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An epic day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay

An epic day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.

Top 3 North American Destinations for Houseboating

Houseboating offers an exotic means of exploring the wonders of North America, and according to MSN, this means of travel can be surprisingly affordable—often costing less than $1,000 a month for ownership. Whether you own for year-round boating or choose to rent for a leisurely family-friendly getaway, North America offers a variety of exciting destinations for boating enthusiast. Here are the top three to explore.

Ontario, Canada: Hudson Bay and Lake Superior

Photo by Balcer via Wikimedia Commons

At first glance, Ontario might not seem like the most obvious houseboating destination, but the Canadian province offers several excellent boating opportunities dotting the coast of the Hudson Bay and Lake Superior. These bodies of water echo the vast feel of the ocean, while also offering great views of Ontario’s unique woodland scenery. Because of the occasionally volatile nature of Lake Superior, it’s important that anyone boating there maintains a thorough understanding of essential houseboat operations. Prior to stepping aboard, make sure you have taken the proper boater exams from BoaterExam.com, for example, and are familiar with the boating regulations specific to Ontario.

Florida’s IntraCoastal Waterway

Photo by Robert DeMeo via Wikimedia Commons

If you have time to spare for a longer houseboat vacation, you’ll want to consider navigating the Intracoastal Waterway. This 3,000 mile waterway runs along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, providing a safe alternative to the dangers typically encountered while boating on the open sea. Of course, few vacationers possess the time required to travel along the full length of the Intracoastal Waterway, which is why many choose to focus on the portion found along Florida’s coast. This condensed option offers access to both the Atlantic and the Gulf Coast, while also allowing boaters to enjoy sweeping views of Florida’s beaches and swamps. The state’s department of tourism recommends vigilantly watching for such potential hazards as bridges and deep waters, as both of these can create significant risks for distracted boaters.

New York’s Lake Champlain and Adirondack Park

Photo by Travisleehardin via Wikimedia Commons

Houseboat Magazine recommends Lake Champlain as the boating destination of choice for anyone on the hunt for a relaxed family vacation. Straddling Vermont, New York and Quebec, the expansive inland lake offers plenty of opportunities for mainland exploration to suit all ages. The section of the lake falling within the borders of New York is particularly beautiful, as much of it is part of the state’s famous Adirondack Park. Adirondack Park is the largest park and National Historic Area in the contiguous United States. It continuously draws in and enchants visitors with its intersection of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, according to the official Adirondack Park Agency. While you’re there, enjoy a leisurely boating excursion along Lake Champlain’s coast, then enjoy some time on land while hiking in the great Adirondacks.

Planning A Road Trip of a Lifetime Through Italy

Italian landscape
Photo by Angelo Amboldi on Flickr

Some places are best seen through the window of a train, on horseback or by hiking across their scenic countryside. However, Italy is a country that should be seen one way only – from the driver’s seat of an open topped sports car, preferably while wearing giant Audrey Hepburn sunglasses while your scarf whips out behind you. The country boasts incredible, diverse landscapes, winding roads, open fields and fantastic views.

So if you’re planning to drive across Italy, here are some of the routes you should be sure to check out.

The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise

NATIONAL PARK OF ABRUZZO

Photo by Loigi Re on Flickr

The regions of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise are relatively unknown, lying two hours rive to the east of Rome. However, come out here and you’ll see some of the most mind blowing countryside you’re likely to find in Italy.

As you drive into the park (Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo) you’ll find the road ascends quickly into mountains where you’ll be surrounded by grazing white cows and forests fully of winding hiking trails. Along the way you’ll pass many small, virtually untouched towns, however, no matter how tempting it is for the best trip just drive straight on until you reach the town of Vasto, where there are outstanding views off the Trabocchi coast.

The Italian Riviera

Portofino Harbor Italian Rivera

Photo by Stan Shebs Creative Commons license

The famous Italian Riviera starts at the French border and works its way past seaside towns, farmer’s markets and some truly top notch restaurants all the way down to Tuscany. Enjoy fantastic views and woosh through a series of tunnels just like you’re in one of those car adverts.

Tuscany

Tuscany near ancient Sienna

Photo by Norbert Nagel  licensed under the Creative Commons

But why stop at the end of the Riviera? Tuscany is home to the finest of Italy’s restaurants, vineyards and holiday villas, to the point where you’ll really struggle to find a bad place to eat.

Sicily

Sicily, Italy

For Sicily you want a fast car and two weeks to drive it. Don’t just go from one end of the island to the other. Drive right around the coast, stopping off to see the islands famous vineyards at Cerasuolo di Vitoria and Mount Etna. See the ancient Greek theatres and temples, or simply find some great beaches and soak up the sun! This is a great place to really take your car exploring. As Direct Ferries director Matt Davies says, “It’s really worth getting your car on a boat and bringing it over the Sicily with you. There’s nothing quite like speeding along with the Sicilian breeze rushing past.”

The Amalfi Coast

Beautiful Amalfi Coast

Not all the famous hotspots on Italy are ones you should be drawn to however. It seems every travel guide out there recommends the Amalfi coast, and it’s true it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, which is why the roads are clogged with tour buses and municipal coaches, usually with a tail of other holiday drivers honking their horns behind them. To make it worse, you’ll be dealing with this while riding round some extremely bendy roads, sometimes with a 200 foot drop on one side. We advise taking your car elsewhere.

By Sam Wright

Sam Wright is a journalist based in Norwich, Norfolk.

Driving In Europe On Vacation – Why You Need To Prepare!

European map satellite view

For many Americans, a chance to visit Europe is the vacation of a lifetime. Whether you want to check out London with its historic buildings and unique culture, relax in the sunshine in Greece, explore Italy or maybe even see where your ancestors came from, there are loads of reasons to make the trip across the Atlantic, and it has never been cheaper, either! Of course, once you get to your country of choice, you are probably going to already have a lot of things in mind to see and do, and while compared with the US, places like England and Sweden may look tiny on a map, when you’re there things suddenly seem a lot further away than you may have imagined! For this reason, most people prefer to hire a car, and while this is generally an option for most American license holders in accordance with the laws in the country you are visiting (you may have to be over 25 or have a certain number of years’ driving experience), this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll find it easy on the roads.

Here are some reasons to prepare before you attempt driving anywhere in Europe for the first time:

Road Signs Can Be Baffling

Yield sign in Europe

While Europe is united, it is by no means standardized when it comes to road signs. This means if you are familiar with how the colors and symbols work in Germany, things will all change should you cross a border. It doesn’t take long to read up on what the traffic safety controls in the country you are going to look like, and it really pays to do this so you can understand when you are reaching a junction and things like what color sign points to a major road and what will take you down a scary country track. You should also work out the conversion ratio between miles and kilometers, because with the exception of Britain, everywhere in Europe displays distances and speed limits in the metric system. Of course, while in Britain the signs may all be in English and tell you things in familiar mile measurements, here you’ll be driving on the opposite side of the road, which isn’t really something you can prepare for in advance but is worth thinking about!

Touring

motorcycle-tours-174956_150Many people who visit Europe plan to go through more than one country (another reason why understanding the different traffic control equipment used in different places you’ll visit is important), and while this can be easy to do, you may find that there are places where you can cross borders without even being aware you have done it right away! If you are planning to tour, really research your route so you know at what point you might leave Germany and enter the Netherlands, for example, and stick to your plan so you don’t end up straying between countries where you didn’t intend to.

Driving in Europe can vary between being remarkably easy and pleasant to downright terrifying depending on where you are and how far off the beaten track you venture, so read up and plan ahead as much as you can!

Travis Finn, the author of this article, works with, Bo Phillips, leading providers of work-zone safety equipment. He is fascinated by Astronomy and often visits the planetarium to observe the movement of the stars.

3 Ways Traveling Changed My Life

Panoramic view from Bella Vista Lodge in Costa Rica

Before I ever traveled, one of the things I heard most about the experience is how it will change your whole life. This always intrigued me and was one of the primary reasons I was so interested in doing it. Now that I have become the world traveler I always dreamed of being, I see firsthand the truth of that statement. My adventures around the globe have impacted me in a way I never thought possible and have shaped so much of who I am today. If you are one of those people with the burning desire to travel in your heart, but have yet to take the leap, or are one of those people who feel unsure about traveling, but think you should do it because you feel it will reap some sort of benefit, I hope this post will provide the nudge you need to book that ticket and get out in the world.

You Get More Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Traveling produces plenty of situations where you will feel uncomfortable. You will not understand what is going on. You will not be sure what to do next. You will find yourself in awkward situations rife with miscommunications. You will feel apprehensive about trying something new or going somewhere all by yourself. But, as time goes on, you will get more comfortable with the discomfort and you will power through anyway. This comfort with discomfort will spill over into other areas of your life, and you will find yourself saying ‘’yes’’ to life more. You will find the courage to pursue the things you really want in life. You may still feel scared or apprehensive. You know it will be challenging, but you will feel more confident in going after these things anyway, because you know you can handle the obstacles. Your fear reduces.

Patience Grasshopper

Sheep on the slop

 

I have always been a very impatient person and traveling definitely mellowed me out. Sure, I still have my moments, but for the most part, I have become infinitely more patient as a result of my traveling experiences. Things will constantly happen that will test your patience, from waiting 45 minutes for French fries when you are the only customer in the restaurant to hanging around a bus station for two hours because the online schedule was just completely wrong. Traveling will give you limitless opportunities to practice being more patient, and it is this practice after all that really helps us develop certain character traits. Now, when things are not happening on my timetable, whether I am traveling or in the supermarket in my hometown, I noticed a marked difference in my patience levels. And, with greater patience, come greater peace of mind, and isn’t that what we crave most in life?

Greater Appreciation and Gratitude

Fisherman in Chiloe on their routine

Most of us living in the developed, modern world are pretty ungrateful brats. Not because we are horrible people, but because we grew up in very comfortable circumstances and have never known anything different. We just take all these comforts, conveniences and opportunities for granted. But, if you travel to parts of the world where these things are not givens, you will see your life in a whole different light. All the things we think are problems suddenly shrink dramatically. You see true suffering and hardship. You see people living in ways you cannot imagine. There are people all over the world who wake up every day and simply focus on trying to survive. There is no thought of what they ‘’want.’’ The only thing on their mind is getting what they need to stay alive every day. People breaking their backs in rice fields or walking miles just to get clean water. Once I experienced this firsthand, my view of my own life changed dramatically. Many of my problems do not bother me as much anymore because I have a whole new perspective on them.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about her travel experiences; she recommends visiting Kanetix to learn more about travel insurance in Canada.

Save-cation Destinations for Christmas Celebration

Christmas cookies

The winters have arrived and so the celebrations of Christmas. Yes, the “jingle bells” have started ringing and you are about to experience the fun and romp of Christmas. It is one of the joyful festivities where people forget their differences, indulge in fun filled activities, put on their best clothes and visit various churches and make 25th of December worth remembering. Don’t you want to make your day a special one? Don’t you want to visit the best places where you can celebrate your Christmas carnival along with your friends and family? Don’t you want to click those beautiful pictures of your near and dear ones on this wonderful day? Of course you would want to relish all the enjoyments.

Know the best places to make your trip a memorable one

Step out of your home to make your Christmas memorable. Be it friends, family or kids, go out and explore the jaw-dropping places.

Lapland, Finland

Snow Lapland, Finland

Lapland is located near the Arctic Circle in the north. This place has myriads of holiday revelers who actually know how to celebrate Christmas. Apart from this kids would love to Lapland again and again they would be taught calligraphy and to compose their own wish-lists with the help of the traditional quills! Attractions like Rauna zoo is a great place where you would be deluged by a number of animals.

Quebec, Canada

Quebec during christmas timeDo you like things that are made up of recycled materials? Then Quebec is for the environment lovers. You would see the eye catching trees that are made out of recycled metals of sheets and lights that are powered by the cyclists! The sausage lovers, you will be flooded by sausages in the German Christmas market.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg christmas market

It is a wonderland where you would get a plenty tralatitious Christmas biscuits, apricots and foie-gras. This place is packed with innumerable concerts like gypsy jazz and other cultural events. You will be welcomed by the Christmas theme party and ample of Alsatian wine.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

It is a colorful city where Christmas is a celebratory event. You would see grand churches and welcomed with awesome fruit drinks. The locals over there make pilgrimages for shelter when they start their journey to Bethlehem.

Lalibela, Ethiopia

Travel 200 miles from Addis Ababa and you land in this famous place where churches have been unearthed from the ground. Lalibela has been declared as the “New Jerusalem”. The decorations done are so attractive that you will not feel like coming to your home.

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Christmas-Dyker-Heights-Brooklyn

The lovely gander where you would see how amazingly the New Yorkers celebrate Christmas. The passer-by definitely ogles at the decorations and the beautifully made over-sized toys and the two-story Santa. The lightings are so beautiful that will make you click thousands of pictures.

Barcelona, Spain

If you can manage to come to this family-friendly place, then nothing better than Barcelona. You can catch up with Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The fireworks, firing of canons, the parade is worth watching.

Queenstown, New Zealand

For the sun-lovers, this is the place where you are supposed to be. The jet boat ride, river surfing and paragliding just sounds so thrilling and adventurous. For the ones who do not want to sit under the quilts, this is the right place for them. Be a water mermaid and swim through the happiness.

Manila, Philippines

From September till January who will have a wonderful experience of Christmas. The longest ever celebrated festival has been in the Philippines. Christmas bazaars and lantern parades are the major attractions. Take out sometime of your busy schedule to enjoy the breath taking scenarios here.

New York City, USA

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Ogle through the world tallest Christmas tree and dive into the lights and the dusty snow in USA. Click pictures, eat as much as you want and dance till you get tired. These are the fun moments you would get in New York.

Traveling to these places won’t pinch your pocket much. With Flight details , you can utilize the facility provided by the company to know the budget airlines that fly en route the location you wish to travel. Get the tickets and fly to your favorite destination this Christmas!

A Few Ways To Save On Your Holiday Before You Leave The House

Save On And Before The Holiday

The global financial crisis and the following recession has hit the nation hard since it first crashed in 2008. But, if you’re one of the lucky ones who can afford a break in 2013, chances are you’ll be looking for ways to save and make your pound go further.

Savvy holiday makers start looking deals well before they even leave their living room. The Guardian listed the Gatwick Express as one of the biggest rip-offs when it comes to setting off into the sunset. Apparently “the Southern service between the same stations takes five minutes longer and has a standard price of $17.50 each way, but you can buy two $8 singles if you book sufficiently far in advance.” In fact their top four tips all involve ways to save simply getting to the airport.

Once you’re actually away from home and on your holiday, that extra ice cream, bargain bikini or celebratory bottle of Champagne seems like an excellent idea but even the smallest daily indulgences can mount up over a fortnight. Instead of ruining your holiday with a miserably tight daily budget, why not start saving before you’ve even left the house? Following these savvy suggestions when you’re planning your trip means there’ll be more in the kitty for a little extra extravagance when you’re away.

Roaming charges

Check up with your provider on extra charges incurred overseas and any restrictions you may encounter. You don’t want to be welcomed home with an enormous mobile bill. Be aware that restrictions might affect you even if you’re simply the recipient of calls and texts and roaming internet charges can be astronomical. If in doubt, switch off! If you need to be available, it might make sense to take a cheap handset and just buy a cheap pay-as-you-go SIM on a local network when you’re away.

Shop round for the best money rates

Use independent online comparisons sites to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Deals can change hourly if not daily, so if you have time, monitor fluctuations over a few days and then make your judgement. These days a combination one or two prepaid cards, preloaded with a fixed amount on a fixed rate and some cash is ideal for traveling abroad. Prepaid cards often offer the best deals when it comes to forex and have the added bonus that they won’t incur fees with every swipe like a credit card. Sometimes you can get a discount for picking up your currency in person, for exchanging a certain amount. Never, ever leave it ‘til the airport at the last minute, where you’re guaranteed to pay above the odds for a paltry return.

Take one, buy one

Research prices on the things you might have planned to buy when you arrive. If toiletries are cheap, travel light and stock up when you get there – but if the reverse is true, ensure you carry adequate supplies. Similarly, check up on medicines and sun protection prices and plan your purchases accordingly. If you’re heading somewhere where clothing, technology and activity equipment is cheap, you might even find that traveling light could actually save you cash.

If you can’t do without your morning cuppa pack your own rather than buying expensive imported goods when you’re there. Taking your own snacks and some more satisfying food to eat whilst you travel also means you avoid expensive packaged fast-food and the lure of airport restaurants.

Save on your stay

Rather than automatically opting for a hotel, explore the options. A vacation rental where you’re hosted by a family allows you to get closer to a culture and benefit from local knowledge. A working holiday on a farm or project could even mean you’re the one getting paid to stay. A home swap means free accommodation, provided you’re happy for a family to stay in yours whilst you’re away.

If you’re visiting somewhere where drinking, dining and entertainment are expensive, it could pay to go all-inclusive. If you’re happy to stay in and cook, self-catering facilities mean you can save on pricey restaurant meals. Check up on local food costs – will it be more budget-friendly to bring your own larder items, or hit the local markets?

Avoid excess

Make sure you know about restrictions and regulations on the items you can carry in your luggage, and clue yourself in on baggage allowances regarding both size and weight. Plan your packing accordingly in order to avoid hefty excess charges, and ensure you’ve been accurate with at-home weighing and measuring. Pack as light as possible and, if possible, avoid checking in any luggage at all – some carriers now have no minimum free allowance whatsoever.

Arriving at the airport

You might have booked a budget break, but it’d easy to overlook the initial and final outlays – getting to and from the airport. If you plan to take a minicab, get a number of quotes and choose the most favorable rate. Book in advance to ensure a car will be available. If possible, use public transport – it can be a headache with baggage, but also saves you cash.

If you need train tickets, use discount services and book as far in advance as possible. There are also a number of minibus services that will pick you up directly from your home or a designated stop. Driving to the airport and parking your car onsite is always pretty expensive, but you can lessen the outlay by advance booking – or seeing if a friend would travel with you and drive your car home after you depart.

Featured images:

Reporting from London on lifestyle topics ranging from fashion and parenting to travel and finance, Sarah Thompson enjoys sharing tips on how to afford life’s little luxuries on a tight budget. You can read more of Sarah’s articles in a wide variety of blogs and websites.

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