Thinking about booking holidays? Here’s 30 ideas for 2019

As the new year starts in earnest and memories of Christmas fade, it is time to look to brighter, sunnier times ahead and share all the travel trends, tips and tidbits to help curb the worst of that winter gloom.

1. According to flight booking site Skyscanner, Agadir in Morocco is likely to feature very highly on many Irish traveller’s plans for 2019 which has seen it take the top spot on the site’s list of hot spots for 2019. Greek destinations also ranked highly in Skyscanner’s list with Paphos in second and Mykonos in eighth position. The Croatian city of Split was third on its list and is likely to be even more accessible than ever this year with Ryanair starting new direct flights from Dublin to compete with Aer Lingus.

2. TrekSoft – a company which manages booking engines for tour operators – has analysed all the data it has to hand to declare that the three biggest trends this year will be unique experiences, ecological ones and immersive ones. It is anticipating a surge in bookings from travellers – most notably millennials – who fancy doing once-in-a-lifetime things and then posting the pictures on Instagram. Ecological tours are also in demand as are immersive holidays which see travellers embed themselves in the local culture so they can do what the locals do and eat where locals eat.

3. Adventure tour operator G-Tours has also mined its data and married it with customer insights to forecast the 10 hottest spots for those with an adventurous spirit this year. Among the countries it has highlighted is Uzbekistan which relaxed its visa entry requirements last year by introducing an e-visa for 51 countries including Ireland. West Africa is recovering from a lapse in tourism following the Ebola breakout of 2014 with Senegal in particular looking to stimulate tourism with a new airport near Dakar opening up. It also points to Jordan, Iceland, Ethiopia and Patagonia.

4. If you’re looking at fantasy hotel stays, Condé Nast Traveller has you covered. It recently published a list of 78 of the best hotels in the world. Only one Irish hotel made the grade. Ballyfin Demesne was said to have unbeatable “unabashed gilt-framed grandeur”. The magazine quoted a room rate of about €550 a night, although the cheapest weekend rate we could find was closer to €800.

Kensington in London seems reasonable with a listed overnight price of €285.
Kensington in London seems reasonable with a listed overnight price of €285.

By comparison, the Kensington in London, described as “one of the loveliest places to stay in the capital”, seemed reasonable with a listed overnight price of €285. Soho House in Barcelona is “pocket-sized and seductive [and] already buzzing and as fun as a packet of sparklers” and better value with a nightly rate of €240. Big spenders should look at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, said to be France’s “best-loved palace hotel although you’ll need a budget of around £1,400 a night.

Umaid Bhawan Palace in the Indian city of Jodhpur is the ‘largest, most magnificent, most dramatic, most otherworldly palace in the land’, according to Condé Nast Traveller.
Umaid Bhawan Palace in the Indian city of Jodhpur is the ‘largest, most magnificent, most dramatic, most otherworldly palace in the land’, according to Condé Nast Traveller.

Further afield, we loved the look of the Umaid Bhawan Palace in the Indian city of Jodhpur which Condé Nast tells us is the “largest, most magnificent, most dramatic, most otherworldly palace in the land”. The price of a double room is around €300.

5. Ahead of making your holiday plans either at home or abroad, it may be worth recalling a survey from last summer which found that Irish people are woeful at keeping an eye on the price when it comes to overseas travel and the financial headache we bring home can last a whole lot longer than our suntans. According to the people at switcher.ie, we have a real lack of understanding about the fees that can be attached for using plastic. Most people either don’t know or aren’t sure of the charges for the likes of ATM withdrawals with a debit or credit card or using them in shops or restaurants. Do bear in mind that if you are in a non-euro zone country, you’ll be charged a percentage of the transaction value each time and may have to pay foreign exchange fees too.

6. Turkey was back on the menu in a big way last year thanks to a slump in the value of the lira and while prices have climbed, there is still good value to be found there in 2019 with rooms in decent four-star resort hotels available for not much more than €30 a night and the cost of food and wine at bargain basement prices for euro-carrying tourists. Turkey does need a decent bounce after losing a huge amount of business to Greece and Spain in the wake of terror attacks and a coup attempt in 2016 which sent holidaymakers packing.

7. Don’t let Dublin Airport stress you out too much this year. Beat the queues at security with a fast track pass. For as little as €6.50, it will get you passed the worst of the security queues through the channel reserved for those flying first and business class. Even at quiet times, it can shave 20 minutes off your waiting time and when it’s busy the time saved can be a lot more.

Save time and money by ditching the check-in luggage and bring only a carry-on bag.
Save time and money by ditching the check-in luggage and bring only a carry-on bag.

8. Checking in bags can easily add €70 per person to the price of a return flight to Spain at the height of summer – that is nearly €300 for a family of four. Not only that but it wastes time, and waiting for bags at the other side can see you fall well behind in the taxi or car hire queue. Only ever bring carry-on luggage by being ruthless with your packing. Lay everything you want to bring out on your bed. Pack half of it. Rolling things rather than folding them saves space and pack fewer shoes. Be ruthless. Always ruthless.

9. Paris, London, Rome and Amsterdam are beautiful cities with lots to see and do but they are not cheap and can be kind of mental at the height of the tourist season. Kraków, Lisbon and Athens – to name just three easily accessible European cities – on the other hand are cheaper and more relaxed. Poland’s second city is its first when it comes to beauty and it is full of ancient squares and rambling markets. It is also close to Auschwitz – surely one of the most important sites in Europe. A decent hotel is €45 a night while a meal for two costs less than €40. Ryanair flies from Dublin to Kraków with return flights in May available for not much more than €200. Lisbon is always among the cheapest capital cities in the EU and one of the easiest for Irish people to get to. And Athens is among the cheapest cities in Europe with a meal for two, with a whole lot of wine, costing little more than €40, with an apartment within walking distance of the main tourist attractions on Airbnb going for about €30 a night.

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