A Simpler and Better Way to Get Around in London

London’s complex geography and public transport network can be overwhelmingly confusing if you’re unfamiliar with them, and sometimes even if you are.

As a city with more than 1000 years of history (actually the first settlement in the area is believed to be over 6000 years old), London doesn’t have the tidy grid-like network of streets common to most other major cities around the world. The streets of London were designed for much simpler times, when traffic was light and powered mostly by hay and oats.

The transformation of London into a thoroughly modern metropolis has been nothing less than stunning. Compared to Paris, Rome, or even Stockholm, London has a much more modern appearance. No doubt the Great Fire of 1666 contributed to the city’s evolution. Bombings during World War One also knocked out many older buildings and factories. Then the Blitz arrived, forcing the city once and for all to rejuvenate.

And yet the metropolitan train network has hardly changed a bit since its inception, despite being in fact th oldest urban railway system in the world. There’s a sense of charm in London’s antiquity, and a sense of pride in its modernity, but none of this is very helpful to you in getting from A to B.

Minicabs and taxis should really only be used as a last resort. They are not locally known as “chuck wagons” without a good reason. Self-driving can also be a hassle. First there is the maze of inner-city streets to be navigated; you need to make sense of the complex system of motorways, arterial roads, and bypasses; and it’s probably best not to even think of the ordeal of finding a place to park (not to mention paying for it).

London’s public transport network is actually quite reasonable, despite being ancient. Yet by using it, you are taking a huge gamble in terms of reliability.  This could not have been more adequately exemplified than during the recent cab strike in South London, which overwhelmed the rail system, leaving thousands of early morning passengers destined for Gatwick Airport chomping at the bit with anxiety and frustration as the series of rolling delays threatened their travel plans.

So when you really need to be sure of getting to where you need to go, when you need to arrive calm and unflustered, and when you need to make the most efficient use of your travel time, making use of a London chauffeur service is definitely the way to go.

Hiring a bona fide chauffeur service guarantees you will have access to a reliable luxury car, a professional driver, and a state-of-the-art navigation system with traffic advisory service.  All of which ensures a safe and comfortable journey.

As a result, all the stress of driving, navigating, refueling and parking is being handled for you by someone else. Meaning you get to use your transit time for something productive like sneaking in an extra 20 minutes of sleep, catching up on your emails, finishing that overdue report, or simply relaxing with a drink and enjoying the scenery. This is why luxury chauffeur-driven travel is not just a smarter way, it’s really the only way if you care about the quality of the life you are living.

Inexpensive Communication Tips for Travel Abroad

When you’re traveling abroad, particularly if you’re gone for an extended period of time, one of your top concerns is probably how you can stay in contact with people back home. Unfortunately one of the downsides of traveling internationally is the fact that it can be expensive, or potentially even unsafe from a cybersecurity perspective to communicate in certain ways.

Some ways are cheap, easy and secure methods for communicating no matter where you might be in the world.

The following are some tips.

Consider an International Phone Plan

If you don’t travel that often and you’re only going to be gone for say a week or two, you might bring your own smartphone but talk to your phone company beforehand about getting an international plan with basic data and calling capabilities.

This is going to be less expensive than many other options, and you still get the benefit of having your contact information and your phone number so that you can get in touch with people at home, and they can do the same with you.

Email

Email is, of course, a great way to stay in touch while you travel, but you need to be aware of mail security issues that can arise. When you travel internationally and you email, particularly if you’re using public wi-fi, you’re putting yourself at risk for being the victim of a cyber-attack.

There are email security tools you can use to protect yourself while you’re away, and you can make sure you’re still connected to what’s happening back home, whether it’s personal or work-related.

Google Voice

Google Voice can be a great option for communicating while you’re overseas. With Google Voice, you can forward your calls so that while you’re away and people call you, you’ll be able to answer from your computer or device. It’s like having your phone with you wherever you go, but without the costs of a phone plan and the inconvenience of having to sign up for an international plan.

Portable Wi-Fi

Most of the best free and inexpensive ways to communicate while you abroad require internet access, but as mentioned above, using public wi-fi can leave you vulnerable to attacks.

One solution is to use something like a portable wi-fi device. This would let you use your smartphone and access the internet from anywhere, and you’ll have the benefits of security, portability, and you don’t have to worry about unreliable internet access.

This isn’t necessarily the cheapest option on this list, but it can be one of the best, particularly if you’re traveling with a group and you can all split the cost.

WhatsApp

Finally, a good way to send quick messages and stay in contact not only with people back home but maybe with people you’re traveling with is to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp will let you send messages fast and easily, regardless of the type of phone you’re using. If you needed to get in touch with your traveling companion and let them know, for example of a change of plans that evening, WhatsApp could be helpful.

Regardless of the international communication options you select, always keep security as a top consideration.

Why You Need to Get Travel Money Cards

Traveling overseas requires most of your time, energy, effort, and money. You have to be prepared for it, especially financially because you will be spending a lot. So, it is best to save up for your most-awaited holiday getaway with your loved ones and make the most out of it.

One of the numerous ways to access cash when you are traveling abroad is by using a travel money card. This is a simple and safe way to store your spending money once you are on a trip internationally. More so, it prevents any unwanted credit charges for your overseas purchases. Thus, get the best travel money cards before flying abroad for your vacation.

Listed below are some reasons why you need to avail a travel money card any time soon:

Travel money card loads various foreign currencies.

Once you have a travel money card, you can load up multiple foreign currencies and use it overseas. You will be able to withdraw cash over the phone, at an ATM, or in store. With this, there is nothing to worry about having to exchange foreign currencies anymore, for you can already juggle currencies when you are still in your home country. Simply check online first if the currency you will be loading to your card is allowed, so as to avoid any unnecessary circumstances to happen.

Travel money card locks in your exchange rate prior to your travel.

One of the advantages of having a travel money card is it locks in the exchange rate for your trip. You can easily budget your holiday cash, for you are certain enough that the rate won’t change anymore. Additionally, it would be a great idea to lock in a currency ahead of time before your trip, for you to be able to allot money on specific things. This could also mean missing out on any improvements in the exchange rate, however, it is still good for you because you won’t get affected when the rate goes down.

Travel money card functions as a debit card without linking to your account.

Another vital security benefit of having a travel money card is it can function as a debit card. You won’t need to link it your bank account, for it is a stand-alone card. By having it, you are able to minimize the risk of losing money due to theft or fraud. Furthermore, a travel money card includes a PIN code access, the chip, and you can block the card once it’s stolen.

On the whole, it is essential to get a travel money card when you are tripping overseas. Definitely, there is nothing to worry about carrying a lot of cash anymore, for you can simply bring your travel money card with you. These reasons mentioned above will help you decide why you need it. Hence, make it a point to consider having one in order to experience a hassle-free and enjoyable out-of-the-country vacation with your family or friends. Your trip will surely be one for the books!

World’s Best Festivals One Shouldn’t Miss

Part of the fun of travel is the chance to participate in another way of life. There’s no better means of doing this than to get involved with one of the many colorful festivals taking place each year around the globe. Whichever continent you’re heading to, there’s sure to be something fantastic. Here, we look at five of the best.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil
This needs no introduction. Attracting more than two million party-goers daily onto the streets of Rio de Janeiro, it runs for six days at the beginning of Lent. Rio’s samba schools are the driving force, and their colorful floats and dancers pack the streets for the main parade. However, the carnival also includes plenty of other festivities, in which anyone can join in and show off their samba moves.

Maralal Camel Derby, Kenya
If you find yourself in Kenya in August, you might want to head north to the small desert town of Maralal for its camel derby. Attracting participants and spectators from all over the world, competition is intense, although some riders show better control over their camels than others.

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MassKara Festival, Philippines
The Philippines is not yet a regular stop on the backpacker trail but you’ll be missing out if you don’t go. So much the better if you can time your visit around the MassKara festival. Held in Bacolod City and named for the smiling masks worn by participants, it includes a street dance competition, a beauty pageant and music. Characterized by the friendliness of its participants, it’s a popular festival so accommodation requires planning ahead. Luckily, real estate in the Philippines is booming, and you can easily find the best condos on Zipmatch, whether you want to rent or to buy.

The Venice Carnival, Italy
Dating back to the fourteenth century, Venice’s annual carnival is Europe’s oldest. Beginning after Christmas and running until the day before Lent, it attracts more than three million visitors annually. Many are tempted by the bright masks worn by carnival-goers, some of whom may be hoping to carry away the prize awarded to the most beautiful mask. Originally introduced to blur the distinction between the nobility in their fine clothes and ordinary people who could never hope to afford garments of the same quality, the masks remain popular today among Venetians and tourists alike.

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Holi, India
Marking the victory of good over evil, this Hindu festival of colors is celebrated in the north of India during the full moon in March. Unwary travelers venturing onto the streets can expect to return to their hostel or hotel with their clothes covered in brightly colored powder, or soaking wet from water balloons. However, this is still one of the best and most exuberant festivals in the world. People of all ages flock into the streets to perform religious rituals in front of huge bonfires, exchange greetings, dance and, yes, throw handfuls of colored powder around.

The Most Comfortable Night’s Sleep Money Can Buy In Singapore

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a president or a princess, a sultan or a king? While it’s unlikely most of us will reach these stations in life, that doesn’t mean we can’t live like a king or a queen – at least for a few nights.

Luxury hotels are designed to cater to their guests’ every whim, creating a space that is both lavishly opulent and endlessly comfortable. Whether offering butler service or massages on your private balcony, these testaments to exclusivity provide everything you could possibly want, day and night.

If you happen to be travelling to Singapore, and are searching for an exquisitely comfortable night’s rest, look no further. For anyone in need of some inspiration, this is what it’s like to stay in one of the finest luxury hotels in Singapore.

A Sense of Refinement

Looking out onto the dazzling Marina Bay waterfront, The Fullerton Bay Hotel enjoys prime positioning within Singapore’s vibrant heritage precinct. Paying heed to the elegance and culture of yesteryear, this is a hotel that embodies sophisticated refinement.

Honoured with a position within the top one per cent of hotels in Singapore by TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2017, The Fullerton Bay Hotel combines personalised service and exquisite facilities within a magnificent setting.

And what about that view? With its enviable waterfront location, this charming hotel provides perfectly picturesque views over Marina Bay from many of its rooms and suites, but perhaps none more so than the Presidential Suite.

Luxuriate the Senses

Guests staying in the luxurious Presidential Suite can enjoy a panoramic view of the Marina Bay waterfront and city skyline from both the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows in every room, and from the privacy of the suite’s exclusive balcony.

Imagine looking out onto the shimmering water at sunset, watching as reds, pinks and oranges soar across the sky. Observe as one-by-one, lights within Singapore’s towering buildings illuminate the cityscape – all from the tranquil retreat that is the Presidential Suite.

Sprawling across 152 square metres, the suite is spacious and perfectly laid out. Lavishly appointed, it is decked out in opulent golden acer, with rosewood wall panels, creamy marble and perfectly positioned embellishments of tasteful artworks.

Guests can relax in the generous living and dining area, unwind in the lounge and game room, or get some work done in the study. Come night time, they can shut out the world within the tranquil bedroom, sink into bed to luxuriate in Egyptian cotton quality linen, enfolded in a glorious goose down duvet and pillows.

There is just so much to love about living as a king or queen – or indeed, as a president. From helpful services such as express checkout and a shoe shine service, to customised Bottega Veneta collection room amenities and complimentary IDD calls to 15 selected countries, these are the little things that make a stay in the Presidential Suite an exceptional experience.

But really, whether staying in the opulent Presidential Suite, or any of the other beautifully appointed hotel suites and rooms, each stay at The Fullerton Bay Hotel is bound to be more than a little special.

Your Guide To ‘The Nowruz Festival’ in Iran

For over 3,000 years, the Iranian people have been celebrating a festival called Nowruz which is their New Year. The festival takes place each year between March 20th-23rd and signifies the first day of the Spring and the rebirth of nature. The Persian and Iranian New Year is one of the biggest celebrations of all the Persian festivals and is made up of various different customs as part of the overall celebrations. Let’s take a look at the past and the present of this incredible festival. The word Nowruz quite literally means new year and this is how the celebrations go down.

The Origins

For thousands and thousands of years, this time in the calendar has long been a celebration for many different religions and peoples, from the Zoroastars the Babylonians and to the Proto-Indo-Iranians as a celebration of the end of the winter. The vernal equinox signifies the beginning of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the rebirth of nature and the time when crops can once again be sewn. This is a celebration that is enjoyed by many different people’s and religions to this day but the largest by far is by the Iranian people by way of Nowruz.

Celebrations

There are many different parts of the overall celebrations and we are going to take a look into a few of the ways in which the people enjoy the festival.

Haft Sin

Some days before the New Year, a special cover called the cloth of seven dishes is placed on the Persian carpet or table in the household. The number 7 is sacred in Persian tradition and seven dishes are placed on the cloth to represent the seven angelic heralds of the life-rebirth. Sprouts, Samanu pudding, Apple (Seeb), Senjed (fruit from the locust tree,) Garlic (Seer,) Somaq berries and vinegar (Serkeh) are all laid out n the table. Other items can be placed on the table which represent hopes for the future, these range from coins for wealth, eggs for fertility, a mirror for reflection and sometimes an orange floating in a bowl of water to represent the Earth in space.

Chaharshanbe Souri

The actual beginnings of the celebration are on the eve of the final Wednesday of the year. Many bonfires are made and family members will jumping over the bonfire and chant “Give me your redness and take away my wintry sallow complexionˮ. When the fires go out, the ashes are collected and planted in the fields to represent the burial of the previous year.

Haji Firuz

The heralding of the New Year is this character who signifies a fire-keeper, a man from the village will dress up in a red get-up complete with black face and red hat. People will gather around Haji Firuz and chant, sing and play the tambourine to celebrate the New Year.

Sizdah Bedar

This occurs on the 13th day of the year and sees families take to the great outdoors to celebrate nature. They will take picnics and enjoy games in the fields. The sprouts (sabzeh) which have been kept on the tables or in the homes will be thrown into the fields to rid bad luck form the house and to make the nature greener.

And that is the celebrations of the Iranian New Year or Nowruz.

Weirdest And Most Wonderful Australia Festivals

For a nation who are considered pretty down-to-earth, straight shooting folk, you’d be surprised at juts what kind of weirdness goes on throughout Australia. I was intrigued to get involved with some of the most madcap festivals that the country has on offer so last year I headed down under, flew about, rented some cars from Budget and headed throughout as much of the land as I could to explore some of the crazy festivals that the country had in store and I wasn’t disappointed, here’s what I found.

Chinchilla

Chinchilla is the melon capital of Australia and in the late 80s there was a terrible drought which meant that production ground to a halt. Once the drought was over, the town organized a festival of all things melon-y and the results are awesome. Each year the town and tourists gather for a melon appreciation day which sees them compete in a range of activities that are based around, you’ve guessed it, melons. Here you will find melon skiing, pip spitting and eating contests as well as melon hats and memorabilia. Truly a festival like no other.

Darwin’s Beer Can Regatta

In what is a beautiful combination of sustainability and madness, each year Darwin runs its Beer Can regatta which sees inhabitants collecting all of the littered beer cans that are left on the beaches, and turns them into sea-worthy crafts which pit themselves against the other entrants. Winners of the regatta are not only judged on their ability to float but also their design which has led to some incredible, beer can masterpieces over the years.

Alice Springs Camel Race

Whilst horse racing does exist in Australia, the locals of Alice Springs have flipped the idea on its head and since around 1970 decided that camels are far more fun to race. The Uluru Camel Cup is a coveted trophy for which many practice all year to win, these feral beasts are highly populous in Australia and they can reach some truly incredible speeds.

Wife Carrying, Singleton

The highlight of the Singleton Agricultural Festival is the wife carrying competition, an idea first conceived in Finland but one which offers sufficient madness for the Aussies to jump on to. The wife carrying competition is more than just a race, entrants must not only hump their Sheilas to the finish line fastest but maneuver through a tricky obstacle course along the way. Once nothing more than an entertaining event, entrants these days take the competition far more seriously and the winner is highly respected.

Port Lincoln Tunarama Festival

Not just any seafood festival, the Tunarama Festival in Port Lincoln likes to add some real fun and games to they appreciation to all things marine life. At this festal you will find the high class side of things with oyster-sipping and fine dining and then at the other end of the spectrum you will find muscle-bound men hurling a frozen tuna fish to see who can throw it the furthest, true madness.

I would recommend that if you are visiting Australia this year then you check out which of these crazy festivals is on the calendar during your stay to appreciate a whole different side to the country.