Europe

Fall back in love with holidaying in the UK

It may be winter in the UK at the moment but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to visit. With Covid putting our usual plans on hold, many of us have taken a different approach to holidaying in 2020 and into 2021. Here we take a look at places that can be enjoyed through the winter and into the spring, from city breaks to countryside retreats.

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds boosts beautiful chocolate box villages that draw the attention of visitors all year round, and is the largest area of outstanding natural beauty (AOND) in England and Wales, straddling 6 counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, south Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire and Bath & northeast Somerset.  If you are looking for a winter city break why not head to Bath, the historic city famous for its Roman Spa Baths. Take a tour around the ancient Roman baths during the day and then indulge in a spa evening at the modern Thermae Bath Spa, which houses the only natural thermal hot springs in Britain you can bathe in. If you would rather visit the Cotswolds in the Spring, head to the town of Warwick and explore the famous Castle; take the family along as it’s a great day out for all ages.

Yorkshire Moors

The Yorkshire Moors have been the setting for many novels, including those of the Bronte Sisters, Wuthering Heights by sister Emily Bronte, reached great popularity, with the moors as the enchanting back drop. Another popular novel that has recently seen a remake of the first film, is the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which tells the tale of a young girl who is brought to Misselthwaite Manor, located on the moor, to live with her uncle after being orphaned. In these novels the Yorkshire Moors are portrayed as wild and romantic and it continues to be a popular place to visit. Famous for its countryside walks and its location to Robin Hoods Bay, the final destination on the coast to coast walk: it’s easy to see why walking holidays in the UK are proving ever popular to really immerse yourself in nature.

London

When you think of the UK, you think of London. It’s hard not to after all, with it being the capital city. Not only is it the capital but it’s a great place to visit all year round: packed with history, fun days out and excellent food and retail therapy. Decorated for Christmas is when the city really shines though, shop windows are decorated to show the magic of Christmas and Christmas trees are found across the city, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and Somerset House to name a few.

Edinburgh

If you don’t fancy a trip to London this Christmas, Edinburgh is another beautiful city in the winter. Take a stroll down Princess Street admiring the Christmas decorations before calling into a cosy pub for a glass of mulled wine. If you are feeling adventurous you can take a walk up to Arthurs Seat, an ancient volcano and the site of a 2000 year old fort that sits 251 metres above sea level, lending to breath taking views of the city. The city and its surroundings are a must for any whisky lover, why not take a tour around a working distillery, or pop into the Scottish Whisky Experience at the top of the Royal Mile and see the largest collection of Scottish Whisky in the world.

Enjoy your next UK holiday but don’t forget to check the latest travel advice before exploring these fantastic places.

Asia

Best Places and Experiences in Vietnam

When you’re out to visit Vietnam, there are plenty of places to explore, and experiences to enjoy. Vietnam is spreading on a large territory and boasts cultural heritage, natural treasures, and mesmerizing sceneries. It’s pretty much impossible to see everything, and as a tourist, one should have it all planned out to make sure they will enjoy an unforgettable trip.

To make things a bit easier, we’ve handpicked a couple of must-have experiences and places to visit when visiting Vietnam. Of course, which ones you go for, is all up to you, but we made sure to include something for everyone.

Ha Long Bay

We’re kicking things off with one that’s perfect if you want to cruise Vietnam – the Ha Long Bay. It is definitely one of the most recognizable places when it comes to Vietnam, and it’s a sight to behold. You have the bay’s emerald waters and quite a lot of limestone mountains that are scattered throughout.

Now, Ha Long Bay is something that you could spend a single day on, but if you want to make the most of it, you should definitely dedicate at least two to three days. This will allow you to explore it completely, and see what it’s all about.

Hanoi

One of the most crowded places in Vietnam, Hanoi is located in northern Vietnam. Contrary to the peace you could get from exploring Vietnam’s wilderness, in Hanoi, you get the Old Quarter experience. This is a place that’s chaotic, to say the least, but there are a lot of things to do.

This is where you’ll find some of Vietnam’s finest colorful food for sale. Both the sidewalks and the streets are as crowded as they come, which is why Hanoi, especially the Old Quarter, shouldn’t be your first stop. Even though that’s exactly what makes it so attractive, Hanoi is rather overwhelming. You should visit something like Hoi An first. And while we’re at it …

Hoi An

While the name is definitely similar to Hanoi, Hoi An is a slightly calmer experience in comparison. Hoi An is an ancient city located in central Vietnam, and should definitely be one of the places you witness. If your trip only allows you to go to one place in Vietnam, you should go to Hoi An.

The main reason why it’s so good is the fact that you pretty much get everything Vietnam has to offer. In the center, you’ll find some of the finest restaurants in Vietnam, as well as shopping opportunities. There are even some really nice historic sites you should visit, too. Oh, and if you take a short ride, you’ll be met with those stunning rice fields Vietnam is known for, as well as some of the best beaches you’ve seen.

The Mekong Delta

This is another one of those must-have experiences, and is also known as the “rice bowl”. The Mekong river actually starts all the way in China, moves through Cambodia and Laos, and ends in the Mekong Delta before going into the South China Sea.

But that’s not what you’re here for – what you are here for are the numerous rivers that spring out from the river in Vietnam’s south. They create a stunning network of canals that you can travel by boat, and they link things like small cities and rice farms. This is a stunning tropical maze that you’ll enjoy every minute of.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Min is one of the cities Vietnam is famous for, and there are plenty of reasons why. Previously known as Saigon, this buzzing-city gives you a pretty interesting combination of old and new, history and contemporary.

You will get the opportunity to visit and tour buildings that were designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Gustave Eiffel), see cultural sites like the War Remnants Museum, and if you would like a bird’s eye view of the entire city, you can head to the Bitexco Financial Building.

Of course, you also get to experience the same motorcycle dodging you get in Hanoi, which is pretty much a trademark of Vietnam at this point.

Phu Quoc

Even though technically, Phu Quoc is closer to Cambodia than mainland Vietnam, it’s still one of the most beautiful, tropical places you can visit. There is certainly no shortage of beautiful beaches in Vietnam, but Phu Quoc is something else. It’s the go-to place if you want to get away from the chaotic city experiences.

Now, one thing to note about Phu Quoc is that “you get what you pay for” is absolutely true here. If you want to enjoy it to the fullest, by all means spend a bit more and go for one of the nicer resorts. This also gets you larger and cleaner beaches, and better views, something definitely worth paying extra for.

And if you make it to Phu Quoc, do not miss the chance to continue your trip to Cambodia. It sure is one of the Asian countries, that together with Vietnam, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Wellness

Mass(age) Tourism: Ayurvedic therapy for anxiety in India

Top of the list of the things that I wanted to do on my trip to Goa was to immerse myself in the traditions of ayurvedic therapy during a lazy week on Palolem Beach.

I went online to find a practitioner, and as soon as I saw ‘psychosomatic massage’ I knew that I had to go outside my comfort zone and give this authentically Indian experience a try.

Ayurveda is a system of medicine that originated in the Indian subcontinent, often referred to as the ‘science of life,’ based on its translation from Sanskrit of Ayu (life) and Veda (science or knowledge). This method is over 3000 years old and it focuses on full-body healing.

Pain before pleasure

I booked my massage with a man named Ranjeet, who was described as a healer on TripAdvisor by the many travellers who swore by his methods. I was fascinated by the techniques he must use – especially as one woman said that the ‘relief was worthy of the pain’. How painful was this therapy going to be?

As a highly anxious person, I’m always looking for ways to unwind and reduce the intrusive thoughts in my mind, so I was prepared to experience a little pain…

Always check the reviews

For safety reasons, it’s important to always check the reviews before you book a massage as sexual assault does happen in rogue clinics in Goa. As I was a solo woman traveller I wanted to keep myself quite literally, in safe hands!

A small dark room

I had a degree of trepidation as I approached the hut, the place I was going to get my mind, body and spirit back in balance. I entered the small dark room, containing only a chair and hard bed not knowing what to expect. However, Ranjeet completely put me at ease – very important when you’re a woman in a room alone! He had a great sense of humour and I quickly realised mid-treatment that you have to have that to be an Ayurvedic therapist.

I do consider myself a ‘massage tourist’ as I’ve tried therapies all over the world – from Balinese massage to cupping therapy so I love to contrast different styles. Psychosomatic massage is certainly different to anything I’ve tried before – a few elements were similar to getting a seeing hands massage in Nepal – but it’s a whole different genre.

For a start, it was very long – 90 minutes and he asks you about what you want to get out of it, with the aim to release the tense emotions (blockages) that have built up in your body. It’s important not to eat for a couple of hours beforehand, as if you have, and they work on your stomach then your breakfast may make a reappearance.

‘Emotional Blockages’

A part of the job as an Ayurvedic healer is to analyse the tension that they feel in your body. He told me that the left side of the neck represents pain caused by a woman and the right is for men. The female pain was older than 10 years and the masculine tension was very fresh and much more pronounced.

I hadn’t had an argument with a female friend since my early twenties but my partner had inadvertently caused me grief on the trip. He’d been very ill during and after we trekked to Everest Base Camp and then again in India where he had his bag stolen. So yes, his theory was right but it could be a lucky guess, based on my age and sexuality.

Another diagnosis was that my lymphatic drainage system wasn’t working as I didn’t drink enough water. Apparently, dehydration makes skin more sensitive so that was something that I didn’t know.

‘Healing’ hands

Once the treatment began, it was incredibly vigorous as it’s a deliberate attempt to create heat from friction to make your muscles more malleable. The peak of the pain came when he stuck his finger under my armpit which was like nothing I’d ever experienced before or since. Although if I’d experienced childbirth, I probably wouldn’t be saying that! Helpfully, Ranjeet warns you when pain is imminent.

He surmised that I’d suffered from depression in the past and he identified the pressure points for stress, anxiety and anger, which he then pressed – hard. It took me through the gamut of negative emotions and then back to relief when he stopped let go after what felt like an incredible length of time.

Ranjeet refers to the agony of the massage as ‘sweet pain’ and encourages you to laugh and cry to let go of your feelings. As a deeply repressed British person who is wound pretty tight, I could do neither of those things! It took all of my willpower not to walk out the door.

The Aftermath

You do need a few sessions to work out the various knots and embrace the intensity of the treatment. Apparently, it hurts less a second time, and I would love to try it again to see if I could learn to accept the pain and release it more successfully! That evening I felt slightly weepy and light-headed but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

He told me that I would be in pain the next day and I certainly was – I also had small circular bruise marks on my skin due to the amount of pressure on my blood vessels. The bruises were a sign that he’d really worked hard on my ‘blockages’, so I wore them as a badge of honour.

Treat Yourself

Even though I felt like I was a long way from absorbing the spirituality that pervades everyday life in India, embracing Ayurvedic medicine felt like a big step toward it. I’d only been in India for two months at this point, so I was just an infant traveller in this mammoth country.

Anyone that backpacks around India deserves a massage – journeys are long and sometimes uncomfortable, at times you have very little personal space and sometimes figuring everything out can be stressful at times.

It’s a wonderful reward after long days that it takes to absorb the overwhelming and intriguing sights of India. You might even inadvertently heal something along the way. Ayurvedic massage is a uniquely painful bodily experience that your mind and muscles will never forget

Lifestyle Shopping

Where in The World to Find The Best Jewelry

Jewelry is not only beautiful and can carry a special meaning for its wearer, but the story of where the products come from and how they came to be make them even more incredible. There are different specialties for jewelry all around the world depending on what is available and produced locally. For example, there are some cities that have jewels as their specialty and where you can go only there to get the most beautiful pieces of jewelry in the world.

Here are a few places around the world where you can find beautiful jewelry:

Milan

Italy is well-known for its high-quality 100% Made in Italy items. It also has beautiful gold that you can find used to create some beautiful jewelry pieces throughout the country. At a luxury store such as Pisa Orologeria, a jewelry store in Milano, for example you can find luxury watches and accessories. In addition to gold, you’ll find precious jewels, including diamonds and colored stones.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a city that is home to a blend of Native American and Hispanic cultures. Some of the most incredible jewelry that you can find and purchase here is turquoise jewelry. It has a special significance in Native American culture, representing life, and it is more precious than gold. You can find beautiful pieces of turquoise jewelry here, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more.

Paris

Paris a historic city that is well-known for its blend of the old and of the new. For trendy pieces head to 3rd Arrondissment, but for pieces that are pre-loved and still beautiful, check out flea markets across the city. From gold to sapphires, you can find a whole range of incredible jewelry in the city. Would you expect anything less than the city of fashion?

New York City

New York City is another fashion hub with plenty of luxury items, and you can find beautiful precious metal jewelry here in the famous Diamond District. For example, you can find gold (yellow, white, etc.) and platinum jewelry in accessory types of your choosing.

Hong Kong

Yellow and white diamonds, pearls and more are amongst the beautiful jewelry you’ll find in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is known for having high quality jewelry that is unique and reasonably priced, and recently there are more designers that are coming out with distinct designs that honor the pieces’ origins.

Overall, if you want to buy high-quality gold pieces, Hong Kong is one of the most affordable places to do it.

These are all cities where you find pieces unlike anything else thanks to their unique aesthetics and design talent. Knowing where your jewelry is sourced from as well as designed and created gives an even greater appreciation into the beautiful pieces you use and love.

Travel Planning Trips

Traveling On a Tight Budget: How Next Vacay Can Take You Places

Taking a vacation is the perfect way to disconnect from your busy schedule and reconnect with the world around you. However, if your budget is tight, finding the funds for a lavish trip might feel impossible. Enter Next Vacay, your go-to resource for finding the best flight deals and putting your vacation within reach.

The Breakdown: What Next Vacay Is

Next Vacay is a subscription-based service that gives you access to the best deals on flights to just about anywhere in the world. It’s different from other flight deal service providers in several key ways. First, you only see deals on flights leaving from your nearest airport(s). No more sifting through pages of flights that don’t apply because they’re departing from other states. Your flight deals are customized for your location, allowing you to see where you could travel to for a great price.

Another difference is that Next Vacay’s powerful and innovative system uses advanced technology to search thousands of flight databases. You’re not limited to a single airline or flight site. Instead, you get the best possible deals as soon as they pop up, sent directly to your email. All deals are verified by the Next Vacay team before they are sent, ensuring that you have accurate information to help you make a decision about when to book.

Airlines often sell discounted tickets to fill flights, but those seats tend to go quickly. If you don’t know where to look or you don’t have the time to spend hours sifting through options, you could end up paying more than you have to for a flight. Next Vacay simplifies the process, connecting you with the best possible prices on flights to a wide range of destinations.

Another key difference between Next Vacay and other flight providers is the fact that Next Vacay is not a third-party booking agent. You book directly with the airline via the link sent in the email from Next Vacay. By booking directly, you can eliminate the middleman and ensure that you’re connected to the airline in the event of a flight change or delay.

Who Is Next Vacay For?

Anyone who loves to travel and save money is a prime candidate for Next Vacay. Flexible travelers tend to get the most value out of the subscription, as the deals that pop up may include dates that fall outside your planned vacation time. If you can adjust your departure or return date, even by a few days, you may be able to score a lower price for the flight.

Make the Most of Next Vacay

It’s helpful to have some flexibility in your departure and arrival location. Driving a few hours to a nearby airport could help you save, as could traveling through a larger hub airport and connecting to your final destination on another flight. Successful Next Vacay users also tend to act quickly, which means staying connected to their email. When an alert comes through, you may need to jump on it to get that price. Flight prices change quickly, depending on demand.

How to Find Cheap Flights With Next Vacay

The first step is signing up with Next Vacay, which authorizes the company to start sending you email alerts about cheap flights. The company offers a free trial period of 30 days, allowing you to start your search at no cost. After the trial period ends, the service only costs $25 per year, so it’s an affordable way to save on flights in the long term. During the signup process, you’ll enter your home airport location. If any airports are within a few hundred miles of that location, Next Vacay will include deals leaving from those airports as well.

Get Started 

After you sign up, Next Vacay’s system will begin scanning the databases for flights departing from your nearest airport(s). When any lower-priced tickets pop up in this search, the flight deals team at Next Vacay will verify to determine whether they should be included. You’ll then receive an instant alert after the verification process is successful, which will include details around the ticket price, the range of dates for which that price is available, and the destination. If it looks good to you, click the included link and book your ticket at that affordable rate.

Pros and Cons

Using Next Vacay provides a number of benefits to those who want to score discounts on travel. You can use the system to find flights to destinations all over the globe, including within your home country and to places across Europe, Australia, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. The deals provided via the emailed instant alerts will typically include flights available immediately as well as those up to 10 months out, with a range of dates that allow for some travel flexibility.

If you travel from many different locations and don’t necessarily have a home base, Next Vacay may not be as helpful for you. The system works by searching for deals from your home airport location and other airports within a few hours’ drive, so if you don’t have a location to enter, it won’t be able to perform the database searches. On the bright side, if you have multiple airports you travel out of frequently, you can set up an alert for several, you’ll just need to get in touch with their support team for them to customize your account.

Next Vacay is the most effective if you have some flexibility with your destination and travel dates. If you have firmly set travel plans, Next Vacay can’t guarantee that they’ll find a deal for you to that specific place, within that specific time frame. But, to offer the most flexibility, the team sends deals that are valid up to 10 months away. If you’re able to book quickly, this should still allow you plenty of time to make vacation arrangements at your job. Those who have to request time off and receive approval before booking may also have trouble making the most of Next Vacay, but to offer the most flexibility, the team sends deals that are valid up to 10 months away. If you’re able to book quickly, this should still allow you plenty of time to make vacation arrangements at your job.

No matter your travel budget or where you want to go on your next trip, Next Vacay can help you find affordable flights that make it possible to take that vacation you want to experience. Get started with your free trial and start scoping out the best prices on flights from your nearest airport.

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