Top Travel

12Aug/15Off

Security Tips For First Time Travelers

For some, traveling is a way to do business while for others, it is their time for enjoyment. Frequent travelers often know the ins and outs of traveling locally or overseas. However, statistics reveal that these travelers are usually people who travel for business whose main objective is to meet and talk to clients. Clearly, all they need is a hotel room. But pleasure fliers, or those who travel for vacations need more than just hotels. They travel to learn and explore new places and cultures. If you are one of them or planning to be just like them, you need a handful of general travel security tips to help keep your travel safe and enjoyable.

It is never a bad idea to learn something about the culture of the place that you plan to visit. Learn about the social norms, manners of dress, cuisine, form of government, and religious practices. Informing yourself about a nation's history, culture, customs and politics make your stay more significant. Even if English is a global language and spoken almost everywhere, it is to your advantage to try to learn the language of the locals. Grab a few useful phrases, greetings, and all other relevant information about your destination from the local library, travel books, and the Internet. Another general travel tip that is usually neglected is bringing light luggage. A lighter and less bulky luggage allows you to explore more freely and gives you ease of movement. This does not mean that you leave your essentials behind; rather, this means that you take only what is essential. Take only your toiletries, medicines, money substitutes, camera, and enough change of clothes. It is advisable to take clothes that are versatile and easily matched with other clothes in your luggage. For example, black trousers or pants go well with almost anything more than printed or embroidered jeans. It is also important to secure all travel documents like passports and travel insurance. Invest in a body document bag and wear it under your clothes. Better yet, deposit valuable documents in the hotel safe. Being tourists in a new place gets you special treatment but it also makes you a special target for theft.

Avoiding overseas theft is one factor that makes traveling safety necessary One way to avoid being a target is to dress simply and conservatively. The less jewelry, gadget, or expensive accessories you put on, the less your risks of getting robbed are. Thieves are attracted like bees to a honey pot to any show of affluence. Consider bringing only travelers's check or a credit card or two as cash substitute. Putting name tags on your bags and luggage is a good idea but it also allow bad elements to identify you. Travel security specialists suggest putting covered tags on the inside and outside your luggage. A hint for those who plan to travel: get the local US consul's office address and phone number. They provide assistance to American travelers who find themselves in trouble. These general travel tips do not mean to scare you out of international travel but to put you in your guard. Abroad, you are not in your territory and you are subject to the local laws; it is better to exercise safety practices.

10Aug/15Off

Reasons Why Someone Wants to Travel

There are many reasons why someone wants to travel. Some people say it's the shopping, some say it's the food. The new diners to discover are exciting to try out. A new culture is discovered every time you travel.

The people from California are very different from the people in New York. The people from Illinois are different from the people found in Colorado. The differences in culture are distinct in their building style, clothing style, personalities, and even the way they walk and talk.

Learning about another culture is most of the reason we visit other cities. When visit another place we visit their museums and sit on their benches to watch them mill about doing what they normally do every day.

The people of the city are interesting. There's the mom who is dropping off her children at school before running some errands. The businessperson who has meticulously dressed and is now ready for that meeting downtown while he is hailing a taxicab. A young independent shop owner has to go downtown to close the deal and finally quit her night job at the restaurant.

Each state in the United States has it own personal culture. Even though the economy has been falling, people have decided to continue visiting other places. Luckily, with the US charter bus rental services, they are able to visit local places and continue to have holiday vacations.

There is so much to do, see, eat, and learn about culture in your own backyard.

It is virtually impossible to sit and people watch in another culture as the children won't often sit for long periods of time patiently.

Every one can apply this concept, not just an American. Every country has different cultures to discover about each other. To travel locally is the wise choice when the funds are lacking.

8Aug/15Off

Tips For Top Travel

Have you ever experienced a serious disaster whilst on holiday. If not, it's merely a matter of time. It has been said there are two kinds of travelers, those that have experienced a problem holiday and those that are still going to.

Tasked with identifying the top ten travel tips immediately got my mind going but an idea soon took shape. Why not use the experiences of the professionals, ask them to identify the more common causes of problems when travelling. Unbeknown to me this certainly dropped the cat amongst the pigeons, largely because limiting this to only ten became a problem, thank you so much to all those who were a part of the panel.

One of the most common problems and a unanimous choice of the panel were problems surrounding logistical arrangements. Largely related to reservations; dates and ticketing, these can be problematic despite the ease and simplicity of the internet. It is imperative when planning any holiday to any destination that all bookings are made well in advance, followed up either by e-mail or telephone a few days before your departure and still in time to rectify problems if discovered. After this has been done, prevent further problems by ensuring you have proof in the form of copies of any relevant document or reference number, this could be a receipt confirmation of a deposit paid or any item depending on your personal arrangements. This is one of those suggestions where prevention is definitely far better than cure.

Our second tip is all encompassing and covers the packing of essential items. Obviously these items might vary according to your personal plans but would perhaps include items such as passports and ID documents; applicable drivers licences; money - credit cards, wallets and other financial needs; mobile phones and camera's, (get with it, preferably digital) are essential items nowadays, together with supporting items such as chargers and memory cards. On my personal list are always sunglasses, activity equipment, a few books, a pack of cards, a multi-purpose pocket knife and other smaller items or games which always come in handy.

How are we doing so far, the bottom line is that with tip numbers one and two you can go almost anywhere in the world and if you have forgotten anything else you can purchase them en route.

Tip number three is so absolutely boring you might well stop reading at this point but it remains one of the most common causes of holidays being cancelled. Before you leave home ensure that all domestic matters are resolved and tucked in to bed. These will again vary but will certainly surround adequate locking up and security issues; paying all accounts, in particular municipal services; cancelling any deliveries; ensuring access is available to a trusted friend or relative in the event of a fire or emergency; ensuring pets are adequately cared for and that someone responsible is able to contact you in the case of emergency during your holiday. Yes...boring....but oh so often the cause of having to either come back early or returning to face a smelly deep freeze or worse.

The basics are covered and now we can move onto the fun part, tip number four surrounds choosing the right holiday for your needs and enjoyment. To haul three children under ten years old to a game reserve for ten days will stretch your patience and theirs, you might enjoy spending half an hour looking at a bird or waiting for an Elephant to come to a waterhole while sipping a Chardonnay, they certainly wouldn't. If you have had a really stressful year and are going on holiday for a time out, a few days in London followed by a few in Rome and a low cost flight via Moscow to save a few cents would mean lots of flights; too many airports and complicated transit arrangements. Our panel suggests taking a few extra minutes to analyse the real needs of all travelling partners before selecting your holiday destination.

You have analysed your own needs and decided on let's say a scuba diving holiday as an example. Tip number five stays with destination choice and is all about research. That's easy I hear you saying, once you've decided what type of holiday you want. However, you could also end up on a scuba diving holiday in monsoon season, perhaps to a great destination at most times of the year but in the month you have chosen, it's infested with mosquito's and a temperature of 45 degrees, is that what you wanted.

Perhaps you might be looking for a quiet and romantic getaway and choose a week in a Spanish seaside village only to find out it clashes with a local political election and the local school holidays. Time researching local conditions is well spent, beware particularly of special offers or discounts, these are usually offered for a reason and often due to seasonality or other sub-optimal characteristics of the destination at the time the offer applies. This same principle applies to discounted flights and packages, it's important to be fully aware of which items and costs are included and not included in the price.

How far have we gone so far, in summary we have the logistics and essential equipment under control, chosen a stunning destination to ensure our needs are covered and we have selected the dates to suit the destination characteristics.

Tip number six is about the modern day wonder of the travellers' world. You guessed it, the internet. This modern tool enables you to ensure you are fully au fait with all and any information you might need. From disco's to dive centres, museums to mausoleums, cathedrals to camping grounds, the information is easily available to you from the comfort of your home; office or failing which, an internet café. Referring back to our Spanish village, if you want to know the history, what to see and do while you're there, the internet provides this service. Even once you're there, if you want to send pics and news to someone at home, the internet has really made this simple. I read recently that in excess of 70% of all travel arrangements are now made on-line, wow, that is an awesome number and it is no doubt climbing, not without reason.

A list of top ten tips would definitely be incomplete without a reference to the importance of adequate packing. Notice we say adequate as it does vary according to destination and travel method. A car trip to Port Alfred with a trailer and roof rack is a far different scenario than a flight to London. Tip number seven is to pack early; to pack correctly and most of all to pack according to a well prepared list. One often makes the mistake of packing too much, leaving little room for error and no space to include a few souvenirs or that tee-shirt that looked so good in the market. On a personal note our family has a rule, what you pack you carry, this has a fantastic effect of ensuring no one packs without a plan.

The boring battle of the budget. We all have dream destinations we hope to get to one day, this is unfortunately not a reality for most of us. Tip number eight is to ensure you remain within your personal limits of expenditure. Interest rates are high and could get higher; credit offered by banks can be easily obtained by utilising the credit card options so often available. You don't want to spend the year after your holiday stressed out about how you're going to pay it back during the rest of the year. Plan adequately before and during your holiday. Whilst it's certainly fun to spoil yourselves during a holiday, we suggest you allocate a daily allowance to each person and to the whole group, this will certainly help control costs, particularly in an international destination when one is not fully conversant, it can come back and bite quite hard.

The members of our panel are all seasoned travellers, local and overseas. In conversation we certainly learned that all had on occasion bumped their heads or made often silly mistakes. Our unanimous tip number nine is to enjoy South Africa. As residents of this beautiful country we are all absolutely blessed to live within a reasonable distance from either a beach; lake; mountain; game reserve or whatever it might be that appeals to your family. Too often we feel the need to travel far and wide when it's all on our doorstep. We might travel to an exotic dive destination but haven't yet experienced Aliwal Shoal; sit on a Mauritian Beach when our coast offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, perhaps even camping in France when you've never been to the Drakensberg or Clarens.

It might be a cliché but we really do have it all in one country. We certainly hope that our leaders will take every action to ensure that it stays that way. We in turn need to appreciate it and invest in local tourism and the job creation it offers. Our panel felt that we need to market ourselves as a destination a little better than we do, encouraging local travellers that Cairo is perhaps not always better than Cape Town. Local is lekker, it has its place alongside braaivleis, biltong, sunny skies and all the rest.

This might be our last tip of the ten we were confined to but it is the simplest and most important - have fun! You've worked hard, you deserve your holiday, please don't forget to enjoy it. In most cases when on holiday, one is surrounded by those your love the most, those dearest and closest.

What an absolute blessing to be able to spend quality time in a holiday destination with those you love.

3Jul/15Off

Austria Travel – Local Excursions in Styria

For several months now I had been planning another trip to Europe, to visit my family in my home town in Austria, as well as to spend eleven days on the beautiful island of Mallorca and three days in the fascinating Czech capital of Prague, both destinations I had long wanted to visit.

On May 15, 2009 I finally landed in Graz, after an uneventful flight from Toronto via Dsseldorf. The only notable detail was the inspection by the "swine flu police" in Dsseldorf - since Canada has been affected by the swine flue epidemic all Lufthansa passengers had to fill out a health questionnaire and present themselves to two public health officials upon exiting the plane.

On this sunny yet cool morning I finally landed in my final destination. Graz, Austria's second largest city, is a wonderful destination; its late medieval and Renaissance-era city core have helped to make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My brother picked me up and we drove into my small provincial home town, and it was great to reconnect after almost a year.

I spent the first few days doing local excursions with my family. Styria, my home province in Austria, offers great travel opportunities, from active travel for hikers, bikers and skiers, to cultural attractions including many impressive castles, fortresses, monasteries and other architectural heritage sites.

Our first excursion took us to Wildon, a small rural town about 20 minutes south of Graz, that was first mentioned in historic records in the 13th century. The surrounding area has been inhabited since about 4000 B.C. Our destination was the Wildoner Berg, a mountain that is distinguished by a ruined fortress, the Hengistburg, whose original foundations date back to about 1000 BC.

Today there is not much left of the fortress other than a few walls and a relatively well-preserved tower since the fortress was destroyed by lightning in 1810. Mountain goats were climbing around the medieval remnants of this once impressive fortification. The town of Wildon is well-known for its legends, for the "wild man" who supposedly terrorized the local population, and the "white lady", a ghost who is said to haunt many castles and fortresses in Styria.

We capped our trip to Wildon off with a visit to a "Buschenschank", a local family owned wine restaurant that serves wine produced on the family's property. Styria is a popular wine growing area, with three separate regions that specialize in different types of wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer and a truly local brand called Schilcher enchant knowledgeable wine enthusiasts. Eight wine routes allow travelers to explore the Styrian wine country in scenic drives, and hundreds of local wine restaurants and cozy bed and breakfasts cater to the travellers' needs.

Our second excursion took us into the high Alpine pastures of Eastern Styria, the so-called "Almenland" region, the largest contiguous mountain pasture region in the Alps. The region is most well-known for its great hiking and skiing opportunities, and every year in early summer mountain cattle are driven up onto the mountain to start their long outdoor grazing season. The region has even developed its own brand of organically raised beef called ALMO. Various restaurants in the area dedicate themselves to serving local organic beef specialties in addition to providing traditional Austrian fare.

We went even higher than these Alpine meadows and started a hike up the "Rote Wand" (literally translated "Red Wall"), a 1,505 m high mountain whose characteristic is a vertical rock wall whose name is derived from the red-called limestone rock that gives it its unique colouring. Usually the Rote Wand offers a phenomenal mountain panorama, but today we had caught a foggy day and we had no scenic views at all.

After entering our name into the summit book we started our descent and came by a large herd of ibexes, large wild mountain goats that were grazing calmly beside a pond. Dozens of these large stocky animals with their impressive round horns were fascinating the hikers and my brother's dog admired them from afar.

After our equally foggy hike down from the summit we stopped at the Tyrnauer Almhtte, a typical rustic Austrian mountain hut that offers drinks and simple fare to hungry hikers. The sun was finally coming out and we enjoyed a nice hot Fritattensuppe (pancake strip soup) and rye bread with cheese.

In the early afternoon we headed down from the mountain and my brother, a gifted professional chef, cooked us a delicious rosemary chicken with vegetable rice and salad. To burn off some calories we went on a second hour and a half long hike from my home town of Weiz to the Kleine Raabklamm (the "Small Raab River Gorge"), a popular local hiking destination.Municipalities throughout Styria and Austria in general have invested great effort into expanding and signposting their system of hiking and biking trails. When I was a child, places like the Kleine Raabklamm were known mostly by local hiking enthusiasts with insider knowledge, while today all sorts of hiking paths are signposted and have been made accessible and are promoted to the wider population. Finally, after all this physical exertion we capped the day off with a delicious icecream at Gelateria Claudia, a popular Sunday hangout for ice cream lovers in my home town of Weiz.

3Jun/15Off

Save Money While Traveling

Traveling can be a very expensive venture for any family anymore. Many people are on a very tight budget and are always looking for ways to save money while doing anything. One way that you can still have a vacation and enjoy saving money at the same time is by day trips to local areas that you might not have been to before. Here are some of the benefits of traveling locally to save money.

The first great benefit of traveling local is that you will end up saving money because since you are local you will not need to rent a room to stay the night in normally. If you are able to do that then you do not have to worry about that additional cost of a hotel room. Which in my area that hotel room rates can be anywhere from thirty nine dollars a night to over two hundred a night depending on how nice of a hotel that you want to stay in. That is money that you can put to use elsewhere or even expand your local travel to even more areas that you want to see to pay for gas which will allow you to take even more trips than you would if you took one huge vacation.

The second great benefit is that you will learn more about the area around your home. Which learning about the places that are local to your home is always nice to do because then if your area becomes larger in tourism you could start your own tour guide company and become self employed and be able to point out all the highlights that are around your area for people to enjoy.

While saving money while traveling is a nice thing to do you will want to explore a wide variety of options that you can do by traveling local. If you want some more great ideas on what to do while traveling local you will want to visit local travel ideas.

3May/15Off

See The World: 5 Ways to Travel on the Cheap

Travelling on a budget can be a bit of an oxymoron if you don't know how to go about it. I have definitely made many, many mistakes on my travels abroad, but have come out a much wiser budget traveller. Even though I still have my splurges, I stick to a few general rules to keep my budget in-line. Travelling on a budget does not mean restricting yourself or having less of a good time, it is all about getting the most out of your trip for the money you have. I have put together five tips that will help keep your wallet full, and adventures cheap. Enjoy!

1. Always travel local.

Do everything as the locals do. This is by far the best advice I could give. Avoid tourist areas like the plague when it comes to dining options. Walk around and explore to see where and what the locals are eating. You will be surprised at how much cheaper food is just by walking a few streets away from major attractions. Street food is your friend. And delicious. Pay attention to what transport the locals are using, chances are they aren't using the beer bus or over-priced taxis. Not only will you learn so much more about the country you are visiting this way, but the cost will be much easier to manage.

If you want to take it a step further, book your trips through local suppliers as well. Not only will this be cheaper than the big companies at home, it also supports the local communities you will be visiting. Try TravelLocal, they will pair you with a local company at your destination based on your requirements and budget.

2. Buy travel insurance.

It may seem strange to advise you to buy something when I am also trying to help you save money. But if you leave home with only one thing, let it be travel insurance. You can't predict the future, or how you will land after that Paragliding jump. Travel insurance allows you to be prepared for every scenario, and avoid costly medical bills if something happens along the way. If you go for annual travel insurance rather than single policies, you will be covered for trips throughout the entire year and will pay substantially less. Even if you aren't accident prone like me, you can't control the weather, other people, or unforeseen circumstances such as flight cancellations. Just do it.

3. Walk.

While it isn't always an option, there are a lot of cities that are great for walking. If you have time on your side you can easily walk to where you need to go, while avoiding the high cost of public transportation. Amsterdam is a terrific example and if you have at least two days to explore the city it is much more cost-effective to explore on your feet. You will have a better experience seeing the sites on your own rather than a stuffed tour bus. If you are worried about getting lost, some of my favorite adventure adventures started off that way. Many cities also offer walking guides or tours, so do a quick Google search before you leave.

Walkit.com has a great urban walking planner that gives you walking directions from Point A to Point B in cities throughout the UK.

4. Check out the freebies.

From free walking tours to free museum admission, check out what your destination may be able to give you for free. Most major cities have free walking tours, and only ask that you pay what you think the tour was worth at the end. You are under no obligation to tip, so can give as little or as much as your budget allows. A lot of major museums offer museum open days; the MOMA in NYC for example offers free admission to their collection every Friday night and the Louvre in Paris does the same the first Sunday of every month. Although there are definitely exceptions (Italy!) many churches/temples/mosques offer free admission onto the grounds. Regardless of your religious background, these sites offer some of the best architectural wonders and artwork around.

F.Y.I. Almost every museum in London is free to visit, the big cathedrals like Westminster Abbey are from from it. Expect to pay £18 which is equivalent to around $27-28.

Notre-Dame in Paris, Milan Cathedral, and the Djenne Mosque in Mali are all free, although for the latter you must be Muslim to go inside.

5. Be flexible.

If you want to travel on a budget, it is important to chillllll out. You don't NEED to fly out on a Friday, and that bed in the 4*star hotel is not worth starving yourself the rest of the trip. By allowing yourself to travel with some flexibility you will save money and enjoy the experience even more.

- Fly out on a Tuesday or Wednesday. While not always the case, flights are often cheaper on these days.

- Book a hostel instead of a hotel. Hostels aren't for smelly 18 year olds anymore. Many hostels are starting to re-brand themselves as boutique hostels. All this means to you is nice room, small price.

- Be open to doing things that aren't on the itinerary. When you travel you will meet people, and often these people know about great places that Frommer didn't mention. Sometimes these things end up being the best parts of a trip, so don't hold onto that piece of paper too tightly. These off-the-beaten-path adventures are, well, off-the-beaten-path. What does that mean to you? Less tourists means less chance for the locals to make a buck, which may translate to more money in your pocket.