A third of Brits have list of things to do before they die

According to the findings of a recent survey, more than a third of the British public have an active list of things that they intend to do before they die.

The extent of the ‘bucket list’ phenomenon has been revealed in a survey carried out by ebookers.com, an on-line travel agency, with 34 percent of the respondents to its study stating that they had compiled such a list. To facilitate this trend, ebookers.com has launched a bucket list application of its own on Facebook, to assist the listing and sharing of ideas for experiences and destinations that are considered imperative for a fulfilled existence.

The website’s users are invited to compile their own bucket list, whether it be realistically attainable or merely the stuff that dreams are made of. It can include those experiences that the individual has already ticked off, and those that they have yet to satisfy. Completed lists, and those that are still under development, can be shared and compared with groups of Facebook friends. The app is also accessible via smartphone, enabling the active ‘bucket-lister’ to update their list with thoughts and images the moment they achieve another goal.

For those who are short of ideas of their own, the app provides a number of varied suggestions.

Ebookers, social media manager, Tamara Askew, said, ‘We’re encouraging customers to try somewhere new in 2013. To make it easier for everyone to get out and do those experiences they’ve always dreamed of, we’re providing users of our new Facebook app the chance to win one of their bucket list trips. All you have to do is add one pre-existing or yet-to be-completed experience to your list and you will automatically be entered in the competition.’

 

Go Eco: Eco Tourism Choices Just Keep Growing

When the phrase, ‘eco tourism’ first emerged back in the 1980’s, it was considered to be a curiosity for the minority, but 30 years on the phenomena has grown to be a multi-million pound, worldwide industry that currently offers more choices than even the most ardent eco-phile could work their way through in a lifetime.

Eco tourism can mean different things to different people, but the most widely accepted meaning of the term is for low-impact, small-scale tourism, to environments that are fragile, pristine and generally in need of conservation. If the traveller is educated by the experience, provides funds through his/her visit for ecological conservation, or directly benefits local communities, then they are an eco tourist.

The eco tourism choices on offer tend to fall into two broad categories, those trips where the tourist simply goes to look and learn without having any direct impact on the local environment or culture, and the more proactive trips that involve the tourist actively contributing to a project or programme that directly benefits the local environment, its human inhabitants or wildlife. The latter could be anything from helping to count the bat population in Borneo, to working on an agricultural irrigation project in Central Africa.

Such is the range of specific tours currently on offer that it would be impossible to provide a definitive list in this article, but websites like responsibletravel.com and iexplore.co.uk, along with many others, have listings for all types of experiences.

Offerings currently available in the eco market include the well publicised and popular, like visiting the mountain gorillas in Central Africa or seeing giant pandas in their natural habitat in China, while iexplore have tours that include helping to build a school in a remote village in Laos, or experiencing a wilderness adventure in Finland, including dog-sledding and snowmobile trips.

It would be wrong to assume that trips involving work on humanitarian projects are inexpensive as a consequence. Earning the feel-good factor can be expensive, and as an example the aforementioned Laos school trip costs GBP1,049 per person for 11 days, exclusive of flights, but bed and breakfast accommodation is included.

Opinions will continue to differ on the positive or negative impact of eco tourism, and there is no doubt that the justification varies dramatically from trip to trip and project to project. The argument that opening up endangered animal species or remote human communities to gawping outsiders can exert undue influences on normal life is a valid one. But just as valid is the premise that in these profit-driven times, communities or animal environments that are not seen to be self-sustaining and relevant will always be in danger of being swept aside by the outside-world’s relentless appetite for land and resources.

Eco tourism undoubtedly brings much-needed funds and publicity to these otherwise vulnerable existences, and to that end, most environmentalists will consider it the lesser of two evils and hope that it sustains its present burgeoning levels of popularity.

 

Remote Rescue for Risk Takers

Cliff divers, jungle trekkers and shark swimmers no longer need to fear for their safety when participating in deliciously adventurous activities abroad – thanks to the new ‘Skyguard’. The masses of British thrill seekers can now purchase the ‘Skyguard International System’; a small, yet ingenious device the size of a tiny key-fob, which enables trippers to summon help at a mere click of a button.
Whether you are having your own traumatic ‘Jaws’ moment or find yourself in a horribly reminiscent situation not so dissimilar from ‘147 Hours’ where by you have your arm wedged between a boulder and a rock-wall, all you need to do is activate your Skyguard key to send for help.
The first personal emergency service offers exclusivity for all British travellers and is the smallest GPS alarm of its kind. In terms of practicality, is excels; allowing tourists to click the device onto their rucksack whilst abseiling down a mountain or to hook onto their wet-suit whilst diving among exotic creatures in the ocean.
The service is rapidly growing across the globe and is already working across 34 European countries, the Russian Federation and South Africa. The device alerts a valiant rescue team as your location can be pin pointed within minutes, thanks to the technologically acclaimed tracking device embedded in the key. A godsend no doubt, for those whose fishing boat has crashed and don’t really want to replicate scenes from Castaway. So you needn’t worry about living off coconuts and catching fish for the remainder of your life.
The golden little gadget is an advisable investment for those who travel frequently to partake in adrenaline pumping activities abroad, for a not so unattractive price tag of £29.95 a month. So by all means, go white water rafting or rock climbing in the middle of no-where- just don’t pick up your car keys instead…

Article by Emma Boyle

Thinking of going travelling?. . .

Travelling is a wonderful experience and has the potential to create some of the greatest memories of a lifetime, which everybody should be able experience at some point. So here are a few words of wisdom about what to and what not to take when travelling in future, and just a few other handy tips. Enjoy!

1. Take care over choosing your travelling partner. You will no doubt experience some stressful situations, have to cope with intense heat and travel in terrible transport for long hours, so it’s imperative that you travel with someone who is like minded to yourself, you can converse with for long hours and who doesn’t have any overly annoying habits or personality traits….loud breathing on a 15 hour bus… no thanks!

2. Pack light. It’s common sense but when I was packing I still put in 3 pairs of shoes, ‘just in case’. That extra weight will turn out to be the bane of your life, when you have to lug it all around on your back! Once you get out there, you will find you can buy everything you need. Plus, you will have more room to fit in any cool souvenirs you come across on your way.

3. Don’t plan too much in advance. Once you arrive at a place, or meet people you may hear about cool things you want to do, that aren’t on your pre-planned itinerary. Being trapped by your own organisation because you have to be at a hotel or a place by a certain time can taint your trip. Plan a few things in advance, but it’s easy to book cheap hostels on the Internet once you’re out there.

4. Be open to new things. Be ready to embrace new cultures, food and drinks but at the same time have some common sense. Getting ill when travelling is never ideal so be wary of food which may have been washed in the local water, and of ice cubes.

5. Write a diary! It may sound a bit Adrian Mole-esque but jotting down a few words about where you have been and stayed, and what you have spent will really prove beneficial once you arrive home and others want advice about the same place. Or when you are pining for your travelling adventure, your diary will help you to recreate and remember the magic for years to come.

 

Article by Lauren Probert

Treat Your Father this year with an adventure

Put a smile on dad’s face on June 19 with a Father’s Day treat to remember, such as a trip to his favourite sporting occasion or an activity-packed holiday abroad.

SPORTING EVENTS

European F1 Grand Prix
– Flanked with beautiful beaches, the European F1 Grand Prix in Valencia is a great treat for fathers with a passion for fast cars. Built harbour-side to rival Monaco but with a fiesta atmosphere, cars rarely leave the waterfront and even cross over the canal on a swing bridge before passing through the historic fish market. Just a short flight from the UK, Valencia is one of Spain’s most vibrant cities with a great mix of culture and entertainment. It is even home to Spain’s most famous dish – paella. The event is a great excuse for fathers to soak up the sun whilst watching the excitement of Formula One.
– On Saturday 25th June 2011, watch the qualifying rounds at Circuit de Valencia to find out the final positions before watching the big race on Sunday 26th June. Prices start from GBP350pp including 3 nights B&B accommodation at the 3* Expo Hotel, Valencia (24th – 27th June 2011). Weekend Grand Prix tickets are available from GBP205pp. Flights are available on request. Sport Abroad (08456 803086 / http://www.sportabroad.co.uk).

Wimbledon 2011
– Treat fathers to a VIP day out at the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Enjoy the ‘magic’ of The Championships with all the traditions – strawberries and cream, crisp white clothing, lush green courts and world-class tennis. Sportsworld’s No.1 Court Experience includes excellent seats on No. 1 Court and relaxed, informal dining in Sportsworld’s Champions Lounge.
– Prices start from GBP395pp (plus VAT) including morning coffee, three-course buffet lunch, complimentary bar (beer, wines, Pimms and soft drinks), traditional afternoon tea and a car park pass (one per four guests). This package is available for private tables of two or more. Sportsworld (01235 555844 / http://www.sportsworld.co.uk).

Royal Ascot
– For horse racing fanatics, or those that just enjoy the occasional flutter, a luxury day at Royal Ascot (14th – 18th June 2011) is something fathers are sure to appreciate. Few sporting venues have the heritage and history of Ascot, which has been firmly in the British social calendar for almost 250 years. Champagne flows, the sun shines gloriously, bets are placed and emotions run high giving dads a day out full of atmosphere.
– Events International’s Platinum Package costs from GBP299pp and provides access to the Platinum Suite hospitality marquee located on the inside of the course, opposite the main grandstand, with a viewing gallery overlooking the winning post. The package also includes general admission tickets, morning coffee and biscuits, a Pimms reception, a complimentary bar, four course lunch with wine, afternoon tea, Tote betting facilities and car park passes (1 per 4 guests). Events International (01432 263263 / http://www.eventsinternational.co.uk).

Henley Royal Regatta
– For fathers with an interest in rowing, Sportsworld offers hospitality packages to Henley Royal Regatta, a typically English event on a beautiful stretch of the River Thames. In the picturesque surroundings of the Oxfordshire countryside, the Regatta (29th June – 3rd July 2011) is one of the highlights of British summer.
– The Sportsworld packages costs from GBP190pp (plus VAT) and includes access to The Riverside Enclosure which is based at the start of the course with great views of the action. Also included is access to a private garden area, morning coffee and patisserie, a champagne & Pimms reception, four course lunch with wine, a complimentary bar, traditional afternoon tea, entertainment from a jazz band and magician and car parking (1 per 2 guests). Sportsworld (01235 555844 / http://www.sportsworld.co.uk).

ACTIVE HOLIDAYS

Bridge family gaps on the River Kwai
– Fathers can try their hand at bamboo rafting, elephant riding and spend a night in a hill tribe village hut on this 10-day adventure in Thailand. If he’s a fan of the film, he will appreciate the visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai which is accompanied by a wander through the World War II cemetery and museum in Kanchanaburi. The tour finishes in Bangkok where he will get the chance to explore all the delights this city has to offer, including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho or the Emerald Buddha.
– The Siam Encounter, departing on 18th June, costs GBP445pp land only including transport (elephant, bus, boat, overnight train, taxi & tuk-tuk), accommodation (2 nights train, 1 night village hut, 4 nights guesthouse & 2 nights hotel), some meals (3 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 1 dinner) and an experienced local group leader. Imaginative Traveller (0845 077 8803 / http://www.imaginative-traveller.co.uk).

Cycle the bridges and canals of Italy
– Best known as being the gastronomic capital of Italy, Emilia Romagna also offers fathers some of the gentlest cycling in the country. Travelling through hidden hamlets, forgotten farming villages and pretty riverbanks, this is the perfect choice for dads who are more used to four wheels than two. This new independent hotel-to-hotel cycling holiday explores the eastern part of Italy, where the gold-sand beaches of the Adriatic stand alongside undiscovered art cities like historic Ravenna and Ferrara, Italy’s ‘cycling capital’. Staying in quality family-run hotels and an agriturismo, all offering superb cuisine, another highlight is 2 nights in gorgeous Comachio, a postcard-pretty lagoon town criss-crossed by a series of canals and bridges.
– The Cycling in Emilia Romagna tour, departing 18th June, costs GBP1237pp including flights and transfers, half board accommodation, luggage transfer, bicycles, route notes, a regional information booklet and local map kit. Headwater (01606 720199 / http://www.headwater.com).

Exchange the Sunday roast for a Turkey adventure
– This activity-packed trip takes in many of Turkey’s lesser known highlights, from the famous Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, incredible Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus and the humbling battlefields of Gallipoli to the surreal fairy chimneys of Cappadocia and the natural wonders of Pamukkale. This 10-day trip will provide dads with an intoxicating mix of sights, experiences, beauty and history.
– The Turkey Adventure tour, departing on 18th June, costs GBP475pp land only including transport (overnight train, ferry & bus), B&B accommodation (1 night train & 8 nights hotel) and an experienced local group leader. Flights start from GBP199pp. Imaginative Traveller (0845 077 8803 / http://www.imaginative-traveller.co.uk).

Pick the Picos de Europa for protected wildlife
? This 8-day trip offers active dads the chance to explore Europe’s largest national park, the Picos de Europa – an area of dramatic beauty and home to many protected species and birdlife. The area still remains one of the truly unspoilt places in Spain that few visitors have discovered and boasts a spectacular range of limestone peaks, ridges and deep valleys. The high ground is a ‘moonscape’ of dramatic rocky terrain, almost devoid of vegetation, while the lower valleys are full of beautiful wildflowers in the spring. On the free day, fathers who prefer not to relax at the family-run hotel have a range of exhilarating activities to choose from, such as caving, canyoning or canoeing.
? The Picos de Europa walking holiday, departing on 18th June, costs GBP758pp including flights, 7 nights hotel accommodation, transport (minibus, bike & horse), most meals (7 breakfasts, 5 lunches & 5 dinners) and an experienced group leader. The Adventure Company (0845 287 1198 / http://www.adventurecompany.co.uk).

Take to the trails of the Italian Dolomites
– The new 8-day scenic walking holiday explores the majestic Alta Pusteria Valley to the region’s north. For fathers who like walking, this region provides a paradise of well-marked trails (thousands of kilometres accessed by local cable cars). The superb walking on this single centre holiday is matched by deluxe rooms and wonderful local cuisine in four-star family-run hotel. The area is renowned for its 3000m jagged peaks of heavily eroded limestone which are recognised by UNESCO as one of the most unique and spectacular mountain environments in the world.
– The Walking in the Italian Dolomites trip, departing on 18th June, costs GBP964pp including flights, half board accommodation, route notes, map kit and a local representative. Headwater (01606 720199 / http://www.headwater.com).

Walk on deserted forest tracks in North Cyprus
– This 8-day trip offers fathers a great opportunity to explore possibly the Mediterranean’s best kept secret – North Cyprus. Based in the picturesque coastal town of Kyrenia, he will walk on deserted forest tracks used only by farmers and heavy with the scent of wild flowers, enjoying stunning mountain views and dramatic coastal scenery along the way. Like most of its Mediterranean neighbours, Cyprus has witnessed many invaders over the years and consequently has many castles to explore, including the dramatic ruins of St Hilarion’s Castle and the 14th Century Crusader abbey of Bellapais. Dazzling beaches all add to the unique charm of the island.
– The Kyrenia Trails trip, departing on 18th June, costs GBP729pp including flights, 7 nights hotel accommodation, some meals (7 breakfasts & 5 lunches), transport (minibus) and a local group leader. The Adventure Company (0845 287 1198 / http://www.adventurecompany.co.uk).

Have an adventure… not a holiday

Looking for something out of the ordinary? Bored of lying next to a pool, maybe swimming with sharks takes your fancy, or white water rafting in Nepal?

Then the first place you should visit is new search engine: www.pocketvillage.com. This brilliant website offers thousands of intriguing options for your next trip away, for unusual tours, activities and places to stay offered trough other adventure travel provider’s.

One of the best parts of this website is the ‘inspire me’ section, click on this and you can add you preferences to the sort of location you want and the activities you would like, cleverly there is also the option to include your daily budget – the result is list of highly relevant destinations.

Click on ‘what’ and your given a comprehensive list of every activity you could think of, click the one you want and you’ll be directed to the best places in the world for your specific activity.

Click ‘where’ and you can chose your destination of choice, options also allow you to limit options by country, duration and budget.

The variety of activities and tours is huge. For example check out Finland and you”ll be presented with thirty three suggestions, including an arctic adventure suitable for the whole family, a sports activity holiday or a rip to Lapland to meet Santa.

There are a couple of flaws however, at present is that prices are shown in euro’s, not pounds, and don’t expect to be able to narrow down your geographical location to much, for example you can’t search for Scotland, under UK.

Seeing Northern Lights Top’s Holiday Wish-List

Many employees will see the start of the new holiday year this month and will start thinking about getting away for well needed holiday. A recent survey undertaken by travel specialist, The Adventure Company, has revealed that the enigmatic Aurora Borealis is the leading light when it comes to the holiday experience wish-list.

Survey results have shown that from 8000 UK travellers, the Northern Lights topped the league of iconic sights that Brits would most like to experience over the coming year with 16% of votes. Only narrowly beating Machu Picchu (15.7%) – which this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of being ‘discovered’ by Hiram Bingham – to the ‘must-see’ post.

Explaining the rising popularity of this natural phenomenon Claire Wilson, MD of The Adventure Company, said: “It seems that recent shows such as the BBC’s ‘Wonders of the Solar System’ and Joanna Lumley’s own Northern Lights experiences have really inspired us Brits to look up for holiday inspiration. Coupled with natural displays such as a partial eclipse of the sun and a meteor shower being visible in a few fortunate corners of the UK over the last few months along with last month’s super moon, it looks like the UK’s fascination with ‘star-gazing’ on their travels may finally be moving away from C-list celebrities.”

In third position, with 8.6% of responses, was Nepal’s mighty Himalaya. No longer simply the domain of hardened mountaineers or travellers on the hippy trail, the region has become more accessible through increased flights while The Adventure Company has experienced a 60% increase in demand for holidays to the Himalayan Kingdom over the last four years. And with 2011 having been declared the year of tourism Nepal, it seems that the country¡¦s appeal to those new to adventure and seasoned travellers alike will continue to flourish.

Wildlife-rich destinations such as The Galapagos (8.2%), The Amazon (4%) and The Rainforest (3.6%), meanwhile, were left further down the list, in fourth, eighth and tenth place respectively.
However, perhaps indicating that animals have become as much of a reason to travel as the destination itself, tigers proved triumphant with a quarter of holidaymakers (23.2%) voting the endangered species the animal they would most like to see in their natural environment. With Tigers teetering on the edge of extinction and the chance of sighting one front of mind for many of those travelling to India, it can only be hoped that continued visitors will help increase awareness of the issues facing this majestic creature.

Gorillas were next on the animal agenda, with 12.1% of those questioned choosing them as the animal they’d most like to see on a wildlife holiday, followed by the Giant Panda which drew 10.6% of votes.

With a new generation of intrepid TV presenters inspiring would-be explorers of all ages to be more adventurous with their holidays, it seems there¡¦s still a long way to journey before travel stalwart Michael Palin is ousted from the nation’s heart. Over a third of those polled (37.5%) chose Palin as the TV adventurer they’d most like to travel with, leaving Ray Mears (13.5%) and Ranulph Fiennes (12.7%) in his shadow.

And it¡¦s not just adults who are increasingly drawn to exploring further afield, with the results indicating that families are increasingly adding adventure to their ‘holiday homework’. When parents were asked which corners of the world they would most like to take their children on holiday to, India’s combination of wildlife, culture and stunning landscapes ensured it topped the list for a fifth of families (20.9%). East & South Africa came second (17.7%) and Latin America third (14.3%), while Europe was left in sixth place, having attracted just 11.3% of votes.

Wilson added: “TV coverage over the last few years has certainly helped make adventurous escapes and active breaks seem more accessible. While it’s an accepted truth that travel broadens the mind, age shouldn’t be a barrier to travel. It¡¦s therefore especially encouraging to see more and more parents taking advantage of the school holidays to swap deckchairs for backpacks and, supporting this trend, The Adventure Company has seen a 49% growth in family adventure holidays over the last five years.”

Visit France for a family holiday to suit everyone

The problem has always been balancing what each family member wants; what if there were holidays with enough variety to suit all tastes?

Alpine family adventure holidays can provide just such a wide range of activities, with something for every one!

The French Alps make the ideal location for many family adventure holidays because they have the best of almost every summer holiday, even sunbathing! Superb scenery, the cleanest of air, bright sunshine, and a warm welcome.

With typical flair, the French have realised that they have the ingredients for the perfect summer family adventure holiday cocktail. From Mountain Biking to White Water Rafting, Ice Skating to Hang Gliding, Hill Walking to Ice Climbing, they really do seem to have all bases covered. If you are the kind that would prefer to sit by the water, reading a book and taking in the rays, fear not. With fresh water lakes, swimming pools and a marvellous sun record, you can be busy doing nothing whilst the others are hurling them selves down water falls, abseiling into gorges, negotiating rapids, all in the name of another activity: ‘Canyoning’.

Adding to the ease of this holiday experience is the French alpine resorts have some of the very best infrastructure. Their winter hotels and chalets are just as ‘chocolate box’ in the summer as they are during the skis season. The lift system, capable of whisking thousands of skiers up the mountains and above the pistes, can be adapted to carry mountain bikes. Morzine and Les Gets open twenty five lifts in the summer, more than anywhere else, giving access to areas that would have required overnight stays in mountain refuges.

For a family adventure holiday with a difference, look no further than the French Alps.