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Am I covered for sport and leisure activities?

Free Spirit automatically covers a wide range of activities. You must ensure that your usual treating G.P. is happy for you to participate in any sport or leisure activity. You must also follow the safety guidelines for the activity concerned and where applicable use the appropriate and recommended safety equipment. Please read the Insurance Policy for details of the ‘Acceptable Activities’ covered as standard.

Do you cover Winter Sports activities?

Free Spirit includes cover for a range of Winter Sports activities on payment of an additional premium. You must ensure that your usual treating G.P. is happy for you to participate in any winter sports activity. You must also follow the safety guidelines for the activity concerned and where applicable use the appropriate and recommended safety equipment. Please read the Insurance Policy for details of the activities covered.

Activities

Activities

Over 100 activities included FREE

One of the most rewarding elements of going on holiday can be the activities you take part in. Perhaps you go away specifically to take part in a sporting pursuit. On the other hand your time away may give rise to the opportunity to try something different.

Either way, Free Spirit allows you to be active with confidence while you travel. Listed below are 4 activity packs available on your policy – including over 100 as standard.

If you intend to participate in any activity not listed below, please contact us.

Of course, the most important thing is to stay safe! To participate in any sport or leisure activity, you must ensure that you follow the safety guidelines for the activity concerned and where applicable you use the appropriate and recommended safety equipment. This would include the use of safety helmets, life jackets, safety goggles and protective clothing where appropriate. Failure on any of these points will invalidate a claim.

All activities are covered on a non-professional and non-competitive basis. In other words, where there is no element of payment, sponsorship, fee or prize money involved above a total of £200.

Activity Pack 1 – included as standard

  • Aerobics
  • Amateur Athletic Field Events
  • Amateur Athletic Track Events
  • Angling/Fishing (freshwater)
  • Animal Sanctuary (non big game)
  • Archery*
  • Badminton
  • Bamboo Rafting
  • Banana Boating
  • Bar Work
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Beach Games
  • Body Boarding
  • Boogie Boarding
  • Boules
  • Bowling
  • Bowls
  • Bridge Swinging*
  • Bungee Jumping*
  • Camel/Elephant Riding or Trekking (UK Booked)
  • Canoeing/Kayaking (White Water Grades 1-3)*
  • Catamaran Sailing (inshore)
  • Clay pigeon shooting*
  • Cricket
  • Croquet
  • Cross Country Running
  • Curling
  • Cycle Touring/Leisure Biking (up to 1,000m)
  • Dancing
  • Darts
  • Disc Golf
  • Diving (indoor up to 5m)
  • Dragon Boat Racing
  • Fell Running (up to 1,000m)
  • Fencing
  • Fives
  • Flag Football
  • Flying as a passenger (private/small aircraft/helicopter)*
  • Football/Soccer (practice and training)
  • Frisbee (recreational)
  • Glass Bottom Boats (inshore)
  • Golf
  • Gorilla Trekking (booked pre-trip –in a group – up to 1,000m)
  • Handball (practice and training)
  • Highland Games
  • Hockey (field – organised amateur match)
  • Horse riding (no jumping)
  • Hot Air Ballooning*
  • Indoor Skating (not ice)
  • Jet Boating*
  • Jet Skiing*
  • Kiting
  • Korfball
  • Laser Tag
  • Low Ropes
  • Marathons
  • Mini-Golf
  • Model Flying
  • Model Sports
  • Motorcycling up to 125cc on public roads for up to 14 days per trip (no racing – must possess a licence allowing you to ride an equivalent motorcycle in the UK or Channel Islands)*
  • Mountain Biking (up to 1,000m)
  • Mountaineering (in a group – all up to 1,000m)
  • Netball
  • Orienteering
  • Paddle Boarding (inshore)
  • Paintballing
  • Pentanque
  • Peteca
  • Pigeon Racing
  • Pony Trekking
  • Pool
  • Quoits
  • Rackets
  • Racquetball
  • Rafting (white water grades 1-3)*
  • Rifle Range*
  • Ringos
  • River Punting
  • Roller Blading/Skating (not ice)
  • Rounders
  • Rowing (inshore – recreational)*
  • Safari/Safari Trekking (UK Organised)
  • Sailing/Yachting (recreational – inshore)
  • Scuba diving (not solo – up to a maximum 30m)*
  • Segway (supervised, non-competitive)
  • Skate Boarding/Scooters (non-motorised)
  • Snorkelling (inside marked areas and/or with lifeguard present – inshore)
  • Softball
  • Squash
  • Stoolball
  • Swimming (inside marked areas and/or with lifeguard present)
  • Swimming off a Boat (with a qualified supervisor in attendance –  i.e. a lifeguard – inshore)
  • Swimming with Dolphins (inside marked areas and/or with lifeguard present – inshore)
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge Climbing (professionally organised and supervised)
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
  • Theme Parks
  • Tubing*
  • Tug of War
  • Unicycle Riding
  • Volleyball
  • Wakeboarding (inshore)
  • Water Parks
  • Water Polo (swimming pools only)
  • Whale Watching (professionally organised)
  • Yachting (inshore – crewing)*
  • Yoga

Please Note: those activities marked with an asterisk (*) do not have Personal Accident or Personal Liability cover.

Activity Pack 2 – additional premium required

  • Abseiling (indoor/outdoor climbing wall up to 25m)*
  • Airsoft***
  • Camel/Elephant Riding or Trekking (non-UK booked, organised tour only)*
  • Climbing Wall (indoor/outdoor, up to 25m)*
  • Cycle Touring/Leisure Biking (between 1,001m & 2,000m)**
  • Fell Running (between 1,001m & 2,000m)*
  • Hiking/Mountain Walking/Rambling/Trekking (in a group, between 1,001m & 2,000m)*
  • Mountain Biking (between 1,001m & 2,000m -excludes downhill)**
  • Parasailing/Parascending (over land or water – Europe only)***
  • Safari/Safari Trekking (non-UK booked, organised tour only)*
  • Sea Canoeing/Kayaking (under qualified supervision – inshore)**
  • Sea Fishing (inshore)**
  • Shark Cage Diving***
  • Summer Tobogganing***
  • Surfing***
  • Water Skiing (inshore)**
  • Windsurfing (inshore)**

Please Note:

  • the Medical excess is increased to £150 whilst participating in any of the activities within Activity Pack 2.
  • An activity marked with * means the benefits under the Personal Accident section are reduced by 50%
  • An activity marked with ** means the benefits under the Personal Accident section are reduced by 50%
    and there is no cover under the Personal Liability section.
  • An activity marked with *** means there is no cover provided under the Personal Accident or Personal Liability Sections.

Activity Pack 3 – additional premium required

  • Breathing Observation Bubble (BOB)
  • Canoeing/Kayaking (white water Grades 4 -5)
  • Cycle Touring/Leisure Biking (between 2,001m & 3,000m)
  • Fell Running (between 2,001m & 3,000m)
  • Gorilla Trekking (non-UK booked, organised tour only, in a group and up to 1,000m)
  • Hiking/Mountain Walking/Rambling/Trekking (in a group, between 2,001m & 3,000m)
  • Hydro Zorbing
  • Mountain Biking (between 2,001m & 3,000m – excludes downhill)
  • Octopush
  • Rafting (white water Grades 4-5, Europe only)
  • Sand Boarding
  • Sand Dune Skiing/Surfing
  • Tree Top Walks

Please Note: the Medical excess is increased to £200 and no cover is provided under the Personal Accident or Personal Liability sections whilst participating in the activities included in Activity Pack 3.

Activity Pack 4 – additional premium required

  • Cycle Touring/Leisure Biking (between 3,001m & 4,000m)
  • Fell Running (between 3,001m & 4,000m)
  • Gorge Walking (no ropes)
  • Hiking/Mountain Walking/Rambling/Trekking (in a group, between 3,001m & 4,000m)
  • Kite Boarding/Buggying/Surfing
  • Land Yachting
  • Mountain Biking (between 3,001m & 4,000m – excludes downhill)
  • Via Ferratta

Please Note: the Medical excess is increased to £250 and no cover is provided under the Personal Accident or Personal Liability sections whilst participating in the activities included in Activity Pack 4.

Need cover for Winter Sports?

Specific cover for Winter sports is available as an option.

Read more on specific winter sports cover

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Your COVID Travel Guide for an Anxiety Free Holiday

post covid travel banner

COVID travel post lockdown is going to look and feel very different in the UK and around the world. However, this means that your journey will be more safe, comfortable, and enjoyable than ever before!

Free Spirit Travel Insurance believes that everyone has the right to travel, no matter their age, disability, or medical condition. Therefore, we hope that our COVID travel guide will give you the confidence to travel once again.

When can I travel?

covid travel guide

From April 12th you can go on a domestic holiday or staycation if you’re staying in self-catered accommodation.  Pub gardens and outdoor restaurants will also be open.

So, if you see yourself as a foodie, spend a long weekend tasting a different town’s local cuisine. Or, take yourself on a culinary journey across the UK! You could start in Norfolk for a Cromer crab supper and finish in the ‘Land o’ Cakes’ (Scotland) for dessert.

May 17th is the date highlighted on our calendar for international travel if all goes well. After this, we will have to wait and see which destinations are cleared for travel by the government, and which ones we will have to self-isolate on return to the UK. Although if this is no issue for you, we can offer you specialist cover to travel against FCDO advice.

When should I book a holiday?

Whenever you feel comfortable booking a trip, make sure you find an airline or tour operator who’ll give you as much flexibility as possible within their booking terms. This will allow you to change the dates or defer travel if required. We strongly recommend a package trip as you will benefit from

Once booked, take out Free Spirit travel insurance on the same day. That way you will have cancellation cover in place straight away. You will also then have all the features and benefits for your chosen level of cover. For instance, a Super Duper Policy is a good level of cover to have as it provides cover for the disruption caused by a natural disaster such as a volcanic eruption that affects air travel.

Where can I travel?

As the UK vaccination programme continues to progress, countries around the world are ready to open their doors to British citizens. Find out where you can travel after you’ve had your COVID vaccine, at-a-glance using our helpful guide and summary table.

If you want to stay closer to home you could spend some time exploring London town from the 12th April, while staying in rented accommodation, within one of the leafy suburbs like Richmond or Hampstead.

However, if you’d be more relaxed staying in an open space, away from the crowds in the UK, you could opt for a holiday off the beaten track or spend a long weekend visiting a UK heritage site.

Do I need travel insurance for a UK Staycation?

Yes, it’s wise to obtain travel insurance for a staycation. The specialist cover will protect you against unexpected events, which could still happen during a UK holiday.

Why do I need travel insurance for a staycation?

  • If you need to unexpectedly cancel your holiday. Due to illness, injury, redundancy, or bereavement, you’ll need cancellation and curtailment cover. This will help you claim the cost of your unused accommodation, any pre-booked outings, or travel expenses.
  • It may be sensible to get staycation insurance if your hotel or cottage goes into administration before your departure, due to the economic climate.
  • Your breakdown cover may need upgrading to help you get towed if you’re more than 10 miles away from your home or destination.
  • Your home insurance may not cover all your personal belongings outside of your home as standard. Plus, if you’re travelling with many expensive gadgets and/or equipment, these items can add up. Especially if you’re travelling as a family of four or more.
  • If you have annual travel insurance for multiple trips abroad it may not cover you for a staycation.
  • You still need cover for adventurous activities if you are in the UK. Plus, it will come in handy if your expensive equipment is damaged or stolen. Or even if you can’t ski, due to the piste being closed during a ski holiday in Scotland.

Overseas Travel

On the other hand, if you want to treat yourself or your family to a summer’s holiday in Europe, there are sure to be options within a few hour’s travel time.

If so, check the expiry date on any EHIC cards. If they are out of date soon, order your new GHIC Cards, for access to healthcare in participating countries.

Of course, there is no need to limit yourself to European travel – further-flung destinations are also likely to be available to you too.

COVID Travel Mapscovid travel map

Who can I travel with?

If things go according to the government’s plan:covid travel companions

  • from May 17th, two households of up to six people can meet inside. So from this date you could go on holiday with another household.
  • from June 21st anyone you choose. By this time all legal limits on social contact within the UK should be lifted. Not only will you be able to holiday with family and friends. You’ll also be able to have a party before jetting off!

You just need to meet the entry requirements of your chosen destination and fill out any mandatory paperwork if you choose to holiday outside of the UK. We have gathered some of the most important info on ‘green list’ destinations on our at-a-glance guide.

With a Free Spirit policy, whether you’re jetting off somewhere exotic or going on a UK staycation, we’ll cover you and everyone in your party. Whatever their age or medical condition. Free Spirit is one of the rare group of specialist provides that provides cover for the vast majority of medical conditions. We can even travellers who are waiting on further treatment or investigation for some diagnosed conditions. Give us a call if this applies to you and we will do all we can to help.

COVID Travel Rules

If you go on holiday with a burning desire to explore the local area you can still do so – as long as you follow the rules and guidelines in your destination.

Travelling on public transport after lockdown

If you can, aim to travel by foot or bicycle when venturing around the UK or within a foreign city.

covid travelMany cities are trying to prioritise cyclists and pedestrians, for a safer and stronger recovery out of lockdown. For instance, Milan and Barcelona have ambitious plans for road-space reallocation and Berlin introduced a pop-up bike path.

On public transport services, measures are being put in place to facilitate physical distancing, such as reducing capacity on individual services and increasing service capacity to rebuild safe and connected cities. Be additionally aware of public transport rules set by the country you’re visiting.

3 rules to always follow on public transport post lockdown:

  1. Follow social distancing rules.
  2. Remember your face mask.
  3. Be prepared to make a contactless payment, to prevent illness. Doing so will also speed up the service for you and your fellow passengers. You may find that many services will only accept contactless payments for these reasons.

COVID Travel by bus or coach

Physical distancing at bus stops and stations has been put in place in many locations. You may even encounter two-meter spots for you to wait for a bus. Many bus stops themselves have also been enlarged. On a lot of buses you can now board from any door, reducing your contact with the driver and/or other passengers.

While onboard buses, look out for handwashing facilities and any monitoring systems. These will allow you to report any COVID-related symptoms to the driver.

For many coach operators, fumigation has started to become part of the daily cleaning regime. For further details, contact them before your trip to find out more.

COVID Travel by Train

Is it safe to travel by train during the COVID pandemic?covid travel by train

Trains are in fact much safer than you would imagine. In fact, the risk of COVID-19 infection on rail travel is less than 0.01% on an average journey (or 1 in 11,000 journeys), and that’s if you’re not wearing a face mask or practising social distancing!

The risk is halved again when the mandatory COVID-19 travel rules are followed.

Either way, it’s best to follow the advice set by National Rail while travelling in the UK, or another country:

  1. Travel when it’s quiet
  2. Use a hand sanitiser and wash your hands before and after your journey.
  3. Wear your face covering.
  4. Keep your distance between staff and other passengers.

Precautions for COVID Travel by air

Precautions for air travel post lockdown will include the use of face masks and standard-issue PPE and gloves for all staff. The easy availability of sanitisers will also become the norm. Several airlines in Asia and Europe have already made masks compulsory for both passengers and crew. For more information, read our blog on face masks.

Airports around the world are aiming to enhance their customer service. Their goal, hastened by the pandemic, is to ensure you have a safe and comfortable experience, from the moment you reach the airport.

What will air travel look like when it returns?

  • Enhanced health protocols will mean you’ll have to arrive at the airport earlier.
  • Pre-booked security processes will enable you to turn up at a set time slot. This way you’ll receive a personalised experience because there will be no queue.
  • Contactless solutions will allow you to order food, drinks, and even duty-free shopping from your mobile to your airport lounge.
  • A digitised airport journey will emerge, including contactless passport desks.

When you reach a country’s border, testing regulations processed at check-in will catch any positive cases. While your vaccine will be a way to keep the population protected. Both these actions need to be followed to keep everyone safe, to allow quarantine-free travel to return.

You should also plan for travel disruption. If a country closes its borders, it may do so with little or no warning. Before your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route.

What will cruise travel look like post lockdown?

covid travel precautions when cruisingAll being well, the UK government is planning to allow domestic cruises to reopen from 17th May. If you’ve never tried one before, now may be the time to give cruising a go. Either way, it’ll certainly give you the opportunity to travel again!

Which cruise lines will be offering domestic cruises in the UK?

  • Princess Cruises have plans to set off in late summer.
  • P&O Cruises are to start a series of short breaks and week-long trips in the summer.
  • Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will begin a series of UK voyages for summer. Each will sail from Southampton and travel around the UK for UK residents.
  • Viking Cruises will begin departures from Portsmouth in June.

While on board, all passengers and crew will receive daily non-invasive saliva PCR tests. Additional health checks, sanitisation, and physical distancing measures will also be introduced.

If the UK cruise industry can demonstrate that they can operate carefully and follow the correct protocols within the UK, cruising to Europe may then be made possible!

What activities can I do on holiday post lockdown?

It’s your holiday, so if you’ve had your full vaccination, give yourself the freedom to do something you’ve missed doing!

You might want to consider outdoor activities. After all, outdoor spaces (like hiking trails, national parks, and beaches), give you more room for social distancing measures, which will likely still be required in many destinations.

Don’t forget, a benefit of taking out a Free Spirit policy is that over 100 activities are included for free. So feel free to experience something new while away! Just follow the safety guidelines and use the appropriate, recommended safety equipment provided.

Why is it important to have COVID Travel Insurance?

It is important to purchase the right travel insurance after booking a break, to give you the confidence to travel.

Free Spirit travel insurance is ideal because each policy includes enhanced COVID-19 cover. When you travel abroad, COVID-19 cover includes emergency medical and associated costs, as well as state hospital benefits.

You can also choose from two different levels of cover – Super or Super Duper. Each comes with COVID-19 Cover, which includes: cancellation, repatriation, and emergency medical expenses to give you the freedom to travel.

So, in the event that you or one of your party is taken ill, or tests positive for the virus, just before you’re due to travel, our insurance will allow you to claim for cancellation and irrecoverable costs. For more details click here.

 

We hope we’ve included everything you needed to know, to have an anxiety-free holiday. However, if you have any questions or queries, please get in touch.

Top Cycling Holidays in Attractive UK Holiday Destinations

cycling holidays banner

Cycling holidays allow you to feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face while giving you the freedom to discover new cycle routes within attractive, natural surroundings. Cycling is also a great way to exercise and can help you bounce back from an illness or injury. Your mental health is sure to get a boost too!

You can book cycling holidays which last a few days, or you can take a one-two week cycling break, to explore your chosen destination. In this blog, we’ll explain how to prepare for a cycling holiday and uncover top cycling trails and hotspots, at some of the most attractive UK holiday destinations.

How can I Prepare for a Cycling Holiday?

To train for a cycling holiday and avoid returning home over-tired or burned out you should do the following:

  1. Give yourself a warm-up by getting your body ready. Go on some weekend rides (or extend them) in the lead-up to your cycling break. Psychologically you’ll also feel prepared too.
  2. If you’re going on a cycling holiday in a group, pinpoint the route/s you plan to take, as well as what you all want to see and do in-between your cycling. You might even want to go for a couple of rides solo too.
  3. During your holiday have a ‘recovery day’, or a day when you decide to go for a shorter, flatter ride. This could be dependent on the weather, so read the forecast before leaving home.
  4. Prepare your bicycle by making sure your gears and brakes are in good working order. You might want to have these serviced or even replace them beforehand.
  5. Take removable layers of clothing that’ll wick away sweat (such as a base layer, packable jacket, arm, and leg warmers), so it doesn’t cool on your skin during descents.
  6. Make sure you have a comfortable saddle for any endurance rides, by testing it in advance. If you’re hiring a bike it is usually no problem to fit your own saddle, which you know to be comfortable.
  7. Remember to fuel correctly each day. Eat porridge for breakfast, for a slow release of energy throughout the day. Then in the evening, have a portion of pasta, rice, or a potato dish. In hot weather, drink more and eat less, and in cooler weather drink less and eat more.

cycling trail

If you follow these steps, you should return home with an improved level of fitness. If you are a beginner the health benefits should be even more pronounced, once those aches and pains ease off…

Cycling Holidays for Beginners

A good distance to cycle every day is between 40-60 miles if you’re on a bicycle tour. However, this can be shorter or longer, depending upon your level of fitness. As it’s your cycling holiday do what is comfortable to you and only push yourself as much as you are confident to. As it is your holiday the emphasis is on enjoying yourself, relaxing and not placing too much pressure on yourself – unless you want to! Otherwise, cut down the distance and enjoy a leisurely bicycle ride!

What you should do is fewer miles on your first day. This is because you’ll be slower, due to not being in your best physical shape on day one. So just set yourself a manageable goal. Then, the longer you cycle, the stronger and faster you’ll become each day and the further you’ll be able to ride.

For easy rides that allow you to take in some of the best scenery in Britain, you could follow an old railway line, cycle through tunnels, or find a flat, traffic-free track. You can always break up your chosen cycle trail to stroll around nature reserves, and stay in country villages too!

Easy Cycling Holiday locations for Beginners:

  • The Manifold Way, Staffordshire; is an eight-mile track that runs between Hulme End and Waterhouses, which follows the old Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. Ride through a 100m tunnel after views of a limestone gorge in Staffordshire Peak District.

 

  • The Hadrian’s Cycleway, Cumbria; which is a coast-to-coast cycling trail. Covering 174 miles (280km), you can decide which part you want to cycle along and which pubs to refresh yourself in by viewing Hadrian’s Cycleway Guide Book However, it’s very accessible for the casual cyclist, with glimses of Hadrian’s Wall within some of England’s most wild and dramatic countryside.

 

  • The Camel Trail, Cornwall; follow old and historic railway lines, from Padstow to Wenford Bridge. Cycle past moorlands, and through the wooded Camel Valley – there’s the bonus of an award-winning pub on route! This trail is said to be good for both solo cycling holidays, but also family cycling holidays because it’s largely a traffic-free trail, easily broken up into small chunks to cater to your or your families overall fitness levels.

cycling in the morning

What is the best time for cycling?

Morning is the best time for cycling, which is great news if you love to capture a sunrise! As the sun is at its lowest then, you can avoid the peak heat and embrace comfortable morning weather. As you start to pedal, your increased blood flow will also wake your body and you’ll feel fresh to enjoy the rest of the day. After a cycle in the morning, you could then stop for lunch and explore the sights of a coastal village, or shelter from the sun under a tree with a picnic, or even go for a dip in the sea!

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Where are the best places to take a cycling holiday in the UK?

There are a number of top destinations to choose from in Great Britain. However, if you wanted to cycle around the UK, which is known as The Great Tour (billed as the UK’s “ultimate cycling challenge”) it would take you 64 days, riding 60 miles each day.

Here are a selection of cycling holidays for you to choose from, which should be slightly more manageable for you and your party…

Cycling Holidays in Devon

coast to coast cycling holidays

If you admire the contrasts of Devon’s coastline, from its rocky north to its sandy, southern coastline, a cycling holiday coast to coast could be for you. The 102 -mile route through rural Devon, fr

om Ilfracombe to Plymouth can be ridden in two days. However, for families and newcomers to cycling holidays, you can cover the mainly, traffic-free route over three days.

Or, choose to have a more relaxed journey by completing the route in two weeks. As you ride, you’ll pedal along historic railway viaducts, through tunnels and over the charming Devonshire countryside. You can find places to stop in at Barnstable, Okehampton, and Tavistock.

Cycling Holidays in Dorset

weymouth beach

Choose from one of three Jurassic coast cycling trails or complete each one over a week, for a jam-packed adventure cycling holiday in Weymouth, on the Jurassic Coast! Thanks to Dorset Country Council, the trails are fit for both young families and avid cyclists. Each starts from Overcombe, Weymouth’s eastern seafront.

The Lodmoor Trail is perfect for youngsters. At three miles long it includes a stretch along the pretty Preston Beach and goes around Lodmoor Country park and Nature Reserve. The Weymouth Trail (8.5 miles) follows the Weymouth Way to Abbotsbury, where you’ll find a Swannery and Sub-tropical Gardens. The longest trail is the Portland Trail, which joins the Rodwell Trail which will take you to Osprey Quay and Portland Marina. With views of Portland Habour, you can enjoy a well-deserved seafood supper.

The Cotswolds

cycling holidays in the cotswolds

You can book a guided cycling holiday with different providers across the UK, which can include overnight stays. On these types of cycling holidays, you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, while cycling in a group. Your guides can also suggest both long and short routes, which suit your level of stamina.

During a guided cycling holiday in the Cotswolds, you’ll cycle through historic villages and down quiet lanes, as you embrace the quintessential Cotswold countryside. Start in Moreton-in-March and finish at Chipping Campden, within five days, by choosing long and/or short routes. Along the way, pause to wander around ancient streets, markets or visit Hidcote Manor Gardens. For a weekend cycling break, follow the Chipping Campden Circular.

Guided Family Cycling Holidays in the Lake District

cycling holidays for families

Spend some quality time with your family during a cycling holiday in the stunning Eden Valley. To develop your cycling skills and to cycle more confidently and safely, start your guided break with a maintenance check from your MIAS (Mountain Bike Instructors Award Scheme). Then spend the next three days cycling between 10-20 miles across flat terrain. Within the hills and Lakeland Fells, visit the 13th century, Brougham Castle.

What won’t be included in a guided family cycling holiday is travel in

surance, which is where Free Spirit can offer you a range of benefits, such as curtailment cover if you need to cut your trip short unexpectedly. Free Spirit will also cover you for mountain biking, cycle touring/leisure biking (up to 1,000m), as well as over 100 other activities for free. 

In contrast, if you’re looking for a self-guided or solo cycling holiday, Northern Island is a great choice…

Northern Ireland

the giants causeway

Any cycling holiday in Ireland will be an adventure! For a self-guided cycling holiday in Northern Ireland, take one of the ‘off the beaten track’ routes from Belfast, which can be mapped out for you by a travel provider. They can also book your accommodation and luggage transfers too.

Over the course of your cycling break, roll along cycle greenways, past stunning seascapes and mighty mountain passes, and visit some top UK heritage sites, such as the Giants Causeway. One route that is perfect for novices, all ages and abilities is The Lagan and Lough Cycle Way. Just 20.3 miles long, spend a week or less taking in cityscape views. While cycling through a number of beautiful parks, stop for a picnic before finishing at Lisburn docks. If you love wildlife watching or nature photography, you might want to stop in at The Belfast Lough Nature Reserve to watch redshanks, oystercatchers, and black-tailed godwits.

Cycling Holidays in Wales

cycling holidays in wales

Begin a cycling holiday in Wales from the medieval market town of Ludlow, on the England-Wales border. Start with a visit to Ludlow’s 11th-century castle and choose from one of Ludlow’s many cycling routes. If you’re a fan of fishing, there are plenty of trout streams to stop off at.

For a challenge, follow The Radnor Ring, which is the remotest part of Britain south of the Highlands. Follow the signed route across the Radnorshire hills towards the Wye Valley.

A route full of archaeological intrigue, covering 108-136 miles it may be an ideal off-the-beaten-track holiday, as well as an attractive location for cycling. On this vast route, you can always cycle a section of it. For instance, cycle through the Elan Valley dams and head for the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm.

Wherever you’re pedalling around you’ll need some comfortable accommodation after a day on the saddle…

Cycling Holiday Accommodation

  • A Farmhouse for the family

man cycling

For a luxury cycling holiday stay in a thatched farmhouse within the heart of The New Forest, which will be roomy enough for all the family – including the dog! Get out the board games and play in the games barn when the weather’s wet. When dry, head to Forest Leisure Cycling to hire your bicycle and hit the plentiful cycle tracks.

  • A cosy holiday cottage

Do self-catering in style, while staying in a charming cottage surrounded by cycling routes for all abilities. For couples, enhance your romantic break! Find a cottage with a hot tub cottage. Or, travel solo and focus upon your own self-care needs after a long day of cycling.

  • A hotel surrounded by cycling routes

Find a sport, craft, and spa hotel surrounded by cycling routes. Here, you can hire an electric bicycle, before deciding which bike trail to follow. You could then extend your stay, to include a couple of days at the spa, or book into a wellness retreat to recuperate and reap all the benefits of your cycling break.

Whichever UK holiday destination attracts your attention for a cycling holiday, don’t forget Free Spirit UK travel insurance. There are many features and benefits of taking out a policy, such as COVID-19 Cancellation Cover. For more information contact us.

Post COVID Travel Trends to Inspire Your Best Holiday Yet

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Many post COVID travel trends have emerged, as the course of the pandemic has evolved over the past 12 months or so. However, thanks to the unveiling of the roadmap out of lockdown, hand-in-hand with the first signs of spring, we have the freedom to look forward to travelling again soon.

Here are Free Spirit’s favourite up-and-coming post-COVID travel trends, which we may well be experiencing shortly.

Conservation Minded Holidays

post covid travel trend conservation holiday

If you loved awakening to the sound of birdsong during lockdown and now want to give something back to nature, take part in a conservation project or go on a conservation holiday. Reduce the decline of the UK’s wildlife, maintain the upkeep of their natural habitats, and return farmland back to nature, on a sustainably-minded travel experience.

The idea is to encourage guests to bring a UK ecosystem back to its natural state through rewilding and regenerative farming. In return, you’ll have a calming experience engaging with nature, enhancing your wellbeing not to mention your all-round health.

Stay within a secluded nature reserve or grassland estate, in a farmhouse, cottage, or Shepherd’s hut. However, remember that you will need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. If you’d just prefer some peace and quiet, opt for an isolation holiday.

Isolation Holidays for post-COVID Travel

Want to keep away from crowds and follow social distancing rules comfortably? Head for the hills and take a break off the beaten track. You could discover a heritage site in the UK, that you didn’t know existed. Otherwise, travel to one of the UK’s unique islands or archipelagos such as St Kilda or the Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland.

If you’re aiming for a holiday destination with lots of open space, you could also treat your four-legged friend to a dog walking holiday, for a scamp around in the countryside. He/she will be able to experience some new sights and aromas, while you have the perfect excuse to tuck into the best of Britain’s locally sourced cuisine.

Self Drive Holidays

Nova Scotia

If you want to escape to the open road, one of the many self-drive holidays in Canada could be for you. For instance, you could explore Nova Scotia. Two national parks and whale watching are just some of the attractions on offer! What is more, Canada has actually been endorsed as the ideal destination by many recently because it is especially suitable for social distancing.

It’s a fab destination for post COVID travel because you can avoid the crowds easily during a ‘fly-drive holiday‘. However, if you are keen on the idea of exploring while behind the wheel, but want to do so closer to home, you can also find just as many routes in the UK for an adventurous UK self-drive holiday.

Travelling through a country instead of over it also gives rise to options that support sustainable travel.

Sustainable Travel

When the world went into lockdown, nature was given an opportunity to breathe again as carbon dioxide levels dropped and overtourism was paused. Since then, a growing number of people have gained a passion for sustainable travel and care for the environment. To do so, look for options to minimise use of airline travel altogether. Look for options to explore a country by travelling through it via train, bicycle (bike-packing) or partly on foot.

This practice taps into a trend called slow travel. It is becoming ever more popular as it allows for more immersive experiences of a destination, and connections with the locals who call it home.

If you enjoy a cruise, you can do so sustainably too. Check out this surprising eco-friendly cruise ship.

Nostalgia Holidays

post covid trend group holidays

What was your favourite UK holiday destination as a child? Why not go back to that seaside town or countryside location and introduce it to the rest of the family?

Wander off to see if that sweet shop is still there or if the walk to the beach really is that long. Is your favourite café still there? If not, discover a new one. Either way, you’ll have lots of memories to share and new ones to make with your travelling companions!

Group holidays

Spend some much-needed time with family or friends. Think of the type of shared experiences to make up for lost time – why not consider an outdoor activity that you’ll all enjoy. When it comes to accommodation, there are lots to choose from in the UK, from a cosy cottage to a treehouse in a forest. You could even stay on a boat during an especially laid-back canal boat holiday!

Bucket List Breaks

Do you have dreams of ticking off a trip that’s top of your holiday wish list? Something special to celebrate, a milestone birthday, celebration, or anniversary? The last year may have been one you’d rather forget so make up for it by fulfilling your bucket list break of a lifetime! Fit in all of your favourite outdoor activities, accompanied with an attractive backdrop and some suitable accommodation and you’re ready to go!

You could even book your own tropical birthday bubble somewhere like The Maldives to keep in line with social distancing. Wherever you decide to go, to ensure you’re proved with financial protection book a package holiday and ensure it is ATOL protected.

Minications

post covid travel trends

A type of holiday close to home, which encourages you to be spontaneous! A minication is when you book a short break at the last minute. Why not allow yourself to indulge in a few throughout the year?  You could base yours on a hobby or interest, and meet some like-minded friends along the way.

Or go solo and immerse yourself in nature. Stay at a wellness retreat. We’ve touched upon minications within recent blogs, so here are a few ideas to add to your list…

Free Spirit’s Minication Suggestions:

Staycations

 Brighton

A UK holiday or ‘staycation’ has been on top of many minds since the first lockdown. It’s simply a new name for what we Brits have been doing since the birth of the British railway, which took us to the coast to escape the cities. Staycations are now a popular option to help us escape home life.

They’re also a great alternative if you’re nervous about air travel or aren’t comfortable leaving Britain’s shores at the current time. Another great benefit is taking the opportunity to take your pick of unusual staycation accommodation and outdoor activities to do, to create a unique UK holiday.

Flexations

Slightly longer than a staycation, change your scenery for weeks or months at a time, by relocating to a different part of the UK for an immersive holiday. During one month, learn about a village, town, or postcode by living like a local. Find some inspiring activities to do led by friendly, local experts who you’ll be supporting within the community. Yoga, sand surfing, and pottery making, there are plenty of options and you’ll be sure to make some new friends too.

 

After reflecting upon the post COVID travel trends for 2021, we feel it’s time to spend some time indulging in travel and hope we’ve inspired you to try something new. Whatever type of holiday you’re most drawn to and wherever that may be, don’t forget to take Free Spirit Travel Insurance along for the adventure!

Top UK Golf Holidays to Swing a Club

Golf Holidays are a way to relax with friends and family in the sunshine. As the days start to get longer and brighter, take the opportunity to master your handicap, while catching some rays.

For men and a growing number of women, a golf break over a long weekend can be a way to spend quality time together. While you chat and walk within attractive grounds, before relaxing with a refreshment or two.

If you’re new to golf, or an avid player, we’ve found the best places to enjoy new surroundings while you improve your skillset. Attractive and challenging courses are not hard to find to embark on a glorious golf holiday in the UK, but here are some ideas for where to start.

Dust off your golf clubs, (or hire some new ones) and we’ll show you the top places that you can tee off from.

Golf Holidays for beginners

If you’re new to golf or want to brush up your skillset, book a golf tuition break. You can attend a residential golf school with courses designed for beginner to advanced players. Here you’ll learn in small groups with a professional on the driving range, short game area, or within indoor swing studios. Whatever the weather you’re sure to improve your handicap by the end of your break.

Where can I find a golf tuition break for beginners in the UK?

  • Shropshire where golf was first played in 1889 at Ludlow Golf Club.
  • East Sussex, which is home to two championship golf courses within 1100 acres.
  • Loch Lomond Scotland where you can learn under the watchful eye of PGA Golf Professionals.

golf holidays for beginners

 

A Golf Holiday in Scotland

St Andrews

With over 550 golf courses to choose from in Scotland, you will be spoilt for choice! However, we recommend visiting St Andrews for a golf break known as the ‘Home of Golf’. Although the Old Course is said to be on every golf fanatics list, the surrounding areas are full of historic and high-quality courses too. Try playing at New Course, Jubilee, or Castle Course at St Andrews Golf Links, each of which with outstanding designs coupled with luxury accommodation.

golf holidays in scotland

 

Golf Breaks in England

Yorkshire

As one of the biggest counties in England, Yorkshire has 190 golf courses. There are hidden gems as well as the better known locations found around the country’s major cities of York, Leeds, and Wakefield meaning plenty of accommodation options. So don’t just book the best course or resort ahead of time – snap up some good accommodation near the course in advance too. Then before you head off, Free Spirit will cover you for cancellation and curtailment, in the unlikely event that you need to cut your trip short.

If you’re looking for a flat course with heritage, head to Harrogate Golf Club which is home to a 100-year-old colonial-style clubhouse. For an enjoyable journey from tee to green on every hole, go to Ganton Golf Club, near Scarborough. Ganton is ranked as one of Europe’s top 30 Championship Courses, meaning you’ll find greens in top condition throughout the year.

golf holidays for couples

The Midlands

The Midlands includes Derbyshire, Hertford, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Northamptonshire, which will provide you with a medieval backdrop of ancient woodlands. The Notts Golf Club at Hollinwell and the Sherwood Forest Club are two to head for if this interests you. The course at Sherwood Forest is within an area of special scientific interest. The Notts is within a natural valley called Kirkby Forest and has fairways that sweep throughout wooded hillsides, heather, fern, gorse clad, and valleys. However, to play at a famous golfing center, stay at The Belfry, which has hosted the Ryder Cup 4 times between 1985 and 2002.

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man playing golf

Devon

For novices and professionals, a golf break in Devon will test your abilities due to its varying landscape, if you tee off with coastal views, or inland, at Dartmouth, within Dartmoor’s National Park. Dartmouth Golf Club has two courses, a relaxing 8 hole course, which will test your mid to short iron play, and an 18 hole Championship Course. However, if you really want a challenge, tee off on the coast at one of Sauton Golf Club’s courses. Each is a links course, which means they’re full of uneven fairways, thick, rough, and small deep bunkers – not to mention exposed to unforgiving coastal crosswinds and driving rain.

golf ball

Cornwall

A golf holiday in Cornwall is a popular destination because of its mild climate all year round and challenging rugged, windswept, headland links courses for experienced golfers. For a course fit for both experienced players and amateurs, try Trevose Golf and Country Club, Near Padstow, with its charming views of Constantine Bay. There’s a short course for beginners to refine their skills and a technically challenging 9 hole Championship course, ranked as one of the best in the UK. Other highly rated golf destinations in Cornwall include St Mellion, Watergate Bay, and Fowey.

golf holidays in cornwall

 

Golf Holidays in Wales

Some of the best golfing holidays in Wales can be found in the south. Although there are only seven they all come in different shapes and sizes. Each will offer something special. Play the long game at Vale Resort, which covers 7,433 yards and includes one of the longest par-fives in Wales. A par five is a hole that an expert golfer is projected to accomplish, with five strokes (hits). If your aim is to beat your best during your golf holiday this course might be for you! On the other hand, if you long for picture-perfect shots, tee off at Llanymynech, Aberdyf, Aberystwyth, or Cardigan Golf Club.

golf holidays in wales

 

Golf and Spa Breaks for couples

To relax and unwind after a long day on the fairway, combine your golf holiday with a spa break. Luckily the best golf courses in the UK are usually linked with some of the best spas. There are many benefits of visiting a spa after a game of golf too, which help you forget any nightmare shots and alleviate your muscle tension.

As you bath in hot water, your muscles and central nervous system will relax, as your body focuses upon the heat gain. When sitting in water, its natural buoyancy will reduce your body weight by 90%, to reduce the stress on your joints. A therapeutic sports massage will also prevent future injuries and improve your posture during future games of golf. Just book in advance to enjoy all the facilities!

Where can I find a golf and spa break in the UK?

spas at golf reorts

 

Family golf holidays

Want to take all your family on a golf holiday? Just book a golf break that’s family-friendly, with courses suitable for experienced golfers, families, and beginners.

If you’d like a range of activities to do on a golf holiday, stay at Slayley Hall in Northumberland. Slayley Hall offers golf classes, with two championship layouts to choose from and different activities for children. When the weather’s fine, take a dip in the swimming pool. When dry, follow an adventure trail around the grounds. Dukes Meadow in London can offer your group not only three golf courses but a game of tennis or a slide down the ski slopes! However, if you just want a relaxed game, play at Ferndown Forest Golf Club in Dorset, before dinner at its country pub, overlooking the 18th hole. 

golf holidays for families

 

Travel Insurance for Golf Holidays

We hope we’ve provided you with a range of attractive and challenging golf breaks to choose from. Whichever golf holiday you go for, don’t forget Free Spirit UK holiday insurance.

When you book a golf holiday for all the family, everyone will be insured – a Free Spirit insurance policy has no upper age limit. Also, over 100 activities are included for free as well as golf. Great for when you add some other activities to your itinerary to mix things up!

You could also book a golf break around a future event in your calendar, such as a family wedding or party. Just remember that the price of your policy will be based on the total cost of your trip.

 

Free Spirits Guide to Wildlife Watching in the UK

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Wildlife watching provides an opportunity to sit back and immerse ourselves in nature. There may be an animal you want to watch; like a rare bird, a nocturnal creature, or an insect; or you want to spend more time observing what’s in your garden, local park, or nature reserve.

Either way, to help you start spotting even the shiest of creatures, we have created this guide to help you. What to wear, where to go, and when. If you’re happy wildlife watching close to home, or wish to head off for a long weekend away, pick up your binoculars and get ready to embrace the great outdoors!

How do I start wildlife watching?

First, find the right wildlife watching equipment. Whatever your location, even if it is just your front room or the end of your street, you’ll need the right wildlife watching supplies.

Which is the best wildlife watching equipment?

  • A camera trap is a wireless, digital camera, connected to an infrared sensor. It can “see” warm objects (animals) that come into contact with its sensor. When it sees an object it will record footage of the animal, which you can playback later. They might be used for conservation projects but you can also purchase them for home use and control them via your smartphone app.wildlife watching equipment.
  • Night Vision Kit are also useful if you’re watching wildlife after dark, at home, or within a nature reserve. Choose from night vision monoculars and binoculars, which have versatile night vision units. To enable you to see wildlife easily and at a distance, they have infrared (IR)-sensitive CMOS sensors and micro LCD screens.
  • Thermal imaging kits are the next level up when it comes to wildlife watching gear! They worked for James Bond and they can work for you too. They’ll give you the visibility to spot owls and deer at a distance, despite the animal’s visual camouflage. The digital camera can provide you with an image because it can sense infrared radiation (emitted heat) and translate it into a visual.

Once you have picked your equipment, next think about what to wear…

What’s the best clothing to wear?

Apart from warm clothing such as gloves, socks, and fleeces, the items below will be useful for wildlife watching, when you need to blend in with nature or walk safely during dusk and in the darkness.

Clothing for wildlife watching: 

owl watching

  • Wildlife watching hides. A hide is a lightweight bag that you can hide in, to spot wildlife. The best ones are waterproof, windproof, and help you to camouflage in the wilderness. You can also use some of them as a poncho when walking or sit within them to shield yourself from the elements.
  • Camouflaged clothing such as a jacket, trousers, and hat.
  • Sturdy waterproof footwear for all weathers.
  • A head torch, if you’re out in the darkness, so you can see your footing and manage your equipment at ease.

With all the wildlife watching gear and clothing to choose from you’re almost ready to go!

If you’re looking for a particular type of bird though, you may want to train your ears. Luckily the RSPB website has an easy resource for you to identify each bird you hear or see.

When is the best time to go wildlife watching in the UK?

The UK’s wildlife can be watched at any time of the year. However, not all wildlife is on show throughout each season. So just decide where you want to explore and appreciate what you do spot.

Where can I see wildlife in the UK all year round?

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  • Visit saltmarshes and estuaries in autumn and winter to see ducks, geese, swans, and waders.
  • Along the coasts, you can watch bird migrations in the spring and autumn.
  • Within urban parks, where crows, magpies, and squirrels can be spotted and both hedgehogs and foxes live. In leafy parks, you may also see deer!
  • Discover ancient and unusual trees, which are the homes of squirrels and dormice.
  • Rockpools are the perfect environment for the skulking crab, white starfish, blooms of sea anemone, and shrimp.

When you think about it, you might not need to travel far to do wildlife watching. The right location maybe your garden or park! To get an idea check out the Wildlife Trust website. Whenever you go and wherever you are, if you see a wildlife sighting that you’d like to report, visit theNational Biodiversity Network (NBN) website to do so. Not sure what the species is? Visit the iSpot website where a community of people will help you identify what you’ve seen.

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Where can I go on a wildlife watching tour in the UK?

  • The Isle of Mull, West Scotland

Visit the magical Isle of Mull and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, located in Lochaber. Renowned as remote, the Isle of Mull is home to Otters, Hen Harriers, Red Deer, and White-tailed Eagles. Go on the Mull Nature Expedition which includes short walks, where you can learn about the habitats of the wildlife of Mull.large blue butterfly

  • Collard Hill, Somerset

To watch the flutter of the rarest species of butterfly in the UK, visit the National Trust Reserve at Collard Hill. Since disappearing from sight in the 1970s, you can now catch a glimpse of the Large Blue butterfly within quiet spots along the Glastonbury Tor. You can also book a birds and butterfly tour over two days, with a pub lunch and morning tea or coffee included during the warmer months.

  • Norfolk

In winter, go on a wildlife photography safari tour. Escape for three days to Norfolk’s biodiverse Coastline to look out for Barn and Tawny Owls by night and seal pups and pink-footed geese by day! Tuition and flash equipment can also be provided by professional, wildlife photographer David Tipling. The area has a lot of photographic potential and so do you! Visit beaches, David’s woodland hide, and Norfolk’s National Parks for some wildlife photography inspiration.

Wildlife Watching Hikes

Go for a wildlife watching hike by visiting one of the UK’s nature reserves. Seek out Britain’s best wildlife in meadows, wetlands, ancient woodlands, moorland, heathlands, around the coast, and mountains. With 224 nature reserves to choose from you should be able to find one not far from home.

The best places to go for a wildlife watching hike in the UK:

wildlife watching tour in Pembrokeshire

  • Pembrokeshire, Wales; where you can find the small island of Skomer. Skomer’s bay provides a shelter for puffins, seals, and bluebells when you visit between 1st April and 30th September.
  • The Bystock Nature Reserve, Devon; which is a patchwork of lily ponds, heaths, and open meadows. With the Jurassic Coast in the distance, you can greet the great spotted woodpecker and dragonflies.
  • Lindisfarne, Northumberland; where you can take in views of the North Sea. Much of it is mudflats and marshlands but this provides the perfect home for geese, ducks, and shorebirds.
  • Smardale Gill in The Peak District has a limestone landscape, which has been the home to sheep for centuries. Among its hamlets and villages, you can also spot red squirrels and wild birds such as aquatic denizens and nuthatches.
  • BEES Urban Nature Reserve Bradford, Yorkshire; has existed since 1990. An area with contrasts. On one hand, it’s historically associated with Britain’s industrial past. On the other, it’s a relaxing spot where you can observe dragonflies and damselflies.

If you choose to plan a hiking or trekking adventure in a group, be rest assured that Free Spirit will cover you for hikes between 3,001 and 4,000m, at an additional premium (activity pack 4). However, if that sounds a bit too challenging, you can always find shorter walks by visiting the Wildlife Trust website. for a route. Once you have decided where you want to spot wildlife, find yourself a wildlife retreat to rest in during your wild weekend away.

The top Wildlife retreats and cottages in the UK

wildlife watching retreat

  • Secluded Shepard’s Huts in Dorset. Sleep in a Shepherd’s hut near the Jurassic Coast. Surrounded by fruit trees within an area of outstanding natural beauty, you’re sure to wake to the sound of birdsong.
  • Woodlands retreats in Norfolk; for a fairy-tale hideaway opt for a treehouse or bell tent in Norfolk’s woodland. Although small, a boutique glamping site can offer you all the facilities you require, as well as the warmth ofa wood-burning stove or BBQ. At dusk, go wildlife watching from your treehouse!
  • Luxury self-catering holidays cottages in Devon;  if you prefer to take all your home comforts away with you. Watch the wildlife from your doorstep while staying in a charming cottage. Sit back and take in views of wooded glades, mighty moorlands, and rolling green pastures with fluffy sheep.
  • Lodges in Cumbria; for a tranquil backdrop in a remote location. Stop in at one of the Lake Districts’ beauty spots at a warm lake house or lodge. Full of traditional furnishings, it will be a nice welcome after a day searching for red squirrels, deer, and otters along the lakes.

Do remember that in the unlikely event that your accommodation provider suffers from financial failure before or after your departure, Free Spirit will cover you for End of Supplier Failure. This is one of the many features and benefits of taking out a Super Duper Policy! There are many benefits of wildlife watching too…

The Benefits of Wildlife Watching

We have a natural human desire to be close to wildlife. Wildlife watching also offers essential benefits for our well-being too.

deer at night

  • After spending time close to nature it has been reported that you can concentrate better (Attention Restoration Theory).
  • Watching wildlife in a natural environment can help you relax and recover from fatigue.
  • When we watch nature we remove ourselves from the socially constructed fast pace of life and are left in stillness to enjoy the natural world.
  • As we focus all our thoughts and actions upon our encounters with wildlife, it provokes a deep feeling of well-being, spiritual fulfilment, and psychological health benefits.

What should also be noted is that the long-term advantage of preserving wildlife is not just so we can watch. Through conservation projects, initiatives can be put in place to protect human health. The Conservation International Reports tell us that “more than 50% of modern medicines and more than 90% of traditional medicines come from wild plants and animals”. So we should spend some time watching and appreciating wildlife when we have the opportunity to do so.

We hope we’ve provided you with everything you need to know to get set and go wildlife watching! Don’t forget that if you need to cut your break short or cancel unexpectedly, Free Spirit UK Travel Insurance will provide you with cancellation and curtailment cover if needed.

 

 

Unique Holidays in Scotland for Free Spirits

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A holiday in Scotland can come in many forms including wildlife watching, tucking into traditional food and drink, or picking an adventurous activity for the whole family! Travelling solo? There are many secret escapes to discover, such as wilderness walks and trails. Take your pick! Follow canals, the Scottish coast, or walk among dramatic forests, lochs, and glens.

Either way, if you’re heading to Scotland for a few days, weeks, or even a month, you can explore stories about the myths and magic of Scottish folklore, within a backdrop of contrasting landscapes.

In this blog, we’re excited to share some of Scotland’s traditions, wildlife, and a range of top destinations, which can be found within one of the UK’s most unique places.

Top Holiday Destinations in Scotland

  • Edinburgh, Scotland’s historical capital city.
  • Fort William, famous for being the first town in the UK to light up its streets using hydroelectricity in 1896.
  • Inverness, the gateway to Scotland’s answer to ‘route 66’.
  • Loch Lomond, the largest (by surface area) of Scotland’s 30,000 freshwater lochs.
  • Loch Ness, the mysterious home of the legendary monster.
  • The West Coast of Scotland where you can find sandy shores.

Family Holidays in Scotland

Scottish Holidays by The Sea

beach holidays in scotland

If a holiday in Scotland at the beach hasn’t crossed your mind, you’ll be surprised at the number of locations you can visit. There are in fact 1000’s of miles of dramatic and beautiful coastline. Go east to find Fife’s Blue Flag beaches or head North West to watch white horses from the Atlantic, crash against rugged bays.

Along the Western Highland coastline, discover all the bays, coves, and islands among the Inner and Outer Hebrides, such as the Isle of Skye. Dumfries and Galloway in the south will also provide you with adventures along sandy beaches, some of which sit on the edge of ancients forests.

Volunteering Holidays in Scotland

A volunteering or working holiday in Scotland will provide you with the opportunity to learn something new, have fun and achieve something memorable. You’ll also be giving something back to a local community. Led by the National Trust for Scotland, choose from looking after and monitoring wildlife, such as breeding seabirds on a remote island, like St Hilda. Or, if you’re passionate about conservation work, take up an archaeological, cultural, or woodland project to look after Scotland’s landscape and ancient heritage.

Outdoor Activity Holidays in Scotland

If you’re with a group, there are many adventures to have in Scotland’s wilderness. In winter, catch up with friends in the Cairngorms during a ski holiday. In summer, learn to kayak with family in the West Highlands. For a family activity holiday, include mountain biking, canoeing, geocaching, and wildlife watching, while learning about Scotland’s myths and legends. Whichever activity you decide on, follow all safety guidelines and wear/use the safety equipment provided. Luckily Free Spirit Travel Insurance includes over 100 activities for free.

Scottish game

However, if that sounds like too much excitement, take the cameras and improve your photography skills by immersing yourself in a photography holiday. Simply drive around the Inner Hebrides with your camera. When it is time to rest and refuel there are plenty of fantastic hotels to choose from, some with opportunities to indulge in award-winning cuisine.

Try locally sourced seafood and venison, before finishing with Cranachan. This is a traditional Scottish dessert made from oats, cream, whisky, and raspberries.

Scottish Holidays in Winter for Couples

See the Northern Lights!

holidays in scotland to see the northern lightsTo see the magic of the skies, visit Scotland between December and February. The Orkney Isles is said to be one of the best places to watch the Northern Lights. However, when the sky is clear and dark, you may also catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in Shetland, on the Moray Coast, as well as The Isle of Skye.

The Isle of Skye is a great option because it has nine Dark Sky Discovery Sites. For instance, you could spend the day exploring Duntulm castle and Talisker Distillery before watching the Milky Way with a dram of whisky.

If you love astronomy you could book a dark sky holiday in Scotland to go stargazing and visit the Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries. While away, keep an eye on the Aurora Watch UK website. You may be lucky enough to be there when the aurora is active. Keep some binoculars to hand just in case.

Hiking and Walking Holidays in Scotland

In a previous walking holidays blog, we referred to The West Highland Way as a once in a lifetime experience. However, for a walking holiday that isn’t as challenging, hike along a section of the Great Glen Way, which runs from Fort William to Inverness. By following the Caledonian Canal and forest tracks you can rest at Loch Lochy with a picnic and look out for the famous, mythical monster at Lock Ness.

The Abriachan Eco Campsite Cafe is the highest inhabited croft in Scotland. Also, there’s a selection of great pubs and Inns to stay in along the Great Glen Way too. Where better to rest after a day’s walking, perhaps with a hot toddy in hand, next to a roaring fire.

Scottish Holidays for solo travellers

Holidays in Scotland for you and your dog

A Scottish dog walking holiday can be relished by walking across Scotland’s vivid landscapes. Take your pick! Try a low-level route around Loch en Eilein and stop for some landscape photography. Or find an established footpath, along the Scottish National Trail. For easy walking, follow the section through the Borders and along the canal towpaths.

walking holidays in scotland

For something more challenging, plan ahead for a trek down the Cape Wrath Trail – Scotland’s wild north. Remember that a Free Spirit’s Activity Pack 2 will cover hiking, mountain walking, or trekking up to 2,000m but you’ll need to complete it while in an organised group.

Scotland Golf Holidays

It shouldn’t be a surprise that there are over 550 golf courses in Scotland. Golf derived in Scotland from a game played along the eastern coast. After King James IV of Scotland became the first golfing monarch (1502), golf grew in popularity. Today, the best months to play golf in Scotland are April, May, and June. One of the oldest courses in the world is Musselburgh Links, in East Lothian.

Coupled with some time spent at the spa, after a round or two, a golf holiday can be one of the more healthy and relaxing choices of trip.

Horse riding holidays in Scotland

Escape into Scotland’s dramatic scenery on horseback, during a horse care or trail riding holiday. If you’re a beginner, spend a few days learning how to look after and groom a horse. You can also book a riding lesson. Then trot among the Glens in Crieff, Perthshire, or across the Red Point beaches on the Western Isles. For those more experienced, spend a week exploring the trails of Knoydart, West Highlands, or the Mull of  Kintyre. Here the terrain is diverse and a good level of fitness will be required.

horse riding holidays in scotland

If you book the elements of your holiday separately a Free Spirit Super Duper policy will cover you for end supplier failure if travel or accommodation provider suffers from financial failure.

How to get to Scotland

Like any holiday, it’s your choice when it comes to travelling there and back again.  If you live in northern England, you might be happy jumping in the car to begin a self-drive holiday in Scotland where can explore secret sights. Why not explore some off the beaten track locations! However, if you live further away, it might be easier to get there by booking a coach, train or travel by air.

When travelling from the south of the UK, make your way to London before booking a direct flight to one of Scotland’s major cities. A flight from London to Edinburgh will take between 60-90 minutes. You can also fly direct to Glasgow. To commence your holiday in the Scottish Highlands, take a flight to Inverness or Aberdeen. If you choose to fly, most destinations are served by Loganair.

steam train in Scotland

You can also travel to Scotland by train from London and Birmingham. For train fans, experience a holiday on the rail by checking out one of Scotland’s Great Scenic Rail Journeys.

Once you have decided how you are going to get there, consider what accommodation to rest in after your journey….

Scotland’s Unusual and Quirky Holiday Accommodation

Relax during your holiday in Scotland by staying in a log cabin, caravan, or self-catering cottage. However, here are some quirky accommodation ideas to get you excited!

  • Yurts

Get in touch with nature! Stay in a yurt amongst Scotland’s rolling hills and heather. You can find a yurt holiday along the coast, or around a farm. Either way, there’s no need for tent pegs – just effortless glamour.

log cabin

  • Holidays with log cabins

Do self-catering in a log cabin with spectacular views of a loch! Here you can hide from the hustle and bustle of life. If you like the idea of a luxury lodge with a log burner and BBQ, you have the opportunity to stay cosy all year round.

  • Shepard’s huts on the Isle of Skye

Enhance your adventure by staying in something unique. A stay in a Sky Shepherd Hut is complete with electric heating, blankets, and plug sockets. All mod cons will be provided as you drift off in the Isle of Skye’s rugged landscape. Enjoy peace and quiet and look out for wild donkeys!

If you’re looking for accommodation somewhere else that’s just as unusual read our unusual staycation ideas blog.

Travel Insurance for Holidays in Scotland

We hope we have inspired you to book a unique holiday in Scotland. Give yourself the freedom to plan, create and book your break the way you want to! There are many holiday packages to choose from. Just don’t forget Free Spirit Travel Insurance and all the benefits it can offer you.

 

How to Have a Healthy Heart

A healthy heart is important to maintain. It can help reduce blood pressure, boost your mood and prevent depression, as well as the risk of developing dementia.

If you can reduce the risks of developing life-threatening conditions such as these, you’ll enhance your overall heart health and well-being in the long term.

As its National Heart Month this (and every) February across the UK, we wanted to share the advice and knowledge we’ve learned about how to have and maintain a healthy heart.

We’ve included highlights from some of our healthy, wellness, and activities blogs, to inspire you to keep your heart strong and pumping this February and beyond.

Foods for a healthy heart

healthy heart food

What should we eat for a strong heart?

In a previous blog, we uncovered the world’s healthiest diet, as well as a handful of others that can provide you with different health benefits for your heart.

Which diets will improve my heart’s health?

  • Mediterranean diets can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • A Japanese diet is high in omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Plus, a typical Japanese diet contains plant-based foods such as soy, which contains phytoestrogens that can also lower the risk of heart disease.
  • The Nordic diet fosters weight loss which decreases the risk of heart attacks.
  • Following the Paleo Diet leads to lower cholesterol, which is good news for those with heart disease as well as diabetes. The Paleo diet can also improve your heart health while assisting weight loss.

Overall, you can enhance your health and wellbeing by buying fresh local produce. To have this all prepared for you, go for a break at a healthy eating retreat…

Wellness Retreats for a healthy heart

a diet for a healthy heart

There are many wellness retreats to choose from. Each has its own health benefits. However, to be on the road to a healthy heart, book into a health-conscious primal retreat. They aim to bring out our inner caveman (or women); by teaching us how to eat and move the way we were designed to, 1000’s years ago…

When you’re there, you’ll be fuelled with nutritious foods and take part in different exercises. It will give your fitness a boost and improve your relationship with food. You’ll also learn about the Paleo lifestyle (caveman diet), as mentioned previously. The lack of processed foods within the Paleo benefits you in the ways described above but you’ll also be left feeling full and satisfied too.

Foraging for foods from the forest and vegetarian meals are optional. However, yoga sessions and kickboxing workouts are encouraged in the forest. Workouts can include natural movements such as balancing, jumping, throwing, and lifting. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to reconnect with nature, while you learn how to move!

Moving more is a great way to have a healthy heart. It simply makes your heart stronger.

How do you make your heart stronger? Get it pumping!

Activities which are good for your heart

  • Walking

The health benefits of walking are free and easy. For instance, a brisk walk to the paper shop can help you build stamina and lose excess calories, from that biscuit you enjoyed earlier. If you’re not sure what a brisk walk is, aim for a pace that has you breathing a little more heavily, but not too much. If you walk briskly, for 150 minutes a week, you’ll be on the right track to reap all the benefits of walking. Some great tips for a rewarding walk: wear supportive shoes, take waterproofs and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.

activities for a healthy heart

  • Kayaking and canoeing

Immerse yourself in the waters of a lake, river, or stream and reduce your stress levels. While you take in nature all around you, you’ll improve your heart health, thanks to the variety of movements your body is making. Kayaking and canoeing are low impact activities, meaning there is a reduced risk of wear and tear on your joints and muscles. However, they are great aerobic and cardiovascular activities, as you navigate across the water and strengthen your arms, back, and legs – all while enjoying a bit of peace and tranquillity.

  • Yoga

Yoga might be known for improving your flexibility and balance. However, it’s also a way to strengthen your heart as you move through a variety of simple poses. You’ll increase circulation and blood flow to your heart by focusing upon different breathing exercises. You’ll calm your mind and let go of day-to-day stresses. In the long term, yoga can lower high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels, reducing the risks of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.

For further wellness activities to enhance your heart health at home, read our blog entitled: maintaining positive health and wellbeing at home.

Which exercise is best for a healthy heart?

Different exercises have different benefits for your heart. To strengthen your heart, go for a brisk walk or swim.

step up for a healthy heart

To get your heart beating faster, do an aerobic exercise, or “cardio”. These types of exercises involve repetitive contractions of larger muscle groups, which get your heart pumping. To keep things interesting, do a varied amount of cardio over the week, some examples would be running, cycling, or playing a round of golf.

What should be noted, is that no one exercise or sport is best for a healthy heart. Just keep moving and/or exercise regularly Once you start and make it part of your lifestyle it will become second nature.

What should you prevent to ensure a healthy heart?

  • Excessive drinking – consuming too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure and disease, stroke, or even cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart’s muscle.
  • Smoking can not only damage your heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke on its own can cause multiple conditions that affect the heart (CVD), by changing your blood chemistry.
  • Excessive eating can lead to excess weight gain, which can cause damage to your heart if you develop high blood pressure. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health and heart conditions such as heart failure.
  • High cholesterol, is something that should be reduced or prevented, to decrease your risk of developing a heart or circulatory condition. It’s best to do what you can to avoid this fatty material (otherwise known as atheroma), from building within the arteries. Instead, reduce it to allow blood to flow easily and the heart to become stronger.

Travel insurance for heart conditions

If you live with high blood pressure or another heart-related condition, having Free Spirit travel insurance can cover you when you travel. This means you’ll receive any emergency care you require, without having to worry about the cost.

Free Spirit offers travel insurance for the following heart conditions:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack/Myocardial Infarction
  • Arrhythmia/Irregular Heartbeat
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Blocked or Narrowed Arteries
  • Stroke
  • Valve disease
  • Aneurysm (aortic)
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Disease
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Vascular Disease

We have put together lots of top tips for travelling with heart conditions. Read our travel guide today.

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