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The World First Wander: the best travel writing on the Internet

March 20th, 2015

The World First Wander: the best travel writing on the Internet

travel

Welcome, once again, to our weekly look at some of our favourite travel blogs and articles from the last week or so. As always it is compiled by our social media man, Tristan Rothwell .

This week we look at accessible travel, learn about first aid and visit Jane Austen’s Bath (as in the city, of course). Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in your holiday luggage? And how you can help keep our beaches clean.

March 19th, 2015

What’s in your holiday luggage? And how you can help keep our beaches clean.

Holiday

Don’t let plastic pollution spoil your holiday.

If you travel then you can’t fail to have noticed the amount of plastic pollution ending up on beaches in Europe and the UK.

According to a new marine litter report from The Marine Conservation Society, which surveyed 301 beaches in September 2014, the number of pieces of litter, on average, per Km of UK coastline surveyed is now up to 2457. That’s a rise of 6% from 2013.

You can read the full report here. Read the rest of this entry »

The World First Wander – The Internet’s best travel blogs

March 13th, 2015

 The World First Wander – The Internet’s best travel blogs  

travel blogs

Welcome to another World First Wander! It’s our weekly look at some of our favourite travel blogs and articles from the last week. As always it is compiled by our Social Media Man, Tristan Rothwell.

This week we look at city breaks, winter sports, Sri Lanka, Greece and …. and Mr Motivator!

City breaks first then, with our friend The Travel Hack, a lady who loves to jump on a plane on a Friday night for a swift weekend away. Who doesn’t? City breaks are an easy, bite-sized way to see a little of the world. And you can do it without using up all your holiday allowance in one go too!

Anyway, Monica has some invaluable advice for you if you are looking for free things to make your cash go further on your city break. 10 free things to do in every city will give you a whole selection of ideas for things to do if the purse strings are tight. And, while we are on the subject, don’t forget that our City Break Travel Insurance can also save you ££££.

We are off to the Greek capital Athens next with Emily Luxton. Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, dating back almost 3500 years. Emily has written a really great guide to Athens and what to expect when you are there.  I must say that the Loukoumades look delicious. They were apparently  once served to winners of the Greek Olympics. For more stories of the gods, read Emily’s Exploring Athens .

And if that inspires you to explore a little more of Greece then you’ll find a bunch of great blogs about the islands on Life Beyond Borders. If you love Greek Islands you’ll love this. Then take a read of our quick guide to travelling in Greece before you book.

We head now to South Asia, specifically Sri Lanka. This next blog, by Becki Enright, caught my attention because one of my friends is currently travelling round Sri Lanka with his wife and 10 month old daughter. I wonder if they have found their way to Galle yet? It seems as if the town is a real ‘must-see’ stop off, judging by all that’s in Galle Fort, Sri Lanka –  History, Artistry and all that Jazz.

Weird experiences are all part of the fun of travel (in my opinion) but when a travel blogger writes that they have sat next to Mr Motivator on a boat in Santorini (Greece again) then you have to read on!  My Weird Travel Experiences, an entertaining run down of the weird things Scottish Emma has encountered on her travels, is a great read and guaranteed to make you smile.

I mentioned last week about winter sports and disabled users. While chatting on twitter this week I was put in touch with Alex Squire. In his blog he talks about life with Spastic Quadriplegia and he has written a really interesting piece about  winter sports and his experiences of it. Skiing: Its going downhill fast is another good read – and very inspiring. For more about Alex, take a look at the “about me” page on his blog.

That just about wraps it up!

Until next week.

Bag a bargain this summer. Just don’t bag more than you bargained for.

March 12th, 2015

 Bag a bargain this summer. Just don’t bag more than you bargained for.

9 Chasing the waves at Labenne

Favourable exchange rates mean that going abroad in 2015 is going to be cheaper than ever. But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has recently issued some excellent advice about grabbing bargain breaks this year and is urging everyone to make sure they don’t get more than they bargained for.

How so? Read the rest of this entry »

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

March 6th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

travel blogs

The Internet’s best travel blogs

Welcome to another World First Wander.

As usual we have found a few interesting travel blogs for you to peruse this week. In fact, we have found a couple of new ones, starting with The Bimblers a blog from Bridget and Rob, a couple who aren’t your average travel blogging couple. Why? Because they do it in a wheelchair.  Their blog is a great inspiration and their outlook is fantastic. After Bridget became ill with severe rheumatoid arthritis Rob had to give up work to become her full time carer. However, that hasn’t stopped them from getting out there and they began The Bimblers as a way of staying positive.  Hats off to them!

I often ask Twitter (find me with @WFTristan ) for recommendations of new blogs and this recoomendation came from that route. I am so glad I found them! They offer us a refreshing perspective on the world while also taking a pragmatic look at accessible travel. So please enjoy this first post from them, a guide to Walking Liverpool’s Waterfront.

I was also lucky to find another great article this week from Disability Sanctuary a website devoted to the disabled, their carers and the people offering services to the disabled. They offer lots of sound advice as well as a meeting point for people with disabilities. I found this really interesting post about winter sports and disabilities. It’s a guide to winter sports for wheelchair users.

Check out Don’t let your disability stop you skiing during winter. It’s a good read.

As insurers specialising in medical travel insurance we often speak to people with disabilities looking for travel policies, so I hope that Disability Sanctuary’s list of Disabled Travel Resources may be helpful to some of you.

Our next blog reintroduces us to a blogger who first appeared here in October of last year. It’s  Scottish Emma, a well travelled twenty something with a degree in English literature. In view of that it’s fitting that we should look to Emma to tell us about her  Top Novels to Read on Holiday. I love to read and always have a book on the go. But if you are one of those who only reads by the pool on holiday, take note of this post and start planning your next holiday reading list.

If you are among those who don’t like to fly then you will certainly need a good book if you intend to go far on your travels. It may take longer but it’s no less rewarding – not to say glamorous – to travel on terra firma, as our next blogger, Johanna Payton proves. Her blog Feet on the ground is perfect for those who want to see the world but hate to fly. You are not alone!

We have featured a lot of posts from our next travel writer over the past few months. The Travel Hack is one of my favourite travel blogs. I see many parallels between our lives as both Monica and my fiancé are heavily pregnant. So I was particularly interested to read this latest post about Monica’s plans for 5 baby friendly holidays for baby’s first trip. It all sounds glorious….

That just about wraps up this week’s World First Wander. As always let us know if you write a travel blog as we may be able to feature it here.

Tristan

Yes we can. No we can’t. What the British consul can do for you

March 5th, 2015

Yes we can. No we can’t. What the British consul can do for you

Consular Enquiries Paris Checklist

The British Consulate operates out of 227 countries across the world. As our representatives abroad they provide a string of vital services to protect us – British nationals – abroad. But there is a limit to what they can do.

While our man in Havana might be able to get you out of a sticky situation, if you lose your passport, help you if you are the victim of a crime or contact friends and family if you are detained abroad, there is only so far they can go. So it might be a surprise to some to find out that the British consulate is neither babysitter nor personal assistant. Neither are they there to act as your personal travel consultant while you are away either.

Of course not!

But that is exactly what some people appear to think. Last week the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a press release announcing the start of a new campaign to educate the travelling British public on what they will and won’t do for British nationals. They made the point by presenting a list of the things that consular staff have been asked to do. This included a man who called the Embassy in Mexico City to request that staff go to the airport to check whether he had left his mobile phone on a plane. Then there was the woman in woman in Italy who called up the Embassy to ask how she could synchronise her TV antenna to receive English channels.

All very funny, no? But calls like this – and they happen more often than you might think – take already pressed staff away from the work they should be doing, which is helping Brits in genuine distress. And that doesn’t include giving information on how to treat a cat’s infected paw, finding out if someone’s Albanian fiancé was already married, asking for the name of a chef to make haggis for a Burns Night event. It does happen.

In the press release the FCO said “The FCO’s priority is to protect the welfare of British nationals abroad, and consular staff will always do their best to assist people when they find themselves in difficulty. However, it is important for travellers to understand what services we provide before getting in touch. There are also some simple pre-travel steps that you can take to reduce the risk of getting into difficulty and needing our help, such as taking out comprehensive travel insurance, researching the destination and any health risks and ensuring access to emergency funds.”

The message is clear. Make sure you have funds, travel cover and that you find out about the place you are going. Don’t want to be disappointed when you can’t tune in to Coronation Street, do we?

What the FCO CAN do for you:

  • Issue you with an emergency travel document
  • Provide information about transferring money
  • Provide help if you have suffered rape or serious sexual or physical assault, are a victim of crime, are ill or in hospital
  • Give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors
  • Contact you if you are detained abroad
  • Contact friends and family back home for you if you wish
  • Provide help in cases of forced marriage
  • Assist people affected by parental child abduction

What the FCO CANNOT do for you:

  •  Help you enter a country if you do not have a valid passport or necessary visas
  • Give you legal advice or translate documents
  • Investigate crimes or get you out of prison
  • Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people, but we will raise concerns if treatment falls below internationally recognised standards
  • Pay any bills or give you money
  • Make travel arrangements for you
  • Help your cat or tune your telly

Getting the lowdown on the countries you visit

We have compiled a number of ‘Essential Guides’ to start you off discovering new places. They include information about healthcare, currency, electricity, security and crime so you’ll know before you go. While they won’t take the place of a comprehensive guide, they will help you to make the first steps towards understanding the country you are about to visit.

There are lots more on the World First website but here are links to a few of the most popular:

Your quick guide to travelling in Spain

Your quick guide to travelling in Florida

Your quick guide to travelling in Australia

Your quick guide to travelling in Barbados

Your quick guide to travelling in France

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 27th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

the Internet’s best travel blogs

Lessons learned from travel? There are many!

Welcome to another edition of our weekly collection of the best travel blogs, writing and articles from around the world.

As travel insurers we understand that travel isn’t always plain sailing. Sometimes things don’t go to plan. It’s one reason why it’s vital to make sure your travel insurance policy is in place before you leave.  But then again, as long as you are able to get out of a situation intact and can laugh about it later, mishaps and disasters can provide interesting reading, which is exactly what Adventure Han  has done in her latest post. Take a look at When travel goes wrong. Have you been through similar? I am sure we all have!

If things go wrong then it’s comforting to know that you have people with you who are on your side. But what if you are a solo traveller? Many of us would prefer to travel within the safety of our family or with friends but some people love to travel alone – or have no choice.  The Travel Tester is someone who has travelled solo so is well qualified to write her latest post 5 things they don’t tell you about solo travel. If you have anything to add, please let us know!

Whether you travel solo or with family or friends there is no doubt that there are things to be learned from travel. And it doesn’t matter if you travel by cruise ship, on foot, by motorhome or bicycle! Our next post, from Frances Thompson, looks at lessons learned ‘on the road’. There are 33 of them because Frances recently turned 33. They are really interesting – and some, like number 21 – are just plain hilarious. How do you find that out? Only one way I suppose. Anyway, read 33 Lessons learned about life, travel, writing, snowboarding, dancing and love and enjoy a smile.

I enjoy following Ed Rex because of the way he writes. His articles are interesting and full of life. In this latest post he goes on dates with 6 of his favourite travel bloggers. Actually that’s not true. He asks his favourite travel bloggers where they would take him on a date, if they were to. So it’s a blog by a blogger about what bloggers do on virtual dates with bloggers. And I’m blogging about it! Anyway, it’s a bit like blind date but well worth a read all the same…. I dated 6 travel bloggers. If only he had asked me…

Our last post this week is from A Bird in the hand who is looking forward to her 30th birthday. In this post she takes a look back (remember she’s only 30!) at some of the things she has wanted to achieve in her life. It’s titled The bucket list and why you should ignore it and it’s about how ignoring the ‘bucket list’ can be a liberating thing. I love bucket lists and have ticked off a few on mine, but maybe I should take a leaf out of her book and just chuck it away.

Do you have a ‘bucket list’?  What’s on it?

Until next week

Tristan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The very best beach in the world? Or is it?

February 25th, 2015

The very best beach in the world? Or is it?

Derrynane

Wild and wonderful: Derrynane Beach

Everyone has a favourite beach. It could be somewhere far from home, a palm fringed beauty on an unspoiled paradise island perhaps. Or it could be right here in Blighty, on a wild stretch of coast where the wind blows and the waves crash. It could be in the most unlikely of places, a hidden gem in an otherwise dreary landscape. A ray of light and hope in an otherwise hostile city. Or it could also be brash and bold, with twinkling lights and Ferris wheels, revelers and sun worshipers.

The point is that ‘favourite’ or ‘best’ is always subjective. Everyone has different tastes, and we are no different. My favourite beach, for example, is Derrynane Beach in County Kerry in Ireland. It is a white sand crescent beneath high mountain passes, dotted with huge round granite boulders that create rock pools that are big enough to snorkel in and is lapped by clear blue water and white capped rollers. Even in a storm it is beautiful. But then it is in Ireland and storms are a regular occurrence there. So for those who like it hot, it really wouldn’t rate too highly.

Another of my favourites, Bathsheba beach in Barbados is a world away from the wild shores of Kerry – and no less beautiful – but I wouldn’t rate it as highly as I do Derrynane. Why? Because I like Ireland and I like wild beaches and mountains and it has something that many other beaches I have visited simply don’t have (and I have visited a lot of beaches). OK so it has none of the sand made from crushed coral, the palm trees and the tiny rum shack resonating with the sound of cracking dominoes that Bathsheba has but it’s still a very special place. How would you rate it? I suspect many of you would prefer to be in Barbados than Ireland any day.

So what is the world’s best beach?

This week Tripadvisor, the peer review website announced its list of the World’s Best Beaches as voted for by their users in the website’s Traveller’s Choice 2015.

And if you doubted that it’s a valid list, Trip Advisor will remind you that their site is the world’s largest and that it contains over 200 million reviews. It’s hard to argue with that.

Of the world’s beaches reviewed on Trip Advisor, the ‘world’s best’ has been announced as Baia Do Sancho, in Brazil, with over 2,250 5 star reviews. The best in Europe is Rabbit Beach on Sicily. The best UK beach, which ranked 13 in the world chart and 4 in Europe, was Devon’s Woolacombe Beach.  But are they right?

See the World’s Top 25 Beaches here.

See the UK’s Top 25 Beaches here.

See Europe’s Top 25 Beaches here.

Let us know what you think! Have they got it right? Have you got a hidden gem for us?

We’d love to hear from you.

 

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 20th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

best travel blogs

Will your holiday bring health benefits? You bet!

Welcome to another edition of the World First Wander, our weekly take on what’s hot in the world of travel writing and blogging. Each week our social media man Tristan Rothwell scours the internet to find the best travel articles published over the last 7 days so it’s easy for you to can stay right up to date. This week we save money using social media, discuss the similarities between pregnancy and travel and visit the cheapest cities in Europe.

First up this week: saving money. Now there is a phrase we all love! In fact, here at World First we have been saving people money on their travel insurance since 1973. So we know a good deal when we see it. Some of the money saving tips in Budget Traveller’s  latest post are pure gold, especially if you are a social media fan.  If you want to save some money, check out How to save money on travel; with social media.

Staying with our money saving theme, our friends over at Hand Luggage Only have put together a great list of 15 of the cheapest cities in Europe that you need to visit . Scroll down to number 12 and feast your eyes on the photo of Bruges. If that doesn’t have you packing your bags immediately then nothing will!

Another topic close that is close to my heart at the moment is pregnancy. If you didn’t already know my  fiancé and I are due to hear the patter of tiny feet on the 2nd June. Naturally, anything pregnancy related is catching my eye at the moment. The Travel Hack’s next post, How being pregnant is a lot like travelling, was one I was always going to spot! Read it and see if you agree.

A friend recently sent me an email with a link to a recent post on her Life Beyond Borders Blog with an interview with The Greek Evzones, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. I have to admit I had never heard of them so I was instantly intrigued. They sound like pretty tough chaps. Anyway, give it a read as it’s fascinating stuff. Read Interview with Former Evzones – Soldiers of the Greek Presidential Guard then decide if a soldier’s life is for you!

If none of the above have made you want to fire up your computer and book that next trip then maybe our last post will. It’s from Becky and Gray, two UK based bloggers who are also known as Global Grasshopper. I have follower them for quite a while as their blog is a great source of travel inspiration. They have written a great article entitled Why you should take a break: the health benefits of a vacation which highlights a whole bunch of reasons why you should take a break and get on to your travel agent right away!

I hope you have enjoyed my selection of travel blogs this week. Please let us know what you think. Do you agree that pregnancy is like travel or have you saved money using social media? Tell us all!

Until next week.

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 13th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

travel blogs

Mousehole, Cornwall. Worth the walk.

 

Welcome to another edition of the World First Wander, our weekly compendium of the very best in travel writing and blogging. Each week we scour the internet – so you don’t have to – in search of blogs and stories we think you’ll love. It is compiled, as always, by our social media man, Tristan Rothwell.

This week we head to Prague, avoid pickpockets, take in a beautiful walk and find out where to take the kids in London this half term. Read the rest of this entry »

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