North Yorkshire Continued!

in Features/Travel

Following on from our previous article about North Yorkshire, we visit a few more of the famous cities, towns and areas of natural beauty that comprise England’s largest, and arguably most picturesque, county.  

The City of Ripon, England’s third smallest city, is located at the confluence of two tributaries of the River Ure, the Laver and Skell. Known for the architecturally significant Ripon Cathedral, the building can be traced back to its foundation by St Wilfrid in 672AD, but the current cathedral dates to AD 1080, with 13th-century additions. The Anglo-Saxon crypt that remains from Wilfrid’s original basilica church is the oldest building of any English cathedral, and it is still in use today.

In 1723 the city of Ripon was the first in the UK to permit female jockeys to race. Ripon Racecourse is known as Yorkshire’s Garden Racecourse and during the summer it holds a full programme of flat racing events. 

Spa Gardens is a beautiful park right in the heart of Ripon. The gardens have been recognised for their high quality maintenance and facilities and have been awarded Green Flag status. Ripon’s War Memorial has been named the Best War Memorial in the ‘town class’ several times in the Yorkshire in Bloom awards. The Spa Gardens is also known for its Victorian bandstand concerts, nesting birds and tree sculptures depicting characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (it has been suggested that Ripon was one of the major inspirations for Carroll’s book).

Just ten miles south of Ripon is the spa town of Harrogate, voted for three consecutive years (2013–2015) as ‘the happiest place to live’ in Britain. Attractions include its spa waters and Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Harlow Carr. Harrogate is the home of Yorkshire Tea, exported by Taylors of Harrogate, as well as Harrogate Spring Water, Farrah’s Toffee, Harrogate Blue cheese and Debbie & Andrews Harrogate sausages!

The Great Yorkshire Showground is the hub of the regional agricultural industry and The Great Yorkshire Show, Countryside Live and the twice yearly Harrogate Flower Shows take place there.

As well as the usual high street shops, there is a wide range of boutique and designer shopping on Parliament Street and in the Montpellier Quarter, as well as independent shopping around Commercial Street.

There are multiple options for eating out in Harrogate. Parliament Street and Cheltenham Parade are lined with many independent and chain restaurants, while there are more restaurants on John Street and Albert Street.

Thirsk, or should we say ‘Herriot country’, was the home to Alf Wight who was better known by his pen name James Herriot, a British veterinary surgeon and author who shared his experiences as a country vet in a series of books which were adapted into the ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ TV series. In Thirsk you can visit The World of James Herriot, a visitor attraction in the former home and veterinary surgery of Herriot himself. Thirsk is a traditional market town and the medieval market, established in 1145, takes place in the central cobbled square twice a week. 

Established in 1952, North York Moors National Park covers an area of 170 square miles and is one of the UK’s most beautiful national parks. Famed for its heather-clad moorland, most spectacular and a must-see in the late summer, it magically lights up the landscape in a fiery blanket of vivid shades of pinks and purples. The park boasts a stunning landscape of rolling hills, rugged coastline and ancient woodlands and is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including rare species such as the red grouse and the water vole. 

You can explore picturesque villages and towns or embark on an adventure along the many hiking and cycling trails that wind through the park. The park is also steeped in history, with fascinating archaeological sites, stunning medieval abbeys, and picturesque castles dotting the landscape. 

If you want to get back to nature, The Yorkshire Dales offer both stunning natural beauty and a rich cultural history. From rolling hills and winding rivers to charming stone villages and ancient ruins, the Dales have something for everyone, including some of the finest limestone scenery in the UK. Another great place to walk along scenic trails, explore quaint market towns, or simply take in the breath-taking vistas from the comfort of a cosy pub. The people of the Dales are known for their warm hospitality and welcoming spirit, making this region a truly special place to visit. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Yorkshire Dales are sure to leave you enchanted and inspired.

For something a bit different, Eden Camp Modern History Museum is a unique and fascinating attraction that offers visitors a glimpse into the events and experiences of the Second World War and beyond. Housed within the buildings and grounds of a former Prisoner of War camp, a visit to this museum will take you back to wartime Britain where you can experience the sights, sounds and even smells of life on both the Home Front and the Front Line. From the recreated war-torn streets of Berlin to the Home Front in Britain, the museum provides a comprehensive and engaging exploration of the many facets of this pivotal moment in history. 

For more info 

Protecting Your Digital Footprint:

in Features/Travel

A Guide to Staying Safe from Hacks While on Holiday

As the world becomes increasingly connected, our digital footprints grow larger and more significant. From social media updates to online transactions, our online presence holds a wealth of personal information. While embarking on a holiday adventure is undoubtedly exciting, it’s crucial to remember the importance of safeguarding your digital footprint during your travels. In this article, we will explore some key measures to ensure your online security and privacy while enjoying a well-deserved holiday.

Update Your Devices and Software:

Before setting off on your holiday, make sure all your devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops—are up to date with the latest software and security patches. These updates often include essential fixes and improvements that address known vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of unauthorized access to your personal information.

Secure Your Devices with Strong Passwords:

Strengthen your digital defenses by creating unique, complex passwords for all your devices, apps, and online accounts. Avoid using easily guessable passwords and consider employing a reliable password manager to securely store and manage your login credentials.

Utilize Two-Factor
Authentication (2FA):

Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security for your online accounts. Enable 2FA whenever possible, especially for essential accounts such as email, social media, and banking. By requiring an additional verification step, such as a unique code sent to your mobile device, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised access.

Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi Networks:

While on holiday, you may be tempted to connect to public Wi-Fi networks for convenience. However, these networks can pose significant security risks. Avoid accessing sensitive information, such as online banking or personal email, while connected to public Wi-Fi. If you must use such networks, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and protect your data from prying eyes.

5. Think Twice Before Sharing

 Sharing updates and photos from your holiday on social media is a common practice. However, be cautious about revealing too much information. Broadcasting your location and travel plans can make you an easy target for potential burglars or hackers. Wait until you return home to post vacation pictures and stories to minimize the risk of attracting unwanted attention.

Lock Down Your Social Media Privacy Settings:

Review your social media privacy settings and ensure that only trusted individuals can view your personal information and posts. Adjust settings to limit access to your profile and posts to friends or specific groups. Regularly audit your friend list to remove unfamiliar or suspicious accounts.

7. Use Secure Payment Methods:

When making online purchases during your holiday, opt for secure payment methods such as credit cards or digital wallets. These methods offer additional fraud protection and allow you to dispute unauthorized charges. Avoid using debit cards or entering sensitive information on unfamiliar or unsecured websites.

8. Employ Remote Tracking and Wiping:

Take proactive measures to protect your data if your device gets lost or stolen while on holiday. Enable device tracking features, such as Find My iPhone or Find My Device, which can help locate and remotely lock or erase your device to prevent unauthorized access to your personal information.

9. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts:

Phishing remains one of the most common tactics used by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to personal accounts. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or phone calls that ask for personal information or prompt you to click on suspicious links. Remember, reputable organizations will never request sensitive information via email or direct messages. When in doubt, verify the source independently before responding or taking any action.

10. Backup Your Data:

Before you leave for your vacation, ensure that you have backed up all essential data from your devices. Use a secure cloud storage service or an external hard drive to create a copy of important files, photos, and documents. In case of a device theft or loss, having backups will help you recover your data and minimize the potential impact of such incidents.

As you embark on your trip, take the necessary steps to safeguard your digital presence and enjoy a worry-free trip. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way in protecting your digital footprint, ensuring your holiday memories remain safe and secure.

5 Gadgets to Safeguard Your Digital Footprint During Your Holiday

Virtual Private Network (VPN):

A VPN is an essential tool for protecting your online privacy. By encrypting your internet connection, it shields your data from potential hackers and surveillance. When connected to a VPN, all your online activities are routed through a secure server, making it difficult for anyone to intercept your sensitive information. Whether you’re using public Wi-Fi in a hotel or browsing the web from a café, a VPN will keep your digital footprint secure and your personal information safe from prying eyes.

Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot:

While using public Wi-Fi networks might be convenient, it also exposes you to potential risks. Hackers can intercept data on these networks, leaving your personal information vulnerable. Investing in a portable Wi-Fi hotspot allows you to create a secure and private connection wherever you go. By connecting your devices to your own hotspot, you eliminate the need to rely on potentially insecure public networks, ensuring the safety of your digital footprint.

RFID Blocking Wallet or Sleeve:

Protecting your physical belongings is important, but safeguarding your digital information is equally vital. RFID-blocking wallets or sleeves are designed to prevent unauthorized scanning of your credit cards and passports. These gadgets use special materials that create a Faraday cage, blocking the electromagnetic signals used by identity thieves to gain access to your sensitive information. By utilizing an RFID-blocking wallet or sleeve, you can prevent digital pickpocketing and protect your digital footprint while on the move.

Privacy Screen Protectors:

We’ve all experienced nosy individuals glancing at our screens while we’re traveling. To ensure your privacy, consider using privacy screen protectors. These filters limit the viewing angles of your device, making it difficult for others to see what you’re doing without being directly in front of the screen. Whether you’re reading sensitive emails or browsing personal documents, privacy screen protectors act as a physical barrier, keeping your digital footprint safe from prying eyes.

Webcam Covers:

Webcam hacking has become an increasing concern, with cybercriminals gaining unauthorized access to the cameras on our devices. Protect your privacy by using webcam covers. These small, adhesive gadgets can be easily attached to your laptop or smartphone camera, allowing you to physically cover it when not in use. By doing so, you can prevent unwanted surveillance and ensure your digital footprint remains secure, even when you’re unwinding in your hotel room.

Interrailing through Europe

in Features/Travel

You may have heard of ‘Interrailing’, the act of travelling through Europe using the extensive rail network with a train ticket known as an Interrailing pass. What you may not know is that Interrailing has been around for over fifty years. 

The first Interrail Passes were sold in March 1972 and started a revolution for affordable travel, with ‘Interrailing’ quickly picked up by young people as the tickets were limited to travellers aged 21 or under, allowing them buy a £27.50 ticket for unlimited travel across Europe by train for a full month. Interrailing for young people was a rite of passage and often the first big trip away from home without parents!   

The Interrail pass was dreamed up by the International Union of Railways (UIC), a body overseeing Europe’s railways at that time. Last year Interrail celebrated its 50th Anniversary and as more travellers are making the sustainable choice to travel by rail, moving away from short haul flights where possible, it is sure to carry on for another fifty years. 

For those of us that Interrailing passed by in our youth, never fear, you can buy an Interrail pass as it is now open to anyone, whatever your age, as age limits were dropped in 1998. Nowadays, there’s also a greater range of Interrailing options that you can choose from, based on the number of travel days and class of ticket.

There are now thirty-three countries currently serviced by Eurail: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Some of the trains in Europe require a reservation (a guaranteed or ‘reserved’ seat), meaning you need it to board the train. This includes high-speed and night trains and many trains in France, Italy, and Spain.

If want to explore just one country like Italy or France, then the one country pass is your best option, or if you’re looking for the true travel experience, then a Global Pass is the ticket for you as you can access up to 37 railway and ferry companies in 30 countries.

So where would you go on your Interrailing trip round Europe? How about the Balkans, visiting Croatia, Belgrade, Montenegro and Split, or maybe a journey through Scandinavia: Copenhagen; Denmark; Oslo and Bergen?

European Cities – Paris to Zürich

Night trains are a great way to journey through some of Europe’s major cities. Not only are they a comfortable way to travel, but you can go to sleep in one city and wake up in another. 


Start off in Paris, pass by the Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre (make sure you book ahead), say hello to the Mona Lisa and then take a stroll through the Tuileries Garden before heading down the Place de la Concorde. Walk across the Pont Neuf, one of the oldest bridges in the city spanning the River Seine, even though its name means ‘new bridge’.

There are two islands that sit in the middle of the Seine, the Île Saint-Louis and the Île de la Cité, both of which have some of the finest monuments in Paris. Île de la Cité, renowned as the birthplace of Paris, is where Sainte-Chapelle, a Royal chapel in the Gothic style with an amazing interior of golden Gothic arches and 1,113 stained glass windows, is situated. Unfortunately the Notre Dame Cathedral was destroyed by fire recently so you won’t be able to visit, but you can still admire the façade. Once you’ve had your fill of Paris, you can take the Thello night train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Venice Santa Lucia in a journey that will take just over fourteen hours.


There is plenty to see during one day in the ‘Floating City’. It goes without saying that you should visit St. Mark’s square, (Piazza San Marco) surrounded by restaurants, museums and shops. Visit the grand pink Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), and take a lift up to the top of the Campanile di San Marco, the large bell tower at the corner of the square, for some incredible views. Wander over the bridges and canals, maybe take a ride in a gondola, and then head back to the station. The ÖBB Nightjet will take you from Venice Santa Lucia to Vienna Centrale in just under eleven hours. 


Wake up in the beautiful ‘City of Music’. If you visit during the winter months of November and December you will be able to explore some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The city is home to some majestic buildings, including the famous Schönbrunn palace and St. Stephens Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Church in Vienna, where you can climb the north tower for an amazing view of Vienna’s skyline. Make your way over to the exciting art area near the Imperial Palace. The MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is one of the largest cultural quarters in the world featuring a group of classic and contemporary exhibition spaces joined together around a public piazza, and includes renowned museums such as the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Top off your stay in style with a night at the Vienna State Opera House, one of the most famous and fabulous opera houses in the world, and then board the ÖBB Nightjet and sleep tight from Vienna Centrale to Berlin Hbf which will take just over eleven hours. 


Berlin is a buzzing, modern city with a rich history. A must-see is Museum Island located in the city centre containing a unique ensemble of five museums. The entire complex is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The East Side Gallery is the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall and is where more than 100 artists from over 20 countries decorated this stretch of the hinterland wall with their art works in 1990.  Other key sites in the history of Berlin are Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate. 


The final destination on your Interrailing trip could be Zürich. The ÖBB Nightjet will take you from Berlin Hbf to Zürich HB in around twelve hours. Visit the charming and picturesque Old Town, take a leisurely boat trip on the River Limmat past some of the most beautiful sights of Zürich. Walk along the promenade for the best views of Lake Zürich and make sure you end your European Interrailing with a visit to the Lindt Home of Chocolate with the world’s highest free standing chocolate fountain and a chance for some delicious chocolate tasting. 

An Interrail Pass, ( can be used by European citizens. Non-European citizens can use a Eurail Pass instead, ( for the same price as an Interrail Pass. Reservations are required and can usually be booked several months in advance. 


in Features/Travel

When you think about cruises, what are your first thoughts? An exciting way to travel, waking up to a new horizon every day or simply enjoying everything that is on offer onboard?

Are you wondering if a cruise holiday is right for you? While there are all the obvious benefits that come from a nearly all-inclusive holiday with a pre-planned destination itinerary, there are also many hidden benefits of cruising that might surprise you.

Cruise holidays provide you with a time to relax, to unwind, and to sample new places. Typical cruise ship travel includes all meals, fabulous entertainment, enrichment lectures, spa, and health options, as well as transport and accommodation. 

When compared to a land holiday, cruising offers a variety of positive benefits:

These are just a few positive reasons to choose a cruise.

You can tailor your experience based on your budget, selecting specific accommodations, dining arrangements and even shore excursions. Most cruises already include dining, entertainment, and gratuities, offering options for even the most financially conscious traveller.

Additional expenses may include drinks, casino play, spa treatments, shore excursions and shopping.

For those looking to indulge in a more exclusive experience, many cruises offer additional premium dining choices, entertainment and even specially assigned spaces, such as spas, pools and restaurants.

For travellers who have decided on a week onboard, cruise ships will offer you a chance to experience a number of enticing destinations, across the globe. In one week. Love the Caribbean? Some ships sailing through the Caribbean will bring guests to four exciting ports of call, whereas a land based resort only offers the same destination each day.

A cruise experience offers you the opportunity to experience as much, or as little of the world as you wish. Cruises also offer the flexible pricing, allowing all travellers the chance to cruise within their own budgets.

Cruises can undoubtedly contribute to wellness, both physically and mentally.

In years past, taking a cruise equated to over indulging. This is now considered unappealing and more importantly, unhealthy. Many cruise ships come equipped with modern fitness centers, luxuriant spas and plenty of respites to soothe the soul as well as the body. On a cruise, your worries really do float away as you can delegate the responsibility for getting there to someone else while you focus on relaxing. 

If you are seeking a travel experience that is both educational and fun, a cruise is an inspiring choice. Travelling by boat provides a significant opportunity to learn about the world as you explore new cultures and people. 

A cruise ship is the perfect place to relax and unwind. The days are often filled with exploring new places, trying delicious food from across the globe, and getting to know other travellers from around the world.

Cruising is a holiday option that has quickly become one of the most popular choices for travellers. Cruisers enjoy the convenience of not having to worry about packing, unpacking, or arranging transport. They also love that they do not need to do extensive research because every detail is taken care of by the cruise line. 

This leaves the cruise traveller to embark, enjoy and immerse themselves in this unique travel experience.

Exploring three hidden gems of southern Spain

in Features/Travel

Southern Spain is a region blessed with stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and picturesque villages that seem to be frozen in time. Nestled amidst the rolling hills and sun-drenched countryside, three extraordinary villages stand out as captivating gems waiting to be discovered. 


Perched dramatically atop a rocky outcrop, Ronda casts a spell on visitors with its breathtaking views of the El Tajo gorge. The village boasts a rich history that dates back to Moorish times, evident in its magnificent Arab Baths and the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses adorned with colorful geraniums, and discover quaint squares and charming cafes. The Plaza de Toros, one of the oldest bullrings in Spain, offers a glimpse into the country’s traditional bullfighting culture. Ronda’s timeless beauty and captivating vistas make it an unforgettable destination.


Nestled in the heart of Andalusia, Frigiliana exudes a captivating allure with its well-preserved Moorish architecture and charming labyrinthine streets. The village’s whitewashed houses, adorned with vibrant flowers and ceramic tiles, create a kaleidoscope of colors that pleases the eye at every turn. Lose yourself in the cobblestone alleys, lined with small artisan shops and traditional eateries serving authentic Andalusian cuisine. The Church of San Antonio, with its ornate Mudéjar-style bell tower, is a must-visit landmark. Frigiliana’s peaceful atmosphere and timeless beauty have earned it the distinction of being one of Spain’s most beautiful villages.


Perched high in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Mijas captures the essence of traditional Andalusian charm. The village’s white-washed buildings adorned with vibrant bougainvillea create a striking contrast against the azure sky. Explore the maze-like streets and stumble upon hidden plazas and charming courtyards. Donkey taxis add a touch of whimsy, allowing visitors to experience a traditional mode of transport. Admire panoramic views from the Mirador de la Sierra, and visit the charming Church of the Immaculate Conception. Mijas’ idyllic setting, captivating vistas, and welcoming atmosphere make it an irresistible destination for those seeking the true essence of Andalusia.

Weird travel facts

in Features/Travel

The world’s longest commercial flight took around 30 hours

The longest commercial flight is the Singapore Airlines Singapore to New York route, with an average journey time of 17 hours and 50 minutes. But from 1943-45 Qantas ran the ‘Double Sunrise’ service which made 271 crossings in total from Australia to Sri Lanka which often lasted over 30 hours, enabling lucky passengers to see the sunrise twice.

Japanese railways hand out ‘certificates’ for delays of more than five minutes

Reputedly the most punctual in the world, Japanese trainsissue passengers with a ‘delay certificate’ if a train is running more than five minutes behind schedule. These documents are issued so that passengers can make arrangements with their company or hotel if they are late getting back from their trip and they act as an insurance policy against the possibility of a delay that would otherwise result in having to pay for a missed flight.

The UK has the world’s longest country name

The UK’s official title of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comes in at a total of 56 characters, which makes it the longest recognised country name in the world.

The Eiffel Tower was initially greatly disliked by the Parisian art community upon opening

The Eiffel Tower was not popular with all Parisians, some of whom thought the Eiffel Tower was so ugly that “only the Americans would want to build it”. The iconic tower was labelled as ‘monstrous’ and ‘ridiculous’ after it was unveiled to the world.

You’re never more than 30 steps away from a rubbish bin in Disneyland

The story goes that Walt Disney used to observe visitors in the park and see how many steps they took before littering, as a result a rubbish bin is never more than 30 steps away in any Disney park. 

Secret Speakeasy inside Disneyland California

Club 33 was built in the style of a speakeasy, with only a small ‘33’ address plate to mark its entrance. Disney created the secret venue in the otherwise ‘dry’ park, located in New Orleans Square, as an escape for celebrities, socialites, politicians, and high paying investors. Unfortunately, he passed away just five months prior to its opening and was never able to see it. Club 33 now runs as a private members club with an annual membership fee of $10,000. 

Sudan has more ancient pyramids than Egypt

Many people don’t realise that Sudan has nearly twice the number of pyramids than Egypt. Sources vary, but Sudan is claimed to be home to around 250 pyramid structures, built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms between 2500BC to 300AD, as opposed to the 118 pyramids in all of Egypt built during the ancient reign.

Hotel must Haves

in Features/Travel

Deciding on a hotel can be daunting and exhausting. These tips will help make the process easier so you can look forward to a fun holiday.

Choosing accommodation can be a daunting experience. There are endless factors to consider, including price, location, amenities, reviews, and the list goes on. The process of choosing a hotel is often so overwhelming for some travelers that they leave it up to their travel agent. But to guarantee a stay in a place that is right for you, all you need to do is a little research. You have to know what you want and then look for it.

Here are a few key areas we look for in hotels:


This is an absolute must. Hotels need to uphold the highest cleanliness standards, offering clean public spaces, bathrooms, bedrooms, and amenities. While it’s an important initiative, recycling must not give way to a lack of hygiene.

Tea and Coffee Tray:

To some, tea and coffee facilities in the room is not a particularly major issue – for many other hotel guests, it is an absolute essential part of their hotel stay.

Knowing when you return to your room you can make a cup of well deserved tea or use a coffee maker is very much part of the room experience. It is having the choice and certainly the convenience that makes it for many of us, non-negotiable.

Adequate safety/security: 

For many, a hotel functions as a home away from home. With that comes a significant expectation for the most diligent safety and security measures. Many hotels now focus on providing personalised safety and security measures for different guest profiles such as females, children, and individuals with certain mobility challenges. Technology plays an increasingly important role in providing better safety. Understandably, some guests still place more importance on a human interaction.


Guests at all types of hotels demand some level of Internet service. Business hotels especially are expected to offer the highest level of connectivity and flexibility. At many hotels, if not all, guests expect Internet access to be complimentary—for some, free WiFi is as necessary as any other basic but essential requirement.

Comfortable beds: 

At the end of the day, a hotel serves a fundamental need: It provides a place to rest your head. A bed needs to be of good quality, clean, well maintained, and practically designed. How it is positioned in the room to allow proper circulation, is also pivotal. Certain hotels take the liberty of being creative with the pillow and blanket choices, which is welcome, as long as the guest feels comfortable with what is being offered to them.

Bathroom plumbing: 

The reason this is described as plumbing as opposed to simply a good shower or hot water is because this concerns the entire bathroom. The desired temperature is of little use if the water is merely trickling down.  Poor water flow from the sink and toilet is a significant burden and inconvenience to a guest. All guests should expect clear, potable water; proper and continuous hot running water in the shower; flowing water in the sink and toilet; and no leaks.


This is a significant issue across a lot of hotels. Many do not offer adequate lighting in the hotel rooms, be it bathrooms to bedside lamps. It can cause frustration for a number of guests. Improved lighting serves to enhance the guests experience and provide a sense of serenity as well as feeling secure.


When entering a hotel and the hotel room, the smell of the property has a major impact on a traveller’s first impressions. Guests are often sensitive to newly created hotel signature scents or stale smells from carpets and bathrooms. Naturally, this can negatively influence the guest’s perception of the quality and cleanliness standards of a hotel.


Location should be one of the most important factors when choosing a hotel. Of course it is terrific if your hotel is inexpensive or if it has incredible amenities. However, the value of those priorities will diminish if the hotel is located a considerable distance from the main sights that you want to see. For many logical and practical reasons, location is undeniably important.

For example, If travelling to a tight schedule, commuting for extended periods of time is impractical. Whether you are travelling to a city centre or a particular landmark, feeling rushed in order to visit a particular location will negate any enjoyment you experience.

As well as wasting time, a traveller will also spend more money on transport so they can reach their destination faster. Sometimes, it is better to pay more for centrally located accommodation.

Another approach to picking a hotel is to read reviews. It allows you to get a sense of whether it is for you or not. It is best not to focus solely on the reviews and avoid looking at the hotel website altogether. Sometimes, hotels address issues that are pointed out in reviews, and this information should be available on the website. There’s also the chance that some reviews are biased, or simply written by people who have completely different expectations from what you would have.

If you have any particular questions, it never hurts to actually call the hotel directly and personally ask.

Ultimately, every traveller wants something different from their hotel. You might be looking for a resort complex with extensive entertainment choices or perhaps a quiet and relaxing retreat possibly a romantic room with a phenomenal view. The essential thing is to work out exactly what you want from your stay, and to find a hotel that meets your own demands.

It is always helpful to carry out research and pay attention to the reviews. The crucial point is to establish exactly what your own personal requirements are concerning hotel choices. Whatever your essential needs are, check they will be met so you can have every confidence in your hotel stay and have a wonderful time.

Work from Roam

in Features/Travel

Nowadays the office is no longer a destination, with many people working from home. A geographically dispersed workforce has given companies and employees greater flexibility and freedom.

Whilst this offers many benefits, including saving on travel costs, it can also lead to issues such as depression, loneliness and not feeling included in a workplace culture where employees feel disconnected from their fellow team members. This can be particularly difficult for younger people starting out on careers where office connectivity is crucial and research has shown that many younger employees feel less productive than their older colleagues while working from home.

However, there are benefits to be gained from working remotely and there are more people who now have the possibility to virtually work from anywhere in the world. This enables them to explore new countries, to meet new people and get inspired whilst fulfilling their work obligations. 

‘Work from roam’ is not a trend but it is fast becoming the new normal and has become a relatively easy thing to do. Why not set your laptop up in an idyllic setting, maybe in a room with a balcony overlooking the ocean? No longer will you be restricted by rigid office hours and stressful commutes. 

There are approximately 35 countries that now offer specialised visas to let foreigners live and work remotely within their borders, including Portugal and Spain. As a digital nomad you can choose to live in a foreign country based on the cost of living, internet speed and lifestyle as well as finding a community where you can make friends easily.

There are some things to consider before you head off to ‘work from roam’ though. The first thing is to talk to your employer and find out whether this kind of arrangement is going to work for them and you. Another big factor to take into account are time zones – are you willing to be available for team meetings during the night if you are on the opposite side of the world?

As the workplace culture evolves, and remote and hybrid work environments are becoming the norm, ‘work from roam’ is something to consider that could have a beneficial impact on your health and wellbeing.

A Guide to Geneva

in Features/Travel

Geneva was never a city that was high on my bucket list, especially when the first reaction that people have when you say you’re going there is ‘nice, but Switzerland is so expensive!’ If you live in the likes of Gibraltar or London, then the prices there won’t scare you much and there are always ‘hidden gems’ where you can get a cheap deal or at least value for your money. If you’re planning a trip to the swiss city, here are my recommendations on where to stay, what and where to eat and what to do in Geneva. 

Where to stay

Geneva is relatively small, meaning that as long as you get a hotel in the city centre you will be able to reach most points of interest by foot. We stayed at the Auteil Manotel Hotel, which was a few minutes walk from the main train station and about 5 minutes from the bus station.

The 4 star hotel cost around £160 a night during the spring season and my favourite thing about our stay had to be the bed and pillows. I felt like I was sleeping on a marshmallow! I also love hotels that do a bit extra for their guests (in the form of treats) so it was great to find a bar of swiss chocolate, some fruit and a bottle of red wine was left for us. Our room also had a big terrace facing the train tracks, which we thought might have been too noisy but to be honest with the door shut we didn’t hear anything. 

What and where to eat

I could just make this article about cheese and chocolate, but we actually did eat other things which I will share. One thing has to be said, we did not have a single bad meal in Geneva. The only thing I was disappointed with was my £8 oat shaken Starbucks latte (self-inflicted for spending that at a chain coffee place).

For breakfast, head to the Cottage Cafe nice and early and grab yourself one of their ‘open sandwiches’ and a coffee for under £10. It’s a very quaint little place and you get great views of the city and river behind you. If you want to splash out a bit more, I had a ‘Oui Monsieur’ at Birdie Cafe which was lovely and cheesy, but also cost me £16. 

For cheese lovers, I 100% recommend you make a reservation at Cafe du Soleil for their cheese fondue. This place was filled with tourists and locals, and if we wouldn’t have pre-booked we would have probably been waiting outside for a while. The menu says that the cheese fondue is priced at around £20 per person, but we thought surely it isn’t going to cost us £40 to eat melted cheese if there’s two of us. We asked the waiter if we could just order one portion and that was fine, and they still gave us 10 slices of bread and a pot of fondue to share. We also split a steak and chips and this was also delicious, this got dipped into the cheese too! 

Another place which is known for their cheese is Restaurant Les Armures. This is found in the old town and you will be able to try swiss cheeses like gruyère and raclette. 

If you fancy something a little different, then Masala House do really good indian food. You’ll find that Geneva is a melting pot of cultures, and as you walk down the streets you’ll see there is a bit of everything when it comes to cuisine!  

What to do 

Geneva hasn’t got a long list of landmarks to see, but some points of interest which you might want to mark on your Google Maps are: 

  • Jet D’Eau
  • Temple de Saint-Pierre
  • Jardin Anglais (English Garden)
  • Place du Bourg-de-Four
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Quai du Mont-Blanc

The main event of our trip to Geneva, was a 3 hour chocolate tasting tour with Local Flavours Tours. If you select the 2:30pm tour, then I suggest you just have breakfast and treat this tour as your lunch because you will end up very satisfied. 

This tour will take you through some of the best artisan chocolate shops in Geneva, and of course let you try a range of chocolate in all different forms. We had hot chocolate, truffles, unique flavour creations, ruby chocolate, a chocolate patisserie and then got to select some on our own. What’s great about this is not only is it an immersive way to learn about the history of chocolate in Switzerland, but it’s also a great way to get your bearings around the city with a walking tour! 

The tour is slightly on the pricier side at 98CHF (around £87) per person, but if you factor in all the chocolate you eat you’d probably be spending over half of that buying them individually at the shops.  

I know this article is titled ‘A Guide to Geneva’, but if you find yourself with time to spare then I really recommend catching a Flixbus to the French town of Annecy. The trip will only set you back 10 euros and you will get there in under an hour. If you haven’t heard of Annecy, just think Venice mixed with Beauty and the Beast! It really is one of the most picturesque places I’ve been to. Here you need to try a raclette baguette from La Fermette and try a tartiflette (a dish made of potatoes, cheese, bacon and everything delicious). You can find this dish on almost every menu in Annecy. 

I hope you have found this article useful, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to send me a message on one of my socials! 

OFT Travel Guidance and Awareness

in Features/Travel

Before Making Your Travel Plans:

Having the right knowledge is crucial for a rewarding travel experience. Consider the following tips to minimize disappointments:


Avoid booking the first option you come across. Take the time to compare different offers. Conduct independent research on your destination to determine your desired sights and experiences, ensuring that the travel offers align with your expectations. 

Seek recommendations from trusted family and friends regarding reliable travel agencies, vacation rentals, hotels, and travel package providers. 

Be cautious when relying solely on online reviews, as some can be fake.

Use the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website to access information about your destination, including entry requirements, travel restrictions, safety and security concerns, as well as available travel advice and support.

Additional Costs: 

Be mindful of any hidden costs that may not be immediately apparent, such as Resort Fees. 


Some offers may claim to be tax-free, but it’s important to inquire about any taxes that may be applicable at your destination. These taxes can sometimes be substantial.


Exercise caution to avoid common holiday scams:

• If a deal appears too good to be true, research the travel service provider by searching for keywords like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint” online.

• When booking through third-party websites like or Airbnb, always make payments through these platforms and never directly to the host.

Travel Documents: 

Familiarize yourself with the entry requirements of the country you plan to visit.

Check the official immigration or government website of the destination to verify whether your passport alone is sufficient or if additional actions are required prior to traveling. 

If you’re booking through a travel agent, they should be able to assist you with this information. 

If you’re booking a package holiday, the package organizer must provide you with the necessary information. 

Keep in mind that many countries require your passport to have at least six months validity remaining upon arrival.


If a visa is required for entry into a specific country, rely on the country’s official visa portal for accurate information. 

Beware of private entities that charge exorbitant fees to assist with visa applications. 

Allow ample time for the visa application process.

If you’re booking through a travel agent or a package holiday organizer, they should provide you with information and assistance regarding visa requirements


Before making any payments, inquire about the cancellation and refund policies. 

General Travel Tips:

Method of Payment: 

Using a credit card for bookings and travel expenses may offer additional protection compared to cash or debit cards. 

Travel Insurance: 

Purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. 


While enjoying your vacation, be wary of individuals who attempt to pressure you into making quick decisions without allowing time for consideration or seeking advice from others. Always negotiate and agree upon a price for services in advance to avoid any unexpected surprises.

Border control in EU Airports: 

Following Brexit, crossing the border at EU airports may now involve longer processing times. The previously available dedicated EU fast-track lanes, which facilitated expedited passport and customs clearance, are no longer accessible. 

Importation restrictions: 

When it comes to taking food products and medication abroad, it is important to always check the official website of the country’s Customs & Border Control for importation restrictions. 

Mobile roaming charges: 

Prior to your trip, ensure to consult your mobile network provider regarding any potential data roaming charges. 

Travelling with Pets: 

Before embarking on your journey, ascertain the vaccination requirements, necessary certificates, and/or passports for the country you intend to visit. 

Driving abroad: 

Verify that you possess all the essential documents required for driving in your destination country. It is advisable to check whether an International Driving License is necessary. 


Generally, consumers have a legal entitlement to receive a refund for travel arrangements that are cancelled by Tour Operators or Travel Agents.

Package Holidays: 

A trip or vacation is classified as a “package” when it involves the combination of two or more travel services, such as flights, accommodations, car rentals, or guided tours, and meets any of the following criteria

• the services are provided by a single trader; 

• they are purchased from a single point of sale; or

• they are offered, sold, or charged at an inclusive price.

Pursuing a refund: 

In the event that your package holiday is cancelled, you are entitled to receive a full refund within 14 days of the cancellation. 


If your flight is cancelled or delayed, you may be eligible for compensation depending on several factors. These factors include whether the flight originated from the UK or an EU country (including Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland), or if it was operated by a UK or EU airline for flights arriving in the UK or EU. Airlines have an obligation to provide passengers with options such as a refund, re-routing at the earliest convenience, or re-routing on a later date as per the passenger’s preference. For detailed information on potential compensation amounts, you can refer to the following websites:

• Air Travel | UKICC – The UK International Consumer Centre (; and

• Claim compensation if your flight’s delayed or cancelled – Citizens Advice.

Cancellations by consumers: 

If you decide to cancel your travel arrangements, it is important to note that obtaining a refund or seeking redress will be contingent upon the terms and conditions specified in your contract with the travel operator, as well as relevant legislation. However, exceptions may apply if you are unable to travel due to government-imposed public health measures or similar restrictions.

 What to do if things go wrong

 In the initial stage, make an effort to resolve any problems directly with the Travel Operator. If their response is unsatisfactory, you have several options available:

• If you are dealing with an airline, you can refer the matter to an ADR provider. 

• If the airline provider operates from Gibraltar, report the issue to the Director of  Civil Aviation at

• Submit a complaint to theOffice of Fair Trading. 

• Get in touch with your travel insurance provider.

• If applicable, consider a bank chargeback.

• Initiate civil proceedings against the responsible party.

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