UK – Insiders’ guide to independent holidays for teenagers

juillet 5, 2010

Foreign holidays

Laws and practicalities

The laws that apply to under-18s travelling without an adult vary from country to country, so look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. An FCO spokesman says: « Laws and customs can differ between countries, and specific detail in these laws can change, so we advise parents of young people travelling for the first time to check with the country’s embassy in the UK before booking.

For example, Spanish law defines under-18s as minors and subject to parental control or adult supervision. Any unaccompanied minors that come to the attention of the Spanish local authorities (because of, say, criminal incidents or admission to hospital) are deemed to be vulnerable under the law and face being taken into a minors’ centre for their protection until their situation is resolved and a parent or suitable guardian can be found. And under-18s travelling to Portugal must have travel authorisation from their parents or guardian, authenticated at the Portuguese embassy or consulate in the UK in advance. They may also be refused entry if they can’t prove they have someone in Portugal taking responsibility for them during their stay.

The UK Identity and Passport service says 15,000 Britons under 25 lost their passport on holiday last year, so keep an eye on it! Make two photocopies and give one to a mate. You also need travel insurance. The Association of British Insurers says there are policies specifically for under 18s, (try or You might be covered under your parents’ policy even if not travelling with them, though this may require you to be named on it, or that you travel for a maximum of 21 days.


« It’s up to the airline what its rule is on unaccompanied minors. There is no aviation legislation about this, and the minimum accepted ages vary, » says James Fremantle, spokesman for the Air Transport Users’ Council « Most airlines will accept those aged 15 and over, but have to supply a member of staff to accompany minors on and off the flight, and as the airline covers the cost, some low-cost airlines will not accept young passengers for that reason. Those that do, do not usually pass on a surcharge to the customer. »

Many airlines insist that parents accompany under-18s to check in and passport control. British Airways allows anyone over 12 to travel as an adult. Younger children must be accompanied by a person 16 or over, or register with the airline’s Skyflyer Solo service, at a cost of £35 per leg for short-haul, £50 for long-haul. Children aged 12-16 can also apply for the service if they want someone to accompany them through the airport. See for more information. Ryanair doesn’t carry unaccompanied minors under 16. Easyjet does not accept unaccompanied minors under 14; those aged 14-15 must be accompanied by someone 16 or over.

Independent travelling

Whether you choose one city to explore, or an area of a country, travelling independently is a surefire route to maturity and adventure.

Patrick Kingsley, Guardian student journalist of the year 2009, said: « When I was 16, a friend and I spent a week running round Istanbul, and the next summer another chum and I spent a month hiking and taking buses from Krakow, Poland, to Lviv in Ukraine.

« Both trips were self-organised: I just booked flights and Googled ‘cheap hostels’, and bought maps to plan routes in advance. Some parents might balk at these trips, but we felt safe – mum and dad were only an (expensive) mobile call away. In fact, there were two occasions where we were stumbling around in a Polish forest late at night, utterly lost, and my father and brother were able to direct us over the phone towards civilisation using Google Maps. », which collates hostels all over the world, says there is a vast range that accept those over 16; probably your best bet as Teletext Holidays says many hotels won’t accept bookings from under-18s – or under-21s in America.

It’s easy to plan a route on public transport. « Rather than opting for a fortnight in the Costas, taking a trip by train to a few cities will give you a taste for adventure and introduce you to the joys of travelling slowly, » says Tom Hall of Lonely Planet. « My first overseas jaunt without parents was with my brother. We made our way overland to Rome. »

See for global rail routes and links to sites selling rail tickets; and for InterRail passes for discounts on European rail.

Long-haul adventure holidays

« We find that lots of young people want to travel before they embark on the pressures of A-levels, and this can be a good time to start experiencing all the world has to offer, » says Emma Mitchell of STA Travel (0871 230 0040. « Pre sixth-form people often opt for south-east Asia or Australia. Australia’s sunshine and English language mean it’s an appealing, safe option, whereas those wanting to push their boundaries love south-east Asia because culturally it’s so different. »

There are plenty of group tours available to people of pre-A-level age, which allow them freedom but with a safety net to fall back on. You travel with a mix of people aged from 16 into their 20s. The Oz Experience tour (+61 2 9213 1766) uses a « hop-on-hop-off » bus on different routes, where the drivers double up as tour guides who book hotels and teach people about local culture and wildlife. It costs from £306pp for 21 days, including accommodation. Flights to Sydney available to students start from £605 return. Flights to Perth start from £615.

A 30-day Indo-China Discovery tour with STA Travel costs from £1,319pp for a small group trip starting and ending in Bangkok, with potential add-ons including Fiji. Flights to Bangkok available to students cost from £379 return.

Language exchanges

« The best gap projects or long summer trips for 16-17-year-olds are through friends and familyoverseas, » says Tom Griffiths of « So seek out those long-lost relatives in Italy, Spain or wherever, or someone the same age who might be up for an exchange, as long as your parents are happy to host their child for a few weeks. »

You could start by finding a pen pal, perhaps at or Longer stints, including gap years, normally involve a family friend with a business overseas who can give the teenager a work experience/live-abroad placement. These are very good for workplace practice, language skills and your CV.

« After I finished my GCSEs, aged 16, » says Tom, « I spent the summer in France, staying with my mum’s French exchange student’s daughter. The plan was for me to become fluent in French to help me with my French A-level – which it did. I travelled down to Toulouse and all the way back to the UK by myself. It gave my parents nightmares, but it gave me an incredible life experience and the hunger for further travel. This type of activity is not only safe, but fun and beneficial – as after eight weeks speaking only French/German/Spanish, you’re almost guaranteed an A in speaking tests and you’ll probably go up a grade or two overall. »

Accompanying school, youth club or church summer trips overseas is another option: 16-17-year-olds act as « older assistants » for younger kids.

Package holidays

« With teenagers there is one overriding principle, and that is that a contract cannot be enforceable with a minor, » said a spokesperson from the Association of British Travel Agents. « So some companies insist on a party member being over 18 while others require parental permission. »

Thomas Cook lets 16- and 17-year-olds book some of its trips, depending on the brand. « In general, for parties that are under 18, written authority is required from a parent or legal guardian, who must sign the booking form in the presence of one of our sales consultants, » said a spokeswoman. « The consultant may ask the parent/guardian to produce a copy of their passport showing their name and signature to prove their identity. »

One of its most famous brands, Club 18-30 (0871 895 0066), actually accepts travellers from 17 (up to 35), though under-18s must get a parent or guardian to sign the booking form in the presence of a travel agent, and must book in a travel agent’s office, not online or by phone. Destinations are still the party favourites – Ibiza, Mallorca, Crete, but also Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach resort on the Black Sea, and Marmaris in Turkey. Prices can be ridiculously cheap: seven nights in a basic apartment in San Antonio, Ibiza, departing on 26 June costs £249pp, including flights.

Thomson and First Choice holidays, including their youth brands, Freestyle (for trips to Egypt, Mexico, Spain, Greece) and 2wenties (European party destinations), are stricter, and insist the lead member of the group is over 18, to be responsible for the rest of the group, who must all be 17 or over.

Lads Holiday (08445 889 998) sells trips from various operators to top European party resorts – Zante, Ayia Napa, Tenerife – and takes anyone over 16. Malia in Crete is its most popular summer destination, with July packages from £299 including flights. A week from 20 August at Magaluf’s Mallorca Rocks Hotel costs £339, including flights.

UK holidays


« Finding a campsite that will take groups of under-18s, and single-sex groups, is a real problem for young people, » says Casey Mead, spokeswoman for camping website, which has just added a list of those that do. Search under « student friendly » . You could always wildcamp too, legal in Scotland.

Several campsites in the UK cater specifically for young groups wanting to let their hair down. One of the most popular destinations is Cornwall, particularly Newquay. Group holiday specialist says the ones to head for are Trevelgue Holiday Park and Smugglers Haven, whose Exodus programme for 16-17-year-olds arranges under-18s club nights in conjunction with local youth services. It also lists hotels and self-catering accommodation that cater for young groups. However, Cornwall’s tourist board says the resorts’ popularity has caused problems with underage drinking, and it is trying to discourage under-18s from holidaying there unaccompanied. The Newquay police are cracking down on underage drinking this summer, patrolling trains, confiscating alcohol and informing underage drinkers’ parents if they are caught.

Youth hostelling

Before there were such things as 18-30 holidays, youth hostelling was what many a fresh-faced youngster did for their first parent-free break. YHA (01629 592700) accepts those aged 16 or over, and has hostels all over the UK. You could hike between a few; the Lake District or Scotland are good places for this.

Or why not learn some skills and meet people at the same time by booking one of the hill and mountain courses the YHA runs, such as peak walking for those aged 16 plus in the Peak District (£106 for two nights), National Navigation Award Scheme trips to qualify in map reading and compass use (£141 for two nights), or various summer camps (see overleaf).

UK festivals

Underage festival in Victoria Park, London
You can’t beat a summer festival with your mates for unlimited fun, but you need to find one that lets in under-18s – most of the big ones insist they are accompanied by an adult. The Wickerman festival (23-24 July, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, Goldie Lookin Chain, 808 State) takes unaccompanied under-16s. Lounge on the Farm ( 9-11 July, Merton Farm, Canterbury, Hercules and Love Affair, Tunng, Beardyman) gets a big teen crowd, with weekend tickets for 13-17-year-olds costing £75. Camp Bestival (30 July-1 August, Dorset, £77.50 for 11-17s) lets youngsters in and hosts special under-18s parties called Let’s Go Crazy, as well as this year’s acts, Calvin Harris, Chipmunk, Friendly Fires and more.

It’s only a one-day event, but the Underage festival in Tower Hamlets, east London on 1 August, tickets £29.50) is for 14-18-year-olds only and doesn’t let anyone older in. Acts this year include Lightspeed Champion, MIA, Ellie Goulding and New Young Pony Club.

Adventures at sea

Tall Ships Adventures (02392 832055) offers voyages on amazing boats aimed at 16-25-year-olds. Clyde MacFarlane, Guardian student travel writer of the year 2009, says: « When I was 16, I took part in a tall ship race across the Baltic, from Gdynia in Poland to Turku in Finland. It’s not exactly a holiday – you have to take it in turns to be on watch through the night. Learning a few basic knots on deck may sound easy, but putting them into practice when 45m up the mast is a very different story. » This year the race is in the North Sea, with seven-, 10- and 12-day legs between Belgium, Denmark and Norway, from late July to early August. Prices range from £699 to £899, including all accommodation, meals, safety equipment and instructions.

UK volunteering

A working holiday with the National Trust. Photograph: NTPL/John Millar
Even strict parents are bound to let you go on one of the UK’s many volunteering holidays. One of the best is National Trust Working Holidays (0844 800 3099), which accepts over-16s. « Groups are usually made up of a dozen volunteers, of varying ages, and they are sociable experiences », says Alison Dalby, press officer for the National Trust. Some of this year’s trips include a photographic survey holiday at Hardcastle Crags in the south Pennines (10-17 July, £125), running an outdoor play week for kids in August at Gibside landscaped gardens in the north-east (£105), and fencing, footpath clearing and beach cleaning at the Penrose estate in Cornwall (July, £105). For more volunteer holiday ideas in the UK, see

Summer camps

If you’re looking for something more structured, where you’re guaranteed to develop new skills and knowledge, and meet people the same age, a summer camp isn’t necessarily a dorky option. Many are lots of fun. For example – the YHA’s has 23 camps for ages 10-19 (with separate camps for different age ranges) offering four days of activities such as quad biking, paintballing, film making and street dancing, with prices from £79-299. You can also try a team leader camp, for 17- 19-year-olds, to develop leadership skills (whether you want to boss about young siblings or become a chief exec). Also check out for three-, four- or seven-day multi-activity camps; for acting, mime and dance camps in Northern Ireland; and for surfing, film making and learner-driver camps.

• This article was amended on 15 June 2010. The original stated the Underage Festival was being held in Hackney. This has now been corrected.

(Source :


USA – Travel suggestions for a safe and pleasant trip for seniors

mai 9, 2010

Here are some travel tips for the « young at heart » travelers. When you are choosing a travel agency, ask if they specialize in working with and helping senior citizens with their traveling needs. Traveling with a group is much safer and much more fun.

If you decide to take a group trip, it is very likely you will be able to obtain some fantastic discounts on flights as well as hotels. Then decide what type of luggage you will take along.Traveling light is easier now than ever before. When you are choosing your luggage, consider something that offers wheels. Be sure to get a note from your doctor if you will be carrying any medications in your luggage, and keep all prescription paperwork with you. Place your medications and any documentation in a clear zip top bag for inspection at airport security.

In addition,travelers insurance is also available.If you need to cancel your trip for any reason, the cost of your trip could be refunded to you. You might check with your own insurance company and see whether or not your medical expenses would be covered while you’re abroad. There are a few policies that do not provide this coverage, so check to make sure. Take some time to get to know the place you will be visiting– before you leave.

That way you will be prepared for the places and situations that you encounter, which is especially necessary for older travelers to have a safe and pleasant time. Here are some simple safety tips for senior tourists.

Take an additional seven days of medication beyond your expected return date. This is much easier than trying to find a way to fill your prescription in a foreign locale. Also, get a complete physical before you travel. Talk to your physician about the steps you should take in case the unexpected happens.

Even better, make a detailed list of your medications, doses, special health considerations and include information to reach your family and doctor. Have it on you at all times; in case of an emergency situation, make sure your travel companions know how to obtain it.

If you’re traveling to a different time zone, you’ll need to keep track of the proper time for taking medications. Also be careful that the local foods you eat are not going to interact unfavorably with those medications. Be sure to get all the immunizations you will need for diseases that may be common to the area you will be visiting. Many countries abroad may require you to be immunized weeks or months in advance. Make sure you keep yourself adequately hydrated, as the atmosphere within the plane tends to be dry. Sitting for long periods of time can leave you with stiff joints and a high level of fatigue. Avoid this by occasionally walking up and down the aisle, as well as frequent stretching.

When packing your suitcases, try to limit your items to only those you know you will actually need; this prevents you from having to carry more than necessary. Remember that unseasonably cool or warm weather can occur, and pack one or two items for that purpose. It’s tempting to pack light for a sunny destination, but remember a light jacket for cooler nights or air-conditioned hotels. Clothing that can be continually washed and worn is the best option.

You’ll want to ensure your walking shoes are comfortable, but don’t forget what your style says to others. Wearing some traveler items can actually make you stand out for local criminals looking to take advantage of tourists. Another common occurrence during travel is lost luggage. It takes an average of three days to get your suitcases back. Be sure to let other people know where you will be. A friend or relative not traveling with you should have a detailed itinerary including hotel information.

(Source :

FRANCE – Vacances : les bons plans de la saison

mai 9, 2010

Baisse de l’euro et du pouvoir d’achat oblige, à l’approche de l’été, il faut parfois réviser son budget vacances. Voici quelques pistes pour « profiter » de la crise et de l’été, sans se ruiner.

L’année dernière, de nombreux Français ont préféré passer leurs vacances dans l’Hexagone ; cette année, la baisse de l’euro devrait ramener les touristes américains et chinois notamment, en France. En fonction de la conjoncture économique, les flux de vacanciers évoluent chaque année. Zoom sur les bons plans de la saison.

Destinations à l’étranger : à qui profite la crise ?

L’année dernière, l’Islande a vu sa fréquentation touristique sensiblement augmenter. Européens et Américains, notamment, ont profité de la dévaluation de la couronne pour s’offrir un séjour en terre de feu et de glace. Cette année, la destination reste encore bien plus abordable qu’elle ne l’était il y a deux ans.

Alors que le pays traverse une crise économique sans précédent, faut-il partir en Grèce cet été ? Les Tours Operator enregistrent d’ores et déjà de nombreuses annulations sur cette destination, les touristes redoutant l’instabilité sociale et économique. Pourtant, les effets de l’augmentation de la TVA ne devraient pas se faire sentir cet été, les professionnels du tourisme (qui, le plus souvent, ne sont pas nationaux) préfèreront en effet réduire leur marge pour continuer à attirer les vacanciers, dans un pays qui en a plus que jamais besoin. Depuis quelques semaines, le prix des vols Paris-Athènes ont baissé de 20%. On trouve aujourd’hui des allers-retours à 175 euros et, pour juillet-août, à partir de 225 euros.

A éviter en revanche, les voyages hors de la zone euro. La baisse de la monnaie européenne par rapport au dollar ou au baht, conduit ceux qui avaient prévu un voyage aux Etats-Unis ou en Thaïlande à revoir leur budget à la baisse. Nul doute que certains se rabattront sur la destination préférée des Français : l’Espagne.
Profiter de la crise pour aider ceux qui en pâtissent

Quitte à rester au pays, pourquoi ne pas joindre l’utile à l’agréable en venant en aide à une corporation en pleine crise : les agriculteurs. Depuis quelques années, l’association Accueil Paysan regroupe des exploitants agricoles qui essaient de compléter leur revenu en accueillant les urbains dans une partie de leur ferme, transformée en gîte ou en auberge. Certains proposent des activités de découverte de leur métier et de la nature pour les petits citadins.

(Source :

FRANCE – Voyage d’affaires et développement durable : les patrons ne montrent pas l’exemple

avril 20, 2010

Pour la 5ème année consécutive, l’association professionnelle ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) et la société KDS, leader international des solutions de gestion des déplacements professionnels et des notes de frais en ligne, ont réalisé une enquête mondiale sur les tendances du voyage d’affaires, notamment l’évolution des mentalités et des comportements par rapport à ses enjeux environnementaux. Cette enquête en ligne, réalisée entre décembre 2009 et janvier 2010, a recueilli les opinions de 317 voyageurs d’affaires, directeur voyages et responsables achats en entreprise.

Sans surprise, la réduction des coûts arrive en tête des priorités du voyage d’affaires dans les entreprises, mais contre toute attente, la crise ne semble pas avoir remis en cause leurs initiatives en matière de Responsabilité Sociale (RSE) et leurs programmes Développement Durable. La majorité des personnes interrogées (57%) dément l’idée que leur entreprise attache moins d’importance à la RSE à cause de la crise financière. Toujours par rapport à une majorité des sondés (46%), l’engagement en faveur de la préservation de l’environnement est toujours un sujet de préoccupation important pour les entreprises. Cependant, la plupart (45%) confessent que leurs dirigeants montrent le mauvais exemple en matière de voyage durable lors de leurs propres déplacements professionnels. Les opinions les plus négatives viennent surtout de la France et des Etats-Unis : 44% des personnes interrogées en France disent que leurs responsables donnent le mauvais exemple (le bon exemple : 36%) ; les dirigeants des Etats-Unis ne sont pas non plus épargnés par 44% des répondants (soutenus par 39%). Le Royaume-Uni possède les dirigeants les plus exemplaires, leurs choix de voyages et modes de déplacement sont approuvés par 51% des personnes interrogées dans ce pays (même s’ils restent critiqués par 41%).

D’autres résultats ressortent de cette enquête :

– La majorité des sondés (61%) ont vu leur employeur réduire le nombre de voyages d’affaires en 2009.

– De la frustration par rapport aux espoirs d’une reprise économique rapide, pratiquement les trois-quarts s’attendent à voyager autant cette année, voire même moins (51% : nombre de voyages à peu près identique ; 21% : moins de voyages). Ceci est en parti compensé par les 27% qui s’attendent à voyager plus.

– Environ 19% déclarent que la réduction du nombre de voyages d’affaires dans leur organisation visait non seulement à réduire les coûts mais aussi à atteindre leurs objectifs en matière de développement durable.

– De plus en plus de services voyage sont chargés de fournir des rapports sur les émissions de carbone générées par les déplacements professionnels à leur Direction. Même si ce n’est toujours pas le cas pour 55% des répondants, contre 61% l’année dernière.

– Les sondés ont été interrogés sur les facteurs de motivation qui pourraient les aider à voyager de façon plus écologique. La plupart voudraient avoir plus d’informations concernant les émissions de carbone produites par un déplacement avant d’effectuer une réservation – 66% disent que c’est une possibilité qu’ils aimeraient avoir. A peu près 59% des personnes consultées déclarent vouloir des consignes plus claires sur la politique voyage de leur entreprise en matière de développement durable.

(Source :

USA – Injured? Sick? Volcano? The ABCs of trip insurance

avril 20, 2010

The cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland that has shut down airports all over Europe is just the latest event to disrupt travel.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters, along with political unrest and personal problems, ruin vacation and business travel plans all the time.

One way to hedge against such events is travel insurance. For a relatively small fee — typically 4 to 8 percent of the cost of the trip — you can buy protection for your trip.

Typical policies cover costs for delays, like extra hotel stays or the price involved in changing plans; the nonrefundable costs for interrupted or canceled trips; lost or stolen luggage; medical emergencies and even medical evacuation. Older travelers and those who take more expensive vacations can expect to pay the higher prices.

But you can no longer get coverage for next week’s planned trip to Europe.

The travel insurance industry has designated the eruption of the volcano beneath an Icelandic glacier as a « known event, » explained Jill Rosenberg, manager of group and executive travel for AAA New York. That means you won’t be able to buy coverage for trips that may be canceled or otherwise impacted by the volcano.

« It’s sort of like buying homeowner’s insurance while your house is on fire, » said Jim Grace, president of, which sells policies from 24 companies online.

Similar rules apply to a hurricane once it has a name, said Carol Mueller, a spokeswoman for the insurer Travel Guard.

Mueller said about 75 percent of claims in the industry are related to canceling trips, usually because of illness for the traveler or a family member.

Here’s some tips for buying travel insurance :

_ Purchase your policy within seven to 14 days of booking your trip to get the most comprehensive coverage.

_ Ask questions to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need. Grace said about 90 percent of the companies that sell policies through his website are covering volcano-related cancellations.

_ Adventure travel and high-risk activities may require extra insurance on top of the standard policy.

_ Extra protection is available through policies with « cancel for any reason » riders, which are more expensive. Some of these policies may not reimburse the full cost of a trip, so make sure you know how much coverage you’re buying.

_ Theft or damage of personal property is usually covered, but there are typically price limits. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may provide backup for expensive items like electronics or jewelry, but check before you leave home.

_ Many booking websites offer travel insurance at the time you make a reservation, but you can also buy it separately through an aggregator like or directly from company sites. Prices vary, so it makes sense to shop around.

(Source : with AP)

INDIA – Europe’s ash clouds airfares from India

avril 20, 2010

Even as airlines cancelled all West-bound flights for the third consecutive day on Saturday because of the volcanic ash blinding European airspace, industry experts predicted tough days for passengers travelling to the UK, the US and other European countries. Tour operators said that the volcanic eruption had cast a pall over the holiday and business travel season.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA) estimates that airlines are losing $ 200 million a day on account of cancellations. Worst hit are flyers, stranded in various parts of the globe, waiting for airspace restrictions to be lifted.

Travel experts say that even when restrictions are lifted, passengers may have to pay through their noses to buy a ticket to the UK, US and much of Europe because of the backlog. « Most of the flights are either flying full or are packed to 90 percent capacity. When the European airspace is cleared, there will be a crowd of stranded passengers vying for the few available seats on flights, » said Rajesh Rateria, managing director, Cirrus Travels. « It will be a difficult situation for airlines to handle. »

Tour operators said currently most airlines are left with only business class seats to offer, as most flights are running booked. « In that situation, the question is whether a passenger will be able to get a seat for the rates he/she wanted even while the re-booking charges are waived off, » said Ajay Prakash, national general secretary, Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI). Even if fares don’t go up, passengers will be paying Rs 50,000 for a ticket to a European destination instead of Rs 35,000 as only business class seats are on offer.

Agency reports said the ash plume forced extension of no-fly restrictions over much of Europe on Saturday as Icelandic scientists warned that volcanic activity had increased. Continued volcanic activity could produce more plumes if the weather patterns stay the same. The air traffic agency Eurocontrol said about 16,000 of Europe’s usual 28,000 daily flights were cancelled on Friday twice as many as were cancelled a day earlier.

Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Nasim Zaidi told TOI that his tariff analysis unit was keeping a tab on the situation to ensure that airlines don’t charge « unprecedented fares. »

On Saturday, the French prime minister extended the closure of airspace in northern France until Monday morning. British and German airspace is closed until at least 0000GMT Sunday.

(Source :

CUBA – Découverte de l’île sur deux roues

mars 25, 2010

Le cliché est incontournable. Il suffit de lancer: «Je pars à Cuba» pour entendre répliquer: «Te reposer dans un tout-inclus?» Eh bien, non! Le crocodile des Antilles n’est pas que plages et hôtels de luxe bondés et il peut encore surprendre les voyageurs en quête de dépaysement. À commencer par des kilomètres de routes magnifiques à parcourir à vélo. Reportage dans le ventre de l’île à la découverte d’un Cuba méconnu.

Comment partir ?

Le plus simplement possible? En voyage organisé. Par exemple, un circuit de cinq jours à vélo, plus deux jours à La Havane, comprenant la location de la bicyclette, les repas et l’hébergement (en occupation double, souvent des hôtels-bungalows simples mais confortables). Un guide francophone assure le soutien touristique et technique, sachant aussi bien changer une crevaison que disserter sur la production du tabac ou l’influence de Che Guevara dans la région. De plus, un autocar suit en permanence les cyclistes pour permettre, en cas de fatigue ou de blessure, la poursuite du circuit à bord. Les groupes sont limités à 10 participants.

(Source :

FRANCE – Les astuces des grands voyageurs d’affaires

mars 25, 2010

Difficile d’enchainer les voyages d’affaires et assurer derrière des négociations portant sur des contrats pourtant essentiels. Lorsque la fatigue du voyage s’ajoute au stress professionnel, le voyageur d’affaires est soumis à rude épreuve.

Il existe pourtant quelques clés afin de mieux vivre ces déplacements professionnels. Des voyageurs sillonnant les quatre coins de France et du globe ont ainsi accepté de nous livrer leurs astuces personnelles pour mieux appréhender les imprévus et les contraintes logistiques inhérentes à de telles aventures.

Partir frais et dispo

Cela peut paraître évident : pour se prémunir contre la fatigue physique et mentale qui découle d’un voyage d’affaires, mieux vaut éviter de le commencer épuisé. Aurélien est auditeur au sein d’un grand cabinet d’audit et amené à faire de fréquents déplacements en avion entre Bordeaux et Paris. « Avec un embarquement aux alentours de 6 heures, la journée commence très tôt, confesse-t-il. La veille, j’essaie toujours de partir un peu plus tôt du travail que d’habitude afin de me ménager en vue de la dure journée qui m’attend. »

Il est par ailleurs important de préserver son cycle de sommeil dans la mesure du possible. Se coucher un peu plus tôt que d’habitude la veille du départ pourra y contribuer. Un voyage commencé avec un déficit de sommeil sera naturellement beaucoup plus difficile à supporter. Avant de partir, alimentez-vous et surtout pensez à boire plus d’eau que d’habitude.

Voyager le plus léger possible

Quoi de plus contraignant qu’une grosse valise que vous devez trainer tout le long du voyage avec vous ? Un voyage d’affaires n’implique pas nécessairement que vous ameniez toute votre vie avec vous. Au contraire, avec un peu de méthode vous vous apercevrez qu’il est facile de voyager léger. Jean-Louis Grangier, responsable technique pétrole, gaz et produits chimiques chez SGS, affirme ainsi qu’il « prend toujours le minimum en voyage. Même dans le cadre de longs déplacements je prends de quoi m’habiller pour seulement quelques jours, quitte à devoir aller au pressing. » Coordonner vos vêtements pourra aussi vous permettre d’alléger votre valise. Lorsque tout va avec tout, les bagages sont vite réduits.

Faites appel à la même logique pour à votre équipement électronique en utilisant par exemple une batterie universelle dotée d’une connectique électrique multi-usages.

Ne rien oublier avant le départ

Pensez à prendre sur vous les coordonnées de votre hôtel et surtout celles des personnes à rencontrer sur place afin d’éviter les mauvaises surprises. Vérifiez aussi que vous emportez tous les documents qui vous seront utiles (dossiers, plaquettes de présentation…) ainsi que vos papiers d’identité et vos moyens de paiements.

« Il faut avant tout être bien organisé, se faire une check-list mentale allant du passeport à la carte de crédit afin d’éviter tout mauvaise surprise », explique Roland Van Malderghem. Si vous comptez travailler dans l’avion et que vous doutez avoir des prises électriques à disposition, pensez à recharger votre ordinateur au préalable.

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USA – Hotels may add fees to boost revenues (and annoy customers)

mars 25, 2010

Tearing a page from the airlines’ playbook, hotels are expected to begin charging added fees to customers for such faxes, holding bags, early checkout or room service. The projection made at the Business Travel News/National Business Travel Association Strategic Travel Symposium in New York shows that hotels will follow airlines and start adding surcharges to raise revenue amid declining hotel prices. The only problem is, how do they expect to do this when an increasing number of guests want free amenities like WiFi, breakfast and parking?

Perhaps it’s because hoteliers are learning from the major airlines, where $7 for a pillow and $50 for a few inches of leg room in the main cabin has become the norm and key for raising cash in a recession.

Hotel fees, which amount to just over $1 billion, have been steadily climbing for the last decade, according to Bjorn Hanson, a professor of tourism and hospitality management. But each property has their own fee structure — so fees for a stay in one Marriott may not be the same for another.

Fees would also tacked onto the bill for those having business meetings or conventions — fees on audiovisual equipment, master folio charges and set-up and breakdown fees for meeting rooms.

It’s a curious development for an industry where its patrons are constantly looking for free amenities. As soon as the recession hit, airlines raised fares and hotels dropped rates. Hotels, even in places like Las Vegas, found they had to lure guests with lower rates to make up for the rising costs in air travel. And when customers are used to free amenities or bargain rates, adding surcharges isn’t likely to make them want to stay again.

While I’m sure the surcharges will be more prominent in higher-end hotels, which always had a higher fee structure, economy hotels and motels will probably be the least affected. Their clientele would never stand for paying $60 a night and then $5 for parking.

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QATAR – Culture et voyages d’affaires pour développer le tourisme

mars 7, 2010

Le gouvernement du Qatar va dépenser 17 milliards de dollars en 5 ans pour développer ses infrastructures touristiques dont de nouveaux hôtels de luxe et un centre de conférence international. L’émirat mise aussi sur la culture avec l’avènement prochain de son village culturel.

«Le Qatar compte actuellement 2000 chambres d’hôtels de luxe, mais  4000 chambres seront ajoutées d’ici la fin de l’année 2010. De nombreux hôtels vont voir le jour dans les prochains mois de marque Marriott, Shangri La, Rotana, Hilton, Pak Hyatt…Alors que l’émirat comptait plus 8495 chambres fin 2009, il devrait totaliser 15000 chambres en 2011.  Avec ces nouveaux hôtels, nous souhaitons attirer des voyageurs d’affaires, nous concentrer sur les voyages d’affaires, plutôt que sur le tourisme de masse » nous a confié Ahmed Abdullah M. Al-Nuami, le ministre du tourisme du Qatar à l’occasion de son passage à Paris.

C’est dans cette optique d’attirer plus de voyageurs d’affaires, que le Centre National de Conférences du Qatar va voir le jour d’ici la fin 2010, début 2011 (en photo ci-contre).

Ce centre de 40000 mètres carrés abritera un hall de conférence capable d’accueillir 4000 délégués et un amphithéâtre de 2300 sièges. Il totalisera 57 salles de réunions: de quoi organiser de nombreux événements d’entreprise.

«Le Qatar organise des salons réputés dans la région comme celui de la joaillerie qui a lieu chaque année en février ainsi que d’autres salons dans les domaines de la médecine, de l’immobilier. Nous organisons également de nombreuses conférences gouvernementales et devrions accueillir 4000 délégués en 2011 dans le cadre d’un congrès sur le gas naturel» nous assure Ahmed Abdullah M. Al-Nuami.

L’émirat a d’ailleurs été le siège le mois dernier du forum mondial Islam/Etats-Unis ou de la Convention internationale sur les espèces sauvages menacées d’extinction (Cites) ce mois.

Le Qatar mise sur la culture

Mais le Qatar vise aussi à développer son offre culturelle, le pays étant auparavant réputé pour son manque d’animations ce qui n’est plus le cas aujourd’hui.

«La durée moyenne de séjour des voyageurs est de une ou deux nuits. Nous souhaiterions augmenter cette durée» nous explique Ahmed Abdullah M. Al-Nuami.

Pour cela l’émirat mise sur la culture. Le musée  de l’art islamique, conçu par l’architecte I.M Pei (le créateur de la pyramide du Louvres ou de l’hôtel Four Seasons à New York) et inauguré en 2008 fait partie de cette stratégie (en photo en introduction).

Le village culturel (en hpto ci-contre) est un autre projet ambitieux dans le domaine de la culture.

Situé sur la côte est du Qatar, cette ville s’étendra sur 1000000 de mètres carrés et devrait ouvrir ses portes partiellement d’ici le mois d’avril.

«C’est un projet d’envergure qui s’étalera en plusieurs phases: la premières phase verra l’ajout d’un amphithéâtre à ciel ouvert, un opéra, des restaurants… La seconde partie du projet verra l’ajout d’hôtels, de galeries d’art, de boutiques de designers…» déclare Ahmed Abdullah M. Al-Nuami.

«Les constructions du sites respecteront les normes et les standards de construction traditionnels des émirats» ajoute Hamad Al Mohannadi, directeur du patrimoine au sein du ministère de la culture.

Ce site sera un lieu de rencontres et d’échange pour les artistes de l’émirat et où de nombreux shows seront organisés.

Par ailleurs de nombreux événements culturels devraient avoir lieu en 2010, Doha ayant été déclarée capitale de la culture arabe cette année.

Ces événements s’ajouteront aux festival créés ces dernières années et qui visent à renforcer l’image de Doha dans le domaine de la culture comme le festival de la fauconnerie (qui a lieu en février), celui du milieu marin qui a lieu en avril ou encore le festival du film.

A la question de savoir comment se positionne le Qatar par rapport à Abu Dhabi qui va installer une réplique du musée du Louvres et du musée Guggenheim, le ministre du tourisme estime «que c’est une bonne chose pour le développement du tourisme dans la région».

«N’oubliez pas qu’il y à peine plus de 100 ans il n’y avait pas de frontière entre les émirats, notre culture est commune» ajoute par ailleurs Hamad Al Mohannadi, responsable du patrimoine.

C’est d’ailleurs dans cette optique que les différents émirats bâtissent actuellement un réseau ferroviaire qui devrait être interconnecté d’ici 15 ans et qui permettra de relier facilement les différentes capitales de la région…

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