How Your Business Startup Can Take Advantage Of The Holiday Spending Peak

The holidays are here, and your business startup needs to make the most of this selling opportunity. With holiday shopping expected to break $100 billion in online sales, according to a prediction by CMO, your business can take advantage of the holiday season by putting on its best face and generating additional revenue with these holiday promotional tips.

Find your special holiday niche

Start by taking a look at what your business startup offers that ties in with the holiday spirit, so you can maximize your sales with customers looking for that perfect holiday gift or treat. Think about the niche that your products and services serve and increase the hype with some added holiday cheer. Gear your products specifically as Christmas gifts and offer special services that can be gifted to friends and families. Customers will seize the opportunity for a new and creative gift idea that can bring that unexpected surprise come Christmas morning.

Engage with your customers

Now is the perfect time to divulge deeper into the relationship you have established with your customers. Engage with them in a fun way and help get them ready for the holidays by offering an interactive opportunity with your business startup. Maybe its picture with Santa, a customer appreciation party or just an offering of a holiday snack as they shop. The more you focus in on your client base and treat them special during the holiday time the more they will be apt to visit you after the long break.

Be merry and spread cheer on social media

Use the holidays as a time to show your business startup’s holiday cheer on social media. Be creative in your social media campaigns and include a holiday twist with each post that you make. Tie it into your products and services, and you have a holiday recipe for added shares, likes, and follows. This can increase your fan base and drive customers to your website in a flurry, allowing for more interaction with your offerings during the holiday season to help reach the ultimate in sales revenue.

Bring on the sales and giveaways

Customers love a deal, and they especially love one during the holiday season. With a large number of people to buy for on gift-giving lists, having the potential to save on a present can create some appreciation with your customers. Generate a buzz about your business startup by offering a generous sale or have a giveaway for a coveted product. This will drive traffic to your website as well as your brick and mortar location as your customers look to get in on the action.

Overhaul your website with a holiday motif

Remind your customers that the holidays are here and they need to get those last-minute purchases done by creating a website that has a festive look to it. With a simple design motif, you can evoke the holidays on your website and entice customers to buy gifts from your website even more.

Creating holiday packaging and promotions

Take the holidays to a new level by creating special packaging for your products that signifies the holidays are here. This will attract buyers and help them envision your offerings as the ideal holiday gift. Package multiple products together for a themed gift package or provide gift wrapping services to make it even easier for a customer to get their holiday to-do list done by buying from your business.

Make it easy to buy from your business startup

With the majority of transactions for the holidays happening online, you need to ensure your business startup is ready to handle the volume and the use of mobile devices. Ensure your website is optimized for the additional mobile device shopping you will see during the holidays and make sure it can handle the added load of transactions to occur through your website. Have plenty of inventory in stock as nothing disappoints a customer more than finding the perfect gift and then realizing it is out of stock. This can create a bad taste in the mouth of customers that want to make their Christmas shopping as easy as possible.

Don’t forget the kids

Many of your customers are parents that bring their kids in tow when they visit and shop with your business. Even if your business startup isn’t geared towards kids, you can create a special event that helps to entertain them during the holiday time. Provide goody bags to the kids or have a day that is dedicated just to children with activities designed around them. Parents will be thankful for the opportunity to shop at your business while their kids are entertained by your friendly staff of elves.

Appreciate the business you had all year-long

Make the holiday a time for appreciating the customers that have been loyal to your business by sending them a personalized holiday card. This will show your customers that their business matters and you couldn’t have gone through the year without it. By taking the time to send a holiday card that is handwritten, your customers will know that you put some thought and effort into the idea. Add a coupon or special discount savings to ensure these customers come visit you again after the holidays when business starts to slow.

Make time to give back

Your community is no doubt a big supporter of your business startup, and you need to do your part to give back. Use the holidays to donate to a local charity by holding a holiday fundraising event. Donate a portion of all sales made throughout the day or match your customers’ donations dollar for dollar. This is an ideal way to increase traffic to your business while also showing you are thankful to the community for their support all year-long.
Keeping these holiday promotional tips in mind, you can take advantage of the increase in purchases made this time of year. You will be able to show off your business’ holiday pride while enticing customers to buy your products and services as the perfect gift idea.

Coping With A Loved Ones’ Eating Disorder During the Holidays

Coping With A Loved Ones’ Eating Disorder During the Holidays

For most people, the holiday season is a wonderful time of year. It is often a time of family reunion, socializing, and celebration – a time when families, friends, and coworkers come together to share good will and good food. The season is meant to be bright, happy, and full of the best of relationships. Yet, for those who suffer with eating disorders, this is often the worst time of the year. For those who are trapped in the private hell of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, the Holidays often magnify their personal struggles, causing them great internal pain and turmoil.

At Center for Change, we have asked many patients over the years to share from their private experiences what the Holidays have been like during the years they suffered with an eating disorder. The women quoted in this article are of different ages, but all suffered with the illness for many years. As you read the following passages you will feel something of the agony of suffering with an eating disorder at this festive time of year.

“Unlike any other normal teenager, I always hated it when the holiday season would roll around. It meant that I would have to face my two worst enemies – food and people, and a lot of them. I always felt completely out of place and such a wicked child in such a happy environment. I was the only person who didn’t love food, people, and celebrations. Rather, holidays for me were a celebration of fear and isolation. I would lock myself in my room. Maybe no one else gained weight over the holidays, but just the smell of food added weight to my body. My anorexia destroyed any happiness or relationships I could possibly have had.” -Nineteen-year-old woman

“The holiday season is always the most difficult time of year in dealing with my eating disorder. Holidays, in my family, tend to center around food. The combination of dealing with the anxiety of being around family and the focus on food tends to be a huge trigger for me to easily fall into my eating disorder behaviors. I need to rely on outside support to best cope with the stresses of the holidays.” -Twenty-one-year-old woman

“Over the past few years, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season I have felt horrible. I felt trapped and like the food was out to get me. I lied on endless occasions to avoid all of the parties and big dinners that go along with the holidays. I felt horrible about my body and did not want anyone to see me eat for fear they would make judgments about me.” -Eighteen-year-old woman

These quotes from women suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating reveal the emotional intensity they feel during the holiday season. Their fear of gaining weight and becoming, in their minds, fat, gross, and disgusting, is the monster they must deal with every time they partake of any of the foods that are so wonderful and common to the holidays.

Starving for the Holidays – A Tale of Anorexia

Those struggling with anorexia are terrified of the holidays because they have no idea what a normal amount of food is for themselves. Most of them feel that anything they eat will mean instantaneous weight gain. In fact, some of them have said that just the sight or smell of food is terrifying to them because their fear of being fat or becoming fat is so ever-present in their minds. For some, just thinking about food is enough to create intense turmoil, pain, and guilt. Anorexia creates tremendous guilt about any kind of indulgence involving food. The eating of food becomes evidence, in their mind, that they are weak, out of control, and undisciplined. Anorexic men and women are often terrified of being seen eating food or of having people look at them while they eat. One client felt that every eye was on her at holiday gatherings. Many suffering with anorexia have shared their feelings of being immobilized by their fears about food.

“My life with an eating disorder during the holidays is a living hell – constant hiding and fear, confused about life and hating every moment being surrounded by food. There was so much pressure, so many stares and glances, and days with endless comments. My whole life was a mess. There was so much pain and guilt inside of me and I didn’t know where to turn, except to my eating disorder. I hated the pressure of eating the food, the constant worrying of offending others.” -Twenty-two-year-old woman

“It’s hard to be around all the food and festivities. When I’m hurting inside and struggling with what “normal” food portions even are, I need the help, emotional understanding, and support of family and other people. “Handle with care, but please handle.” Accept me the way I am. Let me back in the family” -Twenty-three-year-old woman

The importance of these quotes from clients in treatment for anorexia is found in their honest expression of the tremendous pressure and conflict they feel inside in response to the normal food and social activities of the season. Their internal suffering and pain are often hidden from those around them by their continual remarks about “being fat,” or may also be hidden in their patterns of avoidance and withdrawal from social involvements.

The Hidden Beast of Holiday Feasts – Tales of Bulimia and Binge Eating

On the other end of the eating disorder spectrum, a woman with severe bulimia or binge eating disorder finds the holidays are a genuine nightmare because there is so much emphasis on food that they become preoccupied with it. Binge eating and subsequent purges become even more prevalent because many of the foods and sweets that are associated with holiday celebrations are very enticing to them. The holidays can be a time of convenient indulgence, but also a time of great shame and self-reproach because of their secret life. Some even use the binge eating and/or purging as a form of self-punishment throughout the holidays.

Women who suffer with binge eating or bulimia often live out this painful eating disorder hell in private and in secret, and often feel great self contempt. To many of their family and friends things may look positive and normal even while the sufferer feels significant despair and negativity about their loss of self-control. Those whose family members know about their eating disorder carry this awful feeling that they are the main attraction at the holiday dinner, where every trip to the food or to the bathroom is seen as a major defeat and disappointment to their family.

“Christmas is the hardest time with my bulimia. So much food, so much love, and so much joy, but I could not feel the love or joy, so I indulged in the food as a replacement. It was hard to see everyone so happy before I made the trek to the bathroom. I felt unworthy to be happy. I didn’t deserve the love and joy. I’ve discovered that if I can focus on the love and joy, everything else falls into place” -Eighteen-year-old-woman

“The secrecy and lying make it very difficult for me during the holiday season. I have to decide whether to restrict my food or to binge and then sneak away to purge.” -Twenty-two-year-old-woman

Some of the painful consequences of binge eating and bulimia are found in the time, planning, and dishonesty that is required to protect and cover up their eating disorder during the holidays. They often feel hatred for themselves for the ongoing deception to family and friends to excuse or explain their behaviors. In addition, they live in constant fear of being “found out” by their significant others, or in fear of continually letting others down because of their inability to stop their compulsive behaviors.

Family and Friends – Turning Potential Triggers into Gifts of Support

Holiday ideals epitomize what is good about family and other personal relationships. Activities during this time of year can involve family members and friends in intense and often emotional ways. Unfortunately, those with eating disorders can find it terrifying to be emotionally close with other people. In such situations they may feel vulnerable and unsafe, and then revert to their eating disorder to restore a sense of control and self-protection.

Some family dynamics, such as conflict, can be triggering to those with eating disorder difficulties. Struggles with perfectionism, feelings of rejection, disapproval, and fear of being controlled, are all cited frequently by women who suffer with the illness. Harboring strong feelings and beliefs that parents, family members, or friends find them unacceptable, inadequate, or disappointing is challenging for anyone, but is particularly devastating to someone with a painful eating disorder. Being immersed in a family setting during the holidays has the potential to dredge up old issues, fears, conflicts, and worries about family relationships. The resulting emotional disruption can feed the eating disorder and exacerbate the problem.

“Having an eating disorder during the holidays presents quite a contradiction in my mind. I anticipate all the food and get excited, while at the same time I dread the many family members around. I feel that the family is over to “watch”. I know that they simply want to reach out and help, but I feel that a big help would be to make a concerted effort to shift the holiday focus from the food to the underlying purpose. I wish the food could be a minor deal, just an accessory to the holiday, rather than the focus.” -Twenty-year-old woman

“Holidays, with all the food and family commotion, are pure hell when you have an eating disorder. For me, when the focus isn’t on food and is on the real reason for the holiday, it’s a big help. My family helped me out with this one, but I had to do most of it internally. Remember, it’s just food, and we have more power than food.” -Thirty-nine-year-old woman

The following suggestions resulted from a survey question we asked patients in treatment: “What three suggestions do you have for family and friends who want to help the holiday season go a little better for a loved one suffering with an eating disorder?” The women offering these suggestions range in age from fourteen to forty-four, and their suggestions offer some valuable insight and understanding that could be helpful to you as a friend or a family member. Being compassionate about the struggles of the eating disorder illness can help make the Holidays less of a battle for those you love. The suggestions are:

– Do not make a big issue about what your loved one is eating. A little bit of encouragement is okay. 
– Do not focus too much on food, it may only fuel the eating disorder. 
– Ask her how she is doing and see if she needs any help. 
– Do not become angry about how the she feels, just do your best to support her. 
– Offer a lot of support and be aware of what may be creating anxiety and try and understand what she feels. Be understanding, kind, and supportive. 
– Spend quality time with your loved one. 
– Make sure that the primary focus of the holiday is not on the food but rather on the family and the valued time you will share together. 
– Allow for other activities that do not involve food, such as games, singing carols together, opening gifts, decorating, and spending time just talking together. 
– Allow her to make a dish that she would feel comfortable eating. 
– Before the Holiday itself, and before family gatherings, make agreements about how you can best help your loved one with food. Honor the agreements you make. 
– Do not give her loud and attention drawing praise when she does eat. 
– Do not talk about diets, weight loss, or weight gain. It causes great anxiety and may increase a felt need to engage in eating disorder behavior. 
– Do not stare. 
– Learn enough about the illness and the triggers to help your loved one develop skills as well as strategies to defy eating disorder thoughts and urges. 
– Know something about her struggles, triggers, and behaviors. Then, if you see those, you can approach her after a meal in private and suggest ways she might be helped in some of those behaviors and learn ways you can be helpful and supportive. 
– If you see her struggling, ask if she wants to talk, but ask this in private. 
– Focus on how she is feeling inside, what issues she is worrying about, what her fears are, what she needs, rather than just how much she is eating or not eating. 
– Try not to focus too much attention on the eating disordered behaviors. 
– Be patient and nurturing. 
– Treat her with love and respect no matter what is going on. 
– Let her know that she is loved. 
– Help her take her mind off of food by generating a conversation with her about general or important topics. 
– Don’t allow her to excessively isolate. 
– Be there for her emotionally and physically with hugs and messages of love.

There are several themes that are evident in these suggestions for loved ones and friends by those suffering with eating disorders. One of the most important is to keep the primary focus and interest on the family member or friend – the individual beyond her eating behaviors or eating disorder. Consider well these suggestions, they are actually heartfelt requests.

How Family and Friends Can Help During the Holidays

Family members and friends need to know ways to help a loved one suffering from an eating disorder during the holidays. In addition to those suggestions offered above, the following suggestions from clinical professionals may also be helpful:

– If your loved one is a child or adolescent in treatment, and/or if you are involved in Maudsley/Family Based Treatment, then continue with your regular outlined treatment plan through the Holidays. 
– If your loved ones is a child or adolescent with anorexia, then learn about the Maudsley/ Family Based Treatment approach. It is important to give this approach consideration. 
– If your loved one is an acute medical or self harm risk then arrange for intensive medical/psychiatric care immediately. 
– Get professional help for your loved one with those who have experience and expertise with eating disorder treatment. 
– It is important for everyone to be honest and up front with each other.

When going into a family or social event, especially if people are aware of the eating disorder problem, it is helpful that everyone talks honestly about what will help and what will not help during the event. Armed with this knowledge, family and friends can set up some structure around holiday activities that is agreeable to all parties involved. Give reassurance about your desire to “be supportive” of them without trying to control every problem. You can respond to their feedback about what may be helpful to them by making positive adjustments. It helps to express love, gratitude, respect, and acceptance for your loved one.

– It is important to emphasize the purpose for the celebration of the holiday and focus less on food or meals.

If the focus is on the holiday itself and its true meaning and purpose rather than on the food or eating disorder, it will be easier for your loved one to focus less on it herself. Emphasize time together, activities, and traditions that transcend meals and eating. Let food become a support to the holiday rather than its central focus.

– It is important for family and friends not to feel responsible and guilty for the eating disorder.

There is no need and there is no good time to feel guilty or at fault for your loved one’s eating disorder. The Holidays are especially not the time. Eating disorders are complex illnesses that are not caused by one person or one relationship. It is also important for the eating disordered person not to feel responsible for their family and friend’s emotional response to the eating disorder. One helpful agreement around the holiday season is, “We will spend time focusing on the need for nourishment as previously agreed upon, and primarily, we will spend time focusing on each other and the things that are available and that are meaningful in our family or social setting.” Let them know that you can look beyond the outward manifestations of the eating disorder because you are also concerned about the hurt, pain, fear, and guilt they are feeling inside. In acknowledging the pain inside, no one has to be at fault or to blame for the eating disorder, allowing positive family associations and caring to become the emphasis. There is no need to “walk on egg shells”, especially when everyone understands and acknowledges the underlying needs associated with the eating disorder. Compassion is a wonderful holiday gift for someone with an eating disorder.

– It can be helpful during the holiday season to break activities into smaller numbers of people, when possible.

It is easier and less overwhelming to deal with five people than fifty people. Invite your friends or family members to participate in smaller, quieter, and less chaotic social activities and events. Simple talking and sharing as a small circle of family members or friends can do much to increase the sense of belonging and safety for someone with an eating disorder.

– Encourage your family member or friend to gather extra support around themselves during the holidays.

Additional support can come from extended family, other friends, community, and even treatment team members. If you recognize the benefit of these additional support people during the holidays, you can encourage this extra involvement rather than be hurt and offended by it. Sometimes, a person with an eating disorder might not be ready yet to receive the full love and support family and friends offer, but support and love them anyway! You can send the message, “We’re here to support you and it’s okay if others support you as well. We want you to have all the help you need during this time.”

– It is important for family and friends to remove any unreasonable behavior expectations or pressures of performance.

Sometimes you want so much for things to be better that you do not realize how your disappointed hopes and expectations actually play out as triggers for the eating disorder. Letting go of these specific expectations in your own mind frees you up to respond to and enjoy whatever your loved one is capable of during the holidays. It would be more helpful to express a lot of warmth, love, kindness, and acceptance toward the person – “There is no pressure to prove anything to us during the holidays. We just want to focus on being together the best we can.” Eliminating specific, overt, or implicit expectations will be more beneficial than almost anything else you can do.

– It is important to offer care “giving” and not care “taking.” Being a self declared nurse, dietitian, therapist, or detective takes you out of your most important role – “loved one”

It is not your job to fix or solve the eating disorder. It is your job to encourage nourishment of the body and provide nourishment to the soul. Working too hard to stop the eating disorder behaviors during the holidays can fuel dishonesty and defensiveness which actually feeds the problem. You are not responsible to say or do everything right. Nothing you do or not do will take away your friend or family member’s own responsibility to overcome and recover from their eating disorder. She/he is the only one who can do that job, but you can care, empathize, encourage, and share the process with them. The good intent you express is often more helpful than what is actually said or done. If your friend or family member knows that your heart is on their side, then you become a source of comfort, support, and safety to them.

Conclusion

These general holiday suggestions by patients and professionals are not a complete list, but they do emphasize some positive approaches to help and support someone suffering with an eating disorder. The specific ideas, strategies, and agreements that can come out of your interactions with your loved one before and during the holidays will allow these ideas to be personalized and unique for each situation. Remember also, that the person struggling with the eating disorder has her own list of positive things that she can do to help her through the holiday season as well. We hope this article is helpful in better understanding the significant and difficult ordeal those who suffer from eating disorders will face at this season of the year. We hope this awareness and understanding will help us identify the best gifts of the holidays for those we love and care so much about at this time of year.

Top Holiday Destinations For British Holiday Makers

Top Holiday Destinations For British Holiday Makers

8 hours on a plane is a day wasted but nowhere 2 hours away is warm enough or far enough for me to really feel like I’m on holiday. So, where I ask myself is the best holiday destination from London and other parts of UK for us Brits?

The ideal flight time for me is 4-5 hours and looking on the world map, there are a host of warm, luxurious and relaxing destinations within that flying time. Shame, none of the travel companies like Best at Travel, Kuoni, Virgin Holidays, Letsgo2 or Holiday Hypermarket ever consider that. You end up searching these sites for hours with a highly confused state of mind. Having been through this, I decided to post a little research for those facing the same dilemma as me.

So, which are the best Holiday destinations for people flying from the UK?

This listing will help you find your next holiday.

First, where do us Brits go most on holiday? I went through some search records on Google and found the following:

Top Holiday Destinations (by number of travellers from UK every year)

1. Spain holidays Since Spain is the most popular holiday destination for us Brits with over a million searches a month, I’ve divided Spain into regions to fully calculate its popularity.

  1. Majorca holidays – Majorca or Mallorca is heaven. I’ve been there myself. With a vibrant nightlife and amazing scenic views and beaches, this largest of all Spanish island tops Spanish holiday charts with over 300,000 monthly searches for Majorca alone. If you’re looking for a party place or an opportunity to be in the quiet surrounded by nature, Majorca is your best bet.
  2. Tenerife holidays – Tenerife is the largest of the 7 canary Islands in the Atlantic ocean. Just off the coast of Morocco, Africa, this Spanish territory commands the status of one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world. As they say, the place where spring never ends, Tenerife is the highest point of Spain with its Mount Teide volcano. The temperature averages 20 degrees celcius throughout the year and is considered to be the best in the world by many. 320,000 searches online every month.
  3. Gran Canaria holidays – Also one of the seven canary islands, the Gran Canaria is the second largest and second most populated after Tenerife. Volcanic in nature, The Gran Canaria offers a unique natural experience, with fissure vents, different soil and vegetation. The Gran Canaria is famous for its family holidays and is full of well appointed resorts. 180,000 monthly searches.
  4. Ibiza holidays – Ibiza is a beautiful little Spanish island located in the Mediterranean sea that has become hugely popular as a holiday top spot in the last 35 years. What makes Ibiza special is the extended coast line of sandy beaches, a chilled out way of life and seclusion. As all Spanish holidays, Ibiza town will offer you a buzzing nightlife and for those looking for peace and quiet, there are plenty of resorts surrounded by nature and tranquility. 135,000 searches per month.
  5. Other notable Spanish holiday destinations – With a 100,000 British people searching for holiday packages in Benidorm, this is the 5th most popular Spanish holiday destination followed by Costa del Sol at 60,000 searches and Lanzarote (another beautiful canary island) with 55,000 searches. Recommended – Spain holidays

If you haven’t yet experienced a Spanish holiday, you haven’t yet been on your best holiday. Majorca alone gets 2.5 million British holiday makers a year and 2008 was a record high.

2. Cyprus holidays – Cyprus is the number 2 holiday destination for us Brits. On average, 400,000 of us search for Cyprus holidays online every month. Yes! Every Month! No wonder I’ve been to Cyprus twice myself. In Cyprus, most popular spots are Limassol and Paphos – Paphos is full of ancient sites as old as 4th century BC, lies in the southwest of Cyprus and is a world heritage site by UNESCO. Limassol is the capital of southern Cyprus and is a popular shopping destination.

3. Turkey holidays – With just under 400,000 searches on Google alone, Turkey is the third most visited holiday destination for British holiday makers. The ex-Ottoman empire with a taste of Asia within Europe, Turkey is a top holiday destination where you’ll find snow-capped mountains and sunny beaches at a few hours’ distance. Istanbul, the largest city is where we flock most to, to live the Sultan size life for a few relaxing days.

4. Greece holidays – Close on the heels of Turkey, Greece holidays are very popular amonst British people. With just under 400,000 searches online a month, we love Greece, especially the Island of Crete. Crete, as legend goes, was where the Greek God Zeus was born and is the present resting place of Greek Gods. The southern-most of all Greek islands, Crete is the meeting point of Africa, Asia and Europe. If you’re looking for a busy, choc-a-block resort holiday, Greece is the place for you, where not UK holiday makers, but tourists from all over the world flck in great numbers.

5. Egypt holidays – Enter Africa – Egypt is our 5th most visited holiday destination and top-most in Africa. With 320,000 searches every month, we Brits get-away to Egypt often during the winter. The gorgeous clear waters of river Nile, 5000%2B years of history, tourist attractions like the pyramids and cities like the Sharm El Sheikh (the city of Peace) surrounded by the Red sea and Mount Sinai are top reasons for Egypt being a top holiday destination. I’ve been to Egypt twice and I’m in love with that place. People are friendly and forthcoming.

6. America Holidays

  1. Las Vegas holidays – I would have imagined America to be much higher up in the list of our top holiday destinations, but the long plane journeys and shortage of natural beauty are two major reasons why most people visit the United States for its advancements, not untouched natural places. Las Vegas leads as one of USA’s top holiday destinations. The city most popular for its casinos, gambling and high lifestyle attracts us Brits in large numbers every year.
  2. New York city breaks -The world’s capital city as its popularly known is the centre of all action. The list of tourist attractions is longer than London’s and if you’re expecting to get away, beware, you’re getting back into the mad rush. New York is a great weekend or short stay holiday destination if haven’t seen the Statue of Liberty or Madison Square Gardens.
  3. Florida holidays – The sunshine state of the US – Fun doesn’t end any time of the year in Florida. With 3 of the world’s best amusement parks – Disneyland, Seaworld and Universal, Florida is also the world’s amusement capital. Great place for family holidays.

7. Italy holidays – With 240,000 searches a month, Italy comes at number 6. Italy is made of two islands – Sicily and Sardinia. The mainland region of Italy is where holiday makers go in search of Roman empire history, leaning tower of Pisa, the Colosseums and Rome. Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island. Sardinia or Sardegna is a top holiday destination, famous for its natural beauty and beaches.

8. Caribbean Holidays – Caribbean Islands stand out as holiday destinations for the Americans (because of the proximity and short flights), but Europeans are not far behind. At a combined 200,000 searches per month from UK, The Caribbean is a fast growing holiday destination amongst us. The Caribbean refers to the Caribbean sea, islands in that sea and nearby coastal areas. Top holiday destinations within the Caribbean are Antigua holidays, St Lucia holidays, Jamaica holidays, Cuba holidays and Barbados holidays. Lying between North and South America, the Caribbean is famous for its holidays – from Golfing to sky-diving, fine dining to clubbing, there’s nothing the Caribbean doesn’t offer. That, at a time when Britain is freezing! No wonder, with recent media coverage, Caribbean holidays are busier than ever before.

9. Malta holidays – Coming back to Europe, Malta is a gorgeous island with an English connection. After gaining independence from United Kingdom in 1964, Malta developed itself as a top holiday destination. With English spoken widely, British people face no language barriers and holidays are even more fun. This Mediterranean island country offers some unique features like fishing villages, and a combination of Byzantine, Arab, Phoenician and St John Knights’ culture, architecture and cuisine. 160,000 monthly searches.

10. Dubai holidays – The world’s highest man made structure, world’s first under water restaurant, world’s first palm housing, world’s longest shopping mall, world’s first indoor ski system and world’s highest tennis court are just the tip of the iceberg. Dubai – The city of the world’s firsts opened its doors to the new world and we all visited in large number. Today, Dubai is the top holiday destination in the Middle East. With 150,000 searching for Dubai holidays every month, Dubai stands out amongst the 7 Emirates in UAE. With desert, beaches and mountains to offer, sunny holidays don;t get much better.

11. Maldives holidays – The paradise islands, as the 1 thousand two hundred fascinating Maldives islands are affectionately called, offer crystal clear waters and desert sands in the middle of Indian ocean. With 80 self sufficient islands cum resorts, you’re never short of natural beauty, peace and tranquility. The top “get away from it all” holiday destination Maldives won’t disappoint you. 120,000 curious British holiday makers search Maldives holidays every month.

12. Goa holidays – Further East, Goa is an English holiday maker’s favourite Indian holiday destination. With Churches and Temples co-existing in this city they call “Tropical Paradise”, you’ll find miles of beautiful palm tree beaches and acres of windy paddy fields. Adding to its charm are old fortresses, wide roads and motor cycle hires. The Portuguese were defeated off Goa in 1961 by the Indian army and since then, Goa has grown into the most popular holiday destination within India. With an offshore casino, saturday markets by resident British people and a rock music culture, Goa will give you unforgettable memories. Or you might end up in Goa longer than you planned, like many others. 100,000 searches.

13. Thailand holidays – Further east from India, welcome to Thailand. Best time to visit is between June and October. The capital city of Thailand – Bangkok boats of some of the world’s top 5 star hotels and is famous for its hospitality. Visit Thailand for a crash course in culture diversity and hospitality.100,000 searches.

14. Australia holidays – Melbourne is 22 hours and 30 minutes away from London. You better not plan a weekend break to Australia. A gorgeous country that holiday makers love, Australia is number 20 in this list only for its distance from the UK. Australia has everything from coral beaches, skyscrapers, nightlife, peace and tranquility, great standards of life, extreme sports – you name it. A great place for a long holiday, I rate Australia as one of my top holiday destinations and a must visit. Make sure you take out at least a couple of weeks to enjoy Australia fully.

15. Mauritius holidays – They say the beauty of Mauritius is its people. With clear waters, white sandy beaches and year-round holiday making, Mauritius is Asia’s Spain. Tourists from India, China, Japan and other far east countries keep Mauritius abuzz the year round with traditional dances, customs and delicious seafood. Being close to mainland Africa, in the summer, Mauritius can be very hot and humid, and therefore the best time to visit is July to September (their winter). With British and French history, you won’t face many language problems in this Indian ocean holiday destination. 70,000 searches.

16. Bali – The tiny yet perfect Indonesian island of Bali is the center of all action and one of Indonesia’s top holiday destinations. Visit Bali for white sand beaches, awe-aspiring cliffs, nightlife and to submerge into the truly multicultural environment. 35,000 monthly searches for Bali holidays.

17. South Africa holidays – When you mention any part of Africa for holidays, wildlife plays an important role and South Africa is no different. South Africa is UK’s top holiday destination in Africa for the British colonial connection. Amongst others, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban offer the best natural views and beaches. 30,000 monthly searches.

18. Hong Kong holidays – A few years ago, Hong Kong was a British territory. Now a part of China, Hong Kong is the most happening place in the far east. This majorly Buddhist city is a remarkable example of success of Capitalism and offers towering hotels, world’s most modern luxuries and one of the most popular holiday destination within Hong Kong is Kowloon. For some peace, you can travel to the Sai Kung peninsula. 27,000 monthly searches.

Still not sure where to go? If you don’t mind where you go, and you’re more focused on the kind of holiday, you may end up saving substantial sums of money. My best bet while booking a holiday is calling one of my favourite agencies – Best at Travel or Directline Holidays and just chatting to an advisor regarding what’s cheap this season. I’ve always found Best at Travel and Directline saving me money.

Try looking for Cruises, Luxury Holidays, Spa holidays, Safaris or Honeymoons. This will help you check packages and make your decision-making easier.

How to Purchase a Home in Fisher Island – Some Easy Tips

Fisher Island is one of the most popular locations in Miami-Dade County to purchase quality residential real estate properties. Considering that most of the homes available in the area are expensive – due to the recreation and entertainment facilities found in the island; it is best to give it some planning to ensure that the residence you buy will not spark any later on.

For novice homebuyers who want to settle down in Fisher Island, then here are some tips that should help you purchase the best homes around.

Tip # 1: Type Of Property To Purchase

There are two types of homes you can purchase in Fisher Island – condos and estates. The limited land area forced real estate developers to maximize what space they have to put up quality residential units that will provide for the needs of modern homebuyers.

The most popular condos in Fisher Island are those found in Ocean Side. These luxury suites range from simple 2-bedroom flat to luxurious 5-bedroom varieties. The popularity of this location is due to the ocean side view that most will find romantic, relaxing, and invigorating – perfect for beach-side activities, like swimming, water sports, and the like.

The estate of Fisher Island is also sought after by homebuyers who want to live in a quiet neighborhood for a comfortable and convenient stay in the area. These homes are perfect for a relaxing vacation – the natural atmosphere and scenic nature parks, as well as the quiet sojourns on the beach are sure to appeal to your taste.

Tip # 2: Financial Planning

Another tip to successfully purchase your dream home in Fisher Island is to come up with a budget plan for it. The properties are very expensive; ranging $1 million to $15 million tops. Diving headlong into the project without knowing the financial details involved will only leave you in a pinch later on.

The first thing to consider is your current financial status. Do you have enough funds at your disposal to purchase one on your own? Or will dishing out that much money for a home acquisition project in Fisher Island Miami real estate will put in you in a financial hurdle afterwards? These should be kept in mind during the planning phase.

A sound advice in acquiring these expensive homes is to apply for a mortgage loan. Financial institutions in Miami can easily give you enough money to purchase an expensive home that you can pay in an installment basis – with interest, of course.

You also have the liberty to pick out mortgage types with low interest rates and extended payment terms. It is advisable to apply for a mortgage loan a few months before your acquisition to give you time to fix your credit score to get the best deals in the market.

Tips For a Last Minute Spring Vacation to Walt Disney World

Tips For a Last Minute Spring Vacation to Walt Disney World

Do you have last minute plans to travel to the most magical place on Earth for spring break this year? Though huge crowds are to be expected, don’t let that dissuade you from adding this marvelous destination to your travel itinerary. From four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and 24 themed hotels to a bevy of dining, shopping, recreation and entertainment venues, it’s no wonder that the now-39-year-old mecca for Mickey Mouse fans is the largest and most visited recreational resort in the world. Read on for tips to help make your Walt Disney World vacation as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible.

1. Book fast!

With sizable crowds continually pouring into the theme parks over spring break, it’s no surprise many hotels will be at or near full capacity. But don’t despair! If you book now, you can still lock in good rates at some hotels set just minutes from Walt Disney World. Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, located just 1.5 miles from the front gate of Walt Disney World, couples the grandeur of a turn-of-the-century Florida mansion with the modern amenities and deluxe accommodations of a world-renowned luxury hotel. Among its many draws are a 4.5-acre, glass-domed atrium and 20,000-square-foot spa with a salon and fitness center. There’s also the Royal Plaza Hotel at Downtown Disney, where guests enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, four lighted tennis courts, preferred tee times at all 4 Walt Disney Resort golf courses, and complimentary transportation to all Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks.

2. Plan your day carefully.

Travelers who stay at select Walt Disney World resorts such at the Swan and Dolphin can enjoy Extra Magic Hours. Each day, one of the four Disney theme parks opens an hour early or stays open up to three hours after regular closing, thus allowing guests to enjoy select attractions a bit earlier or later than most theme-park goers. If your property is a non-Disney owned and operated hotel, you can take advantage of the free and ever-popular FASTPASS. All you have to do is insert your park pass into a nearby kiosk and you’ll receive a voucher for a certain time frame – usually an hour or two later – in which you can return, bypass the standby line and get on the ride with little to no wait. (Note: FASTPASS tickets are not given during Extra Magic Hours.)

Not only does this cut hours of waiting time but it buys you time to shop, grab a bite to eat, or even wait in line for a different ride. It’s also convenient for travelers with kids in tow who might otherwise grow restless from having to wait in line for extended periods of time. There are restrictions as to how many FASTPASS tickets you can have at once. Even tickets for popular rides like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain can run out in the afternoon, so you’ll want to snag them early.

3. Consider making lunch and dinner reservations.

After a busy day walking around one or more parks, you’re sure to work up an appetite. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding out that there is a two hour wait to be seated at the restaurant of your choice. Make priority seating reservations by calling 407-WDW-DINE; this will leave you more time to shop, take pictures and enjoy rides. Reservations are free and can be made up to 180 days in advance of your stay. Remember, several vending carts and quite bite locations are sprinkled throughout each park, making it easy to grab a snack while on the go. If you’re not taking snacks with you for the road, it’d be wise to stop by the grocery store to make a few purchases prior to setting off for Orlando.

4. Stay on top of the weather and dress accordingly.

As we all know, Florida weather can be quite erratic. Stay abreast of weather conditions by checking the local forecast each morning and evening, whether via TV or newspaper. Not only will this dictate the best time of day to head for the theme parks, but it’ll help you in choosing weather-appropriate attire. You wouldn’t want to be caught wearing a sweater on a sweltering morning or without a rain poncho on an overcast afternoon.

5. Don’t miss fun Easter events.

Why spend your spring break at Walt Disney World and not join in on the Easter festivities? The Magic Kingdom will be hosting the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade on April 4, 2010. Two parades will be performed March 28-31, 2010 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Given the large crowds, prime locations for parade viewing will be grabbed quickly, so make sure to pick your spot an hour or more before parade time. If you plan to swing by Epcot with the little ones on Easter Sunday, you can have them take part in an Easter egg hunt (ages 3-9) in the Heritage Garden at the American Adventure. There will be an egg hunt every 30 minutes from 11:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Kids ages 6-12 can participate in an Easter egg relay at Future World West Garden, just outside Character Spot in Innoventions West. Relays will be held 40 minutes after the hour from 10:40 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. A Walt Disney World spring vacation doesn’t have to be hectic and stressful. With a little planning, you can beat the crowds and come away with a truly unforgettable experience. What are you waiting for? Mickey Mouse awaits!

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Entertainment Tips for the Family