Aaron King 18 January 2022
Every year we create uniquely personal travel experiences for hundreds of thousands of people – generating lots of news stories, testimonials and recommendations along the way. Take a look at what’s right happening now in and around Travel Counsellors!’
Aaron King 18 January 2022
Couldn't recommend Nicola enough extremely knowledgeable and an easy person to speak to and deal with.
Diarmaid O'Hanlon 18 January 2022
Gail deals with all requests, bookings, etc. very professionally and is a pleasure to deal with.
Chris Dermody 13 January 2022
Gail is so friendly and chatty and she made me feel very at ease when dealing with her. She also has great patience!! I did a bit of tweaking on my holidays and she was always professional and calm. I would highly recommend using this service.
Deborah van der rijst 10 January 2022
Deborah was absolutely amazing when I had to book flights urgently to South Africa. She took time to find me the best flights and also to explain every step I had to take during my journey. Thank you very much for an amazing service!
S O'Neill 09 January 2022
Jeanette has made this holiday the easiest holiday we have ever booked, Jeanette looked after everything and we are so looking forward to our trip.
Gareth Johnson 05 January 2022
Gail was amazing from start to finish. I don't think I will book another trip again without using Gails services. Thanks so much.
P Galsworthy 20 December 2021
Katrina has been exceptionally efficient with my travel booking needs. She gives me the utmost confidence that everything is being handled and I have full clarity on what she is proposing as my best options.
O McCaffrey 20 December 2021
I couldn’t recommend Katrina enough from start to finish she will give every option to ensure the customer is 100% happy.
M Cassells 20 December 2021
I have recommended Katrina. She knows her job and delivers in a helpful and friendly way.
T O'Donnell 20 December 2021
Katrina went to great lengths to find our preferred destination and her patience and understanding was great.
Eimear Keeley 17 December 2021
Great help and really accurate and consistent.
Desiree Pierce 17 December 2021
Aisling always goes the extra mile and is so helpful - we have recommended Aisling to a number of friends who all say the same thing!
Ciara Thorburn 17 December 2021
Aisling was amazing, she was so helpful, and I would definitely recommend her!
Conor Gallagher 17 December 2021
Aisling is so helpful. Takes away all the hassle of research and coordination of flights dates and accommodation. She knows what we like and finds it with no fuss and within budget. Why would we use anyone else!
Phelim/Susan Keogan 17 December 2021
Just wanted to say how delighted we are the trip you’ve arranged for us! Thank you for all you involvement in making it so easy for us xx
by Travel Counsellors on 29 December 2017
It’s a vast and exciting world out there — and there are so many tempting destinations to choose from. If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip in 2018 to celebrate something special, we have put together the ultimate travel bucket list for the year ahead.
Whether you are preparing to celebrate a big anniversary in 2018, or simply want to treat yourself to something special, the start of the year is the best time to consider the possibilities ahead.
“Travel is one of the best ways to spend time and money, and we are now seeing more and more people take up the opportunity to experience once-in-a-lifetime destinations,” says Travel Counsellor Mary Foyle. “I am seeing a lot of clients in their 50s and 60s who want to mark their retirement or celebrate a big anniversary by ticking off a travel bucket list adventure.”
From gliding along the rivers of Mekong Delta in Vietnam, to wandering the streets of Argentina’s bustling and colourful capital Buenos Aires – there's no shortage of countries to discover.
Here are our top five bucket list destinations for 2018:
VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA
At the moment, Vietnam and Cambodia are popular, and they will only grow in popularity over the coming year. In Vietnam, set sail through the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay; tour the Cu Chi tunnels; and take a trip to the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta, home to floating markets and rice paddies. In Hue, the old Imperial Capital of Vietnam, visit the beautiful seven-storey Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the Perfume River; while in bustling and beautiful Hanoi, see the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter and the serene Hoan Kiem Lake.
In Cambodia, we recommend the epic temples in Angkor, the largest religious monument in the world; while in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, brace yourself for the heartbreak of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, chronicling the Cambodian genocide.
And of course, it is not all about history and culture. Both countries have amazing beaches offering plenty of options for a bit of R&R after all the sightseeing!
South Africa is the ‘in’ place now. It offers fantastic value for money due to the weak Rand versus the Euro. Start off in Cape Town – there’s just a two-hour time difference between Cape Town and Ireland – and head off on the cable car up Table Mountain. UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island is also a must – where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison. It is wise to pre-book as the boats are very full in high season.
If wine is your thing, South Africa is the place to be and towns like Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl offer beautiful boutique lodges in the heart of the wine region. Consider the Garden Route National Park, with its spectacular mountain scenery, and for a sandier option, try the pristine Robberg Beach in Plettenberg Bay.
Of course, a trip to South Africa cannot be experienced without a safari adventure and there are lots of options available to view the ‘Big 5’ in the many national parks throughout this magnificent country.
Argentina is all about variety. Experience the sophisticated capital city of Buenos Aires, taking in the colourful area of La Boca where the famous pedestrianised street, the Caminito, is full of local cafés where tango artists perform. Visit the Recoleta Cemetery where Argentina's iconic first lady Eva Peron is buried, and spend some time at the Evita Peron Museum. Head to the fabulous Bariloche – also known as the ‘little Switzerland’ of Argentina, with its pretty Alpine architecture and picture-postcard views of the snow-capped Andes.
Other highlights include the majestic glacier region at El Calafate in Patagonia, a hiker’s paradise, the Mendoza region for wine lovers and the thundering Iguazu Falls in the north of the country on the Brazilian border.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Australia and New Zealand are high on people’s bucket lists at the moment. Many of our clients have kids and grandchildren living there and tend to do a big extended trip once before reverting to a flight only every two years.
If you concentrate on the South Island, you will not be disappointed. Think Kerry but with bigger mountains and bigger lakes – the scenery is spectacular. The entire country is geared to healthy, outdoor living with well laid-out walking tracks and cycle paths everywhere.
Experience a helicopter trip over the glaciers and Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand at almost 3,800m, and hike in the Abel Tasman National Park from remote Anchorage Bay to Marahau, passing beautiful white, sandy, deserted beaches with crystal clear water and surrounded by the dense rainforest.
Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, is in total contrast. The town is heaving with great shopping, restaurants and pubs and adrenaline sports such as bungee jumping, paragliding, and white water rafting.
Australia offers a huge variety of experiences – great cities like Sydney and Melbourne, fabulous beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, the aboriginal cultural centre at Uluru, wildlife, and scenic drives like the Great Ocean Road.
Choose to fly from place-to-place or drive and try a camper van. Visiting Australia is a great opportunity to tick off lots of boxes – if you have the time, stopover in South East Asia on the way out, and in the USA on the way home.
Like so many other countries in Asia, Sri Lanka has it all – history, culture, beaches, wildlife, weather and lovely people. It is a year-round destination with two distinct monsoon seasons – the south-western monsoon between May and December and the north-eastern monsoon between October and January. Visit the cultural triangle at Anuradhapura, discover lush plantations of Ceylon tea, get up close to the elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and watch them being fed and bathed, and climb 1,200 steps to the top of the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, the stunning Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Afterwards, chill out at one of the fabulous beaches on the west coast at Trincomalee or at one of the many beaches on the south coast.
Are any of these destinations on your list for 2018?
Travel Counsellors on 06 July 2016
Your Travel Counsellor in app form!
We know how important your Travel Counsellor is to you for all of your travel plans. And now you can even take yours on holiday with you – in a virtual sense anyway! my TC is a personal extension of your Travel Counsellor that will always be with you, wherever you are in the world.
How does the my TC app work?
my TC provides personalised information about all of your bookings, and gives you a countdown of the days until departure.
During your travels, my TC provides access to all of your travel documentation and itineraries, even when you’re offline. You can also contact your Travel Counsellor anytime, anywhere at the touch of a button. It couldn’t be easier!
Want to let your friends and family know about your holiday? With my TC you can share your journey with others on social media. And if you’d like to shout about the fantastic service you received from your Travel Counsellor, you can share their contact details with your friends and family too!
Watch the video to find out more about my TC!
Travel Counsellors on 04 July 2016
All-inclusive resorts tend to divide opinion among holidaymakers, don’t they? Some travellers love the idea of a holiday where (almost) everything is included in the price. Others shy away from all-inclusive, swayed by stories of bland buffet food.
If you’ve never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before, we’ve chosen eight incredible destinations to give you a taster of the delights you can find there. Some of the resorts we’re featuring are adult-only, some offer complimentary excursions, while others include plenty of activities to keep little ones occupied day and night. The thing they share in common? All of these holidays offer a spectacular experience that might just change the way you think about all-inclusive resorts…
Lily Beach Resort & Spa
Why we like it: The Premium Plan includes two excursions per person, with trips such as coral garden snorkeling or fishing on offer. Snorkeling equipment and non-motorized water sports are also complimentary, which means you can take advantage of those twinkling turquoise waters. The kids’ club is included too, helping to keep little ones happy and entertained.
Snorkelling in the Maldives
Marquis Los Cabos All-Inclusive Resort & Spa
Why we like it: A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, this elegant, adult-only resort offers an exquisite all-inclusive holiday. Activities include wine tasting, dance lessons, archery, and movies under the stars (if you can drag yourself away from one of the three infinity pools). There are six à la carte restaurants to delight foodies, and 24-hour room service is included too.
Whale watching in Los Cabos
Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
Why we like it: This sophisticated, adult-only resort set in 500 acres on Great Exuma is ideal for anyone looking for activities alongside a breathtaking beach location. Tee off on the Greg Norman-designed course, attend a yoga class, play a game of tennis – there’s plenty to keep the restless occupied. Unlimited scuba diving and water sports make this luxurious resort a perfect place for water babies too.
Scuba diving in the Bahamas
Why we like it: Bright yellow against the white snow in the Aconcagua Valley, Ski Portillo is a spectacular all-inclusive ski resort. Lift passes, entertainment and meals are included, as are yoga classes and use of the heated pool and fitness centre. Day care for children aged four to seven is also complimentary.
Twin Farms, Vermont
Why we like it: Set in 300 acres and with 20 accommodations (from cottages to suites), there’s an amazing variety of activities on offer at this all-inclusive resort. Twin Farms offers a whole host of fantastic outdoor adventures, including cross-country skiing on private trails, on-site fly fishing, ice skating and canoeing. Picnics, cocktails and canapés, farm-to-table dinners and wine pairings are all included and will make foodies very, very happy.
Vermont in the Autumn
Couples Resort Negril
Why we like it: Almost every activity you can think of is included in your stay at Couples Negril. Indulge in scuba diving, sailing and golf, or book onto one of the daily excursions – they’re all part of your stay. And classes in everything from basket weaving to cooking to salsa dancing are all included at this stunning adult-only resort.
White sands and blue seas in Jamaica
Club Med Kabira Resort
Why we like it: This family-friendly, all-inclusive resort is nestled next to the Pacific Ocean and offers a huge range of activities for little ones and parents. As a starter, try circus activities, windsurfing, archery, snorkelling and paddling the waves in a glass bottom kayak! The kids’ clubs (divided into age groups) are also complimentary.
Kabira Bay, Okinawa
Why we like it: Small ships, ocean-view suites complete with butler service, and fine dining make cruising with Silversea a wonderful all-inclusive experience. Your butler stocks (and refills) your mini-bar with your preferred drinks, in-suite dining and 24-hour room service are complimentary, and there’s a fantastic entertainment programme. Some of the shore excursions are included too.
Silver Muse in New York
Travel Counsellors on 16 June 2016
Heading to the beach with children in tow? We know it’s important to find a child-friendly beach, so we’ve asked our Travel Counsellors for their recommendations. From shallow waters for little ones to dip their toes into, to food stalls to keep everyone with full tummies, here’s 7 child-friendly beaches our Travel Counsellors think you should visit!
Canet-Plage (near Perpignan) France
Recommended by Irish Travel Counsellor Gail Buckley: “The beach has fine white sand and it’s really long and wide. You can walk out far into the sea and the water stays shallow. And there’s not a rock or stone in sight!”
Santo Tomas, Menorca
Recommended by UK Travel Counsellor Claire Perry: “The beach at Santo Tomas, Menorca, is amazing for little ones, as is Son Bou, it’s very shallow and calm and you can walk out a good 300 meters or so before it gets deep.”
Recommended by Irish Travel Counsellor Mandy Walsh: “The beaches of the Algarve are simply perfect for families -white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters! I particularly love the area of Santa Eulalia and Albufeira as many of the hotels and resorts have direct access to the beaches along there.”
Kite Beach, Dubai
Recommended by Dubai Travel Counsellor Sharan Hussain: “Kite Beach in Dubai is fabulous for kids. There’s a children’s play area and you can watch the kite surfers.”
Gold Coast, Queensland
Recommended by Australian Travel Counsellor Kerrie Croft: “There are some fantastic beaches on the flat water Broadwater area with swimming enclosures at some key spots, such as Southport, Labrador and Paradise Point. On the southern end are Tallebudgera creek and Currumbin creek where wide creeks with sandy beaches ideal for kids flow into the surf beaches – it’s the best of both worlds close together!”
Newcastle Beach, New South Wales
Recommended by Australian Travel Counsellor Lani Symons Vaughan: “Newcastle Beach in the heart of Newcastle – it has a separate little side beach/wading pool area called the Canoe Pool which is fantastic for kids.”
Sydney area, New South Wales
Recommended by Australian Travel Counsellor Jenny Tucker: “Shelly Beach in Manly has a fabulous kiosk close by to while away the afternoon with takeaway or dine in. There are rocks to explore and you can also snorkel – it’s perfect all day until sun down. Little Manly Beach also has a kiosk close by and rocks to explore. It faces west so it’s perfect into late afternoon.”
Travel Counsellors on 19 April 2016
Love it or hate it, packing is an unavoidable part of travelling. Despite it being such a common part of our lives, there are still those select band of items which have a way of not quite making it into the suitcase. Based on the stories of our Travel Counsellors and customers, here is a list of some of the most frequently forgotten travel essentials:
How did we manage to survive before smartphones, laptops and e-readers? Leave your charger at home and you could be in for a cruel reminder. From navigation and photography to contacting family and friends back home, these devices have revolutionised the way we manage our travel experiences. We often take it for granted that there’s a charger plugged in by our bedside or next to the living room coffee table but they won’t pack themselves. Behind your passport and your tickets, there’s an argument for the humble USB charger being the next thing you pack, but even this might be useless without…
A universal plug adapter
In this modern world, what could be more annoying than arriving at your destination to the realisation that you’re not going to be able to plug in your laptop, phone or hairdryer because the wall sockets don’t match your plugs. Your Travel Counsellor can advise you of the sort of plug sockets you can expect, but also the power supply, so you’ll never be left powerless while on your travels. Many rely on the reception desk or concierge at the hotel for having a set of spares for absent-minded travellers, but do you really want to rely on that being the case?
Don’t risk the consequences of missing doses of prescribed medication while you’re on holiday – that’s a no brainer. Just as important could be the preparation of a rescue pack of over-the-counter essentials, to keep you in peak condition for the duration of your holiday. Even if it’s just a few paracetamol, antacids and an anti-diarrheal, this could prevent your dream trip turning into a temporary nightmare. Most simple medication will of course be available in the country you are visiting but it could save you the worries of having to find a pharmacy in a strange town, not to mention find what you’re looking for in a strange tongue.
Plenty of items can transform an ok flight into a good one and a strong set of headphones is one of the big ones. Not the flimsy earphones they tend to offer to you on the plane, but a pair of the proper ones which can make you feel like the only person on board even if the plane is full of sleeping snorers and infant screamers. Plus, the range of entertainment onboard most major airlines is phenomenal so don’t allow yourself to miss out.
Books or Kindles for the gadgeteers among us, can make a joyous experience out of the mundanity of passenger lounges and airport transfers. The ability to transport yourself into another world with the flick of a page cannot be undervalued, particularly when it comes to long haul travel. Even just a half hour escape from airport boredom can make all the difference to your mood. Remember to keep any reading material among the most easily reachable sections of your luggage – few things are more undignified than a public rummage through toiletries and unwashed clothing.
Travel documents and photocopies
The number of people who still manage to arrive at the airport without a passport (“I put it on the mantelpiece so I wouldn’t forget to pick it up”). So there’s your passport to remember and if you’ve got forgetful tendencies, put it on top of your door keys. Now you surely can’t leave home without it. Your Travel Counsellor will be able to keep you notified of whether your passport is in date, as well as any visa requirements you might need. Last but certainly not least, take photocopies of your documents and store them in a safe place about your luggage with the originals ideally in the safe. This way, if the worst happens, you’ll have a smoother route back home via the embassies.
Small travel bag
How many times have you reached an airport departure gate, cashier or security checkpoint and fumbled around in a rucksack for your documents? It needn’t be one of air travel’s biggest frustrations, all you need is a small bag within your carry bag. The contents of this bag are nothing except your essential travel documents, your phone and your wallet or purse. It means that everything you need for a smooth airport experience is easily accessible. It just saves you a few minutes of tapping every possible pocket to find a boarding pass you could’ve sworn was in your coat a second ago.
Show off your knowledge and confidence by doing your homework before you arrive. Guidebooks are available for virtually every spot on the face of the Earth, and with online resources too, you’re never too far from some reliable restaurant recommendations or ideas for things to do once you get there. The plane is a great time to immerse yourself in the place you’ll shortly be arriving in and you could even get some last minute practice for your ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘good mornings’ in the local language.
Bonus: The family survival kit
If you’re flying with younger children, it can be a whole other ball game. Of course, don’t forget the essentials – bring plenty of nappies, bottles of milk or formula, a disposable changing mat, blankets for both soothing your baby and keeping them warm and also spare clothes for both you and your children. If you’d take it for a picnic in the park, don’t forget it for your holiday.
Don’t worry about this taking valuable ‘carry on’ space – children under two years are permitted a bag for items they will require throughout the flight.
Travel Counsellors on 12 April 2016
We look forward to our holiday all year round which means when we finally arrive we want to document and remember every second. Often having our cameras and phones firmly in our grasp we try our very best to keep a digital record of our travels so we can look back on them in years to come and share with our friends and family. Instead of taking a few hundred photographs with the intention of making a lovely photo album- there are other ways to document your travels which you may find more useful and exciting.
Blogs & Vlogs: For the digitally savvy; blogs, journals and vlogs are a great way for you to document your trip in a more detailed way. Take advantage of a morning break in the sunshine and write about your surroundings, how you feel and what you’re looking forward to in that day. Simple platforms like WordPress and Blogger are the perfect starting point for new bloggers, as they are simple and easy to use, acting as a sort of online journal which you can share with your loved ones. Vloggers can do a simple 5 minute video showing their accommodation, a specific view, beach or trip which holds a special meaning for them and this is great way to share with friends and family all the wonderful things you have experienced whilst travelling and really lets them see the place as you saw it.
Journals: For those who want to stay away from the internet during their holidays, why not keep a simple paper journal and a pen with you? By doing so, you can jot down all the significant things that have happened or that you have seen during your holiday. Alternatively, using your phone notes is just as effective and may be more convenient than carrying a journal around.
Postcards: Another fun way to document your travels, and give yourself a nice surprise, is to send yourself postcards home. Simply buy a postcard, scribble a memory on the back and post it home to yourself. Doing this numerous times over your holiday gives you a collection of images and notes when you arrive home which you can save as a keepsakes and share with your friends and family. You could even make these into one big collage as a collection of all your memories in that place!
Collections: A clever way to tie in your experiences with your travel is to start a collection with some kind of common theme. This could be tickets from your journeys, pictures of food you have eaten, coins from around the world- anything that is lightweight and cheap will make for a diverse collection which builds over the years.
Playlists: Creating a playlist whilst you’re on the beach, taking a trip, attending or event will bring back great memories from your holiday when you return home. Using the Shazam app whilst you’re away allows you to make a note and listen to songs that you’ve heard in different countries whist in restaurants and bars which you can then listen to when you return home. They are also great to add to blogs and vlogs!
Recipe Books: Foodies can document their gourmet adventures in a travel recipe book. After enjoying your favourite meals on holiday you can jot them down in your unique book and then relive the experience in your own kitchen when you get home!
Scratch Maps: Getting a scratch map or scratch globe is a fun way for you to see and share where you have travelled. These fantastic maps are covered in a thin foil which you scratch off as you visit each country. Underneath are bright colours which highlight the places you’ve visited. They are a great conversation starter and a really fun representation of everywhere you have previously visited and places still on your bucket list.
Travel Counsellors on 07 March 2016
March 8th is International Women’s Day and we want to celebrate this by sharing with you just some of the amazing women within Travel Counsellors. This is a global day which recognises the achievements of women – culturally, economically, socially and politically! Since the early 1900’s International Women’s Day has been recognised and over this period a lot has changed. This remarkable celebration has seen a complete shift in rights and opportunities leading us into an equal, fair and strong society. Have a read about what empowers these women and how they are excelling in both their careers and their home lives!
I have complete flexibility with my work hours. I am able to be there for my children’s sports events and if they are ill I can stay at home with them. I am able to stay on top of their homework and exams. I take them for play dates, we go shopping, sometimes we go to a movie – so the time that they have with me is priceless. When my husband gets home they get to give him all the attention without me losing out because I have had all that time with them- it’s the perfect mix!
I don’t have to stress trying to find time off or negotiate how to get time off when the kids are sick and I need to stay home, or so I can attend a parent teacher meeting or other school events. I love that I can do this!
My relationship with my children is so much better. I am not stressed and I can spend lots of quality time with them. It’s not just the flexibility and freedom that comes with working as a Travel Counsellor, it’s also the host of activities, family days and benefits that come with that.
Whilst being a Travel Counsellor I had my daughter Ella, who is now eight. I feel blessed to have been running my business from home during this time, not missing any quality time with her. It’s the recognition and company spirit that helps to motivate me to continue to grow my business, knowing that I am a part of something special and building a great future for myself and my family.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Travel Counsellors on 02 March 2016
It’s that time of year again, where we show our appreciation for that one special person, our Mum. If you need help showing your Mum just how much you care, this blog has the answers.
Everyone loves the sophisticated treat that is afternoon tea. Escape reality for an hour or two and enjoy the time honoured tradition of Afternoon Tea in the luxurious surroundings of a nearby country house or hotel. Wherever you choose, you can still rely on the sweet treat of the three-tiered ‘Tick Tock’ Victoria sponge and enjoy a selection of finger sandwiches, delicious warm buttered scones with preserves and cream, assortment of pastries and sliced cakes. You could even opt for a Champagne Afternoon Tea to add a little sparkle to the occasion.
Afternoon Tea is a firm favourite. Why not treat your mum to this delightful experience that has been so popular for many generations.
If this isn’t her “cup of tea”, you could indulge in a luxurious spa day or weekend. There is a wide array of beautiful spas across the country, which would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Indulge in hot stone massages, facials or even stay in your very own lakeside cottage.
These sophisticated treats are sure to make your Mum feel special- plus the variety of options available means that you can pick one that she will be sure to love.
We asked our Travel Counsellors what their ideal Mother’s Day treat would be, this may give you some more inspiration!
Andre Bedford: “For me, the ideal Mother’s Day treat is a spa morning followed by a lunch with my hubby and kids, obviously if this could happen in somewhere like Mauritius then that would be a major bonus!”
Lynne Keane: “My ideal Mother’s Day treat would be being taken out for breakfast (if my kids were old enough to make me a cup of coffee in bed – that would be fantastic…but I will have to wait a while!)”
This is the best opportunity to show your mum how much you care by treating her to Afternoon Tea, a Spa Day or even just some quality time- technology free!
To find out more about the best spa breaks/weekend breaks, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor. You can find a Travel Counsellor near you @TravelCounsellors.ie If you’re interested in becoming a Travel Counsellor and discovering your ideal work/life balance then please click http://recruitment.travelcounsellors.com/ie/">here.
Travel Counsellors on 15 January 2016
January 18th is allegedly the saddest day of the year due to a combination of unpleasant things like colder weather, debt and lack of motivation. But we say, why should it be? Yes it’s a little colder but we like to be cosy and wrap up, the New Year is the perfect chance for us to wipe the slate clean and power into 2016 making the impact that we want to make. We’ve put together a list of the top five happiest places to be which are sure to get rid of Blue Monday woes. Make your Blue Monday all about the blue of these stunning oceans and enjoy some quirky facts.
“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright!” this iconic mantra echoes through the community of Jamaica and promotes positivity worldwide. We all can’t help but sing along to this classic from Bob Marley which forms part of the fantastic culture within Jamaica. The cuisine here features spices from around the world but its jerk dishes and street food are truly inspired. Here, there is always a reason to sing and dance which makes it such a positive and happy environment to be in. This really is the island of happy days and vibrant nights where you can make your adventure here whatever you want it to be. Get back to nature, embrace the stunning views of the Blue Mountains and immerse yourself in the friendliness and enthusiasm of the locals.
One of the happiest countries on Earth, army-free with an abundance of natural beauty from every angle. Everything from pristine beaches, stunning rainforests and striking volcanoes, this landscape invites you to explore it. “Pura Vida” loosely translates as “Life is good” which is a common saying amongst locals here, surrounded by these views, we agree life would be good. According to the most recent Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the most satisfying place to live! This index aims to measure things like high life expectancy, lack of armed forces plus a rich variety of national parks and beaches.
A Buddhist kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. This dramatic landscape ranges from subtropical plains to steep mountains and stunning valleys. It’s so picturesque it seems impossible to be unhappy in this amazing environment. A prime spot for adventures and nature lovers alike, Bhutan provides rugged terrain and breath-taking sights unlike anywhere in the world. The very best thing about Bhutan? There is not a single traffic light in the entire country.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “liveability” study which looks at things like crime levels, quality of medical care, temperature, schools and transport rated Melbourne one of the best cities in the world to live. Encompassing everything that is both stylish and arty, this dynamic city takes pride of place as Australia’s cultural capital. It’s edgy street art, wild architecture and top museums make it one of the most vibrant and positive cities in the world. Sport makes up part of the fabric of Melbourne paired with its chic bars and laneway eateries of course.
Seen as one of the world’s most contented countries, Denmark tops the happiness studies. Summer houses on the beach here are the norm so it’s hard not to be happy! Winding cycle paths, beautiful forests and some gourmet treats really put Denmark on the map. Open air festivals and some of northern Europe’s freshest food are a winning combination for anyone. Old fashioned charm embraces forward thinking design whilst maintaining classic gems for visitors, Denmark really is like a fairy tale. If you do pay a visit to this little gem, make sure sure you try out Noma. The third best restaurant in the entire world where Scandinavian flavours and culinary excellence make for a dramatic effect.
If any of these great destinations have peaked your interest then please do get in touch with your local Travel Counsellor so you can chat about your options. Whether you want a bespoke month trip or a small city break, your Travel Counsellor will be able to arrange every detail for you.
Travel Counsellors on 11 January 2016
When it comes to travel it’s so important to know you are booking with someone you can trust, someone you can always rely on and someone who knows exactly what you need each and every time. In fact, a recent survey* revealed that trust is the single most important factor when booking a holiday. 93% of us plan on going on holiday this year and we look forward to it all year round which is why it is essential that you get the service you deserve.
71% of people said that first-hand knowledge and reviews on destinations and hotels is more influential than online ratings*. Here, we provide a simple solution to eradicate all the potential stresses and dangers of booking a holiday, providing you with your perfect getaway. At Travel Counsellors we make it our business to ensure ‘trust’ is at the centre of everything we do. Here’s how…
YOUR MONEY IS SAFE... Sometimes its hard to know what is safe and what isn't safe but we care that you are confident and comfortable with your booking. You are protected with us as Travel Counsellors is licensed and bonded with the commission for Aviation Regulation, Ireland.
WE’RE ALWAYS HERE… something happens when you’re away from home and there’s no-one to turn to. It’s comforting to know when you book with Travel Counsellors this would never be the case. We have a 24/7 duty office that utilises our global presence in seven countries and time zones to ensure that you are supported around the clock, whenever you need it.
YOU’LL HEAR IT FIRST HAND… it’s always great to hear first-hand feedback about somewhere you are thinking of travelling to. We have a global family of over 1,500 travel experts who can provide just that. And what’s more we have our own in-house review system with thousands of personal insights and reviews directly from our agents and their customers, so you know its advice you can trust.
IT’S PERSONAL… our Travel Counsellors take the time to get to know their customers because they genuinely care. They are passionate about delivering a service that goes above and beyond, exceeding expectations and making sure their customers know they are booking with someone they can trust. That’s why a world leading 96% of our customers would recommend their Travel Counsellor to family and friends.
WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU… it pays to be independent. Whilst many travel companies sell the product that’s right for them, we make a promise to only sell what is right for you. We have access to thousands of suppliers and products globally, and have developed our own cutting-edge booking system that enables our Travel Counsellors to tailor-make the perfect trip for each customer at the most competitive prices.
To find out more about booking your dream break by getting in touch with your local Travel Counsellor please use the search bar in the top right of the page. We guarantee that this level of personalised service cannot be found anywhere else simply because our Travel Counsellors and their approach is completely unique to you.
*Travel Counsellors survey completed by 335 consumers in January 2016
Travel Counsellors on 01 December 2015
Our Travel Counsellors all have a vast knowledge of the travel industry and have extensively travelled themselves. Your Travel Counsellor will be able to advise you on the best locations, tours and hotels to suit you. We also have a number of specialists on certain countries, alternate holiday types and in resort teams to help make your holiday a seamless and fantastic experience from start to finish.
Not being part of a huge high street company allows us the luxury of time. This means we can take the time to get to know you, what you love, what you hate and what your dream holiday looks like. With no pressure or obligations from a wider company to worry about we can simply focus on finding the perfect package for you at the best possible price.
As independent Travel Agents you know that we will work hard to find you the best price and we have plenty of resources at our fingertips. A global network of other Travel Counsellors, a fantastic head office to advise us and help out on complicated bookings, and our in-house, state of the art booking system. No more spending hours on the internet trying to find the best hotel, the best flight and transfers then making them all fit- we do all the hard work for you so all you need to do is relax and look forward to your break.
Sometimes inevitably problems will happen. Things such as flight cancellations, natural disasters and political unrest can occur at any time and are completely out of our control. With Travel Counsellors you benefit not only from your very own go-to person to call in emergencies but you also have the head office team who monitor situations around the globe and immediately act in times of crisis. Travel Counsellors go that extra mile to make sure firstly that problems don’t occur by checking with your hotel, airline and tour guides etc. that your booking is correct and they are expecting your arrival. However, if a problem does arise then your Travel Counsellor will do everything possible to resolve the issue without you having to lift a finger whilst you are abroad.
Booking through us ensures the best possible value for money and each aspect of your holiday will be tailored to suit you. With us, it’s personal and each holiday we book we want to be absolutely perfect with no stress for our customers. We will take care of things like luggage labels, checking into your flights and giving you a quick call to check if you have any questions before you go and afterwards. We want you to love your holiday and we will work hard to make sure we achieve just that.
Our in-house booking system has a full team of highly skilled developers working on it around the clock to ensure Travel Counsellors have access to the latest deals and best possible prices. Our strong connections with airlines, tourist boards, cruise lines and destination management companies around the world allow us to stay well connected, in the know and always bringing out the latest and greatest rates for our customers.
We don’t need to worry about high street company pressures, pushing sales on a particular destination or getting numbers to fill a certain airline or hotel. You let us know where you are thinking of visiting, or if you are open to ideas then we can help inspire your choice. We start by getting to know exactly what you want from your break and then we build it into a reality.
We don’t have a time limit and would never pressure you into a decision or rush you into a booking. We work around when is convenient for you. If you’d prefer to run through options in the evenings or weekends then that’s not a problem. As independent Travel Agents in a home working environment we have the flexibility to work around you. The key is that you are happy at every stage of the process and we don’t mind if you want to book a holiday the very same day or if we plan the trip of a lifetime over a number of weeks!
No pushy sales staff, no flash internet offers or dodgy deals - you simply get to visit the place of your choice. Whether you are travelling solo, as a couple, a family or a group we can build bespoke packages to suit each person’s exact needs. High street companies don’t have the access to the travel industry or the flexibility that we do, it’s this that allows us to create the perfect holidays at the very best prices.
If you love your holiday, loved our service and wouldn’t want to go back to booking on the high street or online again- then we have done our job. The value in our service is unlike any other travel company and we are confident you will see that if you decide to call your local Travel Counsellor. We want you to have a genuinely fantastic holiday so that you can share your experience with your friends and family who we can then help too. There is no catch, we love travel and want to share that passion with you.
To find your local Travel Counsellor and run through some of your holiday ideas please use our search bar above. If reading this article has made you wish you could run your own Travel Business from home then visit our recruitment site for more info at www.travelhomeworking.ie or call 0818 33 20 03.
Travel Counsellors on 01 December 2015
The Duty Office service utilises the company’s global presence in seven countries and time zones to ensure that the international community of 1,500 Travel Counsellors are supported around the clock, whenever they need it.
Operations Manager, Sandie Fisher said; “As the leaders in customer service, we have always put people at the heart of everything we do, and we want to be there to support and assist you and your customers whenever you need us, no ifs, no buts. This service enables us to draw on our global presence to ensure this is possible, as well as recruiting a team of experienced Duty Office advisors to support you. The feedback so far has been really positive.”
Lisa Hillyard, Gold Travel Counsellor, commented on her recent experience: “Having a 24/7 Duty Office means that while I’m in bed, one of my colleagues is sitting at a desk analysing information that is coming in from around the world, enabling us to be proactive rather than reactive if a situation arises. I woke up at 7am one morning and saw a Duty Office email about high winds at Heathrow. One of my customers was due to fly out to Mexico that day so I contacted him about the situation – he left earlier as a result and caught his flight without delay. The Duty Office makes a huge difference to me and my customers”.
One of our Travel Counsellors Rachael Quinton had clients flying to Sharm el-Sheikh earlier this month. These clients always book with her rather than doing it themselves as they have faith in their Travel Counsellor. Rachael worked hard to resolve the issue causing minimal stress for her customer; “I had emailed her at 1am to tell her she wouldn’t be going as we had just heard from the Foreign office and I would be onto it in the morning. We had flights, accommodation, transfers and airport hotels all booked and sorted. By 11am she was rebooked to Fuerteventura, refunded the difference in price and accommodation cancellation charges all covered by us. I was so proud of the outcome and she didn’t even have to pick up the phone or feel any stress what-so-ever. That’s what we are good at!” Rachael also had a young client who was afraid to travel alone but had to go to Nice. A fellow Travel Counsellor stepped in and offered to fly back with her and escort her through. This is the extent that Travel Counsellors will go to ensure customers get the very best service and experience every time.
Trevor Smith, Travel Counsellor, came to the rescue for his clients when they required six rooms for a group booking and the supplier had only requested two to the hotel. Within 90 minutes the clients were relocated to a better hotel, with bigger rooms in a better location! All achieved whilst the customers enjoyed four rounds of drinks on a stag party!
Travel Counsellor, Claire Branson, said “As soon as I saw the news, I called one of my clients who is travelling soon to reassure them I am here to help, to save them worrying about everything. As I can work all hours and do not close like the high street travel agents, I am here to help my clients at any time and they can get in touch with me straight away."
Maxine Staniland booked a young couple on their holiday to Bangkok. They were later stranded there during some political unrest back in 2009. Flights were being cancelled including their return journey home. Maxine stated “They had no money left and their parents were worried and contacted me. I spoke to head office and we escalated the problem to Steve Byrne who made the decision to pay for them to stay in Bangkok until we could get them home. It worked out to be approximately 10 extra nights and we then also paid to get them back with another airline so we could get them home faster. We could have moved them to cheaper accommodation as they were staying in a 4 star hotel but we thought they would feel safer staying where they were. No thoughts of money ever came into it – it was all about the customer and keeping them safe and happy.”
These fantastic examples show the diversity and responsiveness of the Travel Counsellor family. As soon as information reaches head office or a Travel Counsellor we translate that into action to ensure minimal disruption to our customers at all times. There is always someone there at the end of the phone to take your call, answer your questions and assure you that problems are being resolved as quickly as possible. As we are a global network we can share information, options and resolve issues faster and more efficiently. Booking with us doesn’t just provide you with financial protection, it’s so much more than that. You will have your own go-to person to help you deal with any crisis and problems you encounter to keep you safe and happy.
Travel Counsellors on 30 October 2015
You have witnessed the epic battles, gasped at unpredictable storylines and have been captivated by the landscapes and castles. Experience the world of the popular TV show Game of Thrones for real with Travel Counsellors. These real-life settings at the core of the action are a lot more peaceful and tranquil than in the hit programme. Take time to explore exciting locations like King's Landing, escape to the picturesque seaside or discover historical sites rooted in myth and legend. The filming locations are great destinations in their own right and will reward fans of travel as well as Game of Thrones followers.
King’s Landing (1 and 2)
The 4,000 year-old capital of Malta, Mdina, was used as the backdrop for King’s Landing in the first series of Game of Thrones. However, after some Maltese officials raised concerns that protected habitats were damaged, filming was moved to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously said of the Croatian city - which took over the role of King’s Landing - “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.”
The island of Lokrum, a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik Harbour by boat, was also featured in the Game of Thrones show and is well worth a visit - the island is uninhabited, but has gardens complete with peacocks, rocky coves and a lake with an underwater passage to the sea.
Whilst the hugely popular Game of Thrones TV series, adapted from George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, is filmed all over Europe, many of the key locations are based either outdoors in the rugged landscapes and golden beaches of Northern Ireland, or in the Titanic Studios in Belfast City, where the indoor scenes are filmed.
18th-century mansion Castle Ward, which stands overlooking Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland is used as the courtyard of Winterfell Castle & Demesne - home of the Stark family. The castle is renowned for its architecture boasting a clash of gothic and classical styles.
The pilot episode used Doune Castle in Scotland as the backdrop for Winterfell. Doune Castle was built in the 14th century and is a popular film location, featuring in such films as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Ivanhoe.
Beyond the Wall (4)
Vatnajökull is used as the backdrop for ‘beyond the wall’ in the show, and is recognised as the largest ice cap in Iceland, as well as the largest ice cap in Europe by volume. In total this glacier covers more than 8% of the country, and has been seen in other films including the James Bond franchise.
The famous Dark Hedges are a stunning avenue of beech trees in Northern Ireland. In the show they play the part of the Kingsroad, north of King’s Landing. Planted in the 18th century the trees were intended to wow visitors who were approaching the Stuart family’s Georgian mansion. It’s now one of Northern Ireland’s most photographed sites, and a must-see for visitors to the country.
Essaouira lies on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and plays the backdrop to Astapor. The city’s iconic fortified wall shown in the show is a popular tourist attraction. The city has a rich history – with historians discovering it has been occupied since prehistoric times. Essaouira has become a UNESCO World Heritage listed city because of its historical importance.
Contact your local Travel Counsellor for more great ideas and holiday options today. Seeing, after all, is believing.
Travel Counsellors on 28 October 2015
Halloween is approaching...Whether you’re dressing up as your favourite character, taking your children trick or treating or perhaps hastily rushing to the supermarket on the 31st after forgetting to pick up some sweets (we’ve all been there…) we wanted to inject some ghoulish fun into your day by taking a look at how the holiday is celebrated across the globe.
The day has become popular in recent years through to its big influence in the US, however it originally began as part of the Celtic festival of Samhain and was later taken to North America with Irish settlers. During Samhain it was thought that the dead walked the Earth on that night. To avoid being recognised and blend in with any evil spirits, the Celts were said to have worn costumes to keep them safe.
Reaching our present day pumpkins and witches, Halloween has come a long way since the early traditions.
Yu Lan (Hong Kong)
This is also known as ‘the Festival of the Hungry Ghost’ and is celebrated across parts of South Eastern Asia. Ancient Chinese stories said that for two weeks spirits wander the Earth before the night of Yu Lan, where they arrive famished from their travels. To make sure the ghosts don’t stay hungry - or get angry - food is left out across the city for the spirits to feed on. It is seen as very bad luck for the food to be moved or tampered with during the festival, so expect to see abandoned feasts if you’re in Hong Kong this Halloween!
In recent years Yu Lan has also evolved into a chance for families to make offerings to their ancestors by burning paper goods they may need in the afterlife, as well as incense sticks and candles to show respect.
Beans of the Dead (Italy)
On a similar theme to the Asian Hungry Ghost festival, in Italy small bean cakes are made on Halloween to be left out at night for the spirits to eat.
In Ireland, the home of Halloween, it’s common for us to celebrate the day with a party. Snap-apple is a popular game where each player is blindfolded and attempts to take a bite out of an apple suspended from a string.
Why not forget apple-bobbing this year and adopt the more traditional game at your party?
Dias De Los Muertas (Mexico)
Although not connected directly to Halloween, the popularity of the Day of the Dead in Latin culture has recently brought a strong influence on Halloween due to the similarities between the holidays.
On the first 2 days of November the festival takes place to celebrate the lives of the deceased. The food, drink and activities enjoyed by family members who have gone are enjoyed by the living to pay tribute. Like the common theme throughout most Halloween traditions, the dead are thought to arise during the festival to enjoy the time with their loved ones.
The holiday is well known for its iconic sugar skull and skeleton imagery. People may dress up as skeletons for parties. Traditionally families also make and decorate sugar skulls to represent a departed family member and place it on their grave to honour the spirit.
Hide the Knives (Germany)
Halloween in Germany is an occasion mostly for remembering those who have passed and tidying up their graves. However, a seemingly odd tradition began where families would hide all the knives in their house on this day.
It was thought that the spirits return on Halloween night but as they couldn’t be seen, people didn’t want to accidentally hurt them by using everyday knife movements and so avoided using them.
Turnip Carving (UK)
Although we are now more used to October being the month of the pumpkin, before pumpkins became a popular choice turnips were used instead in the UK.
Faces were carved out of the vegetable to frighten away any evil spirits that were wandering the Earth that night. Fortunately for us pumpkins are now much easier to carve - and a lot tastier!
Happy Halloween from all of us here at Travel Counsellors...
Travel Counsellors on 28 October 2015
Whether you call them the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis, most people cannot deny that they are one of nature’s most incredible offerings.
The light show in the skies is based on solar activity, meaning it is completely unpredictable when they will occur. Anyone lucky enough to spot them may see anything from a green glow to yellow and red streaks waving in the sky. The cycle of activity alternates over an 11 year period to a ‘solar maximum’ of high levels of solar activity when the Northern Lights are most likely to appear, to the ‘solar minimum’ where they are least likely to appear. The most recent solar maximum was during 2014; meaning that for the next couple of years we are still in a period where the Northern Lights are likely to be seen. It’s time to start planning the trip of a lifetime!
When should you go?
Unknown to a lot of tourists, the Northern Lights can be active all year round. Before you pack away your winter coats remember that throughout the summer months they are unlikely to be spotted by us due to the long summer days, making them invisible to our eyes.
If you don’t think you’re suited to the harsh winter temperatures, head to the North during September and October where the temperature is milder and the season of the midnight sun is over.
The most popular months for Northern Lights hunting is during January to March. At this point in the year the winter has truly arrived meaning that there is plenty of snow to fuel activities such as snowmobiling and ice sculpting during the daylight hours. This time of year also guarantees long, dark nights which are necessary for spotting the activity in the skies. Unfortunately there is no way to predict what month the lights are most likely to make an appearance, so a sighting will require a lot of patience and luck! Be prepared to deal with late nights or early wake up calls before setting out on your Northern adventure.
Where should you go?
Ideal conditions to view the Northern Lights are cloudless skies with little to no light. Taking this into account, when picking your destination to see the skies it’s better to go to an inland area than nearer to the coast as it is less likely to be affected by fog. Stay outside of any towns or cities as light pollution can be a big factor in affecting the success of seeing the Northern Lights. Although when solar activity is particularly strong they can be seen in the Scandinavian capitals, it is an extremely rare occurrence and unlikely to offer the same experience you would receive in the countryside.
It is only possible to see the Northern Lights in high altitudes. The following territories are all well known for the regular appearance of the phenomena, so take your pick between: Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Scotland, Iceland, Canada and Alaska.
With so many destinations to pick from, it can be difficult to choose where to go! As the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are completely unpredictable, when the conditions are good in any of these places you can be spectator to a spectacular show in the skies.
The best tactic is to make sure you have plenty to do at your destination. As there is a chance you might not see the Northern Lights at all, it is better to plan to head to a unique winter destination so you can fully enjoy the experience. Seeing the Northern Lights can certainly make a trip, but unless you have unlimited time don’t let a sighting take up the whole trip.
Guided tours and treks can take you either on foot or by coach to the best viewing points. These are options worth looking into even for the most independent travel - don’t forget these companies are experts in tracking down where you are most likely to see the Northern Lights.
Most importantly - be prepared for the cold! At the prime Northern Lights hunting period temperatures of -35°C and below are completely normal across the Arctic Circle. Pack plenty of layers and never leave your thermals behind.
We promise the trip will be worth it and we can plan it all for you. Contact your local Travel Counsellor today.
02 June 2014
To mark the 20th anniversary this June, Chairman David Speakman talks about Travel Counsellors and why it continues to stand out.
11 March 2013
Steve Byrne discusses the benefits of a personal relationship with customers