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STA Travel Blog

12 weird facts about Commonwealth countries

The Commonwealth games have come and gone for another 4 years and what a show it was (the dancing teacakes specifically – we’re still hungry). If you looked at the medal table and saw a travel checklist never fear, we’ve pulled together 12 weird and wonderful facts about the lesser known member states of the Commonwealth, as well as some of the big boys.

Africa? Düsseldorf?

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The Great Snowball Fight of South Africa

This blog comes from Ben Chown, one of our Student Travel Ambassadors at Northumbria University.

Yes you read that correctly: the great snowball fight of South Africa. I was on an incredible expedition which included a 5 day trek through the Drakensberg Mountains, hours of travelling in the back of a pickup truck (legally!), a hippo in the street, meeting new and interesting people, the best barbecues, a 7 hour mountain horseback ride and a day safari through a preserved national park, to name just a few things (I don’t want to bore you). However, none of these experiences – incredible as they were – quite topped the list.

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10 things you need to know about booking your next flight as early as possible

Everybody wants to pay as little as humanly possible for their trip. Why waste cash on expensive flights when you could spend it on, you know, actually travelling? But how can you make sure you’re getting the best deal? Fear not, we’re about to give you a few handy hints and insider info that could help you save a bundle on your next trip.


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Shakedown, Dubai

I’d been through Dubai airport a couple of times before, but I’d never ventured past the (very impressive) airport surroundings. Now, I’m never one to turn down an opportunity for going somewhere new. So when I booked flights for a holiday to India, I decided to take advantage of Emirates’ free stopover policy and spend a few days soaking up the sun and swankiness in Dubai.

I didn’t know much about Dubai at the time. I knew that there’d be guaranteed sunshine. I knew that the city is home to the world’s tallest building (hello, Burj Khalifa); the world’s first 7 star hotel (oh hello to YOU, Burj Al-Arab) and world’s largest shopping mall (stay away from me and my credit card, Dubai Mall).

What I was expecting was a big, showy city, full of modernity and skyscrapers. And I wasn’t disappointed. Think Las Vegas meets Bangkok – a big city in the middle of the desert, without the tackiness and haggling.

Dubai: city of modernity and skyscrapers

But there’s another side to Dubai too. Head north to Bur Dubai and Deira and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, winding your way through spice souks and marvelling at the dhows and agras on the creek, while aromas of South Asian cuisine – a reminder of how multicultural Dubai really is – fill the air.

Dubai really is the perfect place to escape to for some serious relaxing in sunny luxury. If you’re flying with Emirates somewhere long-haul, then you have to stop over for a few days. If you want to escape winter in the UK, then you definitely have to go. Here’s your beginner’s guide to Dubai.

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Why I Volunteer: Helping Communities in South Africa

Jenny Ayre is a Travel Expert working in our Cheltenham store and a few weeks ago she, and other Travel Experts from our other stores in the UK, we’re sent on a trip to South Africa to visit some of the many volunteering projects we support in the country – all in the name of research of course! Now, she’s back and below is her blog, all about her amazing experience and why she believes volunteering is so important.

When I found out STA Travel was sending myself an a few other Travel Experts to South Africa to see some of the amazing volunteer projects we sell and support there, to say I was excited is a understatement.

On our first day we met Candi and Toby, who run the volunteer projects. They took us out to a vineyard for a picnic watching the sunset, absolutely beautiful, and almost instantly, we were all starting to fall in love with Cape Town.

One of Jenny's volunteering group with a child who lives at Jones Safe House.

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