Staying Safe As A Single Woman Travelling Alone

It’s great to be an Australian woman in the 21st century. OK, so the system may not be perfect but we’ve got a lot of rights and freedoms that we didn’t have 100 years ago. One of these freedoms is the ability to travel overseas whenever and wherever we want to (budget and time off work permitting, of course!). Add in the ease of air travel to any part of the globe that takes our fancy and the world is more or less at our doorsteps.

However, the world isn’t perfect and some people are still stuck in a mindset that says that a woman travelling on her own is fair game and asking for it – or at least that she’s an easy target for robbery and fraud.  Sad to say, this mindset is found in some Australians, but it seems to be even more common in some countries overseas.

It galls me a bit to have to write an article telling adventurous women how to stay safe when they’re off on their travels – when it comes down to it, it should be the responsibility of those who want to mug, rape or defraud us to stop doing it.  However, given that the world is what it is, here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your overseas trip wherever you go.

  • Don’t be an idiot.  This means that wearing headphones while walking in a dimly lit street at night is a dumb idea, as is getting hopelessly drunk in the company of total strangers, or accepting lifts to your hotel from seemingly friendly guys.  And all that stuff about keeping an eye on your drink, etc. Basic, commonsense stuff that you’d do here back home.
  • Don’t travel alone.  I’m not trying to be a killjoy here, but if you’ve got someone to watch your back, you’ll be a lot safer.  What’s more, a trip can be a lot more fun when you’ve got a friend to share all the experiences with.  If you can’t find a friend to travel with, then try advertising or asking around to find a woman who’s going where you’re going.  You might end up making a great new friend.
  • Swot up on the local customs as much as possible to avoid giving a guy the impression that his attentions are welcome.  For example, while looking a passer-by in the eye and giving him a friendly smile is merely polite in Melbourne, the same thing would be taken as a come-on in Madrid .
  • Be sensitive in how you dress.  Yes, you might think that the way women dress in, say, Egypt , is barbaric but still be sensitive and don’t go making a point with short skirts and daring sleeveless tops.  Think how you’d feel and react if a tribesman from Papua New Guinea walked around a Sydney shopping mall in his traditional loincloth and penis sheath.  That’s how some of the locals may feel if you go walking around in skin-baring Western clothes.
  • Wear a fake wedding ring (top tip from a woman from a volunteer aid agency) and possibly invent a fake husband (a photo of your brother, boss or co-worker, or maybe a cutout from the front of a romance novel in your wallet helps).  If a guy tries to chat you up, mention that you’re waiting for your husband (nice and ambiguous – you may well be waiting for Mr Right, so you’re not lying).

 

Travel Tips For Families Part 2

Once you’ve decided where you are going to fly to with your family, another side of the business becomes apparent.  When you travel with children of any age, there’s more than just the destination to be considered. You also have to think about the process of travelling itself.  Children on a plane can be a nightmare for you, themselves and other people, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  In many cases, you’ve got the process of airport security to get through, as well.

So how do you make the process of actually travelling with children easier?

  • Book your flights at the right time.  If your journey is likely to involve a long-haul flight, then try to time it so that your kids will sleep through most of it.
  • Leave the stroller or pram at home.  You probably won’t be able to take them on board the plane and you can often hire them at your destination.
  • Be prepared for any motion discomfort.  Depending on whether or not you’ve booked with a low-cost carrier, you may or may not get offered hard sweets to suck to deal with pressure changes.  Pack your own supply of barley sugars just in case.  Ginger is a natural remedy for travel nausea, so give your children gingernut cookies in the departure lounge; ginger ale also works but you will end up with sugar-hyped kids on board the plane.
  • Talk about the process of going through the airport and the flight beforehand to build a sense of anticipation and to familiarise your children with what to expect.
  • Pack a few familiar comforts.  Travel may be exciting but it can also be stressful.  Pack that favourite teddy in the cabin baggage and maybe take a few favourite storybooks.  To prevent Mr Ted being lost in an airport, attach one end of a ribbon securely to Mr Ted and the other to Mr Ted’s owner.
  • Devices with headphones are sanity savers.  Even on a medium length flight, there is a lot of time to be filled in.  If your child is old enough to be entertained by talking books, games on tablets or the like, pack your gadgets (and the charger) in the cabin baggage.
  • If you have a lot of bags to collect from the baggage carousel, attach a bit of distinctive patterned material to each one (they should all have the same material – if necessary, cut up an op-shop garment to make sure you have enough). Keep a piece of the material in your pocket and get the kids to spot the bags with “your” fabric on.
  • Kids will have to sit still (or mostly still) for a long time in the plane, so let them run about a bit in the departure lounge.  They shouldn’t annoy other travellers by bumping into them or by yelling, but only the grumpiest old grouch is going to protest about active children in the departure lounge performing rolly-pollys across the carpet.  If anyone complains, keep your cool and ask the complainer if they’d prefer the children running about in the lounge or in the plane later on.  Many departure lounges have a thoughtful little bit of play equipment handy.
  • In the plane, children tend to kick their legs.  Remove their shoes so they don’t spend a flight from Sydney to Phuket booting the person in front in the kidneys.

Where Do I Find Advice About International Travel?

Every so often on the news, you hear reporters saying that “travel advisories recommend that…” or something similar. This usually lets you know that this country is probably not the best place to choose for your next overseas holiday. However, if the news hadn’t mentioned this fact, would you know that it wasn’t safe to travel to that country?  What does travel advice mean, anyway? And where do you find out about this advice, anyway?

The place to go for advice for Australians is the “Smart Traveller” website put out by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This lets you know all the latest warnings and advice out there about where not to travel. You can also find heaps of advice about travel insurance – a bit of a must for all overseas travellers and especially when you have to travel to one of the countries listed in the advisories. You can find this information at http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/.

Using this site is very easy. For each country, which you can filter by region or by letter of the alphabet, you can find out whether or not the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade thinks it’s a good idea for you to go there or not.  You can stop there if you like or you can click on the country link to find out why the country was given that rating.  For example, at the time of writing, the advice for Chad is “Do not travel”, which is because there is a high risk of terrorist activity, kidnapping, crime and general unrest – something that you probably haven’t heard about on the news.  For Egypt, a popular tourist destination because of all the historical sites, the advice is “Reconsider your need for travel” because of the political unrest in the area, especially towards the north of the country.  In other words, maybe you might want to wait a bit before ticking “visit the pyramids” off your bucket list.  For Brazil – where every soccer fan in the world who was able to travel went for the recent FIFA World Cup – the official advice is to “Exercise a high degree of caution” because they do have a bit of a violent crime problem over there, so things are a tad riskier than they are here Down Under.  For the UK and for New Zealand  (common destinations for Australian travellers), the advice is “Exercise normal travel precautions”, which means that there’s a small risk of the country being a target for terrorists (in the UK) or of an earthquake occurring (New Zealand) but on the whole, you’re as safe there are you are at home.

You also get given other basic information, such as the fact that homosexuality is against the law in India  (so you know not to make it too obvious if you’re travelling with a same-sex partner) or that there is a risk of cyclones and Dengue fever in Fiji.

You can also find out information about where to avoid if you want to steer clear of certain problems. For example, if you want to know where in the world you are most likely to be taken hostage by pirates (which isn’t as romantic and storybook as it sounds) or when you are likely to find the shops closed in predominantly Muslim countries for Ramadan, you can find this under the “Issues and Events” search section.

What if you want or need to go to a country that has a travel warning of some sort in place? The wise course of action is to be aware of the risks and take appropriate action. For example, in Brazil, you might stick to the most frequented tourist sites and keep your cash well hidden.  In Fiji, you would probably want to pack plenty of mosquito repellent. And don’t forget your travel insurance!

Family Travel Tips Part 1

The ease of international travel means that it’s now a lot easier to pop the whole family on a plane and head off into the wild blue yonder. However, international travel with children has its tricky side, as more than one parent can testify.

However, there are a number of things that a thoughtful parent can do to make sure that the whole family has a fantastic overseas holiday to remember for all of the right reasons.

First of all, think long and hard about how old your children are before you head off overseas. If you want to have a holiday of a lifetime that you will all remember, then you need to wait until your youngest child is at least five years old. Otherwise, he or she won’t really remember the trip at all. A number of youngest children who are now adults often feel like they missed out, as they’re always hearing about “that time we went to Tanzania on safari” but can’t actually remember any of the trip.  An added bonus here is that older children are easier to travel with.  This isn’t to say that international travel with younger children should be shunned altogether. You may need to move to another country for work reasons or you may want to fly back home so grandma gets to see your kids while they’re still little. But it’s best to save family holidays to exotic locations until your children are old enough to appreciate it – and remember it – properly.

Secondly, pick a destination that’s going to keep everybody happy.  This does not necessarily mean theme parks and the like – although if you’ve always hankered to visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida , then there’s no reason to hold back.  A ride on a bicycle rickshaw in Beijing, a camel ride in Egypt or a gondola trip in Venice can be just as exciting for a child as a rollercoaster.  Swimming at a good local beach or river can be just as thrilling as a hydroslide park.  So think beyond the theme parks and find something that everyone can enjoy. Even art galleries like the Louvre are a lot more family friendly these days.

You can head off the beaten track with children.  Children make a great icebreaker with the locals, especially if they’re parents, too.  If you’re heading to a place where your skin colour is out of the ordinary, then your children may be in for a lot of “isn’t she/he cute?” attention.

Thirdly, be prepared. Make sure you and your children have the necessary vaccinations and ensure that your children are old enough to know about basic hygiene in less developed countries – things like not drinking the water, washing hands very thoroughly before eating and after using the loo, and not shoving interesting but dubious items into your mouth. Trying to find a doctor for your sick child when you don’t speak the local language is a real hassle, so take plenty of precautions.

Picking The Right Suitcase

Are you ready to pack your bags for your overseas holiday or business trip?  No matter where you’re going or why, or whether you’re off to hike the Inca Trail in Peru , to do business in Hong Kong or to visit the relatives in New Zealand, it’s important to have the right bags.

Your suitcase is going to go through a lot while you’re flying from A to B. OK, you will have your cabin baggage with you. But your suitcase is going to be hauled off to the hold of the plane, stacked alongside heaps of other cases, possibly at the bottom of the pile, hauled out of the plane again, possibly transferred to a second plane if you have a connecting flight, and finally popped onto the baggage carousel for you to claim.

These days, there’s also concern about keeping your luggage safe so you don’t get used as an unwitting mule for drug runners.  You never know what’s going to happen after your suitcase gets its tickets and gets taken away.

So how do you pick a good suitcase for your travels? We’ve put together a few guidelines to help you.

  • Make sure that your suitcase is the right size.  It’s got to be big enough to take all the clothes that you need (really essential things should go in your cabin baggage just in case) but not so big that it encourages you to exceed your baggage limit.
  • Pick something that you can manoeuvre.  A lot of suitcases these days have wheels and/or handles to make them easier to move.
  • Pick something sturdy that can take some rough treatment.  This doesn’t necessarily mean rigid sides. Some soft-sided bags can withstand being at the bottom of the stack, while some rigid-sided things can get horribly bashed and dented.  Prod, poke, fiddle and ask questions when buying your suitcase.
  • Pick something that you can close securely.  If you have selected a tramping pack (a lot of tramping packs are durable enough to be good suitcases – and they’re a must if you are planning to do the Inca Trail) then a few padlocks in strategic places will help keep it secure.  Failing that, wrapping lots of clingfilm around the pack before you hand it in will help prevent someone tampering with your luggage.
  • Some people suggest that you should pick a suitcase that is brightly coloured so you can spot it easily on the baggage carousel. The only snag here is that everyone might do this.  An alternative method for identifying your suitcase is to tie a piece of brightly coloured or distinctive cloth to the handles – and keep an identical piece of fabric on you.
  • It’s better to have something with a minimal number of compartments or pockets rather than a spot designed for this and spot designed for that.  It’s so annoying to have compartments that are too small to fit your souvenirs or larger clothes, meaning that you have to leave those compartments empty and waste the space.  Maybe it is a good idea to have a few smaller compartments so you can keep your dirty shoes away from your underpants, or your wet towels away from everything dry. However, it can be more versatile to just get a pack or case with one big compartment, and use plastic bags to keep dirty or wet stuff separate.

 

What Do Wheelchair Travellers Need To Know?

OK, you’re not going to book yourself in for climbing mountains but there’s no reason to let a wheelchair cramp your style or your chance to see the world.  Around the world, the issue of access is becoming better known and most people cater to folk in a wheelchair, whether you need to use a wheelchair all the time or whether you are just in one temporarily thanks to an injury or surgery.

However, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind when travelling by air if you need a wheelchair.

In Australia, most of the local carriers need advance notice that you’re flying with them so they can get things ready.  This is the golden rule for wheelchair travellers: let people know well in advance that you need your wheelchair and they’ll do their best for you.

Aisle chair

You aren’t able to take your wheelchair on board the plane to your seat.  The average wheelchair is too wide for most commercial aircraft and the ones that need batteries are an in-flight hazard.  Your chair will travel as baggage but it will (or should) get a tag that lets the ground crew know they need to take it to the gate rather than the baggage claim area.  To get you onto the plane and to help you get about in the plane (e.g. to get to the loo), airlines will have an aisle seat available for you.  An aisle seat is a thin, lightweight sort of wheelchair that fits down the narrow centre aisle of a plane.  Most modern planes made after 1990 have seats with fold-up arms so you can get in and out of your seat easily.

Older planes have ridiculously tiny toilets that are impossible to get even the aisle chair into, but they do have privacy curtains and you may need help getting from the aisle chair to the loo itself.  Newer planes with wide-body design have better doors and handrails so you can get from A to B solo. It pays to ask when you book your flight about the sort of plane you’ll be travelling on just in case.

You will usually be the first onto the plane and the last off it so the flight attendants can give you their full attention.  Because you will be first on (and because, in some cases, the flight staff don’t have much experience with wheelchairs), you need to be very punctual about check in times.  Be especially punctual if you have a battery-powered chair that has an acid battery (known as a “spillable” battery).  Because the battery is a fire hazard – and wheelchair batteries are an exception to the usual safety regulations about dangerous goods – the crew will need to make sure that the chair is stored securely to minimise the risk.  In the USA , but not in Australia, the crew will remove the battery altogether and store it securely to be replaced in the chair at the end of the flight.

Because your chair is most likely to travel in the baggage hold, it’s best to get it as secure as possible.  You might like to whip off the cushion so it doesn’t come away, for example.  In some cases, you may be able to take a fold-up chair into the cabin, where it will be folded up and stored in a closet.  Your wheelchair (or any other mobility device) doesn’t usually count towards your baggage weight allowance in many cases.

To find out more about what the different airlines in Australia and neighbouring countries have in place for wheelchair users, have a look at their official information. The following links may be useful:

 

The Seven Wonders Of The Modern Architectural World

Back in Classical times, Greek travel writers and historians came up with a list of must-see constructions that would make every tourist’s jaw drop with amazement.  The original list of the seven wonders of the ancient world were (1) the lighthouse at Alexandria, (2) the Colossus of Rhodes, (3) the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (4) the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, (5) the statue of Zeus at Olympia, (6) the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and (7) the Great Pyramid of Giza. Today, only one of these great architectural wonders remains: the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt – still as popular a place to visit as it always was.

It’s probably high time to draw up a new list of must-see architectural attractions that would count at the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.  Numerous travel writers have come up with suggestions as to what this list should be.  Here’s our candidates for the Seven World Wonders of today:

  1. The Taj Mahal, Agra, India.  Like the old Mausoleum in the ancient list, this is a memorial created by love. In this case, Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal constructed after the death of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.  Even though the Taj Mahal is located in India, it has taken its architectural style from Muslim/Arabic art instead.
  2. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France.  This tower of steel is almost a symbol of Paris. To protect the famous ironwork, the tower is repainted frequently, which means that it can be given a different colour every once in a while.
  3. The Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This is currently the world’s tallest building at 828 metres high, more than double the height of the Eiffel Tower, a former holder of the title.
  4. The Great Wall of China. This is an older structure rather than a modern one, but it’s so impressive that it needs to be on the list. It was built by Emperor Jiajing and numerous others, with the aim of keeping out invaders (and possibly controlling imports travelling along the Silk Road trade route). Contrary to popular legend, it is not visible from outer space.
  5. Petra, Jordan. Another old site that didn’t make it into the original Greek list, although it was around at the time.  The most famous structure in this city carved from rock (which where Petra gets its name – petra is the Latin for “rock”) is Al Kazneh or “The Treasury”, made famous by its appearance in one of the Indiana Jones movies as being home to the Holy Grail.
  6. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. It’s amazing to think that this impressive old structure was supposedly built in only 35 years by over 300,000 people – and several thousand elephants. It’s the largest religious monument in the world, and has been sacred to the Hindus and to the Buddhists.
  7. Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru.  This was the archetypal “lost city” forgotten in its hidden valley in the Andes. The city uses a number of ingenious solutions for keeping the structures earthquake-proof – and it’s even more impressive when you think that it was built by a culture that didn’t use the wheel.

The Mystery of Flight MH370 And Why Planes Don’t Usually Get Lost

Most of our readers have probably been following the unfolding mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Some of you may be starting to worry about flying in the wake of the plane’s disappearance, especially if you have been considering visiting Southeast Asia and booking a flight with Malaysian Airlines.

Here at Cheapflights, we’d like to reassure travellers that the whole reason why this story is gathering so much attention is because it is rare.  It’s not a reflection on Malaysian Airlines any more than the Flight 447 plane that went down is a reflection of Air France – or the Lockerbie Bombing was a reflection of Pan Am. Malaysian Airlines is the national carrier of a very populous nation and services some extremely popular tourist routes (to Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore  and Hong Kong, for example), so they take safety very seriously. Just how seriously they take it can be seen in how quickly they alerted the world to the missing plane.

One of the reasons why people are asking so many questions about Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is because modern planes, which include the 777 in question, of course, are fitted with heaps of features that ought to make it easy to locate.

The most important feature of planes is the “black box” (OK, in reality the black box is actually fluoro orange to make it easy to find in the very rare instance of a plane crash). The “black box” is officially known as the flight recorder, and it is able to record everything that is said in the cockpit throughout a flight, and all the electronic goings-on within the plane and monitor the systems as they work.  The black box is able to withstand an impact of 3400 G and temperatures of up to 1000°C (you have to wonder why they don’t make the whole plane the same way).

A feature of the “black box” is the underwater locator beacon or “pinger”, which sends out ultrasonic signals every second once it gets wet (which usually only happens if a plane has gone to the bottom). The “pinger” keeps working for 30 days after being activated, and there was a recommendation that the working time should be extended to 90 days just in case. The “pinger” was crucial in finding the wreckage of Air France Flight 447. If MH370 has gone down, the pinger should still be working at the time of writing.

There are also systems that let the plane talk to the ATCs (air traffic controllers – the guys and girls in the tall tower that overlooks every airport you’ve ever seen and who give each plane taking off clearance to go).  This is known as an ACARS system (short for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) and it transmits on VHF. There is also a “transponder”, which is a device that can send and receive electronic signals to similar devices. Your mobile phone is a basic form of transponder. However, transponders in planes don’t require a human being to send the answering signal – as soon as they receive the electronic equivalent of a “hello!” from a satellite or a radar signal, they reply automatically with an encoded signal that means “hi, I’m Flight XY123.”

On the ground, the ATCs have ordinary simple radar that picks up planes nearby and they have secondary radar that sends and receives messages to transponders. Usually, this enables ATCs around the world to pick up planes anywhere. Within a radius of 240 km, pilots and ATCs can also talk to each other on the radio. It is common aviation courtesy for pilots to verbally check in with ATCs when they first enter the airspace controlled by a particular country. For example, in a flight across Europe, the pilot would probably have to say hi to a new ATC every time they entered the airspace above a new country. On a long-haul flight, it gives the pilot something to do!

All these systems should have been in place in Flight MH370. In fact, they were. Oddly enough, though, the transponder seems to have been turned off somewhere along the line, meaning that ordinary radar didn’t pick the plane up once it was 240 km out to sea.

It is a mystery and here at Flights Australia, our thoughts are with the people involved in the search, and the relatives of the passengers on board. And we’d like to reassure travellers everywhere that flying is still far safer than driving a car.

Frequent Flyer Programmes – They’re Good For You!

Frequent Flyer Programmes (FFPs) don’t seem to be a big deal if you are not into international travel in a big way – or even if you’re into intercity flights from, say Sydney to Perth. However, if you have done a bit of travel, they can be very handy indeed!

FFPs go by a number of names. They are also called “Air Miles” or “Air Points” and they’ve been around since the 1970s. Basically, they all work in the same sort of way as follows:

  1. You book a flight with a certain airline to a certain destination. Each segment of your flight (air mile) is worth a certain amount of points. The longer your flight, the more points you clock up. This means that a direct flight from Australia to Hong Kong will score you more points than a trip to New Zealand.
  2. Each time you fly with that particular airline or with its partners (airlines in the same alliance usually always allow you to cross-credit your FFP points among them), you pick up more points.
  3. You can also pick up more points by making other purchases, depending on the particular FFP you are signed up with. Some credit cards work in with FFPs.
  4. Another way you can pick up more points is by travelling in a better class than economy. A long trip flying first or business class picks up quite a few points.
  5. Once you have reached a certain number of points, you can “spend” them. You can spend them on a new flight, more or less picking up your tickets for “free”, or you can spend them on upgrades (from economy to business class, for example) or on other travel-related items (e.g. car hire). Exactly what you can spend your air miles or air points on depends on the programme in particular.

If you are part of an FFP, this is something to bear in mind when you select the best flight for your next trip. You may be able to find a cheaper flight with one particular airline but you might not select that one because there is another possibility that works with your air points. For example, if you are travelling from Australia to London and need to make a stopover in, say, Singapore before catching another plane, you might want to make sure that both legs of your flight (Sydney to Singapore and Singapore to London) are with the same airline or at least with airlines from the same alliance so you can pick up the points for your preferred FFP.

The exact rules for FFPs vary from programme to programme. Sometimes the points have an expiry date. Sometimes there is a joining fee for signing up to the FFP. Sometimes you need to make a minimum number of flights within a certain period (e.g. 18 months) to qualify. If you are not a frequent flyer then these programmes may not benefit you.

If you are a member of an FFP, then please let us know about this when working with Flights Australia so we can help you make the right purchases that work in your advantage.

The Hottest Romantic Destinations For Valentine’s Day 2014

It’s Valentine’s Day and it’s the day when we celebrate romance, so in keeping with the season, we’ve put together a list of some of the most romantic places in the world to visit.

Of course, any place in the world can be romantic, as long as it’s a place for the two of you to share together.  But a really good romantic destination either has to have some traditional associations as being a great place for lovers to be and/or it has to have a climate that promotes lots of physical intimacy (which can either mean a warm and balmy climate for watching sunsets and enjoying the moonlight, or else somewhere chilly where you can snuggle up all cosy beside a roaring log fire).

If you’re looking for some inspiration for a honeymoon destination (or just a romantic getaway) and a chance to pick up some cheap flights, here’s our hottest picks for this year:

  • Hawaii:  it’s got surfing, it’s got lovely beaches, it’s got a balmy climate with glorious sunsets, it’s got phosphorescent and bioluminescent animals lighting up the waves at night, it’s got tropical fruit… and some great little resorts, including a few “couples only” spots.

 

  • The islands in and around Greece, especially Cyprus and Cythera, both of which were considered sacred to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

 

  • Paris: The romantic capital of the world, especially for those who prefer a more urban and sophisticated romantic interlude. The Louvre is a must-see!

 

  • Gretna Green, Scotland in the UK: this was where British lovers traditionally eloped to, as it was the first town over the Scottish border and the Scottish marriage laws were more lenient than those of England (all you had to do was declare that you wanted to be married to each other in front of witnesses and it was legal).

 

  • Venice:  They say that if you kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, you will be granted the gift of eternal love. Enjoy the food, the gondolas, the history and the Renaissance charm of the old buildings and canals.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina .  This is where the super-sexy tango originated. Urban and sophisticated, but with a more modern and sassy twist than European destinations.

  • Milford Sound, New Zealand . Breathtaking scenery at any time of year, but especially good for a Southern Hemisphere winter romance, as you can easily get to action capital Queenstown for thrilling adventures and great skiing – and down to Bluff for its oyster season (oysters are aphrodisiacs, you know!).

  • The Lake District in the UK: Home to the great romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Coleridge.  Don’t forget your books of poetry. While you’re touring the UK, also hunt for the locations from the Jane Austen novels… and maybe the Beatrix Potter children’s stories, too.
  • Norway:  Home to not one but several ice hotels, where the building is made almost entirely of ice… often with warm furs and blankets to sleep on, and spectacular ice sculptures.  During summer, this Scandinavian country also has great views of the Midnight Sun.  You can also find ice hotels in Japan, Sweden and Canada.