Departure Gates 3

Travel industry expert Jeremy Gates brings you the latest on money, destinations and advice to make your holiday experience more enjoyable

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The Phenomenon of the Older Perpetual Traveller
UK Travellers Cash In on Lower Hotel Prices
British Airways offers Upgrade Reward
Ferry Firm offers Long Winter Breaks in Sun
New Website to help travellers who have been ill

The Phenomenon of the Older Perpetual Traveller

There’s a serious message behind ‘Boomers’, the latest TV sitcom about old folk- because the generation born directly after the Second World War is getting ready to cash in its chips on bricks and mortar to pay for one, possibly two decades of travel to some of the most glamorous destinations in the world.

Luxury cruises, island retreats in the Maldives, exciting city breaks in four and five star hotels in New York or Marrakech: they are all perfectly possible for many people if they can declutter their lives and settle for a smaller home.

How far you can roam may be partly decided by where you live: a survey by agents Hamptons International found the average house sold by a ‘downsizer’ in London fetched £608,000- while the average price of the property they purchased afterwards was £280,000, releasing a massive £328,000 in equity.

In south-east England, the average sum unlocked is £107,000, while the smallest sums (average £68,000) appear to be unlocked in the East Midlands and Wales.

Many members of the generation born in the late 1940’s/ early 1950’s have enjoyed a remarkable run through on the financial front: generous grants for university education which didn’t have to be repaid, a series of house price booms, careers spend mostly in economies enjoying something pretty close to full employment, and possibly the final era of decent final salary pensions linked to income.

Gradually, says retirement expert Dr Ros Altmann, all these factors “have been redefining old age and retirement.”

The final stroke of luck for 60-plussers is that internet savvy travellers can now travel and stay away more cheaply than ever before: since 2008, more than 15m stays have been booked through the website Airbnb, which enable private owners to rent out their spare rooms and holiday homes, often for the fraction of the cost of staying in a nearby hotel.

Another agent Strutt & Parker, found that the concept of active retirement years persuades many people to downsize early, sometimes even before they reach 60; they sell the big country house, buy a secure, quality apartment in a city centre, set cash aside to help children struggling to buy their own home, and then travel the world on what’s left over!

For Lynne Martin, a retired PR executive who realised she didn’t want to spend her remaining years at home in California as her 70th birthday loomed, another website has consistently come up trumps:

Since then, Lynne and her husband Tim have been on the road, travelling the world, for 4-5 years- travelling light thanks to careful planning and preparation, she says, and having a whale of a time.

They travel with just ‘two duffle bags on wheels’, and two smaller ‘carry ons’- with the rest of their belongings stored in a 150 sq ft storage space back home in the States.

They warn that long-term travellers need to know the details of long term visas issued by various countries, and agreements like the Schengen Treaty signed by various EU countries- but not Britain- to discourage non-EU foreigners from coming to visit and remaining to seek jobs and welfare payments.

Says Lynne, author of HomeSweet Anywhere, an invaluable a useful guide to anybody thinking of following their example; “The financial formula which enables us to keep travelling is not very complicated.

We had a little money set aside in an investment portfolio and looked at what we would save by selling our home and most of our possessions, and by renting around the globe instead. Knock out the insurance and taxes, the cost of mowing the lawn, fixing the roof and fitting new kitchen cupboards- and it is amazing what you can switch into enjoying life.

Ours is not a lifestyle for rich people at all, nor for people who want to blow their money either. We are not using up our capital at all; the stock market has been kind and helpful to us, while we cut costs by eating in pretty regularly at our rented properties. We probably have two lunches out each week, on average. When we get older, we plan to be able to look after ourselves- so we are keen not to spend carelessly.”

Lynne Martin reckons to stay in Europe for between six and nine months each year.

We learn to recycle things”, she says. “We were staying at a house in East Molesey, near Hampton Court in Surrey, when the weather got much colder. We went to a Salvation Army charity shop, got two superb coats t wear in England and on a subsequent visit to Ireland, and when the time came to return to the States, we gave the coats to friends who returned them to the Salvation Army for others to use.”

Globetrotters soon learn how to stretch their money most effectively, says Lynne.

England has very high day-to-day living costs. When we realised that money was going to run out fast there, we headed for Portugal, which is much cheaper, and took a house for five weeks outside Lisbon to enjoy the arrival of Spring.

The other thing we have realised, since the publication of my first book, is that many other people have decided to spend their retirement living out of a suitcase, just like us….they write to us from Paris, Ireland and elsewhere, saying ‘Let’s get together!’ One couple spent the winter in St Petersburg, determined to learn Russian.

The all-important point to remember is that many people are going to live for much longer than they ever anticipated; they have got to do something interesting to make the most of that gift.”

With just two suitcases, two computers, and a readiness to been flexible in their planning, Lynne and Tim have seen an enviable- and quite affordable-venture slowly slotting into place.

Lynne Martin says the steady rise in stock markets based in London and New York- the indexes have roughly doubled since the pit of the last global recession, amidst the banking crash of 2008/9- have also made the idea of travelling for most of the year more feasible. Several equity income funds, holding shares in global companies which tend to pay the more generous and reliable dividends, are producing an annual yield of around 5% for several years- plus the capital gain which many have to been able to achieve over the same period.

Since they decided to hit the road, Lynne and Tim have lived in nine countries- including Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, Ireland, Britain and Italy. Their journey ranges from a tiny garret in Paris, to the bull ring in Spain, the windswept costs of Portugal, and the occasional cruise to adjust the daily tempo.

When I caught up with Lynne, she said the next stop was almost certainly a return to Paris- followed by a rapid return to California, to check out their belongings, change their clothes in preparation for some warmer climates, and to see some of their seven grandchildren.

After that, we will head to Ecuador/Mexico for a while. Another advantage of the nomadic lifestyle is that you become much more interesting to grandchildren, if you are constantly on the road. There are so many things to see, and so much to talk about.”

Says Lynne Martin: “We find people are increasingly fascinated by the thought and concept of travelling- constantly. We work by the maxim; Postpone Nothing. If you really want to do something, best to get on with it- because there is no knowing how much time you might actually have to do it.

“Maybe it was easier for us- because I have never been a golfer, or wanted to be one.”

::INFORMATION: HOME, SWEET ANYWHERE”, a memoir by Lynne Martin published by Sourcebooks (, is available at W.H. Smith branches in London and online through Amazon at, at a quoted price of £9 99p.
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UK Travellers Cash In on Lower Hotel Prices

The increase strength of the pound was a key factor in reducing hotel prices for British travellers in more than 100 international destinations in the first half of 2014- with eastern European centres including Vilnius, Tallinn and Riga offering some of the best value for short breaks and an obvious magnet for stag do’s, says a new survey.

According to the latest Hotel Price Index, the growing strength of sterling against several major currencies- including the US dollar, the euro and the Brazilian Real- gave added spending power to millions of Brits around the globe.

Centres showing the largest price falls, year on year, included Sharm El Sheikh (-20% with rooms falling from £104 to £83 per night), Melbourne (-18%), Cairo (-17%), Taipei (-16%), Mumbai (-15%), Abu Dhabi (-14%), Moscow 9-13%) and Fort Lauderdale (-13%). Even Disneyland Paris showed a price fall of 12%, benefitting British visitors who usually find the theme park rather pricey.

Even Australian prices are beginning to move in the right direction, according to British eyes- but while Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney all show double digit price falls, prices for Brits actually rose in neighbouring New Zealand, with Auckland showing a 14% jump (to £78) and Wellington up by 11% to £90.

The picture in Latin America is mixed: up in Mexico, with Cancun now among the priciest spots in the globe, but Brazil quickly lost any oomph generated by the World Cup and saw falling hotel prices (down 8% in Rio to £166), largely because of the weakness of the Brazilian Real.

However, marked year on year price rises were recorded in Monte Carlo (up by 21% to £223), Tallinn (up by 18% but still only £80), Reykjavik (up 17% to £110), Mallorca (up 16% to £114), Ibiza (up 15% to £121), Dublin (up 10% to £87) and San Francisco (up 10% to £153).

London hotels also sustained a steady rise- up by 9% between January and June 2014.

Hotel prices in Asia were still the best value for money for UK travellers as Asian destinations occupied eight of the lowest ten places in the price table. Political unrest in Thailand was reflected in a 24% drop in prices in Hua Hin (down to £64), while Krabi and Bangkok were both down 19%, falling to £63 and £51 respectively.

Says Matt Wells, vice president of “There is no doubt that UK travellers will be getting greater value for their money in most destinations this year. The strength of the pound means UK travellers can really stretch their budgets that much further.

Looking deeper into the data, we see material gains in strength from hotels in the countries that suffered worst from global recession. Average prices paid in Greece, Iceland, and Ireland have all risen considerably for most travellers in the first six months of the year latest HPI reports.
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British Airways offers Upgrade Reward

It claims to be the world’s favourite airline, and British Airways could soon be winning even more friends with its promise to give Club World customers the chance to sample the high life with free upgrades to First on selected flights between September 4 and December 12.

The offer enables customers travelling in BA’s Club World to upgrade on one leg of their journey, free of charge, and use all the standard First facilities, from the seat to the First lounges, fine wines on the ground on board, a concierge service and dedicated check-in areas at the airport.

Says Kate Thornton, British Airways’ head of product and service: “This is a great opportunity to thank and reward customers, and gives them a chance to experience our luxurious First cabin and tailored service.

BA customers upgrading to First will enjoy the privacy of a suite within a beautiful cabin of between just 14 and 17 fully flat spacious seats. Suites offer a personal suitor, atmospheric personal lighting and electronic blind, a 15-inch entertainment screen with the latest noise-cancelling headsets and a leather-topped writing desk.

Customers are offered a range of high quality wines and Champagnes, an a la carte menu and fully bespoke service, allowing guests to work, sleep and dine at a time that suits them.

Outbound travel is between September 4 and December 31, 2014 while inbound travel must be completed by January 7, 2015.

::INFORMATION: Details available at To book call British Airways (0844 493 0787) or speak to a travel agent and request an upgrade at the time of booking.
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Ferry Firm offers Long Winter Breaks in Sun

If you find the thought of the long, cold-and possibly dark British winter, with power cuts already a possibility, check into a long-stay winter holiday in the sun with leading ferry firm Brittany ferries.

Following the success of its great-value ferry-inclusive apartment rentals in southern Spain, Brittany Ferries is adding properties in the Algarve coast of Portugal. You can enjoy a cruise and a four week stay in the sun this autumn, winter or spring from only £559* per person with your car.

It means you can escape the worst months of the British winter and even save on ever-rising heating bills by taking a long sojourn in the sun, enjoying outdoor pursuits such as tennis, golf, walking and al fresco eating.

Brittany Ferries has lined up high quality apartments in eight different resorts in southern Spain and two in Portugal, each with its own character and range of activities. While golfers will be attracted by La Manga on the Costa Blanca or Vilamoura on the Algarve, and the former resort even includes up to 16 vouchers which can be exchanged for rounds of golf, tennis, three-course dinners or spa treatments.

Others, such as the Crown Resort in Marbella, are fine for those who want a more cosmopolitan stay, with Puerto Banus, Fuengirola and Marbella within easy reach.

The holiday begins and ends with a relaxing cruise in a 4-berth cabin between either Portsmouth or Plymouth and Santander or Bilbao in Northern Spain. There are no worries about car hir-e because you can take your own car and pack everything you want for a long stay without paying excess baggage charges. All utilities plus a weekly cleaning service and linen change are included in the rental.

Says Christiane Barker, General Manager Holidays at Brittany Ferries: “Many people yearn to escape the dull winter months, but haven’t the resources or inclination to buy a property. If you stay a long time, you want to be really sure that you have chosen wisely and booking through us removes any risk. We have all heard stories of disappointed holidaymakers who have been caught out by booking an unsuitable property on the internet.

If you fancy breaking your journey across Spain in a comfortable hotel or Parador en route, Brittany Ferries can arrange that too.

The ferry firm also Spanish breaks through theqwinter (4-7 nights) in northern Spain- Asturias, the Basque Country, Cantabria and Galicia.

Package options in Spain include Coast & Mountain Escapes from just £179 per person, with 10 hotels to choose from; a Santander City Break from just £199 based on the comfortable and spacious Hotel Santemar, ideally located in the centre of Santander , a city t stretching along a wide bay with stunning beaches, the Cantabrian Sea as the source of fresh seafood , and nearby medieval villages including Santillana del Mar, or Potes.

Meanwhile Parador Hotel breaks from £219 offer the chance to stay at unusual properties which were former castles, monasteries or palaces, resonating with character and history and which have been meticulously restored to their former elegance whilst subtly incorporating many modern creature comforts. Packages include return crossings from Portsmouth or Plymouth to Santander or Bilbao for two people in a car, two-three nights’ onboard with an en suite 4-berth cabin each way, and 2-5 nights’ hotel B&B accommodation.

There are cruise-ferry services between Portsmouth and both Santander and Bilbao in Northern Spain throughout the autumn and winter with a crossing time of 24 hours.

::INFORMATION: Brittany Ferries reservations (0871 244 0633 and Long stay self catering breaks can also be for less than a month, if preferred.
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New Website to help travellers who have been ill

A new website InsuranceWith has been launched,which is designed to make life a bit easier for people with pre-existing medical conditions to get a good competitive deal on their travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The site was created in response to the cost and struggle people who have suffered an illness have to find travel insurance.

Founder of InsuranceWith and insurance professional for over 20 years, Fiona Macrae was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Once her treatment was finished she was surprised at how difficult it was to get an affordable travel insurance policy that covered breast cancer.

With Insurancewith I wanted to provide a realistically priced travel policy for people with previous medical conditions and one that offered them full cover. Once you’ve been ill you don’t want to compromise. Our aim is to allow people the chance to relax and enjoy their much-needed holiday”, says Fiona.

The company now offers cover on other conditions ranging from asthma to high blood pressure and believes that all travellers should be treated fairly with premiums that are based on actual risk, and not on a pre-conceived idea of the medical condition.

Their unique medical screening process enables them to provide competitive travel insurance for anyone with a medical condition without necessarily charging them an additional premium.

The new website has been created by James Taylor from web developers Radweb, who says: “Fiona and the InsuranceWith team are really focused on the customer and we wanted to carry that idea through the website by making it easy to use and easy to get in touch to discuss any aspect of a policy.

InsuranceWith are also big supporters of charities that help thousands of people who live with medical conditions such as breast cancer and diabetes and donate £1 for every travel insurance policy purchased to one of their supported charities.

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