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Rio 2016 Olympics

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All eyes are on Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympics.


With much of this year’s games marred by the Zika virus and severe delays in construction, the Rio 2016 Olympics is now under more pressure than ever to showcase its splendour to a looming influx of both physical and virtual foreign visitors, but if any country knows how to throw a party, it’s Brazil.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Where do the games begin?” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The Rio 2016 Olympics begin on 5th August 2016 and run until the 21st, with 10,500 athletes from 206 countries competing for gold.

This year’s games will see the return of Rugby sevens and Golf after a combined hiatus of 204 years.

The opening ceremony will include the usual formal ceremonial processes such as welcoming messages, hoisting of the Olympic flag and the parade of athletes from different nations. Ireland’s own two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes will fly the flag for Ireland as part of this year’s Opening Ceremony.

While the list of stars set to appear for the Opening and Closing ceremonies has yet to be released, spectators are guaranteed to be entertained by a string of musical and dance performances showcasing the culture of the host nation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Olympic Venues” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”21431″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_accordion style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Barra”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Situated in the coastal south-west of the city, Barra is the main Olympic zone. The Olympic Golf Course is in Barra, just south of the Olympic Park. Barra is also the location of the athletes’ accommodation and the Olympic Beach and Rua Carioca leisure areas.

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To the west of the city, Deodoro Olympic Park is home to nine venues hosting the rugby sevens and the combined sections of the modern pentathlon, the Equestrian Centre, Hockey Centre, Shooting Centre and Mountain Bike and BMX centres.

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Just north of the city centre, Maracanã is the location of the Olympic Stadium as well as the Maracanã Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Both stadiums will host events in soccer, and the Olympic Stadium will host events in track and field athletics.

Maracanã is in the centre of Rio, so depending on where you’re staying, the Olympic venues should be easy to reach on foot or by local bus or train.

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Rio’s famous beach neighbourhood will host the beach volleyball events in an arena at the northern end of the 3km long coastal strip.

Fort Copacabana at the southern end will be the location for the swimming and cycling legs of the triathlons, some road cycling events, the marathon swimming and the Paralympic marathon.

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If you’re visiting Rio during the Olympics and you haven’t yet booked your accommodation you can expect high prices and limited availability.

With up to a million people set to visit Rio during the games, and 80% of the city’s accommodation reportedly already booked by teams, sponsors and officials, options for tourists will be limited.

Many of Rio’s residents are taking the initiative to get out of the city and cash in on renting out their homes.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Places to visit ” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_accordion style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”IPANEMA & COPACABANA”][vc_column_text]The beach made famous in the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s remains one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots today. A long, arcing expanse of soft white sand and rolling waves, Ipanema routinely reaches the top of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists year after year. The beach is bordered by a well-organized grid of shops, cafés and restaurants as well as an array of art galleries, theaters and clubs.

Separated from Ipanema to the west, Copacabana has a more active vibe than its equally famous neighbour.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”CHRIST THE REEDEMER”][vc_column_text]Perched at the top of Corcovado Peak in the Tijuca Forest National Park, the 125-foot statue of Jesus is one of the world’s most iconic sights.

The most popular way to reach the statue is to get a train which takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the top.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Don’t forget basic safety ” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

The excitement of traveling to the Olympics and seeing thousands of foreign visitors can make you forget basic travel safety and ignore advisories.

In particular in the run up to this year’s Olympics, headlines continue to focus on the Brazil’s tumultuous political issues, struggling economy and their battle with the Zika virus.

For those travelling to games its recommend to have travel insurance prior to their trip to protect them in case of sickness, illness, or injury during their travels. Having a travel insurance policy can also be helpful if an unexpected event occurs in which your trip has to be cancelled.



Important Rule for Irish passport-holders Travelling to US

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If you’re jetting off to the United States this summer there is an important rule that Irish passport-holders need to be aware of.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]As of 01 April 2016, all Irish passport-holders who travel to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must have a valid electronic passport. An electronic passport contains a chip, which holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, like your name and date of birth. It also contains a biometric identifier which recognises your distinctive characteristics.

The rule applies even to passport holders who have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]What if I don’t have a valid electronic passport?

You’re still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate; travellers must appear for an interview in the U.S. Embassy beforehand to obtain one of these. If a holiday isn’t on the cards, the U.S. Embassy advise that you still pay the non-immigrant visa application fee, fill out the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application form and schedule a visa appointment. If you have a holiday planned and your situation is a little more urgent, you can request an expedited visa appointment.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]How do I apply for ESTA?

Those travelling to the US can apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) on the official U.S. government website here.  The charge is $14.00 U.S. dollars for any authorized application and $4.00 for any application that is not authorized.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

If you’re driving in the USA check out our guide for some top tips here.

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Europe Uncategorised

Working while on holiday

In a failed attempt to fully escape from the office, one in three adults have admitted to working while on holiday.


An AA Travel Insurance survey of over 5,700 people indicates how difficult it has become to switch off from the daily grind, with 20% of participants confessing to working while on holiday. An additional 13% go one step further saying they make and take work calls despite being on vacation.

The AA research reveals that women appear to be better at disconnecting from their work life than men, with 74% saying they check emails and respond to calls, compared with 85% of men.

The survey also suggests that almost 9 in 10 of us will use a smartphone while on holidays this year. The desire to stay connected with family and friend’s means 82% of holidaymakers will send texts throughout their holidays.

Wanting to photographically capture fleeting moments also appears to be a top priority as 7 in 10 say they will snap pictures while on holidays.

As well as keeping in touch with family and friends while abroad, almost half of travellers say they’ll check in with their circles using instant messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber.

A further 47% of globetrotters will use a map to ensure they don’t get lost, while over 4 in 10 will check in with news and sport at home.

“It appears we are a nation that can’t prise ourselves away from mobile technology even whilst on holidays, despite it being the perfect opportunity to unplug,” says AA Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “Admittedly, I’m no better and am quite partial to checking work emails and taking a phone call or two from my sun-lounger.

“In saying that, having a smartphone to hand while on holidays can be a life-saver, especially if you’re in an emergency situation. Most travel insurers will have an emergency assistance helpline that you can call and in some cases, like ourselves, they’re contactable 24 hours a day. It’s a good idea to make sure you have the number saved in your phone before setting off in the unfortunate

Europe Uncategorised

7 tips to keep your dog happy while driving


Are you ready to create some great summer vacation memories by hitting the road with your canine best friend? Before you load up and get going, follow these 7 tips to keep your dog happy while driving



Before you hit the road, make sure that you have everything you’ll need to keep your dog happy and healthy when travelling in the car. Here’s a list of must-haves:

  • Lead, collar and ID tag:

Make sure your dog has a collar with a tag, and that the contact details are up to date, or that they are micro-chipped. Keep some recent photos with you as well, in case they get lost.

  • Food and water:

Bring along a sufficient supply of water and the food your dog is accustomed to eating. Changing to food that is different from what your dog normally consumes combined with the car’s motion can sometimes leave your dog feeling ill.

  • Practice makes perfect

Get your dog used to travelling with short local trips before your long journey, especially if they’ve previously shown signs of  nervousness when travelling.

  • Doctor’s orders

If possible it’s advisable to take your dog to the vet for a check-up before you hit the road for a long journey. It is also generally advised that very young, very old or ill animals should not be transported. Ask yourself if taking the animal on a long journey is in their best interest?


  • Keep your pet restrained

It is generally recommended that your dog be restrained in a crate or box when driving. This will avoid potential hazards like the animal jumping around and distracting you when driving or getting in the way of pedals, and it will also stop them being thrown around the car in the event of a sudden stop or impact.

  • Take breaks

Make sure you stop regularly so both you and your pet can stretch your legs. Let them enjoy some fresh air and water. Take note of their behaviour in the car, if they start whining, it might be time for a quick bathroom break.

tips to keep your dog happy while driving


  • Overheating isn’t just a car problem

Do not leave your pets in the car on their own for more than a few minutes if you have to leave the vehicle. Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise extremely quickly. Make sure fresh, cool air is available while you drive as animals get hot a lot quicker than we do. Letting your pet stick their head out the window isn’t necessarily a “fresh air” experience for them. Their hearing can be damaged by the wind and they risk bugs and dirt flying into their eyes.

For those of you looking to venture overseas taking a pet with you to another country is often a complicated and time-consuming process, and you should do careful research before embarking on this costly process. Click here to find out more about the necessary requirements for travel to and from EU and specified other non-EU European countries.






Going it alone: The AA’s guide to female solo travel

Travelling solo can seem daunting from the comfort of your home. What happens if I get stranded somewhere? Will I be safe? Will I make friends? Our infographic is here to provide some practical tips for solo female travellers


Over the last few years, travel companies and websites geared toward female travellers have become one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry with more and more updating their packages and facilities to cater for the budding “solo traveller”.

For many, traveling on your own can be a daunting prospect but with the right research, planning and common sense, the sky is the limit for any burgeoning globe-trotters.

What’s more, it can open doors that you may not have ever thought possible.

While some of the most popular destinations for solo travel among women are in Europe, there’s nothing stopping you venturing further afield once your adequately prepared. Why not take a look here at our top 4 destinations for solo travellers to visit.

Admittedly while there is a greater risk for women traveling alone, as often there are many different sets of cultural expectations or experiences around the world geared towards women, solo travel as a whole has potential pitfalls for both genders.

Remember wherever you’re headed don’t simply rely on the internet for recommendations.

Speak to reliable locals, such as your hotel concierge or a local tourism office, to find out exactly which parts of town are safe for solo female travellers.

Similarly, it’s important to be covered by insurance when you travel, especially if you’re traveling solo. Though it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to use it, if you do have an accident, you’ll be glad to have the additional protection.

While solo travel can be intimidating, doing things alone can be immensely therapeutic- a solo meal can help you really appreciate food; a solitary walk can be a rare opportunity to think; and travelling by yourself can be an incredible opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.

You’ll be all the more inspired and strengthened by the journey.

Check out our infographic below for some practical tips for solo female travellers:


guide to female solo travel