Due to the recent unprecedented pandemic of 2020, new phrases have entered the lexicon, phrases such as ‘social distancing’, ‘flatten the curve’ and ‘self-isolation; with these new terms has come a new way of living. Gone are the days of easy free movement and long-haul travel. Individuals across the globe are now being encouraged to stay indoors and only venture out when necessary and, when they do, stay at least two metres apart. Undoubtedly, these measures have had a hugely negative impact on the hospitality industry and led many to change or completely cancel their travel plans. Here we take a look at what to do about your travel plans and how holidays will change in the coming months.
Due to the shutdown of most major tourist destinations, people have been scrambling to cancel their flights and accommodation. The good news is that since this is an unprecedented, worldwide problem many companies are taking a more lenient stance and allowing holidaymakers to either cancel or move their bookings. Alternatively, check with your travel insurance provider and see if they will cover you for any last-minute cancellations – most insurers will at least cover the cost of your flights.
Booking Through Travel Agents
Online travel agents act as the middleman between hotels/airlines and the customer, making it a bit more complicated to know what you are entitled to changing and what you can’t. Contact your travel agent first and see if they are willing to help and see if they have issued any guidelines on the matter within the last week or so. If the travel agent is unable to offer answers, contact your accommodation provider and airline directly and see if they will offer a refund or, if not, are willing to move your travel dates to another time.
Booking with AirBnB
Recently AirBnB updated its cancellation policy due to recent events; guests can cancel any booking made for dates between March 14<sup>th</sup> and April 14<sup>th</sup> and will be entitled to a full refund; hosts are also now allowed to cancel on guests who have booked during this period without it negatively impacting their rating.
Looking to Plan Travel?
Currently it is advised that no one makes any travel plans for at least the next month. The course of this pandemic is still uncertain, and the length of time countries will need to spend in lockdown is unknown. However, it is possible that in a few months’ time you will be able to travel again – at least within your own country. If you are planning a journey for later this year, make sure you check government guidelines on this and take out insurance to make sure you are covered in the event it is cancelled.
How to Stay Safe
Whether you are staying home, in lockdown or enjoying the luxury of being able to travel, remember to stay safe and look after your health. While coronavirus is an issue, respect rules around social distancing, wash hands thoroughly and regularly, and if you are sick, stay indoors. It is likely Coronavirus will come in waves, so if we all manage to our bit we should be able to keep it at bay and ‘flatten the curve’.
Location: North East Scotland
The north east of Scotland is one of the most beautiful and green areas in the world. In the north east you will find Scotland’s third largest city Aberdeen, but you will also find some of the lesser known but equally great Scottish towns and villages. Here we have compiled a list of some of the best small towns and villages to visit this 2020:
Stonehaven, one of the prettiest harbour towns in Aberdeenshire, is best-known for its Hogmanay fireball festival and its proximity to Dunnottar Castle; Dunnottar Castle, which in part inspired the Disney-Pixar movie Brave, is a ruined fortress which sits atop a cliff overlooking the North Sea. The castle has seen many a famous face from history, including William Wallace and Mary, Queen of Scots, pass through its corridors. Other great things to do in the Stonehaven area include a walk by the harbour, a trip to the Tolbooth Museum and birdwatching at the incredible RSPB Fowlsheugh reserve.
Famous for its close ties to the Royal Family, Ballater acts as the gateway to the Cairngorms National Park – the largest national park in the UK. Head to the cairngorms to experience the best of Scottish nature and landscapes – during the winter months there are even the options to skiing and snowboarding! Also near to Ballater, and the main reason for its strong royal connections, is Balmoral Castle. The castle was purchased by Prince Albert in the 19<sup>th</sup> century for his wife Queen Victoria and has remained in the possession of the Royal Family ever since. Visitors can explore the grounds of Balmoral Castle between May and Jul, after which time the Queen arrives for her annual visit.
The village of Strichen, between New Deer and Fraserburgh, dates back almost 4,000 years and is made up of a mix of beautiful cottages and detached homes. This picturesque village is a great place to go for stunning walks in the bucolic countryside where you can be lucky enough to spot some of the local wildlife. The area also a few great restaurants which sell typical local food, so be sure to take you and your loved ones for a meal out when nearby.
The small coastal village of St Cyrus is located between Aberdeen and Dundee, in the south of Aberdeenshire. The village is perhaps best known for its stunning sandy beach which is now part of the St Cyrus National Nature Reserve. The beach is over 3 miles long and is surrounded by impressive towering cliffs.
Only about 30 minutes’ drive from Ballater, another entry on this list, is the town Braemar. The beautiful town of Braemar, surrounded by mountains, is also perfect for exploring the Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park. The town is also famed for its annual Highland Games known as the Braemar Gathering, which often attracts members of the Royal Family. All this not enough? The area is also where you will find Braemar Castle which is open to visitors during the summer months, beginning at the start of April.
Although the UK isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind when thinking of beach resorts, it does have many great beaches to choose from thanks to the fact it is an island nation. The sunny weather might not always be reliable in the UK, but this doesn’t mean the country’s long stretches of golden sand aren’t worth exploring. Here we have put together a list of just a few of the best beach resorts the UK has to offer.
Cornwall, the south-westerly tip of the UK, can boast of many idyllic beach locations, including Porthcurno. Porthcurno is an area of incredible natural beauty and as a result has won many an award. During the quieter winter months this is a great place to go for a blustery walk with the dog and just enjoy the beauty of nature; in the summer months, between May 1<sup>st</sup> and September 30<sup>th</sup>, there is a dog ban to allow visitors and tourists to enjoy the area without disruption. The beach is made up of fine white sand surrounded by waters which glow a beautiful turquoise in the sunlight.
Tankerton Beach, Kent
Tankerton beach in Kent is made up of rolling grassy hillside and a long pebble promenade. The area was designed in the 19<sup>th</sup> century as the arrival of the train network brought an influx of holidaymakers; the nearby town of Whitstable – just 20 minutes away – remains one of the busiest seaside towns. Along the beach you will find an array of colourful beach huts which are highly sought after and are a great place to go to unwind and watch the world go by. It’s important to note, if you’re holidaying with your dog, that the beach is dog-free zone during the summer months from May to September.
Bournemouth Beach, Dorset
The vibrant town of Bournemouth boasts of over 7 miles of sandy beaches – which are a popular attraction with visitors from all over the world! The beach can be easily accessed by Cliff Lifts which will transport you down to the beach. One of the biggest attractions in the area is Bournemouth Pier, a great location for couples and families alike. Here you will find arcades, restaurants, cafes and even a zip wire for those looking for a little more adventure. The town of Bournemouth is also packed with things to do such as the Aquarium and the Victorian Gardens, which are the perfect place to relax on a warm summer’s day; in fact, Bournemouth has over 2,000 acres of green spaces.
Blackpool Beach, Lancashire
As one of the most famous beach resorts in the UK, Blackpool beach attracts thousands of visitors every year. The beautiful sandy beach not only boasts of three piers – the only beach to do so in the UK – it also won the much coveted eco Blue Flag award. Along the beach you will find several great attractions for the whole family including the much-loved theme park Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Sea Life Blackpool, Blackpool Tower and Madame Taussauds. An added bonus of visiting this colourful seaside town with the whole family is it is also very affordable with plenty of accommodation choices on offer.
Location: England, UK
There are few cities more beautiful and more historic than the likes of Chester, York and Bath in England. These cities, popular with tourists for good reason, have lots to offer in the way of history, culture and bars and restaurants. Here we look at some of the best places to visit in this impressive country:
The ancient city of Chester is famous for its tall Tudor-style buildings, its 1000-year-old cathedral and impressive city walls. Whether you are with your family or your friends, this city will have something for you. If you want to get a quick tour of the city then you can take a trip on one of the open-top buses or take a tour down the River Dee which runs by the city. While in Chester, make sure to check out the cathedral, one of the most impressive examples of medieval architecture, as well as the half-timbered Tudor houses along the Rows.
There are few places more iconic than the capital city, London, with so many famous landmarks to see and historic museums to explore. Must-see parts of the city include Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street – home to the country’s prime minister, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Natural History Museum. If you are limited on time, a guided bus tour or trip along the Thames are a couple of the quickest and best ways to see the city.
The medieval city of York is literally bursting at the seams with history. Known for its historic walls, York Minster, cobblestone streets … here you will uncover history at almost every turn. To get a feel for the city, why not take a walk around the medieval city walls which will take you around 2 and a half hours. From here, head over to York Minster which is one of the largest cathedrals in northern Europe; a trip inside the cathedral can, if you’re feeling fit enough, involve a walk up the 275 steps to York’s highest viewpoint.
The city of Carlisle in the north west of England was once a Roman settlement created to serve the forts on Hadrian’s Wall. Over the years Carlisle remained important for military defence due to its proximity to Scotland which, at the time, was independent from England. Today, a visit to Carlisle should include a tour of the Castle built in 1112 and Carlisle Cathedral which was founded in 1133. To top it all off, why not stay at the Hallmark Carlisle hotel which has its own royal history and impressive architecture.
The Roman city of Bath, Somerset, famed for its Roman baths, is another to add to the must-see list when exploring historic cities in England. Bath is also known for its stylish Georgia architecture seen at The Circus, Royal Crescent and the Assembly Rooms. While here you’ll also want to take a trip to Pulteney Bridge, an icon of Bath, as well as Prior Park where you will find Palladian Bridge. After all that walking about, in need of something to eat? Head over to The Pump Room for an elegant afternoon spent over tea and scones.
Location: Edinbrugh, UK
It might seem that this year has been flying past us quickly. Now that Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night are behind us, Christmas is just coming up on the horizon. This time of year can feel a bit manic as it seems the Christmas decorations and adverts appear in the shops a little bit earlier each year. Some places deal well with the festive season and others where it feels a little tagged on.
One city that gets right into the Yuletide spirit is Edinburgh. The Scottish capital is no stranger to big events. From the annual international festival to Hogmanay (more on that later), Edinburgh is a city that knows how to transform itself with the seasons. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of Auld Reekie this Christmas.
Many towns across the UK adopt some kind of a German-style Christmas market over December, but few places do it as well as Edinburgh. The set up here is arguably as good as what you could find over on the continent as many authentic German vendors come to sell their seasonal wares with food drink and home-made crafts on offer. If you take a trip down Princes Street from mid-November, you’ll find a mini carnival set up in the groun.... Its well worth a visit to absorb the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas.
If you happen to be in town on the 17th of September, you should get along to the big Christmas lights switch-on. The event takes places on the Royal Mile from 3:30 pm and is expected to pull in a crowd of some 20,000 people. Radio Forth is hosting the switch-on, and there will be music and a fly-in from Santa Claus himself. Even if youre not lucky enough to make it along, the Royal Mile looks great with the lights on and is worth a visit during December.
There is a broad range of events scheduled over the course of the month to suit every type of night, from traditional pantomimes to shows and concerts. If youre interested in the former, be sure to have a look at the website for the Kings Theatre. This Christmas, a production of Goldilocks great fun for all the family! If you do your research, youll find that there are loads of other smaller events taking place across the city, including food festivals, ballet and live music.
Food and Drink
For people travelling a distance into the city to have a Christmassy night or weekend, you want to be able to enjoy some great food and drink in festive surroundings as a means of unwinding. While Edinburgh has no shortage of great restaurants and eateries, youd be hard-pressed to find a better restaurant than the bistro in the Edinburgh Hotel du Vin. The city centre hotel offers everything from a seasonal Christmas menu to exceptional breakfasts. Just make sure you pre-book because its a popular spot!
Nowhere in the UK through a New Years party quite like Edinburgh. Hogmanay is a big deal for the Scots and Edinburgh becomes the centre of the universe when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st This year is no less spectacular with a number of bands and DJs playing the annual street party along with other smaller events. Check out the website to see if theres something that suits you!