Based in Bishops Itchington

Rebecca Mottram

Available for new enquiries

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

It's Nice To Meet You

Welcome! My name is Rebecca (or Bex) and I live in the Midlands with my husband and young daughter. Thank you for taking the time to visit my webpage.
I was lucky enough to discover travel from an early age, and since I can remember I have always had the wanderlust bug. I’ve spent extended periods of time abroad and I live for my next holiday often counting down the days until I can set off again. I now get the privilege of planning and arranging bespoke trips for my customers so you can tick big bucket list adventures off dream lists too.
Maternity leave was the kickstart I needed to pursue my dream to spend more time with my wonderful family and set up my own travel business. This has given the flexibility to watch my amazing daughter grow into the cheeky little human she is becoming whilst simultaneously be available for my customers at a time to suit you.
As an independent Travel Counsellor I can help you tailor your next dream trip. Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach break, a search for adventure, a whistlestop city break or a twin-centre holiday, let me put together the perfect holiday for you. I provide a friendly personal service, offering peach of mind when booking with me, and I can save you both time and money.
My attention to detail, caring nature and integrity help me ensure that customers get exactly what they want and they get the best possible experience they can. Travel Counsellors helps me do this as they are a world-leading, independent company offering 100% financial protection, 24/7 care whilst you are travelling and technology that provides personalised information about all bookings in real time. As I work from home I can be flexible with my customers and speak at a time convenient for you be that early morning, lunchbreaks or late at night.
You don’t necessarily want to think about things going wrong on your special trip that has been planned for months. However, things do happen. By booking with me you can relax knowing you’re in the hands of a professional, who has the support of a wider team 24/7 so you can spend longer packing your suitcase or sipping cocktails on the beach.
If you find booking the perfect holiday more stressful than enjoyable, then let me provide you with a better travel experience than you can find yourself leaving you to simply enjoy every moment.
Whatever the enquiry, I’d be delighted to hear from you soon and personally help plan your next travel adventure x

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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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My Videos

Daios Cove, Crete, Greece

7/9/2023

A customer experience in Crete!

Sri Lanka

7/9/2023

A customer's experience of Sri Lanka

A customer's experience in St Lucia

6/20/2023

Watch a snippet of a customer's holiday to St Lucia

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.

Incredible Queensland Experiences

10 April 2024

Explore the Sunshine State’s glorious beaches and stunning reefs on this handpicked itinerary. You’re sure to love the Daintree Rainforest’s pristine environment, incredible wildlife, and the underwater world of coral gardens and tropical fish found on the Great Barrier Reef. Take to the open road and discover the beautiful sights Tropical North Queensland is just waiting to be explored and what better way than having a car. Explore hidden treasures from diverse landscapes to abundant native wildlife. Tropical waterfalls and rainforests are all en-route. Green Island Discovery Green Island is a stunning 6000 year old cay located on the Great Barrier Reef. Swim or snorkel directly from the beach or join a snorkel excursion with a marine biologist. Board a glass bottom boat for coral viewing or take a stroll through the magical rainforest. Explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef Snorkel amongst a rainbow of coloured reefs and spectacular marine life on the Great Barrier Reef. It comprises of 3,000 separate reefs and is home to over 1,500 species of fish, abundant marine life and over 200 types of birds. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Head out on a rainforest adventure in the Daintree Rainforest Take a guided walk along Cape Tribulation to see flawless white beaches and dense tropical rainforest. Cruise on the River Daintree and listen to a local guide explain the biodiversity and wildlife. Arguably fitting in more untouched beauty, ancient culture and adventure than some entire countries manage. Stroll along Cairns Esplanade Cairns, a vibrant haven in Tropical North Queensland, enchants with its vibrant city life, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, lush rainforests, and diverse cultural experiences. Dive into the vibrant Esplanade, visit the Cairns Art Gallery, and take the scenic Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for panoramic views.

Discover hidden gems with these destination dupes

09 April 2024

In response to a growing desire among travellers to uncover hidden gems free from the hustle and bustle of mass tourism, I've curated a mini collection of 'destination dupes'— some all-time favourite spots for those seeking the essence of popular locations without the crowds. Often more affordable, these picks promise the same joy and beauty as mainstream places, but allow you to experience them in a quieter, more personal setting. Discover hidden gems with these destination dupes Paros instead of Santorini While the sunset views from the volcanic caldera of Santorini draw the crowds and the Instagrammers, many from cruise ships, its fellow Cycladic Island of Paros is much more low-key, with gorgeous golden sand beaches, crystalline waters, and lovely walks along Byzantine footpaths linking traditional villages lost in time. Its capital and ferry port Parikia stands out for its preserved seaside windmill and 4th-century Byzantine church. Perth instead of Sydney The west coast city has the benefit of being accessible by direct flights from London, but that’s not the only thing it has going for it: the capital of Western Australia also offers sandy beaches, riverside parks and gardens, and fantastic cultural venues, as well as being the gateway to natural wonders, including the Pinnacles Desert. It’s also great for foodies thanks to its fresh seafood and cuisine ranging from traditional Aussie to Vietnamese. Palermo instead of Lisbon Like the Portuguese capital, Sicily’s main city oozes charm, impressive architecture, and great food. Must-sees are the 12th-century cathedral with its royal tombs and Cappella Palatina with its Byzantine mosaics, but you’ll want to spend just as much time browsing the stalls in locations such as the Ballarò street market and trying fantastic local dishes. Memphis instead of Nashville The big-hitting home of country music is Nashville, but its Tennessee neighbour, Elvis' hometown of Memphis, is just as compelling. A visit to Graceland is a must, of course, but so is a trip to Sun Studio, where The King changed music history with his live recording of 'That's Alright, Mama’. The city is also known as the Barbecue Capital of America – don’t leave without sampling some of its legendary ribs. Pattaya instead of Bangkok For those who like things lively, this eastern Gulf Coast city blends cabaret bars, night markets, amusement parks, great shopping, golf courses, and beaches with fascinating culture to rival that of the Thai capital, including several sacred places and temples – the most prominent being the hillside Wat Phra Yai Temple with its gleaming 12-metre-tall golden Buddha. Taipei instead of Seoul The South Korean capital is rivalled by that of Taiwan – an exciting, bustling hub of street food hotspots, night markets, striking modern architecture (such as the bamboo-inspired Taipei 101 skyscraper) contrasting with tiny lanes dating from Japanese colonial times, and wonderful shopping. There are also great day trips to the hot springs of Beitou. Curaçao instead of Saint Martin The Dutch Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten are both desirable destinations off many visitors’ radars. Visit the former for its enchanting capital Willemstad, with its pastel-painted colonial architecture, floating bridge, and sand-floored synagogue, as well as for its untouristy beaches and coves, its fabulous diving sites, and the marine wonders of its coral reefs. Which ones have you been to or recommend? Are there any others I'm missing? I'd love to know!

Why you should travel in Shoulder Seasons

09 April 2024

There are so many great reasons to experience certain destinations in the shoulder seasons – that sweet spot between a region’s peak season and off-season. Think fewer crowds and queues for major attractions, better-value flights and other travel, and a more authentic experience of the destination. We’ve put our heads together to share a few of our favourite places that can be just as good or even better outside of high season. The best shoulder season destinations to avoid the crowds Venice ‘La Serenissima’ is often very crowded in summer, and you’ll appreciate its architectural wonders and other charms much better in spring, autumn, and winter. The milder temperatures make for much more pleasant sightseeing and general ambling (perhaps the greatest joy of visiting Venice), and the occasional mist or fog makes the city even more atmospheric. Malta This magical Mediterranean island is a joy all year round, but in May and September, you can enjoy the fascinating historical sights, lovely beaches, and fantastic food and drink without the crowds. And even a visit during winter is an option – you’ll have gorgeous cultural sites such as the Mdina and the megalithic temples almost to yourselves. Iceland Even though you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland in winter, very cold weather and shorter days mean its off-season lasts right through from September to May, and things get particularly quiet from January to May, so you’ll benefit from more affordable flights, car hire, and accommodation. The Alps Blissful walking and hiking trails and scenic railways thread through these peaks in countries, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia. Mountain landscapes are busiest during mid-June to early September, but the weather can still be perfect for outdoor activities in May and late September, and in late spring you’ll see Alpine wildflowers and trees blooming, while September brings the grape harvest. Africa Many of Africa’s safari hotspots are worth considering in the low (rainy, lusher) ‘green season’ (broadly April to November, but varying a bit by country), rewarding you with more space and better availability, but still ensuring fantastic game viewing in places such as Botswana and Kenya. In Tanzania, you’re also likely to see more lion cubs and other babies during the off-peak months. Thailand The off-season months (roughly our summertime) coincide with the rainy season here as in much of the rest of Southeast Asia. But the actual weather can vary drastically, and if you’re ready for some relatively short-lived downpours, you can enjoy many of Thailand’s top attractions and beaches in peace. You’ll also enjoy some incredible savings on villas and other accommodation as well. USA and Canada November to April in North America is typically chilly and wet, but you can still enjoy all the major cultural venues and attractions in iconic cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Vancouver, and Toronto. And in the depths of winter, many of these destinations are snow-clad and even more enchanting than usual. Australia Heading ‘down under’ during the off-season (June to August) can reap rewards in terms of serious savings on flights, accommodation, and activities. The weather is still warm and sunny during these months in many places, including Far North Queensland, tropical home to the Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Forest with its crocodiles and cassowaries.

Hotel of the month

28 March 2024

Welcome to the Costa Rica of the Caribbean…..set upon one of the most unspoiled islands in the Caribbean, Dominica, Fort Young Hotel is located on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The island is off the beaten track and remains unspoilt by the impacts of mass tourism. It offers an ethical, environmentally supportive option for travellers. Fort Young is the gateway to the best adventures Dominica has to offer. The four-star waterfront hotel, is built directly into the island’s historic fort and centrally located in the capital Roseau. It is right on the doorstep of the French Quarter’s vibrant markets so guests can browse the shops and discover the well-preserved colonial architecture. Yet it is also the base camp for adventures around the island. Dominica is dubbed ‘the nature island’ of the Caribbean on par with Costa Rica with jaw-dropping land and seascapes to the rainforest, the Caribbean creole culture, trekking in the mountains, hiking, waterfalls, hot springs, thermal spas and other exciting adventures, guests may not want to leave. Five days are a minimum number of days for a guest to really enjoy Dominica and take wonderful memories back home but I'd suggest a full week if time allows. Dominica has a stunning shoreline and is also blessed with a network of rivers. There is one river for every day of the year, offering opportunities for rafting and canyoning. Furthermore, there are some amazing nature trails to explore including the Caribbean’s longest hiking trail . Meander the island’s thermal spas, 365 rivers, dramatic waterfalls, lush foliage and secluded beaches. The Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort is a full-service, heritage hotel on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. This oceanfront venue in Dominica’s vibrant capital, Roseau, provides unmatched access to the heart of the island, situated in the original fort built in 1699. Adventure is just a walk away with access to the markets, plenty of hiking opportunities, the islands hot springs and the ocean all on your doorstep. The modern, boutique-style accommodations and peerless amenities complete an idyllic Caribbean holiday for guests. Underwater is just as vibrant as on land with snorkelling opportunities in the Champagne reef where you can get up close and personal with marine life, corals and even perhaps spot a native sperm whale. Fort Young is the only property on the island that has a dive shop and dive boats (from October) and unlimited shore diving just outside the hotel, they have sunk some canons and ocean-aged Dominican rum. All these tours are within five – twenty minutes either walking, by car or boat from the hotel and available on the island included package. You need a minimum of five nights to book this package. Fort Young Hotel and Dive Resort has an array of amenities from a super infinity pool and jacuzzi, to a restaurant that serves sustainably sourced food to underwater adventure from the dock, your stay at the Fort Young is bound to be full. The hotel also offers yoga classes and spa treatments at the ocean front Zemi Spa. The hotel is the perfect place to celebrate a wedding, honeymoon, family milestone, business meeting or corporate retreat, with scenic function areas and meeting areas, Guests are encouraged to embrace the island’s wider offerings as part of the ‘island-included’ tour package offered to each and every guest. Furthermore the Activities Desk is where guests can book tours and guides to enhance their stay. Fort Young offers a variety of all-inclusive packages as well as an enhanced All Inclusive Island Included package, Experience a fresh take on all-inclusive, designed for the colourful and curious who seek unconventional adventures and wellness distinct to Dominica. Whether swapping stories with locals while rum tasting in town, hiking hilltops to find waterfalls or giving your mind a rest with an afternoon at the spa, Fort Young Hotel’s unique newest island included package provides guests with tailored experiences that will allow them to maximise their island escape. This is perfect for the more adventurous and inquisitive traveller. Where else do you get an activity included each day? Like what you read? Get in touch and I can put together a bespoke itinerary to perhaps include a beach stay somewhere else too...

8 road trips in Queensland

13 March 2024

When you’re at the wheel, the journey (and the soundtrack) is totally your control. And when you’re in Queensland, the best way to travel is to get off the highway and off-the-beaten track. It’s where you’ll find Australia’s tallest waterfall, rugged landscapes, tiny outback pubs with big reputations, and secret beaches that only the locals know about. There’s good reason that 5.4 million people take a drive-holiday here in the Sunshine State each year. The freedom of the open road in front of you, and the ‘every day’ in your rear-view mirror. Whether you’ve got a day or a week up your sleeve, these are the scenic drives in Queensland that you need to experience. 1. Drive from the sea to the sky Wallaman Falls | 8 scenic drives Queensland A scenic drive packed with verdant sugar cane country, hairpin bends, waterfalls and elevation giving way to 360-degree farming vistas. The 165km drive between coastal city Townsville and the iconic Wallaman Falls is one of North Queensland’s best day trips. Feel your ears pop on the way to this landmark: Wallaman Falls wears the title of Australia’s tallest single drop waterfall, at an impressive 268 metres. Being tall isn’t Wallaman’s only claim to fame, though. It’s nestled into Girringun National Park, which is also the gateway to the Wet Tropics, one of the oldest forests in the planet. Don’t just see the rainforest, drive right through it with this scenic drive that comes with its own World Heritage-listed backdrop. 2. Travel into the clouds Eungella National Park | A local's guide to Mackay Put your head in the clouds with a scenic drive from Mackay to Eungella National Park, a place that directly translates to “land of the clouds”. The 85km drive to Eungella couldn’t be more different from the sugarcane capital. The landscape transforms before your eyes, as you wind your way into Mackay’s fairytale-like mountains. Sections of the road are covered by streams. In the wet season, you’ll have waterfalls cascading to the left and gorges to your right. So lush is this drive, at times you’ll need to keep the windows up to keep the moisture out. If you’re lucky enough to time your drive with a clear day (a tough feat, given the destination’s reputation), you’ll be rewarded with views over Mackay’s farming plains. 3. Clock up the odometer from Cairns to Cooktown Captain Cook Highway | scenic drives Queensland Ancient rainforest on one side, and the world’s most famous reef on the other. The drive between Cairns and Cooktown is a dynamic duo. And the Great Barrier Reef Drive and Bloomfield Track are household names in Australia for a reason. This journey is a true kaleidoscope of colour. From the bright blue reef, to the deep green rainforest and bright red dirt as you head further north. There are viewing platforms and rest bays along the way to ensure you can get out of the car to actually soak it all in. Be sure to stop at Rex Smeal Park in Port Douglas, and Cow Bay to see where the rainforest meets the reef. 4. Explore the sandy highway of Fraser Island Seventy Five Mile Beach, Fraser Island Great Sandy National Park Make tracks on the biggest sand island in the world for a scenic drive with a sandy difference. You’ll soon see why it’s one of the most special places on earth. From the mainland, take your 4WD on the Kingfisher Bay Resort vehicle ferry before taking off to the east coast of the island, where the off-road adventure really begins. Crossing from west coast to east coast, you’ll be in the driver’s seat to discover Central Station. Make sure to stop at inland lakes like McKenzie and Wabby for a quick dip: these waters are as inviting as they come. This scenic drive is the most fun you’ll ever have driving at 30km/hr on the inland tracks and absolute exhilaration as you hit up to 80km/hr along the beach highway. 5. Get off (or on) the beaten track Birdsville Track | 8 scenic drives you need to do at least once in your life To get completely off-the-beaten-track, get on the Birdsville Track. It runs over 500kms from Marree to the western corner of Queensland and is a highly coveted journey in 4WD communities. What makes this drive so special is this is not bitumen or dirt. You’ll be driving across broken sandstone called gibber, as you traverse the Sturt Stony Desert. Desert flags are a must, as is an appetite for adventure (and dust). 6. Taste your way through the three M’s Had your fill of the beach? It’s time to fill your stomach. Introducing the 55km Blackall Range Tourist Drive, which incorporates Maleny, Montville and Mapleton and all their walks, waterfalls and windy roads. The Tourist Drive is quite literally the high road, 370m above sea level connecting these villages in the mountains. Wind your way between the townships and rolling hills, with glimpses back to the coastline on those hairpin bends. 7. Discover the green behind the Gold Coast Natural Bridge Springbrook National Park The sun’s afternoon golden glow bounces off rocks onto the lush green rainforest around you. This is one scenic drive where you should turn your radio down. Today’s soundtrack? Native birds and rushing waterfalls of the Gold Coast Hinterland. The pièce de résistance en route is Natural Arch, one of the Gold Coast’s most photographed falls. 8. Make tracks to the world’s longest lava tubes Undara | Tropical North Queensland Packing more landscapes into 300kms than most people would only see if they travelled to three countries, the drive between Cairns and Undara packs a potent punch of rainforest, reef and outback. Arguably Queensland’s most accessible outback, this scenic drive will give you a taste of central Australia without the long commute. This road trip travels south-west of Cairns, and takes four hours if you travel via Kuranda – the village in the rainforest. Make a quick pit stop at the Kuranda markets, before continuing onto the Atherton Tablelands where the rainforest is swapped for farmland. The lava tubes developed underneath a once-active volcano more than 190,000 years ago. Looking for something a little longer? I know just the answer. For nothing but sunshine and sand, the Great Beach Drive is unmissable. Get in touch to plan your perfect route!

8 awesome things to do in China

10 February 2024

I don’t know about you, but while Chinese New Year festivities are brilliant in the UK, they also make me dream about wanting to go to China itself. A vast and hugely varied country, it has some incredible sights, whether you're a first-time visitor or a returning explorer. Join me as I reveal some top must-see destinations and unforgettable experiences in China. Walk the Great Wall It would take you about 17 months to walk the entire length of the Great Wall of China – at 21,196km, it’s roughly 1.5 times the distance between Singapore and Los Angeles! But you can walk as much or as little of it as you like, over a few hours or several days, experiencing both the evocative old parts and newer portions. One of the most popular sections, ideal for a day hike, is Jiankou to Mutianyu. Wander Beijing’s Summer Palace The world’s largest, best-preserved royal garden is actually a vast complex of landscaped gardens, palaces, lakes, and hills. Once known as the 'Versailles of the East’, it’s now a public park where you can wander amidst Jesuit-designed palaces and scores of Chinese, Tibetan, and Mongolian-style buildings. Among the highlights are the Eternal Spring Garden, the Great Fountain, and the remnants of the Haiyantang Reservoir. See the Terracotta Army (Bingmayong) Located close to Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province in central China, one of the country’s most iconic sights is this collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of China. The thousands of life-size, hand-moulded figures were buried with him in 210–209 BCE to protect him in the afterlife. Tour Jiuzhai Valley National Park Set in China’s Sichuan province, this network of valleys has several focal points: Nuorilang waterfall in the Shuzheng Valley, the Zharu Monastery, and the Rize Valley with its mountains clad by ancient forests. Best of all, perhaps, is the multicoloured Five Flower Lake in its shades of sapphire, emerald, jade, pale turquoise, and amber yellow, believed by locals to be a holy site. Climb up to the Tian Tan Buddha ‘Big Buddha’ is indeed one of the world’s largest seated Buddha statues, made up of just over 200 bronze pieces and ensconced on a three-storey platform on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island. Completed in 1993 as an extension of the Po Lin Monastery, it’s accessed via 268 stone steps, or there’s vehicle access via a small road for disabled visitors. Stroll along Shanghai’s Bund Also known as Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (East Zhongshan 1st Road), this landmark stretch of waterfront – a symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years – is where Western-style banks and trading houses were built after foreign powers entered the city after the 1842 Opium War. It’s a great place to amble, especially at night, with views of Huang Pu River and the city’s epic skyline. Visit the limestone mountains and caves of Guilin Unique in the world, this landscape genuinely takes your breath away. The ‘Forest of Sweet Osmanthus’ was formed by deep erosion of the limestone plateau, leaving tall needle-shaped pinnacles with trees sprouting from their steep sides. Many Chinese paintings and poems have been inspired by them. There are also lots of caves, including Ludiyan (‘Reed Flute Cave’) with its Tang Dynasty inscriptions. Experience the glamour of Macau This former Portuguese territory across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong has been nicknamed the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’ for its giant casinos, shopping malls, and landmarks such as the Macau Tower with its fabulous city views. A fascinating cocktail of cultural influences, it includes more than 20 impressive buildings in the UNESCO-listed Historic Centre. Which one do you fancy most?

Top Trending Destinations for 2024

09 July 2023

Where’s next for you now? You might have been on some lovely holidays lately and are back home and wondering how you’re going to top your latest adventure? Well, this blog is for you if you don’t want to miss out. These are six of the best destinations that are up and coming for 2024. 1. Thailand This country really does have a lot to offer, from spectacular beach resorts of the south to encounters with elephants in the north. The ‘Land of Smiles’ really does have something for everyone and is the perfect destination to add to a multi-centre holiday as it’s so easy to combine the culture of a city break with an adventure in the jungle or on the river and finish up with an indulgent relaxing beach break. All wrapped up in a fortnight’s holiday. What’s more is the food is scrummy and you won’t be disappointed. 2. Florida This thrilling state is nearly 60% the size of the UK, so it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to its vast array of attractions. Families love Orlando as the theme-park capital of the world, but there are no fewer than 11 National Parks in the state too and masses of outdoors activities that go with them, from airboating among mangrove swamps to swimming in hot springs near manatees. Again, this is the perfect place to mix it up with a two-centre holiday combining theme-park thrills with adventure or with a beach stay somewhere like Clearwater or the Florida Keys. 3. Barbados One of the most popular Caribbean islands, Barbados delights everyone from those who want to soak up some of its convivial party-going spirit to those who want to retreat from the world into boutique luxury. Cruise stop-offs are also a way of discovering the island as many of the regional itineraries depart from its fascinating capital Bridgetown. Aside the blissful beach life, Barbados has plenty to see and do, from an underground cave system to botanical gardens. The locals are so welcoming too so you won’t want to leave. 4. Greece From the ancient sights of the Acropolis to hidden coves on little-visited islands, Greece has the space and scope for everyone to find their little piece of heaven. As each island is so unique from its neighbour, ferry-hopping is a great way to get around and take in several destinations. For those of you who prefer to choose just the one option and stay put in one place for your breaks, you can easily enjoy either mountains, beaches, olive groves, historic ruins or tavernas in Greece. You won’t be disappointed. Particularly popular is the island of Santorini with its incredible sunset views, often a stop-off on many Mediterranean cruises. 5. Maldives Once the preserve of honeymooners and couples, this is still one of the world’s top destinations for a romantic retreat, but families, friends and solo travellers are also catered for in resorts custom-designed for different needs. The marine life is the big attraction here, from manta rays to turtles and dolphins, and if you don’t dive, many islands have their own house reefs within swimming or even paddling distance, with snorkelling an option for all ages. Some resorts also run boat trips to local islands to see Maldivian life and traditions in action. 6. Italy A quintessential destination with something to tempt everyone – couples, lone travellers, families and friends – Italy really does have it all. The food and wine alone are reason enough for a visit, but there are also some of the world’s most important artworks, breath-taking architecture, glorious cities including Florence, Venice and Rome, gorgeous seaside resorts, mountains, and islands. Much of Italy, especially Tuscany, can be visited as part of Mediterranean cruise itineraries too. So, there you have it. The top most popular destinations for 2024. Did you spot any that were already on your list of destination dreams? But, here’s the secret, you shouldn’t wait until the New Year to book your next trip. Loads of customers book way in advance and it’s a really great way to get the most of your planning stage, and often the way to get the best prices. Get in touch now to start planning and to work out how to fit in all your ideas, trips and wanderlust dreams! If you don’t already, follow me on Instagram and Facebook for destination inspiration, up to date information and some latest offers.

The 5 best honeymoon styles in 2024

20 November 2023

I’m often asked by clients what is the best honeymoon. There are so many options depending on what you want to remember from your honeymoon. But here are the top 5 all-time favourite styles of honeymoon already being booked for 2024 and beyond. Safari Couples always want to go on Safari for their honeymoon. Often they’ve saved it as an idea for their honeymoon and it’s one of those big bucket-list holidays with memories lasting forever. While South Africa often springs to mind, actually the Great Migration in the Mara Reserve (Kenya) is gaining popularity with honeymooners who want something that little bit different and extra special moments. Adventure Many couples now want to do more with their time away from their daily lives and a road trip is one of those honeymoons that ticks so many boxes. The Rocky Mountains in Western Canada offers fantastic accommodation options, beautiful landscape scenery, amazing wildlife opportunities and completely fits the brief for an adventurous honeymoon. But don’t let that put you off! I can tailor any trip to the adventure level right for you as a couple – you don’t have to zipline from the top of a mountain to fully enjoy an ‘adventure’ honeymoon (unless you want to of course!) Beach Who doesn’t love a beach honeymoon? Specifically the Maldives. It’s probably the most enquired destination in general, but there’s so much that couples love about the Maldives for their honeymoon trip. If you’re looking for a honeymoon to seriously chill after the hustle and bustle of arranging an entire wedding, with impeccable service almost guaranteed, then you’re in the right place. If you choose the right Maldivian island for you, you’ll be left feeling like newlywed rockstars – and so you should be! Multicentre Can’t decide? Then a multicentre honeymoon is best for you. Whether you want a combination of South Africa’s Garden Route with Mauritius, a city break in Dubai and a stay in Thailand, or even a beach break in Singapore before heading Down Under for a wonderful experience in Australia, multicentre honeymoons offer so much to keep both of you happy with a range of experiences. Plus, a honeymoon is typically one of the longest holidays you take from work nowadays, so why not make the most of it and visit multiple places? Minimoon And finally, for those who are more time conscious, there’s a popular option of a minimoon. A lot of people opt for a European, shorter break often followed by a longer honeymoon at a later date. But a honeymoon closer to home doesn’t mean it has to be any less special. Take advantage of honeymoon offers by hotels to get things like free room upgrades, a bottle of sparkling wine…you get the idea. Get a free lounge pass on me! And as a big congratulations for getting married and booking the honeymoon of your dreams, I’m offering all of you readers a free lounge pass for every honeymoon booking made with me. Just quote LOVEOURWEDDING when you get in touch and I’ll be sure to add it to your booking.

A Costa Rica Itinerary You Don't Want To Miss

03 November 2023

I recently put together this itinerary for a client who wanted to experience the luscious rainforest and wildlife in Costa Rica. The priority was photography for the holiday and including lots of activities. Arenal | Monteverde | Tamarindo There are plenty of alternatives you could swap in and out for a two week stay in Costa Rica. There are so many wonderful destinations you could keep coming back time and time again with so much to do and see. But for now, take a look at the below: Day 1 Arrival In Liberia And Transfer To Arenal Day 2 Free Day In Arenal - Visit the Volcano Day 3 Caño Negro Boat Tour Day 4 Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike Tour Day 5 Lake Crossing To Monteverde Day 6 Monteverde Nature Walk Day 7 Free Day In Monteverde Cloud Forest Day 8 Zip-line across the cloud forest by day, do a guided night walk in the forest by night (Monteverde) Day 9 Journey To Tamarindo Beach And Town Day 10 Mangrove & Estuary Boat Tour to see the turtles and marine life Day 11-14 Free days to relax by the beach in Tamarindo Day 15 Homeward Bound Included in the itinerary are flights, private transfers between locations (excluding the boat transfer), a contact on the ground who will ensure your trip is truly perfect, and a special WOW moment that won't be divulged until you are there. You'll also have me in the UK available on demand for those extra questions, and you'll have the Travel Counsellors Duty Office in case of emergencies. Prices in peak season (November to April) for two adults are approx £7000 for comfort level hotels of £8800 for superior rooms. Remember, I can adapt everything to suit your needs! Get in touch to find out more!

Give the gift of travel this Christmas

13 November 2023

It’s that time of year again. You haven’t finished your Christmas shopping but don’t want to head out into the cold to go grab those last few presents… Or perhaps you’re struggling for ideas and don’t know what to buy those difficult loved ones. They have everything they want anyway! Well, I have the perfect gift idea for you. Give the gift of travel this Christmas. I offer gift cards that can be bought for family and friends alike, and they can use them towards future holidays and adventures – whether that’s a family getaway, a city break for two, an all-inclusive cruise or something completely different – our vouchers unlock a world of possibilities. Get in touch to find out more about what you can spend a gift card on with me, Rebecca Mottram Travel Counsellor.

Where to book, where to travel in November

10 October 2023

So, we’ve almost made it to the end of 2023. How? That’s has absolutely flown by. By now those memories of summer holidays are slowly fading, along with the tans (what little I had is long gone) and now my attention is turning to my next holiday. Luckily for me it’s already booked. I’m going away somewhere secret as a surprise trip with one of my best friends next month. However, for many of you, you might not know yet where you’d like to go. So grab a cup of tea and take a read of the blog for November. Do you fancy a spontaneous break? Well, carry on reading. These are some of the best places to travel in November. Where to travel in November? New York – now is a great time to be heading off to the Big Apple. You can experience NYC in all of its winter glory and soak up the sights whilst shopping ahead of Christmas. What isn’t there to like? Maldives – November is peak season for the Maldives with the best weather. What’s more is that the manta ray season starts in November with some atolls having great snorkelling and diving opportunities to get up close to the wildlife. Oman – the cooler temperatures in the month of November make it the perfect time to visit and explore. Nepal – November is a popular time for trekking and stunning views of the mountains. Have you wanted to get to base camp Everest? Now’s your time! What to book? So we’re about 6 months away from the start of the summer peak period, and there’s not really such a thing as a last minute deal nowadays. Plus, booking your travels in advance means that you know what it’s going to cost and you can start paying off parts of the bill as and when you fancy. So where do you want to travel in the next 6 months? Skiing – this for me is a must. It’s such a different type of holiday and really hits the spot helping you beat those winter blues! An early summer getaway could be to South East Asia, Caribbean or perhaps the Maldives again? Somewhere sunny is always a good idea. And then there’s the Summer holidays themselves – where do you want to go? Greek island hopping? On a small group tour with a specialist company? Do you fancy a cruise, perhaps you’ve always wanted to get over to Alaska and cruise the coastline? The possibilities are endless, and it’s really dependent on the type of holiday you’d like. However, what is important is that you book with someone trustworthy. And that’s where I come in. I’m passionate about making sure all of your holidays are perfect from start to finish. I pride myself in customer service – you wont get through to a call centre when you call me. And should the worst happen you know I’m here working hard to get it all sorted ASAP with as little disruption for you! So…what are you waiting for? Let’s get chatting and get your holiday booked!

Beat the January Blues

09 October 2023

Blue Monday is a recognised phenomenon, falling on the 15th of January in 2024. It’s known as the saddest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when people realise the festive period is over and it’s time to return to the working week, and the weather gets colder and darker. But it’s not all doom and gloom! The best way to shake off the January blues is with a getaway. Whether you’re dreaming of sunny beaches or you want to embrace the chilly weather in a snowy wonderland, here is where to travel in January to beat the winter blues. But to make sure you’re having the time of your life on 15th January next year, we need to get planning it! So where do you want to go? Let’s start with the colder travel ideas: Finland – A great time to visit Lapland and experience the magic of the area. Norway – Do you fancy a cruise of the Norweigian Fjords? Now is the best time to go and spend time above the Arctic Circle to witness the spectacular Northern Lights. Iceland – A popular destination to visit in the winter where it doesn’t particularly get light. Get yourself in those thermal baths for a chance to warm up! Skiing – Obviously now is the perfect time to put on those boots and get yourself down the mountain. It’s great and nothing could be more inviting than those hot chocolates half way down the slopes. And to warm it up here are some ideas: South Africa - There’s no better way to beat the January blues than with a summer trip. Lucky for us, summer in South Africa runs from December to February, so it’s the perfect time for a trip to this beautiful country. Australia - The hot season runs from December to February in Australia, so a January getaway places you right in the middle of that iconic Australian summer. You can explore so many cities or rural areas and spend the whole of the winter Down Under if you want! Caribbean – The islands are perfect right now and will welcome you with sunshine, sandy beaches and some great food. Costa Rica - With everything from misty jungles to sandy beaches, Costa Rica is famed for its diverse weather. While the dry season runs from December to April, January is one of the driest months of the year… Making it the perfect time to shake off those January blues. You’ll get warm weather and lots of blue skies, so whether you want to spot the incredible wildlife, hike through the Cloud Forest in Monteverde, lounge on the beaches, or wander the city streets of San Jose, January is the month to do it. Thailand - Thailand in January is the ultimate antidote to the winter blues. The dry season serves up long, warm days perfect for exploring this amazing country. You can discover the temples, mountains and waterfalls in the north. Or sail around the islands in the south. You can even explore the vibrant streets and markets of Bangkok. Whatever you do, you’re sure to have an incredible trip in January to Thailand. Patagonia - If you want to get the best of Patagonia, the summer season from December to February is the best time to go. You’ll get the warmest and driest weather in January, perfect for hiking, kayaking, and exploring ‘til your heart’s content! The list really is endless with the classics like South-East Asia, Middle East, The Maldives…it’s up to you where you want to go really! Get in touch to discuss you January holiday to beat the winter blues.

The World's Most Captivating UNESCO Sites

18 October 2023

From the Galápagos Islands to Mount Fuji, this post reveals the UNESCO sites that I simply cannot take my eyes off! As we head into the depths of winter, we find ourselves eagerly planning our next exciting trip, and over the last few weeks I've been inspired by the rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty that UNESCO sites have to offer. With thousands of UNESCO World Heritage sites across the globe that beckon to be visited at least once in a lifetime, they make for amazing places to set our sights on our next adventure holiday. With plenty of historic locations to choose from, creating a shortlist of the most visually unforgettable experiences for travellers is always going to be a challenge. From the architectural marvels of Europe to the mountainous landscapes of North America, and the cultural richness of Asia, here are the wonders that capture the hearts (and eyes) of humanity: The World’s Most Captivating UNESCO Sites. Leading the way, we travel to the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. Its rugged mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, canyons, limestone caves, and fossils make it a truly captivating sight. The Canadian Rockies comprise a group of four national parks: Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho and offer numerous activities from hiking and wildlife viewing, to winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Next on our list is the vibrant cityscape of Rio de Janeiro, in particular the Carioca landscapes between the mountain and the sea. It's a spectacular blend of natural and urban environments, with the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer overseeing the city. From tropical forests and granite peaks to the iconic beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, an aerial view of the area proves why viewers find this UNESCO site so visually striking. Tied for third place are Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, Europe's oldest national park known for its cascading lakes, and Maloti-Drakensberg Park in South Africa, famous for its dramatic landscapes and impressive rock formations. In the Croatian site, visitors can explore the park through a network of wooden walkways and hiking trails, allowing them to witness the Plitvice Lakes’ stunning natural beauty up close. Meanwhile, Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a transboundary site that extends over both Lesotho and South Africa. The African park is renowned for the variety of plant and animal species it is home to, as well as its ancient rock art sites, which provide insight into the region's cultural heritage. Wrapping up the top five most visually striking UNESCO sites in the world is the Island of Mozambique, a historic island located off the northern coast of Mozambique. Known for its key role as a trading post in the 1600s, the island showcases a fascinating mix of architectural styles, including Arab, Indian, and European influences, and is known for its well-preserved colonial-era buildings, forts, and mosques. Coming in at number six on the list is the enigmatic Ancient City of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. This ancient city is renowned for its remarkable rock fortress, also known as the Lion Rock, standing amidst lush greenery. The site features intricate frescoes, landscaped gardens, and fascinating archaeological remains, all contributing to its allure. At number seven, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the charming Historic Centre of Oaxaca in Mexico tie in the rankings for the most captivating UNESCO locations. Angkor Wat is an extraordinary complex nestled within the dense jungles of Cambodia. The site encompasses numerous temples, reservoirs, and intricate bas-reliefs, representing the pinnacle of Khmer art and architecture. Meanwhile, the Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán stuns viewers and visitors alike with a captivating blend of Zapotec and Mixtec influences: Oaxaca’s centre displays well-preserved colonial architecture, while the archaeological site of Monte Albán features impressive pyramids, temples, and tombs. Petra, located in Jordan, secures the ninth position on our list. This UNESCO landmark is a true visual marvel. Carved into rose-coloured sandstone cliffs, the city's intricate rock-cut architecture, most notably the iconic Treasury, make it an unforgettable sight, drawing visitors from around the world. Rounding out our top ten is the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, encompassing Kyoto, Uji, and Otsu cities in Japan. These locations immerse viewers in Japan's rich cultural heritage. The historic monuments, including temples, shrines, and gardens, reflect the country's traditional architectural styles and spiritual traditions. Kyoto, in particular, is renowned for its enchanting bamboo forests, serene Zen gardens, and wooden temples, all contributing to its timeless allure. Further down the list, we find the stunning Yellowstone National Park in the United States, the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal in India and the vibrant biodiversity of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, all charming viewers with their unique beauty and cultural richness. What UNESCO sites do you love to visit?

Maximising your annual leave

09 October 2023

Annual leave. It's the holy grail isn't it? Personally that's what I used to live for, always needing a holiday in the diary and counting down until I can next put my Out of Office on. But what to do with those precious days? I've never been one to sit at home and curl up on the sofa for a day (although I can see the benefits of the self care), instead I use them to my advantage, get out of my comfort zone and travel somewhere new. Always! What would you like to do? Where would you like to go? Perhaps you're waiting for that perfect moment to travel. Let me tell you. The perfect time is now. You'll never get this time back. And the biggest regrets people have are often when they didn't "just do it". Yes, travel can be expensive. Especially at the moment with the costs of flights - thanks fuel charges! - but travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. I truly believe you gain so much when you travel. The cultures, the experiences, the people you meet and the memories. All of it is so important. Right, I've convinced you that you need to go. You want to go. But how will I fit it all in? Do you constantly wonder how people seem to be off holidaying all the time? Do you wish you could spend longer away from your desk? Well, the answer may be do little chunks here and there, or you can take a look below at my handy tips sheet. How to maximise your leave for 2024, book these dates: - 2nd to 5th January to get yourself 9 days - 25th March to 28th March and 2nd April to 5th April for 15 days off - 7th May to 10th May for 9 days off - 28th May to 31st May for 9 days off - 27th August to 30th August for 9 days off And wait for it…the best one - 23rd, 24th, 27th, 30th and 31st of December for 12 days off. If you combine this with the January leave you could be laughing all the way into February….kind of! Save this info and contact me once it’s been approved by your manager to get yourself some holidays sorted How to contact me? Email: Rebecca.mottram@travelcounsellors.com Call me: 02476 170108 WhatsApp me: 07794187180 Fill out my enquiry form on my social media pages and I’ll get back to you ASAP

5 Reasons to Visit Alaska

11 September 2023

The top reasons to visit Alaska include the state’s incredible scenery, wildlife and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. America’s largest state is home to some of the most impressive scenery, from gliding past icy glaciers and epic mountain peaks, to spotting humpback whales and bears, Alaska is home to some of the world’s wildest landscapes. It’s somewhere you will be reaching for your camera at every turn. So while Alaska is already firmly rooted on lots of bucket lists, let’s see if you want to add it to yours… The Landscapes Alaska is the largest US state by absolutely miles. To put that in context, it’s double the size of Texas (the 2nd largest state) and you could actually fit the 22 smallest states inside it! It’s vast, yet widely inaccessible due to its impenetrable landscapes. It’s raw and rugged, like a vast natural playground. Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America is a highlight. Here you can see icebergs being carved up, then smashing into the freezing waters. At over 20,000 feet, Mount Denali is North America’s highest peak, but over 15 of North America’s tallest mountains are in this state too. Oh and then there’s the fjords too. Kenai and Tracy Arm Fjords look particularly beautiful – great places to get snap happy, and there’s a chance to see plenty of wildlife too. The Wildlife Grizzly bears, black bears, polar bears, whales, sea lions, puffins, wolves, reindeer, caribou, sea otters, moose, eagles… I could go on! Alaska is SUCH a rich state for wildlife, and no matter where you head, you’re guaranteed to see something special. To give yourself the best chance of an exciting wildlife encounter, book onto a marine wildlife boat tour. They can’t guarantee you’ll see whales, but the captains know the wild Alaskan waters well. Meanwhile, on land, take a bus tour and you could spot the state’s very own big 5 - wolves, moose, grizzly bears, dall sheep and caribou. The Activities This is a state that’s ALL about the great outdoors! One of the most popular things to do in Alaska is to hop on a boat and explore the scenery. Along with spotting all the incredible creatures mentioned above, there are also chances to see Mother Nature in action. You’ll never forget the moment you saw a five-story sheet of ice shave off a glacier and plummet into the sea! Views like these are one of the big reasons to visit Alaska In Alaska, there are small planes and helicopters, which will fly you over the state’s untouched peaks and landscapes, unreachable by any other means. You won’t get a better view! If you love outdoor adventures, try your hand at ice climbing, kayaking, hiking, canoeing or fishing. Or for a dose of adrenalin, head to Ice Strait Point and get strapped into the world’s largest ZipRider. It’s an exhilarating experience, carrying you at 300ft over the forest floor, and reaching speeds of over 50mph! The Northern Lights One of the main reasons to visit Alaska is to see the illusive aurora borealis! While you’re most likely to see the northern lights in winter, there’s a chance to spot them from September until mid-April. The best viewing conditions are pure darkness, clear skies and mild weather. There are chances to see them across the state, but Fairbanks has the best track record for viewings. The Cruises You’re probably desperate to visit now, but unfortunately Alaska isn’t the easiest place to travel around. I think booking an Alaska cruise might be the best way to cram the best of the state into one trip. You can watch the Northern Lights (or sunrises) over the fjords from your balcony deck, that’s a trip of a lifetime! You can also top and tail an Alaskan cruise with a trip along the West coast of Canada – why not try the Rocky Mountaineer for some more stunning scenery! Get in touch to find out more about this wonderful destination and let's get it ticked off your bucket list!

The Secret to a Stress-Free Group Ski Holiday – book with me!

23 September 2023

The Secret to a Stress-Free Group Ski Holiday – book with me! There’s no denying that a group ski holiday is one of the best ways to enjoy the mountains. From sharing epic powder runs with your best mates to making memories at après-ski with your family and friends, a group ski trip is a whole lot of fun. Making this unforgettable week happen, however? Often not quite so enjoyable. Organising a ski trip for a group can be incredibly stressful. From all the differing opinions on initial decisions – where to go, when to go, how to get there – to the logistical nightmare that is booking accommodation and flights for all your pals. Nervously inputting everyone’s passport numbers, collecting deposits, dealing with the non-stop WhatsApp messages and lengthy email chains – all of this can easily diminish that joyful excitement that should come with the prospect of booking a holiday. It would mean a large group chat on WhatsApp or Messenger (often inevitably overrun with irrelevant videos and memes) or an email thread you can’t seem to ever see the end of. Either way, it can be hard to pinpoint specific information, responses or confirmations, leading the ‘group leader’ – whichever poor soul gets awarded this title – to have to sift back through entire conversations. Now, what if I said you can enjoy all of the ski holiday build up, by letting me take care of the admin? Each group member can pay me individually to save the lead passenger taking responsibility of having to remember who paid what and when. Now we’re talking… So, where do you want to go? The perfect resort is the one that fits your group best. Do you have a lot of young children in your group? Then perhaps Tignes or Flaine. Do you want to be able to drive from the UK? Then perhaps you want somewhere first on the 'ski roads'. Do you want to try somewhere a bit different this ski season? Then perhaps you’d be interested to ski in Banff? Are you keen to try out the après-ski settings? Is your group mainly beginners? Are there non-skiers in your group? Do you want to go off-piste? There really is somewhere right for every group. Get in touch with me to find out how I can help sort your skiing holiday with no hassle, I promise.

Top things to do in LA

11 September 2023

From the showbiz glamour of Hollywood and the upmarket shops of Rodeo Drive, to the bohemian vibes of Venice Beach, this Los Angeles itinerary will give you a great introduction to this buzzy Californian city. Welcome to la la land! Los Angeles is one of California’s most popular travel destinations. The vast, sprawling city is home to the world’s movie industry, and a little of that Tinseltown magic can be felt all over the city. However, there’s much more to Los Angeles than Hollywood – it’s one of the coolest and most vibrant cities in California. You’ll find gorgeous beaches, a great music scene and some of the best museums in the United States. There’s no shortage of things to do in Los Angeles, and it’d be impossible to fit everything into one short trip. To help you plan your LA city break, and find the coolest things to do in 2 days in Los Angeles, I’ve popped together this Los Angeles top tips –get in touch to start planning your trip! When Is The Best Time To Visit Los Angeles? Southern California is well known for its sunshine, so it’s a popular place to visit all year round. I’d recommend visiting in spring, when temperatures hover around the low 20s, the days are sunny, and the crowds scarce. Summer brings warmer weather, but also lots of tourists, so try to avoid if you can. Autumn is usually dry, hot and can be windy. Winter brings the chance of rain, although not much – this is Southern California after all! Tour Hollywood If you’re a first time visitor, start your Los Angeles itinerary in Hollywood, LA’s most iconic and stylish neighbourhood. Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where the star-studded sidewalks are a glittering reminder that this is a town filled with movie magic. Don’t miss the Chinese Theatre, Paramount Studios, the Sunset Strip, and of course, the iconic Hollywood sign – one of the most popular things to see in Los Angeles. If you start to get a little tired, there are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from. Grab Lunch at Grand Central Market LA’s iconic food hall, Grand Central Market, regularly tops the list of fun things to do in Los Angeles. After a busy morning of sightseeing in Hollywood, it’s a great place to stop and sample some of the best food in the city. The beauty of this bustling food market is that you’ll find a little bit of everything inside. Whether you’re into tacos, BBQ, dim sum or Italian meatballs, Grand Central Market is the place for you! Go Shopping in Beverley Hills LA is the shopping capital of California, and Beverley Hills is home to some of the swankiest shops you’ll find in the city. Whether you like to window shop, or are prepared for a big splurge, wandering through Rodeo Drive and the boulevards of Beverley Hills is a real treat. You won’t just find clothes stores either – this is a great place to come for local produce, books, homewares, wine and beauty products. Ride The Ferris Wheel At Pacific Park Pacific Park, located on the Santa Monica Pier, is one of LA’s top attractions. This theme park has everything you need for a fun afternoon, including some adrenaline-fuelled rides and roller coasters. The park boasts the only solar-powered ferris wheel in the world, lifting passengers 130 feet in the air and offering unbeatable views of the Los Angeles shoreline. Visit One Of LA’s Museums LA is home to some fabulous museums, and at least one should feature on any Los Angeles itinerary. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is one of the best, and boasts a large collection of modernist masterpieces. For something a little unusual, head to the Getty Center, for wonderful impressionist collections and fabulous ocean views. Alternatively, book-lovers will marvel at the Huntingdon Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens – a wonderful green space with countless treasures to uncover. Stroll Along Venice Beach Boardwalk If the Hollywood glitz and glamour isn’t for you, head to Venice Beach for something a little more bohemian. The Venice Beach boardwalk is an ocean front promenade packed with performers, musicians, magicians, skaters, restaurants and shops. A walk along here is a must on any LA itinerary. This is the perfect place to come for an antidote to LA city life and to soak up the fabulous ocean views. Explore Griffith Park One of the best things about Los Angeles is the easy access from the city to some beautiful natural spots. Griffith Park, spanning more than 4,000 acres of urban wilderness, provides a great contrast to Take a hike along one of the many walking trails, visit the Griffith Observatory (yep – that’s the place from the movie La La Land), or visit Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden. Whatever you choose, a visit to Griffith Park is a real breath of fresh air on any Los Angeles itinerary. Theme Parks in Los Angeles Universal Studios Hollywood - For over a century LA has been the heartland of movie making, and you can’t visit without a taste of what it’s like to get in front of the cameras on a real life movie set. This tour will take you behind the scenes of epic films, where you can ride the Batmobile, try out Harry Potter’s broomstick, and even re-enact your favourite scene from Friends’ in Central Perk. And if you fancy heading upstate to San Francisco, don’t forget to get in touch for that itinerary too!

Interesting Facts About Petra, Jordan

11 September 2023

Deep in the Jordanian desert, the ancient stone city of Petra has a magical quality. Carved out of pink sandstone rock, and hidden for centuries until it was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer, it’s easy to see why travellers are obsessed with this place. Petra is an important part of Jordan’s cultural heritage, and features on most travel bucket lists for good reason! With intricately carved monuments, labyrinthine passageways and a mysterious history, this ancient city remains one of the most beautiful and enigmatic places in the Middle East. How many of these facts about Petra do you already know? Petra is one of the oldest cities in the world Petra was founded in the year 312BC as the capital of the Nabatean Empire. This makes it over 2300 years old, one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World Petra was named a New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, and fully deserves its place on this prestigious list. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site The Petra Archaeological Park is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Jordan, and the most famous tourist attraction in the country. The name ‘Petra’ means ‘rocks’ Appropriately, for a city hewn from stone, the name Petra is thought to come from the Greek word ‘Petros’, meaning rock, and was named by Greek visitors for its distinctive carved sandstone. The original inhabitants had a different name for it According to the ancient historian Josephus, Petra was actually known by a different name. Inscriptions carved into the walls of the city suggest that it was known as Raqemo, after its royal founder. Petra is a royal resting place Petra is packed with intricately sculpted tombs, such as the iconic Urn Tomb, many of them carved into the façade of the mountains that overlook the rest of the city. These spectacular monuments are thought to have been the resting place of Nabatean royalty, and were carved between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. They stand as an enduring testimony to the wealth and importance of the royal family and Nabatean elites. Petra has more tombs than the Valley of the Kings in Luxor The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, is arguably one of the most famous ancient sites in the world, known for its fascinating set of 63 carved tombs and mausoleums. However, Petra has one of the largest royal tomb complexes in the world, with approximately 1,000 individual tombs identified to date. Even the treasury, one of the most photographed sites in the whole complex, is a mausoleum! It’s an open air movie set Many blockbuster films have been shot in Petra. Filmmakers love its unique and dramatic scenery. Most famously, Petra doubled as the Canyon of the Crescent Moon in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but it’s also been used in the live-action Disney remake of Aladdin. Only around 15% of the city has actually been excavated Petra’s ruins are immense, by any standards, but incredibly, around 85% of the site has yet to be uncovered. There are many more secrets hiding under the ground that may provide clues about Petra’s earliest origins, and the later Greek and Byzantine periods in its history. Petra is steeped in Biblical legend Petra’s legendary origins go back a long way, even as far back as Biblical times! The valley in which the city is found is known as Wadi Musa (Moses Valley), because of a legendary connection to the Biblical prophet. It is said that Moses struck the rock at Petra and water miraculously spouted from the ground, providing a drink for the thirsty Israelites. It was rediscovered by a Swiss traveller in disguise For many years Petra remained a closely guarded secret, known to local Bedouin communities, but a mystery for European scholars. In 1812, a Swiss traveller and explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt disguised himself as a Bedouin and discovered the site during an expedition in the Transjordan. He identified it as the lost city of Petra, and sparked a flurry of archaeological excavations. It’s often called the ‘Rose City’ Petra’s beautiful sandstone is an incredible colour, earning it the nickname ‘the Rose City’. One of the most magical times to visit is around sunset when the last rays of the sun cast an incredible pink hue on the rocks. Petra is (almost) impossible to conquer Petra’s success as a city may have been down to its incredible natural defences. The site is accessed to the east by a narrow, winding gorge known as al-Siq, stretching for over 1km, which would have made it very difficult for hostile forces to get in without being stopped. This seems to have been the key to its success for so many centuries. A third of the city was destroyed by earthquakes in 363 AD Petra may be a formidable fortress city, but its natural defences didn’t stop it from being affected by natural disasters. In 363 AD a devastating earthquake struck the city, destroying an estimated third of the site. The city aligns with the sun The ancient Nabateans who created Petra held a particular reverence for the sun, which they viewed as a source of life, light and mystery. As a result, much of Petra’s beautiful architecture is actually aligned with solar patterns, with particular emphasis on the summer and winter solstices. The descendants of the Nabateans still live in the area The B’doul Bedouin tribe and many of its members live and work in the ancient city, acting today as tour guides to pass on the secrets of their clever ancestors to modern visitors. Petra was once famous for its gardens It’s difficult to imagine Petra as a lush paradise. However, recent excavations have discovered that a complex irrigation system provided water to the city’s thirsty inhabitants, as well as fuelling a spectacular complex of gardens and fountains. These monumental gardens made Petra a true oasis in the desert. The people of the city even had their own swimming pool! It was the centre of the ancient spice trade Petra’s rise to prominence in the ancient world was due in part to its important role as a hub on the Middle Eastern spice trade. Incense from Arabia, silks from China, and spices from India all passed through this beautiful rock city on their way to destinations across Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe. I hope these fascinating facts about Petra have given you plenty of inspiration for your next expedition to the Middle East! A visit to Petra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the sight of this stunning red city will live with you forever.

A day in the life of a travel counsellor is pretty hard to predict

04 September 2023

A typical day in the life of a Travel Counsellor is pretty hard to predict. It more or less always starts with checking my ‘dashboard’ on the booking system to ensure there aren’t any urgent actions for imminent departures or emails from clients already in resort. If so, then I’d deal with these – from booking transfers, excursions or perhaps organising a restaurant booking and surprise if it’s a big anniversary or honeymoon for instance. From there I like to work on my enquiries first to ensure I have a quick turnaround time and clients aren’t kept waiting. Often at least part of the enquiry will mean reaching out to third party suppliers for bits and pieces of a holiday package (transfers, attraction tickets, or sometimes even the whole thing like a cruise or group tour) and so it’s good to get the ball rolling on this to avoid any delays. I will check my social media marketing plan early in the week and create any content I need for the week. I tend to do this in a block and then schedule what will go up when. I have themes to my socials and have a running theme of ‘Alphabet Tuesday’ ‘Sunday Destination Special’ and ‘Wednesday Blog’ interspersed with whatever catches my eye. If it’s near to a customer departing on their holiday then I will be doing some admin tasks including printing their paperwork, confirming elements of their holiday with third party suppliers and checking them in. This is always an exciting time as it means they’ll soon be off and able to enjoy their holiday that they’ve looked forward to for so long! Probably towards the end of the day I’ll be checking I haven’t missed any emails, enquiries or messages, either on social media or in my inbox, and getting up to date on my finances - the less glamorous side of running an independent travel agency for sure. I’ll pick up my daughter from nursery and put the laptop away for a few hours until she’s safely tucked up in bed. I love being able to juggle and choose the hours that I ‘work’ – it really doesn’t feel like work as I absolutely love making people happy by booking them their dream holiday. Being a Travel Counsellor means juggling a lot of hats, but it definitely means adding lots of destinations and holidays to my bucket list of dreams…I just need to book them now!

Honeymooning in the Caribbean

10 September 2023

Think of the Caribbean as a paradise in many different forms. Whether your top focus is relaxation, romance, adventure, nature, or entertainment, there's an ideal island experience for you. But with hundreds of destinations across dozens of countries to choose from, which Caribbean honeymoon is right for you? To help you decide, here’s a little of what to expect from the most popular. Each island has individual character and charm, the vibrant islands of the Caribbean will capture your heart and make it a honeymoon you won't forget. What you’re guaranteed wherever you go is warm hospitality, a laid-back vibe, reggae beats and great rum punch – can you ask for more than that? From vibrant Jamaica to the tiny Bonaire; from relaxing spas to rugged hikes up mountain peaks; from dancing till dawn to early morning dives, you’ll find just about everything on offer on one of the Caribbean islands. The Caribbean also has a range of accommodation from budget, self-catering to luxurious resorts or even private islands. The possibilities really depend on what you’re looking for. Temperatures never really drop below 24 degrees year round in the Caribbean, so if you’re outside the path of the typical hurricane belt you can visit year-round. Otherwise, the best time to visit is December to April, when it’s drier, less humid but still glorious. Hurricanes are possible from July to October so avoid if possible. And if you still really can’t decide which island you’d like to visit, why not combine two (or three) different ones. If you have time then it’s a great way to get a sense of how different the islands really are. Get in touch about where you’d like to visit by phoning (07794187180) or emailing (Rebecca.mottram@travelcounsellors.com) today. I can’t wait to talk to you about your honeymoon plans! Barbados Barbados is one of the most densely populated Caribbean islands, which helps explain its lively festivals, inspired cuisine, and overall abundance of cultural offerings. While much of the island feels distinctly Caribbean - colourful houses, beautiful beaches, lush landscapes - Barbados retains much of its formerly British culture. The result offers a unique mash-up whereby honeymooners can enjoy the pleasures of a tropical island infused with a bit of British flair. Everything from afternoon tea and rounds of cricket to champagne and caviar on the beach and beyond. Saint Lucia Lush, jungle-draped hills and enamel blue shores make this a number one spot for luxury-seeking honeymooners. Go for relaxing resorts, stunning sailing and the impossibly picturesque backdrop of the Pitons. From tall mountain peaks to palm-lined beaches, lush rainforest, and vibrant coral reefs, the island begs to be explored. Not surprisingly, it's a top honeymoon choice for nature-lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Prefer underwater explorations? St. Lucia offers some of the Caribbean's best snorkelling and scuba diving experiences. Jamaica Easy to reach and offering fantastic all-inclusive deals, Jamaica is popular. Go here for beautiful beaches, authentic jerk cooking and a breathtaking hike up Blue Mountain Peak. Jamaican zest for it’s fantastic music spills over into its spicy cuisine which will satisfy foodie couples. An abundance of snorkelling cruises, coffee plantation tours, river rafting adventures, and good old-fashioned beach lounging should excite just about anybody else. The Bahamas Actually made up of more than 700 islands, the Bahamas are a playground for island-hoppers, partiers and watersports-lovers. Head to Nassau and Paradise Island for fascinating pirate history, and the Exumas for ultra-exclusive hotels and unique outdoor experiences - including swimming with pigs! Turks & Caicos If you’re looking for tranquillity, check out these serene islands. Famed for the surrounding crystal-clear waters, they boast some of the world’s most spectacular diving spots, as well as relaxed seaside bars and your pick of deserted beaches. You might even spot the annual migration of thousands of humpback whales. Antigua & Barbuda Visit both of these sister islands: Barbuda, with natural pink sand beaches, and the larger Antigua, covered in small bays lapped by azure seas. Cuba A time-capsule island, bursting with colour and colonial curiosities. Coastal resorts offer fantastic beaches and mojitos on tap but it’s the cities you’ll not want to miss. Down cobbled streets and off grand squares, you’ll find Havana fizzing with culture, nightlife, live music and salsa clubs. Grenada Very few islands boast their own underwater sculpture park like Grenada does. Known as the Spice Island, the scent of nutmeg hangs in the air, friendly locals wave good morning and your days are whiled away on beaches or wandering colourful towns on this low-key island. ABC Islands Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao: these three Dutch islands all have their own character. Aruba is the most touristy, with plenty of all-inclusive hotels and cruise ship stopovers, but the beaches more than make up for it. Tiny Bonaire is a diver’s paradise, rich with sea turtles and exotic fish on pristine coral reefs. Curaçao feels like discovering a little bit of Europe – delightful candy-coloured Dutch colonial houses border the port at Willemstad, with dramatic coast all around. Sandals Curaçao will open there in 2022. Dominican Republic If you like a resort holiday where everything is taken care of, the Dominican Republic is your place. But just beyond the picture-perfect beaches and bars, this diverse country also offers rainforests, mountains, mangrove lagoons, colonial towns, quiet fishing villages and more. For the couples that manage to break free from the bliss of their hotel grounds, they can enjoy the most that this Spanish-speaking destination has to offer. Whale-watching, windsurfing, world-class golf, and epic hikes are just some to consider. Trinidad and Tobago Pulsing Trinidad and peaceful Tobago are neighbouring islands, best explored in combination. Get the vibrant nightlife, amazing Carnival and buzzing towns on Trinidad before hopping over to Tobago for waterfall swimming, world-class diving, hiking and sunbathing. Cayman Islands Composed of three islands the Caymans are a chill-out favourite. And rightly so: there are string rays to swim with, beautiful all-inclusive resorts on Seven Mile Beach, and cosmopolitan towns with excellent shopping.

Fred Olsen cruises

15 August 2023

Get away with Fred. Olsen this autumn I'm delighted to bring you Fred. Olsen’s fantastic August campaign with its half-price drinks package on almost every cruise for the rest of 2023. Here at Travel Counsellors, we love Fred. Olsen for its elegant, smaller but uncrowded vessels with plenty of sociable spaces. Their more intimate size means they can take you to places bigger ships can’t reach. I also rate the handcrafted itineraries by the cruise line’s expert Journey Planners, and the Signature Experiences, including spotting wildlife on deck, taking in the night sky with an astronomer, and learning to cook local cuisine. What follows are just some of the amazing cruises available with this offer. Get away with Fred. Olsen this autumn with some great last minute deals available. Natural Wonders of Iceland, 31st Aug 2023, 9 nights Liverpool | Cruising by St Kilda | Cruising Seyðisfjörður | Seyðisfjörður | Cruising Borgarfjörður Eystri | Akureyri | Ísafjörður | Reykjavik | At sea (2 days) | Liverpool This fabulous itinerary takes you to some of Iceland’s greatest natural wonders aboard Borealis, including Strokkur geyser in the Golden Circle, east of the charming capital Reykjavik. Perhaps best of all is Akureyri, which many travellers miss out on, but which is the best place in the country for whale spotting. Isafjörður and Seyðisfjörður are also more remote areas with fabulous wildlife sightings. American Waterways & Canada in the Fall, 26th Sept 2023, 34 nights Southampton | At sea (5 days) | St. John’s, Newfoundland | At sea | Sydney, Nova Scotia | Halifax, Nova Scotia | St. John’s, New Brunswick | Portland, Maine | Boston, Massachusetts | Cruising the Cape Cod Canal | Cruising by the Statue of Liberty | New York City | Cruising the Hudson River | Cruising the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal | Baltimore, Maryland | At sea (2 days) | Hamilton, Bermuda | At sea (5 days) | Ponta Delgada, Azores | At sea (2 days) | La Coruña, Spain | At sea | Southampton This really is an epic journey – one with plenty of time at sea to relax and make the most of the facilities of your amazing vessel, the Balmoral. While also treating yourself to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including admiring the radiant fall foliage of the Hudson River, Cape Cod Canal, and Canada’s east coast. Ocean Wildlife Encounters on deck help you spot marine wildlife, while guest speakers give an insight into local life and culture. Volcanic Islands of the Canaries, Azores & Madeira, 14th Oct 2023, 15 nights Southampton | At sea (3 days) | Praia da Vitória | Ponta Delgada | At sea | Santa Cruz de la Palma | Santa Cruz de Tenerife | San Sebastián de La Gomera | Funchal | At sea (3 days) | Southampton This glorious cruise aboard Bolette has been specially crafted to showcase different landscapes, and animal and plant life in locations including the Azores’ island of São Miguel with its Sete Cidades crater lakes, Spain’s highest peak Mount Teide on ever-popular Tenerife, and Madeira with its botanical gardens and unique Levada hiking trails. You can also go out spotting dolphins and sperm whales with the help of ORCA conservationists. Discovering the Ancient Mediterranean, 14th Nov 2023, 16 nights Southampton | At sea (2 days) | Lisbon | Cádiz | At sea | Algiers | At sea | La Goulette | Cagliari | At sea | Cartagena | Tangier | At sea | La Coruña | Cruising by Tower of Hercules lighthouse | At sea | Southampton The lovely Balmoral is your home for this fabulous itinerary tracing ancient trading routes, and the kingdoms and civilisations that established them in Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, and Morocco. It’s impossible to pick out favourites, but among the highlights are Phoenician Carthage and the ancient ruins of Nora. This is a cruise that truly takes you off the tourist trail to the likes of Algiers and Tangier with their hectic, colourful medina.

Family friendly safari ideas

21 August 2023

Fun, nature-based, immersive, and educational – family safari holidays are a growing market, particularly since the pandemic taught us not to keep putting off those bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime trips. This is a holiday where having your own Travel Counsellor really does make sense in terms of finding the perfect fit for your family, as every family is different. Below, a brilliant family itinerary in Kenya is showcased, plus I've answered some of the most common questions I get asked about family safari holidays. What you need to know about family safari holidays Family safari itinerary in Kenya Days 1–4: Arrive in Nairobi, fly to Nanyuki, road transfer to El Karama, 3 nights in El Karama Lodge | Days 4–7: Fly to Masai Mara, 3 nights in House in the Wild | Days 7-10: Fly to Ukunda, 3 nights in Kinondo Kwetu | Day 10: Fly to Nairobi, transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport This upmarket, bespoke holiday is one for families looking for the ‘real safari’ experience and includes a stay at the intimate, award-winning El Karama Lodge, built by wildlife sculptor Murray Grant and specialising in family safaris. As well as immersive private experiences, ranging from fly camping to tracking on foot with guides, if offers abundant daily sightings of leopard, lions, elephants, buffalo, zebra, and giraffe. From there it’s on to family–owned boutique lodge, House in the Wild, on the banks of the Mara River in the Enonkishu Conservancy, with activities including bush breakfasts, a rhino sanctuary tour, and community project visits. Family safari holidays: a guide How old should children be to best enjoy a safari? Some camps and lodges are set up for children of any age, but as a rule of thumb, younger kids, age five and over can best appreciate this type of holiday. With younger kids, you need very specific sleeping arrangements, a private vehicle, and an itinerary factoring in plenty of rest time. Private vehicles are also getting more and more popular in general because they allow you to set your own pace. Family safaris are about much more than game drives. The best safari camps for families now include children’s activities such as bush skills and conservation, making this a great holiday for families who want to be environmentally conscious and also give something back to local communities. Safari holidays are never cheap, but on most, kids pay discounted rates (and sometimes those child rates extend up to age 21!). Some places also run ‘kids stay free’ offers outside high season. What kind of accommodation can I expect? We’ve entered a new era of safari travel – one in which many lodges are embracing the family market by adding family-friendly accommodation, activities, and lowering age limits. Many have also added swimming pools so families can both cool down and let off some steam. What are the best countries for a family safari holiday? My top recommendations for safaris with kids in tow are South Africa and Kenya, which have a wide choice of lodges and camps set up for families, all with experiences tailor-made with children in mind. At Travel Counsellors, we also handpick our destinations based on the availability of direct flights from the UK and focus on offering as many malaria-free destinations as possible. Are family safari holidays safe? We only partner with safari firms who pass the most stringent health and safety checks. We also take into account all Foreign Office advice regarding travel to specific counties and regions. Get in touch to find out more today!

Sustainable Tourism

25 August 2023

At Travel Counsellors, we’re on a journey to help people travel more responsibly. Through education of both ourselves and our customers, and better selection of the experiences we provide, we aim to ensure that the enduring impact of tourism is a positive one for the planet and its people. Managing your carbon footprint As with most of our day-to-day activities, it’s no secret that going on holiday creates carbon emissions. At Travel Counsellors, we’re committed to reducing our own carbon footprint, and we can help you to do the same by advising you on more responsible travel decisions to reduce the size of your footprint, and help to manage the emissions that do occur. Further to this I'm going to start offering a programme where we plant trees to offset some of the carbon involved in the holidays booked through me, just another perk of booking with an independent travel agency. More details to follow soon! Choosing your destination When choosing your next holiday destination, there are a few things to consider when it comes to sustainability beyond the obvious air miles. Cities and countries around the world have taken on the issue in their own unique ways, with measures such as designating conservation areas, investing in low-carbon energy, and improving public transport. Depending on the type of holiday you’re looking for, I can recommend destinations that are well-suited to your trip and that also take the issue of sustainability seriously. These are some of the places currently leading the way... Azores, Portugal - The first archipelago to achieve EarthCheck Sustainable Destinations certification. Vancouver, Canada - Ambitious energy and waste reduction targets combined with a focus on farm-to-table dining. Copenhagen, Denmark - Europe’s Green Capital, with the aim of being the first country in the world to be fully independent of fossil fuels. Colorado, USA - ‘Care for Colorado’ principles which aim to maintain the area’s natural beauty and educate visitors. Highlands and Islands, Scotland - Superb no-fly holidays amongst the highland wilds and picturesque beaches. Where to stay To help you make more responsible choices when it comes to choosing your next hotel, we have the 'Green Leaf' logo. Any hotel or resort that is labelled with the Green Leaf has been certified by an organisation using criteria created by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. This means that it is working to maximise social and economic benefits in the local community, enhance cultural heritage, reduce negative impacts on the environment, and to be effectively planning for the future with sustainability in mind. As me about staying at these green leaf hotels next time you enquire! What is slow travel? If you like to avoid the tourist traps and enjoy an authentic experience of your destination, then slow travel could be for you. It's also a great way of reducing your carbon footprint as often it involves rail travel or even using local bus routes rather than flying from destination to destination. Supporting local communities The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that 10% of global jobs are reliant on travel and tourism, with countries such as Aruba being closer to 30%. As travellers, we have the opportunity to support the communities in the destinations that we visit, ensuring they benefit both socially and economically from our presence. By travelling more responsibly, we can help unique cultural customs remain intact and prevent the negative impacts of over tourism. One of the ways that we can do this is by opting for alternatives to honeypot sites – did you know that I am part of a community of over 1,400 travel experts? With so many keen explorers, tips on hidden gems are easy to come by and can help spread the benefits of tourism while ensuring you avoid the crowds. By shopping and eating at locally owned businesses you can get a truer taste of your destination (no pun intended) and enjoy a more authentic experience. On top of this, you’ll be supporting the local economy, helping to create jobs, and removing dependence on fundraising or aid. Ethical wildlife viewing The vision is that all animals encountered on a Travel Counsellors holiday are free from exploitation, neglect and cruelty. I support an end to the capture of animals from the wild for the purposes of entertainment, and encourage the conservation of natural habitats and their wildlife. The best way to view wild animals is living freely, which is why Travel Counsellors created our comprehensive animal welfare policy which acts as a guideline to help me create the best wildlife viewing experiences for you to enjoy. With this in mind, these are some of the best ways that your Travel Counsellor can help you view wildlife ethically on your next adventure… A Tent With a View, Tanzania - Founded 30 years ago with all Tanzanian managers and a focus on innovation, integrity and people, this is one of our favourite partners for viewing African wildlife in a natural setting. Elephant Hills, Thailand - This is an experience we often recommend to customers because we know how truly unforgettable it is – the stuff of which lifelong memories are made. Intrepid Travel - One of our favourite partners for adventurous trips, this B-corp is now even better than ever – having reviewed and refreshed all of its wildlife trips for 2023. Interested in finding out more about responsible travel? Get in touch today, I'd love to speak to you and here more about your thoughts on how you'd like to make your next holiday more sustainable.

Qatar: What to do, what to eat and where to stay

28 July 2023

From discovering local culture, world-class shopping and fine dining to thrilling desert adventures, this Arabian Gulf peninsula has rapidly evolved from a stopover location to a major tourist destination in its own right. Where to stay and eat in Qatar Nestled in landscaped gardens with 500 blissful metres of sandy beach, just minutes from the new Al Qassar Metro Station and all the attractions of downtown Doha, the InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa is a smart and sleek contemporary option with a free-form pool and no fewer than 14 restaurants and bars to choose from. Among its special touches is the fact that its excellent spa therapists precede all treatments with a relaxing foot ritual using indigenous ingredients. On the exclusive artificial island of The Pearl with its waterfront promenades and lovely marinas, the Marsa Malaz Kempinski blends Arabian traditions with European elegance. As well as another fabulous spa (by Clarins), a private beach, outdoor pools, a tennis court and a kids' club, it has seven stylish restaurants which offer delicious dining from around the globe. Among them, Zengo Doha with its authentic Pan-Asian cuisine inspired by the world travels of chef Richard Sandoval stands out. Indeed, some of Doha’s finest dining is to be had in its luxury hotels, including Nobu at the Four Seasons and Hakkasan at The St Regis. Friday brunches are a weekly ritual in Doha, featuring the likes of sushi, ceviche, oysters, dim sum and cocktails, and the St Regis is a great place for them. If you want to try authentic Middle Eastern fare (which includes saloona, a classic Arabic stew, and warak enab stuffed vine leaves), it’s on offer in abundance here, in both hotels and in local Qatari restaurants such Bayt Sharq in a century-old heritage house. Other places to sample Arabic fare are dhow boat rides, which generally include an onboard barbecue with local grills. Once used for pearl fishing, dhows now take you to Qatar’s hidden sandbanks and beaches for paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing. Best things to do in Qatar New attractions for 2023 – including purpose-built Fuwairit Kite Beach, the Outpost Al Barari resort of tented villas and nature experiences, Qetaifan Island North with its floating hotels, beach clubs and water park, and West Bay North Beach Project – have added to other recent developments including the immersive 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, and Quest Doha theme park with the world's tallest indoor rollercoaster. The 8km curving promenade of the Doha Corniche is a great way to get your bearings, taking you between the shimmering Gulf and the city’s futuristic skyscrapers. Doha’s landmark buildings include the sustainable Msheireb quarter, Education City, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Jean Nouvel designed National Museum of Qatar, inspired by a ‘desert rose’ (multilayered crystals that form in salty sand), with 11 galleries showcasing regional history from prehistoric times. There’s also the Katara Cultural Village, with an opera house, photography and art galleries, mosques and an amphitheatre. Beyond the glamour and glitz, the Qatari desert beckons with exciting activities including dune bashing and camel rides. Also exhilarating is stand-up paddle boarding through the mangroves of the Al Thakhira natural reserve north of Doha with its herons, purple crabs and seasonal flamingos, while the otherworldly Brouq Nature Reserve on the far west of the peninsula has mushroom-like limestone outcroppings, gazelles, ostriches and the East-West/West-East art installation by Richard Serra. Get in touch by phone, email or on social media to discuss your next trip. I'd love to hear from you!

Top family-friendly places to visit in Morocco

17 July 2023

For families looking for an adventure within easy reach of the UK, we couldn’t recommend Morocco more. With its ancient medinas, hectic souks, off-the-beaten-track Kasbahs and thrilling desertscapes to explore, as well as its brilliant Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches, it’s a whole other world less than four hours’ flight away. Morocco is fabulous at any time of year, although we particularly recommend spring and autumn for their milder temperatures. But even in the height of summer, the Atlantic coast is kept relatively moderate by the winds. Around the holy month of Ramadan, opening hours at museums and other sites may be shorter, but there’s an even more lively atmosphere in the streets in the evenings so this is another fantastic time to go. Marrakech Marrakech is a must-see, full of winding derbs (alleyways) to get lost in and bazaars full of pungent spices and glittering trinkets. Don’t miss a dusk trip to the main square, Jemaa el-Fna, to see storytellers, snake-charmers and acrobats in action. Children (and adults) also love the vibrant blue hues and towering cacti of the Le Jardin Majorelle botanical gardens. Agafay For desert experiences within easy reach of Marrakech, without venturing out into the Sahara (relatively little of which is in Morocco), we recommend Agafay with its luxury tented camps and its adventures including camel rides, quad-biking and stargazing. You can also go hot-air ballooning over the desert close to Marrakech, as well as elsewhere in the country. Essaouira Essaouira is another exciting city – located on the Atlantic coast, with its medina and souk along with dramatic seafront ramparts. Kitesurfing and surfing lessons are in ample supply on the beach, along with horse-riding and quad-biking, making this former pirates’ lair the perfect destination for active kids. Agadir Another great Atlantic beach destination for families is Agadir, with its great stretches of sand which are perfect for surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing, and lots of family-friendly places to stay. The best time for watersports fans is March to mid-September, due to the north-east trade winds. Alternatively, the Mediterranean coast has a lot to offer families, especially around the Tétouan area with its quieter little beaches and traditional fishing villages. Atlas Mountains The snow-capped Atlas Mountains are an adventure in themselves, with wonderful hikes to be done. On the other side of them from Marrakech lies Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, familiar to many as a filming location for epic movies including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia, with a labyrinth of red mud-clay towers and fortifications. The southern Atlas is a great place for learning about the lives of the local Berber people by visiting their villages tucked away in the folds of the mountains. Another adventurous spot situated over the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech is the Telouet Kasbah, along the former route of the caravans from the Sahara. Also called the Palace of Glaoui, this is more remote than the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah and for that reason perhaps even more evocative. The city of Ouarzazate south of the High Atlas is also stupendous. The gateway to the Sahara Desert, it’s home to the vast Taourirt Kasbah with its 19th-century palace and glorious views over the surrounding landscape. Lastly, food is a highlight of any trip to Morocco, and though global dishes are available in major destinations, many children love delving into the delicious national cuisine: tagines, couscous, kebabs, briouats (savoury pastries), honey and sesame seed pancakes and sweet mint tea, to mention just a few of the treats in store for you. To book your Morocco family holiday or for more inspiration, call or email me today to get started.

Our favourite wellness spots in Singapore

17 July 2023

Singapore is an absolute delight for both foodies and lovers of the great outdoors, combining one of the world’s most colourful, varied and exciting dining scenes (a result of the city-state’s vibrant multi-ethnic culture and heritage) and masses of green space in which to get active. We’ve shared some of our favourite spots in the city for wellbeing practices and for healthy, sustainable food. Our favourite wellness spots in Singapore Wellbeing, fitness and sport Singapore surprises many with its sheer array of gorgeous green spaces, including Gardens by the Bay, a unique nature park and greening project, its UNESCO-listed Botanic Gardens (home to the National Orchid Garden), the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (with a mangrove forest and rich biodiversity) and Jurong Lake Gardens (a 90-hectare space that is perfect for nature lovers). Opposite the Botanic Gardens, Dempsey Hill is on the site of a former nutmeg plantation and is a great spot for outdoor fitness classes as well as for health-focused dining. Dempsey Hill also has one of the four branches of the city’s Core Collective – ideal places to feel at one with nature during your fitness session - and one of two branches of PowerMoves Pilates, where you can stretch and tone in the serenity of nature. Another green sanctuary in Singapore is Coney Island with its great cycling trails past some of the city’s fascinating plant and animal life, while those up for the challenge of a coast-to-coast adventure by foot should check out the Park Connector Network (PCN), 300km of green corridors linking major parks and nature areas island-wide, perfect for hiking and cycling. The city also has its own Wellness Festival with exciting lineups of fitness classes, meditation workshops, and arts and lifestyle experiences to boost physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Healthy and sustainable food in Singapore With over 50 Michelin-starred restaurants and world-renowned hawker stalls serving up some of the street food that was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020, Singapore is famous for its delicious dining. If you’re looking for places that are specifically health-focused or sustainable, our first recommendation is COMO Cuisine on Dempsey Hill, serving up signature dishes from COMO Resorts around the world – including some of its nutritionist-developed COMO Shambhala Cuisine. All dishes are prepared from scratch, using organic produce where possible but always the freshest in-season ingredients, sourced locally in the most natural and sustainable way. Then there’s Open Farm Community, a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant on Minden Road, curating and hosting local farmers to showcase their produce in innovative dishes paired with wines made from forgotten grapes and regions, by smaller, more authentic producers with a herbicide- and chemical-free ethos. Don’t miss the small plate of Tiberias snapper ceviche with sago crackers and ginger flower. We also love Carrotsticks and Cravings, two Instaworthy cafés on Robertson Quay and on Stanley Street in the Central Business District. Founded by a Melbourne-born proprietress, they include plenty of gluten-free options, all-day breakfasts, salad bowls and more. To book your Singapore break, call or email me today.

Take a culinary tour of Italy

17 July 2023

The Italians’ love affair with food makes it worth visiting for the cuisine alone. This country is famous for so many dishes and treats, from pizza and pasta to gelato, from seafood including octopus, sea urchin and clams to cheeses – among the best known of which are mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmesan, ricotta and mascarpone. And then of course there’s the wine… Take a culinary tour of Italy The following tours immerse you in Italian life in general: its history, its culture, its people. They also immerse you in its food and drink, thanks to memorable moments focused on specific ingredients native to the destination, or on very special meals served in unique venues. As well as meals, your tour price includes the services of a holiday director and a specialist local guide to help you really get under the skin of your destinations. Pompeii, Sorrento and the Bay of Naples - departures until October 2024 Naples | Pompeii (4 days) | Sorrento | Naples This blissful eight-day trip invites you to discover the epic Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum (both destroyed by an ash cloud from Vesuvius looming overhead) from your stylish base in the lively city of Naples, the birthplace of real pizza. But the true foodie highlight comes in Sorrento to the south, where you’ll visit a family-owned farm to find out how the liqueur limoncello is produced from local lemons. Enjoy a tasting in the lemon groves, as well as samplings of lemon ice cream and jam. You can also opt to add on a three-hour cookery class learning to emulate traditional local recipes. Other optional excursions are a Three Tenors in Concert musical experience, a drive along the iconic Amalfi coastline and a boat trip to the glamorous island of Pompeii. French & Italian Riviera - departures until October 2024 Nice | Menton and Dolceacqua | Alassio (2 days) | Monaco & Monte Carlo | watermill lunch | Alassio | Nice The French and Italian Rivieras are both on the itinerary of this fantastic eight-day tour, from their glamorous gold-sand beaches to their medieval villages. All meals are, unsurprisingly, wonderful, but the standout is a very special lunch at an ancient watermill transformed into a rustic restaurant, with an authentic Italian tasting menu of 10-plus dishes paired with wine and limoncello. You’ll also love Menton on the Côte d'Azur near the Italian border, famous for its pastel-coloured houses, its 17th-century Basilica of Saint-Michel and its lemons, and the medieval town of Dolceacqua in Liguria – two lovely villages lined by a pretty stone bridge. From Alassio, you can also take optional excursions to elegant Santa Margherita and Portofino with its designer boutiques and wonderful array of restaurants and bars. Discover Sicily - departures until October 2024 Catania | Taormina | Letojanni | Piazza Armerina | Cefalù | Campofelice di Roccella | Palermo and Monreale | Catania Another thrilling eight-day tour, this includes a stop at the market of the island capital Palermo for a street-food experience in a local café, tasting an array of authentic local delicacies including arancini, chickpea fritters, deep-fried rice balls and Sicilian pizza. Also on the agenda is a wealth of architecture, ascending Europe's tallest active volcano, Mount Etna, by cable car, marvelling at the Greco-Roman theatre at clifftop Taormina, and exploring the lovely seaside town of Cefalù. The last visit of the trip is to Monreale Cathedral, one of the world’s greatest examples of Norman architecture, with enchanting golden paintings and spectacular mosaics. To book your Italy tour including meals and unique foodie moments, call me today.

My customer stories

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Rebecca has provided such a personal service for us through e-mails and phone calls ensuring that the travel arrangements for my husband and I could be met to extend our trip following the Pop Chorus group booking.

Sent by Emma M

Organising a big investment holiday through Rebecca was so easy, time saving, money saving and I could be confident we were being shown a great selection. Money saved was I didn’t have to spend hours and hours trawling and then still wondering. Plus Rebecca was able to show us things we wouldn’t have thought of. Options landed quickly and with great run through of choices and next steps. Will absolutely be using Rebecca’s travel counsellor services again.

Sent by Ann M

Rebecca was excellent and responsive, confident service with a smile. Thank you so much!

Sent by Nicola T

Rebecca was very helpful, quickly provided options that were catered for us and when circumstances changed, was able to quickly find an alternative option.

Sent by Keith E

Rebecca, has worked extremely hard in arranging our perfect holiday, despite having to reiterate our itinerary a couple of times without complaining and keeping a positive attitude towards our ideas / suggestions.

Sent by Victoria S

Rebecca is very helpful and responsive. The process is particularly useful when booking with a group because we can pay through the app rather than one person collecting the money. I also appreciated Rebecca providing a lot of the paperwork and board passes, etc

Sent by Lucy S

Rebecca was brilliant and will book all future trips through her!

Sent by Lucy R

We couldn’t have asked for better when booking through you. Dealing with everything from booking the holiday, to checking us in at the airport and booking extra legroom seats in the flights there and back. Your recommendation of visiting Cyprus was invaluable as I would never have picked that destination myself but I am so glad we did! The hotel was brilliant and we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather! The stress of a holiday was absolutely taken away and we only have you to thank for that! It was the perfect week away and I cannot recommend you enough to friends and family! We will 100% be working with you with all our future holidays!

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Rebecca quite simply did an excellent job for us. She was hard working, efficient and extremely patient with our requests and endless "tweaking" of our trip arrangements until we were completely happy. I would thoroughly recommend her to any of our friends and family.

Sent by Ian S

Rebecca was great at giving us some options we hadn’t thought about and then once we had decided, made sure we had all the information we needed. Have already recommended her to lots of people. Thank you.

Sent by Joanne B

Rebecca was simply amazing! She listened carefully to what we wanted and provided excellent choices and was very patient while we made final decisions on flights and rooms. Getting our holiday researched and booked by Rebecca has saved me so much time and I don't think I'll ever go back to doing it again myself! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to friends and family.

Sent by Celia C

Rebecca has been brilliant in helping us find and book our special holiday to celebrate my 60th birthday later this year. She has listened to and understood our ideas and was so patient when we wanted alternative options. I’m so happy we used her and I will highly recommend her services to anyone looking to book a holiday.

Sent by Tara V

Rebecca was very responsive and flexible to all the changes that we wanted to make. She was really great to work with and has booked us the trip of a lifetime!

Sent by Ben T

Rebecca was responsive, thorough and reliable and I would recommend her to anyone looking for a more bespoke approach to booking a golf trip.

Sent by M Crosby

Rebecca has been awesome in organising my trips no matter when, where or budget.

Sent by V Lintell

Rebecca has made the process of booking a holiday fun and enjoyable! No more wading through hotel after hotel to find what we want - when most of the time we'd rather be out of the hotel having adventures! Rebecca listened to our needs and came up with a selection of great options within our budget - super secure! Many thanks!

Sent by Holly N

I've already been recommending Rebecca to my friends and family. I was so delighted with my quote for a trip to Paris that she created. I've booked the trip and we can't wait to go. Rebecca really listened to all of the things I briefed her on. She went above and beyond to try and accommodate our quirks and wishes, within budget. Highly recommend.

Sent by R Childs

When I contacted Rebecca wanting to do a group tour I was ecstatic to hear she can book trips with intrepid (and other tour providers!). It meant I had all the benefits of the group tour plus flights and transfers sorted in a flash. I also wanted to add on hotel stays either side of arriving in Japan and Rebecca could organise those so I was in the same hotel to start the tour. When I had questions ahead of the tour she had speedy contact with intrepid and got me answers straight away. It was an amazing trip and such a weight off my mind, for what was a daunting solo trip, to have Rebecca take care of everything from start to finish!

Sent by J Crosby

Huge thanks to Rebecca for arranging everything needed for our ski holiday last week. We had a fabulous time in great accommodation, with hassle-free flights and transfers all sorted for us. Thanks so much!

Sent by Moyce Moyce

Thank you! We've never been so stress free on a holiday before. It was the holiday of a lifetime and we're already thinking about our next destination.

Sent by Sophie I

Rebecca was both thorough and thoughtful in her interactions with us both and really took on board all of our thoughts for our honeymoon wishlist! She was brilliant at putting together an amazing combination of luxury and adventure to ensure we have a honeymoon to remember! We couldn't recommend her more highly to people.

Sent by Jayne G

Rebecca has been excellent in sorting us with a stay in Boston, USA, and recommending many additional options of things to do. Many thanks Rebecca!

Sent by Muna D

Thank you, Rebecca, for being such an amazing travel counsellor! As an avid traveller, I did not expect any difficulties with finding a suitable flight when booking my trip to Zanzibar. I was wrong! With so many different options, none of which were particularly ideal, I struggled to find the right option for me. However, Rebecca saved the day! Rebecca was incredibly patient as she showed me different itineraries, finding the right balance in journey times and affordability. After booking my flight, Rebecca continued to look after my needs, ensuring everything was addressed (e.g., changing my meal option when requested, checking me in, etc), leaving me with very little to think about other than enjoying my much needed holiday. Rebecca was incredibly organised, thoughtful, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone looking to book their next getaway! :)

Sent by Sarah P

Bex was so helpful and friendly and didn't mind me changing my mind so many times! perfect booking process and stress free. Thank so much!

Sent by Jess N

Rebecca was professional, helpful and responsive in helping to book our trip to Scotland!

Sent by Sarah J

Excellent service and very friendly travel counsellor

Sent by Matt A

Rebecca was very helpful with great communication, would definitely use again and recommend to others

Sent by Julius C

Excellent service and very easy to organise. We’ll use Rebecca again and recommend her to all our friends and family