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Travel News and ReviewsTravel Tips

The Definitive Guide to Renewing Your Passports Online!

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The Irish Online Passport Renewal Service has been expanded to allow children and ALL Irish citizens to renew passports online, from anywhere in the world!

 

This announcement will prove to be a massive benefit to families, who until now, had to apply for children’s passports manually. Faster turnaround times of 10 working days are expected for all online applications, although Fiona Penollar, Head of the Passport Service says ” we would hope to beat that, currently 12% of all online applications are processed within a day and 50% within one week”. This is a far cry from the delays that were encountered last Summer via Passport Express and can only be seen as great news for Irish travellers. I asked Fiona Penollar a few questions about how all Irish citizens can renew passports online.

 

 

 

What do I need to apply?

Adults just need a digital photograph, an email address and a debit / credit card. If you are renewing a child’s passport you will  need to verify the identity of children and receive consent of guardians. This comes in the form of a Child Passport Identity and Consent Form, will be generated for printing and witnessing at the end of the online process. This will need to be signed, witnessed and posted back, by freepost, to the passport office. It should be noted that witnesses can now be people who interact with the child and know them and their guardians well, i.e the child’s doctor, school secretary etc.

 

 

 

How long does it take?

It only takes approximately 10 minutes to apply (once you have your digital photo) and the turnaround time is approximately two weeks plus postage time, depending on where in the world you are living. For children the official turnaround time starts from the time the consent form is received.

 

 

 

How do I get my digital photo?

You can now take your own photo at home (not a selfie) and upload it directly when applying online. There are conditions to adhere to, i.e you must have a plain cream / white coloured background, not smile etc. You may find you have to take a few photos to get one that will be accepted. 
 

 

 
You can also get your digital photographs from one of the many Photo-Me booths around the country. They are quick and easy to use and you will receive a unique code which you enter when making your online application. Check out my video below which will show you how easy they really are!  Your local Tesco or Supervalu should have these in place but for more information on photo booth locations please visit www.passportphoto.ie.  Babies will not be able to use the photo-me-booths so they will need to go into their local pharmacy to get their photograph taken. For more info on photo guidelines click here.

 


 

 

 

How much does it cost?

The fees for all online applications are being reduced by €5 across all application types.  The standard 10 year passport is €75 and a standard child passport book costs €20.
 

 

 

If my passport is lost, expired or damaged can I apply online?

Yes. If your passport has expired less than five years ago you can apply online. If your passport has been damaged, lost or stolen you can still apply online however it may take longer than the standard 2 weeks application.

 

 

 

If I am changing my name from maiden to married name, can I apply online?

Yes the categories for adults renewals have been expanded to include people who are changing their name due to marriage or  divorce.

 

What do I do if I need an emergency passport?

There is a Rapid Renewal service available by appointment at the Passport Service, Mount Street, Dublin for applicants travelling within 3 days. The service is for adults and children renewing their passports.  In the case of children’s passports, both parents must be present when submitting the application. As passports have to be turned around very quickly, the number of appointments are limited. Certain Terms and Conditions apply before booking an appointment on https://www. passportappointments.ie/. It should be noted that this service is not available to people who have already put an application in the system via Passport Express or online. Therefore it is very important that the correct application channel is chosen depending on the intended date of travel.

 

 

 

More details about the Online Passport Application Service are available at www.dfa.ie/passportonline.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 27th November 2018

In my best travel deals this week I have winter breaks in Costa del Sol, Lanzarote and Vienna, summer in Marbella, Vilamoura and South Africa, a taster cruise and a luxury staycation.

 

Best last minute:

Escape the rain in sunny Costa del Sol this weekend. Enjoy a seven-night stay in the hugely popular Sunset Beach Club for only €255. Price includes flights and apartment for one week, departing the 3rd of December.

View offer here

 

 

Best city break:

Vienna was such a popular choice in my best Black Friday deals post so I thought you might like this great deal for St Patricks Weekend. Fly from Dublin to Vienna on Saturday the 16th of March and enjoy a three-night stay in the highly rated 4* Austria Trend Hotel Savoyen Vienna for only €203. There are many more dates available, just change the dates on the links below. The perfect #ChristmasGift 

View flights here €83pp

View hotel here €120 pp

 

 

Best family deal:

Take advantage of TUI’s Free Child Place offers with this super All Inclusive deal to the Cortijo Blanco on the Costa del Sol. Fly from Dublin to Malaga on the 14th of July and enjoy a seven-night stay for only €2495, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing! Price includes flights, transfers, baggage and all meals and drinks!

View offer here

 

 

Best cruise:

Always wanted to try a cruise but think a week might be too long? This Royal Caribbean taster cruise is just the ticket! Fly to Rome on the 10th of June and enjoy a two-night stay in the Bailey’s Hotel with breakfast, before cruising to Corsica, Provence and Nice for for four nights on Jewel of the Seas. Price of €799 includes flights, hotel in Rome and Royal Caribbean cruise with all meals and entertainment included!

View offer here

 

 

Best long haul deal:

South Africa is one of my favourite holiday destinations and this 12 day trip includes stays in Cape Town, a road trip along the Garden Route and a two-night stay in a private Game Reserve. Price including flights, highly rated hotels and car-hire is only €2299.

View offer here

 

 

Best staycation:

Treat yourself or a loved one to an overnight stay in the 5* Druids Glen Resort in Wicklow. Price of €165 includes stay for two with breakfast, a bottle of prosecco, €15 spa credit towards treatments of 50 minutes or more, €15 golf voucher for Druids Heath Course (per person credits), €20 dinner credit per couple and late check-out by 1pm.

View offer here

 

 

Best winter deal:

Spend a week in the highly rated Palmeras Garden apartments in Lanzarote for only €282 on the 30th of March. Price includes flights and accommodation for seven nights!

View offer here

 

 

Best early booking offer:

Enjoy a week in July the upmarket resort of Vilamoura in the Algarve – without the expensive price tag! Stay at the popular Old Village apartments, which are highly rated on tripadvisor, for seven nights for only €495 per person. Price includes flights to Faro and accommodation based on two sharing, departing the 31st of July.

View flights here €148pp

View accommodation here €347pp

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

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AmericaLightening DealsLong Haul

Top 3 Las Vegas Multi Centre Holidays – Prices from €1129 Inc All Flights & Hotels!

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Las Vegas multi centre holidays are getting more and more popular. Combine the bright lights of Vegas with one of America’s iconic cities or beach resorts. I have teamed up with American Sky to show you their top three combinations.

 

Las Vegas is one of those places everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Spend a few days enjoying thrilling experiences and late night parties in the entertainment capital of the world – it has to be done! Take in a show or sporting event, ride the zipline, visit the Grand Canyon or relax on a gondola at the Venetian – there are so many things to do in Las Vegas you will be spoilt for choice. After an action packed few days, what better than to move on to another American city or beach resort. Check out American Sky’s top three Las Vegas multi centre holidays below  and get planning your next trip away!

Las Vegas Multi Centre Holidays

 

 Las Vegas, San Francisco & Los Angeles, 7 Nights, All Flights & Hotels, €1189!

Las Vegas Multi Centre Holidays

Why visit one city, when you can visit three? This three centre holiday is a great combination, and like all of these deals, the price includes all internal flights too! Fly to Las Vegas first and enjoy three nights exploring this iconic city.  You will then fly to Los Angeles where you will stay for two nights. Stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, go celebrity spotting in Beverly Hills or take a trip to Universal Studios or Disneyland. You can also opt to spend some time on one of California’s cool beaches – the choice is yours!

Las Vegas Multi Centre Holidays

Fly onwards from LA to San Francisco where you spend your last two nights. Visit Alcatraz, cycle across the Golden Gate bridge and stroll down Fishermans Wharf.  You can opt to extend your stay in any of the above cities, simply discuss your requirements with one of the expert staff at American Sky and they will tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

View offer here

 

Las Vegas & New York, 7 Nights, €1129!

Las Vegas Multi Centre Holidays

Visit two of America’s most vibrant cities on one holiday. Enjoy a four night stay in Las Vegas before flying to New York for a three night stay. Four nights in Las Vegas will give you ample time to take in the top sights and experience the wonder of the Grand Canyon. You will then fly to New York and spend three nights in the heart of Manhattan at the ROW hotel in Times Square. Marvel at old favourites such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Rockerfeller Centre and explore lots of new ones at the revitalised World Trade Centre. Of course no trip to New York would be complete without a stroll in Central Park and some shopping in Macys!

View offer here

 

  Las Vegas & 5* All Inclusive in Mexico, 10 Nights, €1649!

Las Vegas Multi Centre Holidays

Can you think of a better twin-centre holiday? Experience the thrills and spills of Las Vegas for three nights before flying to Cancun and enjoying a seven-night all-inclusive stay in a five star beach hotel! You can opt to extend your stay in Las Vegas or choose alternative hotels but this amazing deal includes all meals and drinks for seven nights in the Occidental Grand Xcaret in Riviera Maya. Highly rated on tripadvisor and awarded a certificate of excellence, this is amazing value for a luxury twin centre holiday!

View offer here

 

So whether you want a Las Vegas multi centre holiday for a special occasion or a want stop by as you drive Route 66, American Sky can organise it for you. They can tailor make any holiday to Las Vegas and guide you on the best hotels to suit your requirements.

Contact American Sky on 01 6649900 or visit their website for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of publication but are subject to change. This post on Las Vegas multi centre holidays, was sponsored by American Sky but all views, as always, are my own.
 

Like long haul holidays? See more destination reviews and travel deals here.

 

Sarah
The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 
Travel Tips

My Top Twenty Travel Gadgets

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Whether you are buying for the travel addict in your life, or just want to treat yourself, check out my top ten travel gadgets to help you travel in style!

 

Waterproof  Phone case – £7.99

If you are planning on going on a boat trip, jet-ski or even snorkelling, don’t travel without this. This particular model is big enough for larger phones like the iPhone 8plus!

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Media Share – £19.97

I wish I could say that my kids don’t need electronic devices on holidays, but unfortunately they do! I invested in a Media share, years ago and it is a Godsend. It’s a small portable device that creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. BTW it is good for adults too!

travel gadgets

 
See more here
 

 

 

Havaianas Luna sandals – £14.99

I never travel without these – they are so versatile! The support around your heel allows you to wear them at any time, even for long walks. They don’t flop, they never fall off and they are even dressy enough to wear at night time – well depending on where you are going 😉. I have them in two colours and I bring them everywhere!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Ultra Powerful Power bank – £22.99

Most of you may already have power banks, but are they much good? Do you just about manage to charge one device before the battery dies? This extremely powerful powerbank could charge an iPhone 8 nine times or a Samsung Galaxy 6 times! Check out the reviews if you still need convincing.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Portable steamer – £24.99

Not only is this portable steamer great to bring on holidays, it can be really useful at home too. It looks bigger than some of the others on the market but don’t let that put you off – it is actually lighter ( 721g )  than most of its more expensive competitors. Say goodbye to irons and to creased clothes on holidays!

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Noise cancelling head phones – £129.94

These are a Godsend for travelling. You can literally hear no outside noise! There are various types so makes sure you select the correct pair for Apple or Android products and choose ear pods or ear phones – depending on personal taste.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

Power Strip with 3 USB charging ports and 3 power sockets – £13.95

If, like me, you never have enough travel adaptors with you – this is going to change your life! Not only does this have 3 USB ports but it also means you only have to bring one travel adaptor on holidays. No more arguing over who’s phone is charging or when you need it to dry your hair! Incidentally you know the way there are never plugs near a mirror in a hotel room? Not a problem anymore, – simply plug the extension cable in and bring it into the bathroom with you.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Samsonsite light-shock cabin case – £233

I know these are expensive, but they are SO worth it! I have a this cabin case and it has saved me a fortune on checked luggage. It is so light and expandable that you can fit much more inside than a case of similar size. I have vowed to buy one for everyone in the family and never pay checked baggage fees again!

 

travel gadgets

 

See more here
 

 

Microfibre quick dry towel from £12.99

With checked baggage fees getting higher and higher, the last thing you want to waste precious luggage space on, is a beach towel! A lightweight microfibre towel is just what you need. It is quick drying, sand free and fits nicely into a small beach bag! There are various ones to choose from, like this one from Amazon, but I love Tesalate towels. They are more expensive but are the best beach towel on the market. This is a lovely treat for yourself or a friend who loves to travel.

unique travel gifts
 

See more here
 
Read: 10 Unique Travel Gifts for People Who  Love to Travel
 

 

 

6 Packing cubes – £19.95

Organise your outfits, separate clean clothes from dirty and save on space, packing cubes are essential for frequent travellers. This set contains six separate cubes with a mesh top for easy identification of items.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Travel pillow, mask & ear plugs – £11.99

This travel pillow, mask and ear plugs set comes in a tidy bag that can hook on to your suitcase. I can’t tell you the amount of travel pillows that I have bought that don’t hook onto my case and they end up being a nuisance! The specialist hump designed neck pillow provides 360 degree next and head support to help prevent side-to-side swaying and also deflates so can fit every easily into your hand bag.

travel gadgets

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Small Cross body leather hand bag – £25.99

I have a small cross body black bag similar to this one and I never travel without it. I feel much safer walking around with a cross body bag than with a shoulder bag. To save on luggage space make sure you buy one that can double up as a bag for going out at night time – hence the black leather choice.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Portable Luggage Scales – £7.59

This can be a lifesaver on holidays. No longer need to worry if your suitcase is over weight. This one is also so light (90g) that it is easy to bring with you. This is one of the best travel gadgets you can have.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

New Kindle PaperWhite – £89.99

Did you know that the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is thinner, lighter, waterproof and comes with twice the storage? It’s the perfect companion for a long haul flight or for lazy days by the pool.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Personalised luggage tags – £5.99

For the man or woman who has everything? These leather personalised luggage tags are the perfect stocking filler.

travel gadgets

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Travel Gadget / Cable Bag – £15.99

For anyone who travels with lots of gadgets or with kids who have phones, tablets etc – this will save your life. With separate pouches for phone cables, powerbanks, memory cards and charges, you will never leave home without it.

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Drawstring Make Up Bag – £6.98

Say goodbye to bringing two or more cosmetic bags with you on holidays, this lazy drawstring bag holds everything! And not only that it is easy to use, no more rooting to try to find your night cream, everything is easily spotted once you open the bag. It also has two zipped pouches which are ideal for jewellery or hair clips etc.

travel gadgets

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Mavic Air Drone from DJI – £769

Drones have become massively popular in recent years and would make a terrific gift for someone who is into photography and wants to get pictures from a different angle. This drone is fantastic and lightweight too, folding down to pack away neatly in its own carry case. It will produce crisp video footage and beautiful photographs and is the ideal gift for the amateur pilot/photographer in your life. Oh and its available in a range of pretty colours too!

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 

Canon G1X MkII – £499

For the budding photographer, blogger or vlogger in your life, this is the camera to have. Both powerful and compact, the G1X MkII packs a punch. Taking beautiful still images and also capable of shooting full 1080HD video for those all important YouTube and Facebook moments. You can even control the camera remotely with your phone using WiFi. Click below to check out all the details.

travel gadgets
 
See more here
 

 

 

Portable Travel WiFi Hotspot – £99.99

When you need to stay connected whilst abroad and need to keep the phone bill down, this device is invaluable. It is simple to use, is lightweight and easily transportable and because it is unlocked you can just purchase a data card from whatever country you are in and just pop it in to the SIM card holder – it couldn’t be easier. Never be disconnected again!

travel gadgets

See more here
 

 

 
I hope you like my top twenty travel gadgets and that they help you on your next trip. Note this post contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission if you purchase something, but at no additional cost to you.

Like Travel Tips? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

Travel

Ten Great New Year’s Eve Hotel Offers in Ireland

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If you’re looking to escape the age old problem of making plans for New Year’s, why not skip all the rigmarole and plan a luxurious escape for yourself. Check out this list of ten great New Year’s Eve hotel offers in Ireland which will hopefully provide you with some inspiration.

 

Every year the same debate always pops up; “what shall we do for New Years?” More often than not, this normally pops up just a couple of days before and everyone is already exhausted from Christmas. Instead of falling into the same traps, why not plan a bit ahead this year? If you look around even now, there are lots of great New Year’s Eve hotel offers in Ireland to be had. The below list aren’t in any particular order, they are all four stars and they are spread all around this beautiful Ireland of ours. Enjoy! 🙂

Treacys Oakwood Hotel – Limerick

Price: €51pp

Shannon is more than just a river! Situated right in the heart of Shannon Town, you will find the charming Treacys Oakwood Hotel. It is just a short spin away from Bunratty Castle and has the fabulous Pierre 17 restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious meal… and a glass or two of wine. 😉

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Treacys Oakwood Hotel

 

Sneem Hotel – Kerry

Price: €58pp

Sneem Hotel is right in the middle of the stunning Ring of Kerry. You will be able to enjoy some breathtaking views and forget about all the hectic madness of the weeks previous. There is a sauna and a steam room where you will be able bring 2018 to a close in style.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Sneem Hotel

 

Ballina Manor Hotel – Mayo

Price: €54pp

Ballina Manor Hotel is a chic and stylish four-star hotel right in the heart of Ballina. It has a lovely swimming pool on site if you’re looking to take a dip and it’s location means that there is some great bars within walking distance. If you’re on the hunt for a drink and a sing-song, you won’t have to look far!

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Ballina Manor Hotel

Radisson Blu Hotel Letterkenny – Donegal

Price: €68pp

The Radisson Blu Hotel Letterkenny sits just a short walk away from the centre of the extremely colourful town of Letterkenny. Again there is a swimming pool available for patrons to spoil themselves and you will also find Glenveagh National Park just a short drive away.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Radisson Blu Hotel Letterkenny

 

Shirley Arms Hotel – Monaghan

Price: €70pp

The Shirley Arms Hotel is one of the gems of the midlands. It is a smaller hotel of only twenty-five rooms. That doesn’t mean that it’s not right up there when it comes to luxury. It’s only an hour away from Dublin and Belfast and has an amazing restaurant for those of you who like a bit of fine dining.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Shirley Arms Carrickmacross

The Beacon – Dublin

Price: €58pp

The Beacon in Dublin is a very trendy hotel that is both as far away and as close to Dublin as you want it to be. It is still only a short spin in a taxi into the centre of town if you’re looking to celebrate in a big way. It’s also just far enough away where you enjoy some intimate alone time with your loved one.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - The Beacon Dublin

Carragaline Court Hotel & Leisure Centre – Cork

Price: €61pp

The Carragaline Court offers a relaxing escape from the stresses of daily life at the best of times. During the holiday season though, its peaceful surroundings will be nothing short of a godsend. Collins Bar should be a nice place to grab some drinks and share a few laughs as midnight approaches.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Carragaline Hotel & Leisure Centre

Harlequin Hotel – Mayo

Price: €65pp

The Harlequin Hotel in Castlebar is our second offering from the beautiful county of Mayo. It’s boutique design gives off a very modern vibe and it is again just a stone’s throw away from some brilliant bars and restaurants in Castlebar. Dining Room and The PIZZA Bros are two places worth checking out.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Harlequin Hotel

 

Kingswood Hotel Citywest – Dublin

Price: €77pp

If you’re looking to escape the capital but don’t want to travel that far, you can enjoy a mini getaway in the Kingswood Hotel Citywest. Even a a few kilometers between yourself and home can give you that much needed change of scenery. This hotel is very easy on the eye and has a fantastic reputation, so why not check it out? 🙂

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Kingswood Hotel Citywest

Old Ground Hotel Ennis – Clare

Price: €70pp

I have extremely fond memories of Ennis from my childhood as we would head west every summer for our family holidays. The town just has this infectious charm that undoubtedly goes into overdrive during the holiday season. Experience this charm for yourself in a truly lovely hotel.

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Old Ground Hotel Ennis

Lough Rea Hotel & Spa – Galway

Price: €85pp

The Lough Rea Hotel & Spa is another beautiful four-star hotel that could offer you a peaceful alternative to your local pub. Its lakeside setting is highly romantic and it’s only a short two hour spin from Dublin. Don’t let this one pass you by!

Book This Hotel

New Year's Eve Hotel Offers - Lough Rea Hotel & Spa

 

A nice change of pace and a chance to spend some quality time with one of your nearest and dearest is what it’s all about. For all the investments you will probably make over the holiday season, I could guarantee you that a night away in one of the above hotels will be one that you’ll be glad that you made. 🙂

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Please note that these links are affiliate links where we receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Martin McKenna – The Travel Expert Team

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Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 20th November 2018

This weeks best travel deals

In my best travel deals this week I have winter breaks in Galway, Cyprus and Lanzarote, a trip to Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco, a cruise for solo travellers and holidays in Croatia, Cuba and Lake Garda for next Summer.

 

Best last minute:

Escape to sunny Cyprus where the temperature is currently 24 degrees! Fly direct from Dublin on the 1st of December and stay in one of the most popular hotels in Paphos, the Constantinou Bros Athena Beach Hotel. Price of €297 includes flights and a seven-night hotel stay with breakfast!  This hotel receives outstanding reviews on tripadvisor and is exceptional value for a pre Christmas break.

View flights here  €45pp

View hotel here €252pp

 

 

Best winter deal:

Save a whopping 47% on this super deal to the Cinco Plaza apartments in Lanzarote. One of the most popular complexes in Puerto del Carmen, it is ideally located in the heart of the resort. Price for flights, a seven-night stay with transfers and checked baggage included is only €359 on the 17th of January.

View offer here

 

Best family deal:

Have your kids not started school yet? Take advantage of Alfresco Holidays amazing low season offers in May or September. Spend a week at the highly rated Altominco Holiday Park, Lake Garda for only €811 on the 9th of May. Price includes flights and a 2 bedroom mobile home, based on a 2 adults and 2 children sharing. Have more than 2 kids? Add on the extra flight cost of €162 and pay the supplement of £30 for a three bed mobile home!

View flights here €158pp

View accommodation here £159 2 bedroom / £189 3 bedroom

 

 

Best long haul deal:

This amazing two-centre holiday combines a three-night stay in the vibrant city of Toronto with a seven-night, all inclusive stay in Cuba. Price of €1398 includes all flights, airport transfers, baggage, Cuban visa and all meals & drinks in your hotel in Cuba.

View offer here

 

 

 

Best city break:

Why see one city when you can see three? Visit Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco with this amazing deal from American Sky. Price of €1099 includes all flights and hotels, a three night stay in Las Vegas, two nights in San Francisco and two nights in Los Angeles! Price includes a discount of €200 per person if you before the 30th of November.

View offer here

 

 

Best cruise:

I am regularly asked about cruises for solo travellers – so this one is for you! Fly from Dublin to New York and enjoy an overnight stay before cruising to Florida and the Bahamas for eight nights on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. Price of €1.675 includes flights, hotel stay, cruise on an all-inclusive basis and most importantly – NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT.

View offer here

 

 

Best staycation:

This deal is incredible and a great way to see the Christmas markets in Galway! The highly rated Lough Rea hotel has an amazing offer for an over-night stay. Price of €79 for two includes a double room with breakfast, late 1pm check-out, glass of wine on arrival and €20 spa credit per person with any 55-minute brochure treatment!

View offer here

 

 

Best early booking offer:

Spend Easter in the beautiful resort of Cavtat, Croatia. I stayed here a few years ago and loved it. It is just a ferry ride from Dubrovnik so you can go in as you please and avoid the crowds! Price of €496 includes direct flights on Saturday the 20th of April and a seven-night stay in the 5* Hotel Croatia, with breakfast included. I challenge you to find a better deal for Easter week than this one!

View flights here €236pp

View hotel here €260pp

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

travel deals

 

Lightening DealsLong HaulRest of the World

12 Day South African Holiday: Cape Town, The Garden Route & Safari €1969, Incl Flights, Hotels & Car Hire!

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This twelve Day South African holiday combines the iconic city of Cape Town with a road trip along the Garden Route and a two-night stay in a private Game Reserve.

 

South Africa is one of my favourite holiday destinations. I have been there twice – and I rarely go back to the same place! In fact I would go back again in a heartbeat. Where else can you find stunning scenery, captivating cities and wonderful wildlife all on one holiday? The cost of living is so low, there is only a two hour time difference (so no jet-lag) and there is so much to do. From city breaks to safaris, wine tasting to shark cage diving, and let’s not forget the amazing beaches  – a South African holiday has got it all.

South African holiday

I have teamed up with Hayes & Jarvis, the luxury long haul specialists, who offer bespoke holidays to South Africa and beyond. They have been tailor making dream holidays for over 65 years and are a sister company to American Holidays. You can read more about my thoughts on Hayes & Jarvis long haul holidays from Ireland here. They feature many South African holidays on their website, but I liked this 12 day South African holiday because it is similar to the trip that I took earlier this year, and also happens to be malaria free. I liked the price too 😉 – €2299 including flights, hotels, transfers, car-hire and all meals on safari, this is great value for such a superb trip. I have outlined the itinerary below, but bear in mind you can add or change it to suit your requirements, simply talk to the expert team at Hayes & Jarvis and they will tailor make an itinerary for you.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cape Town : 3 Nights

Your first port of call is the iconic city of Cape Town where you will be staying in the 5* Hilton Cape Town City Centre hotel.  Located right in the centre of town, just minutes from the colourful houses of Bo Kaap and with easy access to the Waterfront, this hotel is highly rated on tripadvisor and ideally located to explore all that Cape Town has to offer. Climb Table Mountain, visit Robben Island and drive the Cape Peninsula Drive,  there is so much to do here – you can even paraglide off Signal Hill if you are feeling adventurous!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hermanus :  2 Nights

You will then set off on one of the world’s best road trips along the Garden Route. Your first stop is Hermanus, the hub of South Africa’s Whale Coast. If you want to go whale watching, this is the place to do it. Note whale watching is seasonal ( optimum time June – December ) so if you are planning a visit outside this time, talk to the staff in Hayes & Jarvis and they will recommend an alternative stop for you. Perhaps a visit to the Winelands? 🍷You will be staying in the highly rated Auberge Burgundy Guesthouse, which is located in the historic centre of Hermanus. With craft shops, art galleries and restaurants on your doorstep and a swimming pool on site, this friendly guesthouse is a great choice to experience South Africa’s Whale Coast.

south african holiday

Oudtshoorn:  2 Nights

Leave Hermanus behind to drive onwards to Oudsthoorn, in the Klein Karoo area of South Africa. Renowned as being the ostrich capital of the world, it actually offers so much more. There are several wildlife safaris available here. You can meet meerkats, go cage diving with crocodiles (who knew that was even a thing?) or visit the hugely impressive Cango Caves – Africa’s largest show cave system.  You will be staying in the De Opstal Country Lodge, a restored lodge offering a unique stay in original farm buildings, dating back to the 1830’s.

South African holiday

Knysna: 2 Nights

This small town is one of the most popular on the Garden Route. With stunning beaches, a trendy harbour and a temperate climate, it is a great place to stop at any time of year. There are countless outdoor activities available, from kayaking to paragliding but if you just want to chill out and relax, head down to the waterfront area and enjoy some nice cocktails with seaviews. You will be staying in the 5* St. James of Kynsna Country House Hotel. Located right on the lagoon, this family run hotel offers luxury suites with superb service.

South African holiday

Kariega Game Reserve : 2 Nights

Saving the best for last, you will spend your final two nights in a private game reserve on the Eastern Cape. There is nothing like being in the African bush searching for wildlife, wondering if you will see the elusive leopard or a herd of elephants. It is one of the most incredible travel experiences I have had and it is world’s apart from every day life. Catching up with fellow travellers over dinner, wondering if they saw the same wildlife, and listening to stories from the expert rangers will fill you with lifelong memories.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Set in over 10,000 hectares of African wilderness, the family run and owned Kariega private game reserve offers ‘Big 5’ game viewing in an authentic African setting. You can enjoy two game drives per day or choose a river cruise, canoeing adventure or even a guided bush walk. You will be staying in a one bedroom chalet in Kariega’s Main Lodge, which has been expertly integrated into the surrounding bush and offers a large private viewing deck. It also features all mod cons such as an en-suite bathroom, satellite TV and air conditioning in the bedroom.

This itinerary is just one of many of the South African holidays that Hayes & Jarvis feature. They will also tailor make any itinerary to suit you. If you want some more beach time, wine time or want an adrenaline filled trip – let their expert staff know and they will arrange it for you.

 

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Or visit HayesandJarvis.ie for more travel inspiration.

 

This South Africa holiday post was sponsored by Hayes & Jarvis but all views as always are my own.

 

Sarah

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In The MediaTravel

Long Haul Holidays On a Budget

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Looking for an tropical holiday without breaking the bank? From Miami to the Maldives, check out my travel tips and best travel deals to find the perfect long haul holidays on a budget.

 

The trend for Irish holiday-makers seeking more authentic experiences and adventure holidays is definitely on the rise! There are now over 40 direct flights each week to the Emirates and Asia from Dublin airport, which is resulting in very competitive airfares. Long haul destinations grew by 19% in 2017 from Dublin airport alone! New direct flights to Hong Kong and Beijing have opened up Asia even further and Qatar Airways direct links to Chang Mai in Thailand and Penang in Malaysia means you only need one stop to get to these tropical destinations. But is it possible to find long haul holidays on a budget?

The biggest mistake people make when booking long haul holidays is not comparing package deals with holidays that are booked independently. Sometimes specialist tour operators will be able to offer cheaper packages than if you bought a flight and hotel separately. They may book a larger number of rooms in a particular hotel or get discounted rates from an airline which will offer you a better rate than if you booked direct.

 

Similarly with airlines, low cost carriers, like Norwegian charge high amounts for baggage, allocated seating, even meals on long haul flights. Compare these with airlines such as Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines who include a generous baggage allowance, all meals and even drinks on board. My advice is always compare like with like when booking any holiday. Here are some long haul holidays on a budget that I have found with travel agents and tour operators in Ireland. With most of these holidays you can add on extra nights, either with the travel agent before travel, or decide to book independent options and tours locally.

 

 

 

 

 

Sri Lanka, Flights, Transfers & 4* All Inclusive Hotel, 7 Nights, €1169

 

I climbed #sigiriya today, all 1202 steps 😱 It’s often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world and once you climb it you will see why. It was a fantastic experience and I’m delighted I made it to the top! How the monks carried up stones to build their city in the 5th century is mindblowing! The climb wasn’t that difficult but it was quite scary in parts. The fact that it is a holy day here didn’t help, it was packed! Check out my stories for more 👆 . . . . #srilanka #sigiriyarock #sigiriyasrilanka #wonderoftheworld #wonder #climb #climbing #hiking #proud #travelblogger #irishtravelblogger #asianwonders #wearetravelgirls #picoftheday #dreamdestinations #passionpassport @srilanka @srilanka.travel @destination_srilanka @turkishairlines @travelcounsellorsireland #widenyourworld #lovemyjob #monks #monastery

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This is a great deal to experience one of South East Asia’s real treasures. The price includes flights and a seven-night stay with all meals and drinks included. I went to Sri Lanka last year and loved it. There is so much to see and do, you really need to look beyond the beaches. I suggest booking this beach week but adding on at least 4 / 5 days in the cultural centre. This can be done with Tropical Sky at the time of booking or directly with a tour company locally. There are eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka (FYI Ireland has three), thousands of elephants, hundreds of leopards, tea plantations, amazing food and it is so cheap on the ground. The island practically screams adventure. I climbed the 660 foot tall Sigiriya rock fortress  (1202 steps ) and felt a great sense of achievement, you can read my highlights of Sri Lanka here.

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Thailand: Flights, Transfers & 4* Khao Lak, Hotel, 7 Nights, €1049

long haul holidays on a budget

Luxury long haul specialists Hayes & Jarvis, have some great deals to top class hotels in Thailand for next year. My personal favourite is the highly rated Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villas in Khao Lak. This is the perfect spot for couples who are looking for a relaxing holiday on a superb beach. Price includes airport transfers, an upgrade to a superior room and a local free Thai cookery class. Flights are via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific so if you wish to add on a few nights in Hong Kong or in any other part of Thailand just talk to the staff in Hayes & Jarvis. Check out the reviews on tripadvisor if you still need convincing.

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Mauritius : Flights, Transfers & 4* All Inclusive Hotel, 7 Nights, €1339

luxurious but affordable resorts in the indian ocean

Mauritius, one of the Indian Ocean’s most idyllic islands offers year round sunshine, white sandy beaches, but surprisingly so much more! Explore the hidden waterfalls at the heart of the jungle and go in search of some of its extraordinary wildlife. Veranda Pointe aux Biches is a hotel that epitomises laidback luxury –  guests are encouraged to go barefoot during their stay. Feel relaxed in the wellness lounge, enjoy some spa treatments or try the host of watersports available. If you fancy a change of scene, you can pop into the nearby village of Grand Baie, which has a wide selection of restaurants, shops and bars. Highly rated on tripadvisor, with all meals and drinks included in the price, this is excellent value for such a great hotel.

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Maldives: 4* Cinnamon Dhonveli, All Inclusive, Flights & Speedboat Transfers, €1949

luxurious but affordable resorts in the indian ocean

If a trip to the Maldives is on your bucket list but your bank balance is telling you not to go – then this is the place for you! The Cinnamon Dhonveli is one of the best value ALL INCLUSIVE resorts in the Maldives. With all meals and drinks included in the price of your stay, you will need very little spending money. Located just 25 minutes by speedboat from Male airport and surrounded by stunning views of the Indian Ocean, this tropical island is highly rated on tripadvisor and is extraordinary value for a week in the Maldives!

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Check out this post for more all inclusive resorts in the Indian Ocean

 

 

 

 

Flights & 2 Night Stays in New York & Miami & 10 night Caribbean Cruise €1999

long haul holidays on a budget

New York and Miami, two of our favourite American cities are included in this fourteen night trip of a lifetime. Enjoy a two night stay in Times Square New York followed by a two night stay in South Beach Miami, before boarding MSC Divina for a ten-night Caribbean cruise. Visit Antigua, Martinique, St Maarten and lots more. With numerous dining options including Eataly, a Broadway-size theatre and an infinity pool that offers superb Caribbean seaviews, you will be spoilt for choice for things to do.

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Hopefully one of my long haul holidays on a budget will suit you but if you still need inspiration, check out all my long haul destination guides here. All prices are correct at the date of issue, 15th November, but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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DESTINATIONSEurope

Insight Vacations’ Europe Collection Includes 96 Incredible Journeys With Experiences That Money Can’t Buy

Insight Vacations dining 2

Sip a glass of wine in a 17th century wine estate overlooking Lake Geneva, enjoy VIP access to the Sistine Chapel or make a meal with Lorenzo in his restaurant kitchen in Orvieto. There are so many incredible experiences in the new Insight Vacations Europe and Britain collection – which one will you choose?

 

I am just back from a trip to Puglia in Italy, a place that I fell completely in love with. So when I was asked by Insight Vacations to review their 2019 brochure, the first thing I noticed was their Country Roads of Southern Italy tour. A quick glance at the itinerary and I couldn’t help but see that they included a Dine-At-Home dinner in the fairytale town of Alberobello – a town that I stayed in.

 

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Dine-At-Home dinners are regularly included on Insight Vacations tours. In this case you are welcomed into a local family home in Alberobello, where an Italian Nonna (grandmother in Italian) makes the regions traditional dish of orecchiette pasta. I was intrigued but also amazed that in all my searching for ‘things to do in Puglia’, I hadn’t seen that as an option anywhere. The reason is that Insight Vacations offer unique Insight experiences like this, that money can’t buy. I wish I had known about this before I booked…

insight vacations

Insight Experiences

There are many reasons to choose Insight Vacations for your next escorted tour, but these unique experiences are one of my favourite. There are over 70 Insight Experiences throughout 96 journeys in their new 2019 Europe and Britain collection. Enjoy VIP fast-track entry to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum, go sailing with an oyster farmer and taste the freshest seafood in Croatia or experience Arctic Norway with a dog-sled champion. And the best part is that all of these experiences are included in the cost of your holiday.

Top class Hotels

Insight choose first class hotels in premium locations too. In their Northern Lights of Scandinavia tour you will enjoy drinks in a real Ice bar and watch the aurora borealis through your hotel’s glass ceiling – how amazing is that? When you visit Venice you will stay beside the canals and in the Douro Valley you will enjoy a night in the 18th-century Pinhao’s Vintage House. Their 12 day Greek Island Hopper tour not only explores the best of Athens but it also includes stays in luxury hotels in Santorini and Mykonos.

Insight Vacations

Relaxed Itineraries

Another personal favourite of mine is that Insight Vacations tours are not rushed. Their ‘Easy Pace’ itineraries have a minimum of three nights in the one place. Whatever trip you choose you will see a number of ‘relaxed starts’, which means tours don’t start till after 9 am.

Get off the beaten track

If you want to venture off the beaten track and skip the well known tourist trail, select one of their ‘ Country Roads‘ tours. Expect lots of adventure, home cooked meals with locals and many interesting Insight experiences.  However if there is a particular festival you want to visit, Oktoberfest, Bastille Day or perhaps the Christmas Markets – Insight will have tours scheduled around these special events too.

Insight vacations

Authentic Dining

Authentic dining is a big part of an Insight Vacations tour and I love the variety they offer. From farm-to-table meals with locals or a pintxos foodie tour in San Sebastian, to an elegant evening at the 5* Ashford Castle – each tour offers an authentic dining experience to match your destination. There is also a welcome dinner with drinks on arrival as well as a celebration dinner at the end of your trip. You can also choose ‘freestyle’ dining if you want to dine alone some evenings.

Variety of tours available

Whether you want a 26 day tour of Europe or a 4 day tour of Malta, Insight Vacations have you covered with their Europe & Britain collection. Their Easy Pace Russia is one of my favourites as you get to spend three nights in Moscow and four nights in St Petersburg, travelling by Sapsan train between the two. With new direct flights from Dublin airport – there has never been a better time to go.

Insight Vacations

Northern Spain is also another favourite of mine, possibly because it includes wine tasting in Rueda 🍷.  You also get the opportunity to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal in Gijón. You will meet Flor, a local of the area, who will source and prepare a typical meal for you. If that’s not enough you also visit the big cities of San Sebastian, Barcelona and Madrid.

Madrid, The Travel Expert, Sarah Slattery

With the exception of a quick over-night stay in Geneva, Switzerland is a country I haven’t properly visited yet. The snow-capped Alpine peaks look very inviting and it is certainly on my wish-list! On Insight’s Glorious Switzerland tour you ride the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway to the upmarket town of Zermatt and travel the route of the Glacier Express. You also meet a Swiss ranger on your way to the summit of Mount Stanserhorn where you learn all about the local wildlife.

Insight Vacations

As the award-winning global leader in premium escorted journeys, no matter which tour you choose, with Insight Vacations you can rest assured it will be top class. Their guests rated them 4.5 out of 5 based on 11402 independent user reviews received during the past year – that is a remarkable achievement. The small group sizes on spacious coaches with high quality accommodation and authentic dining, means you are getting the best that money can buy, and then some. In fact as I have previously mentioned, many of these Insight Experiences are not for sale.

 

You can save 10% off any Insight Vacations tour with their popular Early Payment Discount. This is available if you book and pay in full by 28 February 2019.  For more details contact an Insight Expert on 1800 98 98 98 or visit your local Travel Agent.

 

This post was sponsored by Insight Vacations but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

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