As the chill begins to set in and the electric bills rise, as the cost of living increases and we start to wake up AND go to bed in the dark, it’s no wonder that many people, particularly those of retirement age, choose to spend winter abroad.
Indeed, one Spanish tourism board, on the Costa Del Sol, proactively claims that Britons may be 'better off' spending winter abroad to escape soaring energy bills. It’s low season, so accommodation costs are generally at their lowest.)
We took a look at destinations, and (short haul flights) Morocco, Cyprus and the Canary Islands are cheap and a bit hotter. However ‘Brexit’ complicates things a little. UK nationals can spend a maximum of 90 days in the EU out of each 180, and may be penalised for overstaying with fines, travel bans and even overnight detentions. Areas on the Red Sea coast seem cheaper. Long distance destinations like Goa, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, the Red Sea coast, and the Caribbean offer guaranteed sunshine, although travel costs there and back will be higher.
But with £298.50 for the average UK household electric bill and rises expected in January, according to the FT, the decision could make sense for pockets as well as for health issues.
Health? The sun sends signals to body and brain to produce more serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’. The absence of sunlight increases production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for feeling tired.
Research has also shown that just an hour of natural light in the morning will help you sleep better. The more daylight exposure our bodies receive, the better the body produces melatonin when it’s time to go to sleep.
Less tired and with better weather, we are more inclined to take walks, play sports, indeed exercise in general. That, and better sleep, will help reduce stress.
Warm weather also opens up the blood vessels, giving the heart a break - it doesn’t have to work as hard. Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body maintain calcium and helps prevent bone conditions.
There are undoubtably many factors in this, but there are also signs of a connection between sunlight in the early morning (just half an hour sometime between 8 a.m. and noon) and weight loss.
Should you decide to take the plunge and head off to sunnier climes for the winter months, a few pointers may ease the way:
Don’t take your bank’s rate automatically. Shop around, especially if, for example, you’ll be exchanging once a month.
Check your home insurance covers you for absence, or for renting out your home if that’s how you’re handling it.
If your home will be empty, consider timers or, better still, smart plugs to make it look occupied. Leave the heating on at a low level to avoid mould and bad smells. Turn the water supply off and drain the pipes to avoid them freezing and bursting. And take a look at what’s outside that could be lifted by high winds while you’re away. Leave keys with someone you trust in an emergency.
Many countries now ask for you to have a minimum amount of time left on your passport before allowing entry.
Many services are available. They often come with pet sitting services, which may be more necessary now, post Brexit, as the cost of taking a pet abroad has increased considerably in many places.
If you are wanting somewhere safe to store precious belongings whilst you’re away, perhaps even to clear a home ready for rental, easyStorage has a team of helpful storage professionals at the end of the phone available to help on 0333 016 4276, and instant quotes are available online, all with no obligation.
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