All posts by Sharleen

Only one city in the world gets more tourists than London

from Tour Expi – Jan 31, 2016

The UK capital is the second most visited city in the world, according to Euromonitor, but one resilient residence pips it to the post

Only one city in the world gets more tourists than London

London has grown its tourist count to become the second most visited city in the world, overtaking Bangkok and Singapore.

However, the British capital could not catch up with Hong Kong, which is the world’s most popular city destination for the sixth consecutive year, according to Euromonitor International.

“With London airports nearing capacity, the capital risks losing out to European rivals.”  Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor

Almost 17.4m people visited London in 2014, a 3.6pc increase on the year before, while the number of tourists to Hong Kong jumped 8.2pc to 27.8m.

Singapore, Bangkok and Paris rounded out the top five despite receiving fewer travellers than in 2013, marking declines of 0.4pc, 7pc and 1.9pc respectively.

Rio de Janeiro was the biggest climber, attracting 47pc more travellers than the year before as sports fans flocked to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup – an increase that could be seen again this year with the Rio Olympics.

Visitors to Rio increased by almost half thanks to the FIFA World Cup

Athens grew by 29.4pc, entering the top 100 along with two other Greek cities and taking Greece to an all-time high in international arrivals.

However, geopolitical tensions took their toll elsewhere in Europe, with St Petersburg and Moscow marking double-digit declines and Kiev falling out of the index altogether.

Biggest climbers

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil +46.6pc

Cancún, Mexico +42.1pc

Agra, India +31.5pc

Taichung, Taiwan +30pc

Hanoi, Vietnam +29.9pc

Despite London’s high position on the ranking, it was the only UK city to make the list of the 100 most visited cities.

Revenue from inbound tourism grew 30pc between 2008 and 2014, according to the Tourism Alliance, generating £24bn for the UK economy.

However, Euromonitor warned that the British capital could lose its hold on the global tourist market if airport capacity is not increased

“It is no exaggeration to say that tourism has been at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery since the start of the global financial crisis.”

The Government recently delayed its decision about a third runway at Heathrow – which was used by almost 75m passengers last year, 2.2pc more than the year before – until this summer, after the Airports Commission failed to support Gatwick’s bid for expansion.

“London is one of the most iconic cities in the world. The resounding success of the London Olympics in 2012 has boosted visibility and popularity even further,” said Wouter Geerts, travel analyst at Euromonitor.

“However, with London airports nearing capacity, the capital risks losing out to European rivals. To remain competitive in the international city destinations landscape, ensuring connectivity and innovation is key.”

These are the most visited cities in the world

  1. Hong Kong
  1. London
  1. Singapore
  1. Bangkok
  1. Paris
  1. Macau
  1. Shenzhen
  1. New York City
  1. Istanbul
  1. Kuala Lumpur

 

 

Five reasons why we haven’t found aliens yet

From Focus, Jan 25, 2016
by Louisa Field

As Prof Stephen Hawking and colleagues set out on the biggest alien hunt ever, we take a speculative look at why we haven’t already found any little green men (or extraterrestrial microbes, for that matter).

 

1) Aliens have never existed
We are unique. Hurray.

2) They’re already extinct
A recent study claims that we haven’t heard from aliens because they’re already dead. “The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” says lead author Dr Aditya Chopra. “[But] early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.” The scientists argue that life on other planets would become extinct before it had time to create a balanced atmosphere where greenhouse gases are kept in check. “Most early planetary environments are unstable,” says Chopra.

3) We’re not worth bothering with
In the world of Star Trek, the extraterrestrial Vulcans don’t bother getting in contact with the humans, because they find them irrelevant and dumb. It’s not until Zefram Cochrane invents a warp drive (a device that lets you go faster than light) that they change their minds. So maybe aliens simply don’t care about our existence because we’re stupid and they can easily hide from us. Again, because we are stupid.

4) Alien life hasn’t had time to develop
Observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the planet-hunting Kepler space observatory suggest that our Earth was one of the first ever habitable planets. “Compared to all the planets that will ever form in the Universe, the Earth is actually quite early,” said Dr Peter Behroozi back in the December 2015 issue of Focus. So maybe life just hasn’t had time to get started on other planets.

5) We’re looking for the wrong thing
Some astronomers think that we’ve got the wrong idea when it comes to looking for extraterrestrials. Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees is known for having said that aliens are more likely to be machines – not organic creatures. In this case we should be looking for pollution and solar-harvesting structures instead of listening for radio signals.

So there are reasons why E.T. has been thus-far absent. But for many, it’s just a matter of time. Maybe the Breakthrough Listen project – the largest ever hunt for alien life – will be the first to strike gold.

by Louisa Field

How did the camel get its hump?

from BBC Wildlife Magazine,     Submitted by Jo Price

Find out why a camel’s hump is so useful in the desert.

Camels in Sahara Desert

Scientists have found fragments of a camel’s leg bone from over 3.5 million years ago in the Canadian Arctic.

These early camels were nearly twice the size they are now – over 3m tall – and evolved their fat-filled hump to help them survive the cold. The Arctic was warmer back then and forested with conifer and birch.

As the Ice Age came, the camels moved south. On reaching the deserts they found themselves surprisingly suited to their new environment.

Their big flat feet, evolved for spreading their weight over snow, helped them to walk on sand. The thick fur on their backs, originally developed to keep them warm, now shielded them from the sun. And their three eyelids, once so effective against snowstorms, now protected their eyes from wind-blown sand.

The camel’s hump is also useful in the desert. Almost all of its fat is stored there, rather than being evenly distributed over its body, so it stays cool in warm environments.

The hump isn’t rigid: if a camel uses up its supply of fat, the hump shrinks and flops over to one side, only reverting to its upright shape when the animal has fed and slept.

Extracted from QI: The Third Book of General Ignorance (Faber & Faber, £14.99

Jerusalem: Christmas lights are on now

Robert Swift | The Media Line  Dec 25, 2015

Tourists visiting Jerusalem in Israel this year are getting a treat for Christmas. The city’s Young Men’s Christian Association is decked out every year with lights and Christmas decorations, but this year, the YMCA has really outdone itself.

A huge planted tree with colored lanterns stands out in front of the impressive building, located opposite the historical King David Hotel. Inside the halls of the YMCA a number of Christmas bazaars have been opened, with sweets and decorations being sold by smiling people in silly festive hats. The smell of spicy mulled wine wafts through the stalls enticingly.

At night, the lights from the building’s tower are so bright that they can be seen right across the city. They blend nicely with the Hanukah lanterns still decorating Jerusalem’s streets, marking the recently passed Jewish celebration of lights. The Hanukah decorations still present seem to add to the Christmas spirit that might be more commonly found in European or American cities.

erusalem feels like a city celebrating Christmas on a bigger scale than it has done in the past. The fact that Jerusalem’s municipality announced it had doubled the number of pine trees it handed out to Christian residents of the Old City, up from around 100 the year before, seemed to hint at this. The numbers of busy shoppers visiting the YMCA Christmas market and the size of the crowd braving the cold for the Christmas tree lighting at the Old City’s New Gate on 18 December seemed to confirm it.

The question remains however, why in a city where less than 2% of the population are Christian is Christmas being celebrated on a wider scale than in the past? Possibly it’s the creeping power of Hollywood inserting its favorite branded holiday into the minds of young Israelis. Perhaps people have decided to throw an extra-large party to make up for the lower than usual turnout of tourists as business has continued to suffer under the recent security situation? Or perhaps there’s more to it.

Interestingly it is not just local Christians and foreign pilgrims come to visit Bethlehem that are celebrating Christmas this year. A small number of Jewish Israelis are getting onboard too.

“Come celebrate Christmas with a bunch of Jews who grew up watching too many Hollywood RomComs and are sick of missing out on the holiday spirit,” Daniel Bernstein, a secular Jerusalemite throwing a Christmas party, invited friends via social media. Bernstein spoke to The Media Line as he returned home after purchasing his first ever Christmas tree. “There’s no real reason, it’s just a fun occasion,” he admitted, saying that not being an expert on Christmas trees, he was surprised by the strong smell of pine when he made his purchase.
Israelis are much less exposed to Christianity than Jews living in the Diaspora and so tend to view the holiday through the media and television, Jeffrey Woolf, a professor of religion at the Naftal-Yaffe Department of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University, told The Media Line. This does not represent the holiday as it is experienced by Christians around the region, Woolf said, explaining that for them “Christmas is a profoundly spiritual holiday.”

An additional quirk of Christmas in Jerusalem is that it is not just celebrated on 25 of December. “We celebrate Christmas three times here because there are three major churches that are represented: the Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Armenian,” Woolf said. For the Armenian Christians, the holiday will be celebrated this year on 6 January, for the faithful of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the festival is a day later.

On each of the days a procession departs from Jerusalem and walks the distance to neighboring Bethlehem, a practice which by and large keeps within the holiday spirit even if it necessitates the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority having to coordinate together, Wolf suggested.

As to the reason why Christmas is big this year, Bernstein had one suggestion. “Maybe it’s becoming more of a thing here because of the Russians who celebrate Novy God – which is pretty much Christmas without saying ‘it’s Christmas,’” he said.

After the fall of communism thousands of Jews left the former Soviet Union (USSR) for life in Israel. Many of these people, who now number nearly a million, celebrated the holiday of Novy God – New Year – in their former countries and continue to do so in Israel. Novy God was the only non-Soviet holiday allowed to be celebrated in the USSR and involves dinner with family and friends, toasting in the New Year and a Santa Claus like character named Grandpa Frost who hands out presents.

It’s possible that many of Israel’s secular young generation liked what they saw their Russian compatriots doing and decided to join. “All the Russians I know celebrate it…I wanted to try it out for myself,” Bernstein said.

Or possibly, they have just been watching too many romantic-comedies.

New Gate Christmas Tree, Jerusalem’s Old City (Photo: Dudi Saad/The Media Line)

                                             http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wlq4fXr9k_k/VnyvGyJ7MVI/AAAAAAAATtc/Uz2jE2MkuOc/s1600/MED4.jpg

Interior of The American Colony Hotel (Photo: Dudi Saad/The Media Line)

Ten Best Christmas Markets in Europe

From Tourism Review

Many European cities attract locals as well as visitors from afar with their Christmas market. The common highlights are wooden stalls with traditional products, a Christmas tree, an ice rink, and lots of delicious food and hot drinks. The editors of Tourism-review.com dare to choose the best markets out there that offer remarkable experience and fantastic atmosphere. Here come the best Christmas markets around Europe, in alphabetical order. Read the full story

The ultimate guide to the proper dress on a plane

Monday, 30. March 2015, 11:48
How you dress at 35,000 feet can affect your comfort on a long flight.Experts say dressing the right way can even help you get an upgrade

The right clothing choices can make travelling with children easier. While celebrities emerge from long-haul flights looking polished and paparazzi-ready, most air passengers arrive looking – and feeling – a little less pristine. But by following some simple instructions and wearing the right clothes, you can maximize your comfort levels, ensuring a restful flight.In fact, how you dress at 35,000ft can make the difference between a full night’s sleep, a happy baby or toddler and even whether you get an upgrade.

Travel and fashion expert, Adele Scottish, from holidayhypermarket.co.uk, has shared her tips on dressing for success while flying.

TO GET AN UPGRADE

While experts agree that looking like an investment banker or Hollywood film star doesn’t help as much as it used to, tracksuits and torn jeans certainly won’t further your cause either.
Airlines want first and business class to look a league above, so make sure that you do too. Adele says: ‘You can look comfortable and classy at the same time so if you’re hoping to bag yourself an upgrade try a crease-free blouse with a pair of grey high-waisted flared trousers. ‘But make sure the trousers have a bit of give because no one wants to wear too-tight-trousers on a cramped aircraft. ‘Couple the trousers with a pair of Grecian-style blocked heels for a more relaxed office-like look. Finally, grab you iPad and you’re good to go.’

TO LOOK LIKE AN A-LISTER
Sunglasses are the ultimate accessory if you want to travel like an A-lister.’Nothing says celebrity status more than a pair of over-sized sunnies.

Duo this look with a pair of leather-look leggings and with a white lace cami and you will look like you have stepped out of a magazine shoot.

‘And if you’re feeling the chill, add a leather jacket to finish off the look,’ says Adele.

TO TRAVEL WITH CHILDREN

‘A pair of navy light-weight linens paired with a basic T-shirt will work a treat. But always stick to dark coloured linens as white isn’t ideal around small children,’ says Adele.

‘Finish off the look with a pair of trainers. This way if you’re children wander off you won’t have to embarrass yourself by chasing them around the airport in killer heels.

‘A large tassel bag is also a great accessory as it can hold a spare change of clothes if there are any milk spillage disasters.’

TO GET ‘LUCKY’

Adele says: ‘The holiday romance doesn’t need to wait until you are in your resort – dress to impress from the departure hall and you could find yourself starting summer loving from the minute you board.’

‘Show a little skin and keep things fun and flirty. Think cute playsuits, flirty dresses and relaxed waves in your hair’.

TO FEND OFF CHATTY NEIGHBOURS

Want to simply zone-out on your flight either by reading your favourite book or watching as many films as you can?

Try flying in a plain onesie and a pair of standout Converse.

Adele says: ‘This pyjama-like look screams do not disturb and is great for the comfort flyer.

‘So, if you usually spend the majority of your flight with your feet up wrapped in a blanket you can’t go wrong with this outfit.’

TO SLEEP IN COMFORT

If flying is all about catching up on your sleep then a pair of printed joggers, coupled with a baggy T-shirt is the best way to stay comfortable but remain stylish.

And the only accessories you need are those which guarantee a good night’s sleep, so make sure your eye mask and portable pillow are on hand.

TO LOOK LIKE AN A-LISTER

Sunglasses are the ultimate accessory if you want to travel like an A-lister.

‘Nothing says celebrity status more than a pair of over-sized sunnies.

Duo this look with a pair of leather-look leggings and with a white lace cami and you will look like you have stepped out of a magazine shoot.

‘And if you’re feeling the chill, add a leather jacket to finish off the look,’ says Adele.

TO TRAVEL WITH CHILDREN

‘A pair of navy light-weight linens paired with a basic T-shirt will work a treat. But always stick to dark coloured linens as white isn’t ideal around small children,’ says Adele.

‘Finish off the look with a pair of trainers. This way if you’re children wander off you won’t have to embarrass yourself by chasing them around the airport in killer heels.

‘A large tassel bag is also a great accessory as it can hold a spare change of clothes if there are any milk spillage disasters.’

TO GET ‘LUCKY’

Adele says: ‘The holiday romance doesn’t need to wait until you are in your resort – dress to impress from the departure hall and you could find yourself starting summer loving from the minute you board.’

‘Show a little skin and keep things fun and flirty. Think cute playsuits, flirty dresses and relaxed waves in your hair’.

TO FEND OFF CHATTY NEIGHBOURS

Want to simply zone-out on your flight either by reading your favourite book or watching as many films as you can?

Try flying in a plain onesie and a pair of standout Converse.

Adele says: ‘This pyjama-like look screams do not disturb and is great for the comfort flyer.

‘So, if you usually spend the majority of your flight with your feet up wrapped in a blanket you can’t go wrong with this outfit.’

TO SLEEP IN COMFORT

If flying is all about catching up on your sleep then a pair of printed joggers, coupled with a baggy T-shirt is the best way to stay comfortable but remain stylish.

And the only accessories you need are those which guarantee a good night’s sleep, so make sure your eye mask and portable pillow are on hand.

 

WestJet Offers travel tips for Christmas Travel

CALGARY, Canada – The upcoming Christmas travel season is among the busiest time of the year at airports worldwide. WestJet’s tips help its guests prepare for an enjoyable travel experience.

The airline makes the following recommendations to travelers:

1. Eggnog expires. And so does ID.

Ensure you have proper ID and documentation for all travellers, including children and infants. Transport Canada has changed ID requirements for domestic travel, meaning expired ID can no longer be used for any flight. For international travel, travel documents must be presented at check-in. Each country on your itinerary may have different entrance requirements, including the physical condition of a passport, or extended validity of a passport beyond your intended departure date. Check national entry requirements with WestJet well before departure.

2. Inflight entertainment? There’s an app for that.

WestJet’s new inflight entertainment system, WestJet Connect, is available on your own laptop or through the WestJet app on your smartphone or tablet. Download the latest version of the airline’s iPhone or Android app for free access to nearly 500 hours of movies and TV programs, and three live TV channels. WestJet Connect also offers pay-per-use Internet access. Not all of WestJet’s aircraft are equipped with the new system, so pack some books, magazines, tablets or laptops loaded with entertainment, or perhaps small games or toys for little travelers.

3. You’ve made your list, now check-in only once.

WestJet offers three convenient self-serve check-in options: web, mobile and kiosk. The airline suggests checking in 24 hours before scheduled departure.

• Web check-in is available at westjet.com.

• Check-in on your mobile device using WestJet’s app or mobile-optimized website.

• Self-serve check-in kiosks are available at most of WestJet’s airports, and may also offer self-serve baggage-tagging.

Speed up your airport experience by paying baggage fees with a credit card when you use self-serve check-in.

4. This is the busiest travel period of the year, so plan to arrive early.

Prepare for large crowds at the airport. WestJet suggests arriving at the airport no less than two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. Guests on a delayed flight can use the revised departure time to determine what time they check in.
Travellers should complete security, immigration and customs and be at their departure gate one hour before departure. Those who do not meet check-in, baggage drop or boarding cut-off times may be denied travel.

5. Santa’s got a brand-new carry-on bag.

Carry-on baggage must meet WestJet’s size requirements as listed on its website. Each guest is permitted one piece of carry-on baggage and one personal item. Excess and oversized carry-on baggage may be checked in and subject to applicable baggage fees. Guests are encouraged to visit westjet.com for details on checked and excess baggage allowances and fees, sporting equipment, restricted items and special items.

6. Lovely to look at, better to hold.

Be sure to pack ID, wallets, purses, medication, mobile devices, keys, and valuable items such as cash, jewelry and electronics into carry-on baggage.

7. Security prefers rapping over wrapping.

The airline suggests guests do not wrap gifts. Airport security may unwrap items in checked or carry-on baggage, causing delays at security. Pack wrapping paper in your checked luggage, and have a wrapping party on arrival at your destination.

8. Large pets, like reindeer, need a kennel over Christmas.

WestJet does not accept kennels as checked baggage between December 15 and January 6 inclusive, although certain small animals may be able to travel in the aircraft cabin; visit WestJet’s website for details.

9. Pack your patience.

Holiday travel can be stressful, but you can cope more easily by being prepared, leaving lots of time to travel to the airport, arriving early and taking things in stride. Everyone wants to get to their destination to share Christmas with family and friends, and a little patience goes a long way to help make the journey stress-free.

5 Lies to Tell When Traveling

from Tour EPI  Nov 6, 2015
Lying is almost always wrong but when you’re traveling there are certain situations where it’s a good idea to do so. As travelers, we’re often prone to scams, harassment, and many other terrible experiences and a simple white lie is often all it takes to deflect this unwanted attention.

5 Lies to Tell When Traveling

Here are 5 lies you can tell to keep yourself safe on the road.

“No, This Isn’t My First Time Here

This lie can be used in many situations and to avoid all kinds of unpleasant experiences.

When you take a cab from the airport, your driver will likely ask you if it’s your first time in the city. While it can be tempting to say yes and see if you can gather some insider knowledge, it’s best to say that you’ve been here before. If the driver knows this is your first time in a city, he can take you on a long and winding journey and make you pay double.

If the driver thinks you’ve visited before, he’ll be much more likely to take you directly there.

This can also be used when meeting locals. If someone finds out it’s your first day in a city, they can use that to scam you. You’re basically telling them that you don’t know where anything is, you don’t know how the city works, and you’re an easy target.

“Yes, I have a Boyfriend”

This is more for the solo female travelers out there, and can be used to deflect unwarranted attention. If a guy’s annoying you at a bar and won’t leave you alone, tell him you have a boyfriend. Take a photo of you and a male friend before you leave to travel and show them the photo of you together. Have a believable story and it’ll be much easier to avoid the harassment.

Sorry, I Can’t Remember the Name of My Hostel”

If you meet someone that seems to be taking a little too much interest in who you are, be sure to put your guard up and make sure you don’t give too much away. If someone asks where you’re staying, pretend that you can remember the name of your hostel and only describe it to them in vague terms.

The last thing you want is someone knowing exactly where you’re staying.

“No Speak English”

In some parts of the world, the touts can be unbearable. In these situations, simply telling them you don’t speak English and shrugging can be enough to deter them. If they try and find out which language you do speak then continue to shrug until they give up and walk away. It’ll give you more space and a less stressful travel experience.

“I’m Traveling With a Friend”

As frustrating as it is, solo travelers are targeted more than any other type of traveler. If you’re in an uncomfortable situation or don’t want to give too much of yourself away, say that you’re traveling with a friend but spending the day apart to explore different parts of the city. It’ll make you seem like less of an easy target, especially if you’re female.

 

One day trip to the amazing pockets of London

from Travel & Tour , Oct 3, 2016

While planning a one day trip to London, the city’s jocund company and lively vibes is so emphatically felt that it will immediately make you fall for its throbbing passion. But for many, London has been an oft visited destination and the best views, The Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and London Bridge have almost always been covered thanks to chartered tours. Of course there is more to London, london parkswhich none of the chartered trips can help you discover and for knowing a city best, tracking it through long walks or maybe a hop in a bus or tram — which in itself is an amazing experience is ideal! You can also choose the London tube for a one day trip.

London is blessed with marvelous parks that are well maintained and can start off your day on a happy note. The luxuriously green and picturesque spread of St James’s Park and Buckingham Palace which are closely located can add a song to your mind and blithe to your spirits.

You could start your one day trip with a quick breakfast at the Table Cafe or Inn the Park (in St James’s park) which does a full English breakfast with pancakes. However since it’s just a one day trip there is indeed much to see, so you have to be choosy.

The South Kensington is a place that has some great museums. The old iconic shops of Harrods and Hamleys, which are often mentioned by British novelists, are close drops and you could actually get a first hand view of them while you’re there.

You have seen the Westminster Bridge many a times and for some the view that I am about to suggest may also be a regular tour but the view of the entire space in a boat down the Thames is breathtaking. Walking along the South Bank of the Thames is also quite an experience that fills you with charm no matter how many times you do it in a one day trip.

A walk down the northern bank of the river will take you to the oldest part of London. The St. Paul’s Cathedral, The famous Fleet Street, The Strand and Trafalgar Square are modest reminders of the grand British Empire. There is ample scope for photography and the much sort after stone lion at Trafalgar Square will surely fetch a great number of likes in social media from friends.

You can head towards Soho and get a feel of the artistic side of the city. The bold wall graphite and the general appearance of people there will make you wander to a world that has been bitten by art, literature and music. If you are interested in the seedy history of Soho, there is a tour for that too. Soho has good places where you could snap up some lunch.

St Albans, Hertfordshire which is very close to Central London. The cathedral is officially the oldest place of Christian worship in the country. Pubs and restaurants, and the buzzing centre of this thriving market town where this humble monument stands is a great place for a wander at any time of day. So you can try out lunch at this venue.

The Ronald Dahl Museum at Great Missenden may be of interest for some. The Epping Forest is a vast and peaceful expanse giving you a feel of wilderness close to London. You could keep a note of these destinations in your travel itinerary for a one day trip.

In the evening Piccadilly in the West, Holborn in the East and Covent Garden are the best places for theatre. What is the use of being in London if you don’t watch a single theatre? The shows start at 7.30 so be there before time and book your tickets. However if you can plan to book advance tickets it would be good as there is always a rush and you may get left out. There are some restaurants that do pre or post theatre dinners so don’t forget to explore those options.

 

What happens to you mentally over lack of holidays?

Monday Sept 20, Tour EXP 

The benefits of holidays are obvious to most people – yet last year over half of Americans (56 per cent) didn’t take any.What they may not realize is that abstaining from a vacation can be seriously bad for your health, according to experts.  Here they reveal how those who don’t take enough breaks can suffer serious damage physically and mentally. The effect on your body Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, and tour operator Kuoni, conducted a study in 2012 called The Holiday Health Experiment and discovered there are striking effects of not jetting away. The test found those who didn’t go away for a break had higher blood pressure, didn’t sleep as well and had higher levels of stress.

Altogether 12 volunteers underwent a health assessment, wore heart monitors to measure their sleep patterns and resilience to stress, had psycho-therapeutic tests and were given dietary and lifestyle advice during the summer. The benefits of the break lasted at least a fortnight longer than the vacation and the study claimed it could be felt for months in some cases.

A study by Allianz Global Assistance found that when Americans do go on holiday, 61 per cent of them continue to work while they are out of the office. With US workers failing to take advantage of their hard-earned time off, a staggering 429 million days of accrued holiday entitlement went unclaimed in 2013. It also found that 56 per cent didn’t take any holiday at all last year.

The company unveiled a television ad after the release of the study featuring child actors who admonish their parents for not booking a family getaway. Psychotherapist Christine Webber, who carried out the testing, said blood pressure reductions are important to reduce the chances of stroke and heart attacks, while better sleep is good for the immune system. She said: ‘It’s apparent from our results that the majority of people feel happier, more rested and much less stressed because of their vacations.’

Dr Lucy Goundry, Nuffield Health’s Medical Director, said: ‘For the first time, our clinical results show how holidays helped these couples reduce their blood pressure, improve their sleep and manage their stress levels better. ‘These results clearly demonstrate that on holiday our ability to physically cope with stress improves. ‘I urge everyone to ensure they plan their holidays carefully. Working hard is important but so is taking time to rest and recuperate.’  Corinne Usher, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, said: ‘The reported benefits of holidays are short lived and only last a couple of weeks at most. The greatest happiness appears to come from planning and anticipating a break. Given the short lived nature of benefits, some researchers have suggested it might be helpful to think in terms of taking more frequent short term breaks.

Did you notice, I said ‘break’? Not surprisingly, there is a difference between taking a holiday and taking a break.’ The test supported results from The Framingham Study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1991.It discovered that female homemakers who took a holiday every six years or even less doubled their risk of developing heart attacks or having a fatal heart problem. This was compared to those who took time out at least twice a year.

The test analysed women’s lifestyle based on data started in 1948, considering physical factors and including lifestyle choices such as their attitude toward children, money and travel. Speaking to ABC News, primary care physician Natasha Withers from One Medical Group in New York said: ‘Rest, relaxation, and stress reduction are very important for people’s well-being and health. This can be accomplished through daily activities, such as exercise and meditation, but vacation is an important part of this as well.’  She listed a decreased risk of heart disease and improved reaction times as some of the benefits from taking some time off.  The effect on your mind

Not taking enough time off is not good for your career prospects, says one expert.

Corinne Usher, who managed and led NHS mental health psychological services in Buckinghamshire for 20 years, said to MailOnline: ‘Not taking our full annual leave entitlement can lead to people feeling resentful towards colleagues in the workplace, and more likely to make mistakes.’

She added: ‘There is a lot of research into the beneficial effects of taking a holiday, such as making us more creative problem solvers, refreshing our motivation, increasing levels of happiness, and lowering levels of stress and emotional exhaustion.

‘These promote greater survival rates for people at risk of heart problems and better family relationships, to name a few.’

BPS Associate Fellow & HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist, Dr Rachel Andrew, backed this up, saying to MailOnline: ‘A lot of people get caught up in the day to day stresses, and this leads to them becoming disconnected and getting no enjoyment or emotional connection to what they are doing.

‘In order to build people back up again, I recommend taking time out from hectic, pressured lifestyles. ‘It is essential to switch off. This can be linked to escaping technology, too. This can free up the mind to be creative.’ The effects of working overtime can be equally destructive. Researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that those who worked more than 11 hours a day, as opposed to seven to eight hours, were more than twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. This even applied to those who had no prior mental health issues. But do we even need a holiday?

Dr Andrew said that shunning a holiday could actually help your mental state. ‘A lot of work I do is about people making time each day in order to improve their motivation, something a short holiday alone won’t tackle,’ she said. ‘I usually recommend taking time to switch off each day and focus back on why they are doing what they are doing. ‘In fact some people I interact with find holidays stressful, and I work with them to overcome any obstacles that could hinder them.’ Corinne Usher, a consultant clinical psychologist, said that some people actually report something called ‘leisure sickness’, in that people who are characteristically perfectionistic and particularly committed to work may find it more stressful to be away from it and tend to find it more difficult to relax. She said to MailOnline: ‘The reported benefits of holidays are short lived and only last a couple of weeks at most. ‘The greatest happiness appears to come from planning and anticipating a break.

‘Given the short lived nature of benefits, some researchers have suggested it might be helpful to think in terms of taking more frequent short term breaks. ‘Did you notice, I said ‘break’? Not surprisingly, there is a difference between taking a holiday and taking a break.’