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All The Things I Wish I Knew Back When I First Started Travelling

30 December 2015

I have been travelling alone and with my family for a lot of years now. I like to think I’ve got into the swing of things, but there are always places and customs that catch me out from time to time. Of course, back in the beginning when I first spread my wings, I made lots of mistakes. Some were quite expensive, and others deprived me of the great experiences I was hoping for.

If you are fairly new to travelling, then relax. There isn’t too much to worry about. But I do have a few tips to hand down to those who want to be more prepared for the journey they are about to take. Here are the things I wish someone had told me before I took my first trip overseas:


Clothing
How I wish I hadn’t packed so much! My arms and back ached the whole time, and I didn’t wear half of it. I think my mind was set that I should have an outfit for every occasion. But when you’re travelling on a budget, you’re not going to need that fancy evening dress. Or those heels, or the makeup palette! If you are planning on moving around every day, pack sensible, breathable travel shoes. Trainers will turn grey, smelly, and damp in just a day or two of walking.



Jet Lag
I really felt the time zones when I first set out. After a while, I found some great coping methods for dealing with the changing hours. I also learned not to waste time staring out of the window at clouds when flying. Instead, I can catch up on researching my next destination, or I can journal my experiences so far. I even got into a little bit of sketching on one journey. Best of all, catch up on reading. Educate yourself or immerse yourself in some gripping fiction. It helps take the edge off the jet lag if you feel you accomplished something during the flight hours.



Food
Food from a street cart may smell incredible, and even look delicious. But if the locals don’t eat there, you shouldn’t. Your best bet for a true taste of local cuisine is to befriend the locals. Stay with them and enjoy their home-cooked hospitality. You can offer your services on a local farm, or offer to teach the kids a little about your home country in return. Sometimes, even the best restaurants are just trying to cater to the tourist’s tastes. You’re better off experiencing the real thing from real people.



Activities
I love trying out local pastimes. I love joining in with their music and dance. But sometimes, you head to a country to enjoy the landscape and the activities it affords, like Husky sledding in Finland, or sailing around the Channel Islands. When you’re preparing your itinerary, find two or three activities that you can sign up for. They make for the best memories and photos too!

I love travelling, whether it’s a good journey or not. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. If you’re planning on heading away soon, have a great time, and bring back some awesome experiences.

My Tips For A Brilliant Trip To Florida

22 December 2015

Are you planning a trip to Florida? While some people see the state as plastic others love the picturesque setting and gorgeous sandy beaches. Not to mention the theme parks that are fun-filled zones no matter how old you are. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m in the latter group. I love Florida and that’s why I want to make sure your trip there is the best it can be. So here are my tips on how to make the most of this wonderful vacation spot.


Book At The Right Time

Typically, people find that they have to counter the price of a Trip to Florida with the weather forecast. Ideally, you want to avoid the storm season while also not hitting the summer rush. That’s why despite the fact that October is the cheapest time to visit Florida I don’t recommend you head over during that time. This is when the chances of hurricanes are at their highest. It will certainly put a dampener on having a beach outside your window if you can’t go out and enjoy it. Also, you’ll find most of the theme park rides will be closed during a storm. However, you also don’t want to head over in July or August. The crowds are immense at this time of year, and you’ll be lucky to find a single spot of shade where you can sit down and relax. Instead, take my advice and head over in the spring. The weather isn’t too hot, the crowds haven’t arrived, and you’ll be in for a wonderful time.


Alternates To A Hotel

Hotels in Florida are wonderful, but it’s difficult to ignore how much they are for what you get. Even the resort hotels are ridiculously priced considering they often consist of one room and a bathroom. Instead, I recommend that you look into renting a privately owned accommodation. A vacation rental by owner offer will allow you to stay in a luxury apartment overlooking the beautiful sandy beaches of Florida. The price will be reasonable, and you will have the freedom you simply can’t get in a hotel. Enjoy Florida your way by skipping the hotel and getting a little more for your money.


Beaches And Theme Parks

Obviously, one of Florida's biggest draws is the beautiful sandy beaches that stretch for miles along the coast. There, you can try your luck on the open waves with a surfboard. Or, you can relax staring up at a perfect velvet blue sky.

Then there are the theme parks of which there are now too many to name. If you’re heading over at the end of this year, I’m sure you’ll be checking out the magic of Disney at Christmas. There’s nothing quite like it, and it’s the only place that you’ll find snow in Florida


But don’t forget there’s a lot more to Florida than that. For instance, you should certainly take a hover boat ride across the swamps to see the natural habitat of the alligators. And don’t forget that you might be lucky enough to see a rocket blast enough at Kennedy Space Centre. There’s no question that there’s a lot more to Florida than first meets the eye. I hope you have a wonderful time.   

All The Best Places To Explore In California

19 December 2015

One place that should be on every traveler's bucket list is California. This state is a truly beautiful place, that has so many amazing things to see and do. Stretching from the Mexican border north for nearly 900 miles, California is a big state. Home to amazing forests in the north and beautiful sandy beaches in the south, this is one place that every traveler has to see.
In case you’re planning a trip to the golden state, I thought that I would share all the things that you have to do while you’re there. Take note of this ideas, and you can ensure that you have the best time in California.

Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, or LA as it’s more commonly known, is one of California’s most famous cities. Home to Hollywood and the world’s film industry, LA is one city that you have to see while in California. Situated in the south of the state, this iconic city has so much to see and do that no matter how long you’re there for, you’ll never fit it all in.
From the world-famous Hollywood sign to Venice Beach, LA is home to some fantastic places. Being the home of the world’s movie industry, this engaging city also has various film studios to explore. This includes Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers, two of the world’s largest film companies. (If you want to see either of these studios while you’re in LA, I recommend booking in advance.)

Coastal areas

California might be home to some of the world’s most famous cities and attractions, but it’s also a state with some fantastic coastal areas. I don’t mean beaches like Venice beach in LA, although this is a must-see, I mean areas that are a little less well known.
Aside from being truly beautiful, seaside towns, like Pescadero and Monterey, have a lot to see and do. They have untouched beaches to explore, beautiful countryside, and plenty of fantastic restaurants. The seafood is one of the best things about California’s coastal areas. The food on offer in these restaurants in Monterey, is wonderful - there are so many dishes to choose from. While you're in California, it's coastal region is definitely worth a visit.

Yosemite National Park

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Nestled between California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is famed for it’s waterfalls. However, there is also a lot more to this natural space, including unique rock formations, adventure, and lots of wildlife.
If you’re a keen photographer or a wildlife lover, Yosemite National Park is somewhere that you have to visit. The best thing about this massive park - it spans over 3000 km, is that there are plenty of places to stay. So if you fancy spending a bit of time exploring, you can opt to camp or stay in an authentic wooden lodge here.
California is a big place, and so there are plenty of other things to see and do on your visit. These ideas, however, are just a few of the best ones to get you started. 


Ice Parks To Visit this Winter

18 December 2015

Some families prefer to travel during winter time.  My family and I tried that idea but traveled few weeks before Christmas so we don't get in the holiday rush. However, the excitement of spending winter in a different country or away from home is an inviting idea to try for a change.

If you are one of those who want to travel this winter time or would like to see and feel what winter is like in other countries, then visiting ice parks will be a good idea. I live in a perpetually sunny place so snow is so alien to us and so is the cold winter. I have been dreaming of spending winter time in a really cold place so ice parks will be a good bet to try.

Some countries will have longer winter season than others. Choose the one depending on your time availability to make the most of your wintertime vacation.

Here are some famous ice parks in the world to visit:

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in China

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is one of the most famous winter festivals around the world. It is famously known for the beautiful ice sculptures and play area for everyone to enjoy so much snow and cold in one place. It starts on 5 January 201 and will run for a month.

Harbin is located Heilongjiang Province in the northeastern part of China. The location of the place makes it a perfect place for snow and ice festivals due to its arctic climate which provides natural ice and snow.


Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival in South Korea

Taebaeksan Provincial Park in Jungang-ro Street of Taebaek-si, and Hwangji Pond Taebaek-si, Gangwon-do provide a wide array of events and activities for winter fun!  Guests can even participate in the Snowman Festival and snow sledding with the scenic Taebaeksan Mountain as a nice backdrop for the whole event.

The event runs for almost 2 weeks from January 21-31, 2016. 


Ouray Ice Park in Colorado, USA



The Ouray Ice Park is a very unique and interesting winter attractions in the world. It is a human made climbing area in a gorge in Ouray, Colorado.  The best thing about this man-made attraction is that is is free and open to the public. Many activities will run from January to February 2016. 


Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan


This is a festival held yearly in Sapporo, Japan. It is one of the famous winter festivities there that millions of visitors check out the festivities. It runs for a short period of time compared to the other winter festivals in other countries. The Sapporo Snow Festival will run from February 6 - 11, 2016.



Quebec Winter Carnival, Canada


Quebec, Canada is one of the wintry places in the world to enjoy ice and snow during the cold season. For the last 60 years, it has been home to fun and festivities due to the Quebec Winter Carnival. This year, the whole festivities will start from 29 January to 14 February, 2016.


Ice Music Festival in Geilo, Norway

(Photo credit: Hufftingtonpost.com/Photo by Emile Holba/Ice Music Festival)


If other  ice and snow festivals in the world evolve around sculptures, this event takes on a different turn in Norway as artists are required to make a musical instrument out of ice. These ice musical instruments will accompany the artists with their performances as they use them to make beautiful melodies.

It will run from 21-24 January, 2016 in Geilo, Norway.



Don't Let Jet Lag Drag You Down

15 December 2015

Going on a dream holiday is a special time. Though whether you are traveling to Disneyland or Downunder, it can take some time getting to your destination. Naturally you want to feel great as soon as you get there. The truth is that jet lag will affect even the best of us, and it can mess up those first few days. To make the most of your holiday, build in a day or two to feel normal. Follow these tips to help you recover more quickly from the effects of jet lag.


Start the process on the day you travel. Prepare well for your trip. Make sure that you stay hydrated. Don’t be tempted to indulge in any heavy or greasy airport food before you travel. This might mean resisting the temptation to grab fast food while waiting. Instead, eat light snacks such as fruit and crackers. Drink plenty of water and stay away from caffeine and alcohol.

It can be tempting to make the most of in-flight food and drinks but again, try and resist the temptation to overindulge. It can be impossible to take food or even drink onto some long haul flights, so make sure you buy water before you get onto the plane. Choose from the lighter meal options where you can. If you are using any natural jet lag remedies follow the instructions.

As soon as you board the plane, adjust your watch to your new destination time zone. Act in the same way. You might see seasoned travellers immediately bed down and pull down the blinds. These are people who know how to deal with long-haul flights. Get your sleep as close as you can to your destination time zone. Use sleep masks, travel socks and earplugs. A neck pillow can be a great help. Once you wake, avoid the temptation to snack, and try to stay awake for the remainder of the flight.

A journey to Asia or Australia and even New Zealand could involve two or three connecting flight. Use the stopovers to get exercise and stretch. Some airports have gyms and even swimming pools. Check these out in advance and bring suitable clothes with you in your hand luggage.

Hopefully, you have booked your accommodation. Going to somewhere like Disneyland can be a real blast, but why not consider staying in Orlando while you adjust to the time zone? Make the most of your Florida trip. Rather than stay in an impersonal hotel check here for Orlando vacation rentals. As soon as you touch the ground, live in the new time zone. Resist the temptation to snooze or go to bed. Give yourself plenty of daylight. Steer clear of stimulants and caffeine. Go out for a walk and eat sensibly.

If you can get through this period, you’ll benefit from a good night’s sleep. Give yourself a full 24 period to recover. Crossing time zones is never easy. You may feel like you have landed on the moon at first. But in a day or so you will start to recover, and you’ll soon be ready to enjoy your holiday proper.

Celebrating Christmas At Disney

12 December 2015

Disney has been known as the happiest place on earth. I know. I have been to many Disney parks and I don't get tired spending my precious vacations on them.



Going to Disney is one of my passions. I just lose myself when I am there. I forget for a moment that I am an adult. Yes, and adult on a mission - to enjoy my and my family's stay at Disney.

If you have a vacation to spare and would like to spend Christmas differently, choose celebrating the wondrous occasion at any Disneyland parks.

Disneyland has plenty of activities in store for you in any of their parks and resorts. You can be assured of a real fun time when you spend your holidays there. Each resort will have its own parade, events, and programme to follow for their guests to enjoy. You can visit Disney's website to check out what is in store for December's activities and plan your vacation accordingly.

Enjoy!


Top Tips To Research Your Next Travel Destination

10 December 2015


Are you heading away soon? Congratulations on booking your flights and having the guts to try something new! Trust me – you won’t regret it because there is no better experience than travelling the world. But, before you fly away for the foreseeable future, you need to do your research. Research is essential because it makes life so much easier, and it also makes you aware of any possible dangers. There is not one way to do your research, so you want to have as many options as possible.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a great place to start, especially if you already have a destination in mind. The website is full of people who have already been to the places that you want to experience, so there’s lots of feedback. Not all the feedback is great or worth listening to because it might not correlate with what you want to do or with your personality. But, it will give you a broad idea of how the place works and what it is going to be like.


Google

Google is the king of search engines. There is not another search engine on the Internet that can match Google’s popularity, which makes it an easy choice for your research. A simple Google search will show you everything that you need to know about the region, from the history to the current affairs. One thing lots of travelers tend to neglect is the current situation of the region, but that can have a big impact on your visit. Thankfully, with Google there is a ‘News’ section that will tell you everything you need to know about the country in the present day.


Travel Blogs

Just like you, there are like-minded people that love to travel. And, these people also like to document their time they spent travelling for the benefit of others. These bloggers are the salt of the Earth because they are generously helping others around them to enjoy their experiences. A good travel blog that you trust is an incredible tool in the research process. In fact, you can find out all you need to know from some of the best travel blogs on the web.


Indigenous Websites

The best place to find information on the country is a website that writes about the country. Answers Africa, for example, is a site that details everything African, from Boko Haram to Mount Kilimanjaro. On there, you will learn a lot about the ‘real’ Africa as opposed to the one that you see in travel brochures. As a result, you will be far more prepared when you do land in the country, and the culture smacks you in the face.


Government Websites

Most countries have a website that tells you what you need to know about the country before you travel. They will tell you about the places to visit, the places to avoid, the currency and the injections you need to name but a few. From an administrative point of view, these sites are a Godsend.

5 Things You Need To Do At Home Before You Go Travelling

08 December 2015

Travelling is amazing, especially at this time of year. When the cold weather sets in at home, there is no better feeling than spending your time in the sun while everyone at home freezes! Ah, bliss! But, before you head off into the sunset, you need to take care of a few things at home. Yes, before you go abroad you have to make sure that everything at home is settled. Plus, you can also complete a few tasks that will make life abroad easier when you land.

Here are a couple of tips that hopefully make all the difference.

#1:  Turn Off The Electric

When you are abroad, you don’t want to be worrying about the house back at home. In fact, the last thing anyone wants to think while they are lying on the beach is, ‘did I leave the stove on’? To make sure that your home life and your holiday life don’t mix, turn off all the gas and electric in your home before you leave.


#2: Hire A House Sitter

Even when you think you have taken all the necessary precautions, there will always be that niggling doubt in the back of your mind. To be honest, that doubt is almost impossible to appease unless you have a house sitter. If you can find someone kind enough to draw the curtains and check everything is okay while you are on holiday, it will set your mind at ease. Of course, they need to be someone you can trust and who you feel comfortable going into your house.


#3: Pack

Always pack in advance of going on vacation. Packing takes a lot longer than throwing a couple of items of clothing in a suitcase. At least, it does if you do it properly. To pack properly, you need a list of everything you will need while you are away. The list should include clothes of all kinds, but it should also include toiletries and electrical appliances, too. By doing it in advance, there is less chance of finding yourself miles away from home without a vital accessory.



#4: Read The News

It is always a good idea to know what the climate is like in the region that you are visiting. Travelling is about enjoying life, but it is also about staying safe and being well prepared. By checking local news website, you can gather all the information you need with regards to the region where you will be spending your time. Also, check the government website for any advice and for any tips on travelling in that region.




#5: Check The Weather

No last minute holiday preparations would be complete without a check of the weather, both the destination and at home. Firstly, no one wants to spend their time abroad in the wind and rain, so hopefully the conditions are good. Secondly, we all love to picture our friends and family at home in bad weather conditions!

Take care of all of these before you go and your holiday will run like clockwork.


Ski Resorts in Lebanon

Lebanon has picked up some bad rep over the years because of the security and instability of the political scene in the country. However, one must not forget that Lebanon is a beautiful country with long stretches of fine sandy beaches, lush valleys and mountains, delectable cuisine and best of all, lovely and nice ski resorts to visit during the winter time.

Not too far from Beirut are several skiing resorts to visit. They are usually frequented by Middle Eastern folks who don't want to travel to Europe to enjoy a good ski activity, snow fun and the cold temperature up on the mountains.

There are 6 well-known ski resorts in Lebanon. They are:

Photo credit: skileb.com



Faraya-Mzaar or Mzaar Kfardebian

Photo credit: snow-forecast.com


This resort is located 1 hour drive from Beirut on the Mount of Lebanon. It is surrounded by mountains and is the largest ski resort in Lebanon.


The Cedars

Photo credit: skileb.com


The Cedars is located at very high altitude compared to the other ski resorts in the vicinity. Since it is in a high altitude, it has longer winter season than other areas in Lebanon.  It has several ski-lifts that can take you to the peak for a downhill skiing.


Laqlouq

Photo credit: skileb.com


The Laqlouq is both a ski and summer resort located on a plateau. It is surrounded by jagged edges and plenty trees which makes it a great cross country skiing resort.


Faqra

Faqra Resort is also know as the Faqra Club which is an exclusive private resort. It has nice chalets and gardens which are perfect for both seasons.


Qanat Bakish

This resorts is less crowded and has very nice snow quality that is perfect for all ski levels.


Zaarour

Photo credit: skiinglebanon.com


This resort is the closest to Beirut. Since it is north-facing, the Zaarour resort offers scenic vista of Mount Sannine and the valleys of Skull.


The Things that Can Make Traveling a Little Easier

04 December 2015

Travelling is a lot of fun; I’m sure you’ll agree. But it can be incredibly difficult as well. Here are some of the best things that make travelling a little easier.


Google Maps

Where would we be without Google Maps? Well, we’d still have ordinary maps, but they’re so much more difficult to use! The site allows you to see where you are and what’s around you. And even the most seasoned travellers can get lost when they arrive in a place that they’ve never been to before. For me, it’s one of the most important tools for any traveller to use. It helps you out of those tricky situations, especially when you’re travelling alone.


A Good Wallet

When you are travelling, you need to have somewhere to keep all your money, cards and documents. So, having a large wallet that is able to carry everything you need to have with you is essential. You should even have two of them if you ask me. This is so that you can separate your money into two lots. That way, if one of the wallets gets lost or stolen, you will still have another one to rely on. Buy wallets that are of a good quality though. You’ll be using it a lot, so you don’t want a cheap one.


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Travel Forums

There’s something very important about talking to people who know what they’re saying before you travel to a place. This is what a travel forum offers you, so make sure you seek out a good one. Travel forums are filled with people who have lots of experience of heading to places all over the world. They’ll be able to give you tips and advice that could make your visit a lot better than it otherwise would have been. So, if you’re going to travel India, for example, find a forum about travelling in that part of the world.


A Cushion

Let’s face it, travelling can be tiring and uncomfortable. If you’re going from plane to train to bus, you barely have time to rest your head. That’s when having a good cushion in your rucksack can be a real life-saver. You can whip it out of your bag and turn that train window into somewhere that you can rest your head in total comfort. You can find travel cushions that are made to be adaptable and not take up much space in your rucksack. So, have a look at the deals you can find.


A Guidebook

There’s nothing complicated or new about a good travel guidebook. But it’s one of the most essential tools you’ll have when travelling. No matter where you’re going in the world, there’s sure to be a guidebook that you can buy to help you out when you’re there. And it’s so cheap and easy to pick up cheap second-hand books nowadays. That means that you don’t have to break the bank either. The best guidebooks will tell you everything that you need to know about the place you’re visiting. 


The Essentials Of Planning A Longer Trip

02 December 2015

As you will know if you follow mine and my family's travels, we love visiting and exploring new places. Luckily for us, we have the means to go where we want, when we want. While most of the time we take short trips - a week here or a fortnight there, the idea of planning a longer trip is rather appealing.

Recently, lots of my traveler friends have been planning longer trips, ranging from a month to a year in length. This has made me wonder about planning a slightly longer trip of my own - hopefully, in the future I will be able to.

For now, I thought I would share a few of the essentials for planning a longer trip. Just in case you are in the process of planning your own once-in-a-lifetime trip abroad.


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Save up


Of course, like with any trip, it’s important that you save up enough money. The difference with a normal vacation and a longer trip is the fact that you’ll need to save more money, as you’ll need more to live on. Flight costs, accommodation, transfers, food, attractions - I could go on, it all adds up. That’s why having adequate funds is a must, especially if traveling with a young family in tow.

Don’t make the mistake that many travelers make, of rushing into booking your trip, before having saved up. Yes, you could always work while you are away, but it takes some of the enjoyment out of it. Obviously, if you’re traveling with kids, working probably, isn’t an option anyway.


Make a plan


Start off by getting some inspiration of places to visit. Is there anywhere you’ve always dreamed of traveling to - add it to your list. If you’re traveling as part of a group, perhaps you could get everyone to name one place they would love to visit. (If you’re brave enough, you could always include the kids in this.)

Decide how long you are going for, and use this to work out how many countries you will visit. Do you want to spend your time in just one place, or do you fancy seeing some different places? Choose where you’ll be going when, and come up with an itinerary for your trip. When it comes to booking your flights and accommodation, having an itinerary is essential.


Get your documentation in order


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Don’t leave getting those documents in order until the last minute, as so many travelers do. If you want to make the most of your trip, be pro-active and get your documents in order weeks before you’re due to depart.

The most important thing is to check your passports. Look for any damage that may prevent you from flying, a date that’s about to expire, or a passport that has no free stamp pages. Not many people know this, but some countries won’t let you in if your passport doesn’t have two free stamp pages. If you notice that your passport is almost full, go online to obtain new passport pages. You can have extra pages added to your passport; you just need to leave enough time for it.

Next step, apply for your visas. Start by noting down which countries you are visiting require visas - to find out about this, contact the country’s embassy. Once you know where you will need a visa for, the next step is to apply for each one. It can take between three and five months to have a visa granted, so make sure to apply with plenty of time.


Hopefully, this guide will help you to ensure that your trip will be everything that you want it to be.



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