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category:East Asia tours

ABTA’s role in the Brexit negotiations

Two tour managers from ACFEA, Becky Shaftoe and Dan Porterfield, recently attended the School Travel Forum AGM in Birmingham. John de Vial, ABTA Director of Financial Protection and Financial Services, gave an excellent presentation on Brexit and the UK travel industry.  ABTA is working hard with the UK government, and across Europe, to secure the best possible outcome for the travelling public as the UK departs the European Union. ABTA is lobbying to safeguard our transport links, including our air routes, and protect valuable consumer rights. Post-Brexit, it is important that travellers continue to enjoy visa-free travel and access reciprocal healthcare arrangements currently offered by the European Health Insurance Card.

Whilst there is still much uncertainty in the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the UK government is advising passengers to have 6 months passport validity for travel to Schengen areas beyond 29 March 2019.  As always, it is essential that passengers continue to take out adequate travel insurance in addition to carrying an EHIC.

ABTA has produced several reports on Brexit and the UK travel industry which may be accessed here:




Published: 14 January 2019

Travelling Tips

Here at ACFEA we are all aware of the less-glamorous sides to travel: jet lag and the dreaded packing!  Eleanor Etherington, one of our experienced tour managers, has travelled more than most and here shares her top tips for beating jet lag and minimising your packing stress

Beating Jet Lag

  • Make sure you're well stocked up with healthy snacks (nuts and cereal bars are good) and plenty of water
  • Keep snacking and drinking throughout the journey! It keeps energy up and can help curb travel sickness, essential if you're spending many hours travelling  and are  experiencing a whole new country and culture for the first time.
  • Try and adapt to the new clock as fast as possible - don't be tempted to stay up until 3am just because you feel ok, as it'll take way longer to get comfortable with your new time zone.
  • Changing to destination time on your watch before you take off!
  • Take a big wrap or scarf for wrapping around yourself in a plane or on a coach. This keeps you warm and snug and keeps light and sound out, all helping you rest during long travel schedules. 

Minimising Packing Stress

  • Try to limit your clothes packing to one outfit per day, plus one 'posh frock', plus your performing gear.
  • Packing 17 tops for a week long trip will likely have you lugging a load of clean stuff all round your itinerary and then home again! (We've all been there!!)
  • You get through less clothing than you may think and worst comes to worst, you can use the hotel’s laundry service while on tour
  • Keep liquids to a minimum, use travel bottles (up to 100ml) where possible instead of bringing full size toiletries, and double up if you can (for example 2 in 1 shampoo conditioner, and moisturiser with a decent SPF).
  • I never travel without a scarf (see above!)
  • I always pack in a standard carry-on size suitcase, whether or not I'm checking it in, to remind myself I don't need to take the kitchen sink!
Published: 23 March 2018

China and east Asia

NYOS in China

In August 2015 the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland (NYOS) enjoyed a superbly successful tour around this vast country. The symphony orchestra’s packed itinerary included visits to awe-inspiring sights such as the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, as well as taking an exciting overnight sleeper train from Shanghai to Beijing. The students even performed Scottish jigs on board the train, entertaining the locals in one of the carriages while the larger instruments were safely stored in another!  Our China Concert Representative Nick Smith, who was awarded the OBE for his work in Anglo-Chinese cultural relations, ensured that NYOS performed to thousands in world class concert halls in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin.

NYOS in China

China, Hong Kong and other Asian destinations, such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, provide such unique opportunities for western performances and we continue to make tailor-made, affordable itineraries a reality. ACFEA is excited to be taking Berkshire Maestros, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, and City of Glasgow Chorus on tour to this exciting region in 2016.

China has become one of our most popular long-haul destinations. This is largely thanks to our exclusive ACFEA representatives in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong and their negotiation and organisational skills.

Published: 3 March 2016

Glorious Hungary



Budapest boasts not only some of the best Art Nouveau architecture in Europe, but also houses a vast array of performance opportunities for all group types. 

In 2015 El Camino Youth Symphony enjoyed a full house and standing ovation at the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall. The Chorus of Westerly performed Dvorák’s Stabat Mater with the Danube Symphony Orchestra in the glorious Matthias Church, and Davidson UMC Choir  experienced the thrill of singing mass in the awe-inspiring St Stephen’s Basilica.

Wonderful performances and very appreciative audiences enabled thrilling and successful concert tours for the groups that performed there.

Published: 2 March 2016