The 10 ways you can add adventure into your holidays again

The joy of a new year is all there in that first, crucial three-letter word. New.

A fresh page of the calendar always feels like a cue to start again. To do things differently. To spread wings and look to intriguing horizons. It certainly feels that way in terms of travel – at the end of a week that has seen the axing of pre-departure tests for vaccinated passengers coming or returning to England. 

After a few difficult weeks, the planet seems to be reopening, bringing in a world of possibilities. It may be only a week or two old – but 2022 already feels like it will be a better year for holidays than 2021. But the question is, what sort of holidays? Luxury escapes? Far-flung explorations? Multi-generational family breaks? Beach-hotel indolence? All of the above? 

Whatever your taste in travel, now is the time to start thinking ahead and planning a getaway – either for the coming months, or later in the year. Of course, “new” can mean many things. Last week, we conducted a reader poll which showed that, for 66 per cent of you, visiting a country for the first time is your main new year’s travel resolution.

If that sounds like an excellent plan, this feature offers a few suggestions – as well as ideas on how to step away from some of the holiday habits we all lean on too much. 

Out with the old and in with the new, as the saying goes – whether that involves a grand odyssey of personal discovery, the easy pleasure of winter sun in Spain, or a money-no-object, ultra-extravagant holiday which blasts away the lingering shadows of the past two years.

The habit: You always travel Saturday to Saturday

This is an entirely natural travel habit – neat, tidy, a guarantee that you eat into only one precise week of precious annual leave. But if you have the flexibility to fly outside the weekend, you may find that reduced demand has a happy effect on the cost of your break.

The change: Choose a midweek escape

How about a getaway to the Algarve in August? Portugal’s sunniest region has long been a favourite of British holidaymakers, but consider your dates carefully. A seven-night stay at the five-star Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites in Albufeira costs from £1,456 per person if you fly from Gatwick (to Faro) on Saturday Aug 6 through British Airways Holidays (0344 493 0787; ba.com/holidays). But push an otherwise identical package back to Wednesday Aug 10 and that price falls to £1,354 a head – a saving of £204 per couple.





Mid-week departures work out cheaper when booking a hotel such as Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites in Portugal

Enticing price differences can also apply to winter-sun breaks. The Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque is one of the most attractive five-stars on Tenerife’s Costa Adeje. A week’s stay here, flying from Manchester on Saturday Feb 12, will cost from £1,524 per person (with checked bags) via On the Beach (0161 509 3700; onthebeach.co.uk). Fly on Wednesday Feb 9, however, and the bill is £1,295 a head.

The habit: You always go to the same place

Familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt, but it can be easy to fall into a rut of relying on the same old destinations; a habit the pandemic has surely ingrained further. Yet there is a joy to trying somewhere new, even if you are prioritising relaxation over exploration.

The change: Think outside the destination box

The basic Canary Islands concept – reliable sun without the need to cross (much of) the Atlantic – is no mystery. But for a further two hours in the air, you can upgrade Tenerife’s 20C in March for Santiago’s 25C. The largest chunk of the Cape Verde archipelago (which dots the ocean west of Senegal) features in the “Island Discovery” island-hopping break sold by Cape Verde Experience (01489 866 969; capeverde.co.uk). This 14-night itinerary also visits Sal, Boa Vista and São Vicente. From £2,329 per person, with flights.





Cape Verde, a warmer alternative to the Canaries


Credit: www.robertharding.com

Farther afield, anybody who loves the Caribbean has surely visited the west coast of Barbados or the south flank of Antigua. But this is a large region, full of less seen places, such as Guadeloupe, the French-run shard of the Lesser Antilles, where you can snooze in the shadow of the Grande Soufrière volcano. Inspiring Travel Co offers a seven-night “Guadeloupe Twin Centre” from £1,429 a head, with flights (01244 456 837; inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk).

The habit: You never travel out of season

Just as boarding an aircraft at the weekend is an instinctive travel habit, so is aiming for holiday hotspots in their hottest and busiest seasons. But picking a less popular month can be a wise move that trades a drop in temperature for quieter hotels and lower prices.

The change: Embrace Europe all year round

The Costa del Sol is aptly named – blissfully sun-baked in summer; still warm enough (about 16C) for the British chill to leave your bones if you visit in winter. You will pay much less for a holiday on Spain’s most popular stretch of shore if you take the latter path. A one-week half-board stay at the four-star H10 Estepona Palace, flying from Manchester (to Málaga), starts at £1,069 a head with a July 30 take-off, but £427 per person on Jan 16 via TUI (020 3451 2688; tui.co.uk). 





The southernmost fragment of Greece is already inching towards 20C as April arrives


Credit: Evgeni Dinev Photography/Moment RF

Or try Greece’s southernmost fragment, which is as close to Africa as it is to Athens and proves this in temperatures that are already inching towards 20C as April arrives. EasyJet Holidays (0330 551 5165; easyjet.com/holidays) offers breaks to Crete from the end of March. An all-inclusive week at the five-star Kiani Beach Resort, near Chania, flying from Gatwick on March 27, starts at £509 a head. The same trip costs from £977 per person with a July 23 departure.

The habit: You’ve never been convinced by a cruise

And, increasingly, you aren’t sure why. On one hand, in booking a break by boat, you are agreeing to a holiday with a lot of other people. On the other, there are few less stressful ways to travel – the world coming to you as you drop anchor in another intriguing port…

The change: Set sail for new horizons

The idea of a planet served up on a moving platter is ably demonstrated by a 24-day sailing from the luxury cruise operator Silversea (0844 251 0837; silversea.com). Despite the brevity of its name, the “Copenhagen to London” voyage (scheduled to begin on May 22) covers a big slice of Scandinavia, and almost the entirety of Great Britain, in its three weeks at sea. Stops include Oslo, the Norwegian fjords, the Shetland Islands, the Outer Hebrides, Edinburgh and Liverpool. From £11,000 per person, flights included.





It may surprise you just how relaxing life can be at sea on a cruise


Credit: Silversea

There is a fair argument, though, that a river voyage, where land is never out of sight, provides more scenic value for your money. Certainly, there should be no quibbles about the views on offer in the “European Sojourn” operated by Viking River Cruises (0800 319 6660; vikingrivercruises.co.uk) – a 23-day jaunt down much of the Rhine and a considerable portion of the Danube, between Amsterdam and Bucharest. From £6,495 per person, with flights. The next departure is on April 27.

The habit: You never travel long haul with your children

Which isn’t a “pandemic thing”. It’s a “can I be bothered to fly my kids halfway around the world when all they’ll do is complain about being jet-lagged?” thing. But with a little imagination, or a fair amount of organisation, long haul with youngsters is very feasible.

The change: Show them south-east Asia

If you subscribe to the “keep them busy” mantra when it comes to family breaks, the “Family Discover Vietnam” holiday offered by Explore (01252 240 503; explore.co.uk) should ensure your brood are tired but happy. Aimed at parents with offspring aged seven and over, this 11-day group tour visits several highlights (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An), but throws in sea-kayaking sessions, cycle rides and martial arts lessons. Ten editions are planned for 2022, from £1,923 per adult, from £1,738 per child (with flights).





Children will be amazed by new discoveries in southeast Asia and enthralled by the beaches


Credit: Getty

Alternatively, if you are going to visit south-east Asia with children, it may be simplest to book a beach hotel and sleep off the tetchiness. Thailand has myriad options for seafront recuperation. It reimposed quarantine requirements for visitors in December, with the exception of Phuket, which remains open to tourists. A 10-night Easter escape for a family of four to a Pool View Villa at the four-star Vijitt Resort (with its kids’ club), leaving Heathrow on April 9, starts at £6,787 in all, via Virgin Holidays (0344 472 9646; virginholidays.co.uk).

The habit: You always book an all-inclusive holiday

There are many reasons to book an all-inclusive break, not least the inherent simplicity of paying for everything in advance. But such deals can also make for stilted travel where you never look beyond your lounger – while denying valuable income to local businesses.

The change: Go off the beaten track in Cuba or Mexico

The biggest island in the Caribbean is a case study in why all-inclusive isn’t always all it might be. No trip to Cuba can really be complete without a stay in Havana – the romantic antique of a capital where salsa music echoes in crumpled courtyards. Wexas (020 8125 4271; wexas.com) devotes nearly half of its 10-day “Essence of Cuba” tour to its charms, while allowing for time on the sand in Cienfuegos. From £2,860 per person (with flights).





Swap the all-inclusive for a tour of Havana, one of the Caribbean’s most intriguing cities


Credit: Getty

Mexico’s Caribbean resorts also deserve more than a cursory glance as your taxi speeds to the hotel gates. Since the turn of the century, the standard of cuisine has increased hugely in purpose-built holiday zones like Cancun and Playa del Carmen – the latter, in particular, rewards an evening that spurns the buffet for the restaurants on Calle 12. A seven-night room-only trip to the five-star Chable Maroma retreat, leaving Glasgow on January 29, starts at £2,672 a head, with Destinology (01204 208 507; destinology.co.uk). 

The habit: You never consider group tours

Much like a cruise, an escorted holiday involves a decent spell in the company of total strangers who may or may not become good friends. But it can also be the perfect way to see a vast swathe of a glorious destination without having to drive (or think) for yourself.

The change: Make new friends wherever you go

Some 3,000 miles separate the USA’s east flank from its west – a formidable proposition for even the most enthusiastic road-tripper. Less so for the train. Great Rail Journeys (01904 521 936; greatrail.com) offers an “America Coast to Coast” journey that crosses the country in 18 days, from New York to San Francisco via Washington DC, Chicago, the Rockies, Las Vegas and Los Angeles – a clear case of “a lot of bang for your buck”. Eleven editions of this epic odyssey are scheduled for 2022, from £3,995 per person, with flights.





Great Rail Journey has a Coast to Coast tour offering many US highlights


Credit: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/Digital Vision

A group tour can be a great way to see distant places with door-to-door assistance, but it can also apply to more familiar shores. For example, Insight Vacations (0808 271 3044; insightvacations.com) runs a regular “Britain & Ireland Discovery” holiday. This 22-day trip leaves few domestic stones unturned as it visits the likes of Cardiff, York, Edinburgh, John O’Groats and the Giant’s Causeway – plus Limerick, Cork and Dublin. The 2022 season starts with four departures in April, and runs until October – from £4,388 a head. 

The habit: You haven’t left Europe since the pandemic began

With good reason. Borders have been closed, travel rules have been prone to change with no warning, and there is reassurance in staying close to home. But with 2022 (hopefully) bringing softer tides, it may be time to look to destinations that have been “off the map”.

The change: Explore Africa

Africa has suffered the most from the UK’s travel restrictions, but right now the whole continent is a possible playground. At this time of year, South Africa is in the full swing of summer. This makes the 10-day “Cape Town, Whales and Winelands Self-Drive” sold by Steppes Travel (01285 880 980; steppestravel.com) particularly appealing if you want to fly in the next few weeks. From £3,100 per person, flights extra.





Treat 2022 as the year to spread your wings. Cape Town is as good a place as any to start

If a holiday at the very foot of the continent feels a touch too far from home in what are still turbulent times, north Africa could be a welcoming host. Next year should finally witness the delayed opening of the new Grand Egyptian Museum – a fine excuse for a dash to Cairo. The 10-day “Best of Egypt & Red Sea” trip offered by Scott Dunn (020 3733 8026; scottdunn.com) begins in the capital, heads to Luxor and Aswan – and, as its name suggests, ends on the beach, at Sharm El Sheikh. From £5,000 a head, with flights.

The habit: You’re wary of South America

Understandably, perhaps – the planet’s foremost collection of jungles, mountains and Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking culture is often regarded as the most challenging continent for those who travel without backpacks. And yet, more refined holidays are possible…

The change: Discover Argentina or Peru

If you are placing a first foot onto South American soil, do you choose the A-list locations and gorgeous beaches of Brazil, or the equally majestic Inca sites of Peru? One answer is to pick both. Abercrombie & Kent (0330 173 1836; abercrombiekent.co.uk) offers “Peru and Brazil’s Iconic Landmarks” – a 17-night best of both worlds that ticks off Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley in the former, Iguacu Falls and Rio in the latter. From £7,245 per person (including flights).





Chase your rainbows all the way to South America and the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu


Credit: nicolamargaret/E+

Alternatively, the lower reaches of South America offer more restrained temperatures – and a good deal of elegance to boot. Both of the countries that draw the continent to a tapering end have superb wine industries – malbec grapes hanging heavy in Andean foothills. Journey Latin America (020 3553 1502; journeylatinamerica.co.uk) sells “Vineyards of Argentina and Chile” – a 14-day trip that fills its glasses in Salta, Mendoza and Santiago. From £4,560 a head (flights extra).

The habit: You always watch the budget

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Especially not at the moment – difficult times can make for frugality. But if you have reined in your travel expenses since Covid arrived uninvited, 2022 may be a year to let loose any spare cash on an extravagant getaway.

The change: Book a blow-out break

A detailed journey through African wildlife zones rarely fails to justify the cost. Even the Reedbuck Safari offered by Expert Africa (020 3405 6666; expertafrica.com). This nine-day tour serves up some of the best lodges in Botswana (Vumbura Plains in the Okavango Delta; Mombo Camp in Moremi Game Reserve) from £11,680 per person (flights extra), and all the animals your camera desires.

If you really want to take it easy, few things scream “luxury” like a week in a five-star resort on a beach of sunny postcard perfection. Make it a fortnight, and you know you are living the good life. Lux Tripper (020 4538 2013; luxtripper.co.uk) ticks this box with a 15-day “Luxurious Seychelles” holiday that puts down roots in two of the Indian-Ocean archipelago’s most seductive retreats – six nights at the Coco de Mer & Black Parrot Suites on Praslin; a further seven at the Constance Ephelia on the main island Mahe. From £3,750 per person, with flights.


Do you have any travel habits you would like to change this year? Let us know in the comments section below