A vacation in any destination is always more fun when it is spent with great company. This is one of the reasons why girly holidays are some of the best vacations that women enjoy. You can expect full attendance among female buddies whenever such excursions are scheduled. The only difficult stage in planning for these holidays is in choosing the destination. Here are some good options I picked for girly getaways that will give the whole gang a good time.
(^Statue of Kalman in Budapest – English and German description provided on tab)
Read in German
Travelling to another country is something that is probably ever-present in people’s bucket lists. After all, there is nothing more surreal than exploring a place that’s foreign to you and immersing yourself in its culture and traditions. Everything does seem dreamlike, that is, until language barrier decides to step in and spoil the fun.
Language Barrier, a problem?
Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem for you if you come from an interracial family and are well versed with a language other than English or your mother tongue. Nevertheless, not all of us are as fortunate. At the same time, not everyone was able to learn some Spanish, a spattering of French, and some other foreign language back in high school. So will you allow this problem to stop you from enjoying your trip? Certainly not! What should you do, then?
Whether your trip is for business or pleasure, it pays to learn the language spoken at the place where you’re going, and you can learn languages without cramming. You don’t have to be an expert linguist; learning just a couple of important words would be enough. You would be surprised how much better your traveling experience would be if you know how to speak even just a few words from the local language. It can actually enhance your experience in ways you never deemed possible.
^Milan, September 2015
People travel for different reasons, for many though, travelling is their form of escape from boredom and the torture of everyday routine. There are people who have made travelling their way of life, but for most of us, we need travel to add dimension, excitement and adventure to our boring lives. When you travel and discover new sights or new places, you also discover new cultures and meet new people. You discover more about yourself and develop your character in ways you never thought it would. Yes travelling brings with it that heady, thrilling and addictive feeling, but you need to keep your wits around you especially if you’re travelling alone.
A lot of things can happen while you’re miles away from home. It is very important that you are well prepared – mentally, emotionally and physically. Secure your travel fund and ensure that you have an emergency stash or plan B, C and D in case you run short of cash. Consider selling your unused stuff and gadget on a garage sale to add to your fund. Consider the length of your travel and your destination so that you can pack appropriate clothing or footwear. Be sure to bring enough clothing but leave some room for souvenirs too. Once you’ve reached your destination, never be neglectful. Here are some safety travel tips to keep in mind.
The country of Israel is one of incredible beauty and rich cultural heritage. Tel Aviv epitomises this in a variety of ways, most of all through the number of historical sites it boasts. Suffice to say, a dream for those with such interests.
With more than 2.5 million international visitors every year, Israel has the second-largest economy in the Middle East. The popularity of this amazing city is constantly growing. People are excited about what it can offer – here, we provide a brief glimpse into some of the cultural spots you should visit.
Travelling to different places is a fun and exciting way to spend a vacation with the family. However, you may find that the journey to your destination is filled with lots of time and little to do whenever a trip involves long distance travel on cars or trains. Unless you are travelling on board one of qantas business class planes, planning activities for the journey should be part of your travel plans to keep your family holidays boredom free and interesting from start to finish.
A classic for each of us
So what do you do when you travel by train? Travelers who don’t get motion sickness while travelling may entertain themselves by reading a book or magazine (that’s me!). Others are better with working on crosswords or Sudoku puzzles (son 1), and watching movies on a portable DVD (hubby). You may also bring along portable game consoles or gadgets for kids who can’t live without their video games. Those who are prone to motion sickness are better off sleeping during most parts of the journey.
Classic games that promote bonding in the family are the best travel games that parents can teach their techie kids. It can be a refreshing change from the impersonal gadget games that they are used to. Travel-friendly board games for classic games like backgammon, chess, monopoly etc. are easily available in toy stores. A deck of cards can also pack loads of fun for a family trapped in a moving train for long hours. Numerous card games like Go Fish, Crazy Eight, Poker, Slap Jack and others, can keep both kids and adults preoccupied in the entire trip.
There are also word games that you can play with kids of varying ages like the game we call Starting Letter Factory. The game starts by choosing a letter and a category base for the words (i.e. Letter D, animals). Each player will give a name of an animal that starts with the letter D (i.e. dog, donkey, etc.). A player who runs out of animal names gets taken out of the game and the last player standing is the winner. Older kids can make the game more interesting or challenging by adding a consequence for the first person taken out of the game like singing a song or doing a favor for the winner. The first player who gets taken out of the first round usually starts the second round of the game.
Family travel games that allow interaction between kids and adults are the most fun games that you can choose for long hours of traveling by train or car. However, keep in mind that there are also other passengers in the train and be conscious with the amount of noise or movements that your party makes on the train. Long journeys can pass quickly when everyone is travelling with fun company.
You like fast cars but you only get to see them on Top Gear. What you really want is some kind of car utopia, where it’s normal to see a Lamborghini or an Aston Martin out on the streets and where the infrastructure and industry reflects a deep passion for beautiful machines. Well my friend, welcome to Dubai.
Our first hotspot starts on the streets. Why? Well where else in the world a fleet of supercars be owned by the police, patrolling the streets? With a Lamborghini Aventador already in their inventory, it was recently announced the motorheads at Dubai Police had made another small acquisition. A Ferrari FV no less, costing around £350,000, and capable of speeds exceeding 200mph. Audacious extravagance maybe, but surely the cops need something fast catch all the boy racers out there.
One of the first things one must pay attention to when travelling. Well you’ve read of the many tips on how to travel light or to pack lightly, I personally am not so good in that department. I try to pack neatly, especially when travelling with the kids. What I do is list down the essentials, the amount of each I should bring and check them out from my list when I had them tucked in my luggage. Oh, which is another thing worth writing about, I’m the worst when putting in stuff there. ^_^
You can actually get the most out of your travel by experiencing all types of activities offered in the land. You can fill your itineraries with indoor and outdoor activities that are unique in the region. Then, bring home more than just photos and souvenirs. However, moving from one place to another can be a bit inconvenient with a bulky set of personal necessities. Travelling light without leaving any of your travel essentials behind is easy with mini-products that are ideal for travel. Even if you are staying in a hotel, it is best to bring your own vanity kit and toiletries. This is especially so of products you trust and use for your hair, teeth and skin. You can never know what the hotel-provided shampoo would do to your flat hair and you wouldn’t want to go about with fizzy hair while enjoying the scenes… Worse, you wouldn’t want to be caught in a less glamorous mane on your photos!
Mini Everything Toiletries
Grooming essentials like soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and toothpaste can take a lot of luggage space if one doesn’t pay attention to their sizes. Purchasing mini or travel size versions of these items doesn’t only save on baggage space. It also relieves travellers from unnecessary weight. Toiletries for travel usually come in pocket sizes. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion can be found in sachet packs or mini bottles.
Those who plan to have these items on their carry all baggage can consider bottle sets that are TSA compliant (below images). You can simply fill it up with your supplies at home. This way, you don’t have to worry about meeting travel security requirements for bottled liquids. You wouldn’t want to be hassled by getting them all out of your luggage and confiscated when checked… It’s both a waste of time and money so go with the minis.
When it comes to hand or beauty soap, travellers can choose from pocket sized bars or soap sticks. These are easy to use and pack-away even when wet. There are also travel shampoos, hand soap, and body wash sheets that are ideal for outdoor travel like camping or trekking. All that is needed is a bit of water and one can lather these thin and tiny sheets. They leave you feeling clean and fresh just like when you shower.
For oral hygiene, one can choose from a variety of toothbrush and toothpaste set that come with a handy case. Travel-sized toothpastes surprisingly lasts longer than we thought. Toothbrushes with foldable or detachable handles are the ones ideal for you to travel light.
Travel Light, Mindful Travelling
Always consider the amount of time to be spent on your travel, if you are staying for more than a week, it is best to buy your essentials from the nearest shop than bring too less… Consider also the environment. Nowadays, there are a lot of environment-friendly alternatives to the usual one-use. Sometimes, the small issues make the big difference to your travel experience.
For those that are perhaps a bit bored with the regular vacation destinations, Asia is your go to. It offers a wealth of idyllic, and unique, vacation spots. There are many locations with beautiful beaches, remote islands with tropical palms.
Unexpectedly, there are a lot of fascinating centers of cultural and historical significance. Travellers can reach any of these five underestimated tourist destinations in Asia with excellent cheap air flights.
Japanese tourists taking a home vacation love the ‘Island of Little Beans’. However, this land of hot springs, lush olive groves and wild monkeys is still a well-kept secret when it comes to foreign tourists. The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima (pictured above) enjoys a Mediterranean climate. As a result citrus groves are a feature here. Hikers readily take the trails across the rocks. They enjoy the scenic views from the cliffs or those across the Kanka Valley. The island’s many hot springs provide a welcome respite for those tired feet. Specially after a long day of walking and sightseeing.
The home of the Balinese royal family, Ubud is a relatively small town. With an impressive number of galleries, museums and a lively art scene, Ubud is such a delight. For example, visitors can try the craft of a silversmith at Chez Monique. They can take home some personalized jewelry they have created. For a wildlife treat, the lush greenery of the Monkey Forest must be seen. It is home to a lively bunch of monkeys that are fun to watch. They will swoop down to steal food or anything that looks like it could be food, so beware!
In South Goa, there’s the surprisingly quiet and beautiful Agonda Beach. It has smooth, soft sand, stunning sunsets and charming beach huts where visitors can stay. Sea turtles nest at the beach. And there are lifeguards on patrol to ensure that it is safe for children. Definitely, Goa is a destination for those seeking peace and quiet. It is never crowded, the locals are very friendly. Tthere are enough shops and good restaurants to make going about interesting. Hire a scooter to make the most of visits to the other beaches and the local towns.
The Tang Palace walls and those of the Ming dynasty are clues to the glorious past of Xi’an. One of the oldest cities in China, which has many ancient tombs and ruins. Outside the city, at 25 miles to the east, the 7,000 statues of the Terracotta Army can be found. This represents one of the most significant archaeological finds in the world. The life-size warriors, their horses and chariots, depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. And they date from 210 BCE. Xi’an city has many important historical sites, including pagodas, royal mausoleums and towers. While outside the city walls, the southern area offers shopping, bars and some nightlife.
Penang Island, Malaysia
The “food paradise” of Malaysia, Penang’s rich multicultural history makes it a divine place to enjoy an extensive range of cuisines. It boasts of a splendid mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay foods. These are allegedly some of the best cuisine in Southeast Asia. Gurney Drive in Georgetown, Penang’s capital, is a coastal promenade with restaurants and bars. Alongside the huge variety of carts serving some of the best street food available. There are also upscale eateries and some Western chain restaurants. Take a break from all that eating and enjoy a trip to the Penang National Park – Malaysia’s newest park. See nesting sea turtles in the turtle sanctuary. Also, explore the trails across the pristine beaches or above the jungle canopy from the elevated walkway.
Smooth and easy road trips like train rides, with the whole family can be used as bonding opportunities for the kids and their parents. However, they can also bring some stress even at times when the kids are in their best behavior. Here are some ways to have smooth and easy road trips for the whole family to enjoy. Or to get rid of the stress and inject some fun for the whole gang throughout the trip.
Distract Everyone with Entertainment
Alleviate boredom by bringing along lots of props to keep everyone entertained. Parents with little kids can bring books, toys, mini-game consoles, portable DVDs with CDs of their favorite movies, mp3 loaded with music that everyone can sing along with, or audio books that they can listen to as they watch the scenery pass. Some playing cards or travel board games that require kids to interact with each other while playing is also a good option for long distance drives.
No speeding and no to rush hour trips
Take an easy drive by avoiding the rush hour traffic. Getting stuck in these snail pace jams is enough to stress everyone else in the car. The usual tendency is to make up for the lost time in traffic by speeding on less crowded roads. Speeding can put your passengers’ life in danger and it also consumes more fuel. The benefit on the other hand is just a few minutes of travel time saved.
Prepare a well stocked snack box for the trip
Hunger can make kids cranky and impatient, and sometimes even adults too. Once the little ones start getting irritable the adults usually get stressed, and a trip can sometimes go downhill from there.
Make sure that you have enough water or juice and healthy snacks that the kids can munch on during the trip. Stay away from caffeinated drinks or you might find yourself going to frequent toilet trips, and sugary food with additives as it can increase energy levels of the kids and make them more anxious.
A good mix of healthy food and drinks is essential for a pleasant road trip. Remember, a well packed snack hamper keeps hunger at bay.
Have a well-organized plan for the road trip
The last thing you want to happen in a road trip is to find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no idea on what to do next. Carefully plan the trip itinerary and routes that you’ll be taking, including alternative ones, so you can avoid bottlenecks or traffic prone areas and get to your destinations faster. Gear up on navigational tools so you can easily find your way around in case of changes in the itinerary.
Have your vehicle checked for safety or road worthiness
Proper car maintenance and regular service tune-ups is an important responsibility of car owners. But even a well maintained vehicle needs to be checked thoroughly before any long trip. This will reduce the chances of a breakdown during the trip and minimize accidents due to faulty car mechanisms. Thoroughly check the tires, batteries, oil and water to ensure smooth and easy road trips all the time.
Also check the condition of the seat belt and other safety features, wipers, air-con, heaters, and everything else that you need to make the journey more comfortable for everyone.
A first road trip with the whole family is usually a memorable experience that everyone will cherish. Some families even make a tradition out of it until the children move-out of the house. These simple tips can help you in making your own family road trips more fun and less stressful.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve featured Greece or its islands here and on my other travel blogs. I could actually be more of a Grecophile than a Japanophile as I have always thought I was. 😀
As I was growing up, the displays at home – mostly miniature statues of Greek gods/goddesses and those, have fascinated me. I always asked my father for stories of his visits to the islands, to which he obliged. It was my dad, after all, who brought me books relating to Greek mythology. He sent me photos of the Parthenon and parts of Athens during his visits. It was he who brought home those displays.
Although there’s anxiety about Greece’s economic conflict, reports of protests and those, don’t let it stop you. It’s not the whole of Greece after all. Strikes and demonstrations are on certain areas and you can always avoid being hassled by going to the other islands that comprise the beauty of the peninsula.
The best islands or the more famous ones would certainly be Santorini and Mykonos. I’ve learned though that Corfu is a nice place for holidays too, while researching. Especially for the writer in me!
Which would the best travel guide be for Corfu than Lawrence Durell’s Prospero’s Cell? The novelist spent years in the enchanted island and one can actually stay at the White house, a fisherman’s cottage in Kalami, that’s where he wrote the famous write up.
Also, one can relive the stories that Lawrence’s younger brother, Gerald, wrote in his book My Family and Other Animals, and Birds, Beasts, and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods.
Here are some more places you can visit, things you can put on your checklist when exploring Corfu, aside from its literary importance.
Some of the more prominent beaches to enjoy in Corfu are Canal D’Amour, Paleokastritsa, Kalamionas Beach, Arillas and Sidari. Blue and white – the colors of the Grecian flag is reminiscent of all these pristine shores. If you’re looking for a more secluded and less-crowded coast, try Kassiopi. There maybe really isn’t much to do except to drink in the beauty and blueness of the scenery.
Literally Channel of Love. It’s a beautiful, clear blue water path that is said to bring couples to the marriage altar if they swim together through it. I’m not one to believe folklore and I don’t know any couples who ended up married doing this though. The canal can be found in Sidari.
Said to be the to be the place where Odysseus disembarked and met Nausicaa for the first time. ^_^
If you want to do snorkeling, this beach is the best to go to.
A sheltered beach, perfect for a quite vacation – furthest north of the west coast Corfu.
Horse trekking (Gouvia)
Go adventurous and see the mountainous side on a horse back! It’s an experience of getting closer to nature atop those mighty, spirited creatures. There are horses for beginners and for the experienced ones. You can see the side of Corfu on a different point of view (literally). Horses are also great therapeutic animals, so it’s double the relaxing factor.
Visiting the local museum would be best to do to understand a city and its culture – any city. The Archaeological Museum of Corfu would be best recommended, but it is at the moment undergoing renovation. Try the Museum of Asian Art instead for a crossover experience.
Enjoy fun parks
Choose from the Pyramid Adventure Park, Aqualand or the Sidari Water Park Fun Park for some fun with the kids. There’s golf, giant water slides and a lot more fun activity for adults and kids.
Picnics and Foodtrips
Some of the food you should try while in Corfu are Tzatziki, Tiropitta, Mousaka. Also on the list are Stifado, Kelftiko, Prawn Saganaki, Oxtapothi and the local pittas. I will not describe each, but be assured that they are worth your adventurous palate! Never miss out on Baclava, Chalva and Galactoboureko afterwards… Also, gulp everything down with Metaxa Brandy if you find wine a little monotonous.
Corfu is truly one enchanted island as are many in Greece. Again, don’t let the economic turmoil discourage you. There are so many reasons why it is the best time to visit Greece all in all. The scenery, the experience, the history – they’re all different for each of us but for me, it’s walking around aimlessly and breathing in the beauty and culture.
Visiting a different country is a very exciting venture for a greenhorn traveller. But one must not let such excitement lead to a travel frenzy that can compromise budget and safety. A little research can help them plan their travel itineraries and budget to ensure that they won’t find themselves short on cash in a foreign land. Most are faced with questions related to spending and currency. Should I use my home currency or the local currency? Do I withdraw money from home and exchange there or exchange to the city I’m going to? Should I use a debit card or a credit card? And many more. Here are some Money Smart Travel Tips for those who are new to foreign travel.
Set a travel budget that includes emergency cash allowance. Create a financial travel plan by setting a budget for all types of travel expenses. You can list down all the basic travel expenses like airfare, room and board, meals, transportation, travel fees, etc. and deduct it in their travel fund. The excess funds can be allotted for pocket money which can be used for souvenirs, shopping, tips and anything else that they please.
Learn About Exchange Rates
Know the foreign exchange rates in the country /city you are visiting. Finding out the value of one’s money against a different currency can protect travellers from being taken advantage on by money changers that charge exorbitant fees or foreign exchange stations with pricey exchange rates. New travellers can easily find currency rates from the daily news, online currency sites, even phone apps. They can use the info as a guide in finding the best currency conversion rates available.
Airport Money Bureaus Aren’t Always the Best
Currency exchange counters at the Airport may not be the best place to exchange money. Just because the airport is your first point of contact when arriving in a city, don’t be eager to exchange cash immediately. This brings us to the next point.
Be Cash Ready
Exchange at least $100 worth of home currency into the local currency of one’s destination country before leaving. There are some expenses at the airport that may require the use of local currencies. Having some money readily available is both convenient and practical for travellers as they don’t have to scramble for money changers in the airport and be forced to accept pricey currency rates. Foreign exchange service providers like Travelex can help travellers with their currency exchange needs even before they board the plane. They also have other products like pre-paid currency cards and international payment services available for those who don’t want to carry too much bills during their travel.
ATM Fees and Credit Card Transaction Fees
Withdrawing at banks and ATM machines with your debit card means fees. (Not all, but it’s best to know your bank policies.) Thank goodness, there are credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. It is best to invest in one if you travel often. You will anyway need a credit card on file – hotel booking, for one.
Credit card companies also offer points and cashback rewards. Using it more often, means getting more in the long run. You can use your card without worry for shopping, eating out, checking in on hotels, even paying for taxi fare. And credit cards has the lowest fees compared to ATM transactions and money exchange counters.
Always Opt to Use Local Currency
One of the most common mistakes new traveller’s make is accepting the card machine’s prompt to convert payment to your home country’s currency for you. Sometimes, it’s the server who will ask you – delivered in a friendly suggestion. As mentioned above, there may be an additional fee on top of the conversion fees. It may feel more comfortable to pay in your currency when presented with the situation. With being more familiar and having less the hassle of mentally converting how much it costs in the local money, it’s easier to say ‘yes.’
Money Smart Travel Tips For All
With the budget set and financial tools like cash, traveller’s or manager’s cheque, debit cards, etc. ready, you are good to go. Along with these tools, financially smart travellers should always bring along with them the reminder to stick with their budget. People who spend more than what they have usually end up in trouble, and one of the worst things that a traveller can experience is to get in trouble while in a foreign land – moneywise. The best way to protect one’s self is to stick with the budget and consider the above cash savvy tips.
Such family travel sites also feature booking services for the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and other countries with a feature “popular baby safe destinations.” I was glad to see Vienna listed there and some other places that I would love to visit someday with the kids.
Be sure to check a one-stop family travel website before you decide on your next trip!