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!

Auto Europe Car Rental

County Donegal, Ireland Road Trip Route

Many travellers will fly into Dublin and start their Ireland Road Trip Route 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.

Auto Europe Car Rental

Planning A Trip To Perth

Planning A Trip to Perth

Image Source. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Perth is one of the most unique Australian cities. It’s situated on the west coast miles away from everywhere else and it has developed its own customs and traditions over time. If you’ve got plans to travel to Perth, here are some tips that will help you get the best out of your trip.

Pack for the heat

The temperature in Perth is warm pretty much all year. In the summer (December through to February), it can often stay above 30 degrees with minimal rainfall. As a result, when travelling to Perth, you should pack for the heat – this means light clothing and sun lotion. You’ll also want to check out the beaches of Perth, so remember to bring some beachwear.

Rent a car

Perth is very spread out and you’ll find it difficult to get around by foot. Whilst you can use public transport, this can be pricey. As a result, it’s worth hiring a car for the trip. You can book this online so that there’s a rental car waiting for you at Perth airport. Renting a car could also allow you to journey out into the outback and beyond if you’re up for a wild road trip.

Take your hiking boots

On the outskirts of Perth, you’ll find a number of scenic hiking trails – the most iconic being the Bibbulmun track. For this reason, it’s worth taking your hiking boots so that you explore these routes. There are guided tours of the Bibbulmun track and guided day-trips that can take you along the most scenic stretches. Alternatively, you may prefer to tackle it on your own (there’s plenty of accommodation along the trail for stopping at when you need some rest).

Plan for a ‘Sunday Session’

When it comes to hitting the local bars, forget Friday night and Saturday night – in Perth Sunday is the time for drinking (known to the locals as ‘Sunday sessions’). Many bars across the city have their own deals and events on, so it’s worth keeping this day free so that you can experience the thrills. This is also a good time to find deals on meals out as many local restaurants also like to get involved.

Visit the galleries and museums

Perth also has its fair share of museums for those looking for an education activity. Perth Cultural Centre is an area of the city that contains the biggest museums and galleries including the Western Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The Perth Royal Mint is also an attraction worth visiting – here you can explore the history of Perth’s gold rush days and learn the process behind turning gold into ingots. On top of this, there’s Fremantle Prison, that you can visit via boat. Many of these attractions are low cost and some are even free to enter such as the Art Gallery of Western Australia making them great for those travelling on a tight budget.

How to Pack Like a Travel Blogger

Do you want to know how to pack like a travel blogger? Quick, easy and packing light? Less experienced travellers usually fall into the common trap of stuffing their bags with everything they think they might need, but often forget some important item. That usually leads to frustration, because the problem is most typically noticed when there’s no place where the particular item can be bought.

Those people who have this problem envy travel bloggers and wonder how they can travel so much and still carry everything they need. The secret lies in the fact that the more you travel, the better you are at packing and in following the tips of more seasoned travellers. So, what is it they recommend, based on their experience?

Bring a Daypack

One of the first things you need to put on the list is a daypack, compressed and stored in a main backpack. You need it for day trips, hikes or even weekend getaways, where you only carry things that are absolutely necessary. With so many daypacks to choose from, your only concern is likely to be the amount of money you’re happy to part with. Some more fashion-conscious ones will also try to match the style of their daypack with the clothes they usually wear on a trip.

Carry a Multi-Tool

You definitely want to bring along a multi-tool, such as the famous Swiss Army knife, which you can use for opening cans, bottles, nail clipping and cutting food. However, make sure you put your multi-tool in your checked luggage otherwise security will take it away. Still, the functionality of such tools allows travellers to reduce both the size and volume of their luggage by option for these practical solutions.

Bring a Bag for Wet and Dry Items

No matter where you go, you’ll be exposed to the risk of getting wet to a certain extent. In case that happens, you need to protect your dry clothes and electronics by using a wet/dry item. This is particularly useful for towels that can’t get dry before you your departure or swimsuits.

Record your Memories

No matter how focused you may be during your trip, there’s no way you can remember every adventure you had. That’s why it’s vital you take something to help you record your memories but won’t require a lot of your attention in terms of handling. A logical choice is a gadget, such as a fantastic GoPro HERO action camera, that can provide high-quality videos and pics of your travels.

Bring Earplugs

Though they might not be an obvious choice, earplugs are highly recommended by frequent travellers because of their ability to help deal with crying babies, snorers or simply people having loud conversations close to you. You want to be rested as much as possible once you reach your destination and there aren’t many items that can help you with that better than a pair of good earplugs.

Carry a Water Bottle

Since you need to keep yourself hydrated at all times, it’s very important that you have a sturdy, reusable water bottle that you can refill and reuse many times. You’ll not only avoid buying plastic water bottles, but you can also benefit from some bottles’ ability to filter water using UV light or some other method.

Wear Dark Clothes

Unless you’re travelling to some sunny and hot destination, experienced travellers recommend wearing darker clothes, because all the stains and spills that are bound to appear will not be as noticeable as they would be if you wore white, for example. That would also mean packing fewer items of clothing, which is another benefit of listening to seasoned travellers.

It goes without saying that there are many other tips for packing like a travel blogger, but you have to start from somewhere, right? So, consider the destination, the length of stay and other vital elements and start making a list well before you embark on your journey. It’s through the experience of travelling that you’ll find what you need to bring on your next trip.

Affordable Luxury: 8 Ways to Experience the Best of Dubai

Dubai

Dubai is one of the seven dazzling emirates forming the United Arab Emirates. It has been ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the world.  Also, it is one of the most sought-after destinations for travellers around the world with its endless choices of fine dining restaurants, shopping opportunities, and luxury accommodation.

Despite the luxury experiences it offers, Dubai is a diverse city offering activities, attractions and luxury leisure hotel rooms at affordable rates. Here are eight ways to experience the best of Dubai without spending a ton of cash:

1. Explore the City by Walking

There are certain areas where walking is considered the best way to explore the surroundings. These include the Dubai Marina and the traditional districts of Al Ras and Al Bastakiya.

If you’re in Dubai Marina, take the monorail to Atlantis hotel, which is located on the tip of Palm Jumeirah. In Al Ras, you can visit markets like Naif Souk, Spice Souk, Gold Souk, and Deira fish market. In Al Bastakiya, you will find traditional souks, lots of galleries, and museums.

the markest in Dubai

2. Enjoy the Sun at Stunning Public Beaches

There are private beaches in the city – you can get access to it by staying at a beach hotel or paying an entrance fee. But there are also some beaches that you can visit for free. These are well-maintained beaches with ease of access to restaurants, camel riding, shopping, water sports, and clean toilets. Others even offer free use of an outdoor gym and an excellent beach promenade.

The Beach in Dubai

3. Go Window Shopping

When it comes to luxury shopping, Dubai is one of the top destinations. The best thing about this is that even if you do not have enough space or budget for shopping, some of these malls are worth checking out without spending a penny.

At the Dubai Mall, you can check out the Dubai Aquarium without paying a fee. Get to see 33,000 marine animals swimming in the aquarium. Another mall you can visit is the Mall of the Emirates which is the home of Ski Dubai. Watching from outside this indoor ski resort and snow park is possible. If you are interested in theatre, dance, film, music, and arts, you can check out Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre.

4. Look out for Low-cost and Free Events

If you are in Dubai during the Dubai Canvas festival, you can see some of the world’s skilled artists making excellent 3D street art. Another event you should watch out for is the Dubai Food Festival where you can enjoy discounted food deals on food markets and high-end restaurants. It is highly recommended that before you visit the emirate, you must research online for happenings and events that you can go to when you’re in town.

5. Watch the Dancing Fountain

One of the experiences a visitor in Dubai should enjoy is to watch the dancing fountain show. The Dubai Fountain has a spectacular show a few times a day. You can actually watch it thrice a day because each has different shows and music. This is the best place for you to wander around the artificial lake with Burj Khalifa and skyline in the background. The show begins at 6 pm until 11 pm, with a show happening every 30 minutes.

6. Visit Museums

Dubai is also home to low-cost and free museums. Dubai Museum is one of them. This is an affordable museum that gives you a thought-provoking history lesson on how this emirate evolved from a small village to one of the biggest cities today. Other museums you can visit include the Antique Museum in Al Quoz, Women’s Museum, and the Coffee Museum. These museums offer different lessons and unique experiences.

7. Join a Guided Tour

If you want to learn more about Dubai religion and culture, a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque is a great idea. A guided tour will give you the opportunity to ask questions you have in mind. The tour often begins at 10 am from Saturday to Thursday.

8. Explore Various Cultures at the Global Village

Global Village is an outdoor shopping and entertainment area that you shouldn’t miss. It has shopping districts that represent different countries. This is where you can encounter most Emiratis and a few Westerners.

You can definitely find affordable souvenirs here. Also, you can try local cuisines from one of the snack stands inexpensively. Moreover, you can watch cultural shows, music performances and entertainment here.

Dubai may be one of the most expensive cities in the world. But with a bit of time and planning, you can enjoy luxurious experiences for free or at affordable rates.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Habib Khan is a seasoned Hotelier, currently the CEO of Planet Hospitality and General Manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. Khan has more than 30 years of diversified international experience in the hospitality industry. He is an expert in developing, transforming, and managing hotels, with an ability to analyze and solve problems in a challenging work environment.

How to Make the Most of Your Long Australian Vacation

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Have you decided to take the plunge and go on a long vacation in a faraway country like Australia? Well, that’s excellent considering Australia is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. And while most tourists will say that it’s simply too far away, it’s definitely worth the time, cost and the long flights. However, if you’re considering going to Australia for a vacation you need to make a serious plan for this kind of vacation seeing as it’s simply impossible to see all there is to see in a week. Two weeks is the least you should spend traveling across Australia and even then, good organization is the key. Read on to learn some tips on how to make the most on this trip of a lifetime you’re going to spend in this beautiful country.

How to plan a longer trip

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The first thing you need to take into consideration once you start planning your nice long vacation in Australia is the fact that the country is huge. This means that it’s basically impossible to see the whole country by simply driving from one end of the country to the other. A better way to spend your vacation in Australia is to focus on one type of vacation. So instead of lots of packing and unpacking, spending too much time on airports, bus terminals and long road trips simply decide whether you prefer an adventurous trip, a beach vacation, or maybe something else completely. While it’s difficult to accept the fact that you won’t be able to see everything there is to see, with the time constraint and taking into consideration that this kind of a trip cannot be cheap, it’s definitely better to start planning your trip with some focus in mind.

Places to visit

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As already mentioned, there are plenty of places to visit in Australia and this is why it’s important to prioritize the things you really want to see. If you don’t like going to the beach, skip Bondi beach in Sydney and visit all the museums you’re interested in. Before you start planning your trip, think about your vacation preferences- if you enjoy finding a good place to relax or you are more interested in parties; if you want to visit historical sites or  you prefer adventurous vacations; if you would like to see the cities or maybe the coastal or outback areas or you just want to enjoy Australian food and wine. By defining what you want to see, it’ll be easier to plan your trip and make the most of it by doing the things you enjoy.

Types of travel experiences

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When it comes to vacationing in Australia, there is something for everyone so all you need to do is take your pick. From busy, vibrant cities, quaint and cute small towns, superb wine regions, to amazingly beautiful ancient rainforests, enchanting mountains, amazing reefs, gorgeous beaches, vast deserts and stunningly unique wildlife. One thing is for sure; you’ll never be bored in Australia.

Think about flights and accommodation

Once again, organization is the key to having a full experience once on a vacation. Some of the things you need to pay attention to are accommodation and how you’re going to get to Australia. It’s best to choose the destinations which are the closest to your origin in order to save time and not spend too much of it on commuting. Another important thing to think about is accommodation. If you’re staying longer, and you should stay as long as possible, avoid hotels and hostels as this is costly. Something that you should take into consideration is renting a place while you’re on your vacation. One of the frequently asked questions by travelers is “Can you pay rent with a credit card?” and not only is the answer YES but you might even get rewarded for it by earning points which you can use for flights or vouchers. So renting a place for yourself can be practical both money-wise and organization-wise.

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Stop looking at the pictures of Australia; instead, book those plane tickets, start planning and packing and go on the vacation you’ll probably ever have in your life.