Tips to Choose the Right Hotel for You

Planning is a necessary part of travelling. It helps keep your organized and ensures that every aspect of your trip is a positive one. One of the most important things you’ll need to think about before you go anywhere is your hotel. There are so many different places you can choose from. That is why it is so important to plan ahead and find the right hotel for your needs. Start planning the right way by considering these hotel tips.

Think About What Really Matters To You

Not every trip is the same. So, it stands to reason that not every hotel will suit every trip you take. That’s why it is so important to start by thinking about what really matters to you. Are you budget conscious on this trip? Is there a certain place or attraction you’d like to be nearby? Do you need to have a gym available to you? It’s all about narrowing down your most important requirements. You don’t want to choose any hotel and then wind up disappointed or unhappy. Avoid that altogether by thinking about what really matters before you book.

Hotel-dei-Dogi-Room-425

Nothing says opulent like gilded mirrors!

Know Your Budget

Sometimes, there isn’t a lot of money to spend on a hotel room. Other times, you may want to splash out and really treat yourself. To choose the right hotel for your trip, be sure that you know how much you can – and are willing – to spend on accommodations. Most travel sites will organize search results based on the price, so you can easily narrow down your options that way. There are websites with great discounts on hotels, so be sure to look around.

Consider the Location

You may be able to get a great deal on a hotel. It’s important to think about the location realistically, though. If you’re staying twenty minutes away from everywhere you’re planning on going, the money you ‘saved’ will likely be spend on transportation costs. Weight the pros and cons of the hotel location.

Think About Who You’re Travelling With

Before you choose a hotel, you’ll need to consider who you’re travelling with. For instance, are you taking children along? Then it’s important to think about the hotel you’re choosing. Some places are kid-friendly and can give children a positive overall experience. Others are less accepting of having a bunch of kids running around the lobby. Take a look at hotel websites for their policies or any family deals they may offer.

Read Reviews Carefully

Few travellers book anything without reading online reviews. There are so many places that you can check out reviews from fellow travellers. What did they think of the hotel? Were the rooms as advertised? What was the customer service like? You can learn from others by carefully reading travel reviews. Be aware that not all reviews are totally accurate. It’s better to read many different reviews before you make up your mind.

Choosing the right hotel doesn’t have to be difficult. The most important thing is to take time to think about what you really want and need. A little planning ahead will help you to find the very best accommodations.

5 Tips to Enjoy France on a Budget

France is a dream destination for most people; however this dream can be cut short due to the fact that it is not a cheap destination. Its allures include historical sites, culinary delights and gorgeous views; these and more may leave most people strapped for cash. It however possible to explore France on a budget that will not leave you starved for the rest of the year if you follow some of our tips:

STAY IN MOBILE HOMES

Who said you have to stay in hotels? You will be amazed to find out that staying in mobile homes will go a long way in cutting off costs as well as allowing you to explore areas that would be otherwise unreachable if you stayed in hotels. The mobile homes range from camps, motor homes to campervans which allow you to move from one part of France to the next without spending too much. You will also meet different kind of people and groups who also opt for this experience and end up making lifelong friends.

GET THE CITY PASS WHEN VISITING PARIS

Paris is the capital of France with spectacular attractions and landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower which in time has become synonymous with the city of love. It is also an expensive destination but if you get the Paris travel pass you will enjoy hopping on and off buses at will during your stay and also get free entrance to some of the attractions as a discount on your pass. Some passes will also give you access to free meals in some restaurants or enjoy discounted rates. A city pass is important if you are travelling on a tight budget.

FIND BOUTIQUE FAMILY ACCOMMODATION

France may boast of some of the world most luxurious and splendid hotels which may be a no go zone for most budget travelers but it is also has some wonderful bargains. In recent years there has been a rise in boutique accommodations even within the cities offering wonderful original designs with pristine bathrooms, at a budget of course, and ideal for the family vacations.

TRY OUT FREE CAMPING

Free camping in France is an exciting experience where you can just pull over at a beach side, in the mountains or even a lakeside and stay for a day or a few weeks. It is a fantastic experience as you get to explore any region of your choice provided you are armed with a good map and ready to be adventurous. However, you should be careful about camping along the roadsides as it may not be safe. Other places such as permitted parks are safe and you are probably going to find other campers along your route.

CARRY ALONG YOUR EUROPEAN HEALTH CARDS

You may not think of falling ill whilst travelling, in fact it is a bad omen to think about infirmities before travelling. All you want is a fantastic experience of France but a budget traveler should always be armed with the basics. This card allows you to enjoy reduced or free medical care in most European countries and this will ensure that you will not incur losses when you are taken down by sickness.

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!

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?

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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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.

More Things to see and do in Auckland

Auckland is a city that effortlessly combines nature, city life, and proximity to some great beaches. Opportunities are abound to enjoy the unique New Zealand topography and animals one day during your stay and to wander around stylish Queen Street in central Auckland the next. New Zealand is a nation that has much charm and provides a bit of everything to do catering to all interests. More things to see and do in Auckland include:

GibbonsWaitakereWaitakere Ranges 

Waiatarua | Auckland

 Options are limitless for hiking, fishing, surfing, bird watching inside the majestic and lovely Waitakere ranges. Around an hour away from central Auckland the ranges provide great opportunities to hike, fish, surf and bird watch all while being surrounded by picturesque nature. Noted both for its black sand shores such as Whatipu and its roaring waterfalls like Fairy Falls and Cascade Kauri the Waitakere Ranges has been hailed by other travelers as being just what New Zealand is about. The range is open to the public at all times and does not cost any type of entrance or usage fee.

Queen Street 

Queen Street | Auckland

A great way to connect with the more cosmopolitan elements of Auckland life is to take a trip down to Queen Street. Filled with notable stores like the Diamond Shop and Billabong as well as some of the iconic buildings of Auckland like the Bank of New Zealand Buildings and Auckland Town Hall this street is great for shopping and even just a walk along. Running parallel and one street back of Queen Street is High Street, which has a variety of different shopping options. Loaded with bars, cafes and clubs as well as some interesting galleries and book stores High Street is more alternative than Queen Street and worth a look too.

Auckland Zoo

Motions Road Western Springs | Auckland

The Auckland Zoo is a place that visitors can enjoy the opportunity to interact with authentic New Zealand animals as well as world wide exotic animals like hippos, lions and fur seals. A fascinating section of the zoo is the Te Wao Nui’s six habitats native to New Zealand. These habitats approximate different natural conditions in New Zealand and the animals that live within them. Be sure to check out “the Night” which is a cave that houses different nocturnal animals like the short tailed bat. Many tourists call the Auckland Zoo one of the highlights of their time in Auckland. Admission to the zoo is around $18 US dollars for adults and $9 US dollars for kids.

Different Things to do in Auckland

Auckland is a world class city that is surrounded by New Zealand’s great nature and fantastic beaches.  Whether you are a city slicker that likes visiting galleries, dining in fine restaurants and people watching in great cafes or a lover of nature in all her glory there is something for everyone to enjoy during their stay in Auckland. A few different things to do in Auckland include:

Bethells Beach 

Bethells Beach | Auckland

If you’re a lover of sand and surf a trip to Bethells Beach while in Auckland is definitely a must! A beach that has been described as both isolated – from the usual throngs of beach goers – and wild –  as there is little shade and the winds and huge waves off the ocean hit the beach unabated – New Zealanders rate Bethells Beach as one of the best in their country. Decorated naturally with dark sands people enjoy this beach for the chances to swim, surf (with the previously mentioned strong winds) trail walk and even paraglide. Surrounding the beach are a variety of resorts and the restaurants and bars that service them. Bethell’s Beach is about 30 kilometers from Auckland and takes less than an hour to get there.

One_Tree_Hill,_AucklandCornwall Park 

1051 One Tree Hill | Auckland

Auckland’s own answer to New York’s Central Park is Cornwall Park. Much like the nation itself, Cornwall Park is a fusion of cultures as Japanese cherry blossoms and magnolias sit next to New Zealand Purri trees. There are fantastic vantage points in the park to look over the city and enjoy splendid views. Other amenities in the park include the observatory, a kid’s animal farm, a park restaurant, and great walking trails to use.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki 

Corner of Kitchener and Wellesley Streets | Auckland

Any art lover coming through Auckland simply must spend some time in the Auckland Art Gallery. The gallery is composed of two sepperate buildings, seen by many as architectural pieces of art themselves, that house more than 15,000 pieces of art spanning from the 12th century to the present. The art pieces that draw the most attention are the fantastic Mari – the originally native population of New Zealand – works of art. C.F. Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer portraits of Maori chiefs are of particular acclaim and interest. The gallery is open daily from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. and, except for special exhibits, admission is free.

Things to Keep in Mind if You Propose on Vacation

Getting married sure has gotten complicated in the last few decades. Things that were previously reserved for the super wealthy or exceedingly creative are becoming expected as commonplace. It’s not enough to do things simply, they have to be done to impress and you can be sure that will cost a decent amount!

The same goes for the actual proposal. There may be the temptation to just pop the big question at any random time, or else wait until it’s forced on you to do so (how romantic!), but guys, most girls have been dreaming of this moment for a very long time – wouldn’t it be nice to make it a bit magical? What would be more awesome than doing it while on vacation?

Here are some pointers on what to consider before asking someone to marry you on vacation because you can really never have enough advice on the subject.

Be Sure She Will Say Yes

There really is no way to be certain of this, but you should have a decent idea of her response before making the decision yourself. If you’re a long way from home and you propose but she says no, well, I can’t really think of a more awkward situation.

Plan an Appropriate Vacation

Some holidays are more appropriate for proposals than others and more often than not it has more to do with you as a couple than it does about the destination. Make it somewhere that really speaks to who you are – but even still, the destination is still important!

Keep the Ring Secure

Carrying around a small expensive piece of jewellery can be a very nerve wracking experience and one that you may wish to be rid of as soon as possible. From pick pocketing types to your own foolishness, you may feel like you never feel comfortable the entire time you have it in your possession. Try to keep it on you at all times but not in a place so obvious to thieves or to its intended wearer!

imagesFind the Right Spot

Proposing on vacation is tricky for a number of reasons but it’s very tough to know where and when the right time and place is. More than likely, you’ve never been to this place before so you don’t know about the overall mood of the place (which is probably the most important part of the timing). If you propose at the beginning of the trip it might feel too rushed but if you wait too long, you’ll probably be too stressed out. Be sure the time is right just by how you feel, which is another reason to always keep the ring on you!

Ensure you Have… Privacy

Following the proposal, you may want to ‘celebrate’ and that is very difficult if you’re staying in non-private accommodation. Again, be sure you plan ahead!