Why we’re travelling to holiday hotspots out of season!
Chalkmarks: Manchester, England, November 2023

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 3rd November 2023

HELLO there, it’s travel-time Friday, when we share the wonders of exploring the world. We’re not on the beaches of Bermuda this week but on the streets of Manchester – another city straight out of the Roman Empire. We’ve been gaggin’ to come to this northern metropolis of trams, music, canals and a couple of football teams, for a while. We’re in just for the weekend, but now we’ve finally arrived it’s tipping it down. All. Day. Long. It’s grim. It’s not called the wet city for nothing. Now what? What can we do when it’s raining? The Arndale? It’s tempting. We are not massively against the idea of sitting in a pub and drinking Vimto. What would Liam Gallagher do? Ahh, yes, we could listen to some music. Any suggestions? At least we got this week’s travel headlines sorted. Cheers!

Be here now!

Levelling up: Never mind summer holidays, we are now trying to take late spring and autumn holidays to save a few quid. This is to avoid paying the higher, eye-watering prices travel firms charge for trips during the school holidays in July and August. According to the survey, by travel body Abta, many of us are booking a getaway in what the trade call the “shoulder season”. We are travelling more in May, June and October. We are also choosing more city breaks (40 per cent in the last year) than beach holidays (34 per cent in 2023).  Speaking from Bodrum, Turkey, Abta boss Mark Tanzer said holidaymakers were “very conscious of value” and were choosing to book earlier or later in the year.

Hotel price shocker: The cost of staying in a UK hotel has risen by 13 per cent this year according to consumer magazine Which? They say it’s becoming increasing hard to find even a budget bed for less than a £100 a night. They found the average price paid at Mercure hotels was £106 but thankfully at Travelodge you can still get a room for £79. They said: “With hotel prices rising 13% in the past year, even a poky room in a budget chain with rubbish wi-fi will set you back £80”.

The worst hotel revealed: Also, once again, Which? rated Britannia Hotels the worst hotel chain for the 11th year in a row – with a score of 48 per cent. The best hotels were Hotel Indigo and Hub by Premier Inn, both scoring 77 per cent. For the full list, click here. Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel said: “When you’re booking your next trip, make sure to take time to research your options carefully, and read reviews from a range of sources to see what other guests thought of their stay.”

Travel money: Travel agents got the biggest pay rise – up 20.5 per cent this year. How come? According to analysis by the BBC this is likely because of a rebound following the pandemic – when the travel industry effectively closed down, but then reopened with firms having to quickly recruit staff and offer higher wages to deal with demand. The stats say despite the high pay increase overall their earnings at £29,618 are below the national average of £35k. 

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

Ice to see you! This week easyJet started direct flights from Gatwick to Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland. This port city is ready to rival Reykjavík for fun in the midnight sun! If you love fjords, volcanic landscapes, thermal spas, humpback whales, Eurovision, super-Jeeping, skiing, and the Northern Lights, it’s all up here. Did we mention the Icelandic fish and chips! Read our piece here in the i newspaper

Discover the moon: When we think of Iceland, we think ice. We think cold and freezing. But we were here in June and it’s green. It’s 17C. It’s summer! Plus here they have the midnight sun – that’s 24hr daylight. We need our sunglasses on all day long. We travelled to the northern city of Akureyri – situated on the waterfront with the white peaks of the Eyjafjörður fjord in the background. This place is a gem. It’s filled with unique volcanic landscape where Nasa astronauts train, there are natural thermal spas where the water is 40C, there’s waterfalls, lava fields, puffins and a Eurovision museum. In the winter it becomes the best spot for skiing and seeing the Northern Lights. And all this before you have done anything interesting, like super Jeeping. If you’re very lucky (we weren’t) you’ll see humpback whales. But there’s more. Best of all it’s just three hours from the UK. Did I mention there’s Icelandic fish and chips? Check out our pix of the trip.

Short notice: Glastonbury tickets were due to go on sale yesterday but have been pushed back for two weeks due to a registration glitch say the organisers. Coach tickets are now up for grabs on Thursday 16th November, and general tickets will be sold on Sunday 19th November. The music event at Worthy Farm on 26th June to Sunday 30 still has no headlining act. Could it be Madonna? And don’t forget ticket prices have also gone up this year to £360. Here’s more in the i.

Conference calls: It’s travel week in London, starting on Monday. The whole world will be there selling their countries at the three-day World Travel Market at Excel. The perfect week ahead. Look out for us. 

This time last year: Football strikers: Heathrow walkouts will hit World Cup flights… but at least the trains are running! 700 ground handling staff at Heathrow Airport announced a three-day walkout… Unite union said the industrial action involved a dispute over pay with its members working for Dnata and Menzies… Elsewhere, the last plane landed at Doncaster Sheffield Airport – which was closing as it lacked “financial viability”… A Swiss train snaked its way through the Alps smashed the Guinness World Record this week for the longest passenger train… The Rhaetian Railway pulled 100 carriages – 1.2-mile long – through the scenic Unesco World Heritage route from Preda to Berguen that takes in 22 tunnels, 48 bridges and a curved viaduct… Time Out had the pictures… Ticket and coach packages for Glastonbury 2023 sold out within minutes… Norwich was named the top spot in the country to find buried treasure.

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