Gorge de L’Areuse – Fairytale Walk in Neuchâtel

❖ Length – 11km one-way with return by train

❖ Three hours needed at least plus ten minutes for train return

❖ Toilets at start and end and middle in hotel restaurant

❖ Restaurant in the middle – Champ Du Moulins. Picnic spots throughout and fire places by the river.

❖ Family friendly for older children or young children if they are carried in a proper carrier. Not stroller friendly.

The Areuse Gorge has to be one of the most beautiful riverside walks I have done to date. It’s not as daring or thrilling as some of the gorges we have explored since moving here, but it definitely is one of the most beautiful and tranquil. I particularly like it as no matter how warm it is, the gorge always has a little breeze flowing through it and is mainly shaded, making it a great place for family outings away from the sun. 

The most photographed parts of the walk has to be the famous ‘Saut De Brot’ bridge, which honestly looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. It reminded me of Rivendell and fairy tales. The hike is relatively long, around 11km one-way, but you can return to the start by train and the time passes quickly with all the surroundings to distract you. Plus, it is well signposted, just follow the yellow walking signs dotted about the path. 

At the half way point, at Champ Du Moulin, there’s a little restaurant serving classic Swiss fare, should you prefer a sit down meal to a picnic. If the latter is more appealing, there are plenty of places to stop from traditional benches to little coves by the river where you will see many people making little fire pits and having a lunchtime barbecue en route. 

I highly recommend parking and starting the hike at Noiraigues railway station and ending at Boudry. This way you see the whole route and also get to take the train back easily to where you have parked. Alternatively, we have also started before at Champ Du Moulin, parked there and then walked to Boudry before turning round and heading back to the car. This is a harder route as you have to walk uphill on the return and trust me, there are a lot of steps! Especially when you have a little one strapped to the front of your chest. You will also miss the Saut De Brot bridge by doing this route, but I personally think that the gorges and riverside are the most scenic after Champ Du Moulin anyway. 

There’s little man-made Weirs along the route, to please people who love a little waterfall, and some beautifully designed bridges and crossings. I would recommend arriving early if you want a peaceful wander. We started the walk at 10am and it was relatively deserted on a Sunday. By the time we headed back to the car at 1pm there were plenty of people and lots of waiting to pass on the steps. 

It is an easy hike, which will take you around three hours if you don’t stop. It is family and young children friendly, however at times there are a lot of steps or narrow passes so you want to keep them close and have those not too steady on their feet in a carrier at times. It isn’t stroller friendly. 

There are bathrooms at the stations and the restaurant hotel midway. Parking at the stations was free when we did the walk. If you take the train from Bole back to Noiraigues, it’s direct, takes ten minutes and just means a short walk for you from the end of the trail to the station. If you go from Boudry, you need to make one change. The tickets are around six francs one way per adult. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. If the weather has been bad recently, perhaps give it a miss as it can be muddy and slippy.
  2. The route has some steep ladders which when going down can be tricky for little ones.
  3. If you mainly want to see the Saut De Brot bridge, then park at Champ Du Moulins and walk 2km to the bridge, and then return back to your car.
  4. To return without the train will take you around six hours and be a 22km walk
  5. Parking is free, but spaces can be quickly taken up during the day so try to get there early. Also helps with the weather situation!
  6. The easiest route is from Noiraigue down to Boudry, if you do it the other way around the whole hike is uphill.

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Arboretum du Vallon de l’Aubonne – Gentle Walk With Scenic Surprises in Morges

This vast park houses a beautiful collection of trees and plants from all over the world, including a unique and beautiful Japanese garden. There’s also a river that rushes by as you walk, a large pond with bridges to cross it and many landscapes from fields, to forests and flowerbeds. 

When you arrive at the Arboretum there’s a free parking area off the road to the right where you can leave the car. From here, you then follow the path and will quickly come across a route map of the Arboretum where you can choose from four different loops around the nature reserve, depending on how far you want to walk and what you wish to see. For our first visit we chose the Chemin Du Lac route which is around 3KM so a very short walk, however it was our second outing of the day and we also had a three month old with us so we wanted to avoid being out with her in the baby carrier for too long stretches at a time. The great thing about the Arboretum is that you can combine many of the different trails they propose for a longer walk where you get too see more of the variety of trees and plants in the nature park.

Along the walk there’s various signs highlighting the different tree species you see, as well as great sculptures – look out for the giant bugs as you start the path! 

It doesn’t take long at all to complete the Chemin Du Lac route, around an hour, and at the start and end you have public toilets, as well as a shop, restaurant and the Wood Museum. We would have loved to enter the museum but it was closed during our walk. It’s definitely somewhere we will be returning to though in the near future so I will make sure to update this post with what we find and our thoughts after we head back.

There’s plenty of picnic places on your route if you want to extend your stay and enjoy some lunch or dinner while you are relaxing in the tranquil forest or by the pond. 

We found that a lot of the route was shaded, which is good with small children, but obviously on a hot day there’s parts where the sun can’t be avoided and it definitely can get warm on the exposed longer paths. 

Overall, a visit to the Arboretum makes for a peaceful half a day excursion, and has plenty to entertain all the family as they explore this well-kept nature reserve. 

Top Tips for the Walk:

  1. Check online to ensure it is open as it depends on the season
  2. It’s probably not a great place to visit in bad weather, and even in good weather make sure you dress accordingly
  3. Bug protection is a good idea, put on some deet or a gentle repellent before arriving
  4. Pack a picnic and enjoy a rest mid walk on one of the many picnic spots
  5. Combine two of the routes to see a good variety of landscapes. But if you have little ones who can’t walk too far or limited time, the orange route is a great way to visit a lot on offer in a short space of time.
  6. Combine this with a visit to the nearby Signal De Bougy if you have young kids – there’s a free play park, mini petting zoo and facilities here to entertain everyone. We even loved it as adults with a three-month old!

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Gorges Du Dailley – Incredible Hike With Waterfall Views in Valais

❖ Length – 5km if taking the Gorge route return

❖ Two hours needed at least

❖ Toilets at start and end at either the car park or the restaurants

❖ Two restaurants, one at the start and one at the end. Picnic spots in the pine forests after the Gorges.

❖ Family friendly for older children or young children if they are carried in a proper carrier. Although it may be hard to do the walk with the added weight of a young one with all the stairs. Not stroller friendly.

We are big fans of a gorge walk, and I have to say that the Gorges Du Dailley are some of the most spectacular we have hiked through so far. The views take your breath away in places, and the ascent and climb can do the same too thanks to the various different stairs, footbridges and ladders you need to pass to complete the route. 

The construction of these incredible passes will amaze you as you head down deeper following the flow of water and into the forest lined pathway which provides refreshing shelter on a hot summers day. 

Arriving there from Switzerland or France can be quite the drive. The roads at the last 10km are very narrow mountain passes with single track roads through the cliffs. It is a very scenic route but for those unsure on the windy mountain roads, perhaps not the best to take. 

There are several ways to walk this hike, however we primarily were there to see the gorges and therefore wanted to maximise our time there. With this in mind, we parked near the Auberge Du Vallon de Van, and then began our walk through the tree lined pathway following the signs for the ‘Gorges Du Dailley’ and past the welcome sign. 

We navigated through the trees until it opened out to the entrance of the gorge and the first ladder descent began. Then it was around thirty minutes of slowly descending the different contraptions and pathways, taking in the various views of the mountains surrounding us and waterfalls behind us as we hiked. After a short climb down, we again reached forest ground where we walked for a short duration to turn and see the incredible ‘Cascade du Dailley’ from the base. We continued walking until we hit the wooden shelter and then decided to turn around and tackle the gorges and steps but this time from the ground up. We wanted to make the most of the views of the cascade and also push ourselves with the climb up the 600 plus steps to the top! If you fancier an easier route, you can instead walk another fifteen minutes through the pine shaded forest and reach the main road, where you turn right to follow the route back to your car.

Overall, it was around a 5km walk in total but it was exerting thanks to the stairs you had to climb back up. Therefore bear this in mind when visiting with young children that may need to be carried if you do the Gorges both directions. It is definitely not stroller friendly. 

At the end, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious meal at the Auberge Du Vallon de Van. The menu changes with the seasons, and they have great local wines to sample to refresh you at the end of your walk. The service is great, and there’s an outside terrace if the weather is good. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. If it is hot, the hike can be both difficult due to the number of steps to climb up (600+) and that it’s often in direct sun. Wear suncream and go early or later in the day.
  2. The route has some steep ladders which when going down can be tricky for little ones.
  3. Good shoes are a necessity.
  4. The drive to the walk can be a little precarious at times, so take it slowly if you are not too familiar with single track mountain roads.
  5. Parking is free, but spaces can be quickly taken up during the day so try to get there early. Also helps with the weather situation!
  6. Those looking for an easier walk should take the Gorges down from the Auberge Du Vallon restaurant and back up via the road, rather than the other way around.

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Lac Du Vernex Hike and Picnic Spot – Hikes in Vaud

❖ Length – 4km loop

❖ 1.5 hours needed at least

❖ Toilets at start and end

❖ Picnic spots around the lake on the banks.

❖ Family friendly and stroller friendly for 90% of the route which is gravel / paved but babies best in carriers.

You’d be hard pressed to find a calmer or gentler walking route for a beautiful Sunday hike than the looped trail from the quiet mountain town of Rossinière to Lac du Vernex.

It is an easy 4km walk suitable for adults, families and those with babies if they are in a suitable carrier. We did it with a three week old baby and it was really enjoyable and a great walk for some gentle exercise.

It should take just a little more than an hour to complete the loop, longer if your hiking group has little ones who prefer a slower pace. 

We started our walk at Rossinière train station, where we also parked our car to return to later thanks to the looped route. If you turn right with your back to the station, you begin the walk on the better paved side but then after around 40 minutes arrive at a beautiful grassy bank on the left where I would recommend you stop for a picnic. It is just past a house, and the slope eases down to the lakefront making it the perfect place to stop and refresh. 

The water is very cold, even in the summer months, so take a dip if you are brave enough (we were not!) but I would advise testing the water temperature first so you are not in for a nasty surprise when you jump in!

Continue the loop around after your lunch, ending right back where you started.

I love this walk as it is so peaceful, there’s great spots to pull out a blanket and read under the sun for a quiet afternoon, and it’s super accessible for all levels of hikers. 

All in all, you can easily spend half a day here if you walk, eat and spend some time on the lake. It’s a beautiful place to explore and especially nice on a warm Spring day.

Download the free PDF version of the guide today

Arnensee Hike and Boat Trip

There are many beautiful lakes in Switzerland, but the Arnensee easily makes it into my top five due to it’s incredible backdrop of mountains and forests, and the icey turquoise of the lake which shimmers in the midday sun at just over 1500m elevation.

It is easily accessed by either car or foot, both taking a trail through the forest and alongside a river until you emerge at the rewarding mountain lake. We drove there from Gstaad until we reached the town of Feutersoey and followed signposts to the lake. From Feutersoey it is around a ten minute drive, or an hour and a half (6KM) walk. With a newborn in the car, we chose the driving option, although one day would like to return for the hike as it was a beautiful path, albeit it mainly uphill. 

If you do drive, be mindful that you need to pay five francs entry in order to open the barrier and access the route to the lake. The machine at the barrier also only accepts coins, so make sure you’re prepared in advance. 

When you reach the lake you have several options after taking in the beautiful scenic view. We chose to first hire a row boat and head out on to the lake before it got too warm from the direct sun. These are easily hired from the restaurant ‘Huus am Arnensee’ on your left of the lake. We paid 15 francs to hire a rowboat for one hour, and you can pay by cash or card, but they also have stand up paddle boards and pedalos. The staff are really friendly and happy to help.

After your lake excursion, you can then walk the path around the water’s perimeter which takes around an hour and has some beautiful picnic spots, fire pits and places to enter the lake for a cold but refreshing swim if you wish to. It is an easy walk but only stroller friendly on the right hand side, so babies are best in carriers. 

Finally, round off your day with a refreshing drink and the delicious spicy tomato soup at the Huus am Arnensee restaurant. The prices are really reasonable and the terrace has great views for a midday or end of hike stop before heading home.

All in all, you can easily spend half a day here if you walk, eat and spend some time on the lake. It’s a beautiful place to explore and especially nice on a warm Spring day where you can row out without worrying about too much sun exposure.

Top Tips for the Walk:

  1. Get there early to avoid crowds and secure a boat. We arrived at 9:30am and it was perfect.
  2. You need 5 francs in coins if you want to drive up to the lake to pass the barrier 
  3. Parking is free at the top however
  4. If you want to swim, remember it’s a high altitude mountain lake and therefore a bit cold!
  5. Only a paved path on one side of the lake

Download the free PDF version of the guide today

Gorges De La Jogne Hike – Scenic River Trail in Gruyeres

This tranquil and scenic hike follows the river over bridges and along carefully carved out footpaths until you reach the impressive Montsalvans Dam and Lac de Montsalvans. 

It’s easy to follow the walk, and takes around an hour and a half to reach the final stop at the Montsalvans Dam where you can pause for a picnic or continue on to Charmey for lunch at one of the towns’ restaurants. We always choose the picnic option as it’s so nice to sit by the blue of Montsalvans lake and refresh before walking the same path back to the car (so it’s 7km in total, taking around 3 hours without a stop).

It is family friendly, and great for kids to explore, however it isn’t stroller suitable and if you have a baby who has yet to find or only recently discovered their feet you will want to take them in a suitable carrier instead. 

If you put the destination ‘Gorges De La Jonge’ into your Sat Nav or phone maps, you will be taken to the start where you can park the car before beginning the walk. The turn off the main road to the entrance of the walk is just around a bend and can be easy to miss so try and take it slow as you approach. 

Begin the walk at the car park, and follow the path along the river until you hit a little cave, just after the waterfall, where you pass through on to a wooden bridge curving around the rock face. Then just keep following the trail until you get to the dam at the end. It’s very easy to find your way and there are places to stop and picnic places along the trail if you want a break or get a little hungry. 

We really love the walk as it’s always so serene and we rarely pass other people when doing it. We have also experienced it in all seasons, such as when we were met with some unseasonal May snow which made for a very different type of walk and views along the way. 

Be warned that they don’t open the gates to the start of the walk until April at the earliest, and it closes again for winter. I would recommend checking out their website online to see if they are open before heading there – https://www.la-gruyere.ch/en/Z10968/gorges-jogne 

Once we didn’t as it was mid-summer and our path was blocked by a fallen tree that had broken one of the bridges crossing the river, so now we always quickly check. 

Top Tips for the Walk:

  1. Check online to ensure it is open as it depends on the season and weather conditions
  2. Pack a picnic as there are not any restaurants or stalls where you can get refreshments along the way
  3. The same goes for toilets, you will need to go ‘au natural’ if you need to along the way
  4. It is kid friendly but not stroller friendly
  5. Wear good shoes as the path can be a little uneven at times
  6. Take a camera, it’s truly beautiful!

Bisse Du Torrent Neuf Hike – Easy and Scenic Trail in Valais

❖ Length – 6km one way, 12km return

❖ Three hours needed at least

❖ Toilets at start and end

❖ Two restaurants, one at the start and one at the end. Picnic spot at the end.

❖ Family friendly if you keep a close eye on young children, but not pram friendly

The Bisse Du Torrent Neuf is an easy but rewarding hike across a 6km path (12km return as it’s one way) that begins through the shaded and gentle forest, opening up to a narrow path at dizzying heights with incredible views across Valais. 

It’s accessible and doable with children, we had our two month old baby in our ErgoBaby carrier and we managed just fine, although be warned, it’s not stroller friendly and you will need to keep an eye and probably a hand on young children in many parts as some of the sheer cliff edges don’t have barriers. That being said, we saw many families with children as young as three enjoying the hike when we were there.

You begin the hike at the parking lot, if you park at the second one as we did, you have a twenty minute walk through the forest to the Chapel St Marguerite and a small local restaurant where the official path begins. It can be a little tricky to initially get from the parking lot to the forest path and then the Bisse trail, so you can either do as we did, and follow people up ahead, or look for the yellow path signs to Chapelle St Marguerite. 

When you begin the trail, you are met with incredible views along the way and it continues with narrow pathways and four different suspension bridges which are not for those afraid of heights. It will take you around two hours to complete it all from the forest to the end if you are stopping for photos and a break on one of the benches. 

Along the way, there are great signposts and plaques educating you on the history of the Bisse as well as some impressive photos showing how it was built and how people used to access it.

At the end of the trail there is another restaurant, ‘Brac Chalet’ and toilets, where you can stop for refreshments before taking the same path back to return to the car park. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. It’s best done in good weather, especially considering the steepness of the narrow pathways
  2. It can be hard to initially find the start of the trail in the forest, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the maps at the car parks before setting off.
  3. Good shoes are a necessity.
  4. It can get very busy, we arrived around 8:30am which was ideal as by the time we were on our way back, we had to wait to cross a lot of the bridges as you can only pass one direction at a time. Avoid the lunchtime rush where possible. 
  5. If you want to enjoy a picnic (or feed the baby as we did) there’s a little private hut just before the second bridge, or picnic benches along the way and at the end. You can also put up a picnic mat in the field at Brac when you reach the end of the trail.
  6. Again, it’s not a hike for you if you don’t like heights!

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

M Insider: The Monthly Roundup – January Edition

M Insider is a collection of things that at this moment, I think are truly brilliant. It might be a new destination, an ingredient I can’t believe I haven’t cooked with before, or a travel app that has just gone and made life abroad so much easier.

Here’s the second instalment of the M Insider Monthly Roundup, looking back on December 2019.

Morzine – French Ski Town

Often, I tend to dodge the more ‘touristic’ hot spots when it comes to the winter season. By doing this, you share the slopes less, you avoid overpriced passes and you don’t need to worry about expensive accommodation as many smaller resorts tend to be closer to home or reasonably priced.

However that being said, sometimes the cheesy and tourist filled winter villages are the best because they are exactly what you need at the time. We went to Morzine in France for the weekend, and honestly, the buzzing Apres Ski atmosphere, cosy little overpriced cafes and shops selling everything you don’t need, coupled with a stay in an extravagant spa hotels in the mountains really hit the spot.

Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

I am that obsessed with this recipe I have made it three times in the last fortnight. Granted, I have swapped out the asparagus for green beans and Mangetout to give it a bit of variation but honestly, it’s such a winner and so easy to make.

I just love strong, citrusy flavours. So if like me you want a quick but delicious mid-week dinner, look no further than this fantastic risotto recipe.

Embracing Organisation

I used to be a little embarrassed or ashamed of how truly, anally organised I was as a person. I love a planner, preparation is definitely key, and making an itinerary is a true treat.

However I decided that one of my ‘resolutions’ for 2020 was to embrace this quirk, and no longer apologise for wanting to have stuff scheduled or prepared in advance.

Since this year is a big one for us, I have already put in some time to properly plan events such as my husband’s 30th, our two big vacations and our Christmas accommodation (because we’re going away in a big group) and honestly it feels great. If you have a trait you’re forever apologising for because you think others judge you for it, stop. Make 2020 your year of embracing your quirks and making them work for you

Off-Season Travel

Travelling often requires perfect timing if you are going to make the most of your trip. If you want to see the Cherry Blossoms in Japan, you need to head there during a specific two weeks of Spring. If you want guaranteed sun, you need to choose your destination or your departure data wisely based on the location.

With all that in mind, whilst seeing destinations at their sunniest, snowiest or during certain festivals definitely has a lot of benefits, there’s a lot to be said about seeing places when they are classed as ‘off-season’ too. We have started to try and do this a little more, because I think that honestly, you see a completely different side and energy to many destinations when you visit out of their main window.

Venice was magical in December. It was snowy, it was empty and there was something incredible about enjoying a glass of red wine, next to a fire, in this enchanting and artsy city.

Again, the same can be said for Switzerland in the summer rather than its usual winter draw. Vast hiking routes open up, prices are a lot lower, and the wine cellars open. It has so much to offer for a destination people see primarily as a skiing paradise.  

Sex Education Season Two – Netflix

If you’ve not seen season one, well obviously start there. If you have somehow missed that season two is now available as you’ve been living under a rock or weirdly putting off watching it for some reason, end your excuses and start tonight.

It’s just as great as the pilot season, and I could waste away hours envying over Gillian Anderson’s wardrobe and style in the series. No wonder pantsuits are seeing a massive rise in the fashion world right now.

Seedlip Gin (Alcohol Free)

I first had a taste of Seedlip when I was celebrating New Year with friends back home, and looking for something to create delicious mocktails out of during the evening celebrations.

I got a Seedlip pre-mixed gin and tonic can, and honestly, it tastes fantastic and will be something post-pregnancy I keep on drinking to keep a good balance.

The Economist Subscription Packages

There’s so much free content available now online, but sometimes it really is worth paying for that extra long-form analysis, the discoveries into topics you never knew you wanted to learn more about, and the joy of reading something offline whilst tucked up in bed at the end of a long day.

The Economist do a really good subscription deal, especially if it’s your first time trying it. You can get the first twelve weeks for just £12 and it also includes a free gift.

It’s something I treat myself to every year, and look forward to each edition arriving.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

What a book. I honestly wish I could perfectly write enough to get you to read it without spoiling it, but I am wary that by doing so I will give important details away that I want you to discover when you lose yourself in this well-written and engrossing novel.

It’s not the typical genre I go for, but it is done so well it easily is one of the best reads I have picked up in the last six months.

If you want a new book, and feel like you can trust in my recommendation, order or borrow a copy today.

Neal’s Yard Sleep Body Butter

This book is incredibly powerful, and really makes you think. With the rising power of technology, we have to make a decision about how we want it to shape our future. Do we allow technology to enrich the few and impoverish the many, or harness it and distribute its benefits? It’s a must-read and it’s pretty hard to put down once you begin.

Social Media Detoxing

Four days ago I embarked on a month long social media detox, and already I am feeling the benefits. So much so, I have asked my husband to post my blog article posts and promotions for me so that I can keep relishing in the offline, switched off bubble I am happily living in right now.

I hope I last the next twenty five days, and the good feeling that comes with being socially ‘detoxed’ continues. For me personally, I wouldn’t have said I was ‘addicted’ to it but I definitely would scroll absentmindedly when bored or waiting for something like a bus every day. It had become a habit, a go to crutch for boredom, and I wanted to break than reliance.

I definitely am missing out on some of the great updates many of my friends and family post on a regular basis, especially with living in a different country to many of them, but those I am super close to send me these via a message or call anyway so honestly it’s not been bad at all.

If you too are feeling the ‘social habit’ where you scroll without realising, you’re posting more than you are experiencing day to day, or you are sharing photos for reasons other than memory capturing and moment savouring, maybe you need a detox too.

What Your Travel Searches Reveal About You

January is the month every year, where travel searches peak across the United Kingdom, and it’s quite significant. They are nearly 300% more compared to any other month of the year. Perhaps it’s something about the cold start to the year that drives us to seek warmer adventures to look forward to, or it could be that we want to get organised and start the year planning our vacations for the coming twelve months. I know I definitely fit into the latter group, for me, January is an exciting month to map out the year ahead and fill it with things I know will make it the best yet.

But what are you searching for when it comes to travel? Below I have taken a sample of the biggest questions you’re seeking answers for when it comes to organising your vacations, as well as some surprising discoveries about your searches.

Your Top Search – Best Holiday Destinations

We all want to make sure that we use our precious travel time wisely, so it comes as no surprise that the top travel searches are mainly about getting the destination right so that we go on a trip to remember for years to come.

Your Surprising SearchPhotos Matter Most

It perhaps comes as more of a surprise that we are now often using photo and social media based inspiration to influence where we visit next. Searches for ‘the best Instagrammable travel places’ and ‘Instagrammable destinations’ are rising rapidly, as well as people looking for the holidays that will give them the best photo opportunities in-between enjoying a gelato and exploring historic sites.

If you are looking for inspiration on where to visit in 2020, I have put together a post featuring my favourite all time destinations and many of them have free travel guides and itineraries for you to use.

To save you the click though, my top five are:

  1. Japan
  2. Iceland
  3. Norway
  4. Switzerland
  5. Italy

However if you want to see what the experts are recommending, the Lonely Planet annual ‘Best in Travel’ guide is well worth a read. You can access it here – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

They list their top ten countries for 2020 as:

  1. Bhutan
  2. England
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Aruba
  5. eSwatini
  6. Costa Rica
  7. Netherlands
  8. Liberia
  9. Morocco
  10. Uruguay

And finally, if neither of those lists appeal, you can always do as others’ are clearly doing, and use Instagram as inspiration of where to head next, bonus points in doing it this way is that you’re guaranteed to get a beautiful photo to add to your feed as this is how you picked where to head to!

Next Top Search – Last Minute Flights

There’s clearly two types of travellers in the world. Those looking and preparing their plans in January (the majority) and those who love a great last minute deal and are looking for a quick getaway.

Over the last five years, the volume of people looking for last minute deals has dropped. Perhaps we no longer are looking for the standard sunny late deal and our travelling preferences have started to change. However, for those who still love the last minute planning, searches for late flight deals peak in mid-July. Perhaps you are regretting not booking a summer trip as your co-workers head off on their adventures, or you are really needing a break from the day to day by the mid-point of the year, so you quickly get looking for a way to escape reality for just a few days.

For most people, the driver for the later deals seems to definitely be cost, with the word ‘cheap’ being included in the majority of last minute flight searches we make.

If you are looking for a late deal, there are five simple things you can do to make your search more fruitful.

  1. You get bigger savings when you book a deal as a whole, rather than just flights. Flight themselves are vastly cheaper when booked early. So if you are keen to get a good late deal, book your travel as a package deal to score the best savings.
  2. Be flexible with your dates, and try to fly mid-week where possible for the best savings. A different of two days can often change the price by hundreds (I have genuinely seen this more often than not)
  3. Set up alerts and subscribe to websites known for promoting late deals. If you are part of their mailing list, you get first visibility of any sales, or good deals they offer.
  4. Booking 14 days before or less is known as the ‘magic window’ and it’s the time where companies really slash their prices to fill up their packages and hotels. Try and hold out if you can before booking.
  5. Be flexible. With last minute deals, you often may not find the package in your price point for the destination you’re seeking. Be open to where you are heading for the best possible savings.
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

Searches are Changing – Travel Money

Ahead of a trip, we all like to make sure we have our currency for our new destination sorted. Interestingly, a lot of us only start looking into preparing it a week ahead of our planned vacation.

Of course, the top searches are primarily about rates and best exchange offers, but there’s been some interesting shifts over the last five years in travel money questions.

We used to look for the best rates with well-known high street brands. The Post Office is the top searched firm favourite, followed by Tesco, Asda then Sainsburys. Clearly, we like to combine getting our Euros with our weekly shop in the UK!

However these days, we are also looking for the best new alternatives to cash or prepaid cards for our trips. Revolut and Monzo cards searches are rising in popularity quickly, especially ahead of the summer months. This may be because many of us are seeking easy ways to pay abroad, with less hassle and better rates.

Alternatively, it could be that as Brits we now travel a lot more (on average, we see an increase of 8% more travel year on year) so a simpler solution for frequent travel and currency exchange is now needed by many.

Personally, I have a Revolut Card and I love it for many reasons.

  1. The ease of payment abroad, and fee free cash withdrawals
  2. The fact that you can monitor what you have spent your money on with great charts showing a breakdown (I clearly have a problem with eating meals out)
  3. It takes seconds to transfer to another Revolut card holder, making splitting costs abroad simple
  4. The exchange rates are always great, and you avoid the fees you would incur by paying on your usual cards abroad

If you want a better way to spend abroad (or even just track your finances better at home), get your Free Revolut card using my affiliate link here today.

Something We All Need – Travel Packing Tips

After you have sorted your destination, got yourself a great deal and looked for the best way to pay for your meals and experiences abroad, your next big question is usually seeking advice on what you need to pack for your upcoming adventure.

With the rise in short-breaks and only free hand luggage with budget airlines, many of you are now searching for the best way to get all the essentials on your vacation with you, without paying the essential luggage fees.

Here are the five best packing tips I use on a regular basis that you may benefit from too:

  1. Roll don’t fold! You can easily fit more in your suitcase if you roll your items vs. folding them (and as a bonus, they will crease less this way too).
  2. Packing cubes are the best packing travel invention. Sort your suitcase into handy sections which makes living out of a bag much easier, and reduces the stress of pulling out everything in your case numerous times during a trip to find that one item you need that’s currently evading you.
  3. Plan your outfits before packing, to avoid taking everything you might possibly need and quickly running out of space. Even better, use online capsule wardrobe guides for great inspiration on how to pair a few items to make many outfits.
  4. Pack in advance. There’s nothing like a last minute rush to guarantee you will forget something or end up taking way too much as you panic about what to add into the case just hours before you need to leave.
  5. Always have a spare outfit, toiletries and important documents in your hand baggage. You never know what might happen on a trip and it always pays to be prepared.         

What 2020 Travel Trends Will You Be Embracing?

As we move into a new decade, our travel desires and habits are changing to reflect our new desires and wishes when it comes to adventuring and experiencing more of the world. 

Below are some of the key travel trends I think will shape 2020 and the next few years. Do you recognise any of these from what you’ve been looking for personally? Do you disagree with any?

Train and Non-Air Travel

With the growing rise of ‘flight-shame’ and awareness of the environmental impact regular plane travel has on the planet and climate, people are looking for alternative methods of transport when it comes to planning their next adventures.

Because of this, train, boat and car travel will see an increase in popularity as people combine a more eco-friendly way to arrive with a scenic journey to their destination. 

In 2020, we have reached the joint decision to fly for only one ‘long-haul’ trip where we can’t reach the destination by other means, and then continue the rest of our adventures through other modes of transport. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start and lets us test what travel through different means really looks like. 

We will be embracing bikes, trains and long road trips to see as much as the world on our doorstep as we can. (Although for full disclosure, this excludes required business travel and trips to see family back in the UK seen as we have a new arrival this year that many want to meet.)

Short Breaks

The usual seven or ten day traditional holiday is moving over and making room for the rapid rise in shorter mini-breaks and weekends away. Younger generations are becoming more ‘leave-savvy’ when it comes to using their hard earned vacation days, and want to utilise them to see and experience more places. 

Therefore, we are seeing a rapid rise in three night destination hops rather than the longer week long holiday to disconnect and unwind. For 2020 and beyond, expect to see more people heading off for long weekends three to four times a year than one big all-expenses holiday in the summer.

We have been huge fans of mini-breaks for years’ now, and spend a good few hours every January working out how to best structure our leave to maximise our adventures for the coming year. Add a day onto public holidays, travel when quiet, and make the most of your weekends with amazing experiences to be found just an hour or two away.

Travelling with Pets

According to Mintel, 59% of British consumers now have a pet, and the biggest trend for growth when it comes to ownership is thanks to the younger millennials (21-30) who are now adopting a furry friend at the same time as their parents were choosing to have children. 

With this rise in younger pet households comes the rise in people travelling with their furry companions. Pet friendly hotels, planes and restaurant demand is on the rapid rise. 52% of American millennial pet owners will now take their pet with them if they are away from home for more than two nights. 

For those who find it harder to travel with their pets, such as those with cats, smaller mammals or animals who don’t quite like the journey, there’s also been a boom in services to support this. Sites like Trusted Housesitters have been gaining rapid popularity, and for good reason. 

Some of the best airlines to travel with a pet are JetBlue, Air France and Swiss Airlines according to independent reviews. Plus, the best countries to travel to or live with a dog? France, Switzerland, Italy and Canada top the list thanks to their pet friendly ways of life. 

Our cats love to travel in the car for short trips, but we don’t think they would quite like a longer journey. So we love sites like Trusted Housesitters and local cat friendly hotels for short breaks away or cat sitting support. 

My brother and sister in-law are literally the leaders in travelling with pets. Their dog Hiro has been alongside them as they take a gap year flying with them to Canada, the US, Mexico, Costa Rica and much more.

Ethical Travel

A survey by Sainsbury’s in the summer of 2019 predicted that 25% of Brits would be vegetarian or vegan by 2025. This accounts for the rise in demand for both vegan hotels, and eco-tourism and more ethical travel. 

People are becoming more aware of their travel footprint, choosing to take ‘no-waste’ amenity kits with them on breaks, seeking out vegan or vegetarian hotels to stay in and paying to offset their carbon footprints for each flight, delivery or service they use. 

I love to see it on sites like Viator, where tour companies are now offering more ethical excursions so you can see more of a country without damaging it through your tourist footprint. 

Family Travel

There’s been a huge growth in people travelling and going away with their extended family and it’s something I think will keep being popular for many years to come. 

As more people lead busier lives, or live further away from each other, the chance to all meet up together in an exciting new destination and to make memories as a family is really appealing. 

There’s been a surge in families booking large rentals, such as through sites like AirBnb, and making the most of both their destination but also time at the lodgings together to just relax, reconnect and make lasting memories. 

Detox Holidays

Whilst technology is a great enabler for every day life, often people are looking towards their holidays as a way of escaping the constant buzz and noise of being always connected. 

A lot of ‘technology-free’ retreats, hotels and vacations are popping up which promise a chance for you to truly disconnect for a period of time. An opportunity to go back to basics and enjoy reading, nature, hiking or the sights around you without online distractions. 

Honestly, this is something I want to try more in 2020. Perhaps not at a ‘technology-free’ retreat, but by leaving our phones behind in the hotel safe, the laptops at home, and properly disconnecting when away. We did this in the South of France late last year, to the level that we had several people asking if we had got there safe and everything was okay as they hadn’t seen any updates on our Instagram about being there.

It was a big reality check for us, and needless to say we now put the phones away during the day and only then upload any photos or highlights of the day when back at our hotel in the evening.

Staycations

Tied with the rise in eco-tourism, as well as the desire to discover more about the beautiful sites on your doorstep, there’s no surprise that staycations are seeing a boom in popularity again amongst travellers.

Whether it’s venturing out to discover hidden gems in your own country, or even just getting together a lot of little luxuries for a weekend hidden away at home, a staycation can really help you relax and recharge without having to (a) spend a fortune or (b) travel far. 

With our first child arriving in just a few months, I hope to use 2020 as a chance to explore more locally, giving us the thrill of going away without the stress of flights, travel and paperwork. Camping is a big love of ours, so we hope that this is one way we can achieve this in the summer.