When it comes time to head out for your Summer vacation or other trip, there are a number of factors to take into consideration to make for the smoothest trip possible. You don’t want to ruin your trip by forgetting to pack some essential or forgetting to book a hotel room, because the last thing you need during your break from the world is for the world to come crashing down on you unexpectedly. Here are some tips to make for the best possible vacation this Summer.
First and foremost, you’re going to want to book everything in advance. This means accomodations, transportations, events, rental cars, etc. Make sure your hotel room is secured as early as possible so you have all the time you may or may not need to cancel. Likewise for the other items on this list. You want to be sure everything is taken care of ahead of time, and you also want the maximum amount of time to able to cancel if your plans are forced to change.
When it comes to packing, it is of the utmost importance that you don’t forget the essentials. For starters, make sure you take your toiletries, such as toothpaste, your toothbrush, and deodorant. You’ll also need enough clothes for each day of the trip and some backups, just in case. You also want to make sure, absolutely sure, that you don’t leave behind your ID and passport, if needed. These items are of the kind you cannot afford to forget. Make sure you have enough money, both in card form and the form of cold, hard cash to suit every situation. If you’re in need of supplies, be it for adventuring or just around the house, stocking up at Sam’s Club is the right way to go. Buying in bulk will save you a ton.
Iceland is one of the destinations that more and more people put on their bucket list each year. Tourism is booming thanks to long stopovers on flights from Europe to the United States and Canada. It’s become affordable in recent years too and finding a budget flight to the capital, Reykjavik, from major European cities is easier than ever. If you want to experience the rugged and unforgiving landscapes and soak in thermal baths, Iceland is a good destination for you. This Iceland travel guide describes everything you need to know about visiting the country.
Why Visit Iceland:
There are so many reasons to visit Iceland. You can spend the morning exploring the lava fields and then relax at the world famous Blue Lagoon. Some people will rent a car and take a road trip around the Ring Road, others visit the glaciers or go whale watching. The landscape is incredible and you’ll find opportunities for photographs around almost every corner.
In the summer time, you can see the midnight sun and have the freedom to go sightseeing at any time of the day. And, in the winter you can hope to see the Northern Lights. Lots of people travel to Iceland to specifically see the Northern Lights, but the country gets less than four hours of sunlight in the dead of winter. And the weather is more unpredictable. The best time to see the lights is sometime between February and March when there are about eight or nine hours of sunlight.
The Best Things to Do in Iceland:
This all depends on your personal preferences. Most tourists fly into Keflavik Airport and spend a few days in Reykjavik. The capital is small and feels more like a provincial town than the capital of one of the former wealthiest countries in Europe.
You can spend a day walking around the city and seeing its most famous landmark, Hallgrímskirkja Church. This is a giant Lutheran Church that dominates most of the skyline in Reykjavik. Another great thing to do in the capital is to walk around the lake. You can see swans and ducks, which makes a perfect photograph against the backdrop of the city.
If you have your own car, feel free to explore the surrounding areas and even drive up to the nearby town of Keflavik. This is a small town, well a village by non-Icelandic standards, with a beautiful lighthouse at the end of peninsular. Most people only come here when they arrive and depart. But, it’s also a charming little Icelandic town with lots of places to take a good photograph. When the weather is very clear, you can sometimes see the Snaefellsnes Glacier in the distance.
The Golden Circle:
Any visitor to Iceland, whether they’re self-driving or part of a tour, will do the Golden Circle. This is the most popular tourist route in the country and covers around 300 kilometers in a circular route from Reykjavik. The main stops include Thingvellir National Park, the Haukadalur Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss Waterfall.
Thingvellir is a major historical and cultural region in Iceland and was the site of the first Icelandic parliament. The largest natural lake in the country is inside this national park. You can also see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge here, which is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart. This area is about 40 kilometers from Reykjavik.
Haukadalur is the home to the very active geysers and is one of the most popular things to see in the whole country. A geyser erupts hot water and steam into the air like a volcano would. The most active and reliable is Strokkur and you can expect to see this eject its contents into the air every five to six minutes. As you get to the area, you’ll walk through the hot springs along a path between the bubbling mud. If you’re lucky, you may see some of the smaller ones erupt too, but these are rarer than Strokkur. This is a perfect place for a photograph and it’s quite common for tourists to take videos of this incredible natural phenomenon. A word of warning, the water is hot and the signs are there for a reason. Tourists who stray into the places where they shouldn’t can and do suffer burns.
The final stop on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss Waterfall. This is the largest and most beautiful waterfall in Iceland. You can hear it crashing down from miles away and when you get there, the site will take your breath away. It’s a perfect place to have a photograph. But, the rocks are slippery and it can be quite dangerous. Make sure you listen to the guides and follow the safety rules.
You can visit a number of other towns and attractions on this route too. This is especially the case if you have your own car, which gives you the freedom to explore. As you’re driving down the road, follow the brown signs to serendipitous attractions or simply pull over in the parking spaces for opportunistic photographs. It goes without saying that the summer months are a better time for this when you have 20 or more hours of daylight.
The Takeaway Message:
Iceland is a great destination to experience a world that’s far from what we’re familiar with back at home. If you have the chance, rent a car and explore the country. Or, spend a day or two in the capital and take the Golden Circle tour. One thing’s for certain, a trip to Iceland won’t disappoint.
Planning your next trip and looking for some advice?
Maybe you have traveled before, be it for holidays, business or a long term trip. Having the best knowledge to manage your trip well and to help you enjoy all of the experiences along the way is important when setting out. Having traveled, I have put together five tips to help you with your travels.
Be an early riser
Wake up for sunrise to have the best locations and views all to yourself. Sunrise is a spectacular time for snapping some photos due to the unique light. Higher risk or “dodgy” areas are also less threatening in the morning times too. If you’re on a long term trip, then having some time to yourself can be a nice way to appreciate life, free from distractions.
Have some humility
In years to come, you will look back on your travels and remember all of the times when you felt like you looked like a fool. When you’re in a new place with different languages and traditions, it’s very easy to feel vulnerable or silly for not knowing something or doing something in a different way. But don’t get embarrassed, just laugh at yourself and take a deep breath. Don’t fear failure and remember to empathise with peoples customs.
Extra cash is king!
All over the world, cash is still king. In the event of an emergency, stashing some cash in multiple places is a good idea just to cover yourself. I would suggest a couple hundred pound/dollars/euros worth at least. That way, if you do happen to lose your wallet, if your debit/credit card stops functioning, or if ATMs actually run out of cash, you’ll be safe as you will have your stash!
Examples of places to stash your extra cash would be under shoe insoles, in your socks, in a toiletry bag, or in a secret compartment in your bag.
Meet Local People
Many places will be full of travelers, depending where you go and what the purpose of your trip is. You should make it your business to avoid fellow travelers for some of your trip and strike up conversations with the local people. Generally, basic English is the language of world. So relax, it is much easier to communicate than you may have thought, especially combining body language and tone of voice.
The locals may teach you a traditional cooking method or some unique music. The people you meet will enrich your travels much more than sights will.
Patience is a virtue
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Whatever is thrown at you, life is too short to be annoyed or frustrated for any longer than a minute!
Miss your bus or train? Not to worry, there will be another one shortly.
Wifi goes down for an hour? Great! Talk to a human being or take an unplanned trip over to closest village and look around. Have patience.
The bottom line is
You will figure it all out as you go. Stuff will happen, your direction might change. That’s life.
In a previous article we touched on three of the many scams that you may encounter on your travels, from taking a ride in a cab to using your gadgets on public wifi. Below, there are three further scams to watch out for and how to avoid them:
A closed attraction
This travel scam is common among major tourist locations. A random “friendly” local (who probably also speaks very good English) approaches you, informing you that the attraction you were looking to visit is actually closed, for any possible reasons (e.g. religious, national holiday). They will then happily guide or bring you to a different shop or attraction where you will be pressured into buying something or pay over the top for entry.
Visit the ticket office or shop front and find out for yourself if it is closed! Alternatively, you could ask a local who is willing to help.
The group photo offer
At a busy tourist attraction or landmark, a local will offer you to take a big group photo with your friends. As soon as you start getting ready for the shot, you look up to discover that your new photographer friend has completely vanished, along with the expensive smart phone or camera.
This is a tricky one to judge, you really need to analyse the situation well. Busy attractions in cities are typically the most risky of places for this scam. If you really need to, ask a fellow tourist to take the photo and exchange the favour.
Motorbike/scooter rental damage
You rent out a scooter or motorbike. It seems to get damaged overnight, or worse again it gets stolen!
The owner demands additional payment or tells you that repairing it will be expensive and wants compensation. But what you didn’t realise is that it the owner or his associates was the bike thief.
Get out your phone and take some photos of the motorbike first to document any previously visible damage. Buy your own lock to use, don’t use one provided by that rental person (who may really have the spare keys for it!). If possible, don’t tell the rental company where you’re staying and please also inspect that there is a secure place for parking the motorbike overnight.
More to come
As with my previous three scams and how to avoid them, it really is down to being vigilant and aware of the pitfalls of being goods and services in foreign places. Having your wits about you is key, so try to be of sound mind when you do go to buy something or ask for advice on something. Being under the influence gives scam artists the upper hand to take advantage of you, especially if it is night time and where running off could be a very easy option for them. If you haven’t already done so, check out my other article on 3 Travel Scams (And How To Avoid Them)
Traveling can be as cheap or expensive as you want it or make it to be. If you want to save some money on your travels, so you can extend your stay or pay for experiences on the go, then some simple clever budgeting is the way to go! Below, I have outlined five ways that you can save money on the road. Some are more so for American travellers but they are worth reading no matter where you are coming from.
Check your credit line
You will need to ensure that your credit history is looking good if you want to get a credit card with travel rewards/points. Bear in mind, some countries don’t offer these types of credit cards. So check out if you can get one in your country first.
Find out your credit score and simulate what would happen if you spent x amount on flights or made a large purchase. A credit simulator tool will give you an idea of what your financial boundaries would be.
Give it a shot, and see what your score looks like here. Many apps like credit simulators are 100% free so give it a try!
Avoid bad rates at foreign exchange providers
Getting approved for a travel reward card will depend on point 1 above of having your credit rating in a solid place. This can give you bonuses like travel insurance and no fees for foreign currency transfers.
While traveling, converting your currency at the airport (a lot of tourists do!) typically means that you will get overcharged! You might receive a “commission-free” exchange but you’ll also get a horrible exchange rate and that’s where the company makes the money, at your expense.
Usually, is can be cheaper to just use your debit card at an ATM to take out cash. Having a good credit card while traveling, will give you flexibility for higher purchases such as hotels, excursions or renting a vehicle. (while you might also collect some free travel points!).
Always know the exchange rate for the country you are traveling to. Check out the rates online before you convert your currency.
Get yourself some travel insurance
Some travel rewards credit cards also offer travel insurance to many of their customers, free of charge even!
It might vary depending on the credit card but many companies also offer free insurance for car rentals, insurance if your flight is delayed and also insurance for lost or damaged luggage, which could be valuable to you if you are traveling with expensive electronic gadgets.
Find out from your credit card provider what they can offer you regarding insurance.
Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees for ATMs
If you are an American, many US credit card providers will charge you a non-US transaction fee for purchases overseas. This can be as high as 3%, so it is worth looking into if you can source an alternative credit card or see if they will allow free overseas transactions in certain retailers or locations.
Planning your trip can be fun and exciting but don’t plan too much or your trip itself might become less exciting as it will be too scripted and you might feel that you have to rigidly stick to the plan!
After all, you may find that you prefer one place over another and so rearrange your plans to move on or stay. Spontaneity is great and keep sth travel experience fresh and unique. It’s in these spontaneous moments that we learn something new or meet someone who we will never forget. I have listed below five things to do or ways to approach travelling that you might like to consider:
As you travel throughout the world, you will see the vast variances in the poverty divide. You should make it your business to volunteer for worthwhile meaningful projects while you are traveling. This is not only a rewarding experience, but you can often learn more about a country and its people in addition to making new friends through volunteer work. You might find somewhere to volunteer when you arrive or you can pre-plan it.
There are a couple of websites around where you can search for recommended opportunities to volunteer around the world. Do some research and find something that is close to your heart and will benefit people.
Get lost on purpose
To see where the real people live and work, you’ll need to go visit those areas. So many places in the world are geared up for tourism and this gives a certain portrayal of an area but often you will need to venture out further to discover authenticity. Not knowing where you are going, wander off!
Make note of your hostel or accommodation name if you need to get a taxi back later, then just randomly pick a direction and get your feet moving.
But what about danger? Don’t be too worried about meandering across a dangerous neighbourhood either, as many locals will usually warn you before hand.
Eat local cuisine
Coming from he Western world, you might think that you already know what Chinese or Indian food tastes like? But you are probably wrong! On your travels, taste everything even if you don’t really know what you’r eating. Ask for local eating recommendations too. If eating street food, choose a vendor with a big queue out in front!
Don’t make the mistake of cramming five countries into five weeks of travel!
Usually, all of the good stuff that you’ll forever more cherish happens when you simply take your time to explore the area. You will learn about the activities that you won’t find in the guidebook and you will also meet people who are eager to show you around. Its nice to not have to be anywhere at any time and just soak it all up.
These four things can really help you enhance your experience of travel. There are lots of ways to make your traveling better, more rewarding, more exciting or whatever it is you are looking for!
Have you ever wondered why some people like or share certain things, I certainly have? Nowadays, an account on social media has become our digital ID. We all have different personalities, behavior, and patterns and various social media give us an opportunity to express ourselves. But, at what cost, have we lost a tough with reality and is our personal life at risk? Not many people would agree with this statement because for them networks such as Facebook and Twitter are a way to relax and have some fun.
Does social media reflect your personality
I could say that in some way this is true. Based on our personality we will share individual posts, like specific pages and accept friends based on our character. The social media is now representing our personality in a digital world. But, this all can be deceiving as well, we might be under the influence of some online trends, so we decide to share and like concrete posts. For example, I have a Facebook account, and I am an active user, sometimes I just publish or post something which is popular at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I am thrilled about those things. Many people act in the same way, just to get the bigger number of comments or likes. In this case, I just want to give you the two sides of the same coin. It all depends on the personality of the individual.
Social media can change you
With the use of social media, you get a chance to change and design your brand or your name. But, that doesn’t mean you are the same person in real life. Many people use networks like Twitter and Facebook to promote their business and to increase popularity. We often fail to mention the things we consider our fault, but we highlight other parts of our personality and appearance we believe are the best. Social media accounts used in this way, in most cases are deceiving, and we have a hard time recognizing what is the truth and what is the lie. On the other hand, some people use social media to promote their personality the statement “you are what you share” can be applied to them. You just need to be able to recognize them.
Do your posts and likes really describe you?
It all depends on a person, as we already mentioned, there are two types of people on social media. One type is in search on popularity and likes, and the other kind is here to express its personality and thoughts through posts, pictures, and likes. I would say that 50% of users are honest and the other half is just pretending.
So you have packed your bags full of clothes for every season. And then you end up throwing some out or donating some to charity to save space and reduce weight. So now you will probably be wearing some of your clothes a little longer. Keeping your clothes clean on the road is a challenge at first but there are ways to manage it well and for little cost. It’s actually pretty easy to keep everything fresh and clean. Below are some techniques I use that you could also adopt on your adventures:
The method is pretty easy to follow. Plug the sinks drain, add in your soap, add some hot water and wash the clothes by hand, the good old fashioned way! This is probably the most popular way that travelers clean their garments and it costs only for the soap (free if you collect some in the previous hostel or eatery).
If the drain in your sink is missing, then rolling up a sock or a cloth will work too, just stuff it in to block the hole. Wrapping the cloth or sock in a plastic bag will improve your drain blocker ability! Finally, rinse off the garments in the sink and unplug.
The world is full of coin operated laundromats. Although, these are usually found in the cities and larger towns. Occasionally, hostels and guesthouses will have a few machines, just ask at reception.
Basically you put your clothes in, set the temperature and time, add some detergent and put in your money to start the washing cycle. These are a great place to meet people and you can have a chat while you wait around.
The laundry lady
Depending on where you are, there may be a laundry service for a small additional charge. Simply arrange to have your laundry done onsite and you won’t have to worry about the wash-dry burden yourself!
Finally, drying your clothes
If washing your clothes with the wash-in-the-sink method, discovering an efficient, quick way to dry them is crucial! Depending on the weather and general climate of where you are in the world, drying clothes outdoors might not be an option to rely on. However, when the sun is out, and your hostel or accommodation does have an outdoor clothesline (very often found on the roof), drying your clothes out on the line in the fresh air will only take a couple of hours.
What is the weather is bad?
In places of bad weather or if you are in a hurry for a flight so you are forced to dry indoors, below is a nifty trick to speed things up for you:
Get a dry towel, lay it out over a bed, put your garment on that towel then roll it up really tight.
Additional moisture will be sucked out by the dry towel, giving you a faster dry time for your clothes.