Glamping: the Ultimate Guide

Camping is so last year; it’s all about glamping these days! Well, who wants to sit in a leaky tent when you could be living it up in luxury whilst exploring the beautiful natural landscape? What’s more, glamping is suitable for the whole family and you don’t need to be physically fit to enjoy it.

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So if this experience is starting to tickle your fancy already…take a look at our ultimate guide to glamping!

What is Glamping?

As we’ve got this far, we should probably explain exactly what glamping is…well, in essence it is essentially luxury camping. Many people do it to feel more comfortable when exploring another country, as a cheaper alternative to the villa holiday or even as a unique honeymoon adventure.

Your Vehicle of Choice

When it comes to choosing your vehicle, there are many options to choose from, but remember it must be comfortable! You could choose an amazing American style campervan from Oakwell Motorhomes; come on, who doesn’t wish they had one of these?

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Alternatively, you could go for something a little smaller, but just as glamorous in the form of a luxury caravan from experienced designers Coachman; they are world-renowned for their comfort and class! If you just want to take a car, that is also an option, but make sure that you choose a gorgeous, high quality tent. Quirky tent designers podpads.com have an exceptional range; you’re sure to stand out with these!

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Of course, some specialist glamping sites have their own accommodation for you there, which is wonderful if you just want to take a small car with you.

Where to go glamping?

You can go glamping anywhere in the world; although it is easier to head to UK glamping sites or European campsites, especially if you’re taking your own luxurious vehicle. Where you go is completely up to you! Spain, France, Ireland and Switzerland are a few fabulous destinations! Make sure that you consider your budget when booking though.

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What to Take With You

When glamping you get to enjoy all the comforts of home yet explore another part of the world. However, to ensure that you are comfortable out in the wonderful world, make sure that you check out this glamping checklist. Take everything that’s listed on this and you are certain to have a spectacular time under the stars.

What to expect…

So, what can you expect from your glamping trip? Well that is completely up to you! You can go rambling through the countryside or simply sit back and relax in your own luxurious piece of paradise. Nothing is too much or too little for the glamper! The most important thing is to make sure that you have a phenomenal time.

Glamping is a holiday that doesn’t go out of style; it is glamorous, stylish and will make you feel like a celebrity wherever you go. Don’t go camping, go glamping!

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Your Lake District Holiday Guide

Britain is full of unique, picturesque landscapes; it truly is an amazing place to spend a holiday. One of the most beautiful parts of England is of course the Lake District, which is a fantastic place to explore in any season. If you’re after adventure in stunning scenery, this destination is certainly for you, so go on, plan your getaway with your very own Lake District holiday guide.

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Why Visit the Lake District

 The Lake District is a phenomenal place to visit; there is so much history and heritage here, in addition to truly breathtaking landscape and excellent food. Whether you’re an outdoor person who craves adventure or you just want to relax in the beauty of rolling hills, luscious lakes, and gorgeous greenery you can find something for you here. As the Lake District is situated in the North West it is easily accessed by car via the M6 motorway.

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Things to Do:

 As stated above there are so many wonderful things to do in the Lake District both indoors and outdoors.

Outdoor Activities:

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 The Lakes

If there’s one thing that you MUST do on a holiday in the Lake District, it is to go on a boat ride in windermere. This lake is marvellous, and a boat ride is certainly the quickest way to get from one side of the lake to the other. Sittin on a boat is the most relaxing way to marvel at the wonders of the mesmerising landscape of the area.

If speed is what you’re after, make sure that you visit Coniston for Coniston Speed Week, where many power boats take to the water to break world records during the Autumn. In the summer you can simply relax at the famous Blue Bird Cafe.

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Walking & Adventures

Many people choose to go on walking holidays in the Lake District, and as the home of Scafell Pike it really isn’t hard to see why. Measuring 978 metres (3210 feet), this is one of the more challenging walks in the area. If you fancy a more leisurely stroll and just want to take in the marvellous landscape, don’t worry, there are many easy walks in the Lake District.

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Indoor Activities:

 If the rain starts to pour down, don’t worry, there are many indoor activities that you can take advantage of (these are great even if the sun is shining too!) including:

Beatrix Potter Museum – Bowness-on-Windermere

 The Beatrix Potter Museum is an excellent place to take the kids. Full of fantasy and fun, plus an exquisite tea room, this is an excellent attraction!

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 The Lakeland Aquarium – Windermere

 If you want to see what lies below the surface of Lake Windermere, and some more exotic fish as well, visit the Lakeland Aquarium. They even have adorable otters, so if you love wildlife make sure that you visit.

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The Lakeland Motor Museum – Leven Valley

 For the car enthusiasts out there, you must visit the Lakeland Motor Museum, here you will find a vast history of cars – it certainly is an exciting day out!

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Muncaster Castle – Ravenglass

 For those who want to explore heritage, history and experience true luxury, pay a visit to the gorgeous Muncaster Castle. The World Owl Centre is also here, so there are plenty of things to see and do for the whole family.

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Where to Stay: 

  • B&B 

There are many exquisite B&Bs in the Lake District, where you can relax in style and experience gorgeous food. For those who desire home comforts without having to cook their own breakfast, this option is definitely for you.

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  • Boutique Hotels

 For those who crave luxury, you’ll be happy to know that you can find a number of gorgeous boutique hotels in the Lake District. If relaxation is what you crave then the boutique hotel is certainly for you.

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  • Campsites

For families and those who crave the great outdoors, camping is an excellent idea. There are many Lake District campsites, where you can feel at home with nature yet have access to all of the amenities that you need.

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The Lake District is a marvellous place to visit, and is abundant with things to do and places to visit and explore. Whatever you’re after you can find it in this part of England. So go on, get packing! Get planning! Then enjoy all that the Lake District National Park has to offer!

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Your Guide to a Peak District Holiday

It’s a fact; you don’t have to go abroad to have a fabulous holiday. England is abundant with beautiful destinations that are truly marvellous for a family holiday, and one of the best places to visit is…the Peak District. Derbyshire is at the heart of the Peak District, with Nottinghamshire close by.

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Why Visit the Peak District

The Peak District is incredibly picturesque, with gentle rolling hills, gorgeous green pastures, mystical valleys and truly gorgeous rivers; it is one of the most stunning areas in England. It is the ideal location to sit back, relax, and recharge your batteries. Natural in beauty and brimming with culture, history and wildlife, it is also the perfect place for outdoor adventures!

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If this isn’t what you want from a holiday, don’t worry, there are plenty of exciting activities and amazing things to do in this area! From theme parks to stately homes you can find it all here.

Things to Do:

As stated above there are many things to do in this area, so let’s take a look at a few of the activities that the beautiful Peak District has to offer you:

Alton Towers – Alton Nr Cheadle

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 For thrill seekers and those who crave adventure you simply must visit Alton Towers, one of the most exciting theme parks in the country. There are rides and attractions here which the whole family can enjoy!

Peak Rail – Matlock

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For those who want to experience the historical heritage of England, head to Peak Rail where you will find beautiful steam trains and diesel locomotives from a bygone era. They have special events throughout the year which are incredibly exciting.

Chatsworth House – Nr Bakewell

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Chatsworth House is an utterly stunning stately home which you can visit throughout the year. With outstanding gardens and special exhibitions, you can have a fantastic day out here and enjoy a marvellous picnic with your family and friends.

Twycross Zoo – Atherstone.

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Animal lovers MUST visit Twycross Zoo, the world primate centre. Here you can view an array of apes, monkeys, lemurs, plus a whole array of other animals from across the world. It is an excellent place for people of all ages to visit!

Where to Eat:

There are many places to enjoy a meal out in the Peak District and you can be sure that you’ll find what you like! Regardless of whether you’re after fine dining in Derbyshire or hearty pub grub at the perfect Peak District pubs, we can guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for.

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Where to Stay:

When it comes to finding accommodation in the Peak District, you certainly aren’t limited for choice. Whatever you’re after you can find it here; regardless of whether it is a 5 star hotel, a luxury holiday cottage, or just a pitch for camping.  Here are a few fantastic options for you:

  • Camping/caravanning

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If you crave the outdoors, camping is definitely the option for you. There are so many wonderful Peak District campsites where you can enjoy the great outdoors, yet with all the amenities that you need.

  • Self Catering Cottages

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For those who crave something a little more luxurious, with all the comforts of home, then you’ll be happy to know that there are many gorgeous holiday cottages in Derbyshire that you can choose from. What’s perfect about the holiday cottage is that you can recline in outstanding comfort without losing out on any freedom.

  • Hotels

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There are a number of luxury hotels in Derbyshire, where you can indulge in exquisite luxury and relax in ultimate style, yet still get out and explore the incredible beauty that the Peak district has to offer.

There you have it; your guide to having a fantastic holiday in the Peak District, however there are many more exciting things to do and exciting views to see. So, go on! Get packing and have the perfect Peak District holiday for you and your family!

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Unusual Walking Destinations

For the purists, there’s only one real way to see the most beautiful landscapes of the world, and that’s on foot. It’s a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, to take your holiday at a slower pace and really see the beauty of nature all around you. To make the most of your walking holiday, choose a destination with something different, and you’ll be able to bring back stunning photographs, fantastic memories, and some great stories to tell, too.

Snowdonia National Park, Wales

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Starting with somewhere close to home, Snowdonia is a stunning area with plenty of trails and sights to take in. Mount Snowdon itself is an obvious attraction, but for many it has become somewhat “touristy”; many would prefer something a little quieter. The village of Betws y Coed is an ideal spot to base yourself – it’s known as the gateway to Snowdonia and there are plenty of quieter walking trails starting nearby, as well as easy access to the wider National Park. Aberconwy House is a welcoming B&B in Betws y Coed, within easy reach of the Bro Garmon Walk, which is an excellent moderate leisure walk giving you incredible views of the Conwy Valley.

Lofoten Islands, Norway

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Lying within the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Islands offer a really unique holiday. If you’re worried that it might be too cold, think again – despite the northerly location, the temperatures are quite mild here, with average temperatures usually staying above freezing even in winter.

One of the most popular places to stay in Lofoten is Anne Gerd’s bed & breakfast, now formally called the Lofoten Guesthouse, where the host offers a warm welcome to all her guests and is happy to offer advice on hiking trails and other activities. You can also read some advice on walking in Lofoten on Walkopedia.

Piatra Craiului National Park – Romania

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Imagine coming back from your holidays and telling your friends that you took a stroll through Dracula’s back yard! The stunning Piatra Craiului National Park is set in Transylvania, and offers a number of walking trails with absolutely fantastic views.

The Casa Samurai is a well-recommended place to stay – it’s a B&B in Brasov, the nearest town to the National Park, which is run by a friendly Japanese gentleman. It’s also just half an hour’s drive to Bran Castle – said to be the inspiration for Dracula’s castle.

Meteora, Greece

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Although Meteora is something of a tourist trap these days, it offers stunning and unique vistas – and if you choose the right trails, you can avoid the masses. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so – the six monasteries, built on towering sandstone pillars, are unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. Doupiani House is an excellent hotel in Kalampaka, close to Meteora and with stunning views of the cliffs.

The walking trails themselves are not always well marked or maintained – Walkopedia offers some helpful advice on finding the best routes, as well as listing some guidebooks that will be very useful – but the best advice is, as with any walking holiday, to conduct thorough research before hand, plan in advance and be prepared.

These are, of course, only four stunning locations where you can take in the wonders of the natural world by foot – there are many, many more, not only in Europe but throughout the world. With a well-packed backpack and a passport, your feet can take you to the most beautiful places, any time you like!

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Driving Around Europe – A Gap Year Adventure

carA gap year is an excellent opportunity to go on an adventure; to learn and experience new things before you complete your degree and move on towards your graduate career. One great way to do this is to take inspiration from the old tradition of the Grand Tour and travel around Europe, and the best way to give yourself the freedom to explore at your own pace is to drive – that way you can go and see exactly what you want to see.

Before You Go

The first thing you’ll need to plan for is your driving license. You can apply for a provisional driving license when you’re 15 years and 9 months old; you can ride a moped at 16 and you can start driving a car at 17. Getting on the roads with a moped at 16 can help you to develop your road-sense before you upgrade to a car.

It’s vital that you become a confident driver long before your trip – ask your driving school about pass plus schemes, and talk to your instructor about how to adjust to driving on the “wrong” side of the road. Once you go, you’ll have to adapt to different rules and regulations in each country; this will be much easier if you’re already comfortable and in control at the wheel.

If you need an International Driving Permit for the country or countries you’re heading to, make sure that you apply in plenty of time. You must be 18 or over and have passed your test before you can apply for this, and you can get it easily from the Post Office.

Make sure that you have the right documents ready to take with you – you’ll need your full (not provisional) driving license, including both the paper and photocard components; your International Driving Permit where applicable; original vehicle registration documents (not a copy); motor insurance documents; travel insurance documents, and – of course – your passport. If your number plate doesn’t already show it clearly, you’ll also need a GB sticker on your car.

Generally speaking, you must be at least 18 years old to drive in Europe on your UK license, and have at least third party compulsory insurance.

First Stop: France

franceLeave the UK by the ferry or the tunnel, and arrive at your first stop in France. Straight away, since you’re in continental Europe now, you’ll have to start driving on the right!

Pay close attention to the speed limit. French authorities are very strict on speeding, and can issue heavy on-the-spot fines – they can also confiscate your UK license, which means impounding your car too if you haven’t got another driver with you.

There are often two speed limits posted on dual carriageways and motorways in France. If the weather is wet, or if you have had your license for less than 2 years, you must obey the lower limit. There’s also a minimum speed limit on the motorways of 49mph (80 km/h)

A single continuous white line is the equivalent to a double white line in the UK – no overtaking.

Dipped headlights should be used in poor visibility.

Required Equipment: You must have a warning triangle, a reflective jacket (which must be put on before exiting the car in an emergency breakdown) and a breathalyser in your car. The breathalyser must be certified by French authorities, with an NF number on it. Although there is currently no fine for not carrying a breathalyser, it’s wise to carry two (in case one is damaged) anyway.

The official website of the France Tourism Development Agency has more information on transport in the country.

Second Stop: Germany

GermanyIn the land of the Autobahn, you can only drive on the motorway if your vehicle is designed for speeds of at least 37 mph (60km/h). The recommended maximum speed on dual carriageways is 80 mph (130km/h), but in bad weather with visibility below 50m this drops to 50 km/h. If you’re driving slower than the surrounding traffic, you must find a suitable place to stop and let others pass.

Watch out for school buses; if their hazard lights are flashing, they are approaching a stopping point and passing is prohibited.

It’s recommended that you have dipped headlights or day time running lights at all times – this is compulsory if fog, snow or rain reduce visibility. You must have your lights on in tunnels.

Again, drink-driving is strictly frowned upon; if you’re under 21 or you’ve had your license for less than two years, it’s zero tolerance with a fine of €250 if any alcohol is found in your bloodstream. Be a polite driver – motorists can be fined for using abusive language or making derogatory signs!

Some German cities enforce emission zones or “Umweltzone”, and in order to enter these areas you must obtain and display a vignette or “Plakette”. This is something you’d need to order in advance of your trip, so check your destinations carefully.

Required Equipment: Although not required for visitors, it’s recommended that you carry the same compulsory equipment that residents would have – a warning triangle, a first-aid kit and a set of replacement bulbs.

The RAC offers further information on driving in Germany.

Third Stop: Switzerland

SwitzerlandYou must drive with dipped lights or daytime lights at all times – there’s a fine for driving without lights, even on the brightest day.

Drink-driving penalties are strict; the police can request any driver to take a drink or drugs test, and if you’ve held your license for less than three years the limit is only 0.01 per cent.

Outside of built up areas, you should honk your horn (or flash your headlights if it’s after dark) before taking sharp bends where visibility is limited.

Pedestrians generally have right of way – watch out for people stepping into the road as they’ll expect you to stop for them!

Required Equipment: You must have a warning triangle kept in an accessible place – not the boot – and in certain areas you must have snow chains fitted on at least two drive wheels. A tax applies to users of motorways and semi-motorway roads – a sticker called a vignette must be purchased and displayed. You can get the vignette from customs offices at the frontier and from service stations.

For more information on driving in Switzerland (and Liechtenstein), check out this PDF from the AA.

Fourth Stop: Italy

ItalyIf you’ve held your license for less than three years, you must adhere to a speed limit of 55 mph (90km/h) outside built up areas, and 62 mph (100km/h) on motorways. Fines are particularly heavy for speeding, and are applied on the spot, so be careful.

Outside built-up areas, and if there is poor visibility due to rain or snow, you must use dipped headlights. Your rear fog lights must only be used when visibility is less than 50 metres.

Be very careful if you’re drinking in Italy – for drivers with less than three years experience, there is zero tolerance – any alcohol in your bloodstream at all and you’re over the limit.

Watch out for signs that say “zona traffico limitato” – usually in historical town centres. This means that traffic is restricted, and non-residents will get a fine in the post for driving through.

Required Equipment: Again, you must have a warning triangle, and if you break down at night or in poor visibility you must have a reflective jacket on before you get out of the car.  Again, some areas require snow chains, and the maximum speed limit if you’re using them is 31 mph (50 km/h).

The official Italian Tourism website gives more information on driving in Italy.

For any other destination, you can get up to date information on driving regulations from the AA or RAC. By checking what you need to know in advance, you’ll be much better prepared for your gap year adventure – leaving you better able to enjoy all the experiences and sights in store!

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