Author Archives: travel

Caribbean Vacations: Year Round Fun

by Cedric Agravante

Christmas in the Caribbean
What did you do for Christmas last year? Did you wade through seas of people and endure rude sales clerks in a mad dash to get your last minute shopping done? Maybe you loaded up the minivan and hauled your family across three states to a relative’s house for three straight days of mass organized chaos. No matter what you did, it’s a safe bet that there a lot stress involved. Are you looking forward to doing the same thing this year, or do you think maybe it’s time for a change? Instead of saving up your pennies for a summer trip, maybe you should consider a holiday in the Caribbean instead.

Sunny Caribbean Vacation in December or January
In the Caribbean, the sun shines year round so there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it in December or January. Aruba, Barbados, the Cayman Islands or any one of the destinations in the Caribbean will act as a welcome replacement to the stressful winter your friends are facing back home. It may not be the holiday season you are used to, but in the Caribbean you can make your own new traditions. While your friends are scraping the ice off of their windshields, you will be listening to the waves crash on the shore from your beach chair. As everyone back at home is fighting over the last parking spot at the mall, you’ll be watching the sunset over the ocean horizon.

Worry-Free Way to Travel to the Caribbean
One of the most worry-free ways to travel to the Caribbean during the holidays or any other time is to find an all-inclusive resort or travel package. Make sure it is reputable so you don’t end up in a no-name hotel downtown somewhere with questionable food and watered-down drinks. If you have the means, try going through a travel agent to book all of the details. For a less expensive method, there are countless internet travel sites that offer special rates when you book vacations as a package. The most important part–as with any vacation planning–is that you trust the source you decide to use after doing plenty of research.

There are several places to choose from when trying to decide where to spend your Caribbean holiday. Finding the right one for you requires knowing your budget, what you want to do as far as activities, and what is going to have the best availabilities. The Bahamas are very popular and among the most common vacation spots in the Caribbean. Visit the Changing of the Guards Ceremony or attend a Friday night Fish Fry in Grand Bahama Island. There is no shortage of events to attend or activities year round in this tropical paradise.

Checking Out How the “Other Half” Lives at St. Bart’s
If you are interested in seeing how the “other half” lives, you might want to check out St. Barthelemy, affectionately dubbed St. Bart’s by its loyal–and wealthy–visitors. Known for its pristine beaches and gourmet restaurants, St. Bart’s is a Mecca for the rich and famous. If you can afford it, you’ll have no trouble finding pampering on this island. Though there are several hotels to choose from, the most popular accommodations are villas and bungalows. You may end up spending more than you planned if you hit up St. Bart’s, so if you are on a tight budget you might want to stick to one of the other many options.

Christmas Caribbean vacations are not exactly a new idea. As long as there have been shopping malls and insane relatives, there have been people desperately trying to escape them. While there is definitely a busy season in the Caribbean, it’s difficult to find a season that does not attract a loyal following of tourists. Whether it’s Curacao, Barbados, Grand Cayman, St. Lucia, St. Maarten or anywhere else in the Caribbean, you probably won’t find yourself feeling homesick anytime soon. If you do pine for a traditional Christmas custom, find yourself a palm tree to decorate and remember that a week from now you will be back at home wishing you were here. Happy Holidays!

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Discount Golf Vacations: Enjoying The Game Without Breaking The Bank

by Cedric Agravante

One key to finding good discount golf vacations is in the time of year you plan to go. It stands to reason that the parts of the world with the most beautiful weather are going to be the most popular among golfers during this particular season. However, if you don’t mind a little colder or hotter than normal temperatures, you may be able to find less expensive golf destinations. Check around at your favorite destinations and find out what their peak season is, then find out the rates for their off season. It is likely that the off season rates will be more competitive.

Golf Packages in Las Vegas
Let’s face the facts here. The desert is the desert and it will pretty much stay hot year round. That being said, there may not be a particularly attractive time of year for Las Vegas golf getaways, but this could actually tip the odds in your favor. You may have more luck shopping around different hotels and golf courses
year round rather than waiting for one particular season to arrive. Golf packages in Las Vegas can range from very reasonable to extravagant. For example you can get a weekday rate of $549 for three nights at a popular hotel and three rounds of golf at a local course. At $183 per day for a hotel and a round of golf on a Las Vegas course, this is a tough deal to beat, but we will still try.

Florida Golf
Florida is another popular golf destination where the rates for hotels and green fees can vary just as much as Las Vegas. Fall appears to be a slow time, however, because the special “Thanksgiving” and “Holiday” rates are all over the place. A lakeside resort in Orlando is going for $99 per person, which includes a queen suite, 1 round of golf per day and a cart rental. Most golf courses worth playing on would charge that much just to get a tee time. Seasonal rates are often a good way to take advantage of the deepest discounts.

Try a “Scottish Golf Holiday”
Every true golf lover should travel to the birthplace of the game at least once in their life. If you don’t go for the golf, go because Scotland is amazing and you won’t want to leave. The countryside alone will make you stare for days, and the forty-four golf courses will leave you wishing you just had a little more time. One example of a “Scottish Golf Holiday” includes seven nights in a four star hotel, seven days of car rental, and one round each at five of Scotland’s most prestigious golf courses. This package is much pricier than a golf vacation in the States, but for $2500 per person you are getting much more than a hotel and a few games of golf.

While you’re in the area, you might think of popping over to Ireland and enjoying a little of what they have to offer as well. Their packages have similar features and prices as the Scotland packages just don’t tell them that! The most important thing is not to drive yourself crazy trying to find the absolute lowest discount golf vacations because you will always be able to find something cheaper if you keep looking long enough. So make a decision already, get out there and start enjoying your golf vacation.

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Tips to Travel Safe and Savvy This Summer

Nearly one out of every two Americans returns from vacation feeling more exhausted and stressed than when they left, according to Expedia. In fact, the stress of travel can literally make people sick. An estimated 3 percent of the population suffers from “leisure sickness,” which includes fatigue, muscle pain and nausea from travel-related stress.

Even in paradise, things can go wrong. A little pre-planning, however, can help prevent a full-on vacation meltdown. From safeguarding your identity to fixing a broken luggage zipper, these savvy travel tips will help make your summer vacation hassle-free.

Forget Facebook

Your flights are booked, your bags are packed and you can almost feel that sand between your toes. While it’s tempting to post your travel plans on Facebook, resist the urge. You wouldn’t hang a sign on your front door advertising your departure, so why share your trip itinerary with the entire Internet? This gives thieves a green light to target your house while you’re out of town.

Purge Your Wallet

A typical wallet is packed with extra credit cards and loyalty shopper cards that aren’t needed while sipping Mai Thais in paradise. Leave your usual wallet behind and only take the absolute basics for photo identification and payment. Lock up passports, IDs and credit cards whenever you leave your hotel room. For extra protection against identity theft, enroll in a service like LifeLock, which proactively monitors your social security number for fraudulent activity.

Protect Against Fraudulent Purchases

Even if your identity is not stolen, your credit or debit card could still be used to fund another vacationer’s week in paradise. Whenever possible, use a credit card rather than a debit card. Should your card be stolen, it is much easier to dispute fraudulent charges with a credit card company rather than battling your bank over the money fraudulently withdrawn from your checking account. Designate a credit card specifically for travel expenses. Doing so makes it easier to scan your statement for fraudulent purchases
that might otherwise be “buried” amidst usual expenses.

Fix a Broken Zipper

Sure, a broken zipper may seem minor compared to identity theft, but there’s nothing fun about a suitcase exploding all over luggage claim. Rather than replacing your luggage mid-trip, these hacks will help your luggage make it home safely in one piece.

If the zipper is stuck, lubricate the zipper teeth with lip balm or bar soap, which will help the zipper start moving again. If the zipper teeth are no longer staying closed, a single bent zipper tooth is the likely culprit. Use a pair of pliers to gently bend the zipper tooth back into shape. If the zipper pull breaks off, create a makeshift pull by attaching a souvenir keychain to the zipper base. Bonus: That hot pink Miami sunset keychain will make your generic black bag easy to spot at baggage claim.

Find Free Wi-Fi

Stop overpaying for expensive airport or hotel Wi-Fi. You can find apps that will help with this. The free Wi-Fi  Finder app
tracks more than 650,000 Wi-Fi  locations (both free and paid) in 144 countries.

Install the offline database for use when you cannot connect to the Internet for a search; this will help you locate the nearest Wi-Fi  source. For help detecting weak signals, you can download NetStumbler on your computer. This free program goes above and beyond the built-in Wi-Fi detector on your computer to find free networks it may have missed. And while free Wi-Fi is great, be smart about public network usage — never send personal information over an unsecured public network.


Cycling the World: The Best Cycling Adventures Ever

Does the thought of a handmade fresh batch of pasta and a good pasta sauce recipe make your mouth water? Are you a traveler who loves to get to know a destination, its food, culture and people intimately?

Take a cycling tour to immerse in the wonderful back streets and alleyways of Tuscany, Italy. There’s not a better place to get fresh air, exercise and culture. Or, explore here in the states to find West Coast beaches and the charmed south.

What is It About Tuscany?

The name Tuscany conjures images of spectacular food and a sun-drenched, rolling landscape dotted with wineries and olive groves. It’s a destination that should be savored slowly in order to appreciate its beauty and culture. So don’t put the pedal to the metal to get around Tuscany. Instead, try cycling.

Not only will you be able to savor this region from atop a bike, but you can also work enough calories off during the cycling trip to enjoy a few extra helpings of Tuscany’s delicious fare.

A number of companies offer Tuscany tours that range in length from single-day tours to itineraries that cover a week or longer. These tours will take you down cypress-lined roads, through charming villages and to see such sites as a medieval fortress and olive orchards. Your nights will be spent enjoying great local fare and resting in lovely villas or hotels.

Sonoma Wine Country

If an airplane trip to Italy isn’t within your budget, choose a similar destination in the U.S. for a cycling tour. In California, for example, you will find that a number of companies offer cycling tours of Sonoma County, which is one of California’s most famous wine-growing regions, according to the Select from one-day tours or a lengthier itinerary.

Charleston, S.C.

For those living closer to the East Coast, a cycling tour of South Carolina is a great alternative to a Tuscany vacation. South Carolina is famous for its charm, delicious regional cuisine and Spanish moss-draped oaks. Most cycling trips through South Carolina will typically include stops at genteel Savannah and romantic Charleston.

Traveling Safety Tips

Before the journey whether in the U.S. or overseas, take the extra steps to keep your home from looking like an easy target. Leave a light or two on and stop your mail and newspaper service. Find automated security options at to put a set of extra eyes on your home while away.

In addition, to keeping your home safe from crooks, some security companies will also allow you to monitor and control your home from a smartphone, tablet or computer. You can, for example, watch live videos of the interior of your home on some of these systems or lock the doors from your smart device, even if you’re miles or even continents away.

Once you get your home secured, you’ll be able to enjoy the cycling tour, whether you’re heading to Tuscany or to an equally lovely destination in the U.S. If going out of the country, remember to start the passport application early because sometimes it can take up to two months to receive your documents, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.


Researching for the Best Hotel Deal

by Ross P. Anderson

Hotels can cost a lot of money, and if you plan to stay at a full service hotel, you may wind up spending more on where you sleep than on any other part of your vacation. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are deals to be found on hotel rooms depending on which chain you want to book and what time of the year you are traveling.

If you reserve a room during off peak times, you can save as much as 50% off the regular rate, which means more money to do fun activities during your vacation. However, if this is just not practical for you, then even by staying a week before the peak season starts or a week after it ends you can save up to 30% of your hotel bill. Each hotel has its own peak season, so to be completely sure when you can save the money, you must check on the hotel web site or call the them directly.

Always look for additional discounts that may apply to your and your circumstances. These might include discounts for being a student, senior citizen, or part of the AAA auto club. Even if you are simply going on your honeymoon, it never hurts to mention you are traveling the day after your wedding; the hotel might offer to upgrade your room or give you a discount on the basis of doing something special for you.

If you really don’t care where you stay, investigate a couple of the web sites that let you name your own price for a hotel room. Doing so will get you far better rates, but you will not know which one you will reside in until the price is accepted. So, only do this if you are prepared to spend your time in any hotel in the class range you select.

Another great way to locate a hotel bargain is to trade in some of your airline or hotel points. Some airlines permit you to build up points with certain hotels, and vice versa. So, inquire whether you can trade in points for a decrease in price or even a free night or week stay.

Finally, if you are traveling with your family, reserve a hotel that offers no additional charge for kids up to a certain age. Each additional guest in most hotel rooms costs up to $25.00 per person, so you will do well to find one that permits children up to age 18 to stay with their parents for free. This can save you a ton of money, especially if you are staying for a week or longer.

Hotels do not need to be budget breakers if you know where to look. Check through travel sites that let you compare prices and then call a hotel directly to see if they can offer a better price. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

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In-Flight Essentials: 10 Must-Haves for International Flights

Jet setting to an exciting international destination is a thrilling prospect. Less thrilling?
Spending hours on end on an airplane. Here are 10 essentials to get you through international
plane rides in one piece.

Start On The Right Foot

From the minute you step out the door, you’re setting the stage for your travel experience. Before you worry about what you are going to bring with you, avoid complications and start prepared. Traffic can be a nightmare if you are unfamiliar with the airport you’re navigating through. Avoid wrong-turns, unexpected
traffic bollard blockades at your gate and parking tickets by checking out the airport map before you leave. Enhance the seamlessness of your airport experience by printing your boarding pass at home using an electronic ticket kiosk.

Comfortable shoes

Metros and fashionistas, put comfort first for travel. Flat, riding-style boots and slip-on sneakers are great options, avoid restrictive, hard, synthetic materials that can create blisters.

Stay Hydrated

Airplanes are known for dry air, which can be damaging to the skin, nose, lungs and eyes. If you wear contacts, it may be best to swap them out for glasses for the ride, there’s nothing worse than itchy eyes while you’re trying to nap. If you loathe your glasses and insist on contacts, pack plenty of accessible contact solution and/or eye moisturizing drops. Bring lotion, drink plenty of water and pack nasal spray and proper medications for breathing conditions like asthma.


In the age of technology, tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire have nearly limitless possibilities. From books to periodicals, movies, music and games, it’s good to have options for entertainment during a fight delay.


Whether you listen to in-flight entertainment or bring your own, you’ll want comfortable headphones. Try several styles before you settle on one if you like earbuds make sure they’re a good fit that won’t slip out every time you turn your head. If you choose an over-ear style make sure they don’t squeeze your head, giving you a headache when worn over a long period of time.

Neck Pillow

Pack a neck pillow; ideally an inflatable one to give you some extra space in your carry-on. Horseshoe-shaped pillows are excellent for planes, as they stay in place while you sleep.

Baby Wipes

Bring a small, re-sealable container of baby wipes and keep it within easy reach. They’re perfect for cleaning up after an in-flight snack or to freshen your face or body after a nap.


Overall, international flights have better food service than domestic flights. Still, if you get hungry it’s good to have a little something you know you’ll like in your bag. Choose something that won’t melt and only pack enough to get through the flight since it could be confiscated at customs when you arrive at your destination.

A Great Scarf

Oprah recommends a large cashmere wrap to keep you comfortable on long flights. For us budget shoppers, a pashmina or lightweight opaque scarf can serve the same purpose. A scarf takes up very little room in your bag but can just as easily be stored around your neck. When you get cold you can wrap it around yourself. If you need to fill a nook or cranny to get comfy, just cram the scarf in there. Lastly, if you’re attempting a nap and can’t seem to shut out the world you can wear it like a hood or pull
it up over your eyes to get some peace.


10 Tips On Getting The Best Seats On An Airplane

by Timothy Rudon

Air travel is teeming with passengers and with discounted airfares it is close to impossible to get good seating on flights. With a growing demand airlines are maximizing space and putting into the cabin a larger number of seats. This created cramping and a lack of leg room for large people.When people travel economy in giant planes like the Airbus it is important to select seating intelligently. If you make an effort to get a reasonably good seat then your air travel will be comfortable.

1. On booking the flight determine what kind of plane it is, the make and number. Then look up the configuration of the plane online. Many websites devoted to travel have featured the seating plans of planes online.

2. Study the seat plans and recommendations made on airplane seating websites like SeatGuru and SeatExpert. Know which seats are the choicest and which ones are best avoided. These websites illustrate seating in economy, first, and business class and delineate the pros and cons for passengers.

3. It is prudent to pre-book the most convenient seat well in advance. Some low cost airlines have free seating this means you cannot pre-book your seat. When checking in online, on the phone, or at the counter find out what seats are available.

4. Experts recommend the front of the plane as you can get off quickly and the front of the plane gets less turbulence than the back.

5. If you have a baby or toddlers traveling with you inform the check in staff they will allot you seats that
have space for a baby chair.

6. The seats adjoining the emergency exists have greater leg space but these are sometimes not allotted in advance.

7. If you like a window view then avoid seats in the middle the wing span blocks the view. The fuel tanks are
located in the middle and the risk of fire in emergency conditions is much greater.

8. Seats in a plane at the rear are not popular as there is increased turbulence, this are is located close to the toilets and galley. If you are susceptible to nausea the food being heated can cause problems. These seats are the ones that cost the least in flights that offer discounted tickets.

9. If you need elbow room or feel claustrophobic choose an aisle seat. These are easier as you can get up to
stretch or use the facilities without asking people to allow you to pass.

10. Avoid seats with limited recline, especially if the flight is long.

Flying can be a pleasure and not a pain if you make an effort.

Timothy Rudon is a writer for Airport parking , the premier website to find Airport parking, cheap airport parking, airportparking, air port parking, airport shuttle, parking at airport, airport parking service, Airport Car Parking Providers and many more.


Airport Layovers: A Guide to Preventing Boredom

Oh, the dreaded layover. It’s a necessary part of flying for most of us, and yet we still find ourselves sitting in an uncomfortable concourse chair, absolutely bored out of our minds.

No longer! Make time fly by (pun intended) during your next layover by managing your time.

Less Than 30 Minutes to Boarding

When there’s less than half an hour until boarding, head to your departure gate. Music is OK, so long as
you listen to it quietly enough that you can hear any pertinent announcements. Take this time to paw through
your carry-on bag and remove any trash, fully read magazines or anything of that sort. Re-arrange the contents
so you can get to anything you’ll need during the next flight without completely unpacking that bag in your
tiny airplane seat. Make sure your ticket is readily accessible and you know what boarding group to listen for.

Once you’ve dealt with all the pre-flight business — which can take mere seconds for some travelers or
many minutes for others — try to relax a little bit. Play a few rounds of Jewel Quest, fill out a KENKEN puzzle or read the next few pages of People Magazine. The key to successful time wasting in the pre-boarding phase is multi-tasking: being ready to jump in line to board at any moment while, simultaneously, carrying out a small task. You can totally do it. Time will whizz right by.

30 to 90 Minutes to Boarding

Do your devices need charging at all? If so, this is the time to do it but don’t worry about staying near your gate because you’ll be bored senseless. Get up and moving for a little while. Find a restaurant and have a meal or grab a comfortable chair at a Starbucks and get plugged in. Watch a movie or read a book. Get comfortable while you’re plugged in and enjoy the (relative) peace and quiet.

If you don’t need to be plugged in, go ahead and get some exercise. Chances are you’ll be spending hours
upon hours sitting on a traveling day, so get your blood flowing and see the sights at the airport. Many airports, at least the major ones, have some really cool architectural details you can scope out. Detroit (DTW) and Chicago’s O’Hare airport (ORD) both have amazing light tunnels connecting terminals. They are certainly worth a short trip on foot, or on people movers. Some airports have small museums of some kind or shops you can explore.

90+ Minutes to Boarding

If you have more than an hour and a half before you board, it’s going to feel like a long layover.
If you have an unexpectedly long layover due to a delay, check in with a gate attendant to be sure you
can’t make a different connection and to see if the airline is offering any sort of concessions or compensation. While it’s rare to get any sort of perks for a delay that’s only a few hours, it never hurts to politely approach and inquire. Gate agents rarely respond well to aggressive behavior, so be polite and remember: they are people too!

Long layovers are good times for concourse naps. If you’re going to try this (rather advanced) maneuver, you need to find a small patch of real estate or check to see if there is an airport napping room where you won’t be in the way of foot traffic. Use your carry-on as a pillow so no one can get into it without waking you. Set an alarm for at least 30 minutes prior to your boarding time so you can get to the
gate on time.

Hopefully, next time you’re between flights these tips will help make your travel time feel shorter. Do you
have any tips for making time fly at the airport? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

Authored By: Paula Eastmann   Though she misses her husband, Paula is happy to help other military wives to keep orderly homes that are inviting and easy to keep. She loves sharing military mom tips with other wives and moms.