Based in Lichfield

Anna Farmer

It's Nice To Meet You

Hello and thank you for visiting my web-page.

I live in the beautiful cathedral city of Lichfield with my husband and our little boy.

I am celebrating my 20th year as a travel consultant this year! I enjoy creating bespoke itineraries and adventure holidays. I can arrange anything from a round-the-world trip to a city break in Europe, whether you are flying for business or pleasure.

Put simply, I love my job as travel is my passion. I use my first hand travel experiences to help inspire and make suggestions to enhance your trip. This could include but is not limited to flights, hotel reservations, bespoke and group touring, rail journeys, cruises, self-drives, city breaks, honeymoons, safari, ski, round the world itineraries, package holidays and private villas. I also book group travel; hen and stag weekends, school trips and incentive travel. I also arrange bespoke trips around the UK for those who want a stay-cation.
If you are celebrating a special event; engagement, landmark birthday, honeymoon, babymoon then I can make your stay even more special with planned events and perhaps something special in your room upon arrival. I can even help you set up a proposal, for my last clients it was on a private beach in the Maldives, thankfully she said yes!

Travel has been a huge part of my life since the age of 18 when I undertook a road-trip around Eastern Europe. I have not looked back since and have been fortunate enough to have visited over 70 countries. I also lived and worked in San Francisco for four years which has given me valuable insight not just into the city but California and Western USA as a whole.

Some of my most memorable travel experiences are; hiking in the Himalayas, sky-diving in New Zealand, camping out in the wilderness of Namibia, travelling overland from Peru to Argentina, self-drives across the States, taking in the culture in Japan, watching wildlife in both Africa and Yellowstone National Park, living on a yoga ashram in India, a helicopter ride over the Na Pali coast in Hawaii, getting married on the Amalfi Coast, meeting the gentle people of Burma, watching a Hawksbill sea turtle lay her eggs on a beach in the Seychelles and relaxing in luxury in an over-water villa in the Maldives.

For your peace of mind everything you book with me is financially protected by the unique Travel Counsellors Financial Trust and ATOL cover. These days travel planning can be fraught with regulations from what forms you need to fill out, what Covid tests you may or may not need, and passport validity. Why not sign off all the hassle to me? Then all you have to do is pack your bags!

I am passionate about travel and my intention is to pass this on and encourage you to explore the world and experience different cultures. Whatever your travel requirements I’ll be delighted to help and I look forward to hearing from you so that I can plan your next adventure, wherever that may be...

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Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:

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An ode to travel...

4/11/2021

It's been a while since we've had the freedom to travel and tick off those bucket list trips, here's to the future!

My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Back-packing trip around Italy

17 June 2022

Another postponed holiday due to Covid meant we were taking our ten year Wedding Anniversary trip a year late. We got married in Italy and wanted to go back and explore more! The Cinque Terre had been on my travel wish list for years, located a short train ride away from Pisa, these 5 towns are all linked together by rail and boat (or foot if you’re intrepid and have sturdy walking shoes) and easily visited in a couple of days. You can base yourself in La Spezia and take the train from there but what’s much better is basing yourself in one of the towns: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola or Riomaggiore as once the day-trippers disappear it’s much quieter. If you’ve ever seen Pixar’s move ‘Luca’ you will instantly recognize these towns, a higgledy-piggledy bunch of villages, impossibly built into the cliffs, where farmers grow grapes and olives on the terraced hillsides; they say if they didn’t the whole lot would disappear into the sea! We chose Monterosso as our base as it’s the only one with a proper beach. Our six year old delighted in taking the train in-between towns (each journey takes no longer than 5 minutes) and exploring each one which has it’s own distinct atmosphere. We took the boat for one journey to mix it up and we saw people kayaking between towns which gives a different perspective. This was our first backpacking trip with our child and wanted to show him how you can travel in-between places. We were on a tight schedule so pre-planned it all but I love the endless possibility of a back-packing trip! To quote Dr Seuss; ‘Oh, The Places you can go!’ We took the train to Florence with a couple of hours stop in Pisa (there is a luggage storage at the station) to see the famous leaning tower and sample the gelato! Onto Florence which is a stunning city, with so much culture you could spend days in just the museums, but we passed on this and spent two day’s wandering around, eating gelato, walking the Ponte Vecchio (a medieval stone bridge with shops built along) and climbing Giotto’s clock tower at the Duomo, with over 400 steps it gives an amazing views of the city, that literally take your breath away. We managed to find the statue of the boar and placed a coin in his mouth, gave his nose a rub and bingo that means you’re going to visit again. Good job at the leather handbags stores are far too tempting! It was then time to travel down to the Amalfi coast. We loved taking the FrecciaRossa (Red Arrow) high speed train between Florence and Salerno which took around 3 hours, we travelled business class which gave wider seats with more legroom and refreshments, it was a comfortable ride that passed quickly. We then took the ferry from Salerno to Positano which was scenic and got a great view of the landscape, mountains reaching up into the clouds and towns built into the hillside, similar to the Cinque Terre but on steroids! We love the Amalfi coast; Positano was the setting for our wedding in 2011 and we hadn’t visited since. We were surprised how busy it had got, not sure if this is down to a post pandemic rush or if the popularity in drones and the Instagram generation putting this place firmly on the map. There was a heatwave when we arrived (36 degrees) which gave a feeling to how it must be in high summer. If you like it hot visit late June through August. If you’d rather avoid the heat then travel April-May or September-October. John Steinbeck once wrote: ‘ Positano bites deep. It’s a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone’. He was right, you have to go to see what he means. We spent our days swimming in the sea and took a day trip to Capri. Once the ferry drops you off it’s a funicular railway up-to Capri town, remember to pre-purchase your tickets before you start queuing. We then took the bus to Anacapri which was exciting in itself, going high up into the mountains with lots of switch-backs. You then take a chairlift to the top and the views are stunning. We had visited Pompei, Amalfi, Ravello and Sorrento on previous trips but they are all great days out possible from Positano. There is the famous ‘Walk of the Gods’ which is a 4 mile walk in the mountains with coastal views all along. We decided against it as it was far too hot, you have to leave a reason to return! We then took the short ferry trip to Naples and had a night here before we flew home. We ate gelato, and their famous wood-fired pizza (which was invented there) at ‘da Michele’, for 5 Euro you’ll eat the most authentic, tastiest pizza there is. We walked the cobbled streets and took in the atmosphere. It’s a gritty city and has so much history, it’s one of the oldest in Europe. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, if you like polished then give it a miss, if you love to get up close and personal with how the locals live, neighbours chatting over balconies hanging out their underwear strung up between buildings then this is the place to come! If you want me to create your next back-packing adventure then get in touch (back-packs optional you can take a suitcase and still do this trip!). For more photos and to follow my adventures, see my Instagram: annafarmer.travelcounsellors

Girls trip to Ibiza

18 May 2022

It was a girl’s weekend away to Ibiza, originally planned for 2020, but due to Pandemic had been cancelled twice, first world problems I know! The silver lining was that 2 of my friends also had their landmark birthday’s whilst we waited so it turned into a triple celebration! Ibiza, or Eivissa as it’s known in Catalan, had been on my travel radar for some 20+ years, being so close to the UK it always got put off as far flung destinations seemed preferable. I can safely say it was well worth the wait! Obviously, a large reason to travel to Ibiza is to party, there are a plethora of nightclubs. bars and restaurants to choose from so you could easily indulge and catch up with sleep in the day (or when you get home as there are all day parties too) . I argue there is SO much more to the White Island than party party party. If you travel before May and after September it will be quieter as the clubs close and party goers then leave the island. We stayed on Playa D’en Bossa beach, a lovely stretch of white sand just south of Ibiza town. Our home was the 4 star Torre Del Mar, a great hotel which had recently had a refurb. The rooms, restaurant, staff, spa, and pool were all brilliant and ticked all our boxes. We chose to go B&B as there were so many local restaurants we wanted to try out, (although the Paella at the hotel was hard to beat) like ‘Locals Only’ in Ibiza town, as the name suggests it isn't only for locals and welcomes all, the food was typically Spanish and not a chip in sight! This is what we did; Took a 14km hike along beaches and through the pine forests, stopping off to cool down (and drink the Sangria) at little beach bars on the way. Seeing the famous defence towers that are located along the coast (Pirate watch towers). We shopped until we dropped in Ibiza Town and walked the walls of Dalt Vila, the fortified old town, the views are incredible! We watched the sunset from the terrace at Café Del La Mar. It was an almost spiritual experience where everyone just sat and watched the sun sink into the sea on the horizon with the backdrop of chilled out music. We partied at the legendary Pikes, for their Saturday night House party- we had a fantastic time! This is where Wham filmed their ‘Club Tropicana’ video, if the walls could talk they could tell you some stories! It all went on here in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The service, food, drinks and atmosphere and entertainment were brilliant. We hired a speedboat which took us out to the beautiful beach at Cala Bassa, we had a brilliant few hours, diving into the turquoise sea and working on the tan whilst drinking wine. There was just about time on our last day to enjoy the hotel pool and time to plan our next trip out! Next time it’s to the North of the island and over to Formentera, a small island located to the south, the beaches are supposed to be amazing! And go on maybe an all night party next time! If you want me to arrange your girls/boys/mixed/your weekend away then please get in touch!

Isles of Scilly family holiday

09 September 2021

Located 28 miles off the Cornish coast lie the Isles of Scilly. The archipelago is made up of 140 islands, only 5 of which are inhabited. The largest of them St Mary’s is your main landing point if arriving by sea or air. We chose the Scillonian ferry, taking 2.45 hours from Penzance quite comfortably. It is known to get choppy so if you have a tendency for sea-sickness then my advice is to fly. Skybus flights depart Newquay, Exeter and Lands’ End (or you can splurge and take the helicopter from Penzance which takes just 15 mins) Although still part of Cornwall, these wild islands feel a world away. Unspoilt and naturally beautiful, each island has its’ own character and feel. It was fun finding our favourite one. The main islands are; St.Marys, Tresco, St.Agnes, Bryher and St.Martins. We chose to stay on the main island St.Mary’s and take day trips from there. Nothing is too far away the island measuring just 3 x 2 miles. Forget about bringing your car here, leave it back on the mainland. Modes of transport are golf buggies and bikes which you hire and good old shank’s pony. Daily ferry’s depart St Mary’s (times advertised that morning as dependent on tides) to the other islands, no need to pre-book. Just make a note of your last departure back which is usually around 5pm. They do have supper boats that bring you back on certain evenings so you can dine on other islands. You can opt to stay in B+B’s, hotels, apartments or sleep under canvas. We camped as wanted to give our 5 year old his first experience sleeping underneath the stars. It didn’t disappoint. St.Mary’s has a variety of restaurants, galleries, shops and pubs and even a pop up cinema during the summer months. There are plenty of lovely coastal walks and white sandy bays to explore. St. Martins, the furthest to reach (30mins) has stunning beaches and the best bakery around, it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever tasted. You can get a pair of hand-made shoes from ‘The Island Shoemaker’ and send flowers from the florist on Churchtown Farm, Scilly’s postal flower service. There are small honesty shops/stalls dotted around, that’s how they roll on the Isles of Scilly. You can also arrange a trip to snorkel with seals here which is something we have to return for when our little boy is a stronger swimmer. St.Agnes is all about rugged beauty. We enjoyed making stone towers on the beach, walking around the stone maze, exploring the different shaped rocks that define the island and tasting the Troy Town ice cream made with thanks to the St Agnes cows. The sand bar which separates St Agnes from Gugh was fun to relax on as, at certain times of the day it completely disappears making Gugh a separate island. The water around here is crystal clear and perfect for swimming and paddle-boarding. Bryher was wild, small and dotted with private little coves, we hired paddleboard and kayak and enjoyed the calm waters overlooking Cromwell’s castle on the neighbouring island; Tresco. Tresco, is the only privately- owned island, we left until our last day ended up being our favourite. Stylish with a touch of the cosmopolitan. It’s knock yourself out beautiful; amazing beaches and home to the world-famous Abbey gardens. Set in the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey you find over 20, 000 plants that won’t grow anywhere else in the UK thanks to the sub-tropical climate. We often commented on how we felt like we were in the Mediterranean. Thanks to the sub-tropical climate and looking at the crystal clear turquoise blue waters it was hard to accept you were still in the UK. You discover a slower pace of life, where people don’t lock their doors and it’s safe to leave your bikes by the roadside without need for locks. There are many honesty stalls dotted around the islands, with home crafted trinkets, home grown veg and home-made chutneys/jams for sale, you pop your money in the box or simply use pay device via a QR code scanner- don’t be fooled they’re not moving with the times! If you like wild natural beaches, coastal hikes, wildlife, star gazing and getting close to nature I can highly recommend a visit. It just needs a little careful planning which is where I come in! Contact me for more details. We have already booked our next trip!

Family holiday to the Algarve

17 September 2021

When international travel opened up on 17th May we took advantage and booked a holiday for Whit week. It had been 18 months since we were last abroad and for someone that lives and breathes travel it seemed a lifetime ago. With the introduction of the traffic light system, Portugal was the most easily accessible country to visit, plus they were accepting UK travellers. The perfect place for a post-lockdown holiday The biggest question is was it worth the hassle? I can confidently say that yes, it is! Being prepared for what you need before you travel though is essential. In our case it was a PCR test for entry into Portugal, a pre-departure test (lateral flow) 2 days before you return to the UK plus a PCR test on return to the UK. It can be an expensive affair especially for families. Hopefully the government will work over summer to bring down the cost down, making it more accessible to everyone. Manchester airport was quiet and we walked straight through security from check-in to the gate in under 3 minutes! The excitement was palpable. The flight wasn’t particularly busy and people were adhering to wearing masks and staying in their seats. I felt safe in the knowledge that every traveller had to have a negative PCR test to travel and were wearing masks and keeping their distance at the airports. We hired a car, the pick-up couldn’t have been easier, reached via a covered walkway just a 2 min walk from arrivals. We stayed in the delightful Tivoli hotel located in Carvoerio, Algarve just a 45 minute drive from Faro airport. The hotel was beautiful and set right on the cliffside overlooking the ocean. Although they were at their maximum capacity the hotel didn’t seem full and there was space to socially distance without realising you were actually making an effort. Breakfast was a different affair as it was buffet and therefore no self-service. You had to wear a mask when not sat at your table . There were orderly queues for food, which was served by a small army of staff, all wearing masks and who were super polite. We always like to go bed and breakfast so you can have choice to sample the local restaurants and bars of which we did and thoroughly enjoyed especially the Cataplana! We spent the day at ‘Slide and Splash’ the amazing water park, highly recommended for kids or the big kid in anyone. We drove East to the charming little town of Tavira and west to the town of Sagres, right on the south western tip. We loved the small town of Burgau and Falesia beach located between Albufeira and Vilamoura. Another highlight was a zodiac boat trip to see Benagil Cave, which is a beautiful sight, as sunlight streams through a hole in the top down on the beach below. Overall we loved our trip, made even better by the lack of crowds and the weather was perfect. Yes, you can have a great stay-cation in the UK but you can’t guarantee or control the weather or the crowds. I always say that a nice day abroad always beats a nice day in the UK. The culture, the people, the food, the smells, sights and sounds all renew your senses somehow. With many new rules and regulations around travel, and these rules are subject to change at little or no notice, the value of travel agents has never been greater. Clients need the reassurance of expert guidance through the process of booking a holiday.

Travel in 2020

28 December 2020

Working in the travel industry for over 18 years I have seen my fair share of travel disruptions; the SARS epidemic, Volcanic ash clouds grounding flights and airline strikes amongst others. However, this year has been an incredibly challenging one, unprecedented has been the word to describe 2020. Never before has the industry ground to a halt like this. We’ve all seen the images of stationary aircraft all over the world. I just shudder to think of all the smaller hotels worldwide that have been adversely affected by the lack of tourism, not to mention all the little businesses, restaurants, bars and cafes that rely on tourist trade for their income. There are countless places around the world that are not as fortunate to have a welfare state matching ours. We are the lucky ones. My first concern, when the travel ban was announced was to get my customers home quickly before borders closed. This is where using a travel professional to book your holiday really does move you head and shoulders past the rest of the people that think they don’t need one! I have been up way past my bedtime and in the wee hours securing seats on the last aircraft out, re-routing flights and changing hotel reservations- all sometimes before my clients in resort even realised there was a problem. I feel sorry for those clients away from home without a travel agent who were frantically trying to get through to speak to an online travel agent – the wait times were hours long. I’m confident that my clients had none of this. I’m always just a WhatsApp away. Even high street agents have closing hours, whilst I can book flights at any time of the day! It’s a no brainer. Once my clients were all safely home, my job then started to amend travel dates for my upcoming bookings and securing refunds for others. Refunds have had a lot of negative press, mainly due to how long they took to process. What wasn’t reported on is the fact that never before have airlines had to process refunds on this scale before, all with a much-reduced workload as staff were furloughed, another word of the year! I’m proud to say Travel Counsellors did top a poll that Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert completed for overall positive experience. Being self-employed I have worked all year. It was all about finding travel windows for clients that were desperate to get away. It has been a challenging year as routes were pulled last minute, flights were cancelled and entry requirements seem to change on a daily basis. It can be a minefield booking a post covid break; forms to fill in, quarantines to navigate and new rules being written by the day- that’s in addition to searching the internet for your holiday itself! Throw Brexit into the mix and it's enough to blow anyone's mind! Just hand over the lot to me and I’ll be more than happy to take care of it. Talking of travel windows, ours this year were Cornwall and Devon- included are some pretty pictures to tell the tale. It’s all about finding what you can do rather than what you can’t! I book UK breaks as well so please get in touch if you're looking at getting away closer to home.

Family holiday in Dubai

08 January 2020

The winter was upon us and sunny skies called. This time the call came from Dubai, a place I have visited a few times over the years, albeit only on a stopover en route to other destinations whilst flying with Emirates. For a short stop-over I knew it was a winner; shopping galore, world class dining, beaches and guaranteed sunshine but I wondered if it could hold my attention for longer? We were on a family holiday and travelling with our three year old meant needing a relatively short direct flight, guaranteed sunshine and minimal time difference (it’s just 3hrs). The Metropolis of Dubai has grown at an unbelievable rate, I first visited in 2006 and 13 years later is almost unrecognizable; new sky-scrapers have transformed the skyline. The standout is the Burj Khalifa ;the tallest building in the world reaching 828m into the sky. A visit to Dubai isn’t complete without a visit to the top and to see the dancing fountains that surround it, our three year old delighted in the experience. Our base was the Pullman Jumeirah Lakes hotel, located a short walk away from the Marina area. Tram and metro lines were located nearby so it was easy to get around to any part of the city; a simple thing that proved to be a winner for our transport obsessed child! The Marina offers waterfront dining and you can hire bikes to cycle off dinner and take in the ambience. We hopped on the metro down to the Creek area; the city’s historical centre to explore the gold and spice souks. You glimpse what the real Dubai was once like before they started building. Beware though you need sunglasses to walk past the gold shops; the bling is so glaring! We also took public transport to Legoland Waterpark- located quite a distance from the city but worth the journey if you have small children as it’s specifically designed for ages 2-12, as a lot of the other waterparks have height restrictions. We took the monorail onto the Palm Jumeirah, the famous man-made island home to the Atlantis Hotel, a place where in previous years we had stayed. Our destination was to The Lost Chambers, an aquarium housing hundreds of marine animals-from sharks and rays to schools of fish, our little one was amazed by the sight. Once he is older I’m sure that we will return to experience the waterpark located inside the hotel; Aquaventure. It has rapids, waterslides and is home to the ‘Leap of Faith’, a slide that plunges almost vertically straight through the aquarium. Floating down the lazy river is a great way to spend an afternoon. Having a three year old curtails retail therapy, but if that’s your reason for visiting then you’ll won’t be disappointed. Dubai is also a good place to buy diamonds so if you’re planning a proposal then why not let your betrothed design their own ring-it only takes a matter of days to make. If you are planning this then mention it to me when booking as I can help set up a proposal and put you in contact with the right people. After 4 nights in the city, some quiet time was needed so we hopped in a taxi and just an hour away is Ras Al Khaimah, one of the UAE’s seven Emirates. It’s a quieter, more low-key affair with the backdrop of mountains instead of sky-scrapers. The beach here is perfect white sand and the sea perfectly calm for swimming and for little ones to play in. Our base was the opulent Waldorf Astoria, a beachfront hotel that was originally built by a Sheikh to be a palace. There is a fountain in the lobby and corridors wide enough for a heard of elephants to pass through. They treat children like royalty in this hotel, your little ones can be little hoteliers for the day (why not to put them to work? You paid for the holiday!) thanks to the Waldorf’s unique programme where 8-13 year olds get a chance to work in the hotel complete with uniform and name badge. The food at the hotel was amazing and there was so much choice; healthy and not so; donuts and chocolate pancakes for breakfast, scoop your own ice cream and chocolate fondue for dinner, our little boy didn’t want to leave. We even had home-made ice lollies delivered to our sun beds around the pool. The perfect mix of city and beach coupled with very little jet-lag and guaranteed sunshine meant that the UAE can really offer a lot, desert experiences are also worth doing if you’re interested. Contact me for more details.

Things to see and do in California

01 November 2019

California conjures up images of constant sunshine, surfing, an easy laid-back lifestyle, happiness and living the American dream. Of course, it has all of this in bucket-loads but also hides a lot of secrets not apparent to the first-time visitor. A question I constantly get asked is: ‘Where is the best place to go?’ My answer, without hesitation is the USA; California specifically, it has everything; beaches, mountains, ski resorts, lakes, forests, rivers, deserts, National Parks, cities, amazing food & wine and shopping to rival NYC. It covers all bases whatever your interests are I can recommend something to enthral you. How long have you got? My advice is to take longer than 2 weeks if you are able, that way you can really delve into the State, it’s big at 163,700 square miles (the UK is 93,600 sq. miles). The most popular way to get around is to self-drive, it’s your choice; Motorhome, convertible, 4WD or Harley Davidson. There’s always coach and rail if you don’t fancy driving. Driving distances are deceptively long, especially to us Brits; from North to South it takes around 15 hours to drive non-stop on the Interstate, needless to say I wouldn’t recommend this! However long you have I can tailor-make a trip that incorporates what you want to see and do. What to do? It really depends upon what your interests are and what you want to see. Love beaches? You are spoilt for choice, start with Huntington beach, where surfing was created, and why not have a surfing lesson? Prefer your beaches empty and atmospheric? Just north of San Francisco they are wild! Ever wanted to climb a mystical volcano? Visit Mount Shasta, the second largest volcano in the USA, believed to be one of the earth’s energy vortex centres. Visit the hottest place on earth in Death Valley. Ski, hike or rock climb in epic landscapes. Cycle over Golden Gate bridge. Take photos to rival Ansel Adams at Yosemite National Park. Wildlife your thing? Then kayak with sea otters in Morro Bay, whale watch in Monterey and visit the world-famous aquarium there. Drive a dune buggy over the Sahara-like landscape of Oceano Dunes and relax afterwards at Pismo Beach chowing down on fresh clam chowder. Listen to the best in Rock, Pop and Indie at Coachella music festival, an open-air event which happens in April, set in the desert near Palm Springs. The night sky here is amazing! Glamp or hide out in a cute cabin in the Redwood forest near Russian River, Sonoma county and see some of the oldest trees in existence. Kayak and sunbathe along the sunny banks of the river, eat in Michelin starred restaurants or buy fresh produce at local farmers markets. Whilst there visit the nearby Napa Valley, home to the best wines in the world. Don’t want to drive? simply take the Napa Wine Train and relax in the hot springs in nearby Calistoga. Shop ‘til you drop on Rodeo drive or get bargains in outlet malls. Immerse yourself in Yoga, Meditation and Spiritual studies at the Esalen institute along the Big Sur. Visit the 21 Spanish Missions, each dotted about 30 miles apart between Sonoma and San Diego, they are beautiful old buildings erected by the Spanish between 1769-1833 as a way of gaining a foothold in the new frontier. See the famous Gay Pride festival in San Francisco. Celebrity spot in LA. Visit Universal Studios or the original Walt Disney-land in Los Angeles. Go to a baseball game in San Francisco, San Diego or Los Angeles. Indulge your inner nerd and take part in Comic-con, in San Diego which happens every July. Work out on Venice beach (AKA Muscle beach) with the locals. Shut yourself (temporarily) into a cell in the infamous Alcatraz prison just off the coast of San Francisco. The possibilities in this forward thinking State are endless. The weather here is constantly sunny, although in such a huge state it does vary. Northern California can get rainy between December and March so if you are a skier or desert lover then this is your time. San Francisco has it’s own micro climate with the famous fog that rolls in which can make summers feel like winter, best to visit this area in September or October when its warmer and has clear sunny skies. June to August is busy with holiday makers so if you prefer it quieter then try April/May or September through November. I was lucky enough to call California home for nearly 5 years, whilst here I did pretty much all of the above. So, if you want advice, have questions or want me to plan a trip of a lifetime, then please do get in touch, I love talking about California!

Twin centre Europe

26 June 2019

Having a family wedding to attend gave good reason to travel back to Budapest; a city I’ve been visiting regularly since I was a small child in the 70’s. With the removal of the Iron Curtain in 1989 certain things have obviously changed (thankfully you don’t need to go and register with the local police on arrival any longer). What I can say, is that it’s become more cosmopolitan, but the elegance and beauty still remain. Taking a toddler was perfect, as Budapest is very family friendly; plenty of open spaces and parks with fountains to run with wild abandon through, fully clothed, as only a toddler can do. Budapest is split into 2 cities; one each side of the Danube; Buda on the west banks and Pest on the east. On the hilly Buda side, you can find the Grand Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion; a picturesque terrace from which to take in the sweeping views. Pest is the flatter more modern side with wide boulevards and modern shopping. A trip to Budapest isn’t complete without a trip to the thermal baths. Whether it’s at the famous Gellert hotel, Szechenyi baths at City park or Palatinus baths on peaceful Margaret Island; a car free 2.5km long island located in the middle of the Danube river. You can watch the locals play chess whilst enjoying the thermal waters as they have chess boards built into the pool. Another must do is a visit to the Great Market Hall located near Liberty Bridge for local delicacies; my advice is to head to the back of the market for cheaper goods. My favourite is the Akacmez honey (Acacia) simply delicious! Clothing is upstairs, locally embroidered textiles are popular and very pretty. A word of warning: try the Unicum at your peril! Up in the Buda hills there is a Children’s railway where children pretty much run the show - bar drive the train of course. You can get off the train at various points and take any path by foot or bike back down to the city, there is even a small cable car giving you brilliant views of the surrounding area. There are plenty of other things to do in the city; a visit to the House of Terror (Terrorhaza); a museum about the Communist regime, not for the faint hearted. The Jewish museum, Memento Park; an open-air museum full of statues from the Communist era, a tour around the Parliament building and you can just spend hours in Art Nouveau style cafes eating cakes so beautiful you have to photograph them first. Or if bars are your thing check out the Ruin pubs, the coolest pubs in the city. If you are looking for a day out of the city, I can recommend taking the boat along the Danube to Szentendre, an artist’s community just north of Budapest. We wanted to stretch our city break and take in another country, with our 3-year-old in mind we though it easier to take a flight so we chose Italy. It was a short hour and a half flight to Bergamo over the alps and an hour’s drive from there to southern Lake Garda. We stayed at the Poiana Resort near the town of Garda. Perfect for families with its play area and huge pool it was a great base from which to discover the delights of the lake. We went on a bed and breakfast basis so that we could sample the local restaurants. There are boats departing regularly to any point on the lake, of which Sirmione was a real highlight. We swam in the lake, ate endless ice cream and drank the stunning local Bardolino wine. You can easily take day trips to the Dolomites, Venice, Verona and Milan from Garda. Having a little one we thought Verona would be the best as it wasn’t too far. Driving was easy but beware there are lots of toll roads. We visited Juliet’s house and the famous balcony and walked along Ponte Pietra; the oldest bridge in the city. We missed out on Opera at Arena di Verona (impressive Roman Amphitheatre) so will just have to return! If you want to stretch your city break to give you more then get in touch and I'd be happy to tailor-make your next trip!

Christmas spirit in Bruges

17 December 2018

I’d been meaning to visit Bruges for many years but being so close to home meant I’d put it off until now. After only a 3-hour train ride from St Pancras we found ourselves in the Venice of the North -Birmingham take a back seat. This medieval paradise has an enchanting atmosphere; canals, cobbled streets, gothic architecture and Christmas markets, if you time it right. Bruges is a UNESCO protected city meaning that every building must remain unchanged from its’ original gothic state. Within a few minutes of walking around you find yourself oohing and aahing at the architecture and pretty canals. Two nights is perfect for a quick break; it doesn’t do it justice to try and see it all in a day, you need an evening to experience the atmosphere properly once all the day-trippers have gone home and the city takes on a different feel. We snacked on frites, moules (mussels), waffles and chocolate; we drank Gluhwein and lots of beer- well it would be a sin to miss out on the local specialities. Although it was hard to choose between the 200 listed beers on the menu, we sampled a few (honey and lavender was a favourite) and on our way home passed a bar that had over 2000 beers on the menu, stupidly we felt like we’d missed out! There are many churches in Bruges and it’s hard to choose which ones to visit when you’re on a short time scale but St.Salvator’s cathedral is pretty amazing, it dates back to the 10th Century and has amazing art work inside. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a 14th Century church that holds a vial of ‘holy blood’ believed to be drops of blood washed from the body of Christ, which is shown to the public on certain days of the week. The church itself has a richly decorated façade and inside doesn’t disappoint either; the chapel upstairs is filled with murals and stained-glass windows. There were museums we missed; The Groeninge which give you an introduction to Brugian Art and the Memling museum which houses relics and religious paintings. The Alms houses located on the edge of the city and also the Minnewater; a quiet lake with walkways around would have been peaceful places to go. There’s only one thing for it, plan another visit! There are always those 1990 beers we didn’t have time to sample.

Disneyland, Paris

22 November 2018

They promised magic and they delivered in a way only Walt Disney can; they do it so well. Even if you don’t ‘do’ cheesy, you can’t help but be amazed. It was only November 13th, but Christmas was in full swing; with Christmas themed parades, songs, fake snow, elves, Santa himself pulled on a giant sleigh and a 60ft Christmas tree with no less than 1800 decorations – I can only imagine the disappointment in my little boy’s face when we put our tree up at home; thanks for that one Disney. We chose to stay at the Village Nature resort (not a naturist in sight!) owned by Centre Parks with an eco-conscious theme; it reminded me of those trendy Scandinavian housing schemes. You get around the large resort on bikes, cars are banned but they do have electric shuttle buses to hop on. Apartments have kitchens with dishwashers, microwaves, coffee machines, toasters and hobs so that you can self-cater, there is a supermarket on site and restaurants if you can’t be bothered to cook. They have enough there to keep you entertained for a few days; tree climbing trails, an amazing water-park with giant water slides and a lazy river, a bowling alley, an educational farm, a vegetable garden with hands-on workshops for children, pony rides and a giant soft play. It really is the place to go for families or if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle of Disney as is only a 20min bus ride away. The park itself was lots of fun with rides for all ages. We didn’t feel the need to buy Fast-passes, but I would recommend getting them for busy times like school holidays. There is choice of what seemed like hundreds of restaurants; counter fast food service meals for quick and easy meals, all-you-can- eat buffet restaurants and table service restaurants. I’d say if you want to eat healthy then go for the buffet or table service, but pre-booking is essential to save on the queues! The majority of travellers at the park were families with pre-school children but there were a lot more adult-only groups than I would have guessed, proving the magic isn’t just for children but for the big kid inside of everyone. Disney now have an app which I’d highly recommend downloading as this gives you wait times for rides plus you can book your table for dinner on there too. A must if you have children is to pre-book a Disney dining experience, whether it be with Disney Princesses or Mickey and friends, it’s worth it to see their faces light up with magic-priceless! We’re planning our next trip already. If you have any questions or are thinking of going please get in touch.

A short weekend in Stockholm

08 October 2018

What better excuse is there for a girl's weekend away than visiting a friend who had recently relocated to Stockholm? To be honest my knowledge of Sweden was limited to Vikings, Ikea, home of Abba and Meatballs (courtesy of Ikea!) I thought it was about time that changed. After a short 2.5hr flight we landed in the land of lakes (Sweden has 95,700 of them). Stockholm Central is connected to Arlanda International airport via a very efficient train ride which glides past forests, it’s hard to imagine you are about to end up in the middle of the city. I soon learnt that Sweden is the land of gender equality; parental leave has replaced maternity leave, so you see a lot of dads with their babies, its rather refreshing. Sweden has a population of 10 million where 1 in 4 people are under 20, I think you can feel this in the capital’s atmosphere; it’s fresh and exciting with a real buzz. We started off with a drink (well rude not to) and it wasn’t as expensive as I’d first imagined but hang onto your ideas of going here for a drunken weekend. The drink culture is nothing like in the UK, possibly down to the cost but it seems they have a bigger appetite for the great outdoors and family life. Talking of appetites, the restaurants here are incredible; there is a 3 Michelin starred restaurant here called Frantzen that I can’t tell you about but what I can tell you is that fish stew in the city was the best I’ve ever eaten. I visited the Vasa Museum, which housed a 17th Century warship, it sank in 1628 and after being perfectly preserved on the seabed in the freezing Baltic waters it was raised back to the surface in 1961. It was the called the biggest jigsaw puzzle in the world to recreate but the results are stunning, you must see it to believe the size and craftmanship involved. A visit to Stockholm wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the ABBA museum to pay homage to the great pop group, it was interesting hearing the stories on how the band was formed and the inspiration their home country had on their writing. You even get to sing karaoke, dance onstage alongside ABBA holograms and make your own ABBA music video. What’s not to love? There wasn’t time to visit Skansen; the open-air museum which gives an in-site of how Swedes used to live, however we did get to walk around Gamla Stan which is the old area of the city; through cobbled streets, down narrow alleyways and past colourful architecture, galleries, churches, museums, eateries, bars and shops. Our time was over way too fast, but Stockholm gave me a great taster and next time I’ll plan to go a little further afield to see what the rest of the country has to offer....

Travelling with a very active 2 year old!

15 June 2018

The very thought of taking an eight-hour flight with a 2-year-old in tow would make many people wonder if the holiday is worth it in the first place! With some careful planning, I must say the flight wasn’t as bad as I’d first imagined; we took some new toys, sticker and colouring books, a favourite blanket and soft toys and the rest of the space in the ‘Trunkie’ was packed full with snacks. Oh, and an iPad loaded with enough Peppa Pig episodes to send you (and everyone else in your vicinity) around the bend. I once spoke to an American lady who frequently travelled with her young children and she had one piece of advice for me, ‘Honey, as soon as you board have a large G+T – that way you won’t care about the comments other travellers are making about your child’s behaviour’. Good advice! As our flight departed Gatwick at 10.30am we decided to stay the previous night at the Hilton hotel, located a short walk from departures. Such a relaxing way to start your holiday. The car is dropped off on arrival, so all’s left to do the next morning is wake up, have breakfast and go drop the bags as we had checked in on-line the day before. Once through security, the South Terminal has a small soft play centre. So, forget any self- indulgent duty-free shopping, instead we decided to tire our little one out by jumping and chasing him around. We waited to board until fairly late, as the less time in a confined space the better. We also kept the buggy and pushed it right to the gate just in-case we needed it. Antigua was our destination, an island known for having 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. We didn’t have time to testify but chose to stay in two different hotels located opposite sides of the island to get a good overview. We chose Blue Waters, a family owned property located in the North West of the island just a 15-minute transfer from the airport (important after a lengthy flight). Set in 70 acres of manicured gardens, this hotel was a winner for families. It had a kid’s club and a crèche, along with three pools (one adult only) and shallow waters for the little ones to play safely. We had a deluxe beachfront room with a terrace so our little one could nap as we sat out on our terrace within earshot. The second hotel was Carlisle Bay located in the south of the island on a stunning bay with the backdrop of the rainforest. We had beachfront suite with a separate bedroom for the little one, it gave us direct access to the beach and again it had perfect shallow waters, a crèche/kid’s club which gave us time to spend together and unwind. Antigua is a beautiful laid-back rustic island, a visit to Shirley Height’s on a Sunday is a must for a Caribbean street party; enjoy a rum punch whilst listening to a live steel band overlooking English Harbour for sunset, the views are incredible. Our only other excursion was a visit to ‘Sting-Ray City’, a sandbank located a short speedboat ride away from the coast, where you can hand feed wild Sting Ray’s in their natural habitat. These animals are incredibly gentle and it was a thrill spending time with them.

Travelling with a baby

15 June 2018

Our first overseas holiday with our baby and we choose Barbados as it ticked a lot of boxes; a direct flight, some tropical October heat, a family friendly hotel, and being outside of school holidays. In October 2016 we travelled to the Colony Club, a hotel on the popular Platinum West Coast of Barbados, a beautiful stretch of sand with shallow waters that attract both Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles. We stayed in a Pool/Garden View Junior Suite which offered extra space for the crib and came with a baby bath, toiletries and a bottle sterilizer. It certainly helped cut down on the amount of stuff you need to pack for a baby, especially if they are weaning, but to be honest you don’t need to think about pre-packing lots of ‘Ella’s meals’ as they had lots of choice for food. There were also a lot of intimate areas around the convoluted pool that offered shade which is essential when you have a little one. The staff were so friendly and attentive, making a lot of fuss of our little one, who didn’t stop smiling and laughing the whole time he was there. They did have a children’s club for the over 6-year olds and offered a babysitting service if you needed it. The flight was a breeze with BA offering a bassinet cot which at 7 months old he was just about big enough to fit in, it gave us our own space and extra legroom as a bonus. My tip is to feed your little ones for take-off and landing, that way, they don’t have ear pressure issues. It’s relatively easy travelling with a baby under 1 as they usually are not that mobile and generally tend to stay where they are put! We pre-arranged a transfer upon arrival which included a fast track immigration service, so we were in our private car within 15 minutes of landing. Barbados has a lot more to offer than just beaches. Golf courses, spas, rum distilleries, historic homes, duty free shopping, street parties, a cave system over a mile long, the UNESCO world heritage site of Bridgetown and some incredible restaurants. To see a bit more of the island, we chose to do a catamaran snorkelling trip around the South West coast. Safety and comfort was a priority for us, so we checked there was enough shade and space on board for baby Farmer. Once satisfied, we packed our baby float which he could securely fit and off we sailed. It was a beautiful relaxed sailing and our little one enjoyed the attention while we cruised along. He didn’t know it, but he had turtles swimming just underneath him and was that relaxed he even fell asleep in his float bobbing around in the sea.

My customer stories

Sent by Sarah Morle

We have just returned from another great holiday organised by Anna. As usual Anna has looked after us with every care from the planning stage through to our return. She gives us every confidence that nothing has been missed out. We have had a great experience on the three trips that we have had with her, including long haul as well as short haul. We feel very confident that every little detail is covered and of course we will use Anna for our next trip!

Sent by Malcolm Humphries

I would certainly recommend Anna to help you with your holiday,very helpful & always available to give you advice and to guide you through.Thanks Anna we had a great cruise

Sent by Jessica Ward

Anna was absolutely fantastic with booking our trip to Sri Lanka. She made the whole thing so easy and took all of the stress away from trying to organise everything. Our hotels, flights, transfers were all sorted and anytime there was a new covid rule change on the run up to our holiday Anna got in touch with us straight away to tell us what we did or didn’t need to do. I can’t recommend her enough. I am actually in the process of booking my next holiday through Anna at the moment, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to booking it myself.

Sent by Eve Norbury

Anna was an absolute dream!!! It made booking the holiday completely stress free and everything went so smoothly! I could not recommend her enough and will definitely be using her services again on our next holiday! Thank you so much, Anna!

Sent by Deborah Hill Brookes

Used Anna for recent trip to Spain, really easy, she alleviated any possible stress organising ,everything to the last detail. Updated us about any covid regulations , taking away any anxiety. Her recommendations on accommodation was spot on & she even organised restaurant reservations & advised in things to do in & around the resort. Superb service!

Sent by Samuel Outteridge

We were recommended Anna by some family friends. We enquired about her helping us book flights to Sri Lanka and then a stay in the Maldives for our honeymoon! It’s safe to say we were blown away by her service. Following a brief chat about what we were thinking she supplied us with 5 quotes of varying price. They were all amazing so it was tricky to narrow it down. Once we picked our package the process was simple. Anna was amazing and kept us up to date with changes to COVID entry requirements and passenger locator forms etc. Anna’s help took so much stress out of planning our trip and we had an absolutely magical stay in the Maldives! We thought it was a one time trip but we’re already planning our return we were so impressed. Not only that, on our return Anna called to check we had a good time! A lovely personal touch. Safe to say we would highly recommend Anna (and already have to friends and family)! Anna is already looking into our next trip! All we can say is thank you Sam and Lorna

Sent by Mandy Howells

Anna, was extremely helpful and friendly, she offered the best options for our family holiday, I would highly recommend her, she gives the personal touch that makes your holiday special.

Sent by V Evans

Thanks to your advice and super planning we had the most amazing time in Lapland. It was really special and we made some wonderful memories. What was also incredible was your help with all the COVID forms and advice about testing. Even when we had the wrong info from our PCR testing company you stepped in and sorted it for us. Amazing service that prevented us being stuck in Finland! Can’t thank you enough and would highly recommend you to anyone planning a trip. You are in expert and safe hands with Anna!

Sent by Dawn Arnold

Anna was recommended to me by a friend when I was trying to book a trip to Lapland. I had never heard of or used a travel counsellor before but I would highly recommend Anna and use her services again. Anna has been very helpful and supportive throughout the whole process especially in recent weeks with all the travel uncertainty. Anna even hand delivered the paperwork before we travelled and answered queries when we were on our trip. Brilliant service. Thank you.

Sent by Susan Drabble

We have recently been on the Sky Princess on a cruise from Southampton around England! Docking in Glasgow and Ireland! Anna guided us through all aspects of our cruise and it was a great help to us . The whole experience has been really amazing. We can certainly recommend Travel Councilors and will definitely be booking this cruise ship again with Anna, it was a fantastic cruise ship, the welcome onboard was second to none, the food the staff , the cabin, the cleanliness were all of excellent quality .We have been on cruises before but this one was exceptional and everyone went above and beyond! We would like to thank Anna for this marvelous experience and her advice ensuring we had the best holiday we possibly could! Thank you again Anna

Sent by K Daniels

Anna is very friendly and took all the stress out of booking our trip. Highly recommend. I I’ll use her in future for all my holidays. Absolutely fantastic. Nothing seems to be too much trouble.

Sent by Rebecca Slater

I have been looking for a holiday to the Caribbean and have found Anna to be a great help. She has done loads of research on the trip and come back with various options and price points. The service she has provided is first class and I would definitely recommend to anybody planning a holiday.

Sent by J Maguire

Anna has gone above and beyond in supporting us organise a very complicated trip

Sent by R Walker

Many thanks for the great support and practical help recently on a last minute change to a flight. A great relief to know that help is at hand.

Sent by A Li

Anna's help and guidance over the years has resulted with us going on the most glorious holidays across the globe! Her knowledge and attention to detail for every holiday is first class, and regardless what type of holiday she ALWAYS delivers. Anna's professionalism and personal approach is superb. I would always recommend anyone who is seeking to get away whether for a long weekend, doing holiday or just sun and beach, Anna Farmer is your go to person

Sent by C Li

Anna is fabulous! I always recommend her to my friends, her service and support is wonderful.

Sent by L Thomas

Anna has been very helpful and love the app, great that we can go in and pay off when we want and check all the details at the touch of a button

Sent by L Mellor

Although my travel plans have been pretty last minute Anna has been brilliant. She responded very quickly to my request and came up with a travel plan that is ideal for me. Her knowledge and advice about places and hotels was invaluable too. Anna is very friendly and approachable too and as enthusiastic about my trip as I am! A true professional

Sent by P Preece

Anna is brilliant. Went above and beyond to make our trip perfect

Sent by L Clark

Anna provides an excellent service!

Sent by L Powell

Very helpful and very efficient - is able to source information quickly and accurately - and is willing to amend according to one's desires/aims and needs etc finding alternatives as appropriate. Great service - thank you

Sent by J Spry

Anna is most helpful and supportive. I know that she will continue to help me before I go on my adventure to Australia and if needed whilst I am away.

Sent by Shana Coley

Anna is always happy to help, replies quickly to emails, has been on many vacations so you will get a true reflection of many destinations.

Sent by Chris Webb

This was the first time i've ever used a Travel Counsellor and wasn't sure what to expect. Anna's service turned out to be first rate and very good value for money. I met Anna at a wedding show and decided to consult her for ideas for our honeymoon as I didn't know where to start. After weeks and probably months of discussions and looking at all sorts of places and ideas, Anna has tailored our honeymoon perfectly to our tastes and at a very good price, we can't wait! I've been very impressed with Anna and the service she provides and would recommend to all my friends and family in future. Undoubtedly i'm sure I will be using Anna again in future.

Sent by Melanie Harris

Extremely helpful and took away the stress of hunting for the perfect honeymoon! Highly recommend

Sent by Kate Geraghty

Anna was absolutely brilliant in helping me plan and book my families dream holiday to Australia! The personal touch was very much appreciated. Her knowledge of the world and what it has offer was amazing. Thank you!

Sent by June Griffith

Anna came highly recommended by a friend and we are so grateful for the introduction. This year we are celebrating two landmark birthdays and an important anniversary so we wanted a very special holiday. Nothing has been too much trouble for Anna, her impressive knowledge of the destinations has facilitated an exciting itinerary of places to visit in Sri Lanka followed by a luxury break in the Maldives. Everything has been covered and organised with great efficiency, giving us peace of mind to relax and enjoy our holiday. It has been personalised to suit our needs and preferences and we have been kept well informed every step of the way. We are now looking forward to booking more trips in the future! Thank you Anna for your care, expertise, friendliness and genuine desire to provide a first class service.

Sent by Brian Dent

Anna provided us with the holiday of our wishes within a few hours. Gave advice based upon her expert knowledge that actually made our travel plans easier. It makes the whole process of booking a holiday devoid of stress and concern. We'll make use of Anna again being our local Travel Counsellor, she was recommended to us and we in turn whole-heartedly recommend to others without reservation. The big plus you don't have to leave home to book your holiday.

Sent by Simon Rutter

From the moment we decided that we wanted something special for our 2018 holiday there was only one person in our minds to help us. Anna has a vast wealth of knowledge and has been able to use this to make suggestions based on our personal requirements. She has worked wonders to find us the perfect mix of culture and relaxation and has left no stone unturned. Every detail has been meticulously planned from departure through to excursions and even booking restaurants for us. You will not get a more personal service anywhere, Anna is there for you every step of the way and works tirelessly to ensure you are completely satisfied with your booking. We cannot wait for our holiday now and all this has been made possible without us even leaving our house. Anna, we cannot thank you enough.

Sent by Marcianne Barton-Smith

Anna is a truly wonderful Travel Counsellor who listens, is patient, adapts and makes cracking suggestions to enhance a trip! She can bring great focus on detail which is vital on an extended trip especially and is delightfully creative too. I wish I could win the lottery and travel much more benefitting from Anna's expertise.

Sent by Alison Watkins

We first met Anna about ten years ago when she organised a trip to Australia for us. This was to be the first of many wonderful trips around the world she has arranged for us. We have, always, found Anna to be extremely knowledgeable about all the countries, resorts and hotels which we have visited. Anna is very friendly, enthusiastic and efficient; and we have no hesitation in recommending her.

Sent by Graham Harrison

I have used Anna on numerous occasions over the last 7 years to book long haul travel and she has always done a great job for me. I have received very helpful advice and found it to be very reliable and every trip went according to plan. She is very knowledgeable and nothing has been too much trouble I have no hesitation to highly recommend her to other travellers.

Sent by Christine Kenny

Anna took great care of us when planning this trip for me and my niece and nephew. She covered every detail, right down to the driving maps for our road trip, and was reachable, professional, and clearly listened to what I wanted and delivered on it perfectly. I normally do my own trip planning but I may be convinced that this is the way forward since Anna made it so easy for me to enjoy every bit of our trip. I can't recommend her highly enough.

Sent by Lynne Mackinnon

Anna has been very patient with our inability to make decisions quickly! Her advice and experience has been extremely helpful in turning a dream trip into reality. Looking forward to continuing to work with her to finalise our trip to NZ.