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Off the beaten track in Northern Spain

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Off the beaten track in Northern Spain

Off the beaten track in Northern Spain

High tide at Playa San Lorenzo

Many millions of us will head to Spain this year on our holidays. But how many of us will head off the well trodden path looking for something a little different?

If you are one of them then we have a great recommendation for you. It’s the city of Gijon in the northern province of Asturias.  While it is still a busy port city with plenty of industry there is much to attract the tourist and traveller. The sea front – San Lorenzo Bay – is fabulous and has a curve of beautiful sands. This is the place to sit and observe the daily paseo – promenade – when it seems as if the whole city is taking to the beach. The Spanish love their daily walks and it doesn’t matter whether you do it in the evening along the promenade or during the day in your speedos. If you want to see and be seen, this is the place to be.

World First Travel Insurance Blog

The Church of St Peter the Apostle

At the eastern end of the bay you’ll find the Church of Saint Peter the Apostle and the narrow streets around the Port. This areas is known as Cimadevilla and is the oldest part of the city. Here you’ll find traditional restaurants and cider bars as well as the fortified Palace of Revillgigedo, a seventeenth century addition to the city that overlooks the old port. It’s a great spot to stop and sample what Gijon and Asturias is famous for – great local food. But of course don’t go for something new. Try the fabulous local peasant speciality, fabada, with a glass of Asturian cider. It’s a truly authentic taste that you’ll find in few other places. Alternatively go for seafood and red wine.

World First

Fabada Asturias, a rich, tasty peasant stew

A walk from the port will take you out onto the headland and into the Santa Catalina park, an open area that once formed part of the city’s defences. Today it offers far reaching views over the peaceful Bay of Biscay, the old port and the city to the south and west. It is a stunning vista.

The densely populated city centre sits behind the Bay of San Lorenzo, the Cimadevilla and the enclosed Playa de Poniente. Much of it is old and labyrinthine, with small independent shops, cider bars and restaurants punctuated by squares and green spaces. With narrow streets and tall apartment blocks it’s typical of a northern Spanish city. But what need would you have of a garden or pool when there are magnificent beaches so close at hand?

travel insurance spain

Looking at new city from the old city.


For surfers Gijon could well be the ultimate city surf destination. Like its more glamorous cousin a few hundred miles to the east, Donostia San Sebastian, it blends city life with beach culture perfectly. Don’t be surprised to see wetsuited surfers heading to the waves from their apartment blocks while besuited business people walk to their offices. Come lunch time you can pretty much guarantee they will be in the water themselves.

Travel Insurance Spain

Gijon: a hidden gem on Spain’s north coast.


BY AIR: It is possible to fly to Asturias airport at Oviedo (which is about 30 minutes from Gijon) with Easyjet and Iberia.

BY ROAD: Driving takes a little longer but is possible from the UK via the ferries to Bilbao or Santander. The road and motorway network in northern Spain is excellent.

ON FOOT: Walking will take you along the famous Camino de Santiago, a long pilgrim trail to Sanitago de Compostella in the west.

BY RAIL: Gijon is connected to the rest of Spain by the RENFE and FEVE betworks. The FEVE route is narrow gauge and runs betweenBilbao in the east and Ferrol in the west. It is said to be one of Europe’s most beautiful railway journeys.

HOW TO PRONOUNCE GIJON: Don’t say Geejohn, as no one will know what you are talking about. The G is soft, as is the J, so it ends up sounding very unlike we’d pronounce it naturally as English speakers, as Hee-Hon (like on not hon like honey).


If you haven’t got one already, pick up a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from the NHS website. It’s free and entitles you to the same level of complimentary medical care as the Spanish locals receive. So you won’t have to pay the medical bills yourself in the unlikely event that you need urgent treatment while you’re away.

However, your EHIC won’t cover everything.

The EHIC does not cover ongoing medical care, non-urgent treatment or medical repatriation. In other words, unless you’re in immediate danger, you will have to pay for your own treatment. That can be extremely expensive (fixing a broken arm in Spain can cost as much as ÂŁ11,000, according to figures from the Association of British Insurers.) That’s why it makes sense to take out a good travel insurance policy.

Our Spain travel insurance covers up to ÂŁ10 million worth of medical costs that your EHIC doesn’t account for. So there’s no need to worry about how you will fund treatment if you get hurt or become ill.



The World First Wander. The “how to save money” edition.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

The World First Wander. The “how to save money” edition. 

Summer piggy bank with sunglasses on the beach

Welcome to another installment of the World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in travel writing and blogging. This week we look at a few ideas for something we all like to do – save some money.

We have been helping our customers to save money with our great value travel insurance since the early 1970’s. At the time you could enjoy two weeks in Majorca for the princely sum of £50! If only…  We often include money saving tips on our travel blog too.

So let’s tighten those purse strings and start saving for that trip of a lifetime. But it’s not easy, is it? If you are anything like me and find it near impossible to save up for anything, let alone a big trip, then you may find our first blog very useful indeed. It’s from Caz and Craig from ytravel. They know a thing or two about travel and saving money and have even written an ebook about it. But before you go searching, have a look at their article The Secrets To Saving Money For Travel Revealed. The best news is that they won’t even demand you cut out that daily coffee!

Staying on theme, let’s head over to Heels in my backpack for some more great ideas on how to get the cash together for that round the world trip of a lifetime. There is some really great advice in this post. How to save money to go travelling and still have a life.

More saving now… as promised… this time with Emma Higgins. We included her in last week’s wander so it’s a rare double appearance for Emma…why?… Because she writes great travel articles! 30 tips for saving money for Travel includes some great ideas.

Next up is some good advice for the girls, and a great bonus tip for the guys. I discovered The Blonde Abroad recently and I instantly liked her ideas for saving money on social spending. It’s just one of her 10 easy ways to save money to travel the world.

My brother Martin Rothwell spotted this one the other day from My Melange. As luck would have it she  also has some great tips for saving some money. She says “a little sacrifice now can help you travel later” and we know it’s true. Wise words indeed. Saving money really is about working out what your priorities are and adjusting life accordingly. Check out her 9 easy ways to save money for travel.

Finishing up this week a great post from Budget Traveller,another regular to this blog. Regardless of whether you have to scrimp and save or prefer to spend and splurge, it’s worth remembering that it’s all about the experience. At least that’s what they tell us in their post Budget travel or luxury travel? It’s the experience, stupid. So if you are struggling to stay focussed, focus on the end result – the experiences of travel.

Until next week.

Got holiday cover? But have you got the RIGHT holiday cover?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Got holiday cover? But have you got the RIGHT holiday cover?

FCO Insurance Checklist May 2015

It’s at this time of the year that we get wind of new campaigns from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This year they are highlighting the need for travellers and holidaymakers to get the right insurance cover.


According to research, 30% of travellers aged between 16 and 24 were uninsured in 2013-14, and 41% of overall British travellers didn’t think it was necessary to purchase travel insurance for their trip abroad. That’s surprising! We all know that travelling uninsured can lead to costly bills and all kinds of heartache and financial problems.

However, this year the FCO campaign is focusing on the problem of people going abroad without the right cover – something that can also lead to similar problems. How so? Well, if you don’t declare pre-existing medical conditions, aren’t aware that drugs or alcohol can invalidate your policy and don’t get cover for activities like diving or climbing then you could end up coming unstuck. If you don’t have the right cover your travel insurance company is perfectly within its rights to refuse to pay out.

That could prove costly. If you had an accident diving, for example, and needed to be airlifted to a decompression chamber, then needed specialist care followed by an airlift home it can run into many thousands of pounds, hundreds of thousands even. That might sound extreme but it does happen. What’s more likely is that you twist an ankle and need an ambulance to take you to a clinic to get an x ray and a plaster cast while on holiday in Spain. That could cost you a few thousand. And if you did it under the influence your insurance company might refuse to pay up.

So how can you make sure you have the right cover?

  • Read the small print to make sure your cover is right for you.
  • Check that the activities you intend to do are covered by your policy.
  • Declare all your pre existing medical conditions.
  • Take a look at the FCO’s list of things to check.

It might be worth taking a look at the It All Adds Up video here. It makes a very good point.

The next thing to do is to give us a call on 0845 90 80 161 or get a quote online. If you have medical conditions we can help. We cover 1000s of them and can arrange cover for more serious or chronic conditions. We also insure over 150 sports and activities automatically as part of your policy. All you have to do is tell us what you plan to do and we’ll take care of the rest.


The World First Wander. Cruise Travel

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Welcome to another installment of the world First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in travel writing and blogging. This week we are taking a look at cruise travel. It seems to be a hot topic right now!

Cruise Travel

Cruise travel: who wouldn’t want this? Just make sure you are properly insured!

Cruising has been enjoying somewhat of a golden age recently, with new ships, new destinations and new adventures being announced at every turn. Cruising is a great way to travel and see the world. You can go as far as you like, with every type of voyage available – from a no fly round Britain cruise to a scientific tour of discovery to the Antacrctic.

Before we start our journey it’s important to mention Cruise Travel Insurance. Cruise lines will insist that their passengers have appropriate travel insurance  for their medical conditions, including cover for medical expenses and repatriation. Getting ill at sea without proper travel insurance cover can be a very expensive business. So make sure you are covered. Your cruise line will no doubt offer cover through some kind of a partnership with an affiliate – but remember that you are not obliged to take it and that our Cruise policies may well work out a lot cheaper. Plus, if you have a difficult to insure condition they may not want to insure you without hiking up the premium.

Pull up the anchor, let’s set sail

First up let’s have a look at that perennial problem, what to pack and what not to pack for a cruise? One rule we employ is to pack, then take it all out an, remove half and pack again. But for cruising? Our first port of call has to be Cruise Critic, a site that’s packed  full of top tips for experienced and new cruisers alike. Their blog 5 things to pack for your first cruise is a great place to start. It’s also well worth reading the comments underneath the article to get some more top tips from experienced cruisers.

Cruise Travel

Packing for your cruise. Smart or casual? Or both?

I have followed Emma’s Travel Tales for quite some time. It’s a great travel blog packed full of tips and tales. This one, What not to pack for a cruise holiday, contains more useful advice, including a very important point about reading the dress code. This is something every cruiser should do. Not only will it ensure you don’t take piles of clothes you simply won’t need but it will also save you the embarrassment of turning up for dinner at the Captain’s Table in shorts and a tee shirt. There is a good article about dress codes over at Cruise Critic if you are unsure.

Cruise Miss is a dedicated cruise blog that’s always a good read. Danielle’s latest cruise adventure is aboard the Saga Sapphire Baltic Cruise which looks lovely. Have a read of Danielle’s first blog post about the boat and the journey so far. Also check out the New to cruising section of the blog. You’ll find some valuable information there.

Rhine River Village

Spoiled for choice. The Rhine or the Danube?

With so many destinations to choose from, making your final decision can be tricky, but with some help and advice from experienced cruise bloggers the decision making process may become a little easier. Another well respected cruise blogger, Cruise Maven, recently wrote a great blog post titled Choosing a Rhine,Main or Danube River Cruise. If you have ever considered exploring Europe’s great rivers this is the best place to start.

Gary Bembridge is a travel blogger I have followed for a long time. His Tips for Travellers is a brilliant blog and well worthy of your time. It is packed with info for cruisers both new and old. Gary’s most recent post is all about the dreaded Norovirus and his experience of it. Sadly mini epidemics do happen on cruise ships from time to time so it’s worth knowing about and what you can do to help stop it. Have a read of  Gary’s Norovirus : My Experience.

Norovirus is definitely one good reason to make sure you have good Cruise travel Insurance.

Also make sure you check out Gary’s Podcasts. They are a hive of information from destinations to general cruising tips to advice on particular cruise line operators.

If you are on Twitter a great place to ask questions is by using the hash tag  #cruisechat. There are plenty of people on hand to help. Twitter chat is a great resource if you are looking to get up to date information and answers quickly.

That just about rounds up this week’s World First Wander. We hope you have enjoyed sailing with us this week!


Do you practice safe sun? Here’s why you should.

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Do you practice safe sun? Here’s why you should.

sun awareness week

Did you know that last week was sun awareness week?

It was covered in our news feed here, with some rather alarming results from a poll from the British Association of Dermatologists. In it they revealed – from a poll of 1,018 adults – that most Brits fail to check for signs of skin cancer, that three out of four of us wouldn’t know what to look for when it comes to skin cancer and that 72% had suffered from sunburn in the last 12 months.

So we thought that we should perhaps shed some light on that darkness with a little of our own information about skin cancer, how to avoid it, what to look out for and why it’s a growing problem. To do this we enlisted the help of World First Customer, Marcus, who told us a little about having skin cancer, what it means, how to avoid it and how it has affected his life in the sun.

This is what he told us.

“I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma – skin cancer – when I was in my early twenties. This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer as it can spread if left untreated. That’s when it becomes really dangerous. I was lucky as my cancer was removed completely with a couple of operations under local anaesthetic. I’m now 48 and have had no further malignant melanomas, although I have had a few moles removed to be on the safe side.”

That’s good news. But what does it mean to you? Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know:

What types of skin cancer are there?

This is what Public Health England says about the types of skin cancer:

Malignant melanoma: This is the most serious type but is less frequent. It requires early treatment because if the disease progresses too far it can lead to death.

Non-melanoma: This type of cancer can be formed from either squamous or basal cell carcinomas and is the most common type of skin cancer. It is rarely fatal and can be easily treated as long as it is diagnosed early on.

How many people are affected by skin cancer each year?

According to Cancer Research 13,348 people were diagnosed with malignant melanoma skin cancer in 2011. This accounts for 4% of all cancer cases in the UK. Yet only 2,148 people died from it in 2012, which is just 1% of cancer deaths. What this means is that malignant melanoma is treatable- if it’s caught early enough – with 90% of all patients surviving 10 or more years.

What causes skin cancer?

Marcus’ skin cancer was almost certainly caused by sunburn. In fact, most skin cancers are caused by over exposure to ultraviolet radiation either from the sun or from artificial sources.

“I attribute my skin cancer to getting sunburned when I was young. We went of lots of holidays to Spain, Portugal and France when I was a kid and I always got terribly burnt because I didn’t put cream on or cover up properly. But that was the seventies and my family were ignorant of the dangers. Cancer, unfortunately, is the legacy of that careless attitude towards the sun.”

What are the symptoms of skin cancer?

The appearance of moles or dark patches on the skin – and changes to them – can often be early signs of skin cancer skin.  To help you remember what to look for, there is a simple, universal acronym: ABCDE. This stands for:

Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape

Border – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches

Colour – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen

Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor

Expert – if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS

Marcus told us “My mole was pale in colour, more like a blemish. But slowly over time I noticed a darker spot had appeared within it. It wasn’t until I saw a photograph of me from a few years before that I realised how much it had changed and how much the dark spot had increased in size. That was the prompt to get checked out.”

Can skin cancer be prevented?

The simple answer is, more than likely, yes. And the simple method is to cover up, avoid going out without protection in hot sun and make sure that you have adequate sun protection, even if it’s cloudy. UV can penetrate cloud cover so it’s important to remember that it is possible to burn even when the sun isn’t shining.

Marcus said “It’s actually pretty easy to avoid getting burned. After my treatment I changed my attitude towards the sun and just did my best to cover up, stay out of the midday sun in hot countries, wear a hat and generally be sensible about going out unprotected. It isn’t that hard. A tan is actually a sign of sun damaged skin so I’m happy to be paler than most. It’s a sign of health!”

Will skin cancer affect your ability to get travel insurance?

Better ask Marcus that one. He said “I was accepted by World First for annual travel insurance with no quibbles after answering a few questions about my follow ups and the dates of the cancer. There was no additional premium for the condition.”

Obviously every case is different but it’s good news that having skin cancer may not affect your ability to get covered for your travels.  However we do think it is a good idea to reassess your attitude towards the sun. We would certainly advocate practicing safe sun at all times – even in the UK.



The World First Wander – thoughts on destinations

Friday, May 1st, 2015

The World First Wander – thoughts on destinations

Mauritius - world first wander

Chamarel in Mauritius: top natural destination

Welcome to another installment of the world first wander , our weekly look at the hottest travel writing and blogging from around the globe. As always its compiled by Tristan Rothwell  as he takes us on a whistle stop tour of the internet’s best travel writing.

This week it’s all about the destination.

What makes us choose one destination over another? Everyone has different needs and wants, of course, so what’s perfect for one person may be hell for another. Some people like solitude, peace and quiet, deserted beaches and warms seas and while others like culture, vibrant cities, museums and nightlife. Then again, there are some for whom nightlife is everything and the resort with the best clubs and DJs comes first. How about you?

isles of scilly

This is getting Scilly. Would you? Oh yes!

How much does the weather influence your decision?  If you like it mild, but not too hot then it may well pay to take a look at our first blog, which is about The Scilly Isles.  They are situated 28 miles south west of Cornwall  – you can see the islands on a clear day from Lands End – and has the mildest climate of any area in the UK. The Beaches are truly stunning.  And they are only enhanced by the work of Oriel Hicks, an artist living on the islands who takes workshops about making beach art. What a great idea! For people with a low boredom threshold it’s a perfect way to spend the day, as The Family Adventure Project show in their lovely post Scilly Art from Nature with Oriel Hicks.

A little further afield now, to Spain, a massively popular destination among World First customers and travellers and holidaymakers in general. IF you are thinking about going Balaeric or Iberian this summer then you might want to have a quick scan through some of the basics in our quick guide to travelling in Spain.

quick guide to travelling in Spain

Paella. Delicious, but it’s only a regional speciality.

Next, if you think you know Spain, take a look at 49 things you didn’t know about Spain from Inside the Travel Lab. Which one will inspire you to book your next flight? 42 did it for me.

Moving even further afield we are now off to Xi’an, China,  with The Travel Hack. This latest post is a guest post from a presenter called Sophie. She lived in Xi’an  for just over a year and knows her stuff. As it shows in this post, An Insider’s Guide to Xi’an. 

Mauritius now. What does the name conjure up for you? Beautiful beaches? Blues skies? Of course, but there is more to this Island.  It’s a haven for stunning wildlife and was once home to the now extinct Dodo.  Despite the famous loss, there is still some amazing wildlife to see. Our next blog, from luxury travel company Original Travel, lay it all out for us in their latest guest post, Four must-see Mauritius nature spots.

Table Mountain Cape Town

Table Mountain. Cape Town’s towering icon. A must-see.

If you aren’t the nature type then how about a trip to Africa’s most exciting city, Cape Town? It’s just a 6.5 hour flight away from Mauritius but might as well be further. Cape Town is one of our favourite cities because it is colourful, vibrant and is always buzzing. Also, it’s got a little of everything – beaches, city life and the magnificent Table Mountain.

Need any more persuading? Try this, from The Cosy Traveller . 10 reasons why we all need to visit South Africa may well give you the push you’ve been waiting for.

Well that’s it for this week’s wander. We’ve covered a lot of ground!

Until next week



How a weak Euro can help you save this summer

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

 How a weak Euro can help you save this summer

weak Euro

Have you been looking at the Euro / Sterling exchange rate recently? If you haven’t then we’ll be happy to tell you that the pound is at its strongest against the Euro since the crash of 2008. From an all time low of around 1.04 Euros to the pound in January 2009, the pound is now worth around 1.4 Euros, the most it’s been worth in over 6 years.

What does that mean to you?

A favourable exchange rate means that you’ll get more Euros for your pound when you exchange them prior to travel and pay by cash or when you use a credit or debit card abroad. At the time of writing the rate you can expect when paying for items in Euros with your Visa card is around 1.34 Euros to the pound. That means if you buy something costing €100 you’ll pay around £72 for it (excluding fees). In 2009 the same item would have cost you around £99 or so. If you get a good exchange rate for your cash at the bank it may be even cheaper.

How to make your holiday cheaper

A favourable exchange rate is only useful if you are paying for items in the local currency. That means anything you book and pay for in sterling before you go will not be any cheaper. It’s bad news if you are going all inclusive as your meals and drinks in your hotel will already be paid for. But if you are going independently and buying food, accommodation, excursions and suchlike as you go – for example if your are touring, camping or staying in self catering – then you will be able to make the most of it.

The cost of holiday essentials

Whatever the exchange rate, it’s always good to know what you can expect to pay for typical holiday items once you get there. Each year the Post Office conducts a survey of typical holiday items in countries across the world. It’s a bit like the shopping cart that supermarkets use here in the UK except that it counts the cost of items like sun cream, bottled water and cigarettes. Our favourite holiday destination, Spain, is still among the cheapest places in Europe – something that’s great news for millions of us hoping for some cheap sun and sangria this summer.

The fantastic website pintprice.com has prices of a pint all over the world. It also details cities and areas of each country so you can make informed decisions about what it’s going to cost where. In Donsotia San Sebastian, for example you might expect to pay up to €5, whereas in Benidorm you may get it for as little as €1.04. It won’t tell you the price of accommodation, meals out or other holiday sundries but it can give you a good indication of local pricing, especially when it comes to tourist areas.

Save on independent travel cover too           

Some holiday essentials you’ll have to buy in the UK in sterling before you go – even if you travel independently. One of them is your holiday travel insurance. However, you’ll still be able to enjoy savings with our policies. We offer cover for the entire family, for extended families and for people with medical problems at a price that’s fair and can cover most conditions. That’s because we are specialist and do nothing but travel cover. Even if you’ve been quoted a price for your travel cover with your all inclusive you may still be able to save with us – especially if a member of your family has to make medical declarations.

Get a quote now.


Faldo to play his last. But will you play his best?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

 Faldo to play his last. But will you play his best?

golf travel insurance

Nick Faldo announced recently that the Open Championship of 2015 at St Andrews will be the last time he will play in the event. Still, he’s not had a bad run. Faldo has won the Claret Jug three times. That includes a 1990 win at St Andrews. Add to that 3 Masters wins and it all adds up to one great career. (more…)

Heroes head north for charity fundraiser

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Heroes head north for charity fundraiser 

travel and medical insurance

From time to time we get involved in projects that need very specialist insurance. Recently we were delighted to be able to broker the travel and medical insurance for a fantastic charity fundraising trip to the North Pole into the Lloyd’s market. (more…)

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

Friday, March 27th, 2015

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

World First

Walking with toddlers – the rules change!

Welcome to another installment of The World First Wander! This is where we take our weekly look at travel blogs and post from over the last week or so. This week we look at babies, Exeter, Cornwall, City Tours and things to do near you over Easter.


Rothwell & Towler Tourism House Woodwater Park
Pynes Hill Exeter EX2 5WS

World First is a trading name of Rothwell & Towler (2013) Ltd and is an appointed representative of Crispin Speers & Partners Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA register number 311507. Travel insurance premiums and availability of cover may vary depending on individual circumstances. If you are a consumer insured (i.e. a person buying insurance wholly or mainly for personal purposes unrelated to your employment), you have a duty to take reasonable care to answer questions fully and accurately, and that any information you volunteer is not misleading. This duty exists before the cover is placed, when renewed, or altered at any time throughout the duration of the policy. If you do not do so, your Insurer may be able to void your policy from inception. Rothwell & Towler (2013) Ltd, Registered in England No. 08294942. Registered Office: St Clare House, 30-33 Minories, London EC3N 1PE.

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