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

Friday, June 5, 2015

"Don't Forget" for your Road Trip!

Road trips, such as on the famous Highway 1 in California,
are a summer tradition in America. 
Whether road trips are a fond childhood memory, or an annual tradition, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure your trip is fun and doesn't run flat!

1) Get your car thoroughly looked at before you leave by a trusted mechanic. (Or, get a rental! If you're traveling a long distance, a rental might be the most cost-effective versus putting mileage on your car.)

2) Pack extra snacks and water, in case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere and have to wait a while for a tow. Personally, I also have a flashlight and sleeping bag (for winter road trips), in case you get stuck in the snow.

3) Plan your route ahead of time, or make sure to have paper maps in addition to electronic navigation. You never know when you'll run out of signal, battery, or your device will just… break!

4) Invest in AAA! Whether you lock your keys in your car, get a flat, or have a dead battery, AAA can easily pay for itself in just one service call.

Once you're prepared, it's time for the adventure!  Be flexible and let the road lead you!  Safe travels.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Travel on any budget!

Getting back to the main reason for this blog… Here are some suggestions to save you money while you travel!

One of the best meals some friends and I had in
Portugal, was at this small restaurant
at the recommendation of a local.
- Early morning and late evening flights tend to be cheapest.
- Stay in a business hotel (CBD) over the weekend. When the businessmen leave, so do the high prices.
- Visit places outside of peak season: Ski resorts in the summer, Beach resorts in the spring/fall, etc. Shoulder season can save you a lot, while still offering nice weather.
- Hostels aren't just for college kids. Some even offer senior discounts and private rooms/bathrooms. (Check out HostelWorld for rates and reviews!)
- Eat away from the tourist area of town. Ask a locals working at your hotel or coffee cafe what they recommend! Bound to get local flavor that way.
- Shop for souvenirs and snacks at a grocery store. You'll find local delicacies at a great price!
- Don't overtip! Believe me, I think a good tip for a job well done is nice, but see my separate post about appropriate tipping depending on the country.

Amazing price and amazing view from our hostel in Lisbon!