The holiday I want Santa to put in my stocking

My networking question for the week was “If Santa put a holiday in your stocking where would you want to go and who with?”

All of my networking group actually wanted to be with their families and friends which is all good news!

Ambitions varied from France to Round the World and the point of the exercise is firstly that I can help with just about anything, secondly that I love to create dreams and thirdly it may not cost as much as you think s there may be ways of thinking outside the box.

The Cuisine tour of France. Wherever you go in France you don’t have to go far to find some delicious food and wine. A few ideas would be using the Eurostar direct to Avignon, or fly to Bordeaux and self drive to the local vineyards or take one of the many day tours that are offered either in advance or locally or a short seine river cruise with Avalon including their Taste of Normandy tour.

Venice can be a very expensive trip if you want to stay in a hotel overlooking the Grand Canal in peak season, but there are other ways of economising. I recently organised apartments in Venice for my clients right in the centre of Venice Island. This was hundreds of pounds cheaper than staying in a hotel in a similar location, using Easyjet and using the public vaporetto from the airport is considerably cheaper than organising a private transfer. Travelling midweek can not only make it cheaper too but you can also avoid some of the weekend crowds

Another two Italy requests, one for Amalfi Coast. The most economical place to stay along the Amalfi coast is Sorrento and it also has the advantage of being a year round destination with a range of accommodation from basic apartments to 5* de luxe and there are several ways of getting from Naples airport to Sorrento. The further away that you get from Naples airport, the more expensive and exclusive the accommodation but also the cost of taxi transportation is very high. The other alternative is self drive but the average cost of parking is around 25 euros a night.

Another wanted to self drive around Southern Italy and this is a great idea but again factoring in parking costs can add a lot to the holiday, so looking at apartments or villas without a private pool to use as a base or staying away from the main cities in country residences can be lovely way to admire the countryside, meet local people and eat some authentic Italian cuisine. It is also worth looking at May or September for still pleasant weather with less crowds

Menorca with friends – depending how many friends it can often be cheaper to hire a villa and a minibus and avoid school holidays. June can be a lovely time to visit with some real bargains and there are many low cost flight options too.

Iceland with the family. Iceland is in huge demand at the moment with both summer and winter reporting record sales. It has so much to offer, wildlife, northern lights, volcanic activity, boat trips, whale watching. There are buses in Iceland but the best way to get around is to hire a car to get to other parts of Iceland outside Reykjavik

Slightly further afield is Egypt into the desert. Although possible, there can be security issues with this, so it is strongly advised to join a tour group and certainly at the moment I would suggest either Jordan, Israel, UAE or Oman as safe alternatives with a real authentic desert experience.

The rest had more ambitious ideas. Maldives is that get away from it all experience and although there are some “value” options it is not a cheap destination. There are no longer any charter flights and the limited choice of flights fill up fast but it might be worth considering indirect flights with Qatar or Emirates to reduce the cost, also considering a twin centre with less nights in Maldives can be an option that will reduce the cost.

Two people separately chose Hawaii. I would strongly suggest visiting more than one island as they are so different in character. One way to see them is to take a 7 night cruise on Pride of America. This is the only ship that is licensed to base in Hawaii and not only does it save several days crossing the Pacific but it is also a fraction of the cost of cruises that sail from San Francisco or Los Angeles. Hawaii is a very long flight so I would advise a stopover of at least one night in one of the American cities to break up the long flight and adjust to huge time difference. Flights to Hawaii can be very expensive in the summer so it is worth looking for seat sales with United or American Airlines from time to time. Hawaii is a year round destination so its best to avoid the peak summer, Christmas and Easter to get the best possible fares.

Peru is an absolutely stunning destination with lovely friendly people. Although accommodation is reasonably priced, it isn’t that easy to get around independently and also if you have any sort of breathing difficulties like asthma, altitude sickness can be a problem and therefore it is strongly advised to stay in Lima for a day or two just to adjust to altitude as well as jetlag. Lima  can be very daunting at first as it is a vast and busy city with lots of traffic so it is good idea to have a guided tour booked to get the best from it. Ideally you should be physically fit to get the best from a trip to Peru but it is something to do once in your life, ideally in your thirties.

Japan is another amazing destination but probably difficult for a family. Rooms all over Japan are tiny so getting family rooms is a huge challenge. Japan has the advantage of a fast and efficient rail network so it is really easy to get from A to B with a Japan Rail Pass

A Caribbean cruise. What advice would I give on this? To get the very best from a Caribbean cruise, choose one that starts and finishes in the Caribbean itself. Most cruises start from Miami and these do tend to be cheaper as there are so many of them but starting from the Caribbean means seeing more of the Southern Caribbean and some more authentic islands. There are some good bargains at the tail end of the hurricane season from September to November.

Montana and Yellowstone scooter holiday, what a lovely idea! I went to a promotion recently and Montana looks so scenic. Flights would be indirect and it is worth looking at seat sales and also avoiding the peak summer months. There should be some decent bargains around in May or June and maybe early October. May can still be quite chilly but June should be quite warm and pleasant.

Ecuador is the gateway to Galapagos, however there is a fair amount of crime in Ecuador so an alternative to consider as a gateway is Chile which in itself is a diverse and interesting country and it is still easy to get to Galapagos. Most Galapagos cruises are about a week long and sea sickness can be an issue as boats are small and it is the Atlantic but something to do once in a lifetime certainly.

And finally The World Tour – wow!! Of course you could plan a round the world flight and call on some kindly friends and relatives. These days it is often less expensive to do one trip to Asia and Australasia and another trip heading west to the Americas as round the world fares don’t work as well as they did 10 years ago but failing that, a round the world cruise would be an option to consider as you only need to unpack once and you have all your meals included so if you break it down per day it is actually really good value and you really do get to see parts of the world that are difficult to get to.



One response

  1. And I’d like it to be India, based in Bombay where I lived for the first seven plus years of my life, with my childhood friend Christo so we could visit all our favourite haunts including the block of flats on Malabar Hill where we lived and to Juhu and Marve. I’d like a trip to Mahabaleshwar, too. Then I’d like my friend Ruth, who lives near Sydney, to join me first in Bombay before we set off on a wandering route through India in various directions including, for me, to the Taj Mahal. Sadly, it has to be a fantasy but one day …

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