The 5 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Your Next Trip

ipad5_2There’s nothing like a good app to make your next trip a little easier. If you’re bringing your smartphone or tablet along with you, there are so many travel apps you can download. Do you want something for directions? Language translation? Last minute deals? Well, there’s an app for that! Here are some of the best travel apps to download before your next trip:

Say Where

Do you worry about getting lost? Not being able to find what a decent place to eat while you’re travelling? The Say Where app is one easy (and free!) way to travel worry free. Simply press down the button on your screen and say where you are. From there, the app will pull up a map of your location, give you a traffic report, the Yellow Pages, or even a Yelp review of nearby attractions. This app is super handy if you don’t want to ask a stranger for directions. Plus, if you have this downloaded on your phone, you won’t need to download the Yelp app as well.

iTalk

Want to remember every part of your vacation? It’s possible with iTalk. This handy app allows you to record the sounds around you. Whether you want to save a conversation or the sound of a live street band, it’s all at the touch of your fingertips! You can record several minutes of sound before you even notice any change in your memory. Simply press the record button and get ready to hold onto some of those once in a lifetime memories.

Sit or Squat

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go! Unfortunately, when you travel, you need to think about where the nearest washrooms are. That is where this next travel app comes in handy. Sponsored by Charmin, Sit or Squat is a database of the nearest locations of free washrooms to use. It doesn’t just list the locations, though. You’ll also get user reviews and an actual photo of the facilities. Yes, you can be a little choosey…. even on the go.

Lingolook Flashcards

For just $4.99, you can have a little extra help dealing with foreign languages. This next travel app is all about providing flashcards with simple words and phrases, like: “Speak slowly” and “I need a taxi.” It comes in a number of different languages, like Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, and Chinese. Best of all? It doesn’t require a data plan to work.

Packing Pro

Do you worry about your suitcase going over the weight allowance? How about bringing back more goods than you’re allowed? With the Packing Pro travel app, you won’t have to worry about that anymore. This program sets up a to-do list and helps you to keep track of everything you’ve got with you. Everyone in your family can make use of this. There are settings for women, men, and children, so that every packing list is customized to your individual needs.

Make the most of the latest technology by downloading some of these useful apps. When you’re travelling the world, you’ll be glad to have a little back up!

The Oddest Things to See in the United States

Do you love anything and everything novelty? Then, it’s time to get a little creative with your next trip. You don’t have to stick to the regular tourist attractions to have fun. There are some strange yet interesting things you can go see. While they may not be the most mainstream, they are certainly a talking point.

Before taking a trip to the US, remember to think about any necessary paperwork or visas you may need. For instance, if you’re based in parts of Europe, you may requite a visum usa-ESA (or Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Make sure you know before you go! Now that you’re prepared….here are some of the oddest things you can see in the United States:

The World’s Largest Dresser

What could be odder than going to see the world’s largest dresser? Yes, North Carolina has not one – but two – giant dressers to visit. (Clearly one wasn’t enough!) There is a 38-foot dresser that features a pair of socks hanging out of the dresser. Or if you’d rather go sock free, there is an 80-foot dresser to visit as well. You can take pictures of the dressers or in front of them. If you’re feeling really ambitious, why not see them both? If oversized furniture is your thing, you may also want to drive to Anniston, Alabama. They offer tourists a peek at the world’s largest chair.

The Barbed Wire Museum

Everyone has an interest in barbed wire…. right? Okay, maybe not. If you’re up for something a little different, though, the Barbed Wire Museum might be worth the trip. It is located in Texas and is focused on telling the world “all about the history of barbed wire, its artefacts, the significance of the invention, and the impact on the development of the Old West.” In one afternoon, all the questions you ever had (or didn’t have) about barbed wire will be answered. This is definitely one odd place to visit in the United States.

carhengeCarhenge

Okay, this next attraction is kind of cool, even if it is really weird. Have you ever dreamed of visiting Stonehenge? If you can’t afford the airfare, you can head on over to Alliance, Nebraska instead. Don’t go there expecting to see stacked stones. This attraction is called carhenge for a reason…and yes, it really is made up of stacked, grey cars. While this may not be your average tourist destination, you can still find ways to have a lot of fun.

The Corn Palace

Who knew that corn was so popular? Apparently in South Dakota, it is. Forget going to see Mount Rushmore…head to the Corn Palace instead! This ‘palace’ is dedicated entirely to corn crops. It offers tons of entertainment, events, and local festivals. With bright yellow and green minarets out front, you won’t be able to miss this endearingly odd place.

The National Museum of Funeral History

Who doesn’t have an interest in funerals? Oh, wait, most people. If you’re in Texas and want to learn all about the history of funerals, there is only one place to visit. The National Museum of Funeral History has a raft of exhibits from Civil War embalming to the use of the motorized hearse. This may not be how you pictured spending a vacation, but hey – it’s an interesting story to bring back to your friends.
Want to do something a little different? Then get creative and check out some odd attractions on your next trip to the United States. With so many strange things to see, you’ll have your pick.

Why London Is My Favourite Place to Visit

We all have that one place that speaks to us. Maybe it’s a place that you’ve travelled to before – or maybe you dream of going one day. For me, that place is London, England. There is just something about it. I visited for the first time when I was ten or eleven. Since then, I’ve returned five times…. and every time it is just as memorable as the last.

315035_10100412306661521_27003789_nThe first time I went, my entire family stayed in a tiny flat. My brother, sister, and I all shared one very cramped room. It didn’t matter, though. We were just excited to be there. It was our first trip to Europe and we were in awe of the fact everything was so different than it was at home. During the day, we visited local attractions like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Dungeon. At night, we stayed in the flat and watched British television. It was like being transported into a totally new world.

It was several years before I returned. Since my last visit, though, I had become obsessed with British culture. I would watch British music videos and TV shows online. I had the Union Jack hanging up in my room. I just couldn’t get enough! That trip, I was more excited than ever to return to London. I even came prepared with a list of CDs and singles to bring back with me.

That second trip was one of the best I have ever been on. Why? I was back in my favourite place. Even better, was the fact that I went to a concert by my favourite British pop star, Gareth Gates. (My dad had pulled some massive strings to snag a pair of tickets to the sold-out show.) Even now, I look back on that trip and feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

I always vowed to return to London, though it was a while before I actually did. Gone were the days of tourist attractions, though. I was more interested in shopping, concerts, and going to West End plays. While my interests had changed somewhat, I still had an incredible time. After that trip, I returned the following year, and the year after that as well. Each time, I tried to have a special experience lined up: a book signing, a show, or a new attraction to see. I desperately wanted every single trip there to be unique. London became my happy place.

Even though I haven’t been able to return to London for a few years now, I still dream of the day that I will. There is so much that I miss about it: the people, the places, the culture, and most importantly, the atmosphere. I think that is the best part about travelling to a city or country that you love. Somehow you fall head over heels about every little thing it has to offer.

While I may not be heading back to London anytime soon, I know that I will. When you truly love a place, you’ll do anything to get back there again! London is my favourite place in the world. What is yours?

What to See and What to Skip in Florida

Florida is attraction central. With so much to do, there are almost too many choices! If you’re planning a trip to the sunshine state, you’ll need to start thinking about what is really worth your time. To narrow down your choices, here is a list of what to see and what to skip in Florida.

See: Disney World

It almost goes without saying that heading to the most popular theme park in the entire world is a good idea. There are many different parks to spend time in: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and The Animal Kingdom. If all of that wasn’t enough, there are also water parks like Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. If you are planning to spend time in Disney during your Florida vacation, be careful. You could easily spend your entire trip just seeing Disney! So, if you want to branch out a little, only take in a couple of parks and skip the water parks altogether. That way, you’ll get the best of Disney – without sacrificing your entire trip.

Skip: Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Sometimes dinner theatre can be fun. You get good food and a show to go along with it. However, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure might not be the best example of an enjoyable night out in Florida. Not only does the food get terrible reviews, but the show does as well. Set inside of a pirate ship, this loud, chaotic performance leaves much to be desired. If you’re looking for more exciting dinner theatre, head to Arabian Nights or Medieval Times instead.

seaworld7See: SeaWorld Orlando

For a theme park that is a little bit different, be sure to check out SeaWorld. It has a variety of things to do and experience. Don’t believe it? For the thrill seekers, there are lots of exciting rollercoasters and even some tame rides to entertain the little ones. For the animal lovers, there are so many ways that you can explore marine life. You can get up close and personal with animals like dolphins and exotic birds at Discovery Cove. Or you can check out a great show or two! There is no better way to have some fun and even learn something new.

Skip: Scuba Quest Florida Dive Center

Are you interested in learning how to scuba dive? Well, Florida is the perfect place to learn! Maybe a trip to Scuba Quest in Florida isn’t the best place, though. Yes, the staff goes through all of the basics to get you on your way – and you can even choose locations that you want to dive. They offer a number of boat trips, beach trips, and so on. However, you may not get everything you need at Scuba Quest. For a professional attitude and one-on-one attention, look into your options first before you make your final decision.

Florida is jam packed with fun things to do and experience. If you’re having trouble deciding exactly how to spend your time, start doing some research. You’ll quickly discover what to see and what to skip.

Great things to do in Geneva

Whether you enjoy basking in the refreshing air coming off of Lake Geneva, going skiing in the French Alps, or the cosmopolitan allure of the city Geneva has plenty of options for things to do. Filled with history and culture, people that come to this city always enjoy the restaurants and various sites to visit. A few things to do in Geneva include:

St- Pierre Cathedral

Invented than reinvented again and again St Pierre Cathedral is often described as a combination of Roman, Gothic and Neoclassic architecture and decoration. A church with much history, the Cathedral was in the center of the Geneva religious reformation when John Calvin made is the vessel for the Protestant Reformation. Still a central part of the Old Town of Geneva visitors still flock to it. The interior is lined with a 4th century mosaics, a 12th century column and 15th century frescoes any of which on its own is treat for art lovers. Be sure to visit the Chapel of the Maccabees which is filled with lavish and beautiful 18th century decoration. For a couple of Swiss Francs you can also climb the north tower for a great view over the city or head under the cathedral to visit the current archaeological dig site. St Pierre’s Cathedral is open each day of the week.

geneva-amsterdam-paris-2012-palais-des-nations-geneva-1-700x700Palais des Nations

The Palais des Nations previously housed the now defunct League of Nations. Still an impressive building this massive complex is the home to the United Nations European office and is the world’s largest center of multicultural diplomacy. Guided tours are offered on the grounds between 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday in the winter months and seven days a week in the summer. Admission costs around $10 US dollars. In order to get into the Palais des Nations you will need to show proper identification.

Patek Philippe Museum

Switzerland is a well known location for watch-making and enameling. A fantastic collection of different time pieces throughout the ages can be founded at the Patek Philippe Museum. The museum has two permanent exhibits: the antique collection that has watches dating back to the 16th century and the Patek Phillippe collection which high lights watches made by the Patek Philippe Company – – one of the world’s preeminent watch making companies. The museum is open from 10 am to 6 p.m with admission costing around $9 US dollars.

Cross the Atlantic the Old Fashioned Way!

Have you ever wanted to travel with the modern conveniences of today but in the style of centuries ago? It’s entirely possible if you opt to take a Trans Atlantic cruise ship instead of flying!

It’s perfect for anyone who cares more about the voyage than the ultimate destination because it gives you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. On board a vessel like the Queen Mary II you can have a great time stuffing yourself silly on fabulous food and taking part in all the leisure activities provided as you cross the wide open ocean from the UK to North America. Along the way you’ll stop in a number of different port cities, giving you a chance to see some of the local colour before heading on to your ultimate destination – it wouldn’t be a proper cruise if you did it any other way!

For a geek like me, I enjoy the idea of doing something a bit out of the ordinary, particularly in an age of cruises that only do the same old thing. I love heading to the Caribbean as much as the next bloke but after you’ve seen one tropical island they all start to look the same. Taking to the sea in this way seems to me like a connection to the past… but with swimming pools, fantastic cuisine and a lack of scurvy.

To celebrate the 200th Trans Atlantic crossing in July 2013, the Queen Mary II has a fancy little infographic drawn up to give you some information on the ship and its workings. If you’re in the market for a holiday this year and fancy taking a bit of a sail across the Atlantic, why not hop on board and give it a go? You’ll be in good company if you do!

(click on image for larger view!)

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Haggle, haggle!

If you’ve ever been on holiday to any Middle Eastern country, or even holiday resorts in Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey, then you’ll have encountered the art of haggling. For some, including me at first, this is an uncomfortable experience, because we’re simply not used to arguing over what we want to pay! We see a price tag and we decide whether we’re paying it or not, then we either do, or we don’t. Simple. However, on a market in say Dubai, you’ll be expected to haggle, and if you don’t, then you’ll be thought to be very odd indeed!

dubai-soukYou will get bargains by haggling, that’s for sure, but make sure you have the money in the first place to be shopping by doing our version of haggling – bargain hunting. Grabbing that cheap flight, a last minute deal, a free child place, or booking airport services that save you money, are all ways to make sure extra cash stays in your pocket, and enables you to have a more enjoyable holiday as a result. I recently saved a on booking airport parking, and decided against booking a rather expensive train fare. I booked Stansted parking with BCP, and used the money I saved to do a little retail therapy on my two weeks’ break. You will find this service at most large UK airports, so I’d definitely recommend looking at what’s available from your terminal. I’ve booked Parking with BCP before, and found the same money saving, great value service so it’s a service I would recommend.

Of course, once you find yourself on that market, and you see something you want to buy, saved money in your pocket which you’re itching to spend, it will be an odd experience if it’s your first haggling attempt. The key here is to be confident! The seller will tell you his price, which is not the price you’re going to pay of course. Half it, and offer them that. They will probably laugh at you, tell you that you’re trying to rob them, blah blah, but it’s all usually in jest and you will find in a lot of tourist resorts, they do it to make you laugh! From that half offering, you’ll work between you and agree on somewhere in the middle. It’s quite easy once you start, and you’ll always come away with bargains.

The first time I visited a Turkish market, I was amazed at the size, the noise and the colour, but it was a real experience too, and despite a rather nervy start, I was soon away with the haggling and bargain hunting! It’s really just a case of appearing confident, even if you don’t feel it!

For me, markets are a great place to buy souvenirs for home, and something a little different, that you can’t get anywhere else. Haggling means you’ll get more for your money, and that is never a bad thing!

Yet More Neighbourhoods of Copenhagen

One of the most attractive and interesting cities of Europe, Copenhagen gives much to its visitors. There are so many varied neighbourhoods that will allow exploration of different elements of the city. While most people will stay around its main district Indre By there is so much beyond that. Whether you want to soak in the opulence of Slotsholmen, see the bohemian Christiana, or explore the bohemian qualities of Nørrebro and Vesterbro the choice will be there for you. Yet more neighbourhoods of Copenhagen include.

Holmen and Islands Brygge

To the North of Christianshavn are two artistically oriented communities – Holmen and Islands Brygge. Holman’s was formerly a navel base that has been transformed into an artistic community which houses several artistic institutions such as the Danish Film School and the Danish National School of Theatre. Beyond art at Holman there still are remnants of the areas naval past as naval enthusiasts can visit Torpedo Hall and other naval sites.

Island Brygee is a small district to the south of Christianshavn that houses a variety of trendy galleries and restaurants. The area is considered a haven for up and coming artists to present their works.

Vesterbro

To the southwest of Indre By is Vesterbro. This area use to be the slum of Copenhagen, but in a true example of gentrification, it has become an up and coming spot for artists, students, and the yuppies that follow. Filled with a great variety of bars, ethnic restaurants, cafes and live music venues this area of Copenhagen is often compared to the East Village of New York City.

Nørrebro

To the North of Vesterbro is Norrebro an area that has large immigrant roots and is more ethnically diverse than anywhere in Copenhagen. Norreborro exudes both an exotic/Middle Eastern and a bohemian/ artistic feel at the same time. Home to a massive student population this district boosts a diverse night life and art scene. Filled with opportunities for fun, Norrebro also has Assistens Cemetery which is a resting place for several famous Danes including Soren Kirekengarden and Hans Christian Anderson.

frederiksberg-have-slotFrederiksberg

Frederiksberg is one of Copenhagen’s main residential and business areas and a place that is well regarded for its restaurants and bars. Having a large park, Frederiksberg Have, in its centre there are also plenty of other attractions including massive Frederiksberg Castle and Copenhagen Zoo – the latter of which is one of the world’s largest and best maintained zoos. If you are a beer lover the world famous Carlsberg Brewery is also located in this district too.

Osterbro

Osterbro is the largest of the cities districts. A rather well maintained and posh district it is mainly residential. Other than the Danish National Stadium and the wonderful Fælledparken – the largest park in the city and the host of many of the city’s festivals and events – there isn’t a lot of reason to come down to this part of town.

More Neighbourhoods of Copenhagen

Copenhagen is certainly an interesting place that has so much culture, architecture and varied activity for visitors to enjoy. No activity is better than wandering the different sections of the city, each of which offers up a unique experience to visitors. Different parts of Copenhagen highlight both the city’s wealthy and conversely its bohemian sides. Some more of the neighborhoods of Copenhagen include.

Langelinie

The northeastern corner of Frederiksstaden is an area called Langelinie. An upscale neighborhood, noted for its gourmet restaurants and posh boutiques. Langelinie is perhaps best known for having Hans Christian Anderson’s famous Little Mermaid Statue in it.

117386-004-60252B0D Rosenborg

To the Northwest of Frederiksstadenis is Rosenborg. Rosenborg is best known as home of the Rosenborg Castle; a castle which was built in the Dutch Renaissance style by the early 17th century king Christian IV who made it his royal residence. In modern times the castle is now open to the public to visit – giving access to its many halls and ballrooms as well as the King’s Garden – and is home to the Crown jewels.

Christianshavn

Christianshavn is the community built on the half moon shaped island that separates the Islands of Zealand and Amager. An area that has always been cheaper than other part of the city it draws artistic types and has been called by Danish writers the Amsterdam of Denmark. The name also sticks because of Christianshavn’s many canals that fill the area. Known for also having Renaissance-style architecture many people suggest taking a canal boat tour in order to best experience the district. A few of the landmarks that are in Christianshavn include the Danish Film Museum and the Our Savior’s Church.

Christiania

Perhaps the most iconic location of Copenhagen is Christiana, which is located just to the northeast of Christianshavn. Created as a hippy commune back in the 1970’s on an old military base Christania has long gone by its own rules. Cannabis is openly sold and smoked here and Christiana refuses to fulfill certain elements of Danish law like forcing people to pay the 25% national sales tax. Perhaps beyond rule breaking, Christiana shows visitors a wonderful splice of creativity and artistic openness. Well inside Christiana there are many great restaurant, galleries and arts and crafts markets to visit.

The Ultimate Guide to Abandoned Places

If you’re a budding urban explorer and love wandering around and taking photos of abandoned buildings, take a look below at some of the most interesting abandoned places in the world!

Chernobyl 

Chernobyl - 271

In 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear plant exploded causing the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. The people of Chernobyl and the nearby city of Pripyat were quickly evacuated, and all that remains now is an eerie decaying time capsule of the 1980s. Pripyat includes some great locations such as schools, cinemas, swimming pools and infamous Ferris wheel. The area opened to tourists in 2002 and has become a popular destination for those wanting to see the reactor (from a safe 200 meter distance) and the abandoned city of Pripyat.

Nara Dreamland

Nara Dreamland was Japans answer to Disneyland. Built in 1961, this theme park closed its doors in 2006 due to declining number of visitors. Since that time Nara Dreamland has remained intact and untouched, but has quickly aged, becoming overgrown with vegetation and rusty. It is not legal to enter the site (the area is patrolled by guards) but that hasn’t stopped a number of explorers that have infiltrated the perimeter to take some fantastic atmospheric photographs.

Abandoned Military Hospital

This abandoned military hospital in Beelitz, Germany was originally intended to be a sanatorium. It then became a hospital for the Imperial German Army during the First World War, and housed Hitler when his leg was injured during the Battle of the Somme. In 2000 the majority of the hospital, including the surgery, the psychiatric ward, and rifle range, were abandoned. This haunting building has gone onto become the location for films and music videos.

Hashima Island

Hashima was originally a coal mining facility, and the island was populated between 1887 and 1974. Japan’s first concrete apartments were built here in 1916 for workers as the islands population reached 5,259 in 1959. However, due to the dependence on petroleum in the 60s, coalmines were shut down. Hashima was closed in 1974, and the concrete apartment buildings were left abandoned. Some of the buildings have collapsed but many still remain. An area of the island was opened to the public in 2009, and in 2013 an employee from Google was sent to take pictures in order to provide people with a panoramic interactive online experience of the island.

Submerged City

In order to visit this last location you will need to don your wetsuit and scuba gear. The submerged ancient cities of Shi Cheng and He Cheng were the result of a man made flood by the government to create a new reservoir after the completion of the Xin’an River hydroelectric station in 1959. The cities were rediscovered in 2001 when a diving club organised a trip there. Walls, buildings and beams are still intact but will not remain so forever.

We hope that these locations will inspire you to start packing up your lenses and planning your next trip today.

About the author: Milly Crowther is a freelance writer and photographer who blogs for Holiday Gems. For more travel tips, checkout the Holiday Gems Facebook page.