Preventing Travel Mishaps

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As long as there have been travelers, there have been many ways travels could go wrong. Just because they could doesn’t mean they should. Here are tips to help you travel smarter and safer for any trip.

Pickpocket-Proof Yourself

Major metropolises such as London, Paris, Mexico City, and Los Angeles are all incredible places to visit. They’re also notorious for their pickpocket problem. We all want to be trusting, but be smart about who you trust, always stay in a well-monitored area, and keep a tight grip on any purses or bags. You may also want to leave valuables or personal papers back in your hotel or Airbnb, just in case.

Be Ready Weather-Wise

Another thing about a place like London? The weather can change in 10 minutes. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s rainy, then back to sunshine once more. Changeable weather’s true of other big cities such as San Francisco as well, so always be sure to have an umbrella or change of clothes handy.

Public Transit Issues

If you want to annoy locals in London, stand on the left side of the Underground escalators, blocking passengers trying to push by. If you want to anger Parisians, Los Angelinos, and Muscovites, stand right in the middle of the already-crowded streets and make traffic even worse. Of course, if you want to actually get along in these cities, you should avoid doing all of that and learn and obey the local public transit rules and culture. You should also do some research on the most cost-efficient ways to get around. For example, cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin have fantastically inexpensive tram systems, which may be way less expensive than renting a car. They can likewise provide a way more engaging travel experience.

Canceled Flights

Nobody likes flight cancellations, but when they happen, you have to act fast. The longer you take to book a new flight, the more chaotic your travel schedule can get. At the same time, you don’t want to rush. Review your options and ask the help desk for assistance. You can also do your best to try and avoid chaotic weather conditions and the flight cancellations they can cause by traveling to areas known for bad weather during calmer seasons. India and the Gulf Coast are lovely, but it may be best not to travel to either during monsoon or hurricane season if possible if you want to avoid travel chaos.

These simple but effective tips can make your travel plans a lot more disaster-proof.

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Affordable Winter Travel

Scenic Winter Scene

Plan for winter travel while rates are low.

You have a week or two off from work and school but no ideas for your next getaway? Stay tuned for a few easy and affordable travel tips to enjoy a staycation in your own back yard or close to it. Cooler winter weather is a good excuse to get outside and enjoy!

Visit Snow Country

It’s that time of year, and playing in the snow, making snow people, and snowshoeing is not only good for your health but fun. If you live close to snowy areas, take advantage of the extra activities offered. Be sure to plan your road trip, have a full tank of gas and plenty of snacks before leaving. Consider bringing chains for your vehicle if the weather looks unpredictable so you are not caught off guard due to extreme snowfall. Dress in layers, for comfort and warmth. Be sure to bring a change of clothes too. Bring gloves, hats, and waterproof boots to keep your body warm, yet dry while enjoying activities outside. Keep an eye on the kids. Children have a tougher time keeping their body temperature regulated in the cold.

Holiday Festivals

Visit local holiday events that only take place once a year in your community! Holiday light displays, school carnivals, and extended public hours at Zoos, Museums, and Botanical Gardens are the best time to visit. When your family is together making it, a special outing is important. If you have an opportunity to have your out-of-town guests along for the ride, plan outings around their travel schedules. Check Groupon or the internet for other money saving coupons or offers to help cut admission costs.

Plan Your Dream Vacation

Finally, take some time and enjoy your family and map out your next dream vacation. It costs nothing to dream and having a group goal helps motivate the entire family to accomplish it. Delegate someone to research resorts, hotels, or rentals in the vacation area. Checking for economical rates in suburbs, such as Kissimmee, instead of staying in Orlando, Florida when visiting Disney World for example. Check airfares often and on different days since flight prices change frequently depending upon availability and the day of the week you’re researching. Staying home and planning your next trip is almost as fun as taking a vacation. So, kick back and enjoy your time this winter break.

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Traveling With Your Pet

Traveling with your pet, especially during the holidays, might be essential for your family. Read on for tips to make your pet’s next trip safe and comfortable for both of you.

Research the Rules

If you are lucky enough to be traveling by car or RV, taking your pet along for the ride is easy. Secure the animal in the safety of their kennel and check if pets are allowed out during stops. For example, National Parks allow some pets. However, it depends on the specific park you’re visiting and keeping to the designated area of the park’s boundaries. If not allowed, your dog or cat must stay inside your vehicle during sightseeing while in the park. This keeps your pet safe from wild predators, and you can enjoy the natural beauty of the park. Check for pet friendly motels along the way. Your family will enjoy a nice room, without worrying about interference from next door neighbors.

Have Vaccines Updates

I am not talking about Covid, but rather your pet’s regular vaccines. All rabies, Bordetella and other pet-specific vaccines must be updated and certified. Many veterinarians will provide a travel or bordering certificate for your pet to travel safely. Up to date vaccines keep your animal and other travelers safe from viruses and other diseases circulating during your travel time. As of this publication, domesticated pets are not required to have a Covid-19 vaccine to travel. Check your country’s public health policies, as requirements are changing constantly.

Make Pets Comfortable

Finally, try and keep your pet on the same routine they had at home while traveling. While this is not always easy, stick to the same schedule for feeding, potty breaks and sleeping. Traveling is hard on anyone, especially on an animal that doesn’t understand why their bed and surroundings are different. Make your pet as comfortable as possible within reason.  Keep their food the same and bedtime rituals as normal as possible. Pets, like people, might have upset stomachs or trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, so be patient. Time will help your pet adjust to the traveling routine.

If all else fails, think about boarding your pet or asking a trusted friend to watch them.  You want to enjoy your trip as much as fido, so think about keeping them home for peace of mind

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Four Family Friendly Trips

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Planning a family vacation can be difficult, especially if you have young children. You want to expose them to the richness and wonders of the world, but you also don’t want to have to deal with antsy, bored children.

Never fear – these cultural vacations can keep children and parents alike engaged.

The Natural History Museum in London

If you have a child who loves natural science, this is one of the best places in the world to take them. It is home to millions of specimens from all over the world, original editions of Darwin, a ton of dinosaur skeletons, and a massive blue whale skeleton that’s suspended from the roof over the entrance.

What’s more, the area is home to a popup skating rink and local food vendors in winter. It’s close to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is one of the best resources of applied and decorative arts. Both the V&A and Natural History Museum have staff who help to develop exhibits and activities for kids. Check with them out year-round to see what’s going on.

Mask Making in Venice, Truffle Hunting in Tuscany

Get two northern Italian family getaway ideas for the price of one. Start in glorious Venice with a Ca’Macana Carnival-inspired mask-making workshop that’s perfect for kids who love arts and crafts. After a few days among Venice’s lovely canals and legendary artistic art scene, explore the Tuscan countryside’s natural beauty and culinary wonders, including Podere il Casale in Pienza, which hosts truffle hunts and cooking classes for kids.

Niagara Falls on the Canadian Border

A natural wonder, Niagara Falls is a unique destination which can be accessed from the United States or Canada. Near Buffalo, New York, and a short drive to the falls, don’t forget to pack your rain slicker. Kid friendly tours are held daily to view the falls from the water and it’s breathtaking!  The constant roar of the water and long history of the falls are something the kids will never forget. Dress in layers, since even in summertime the weather is cool and wet.

The Getty Center in Los Angeles

Finally, a fixture in the Southern California cultural scene, The Getty is home to art and artifacts from all over the world. Its collection of European and American art, lush outdoor gardens, and postmodern architecture are especially notable. However, what makes this a great trip for kids is that it’s also just 20 minutes away from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Between the two, you’re bound to find a cultural adventure that’s fun for the whole family.

Embark on the family adventure of a lifetime with any one of these great travel opportunities for parents and kids. 

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Packing Tips for Traveling

Need packing tips for your next trip?  Is your next trip a long weekend getaway or seven days to a dream destination? Then, you will need to bring enough clothes and necessities to help make your travel comfortable and affordable. Here are some tried and true suggestions on packing just enough for your next travel adventure.

Carryon Luggage

Having a carryon bag is essential for getting everything into one bag. A solid carryon bag also saves on luggage fees imposed by some of the airlines. A carryon with wheels helps navigating the airport quickly but check the size to be sure the bag fits in the overhead compartment. This is my first rule, if you can bring one carryon bag for free, then that is all you pack!  Having your bag with you eliminates the worry of not having anything show up on the luggage carousel. It also makes for a quicker airport departure to your ground transportation and your travel fun. Buy a sturdy bag within your budget and double check it will comply with measurements for the FAA, you’ll thank yourself.

Wear Clothes More Often

Plan out your outfits, even for children, and coordinate tops and bottoms so you can wear clothing more than once.  Denim shorts, jeans, warm sweaters can all be recycled into another outfit and save room in your bag. Take travel sized shampoo and lotion. You can also check with your hotel for complimentary bottles of smaller products which also save you money and space. Check the weather so you have the appropriate clothes to keep you warm. Check out your travel destination for drugstores that can handle last minute needs such as an umbrella or rain slicker.  Legwork and planning will make your trip much more enjoyable, and you feel prepared.

Roll, Roll, Roll your Stuff

You’ve got the bag, the outfits, and toiletries you need and now you need to it fit into one bag.  You accomplish this by rolling your clothes to minimize wrinkles and space. If you have formal items, using dry cleaner bags to roll your pants, dresses and jackets will further minimize creases while traveling. Shoes and heavier items on the bottom, stuffing rolled underwear, socks and gloves into shoe openings helps conserves space. Finally, pack your bag a few days ahead to help remind yourself of everything needed for the trip. Safe travels!

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Choosing Your Travel Getaway

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Plan your next travel getaway, using a compass, map or your creativity.

Do you want to travel somewhere but just aren’t quite sure where? Answering these basic questions can give you the framework you need to choose your next great travel getaway.

What Is Your Budget?

Maybe you thrill to the glamor of your favorite stars’ globe-trotting life, but let’s be honest – you probably don’t have the same kind of budget they do. Figure out your travel budget ahead of time so you don’t overpay or suffer heartbreak as you have to cancel part of your trip because it’s too expensive. Of course, there are plenty of ways to cut costs. Booking flights well ahead of time or using resources such as Google or Sky Scanner can help you find better prices on flights. CouchSurfer and Airbnb can be more affordable than a hotel. Plan ahead and get creative for a great travel getaway.

What Type of Travel Experience?

Are you a natural beach bum ready to relax on the sandy shores of Spain or Southern California? Are you a culture vulture who can’t wait to hang around the Louvre or Uffizi or take in a West End or Broadway play? Maybe you love the wonders of nature and would like to explore the unparalleled natural wonder of the Amazon Rainforest, the Australian Outback, or African Serengeti? Determining what type of travel experience appeals to you can help narrow down the list of countries and regions you should see next. Some destinations are also bound to be less expensive than others, even within the same country, so this can impact your budget as well. A hotel in the Belgravia, Champs-Elysees, or Fifth Avenue areas of London, Paris, or New York are all bound to cost a fortune, but there are plenty of places on the edges of these cities that are way more affordable.

Browse for Ideas

There are tons of resources online for those looking for ideas for their next big trip. Instagram and Pinterest are overflowing with images designed to offer #inspiration for those with #wanderlust. These accounts are sometimes connected to YouTube channels or travel blogs devoted to this. At the other end of the spectrum are more formal travel websites designed to give travel ideas and answers to things such as airport protocol and visa issues.

Consider these factors and book a fantastic vacation that suits your needs perfectly.

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Autumn Trips to Local Farms

 

Part of autumn is enjoying the cooler weather, changing leaves, and the new season for fresh produce.  Nothing says autumn like a weekend getaway to a local orchard to pick your own fruit or select that pumpkin for Halloween. Here are a few suggestions for city dwellers to enjoy the natural wonders of fall while learning about local farming.

Local Orchards  

Check out local farm to table gardens and fruit orchards. Learn about free tours or fall festivals hosted by local farms over the weekends in November. Many local growers depend on city folks to increase exposure to not only how food is grown and delivered to the grocery store but also the work involved with running a successful farming operation. The land and resources might be scarce but urban farms thrive in many areas. Here’s one example in Wilcox, Arizona of an apple orchard and sustainable farm that has onsite apple picking for families. Be sure to plan your day on a weekend to take advantage of lunch on the farm and the pumpkin patch nearby.

Pumpkin Patches

If you still need to pick out your pumpkin for Halloween, check out local farms for pick-your-pumpkin weekends or special harvesting events. An Arizona farm in Dewey, Arizona which is an hour drive from Phoenix is open year-round and hosts special autumn activities. Kids would love the Corn Maze, hayrides, and pumpkin picking which lasts through October. Enjoy a leisurely Saturday enjoying the cool weather and homemade food in the County Store. Pick out that perfect pumpkin for your next Jack-O-Lantern and capture the memories. Check out the hours of operation to plan your perfect day.

Don’t limit yourself to the autumn season to visit local farms. Many parts of the country enjoy a mild winter and growing seasonal fruits and vegetables happen year-round. This gives you and your family a few ideas to check out on your next free Saturday or Sunday while providing a real-life farm experience on how our food supply operates. You also learn what it takes to bring your family fresh produce to your dinner table every night.  Enjoy your local farmers and be sure to check back every few weeks for other travel ideas for your family. Safe travels!

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Meeting Locals While Traveling

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Traveling to another country can be intimidating, especially when it comes to interacting with the locals. If you aren’t an expert on local customs or don’t speak the language, you might be worried about embarrassing yourself in front of the locals or even potentially angering them. Thankfully, there are plenty of great ways to meet locals while traveling in a way that can help you really dig into the native culture.

Don’t Impose Yourself

Above all, you want to avoid imposing yourself upon the locals. When many people can be friendly, nobody wants to drop everything and spend their whole day humoring a tourist. Try to read up on local customs before you come, and as the saying goes, when in Rome do like the Romans do. Don’t stand in the middle of the street taking selfies, don’t stand in the middle of the escalator on the underground – don’t stand out as an entitled tourist.

Reddit Groups

There are actually a bunch of groups online that are dedicated to helping tourists connect with locals. Check Reddit for such groups for the country you’re visiting and see if you can connect with people in advance. You might even make a friend or two along the way.

Go to Restaurants

Eating is about as universal to the human experience as it gets, which means restaurants are a great place to take in some local cuisine and culture. Observe others while they order, and try to emulate them and blend in.

Travel Apps

There are a wealth of different apps that can help would-be travelers blend into the country they are visiting more easily.

Airbnb and CouchSurfing allow you to stay at a local’s home rather than a hotel, giving you a more authentic and intimate living experience while you’re in the country. EatWith lets you do something similar, but for eating in with locals eager to share their home recipes with others. Companies such as ToursbyLocals allows you to schedule tours with locals.

There are a wealth of options for those looking to blend in with locals while traveling.

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The Benefits of Traveling Around the World

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Home may be where the heart is, but it certainly isn’t where it resides when you have a serious case of wanderlust. Few dreams are more pervasive around the globe than traveling the world; the benefits of doing so are just as widespread.

Discover Yourself

Traveling is about finding new places, but it’s also about finding yourself. Being able to handle the rigors of travel can be a great way to boost your confidence. Students often travel for gap years to get some life experience and cultural seasoning before they head to university.

Introduce Variety

Doing the same thing every day is incredibly boring. Even if you’re someone who prefers the security of a solid routine, shaking things up can be important for your focus and mental health. When you do the same thing day in and day out, it can cause things to blur together in your mind, causing you to lose your focus and ability to think creatively. Travel can help you rekindle that spark of creativity by reintroducing you to the concept of variety.

Learn About New Cultures

While the Internet has brought us closer together than ever before, that hasn’t always come with empathy and understanding, to put it mildly. We live in a world where a lot of things are said about a lot of people from cultures not our own. Travel can be an antidote to xenophobia by enabling you to see how other cultures are different from your own – how they’re just like you.

Learn Languages

Parles français? Sprechen sie Deutsch? Hablas español?

If you don’t, then traveling can be a great way to become exposed to new languages for the first time.

If you do speak a language or are trying to improve your skills, then traveling to a country where that’s the native language can be a great way to immerse yourself in the language and culture.

Travel has long been a way of reinvigorating oneself by allowing you to discover the world and rediscover yourself, and that remains true today. 

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Seven Beautiful Libraries You’ll Want to Visit Across the World

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If you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly a literary addict.

If you are, you’ll want to treat yourself to these incredible libraries across the world.

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

This New York Public Library branch is located on Fifth Avenue and is one of the most elegant libraries in the United States with its marble façade and famed lion statues at the entrance. It is home to more than 2.5 million volumes and is a major part of New York’s literary scene.

Central Library of Vancouver

Designed to mimic the Roman Coliseum, this nine-story library is home to 9.5 million books, e-books, newspapers, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and more. You’ll also find a huge array of cafés, shops, and a rooftop garden that makes for a glorious outdoor reading space.

Bodleian Library

One of the most famous libraries in the world, Oxford’s library has centuries’ worth of antique charm to its credit, having been in use since the 1300s. The site is home to 12 million different volumes and contains such literary rarities as a First Folio of Shakespeare, a Gutenberg Bible, and an original edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Bibliotheque Interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne

One of the most famous universities in the world, the Sorbonne, is now part of the University of Paris, though the original dates back to the 13th century. Home to three million volumes, it is one of the best resources in the world on French literature and is a bastion of geographic, historic, and philosophic resources. Of particular note is the Saint-Jacques Reading Room, which features deep rich wooden walls paired with minty green and an elegant cream-colored ceiling.

Trinity College Old Library

Dublin is one of the great literary cities in the world, with its streets suffused with reminders of its roster of incredible Irish authors wherever you turn. Construction on the library first began in 1712, though Trinity College itself dates back to 1311 and has seen the likes of Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett pass through its doors. The Old Library at Trinity College has a lovely dark wooden aesthetic and more than seven million volumes available, including ancient texts such as the Book of Kells, Book of Howth, and Book of Durrow.

Library of El Escorial

Located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Spain, this library has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most essential sites for studies of the Spanish Renaissance is home to a litany of literary volumes and beautiful frescoes dating back to its time as a monastery.

Rampur Raza Library

This library in Rampur, India, is one of the newer ones on our list, having originally been built as a mansion in 1904 before being converted into a library in the 1950s. However, it is also home to some of the oldest texts on this list, especially when it comes to its incredible Indian and Asian collections, which include Islamic calligraphy and an original manuscript for a first translation of the Koran.

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