Tips for Exploring the Caribbean

Bora Island in the Caribbean

Visiting the Caribbean is something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. These gorgeous islands are a true marvel of nature’s beauty, and you’ll have a hard time finding a place that is as beautiful as them. Now, while over 30 million people visit the Caribbean every year, only a small percentage of them actually experience it properly. Coming here without any forethought or preparation is only going to lead to you exploring the Caribbean as a tourist. Which, in our book, is no proper way to explore it. So, before you hop on a boat or plane, here are a few tips on how to explore the Caribbean properly.

Preparing for your trip

Most people believe that the best way to travel is the spur of the moment kind of thing. Suddenly you get an urge to explore the Caribbean and you simply jump on the next plane. But, while there is a certain pleasure in the spontaneity of this kind of travel, it is no way to properly explore the Caribbean. In order to truly experience these islands and have a general sense of awe while you visit them, you need to have some planning and preparations.

Do your research

Saying that you are going to visit the Caribbean is like saying that you are going to visit Europe. The area you are visiting is so spacious and rich in history and culture that it is impossible to explore it all in a single go. So, the best thing to do is to first research what the Caribbean is all about. Remember that the Caribbean consist of over 700 islands and 26 countries. Each of those countries has its own history and relationship with other countries, so don’t be surprised if there is a lot to read up on. But, to truly appreciate what the Caribbean has to offer, you do need to know a bit about its history.

 

 

 

A historical monument in the Caribbean

Only by exploring the Caribbean can you get the true appreciation of what the Caribbean is today.

Ideally, you should have input into the general history of the Caribbean and then focus on a single country. When it comes to exploring the Caribbean, this tends to be the best way as it allows you to get the full appreciation of the place you are visiting.

Plan your trip

With that in mind, the best way to explore the Caribbean is to situate yourself in a single country. Don’t try to visit everything, as you will not have the time nor the ability to appreciate what you are seeing. Most tourists go on cruises from island to island and only see glimpses of what each island has to offer. And, once you consider that there are 700 islands, you will easily understand that you cannot visit all of them. So, don’t. Focus on a single island or country and make your plan as exciting and interesting as possible. The more you explore the islands, the more you will realize how it ties into the whole of Caribbean. Therefore, by focusing on a single island, you will get a better idea of what the Caribbean is all about.

Accommodation and airfare

Most of you probably know this, but we are going to mention it none the less. The sooner you start planning your trip to the Caribbean, the cheaper it is going to be. This goes both for accommodation and your airfare, considering that the plane ride to the Caribbean can be a bit long. So, if you want to do yourself and your wallet a favor, start planning as soon as possible. You may get lucky and find a cheap last-minute deal. But those are often limited and require a fair bit of flexibility.

Exploring the Caribbean

So, once you’ve dealt will preparations and arrive at the Caribbean, how are you supposed to actually go about exploring it? Visiting museums and studying history is a must. But, there are other tips and guides you should adhere to in order to have the best possible time in the Caribbean.

Take your time

A lot of people fall in love with the Caribbean once they visit it and end up moving here. If this happens to you, remember that there is an easy way to choose the right movers and that you’ll need to find a good real estate agent in order to get a good home. But, even if you are staying here for a short while, remember to take your time. Enjoy the local food, explore the culture and appreciate the history.

 

A Caribbean seafood dish

Do not make the mistake of leaving the Caribbean without trying their local seafood.

Our advice is to get the best-selling books in the area and read them while you are here. The art of local people will help you bring the right mindset for exploring the Caribbean, which is why it is essential that you explore this aspect as well. Remember that it’s the people who make the place worth remembering. Speaking of which:

Meet the locals

People of the Caribbean tend to be quite friendly. By going to the local pub and buying a round of drinks, you are bound to meet some local people. And, as it turns out, they are your best way of finding out what the Caribbean is like. Books and documentaries can only give you a partial view of the Caribbean. But, to truly appreciate the lifestyle and culture, you need to meet the locals.

A historical monument in the Caribbean

The people of the Caribbean tend to be quite friendly and welcoming.

Only once you meet someone who lives here will you get the honest feel of what life here is like. Plus, you will get great tips on how to save money while visiting the Caribbean and not waste it on tourist items. This is especially important to remember if you plan on staying here for a while.

 

Thinking Of Renting A Car In Europe? Here’s What You Need To Know

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting a car in Europe lets you explore and discover different countries and cultures. Renting a car gives you freedom to travel on your own schedule and time. You can get off the beaten path and get to smaller towns and sights with relative ease. There are potential challenges like “driving on the wrong side of the road” in the UK, different rules of the road and some country specific laws. But it’s all well worth it for the memories and potential trip of a lifetime. Here’s the short list of things to consider when you’re renting a car and driving in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe? Book In Advance

Ca rental rates vary widely by destination and season. Generally speaking, rates are higher for any rental car company or location if you wait to book. (Especially if you walk up to a rental counter with no reservation). You will save money by paying for your car rental ahead of time. Auto Europe is one of the best options for car rentals in Europe. They’ve been in business over 60 years with more than 20,000 locations in 180 countries. They work with well known car rental companies and provide unbeatable rates on car rentals. You can book your car rental as soon as you book your trip with the option to modify or cancel your booking if your plans change.

Beyond the large highways in Europe, most roads are tight and winding. And parking is tight and tricky with limited street parking and small parking lots. A smaller car, typical in Europe, is the best way to get around and easier to drive. Many cars in Europe are equipped with a manual transmission. If you don’t drive a standard/manual transmission, you’ll need to book early to make sure that you get a car equipped with an automatic transmission.

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting A Car In Europe? You’ll Need Insurance Coverage

With Auto Europe, if you select a basic rental rate your price will include value added tax (VAT), public liability insurance, fire insurance and unlimited miles. If the inclusive rate is selected, it will include everything in the basic rate plus collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft protection for the rental vehicle. I definitely recommend the inclusive rate specifically to have full CDW and theft protection on your rental car. If you rely on credit card coverage or your own car insurance, you may not have enough coverage and/or you may have to pay in full for a claim and then seek reimbursement.

Renting A Car In Europe? You Might Need an International Driver’s Permit

Many European countries—like the United Kingdom and Ireland—recognize North American driver’s licenses. However, other countries—like Italy, Germany, and Spain—require that you possess and carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is proof that you possess a valid driver’s license. It also translates your driving qualifications into ten of the world’s most commonly used languages, and allows travellers to drive in over 150 different countries.

You can get an International Driver’s Permit at AAA (U.S.) and CAA (Canada) for a nominal fee, and you only need proof of your driver’s license to apply.

Renting A Car In Europe? Be Prepared For the Unexpected

The unexpected can of course happen anywhere and at anytime. Be aware of what’s covered by the rental car agency if you have an accident or your car breaks down. Most offer some form of roadside assistance in the event of a break down. Traffic tickets and toll fees will naturally be billed to you if you don’t pay locally.

If your rental car is involved in an accident, it is imperative that you contact local authorities immediately. A valid police report is always required, regardless of how minor the accident is. The second number you should contact is the one listed on your car rental key chain. For further protection, take pictures of all the damage done to your rental car and any other parties involved.

Having your cell phone activated for use in Europe is a must for driving directions, destination information and in the case of emergency. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its prepaid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free. Between driving and blog support, I need coverage while in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe?

Renting A Car In Europe? Find Out the Rules of the Road

The autobahn actually exists in Austria and Germany where the drivers follow a strict code. The left lane is for passing only (most cars will be travelling at more than 160 km/per hour). The middle lane is for the average driver – 120-160 km/per hour. Anything slower is on the right lane.

In the UK, you drive on the left side of the road , and you pass on the right side. There are also numerous roundabouts where you need to know which exit you are taking ahead of time.

Turning right on a red light is not permitted anywhere in Europe, unless there’s a sign that indicates otherwise.

Renting A Car In Europe? Other Things To Know

  1. It’s not a bad idea to buy a traditional paper map as backup. Maps are readily available at gas stations and highway stops. Google Maps or offline maps work but you may not have service or data in remote areas.
  2. Most tolls can be paid by coins, cash or credit card. Some countries like Austria and Switzerland require the purchase of vignettes (driving stickers) that need to be displayed in your front window. They are readily available at gas stations and road side stores.
  3. Getting gas in Europe typically requires that you pay in advance before pumping.
  4. Parking in Europe varies greatly by town and city. Parking can be free, pay via parking meter or require a parking permit. Pay attention when you park or you will invariably get a ticket.
  5. You’ll get comfortable driving in no time. Enjoy the trip, lookout for great places to stop and enjoy the views!

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County Donegal, Ireland Road Trip Route

Many travellers will fly into Dublin and start their Ireland Road Trip from there. Driving from Dublin to County Donegal is literally driving across Ireland. Here’s some things to remember from a traveller who has driven in Ireland. Irish roads are narrow and often wet from rain. You are driving on the left side of the road and driving from the right front seat. There is a bit of a learning curve for most. You’ll need a GPS to not get lost, find small roads and maneuver through roundabouts. But Ireland and Donegal is well worth the trip!

County Donegal is remote even by Irish standards. There are parts of Donegal that are further north than Northern Ireland, as the Inoshowen Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic. A journey across Donegal with a car rental in Ireland and into Northern Ireland is one of the most serene and idyllic Ireland road trips you can take.

A good starting point for your journey is the Slieve League. These are the tallest sea cliffs in the country, as they stand marginally higher than their more famous brethren; the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs, however, are not overrun by tourists due to their remote location and the lack of traffic makes any time of year a good time to visit Ireland and journey to this iconic destination. From the Slieve League, head north to the village of Glencolumbkille. This gorgeous village was settled over five thousand years ago, with remains of the original inhabitants that can still be seen in the stone tombs they left behind. Irish is still spoken here by most people.

COUNTY DONEGAL, IRELAND ROAD TRIP ROUTE

Glengesh From Glencolumbkille, head west from the coast and into Glengesh Pass. This pass was formed by glaciers, with the road through it following a path between dramatic green peaks. Glengesh Pass delivers you into the village of Ardara. Ardara plays host to several festivals throughout the year and is in close proximity to the Kilclooney dolmen. A dolmen is a megalithic tomb and the Kilclooney dolmen is one of the most impressive in Europe.Next, head southwest to the small village of Pettigoe. Pettigoe sits just south of Lough Derg. Lough Derg is a small lake and is notable for the island it holds. Station Island is a famous pilgrimage site as it is the home of St. Patrick’s Purgatory, the monastery where St. Patrick was said to have done penance.

COUNTY DONEGAL, IRELAND ROAD TRIP ROUTE

After visiting the monastery, cross the border into Northern Ireland and head north to Derry. Derry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland and offers a good opportunity to reconnect with civilization before you get on the road again. The road west from Derry will take you to Ballycastle. The coastline in and around Ballycastle was given the designation of ‘An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty‘ by the government group Natural England and is the perfect place to finish your adventure. At this point, you will have journeyed over 150 miles and seen some of the very best Ireland has to offer.

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