How to pack your suitcase like a pro: 10 tips

We asked our Victoria, a seasoned traveller who’s had more holidays than most folks have had hot dinners, for her top tips on how to pack your suitcase. Here’s what she told us:

  1. Roll your clothes as they will crease much less than if folded – and who wants to do ironing while they’re on holiday?!
  2. Place any liquids such as shampoo and sun lotion in plastic bags and then tie them securely to avoid your clothes getting wet if they leak.
  3. Line the bottom of the suitcase with the largest and heaviest items such as towels, as smaller things can always be squashed in around the edges.
  4. Ensure any fragile items are placed right in the centre of the case for maximum protection.
  5. Weigh your suitcase before you leave for the airport: nobody wants to have to start unpacking to reduce the weight at the check-in desk! The overweight baggage charges can be extortionate too!
  6. Pack shoes in plastic bags to prevent clothes getting soiled…and ladies…do you really need soooo many pairs?
  7. Utilise as much space as possible, so pack socks inside shoes for example.
  8. Know the weather where you are going and don’t pack lots of bulky items such as jumpers and cardigans if you are not going to need them.
  9. Separate your dirty clothes from clean by packing them in plastic bags for the return journey and then you won’t necessarily need to wash clothes that you didn’t even wear…which leads us on to…
  10. Don’t pack more than you need! Plan your outfits for the duration of your stay – lay clothes out on the bed in piles to represent each day of the holiday and then see if you can maximise wear of any of the items by wearing them in different combinations.

City break: Beautiful Bruges in Belgium

The ever-popular city of Bruges is one of the top attractions in the West Flanders region of Belgium. Its prime location, its ease of access, and not to mention its long and rich history, have all helped to establish Bruges as one of the most visited destinations in the whole of Northern Europe.

Heritage
It is often said, but Bruges really is a city like no other: its picture postcard scenery and architecture will instantly transport visitors back to a bygone age of cobblestone streets, imposing monasteries, and horse-drawn coaches. Indeed: the city centre is a UNESCO world heritage site, with many of its most iconic buildings dating back to the early middle ages. For this reason, many people who holiday in Bruges for a short break will find enough to occupy themselves simply by taking in these fairytale surroundings: from the imposing Belfry of Bruges tower above the Markt market square, to the ring of labyrinthine canals, which thread between the historic buildings.

History
Much of Bruges’ appeal is its affinity with the past. For centuries it was a centre for commerce and trade and today, many of its historic industries are preserved, allowing tourists a chance to experience first-hand the master-crafted produce that built the city’s wealth: from hand-sewn lace, to the numerous chocolatiers and breweries. Since the 1960s, the city has repositioned itself as a tourist destination, and the number of restaurants and beer halls exemplify this. With all of these factors combined, a trip to Bruges is not always easy on the waistline!

Things to do
With all of this, it may seem as though Bruges is a living museum more than a contemporary city break destination. In many ways, this is true: an off-season visit can provide a very quiet holiday indeed. But any stay in Bruges will soon reveal a second city too: one that embraces, music, the arts, and modernity from within its centuries-old stone walls. Bruges is renowned for being a cultural hub, attracting performances and exhibits in great number throughout the year. The Blues in Bruges festival arrives in April, bringing live performances from the 10th – 14th, whilst the Budapest Festival Orchestra will be performing works by Dvorák from the 22nd – 24th of May.

For those who like their cultural experiences to include something a little different, the MOOOV Film Festival arrives on April 23rd, and will be exhibiting the weird and wonderful world of cinema until May 4th.

Now is a good time to visit
Spring is a great time to take in Bruges: the clement weather provides the optimum conditions for exploring the city by foot or by boat at a leisurely pace, and it is only just beginning to bustle with the excitement of visitors, before the hectic summer months.

The Canary Islands: which one will you choose?

If you’re planning a trip to the Canary Islands this spring, you’ll find plenty to see and do. Most people know about Tenerife, and we’ve written about it in a previous issue of the newsletter, so in this short guide we’ll be focusing on the other islands: Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.

The average highest temperatures are 22C (71F) in April and May, so it’s a good place for some early sun without the long flight needed to go beyond Europe.

Gran Canaria

Best known for its beaches, especially on the southern side of the island, Gran Canaria has more to offer than sand and surf. Wild animal shows at Palmitos Park include exotic birds of prey as well as dolphins. The island is also the perfect destination for mountain bikers, with trails for every level of ability.

Fuerteventura

Strong winds and warm water make Fuerteventura a popular destination for windsurfers and surfers; thousands arrive on the island each year, and there is a large, dedicated community of enthusiasts who live on the island year-round.

Lanzarote

Lanzarote’s striking volcanic landscape is well worth a look. A huge eruption in the 18th century covered around a quarter of the island with lava. Today, this lava field is Timanfaya National Park, which contains a free visitors’ centre as well as other attractions including a restaurant which uses the volcanic heat to roast meat.

La Gomera

La Gomera is the second smallest island, larger only than El Hierro. The historic capital of San Sebastian de la Gomera is the port Christopher Columbus sailed from in 1492; its historic buildings are close to fine black sand beaches. The forests of Garajonay National Park are stunning, although they sustained heavy damage from wildfires in 2012.

La Palma

La Palma’s main attraction is its scenic countryside, with numerous walking and hiking trails. The Ruta de los Volcanos features spectacular views from the volcanic craters, but is recommended for experienced hikers. The centre of the island is home to the Caldera de Taburiente, one of the world’s largest erosion craters. The capital, Santa Cruz, features beautiful old buildings and narrow cobblestone streets.

El Hierro

Smallest of the Canaries, El Hierro was considered the westernmost spot in the known world until the discovery of the Americas. Today, the island is primarily a nature reserve, with both land and sea species protected. This makes El Hierro the perfect spot for nature walking, horse riding or scuba diving.