UK Government Seeking Expat Votes To Combat Low Election Turnouts

Sensing that a closely fought general election is on the horizon, the government has taken an innovative measure to combat historically low voter turnouts: by launching a major drive to attract votes from British expats.

The Electoral Commission is planning an online campaign targeted at British nationals using email accounts abroad which were initially set up at home. A large number of British expatriates live abroad, with the latest estimates putting the number at around 5 million. A fifth of these live in Spain alone. The government’s plan is a potentially very clever one, as a good number of financially well off, 60 year old-plus expats may arguably lean towards the right of the political spectrum and vote Conservative if given the choice. This new initiative is designed to promote that choice.

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Many British nationals living abroad take out private expatriate health insurance and the move towards a more privatised healthcare system could be a constituent of the government’s 2015 election manifesto.

In many cases these individuals are signed up with banks and expat health insurance providers based in the UK, meaning that many of life’s key considerations are still administered from their country of origin. It is hoped that voting will become another of those considerations.

Whilst the number of expats registering to vote remotely was relatively small at the last general election in 2010, with 40,000 registration forms being downloaded, these kinds of numbers could potentially make all the difference in so-called ‘swing’ constituencies. Labour’s victory in Ealing Central and Acton in West London was decided by a mere 1,060 votes. The Lib Dems’ margin in York Outer was just 203 votes, so it’s easy to see how the government’s expat voter push could swing these kinds of seats.

Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is pushing the Electoral Commission to aim to sign up an additional 100,000 voters this time around. The number could even be substantially higher, given that expats will be able to register online prior to the 2015 general election.

Louis Kaszczak of expat health insurance providers Aetna International has said that there is an appetite amongst expatriates to keep in touch with the UK’s political goings on, however many are unaware that they are still eligible to vote.

Only time will tell how successful the EC’s forthcoming initiative will be in regards to changing this viewpoint.

Backpacking In Style – Tips For Finding The Best Hotel Deals

There’s no denying that backpacking offers the ideal low-cost getaway. For many, the idea of just packing a rucksack with the essentials and leaving the everyday routine miles behind really epitomises the concept of freedom. As such, backpacking is great for gap year travelling and for extended holidays.

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You don’t have to be a student on a low-budget expedition to enjoy the freedom of a backpacking adventure, though. Nowadays, a backpacking holiday can be enjoyed in good hotels with a touch of style – even glamour, and here are a few top tips for finding these deals.


Before you set off on your backpacking travels, look for promotional discounts in the area you are heading to. You can often find these online or with coupons from tourist information literature. It’s not uncommon to find promotions offering anything from discounted hotel rates to reduced transfer fees.

Sleep in Style

By booking your accommodation and flights separately, you can often make your trip more cost effective and afford to stay in higher rated hotels. Many four and five star hotels will offer you cheaper deals if you book early or if you are willing to stay outside of the normal high season. Again, compare these online well before you leave. Never be afraid to ring up hotels individually and negotiate a discount.


If you do choose to upgrade your accommodation from a backpacking hostel, make the most of it and use all of the facilities during your stay. After all, not many backpacking hostels will have a pool that you can use or a laundry service that is available to visitors.

Great Budget Destinations

Some places around the globe offer really good places to stay but at a fraction of the cost you would expect. Thailand is a good example, with plenty of four and five star accommodation that backpackers can check into without worrying about breaking the budget.

Egypt has seen a fall in accommodation prices in recent years, too. Another place well worth checking out is Tunisia – a long-time favourite destination for French backpackers.

Making the most of the freedom of travelling doesn’t have to be about bumming it across the globe. With a bit of careful research beforehand, it’s possible to backpack in style and sleep in comfort.

Singapore: Tour The City Like a Local This Year

Traveling is always an exciting time, and one of the best places to visit this year is Singapore. Singapore has so many different things to offer in regards to tourists, and there is definitely something here for everyone. Of course, there are those common places that most tourists visit and can get through in a day. Most of that being the couture shopping that Singapore is known for, but thankfully there’s a great selection of alternative attractions to see too! Whether you enjoy cultural sights, shopping, or just some fun and relaxation, you will be sure to find it in wonderful Singapore.

Artwork at the Ritz-Carlton

It is a little crazy to be visiting a hotel, instead of an actual museum, or is it? The artwork at the Ritz-Carlton is one of the greatest collections there is to see of modern and contemporary art, and it is virtually unknown to tourists!

Chinatown Heritage Center

When visiting Singapore, of course there are museums and other places to look into the past of this city, but everyone should make it to the Chinatown Heritage Center. Here, visitors can admire the different 19th and early 20th century scenes that are available to see, and it also introduces you to the culture of the city too! You can even shop there and collect little souvenirs.


Located in the former red-light district of Singapore, Geylang has a lot of history to offer. Walking the streets, you will be introduced to the wonderful architecture, as well as experience some of the modern elements of the city too. One of the best things to do ere is try the local food.

The Camden Medical Center

If shopping and couture is your forte, you’ve come to the right place. Being big in fashion and appearance, Singapore has a nice little cosmetic secret. Stop in the Camden Medical Center for some of the latest skin treatments, from expert medial advancements to traditional and herbal medicines.

Haji Lane

Tucked away in the heart of the Muslim quarter, Haji Lane has tons of little secret shops to offer the savvy shopper. Of course, you will find a vast variety of couture shops in popular places, but here, it is really a shopper’s dream come true!

Funan Digitalife Mall

If electronics are what excites you, try the Funan Digitalife Mall. Take advantage of the most hi-tech devices for about 10-20% cheaper than you would at other shops!

The White Rabbit

This restaurant gives you a little history, a lot of beauty, and some really great Euro comfort food. Once a historical church, this building was renovated to be a beautiful restaurant, keeping much of the church’s aesthetic design.


The nightlife in Singapore can be compared to that of New York, and a wonderful place to see it is by visiting Zouk. This amazing nightclub will fill your night with loud music, flashing strobes, and tons of dancing. No matter where you party in Singapore however, you’re bound to have an amazing time!

If you thinking of how to get to Singapore or how to get around here are some handy tips. When in Singapore you have several options for getting around including MRT, bus and taxi.


What type of holiday is right for you?

Investing in a holiday is often one of those things that the majority of us don’t get to do that often. With work, personal taste, time constraints and financial details it is imperative to find a holiday that satisfies everything that we want in a holiday, so we can get maximum enjoyment from the experience. Here are some factors to think about when considering what type of holiday is right for you.

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Time Available

If you are under time constraints then you probably won’t be booking a 3 month safari, or an open ended ticket to see the world. Working out how much time you have and choosing a holiday that fits into your schedule is the best way to ensure that you are getting maximum enjoyment for what you are paying for. Some holiday ideas that might fit that bill are cruises, bus tours and other short term holiday ideas.


If money is not flowing as abundantly as you would like it to then you will need to choose a holiday that fits in with your budget. Conversely if you have a large amount of money at your disposal then why not splash out and do something big! Working out what you want, and what you can afford and then shopping around for the best deal is a great way to ensure that you are getting the best holiday you can for your money. There are some great Cruiseabout specials available that will give you a great holiday without breaking the bank.

What Interests You?

If you don’t like walking, then you probably won’t be interested in going on a trek of the Himalayas, and if you aren’t a fan of the snow then you wouldn’t think of going on a snow trip. Working out what interests you will give you a few clues about what sort of holiday might be the best one for you.

Travel Companion Vs Solo Adventure

Some of us love spending time by ourselves, while others need to be around other people. If you are a person who is happy to head off on your own on an adventure then you will probably be fine with whatever holiday you choose. For some of us we would prefer to have a companion to travel with so we might be happy to do anything as long as we are doing it with friends, or family.

What did you love/hate about your last holiday?

If you take the time to think about your last holiday and what you loved/hated about it you will be able to get a good idea about what things you might want to experience in your next holiday. Planning a holiday is one of the most exciting parts of the trip so relax, and take the time to work out what you really want in a holiday, so that you will be sure to have an awesome time whatever you do!

By Natalie Brown

Chamonix: A Brief Insight Into This Popular Ski Resort

Chamonix is a destination that is famous all over the world and it attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. The natural beauty surrounding Chamonix is described by many as “breath-taking.”   This amazing resort is ideal to take a holiday in both the Winter and Summer months and the following is a brief insight into this popular ski resort.

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Chamonix is situated  1,035 above sea level in the north-westerly area of the French Alps. It is just 15km away from both the Swiss and Italian borders. When taking the journey from Geneva airport to Chamonix, you will be travelling north west of the Alps and will be in very close proximity to the Swiss border. offer a reliable transfer option between Geneva airport and Chamonix. As it located in a glacial valley, Chanomix provides visitors with stunning scenery all throughout the year and it is suitable to holiday here during both the Winter and the Summer months. Nestled between two magnificent and impressive mountain ranges, the town itself boasts some of the most amazing Alpine scenery that the world has to offer.

Where to Stay

There are many smaller villages situated on the outskirts of Chamonix that are still referred to as Chamonix. You should do some research into the area in general and let your desires and interests depict which area you will visit.  There are both pros and cons to every area but the pros always outweigh the cons. If you decide to stay in a chalet in the center of town or one in the surrounding villages, you will not miss out and will still gain access to the best lifts that the country has to offer. However, it has to be noted that if you’re after exciting nightlife, central Chamonix is the place to be.

Things to Do

Chamonix offers activities ranging from world-class skiing to top class cookery classes. Whether it’s a relaxing getaway or an adventurous filled holiday you’re looking for, Chamonix will not disappoint on any level. It is obviously famous for its exhilarating Winter sports that include skiing, snowboarding and both hiking and biking activities. In recent years, it has become more popular for those who are looking for a slightly more chilled out holiday and offer those visitors cookery courses that will give you an insight into some of the most tasty and tantalizing foods that French cuisine has on offer.  The food served in Chamonix restaurants is of a very high standard and must maintain that level of excellence in order to endure the competition.

5 Ways to Spend a Holiday on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

If you’re looking for a vacation with a little bit of something for everybody, try heading down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whether you’re into days out on the golf course, nights out at the casino or just relaxing on the beach with great food, you’ll have a holiday to remember here. Here are 5 ideas to start you out:

Visit the Museums

You might be surprised to learn that the Mississippi Gulf Coast has alot more than just great outdoor activities. Museum lovers have the chance to learn all about the history of the area along with marine life, science and a great interactive museum for kids. Check out the Infinity Science Center to immerse in everything science and space, or take the kids to the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center where they can play and learn.


Explore the Great Outdoors

Not only does the Mississippi Gulf Coast enjoy incredible beaches, but it’s also home to some of the most diverse habitats and eco-systems in the country. Don’t miss a chance to explore the outdoors here on a hike through a national park or nature conservatory. You can head out to an alligator farm to learn about this local species, or head off the beaten path to a national park to experience wildlife in its more natural habitat. Another great way to explore nature is by renting a canoe or kayak and winding your way down one of the many rivers that snake through the landscape.


Place a Wager

If you’d like to balance some of those relaxed days on the beach with an evening of exciting nightlife and glamorous casinos, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is your spot. There are 12 great casinos to choose from, with all your favorite games and first-class dining options to choose from. If you’d like to make the casinos the center of your trip as a casino vacation, pick one of the casino resorts so you don’t have to travel far to rest after a night on the town.

Hit the Shops

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is the perfect place to browse high-end stores, cute boutiques and factory outlets. Whether you’re looking for a great gift to bring home or just looking to splurge a bit on yourself, you’ll find everything you’re looking for here. And if you’re into antiques, you’re in luck; antiquing is a bit of a sport here so you’ll find amazing hand-crafted antiques to bring home.

Immerse in Art

There are some great art galleries and studios on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Check them out when you need a break from all the time spent outdoors. There are plenty of talented local artists showcasing their work in cute little galleries along the coast. Check out Arts on the Avenue, Gemini Gallery, and Gallery 220 which features works of two dozen local artists. You might find something special to bring home to remember your trip.



Take a Self Catering St. Ives Holiday

One of the best places to take a holiday in the UK is without a doubt in St. Ives. This beautiful landscape near the Western most edge of the UK offers a wide variety of activities for all walks of life. It has a beautiful coastline that is good for enjoying a beautiful relaxing walk or for the more daring that want to try out the new adventure sport of coasteering. There is so much to do in this friendly town, all the way through to Autumn making it a great option if your looking for cheap holidays in October so the only thing left to do is decide where you want to stay. If you are looking for a self catering St. Ives holiday then there is really only one choice that you have.

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Every destination in the world offers hotels or motels. While these can be a great accommodation, they always tend to get a bit crowded and make people stir crazy. This can be especially true for stays of a week or longer. The same goes for hostels. While these are great for solo travelers or a group of younger kids they are not ideal for a family or a couple trying to get some quiet comfortable quarters. What you can find here, for this holiday, is St. Ives apartments that will be all yours for as long as you need.

The best part of self catering your holiday is that you have complete freedom and autonomy from others. You have your own space and can make it feel like home. The biggest draws of hotels is that you have a staff at you disposal to help with anything you need from dinner recommendations to reservations. At St. Ives they offer a concierge service that can take care of all that for you too. They will even go as far as to stock the refrigerator for you upon arrival so there is no delay in enjoying your vacation.

The views from all of the apartment choices are something to be marveled. There is no feeling like waking up, walking out to your balcony, and seeing one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The way the waves crash into the cliffs is surreal and is a sight that will never get old. You can choose all different types of accommodation that may suit a couple better than a family so make sure you do some research before booking. You can even get a room that comes equipped with a telescope so you can gaze at the stars, up close, on a clear night.

These apartments are luxurious, hassle free, and can be a good fit for any type of group looking for any type of holiday. Don’t wait, scoop up one of these luxury apartments before its too late!

Faro Beaches & Nightlife

Faro is a lively and charming city, a superb choice of destination if you like to be in the heart of things. As a student and tourist town, it has a fun and vibrant nightlife, but there are many quieter bars and restaurants if you want to take it easy.

Faro is the gateway to the Algarve, the dramatic stretch of southern Portuguese coastline that fronts the wild Atlantic Ocean. At times spectacular and rugged, at others beautifully tranquil, it cannot be argued that the Algarve is not incredibly beautiful. Many visitors do not linger in Faro but head immediately to one of the seaside resorts.

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There is an argument to be made for this approach, especially if you are short on time. But Faro itself makes for a rewarding experience in itself, whether you are simply passing through or have chosen the city as your main destination. Take advantage of car hire to make the most of your time in Faro and get to places further afield.

Faro’s beaches can compete with the best in the Algarve. A series of sandspits, large deposits of sand that project into the sea, provide protection from the Atlantic waves; this makes the waters calm and safe for swimming in.

The beaches are nothing if not diverse. Faro beach itself, near the airport, is a busy and vibrant stretch of golden sand, lined by shops, cafes, bars and hotels. Colourful boats rock in the gentle waves, and there are opportunities for various water sports, including jet-skiing, windsurfing and water-skiing. It’s a great beach for those that like access to great facilities and don’t mind the crowds.

The sand spit island beaches, such as Ilha Deserta, Ilha da Armona and Ilha da Culatra, lie offshore and can be reached only by ferry or water taxi. Ilha Deserta has over six miles of glorious golden sands, so there is plenty of room to find your own spot. It is part of the Ria Formosa National Park, an important wetland site for birds, and amongst them you can see flamingos and terns. There is a restaurant and sunbeds and umbrellas can be hired if you are in the mind for relaxation, or you can follow the nature trail and take a dip in the warm, shallow waters. Ilha Deserta, as its name suggests, is the ideal spot if you are looking for peace and relaxation.

Ilha da Armona, another large, sweeping beach, has superb sand dunes that kids will love, and there are plenty of cafes and facilities, and even a campsite. Ilha da Culatra has a great sandy beach and is one of the few sandspit islands to be permanently populated; there are several cafes and beautiful bougainvillea-clad houses as well as a lighthouse. Unfortunately, ferries do not connect the islands together, but it is possible to travel between them by water taxi.

Spending a day at the beach can be tiring business, and in true Portuguese style you may want to have a lazy siesta before hitting the town. Faro is a superb spot to try out authentic Portuguese cuisine and join in the later revelries. The Rua do Prior and surrounding area is the centre of the action, and there are many clubs and bars here to choose from. Try Havana Club for a Latin vibe or Millennium III and Dux for top DJs and live music.

While the Old Town buzzes with activity at night, the Marina is a great place for a more relaxed meal, a gentle evening stroll or a leisurely drink beside the gently lapping waters. Try out freshly caught seafood and a local wine or dry white port served over ice in traditional style. Just beware of medronho, made from the arbutus fruit – it’s known as fire water for good reason!

Unknown Gems of England’s North-East

In any destination, there will be attractions that are well known to the locals but rarely heard of further afield. In my opinion, discovering these turns a good break into an excellent one – and I believe this is especially the case when you’re on a staycation. After all, it’s really easy to think you know your country like the back of your hand, so discovering new things and realising there is still so much to learn is an invigorating experience. Recently, I discovered the north-east of England has a lot to offer in this regard.

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Below, you’ll find my list of the area’s most interesting little-known gems. And if these inspire you to visit the north-east and you want to know more about things like local hotels and other attractions, you can find out practical information here.

The Victoria Tunnel

My first hidden gem can be found on Stepney Bank in the Ouseburn Valley. A fascinating slice of history, the Victoria Tunnel dates back to 1842, when it was built to help transport coal for loading on to ships. In more recent years, it played an important role in World War II when it was converted into an air raid shelter.

These days, it is both undergoing restoration work and open for public tours – but you do need to book well ahead of time. You can do this through the Ouseburn Trust, which offers guided tours – complete with audio and visual effects – all year round.

The Biscuit Factory

Over on Stoddart Street in Shieldfield, Newcastle, is the Biscuit Factory – a unique art gallery. Housed in an old Victorian factory that’s been fantastically converted for the purpose, this is a commercial gallery, so you can actually buy the pieces on display here.

What’s more, the fact that it has a lovely cafe and an interesting programme of workshops means that it’s got a particularly great atmosphere, so it’s somewhere that art aficionados are guaranteed to fall in love with.

Cullercoats Bay

Next on my list is Cullercoats Bay, which I’ve included for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a lovely little beach that’s especially great for families, enclosed as it is between two piers. Secondly, it featured in the artwork of Winslow Homer (an American artist), and whether you’re an art lover or not it’s always lovely to explore landscapes that have been a source of inspiration.

While you’re here, make sure you check out the south of the bay, which is where the local fishing and leisure boats launch from. Other things to see include a Victorian lifeboat station and the Fisherman’s Watch House.

Tyneside Cinema

Last up we have Tyneside Cinema, which is a real treasure. This Grade II listed building is the only newsreel theatre in the UK that is still running as a full-time cinema. Its original Art Deco design has been beautifully restored, so coming here is a memorable experience.

What I really love about this place, though, is that it’s also got an excellent programme of screenings that include world cinema titles as well as the usual Hollywood blockbusters. It has four screens in total, in addition to two bars and, rather charmingly, a traditional coffee room.


The Games to Play in Hostels

Travelling can mean having a lot of spare time hanging around especially when you are a bit short of cash and need to preserve your survival money. On the other hand you could try to make a little extra cash or just pass by some time by introducing some easy games of poker to your newly found hostel friends and as you can see here there are more than you can imagine. One game of poker that is easy to play when you don’t have much area space is 5-Card Draw poker.

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5-Card Draw is one of the simplest versions of poker to play and you don’t need a table to lay out the cards. Each player will have to hold five cards in their hand and draw for more cards by swapping out the cards they don’t want. No one can see the other players’ hands until a showdown is reached. The five cards in your hand will make up a five card poker hand after all the betting and draws have been said and done.

Another big advantage 5-Card has is that you can play different variations of the game to make it more exciting. The flexibility of playing draw means that you can decide on the number of draws you want each game. The draw comes after each round of betting and it is the stage where you swap the cards you don’t want for different cards, in the hope that this will improve your five card poker hand.

The betting starts as soon as the first five cards are dealt and then players draw between 1 and 5 cards with another round of betting once the draws are settled. At this point you can either then show your cards to see who has the best hand or have another draw stage and bet again. Most commonly the maximum number of draws used is 3, and the minimum is obviously 1, but as it’s your rules and your game you can all agree on how many draws you want. The more draws, the more rounds of betting. So, 1 draw would be 2 rounds of betting, 2 draws would be 3 rounds of betting, and 3 draws would be 4 rounds of betting.

There are also hand rankings to think about. You can use the standard high card to Royal Flush wins, or you can play what is known as low ball rules. The low ball version of draw means that players can win with the lowest hand and so as a result getting a pair, straight or flush would mean you most likely have the losing hand. The Ace still counts as a high card and the best hand is 2-3-4-5-7 because this is the lowest hand you can get without making a straight, which is a powerful hand in the opposite high ball version of poker.

Wildcards are another option to spice the game up a bit. You can add jokers into the pack or designate a particular denominator as wild cards. This really starts to make the game a lot more exciting as players can pull out all kinds of crazy hand.

Draw is ultimately the easiest game of poker to play when you are in a hostel thanks to its multiple options, and if you get good at the game, you may even earn a little extra travelling cash.