Thursday, July 23, 2015

Eating Abroad

A huge expense while traveling is eating out. There are multiple things you can do to $ave money in this regard, but still enjoy the local cuisine.

A fancy lunch versus dinner,
like this one in Russia, is a cost-saver!
  • Eat a nice lunch versus fancy dinner. Stop by a cafe or casual restaurant for dinner.
  • Local grocery stores offer great sandwiches, meats, and fruits, for a much more reasonable price than a local cafe. Also, I often buy cookies, jams, etc. from grocery stores to bring back for friends. Cost-effective, and also sure to be an authentic treat!
  • Share appetizers/dessert (or forego these altogether). Take a stroll and get an ice cream instead of ordering at a restaurant. Typically a cheaper choice, and a fun after dinner activity.
  • Buy wine to indulge in before or after dinner instead of at a restaurant. Alcohol can often can be consumed in a local park or outdoors in other countries.
  • Pack snacks in your luggage from home… Granola bars, peanut butter crackers, etc. Nothing is worse than traveling hungry! 
  • Book a place with a kitchen/fridge to make meals.
  • When considering hotels, consider ones with breakfast included.

Pick up food for a picnic at a farmer's market

Local groceries offer regional delicacies
you can't find elsewhere!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cruising to Cuba!

Carnival cruise ships will be visiting Cuba soon!
Exciting news from the Carnival cruise ship corporation this week - they plan on cruising their mid-size ship Adonia to Cuba, which will be part of their new "Fathom" brand. The cruise line just got permission from the US Government to start the sailings, which will involve experiencing local Cuban life through cultural and artistic exchanges. The sailings will begin in May 2016 at a starting price of $2990, about three times higher than the typical Carnival Caribbean cruise! (I bet if you wait a year, to let them work out kinks, the price will also drop a bit.)

While other tour operators are going to be offering land-based packages, cruising will offer passengers comfortable accommodations while still being able to spend days ashore immersing oneself in a Cuban cultural experience. What do you think? Excited to experience and visit Cuba? 

It is now just dependent on Cuban government approval...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Natural Disasters… Don't let them ruin your vacation!

No one likes to have bad weather on their vacation, but it's a whole other ballgame when a natural disaster hits! Make sure to research what severe weather events can happen at your travel destination, and avoid them if possible. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

I wasn't expected a winter storm in New Zealand in September,
but you never know when a once in a generation storm will hit!
Best to be prepared for anything.
1) Hurricane season is June - November in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans.  Typhoon season is May - October in the Pacific Ocean.

2) Tornados can hit anytime, but are most likely in March - June.  They are also more prevalent in the United States than in any other country.

3) Heat waves are common in the summer (June - August in the Northern Hemisphere and January - March in the Southern Hemisphere).

Some natural disasters are hard to predict, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Just make sure you're aware of the dangers and have an emergency plan! In addition, travel insurance is a must for expensive trips. See my previous post on this topic and stay safe!

Some disasters can't be predicted, like Volcano Eruptions,
and caution has to be taken year round.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Travel Trivia!

For those who like to travel, here are some fun trivia questions. See how many you get right…

1) Which country gets the most people visiting every year?
2) Which country's people consume more beer per capita than anyone else on earth?
3) What is the only US state that had a king?
4) How many people go on a cruise holiday each year?
5) What percent of Africa is in the Northern Hemisphere?
6) Which country is the smallest sovereign nation in the world but also has the highest population density in the world?
7) Which country, located in the Americas, has the most lakes in the world?
8) Do glaciers store more or less than 50% of all the freshwater on the planet?
9) Does the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building have more steps?
10) Which island nation has the highest number of spoken languages in the world?
11) What is the driest place on the planet?
12) What is the only continent on the world without a desert?
13) Which city is known as the bullfighting capital of the world?
14) What is the largest Island country?
15) The Russian embassy in the US owes how much money in unpaid parking tickets?

1) France - over 80 million people visit annually
2) Czechoslovakians consume more beer per capita than anyone else on earth
3) Hawaii
4) Over 10 million take a cruise each year.
5) About 2/3 of Africa is in the Northern Hemisphere
6) Monaco
7) Canada
8) Glaciers store between 70-80% of all the freshwater on the planet. 99% of those glaciers are in the Arctic and Antarctic.
9) The Emipre State Building (1,860 steps) versus the Eiffel Tower (1,792).
10) Papua New Guinea - 820 indigenous languages are spoken in this country.
11) Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.
12) Europe
13) Seville, Spain.
14) Greenland - 839,000 square miles. (Australia is larger, but is a continent versus island.)
15) $3.8 million dollar in unpaid parking tickets!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not all cruise ships are created equal!

Whether you are an avid cruiser, or new to the industry, there are more cruise ships than any one person can travel on! Here's a breakdown of the positive and negatives of larger versus smaller ships, to help you make a decision regarding what will be best for your next cruise vacation!

River Ships offer a more personalized experience.
(Photo from Viking River Cruises)
River Ships (<200 passengers)
+ Completely different ports than larger ships
+ Attention to detail and personalized shore excursions
+ Focused on history and culture
- Less entertainment options
- Pricy

Small ships (<1,000 passengers)
+ VIP feel
+ More unusual ports than the larger ships
+ Quality entertainment, but less variety
- Cost
- Fewer options of destinations

Midsize Ships (1,000-3,000 passengers)
Royal Caribbean currently has the world's largest
cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, pictured here. It can hold
6,296 passengers and 2,384 crew!

+ High quality entertainment
+ Pleathora of ports of call
+ Quality of megaships, but with smaller price tag
+ Reasonable cost
- Crowded (Passenger:Crew ratio)

Megaships (3,000+)
+ Endless entertainment (Rock climbing walls, shopping, swimming, bumper cars, etc.)
+ A lot of new people to meet and stories to exchange
+ Variety of evening shows, bars and restaurants
- Only dock in major ports
- Large crowds both on the ship, as well as in port