I love this travel video from new tour company The Heart of Russia. It takes stereotypes (thank you YouTube and vodka) and shows that, despite what you think you know, there’s a different side waiting to be explored. It certainly makes me want to go to Saratov and the Volga region, which doesn’t feature on most (any?) of the usual itineraries to Russia.

If you’re thinking about travel blogging in 2017, have you considered joining the Lonely Planet Pathfinders program.

I’m slightly conflicted about this, in the sense that I don’t think there are many instances when someone should write for someone else for free. (Free doesn’t pay the mortgage or pay off the credit card bills. Not paying someone literally says you think their work has no value).

But at least with Lonely Planet, after you have progressed up the ranks a bit there is a chance to start earning, and on the positive side, you are part of one of the world’s largest travel communities.

What do you think? Good or bad idea? Are any of you members already and how have you found the experience? And what are your favourite travel blogs?

Video and photo-centric sites like Instagram are becoming more and more important to planning travel, be it a weekend away or a round-the-world trip of a lifetime…just look at everyone on the bus in the morning glued to their iPhones. And with a smart phone it’s increasingly easy to shoot and edit your own professional’ish mini movies on the road to share on YouTube.

Here’s one I did in Morocco a while back, which I edited & added music to on the plane home. (OK, OK, I said professional’ish).

And then there are the truly proficient ones – they have a microphone and a budget and everything!

On Instagram Beautiful Destinations, as an example, has almost 8 million followers, and the brothers in charge Jeremy and Tom Jauncey have 477,000 and 94,000 followers respectively. And they are certainly making money from it, travelling the world and having a great time, so good on them.

What are your Instagram travel favourites?

Anyway, I think 2017 is going to be a year where travel gets a lot more…visual.

 

 

I had chance to look round the Trump International Hotel Washington DC recently, the same week that Donald Trump was elected to be the next president of the USA with two million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. It’s a funny old world.

I have a dilemma.

I am not a fan of Mr Trump’s policies. In fact I can’t quite understand how anyone could vote for a man who openly mocks the disabled, which – I’m just putting it out there – I think is disgusting.

But I have to say (and here’s the dilemma…) if you are visiting Washington DC, this actually is a really nice hotel and in a great position.

It’s housed in the former Post Office and its tower is the tallest building in Washington (if you say that the Washington Monument is a monument not a building – that is taller).

It’s luxurious, has very ornate bedrooms (263 of them), a Spa by Ivanka (update: his daughter will not be giving massages, nor will Melania), a great restaurant and a bar where you can order wine by the spoon. No I’d never heard of that either.

Anyway, if you are a fan of Mr Trump here are a few photos to tempt you and some more information via Expedia (<<< click on Expedia) or you can see what people have said via Tripadvisor (<<<click on Tripadvisor).

The exterior of the hotel, which used to be a post office

The atrium, where you can grab a drink at the bar and try and spot Mitt Romney.

trump-room

Room decor: too much is never enough, right?

Donald and family at the grand opening in October 2016. Or just add your own caption here…

 

It’s nearly the end of the year and suddenly you realise you have a few days holiday left over, which you can’t carry into 2017. For the Times recently I came up with a few ideas on where to use those few precious days of freedom… (click on each page to enlarge).

times-quick-breaks-nov-2016-jpegtimes-quick-breaks-nov-2016-2-jpeg