Frequently Asked Questions

Using our firsthand experience of our destinations and our many years in the travel industry we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help our guests with some of things we know are important to you. In the sections below we cover somegeneral travel questions as well as specifics relating to some of unique destinations.

We invest a great deal in sending our staff to our destinations and so if your question is not answered below then please do not hesitate to contact one of our travel experts. We all love discussing our holidays and experiences with our guests and so if we don't cover your question below please call us and we'll get the answer for you as quickly as possible.

How do I book an Artisan Travel holiday?

We like to keep things simple so all you need to do is give us a call on 01670 785 085. One of our travel experts will take you through the process over the phone. We like to provide our guests with the personal touch and give you the chance to ask any questions and discuss your holiday with someone who has been to the destination. An initial deposit of £400 per person is required to secure your holiday, which is payable by debit or credit card (a 2% charge is payable on credit cards). All of your holiday details will be confirmed to you in writing. All you need to do is confirm that your details are correct. Your balance is payable nine weeks before departure.

Do Artisan holidays include travel insurance?

Travel insurance is not included in your holiday. We consider adequate and appropriate travel insurance to be a pre-requisite to booking. You will be provided with the details of our preferred travel insurance provider at the time of booking. If you decide not to purchase travel insurance from our preferred provider, you must ensure that any alternative insurance provides adequate medical and cancellation cover. Please bear in mind that not all alternative insurance policies may offer cover for the sort of activities that you may be taking part in during your holiday.

Please read your policy details carefully and take them with you on holiday. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance cover you purchase is adequate for your particular needs. We do not check alternative insurance policies.

The Artisan Travel Company Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Campbell Irvine Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Will I need to buy specialist equipment?

In short the answer is no. In terms of our winter holidays, in the majority of cases we provide all of your winter clothing for the duration of your stay and in all cases you receive it for the activities that you will participate in. This typically includes your thermo-overalls, winter boots, mittens and socks. Our expert guides provide you with all of the safety and specialist equipment you require for any activity.

For each of our holidays we provide you with a comprehensive packing list of items and clothing that you need to bring with you such as walking boots or thermals. You can rest assured that the heavy and expensive items have been taken care of already, leaving you more room in your luggage for mementos of your Artisan holiday.

Will I need to make a local payment?

No, the prices that you see in our brochure will be the price that you pay for your holiday and the experiences included within it.

You may be required to pay additional costs such as airport departure taxes, payment of visa entry on arrival or National Park entry fees, as these cannot not be paid for in advance. The terms of the holiday will clearly state this.

You can view what is included in every one of our holidays on the trip pages of this website, as we like to make things as simple as possible for our guests.

Are flights included in Artisan holidays?

Where appropriate, we include flights within your holidays as in Arctic regions, the arrival options are limited and we need to secure flights for our clients in advance.

You can see the exact transport arrangements that are included in each of our holidays on the individual trip pages.

If you want to book one of our flight inclusive holidays as 'land only' i.e. without flights, then you can see the options available for this in the pricing section for each holiday. We will always try and accommodate you if possible but arrival restrictions may be applicable, so please always ensure that you have all confirmations from us before arranging your own flights.

If you would like to customise your holiday or would like us to arrange flights from another airport, then please get in touch and we will be more than happy to look at the options available for you.

If flight prices exceed the allowance cost included within the holiday package, then you may be asked to pay a flight supplement. If this is the case, it will be made very clear to you at the time of booking.

What happens if I miss my flight or the flight is cancelled?

If you miss your flight at your initial departure point, you must find the information desk for the airline you are travelling with and inform them of this. They will endeavour to put you on the next available flight to your destination; they may charge for this. Sadly, we have no control over the airlines and the only people who are able to provide the most suitable arrangements for you are the airline staff. Once you have your onward travel confirmed then please contact your local representatives or our UK office on the out of office number as soon as possible to inform us of the changes – these numbers are all listed on your final travel letter. Then we will assist and arrange your new transfers if necessary. Please note that there may be an additional cost for these.

As many of our trips are located in remote regions of the world sometimes the next available flight may not be until the next day, so please allow plenty of time to get to the airport to avoid missing your flight - we would hate for this to ruin the enjoyment of your holiday. You need to confirm with your insurance provider what you would be able to reclaim from them in such circumstances.

If your flight is cancelled, the airline will inform you of the arrangements that have been made for you, so please contact the airline staff at the airport as soon as possible. Once again, once you have your onward travel confirmed please contact your local representatives on our UK office or out of office number as soon as possible to inform us of the changes. Sadly flight cancellations are beyond our control but we will be happy to assist you with your claim to your insurance company. We will of course endeavour to reschedule your itinerary to try and minimise any changes.

What happens if I miss my connecting flight due to a delay?

In many cases, as our destinations are in remote areas, more than one flight may be required to reach your arrival point. In exceptional circumstances one flight may be delayed to the extent that it impacts on your next.

In these circumstances please find the nearest information desk for the relevant airline and inform them of this if they have not already approached you on arrival, we recommend doing this as quickly as you possibly can. They will endeavour to arrange travel on the next available flight to your destination. As some of our destinations are so remote, the next flight may be the next day. The airline will arrange all of your accommodation and meals for you in these circumstances. We will do everything we can to ensure that the impact on your holiday is minimised and assist you with any insurance claims on your return.

How fit do I have to be to take part in an Artisan Travel holiday?

This answer to this question is dependent on your choice of holiday. On the vast majority of our holidays there is no need for any special training or high levels of fitness. We give each holiday a 'pace' rating so that you can clearly determine the holidays that best suit you and your party. Our travel experts are always on hand to help you with any questions you may have.

With our winter holidays you tend to spend a decent amount of time in low temperatures and this in itself can be tiring so please also take this into account.

Most of our holidays that include activities are designed with beginners in mind. We have designed them so that our guests can really enjoy them rather than see them as anything that should be endured.

You may want to consider your personal level of fitness if thinking about our dedicated husky and snowmobiling expeditions. You need to be in good shape to get the most out of these physical and technical holidays. We would also not recommend booking some of these, unless you have had previous experience of the activities. For more details please see the individual trip pages or get in touch with us. We try all of the activities and no one in this office is super fit so we will be more than happy to talk you through anything.

Please see our sections on travel health and safety and trip preparation for more details.

Is there a minimum and maximum age?

As a company we do not take bookings from those under 18 years old. On some of our small group holidays the minimum age for participation may be lower but this is always clearly stated on the individual holiday.

During our winter tailor made holidays, where guests choose from a weekly schedule of activities, you may also be joined by younger participants (the minimum age for some gentle activities can be as young as four) but this tends to be restricted to the school holiday period.

Obviously, there may be children within the hotels but this is again mainly restricted to the school holidays. If you are only able to travel during these times and would like our advice on where would be best to travel for a more adult only environment please get in touch.

There is no maximum age as such on our holidays as it is very much about the individual and the oldest guest on one of our holidays was 87! Providing that you feel that you are able to participate and have a positive mental attitude, you should have a wonderful time.

Importantly if there is any health or age related issue that may stop you from participating fully, you should consult you GP prior to booking for their advice and also ensure you have the correct insurance.

Can I bring my children with me?

If your children are over the age of 18, our Artisan Travel experiences can provide some incredible family memories. If your children are under 18, our sister company, Activities Abroad offers a range of dedicated family holidays, designed by families for families. Here you will find a range of both winter and summer options for those aged five and up. Please see www.activitiesabroad.com for further details.

Can you cater for special dietary requirements?

If you have any special dietary requirements then please let us know at the time of booking. We often have requests to cater for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, fish free diets etc, and the accommodation providers and guides will always do all they can to cater for them accordingly. We can of course also cater for dietary requirements based on religion, food intolerances and allergies.

Due to the remote location of many of our destinations, the options can be a little limited for those with dietary needs. Please provide us with as much information, as far in advance as possible.

Where buffet food is included, there will be a vegetarian option available. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be a little hard to come by in the depths of the winter months in some of our destinations so they can be a little scarce.

If we are arranging your flights we will always aim to ensure that the airline is made aware of any dietary requirements. Dietary requirements with the airline cannot always be guaranteed in our experience, you may wish to consider taking your own food as a backup plan - especially where there is 'buy on board' food as the options can be very limited.

Are there single supplements?

The answer on most holidays is sadly yes and these will be detailed in the pricing section of the trip page. We always try to keep these to the absolute minimum possible but unfortunately accommodation providers around the world charge a premium for single occupancy rooms.

In some cases, there are also single supplements payable for activities such as snowmobile safaris – these will also be detailed on the trip pages. Again we always try to keep these to a minimum.

Do I have to travel in a group?

No you do not. Obviously we have small group holidays available for those who enjoy the company of like minded travellers however many of our holidays are operated on your chosen date, just for you.

During our winter tailor made holidays, although they are not group based, there will be other people taking part in the activities with you in most cases.

How do I pay the balance of my holiday?

Your balance is due no later than nine weeks before departure. If you book within nine weeks of departure you will be asked to pay the full balance at the time of booking.

You can choose to pay your balance by bank transfer, debit card, credit card (a 2% charge will apply) or cheque. Details of all of the options available will be uploaded into your online account.

Do I need to pay a deposit?

A deposit is payable at the time of booking in order to secure your holiday and we recommend paying this by debit card as a 2% charge is applied (by the bank and not us) to credit card transactions.

The standard deposit amount is £400 per person, however if we are arranging flights for you that are not included in the holiday package we will also ask for the full cost of the flights In addition to your £400 deposit. Your balance is payable nine weeks before departure.

How is my money protected?

We hold an Air Travel Organiser's License issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL number 6865). When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday* from us, you will receive an ATOL Certificate.

This lists what is financially protected, where you can get information from and who to contact if things go wrong. We, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL Certificate, will provide you with the services listed on the ATOL Certificate (or a suitable alternative).

In some cases, where neither we nor the supplier are able to do so for reasons of insolvency, an alternative ATOL holder may provide you with services you have bought or a suitable alternative (at no extra cost to you). You agree to accept that in those circumstances the alternative ATOL holder will perform those obligations and you agree to pay any money outstanding to be paid by you under your contract to that alternative ATOL holder. However, you also agree that in some cases it will not be possible to appoint an alternative ATOL holder, in which case you will be entitled to make a claim under the ATOL scheme (or your credit card issuer where applicable). If we, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL certificate, are unable to provide the services listed (or a suitable alternative, through an alternative ATOL holder or otherwise) for reasons of insolvency, the Trustees of the Air Travel Trust may make a payment to (or confer a benefit on) you under the ATOL scheme. You agree that in return for such a payment or benefit, you assign absolutely to those Trustees any claims which you have or may have arising out of or relating to the non-provision of the services, including any claim against us, the travel agent or your credit card issuer where applicable. You also agree that any such claims may be re-assigned to another body, if that other body has paid sums you have claimed under the ATOL scheme.

*The flights and flight- inclusive holidays we arrange are ATOL protected providing they are made available in the UK. For further information visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk.

If you are travelling on a package where we are not arranging any flight transportation for you, your monies are held in a client account in trust until after you return from your holiday.

If you have any questions relating to financial protection, please do not hesitate to contact us as two of members of our management team used to work within the CAA. They will be more than happy to take you through any concerns that you may have.

Please see our section on Financial Protection for further information.

Can I stay in an igloo or an ice hotel?

In many of our destinations, there are options to customise your stay and spend the night in some unique accommodation. There are numerous options to choose from.

We can offer an overnight stay at Lainio Snow Village in a snow suite. You will eat your evening meal in the ice restaurant and admire the ice and snow craftsmanship.

Torassieppi Winter Village is another fantastic addition, spending the night in a snow room is an unforgettable experience.

In Norway we are able to arrange a stay in the Sorrisniva Snow and Igloo Hotel in Alta. In Kirkenes, there is the Snow Hotel to provide a unique addition to your holiday.

- In addition to having their own individual character and charm, they are all redesigned each year by dedicated artists and architects.

If you would like an igloo without the snow, then take a look at our holiday at Kakslauttanen Igloo Village where glass igloos are the star attraction. They provide spectacular views of the night sky and with any luck the Northern Lights - without the need for an Arctic grade sleeping bag.

Any of our travel experts will be more than happy to advise you of the options in each destination and you can find details under the 'Customise' tab on each holiday page.

Will I be cold?

On the vast majority of our winter holidays you will be provided with Arctic winter clothing for the duration of your stay and it is always included for activities such as dog sledding and snowmobiling. This winter gear is designed for the low Arctic winter temperatures and consists typically of a one or two piece set of thermal overalls (imagine a duvet made into a suit) to protect you, a pair of winter boots which are normally paired with some woolly socks to keep your toes warm.

Our guides will provide you with large mittens (much warmer than gloves with fingers) and in many cases hats are also available to borrow.

If you couple all of this with the packing list we provide, which includes the all important layers to go under your suit (thermals, fleeces etc), you should be comfortably warm.

You may also like to consider hand and feet warmers for that extra bit of warmth.

Aside from the clothing, it is also very important that you are well fuelled for a day in the Great Outdoors, so make sure that you take advantage of the Scandinavian breakfasts.

If your activity is more than a couple of hours, you will usually break mid way for a coffee and snack around an open fire - another opportunity to warm yourselves.

The other important element to remember is that activities such as dog sledding (when driving the sled) and cross-country skiing are physical and although they are in most cases designed for beginners you will find that the activity will keep you warm. You may find yourself taking one of those layers off.

Will I see the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and whether you can see them or not is determined by many conditions - a view of the Lights can never be guaranteed. However, the sun is currently at the peak of its Solar Cycle which occurs every 11 years and solar activity levels are set to be exceptional over the next few winters. This is likely to be the best opportunity to see the Lights for a generation.

Obviously a dark sky is a pre-requisite for an Aurora viewing and they are only visible between September and early April. You also need to be situated within the Aurora Zone, the band that circles the Arctic where the Lights are at their most visible.

If the solar conditions are right, we also have to hope for clear skies as nothing is more detrimental to Northern Lights viewing than cloud cover. Many holidays on our website include evening activities that are dedicated to searching for the Northern Lights and the local guides use all of their knowledge to help you to achieve your goal.

If you are looking for a dedicated Northern Lights holiday, we recommended that you visit our sister company The Aurora Zone (www.theaurorazone.com). All holidays featured on the website are 100% dedicated to giving guests the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Will I see the Midnight Sun?

The Midnight Sun, when the sun never dips beneath the horizon peaks around the summer solstice north of the Arctic Circle, i.e. the 21st June each year.

For the weeks either side of the solstice the Arctic is bathed in light for 24 hours a day with darkness never quite setting in for many weeks.

This is a natural phenomenon and experiencing a day that never ends is on many peoples' bucket lists and with good reason as it is truly magical to be sitting outside at midnight in broad daylight.

The long days mean that you have so much time to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Arctic regions - in many cases; our guides have to actually remind people to go to bed. Luckily, there are black out blinds in most bedrooms to help you get to sleep.

To see the actual sun above the horizon at midnight requires clear skies and these are never guaranteed.

Should I tip?

Tipping is not an expectation in Scandinavia as it is in say Canada and North America.

In Scandinavia you are under no obligation to tip any staff for their services, however if you feel that the guides, staff or representatives are doing a good job please tip them as you feel appropriate.

In Canada and North America it is customary to tip at least 15% on all hotel and restaurant bills, as well as tipping at least 10% for drivers etc. Although tipping is discretionary, you need to be aware that it is expected. If you feel that the service you have been provided with in a restaurant or by a guide is not deserving of a tip, of course that is a different matter and you are never under any obligation.

If you ever feel that for any reason the service provided in one of our hotels or by one of our guides or representatives is not of the standard you expect, please let them and us know. We strive for exceptional levels of customer service and so anything that our guests feel falls short is unacceptable to us and we always welcome the chance to improve.

How and when will I receive my holiday documents?

After you have completed the booking process and paid your deposit with our sales team, you will be asked to confirm, via email, that your booking details are correct. After which, our administration team will process your booking. This can take up to seven working days during the busiest times.

Our team will issue you with a username and password for your own log in area on our website, where all of your confirmations, receipts and eventually tickets will be uploaded. You will not be sent anything in the post (unless you request us to).

Please log in to your account as soon as possible, as there are vital bits of information stored there (including safety information and full details of what you need to take on holiday).

Once your balance has been paid, we will issue your final travel documents (tickets etc.) and these will be uploaded to your online account around two weeks before departure. If you have any queries regarding your online account or documentation please contact our admin team on 01670 785 010.

What is half board?

Many of our holidays include half board or more. Half board is your breakfast and your evening meal. The format of both (whether they are set menu or buffet) does vary from place to place. Half board does not include any drinks. With breakfast, tea and coffee are provided and drinking water is readily available throughout your stay.

Drinks can be purchased in the majority of accommodation, except in wilderness cabins where we recommend taking your own alcohol if you would like it.

Will there be tea and coffee facilities?

In general these facilities are not provided as standard, especially in Scandinavian accommodation. If they are included then this will be mentioned within the accommodation text for each individual holiday. Tea and coffee are available for purchase throughout the day in many destinations and in some, they are provided free of charge at reception.

If like many of us at Artisan, tea and coffee are an essential part of any day, then we recommend taking a travel kettle and your favourite beverages with you.

Tea and coffee are included with your breakfasts and in most cases with your evening meal.

How do I access my online account?

Please click on the Log In button at the top of the home page. You will then be prompted for your username and password, which our administration team will have issued for you at the time of booking.

The first time you log in, you will be asked to confirm some details and then you will be given access to all of your documentation. You will be notified by email when a new document has been added to your account.

In your account you will find your trip dossier (including full packing list), your receipts, booking details, important safety documentation, as well as payment details. After your balance has been paid, your tickets and vital travel documents will be uploaded approximately two weeks prior to departure.

If you have any issues accessing your online account please contact our administration team on 01670 785 010.

How fit do I have to be to take part in an Artisan Travel holiday?

This answer to this question is dependent on your choice of holiday. On the vast majority of our holidays there is no need for any special training or high levels of fitness. We give each holiday a 'pace' rating so that you can clearly determine the holidays that best suit you and your party. Our travel experts are always on hand to help you with any questions you may have.

With our winter holidays you tend to spend a decent amount of time in low temperatures and this in itself can be tiring so please also take this into account.

Most of our holidays that include activities are designed with beginners in mind. We have designed them so that our guests can really enjoy them rather than see them as anything that should be endured.

You may want to consider your personal level of fitness if thinking about our dedicated husky and snowmobiling expeditions. You need to be in good shape to get the most out of these physical and technical holidays. We would also not recommend booking some of these, unless you have had previous experience of the activities. For more details please see the individual trip pages or get in touch with us. We try all of the activities and no one in this office is super fit so we will be more than happy to talk you through anything.

If you are unsure about the physical demands of a particular holiday please ask us and our team will help accordingly.

If you or any member of your party is pregnant or has any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday or has any special requirements as a result of any medical condition or disability (including any which affect the booking process), please tell us before you confirm your booking so that we can assist you in considering the suitability of the arrangements and/or making the booking. If necessary you will need to ensure that you have contacted a doctor and discussed the itinerary before booking and you will also need to ensure you are covered by travel insurance, which is a pre-requisite for booking one of our holidays.

How cold will it be in Finland?

The answer to this question is entirely dependent on the time of year you are travelling and where you are travelling to as in Helsinki the weather is a lot milder than in Lapland. As the majority of our Finnish holidays are based above the Arctic Circle, the information below is based on the average conditions in the Lappish town of Kittila.

If you are travelling from the end of May - August, then you should expect temperatures to range on average between 15 and 20 degrees during the day. Like any Northern European destination, there can be days of poor weather and days of glorious sunshine when the temperatures can rise to 30 degrees or more. You can also certainly get four seasons in one month here. In June 2014, it was 27 degrees at the start of the month and snowing at the end of the month. Admittedly, an accurate prediction is hard to give.

If you travel in the autumn months of September and October, typical temperatures will range between 10 degrees and freezing. This is a very variable time of year and the snow has been known to start to fall in September. Anyone travelling within this period should be prepared to be flexible with any activities, as hikes can easily become snowshoe treks in October in Finland.

The months between November and February are the real winter months in Finnish Lapland when daytime temperatures will average between -5 and -15. You must be aware that these are averages and the extremes can range from 3 degrees to -40 in the winter storms. These extremes are rare and beyond our control. The guides will always adapt itineraries for safety reasons especially if they are in anyway concerned that the conditions are not suitable.

Travelling in the spring-like months of March, April and May you will experience rising temperatures and generally some delightful long days of sunshine. The snow will remain on the ground until May. April and May are also the times when you find Finns coming on holiday to the region. The average temperatures will range between -4 and 10 degrees during the day.

Night time temperatures are always significantly lower and can drop to an average of -21 in January. Wrapped in your cosy winter clothing, you will be well equipped for the conditions day or night.

How dark will it be in Finland?

Few places on the planet experience daylight fluctuations like Finland.

In the winter months, the sun will disappear below the horizon for weeks (mid to late December) and the whole landscape will be bathed in the mystical 'blue light' the locals call Kaamos. In general your activities will take place within this blue light but in December and January the hours are restricted so you should be prepared for activities to take place in darker conditions.

The darker months do have one distinct advantage and that is that you need dark skies for the Northern Lights to be visible. In the darker months you don't necessarily have to stay up as late to have a chance to see them.

The daylight hours do start to rapidly increase as the season progresses and in January they increase to around four hours of daylight, increasing by four hours a month until the 24 hour daylight of June and the magnificent Midnight Sun.

July and August retain exceptionally long days with the dark nights returning in September. This is the start of the Aurora season with around 12 hours of daylight and stunning colours across the country as the autumn colours bathe the forests in orange and red. The real contraction of daylight hours begins through October and November as winter returns.

Each season has its own charm and beauty in this region and the daylight variation Is an important contributing factor.

How expensive is Finland?

As with most Scandinavian countries, Finland is not the cheapest destination when it comes to purchases. Alcohol in particular is not cheap and you should expect to pay London prices for drinks as a minimum.

We try and keep things nice and simple for you and in the majority of cases, you will find that all breakfasts and most evening meals are included in your stay. In remote destinations, we will also include lunches.

We do not provide any holidays on an all inclusive basis, so drinks are payable directly to the hotel. Major credit cards are accepted widely at accommodation.

You may want some cash for souvenirs of your holiday which you will be able to purchase in most destinations. Cashpoints are not readily available and you will need to take some Euros with you.

What is the currency in Finland?

Finland is part of the Euro Zone. Major credit cards are widely accepted and are the simplest way to pay. For some items such as local handicrafts, you may need cash and so you may like to consider taking some Euros with you as cashpoints are not widely available.

What is the food like in Finland?

In our opinion Finnish food has always exceeded customer expectations. In Lapland, the abundance of lakes and the traditional reindeer herders mean that there is an emphasis on local produce and fish and reindeer will appear on most menus.

The locals in Lapland can all be seen in the autumn months collecting berries to store for the winter months and if you are lucky enough, some of our local suppliers will serve these in their restaurants. The wonderful bright orange cloudberry is something that everyone must try and lingonberries provide the ideal accompaniment to reindeer and are often used to make juice.

Fish such as the Inari White Fish are unique to the waters of some of the Finnish lakes and the local people fish on a regular basis both during the summer and winter months (ice fishing is one of the most popular winter pastimes).

Although we understand that some people may not want to eat reindeer, it is a wonderful meat. The herders work using the same methods that they have done for centuries and there can be few meats that are as lean, delicious and sustainably farmed. Whether it is reindeer stew, filet steak, sautéed with mashed potato or salami, it is well worth trying if you are a carnivore.

In some of our destinations the restaurants have a reputation for cuisine. In others the food is fabulously simple home cooking using local ingredients. In remote areas, the access to fresh fruit and vegetables can be limited and so they may not form a major part of the menu. In all of destinations, we find that the food is exactly what you need after a day of experiences - whether it is a set menu of crafted cuisine or a meal cooked on an open fire in a wilderness cabin.

Please let us know of any dietary requirements at the time of booking so our suppliers can accommodate them to the best of their ability.

Helsinki is a wonderfully gastronomic city, so if you are stopping off on your way North or South then we will be more than happy to recommend some restaurants, because there are some fabulous culinary experiences to be had.

What kind of plugs do I need in Finland?

Finland uses the Northern European two-pronged plug (type C), so you will need an adaptor if travelling from the UK.

Do I need a visa to travel to Finland?

For those travelling from within the EU no visa is required. For UK nationals, you are able to stay for up to three months without a visa and your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay. For anyone travelling on a non British passport it is your responsibility to ensure that you have all necessary visas, passport validity and documents in place before you travel. Please contact your foreign office or the Finnish Embassy for details.

What should I wear in a Finnish sauna?

The Finns are obsessed with saunas and you will typically find them in most accommodation, even wilderness cabins.

There are smoke saunas, electric saunas, wood-heated saunas and steam saunas and one question we always get asked is what to wear when you go to visit the sauna. In the majority of cases the answer is that the Finns will be wearing nothing (not even a towel) and that is why there are male and female saunas in most hotels and lodges. Going in 'au naturelle' is seen to be the most hygienic way and sauna towels are always available to sit on. We are well aware that this fills many people with dread and there is no obligation to wear anything other than what you are comfortable with wearing (swimwear or towels are still options). You need to be aware that many people will be embracing the natural look.

No matter what you wear, the customary roll in the snow or dip in the lake are rather invigorating (as long as you are medically fit and free from heart trouble - as it is bracing!).

Useful words and phrases in Finnish

We always encourage our clients to respect the lives of local inhabitants by learning a few important words, hello, goodbye, please, thank you etc.

English                             Finnish
Yes                                   Kyllä
No                                    Ei
Please                              Ole hyvä
Thank you (very much)     Kiitos
Good Morning                  Hyvää huomenta
Good Afternoon               Hyvää päivää
Good night                       Hyvää yötä
Goodbye                          Näkemiin
How are you?                   Mitä teille kuuluu?
Fine thanks and you?       Hyvää, kiitos. entä teille?
Do you speak English?     Puhutteko englantia?

What is the temperature like in Norway?

The temperature in Norway can vary hugely depending on where you are in the country and what time of year it is. As the majority of our trips are based in North Norway in the counties of Nordland and Finnmark, the weather and temperatures discussed here will be focused on these regions.

During the winter months the north coast of the country is not as cold as other countries of the same latitude as the Gulf Stream serves to keep temperatures mild as well as increasing rainfall.

Along the hugely long coastline of Norway, winters tend to be nowhere near as cold as locations in Northern Finland and Sweden. For example, between November and March the average temperature in Lofoten is around 0°C. Summers here are mild also, with an average temperature of around 15°C.

The far north east of the country has a sub-arctic climate similar to Finnish Lapland with average winter temperatures dropping to around -15°C in Karasjok and Kirkenes and summer temperatures of around 10°C.

The warmest time of year to go is between late June to early August, where temperatures reach highs of 25-30°C. If you are in Northern Norway from the middle of May to the end of July you will be lucky enough to witness the Midnight Sun.

How dark will it be in Norway?

Due to its high latitude, the north of Norway has large seasonal variations in daylight.

During the deep winter months of December to late January, the sun will not rise above the horizon, leading to the landscape being immersed in unique blue tinged polar light. It is never pitch black at this time of year however as any light there is will be reflected off the snow. A distinct advantage of the long hours of darkness is that it provides a greater opportunity to glimpse the Northern Lights.

As the season progresses, the daylight hours will start to increase rapidly by around four hours a month until the 24 hour daylight of June which will showcase the wonderful phenomenon of the Midnight Sun.

The daylight variation here adds to the charm of the region and ensures that any time of year has its own appeal.

How expensive is Norway?

Norway is probably the most expensive of all the Scandinavian countries with high prices for food, drink and accommodation. This is all due to high taxation, which may seem unfair to outsiders but ensures that Norway is one of the most generous welfare states in the world and has a higher average wage for its residents.

When visiting Norway you should be prepared to pay more for your purchases, in particular alcoholic drinks which are heavily taxed. We do not offer any all-inclusive trips, so drinks must be paid for directly with the hotel.

What is the currency in Norway?

The currency in Norway is the Norwegian Krone (abbreviated as NOK). Bank notes are available in values of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 kroner and coins are in 1, 5, 10 20 kroner.

Major credit cards are accepted in most places and these are usually the easiest and most secure way to pay for your items. In order to pay or withdraw cash with your credit or debit card it requires that you have a card with chip and PIN (Personal Identification Number). The older magnetic-strip cards (usually found in the USA) are not commonly accepted.

In remote locations, cash machines are not common so we would advise you to either take cash with you or make use of the cash machines at the airport.

What is the food like in Norway?

In city locations such as Tromsø, the culinary scene is incredibly modern, international and varied and there are a huge and popular range of restaurants to choose from.

In its traditional form, Norwegian cuisine, in similarity to other Scandinavian countries is developed largely from the natural surroundings of its sea, mountains and wilderness.

With a coastline, covering more than 25000km it is not surprising that fish and seafood dominate Norway's culinary scene. A traditional Norwegian dish which is now a major international export is smoked salmon and this will be commonly found throughout the country. Cod, sardines, herring and mackerel area also widely featured.

In the coastal regions, Lutefisk is also a famous snack. Here fish is hung out to dry on huge drying racks, using a method that has been in practice for thousands of years.

The northern coastal regions, in particular Kirkenes, are renowned for freshly caught King Crab dishes. These creatures were introduced to the Barents Sea by Russia during the 1960s to provide a valuable catch for Soviet fishermen. Served as a delicacy, they have flourished and spread along the coast.

The diversity of Norway's landscape also provides a natural habitat to a range of sheep, elk, reindeer and woodland fowl, which are commonly used in recipes throughout the country.

The mild summers also allow plants to ripen at a slower pace (infusing fruit and vegetables with rich flavour). In particular, crushed juniper and lingonberries are used to complement a variety of dishes.

What kind of plugs do I need in Norway?

Norway uses the Northern European two-pronged plug (type C), so you will need an adaptor if travelling from the UK.

Do I need a visa to travel to Norway?

For those travelling from within the EU no visa is required. For UK nationals, you are able to stay for up to three months without a visa and your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay. For anyone travelling on a non-British passport it is your responsibility to ensure that you have all necessary visas, passport validity and documents in place before you travel. Please contact your foreign office or the Norwegian Embassy for details.

Do they speak English in Norway?

You will find that the vast majority of Norwegians will speak excellent English as it is taught in all schools, and guides and staff on the trips will no doubt enjoy conversing in English with you. However, we would urge you to learn a few basic words in Norwegian as it is not only an interesting language but will no doubt enamour you to the locals!

Useful words and phrases in Norwegian

We always encourage our clients to respect the lives of local inhabitants by learning a few important words, hello, goodbye, please, thank you etc.

English                          Norwegian

Yes                                   Ja
No                                    Nei
Please                              Var så snill
Thank you (very much)     (Tusen) takk
Good Morning                 God morgen (or just "hei")
Good Afternoon              God ettermiddag (or just "hei")
Good night                      God kveld (or just "hei")
Goodbye                          Farvel (more common; "hade" or "hade bra")
How are you?                   Hvordan har du det?
Fine thanks and you?       Fint, takk. Hvordan har du det?
do you speak English?     Snakker du engelsk?

What is the food like in Iceland?

The Iceland culinary scene offers a wide variety of gastronomic excellence from traditional dishes which date back centuries to a variety of impressive international cuisine.

Iceland's traditional dishes are generally based on lamb, fish and dairy products with little added herbs and spices. Local dishes include Skyr (a cultured dairy product similar to yoghurt), cured shark and singed sheep head. Seafood is also central to most Icelandic cooking, particularly cod, haddock, salmon and herring. Puffin is considered a local delicacy and can be sampled in a small number of restaurants. Traditional side dishes you will be served will likely be boiled or mashed potatoes, pickled cabbage, green beans or rye bread.

In addition to this traditional fare, the modern food scene is thriving and delicious. Reykjavik in particular has many award winning restaurants and chefs. It is fast becoming one of the best locations to sample high quality new Nordic cuisine, with restaurants creating imaginative and delicious fare. Here you can sample diverse uses of local ingredients such as fresh seafood, organic lamb and wild game; but be sure to try the fabulous Icelandic hotdog too.

Please let us know at the time of booking if you have any dietary requirements so that our suppliers can accommodate them to the best of their ability.

How cold will it be in Iceland?

The weather in Iceland will vary depending on the time of year you travel and whereabouts on the island you will be – indeed the biggest factor on Iceland weather is unpredictability!

In comparison to other countries of similar latitude, Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream which ensures higher temperatures than would be expected. Generally speaking the south coast is warmer, wetter and windier than the north and is more prone to snowfall but the weather here can be notoriously variable with fairly impressive storms making an appearance throughout the year. The weather can change rapidly here also, and it is not uncommon to experience a wide variety of weather and temperature in just a single week so you should always be prepared for anything!

In the summer, between the months of May and September, the average temperatures are around 10°C and 16°C, whilst from October through to the end of April the average temperature is generally between 5°C and -5°C.

Despite its icy name, it doesn't snow as much in Iceland as you may think, especially in Reykjavik where there is usually little snow on the ground, even in winter. However, snow is common in the winter in the north and east of Iceland and the West Fjords.

How dark will it be in Iceland?

Iceland is often characterised as the land of Midnight Sun and Northern Lights, and the daylight hours have a major impact on this.

It doesn't have quite the same extremes as locations in Northern Lapland due to its position just below the Arctic Circle, however from mid-May to mid-August, the sun only sets for a few hours a day, which effectively means the region is light for 24 hours, with lingering twilight in the late night hours.

In the winter, in contrast, the daylight hours are around four to five hours, but the darkness has the advantage of ensuring longer chances of witnessing the Northern Lights.

How expensive is Iceland?

As with its Scandinavian counterparts, Iceland is sadly not the cheapest of destinations when it comes to purchases such as food and drink, accommodation, activities and transport.

Alcohol in particular can be very expensive and we would advise you to budget for this accordingly. A pint of beer costs on average £7 whilst a glass of wine will set you back around £9. Restaurant and food costs can vary depending on where you are, but there are many places where costs can be reasonable.

The majority of our trips in Iceland will include breakfast and are often half board to make things easier for you. Our cruises include all meals for your convenience.

What is the currency in Iceland?

In Iceland, the currency is the Icelandic Króna (abbreviated as ISK or Kr). Coins are in denominations of 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 ISK and Bank notes are in denominations of 10000, 5000, 2000, 1000 and 500 ISK.

Most major credit cards are widely accepted and these are the simplest way to pay for items. However, we would recommend carrying some cash, particularly if you are travelling to remote destinations. In order to pay or withdraw cash with your credit or debit card it requires that you have a card with chip and PIN (Personal Identification Number). The older magnetic-strip cards (usually found in the USA) are not commonly accepted.

There are ATMs in the majority of locations to enable you to take out cash, but again, these are less common in some of the remote regions.

What kind of plugs do I need in Iceland?

Finland uses the Northern European two-pronged plug (type C), so you will need an adaptor if travelling from the UK.

Do I need a visa to travel to Iceland?

Citizens of the Schengen area within Europe as well as citizens from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore do not require visas. Tourist stays are permitted for up to three months.

If you do not live in one of these countries mentioned above, then we recommend contacting the Icelandic Embassy or Consulate in your country to check on requirements before entering Iceland. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all necessary visas, passport validity and documents in place before you travel.

For visitors to Iceland, your passport must be valid at least three months beyond intended stay.

Do Icelanders speak English?

The vast majority of Icelanders speak excellent English as it is a required subject in school. You will find that most resident here will also speak Danish and other Scandinavian languages too.

The Icelandic language is notoriously hard to understand due to its archaic vocabulary and complex grammar which date back to Old Norse. Words like Eyjafjallajökull, Siglufjörður and Snæfellsnes can be difficult to wrap your tongue around, but as with all of our trips we would urge you to learn a few simple words before you travel as it can be fun and also enamour you to the locals! A handy guide for how to say some of the basic words can be found in the trip dossier.

For those interested, Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that caused the travel chaos of 2010, is pronounced 'AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kootl-uh'!

Useful words and phrases in Icelandic

We always encourage our clients to respect the lives of local inhabitants by learning a few important words such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, etc.

English                               Icelandic
Hello                                  Halló
Goodbye                           Bless
Good morning                   Góðan daginn
Good evening                    Gott kvöld
Good night                        Góða nótt
How are you?                     Hvernig hefur pú pað?
Yes                                     Ja
No                                      Nei
Excuse me                         Fyrirgefðu
Thank you                          Takk
Do you speak English?      Talarðu ensku?
I don't understand             Ég skil ekki
I can't speak Icelandic       Ég tala ekki islensku
What is your name?           Hvað heitir pú?
Where are you from?         Hvaðan ertu?
How much does this cost? Hvað kostar petta?
Where is the toilet?            Hvar er klósettið?

How cold will it be in Sweden?

The weather and temperature in Sweden can be variable depending on the time of year and whereabouts in the country you are as Stockholm and Gothenburg experience much milder weather than regions in Lapland.

As the majority of our trips will place you close to or above the Arctic Circle the following information will be based on this. Swedish Lapland has a subarctic climate which leads to short mild summers and long, colder winters.

If you are travelling to the region between May and August, temperatures are usually around 15°c to 20°C. In autumn, from around mid-September onwards typical temperatures will range between 10°C and 0°C. The weather at this time of year is characterised by unpredictability, so visitors should be prepared for changeable weather.

Snow typically covers the region from around mid-November onwards and lasts until late April with temperatures at this time of year ranging from -5°C to -20°C. Extremes at either end of the scale have often been known to occur however with any variation between 3°C and -40°C.

How dark will it be in Sweden?

In Swedish Lapland, daylight hours fluctuate hugely at different times of year.

Winter brings with it the darkness of polar lights – a time when the sun doesn't rise above the line of the horizon for up to 51 days. The darkness is by no means absolute though, as each day there are a few hours of unique polar light between 10am and 2pm which casts the region in a bluish glow which reflects off the snow.

By contrast, during the summer months of late May until mid-July visitors can witness the incredible spectacle of the Midnight Sun, as darkness is seemingly banished from the region. The Swedes embrace this light filled time of year, with late night activities and excursions to make the most of the phenomenon.

The seasons in Sweden each bring with them their own unique charm and the varying daylight hours contribute to this hugely.

How expensive is Sweden?

Scandinavian countries do have a bit of a reputation for being on the expensive side and Sweden is no exception with food and alcoholic drinks in particular being fairly highly priced. A pint of beer will cost an average of £6, whist a glass of wine will set you back about £7 or £8.

The vast majority if our trips will include breakfast for the duration of your stay, whilst others are half board, and, in remote destinations, full board.

Alcoholic drinks are not included on our trips so you should budget accordingly for this.

What is the currency in Sweden?

The currency in Sweden is the Swedish Krona (abbreviated as SEK. Bank notes are available in values of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 and coins come in 1, 5 and 10 krona.

Major credit cards are accepted in most places and these are usually the easiest and most secure way to pay for your items. In order to pay or withdraw cash with your credit or debit card it requires that you have a card with chip and PIN (Personal Identification Number). The older magnetic-strip cards (usually found in the USA) are not commonly accepted.

In remote locations, cash machines are not common so we would advise you to either take cash with you or make use of the cash machines at the airport.

What is the food like in Sweden?

Despite commonly held opinions (that have no doubt been influenced by Ikea) there is a lot more to Swedish cuisine than meatballs and cinnamon rolls. When it comes to food, as with most things, Sweden is hugely influenced by its surrounding countryside with dishes characterised by the distinct and natural flavours of the landscape.

The food scene here is one that is continually evolving, and recently chefs have been looking to old culinary traditions, rediscovering and reinventing Swedish classics, known as husmanskost.

Dishes here tend to include ingredients such as pork, herring, crayfish, milk, cabbage and potato. Commonly enjoyed Swedish dishes include pea soup (ärtsopa) usually served with pancakes (pannkakor), meat stew with onions (kalops) and potato dumplings with a filling of onions and pork (kroppkakor). Pickled herring is used in vast quantities, due to its abundance in the North and Baltic seas.

Breads are prepared and served in endless variation, commonly flatbread, rye bread and crisp bread.

The light long days and cool nights of summer leads to a variety of fruits that are slowly grown and rich in flavour such as lingonberries and cloudberries. Sweet treats are also found in the form of pastries and waffles.

Please let us know of any dietary requirements at the time of booking so our suppliers can accommodate them to the best of their ability.

What kind of plugs do I need in Sweden?

Sweden uses the Northern European two-pronged plug (type C), so you will need an adaptor if travelling from the UK.

Do I need a visa to travel to Sweden?

For visitors from within the EU, no visa is required for Sweden and UK nationals are able to stay for up to three months. Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay. For anyone travelling on a non-British passport, it is your responsibility to ensure you have all the necessary visas, passport validity and documents in place before you travel. Please contact your foreign office or Swedish Embassy for all the necessary details.

What should I wear in a Swedish sauna?

Saunas are somewhat of a national obsession in Swedish Lapland and will be found in almost all of our accommodation options as well as being found even in remote wilderness cabins. As well as traditional wood burning saunas, there are also saunas with electric heaters, smoke saunas and steam saunas.

Scandinavians will typically enjoy their sauna clothing free which is why there are usually separate facilities for men and women and you should be prepared for this! Should you really want the full experience then feel free to embrace this too, however, should English modesty prevail, swimwear and towels can also be worn.

Regardless of what you decide to wear (or not wear), the customary invigorating roll in the snow or dip into an icy lake are considered to be tradition after a sauna (as long as you are a medically fit and don't have any heart conditions!).

Do they speak English in Sweden?

You will find that the vast majority of Swedes will speak very good English as it is taught in all schools, and guides and staff on the trips will no doubt enjoy conversing in English with you. However, we would urge you to learn a few basic words in Swedish as it is not only an interesting language but will enamour you to the locals!

Useful words and phrases in Swedish

We always encourage our clients to respect the lives of local inhabitants by learning a few important words, hello, goodbye, please, thank you etc.


English                    Swedish
Yes                            Ja
No                            Nej
Please                       Varsågod
Thank you                Tack så mycket
Good Morning         God morgon
Good Afternoon      God kväll
Good Night             God nat

What will the weather be like during the summer?

The majority of Lapland lies above the Arctic Circle and as such the difference in daylight hours between summer and winter varies drastically. During the summer months of mid-May to late July you will be lucky enough to witness the Midnight Sun, a polar phenomenon where the sun does not completely dip below the horizon. Rainfall is moderate during the summer months with temperature highs of 10-15°C.

When is the best time to visit Alaska?

The summer travel season runs from mid-May through to mid-September and is arguably the best time to see the full beauty of luscious Alaska: the glaciers, mountains and wildlife can be seen in all of their glory, as the green forests and striking alpine flowers are in bloom. However, the popular winter months of December to March can be equally exciting as the snow-covered landscape becomes home to exhilarating winter activities and the skies become filled with displays of the Northern Lights.

Summertime brings life, colour and a sense of vitality to Alaska. With long daylight hours, Alaskans are keen to get as much out of the summer as possible; this means the towns and villages are vibrant, exhilarating activities are in full flow and truly beautiful scenery just begs to be explored. All of the national and state parks are open in summer, fish are abundant and the bears start to come out of hibernation

In terms of wildlife, late June, July and early August are often regarded as the best months for bear viewing, as the salmon start to make a return to their rivers to spawn and the berries are in abundance throughout the state. Other animals, such as moose, caribou and hundreds of bird species can also be seen throughout the state.

Spring and summer also brings whales to Alaska. In southcentral Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park is a favourite feeding ground and marine life is in abundance in these parts. Whales also head into Prince William Sound and occasionally up into Turnagain Arm, near Anchorage. Southeast Alaska is home to the famous ‘Inside Passage’, part of the whales’ migratory route, where many different species can be spotted.

In the winter, the days start to draw in, the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall. However, Alaskans aren’t ones to hibernate and winter is often one of the most active parts of the year, as frozen lakes and vast plains of snow play host to winter activities, including snowmobiling, dog sledding, snowshoeing and winter flightseeing.

Winter is a wonderful time to visit Alaska, as the locals host all sorts of amazing festivals, celebrations and parties. The world famous Iditarod dog sledding race happens every March and with it comes a raft of winter fun and vibrancy. Furthermore, the skies are often filled with Northern Lights displays, which get more prevalent the further north you head.

What is the weather like in Alaska?

Weather in Alaska can be unpredictable, however, it is a common misconception that Alaska only experiences bad weather. This is far from the truth, as the state has a short, temperate summer climate (mid-June to mid-August) that often averages between 14-32° C with many visitors finding the weather to be better than expected.

Nevertheless, Alaska can also be wet and cloudy at any time of year, especially in the southern coastal regions, so it is important to pack well and prepare for the potential for rain. It is wise to remember, that without a bit of rain, Alaska would not be so unbelievably stunning and the sightseeing opportunities would be far less spectacular!

Wintertime is often not as cold as you would expect, however, it can see extreme temperatures (ranging from roughly -2 to -30°C) depending on which part of the state you are in. Huge amounts of snow and ice create beautiful frozen landscapes of lakes, mountains and tundra that are just as breathtaking as anything that summer has to offer.

As the weather is often unpredictable and highly changeable, it can have an impact on travel, particularly by air, which is why we have tried to accommodate weather window days into our itineraries, in order to make your travel as smooth as possible.

What is the best way to travel around Alaska?

Due to its sheer size and limited infrastructure, travelling around Alaska takes time. To enjoy all that Alaska has to offer, visitors need to explore and tour this wonderful state, which means that some 1 and 2 night stays are commonplace, as well as early morning travel and excursions – we promise that they are worth it!

Each trip that we have planned aims to showcase the very best of Alaska by visiting different areas and experiencing the beautiful, vast contrasts that are so apparent within this amazing destination.

The Alaska Railroad is one of the best ways to explore Alaska from the comfort of a beautiful railcar, which is why you will find that it is included in most of our itineraries. The line runs in a general north to south line, from Fairbanks, through Anchorage and down to Seward. The scenery along the way is astonishing and the rail travel is designed to complement this, with glass-domed railcars available, complete with cafés and viewing decks. Rail travel is a scenic excursion and is done at a gentle pace; these are not high-speed lines – the journey is all part of the experience.

Some of our summer itineraries include car hire and self drive sections. Driving in Alaska during summer is easy: there are no giant motorways, or rush-hour traffic jams; travel is more relaxed in this part of America. The roads are well-maintained, however road works can only be undertaken in the summer (due to the prohibitive winter conditions), so any self-driving should allow for a little extra time in case of maintenance work.

The road system opens up a level of independence far greater than the restrictions of rail and air travel: you can see more places and have complete freedom to stop where you like.

There are regular domestic air services between Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau and various other destinations. Many lodges also rely on small bush planes, or floatplanes that offer a unique and exciting way to view some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. You will also find that there are many options to include scenic flights in our itineraries, as to gain a sense of the scale here, you really do need to see the wilderness from the air.

In our opinion the best way to see Alaska is to combine at least two of these modes of transport in order to enjoy the variety on offer.

It is also important to note that some of the hotels and lodges that you will be staying at operate shuttle services that will pick you up from the train station, or harbour. These cannot be pre-booked and can only be arranged on the day of arrival. Any shuttles that are required will be clearly highlighted in your itinerary, with contact details provided within your travel documents.

What wildlife will I see in Alaska?

Wildlife is what Alaska is known for and some of the largest land mammals, including moose, caribou, muskox and bears (both brown and black) live throughout the state. Furthermore, Alaska is home to other species including lynx, wolves and wolverine, as well as numerous bald eagles and other exciting birdlife.

Alaska is also famed for its marine wildlife, which includes a variety of amazing species, such as killer whales, humpback whales, sea otters, porpoises and beluga whales.

Although wildlife-viewing opportunities are plentiful throughout all of our itineraries, it is important to remember that Alaska is huge and animals typically avoid human contact, so sightings can never be guaranteed. However, in such a fertile and varied part of the world, your chances of seeing numerous species of animal are very high indeed.

Although there is more wildlife to see in the summer, as moose and bears head to feeding grounds after a long winter, the months of November to March can also provide visitors with great opportunities to spot wildlife.

Animal movement is less obscured by vegetation in the winter and therefore it is often easier to spot. Bald eagles can be seen in the skies and tracks of wolves, lynx and marten are easily spotted in the snow. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some of these animals.

Will I see the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis as they are commonly referred to, occur when solar particles react with the earth’s magnetic field and the natural gases within it. The streams of particles surge and bulge along bends in the earth’s magnetic field and as they react with the natural gases, they create greenish-yellow, blue, white and red curtains of colour.

Due to their very nature, they are unpredictable and nobody knows exactly where or when they will appear. However, Alaska is famed for its Aurora, in particular from the city of Fairbanks northwards, which is centred in the Aurora Zone and relatively close to the Arctic Circle.

To see the Northern Lights, the sky must be clear and dark, which means that September through to March is the best time to spot them within Alaska, due to the very short daylight hours. The ideal time of night to hopefully catch sight of them is often regarded as between 11:30pm – 3:30am.

Away from the glow of city lights, your chances of spotting them will also increase, which is why our winter packages include Aurora viewing opportunities out in the Alaskan wilds.

Will I see the Midnight Sun?

During the spring and summer, Alaska has some of the longest daylight hours in the world. In Barrow, Alaska’s northernmost community, which looks out onto the Arctic Ocean, the sun doesn’t set for more than two and a half months (and equally the sun never rises at some points during winter!).

The official boundary of the Midnight Sun is the Arctic Circle, which marks the lowest latitude at which the sun remains above the horizon for a full 24 hours during the summer solstice (June 20th or 21st) and below the horizon for a full 24 hours during the winter solstice (December 21st or 22nd). Furthermore, thanks to Alaska’s positioning during the summer months, even if the sun dips below the horizon, it doesn’t stay down for long. This means that even if the sun sets, there is a bright twilight that often remains until the sun rises again, therefore never really getting dark.

The entire state enjoys long summer daylight hours, even in the southeast, with Juneau receiving more than 18 hours of daylight in June. The long days mean that you have even more time to stay out and explore and often the hardest part is reminding your body to get some rest!

What is the currency in Alaska?

Alaska is a state of America and so its currency is the United States Dollar (USD). Major credit and debit cards are widely accepted, however you are likely to incur bank charges when using these abroad, so it is advisable to travel with some cash.

How expensive is Alaska?

Due to its remote location, prices in Alaska are mainly higher than the rest of America. Furthermore, once you travel further away from the suburban centres prices increase, largely due to the costs of supply and transport.

We would recommend picking up some drinks and snacks for your travels from a local supermarket in one of the larger towns, as this can often be considerably cheaper than at the hotels’ small shops and convenience stores along the way.

On average and without gratuities factored in, mid-range restaurant meals cost roughly $30 per person, with a pint of beer costing roughly $5 and a mid-range bottle of wine $15. Soft drinks cost around $2, water is roughly $2.50 for a large bottle and a coffee is $3-5. Lunch can range from around $4-15, for a sandwich and sides and breakfast costs are similar to this.

What is the food like in Alaska?

Alaska has a real mix of food styles that vary from city to village and region to region, and a great deal of influence comes from the traditional cooking of the state’s native people, which utilises the vast array of natural ingredients that are available.

Wherever you go, Alaska’s cold-water seafood is the centrepiece of their cuisine. With arguably the world’s best wild salmon, as well as world-famous Alaskan King Crabs, halibut, cod and shrimp, the seafood on offer here is top quality. For a real Alaskan experience, why not try the interestingly named ‘stinkeggs or stinkheads’ –salmon roe and heads that have been wrapped in grass and preserved in the ground for weeks, offering a somewhat unique taste!

It’s not all about seafood however, as the Alaskans are also famed for enjoying large game animals through their permitted hunting rights. Animals such as moose, caribou and elk are common place at restaurants and roadhouses up and down the state. Furthermore, during the summer, Alaska is abound with wonderful wild berries that make great snacks, or amazing desserts.

Most hotels and eateries in Alaska will offer a variety of food both native and global in style and food such as pizza, pasta, Thai and Chinese can be found in the larger towns and cities, with a variety of vegetarian options also on offer throughout.

What kind of plugs do I need in Alaska?

Alaska uses the North American two-pronged and also three-pronged plugs (Types A and B), so you will need an adaptor if travelling from the UK.

What are room configurations like in Alaska?

Hotel rooms in Alaska typically have either two double size beds or one queen size bed in the room. Bed configurations vary from hotel to hotel and rooms with three or four beds are few. If three or four people are sharing a room (triple and/or quad room), the room generally has only two double beds.

What is the weather like in Corsica?

Due to the geographical layout of Corsica, with the coast, high mountains and hills, there is a great variation in temperatures and precipitation through the seasons. When you are at the coast of Corsica, the climate is typically Mediterranean with hot dry summers and mild winters. As you are going further up into the mountain region, the weather changes and you can get hot days during the summer, but cooler nights. In winter you can often find snow on the high peaks and you can also go skiing.

In the spring, the weather can be a bit changeable especially during April and May. The average temperatures are between 15-20 °C. Summer in Corsica can be quite hot but it is also naturally the sunniest time of the year. During the autumn and winter the island is warmed by mellow sunlight and you can expect temperatures between 4-11°C but rain is more common during these seasons. You can also expect snow in the mountain regions within the winter months.

What is the currency in Corsica?

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France. As France is part of the Euro Zone, Corsica's currency is also the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted. You may be asked to provide ID if you cannot pay by chip and PIN. When travelling outside of the UK, you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). But you may like to consider taking some Euros with you, as smaller villages usually don't have ATM's and some restaurants in the mountain villages only except cash.

How expensive is Corsica?

Due to high taxation the cost of eating out is slightly more expensive than in the UK. But depending on the type of the restaurant, the prices can of course vary. Most of them will have both, table d'hôte menus and à la Carte menus, as well as 'menu prix fixé' where you can choose from combination of starters, main courses and desserts for a fixed price. A ½ litre carafe of local wine will cost around €7-10 in a restaurant. Seafood restaurants can be a bit pricey as they often charge their fish per kilo, although they are legally required to display the menus outside so you can have a look at the prices before sitting down. A café crème ranges from €1.40 at the bar to €3.50 on the outside terrace for example, so it is cheaper to sit at a bar.

What is the time difference?

Corsica is in the Central European time zone. This means they are one hour ahead of the UK.

Do they speak English?

Quite a few of the locals will speak a little English, especially in shops and restaurants in the larger cities and towns. The menus are also often translated into English. Most of the hotels have English speaking staff but keep in mind that in the more remote villages few people speak English.

What kind of plugs do I need in Corsica?

You will require a European two round pin plug to operate your electrical equipment. The sockets used are type F and also work with plugs C and E. Their voltage is 220-230V.

Do they have siestas?

Yes they do have siestas in Corsica but it varies in different areas. Siesta-time can be any time between 12pm and 3pm and most of the shops will then be closed for a 2-3 hour lunch break. But they re-open afterwards. However, the larger supermarkets tend to remain open all day, except for Sundays.

How big is Corsica?

The island is about 114 miles long and 52 miles wide. As mountains and hills are a big part of Corsica, travelling can take a little bit longer than you might expect.

What is the food like in Corsica?

The best and shortest way to describe the food is probably that it is a mixture of Italian and French food but they do also have their own cooking traditions. To prepare their food they use chestnuts and chestnut flour, olive oil, sheep and goat cheese, cured meat and of course a variety of wild herbs. The island has also a rich local culture of vegetables and fruits: zucchini (courgette), fresh tomatoes, eggplants, peaches, figs and many more. Smoked pork, chestnut fritters, chestnut porridge, stews of hare and wild boar but also roast woodcock, partridge and wood pigeon can be found on the menus. As Corsica is surrounded by the sea there is of course a huge variety of fish dishes to find as well. The fish is prepared in many different ways, cooked, fried, grilled, barbecued in aluminium foil and is also used to cook a delicious fish soup.

What is the weather like in Greece?

Greece has a Mediterranean climate and due to its geographical layout, with high mountains, hills and various coastal areas, there is a great variation in temperature and precipitation through the seasons.

During the summer, the days are often hot and dry, with average temperatures ranging between 25-32°C, although it is often warmer than this in the more southern parts. The days and nights are sometimes cooled by seasonal winds, known as the 'meltemi'.

In the spring, autumn and winter months, the climate is milder and northern parts of Greece can see temperatures averaging 6-14°C, while southern parts often experience a range of 10-19°C. Rain and snow are more common in both the north and south during the autumn and winter months, with parts of the western coast experiencing the most precipitation.

What is the currency in Greece?

The currency of Greece is the Euro. When travelling outside of the UK, you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays.

How expensive is Greece?

Greece is on a par with most European countries with amenities such as coffee and tea ranging from €3-6 and light lunches from €6-10. There are always plenty of little and large shops in Greece, stocking local produce, as well as popular global brands. Both in the larger towns and smaller villages, you will often find a variety of bars, restaurants and tavernas which encourages competitive pricing and makes it easier to find a good deal.

When are the shops open in Greece?

Shopping hours vary, however most Greek shops uphold the tradition of taking an afternoon Siesta at 12pm. Shops are often open from 9am-2/3pm and often open again in the evenings for a short period. Gift shops and larger malls are often open for the majority of the day.

What is the food like in Greece?

Greek food is a mixture of fresh produce, such as olives, cheese and bread accompanied by fresh fish, meat and vegetables. One of the best known Greek dishes is 'Gyros', which is a folded sandwich with pork or chicken sticks, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce. Other local specialities include gorgeous fresh salads, calamari, moussaka and cheese and spinach pies. There is a great deal of local choice and fresh ingredients are in abundance, so you will certainly be spoilt for choice. The Greeks often eat lunch at around 3pm and dinner at 9pm, but tavernas and restaurants are usually open earlier than this.

What kind of plugs do I need in Greece?

You will require a European two round pin plug to operate your electrical equipment in Greece. The power sockets/plugs used are type F and this socket also works with plugs C and E. Their mains voltage is 230V.

Do I need a visa to travel to Greece?

As long as you have a valid passport or identity card and you are an EU citizen you can enter Greece without a visa. If you are citizen of the US, Australia, New Zealand or Canada you do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. Certain other nationalities will require a visa from the Greek Embassy.

What time zone is Greece in?

Greece is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

What is the currency in Malta?

Malta is part of the Euro Zone. Major credit cards are widely accepted and are the simplest way to pay. Banks (normally open until early afternoon from Monday to Friday), ATMs and exchange bureaus can be found all over the island. But you may like to consider taking some Euros with you.

Should I tip?

It is customary in Malta to give a tip. Between 5% and 10% is reasonable, whenever good service has been provided. If a service charge has already been included in the bill, a tip is not necessary.

Do they speak English?

Maltese and English are the two official languages spoken in Malta. So the vast majority of the locals will be able to understand you and speak to you.

What is the time difference?

The Maltese Islands - Malta, Gozo and Comino, are in the Central European Timezone. This means they are one hour ahead of the UK.

What is the best time to visit?

The summer travel season runs from May until October and is arguably the best time to visit. It is a good time for someone who wants to do activities, explore the beauty of the island, find out more about the culture and nature or just relax on the beach. The summer is sunny, hot and dry but also means 'festa time 'on the islands. From mid-June until early September each town and village holds its own annual feast with bands marching through the streets, some local food and beautiful fireworks – a good way to join the local life. It is a good time and as the sea gets warmer through the summer, it is also nice to go swimming in the clear blue sea.

What is the weather like in Malta?

Malta's weather is mostly sunny, but nevertheless it can also be wet and get a bit chilly during some of the months. But each season offers a good reason to visit– it is a year-round destination. The spring in Malta can be a bit wet and the temperatures tend to be a bit lower than in autumn but the island is a bit greener and also more colourful than the rest of the year; especially when the wild flowers start to blossom. In the summer it can get quite hot, dry and very sunny. Through the autumn it remains warm and sunny but it can also be windy and rainy sometimes. However it is a good time to combine sightseeing, walking and chasing the sun. The average daytime temperatures in winter are between 9 and 14 ºC but it can still get chilly, especially when the wind blows, and also a bit wet.

What is the food like in Malta?

Malta's food is influenced by its history, when it was occupied by many different civilizations, and also by its proximity to Sicily and North Africa. That is why traditional Maltese food offers a wide variety. The Romans and Arabs brought new spices and ways to prepare meat and fish and the British colonial era brought puddings, as well as influences of the Indian subcontinent. Maltese food is also rustic and based on the season. You will find fish pie, rabbit stew, Bigilla (a paste of mashed beans with garlic served with traditional bread), Kapunta (a Maltese version of ratatouille) and 'Widows's soup' (a delicious vegetable soup with sheep or goat's cheese). As Malta is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea there is of course a huge variety of fish dishes to find.

How expensive is Malta?

Malta is a bit cheaper than most of the European destinations so you can expect prices that are mostly similar to the UK prices or even lower. But during the high season the prices can rise. The majority of our trips will include breakfast for the duration of your stay. Restaurant and food costs can vary depending on where you are, but there are many places where costs can be reasonable.

What kind of plugs do I need in Malta?

Malta uses the three-pin plug (type G), so you won't need an adapter if travelling from the UK.

How do I get to Gozo?

As Gozo only has a heliport, the best way to get to the island is to fly to Malta and get the ferry over to Gozo. All of our trips include the transfer to/from the ferry port and the ferry journey. A taxi will bring you from the airport to the ferry port, which takes about an hour. There is a free service that offers to carry your luggage and you will board the ferry as a foot passenger. There is no need for a ticket. Please remember to pick up your luggage when arriving in Gozo. There will be another taxi waiting for you that brings you to your hotel. The total journey from the airport to the hotel takes approximately two hours.

What is the weather like in Croatia?

Croatia can largely be split into two climates: one for the interior and one for the coast.

The coastline of Croatia is lapped by the warm waters of the Adriatic and the climate is very similar to Mediterranean countries, with hot, dry and sunny days during summer, with temperatures averaging around 25°C in both the north and south of the country. It is common for summer days to reach between 30-35°C, however. In the spring, autumn and winter months, the climate is naturally cooler, however it rarely drops below 5°C.

Interior Croatia is home to warm, dry summers with temperatures often in the mid-30s°C. Unlike the coastal parts of Croatia, there is no sea breeze to cool the area down. Winters are generally colder than the coastal areas, with snow very likely and the temperature often dropping below 0°C. Spring and autumn are often pleasant, with warmer and sunnier days, with rainfall more common in the autumn.

What is the currency in Croatia?

The currency of Croatia is the Kuna (Kn), not the Euro, however the Euro is widely accepted in larger towns and cities. The Kuna comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.

When travelling outside of the UK, you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. Cash can usually be exchanged at bureau de changes, banks and hotels. International credit and debit cards are widely accepted throughout Croatia, however it is advisable to carry cash for the smaller shops and cafés, particularly in more rural areas. When converting cash into Kuna, check for the best deals, as it is often cheaper to exchange money when you are in Croatia.

How expensive is Croatia?

Croatia offers excellent value for money and is relatively cheap to enjoy and explore, especially in the more rural areas. Larger towns and cities will be more expensive, but you will easily be able to find well-priced local restaurants, shops and bars wherever you go. Transportation costs are also relatively reasonable.

Obviously costs will be higher in certain parts of Croatia, but on average, a three course meal in a restaurant is likely to be around £20, with the more extravagant restaurants charging more. If you are looking for a light lunch, such as pasta, salad or fresh pizza, this will cost around £5-£10. Drinks are likely to cost roughly £2 for a small beer and a glass of wine or £1.50 for a soft drink.

What is the food like in Croatia?

With an abundance of fertile land and the glorious Adriatic Sea as a fishing ground, the food in Croatia is beautiful. Obviously the coastal areas rely heavily on the fresh fish that is so readily accessible to them and the cuisine here is similar to most Mediterranean countries. The Interior has a diet more similar to continental Europe with meats, cheese and baked goods.

Along the coast, seafood such as octopus, lobster, sole and sea bass are common and these are often grilled with beautiful local herbs, spices and olive oil. Croatians also tend to make gorgeous seafood pizzas and pastas.

Meat dishes, such as grilled, or pan-fried pork and veal are common, as is spit-roast lamb. One of the nicest meats to taste is the traditional starter of pršut, which is a gorgeous, home-cured ham. Main courses often come with boiled potatoes, vegetables or rice.

When in the Balkans, you have to make sure that you try the local baklava, a sumptuous local sweet of syrup-coated pastry, which is an incredible way to indulge.

Croatian wine is getting bigger and stronger each year, with some incredible indigenous grape varieties to sample, such as Malvazija and Plavac mali, so a trip to one of the local bars or cafés is highly recommended.

What kind of plugs do I need in Croatia?

You will require a European two round pin plug to operate your electrical equipment in Croatia. The power sockets/plugs used are type F and this socket also works with plugs C and E. Their mains voltage is 220V.

Do I need a visa to travel to Croatia?

Croatia is a member of the EU and therefore British nationals do not need a visa to travel to Croatia for tourist and business trips of up to 90 days in any 6 month period.

What time zone is Croatia in?

Croatia is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in the summer and one in the winter.

Do I need to know Croatian in order to communicate?

English is widely spoken throughout Croatia, especially in the major cities, towns and holiday resorts, as well as some rural destinations. Information, signage and menus are often printed in English as well.

What is the weather like in Canada?

Canada is a vast landscape and therefore the climate varies from one province to another. In general, the more northern provinces are home to perma-frost and only venture above freezing temperatures for a few months of the year, whereas the majority of the larger Canadian cities and towns are closer to the southern border of the country and here, mild springs and hot summers are common.

The Canadian North is a vast landscape made up of boreal forest, perma-frost and arctic tundra. Snow-covered for most of the year and with a summer that lasts only a couple of months, beyond the treeline of the forests lies the Arctic Circle, where temperatures rarely rise above freezing. The short summers can be warm and full of life, with autumn bringing amazing colours and the dawn of winter.

The West Coast is home to Canada's most temperate climate with an abundance of vegetation and wildlife. Snow is common in the mountainous parts, but not in the low-lying areas. Hot, dry summers are common.

The Prairies of Canada are formed of incredibly fertile land that experience hot summers and cold winters, with showers in spring and a temperate autumn helping to create ideal farming land.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region of Canada is home to over half of the country's population. With warm, humid summers and snowy, cold winters, this area is home to beautiful lakes, luscious woodland and forest, as well as smaller mountains and rolling hills.

Atlantic Canada is one of the most varied climates within Canada thanks to the changeable air streams which can dramatically alter the temperature in a short space of time. The region experiences temperate summers, foggy autumns and heavy snowfall in the winter.

What is the currency in Canada?

The currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). When travelling outside of the UK, you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. Cash can usually be exchanged at bureau de changes, banks and hotels. International credit and debit cards are widely accepted throughout Canada, however it is advisable to carry cash for the smaller shops, cafés and accommodation, particularly in more remote areas.

How expensive is Canada?

The cost of living in Canada varies massively across the regions. The most expensive provinces are the northern ones (Yukon Territory, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories) due to their limited infrastructure and inaccessibility. Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces are often regarded as the cheapest, with Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario not too far behind.

In general, an inexpensive restaurant meal is likely to cost around $13-15, whereas a mid-range restaurant meal and drink will total roughly $20-25. Drinks and snacks range from roughly $1.50-$6 with a beer costing around $5 and a bottle of mid-range wine roughly $15-20.

What is the food like in Canada?

With an abundance of fertile land in the prairie parts of Canada, as well as some of the best fresh fish in the world, food in Canada is varied and exciting. Cuisine favourites vary from province to province, with coastal regions enjoying fresh, tasty seafood such as Atlantic crab and lobster, as well as shrimp, halibut and cod. Meat is popular throughout Canada, but obviously more so in those areas further from the sea. Beef and chicken are the most popular meats and Canadians love to barbecue these, whatever the weather! Fresh fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year.

Maple syrup is a famous Canadian produce and you should certainly try some while you're here – it goes surprisingly well with a variety of food and will no doubt make an appearance at the breakfast table! Another great (although not incredibly healthy) snack to try is Poutine – french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds, said to have originated in Quebec in the 1950s – perhaps a love it or hate it dish!

What kind of plugs do I need in Canada?

You will require a North American two flat pin plug to operate your electrical equipment in Canada. The power sockets/plugs used are type A and this socket also works with type B. Their mains voltage is usually 120V. If travelling from the UK, where mains voltage is 220-240V, a power adapater is recommended for certain appliances. To be sure, check the label of the appliance that you wish to take with you and if it states 'INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz' or similar, then it can be used in most countries around the world.

Do I need a visa to travel to Canada?

British Citizens don't usually need a visa to visit Canada for short periods, but you will have to fill out a landing card on arrival. Please note that Canada is introducing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme that is likely to be in operation from November 2015 or later. This will require visitors to apply for authorisation to enter Canada, prior to travelling.

What time zone is Canada in?

Canada is home to several time zones. Newfoundland Standard Time is 3hrs 30 minutes behind GMT, Atlantic Standard Time is 4hrs behind GMT, Eastern Standard Time is 5hrs behind GMT, Central Standard Time is 6hrs behind GMT, Mountain Standard Time is 7hrs behind GMT and Pacific Standard Time is 8hrs behind GMT. These time differences decrease by an hour in the daylight saving summer months.

Will I see the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis as they are commonly referred to, occur when solar particles react with the earth's magnetic field and the natural gases within it. The streams of particles surge and bulge along bends in the earth's magnetic field and as they react with the natural gases, they create greenish-yellow, blue, white and red curtains of colour.

Due to their very nature, they are unpredictable and nobody knows exactly where or when they will appear. However, parts of Canada are famed for spotting the Aurora, in particular the northern provinces of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, with the other more southern provinces occasionally being lucky enough to spot them.

To see the Northern Lights, the sky must be clear and dark, which means that late August through to March is the best time to spot them within Canada, due to the shorter daylight hours. The ideal time of night to hopefully catch sight of them is often regarded as between 11:30pm – 3:30am.

Away from the glow of city lights, your chances of spotting them will also increase, which is why our autumn and winter packages include Aurora viewing opportunities out in the Canadian wilds.

Will I see the Midnight Sun?

During the spring and summer, the northern parts of Canada, especially above the Arctic Circle, have some of the longest daylight hours in the world. In Tuktoyaktuk, one of Canada's northernmost communities, which looks out onto the Arctic Ocean, the sun doesn't set for more than two and a half months (and equally the sun never rises at some points during winter!).

The official boundary of the Midnight Sun is the Arctic Circle, which marks the lowest latitude at which the sun remains above the horizon for a full 24 hours during the summer solstice (June 20th or 21st) and below the horizon for a full 24 hours during the winter solstice (December 21st or 22nd). Furthermore, thanks to the positioning of Canada's northern provinces during the summer months, even if the sun dips below the horizon, it doesn't stay down for long. This means that even if the sun sets, there is a bright twilight that often remains until the sun rises again, therefore never really getting dark.

The northern provinces enjoy long summer daylight hours, which means that you have even more time to stay out and explore - often the hardest part is reminding your body to get some rest!

What will the temperature be like in France?

As France occupies a vast land area you wouldn't be too surprised to learn that the weather in France varies from area to area. In the west and north west with the Atlantic on their coast they have mild wet winters and cool summers. In the landlocked east you will find a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. You will find similar weather on the Mediterranean coast with hot dry summers yet mild winters. The rain unlike the rest of France tends to be torrential but only for a short period of time unlike in other areas of France where it could rain for an extended period of time. Céret which is located near the Spanish border enjoys a Mediterranean climate with long hot summers and beautiful sunshine.

How expensive is France?

France often comes with the presumption that it is an expensive destination to holiday. You might be right if you are to holiday in Paris or the Riviera where you will see an increase in prices. However with the falling euro, prices in other areas of France are more competitive. Céret is a very popular destination for travellers with its snow-capped mountain tops of the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean coastline. Catalonia is also one of the wealthiest regions in Spain and due to these combining factors it is relatively expensive compared to other parts of France. You will still be able to find good deals at the local markets.

What is the currency in France?

France is part of the European Union and as such their currency is the euro. You will be able to find ATM and cash machines within the larger towns and cities however in the smaller local towns and villages you will find it difficult so we would recommend you take some cash on you.

What is the food like in France?

France is famous for their gastronomy or their haute cuisine as many refer to it but translated into English this stands for 'good cooking' so what exactly is this devised of? Breakfast tends to be a continental affair of bread, butter and jam or croissants and coffee. Lunch in France is generally served between 11:30am and 1pm if you do go in search of lunch after this time you might find it difficult to find a restaurant to serve you. Evening dinner service does not tend to start until 8pm however restaurants in smaller towns do start serving earlier. Dishes vary from meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes. You will also find the famous snails and frogs legs on a number of menus across the country.

What kind of plugs do I need in France?

You will find in France that they use both European standard electrical socket types C and E so you will need a travel plug adapter.

Do I need a visa to travel to France?

If your passport describes you as a British Citizen you won't need a visa to enter France. If you are not a British Citizen, you should check the current entry requirements on the website of the French Foreign Ministry and if necessary confirm with the French Embassy.

Do they speak English in France?

English is widely spoken in France especially within the larger cities and towns.  Pick up a phrase book and try and experience the local side to your destination.

What is the weather like in Peru?

As Peru is located in the Southern Hemisphere, it experiences summer from November to March, and winter from April to October.

The country is typically divided into three regions, each with a unique climate: the western coast, the central mountains and the eastern Amazon Rainforest.

The coast remains warm and arid during the summer and cooler and humid during the winter.

In the mountainous region, it can get chilly in elevated areas. As you will be visiting cities and sites which are located at higher altitudes, it is worth packing extra layers in case you feel cold. The mountains are sunny and especially pleasant to visit from April to October.

Humid all year round, the rainforest has its rainy season from November to March and is mainly dry for the rest of the year.

In general, it should be noted that Peru is quite a warm country, with average temperatures in most parts rarely dropping below 17 or 18°C, capable of reaching the mid-30s in the lowlands.

What is the currency in Peru?

Peru’s official currency is the ‘Sol’, formerly known as the ‘Nuevo Sol’ (marked as S/.). United States Dollars (USD) are accepted widely and frequently used for more substantial transactions, such as when paying for meals in a particularly nice restaurant.

It is best to carry a mix of dollars and soles with you, and we recommend that you carry plenty of small change – this can be tricky to come by and is useful to have at hand for small purchases like bottles of water. It is easy to exchange dollars locally.

Cash machines can be found in cities and bigger towns, as well as some hotels. They usually dispense both dollars and soles. Credit cards are widely accepted (debit cards occasionally), and it is worth carrying both Visa and MasterCard with you if you have them.

How expensive is Peru?

This largely depends on where you shop. Cities and upmarket hotels usually have prices similar to the UK, but smaller towns are much cheaper, with excellent bargains to be found.

As a point of reference, a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant might cost S/. 62.5 (around £13); half a litre of domestic beer might be S/. 5 (£1); and a bottle of water around S/. 1.3 (about 80p).

What is the food like in Peru?

Peruvian cuisine is often regarded as one of the world’s best, with the country frequently being listed as the world’s top gastronomic destination. Its base is one of native and Spanish food traditions, added to by Chinese, European, and African influences.

Food from the coast includes full-flavoured stews of seafood, steam-cooked fish dishes, and freshly served ‘ceviche’ – Peru’s much-loved national delicacy. Raw fish is pickled in lemon or lime juice with chilli and onion. The effects of the citric acid make the uncooked fish safe to eat.

Dishes from the Andes are filling and nutritious, consisting of meats such as lamb, beef, and pork, combined with ingredients like beans, peppers, and potatoes. Nourishing grains like quinoa and kiwicha (also known as ‘amaranth’) are consumed in addition to maize. Other meats which the gastronomically adventurous might wish to try are alpaca and guinea pig (or ‘cuy’).

Amazonian cooking incorporates rainforest produce. Have a try of ‘juanes’, which are parcels made from leaves of the bijao plant, containing a chicken and rice stuffing. ‘Chonta’, or ‘palm heart’ in English, is often added to cooked dishes and used in salads.

What kind of plugs do I need in Peru?

Type A, B, and C plugs are used in Peru, with mains electricity at 220V/60Hz. The plug you use should have two straight prongs – though take note that type C is two round prongs. Electrical sockets in Peru have been designed to accept both.

Do I need a visa to travel to Peru?

If you are a British national, you do not require a visa to enter Peru if the purpose of your visit is tourism. On arriving in the country, you are usually given permission to stay for up to six months. Your passport should be valid for at least six months.

Keep hold of the immigration document which is given to you when you arrive. This will need to be shown when you depart.

What time zone is Peru in?

Peru is five hours behind the United Kingdom.

Do I need to know Spanish in order to communicate?

Knowing Spanish to communicate in Peru is not essential – your guides will all speak English. That being said, a smattering of Spanish can certainly enrich your holiday, from a pleasant ‘¡Hola!’ (‘Hello!’) to a polite ‘¡Muchas gracias!’ (‘Many thanks!’).

What is the weather like in the Azores?

The Azores experience the following average temperatures:

May - July: 16°C – 20°C

August – September: 20°C – 22°C (with highs of 26°C in August)

The subtropical climate means that there might be the odd thunderstorm. Even so, there are high levels of sunshine, with July and August having close to seven hours every day.

What is the currency in the Azores?

The Azores are an autonomous region of Portugal and use the Euro. Cash machines can be found throughout the island.

How expensive are the Azores?

Prices in the Azores are like those in the UK, if not a little lower. You might spend around 15€ (or 17€ with wine) per person on a two-course meal. A bottle of beer is likely to cost 1.50€, with a bottle of water being 1€ or less, depending on volume.

What is the food like in the Azores?

The cuisine of the Azores is an island version of mainland Portuguese cuisine, with spicier flavours and uncomplicated dishes – the emphasis being on substantial, nourishing food.

The Atlantic position of the Azores ensures that seafood is in fresh supply, from mighty swordfish to humble clams. Octopus (referred to as ‘polvo’) can be found on the menu, as can squid. ‘Bacalhau’, or ‘salted cod’, is a popular Portuguese delicacy which features in a range of recipes. Try ‘Bacalhau à moda das Furnas’, or ‘Furnas-style bacalhau’, which is a speciality of the town.

Furnas is best-known for the ‘Cozido das Furnas’, which is a preparation of the typical Portuguese ‘cozido’ stew using steam from the earth. Another location on São Miguel that is associated with a particular delicacy is the village of Povoação. ‘Fofas da Povoação’ are effectively Azorean éclairs, with a delicious chocolate topping on a vanilla-cream pastry. Other things to tempt a sweet tooth that are enjoyed all around the Azores include ‘tigelada’, which is a set-custard dish, and pineapples, which are grown on the islands.

Azorean cheeses are numerous and varied, being distinguished from those of mainland Portugal by being mostly made from cow’s milk, rather than that of sheep or goats. Have a taste of São Jorge cheese, which is slightly hard in texture and has a peppery, robust taste.

What kind of plugs do I need in the Azores?

Mains electricity in the Azores is 220V/50Hz. C or F-type plugs with two round pins are used, just like in Europe.

Do I need a visa to travel to the Azores?

If you are a British national, you can stay in the Azores for up to three months as a tourist.

What time zone are the Azores in?

The Azores are one hour behind the United Kingdom.

Do we need to tip?

It is normal to leave 10% tips at restaurants and hotels – they do not usually add service charges to their bills. A euro or two for luggage-handlers and room-cleaning staff is a polite gesture, while a 10% tip or rounding up to the nearest five euros works well with taxi drivers.

Do I need to know Portuguese in order to communicate?

Knowing Portuguese is not necessary for communicating, as your guides will speak English. That said, having a few phrases up your sleeve can always come in handy – even something as simple as ‘Olá’, meaning ‘Hello’, and ‘Obrigado’ or ‘Obrigada’ (the first if you are male, the second if you are female), meaning ‘Thank you’.

What is the local currency?

The currency in Costa Rica is the colón, named after Christopher Columbus. US Dollars are also widely accepted, especially at hotels and restaurants, whereas smaller services and more remote destinations will likely only accept colónes.

As an approximate guide £10 is worth ₡8300 ($16 USD).

Whilst the remote locations and accommodations may only accept cash, cash machines are widely available in the larger towns and hotels.

Credit cards are also widely accepted.

What will the weather be like?

Costa Rica lies close to the equator ensuring long days filled with sunshine. There is no real defined 'winter time' making it a great place for a summer activity holiday.

Each region enjoys a different climate and you will experience this during your time here as you travel around the country. There are always, of course, the occasional burst of tropical rainfall, but even this is an experience in itself! The Central Valley region enjoys a warm, spring-like climate throughout the year whilst the coastal areas can be very hot and dry.

As a guide the average temperatures are as follows:

May – June: 24°C - 32°C

July – August: 24°C - 31°C

September – October: 23°C - 31°C

How expensive is Costa Rica?

It is relatively inexpensive to enjoy your time here and Costa Rica tends to be less expensive than the nearby Caribbean Islands.

As a guide a 1.5litre bottle of water will cost approximately £1.80 and a half-litre of beer approximately £1.30. A meal in a mid-range restaurant is likely to cost around £7 with a bottle of wine adding £7-£10 to your bill. Soft canned drinks are rougly £1.

Costa Rica tends to be a less expensive destination than the nearby Caribbean islands and it is relatively inexpensive to enjoy your time here, although 

Local products tend to be cheaper and you can pick up cheap local fruit and coffee throughout the country although certain items can cost slightly more than in the UK due to taxes and import costs.

What is the food like?

The Costa Rican diet is a healthy one with meals of black beans or rice, often served with generous portions of vegetables, such as fried plantains and tomato, as well as meat or fish.

Sour cream, eggs, onions and peppers are also key ingredients and the locals love their corn tortillas! While here try a Casado, which is one of the most common dishes in Costa Rica, comprised of beans, rice, onions, plantains, cabbage, tomatoes and a choice of chicken, fish, pork or steak with grilled onions.

The plantain is probably the most popular snack in Costa Rica. It looks like a large banana, but can’t be eaten raw. Usually it will be fried or baked, bringing out the sweet flavours and it is a great accompaniment to most meals.

There are many weird and wonderful fruits to try in Costa Rica, such as the guanabana, which is a textured, green, football-sized fruit that makes a lovely juice drink. The pejibaye is another great one to try – a relative of the coconut, its taste resembles chestnut or pumpkin.

Do we need visas to visit Costa Rica?

British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. Upon entry, most visitors are granted a stay of up to 3 months. Your passport should have at least one day’s validity from the date you are leaving Costa Rica.

What kind of plug do we need to take?

In Costa Rica, they use Type A and B plugs, similar to those found in the US, which are 120V/60Hz. Your plug will need to have two straight prongs to fit the sockets here.

What is the time difference?

Costa Rica is 7 hours behind the UK.

How do we get to Costa Rica?

International flights are not included in this holiday, but we can arrange these for you if you would like. Flights would arrive into San Jose and return from Liberia.

Do we need to tip?

Tipping is a big part of Costa Rican culture and although it is not expected, it is greatly appreciated for excellent service. Bellboys and housekeepers usually receive around $2 USD, whereas taxi drivers don’t expect to be tipped at all. Most restaurants include a 10% service charge, however, if you feel that you have received exceptional service, an additional tip of 5%, or rounding up your bill is considered appropriate.

As a gesture of appreciation for their services during your holiday, you are welcome to tip your guide and driver at your discretion. Although this is not expected, it can be a nice way of thanking them for their time and effort. As a guideline, $5-10 USD per person per day would be greatly appreciated for your guide, although this is by no means compulsory. You may also have local guides that will join you for certain parts of the trip and if you receive excellent service from them, a tip of $2 USD per person per day would be appropriate, which is also the amount we would recommend if you would like to tip your driver.

What will the weather be like?

Borneo is lucky enough to experience year-round temperatures that average between 27°C and 32°C with a relative humidity of around 80% for much of the year. With its tropical climate, the weather is generally sunny, but also changeable and rainfall can occur at any time of the year. November to March is regarded as the peak monsoon season, which is why we focus on the summer months.

The average temperatures are as follows

May – June: 24°C - 31°C

July – August: 24°C - 35°C

September – October: 23°C - 32°C

July and August are often regarded as the best months to visit Borneo, as they are usually relatively dry, although thunderstorms can occur, which are usually short but torrential. These months also see longer sunshine hours and less cloud cover. The days can often reach into the high 30s, providing you with the perfect environment to enjoy the gorgeous beaches!

What is the local currency?

The currency in Borneo is the Malaysian Ringgit (RM). Most outlets take major credit cards and cash points are widely available in hotels and larger towns. 6RM equates to approximately £1.

How expensive is Borneo?

In general, Borneo is a cheap place to enjoy once you have arrived at your destination. Depending on where you eat, you can sample great food and drink at a very affordable price for all of the family.

A small bottle of water will cost around 2RM and a can of soft drink roughly the same. A half-litre of beer is around 10RM and a glass of wine 15RM. A dinner in a mid-range restaurant will cost roughly 25RM, plus any drinks.

What is the food like in Borneo?

Every dish that you’re served is filled with exciting tastes that bring out the area’s history and culture. Rice and noodles are central to most meals, with the rice usually steamed or fried and the noodles made from wheat and egg, rice or mung beans and then boiled or fried.

Fish and chicken are the main ingredients in most of their dishes and these are usually served in a curry-style sauce, or a dry marinade. Generally, fried fish is preferred and it is served whole and stuffed with beautiful spices, or chopped into chunks and served with a spicy sauce. One of the specialities in Borneo is hinava, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and herbs – perhaps a dish for the adventurous ones in the family! Another gorgeous dish to try is otak-otak, where chunks of fish are wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal.

Make sure to try the Sarawak Laksa, which is one of the most popular dishes across Borneo. This warming soup is filled with prawns, chicken, egg, noodles, chilli paste and coconut milk – truly delicious! Or maybe you’ll want to try Kolo Mee – strips of BBQ pork and noodles, which is a favourite with the locals! Either way, enjoying the food in Borneo is sure to tickle your taste buds!

Do we need visas to visit Borneo?

British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Malaysia. You will normally be given permission to stay for 3 months on arrival. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Malaysia. They are very strict on passport rules in Malaysia, so it is important to ensure that all of your travel documents are up to date and in order.

What kind of plug do we need to take?

Electrical sockets in Malaysia use the same three-pronged plugs that we use in Britain, also known as type G. Mains electricity is between 220-240V/50-60Hz.

What is the local time in Borneo?

Borneo is 7 hours ahead of the UK.

How do we travel to Borneo?

International flights are not included in our holidays to Borneo, but we can arrange these for you if you would like. The closest airport to your destination is Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Should we tip in Borneo?

As a gesture of appreciation for their services during your holiday, you are welcome to tip your guides, drivers and diving crew at your discretion. Although this is not expected, it can be a nice way of thanking them for their time and effort. Depending on the size of your group and the time spent with your guide, you may wish to tip around 50RM – 200RM.

A 10% service charge is automatically added to bills in restaurants, bars and hotels, so extra tipping on top of this is not expected, but no doubt appreciated if you feel that you want to add something extra. You don’t need to tip taxi drivers, but bellboys would be very grateful if you were to hand them 10RM for their help.

What is the weather like in Spain?

The Canary Islands have warm Mediterranean temperatures, added to by a cooling breeze from the Atlantic Ocean. During March and April, the average temperature is 18°C, with highs of 22°C.

The south of Spain experiences similar Mediterranean warmth, with average temperatures of 16°C to 22°C from April to June and decreasing rainfall as summer gets underway. In July and August, temperatures can reach highs of 31°C, with plenty of sunshine throughout.

What is the currency in Spain?

Both mainland Spain and the Canary Islands use the Euro (€). Cash machines can be found throughout the cities encountered in both locations. We recommend taking out cash here before visiting smaller towns and villages, where cash machines may be less frequently found.

How expensive is Spain?

The prices in mainland Spain are similar to those in the UK. Prices on the Canary Islands are somewhat cheaper than those on the mainland, thanks in part to the fact that VAT is not applied on goods in the Canaries.

Individual meal dishes at most restaurants might cost around 7€ to 10€, with a three-course meal for two at an average restaurant coming to around 32€. Bottles of water come to about 1€, with slightly more for soft drinks and beer.

What is the food like in Spain?

The cuisine in Southern Spain combines Mediterranean ingredients with influences from the country’s Moorish past. You will be travelling around coastal cities in the region of Andalusia, which is famous for the likes of ‘gazpacho’ – a cold vegetable soup that makes for a refreshing meal in the summer sun – and healthy olive-oil-infused cooking. As you will be around the coast, be sure to sample the incredible seafood, from salt-crusted sea bass to ‘calamares’ – fried squid. 

The cuisine of the Canaries features many popular Spanish dishes alongside much-loved island specialities. The islands are particularly famous for ‘mojo picón’ (‘spicy sauce’, with plenty of garlic) and ‘mojo verde’ (‘green sauce’, with both garlic and coriander). The two go very well with everything from meat dishes to the simple boiled potato classic known as ‘papas arrugadas’.

What kind of plugs do I need in Spain?

Mains electricity in the Canary Islands is at 220V (50Hz), and 230V (50Hz) on mainland Spain. C, E, and F-type plugs are used, so you will need to take the corresponding adaptors – these have two round pins.

Do I need a visa to travel to Spain?

 British nationals do not require visas for travel in Spain or the Canary Islands. Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.

What time zone is Spain in?

The Canary Islands are in the same time zone as the UK. Mainland Spain is one hour ahead of the UK.

Do I need to know Spanish in order to communicate?

You don’t have to know Spanish to communicate as our guides speak English. That said, a simple ‘Hola’ (‘Hello’) and ‘Gracias’/‘De nada’ (‘Thank you’/‘You’re welcome’) always leaves a pleasant impression!

What is the weather like in Portugal?

Coastal Portugal has warm, sunny weather from the end of spring to the start of autumn, with reduced rainfall in July and August. From May to June, average temperatures are 18°C to 21°C, and around 23°C to 24°C in July and August, reaching the high twenties. In September and October, the average temperature drops back to the low twenties.

What is the currency in Portugal?

Portugal uses the Euro (€). Cash points can be found around cities like Lisbon and towns like Portimão.

How expensive is Portugal?

Portuguese prices will be around the same as the UK. Cities like Lisbon will have higher costs, with local villages having generally cheaper prices. As a point of reference, a three-course meal for two at an average restaurant might come to around 30€, while a bottle of water usually costs around 1€, with a little more for soft drinks and beers. It is cheaper to try the local wines and beers rather than the more expensive imported varieties.

What is the food like in Portugal?

Given Portugal’s Atlantic-facing location, the country’s cuisine features plenty of seafood, as well as a selection of grilled or roasted meats, rice dishes, and sumptuous stews.

Dry, salted cod – known as ‘bacalhau’ – is a national favourite and has countless culinary uses. A range of other fish can also be sampled here, from mackerel and salmon to sea bass and sardines. Be sure to have ‘arroz de marisco’, which is a gorgeous seafood and rice soup.

Barbecued meat dishes are a must-try during your time in Portugal, while adventurous eaters can tuck into ‘cozidos’, which are rich meat stews featuring a mix of mouth-watering ingredients.

The wide range of Portuguese cheeses should not be forgotten – often overlooked in favour of other European varieties. These include creamy Azeitão, semi-firm Nisa, and soft-centred Serra, all made from sheep’s milk.

As for dessert, a wide selection of pastries can be enjoyed in Portugal, the most famous of which are ‘pastéis de nata’, or ‘custard tarts’. On top of that, you will find plenty of seasonal fruit grown in Mediterranean soil.

What kind of plugs do I need in Portugal?

Mains electricity in Portugal is at 230V (50Hz). C, E, and F-type plugs are used, so you will need to carry the appropriate adaptors, which have two round pins.

Do I need a visa to travel to Portugal?

British nationals can stay as tourists in Portugal for up to three months. Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay, and no additional period of validity on your passport is required beyond this.

What time zone is Portugal in?

Portugal is in the same time zone as the UK.

Do I need to know Portuguese in order to communicate?

As our guides speak English, you don’t have to know Portuguese in order to communicate. Even so, it can always be handy to know simple phrases like ‘Olá’ (‘Hello’) and ‘Obrigado’ or ‘Obrigada’ (‘Thank you’ – the first if you are male, the second if you are female).

What will the weather be like?

Madeira sits within the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Gulf Stream and as such, it enjoys hot, largely dry summers from April to September and mild, wet winters from October to March.

The warm ocean currents help to keep the area mild and comfortable, while avoiding extreme seasonal temperatures. The prevailing winds also consist of warm air from North Africa and cooling winds from Portugal, which help to keep the climate comfortable for activities and sightseeing.

The main summer period runs from June to September, with the majority of the days being hot and sunny, although the months either side can also be nice and warm too. The months of April to May see average temperatures of  16°C - 22°C and June to August averages at 20°C - 26°C. The months of September and October are also pleasantly warm, averaging at 20°C - 25°C.

What is the local currency?

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal and its local currency is the Euro.

Cash machines are widely available in the larger towns and hotels, but you should have cash available for the more remote villages and areas you will pass through, should you wish to buy anything. Credit cards are also widely accepted.

How expensive is it?

Madeira is abundant with local produce including fish, meat, fruit and vegetables and as such, meals and snacks can be relatively inexpensive. Although a lot of the major products are imported to the islands, you can certainly enjoy a few bargains here.

A standard three course dinner menu in one of the larger towns will cost approximately £20 per person. A large bottle of water (1.5l) is likely to cost you around £1-£1.50 and a bottle of wine will likely cost you £7-10 in a restaurant, on average. Local products tend to be cheaper and you can pick up cheap local fruit throughout the island. It is cheaper to try the local wines and beers, rather than the more expensive imported varieties.

What's the food like?

Madeira is home to some fantastic local specialities and wonderful flavours. The islands are famous for their abundant fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, fresh seafood abounds and there are also plenty of local meat and vegetable dishes to enjoy.

Black scabbard fish, tuna, swordfish, prawns and clams are but a few of the dishes you can enjoy; each cooked in their own marvellous way. Furthermore, the local speciality, espatada, is a large skewer of beef, grilled over smouldering wood chips and marinated in garlic, bay leaves and Madeiran wine; it is an incredibly tasty dish.

Most villages and towns have markets filled with local fruits, vegetables, sweets, herbs and spices and they are fantastic places to wander through and sample some local delights.

Drawing influence from mainland Portugal, as well as worldly traders that used to visit these islands, the cuisine is mixed, exciting and flavoursome.

Do we need visas to visit?

British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Madeira. Upon entry, most visitors are granted a stay of up to 3 months.  Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

What kind of plug do we need to take?

You need a plug which is marked as suitable for Southern Europe or specifically Portugal.  It needs to be able to fit into the round holes that all plug sockets here have. 

What is the time difference?

Madeira is in the same time zone as the UK.

Do I need to know Portugese in order to communicate?

As our guides speak English, you don’t have to know Portugese in order to communicate. Even so, it can always be handy to know simple phrases like ‘Olá’ (‘Hello’) and ‘Obrigado’ or ‘Obrigada’ (‘Thank you’ – the first if you are male, the second if you are female).

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