The prettiest places to visit in the UK this spring

This Easter, why not take a last minute trip to one of our very own beautiful spots. At this time of year, the country is coming to life with the colour of magnificent purple and yellow spring flowers. At last, the weather is getting milder with the promise of warmer days yet to come.

Bodnant Gardens, Wales

This Easter there is a new area of Bodnant Gardens to explore, Furnace Wood and Meadow. A never before open to the public area, gardeners have been working extra hard to get it in tip top shape. It’s rich in magnificent wildlife and has a diversity of both native and exotic trees.

Yorkshire Dales

With beautiful rolling meadows, in green and yellow, Yorkshire Dales is picture perfect. If you have a spare day over the Easter break, take some time out to enjoy the Yockenthwaite to Cray wildlife walk. It stretches over six miles, taking a stroll over limestone pavement where you’ll get to explore the glaciated valleys and the beautiful flower-rich meadows of the Dales.

Brownsea Island, Dorset

Located in Poole Harbour, this Easter there’s a special treat in store for those who visit Brownsea Island. They are hosting a Cadbury Easter trail with lots of chocolate prizes! The island itself is like something from another world and is definitely with adding to your travel list this year. You’ll discover plenty of wildlife, walks as well as adventure sports and camping.

Wallington Estate, Northumberland

Wallington Estate is the much-loved home to generations of the unconventional Trevelyan. In spring you’ll be taken back to your childhood days of spotting frog spawn in ponds and discovering secret gardens. This time of year is also lambing season. Visit now and you’ll be in for a treat!

Next time you travel, book your airport taxi with cabmania.com for the lowest prices guaranteed. Our reverse auction system allows cabbies to bid for your fare and you choose the winner based on user ratings.

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Love Italy? How to save money on your next vist

It may be a little more expensive to travel to Europe this year but we’ll show you how to live it up in style and still stay within your budget.

Your Hotel

Italian’s love a bargain. Whilst most Brit’s probably assume a hotel price is fixed, Italians love to haggle over the price of their accommodation. They’ll haggle over everything! Next time you are in Italy try asking for a discounted rate or see if they can include any extras for free. Check out this blog on the fine art of haggling in Italy.

Food and Drink

Italians generally have one big meal a day, usually at lunch. Breakfast is a modest affair, probably just coffee and a pastry or biscuit. If you head out in the evening for dinner you might find that most of the restaurants are packed with foreigners. Where are all the Italians? It’s tradition for Italians to meet friends for drinks after work for Aperitivo hour which includes free snacks.

If you want to save money, do like the Italians and eat your main meal at lunch and go out in the evening for Aperitivo hour. This usually includes classic Italian drinks such as Aperol spritz, cocktails and delicious plates of snacks like mini-pizzas, cheeses, olives and bruchetta. Learn more about Italian food culture here.

Beaches and Leisure

Italians usually avoid spending money if they can and will favour free beaches over the overpriced, hot-spots. Renting umbrellas during the high season can be very expensive. Before you travel, research national parks in the area which can often be an excellent place to go hiking and often have beach areas with lower cost entry fees rather than rent-per-day umbrellas. Four stunning national parks in Italy.

Next time you travel, book your airport taxi with cabmania.com for the lowest prices guaranteed. With our reverse auction system, you can choose the winning cab company based on price and user ratings. They bid, you choose.

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How to keep yourself entertained on a long flight

It can be difficult to keep boredom at bay whilst travelling. Knowing that you are stuck on a plane with no escape for hours on end doesn’t help. If you are lucky, you can snooze the hours away. Some of us may need a little more advance preparation to keep ourselves entertained. We have some ideas to keep you busy the next time you fly.

1. Read a Book

Sounds obvious. Have you ever packed your books in your suitcase and forgotten all about the flight? I have. If you have a Kindle, make sure to download your books in advance and ensure it’s well charged.

2. Watch a Box Set

If there’s something you’ve been planning to watch for ages but haven’t gotten around to it, now is the time. You’ll need a bit of forward planning for this. Download the episodes onto your iPad or laptop for offline viewing using Netflix, iTunes or Amazon. Sit back and let the hours roll by!

3. Clean up your Phone

This is the one task everyone puts off. Having a few hours with no Wi-Fi is a great opportunity to clean up your phone by deleting old contacts, images and apps you don’t use. You can even sort your apps into folders if you are feeling very organised. Maybe you’ll even become motivated to clean up your Facebook friend list while you are away? 🙂

4. Read Articles

With some advance planning, you can save some articles to access off-line while you are in the air. Catch up on the latest news or your favourite blogs while you relax. Here’s how to do it.

5. Inflight Entertainment

The obvious choice! Chances are, there will be at least one movie that you will watch. That’s if you are lucky to get your own TV screen. They also have music and games to help you while away the hours.

Next time you fly, book your airport taxi in advance with cabmania.com. Advance booking secures the best rates. With our reverse aucton system, cabbies bid for your fare and you choose the winner, based on price and user ratings.

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How to travel the world for free. Or find a free pet sitter!

By pet sitting, you are not only getting a free place to stay, you are fulfilling a real need. Often the lack of a pet sitter can hold people back from travelling. The homeowner can go on holidays safe in the knowledge that their beloved pet is well cared for. As an added bonus, they are avoiding the associated costs of kennels or professional sitters. It’s the perfect solution for pet lovers who love to travel.

How House Sitting Works

As your blog author, I use trustedhousesiters.com, which is a paid subscription site set up to match house sits and sitters. Being a cat owner, I’ve used the site many times to find sitters for our cat when I travel with my partner. There’s an option to register with a dual membership so you can find house sits abroad and have someone take care of your pet.

You can find house sits anywhere around the world, varying in duration from a weekend to a few months. Technically you could live rent-free for by offering to care for people’s pets and home. One sitter I met in London, saved for his wedding by going from one house sit to another, cutting down on his rent costs.

Owners will list the dates they need a sitter, their pets, any special requirements they have, the type of home they have and other details you’ll need. You get to stay in a “home from home” with the comfort of a pet.

Is it safe to leave your home with a stranger?

Our friends ask us if we are nervous leaving our home with someone we don’t know. Firstly, you have to pay a yearly fee to join the site so it deters anybody who isn’t serious about committing to the sit. There is also a three-step identity verification process for anyone signing up as a sitter with cross checks into possible criminal background. All users are reviewed on the site and they can also add references from previous external sits. We have had nothing but positive experiences so far.

Whether you are a pet owner or would like to travel by sitting, we hope this helps!

The next time you travel, book your airport taxi in advance with cabmania.com. Advance booking with our reverse auction system secures the best prices. Enter your destination and cabbies bid for your fare. You choose the winning cab company based on user ratings.

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Perfect Mothers Day Ideas

Create the perfect day for your mum (or wife) this year to show how much you love and appreciate her. This year Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, March 26th. The date changes each year but it’s traditionally on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Breakfast in Bed

A lot of mum’s say it’s the small things that matter instead of big gifts. If you live with the mother of your children, why not get up early, take the kids downstairs and prepare a nice breakfast to take up to her in bed. Flowers and homemade cards would be a nice touch. Don’t forget to do the washing up afterwards 🙂

Some “Me Time”

When interviewed by the Birmingham Mail, lots of mum’s said they’d like a bit of ‘me time’ to relax without the kids. They’d love to take a long bath, go for a walk or head out shopping without the kids tagging along.

Pampering

If your mum is well past her days of having young kids, she might appreciate a bit of pampering or fine dining. There may be still time to book into a day spa near you for some TLC. You could also hit the town for a fancy afternoon tea, have lunch in a restaurant she always wanted to try, or even take a trip to the theatre.

Gifts

You can find beautiful, unique gifts online in places like notonthehighstreet.com and etsy.com to suit all budgets, that you won’t find anywhere else. Most items are handmade and can be personalised. Most mums will appreciate fresh flowers unless they are allergic of course!

Travel

Why not whisk your mum away for a surprise mini-break? You can sometimes find amazing late offers when booking last-minute.

Next time you travel, book your airport taxi with cabmania.com for the lowest prices guaranteed. Cabbies bid for your fare so you get the best deals. They bid, you choose!

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What to do this St Partick’s Day in the UK

There’s no better place to celebrate St Patrick’s day than the Emerald Isle, but if you can’t make it there, don’t fret. There will be celebrations across the UK with parades, singing, dancing and of course, there’s always an Irish bar to nip into for a pint of Guinness or two if you fancy it.

Trafalgar Square

Traditionally St Patrick’s day is March 2017, however, the main London annual celebration at Trafalgar Square will take place on March 19th this year. The day will kick off with a flamboyant parade starting at Piccadilly from 12pm on a 1.5 mile route passing some of London’s most iconic landmarks. You’ll be treated to performances by West End Stars, various Irish acts and comedian Jarlath Regan will host a céilí on the main stage. Enjoy traditional and modern Irish food from the market stalls.

Birmingham

This year the Birmingham St Patricks Day Parade will take place on Sunday 12th March 2017 from noon until 2pm. It’s one of the highlights of the city’s annual calendar. The theme of this year’s parade is dance. In a celebration of all things Irish, the streets will be filled with brightly coloured floats and you can expect an abundance of beautiful, unique costumes. For the first time ever, the city will host a fun run before the event. The Emerald Mile is expected to have over 250 participants. 

Derby

Derby Irish Festival is set to be the biggest ever this year, with the Ambassador for Ireland Daniel Mulhall, joining in the festivities for the final day. It will take place between 10th – 17th March to celebrate St Patricks Day. The festival will commence at Derby Marketplace on Saturday 11th March at 10am. A special black tie ball has been arranged for Saturday night. The St Patrick’s Day Ball starts at 7:15pm with Irish dancing performers and music from the JJ Galway Band. Tickets may still be available if you contact the organisers.

Next time you travel, book your airport transfer in advance with cabmania.com for the lowest prices guaranteed. Our reverse auction system lets cabbies bid for your fare so you get the best deal. They bid, you choose.

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The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide

Whatever your destination, you want to be comfortable throughout the flight and keep yourself entertained. As space is at a premium, we’ve put together a list of essentials that should see you through any flight.

Carry-On Bag

Let’s start with the basics! If you are also checking in luggage, a large tote bag will be perfect for your carry-on needs. For those going light, backpacks can be incredibly space saving. They may not look very elegant, but they will pack a lot in there. Organise the space inside with packing cubes, the latest craze in the travel world!

Snacks and Drinks

The food and beverages on the plane are notoriously overpriced and not known for their quality. Stock up before you get on the plane. Most airports will have a choice of brand name deli’s that you could check out in advance if you want something substantial and fresh to take on. For longer flights, it’s good to have a stock of snack bars, fruit and other munchies to keep you going. Don’t forget your Berocca for a vitamin C boost to keep cold germs at bay.

Entertainment

A must-have on any flight! Pack either Kindle or iPad or even a book. Don’t forget your headphones so you can listen to music or watch a film if it’s a noisy flight. Pack a portable battery charger for long flights that don’t have charging facilities.

Personal Care

Always pack a spare change of clothes in case of lost luggage. You never know what might happen! Face cleansing wipes and hand sanitizer are useful ways to freshen up on flights. Pack lip balm as the air can be very dry on the plane, as well as your regular personal care products in travel size. The flight liquid rules can be found here. It’s always good to have deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste to arrive fresh at your destination.

Sleep

Last but not least. Invest in a silk sleep mask, decent ear plugs and pack a large shawl/scarf which you can use as a blanket. Memory foam neck pillows are a great way to get some sleep on the plane without your head flopping from side to side!

Next time you fly, book your airport transfer in advance with cabmania.com for the lowest fares guaranteed!

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How to use TripAdvisor to find fun things to do

TripAdvisor has come a long way from the early days of hotel and accommodation reviews. You can now use it to discover all kinds of exciting new places, both in your hometown and whilst travelling. We all know that TripAdvisor can help you search for the perfect place to stay, but we’re going to show you how to use it like a pro!

Discover New Places to Eat

Do you eat out at the same places all the time? Try something new by looking up the top restaurants in your area on TripAdvisor. Tick the boxes that best suit you – if you are looking for family- friendly or something romantic, even the type of cuisine, you can specify only to show those restaurants. Users leave ratings and often detailed reviews for each that will help you make a decision. This is especially useful if you are abroad and you don’t know the area at all. TripAdvisor shows the restaurant location on a map to make it handy for you to find from your hotel.

See Something New or Try an Activity

By searching “Things to do” in your location, you’ll discover a wealth of fun activities to try, from sightseeing, museums, concerts, tours and more active outdoors pursuits. You’ll also find the local shopping hotspots and nightlife if that’s more up your street. In London for example, top of the list is the British Museum and you can also find the Thames River tours and a fun Faulty Towers dining experience.

Ask Travel Questions in the Forum

Want to visit a hotel with kids but you’re not sure if it’s appropriate? Confused about some aspect of a local transport system? Want ideas for a romantic weekend in Paris? Ask a question in the travel forum. It’s located up in the top menu bar. You may find that someone else has already asked the question if you use the search tool.

Travelling soon? Book your airport taxi ahead of time with cabmania.com to get the lowest price. With our reverse auction system, cabbies bid for your fare so you get the best deal. They bid – you choose!

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Springtime Festivals In the UK

Our British winter appears to be never ending, but rejoice! We can soon say goodbye to the dreary grey days and welcome the fresh colours of springtime. What better way to celebrate than planning a trip to one of England’s many springtime festivals and events. 

Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham

Flatpack is one of Birmingham’s most inspiring and quirky festivals running 4 – 9 April 2017. You’ll find a compelling collection of experiential cinematic treats, cropping up in venues across the whole of Birmingham. From cycle powered short screenings to late night parties, it promises to be truly unique.

The V.I.B. (Very Independent Brighton) Food Tour, Central Brighton

Fancy a weekend at the seaside? This is a two-day weekend tour starting in 10 – 11 March 2017 and running right up until the end of October. A foodie heaven, it’s a celebration of unique makers and the unsung heroes of Brighton’s indy food and drinks scene. Find out more here.

Marsden Cuckoo Festival, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Let your hair down and have a good old-English knees up in rural West Yorkshire. The cuckoo is an ancient symbol to herald the coming of spring and is celebrated in the traditional-style festival at Marsden in April. You’ll find morris dancing, a maypole, a craft fair, street entertainment, duck races, storytelling, a colourful procession as well as lots of other free entertainment.

Harrogate Flower Show

England’s largest and more prestigious gardening event, The Harrogate Flower Show in April, is not to be missed if you have a love for the garden. The show will host the UK’s biggest floral art marquee with hundreds of beautiful designs created by flower clubs, flower arrangers and florists. You’ll also find lots of fun activities for children such as crafting and potting. Talented chefs will be demonstrating their creations in the Cookery Theatre.

Upcoming trip planned? Book your airport transfer in advance with cabmania.com to save even more money. Our reverse auction system means you get the best deals. They bid – you choose.

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Half-term things to do with the kids

Half-term is almost upon us! If you haven’t fully planned your kids week this half-term (Monday, February 13 – Sunday, February 19), we’ve thought of a few fun things to keep the kids entertained.

Kid-Friendly Museums

Plan ahead and take a day trip to one of the many child-friendly museums in the UK, such as The World of Beatrix Potter in Windermere or The National Space Centre inLeicester. For the top ten child-friendly museums, take a look at fun kids.

Jorvik Viking festival in York

The kids will love to see Vikings, hear their stories and watch them in their strange and wonderful surroundings. This year kids can also take part in sword fighting, archery and play Viking kids games. They can also try their hand at making jewellery and clay pots. See full details here.

The Robot Zoo, London

If you are in London over half-term, the Robot Zoo exhibition at the Horniman is a fun and educational display dedicated to animals. Your kids will discover facts about the animal kingdom through robots. How to bats see in the dark? How to chameleons change colour? The Robot Zoo is a fascinating exhibition that will lead your kids to appreciate the amazing abilities of animals.

For those rainy days when you haven’t got much planned, we have some tips:

  1. Get out those board games that the kids haven’t played with since Christmas and have a family board game day.
  2. Bake with the kids. Yes, it’s messy, but they’ll love it! Here are 59 easy baking recipes to get you started.
  3. Arts and Crafts. Check out activity village for lots of inspirational ideas and go stock up with supplies.

Travelling soon? Book your airport transfer with cabmania.com for the lowest rates guaranteed. Our reverse auction system allows cabbies to bid for your fare, so you get the best deal. They bid – you choose.

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