• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton
    Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Changes to British Passport renewals

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Vicki Tester

 

Holidaymakers can no longer carry over any unused months when renewing their passports, under a new rule introduced on 10th September 2018.

 

What has changed?
Passports are usually valid for 10 years. Before the changes, you could renew your passport up to nine months in advance of its expiry. This would allow you to carry forward any remaining months to your new passport.

For example, if your passport expired in May 2019, you would have been able to renew it in September 2018 and receive your new one valid until May 2029 (10 years plus the 9 months).

Under the new rules this no longer applies, and any existing months will be lost if you renew early. That same passport, if renewed now, would be valid until September 2028.

Many countries require you to have up to six months’ validity left on your passport when visiting. The Foreign Office has full information on entry requirements for specific countries, which can be seen on their website https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

British passports are usually valid for 10 years, but if you’re travelling to a country which requires you to enter with excess validity remaining on your passport, you may have no choice but to renew early.

Heathfield Agricultural Show

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Vicki Tester

 


 

 

 

 

 

This year Experience Holidays shall be exhibiting at the Heathfield Agricultural Show in Heathfield, East Sussex on Saturday 26th May 2018 8am – 5:15pm occupying trade stand H124.

So why not come along to this fantastic show that offers a whole day of family fun and pop in to see us to discuss any travel plans you have in mind or just looking for ideas.

Tickets purchased in advance are cheaper than on the day, so why not purchase here.  We look forward to seeing you.

Holidays Closer to Home

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Vicki Tester

 

Did you know we also offer holidays closer to home?

Whether it is a short break to a classic European city or a week in the Mediterranean sunshine we can help you create your perfect holiday.

We work with a variety of well established companies giving us the ability to offer our clients a wide choice of destinations including the Channel Islands, Croatia, Greece, Iceland and Spain, to name but a few. If a journey on the Orient Express or a cruise along the Norwegian Fjords on an expedition ship is more your cup of tea we can help you plan all of these amazing trips.

Our expert staff can create the perfect holiday tailored to your own personal requirements, arranging travel by any combination of air, rail, car or ferry. So, if you are considering a holiday nearer to home this year please do get in touch so we can start planning your next trip.

Contact us here

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

 

Air Canada introduces Premium Economy for certain routes

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Vicki Tester

 

Air Canada is Canada’s largest airline and the largest provider of up to 70 non-stop flights per week this summer to seven major Canadian cities scheduled from London Heathrow Terminal 2.

The airline is updating its international fleet with state-of-the-art, fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliners. With the conversion of existing Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, Air Canada has introduced a much-desired Premium Economy Class on select international flights from London Heathrow to Toronto, Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Great Lakes Safari

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Premium Economy offers superior comforts in a dedicated cabin, a larger seat, more recline and extra legroom compared to Economy Class. Passengers in Premium Economy can also enjoy a premium meal service, enhanced amenities and priority airport services.

If you are planning a tailor made holiday to Canada this summer, then please get in touch to discuss your flights and ground arrangement.  Call us on Tel: 01323 446550 or Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Great Lakes Safari

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Destinations Show, Olympia

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Vicki Tester

 


Photograph by kind permission of UnCruise Adventures

Don’t forget we will be at Destinations Show at Olympia, London, on February 02, 03, 04 and 05. Find us on Stand AC32 which we are sharing with the American company Uncruise Adventures. Most of the team will be there over the 4 days and would love to see a friendly face or two. This is one of the biggest travel shows in the U.K and a great place to find new destinations and experiences that would suit you. If you have a particular place in mind for your holiday next year (or the year after) give us a call to book an appointment with our team expert for that part of the world. However we will be very pleased to see you as and when you are free.

For your free tickets to Destinations Show, please go to: http://www.destinationsshow.com/london/form/registration  and then type in MSC97 in the appropriate place.

We look forward to seeing you at either event.

Closer to Home

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Vicki Tester

 

Everyone loves their holidays but some may not want to travel too far so why not think about Europe.

Did you know we are able to put together specialist packages with expert advice that takes all the stress out of booking your holiday?  You can be sure that you are in safe hands knowing everything has been thought of so all you need to worry about is the packing. We can offer you a variety of airlines departing form many local airports or if flying is not your thing we can arrange European rail travel instead.

So whether it’s an exclusive Mediterranean villa or a luxury hotel or apartment you are after we are just a call away to inspire you for your next holiday.

Please contact our friendly and knowledgeable team on – Tel 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

 

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

 

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

The Northern Lights in Yukon

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Vicki Tester

 

From Autumn to Spring, when darkness comes to Yukon skies, the Northern Lights come out. First you might see a hint of neon colour in the starry sky, then a jagged burst of green, and soon you’re transfixed by an ethereal display of shimmering aurora borealis. Depending on auroral activity and cloud conditions, you could spend hours watching with rapt attention as the magical show unfolds overhead. Whether you’re fascinated by the science or thrilled by the opportunity to photograph the aurora, the sight of dancing lights in the night sky nourishes all souls.

The best time to visit the Yukon for the dancing northern lights is between September and April. While tour operators can’t guarantee you’ll see the aurora borealis, they will do everything they can to make your visit here memorable. They can direct you to the best viewing spots, share aurora lore and culture, and make sure you stay warm.

Aurora forecasting technology also helps increase the odds and Tourism Yukon have developed a tool at: http://travelyukon.com/Plan/Travel-Info/Aurora-Forecast to help predict when you can see this amazing phenomenon. With scientific data collected from the Space Weather Predicition Center, we’re able to forecast the aurora every 15 minutes.
Just have a few days?
Spend your days visiting museums, sightseeing and sampling local cuisine in Whitehorse, and spend your nights watching for the Northern Lights.

Day 1 – Bright Lights, Northern City
Settle in to your hotel, cabin or B&B, then soak in Whitehorse’s bustling Main Street atmosphere. Enjoy dinner at one of our fine downtown restaurants. You might want to squeeze in a nap because this will be your first night watching for the northern lights. Join a scheduled aurora tour or explore our dark skies on your own.

Day 2 – Parade of Colour
Southern Yukon is awash in fall colour, so take a scenic day trip south to Carcross or west to Haines Junction. Try some gentle hiking, watch for wildlife and explore local visitor centres and museums. Get ready for another night of northern lights viewing

Day 3 – Discover Yukon Arts and Culture
Late nights are part of the aurora experience, so enjoy a slow start in a café. Wander through Whitehorse galleries, visit the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, and keep an eye out for a special piece of Yukon art to take home. Tonight you might even catch another glimpse of the aurora.

Did you know?
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are caused by huge explosions on the surface of the sun that send out streams of charged particles that interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. These reactions occur 60 to 80 miles above the Earth’s surface, so it doesn’t make any sense that they can be heard. Still, many people report hearing a crackling or rustling noise when they see the lights. It could be that the sound is created near the ground by electrical phenomena associated with the aurora. It could also be that watchers are being affected by psychological or physical processes that we don’t yet understand. Of course, seeing the aurora on a dark, silent night is so exciting it might just be the sound of blood rushing through veins that’s being mistaken for the sound of light!

Background on Yukon
Situated in the upper Northwest corner of Canada, next to Alaska, the Yukon is Canada’s most accessible northern destination. Home to Canada’s highest mountain (Mount Logan) and one of the largest non-polar icefields located in Kluane National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage site – breathtaking doesn’t describe the vastness, or the beauty!
The Yukon is one of North America’s major wilderness attractions; close to 80 percent remains pristine wilderness with 5,000-metre peaks, forested valleys, unspoiled waters and untamed wildlife. Roughly the size of France at 483,000 square kilometers, The Yukon is home to more than 160,000 caribou, 70,000 moose, 22,000 mountain sheep, 7,000 grizzly bears, 10,000 black bears and 250 species of birds… and only 34,000 humans!
Experience Holidays offer a ‘Yukon in Winter’ package to view the Northern Lights. For more information contact 01323 446550 – info@experienceholidays.co.uk or visit www.experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Travmedia

YG_Robert-Postma1-440x660

Great Rail Journeys of the World

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Vicki Tester

 

We are often asked what and where is the best rail journey in the world? So in answer to this we have detailed below some of our must do Great Rail Journeys of the World:

  • Consider the luxury rail experience offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express, operating between Singapore and Bangkok and taking two or three nights depending on the direction of travel. Enjoy vistas of tea plantations, rolling farmland, colonial cities and historic temples.
  • Take a rail journey in Vietnam, from the bustling city of Hanoi to the village of Sapa, located in the mountains overlooking spectacular views of the Ta Van valley’s terraced rice fields. The train operates overnight in both directions.
  • Think about the super-fast Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ in Japan. There are a number of routes on offer, but no trip to Japan is complete without at least one trip in the iconic Bullet Train.
Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

 There are three iconic rail journeys available in New Zealand, one on the North Island, and two on the South.

  • On the North Island, the Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington through diverse countryside comprising of rolling farmland, towering viaducts and beautiful hidden valleys.
  • On the South Island, the Tranz Alpine train runs from Christchurch in the east to Greymouth in the west through stunning scenery. A stop is made in the small mountain town of Arthur’s Pass, where a stay enables a closer inspection of this Alpine region.  The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton (tying in perfectly with the ferry from Wellington on the NorthIsland)  south to Christchurch. This rail journey stops in Kaikoura en route, where a stay gives the opportunity to take a whale watching cruise.

 

  • An impressive and popular rail journey on the Devil’s Nose section of railway in Ecuador could be a part of your holiday itinerary.  Named Devil’s Nose due to the many deaths amongst workers as well as difficulty of building it, the route connects the Alausi and Sibambe stations taking a stunning trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breath-taking scenery.
  • Board the tourist train in Peru taking you on a journey through the Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the marvellous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • One of the more popular rail routes is the Coast Starlight which takes you along the west coast between Seattle and Los Angeles stopping in Portland along the way. Why not take a day out of your itinerary to treat yourself by taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can relax on-board the exquisitely restored vintage rail cars and experience fine dining service, multiple course meals and the stunning Napa Valley scenery. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the skies but since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people right through the heart of this amazing place and you could be one of them, you’ll feel like you’re travelling back in time. For something a little different during your visit to Colorado why not travel along the 45 miles of 3 foot narrow gauge track on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway which has been running since 1881. However long your journey is travelling by rail is a definite must do during your USA holiday.
Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

  • The most famous rail journey in Canada has to be the Rocky Mountaineer. With a variety of routes available you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks on board. One of the more popular routes is the Journey through the Clouds which takes you between Vancouver and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops. With different grades of      service available this is a must no matter how big or small your budget is. If you want to travel the width of Canada in comfort and without missing the scenery as you concentrate on driving then take a ride on The Canadian. In the space of four nights and three days, you’ll get to see the lakes in Northern Ontario, the lush boreal forest, the western Prairies, and the magnificent Rocky Mountains as you travel between historical Quebec and modern Toronto.
  • Australia has some of the most iconic rail journeys in the world. There isn’t enough room here to talk about them all but here are some to whet your appetite. The Indian Pacific gets its name because it covers 4352km between Perth on the Indian Ocean and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. The whole journey takes three nights, although you can break it up with a stop in Adelaide. You’ll travel through a variety of landscapes from towns and cities to the desert like Nullarbour Plain, from the outback to the forest of the Blue Mountains. So we’ve taken you East and West, but what if you want to go North and South? Named after the Afghan Cameleers who travelled this route, the Ghan will take between Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South going straight through the centre of Australia. If it’s just a day on a train that you would prefer then a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is perfect. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and is made up of 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges taking you from Cairns into the Barron Gorge National Park on your way to Karunda, known as the village in the rainforest.

 

  • Africa has a wealth of train experiences that cover the whole spectrum from world leader to leaving a lot to desire.  Rovos Rail has exciting itineraries that stretch from Pretoria, in South Africa through all their southern neighbouring countries and even a trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where possible they travel during the day. The Blue Train is another South African luxury train that travels from Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town or vice versa.
Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

For further information, and for assistance planning your next bespoke, tailor made holiday which could incorporate one of these great rail journeys, please call us on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk 

 

 

 

Questions and misconceptions in the daily life of a Travel Professional

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Vicki Tester

 

ExpHols new Logo

 

What I love about my job is that every day is different. Different customers, different destinations, different preferences and requirements. The aim of this blog is to enlighten readers to the life of a travel professional. Yes, I use the word ‘professional’ as I believe our role to be an important and responsible one. On any given day, we are looking after the travel dreams and plans of a number of clients- and this is something we take very seriously.

Today, I want to focus on questions – those that we ask, and those that are asked of us.

What is your budget?

Contrary to popular belief, we do not ask this question so that we ensure we spend as much of your hard earned cash as possible, to inflate the prices or to include unnecessary or unwanted upgrades. We ask the question so that we can ensure that any suggestions we make are realistic for you – so that we’re not suggesting a boutique luxury hotel, when actually your budget dictates that a 3* moderate hotel in the right location is the better option for you. It is also so that we can manage your expectations- the age old ‘champagne taste and beer money’ is unfortunately a common issue. It’s not to say we won’t do our best for you- whatever your budget, we will do our utmost to make sure that you get the best itinerary and the best value for money we can offer. So often we hear clients say ‘we don’t have a budget’ but it’s simply not the case. Everyone has a budget whether it be £500, £5000 or £50,000 – by not telling us you inhibit our ability to do our best for you.

Will it be more expensive to book with a travel professional?

This is an interesting one! A common misconception is that it is more expensive to book with us than to arrange the trip yourself. Whilst this can occasionally be the case, the majority of the time our expertise means we know the insider tricks to save you money. We can suggest changes to your plans that could make it more economical- whether that be reversing the itinerary to avoid a one-way fee on a hire car, amending the travel date to avoid a weekend supplement or simply discussing the accommodation options based upon our knowledge and personal experience. Occasionally it might cost marginally more for us to book your arrangements. But ask yourself this- if you’d like a decent haircut, will you do it yourself? Or will you go to a hairdresser and pay a fee to get the best job done? If you were to spend five hours trawling the Internet to research your plans, how much would that time be worth to you at work or at home? We do that work for you, but we do so using our experience and knowledge to help you get the best value for money, and the best holiday to suit your preferences and requirements.

Will it be hot? Will it be rainy? Will we see the fall colours? Will we see wildlife? (Delete as applicable!)

Whilst we don’t have the ability to foresee or guarantee any of the above (oh how we wish we did though!), what we can do is ensure you’re in the right place at the right time to have the very best chance of feeling the warmth of the sun on your face as you sunbathe on a golden beach, seeing the beautiful bright colours of New England in the fall, or watching the wildebeest migration through Kenya.

Why should we book with a travel professional?

I hope my answers above might give you some of the good reasons to book with a travel professional, but if you need more convincing, then consider the following thoughts. We and our local ground agents are available to assist you both in the lead up to your trip, and most importantly whilst you’re away. When disaster strikes in the form of illness, earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic ash clouds, this becomes vitally important – someone with travel expertise to help amend or cancel onward arrangements as necessary. We recently had clients fall ill in a remote location in South America, and although their travel insurance company needed to organize their homeward travel, we were in regular contact with both our clients and their insurance company to liaise and assist where possible and at any hour of the day or night – our clients felt we provided a lifeline to them, and we were pleased to be able to help. If your holiday through Experience Holidays includes flights from the UK, it will be financially protected by our ATOL license. If it doesn’t include flights, your money is still protected via our Trust account.

We hope this may have reassured you that even tho we are specialised experts we are here to help you get the most out of your bespoke, tailor made holiday and it is not always more expensive to book with us!  So why not give us a call to get a no obligation quote and you may just be pleasantly surprised – Please call us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

 

Tailor Made Australia Holidays

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WSI

 

Holidays in Australia have long been associated with spectacular beaches, raw and expansive scenery and unique activities such as great barrier reef diving. However, when people plan holidays in and around Australia, they often forget one thing, namely just how big Australia is.

Credit Australia Tourism

Credit Australia Tourism

Of course, it’s Australia being so big that gives rise to there being so much of the country to explore in the first place. From the timeless beauty of Kakadu national park to holidays in Australia spent exploring the spectacular bays bordering the great barrier reef, Australia’s bigness gives rise to the most part of its beauty. The only problem is that the sheer size of Australia can be somewhat disorientating.

At Experience holidays, our specialists make sure that you can experience Australia without such disorientation. We’re travel experts. Even better, because of our experience  planning holidays in not just Australia but all around the world, we can even help you save when it comes to your holidays transport and accommodation costs.

A lot of people who travel to Australia for the first time are shocked by what can appear to be comparatively high travel and convenience prices. This is because Australia has a land mass equivocal in size to the United States but only 8% of the population and infrastructure. In this case, it’s always best to book as much of your Australian transport and accommodation as far in advance as possible. 

Tailor Made Australia Holidays For Better Peace of Mind

The good news is that we can take care of all that for you. From you landing in Australia to your later departure, we’ll take care of all your transport and accommodation arrangements. At the same time, we’ll equip you with a customized itinerary designed to make sure that your Australia Holiday is as experiential as possible. From Melbourne to the majesty of the Whitsundays, well help you experience the best of Australia’s  bigness as part of a truly once in a lifetime holiday. 

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Experience Holidays is fully bonded under the Civil Aviation Authority ATOL scheme and is a member of the Worldchoice Consortium.
All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays sold by us on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk
Book your holiday with confidence, safe in the knowledge that your money is protected and your holiday is in safe hands.

Not all holiday or travel services offered on this website will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Those package arrangements which do not include any flights and therefore not protected by our ATOL are covered by TRIP. See TRIP statement here.