fix it until you return home.
There are some really life saving phone applications out there now and seemingly an app for everything. From offline maps to foreign language translators — there are many options to make your trip go a bit more smoothly.
There are few things as unsettling and nerve racking as hiccups in travel plans, cancellations, delays, and health issues in foreign countries.
Forget about the initial inconvenience of these situations and consider the full and total impact that they can have on your vacation. It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to have come in handy, but thank your lucky stars for if you need it.
Don’t let this be you.
A prime example of one of these situations happened to a young man I met while traveling to Slovenia. He told me of his nightmare experience. While in Croatia, he had one of his arms swell up to two to three times it’s normal size — without knowing what had caused this. He was taken to a hospital in Croatia and treated by a doctor and staff that spoke no English. Luckily, he knew exactly what had caused the massive swelling — a small bug bite. Thankfully, he was covered by his travel insurance. Had he not been covered he would have been hesitant to seek medical attention. Having to consider paying these expenses out of pocket is not something you want to have to think about. Fortunately, he was able to be treated and even continue on his planned travels.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Travel insurance can cover a plethora of events. Lost luggage, cancelled flights, health concerns abroad, hospitalization and a range of other unexpected circumstances can be covered. Like any insurance policy, different companies offer different coverage — luckily, this is where a travel agent comes in handy. Agents have the experience of working with many companies and policies and therefore know what will be a good fit for the type of trip you are taking.
Other Insurance at home.
While you may be fully covered for nearly everything in your home country, this does not cover you abroad. This does not cover you abroad. Some credit card companies offer some sort of travel insurance, but most likely it is very limited. To ensure you will be covered while traveling, we can ensure you have travel insurance.
Again, this is something that you hope you will never have to use.
Even a healthy, seasoned traveler can fall victim to foreign parasites, stolen luggage, and unexpected partial trip cancellations. Being prepared for the unexpected will keep your vacation worry free and be a lot less stressful should something arise.
Not only can we help you with travel insurance, our travel agents are on your side should something occur. We’re here to keep you on the move!
While direct flights are typically sought after, they can be especially life-saving for those traveling with children. This simple tip can save hours of travel time — not to mention less time lugging bags around and navigating your way through terminals will keep the whole family a little bit more content. A straight shot to your destination will help the everyone arrive more eager for vacation mode then spending an entire day just getting there.
Bring snacks and treats.
Airports jack up the cost for everything, especially meals — don’t be caught without snacks throughout the day and end up spending far too much money on them. This especially comes in handy if you, or the kids have dietary restrictions. While there are certainly dining and snack options in many airports, it may be better to bring what you and like as well as the kids favorites! Even water will cost you an arm and a leg. Bring your own refillable bottles — many airports now have bottle filling stations — and save yourself the money and plastic!
Stock up a tablet.Travel days will leave you with seemingly endless empty hours and restless children. Books, movies, and games on a tablet game while away a chunk of that time when there are limited options for entertainment. But, don’t place all you eggs in the electronic basket — keep some non-battery entertainment handy — coloring books, cards and other toys that don’t need a charge. Another great way to keep children entertained is to encourage them to keep a travel journal — involve them in the trip as much as possible! They can draw pictures of their favorite parts of the trip or journal about the experience getting there.
Get the insurance.
Do it. While travel insurance is certainly recommended for all travelers, don’t take your chances with children that are more susceptible to foreign places and germs. Getting travel insurance will help you keep your peace of mind throughout the trip. Consider the peace of mind and confidence of having insurance should something arise.
Choose your destination wisely.
Depending on your needs as a family when traveling, think about the particulars of a destination as you think about where you would like to go. Consider an all-inclusive resort with plenty of activities for all ages and a wide variety of food for picky eaters. Another great option is a family cruise that keeps children and adults busy and entertained. While a lovely stay in Bora Bora sitting on the beach may initially sound wonderful, younger kids could be bored with the lack of activities.
We can help with this — knowing the ins and outs of different countries, resorts, and destinations allows us to make recommendations based on family travel.
Cut down on luggage and rent!
It’s already difficult enough toting around your own luggage and managing to remember everything. There are many popular destinations that have rentals — playpens, strollers, cribs and more that are available to rent. Try and keep your travels as stress-free as possible. In doing so, you and the whole family will have a much more enjoyable time. Lugging around your own personal luggage as well as the kids and then the strollers and other equipment can be a real hassle!
Don’t over plan.
Slow down! There are few things that can bring the mood of a vacation down than tired, grumpy kids. This tip can be a trip-saver. While it’s tempting to cram many activities and attractions into your short vacation time, your trip as a whole will be more enjoyable if you slow down. Make a clear list of your absolutely “must-see’s” and we’ll help to plan a trip around those. Cram a plethora of activities into a short period and everyone may find themselves worn out and unhappy.
If you’re traveling with family and looking for a truly stress free vacation, contact us to help plan your entire vacation!
When you are tired of planning your own trip or you’ve realized that you aren’t very good at it, contact a professional travel advisor and experience the countless benefits that will keep you travelling with a smile from ear to ear.