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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where to stay in Anaheim, California

The Sorcerer's Hat is the icon of Disney's Hol...Image via Wikipedia

Anaheim, California is a major destination for families around the world, with Disney World as the main attraction, and it can prove costly to go there unless you plan your trip well in advance. Even if you are on a budget, you don't have to settle for a room far away from the main event. There are often various price categories around a touristy area and Anaheim is no exception. As it is a very family friendly destination, they know and understand that many of you are on a budget. Decide what you require of the hotel, whether it has to be within walking distance of Disney World, what facilities, car parking etc. and start looking up a few places on the Internet.

A way of keeping the costs down during a holiday is to use the same chain all the time and so collect points which you can later trade in for a free night’s accommodation. There are for example numerous hotels within the Choice hotel group in Anaheim, and they are fairly cheap. If you are staying in hotels a few nights a year, then this might be a way to decrease the overall cost of accommodation.

Here are a few of the budget hotels that I would recommend in Anaheim:

1. Quality Inn and Suites Anaheim resort ~ this 2 star hotel is within walking distance to Disneyland and has all the amenities that you would require. With a price a good bit below $100 it is a great option if you are looking for something simple. Hotel amenities include outdoor pools, guest laundry, free continental breakfast, discounted attraction tickets, tour packages, gift shops, coffee shops, parking, and free local calls. The rooms have air-conditioning, direct-dial telephones, and TVs with cable.

2. Americas Best Value Inn and Suites ~ another 2 star hotel within a block from Disneyland. Hotel amenities include hairdryers, microwaves, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, workstation desks, and internet access. There are complimentary continental breakfast, guest laundry facility, fax/copy services and an outdoor swimming pool. Their prices range from $53-$90.

3. Best Western Anaheim Inn ~ this 3 star hotel is located just across the entrance to Disneyland which makes it a perfect place to stay if you are going to Disneyland. You might even be able to see the fireworks from the hotel. Amenities include coffee maker in the room, pool, fitness centre and spa, television with cable and ample parking. Prices are around $100.

4. Ramada Inn Maingate ~ another hotel chain which is located close to the entrance to Disneyland. It hasbeautiful rooms and a nice pool. Their amenities include complimentary continental breakfast with a local daily newspaper. The hotel also has ice/vending machines, 24-hour front desk, express checkout, free parking, gift shop and laundry/valet services. Each room has a microwave, refrigerator, air-conditioning, AM/FM clock radio, coffeemaker, iron/ironing board, hairdryer, High Speed Internet, and cable television. Prices are around $100.

There are plenty more budget hotels around Disneyland and the above was only a few of them. If you join a chain, then you might get even greater value and get to know a hotel better. In a popular place like this, a hotel that didn't live up to standards wouldn't be able to compete with the other accommodations so they all have similar facilities, rooms and extras.

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Cheap car rental; car hire with Autoeurope is a great bargain!

Renting a car is a daunting task in many ways. Not only do you need to find a cheap bargain but also one that provides you with a good car and great insurance. Different car rental companies have different policies and it can sometimes be hard to know what is what. There are many different options as to how you want to make your car rental purchase. You can rent the car directly from the car rental company or you can go through a car rental broker. At particular times, one might suit you better than the other.

Autoeurope is a cheap car rental broker that also brokers for cheap flights, hotels, transfer services and similar. They have a wide network of car rental services around the world and brokers for car rental companies like AVIS and Dollar. They have many different car options, add-ons and insurances.

The following applies if you are renting your car from Europe, different policies applies if you are living elsewhere in the world.

Standard rate:

Take your pick from various sized cars, ranging from mini / economy to SUVs and convertibles. Chose a pick-up location that is convenient to you. Their pick-up locations are mainly in airports and downtown. Then chose the car that suits you. Do check what insurances are included but often you have the insurance you need for the car but personal injury covers are excluded. The rate also incorporates taxes and unlimited mileage.

Refundable excess:

There is an option to rent a car with a slightly higher price and then get a refundable excess policy. You will then be reimbursed for any excess paid to the supplier in the event of accidental damage. This means that you can then decline to sign-up for the supplier's additional excess reduction insurance when you collect your car rental. As with most insurances, there are exclusions as to what is included in this policy. For example, broken windscreens and damage done to the roof of the vehicle is not included. It is advisable to always double-check with the company as to the exact policies.

Gold rate:

The same applies for the gold rate as for the standard rate with the additional extras of 3 additional drivers and a tank of petrol included. This option is mainly open to Europeans renting a car in the US.

Guaranteed best rates:

Autoeurope provides great rates for car rentals but sometimes other providers are just that bit cheaper. Autoeurope then operates a guaranteed best rate policy. If you find a cheaper rate for exactly the same car hire as the one you have with Autoeurope, you can fill in a form and you will be reimbursed the difference. They might even beat the other price somewhat.


If you decide to rent the car with Autoeurope, you will receive a car rental voucher after you have paid the fee. It will include all the information needed and tell you with what car rental company you will be hiring the car. You have paid the rental in full, so all you have to do on the day is to go to the car company and hand over the voucher. Do keep your own copy so that you have it if needed when you return the car. This can provide useful if you already paid for a tank of petrol and they didn’t take note of that when you got the car.

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Amazing road trips; Las Vegas to Gran Canyon

A picture of the Marble Canyon section of the ...Image via Wikipedia

One of the best road trips in America has to be the drive from Las Vegasto the Grand Canyon. This is the ultimate drive for any road tripper. The drive in itself is rather straightforward and not too long. It is feasible to do it in a day, but you will be missing a lot of sights along the way. As you are driving in the desert area and with very little settlements, this is freedom at is best. Both Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon are in itself amazing destinations and it is well worth the time to stop over for a day or two, but more on this in a later post.

Heading away from Las Vegas

Start you trip from Las Vegas and take highway 93 south. The Grand Canyon is approximately 250 miles from Las Vegas. The drive takes about 4-5 hours if you don’t stop anywhere. As you drive away from Vegas you will see the odd casinos along the road until you are near theArizona border.

Hoover Dam

After Vegas, your first major stop will probably be at the fascinating Hoover Dam. It was completed in 1936 and stands in the Colorado River on the border between Nevada and Arizona. It is an impressive construction so do take the time to walk down for a closer look. There are also possibilities of going on helicopter trips that fly over the famous dam, check in Vegas for details.


The first town you will come across after Las Vegas is Kingman, known to many road trippers as it lies on the historic Route 66. If you don’t want to overdo it with the driving, this is a good opportunity for a stop-over. There are plenty of chain-motels along the highway. Once you passed Kingman, the US 93 will change name to Interstate 40 East.


To many Flagstaff is a perfect place to stay the night before venturing in to the Grand Canyon National Park. If you stopped over in Kingman, take Highway 64 to the Grand Canyon. If you are looking for a place for the night, stop in Kingman and take Route 66 out of town and Rout 66 will then become Highway 89. After a few miles you will need to turn left onto Highway 64 to get to Grand canyon. Kingman is a small enough town with plenty of motels that cater for all budgets.

Grand Canyon National Park

The national park offers a wide variety of activities and you can spend anything from a couple of hours here to days. If you want to stay in the park itself, it is recommended that you book your accommodation in advance.


Before heading back to Las Vegas, if you are doing a loop drive, consider taking a small detour and visit Sedona. It is a beautiful place in the middle of the desert, with red rocks and rivers to swim in. They have a lovely museum giving information about movies filmed in the area.

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Where to go in Thailand

thailand ko phi phi 02Image by FriskoDude via Flickr

Thailand have long been a holiday destination with its sunny weather and long white beaches, and even more so in the last five years. As the country becomes increasingly popular the exploitation by both Thai and Western companies are on the raise, but Thailand still have a few hidden treasures.

As with every holiday, the place you want to visit depends on what you want to do with your time off. If you rather go sightseeing than sunbathing on a deserted island, you might enjoy the hustle and bustle of a town rather than a touristy resort.

These are some of the main destinations in Thailand:

1. Phi Phi Island; the most romantic and beautiful setting must be that of Ko Phi-Phi. Unfortunately, everyone knows it and it can feel very crowded. If you can overlook the crowds and soak in the beauty of this island, it is one of the best places to visit. The sea is lovely and blue, and all the usual water sports are available. You can walk up the mountain to get a view of the entire island and it is absolutely stunning. As it is so popular, it is vital to arrange accommodation prior to arriving, unless you expect to be there very early. It is normally booked out after the first couple if morning ferries arriving.

2. Railay; this is another treasure. The island is situated north of Ko Phi Phi and you get there easily by ferry from Phuket. The island is small and has no roads. You will have to take a long tail boat to get there and then wade in to shore, carrying your suitcase. Once you are settled in you will understand why you came. It is the most beautiful spot and very serene and tranquil. There are plenty of restaurants on the beach and places to enjoy a drink or two.

3. Ko Tarutao; if you like the idea of a deserted island or treading where no one ever trodden before, then take a trip down to Ko Tarutao National Park. You can take a speed boat from the mainland and stay on the island for a few days. There is a basic camp and one restaurant to buy your food. This is the island where they filmed one of the seasons of Survivor.

4. Ko Lipe; a bit further west of Tarutao is the island Lipe. It is not yet an established resort and therefore very low key. The bungalows have their charm and so has the little huts very you can relax and sip on a drink in the evening. There are a few bigger restaurants but apart from that, it's darkness once the sun has set. Often the restaurants will put out tables and chairs on the beach to create an even more beautiful setting. The beach is lovely and you can rent one of the long-tailed boats to go around to the other side of the island. There is a path leading from one side to another and it's nice to take the trip just before sunset.

5. Phuket; the main destination for many of the charter tourists. As Phuket is a big semi-island there are various resorts and places to choose from. The most famous one is Patong, but the smaller beaches such as Kata, Surin or Kamala is a better option if you want to relax and keep it more low key. You can then jump on one of the tuk-tuks and go in to Patong at night and so some shopping.

6. Ko Lanta; this is another island that has become popular lately. The beaches and the sea is not as nice as on the other islands so if you really want to just sunbath, you should perhaps choose another island. However, there are things to enjoy on Lanta too. The elephant trekking trip in the National Park at the southern end of the island is interesting and well worth the trip. The Thai people often drive fast and erratically, but on this island there were broad roads and less traffic than elsewhere. I would therefore recommend this island as a good one for renting a car or a scooter.

7. Bangkok; the capital of Thailand and your starting point if you arrive on a scheduled flight. It is a very polluted city and many tourists do not stop here for too long. If you do decide to stay for a couple of days, visit the Palace, Wat Poh and take a trip on the river.

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Top 10 cities or towns to visit in Europe

{{Potd/2006-06-17 (en)}}Image via Wikipedia

Europe is a continent with a lot of diversity, both when it comes to history, religion and culture, and that makes these countries all the more interesting to visit. There are so many different places that everyone will find a spot that they like and can relate to. Below is a list of 10 cities or towns well worth a visit.

1. London; the capital of Great Britain is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and has plenty to offer a tourist. It does not matter what your interests are, you can be sure that you will find something that suits you. With a wide variety of attractions, historic buildings, museums and outdoor entertainment there are many ways in which to spend your day. The city comes to light in the evening and some of the highlights are the opera, a musical or theatre in theWest End, a fancy dinner at one of the top-notch restaurants or just to stroll around Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

2. Paris; known as the city of lovers, the French capital has a lot to offer. Visit the famous Louvre, climb to the top of the Eiffel tower, enjoy the little French cafés or make your way to the area of Montmartre, famous for its artist and small shops. Some of the highlight of Paris includes the fantastic Notre Dame and the white, candy like church Sacre-Cur as well as the Luxemburg Gardens.

3. Prague; situated in Eastern Europe and rich in historical areas and buildings. It is a city to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. It is relatively cheap and the beer is good. A must is Prague Castle with the amazing St. Vitu's Cathedral. The Jewish quarters with all their synagogues gives a testament to the impact of the Jews before the Second World War.

4. Vienna; this is a city rich in culture and historic buildings. This is a city that will give you everything you need and more. The most visited attraction is the Castle Schonbrunn. It is situated outside the city centre but well worth the visit. If you like amusement parks, the Prater is a place for you. It boosts with one of the oldest Ferris wheels of its kind.

5. Barcelona; soak up the sun in Spain on one of the out-door cafés in this bustling city. The famous shopping street, Las Ramblas, lies in the heart of the city and many events take place here during the day. One of the highlights has to be Gaudi's cathedral, Sagrada Familia.

6. Amsterdam; the nicest and most interesting of all the Dutch cities has a lot to offer. It is an easy city to visit as the public transport is frequent and brings you right to the heart of Amsterdam in no time. Once in the city centre, it is a fabulous place to walk around with all the old houses, the river and the bridges. A trip on one of the ferries is a must as is the Anne Frankhouse. Here one of the world's most famous diaries really comes alive. If you have an interest in diamonds, you can visit diamond factories and try a ring or two.

7. Berlin; the capital of Germany is another city that will welcome you with plenty of attractions. This is a place where east truly meets west, as this once divided city comes together as one. Alexander Platz and the TV tower in the former east, Checkpoint Charlie on the boarded between the two former countries and Brandenburger Tor in the west.

8. Copenhagen; a delightful city in the Nordic hemisphere. The amusement park Tivoli is one of the oldest in the world and has an outstanding Christmas market. The stories of H. C. Andersen come to live with the statue of the little mermaid by the sea. The shopping street Stroget is a bustling place and the castle is rather impressive.

9. Helsingborg; a stunning Swedish town situated in the very south of the country. The town stretches alongside the sea and boardwalks by the beach makes it easy to give for a stroll to feel the atmosphere. There are a few places of interest, the medieval tower from which you have a fabolous view, the heritage park and the Sofiero Castle. You can take also take one of the ferries across to Denmark.

10. Bamberg; this German town is so beautiful and old that it has made its way to the UNESCO world heritage list. The town is famous for its beer, the quarter called Little Venice and it has a lovely town hall situated in the middle of the river.

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Budget Airlines: Ryanair the European low-cost carrier

Ryanair Boeing 737-800s at Frankfurt-HahnImage via Wikipedia

A few years ago the budget airlines started taking off and managed to get a fair share of the market. The most successful company, at least in Europe, is Ryanair. This Irish flight operator marketed themselves as the no frills airline and slashed prices of flying.

Their strategy certainly worked and even in times of recession, they have managed to hold their own. What did Ryanair do to become so successful and do we really like Ryanair?

I certainly use Ryanair when I fly within Europe and although they annoy me most of the time, they are so cheap that I seem to overlook all the hassle that comes with booking a flight with them. Ryanair cleverly uses pricing as their number one strategy. They have a very low basic price, and to increase their own revenue, they then sneakily add hefty fees to things like, luggage, check-in and credit cards. Even though it angers customers, it does seem to do the trick.

It is also important to know that it is only during certain weeks that their prices are very, very low. When they first introduce the routes and fares, they have a standard price. A couple of months before the date of the flight, they introduce their cheap fares. As they then sell their tickets, the rates increases. In the end, the rates they charge just a few days before the flight is due, are extremely pricy. At least in comparison to the ones a few weeks ago. It is very important to buy your ticket in advance, just not too many months before the flight date.

I will keep blogging about Ryanair, please comment on this and mention what annoys you and tips and tricks that you have come across. I will be blogging about those soon.

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5 amazing countries to visit

Most of us have favourite places which we return to frequently, or places that we dream of going to. What make a town, country or even a continent special to me, might be exactly what you hate about that place. It is very individual and it is a perfect subject to start a debate here on the blogg. Below I will start off by listing my top 5 countries and explain why they made it to my list. I will of course love comments on the matter and perhaps get your input as to what countries should be in the top five.

1. Sweden - it has to be up there as it is my home country and in all honesty, isn't too bad of a place to be living in. Naturally, the weather could be a bit milder, the winters a lot less dark but on the whole, it is an easy life, that feels rather secure. There are plenty of things to see and do, many of which I'm sure I will be mentioning in other posts. The people are friendly and it isn't at all as expensive as you think it is.

2. New Zealand - the land of the Hobbits, the Maoris and the amazing nature. If ever there was a heaven on earth, I would like to think it is here. Whether you go glacier walking, canoeing or sailing the Marlborough Sound, you will love this place.

3. Thailand - a favourite beach retreat when the European weather just doesn't do it for you. Miles of miles of sandy beaches, cocktails, Thai food and friendly people is all you require. If you feel a bit adventurous, there is always the potential to go trekking and sightseeing up north. The list of sports that you can enjoy is endless and it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to try it either.

4. Australia - what a country and what a continent. You will find most of what you need down under. The people of OZ are friendly and good natured, the climate variable depending on where you are and there is always an adventure around the corner. This is a place to go sightseeing, do trekking and canoeing or why not try the outback for a while.

5. Ireland - as I currently reside here, I could not leave it off this list. I came here because I was fascinated by the history, the scenery and the people. Although it has changed a lot in recent years, there is a beauty here that is hard to forget. The weather makes it hard to see through the grey, cloudy curtain that hangs over the islands more often than not, but if you do, you will be surprised at it's beauty and tranquility.

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Where to find cheap flights

Boeing 737-800, named Nyköping, takes off from...Image via Wikipedia

Cheap flights are available from many vendors and there are a few options to search for these. We all want a bargain flight and with a lot of research on the Internet, you might just be lucky.

So, one of the first things to do after you have decided that it is time to take that next trip is to book your flight. As this often is one of the more expensive parts of travelling, it is important to find a good deal. Where would you buy your tickets? Do shop around but more often than not the following conclusions are worth taking into consideration so that you don't have to spend too long finding that bargain.

1. If you are travelling within Europe andRyanair will take you to your destination, it is without a doubt the cheapest option to book with them directly. That is if you buy your ticket well in advance, mind you not too far away though as that can prove expensive too, don't travel with baggage and hold a VISA Electron. Travelling with Ryanair deserves a few blogs on its own so I will return to the subject.

2. If you are planning a trip further afield, then it will be cheaper to go trough brokers or travel agents rather than buying directly with the airlines. Shop around little but as there aren't that many good cheap sites out there, it won't be too much work. The standard brokers that I would use are Expedia, Ebookers, Lastminute and Gohop. There is one Irish agent however that always come up trumps for me and that is Travelpaths. I have booked many of my flights with them simply because they offer me value for money.

3. There is a 3rd option to consider if you don't mind being kept in the dark about the flight operator etc and that is to go and check out Hotwire. Hotwire provides flights, hotels and car rentals cheap but the snag is that you don't find out all the details until you have actually paid. I haven't yet tried it for flights but the hotel option works brilliantly.

Do you have any other recommendations? I would love to find out...

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Travel bloggers linking award

One travel blog is good. A group of travel bloggers exchanging links and sharing advice is better.

Travelbug's blog likes the idea of a network of travellers joining together to link to eachothers sites. That way the reader will get a fuller picture of what is available and can search for similar blogs to this one. Travelbug has been awarded the Travel bloggers linking award by Balineseindonesia and greatly appreciate the award.

The main intention for this award is for the mutual benefit of "backlinks" for travel bloggers. Lets help each other and forward this award to every travel bloggers you know of to increase your "backlinks" and awareness on your blog. You've got nothing to lose and this is a win-win situation for everyone!

The 'rules' for this award is easy: grab the award and the picture and post it on your blog, linking to the person that passed it to you and adding your own link with your chosen anchor text to the "Backlinks List". You may pass it on to as many bloggers as you wish. Do let them know in a comment on their respective blogs so that they will reciprocate it. Have fun! (Please ENSURE that you link others using their Blog Name(Link it to their url) and the blog's url itself)

Now I'd like to pass this chic new award on to the following travel bloggers. I adore your blogs too!

In no particular order:

Bali Travel - http://balineseindonesia.blogspot.com
Casa Doceltto - http://casadolcetto.blogspot.com/
Solo Friendly - http://solofriendly.com/
Backpacking Chica - http://www.backpackingchica.com/
Zoombu - http://zoombu.co.uk/
Earth Blog - http://blog.earth.org/
Two Go Round-The-World - http://www.twortw.com/
FoxNomad - http://foxnomad.com/
Historical Travels - http://historical-travels.com/
Travelling Australia - http://travelingaustralia.blogspot.com/
Travelbug - http://igotthetravelbug2009.blogspot.com/
Pommie Travels - http://www.pommietravels.com/
Travel Pro - http://travelpro55.blogspot.com/
How To Travel With Pets - http://howtotravelwithpets.com/
Travel And Tweet - http://travelandtweet.com/
My Several Wonders - http://www.myseveralworlds.com/
Taiwan Photographers - http://www.taiwanphotographers.com/
Lay Your Head Here - http://www.layyourheadhere.com/

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Road trips; why is road tripping so great?

route 66Image by tricky ™ via Flickr

Road trips conjure up a feeling of freedom and adventure. It is not something you do everyday, but plan for and anticipate for months. Great road trips are the ones that you have dreamed of driving, talked about and read extensively about. They are roads that have been driven before, but will still feel new and exciting. To go on a great road trip is one of lives best moments.

Road trip planning:

Before venturing out on a road trip you need to plan the trip. There are plenty of great road trips around the world and the first step is to decide where to go. The most famous ones are the great American road trips, but there are a lot of other drives. Narrow your search down to a specific country and a specific area. Depending on the duration of the trip, more than one area can be included.

Read up on the route, the sight and the possibilities of accommodations, car rentals and the weather. Even though one of the best things about road tripping is that you don’t need to plan too much ahead, it is still advisable to plan an itinerary and to book a few nights accommodation from home. Don’t over-do the route, you will find sights along the way and you probably won’t have as much time as you think.

Before you go, let people at home know where you are going and give them a rough plan of your trip. It is always comforting to know that you will have family and friends looking for you if you get lost.

Hitting the open road:

The road is yours, take it. There is no greater feeling than hitting that open road and knowing that you have made it, that you are on your very own road trip. Be aware that as a road tripper, you are in charge. The car will take you anywhere you want to go and you will be experiencing impulses as you pass interesting sights and smaller roads that lead off the beaten track. Go with flow, enjoy it to the fullest and don’t follow your pre-arranged plan too rigorously. A little detour is nearly mandatory.

Give yourself time to take in the sights. Driving all day isn’t great and you will miss out on so much if you pass out on all the stops along the way. Take a break for a day and do something else before you head back to the open road. Sometimes the unplanned stops will be the most memorable.

Why is road tripping so great?

Once you have been on a road trip, you will know the answer to that question. It truly is an experience of freedom. You are one with the car and together you will venture out on a long adventurous journey. As you drive along the planned route you will have plenty of time to soak up the surrounding atmosphere, scenery and sights. If you change your mind, there is no hassle. You just pick up your map and re-route your trip a little or a lot.

One of the greatest American road trips has to be Route 66 and perhaps there is no greater freedom for a road tripper that to cruise along this historic land mark. All other road trips around the world have a hard act to follow. Wherever you decide to go though, you will nevertheless be one with the car and steer your own adventure in the direction that is of your liking.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tips for using E-tickets

Some years ago there was only the one option to buy your travel ticket. You had to go to the travel agent and they then booked the trip for you. Whether you went in to their shop or gave them a call, the travel agent was the point of contact for your holiday needs.

With the Internet came a huge shift in the holiday and travel market. There was now a bigger, fiercer competition than ever before as the Internet sites were offering cheaper deals at a click of a button.

Rather than having a travel agent doing the booking for you, you were encouraged to take active part in the booking process and search for the bargain of your life.

For these Internet deals to be even cheaper the old reliable paper tickets, that came in the post, was soon dispensed of and the e-ticket emerged. An e-ticket works the same way as a standard ticket would, it just looks different. You will get a reference number and all the details of you particular hotel stay, flight or car rental will be described on the ticket.

Before you make that purchase, make sure that you have researched the market properly. A good advice is to check the travel agents and get a quote there. Then browse the Internet for better deals. Most search engines have reviews from customers and although they are not always telling the truth, they do give a general advice. Talk to friends and family and see how they got one and if they have any tips.

Once you have decided to make the purchase make sure that you read everything properly. As you are the one making the booking, you will be the one to pay for any misunderstandings or mistakes. A common mistake is to spell a name of a passenger wrong and then it can, at best, be dear to have the name change, or catastrophic if the passenger is declined the trip.

Depending on what kind of trip you book; flight, ferry, car rental or accommodation, you will receive an e-mail that confirms your booking. Make sure that you read this and that you are happy. Most booking is non-refundable and changes are very expensive. You will be issued with a booking reference number, print this number and write it down somewhere so that you have a duplicate. Today, most places go by your name and you don't need the reference number but you can never be sure. If there should be a problem, have a copy of the booking with you as proof of purchase.

It is easy to make the booking and most times it works without any hassle. At first it might seem suspicious and you might worry that you won`t end up getting the product that you pay for but once you have started using e-tickets, you will soon reap the benefits of cheaper holidays. If you are unsure, call the place or reservation centre and have the booking confirmed, but do check the rate at which these calls are charged as it can be an unpleasant surprise otherwise.

Booking online also puts you at risk as you pay with a credit card. Make sure that it is a secure transaction before giving away all you details.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where to go in Phuket, Thailand

Kho Pippi-Maya Beach, ThailandImage via Wikipedia

Have you ever wanted to go to Phuket? The destination in Southern Thailand that has plenty to offer a sun worshipper. If so, you have made a great decision. Thailand in itself is an interesting county with a lot of different places to visit. From north to south, there is a vast range of tourist hotspot and Phuket is one of the best destinations to soak up the sun with its mile-long white beaches. Phuket is the name of a larger area as well as the main town itself. There are plenty of places to explore and nearby areas to venture out to. Some great places are;

1. Karon and Kata Beach; these two holiday destinations caters to everyone, from backpackers to charter tourists. There is a buzz about the place and plenty of shops and restaurants. It is a popular place for charter holidays so it is wise to book accommodation before you get here if you are travelling in high season. The beaches are white, long and the sea bluer than blue. You can rent parasols and beach chairs for the day for less than €10.

2. Patong; this town is not for everyone as it gets very crowded, but it makes for a nice evening out. It is especially the shopping that makes it worth the trip. There are plenty of market stalls on the streets, selling everything from souvenirs to clothes, to electronic gadgets. There are many late night bars and various clubs for the partygoer.

3. Surin and Kamala beach; if you are looking for a more relaxed holiday with less tourists, these are the beaches to go to. They are equally nice but more low-key. There is less hotels, restaurants and shops and cater for a few resorts instead. Ii is easy to get to Patong from here on one of the Tuk-Tuks.

If you feel like venture a bit further a field and leave the mainland there are great places to go to. These are more exotic and closer to paradise, some more popular than others.

1. Ko Phi Phi; the Phi Phi Islands used to be hidden gems, known to only a few, but that all changed when the movie “the Beach” was filmed here. Although filmed on the smaller of the 2 islands, the larger one still got great PR and it is now one of the main holiday destinations around the Phuket area. The island is so popular that it is in danger of becoming too overcrowded. Even so, the main beach is stunning. The setting, a secluded bay with greenery surrounding the beach. It is a good location for all water sports and diving tours leave the island daily. It is advisable to book hotels before arriving as it gets fully booked in the high season.

2. Railay; this island is a perfect getaway. It is so remote and secluded that you can only get here by boat. There are no proper roads connecting it to the mainland and it makes the place all the more special. There are various accommodations, restaurants and a few shops. This is a place to sit back and enjoy the scenery. The dinners at night are often eaten at the beach and there are plenty of beach bars.

3. Ko Lanta; although not really in the Phuket area, it is a great island to visit and there are plenty of ways to get there from Phuket and Phi Phi Islands. Ko Lanta is a larger island and although it is similar to the mainland, the pace is slower. If you feel like renting a scooter, this is probably one of the better places as traffic isn’t as intense as elsewhere. You can go elephant trekking in the rainforest, go scuba diving or take a cooking class. The beaches can be rocky and isn’t as good as in Phuket.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What to do in Poland

krakow: market square - aerialImage by smif via Flickr

There are many places to visit in Poland, more so than I first thought when I went there. When people speak of Poland they usually mention Auschwitz or Warsaw as potential sites of interest but there are many places other than these. I have travelled around Europe many times and Poland definitely holds its own. There are beautiful towns, interesting monuments and churches, heritage sites and evidence of the Nazis presence during the Second World War.

These are a few places that I believe are worth a visit:

1. Krakow; a beautiful town with a gorgeous town square. It's a fabulous place to sit down for a meal or a drink. The houses are old fashioned but very well-maintained and beautiful. Krakow is a nice place to make your base for exploring the area. There are lots of places to visit nearby and Krakow itself is a nice place to walk around.

2. Auschwitz; the most well-known of all the Nazi's death camps and well worth a visit for history reasons. The place was left by the Nazis in a hurry so everything is as it was in 1945. The ovens, barracks and photos tell the horrific story of a mass murder of millions.

3. Wieliczka Salt Mine; in Eastern Poland lies this heritage salt mine. It's a fascinating guided tour in the mines where the workers have carved out incredible statues out of the stone. It's the best cave I have ever visited and not like anything you have ever seen before. It's a must if you are around.

4. Wroclaw; one of the nicer towns with a nice castle. That makes for a perfect day out. There are a few older buildings and churches that are worth a look.

5. Wolfschanze, Hitler's Base during World War II; in the Masurian Lake district up in Northern Poland lays Hitler's bunker. It's based in a large forest and you can walk around on your own. It's a place that not many have heard of but that is well worth the visit.

6. Slowinski National Park with the sand dunes, near Leba; this is the Sahara of Poland. You can walk around the sand dunes for hours before you realize it. There is a small museum with aero planes just before you start the journey out to the dunes, a hidden treasure.

7. Warzawa; the capital of Poland is bound to be one of the top destinations for many tourists. I didn't particularly feel it worth the visit. The city is largely rebuilt after the war and high, modern buildings are dominating. There isn't much history there and not too many places to linger. There is a fabulous market just in the outskirts and you can make a good few bargains there.

8. Czestochowa; the religious place to visit in Poland. It's a major Pilgrimage haul and there are long quest to see the museum and the famous tower. Several sightings have been noticed here and for Catholics this is a must.

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Venice hotel for 1 cent per night

What a mistake! Offering luxury hotel rooms for € 1 cent. Cheap accommodation have never been cheaper.

Haven't we all wanted to get hold of that bargain? Well, a few lucky ones probably couldn't believe their luck when the hotel offered a deal for €0.01 per night. Admittedly, it was a mistake but the hotel will still honour the bookings to a reported loss of over €90,000.

It is the 4 star Crowne Plaze in Venice, Italy who made the big error. Over 250 lucky guest were able to pick up the bargain before the hotel was made aware of their error and had it rectified. By then, over 1400 hotel nights were booked. The hotel has declined to comment but some would say that their big loss will turn into a profit as the hotel have got massive PR in the press and television.

As a bargain hunter, how can you seek out these deals and human errors? The best way is probably to stay tuned into all the social networking sites. Did Twitter and Facebook announce it before the hotel closed the loophole? If they did, well, then they might also be able to give you the next big bargain. If not, finding one of these again might be like winning the lotto.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Backpacking in Europe - what to pack?

You are all excited about the trip, you have it all worked out and in your mind you are already on your way. Then you think of that big hurdle, the necessity that you have to do before you go and your enthusiasm dwindles. Well, packing can be bad but if you are organized and know what you are going to do on your trip, it shouldn't be too hard.

Start with your bag. It's the most important friend you have on the trip. You will be depending on this bag day in and day out and in all kinds of weather. The best thing to do is to by a proper backpack which fits your body size and has all the extras that will make the bag so much more comfortable. Choose a backpack that is big enough to fit your things but small enough so you can carry it for a few kilometers. Once you have the backpack, you are one step closer to your holiday.

Before you start putting things into the bag, write a list and place all the items on the bed. When packing a backpack you should place heavy stuff at the bottom and lighter stuff on top so that the bag won't drag you backwards. But first things first, start with the list and write down things you think you need and then you cross them out as you put them in the bag.

1. Necessities; Passport, travel documents, travel insurance, visas etc. Place all important documents in a plastic map so that they won't get destroyed. Hugely important is money and credit cards. Medicines if you have any, aspirins are always good to have. You will also find that maps and guide books are a necessity. Write down important phone numbers to family and friends, to your insurance company, hotels and embassies.

2. Clothes; Bring a pair of sturdy walking shoes, flip flops and sandals, light trousers and shorts. A few T-shirts and a couple of sweaters are necessary. Underwear, socks and PJ`s. A wind and rain proof jacket and a sun hat. Bring a pair of sunglasses too.

3. Toiletries; Bring only what you really need. Soap is lighter than a shower gel for example. Bring the 2in1 shampoo rather than 2 different bottles etc. Leave makeup and perfume at home. Bring a first aid kit and a sewing kit too.

4. Useful things; Sun lotion, mosquito repellent, a book (you can normally swap yours for another in hostels so no need to bring more than 1), a torch, your camera, mp3 player, a water bottle, a pocket knife, tin opener, fork, spoon and knife. Washing powder which works in cold water.

Once you have packed everything in the bag you might find that you have some spare space. If you feel tempted to put another pair of sweaters or jeans in the bag, don't. You have what you need, and the extra luggage will weigh a lot and the likelihood of you needing the extra items is slim. Often you buy things during your travels and then the extra space will come in handy.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where to stay in Las Vegas

DSC00921- Las Vegas - Las Vegas StripImage by SIROBERT YOUNG via Flickr

It's always hard to find a cheap hotel in a place that is as popular as Las Vegas. What makes it even harder is that a lot of the people who come here are backed with cash and so can afford to pay a bit extra. Gamblers will come all year round and so will the people who come to see the spectacular shows but there are periods when the tourist won't come and that is when the great deal might present itself.

Decide what you want with your trip; whether it is looking at a particular show, gambling or just to soak up the atmosphere. Then decide how close you need to be to the main strip. The further out you go, the cheaper the hotels. If you intend to make this a once in a lifetime event, then maybe you should pay that bit extra to be in the middle of everything.

In a place like
Las Vegas there are always going to be cheap accommodation that won't live up to normal standards, as there will be 5 star hotels with everything you ever dreamed of. When you have this much of a variety, the best thing to do is to decide what standard you want and what extras, if any, you are requiring. Then go on the Internet and check for good deals that match what you want and what you are prepare to pay. Some of them might include drink or dinner vouchers, gambling credit etc. If they do, decide whether or not you think this is an offer for you.

A few good ones:

Riviera Hotel and Casino ~ a 3 star hotel located on the North Strip and within walking distance to the main casinos. They have a casino, a spa and dining facilities. The 2000 rooms include all modern cons and there is a safe in each room. Only downside is that you are not allowed to check in on Saturday. Prices range from as low as $70 if you choose mid-week off-peak.

Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino ~ this hotel lies 4 miles from Downtown Las Vegas but within walking distance of the Fashion Show Mall. With a price under $ 100 this might be the place you have been looking for. There is a spa and the hotel has live entertainment. Depending on season, they also have luas.

Tropicana Hotel and Casino ~ this is another 3 star hotel which offers budget accommodation under US 100. Located on the South Strip and connected via walkways to the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino this is in a prime location. The hotel boosts 7 restaurants and 2 bars. There is a five-acre garden and a pool complex as well as live entertainment. If you book on the Internet they give you special discounts and tw0-for-one admissions to certain places.

Bally's Las Vegas ~ this hotel is located on the Centre Strip and puts you right in the middle of all the action. They have live entertainment with a famous showgirl extravaganza, spas with various treatments and in the casino they have poker games, roulette, craps and blackjack tables. Prices around $ 150 it's a bit pricy but well worth it.

MGM and Grand Hotel Casino ~ if you are looking for a bit of a treat this 4 star hotel is well worth the money. Prices range from around $200. It is located on the south end of the Strip in Las Vegas and is near to a lot of action. There are 16 restaurants in the complex which also features a spa with fitness center, saunas, steam rooms and spa tubs. The hotel has over 5000 rooms and 6 nightclubs, a real treat for you.

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