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  1. From road trips to happy kids: our current favourite inspiring destinations

    posted by Heather Thompson | 0 Comments

    From road trips to happy kids: our current favourite inspiring destinations

    Oct112012

    Thinking of taking a journey but don’t know where to go? Whether you’re looking for an epic adventure or a quick break, the options are practically endless. Lucky for you, we’ve picked out some of the best destinations around the world. Now all you have to do is figure out which you like the most!

    Shopping weekends: London, UK

    London, you say? After hearing about it all year? Actually, this is the ideal time to visit the English capital—the Olympics are over and it’s now off-season so the city’s not thronged with tourists. Best of all, the shops are abuzz with Christmas cheer and new-season designs.

    But where to go? With a practically infinite variety of shops on offer, it’s good to go with an idea of what can be found where.

    Oxford Street is in the heart of London and is a great place to get oriented. Here you can find Selfridges and the famously huge TopShop. Around the corner on Regent St is Hamleys; at seven floors it’s the largest toy store in the world—and no, you don’t need to be a child to lose several happy hours there. Men looking for some top fashion can find it in the legendary bespoke tailors of nearby Savile Row, the ‘golden mile of tailoring’.

    From here you can hop on the tube and head to the designers and boutiques of Covent Garden or marvel in awe of Harrods on Kensington High Street. Harrods is fascinating even if you can’t afford anything they sell, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when they go all-out on their window displays.

    Prefer hunting through markets? The three biggest—and best—in London are at Camden Lock (Sundays), Portobello Road (Saturdays) and the Spitalfields Market in trendy Shoreditch.

    YHA London Oxford Street is right in the centre of it all, set amongst the thriving nightlife of Soho and seconds from shopping. And with 24hr reception and security you can enjoy it all without worrying about your new purchases. They also offer free city maps, a shared kitchen, laundry facilities and spacious rooms with individual reading lights.

    More shopping: Find fresh designers and vintage treasures in Los Angeles | Explore the quadrilatero della moda in Milan



    Road trippin’: Sydney to Cairns, Australia

    Road trips are a classic way to a holiday and one of the best in the world is the 2,500km route between Sydney and Cairns. Running parallel to the coast, this gorgeous journey can take anywhere from two weeks to two months; most travellers recommend allowing about three weeks, not including time spent exploring Sydney or Cairns. Bring some great mix tapes and don’t rush it.

    Due to the ever-changing landscape of the region, you can find sand dunes, rainforests, surfing and, of course, the world’s largest reef. A couple of hours outside of Sydney you’ll find the Worimi Conservation Lands, a prime spot for sand boarding. We recommend spending at least a couple of days each in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfer’s Paradise, Brisbane, Fraser Island, Mackay and Mission Beach. Even if you’ve been on the road for weeks, don’t hurry the last leg to get to Cairns; the Atherton Tablelands are a beautiful and refreshing detour before the big city. Here you can visit the heritage town of Yungaburra and swim in lakes set in volcanic craters.

    Jolly Swagman offers a good variety of private rooms and dorms in the lovely, leafy suburb of Potts Point, just a couple blocks from King’s Cross in central Sydney. Crucially, they also have parking facilities, which can be pretty important while packing for your road trip. They also offer free breakfast, BBQs, a spacious kitchen and a friendly, chilled-out atmosphere.

    More road trips:Hit the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas | Trace the Garden Route in South Africa



    Family holidays: Orlando, FL, USA

    On family holidays it’s important to keep everyone entertained and happy—mum and dad included. Autumn and winter is a great time to head to Orlando as the rainy season is over and temperatures stay around the mild mid-20s. And with such a huge variety of theme parks in the city, you’re almost guaranteed to never hear the phrase ‘I’m bored’.

    Just how huge of a variety? Well, along with Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, there’s animals at SeaWorld, fun with learning at WonderWorks and the Orlando Science Centre and splashes galore at Wet’n’Wild Water Park. For those on a budget, free entertainment can be found at Downtown Disney and Lake Eola Park, which hosts a charming Fiesta in the Park each November. Kids will also love the novelty of being served by waitresses on roller skates at Sonic Drive-In, a classic American experience.

    Sunstyle Suites are a great choice for family accommodation on a budget. Located just 15 minutes’ drive from Universal Studios, there’s a supermarket nearby and each room features a kitchenette so you can make your own breakfast before heading out for the day. Rooms include big-screen TV, hair dryers, ironing facilities and toiletries.

    More family fun: Meet your favourite characters at Disneyland Paris | See The Making of Harry Potter in London



    Ski breaks: Innsbruck, Austria

    If you’ve been waiting since April to break out your skis, we’ve got the place for you. The charming Austrian town of Innsbruck is at the end of the Stubaital Valley, where skiing season is already open just 20 minutes’ picturesque drive from the city.

    Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck is winter sports heaven, with three resorts for night skiing, nine different parks, 90 cable cars and lifts, 300 kilometres of runs and a 7,710ft vertical drop. There are free shuttle buses running between all nine skiing areas and Innsbruck.

    Naturally, it’s very hard to run out of things to do around here. There’s bobsleighing, hiking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice climbing, indoor sports and our favourite—sitting by the fire with a good drink. Particularly fun is the night-time tobogganing—ever flown down a mountain in the moonlight?

    Doug's Mountain Getaway is a chalet-style hostel located at the base of a ski resort just outside Innsbruck. It features a mini-gym, games, bar, a sauna and a cosy common room with movies. Some of their spacious, comfortable rooms even have balconies overlooking the mountains and gondolas.


    More snow sports: Preview the next Winter Olympics in Russia | Visit the Snow Festival in Sapporo

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