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Travel Basic Needs

31 January 2016

Traveling is fun and exciting, just make sure to bring along all necessary things for a trip. Most important items are the ticket, passport, identification card, itinerary, hotel vouchers, credit card and cash, as well as, photocopies of passport and credit card. 

Equally essential are comfortable and suitable clothing pieces, underwear and shoes for the destination and the kind of weather. 

For gadgets, do not forget to pack chargers (mobile/laptop/camera), international adapter and flash drive. Small items which cannot be missed out are first-aid kit, supplements and daily maintenance medicines. 

For vanity, settle for the items frequently used and needed. Personal hygiene kit, moisturiser, sunscreen and lip balm must not be forgotten. It is also advisable to bring a notepad and pen for expense tracking.

I guess, this is it… Happy trip!

Travelling To Dubai? Make Sure You Check Out These Amazing Places!

30 January 2016

Dubai is a popular city that millions of people visit each year. People from the Middle East and beyond visit this stunning place and often come back for holidays. In fact, it's such a revered city that many visitors from abroad make it their home!


If you're thinking of going on a holiday this year, I recommend you put Dubai at the top of your shortlist. You might be wondering what there is to check out in the city. It's a good thing you stopped by this blog post! Keep reading and you'll learn of the best places to visit in this Emirate:


Burj Khalifa


Even if you're not too keen on tall buildings, you must visit the beautiful Burj Khalifa! It's an impressive skyscraper and the tallest manmade structure in the world. Measuring 828 metres high, this building took over five years to build. Today, it's home to a mixture of residential and commercial tenants and property owners.




If you want to see an imposing view around Dubai, I recommend going to the observation deck on the 148th floor.
Madinat Jumeirah


If you want somewhere luxurious to stay, there is only one option you need to know. The Madinat Jumeirah is the epitome of luxurious Islamic holidays! It's a recreation of what life was like in ancient Arabian times. And it captures the region's natural beauty.


The Madinat Jumeirah is a resort location that boasts two grand boutique hotels. There is also a selection of summer houses and villas. One can enjoy entertainment in the grand ballrooms or the 1,000 seat amphitheatre!


All facilities on the site have connections to 3 km of landscaped gardens and waterways.




Wild Wadi


Dubai's top entertainment complex aimed at families is Wild Wadi. It's a waterpark that can be found in front of the stunning Burj Al Arab. The park got themed around the tales of Juha, a popular character from Arabian folklore.


There are over thirty rides and attractions there, and it's a place that everyone will enjoy. Especially the children!
Mall of the Emirates


Want to do some shopping on your visit to Dubai? You need to make sure you spend a day visiting the Mall of the Emirates! Now, you might think this is just like any other shopping mall you've been to in the past. But, as their slogan states, shopping is just the beginning!


When you're at the mall, you can also go skiing. Yes - that's right; skiing in the Middle East! The Mall features an indoor ski slope, dubbed Ski Dubai. You can even get up close and personal with some penguins there too!


There aren't many shopping malls out there that boast such impressive reasons to visit!





Desert Experiences


Last, but not least, you can also step outside of the city and head towards the desert for some outdoors fun! Many tour companies offer camel rides, "dune bashing" in a 4x4, and more!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading today’s blog post. Thanks for checking it out!

Taste The Churros and Chuchos in Barcelona

28 January 2016

When my daughter found out that I would treat her to a Milan, Venice and Barcelona trip last year, the first thing that came to her mind about Barcelona was - Churros! I am not sure why but yes, churros.

More than anything, it was the churros that got her giddy and really in the whole planning scheme to make the Euro summer trip happen. It was a short but so memorable and sweet for both of us. It was both the first time to visit Venice with my husband's cousins and Barcelona on our own. It was more like a mother-daughter bonding thing and I truly enjoyed my daughter's company. We should do this often.

Well, going back to the churros. :) Churros is one of the famous delectable desserts in Spain. It is a traditional dessert in Spain created by shepherds and evolved through the years. Many would make big churros and fill the middle part with chocolate or cream fillings. However, the ones that my daughter and I love are the plain ones where you dip in thick, hot chocolate.

We scoured the internet the moment we finalised our Euro trip. The first in our itinerary was to find the best churros near where we were staying in Plaça Catalunya. We checked Tripadvisor as well for recommendations and voila! We found Xurreria El Trebol near Passeig de Gracia and Diagonal Station which was few blocks from our hotel. It is actually located in Calle Corsiega.



As soon as we finished our tour in Montserrat and headed back to Plaça Catalunya, we traversed the stretch of Passeig de Gracia. It was easy to find and it was at the same side where our hotel was located so no need to cross plenty of streets.

Xurreria El Trebol is a small eatery that serves yummy churros. We were happy to find out too that they are open 24 hours on weekends. Although we didn't get to try that out because we already left the weekend after. But it's good to know because the next time we visit Barcelona, I will stay near that area again.

The churros at Xurreria El Trebol are really nice. We ordered and ate there in the small space provided if you want to dine in and I bought 8 and split in half for myself and my daughter. Trust me, we almost finished half of the lot even before we reached the hotel. They were yummy and really good, unlike the other churros we have eaten in the US and Japan.



We bought our churros with a cup of very thick chocolate. I also ordered few chuchos. It looked like an eclair minus the frosting on top but it is so soft and has a custard cream filling inside which made it more tasty. I really want more!



I forgot how much the whole stuff we bought but I can assure you, it wasn't very expensive. Not at all. I just can't remember the price but when you are there, they have the pricing on the wall. You won't miss it.



So, if you are in Barcelona and want to taste their traditional fried desserts like churros and chuchos, visit this churreria!  It's worth the walk!

Where to find it:
Carrer de Còrsega, 341
08037 Barcelona Tel: +34 932 179 594
Mon to Thu: 9am – 9pm
Fri to Sun: 24 hours
Nearest Metro: Diagonal


Avoiding Homesickness On Your Big Aussie Adventure

27 January 2016

Travelling is always a great experience and Australia is one of the best destinations in the world. The lack of a language barrier and the fact that it’s easy to spend weeks or even months there with ease makes it a top destination. The warm weather certainly doesn’t hurt, either. However, despite how similar the culture can be, being in a new place, especially for long periods of time, can be quite the struggle. Many experience homesickness when overseas. This can be not only distressing but physically debilitating, too. To help you cope with any homesickness you might be feeling on an Australian trip, we’ve put together this guide.


Picture by pexels.com


Stay in touch
A voice on the other end of the phone can be tremendously reassuring in times when you’re feeling alone. However, sometimes it’s not that easy. Australia can be vastly expensive to call internationally but not always. With the right deal, you can get calls from home daily without either of you being heavily penalized by ridiculous overseas rates. A friendly voice can be the first step to shaking off homesickness at its worst.


Throw yourself into it
However, keeping in touch with those at home should not be the end-all and be-all. You want to get yourself to the point where it’s nice, but no long necessary to get that phone call. We have a lot of tips here on just how to get yourself right into the thick of your destination. The more you choose to experience of your new surroundings, the more likely you are to become comfortable in it.

Picture by walesjacqueline


Give yourself reasons to love exploring
Motivation to stay and something new to enjoy is a great way to shake off the shackles of homesickness. This bucket list from Buzzfeed should give you some reasons to stop being cooped up and miserable. There are absolutely loads of places in Australia that will fill you with wonder and excitement, so get exploring and lose that anxiety.


Homestay
A friendly, welcoming environment might be all you need to stop missing the comforts of home. We all like to feel connected and part of a loving community. Arrange a homestay for yourself. There are loads who like to welcome new travellers to their home and often you can end up paying much less to stay that a hotel. Just take some simple precautions and follow these dos and don’ts. There are countless examples of highly successful homestays. Still, it always pays to keep your head thoroughly on your shoulders.


Volunteer

A way to bring your heart from home to re-join your body in Australia is by giving yourself something to do. This doesn’t just mean something to distract or excite you, but a responsibility. That might sound like a bit of a joy kill on a holiday, but volunteering can be tremendously fulfilling. You’ll meet all kinds of people, do some good and establish yourself in a new place. The feeling of being responsible for more than just yourself can be exactly the boot you need to feel more independent, too.

Applying for a Schengen Visa When You Are A Resident of Dubai

25 January 2016

Dubai's location makes it a central hub for business and leisure traveler around the world. Even residents of Dubai will find it easy to travel around the globe due to its strategic location. So, traveling to Europe is not a hassle as long as you have the budget, time, resources to allow you to visit Europe, and most importantly, you have the Schengen Visa stamped on your passport if you are planning to enter any of the member countries of the Schengen states.

What is a Schengen Visa?

©www.riatravelbug.com

A Schengen visa is a visa for several countries included in the Schengen states that allows travel from one Schengen state to another using one valid visa.


What are the Schengen States?

The Schengen states are countries who are member of the Schengen agreement. The Schengen states consists of many European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders.

The countries listed under the Schengen areas are:

Austria
Belgium
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Liechtenstein


How to apply for a Schengen Visa if you are a resident of Dubai, UAE?

It is always best to check the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit. Most of them have consulates in Dubai. However, most Schengen countries with consulates and embassies in Dubai use common agency to accept and facilitate the visa application on their behalf.

Check for the documents required for the visa application and secure them as instructed by their respective websites. Most of the countries under the Schengen states use VFS Global or Cox and Kings (for those applying for Schengen via Italian Consulate) services.

Pay for the application if you are doing via online or pay upon submission of documents.

Submit all pertinent documents needed to the respective processing agency.

VFS Global
Website: http://www.vfsglobal.com/
Located at the 2nd Floor, Wafi Mall, Dubai

And here are other helpline numbers as mentioned in their website:
• Autralia: 042055900
• Austria: 042055606
• Bulgaria: 042055850
• Cyprus: 042055660
• France: 042055999
• Germany: 042055666
• Hungary: 042055650
• Singapore: 042055880
• Sweden: 042055859
• Spain: 042055700
• Switzerland: 042055888
• Greece: 042055770
(Dial +971+area code+ tel. number if calling outside of UAE)


Cox and Kings Global Services (for those applying for Italian visa/Schengen Visa via Italy)
Website: http://www.ckgs.ae/
Located at Adjacent to Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall Metro Station, Office 1102, 48 Burjgate, Downtown Burj Area, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai

Upon submission, you will be advised to pay the visa processing fees and other fees related to your visa application. Biometrics will also be taken.

You will be asked to leave your passport and pay extra fees for courier charges to have it delivered once your application has been processed, approved and visa stamped on your travel document.


Fees?
Fees will vary depending on which Schengen country you want to visit so please check the respective consulate or embassy and refer to their visa fees section.



Great Tips For An American Road Trip

23 January 2016

Image from Wikimedia



America is a massive country with a vast amount of diversity – both in its different cultures and the raw geography. Visiting a few different cities can blow your mind, but for some travellers that’s simply not enough. To make sure you have the freedom to soak in as much as possible, I recommend a road trip. These are more flexible and in a lot of cases much more enjoyable than your standard American vacation. Here’s how to get the most from yours.
First of all, set a plan of the things you want to see, but don’t make this plan too rigid. Odds are you have a time limit on your road trip. Because of this, it’s a good idea to know which city or town you’re going to be sleeping in on which night. Try to keep your driving time under 8 hours per day, but aside from that keep your mind open. No matter which state you happen to be ploughing through, you’re bound to see little roadside curiosities. These will draw you in and give you some great memories. Research the areas you’ll cross, of course, but don’t trust the tourist guides too much.



Image from Wikimedia
Another big pointer is to pack light. This will make your first few days of travelling more convenient and smooth, but also leave you a lot of room to collect. Believe me, you’ll need it! Sending all the things you want to take home with you can be very expensive. Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to find an awesome mounted alligator head in Florida, or a hand-woven Apache rug in New Mexico, and not have the space to bring it home with you? Remember that all this space won’t be used if you don’t bring a proper road trip attitude. You’ll find that America is full of strange signs. When you see “Smallest Bowling Alley On Earth” or “World’s Largest Artichoke”, don’t just point and giggle, investigate!
Get as much fun as you can out of your trip, but remember to stay safe during the process. Road trips are about being wild and free, but keep some channel of communication with the outside world. Text a trusted friend or your parents daily to let them know where you are and where your next planned destination is. The general rule in America is you’ll only have a real tragedy on your hands if your group are all smoking hot and in their early twenties. Still, better safe than sorry. In the very rare event that something bad happens, it’s best to have someone with a rough idea of where you are. Keep a good stock of medicine and first aid supplies too.

By keeping these tips in mind, your road trip’s bound to be one to remember. If you’re not used to this kind of travelling, the lack of structure can feel a bit daunting. Embrace that sense of chaos. Let loose, keep an open mind, and let your trip go wherever your whims take you. As a final tip, remember to take pictures!



Stay Safe During Your Travels

21 January 2016

Source: Wikimedia


As you’ve probably figured by now, I think travelling is one of the greatest experiences anyone can have. While most of the world isn’t especially dangerous, running into serious trouble while abroad can be horrible. If you don’t speak the local language, or have much orientation, then recovering from theft or other misfortunes can be extremely tough. Most of us are lucky enough to avoid this. However, it’s always good to keep certain precautions in mind.
Source: Wikimedia

Be sure to prepare for any illness or injury while you’re abroad. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my travels. No matter how bad you are with needles, get all the recommended vaccinations for the country you’re visiting. Be sure to get all the right health insurance too. If you’re visiting anywhere in the European Economic Area, then you’ll need a European Health Insurance card. You can order these through Europe EHIC Services Ltd. Aside from this, do some research on common illnesses that might be prevalent in the country you’re going to. Western tourists are famous in India for getting nasty bugs, so stock up on the proper antibiotics!
If you’ve travelled enough, you’ll get into the habit of certain checks. However, if you’re new to the whole experience, make a point of glancing back whenever you’re leaving somewhere. You might not be the type to carelessly leave our things lying around anyway, but travelling can be very distracting. If you’re not used to being out of your home country, then be particularly careful. It’s easy to forget certain things while you’re soaking up a culture that’s completely new to you. I’ve heard countless stories about people leaving a bag with all their documentation and money outside pavement cafes. This can cast a heavy gloom over your entire trip, so stay vigilant!
Finally, avoid being flash in impoverished countries. Some of the poorest economies are situated in some of the most beautiful areas of the world. Being a western tourist is usually bad enough in particularly run-down areas. To reduce your risk of theft, keep your wealth on the down low. Leave your diamond jewellery at home or in your hotel room, and avoid carrying around expensive pieces of tech. Across the world, most muggers are more interested in what you’re carrying than hurting you. Still, if you attract the wrong criminal, your trip could end up being nightmarish. Don’t carry too much cash on you, and wear nondescript clothes if you can bear it. It may also be worth buying a cheap phone for use on your holiday.

I hope I haven’t scared you off of your upcoming adventure! Yes, there are risks involved in any kind of travel. By taking these simple precautions, you’ll be upping your chances of having a smooth, trouble-free trip. Wherever you’re going, don’t let paranoia ruin your experience. Illness or being a victim of theft may be more likely in certain places. Still, it’s bound to be pretty improbable! Be careful and health-conscious, but most importantly enjoy the trip.



Small Accessories To Bring While On The Go

12 January 2016

It is wise to travel light. That is my motto whenever I travel. I only bring the essentials. Essentials will be some clothing to mix and match and that will be okay until the end of my trip, a pair of sturdy walking shoes, toiletries, meds, and light outerwear for colder climates.

Part of my travel take-away are small accessories that are also necessary for my trip, note and picture-taking.

Here are small accessories to bring while on the go that I find very useful for my travels.

Portable handheld weighing scale

riatravelbug-portable-luggage-weighing-scale
©www.riatravelbug.com - my portable luggage weighing scale


I do not like paying extra kilo for excess baggage as I prefer traveling light. However, there are times when I cannot help but carry heavy items back home after shopping for treats and gifts.

A portable handheld weighing scale is just a small gadget that you can tuck in your luggage after use. It has a metal hook that you use on the handle of the luggage. You pull it and see the reading for the weight. It is not a heavy accessory to carry around so I always have it in my bag.


Sewing kit

Some hotels or resorts do not provide sewing kit to guests. I always carry a small one that I can slip inside my toiletries so when I bust a seam or lose a button, I can always stitch the lose hem, torn seam or replace lost buttons.


Laundry bag

I don't like doing laundry while on vacation. I only do it when my family and I are staying for more than a week. That's the only time I go to the laundromat to wash some clothing. Otherwise, I carry our own laundry bag to fill with dirty clothes. It keeps the other clothes that are clean remain fresh.


Foldable umbrella

I carry umbrella depending on where we are going. If it's a tropical country which has monsoon season then a foldable umbrella is always a must. Once, my family and I travelled to Bangkok and we were walking when it rained cats and dogs all of a sudden. We didn't have any umbrella at all so we went back to the hotel all soaked.


Power bank

With the influx of portable gadgets comes power banks to charge batteries. I always have a small power bank with me while on the go to use when my phone is about to conk out. It is very important to have this because if you are on a tour and also use your smartphone as camera, you will need extra charge to be able to take snaps of the beautiful sceneries. And during winter, gadgets' battery supply gets depleted fast because it use up much energy to warm up your gadgets. Carrying an extra power bank won't hurt.


Travel journal

I am a travel blogger too so it is necessary for me to always carry a journal where I can jot down my thoughts, findings, experience, feelings, the name of the places I have visited, the restaurants I have frequented, the culture, food, and everything I think will be useful for my review and article.


These are just few that you can carry when you travel without feeling the weight. They are not cumbersome to have while you're on the go. Are there other small accessories that you take with your on your travels that are necessary? Please share in the comments.

Important Lessons I've Learned as a Seasonsed Traveller

07 January 2016

As you’ll be aware from my blog, I am a pretty seasoned traveller. I love going abroad and having new experiences. Travel is one of my favourite hobbies and pastimes. And I try to get away as often as I can. Now, there’s no secret formula to the perfect trip away. The more you travel, the more you learn, and this helps you improve the experience the next time around.

And you need to learn these important things for yourself. Now, each person will have a different experience when they take a vacation. So it’s difficult to gauge what issues they might encounter. But I would like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned as a seasoned traveller. These can all be applied to any holiday and I hope you will use them to have a more enjoyable time.


plane.jpg


Exchange When You Reach Your Destination

The first thing I’d recommend is to exchange money when you reach your destination. Now, you might want to do some before you get out there. It will depend on your flight time and transfer etc. I like to make sure I have enough money changed up to get a taxi from the airport, get some food, and maybe for emergencies. Other than that I like to leave my money as it is and then change it up when I get there. The reason for this is that you tend to get a better rate by doing it this way. If you’re happier changing everything before you go then do, but otherwise, save some to change when you hit your destination.


Always Choose Apartment Over Hotel

When it comes to accommodation, many people differ on preferences. I have a friend who will only ever stay in hotels. It doesn’t matter where she goes; it has to be a hotel. But, I have found from experience that holiday apartments actually make a more logical choice. I love the freedom and space that I get from staying in short term rentals than in hotels. An apartment gives me the luxury of spending a night in if I want to. And there isn’t the cramped feeling you get with hotel rooms.


Plan What You’re Going to Do Before You Go

If there’s one thing I wish I knew when I first started travelling it’s to plan everything in advance.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve missed out on seeing and doing wonderful things because I’ve got planned it. There are so many things that have passed me by in the past, and I never let it happen anymore. Always research the place you’re going and pick out a list of things you’d like to do. Then you can set about planning out when and where you’re going to do them. This is what I do now so I get to experience everything that a place has to offer.

You can take it from me as an experienced traveller that there are certain lessons to be learned. That means you need to prepare for them in order to get the most out of your holiday experience. Have a look at the suggestions I’ve listed, and bear them in mind. They are all things I have found help me have a more enjoyable vacation.



Safety Tips Before Embarking On A Winter Trip

05 January 2016

Some of us who love to travel will not let any season dampen our desires to venture out. So, planning for a winter trip can be both exciting and a challenge even to the most seasoned traveler. Why you might ask? Well, it is hard to predict Mother Nature. Even if you check the weather forecast a hundred times before your trip, the weather may or may not change once you're already out and about.

If you are planning to go skiing or just plain traveling during winter time, here are safety tips you have to consider before you head out on the cold. It is wise to be prepared for anything.

Photo credit: fotolia.com


1. Check the local weather of the destination you are visiting

Weather is one force to reckon with. I remember our winter trip to New York 2 years ago. While my family and I have checked the weather forecast every single day before flying to NY, we didn't read any news about a brewing nor'easter or snow storm. The snow storm developed when we were already in the US. So, there was really no way of getting any assurance that once you have checked the weather, it would stay that way, get better or even worse.

Good thing, we anticipated harsh weather conditions and packed our heavy winter clothing. And just to be on the safer side, we cut our vacation a day short before things went crazy in the airport. So, by the time the heavy snow came, we were already in warm and sunny Dubai.

If you happen to visit and have learned of the forecast, cancel the trip if it's a leisure trip and if it can be helped. It is better to be safe than sorry.


2. Prepare for harsh winter conditions

Bring extra medications for fever, cough and colds, extra thermal clothing to keep you warm, heavy moisturizer or petroluem jelly to keep your skin nourished and won't leave your lips cracked.


3. Heed road sign warnings and travel advisory

If you plan to drive to your destination, please ensure you follow road safety warnings. Take note of slippery roads. Equip your vehicle with accessories and tools needed to get yourself out of snowy and icy roads like chains for your wheels, extra petrol, LED lamps, extra clothing and blankets, food and water.

And if you are flying to your winter destination, make sure you pack the essentials and follow any travel advisory.


4. Pack for survival kit  

If you are driving, it is wise to also be familiar on the weather condition of the destination you are heading to. It also pays to have basic knowledge on safety and survival when the weather gets out of hand especially during winter time.

Pack things you need to survive the journey especially preparing for when your vehicle breaks down. You must be ready. Here is a site I stumbled upon to give you more tips on packing survival kit: http://cottagelife.com/diy/winter-driving-survival-kit


5. Inform other family members and friends of your plans

Letting your family and friends in on your plans, the travel arrangements you have made, and where you are heading to will be a good idea too. Make plans on how you and the other members of your family and friends who are also traveling with you will communicate. Also, keep those who are not joining in the loop should you require assistance later on.


These are just some helpful tips to consider before going on your winter trip. It is still best to analyse the situation and refrain from any travel, if it can be avoided. Otherwise, practice common sense and caution while on the road or on the go.

Enjoy, keep safe and stay warm!

Magical Winter Lights Festival in Texas

03 January 2016

The holidays may be over soon but that does not mean your whole family or friends cannot enjoy a few hours of fun before heading back to the reality of 2016.

If you are living in Texas, specifically near the Sam Houston Race Park, then you may want to consider spending the day before you all head back to school or work to enjoy the last few days of the holidays.  The Sam Houston Race Park is home to the Magical Winter Lights Festival held in Texas.

The Magical Winter Lights Festival in Texas features amazing display of famous landmarks all over the world decked in colourful illuminations that will surely captivate you. Kids will enjoy the magical area while the whole family and gang will be dazzled by the display of lanterns and everyone will have the chance to engage in fun activities.

Photo credit: http://www.magicalwinterlights.com/


Like most attractions, The Magical Winter Lights Festival also has live performances, music, and market to enjoy great sound, lights, and food!

The Magical Winter Lights Festival will be open until 10 January 2016. You have enough time to drive there and check out the amazing light displays and other attractions.

It is located at:

Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West, Houston, TX 77064


Operating hours:

Monday – Thursday: 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Friday – Saturday: 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Sunday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM

For more information about this festival, visit their site:

http://www.magicalwinterlights.com/festival-info/

.