Category: ELSEWHERE

Tired of the winter blues? After the magic of Christmas and the excitement of the New Year, many of us are now left feeling tired, wary and deflated. So, what better way to beat those January blues than to plan a little getaway?

London is great, but if you’re craving a change of scenery, why not plan a little staycation? Getting out of the city and enjoying a little break away can do wonders for recharging those batteries and beating the winter blues. To give you a little inspiration, below you’ll discover some great staycation ideas to keep you going in winter.

Enjoy a relaxing break by the sea

Few things can leave you feeling more relaxed and refreshed than a few days by the sea. Whether you’re looking to travel just outside of London, or you’re looking for a slightly further staycation, there’s lots of great seaside towns along the south coast to be enjoyed.

If you’re looking to stay close by, Brighton is an excellent choice. If you’d prefer to travel a little further afield however, Cornwall and Devon are pretty tough to beat. Both offer incredible scenery and a laid-back pace of life that you’ll find a refreshing change from the loud streets of London.

Spend a few days in the country

If you’re not keen on a winter seaside break, why not opt to stay in a house in the country instead? Head to the Cotswolds for a truly magical country getaway. With its breath-taking scenery and stunning thatched cottages, the Cotswolds are truly majestic. You can save a lot of money getting there too with super off peak tickets if you opt to travel during the week.

Some of the best spots in the Cotswolds to head to include Bourton on the Water, Blockley, and Lower Slaughter.

Get away from it all in the Scottish Highlands

Really want to get away from it all? A staycation to the Scottish Highlands could be just what you need. Inverness is a great destination to consider. There, you’ll find a number of great boutique style hotels, along with quaint home-from-home cottages you can stay in. Stay at a Lochside location for a true get-away-from-it-all experience.

Other highland destinations to consider include Glencoe, Loch Ness, Fort William and Aviemore. You’ll typically find winter breaks to the Highlands are surprisingly affordable.

As you can see, there are lots of places you can head to on a winter staycation. Whether you prefer a holiday by the sea, a relaxing rural retreat, or you really want to leave your worries behind and jet off to a remote mountain location, the UK has something to suit you.

Violence amongst the younger generation of the country has been at the forefront of the news for some time; including the epidemic of knife crime and gang-related issues occurring particularly across the capital. Steering young people away from crime is a hugely important task, with everyone from the government to community-based charities doing something to help prevent youth violence.

There is a growing pattern that the areas in which young people lack opportunities are the same areas that experience a higher level of crime and other related behaviours. Last year alone, 10-17 year olds were responsible for 21% of disposals given for the possession of a knife or other offensive weapon. This is something that has been a problem for some time; back in 2012-2013, there were just under 100,000 proven offences perpetrated by the same age bracket. There were also around 28,000 first time entrants to the youth justice system.

Knife crime, in particular, is at its highest over the last 8 years, with some of it coming down to the notorious gang culture found in parts of the country. London, in particular, is experiencing a huge problem in knife crime. So, how do you set about preventing it?

Early intervention

Trying to prevent youth violence in UK cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester can seem like an overwhelming concept. Early intervention has been cited as one of the more effective ways; in other words, becoming involved in prevention before someone has even had a chance to be associated with any sort of violence.

This comes mostly down to education and opportunity, particularly for those who are more vulnerable and most likely to be influenced into committing a criminal offence. Many charities and other organisations work at community level to integrate as many local people as possible, including the likes of youth clubs and schools.

 

Offering support and opportunity

Many young people will turn to gangs and crime as a result of lacking resources in their local area, leading to frustration and boredom. It can often start with anti-social behaviour and being a nuisance, gradually escalating to something much more serious. What’s more, the young population also fear attacks and bullying themselves, leading to the idea of needing to protect themselves.

With this in mind, improved support and education opportunities could be a necessary step in reducing the amount of youth violence in our cities. Educational workshops that teach new skills can be a driving factor in reducing crime, whether it’s through keeping young people off the streets or by helping them to see their own potential. Workshops, inspirational talks and even sporting events can all play a part in helping the young generation to follow a different path.

Local communities can come together to support initiatives, and provide positive influences for children and young adults.

Whether it’s a school, youth club or charity, everyone has a part to play in reducing youth crime. Providing young people with the chance to enhance their self-worth is priceless, and can ensure they are on the right path towards a good education and a fulfilling career.

Travelling is something so many of us dream of, but so few get the chance. Whether it’s financial concerns, it’s not the “right time” or you’re worried about the effect it might have on your career or relationship commitments. For those thinking about travelling solo, it’s usually a safety concern. I mean, how safe is it really to travel the world alone?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that with a little research, planning and common sense, you can safely travel the world solo without running into too much trouble. Something your parents will probably be glad to hear. Here we’ve put together some of the simplest solo travel safety tips.

Get your insurance sorted – now!

Ok, so we have to talk about the importance of travel insurance – are you covered? You’d be amazed at how many travellers run the huge risk of travelling without it, and then pay the price (literally) when things inevitably go wrong. Travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellation, flight problems, lost luggage and lost/damaged luggage. Your travel medical insurance will help you with medical assistance, illness, broken bones, access to medical teams, transportation to hospital and even repatriation. You might not need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Walk with confidence

Your nose buried deep in a map, looking around for street signs, scratching your head and wringing your hands in a panic are all tell tale signs that you don’t belong, you’re lost and you’re vulnerable. Making you the perfect target for scams, cons and even theft. If you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower then a wandering tourist is to be expected, but if the busy streets of Cairo? No. If you get lost simply head into the nearest café or bar and ask for help, walk with purpose.

Carry the business card or your hostel/hotel

This one is great if you’re not overly confident with the language yet or the signal or battery on your smartphone has let you down. Showing the business card to a local or even a taxi driver means they know you need help trying to get back to our accommodation.

Take a break

Travelling is incredible and immersing yourself in a new culture and vibe is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But it’s also exhausting and you sometimes you need to give yourself a time out. Becoming overwhelmed whilst travelling is common, so take a day to chill at your accommodation, head to a cooking class, or even take a guided tour of the cities best tourist spots.

Blend in

Try to avoid flashing your wealth or looking distinctly foreign. If the country you’re visiting is conservative then they might have dress codes you need to adhere to – so do a little research. Be respectful and polite. Things like buying a local paper will help you look more like you belong and it’s a great ice breaker too!

Once Christmas is over, the tree is taken down and the last coffee cream-flavoured chocolate has been put out of its misery, it’s time to think about your summer holiday. This might seem like a tall order, especially when you’re looking over your bank and credit card statements, but good financial planning starts early. It also (unfortunately) starts with the boring part – paying off debt!

Spend January working on your Christmas debt

Hopefully, you don’t have too much debt because you used a budget calculator before Christmas last year to avoid overspending. Even if you’re pretty much in the black, you may still have some lingering credit card balances or a small overdraft, so work on reducing or eliminating these hangers-on so that you’re as free as possible.

Have a dry month

Everyone else is doing Dry January, so why not follow the crowds for once? You might find you have no choice anyway if all your mates have sworn themselves off the sauce until February! Think about how much you spend on those cheeky Martinis after work on a Wednesday, as well as how much more you spend on a Saturday, then put these amounts towards debts or savings. Don’t live like a hermit, though, or you’ll end up splurging sometime around January 20 and you’ll ruin all your good work. Organise a cheap pot luck night or have an evening of board games.

Start thinking about next Christmas

Seriously. You can’t start early enough! Scour the sales for anything that you know will come in handy next Christmas. Only buy it if it’s got a steep discount (at least 50% off) and won’t go off or look dated by December. If you’ve already stolen a bit of a march here, then you won’t feel so restricted when you think about summer hols.

Start looking for cheap flights

If you have a destination in mind, or even if you don’t, then start looking for flights and accommodation deals. Depending on the season you plan to travel in, there’s an ideal flight booking window of time. For summer it’s around 45-50 days before the date of travel, so you do have some wiggle room. Of course, you might prefer to hold out for a last-minute deal, but if you don’t know what the going rates for flights and villas are, then you won’t know a good deal when you see one.

Deposit savings into an international card or account

If you know which currency you’ll be using on your holiday, then you can start converting small amounts as you save them. If you turn down a night out, convert the £40 you would have spent into your destination currency. If you decide to buy fewer cakes and coffees at lunchtime at work, then deposit the £2, £3 and so on into your prepaid international card. Watch out for Brexit news, because whatever happens it’ll affect the value of the pound and it might be worth converting your travel money into Sterling and back again if there are big movements.

While Africa has historically been a commodity-driven economy, it’s now increasingly reliant on tourism to drive its GDP growth. In fact, more than 30 million people book a trip to Africa every single year, with safari adventures proving particularly popular in for tourists.

Owing to the rise of a plethora of companies that offer Africa safari holidays and tours, there’s plenty of safari options to choose so you’ll almost be guaranteed to find appropriate accommodation, transport and activities that’s suitable for you.

Whatever budget you’ve allocated for your trip, walking safaris offer particularly impressive value for money, and a surprising splash of luxury too, even though they’re still largely underrated by travellers from across the globe.

Here are some of the benefits of walking safaris in Africa.

Gain a New Perspective on Wildlife

Let’s start with a basic assertion; viewing animals on foot enables you to view them from a fresh and completely unique perspective.

While game drives are also great fun, they do not allow to interact particularly closely with particular species, while it’s easy to miss some of the more stealth-like creatures when aboard a vehicle.

You may have previously dismissed impalas as boring when you see them in herds during game drives, for example, only to marvel at their beauty and graceful movement when walking amongst them.

By sharing the terrain with such creatures and engaging with them close-up, you can also gain an insight into how vulnerable prey animals are even in their natural habitat. At any moment, they could be hunted, stalked and killed, and this will certainly afford you a new-found respect for such creatures.

 

  • You can Learn More About the Bush

 

On a similar note, it’s fair to say that walking safaris serve as a significant educational experience, which enables you to learn far more than by sitting in a truck.

This should not detract from the quality of game drives, of course, but the combination of a walking safari and an experienced guide can impart a far greater understanding of the terrain and the surrounding wildlife.

After all, traversing the terrain on foot makes it far easier to explore Africa’s bewildering and often complex ecosystems in significant detail. Take the region’s huge diversity of trees and their incredible evolutionary adaptations, for example, which can only really be appreciated while on foot and at close proximity.

 

  • Learn the Art of Tracking

 

For most people, the purpose of going on safari is to see as much wildlife as possible, but this is not guaranteed and it often depends on your chosen location and the time that you choose to travel.

On a walking safari, however, you and your guide will be accompanied by a tracker, who can teach the basic art of reading tracks in the sand, ensuring you see some of the most amazing animals the continent has to offer as they make their way through the bush.

There’s a great more deal to this master skill, however, and over time you can even learn to identify the smell of rhino urine and accurately calculate the ablution time by poking through middens.

Make no mistake; tracking is a fun, unique and masterful skill to learn, while it also adds a fascinating dimension to your safari experience and makes it easier to see more species of animal whilst on foot.