Passport fees, fast track guide and how to beat the passport backlog

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What’s the problem?

Over half a million people have been caught up in the UK passport issue/renewal backlog. In the last three months the numbers have doubled with thousands of passports now taking longer to issue than the recommended three weeks.

Why the delays?

The passport office has received 3.3 million applications in the first five months of this year. 300,000 more applications than it usually does. This has had a knock on effect with the issuing of passports.

How long should it take to renew a passport?

Under normal circumstances it should take approximately three weeks to renew a British passport. New passports can take up to six weeks.

How long is it currently taking?

Currently it is taking four to eight weeks to renew a British passport and 12 weeks for new passports.

How much do standard passports cost?

It cost £72.50 to renew a standard adult passport or £81.25 if you use the Post Office’s Passport Check and Send service. Child passports cost £46.00 or £54.75 respectively.

You can make an appointment at the Passport Customer Service Centre to arrange a premium or fast track one week service. You will need to call the passport advice line to arrange this.

The premium service enables you to receive your passport within 4 hours of your application being accepted. You must collect it from one of the Passport Customer Service Centres. This service costs £128.

The fast track one week service will mean that your passport will be sent to your home address within one week of your application being accepted. Please note you will need to sign for the delivery of your passport. This service costs £103.

Urgent travel upgrades

Those living in the UK will be able to upgrade their passport applications free of charge. To qualify your application must have been with the Passport Office longer than the standard three weeks processing time and through no fault of the individual.

To qualify:

• The Passport Office must have had their application for longer than three weeks, the standard processing time for renewals.
• Adults applying for their first passport will be excluded unless they have valid compassionate grounds for needing to travel.
• People must be booked to travel within the next seven days.
• Delays to their applications must be “through no fault of their own”. If someone has filled in their form incorrectly or not provided the right information they will not benefit.
• The scheme takes effect immediately but is temporary and is not retrospective.

What to do if your passport has not arrived and you’re about to travel

You should get in touch with the Passport Office and ask for an update on your application. If you have been waiting longer than the standard three week processing time ask to be upgraded to the premium one day service. If you feel you are not getting the help you need, get in touch with your local MP and ask them to request an investigation into your application. We are finding that applications are being processed more efficiently once an MP has been involved.

If I need to cancel a holiday can I claim on my travel insurance?

You will not be able to claim on your travel insurance as most travel insurance policies only cover the loss of a passport.

What happens if I have to cancel my holiday?

If you need to cancel your holiday you must contact us as soon as possible.

Guide to cancellation charges:

• 14 – 0 days before travel you would lose 100% of the booking price
• 15 – 21 days before travel you would lose 90% of the booking price
• 22 – 35 days before travel you would lose 70% of the booking price

We do not recommend you book a holiday until you receive your passport. Please make sure that your passport is valid before confirming your holiday.

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Travel Alert – New Security Checks Introduced into Airports

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Charging point in airport

Last week a statement was released by The Department of Transport regarding the increased security measures at UK airports. “On 2 July we announced we were stepping up some of our aviation security measures. In line with the US advice, passengers on some routes into and out of the UK may now also be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are powered up or face not being allowed to bring the device onto the aircraft. Passengers flying into or out of the UK are therefore advised to make sure electronic devices being carried in their hand luggage are charged before they travel.”

Why do I need to turn on my phone and electrical devices?

A new type of explosive that can go undetected in batteries has reportedly been designed. You need to be able to prove that your phone contains a normal working battery.

What do I need to do at the airport?

You need to make sure all electrical items are charged or you will be denied boarding, or face leaving your electrical items behind. Some airports now have charging points, so it is advisable to carry your chargers in your hand luggage just in case.

What electrical items do I need to keep charged?

Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, iPads, e-books, MP3 players, electrical shavers, hair straighteners and any other electrical equipment that you carry in your hand luggage needs to be charged so that if you are asked by airport security, you are able to turn them on and prove they are in working order.

When and where will these checks take place?

For security reasons it has not been publicised where and when these checks will take place. Thomson Airways are advising passengers to keep mobile phones switched on until they board the flight as additional checks are being made at the boarding gate. This means any electrical items bought in duty free must be charged, too.

Does this mean delays at the airport?

Although delays have not been predicted, it is advisable to allow yourself some more time at the airport, due to increased security checks. Are you still looking for a last minute deal? Check out our sizzling summer prices at Latedeals.

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Holiday Tips With Teenagers Part 2 – Teen Friendly Hotels and Apartments

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Teenage Friends Following on from Top 8 holiday tips with teenagers part 1 blog, I have compiled a list of hotels and apartments that have facilities for teens. I hope this will help you decide where to take them.

  • India – Goa (Majorda) Alila Diwa Goa (Teen Zone)         Teen at tropical swimming pool
  • Dominican Republic – Royalton Punta Cana (Bavaro) (Teen Club 13 – 17 year olds)
  • Jamaica – Royalton White Sands (Trelawny) (Hotel run teen club 13 – 17 year olds)
  • Teen in CreteCyprus – Louis Phaethon Beach Club (Paphos) (Teen activities)
  • Cyprus – Hotel Annabelle (Paphos) (Hotel run teen club for 12 –17 year olds)
  • Crete – Hotel Cretan Park (Malia) (Teen club 13 –17 year olds)

teen boy on beach

  • Portugal – Hotel Pestana Porto Santo (Porto Santo)  (Teen club 13 –17 year olds)
  • Lanzarote –Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort (Playa Blanca) (lots of organised sports for teens)
  • Gran Canaria –ClubHotel Riu Gran Canaria Meloneras)  (Teen club for13-17 year olds)

boy surfing

  • Costa Brava – Golden Taurus Park Resort (Pineda)  (Teen activity programme)
  • Madeira – Reid’s Palace (Funchal) (Hotel run teen club)
  • Turkey –Hotel Turquoise (Side) (Teens club 13 – 16 year olds)



  • teen girl with friendsSharm El Sheikh  – Sensatori Sharm El Sheikh (Adventure programme teen club)
  • Thomson Spirit Cruise Ship (Teen area and video arcade)
  • Thomson Majesty Cruise Ship (Teen video arcade)


Some clubs and activities run all year and some are seasonal, so double check they are running when planning your holiday.

People jumping a beachOf course there are many other properties and resorts that have facilities suitable for your teenagers. Some teens may not be interested in clubs, so you’ll probably find it more worthwhile looking for somewhere that has an activity or location that caters to their hobbies such as football or tennis.

Have you been to any teen-friendly properties or know of any that aren’t listed?

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How did sandcastle art become the best? Find out.

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Do you remember your first family holiday to the beach as a child, playing in the sand with a bucket and spade in hand? You could let your imagination run wild and build the most impressive sandcastle complete with a moat. Great memories, right? For most of us, this was just some fun we had every time we headed to the beach, but for others this is a skill that has been perfected over the years.

Check out these impressive sandcastles 

1. Levante Beach, Benidorm

Take a stroll along the seafront as you find masterpieces dotted along the promenade. The attention to detail is amazing and we can only imagine how long they must have taken to build.


The Last Supper, Levante Beach

2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

With 35 miles of sandy beaches, finding sand for the sculptures isn’t a problem. Head down to the beach to see the artists in action. It’s an incredible sight to watch them sculpt, pat and pile the sand, knowing something remarkable will come of it.


Puerto Vallarta

3. Pera, Portugal

Known as the city of sand, you’re instantly met by recognisable idols from the big screen. Keep an eye out for the 30 foot Marilyn Monroe which stands tall next to Charlie Chaplin and Liza Minnelli. Now, take a look at these photos – they are exceptionally lifelike.

portugal sand festival

Portugal Sand Festival

4. Bourgas, Bulgaria

Visiting Bulgaria in July and looking for something different? Make sure you grab yourself a ticket to this festival of sand sculptures. Here mermaids, pirates and other magical creatures are crafted.


Sand Sculpture, Bulgaria

5. Bay of Bengal, India

The World Cup fever has taken over and the artist Sudarshan Pattnaik has created some special football-inspired pieces. If making a stadium wasn’t enough, Pattnaik has sculpted the World Cup trophy and football as a good luck gesture for all teams competing.

A man with his camel walks near a sand sculpture of 2014 World Cup, created by Indian sand artist Pattnaik at a beach in Puri

Fifa World Cup 2014, India

Have you seen some quirky sand art? Comment below.

Images licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Last Supper by Ask Sister Mary Martha

Images licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sand Sculpture by

Images licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fiesa 2009 by Wikipedia

Images licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sand Sculpture by Uroboros

Images licensed under CC BY 2.0

World Cup 2014 by The Straits Times, Asia Report

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Top 8 Holiday Tips With Teenagers Part 1

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summer holidays and teenage Teenagers are one of the most difficult age groups to please when choosing a holiday they’ve reached the age where they want to be independent from their parents, and yet you still need to make sure they are safe and happy. I have a 16 year old so I understand how challenging it can be to find something to keep everybody happy, however we always manage to have really good family holidays, so, here are my tips on how to enjoy a holiday with teens.

1. Waterparks are great if you are travelling in a family with mixed ages. They can all enjoy themselves on the slides and it is a good bonding experience with younger siblings. family using laptop

2. Another good tip is to involve them in the planning of the holiday. Ask them where they would like to go and what they want from the holiday. Let them help you decide on a holiday that will suit the whole family – this will make them feel more grown up, and they’ll appreciate you recognising that they are not young children anymore.

3. My teen never shows the same enthusiasm as me when going on holiday, so I try to build up her excitement by doing a plan of action. A couple of weeks before we go I start looking at trips and activities that we can do and we plan together what we like and ones we can afford to do once we are there. Holiday snapshots

4. You can also make use of any interests they may have. For example if they are good photographers you can make them official photographer of the holiday, if they like music they can create a playlist to listen to on the music player or if they are into fashion they can help with planning the holiday wardrobes. Whatever it is, you can find a way to get them involved.

5. It is good to set some ground rules before your holiday, so that you as parents can explain to them what you expect from them and give them the opportunity to say what they expect from you. This way you know what may embarrass them and they have had prior warning on what they can and can’t do. Holiday shopping

6. Trade activities – On family holidays it is difficult to organise trips and activities to please everyone once you are there. When I go away with my family, we agree before hand to organise and plan our activities. For example, if I want to go shopping and my daughter wants to go swimming, we comprise and do one activity in the morning and the other in the afternoon. This way we still get quality time together and are both happy.

7. When the kids are little it is fine to let them share a room with their parents, but as teens this may become awkward. If possible try to book a separate room for older teens but if you not comfortable with this or if they are younger teens then a good idea is to book a hotel that provides family rooms with sliding partitions. Apartments are a great solution as they generally have a separate bedroom and then a lounge area with sofa bed or pull out bed. Lagoon Studios and Apartments in Corfu for example have 2 bedroomed apartments that sleep 5  Volleyball on the beach

8. Not ideal for everybody, but it may be worth allowing them to take along a friend. Taking a friend will give them a chance to get excited together and they will be less likely to say they are bored once they are on holiday.                 


Remember a holiday with teenagers does not have to be a challenge. It is a perfect way to spend quality time with them and a refreshing change to them spending time on their laptops and games consoles. My daughter and I enjoy our family holidays together and we come home with lots of good memories and stories to tell. Travel is also a great educator. People jumping a beach Tell us about your experiences travelling with teens? Do you have any tips?

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