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Your Top 5 List for Japan

Japan is an ancient and beautiful country that offers everything from ultra-modern cities to ancient shrines, stunning mountain vistas and warm coastal waters. This means that a holiday to Japan has countless ideas to experience – here are five favourites to help you organise your Japan tours.

Visit Hiroshima

Hiroshima may be most well known for being the first city to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb, the city is much more than that one event. But this period of history has obviously played a very major part in the modern city, most all of which was rebuilt after the war. Rather than being a sad and depressed place with such a sad history, Hiroshima has been reborn as a city of peace, with people who burst with enthusiasm and welcome visitors.

There’s so much to see in the city but a few of the notable highlights include Peace Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. There are still historic sites to see as well including the Hiroshima Castle and Shukkei-en Garden.

Edo Gardens, Tokyo

One of the big parts of Japan travel is visiting Tokyo and this most modern city also offers plenty for people who want to see more of the history of the city. Edo Gardens were built in the early 1600s and offer the chance to see Tokyo as it was back in this period. The gardens offer something regardless of the time of year you visit them with their bridges, lakes and beautiful tea pavilions. A half-day guided tour is a great way to see the best of the gardens while still leaving plenty of time to visit some other highlights of the city.

Takao, Kyoto

Mount Takao is an hour’s ride by bus from Kyoto and is home to three historic temples as well as being a largely untouched site with great natural beauty. The Kozanji Temple dates from 774 and is a World Heritage Site – it contains what is known as the first manga In Japan showing animals in a satire of court life during the time, the Heian Period. The temple also has claims to be the first place tea was cultivated in Japan.

The Jingoji Temple is one of the most visited and has an impressive set of stone steps to climb to reach it, flanked by stunning trees. Saimyoji Temple is the smallest of the three but is also worth visiting and the Shigetsukyo Bridge is a famous landmark close by.

Kamakura

Kamakura is the ancient capital of Japan around an hour from Tokyo by train. The city was capital from 1192 until 1333 and has many temples from this time. It also has many matsuri, traditional festivals of Shinto origin that bring together the people. Tours around the city can focus on the many historic attractions from different periods.

Japanese Whiskey Tasting, Kyoto

Whiskey may not be one of the things people associate with Japan but the country has a thriving industry and the whiskey tasting tour around the city is a great way to learn about the history of it. You can visit a number of local distilleries and sample their products as well as learning some of the culture that has developed around the whiskey distillery process.

The Top Airlines Rated

When we book a holiday, most of the time the airline we fly with is something of a secondary consideration. We look at things like price and time of the flight as well as where we fly from or to. But should the quality of the airline factor into the process? And can there be benefits to flying with top rated airlines versus those who have a slightly less impressive reputation? Here’s a look at some of the top airlines in the world and what makes them so.

Top 5 in the world

In the most recent rankings of the airlines of the world, Qatar Airways was voted as the top airline in the world, improving their position from the second best last year. Based in Doha, the airline has received top ratings for a number of factors including seat comfort and in-flight entertainment. The company now offers routes to 150 destinations around the world and has the newest long-haul aeroplanes in its fleeting such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Second place this year, also moving up one, is Singapore Airlines. The national airline for Singapore is based out of Changi International Airport, itself having been named as the top airport in the world for the last five years. The airline is particularly notable for the quality of service that passengers receiving including various entertainment options and even hot towels before take off – in economy, no less.

Third place is All Nippon Airways, the Japanese national carrier. This airline is noted for the quality of service, safety standards and the cleanliness of their aeroplanes, which include the largest fleet of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners in operation. With slide forward style reclining seats, power outlets in economy and a sense of privacy, this airline offers a relaxing and high quality service.

TripAdvisor awards

Top of the list according to TripAdvisor for the UK’s own airlines is Jet2. The reviews giant used eight different factors to rate the airlines offering flights within the UK including customer service, value for money, boarding, check-in and baggage allowances. Jet2 rated top for a combination of all of these including a general 22kg baggage allowance and friendly flight times.

As well as awarding country and regional awards, the company also awarded airlines for the different class of service on offer. The winners were:

  • Economy – Emirates
  • Premium economy – Air New Zealand
  • Business – Aeroflot
  • First Class – Emirates

Choosing an airline

Most people will go with factors such as the cost and flight time when choosing an airline or it might be an automatic part of the package that you are buying. But if you want to have a better experience during the flight, then looking at airline reviews and how an airline is rated by independent companies like TripAdvisor can be a great way to do it. These reviews are based on a number of factors and don’t affiliate with any of them so you get a realistic view of what the airline has to offer to help you make an informed decision.

No Fly Cruises from the UK

 

It’s great to daydream about all those far-away destinations that we see in magazines, the internet or on TV – but what if you’re not a fan of flying?

There are many reasons why so many people prefer not to fly. Some suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety issues. Others are concerned about the mobility aspect or health implications of long-haul flights. Whereas others avoid flying in a bid to help protect the environment.

Whatever the reasons for opting not to fly – there are still some great options to travel the world, and cruising is one way of seeing those enticing distant lands, without ever setting foot on an aeroplane.

Cruising has been a popular travel choice for many years, and these days the routes and destinations are as varied and exciting as ever.

Often, though, it can be necessary to fly to a location before the cruise begins, which can obviously be off-putting for anyone who prefers not to fly.

So it’s great news that there are an increasing number of cruises available from the UK – meaning those dream destinations may become a reality for those averse to flying after all.

But even beyond the benefits for non-flyers – these no fly cruises have some great appealing advantages for all travellers.

For example, there are no lengthy security procedures, as is increasingly the case with air travel.

Also, the parking at ports is very often excellent and very reasonable, which can be a great advantage over airport parking costs and hassles. Some cruise companies even included Free Parking deals, so make sure to enquire about these if you’re thinking of booking a cruise.

One more benefit of No-Fly cruising is that you are far less restricted when it comes to luggage and packing. There are often fewer limits on how much luggage you can take and what you can pack – which is great if you love to take your full wardrobe and favourite bits and pieces when you go away!

So if you’re intrigued about the benefits of cruising from the UK – without the need to get on an aeroplane – watch the video below for more info, tips and ideas.

Healthcare When Travelling

When you are travelling, one of the big things you don’t want to worry about is healthcare. Whether you are taking a week’s break in a sunny location or spending six months travelling the world, you always hope for the best but illness and accidents can happen to anyone. So, what is the position about healthcare when travelling and why do so many people take travel insurance?

Travelling in Europe

At the moment, the European Economic Area or EEA is a free trade zone between countries in the EU as well as others such as Iceland and Norway, also adopted by Switzerland. Under the European Health Insurance Card or EHIC, you are entitled to access state-provided healthcare that is either free or reduced cost on the same basis as someone who lives in that country.

The card covers treatment while in country and to return to the UK. It does cover existing medical conditions and routine maternity care – as long as you are not going abroad to give birth. However, it doesn’t cover things like the cost of mountain rescue if you are injured while skiing or the cost of being flown back to the UK. Nor does it cover any cost if you are going abroad specifically to get treatment of some kind.

Travelling outside Europe

Travelling outside the EEA, things get more complicated and every country has its own rules and regulations. The USA is one of the top destinations for travelling and is also potentially one of the most expensive places to have an accident or an illness – one British citizen had an accident that involves multiple fractures and an artery tear. He had to have an air ambulance to bring him back to the UK and the total bill for the treatment was almost £500,000.

Other countries have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK – Australia is one such example. Under this, UK citizens can get some healthcare assistance when in the country but there are still things you would have to pay for including most doctor surgery treatments, prescribed medication, ambulance travel and dental treatment. Some costs can be repaid to you under the Medicare system but you need to make this claim while still in Australia.

Benefits of travel insurance

All of these examples show why people mostly take travel insurance, even when travelling to EEA countries. Medical care while on holiday can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds for even relatively minor incidents and travel insurance will cover the cost of this in the vast majority of cases. It also covers costs such as getting back to the UK and emergencies when travelling which is usually excluded from other types of insurance such as private health insurance or credit card accident cover.

Additionally, it covers the cost of cancelling, delaying or cutting short the trip if there is an accident, incident or even if someone takes ill at home and you need to come back quickly. It covers lost and stolen bags as well as personal liability so if there is any kind of incident and you are liable for any damage, then the policy will most likely cover this.

Top Packing Tips & Tricks

Packing for a holiday can sometimes resemble a military operation with clothes lined up neatly, items stacked into piles ready to be stuffed into carry-on luggage and the pile in the corner that you have no idea what to do with. Going on holiday is fun but packing for it often isn’t so here are top packing tips and tricks to help make the process easier.

Create a packing list

One of the worst things when you board the plane is the feeling you have left behind something important. That’s why creating a packing list is an essential part of preparing for holidays. List all the essentials such as passports, medication and toiletries as well as electrical items that you want to take. Even make a clothes lists to ensure you get everything in.

Opt for lightweight suitcases

If you can, invest in lightweight suitcases and bags where possible. This will give you the same amount of space but takes up less of your allowance with the weight of the actual bag.

Personalise your bags

One of the easiest ways to ensure you see your luggage easily at the airport is to make your bags personalised in some way. There are lots of black, blue and grey bags out there but how many have a Pokémon character on them? Kids stickers are a fun way to make a bag easy to spot.

Roll and use vacuum packs

Some clothes can easily be rolled to take up less space and you can even invest in small vacuum bags. These work with the vacuum cleaner and reduce the size of items dramatically by drawing out all of the air. Just make sure you have the same facility for the return flight or things might not fit back in!

Use all available space

Don’t worry about packing tidy – pack things into every little nook to get the most into each bag. Pop socks and underwear into those little spaces and slide slender clothes into the gaps between bulkier stuff.

Use resealable bags for everything

Resealable bags come in all shapes and sizes and are so useful. Electrical items, cables, anything fiddly or in multiple small pieces can be bagged up and made easy to access and simple to carry.

Use cotton wool to prevent makeup accidents

If you have ever had makeup come open in your suitcase, you know the mess it can cause. Stop this by putting cotton wool pads against the eyeshadow and other powders and put things into small resealable bags.

Use cling film around bottles

Like makeup leaks, shampoo, perfume or other liquids can break and make a mess during travel. To reduce the chance of this, wrap them in cling film before putting them in a trust resealable bag. If the bottles are glass, either use a small travel sized spray bottle to put some of the content in or wrap the glass bottle in cotton wool first.

Use an e-reader rather than take books

There’s nothing nicer than sitting by the pool, reading but books can be heavy and take up a lot of room. Why not take an e-reader or tablet instead? There’s a Kindle app as well as books available through iTunes and Google Play so there are plenty of ways to fill up your reading list on one device.

Weigh the luggage before you leave

No-one likes to pay extra for overweight baggage at the airport so weigh your bags before you leave. Your airline will tell you baggage allowance beforehand so take note and check the actual bag weight ahead of time.

Welcome to BTHA

This is your welcome post for Best Travel & Holiday Advice (BTHA) and I’m really pleased you could join me on this journey.

I’m not going to claim to be an expert in every destination.

Not for a minute do I believe that any destination can be fully explored and experienced for one person.

I am however, what some may call a ‘seasoned’ traveller and for those destinations that I haven’t visited but still appear on the site, I will have done my research on and will have inspired commentary from me for one reason of another.

I’ll admit that it’s likely the site will be biased towards places I have visited and experienced for myself but I’ll be throwing in some inspiration and input from others here and there too for a bit of good measure.

Now by far one of my favourite destinations of the last year has been Croatia and I thought this would be a great place to get us started on our journey together.

Croatia hasn’t been the first place on my travel Wishlist and for many years I hadn’t even considered its potential but, I’m happy to confess that I’ve found this to be a mistake on my part.

The country is jam packed with excursions, cruises, tours, water sports, historical places of interest, picturesque towns, nightlife, beaches and events of all kinds.

If you are looking for a destination that’s not too far from home but you are a little bored of the same old Spanish sun and booze holiday, Croatia will provide you with that bit of extra something.

Here’s a little sneak peek at Dubrovnik, a great place to start as a newbie to the country…