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Summer holiday inspiration... Where will you go?

For many of us, summer is the most exciting season of the year – with long days, warm weather and most importantly… summer holidays! To inspire your much-needed getaway, I’ve included holiday inspiration from some of my preferred partners, to get you excited and help you decide where to go!

Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland

I love all these destinations, which is why I couldn’t pick just one.

Choose Italy, and you’re spoilt for choice with rich history, culture, art, natural beauty, and of course incredible food! A particular favourite of mine is Sicily, with its astonishing volcanic landscapes and ancient ruins – and not to forget beautiful beaches for some downtime.

Or perhaps you’re a fan of walking and nature? If so, you’ll appreciate Austria’s staggering mountains and beautiful rural countryside that’s very much off-the-beaten-track. One thing’s for sure, this country may be small in size, but it’s big in beauty and culture. Whether you’re exploring the deeply carved valleys and alpine peaks or visiting quaint chocolate-box villages and lakeside towns, you’ll find an unending list of sights to see and things to do.

In Slovenia, experience lakes, castles and historic cities. Its unique blend of folk culture and spectacular Alpine scenery will almost certainly capture your heart and imagination! Many don’t know that Slovenia is the land of caves – so there’s plenty to explore. During the summer months, there are plenty of festivals to enjoy, and not forgetting the food…be sure to delight your tastebuds with the regional cuisine.

And finally, Switzerland – which is famed for its snow-capped mountains, cuckoo clocks and chocolate delights. It may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of summer holidays, but it offers a lot – and the scenery will not disappoint. It’s also a country full of mixed cultures, food and traditions, so you’ll find surprises at every corner.

Inghams provides some amazing holidays to Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland and more. Contact me for more information.

Bulgaria has all you need for a beach holiday

What do you look for when choosing a summer holiday? If the list includes beautiful sunny weather, sandy beaches, quality hotels and low local prices, then Bulgaria is just the place for you!

Bulgaria is located in south-east Europe with a 200 mile coastline and borders Greece and Turkey, so it enjoys wonderful sunny weather. There are only sandy beaches in Bulgaria and all of them are gently lapped by the Black Sea.

We understand that value for money is important right now, and Bulgaria offers just that. With lunch costing just a few pounds (as well as wine!), bottles of local beer are around just £1 and dinner is approx. £10 - £15, which is great value! In fact, the Post Office runs regular surveys for the best value beach resorts, and Sunny Beach, Bulgaria wins almost every time.

There’s plenty of variety when it comes to beach resorts though – Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast has plenty to choose from for all tastes and budgets. The largest resort, Sunny Beach, has something for everyone and is home to two aqua parks, and just across the bay is Nessebar, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with cobbled streets and gabled houses. And that’s not all - I can share my knowledge and help you choose the right Bulgarian resort for you.

Plus, there’s a huge choice of hotels, from great value two and three star hotels, to luxury four and five star hotels – and with many being newly built, you can be assured the standard will be high.

Bulgaria experts, Balkan Holidays, offers a wide range of summer holidays to Bulgaria, and we can share these with you. Simply let me know if you’re interested in a holiday to Bulgaria and I’ll be able to tell you more.

A first-hand experience on the beautiful Adriatic coastline

Written by Penny Smith on her experiences with my travel partners, Travelsphere.

I kayaked around the walls of Dubrovnik, swum in secluded coves, bobbed around in an inflatable, and discovered ancient methods of air-conditioning, all accompanied by laughter and cheerful chatter.

We’re picked up and delivered to Gatwick where I park my brain. Travelsphere had taken care of everything.

Our guide gives us an overview as we head to our home for the week, MV-Katarina, a luxurious ship exclusively for the group. The crew are lovely and teach us an important word, ‘zivjeli’ (cheers). We have a trot around the town, devour three bowls of the best soup ever (plus dinner), and then fall asleep on the comfy bed.

Breakfast is served as we sail, then a swim stop. You can swim ashore, float in a pink flamingo, sit in the jacuzzi or just relax!

Every day there are excursions and every night, someone requests Jakov (a nightcap).

One of the highlights is kayaking in Dubrovnik. Our guide explains - “Brawn in the back, brains in front.” The sea is delightful, clear deep blue.

Another highlight is the Captain’s dinner, a special meal accompanied by a mandolinist playing traditional songs. Dancing starts and one couple are jiving, proclaiming it’s the first time they’ve done it in years.

At each town or city, Ivana takes us on fascinating walks while feeding us information - in ancient times, a pole would be positioned across a window to hang a wet sheet on, flapping in the breeze it cools the room (air-conditioning), you must rub the toe of the statue Dumbledore and make a wish, and how Hvar became the centre of lavender production.

Our final day is spent bewailing that we’re going home. We’ll be back. You can’t spend a week learning ‘zivjeli’ and not return!

If Penny’s overview has excited you about visiting the Adriatic coastline, then please get in touch. I can tell you more about the Travelsphere tours available and book you onto your break.

Escorted tours in Ireland

Why is an escorted tour in Ireland a must-do this summer?

If you are looking to explore somewhere this year but are not yet ready to travel far, Ireland is the ideal option for you, especially during the summer months that boast long days with plenty of daylight hours to explore.

A fully escorted tour of Ireland is a great way to see this relatively small but fascinating country. A holiday that allows visitors to see a variety of iconic locations with just one trip. A hassle-free, 'full package' experience with travel, accommodation and excursions included at a great price.

A tour of Ireland offers much more than just an "on your left" and "on your right" experience. A Cosmos or Globus escorted tour allows you to see as much as you can while still having time to explore your own interests. You'll also benefit from the knowledge and experience of your tour director and local guide who will provide you with information about the places you're visiting, as well as tips on the best things to do in the places you stop at. And another great thing about a tour is that it includes pre-arranged and pre-purchased excursions to must-see sights. After all, no one travels to stand in line, right?

Beautiful Ireland has amazing scenery including the Cliffs of Moher at 668 feet; the Ring of Kerry with its seascapes, winding lanes, and mountains dotted with brightly coloured farmhouses; and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

The Emerald Isle is a unique place, so what is it that makes it so special? There are spectacular coastlines, breath-taking national parks, quaint villages that are steeped in history, and contemporary cities that have modern attractions for everybody. When visiting Ireland this summer, you'll be greeted with warm weather and a bustling atmosphere.

There are many popular destinations, including Dublin, Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula, the Wild Atlantic Way, and Waterford, along with the West Coast, as well as historical Belfast and the spectacular Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

These and many other places can be found on a Cosmos or Globus Tour – which I can book on your behalf. Contact me today to find out more.

Top tips for car hire on your summer break

Now I’ve taken you through some of our favourite summer destinations and holiday styles, it’s time I spoke about those added extras, including car hire.

With the freedom to explore in your own time, hiring a car is a popular way to make the most of your holiday. With so many companies and services to choose from, the process of hiring a car ahead of a holiday can be overwhelming. But with a few top tips from one of my preferred partners, Holiday Extras, hiring a car can be a smooth ride!

1) Avoid fuel charges

When choosing your rental car, make sure you choose the "Full to Full" refuelling option. If you select "Full to Empty" (leaving the resort with a full tank and returning the car on an empty one) you may be charged an extra fee by the provider for the service of refuelling.

2) Purchase excess insurance

To avoid paying out in case of damages, make sure you take out sufficient insurance cover for your journey well in advance. All hire cars come with a certain level of insurance as standard, but this may not cover you in the way that you'd hope.

3) Beware of mileage caps and one-way fees

If you're planning on driving long distances or one-way, make sure you look out for mileage caps and drop-off charges before you depart, to avoid nasty surprises at the end of your journey.

4) Don't get caught out in the wrong car

Do your research before booking a car to avoid disappointment on arrival or having to pay extra to upgrade. For example, if the car carries five people, will there be room for all of your luggage?

5) Get snap happy

Make sure you check the car before you set off and photograph it from all angles to avoid any existing damage being wrongly attributed to you once you've dropped the car off. It's a simple and quick action that can provide you with a lot of peace of mind on your break.

So next time you’re off on your summer holidays make sure you pick the car that’s right for you. You’ll be well on your way to cruising in style. To find out more about car hire with Holiday Extras, contact me today.

So... what are you waiting for?

I hope that my round-up of summer holiday inspiration has helped you decide where to head off to. Whether you’re now set, or you need further recommendations and top tips, contact me today and I’ll be happy to help.


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