Hotel Review, mini break, Travel, Travel inspiration, UK, Uncategorized

Hotel Review: Storrs Hall Hotel, Lake Windermere, Lake District

After five months of lock-down and having to put our more adventurous travel plans on hold, we decided a change of scenery was needed. Both my husband and I have been lucky enough to continue working throughout the pandemic. Whilst we have loved having the time together and the time to be at home, it’s been exhausting and work has been intense. When there is no defining boundary between work and home, we fell into the trap of working 24/7. So, like many people this summer we set about a booking a UK staycation.

We formed a bubble with my parents at the end of July and began looking for a break close to their home in North Yorkshire. Cue, a furiously busy morning with my mum calling hotels across the north and finally finding the gem that is Storrs Hall in the Lake District. Luckily, they had two rooms available for the dates we were after. Booking confirmed we were all systems go.

Getting to Storrs Hall

We travelled over to the Lake District from Harrogate, North Yorkshire by car. We set off on Friday morning, and the journey took around two hours. The journey by road is relatively simple although there were very limited places to stop. I would suggest stocking up your car snacks and having a wee before you go. I noticed a number of the petrol stations had closed their toilet facilities due to the pandemic, this is something to bear in mind as you move away from the main roads and larger rest stops.

If you plan to travel by train, the nearest station is Windermere which is five miles from the hotel. There are direct trains to Windermere from Manchester Piccadilly, Preston and Kendal. Windermere can also be easily reached with one to two changes from Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, Leeds, Newcastle and London Euston.

First Impressions

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the Lakes and do know it is a hugely popular UK destination. But I have to say my levels of anxiety skyrocketed as we drove into Windermere. It was heaving. There were people everywhere and social distancing and the wearing of face coverings didn’t seem to have quite permeated the psyche of these British holidaymakers. However, as we drove out of Windermere towards the hotel, we were wrapped up with country and lakeside views. Not a tourist in sight.

Storrs Hall occupies a lakeside spot about ten minutes outside of Windermere. Close enough if you want to venture in, but far enough away to offer you some space and quiet. The Grade two listed family-owned Georgian manor house crept into view as we swept round the long-curved drive. Nestled in seventeen acres and wrapped on two sides by Lake Windermere, Storrs Hall certainly packs a punch on the first view. With the sun shining and lake glistening we were keen to get checked in and settle down for lunch with a view.

Which Room?

For a relatively small hotel, Storrs Hall has an impressive range of room options.  In the main part of the manor, you have the choice of a Classic room, Classic with a lake view, Superior, Superior with a lake view, Feature lake view, Deluxe, Deluxe with a lake view and a Master lake view bedroom. These thirty rooms have recently been refurbished and had a modern contemporary feel whilst remaining sympathetic to the grandeur and history of the building. The original architecture has been carefully preserved, so each room has a unique character and feel. This helps make your stay a truly exclusive experience for you.

In addition to the rooms in the main manor, Storrs Hall offers six lakeside suites and a boathouse. The lakeside suites are set in woodland just metres from the main building and are incredibly luxurious. With lounge space, hot tubs and sophisticated sumptuous design, these lakeside suites are the perfect hideaway. 

Finally, at the pinnacle of luxury is the boathouse. Set over two floors, the boathouse is an exclusive retreat with a hot tub, fire pit, steam room and lounge.

For our stay, we were able to secure a Classic Lake View, which my husband and I stayed in and a Deluxe room which my parents stayed in.

Classic Lake View (Room 35): What a view! South facing towards the lake and the fells was utter perfection. Even better, our bath was plinth mounted allowing some significant post-hike marinating taking it all in. Our luxurious bathroom was also furnished with a large rainfall shower. Finally, on the topic of luxurious bathrooms, Storrs Hall generously provides a gorgeous range of toiletries courtesy of Molten Brown.

Our room was well appointed with a comfortable king-size bed, tv, wifi, desk and tea and coffee facilities, robes and slippers.  

Deluxe (Room 8 & 9): In the deluxe room you sacrifice the lakeside view for a separate sitting room. The sofa in the sitting room can also be used as a sofa-bed to accommodate small children if you are travelling as a family. The room was stylishly decorated and had all the amenities of the classic lake view. The only drawback of room 8/9 was the lack of a bath. This room, however, is the only Deluxe room without a bath so it might be something worth checking when you make your booking.

Food & Drink

Our stay at Storrs Hall was a bed and breakfast deal but we opted to eat at the hotel for two of our four nights. Lunches and afternoon tea also made an appearance in our schedule. The food was incredible. Locally sourced ingredients, seasonal produce and exquisite presentation made for some sensational meals.

Due to the pandemic, the hotel is offering a reduced menu. However, there is still plenty of choices, and the carefully selected menu should provide something for all tastes and dietary requirements.  

Breakfast: The range of breakfast options on offer was brilliant. Cooked breakfast, toast, cereal, croissants, eggs, whatever your preference nothing was too much trouble. I can thoroughly recommend the vegetarian breakfast; it was the perfect set up for a day hiking through the fells.

Lunch/ Light Bites: Despite a reduced menu due to the pandemic there was plenty on offer for lunch. Sandwiches, salmon plate, burger or just a bowl of chips. Nothing was too much trouble and the service was fabulous.

Dinner: Every dish looked spectacular but my recommendation goes to the Heritage Beetroot starter (There’s a gooey ball of fried goats’ cheese…job done) The pan-fried sea bass and the chocolate slice with sticky honeycomb and cherry sorbet. Whilst the menu is subject to seasonal and producer change it is clear that the quality of kitchen staff will remain. The food was flawlessly prepared and beautifully presented. Dinner at Storrs Hall was perfection.

Afternoon tea: What’s not to love about a hot beverage and cake? The only way to make that combo better is to add finger sandwiches and warm fluffy scones. Coupled with a magnificent view and you’re on to a belter of an afternoon. The Storrs Hall afternoon tea is a must if you are visiting, just make sure you book in advance.

COVID 19 Response

It stands to reason that in the current climate I should outline everything the hotel has put in place to ensure that safety and comfort of the guests. From the moment of my booking, the staff were in contact every couple of days with updates following the latest advice. The main essential of further  information was the requirement for face coverings in all communal parts of the hotel. Once you were sat down with drinks or food of course these could be removed. This open communication from the outset put my mind at ease before we even checked in.

Check-in & check-out: The hotel requested that only one person from the group check-in for each room. This minimised the number of guests in the reception area at any one time. Before check-out, I was emailed a copy of my invoice for checking. Again, this reduced the need to spend additional time in the reception area. In terms of your luggage, the reception staff are happy to help you to your room. However, they will leave the luggage at the door to minimise the number of people coming into contact with the freshly cleaned room.

Sanitising & Social Distancing: Throughout the hotel, there were sanitising stations and signage encouraging you to use them and reminding guests of the two-metre distance requirement. After the checking in the staff talked us through the one-way system in operation throughout the communal areas of the hotel. As a Grade Two listed Georgian manor house, the hotel has space in abundance and social distancing was easily accomplished with the support and planning of the staff. Although the hotel was at maximum occupancy when we checked out, we never felt anxious about running into other guests. Even in corridors and on the stairs, guests and staff were conscious of each other and always moved aside or waited until you had moved on.

Dining: Like many places, the hotel was enforcing a prior booking policy concerning mealtimes. It was no great hardship to pre-book dinner and breakfast. The hotel has a brilliant service system in place. Having reduced the number of tables in the dining room each table was equipped with a ‘service’ table. The restaurant staff would serve the dishes and drinks to the service table and you help yourself from the service table. Once you were finished, you returned your dishes to the service table from which they were collected. This system ensured the staff could stick to the two-metre social distancing guidelines. This new system of dining genuinely didn’t detract from the experience or the high level of service.  

Your room: Aside from no turn-down service there wasn’t any great change to how your room was looked after or your use of it. In the room, there was a comprehensive two-sided document outlining everything the hotel is doing to ensure the safety of the guests. The main thing you needed to do as a guest was to ensure you hung the green service sign on your door each morning. Without the sign, the cleaning staff would not enter your room. Again, this measure ensures a minimal number of people accessing your room, thus reducing risk.

Final Thoughts

Our stay at Storrs Hall felt like a little slice of luxury and calm in what has been a very turbulent time. We felt safe throughout our stay, and the service was impeccable. We really couldn’t have asked for more. If you are considering getting away in the next couple of months, I can’t extol the virtues of Storrs Hall enough. Our short trip has left me planning a return, and I’m looking forward to a more walking focused trip to the Lakes in the future.

Travelling at home and putting money back into our economy has never been more important. So, let’s support local business, private hotels, guesthouses and b n b’s. Everyone is doing all they can to comply with government guidelines to keep us safe. If we want our hospitality and tourism sector to recover then we must invest in it’s future now.

Stay safe & happy travels

Jess

life lessons, Travel, Travel inspiration, Uncategorized

10 Life Lessons to be Learnt from Independent Travel as a Young Adult

Without a doubt, travel has shaped who I am as a person and given me so many hugely treasured experiences. I am completely intoxicated by the whole process of travel. From planning to those first giddy moments of arrival in a new place. I love it. As a teacher by trade, I take such joy from immersing myself in a new culture or the history of a place, but I strongly believe that my travel experiences go deeper than my appreciation of a new place. The independent journeys and opportunities I sought out, particularly in my early twenties have truly formed the adult I am now. So, here are some of the most important life lessons travel has taught me.

1. Budgeting & the value of money

As a young adult or university student, you don’t tend to have huge reserves of disposable cash. Therefore, if you want to travel you’ll need to budget and work for it. I remember taking bar jobs in university and working as a nanny and nursery assistant to earn some extra cash to fund my trips.

Travel is brilliant for helping you to budget. If you’re travelling for four weeks, you’ll need money set aside for food, transport, excursions, tips, accommodation and always, always, always keep some cash for emergencies.

Remote travel is equally perfect for encouraging you to stick to your budget. If you know there will be no access to a cash point or bank then you’ll have to carefully consider spending limits each day.

Travel, in addition, gives you an unprecedented understanding of the value of money. Think how far your money goes in places like Thailand compared to Iceland. The cost of living varies hugely across the world. So, when you are haggling with a street seller over two hundred rupees think to yourself how much that is in UK Sterling. Is it worth haggling over £1? Particularly if that money would make a big difference for that individual.

Travel and money can also come with a few nasty surprises, which most young travelers will only fall foul of once. Bank charges for using your UK bank card, astronomical mobile-phone bills, medical charges if you’ve not bothered with insurance can all be a financial wake-up call. Make sure you do your research and speak to your bank before you travel if you have any concerns.

2. Get out of your comfort zone

Travel will undoubtedly put you in situations you never thought you’d find yourself in. Whether that is standing atop a cliff, digging deep for the courage to jump into frigid waters or desperately holding it together whilst rescuing a seven-year-old from notoriously big kayak spiders, seriously they are huge. Or a personal favourite closing your eyes and hoping nothing bites you as you try to pee in a hole in the ground in Kenya.

There will always be something new or unknown when you’re travelling. The best thing you can do is embrace it. When you approach a situation with an open mind and a positive attitude there will always be something encouraging to take from the experience.

Travel is about broadening your experiences. How can you say you don’t like a thing if you’ve never tried it? How can you say its not your type of thing if you haven’t given it a go? My husband’s response to white water rafting is the perfect example. He was sceptical, a little moany and very much like this is not my thing. I will not enjoy it. Cue fifteen minutes into paddling; he’s right at the font, bossing every rapid and living his best life.

What have you got to lose?

3. Working & interacting with new people

You can’t avoid it, whether you’re a people person or not you will spend your whole life working with and having to interact with people. Travel is one of those things that makes you strike up a conversation. Group travel particularly is brilliant. The one thing you all have in common is your choice to travel; that’s a pretty good starting point.

Travel also gives you the ideal opportunity to test out your language skills. I am always ashamed by my poor linguistical skills. So many people across the globe possess a phenomenal grasp of English and I can just about muster ‘hello’ and mime my way through ordering a meal. But these interactions are priceless.

Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

One of the steepest learning curves I found was work in a different country. Nothing prepares you better for the working world than throwing yourself into a job in another country. I landed in Canada five days before I was due to start work at a summer camp teaching outdoor sport. Three of my five days were taken up with a first aid course to gain the appropriately recognised qualification, and two days were devoted to travelling. Suddenly I was working with a team of strangers, welcoming children from the age of seven to sixteen and taking full responsibility for my group 24/7. In those situations, you bond quickly, forge strong relationships and you get your head down and do the job in front of you.

4. Perseverance

As a teacher, one of my biggest niggles is that students give up so easily and seem to lack a deeper layer of resilience. Don’t give up. Whatever you are doing see it through to the end. The sense of accomplishment you feel at the end will completely outweigh any negative sections of the journey. The parts of our journey we find the hardest are often the parts we look back on most fondly. Language will be a barrier, you will have setbacks and plans will get changed, but stick with it.

I remember taking a group of eleven-year-olds on a kayak trip in Canada. As one of two adults in charge, I felt such a weight of responsibility for the children’s safety and well-being. So, despite the choppy water and toeing one of the less confident paddlers, I pushed through. The combination of responsibility and the physical challenge was a real test of my perseverance.

Challenge yourself, set ambitious goals and reflect on your success. You might surprise yourself with grit you didn’t even know you had.

5. Confidence & self-belief

Travel presents you with so many opportunities to learn and grow. Only when you stop can, you reflect on all the things you got right, or how you were able to learn from a particular situation. Making your flights, planning excursions, ordering in a different language, sharing your shower with local reptiles or even your Imodium lasting you an eight-hour bus ride across Rajasthan. Take confidence from the small wins.  Whether it was your careful planning or your mental attitude, you did those things. You made them happen and came out on top.  

6. Organisational skills

I remember sitting on my bedroom floor in 2008 and again in 2009 carefully laying out every item I would need for four weeks in India and seven weeks working in Canada. I wrote lists, researched and added more things to my list. My trip to India was my first big independent adventure without my parents, so I wanted to prove that I could do it. I wanted to get it right. Being gifted the opportunity to go and explore this fabulous country with my best friend was incredible. As newly turned twenty-year-olds we were so naïve but with naivety comes enthusiasm, we certainly weren’t short of that. Throughout the planning process, packing and even when we were away, the organisation played such a key part to the success of our trip. Clothing, money, visa’s, transport and connections from our group tour to the second part of the trip all had to be carefully thought about.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Without the opportunity to take responsibility I would never have unearthed my love for a planning spreadsheet or colour coded budgeting.

7. Adapt. Change. Go with the flow

Change is inevitable and perfectly laid plans are great. But travel doesn’t always fit into your carefully crafted schedule or itinerary. Flights get cancelled, transport is delayed, miserable weather scuppers your outdoor adventures or the world goes into lockdown forcing you to move your adventures closer to home or indulge your wanderlust via Instagram.

 I can honestly say, I struggle with big changes but I love spontaneity when I travel. An odd mix, I know. However, when I do make plans, I like sticking to them. But for every situation that hasn’t gone as I’d hoped, I’ve learnt, grown and ultimately, it’s all turned out ok, if not better.

 The ability to adapt and change your plans at a moments notice is a crucial life lesson. Being flexible will not only improve your travel experiences, but it’s vital in the wider world. Embracing the unknown when travelling truly is part of the whole experience, so don’t sweat the small stuff, think on your feet and roll with it.

8. Appreciation

Travel will leave you with a newfound appreciation of different cultures, cuisine and the natural environment. Standing at the bottom of Victoria falls in Zambia listening to the water pound the rocks or sitting in the sunshine on the shores of Lake Windermere listening to nothing but bird song it’s hard not to be in awe of mother nature.

During my time in India, we stayed with a local family in Bellary. The family were so welcoming and generous with the little they had. Despite three generations living in the house, we were offered a whole room and use of the bathroom to ourselves. Everything in that family was shared but they were the most joyful people who appreciated everything. I left their home after two weeks feeling humble and buoyantly thankful for their kindness.

9. Experiences out-weigh possessions

What is more valuable? Is the photograph taken straight after your first exhilarating cliff dive? Or a small tourist souvenir that will be destined for a cupboard before making its way to the charity shop? Travel has taught me that experiences outweigh stuff, every time. Experiences and memories will stay with you so much longer than a tourist souvenir bought for the sake of it.

Meaningful experiences help you get under the skin of a place and its culture. I remember visiting a wood carving workshop in rural Bali. Whilst my parents bought the most fabulous carved elephant from the roots of a mahogany tree.  I remember wandering around the back. Air thick with smoke. Men and women hunched on bamboo mats completely engrossed in their work. I was transfixed on their dexterous and skillful working of the wood. Animals, Gods and Goddesses materialised before my eyes. So, although the elephant is a gorgeous and beguiling thing, it is the memory of the place and the people that have stayed with me.

10. Unforgettable experiences and interactions

My travels have taken me to some incredible places, and I hold those experiences close. Travel is inspirational, the more you do the more you yearn for more.

Some of the best experiences are those which cannot be repeated or recreated. The magic of adventure is in the culmination of circumstances. Combine sheer exhaustion with sitting on the banks of the Zambezi watching elephants drink from the other side and a moderately strong mojito and you’ve got a perfect moment.

Transient relationships and interactions with people from all walks of life are special nuggets that enrich your journeys. I remember taking a local train India with my ginger best friend. With gorgeous Scottish milky skin and fiery red hair, she was an absolute novelty and the brilliant catalyst for conversation.

I would love to know your travel stories and how travel has impacted you.

Stay safe & Happy travels.

Jess

health and fitness, health and wellbeing, mini break, top tips, Uncategorized, weekend break

11 Sure-Fire Ways to Stay Fit and Healthy Whilst Travelling

It can be really tough to stay active during your holidays. The urge to fly and flop for two weeks can be pretty strong as we so often just need the rest. However, keeping active and making healthy choices can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of your break. Here are eleven top tips for helping you create and sustain those healthy habits whilst travelling.

1. Walk – Walk everywhere

Ever drive past a tiny alleyway or interesting looking building on your travels but you can’t check it out as you’ve already driven past? Problem solved, skip the taxi, bus or car and travel by foot. You will discover so much more about a place on foot. You can indulge your curiosity at every corner. Some of the best travel finds, be it food, local crafts or fabulous people are often found off the main thoroughfare.

Walking around your destination will not only give you a great sense of the place but will help you hit that all-important 10,000 step target. I love my Fitbit activity tracker and am always interested to see how many steps I’ve achieved at the end of a day wandering around a new city. On just one day in Dubrovnik, I managed to clock up 20, 682 steps. I would recommend a fitness tracker to anyone looking to keep tabs on their activity levels.

2. Take the stairs

Climbing flights of stairs can be a great way to get your heart rate up. So, if your room is located on the 9th floor of your hotel hit those stairs. You can always get yourself out of bed early and make a workout out of your hotel’s stairs. Try sprinting up and walking back down for recovery and repeat. This will send your heart rate shooting up and earn you your breakfast.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

3. Don’t drink your calories

Need a drink? Grab some water. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, speciality coffee and energy drinks are packed full of unnecessary sugar. All that excess sugar has to go somewhere. If your body can’t store it as glycogen it is quickly converted to fat for longer-term storage. If you feel thirsty it’s water your body is crying out for.

Holidays can absolutely be a time to chill out and enjoy yourself, however, give a thought to the calories you drink through alcohol consumption. According to the NHS, one pint of 5% beer is 239 calories or one mars bar. Would you really sit and eat five mars bars back to back? A standard glass of wine is about 133 calories or three Jaffa cake biscuits. Yes, I have eaten a whole packet of Jaffa cakes in one sitting, but I definitely didn’t feel good about it afterwards!

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

I am a big fan of everything in moderation. So, if you can fancy a few drinks in the evening why not increase your activity during the day to help offset any additional intake?

4. Take some simple fitness equipment

Skipping ropes, resistance bands and gliding discs are lightweight and easy to throw in your hand luggage as they don’t take up much space. This means you can get a workout in from the comfort of your hotel room. I would recommend the Pro Box wire speed rope, light durable and super grippy for clammy hands. https://www.pro-box.co.uk/wire-speed-rope-p-781.html.

5. Hotel room HIIT

I think we have all found a new love for online workouts during the pandemic. I have always been a fan of Joe Wicks’ recipe books but now I love starting my day with a quick twenty-minute HIIT. Everyone has twenty minutes, and you don’t need equipment or huge amounts of space. If you don’t believe me, check out The Body Coach 7 days of sweat 2019…7 days of workouts in small hotel rooms.

 HIIT workouts are perfect if your hotel doesn’t have a gym or you are on a tight schedule. Twenty minutes of high-intensity interval training will leave you sweaty, out of breath and set up for your day. Give your all for short bursts of activity then catch your breath and go again. This type of training helps sustain an elevated heart rate and is a time-efficient way to burn calories.

Photo by Li Sun on Pexels.com

For free HIIT workouts check out The Body Coach, Kayla Itsines, Pamela Reif or Chloe Ting on YouTube. All provide lots of free content and give you plenty of choices. If you haven’t got internet access have a go at these three twenty-minute hotel room HIIT’s.

You can download an interval timer from the app store, there are lots of brilliant free options.

HIIT 1. (Work for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds) LEGS, BUMS & TUMS

  1. Squats
  2. Glute bridge
  3. Reverse lunges
  4. Single leg bicycle crunches
  5. Sumo squats
  6. Plank
  7. Donkey kicks
  8. Curtsey lunge
  9. Side plank (15 seconds on each side)
  10. Slow mountain climbers

REPEAT

HIIT 2. (Work for 35 seconds, rest for 25 seconds) CARDIO & ABS

  1. Running on the spot
  2. Crunches knees raised to 90 degrees
  3. Climb the rope
  4. Elbow plank
  5. Imaginary jump rope
  6. Flutter kicks
  7. Star jumps
  8. Reverse crunches
  9. Mountain climbers
  10. Heel taps

REPEAT

HIIT 3. (Work for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds) WHOLE BODY WORKOUT

  1. Mountain climbers
  2. Press-ups
  3. Squats
  4. Bicycle crunches
  5. Running on the spot
  6. Shoulder taps from a high plank position
  7. Jump lunges
  8. Tricep dips
  9. Alternating single leg crunches
  10. Chest to floor burpees

REPEAT

6. Take a walking tour

Without a doubt, this is one of the best ways to familiarise yourself with a new city. Very often you can find a free walking tour or book onto a tour during your stay. This is a fab way to get in the steps without even thinking.

You can always combine a walking tour with a food tour…just in case you need some additional motivation. I would recommend any of the eating Europe food tours. We took the tour through Prague and it was a gorgeous day of walking and eating. We certainly earned our treats that day.   https://www.eatingeurope.com/

7. Get active with the locals

Some of the best travel experiences can come from immersing yourself in the local culture. If you’re in South Asia, why not try getting involved with some yoga, take a Flamenco class in Spain or join with some local cricket in India. Between white water rafting in Canada, kayaking on the Rideau Canal, cave swimming on the Croatian coast and learning Bharatnatyam dance in India, I have never regretted getting stuck into activities with local people.  

Active experiences can really help you connect with a culture and will enrich your travels as well as burning a few extra calories.

8. Have a good breakfast

This sounds simple but eat a good breakfast. I know the breakfast buffet can be all kinds of tempting with waffles, pancakes and pastries. But, a high protein breakfast will set you up for the day and keep those mid-morning hunger pangs at bay. I would always opt for an omelette, yoghurt and fruit or even egg and beans on toast. Choose something which will keep you tied over until lunch and not leave you flagging at eleven AM. Lots of hotel deals come with breakfast included, make sure you take full advantage.

Kedgeree for the win!

9. Stay hydrated

Keeping your hydration levels topped up is key. Good hydrations helps your body regulate temperature, aiding digestion, removing waste from the body and can help curb unnecessary snacking throughout the day.

Hydration is hugely important if you are travelling in hot countries and are particularly active during the day. Physical activity and a warm environment can cause dehydration so make sure you’ve got a reusable bottle handy and fill up at any available opportunity.

Photo by Julia Zolotova on Pexels.com

10. Plan your snacks

The breakfast buffet can be a brilliant time to stock up on some snacks for the day. Very often you’ll be able to snag a couple of pieces of fruit to keep you going. I would recommend packing some trail mix or nuts. These are excellent sources of energy and will keep you feeling full much longer than a quick fix sugar hit.

11. Hit the water

Getting onto the water can bring a whole new perspective to your travels. Whether you swim, kayak, canoe or paddleboard, getting active in the water is a great way to build in physical activity and make some fabulous travel memories.

I would love to know any top tips you have for staying active whilst travelling.

Stay safe & Happy travels

Jess

Destination wedding, top tips, Travel inspiration, Uncategorized, Wedding

18 Top Tips for Planning Your Dream Wedding Abroad

When my husband finally popped the question in 2015, we got down to planning the wedding pretty quickly. After 7 years together I had already got some fairly clear ideas about the wedding…that ‘one day’ Pinterest board had been getting some serious attention from about three years in. But, whilst I knew the guest list, dress designer, style of cake and theme the venue proved much trickier to pin down. Like many other brides, I was stuck with the little sister conundrum. My older sister had a beautiful wedding at the best hotel in our home town. Despite her flawless wedding, I knew I wanted mine to be different. It wasn’t until my husband and I starting seriously thinking about our plans that the idea of tying the knot abroad started to take hold. It was, without doubt, the best decision we made. So, if you are planning your dream wedding abroad, I hope these top tips will help with some of those all-important decisions.

  1. Is it legal?

Naturally, we assume that when we get married it’s legal, right? Wrong! You should ensure that your marriage in one country will be legally recognised in your country of residence. Every country will have different rules, and it might be difficult to have a legally binding ceremony if you are not living in that country. There are, sadly still some countries who do not permit same-sex marriage.

We opted for the island of Tenerife for our big day, but we had to complete a legal ceremony here in the UK first. We decided to make a thing of our legal ceremony, and it proved to be a lovely opportunity to share with our close family. The ceremony was no longer than 40 minutes and was held at the registry office of my home town. Our parents, siblings and family who could not attend the main event in Tenerife were present.

Having completed our legal marriage in the UK we were free to have a civil ceremony in Tenerife. Make sure you check the local laws in your chosen destination; you don’t want to be caught out!

2. Choose the right time of the year

Many couples tend to plan their big day to coincide with warm sunny days. But just because July and August tend to be some of the finest months weather-wise here in the UK, that may not be in the case in your chosen destination. If you’ve got your heart set on a Caribbean wedding you might want to skip July and August as that’s hurricane season or New Zealand where our British summer is their winter.

I would also consider checking out the top temperatures of your chosen destination. Whilst a tropical downpour or frigid temperatures may put a dampener on your big day, swelteringly heat may be just as much of an issue, particularly if you are inviting older guests.

Whilst you can never predict the weather, it is always best to be prepared. Despite choosing the island of Tenerife in October, where the average temperature is comfortably in the mid-20s degrees and they only see a maximum of 2 days rain during the month…of course, it rained on my wedding day! But a few showers and some excellent work by the wedding team meant that our day was still absolutely perfect.

3. Choose the right destination for you

It sounds obvious, but it’s important to pick the right destination for both you and your fiancé. If you hate sand but think the pictures of your beach wedding will be magnificent, don’t do it. Whilst the pictures may be beautiful, do you want to spend the day being uncomfortable with sand in places that only a good shower can sort out? If you have, a gorgeous English rose complexion, is the Middle East in July a good idea? As hard as it is, try not to get caught up in beautiful pictures of other people’s weddings. Yes, they are good for inspiration, but your day has to be personal and right for you.

4. Visit your venue

As soon as our mind turned to a wedding abroad there was only one contender for our big day. The Abama hotel on the island of Tenerife. This hotel has been a family stable for many years. It was where my husband and I had our first holiday together and it is somewhere we both feel so relaxed. Despite having stayed at the Abama more than seven times in as many years I had never stayed intending to scope it out as a wedding venue. So, nine months before the wedding my mum and I booked a week at the venue. The trip aimed to finalise some decisions, meet face to face with the wedding planner and her team and to sample some of the dishes we had decided on. This trip was enormously important to clarify some of the questions I had. Although I had eaten in the restaurant and admired the view from the terrace, I still needed a walk through with the wedding planner to visualise what it would be like on the day.

If you have selected a location but not a venue then a recce trip is essential. With the help of your wedding planner, you should have a shortlist of possible venues which will need a personal visit. Only by standing in the place and visualising your plans can you truly get a feel for a place to see if this is right for you.

5. Check your flight times and book a transfer

Make sure you consider when you want to arrive at your destination and when your guests will be arriving. If you are jetting off across the world, you’ll want to make sure that you and your guests aren’t struggling with jet lag. I would recommend arriving a few days before the wedding. This will give you and your fiancé time to meet with the wedding planner and go over any last-minute details. Arriving in advance will also allow you some much-needed downtime before the big day.

It is also worth considering the transfer times from the airport to your venue. I would make sure you have a transfer booked from the airport. You’re going to have some significant luggage and items to be handled with care. A properly organised transfer will not only give you peace of mind but also help set the tone for your wedding stay.

6. Think about your luggage

Normally when booking a flight, you automatically have one 23kg bag allocated to you. You’ll need to book another bag if not two. Be prepared to pay for these extra bags as it can come as a nasty hidden cost, but making sure everything gets to the venue safely is worth it.

In the month leading up to the wedding, I hadn’t quite appreciated how much extra stuff we were planning on taking with us. As more and more parcels starting arriving at my house it was clear a third checked bag was needed. We decided to take out our place settings, table plan, confetti, orders of ceremony and lots of other decorations. We were keen for everything to have a very personal touch, but we did need a clear plan on getting everything transported. We opted for carefully packing a heavy-duty plastic box and checking that into the hold, it worked perfectly and all of our hand-crafted efforts survived the journey.

Finally, my fiancé and groomsmen had the brilliant idea to play golf on the morning of the wedding. The hotel had a championship course, so it would have been rude not to. If you are planning on travelling with golf clubs, don’t forget these will also need booking onto the flight and will come at an additional cost.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

7. Think carefully about your dress

For any bride, your dress is a big deal. If you’ve had your heart set on that big poufy princess ballgown with the sweetheart neckline since you were seven, you might want to give thought to how practical a dress of that size and weight will be to transport. A call to your airline will help you make the right choice for transportation. The last thing you want is a bag of crumpled dress with no hope of steaming it out before the wedding.

You should also consider if your dress will suit the climate of the country you are jetting off to. If you know the temperature is going to be thirty degrees plus do you really want to be wrapped up in a heavy tulle ballgown?

You might also want to think about where your ceremony is going to take place. If you’re tying the knot on the beach, make sure your dress choice is practical for being on the sand.

8. Consider accommodation options for you and your guests

Many venues will provide you with a room rate deal for your guests. They will likely ask upfront about how many rooms you want to reserve for your guest. At this point, it is worth having an idea about who will be staying at your venue and who will be staying elsewhere. You might even want guests to give you an indication of this on their RSVP.

One thing to consider is the cost of your venue compared to other local accommodation. If guests have paid for their flights it might be, they are looking to save on the accommodation so the venue may not always be their first choice. Make sure you provide guests with other reputable options near your venue.

Finally, you and your fiancé will want to decide if you want to stay at your venue or jet off into the night to a more intimate location. We opted to stay at our venue. Not only was our suite stunning, but there was something extremely special about being able to have breakfast and socialise with our family and friends who had stayed on after the wedding.

9. Use a wedding planner

The experience, local knowledge and not to mention the language of a wedding planner is invaluable. A good wedding planner will have contacts with local suppliers and in all the relevant trades needed for your wedding. It is also likely using a wedding planner might enable you to access discounts and deals which you might be unable to secure on your own

Many hotels will have a dedicated wedding planner if weddings are a big part of the hotels business. Make sure you can easily communicate with each other and that you are happy before forging ahead with the relationship.  

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

10. Be adaptable

Yes, it’s hard when you have the perfect vision of your perfect day however for you to enjoy the process you will need to be adaptable. Booking a wedding abroad can throw up lots of different challenges which you might not consider, like the types of flowers or food available or the beach being closed due to strong winds or high tides. You can’t control everything. If you have an experienced wedding planner then let them take some of the slack, let other people help you and guide you to the best outcomes for your day. I had never envisaged rain or strong winds on my wedding day but rain it did right up until the time of the ceremony. With the ground wet and strong wind still in play, our wedding planner decided to move our wedding breakfast indoors. Best decision ever and I didn’t even make it. Whatever happens on your day go with the flow and don’t sweat the small stuff.

11. Book early & send save the date cards

If you want friends and family to be a part of your wedding then plan and book early. Guaranteeing your guest list can be a little trickier when marrying abroad. You are not only asking your guests to take several days off work but accommodation and travel expenses will be considerably more expensive than if you were celebrating in your home town. The more notice you can give your guests the better.

I would recommend having your save the date cards made/picked out or ready to go as soon as you confirm your venue. We booked our venue in October 2015 for an October 2016 wedding and had save the date cards sent to our guests by November 2015. Giving our guests a year to save and book proved helpful when finalising numbers.

As soon as you can, send your guests as much information as possible about the venue, location and what I expect from being part of your wedding party. I was not particularly tech-savvy in 2015 so we went for a good old-fashioned guest brochure of information. If I were planning my wedding now, I would set up a wedding website where my guests could easily access everything they need. You want to make the whole process as easy for your guests as possible. If everything they need is in one place you will spend a lot less time fielding individual questions about the same issues; leaving you free to focus on the big stuff.

12. Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest

As I have previously mentioned I was a wedding Pinterest fiend even before getting engaged. However, my late-night swooning over naked cakes adorned by fresh flowers and the perfect table settings came in really handy when communicating with our wedding planner. Although our wedding planner had fantastic English, many of her suppliers had no English at all. Pictures are a brilliant way of showing exactly what you are looking for.

Photo by Edward Eyer on Pexels.com

Your carefully crafted Pinterest mood boards will help the wedding planner and suppliers gauge your tastes and vision for the wedding. My flower board came into its own when I was told that due to the season in Tenerife and the types of flowers grown in that climate, I would need to reconsider my blousy peonies and tea roses. As heartbroken as I was the florist whipped some beautiful bouquets and buttonholes with local flowers based on the ideas from my Pinterest board.  Never regret those late-night pins.

13. Carefully consider your guest list

Immediate family are likely to make the trip for your wedding however will work colleagues who you’ve only known for nine months do the same? An invitation to a wedding abroad can be a big ask financially and time-wise for many. You’ll want to streamline your list as much as possible before you send out your invitations. Never invite guests assuming they will say no anyway, you may be surprised who suddenly messages to say they have booked their flights.

14. Wedding insurance

Worldwide pandemics, volcanic ash clouds, wildfires…if we learn nothing else from 2020, we should expect the unexpected. Whilst the unpredictable can be stressful, taking out wedding insurance should help to alleviate some of the stresses around of the things which are totally out of your control. There are lots of insurers who offer wedding insurance, make sure you compare what each is offering to make sure it best suits your needs. We opted for John Lewis Wedding Insurance as it was the best deal at the time. For more detailed information on wedding insurance check out the link below https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/insurance/wedding-insurance/

15. Set aside some extra cash for additional costs and fees

In addition to shipping and luggage costs, you will also be paying deposits to the venue and potentially external suppliers. This means there will be bank transfer fees and exchange rates to contend with. To avoid any hidden charges, make sure you educate yourself on the exchange rate between your currency and that of your destination. It is also worth finding out from your bank what their fees with international transfers are. For more information on sending money abroad check out the link below.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/foreign-currency-exchange/

Finally, weddings can be a bit of a bottomless pit when it comes to money. There will always be something you have forgotten or a small detail which needs correcting. Having a fund for these last-minute costs can be helpful and can ease your financial stress about the process.

16. Think about your honeymoon

So, you’ve chosen to get married abroad, but what about your honeymoon? Lots of couples will want to stay on at their venue or think about exploring more of the country you have chosen. This will not only save you money but will extend this precious time.

It might also be worth thinking about other countries you can easily access from your destination. With shorter flight times than you would get from the UK, it might be a good time to explore somewhere a little further afield.

Alternatively, you can drag that wedding vibe out for as long as you like. We decided to take ten days including the wedding in Tenerife but then chose to focus on travel for the first year of our marriage. Every month for one year we sought to jet off for a city break. These short frequent trips combined with an anniversary return to the Abama was perfect.

17. Think about planning time with your guests before and after the wedding

One of the best decisions we made was to stay on at the venue with our closest family after the wedding. This precious time was so chilled and a lovely way to come down from the big day. In truth, it felt like the whole ten days was our wedding. I can remember saying that I totally understood why brides got upset the moment the wedding was over. So, if you can stay on and drag it out I absolutely would.

Getting the chance to talk to everyone at the wedding can be a challenge on the day when you are being called for photos or dragged away for a myriad of other reasons. Two days after the wedding we were lucky, several family members and friends had stayed on at the hotel, so we decided to host a drinks party in our suite. It gave us another opportunity to properly speak with everyone for longer than a few minutes and was the perfect send-off for some of our guests.

18. Relax & enjoy your day

Without a doubt planning your wedding can be a stressful time, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Planning your time of celebration with your fiancée and family can be so rewarding so make sure you take step back and keep the process as fun as possible.

I would love to hear your destination wedding stories, so happy planning and good luck for your big day.

Jess

top tips, Travel inspiration, Uncategorized

19 Must visit destinations post coronavirus

I really thought I was handling this lock down situation quite well.  I’m reading more, eating and sleeping well. I’m even spending quality time with my husband and genuinely quite enjoying a slower pace. That was until my calendar pinged with a reminder that online check-in was open for my now-cancelled trip to Poland. I suddenly realised how much I have missed travel. Not just weekends away and the giddy excitement of long-haul trips but also travelling around the UK visiting my family. With wanderlust daydreaming the best we can hope for at the moment. Here are 21 fabulous destinations that should be on your list when things get back to normal.

1. Azerbaijan: Baku

Azerbaijan first came to my attention in 2011 after a historic win in the national institution that is, the Eurovision Song Contest (A guilty pleasure!). Celebrations from the capital brought Baku into the spotlight. Baku is a gorgeous tapestry of old and new. Skyscrapers rub shoulders with ancient architecture providing a juxtaposing backdrop for a city break with a difference.

Baku offers travellers excellent value for money and a host of incredible experiences. Notable sights include the Old City, The Maiden Tower and my personal favourite Yanar Dag or the ‘burning mountain.’ Something about this untamed natural fire burning for millennia at the base of the mountains outside Baku really appeals to my sense of adventure. Flames rip through the landscape and dance through the sky feasting on the natural gas escaping from the ground below.  A true natural spectacle.

If you’re looking for a luxurious base whilst in Baku, I would recommend the Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers. A 5* hotel situated on the Absheron Peninsula, with its sumptuous city and sea views, what more could you want?

2. Canada: Yukon

A true wilderness. Many travellers today are seeking a more remote and disconnected travel experience. Something a little more in tune with the natural environment. If this sentiment rings true in your heart then small Canadian territory of Yukon might be everything you’re looking for.

Yukon is Canada’s most westerly territory. Sharing a border with Alaska, Yukon has an Arctic coastline with a wild tundra climate. If you’ve ever fantasised about the aurora, midnight sun and husky sledging through wide snow-covered expanses then move over Norway!

But, the Yukon is so much more than a giant winter sports adventure playground. Glorious wildlife from arctic foxes to elk and bison call the Yukon home and can be spotted on hiking trails and making the most of this remarkable natural environment. The Yukon also holds a rich depth of culture of the territories First Nations. With almost a quarter of all Yukoners having Aboriginal ancestry First National history, culture and traditions are a celebrated part of Yukon life today.

3. Canada: Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s most easterly province. Sitting in the frigid Atlantic Ocean is the island of Newfoundland and section of mainland Labrador. This spectacular province should be topping your list if you’re seeking close encounters of the aquatic kind. The waters surrounding Newfoundland Labrador is prime whale-watching territory. With the world’s largest population of humpback whales returning each year to feed on the superior fish stocks, you are guaranteed an awe-inspiring experience with these majestic mammals.

Newfoundland and Labrador aren’t just known for its phenomenal wildlife, the hospitality and friendliness of locals are well renowned. Coupled with world-class seafood and the infamous East Coast hiking trail, Newfoundland Labrador has plenty to offer any type of traveler.

4. Georgia

Georgia is stunning, yet despite being a clear European gem it attracts a relatively limited number of tourists. According to the World Tourism Organisation Georgia welcomed only around 7,000 tourists in 2018.

Allegedly Georgia is the birthplace of wine. But, if fabulous vino and food aren’t enough to get you booking your ticket then Georgia plays host to a spectacular landscape. Sweeping vineyards, luscious green valleys, stone carpeted beaches, snow-capped mountains, and that’s just the scenery.

Georgia has a brilliant depth of history, culture and architecture, evident in the vibrant capital city of Tbilisi.

My recommendation is Moxy Tbilisi. This cool quirky hotel is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/tbsox-moxy-tbilisi/

5. Germany: Passau

Tucked away in the heart of Europe, sitting on the German Austrian border sits the town of Passau. Due to its location at a point where three rivers merge Passau is also known as The Three Rivers City. This uniquely located city with its picturesque landscapes, Italian style architecture and centuries of history makes this Bavarian Venice a hugely underrated European destination.

For a perfect riverside stay, I would recommend The Hotel Residenz, an imposing salmon coloured icon right on the banks of the Danube. Sitting atop the foundations of a four-hundred-year-old merchant house, the hotel provides the ideal balance between historic restoration and contemporary luxury. https://www.residenz-passau.de/index.php/en/

6. Italy: Florence

Florence has been sat on my travel wish list for years! After reading Dan Brown’s Inferno his vivid imagery has kept my desire to visit this Italian gem alive.

Whether you’re a history, art, food or architecture aficionado Florence has something for every type of traveller. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, every street, gallery and piazza have an abundance of artistic and architectural treasures to immerse yourself in.

Florence is the perfect spot for a long romantic weekend getaway. Unlike other, popular city breaks like Rome or Paris, Florence has a small-town charm and a slower pace. I can imagine nothing better than strolling down cosy backstreets, leisurely gorging on gelato.

I would recommend booking a room at the Art Hotel Villa Agape. Surrounded by an eight-hectare park of olive and cypress trees this is an idyllic place to retreat to after a long day exploring the city.

7. Japan: Hokkaido

Japan has been firmly etched onto my bucket list for forever (hence why I’m recommending two incredible destinations). Hokkaido is Japan’s most northerly island and has been somewhat overlooked by travellers who often opt for the well-known cities of Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka.

Hokkaido is a winter paradise. Hot springs, thrilling skiing and the glorious Ice Waterfall festival just to name a few must-do items.

To take in everything this Japanese Island has to offer I would recommend a tour from North to South. For some inspiration check out this sensational  twelve-day itinerary https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2400_hokkaido_winter.html

8. Japan:  Kyushu

Japan is a land of contrast and while the island of Hokkaido is a winter nirvana, Kyushu is a temperate volcanic wonderworld.

Japan’s most southerly island is best known for its active volcanos, hot springs and the destruction of Nagasaki in 1945. With such a vast range of things to do and see any traveller should make a beeline for this less explored island.

Kyushu is the optimal location for getting up close and personal with live volcanos then unwinding on the beach with a cocktail. In my mind, all adventures to Kyushu should finish on Tomori beach.

9. Jordan: Intrepid Tour

If you’ve ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark then you will have marvelled at the lost city of Petra. An entire city complex carved into the distinctive russet Jordanian rock. Whilst the 2,000-year-old city of Petra should rightfully be on your list, Jordan has more to offer the savvy traveller. Jordan is littered with incredibly well preserved ancient monuments. Remote desert camps of the nomadic Bedouin and coral laden shores. Jordan has so much to offer than simply the lost city.

To experience all this beautiful country has to offer, I would recommend starting your journey with Intrepid Travel’s Jordan Discovery trip. This luxury group tour could be the perfect starting point to ignite your passion for travel in the Middle East.

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/uk/jordan/jordan-discovery-125297

10.  Kyrgyzstan

I’m pretty sure I have a thing for mountains, and there is no more majestic display of dramatic craggy peaks than in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is a historic point on the Silk Road where ancient peoples from all parts of the globe would meet to trade.

A stark contrast to the expansive mountain ranges which cut across the sky is the vast summer pastures dotted with yurts of the nomadic shepherds. Kyrgyzstan offers a unique and wild travel experience in the heart of central Asia. True adventure seekers will feel as though they are the only travellers to hike the mountain paths and delight in this Asian wonder.

For a fully immersive central Asian experience, I would recommend the Central Asia Explorer Trip with Intrepid Travel https://www.intrepidtravel.com/uk/uzbekistan/central-asia-explorer-126379

11.Macedonia

It wasn’t until I was on a boat trip in Croatia late last year that Macedonia firmly planted itself on my must-visit list. After chatting with our fellow travellers that day, they couldn’t have given Macedonia a harder sell for those who enjoy a more active type of holiday. White water rafting, unpopulated hiking trails, glorious mountains and glittering waterways are just a slice of what’s on offer.

Even if an outdoor adventure trip isn’t for you, Macedonia offers a rich history with Ottoman and Soviet influences. The capital Skopje and a UNESCO World Heritage site at Ohrid are particular highlights. 

12. Mexico 

Whilst tourists have been flocking to Mexico’s beach resorts for many years, Mexico is harbouring an incredible travel opportunity. The El Chepe train. Covering six hundred and fifty kilometres the El Chepe train works its way through the Copper Canyon from Los Mochis to Chihuahua. Significant attractions along the line include awe-inspiring scenery, particularly when travelling towards Los Mochis.   

There are a number of beautiful tourist stops along the route, the most significant of which is the town of Divisadero. Upon arrival in Divisadero, you’ll want to have your camera at the ready for the panoramic views over the Copper Canyon. Four times the size of the USA’s Grand Canyon, the Copper Canyon is a true natural spectacle.  

https://www.visitcoppercanyon.com/visit-copper-canyon-train/#schedules

13. Norway: Lofoten Islands

Having made two trips to Norway previously, there is something about this Scandi beauty that has wormed its way into my heart. Norway’s Lofoten Islands is a rugged archipelago suspended above the Arctic Circle.  

Norway is renowned for its incredible mountainous scenery and deep placid fjords. But, the Lofoten Islands push this to a whole new level. For the adventure traveller, there is no more unique place than the Lofoten Islands to hike up soaring peaks, pitch your tent and watch that midnight sun.

My recommendation for a perfect Lofoten base is Hattvika Lodge. https://www.hattvikalodge.no/accomondation

14. Namibia

The beauty of Africa’s skeleton coast is not a new travel destination, but Namibia’s growing popularly shouldn’t put you off. We’ve all seen the images of burnt ochre sands with blackened emaciated trees silhouetted against the desert. But, what’s behind this stunning collision of earth, sky and sea?

Namibia is one of the safest African countries and one of the most favourable places for a family safari. In addition to dramatic game drives Namibia offers a host of other activities. Hot air ballooning, sand dune skiing or hiking in the Fish River Canyon are just a few of your options.

15. Portugal: Sintra

Portugal’s Algarve is a synonymous holiday destination with the British public but, take a journey into the pine swathed hills to discover the town of Sintra.

Easily accessible from Lisbon, Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage site. With palaces galore, miles and miles of charming views and exquisite Moorish architecture Sintra is quite possible the perfect day trip.

If you do want to extend your visit to Sintra then you’ll need to book in advance as accommodation books up fast. My top pick for a luxurious stay in Sintra is the Penha Longa Resort. http://www.penhalonga.com/en/

16. Singapore

I’ve never spoken to anyone who had a bad word to say about Singapore. The clean, friendly, world-class food and unparalleled hospitality this city-state is the ideal backdrop for any visit to the far east.

Singapore has an incredible mix of colonial grandeur, sky-scraping luxury, innovative architecture and is a brilliant stop gap for further travels to Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines or Thailand.

If you’re looking to break up a long-haul trip then you can’t go wrong with a few days in Singapore. Take a walk through the opulent and ornate botanical gardens. Sip afternoon tea at the world-famous Raffles. Indulge in sundowners on top of the world and be dazzled by the evening light show in the bay. A short layover in Singapore could provide just the right amount of glitz and excitement on a long-haul journey.

17. Sumatra

At the start of 2020, I started planning an epic trip to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Whilst other islands on the Indonesian archipelago like, Bali and Java are fabulous holiday destinations. I’ve been feeling the need for something a little wilder and a path less trodden.

Sumatra is the largest of the Indonesian islands. Sweeping lustrous tropical terrain, active volcanos, orangutan strongholds and lakeside tranquillity, Sumatra might just be the most exquisite cocktail of adventure and holiday chill.

As with many locations off the main tourist thoroughfare, top-end luxurious accommodation isn’t always available. I think a trip like is all about fully immersing your self in the environment and really sinking a little deeper into the culture of this beautiful island.

18. Turkmenistan

Every now and then I am completely captivated by an idea, most recently it has been to discover the old cities of the Silk Road. Turkmenistan is located in central Asia, bordered by the Caspian Sea, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. If you are a traveler looking for a destination off the beaten path then Turkmenistan could be your ideal location. Ancient cities, deserts, mountains and even the infamous door to hell Turkmenistan has something for all types of traveler. If you are looking for the ultimate remote travel experience Turkmenistan might just be worth it.

19. Vanuatu

If it’s the island life you’re after then look no further than the South Pacific jewel that is Vanuatu. Pristine alabaster sandy beaches, blissfully blue sea, world-class diving and volcano trekking. Vanuatu has the optimal balance of blissful holiday retreat and ultimate travel experience.

For superior relaxation and island vibes, I recommend Tamanu on the Beach. A private peaceful 5* resort and spa would be the perfect couples’ getaway or honeymoon destination.

I hope these beautiful destinations have given you some travel inspiration. I’d love to know where you plan to visit when travel is unrestricted and coronavirus is confined to the archives of 2020.

Happy travels

Jess