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Overseas holidays

Packing your suitcase - How to pack light


We're all guilty of trying to cram far too much into our suitcases. Try as we might, we always seem to come back with t-shirts we never wore and jackets we didn't really need. In fact, a recent survey from Monarch Airlines reveals a third of Brits wear no more than half the clothes they take with them on holiday. Some of us even admit taking pillows and toilet rolls abroad - things hotels provide for free!

You'll have to drag that suitcase around London, the airport and your destination, so it's vital to think wisely about what you pack. Not to mention you may also incur extra charges from your airline should your suitcase be too big or weigh too much. To make sure that doesn't happen, here's some tips on how to pack light.

The best Christmas markets from around the world

Christmas markets

One of the absolute nicest things you can do when December arrives is visit a Christmas market. We get to warm cold hands around a steaming cup of mulled wine, and get into the festive spirit while doing a bit of shopping.

There is any number of so-called German markets popping up across the UK, but they pail into insignificance when compared with the show stoppers that our international cousins throw. Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the best Christmas markets.

Top gap year travel destinations (infographic)

gap year travel infographic snippet for blog
Take a look at our infographic listing the top gap year travel destinations around the world...

Thailand top for backpackers

Thailand is the number one destination for young Britons on a year out after leaving school, new research has revealed.

Australia is the next most popular destination followed by the USA, South Africa and Peru, according to the study by ABTA - the Travel Association. If you come across a backpacker on your airport transfers it seems there is a strong chance they will be heading for Asia, as the continent dominates the list with Vietnam and India taking sixth and eighth positions.

Other popular gap year destinations include Brazil, which came in seventh place, New Zealand in ninth position and Fiji completing the top 10. Travellers using London Stansted Airport and the capital's other busy transport hubs might just be seeing an increased number of gap year travellers right now, given that it is exam results season when youngsters typically head abroad to let off steam and gain new experiences before starting university.

ABTA advises any young people heading off on their travels to visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to check out all the various things to do, and what not to do, in order to stay safe while travelling abroad. Victoria Bacon, head of communications at ABTA, said there is now "an incredible choice of activities and destinations" for young people to choose from to help them develop new skills. "It's very important that if you’re planning a gap year, you research your options thoroughly," she added.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Brits overlooking travel insurance

An increasing number of holidaymakers are heading overseas without travel insurance, putting themselves and their families at risk.

Research from ABTA shows that one in five Brits have visited a doctor or hospital abroad, something which can land the person concerned with hefty bills if they are not properly covered. Over two in five, meanwhile, think the contents of their suitcase would be worth more than £500 for a two-week holiday - yet many still insist on not purchasing insurance.

In light of the findings, Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, claims more needs to be done to persuade people to take out travel insurance. “Medical bills can run into thousands of pounds, so government must do all that it can to encourage people to take our insurance and make it easy for them to get the right kind of cover for their needs,” he said. This opinion is also shared by 57% of MPs. Not only can travel insurance cover you against medical bills, it can also protect you against lost luggage on flights or airport transfers.

Despite what some people may think, a European Health Insurance Card is not a suitable substitute for travel insurance as it only provides access to basic state medical care and will never cover the costs of repatriation to the UK nor lost or damaged belongings.

Copyright Press Association 2013