Getting Away From London

As exciting and vibrant as the British capital can be, sometimes it just gets all too much for you. Cramped, sweltering tubes, busy streets, stressful late nights at work, and high prices for rent and booze can take their toll, and leaving you needing to take a break. Thankfully, London is blessed with a number of options to get away from the ratrace and overcast British weather and, within a few hours, onto a sun lounger where they serve little umbrellas in the drinks.

Major London Airports

The two major London airports lie west of the city centre. London Heathrow is accessible by Tube, although you should allow at least an hour for the journey from Central London. London Gatwick. It's the UK's busiest airport and connects you to the rest of the planet. London Gatwick, on the other hand, lies due south of the Centre, just off the M23 motorway; whilst still used by some international carriers, it does not offer the range of destinations that Heathrow does, and whilst still busy, is more of a sedate experience.

For short-hop runs to the sun, Heathrow serves Lisbon, Sevilla and Barcelona in Spain; Algiers, Tunisia, multiple destinations in Morocco, and Cairo and Luxor in Egypt. Be aware though that the taxes and fees on these short hops can be proportionally higher than flights from the smaller "budget" airports that circle London, and so these may be a better bet. Heathrow and Gatwick come into their own when you need to get far away - consider Florida, Dubai, Thailand or Sydney as pricier but balmier climes to destress from the London Life.

Minor London Airports

The budget airline model of the last twenty years, spearheaded by Ryanair and Easyjet, has seen the growth of previously inconsequential regional airports into super Euro-hubs. Between them, Ryanair, Easyjet and Germanwings cover hundreds of destinations out of London into Europe and even further afield, but these airports can be a pain to get to (except for City Airport if you have the dough). London Stansted and London Luton - both pushing the definition of "London" to its limit! - boast the widest range of destinations, and options, amongst others, include cheap flights to northern Africa, the Canary Islands, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and even Israel and Jordan.

If you're willing to look ahead in your calendar and pick out a distant week that is not the school holidays, you can bag a real bargain with the budget airlines. Just be sure not to fall for their "tricks"; they charge extra for everything under the sun, including credit card payments, luggage, everything. Pack light with cabin baggage and research the most effective payment options and you'll be quids in.

Don't forget to send a postcard...