Busting 10 Myths about Mediterranean Cruises

Too expensive
One of the great misconceptions about cruises is they are out of the price range of the average holidaymaker. This simply is not the case. Yes, it’s definitely not a bargain break, but consider the fact that all meals are inclusive, as well as top live entertainment, five-star living accommodation, first class kids’ clubs, luxurious pools, films, talks… The list is endless.

Mediterranean Cruise 203
Myths about Mediterranean Cruises

Not for kids
Some people suggest children are not welcome on ships and that Mediterranean cruises and little people don’t mix. Wrong! There are certain cruises which are for over-18s only, but the vast majority actively welcome younger passengers. Kids are lavishly catered for, with their own foods and dedicated entertainment.

An 8-Year Old's Paradise at Sea
Cruise for KidsScott Ableman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

OAPs only
There’s another common idea that cruises are for sedate over-60s only. Now, don’t get me wrong, mature passengers are hugely welcome, with everything laid on, but by no stretch of the imagination are they the only people you’ll find on board. Check out the passenger list of a typical journey taken by Royal Caribbean Cruises and you’ll find a cross section of ages having a majestic time together.

Celebrity Solstice
Royal Caribbean CruisesTom Mascardo 1 / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Trapped on board
I’ve met the odd person who says a cruise would be claustrophobic because you can’t get off the boat; this is baloney! They obviously have never been on board a cruise ship with its beautiful wide open spaces and seemingly endless variety of rooms. You could go on a year’s cruise and not get to every spot on board – another myth to dump in the rejects bin!

Forced formality
Don’t fancy being dressed up to the nines 24/7? No worries! There are ample opportunities to wear your finery on board, but smart casual is the watchword for most of the time, and there are no stuffed shirts on board – unless you count the after-buffet waistlines!

Participation a must
Another myth – you’ll be forced into a whole range of activities you don’t want to do. Not true at all. Passengers do what they want, when they want, and with whomever they want. There are no cruise police forcing you to wear a funny hat or dance a silly dance – unless you want to of course!

Single?
You’re flying solo? Won’t fit in? Not a bit of it, my friend, single passengers are always welcome, and intelligent planning puts them together at mealtimes with other single voyagers – if, of course, that’s what you want. And with so much to do, day and night, you will never feel alone.

Seasickness blues
Modern ships, with ultra-sophisticated balancing techniques, mean you’ll hardly know you’re at sea, except for the magnificent views, that is!

No time to see

Cruises just pass through, and you don’t get to experience anything but the quayside, right? Wrong again! Trips are expertly planned to enable you to experience a real taste of each resort.

Not for you
Myth 10 – cruises are not for you? See parts one to nine to realise how wrong you are! Bon voyage!

Mauritius 101 – Fast Facts for First Timer

For the first-timer, Mauritius holidays can seem about as exotic as travelling to the moon. As such, there are inevitably thousands of questions to be asked in order to clear concerns and generally come to terms with the basics – of which the following represents a select few of the most frequently asked and pressing examples:

In a nutshell?

Mauritius is a thriving multicultural island which is blessed with some of the most stunning natural beauty on Earth, along with friendly locals, unique culture and practically wall-to-wall sunshine all year-round. The cuisine and hospitality customs of the island are the culmination of French, African, Chinese and Indian influences and are therefore unlike any others to be found the world over. Every year, millions of tourists arrive at the island’s various resorts for a taste of heaven on Earth.

Mauritius Holiday for First Timers
Mauritius Holiday for First TimersThis file was uploaded with Commonist. / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Where is it?

Mauritius can be found in the Indian Ocean just to the east of Madagascar, off the South African coast.

How Big is it?

Not very big at all – the whole island measures in at little more than 2,000 square kilometres, making it about double the size of Hong Kong or the same size as Luxembourg.

What’s the capital of Mauritius?

The capital city through which most tourists arrive and depart is Port Louis.

How many people live there?

At last count, in the region of 1.3 million people are lucky enough to live in Mauritius.

What language is spoken?

The first language of the island’s residents is Creole – accounting for at least 80% of the entire population. There are however many other international languages spoken such as French and English – particularly in popular tourist areas.

What is the island’s religion?

The most prominent religion in Mauritius is Hinduism, which is followed by approximately 48% of the total resident population. Among the other practiced religions are Muslim which accounts for 17%, Christian at 8.6% and Roman Catholic in second-place at 23.6%.

What’s the weather like?

One of the most enviable traits of any holiday to Mauritius, the island is blessed with temperatures that barely change from around the 30 degree Celsius mark throughout the entire year. The months between November and May represent the rainy season and bring the highest temperatures, while the rest of the year is drier and slightly cooler.

When’s the best time to visit?

There really isn’t a wrong time to go to Mauritius, but for those looking to a do a little exploration inland as opposed to just spending time on the beaches, the dry season is more highly recommended.

How can I travel to Mauritius?

Most visitors arrive through the catchy-titled Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, which is serves by dozens of major airlines form all over the world. There is also a major cruise terminal at Port Louis that welcomes thousands of cruise liners every year.

And getting around?

Mauritius is a place where car hire comes very highly recommended – driving is an absolute joy on the island. The best advice is to always book in advance to avoid being overcharged. There is however also an excellent bus system that’s as cheap as it gets, while taxis and bike-hire line pretty much every street so you’ll never be stranded.

Holiday in Mauritius
Holiday in MauritiusMohammed Alnaser / Foter.com / CC BY

By Sandeep Patel

Sandeep Patel is a former travel consultant with a specialization in Mauritius holidays who recently took a career break to focus on raising a family. However, she and the kids still take regular holidays in Mauritius, after which Sandeep is committed to sharing her musings and advice by way of various high-profile travel blogs.

Honeymoon in Polynesia: white coral islands in the Pacific

According to the travel news and this travel blog, the place is situated in the air Oceania Eastern Polynesia is a region made up of several islands of the Pacific Ocean. Let’s start with this little definition to avoid the confusion which exists between this region and other areas of the planet, such as the Maldives. The name Polynesia in fact does not indicate a specific group of islands, but a whole area where there are several individual islands and archipelagos (even including Hawaii). These Islands are often the destination of newlyweds. Polynesia offers spectacular atolls characterized by the presence of lush vegetation in a lagoon surrounded by coral reefs.

A honeymoon in French Polynesia requires at least 15 days for two reasons: first, to have the opportunity to stay, or at least stay in more than one island, since the 5 main islands are composed of 118 islands in total, each with different characteristics. In addition, air travel is quite long and you have to cross 12 time zones to reach the airport in Papeete, Tahiti’s main town and capital of French Polynesia. Fortunately,  that’s not without making a stop a stop: Italy can reach the island via Paris with Air Tahiti Nui down to New York or Los Angeles, or increasingly via Paris with Air France with a stopover in Los Angeles, or Air New Zealand from London, Frankfurt or Los Angeles. The experience of the honeymoon will be complete with a visit to one of these cities before landing on the beaches of white coral, which are crystal-clear: The marine life is superb and snorkeling and diving will find their paradise.

There are so many activities to do there, besides the water- related ones: numerous trips are made specifically to explore the interior of the islands and the remains of the ancient Polynesian civilization. For this reason it is better to know exactly what to take with you, not only light cotton clothing, which is  good for the days of hot sun, but long pants and something heavier for the cool days of the lagoon. I always recommend sun-protection cream and lotion mosquito repellent, and as far as  the beach is concerned, sunglasses and rubber shoes for walking on the reef. During the year the temperature reaches about 27 °, but the best time to go is from April to October, when the rain is less frequent and the climate is so humid. Even the water of the lagoon is so hot that you can swim safely next to the magnificent marine animals that inhabit the reef. Or make a trip on a Va’a, a typical Polynesian canoe: it is also the protagonist of an annual competition, the Hawaiki Nui Va’a, which takes place in October between the islands of Bora Bora, Tahaa, Raiatea and Huhaine , and attended by 2000 athletes from around the world.

The three islands mentioned above are some of the most beautiful luxury resorts, hosting a fairy tale, where the five star treatment assumes a higher dimension, and relaxation is assured. If you want to indulge in some activity, snorkeling with sharks in Bora Bora is not to be missed and swimming with dolphins at Rangiroa is a wonderful experience. So for spouses who promised to get married within the year, value Polynesia for your honeymoon!

Author bio: Nick from TripandTravelBlog writes at the Trip & Travel Blog and has been to many places around the globe, seen many amazing things and enjoyed his trips to the fullest! Visiting a new place, he like to try all traditional dishes, go out at night to explore new ways of having fun and expand his horizons. He can’t do away with his gadgets and can show you many useful technological advanced things that has helped him.

5 Best Wedding Locations in Texas

They don’t call the big and best “Texas-sized” for nothing.

Texas is a big state that doesn’t do anything half-hearted; it’s big on fun and carefree days, big on style and gentility. Texas is the gorgeous western locale with rolling hills, picturesque deserts, and dazzling cities that lets you be whatever you want to be. It’s the perfect place to host a wedding that you’ve been dreaming about—the wedding that’s all about you and your partner.

Texas Wedding
Image by jwilkinsonco

Of course with great size comes a multitude of wedding venue options. Texas is chock full of them, but corralled here are five of the best wedding locations in Texas, the ideal spots for your Texas-sized “I do’s”!

1. Chapel Dulcinea, Austin

If you’re planning a wedding in Austin, the lovely Chapel Dulcinea is the perfect way to mingle the historic and romantic. Named for Alonso’s dream love in Don Quixote, Chapel Dulcinea is a beautiful historic southwestern style chapel set amidst the desert’s uniquely gorgeous landscape. Romantic torchlight shines inside, where soothing sounds of falling water greet you, and the chapel bell announces your marriage for all to hear.

2. Hotel Contessa, San Antonia

Set in the midst of San Antonio’s historic district, and with views of the famous Riverwalk, Hotel Contessa still manages to feel like an oasis from the bustle and energy of the fabulous city. With its sophisticated style and excellent food, Hotel Contessa is the ideal spot for a luxurious wedding; evening receptions will look especially stunning with views of the city lights.

3. Villa Antonio, Austin

With breathtaking views of the lush surrounding landscape and the sparkling Lake Travis, Villa Antonio is a gorgeous and unique venue for a dreamy wedding. The Old World architecture gleams in the daytime sun and the chapel is a classically styled and intimate place to exchange vows. Once the sun goes down, the glittering night sky will dazzle the wedding party.

4. Old Glory Ranch, Wimberley

If you dream of having a good old fashioned Texas wedding with style, Old Glory Ranch is the perfect place to make that dream a reality. The beautifully landscaped grounds make an ideal setting for an outdoor wedding or reception beneath the big Texas sky, while the covered patio and Chapel Hall can accommodate weddings big or small, carefree or country chic.

5. Chateau Polonez, Houston

If you’ve always wanted a European wedding, you don’t need to fly your guests to the south of France. Chateau Polonez is a fabulous French-style chateau in Houston that has all the romance of its overseas counterparts. The stunning ballroom is bedecked with chandeliers, the dramatic double staircase is ideal for photographs, dressing chambers pamper the prepping bride and groom, and the surrounding five acres are beautifully landscaped and perfectly intimate.

Now that you’ve seen these fabulous Texas wedding spots, are you feeling inspired? Which one would be the ideal choice for your dream wedding?

Do you have another beautiful location in mind?

Erin Scribbles (last name is a pen name) is slightly obsessed with photography, weddings, and everything creative. She (sometimes) tweets, and you can follow her if you feel so inclined- Twitter.com/ErinScribblez

Pests I Have Encountered Abroad

Traveling into foreign countries will definitely bring you into contact with pests you might not have even realized were pests. This happened to me in South America several times and once in India.

Pests Abroad
Image by pestctr7 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/60228745@N02/)

The most common and unnerving pest encounter was while learning the value of high-end hotel rooms. When traveling abroad, it is worth the little bit more you pay to get a very nice room. In South America, my husband and I decided to save some money and try a middle-of-the-road less expensive hotel. As soon as we flipped on the light, there were tiny bugs running into all the cracks. So small and hard to see, the only reason we did see them, was because we surprised them with the light, and because there were so many, at first we thought the floor was moving.

South America is a very intense place to travel. Located near the equator, it is like going into a gigantic green-house. Everything there grows fast and big. This includes all the bugs. We saw a grasshopper that was two fingers thick and two index fingers long. And the kinds of pests are remarkable. In the Amazon jungle, there are mud dwelling teeny weeny bugs known as peeoons. I can’t spell it because I have never seen it written down. These almost microscopic bugs can get in between your toes, or burrow into your skin and then they begin to make nests under there that look like blister bubbles. They later hatch into disgusting teeny weeny bugs that stream out from under your skin. Yuk. Just think burning and itching. But magnified.

The Chameleons in South American Jungles are intensely common and wonderful. They will creep into clothing left laying on the floor, or sit basking lazily in the sun with one eye going one way and the other…well, you know.

One night while in a tiny village in the Amazon jungle we were dancing with some of the villagers in a ceremony in their church. Suddenly, up by the ceiling it looked like a giant rainbow light-filled bubble that was floating around yet it was obvious it was some sort of a bug, not a bubble. Clearly it had transparent, multi-colored laced wings. For quite a while I kept working to convince myself it was NOT a fairy. Finally, I saw one land. It was our friend the grasshopper! His usually folded translucent wings were huge, and when he tried to fly into the light near the ceiling of the church, he literally looked like a flying rainbow bubble.

In India it was the monkeys. We had already learned to stick to the nicest places. We learned to stay in fine hotels since they cost so little anyway, and we learned that monkeys can be robbers, teasers and beggars. India has a dryer heat than South America. This is why the bug and pest problem there was not quite as intense. Baboons there can be a little threatening; as can the cobras if you are unlucky enough to travel into places they are common. The jungles in India look like scrub hills from California; at least that’s what we thought. But the animals and the understanding of what dangers lay in those “jungles” need to be addressed clearly and with knowledgeable people if you want to travel in remote places in India without problems.

The best rule of thumb is to stick to where it feels clean. The dirtier a place feels in general, the more bugs and pests you will find. And not always right away! You may have to suddenly turn on a couple of lights, or leave a shirt lying on the floor for a while to find them.

Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland

Headed to the Emerald Isle? The best way to explore all that Ireland has to offer is by renting a car and heading out on the roads. Before you book your rental though, following some of these helpful tips.

Yellow
Renting a Car in IrelandMartin Gommel / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

General Tips

  1. Check the rental company’s policies before you book your reservation, as some companies will not rent to anyone under 25. Also, confirm whether you need an International Driving Permit –if your driver’s license is written in English, you don’t need one,
  2. Reserve your car before leaving home–you don’t want to arrive in Ireland to find that the only cars available can barely accommodate you and your luggage.
  3. Pick the car up at the airport, particularly if you’re arriving in Dublin. Some rental car agencies have locations outside of the airport, but getting there takes time and it can be tricky to navigate around the city if you’re unfamiliar with the area. There’s usually an extra fee for airport pickups, but the reduced hassle is worth it.
  4. Read the agency fuel – known as petrol in Ireland –policy before driving off. In most cases, the gas tank will be full when you pick up the car, and you pay for it up front. When you return the car, you generally have the option of re-filling the tank and getting that money back, or just leaving it empty. Double-check before you return the car though, to avoid an unpleasant surprise or extra charge.
  5. Ask about paying the M50 toll before you head out. The M50 is a section of highway near Dublin – and chances are you’ll travel on the toll portion at some point if you fly in or out of Dublin. There is no toll gate, so you might not even know you are on a toll road! Some agencies will cover the charge for you, but you might have to pay it yourself – if you don’t, you’ll get hit with a fine when you return the car. Stop at a shop that displays a “PayZone” logo to pay the charge.
  6. Driving in Ireland is not like driving in the U.S. or in major cities around the world. First, you have to drive on the left—pay extra for an automatic transmission vehicle if you’re not comfortable shifting with your left hand. Many of the side and back roads are narrow, twisty, unpaved, and your chances of running into a flock of sheep are pretty good. Pay attention to the conditions, take your time, and let the sheep have the right of way. Invest in a road map book of Ireland – the Ordnance Survey Ireland is a good choice—since many places are not listed on GPS, and it’s easy to get turned around.

Booking Your Car

Most of the familiar car rental agencies operate within Ireland, including Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, and Enterprise. The best rates can usually be found online—shop around and compare all before booking your car. Read the fine print, and get the car you want!

Be prepared to pay taxes and fees in addition to daily rates. Ireland charges a fee for an extra driver, road and VAT taxes (some companies include the VAT in the daily rate) and in some cases, a fee if you plan to travel into Northern Ireland. If you are under 25, and the agency will rent to you, expect to pay an extra fee and higher insurance rates.

Insurance

When you rent a car in Ireland, get the extra car insurance. Driving along twisting rural roads can be hazardous, and an unfortunate encounter with an untrimmed hedge or wayward sheep can cost you a chunk of change.

When you rent your car, you’ll probably be given choice between Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that pays a deductible of up to 1000 Euros,  and Super (or Super CDW). With the Super CDW coverage, which usually runs between $10-14 U.S. per day, you’re fully covered with no deductible.  Keep in mind again, with the rural nature of Ireland’s roads, it’s easy to get a dent, scrape or ding on the rental car – and you will have to pay for it.

All rental car agencies will charge you for third-party liability coverage, meaning that you’re covered for damage to property or injuries to people outside the car. It’s mandatory coverage.

If you’re thinking that your credit card will cover you in the event something happens to the rental car, read the terms of your credit card coverage carefully – some plans specifically exclude car rentals in Ireland, among other countries.

Once you arrive in Ireland, the process of renting a car is the same as anywhere else. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!

The Golden Age of Air Travel Returns!

With competition now in full gear amongst the world’s top airlines, eager to capture the hearts of the rich and famous, the golden age of air travel has returned – if only for a select few.Singapore Airline First Class

Of all the airlines in this very first class battle, Singapore Airlines reigns supreme with the all new, double-decker Airbus A380 featuring a double bed that sleeps you and a companion in your own private suite. The 12 suites, created by yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste, include fully closable doors for your absolute privacy, though no “mile-high” activities are theoretically permitted. How they will deal with any uncontrollable human passions in this flying Shangri-la is anybody’s guess. Continue reading The Golden Age of Air Travel Returns!

The Constant Traveling Businessman’s List of What to Pack

Traveling for work can cause a variety of headaches and remembering what to pack is one of them. Because many men travel long distances for work on a daily basis, keeping a list of necessary things to pack is a must. The following list of must-pack items are essential for every business trip.

Facial Soap

Traveling businessman
Traveling businessman

If you don’t think your skin is as sensitive as a woman’s, you’re wrong. As a man, you must ensure that your face is clean and clear at all times, especially when conducting business.

Forgetting your facial soap can be a huge problem if you utilize a special type. Not every man can grab the free stuff from the hotel room and slather their face with it. Remembering soap is important, so add it to your list.

Shaving Cream

Similar to facial soap, the type of shaving cream you use greatly impacts the look of your skin. Some men may prefer cream that moisturizes while others may just use a standard brand that smells nice.

Most of the time, hotels and airlines will not provide a free can of shaving cream, but if they do, the cream won’t feel good to the touch. If you don’t want to experience unnecessary rashes, add shaving cream to your must-pack list.

Cell Phone Charger

Yes, cell phone chargers are one of the most important items that must be brought along on every business trip.

As a businessman, you are always on-the-go with likely little time to stop and whip out your laptop, so all businessmen carry a smartphone for just this reason. Don’t get stuck on a business trip with a dead smartphone and no way to charge it; you might miss that all important email or phone call.

Important Documents

Documents such as hotel reservations, car rental paperwork, airline itineraries and passports are all important to have, especially if you plan to travel overseas for business.

If possible, make backup copies of all documents, even your passport. Keep everything in a place that’s well-hidden yet easily accessible, because losing these items will cost you a lot of time and money.

Pills

Having enough medication when on a business trip is very important. If you are traveling to a location where you think that your pills may not be readily available to purchase, then take more than enough to last throughout your business trip.

Because pills are vital to your health and may be beneficial in emergency situations, they should be at the top of your must-pack list.

The Best Places around the World for Marathon Runners

There is no better way to test your fitness and mental strength than by entering a marathon, triathlon or similar event, and these are hugely popular all around the world. This means that there are some terrific ones to participate in which will no doubt be a brilliant experience, and you will even get to take in some of the beautiful surroundings whilst you are visiting too, making it a great travel experience. So, what are the best marathons to run in the world?

London Marathon

This event runs in April each year and is no doubt one of the best in the world, with a huge following and a party atmosphere, it makes it ideal for total beginners or seasoned pros. As you complete the course you will also get a great glimpse of some of the best sites in the capital.

London Marathon
London Marathonminor9th / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

New York City Marathon

Here you will find runners from all around the world, and this is because of the appeal that this marathon has. The course goes through 5 boroughs of New York and finishes in the legendary Central Park, making for some fantastic views en route. This is a must do for any runner and will be an incredible experience for you.

New York City Marathon
New York City MarathonMartineric / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Paris Marathon

If you want a way to see all of Paris’ beautiful sites in a short period of time then this is the way to do it, as the course just about manages to fit everything in around the city. During Spring as well, it makes for a picturesque setting and another great marathon to participate in.

Paris Marathon
Paris Marathongadl / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Berlin Marathon

Another beautiful city marathon which will show you everything that Berlin has to offer, with a brilliant atmosphere and an enthusiastic crowd to cheer you on. This is also a rare course in that it is almost entirely flat the entire way round, making it a real runner’s race.

Berlin Marathon
Berlin MarathonFoter.com / CC BY

These are just four of the best marathons to participate in around the world, but there are plenty more for those who want to test their fitness and participate in what is always a great event. With any marathon you will need the right clothing though, which is why you will need to visit a specialist store, like High Octane Sports, as places like this supply you with everything you need for a successful marathon, triathlon, bike ride or similar event.

Road Trip with The Kids – The Survival Guide

We all know the long drive in the car can be hell on earth when you have lively kids strapped in the back of the car but there are many ways that can help reduce the stress of your trip.  The constant barrage of “How much longer Daddy?”, “I’m bored” and “Are we there yet?” ringing in your ear for the next 200 miles is enough to send you round the twist.  Having done some pretty big road trips I hope I can share some ideas that I use and also some that have not worked for me but have worked for my friends.

travel with kids
Image by clappstar (http://www.flickr.com/photos/clappstar/)
  1. During the hot summer months it’s vital that your vehicle has air con as I find that the kids get much more restless.  Make sure you check that your air con is still working due to the fact in can leak gas during the winter and then let you down when you really need it.
  2. If your children are old enough I do a quiz for my kids to look out for certain things on the journey and then reward them with a prize halfway through the trip.
  3. Split the journey by stopping somewhere on route for lunch allowing the kids to have good run round tiring them out before the next leg of the trip.
  4. Try starting your trip at a time when the kids usually have a nap because putting them in the car them moment they wake in the morning will mean entertaining them for much longer.
  5. You can buy covers to protect your seats from all those horrible dirty footprints left by the kids on the back of your new leather seats.  Most of these contain pockets for filling with colouring materials, paper and anything else you think will keep them amused.
  6. Not for everyone but a DVD player strapped to the back of the front seats work well for an hour or so but they soon get bored with this tactic.
  7. Keep talking to the kids explaining where you are and what can be seen out of the window as they are more interested than you may think.
  8. Prepare lots of healthy snacks such as fruit as they will enjoy snacking whilst cruising along.
  9. If they like music burn a CD of some of their favourite tunes and theme songs so you can all sing along.  At 32 I still love some good old songs such as Dr. Hook
  10. Put a smaller version of their toy box at their feet so that they can get things out whilst you’re on the move.
  11. Make sure you have sun blinds or tinted windows for the kids as there is nothing worse than driving for miles with the sun shining full in your face.
  12. Whenever you do stop encourage the kids to try for the toilet as there is nothing worse than getting back in the car after lunch and then hearing ‘Mummy, I need a wee wee!”.

Jamie Anderson is a proud parent of 2, gadget freak, photographer and daddy blogger. Jamie has been managing his own blog for a few years now. James enjoys writing articles for mums to be and parents of young children and currently writes for Baby Planet who are a leading UK retailer of baby equipment including pushchairs, booster seats and nursery furniture