Family Adventure Vacation Ideas for You

If you realize that it has been long since you have been on a holiday with your family, here’s something for you. If you and your family members are of the adventurous type, an adventure outing could be a good choice for your vacation. You might like to go hiking to someplace less visited, or engage in extreme sports. You might want to enjoy a forest trail and explore the wild, or go family camping by the riverside. The options are plenty. It’s you who makes the choice.

Trekking

If hiking in the hilly regions and walking in the wilds is something you enjoy doing, go trekking. Weather conditions and topography must be taken into account before planning a trek. If you are a trekker, you will love to explore the Himalayan regions in India. The Andes in South America is another popular destination for trekking. Alaska’s autumn forests, the rainforests of Australia and Africa, and the Kilimanjaro range in Africa offer some of the top trekking destinations. The Ladakh range in India, High Sierra in California, Mount Kenya, and the Swiss Alps are some other tourist destinations that are largely visited by trekkers from around the world. There are several walking and climbing routes in Mount Kenya that are used by hikers coming on an adventure tour to this region. The Alps of Switzerland is one of the most-visited tourist spots in the world. Construction of tourist facilities such as hotels and mountain huts began in the mid-nineteenth century and the Swiss Alps became a popular choice for trekking.

Sailing

Some enjoy sailing to marinas, which provide tourists with convenient docks and easy access to restaurants. Some prefer to visit sheltered bays and calm waters, while others may like to sail on a yacht to the high seas of Goa. If you enjoy nature’s company, you can choose to go sailing in the quiet river waters with your family, watching sea birds and enjoying the cool breeze. Some of you might like to cruise in the marinas, chatting with your dear ones over a glass of wine or engage in water sports to add a tinge of adventure to your sailing holiday. The Exumas in Bahamas, the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, the British Virgin Island, and the Caribbean waters offer some good tourist spots for an adventure vacation with the family.

Adventure Sports

Some of you might like to explore the coral reefs of Mauritius or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and discover the depths of the blue seas on a scuba diving or snorkeling vacation. If riding the waves is what you like, kitesurfing will provide you with that element of adventure. The white, sandy beaches of Hawaii, Tarifa, and Tenerife in Spain, and Boracay in Philippines offer some of the best kiteboarding destinations. Parasailing gives you a sense of freedom. For a bird’s-eye view of the ocean, you can visit parasailing destinations like Kerala and Goa.

River Rafting

Whitewater rafting originated way back in 1842 but became a popular sport only in the mid 1970s. Does this adventure sport interest you? If you would like to experience the thrills and chills of the white waters, go rafting on the deadly rapids. The white waters of River Ganges in the Himalayas, River Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh, and the Colorado River of the Grand Canyon offer some of the world’s best destinations for rafting.

Exploring the Wild

Exploring the wilderness of the forests is one of the best adventure vacation ideas. Spend time discovering the wildlife and observe habitats of wild animals. Such a trip will not only rejuvenate your mind but also teach children the importance of nature and wildlife conservation. The Wild Animal Safari in the Pine Mountain in Georgia hosts a rich animal reserve. The Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania serve as some of the excellent tourist spots for a trip with your family. Bird watching is another interesting activity to spend a holiday. Rio Grande valley and the pine forests of East Texas are popular bird watching destinations. Some tourist companies offer packages that include watching tropical and ocean birds.

Surfing

How about riding down an ocean wave while standing on a surfboard? Surfing is a favorite sport of many. If you are one of them, plan your vacations around the surfing destinations in different parts of the world. Hawaii is considered as the original home of surfing. Hawaii beaches are a popular tourist attraction. The wild waters of the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, the Pacific coast of California, the western coastline of France, and the Sunshine coast in Australia are some of the most popular surfing destinations in the world.

Camping

Camping is a good way to enjoy both fun and adventure. Just sitting around the campfire, cooking together, playing fun games, or chatting all night long in the tent; family camping turns out to be a time well-spent with your loved ones. When camping near a lake or river, you can engage in fun activities like swimming and fishing during the day. If the campground is near a mountain, you may like to enjoy the mountain view or go hiking to explore the hilly terrains. Cornwall in Southwestern England, New Hampshire in North America, and north-Indian states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand offer some good camping destinations.

Unearthing Archaeological Sites

If mysteries interest you, plan a vacation to Egypt and explore its archaeological wealth, the Egyptian Pyramids, or Mohenjo-daro, a city of the Indus Valley Civilization. The latter is one of the most explored archaeological sites in the world. Ciudad Perdida, San Agustin, and the tombs at Tierradentro in Colombia, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are some other famous archaeological vacation destinations.

Family vacations give you the opportunity to spend quality time with your family. Remember the last time you took your family on a vacation? Think of the joy you could see on their faces when you declared your plan for a holiday with them. So what are you waiting for? Get ready for an adventure vacation with your family. The pleasure of spending time with your near and dear ones is priceless.

Best Adventure Vacation Destinations for Women

All work and no play makes a jack a dull boy is quite a well-known saying and holds true to many people. A woman is often caught in multiple responsibilities, which hardly allows her to take a break and breathe. However, many women (young or old) are taking interest in having some adventure and unusual vacations, as it allows them to understand their potential and reignite the mind. The trip gets even more interesting if she is accompanied by her other female counterparts. So, if you want to add some fun, challenge, risk and some adventure, here a few adventurous ideas that you can choose from.

Yellowstone National Park
A great adventure place, Yellowstone National Park offers the pleasure of hiking and long treks. Yellowstone has millions of visitors every year. Hence, it has many interesting and challenging activities that makes the visitors come back. Visitor center, Norris Geyser Basin Museum, Fishing Bridge, Grant village and Albright are some of the visitor centers build for the tourists. There is also an option of taking up a Yellowstone Park wildlife tour, which includes a guide service, vans and boats to allow you a closer look at the wildlife in Yellowstone.

Colorado River Rafting
As per the website of Adventure Women, their exciting trip is the Colorado River rafting. They offer hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Park which is followed by five day Colorado river rafting. It’s a complete adventure trip filled with lot excitement and challenge. However, there are professionals to guide and give some safety tips, before you take on your great 5 day adventure. To make the trip more fascinating, this vacation package comes with riverside camping too.

Montana Ski Trip
Ever thought of Skiing in the snow covered mountains of Montana? This large city is located in the Western United States and has a varied climate. Its snow capped mountains have given rise to many skiing resorts. Among them, Great Divide, Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Big Sky Resort and Turner Mountain Key Resort are some of the well-known and commonly visited places. These resorts have many winter activities and skiing is among the most sought after adventure activities by the tourists.

Wildlife Safari
Take a wildlife tour in different countries as they offer you some of the excellent tour packages. Encounter some of the fascinating animals as you travel through the wild jungles of Africa or please your eyes with some of the wonderful landscapes of Antarctica, South America and Arctic. There are many traveling firms that offer tailor made safaris and have professionals to escort the tour.

Dive In
Do you love to explore the life under water? If your answer is yes, then go scuba diving. The vast oceans hold many different and captivating water species which are an amazing sight to watch. Float through the deep blue waters of Cozumel, Fiji, Cayman Islands and Belize. Scuba diving is one unique water sport where one can dive into the sea and enjoy swimming along with different water species.

Take a Flight
Fly like a bird and high up in the air. Experience the height and feel the wind blow through your hair. Paragliding is an extremely adventurous and a fun activity that could turn your vacation even more exciting. There are many destinations, which have suitable climatic conditions and offer well planned escorted paragliding tours for its visitors. Basic safety precautions are taught to the customers interested in taking paragliding tours. There are professionals who escort you throughout your paragliding tour too.

Rejuvenation is what everybody surely needs. These vacations could give you the desired change and allow you to encounter some of the extreme challenges in your trip.

Tips on Planning Trip to the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon is the second longest river in the world after Nile, and its basin, which is also a marvel in itself, spans across eight countries. These include Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, apart from the little overseas territory of France, viz., French Guiana. The Amazon rainforest, also known as the Amazon Jungle, covers most of the area occupied by the Amazon Basin in South America, and is undeniably the largest forest on our planet. It is a dense, moist, broadleaved jungle that supports such an unparalleled and varied ecosystem and offers such countless possibilities that at times, it almost seems like a fantastical dream―a folkloric region that boasts of near mythical inhabitants and happenings. But what really holds an element of mystique is the river itself; the majestic Amazon keeps on displaying its power and might from time to time.
Welcome to the Jungle!

The Amazon rainforest, as mentioned before, is the region of countless possibilities. It has so much to offer to the adventure-seekers that there comes a point when the forest expanse just starts seeming endless; you might stumble upon something new and exciting with every single step that you may take in Amazon’s wilderness. And this is precisely what makes the rainforest one of the most sought-after destinations of adventure enthusiasts―whether it is individual/group adventure or family fun, the Amazon Jungle is a treasure trove of ample opportunities for everyone.
Best Time to Travel
◆ In general, the Amazon rainforest experiences rainy season between November (or December) to about June.

◆ This is the time when the water level in the Amazon river rises, and the low-lying areas along its banks tend to get flooded. But owing to the risen water levels, many of the smaller channels along the basin actually become accessible at this time.

◆ This is best time for river cruising/kayaking adventures.

◆ On the other hand, between the months of July to December, the forest experiences dry season.

◆ This is the time when the water levels start receding with the rise in temperature. As the water recedes, a number of submerged beaches and trails get uncovered, thus, adding more exciting possibilities for adventures.

◆ For people who wish to indulge in activities such as fishing, hiking, and watching wildlife and birds, the dry season is the best time to travel.
Basic Factors to Consider
◆ The very first factor to take into consideration while planning a trip to the Amazon rainforest is whether you want to hire a tour operator or travel on your own.

◆ While traveling independently is possible, it often comes with its own set of complications. However, if you have a lot of time at your disposal, this option might suit you.

◆ If you opt to travel on your own, you will need to conduct thorough and adequate research, and make all your bookings―transport and accommodations―well in advance, and confirm them again before embarking on your journey.

◆ On the other hand, if you have limited time at your disposal and/or are planning your Amazon adventure for the first time, it is recommended that you hire a reputed tour operator who can take care of all the details of your trip and help you manage your budget.

◆ Independent travelers, even those who have been to the Amazon rainforest before, need to note that in most cases, you will feel the need to hire local tour operators, who will be able to help you with inland transfers and other basic facilities such as food and drink.

◆ The most important thing to consider is that you will need to have a local guide with you, especially if you intend to visit certain remote areas in the forest. A local guide who is well-versed with Spanish as well as the indigenous language of the region may be provided to you by your local tour operator.

◆ It should also be remembered that the Amazon region is prone to torrential rains that occur in the region almost every day. Owing to this, problems such as delayed flights and people missing the connecting flights are quite common there.

◆ Therefore, while booking your tickets, ensure that you do not miss out on this point. See to it that there is enough interval of time between the two flights you are going to take.

◆ Independent travelers must keep in mind that booking online will give them plenty of opportunities to avail discounted offers and other benefits, especially if they are booking well ahead. So, look for them and compare prices before making the final payment.

◆ Apart from the ones mentioned above, the most important factor to be considered is your overall budget. If you choose to go on a lavish, luxury trip to the Amazon rainforest, it would mean traveling by domestic flights/private cars, staying in upscale lodges/camps, eating grand lunches and dinners, and enjoying state-of-the-art facilities. However, such a trip will perhaps cut you off from the local culture and keep you from enjoying the reality of life in the Amazon.

◆ Budget travel to the region will mean that you will probably get very basic amenities like windowless chalets, public transport, and mediocre lunches and dinners.

◆ The best way to balance your budget in the Amazon region is to choose a good package deal that will include―apart from lodging―food, excursions, and other necessary facilities.
The Easiest Routes
◆ The Amazon rainforest can be best accessed through four countries, viz., Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

◆ If you wish to get into the rainforest from Brazil, the easiest and fastest route is from Manaus―the largest city of the Amazonas state in northern part of the country. You will find a good number of tour operators in Manaus, catering to all kinds of budgets.

◆ From Peru, the easiest way to access the Amazon rainforest is via the city of Iquitos in the Loreto Region of the country. Almost all the excursions to the Peruvian Amazon start from Iquitos. However, it should be noted that Iquitos can only be accessed from the rest of the country by air and water.

◆ The Ecuadorian Amazon can be accessed by means of flights and buses from various places in the country. The easiest option is to charter a small plane from the Ecuadorian capital city, Quito, or from Guayaquil, the country’s largest city. You can land on one of the regional airports on the edge of the Ecuadorian Amazon, such as that of Shell Mera. Road travel to the Ecuadorian Amazon is possible―the most common route is from Baños in central Ecuador to Puyo on the western edge of the Ecuadorian Amazon. However, it should be noted that the road journeys in this region may be dangerous owing to its rainy weather and hazards posed by landslides.

◆ The major hub for excursions into the Colombian Amazon is the country’s southernmost city, Leticia. It is surrounded by numerous paths that lead right into the Amazon rainforest, and one can take a bus or rent a car from the city. Several river cruises to the jungle can also be booked from Leticia, which take tourists to seemingly forbidden places of the Colombian Amazon, thus, making them a unique experience.
Duration of Stay
◆ Irrespective of the country through which you opt to enter the Amazon, a week is generally regarded as a good amount of time to spend in the region and enjoy it satisfactorily.

◆ Out of the week’s seven days, a maximum of two to three days are usually required for travel and transfers. This leaves out four to five days for indulging in activities and excursions, which tend to be just enough.

◆ Those who have a longer duration of time at their disposal can explore different regions of the Amazon, rather than sticking to one particular area. This will not only enable them to discover more of Amazon, but will also increase their opportunities to indulge in various adventures.
What to Expect
◆ There are a few common activities which virtually every visitor to the Amazon indulges in. These include hiking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, bird watching, camping in the wilderness at night, and fishing. Most of these activities are often included in the tour; however, confirming the same is always a good idea.

◆ If you enter from the Brazilian side, you get a very typical, textbook-type glimpse of the Amazon rainforest, but only at the surface level. If you are interested in wildlife, Brazilian Amazon may be disappointing for you. There has been large-scale deforestation in the area of late, owing to which the wildlife therein has been dwindling. However, you can indulge in adventures such as river cruising, kayaking, sport fishing, and tree climbing.

◆ Brazilian Amazon is known for the various indigenous communities that reside there, and travelers to the region get enough opportunities to visit them and interact with them.

◆ If wildlife interests you more, opt to enter the jungle either from Peru or from Ecuador. There are great spots in these areas for bird watchers and lepidopterists, and of course for wild animals like jaguars, spectacled bears, and rare species of monkeys.

◆ Those wanting to experience the best of both worlds should choose to travel from the Colombian side. Colombian Amazon boasts of both, indigenous settlements as well as great flora and fauna.
So, what are you waiting for? Head to the Amazon rainforest and experience the adventure of your lifetime. Only remember to respect the sanctity of the jungle and the privacy of the species in there. Moreover, as far as possible, avoid going in the wilderness without a local guide. Lastly, travel as light as possible, but remember to carry all the essentials including insect repellents, sunscreens, and antiseptic hand gels.

Finding Affordable Family Vacations

Parents today are busy working and providing for their families. A family vacation brings the entire family together in a relaxed and joyful atmosphere. It strengthens the bonds between them. However, during this time of economic depression, one has to spend money wisely.

With companies closing down, and jobs at stake, the last thing one wants to do is throw away all or most of the savings on an expensive family vacation. However, recession or no recession, vacations are a must.

The solution to this is resorting to cheap holidays. Joining hands with friends is also another way to reduce the costs. Several affordable getaways are available, wherein one can have fun without burning a hole in the pocket. Let us take a brief look at some ways you can enjoy a budget vacation.

Camping
One of the most inexpensive ideas available is camping. Moreover, camping is fun and exciting. The camping gear for a family of four will cost less than $1000, and can be used for future vacations as well. If you already have camping gear, then your trip becomes even cheaper. Several campsites feature shower and toilet facilities. Some of them even provide cable TV and wireless access. However, camping is meant to separate yourself from the daily routine, and enjoy life in the wilderness. Avoid anything that keeps your mind preoccupied with work, etc. RV camping is also popular as recreational vehicle parks feature hiking trails, playground facilities, lakes for swimming, boating, and other water sports.

Road Trips
Shifting the focus from the destination to the journey, can make a simple road trip fun and exciting. Load your car with yummy homemade goodies, and head on for a road trip. Stop at fun places such as museums, factories, historical buildings, or any other scenic spot you come across during the journey. If your children are young and love role plays, then, you all could pretend to be explorers. Provide the children with binoculars and cheap cameras. The best part about road trips is that you never know what’s in store for you. You will be surprised how simple trips like these can turn out into wonderful memories.

Horse Riding
Colorado Rockies’ King Mountain Ranch is a wonderful option for budget vacations. This resort is embedded with all sorts of activities for children and adults. There are facilities where the entire family can mount horses and ride through the Arapaho National Forest. Programs on horsemanship skills and safety measures are conducted for children. The aim of this resort is to train children to ride horses around the ranch or mountain trails. Besides horse riding, this place provides a number of other activities like trout fishing, bowling, volleyball, video library, etc. So there’s no way you and your family will not have a great time.

Skiing
For families passionate about skiing, small, old-fashioned resorts are a good option. The Mount Abram Family Resort, in Greenwood, Maine, is suited for budget vacations. This resort comprises gentle trails suited for family skiing. The atmosphere is friendly, however, the trails are short, and expert skiers in the family might be disappointed. Nevertheless, this place is the best choice for parents with small children.

Experiencing Farm Life
It’s good to experience farm life as well. Moving away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to the peace and quiet of a farm is good for a change. The Second Time Around Mini Farm in Washington, Georgia, is a fun spot for children. This mini farm features over a dozen English baby doll sheep, rabbits, goats, donkeys, two pot-bellied pigs, and llamas. Besides animals, this place is adorned with a large number of gardens and ponds to explore.

When you’re on a budget vacation, it’s best to plan well in advance. Booking airline tickets in advance will enable you to reach the same destination at a cheaper rate. Since rates during weekends are high, plan going for a vacation sometime during the week. Be on the look out for peak seasons and plan your vacation during the off season. Planning ahead and during the off season is the key to affordable family vacations.

Shopping for a Fishing Trip

Let me start off by saying I travel and fish…a lot. And although it is my job, I have to admit that often it doesn’t feel like work. I am a blessed man to have an occupation that is also my passion and I don’t take it for granted.

Of all the places I travel to fish, the little thumb of land that juts into the Caribbean on the East side of Mexico is perhaps my favorite. This peninsula is home to the three Mexican states of Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana-Roo and the country of Belize. I really love the Yucatan. I love the hot weather. I love the people, the culture, the food, the margaritas…and yes – the flyfishing. I really love the flyfishing. But at the risk of offending flyfishing purists – I also ALWAYS bring a spinning rod. There is nothing like spending an hour catching snapper with a 3/8 oz. jig after a day on the flats chasing bonefish, permit, and hunting the mangroves for tarpon. And the guides love it when they get to keep a fresh fish or two for the family.

I have spent the equivalent of five months of my life in the Yucatan over the past twenty years. I go there almost every year and this year I’ll host two weeks for the third time in six years. This much fishing in one area has given me a wealth of experience that I am thrilled to be able to provide to you. There are at least seven distinct areas that I know intimately. And in these areas are at least 20 quality operators of fishing adventures. Some are small and do only day trips around Cancun, Cozumel, and Puerto Aventuras. Others are large lodges that hold up to twenty or more guests per week. Almost all claim to have the best of something and the most of something else…but they have marked differences in price, accommodation, and fishing.

How does a person choose?
First things first – what do you want to catch? There is no one place that has the best fishing for all the species most of us think of when we think Yucatan. These are tarpon, permit, bonefish, and snook. Let’s look at each species –

TARPON
In my opinion, the best big tarpon fishing is in Belize. By big, I mean fish that are 40-150 pounds. These silver kings are a great trophy and the waters of Belize are home to thousands of them. Some are resident fish and many are migratory fish that come through Belize from May through August each year. Remember that July through October is traditionally what the world calls hurricane season for the Caribbean, so travel insurance is a good idea. But anglers willing to live on the edge a little will find the conditions in late summer and fall the absolute best time to catch big tarpon.

Nursery sized tarpon – or baby tarpon are without a doubt my favorite saltwater species.There is some evidence that suggests these smaller tarpon may in fact be a separate sub-species…but that is fodder for another blog. One of the reasons I love the smaller tarpon is that I have lower back issues. If I catch one big tarpon a day, I need a lot of ice – some for my back, and a lot more for my margaritas to wash down my Ibuprofen. With “baby tarpon” (fish that are 5-35 pounds) I can catch them all day and don’t need nearly as much medication! But the other more important reason, is that I can actually catch 10 or more (best day was 28 for our boat) of these little supercharged fish in a single day. They are aggressive to a host of fly types. They often feed all day and and seem to be less sensitive to moon phases, tides, and temperatures. The best place I have found on the Yucatan is Campeche. Isla Holbox is a close second, and Isla Holbox also has a good number of larger tarpon as well about a half mile offshore of this charming isle at the northernmost tip of the peninsula.

PERMIT
The best permit fishing – that is a tough one. Permit are so hard to catch. So as usual, catching and fishing can be two very different activities. I have seen many permit in Ascencion Bay, but the fishing pressure there makes them tough to photograph up close. I would have to give the honor of “best permit catching” to Belize again. There is a little place in Southern Belize off the coast of Placencia called Tarpon Alley. I have only spent one week there (week two is likely this spring) but I saw more feeding permit there then anyplace on the peninsula. And I caught my biggest permit to date on my last day. Patience is a good thing.

BONEFISH
The best bonefishing I have seen is probably in Xcalak for numbers and overall size…however Ascencion Bay and Belize also have hundreds of quality flats with thousands of bonefish on all of them. The truth is that bonefish are easy to find and pretty easy to catch. The really big ones can make the last statement patently false, but they are certainly easier than Permit, tarpon, and snook.

SNOOK
Snook are delicious at the table. For this reason, many of the snook populations (yes, even in the nationally protected areas) have been decimated by illegal harvesting. The biggest ones I have seen caught are in Ascencion Bay in some hard to reach areas. I’ve also caught literally hundreds of smaller snook on my Campeche adventures. Many anglers consider the snook an “accessory” item on a fishing trip, but the big ones are true trophies.

Once you have figured out your targets, you can more easily choose your region. Now comes the hard part. How much money do you want to spend? Cost is directly determined by a combination of quality of accommodation, logistics, supply, and demand. Like any free market, the destinations are trying to earn enough to cover their costs and make a living for the people involved in putting the adventures together. There are small intimate lodges that are very remote. There are nice hotels in larger cities with great fishing just minutes away. Do you want a private charter flight to the lodge or is a four-hour drive ok? Ia A/C a must? Or will you be able to handle ceiling fans and ocean breezes to cool you off? Your budget will definitely help dictate your choice, but keep this in mind – you only live once, you can’t take it with you, and you will never regret the memories you will share with good friends on a fishing trip!

Holiday Budget Tips for You

Come holidays and it seems like all you’re doing is spending. The cash just doesn’t seem to last and you really don’t know what to do. At times like these, it is quite natural for some to have their holidays turned into a dreaded feeling. So how do we turn this thing around and enjoy the holidays in the way that they are meant to be? We try some holiday budget tips. The biggest money crunches can be solved with a little planning and budgeting and that is exactly what we need to concentrate on. In the following sections, we will be giving you key tips on drawing up a holiday budget and how to go about getting the best of both worlds with simple budgeting.

Overall Budgeting
It is extremely important that you have an overall budget in place or there are chances that you’ll end up spending much more than what you want, and on things that you don’t need. Here are some tips to keep in mind when learning how to make a budget for your next holiday:

  • Make a list of the things that you need to be spending on. Having a complete list ready helps to plan better than being faced with last minute expenditure.
  • Calculate the money you have that can be spent and then put in a bulk sum against each item that you need to spend on. Try and stick to this sum.
  • Keep a small amount as a safety net for any sudden or unexpected expenditures.
  • It’s not really possible to suddenly come up with a bulk of money at the start of a holiday for spending. The trick is to save up for it throughout the year so that you do not feel a crunch all at once. Try and open a saving account a year or several months in advance and dedicate it merely to the holiday budget. In that way you’ll have quite a sum to work with at your disposal.

Shopping
Shopping is one of the most expensive things that you end up doing in the holiday season. Maybe it can’t be cut out completely, but you can definitely control how much you spend on shopping. Here are some shopping tips.

  • Make a list of all the people you need to buy things for. Then write in the amount that you want to spend for each of them. Stick to it.
  • Look for discounts and schemes. Sales are also a great way to save some money.
  • Do not let your emotions come in the way of shopping, or your budget is as good as useless.
  • Shop online so that you’re not tempted by the grand displays and countless other tempting offers that are running.
  • Don’t wait for the last minute to do your shopping. The more you wait the more expensive it becomes. Try to get your shopping done months in advance.
  • Try and pay with cash so that you are aware of what you’re spending and can thus keep a check on the same. Also, it’ll help prevent impulse buying.

Vacation Planning
There are many who take vacations around the time of holidays and want to know about vacation budget tips. The following are some of those:

  • Plan a holiday in advance. Last minute traveling, booking, and accommodation costs much more. You can easily avoid this by doing the right budget travel.
  • Consider starting an account to further the holiday fund as well.
  • Look for discounts on hotels, flights and other aspects. There are a lot of these schemes available during the holiday season. Be informed and you could save yourself a lot of money.
  • Find out about the days that are the most expensive to travel on and see if you can maybe go a day or two before or after that day. This will help save a lot of expenses.
  • Consider other modes of transport that are probably not as expensive as airfare.
  • Try and cut out on certain elements of a holiday like saving on accommodation by putting up with relatives and friends, or at a hostel.

With these holiday budget tips, it should’ve become easier for you to plan and budget this holiday season. Think about it this way, if you plan now, you can have a stress-free holiday later. And isn’t that the point of it all?

Ways to Plan a Trip to Seattle on a Budget

E. L. James’ epic novel definitely has a minor contribution towards an increasing number of people visiting Seattle, mainly wanting to get a slice of the city that provided the setting for Ana and Christian’s steamy encounters.

All of that apart, Seattle is a vibrant and fun city to be in; be it a weekend, or longer. And no, you wouldn’t need to break the bank to have an enjoyable trip here either. Just follow our lead and plan a fabulous holiday in Seattle.

Planning an Affordable Trip to Seattle

Getting There
While booking a flight, it is always recommended that you book early in order to get a decently affordable fare. However, it has also been observed that last-minute booking can also yield fairly low prices. So, whether your trip to Seattle has been planned in advance, or is completely on the whim, you stand a good chance of booking a cheap flight ticket to get here.

Alternatively, you may even travel to Seattle by bus, train, or your own vehicle. Compare costs and decide your mode of transportation.

Places to Stay
Seattle has an array of budget hotels and hostels to choose from, whatever your tastes and expectations may be. Here are a couple of options:

City Hostel | 2327 2nd Ave. Seattle, WA 98121
This place has dorm-styled as well as private rooms, priced between USD 30 to USD 75, breakfast included. This is a quirky, artsy kind of place located close to the Pike Place Market.

Hotel Hotel Hostel | 3515 Fremont Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98103
Fremont is a fantastic neighborhood to live in while you’re here, so here’s an option. Hotel Hotel is actually a hostel, so you have the option of living in a dorm, or have a private room to yourself. It will cost you anywhere between USD 30 and USD 70 to stay here.

Where to Eat
Ah! Where to start? Seattle has quite a reputation when it comes to dishing up some delectable seafood, considering its proximity to the Pacific. Anyway, here are a few must-eat-ats in Seattle.

The Walrus and the Carpenter | 4743 Ballard Ave. NW. Seattle, WA 98107
Yes, it is a bit on the pricier side, but this restaurant is the pride and joy of Seattle, if you can call it that. Locals and tourists throng this little place that serves some delicious oysters, and also a tasty grilled octopus. If your budget is too tight, visit the place during happy hour when they’ve got those one dollar oysters.

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery | 5427 Ballard Ave. NW. Seattle, WA 98107
Further away from The Walrus… lies this wonder of a bakery that sells some heavenly molten chocolate cakes in tiny jars. The milkshakes, spiked or otherwise, are also a delight.

More grub on the cheap can be found in the International District/Chinatown area, where you can down a stomach full for as low as USD 10. A mandatory trip must be taken to the original Starbucks | 1912 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101 for a steaming hot cuppa, Starbucks-style.

Getting Around
The most affordable way to explore Seattle is on foot or riding a bicycle, as the city’s roads are quite easy to navigate. Ferries are an excellent option as well, as they take you along the waterways to view the most picturesque parts of the city. Other low-cost options include streetcars and monorail. Renting a car is recommended for those who also plan to explore the city’s outskirts.

Places to See
For all you artsy ones, Seattle’s museums including the Seattle Art Museum | 1300 First Ave. Seattle, WA 98101, along with the Museum of History and Industry | 860 Terry Ave. N. Seattle WA, 98109 are a must-see.

Pike Palace Market | 1st Ave. and Pike St. Seattle, WA 98101 is a landmark of this city, and has no entry fee. You’ll find the city’s best produce here, along with a long line of shops and restaurants.

The Seattle CityPASS booklet (USD 74 for adults, USD 49 for kids) will let you enter the city’s 6 prime attractions, including Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, EMP Museum, etc.

On a concluding note, do not get bogged down by reports of Seattle’s perpetually dank weather. Yes, it does rain a lot, but the weather here is susceptible to change by the hour. Unpredictable as it is, you can get that coveted spot of sunshine at the end of a cloudy day.

Travel Tips For Old People

Rohit’s parents will be completing 50 years of their marriage next month. He wants to send his parents on a tour to North India to celebrate their anniversary. But one thing about which Rohit is concerned, is about how his parents will manage their health.

But if think over it, it is not that difficult. By taking care of few things you can easily send you parents on tours and trust them for managing their health.

Following are few useful tips which you have to take care before help them to pack their bags…

  • Health: Before making any kind of reservation check if your parents are well and are not suffering from any health issues like cold, cough or fever. It is always better to ensure they are fit to go for the trip. Avoid if any of the two are not keeping unwell or having any kind of illness.
  • Medicines:If your parents are on any kind of medication then it is better to check that they carry all their medicines. Inform your family physician about their tour and ask him if they need to change their medicines or carry any other extra medicines with them. It is advisable to carry medicines for some basic things like vomiting, headaches, body aches and diarrhea as all these are common problem one faces while travelling due to climate change and change in diet. It is common for old people to forget things and taking medicines is one of them. If you don’t want this to happen then remember to set alarms in their mobile phone which will remind them to take their medicines on time.
  • Health Insurance Card: It is very important that your parents carry their health insurance card with them without fail.Health exigencies can arise anytime and at such times your parents can easily take treatment with help of their health insurance card.
  • Right bag:Most of the times, old couples carry wrong bags when travelling Oldies are prone to slips, falls so make sure you give them right kind of luggage. You can opt for Strolley bags which can be easily dragged and will also avoid back and shoulder aches.
  • Mobile Phone: Give your parents a mobile phone which will act as medium to communicate. Make it a point that you call them once a day and ask them about how their day went, did they eat properly, took medicines etc.
  • Clothes:Ensure that your parents carry right clothes according to the climate. Make sure they carry warm clothes if they go in winters and carry cotton light clothes in summers along with hats or umbrella to avoid headaches due to sun. Along with clothes it is very important for them to carry right kind of shoes. Buy them a pair of sports shoes if not there, as they very comfortable while walking and travelling. Also make sure that they carry extra pair of sandals and slippers.

Tips to Save Money on Food While Traveling

A Tip to Remember:
Hotels make a huge profit on room service, hence you should avoid calling for room service whenever possible.
Traveling is a great way to find oneself, and discover the beauty around. It’s an amazing way to explore different parts of the world, meet new people, try out new things, and have fun. However, everything in the world comes with a price tag, and traveling definitely comes with an expensive one.
When we plan for a trip, we tend to focus mainly on the airfare and accommodation. We leave the rest unplanned, and that is where our downfall lies. Expenses while traveling can quickly add up, and before you know it, you will have already crossed your budget. We make a mistake by not planning the rest of the trip, which includes our food. Most people think that food gets accounted for in the accommodation cost, but this is far from true. Of course, the hotel you are staying in might provide complimentary lunch or dinner, but the chances are slim. Most hotels offer only a complimentary breakfast, making huge profits when you dine at their restaurants.

In the end, you realize that the most expensive part of your trip was not the airfare or the accommodation, but the food. Well, thankfully, there are a few simple ways by which you can reduce the money you spend on food while traveling. In this article, we give you tips to ensure that your food expenses remain lower than your airfare.

Do Your Homework

You need to conduct proper research about the place you are going to be visiting. Once you have finalized the destination, look for people who have been there and ask them about general costs. Look for hotels or motels that provide complimentary food. These might be few and far in between, but you will end up saving a lot if you find such a place. Also, make sure you understand the terms and conditions that accompany the complimentary tag. Most big hotels will not provide lunch and dinner, so try to avoid big hotels. Look for a B&B, or a motel that is not too close to major tourist areas.

Look for Kitchenettes

While searching for places to stay, try to find places that provide a kitchenette facility. This includes a small refrigerator, some utensils, and a microwave. Again, stay away from big hotels, as you will not find such facilities there. A few hotels and motels might allow you to cook food in your room. Cooking in your room, even if it is something simple, saves you from going out and paying exorbitant rates every time you are hungry. Again, a bed and breakfast, or a small motel away from the city is your best option.

Spend Wisely on Water

Water is something you need frequently. You may not be able to carry a lot, which means you will end up buying a lot of it. However, spending on water can be done wisely. Buying a bottle of water every time you are thirsty is not the way to go if you are looking to save money. Instead, buy a big bottle of water and carry a smaller bottle, which you can refill, every time you head out. Try to avoid drinking tap water when you are traveling, especially if you travel to a different country. When you are thirsty, do not try to quench your thirst drinking sodas and the like; these will only make you more thirsty.

Choosing Restaurants

When you travel, your natural instinct will make you eat the local cuisine served at local restaurants. This means, you will be eating out, shelling out more money every time you do so. However, here are some ways to ensure that you don’t spend too much. Try to eat at modest places; if you opt to go to a swanky 5-star place to eat, then you are going to have to pay a lot more. Try to move away from popular tourist zones; prices here are generally higher. Some restaurants may have promotional offers, try looking for these in the local papers. Restaurants that have just opened are also a good bet; they usually have promotions and discounts that you can avail of. If you have kids with you, there are a few places where they serve kids for free. Simply stepping into the first place you see is not the way to save money.

Try the Street Food

Many places around the world have a huge culture of street food. Vendors prepare the food right in front of you, and the best part is that it hardly takes a few minutes. In some places, the street food may even be better than fancy restaurants. Such vendors are usually found in heavily populated tourist areas, so this is something that you don’t have to go around looking for. Street food is nowhere as expensive as food served in a restaurant, so you will end up saving a significant amount of money.

Look Out for Deals

Many stores, hotels, and restaurants have promotions that they advertise for in various places. While you are searching for your flight, or booking your hotel, you may come across these offers. Taking these offers can reduce a significant part of your expenses on food. Offers are also available at the airport, the bus-stand, or taxi-stand. Newspapers are another source of these offers and coupons. Make sure you research well before you finalize any restaurant.

Heavy Lunch

In most places, restaurants charge a different rate for lunch, and a different rate for dinner. Usually, the rate for lunch is cheaper. If you can identify any such restaurants around the place you are staying, then you can opt to make lunch a bigger meal, and eat less for dinner. Not only will this help you save money, but is a healthier option as well. Also, when eating out, there is no need to order all the courses, you can order an entree directly. You can even get your leftovers to be packed and taken back to the hotel to be eaten later.

Drink Smart

Having a few drinks while eating out is the fastest way to increase your food bill. It is best to avoid drinking at restaurants while you are traveling. If it is a necessity, then look for places that serve complimentary drinks with the food. Many places have happy hours, where the cost of drinks and food is slightly lower than the normal rate. You can visit these place during these hours to make the most of the offer. If it is legal in the country and the hotel you are in, then you can even have a few drinks in your room before heading out. Wine-tasting offers you free samples, so don’t forget to check for such deals.
These were a few suggestions that can help you save some money on food while you are traveling. You can also visit a supermarket and stock up on things that you can eat in your room, like chips, pretzels, and the like. Similarly, stock up on water and beverages instead of heading out for a coffee all the time. Also, make sure that you are choosing your restaurants wisely, and compensating for unnecessary expenses. Keep a track of all your food expenses in a journal. This should help you keep those food expenses in check. Have a nice trip!

How to Plan an Affordable Trip to Spain

As much as we’d like to curse the state of the Euro at the moment, it isn’t the only factor that’s making our European holidays expensive. It is the cumulative cost of air travel, hotel stays, internal transport, meals, entrance fees, taxes, and the likes which deliver a lethal blow to our best laid plans. But worry not, as we’ve lined up the best penny-pinching tips to help you plan a fabulous Spanish sojourn. Let’s begin.
Book your tickets early … or late.

Both might give you a cheaper deal, but if you’re looking to be on the safe side, book early; as early as three months in advance. If you think your transatlantic flight to your Spanish destination is very expensive, you may try booking a cheaper ticket to a different country close to Spain, and then book a seat on a European budget airliner like Ryanair. Keep in mind, though, that most budget airlines have a knack of levying “extra” surcharges that can elevate the cost. Therefore, it is prudent to do all the math before you book; but it is recommended that you fly direct, especially if this is your maiden visit.

Last-minute deals could be up for grabs on sites like Expedia or Orbitz. But these may not always be enticing enough, which is why early booking is your best bet.
Hotels? Or Hostels?

Yes, hostels are cheaper, and we’re all aware of that. But we’re telling you to opt for neither. If you happen to be going solo/as a couple/in a small group, we recommend Couch surfing or Airbnb. These sites will help you get in touch with people (in Spain) who will allow you to house-sit for free, while they’re traveling themselves. The arrangement works well for people who are planning an extensive stay in the country. The advantage is that it lets you stay among the locals, than be cooped up with fellow travelers in a hotel or a hostel.

If you’re not comfortable with house-sitting, or if you are traveling in a large group, renting an apartment makes more sense. The overall cost works out to be cheaper, and you always have a kitchen at your disposal―which means that you can cook and save some dough which you would have otherwise spent. You may not believe it, but home-cooked meals save you some serious money, and you only realize it on the penultimate days of your holiday. And as we all know, it is one of life’s greatest joys to discover a surprising stash of our own money when traveling abroad.
Did we hear cheap grub?

Spain, for one, is a delightful place to be in if you are a food aficionado. Their cuisine is out-of-this-world amazing, and though, we recommended that you cook a few meals in your apartment, eating out in Spain is a must. Spaniards believe in keeping their breakfast light, and their lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Which is why, they have the concept of Menu del Dia or Menu of the Day. This is a rather filling, all-inclusive meal that costs under USD 10, and feeds you all the delicious Spanish delicacies of your dreams.

Spanish people have a proclivity for late dinners, which is why they gorge on tapas, which are appetizers sold in bars. At times, they come as a free accompaniment with the drink, or you can purchase them separately. Two or three rounds of these, and you feel like you’ve drowned in food, especially if this is on a day when you’ve feasted on the Menu del Dia.
Tighten your travel expenses.

Barcelona tourist bus
Buses in urban Spain are relatively cheaper than trains. That said, Madrid and Barcelona have an excellent subway network that is easy, efficient, and not-too-expensive. Renting bicycles in Barcelona is quite the rage among Eco-conscious travelers, and is a great way to explore the city for cheap. SANDEMANs NEW Europe Tours conduct walking tours in Madrid and Barcelona. These are conducted by well-informed local guides who work on a tips-only basis. If you’re traveling to the interiors, you may want to rent a car if you have a large group, or take advantage of Spain’s extensive bus and train network. Renting cars in the big cities is definitely nor recommended, since parking fees in most urban areas tend to be exorbitant.
Sightseeing for less.

National Prado Museum
Most museums in Spain tend to have a free-entrance policy during late afternoons or on Sundays. Of course, you can expect serpentine lines during these times, but if saving money is a priority, this should not be too bothersome. Checking individual websites of attractions will let you visit these places sans the charge.

Discount cards are offered in most major cities of Spain. These passes allow you to enter several city attractions at discounted rates, and can be used over the course of around 4 weeks. This option is suitable for travelers who plan to stay put in Spain for an extensive period, rather than those who will just be spending a couple of days in a city.

Each major city also has a system of public transport discounts combined with attraction tickets, like the Barcelona Card, for instance. These passes are fabulous budget savers as they combine the cost of transportation and entrance fees as well.
Steer clear of tourist traps.

Tourists on Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain
Unfortunately, tourist traps are an inevitable part of the tourism business, and we can’t really help it. But as someone wanting to stick to a budget, it is advisable to keep these places at an arm’s length. A visit to Barcelona’s La Rambla could be on your agenda, but whatever you do, avoid shopping there, as everything is insanely expensive. Yes, even a silly Sagrada Familia fridge magnet can set you back by a cool 15 Euros. Are you really interested?
Big tips aren’t necessary.
In Spain, the generous tippers usually tend to be tourists. By Spanish standards, a 5% tip is more or less the upper limit, as against the American norm of 20%. Also, locals mostly tend to leave loose change in tips, which should give you a fair idea about the tipping customs here. So, avoid leaving hefty tips, and don’t beat yourself up for having done so.
Saving money on money matters.

Withdrawing money from ATM in Spain is a better option than carrying currency from your country of origin. You will need to talk to your bank regarding the charge levied on international withdrawals before your departure. It is recommended that you avoid money exchange bureaus, since they charge hefty fees for money transfers.
The Value Added Tax (VAT) refund in European nations is mostly seen as a hassle that most tourists don’t wish to bother with. However, if you are planning to shop a lot, do take the effort of claiming the VAT refund when you’re leaving the country. To avail this refund, your purchase has to be above a certain amount, which is 90 Euros. Also, this minimum amount has to be spent at a single store at one go―you aren’t allowed to add up your purchases from various shops to reach the required amount. Finally, when you’re leaving the country, you need to carry the transaction receipts, the billed purchases, and your passport to prove you’re not a resident of the European Union. The Customs officials will examine your documents and the corresponding goods, and the refund will be debited to your credit card in about two months’ time.

Now, there can never be an end to money saver tips, and if we were to list them all, you’d actually never end up in Spain at all. So, while budgeting is important, do not let it get in the way of having some wholesome fun. You’re going to be in Spain, after all.