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Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Train trips across Europe.

Nervous about crowded airports and planes? Then try the train for your next holiday.

Specialist tour companies are busy booking a mix of small-group tours and independent train trips to the most colourful corners of Europe, with travellers enjoying plenty of room on board and the chance to stretch their legs with a trip to the buffet car.

A flight-free trip to the Netherlands in April arranged by Railtrail Tours includes a visit to the bulbfields of Keukenhof

A flight-free trip to the Netherlands in April arranged by Railtrail Tours includes a visit to the bulbfields of Keukenhof 

The Railtrail trip starts in style with refreshments at Art Deco Searcy’s restaurant (pictured) in London’s St Pancras Station

The Railtrail trip starts in style with refreshments at Art Deco Searcy’s restaurant (pictured) in London’s St Pancras Station

Amsterdam is on the itinerary of a fully escorted, flight-free trip to the Netherlands in April. It includes a perfectly timed visit to the bulbfields of Keukenhof, where 1,000 varieties of tulips, crocuses and daffodils will be in bloom.

The five-night break starts in style with refreshments at Art Deco Searcy’s restaurant in London’s St Pancras Station. It also includes heritage steam train trips, a canal ride in Amsterdam and a visit to the home of Delft Blue pottery. From £1,209pp (railtrail.co.uk).

The South of France and the sunflowers of Van Gogh await independent rail travellers on a self-guided train trip with tickets, accommodation and a full itinerary organised by Inn Travel.

With tickets, accommodation and a full itinerary organised by Inn Travel, passengers leave London on the Eurostar (pictured in Ashford, Kent) to Paris Gare du Nord

With tickets, accommodation and a full itinerary organised by Inn Travel, passengers leave London on the Eurostar (pictured in Ashford, Kent) to Paris Gare du Nord

Once they arrive in the French capital, Inntravel's tour boards a TGV train to travel down to the south. Pictured is a TGV in Moisenay, just outside Paris

Once they arrive in the French capital, Inntravel’s tour boards a TGV train to travel down to the south. Pictured is a TGV in Moisenay, just outside Paris

Inntravel's rail journey focuses on the Roman temples, arenas and aqueducts in the South of France. Pictured is the region's Pont du Gard

Inntravel’s rail journey focuses on the Roman temples, arenas and aqueducts in the South of France. Pictured is the region’s Pont du Gard

A historic site in Nimes. Along with Narbonne and Arles, the French city features on the itinerary of Inntravel's rail tour

A historic site in Nimes. Along with Narbonne and Arles, the French city features on the itinerary of Inntravel’s rail tour

High life: One blockbuster Italian itinerary from Tailor Made Rail sees travellers pass through the Swiss Alps on the panoramic Bernina Express train (pictured)

High life: One blockbuster Italian itinerary from Tailor Made Rail sees travellers pass through the Swiss Alps on the panoramic Bernina Express train (pictured) 

Pictured is the Bernina Express crossing a spectacular viaduct as it heads through the Swiss Alps

Pictured is the Bernina Express crossing a spectacular viaduct as it heads through the Swiss Alps

After leaving London on Eurostar, travellers join a TGV train in Paris to spend time in Narbonne, Nimes and Arles, where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous works.

The six-night itinerary also focuses on the region’s Roman temples, arenas and aqueducts. From £975pp (inntravel.co.uk).

Another bespoke travel organiser, Tailor Made Rail, can build train tours to cities from Scandinavia to Greece. Journeys can be upgraded to First Class and include sleeping cars on night trains.

One blockbuster Italian itinerary sees travellers cross France and stay in a hotel in Chur, in the Swiss Alps. From there you pass St Moritz on the panoramic Bernina Express train before heading to the shores of Lake Como, where guests are taken to their hotel by boat.

The seven-night Lake Como Via The Bernina Express itinerary is from £899pp (tailormaderail.com).

Barcelona and the sunny cities of Seville and Madrid are in reach on a luxurious, fully independent train trip organised by Great Rail Journeys. After leaving London on Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, a nine-night itinerary includes a private transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon for the fast train to Spain.

Another private transfer takes you from Barcelona station to your hotel, where you will be met next morning by a private, English-speaking driver for a city tour.

Transfers, train tickets and city tours are arranged in Madrid and Seville. From £1,695pp.

Tailor Made Rail's journey brings travellers to the shores of Lake Como, pictured, where guests are taken to their hotel by boat

Tailor Made Rail’s journey brings travellers to the shores of Lake Como, pictured, where guests are taken to their hotel by boat

Barcelona and the sunny cities of Seville (pictured) and Madrid are in reach on a luxurious, fully independent train trip organised by Great Rail Journeys

Barcelona and the sunny cities of Seville (pictured) and Madrid are in reach on a luxurious, fully independent train trip organised by Great Rail Journeys

In Barcelona, pictured, tour-goers with Great Rail Journeys will be met by a private, English-speaking driver for a city tour

In Barcelona, pictured, tour-goers with Great Rail Journeys will be met by a private, English-speaking driver for a city tour

The company also offers dozens of small-group tours if you prefer to travel with others. Its nine-night Highlights Of Tuscany tour includes Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano, Siena and the Chianti region. From £1,595pp (greatrail.com).

Proving that distance is no object on trains, Responsible Travel can arrange tickets right across Europe to Split in Croatia. The six-night journey has overnight stops in Munich and Zagreb and you can return by train or air. From £950pp (responsibletravel.com).

Prefer to plan your own tour? There’s advice, timetables and help making reservations at seat61.com, thetrainline.com and raileurope.com.

Great Rail Journeys offers a nine-night Highlights Of Tuscany tour, which stops off at Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano (pictured), Siena and the Chianti region

Great Rail Journeys offers a nine-night Highlights Of Tuscany tour, which stops off at Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano (pictured), Siena and the Chianti region

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Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: The travel trend for 2022 – the ‘to-do’ holiday.

Forget ‘bucket list’ holidays – an emerging trend is ‘to-do list’ trips.

Travel experts say that as a result of so many missed opportunities during the pandemic, many holidaymakers have realised there’s a whole world of adventures to be had out there and now don’t want to simply tick off destinations.

Stop off at Oman's Zighy Bay, pictured, on Lux Tripper's 12-night Best Of Oman And Dubai holiday

Stop off at Oman’s Zighy Bay, pictured, on Lux Tripper’s 12-night Best Of Oman And Dubai holiday

So for those who want to seize the holiday, here are eight amazing to-do trips to get the blood pumping.

Make an entrance in Oman by arriving by paraglider. A professional holds the controls as you sweep down on to the beach outside the Six Senses Zighy Bay resort.

The high-adrenaline option is part of a 12-night Best Of Oman And Dubai holiday where guests stay in four different five-star hotels and enjoy private visits to the area’s mountains, caves, canyons and big cities. From £4,350pp including flights (luxtripper.co.uk).

Cosmic: Go stargazing at Little Kulala safari camp under the dark skies of Namibia with Wilderness Safaris

Cosmic: Go stargazing at Little Kulala safari camp under the dark skies of Namibia with Wilderness Safaris 

For a taste of the heavens, try a stargazing safari, taking in three stunning field camps under the dark skies of Namibia.

In the first camp, Little Kulala, the 11 safari suites have rooftop decks with bean-bag chairs for relaxed stargazing. Or lie on a Star Bed on your suite’s lower deck and use astronomy apps on tablets provided to guests.

Spotting wild animals complements the astronomy at the next two camps on a five-star itinerary. From £7,253pp including flights (wilderness-safaris.com).

Take up the chance to visit the vast New Mexico ranch built by media mogul and CNN founder Ted Turner. The nine-day Resorts And Ranches tour includes excursions and spa visits from Denver and Colorado Springs to scenic Santa Fe. From £6,450pp plus flights (luxurygold.com).

Colorado Springs, pictured, is one of the stops on Luxury Gold's nine-day Resorts And Ranches tour

Colorado Springs, pictured, is one of the stops on Luxury Gold’s nine-day Resorts And Ranches tour

The Resorts And Ranches tour also takes in 'scenic' Santa Fe, pictured. Prices start from £6,450pp plus flights

The Resorts And Ranches tour also takes in ‘scenic’ Santa Fe, pictured. Prices start from £6,450pp plus flights

Bring the whole family together at Asil, a huge, modernist mansion with Mediterranean views near the old fishing port of Kalkan in Turkey. 

The five-bedroom, five-bathroom property sleeps ten and has an infinity pool, gardens, a barbecue pit and outdoor dining area. The property costs from £2,550 a week (vintagetravel.co.uk).

Soak up the glamour of Miami’s Art Deco South Beach on a mini-break in the British Airways January sale (it started early). 

Enjoy views of the old fishing port of Kalkan, pictured, from Asil mansion -  Vintage Travel is offering stays in the modernist five-bedroom property

Enjoy views of the old fishing port of Kalkan, pictured, from Asil mansion –  Vintage Travel is offering stays in the modernist five-bedroom property 

Discover the island of St Kitts, pictured, on a seven-night trip with British Airways

Discover the island of St Kitts, pictured, on a seven-night trip with British Airways 

Get flights and three nights at Riu Plaza hotel on Miami’s buzzing Collins Avenue from £499pp. 

Alternatively, discover the jetset Caribbean island of St Kitts with flights and seven nights sandwiched between a golf course and a golden beach at the Timothy Beach Resort from £599pp. 

Guests can visit hot springs, ride horses on volcanic beaches or take catamarans to the sister island of Nevis (britishairways.com/sale).

Enjoy crowd-free days on the hideaway Greek island of Halki, pictured above, with Olympic Holidays

Enjoy crowd-free days on the hideaway Greek island of Halki, pictured above, with Olympic Holidays 

Head to the Greek island of Halki if you want to experience a hideaway island closer to home. With only one paved road and few vehicles, it offers quiet nights and crowd-free days. Fly to Rhodes, then join locals on an hour-long ferry to Halki harbour, where you’ll stay in the Aretanassa Hotel – known locally as the Queen of Halki and set in a former sponge warehouse. From £773pp including flights (olympicholidays.com).

Next year a once-in-a-decade opportunity is coming up for garden-lovers to visit Floriade Expo, Holland’s huge horticultural show running from April to October and featuring some 3,000 species.

A five-day rail tour includes travel from London, visits to windmills and cheese farms, and a cruise on the canals of Amsterdam. From £695pp (arenatravel.com).

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