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, while airlines from other parts of the world have also been affected. How does it affect me?  If you are flying directly between Qatar and either the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain or Libya, then your travel plans will be affected. Passengers who have a transit flight through Qatar (For example, a flight from London to Dubai via Doha) that starts or ends in any of the aforementioned countries or usually uses their airspace are also likely to face disruption. Flagship airline Qatar Airways has cancelled and suspended all flights to the involved countries indefinitely. It has also arranged a number of chartered flights to bring Qatari nationals back from countries involved in the dispute (for example, Saudi Arabia). What should I do if I have a direct flight to/from Qatar to/from the countries involved? You won’t be able to fly on this ticket. Qatar Airways is offering passengers with a travel date between June 5 and July 6 the chance to rebook their flights or get a refund. The airline wrote in a statement: “Passengers holding a confirmed Qatar Airways ticket to any of the four countries between 05 June 2017 – 06 July 2017 are permitted to rebook their flights up to 30 days after their current confirmed departure date, one time free of charge. “Passengers will also be permitted to refund the unused portion of their tickets booked for the above period once, free of charge.” Passengers in the UK with existing bookings are advised to call Qatar Airways’ UK office on 0330 024 0125 – phone numbers for other countries can be found here. What should I do if I have a flight which transits through Doha to/from the countries involved? As these flights cannot go ahead, it is the responsibility of Qatar Airways to find you an alternative flight...

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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 first time and find out about its wicked history and the aromatic herbs like wormwood, anise and fennel that give authentic absinthe its vivid colour and unique flavour. If you acquire a taste for the stuff, you can pick up a bottle of highly potent ‘King of Spirits’ to take home. How to drink it Absinthe has a 70% alcohol content, so it packs a powerful punch. It’s traditionally diluted one to three with cold water, dripped into your glass through a sugar cube, using a special perforated spoon. Sip, don’t slam. Getting there: You can fly to Prague direct from most UK airports. Whisky – Islay, Scotland Red deer roam the moors and flocks of wild geese fill the skies over Islay, one of Scotland’s most beautiful islands. Long ago it was the seat of the Lords of the Isles, and it’s sometimes called the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’, but it’s malt whisky that makes Islay particularly special. The island’s distilleries are legendary, producing world-famous single malts. Kilchoman, the youngest on the island, opened in 2005, and has made a name for itself with malts made with barley grown and malted in Islay and aged in oak casks that lend sherry, bourbon and madeira flavours to the mature product. Tours of Islay’s only independent micro-distillery include tutored tastings of Kilchoman’s latest ‘expressions’ – a great way to pick up the vocabulary that will help you sound like a real whisky expert. How to drink it Drink malt whisky at room temperature, with a splash of soft spring water – a tulip-shaped glass will enhance its complex aromas. Do say: “I’m getting notes of peat, papaya, vanilla and caramel”. Don’t say: “Can I have some ice?”! Getting there: You can fly to Islay from Glasgow or take a ferry from Kennacraig on the Mull of Kintyre. Ouzo – Lesbos, Greece...

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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,...

Jun 1, 2017

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Ask the experts: How to bag the best hotel rooms...

Ask the experts: How to bag the best hotel rooms

Many of you will know the feeling: you check into your “ocean-facing deluxe suite” to find spectacular views of the local waste water plant and dodgy electrics which breach a minimum of five health and safety laws. Tamara Hinson spoke to hotel industry insiders to find out how customers can improve their hotel stays without breaking the bank. Get chummy with the staff We’re not talking about slipping the receptionist a ten-dollar bill, but about reaching out to the...

Jun 1, 2017

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Off the beaten track: Croatia’s best beaches...

Off the beaten track: Croatia’s best beaches

Think of Croatia’s beaches and the first that usually comes to mind is Brač’s Zlatni Rat, with its distinctive V shape that makes it the country’s poster boy for beach holidays. But along Croatia’s 1,800km-long Adriatic coast and its 1,244 islands, reefs and islets, there are plenty of other beautiful beaches away from the well-trodden path where you can dive into some of the clearest waters you’ll see in the world. Mary Novakovich uncovers some of Croatia’s best undiscovered...

May 25, 2017

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Avoid Paying Excess Luggage Charges

*For an up-to-date version of this article, click here. With airlines getting stricter on the limits they allow for hand and hold luggage it is vital that when packing your baggage, you ensure you are within the rules set out by the airlines you are travelling with. When travelling with infants you should be aware of how little you can take in terms of free baggage so ensure you check that too when flying with those under 2....

May 25, 2017

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How to do Santorini on a budget

How to do Santorini on a budget

There are some places on Earth that a picture simply can’t do justice to, and Santorini is one of them. No matter how beautiful the photo, nothing compares to actually being there for an uninterrupted view over the caldera to the volcanic peak that breaks the inky Aegean waters. And while holidays to Santorini can cost a little more than Greek island stalwarts such as Corfu, Zante and Crete, the breathtaking views alone make it worth it. Add...