Have you heard of these new holiday essentials?

This month, we take a look at a few things to make your holiday easier which you might not have considered.

Charging your gadgets
So much of our life revolves around technology nowadays. We rely on our phones, tablets and laptops to find our way, for hotel bookings, contact information, to figure out where we want to visit and so much more, but it’s often difficult to keep your devices fully charged when you’re on the move.

Don’t forget to take plug adapters that are suited to the country you are visiting – don’t forget to check the electrical plug information for the country you are visiting). If you are visiting several countries, you can get a universal travel adapter which, via its various connectors, should work anywhere.

Battery packs can be very useful. Even if you’ve got a phone that doesn’t have a removable battery, such as an iPhone, you can plug your USB charging lead into the battery pack. This is particularly useful on a long flight, where you’re using your phone a lot for entertainment, and will need to charge it again before you get to your hotel.

Amazon sells a good selection of battery packs. The higher the mAh rating, the more charge the battery can hold. We’ve found that the Anker Power Bank Astro E1 5200mAhworks well, and can hold enough energy to charge an iPhone (or most other phones) twice. It only costs £12.99, and is very easy to use, so it’s well worth having. Don’t forget that you still need to take your phone charger cable, to use with the battery pack.

A battery pack is an extra piece of kit that needs to be carried around, which is why battery charging backpacks are becoming so popular. Yes, it’s a rucksack with a built-in battery!

With various options to suit any budget, there is a whole host of backpacks on the market that can charge multiple devices at the same time. You’ll normally have a backpack or bag with you while you’re on holiday, so it makes sense for your bag to double up as a portable charger.

Purified drinking water
Water can often be a problem when you’re travelling. It’s not just far flung countries that don’t have safe water to drink – often you’ll find that hotels or restaurants all over Europe don’t have water that’s safe to drink, and it can be hugely dangerous if you’re out walking and you don’t have enough water.

Taking a portable water filtration bottle with you on your travels is invaluable – no matter where you are, having a bottle with an inbuilt filtration system means that you’ll never be without the ability to have clean and safe drinking water.

Comfortable cushions
Adjustable seat cushions are an absolute lifesaver when you’re flying or sitting in vehicles for long periods of time. Memory foam cushions, electronically controlled cushions and inflatable cushions have been designed to make your life more comfortable; if you suffer from bad circulation or find that you ache when you’re in the same position for too long, then these cushions are for you.

The travel versions are designed to be compact and fold away easily, and give you the most comfortable travel you’ve ever experienced.

Sand-resistant beach mat
The new sand-resistant beach mat is an absolute essential when you’re going on a beach holiday. These mats are designed with filtration technology to filter out small particles through the mat, so you never have to worry about your beach mat being covered in sand again.

They’re available in a massive variety of colours and sizes so you can find one that you absolutely love and, while they’re not cheap, it’s lovely to be able to take a mat to the beach and comfortably sit or lie on it all day without having to brush endless amounts of sand off it.

We hope you enjoy our suggestions, and that they make your travelling life even more fun!

Brussels: Take the train for your next city break

If you want to avoid the hassle of flying, consider taking the Eurostar to Brussels for your next city break. It’s a place with a lot to offer, especially as we start to look towards booking Christmas holidays.

Transport 
We’re not exactly blessed with a wide range of efficient, high-speed rail in the UK so we really do need to take advantage of what we have!

The Eurostar will take you from St Pancras directly to Brussels in around two hours. A little slower than a plane, true – but also without the queues at security or baggage drop off, and Brussels South (the Eurostar terminal) is in the heart of the city.

Once in Brussels, the city boasts a modern, easy to use public transport network with an underground Metro, tram and bus networks providing extensive coverage across the city.

Christmas Markets
Christmas markets are huge all across Central Europe, but Brussels boasts one of the best! The Winter Wonders and Christmas Market attractions will be open from the 24th November until 31st December this year.

This is located in the Grand Place Grote Market, which is Brussels historical main market square, conveniently in the centre of the city. The market is home to over 200 vendors selling a range of wonderful Christmas-related wares such as clothing and unique, home made Christmas decorations.

There is plenty of food and drink too – everything from famous frites (french fries), waffles and oysters all washed down with local Belgian beers or thick, luxurious hot chocolate.

Culture and food
Brussels is home to over 80 major museums and art galleries. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is the premier art gallery, and there are major museums dedicated to the history of art, musical instruments, natural history and the Belgian armed forces.

Brussels is a beautiful city to look at, with a wide range of architectural styles on display. The centrepiece is very much the Grand Place (home of the Christmas market), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dominated by several beautiful buildings.

Belgian cuisine is a mixture of fine French and more hearty Flemish cuisines. Moules-frites (mussels and french-fries) is pretty much the national dish, as are waffles with chocolate sauce. If you enjoy beer and chocolate you could happily spend several days trying to sample all the local varieties of both, and not come close to experiencing everything that is on offer.

Brussels – What to Know 
The choice of hotels ranges from hostels and family owned B&Bs right up to 5-star multinationals.

Consider staying in the district of Anderlecht. It’s far enough from the city centre to be relatively peaceful with excellent transport links easily connecting it to the entire city.

Average daily temperatures in November are going to be a bit on the chilly side, at 6C (43F) so make sure to pack some robust winter clothes!

Escape the beach crowds on the Slovenian Riviera

Slovenia boasts a glorious coastline on the Adriatic Sea, with clear Italian influences present in the architecture, the food and the friendliness of the locals!

Although Slovenia’s coastline may be fairly short compared to neighbouring Italy and Croatia, these charming towns and resorts welcome just a fraction of the visitors who descend on some of these more traditional beach destinations.

Slovenia offers a more relaxing break for those not looking to do anything more challenging than to discover tasty food and chill out on some of Europe’s least touristy beaches. Temperatures in September average 19C (66F), with average highs of 24C (75F).

Portoroz: popular coastline
Portoroz is home to the most popular strip of coastline in Slovenia, and also boasts the country’s best sandy beach. This is the place to head to if you’re looking for swanky coastal resorts, and there is plenty of choice for those eager to indulge in fresh, Mediterranean dishes or a few drinks after dinner.

As the most popular beach town in the country, it can get fairly crowded, especially at weekends, as locals head to the coast to relax on the clean, sandy beach.

Piran for swimming and great views
A more sedate and tranquil option is the coastline by the town of Piran. Although the beach here is man-made rather than sandy, it is one of the best swimming spots in the country. From the beach you can also enjoy marvellous views of the historic town in the distance, where the influence of Italy on Slovenia’s rich heritage should be obvious.

From Piran you can pop over to Italy to explore Venice, which is just a three-hour journey by ferry. It’s a very easy trip so may be an option if you are looking to soak up some culture for a couple of days after all that time relaxing on the beach!

When you’re in Piran, make sure you do not miss the stunning view from the top of the city walls, where you can marvel at the peninsula the town sits upon jutting out into the sparkling blue sea. Of course, you’re bound to have worked up a thirst climbing the walls, so you’ll be delighted to hear that there is a wide selection of bars where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while watching a spectacular sunset.

Izola for romantic beaches and views
The picturesque fishing village of Izola is perhaps the most romantic of all Slovenia’s beaches. You can find the perfect spot to watch the sunset on the pebble beach by the lighthouse which towers above the village.

This is one of the best sunset views in the whole country, and is best enjoyed when accompanied by an ice cream or a glass of wine. The road into Izola offers plenty of excellent photo opportunities to get that postcard-worthy shot of the village seemingly perched in the Adriatic.

Strunjan Nature Park for secluded beaches
Slovenia’s most secluded beaches can be found in Strunjan Nature Park. The coastline here is protected, so you won’t find the large resorts that are present further along the coast. Instead, you’ll just be enjoying the stunning scenery.

Moon Bay Beach, also known as Mesecev Zaliv, is the most famous beach here. You can only get there on foot, but the walk is well worth the effort as you’ll make your way through thick forest with spectacular views of the soaring cliffs emerging from the crystal clear waters.

This is a very different beach to the one you can find in the centre of Strunjan town, which doesn’t begin to compare to this hidden gem just a short walk away.