5 Amazing Gap Year Destinations

If you are considering a place to spend your gap year, then Australia should be up there on your list. The continental island offers so much activity to keep you busy throughout your year. The country is large, with wilderness tours, city adventures, farm activities, as well as beach experiences beckoning. What’s more, with so many backpackers and students travelling to the country, Australia has good infrastructure to support. There are plenty of hostels, cheap hotels, as well as cozy B&Bs en route to almost anywhere. You can also get a one-year work permit easily if you are aged 18-31, and live while working; a great way to cut costs of living.

The Dragon of the East opened up its borders a while back. While many consider it to be a daunting place to visit because of language barrier, it actually may play to your advantage. China’s long history, ancient culture, as well as vast terrain offer an exciting gap year experience. With booming cities, China offers you the adventure of a lifetime as you wander the streets of Beijing or Shanghai. What’s more, you can get a job teaching English at a local school, and supplement your income. Depending on how you live, it is very possible to live affordably.

For those keen on adventure and excitement, take a snow gap year in France’s famous ski resort areas. Enjoy all year white as you learn how to ski from the masters. France offers special gap year ski programs that allow you to work part time and learn full time “the ways of the slope”. If you fancy an exciting year with fellow gap mates enjoying off-piste adventures, rugged mountain views, delicious French cuisine, and a chance to tour the beautiful French countryside occasionally, then this is for you.

South Africa
Another exciting gap-year destination is the Rainbow Nation in the south of Africa. It is a country overcoming its painful past to clinch a blossoming future. Spend a gap year here witnessing the rapid development that has now characterized this beautiful country. From the gold city of Johannesburg, the beautiful Cape Verde, to the exciting wildlife reserves, the country is teeming with activity and adventure. When you have had your fill of its lovely beaches, head inland for sights that will live with you throughout your life. Get a taste of the vibrant South African musical culture, rhythms and harmonies that will play through your head for ages to come.

One of the world’s most famous backpacking adventures, India is an enigma waiting to be explored. Every year, thousands of gap year takers head over to the mystical state to enjoy the thrills of this exotic country. Here, there are literally thousands of places to visit, things to do, and cuisines to try out. What’s more, life here is very cheap, allowing you to enjoy life on a budget. If you want to earn a little money, you can look for an English teaching job, or get a job with a local NGO. Indeed, the country will offer you insights into a different culture and life; life changing experience. 

Book at gap year with Oyster Worldwide

5 Incredible Water Villas to Live the Luxury Life

It doesn't get much more glamorous than staying in a water villa in the Maldives, Caribbean or Bora Bora. These are the places that are usually reserved for the rich and famous, but every now and then there are deals out there that make it possible for us normal folks to soak up the luxury that comes with staying in a water villa or 'overwater bungalow' as they're also known.

Below are 5 of our favourite water villas from around the world where you can sit and listen to the sea lap beneath you and look out into nothing but the long stretch of blue waters out to the horizon:

Luxury is second to none in this amazing place in Bora Bora. Once you go, you won't want to leave...

A beautiful eco lodge near Panama, this is the place to come for rest and relaxation. Large bungalows and powered purely by solar power, they are mighty impressive:

The prefect honeymoon water villas, this is absolute luxury in 5 star style in the Maldives. 24 hour room service so you don't have to leave the room...

Another Maldives special, this is a spectacular resort with 64 water villas, many of which feature their very own private hot tub.

Club Bali Hai is perfect for those wanting a bit of luxury on a budget. it still has stunning water villas, but at a cheaper price than those in the Maldives. Head to Moorea to enjoy them..

For more luxurious water villas head over to overwaterbungalows.net

3 Tips for Your Next Family Holiday

Plan early, plan carefully
When travelling alone or as adults only, it is easy to roll with the punches. This flexibility is eliminated as soon as you include children on your flight plan. When travelling with your children, ensure that you plan well ahead in time, and plan very carefully. Make this a project if you have to. Find out all the necessities of travelling, asking questions frequently if you have to. Find out whether there are any health concerns, immunization requirements, special visa requirements, and so on. If your child has their own passport, ensure that they also have the visa early.

Also pick out the accommodation wisely. Find family friendly accommodation options that will be suitable for your children’s needs. Some hotels and resorts offer kids clubs, free indoor activities, nannies, and a host of other child friendly amenities. Find out in advance if where you are planning to stay has any of these. They could come in handy when you want to have some much needed adult time.

Get travel insurance
The logic behind getting insurance is to minimize on risk. When travelling with children, the risks always seem to multiply. Make sure that you get comprehensive insurance that will ensure a smooth holiday experience. You can get good bargains online, but make sure that the insurance company is credible. Don’t take insurance with some no-name company simply because it is cheap. When taking the policy, read the fine print and ask as many questions as possible.

While most children are covered by their parent’s insurance policy, find out to what extent. If you have more than one child, find the limit to which your children are covered. It may make sense to pay for separate travel insurance if, for example, your health cover limits how much you can spend on health as a family. Find out this first before you travel.

Get something for everyone
Remember: you are going for a family holiday. This means that you will have many expectations to satisfy, including your own. While going for a cheese and wine festival is an exciting prospect for the grown ups, your children won’t be able to participate. Additionally, while swimming in a pool in the Caribbean will excite your children, passing up an opportunity to go snorkeling in the pristine waters might not sit well with you.
Finding family fun activities is not as easy as most think. Most of the times parents neglect their own happiness and play it simple for their children’s sake; this does not need to be the case for you. One of the easiest ways of getting this done is making sure that your children have adult supervision while you slip away to some exciting activity. If necessary, you can go on holiday with the grandparents and have them watch them while you dash. This way, you can head of snorkeling while your child is entertained elsewhere in a safe and conducive environment. Alternatively, you can look for an activity that has something for everyone, like going to watch tomato fights in Spain or a street festival in India. 

Book your family holidays with Baby Friendly Boltholes

3 Beautiful Types of Group Accommodation

Travelling in a group is a popular way to explore. Today, more than ever, it is easier to link up with like-minded people for an exciting group tour. Whether your fascination is mountaineering, photography, cheese and wine, or history, you will almost always find an interesting group somewhere heading out for an adventure. You can always just plan with close friends and family for a special getaway. Here are some fabulous accommodation arrangements suitable for large groups.

Luxury Cottages
These fabulous cottages come in different shapes, sizes, and feels to them. This depends on which part of the world you are in. Some are renovated farm houses, others specially built cottage houses, and others are restored manors. These houses are beautiful, filled with unique character, and have some exciting facilities. Depending on your budget, you can enjoy facilities such as saunas, swimming pools, satellite TV, and high speed internet.

Another interesting feature of luxury cottages is the self-catering option. The flexibility and cost savings this introduces is great. If you love to cook, it can be exciting to go shopping in local markets, sample fresh food, and whip up extraordinary dinners. Alternatively, you can hire a local chef to treat you to delicious local delights and save you the hassle of kitchen duties.

Renovated Castle
For a truly royal experience, why not try renting out a castle as a group. If you have ever fancied a classic retreat experience, then a renovated castle is the ultimate in group accommodation. This is especially so if you are in a very large group: about 30 and above guests. However, you can find castles willing to cater for as few as 16 guests. Of course the design and amenities will vary depending on the country. Additionally, these are usually concentrated in European countries with rich royal histories like France and England. While the prices may seem daunting, when you break it down to the individual costs, then the prices ultimately end up being much better.

Castle grounds offer beautiful locations for social events. So if you are having a company retreat, or looking for the perfect wedding venue, this would work out fine. Depending on your budget, you can expect to have stately lunches, big teas, lavish rooms, and butlers on beck and call. In the evening, you can have your dinners set out overlooking beautiful night landscapes, before retiring to rooms fit for royalty.

Ski Chalets
Group skiing has never been more convenient. Take a retreat into the beautiful Alps and put up at a ski chalet. Ski chalets today have more to offer than ever before, especially for family accommodation.
If you are travelling with children or infants, you now have the option of getting free child amenities that can help cut down on travelling luggage. From baby prams, bibs, bottles, and even potties, a family friendly chalet will have them all.

For luxury travel, dent your budget a little and experience unrivaled hospitality up on the mountains. From helicopter airport transfers, custom off-piste experience, concierge services, and world-class personal chef, the experience will leave you pampered and spoiled. 

Book your group accommodation at www.house-parties.co.uk

Dubai: Battling For Attention In The Land Of the VIP

Dubai has made its mark in the world, not only as a centre for lucrative businesses but for unrivalled world class luxury and extravagant living.  In Dubai expect royal treatment and pampering in the wide array of boutique hotels, 5 star luxury hotels and resorts that battle for your attention. The hidden truth beneath the VIP treatment is that you get to spend like a VIP, but all in all at the end of the day it will be well worth it. So get your credit card loaded up, and lets start touring.

The Burj Al Arab
This astonishing architectural ingenuity will automatically blow your mind. It was created to express the culture of sailing in dhows or a simply an eye catching icon, it is truly creativity of the highest nature. It resembles a massive billowing sail. If the outside is that impressive, the best is yet to come. Inside, it offers unparalleled sophistication, with some of the world’s most expensive interior designs. It is built on an artificial island offshore Jumeirah Beach hotel. Enjoy a great evening high above the waves in the Sky View Bar.

The Royal suite is literally decorated with marble and gold floors, and a great view to the booming city of Dubai. With reception on each floor, personal butler for each room, uniquely designed heli-pad, along with Rolce Royce chauffer services, it is little wonder that this is arguably the world’s best hotel.

Jumeira Beach Hotel
Consistent with Dubai’s VIP trend comes this extravagant beach hotel. Its striking wave like design makes it one of the most recognizable icons of Dubai.

The suits are beautifully designed, each with its own unique character. You will indeed be spoilt for choice as you pick out from these luxury facilities. There are numerous leisure activities available for all, from unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park, scuba diving centers to Sinbad Kids Club. That is without mentioning the delicious menu, attentive staff, and gratifying pampering available.

Madinat Jumeira
The extensive landscape, canal style water-ways, delightfully furnished rooms with private balconies is the definition of Madinat Jumeirah. There is a wide array of suites to choose from apart from the splendid view of the gulf waters and a 2 kilometer private beach to take in the Arabic sun in style.

Explore the neat gardens, the Al Qasr Hotel and the Mina Al Salaam, both boutique hotels captured within this breathtaking complex. Experience true Arabic culture in the Souks within the building; every new corner will expose a new and exciting view of Dubai.

Dubai Mall
Finally a trip to Dubai is not complete without an out of this world shopping experience at the mother of all malls: the Dubai Mall.

This is the place where all rules of shopping do not apply, the only place in the world that actually hosts a shopping festival. This is the home of luxurious shopping, exotic entertainment and numerous restaurants that offer the best of Arabic cuisine. Discover shopping in style in over 1200 retail outlets and view the panoramic aquarium which is home to over 3000 species. It is truly a maze, true shoppers paradise.

 Visit Dubai with Dubai Holidays

A Holiday with a Difference: The Delights of Group Travel

Travelling can be an exciting affair, or an exercise in futility, depending on where you are going and who you are with. Truth be told, the world is not just about sights, it is more about people. That is why group travel has so much appeal to it. Here are some of the reasons why group travel is such a delight.

When you are visiting a new place, it can be quite a task adjusting. Travelling with a group ensures that you always have like-minded people around you who can appreciate what you see. Group travel has evolved to the point of having themed groups, depending on your interests. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you can easily find a group that shares your interests. They certainly won’t be bothered by long treks, cave exploring, rock climbing, and other activity based tours. A wine themed tour ensures that you have people around you who understand wine vocabulary, and can appreciate the connoisseur elements of wine. The fact that you share a common interest makes it easy for you to bond and have fun. Long boring trips are filled in with long, scintillating conversations.

It is a fact: travelling in groups is cheaper. Whether you are negotiating for meals, accommodation, and travel, when you are a group, you always have greater bargaining power. Hotels and B&Bs will very likely give you significant discounts if you are travelling as a group, especially during low season. Booking in advance helps cut these costs even further. Arrange for your meals and accommodation in advance; that will help you secure the discounts better. You can get bonus meals, airport pick-ups, and even avoid custom queues when in groups.

3       Security
While we certainly don’t anticipate security problems on the road, they sometimes do happen. However, when you are in a group, these incidents tend to be isolated. What’s more, if there is an accident or incident, being in a group means that you will be catered for much faster. In case of theft or loss of money or documents, a group will be very helpful in getting you assistance.

4       Convenience
Today’s interconnected world allows us to communicate much more effectively. If you are searching for a group that is like-minded, a simple search on websites such as myTC can help you find the perfect match. As stated above, you will enjoy your travel experience much more if you are with like-minded travellers. Also, such company can be an invaluable source of tips, suggestions, and travel advice. If you are travelling for the first time to a certain area, you can ask the more experienced members for advice. They will be more than happy to answer your questions on cost, visa arrangements, as well as help you understand other requirements. Since you most likely share the same interests, they can help create an exciting itinerary. If you were travelling alone, you would have to source this information alone, quite a task. 

Organise your group trip with Going 4 Travel

Exploring Bhutan: The Land of The Thunder Dragon

The thunderous natures of the storms that originate from the Himalayas have earned Bhutan the name, the land of the dragons. The rich culture, radiant snow capped mountains, lush green valleys, magical rural landscapes and historical monasteries and monuments draw the curious attention of esteemed explorers to Bhutan. The best way to explore this extra ordinary land is by trekking its vast landscape.

Hiking The Bhumthang Valley
These cascading lush green valleys are popular and have a magnificent landscape. Fill your lungs with fresh mountain air as you admire the beauty of the stunning sceneries. The Paro valley is normally the starting point. Here, visit the National Museum stocked with prized artifacts and an incredible collection of silverware and Bhutanese art.

Also, see the legendary Taksang Monastery also known as home to the Tigers Nest. It is believed that a Mahayan Buddhist arrived to this monastery on a tigress over a millennium ago. Explore the mystical legends surrounding this historic monument.

A tour is incomplete without exploring the capital of Bhutan, this fascinating kingdom that keeps its values is amazing. Imagine a place where even street lamps do not exist for such a simple reason; conserving the natural environment.

The attractions in Thimphu range from the splendid Dzongs like the Trashi Cchoe Dzong that seamlessly fit with the views of the pristine banks of Wang Chhu River. It holds the city’s most colorful parties and royal festivities. See artisans at work at the Royal Goldsmith Workshop and the Handicraft emporium famed for weaving, wood carvings and paintings.

The Sunday markets are bustling with activities along both banks of the Wang Chhu River: a stunning collection of stalls selling local products, an authentic Bhutanese experience. Wander around these stalls and fill your nostrils with the aroma of natural spices, dried fish, red rice and homemade cheese.

Plunge into Bhutan’s art scene at Voluntary Arts Studio, you may chat with professional artists as well as witness instructors teaching art lessons to Bhutanese students. Artistic products are also sold here.

Punakha Dzong
This used to be an old Capital of Bhutan, and lies on the lowlands and surrounded by spectacular tropical forests. Punakha Dzong has stood the test of time, glacier floods and fire. It is a mighty fortress that stands majestically between two rivers and was built in 1637. If you happen to visit in February you get to witness a remarkable procession in commemoration of a hard won victory over the Tibetans.

In these spectacular lowlands, you will catch a glorious view of the highest Mountain in Bhutan: the Mount Gangar Punsum and have an eastern view of the Himalayas.

You can take a break in the Gangtey Gompa valley where there are numerous monks’ quarters and meditation centers. The seriousness of the Bhutanese in conserving the environment is astonishing, there are no electric or telephone lines. This is also a spectacular destination for bird watching activities and is home to the rare Black Necked Cranes that migrate from Tibetan plateaus to escape harsh winter climate.

Travel to Bhutan with Ampersand Travel