Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category.

Your Guide for Backpacker’s Travel Insurance

It doesn’t really matter if you are living abroad for an extended stay or you’re trotting the globe looking for some adventure, you always need some protection that comes with travel insurance policies. Provided that you select a right insurance coverage, you can free your mind from worries of what you will do if your trip doesn’t proceed the way you have perceived. Luckily, you can find a variety of insurance packages, but when it is about an extended stay in another country, you will be better off taking out backpacker’s travel insurance.

It is always a great idea to opt for such insurance because it comes with several benefits. For instance:

  • This is one fine way of getting extended coverage for a period of 18 months or even more.
  • When you pick this particular insurance, you get yourself covered for all medical expenses as well as cancellation, interruption or delay of travel schedules.
  • You may want to consider getting such an insurance plan if you are an exchange student because this also helps you get repayment for your student loan.
  • Since there are several insurance providers, it is possible to find such backpacker’s travel insurance policies that charge you nothing as additional fees for several sports and activities, such as white water rafting, jet skiing, bungee jumping and more.
  • Provided that you do some research, you can also get coverage for winter sports equipment.

Do You Really Need Backpacker’s Travel Insurance Policies?

Although the benefits of purchasing such policies are many, some people still doubt whether they should choose it or not. However, it is a fact that these policies are in your best interest because you never know when you need some medical attention while on a backpacking trip. Another reason why you should seriously think of buying this coverage is that it doesn’t cost you a lot. Compared to other types of travel insurance, this one is quite cheap and you can have it even if you are on a tight budget.

Picking the Best Backpacker’s Travel Insurance Policies:

If you understand the important of such coverage and are on the lookout for the best deal, you should consider shopping around. It is possible to find some deals too tempting to leave, but you should be willing to make a comparison using a comparison site. Just make sure the site you choose offers insurance plans from a number of carriers. Some sites are affiliated with a few carriers and they often keep you from finding the best deal. You need to keep this in mind and compare insurance policies not only for their overall cost but also for the benefits they offer. Not only do you need to know what a policy covers, but you also need to know what is not covered under a plan. So, keep all these points in mind and be ready to conduct some research to be able to pick the best backpacker’s travel insurance.

Top 3 of the World’s Busiest Airports

The activity level of an airport can be measured in one of 2 ways, by aircraft operations or passenger traffic. Aircraft operations are defined by the FFA by a takeoff or landing, and passenger traffic is simply defined as the number of total passengers. A single passenger is described as someone who arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport on a given day. The top three busiest airports listed below are based on passenger traffic. It is paramount that airports as busy as these three offer more than just a mode of transportation. In order to satisfy that many impatient travelers these airports must also offer easy access to concessions, an easy way to commute between gates, and much more.

1) Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is located at 6000 North Terminal Parkway in Atlanta Georgia. This is the largest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic with 89,331,622 passengers during the entire 2010 year. It is on pace to maintain this status with 6,348,118 passengers for just the month of January 2011. The airport is 4,700 acres in size and has five runways. It offers an automated underground people mover in order to help travelers maneuver through the 199 gates. It connects all concourses within the terminal and consists of nine, four-car trains that operate on a 3.5 mile track. Also, while you’re there waiting for your flight there are plenty of concessions to keep your mind occupied. The airport contains 263 total outlets. 114 of those are food and beverage outlets, 90 are retail and convenience outlets, 3 duty free stores, and 56 service outlets, which consist of postal service, a banking center, a lottery outlet, a shoe shine parlor, ATMs, and spas. The concessions spaces cover roughly 230,000 square feet of the airport.

2) Beijing Capital International Airport
The Beijing Capital International airport has quickly grown over the past decade to be the world’s second largest airport with 73,891,801 passengers during 2010. As of the end of January 2011 it is maintain its status as the 2nd busiest airport in the world. It is located about 20 miles northeast of Beijing’s city center. The airport is owned and operated by a state controlled company, the Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited. It is also the main hub for Air China which is the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China. The airport contains 3 terminals:

  • Terminal 1 – Currently houses the domestic routes of Hainan Airlines and its subsidiaries.
  • Terminal 2 – Serves China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, SkyTeam members and other domestic and international flights.
  • Terminal 3 – Serves Air China, Star Alliance, OneWorld Members, and some domestic and international flights that do not operate from the other 2 terminals. Also the newest of the 3 terminals.

The airport also houses a food service area that is commonly called the “global kitchen.” The name derives from the 72 stores that offer a wide variety of food. The dishes vary from formal entrées, fast food joints, Chinese food, Western style cuisine, baked goods, ice cream, and more. In addition to the “global kitchen,” there is also a 12,600 square meter retail area, a 10,600 duty-free store area, and a 7,000 square meter convenience area.

3) O’Hare International Airport
In 2010, the O’Hare International Airport was the world’s third largest airport in terms of passenger traffic with 66,665,390 passengers. However, as of the end of January 2011 it has dropped to #5. In order to maintain its status as the world’s third busiest airport it must exceed passenger traffic of both the London Heathrow Airport and the Tokyo International Airport for the remaining months of 2011.

The O’Hare International Airport is located in the northwestern corner of Chicago Illinois. It serves as the primary hub for United Airlines. The airport was voted the “Best Airport in North America” for 10 years by two separate sources: Readers of the U.S. Edition of Business Traveler Magazine (1998–2003) and Global Traveler Magazine (2004–2007). It contains 5 terminals; however, only 4 of the 5 are operational. Terminal 4 was taken out of operation in 1993 and now serves as the airport’s facility for CTA buses, hotel shuttles, and other transportation. The airport also contains multiple shops and activities for long layovers, including, the Chicago History Museum Gift Shop, the BackRub Hub, a full service medical clinic, and an interfaith chapel just to name a few.

Erica Gustafson is a freelance writer and consultant for Expedia. She writes about her travel experiences as well as other travel related posts sparked from her journeys.

5 of the Best Games to Entertain the Kids

A holiday with the whole family is one of life’s little joys but we all know kids need entertaining. If possible you want their every minute to be filled while you’re away; after all it’s your holiday too. Keep them busy and you just might get some quiet time on the beach to lay back, enjoy the sun and get lost in a good book. So how do you achieve the holiday holy grail of happily entertained children? Games are the answer and below are a few of the best. The kids will love them and so might the inside of you.

1. The Bat and Ball – It’s a classic and for good reason. No complicated rules to explain and you can play it anywhere – although knee-deep in the sea is the most fun. All you need is a bat and ball set that you can buy from pretty much any shop near a beach and it’s game on. It’s great fun and you could even argue it teaches the kids teamwork since you have to work together to keep the ball up.

2. Hide and Seek – Most definitely invented by a parent on holiday this genius game not only gets the kids out of your way for a while but they try their hardest to make as little noise as possible – perfect for any parent wanting to enjoy some poolside peace and quiet. You don’t need any equipment but you might want to set boundaries for how far they can go, you don’t want them crossing national borders or anything like that, we all know how competitive kids can be!

3. Cards – Not a game per se but a whole world of games perfect for a calm evening sitting byb the sea, sun burn glowing in the light of the Mosquito coil. With a deck of cards you get and endless supply of games that are as simple as snap, or as elaborate as bridge so they can suit kids of any age and adults can play too. Perfect for some quality time together. Get some practice in before you fly by playing at a Heathrow airport hotel and you’ll be the holiday champion.

4. Wave riding – Whether they try and catch a wave and ride it onto the beach or just spend a few hours jumping them like hurdles, kids love waves, in fact everybody loves waves. The best thing about games involving waves is not even that grown-up kids love them too, it’s that playing in waves is really tiring so you’re guaranteed to have worn out the kids by the time they’re finished.

5. I-spy -– Another game that can be played anywhere by anyone, and that’s what makes it great. You can play I-spy at home and it’s great fun, but throw in the all-new and amazing surroundings of a holiday and you’ve got a real winner. Just think about what you can spy at the beach, the possibilities are endless.

When to Go to Asia?

They say that the best time of the year to visit Asia is during the autumn or the winter. Why? Well, autumn marks the end of the monsoon season and the weather is much dryer. Temperatures are lower and more pleasant for sightseeing. The only catch is that autumn is the start of the high season so you will probably have more difficulties finding cheap flights to Asia. As winter arrives, the tourists flock to some of the most popular destinations in Asia, such as Thailand, India, China and Japan. This is because the temperatures are low and just perfect for sightseeing.

Spring is also a popular time to visit destinations such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, the Philippines, Bali and some areas of China. However, other areas may be experiencing intense heat and humidity which makes sightseeing rather unpleasant. I would not advise visiting Asia during the summer because this is when the temperatures are at their highest and the monsoon season is in full swing.

So it would appear that although the best time of the year to visit Asia is during the autumn or the winter, this is when airline tickets are most expensive, because it is the high season. I personally would recommend organising to go during the spring, the start of the low season, as this is when you are likely to get cheap flights, as well as cheap accommodation and there will be fewer tourists. The weather should be okay too.

This is a general overview. If you want to find out what the weather is like in a particular Asian country, you should do further research on the internet. By doing this you will know exactly where to go or avoid during the spring and summer.

Tips for finding flights to Asia

To find flights, I would recommend spending quite a bit of time doing various searches online until you find the best deal. Try searching different dates, days and months (if you are flexible about travelling of course) until you find the right deal. Some of the airlines you should consider booking with are British Airways, Thai Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Reasons to go on Safari in Tanzania

tanzania safariTanzania situated in central east Africa is a country that can offer so much. It is the land with such dramatic and diverse landscapes encompassing famous and romantic places including Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and The Serengeti. The Serengeti National Park is packed full of magnificent scenes of natural beauty and absolute wonders of the earth. The wildlife the country offers is truly astounding and the historical importance is amazing.
Tanzania has the oldest known inhabited areas on earth that date back 2 million years. It was also believed to have supported pre-historic hunter gatherer tribes. There is evidence of such people in specialist areas within Tanzania. In addition, the tourist industries surrounding Tanzania holidays are forward thinking and innovative. They are known to support many poverty alleviation and environmental protective schemes, using local resources wherever possible and providing fair pay rates to their employees. Tanzania adventure holidays can be a unique and unforgettable experience.

The word safari is said to mean ‘travel’ in the Swahili language and there’s certainly much exotic travelling to do on safari in Tanzania. One can travel to many exotic and scenic locations that are teaming with native wildlife.
Lake Manyara is one such exotic place. It is a massive alkaline lake that supports flocks of pink flamingos, en route there are herds of elephants and tree climbing big cats to be spotted. On the vast Serengeti plains herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelle gracefully graze along with giraffe, buffalo and warthog. There’s also a chance to view the natural predators of these grazing animals in action, big cats such as lions, cheetah and leopards roam around the plains, sniffing the air for potential prey. The Ngorangoro Crater is an enormous crater left by a collapsed volcano. It is 16 miles in diameter and is covered on its sides by lush, dense forest. In its crater is natural grassland, wetland and a lake, ideal for supporting further magnificent African wildlife. Tanzania adventure holidays provide superb wildlife adventures.

The Olduvai Gorge is the area where the ancient archaeology can be found.
Also known as the ‘Cradle of mankind’, the gorge is said to hold the secrets of man’s early evolutionary heritage. Fossils have been found here that date back 2 million years. For those that want to immerse themselves in the culture of the people on Tanzania holidays, the experienced guides know of friendly local villages spread across the Rift valley escarpments that welcome tourists and can actively involve them in village activities. These activities can vary from traditional brick making in wood fired kilns to milking goats or jewellery making.

Accommodation on a big game safari in Tanzania can be varied but always safe and comfortable. There are bush campsites, (often with swimming pools), which allows the appreciation of the countryside and wildlife and are always fully staffed to provide excellent catering arrangements. There is also the opportunity of experiencing luxury camping involving thatched tented accommodation complete with en suite facilities and gourmet meals.
Comfortable lodges are another possibility while enjoying Tanzania holidays.
Tanzania adventure holidays offer lots of choice, there is something for everyone.

Learn How to Speak Beer

Good Advice for Traveling to Asia

asiaTraveling to Asia gives you a perfect experience where you can exercise your new language learning experiences, if you’ve mastered one of the many languages spoken in Asia. Since one of the best ways to learn a language—and to use it, once you’ve learned it—is by traveling and living in the country where the language is spoken, traveling to Asia can be a great way to further develop some of the new languages you learned.

As you probably figured, though, traveling to Asia is not like traveling to a destination inside the United States, or even like Canada or Europe. Not only is the language structure very different in many Asian countries, but the things that you need to know before traveling are also very different. Here are some things to keep in mind as you travel to Asia, and before you get there:

  1. Be prepared in advance for a long flight. The biggest thing you need to remember about getting from the United States to Asia is that your flight, no matter what part of Asia you’re traveling to, or where in the United States you’re leaving from, is going to be long. Plan on having a flight that is at least several hours, and bring enough with you to either help you sleep, or keep you entertained during the flight. Your flight will be even longer if you’re traveling from Europe, and you may want to make the decision to buy a business class seat where you can be more comfortable.
  2. Remember to get your visa before you go—and do it well in advance of when you plan to travel. Many Asian countries require that travelers from the United States and Europe have tourist visas before traveling. You may need to get these months in advance of when you travel, unless you are willing to pay for expediting costs or you have a business that is sending you to Asia.
  3. Keep an open mind with regard to food. Asia presents many opportunities to try food that you’ve never heard of, and probably have never tried. Don’t try to seek out familiar, Western food when you’re traveling in Asia. Instead, take advantage of this experience and try new foods that you definitely won’t be able to get as take out at home.
  4. Remember that not all hotels are like those we have in the United States. This tip is very similar to the idea of keeping your mind open about food. Although many American and European chains do have locations in Asian countries, don’t expect even from those chains that you’re going to have the same level of amenities and room that you’d have in an American hotel room. In the larger cities, such as Tokyo and Beijing, space is at a premium and you’re going to have to accept up front that your hotel room may be smaller than what you’re anticipating.

Taking More Cruises in Asia

vietnam cruiseTo Westerners, the Far East is a place of perceived mysticism, magic and diversity. Travellers can read as much as they want about Asia, but when it comes down to it, there is only one way to experience this marvellous part of the globe – first hand.

There are a wide variety of ways to experience the Far East, but the most comfortable mode of transport is surely aboard a luxury cruise ship. Azamara Cruises specialise in providing travellers with luxurious lodgings, unrivalled service and a wide variety of onboard entertainment whilst en route to exotic port destinations. Some of the cruise operator’s most notable Asian destinations include:

Halong Bay, Vietnam – This enchanting bay offers visitors the opportunity to explore one of the most unique landscapes on the planet. The bay is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the Quảng Ninh Province. The bay’s name translated directly to “Descending Dragon Bay” and features thousands of limestone karsts and spire-like islands.

Kobe, Japan – The sixth largest city in Japan and home to the world famous Kobe beef, this city is an essential stop for travellers discovering the Far East. The city is also well known for its Arima Onsen (hot springs), which allow visitors to experience true Japanese peace and tranquillize without having to travel far from the city.

Phuket, Thailand – There is a reason that this island is such a popular tourist destination. The Andaman coast is known for its breathtaking scenery, world-class diving and rock climbing. However, when visiting Phuket, why not opt for something a little different? The Haad Nai Yang National park is on the north-western side of the island and gives travellers access to 35 square miles of unspoilt tropical rainforest
There really is no better way to experience the Far East than aboard a luxury cruise. Courtesy of Azamara Cruises, you will get to see the world in the lap of luxury.

Staying Comfortable on Long International Flights

long haul flightFor most travelers, booking Viking River Cruises or multi-city land tours is extremely exciting but, for some, the thrill of visiting a far-away destination can be tainted by the thought of the long international flight that is required to get them there. Most travelers agree, being uncomfortable on a long flight can definitely start what should be a pleasant holiday off on the wrong foot, but there are ways to help your necessary travel time be as comfortable as possible.

Reserve a good seat
Even within the same class, some airplane seats are much better than others. Consider an aisle or exit row seat for the most leg room, or a window seat if you want to rest your head to sleep. It’s best to try to avoid seats near the lavatories as other passengers will be accessing these throughout the flight which can be disruptive, particularly if you are trying to sleep. Some travelers opt to sit near the back of the aircraft for long flights. This is good if you don’t mind the noise produced by the engines because certain aircraft (such as the Boeing 747), have a large area behind the last row of seats that gives you plenty of space to stretch.

Be Comfortable

When taking a long flight, it is always wise to wear loose clothes with options for layering if you become cold. Also, if you want to take your shoes off during a flight, slip-on shoes are best since shoes that tie can be difficult to put back on at the end of the flight. Bring a neck pillow to provide firm neck support and keep your head from tilting while napping. There are small neck pillows available that can easily fit into your carry-on luggage and even some inflatable options that are smaller still.

Prevent Boredom
Make sure you bring things to entertain yourself during the flight. Even if you happen to be interested in the in-flight movie, they don’t start right away and the music selection can be quite limited. If you bring an iPod, you will make sure you have the music and movies that you like. If possible, choose an airline that offers AVOD (Audio Video on Demand), which is a TV screen in front of your seat that lets you choose what you want to watch or listen to. Regardless, it’s a good idea to bring your own headphones as the headphones available on the plane (whether for purchase or for free) are generally fairly poor quality. In addition, it’s good to always have a book and magazines with you since unforeseen flight delays could prevent the in-flight entertainment from being available and could cause your iPod to run out of battery before your flight is over.

Stay Hydrated
The air in a plane is very dry and may dehydrate your system so it’s extremely important to stay hydrated during your flight. Although you can request water from the flight attendants, it is a good idea to bring plenty of water on board with you as well. You can purchase bottled water in the airport (once you pass security) or, if you prefer, you can bring an empty stainless steel water bottle to fill from a water fountain. Just remember that you should never drink the water from airplane bathrooms as it may contain bacteria.

Fight Hunger
There’s nothing worse than being hungry on a plane. Since plane food is quite poor on many airlines, you may want to consider bringing your own food on board to make sure that you are not hungry during the long flight. As an alternative to the regular meals, many airlines offer vegetarian, Kosher and other special meals if you order in advance. Because the airlines have to specially prepare your meal, it is always fresher (and usually better) than the standard meal options. Plus, passengers with special meal requests are almost always served first. In addition, take some snacks with you. Protein bars are particularly helpful if on a long flight as airline meals tend to be low in protein.

By following these few tips, you can help make your flight more comfortable which will make it more likely that you will land feeling happy and ready to start your vacation.

The Maldives

maldivesThis is a guest post.

Last year we traveled to the Maldives for our honeymoon and I can honestly say that it is heaven on earth. The Maldives is the smallest country in Asia and it is made up of around 1,190 coral islands, which are surrounded by warm cobalt blue waters. It is just paradise! I would definitely recommend this destination to anyone who wants a luxury holiday or romantic break.

Just imagine waking up in a luxury villa and looking out the window of your room to see translucent waters below you. That is exactly what it is like in many resorts in the Maldives. We stayed in one of the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa’s water villas, which was actually located in the sea. The photographs we had looked at of our villa prior to traveling were nice, but seeing and experiencing it in person is something else. We had breakfast every morning on the beach before soaking up the sun and exploring the coral reefs.

As you can imagine, a holiday in the Maldives is not cheap. You will definitely pay for peace, luxury and exclusivity, and of course the service you receive is faultless. From our experience you are more likely to spend less by booking all-inclusive packages or full board deals, which include flights, transfers, accommodation and catering. However, it is a good idea to shop around as you can still find cheap flights and accommodation by booking them separately online. We flew with British Airways, which is one of the most popular airlines offering direct flights from London Gatwick to Malé International Airport.

A holiday in the Maldives will probably be the most expensive you ever go on, but it is a once in a lifetime experience. Get your money box out and start saving now!