The road less travelled

It’s nice to finally see some Spring sunshine which may mean your thoughts are now turning to travel and plans for the summer holidays. If you haven’t yet booked your summer break, why not try something a bit different? It doesn’t have to be wrestling alligators or whitewater rafting. Here are some small tweaks to try for a slightly different experience.

1. Stay somewhere different

Rather than stay in a hotel, try renting someone’s spare room. Since it launched in 2008, Airbnb has become a global phenomenon with more than 300,000 listings in 192 countries. Not just spare rooms, but apartments, family houses, villas and even treehouses! Other similar sites have sprung up such as HomeAway, Homestay and Tripadvisor’s Holidaylettings. Don’t forget, if you decide to reciprocate and let out your property, check that your insurance covers you. If this is your holiday home, our holiday homes insurance experts in our Bristol branch can advise you.

2. Catch the train

There’s no need to fly from the UK to anywhere in Mainland Europe if you don’t want to. Eurostar links the UK across the Channel and your onward journey is then easy to book. It’s just a matter of planning in advance and knowing which websites to use. A good place to start is The Man in Seat Sixty-One. It’s also worth looking at the all-Europe timetable at the German website www.bahn.de. The upside of travelling by train, apart from reducing your carbon footprint, is that it is less stressful than dealing with airports and you get to see the countryside as you go. With a bit of forward planning, it can also work out less expensive than travelling by plane.

3. A slow boat to….

A fantastic way to see several European countries in comfort, is to take a river cruise. The completion of the Main-Danube canal in 1992, has allowed modern day river cruisers to travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea, and opened up more than 2000 miles of river. As you travel, you can take in some of the major capital cities on the continent and admire the scenery as you go. Essentially, river cruise boats are floating hotels and there are several different routes you can take – an ideal way to complete the Grand Tour of old.

4. A hobby holiday

Want to learn to cook in China or paint in Peru? There are many options for taking your hobby on holiday, home and abroad. Just have a quick search on the internet for a bit of inspiration. If you prefer something sporty, you could try cycling, surfing, horse riding or even wild water swimming. Before you travel, however, check that you are covered on your travel insurance – even if you’re not, it’s usually possible to add cover for any non-standard activities.

5. Glamping galore

Glamping has seen an exceptional rise in popularity in the last 5 years. We’ve always been a nation who loves sleeping under canvas, but the activity has had a glamorous makeover. Glamping usually takes place inside a bell tent, pod, cabin, wigwam, tipi, lodge or even a shepherd hut. However, the interior can be decked out in a way that rivals a stylish hotel room. Why not leave that leaky tent behind and give this a try in Europe, or even farther afield, as this trend spreads worldwide?

6. Cool Campervans

Hugely popular, classic campervans can be seen on roads all across Europe during the summer months. As their popularity has grown, so, unfortunately, has the price of buying one! However, there are now many websites that specialise in the holiday hire of these campers, allowing you to roam in style. If you are lucky enough to own a camper of your own, there are also sites that allow you to rent out your van to others. For advice on the insurance implications that come from renting out your campervan, please speak to our specialist team – Thatcham Schemes.

7. Happy house swapping

A happy side effect of the growth in the “sharing economy” and apps such as Airbnb is that house swapping has become much more accessible as a holidaying option. You can now holiday in someone else’s home, without any money changing hands, with relative ease. If you have a large family, this can be a very cost-effective way to travel as long as you are open-minded about people staying in your house in return. Once again, please speak to us about the insurance implications of people staying in your home.

8. Think outside the box

There are plenty of undiscovered, “out of the way” places to visit around the UK. Try thinking of some less well-known destinations such as The Scilly Isles, The Channel Islands (Herm has beaches to rival the Caribbean), The Hebrides, Orkney, Lewis and Harris.

9. Inside knowledge

Get a real feel for the local people, sights and food by trying these websites and apps to do your pre-trip research: spottedbylocals.com, mydistriKt, Like A Local, Eatwith and bookalokal

10. Give something back 

Make more of your time off by volunteering. Not only will you get the chance to do something worthwhile, but you can try new things and meet new people at the same time. You need to check that you are covered by your travel insurance if you volunteer but this can usually be added as an extra if not.

Wherever you decide to roam this summer, A-Plan can help:

  • You can now buy our travel insurance product online, speak to your branch or, if you have more complex travel insurance needs, try our specialist travel centre on 01252 728316
  • If you want advice about insuring your holiday home, please call our team in Bristol on 0117 403 3000
  • For campervans, call our specialist centre on 01635 879910