Increasingly we are finding that people want to give Experiences rather than specific items as presents. Certainly we have personally found as we age and our house fills up with clutter we would much rather have a shared experience with a loved one, than be given yet more “stuff” to find a home for.
Many of our clients are booking holidays to celebrate a special occasion or milestone such as big birthdays with a zero on the end, significant anniversaries, as well as many proposals and honeymoons. The joy of this is that the giver often benefits from the experience as well! In this case the anticipation of the special occasion break adds to the experience with shared excited plotting and planning.
In other cases the gifter is arranging this trip in secret and we send the travel packs out to a different address so the game is not given away ! Then the surprise weekend break is given as a present on the big day, as people often do not actually travel on their special day so they can be at home with a wider group of family and friends.
The extreme surprise planners like to be away for the big moment and to try to get the recipient to the airport without knowing where they are going! This is always a bit trickier as the packing to some of our destinations such as attending a Venice Carnival Ball or going on a Northern Lights Trip in Swedish Lapland need a bit more thought than the usual weekend away!
Sometimes though it can be tricky if you are unsure of their date availability or their break preference and people prefer to give the idea as a present, and if it is well received then book it. The issue with that though is that availability may have gone in the meantime, and due to exchange rates and flight movement, we can only confirm the exact price for an exact date for 48 hrs and the price may have moved in the meantime. Both lead to an awkward situation!
Therefore the final option of gifting a voucher to a certain value is a good option for a special occasion break gift. This option lets the recipient choose themselves where and when they wish to go to. With over 19 countries on offer across our 4 websites, and with breaks ranging from travelling on the luxury Maharajas Express in India, to going to see the spectacular Verona Opera in the Roman amphitheatre, to Whale Watching in Iceland or an exotic Safari to see the Migration there is bound to be something that appeals!
Gift vouchers are also a popular way for friends to buy a present, or as a retirement gift, as everyone can contribute the amount they wish, and it is surprising how quickly this adds up to give someone a unique and memorable special occasion break.
These vouchers are valid for 3 years and can be topped up by the recipient if they wish to go on a more expensive break than you had intended.
So if you are thinking of gifting a Special Occasion Break do give us a ring on 01722 744695 or take a look at our 4 websites; Aurora Nights, Italian Short Breaks, Weekend a La Carte and Safari Addicts for inspiration.
With Brexit now confirmed we wanted to update you, especially as there is still a possibility we could Brexit without a deal. Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
You may need to renew your British passport earlier than you anticipated if you’re travelling after Brexit. The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
Please see a link below with further details and also a link for you to check your specific passport
Driving Licence Requirements
In the event that there is no EU Exit deal, the government will seek to put in place new arrangements for EU and EEA countries to recognise UK driving licences when people are visiting, for example on holiday or business trips. Until such arrangements are in place, UK driving licence holders may need an IDP in addition to their UK driving licence to drive when visiting EU and EEA countries.
Each EU and EEA country will decide if they require a foreign driver to have an IDP, in addition to a driving licence, to legally drive in their country.
There are three different types of IDP (International Driving Permits) covering different countries so if you already have one please check it is the correct one for the country you are travelling to.
For example –
Italy, Norway, Sweden – 1968
Iceland – 1949
It is very easy to get a IDP from a Post Office (There are 2,500 that issue them in the UK). You would need to take with you a passport photo, your plastic photocard driving licence and we would recommend taking a second Photo ID such as your passport as well. It costs £5.50 and it is issued there and then over the counter. We would strongly recommend if driving in Europe (including Norway and Iceland) you get one as the local suppliers are also not clear if they will need them or not. For example in Iceland one car hire company think they may not need them, another one says they will need them. For the sake of £5.50 it seems an easy decision for peace of mind for your trip, and as we would not be able to help overrule this requirement if on arrival it is required we do recommend you get one.
Please see the link below with further details, as well as the ability to search for you nearest issuing Post Office.
1135 AD is a new restaurant at Jaipur’s Amber Fort which recreates the splendour of the Maharaja’s Court. Your experience will begin with a traditional Indian welcome followed by a meal in an open courtyard in the central area of the palace offering breathtaking views of the historic Jaigarh Fort. The lavish meals replicate the bygone charm of the king’s court with a variety of traditional delicacies and exclusive music and dance performance by local artists.
Click here to see our Taj and Tigers break which also stops in Jaipur.
We always knew our partners in India were an excellent team delivering great service and now this has been recognised in India in the National Tourism Awards.
They have been awarded for the second year in a row the first award for outstanding performance for tourist services as a tour operator for foreigners coming into India in their National Tourism Awards. This is fantastic news and adds to the 20 National Awards they have already been given in recognition of the quality of their offer.
Click here as we have a super Taj and Tigers holiday developed with them.
For those of you who are enjoyed Indian Summers on channel 4, or followed Prince Williams and Kate Middleton’s recent Indian tour, you might have been inspired to go and see India for yourself as have a Indian Holiday!
India is a vast country and has so much culture to offer in terms of stunning Palaces, Evocative Temples and Historical Forts but there is also a softer side to see with exciting wildlife and wonderful areas of relaxation. To see India in full you need months, but for first time travellers to India we would recommend a 2-3 week trip with a private guide. He will not only teach you about some of India’s wonders but also steer you through the hustle and bustle and excitement that is India, so you can choose your own pace and how much you wish to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds.
For first time travellers to India the Golden Triangle Tour is a great starting place as you get to see some of the most iconic sites such as the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Tigers at Ranthambore and the many stunning palace of Jaipur, as well of course Delhi.
However having gone that far you may as well see a bit more of India! Why not continue to Mumbai and see the famed Elephanta Caves or the rather macabre but fascinating Tower of Silence? There is no denying that even with a private vehicle and guide,(so that you are travelling at your own pace), India can be a tiring place to be. The vibrant colours, heady spices and intense noise and energy level stimulate and exhaust at the same time so a longer stay to relax on the sun-kissed beaches in laid-back Goa is always a good plan.
It’s a struggle but if you forced us to pick just one highlight in each main location we would recommend:-
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest national parks in Northern India and has a growing population of Tigers. It is one of the most famous national parks as it was the former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, and now attracts wildlife enthusiasts keen to see the elusive Tiger
The Elephanta Caves in Mumbai Harbour. These Shiva dedicated temples were created between AD 450-750 and being hewn out of the rock are some of India’s most impressive temple carving. Now protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site they are only accessible by boat.
Obviously we have no choice but to choose the Taj Mahal for this recommendation. Commissioned in 1632 by the Mugham Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, it was effectively finished in 1643. It is believed to have cost to build the equivalent in today’s money of US$827 Million employing 20,000 artisans.
In Jaipur there are a few sites vying to be chosen as the top thing to see, but we will stick with perphaps the best well known – The Amer Fort, often known as the Amber Fort as it is 11km outside Jaipur in Amber. Built in 1592 in red sandstone and marble the beauty is actually inside with many pavilions and halls with influences from both the architecture of Hindu and Muslim.
Delhi is a city that bridges two different worlds. Old Delhi is a wonderful labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings.
For our highlight we have chosen the 72.5m high Qutub Minar, which is the tallest brick minaret in the world. It is the centerpiece of the Qutub Complex which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower tapers with a diameter of 14.32 at the case and 9 feet at the peak with 379 steps to the top. Construction was started in 1200 AD, with 3 more storeys added in 1220. In 1369 lightning destroyed the top storey wand it was restored with a further storeys added.
These are just a top few highlights for the first time traveller to India and we would recommend you take a look at how much more you can see of evocative India on a Indian Golden Triangle Holiday. At Weekend a La Carte we specialize in Special Occasion Travel where we recommend the best places to go if you are only going to this country once. For more information click here
There are three main types of travel. The first are the beach holidays. Flights, car hire and a hotel/villa and you’re all set. These are great for when you just want to get away and have a relaxing break. They are perfect for those that don’t want to plan and just decide as they go what they do with tomorrow. This is the sort of trip for someone who wants to keep full control of their schedule. They are simple, easy trips. Pick a beautiful location and half an hour on Expedia, and it’s all done.
The second category is the full set tour package. Whether it is a case of you travelling alone, wanting to meet new people, or whether you are just unsure how to put together everything you want to do, these are the breaks for those wanting someone else to plan out the A’s to B’s. It could be a case of too much to organise or just not knowing how. City breaks are easy to organise, but how about a trip to the arctic on a northern lights holiday? How do you organise a husky sled tour? Or maybe you are travelling around. Organising a trip to Golden Triangle India trip say, would be quite daunting for most people. This is where the tour package excels; it gives you effortless travel without the worry. Trying to arrange this sort of trip would feel like a comparison search for new car insurance at the end of the day, and that rather defeats the point of a wonderful holiday!
But there is a downside to the second category. What if you don’t get on with everyone in the group and you spend part of your coach or cruise trying to avoid set people? Also, it means many early starts, which feels contradictory taking into account that for a few days/week etc. you want to escape the alarm clock! Lastly, whilst you’re happy to get up early for a tour you are looking forward to, there are always parts of the ground programme you have no interest in, and that’s when getting out of bed early, packing the case and checking out of your hotel to be driven to the next place, just feels like too much hard work.
Onto category three. At Weekend a la Carte most of our clients have done many of the previous types of trips, and they know what they want. This includes hassle-free travel and to be looked after, but not to be part of a group and have no say on their itinerary. Everything we do is bespoke travel, reaching from an African Big 5 Safari, Venice Carnival package, Northern Lights trips, to city breaks. We know you want control of your holiday, but we also know you want someone else to work on the finer details. Most of our travellers are celebrating special birthdays and wedding anniversaries. These are our forte. We know how to make your trip special. You won’t be waiting for others to get on the bus, we won’t take you places you have no interest in, your hotel won’t be away from all the local sights.
The travel dates, hotels and duration are for you to decide. We are very flexible! We have many clients who want us to arrange ground only and then leave them to their devices, and if you want a second tiger safari on your Golden Triangle India holiday or a second night at the Verona opera, we can do this. We have been doing it for thirteen years, and are constantly looking at ways to improve our breaks, extensions being one of the main ways. We really do have something for everyone. Why not take a look?
Weekend a la Carte – a chocolate box of trips including Slovenia, Russia, Prague, Jordan, Morocco and Vienna.
Aurora Nights – Northern Lights inspired trips to Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Greenland.
Italian Short Breaks – Verona Opera, Venice Orient Express Train, Venice Carnival and the Siena Palio.
Big 5 Safaris – South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.
Now the only hard part is for you to decide where your next adventure takes you!