It’s a new year, and as you look to the next 365 days ahead, you’re likely thinking of where your next vacation will take you. With recent events around the world, and seemingly dangerous situations often occurring where you’d least expect it, you might even be a bit wary about whether you should go at all.
Well, we’re here to tell you that you should absolutely NOT scrap your travel plans. Instead, it’s all about traveling safely, and being prepared in order to mitigate any risk while still living a life full of exploration, culture, and new experiences.
To shortlist some travel tips you should familiarize yourself with, we’ve compiled a list of the top 22 you should know before you go!
- Most attackers strive to be inconspicuous. Therefore, yelling “Help!” if someone approaches you in a public space might be enough to scare them away when they realize you’re willing to put up a fight.
- If someone gets close enough to attack you, don’t be afraid to attack back. Identify the most vulnerable body parts to go after first, including eyes, knee caps, bridge of nose, etc.
- When walking solo in an unfamiliar area, keeps keys in your hand, that can be used as a weapon if necessary.
- Always walk facing traffic. It prevents someone from sneaking up behind you without being detected.
- If you ever feel slightly suspicious, or scared in your surroundings, have a security guard escort you to your car. In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- If ever you’re being chased, run towards the nearest public area or police/fire station to seek help.
- Always be cautious when approaching your vehicle. Scan for suspicious activity, survey the side and underbelly of the vehicle from a distance as your approach it. That is often the best way to spot someone looking to “surprise” you.
- If someone barely bumps into your car, and you suspect it could be an opportunity to rob you, don’t get out of your car. Instead, head to the nearest police station to file a report.
- Avoid the ability for car-jackers to get you between a rock and a hard place. Don’t get boxed in at intersections by making sure you leave a few extra feet between you and surrounding cars in the event you need to move quickly.
- Keep your car keys on a separate ring from your home and office keys. This way, if you lose one, you won’t lose everything.
- Keep a written inventory of all valuables and important documents when traveling.
- Be cautious of who you alert to your vacation plans, especially when it comes to making announcements on social media. To be on the safe side, wait until you return to post all your trip pics.
- Ensure your hotel room has a safe to store valuables, passports, etc. while you’re out on the town.
- Inquire whether the hotel has a 24-hour security person or system in place for the premises.
- Check to make sure all locks in the room operate correctly, including sliding glass doors that lead to a balcony or walkway.
- Beware of your body language. Make sure you communicate confidence at all times. Looking confused or lost is often an invitation for someone who wants to take advantage of you and your situation.
- Even when spots are hard to come by, refrain from parking next to a large vehicle or van that hides your car. This makes you an easy target.
- When traveling abroad, make note of the name, address, and phone number to the nearest Embassy or Consulate.
- Keep a throw-away wallet on you when traveling. In case someone demands it, you won’t lose your valuable items.
- Keep your money, and identification documents in a belt pouch or hidden pocket to make it hard as possible for a robber to gain access to.
- Beware of the local standards and customs of dress to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb or offending the locals.
- Always choose elevators over stairs.
Sure, at first thought, it seems highly inconvenient. You have to pack extra clothes, leaving less room in your luggage for impulse purchases. And unless you’ve been there before, you likely have no idea what you’ll be working with. So, there’s that. And now, you’ve likely convinced yourself that its more hassle than it’s worth, and this will be the perfect out to take a break from your fitness routine while you’re away.
But, traveling is no excuse not to live your healthiest life. In fact, all it takes is a shift in perspective. Instead of looking at it like another chore you have to cross off your to-do list each day, start thinking of it as your favorite part of the day, your non-negotiable. After all, the better you treat (and take care of) yourself, the better you’ll be to everyone and everything else in your life.
“Often times, the reason we dread our daily workout,” claims Freestyle Adventurist Bradley Nordmeyer, “is because we get stuck in a rut of the same routines in the same place, and that’s bound to get boring.”
It also keeps you from challenging yourself. Your body and mind get stuck in a ho-hum pattern, and traveling gives you the perfect excuse to break free of those boundaries of regularity. If you’re still not convinced, here’s 4 reasons to look forward to your away workouts.
- Change of Scenery: Perhaps you’re an urban dweller headed to an outdoor oasis. Check out local hiking trails. Walking or running a scenic path sure beats a treadmill at the gym, and when your mind is distracted by all the sights to see, your workout will be over before you know it.
- Challenge Your Body: A new gym might offer new equipment that your body isn’t accustomed to. By trying new things, you might discover something you love, and challenge other parts of your body that might not otherwise get worked.
- Natures Obstacle Course: Jogging on a rubber track doesn’t inspire anyone, even if it’s suspended above the basketball courts. But try it on a gravel path and suddenly you notice the most minute bits of nature. Try pushups by a creek bed, run sprints up a river dam. The fresh air alone should fuel some extra energy, and you’ll be kicking and screaming when it’s time to go back inside.
- Fit Cultures: What might be the norm in your town could be completely different in another city, and it’s the perfect reason to try a new type of sport. Care for a little canoeing to work those arms? Perhaps some mountain biking? Scale some sand dunes? Or even a little cross-country snow shoeing? You’re bound to feel the burn and its guaranteed to be a workout you won’t soon forget, and you might even pick up a new favorite past time.
As you can see, working out doesn’t have to be the laborious chore we’ve made it. Think back to when we were kids. We’d run and play all day, and we didn’t even think of it as exercise. Because we made it fun. That’s the exact mentality we should re-adopt. After all, taking care of your body should be the one “To Do” that you actually want to do. So, on your next trip, find a way to fit it into your agenda!
By Robert Riesmeyer, Travel Agent
The travel bug bit me as a child in the 60’s and 70’s, when my parents would load me up, and we’d spend summers touring the country by car. That sense of wanderlust was further ignited in my college days when I had the opportunity to see Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico for myself. Perhaps, that’s what prompted me to become a professional travel adviser, as there was no shortage of places I wanted to see.
Which is what makes the often-asked question, “What is your favorite destination?” an impossible comparison of apples to oranges.
Every destination that I have visited is distinct, where no two are exactly the same. The experiences that I have gained in each destination have touched me in different ways. So, the only way I can answer that question is to say that every place is my favorite, each is unique and each has provided me a book’s worth of stories and memories that I won’t soon forget.
Determining which sand to sink your toes into this winter can be a cumbersome task. Let’s face it, there are so many destinations and only so many days of vacation time with which to gamble. Fortunately, we’ve done the heavy lifting, combed through all of the options, and perhaps created a few of our own impulse itineraries, all for the sake of bringing you the best beaches under the sun. Now the hardest decision you’ll have to make is deciding which one(s) will get priority status on your 2018 calendar!
1. Grace Bay: Ranked #1 the world over, Grace Bay is situated in the iconic Turks and Caicos islands. Sun-kissed sands invite you in, where you can’t help but appreciate the purity and perfection, with]a beach free of pollutants. For those willing to go all in, you’ll be rewarded with the awe-inspiring barrier reef just off shore.
2. Pink Sands Beach: Appropriately named after it’s uniquely hued sands, this Bahamian beauty gives a new meaning to Breathtaking. When you see the stunning contrast it makes with the turquoise-tinted waters, you’ll know why this locale is the talk of Harbour Island.
3. Hidden Beach: This is a must for any true wanderlust. Otherwise tucked back from the outside world, this oasis is truly a hidden gem. Boasting a true aquatic wonderland, and limiting the number of visitors that can be there at any given time, you won’t have to worry about overcrowding as you explore the vast tunnels and waterways that abound. But, as they say, everything worth having is worth working for, and you’ll have to swim through a tunnel an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta in order to see these shores.
4. Trunk Bay: Although its name doesn’t do it justice, this has to be one of the most sought after spots on St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Nestled just at the bottom of a bluff, this beach boasts the world’s first underwater national park. Grab your snorkel gear and follow the trail of stones, each dedicated to a different sea creature you are likely to see along the way. And with water so clear and calm, this place feels so right, you’d think it HAS to be wrong!
5. Baia Dos Porcos: If you’re craving an off-the grid and unplugged experience, head no further than Brazil. This beach is tucked back and isn’t what you would call “low hanging fruit” because you’re going to work a bit to get there. But, your efforts won’t be in vain when you feast your eyes on this isolated patch of paradise. This is what we consider the perfect way to avoid a tourist trap!
6. Pig Beach: The words saltwater and swimming pigs is not usually synonymous. Unless you’re in the Exuma’s, that is. This Bahamian isle is home to luxury resorts, some of the bluest waters in the world, and pigs that will swim beside you. They’ve certainly made a name for themselves, as this is the only place in the world you can check this experience off your bucket list.
7. Blue Lagoon: Not just the stuff of movies, Blue Lagoon is one of the many beautiful bounties of Fiji. A snorkeler’s dream and photographers delight, we guarantee you’ll be awe-struck at the mangrove maze that surrounds the beach, complementing the soft turquoise with its emerald green stature rising high. You’ll definitely want to have your camera focused in when you arrive by seaplane, because the sight from above is one that can’t be beat.
8. Reynisfjara Beach: If (and when) you make it to Iceland, you owe it to yourself to include this spot on your itinerary. Exquisite in its own right, you’ll immediately be drawn in by the black sand creating a beautifully eerie contrast to the light waters. Giant basalt rock formations dot the shores and showcase the enormous cave mouths within, beckoning you to come closer.
9. Honokalani Beach: If Iceland is a stretch, but you’re still set on seeing sand as black as coal, Hawaii holds its own beachy treasure. This island oasis also brings to the table a lush green foliage to create eye-candy overload. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll learn that this 122 acre land mass is made up of intricate lava tubes, blowholes, and spring-fed sea caves. This place is ideal for someone not willing to compromise on beauty OR adventure.
10. Elafonissi Beach: A Greek Isle disguised as a Caribbean hot spot, there is so much more to this beach than the pink sands under your feet. Magnificent wildlife runs rampant among the sand lilies and junipers dotting the landscape. Enveloped in rolling sand dunes, this piece of the pie is prime for the European dream-seeker.
11. Boulders Beach: If you ever find yourself on a South African safari, make sure you direct your driver to take you to Cape Peninsula. Here, you’ll find pure white sands adorned with huge granite boulders that glisten in the 295 days of annual sunshine here. Whether you frolic in the rock pools or among the beaches boardwalk, you’re bound to come face to face with the local penguins that nest here where they’re protected.
These are just a few of our favorite locations that will give you an experience you won’t soon forget. Whoever said a beach is a beach has never set foot on any of these signature shores. Until next time, happy traveling!
Provence is located in the southeastern region of France, approximately eight hours away from the city of Love, Paris. If you’re in France, it’s worth the trip over to see Provence, the beautiful area that was documented famously in Peter Mayle’s book, A Year in Provence. The author tells his journey of moving to a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs.
Provence is a nice place to visit and, just like Mayle, you may even want to live there and there’s good reason why. First let’s start with the amazing produce and food in the Provencal weekly markets where you can find fish, bread, pastries, olive oils, wine and fruits. Then there’s the beauty of the area, with its lavender fields and sunflowers, olive groves, and vineyards. Speaking of beauty, you must see the Senanque Abbey, Gordes but you must visit this particular attraction between June and August when the lovely lavenders are in bloom. Here you can see the lavender tours and it’s been said that lavender is the soul of Provence, and its Valensole Plateau where you can see most of the lavender fields.
This beauty has been an attraction to some of the most amazing writers and artists of our time including Picasso, Matisse and Chagall.
In Aix-en-Provence, it is Cezanne’s life and work that is celebrated at his former studio.
There’s so much more to see in the area including Pope’s Palace, Avignon, also called Palais des Papes, which was the residence for six popes and is one of the world’s largest and most important gothic buildings.
Provence is also about the arts and it is festival season in the summer, so be sure to catch one while you are there too. You have your pick, including Festival d’Avignon, Orange’s celebration of opera, Choregies d’Orange; and a citywide international photography exhibition in Arles, the Rencontres.
Whatever the reason is that you are visiting Provence, France doesn’t matter. You’re here enjoying the beauty, food, culture and art that the area offers. Contact your travel agent to arrange your vacation details.
Travel Benefits By Design
This 200-square mile island is one of the largest of the Mariana Islands, an overseas territory of the United States, and is jam packed with millions of visitors every year.
It might be a popular tourist attraction, but its Chamorro residents are laid-back, so make sure you say Håfa Adai, which means greetings, go at a slower pace and enjoy the sites and attractions of the area.
Keep in mind, however, that when you arrive, it’s probably going to be hot – and humid. If you’re looking for cooler weather, visit between January and March. To cool off, head to the coral sand of Tumon Beach, but you might have a hard time finding a place to put your toes in the sand. It’s the most popular attraction on the island, especially with its Underwater World waterpark that has a 300-foot long walk through tunnel aquarium.
For unforgettable views of Tumon Beach and the island, head up to Two Lovers Point, a cliff-side lookout point, which plunges 400 feet into Pacific Ocean. The point is named after two young lovers who were forbidden by their families to be together, so they leapt to their death together from the cliff.
If you want to relax on a quieter beach, try FaiFai Powder Sand Beach — check out the limestone cave while you’re there – or the more secluded Ritidian and Talofofo Bay.
While in Guam, do that the Chamorro people do and immerse yourself in their culture. There is the Gef Pa’go village where each hut in his living museum is staffed by a Chamorro who teaches traditional crafts, arts and cooking, including how to husk a coconut to make coconut oil and coconut candy, and how to weave sleeping mats and make rope from coconut leaves and other organic materials.
There are many festivals held each year, including a procession in honor of Santa Marian Kamalen, the island’s patron saint, on December 8 each year. Catholics spill on to the streets of Hagåtña to celebrate their faith and culture.
While you’re in Guam, you should take a sunset cruise around the island, swim with the fishes or the dolphins, enjoy the fire dancers at a dinner show and play around. There’s plenty to do, such as paddle boarding, kayaking, beach volleyball, fishing, snorkeling and hiking.
For more information on Guam or to organize a trip to this magnificent island, contact your travel agent.
Travel Benefits By Design
Looking for the perfect place to spend your honeymoon? The choices around the world are endless and the decision as to where to stay can be overwhelming, especially when you have so many other wedding details to take care of.
To make your selection just a little easier, here are just a few of the best honeymoon hotels in the country.
Shangri-La Hotel: The definition of the word Shangri-La is a fictional land of peace and perpetual youth, but if Shangri-la were a real place, it would be this hotel in Paris. The Shangri-La Hotel has the most amazing, stunning, unbelievable view of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine and should be the only reason to put this hotel on the top of your list. It truly puts the romance in your honeymoon. But if that’s not enough for you, then perhaps enjoying your meals in a two Michelin-starred restaurant or sleeping in one of the most opulent rooms of this elegant hotel will make you feel like honeymoon royalty.
Conrad Bora Bora Nui: In another part of the world, you’ll find another paradise in Bora Bora. Here, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui is brand new, but it already ranks as one of the most beautiful places you can enjoy your first few days as a married couple. It’s located in a private cove on Motu To’opua, and you can stay in a bungalow that straddles the water or dine in a lounge with a glass floor. Pamper yourself at the spa or enjoy the infinity pool, mini golf and water activities. Do we even have the mention that you could just sit on the soft sand and watch the beautiful colorful seas?
Amangiri: Some of the most beautiful honeymoon escapes are found right here in the United States. This one, in Canyon Point, Utah, is a perfect hideaway that’s tucked right in the canyons of the American Southwest. The views of the desert and rock formations are absolutely stunning. Once the wedding is over, the Amangiri can help the couple to relax and focus inward with a 25,000-square-foot spa that works on the Navajo principles of earth, wind, fire and water. Here you can enjoy massages, scrubs, wraps and flotation therapy.
Travel Benefits By Design
It’s your morning cup of Joe, your java, cup of mud, and maybe even your Rocket Fuel. Whatever you call your coffee, it is one of the most popular beverages in the world. If you like the drink so much that you want to see a coffee plantation up close, there are a few trips you can take for a tour and a lesson.
First, head on over to the Hawaiian islands, where there are many coffee plantations that offer complimentary tours, such as the Kauai Coffee company and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. The Kona Coffee Living History Farm participates in the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in November that includes a pageant, farm tours and art exhibits.
Coffee production is a huge part of Costa Rica’s history and here you can explore its production. You’ll see the coffee blossom from little seed to fruit and how the pulp is removed and the coffee is made. There are tours of Doka Estate, Cafe Monteverde and the Don Juan Coffee Tour, as well as a tour of the 640-acre Espiritu Santo’s Arabica coffee plantation located in Naranjo. At the Doka Estate, for example, you will learn about every stage of the coffee making process, including how to harvest by hand. You’ll see the 121-year old water mill and get a tour of the 478-acre estate.
On the island of Jamaica, it’s all about the coffee, mon! Okay, it’s about the rum too, but coffee is a huge part of the island, especially with the majestic Blue Mountains coffee plantation, where coffee is grown at more than 3,000 feet.
In Chiang Mai, Thailand, you must visit Doi Inthanon National Park, where you can walk around the Arabica coffee trees and then, of course, enjoy a cup. There’s also India’s Tamara Coffee Estate in Coorg, where you can actually stay on a coffee plantation and learn how to brew your own coffee with your own picked beans.
Last, but not least, coffee lovers can head down to São Paulo, Brazil and take a two-hour tour of the history of Brazilian coffee at the “Fazenda de Café” or book a trip to Antigua, Guatemala to tour the De la Gente coffee plantation. It’s a non-profit that grows 100% Arabica coffee on the slopes of volcanoes. You’ll walk through coffee fields and then brew your own on a hot cooking plate.
Travel Benefits By Design
Seattle is a city on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. It is a beautiful city surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests. It’s a central location with plenty for the traveler to do. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Pike Place Market: This marketplace is truly the heart and soul of Seattle. It is located in Seattle’s downtown and hosts a wide variety of goods for sale. Sellers are from the community, being local artisans, farmers, crafters, and small businesses. Sales from the market not only help keep the local businesses and sellers supported, but also help to preserve the historic buildings in the area. Try a variety of international foods from talented vendors or buy the ingredients to make your dishes at home. Visit the over 225 local and regional craftspeople to buy a sculpture, or perhaps some herbs.
Space Needle: One of the most iconic landmarks in the United States is the Space Needle. Serving as a staple image of Seattle, the building reaches 520 feet in height. Visitors to the Needle can take in the skyline of Seattle from that height, seeing sights such as Mt. Rainier, the Cascades, Elliott Bay, and, of course, the tiny cars, buses, trains, and people commuting below. You can view the city during the day or see some of the twinkling lights at night. The Needle offers free photo experiences before boarding the elevator up, a gift shop, and even SkyCity, a 500-foot high restaurant that serves a panoramic view of the city while you eat.
Woodland Park: Woodland Park is a beautiful stretch of land that has something for everyone. You can head to Woodland Zoo and see the butterfly garden, or visit the Woodland Rose Garden that was established in 1922. There are also tennis courts, play areas for children, a skate park, and lawn bowling. This park is also the perfect place for reserving a picnic. There are barbeques, grassy hills, woods, and pathways for a fun picnic and gathering. For those with pets, dogs are welcome, and some areas even allow them to explore without a leash.
Museum of Pop Culture: Otherwise known as MoPOP, this nonprofit museum digs its roots in rock-and-roll to explore the risks and ideas that craft popular culture. Some of the exhibits as of this article feature David Bowie, Star Trek, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Henson. Visit the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit to see imaginative and creative artworks featuring popular media franchises like Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, and World of Warcraft. For video game fans, try their Indie Game Revolution exhibit, which explores the work of over 40 independent video game creators. The Sound Room is a popular, soundproof room that allows adults and children alike to jam to an original tune or cover a classic.
Travel Benefits By Design
Barbados is a beautiful country with an interesting origin and a great place to visit.
A little history first: at about less than one million years old, the island was formed by a collision of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, combined with a volcanic eruption. Coral formed and rose the land, and eventually the two land masses merged into one. It was first settled around 1623 B.C. by Amerindians from Venezuela, knows as the Arawaks. They were eventually taken over by another Amerindian people, the Caribs.
The Portugese came to the island and gave it the name of Los Barbados, possibly named after the island’s fig trees, as the figs gave a beard-like appearance, and Los Barbados means “the bearded ones.” Barbados was occupied by the British in 1627 and remained a colony under British rule until 1961, and gained full independence in 1966.
In the past few decades, the island has been able to reclaim their heritage and their culture, and is a great place to visit to have a unique and refreshing experience. Here are some things you can do on your visit to Barbados.
Visit the beaches: Barbados is a very diverse land and culture, and the beaches are no exception. You can find the perfect beach for you, whether you are someone who is into active watersports or someone who just wants to lounge and relax. To the north are high cliffs and coral with occasional coves and waters. The east provides windy waves that are perfect for intense surfing trips. The south has the perfect waters for all kinds of watersports, including kitesurfing. The west has the calmest beaches of them all for those who are looking to relax and unwind.
Take a tour: There is a lot to see and do in Barbados. One way to take the hassle out of your plans is to take one of the many tours offered around the island. Some tours, dubbed “safari tours”, take you off-road to cliffs, parks, and to authentic Caribbean eateries. Many tours are also water-based, and include activities like swimming with the turtles. What better way to view the island than to tour it?
Discover the culture: Barbados has a rich culture that pulls from many countries and people around the world. There are many ways that you can soak in this culture and learn more about the local life. The Frangipani Art Gallery hosts a collection of art from local and regional artists that will give a glimpse into the island’s artistic side. Food and rum tours like the Lick De Bowl tour allow you to try and view the process of making some authentic Barbados cuisine. Historic sites such as the Newton Slave Burial Ground also allow you to take a reflective look on Barbados’ past.
Travel Benefits By Design