Very traditional at Christmas time the markets in Germany are like no other, in fact no country does Christmas markets quite like Germany. You will find a vast offering of sausage and gluwein, to all the toys, all of course in the most picturesque of settings, just like fairyland. We suggest Munich, or a traditional medieval city Nuremberg, or more modern Berlin. Of course seeing a Christmas market does not mean that you have to cross the channel to Germany and Austria, to the surprise of many, the largest Christmas market outside of these two countries is here at home, in Birmingham, as many as five million people visit the stalls on Victoria Square each year, which takes place from November 14 until December 22.

On the other hand if you fancy some true “razzmatazz” then the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on November 28 is one of the biggest events in the city. This can be fitted in with some fabulous New York shopping as the following day November 29 is America’s equivalent to our Boxing Day, they refer to it as “Black Friday”, when massive sales take place all across New York, bargains galore for Christmas! The parade is one of the City’s biggest events and as normal will start in Central Park, travelling along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue, down West 77th Street, West 59th Street to West 34th Street ending up at Macy’s store in Herald Square.

If you are not into shopping and parades then how about a few days of sunshine, just a short haul away. Morocco, where the temperatures are forecast to be at 28ºC, this weekend, you can still do some bargaining in Marrakesh, or go to Agadir for a week on the beach. Why not try the Canaries or Cyprus, where the temperature there is usually in the mid-twenties; Paphos is a favourite for Brits seeking the sun whilst Limassol and Larnaca tend to be a little more cultured, you will find some late bargains in Cyprus and Lanzarote has some good deals going too.

So November and December does not have to be all “doom and gloom”, there are always travel options.

Christmas Market

Picture: Carsten Pescht


Travelling light is something that’s growing ever more popular recently with the rise of additional costs for checking suitcases or heavy bags on to the plane. Most airlines have a weight limit for the checked on bag, so if you’re trying to stick to this or to keep your carry on light so that you’re not weighing yourself down, here are some tips.

Pack only what you need. If you’re travelling somewhere where you’re unsure of the weather, or it could fluctuate, this is more difficult; but if it’s a quick trip, plan your outfits out beforehand and make sure that you’ve got items that can be worn in several different ways multiple times.

If you need to take items that are generally more bulky, for example if you’re going to be hiking on your travels, try to find lightweight versions of these. For example, you can buy shops, jackets and tops all in a breathable material that’s lighter and better to wear. You can also wear your heavier items, such as bulky jackets and walking boots on the plane.

Make sure that the bag that you take is light itself. There are plenty out there that are designed to take the maximum amount of stuff but weigh very little themselves. Do your research before travelling to find the best one for you.

suitcases

Picture: Nedra


If you’re planning a partying holiday with your friends, there are such a huge number of options of where to visit across Europe that it can be difficult to choose one. A lesser chosen place for these types of holidays is the Greek Islands.

Mykonos is known as one of the more cosmopolitan and fashionable islands. During the day it’s a peaceful resort where you can relax or take part in fun games such as banana boating and jet skiing. But at night, there are loads of trendy clubs and fashionable bars open for business.

Zante is a big name in party holidays. And the place that is talked about most is the town of Laganas. It is one of Greece’s top four party resorts, and for good reasons – it’s packed to the brim with flashy clubs, bars and pubs.

Kavos is a popular place for young people to head after their exams are over. It’s a small resort but it’s packed with people looking for a good time. Big names such as Tinchy Stryder and Professor Green are known to visit, as well as a number of R&B artists.

Laganas

Picture: Eelke de Blouw


Vienna, the capital of Austria, has always been a highly attractive holiday destination.  The magnificent city is known for the glorious buildings and monuments of its rich past.  Most significantly, Vienna can at once be considered old and new, as it preserves the past while marching ahead with the present.

Attractions

Vienna offers tourists an amazing landscape of architectural wonders from its history.  The magnificent baroque buildings and beautiful romanesque architectural styles come together to give the Austrian capital its distinct look and feel.

Vienna also has a strong cultural identity.  Tourists are exposed to a wonderful world of music, opera and theatre while enjoying a holiday in the city.  Vienna is known as the ‘City of Music’ as some of the most famous composers and musicians of the world have lived and composed in this wonderful place.  Vienna’s exclusive balls are another highlight of the city; while staying in the Austrian capital, tourists are able to sample the splendour of the fine balls that are organized in the grand palaces of the place.

Visitor information

Vienna is located in north-eastern Austria.  This famous tourist destination is easy to access thanks to advanced air and rail networks.  Vienna’s international airport is the main way to get to the city, and although there are other small airports, this one sees the most traffic.  The city’s railway network connects the capital to several other towns and cities.

Vienna’s weather is a mixture of an oceanic climate and a humid continental climate.  Summers are very warm, with temperature reaching up to 35 degrees Celsius, while winters are cold and temperatures drop as low as zero degrees Celsius.  Snowfall occurs from December to March, so the best time to plan a trip to Vienna would be during the summer season from June to August.

Vienna

Picture: Peter M.


Capturing your travel pictures is the best way of keeping those memories fresh and are a great talking point for the whole family. In this article we will show you some of the essential items you’ll need to create the most professional results that will fit straight into your bag.

The Camera

Of course the most important item you need to take great pictures is a suitable camera. Cameras come in many different shapes and sizes and although you will get the best results from a digital SLR, you can also get some great shots with a compact digital camera.

Some of the best holiday pictures are taken off the cuff and having a compact and easy to use camera will mean that you can take your snaps at a moment’s notice. Compact cameras also have the benefit of being a lot smaller than SLR cameras and don’t require extra lenses for different shots.

Mini Tripod

A mini tripod is a great accessory to have where you need a steady shot such as a landscape picture or pictures with the whole family on a timer. These tripods fit neatly into most bags and can be assembled in a matter of seconds.

Time of day

Not necessarily a camera accessory, a watch is a great tool to use to get the best pictures. Knowing what time it is means that you can plan your pictures perfectly; the best pictures are taken just after dawn before the sun rises too high in the sky and gives off too much glare. Just before dusk is also a great time to take pictures, often providing an orange tint and more texture to photos.

Multi-shot camera modes

Any decent SLR or compact camera has a multi-shot mode sometimes called ‘sports’; these modes either allow you to shoot with a faster film rate getting rid of blur or will take multiple pictures at the same time providing a better chance of getting a decent shot.

These camera modes can be used for various activities such as playing sports or water skiing.

Read the user manual and practise beforehand

Reading the instruction manual is one of the easiest ways of getting a better consistence of pictures and learning what all of the different modes are and how to use them is a great way to get some experience. Practise taking pictures before you go on holiday and try out all of the modes and settings, the more practise you get the better your holiday snaps will be.

compact camera

Picture: Nickolas Titkov


Many families find a holiday a luxury that they struggle to afford, but for some it’s a necessary break away. Whether it’s a simple caravanning holiday here in the UK or a week away in the Spanish sunshine. Looking online, will open you up to a whole host of affordable deals, which means many can find a holiday this summer to fit their budget.

There are always a whole host of summer travel deals available, as companies look to push up traveller numbers. Check out ferry crossings for an affordable way to hop across the channel to mainland Europe. Take your car and opt for a camping holiday, there are many fantastic campsite across France, Italy and Spain to choose from and many may well have pitches left.

For a lot of families cheap last minute holidays are a life saver. The only option some have to be able to afford a family holiday away. The continent is a gold mine when it comes to last minute breaks, as many hotels and flights look to get booked up before departure dates. Empty rooms and empty seats on flights means less profit. So it is worthwhile reducing prices to attract more customers.

Check out different board options to find one to suit your needs. Many resorts and hotels offer self-catering, full and half board, bed and breakfast or all-inclusive, normally as part of package deals. You can save money and time, especially if you have fussy children, plus many hotels also offer kids clubs which give you peace of mind and a break.

It still counts as a holiday even if it is in the UK, affectionately known as Staycations these types of holiday have become exceedingly popular over the last few years. As the recession hit, people had to decide between a holiday abroad and paying important bills. So many looked to the UK to see what was on offer a little closer to home to save money.

Caravanning and camping is a popular activity in the UK, we have a number of family friendly campsites dotted across popular tourist towns and cities and plenty to choose from in our fabulous countryside. If that isn’t your cup of tea, how about log cabins or activity holiday parks, fun for the whole family.

Whether here in the UK or abroad make sure you enjoy your family holiday!

Family Holiday

Picture: John Meyer


For tourists seeking an adrenaline rush, there are many thrilling options found all over the world.  Bungee jumping, base jumping and sky diving are the more popular activities, while rappelling and edge walking also attract a fair amount of participants.

Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge, 111m toward the Zambezi River, is a popular attraction for tourists seeking an adrenaline surge.  The bungee site is located in between the Zimbabwean and Zambian borders; the area is nicknamed No Man’s Land.

Cliff base jumping, Norway

For those who revel in the rush of free-falling, the Kjerag Mountains in Norway offer a plateau among its renowned cliffs for thrill-seeking tourists that is perfect for base jumping.  The Kjerag plateau is located on the south side of Lysefjord in Rogaland.

Rappeling at Iguazu Falls Boat Ride, Argentina & Brazil

Rappeling is offered on both Argentinian and Brazilian sides of the Igazu Falls.  Those participating in this activity can climb up to a rappelling platform, where they are secured by the operators with rope.  They are then lowered 55m in a controlled descent, which offers a unique view of the falls.

Edge Walking, CN Tower, Canada

The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada offers visitors the opportunity to walk 356m above ground on the ledge of its main pod.  This is a hands-free experience – visitors are attached to an overhead safety rail.  The walk offers breathtaking views of Toronto and Lake Ontario.

Skydiving over Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Tour operators in Taupo, New Zealand offer single and tandem skydiving options over Lake Taupo.  Skydivers will free-fall from 3,600m above ground and enjoy views of the lake, Tongariro National Park and the snow peaks of Mount Ruapehu.

Kingda Ka rollercoaster, United States

Six Flags Great Adventures boasts the tallest rollercoaster in the world, the Kingda Ka, which can be found in the state of New Jersey in the United States.  Reaching 206km/h, the ride is initiated by a hydraulic launch mechanism; the ride lasts 28 seconds.

CN Tower

Picture: Wanda Gould


It may only be August but now is the best time to start to think about that ski holiday that you have waited for since you came back from the slopes last winter. There are many advantages to be had by taking this fast train to the slopes of France as well as Switzerland, not least of which is the amount of luggage that you can take without any form of penalty.

The return flight to Chambery or Geneva is likely to cost you around £150/200, but on top of that with EasyJet for example, you would expect to pay for a bag in the hold of £25 booked online, or £40 if checked in at the desk. It does not end there of course as you would have to pay for your skis at the rate of £27 if booked online, or £35 if checked at the desk, that is each way of course! So you could potentially be paying up to £350 to get to the airport in France or Switzerland and you would still have a transfer to the resort.

With the Eurostar Ski service you will be taken to your resort in France by a local connection to popular resorts such as Les Arcs, Courchevel, Tignes, Val d’Isère, and Meribel, or Switzerland to Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee. The 2013/2014 seasonal ski services from St Pancras International, or Ashford International, will run weekly from December 20th, 2013 until April 12th, 2014 with fares starting at £149.

Eurostar

Picture: Mike Knell


Attracting over half a million tourists each year, Antigua is a great destination for those looking to relax and unwind in luxury. There are literally hundreds of sandy beaches and coral reefs to explore throughout the island, providing a great opportunity to do a bit of snorkelling and scuba diving, but the big draw of Antigua is the sunshine.

An all year round destination, Antigua is the sunniest island of the Eastern Caribbean Islands with temperatures ranging between the mid-seventies and mid-eighties, and a cool north easterly wind to take the edge off.

The island is just 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, so wherever you stay you are within easy reach of all of the islands main attractions including Nelsons Dockyard National Park and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.

Due to Antigua’s calm, clear waters it hosts various sailing and yachting events throughout the year including the Antigua Sailing Week and the Charter Yacht Show. The Antigua Carnival is also a popular attraction and is well worth a visit if you like the sound of steel drums and calypso bands; the carnival lasts for 10 days and starts at the end of July.

Water activities are a must for those visiting Antigua and the crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and diving, where there is an abundance of colourful marine life and coral reefs to see and explore; windsurfing, sailing and sea fishing are also popular activities on the island.

Antigua offers many attractions for the holiday maker and is a great destination to visit at least once in your life.

Hermitage Bay, Antigua

Picture: ITC Classics


It may surprise some people but you should not wait until the last minute to either renew or obtain a passport for the first time, you cannot just slip into a post office and get one it has to go through the passport office in your region and it can take time for it to be processed. There is a fast track service for emergencies, but it will add up to £55 extra on top of the charge of £75.50 you can for £103 to get a passport in a week or £128 to get it rushed through in under 24 hours.

To give some idea of the number of applications and why it is important to apply early, your passport does not have to be out of date as up to nine unused months will be added onto the new one, in December there were 175,174 applications, but this July there are expected to be more than 560,000! Passport applications can be made in a number of ways, it can be done by filling in the papers online, calling the Passport Advice Line and asking them to send a form and submitting it through the Royal Mail, or you can still do it through the Post Office and use their checking service, they will send it on if it is in order, however it will cost you £8.75 for this service.

passport

Picture: Christopher Elison