Category Archives: Travel Tips

Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Money When Traveling

Save money on Travel

There is no doubt that traveling can be expensive. Some places like Mexico or India are actually pretty cheap to live in once you’re there, but it’s really the preparation and getting there that can suck up all your money. Just because traveling can get expensive, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Travel opens up the heart and mind to new ideas and cultures, and is truly an enriching experience that far outweighs any amount of money.

With this being said, there are things that can be done that will allow you to get the most out of your money when traveling. It doesn’t have to cost a lot if you know the tricks of the trade.

Do Your Shopping in Advance

If you know you have a big trip coming up, start your packing list extremely early and keep your eyes peeled for sales and discounts. Some of the items you’re going to need on your trip won’t be available to purchase where you’re going, and if they’re big ticket items like cameras, or quality coats, shoes and luggage, shopping sales early on is going to give you the time to find the best deal possible without the stress that comes from spending too much money last minute and not having cash leftover to spend on your adventure.

Local RestaurantsDo Your Traveling During the Off-Season

There is nothing worse than showing up to your destination and having it overrun by tourists. If you travel during the off-season, you ensure that you can get the best deals on airfare and hotel accommodations, amongst other things. Choosing the off-season also makes everything in the country you’re traveling cheaper.

The attractions will be more focused on just bringing people in, and with less demand and less tourists to rip off, the prices won’t be inflated.

Go to Local Restaurants

When traveling, the bulk of money can easily go to food. To avoid this, steer clear of the restaurants that are tourist traps. Ask the locals around where the best food is. Usually they’ll point you towards a little hole in the wall restaurant that is cheap and as authentic as it gets.

GuidebookDo As the Guidebook Tells You

If you spend $20 on a guidebook, you can easily have a several thousand dollar traveling experience for that amount of money. If you don’t know what a guidebook is, you’re not alone, but it’s a commodity that is an absolute necessity for your travels, especially if you want to save money.

Guidebooks are the holy grail of traveling. They answer every question you could ever have, so get one now or you will be sorry in more ways you ever thought you could be sorry.

Most interesting architecture around the world

white-temple

Everyone loves to see the sights when they travel, and one of the most interesting ways to get to know other cultures is through their architecture. If you’re keen on exploring the world, there are some sights you really shouldn’t miss.

The world’s greatest buildings

These incredible buildings are essential sights for anyone intrigued by architecture and engineering:

  • Hằng Nga guest house in Vietnam – this incredible work of art is influenced by avant-garde Russian designers. It ignores familiar geometric rules and is full of surprises. The guest house is surrounded by parkland that conceals bizarre giant animal carvings.
  • Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali – having survived the recent invasion, the Great Mosque is now more celebrated than ever, a sacred building that also happens to be the world’s largest mud construction, built in the Sudano-Sahelian style. Palm sticks, or toron, decorate the walls.
  • Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand – also known as the White Temple, this fairytale palace is a modern interpretation of an ancient style. Full of symbolic structures that represent a spiritual journey, it’s built over a lake to add to its majesty.dubai
  • Burj al Arab in Dubai – one of the tallest buildings in the world, this is built to resemble a sail looking out to sea, with its glass frontage reflecting sea and sky. It’s built on an artificial island, with 40m concrete piles as anchors, and it has a 180m-high atrium.
  • Sydney Opera House – a triumph of expressionist design, this stunning building turns Bennelong Point into the focal point of Sydney Harbor, but just as its concrete curves are intriguing on the outside, its inside is perfectly crafted to maximize its acoustic potential.

Amazing destinations

Sometimes, a whole place deserves to be celebrated for its architecture. These are places you’ll never forget:

  • Istanbul – the meeting point of East and West, a place where cultures fought for dominance by trying to outdo one another in art and architecture, this city is a showcase for the best of Medieval European and Ottoman design, with numerous elegant palaces and places of worship.
  • Paros – beauty meets livability in the Cycladic architecture that gives this Greek island its charm, with narrow streets, arched gateways, whitewashed walls, a range of shutters in bright shades of blue, and gardens full of flowers. Visitors can also spot Byzantine and Frankish buildings.
  • Yangon – now open to outsiders after decades of strict military rule, Myanmar’s largest city is a fascinating place to explore. As well as the famous Golden Temple, it’s home to superb examples of European colonial architecture, while traditional pagodas can be found hidden away in its magnificent parks.marrakech
  • Marrakech – inhabited since the Stone Age, this stunning Moroccan city mixes ancient Berber architecture with elaborate Moorish styles, red terracotta, and humble whitewashed walls around private orange groves with gold-embellished palaces and mosques.

These fascinating destinations are inspiring places to visit. If you’re an architecture student, they could transform the way you approach your work. If you’re simply a lover of beauty, they could give you thrilling ideas about how to reinvent your own home.

 

 

 

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High and Dry: Top Tips for Hiking on a Rainy Day

Preparing to hike

Every hiker loves spending a warm, sunny day beneath a bright blue sky. But sooner or later, the rains will come. And whether you’re spending a weekend exploring the coast, an overnight along the riverbed, or an afternoon on the mountain, knowing how to stay warm, dry, and comfortable when the clouds roll in can mean the difference between a successful, soul-soothing hike and a soggy mess of an attempted adventure.

Know How to Dress

Hands-down, the most essential component to learning to master the rainy day hike is learning the right way to layer your clothing for your activity level. Think of dressing for hiking in the rain similarly as you would for hiking in cold or winter weather. Layers are the name of the game–but remember that just because it’s cold and damp out does not mean that you’ll stop sweating from physical exertion.

Woman HikingStaying dry is the name of the game here–both from within and from the elements. So avoid building up a sweat or letting the rain get you damp, as all of this can lead to major discomfort as well as chafing, blistering, and rashes. As far as your actual layers go, a good rule of thumb is to stick to layers that have the highest likelihood of keeping you warm, even if they should happen to get wet. This can include things like non-cotton underwear, thermal long underwear, a non-cotton insulating layer, and a waterproof shell layer. Don’t neglect the importance of a brimmed cap, either.

Tackle the Trail Like a Pro

Knowing when to do things a little differently is an essential part of the rules when dealing with Mother Nature. When raindrops make an unexpected appearance during a hike, you may need to forgo your schedule and take advantage of breaks in bad weather to rest, eat, or make camp. Hike wet and camp dry is a good rule to keep in mind during multiple camping day trips.

Other trail tips of the trade? Try not to raise your arms unless necessary–sleeve openings are the easiest place for water to sneak in. And unless you absolutely have to, do not open your pack. No matter how careful you are, some water will sneak in, making your entire load that much heavier. Keep your most utilized tools, maps, and snacks in zip bags accessible to your outer pockets if at all possible.

HikingHave a Comfy Way to Get Home

Whether your idea of the perfect ride home is the back of an open pickup with your best (two or four) legged friend, or cruising along in comfy ride like the Chrysler 200, there’s no denying that the end of a hike brings with it a certain sense of satisfaction and calm with it. Take that time for reflection and don’t stress about the condition of your clothes and car too much.

Even if you plan all of your hiking trips with the greatest of care, if you hike often enough, there’s still a good chance you could end up caught in a surprise rain storm out on the trail some day. With a couple of smart tips and tricks, you can be prepared for even the wettest of downpours!

Calvin Hemphill is a Boy Scout leader who, as the motto goes, is always prepared! Having lead groups of 20+ kids on 3 day hikes he believes he knows a thing or two and shares his tips, tricks and ideas via blogging.

 

Getting a Job in the Travel and Tourism Industry

blogging

There are very few people that don’t like a good traveling opportunity every once in a while, and then there’s the lucky group that manages to find a way to make a career out of the tourism industry.

Does it sound like this is something that you’d be interested in? If so, consider the five following ways to potentially help you get your foot in the door of being a professional tourist, including searching the web, heading out traveling, finding college programs that fit the bill, creating your own blog or channel, and contacting local resources.

HiringSearch the Web

Always begin the beguine with a job search on the web. There are plenty of avenues for you to try, and some of them are extremely specific as well as effective. Typing in a few general terms at first, see which job search sites seem to give you the best results and then add more details further into pages in order to get specific contact information for people in your desired industry.

Go Out Traveling

One very natural and organic way to get into the travel and tourism industry is by actually going out and traveling and being a tourist! And then talk to tour guides. Talk to hotel managers and restaurant owners. See if anyone needs help. Ask people about their career paths. Not only will you have a deeper experience on your trip, you might find that you have the vocational ability for a profession that could potentially keep you occupied for a good grip of time. You never know until you try.

Find College Programs that Fit

When you check out different college programs, see which ones might intersect with the tourism industry. For example, looking into colleges with the best hospitality programs, you’ll find that there’s a gigantic need for people just like you! Though the college route may take a bit longer and be more expensive that alternative methods, the payback is quite significant once you land that cushy job.

photoCreate Your Own Blog or Channel

There’s always an opportunity to create a blog or create a YouTube channel as well. These are long-term routes, but they have incredible benefits if you stick with them long enough and start receiving your advertising revenue once your content and your community gets strong enough.

Contact Local Resources

Finally, no matter where you live currently, there is probably some sort of tourist center. In small towns, it might be the community center. In larger cities, there are gigantic organizations. But whatever is closest to you, check to see if your amount of local expertise could help you in the overall hunt.

 

3 top tips for settling down in your dream country

Ayers Rock

You’ve seen the sights, visited the Grand Canyon, trekked across the Great Wall of China, stared open-mouthed at Ayers Rock and snacked on tea and crumpets by the Tower of London – now it’s time to settle down.

Perhaps you’ve found a wonderful home off the beaten track in China, or maybe you’ve fallen in love with the bustling cities of Australia, or maybe you just fancy a small village property in Bognor Regis.

No matter where you’ve found your perfect location, we’ve come up with a few tips to bear in mind when you’re relocating to a property abroad. Take a look and dream of that perfect location.

Great wall of ChinaKnow when to deliver

When you’re sending bulky objects to foreign shores, freight delivery is the best option. But it’s hardly appropriate for smaller, more precious objects.

Where tiny keepsakes are concerned, try using a delivery service that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Whether you want to send a parcel to Australia, China or some other far-flung region, use a parcel delivery price comparison site.

Using one of these sites, you’ll be able to track down special offers and services, including recorded delivery, realtime tracking and first class delivery speeds.

The lesson here is, shop around – whether you choose DPD, USP or Royal Mail, you’ll always enjoy a top-quality service if you choose the right provider for you.

Culture ShockDon’t suffer a culture shock

Holidaying somewhere isn’t the same as living there. All those charming customs you don’t understand on your fortnight in Thailand will suddenly feel alienating when you can’t comprehend it every day.

Not understanding basic cultural mores will make it difficult to find employment, make friends and, ultimately, to live comfortably in your newfound home. Continuous alienation will, most likely, see you travelling right back to where you started, your fantasy life shattered.

To ingratiate yourself with the locals, learn the local language, read up on local customs and hang out with the local people. Pretty soon you’ll be welcomed with open arms and enjoy a new cultural clique.

Make friends pronto

There’s nothing worse than travelling somewhere new and feeling hopelessly alone. Your friends back home won’t be able to help, and they’ll only withstand consolatory phone calls for a limited period of time.

To enjoy a rich social life from the get-go, head online and find other expats to meet with. They’ll be able to tell you the best place to eat and drink, and they’ll introduce you to their wider circle of friends.

Just be sure you don’t only rely on other expats. A major part of living within a new culture is experiencing it, so don’t box yourself in.

Ways to Keep Yourself Feeling Fabulous While Traveling

airport

Travel can be extremely hard, not only physically and mentally, but on appearances as well. Nobody likes taking an overnight flight, or traversing across the world, hopping from plane to plane with no place to shower. You make do by brushing your teeth in the crowded airplane or airport bathroom, but it’s nowhere near comfortable.

Luckily for you, there are tips to looking fabulous while traveling that you might not be aware of. Say goodbye to greasy hair, smelly clothes and awkward situations. Here’s your ticket.

Be Mindful of the Products You Use

There is no way to completely avoid the grease that comes with not washing your hair. It’s natural and actually very good for your scalp, but no one wants it visible when in close proximity to hundreds and hundreds of people at the airport. The trick is to be mindful of the products you are using, and when.

One trick to stopping your hair from getting oily quickly is to be careful of the lotions you’re putting on your hands and skin. When you apply lotions to your hands or skin, you will likely be transferring it to your hair, unwittingly.

Everyone likes to comb their hands through their luscious locks, but if you do this while you have lotion still on your hands, you will quickly coat your hair with the stuff and it will appear oily, very quickly.

Dry shampoo is also your best friend. Try getting it in powder form in a small container instead of a spray aerosol can, as it might be confiscated at security.

Pack An Extra, Portable Toothbrush

This is the best advice you could take. Go to the store and buy a small, portable toothbrush and toothpaste to pack with you in your carry on. Even if your makeup is rubbed off and your clothes are stained, you’ll feel so much better if you’re able to brush your teeth.

Bring Disposable Wipes

Disposable wipes will be multipurpose for you. Not only will you be able to clean the makeup off your face at the end of a long day traveling, you even be able to freshen up other areas that need a little help.  Don’t be caught without them, they just might save your day.

What to packPack Extra Undergarments in Your Carry On

If you do this, you’ll be extremely thankful later. It’s pretty self explanatory, but having extra undies in your bag will help not only if your luggage gets delayed, but also if you are traveling over the span of a couple days without a break.

Even with dirty hair and no makeup, fresh undergarments make you feel like a new human.

 

Cold Turkey: How to Avoid Spending Christmas Wrapped Up

christmas

Whatever way you slice it, Christmas Day often means forcing down overcooked turkey, quarrelling with your in-laws and trying to avoid heading outside for fear of being mauled to death by an angry polar bear.

While you try to choke down another Brussel sprout and politely listen to your octogenarian uncle tell the same story for the fifth time, your gaze is drawn to the window and your thoughts are filled with images of what Christmas would be like in another country.

Before Uncle Percy digs you in the ribs for not listening, you wonder if the festive season in Spain, Australia or somewhere else with seemingly perpetual sunshine has more to offer those who’ve grown tired of bone chilling weather and dreary anecdotes.

There’s only one way to find out.

Rather than spending another Christmas tied to the dinner table with family you only see once a year, spin your globe and book a ticket to one of these decidedly more exotic destinations – your bank balance won’t thank you, but your sanity will.

tenerifeTenerife

Tenerife is one of those destinations that’s easy to get to and a pleasure to visit. For the purposes of this article, we tried something slightly different by using the meet and greet parking at Stansted (rather than driving round in circles looking for a space) to look after the vehicle.

From there, it was just over four hours to reach the most populous of the Canary Islands. The great thing about Tenerife, of course, is its agreeable climate (even in December), which is a welcome change from the wind, sleet and snow synonymous with the festive season in Blighty.

Sydney

Fair dinkum, chuck another shrimp on the barbie and grab yourself a Tooheys before settling down to make more chums with your offensive Australian stereotypes! We’re joking, of course, but Sydney is a great location to spend Christmas.

After all, the city has some of the best beaches in the country (for our money, we reckon Manly is a cut above the rest), allowing you to kick back and relax in the Aussie sun while your family back home try to avoid arguing through the Queen’s Speech.

sapaVietnam

Certainly not a traditional spot for celebrating the festive period, but Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It really is the jewel in Southeast Asia’s crown, with its friendly locals and awesome natural landscapes.

Where else can you explore tropical jungles and navigate swampy rivers before heading to a modern city (Ho Chi Minh, to be precise) for a spot of dinner and a few too many drinks in its bustling city centre.

What do you think?

Do you have a favourite destination to escape the drizzle of a British winter? Please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.

Light Packing Tips For Travel

Packing

It seems like there are two extremes in the realm of travel and packing. You have the people who are somehow able to survive on what appears to be only the clothes on their back as well as a few essentials, while others look like they’re moving, but they’re actually only taking a three day trip.

Which category do you fall into? It’s true that light packing is the category that is better to be in as it will save you money when it comes to checking a bag. However, it is pretty stressful to arrive somewhere and realize that you’ve not brought enough underwear, or you’ve forgotten a couple essential items at home.

Luckily enough, there are solutions. You can pack light and still be confident that you won’t be left stranded in an unfamiliar place without the things you need most.

Make a List of Essentials

Packing protocol 101 is to make a list of the things you absolutely need. This will include things like the bare minimum clothing, your toiletries, and your wallet, complete with your ID and credit cards.

Once you have packed the bare essentials you will better be able to gage what it is you can afford to bring along with you on this trip. Does that include a couple more clothing items, or your computer? The choice is up to you, but honestly, way too many people end up packing things they don’t need for fear that they can’t live without it while they’re gone.

Tetris packingTreat Your Suitcase Like a Tetris Game

You know how you always get everything into your suitcase just fine on the way over, but somehow everything multiplies a thousand times on the way back? To get around this, treat your suitcase like a game of Tetris at all times and be sure to leave a little wiggle room just to be safe.

If you have already followed the advice above and only packed the essentials, this shouldn’t be a problem. The next trick is to arrange everything in your suitcase so that it uses the space the most efficiently. Try to choose fabrics that don’t wrinkle, roll the soft clothing items, fold the stiffer ones, wear the biggest and heaviest shoes you bring, and read up on more suitcase stuffing tricks.

RelaxDon’t Stress Out

In the grand scheme of things, don’t stress out about packing. Make sure it’s light and that you have what you absolutely need and you’ll be fine. Unless you’re traveling to a third world country that won’t have the essentials you need at a nearby store, you can always buy what you might happen to forget. Otherwise, have fun and enjoy yourself.

 

Geocaching for Novices: a Mini-Guide for Off-Road Exploring

Small geocache

Going on off-road adventures around the world can be exciting, exploring new landscapes and having a good time with friends. Many people, however, have added a little twist to their off-road expeditions and started to explore the world of geocaching. In short, geocaching is when people head off into the middle of nowhere, in their 4×4’s, using GPS to find little clues hidden in contraptions, called pills. These little pill-like containers are called caches, and they’re hidden in some of the most remote locations, off the beaten path.

People have been hiding caches in remote locations for over decade now. Hidden caches can be located using GPS, however, some are extremely challenging to find, even with the right tools. There is a tremendous amount of critical thinking and problem solving involved with geocaching. Before heading out on a geocaching adventure, however, it is important to consider the right tools and gear to make the most out of the day.

geocacheGeocaching vehicle

The most important apparatus geocachers need to consider is heading out to the wilderness in the right vehicle. It is a bonus if the vehicle contains its own GPS, however, it is not mandatory, considering many smartphones and handheld GPS devices will do the trick. It is, however, vital that adventurers load their gear into a high-clearance vehicle equipped with four-wheel drive. One great example of an ideal vehicle is the Ram 3500. When on a geocaching expedition, a large vehicle to hold water, food, and extra layers of clothing or blankets is vital, in case the weather changes or the sun starts to set. In an ideal situation, the geocaching vehicle will have good ground clearance, protection for vulnerable parts underneath, short overhangs, low gear for crawling, and limited slip or locking differential.

Geocaching with a smartphone

If the vehicle used does not have a GPS system, geocaching can be enjoyed using a smartphone. Originally, geocaching was done using a GPS as support, but predominately through the use of maps, compasses, and real-time downloads of nearby geocaches. More recently, the game has changed with the introduction of smartphone technology, ridding adventurers of paper maps and other basic tools. There are many apps for smartphones that support geocaching, allowing adventurers to search, locate, map, and log geocaches anywhere they go. Both the Apple and Android platforms support geocaching for those choosing to use their smartphones to enhance their experiences.

gpsGeocaching with a handheld GPS

If a smartphone is not an option, or for those looking for a more intense challenge, geocaching can be done with a handheld GPS. The difference is that much of the thinking and problem solving will have to be done ahead of time. With a handheld GPS, adventurers are not able to locate and log geocaches on the fly. The caches will have to be located and downloaded onto the GPS device ahead of time, and the logs will have to be created after the adventure is over.

No matter what gear is used to enhance the geocaching adventure, it is sure to be an unforgettable expedition. The next time off-roading is a consideration for a day out in the wilderness, perhaps adding the twist of geocaching can make the adventure even more challenging and fun. With technology today, there is no knowing what we can do while in the great outdoors.

 

Leslie Hoffman likes nothing more than getting out there on the open road. An avid fan of off roading, she was overjoyed when she discovered geocaching. In her free time at home she hopes to share these amazing hobbies and offer tips and advice to an online audience.

Things You Need to Do Before Traveling

flight-table

Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the buzz of it that you forget to do some essential things before leaving. Nobody likes to arrive at a destination to realize they forgot their toothbrush or their phone charger.

Though these are simple packing details that can easily be overted, there are other things you might forget to do that could be a lot more detrimental to your trip. Here are a couple of things that you need to do before traveling.

Get a Medical Checkup

Before you do anything else in preparation for your trip, you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Other countries will have different strains of different viruses and illnesses that your body is not immune to.medical

Get in now in to make sure that you are healthy enough to travel and that you have all the needed vaccines required by the country you’re traveling to. You will also want to make sure that your health care provider is up to date on HIPAA security requirements. You don’t want your personal information to be at risk, especially when you’ll be about of the country and unable to easily address any problems that may arise.

Manage Your Money

Travel is one of those things that can get really expensive really quickly. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. All you need to do is manage your money well and do all the needed things to ensure that you’ll have enough money when you need it most.

This includes putting aside as much money as possible prior to your trip, but this also includes budgeting out how much you want to spend while you’re gone and getting the necessary amount of cast from the bank before leaving.

Withdrawing money in foreign territories can be near impossible, and expensive. Skip the stress by bringing extra cash with you. Store it in several different places in case of theft or loss, and keep your money as well as your identification close to your body at all times. You might even think about ordering currency in advance if you’re traveling overseas.

smartphoneFigure Out Your Smartphone Details

This is crucial. Nobody wants to go on a long trip without their smartphone, but the fees you could rack up while overseas are scary to think about. In order to protect yourself from coming home to a massive bill, call your smartphone provider and talk about the options for switching your plan to an international plan during the time that you’re gone. Also, look into other tricks for saving money on your smartphone bill overseas. There is a lot you can do, personally.

If you do these things before you travel, you will be able to enjoy your trip for what it is instead of worrying about finances and your health. It may sound like a lot of work, but the experience you’ll gain and the fun you’ll have is worth it.