Going abroad on holiday or for a gap year should be the opportunity to discover a new country, or many, and new cultures. Travelling is not just about being away from home and ending up doing the same thing, there is more to it. So how can you make the best of your travels or holidays?

Living with the Locals

The best way to discover what a country really is about is to spend time with its population. There are now many websites where you can rent rooms in people's houses and share their daily life. Not only this way to travel is more friendly, it is also cheaper.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work doesn't just apply to third world countries and there are many places you can spend time helping on different types of project during your holiday. From nature reserves in Central America to hospital building in Africa, you can donate your time and do something for a country and discover spots that are far away from the beaten paths.

Road Trip

Why stay in one place, or even two, when there is so much to discover in any country? You could see much more of it and meet many different people by moving from place to place. With a car, a camper van, or public transports, a road trip will give you a better idea of what a country really is. You can plan the trip or leave it to improvisation, whatever your taste._

Hike or Cycle

This one is for those who like to be outdoor and prefer active holidays. A cheap alternative to the road trip, hiking or cycling around a country is a unique way to take in the beauty of landscapes and cities. You will have access to another side of a country and if you double that with staying with locals, you'll have a memorable experience.

Work on a Cruise Ship

A good way to pay for your travel and get to many different places. Make sure that you will be allowed to get out of the boat during stops or this will be no more than just summer work without any benefits. With the right company, you could be paid to go to exotic places and discover other cultures.

Be an au pair

This one has many benefits: earning while getting free bed and bread, practicing another language, and sharing the life of locals. You will usually get a part of the day free as well as some evenings. If you want to work with children, being an au pair is a precious experience.
If you need ideas for places to go to, have a look here.
Out of all of the world’s tongues, French is one of the most popular to learn as a second language. Once the world’s undisputed ‘international language,’ French is still very widely understood, particularly in Europe and in Africa. But French is more than simply useful – it’s the language of dreams, the language of love, and one of the most beautiful languages there is.

Here are some handy tips for learning French, or for extending your existing knowledge.

Home learning

Many of the textbooks and grammar books used by professional teachers are freely available to buy online or from bookshops. With sufficient self-discipline and focus, there’s nothing to stop you from buying these and going through the exercises yourself. Remember that you will need to ‘go over’ many aspects of the language several times before they stick in your mind.

Use the internet

There are many different internet resources with downloadable French video and audio samples, which is a great way to practise the speaking and listening aspects of the language. The web also offers many grammar, reading, writing and vocabulary resources and exercises online, many of which are free to use!

Take a French language course

Of course, it’s much easier to learn a new language if you have an experienced teacher and enthusiastic fellow students to learn with. For this reason, many people choose to take a formal French language course as a central part of their learning. Many British language schools like UIC London (http://www.uiclondon.com) offer great courses in French. These schools are very helpful – if you get in contact, they can give you all the information you need on how to book a French course
Travel around France

If you want to learn French, you may well already love France. Make the most of this enthusiasm by taking any available opportunity to travel the country and practise speaking the language first-hand – don’t be shy!

Do a volunteer placement

If you want a real immersion experience, but don’t have the cash for a long holiday in France, a volunteer placement could be what you’re looking for. Many charities and organisations offer free accommodation to volunteers, and many even throw in French lessons! Even if you don’t have formal classes, you’ll pick up lots by listening and navigating shops and buses.

Make French friends

Whether you’re travelling in France or staying at home, you should take every opportunity to make friends with French people. If you’re a complete beginner, you can get them to teach you some key words and idioms, while intermediate level learners can try having a whole conversation in French!

Learning a new language as an adult is a major endeavour, and it’s important to plan your learning carefully. For best results, you should spend at least an hour a day doing French exercises, speaking in French, watching French TV or reading French books.

Good luck!

Poll: Why do you want to learn French?
A             I like the way it sounds
B              I want to live/ work in France
C              I want to live/ work in a French-speaking country
D             I think that it’s romantic
E              I want to read French literature and watch French films

Resource Box
BBC Languages
Free resource offering exercises and explanations on speaking, reading and writing French

‘Teach Yourself Complete French’

Description and purchase link for a very well-regarded French course textbook for at-home use


A course of videos for practising French listening skills

Cooking for a date can present you with big dilemmas: you want the food to be impressive, or charming, but you don’t want to be too preoccupied with the details, as it’s your date you really want to get to know. Here are six of the best suggestions. 
Cooking for a date can be challenging, especially if it’s someone you don’t know well, but want to get to know better. It’s treacherous territory. You need to demonstrate just the right levels of good judgement and sensitivity in your food choices, and you don’t want any culinary disasters to put a damper on the date. But the right choices can be the way to a date’s heart.

1. Beef bourguignon

You’d better check first whether your date is a veggie or a vegan. If so, this option is very definitely off the menu or they’ll be out the door in no time. Nevertheless, once you’ve established that your date is a red-blooded carnivore, this is a great choice for a meal to cook on a date.

Apart from being a delicious, rich, and elegant dish, it can be prepared well in advance and served with some simple potatoes and steamed veg, so there’s no last minute flapping around. Best served with candlelight.
2. Caesar salad

It’s unlikely that you’d be cooking for a first date, but you never know.  If you were, this would be a great first date option: light, crisp, interesting and without too many assumptions or pretentions – perfect for a lunchtime date. Don’t forget to use the original recipe – without the anchovies, as they are not to everyone’s taste.  

3. Pizza

Definitely not shop-bought or takeaway. A pizza fit for a date should be homemade and fresh. Make the dough and some side dishes in advance (maybe go easy on the garlic bread). And choose your toppings together – you could learn a lot about each other that way. 
4. Pasta

It’s funny how Italian food can be perfect for any occasion. Everyday pasta al something-or-other can be scrubbed up and dressed up for a romantic date. It’s all in the sauce. Choose something creamy and smooth that lingers on the palate, and a wine to go with it. And you’ll be sharing a sunset together in no time. 

5. Marshmallows

Sometimes it’s more about location than food. What could be easier than marshmallows toasted by the fire for a date to remember? The question is: are we talking log cabin or campfire? And how hot could it get?
6. Strawberries and cream

One for real fresh, seasonal romantics. For an alternative date idea, try picking your own – together.

If you’re still looking to find that special somebody to share a romantic meal with, online dating sites such as www.jazzedfreedating.co.uk are a great way to meet new, like-minded people. 
Resource box
Food and recipes
Recommended recipes, tried and tested

Marie Claire
Modern dating advice from people who do it
You might not want to date her, but she can cook
Everyone deserves a holiday, but when money is tight it can be stressful trying to organise it. There are plenty of ways to make vacationing abroad more affordable. Here are six of the best ways to save money on your holiday:

Plan in advance

If you want to get the best deals, booking early is crucial. Planes have a certain amount of seats that will be sold for the lowest price on a first come, first served basis, and the same often applies for hotel rooms.

You can also save up to 60% on airport parking if you pre-book, and arranging your airport transfers before you arrive at your destination often works out a lot cheaper than hopping in a taxi.

Use comparison services

Make sure you shop around for deals before booking anything. Comparison services are a great, easy way to find the cheapest options. You can search for deals on flights, accommodation, tourist passes and travel insurance.

Travel insurance is essential for any holiday, but it is important to get the policy that is relevant for you, as it is worthless if it does not cover the activities you will be doing, so make sure you enter the correct search criteria.

Try a home swap

Accommodation is often the most expensive part of a holiday, so why not arrange to swap homes with another family and get your accommodation completely free? Agencies such as Love Home Swap have internet sites and member catalogues that allow you to find a swap that suits your needs.

If you’re thinking about swapping homes on your next holiday, how about New York? People have registered their homes for swapping in destinations all over the world, so there is no need to be limited in your holiday destination.

Choose an all-inclusive package

Going for an all-inclusive holiday is another great way to cut costs. Travel agents often offer package deals that include all your meals, as well as flights and accommodation. This means you can get a clear idea of your budget before you leave.

Try different ways of traveling

Flying to your destination can be a very expensive option, especially when you factor in extra costs for luggage and other things. Lots of companies are now offering very cheap deals if you want to travel by bus, coach or train instead. Megabus, for example, offers seats for just £1 single to destinations in Europe if you book far enough in advance.

Get the best deal on your foreign currency

One way that people often end up paying more than they need to be is by not getting the best deal on their foreign currency. Commission free does not necessarily mean you get the best rate, so look carefully at how much you are getting for your sterling. Rates at the airport are some of the worst, so make time to shop around for a deal in your local high street.

They key to saving money on your holiday is to plan everything well in advance so that you can get the best deals for your money. By following these simple tips, you can have your dream holiday without worrying about paying an exorbitant bill.


Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of a stop-over also knows the dire situations when it comes to places to eat. Airport restaurants are usually overpriced and the food tastes bland or overcooked. You find yourself heading to Starbucks just because you can trust the quality and price. It might not be great but at least you know what you get.

Over the years I have done my research and I’m proud to announce the six best airport restaurants. Whenever you are at once of these airports you should pass Starbucks and head to the restaurant for good food at a reasonable price.

Piquillo at John F. Kennedy International

Here you will find the first ever tapas restaurant to be opened at an American airport. You will find Piquillo in the JetBlue terminal 5. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or an extensive dinner to pass the time, Piquillo is a great hang out.
Tian Xia Dumplings at Hong Kong International airport

Don’t expect the usual Chinese grub when you find this restaurant in terminal 2. The menu consists out of the best authentic Chinese dishes, prepared with fresh produce. 

Encounter at Los Angeles International Airport

The futuristic LAX airport is one of the most exciting airports you will ever encounter. The Theme Building will make you feel as if you’re in a Star Trek movie. Grab a bite at the Encounter restaurant for some typical Californian food.
Plane food at London Heathrow

This Gordon Ramsay’s first airport restaurant and it situated in busy terminal number 5. The view, the food and the atmosphere make this restaurant one to visit.

Bubbles at Amsterdam Schiphol

Feel at home in the eccentric bubbles lounge. The menu offers an eclectic mix of traditional Dutch snacks and fifteen different brands of champagne. Sink in to the lush lounge chairs and stare at the fish aquarium whilst you wait for your connecting flight.  

Salt Lick BBQ restaurant at Austin- Bergstrom International

Follow the smell of barbeque beef as soon as you enter the terminal building. The Salt Lick BBQ restaurants dishes up the best spareribs and T-bone steaks available in the State of Texas.