Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

An exotic destination wedding can add a touch of flair and passion to any wedding event. Rather than hosting the important occasion near their area of residence, many couples opt to hold their weddings in exotic location. These locations don’t just serve as beautiful backdrops for tying the knot; they also make the event magical and memorable.

destination wedding

Fiji’s Turtle Island

Fiji’s Turtle Isle offers couples a romantic ambiance within a serene beach setting. The 500-acre landmass can only allow 14 couples per time, which translates to an idealistic and peaceful background free from overcrowding. Weddings at this enchanting destination include customary Fijian attire, fresh flower bouquets for guests and a realistic Fijian choir if desired. The bride usually arrives on-scene with a hand sewn wedding raft, carried by a strong procession team who are also donned in traditional Fijian clothes.

Italy’s Romantic Cities

Whether you plan to host your wedding in Venice, Rome, Florence or Tuscany, the country offers love birds an exotic experience full of culture and natural beauty. Venice is a mysterious but vibrant town where one can catch a ride on ancient wedding gondolas. On the other hand, Tuscany is famous for its fine winery and pristine fresh grape vineyards. Tuscany is also home to ancient regal estates that couples can visit at their own convenient time; these include Villa Chianti and Mona Lisa Estate.

Germany’s Castles

Germany is a beautiful country with hundreds of antiquity castles dotting its landscape, from Heidelberg Castle to the majestic Neuschwanstein Castle and enigmatic Mespelbrunn. Though it may be expensive to rent space in one of the fortresses, you can do so at adjacent patios with nice backdrops of your favourite castle. After the event, you can explore Germany’s historical museums, ski slopes and the beautiful countryside scenery.

Switzerland’s Mountains

Whether the wedding occasion is held during winter or summer season, the magnificent Swiss Alps can offer a grandiose and spectacular backdrop to any outdoor or indoor wedding. During winter the hillside is usually snow-capped with endless opportunities for tobogganing and skiing. Summer weddings also feature majestic mountains that are usually covered in green lush forests and outdoor opportunities for sightseeing, hiking and swimming.

Jamaica beach weddings

This gorgeous Caribbean island serves as a scenic setting for those who want to enjoy cool beach breezes, white sandy surroundings and all-inclusive seashore resorts that can also serve as perfect honeymoon spots. The most romantic resort areas include Montego Bay, South Coas, Port Antonia and Ocho Rios.

Bali Island

Bali is a small tropical island found just off the coast of Indonesia, the place is characterized by lush tropical forests and miles of unspoiled beaches that newlyweds would find inspiring. Couples also have a choice of luxurious villas to choose from including the Balinese traditional villas found along Kerobokan road. This villa spreads down to the expansive rice fields offering guests a quiet and tranquil atmosphere.

Malaysia! Truly Asia

This sultry South Asian country is an enticing destination for many couples; one of its best places is Langkawi archipelago on the shores of Andaman Sea. It boasts 91 luxury villas and pavilions with indigenous architectural sets amidst remodeled beachfront gardens. Malaysia samples the best of Indian, Asian and Arabic cultures.

Hawaii

Of course the list cannot be over without mentioning Hawaii. This US Island is characterized by the fresh, floral air that energizes visitors including the warm tranquil waters that can revitalize any wedding event. When planning to visit Hawaii, remember to get a visa for USA from their official embassy in your country!


February 26, 2014 8:45 am

Best bike riding destinations in the USA

Bike riding is among one of the best outdoor activities in the world, whether you’re biking as an individual or in a group of friends. It can be a thrilling experience, and picking the perfect destination makes for an unforgettable biking experience. It can ignite the passion of bike lovers.

Here is a carefully compiled list of the best biking destinations in the USA for any passionate rider wishing to experience the ultimate journey in bike riding.

Boulder, Colorado

Biking is great in Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is a haven for bikers. It has dedicated bike-ways, routes, and underpasses that will ensure you experience uninterrupted biking. I guarantee you’ll enjoy riding through this picturesque state, with its mountains, beautiful green summer landscape, and winter beauty.

Brevard, North Carolina

Biking in Brevard, North Carolina
Brevard is the best destination for the biker looking for a challenging trail, especially through the Pisgah National Forest. In the Brevard area, you can also take time to enjoy mouth-watering Southern food and a number of local breweries.

Portland, Oregon

This famous US destination has long been considered the king of cycling. The biker will enjoy both city riding and also the fantastic mountain trails. At Portland, you’ll love the coffee too.

Chicago, Illinois

On your next trip to Chicago, take a bike ride

The city of Chicago has a great biking environment and notable bicycling infrastructure. It boasts more than 200 miles of protected bike lanes and good bike parking areas. You can also visit the famous Lakefront Trail, running about 18.5 miles.

Washington, DC

Take a bike ride in Washington, DC

Biking is the best way to experience the famous monuments and memorials. You’ll enjoy great sight-seeing by visiting the C&O Canal, a 185-mile-long channel following the Potomac River. Bike rentals are readily available.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis bikers will not fall short of company. There’s a great biking culture here, and riders will enjoy the 120 miles of dedicated bikeways and bridges. Because the city is flat, it’s great for beginners.

Austin, Texas

Enjoy biking in this spectacular ranch land, home to the Austin Bike Zoo. The state of Texas is also home to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a 6-mile-long channel that runs through the capital. Outside, you can bike through the Texas Hill Country, famed for its beautiful ranches – you’ll enjoy the country life.

 

About the Author
Sophie Morgan is a passionate blogger and traveler who loves to share her experience with bike rides. Presently, she is working on behalf of UK driving test, which helps to get driving licenses in quick and easy steps to make your drive hassle free.


February 1, 2014 8:24 am

Protect Yourself: 10 Common Travel Scams

We hear about travel scams, thieves and con artists, but we usually brush the tales aside, convinced that it couldn’t possibly happen to us. Unfortunately it can happen to us, and chances are it will – but it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to be a victim, but awareness is key to protecting yourself.

To keep bad fortune at bay and enjoy your vacation, take a look at the top 10 most common travel scams and learn how to avoid them.

Avoid these common travel scams

Overpriced Taxis

The inflated taxi ride is so common when you travel abroad. Airport taxis often charge much more than the average taxi to take you to your destination. Taxis are also notorious for taking the scenic route, which costs more money. This common scam preys on your unfamiliarity with the location and the naivete of tourists.

The best way to avoid this common tourist trap is to check the rate and agree on a flat rate when you first get into the taxi and before you drive away. If you are familiar with the area and prepare directions ahead of time- even better!

Timeshares

You may have several family members who own a timeshare. Perhaps you’ve used them several times to save money on hotel costs. You also may have received unsolicited phone calls stating you’ve been selected to go on a cruise or vacation for free – the only requirement is attending a presentation.

Most legitimate timeshares – especially the free stays offered by friends and family – don’t require you to attend the sales pitch, but they will push it or make it seem as if it’s a requirement. Forget the offer of a free gift card or meal. Timeshares are notorious for their sales tactics. Ignore all unsolicited offers. While some are legitimate sales schemes, others may result in kidnapping or ransom.

Pickpockets

The tale of the pickpocket may seem like an urban legend, but the threat is real. Think of the pickpocket as a well-trained magician. The thief, like a magician, is a professional and the trick or scam is well orchestrated.

To avoid this scam, create obstacles between yourself and the pickpocket. Put your purse in your lap while sitting to eat, or avoid carrying a traditional wallet or purse altogether.  Invest in one of the many travel passport and money carriers that slip around your neck and hides away under your clothes.

Police

When a policeman tells us to do something, we usually listen and comply. Criminals know this and use this to their advantage. Imagine a local policeman stops you, finds a troubling but small problem and expresses concern. He offers to handle it for you if only you pay him a sum of money and you’re on your way. The cop may even ask for your wallet for inspection.

If this happens to you, insist that you accompany him to the station to clear everything up. If it’s a scam, any fine will suddenly be forgotten. Above all, don’t hand over your wallet. Instead, ask specifically what documentation he needs.

Closed Shop or Attraction

You want to go to a restaurant, attraction or shop, but are told it’s closed. Sometimes the messenger is your taxi driver, the staff at your hotel, or a helpful local. They tell you that particular establishment you’re interested in has gone out of business. But fortunately, the helpful local has another option for you – typically to a place they own or owned by someone they know.

Rental Car Damage

Many of us rent cars on vacation, whether it be for a quick excursion or for the duration of our trip. You’re offered insurance on-site, but you decline. You drive off after a quick inspection and return the car thinking all is well. The rental car agent notices damage and you’re left with the cost of repairs. The damage is usually located somewhere that you wouldn’t give a second glance before taking the car.

Pay close attention when renting your car. Look everywhere and note everything- inside and out. Also, consider talking to your insurance agent (or credit card company if you’re opting for insurance through them) before you rent a car to find out about your specific coverage rights.

Bar Scam

You’re on vacation when a local strikes up a conversation and suggests you go to a local bar. You follow along and all is well. The bar and its patrons look like any other. When it’s time to pay up and leave, you’re presented with a large bill. Not only were the drinks overpriced, but you’ve unwittingly bought drinks for everyone. If you refuse to pay, you’re threatened with the cops (who may be in on the scam), and so you pay up and leave.

Don’t go to unfamiliar places with strangers. If you do, confirm every drink price and do not start an open tab. If possible, order drinks directly from the bar and pay for each drink at the point of sale, with cash.

Order In

It’s been a long day of sightseeing, you’re hungry and you’ve decided to order in. After browsing the collection of flyers and menus left in your hotel room, you make a selection, call to place your order and pay over the phone. Time goes by and your food never arrives. The scammers have your money and you’re left hungry.

Don’t trust flyers left in your hotel room or slipped under your door. If you must order in, choose room service. Room service may be a little pricey, but you won’t go hungry.

It’s been a long day of sightseeing, you’re hungry and you’ve decided to order in. After browsing the collection of flyers and menus left in your hotel room, you make a selection, call to place your order and pay over the phone. Time goes by and your food never arrives. The scammers have your money and you’re left hungry.

Slow Count

The slow count scam is a simple one. It happens when a bank or shop worker counts your change back slowly, with longer than normal pauses or mess-ups in the count, hoping you will be naïve or impatient enough to stop the count and take your money as is, without double-checking the amount.

If this happens, don’t rush and be vigilant. Know the currency and count along. Offer to help if you want, but don’t assume the change is correct and that the problem is with the person counting it back to you.

Accidental Spill

You bump into someone or someone bumps into you, and a drink is spilled. As you help clean up or offer an apology, you let your guard down and an accomplice snatches your purse or luggage.  This scam is closely related to the pickpocket scam, except there is not one single performer. This scam usually involves at least two scammers – one to distract, and one to take your things.

When traveling or otherwise, be aware of your surroundings. Keep your possessions close by and on you (if possible) at all times.  Avoid using a purse or wallet and use a document carrier specifically designed for travel.

While many of these scams can be easily avoided, our pride sometimes gets in the way. We may think that it couldn’t happen to us because we’re too clever to fall for it. Know what to expect be prepared and outwit would be scammers. Knowledge is power.

Have you been scammed? Tell us your story!

Sara Herrara works for a consumer protection agency. Her job is to unearth scammers and fraudsters to help keep people safe.  When she isn’t conducting research, Sara is sharing her tips online.  For example, she recently wrote this blog post about how to get your money back from online scams. 


January 18, 2014 9:00 am

Best Hotels in Hua Hin and Things to Do

Mentioning Thailand in any crowd or conversation and chances are most will be ready to respond with stories of their adventurous holidays on the country’s island shores, hiking in rain forests, scuba diving off colourful reefs, late nights in Bangkok and, maybe even have a tattoo to prove it. Those who cannot talk along will immediately confirm their intent to go there very soon. Thailand certainly is a fascinating place to visit with ancient cities revealing the country’s age-old history, it has many islands to explore and temples, palaces and statues dot the capital Bangkok.

Hua Hin

For most people who visit Thailand, Bangkok is usually their first stop for a few days shopping in the famous markets before they start their journey either by flying or traveling over-land by bus and then by boat to the most popular and well known locations such as Phuket, Koh Samui or Phi Phi islands.

But a mere 190 kilometers south of Bangkok, so close you can take a taxi and be there in less than 2 hours is a place which is fast becoming one of the most popular locations and best places in Thailand to spend a holiday. Yet, many of the country’s 22 000 000 annual visitors still need to discover and experience Thailand’s royal Town, Hua Hin .

Why you should visit Hua Hin

Hua Hin (pronounced Wa Heen) has been the holiday destination of choice for royalty and affluent Thais as far back as the early 20th century. Apart from enjoying its own micro climate which makes it a nice location weather-wise even during the monsoon season when hotel accommodation is cheaper and, being conveniently close to a major centre like Bangkok, the area also possess many of the attractions of other locations all rolled into one cool package by perfectly combining vibrant urban living with the charms of a small Oriental seaside village.

Hua Hin’s primary sandy white beach stretches for countless kilometers from north to east. In addition you can take a car and go discover more pristine beaches and small coves where you can spend hours in total seclusion all within a 45 minute drive from the town centre and, if your holiday plans included kicking back on an idyllic island you can have that too.

A short 40 minute drive outside Hua Hin is Prachuabkirikhan where you can hop on a boat and be on Koh Talu Island within 20 minutes. Koh Talu is surrounded by water clear as glass in which to snorkel and view colourful coral and its beaches are the purest white. Also very close by are places like Dolphin Beach which is largely free of mass tourism which has seen the area retain is natural beauty and tropical charms. There are a few resorts here if you want to stay just outside Hua Hin to enjoy some seclusion. You can even walk from the beach and follow a hiking trail in the national Park called Sam Roi Yot or go explore small islands by kayak a stone’s throw from the beach.

In down-town Hua Hin narrow winding streets along the shorefront offers a quaint nightlife where you will find great restaurants, beer bars and vendors vying for your business. The town has an assortment of markets, at one of which you can have your lobster and other seafood grilled on a BBQ while you watch before setting off to test your negotiating skills at the many stalls selling all kinds of items from clothes to handcraft.

This is also undisputedly one of the best family friendly places to visit in Thailand where the attractions and exciting things to do will see to the thrills and spills of any adventure seeker. On the beach, right in front of some of the best beach hotels in Hua Hin children can enjoy pony rides or banana boat rides in the shallow water and with conditions being absolutely perfect there are also several kite surfing schools, not to mention some world class golf courses.

The Best Hotels in Hua Hin

You will find the assortment of 5 star hotels in Hua Hin rival the very best anywhere in Thailand and in fact in the world. Most of these are located directly on the beach and so central you can walk almost anywhere you want to be while some are on quieter beaches where you can enjoy lots of personal space and tranquility.

The luxury Centara Grand Beach Resort is listed as one of the leading hotels of the world. It is located directly on the main beach and surrounded by all the town has to offer.  It is also one of the best family friendly hotels in Hua Hin which has a kids club to amuse children and its facilities include beachfront pools, tennis courts, a pampering spa and even putting greens to name only a few.

Right next door is Centara’s neighbor, the 5 star Hilton Hotel which, due to it towering 20 floors high, offers amazing views of the Gulf of Siam. Elegant rooms are simply enormous and the hotel’s facilities world class.

Putahracsa Beach Resort is just outside the town’s bustle on a tranquil part of the beach and one of the best pool villas resorts in Hua Hin where you can have your own private pool right on the beach.

A little further north from Putahracsa and 5 minutes’ drive outside the town centre is The Sheraton Beach Resort and Spa located in quieter surroundings on a long flat beach. It has what must be one of the biggest, if not the biggest seaside pool in Thailand meandering through the resort premises. Like Centara Grand Beach Resort, this is also one of the best places to stay in Hua Hin for families since it offers a kids club with an entertainment program for children, a kid’s pool and often have special deals for families with children enjoying free lunch or dinner.

Approximately 7 kilometers to the south where Hua Hin Beach merges with Takiab Beach the setting of the Hyatt Regency Beach Resort is incredibly exotic with its manicured tropical gardens dotted with palm trees, pools and water features which spill onto the white sand. A little further down the restful Takiab Beach is Amari Beach Resort. The resort is particularly popular for families with children since it offers a two bedroom suite.

Things to see and do

Apart from the famous beaches the entire area has a wealth of recreational opportunities and things to see to keep your days occupied. The Black Mountain Water Park is a great outing for families featuring pools, water slides, artificial beach and even cable wake boarding.

Hua Hin

A leisurely drive along the coast brings you to Sam Roi Yot national park where you can explore caves, kayak and hike in the forest. Also make sure you visit Pala-U waterfall. Getting there is part of the fun since the winding road through Hua Hin’s signature hills is very scenic nd you can stop at some really cool little restaurants along the way.

If you like a little history, visit Klai Kangwon Palace which was the residence of King Rama VI and “Plearnwan” which is sort of a museum depicting the town as it was more than 100 years ago.

The artist village is also worth a visit where you can try your hand at painting and pottery, support the local talent or just sit down for a beer and listen to some live tunes. There is also an elephant village and Hua Hin Hills is a quality wine producing estate where you can go pick your own grapes on elephant back before trying out their restaurant. And if you thought it was only Bangkok which can boat famous floating markets, think again. Hua Hin has two located right next to each other.

Author

This article has been contributed by George Conradie who has been calling Hua Hin his home for the past 4 years. He works as a hotel accommodation booking consultant for hotels across Thailand and enjoys sharing information about the country with anyone who plans to visit.


January 11, 2014 8:22 am

Travelling with Meds: What to Know

For many people, access to their prescription medications is not a matter of mere convenience – it is an issue of vital importance. You might feel that medical reliance on a drug will complicate prospective travel plans, or that certain travel destinations can cause unwanted complications to arise. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Prescription drugs do not have to interfere with your travel plans. By following these simple steps for travelling with meds, you can be free to travel wherever and whenever you like without the fear of finding yourself thousands of miles from home without a much-needed medication.

Talk With Your Doctor

Before leaving, consult with your doctor about any precautions you may need to take regarding the environmental factors of your destination. If, for example, you are headed for a warm, sunny climate and your medication might cause photosensitivity, your doctor could recommend a high-SPF sunblock. Or, if your medication may cause dizziness and you’re headed to the mountains, your doctor could have some additional instructions to help you keep your feet on the ground.

Bring Extra Medication

It is also a good idea to talk with your doctor about increasing your prescription temporarily. As the old saying goes, “expect the unexpected”. Even if you may have enough of your medication to last through the days you plan to be away, it is possible that unforeseen circumstances might arise. When they do, it would be good to have extra doses of vital medications on-hand.

Flights can be delayed and storms may roll in suddenly. The last thing you want when your trip takes an unplanned extension is to run out of medication.

It would also be wise to ask your doctor for copies of your prescriptions – this way if your luggage disappears for whatever reason you can simply replace any medications which are lost.

Keep Your Medications On Hand

If you are flying, be sure to keep all of your prescription drugs in the original containers and pack them in your carry-on as opposed to your checked luggage.

The TSA does not forbid passengers from bringing liquid, gel or aerosol medications on board planes. If a liquid medication happens to pass the 3-ounce limit or for whatever reason does not fit into a one-quart zip-top bag, you will need to have these items specially inspected by a security officer, though you can still bring them on board once they have passed inspection.

Check the Customs Rules of Your Destination

If you will be traveling to another country, investigate their customs regulations before booking your trip. Some nations might have limitations on certain types or quantities of medications which can be brought into the country.

For example, some countries restrict self-administered injections.  Even something seemingly simple like vitamin B12 injections to treat pernicious anemia might mean a trip to a local doctor’s office.  Even if you secure a prescription for B12 injections in your homeland, you might not be able to use them while overseas.

This information can be most easily found by contacting the embassy of your destination country and verifying that your medications are legal under that country’s laws.

In addition, the U.S. State Department recommends that overseas travelers bring along a doctor’s note which explains the medical conditions which necessitate your medications. This letter should also include a list of your prescribed medications and the generic versions of those drugs.

If you follow these simple steps, traveling with medications is simple. A vacation is an opportunity for you to relax and have fun, and medical necessities don’t have to hamper your good time.

 

Lindsey is a seasoned traveler who enjoys sharing tips from her personal experiences.  She experienced some medication drama on her last trip overseas!


December 23, 2013 10:00 am

Road Tripping in the UK – Driving Tips

The majority of tourists, foreign visitors and business people visiting the UK can find it a little confusing, even awkward to drive on the left-hand side of the road and follow some of the local road rules and driving customs. If you want to make your UK tourist trip or business visit safer and more enjoyable behind the wheel, here are some quintessential, easy to remember driving tips which should keep you and other drivers and pedestrians around you safe.

Driving Tips

Beware automatic car transmission fans:

First of all, consider your own driving skills – keep in mind that nearly ten out of ten cars in the UK are manuals (stick shifts) not automatics like in North America and Australia. So if you aren’t too good with the clutch, perhaps you should consider public transport as the better and safer alternative. The UK is well known for its super efficient, timely and comfortable public transport. If nevertheless, you decide to brave it out with the locals on the UK’s national roads, remember these pieces of advice, as they can make all the difference.

And now, the nitty-gritty:

– People drive on the left-hand side of the road in the UK. This means that when you go to cross the street you should turn to the right first and overcome your strong intuition to check for approaching cars on your right. If you see a car coming from the left, call it in – chances are it is another confused foreign driver.

– The second most important thing you need to remember as a foreigner driving in the UK is to always, and that means in every single instance, to drive on the left-hand side of the road. In the UK, left turn is the easier one, and right turn is the more complex manoeuvre – opposite to right-hand drive countries.

– Overtaking in the UK, or passing cars, as you may know it back home is done on the right side of slower vehicles, not like the US and the rest of the EU where one overtakes a slower vehicle on the left.

– If you will be driving a later model vehicle, check if you can adjust your headlights – right-hand drive cars and left-hand drive cars have different headlight alignment, so be considerate – don’t blind oncoming traffic.

– Remember to always watch out and give way to vehicles coming from your right. This shouldn’t be much of a problem as giving way to right standing vehicles is the basis of driving in most countries around the world.

– The UK happens to be one of the safest countries to drive in the EU so try and keep it that way – don’t speed as you have no excuse for doing so – speeds and limits are in miles per hour, just like in the US. Also, don’t drive under the influence, be a viligent driver and don’t get distracted while driving.

– Pedestrians in the UK like jaywalking, they are used to it, however you shouldn’t get used to it, either when walking or driving. Remember – letting a jaywalker pass in front of you can end up being a disaster as other vehicles may hit the person, even if you don’t. So take appropriate measures.

– UK and EU road rules don’t allow for beeping horns for no apparent reason – keep your horn signals for when avoiding immediate and inevitable danger.

– Be a polite and courteous driver, not because you are a newcomer, but because all people make mistakes, and not everyone has the same driving skills and experience. Tolerance goes both ways in this case, se keep it cool and don’t get agro – it’s not worth the wrinkles.

– Avoid driving in heavy traffic conditions during the first couple of days of your stay in the UK, get some practice in a quiet suburban area first if possible, and then hit the road.

Enjoy your road trip

Even if it goes without saying, try to make the most of your trip. Start your journey early in order to avoid the heavy traffic. Take some indispensable supplies like water and tasty treats, set your radio so that you can receive regular updates on the current road situation and thus easily avoid any jams or road accidents. And finally pick up the best road trip route the UK can offer you: whether you go for the Penrith to Haydon journey that would offer you some pretty fascinating views over old villages and remote bridges, or you choose a more relaxed trip over the Norfolk coast, make sure to take photos and enjoy your vacation to the fullest. And don’t forget to stay on the left side of the road!

David Drasnin is a freelance writer, who is constantly on the lookout for new challenges and adventures. Currently he is working for http://www.hornlaw.com and is researching in details the car accident subject, looking into the current trends, regulations and preventive measures. 


November 28, 2013 12:00 am

Adventures in Southeast Asia

From bungee jumping into water to snorkeling among coral reefs, Southeast Asia has plenty to offer in the way of adventure.

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Visiting the Islands of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long is an incredible bay in northern Vietnam. The area is considered a natural wonder of the world and is made up of 1,969 individual islands. While some of the islands are inhabited by people others are free of human life. Tours between the various land masses of the archipelago are available in the area, allowing visitors to see this unique collection of islands on a boat cruise. Also available are cave visits and kayaking.

Adventures_ChiangMaiJungle

Bungee Jumping in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The city of Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand, owes its historical significance to its location close to several major trade routes along the Ping river. Today, however, tourism is the region’s main business, with almost 2 million foreign holidaymakers a year visiting the area. One of the main attractions in Chiang Mai is the 50 metre high bungee jump. Surrounded by jungle, the vantage point from the jump offers visitors a very pleasant view, before they hurtle towards the ground from the purpose built platform. If the bungee jump alone is not exciting enough, a specially extended rope allows jumpers to plunge into the pond below.

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Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

One of the most popular activities in the tourist hot spot of Vang Vieng, Laos, is tubing. Rumours, however, abound that the activity is no longer available in the area. These reports surfaced after a government crackdown following safety concerns, which resulted in the removal of the many of the more dangerous courses, but the activity remains prevalent, although drinking alcohol while participating is no longer permitted. Tubing generally involves careening around the Nam Song river in a tractor tire inner tube. For those not too keen on taking on the rapids, diving and swings are also available.

Scooter Hire (across the region)

Such is the devil may care attitude across Southeast Asia, even everyday activities can turn into an adventure. This is true with scooter hire. Hotels and travel agencies often have the vehicles available for rent and charge around $5 for 24 hours riding, with a little extra for optional insurance. A passport is normally request as a deposit, so it is important to make sure the venue is reputable. Once the red tape is out of the way, customers are free to enjoy their scooters out on the open road, as well as those less open routes in the inner cities.

Snorkelling in Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, on the west coast of southern Thailand, is home to picturesque beaches with areas of coral reef, underwater cave formations and marine life including leopard sharks, turtles and dolphins. There are plenty of companies in the area that offer the chance to swim amongst these natural features, with snorkeling and scuba diving available. For those completely unfamiliar with either activity, there are diving schools located near to the coast.

Andreas Ambarchian is a freelance journalist from England. He writes about a variety of subjects including travel, wildlife and sport. He wrote this article on behalf of Tucan Travel, specialists in adventure tours all over Southeast Asia.


November 23, 2013 9:00 am

6 Best Places to Travel at Christmas

Sometimes it’s nice to escape the chaos of the holiday season. If that sentence just made you release a much-needed SIGH, then you might want to consider getting away from it all this December. But remember, just because you’re getting away does not mean you have to lose the Christmas spirit. In fact, you might find it in some of the cities we’ve chosen below! Read on for our picks of the best places to travel at Christmas.

1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Visit Amsterdam at Christmastime

The Netherlands is where our modern story of Santa Claus (or Sinterklaas) began, and its capital festively keeps the legend alive at this time of year. The city is sparkling with white lights, which reflect off its icy canals. If it gets cold enough you can lace up yourself and join in the skating party.

2. Lapland, Finland

Visit the reindeer in Lapland, Finland

When they wrote the song “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” they may have been talking about Lapland. It is the unofficial home of Santa Claus, after all. Enjoy the snow-covered landscapes from a cozy reindeer-pulled sleigh, or take the scenic route with some cross-country skis. Visit Santa Claus Village or Santa Park (known as the Christmas capital of Europe!) for some Christmas-themed charm.

3. Munich, Germany

Visit Munich at Christmastime

You should probably just tour all of Germany during December, if you can. Its cities are some of the most festive in the world. In Munich, the city square of Marienplatz is bustling with two dozen Christmas markets, all surrounding a 100-foot Christmas tree. Every evening, the town hall features live holiday music. Ride a tram through the old city to enjoy some hot mulled wine and gingerbread.

4. Prague, Czech Republic

Visit Prague at Christmastime

If you’ve ever considered visiting Prague, Christmas is the time to go. The city almost turns back in time, especially in Wenceslas Square. Listen to choirs singing carols by candlelight, enjoy giant hams spit-roasting on the street and traditional Czech pastries, and browse hand-made ornaments and crafts in old wooden huts. You’ll even come upon a live nativity scene, complete with sheep, goats, and donkeys.

5. Zurich, Switzerland

Visit Zurich, Switzerland at Christmastime

Twelve thousand crystal lights, hot (Swiss!) chocolate, and a Christmas circus all make Zurich one of the best holiday cities in the world. Each year on December 19, children set candles afloat on the Limmat River. While you’re there, you can enjoy some world-class skiing and take in the breathtaking alpine landscapes.

6. New York City, New York

Visit New York at Christmastime

Christmas in New York – there’s not quite anything like it. Take in the world-famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center (30,000 lights!), take a carriage ride through Central Park, or go ice skating. This trip can be both romantic and exciting. If you’re looking for a spectacle, head to Radio City Music Hall for its Christmas Spectacular.

What are your holiday travel plans? Let us know in a comment!


Halloween is nearly upon us, and that’s got us planning some spooky travels. The world is full of urban legends, ghost stories and dark corners that can make any trip just a little more exciting. Below, we put together a list of some of the world’s spookiest travel destinations. Take a look, but don’t visit after dark!

1. Salem, Massachusetts

Picturesque Salem is renowned for its history of witches

You can’t say Salem without thinking about witches! The name Salem is referenced a lot in pop culture, but it’s actually the real-life place where 26 people were put to death for being witches. Despite this sad history, the town has embraced its spookiness, especially during Halloween. If you visit during October you can experience things like haunted tours, trial re-enactments, witches’ circles, fireworks, and a parade.

2. Highgate Cemetery, London, England

Highgate Cemetery is a beautifully creepy place

Any visit to London is not complete without a stop at the infamous Highgate Cemetery. It’s an interesting stop for history buffs, as the home to such influential people as Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and more. The overgrown grounds of this Victorian Gothic Style park give it a creepy atmosphere, but also let you explore for hours (in the daytime, of course!). Rumors are after dark, some seriously spooky apparitions begin to appear. The most famous of these is the Highgate Vampire, a seven-foot tall man wearing a long black coat and top hat who vanishes into thin air…

3. Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle was the inspiration for Dracula

A lot of old castles are spooky, but this old Romanian castle is also known as Dracula’s Castle. That’s because it’s said to have been the home of Vlad the Impaler, the supposed inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

As a historical figure, Vlad the Impaler was pretty brutal (as his name suggests). It’s possible that a whole host of atrocities took place in this castle, including cruel torture and impalement of tens of thousands of his enemies. The castle is open to the public year-round, but Halloween is the time to go, because you can take a special Halloween tour.

4. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

Colorado's Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for a very scary story

It’s a beautiful hotel, located in a breathtaking Rocky Mountain landscape. It was also the inspiration for the seriously scary Stephen King novel The Shining. As if that weren’t spooky enough, it’s rumored to be haunted by at least three people, including the founder of the hotel, who is said to hang out in the billiard room with his wife in formal dress. Rather than shy away from this bad publicity, however, the hotel has embraced it. They offer ghost tours to guests.

5. Paris, France

Paris has some spooky spots

There are some seriously spooky spots in the City of Light that are definitely worth a visit. Pere Lachaise Cemetery is an obvious one, with its miles of tombstones and famous residents. Even darker, however, are the Paris Catacombs. During the 1700s, bodies were dug up from the city’s cemeteries and relocated to this maze of underground tunnels. It is now home to nearly 7 million bodies, and is open to the public for a very scary walking tour.

Have you visited any of these spooky spots?


October 7, 2013 11:16 am

Job Description of a Travel Consultant

Do you love travel? As a travel consultant, you can help your clients plan dream vacations by using your resources to make the best travel arrangements possible. You might even want to specialize in a type of travel, if you have a particular destination that’s close to your heart. In this post, we’ll review the job description of a travel consultant so you know what to expect as you enter the industry. If you’re interested in learning more, check out QC Travel School’s Travel and Tourism + GDS course.

Travel consultant - what's involved?

Skills Required

Travel consultation relies heavily on customer service. Because of this, you should be a people-person with strong communication skills. You should also be comfortable with sales. You’ll also need to be highly organized, as you’ll be managing every detail of your clients’ travel plans. The travel industry can move quickly, and you’ll need to be able to keep your cool in a fast-paced environment. Ultimately, you need to love travel and have a lot of personal experience with travel.

Daily Tasks

–          Advising clients on destinations
–          Booking flights, accommodations, car rentals, tours, and activities
–          Arranging travel insurance
–          Using a GDS booking system
–          Managing payments
–          Advising clients on particularities like customs regulations and exchange rates
–          Sending tickets and itineraries
–          Keeping customers happy

Education Requirements

There are no specific education requirements to become a travel consultant (other than a high school diploma). That being said, because clients are becoming smarter when it comes to travel– due to the ease of internet booking – many employers will prefer candidates who have vocational training from a school like QC Travel School. Many employers also require GDS (global distribution system) training.

A job as a travel consultant will require continuous education. The industry is always changing, and you’ll be expected to keep up with those changes. Many employers will sponsor their employees to take classes to keep them up-to-date.

Salary

A travel consultant’s salary depends on their experience, skill level, and place of employment. The majority of travel consultants work for reservation services (for an airline or cruise, for example), followed by travel agencies. About 15% are self-employed.

The average starting income of a travel consultant is roughly $20,000. With experience, salaries raise to an average of $45,000. Keep in mind that some travel consultants are paid on commission, which means that they earn a percentage of what they book. If you’re a savvy salesperson, the income potential can be even higher! There are also perks and incentives to the job, such as fam trips.

Are you interested in becoming a travel consultant? You can learn from home with QC Travel School’s Travel and Tourism Courses.