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The World First Wander: what’s hot in travel blogging this week

March 14th, 2016

The World First Wander: what’s hot in travel blogging this week

Welcome to another World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in the world of travel blogging and writing. As always it’s compiled by Tristan Rothwell, the man who scours the internet for the very best travel related stuff so you don’t have to.

It’s been another frantic, frenetic and fabulously frenzied week in the world of travel writing. You could be forgiven if you haven’t noticed that spring has sneaked up on us and is ready to shower some sunshine on those winter blues. At least that’s the plan. So, where better to start this week’s Wander?

what's hot in travel blogging

Spring is here! Isn’t it?

Okay, there seems to be a bit of confusion about when spring actually starts. Meteorological spring has been with us since 1st March, yet the astronomical spring doesn’t begin until the 20th of this month. Confused? Snap. At least you won’t be lacking inspiration for your first holiday of the season. Not if Wander Mum has anything to do with it.

Travel Blog

Perhaps the balmy temperatures in Lisbon tickle your fancy. Or banish the winter chill once and for all with a trip to Istanbul, where the mercury will rise to the mid-twenties as you take in the East v West delights of this historic city. Oh and let’s hear it for Blighty, hey? As blossom blooms and leaves return to trees, our frondescent little island sure is easy on the eye at this time of year. For all your springtime inspiration, check out 6 destinations to visit in spring.

Spring is made for…

Camping of course! Now, some people won’t go near the canvas unless it comes with five stars and a mini-bar. But if you’re partial to pitching up in the great outdoors, behold Amazing places to pitch your tent from Enjoy The Journey. It’s fantastic to see Croyde in North Devon make the cut – it’s just up the road from World First’s office in Exeter. Pro tip: head to marvellous watering hole The Thatch and order the nachos. They are a thing of local legend – and with good reason.

Heading north

destinations for casual hikers

Of course, you don’t have to spend the night under canvas to appreciate the great outdoors. Spring is a great time for lacing up the walking boots and having a good old stomp around the countryside. And rural Britain doesn’t get much prettier than the Highlands and isles of Scotland. But you don’t have to spend hours trekking hither and yon to take in the beauty. For Scottish walks that are easy on the thighs as well as the eyes, have a butcher’s at The Travelling Savage’s Best of Scotland: Five destinations for casual hikers.

Staying north for an extra day

World First Travel Blog

Once the walking’s done, you could do worse than treat yourself to a mini-break in Scotland’s capital. As The Aussie Flashpacker says: “I’ve never heard a person say they didn’t like Edinburgh.” And come to think of it, neither have we. Get the lowdown on what to expect with 24 hours in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

Travel can (and will) change your life

travel can change your life

We love reading about how travel has challenged people’s outlook on life. Every trip we take helps to shape who we are and how we see the world – sometimes in dramatic, life-defining moments; often in simpler, subtler ways. Absorbing different cultures. Sampling new tastes. Meeting different types of people. Few put it better than Matt Long from Landlopers. If you are a bit of a romantic when it comes to the inspirational side of travel, be sure to take a read of 10 of my favourite life changing travel moments. It’s a fantastic piece.

Talking of change…

happy birthday

There’s nothing like a birthday to kindle a little reflection. And some of our favourite travel bloggers have been blowing out the cake candles recently. First up Lauren from The Enjoyable Rut, who has turned 27 and offers 7 bits of advice for my 17 year old self. Hot on Lauren’s heels is Emily – aka The Cosy Traveller – who has turned 25 and looks back at her 25 most memorable travel experiences: flushing pizza boxes down hotel toilets, getting attacked by a ferocious feline in Bruges and meeting Usain Bolt in Oslo. You know, the kind of travel experiences everyone can relate to!

Could you be a travel blogger?

Could you be a travel blogger

Hopefully some of the blog posts above have not only inspired you to travel but to write about it too. We read so many travel blogs but always have space for a new one to whet our appetites for adventure. If you fancy chancing your arm at travel blogging – and hey, why not? – then you could do worse than follow the sage advice of one the most successful travel bloggers out there: Johnny Ward from Onestep4ward. Luckily for you, he’s written this: How to start a travel blog. Just make sure you remember to tell us about your new project once you’re up and running. Who knows? You might even feature in the Wander one day soon!

Righto, that wraps up the Wander for another week! We hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing it. Do let us know which blog post is your favourite and if there are any blogs you would like us to feature in future editions.

Until next week!

The World First Wander: what’s hot in travel this week

March 8th, 2016

The World First Wander: Whats hot in Travel this week

Welcome to another World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in the world of travel blogging and writing. As always it’s compiled by Tristan Rothwell, the man who scours the internet for the very best travel related stuff so you don’t have to.

It’s been another busy week in the world of travel and travel blogging. The phones in the World First office have been ringing off the hook with people jetting hither and yon all over the globe. But, as we learn this week, travel can start right on your very own doorstep. And it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Devon on the doorstep

Devon on the doorstep








We start of this week right on our doorstep in glorious Devon. As we are based in Exeter, anything Devon related is always going to catch our eye and pique our interest. And we see plenty of travel bloggers waxing lyrical about it. Rightly so too. It’s beautiful. But there’s more to this wonderful county than its good looks. Check out What’s new in Devon with Go Nomad.

Talking of doorsteps…

Travel blogging











Next up, Absolutely Lucy, who features in the Weekly Wander for the second week running – an honour bestowed on precious few travel bloggers. We loved her thoughts about how important it is to explore what’s on your doorstep and taking in the visceral beauty of Britain. The World First managing director and myself grew up in Penzance in plain view of the stunning St Michael’s Mount. Why not challenge yourself to become a traveller in your own town or city? It will help you see the place you call home in a whole new light. Because travel starts right on your doorstep.

Doing it on a budget

budget travel









Budget travel is always going to popular. We all want to make the most of our hard earned money and, while it’s always nice to treat yourself to a little luxury, travel doesn’t always have to devour your bank balance. Just ask the Girl vs Globe, who has been blogging about 3 travel experiences under £139 – including the travel destination du jour: Iceland. Grab one of our great value single trip travel insurance policies and get out there.

The place every blogger is writing about…. Iceland

Iceland Travel








Is it us or does everyone seem to be talking about Iceland? Mind you, you can’t blame them. Iceland is endowed with an other-worldly beauty – and tourism to this quirky country has increased dramatically on last year. The latest article we feature on Iceland is served up by My Travel Monkey, who is sharing 10 things I learnt about Iceland. A real eye-opener.

Counting countries…

Counting countries







We love travel bloggers. We love travel blogging. But occasionally we see bloggers getting a little carried away with how many countries they have visited. Now, ratcheting-up those numbers and seeing new places is always exciting. Yet concentrating purely on visiting as many countries as possible can mean you lose focus on actually exploring and getting under the skin of the destinations you are visiting. Emily Luxton agrees with us. And there’s a good chance you will too after reading Been there not done that and her fabulous Why I don’t count countries article. There are some great observations in these articles – and they might make you think twice about jamming as many countries onto your bucket list as possible. Sometimes it’s all about quality, not quantity.

One thing we can always improve on when travelling

travel photography tips








Photography! Well unless you are David Bailey, although we’re quite sure even he would admit there is always room for improvement. Photography has changed a lot over the last few years. Thanks to increasingly powerful smartphone cameras, amateur photography is soaring – and many are ditching the clunky SLRs in favour of svelte smartphones. Yet the principles of good photography still remain the same, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a total newbie. Getting the basics right can really help you capture the perfect shot. For a few great tips on how to improve your photography, have a read 5 quick tips to improve your travel photography right now from Little Grey Box.

Going without travel insurance?

If there’s one thing we hate to read about, it’s travel insurance horror stories. And it doesn’t get much worse than when an uninsured traveller has an accident abroad and ends up having to pay for eye-wateringly costly medical bills. Cheap travel insurance keeps your savings safe should the unexpected happen. No brainer, right? Yet some still tempt fate by travelling without adequate insurance or – worse – with none at all.

Going without travel insurance?








One travel blogger who is painfully familiar with the risks of travelling without insurance is Ed Rex of Rexy Adventures. Before you consider doing the same, When I broke my ribs in Finland is essential reading. Rexy also has a great post about How to avoid common holiday pitfalls, where Ed talks about why travel insurance is absolutely essential.

Righto! That just about rounds it up for this week. Hopefully you’ve improved your travel photography a little, found a budget trip and packed some insurance. But whatever you do, don’t let poor Rexy take you for a bike ride.

Until next week!

The World First Wander: travel blogs we love this week

March 1st, 2016

The World First Wander: travel blogs we love this week

Welcome to another World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in the world of travel blogging and writing. As always it’s compiled by Tristan Rothwell, the man who scours the internet for the very best travel related stuff so you don’t have to.

As any self-respecting travel blogger will tell you, there’s nothing like the excitement of setting off on your next big adventure. This week we succumb to that glorious feeling of giving up the daily grind – and giving in to your travel temptations.

Ready for adventure?

travel blogs we love this week











For a proper adventure, you need proper kit. Just ask Unclipped Adventure, who have put together a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek list of backpacker’s essentials – 7 things you always pack for an adventure whether you plan to or not.

This was supposed to be relaxing!

This was supposed to be relaxing!









Travel is supposed to recharge the batteries and rekindle the spirits. Unfortunately things can get pretty hectic sometimes – especially when things go wrong. It needn’t be like that for you. Because Absolutely Lucy is here with the tips you need to exhibit messianic calm in the face of travel adversity –  Finding your travelling zen when things get hectic.

Our favourite type of adventure

surfing travel insurance








World First is a family run business. And we grew up surfing in beautiful Cornwall. If, like us, you think that a surfing holiday is one of the most enjoyable adventures out there, grab your surfing travel insurance and allow surfing legend Laird Hamilton to guide you around 9 ultimate surf spots in the Pacific.

City Breaks

City Breaks











From the sea to the city – although the destination is up to you. That’s the thing about city breaks. There’s just so much choice. From Basel to Budapest, whittle down your options with Travel Candy, who have listed 11 city breaks loved by the world’s top travel bloggers.

Just making memories

Just making memories







Travel is about making memories. But documenting those memories is easier said than done. Blogging eats into your time; ditto cumbersome diary entries. Nope, the busy traveller needs a speedier way to make those memories immortal. Here to dish it up for you is The Travel Hack – Remembering your life with one line a day.

Travel with Children

Travel with Children







Travelling with kids can be unpredictable, to say the least. That’s never truer than when you are hitting the high seas. For a list of tried and true tips to keep the kids occupied – and sea sickness at bay – Are We Nearly There Yet has you covered with How to survive a ferry journey with kids.

First trip away with the little ones? Do future you a favour and let North East Family Fun be your guide with A new mum’s survival guide to your first holiday abroad. Or if you’re looking for destinations that the kids will love (beyond Disney World), Global Mouse Travels can recommend 50 places around the world to take your kids before they grow up.

One of the trickiest things about travelling with children is, well, the travelling part. You can neatly sidestep some of the issues by staying relatively close to home. That’s what Jenography did when she gathered her girls and headed for Paris. Her pearls of wisdom are yours in Things to do in Paris with kids: 7 dos and don’ts.
That rounds up this week’s Wander! Please do let us know about your latest travel blog posts in the comments box below, we are always on the lookout for great stories and love to share.




6 Nations 2016: Know your venues

February 25th, 2016

6 Nations 2016: Know your venues

6 Nations 2016









With the RBS 6 Nations well underway, here’s everything you need to know about the venues – from where to park your car to where you should go for a pint to watch the match and soak up the atmosphere. Because not everyone is lucky enough to have tickets now, are they?


England – Twickenham Stadium, London


With a capacity of 82,500, Twickenham – some ten miles southwest of the city centre – is the largest dedicated rugby venue in the world. It’s also home to the World Rugby Museum, which tells the story of the beautiful brutal game through a series of tours and exhibitions.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

Work began on building Twickenham Stadium’s stands in 1908. Before that the land was a ten-acre vegetable plot – giving rise to Twickenham’s affectionate nickname: The Cabbage Patch.


Saturday 22nd February:
England v Ireland

Saturday 12th March:
England v Wales

Getting there:

Twickenham is six miles from Heathrow, 20 miles from London City Airport and 30 miles from Gatwick. The nearest train station is Twickenham, just a ten-minute walk from the stadium. London Overground and District Line Underground trains stop at Richmond Station. From here you can catch an RFU shuttle bus service to the stadium, before and after events. By car, exit the M25 at J12 onto the M3. This becomes the A316 and Twickenham Stadium is off the Whitton Road roundabout next to the Lexus/Toyota car dealership.

Where to park:

A limited number of parking spaces are available within the grounds of the stadium. You can pre-book your parking to reserve a space on the RFU eTicketing website. There is a 50% concession for blue badge holders. Beyond the stadium, the surrounding roads are for resident permit holders only. There is an off-site car park at Rosebine Avenue, next to the Twickenham Stoop (Harlequins RFC) on the A316 (Chertsey Road). From here it’s just a ten-minute stroll to the stadium.

Where to get a pint:

For those wishing to soak up some serious match day ambience, you won’t beat Eel Pie or Cabbage Patch, the latter of which claims to be the most famous rugby pub in the world. Both are within walking distance of the stadium and offer a pleasingly rowdy atmosphere. For something more subdued, head for Roxy Bar & Screen in Tower Bridge. It has a gigantic screen and is renowned for its hospitable, relaxed coverage.

France – Stade de France, Paris


Those expecting to be gazing at famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées as they schlep to the stadium are in for a shock. Stade de France is a fair way out of the centre, tucked away in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis. That doesn’t make this magnificent 81,338 capacity stadium any less enjoyable once you’re there.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

Stade de France was purpose built for the France 98 World Cup and is the only stadium in the world to have hosted a World Cup final for both rugby and football.


Saturday 6th February:
France v Italy

Saturday 13th February:
France v Ireland

Saturday 19th March:
France v England

Getting there:

Paris is well-connected via the Réseau Express Régional (RER), which is very much like the London Underground. The stops you need are La Plaine Stade de France station on Line B or Stade de France – St Denis Station on Line D. Trains leave every five minutes or so from Gare du Nord and 9 mins from Châtelet. By car, take the N°2 exit from the A1 motorway or the N°9 exit from the A86 motorway.

Where to park:

Parking must be purchased in advance of game-day. You can do so on the Stade de France website here.

Where to get a pint:

Being out in the suburbs means you may have to look a little harder to find your ideal pub to take in the match. Au Metro’s surfeit of screens means you won’t miss a tackle. It’s also popular with the locals, which is great if you’re looking for authenticity. Find it on 66 rue Raymond Losserand. For something a little more tourist-friendly, Great Canadian is well worth a try. (Ahem, sorry.) It’s on Quai des Grands Augustins.

Ireland – Aviva Stadium, Dublin


Built on the former site of Ireland’s legendary rugby stadium Lansdowne Road, what the Aviva Stadium lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Expect a raucous home crowd in this 57,100 seater stadium – opened in 2010.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

The distinctive dip in the northern stand is due to its proximity to local housing.


Sunday 7th February:
Ireland v Wales

Saturday 12th March:
Ireland v Italy

Saturday 19th March:
Ireland v Scotland

Getting there:

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is an electric rail system that makes doing Dublin a doddle. The line runs under the west stand of the stadium and stops at Lansdowne Road Station. From the city centre, take the southbound line from Pearse Station, Tara St Station or Connolly Station. Alternatively, if you don’t mind stretching your legs, enjoy the one-mile walk from the city centre while taking in Dublin’s sights and sounds.

Where to park:

Thinking of driving? No dice. There are no parking facilities on match days, although a limited amount of accessible parking is available. Contact the stadium for more details.

Where to get a pint:

This being Dublin, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a decent spot to watch the game. Within a stone’s throw of the stadium are The Bath and The Bridge 1859 – the latter of which is owned by Irish rugby players Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, and brothers Rob and Dave Kearney. For something – ever so slightly – less hectic, head for the large HD projectors of Bull & Castle on Lord Edward Street or The Back Page in Phibsboro. Both have an exceptional bar menu (think gourmet burgers and wood-fired pizzas.)
Italy – Stadio Olimpico, Rome


With 70,600 seats and a history stretching back to 1928, the Stadio Olimpico is a big stadium with a big character. The running track that surrounds the pitch means fans are slightly further from the action, though for sports nuts of a certain vintage it will rekindle memories of the 1960 Olympics in Rome. This is the temporary home of Italian rugby while Stadio Flaminio gets a long-awaited face lift.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

Stadio Olimpico is also the home of the Italian capital’s two major football teams – AS Roma and SS Lazio.


Sunday 14th February:
Italy v England

Saturday 27th February:
Italy v Scotland

Getting there:

From the centre of Rome, take tram number 2 from Piazzale Flaminio. Stay on the tram for around fifteen minutes until its terminus in Piazza Mancini, which is just a short walk to the stadium.

Where to get a pint:

The Highlander is just a punt away from Stadio Olimpico and promises pilgrims the finest rugby experience in Rome. Alternatively try The Fiddler’s Elbow – an Irish bar stationed in the centre of the capital that welcomes away fans.

Scotland – Murrayfield, Edinburgh


Murrayfield upholds a proud history of Scottish rugby, hosting its first international in 1925 when Scotland beat England 14-11 to win the Five Nations grandslam. There’s a running track along one side of the pitch, though the three other stands are nice and close to the action. Expect a feisty atmosphere whenever England have the audacity to turn up.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

During WWII, Murrayfield was taken over by the Royal Army Service Corps and used as a supply depot.


Saturday 6th February:
Scotland v England

Sunday 13th March:
Scotland v France

Getting there:

The closest railway station to Murrayfield is Haymarket, which is a one-mile walk from the stadium. If you don’t fancy the stomp, you can catch a tram from Haymarket to Murrayfield Stadium, which will dump you right outside the stadium. Buses are frequent and many services travel close to the stadium: 12, 26, 31, 22, 30 (Lothian Buses); 12, 16, 38 (First Bus); 100 (Airlink).

Where to park:

A limited amount of on-site parking is available for ticket holders. This must be pre-booked. You can do that on the Scottish Rugby website here, or call +44 (0)844 335 3933.

Where to get a pint:

Murrayfield Bar, pretty much next door to the stadium, is second only to being inside Murrayfield itself. As you can imagine, the sheer number of punters means you can expect to wait a little longer for your pint. But if it’s atmosphere you want, you won’t beat it. For something quieter, pre-book a table at Sportsters Bar & Diner on Market Street for a cosy seat and tasty grub or head for Queens Arms or The World’s End.

Wales – Principality Stadium, Cardiff


After two solid years, 56,000 tonnes of materials and £121 million worth of building work, Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium) opened in June 1999, just in time for the Rugby World Cup. Since then it has welcomed around 1.3 million visitors per year. With a capacity of 74,500, it’s the third largest stadium in the 6 Nations, though arguably the most revered. Home fans are capable of creating a frenzied atmosphere on match days – and the effect is doubled when the retractable roof is closed.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

The 9 foot tall statue outside Gate 3 of the stadium depicts Sir Tasker Watkins, president of the Welsh Rugby Union between 1993 and 2004. He won the Victoria Cross in WWII and went on to become a distinguished lawyer and judge. Before his death in 2007 he was colloquially described as the greatest living Welshman.


Saturday 13th February:
Wales v Scotland

Friday 26th February:
Wales v France

Saturday 19th March:
Wales v Italy

Getting there:

Principality Stadium is just a five-minute walk from both Cardiff Central railway station and Cardiff Central bus station. These are the best options for ticket-holders as much of the city centre is pedestrianised for big games.

Where to get a pint:

The compactness of Cardiff city centre means two things: 1) getting around on foot is easy; 2) everywhere is heaving on match days. City Arms and Old Arcade both stand in the shadow of the stadium and will promise an electric atmosphere. For big screens, food and (a small chance of) a quieter atmosphere, head to Walkabout on St Mary’s Street or, next door, The Prince of Wales – a massive Wetherspoons in an old theatre with a 20ft roll-down screen and eight televisions.
Travelling to the game? Score cheap travel insurance with us!


The World First Wander – Europe’s hottest travel destinations

February 22nd, 2016

The World First Wander – Europe’s hottest travel destinations

Welcome to another World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in the world of travel blogging and writing. As always it’s compiled by Tristan Rothwell, the man who scours the internet for the very best travel related stuff so you don’t have to.

Travel bloggers. You’ve got to love them. Remember when we recently mentioned how many of the bloggers we follow have been talking about Iceland? This week a study confirmed it is officially surging in popularity, with a 30% growth in visitors in the last 12 months. To the list of so-hot-right-now destinations you can swiftly add – deep breath – Romania, Slovakia, Montenegro, Ireland, Croatia, Portugal and Greece. So this week, armed with our European travel insurance, that’s where we’re heading: Europe’s travel hotspots.

Buckle up!


The World First Wander – Europe’s hottest travel destinations







It’s a geological marvel. And it’s home to some of Mother Nature’s most visceral scenery. How could you not be intrigued by Iceland? Our first blog post this week is from the Fuji film blog, dedicated to all things photographic. Prime your jaw to hit the floor as you take in part 1 and part 2.

Okay, that’s the snaps taken care of. Now you need to know how to discover the secrets of this enchanting island. First up is California girl Kiersten, who knows how to make the most of an Iceland stopover. Staying a little longer? Then you need two things: some wheels and Escape Brooklyn’s advice for a roadtrip in Iceland.    


Europe’s hottest travel destinations








If you’d rather not forego the finer things, you’re in good hands with Matt Long from Landlopers. You may not associate Iceland with luxury, but it’s time to put that myth to bed once and for all: Enjoying a luxury Iceland getaway in three steps.


Romania travel








It’s home to the largest collection of Brown Bears in Europe. But that isn’t stopping people flocking to Romania, which is enjoying 17% growth as a tourist destination. Most travellers head for the capital. But before you do the same, make sure you’re aware of the common misconceptions about Bucharest. Then whet your appetite with Nomadic Matt’s Romania travel tips and TripAdvisor’s Romania travel forum.

Chances are you will leave Romania with a heavy heart (albeit one that’s less jumpy about the chances of coming nose to snout with you know what). Yet there is no finer way to leave Romania than jumping on a cross-country train bound for another magical city. But hey, don’t take our word for it: Everything you need to know about travelling by train from Bucharest to Sofia


With 16% growth in visitors, Slovakia is another bona fide European hotspot. And that’s where we head next with Touch The World Travel and their guide to Bratislava in Slovakia. What to see, where to see it and – more importantly – where to eat. It’s all there. For pudding? A few generous dollops of Bratislava travel tips from Nina Travels. Delish.










The Visit Bratislava website is another one-stop-shop for what to do in the Slovakian Capital, packed with everything you will ever need to know, from why you should visit  to the gastronomic delights available.










Black Mountain. Montenegro. Call it what you will. Just know that it’s seriously in vogue right now, seeing a 15.5% increase in tourism on last year. Our first stop here is with My Well Travelled Friend, who travelled to Montenegro with son Oscar and has wrought the English language into this: Montenegro with kids – what to do and where to go.

As you might expect given the name, Montenegro is home to stunning mountain scenery. Fetch your crampons and join the Travel Tramp in Durmitor National Park. Stunning photography awaits in Durmitor: The mighty mountains of Montenegro. And if that’s enough to get you booking your flights, bone up on the need-to-knows with The traveller’s guide: Montenegro from The Independent and Montenegro.travel.

travelling in europe








The best of the rest of Europe

To help us cover the rest of Europe we start off with The Roaming Renegades. “Question normality” is their travel mantra. And who are we to argue? We start off a whistle-stop tour gazing at some of Europe’s most stirring, beautiful buildings: Churches of Eastern Europe: A photo essay.

Rock & Stroll – Some walking holiday ideas

walking holidays in europe








Sometimes you can’t beat a good stroll. But if your love of exploring the world on two feet is more than fleeting fondness, you will find plenty of inspiration for your next stomp from Global Help Swap: Rock & Stroll: great European walking holidays.

A City of Romance

You know about Paris. And Venice is just a cliché. Nope, when it comes to romance, spontaneity is the order of the day. You might think that Heidelberg in Germany is a bit of a curveball when it comes to a backdrop for romance, but that’s only because you haven’t read this from Heather On Her Travels: Heidelberg – Germany’s city of romance.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan?

Game of thrones image







Spurred by the stunning scenery in Game of Thrones, Croatia has become a must-visit for any self-respecting telly addict. But why waste your time searching hither and yon for those dramatic GoT backdrops when the legwork has already been done for you? All you need to do is follow in the footsteps of StoryPick: See the real shooting locations of Game of Thrones.

But of course there’s much more to Croatia than pretty scenery. Feast your eyes on the people, the places and the mouth-watering plates of food with travel photographer Travel Experience Live: 32 Croatia photos that will make you want to visit this gem of a country. Which way to the airport?

Got a travel blog? Tell us about it so we can feature you! Just leave a comment below.

5 sensual spa breaks in Europe for Mother’s Day

February 18th, 2016

5 sensual spa breaks in Europe for Mother’s Day

spa breaks in Europe








Mother’s Day is just around the corner (6th March to be precise). If mum deserves more than flowers and a tray of Thornton’s this year, spoil her rotten by whisking her off for a lavish spa holiday. It will show her just how special she is – and you will get to pamper yourself silly too. Win, win.


1. Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy

There are worse ways to spend your time than soaking in a bubbling outdoor whirlpool tub, overlooking the azure waters of Lake Como. This five star hotel – complete with beautiful art nouveau furnishings – packs some serious style. After a day spent cycling along the shores of the lake or pottering around in the stunning 20-acre hotel gardens, rejuvenate with a hot stone massage before soaking in the heated infinity pool and hydrotherapy areas. Bliss. This being Italy, there’s also a mouth-watering selection of fresh seafood, wood-fired pizzas and grilled meats.

Rooms from: £295
Airports: Lugano (29 miles), Milan Malpensa (50 miles)


2. Les Sources de Caudalie, Martillac, France

When your spa treatment menu reads more like a wine list in some snazzy gastro joint, you know you must be in France. The hotel spa is a self-professed pioneer of vinotherapy, harnessing the anti-ageing properties of polyphenols found in grape seeds. If that all sounds a bit gimmicky, let’s just say the crushed cabernet scrubs, merlot and honey wraps, and soaks in grape marc (that’s the name for what’s left of the grapes after wine-pressing) feel pretty darn great. The spa also has its own natural hot-water spring and a beautiful indoor pool framed by dozens of oak beams.

Rooms from: £173
Airport: Bordeaux (16 miles)


3. Resort Svata Katerina, Počátky, Czech Republic

If it’s peace and quiet you and mum are pining for, you could do worse than a pilgrimage to Svata Katerina. This hotel and spa – just a short journey from the sleepy town of Počátky – is in the middle of a forest where cars are banned.  But don’t think peace and quiet means you can’t get the pulse racing. A huge selection of activities are available including yoga, pilates, fitball, bootcamp, volleyball, badminton, horse riding and tennis. Or wind it down a notch with golf, fishing, Nordic walking and petanque. Either way, there’s a Jacuzzi under the stars waiting for you at the end of the day.

3 night packages from £485
Airport: Václav Havel Airport Prague (100 miles)


4. Parkhotel Igls, Innsbruck, Austria

Happy gut, happy body. That’s the central philosophy at Parkhotel Igls, where the incredibly astute staff pioneer modern Mayr medicine. After a once-over on arrival, you will be given a tailored nutritional plan for your stay with dishes designed to cleanse your system and stimulate sluggish digestion. Exercise is gentle and promotes stability and core strength, while treatments include a selection of massages, mud wraps and, erm, beeswax liver compresses. Expect less R&R, more lifestyle tune-up. But as Condé Nast Traveller’s Most Effective Medi-Spa 2015, Parkhotel Igls is clearly doing something right. Give the gift of a healthier lifestyle.

Rooms from: £215
Airport: Innsbruck Airport (6 miles), Salzburg Airport (110 miles)


5. Hotel Barceló Hamilton, Menorca, Spain

The newly refurbed, adults-only Barceló Hamilton is home to U-Wellness, where guests can laze around in the Finnish sauna, hammam, sensation showers and cube showers – use of which is complimentary for hotel guests. There’s also a huge selection of facial treatments, beauty treatments and body massages. Up on the rooftop terrace, there are six hot tubs where you can enjoy some you time while overlooking the Bay of Mahón and the Mediterranean Sea. Above that is Sky Bar, with commanding panoramic views over the city below. And with the most affordable room rates on our list, an all-pampering break doesn’t have to break the bank. (Sshh, we won’t tell. Mum’s the word.)

Rooms from: £67
Airport: Menorca Airport (9 miles)

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The World First Wander: travel blogs we loved this week

February 15th, 2016

The World First Wander: travel blogs we loved this week

Welcome to another World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in the world of travel blogging and writing. As always it’s compiled by Tristan Rothwell, the man who scours the internet for the very best travel related stuff so you don’t have to.

It’s been another busy week in the world of travel and travel blogging. This week we take a look at adventurous ladies, being bored at half term and backpacking and hiking.

Learning as you go

travel blogs we loved this week

Travel broadens the mind. True.

Some would say that the world is the best classroom and sometimes it’s hard to argue with it. Seeing, doing and experiencing life as you travel through it is a brilliant way to learn. That’s why we have chosen to include An education on the road from the brilliantly named Plutonium Sox blog written by Natalie Ray. Taking off and hitting the road for 12 months? Who wouldn’t want to do that?

One for the women


Where are all the women adventurers? Here, that’s where.

Our next post is from Hannah at That Adventurer whose latest blog post did get us thinking and asking Where are all the female adventurers? And it’s a good question, as Hannah says we have all watched Levison Wood walking the length of the Nile and the Himalayas and Bear Grylls doing his thing with Obama, but why haven’t we seen the girls? Have a look at Hannah’s blog post to find out what the girls are really up to. They are paragliding off 4000ft mountains in Switzerland, climbing impossible peaks and cave diving in Cuba. Check out what the likes of The Roaming Renegades and Words and Other Such Things are getting up to…

Mummy I’m bored

world first wander travel blog

No more bored kids at half term – we promise!

It can be a nightmare finding things to keep the young ones amused during half term, so we wanted to create a mini list of some blog posts that we thought might help you keep them happy. Firstly, My Travel Monkey have written a blog post with some top things to do this February half term (in London) including the first ever London puddle jumping championships! We think it sounds brilliant.

Tots to Travel are thinking Pirates at Pendennis Castle in their half term offering. It is a truly stunning castle and well worth a visit – especially if there are going to be pirates there!

There is also loads to do in our hometown of Exeter, and Devon in general, if you are holidaying in the westcountry. Take a peek at Visit Devon for some great ideas, from Exeter’s underground passages to the house of marbles in Bovey Tracey. Kids will love it.

Backpacking and Hiking

The great outdoors is indeed great. But what about if you have just had a baby? Travel Mad Mum Karen Edwards hit the headlines last week for heading off around the world with partner Shaun and baby Esme who was just 10 weeks old when they set off. Some may say it’s crazy but we sau “fantastic!” Find out all about it in Backpacking around the world with a baby on maternity leave. What an adventure!

travel blogging

Skye: beautiful landscapes. Take your walking boots.

Of course you don’t need to trek to the other side of the world to have an amazing adventure. Our next post proves it. It was written by Sarah at the Wanderblogger, who recently visited the isle of Skye on Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. Looks like a great place to hike. Have a read of The Isle of Skye: a real life Treasure Island.  If it seems like your idea of heaven you can find more information about Skye and what is has to offer hikers at The Skye trail. And then have a look at another of Sarah’s posts:  9 beautiful hikes and landscapes on the Isle of Skye.


What is it you look for in a travel insurance company?

February 11th, 2016

What is it you look for in a travel insurance company?

travel insurance

We all expect different things from life. It’s part of what makes our society so rich. But what about when it comes to making important buying decisions, like buying your travel insurance? We all need it but how do we choose? Not all companies are the same. Some offer specialist cover while others won’t even consider covering people with even the most minor of medical conditions.

What do you expect from your travel insurance provider? How would, say, a good customer service experience favour compared to a low price? How would you choose then? What’s important to you?

For some of our customers it’s customer service that’s important. They like to speak with a real person on the phone. That’s understandable. Other customers look for low prices. That’s perfectly understandable too. We can offer good prices because we use the Protectif medical screening system, which is detailed and comprehensive and enables us to assess risks properly. Some people look for the ability to cover medical conditions after their usual insurer turns them down for cover. We find that a lot.

Anyway, whatever you come to us for, the truth is that we all expect and want different things. As a company we try to do our best to keep all our customers happy, but there’s only so much we can tell you. So we thought we should let some of your fellow customers do the talking. The following are genuine Trustpilot reviews about the way we do business. They were all posted in the last week.

If you want to read more, you can read them all here.

The truth

As an older couple we will never go with anybody else again. A wonderful company. And when on holiday we told every older people who we met to contact you for Insurance. Thank you so much, we can now enjoy a few more holidays at our age. My cousin told me and my husband about how good you were. I should have listened as we were ripped off as oldies. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart xx

Excellent cover

Having being diagnosed with a chronic illness some time ago, and after several one-off policies to cover the possibility of treatment while abroad, I was advised to speak with World First. The annual policy offered was everything I required and it has been renewed many times since inception several years ago.

Very happy new customer

It was very nice to be able to talk to a real person as though they actually cared.
I was sold a policy which exactly fitted my needs. Thank you.

Fantastic for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

This is the fourth time I have bought travel insurance from World First Travel competitively priced and wonderful with both myself and my sons pre-existing conditions.

On Holiday!

We have struggled to find good cover for our trip to Vietnam, since my wife was diagnosed with Myeloma 4 months ago. However, we applied to World First on recommendation of The Myeloma Group and after very diligent medical screening we were very pleased to have been offered cover at a very reasonable premium. We do not anticipate having to make a claim, but it is re-assuring and puts our minds at rest should there be unforeseen problems. Thank you!

Surprised costing

After getting a lot of expensive quotes because of my wife’s heart attack I was starting to give up but I was recommended World First by Chase Templeton. I did an online quote but was told I needed to ring them for further screening. They did a more thorough screening than anyone else and I was expecting the pounds to increase with each question but it turned out the opposite. The quote was way less than anyone else so after reviewing the policy I rang them back and bought it. Certainly try them again.

Very easy to set up and a very competitive price

Each page was easy to follow and the policy was just what I wanted at the right price, especially having pre-existing medical conditions.

Great deal

I wanted travel insurance at a reasonable price and that’s what I got. A friend of mine looked online for me, she also rang them and she said they were very obliging and friendly. Thank you.

Very impressed

Very impressed with the service I received, because I thought the representative took time to assess the risk I presented and didn’t hear the condition and assume the worst. I would and have recommended others to contact World First for a quote and will do so again.

Great for those with medical conditions

Much more intelligent questions than any other travel insurance company meant that my premium for an annual policy, even though I have leukaemia, was less than £200. I had been quoted as much as £1200 for a 2 week holiday. It was a relief to find World First who were recommended by MacMillan and it meant I could go on holiday with my daughter when my treatment ended. I have no experience of making a claim.

Over 75

It’s hard to find a company that will insure the over 75’s. World First don’t seem to have a problem with it. Have used them before and have done so again with confidence


After trying to get insurance with various Insurance companies due to my husband having cancer we finally found World First Travel Insurance. They insured him at a very reasonable price, Thank you!!!

Excellent service!

Excellent service and cover for ongoing conditions. Helpful telephone contacts. We have already passed on World First Travel to our neighbours who have since taken out travel insurance with you themselves after having difficulty with other companies.

No problems even with medical conditions

Found the quotation process very easy to complete. Listed our medical conditions and received an immediate quote. Very pleased with the premium. We were able to purchase an annual, worldwide policy which included cruise cover for a small extra cost.
Would definately use again.

A name and extension number of an individual I can contact is most reassuring

The above is what all service providers should be giving their customers. Well done WFTI.


The World First Wander: travel inspiration from World First travel insurance

February 8th, 2016

The World First Wander: travel inspiration from World First travel insurance

Welcome to another World First Wander, our weekly look at what’s hot in the world of travel blogging and writing. As always it’s compiled by Tristan Rothwell, the man who scours the internet for the very best travel related stuff so you don’t have to.

It’s been another busy week in the world of travel and travel blogging. This week we take a look at travel advice, searching for hidden treasure and confessions of a travel blogger.

Ignoring the advice of the FCO

We start off with a controversial story. It is especially so for us in the travel Insurance industry because it is about travelling to a country where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against travel to. The basic crux of this is that if you do go to such places it is likely that you will void any travel insurance you may have. We would always recommend you read and heed the FCO’s advice if you are planning to visit any country. It’s also worth reading their Know before you go page.

However, Travel Geek decided to go against all this advice in his latest post that he has entitled  Should you visit a country that’s advised against travel to?  It’s interesting, of course, but our response has to be ‘if you want and expect cover then it has to be “NO”’.

Mallorca. Should you or shouldn’t you?

image 1

Mallorca. Go or no? If you like winding roads….yes!

Mallorca has always been a popular destination for us Brits. And it’s not hard to work out whay when you look at the average temperatures. Even in winter you can expect a balmy mid 20s degrees Celsius.  It seems like a distant memory here! So it shouldn’t be such a tough decision for blogger Jen Lowthrop on She Gets Around. But in case you need reminding here are the answers to the important question So…..should I visit Mallorca this winter?

2nd Week in a row for the Bimblers

We included The Bimblers in last week’s World First Wander as they were celebrating their first 12 months of blogging. This week we are featuring them again with their Wheelchair friendly bucket list for 2016, although we have to say we are deeply disappointed that neither Rob nor Bridget have yet to venture to Cornwall. We think both Devon and Cornwall should be on everyone’s bucket list, which is why we’ve found two great sites for people looking for accessible holidays in the Westcountry (or anywhere for that matter. Check out Accessible Countryside  and Walks with wheelchairs.

Top travel Destinations for February

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So hot right now. Berlin. Home of the Trabant and great street art.

We like to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to the hot travel destinations bloggers are writing about. This week we seek the advice of Scottish Emma who has been giving us some ideas for Top February travel destinations.  Some great ideas in there, from Berlin to Iceland, places that are proving popular with travellers at the moment. Berlin is obviously a hot spot at the moment because A Brit and a Southerner have also been blogging about it as well in their post 10 Reasons you will love to explore Berlin in a day

image 3

Going up? The easy way…

Another spot that will always be hot is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. As  with any tourist attraction there are always a few tips worth reading to make your visit easier, so if you are planning a trip, have a read of Tips for touring the Eiffel tower from Pit Stops for Kids.

Searching for hidden treasure

image 4

Boxes of treasure on a real life treasure hint.

Geocaching, in case you have never heard of it, is the up to date equivalent of letterboxing. That is using your phone or GPS locator to find hidden treasures around the countryside. It’s a great way to get out there in the wild whether and is as simple to get started on as downloading app. Tristan likes  Geocaching.com

Geocaching is a great way to explore new destinations on holiday. In the course of a day you’ll visit all kinds of places you might never have gone. Kids love it too because they still get to use their phones but also get to go outside. It’s a parents’ win win. If you are new to Geocaching Got Ireland has a new post that explains it all: Geocaching in Ireland: searching for hidden treasure.

Searching for Adventure

image 5

Where will your boots take you this year?

Hand Luggage Only have featured many times before in the World First Wander, and for good reason. They consistently write great articles about great stuff which are always accompanied by amazing photography. This next post is no different. 21 Adventures you have to take this year is a dreamer’s paradise of ideas. Which one would you do first?

Finally, it’s confession time

Confession is good for the soul, so they say. So here’s a little something another of our favourite bloggers, Vicky Flip Flop.  If this isn’t enough to make you want to run for the nearest airport then we don’t know what is. It’s funny, honest and inspiring. Ready…? Take it away Vicky…. 29 confessions of a 4 year strong travel blogger.


4th February is World Cancer Day. We can. Can you?

February 2nd, 2016

4th February is World Cancer Day. We can. Can you?

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day takes place this week, on the 4th of February. As an awareness day its aim is to unite populations across the globe in the fight against cancer. The result of such an awareness is to help prevent millions of deaths each year though education, research and action.

Why world Cancer Day is important

Currently around 8.2 million people die each year from cancer. Of those, around 4 million will die prematurely as a result of cancer. It’s every reason to get involved.

How can you get involved?

The campaign is largely about social media, spreading the message and people making pledges to do the things that they can, despite or in the face of cancer. It encourages people to make healthy lifestyle choices, ask for help, support others, create healthy environments, inspire action or even take control of their own cancer journey.

These might sound like tough asks but the World Cancer Day website has lots of downloadable factsheets to help you if these are some of the choices you want to make. So if you have been inspired by the campaign or want to get involved, it’s easy.

Even if it’s as simple as downloading a profile picture for your Twitter  account it still matters. That’s because every action, no matter how simple, shows you care and that you want to speak out.

I have never heard of World Cancer Day. How long has it been going?

World Cancer Day was established by the Paris Charter adopted at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris on 4 February 2000. This Charter aimed at the promotion of the research for curing as well as preventing the disease, upgrading the provided services to the patients, the sensitisation of the common opinion and the mobilisation of the global community against cancer.

Living with cancer? Can you travel? We can help

While travelling might be the last thing on your mind while receiving treatment for cancer, it can often be the first thing that people want to do after treatment. However, it’s not always easy. For a start it can be really difficult to get travel insurance cover. However, it’s not with World First. We cover lots of types of cancer – from bowel cancer to breast cancer – and always at a price that’s fair. That’s because we understand that every cancer is different and that every cancer needs to be treated differently.

While we accept that risks of needing medical treatment abroad are greater, we would never penalise you simply for being unwell. It’s part of what we do.

So if your ‘I can’ for World Cancer Day is to travel the world, give us a call. We can help.

0345 90 80 161


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World First is a trading name of Rothwell & Towler (2013) Ltd. Travel insurance premiums and availability of cover may vary depending on individual circumstances. If you are a consumer or business insured you are reminded of your obligations to provide full and accurate information concerning your insurance cover. Further information can be found here. We are an Appointed Representative of Crispin Speers & Partners Ltd who are Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Register number 311507. Rothwell & Towler (2013) Ltd, Registered in England No. 08294942. Registered Office: St Clare House, 30-33 Minories, London EC3N 1PE.

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