Covid travel corridors update

I’m choosing not to travel for now, but many travel corridors will be opening from Friday 10 July thanks to the government (at last) making an announcement on 59 countries/territories we can travel to without the need to quarantine on return (in England anyway) – weirdly, though, you may be required to be tested or quarantine when you get to the country (or simply not be allowed in, even though the UK government says you can go). Below is all the Covid travel info I can get hold of at this time.

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Please note that this is not official advice and that, apart from the travel corridors listed below, the FCO is still advising against all but essential international travel – if you go to destinations not listed below you will be asked to provide an address where you’ll self-isolate for 14 days (you can be fined ยฃ100 if you don’t complete these details, and you could be fined up to ยฃ1,000 if you fail to self-isolate). Please also note that this article is aimed at a UK (specifically, English) audience

Croatia - one of the travel corridors
Hvar, Croatia

What happened to the traffic light system?

We now have ‘travel corridors’ instead. The UK government seems to no longer have a traffic light system, making all of the countries I listed below ‘Green’ – i.e. there’s no particular warning or list of countries specified by the government that you cannot travel to. HOWEVER, if a country is NOT on the list below then you WILL be required to quarantine for 14 days when you return to the UK.

NOTE: although the UK government sets rules on these routes, quarantining rules may differ between each UK nation. Each destination country may also have testing and/or quarantine regulations in place when you arrive.

Will I have to quarantine or be tested when I get there?

Possibly. It depends on each country. In the list of travel corridor countries below I have added a ๐Ÿ•’ next to countries which will require you to quarantine (usually for 14 days), a ๐ŸŒก๏ธ next to countries which will require testing (either before you leave or when you enter), a ๐Ÿ“ next to countries which require a form to be filled out, and a โœ… next to countries where there are no restrictions. Even though the UK government is letting us travel, some countries may refuse entry due to the relatively high number of cases here – I’ve marked these countries with a โŽ (it’s unlikely that airlines will fly from the UK to these countries, but, if they do, you may be turned back when you arrive).

Where can you travel to?

Click for Europe, Americas & Caribbean, Asia, Africa & Middle East and Oceania.

According to the government: ‘From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England’ (note: not Scotland, Wales or N Ireland). This list has been taken from the Department of Transport site, not the FCO site (the two lists differ).

Click on each country name, ‘Flights’, ‘Trains’ or ‘Ferries’ for the latest offers, or click on the itinerary links if you want some detailed planning help. I’ve also added ‘info’ links if you want more details, such as extra measures for incoming passengers (see above for explainer).

Europe

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Andorra (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria (free itinerary here) ๐Ÿ•’ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
Flights
Trains
Ferries
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia (free itineraries here and here) ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ“(info >)
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark โœ…
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ด Faroe Islands โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland ๐Ÿ•’ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
Flights
Trains
Ferries
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
Flights
Trains
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Gibraltar โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece (free itinerary here) ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ•’๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Greenland ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ•’๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland ๐Ÿ•’ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland (free itinerary here) ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
Flights
Trains
Ferries
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
Flights
Trains
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Liechtenstein (travel via Switzerland) โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg โœ… (info >)
Flights
Trains
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta (free itinerary here) โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡จ Monaco โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ The Netherlands ๐Ÿ•’ (info >)
Flights
Trains
Ferries
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ San Marino โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ Serbia โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain (free itinerary here) ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
Flights
Trains
Ferries
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey (free itinerary here) ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ“ (info >)

Americas & Caribbean

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Antigua and Barbuda ๐ŸŒก๏ธ(maybe ๐Ÿ•’ as well) (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ผ Aruba โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ The Bahamas ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ง Barbados (free itinerary here) โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ถ Bonaire โœ… (info >)
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ผ Curaรงao โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Dominica โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Grenada ๐ŸŒก๏ธ(maybe ๐Ÿ•’ as well) (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ต Guadeloupe ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ“(maybe ๐Ÿ•’ as well) (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Jamaica ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ•’ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฑ St Barthรฉlemy ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ณ St Kitts and Nevis โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ St Lucia (free itinerary here) ๐ŸŒก๏ธ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฒ St Pierre and Miquelon ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น Trinidad and Tobago ๐Ÿ•’ (info >)

Asia

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan (free itinerary here) โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Macau โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea ๐ŸŒก๏ธ๐Ÿ•’ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam (free itinerary here) โŽ (info >)

Africa & Middle East

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Mauritius โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ช Rรฉunion ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ Seychelles โœ…, although strictly limited (info >)

Oceania

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia (free itineraries here and here) โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji (free itinerary here) โŽ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ซ French Polynesia ๐Ÿ“ (info >)
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand (free itineraries here and here) โŽ (info >)

When might the restrictions change?

Disappointed that the country you planned to travel to isn’t yet part of the travel corridors? Don’t fret. If daily active cases in the UK and/or the country you wish to travel to continue declining, then the government will be more likely to include that country in the travel corridors, particularly if it’s a popular tourist destination.

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, for example, are amongst the countries waiting for the UK’s number of cases per 100k to drop below 25 before starting to permit tourists from this country. I’ll try to keep this page updated as often as possible.

Is it safe to travel?

Even though flight, train and ferry companies have put in place many new Covid travel safety rules, it would appear that your safety is still almost entirely down to the responsibility of fellow passengers. Many travel corridors destinations are insisting that visitors at least take a test on arrival.

Flights

When you get to the airport you will be instructed on how to queue at check-in, security and when boarding. You will also see instructions on where to sit when waiting for your flight.

Airlines are requiring passengers to wear a face mask at all times, and to replace face masks every four hours (note that some destinations may require different types of masks to the UK). All airlines have put in place advanced disinfecting techniques. Some airlines, such as British Airways, are giving passengers a personal protection pack containing an antibacterial wipe and hand sanitiser – all but Emirates and Virgin Atlantic require you to bring your own mask(s). Take a look at the government advice for more detail. Virgin Atlantic also have a useful page detailing the measures they’re taking, as do easyJet and, slightly less useful, is Ryanair’s Covid page.

Airlines aren’t, however, keeping seats free between passengers and so social distancing along travel corridors is not possible. The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization has provided guidance to all airlines, but it’s not enforceable.

Trains

Similar to flights, you will need to wear a face mask for the duration of your train journey. You will need to supply your own mask. Every other seat on board Eurostar has been left empty and so it will be possible to maintain some level of social distancing (more details on their site). Train companies have also put in place advanced disinfecting techniques.

Ferries

Ferry companies aren’t currently requiring you to wear a mask (although their staff will be). This, therefore, may be the most comfortable form of travel. In addition to making reserved seats and cabins compulsory, so as to ensure social distancing, ferry companies have put in place advanced cleaning operations. You can see more details about Britanny Ferries Coronavirus response here, P&O Ferries here, DFDS here, and Irish Ferries here.

Hotels and Hostels

Hotels are, perhaps, one of the safest places to be. Hotel managers are, after all, used to the idea of deep cleaning rooms. Although you may not be able to eat in their restaurants, room service should be available.

Some countries have implemented special training for hotel supervisors and have put in place rules for check-in queues, the removal of non-essential decorative items, as well as for keeping rooms empty for several hours between guests.

Of all the accommodation types I have seen preparing for guests during this crisis, it is probably hostels which seem to have been doing the most thorough job. Numbers of guests – especially in dorms – have been restricted by many hostels

B&Bs

AirBnB have asked their hosts to enact enhanced cleaning protocols, flexible cancellations and longer stays are being encouraged, and hosts have been given a vast array of advice on how to stay open during the crisis. HomeAway have been less insistent that their hosts put into place enhanced cleaning, but they do have guidance for their hosts. Unlike hotels, B&Bs are less tightly regulated, and so your safety is in the hands of your host.

Covid travel insurance

This is still an extremely unpredictable situation. Buying good insurance is, therefore, highly recommended. If you’re travelling in the EU, make sure that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as you will still be able to receive treatment in local hospitals (UK citizens will no longer be eligible for EHIC after 31 Dec 2020).

Remember where I mentioned the FCO in the intro to this page? Well, that’s key to whether you’ll be covered by insurance. If the FCO advises against travel to a destination, then it’s highly likely you won’t be covered by insurance (this is true regardless of pandemics).

If you booked your trip and had travel insurance in place before the pandemic hit (most insurers use 12 March for this date) then you should be covered if you wish to cancel. You’ll find a vast wealth of information about cancellations and your rights on the MoneySavingExpert site.

Nationwide, Staysure, the Post Office, Alpha Travel Insurance, Insurancewith, JS Insurance, Trailfinders and Saga all now reportedly have Covid travel insurance in place which covers the virus, although some only cover cancellations and not medical treatment, plus most won’t let you cancel without good reason (i.e. not in the event that you change your mind about how safe it may be).

For more info and to compare insurers, click here.

What will travel be like?

It’s travel, Jim, but not as we know it.

You may well be required to take a swab test on arrival to your destination. Some may even insist that you remain in quarantine (which begs the question ‘is it actually worth travelling?’).

Flights will involve quiet, socially-distanced airports. Restaurants in airports will be closed, but pharmacies, some shops, and takeaway food retailers will be open. You may have to go through additional screening. Onboard your flight you will have to wear a mask for the duration and food may be limited, or non-existent. You’ll be sat directly next to other passengers, movement around the cabin may also be restricted and toilet visits managed by the crew. In short; air travel isn’t going to be much fun.

Train travel will feel much freer than flying – it will be easier to get up and walk around and you’ll have much more space, with every other seat on Eurostar left empty. Masks will still be required.

Ferries will offer the most freedom to roam and you won’t be required to wear a mask, although, again, restaurants will be closed and you will have to keep socially distant from other passengers.

When you arrive at your destination the cities will likely be much the same as the UK: quieter than usual, and with restaurants and some – if not all – cultural attractions such as museums shut down (although countries which have handled the crisis better than others will have already opened attractions – the Acropolis in Greece, for example). These restrictions are planned to ease further in July (the Louvre will re-open on 6 July), but the situation may change quickly depending on number of cases.

Beaches, bars and pools may feel emptier and you will likely be asked to keep your distance – a beach bar owner in Greece is even going so far as to put up plexiglass barriers between sun loungers.

In conclusion, going to countries with whom we have travel corridors is going to feel very strange and very unsociable. If you’re desperate, then you should be OK if you follow the rules, but otherwise I’d just wait until life gets much further back to normal

How do I know all this?

That’s a valid question. As I stated at the beginning, this isn’t official advice. I’ve put together all of the information here having followed the stories about air bridges since they first appeared many weeks ago. I note the confirmed information broadcast by UK travel journalists, I watch their video updates and I listen to their podcasts. I track government announcements, I monitor the FCO site, I listen to Parliament TV (so dull) and I read reports in local country media about travel corridors. I’ve also taken information from the sites of various tourist board, accommodation, airlines, ferry and train companies. Finally, I like to think that I can identify reliable sources having worked in travel for 20 years!

This blog is all about planning for travel and so I know how important it is to have as much accurate information as possible – if you have found it helpful then I would greatly appreciate a small donation (link below) if you can afford it. Happy (and safe) travels!

Questions?

Leave a comment below and I’ll reply asap, or find me on Twitter for a faster response:

Taking the train to Antwerp & Bruges

Eurostar’s service to continental Europe departs just ten minutes from where I live. Having realised that I don’t make the most of this train, I booked a trip to Belgium and the cities of Antwerp and Bruges.

The train departed the magnificent St Pancras station and arrived into Brussels just two hours and ten minutes later. I transferred immediately onto a train to Antwerp and, less than six hours after I’d left my front door, I was checking into the Indigo Hotel in Belgium’s second-largest city. My Eurostar ticket allowed me to travel to or from any station in Belgium within 24 hours of arriving into/departing from Brussels.

I’d visited Bruges, Brussels and Ghent before, now I had two days to see the resplendent architecture of Antwerp. A free walking tour (tips strongly encouraged) showed me all the main sights. I was struck by the number of beautiful 16th Century buildings, many of which were topped with gold leaf. The city’s train station is also an architectural marvel – one of the finest I’ve ever seen.

  • Grote Markt, Antwerp
  • Antwerp architecture
  • Wooden escalator to pedestrian tunnel under river
  • Medieval door, Antwerp
  • Antwerp skyline
  • Antwerp shopping mall
  • Antwerp architecture

I also sought out one of Antwerp’s famous brown cafes (so named because of the colour of the walls, stained from the days of indoor smoking). The drinks in the Den Engel cafe, on the corner of Grote Markt, are great value for money and the atmosphere is full of friendly charm.

Perhaps Antwerp’s most surprising delight is the neighbourhood of Zurenorg. Walk along the streets of Transvaalstraat, Cogels Osylei and Waterloostraat for a cornucopia of grand Art Nouveau buildings. To get a great view of the city as a whole, head to the fantastic MAS Museum. At the top of this is a free platform from where you can see for miles around.

Confession time; although I’d been to Bruges before and the key reason I wanted to go back was for the hot chocolate. Specifically, the hot chocolate in The Old Chocolate House, where you’re served with hot milk, a generous portion of chocolate drops (you choose the chocolate from an extensive menu) and a whisk. Delicious.

Of course, there are many other reasons to return to Bruges. There are the charming canals, the historic churches and the cobbled streets – all so incredibly picturesque you feel as though you’re walking through a postcard. I’d made the most of my Expedia loyalty points and stayed at the Hotel de Orangerie which had it’s own canal-side terrace and was once a nunnery – such a fascinating building in which to sleep.

With my Eurostar ticket covering the return journey from Bruges, I hopped on a comfortable SNCB train to Brussels Midi, made the easy transition to the Eurostar terminal and, within just a few hours, was unlocking my front door. My bag was, of course, laden with chocolate and my mind filled with thoughts of returning to Antwerp and Bruges.

Night-time bells ringing across the canals of Bruges

Airlines waiving fees due to Covid-19/Coronavirus

Wing tip

With Covid-19/Coronavirus causing great uncertainty in the travel industry, many airlines are either waiving change fees or being more flexible with flight changes for bookings made in March or beyond. There’s some useful links at the end of this post and here’s a list I’ve compiled of all those airlines I’ve seen who are adopting this policy – if you’re in any doubt about booking travel then now you can feel more assured about booking that flight (plus, in addition to waiving fees, there are some superb bargains to be had at the moment):

Aer Lingus
Aeromexico
Air Arabia
Air Canada
Air France
Air India Express
Air New Zealand
Air Transat
Alaska Airlines
Alitalia
American Airlines
Avianca
British Airways
Cayman Airways
Copa Airlines
Delta
El Al
Emirates
Etihad Airways
Frontier Airlines
GoAir
Hawaiin Airlines
Icelandair
IndiGo
JetBlue Airways
Jetstar
KLM
LATAM
LOT Polish Airlines
Lufthansa
Norwegian
Qatar Airways
Qantas
SAS – Scandinavian Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Spirit Airlines
SWISS
TAP Air Portugal
Turkish Airlines
United
Virgin Atlantic
WestJet

You can find more excellent advice on the Skyscanner website, and you can find which routes have been suspended to mainland China and Hong Kong on the Reuters website – other destinations, such as South Korea and Italy, are also seeing many flights cancelled. This site has a list of many airlines’ waiver policies.

Antarctica on a budget (ish)

M/V Ushuaia in Antarctica
M/V Ushuaia in Paradise Bay

Can you visit Antarctica on a budget? No. Well, not unless your budget is much less than $5,000/ยฃ4,000 (or if you manage to find work there). But it is possible to see this incredible continent without being hugely wealthy, as I recently did. Here’s how.

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Getting to Ushuaia
Your low-cost ship
Booking your cabin
When to go
Equipment
Working in Antarctica
Spending time in Ushuaia

Getting to Ushuaia

Flying into Ushuaia (Antarctica on a Budget)
Approaching Ushuaia

The lowest-priced ships sail from Ushuaia in Argentina. To get to Ushuaia you can either travel overland (take a look at my Northern and Southern Argentina itineraries for inspiration) or, if you don’t have weeks to spare, the low cost airline JetSmart have just started flying there from Buenos Aires on either a Monday or Friday.

You can take a low-cost flight from the UK to Buenos Aires with Norwegian. You’ll need to change airports, though, and so I highly recommend spending a few nights in the wonderful Argentine capital.

Your low-cost ship

M/V Ushuaia in port (Antarctica on a Budget)
M/V Ushuaia at port in Ushuaia

The M/V Ushuaia isn’t a luxurious cruise ship. It was built in 1970 by the US Navy as a spy ship which operated around Cuba. Antarpply purchased the ship and converted it so that it can take 84 passengers. You can find out more about this ship on my YouTube video, but few other ships (if any) take passengers to Antarctica for less money.

Booking your cabin

M/V Ushuaia cabin bunk beds (Antarctica on a Budget)
Standard Twin cabin, M/V Ushuaia

You have two choices for booking Antarctica on a budget:

  1. Book as early as possible – I’d recommend at least 11 months in advance
  2. A month or two before you wish to depart, contact Freestyle Adventure Travel in Ushuaia and ask to join their WhatsApp group. This agency will broadcast the latest Antarctica deals to the group and cabins go on a first-come-first-served basis so be vigilant and be quick! Although M/V Ushuaia cabins are often cheapest (and rare), other bargains can be had with this excellent, friendly agency.

When to go

Group of Gentoo penguins (Antarctica on a Budget)
Gentoo penguins, Antarctica

The cheapest time to go to Antarctica is November. However, the notoriously rough Drake Passage is still particularly choppy at that time and storms may shorten your time in Antarctica. Penguin chicks will also not yet have made an appearance. When you do make it across, though, you will find few other people, thousands of adult penguins and intact snow. Perfect.

Equipment

Wearing lots of layers (Antarctica on a Budget)
Toastier than a piece of toast in a toaster

Booking your cabin with Freestyle Adventure Travel means that you don’t need to invest in expensive clothing as they will provide most of what you need. Don’t forget to bring your own thermals though.

The ship also provides motion sickness tablets and so you can save money on these too. Although it has a bar, you can bring your own alcohol on board (in moderation). All meals are included.

As well as having fewer passengers (and therefore the ability to spend more time off the ship), the advantage of voyaging on this smaller ship is that you have access to the bridge, where they keep binoculars for spotting wildlife. No need to bring your own!

Working in Antarctica

Camara Base
Cรกmara Base, Half Moon Island, Antarctica

If you want to spend a lot more time on this awesome continent, then there are also opportunities for working in Antarctica. You’ll spend months here, rather than just a few days, and you may not earn anything beyond board, transport and lodging. But wow, what an experience, and this really is seeing Antarctica on a budget. There is a fascinating post on the These Vagabond Shoes blog about what it was like to work at the Penguin Post Office. Here are some of the English-language sites I found for finding work in Antarctica:

Spending time in Ushuaia

Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
Tierra Del Fuego

If you’ve booked your low-cost flights in advance (which I recommend for visiting Antarctica on a budget) but find yourself with days to spare before or after your cruise departs, then Ushuaia is a good place to hang around.

There are plenty of apartments to rent, as well as some good hotels, and you can embark on hikes straight from town (Martial Glacier and Laguna Esmeralda are favourites). You can also take shuttle buses (prices are the same amongst all the companies – book at the tourist office or at hostels/hotels) to Tierra Del Fuego National Park, where you’ll find a plethora of hikes.

Please note that I don’t earn any commission from these links, apart from those linking to airlines or accommodation.

January Sale Tips

It’s Sale Season! The British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and many other airlines’ sales have begun – a great time to grab a bargain flight. I’ve put together some sale season tips on how to make the most of them, as well as other transport, hotels and more.

Jump to:
Flights
Other transport

Hotels and more

Today’s best deals:

Taj Mahal, India

LAS VEGAS
ยฃ255
Return
More >

DELHI
ยฃ306
Return
More >

Flights

Virgin Atlantic flight departing Seattle with view of Mt Rainier
  1. In need of inspiration? Take a look at this amazing map which shows you the very best prices for any given month
  2. For full service flights, book early but remain flexible on dates – each flight will have a limited number of sale seats
  3. The usual money-saving tips when buying flights (e.g. choosing split tickets – where each leg may be with a different airline – on sites such as Skyscanner) still apply
  4. Low cost airline seats for next summer have already been released. Check prices for these airlines on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and buy early
  5. Sign up to Jack’s Flight Club if you don’t have a particular destination in mind and want a real bargain
  6. The best prices will always be on the routes where most airlines compete (e.g. London to New York)

Other transport

Waiting for a bullet train to Tokyo, Japan
  1. Eurostar always have a January sale, when you can pick up some real bargains
  2. SNCF sometimes hold a sale for summer tickets in early February
  3. The last National Express January sale saw them offer 3 million seats for ยฃ5 or less
  4. Keep an eye on Trip.com for train sales in the UK, Japan, China, Germany and South Korea

Hotels and more

Amanzi Island Lodge, Knysna, South Africa

  1. Many hotel chains and travel agencies will be having their biggest sales of the year in the coming weeks. Sale prices can be compared using sites such as Trivago
  2. If you’re looking for package holidays, then be sure to check out the Travelsupermarket January sale
  3. Trip.com will likely offer discounts on tours and tickets in their January sale. If coupons are involved then anything over 10% off is likely to be limited in number and so book early
  4. Entrepreneurial home rental owners will join in with the January sale hype and discount prices on sites such as Homeaway

Island hopping

I’ve long wanted to try island hopping in the Caribbean. When I started researching my trip there I was happy to see that it is possible to get a ferry between St Lucia, Dominica and Guadeloupe. However, I also wanted to see Barbados and so managed to find a cheap flight from Ecuador, via Florida and then another flight between Barbados and St Lucia.

These islands all felt very different. Barbados was relatively flat and had a plethora of incredible beaches. St Lucia had more variety; a few amazing beaches, mountains and rainforest. Dominica wasn’t great for beaches but offered a magnificent, verdant interior, as well as whale watching opportunities. Guadeloupe had good and easy hikes in the mountains, a large choice of beaches and a distinct French flair.

I knew that it would be easy to create a Luxury version of the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, the Mid-Range version was also pretty simple to put together. The Budget version was, however, more of a challenge, but it is entirely possible to see this part of the world without spending a fortune (partly thanks to the low cost airlines which fly there from the US).

We stayed in a range of accommodation, my favourite being the luxurious hotel on the side of a hill overlooking St Lucia’s dramatic pitons. The lowlight? Dominica’s incredibly disorganised border at the ferry port. It was so bad I nearly dropped this island from the itinerary, but its an amazing place and so worth going through immigration pain.

Living the high life

In 2008 we set out to travel from London to Nepal without taking any flights. We celebrated reaching that goal atop Poon Hill, 3200 metres high and with a view of several 7000+ metre-high mountains. What a stupendous country Nepal is.

Of course, if hiking isn’t really your thing then there are other ways to view those magnificent Himalaya; on a white water rafting expedition (which I can also highly recommend), from an aeroplane, from an infinity pool in your luxurious hotel… Then there’s the fascinating city of Kathmandu, friendly hill-top villages and the wonderful wildlife of Chitwan National Park.

The Nepal itinerary was one of those few where Luxury, Mid-range and Budget travellers all, at one point, stay in the same accommodation. When you’re on a remote trek there isn’t much choice but to stay in a teahouse and they’re all pretty basic. But they’re also an enjoyable part of the trekking experience and, after a day of hiking up steep hills, any bed is welcome!

I chose to include a trek in the Annapurna region rather than nearer to Everest. This is because I have direct experience of this trek and know that it’s one of the best you’ll ever do. Plus, if you’re short of time, you can still see Everest on a special flight. If you do have more time then I would absolutely recommend trekking up to Everest Base Camp – flying between Kathmandu and Pokhara is the best way to make up that time.

โ€œI will not let you go into the unknown aloneโ€

Travelling through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria was one of the first holidays I took with my girlfriend (who became my wife). It’s therefore been a while since I was there but, having done a lot of research, it seems as though (thankfully) the sights you have to see haven’t changed. Not surprising, considering many of these sights are centuries old.

Budapest is a destination in its own right, as evidenced by the many tourists who come here for a weekend break, but it’s also a great place to start this itinerary and enjoy an overnight train to Romania. Waking up in Transylvania is a special treat – fortunately the only things which seem immortal around here are the remote, well-preserved castles, which are especially atmospheric.

Although taking the train can be a comfortable way of travelling, it isn’t necessarily the fastest and this is true in Romania. This itinerary therefore incorporates a bus journey to speed luxury, mid-range and budget travellers to Sofia in Bulgaria.

My abiding memories of Sofia are the golden dome of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the military artifacts on sale at Bitaka Flea Market (hand grenade anyone?) and the astonishingly delicious ice cream. I have tried to pack in as many amazing, unforgettable sights into this 11-day Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria itinerary. My only challenge was trying not to mention Dracula too much…

Not just your imagination

Close your eyes and imagine Indonesia. When you see this country for yourself you’ll realise that what you pictured is probably pretty accurate. In fact, the reality will likely exceed expectations. 

There’s the well-preserved temples of Borobodur, the alien landscape of Mount Bromo and the perfect, serene rice terraces around Ubud. And then, of course, there are glorious beaches.

Waking up before dawn to see sunrise at Bromo was both exhausting and incredibly rewarding. We only used buses to get about, but the railway on Java seems as though it works well and therefore a good option for travellers. 

For these itineraries I’ve tried to avoid the crowds in Kuta, but there are great luxury, mid-range and budget options available and so, after the idyll of Lombok, it seemed a good and sensible place in which to end this journey. Just a word of warming if taking bemos; hold on tight and prepare to have many conversations with locals.

Small but perfectly formed

One of my most amusing and abiding travel memories comes from when a friend and I travelled through Central America. We were in Monteverde, Costa Rica and decided to take the aerial tramway, which turned out to be an incredibly sedate ride through the canopy – so sedate that we were given blankets to put over our knees and the ride stopped at a little window for tea. Not quite the adrenaline rush two young lads were looking for.

I’m very happy to see that the tramway is still there, as are most of the amazing things we saw and did in Costa Rica. I wanted to pack in as many of these sights as possible in the two-week itinerary and to ensure that the luxury, mid-range and budget versions got to see everything. This isn’t a cheap country and, with shuttle buses being the easiest way to get between places, it was a challenge to get public transport info.

Finding the perfect, most convenient beaches at the end of the itinerary was key. It would be a shame, after all, to visit Costa Rica and not relax on some of the most scenic sand along the Pacific Rim.

We entered Costa Rica from Panama and departed into Nicaragua. When I get around to building itineraries for those countries I’m going to have to link them to this one, because an extended journey through Central America is highly recommended. However, if you had to pick just one country to see here then Costa Rica – with all its beaches, forests, wildlife and volcanoes – is an excellent choice.