And the popular pick is? Poland. Takeoff: Travel news

Warsaw's Rynek Starego Miasta (Old Town market square)

And the popular pick is? Poland.

Europe's latest hot spot offers a stunning mix of history, architecture and natural attractions. Warsaw is emerging as a rising star on 2015 and 2016 travel itineraries as Poland records a record high in tourist numbers. Key sights in the former Eastern Bloc capital include the Old Town's  market square, Rynek Starego Miasta, rebuilt to its medieval design after its destruction in World War II. The country is also famous for its pilgrimage icon the Black Madonna of CzÄ™stochowa, Krakow's historic town square and Wawel Castle and birdwatching in its vast central marshes. Eastern European specialist Beyond Travel has released its largest ever selection of tours to Poland, including a new Polish Capitals tour from Krakow to Warsaw. A four-night tour including accommodation, guides and transport starts from $630 a person (excluding flights). Phone 1300 363 554, see  beyondtravel.com.au

GEAR: The good oilcloth

Your destination may not be exotic but your luggage certainly can be, with this cheery Emerald Palms overnight bag. Made from oilcloth with a white shoulder strap and handles, it measures 60 centimetres long by 28 centimetres high –  just big enough for a sneaky overnight escape from the daily grind. The range also includes oilcloth bath bags, a lavender eye pillow and Serengeti-inspired vanilla and peach soap, to complete the picture. The MOZI overnight bag costs $79.95, phone (03) 9885 9789, see mozi.com.au.

WEBSITE: Give back

It's said that when you travel, you should take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints. However, travelgiver.com lets you also leave a donation to a non-government, community project in one of 50 countries across the world. Log on to the website and choose from more than 300 projects, ranging from schooling for Liberian refugee children to hygiene lessons in Rwanda or spina bifida support in Melbourne, then proceed with the booking through the travel provider. Participants include Intrepid Travel, Etihad, Expedia, Lonely Planet and Accor, who will automatically donate up to eight per cent of the booking to your nominated community project. Travelgiver.com gives a comprehensive outline of each project, as well as visiting details if you're travelling in that region. See TravelGiver.com.

BOOKS: Fowl play

The startling Mr Chicken visits his favourite city, London, in the new book by author and illustrator Leigh Hobbs, also the creator of Horrible Harriet. A regular visitor to London, the gigantic, yellow bird always stays at the Savoy Hotel and rings the Queen before popping over for morning tea (so she has time to do some extra baking). The inside covers include a hand-drawn map of Mr Chicken's route through London and his checklist of things to see and do, which includes a full English breakfast, a walk over Tower Bridge and a ride on a red double-decker bus. A great planner for kids who are travelling to London, have been or just want tea with the Queen. Mr Chicken Lands in London, hardcover, $24.99. Visit allenandunwin.com.

GOLF:Tee tour

Tee off on Hawaii's top six golf courses on a new nine-day golfing tour of Hawaii, curated by dedicated golf tour company Teed Up. You'll play the Royal Hawaiian, Ted Robinson's Ko Olina and also Kapalua Plantation course, consistently named Hawaii's best course with ocean views at each hole. The tour includes four games of golf on Maui, two on Oahu, shared motorised carts and inter-island flights as well as eight nights' accommodation and competition prizes at the end of the tour. Led by PGA professional Michael Mosher, the 2015 Hawaii Golf tour departs August 25, 2015 and costs US$5848 a person, twin share. Call (02) 8458 9000, visit teedupgolftours.com.

KIDS: Hold the crackling

Want to hear four incredibly effective words? "Peppa Pig wears sunscreen." The ubiquitous pig could sell ice to eskimos, and now Peppa has collaborated with the Cancer Council to encourage pre-school and primary school-aged kids to slap on sunscreen specifically for sensitive skin. Yes, it's coercion, but it's a whole lot nicer than telling your sunscreen-hating toddler they'll have to cut off bits of their nose when they hit 40. The range, which has no fragrance and no colour, includes Kids SPF 50+ 50ml ezi clip, $9.95, Kids SPF 50+ 75ml roll on, $10.95 and Kids SPF 50+ 200ml finger spray, $14.95 from Coles supermarkets. Visit skinhealth.com.au.

AIRLINE: Points to share

Singapore Air and Virgin Australia have linked their frequent flyer programs, in a first for airline loyalty programs. From November, KrisFlyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer members can convert their miles and points between either airline to book flights, upgrade seats and buy non-flight merchandise. The arrangement also allows Velocity members to book on Singapore Air's regional carrier, Silkair, visit singaporeair.com and virginaustralia.com. Singapore Air will also begin codesharing with Air New Zealand from January 6, 2015, with new direct flights between Singapore and New Zealand to create a 30 percent increase in traffic between the two countries. Codeshare flights are now open for bookings, visit airnewzealand.com.

Edited by Belinda Jackson, Takeoff is published in the Sun-Herald's Traveller section every Sunday.

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