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Posts tagged ‘Travel Tips’

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.

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.

Benefits Of Skiing As Holiday Exercise

Descending on a ski slop

If you are planning a holiday, you have probably browsed through a lot of destinations and checked different activities online or on travel brochures. But have you ever thought of having a skiing holiday? Getting exercise and being fit in this busy world is often a challenge especially if you are in the corporate world where you are tied to a desk or has a career that takes a lot of demands on your time. The only real free time that you have for your own is when you take a vacation. This is then an ideal time for you to get fit as well. Of course skiing is not going to make you lose that 20 extra pounds in a week or two but it is certainly a way to hit two birds in one stone; enjoy yourself in a different surroundings and get the exercise you need.

Effective Exercise

Skiing can help you to shed up to 5 pounds in a span of 7 days; this is if you spend 6 hours of everyday going up and down that slope and burning 3000 calories. You get to tone your muscles, boost your immune system and have a cheerful sense well being in the process.

Here are some of the things you can look forward to if you decide to use ski for your exercise. 

Skiing needs balance

The effort of keeping yourself steady on the piste which is intent on making you slip is a demonstration of dexterity. Your stomach muscles are working overtime to keep your body upright and in turn are making you toned without having to go through thousands of sit ups.

First Rate Cardio

Cardio exercises are absolutely necessary for keeping healthy. Elevated heart rate is good for circulation of the blood which is responsible for distributing the oxygen and nutrients throughout the body as well as eliminating waste. Skiing allows the heart to pump more oxygen through the blood, expanding muscles and thus burning calories. Continuous skiing for 30 minutes is comparable to the same time spent doing cardio exercises. Add walking up the slope instead of taking the ski lift and you are on your way to a great workout.

Get Great Looking Legs

If you have ever despaired of having thighs that will not slim down, try skiing and you will be giving your thighs, hamstrings and buttocks a run while crouching your way through the slopes. It certainly beats having to do lunges for half an hour right? And it exercises both your upper and lower arms without doing a different set of exercise as you strive to control your speed and the direction you are going.

If you are not a beginner, look for the more challenging slopes because the steeper it is, the higher the number of calories you can burn. Plus the freezing temperature contributes a share in burning those calories.

So for your vacation this time around, forget about traipsing in the jungle or sunning on a beach. Take a skiing holiday and achieve a flawless technique on the piste while keeping your body fit.

Anthony Roberts, the writer, has been traveling around the world while working online. His articles on travel are must-reads. He loves to share his ideas about enjoying skiing holidays. His favorite adventure is visiting Japan. Find out more of his stories on skiing hanazononiseko.com/npc/.

Four Beautiful Fall Foliage Tours for Motorcyclists

Foliage photo over the hills sunsetPhoto credit: ForestWander

 

Fall leaves are peaking all over the United States. The brilliant yellows, oranges and reds are in full swing from the Midwest, Central Plains, Northeast and upper Northwest, according to Stormfax.com. Here are peak foliage times for a few favorites:

  • Minnesota, Wisconsin and most of the Midwest peak in mid-October
  • Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and northern Arizona and New Mexico mostly mid- to late-October
  • Northern New England states from late September through mid-October
  • Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, Kentucky Tennessee and the lower New England states through late-October
  • Parts of Oregon and northern California, and a thin belt through northern Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia through early November

Here are a few favorites for motorcyclists:

Skyline Drive, Va.

Photo by Maisnam via Wikimedia Commons

 

This 105-mile stretch of road carves its way through the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. In the fall, the panoramic vistas are simply stunning. The only drawback is the weekend traffic in autumn is typically bumper to bumper. Avoid it by heading to the park early on a weekday, when traffic is typically lighter. Or, look at it this way: Crawling traffic allows you more time to enjoy the scenery. For info about attractions in the area check Skyline Drive.

Tunnel of Trees, Mich.

Photo by ellenm1 via Flickr

 

The beautiful Tunnel of Trees road, which skirts Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline, is a motorcyclist’s dream come true. It’s a narrow, two-lane 22-mile-long road surrounded — as the name implies — by trees that are simply stunning in the fall. This road offers some twists, but the speed limit is low for this pleasure ride, and not one meant to challenge your maneuverability. Start this ride in Harbor Springs, Mich. View the route here

Route 100, Vt.

Photo by Patrick via Wikimedia Commons

 

New England is still considered by many to be the ultimate leaf peeping destination. Mass Audubon reports that more than 1 million tourists descend on the area during the leaf-peeping season, which injects more than $1 billion into the local economy. Motorcycle.com says Vermont’s Route 100 is one of the prettiest roads that typifies all New England has to offer — colorful leaves, picturesque farmland and rolling hills. This 200-mile road stretches from roughly Wilmington, Vt. to almost the Canadian border. Take a virtual tour here.

Pig Trail Scenic Byway, Ozark, Ark.

Photo by mabecerra via Flickr

 

Located in the heavily wooded Boston Mountains in the Ozarks, the 19-mile Pig Trail is one of the best rides in the South. In some sections, you will find yourself riding through a tunnel of brilliantly colored foliage. Legend has it the trail got its name in honor of University of Arkansas Razorback fans and students. Read more here.

Before You Head Out

  • StormFax has a list of fall foliage hotlines to help you plan your trip.
  • Book hotels as soon as you can; they fill up quickly during the fall. Use an app like TripAdvisor for alerts about sudden weather changes.
  • We know you know this, but give your bike a once-over before hitting the highway. You can find high quality, cheap motorcycle tires that won’t take a big bite from your travel budget.
  • Motorcycle Tours offers guide-led tours, if you’d prefer to ride with an experience foliage fan.
  • Check the weather and be prepared for severe temperature changes, especially in mountainous areas.

The Minimalist Guide To Your Next Family Getaway

happy family playing with dog on beach

Ah, family vacations and the happiness and tribulations that come with them. As parents, we work extra hard the whole year round to provide for our families and of course, indulge in little luxuries. As much as we would like our family vacations to be entirely relaxing, we all know that it’s going to be a major effort doing that. Dealing with travel agents, figuring out which places have child friendly accommodation and trying to predict the weather can all take a toll on us. I asked several seasoned jet-setting parents and got some valuable traveling advice. Here they are.

On Packing

Parents tend to over think and in the process, over pack. You’re probably thinking, “But anything can happen! I think it’s a pretty good idea to bring along this and that.” Well, think of it this way. This and that can add up to a hefty extra luggage fee or an aching back.

  1. Bring travel-friendly gadgets along for entertainment. Kids generally get bored during a long road trip or flights. A tablet or an MP3 player can keep kids of all ages occupied. Make sure that you installed kid-oriented apps to keep them busy and stop them from asking, “Are we there yet?
  2. Pack a first-aid kit that can fit in your handbag. Use a flat plastic container to put essentials like adhesive bandages, adult and children’s paracetamol, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment and sting reliever.
  3. Instead of lugging around a big nursery bag, pack a change of your child’s clothes in a large Ziploc bag and place it inside your handbag.
  4. Keep your activities in mind when packing clothes. If you’re planning for a farm stay in Barrington Tops, you won’t need your formal evening clothes obviously. Bring clothes you can easily wash too, especially if you plan to stay longer.
  5. Remember that carry-on bags are supposed to make travelling convenient and hassle-free, not filled with unnecessary things that you think you absolutely must bring.

With these tips in mind, get rid of those “what ifs” that can weigh you down significantly. Pack only what matters the most.

On Traveling and Planning Activities

Traveling in a group is never easy, so is planning and scheduling the activities for everyone. It’s going to be extra challenging if you have a multi-generation group (grandparents, you and the children), plus pets. How exactly are you going to do this? Read on and find out.

Pet Friendly Accommodation NSWPhoto source: Image author owned
  1. Search for a pet-friendly accommodation. Most hotels and resorts do not allow pets and it’s sad for pet owners who can’t leave their furry friends behind.
  2. Schedule free time. Anyone can do anything they want to do during that time and it’s an absolute must to keep your sanity, given the different levels of interests. However, it’s also necessary that no one should go off alone to be on the safe side.
  3. Do your homework. Unplanned trips are fun, but when you’re going on a trip with kids and pets, it’s going to be a disaster. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to search far for information on how to get to your destination or what to expect there.
  4. Just enjoy. Accept the fact that anything can happen and it’s usually out of our control. From heavy rains to delayed flights, those situations can certainly dampen our day. Cheer up! Most accommodations have DVDs and Wi-Fi. Watch a movie or brag on Facebook about your family getaway.

Conclusion

Family with kids on vacation

You planned a family vacation because you want to make memories, catch up with your grown kids or reconnect with your parents. If you feel that things are getting a little nasty, remind yourself to focus on your goals. If you have the right attitude (yes, I’m talking about letting go of negative thoughts), you’ll definitely be reaping the rewards.

Debraby Debra Wright who is a creative and innovative blogger and online marketing specialist. She uses her wordsmith skills to share her ideas, thoughts, and tips to other people about topics that fascinate her, such as giving tips when traveling with kids. Follow Debra on twitter @debrawrites

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