New Zealand takes the crown for 2023




Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

Hey there, JFC-ers

Hopefully you’ve all made it out from underneath last week’s avalanche of sale emails with a few quid left in your pockets.

We’d completely understand if you did find yourself compelled to book a few tantalising flight deals, though - according to a new YouGov survey on behalf of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), our appetite for international travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

To give you some numbers, 63% of the 25,000 people questioned planned to travel abroad for leisure next year, and an impressive 27% planned to take three or more trips in 2023. And with easyJet reporting that peak bookings are looking more like 2019 again, it seems we’re also regaining confidence in following through with our travel plans.

Of course, with so many more destinations available to us than this time last year, what we need are yet more awards lists to help stave off the choice paralysis!

The National Geographic Reader Awards names the top short and long-haul destinations, as well as the best museums, travel shows, tour operators, and more, all as voted for by Nat Geo readers.

The CN Traveller 23 Best Places to Go in 2023, on the other hand, is the product of some kind of travel writer's Hunger Games, where their experts have to pitch and defend their favourite spots to the death. Sounds like our kind of awards.

So where, if anywhere, do the two lists overlap? It just had to be New Zealand - one of the furthest away and priciest destinations to reach. Not only did Auckland take CN Traveller’s top spot, but the country as a whole picked up Nat Geo’s Best Long-Haul award.

As well as the draw of incredible scenery and fascinating Maori culture, it was Aotearoa’s convenient new air connection to New York and three years' worth of investment in swanky new hotels that helped seal the deal. And we suppose the Women’s Football World Cup in July might have something to do with it, too.

Happy travel planning,



Let's take things slow...

Call us psychic, but we’re not overly surprised at the news that most of you are ready to say "Toodle pip!" to the old staycation, and a big fat "Hola!" to international travel.

What we did find a little more (pleasantly) surprising is just how many of us now have sustainable travel on our minds. That same YouGov study we mentioned above also highlights that the majority of us now opt for more sustainable destinations when we’re organising a getaway.

And with the landmark testing of running aeroplane jets on hydrogen this week, it's fair to say that we’re looking at some long-term positive change. But of course, a shift in attitudes and some technological advancements alone won’t cut the mustard - we international jet-setters all need to take a some responsibility.

So, what can we actually do - without hugely inflating our travel costs and compromising on enjoyment - to make our adventures more sustainable and environmentally minded? According to our colleague Marnae, one answer could be to fly less and travel more:

"Do longer trips instead of many, picking smart destinations to use as a hub.

For example, Croatia is only a couple of hours by ferry from Italy, and Paris has high-speed trains to Brussels, Barcelona, and more. You can get home without backtracking by booking an "open-jaw" flight from wherever you end up - it’s likely that your airline (or their partner airlines) will also fly to any larger city you’re looking at, and the price is usually the same as a return flight.

If you’re an open-minded traveller, almost anywhere you go will have another interesting town nearby. Or another country you’ve always wanted to visit just over a border.

For a trip of the same distance, trains’ emissions can be around 60% less than flying, and it’s a scenic and more comfortable way of getting around. Most of Europe and Asia has great networks that are also affordable."

These are fundamental aspects of the slow travel movement, which encourages us to spend less time trying to tick every sight off our bucket list. Instead, we ought to take more time getting to know the people and culture in our destination, and use thoughtful means of transport that won’t harm their environment.

And it doesn't have to be a huge effort - try something as simple as taking advantage of the new combined train and ferry ticket between Ireland and France instead of flying, taking in the changing landscapes as they go by. Or asking a waiter in a Tallinn for pub recommendations instead of looking for TripAdvisor’s #1.

Word to the wise on the latter - this can lead to… well, a rather different experience than you may have imagined. Let’s just say, one shot of the special "millimallikas" was enough to see us right back out the door. But it’s all part of the story.

You don’t need to travel for several weeks or months to adopt a slow travel attitude, either. It’s more about changing how you look at your holidays, no matter how long they are, and considering the impact you have on your destination.

Essentially, don’t be like the woman who climbed a Mexican pyramid just to go viral. Enjoy every minute you’re away, opening your eyes to all that you see between the things you have planned (thankfully, a small list is still allowed).

You can find some really easy tips on making small changes for an altogether more mindful and sustainable trip in this article.

Do you practice slow travel? What have been your favourite experiences so far? Have you run into any major hurdles? Get in touch and let us know via [email protected].

Bhut-how do we get there?

So glad you asked, reader! As it happens, we’ve touched on this before, when we looked at spiritual getaways. But that was last October, and as we all know, a lot can change in a year.

Currently, the most convenient route to Bhutan from the UK, Europe or the USA would be via New Delhi. From there you can pick up a flight to Paro with either Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines, however you will have to book these separate to your India flights. Both airlines also offer routes from Bangkok, Singapore, Kolkata and Kathmandu, so there are several options for turning it into a 2-in-1 trip.

Just keep in mind that Paro did make our list of "Airports You Never Want to Land at" for a good reason…

Or if you’ve been inspired by our slow travel feature (and plan to be in North-East India or Nepal beforehand), you could opt for a lengthy overland trip. It’ll involve several long bus journeys, and some very epic scenery. Definitely one for the travel sickness tablets, though.

But before you run off and book those flights, it’s important to note that the vast majority of international visitors can’t just get a visa and drop in. The government of Bhutan is very strict about who can enter the country, and tends only to approve applications for people who are booked on organised tours.

If you do manage to go, please send us some pictures and tell us all about it!

Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

Good news comes in all sizes this week, as airports in the UK plan to scrap the 100 ml rule for liquids by 2024. The change would also mean that liquids can stay in our hand luggage when going through the scanner - a true relief for anyone who’s ever been caught behind an unprepared traveller at airport security.

Unfortunately, we’ve missed the annual Monkey Feast Festival in the Thai town of Lopburi for another year. The event sees volunteers serve up platters of tasty veg to 4,000 hungry macaques as a way of saying thank you for their contribution to the local tourism industry.

Sounds cute, but once the monkeys have finished their meal, you better make sure all your possessions are safely hidden away.

After last week’s news about potential Border Force strikes, we now have possible airline staff strikes to look forward to over Christmas, too. Keep an eye out for updates from your airline if you’re planning to fly through France, Portugal or the USA in particular..

If you’ve got a bucket list trip to Hawaii coming up, you might have been a bit worried about the eruption of the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, on Sunday night. Thankfully, lava flow isn’t currently posing any threat to residents on the Big Island, however authorities have warned people to be wary of volcanic smog (aka ‘vog’), which can cause burning eyes, headaches and sore throats.

And finally, it’s been a busy week for animal aviation in the USA. First up, a French Bulldog onboard a flight from Orlando to St Louis slipped out of its travel case while its owner napped. Thankfully, one thoughtful fellow passenger filmed the ruckus, so none of us have to miss out.

Secondly, a cat finally reached the next stage in the game of "helping you pack your suitcase," and got as far as the security check at JFK before being sent home. Smells the cat was completely unfazed and unharmed by the whole fiasco, and his owner seemed unperturbed by the fact her fiancé had tried to whisk Smells away.