Destination celebrations have become a big part of the UK travel market with more of us than ever heading abroad to celebrate everything from birthdays and anniversaries to hen and stag dos. If you’ve got a big event coming up in 2015, here are a few ideas to help pick your destination.
Amsterdam It’s been a list-topping destination for years, so if it’s not boken… It might be more expensive than some upcoming Eastern European options, but why scrimp on your last big bender as a single guy? We all know what’s there, so just about everyone should be able to find what they’re looking for. However, it’s also a city that has plenty of great restaurants, bars and cultural interests that’ll prove Facebook-friendly when posting your exploits for all (read wife-to-be) to see.
Riga If your upcoming nuptials have drained your stag-do budget with demands for flowers and Champagne, then Riga could be the answer. It’s one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, according to the Post Office Holiday Cost Barometer. It offers plenty of cheap accommodation, great value restaurants and lively bars… so job done.
Where could be better for that last hurrah before you commit to pipe, slippers and Corrie on catch-up? Yes, follow the likes of Wayne Rooney and head to the Balearics for an orgy of lager, bad dancing and kebabs… Just try to resist the ‘stag do’ tattoo.
Barcelona So, you want to come away from your stag weekend with more than alcohol poisoning and a guilty conscience? We’d suggest you book a seat for you and your chums on a flight to Barcelona. There’s plenty of cervezas on offer should you fall off the wagon of sophistication, but epic trips such as a match at the Nou Camp will help make memories you can actually remember.
Edinburgh There’s no need to fly over large expanses of water to have a good time – not when we’ve got the stag do capital of Europe within our borders. Pack your case, park your car with APH and take a flight of fancy to the city of bars, bars, and then some bars. Perfect for just about everyone.
Paris: While your intended might be having an pre-marriage wake for his soon-to-be departed single life and beer-monster nights on the town, you might well be looking to celebrate the romance of upcoming nuptials in fitting style… so where better to point the passport than on a trip to Paris… Culture, history, fine dining and sophisticated bars await.
Brussels: Head to Brussels for its abundance of cosy bars and chocolate…. this really is the city to bond with your girl pals as you contemplate your new life as a Mrs. Visit in summer and enjoy its bar terraces, flower market and restaurants, before rounding off with a trip to one of the city’s many open air concerts.
The Canaries Heading to the local bodyshop to have your bits sprayed orange is a slightly less than romantic notion, so why not kill two birds with one stone by heading off to the year-round sunshine of the Canaries? Have your hen bash and pick up a tan the natural way. It’s perfect for a short break and won’t be too heavy on the credit card, either.
Benidorm Looking to top up your tan and unleash that inner party girl for a final blast of single-life mayhem? Book the tix to Benidorm right now. Just a couple of hours from the UK, you’ll have miles of beaches and bars to choose from and a bikini climate to top up the tan and hide that pasty partied-out complexion as you stagger glide down the aisle.
Malta If you’re looking for something with a little more culture, then it’s time to punch Malta into Google. Swap the inflatable phallus for sipping cocktails and admiring the baroque-style architecture of the Grand Harbour of Valetta.You can even swim in the blue lagoon, where the movie Swept Away, starring Madonna, was filmed.
Must-have apps for hen or stag dos
Download these apps for when your stag or hen do gets a little messy: image credit
There’s a good chance your stag or hen do could get a little messy and being in a foreign country could make things positively chaotic. Make sure you download and distribute our must-have collection of apps to keep the ‘intended’ and his or her guests out of trouble…
Find My Friends (iPhone) and Locate My Friends (Android): Don't lose the pa-in-law-to-be
Find My Friends (iPhone) and Locate My Friends (Android): When the alcohol starts flowing, the friends start straying – so make sure your trip isn’t spent searching the gutters for mislaid and inebriated fathers-in-law with this easy-to-use tracking app. Simply download the app, send invitations to join and all your pals will be instantly traceable on a live map. Just remember to delete after use. iPhone Android
St John Ambulance First Aid App: Better safe than sorry
St John Ambulance First Aid App: There is the chance that one of your stags or hens could be injured in action, so make sure you know how to give emergency first aid. We’re sure the worst you’ll have to deal with is a hangover, but it’s a great app to pack just in case. Download for iPhone or Android devices here
Vyclone: Videos from all angles
Vyclone: A video app that allows several hens or stags to film an event on their smartphones before piecing the footage together to build one video of the celebration through many eyes. It’s the perfect app to ensure the main man or woman gets to relive the humiliation from multiple angles. Simply shoot the action and upload; Vyclone does the rest – creating one seamless video with everyone’s content mixed together. iPhone Android
Urbanspoon: Eats when you need them
Urbanspoon: You’re in a strange town and suffering from alcohol-induced hunger… simply whip out your smartphone and click on the Urbanspoon app. This will find nearby restaurants and give honest ratings from punters and critics, alike. Find anything from cheap eats to the finest food in town. iPhone Android
Uber: Taxis without the pain
Uber: Getting back to your hotel is never easy in a strange town – and even less so when there’s a good chance you’ve consumed several glasses of Crème de Menthe… Download Uber to your smartphone and you’ll be able to grab a taxi in more than 50 countries. No need to pre-book, just find a ride, check the price and order with the click of a button. You can then track the progress of your driver as he speeds to your rescue. You don’t need to carry cash, either, the fare will be taken directly from your account with a receipt emailed directly to you. iPhone Android
Find My Way Back: Don't get lost... ever
Find My Way Back: This app could prove invaluable for those about to head out on a stag or hen do in a strange city. Simply save the location of your hotel with the push of a button and it’ll lead you back later on when your sense of direction might be a little impaired. Follow the floating arrow as it returns you to base. You even can attach photographs taken using your device’s camera to a location in order to help you find your way back. Android
Getting the budget right for members of your party isn’t easy, so use this Post Office Travel Money tool to look around Europe for the city that’s right for you and your pals. Check the prices here
Here are a few selections covering various stages in your married life…
Starting out: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic If you’re just starting out on the long road of married life, then money might be a little tight as the mortgage bites – but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab your passports and head off together for a celebration to remember. Santo Domingo will bring an affordable and romantic bolthole where you’ll get plenty for your pound. Shop around and you’ll find a plethora of amazing all-inclusive deals. It’s your tropical utopia that’s perfect for an early anniversary.
Fun-loving lovers: Re-new your vows in Las Vegas Just because you’ve been hitched for a few years, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost that spark for fun – or each other… so why not celebrate both these points by heading to Vegas to party and renew your vows. Forget the ill-fitting morning suit and intricate dress by swapping the crusty vicar and congregation of great aunts for an Elvis impersonator to preside over proceedings. Head to the Viva Las Vegas Chapel and fall in love all over again.
Take the kids too: Paradise Island, Bahamas Can’t find a babysitter? Celebrate with the children by heading to Paradise Island. The name says it all and you won’t be disappointed with this tropical retreat of beach fun and once-in-a-lifetime experiences… Swim with dolphins, take a shark-spotting tour – or simply hit the golf course or spas.
Bucket list anniversary trip: Ice Hotel and Northern Lights As the years of married bliss increase, why not up the anniversary ante with a trip to the Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland and look to the skies for an astral celebration of your love performed by the Northern Lights. It might be a little chilly, but the romance of the venue and awe-inspiring natural light show will prove an intoxicating experience that’ll warm any heart.
Big ones: Eastern Oriental Express Celebrate a key anniversary in style with a trip on the Eastern Orient Express. Travelling from Singapore through Malaysia to journey’s end in Bangkok three nights later. Enjoy the ride from your own personal cabin – with en suite bathroom – along with fine dining in the restaurant car and on-board bar with resident pianist. Depart from Singapore, travel to Kuala Lumpur before alighting and taking a short crossing to Penang Island for a guided tour of George Town. Carrying on, you’ll head to Kanchanaburi for a tour of the River Kwai, before arriving at Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station.
Top 10 once-in-a-lifetime destinations
Make that anniversary one to remember by picking from this list.
Celebrating isn’t just about the destination; here we look at birthday treats you can give to yourself when heading off on your special trip.
Cabin upgrade: Airlines rarely give away free upgrades these days, but many offer an online bidding system where you can get great deals on upgrades. Here’s the info.
Bid for a posh seat
More then 20 airlines – including Etihad, KLM and Virgin Atlantic – auction upgrades to unsold premium seats on their websites. Typically, the auctions happen three days before the flight. Simply place your bid and wait to see if it’s successful. Get lucky and save hundreds.
Supercar hire: Forget the Citroen Berlingo, your birthday bash hire car needs to suit the occasion. Make it a trip to remember by hiring yourself a bona fide supercar. Companies such as Hertz offer the service across Europe, with anything from Ferraris to Bentleys up for grabs. Here are some options you might like to consider to help embellish your birthday trip…
McLaren MP4-12C Spyder
Porsche 991 Carrera S Cabriolet: From £720 per day Ferrari California: From £1,020 per day Bentley GT Cabriolet W12: From £1,250 per day McLaren MP4-12C Spyder: From £1,095 per day Porsche 911 Coupé or Convertible: From £340 per day Rolls Royce Ghost: From £1,095 per day
Hiring a private jet can be cheaper than scheduled flights: image credit
Take a private jet: Think that a private jet is out of reach? Not with an empty leg flight it’s not. These flights are heavily discounted to help soak-up some of the cost incurred when private jets return to base after dropping off their full fare-paying super-rich client. Deals such as a nine-seater private jet to Venice, costing your party just £361 per person compared with the £3,000+ full price fare. The ultimate birthday gift. Check out empty leg flights here
And don’t forget the little things that matter…
Meet and greet parking: What better way to start the festivities than sidestepping the transfer bus and treating yourself to arrive-and-fly air travel with your very own chauffeur meeting you at the terminal – allowing you to head to the check-in desks while your car is parked for you. It’s a great value way to start the trip in true VIP style. Get a meet and greet parking quote here
Airport lounge: Another VIP perk for your birthday treat, but one that comes at a seriously down-to-earth price. Leave the hordes fighting for a seat in the burger bar as you dine on your complementary meal in relaxed, spacious surroundings. Get your airport lounge quote here