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Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
A trip around the world has always been on my bucket list. I still can’t believe that Jeff and I finally did it. We’ve just returned home to our sunny island home of Phuket, Thailand and finally have a moment to look back on our amazing journey around the world.
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Before we started this trip, I knew that we wouldn’t have the space in our luggage for souvenirs as we were going to nearly 30 different countries. Even though we have been told we packed light, I can assure you that our bags were anything but light. This inspired me to think a little outside the box for souvenir ideas.
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My favorite part about traveling is looking back on my photos long after the trip. It is a great way to put you right back to where you were and bring back memories you had long forgotten about. I wanted to do something fun and different with my photos. So I thought, “Why not bring a chalkboard?” I decided to have a photo taken of myself  holding a chalkboard with the name of the country I was in. I wanted a way to visually see each country while having a reminder of myself in that place during that time. Even if I may have been up all night, had not showered in days or was only in a country for a few hours, I wanted to remember all of it.
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Now, 28 images later, I have a fun collection of pictures that for me, sums up our 159 day, 32,281 mile trip around the world!
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
CANADA:
Even though Canada isn’t too far from my home county, it was still really exciting to go visit! Two days in Vancouver and I was in love! Canada is a great country and Vancouver is a beautiful city!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ENGLAND:
Since we only had two rainy days in London, and as it was my first time to England I knew I wanted the cliché photo with a red phone booth!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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BELGIUM:
Brussels was a beautiful city and I was surprised at how modern of a city it was. We had one of our favorite meals of the entire trip in Brussels, an absolutely amazing beef stew. This photo was taken at the bus station before we boarded to Amsterdam.
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Chalkboard around the world
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ISRAEL:
With so much history in Israel, I had a hard time deciding where would be best to take a photo here. While we were driving with a guide through the desert we went to this cliff where you could see a beautiful monastery in the hillside. I thought that this would be a great reflection of this historical importance of Israel.

 

Chalkboard around the world
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IRELAND:
Green! I knew I wanted this photo to be green, but I struck it rich when we just happened to get some sunshine since it was gloomy and raining during most of our stay. Ireland may have been our first stop, but it was also one of our favorites. Read our “Complete Guide to Ireland” for our best recommendations!
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Chalkboard around the world

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MOROCCO:
Oh Morocco! We were here for just a few hours while stopping during a cruise we took early in the year. I had always imaged Morocco as a colorful place, however Casablanca was not what I imaged. This is at the Hassan II Mosque which is the 7th largest mosque in the world.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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AUSTRIA:
Innsbruck, Austria is a beautiful little ski town nestled in the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay with some wonderful friends here for 2 weeks!
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Chalkboard around the world

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SPAIN:
We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona on my birthday in January! Once again, this was a quick stop during our cruise so I can’t wait to get back to explore more!
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Chalkboard around the world

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CZECH REPUBLIC:
We met some great friends in Prague and had an amazing time exploring this beautiful old city. While Europe has some of the best beer in the world, I’d bet most of it can be found in Prague, and at a cheap price too!
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Chalkboard around the world

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EGYPT:
Egypt just may have been my favorite place on this trip! Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream of visiting the pyramids, but we also got to spend great time with some new friends!
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Chalkboard around the world

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HUNGARY:
Budapest is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. It is a great city where history meets a modern twist. I would live here in a heartbeat! This was the first time we have used AirBNB and found ourselves in this old apartment complex trying to find which apartment was ours!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Even though we spent most of our time in Dubai, we were still able to get out and see the beautiful desert! Jeff and I were both really impressed with Dubai and can’t wait to get back to explore more.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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ESTONIA:
Tallinn, Estonia is a quant little old city and has so much culture and lots to see. We were only here for one night but enjoyed walking around the old town watching the snow fall.
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Chalkboard around the world

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FINLAND:
Finland is also on the top of my favorite places we’ve been to this year! Helsinki is a great design oriented town that is hip and embraces its rich history, although I had to take this photo while up in Lapland exploring the arctic circle and seeing snow fall for the first time in my life!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ITALY:
We went to many places in Italy, but it was in Venice during Carnival that I wanted to take this photo. Carnival was such a unique and beautiful way to explore all that Venice has to offer.
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Chalkboard around the world
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NORTHERN IRELAND:
While in Dublin, we decided why not take the 3 hour drive with some friends up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and while we got there right after sunset we were able to catch some light for this photo!
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Chalkboard around the world
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GERMANY:
Germany has always been on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and this year it finally happened! Although we only had 2 days in Berlin, it was great to learn more about Germany’s vast history and how the city has transformed to a modern city with tons of artistic expression.
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Chalkboard around the world
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HOLLAND:
I didn’t know if I should write Holland or The Netherlands but in the end it didn’t matter since we had such a great time in Amsterdam exploring the canals!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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PORTUGAL:
This photo is in Lisbon near the port while it was pouring rain. We had to be quick since the rain just kept washing the chalk off the board, but it made for a fun experience!
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Chalkboard around the world

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TURKEY:
Although Istanbul has so much history and culture, it was this pop of color while walking around that caught my eye. I wanted to show a different side to such an old city.
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Chalkboard around the world

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SWEDEN:
Since we spent an entire night at the airport in Stockholm we though it would be fun to take photos in the nearly abandoned airport at 2 in the morning.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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VATICAN:
The Vatican is such a beautiful place and it was very surreal to see all the paintings and murals in the museum, but it was here that meant the most to me. It really is amazing to stand here and thing about all the people that come here to see the pope.
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Chalkboard around the world

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MALDIVES:
Holy blue ocean! The Maldives are such a beautiful place. There are 1,190 different islands so it is hard to pick just one. We stayed in Maafushi which is a local island, but as you can see we still had a resort like beach to spend our time.
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Chalkboard around the world
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FRANCE:
Paris is a place that every girl longs to go to at least once in her life and I was no exception, I absolutely fell in love with Paris. We had an amazing 5 days here with a good friend who was kind enough to show us around this memorizing city. I can’t wait to get back and eat some more macaroons!

Chalkboard around the world

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SINGAPORE:
While it was not my first time in Singapore, it was great to be back and see how much this city has grown. Singapore is a beautiful city which great people and beautiful architecture.
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Thailand
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THAILAND:
Phuket will always be a second home to me and it is where we began and ended our around the world trip. Living here has really opened my eyes and taking this photo was really important. This photo was taken in a little lagoon in Koh Phi Phi Ley near where the majestic beach from the movie The Beach was filmed. You can see another hidden beach in the background that we could swim to. Taking a long tail boat out to this preserved island and spending the day snorkeling and soaking up the sun is my favorite thing to do in Thailand.
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MEXICO:
Growing up, my family always spent at least once if not twice a year in Mexico. This year I was fortunate enough to get the change to travel to a new place in Baja called Loreto. It is a great little fishing town located right on the Sea of Cortez.
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SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located just southeast of India and visiting was a great treat for me. There are many elephants, beautiful landscapes and beaches. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take it!
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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 My First Time: Taking a Cruise Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Hidden in Full View in London, England

Hidden in Full View in London, England

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London boasts an incredible range of activities and attractions and a whole host of accommodations, restaurants and nightlife to compliment it. However, much of London is fast becoming a cliché as everyone who stays in the city watches the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace and visits the massive Arts collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Marina and I were thrilled to visit London this last January, and while our trip was extremely short, it was nothing short of magical. Of course it was raining, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way (sort of joking). We loved jumping on the tube and exploring the whole city by public transport and mostly on foot, there is so much to see and London is a great walking city, so get out there and explore, but don’t just fall victim to the normal tourist hotspots, the city has so much more to offer.

So if you’re planning a trip to England’s capital, how can you get the most out of your visit without becoming yet another tourist queuing for the London Eye?

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Hidden in Full View in London, England

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Visit Monopoly Squares

It might sound too quirky to function in real life but this is as good and as original a plan as any other when touring around the city. Plus if you have children with you it gives an element of play and fun to what can otherwise be long and tiring days. Perhaps you could even try and collect colours and link it somehow with the notorious London underground for a truly British experience? You could even have a copy of the board game on hand in case of rainy days or illness. Hey, there aren’t a lot of cities you can do this in are there?

 

Retreat and Recover

After a long day trekking around monopoly squares you need a home away from home to retreat to and recover from all of the hustle and bustle of the day. Fear not, for Urban Retreat have got this one nailed with fully serviced and beautifully decorated luxury apartments located right above the hubbub of the historic Mayfair Street. And it is even another monopoly square, it’s fate.  With a wealth of facilities from a gym and spa products to a renowned eatery, everything you could want is here.

We loved walking around London all day long but we were a but outside of the center of town and were absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. If we were to visit again, errr when we visit again, we’ll think about staying right in the heart of the city so we can easily relax mid day before heading out to explore again.

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Hidden in Full View in London, England

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Hidden Attractions

Whilst there are all the obvious tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge and Madame Tussauds, London also hides a wealth of lesser well known and equally enticing attractions. From dinosaur sculptures to tiny churches and intimate encounters with Egyptian archaeology relics to the three devils of St Peter; some of the lesser well known attractions are actually some of the most curious. Also, the British Museum is an amazing place to visit and is almost endlessly entertaining – and the best part? It’s free!

In a smaller place these attractions would on their own draw deserved attraction from visitors but it is like they have fallen throw the holes of a bigger net that has been weighed down with more national museums and galleries than it can handle. To find out more about the hidden nature of some of London’s most exciting attractions search online for Hidden London and read up on some of the secret gems just waiting in the wings.

Images provided by Flickr via @Doug88888 and Anirudh Koul

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Hide & Chic Boutique: The Rise of the Boutique Hotel

Hide & Chic Boutique: The Rise of the Boutique Hotel

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The rise of the boutique hotel started in the late eighties and has gradually been gaining momentum for the past couple of decades before interest exploded in the past five years. With quirky design features and off beat offers along with stylish furnishings and an often enviable location in the heart of fashionable or up and coming areas there is no wonder that these independently owned hotels have gained a loyal following. Now these boutique accommodations are spreading their wings and opening up at the top of mountains, in the deepest of countryside’s and in the remotest of area.

Marina and I are are huge fans of a good boutique hotel and will often go out of our way to stay at a fun and funky boutique hotel over a traditional and dull seeming hotel, I mean why not?

But besides their urban locations what exactly have these new boutiques got to offer?

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Hide & Chic Boutique: The Rise of the Boutique Hotel

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Location, Location, Location

The most obvious thing that sets these boutiques apart from their city centre rivals is of course their location. Where once the whole appeal of the  boutique hotel was that it was a stone’s throw away from the action, these new retreat like boutiques pride themselves on their almost secret locations. From renovated farms in England to beachside villas in Bahia, boutique accommodations of all sorts can now be found dotted across cities and countryside’s worldwide alike. While the old farmhouse bed and breakfast used to be nice, and is still enjoyed by some, many travelers want to maintain a personal boundary between them and the proprietor. Who wants to walk down the hall and be scared they are going to wake up the lovely couple that runs the bed and breakfast when they go for a wee at 2am?

The appeal is of course a retreat from city life; perhaps as a romantic break for two or simply as a spiritual getaway to soothe the soul, and these new breed of boutique hotels offer just right right amount of personal space, convenience and retreat to satisfy a large number of todays travelers. Many of the newer boutique hotels are theme based, like the Foto Hotel in Phuket, one of our all time favorite hotels.

The real appeal of boutique for us comes by finding a place to lay our heads which has the corporate hotel feel striped out of the experience while offering services above and beyond a traditional hotel, or at least unique or new age ways of housing guests without feeling cliche or tacky. Bright lit entrances, modern art, touch screens, etc are all being worked into some of the best new boutique hotels.

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Hide & Chic Boutique: The Rise of the Boutique Hotel

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Case Study

Castello Banfi il Borgo is a boutique accommodation located on a winery in Tuscany which boasts fourteen individually decorated suites all designed by the prestigious Italian designer Federico Forquet. Each of the suites offers slightly different accommodations but they include kind size beds, queen size sofas, large rain showers, freestanding bath tubs and a whole host of luxury products to enjoy during your stay. There is an ever-helpful concierge presence who can arrange wine tasting, vineyard tours, cookery classes and Ferrari driving amongst a whole host of other engaging activities.

The focus here of course is enjoyment of hobbies and maximising the most of the time that is yours and doesn’t belong to your career.

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Hide & Chic Boutique: The Rise of the Boutique Hotel

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City Versus Country

When deciding whether to head a bit off the beaten track as with Castello Banfil il Borgo or staying closer to the traditional boutique model and searching in city centres, the main question to ask yourself is around atmosphere. Are you wanting to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city or do you want a calmer environment for your break? One of our favorite city boutique hotels is the Qbic chain, with locations in both London and Amsterdam. The Qbic experience is like none we have ever had as their “cube” concept for their rooms is not only revolutionary but extremely fun and fresh.

Photos provided via Flickr via leyla.aPierre Lesage, onbhotel and Turismo Bahia

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Win Festival Survival Kit from Complete Savings

Win A Festival Kit For Summer!

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The team from Complete Savings has done it again with the chance to win a festival kit for summer, just in time for all of those amazing summer music festivals coming your way. Camping is always a blast but we always seem to change plans when we realize we don’t own any camping gear!

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Win Festival Survival Kit from Complete Savings

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With the sun finally shining over most of Europe and your summer travel plans are shaping up, think about adding in a quick trip to visit at least one of Europe’s amazing summer festivals. We’re hoping ourselves to get to two different festivals, and not the ones you might be thinking of. We’ve been hoping to get to the Ymuno Festival in Wales for a couple years now, who doesn’t love a festivals who’s motto is “Little Festival, Big Heart”? Budapest is still one of our favorite cities in all of Europe and this summer their Sziget Festival has some of the biggest names this summer and is sure to be nothing but unending fun.

This contest is giving 5 lucky winners the chance to spice up their adventures with everything from complete camping attire to all the necessities. The winner will receive a full Festival Survival Kit: a 2 man festival tent, two sleeping bags, two sleeping mats, a mini festival survival kit (includes suncream, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant wipe, plasters, tissues) and two sets of glowsticks!

The four runners up will win a mini festival survival kit each, which includes suncream, mints, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant wipe, refreshing wipe, plasters and tissues! All your essentials in one handy survival pack.

So pack those bags, grab a frisbee and make sure to enter the competition before midnight on June 30 to win!

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Terms & Conditions

  • The main prize: a full festival kit, purchased from Tesco Direct, including: a 2 man festival tent, two sleeping bags, two sleeping mats, two packs of glowsticks & a mini festival ‘survival kit’
  • Runner up prizes: 4 mini festival survival kits by ‘a touch of ginger’, purchased from Play.com
  • UK entrants only
  • Entrants must be 18 or older
  • Competition runs from 12.06.2014 and closes at 11.59pm on 30.06.2014
  • Entrants must a) answer the poll, and b) tweet about the #completesaving competition, mentioning & following @complete_saving
  • Winner and runners up will be chosen at random and notified/announced on Tuesday 2nd July via Twitter or by email
  • Winners must respond within 48 hours of being notified, otherwise the prize may be awarded to another entrant

Some pictures provided via Flickr via Herry Lawford

Our Top Picks For Holidays In The UK

Our Top Picks For Holidays In The UK

 

The United Kingdom, composed of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, has always been a favourite European tourist destinations. It’s rolling country sides, vibrant cities, iconic landmarks and outstanding history, draw people in from all over the world. It’s the ideal place for a family holiday or relaxing weekend away no matter what time of year you wish to visit. We’ve loved our time in the UK and while London is amazing, if you are in the UK please make sure to travel outside of the city limits and see all there is, you will not be disappointed!

So check out some of the most scenic spots in the UK and think a little outside the box (or city) the next time you travel to the UK and find yourself in the beautiful nature that is the United Kingdom. There are few places on Earth you can travel through such lush landscapes between the sea, mountains, plans and woods, and none with such rich history.

 

Our Top Picks For Holidays In The UK

The Lake District

As England’s largest national park, The Lake District (commonly known as ‘The Lakes’) is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in the UK. Situated in the County of Cumbria, this stunning mountainous region is visited by around 14 million tourists each year! If you’re keen on hiking or climbing, this is your spot. With rolling hills and lakes aplenty, this is definitely an area to unleash the explorer in you. Having recently being voted the UK’s most Romantic Destination, this little gem also hold host to England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike) and deepest lake (Wastwater).

Who doesn’t want to experience all the romance of a perfect evening surrounded by beautiful greenery. Sure, England has a ton of rain, but you know what that means…. green everything! Take a chance and plan a summer holiday, you might get a little rain but you’ll never appreciate the sunny days without it!

 

Our Top Picks For Holidays In The UK

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Cornwall

A holiday in Cornwall is perfect for those who want to escape on a relaxing retreat. It’s exquisite natural beauty is incorporated within 296 miles of both coastline and moorland. The peninsula offers golden sandy beaches on the south side and rugged, rocky cliffs on the north. One of the our best recommendations in order to indulge in true Cornish bliss is to stay in a cosy holiday cottage. Not sure weather to go for a quaint cottage or impressive manor house? Check out the fabulous guide from helpful holidays on finding the perfect place to stay. Holiday Cottages offer versatility to have a home away from home – whether that’s by taking along your dog or storing surfboards and kayaks for the next day of adventuring!

Cornwall is one of my favorite places in the UK, and as I have family from the region, I absolutely loved driving through the picturesque towns and villages imaging my relatives living there hundreds of years ago. While it might be easy to get lost along the way, embrace the freedom and simply go where the road takes you, the view will be amazing.

 

Our Top Picks For Holidays In The UK

 

The Scottish Highlands

Our final recommendation for a visit to the UK wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Northwestern parts of glorious Scotland; The Highlands. Whilst it may portray images of men in kilts, tartan and Braveheart, there is much more than meets the eye! For a truly unique experience why not try out Farm Accommodation to really get a taste for agricultural, rural life. If you’re wanting to make life-long friends and discover the ‘true’ heritage of highland crafting and farming, why not take part in the traditions and family lives. With immaculate scenery and a warm country welcome, you will see a whole host of spectacular wildlife including stags, deer, hawks and even seals along the coastline.

So there you have it, some amazing places to visit outside of London and well worth visiting thats for sure. Rent a car, ditch the city for at least a long weekend and venture into some of the most lush, colorful and friendly areas in all of Europe, but bring an umbrella just in case, we always learn the hard way!

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Photos provided in part via Flickr and Martin de Lusenet

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Most Exclusive Holiday parks around the World

Most Exclusive Holiday parks around the World

Camping is something that most of us grew up doing, at at least dreaming of doing. For us, growing up without iPhones or laptops, camping was a time to be truly disconnected from it all. And while we loved the freedom of unplugging, camping these days still gives you all the enjoyment of nature, but with the emergence of luxury camping, you are able to stay connected while being more comfortable than you ever thought possible in the past. From England to Alaska and Australia, check out some of the greatest exclusive holiday parks around the world.

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Marina and I have been excited to be planning a huge camping holiday to Australia and New Zealand towards the end of the year and are hoping to do some of it in style! While an RV might be a quick way to get around for part of our trip, settling down in a luxury campsite for a week is definitely on the list!

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Holiday parks don’t just stop in the UK, there are a number of caravan sites and holiday parks around the world that you can go and enjoy. Being luxurious, they make it a little different. Gala Bingo have an exclusive givaway this May with up to £50,000 worth of prizes. There are 12 holidays to give away to various Park holidays and also a caravan/mobile home plus two years’ worth of park fees. If you are a fan of camping, or just want to experience something different that the usual sun, sea and sand then why not enter? If you think camping holidays are just mud, tents and insects, then take a look at these:

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Most Exclusive Holiday parks around the World

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Waterside Holiday Park is the perfect place to go if you fancy a trip to the English coast. Located in Dorset its ideal if you just want a short weekend away. Having five start leisure facilities including: swimming pools, kids clubs and a spa to indulge in, it’s definitely a trip that you can take the whole family on.

 

Glamping is the perfect choice for anyone who doesn’t quite fancy sleeping in a tent on the cold, hard ground. Many places across the world offer glamping so if you do want to go abroad, you can always combine this with glamping. These glamping units on the privately owned island in Alaska offer you all the comforts of the indoors, outdoors. You can experience a range of activities while still soaking up the sun.

 

If you like spending time in the forest, these holiday tree houses in South East Carolina are the best way to spend your glamping experience. Cosy up in a tree and spend time as a couple or as a family. The natural surroundings are once again the perfect place to experience the great outdoors while still having somewhere to comfortable.

 

Camping outside in the Great Bush in Australia. What more could you want? Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef offers luxury accommodation in the Australian Cape Range National Park. Here you can see Kangaroos or go whale watching in the sea close by. It’s another perfect place if you want to experience something different to the same hotel year on year.

 

So think about camping the next time you pack up for a family holiday because the times have changed, and camping doesn’t have to mean dirt and bug bites anymore. Although these are a bit more expensive, luxury camping can offer more of an experience than you might imagine, and it’s nice to indulge on something now and again, especially if you can be outside!

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Most Exclusive Holiday parks around the World

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

London, England

Enjoying a Weekend Trip To London

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Visiting Europe without spending at least a weekend in London is like getting an ice cream sundae without adding a cherry on top, it just doesn’t make sense. While we had tight travel plans traveling from Ireland to Italy, we were not about to miss a weekend in London. While London might always sound like an expensive trip there are some great ways, include hotel breaks and city passes and cheap eats to help you enjoy an amazing weekend without breaking the bank.

If you are flying into London, all the major airports offer a wide variety of transportation options into the city. So whether you jump on a train, tram, taxi or bus, London is only a short ride away. The cost of transportation can set you back quite a bit during a trip to the UK, but with excellent options like single or multi day Underground passes and the London City Pass, you’ll surely save some big bucks. We opted for the two day tube pass which let us travel absolutely everywhere we wanted without thinking about it. A day pass might be 9 pounds, but it sure is better than dishing out 4 pounds for each ride.

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“A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else…” -Unknown

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As for hotels in the UK, there are of course endless options. While it is nice to stay right in the middle of London, with the tube and especially the day or city pass, no matter what neighborhood you decide to get a hotel in, you’ll be a short ride to the center of town. We opted to stay in East London an thriving, vibrant part of the city with amazing nightlife a bit away from the tourist areas. Brick Lane offers some of the best Indian food you will ever try outside of India as well as some fun and quirky bars and clubs. We enjoyed amazing kebabs at a Libyan restaurant and then sang and danced the night away on Brick Lane. If you are in the mood to dance, check out the Big Chill for some bumping tunes and if you are in the mood to embarrass yourself, check out The Archers. While you might not want to sing yourself, watching college students make idiots of themselves is good fun, plus there are a couple of old timers who are just as drunk and into it as well.

London, EnglandNo trip to London is complete without visiting all the main tourist attractions like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the British Museum. Lucky for you, the majority of the main tourist attractions are all within easy walking distance from each other. Even though it was a classic rainy, wet and windy UK weekend when we were in town, we still managed to walk to all the main sites without getting too soaked. If you find yourself by Westminster Abbey make sure to walk over the bridge and check out the London Eye, quite an amazing ferris wheel and if you chose to take a trip and it is a clear day, you will get amazing views of the city from the top.

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The most important thing to enjoying a weekend trip to London is taking advantage of all the amazing things the city has to offer. Plan you trip, find the best hotel breaks, book in advance, take public transportation and get off the beaten path to find the best hole in the wall restaurants. London is one of the most vibrant, historic a fascinating cities in all of Europe so no matter how close of far you are, a weekend trip to London will always be worth it – we’ll even cross our fingers for you that its sunny!

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

London, England

12 Photos of London That Will Make You Love Rain

Although we only had one wet, rainy day to explore London, we had a blast! London is such a beautiful city even when it is pouring rain. We love taking photos in the rain and London was the perfect city for this! If you ever have a chance to visit London make sure to check out as much as you can and bring an umbrella!

 

London, England

 

London, England

 

London, England

London, England

London, EnglandLondon, England

 

London, England

 

London, England

 

 

London, England

 

London, England

 

London, England

London, England

 

 

 

The Cheltenham Festival- A British Institution

The Cheltenham Festival- A British Institution

 

Set in the lush Gloucestershire countryside and with picturesque views as far as the eye can see, Cheltenham racecourse is the perfect location for the most popular national hunt horse racing festival in the United Kingdom.

Beginning on March 11th and lasting for four days, the 2014 Cheltenham Festival will include 27 races featuring the very best racehorses from across the globe. The prize money on offer at the festival is astronomical, with millions of pounds going to the race winners, as well as many more millions changing hands in the betting areas.

The festival is always extremely well attended, with over 200,000 fans expected to pass through the entrance over the course of the four days. Wearing their best suits and ready to take on the bookies, many of the fans will have travelled from overseas to witness the world’s premier jumps racing festival first-hand.

 

The Cheltenham Festival- A British InstitutionThe Cheltenham Gold Cup

The most famous race of the entire festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which takes place on the fourth and final day. Entrants will run over a distance of just under 3 and a half miles, with 22 fences to jump along the way; a unique test a stamina and speed. The current favourite is last year’s winner, Bobs Worth, who is a 7/4 favourite with Coral.

One of Bobs Worth’s main challengers would have been cue card, trained by Colin Tizzard, who won last year’s Ryanair Chase. Unfortunately Cue Card trainer Tizzard revealed that his champion horse is injured for this year’s festival and will not race. The good news for the neaturals is that this had blown the field wide open and judging by the latest odds the Cheltenham Gold Cup is now any ones to win.

Another challenger may be Silviniaco Conti, who is available at 3/1. This will be a renewal of a Gold Cup battle from last year, with Silviniaco Conti hoping he can turn the tables on Bobs Worth this time. Whoever may emerge as the eventual winner, their name will go down in history alongside some of the greatest race horses of all time.

 

The Cheltenham Festival- A British InstitutionTravelling to Cheltenham

For those travelling from overseas, Cheltenham is best served by air by either Birmingham International Airport, or Manchester Airport. Both are well connected to Cheltenham via a short train journey, with the racecourse then a short two mile trip from Cheltenham train station.

Those looking for a classic British sporting occasion should look no further than the Cheltenham Festival, with four action packed days sure to entertain everyone.

The Stunning Surrounds of England's Lake District
Photo by Alan Cleaver curtesy of Flickr

The Stunning Surrounds of England’s Lake District

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For centuries, some of England’s finest authors, painters and poets have visited the Lake District for inspiration and relaxation. From the time of Wordsworth, who first made the region famous for its beauty, up until Alfred Wainwright’s labour of love in chronicling his journeys amidst the fells, the Lake District has held a special place in English hearts. Athletes as well as artists often make the journey to Cumbria, with traditional fell races providing some of the strictest endurance challenges in the British Isles. For those with a slightly more sedate pace in mind, the Lake District is a perfect place for a hiking and sight-seeing holiday.

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“This spot is where Wordsworth first took in the natural beauty of the Lake District, and nearby is the still operating Swann Inn, where he used to breakfast with Sir Walter Scott…”

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As many of the artists mentioned above have proved, the Lake District can occupy a lifetime’s interest, but there are certain spots that must be visited during even a brief stay. High on any list for a lover of the outdoors should be the town of Keswick, over which looms the mountain of Skiddaw. Perhaps more than any other place in England, Keswick functions as a Mecca for hikers, climbers and trail runners, and hosts the Keswick Mountain Festival each year in May. With a variety of different summits surrounding the town as well as attractions such as the Castlerigg stone circle, visitors are unlikely to run out of things to do. If a hike further afield is desired, a regular bus service out to Borrowdale can deposit an adventurous walker on the flanks of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

The Stunning Surrounds of England's Lake District
Photo by Ashley Coates curtesy of Flickr

Of course, not every visitor to the Lake District will want to pursue mountain adventures with quite that level of vigour. Fortunately, the village of Ambleside provides just the same level of natural beauty, but with rather more sedate alternatives for experiencing it. Nestled on the coast of Lake Windermere, Ambleside can provide a host of shops, cafes and restaurants with sweeping lakeside views, as well as easier ascents of nearby hills and regular summertime steamboat journeys to other points of interest situated on the coast of England’s largest natural lake. Whilst Windermere might be the venue for regular speed record attempts, tourists can now travel the waters in a calmer manner, whether by yacht or by ferry.

Only a short journey northwards from Ambleside, Grasmere provides more beautiful lakeside views, as well as being the home of Dove Cottage. This spot is where Wordsworth first took in the natural beauty of the Lake District, and nearby is the still operating Swann Inn, where he used to breakfast with Sir Walter Scott. There is no doubt that the famous poet loved Grasmere above all other places. Not only did he describe it as “the loveliest spot that man has ever found”, but he is buried in the village cemetery. To the southwest lies Coniston, another picture-perfect settlement, whilst Kendal serves as a larger base of tourism to the southeast of the National Park.

With all of these stunning rural attractions, the Lake District has only one real drawback. With the exception of Windermere and some of the southernmost settlements, it is notoriously difficult to get anywhere within the National Park at a convenient time by public transport. Whilst bus services are available, they tend to be infrequent and sometimes unreliable. For this reason, many visitors choose to fly into the region and then rent private transport for their stay. Fortunately, car hire from Manchester Airport provides a feasible travel alternative, and makes getting around the entirety of Cumbria and the wider North West of England much easier than relying on trains and buses.

 

This post was written by Elliot Watts

Hotel Review: Qbic London City

Hotel Review: Qbic London City “Funky and Fresh Boutique”

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If you are even a casual reader of this blog you are sure to know how much we love boutique hotels. A good place to sleep can really make or break a holiday away from home and while the traditional hotel model will always be there, why not step outside of the box and see how you like a boutique hotel?

If you happen to be in London and are looking for the best boutique experience, Qbic London has you covered. Newly opened, the Qbic London City location is perfect for a short stay or a long holiday as it is right in the middle of the city, walking distance to many locations and full of the life which makes London so great.

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 “The dining kitchen/lounge feels like someone’s hip home and nothing like a hotel lobby…”

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We arrived on a cold and wet January evening (pure London if you as us!) and were delighted at how close it was to the metro and how utterly fun and funky the décor was. The lobby is filled with decorative elements you would never think of seeing in a hotel and it makes you feel instantly at home and nothing like a traditional hotel. The guitar mounted inside the elevator was a nice touch!

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Hotel Review: Qbic London City "Funky and Fresh Boutique"Easily the best part of the Qbic experience are the rooms which are like none we have ever stayed in before. The building itself isn’t particularly impressive and you would never know from the outside, that the rooms are about as futuristic as you can get. Each room contains what can only be described as a “pod” which contains a bathroom, bed, storage space, shower and television in seemingly one piece. There is modern pop art on the walls of the pod and all lighting controlled by easy access panels on the bed frame. The TV is mounted to the base of the bed and conveniently just the right size to curl up and watch some TV. An added extra is the ability to connect any Bluetooth device to the TV with ease.

Qbic has offered top notch coffee makers on each floor which is never more than a few steps away from any room. The free wifi is solid, fast and reliable. Each floor, including the lobby, has their own signal, so no trying to get the lobby wifi from your 3rd floor room with little success.

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Breakfast is always important to any traveler on the road and Qbic offers quite an impressive spread. They offer fresh fruit and protein bars for free for all guests in addition to a free breakfast packaged and delivered to your door each morning and for 7.50 pounds extra an abundance of food is available including breads, muffins, meats, cheeses, yogurts, granola and cereal as well as pre made sandwiches to take along during your day out. The dining room/kitchen/lounge feels like someone’s hip home and nothing like a hotel lobby, so if you don’t feel like going out you have a perfect place to curl up and read or book or get some work done. Vending machines provide all essentials any traveler would need including bathroom and hygiene products as well as any other travel essentials you may need.

Qbic London city is located in the very popular East London and is a stones throw from Brick Lane which houses some of the best Indian cuisine you will find anywhere outside of India as well as a lively and fun nightlife.

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Hotel Review: Qbic London City "Funky and Fresh Boutique"Close to many tube stops, the Aldgate East stop is a 2 minute walk away and the hotel is easily seen from the station exit. No laundry service is available but there is a laundry service available down the street. There are no bright lights pointing you to the hotel from the Aldgate tube station exit so look across the park and you will see it tucked in the back corner. Being a new hotel, we are sure a shiny new sign is on the way soon.

We were thrilled to discovery this great hotel and have no doubt where we will be staying the next time we stroll through London. The staff was extremely nice and helpful, the setting exciting, light and fun and the location perfect for exploring the city.

 

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Cost: Rooms start at 59 GBP

Internet: Free Wifi throughout

Breakfast: snacks for free, 7.50 GBP for full breakfast

Laundry: None on site, available nearby

Location: East London across from Aldgate East tube station and Brick Lane

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Manchester Airport – Travel Extras

Manchester Airport – Travel Extras

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Manchester Airport is located on the nearby outskirts of the bustling, thriving and modern city that is Manchester. The airport itself is the third busiest in the United Kingdom, and the 21st busiest in the whole of Europe. It’s the largest airport outside of London, and serves flights to over a whopping 200 destinations. Because the airport handles so many passengers on an annual basis, its 3 terminals consist of a wide selection of shops, restaurants and general things to do. Not only this, but the airport also offers handy little extras for its flyers. Read on below to find out more information.

 

Travel Money

Manchester Airport works with Travelex to ensure you and other passengers can get the best possible rates for your travel money at the airport. Passengers are able to obtain foreign currency in cash, a prepaid currency card or in travellers’ cheques. The Travelex desks are easily located within the terminals, and are perfect for those who tend to change their money last-minute.

 

Manchester Airport – Travel ExtrasAirport Parking

The airport is well-known for its airport parking facilities available for passengers. Manchester airport parking is cheap, convenient and hassle-free. If you book online with ParkBCP you can save up to 60%. One parking option that is becoming increasingly popular is JetParks, a low-cost parking option that is ideal for stays lasting 1 or 2 weeks. It is only available to pre-book, so it’s important to do so early if you are interested in taking advantage of this service. Similarly, there is JetParks PLUS, in which passengers are able to amend or cancel their booking up to 6 hours before departure, at no charge whatsoever. Manchester Airport provides a number of other airport parking options, so it’s certainly wise to check the website for more information on the matter.

 

Airport Lounges

Manchester Airport has a unique  airport lounge in each of its three terminals, all of which are very popular with business travellers. The dress code is smart-casual, and the price per person is probably a lot less than you would think (check the website for a quote). The lounges provide complimentary food & beverages, sleek & modern interiors, daily newspapers & glossy magazines to read, exceptional service via professional & friendly staff, and generally a relaxing atmosphere to kick start your trip in style. Airport lounges prove to be highly beneficial for travellers, especially before a long-haul flight!

 

FastTrack

FastTrack is a low priced but effective little service offered by Manchester Airport. FastTrack allows passengers to fly through security and reach the departure lounge quicker than ever before, at around just £3.50 per person. The service must be booked before 10pm the day before travelling.

For a detailed list of more of Manchester Airport’s useful passenger services, check their website.

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This post was written by Lucy West.

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