5 top tips for keeping fit and healthy on holiday

Ah, holiday time. A chance to leave the stressful everyday routine behind and spend a few weeks indulging in endless food, drink, sun and relaxation.

But you don’t have to completely neglect your health and fitness while you’re away. Check out our 5 top tips for how to stay in great shape during your villa break, while still kicking back and enjoying yourself.

  1. Eat mindfully

It’s hard to resist the lure of all the tasty cuisine on offer when we’re on holiday. Who could say no to another cooling scoop of that delicious gelato? But if you want to still fit into your favourite jeans when you get home, you’ll need eat consciously rather than on autopilot.

So balance out those naughty treats with healthier choices. Savour rather than scoff each mouthful. Don’t pile your plate too high. And instead of dining out every day, why not stay at your villa and whip up a wholesome feast with fresh produce from the local market?

  1. Go easy on the booze

It’s not just holiday food that can wreak havoc with your waistline. Alcohol also packs a calorific punch and too many tipples will quickly pile on the pounds. What’s more, it can make you pee more often and lead to dehydration – which is bad news if you’re in a hot climate.

Instead of downing lots of drinks at once, pace yourself and try not to exceed the recommended maximum of 14 units a week. And if you’re watching your weight, choose your drinks wisely and consider swapping that calorie-laden wine or beer for a skinnier spritzer or shandy.

  1. Keep active

After an exhausting few months at home, it’s tempting to spend all of your well-earned break lazing and lounging in the sun. But by staying active for some of the time, you’ll keep your fitness levels up and burn off those extra calories too.

Why not swim a few lengths of your villa’s private pool? Have a rally on your private tennis court? Or get out and explore the local area on foot or by bike? Just be careful to avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

  1. Stay hydrated

We all know we should be drinking eight glasses of water a day. And it’s even more important to get plenty of H2O while holidaying in the heat, as dehydration can lead to nasties like headaches, nausea, dizziness and even heatstroke.

To keep your water levels topped up, make sure you always carry a bottle with you and take regular slurps even if you don’t feel thirsty. You could also munch on yummy snacks with a high water content, like watermelon or cucumber.

  1. Protect yourself from the sun

Most of us can’t wait to escape the typical British weather and soak up some rays in warmer climes. But too much UV light is is hazardous to our health, causing painful skin burns and even cancer.

To enjoy the sunshine safely, generously apply a good high factor sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply this regularly throughout the day. And when the sun is at its strongest, it’s best to seek out shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover up with loose-fitting clothing.

We’ve Got Wimbledon Fever

It’s time to pour the Pimms and bring out the strawberries – the nation’s favourite tennis tournament is here once more! If you’re feeling inspired to dust off your racket and perfect your backhand, here are some of our holiday villas with tennis courts available to book this and next summer.

 

Villas with tennis courts available for summer 2019

Villa Horizon, Chania, Crete

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This amazing 7-bedroomed property can be found to the northwest of Crete. With two self-contained living areas and spacious grounds, it’s the ideal choice for large groups. You’ll find sleek contemporary furnishings, a pergola for alfresco dining and a floodlit grass tennis court where you can challenge your friends and family to a match. Not to mention the heated pool and truly special setting with fabulous sea views.

Many beaches are within easy reach, including the sandy Kalathas Beach a short 5-minute car ride away. Or venture a just little further afield to the romantic historical town of Chania and wander around its pretty Venetian harbour, bustling indoor market and narrow alleyways.

Villa L’Aresta, Puerto Pollensa, Majorca

If you’re looking for secluded countryside charm, you can’t go wrong with Villa L’Aresta in northwest Majorca. This fantastic 5-bedroomed property combines traditional décor with spectacular views of the Tramuntana Mountains. And when you’ve finished relaxing in the lawned garden, you can work off all that excess energy with a dip in the swimming pool or a rally on the private tennis court.

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Just a 5-minute drive away is the picturesque resort of Puerto Pollensa, with its lovely marina, sandy beach and scenic Pine Walk along the waterfront. Or you can make a trip to neighbouring historical Alcúdia where you’ll discover cobbled streets and fun-filled water park!

 

Villas with tennis courts available for summer 2020

 Villa Apanemia Mare, Boukari, Corfu

This modern 3-bedroom property lies in the peaceful village of Boukari in southeast Corfu. Just a few steps away from a shingle beach, it boasts contemporary furnishings, a spacious mature garden and wonderful views over the glittering Ionian Sea. Not only that, but there’s a stunning infinity pool – perfect for cooling off after working up a sweat on the private tennis court.

You’ll find shops, bars and tavernas aplenty at Boukari’s harbour, which is only a short walk away. Or hop in the car for a 10-minute drive to the pretty traditional village of Chlomos.

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Villa Caminho, Almancil, Algarve

Located in the Algarve’s affluent Golden Triangle, this impressive 7-bedroomed villa in Portgual’s southernmost region has it all. You can sunbathe in the extensive gardens, make a splash in the swimming pool or cook up a sizzling storm with the brick BBQ. And if you feel like unleashing your inner Federer or Nadal, you can do so on your very own private tennis court.

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There’s plenty to do nearby, too. Vale do Lobo, one of the Algarve’s most luxurious and chic resorts, is the perfect place for a spot of shopping, an indulgent meal or a round of golf. Or take a daytrip to the traditional town of Loulé and soak up the authentic Portuguese atmosphere.

 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Browse our whole range of holiday villas with tennis courts.

The 3 most Instagrammable destinations in Europe

Are you an Instagram lover deciding where to book your next villa holiday? Look no further than our top three most photogenic destinations in Europe. Rent a holiday villa at one of these Insta-worthy locations and you’ll get incredible #nofilter shots that’ll make your followers wish they were there.

 1. Cala St Vicente, Majorca

 

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Want to fill your feed with picturesque charm? You can’t go wrong with a villa holiday in Cala St Vicente. Nestled in a hillside on Majorca’s northwestern coast, this quiet traditional fishing village is the perfect choice for a peaceful and scenic getaway.

Head to Cala Barques, the largest of the four unspoilt cove beaches, for photographic paradise. With golden sand contrasting against the azure Mediterranean water, you’re guaranteed to get some dazzling shots. There are fascinating rock pools to discover too.

After you’ve uploaded your last snap, why not continue soaking up the view from one of the local seafood restaurants? Or if you’re feeling more energetic, explore the surrounding area by taking a walking or cycling trail through the spectacular Tramuntana Mountains.

 

 2. Carvoeiro, Algarve

 

Carvoeiro Beach

For picture-perfect coastal character in the Algarve, a relaxing villa holiday in Carvoeiro is just the ticket. An ideal family destination, this traditional Portuguese resort town is bursting with cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, great shops and fantastic eateries.

But the jewel in Carvoeiro’s crown is Praia do Carvoeiro, one of the most stunning beaches in the region. This gorgeous sandy bay is flanked by imposing sandstone cliffs and dotted with fishing paraphernalia. It’s sure to have you instantly reaching for your camera.

To enjoy breathtaking panoramic views over the dramatic coastline, take a clifftop stroll along the wooden walkway from the beach’s eastern end. You’ll end up in Algar Seco, a series of impressive limestone rock formations where you can get even more snap happy.

 

3. French Riviera, France

 

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It’s easy to see why we’ve added the French Riviera to our range of destinations this year. This enchanting part of southeastern France boasts quaint villages, sun-kissed beaches, glamorous cities, delectable cuisine and much more.

But if you’re looking to capture photos that’ll totally wow your Instagram followers, set off for the Valensole Plateau. Famous for its 800km² of lavender fields, you can point your lens at endless violet carpets while delighting in the intoxicating scent that fills the air.

To marvel at the best blooms, you’ll need to make sure your French Riviera villa holiday falls between mid-June and mid-July. Visit Valensole during daylight to get a magical snap of the vibrant purple flowers against the blue sky. Or arrive in the evening to capture a glorious sunset shot that’ll send your likes soaring.

 

Want extra inspiration for your next villa holiday? Check out our Instagram for even more European destinations that you and your camera will love.

Overpacking For Holidays

Do you travel light or tend to over-prepare? We reveal the packing habits of UK holidaymakers, revealing the most popular items we like to cram in.

 

How do you tackle packing for holidays? Some of us will get started weeks in advance, while others will still be stuffing bits in as we walk out the door. From changeable weather forecasts to the length of our stay and the type of holiday, there’s a lot to factor in!

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The majority of us do tend to overdo it, however. Here at Villa Plus, we found in a survey that more than 60% of Brits overpack for our holidays, while the rest of us prefer to travel with the bare minimum.

But what exactly are we cramming into our suitcases?

Our top overpacked items

Unsurprisingly the top thing we pile in is clothes, followed by shoes, toiletries, makeup and books. Just under 8% of holidaymakers go big with gadgets, while 6.6% admit to bringing too much food and drink from home. Handbags and hair accessories also make the list.

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Of those items, we typically overpack with six unnecessary clothing items, five additional bits of food and drink and five extra makeup products. Four supplementary toiletries find their way into our bags, while three is the magic bonus number for our shoes, books and gadgets. We also admit to travelling with two handbags and two hair accessories that we don’t need.

Home comforts

Whereabouts in the world are you heading to next? Whilst trying new cuisines is a key part of many of our trips away, we still like to bring a few essentials from home.

The top items we take are Heinz tomato ketchup, vinegar and Hellmann’s mayonnaise; but we can’t miss out on our Cadbury’s chocolate and tea bags either.

Is there a gender divide?

Packing can lead to arguments, especially when it comes to who’s taking up more room in the suitcase. We found that women tend to be worse than men for overpacking, though more men will overdo it on clothing, books and gadgets.

While it’s good to be prepared for every situation, 39% of women travel with too many pairs of shoes, compared to 22% of men.

A battle of the ages

Does packing knowhow come with age? It certainly looks like it, with 75% of 18-to 24-year-olds overpacking for their holidays; the highest percentage of any age group to do so. The same group also regularly overestimate their reading speed, with 13% packing too many books.

Moving up the age range, 25-to 34-year-olds are the worst for overpacking toiletries, gadgets, handbags and food and drink items.

However, it seems the older we get the more outfit changes we like to make. Those aged between 34 and 55 consistently squeeze in surplus shoes, while 98% of the over 65s pack too many clothes.

Location, location, location  

Are you setting off on your travels from Leeds, Bristol or Edinburgh? There’s a good chance you could be overpacking – residents in these three cities cram more in than anywhere else in the UK. Those hailing from Nottingham and Sheffield aren’t far behind, with 70% and 71% respectively travelling heavy.

A city better known for its hills than its garments, Edinburgh is the worst offender for overpacking on clothing, tied with Belfast. Northern Ireland’s capital is also the worst for overdoing it on shoes, while those from Norwich are most prone to taking an extra handbag or two.

Pushing washbags and makeup bags to their very limit are Cardiff and Belfast, with Cardiff residents also fitting in unnecessary hairdryers and straighteners. Bristolians are the biggest readers, while those in Edinburgh can’t resist travelling with extra gadgets. Glaswegians are the most committed to their own tastes, with 14% overpacking food and drink items.

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Do you overpack for your holidays, or prefer to leave room for souvenirs? Whatever your style, you’re sure to have a good time.

Healthy Happy Villas

Do you let your hair down on holiday or do you prefer to pace yourself? Villa Plus looks at how wild we go when we get away from it all.

What do you look for in a holiday? Some of us are seeking sun-filled days and nights of bar hopping, while others prefer a quiet break soaking up the local culture. Perhaps you love adrenaline-fuelled activities or just enjoy exploring a new country.

Holidays give us the opportunity to relax, unwind and let our hair down for a few days. But just how much do you over-indulge and let loose while you’re away from home?

Here at Villa Plus, we wanted to find out what we’re getting up to during our trips abroad. To get the full story, 1,000 British tourists revealed their holiday habits. Here’s what they told us…

Every Penny Counts

Our survey revealed that we tend to overindulge during an all-inclusive holiday. When everything’s paid for upfront, we want to make sure we’re getting the best value for our money, with three-quarters of us eating more than we usually would on this type of getaway. This is because items aren’t paid for individually.

Overall, we found that men are most likely to go all-out at an all-inclusive resort. A whopping 80% admitted they make the most of the food and drink on offer because they’ve already paid for it. Only 71% of women are likely to do this.

Also, we found that, in general, women like to have more control over their meals while they’re away. Just 29% say they eat more than usual during a self-catering holiday – they put this down to having total control over the food they prepared, so these tourists are making the most of being able to choose exactly what they’re eating.

Those in the 25 to 34 age bracket are the biggest fans of self-catering breaks, with 31% saying they would eat more during this type of holiday. Interestingly, the 35 to 44-year-olds in the next age group up are most likely to want their money’s worth. Here, 80% admitted to overindulging on the food and drink on offer at an all-inclusive resort.

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Take Your Time

Although there are plenty of us who love to enjoy our pre-paid holiday to the max, many of us slow things down once the plane touches down. In fact, over half (58%) eat less.

When it comes to who eats more, in general, men are more likely than women to enjoy tucking into meals on holiday. There isn’t a huge difference in numbers, however, with 44% of men compared with 41% of women stating they will probably eat more.

We found that food plays less of a role in our holiday as we get older. Those in the 18 to 24 age group are most likely to gain some weight during their stay, and over half (53%) said they tend to eat more on holiday. In contrast, most over-55s (65%) are eating less when they go away.

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Holidaymakers from Leeds are most likely to need to get back into good eating habits after a trip abroad. Over half (57%) revealed they overindulge while they’re taking a few days off.

Cardiff residents weren’t far behind, with 55% eating more on holiday. Londoners came in at number three (47%).

Follow Your Gut

Over three million Brits book their holiday based on the destination’s local cuisine. We found that over one in 10 (12%) 18 to 24-year-olds follow this pattern, while Bristolians are the biggest foodie tourists in the UK, with 17% basing their chosen destination around the food on offer.

Some are choosing their holidays because food tastes better in the country from which they originate. For example, one respondent said they go to the Greek Islands because the ingredients ‘just don’t taste the same if you buy them at home.’ Similarly, another survey respondent said they’d opted to book a trip to Italy because there are food options for the whole family.

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Go for It!

While many of us are booking our breaks with food in mind, there are still plenty of us who are a little less adventurous during mealtime on holiday. In fact, almost three-quarters (70%) are sticking to what we know while we’re away.

Over a quarter (28%) are changing their eating habits, however. This can range from small things, such as having candyfloss as a treat, to larger dietary rule-breaking like tucking into pizza despite being gluten-free back home.

Some of us are doing healthier things, however. One respondent said they don’t eat salad at home. When it comes to alcohol, we’re a little less well-behaved. Some admitted to drinking three and even four-times as much as they do at home, and many said this is largely because there’s no work or other responsibilities to worry about.

Whether you’re off on an all-inclusive or you’ve opted for a self-catering stay, you’re sure to kick back and relax. But will you follow the trend by indulging in tasty treats while you’re away or will you pace yourself to avoid having to hit the gym when you get back?

Taking Children Out of School for a Holiday

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Have you ever been tempted to take the kids out of school to take them on the trip of a lifetime? Perhaps work commitments get in the way, you’ve found an amazing mid-term deal on a holiday to Spain, or maybe there’s a package on a family getaway to France that you just can’t pass up.

As we start to think about where we’re off to on our travels in 2019, the debate about whether it’s ever ok to go on holiday with your children during term time is starting up again – and according to our research, it’s one that doesn’t seem to be settling any time soon.

At Villa Plus, we asked 2,000 British parents to see what the general consensus seems to be now. Here’s what everyone’s saying about running the risk of fines for a family break.

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The Big Getaway Debate

If you think it’s fine to take the kids away for a little break, you’re not alone. When it comes to taking our children out of school during term time for a holiday, almost three-quarters (70%) of the parents we asked think it’s ok to take our children out of school during term time for a family getaway.

Timing-wise, over a quarter (26%) say that a getaway of up to seven days is an acceptable length of time to keep them out of school, while a surprisingly high 14% think taking them away for seven to 14 days is ok.

Most parents who are happy to book their holidays mid-way through the school term say they do so because they don’t have a choice when they take holidays and also because it’s cheaper to book at this time. In addition, many said that travel is just as important as education and a few days doesn’t hurt.

However, those who are opposed have their reasons for holding off until the school holidays to book their break. These parents believe children have enough holidays and that too much learning is missed if they are taken out of school. According to them, the only acceptable time to keep the kids off during the school term is for medical reasons or bereavements.

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Challenging Times

While many of us are in favour of going on holiday during term-time, with a whopping 100% of parents in Sheffield saying it’s fine, almost half (46%) would challenge a fine for doing so.

In addition, the numbers of those who would query a fine vary across the UK. In Bristol, 75% wouldn’t think to challenge a fine while over half (58%) in Cardiff and over a quarter (37%) of those in Leeds would.

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The Grand Getaway

Interestingly, the over-65s are the most lenient age bracket who are happy to take their child out for up to 14 days (50%). Their younger counterparts aren’t so sure, however.

We found that 19% of 35 to 44-year-olds and 32% of 55 to 64-year-olds think it’s never acceptable. With these stats in mind, it looks like grandparents may have to spend some time convincing their children that they can take the grandkids away.

Only 42% of those aged over 65 would challenge a fine, though. This implies that the older generation are happy to foot the bill if it means they can get away with the children.

Would you allow your own child or children to take time off from their studies to go away with grandma or to spend some quality family time with you all? Would you challenge a fine for doing so or would you accept it as part of the risk of taking them out for a week or so?

Baby-friendly villa holidays: everything you need to know

If you’re a parent going on a villa holiday with infant children, you’re in for a treat. Swimming pools, beaches and all the other attractions on offer make for treasured memories which you’ll always share. Before you book anything, though, it’s important to think about how to make the most of baby-friendly villa holidays. Keep a few simple precautions in mind and you’ll be fully prepared for a wholly enjoyable family getaway.

Think about the location

The first step in planning a baby-friendly villa holiday is finding a location suitable for your child’s needs. Staying in the centre of a popular resort town can be great for restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, but it’s more likely to be noisy come sundown.

Look for a rural property located close to a town or resort. You should also consider staying somewhere near the beach, that way you’re all set for long sunny afternoons spent making sandcastles and paddling in the shallows – just make sure they wear plenty of sun cream and are supervised at all times!

Book a suitable villa

Scout out a rental with a gated pool. You should always keep an eye on your child when they’re near water, but having a fenced-off pool puts a much-needed extra safety precaution in place.

If you’re planning on spending some time on the beach, check that the villa has space to store buckets, spades and inflatables. That way, you’ll be able to really enjoy the surrounding coastline.

Pack all the necessities

When you’re travelling with a baby or young child, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of what you’re going to need when abroad. This is particularly important if you’re leaving home for the first time since your little one was born. It can be all too easy to forget essential items, then not realise that you need them until you’ve boarded the flight!

Double check you’ve remembered things like baby monitors, changing mats, non-slip bathmats, plastic cutlery and bowls, a nightlight and cot linens. Bring a small supply of nappies, too. Foreign countries do sell these, but you can do no harm by bringing along a few extra in case it takes you a while to find a nearby supermarket.

Before you fly back, cross-check your own list against what the villa supplies to avoid returning home with the wrong baby accessories!

Scout out the property

After arriving at your villa, spend a little time scoping out the house and making yourself (and everyone else) aware of the new surroundings.

Once you’re settled and enjoying the holiday, be extra cautious around the pool. Supervise your young one at all times when they’re in the water – preferably by going in with them. Keep the gates locked whenever you’re not using the pool, and make sure your little ones are wearing the correct floatation devices and enough waterproof sun lotion.

Last but not least? Relax and have fun! Once you’ve planned sufficiently, you can savour all the precious moments of a gorgeous family holiday.

Stuck on where to holiday with your baby? Take a look at destinations catered for by Villa Plus.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Holiday safety tips for villas with toddlers

Few things top the freedom that a self-catered holiday gifts your family, especially if you’re travelling with toddlers. Not only can you come and go as you please, cook for yourself and indulge in true privacy, holiday villas tend to come complete with either pools, hot tubs and balconies (and sometimes all three!). To get the very most out of your getaway, be vigilant and ensure that the kids enjoy these facilities too – safely.

We’ve compiled a list of holiday safety tips that will help put your mind at ease, leaving you to relish in your villa holiday and create memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Scope out poolside railings

Before you book anywhere, browse the options available to see what is suitable for your family. Look for a property with a gated pool. These fences are a great way of ensuring no one takes a dip when they’re not expecting it.

While these guarantee a certain degree of safety, they’re no match for the human eye. Keep watch whenever your children are using the pool, either from the side or right in midst of all the swimming pool fun!

Familiarise yourself with fire safety rules

A good holiday villa will be kitted out with the fire safety essentials – a smoke detector, fire extinguisher/blanket and emergency numbers. When you arrive, make sure you know where they all are. After you’ve done that, take a few minutes to explain to your children what they are for. This’ll help to make them experts on fire safety, whether they’re on holiday or back home!

Keep safe by the pool

A private pool is fantastic for keeping kids happy during the daylight hours, but it’s always wise to lay down some ground rules before jumping in. Don’t let children into the water unsupervised, and always have the non-swimmers wearing armbands.

If you’re lucky enough to have an infinity pool, be aware that different rules apply. You can’t use inflatables, and you should tell your children never to sit or lean against the edge.

Fight off sunburn

It’s vital to keep your children – and yourself, for that matter – protected from sunburn. In a foreign country, the sun’s rays can be a lot stronger than you’re used to, even on cloudy days.

Before going outside, apply water-resistant sun lotion that’s at least factor 30 (50 is usually recommended for babies and toddlers), and make sure it’s on their skin for 20 minutes before leaving the villa. Have them wear sunglasses, a hat and a UV suit if the sun is particularly strong.

Avoid silly accidents

Make sure your children dry themselves thoroughly before going inside after a swim. That way your floors will stay dry, and no one will be having any unexpected tumbles! Remind your little ones not to run in the house, and make them fully aware of any transparent glass doors. After all, who wants the embarrassment of walking into one face first?

Villa holidays have all the right ingredients for fun family bonding time. Browse Villa Plus options, and find accommodation best suited to you and your loved ones.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.