First Time Visitors Guide to Thailand

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Where to go

Thailand has officially removed all of its restrictions for vaccinated tourists, so If you have been itching for a big trip this year, you’re in luck! The great thing about Thailand is that it suits every type of traveller. Whether you’re looking to go with your partner, with a group of friends, with your family or on your own, Thailand has something for everyone. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s my guide on where to consider going on your trip depending on your interests.  


This will no doubt be in your itinerary for the simple fact that it’s the easiest and cheapest airport in Thailand to fly into. People have mixed opinions about Bangkok, and personally I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 2-3 days there, but there are a lot of things to do in the area. Temperatures in Bangkok can soar, so I recommend starting your day early and then relaxing by the pool in the afternoon. If you plan on temple hopping, my top recommendations are The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Muang and Wat Arun. In the evening, head to Cielo rooftop bar for great food, cocktails and amazing views of the Bangkok skyline. To end the night, walk through Khaosan road which is very popular with backpackers. Just expect it to be loud and very crowded! 

Ko Samui

Ko Samui is the second largest island in Thailand, and is a popular choice for families as there are a lot of resorts in the area. Personally I don’t think it’s the nicest island, but we did have the best excursions from Ko Samui and we loved the night market in Chaweng. Who wouldn’t love a pad thai and dumplings for £3? During your time there I recommend a day trip to Mu Ko Ang Thong Park, where you’ll get the chance to snorkel, kayak and visit the blue lagoon. Other sites of interest are the Wat Plai Laem Temple, and the Overlap Stone.  Just make sure your Grab driver fills up the tank before heading up there! 

Koh Phangan

There is one primary reason why people go to Koh Phangan, and that’s for the monthly Full Moon Party. To get here you can get a 30 minute speedboat from Ko Samui, which I recommend buying in advance from 12go asia because the boats do fill up. My advice for the full moon party is not to go with the expectation that it is going to be great music and a sophisticated atmosphere. Buy yourself a famous bucket drink and try to make the most of the experience! In terms of dining, our hotel restaurant Sand & Tan is situated right on Haad Rin beach and has the best Pad Thai I have ever tasted. 

Koh Tao

Koh Tao is the best spot for adventurous travellers who want to have a go at scuba diving. There are plenty of diving schools scattered around the island, but if you would rather just snorkel at your own leisure then I recommend heading to Shark Bay, Freedom Beach or Sairee Beach. You will also find some great viewpoints in Koh Tao, my favourite being the John Suwan Viewpoint. 


Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and arguably the most famous. It is also the gateway to the Phi Phi islands, which was the filming location for The Beach, which Leonardo Dicaprio starred in. When in Phuket, explore the Sunday Walking Street Market for some cheap food and to purchase some buddhas and bracelets to bring back for your friends and family. When you’ve had enough of tanning on Pa Tong beach, you can climb a hill for 5 minutes to see the 45 metre tall White Buddha. 

Chiang Mai

Once you are done exploring the south, fly north to experience a different side of Thailand. Chiang Mai is a great place for street food, and one of the typical dishes in northern Thailand to try here is khao soi. It consists of either chicken or beef, in a coconut curry broth with boiled and fried noodles. Here is where you will also get the chance to visit an Elephant Sanctuary. We gave the elephants a mud bath, fed them tons of bananas and made medicine balls for them. The company we went with were called Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, who have a no riding policy. You could genuinely tell the elephants were happy here. From Chiang Mai you can also take a day trip to the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where you can visit the famous White Temple. 


From Chiang Mai, you can take a 3 hour minivan ride to the town of Pai for a real authentic Thai experience. Word of warning, I suggest taking an anti sickness tablet because there are more than 750 twists and turns to get there. You won’t need more than two nights in Pai but we loved the fact that you could walk everywhere, and it is also a great place to meet other travellers. Here you can visit the Pai canyon, try ‘tipsy tubing’ down the river, visit the hot springs and swim in the Pam Bok waterfall. Another traditional Thai dish you can try here is the Kaeng Hang Lei, which is a slightly spicy pork curry. 

Thailand is known as ‘The Land of Smiles’ for a reason, and you will find the locals to be so friendly and helpful. It’s definitely a place that I will visit again in the future, and if you have the time and annual leave, you can definitely see all these places in the space of a month! 

Volunteering Abroad

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Over recent years, an increasing amount of research into the mental-health benefits of volunteer work has emerged. 

Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where mental wellness and mental health are being so widely discussed, acts of doing good for others seem more important than ever – and the effects are felt in multiple ways. 

It has been said that doing good for someone else interrupts tension-producing patterns in the brain and replaces them with a sense of purpose, positive emotion and higher confidence levels, and that people who volunteer feel a greater sense of satisfaction with their lives and consider their health generally better than those who do not.

You can build long lasting meaningful friendships:

A volunteer holiday is a fabulous way to meet people, especially if you’re traveling solo, as you will usually be a part of a larger group during activities on the projects. The uniqueness of the experiences can help you foster lasting and meaningful friendships with fellow volunteers from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds, and it’s an opportunity to learn about different cultures from all over the world. However, volunteer vacations are not just for the singletons – couples and families are welcome too (and most voluntourism organisations will offer options for group bookings.

Volunteering abroad together is a great way to strengthen relationships and spend quality time working together with those close to you.

You can enjoy an incredible experience for less money:

Volunteer vacations are often more inexpensive than your usual tourist package. Sharing accommodation with other volunteers (often fully catered) is much cheaper than spending your time in hotels in popular tourist areas and eating out at restaurants every night. However, bear in mind that accommodations can differ, so a volunteer needs to be realistic – you can’t always expect 5-star luxury when working in a rural location.

Another advantage of volunteering is that people you know may be willing to sponsor your trip, as it will be for a good cause. Using crowdfunding platforms, you could fundraise up to 100 percent of your travel costs and volunteering fees, while raising awareness of the projects and causes you are supporting in the process.

Therése Forssell is the Global Head of PR, communications & Events at Star Stable.

Therése previously taught in China and found the experience rewarding and inspiring. She explains ‘I received a scholarship from SIDA to study in China. There I met amazing people who took me to the old village Beichuan, that in 2008 had a horrible earthquake where many people died and many children lost their parents. The city was moved/ rebuilt in another area and the Beichuan village was kept as it was, so when I went there, I knew I had to help. I got involved with a few of the orphans in the new village. While I was there, I played with the kids, taught them English,  and supported in any way I could.

I have gained a lot from this experience. Never take life, family and friends for granted. I have learnt how much just a shoulder to cry on and good role models means to a small child. Back then I didn’t have kids of my own, so it has been a powerful journey to see how much impact my small actions had on these children’s lives.

The language barrier was the biggest challenge but it is amazing how easy it is to overcome this with kids; they always find ways to communicate.’

Tips for starting volunteering:

• First, ask yourself if there is something specific you want to gain from the experience.

• Meet people who are different from me

• Try something new

• Spend my spare time in other ways

• Experience a different way of life and new places

• Attempt the type of work I might want to do as a job

• Expand my interests and hobbies

• Use what I excel in to make a difference 

The best way to volunteer is to match your personality and interests. Having answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search.

You can assist individuals in empowering themselves:

Adding to the self-empowerment of people can make your time abroad more meaningful.

You can volunteer on a community development program that works towards the self-empowerment of local people. 

This may include contributing to public health awareness in communities, assisting people to learn English to up their employability, or you could run workshops with women to assist in the development of their professional skills and help increase their job prospects. 

Volunteering abroad with a responsible volunteer organisation like GVI allows you to travel with a purpose. It makes it possible for you to reduce your social and ecological footprint by taking part in activities that are both ethical and sustainable.

Before deciding on a program, ask yourself the following questions:

How will it benefit the local community?

Does the organisation respect the local culture?

What is the reason behind your volunteering trip?

What challenge will the end product assist in addressing?

Experiencing life goes beyond watching and wondering – it is about engaging, adventuring, and exploring. It is about all the people you meet and the memories you make along the way. From rewarding moments on project sites to weekends exploring with fellow volunteers, volunteering is an incredible way to experience life in its fullness. 

It is emotionally and physically satisfying to step out of our comfort zone and see what life has to offer whilst helping other individuals and communities.

Therése Forssell:

Trip Out – Best travel Accessories of 2022

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As the world slowly starts to open back up and Covid-related travel restrictions ease, you may find yourself planning to travel for the first time in a good, long while. Maybe you’ve already booked the trip you’ve been dreaming about. Or maybe work has you back on the road. Whatever the reason, constantly changing pandemic rules and regulations can make traveling more stressful than it used to be. The best travel accessories (along with some patience) can help even things out, saving you time, space, and money. That way, you can enjoy the journey, no matter how near or far you’re headed.

  1. Anker powercore charger

Anker’s vast catalog of gadgets spans from projectors to magnetic charging stations to practically everything in between, but its PowerCore Portable Charger speaks for itself, your phone, and a couple of other devices too. It boasts a 26800mAh battery that can practically endure an entire vacation without dying, and even comes equipped with an additional pair of charging ports that are sure to assist anyone accompanying you on your trip.

2. Epicka travel adaptor 

When you travel, one of the first things you should put in your bag is an adapter as there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination and realizing you can’t charge any of your devices. While you can buy cheap adapters for specific countries, we recommend going for a universal adapter so you’re never caught short of the right connector. Epicka’s universal travel adapter contains the prongs required for over 150 countries and multiple USB connection points.

3. Evo shaver

Simply the world’s smallest travel shaver. Ever. 

If you are someone who wants to have a clean face every day, Evo Shaver is what you need when you have traveled out for an interview, meeting, or whatever. Evo Shaver is only the size of an egg and you can easily put it wherever you want, such as in the car, in your backpack, or even in the pocket of your jeans or shorts. It can continuously run for 35 mins on one single full charge. Each shave only takes about 1.5-2 mins, meeting your need to shave at least 20 times which is ideal for long-term travel.

4. Epple airtag

AirTag is an easy way to keep track of your stuff. Attach one to your keys, and slip another one in your backpack and put one in your luggage. And just like that, they’re on your radar in the Find My app. If you are a Samsung user, Samsung Galaxy SmartTag is what you need.

5. Wacaco minipresso portable espresso machine

Are you the ones who start the day with coffee? Never drink a bad cup of coffee again with the Wacaco Minipresso. It is the perfect portable espresso machine for travellers, allowing you to sample varieties of coffee on your trip or take your own coffee with you wherever you go. Simply fill with ground coffee and hot water, press, pour and enjoy. This ‘must have’ comes as a Nespresso capsules version or a ground coffee version. You will need hot water. coffee and zero batteries for a perfect cup. Okay, it’s bit of a luxury pick but life is too short to start the day with bad coffee. 

6. Sabre Wedge Travel Door Alarm

Travelling alone or just wanted added peace of mind in your accommodation? Simple and reliable the Sabre Wedge Door Security System is one of the most affordable and best-performing travel security systems. This little wedge is not only an alarm but serves as break-in prevention. The wedge is placed beneath the door, so that when a burglar tries to open the door, he not only triggers the 120 dB alarm but digs the thing further into the ground, disallowing him to open the door. The product features a special non-skid pad that won’t allow the wedge to move. It uses 1.9 V batteries, and it features an audible sound that will warn you when the battery is low.

7. Grayl water purifier bottle

Most of the travelers’ health problems are caused by contaminated drinking water, which means a water purification system is a must when traveling abroad. This is especially useful when venturing into remote locations with harsh environmental conditions or destinations such as the Middle East, Central America, Asia, or Africa, which are also known for their unsafe tap water. Fortunately, these days there are many products designed to help in such circumstances.

GRAYL’s Ultralight Purifier, for instance, is a state-of-the-art device capable of transforming almost any tap or clear natural water source into pure drinking water in just 15 seconds. Perfect for travellers and outdoor adventurers, each bottle comes equipped with a replaceable purifier cartridge, providing protection against viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, as well as many chemicals. This is an excellent way to get safe drinking water on the go, while at the same time, saving money on bottled water.

8. Inflatable bottle bags. 

You could view this as a item that seems a bit random… until you open your case and find that bottle of Felton Road Pinot you were bring back from NZ has recoloured everything in your case a lovely shade of red. This versatile roll-up travel bag suspends items in an inflatable air cushion to protect your bottles such as wine and olive oil. No more nasty surprises and messy spills when you open your suitcase. Simple, easy and brilliant. We like the Vinni Brand. 

9. TRTL adjustable travel pillow

I have a hatred of travel pillows. They are big, bulky, never really give a good nights sleep and I always end up buying a new one in duty free 5 minute before boarding. The might now be a thing of the past thanks to Trlt. With over 20,000 reviews on Amazon, the Trtl Pillow has been widely acclaimed as one of the most effective travel sleep gadgets in recent years. In independent tests by the Institute of Motion Analysis and Research at the University of Dundee,  Trtl pillow was scientifically proven to hold the head in a better ergonomic position than a traditional memory foam u-shaped travel pillow. It’s designed to be very easy to wear and takes just seconds to put on. Just choose the side of your head that you want to support, wrap the pillow around your neck, and secure it with the help of the velcro fastener. The patented design fits any neck shape, jaw and shoulder. Designed specifically with travellers in mind, Trtl is compact and easy to carry, measuring only half the size of a U-shaped travel pillow and lightweight. You can attach it to the outside of your luggage or the handle of your backpack. It’s also lightweight, weighing less than 200g, so you won’t have to worry about it adding to your luggage allowance. 

10. Macally car headrest tablet holder. 

One of the top road trip gadgets has to be a Headrest Tablet Holder. Perfect for keeping the kids entertained in the backseat on a long drive, this particular model can be used with phones, tablets and even game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch. The key thing about the Macally is that it puts one tablet between the front seats and in the view all the eyes in the back. Keep the children occupied and save yourself from too many ‘are we nearly there yet’ questions!

Falling in love with Vietnam

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There’s a good reason why Vietnam is often ranked among the ten friendliest countries in the world and that’s because of the Vietnamese people who are famed for their hospitality and friendliness towards foreign visitors.


Our first stop was Hanoi, where we were picked up from the airport by the hotel shuttle, and the journey through the city to the Old Quarter introduced us to the madness of the traffic. Lanes were crammed with scooters, bikes, cycle rickshaws, cars and hawkers perilously weaving in and out of each other’s way. Our senses were overloaded with noise and the experience was overwhelming but as soon as we reached the hotel we felt as if we were in a tranquil haven of peace and calm.

We decided to go for a walk to acquaint ourselves with the area, but soon realised that we had to have our wits about us as we tried to cross the street and dodge the traffic.  The best advice I was given by a passing local was to step out into the road and to keep walking, “the traffic will go around you” he said. 

Although the old section of Hanoi is often called the “36 Old Streets,” there are now more than 70. As we wandered through the noisy, busy streets we were bombarded by the smells, sights and sounds that surrounded us. We had to constantly sidestep motorbikes parked on the pavements as well as the merchandise overflowing from the shops out into the street. To escape the hustle and bustle we took a taxi to the Women’s Museum located near Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi. Maybe not at the top of my list for a cultural visit but the museum showcases the roles of women in Vietnamese society and culture and we came away with a new respect for the women who have played a crucial part in Vietnam’s wars and also for the obstacles they overcame as society changed and we saw some interesting exhibits about marriage rituals.

One of the best things that we did was to go on a food walking tour with Pheung, a guide recommended to us by a friend. Pheung picked us up at our hotel and took us to the best local secret spots that we would never have found by ourselves. She explained the different types of food and customs and we stopped at stalls along the way to sample different fruits including persimmon, rambutan, betel nut and the herb perilla. Pheung gave us a masterclass in Vietnamese spices before taking us to a café frequented by locals where we sat on tiny plastic chairs & tables and ate Bun Cha – made up of rice noodles (bun), pork patties (cha), and thinly sliced fatty pork shoulder – and it was delicious. After several more food stops Pheung took us to the Temple of Literature where she explained the history of the site of Vietnam’s first university dedicated to the philosopher Confucius. Built in 1070, the temple has five attractive courtyards and has fortunately retained most of its original architectural style and character despite damage through the wars. 

Our journey back to the hotel took us through the wide boulevards of the French Quarter where Pheung pointed out the distinctive French colonial architecture. Most of the villas in the Ba Dinh district are either embassies or belong to the government. Other notable buildings in the French Colonial architectural style include the Hanoi Opera House and the National Museum of History. Pheung spoke perfect English and explained how she lived and slept in one room with her husband, young daughter and her in-laws and told us that in general, most Vietnamese people hold no grudge against Americans or westerners despite the wars and conflicts they suffered and that they are in fact a peace loving nation. 

Rooftop bars are often the best place to unwind with a cocktail after a day of sightseeing and Hanoi has numerous rooftop bars that offer incredible panoramic views of the city’s skyline. We chose the Rooftop Bar at Pacific Place on the 19th floor overlooking the red painted wooden Huc Bridge on the lake leading to Jade Island and the Ngoc Son Temple. 

Halong Bay 

A trip to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the north of the country dotted with 2,000 limestone islands and islets. It was a three and a half hour coach ride from our hotel, with a stop off at one of the many craft workshops along the way, before we arrived to pick up a buggy that took us to a fender for our cruise on the magnificent Red Dragon junk, a three masted ship that tours the bays. There are longer options, but we were happy that our overnight trip gave us enough time to experience the beauty of the area, a favourite of Hollywood producers who featured it in many of their movies. 

Our cabin was luxurious and there is nothing more decadent than sitting in a large corner bath with a glass of bubbly as you look out of the window on to extraordinary rock formations that seem to erupt skywards from the emerald waters in a vision of ethereal beauty, and if that sounds over the top, just wait until you try it! We sailed for a couple of hours, enjoyed a seven course lunch before anchoring and then I joined a tour in the tender for an excursion to a floating fishing village, whilst my other half went kayaking. The food was spectacular and we were given the opportunity to join a cooking class with the on board chef. Unusually, I made the point of getting up at 6.45 am to join a Tai Chi class before our final trip to explore one of the magnificent caves and grottos full of impressive stalagmites and stalactites.

Back to Hanoi and a lunch stop off on the way to see a Water Puppet show, performed inside a rice paddy with a pagoda built on top to hide the puppeteers who stand in the waist-deep water, but it was the detour through the paddy fields that was an eye-opener to those of us who naively didn’t realise that there are two ways to grow rice – wet-rice is grown in flooded fields rather than on dry hillsides – and that the rice plant grows to a height of three to four feet.

Ho Chi Minh

A little word of warning here… don’t take a rickshaw ride from the airport to your hotel. Apart from the fact that we feared for our lives as the two rickshaws (piled high with our luggage on our knees) weaved in and out of the motorbikes and cars, unfortunately the agreed price quadrupled when we got to our destination and we had to call for help from the hotel staff who threatened to call the police on our drivers. 

We chose to take a luxury speedboat to the Cu Chi Tunnels, leaving behind us the high rise buildings and speeding down the Saigon River through the floating water hyacinths passing villages, plantations and green rubber forests on each bank. The tunnels are vast underground mazes that played a huge part in the Vietnam War and our guide was full of knowledge and history about how they were first built during the French occupation and then extended during the Vietnam War. At one point they stretched 250km all the way from Saigon to Cambodia and during the war they were used by the Viet Cong to elude and attack South Vietnamese and American forces. There was an opportunity to enter a small opening down into the narrow tunnels which I declined, but my husband took up the offer and even though he is not big in any way, the heat, darkness, humidity and claustrophobia were too much and suffice it to say he did not enjoy the experience. 

Back in the city and a trip The War Remnants Museum, once called the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, is a must if you want to learn and understand more about the history of the country. There is a large amount of military hardware and exhibits including a French guillotine and “tiger cages” for Vietcong prisoners-of-war, but be warned, it is a difficult experience, especially when looking at some of the graphic  images taken by war correspondents. Our final stop was the Reunification Palace built during the American Vietnamese War for the president of South Vietnam which is still in use for official functions. The Palace is like a time capsule from the 1970’s set over five levels. The basement houses tunnels, a war room and a telecommunications centre. On the third floor there is a card-playing room and on the fourth what else but a casino.   

There is no doubt that I have fallen in love with Vietnam, a fascinating country that is full of surprises, and will return in the future to learn more about its gripping history and rich culture and to wonder at the striking landscapes from its golden coastlines to its huge national parks, mega-cities and historical temples and ruin – and, of course, its friendly inhabitants. 

Travel Scams

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You’ve decided to take that long awaited break and book a holiday, and as you browse through the internet looking at destinations and places to stay, you’re already dreaming of blue skies, sandy beaches and making a list of the top tourist attractions… but beware, you just might have hit on a scam travel booking site. 

There is no doubt that the internet has made booking flights and hotels easier than ever and many of us prefer to plan our own trip as opposed to using a trusted travel agent. However, as fast as these helpful sites appear, scams follow behind and it can be hard to know which sources to trust and which to avoid. 

There are some signs that give away whether a site is legitimate or not and once you know these you can steer clear. 

Signs of potential scams

Never click on links that you’re not expecting. These include fake emails, websites, texts, and social media posts. 

Claims that your account has been suspended or breached.

Requests for you to reset your password or pay a fine.

No security certificate on their website – the little padlock icon at the beginning of the URL address.

Only non-secure payment options (Bitcoin, bank transfer, etc.) and no option to pay with debit/credit cards.

Odd letters/characters/symbols in place of other letters (like “ç” instead of “c”) in the website text.

How to Protect Yourself

Use trusted sites, and always check the website URL to make sure it hasn’t been altered.

Always pay by credit or debit card, it gives you extra protection as a consumer.

Use a password that is different to those used on other platforms and email accounts.

Don’t give a security pin to anyone and only submit the security pin through the website or app.

Check reviews. This is not a failsafe way to ensure a site is legitimate, as the reviews may be part of the scam especially if they are all positive!

Never give out your details

If you get an email saying that you’ve won a luxury holiday and that to collect your prize you need to give your bank account details to the caller for an administration fee. Don’t! It’s a scam.

Be wary of travel clubs, holiday clubs and time share websites offering holiday discounts or shares in fictitious villas. 

The main thing is to be aware of these scams when planning your holiday and if you do your research correctly you should easily be able to spot fake sites and be able to confidently book the next holiday. 


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With the world opening up for travel again following the Covid pandemic, people are beginning to make plans for holidays and business trips alike. Having travel insurance for your trip will give you peace of mind to enjoy your time away with family, friends or colleagues.

What is Travel Insurance? A Travel Insurance policy is not a medical insurance policy, it offers wider bespoke insurance cover for your “Trip” whether that is on long lazy holiday or a business trip and for which you are away from your Country of residence. The trip must begin and end in your Country of Residence unless you have booked a one-way trip.

What does it cover you for? A Travel Insurance policy will provide you and any insured travelled under the policy with benefits of cover from when you book your trip, before you leave home and during your trip.

What do you do on your holiday? Do you like to jump on jet ski, do watersports or horse-riding? Always ensure your Travel Insurance policy will cover you for whatever activities you like to partake in whilst you are away. 

Under the standard policy cover some activities are not included and you may need to take out additional cover for these types of activities.  A Winter Sports Package for example is required to cover you for skiing as this in not included as a sport under standard policy cover.  

It is important that you check the sporting activity cover under your policy and always ensure that you adhere to wearing the safety equipment provided, otherwise you may not be covered. 

Depending on whether a Single Trip policy or an Annual Multi-Trip policy, there will be an element of cover under the cancellation section if you are unable to go on your Trip, then once you have left your Country of Residence the other covers/benefits come into force. A standard travel insurance policy will cover you for: 

• Cancellation – if you unable to take your booked trip

• Curtailment – should you need to return home and cut your trip short for an emergency 

• Emergency Medical Expenses – should you fall ill whilst on your trip 

• Hospital Benefit – if you have to be admitted to hospital whilst on your trip 

• Repatriation – To return to your country of residence if required 

• Travel Delay – if you are delayed for more than 12 hours 

• Missed Departure – missed internal and/or UK connections 

• Lost Baggage – For when your cases don’t arrive 

• Delayed Baggage – For when your cases don’t arrive in time and you need clothes

• Lost Passport Cover – Should you lose your passport abroad 

• Loss of Personal Effects – Valuables and sun glasses 

• Hijack & Mugging 

• Legal Expenses cover 

In addition to the standard covers you can normally include additional covers to make your insurance cover tailor made for your trip.

• Winter Sports Cover – to cover your skiing trips 

• Golf Cover – for those golfing only holidays and the Hole-in One at the Club bar

• Business Cover – for when you need to travel specifically on business with documents and samples

• Cruise Plus Cover – extended to include cabin confinement and missed ports 

• Enhanced Missed Departure Cover – extended missed departure cover 

• Gadget cover – for mobile phones and tablets 

• Sports Equipment & Cycle cover – for diving equipment for example and mountain/road bikes you take on your holiday 

Pre-existing Medical Conditions, should you have them covered?  On a normal Travel Insurance policy, you can normally opt to include cover for your pre-existing medical conditions and depending on the nature of these medical conditions, an additional premium may be required to include them and any linked condition. 

With Travel Insurance you cannot “cherry pick” which pre-existing condition you may wish to declare, it is an all or nothing basis and each person declaring a medical condition will go through a medical screening question set to ensure they are fully covered for that condition, and any linked condition whilst they are away.  

The peace of mind knowing that your current medical conditions are covered priceless. As having emergency medical treatment away from your home country can be a traumatic and very costly experience if you do not have the right Travel Insurance cover.  A medical bill in the USA for treatment including hospitalisation can reach into thousands of dollars. 

As with any insurance policy it is important to check the policy wording in full to ensure you meet all the requirements based on your Country of Residence including Covid-19 vaccines and boosters and that you understand the policy conditions. 

Scotland Events 2022

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Highland Games 

Throughout summer 2022

After a two-year absence, the ever-popular Highland Games return in summer 2022. Visitors and locals can experience a sense of community, heritage and celebration like no other, set against the backdrop of a gripping sporting spectacle of champions! At Highland Games across the country, attendees can marvel at the champions’ feats of strength and have a chat with the locals over a delicious plate of mince and tatties. July events kick off with Luss Highland Games on 2 July 2022.

HebCelt Festival

13 – 16 July 2022

HebCelt passionately protects and promotes its heritage, including the vibrant Gaelic and traditional music that is both part of its history and its contemporary life. It mixes the best local talent with leading Scottish, UK and world artists and brings together household names and emerging talent to provide a feast of music to appeal to all ages. This internationally renowned event has a unique setting in the Scottish Hebridean island of Lewis, the heartland of Gaelic language and culture.

Dundee Summer (Bash) Streets Festival 2022

14 – 24 July 2022

Dundee Summer (Bash) Street Festival will leave no-one in doubt that Dundee is the home of comics, celebrating the characters, stories, history and upcoming talent. Featuring a pop-up comic museum, workshops, talks, film screenings, street fun, marble runs and world record attempts, this festival is free and perfect for all ages!

Edinburgh Festival Carnival Carnival Stories

17 July 2022

A free, family music and dance event with a festive flavour, the Edinburgh Festival Carnival takes place on the opening weekend of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival each year, where attendees can expect colour, spectacle, sounds and electric atmosphere. To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, Edinburgh Festival Carnival is also presenting four new performances that explore the cultural heritage and migration stories of their community partners.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 

15 – 24 July 2022, Edinburgh 

Visitors are invited to experience exhilarating music and a spine-tingling atmosphere from both international and Scottish Jazz and Blues musicians.   

Edinburgh Art Festival

28 July – 28 August 2022, Edinburgh 

Edinburgh Art Festival, the newest addition to Edinburgh’s summer festival line-up, brings together over 40 galleries, pop-up spaces and museums presenting the most captivating pieces of visual art.


For context, in 2022, the capital will once more come alive with vibrant colours, shows and events for all ages, and with next year marking the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, it promises to be a very special year.

Fringe by the Sea

5 – 14th August 2022

Fringe by the Sea returns to the East Lothian town of North Berwick, a gorgeous seaside town, in August for ten days of music, literature, film, comedy, and film for all the family, with a mixture of both ticketed and free events. More information expected in June: Fringe by the Sea – 5-14 August 2022 | North Berwick 

Edinburgh International Book Festival 

13 – 29 August 2022, Edinburgh 

Held in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh International Book Festival is the largest celebration of its kind in the world. Enjoyable for all ages, visitors can take part in creative workshops, meet famous authors and attend panel discussions.  

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 

5 – 29 August 2022, Edinburgh 

Born from a belief that every story should be heard and celebrated, Edinburgh Fringe Festival is now the world’s largest arts festival, where visitors can watch a wide range of performances including theatre, comedy, dance, cabaret, opera, spoken word and more. And with an open access policy, anyone with a story to tell and a venue to host them can put on a show.  

Edinburgh International Festival 

6 – 28 August 2022, Edinburgh 

The Edinburgh International Festival was the original Edinburgh Festival, dating back to 1947, celebrating the performing arts with dance, music, opera and theatre from around the world. It brings ground-breaking art, unique collaborations, world premieres, unexpected takes on classic works, and more to captivate and entertain global audiences, all in one place here in Scotland. 

Edinburgh International Film Festival 

12 – 20 August, Edinburgh 

Edinburgh International Film Festival is where the very best of international cinema can be discovered. Film fans can be part of the buzz and meet both local and international stars as they make their way down the red carpet. Exploring new ideas and experimental cinema, as well as documentaries, world premieres and shorts, the Festival offers theatrical delights for all on the world’s greatest stage.   

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo  

5 – 27 August 2022, Edinburgh 

Returning to its iconic home on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle for the first time since 2019, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is back with a bang for 2022. With acts from Switzerland, Mexico, USA and New Zealand, this years’ “Voices” show will guarantee to have everyone out of their seats!

Nairn Book and Arts Festival

27 August – 4 September 2022

A range of musical, literary and artistic events with a fringe drawing on the talents of the local creative community. Nairn Book and Arts Festival is the annual celebration of literature, art, music, drama and film in the Scottish Highlands. Staged in the historic seaside town of Nairn on the beautiful Moray firth, each year the festival presents a unique and innovative programme of events.


Scottish Geology Festival

1 September – 9 October 2022

The Scottish Geology Festival 2022 will tell the stories of Scotland’s rocks and landscapes through a programme of activities during September and October, ranging from coastal walks and fossil hunting, to online and in-person talks. Explore extinct volcanoes in Edinburgh and the UNESCO Global Geopark in the North West Highlands and encounter evidence of ancient tropical seas and coral reefs in Fife, and learn how the ice age helped shaped Scotland’s incredible landforms.

Dandelion Festival 

2 – 4 September 2022

Dandelion is a creative celebration of growing, music and community – rooted in Scotland but with an international outlook.

The final Dandelion Festival takes place in Inverness, where venues across the city will be transformed with live music, interactive walkabout theatre, science and creative activities for all the family as part of a unique festival that dares to reimagine our relationship with food and the planet. Musicians will perform on the Pavilion of Perpetual Light, a spectacular 10-metre vertical farm and concert platform made from dozens of Cubes of Perpetual Light, and the intimate, in-the-round Orchard Stage.


Golden Spurtle’s Annual World Porridge Making Championships

8 October 2022

Nothing says Scotland more than porridge. The World Porridge Making Championship occurs annually in the Scottish highland village of Carrbridge, drawing competitors from across the globe to compete making our favourite oaty dish!

St Andrews Voices

13 – 17 October 2022

An eclectic and inclusive programme has been unveiled for St Andrews Voices, Scotland’s singing festival, bringing a breadth of vocal and choral music to the Fife town this October. The festival will showcase performances across a variety of genres – from classical and folk to jazz and world music – as it marks a welcome return to live performance post-lockdown.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival 

14 – 30 October 2022

Humans are bound together by stories and songs, especially through tough times. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival invites attendees to explore Scotland’s stories through a series of online and live events, and celebrate stories from across the world.

Tales from the Castle, Stirling

21 – 22 October 2022

Join Stirling Castle after hours for a brand-new storytelling event, which takes guests on a trail through ancient archways, rich courtyards and glorious halls to unlock iconic tales and hidden truths in the wake of sunset. Encounter characters from the castle’s past and view dramatic projections bringing the castle walls to life.

Orkney Storytelling Festival

27 – 30 October 2022

Taking place in locations across Orkney, The Orkney Storytelling Festival aims to capture folk tales and promote their retelling through oral storytelling. The festival also supports new forms of storytelling, keeping alive the oral tradition in a modern world. Join local and internationally renowned storytellers for a long weekend of storytelling.

Undiscovered Greece

in Features

10 Hidden Islands

1: Nisyros

Imposing lava formations, wild beaches, natural hot springs, and an active volcano make up Nisyros, one of Greece’s best-kept secrets (and worth the journey into the middle of the Aegean). Nisyros’ dramatic landscape, Spanish gray stone footpaths, and volcanic craters look like something off a movie set. Explore on foot, enjoy some homemade soumada, and tak it all in. With very few tourists travelling this far into the Greek Archipelago you are likely to have it to yourself!

2. Amorgos

Renowned for its unspoiled nature, there are more than 600 different plant species on Amorgos, many of which are used in the local dishes. Some eateries have their own organic gardens for truly farm-to-table dining experiences. Situated at the eastern edge of the Cyclades near the Dodecanese, its diverse terrain includes everything from mountains and caves to rocky shoreline and hidden coves with crystalline azure waters for swimming, snorkeling, diving and other water sports. While it’s wonderfully uncommercialized, there’s no shortage of things to do, albeit in a more laid-back atmosphere with a timeless feel. Explore the Chora, considered one of the prettiest main towns in the Greek isles, discovering lovely churches, a very impressive monastery and all sorts of ancient relics.

3. Kastellorizo

The one you’ve nerver heard of. Well, it is one of the smallest Greek islands boasting of the bluest and clearest waters! Far-flung Kastellorizo is a microcosm of everything that’s great about Greece: the bluest, clearest waters, the prettiest pastel houses and gorgeous little tavernas serving fresh food by the water’s edge. It’s also the smallest of Greece’s inhabited islands (just 2 miles across), the furthest from Athens, and has just one village – and no cars save the odd taxi. Perfect. 

4. Kea

This island has somehow managed to remain a local’s best-kept secret, despite being only an hour from Athens by ferry. It’s accessed from Lavrio rather than more well-known Piraeus Port, which makes it largely ignored by tourists. It has a seductive feel so when visitors do discover it, they tend to return again and again. It’s the delicious local cuisine, opportunities to hike ancient restored mule tracks to remote beaches and ancient ruins, including temples dedicated to Apollo and Athena, along with plenty of opportunities for outstanding snorkeling and diving that bring so many back.

5. Thirassia

Thirassia is often referred to as Santorini as it was a half-century ago. While it’s less than a mile from romantic Oia village, here, time seems to have stopped in another era. In the 3rd-century BC, a volcanic eruption destroyed the land bridge that linked the two islands, and it’s remained primarily as it was, never developing into a popular tourist destination. It’s big on natural scenery but far from the crowds of its neighbor. Immerse yourself in the authentic traditional colors of the charming settlements – there are only three here, complete with whitewashed houses, pretty churches and historic windmills. 

6. Chryssi (Gaidouronissi)

A tiny speck of an island minutes off the shores of Southern Crete in the Libyan Sea, Chryssi means “gold” in Greek and is a mini paradise complete with tropic-style waters, windswept sand dunes, and a protected juniper bush forest. Also known as “Gaidouronissi,” Chryssi is easy to explore thanks to its size—three whole miles! This uninhabited Greek island is known for its Minoan ruins from 1800 BC, its Roman cemetery, its old lighthouse and salt pan, a 13th century chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and its crystal-clear waters. The island has shallow and safe waters and it attracts anyone who loves snorkeling and diving. 

7. Tilos

Home to the last Dwarf Elephants some 4,000 years ago, this tiny island in the Dodecanese is a must for nature lovers, geology buffs, and hikers, not to mention if you’re into fossils. stunning mountains, running waters, verdant valleys, stately houses, crystal clear sea, and four traditional settlements make up Tilos. A walker’s delight, Tilos is lush by Greek standards, wild with untouched beaches, with no umbrellas or sunbeds in sight. Hit the trail to its many chapels and fortress-like Mikro Horio, a deserted village in the hills. Tilos is also the only Mediterranean island wholly powered by renewable energy, 

8. Skyros

Back in the late 2000s, some of the Sporades Islands like Skiathos and Skopelos suddenly turned into tourist attractions after being featured in the award-winning movie, ‘Mamma Mia’. Escape to Skyros for beaches, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, charming cafés in the island’s sole town (Skyros town) – and even a sea cave transformed into a chapel. English poet Rupert Brooke is buried in an olive grove on a hill on the island. You’ll also want to see the unique and rare breed of Skyrian horses. Almost extinct, they look like regular horses, but shorter (about 3+ feet high). You can meet them at the Skyros Island Horse Trust, dedicated to saving the breed.

9. Milos

This volcanic island is the southernmost in the Cyclades, characterized by a horseshoe shape and a stunning shoreline that boasts more than 75 beaches, with everything from black and white sands to shell- and pebble-covered stretches. All are framed with a strikingly clear sea in an array of captivating colors, from brilliant green and emerald to deep or pale blue. Not only are there beautiful beaches, but quintessential whitewashed Cycladic villages, welcoming people, out-of-this-world food and a fascinating, rich history to explore. In fact, this is the spot where the famous Venus de Milo statue was discovered. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, Milos is an ideal choice – you can soak in natural hot springs too, guaranteed to melt every last bit of stress away. And, at the end of every day, look forward to a grand finale: marveling at a legendary sunset.

10. Paxos

Paxos, also known as Paxoi and Paxi, is a tiny island gem only a few nautical miles of the south shores of Corfu. The smallest and one of the least commercialized of the Ionians, it’s known as the romantic hideaway of the god Poseidon. Its myriad of colors, spectacular beaches and clear aquamarine sea are truly something that must be seen to be believed. Time moves slowly here, making it an ideal place to wind down, sipping an iced coffee in a seafront café as you watch the local fishermen haul in their catch. In the port and capital of Gaios, meander through a maze of narrow streets lined with Venetian architecture and the pedestrianized square, perfect for people watching. There are a variety of eateries scattered throughout, often serving high quality local cuisine like traditionally made souvlaki, pastas and pizza.

Travel Fashion

in Features

Summer is nearly upon us which means it’s time to turn up the heat when it comes to your warm weather wardrobe. If you are the type who thinks a “beach wardrobe” only involves your favourite swimsuit and a basic cover-up, we’re here to tell you that it’s easy to take your beach style to the next level (although, incorporating a good swimsuit as part of your outfit is definitely important).

The idea is simple: Instead of packing every clothing item you own into one bag, strategically pick 10 to 12 quality items that can be mixed and matched to dress up or down. When building a capsule wardrobe for travel, select pieces that are interchangeable and can work in multiple settings. It is important to be mindful of the temperature and planned activities and select layering pieces that can be added or removed throughout the day.

It is practical to focus on versatile pieces that do not wrinkle, can keep you warm, withstand water and can be worn from day to night. Try keeping all of your items within one colour palette, to make styling easy.

It is practical to assemble a chic beach outfit that can easily take you from your towel to the town.  

Whether you love dresses, prefer all-black to colour or prefer to just throw a chic sarong over your bikini, there are so many ways to put together an easy outfit for the beach. Matchy-matchy looks are back in vogue and it is a style that is complimentary and adaptable.

Looking for the perfect swimwear for women can be a challenge. To find one that is both comfortable and flattering. There are so many different styles and cuts of swimsuits, so here is a handy guide to finding the right beachwear with holidays on the horizon. 

What to look for when choosing swimwear 

There are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a swimwear, but comfort should always be the number one priority. It’s essential to try on swimwear beforehand to ensure a fit test for both lounging and swimming to avoid a wardrobe malfunction when diving in. The right costume would vary based on activities, as surfing or paddle boarding has more movement than sunbathing.

Wearing the right swimming attire is important. It can keep you safe and swimming for a longer period of time. It can also help maintain the quality of your pool. Because of this, proper swimming attire is considered to be a powerful investment.

Janaya Wilkins is the CEO and Designer at SLO ACTIVE. Janaya believes ‘The best way to travel is packing lightly and keep it minimal, creating a capsule wardrobe that allows you to swap out pieces for different settings to create a whole new look. Packing garments that can be styled in more ways than one, for example, a crop top or tankini that can be worn as swimwear, yoga wear or under a blazer for a more dressy look, can save space and time. 

SLO ACTIVE’s Retreat Collection was designed to be enjoyed in the ocean and on land. This includes jet-setting around the world, moving through airports, relaxing on a sun lounger, paddling into a wave or diving deep into the sea. The entire Retreat Collection is made from buttery-soft EVO – a luxurious Italian four-way stretch fabric made from castor beans, an innovative, totally renewable resource. It is The perfect fusion of luxury, sustainability, and durability.’

Travel Clothing 

Part of the fun of travelling is exploring everything a city has to offer. From treks and temples to restaurants and nightlife, your clothing has to work in a variety of settings.

It is sensible to be mindful to choose travel clothing that is stylish but not overly revealing. Take into account your travel destination and it’s religious and cultural expectations. A maxi dress can be worn practically anywhere but a low neckline can’t. A button up blouse is versatile but if it’s too sheer it might be too revealing. 

The importance of footwear whilst travelling cannot be underestimated.

Trevor Prior, podiatric surgeon and member of the Vionic Innovation Lab states ‘Wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes can have a negative effect on our personal wellbeing, body and health. When you are travelling, you are likely to be on your feet for a long period of time and it’s vitally important to have shoes which are not only comfortable, but they must fit well, provide support and are breathable too. That’s why the right shoes are potentially the most important items in your suitcase when you go away.  

My two pieces of advice are:

Don’t wait until you are on holiday to try your new shoes Break them in by wearing them for an hour or so at a time indoors. That way, by the time your holiday arrives, your shoes will have loosened a bit and your feet will thank you

Pick shoes with good support. Flip flops might be easy to get on and off, but closed shoes which hold the foot in place and have a thicker sole are going to be kinder on the feet.’

Packing for a trip is not easy especially if your goal is to pack light. Each item of travel clothing you pack needs to be relevant to ensure that you take the right items on your trip and avoid overpacking. The important point is to wear clothes that are comfortable, stylish and will work for you whilst travelling or at your destination.


Vionic shoes:

Travel with us!

in Features

We are surrounded by information, advice and images designed to
motivate us to improve our health.

In fact, we can barely turn a page or click on a website without a flurry of health tips to promote better eating and exercise regimes.

We can feel trapped and exhausted from  our relationship with food so it is vital to heal our relationship with food, learn to trust and accept our bodies. As a result we can spend time on the things that truly matter the most.

However, if maintaining a healthy weight has proved problematic for you or resisting certain foods to keep our cholesterol in check, what can inspire and motivate us to examine our lifestyle choices?

Sometimes, we simply gauge our weight by the fit of our clothes. On other occasions, we know our bodies are not feeling or reacting as they usually do so that alerts us. 

However, there are moments in our lives that are pivotal in our taking stock of our health and how we live.

You have experienced ill health that is unexpected and may lead to a more serious medical condition.

For those who have experienced loved ones with health issues. They may have genetic implications for you,

Increased weight issues that might place you in the obese category.

A BMI reading that is higher than desirable 

A routine health check reveals unwelcome readings such as being pre-diabetic, high cholesterol or blood sugar, increased blood pressure.

Too much of the pursuit of health is a pointless goal. The idea of better health for the sake of better health. Instead better health should be for the sake of being able to do more, to have better relationships, to pursue your passion, to be able to run around after your children, to be able make a difference.

Health is not the end goal but rather it is the catalyst. It makes it easier for you to do the important things in life. But it’s not a prerequisite. You can have people in the worst state of health that do amazing things in this world, just as you can be completely healthy but are contributing nothing beyond living in your head.

Health motivators come in various guises and can be inspired by a variety of people. You may meet an old friend who is looking particularly fabulous and tells you she has adopted an exercise regime. Perhaps a family member has lowered their problematically high blood pressure by a significant lifestyle change. Whoever or whatever inspires you, the most important fact is you are motivated to make vital changes. 

A soulful treat may lead us to make new choices. It may lead to uncomfortable moments, which can be part of change. Who knows.

Needless to say, you do not need to go through a major health scare to deserve a treat and to make change happen, now.

You can start a new piece of your future now. The time will be right, when you feel ready.

Re-evaluating our health can alter our emotional lives too and can be hugely beneficial. It can help shape an inner attitude to ourselves, life and illness that is a source of inner peace.

Running not enjoyable for you? Try cycling or a boxing class to get in your daily workout. And find your inner motivation. Really dig deep to figure out what’s pushing you to live a healthier lifestyle—find your personal, emotional reward. Tap into that motivation and remind yourself on a regular basis why you want to make wellness a more important part of your life.

Jo Wheatley is the Co-author of Deciding to Coach. Jo believes ‘Our health and wellbeing is comprised of both mental and physical health. We need to keep both under review in order to stay healthy. However, in the busyness of day to day life we can often neglect one or both. 

There are many things that can wake us up and remind us to pay attention and nurture our physical and mental health. These can include experiencing burnout at work, experiencing a loss such as a miscarriage or death of another family member, sometimes it is comparing ourselves to others or even a previous version of ourselves. 

For me the greatest reminder was when I had a cancer scare. It is such a leveller and a reminder to start with health. Of course there is also the New Year as people open a new year of opportunity and make decisions about how they want to progress and live the next year. Being accountable to others or making a contribution to something close to your heart is also a great motivator. In workplaces sometimes you’ll find teams working together to achieve a monthly step count, or individuals may be motivated to raise money for charity and commit to a triathalon or other fitness challenge.

As a coach when I work with clients on their wheel of life we consider their satisfaction with eight key areas in their life and often health is listed as a key area. We consider the satisfaction in the area of health in the context of others such as wealth, family, career etc Over time they notice the interdependence of these areas of their life.

When we feel healthy we can often take it for granted until we are reminded through ill health that this is a critical area for us to invest in. What would you score your mental health and your physical health today? How close to what you want it to be is it? What would one point higher be like? What can you do to achieve that today?’

Jo Wheatley, co-author of ‘Deciding to Coach’ Amazon Best Seller in 15 categories and co-host of The Coaching Crowd  podcast. ::

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