Who can blame you for wanting to escape the British winter in search of some much-needed sun? So you’ve set your heart on beating the frost, wind, rain and dark evenings – but where should you go? Travel insurance specialists Adrian Flux have scoured the planet to find the 10 best destinations for gloom-dodging Brits.
The perfect destination for a winter family holiday – your kids speak the language, the food is familiar and there’s not only miles of beaches but theme parks too.
Even in January, the average daytime temperature is about 21C, and you can either enjoy the beaches all along the warm coast, brave the Orlando roller-coasters or hire a car and visit the many other
attractions such as the Seaquarium, the Science Museum, or Planetarium.
Either stay in the Miami area, take in the beach resorts of the Gulf of Mexico or head down to the Florida Keys. And don’t forget to take a trip to the Everglades National Park.
It may be 24 hours on a plane, but it’s well worth it if you’ve got at least two weeks to explore this truly amazing country, a mixture of modern cities, golden beaches and extraordinary natural scenery.
Despite their Pom-bashing reputation, the natives are very friendly and there is so much to do and see you could spend a year Down Under and not get bored.
Because our winter is their summer, you’re guaranteed hot weather – so hot in places you’ll need your factor 50 – and you’ll need to make it a multi-destination trip to make the best of your stay.
Sydney is a beautiful cosmopolitan city, and from there you can explore the east coast up to the tropical rainforests of Queensland and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef.
No holiday is complete without visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock) and experiencing a night under the stars in the outback learning some genuine bushcraft.
Just mind out for the bugs – Australia is home to some of the deadliest in the world.
3. Canary Islands
Tenerife is the largest of the islands, and has a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget, while the volcanic Lanzarote is famed for its black sandy beaches.
The best beaches can be found on Gran Canaria, while Fuerteventura and La Palma are popular all year round.Winter temperatures are usually in the mid-20sC and is rarely rains.
Families should avoid some of the bigger resorts like Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria, famed for their nightlife.
Where to start with the Caribbean? Whether you want to laze on beaches with talcum-powder white sands, or rent a Jeep and explore the exotic wildlife, waterfalls and jungles, there are plenty of destinations to choose from.
Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, St Lucia, Dominica and the Bahamas will vie for your attention with Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique and tiny Anguilla, which boasts some of the best beaches in the region.
The islands offer sun, warm waters, good quality hotels, the option of a cruise to take in more of the islands in one visit, and the chance to see wildlife like hummingbirds and parrots, with Cuba having the most diverse wildlife anywhere in the Caribbean.
An ever-popular winter destination for sun-seeking Brits, Thailand offers palm-lined beaches, warm sunny weather, and colourful cuisine.
Head for resorts including the island of Phuket, the popular Pattaya or the smaller Ko Lanta, Krabi or Khao Lak.
Go snorkelling on the west coast among the Phi Phi islands, or head north around the Chiang Rai area for elephant-trekking or hill-walking – though the weather is slightly crisper the further north you go.
You can choose from luxury accommodation or stay in one of the increasing number of reasonably priced hotels appealing to those with more modest means.
The best months to go weather-wise are February and March.
There’s no better time to visit the wonders of Egypt’s ancient world than in the winter months, when you can bask in temperatures in the mid 20sC and away from the searing summer sun.
Those in search of culture can visit the temples, pyramids and tombs, while sun-seekers can spend a few days on the beach at Red Sea resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh.
Luxor is probably the best base for exploring the Valleys of the Kings and Queens and the temple at Karnak, and is also perfectly situated to take a relaxing cruise down the Nile.
7. South Africa
Fantastic scenery, warm weather, huge game parks and a number of great beaches – added to some of the best food and wine in the southern hemisphere – make South Africa a great choice despite the relatively long 12-hour flight.
Take in the breath-taking views of the Cape from Table Mountain, head to Robben Island to learn about the brutal history of Apartheid and stay in a cabin in the superb Kruger Park.
In the east Durban offers great beaches by the Indian Ocean, while the Drakensburg Mountains provide first-class hiking and the wetlands of St Lucia are the place to be for bird-watchers.
Not cheap, but if you want the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of David Beckham and soak up the sun in one of the world’s most upmarket resorts, then Dubai is the place for you.
Top class restaurants, myriad shopping malls and golden beaches jostle with all-inclusive resort hotels in this wealthy city-state.
State-of-the-art accommodation on Jumeirah beach includes the Burj al Arab – the world’s only seven-star hotel boasting gold-plated fittings, a circular ballroom and dining under the sea and stars, plus use of the amazing Wild Wadi Waterpark.
Temperatures are in the mid to high 20sC, but there’s always the man-made slopes of the Ski Dubai snow park if you want to cool off.
A safari is the ultimate in winter holiday adventures, and there’s nowhere better than sleeping under canvas while lions roam free in Tanzania.
A majestic landscape of contrasts, from the snow-capped Kilimanjaro to the wildlife-rich plains of the Serengeti and the beaches of Zanzibar, Tanzania remains one of the world’s most unspoiled treasures.
You’ll need to be up early – about 6am – to catch the best of the animals on the Serengeti, but it’s well worth setting the alarm clock to see the vast herds of wildebeest, plus lions and elephants among others in their natural habitat.
Also explore the famed Ngorongoro Crater and watch tree-climbing lions in Lake Manyara.
Temperatures average the mid 20sC in the Serengeti, while it’s warmer at the coast.
10. Rio de Janeiro
Warm up for the 2014 World Cup by taking in the sights and sounds of the city of samba.
The party city of Rio, nestled between the mountains and the sea, reverberates to the Latin rhythms of music and dance, and February’s Mardi Gras carnival is the best time to go to see the city at its bouncing best.
Take a cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and top up your tan (or play volleyball) on the world-famous Copacabana beach.
Temperatures can range from 22C to 30C in winter.
Going on a caravanning holiday should be a happy, carefree time. Unfortunately there are opportunist thieves on campsites who take advantage of people’s more casual attitude to security and that can really take the shine off a holiday. Specialist caravan insurance broker, Adrian Flux, has a division specialising in caravan insurance so is well-placed to offer some advice on keeping possessions safe while having a relaxing break.
- Always lock your caravan door when you leave. Check the locks fitments before you set off on holiday and replace or upgrade faulty ones. At home you know who your neighbours are, but on a caravan site you have no idea of the pedigree of your fellow holiday-makers. Even if you’re just popping to the shop make sure you close all doors, windows and any skylights.
- For extra security fit an alarm and window locks and remember to use them. There is a huge range of caravan alarms and lots of companies, such as Sola-Larm, who can offer help and advice. If you are fitting an alarm make sure you know how to set it correctly, as there is nothing more annoying to other site users than an alarm going off for no reason. Some alarms, like the Kel caravan alarm have remote controlled awning lights, but make sure the lights aren’t too bright, you don’t want to wake up your neighbours when you turn it on late at night.
- To stop thieves checking out what you’ve got in your caravan, draw the curtains and use timer switches to turn the lights on if you will be out after dark. 12V timers are relatively hard to track down but Conrad has a simple inexpensive model that should do the trick. You could also leave the radio on if you are out for long periods as it makes the caravan seem occupied.
- Try not to leave money or valuables in your caravan, but, if you have to, make sure they are well hidden and locked away. The SafeShop offers a selection of small safes suitable for caravans that are designed to hold £1,000 cash or £10,000 of valuables – which should be enough for most caravanners.
- UV markers are a simple and inexpensive way to protect property. They cost less than £2 to buy. It is recommended that you mark your postcode and initials on each item in a discrete place that won’t be handled a lot. You will need to re-mark every couple of years and keep an up-to-date record of what you have marked.
- Further advice on caravan security can be found at UK Campsite and police authorities for popular holiday areas such as Norfolk Police have good tips to offer.
The number of people taking to the road in caravans has increased by 25 per cent in recent years, according to figures released by the Caravan Club.
And as more and more people open up their portable holiday homes for the first time since last autumn, they may find it’s time to revamp their surroundings and carry out a few simple makeovers to breathe new life into their cherished caravans.
Adrian Flux Insurance Services offers a raft of caravan insurance policies to ensure that you have peace-of-mind whether your caravan is on the road or parked-up at a campsite.
Before you set off, here are five simple ways to pimp your caravan:
Five easy makeovers for your caravan:
1 If you’ve got an older caravan and haven’t replaced the cushions or mattresses, now is the time to address the issue and have new foam cut to fit your van. Measure the seat pads and then visit a local foam supplier who will cut your foam to size.
2 Give your van a new lease of life with easy-to-sew cushion covers and curtains. You don’t have to be a genius with a sewing machine to whip up a few new covers and by making covers elasticated it makes them easy to remove and simple to change when you fancy a new colour scheme. Use calico and old fabric remnants to add colourful borders.
3 Floors in caravans often receive harsh treatment as you trail into your van with muddy or sandy feet. Carpet can look very tired very quickly, so rip it up and start again. Try using cheap carpet tiles or self-adhesive vinyl tiles which will be easy to keep clean. Current retro styling means that black and white vinyl tiles are very popular in vintage-style (or styled) vans.
4 One way to add a whole new look to your caravan is to paint the walls or add wallpaper. Walls in caravans vary from hardboard to a difficult-to-paint vinyl so you need to choose the right paint for the job and prepare the surfaces carefully. Wash with sugar soap and then use the paint appropriate to the wall surface – prepare to paint several coats, make sure your van is properly ventilated and that you take plenty of breaks.
5 Attention to detail is what makes your caravan really special. A new look can be achieved for barely any money if you source some new cushions and some brilliant car boot finds for your van, whether it’s vintage picnic-ware or a battery-operated fibre optic lamp.
* Specialist broker Adrian Flux offers comprehensive caravan insurance regardless of the make and model of your van. Give yourself the security of an insurance policy that suits you and your needs, call Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or visit www.adrianflux.co.uk.
Many people are put off caravan holidays by the thought of towing the caravan itself! Get it wrong and you could jack-knife, snake or overturn. But with a bit of preparation and careful driving you should be able to get your caravan to your destination without incident.
At Adrian Flux Insurance Services they are used to listening to tales of caravan misery when people ring in to make insurance claims after towing mishaps. They’ve even heard of those who plan their whole route so that they don’t have to make any right hand turns!
To make it easier for prospective caravaneers Flux has put together these five top tips for safe caravan towing.
- Check you are legally entitled to tow your vehicle. If you passed your driving test on or after January 1, 1997 you may be breaking the law when you tow your caravan. It’s all about weight of trailer and towing vehicle. Get it wrong and you could face nine points on your license. Visit the relevant page on the government website DirectGov for the details.
- Incorrect loading of the caravan is the cause of many accidents. Try to put heavy items over the axle and fasten items so they don’t shift about as you drive. Aim to put the lighter things in the caravan and heavier ones in the car if there is room. www.caravan-advice.co.uk is the place to get further help on loading caravans.
- Remember your extra length for maneuvering. The Camping and Caravanning Club runs manoeuvering courses to help first time caravanners feel confident on the road.
- Before you set out run a full service check. Caravan brakes and linkages can cause major problems if they cease up or snap. If in doubt consult an expert and book an appointment at a local dealer. Go Caravanning has produced a useful service checklist.
- When you hitch up, double check everything and make sure the car and caravan sit level on the road. At this stage you may well have to make adjustments but it is worth taking the time to get it all correct. Follow the advice from The National Caravan Council.
The number of people taking to the road in caravans has increased by 25 per cent in recent years, according to figures released by the Caravan Club. So for those of you planning on a road trip with your caravan for the first time, specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux has come up with 10 essential tips to make sure your journey runs smoothly.
10 tips for first-time caravanners:
- Get the basics right: make sure you have the correct licence for towing your caravan (check direct.gov.uk for details) and make sure you know the maximum speed limits for driving while towing a caravan – for example, the maximum speed limit on a dual carriageway is 60mph and 50mph on single carriageways.
- Ensure that you’re in full control of your caravan by practicing potentially tricky manoeuvres such as parking and reversing before you set out onyour first journey. Extension towing mirrors on your car will allow you to have a clear view down both sides of your caravan and make sure that all lights and indicators are working on both the caravan and your car.
- Never leave home without a caravan first aid kit: WD40, Milton fluid, a reliable torch, spare fuses, adjustable spanner, two screwdrivers, a set of battery leads and a strong tow-rope. You’ll have all the equipment you need to deal with a crisis – or to allow you to be a Good Samaritan to someone else in trouble.
- Face facts: caravans are often unpopular with fellow road-users, so don’t compound the situation with poor or selfish driving. Plan your route carefully, carry a road map in addition to your sat nav, avoid dawdling and if a queue builds up behind you on a single lane road, pull over when it’s safe to do so and let faster vehicles pass. Unless it’s vital, try to avoid travelling during the morning or evening rush hours.
- Remember when you are planning to overtake in your caravan that you will need to travel for further than normal to pass a vehicle, so allow plenty of time and space to do so. Similarly, bear in the mind the size of your caravan when approaching low bridges or using car parks.
- If you find your caravan swaying from side to side as you drive, don’t panic, simply reduce your acceleration and slightly loosen your grip on the steering wheel until you regain control.
- Don’t be too adventurous on your first trip: choose a location close to home so that you can allow yourself more time for the all-important unhitching and setting up.
- On that note, don’t be frightened of your caravan. Everyone was a novice caravanner at some point and even experienced travellers may take several attempts to reverse their caravan into their pitch. You’ll find that most fellow caravanners are happy to help if you need a hand and are full of useful tips.
- Give yourself peace of mind by making sure your caravan has the right insurance policy to suit you and your needs. Caravans cost a lot to replace and insurance can be surprisingly inexpensive. Call specialist broker Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or visit adrianflux.co.uk for the best quotes on the market.
- Relax: you’ve bought a caravan to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life, not add to them!