Jun 21, 2017

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When is the best time to buy holiday money?

When is the best time to buy holiday money?

The pound is in a bit of a state right now. Brexit uncertainty and the UK’s current state of political turmoil have caused its value to drop significantly, leaving Brits going abroad with considerably less spending power than they would have had a few years ago. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom – if you’re reading this, the chances are you’re about to go on holiday soon, so chin up! If you’re savvy and willing to put a bit of time into getting your travel money, there are ways to get a better deal. So when is the best time to buy holiday money? Currencies go up and down for all sorts of unexpected reasons, so getting a good rate is often a result of timing and luck. It can also depend what type of currency you’re after. While it’s generally better to get your fistful of dollars in advance, it could pay off to wait and get your baht abroad. Here are a few things you can do to try and get the best exchange on your travel money. Watching the market: keep an eye on travel money rates To give yourself the best possible chance of getting a good price, keeping an eye on the exchange market (the rate one currency is worth in another) is essential. XE.com offers a live update which you can use to see the value of the pound against other currencies. The rate on XE is the one used by banks and currency traders (which is called the mid-market or inter-bank rate) and therefore the best one going. Although you won’t get this rate, you should aim to get an exchange as close to this as possible. Watching travel money rates is all about trying to spot a trend. This, of course, isn’t easy, but if you check the currency regularly over a week or so, you should be able to get an idea of whether the rate is rising or dropping. As a general rule, start looking around a month before you intend to travel. Hopefully, this should give you enough time to get a good indication as to when is it best to buy foreign currency. If the rate is steadily going down, you may want to act now and buy (or at least buy some of your holiday...

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Jun 15, 2017

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Two days in Naples: Pizza, passion and plenty more besides…...

Two days in Naples: Pizza, passion and plenty more besides…

With its perfect pizzas, passionate people and thousands of battered, beeping scooters, Naples is a delightfully chaotic place. The port city hugs the curve of the Bay of Naples, where elegant boulevards and hectic, twisting alleys sprawl under the ominous shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Italy’s third-largest city was a popular stop on the Grand Tours undertaken by upper-class young chaps in times past, but today it’s noticeably less touristy than the high-culture Renaissance cities of the north – and certainly less demure. It’s refreshingly gritty and considerably easier on the wallet: you’ll get change from a fiver for a round of drinks or a tasty street-food lunch for two. With a world-famous coastline and remarkable archaeological sites on the doorstep, it’s impossible to cram everything on offer in and around Naples into two days, but if that’s all the time you have then we’ve squeezed the best bits into this 48-hour guide. Day One Morning: Naples can be overwhelming in both size and intensity, so begin by getting your bearings. The main drag, Spaccanapoli, means ‘split Naples’, and this dead-straight, narrow street literally splits the centro storico (the historical centre) in two. From here, the Spanish Quarter lies to the west and the train station to the east. Near the station, Attanasio Sfogliatelle has a cult following among Neapolitans and savvy tourists for its sfogliatella: clam-shaped pastries filled with ricotta and cinnamon, served warm from the oven. Take one to go, and head westwards along the bustling Spaccanapoli, devouring breakfast en route. Stop for an espresso at SpazioNea, a hybrid cafe, art gallery and event space popular with art students and just a stone’s throw from the archaeology museum. If you have more than the two days outlined in this guide, Pompeii (around 40 minutes from Stazione Garibaldi beneath Napoli Centrale) is obviously well worth a visit; if not, you can find a gigantic replica of the city at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (€12 admission), one of the best museums of its kind in the world. There are hundreds of relics from the lost city on display, including coins, medical instruments and mosaics that were buried in the eruption of AD79. Grown-ups may venture into the Gabinetto Segreto, or ‘secret cabinet’, which is home to the more risqué paintings and erotic objects recovered from Pompeii. The room has been under lock and...

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Jun 14, 2017

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11 of Spain’s best Blue Flag beaches...

11 of Spain’s best Blue Flag beaches

It’s official: Spain now has more Blue Flag beaches – those that meet the organisation’s high standards of water quality, safety and other environmental criteria – than any other country in the world. Hearing this news, we decided it was high time to root out the best of the bunch in Spain – and with 579 to choose from, that’s no easy feat. However, we’ve given it a bash and here are the ones we feel are worthy of your beach towel. If...

Jun 8, 2017

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Beyond the beach in Cyprus: the Troodos Mountains...

Beyond the beach in Cyprus: the Troodos Mountains

The rugged Cypriot coastline provides some of the most idyllic beaches in the Mediterranean. Paramali Beach in Limassol, Aphrodite’s Rock in Paphos – these are the sorts of relaxing oases that pop up on your friends’ social media feeds and make you weep with envy. But there is a lesser-known, equally stunning part of Cyprus that offers outstanding natural beauty, cultural fascination, and a palpable sense of tradition and heritage: the Troodos Mountains. Platres – home of the...

Jun 7, 2017

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The situation in Qatar: will it affect my travel plans?...

The situation in Qatar: will it affect my travel plans?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen have all severed ties with Qatar following allegations that the country backs certain Islamist terrorist groups. Qatar has denied these allegations, but the current political situation is affecting air travel in the region and beyond. As a result of this event, a number of airlines have indefinitely suspended flights to Doha, the capital of Qatar. The above countries have also closed their airspace to Qatar Airways,...

Jun 7, 2017

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From Absinthe to Whisky: the world’s best distilleries you can visit...

From Absinthe to Whisky: the world’s best distilleries you can visit

Fancy yourself as a bit of a cognac connoisseur, a true aficionado of Cuban rum and Mexican tequila, or a good ol’ sour-mash-sippin’ boy from Tennessee? Robin Gauldie’s guide showcases some of the best distilleries around the world where you can sample your favourite tipple in the place it’s produced. Absinthe – Prague, Czechia Mystique and ritual are part of the absinthe experience, and Prague is the world’s absinthe capital. The Absintherie is the place to sample the ‘green fairy’ for the...

Jun 6, 2017

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What does travel insurance cover you for?...

What does travel insurance cover you for?

Lots of us take out a travel insurance policy simply because we know we’re supposed to have it when we go on holiday, buying the cheapest insurance available and not giving it a second thought once it’s purchased. Unfortunately, this can lead to problems down the line – if you don’t fully understand your policy and pick the right one, you could end up without adequate cover. To avoid any unpleasant discoveries about your travel insurance policy, here we...

Jun 3, 2017

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Where should I go for late summer sun?...

Where should I go for late summer sun?

Still not booked your summer holiday this year? If it’s possible for you to go in September, then that’s the perfect time for late bargains, with the sun still lingering in many of Europe’s most popular destinations – and beyond. We’ve rounded up some of the best deals out there for you. All deals depart on September 14 for a seven-night stay – we’ve featured example prices from a range of departure airports, but you can tailor trips to suit...

Jun 2, 2017

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Avoid driving licence confusion when hiring a car...

Avoid driving licence confusion when hiring a car

New rules came into force on June 8, 2015 as the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) abolished the paper counterparts to our driving licences. This has led to a few small changes to the way we rent cars: here’s what you need to know. What changed? The DVLA effectively scrapped paper licences. It no longer issues or updates the paper licence counterpart for everything from motoring offences to what types of vehicle you can drive. All details are now...

Jun 1, 2017

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Two days in Lisbon: What to do on a short break...

Two days in Lisbon: What to do on a short break

Ridiculously reasonable for a capital, Lisbon is a thrifty traveller’s dream city – the kind of place where you can order duas cervejas (two beers) and get change from a fiver. Besides being cheap, it’s not bad on the eye, either. A ramshackle charm runs through its steep neighbourhoods, where tall European-style flats vie for space with buildings of remarkable beauty, and every hill-top summit (of which there are many) seems to give way to a staggering view. Oh,...