Way back in the mists of time, or on January 17th 2003 to be exact, Original Travel launched on an unsuspecting world with its natty new concept, the Big Short Break. The portfolio of trips were designed to provide what A A Gill called an 'espresso break' - a short, sharp hit of travel that provided a change of scene and mental refreshment. Minimum time, maximum experience, basically. The Big Short Break concept has gone on to win us multiple awards, and the trips have remained remarkably similar over the intervening decade. On that note, here are our 10 best big short breaks (see what we've done there?).
1) Dog-sledding in Lapland, Sweden
Fly into Kiruna in deepest darkest Swedish Lapland and spend three days driving your own team of super-affectionate Siberian huskies, watching out for the Northern Lights at remote wilderness cabins and snuggling up on a reindeer hide covered bed in an igloo room at the Ice Hotel. It doesn't get much more Original than that.
2) Skeleton Coast Flying Safari, Namibia
Explore the hauntingly beautiful Skeleton Coast of Namibia in a light aircraft, touching down on the beach to explore shipwrecks (hence the coast's name) and stay upwind of stinky seal colonies. Next stop it's into the massive dunes of the Namib Desert by Land Rover to visit the nomadic Himba tribespeople and see desert-adapted elephants. Out there.
3) Trek the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Trek on the rugged foothills of the Toubkal Massif and stay overnight in remote villages or seriously slick boutique lodges. Dovetails perfectly with a night or two in the midst of the hubbub in Marrakech, the most exotic destination in easy reach of the UK.
4) Svalbard, Norway
Deep inside the Arctic Circle, you can race over the snow at 60mph through eerie, misty valleys and spectacular glacial scenery, knowing that you're more than likely being watched by a polar bear and - fingers crossed - you'll catch a glimpse of him at some stage. Not too close, mind.
5) Petra & Wadi Rum, Jordan
The desert landscape and towering canyons of Wadi Rum were the location from which Lawrence of Arabia led the Arab Revolt during WWI. Spend the night in a traditional Bedouin tent and wake to a mug of sweet mint tea and breataking views. Then it's on to the magical ancient city of Petra, best explored in the capable hands of a local Bedouin guide.
6) St Petersburg, Russia
Peter the Great's city, built in defiance of nature and logic on marshy islands, remains well worth the effort, and Russia's cultural capital. The city's sites range from the humble log cabin from which Peter oversaw the construction to grandiose buildings such as the Admiralty and Katherine the Great's contribution, the staggeringly bling Pavlovsk Palace.
7) Havana, Cuba
Seriously? Absolutely. A few days in the Cuban capital makes for an impressively big short break and offers mucho for your filthy American buck. The old town is a World Heritage Site and when you've seen the sights, relax on the beach or enjoy a night out to remember. Or otherwise, depending on the intake of mojitos.
8) Ski the Dolomites, Italy
Forget the Alps, the Dolomites are the place for a ski weekend. Fly into Venice (and add a night or two for good measure?) and head to the Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano for Michelin * food and supreme comfort. The skiing is outstanding, and as the sun sets witness the enrosadira - when the pale limestone peaks glow a dosen different shades of pink, red and gold.
9) Cape Town & The Winelands, South Africa
With overnight flights both ways and minimal time difference this genuinely works. Cape Town enjoys arguably the most spectacular setting of any city in the world and the nightlife and restaurant scene are at all time high just now. And as if that wasn't enough, an hour away lies the Winelands, rolling countryside dotted with some of the finest vineyards (and boutique hotels) in the world.
10) Gozo, Malta
Gozo has the best diving in close proximity to the UK, and is something of a secret little gem for us. If you are on Malta's little sister island when one of the local villages celebrates its patron saint's day (every weekend in summer, basically), head along to enjoy the fiesta. Gozitans know how to party, and the huge clan flags flying from the rooftops are a great sight.