6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Choose a Cruise in 2018

I long thought that cruises were for rich or old people, perhaps both in fact but last year I was forced to eat my words after one of the best vacation experiences of my life. My husband took a risk and booked us on a 2 week cruise last year, I accepted the gift with a forced smile, but I really wasn’t looking forward to it. Fast forward 3 months and I am having the time of my life aboard a Star Clippers ship, staring out across the ocean wishing that the trip would never end. There was so much to love about the cruise and here are my 6 reasons why you should join me, and book yourself on a  cruise in the coming year.

Destinations

I enjoy relaxing on a beach but I am a traveler at heart and I love to scratch beneath the surface of each destination that I go to. Thankfully on this cruise, I was able to see 9 destinations in a single trip. We had a day or two in each destination which forces you to be effective with your time on land. The result is that you jam in plenty of exploration and discovery, into a single vacation.

The Ocean

I have been on many boat tours as I love to sail away from it all, with a cruise, you could do this every single day. There is something thrilling and strange about being out there in the middle of nowhere, without another vessel in sight and it gives you a great opportunity for reflection.

The Boats

I don’t have high hopes for the living questers or entertainment on board the cruise ship, but I was miles off in my expectations. These days cruise ships are like moving shopping malls with cinemas, theaters and a multitude of bars and restaurants for you to enjoy. On board you’ll find swimming pools, jacuzzis, wave machines, sunbathing decks and just about everything that you could possibly think of to thoroughly enjoy your time on board the ship.

The Service

I don’t always like to mention good service as I feel that if you are in a  service industry, you shouldn’t be congratulated on doing your job well. With this being said however, my experience on the service which the staff gave us was absolutely exceptional and they really went the extra mile to ensure that we had the best time both on board, and on land.

The Price

Contrary to what I had thought in the past, the price of a cruise was far, far lower than I expected it to be. Now, I didn’t receive this as a gift but I naturally started doing a bit of digging and I was pleasantly surprised. If you are like I was, thinking a cruise was only for high rollers, I am here to tell you that this is no longer the case.

The People

And finally, my other fear, that the purple rinse brigade would be taking my sun loungers and giving me nobody new to talk to, absolute nonsense. There is a huge range of people who go on cruises from families to single people, the older generation and teenagers. This blend of people made for a great time on board and I really enjoyed the variety of people that I met.

Culturally Canadian – Why You Need To Check Out Canada Now

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If you’ve never been to Canada and you’re considering going for your next holiday abroad, you’re in for a real treat. This vast country is full of things to see and do along with a rich and unique colonial history which has helped to shape some of the most beautiful cities in Ontario and Quebec. Depending what you like to do and what sorts of things you’re into there is a whole host of options for you to get stuck into Canada. Here are just a couple of great tips.

Getting In And Around

In most cases from the EU or UK the flights you get would likely fly into one of the following cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or Calgary. You can grab a flight to Toronto easily, and it’s got a nice relatively short flight time to and from the UK, meaning there’s no lengthy flights to be had which can leave you exhausted. General flight time is between 6-7 hours which is fairly decent for the length of distance being covered. Once in Canada, getting around can be a bit tricky due to the sheer size of the country. Renting a car if you’re staying around southern Ontario and Quebec is a great idea and will allow you to stop off in any of the towns and cities that tickle your fancy. If you want to head out West though, the only real viable way is by plane unless you have a lot of time at your disposal.

East Coast

The East coast of Canada is a unique mix of French, Scottish and Irish influences peppered with British in there as well. The city of Montreal is stunning and is one of the favourites for those looking to sample the Canadian national dish, poutine. Be sure to check out the equally gorgeous city Quebec for a step back into Canada’s colonial history as well as some truly awe inspiring architecture. In truth, this part of Canada is one of the cultural hotspots and is great for those who are looking to sink their teeth into Canada’s identity as both French and English. For the Scottish and Irish regions, check out Nova Scotia (literally ‘New Scotland’) and the island of Newfoundland. Be warned though – all who step foot on the island of Newfoundland seem to leave a piece of their hearts there. It’s easy to see why when you have food you won’t find elsewhere in Canada, rugged coastlines and friendliness of the locals so welcoming it would warm the coldest winter.

The West

We could honestly chat all day about all there is to see in the west. From Vancouver Island and its stunning scenery and coastline to the Badlands of Alberta, the west of Canada is ideal for those who are looking for an outdoorsy, nature-based adventure. British Columbia and Alberta are prime for those who love everything from hiking to mountaineering, camping, kayaking, white water rafting or purely just kicking back and enjoying the scenery from the balcony of your own cabin in the Rockies.

So if you’re coming to Canada, come well prepared to be blown away, regardless of which side of the country you pick. If you have a lot of time at your disposal, why not rent a car and check out a bit of both worlds? You honestly won’t regret it.

7 Questions to Answer When Choosing a Family Vacation

Are you in the process of selecting a family vacation destination? Are you finding it difficult to make a final decision? Are you looking for answers in hope that it will provide you and your family with a trip that you will remember for the rest of your life?

Before you can pack for your trip, you need to get a few important details in place. It all starts with choosing a destination.

Using Expedia will make your life a bit easier, as you can compare the best family vacations online, which gives you confidence in every step you take.

If you’re on the fence and need a push in the right direction, there are a few questions you can answer. By addressing these, you’ll find it much easier to select a family vacation destination that makes sense for every member of your traveling party.

  1. What fits your budget?

It would be nice if you could afford any and every destination, but you know that this may not be the case.

For example, you may have your eyes set on the Kimpton Epic Hotel in Miami, just to find that it’s a bit out of your price range.

Here’s the good thing: with so many destinations to choose from, you should be able to find one that suits your budget. Once you have a number in mind, you can then begin your search.

  1. What works in regards to timing?

While some families have the ability to take a vacation at pretty much any time of the year, this doesn’t hold true for everyone.

Maybe you can only travel during the summer months. Or maybe you find that it’s easiest to take a trip during the holiday season.

You need to know what will work for your family in regards to timing, as this will help you answer a variety of other questions. For instance, taking a trip during the off-peak season will save you money.

  1. Where does your family want to go?

It goes without saying that you want to treat your family to a vacation they will always remember. For this reason, you need to answer this question a soon as possible.

If you’ve got an aspiring movie maker in the family, a trip to Iceland could be an inspiring trip for a young video editor.  Check out this blog from Square Ship to see why. On the other hand, a young artist may benefit from a trip to Italy’s art museums.

Once you know where your family wants to go, you can then begin your search for the perfect destination. You may find that your family wants to hit a local beach. Or you may find that they would rather to skiing in the mountains.

It’s not always easy to get to the bottom of this question, but once you do you’re in better position to move forward with booking your trip.

  1. What types of activities does your family like?

This goes along with the question above. Does your family like to swim in the ocean? Do they like to ski? Do they enjoy sightseeing?

Don’t be shy about asking your family for feedback on what they want to do on their trip. This will go a long way in putting you in a better place as you research a variety of destinations.

  1. Are you seeking a certain type of weather?

This doesn’t matter to everyone, but some people consider it a “deal breaker.”

Don’t be surprised if you hear from your spouse that they only want to vacation in a warm weather destination. Or don’t be surprised if your child tells you that they want to visit an area where they can play in the snow.

  1. How will you find a hotel with the right amenities and enough space?

Regardless of where you’re visiting, you should be able to find a handful of hotels that suit your needs.

You should begin your search with a list of amenities that you absolutely need. Along with this, make sure you can find a hotel room or suite with enough space for your entire family.

  1. Will you fly or drive to your location?

This is a matter of preference, but time and location may have an impact on your answer.

If you’re vacationing nearby, you may want to drive. This can save you time and money.

Conversely, if you’re vacationing in a destination thousands of miles away, you’ll want to think long and hard about booking airline tickets.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many questions you should answer when selecting a family vacation destination. There are other things to think about along the way, but these questions (and your answers) will put you in position to make a confident decision.

What steps do you take when booking a family vacation? Is there anything you try to avoid along the way? Is there anything that has allowed you to make the right choice in the past? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Should You Stay In A Hostel or Hotel When Traveling?

When you’re planning a trip, whether domestic or abroad, there are plenty of things to consider. One of the big decisions you’ll have to make is where you’ll stay, and there are quite a few options available to the modern traveler, but which is right for you?

Should you stay in a hostel or a hotel on your next trip? It’s a big question, and people have to weight the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

The following are some of the key things to consider are you’re deciding.

Cost

For a lot of travelers, the decision between hostel or hotel comes down to something incredibly simple: the cost.

A hostel is almost always going to be cheaper than a hotel, but you’re also going to have a sacrifice luxuries for this lower price.

Of course, if you want to save money there are still ways to make it happen, such as browsing Yatra hotel booking deals or signing up for email lists that will alert you when hotels have special pricing events.

Do Your Research

When you’re planning a trip, you’re going to find that there are lots of great hostels and hotels, but finding the right one boils down to doing your research. You want to read as many reviews as you can, and you might luck up and find a hostel that offers many amenities of a hotel at a fraction of the price.

Just because you go the hostel route versus a hotel doesn’t mean you have to give up all luxuries on your trip.

If you find a hostel and the price is right but you read reviews, and it seems like it’s far away from where you’ll be spending time at your destination or it’s dangerous, it’s probably not going to be worth the cost savings. You might be better off spending a little more and going with a hotel.

Speaking of security, while hostels can offer unique experiences, hotels are almost always going to be safer. Hotels have security and key cards as well as other protections in place to keep visitors safe, so bear that in mind.

Privacy or Socializing?

Every traveler has a different idea of what they’d like their trip to be like. If you value privacy and quiet time to relax when you’re done sightseeing for the day, you’re probably going to want to skip the hostel.

On the other hand, some people might prefer a hostel to a hotel, not because of the cost, but because it gives them a built-in opportunity to socialize with other travelers, meet friends, and just be around people.

Some people like this and some hate it, so it’s a personal preference. At a hostel, you might even be able to share a nightly meal with the other travelers.

If you’re traveling alone and want to meet people while you’re away a hostel can provide that, where a hotel probably isn’t going to.

Finally, think about additional costs that could come up depending on whether you stay at a hostel or hotel. For example, if you find an inexpensive hotel but it’s far from the city center, are you going to be spending extra money on transportation? If so, the cost of the hostel and hotel might ultimately balance out.

Don’t Overdo It: How to Properly Relax on Vacation

Are you one of those people who turn up at work on the first day after a vacation, saying “I’m exhausted; I need a vacation?” It may indicate that you have enjoyed your break, but has the vacation achieved its other purpose—to restore your energy? Perhaps you need to take a different approach to vacations, to enjoy them while relaxing more.

A Change Is as Good as a Rest

Relaxing on a vacation is not the same as doing nothing. You can keep quite active, but doing different things from your normal daily routine. So you can relax while hiking, playing tennis, swimming, or learning bridge. Engaging new parts of your brain helps the parts which usually work hard to ease off. Engaging your body more than usual stimulates the endorphins which make life feel worth living.

Drown Out Those Accusing Voices

Much of our working life is driven by a culture of both guilt and shame—guilt that we are not performing as well as we should, and shame that other people might notice. As a result, we tend to schedule every moment to prove our value.

Get away from that attitude on your vacations. The culture in which we live prizes activity and achievements and that often means we feel we must return from vacation with a good account of how we used the time. Wrong! You are not there to please anyone but yourself and the family or friends you are with.

Balance Things Out

A vacation is a time to get some balance back into life. Often that means following our instincts. Eat when you feel like it; sleep when you feel like it; run when you feel like it; dream when you feel like it.

If you love exploring a big city, do it on foot. Boston, for instance, is a wonderful place to walk around, and the walking pace is very good for you. But there is a lot to see, so have a comfortable hotel to retreat to when you have walked enough, the Boston Marriott Cambridge is well-placed and very relaxing.

If your vacation is more physically relaxing, then choose a hotel with a pool or a fitness center and treat yourself to a daily workout.

Work on Relationships

We are creatures whose welfare largely depends on our relationships. Observations of other primates indicate that a vital part of their relationship structure is what happens when they are chilling out. If you are away with family or friends, spend idle time with them and absorb other people’s ways of relaxing. If you are responsible for a family, understand that the kids need to relax in their own way, which seems pretty active to an adult.

Making the Most

“Vacation” comes from a word that means “emptying.” Getting the best out a vacation is not always a matter of squeezing in as much activity as possible. It is also about making space to refresh body, mind, and soul for the routine life that we must return to.

Choose A Man With Van For Your Next Move

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Now that autumn is in the air and the chilly, wet weather is soon to be setting in, you may be thinking that it’s time to up sticks and get a move on with that move you have been contemplating. Even if you aren’t planning on moving yourself and just need to move something too big for your car to another location, it can be a pain in the neck when it’s chucking down with rain. Never fear though, solutions are here! Check out a couple of reasons why hiring a man with a van is the best idea yet to fulfill your moving needs.

Small Spaces Move For Less

Hiring a van to do it yourself can be costly, especially if the company you’re looking to hire from doesn’t have the right size van to fit your needs. You might end up with a much bigger van than you require, or a smaller van that means you will need to take multiple trips over a longer period of time which can increase your rental costs. Renting a man with a van to help move your smaller spaces is a great, cost effective way to get the job done right, the first time. With Shiply, it’s never been easier to choose a great man with a van in your area to get your job done, and they make it super simple to pick someone who not only fits your budget, move size and other requirements, but also helps you find the right person for the job in terms of expertise. Check out their huge database of men with vans today to pick the right guy for your job.

Cheaper Than Your Average Courier or Moving Company

If you’re only sending something to another location, like giving or selling your old sofa to a friend, hiring a man with a van can be a great way to move that object from A to B for less, especially if neither you nor your mate have a car or truck that can get the job done. Instead of looking around for someone to lend you their van, just get online and pick the right man with a van to do the grunt work for you and split the difference. Chances are it’s going to be heavily cheaper than your average courier or moving company, especially if it’s just a couple of things that need to be relocated.

Service With A Smile

Many of the men with vans on sites like Shiply are highly vetted and chosen for their knowledge and expertise in the service industry of moving items from A to B. Most are a type of freelancer who uses their van to help make some money on the side in their spare time. You can pick the delivery driver closest to you with the right stuff for your job right from the website and rest easy knowing that your job is being completed by the best person, hand chosen by you.

So there you have a couple of reasons why picking a man with a van, especially through Shiply is a great idea. Get that chest of drawers moved today or don’t fret about high moving costs. You can get all of that and more through a man with a van for less than you’d expect.

The Value of the Tourist Experience

Just itching to get out and see the world, experience things you never have before, visit places you’ll likely never see again and learn new (and sometimes unusual) things about other cultures? Then now maybe the perfect time you became a tourist again.

But beyond being a mere form of entertainment, what else does “the tourist experience” offer? Why do 10 million people visit the Great Wall of China each year, why do 4 million people tour the Statue of Liberty annually, and why do half a million people trek their way through Redwood National Park?

The answers are as diverse as the places visited and the people spending their time, money, and energy on. But here are 5 key benefits of being a tourist that keep the travel industry alive and well year after year:

1. A Change of Pace and Scenery

Too many of us get ourselves into a rut. We go through much the same motions, day after day, week after week, all year long. Consider that no matter where you go as a tourist, someone is living there as “a local.” They may see every day what you’ve traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to see.

Breaking up the monotony of life, having a unique experience you’ve never had before, and finding plenty of memorable and photo-worthy moments, is part of what it’s all about.

2. Today, It’s Convenient and Affordable

Tourism is more “doable” to the average American today than it ever has been in the past. Anyone can quickly buy tour tickets at GoNYTours.com, for example, and be set up for a very affordable but very exciting and thorough New York City double decker bus tour.

In fact, you can plan and pay for nearly your entire trip (minus, perhaps, some restaurant and souvenir shop stops) from the comfort of your own computer chair. Additionally, if you can’t quite afford an international trip at the moment or are just a bit leery about leaving “the good ol’ USA,” there are endless worthwhile tourist opportunities right here at home.

3. Free From Usual Responsibilities

As a tourist, you are freer than at almost any other time during your life. While a certain over-your-shoulder or via-smartphone management of home matters is necessary, the fact is, you are largely freed up from your usual responsibilities. That alone can make tourism exhilarating. It also means you have more time to “take in all in,” contemplate the “meaning of life,” and mull over past treasured memories even as you are making new ones.

4. Family Time

Family vacation is a veritable American icon, a tradition so deeply ingrained in the national psyche that to remove it would be like ripping out our very heart and soul. OK, perhaps, there may be a bit of exaggeration there, but you catch my meaning. Time together with your same loved family but in a totally new environment is the ideal chance for family bonding time that leaves a lasting, positive impression.

5. Romantic Getaways

Finally, we mention one other prime reason for becoming a tourist: romance. There is no denying that tourism itself is “romantic” in a way, and thus, it’s no surprise that romantic partners love to spend time with the one they love as tourists exploring the sights, culture, cuisine, and historical landmarks of places they’ve never been before.

If honeymoon and anniversary getaways are any clue, it’s obvious that being a tourist is 100% compatible with being in love.

Michael Briese – Vacationing the Right Way; on a Budget

Next year’s vacation time will be here before you know it and it is time for you to plan now because your tight budget demands it.

Well imagine if you could have a phenomenal vacation next year and not do a bank heist to get it done. Before we start however you should make sure you at least some bank, so find yourself a stock broker like New York based, Michael Breise and ask him to help you invest some money now to pay for that 2018 vacation.

Then listen to these tips on how to stretch your vacation dollars so you have a top-notch vacation and never get broke and busted.

Make a Firm Travel Budget

Your first step is to create a realistic travel budget for yourself. Include the cost of travel including in country or city travel, accommodations, meals, visas, entertainment, mementos you might want to purchase, and leave yourself a contingency budget of 5% just in case.

When you make your budget you can decide how you can get to spend your vacation where you want. You simply have to get it done within this budget. So use this strict amount to begin planning for your trip.

Be Smart About Traveling

Go out of Season – The difference in prices for airfare, hotels, and attractions in and out of season can be as much as 75% of the price. So picking when you go somewhere is a great way to get a high quality vacation at a fraction of the normal cost. During off-season, the goal of many vacation focused businesses is to create any revenue possible. So have a look at the places you would like to go and begin comparing prices of travel and accommodations at those places. Pick the times of year when prices are lowest.

If you can only go on your vacation during in season times, book your travel and accommodations long in advance of your trip. A booking 3 months in advance can save more than 60% off airfare and a comparable amount off hotels. This is the same case with places like AirBnB where most landlords place a premium on having their rooms occupied rather than getting the top rate. Make a lower offer and agree to pay long in advance and see if anyone bites. You might be surprised.

Go to less travelled places – People usually only know of one or two places in a state or country when many times the less known places provide a better vacation without the crowds or the price. In Australia, most people know about Sidney and Melbourne but fewer visit Perth or Brisbane even though they are just as beautiful and cheaper. Similarly with Canada where Vancouver and Toronto are the top destinations. Fewer consider Calgary, where the skiing and hiking is some of the best in Canada. If you travel to New York look at other places besides New York City. By going to these less traveled places, you can have unexpected adventures, get more personal attention and a much bigger back for your travel buck.

By planning and being smart about how and when you travel you can save enough money for a Rolex, and tell your Facebook friends about your wonderful vacation.

Atlanta, The City That Leaves You In Awe

This Georgia capital boasts of so many treats that families, or individuals, can partake in. From Civil War, to the Civil Rights Movement, this city has played a part in some of the mosts monumental events in history, and it has a host of places that tell the story, such as the Atlanta History Center. Although the city withholds many of its historic artifacts that speak of its poverty and hardships, there’s also an array of new developments that speak of the wealth and popularity of this destination that has earned it the title of, ‘the next international city’. Atlanta is also the place where many known rappers are rooted, and epic experiences are waiting to be had, from museums to aquariums and so much more. Here’s just a few things you can get up to when you visit Atlanta, and a professional car service from Atlanta airport can get you to your desired destination in style as soon as you jump off the plane.

Georgia Aquarium

The first stop in you private limo could be to see the destination that holds 1000s of marvelous marine life, and entertainment for people of all ages. You don’t want to miss out on catching a glimpse of the several thousand species that this public aquarium parades. There’s a host of interactive activities, from Dolphin and Sea lion presentations, to Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow that gives engaging insight on how to protect the animals, and their environment.

Feel at one with the sea life with animal interactions and encounters that create memories that last a lifetime. Swim with Whale Sharks, also know as ‘Gentle Giants’. Get up-close and personal with penguins, and have your hands flapping with excitement as you experience a connection between you and the animals like never before. It’s a truly mesmerizing and memorable attraction to visit.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Be left in awe at the sight of this exceptional eden. There’s a host of plant collections for you to appreciate the beauty of, and get informed on. Known as the urban oasis in Atlanta, this glorious garden offers a wide range of vegetation that’s truly a spectacular sight to behold.

Some refer to this garden as being like Alice In Wonderland, and there’s always some different and alluring on show with each turn you make. The floral fragrances will have you constantly breathing in to ensure you savor the delightful scents. One of the main attractions of the garden that has been captured on many phones, is the hedge that has been shaped into a woman, with hair made of flowers that wave down in colors of purple, pink and red.

World of Coca-Cola

This city is home to one of the stories of the most successful enterprises in the world. At the World of Coca-Cola you can enter into the journey of this booming business, and see it from its development even to its recent launch, with a range of over a 100 beverages to choose from.

It’s a museum that everyone can relate to, and brand that everyone has encountered and enjoyed at christmas parties, or for a morning energy boost. There’s a theatre to be better educated in about the company, and you could even have a special encounter with the infamous Coca-Cola Polar Bear.

Your 5 Priorities Buying A Family Car

Ready to settle down, start your family, and replace that flashy coupe with something a little more practical for a young and growing family? Exchanging the car of your youth for something more practical for a life that involves kids, dogs, commutes, and road trips can be painful at first, but with the right car, you’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it. When you’re trading in, these are some of the top features that should be on your priority list for a family car.

#1 Safety

When you’re putting kids in the back seat, there is no higher priority than safety. If you’re looking for a safe, affordable vehicle, the Mazda 3 was a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick+, ranking highly in terms of side and roof strength, head restraints and seats, front crash prevention, headlights, and other criteria. Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards its Top Safety Pick to those cars that meet these criteria, while Top Safety Pick+ winners offer that much more. In 2017, special emphasis was put on nighttime road visibility and headlight performance. When you’re visiting relatives out of town during a snow storm or going up to a relatives’ cottage on a summer long weekend, you’re going to appreciate the extra visibility of a Top Safety Pick+.

#2 Cabin Space

Driving around Toronto can be frustrating; negotiating traffic, finding a parking space, fitting between a delivery truck half-on the sidewalk to your right and a line of parked cars to the left. An SUV or even a crossover isn’t always the best option for city driving, but you still want a sedan with lots of room for kids and pets. According to Popular Mechanics, three of the roomiest sedans include the Honda Civic, the Hyundai Elantra, and the Mazda3 5-Door.

#3 Storage

You want a vehicle that can grow with your family, and that doesn’t always mean having more kids. Even if you want to stick to a family of 3 or 4, as those kids grow up, so will their interests, and that can mean lugging around a whole lot of sports equipment, musical instruments, art projects, and more. Make sure you get a car that can accommodate it all.

#4 Affordability

Mazda is already one of the most affordable family car brands you can find, but if you’re saving for a condo or a house in the city, you’re going want to save every dollar can and buy a used Mazda car. You can find great deals on Toronto Mazda cars at the right place. Look around Mazda dealerships in Toronto for a big inventory of new and used Mazda cars and ask about pricing. One place to start is Yorkdale Dufferin Mazda, an award-winning local Toronto Mazda dealer.

#5 Driving

Last but not least, just because you’re trading in for a family car doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to enjoy driving at all. One thing that many car critics can agree on: for a responsible family car, Mazda keeps the fun in driving. SkyActiv and G-Vectoring technologies can make a big difference in your daily commute, and you can test drive them at a Toronto Mazda dealership like Yorkdale Dufferin Mazda. Don’t let practicality take all the fun out of driving when you don’t have to.