Based in Nottinghamshire

Leia Morales

Available for new enquiries

Looking for help with your business travel? Find out how I can help here

It's Nice To Meet You

Hello, my name is Leia and I am excited to be your local Travel Counsellor based in Ruddington, Nottinghamshire.

After 10 years of working for a High Street Tour Operator specialising in Long Haul Travel, I took the plunge to become a Travel Counsellor in 2020. Despite everything that has happened in the last 2 year it has been the best decision for me. I love being able to offer a personal service to my customers which means they get looked after from initial enquiry right through to a phone call on their arrival home.

I love everything about travel but my background is in long haul tailormade travel, so anything where you want to get off the beaten track, or visit a number of different places, is what I love helping you plan. I've 12 years experience in making your travel plans a reality. It all starts with a chat on the phone, in person or over video call. If you are local, feel free to stop by Ruddington Village Market on the 1st Saturday of the month to have a chat with me.

As a local travel expert you can read my articles in local media such as Nottinghamshire Aspect magazine and listen to me on BBC Radio Nottingham whenever there is a travel related news story.

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Contact Me

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:

Find me on social

My Videos

Summer 2022 Travel

7/25/2022

I as invited onto the BBC Radio Nottingham Breakfast show to talk about all things travel

BBC Radio Nottingham 8/7/21

7/8/2021

Ahead of the announcement that full vaccinated travelers returning to the UK wouldn't need to self isolate, I appeared on BBC Radio Nottingham Breakfast SHow

Top Tips for Planning a Honeymoon

4/6/2021

As an alternative to reading my blog, have a watch of my top tips

Ruddington Village Market Instagram Live

2/18/2021

A fab chat with Mark from Ruddington Village Market about my business, my travel experiences and why I love Ruddington!

BBC Radio Nottingham 28/01/21

1/28/2021

I was invited along to talk about staycations this year

BBC Radio Nottingham Interview

11/24/2020

Following the government announcement about "test and release" I was invited back on to the breakfast show to discuss.

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.

Travelling after loss

29 November 2022

In October 2015 my daughter was 9 months old and we were due to go on our first family holiday that we had booked several months prior. On the 13th of October my Grandma passed away unexpectedly, just a week before we were due to travel. It was a difficult decision to make as to whether we would still travel or stay home to attend her funeral. My Grandma loved her holidays and lived in Spain for 15 years after retirement, so I knew that she would have wanted me to go. ON the day of her funeral I made a bouquet of Mauritian flowers to lay in the ocean and drank her favourite Bacardi and diet coke to honour her. I was asked to write something for a local grief cafe as a way of helping people making the first steps to travel again following a loss of a spouse. Whilst it is thankfully not something I have personally experienced I have helped many customers thought this difficult time. Going on holiday again after the loss of a spouse can be a daunting experience, whether you travelled a lot together or not. There is lots of healing power in taking a holiday and travelling. A change of pace and a change of scene to grieve alone or a chance to forget your grief, without judgement or interference of others. Travel is therapy. No matter your situation, travelling allows you to escape from reality whether for a weekend, a couple of weeks or longer. It’s not that you need to forget about your loss while you are away, there will be moments when you will think “they would really have liked this view/restaurant/city/country” and it is normal that you think of them in these moments. You can acknowledge that moment by writing letters or postcards to your loved one describing what you are seeing, doing, and experiencing. Travel can help you to start the process of creating positive post loss memories by removing you from the place that already holds so many memories for you. Or by returning to a place you had visited together, you have the opportunity to face your loss head on, perhaps scattering their ashes in a place that meant the most to them. Although do check for local laws and airline rules about the transportation of ashes. Of course, there are practicalities to travel that you may not have considered before. Your loved one may have been the person to do all the organising. It can be overwhelming to begin the process but that is where booking with a travel agent can help. The internet is full of travel options but how do you know if you are paying a fair price and getting the holiday you are wanting? Speaking to an agent allows you to get professional advice and if you feel comfortable to share your loss, they can be sensitive to your situation and advise you accordingly. So, what are your options for solo travel? Well for a start you don’t have to travel solo. Have you considered travelling with a friends or family? Don’t be afraid to ask others if they would like to join you. You can still have your own room while having someone to share the experience with. Or you can travel as a group of new friends. There are solo specific group tour companies where everyone has their own room and there are no single supplements. There are other tour companies where you are matched in a room with another traveller of the same sex. There are also ways of meeting new travel companions through social groups closer to home. A fellow Travel Counsellor has set up a group in Chester which meets regularly to talk about travel and has organised several group trips for solo travellers to places like Iceland and Istanbul. Many of her customers are widows and my plan is to set up a similar group here in Nottingham. If it is something that you might be interested in, please get in touch with me. A great way to meet likeminded people when on holiday would be to go on a special interest holiday. Did you know there are painting holidays, cycling holidays and photography holidays? You may already be part of a special interest group at home where you can ask if anyone else wants to join you on a special interest holiday. The type of holiday you take as a solo traveller isn’t the same for everyone. The possibilities for travel following your loss are as endless as they were when your loved one was still alive. The best thing to do is think about the holidays that you enjoy; whether relaxing on beach or climbing a mountain. The sort of accommodation that will make you feel most comfortable, larger or smaller hotels, self-catering or all inclusive? Perhaps you made compromises when you took holidays with your loved one, now is an opportunity to plan that holiday they weren’t interested in taking. If you are ready to take the first step towards travelling again, please feel free to get in touch with me. I am happy to meet you to talk about your plans. If you are interested in the travel group that I mentioned, I would be happy to give you further details.

New to Cruise

30 May 2022

After 12 years in the travel industry selling cruise, I have finally been on my first and second cruises in the space of a month. It wasn’t something that was planned that way, but opportunities presented themselves and now I am a cruise convert. I always thought that if I was going to take a cruise it would be to a destination best served by cruise such as Alaska or the Panama Canal. Instead, I took a 3 night Royal Caribbean cruise onboard Voyager of the Seas with my 7 year old daughter and mum in April followed by a 7 night cruise onboard Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady with my husband. What I have learnt is that the experience is as much about the ship as it is about the sailing. My first cruising experience with Royal Caribbean was perfect for the multi-generation travelling party I was with. We enjoyed games of bingo and silent discos where my mum could listen to ABBA while my daughter and I listened to Bruno Mars. We ate 3 course dinners in the main dining room and filled our plates at the breakfast buffet. The ship had waterslides, kids clubs and the infamous Flowrider. Mum could find a quiet space to read her book while my daughter spent hours in the top deck pool. In complete contrast, my second cruise experience was an adults only haven, as much a place to be seen as a place to be yourself. Virgin Voyages launched last year during the pandemic with sailings from the UK. As their planned service resumes, I was on the Mermaiden Voyage of Valiant Lady from her European homeport of Barcelona. The event was important enough for the man himself, Sir Richard Branson to make an appearance, sharing in the enthusiasm of his crew. In contrast to the more formal cruise dining options available with Royal Caribbean (set times and tables sizes/additional charges for speciality dining), Virgin Voyages has over 20 eateries with exquisite, freshly prepared food. Much like the décor onboard the food is finished with finesse ready for Instagram. Entertainment on board was diverse and world class. Bringing his Las Vegas show to the ship was Tape Face, who first discovered fame on America’s Got Talent. While the acrobatic extravaganza of Dual Reality is unlike anything I have ever seen before. For more low key entertainment, the sultry voice of Slam Allen accompanied by his blues band singing the likes of Prince and Louis Armstrong is a pleasant way to spend an evening in the whiskey bar. The two opposing experiences that I had with cruise have made me appreciate that there is probably a cruise company out there for everyone, including those who say they will never cruise. It is important to know what you are getting. Is a variety of food important to you? Do you need drinks included? Would you prefer a larger or smaller ship? What sort of entertainment would you like? The you need to consider the itinerary. The idea of sailing out from the UK is appealing to avoid airports but you won’t get to the more tropical destinations. Now that we are returning to some normality, so are cruise ships meaning that cruising is once again possible in the Caribbean, Asia and Australia. Covid measures varies from company to company but generally requiring all adults and sometimes all children over 5 to be vaccinated and tested before embarkation. Mask wearing onboard is generally no longer required by guests, while some companies still require their crew to wear them. Hand sanitizer is freely available and of course, in port rules will vary from country to country if you are getting off the ship to explore. Whilst I’ve only been able to experience these two cruise lines, there are many more which offer their own unique experiences. So whether you are a seasoned cruiser looking to return to the seas or someone who has never sailed the seven seas, there is a cruise line and an itinerary out there for you.

Australia is back in business!

02 April 2022

After almost 2 years Australia has reopened its borders to visitors and there is no better time to plan a trip down under. Australia is a bucket list destination for retirees and a backpacker haven for gap year students. Whilst budgets might be a little varied, Australia offers something for everyone. The first thing to say is that Australia cannot be done in a 2-week holiday, which is why to “do Australia” it is best done when you aren’t restricted by annual leave allowances. Not to say you shouldn’t go while of working age but prioritise what you want to see, perhaps using the following itineraries as a guide. Pre-covid there were international flights to all major Australian cities and as the world starts to open up again it we should see a return to possible stopovers in Singapore and Dubai amongst others. But to avoid travel restrictions of an additional country, Qantas offer direct flights to Australia via Perth (or Darwin until at least June 2022) thanks to the Boeing Dreamliner. Fly between the major cities and sights Sydney-Cairns-Ayers Rock-Melbourne Starting in Sydney with those iconic sights of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. If you are feeling brave enough, climb the Harbour Bridge for a unique view of the city. See what all the fuss is about visiting the iconic Bondi Beach. Fly up to Cairns to access the Great Barrier Reef. Whilst backpackers might be at home in Cairns, heading an hour up the coast to Port Douglas is recommended for most travellers to this area. The reef itself spreads right down the coast but with rainforests to explore in the tropical north you can make much more of your visit to Queensland. A flight to the Red Centre embodies primal Australia. Whilst Ayers Rock has an airport, you might find that Alice Springs offers a better route and the possibilities of seeing more of the outback on the 5.5 hour drive. Once at Ayers Rock, enjoy visits to the giant monolith at sunrise and sunset and take time to learn about its significance to the Aboriginal people. After a short stay in the centre, fly on down to Melbourne to experience how this city contrasts to Sydney. A more laid back and hip city, with quirky cafes and it’s signature lanes and arcades. Melbourne is also the access point for the Great Ocean Road which can be driven in a day reaching the climax at the Twelve Apostles in time for sunset. Queensland Coast The coast from Brisbane to Cairns offers a range of tourist gems that can easily fill 2 weeks. Whether travelling in a motorhome for flexibility or booking hotels for more structure, you will find plenty to keep the drive enjoyable. Just south of Brisbane is the Gold Coast with stunning beaches and home to Australia’s theme parks. Just to the north of Brisbane you reach Fraser Island, the giant World Heritage Listed sand island; where shipwrecks and unique landscapes or sand dunes, rainforest, rivers and lakes make it one of the top tourist attractions in the country. Further up the coast at Airlie Beach travellers can head out to the Whitsunday Islands at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and relax on a tropical island while enjoying the marine life. Continue to Cairns for your onwards journey. Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road Whilst the Great Ocean Road can be driven in a day, stopping en route to Adelaide is a great way to slow the pace. Leave Melbourne and visit the Mornington Peninsula for outstanding wineries, gorgeous beaches and bubbling hot springs. Continue to Phillip Island, home to the world’s smallest penguins before starting the 243km journey along the Great Ocean Road. Stop at golf courses with kangaroos, lighthouses and wooden walkways through the forest before reaching the Twelve Apostles. Continue to Adelaide heading inland via Grampians National Park. Perth As a direct access point from the UK (from June STC), Perth is worth a stop for a city break or to explore the coast to places like Monkey Mia, one of the few places in the world where you can interact with wild dolphins. You might also meet whale sharks, mantra rays and sea turtles. For the wine lovers, Western Australia is home to over 90 wineries and the Margaret River area prodices 25% of Australia’s premium wine. Darwin Often missed, the Northern Territory’s Top End has some epic scenery for those willing to explore it. Kakadu National Park is another of Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites overflowing with indigenous culture and extensive wetlands. Tasmania An island apart from the mainland, Tasmania is a holiday in itself. National parks, beautiful beaches, wildlife, wineries, rainforest, mountains and small cities with heaps of character. Getting around Australia could involve a mixture of car, motorhome and flights. It also has come icon train journeys for those looking for the romance of the journey. The Ghan and the Indian Pacific are luxury train journeys travelling from North to South vice versa and East to West vice versa respectively. Whilst planning a trip to Australia, particularly post covid, may seem daunting, I can help you plan from start to finish.

Disney World in a Covid World

04 November 2021

Enough of the dreaming, this month we got to do our dream holiday to Disney World Florida. We booked last year on a hopeful whim. As October half term got closer, the FCDO advice for travel to the USA was updated and there was no longer anything in our way. My husband is a US citizen and so we were exempt from the restrictions in place stopping most Brits from travelling stateside until the 8th of November. There are lots of accommodation options in Orlando. On a previous visit in 2018 when my daughter was 3, we stayed in a villa and spent 3 nights in Disney’s Art of Animation hotel. We decided that time not to visit the parks themselves as we felt she was too young to endure the long days in the heat, queuing for the few rides she would have been tall enough for. The stay at the Art of Animation hotel was perfect for a Disney experience; spending the days swimming in one of the 3 themed pools, sleeping in a Little Mermaid themed room and being surrounded by 35 ft tall statues from our favourite Disney movies. With more than 25 on-site Disney hotels to choose from, they are a great option for convenience and for the full on Disney experience. The hotels are split into different categories with Art of Animation featuring in the Value Resorts and being located furthest from the parks to the Deluxe Beach Club Resort which is a short walk from Epcot. There are definite advantages to staying on-site; including free transportation on regular buses, monorail, skyliner and boats around the resort, extra time in the parks and being fully immersed in the Disney experience. If you book at certain times of the year there are added bonuses like Disney dining credit. The villa accommodation option is a great choice for larger groups who are happy to travel to the parks. When we visited in 2018 our villa was a 40 minute drive each way to Disney World. There are villa’s much closer so it is essential to check the distance and make sure you are happy to drive that far every day for the duration of your visit. Some villas are offered as generic villas within a certain distance of the parks. Each villa is individually styled as they are privately owned but meet certain criteria to be offered within a villa category. Many have private pools and games rooms. There is also the option to book a specific villa when you want to know exactly where you are staying. For our accommodation this time we chose to stay in a hotel offering self catering suites. The Staybridge Suites – Orlando Royal Parc is a 10 minute drive to Disney World. Like many hotels, it offers a complimentary shuttle to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, as well as other Orlando parks such as Universal Studios. We haven’t used the shuttle every day as there is just the one bus to and from the parks which means spending 12 hours each day. Most American’s visit Disney World for just a few days and so the shuttle service is (at least currently) aimed at them making the most of their short stays. Perhaps adults visiting for 2 weeks would have the stamina for 12 hour days, but with a 6 year old we have elected for some shorter days which has meant driving into Disney World. Parking charges at Disney are from $25 a day, which is over £250 for a 2 week visit. You can park for free at Disney Springs, Blizzard Beach Water Park and at Disney resorts if you have a dining reservation. If you are staying at a Disney hotel with a car, you will pay a daily parking charge at your hotel but will be able to park at Disney parks for free. Disney World is made up of 4 parks and 2 water parks, although Typhoon Lagoon Water Park remains closed. Changes to the park tickets available in the UK for travel in 2022 means that your ticket is either valid for 7 days in the parks in a 15 day period or 14 days in the park in an 18 day period. Changes as a result of Covid also require you to make a park reservation for each day you are visiting. Other than peak days such as Halloween, we have been able to get availability to change our existing park reservations the day before visiting. Park hopping is available, giving you the option to visit one park in the morning and hop across to another park after 2pm the same day. Our ticket also came with a Memory Maker which gives us access to photos taken by the on-site photographers as well as ride photos. Covid has changed how things are done at Disney World; for example, gone are the queues to meet characters and get their autographs. As a replacement, your favourite Princesses and other characters can be found socially distanced behind short fences and hedges where you can stand in front and they will suitably pose. Personally, I prefer this; it is a whistle-stop way to get the photo and then move on to the next ride. Travelling when we did, during October half term, we avoided many of the crowds. The 2 week half term that Nottinghamshire schools have makes it a perfect time to visit. Peak visiting time is Easter holidays, while many would find the summer in Orlando too hot to bear, and certainly while standing in long queues. Florida does get cooler in the winter months but with temperatures comparable to UK summer temperatures, it is also a great time. October 2021 saw Disney World celebrate it’s 50th anniversary, as a result (and despite Covid!) there are 18 months of celebrations taking place throughout 2022. Golden statues of popular characters can be found across the 4 parks and limited-edition merchandise is available in the various stores. The evening fireworks shows are a celebration of 50 magical years. A few things to bear in mind if you are planning on visiting in 2022, is that masks are mandatory in all indoor locations for anyone over 2 years of age. No medical exemptions and cast members will gently remind you if your mask isn’t fully covering your nose and mouth. Hand sanitizer is located throughout the park, at entrances and exits to all rides.

Where to go Autumn/Winter

08 April 2021

Autumn/Winter Picking up from my previous blog post, this time we look at Autumn and Winter months to get some adventure and sun. September Keeping with wildlife, head over to Borneo in September to see orangutans and other primates in their natural habitat. Finish with some down time at one of the luxury hotels over by Kota Kinabalu. October New England in the fall, the changing of the leaves makes for Instagram worthy photos, but Boston and the other coastal towns and national parks are worth a visit in their own right. Heading east, try Vietnam for a mixture of hilltribe culture, busy cities and wartime history but beware how this long thing country has varying climates in the north to the south. November Year-round sun that is unbearable for the average Brit in the summer, head to the middle east in November. Dubai is a favourite for winter sun, regional flights from Birmingham make Dubai a great mid-haul destination for guaranteed sun. In contrast to the modern city landscape in Dubai, try Jordan for your Indiana Jones inspired adventure. Petra is thought to have been built as early as 5th century BC and will take your breath away as you see the Treasury in all its sandstone glory. December Bringing up the end of the year, if you are looking for a pre-Christmas treat, head to Thailand for the busy city of Bangkok, find your zen in the northern city of Chiang Mai and relax on the golden sand beaches of Phuket and Krabi. For your Lara Croft moment, cross the border into Cambodia to explore the impressive Angkor Wat, catching sunrise over this impressive structure. January Think south in January; winter in the UK, Summer in the Southern Hemisphere. For a once in a lifetime trip make the journey to see the dramatic ice cliffs of Patagonia; combine with further exploration of Chile and Argentina for good food, desert landscapes and colourful architecture. If the 20+ hour journey times don’t put you off; Australia and New Zealand are perfect at this time of year. Don’t try to do too much in a short time; Australia is huge and while New Zealand is smaller, you will appreciate the scenery much more at a slower pace. For fun in the sun, the journey time can be much shorter to the Caribbean; a range of islands with a number of direct flights makes it an acceptable journey for a 7 night holiday. February For a cultural trip with some time relaxing on a beautiful beach at the end of a hectic itinerary, look to India or Sri Lanka in February. Sri Lanka is compact enough to see most of the country in a 2 week holiday, stay in Sri Lanka for a beach break or make the short journey across to the Maldives. In India focus on one area in the South or Rajasthan, avoid heading any further north until later in the year.

Sustainable Travel

17 July 2021

There are lots of ways that the last 16 months has changed the way that we travel. For a start, many of us simply haven’t travelled. In 2019 80.9 million passengers travelled through Heathrow airport. In 2020 this decreased by 72.9% to just 22.1 million passengers. This reduced CO2 emissions from aviation by 60% according to the Global Carbon Project. It is sometimes difficult to see the positives to come from Covid-19 but changing our travel habits in the future can be one of those positives. As we return to overseas travel, sustainable travel is becoming more of a consideration. A poll by Travel Counsellors revealed that 73% of customers consider sustainable travel when choosing a holiday and 6% consider it the main factor. According to The Travel Foundation, “the aim of sustainable tourism is to increase the benefits and to reduce the negative impacts caused by tourism for destinations. This can be achieved by: • Protecting natural environments, wildlife and natural resources when developing and managing tourism activities • Providing authentic tourist experiences that celebrate and conserve heritage and culture • Creating socio-economic benefits for communities through employment and income earning opportunities” In 2007 I visited Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. This was my first experience of ways in which tourism activities can positively contribute to the protection of endangered species. The cost of your gorilla trekking permit ensures they can be constantly monitored by park rangers and protected from poachers. 10% of revenue from the permits is channelled towards local communities, to build schools, health centres, and roads. Money also goes into a compensation fund for local famers should any gorilla damage their crops, which helps to ensure peaceful co-existence. Six tracking permits are issued per troop per day, you are limited to 1 hour in their company, maintaining a 10 metre distance and you can’t visit if you have a cold due to them being so closely related to humans. The population of mountain gorillas has increased from 620 in 1989 to over 1000 thanks to conversation efforts. There are lots of ways that you can participate in authentic tourist experiences to celebrate and conserve the heritage and culture of the country you are visiting. But what is an authentic experience? Let’s take Japan; over the 6 months I spent there I had many authentic experiences. Authentic doesn’t just mean traditional or ancient. Authentic experiences that I had ranged from sitting with locals in an izakaya (Japanese gastro-pub) to trying Japanese items on the McDonalds menu! I saw multiple temples and shrines but just as many sky scrapers, all of which shared the heritage and culture of the country. These authentic experiences can be had in any country, regardless of the type of holiday you are on. We stayed at an all inclusive in Barbados but still got a local bus to the capital Bridgetown and visiting Oistins along with locals on a Friday night. 94% of Travel Counsellors customers would like to learn more about how their holiday can help local people and the economy. Some local economies, in countries where tourism is their main industry, have been heavily affected by the pandemic. Places like the Maldives, where tourism directly contributes 21% to the country’s GDP, forecasted a decline for the tourism sector GDP ranging from -39.8% in the best case and -74.8% in the worst case (as of mid May 2020). Whilst a holiday to the Maldives seems like an indulgence for UK travellers during the pandemic, there are people whose employment and income earning opportunities are heavily reliant on tourism in the Maldives and many other places we would normally be travelling to. Getting tourists back to these countries in a safe way is important to reducing unemployment and the continued loss of income for individuals working in the hospitality sector in their counties. Many tour operators now have sections on their websites dedicated to sustainable travel, for more information on how Travel Counsellors work with The Travel Foundation visit https://bit.ly/2T9gFa8 If you would like to plan your sustainable travel, get in touch with me; Leia Morales – Travel Counsellor (leia.morales@travelcounsellors.com / 0115 832 0119). Throughout August I will be sharing details of what some of our suppliers are doing to contribute towards sustainable travel on my social media channels, just search for @TravelLeia to find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Getting married in 2021?

07 April 2020

Right now, you are sat at home with your fiancée, spending more time together then you had planned, gazing lovingly across at each other as you work from home. Opportunities to plan your wedding and honeymoon are usually limited to evenings and weekends, but COVID-19 has given you this extra time together. Unfortunately, high street travel agents are closed, and you might be reluctant to trust your once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon to the internet. Many DIY holiday bookers and those who have booked with Online Travel Agents have been left unable to speak to a person during this crisis and are struggling to rearrange their travel plans or get a refund. As a homeworking travel agent, I am open for business and can help you plan your 2021 honeymoon. I am available at times to suit my clients with the additional support of a 24/7 duty office and full financial protection. Your honeymoon is in safe hands. To get you started, here are my tips for planning your honeymoon: When to go vs where to go You have decided that you want a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter wedding and planned your wedding dress, colour theme and booked a venue to suit. Now it’s time to plan your honeymoon; but do you leave straight after the wedding, in which case I can talk you through the best places to go at that time, or do you have an ideal destination in mind, if so it may be best to travel later in the year. You might choose to have a mini-moon straight after the wedding to enjoy being newly married and your dream honeymoon once you the stress of planning a wedding is over. It’s not uncommon to celebrate 6 months of marriage with your honeymoon. Just be aware that some special honeymoon offers are time limited and need evidence of your marriage certificate. But I can talk you through that. Stay true to you If you wouldn’t normally spend your holidays on a beach, you shouldn’t on your honeymoon. I have planned plenty of honeymoons full of adventure; trekking the Inca Trail, cycling through Vietnam or a camping safari in Africa. If you want to experience an overwater bungalow in the Maldives but worry that you would get bored after a few days, why not combine it with a private tour in Sri Lanka. I will always ask what holidays you have done together in the past, so that I can find your perfect match. If you and your partner have different ideas of the perfect holiday, I will be your honeymoon mediator. My experience means I can find the ideal solution to any combination of ideals; city and beach, snow and sand, culture and adrenaline, spa and sport. Treat yourself This is the holiday of a lifetime. No matter your budget, do one thing that you would never usually do. If there is the option for a hot air balloon ride (and you aren’t scared of heights!), do it! Never stayed in a 5* hotel? Book a night or 2 at the end of your trip. Upgrade your room to a seaview, fly business class in one direction. Depending on your trip I will make these suggestions and if you want to surprise your fiancée with one of these upgrades, I am amazing at keeping a secret! Tell me your budget It’s a difficult conversation to have, but I know that most couples have a spreadsheet of wedding costs, so tell me what figure you have in the honeymoon column. I will always offer the best advice and make recommendations, but there is nothing worse them me creating your dream honeymoon, you getting excited about it and then me telling you the cost to find out it is twice the budget you have. It’s disheartening for everyone, trust me! I will be able to create a couple of different options for you; one that is on or under budget but with some compromises, and then another with the overwater bungalow or with the best hotel on the island. I will give you all the information so that you can make an informed decision about the cost. And if there is a special offer to be had at another hotel, I'll be sure to tell you. Ask for the gift of travel As a couple you possibly already live together, already have frying pans, a vacuum cleaner and crockery. You could go to a department store and set up a gift registry for fancy plates you use once a year and wine glasses that you are too scared to use because they cost so much. Or your guests can give the far more practical gift of travel. Travel Counsellors have the option for you to set up a Honeymoon Registry whereby you provide your guests with a unique reference number to contribute to the cost of your honeymoon, or if you are yet to book your honeymoon their contributions are held for you to use at a later date. I can provide you with guest cards to send with your invitations and thank you cards for the generous contributions. If you have been inspired for your honeymoon, get in touch so I can make your dream honeymoon come become reality.

Travel 2021

08 April 2021

Foreign holidays seem a distant memory for most, unless you were one of the few to make use of the travel corridors last summer. With the recent introduction of mandatory testing to enter the UK and additional tests two and eight days after returning home, the additional cost for a family can be difficult to justify on a 7-day holiday. There is good new though; despite some reports, it is not illegal to book a holiday and it is perfectly reasonable to want something to look forward to later in 2021. Our suppliers have adapted to the circumstances with airlines offering flexibility that was unheard of pre-Covid. For example, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are allowing date and route changes without a fee. These policies are in addition to the package protection offered and our own flexible promise. Under the package travel regulations, a tour operator will offer a refund should you be unable to travel due to government travel advice. The quantity of refunds has meant that processing can take longer than hoped, but Travel Counsellors have topped surveys by Money Saving Expert because of our personal service, keeping customers fully informed throughout the holiday booking and subsequent refund process. So, should you book an overseas holiday this year? Absolutely! But understand where your money is going. Questions to ask; how much is the deposit? When will final payment be due and what are the cancellation charges? Can I change to a future date if I still have to take tests and/or quarantine on return? What are the travel restrictions for the country I am travelling to? You may not find answers easily when you are booking online, which is where speaking to a real person is invaluable. These are all things that I speak about with my clients to ensure that they know that I am looking out for them. I will be proactive during the process and if I think at any time that you are better to move dates or to look at another destination I will be 100% honest with you.

Where to go Spring/Summer

08 April 2021

Spring/Summer Most countries have their ideal travel season, based mainly on the weather, which can vary within a country as well. Whilst weather can always be unpredictable, there are certain weather patterns that it is always worth being aware of when you are planning to visit a country. You won’t be thinking something was a “good deal” if it is monsoon season. This two part “where to travel when?” guide to will cover March through August this month and September to February in next months issue. March Spring in Japan, crowds descend to view the cherry blossoms. Book early if you want to enjoy this yearly event as prices can be high and hotel rooms sparse. Alternatively explore South Africa’s garden route between Cape Town and an Eastern Cape game reserve for the perfect balance of city, history, beach and wildlife. April Towards the end of the summer in Mauritius, but pleasant temperatures without the rainfall. Direct flights make this a convenient long haul beach break. Hawaii, on the other hand, you reach via mainland USA to create a multi hop adventure. Spend a couple of nights on Oahu to see Waikiki and Pearl Harbour before taking the short flight to Maui for beautiful beaches, Kaui for adventure, or Big Island for volcanoes. May Picking a single month to visit the USA is tough given its size but May offers pleasant temperatures in most states. Whether a city in the north east, theme parks in the south east, or national parks in the west; the United States has something for everyone. For an exclusive wildlife experience, head down to Botswana. Carefully regulated tourism and inaccessibility of its famous Okavango Delta make this the ultimate safari destination. May sees the start of the dry season when water levels are at their highest, creating the waterways the Delta is known for. June Looking to explore ancient civilizations, rainforests, culture and the world’s highest navigable lake? Peru is best visited in June, the start of winter but avoiding the wetter summer season. Travel to Machu Picchu by foot along the Inca Trail or in style onboard the Belmond Hiram Bingham luxury train. July Speaking of trains… the Rocky Mountaineer across western Canada is an iconic journey winding through mountain passes and dramatic canyons. Disembark in Vancouver and board a 7 night Alaskan cruise to see inaccessible glaciers and charming coastal towns. If relaxing on a beach is more your idea of a holiday, the Seychelles and South Pacific Islands are perfect this time of year; for white powder sand beaches and crystal clear waters to dip your toes in. August Europe is the place to be in August, short haul sun in family friendly hotels. But if you are looking for something further afield, Bali is the ideal destination. Explore the island to see the cultural centre of Ubud or volcanic Mount Agung, before relaxing on one of its many beaches. Alternatively, for a wildlife adventure head to Tanzania as the migrating wildebeest cross the rivers of the Serengeti.

What my friends think I do. What society thinks I do. What I actually do.

10 July 2020

I’ve been a travel consultant for 10 years, my friends and family think they know what I do but like the meme’s that go around there are different images of what a travel consultant does: What my friends think I do. What society thinks I do. What I actually do. Putting aside that I am running my own business and the day to day work that comes with promoting myself, let me run through the experience of what I do looking through the customer journey. A customer will get in touch with me via social media, email or on the phone. I always prefer to talk to people in person (on the phone or video call) because it makes the experience more personal. I appreciate that sometimes my customers find sending an email easier during the day, which is why we can arrange an after hours chat. These phone calls can take 10 minutes to an hour depending on the complexity of what you are looking to do. Sometimes people will come to me with a destination in mind, sometimes people come to me and say they want to go somewhere hot! Through a series of questions, I can usually narrow down and exclude some hot destinations because they only want a short flight or because they want to go at a particular time of year. If there is more than one person travelling it is good to speak to multiple travellers, because they will have different interests. If it is two friends travelling, they might also have different budgets and I can help mediate those awkward conversations! When I have as much information as I can possibly gather, I might be able to make some suggestions to you on the spot before going off to thoroughly research and come up with the ideal travel plan. As an independent travel consultant, I have access to a lot of travel options. I can package together something bespoke, or approach one of our retail partners if they have something suitable. If I am looking at a beach holiday, for example, I will find the best destinations for the time of year, local attractions, facilities in the hotel, size of hotel, room upgrade options, dining options. I will look at reviews and be able to speak to my colleagues who have been there or had clients that have been. I will call the hotel if there is any information I am unable to find. If you are looking for a multi stop itinerary, a tour or a fly drive for example, I can plan every single day of your itinerary. Each hotel will be chosen for a reason, I will plan each day of sightseeing if you need me to, arranging local guides or attraction tickets. Once I have done all this research and put together 1-3 itineraries, we will arrange a follow up call or meeting. I will talk you through what I have found and discuss any options that I have. I will have anticipated many of your questions and will ask for feedback on what I have given you. I will take the time to run through important things like the weather, visas, insurance and booking conditions. You might then take some time to have a think; if there are any questions that you have, I will find the answers because I want you to make an informed choice about your travel. Once you are ready to book I will request all of the elements from our various suppliers and collate that into one perfectly packaged holiday for you, with all your money held in a trust account and with the full protection of the package travel regulations, issuing you with an ATOL certificate. In the lead up to your holiday I will be in touch to make sure you have everything you need and to answer any questions. I will put together a pre-departure pack with all your travel documents. I will let the hotel know about any special requests or special occasions. I will check you in for your flight if you need me to, or pre-book seats. I will phone ahead to any restaurants to pre-book tables. It is my job to think of all these things so that you are free to enjoy your holiday. When you are on holiday, I am available to you. Should you have any problems, I am at the end of the phone or email. If a flight is cancelled, a volcano erupts or a global pandemic strikes I will get you home safely. I want to know about your holiday, I want to see your holiday photos and learn from your experiences. That way I can get to know more about you for the next holiday you want to book with me, and I can get your recommendations to pass onto my other customers. Knowing you better means that when I come across an amazing deal for a hotel, I will call you up to tell you about it. Knowing you means I will send you a birthday card or ask you how the grandchildren are when we speak. Booking with a travel consultant is not like booking on the internet and it has taken a global pandemic for some people to learn that the hard way. There is a reason that Travel Counsellors have twice topped Martin Lewis’ survey of the best travel companies for refunds while many of the worst performing are internet booking engines. When you book with a person you deal with a person throughout, when you book with a computer you don’t get a person when you need one. The reason we are called Travel Counsellors is because we have the experience to give you advice and solve your travel problems. Hopefully that gives you an insight into what I do when I create your dream travel experience, and you can see why I don’t price match the internet because the internet doesn’t match me for service. Get in touch with me if you are ready to let me plan your next holiday.

Travel a little closer to home

11 May 2020

With it looking unlikely that many will be taking holidays abroad this summer, we will have to look closer to home for travel inspiration. With Travel Counsellors up and down the country, some of us have teamed up to make suggestions for what there is to see and do a little closer to home. This is my travel blog all about the beautiful South Nottinghamshire village of Ruddington, that I call home. Please note that some businesses mentioned will have social distancing measures in place, or reduced operating due to Covid-19. Please get in touch with me or the business direct to get up to date information. Located 10 minutes from Nottingham City Centre, the village is easily reached on the number 10 or number 3 buses from just outside the train station, and once you are in the village everything is within easy walking distance. Alternatively, the village is easily reached just off the A52 if travelling by car. If you are looking for somewhere to stay, The Cottage Hotel is centrally located and has 22 individually decorated guest rooms within a collection of 17th century cottages, set around a honeysuckle central courtyard. It has an on-site restaurant to serve a complimentary breakfast and if you didn’t want to explore any of the other dining establishments in the village, it also serves lunch and dinner. Dining options in the village are plentiful, with a choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes. Head to see Julie at the Black Cat Café for unusual homemade scotch eggs (such as Bombay potato), foot long sausage rolls (vegan options also available) or homemade pies and quiches. For a contemporary industrial styled coffee shop experience, Jaspers is the place to go. Serving all day breakfasts and afternoon teas or grab one of their picnic packages and take it into the Country Park. In the evening, why not try the food at one of the village pubs. The pizza’s at the White Horse Inn are loaded with flavour, try the chicken tikka with mango chutney and mint yogurt if it is available on their monthly menu. Or head to the Ruddington Arms for a choice of British classics such as steaks, fish and chips or cheese boards. With options for Italian, Indian and fish and chips, all tastes are catered for within Ruddington. The White Horse Inn is also the venue for the hugely successful Ruddington Village Market. Having moved to Instagram for a few months due to Covid-19 there are plans to relaunch with social distancing measures in place in the summer. Running the first Saturday of the month, the market usually features lots of locally made produce and crafts. For those who have visited the battlefields in South Africa, you might be interested in the graves of three Rourke's Drift survivors in the Shaw Street Cemetery. Along with 150 comrades they successfully defended the Rourke's Drift garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors in South Africa in 1879 The village is home to three museums. The Framework Knitters Museum is a unique surviving example of a 19th century framework knitters yard, that explains the history of 400 years of framework knitting which gave birth to the famous Nottingham lace industry. Visitors can also try their hand at using one of the circular knitting machines to take home a souvenir of their visit. The Ruddington Village Museum, located in a former Victorian school takes visitors back in time, to experience the world’s oldest surviving fish and chip shop and an Edwardian school room. On display are toys and games from bygone times, as well as agricultural, ironmonger, cobbler and chemist equipment. There is plenty to entertain and engage children and adults alike. Lastly, is the Great Central Railway Nottingham which is the boarding point for weekend train journeys to Loughborough onboard steam and diesel trains, as well as a collection of buses and a model railway. The railway is also conveniently located adjacent to the Rushcliffe Country Park which is a highlight of any visit to Ruddington. With over 200 acres of open space and 8km of footpaths, there is plenty of space to explore the park and enjoy a picnic. The park features plenty to keep children entertained, from an expansive play area, BMX track and skateboard park to nature trails and rolling hills. There is even a dog agility course for four legged visitors. And if there wasn’t enough to keep you occupied in Ruddington for the duration of your stay, it is only a short bus ride back into Nottingham city centre to have access to the Nottingham Caves and from early 2021, the newly renovated Nottingham Castle. Some images have been provided by RUDDINGTON.info and were taken prior to social distancing measures.

Gap Years for all ages

05 May 2020

At age 16, while studying for my GCSE’s, the opportunity presented itself to travel to Ecuador with my school. We fundraised and I worked part-time in a fish and chip shop to fund the month-long trip, which saw us trekking in the Andes, exploring the Amazon and volunteering to build an orphanage. It was a life changing experience for me that sparked a desire to explore the world and lead to me taking a post university gap year (or 2!) Here are some of my tips from my travels and experience of helping hundreds of other young (and old!) explorers head off for extended travel. Pre-University vs Post-University vs Career Break When to take your gap year is a personal choice, there are no rules and certainly no judgements. The obvious main thing to consider is finances. Working as a teen, not paying rent to my parents and having zero financial commitments, I had the disposable income to spend on travel pre-university. But I didn’t feel that I had the confidence to head into the world on my own. Post university, having been fortunate enough for my parents to continue to support me, and continuing to work part-time, I had the finances and had developed the confidence to be a solo traveller. I have also arranged gap years and sabbaticals for those looking for a career break. I have had clients who have sold their houses to fund their travel, because they “missed out” when they were younger. You are never too old for a gap year! Working Holiday Visas These visas are a fantastic way to travel and not spend your savings. I had these visas for Japan and Australia but they are also available to UK citizens for a number of other counties. There are usually some criteria to meet, such as upper age limits and available finances. The work you can do in country might be limited, for example in Australia you can’t be with the same employer for more than 6 months. The visas usually last for a year, but some countries allow a second year. The onus is on working to fund your travel in the country, but they are an amazing experience. In Tokyo I lived in a tiny room in a gaijin house, sharing with Japanese, French, American and Australian nationals. I worked in an Irish bar for 6 months and explored out from Tokyo, before travelling around the rest of the country. In Australia, I started in Melbourne living in a hostel for a month and working in a restaurant before travelling to the Gold Coast for the next 6 months. I chose Melbourne and the Gold Coast because I had met people in Japan from those places. I worked for Subway while on the Gold Coast, other popular jobs are fruit picking and telesales. I didn’t manage to explore Australia as much as I had planned, only really travelling the Queensland coast. But that is just a reason to return in the future! Round the World Tickets When I went off on my travels, I travelled down to Africa for 3 months before returning to the UK for my older brother’s wedding. I then set off east, starting in Japan, across to Bangkok where I travelled overland to Singapore, flew to Melbourne and on to the Gold Coast, before returning to Japan en-route to Las Vegas, finally a return trip down to Chile before arriving back in the UK. All of this spanned for 2 years from August 2007. Traditional round the world tickets have a maximum validity of 12 months, and do not necessarily offer the best value. The tickets appear expensive but offer lots of flexibility, should you be unsure of the dates you will move on to your next destination or if you want some flexibility to change your destination. It is always worth weighing up the cost of one of these tickets against a combination of separate flight tickets. There are a few ticket options with different price brackets, depending on the number of flights, miles flown, or continents visited. There are lots of complexities to consider and I enjoy the challenge, when other agents might shy away. Volunteering There are lots of volunteering opportunities available all over the world. I spent 3 months in South Africa in a monkey rehabilitation centre. The experience was amazing but there was plenty of people who didn’t survive the experience. You are usually volunteering your time and paying for the experience, to cover food and board. The accommodation I lived in for those 3 months was very basic dorms with outside showers. The work itself involved cleaning out enclosures daily (literally scrubbing monkey poo!) and preparing their food twice a day. There was free time, and the hosts would provide excursions to Kruger National Park and Blyde Canyon. But the main attraction was the interactions with the animals; they were our babies. Each of them had a name, and every volunteer would have their favourites because of the different personalities they have. There are lots of conservation and community-based volunteer projects around the world. It is important to research the company you are volunteering with to ensure they are impactful and ethical. Solo vs group You might have a friend or partner that you want to travel with. I have even booked this type of trip for a family with 2 young children! But you can also do this type of trip on your own, like I did. I was never really on my own, as I joined small group tours around South East Asia, but it meant that I could decide what I wanted to see and do. The small group tours are fantastic for meeting other people but also having some flexibility. The route was set, and accommodation arranged but there was plenty of free time to explore solo or with others from the group. The group size is usually around 12 and so you aren’t being herded around in the same way as a larger coach tour. Of course, if you are travelling with a friend or partner you might prefer to stick to just the two of you. You can pre-book your accommodation or just book as you go along, depending on how good you are at budgeting! If you are travelling with someone else there will have to be some compromises as it is likely that one of you has already been to a place that the other hasn’t or has no interest in. These are just some of the things that I think you need to consider when planning for extended travel, but of course I am here to help you all the way to plan your ideal gap year. Get in touch to let me know what you are thinking and I will make it happen!

My travel biography

26 March 2020

So who are you booking with when you book your holiday with me? Well, as you are on my blog you should already know that my name is Leia Morales. I am married to, Lou, a Chilean who grow up in Miami. We have a 5 year old daughter and we live in Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, with our dog. So that is where I am now, but where have I been? Growing up with a dad in the RAF, I spent 4 years living in Germany as a child and travelled with my family in our caravan around various countries in Europe, including visiting EuroDisney on its opening day in 1990! When we moved to Nottinghamshire, many of our holidays were in the UK, which has given me an appreciation of what we have to offer closer to home. In 2000, I was lucky enough to spend a month in Ecuador with my school. This experience was amazing, and sparked a lifelong passion for travel. Whilst seeing the Amazon and Andes was life changing, I will have to go back to Ecuador some day to visit the Galapagos Islands. Throughout my university years I spent summers visiting friends in North America. I was lucky enough to be shown around some of the iconic east coast cities; Chicago, Boston, Toronto, New York and Washington DC by locals. In 2007, with my degree under my belt, student loan money still in my bank account and wanting to avoid 'the real world' for as long as possible, I set off on a two year Gap Year. To ease myself in, I committed to three months in Africa. The first two months were spent volunteering in South Africa in a monkey rehabilitation centre followed by a month travelling through East Africa in an overland truck going on safari in the many national parks, the highlight was seeing the gorillas in Rwanda. After returning to the UK for my brother's wedding, deciding on my next destination was easy. My favourite book/film at the time was 'Memoirs of a Geisha' and the culture of Japan intrigued me. I spent about 6 months travelling around Japan on a working holiday visa. Leaving from Japan, I flew to Bangkok to start 6 weeks of travel around South East Asia. Although I had travelled around Japan on my own, I was happy to join a group to travel through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore. Small group adventure tour companies are perfect for solo travellers and those who don't want the stress of finding a hotel for the night. A gap year wouldn't be complete without a working holiday in Australia. After a month or so in Melbourne, I headed up to sunny Queensland and set up my base in Surfers Paradise, just south of Brisbane. I did a roadtrip up the coast to Cairns and saw all the highlights up to the Great Barrier Reef. I met my husband, whilst I was working in Surfers Paradise. He had been in Australia for about a year and was ready to return back to the USA, my parents had just moved to Las Vegas (my dad's last RAF posting) so we headed over to live with them for 6 months. Alas, it was then time to settle down and get a real job. I returned to the UK with Lou and was able to find a job that loosely combined my love of travel with my degree in media, by working in travel PR. I spent a year doing this before moving to work as a travel consultant for a large independent travel company, where I stayed for 9 years selling tailor-made holidays to worldwide destinations. Of course, this job gave me the opportunity to continue travelling. I got married in Miami, visited my in laws in Chile and Argentina, relaxed on the beach in Barbados and took work trips to the UAE, New Zealand and Singapore. In 2015, we had our daughter and so now our holidays are planned around keeping her entertained and happy. For a 5 year old she is fairly well travelled, having had her first holiday at 9 months in Mauritius. Since then we have travelled as a family to Mexico, Orlando and Paris. So that in a nutshell is my travel experience. There is a lot more that I could write about on any of the above experiences and travel advice I could give, but I would love to know what has inspired you from my experience. Now that you have read my travel biography, what does your travel biography look like and where will you go next?

Travel with kids

15 April 2020

Back in 2007 I did a skydive over Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, but if you asked me if I would do it again, I would say a firm no. When I had my daughter in 2015 my life changed. I am now responsible for another life, and I look at risk factors in a different light. But having kids doesn’t mean that you can’t have adventures and experiences when you travel, there is just different factors to consider. We have taken several family holidays since my daughter was born, and each one has been a learning experience. My personal experience, along with 10 years' experience of booking family travel have led me to compile the following list of top tips. Infant Airfares Infant airfares are available up to the age of 2 and are a bargain because you aren’t paying for a seat. But travel with a 3-month-old on your lap is very different to travelling with a 23-month-old. I have spoken to many a parent who want to take their first born to visit relatives the other side of the world and want to make the trip before they turn 2 to save money. They might be booking this flight 11 months ahead, when their little angel is just sitting up and is easily pacified. A lot changes in 11 months, and that baby will be a toddler, who wants to walk and has nowhere to go. Yes, you can save money with an infant fare, but it won’t save your sanity on a 23-hour flight. My advice: pay the extra for the child airfare. Even if your child is under 2 at time of travel, you can choose to pay the higher child airfare and you will be glad you did. Any flight over 5 hours with a child over 1 and I would suggest this. Luggage Most airlines will allow you to take several “baby items” as part of your infant luggage allowance. Do not take your expensive travel system on holiday, I bought a second-hand collapsible pushchair with nice big wheels for moving over the sandy beach for our first holiday when my daughter was just crawling. When she was walking, I took a lighter umbrella stroller for distances. When she was 4 years old and we went to Disneyland Paris I took a stroller, even though she hadn’t used one at home for a year. When it comes to car seats, I would recommend leaving the car seat you heavily researched and spent a fortune on at home and buy a cheaper car seat for your holiday. That way you know it has never been in an accident, you know how to install it, but if it gets unknowingly damaged in transit it isn’t the seat you would normally be using. It also works out cheaper than hiring one from a car hire company, and if you are taking transfers from the airport, you have a seat for any additional taxi rides or excursions you might take. Hotel Rooms Our first holiday as a family we went to an All Inclusive in Mauritius and stayed in a ground floor terrace room. I hadn’t really thought about which floor our room would be on, but the check in staff recommended a ground floor and it was a blessing. Firstly, we didn’t have to worry about taking the stroller up and down stairs. Secondly, while she was in bed, we had a lovely terrace to enjoy and could run across to the beach bar for our drinks. Had we been on the 1st floor with a balcony we would have had to go through the room to get to the bar. In addition, if you have more than one child, consider the options for larger family rooms or two interconnecting rooms. But bear in mind, some hotels will only allocate interconnecting rooms at check in, is that a risk you want to take? Self-catering and All inclusive Our first holiday to Mauritius was an all-inclusive. My daughter was 9 months old and was constantly eating. Each mealtime we would put some extra fruit into Tupperware for her to snack on between meals. As she got older, the all-inclusive buffets have been perfect for her to see what exotic food she wants to try. She would probably like this option at home! Self-catering when you have a car hire has also been quite good for us. We had a lovely villa in Orlando, with a private pool and a Walmat 5-minute drive away. We could have prepared full dinners, but I wasn’t going to spend my holiday cooking, so we kept it simple with pasta sauces and frozen chips, but again it meant that food was available for her. Group Adventure Tours When I was in my 20’s, I travelled around South East Asia on a small group adventure tour. This was a great way, as a solo female traveller, to see the sights and feel safe. I met like-minded people and there was no stress of trying to find a hostel to sleep. Over the last few years, these same group tour companies that used to only cater to the budget gap year traveller have branched out into family tours and this is what I next plan to do with my daughter. They have different minimum ages depending on the activities, but some start as young as 5. If the tour doesn’t specify that it is aimed at a particular age group, I would always ask who is already booked on the tour. The tour companies are usually happy to tell you the age and gender of the other children and whether 1 or 2 parents are accompanying. On these departures you must have a child to travel and they tend to stay at hotels that can accommodate triple and sometimes even quad occupancy. Whether it is your first family holiday you are looking for, the last before the kids move out, or a multi-generational trip, there are lots of things to consider but I have experience and ideas to make the holiday memorable. Send me an email to start planning your next family adventure.

My customer stories

Sent by Kirsty Bemrose

I was always nervous about using a travel Counsellor as I like to be in control of all the planning but Leia has made it so easy for me to let go of this. I get so much more enjoyment out of holidays now without spending hours doing research, I will never plan a holiday myself again!

Sent by Claire Fletcher-Warne

Leia, thank you for organising us such an amazing family holiday. Leia found us 6 different holidays because we couldn’t make our mind up with what we wanted, she was very patient and found holidays that met our requirements. We had a budget, wanted to fly from a local airport and wanted a holiday for a toddler and baby. We’d never been abroad before and Leia made it so easy, booking everything, checking in, printing documents, communicating with the hotel and booking private transfers. She was always available if I had any questions and was understanding and really friendly. We will always go through Leia when booking holidays now. Thank you.

Sent by Samantha Parker

Fabulous service from Leia arranging our honeymoon. Can highly recommend. Attentive, helpful and efficient with help arranging all the extras which made our trip so special. Thanks Leia!!

Sent by Angela Dunk

Leia provided us with exceptional service when arranging a special birthday holiday for our family. She was professional throughout and totally exceeded our expectations. She will be our first port of call for any future travel arrangements.

Sent by Katriona Garnett

Leia catered our honeymoon requests, and found options that offered what we said we wanted to do. We went to Costa Rica in December and she chose incredible places for us to stay, places we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. She was really helpful with booking activities for our trip and was really quick to respond to any queries. Would highly recommend Leia and we hope to book future holidays with her.

Sent by Mal Hudson

Leia stepped in when our original travel operator went bust. She took our original itinerary and tweaked it to make it better allowing us more time to spend on our holiday. She was constantly in touch making sure everything went smoothly at all stages, not made easy by the previous operator going bust and not able to cancel the original flights. Leia put a plan in place so our new seats on the original flight didn't get cancelled by mistake. Even while we were in Canada Leia was on the case leaving welcome notes at each destination which was a nice touch. At one point actually phoning us to make sure we knew about road closures on the way to the Vancouver Island ferry which we knew nothing about at the time. All in all we had a great time and really appreciated the efforts Leia put into making our holiday run as smoothly as possible. We would have no problem at all in recommending Travel Counselors especially Leia Morales to anybody trying to plan a holiday. Thanks Leia

Sent by Gill Parker

Leia looked after us from start to finish. My husband is disabled and was very nervous about travelling abroad. Leia arranged extra help for us from arriving at the airport to getting home. We were so grateful. Our trip was a pleasure from beginning to end. We will be asking Leia to help us again in the spring.

Sent by Camilla Gilmore

I'm so glad we booked with Leia. She made the whole process really stress-free so we could relax and just enjoy our holiday. She suggested ideas to suit us that we wouldn't have thought of and we had a fantastic time. She was really helpful throughout the booking process and in the run up to our holiday so we felt confident that everything would go smoothly. We really enjoyed our time away and will definitely be booking with her again.

Sent by Suzanne Astill

We booked a week in Rome with Leia Morales - she advised us on every aspect of our trip and booked us an amazing hotel , sightseeing tours and flights / transfers. She was really knowledgeable and organised. Highly recommend!

Sent by Mark Pinks

Cannot recommend Leia Morales highly enough - Leia took all the stress out of booking our holiday to Dubrovnik, it was such a breeze, and Leia took care of every detail, from superb recommendations, COVID advice, transfers, even a little nice surprise when we got to our hotel room. Leia also booked a wonderful excursion for us, which was perfect, and responded to our WhatsApps when we were there to check us in to the return flight. Forget the high street travel agents, Travel Counsellors are so much better.

Sent by Gill Parker

We had the most wonderful holiday, arranged by Leia. Everything was organised, down to the last detail. My husband has said that he will not consider any other way of choosing a holiday after this fantastic experience.

Sent by Lindsey Taylor

Excellent service provided. After sending through our requirements to Leia she very swiftly sent through her recommendations to us which we were very happy with, securing our holiday straight away with a deposit. Leia followed our remit, worked with our budget and found us just what we were looking for. Thanks Leia!

Sent by Margaret Bonney

It's my 70th birthday this year, and I wanted a special holiday with family to celebrate it. So Leia has found us the perfect place in Menorca and we'll be there in late September, enjoying the sea and sun - setting us up for the winter days in UK to come! With her experience of travelling with a small child, she was able to offer us excellent advice about what we needed to take for my young grandchild. She was able to cope with our varying needs - whether for sightseeing, or for poolside relaxation - altogether a stress-free way for us to find our perfect holiday this year! Thank you Leia!

Sent by Harrison Palmer

Leia is knowledgeable about her industry, very well organised and a pleasure to deal with. All our travel details were tailored to our requirements which made our holiday experience run very smoothly and stress-free. Leia's costs are very reasonable too. We will not hesitate to use Leia again in the future.

Sent by Mal Hudson

Leia has been very helpful and is always available Came highly recommended

Sent by Melanie Hughes

Leia has been a hugely supportive wing-woman throughout the challenging travel situation of 2021 as my husband and I figured out a problematic visa situation. She was always on hand throughout our trip to offer advice and a multitude of different travel options to support us, and was there for us even when last minute changes were needed. Leia's unwavering support in handling the logistics of this trip reduced our stress levels significantly; at a time where rules and restrictions are constantly changing it would have been a nightmare trying to figure everything out on our own.

Sent by Alex Lee

Fantastic service and knowledgeable would recommend to everyone x

Sent by Alex Dron

Leia has been nothing but helpful, accommodating and excellent in working around both our requirements, and those of the ongoing pandemic. Nothing but good things to say about our experience with her!

Sent by Jayne Sanderson

Leia offered a personalised service both in email and on zoom offering various honey options for us to view in our own time. Understanding both our needs and wants.

Sent by Chloe Fisher

Leia has given us another amazing holiday - our fourth booked with her (including our honeymoon)! Much closer to home this time though, with a staycation in the New Forest. Still had a fantastic time, and best of all, we paid the same price as we would have done if we had booked directly, without the hassle of booking whilst also giving us extra Covid-19 travel assurances! If anyone is looking for a break, near or far, now or in future, big or small, please consider using Leia - she can perform travel magic!

Sent by Sue Matthews

At quite short notice Leia researched and found us a fabulous place to stay in Weymouth (having given us a couple of options that were both matching our requirements). Throughout the process she provided us great information, service and went the extra mile with a lovely delivery of some delicious picnic items one morning. Thoroughly recommend her and will be using her next time too! Thanks Leia, you made our last minute UK holiday feel very special :)

Sent by Bernard Carey

We have used Leia as our Travel Consultant for a number of years and are looking forward to continuing to do so now she has her own business. Whether a Caribbean all-inclusive sun break, a Fly Drive Road Trip, or a Coach/Rail/Cruise adventure, Leia has always taken our basic outline and put together a bespoke package to suit or needs. We had an excellent trip to Canada & Alaska in 2019 and the professional way Leia coordinated the excursions was really highlighted in conversations with other guests in hotels en-route. Our stops and excursions were all carefully selected by Leia to compliment each other and build a memorable holiday experience; we encountered some other families with examples of 'overlap' in their activities where their travel agent presumably hadn't checked what the individual excursions involved. We were so glad that Leia had thought of everything. We can't wait to book our next holiday with her.

Sent by John Hannay

Leia, May I thank you for organising such a long and complex holiday. It went without a hitch until the dreaded Corvid came along. You can be assured of all my future travel arrangements, and I will recommend you to all my friends.

Sent by Sonal Shah

Leia has been making my travel arrangements for several years now and I wouldn’t trust anyone else. She always understands our requirements and makes suitable recommendations. She is knowledgeable, friendly and very easy to communicate with. Each and every holiday arranged through her has been a memorable one. She is a pleasure to deal with and certainly makes planning our trips enjoyable and stress free! Thanks so much for your support (and the support of the extended family!)