The best places to see the Northern Lights

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Have you heard or read about the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are one of the greatest shows displayed by Mother Nature. They occur when there is a collision between solar particles and gases in the atmosphere. They may last for a few minutes or even several days. Many people dream of viewing this incredible spectacle, and choose a vacation destination for this purpose. Does this sound like you?

Check out some of the best places to see the Northern Lights below.

1. Fairbanks, Alaska

This is one of the best places from which you can view the Northern Lights. The dark nights, clear skies, and cold weather offer you ideal aurora viewing conditions.

If you are worried about the cold temperatures, you can view the lights near the steaming hot springs. You can often see the aurora from anywhere in Alaska. However, the best viewing site is at Fairbanks which is located in the “auroral oval”.

The Northern Lights are available for your viewing pleasure throughout the year. However, the best time is during the winter months.

2. Reykjavik, Iceland

This is one of the cheapest and most accessible sites for you to view the Northern Lights. However, you may need to leave the cities to get dark skies. This offers you a clear, uninterrupted view.

There are many Northern Lights tours available. You can opt for a tour in a four-wheel drive vehicle or a boat cruise, from which you can admire the Aurora, in all its glory.

3. Canada

Most of Canada falls under the “auroral oval”. However, you will be guaranteed the best Northern Lights view in the sparsely populated province of Yukon. There is virtually no light pollution in this area, thus offering you a fantastic view of the lights.

To avoid the harsh winter conditions, it would be best if you go during the autumn season. You can also try visiting during the March equinox. During this time, there is an increase in solar activity and this will give you an unforgettable view of the lights.

4. Norway

This is one of the most magical places you can check out the Northern Lights. Norway is a comfortable place to view them, and you can choose from a variety of aurora viewing options. It is also quite easy for you to get around this beautiful country.

The best place to view the aurora is Tromso. Other places you can try out include Harstad and the Lofoten Islands. An ideal time to visit would be between October and March.

5. Finland

From September to March, the lights shine almost every other night in Finland. You can view the aurora from just about anywhere, so long as you are away from the cities. However, be warned as, during these months, it can get quite cold.

You can even opt to view the lights from a glass igloo as you keep warm in bed.

The Northern Lights are a sight to behold. If you get the chance, you can visit any one of these places to see this amazing natural spectacle.

So go on ahead and plan that well-deserved vacation. Make a point of visiting the best places to see the Northern Lights.

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10 great European art anniversaries in 2019

From 100 years of Bauhaus to 500 years since Leonardo’s death, a host of landmark art events and exhibitions open around Europe this year

It is 350 years since the death of Rembrandt van Rijn. There is a year-long programme of events in nine Dutch cities, focusing on Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age (listings at holland.com). In Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum (15 Feb-10 June) will display all of its 22 paintings, 60 drawings and 300 engravings – the biggest Rembrandt collection ever seen in a single exhibition. Later in the year it has a Rembrandt and Velazquez show (11 Oct-19 Jan), while the Rembrandt House Museum has three exhibitions and the City Archives tell his personal story (until 7 April). In the Hague, the Mauritshuis (until 15 Sept) is showing 18 paintings attributed to Rembrandt; there’s a display of the painter’s early work at Leiden’s Museum De Lakenhal (3 Nov-9 Feb 2020, lakenhal.nl); and the Fries Museum (to 7 March) has an intimate show devoted to his wife, Saskia . Exhibitions are also taking place in Germany and the UK.
See codart.nl for details

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Cheapest places to travel to in the winter

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We are living in a society where almost everyone is struggling to save up money while trying to fulfill their dreams. People spend their most of the time in a set routine, at offices, shops, factories, hospitals, and school. They are so stuck in their professional life schedule that they forget to enjoy their personal life.

It’s very important to spend quality time with your loved ones, and we should never forget to explore the beauty of nature. This is particularly true in the winter, that time of year when the holidays roll around. This season is a collection of festivals and vacations, and with the cold weather, it can be tempting to take a trip somewhere new.

Here are some of the best places to travel to in the winter – even if you are on a budget.

Gambia

Gambia is best for nature lovers. It is one of the smallest country in Africa, but there are a number of beaches to be found there. Some of the cities on the western coast of the country are Bakau, Fajara, and Kotu you can soak up the sun and sea at the coastal resorts there. There are a lot cheap and cheerful hotels available, like the beachside Lemon Creek Hotel Resort in Bijilo.

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

December is the time of winter when a lot of people start to think about sunbathing. Tenerife is balmy compared to rest of the places in Europe. The weather is still reliably pleasant all year round, with almost no rain. There are plenty of hotels and hundreds of delicious restaurants for people coming for shorter periods, but weekly and monthly rental apartments here are very popular.

Mexico

Mexico is a great destination for people who want affordable winter sun destinations. It is also closer to the United States than Europe, so might be easier for Americans to reach. There are frequently vacation deals, which can help bring down the prices, too.

For beautiful beaches, you can head to the Riviera Maya and soak up the Mexican culture on the breathtaking coastline. Riviera Maya is a tourist destination and resort town, so there are plenty of hotels, resorts, and hostels that will fit your budget.

There are many water sports and activities that you can do including scuba diving, jet skiing, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, and more. The underwater caves are unique and unmatched by any other locations in the world. Plus, there are some excellent archaeological sites nearby such as Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Coba

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the one of the finest destinations for those people who are living the coldest climates \across the globe. This is a fairly cheap city compared to North America or Europe, so bargains are not hard to find on the ground. Of course, hotels will be cheaper in early December than during Christmas week. 3-star hotels are available from $ 61 for a couple. There is so much to see and do here from the stunning nature to water sports and beaches.

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Beautiful reefs around the world

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Although life above water is pretty darn spectacular, sometimes you just need to grab your diving gear and take the plunge. The ocean is full of weird and wonderful creatures, and you just never know what you might find when you dip your head and swim even deeper under the surface. While much of the underwater world is beautiful, there is nothing more beautiful than a coral reef.

Rainbow Reef, Fiji

The Rainbow Reef in Fiji earned its name for bringing some of the most vibrant colors into our lives. The coral reef is chock full of yellows, reds, oranges, pinks, blues, and more, and this reef even offers a wide selection of hard and soft coral for you to check out. It’s a true feast for the eyes, which is why so many people make this their diving spot each year.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is perhaps one of the most famous reefs in the world, and for a good reason. It’s the largest natural reef in the world and holds more than 400 types of coral. Because of this, you can spend days diving from the many islands that stand within this reef, checking out all of the colors and all of the amazing wildlife that calls this place home. It’s not one to miss.

New Caledonia Barrier Reef, New Caledonia

It seems as though we’re not the only ones who think this place is pretty spectacular because the New Caledonia Barrier Reef has actually been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beneath the multi-colored water is a whole world that offers a double barrier reef and some of the most incredible sea creatures on the planet.

Apo Reef, Philippines

The Philippines is known for offering some of the most beautiful waterways in the world, but it seems as though the Apo Reef is the piece-de-resistance. Located on the Mindoro Strait, this reef offers a whopping 13 miles of coral reef for divers to enjoy. The variety of colors and coral under the water shows just how diverse this area of the world can be.

Bonaire Reef, Dutch Caribbean

If you’re into diving, there’s a high chance that the reputation of Bonaire Reef precedes itself. This reef is often called the “Diver’s Paradise” because it has everything a diver could possibly want to see. The water is perfectly clear, which offers unedited views of the variety of colors that live beneath the surface. From hard to soft coral, this reef is like a painting underwater.

We are lucky enough to live in a world that is full of natural beauty. Most of us don’t have to stray too far to see this for ourselves, but it’s fair to say that humans have had a detrimental effect on these environments. With our coral reefs depleting at an alarming rate, the rush is on to save these underwater societies before they are gone for good. Let’s keep these beautiful reefs as beautiful as possible!

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A river ride to Rishikesh: India’s new adventure capital

Rishikesh shot to fame when the Beatles arrived, in search of enlightenment. Half a century on, the area is attracting a different kind of seeker – those after rapids, zipwires and mountain treks

I’ve only been in the raft a few minutes, bobbling down a placid stretch of India’s holy Ganges River, before my guide, Kalyan Singh Bhandari, puts his paddle down and sings a haunting Garhwali folk song typical of these Himalayan foothills. The warbling tune is, he says, meant to bring us good luck as we navigate the class 3 and 3+ rapids ahead.

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Why you should travel in the off-season

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Knowing exactly when to take a trip is an artת and if you are able to make the most of travel during the off-seasonת it’s possible to save thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, busy travel periods nearly always fall during school and national holidays, with the peak occurring through the Christmas and New Year period. If you can only travel during these times, you will be hit with higher costs for everything and more stress, with more people trying to get to their destinations.

If you can skip these busy periods and opt for a trip during the off-season, you’ll find many benefits. Here are some of the top reasons you should travel in the off-season.

Flights

Flights are a big factor in why you should travel in the off-season, and they do tend to be the biggest expenditure item for any kind of holiday. An off-season flight can be as much as 50% less than a peak season flight and sometimes you can save even more. It’s still always a good idea to research the area you are traveling to, just in case there are any negative factors that might put you off, such as rainy seasons or cold weather. There’s no point taking a cheap flight if you end up being miserable and cold.

Accommodation

Hotel prices do vary by season, with peak rates right at the top of the scale and off-season at the other end. Check prices online – you can look at individual hotel websites or follow a few of the websites that offer a number of hotel providers. The swings in price can be quite remarkable, with as much as a 100% increase for peak season rooms. That’s the world we live in, and hotels have to milk it as much as they can because high season rates only last for a short time. For example, in Thailand, high season might only run from November to January, and hoteliers have to cash in to cover for the nine-month low season.

Dining out

This one is not always easy to predict, and some restaurants in some countries might actually bring their rates up during the low season to try to make more money. It is a strange logic really, as the people traveling during low season are more interested in paying less. Other restaurants might only open during the high season, which means off-season travelers might be eating more with local people. This could prove a bonus as it’s a good way to get to know locals and they might be enjoying tastier food.

Fewer crowds

Since fewer people are able to travel during the low season, you will run into fewer crowds. This also frequently means no kids, as they should all be at school. Finding accommodation should not be a problem and you won’t get stuck in all kinds of different tourist lines. You should be able to visit places of interest in a stress-free way, compared with the high season. You will often even pay less to enjoy the benefits.

There are lots benefits to be enjoyed by traveling during the off-season, and if you’re a person with no set timetable, you can journey the world at half the cost of a high season traveler.

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10 of the best meditation retreats in the UK and Europe

We pick mindfulness and meditation holidays in beautiful surroundings – many combined with other activities like walking, singing and tai chi
More retreat top 10s: yoga | creative | by readers

In the Dart valley near Totnes, the Sharpham Trust meditation centre offers mindfulness retreats of different lengths throughout the year, including walking and singing breaks. Some are held in the estate’s mansion, others in the Barn Retreat nearby. For full immersion in the natural world, its Nature Connection retreat has accommodation in bell tents in the woods, with guided meditation and mindfulness activities, foraging and feasting on wild food.
• Three-night meditation retreats from £145 full-board. Three-night Nature Connection retreat, 25 July, £335 full-board, sharphamtrust.org

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Brussels: Why you should visit this underrated city

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Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is located in Belgium’s northern center. Belgium borders the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. A well-known fact about Brussels is that this is where the European Parliament is based. Apart from that, it’s a beautiful city and ideal for a European weekend vacation or even a longer trip. The journey from London to Brussels doesn’t take much longer than one hour.

When listing the major cities in Europe, such as London, England, Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany, Brussels doesn’t seem to be mentioned. However, we’re here to tell you that Brussels is severely underrated, and you should definitely check out this great city. Here’s why.

1. European Parliament

We’ve already mentioned the European Parliament, and the actual building where it all happens is quite an outstanding piece of architecture. It can be a fun day out for kids and adults alike, just to go there and experience what’s happening. Children even have the opportunity to take part in games where they can pretend to be politicians.

2. Brussels Town Square

This is something quite unique to Brussels, and is located in the center of the city. You will find the Town Hall alongside other lavish buildings. This former market area is a popular meeting point for tourists, and in 2010 it beat Russia’s Red Square as the world’s most attractive square.

3. History lovers

Brussels is steeped in history, and is the site of Napoléon Bonaparte’s last stand, which took place not far from Waterloo. Visiting this site, you will come across all kinds of museums and exhibitions. It’s also well worth catching up on a bit of history – if you’re not familiar with this battle zone – to really understand what went on many years ago.

4. The food

The people of Brussels have high standards when it comes to food, and this is reflected by the excellent food prepared in restaurants. Brussels is a great destination for those who enjoy a good meal and getting to know global cuisine, and there is a huge selection of renowned restaurants to check out.

5. Other delicacies

Whilst on the subject of food, Belgium is well known as one of the best places for chocolate in the world. Chocolate lovers simply have to taste Belgian delicacies – they bring this delicious treat to a whole new level. And don’t forget to taste Belgian waffles and frites while you’re at it!

Brussels has a bit of everything for everyone. Even though many people skip this city when they’re traveling through Europe, we think you should put it right at the top of your list of destinations. There’s so much to see and do here, and it makes for a great vacation spot no matter what your preferences or budget are. If you make the trip, you won’t regret it.

It really is time for this underrated major city to step out from the shadows and compete with other big cities like Paris, Berlin, London, and Rome. Brussels has wonderful attractions, great food, and fascinating history.

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Where to get the best snowboarding in this winter

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For many people, winter is a season during which they want to spend time snowboarding. You can imagine how much fun it is to hit the slopes in various locations around the world. But where should you go to get the best snowboarding this winter? There are a lot of great snowboarding resorts that you can head to.

Here are some of the best snowboarding sites in the world.

1. Verbier in Switzerland

This is one of the best and cheapest snowboarding resorts in the world. The beautiful Swiss mountains in this area make for incredible snowboarding and beautiful views. The doorstep of the resort has some of the best freeride terrain. The locals in the area are so friendly and once you are there, they are ready to offer advice and assistance as you explore the area.

2. Mammoth Mountain in the USA

The original homeland for snowboarders is on Mammoth Mountain in California. There are nine world class freestyle parks in the area, and you can snowboard your winter days away in all of them. However, South Park is the best of all because it is ideal for both beginning snowboarders and those with experience. You can enjoy the trails no matter your experience.

3. Whistler Blackcomb in Canada

If you are in Canada and you ask the snowboarders about the best snowboarding resort, one of the most common answers will be Whistler. It is not far from Vancouver and it has all you need in winter if you are a snowboarder. If you are searching for miles of trails, fresh snow, deep tree runs, and even steep pitches it is all available in the resort.

4. Chamonix in France

Chamonix is well known if you are into ice axes, ropes, and carabiners. The resort is ideal for those who are searching for a rappel and those who do not want to hit themselves as they snowboard. It is just beneath Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe. If you are an adventurous freerider and mountaineer snowboarder, then Chamonix is where you need to go this winter. There is a wide variety of terrain to explore.

5. Jackson Hole

This resort is also one of the ideal destinations for snowboarders. Jackson Hole is known for its freeriding. In the winter, various snowboarders flock to the area so that they can explore the beautiful Teton Range, which has deep powder, steep lines, and so many other things. If you’re an expert snowboarder, you will be able to check out the famous Corbet’s Couloir, a difficult technical run that has been described as “America’s scariest ski slope”. And if you want someone to guide you, guides are always readily available at the resort.

6. Breckenridge in the USA

In terms of best parks in the world, Breckenridge is one of them. Its runs extend across 25 acres of mountain terrain, which is all that you need. Most snowboarders like to train here because the conditions are ideal.

There are so many snowboarding resorts that you can check out this winter. Those listed here are some of the best in the world. All you need is to do a little research to figure out which resort will fit your level of snowboarding and your budget.

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10 of the best yoga holidays in UK and Europe

Beautiful locations and activities such as running or simply hanging out on the beach complement quality yoga teaching at these retreats

Combine yoga and Greek sunshine with a holiday on Santorini, the southernmost of the Cyclades islands, staying in whitewashed houses at a boutique hotel with pool outside the village of Oia. There are two daily classes for all levels with warm, encouraging teacher Louise Gillespie-Smith, who balances creative, breath-led flow with gentle, mindful yin. An optional 10-mile hike is included, and guests are also able to enjoy sailing, sea kayaking and wine-tasting if they wish. Louise also leads holidays in the UK and French Alps.
From £795, with breakfast and three evening meals, 29 June-6 July, adventureyogi.com

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Miami airport closes a terminal early after more unpaid TSA officers call out sick during shutdown

Miami International Airport planned to close one of its terminals early this weekend, as more TSA officers, working without paychecks, called in sick, as the partial government shutdown became the longest ever.
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Where to find the best Christmas markets in the world

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Technology may have made the world feel like a small place, but when it comes time for the Christmas holiday, many tourists find themselves unsure where they should go. Christmas markets are a legendary and memorable part of holiday travel, but it can be hard to find the best ones.

Well, when it comes to Christmas markets, visiting Europe is simply a no-brainer. The list of good destinations is long, but here are some of the finest places to find the best Christmas markets.

Austria

Whenever Austria is mentioned, we tend to think about it’s capital city, Vienna. In the winter, it’s a magical wonderland, especially from late November to Christmas Eve. The “Vienna magic of advent” boasts of being one the biggest and most popular Christmas markets on the planet. Here, little kids get to explore the fairytale-like workshops, fitted with sparkling tree decorations. And don’t forget the tasty, warm drinks for children and adults!

Getting there doesn’t get any easier than just booking your flight straight to Vienna. The market is usually open from November 17th to December 24th. There are are quite a few fancy hotels around, so you don’t have to worry about safe and comfortable accommodation.

Poland

Poznan Bethlehem is the number one Christmas market in the world. When you visit, you will find yourself transported to a dreamy winter wonderland. Located in the Poznan Freedom Square, it is a sight to see, full of ice and glittering snowflakes. Of course, don’t forget to check out the ice sculpture festival – it just doesn’t happen anywhere else in Europe like it does here. People come from almost all corners of the world to carve massive ice blocks, turning them into sublime pieces of art that leave you in awe.

You also get to treat yourself to the traditional Polish cuisine, and you can even choose to embark on a private food tour.

The opening dates are from November 17th to December 21st. The two major airports nearby are Bydgoszcz and Wroclaw. The best and most affordable accommodations are located at the heart of Poznan, just about 200 meters from the Old Market Square.

Germany

Germany is definitely the first place you think of when discussing European Christmas markets. Aachen is the place to be during that special time of the year. The atmosphere is so glorious that it has made the Aachen Christmas Market world famous. The streets and squares are transformed into a wonderland full of bright colors, lights, and festive fragrances.

Everyone is always in a friendly mood, and people from all over the world come to mingle and interact with each other like no other time. The market normally opens from the November 23rd to the December 23rd. You can book your flight and land at the nearest airports in Cologne or Brussels.

It’s always a great feeling when you get to spend the holidays traveling and enjoying the sights with your loved ones. Visiting the beautiful and unique Christmas markets mentioned here can make for an experience that you will remember for a lifetime.

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The best places to go ice skating in America

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When the holiday season arrives, people all over the country take to the ice in full force, as the best time to go ice skating begins. Ice skating is an activity that is enjoyed by people of all ages all over the world, and it doesn’t matter if the ground is covered in crisp white snow or if a blazing sun is burning in the sky. So where are the best places to go ice skating in America? We will try to point you in the right direction to have a fun filled ice skating experience.

Missouri – Kansas Ice Terrace

In Kansas City, Missouri, you will find the Crown Center Ice Terrace, where many locals gather to enjoy the festive season on the ice. It has quite a history – people have been skating here for more than forty years. The Ice Terrace is all decked out for Christmas, with a 100-foot tree, 6,000 white lights, and more than 1,000 Christmas ornaments. Ice skating can be enjoyed right up until March 11th.

Jackson, Wyoming – Snake River Sporting Club

Ice time at Snake River, which has quite an exotic ring about it, has a fun, North Pole winter feel about it. The view is incredible, with the snowy peaks of the Teton mountain range close by and an abundance of skiers flying about on skies. It’s like a scene from a festive Christmas postcard, and a paradise for skaters. Behind the Snake River Clubhouse, you will find the ice rink surrounded by the forest and mountains. This location feels so peaceful and so close to nature. The air is crisp, which really helps skaters get in the spirit of this special time of year.

Rockford, Illinois – Eclipse Lagoon

Rockford’s Eclipse Lagoon is another location set in nature that is really hard to beat. Imagine all the best features of a frozen lagoon at the beautiful Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. Obviously, with a natural environment, quality ice time is determined by the weather conditions, but January is normally a good time to visit the Eclipse Lagoon.

Colorado Springs, Colorado – The Broadmoor World Arena Ice Hall

The exceptional point about Broadmoor is that it’s an Olympic training ice rink, and has been for many years. This is where you can really strut your stuff in the same place where champions practiced their moves. In fact, there is only one other place like Broadmoor in the whole United States. You will have to pay special attention to when you book your time on the ice, as the rink is mainly used for training.

Jackson, New Hampshire – Nestlenook Farms

This is another location with a real winter wonderland feel about it. The views are reminiscent of those Christmas card themes, and there is a kind of fairy tale atmosphere about the place. It’s natural and you get to skate under decorated bridges as you make your way around the frozen pond. Other seasonal treats available here include campfires, hot drinks, and sleigh rides.

If you are looking for some quality ice time, in idyllic conditions, these five locations might just be perfect for you.

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10 life-changing retreats worldwide: readers’ travel tips

In havens from Inverness to India, readers have discovered their better selves through yoga, meditation and writing courses

Dhanakosa, on the banks of beautiful Loch Voil, near Balquhidder in central Scotland, is truly a place to stop, breathe, unwind and take stock. Amid the glorious scenery, you eat delicious, healthy vegetarian meals (and can even take a recipe book home), do yoga, hill walk, learn to meditate or reinvigorate your practice and your life. It’s the perfect place to come if you just want some time out to reset yourself. I’ve come here for the weekend and for a week. They operate on the Buddhist principle of Dana or generosity. You pay the deposit of £75 (for a week) or £50 (weekend) and then from a suggested scale (from £285 to £445 for a week). It’s a magical place.
dhanakosa.com
Carolann

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The best European getaways for winter break

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Winter does not have to be a time of hibernation. On the contrary, it may be the ideal time to explore what there is to see in Europe. So pack up your coats and boots and take a journey to one of the following locations for a wonderful winter break getaway. Here are the top winter destinations in Europe.

1. Vienna, Austria

The Austrian capital is a must-see in any season, but the truth is that in winter, its magic increases, making it the ideal destination for colder days. With various markets scattered throughout the city, classical music concerts, and ice rinks for adventures on skates, Vienna is a kind of winter paradise. Lose yourself among the white-washed houses and enjoy some of the city’s historic buildings, such as the Homburg Palace and the Belvedere.

2. Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy, with its immense canals and buildings that transcend history, is one of the most popular getaways for winter break in Europe. Venice is beautiful all year round, but in winter, the city is covered with a mystical fog. The streets empty out a bit during the off season, giving you the chance to explore even the most famous sights free of the masses. Take the opportunity to visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the markets that dot the streets at this time.

3. Budapest, Hungary

With buildings that will leave you breathless, Budapest is a charming city that undoubtedly deserves a visit when the winter cold sets in and the snow begin to fall. There are many Christmas markets that pop up in the city, where it will not be difficult to find delicious food and handicrafts to take home with you. Explore the river on a small boat and, if you dare, experience the famous thermal baths.

5. Abisko, Sweden

Have you ever dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights? Abisko is a small village in Sweden, near the border with Norway, and one of the best – if not the best – sites to witness the unparalleled beauty of the Northern Lights. With sparkling lakes and a huge green mantle, it is the perfect place to escape the buzz of big cities and immerse yourself in nature.

4. Lucerne, Switzerland

Nestled on Lake Lucerne in a breathtaking mountainous setting, this Switzerland town is one of Europe’s best winter gateway as it is during this season that it really comes to life. There are many activities to do once in Lucerne, such as skiing or hiking on the paths that surround the medieval city. But there’s more here than just natural landscapes – lose yourself in its streets and you will see that the architecture is also fascinating.

5. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is a city whose canals contain unparalleled magic. The city is small for a capital, and therefore has a unique, picturesque character which makes it a great destination for a winter getaway. Wander the streets, take a stroll through the Christmas markets, and, if you have the time, take a trip over to Lake Bled, which looks like it’s taken straight from a postcard, especially when the surrounding mountains are covered with snow.

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Top places where the British Royal family travels during winter

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When most people hear about the royal family, all they think about is wealth and extravagance. Most of us think that because of their position, they only spend their time in the most luxurious and expensive cities during winter. However, this is not the case.

The British royal family often spends their time in some of the simplest but coolest regions of the world. They have been known to travel as far as Africa just to enjoy themselves. Here are the top locations where the British royal family loves to travel in winter.

1. Scotland

For many years now, Scotland has been the choice destination for Queen Elizabeth during winter. Her Royal Highness and Prince Philip usually spend their time in the private Balmoral Castle. Here, all other family members usually visit and enjoy themselves. The region is ideal for many sports that are loved by the royal family, including fishing, hunting, and taking walks on the beach. The climate in Scotland is very favorable, so the family can stay a bit warmer there during winter.

2. Norfolk

Norfolk, England is an eastern county, and is a traditional vacation spot for the royal family during winter. Here, they stay at Sandringham House where there are expensive gardens, woodland estates, wetlands, a country park, and tidal mudflats to enjoy. This is the perfect outdoor destination just for the Royal family to enjoy. William and Kate own a house in Sandringham Estate, too. They love to spend their time here with their loved ones.

3. Corfu Island, Greece

When it comes to picking a vacation destination, the royal family usually considers the sand, sea, and sun. The royal family usually selects Corfu Island as an ideal place for a relaxing vacation during the winter, where they often stay at Rothschild Villa. Corfu is famously known for its wonderful scenery and secluded beaches. Corfu’s center has been named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, because of its historic buildings including palaces, churches, and forts.

4. Kenya

Another location that is loved by the British royal family is a country located in East Africa next to the Indian Ocean – Kenya. Her Royal Highness spent time at Treetops Safari Lodge in 1952, where she received the news of her father’s death and that she was now a Queen. In 1983, she made another trip back to Kenya, this time with Prince Philip. Kenya was also the location where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton while the couple was staying at Lake Rutundu back in 2010. The climate in Kenya makes the country an ideal place for vacations during winter.

5. Botswana

This is another favorite destination for the royal family. Its warm temperatures, as well as sunny days all year round, make it an ideal place for a vacation. Prince Harry spent a gap year helping out in Botswana, where he set up a charity for children who were in need of medical care and assistance. He also took a trip there with Meghan Markle, which helped the couple to cement their relationship.

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Off the chart: the big comeback of paper maps

As Stanfords travel bookshop moves into new London premises after 118 years, its cartographer explains how the ability to tailor-make any map is keeping their magic alive

When I was living in Yemen during the 1980s, someone gave me a battered old map. Information was scarce then, and accurate maps were extremely hard to come by. So departing expatriates tended to pass on any treasures to new arrivals. As he did so, my benefactor paused. “Be careful,” he said, “You don’t want to get caught with this.”

Maps, you see, can be dangerous. I think of this when I meet Martin Greenaway, a cartographer at Stanfords in London. Martin is sitting by a couple of computer screens behind a treasure trove of maps: tables covered in vast colourful countries, wall racks groaning with continents, drawers stuffed with cities and mountain ranges. Stanfords has been making maps since the mid-1850s, and has operated from this purpose-built site on London’s Long Acre since 1901. Now it is moving on – opening new premises in nearby Mercer Walk on 10 January.

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Destinations for first time skiers

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Picking up a new sport can be a challenging experience but fun nonetheless. Whether you’re going to keep up with the sport after your initial trials largely depends on the type of experience or instruction you get at this time. That’s why it’s important to choose a learning place where all your sporting needs will be catered for and you’ll be in the hands of great and experienced instructors.

This should be the case with skiing. As a first time skier, the area you decide to give the sport your first try should be beginner friendly. If not, you’ll probably end up frustrated and give up the sport early. Good beginner skiing areas should be able to first of all have gentle slopes that are not too challenging. This is where starters will easily pick up basics before they take up more advanced runs. Instructors to offer lessons and skiing courses should also be part of the package, along with hire services for ski equipment. Here are some of the skiing destinations that are ideal for first time skiers.

1. Champoluc, Italy

There are many factors that make this one of the best areas for skiing beginners. At Ski 2, there’s provision of tuition which is vital to any beginner. There’s also equipment hire, so you don’t have to spend money on expensive skiing equipment that you may never use again if you decide that skiing isn’t your kind of thing. To make it even more accommodating to first timers, there’s a school on the establishment that’s purposely for guests. Alongside expert instructors, the schools also provide equipment to learners. Bring in the countless hotels available in this area and the perfect skiing holiday is complete.

2. Soldeu, Andorra

Nobody wants to break the bank for something that might turn out to be a temporary endeavour, and that’s exactly why Soldeu is such an ideal destination for first time skiers who haven’t yet found their footing in the sport. There are extremely good prices which undoubtedly make the sport worth trying. What makes this place even more cost friendly is the fact that it’s duty free. With 2 nursery slopes spanning a wide area which are gentle, getting started becomes easier. There’s also English-speaking ski instructors so language barrier is not an issue and everybody is well accommodated.

3. Méribel, France

The beginner experience is made easier at Méribel with gentle nursery slopes and tuition programmes that get any willing skier started off on the right foot. There’s even a group course for beginners. With three zones dedicated sorely to first timers, this is a great place to learn the basics without jostling with pros. Good news for the pocket too, access to these zones is absolutely free. These can be found in the Mottaret, Platieres and Chatelet areas.

4. Les Arcs, France

At Les Arcs, each of the main villages at the resort have nursery slopes just above them. Along with this accessibility, there’s a free beginner’s lift. One of the areas hosts an award winning ski school, meaning that beginners are in the right hands here. As first times gain more experience they get to progress to more advanced slopes.

5. Bansko, Bulgaria

Bansko happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so there’s going to be the added advantage of marvelous sights alongside skiing. Beginners here get lessons, lift passes and cheap accommodation. There’s a gentle area to teach basics to starters, after which they get to explore exciting forest routes and open runs.

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The most important items to take while traveling according to experts

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Going on a trip can be described in very few words. Packing, packing and more packing. And then there’s the part where you forget to pack up something important and your entire minutely planned trip becomes a headache-causing nightmare. No matter how much caution you take, how many times you remind yourself, there are those times you overlook something important. Something that’s at most times even obvious.

The easiest way to avoid finding yourself in this kind of situation is making a checklist of all the things you need to take with you when you travel. A checklist of everything, no matter how obvious and non-forgettable something seems. Only after you place an item in your traveling bags should you check it off. Here, we’re going to look at five of the most important items to take while you travel according to experts. With these 5 items with you, there isn’t something you can leave behind that has the power of ruining your trip.

1. Luggage

Well, yes, as obvious as this might seem, this happens to be the most important item to take with you because this is where all your other important items will be kept safely. As such, it should be secure. Then lightweight while still being spacious enough. Your luggage shouldn’t feel like extra baggage that tires you out. You’ll get enough fatigue from long flights and drives. Wheeled luggage is very convenient if you’re traveling to places with paved paths. Versatile ones that can be carried and also rolled are great if you’ll be venturing into some rough terrain areas. A carry-on is ideal for keeping all your important documents close to you.

2. Travel documents

These are probably the first things that should go into your travel bags before anything else. Vital documents while you travel include your passport/Visa, ID, boarding passes, airline tickets and insurance cards. There will be many places you’ll need to identify yourself, especially in a foreign country. Maps and guide books should also be kept with this lot.

3. Technology devices

Staying at reach and in contact is important, especially when you’re traveling away from home. Your mobile, tablets or laptop should come with you. Never leave your chargers behind. Take along your camera to record those moments on your trip, and headphones, preferably the noise-cancelling ones to get you through noisy commuting.

4. Cash and credit cards

You’ll need money to get plenty much anything you want to get done on your trip, so keeping enough cash on you and carrying your credit cards is important. Make sure to keep it in a safe place, and notify your bank if you’re traveling abroad and will be using your credit card. Also, familiarize yourself with the currency rates of the country you’ll be visiting to avoid carrying too little cash.

5. Precautionary items

You can never be too cautious, and that’s why you should travel ready for anything. Personal prescriptions, fever and pain relievers along with a full first-aid kit are things you should take with you in case of any medical emergencies. Others include allergy medicines, multivitamins, antibacterial ointments, sunscreen and insect repellants. If you have a history of succumbing to motion sickness, take along pills. With all these in place, you’ll prevent the possibility of having your trip cut short by unexpected ailments or extreme reactions to new environments.

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Great tips for visiting Las Vegas

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Las Vegas is one of the coolest places in the world. Whether you want to see Elton John in concert, go on a crazy shopping spree, stand at the top of a half-sized replica of the Eiffel Tower or gamble your life savings on red, there is so much to do, see and explore in Vegas. Here are some top insider tips on how to make the most of your fantastic trip!

Never pay full price for a hotel room!

One of the biggest attractions in Vegas is the hotels, and because there are so many, the competition is hot, and so there is never any reason to pay the full amount for a room. Do some research on the best deals you can get for when you go, and remember that part of the fun of Vegas is nosing around other hotels so it’s not like you will miss out!

Get that room upgrade

So, you’ve found yourself a great price for a hotel room, but why not be a little cheeky and ask for an upgrade too? When you check in, handover a twenty and ask if there are any upgrades available. If there are, fantastic, they will keep the tip and upgrade your room. If there aren’t any upgrades, they will usually give you your twenty dollars back, and you won’t have lost anything. Also, if you are celebrating a special occasion such as a wedding, anniversary or birthday, make sure you let them know, and often you will get a little treat such as a bottle of champagne!

Escape the strip

The strip is the main stretch of Vegas and is where most of the action is happening, however, if you want to buy a bottle of water, for example, just walk one block away from the strip, and you will be able to get it for much cheaper! Locals will often avoid the strip due to the tourist markups, so look for discounts (and quite often better offerings regarding food, drink and even casinos!) just off the strip where the locals tend to go.

Catch the Deuce

Although the strip looks walkable, it’s a lot longer than it looks and in the desert heat, it can be a real struggle. The Deuce bus goes all the way along the strip, and even downtown so get one of the passes that allow you unlimited journeys over several days and hop on and off as you please. It’s also a great way to see all the sights and different hotels without shelling out for a pricey cab!

Choose the slow season

Vegas is always going to be busy; however, July, August, and mid-December are known as the slow season when things are a little quieter. This means prices should be a bit lower at least and queues for attractions will be somewhat shorter. You’ll have a much better time if you go during a quieter period, but unlike a lot of other places with off-season periods, the atmosphere will still be there!

Full doesn’t always mean full

If you are driving around Vegas and looking for a parking space, do not be disheartened by a “full” valet parking sign. If you slip the valet 20 bucks, they will usually manage to find a spot for you. Money talks in Vegas!

The most important tip for visiting Vegas is to enjoy every second! There is so much more to explore than just the casinos, so make sure you pack in everything you can and have an amazing trip!

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Take the long view: Chile revisited

In three trips over 25 years, writer Sara Wheeler has discovered as much about this South American country as she has about herself

When I first went to Chile 30 years ago, I interviewed a television weatherman. Every evening after the six o’clock news, this fellow had to say : “Tomorrow it will be very hot in the north, pleasantly warm in the middle, and perishing at the bottom.”

What a shape. That was what attracted me to this long, thin country. Could a Chilean woman at the top possibly have anything in common with a man born 4,270 kilometres (2,653 miles) below her? How can a country function when it is 25 times longer than it is wide? I went to find out. This is the story of a love affair with a land where I spent six months travelling from the Peruvian border to Cape Horn; it is also a story of return; and of the ever-changing past. The working title of the book that resulted from that first journey was Keep the Mountains on the Left. If I did that, I couldn’t get lost.

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Travel | The Guardian

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Top 5 best destination for shopaholics

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Are you a shopaholic looking to bag the best discount deals and bargains? Shopping can be enjoyable and therapeutic for people of all ages. It is a language which is recognized internationally and is loved by people all over the world. From shopping malls and department stores to huge supermarkets and electronics hubs, people shop for foodstuffs, antique items, clothing, and fashion accessories. These top five best destination for shopaholics are celebrated and revered for the scintillating shopping possibilities they provide.

Bangkok, Thailand

The capital of Thailand, Bangkok, offers a unique shopping experience as it has everything from the Terminal 21 shopping complex to Chatuchak Weekend Market. The market hosts nearly 8,000 stalls and brilliant shops, offering everything from bathing suits to home décor products, and fashion accessories to pet toys.

The 35-acre supermarket attracts more than 200,000 shoppers on average. Here you can find discount items and unique awe-inspiring gift items, but it is important to shop carefully. There are those vendors who sell old and low quality items. Some of the vendors charge inexorable rates for real antique pieces. No matter how good your budget is, you should use your bargaining power to bag good deals. If you are in the hunt for pure leather items, head towards Sukhumvit Road. Simultaneously, find cheap gems and silk items on Silom Road.

Hong Kong, China

Shopping is very much the way of life for the people of Hong Kong. Most of the items are tax- free, and if you have good bargaining power, you can get incredible deals. Buy trendy clothes at cheaper rates from Jardine’s Crescent. In the Causeway Bay, you can go bargain hunting and shop for embellished well-decorated blouses, designer bags, home accessories, and fashion items. A brand-conscious shopaholic should move on to Pacific Place, where you can also find leather goods. Buy silk items and authentic Chinese artwork from Stanley Market.

Bali, Indonesia

Ubud, Indonesia is the storehouse of traditional garments, Balinese handicrafts, and sparkling artworks. If you are looking to buy carvings, paintings, and wall hangings for your blank walls, head towards Pasar Seni Ubud, positioned close to Ubud Palace. You will love to explore a range of clothing boutiques at Jalan Raya Ubud. The Guwang art market is equally famous for designer textiles and handicrafts.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur hosts the Mega Sale Carnival between June and August, and during this time, it becomes a shopper’s paradise. The Suria KLCC is the most glamorous shopping mall, selling international brands, offering local treasures, and quirky souvenirs. You can find vintage items and antique tea sets at the famous Collectibles Center.

Milan, Italy

The moment you hear Milan, don’t you think of Prada, Gabbana, Dolce, and Missoni? Milan is every shopper’s paradise, and is ostentatious, known for worldly glamor that you can sense on the streets. The world’s oldest shopping mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, is located here as well. You can shop for a complete range of hand designer pieces, while you fall in love with the grandiose of La Scala Theater, Serravalle Scrivia, Orio Center, Fox Town, Cremona Factory Outlet, and more.

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Healthy holidays and a sunscreen rethink: top five travel trends for 2019

Rising eco-awareness, wellness breaks and a farewell to passports … we look at changes in the world of travel for the year ahead

Last October, Club 18-30 holidays staggered off into the sunset, aged 50. To the relief of Mediterranean resorts that had spent decades dealing with the carnage caused by epic drinking challenges, it appears that buckets of warm sangria – or worse – have lost their appeal. We have entered the era of the healthy holiday, driven by young people who want to be sober enough to take a flattering selfie. The rise of ‘ego travel’ was cited by Thomas Cook when it retired the Club 18-30 brand, turning its focus on its Casa Cook and Cook’s Club brands, design-conscious hotels with gyms, tasting menus, upmarket cocktails and yoga.

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When is it worth hiring a tour guide?

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Traveling the world and exploring the globe’s different cultures and cities really is something magnificent. It’s a way to step out of your bubble and expand your horizon by experiencing and seeing new things. You can explore the pyramids of Egypt, the amazing mountains of Machu Picchu in Peru, or Dubai’s spectacular skyscrapers. Unfortunately, we are not all natural explorers. Some of us have a hard time finding our way around a foreign city.

The streets and signs may lead you into a never-ending labyrinth. Even in this digital age where we can access any information, getting around and finding those hidden and beautiful spots to visit might still be very difficult. So why not hire a tour guide? It might sound old-fashioned, but tour guides really are the cheapest and best way to get yourself around a foreign city without having to walk those extra miles when you get lost, or spending an ungodly amount of money on expensive fares.

See the best sites

A tour guide is usually a well-rounded local who is familiar with every corner of the city you are visiting, and thus, is able to show you the most exclusive and unique places that Google probably doesn’t know about. You see, a local tour guide develops a natural skill of knowing the exact location of places that are truly embedded in the culture, and that might not be as “touristy.” We’re talking about places that aren’t crowded with tourists, overly expensive gift stores, or full of high-end cameras flashing you in the face. Instead, a tour guide will be able to introduce and guide you to the most interesting and sought after places a tourist could ever wish to visit that truly represent the culture.

They know the language

This is especially true when you are traveling across the world to a city where the people might not speak the English language very well. If you can’t communicate with the locals and ask questions, you’ll probably stick around the same center-city streets and see the same old buildings that every other traveler sees. Instead, invest in a tourist guide that not only takes you to the best places, but that is also able to answer any questions or concerns you might have during the trip.

They can answer your questions

Feel like asking when that building was built or what it was used for back in the day? Ask the tour guide! Don’t underestimate the value of having a tour guide who can answer questions and discuss concerns that are better off discussed, than ignored. This is even more important when you’re traveling alone. There are always great people in tour groups with whom you can bond and share experiences. You might make new friends and travel companions for your next destination!

We tend to rely so much on our smartphones and wi-fi to access for information about the “best hotels” and “5-star restaurants” in the city, that we ignore the most resourceful and insightful option we have, a tour guide.

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The best outlet malls to visit in New Jersey

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When you are looking for a place where you can shop for almost anything you want and enjoy yourself while savoring good food and drinks, then an outlet mall is all you need. Outlet malls have gained a reputation for their good deals and large variety of stores. Outlets are common all over the world, but New Jersey is known for having some of the best. Whether you live in New Jersey or are just there for a visit, here are the best outlet malls to check out.

Westfield Garden State Plaza

This mall has the best shopping options and food selection. The restaurant choices range from from Bourbon Street Grille and Chili’s to Shake Shack and more. There are numerous anchor stores like the Nordstrom, Macy’s and Neiman-Marcus. The entrances to the outlet are even beautiful, with matching marble floors. The area is easy to navigate with massage areas and virtual reality stations to boost the shopper’s sweet experience. They offer an on-site stylist, private client greetings, special events all year round, and trend shows. If you are looking for the perfect outlet while in New Jersey, then Westfield Garden State Plaza is the ideal place for you.

Cherry Hill Mall

This mall has a historical touch to it. Being the first enclosed mall on the east coast, it has a significant advantage over many malls in New Jersey. It is the home of a number of great retail stores including Lululemon Athletica, J. Crew and Henri Bendel. The dining areas at Cherry Hill Mall include the California Pizza Kitchen and Maggiano’s Little Italy. Its great interior and exterior are complete with marble floors, adding to the beauty of the place. There are even regular community events and programs that are free to the public. This outlet really shouldn’t be missed.

Mall at the Short Hills

This mall’s uniqueness lies in its proximity to the hills across the street that creates the perfect shopping getaway. Its located off Route 24 in Millburn. The upscale specialty stores and restaurants add to its special vibe. There are 40 boutique stores and a state-of-the-art guest services center. Its grand court seating area enhances visitors’ enjoyment of their experience.

Freehold Raceway Mall

The mall is almost like an island due to its ideal location along Route 9. It’s characterized by a bright and airy interior and a beautiful new exterior. It is complete with numerous stores and restaurants, a decent food court, and a large AMC movie theater.

The Mills at Jersey Gardens

This mall has transportation to take customers to and from the Manhattan Port Authority Terminal as well as the Newark International Airport. It offers this service on a daily basis, so it’s easy to get there even if you’re coming from afar. The stores are of a high quality, and the atmosphere is lovely. Fashion is at its best at Jersey Gardens, bringing you products from Hugo Boss, Charlotte Russe, Kate Spade, and Calvin Klein. It even has the biggest Tommy Hilfiger in the United States! The Mills is the largest New Jersey outlet and retail center, and has a big AMC movie theater inside too.

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On location: 2019 film releases to inspire your travels

From Aladdin to Tarantino, China to LA, we pick the locations from upcoming movies that are worth a visit

A live-action remake of Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, comes to the big screen next year, with Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Will Smith as the Genie. It is set in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah, and was filmed in Wadi Rum in Jordan, where the protected desert landscape, sandstone and basalt mountains, canyons and otherworldly rock formations – such as Burdah Rock Bridge, one of the highest natural arches in the world – create a dramatic landscape.

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Travel | The Guardian

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How to make your staycation feel like a getaway

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A relaxing vacation at home is a perfect alternative to a long, expensive trip. You can also save lots of money by taking a staycation. But how can you make your staycation feel like a getaway?

The answer is simple. You should take a few precautions to avoid transforming your staycation into a stressful experience. The following staycation strategies will help you to have a relaxing rest that feels like a real vacation.

Turn off your smartphone

Even though you’re not going anywhere, a staycation is meant to help you get away from the problems of your regular life. So, you have every right to stop being available all the time on the phone. Consequently, set your phone to go to voicemail, and then you can decide who to call back. Maybe you can tell everyone that you need to take a break. You also can put your email on hold.

Turn off your computer

Some people make the mistake of taking work with them when they go on vacation — this fact negates the relaxation of the trip. It is essential to avoid being available for work at any time when you are on staycation. It can be tempting to check in at work when you are at home, but try to say no to the temptation. Let your mind and body have a break.

Do something new

Taking a staycation can also mean becoming a hometown tourist. You can enjoy your city and what the surrounding area has to offer. Another benefit of going to the touristy places near your location is to get to know new, attractive places to visit when your staycation is over. It could be an escape to help stave off burnout.

Don’t overbook yourself

Remember to schedule enough time to relax, read, and do everything people like to do during a vacation. The purpose of a staycation is to enjoy a break. Because you save money staying home, you can eat out, as you would during a real vacation. Don’t hesitate to get a massage, go to brunch, go shopping, or even hire a cleaning service. These activities will free your mind and help you relax.

Your staycation can be a getaway

During your staycation, you can stay at home and relax better than in many planned expensive vacations. That’s why more and more people prefer a staycation. You can explore the many possibilities that answer the question of how to make your staycation feel like a getaway. And on top of that, you can maximize your fun without having to sit on a long flight.

Keep the relaxing activities that you enjoy in mind and make a list of what you would like to do. Maybe this is the time to try the new French restaurant in your neighborhood. You could also take the opportunity to try out the spa.

A staycation can be just as good as an expensive getaway, if you simply put your imagination to work. You will have plenty of ideas; we only presented a few that are easy to apply and effective.

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Where should you stay: a hotel or apartment?

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A number of factors can influence a traveler’s decision in choosing between staying in a hotel or an apartment. Location, your budget, the duration of your stay, and how many people are being accommodated are some of the factors that can influence a traveler’s decision. Below are some pros and cons of each, in order to help you decide which option is best for you.

Benefits of hotels – no security deposit

Most apartments require a security deposit when checking in. Hotels usually don’t. Staying in a hotel can come in handy for impromptu travel, while apartments usually require some sort of advanced planning.

Benefits of hotels – check-in flexibility

A traveler can check into a hotel anytime because the front desk always has someone working. Apartments require you to organize your check-in time in advance since you will need someone to be available to provide you with the apartment keys.

 

Benefits of hotels – Comfort

Hotel beds usually are very comfortable and rooms are equipped with TVs so you can relax and unwind with plenty of entertainment. When it comes to the amount of space, however, hotel rooms are generally quite small.

Benefits of hotels – Meals

Hotel restaurant service can be quite comfortable and their meals are usually excellent. Breakfast is often included in the standard room price (and who doesn’t love a buffet breakfast?). However, you’ll have to eat out every meal because you won’t have a way to prepare your own food in a hotel. For shorter stays, hotels are a good choice. They offer flexibility and give you more time to deal with your business, appointments, or work without the hustle of taking much care of the room.

Benefits of apartments – meals

Apartments usually have fully equipped kitchens so you can always prepare and enjoy your home cooked food, whether with your friends or by yourself. This saves money on takeaway and restaurants. Be ready to wash the dishes and clean up after yourself, since some apartments may charge you an extra fee for any unwashed dishes left when your stay is over.

Benefits of apartments – privacy

Although some hotel rooms can accommodate up to four people, there is no privacy. Apartments offer various options and bedrooms. They often have separate rooms which can be quite convenient for purposes like business meetings while others are resting in their individual rooms.

Benefits of apartments – group activities

Apartments are the often the best option if you are traveling with your family or friends. There is plenty of communal space and it can be shared with everyone, offering more space and comfort. You will be able to have your own room, giving you more own privacy.

Benefits of apartments – offers additional amenities and services

Apartments often have wifi, washing machines, balconies, kitchen cutlery, utensils and glassware, and refrigerators. Communal facilities are also available in some apartments. Apartments are perfect for travelers who intend on staying for longer periods of time. You won’t have that cabin fever that sometimes happens when you are staying in a small hotel room because they tend to be more spacious.

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Top 5 filming locations you can see for yourself

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Traveling can be a great way to see the world and explore, but how do you choose where to go? When we watch movies, we let our imaginations run free as we see our favorite characters living their lives in beautiful and exotic lands. We often find ourselves wishing that we could join those characters in their far off homes. As it turns out, it is possible to visit many of the beautiful destinations from the movies! Here are five of the best filming locations you can actually travel to.

New Zealand

Whenever we think about movies with beautiful natural scenery, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is at the top of the list. Since the movies were filmed over a few years in New Zealand, fans from all over the world have flocked to see Middle Earth in person, which has been a great boost for tourism in New Zealand.

You can travel to the Matamata Hills, where the scenes set in Hobbiton were filmed. The area still looks like the Shire, complete with hobbit holes. The film crew even planted flowers and crops a whole year before production began for the set of Frodo and Bilbo’s homes. You can head to Tongariro National Park where the scenes in Mount Doom and Mordor were filmed. Next, venture over to the South Island and the Southern Alps to see where Gollum found the ring.

Thailand

We will always remember the lead character, Alex Garland, in Danny Boyle’s film The Beach, who found paradise in Hat Maya. This famous movie was filmed on Phi Phi Leh Island’s main beach in Thailand. The country shot to fame following the iconic success of the movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The island itself is breathtaking indeed. But it’s not exactly the same as it was portrayed in the movie – during post-production, filmmakers added the backdrop of mountains digitally. Despite this, the beach is truly stunning in real life as well, and is definitely worth a visit.

Philippines

The set for the cult hit Apocalypse Now was the exotic island of Luzon in the Philippines. The movie was inspired by the book Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, and it was directed by famous filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Travelers can visit the Philippines for sunny shores, aquamarine water, and beautiful natural features.

Kauai, Hawaii

The legendary movie Jurassic Park was a big hit, and is loved by movie enthusiasts young and old alike. The movie, which explores what would happen if there were suddenly dinosaurs here on earth with us, was partially filmed in Kauai, Hawaii. Helicopter rides are available so guests can see the area where the film was shot, and take photos.

South Carolina, USA

The Notebook has become one of the classic love stories of our time. The film is about a young couple, and what happens to them as they grow older. The Notebook was proudly filmed in some of the most beautiful places in South Carolina. It’s a wonderful idea to visit this state and see its charm for yourself.

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Dancing with wolves (nearby): a wild New Year’s Eve in Canada

At an eco-lodge in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, New Year’s Eve is celebrated around a campfire, surrounded by snow, endless forest and wolves

“Hello,” I called. “Anyone there?”

I was beginning to lose hope I’d ever find the Algonquin Eco-Lodge. It was as dark as a coal mine on the thickly wooded trail, the temperature around -25C. A sign about 15 minutes back said it was a 2.5km walk from the parking lot. There had been a few forks in the path and now I thought I might have taken a wrong turn. My phone had no signal – par for the course in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, thousands of square kilometres of wilderness 234km south-west of Ottawa and 18km from the nearest town. Fortunately, I was dressed for the occasion — ski pants over long underwear, thermal socks, proper winter boots, and several layers under my jacket.

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Travel | The Guardian

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The coolest bars Berlin has to offer

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Home of the famous Berlin Wall and the capital of one of Europe’s most entertaining and experienced-packed countries, Berlin is filled with vibrant streets, legendary parties, and cultural landmarks you just can’t miss. It’s a tourist destination that attracts millions of people from around the world every year. In addition, one of the things that Berlin is known for is it’s unique bar scene.

The bar culture in Berlin is something to be taken very seriously, as the city offers a wide variety of hip places to hang out. Here are some of the coolest bars that Berlin has to offer

The Green Door

Behind an actual green door lies The Green Door, a very popular cocktail bar that attracts a lot of tourists and deep-pocketed regulars who come to experience the classy lounge environment while sipping on one of their delicious cocktails from their impressive beverage menu. Their specialty? The Green Door cocktail that brings you a balanced mix of excellent champagne, lemon, sugar and a touch of mint. It’s a go-to bar you just can’t miss.

Das Hotel Bar

If you are looking for something a little more casual and relaxed, Berlin’s famous Das Hotel Bar is the place to go. It is located in the heart of Kreuzberg and is known to be one of the best places to visit in that area. With a variety of local drinks, live music, and shabby decor, you don’t have to worry about being too dressed up or worrying about your credit card being drained. Simply grab a chair, sit down with your friends and try their famous twist on the classic gin and tonic. But don’t let the casual look fool you as this place can get pretty packed during the weekends, so make sure you get there early if you want to grab yourself a table.

Klunkerkranich

Looking for a beautiful view with that beer? Located on top of a high building, the Klunkerkranich is the absolute best and top of the line rooftop bar in Berlin. Known to attract the youngsters of the city, this bar surely does the trick on a hot summer day or a spring night as you watch the sunset with a delicious drink in your hand. And unlike other places, this bar is far from pretentious. Maintaining a strong cultural vibe around an urban gardening scene, this bar is worth the three euro entrance fee that goes towards keeping the place green and supporting the live music that plays there every day. If you’re looking for a beautiful and relaxing place to grab a drink, Klunkerkranich is the place.

There is truly an endless list of spectacular bars in Berlin, all unique and interesting in their own way. From the refreshing open-mindedness of the Silver Future bar to the elegant and classic ORA bar, there really is a bar for every taste and budget. Sitting in a local bar is also a great way to bond with the community and to experience the culture of Germany, as you meet individuals who share their stories in places that resemble pieces of German history.

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Things you absolutely need to pack for a winter vacation

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Packing for the winter holiday can be a bit overwhelming. There are many clothes and other things you need to be comfortable in the cold. How do you make sure you have everything you need at your destination? Fortunately, the tips in this article will help you to pack your suitcase for a cool winter vacation.

Clothes

During winter holidays, it is important to bring clothing that allows you to dress in layers. You should start with a base layer of a light shirt that can have either long or short sleeves. You can put a long-sleeved shirt over it, and then a sweater or fleece over that. In addition to these shirts, you can wear a waterproof or windproof shell to keep you warm and dry. If you dress in layers, you can add or remove a layer depending on weather and comfort.

Shoes

While shoes can be heavy and you may only pack so much, you should make sure you have good quality footwear. Your feet are exposed to the weather during the winter holidays, so you want something that will keep you warm and look good. Look for dark shoes so they will not stain. Also, bring shoes that are weatherproof.

Choose warm, comfortable boots

Again, you do not want to get cold feet on your trip, so bring boots to keep your toes nice and comfortable and keep frostbite in check. Today, there are a variety of winter boots on the market, and you can take your pick depending on your preferences. If you want to take a long walk, make sure you are looking for comfortable boots. If you are looking for a heel, we recommend the use of wedge boots – they are a great way to give you more height and style without sacrificing comfort.

Hats

A good hat can keep you warm. However, the hat must meet some general requirements. A good travel cap should cover your ears and part of your neck. It should be made of modern materials that are warm and provide maximum coverage. Choose your hat carefully to keep your head (and the rest of your body) warm.

Gloves

Progress has been made with materials and products to keep us warm and dry. You no longer have to rely on heavy gloves to keep your hands warm. You will find gloves that are warm and waterproof but still take up little space in your luggage or bag. If you are looking for the right gloves for your vacation, look for those that are fast drying, weatherproof, lightweight, and breathable.

Accessories

Sun protection is required both in winter and in summer. The sun reflects off ice or snow and can cause sunburns. The reflection of the sun can be very bright as well. That’s why you should make sure to bring polarized sunglasses. If you are vacationing in bad weather, you should bring a scarf. Scarves are usually light and small enough not to lend volume to a suitcase, but warm enough to keep you cozy in cold weather.

If you pack properly for your winter vacation, you can have a comfortable stay no matter where you are. Use the tips provided here and you will feel warm and happy while traveling.

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Funniest dialect differences between British, Australian, and American English

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Ever since the British empire ruled over almost a quarter of the world so many years ago, the English language was always changing dialects all over the globe. Though very similar, there are some big differences between the three different types of English – Australian, British, and American. In addition to all that, accents can get confusing to every native English speaker for now and then. Many of our words remain the same and have the same meanings. Others have slightly altered spellings. Some, however, are used very differently.

Flannel

Americans and Australians use the word flannel to describe a shirt with a checked or plaid design, while Britons see a flannel as a small washcloth. These shirts are often described as checked or occasionally plaid in Britain. So, we’d advise not asking to borrow a British guy’s flannel, even if you just want a shirt.

Elevator

In Britain, an elevator is known as lift. While ‘lift’ to an American makes you think of weights or picking something up, in Britain, a lift takes you between levels of a building. Although to confuse matters further, Britons also use lift in the same way as Americans, in terms of moving things. Australians have the best of both worlds and use the two interchangeably.

Cactus

In both Britain and America, a cactus is a small prickly plant from the desert. In Australia, however, cactus means something completely different. To Australians, saying something is cactus means it is broken or not working. For example, a leaking washing machine would be cactus – very dissimilar to our meaning of the word.

Blue

In Australia, a blue most commonly means a fight and often, is a nickname for a redhead. This is because redheads had a reputation for being aggressive in the early 1900s, so redheads became known as ‘blueys,’ thanks to the local slang of blue meaning fight. In Britain, feeling blue usually means sad or miserable. In all three forms of English, however, blue is, of course, a color.

Hamper

Americans refer to a basket full of dirty laundry as a hamper, whereas Britain and Australia simply call it a laundry basket. A hamper in these two countries is more commonly a small wicker basket, usually used to carry cutlery and food for picnics.

Pants

In America, pants are the bottom half of our outfits, but in Britain, pants are called trousers. Pants are referring to a very different thing – undergarments. So, you’d get a very funny look if you asked your friend what pants they were wearing on a night out! Meanwhile, once again, Australians use the two terms interchangeably.

Whether you travel across America, Australia, or Britain, you’re bound to notice some pretty significant differences between the languages; from strange words and slang, to accent variations which make the language hard to understand. Thankfully, you’ll get the most part of the conversation, however, no matter where you travel of the three main English-speaking countries, due to the similarities and general familiarity of the languages.

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The best destinations for culturephiles in the United States

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Everyone has different hobbies; some like to collect things, while others like to explore the world. Among those who love to travel and see new things are people who are interested in learning all about different cultures, or culturephiles. They are especially fond of exploring the history and culture of different regions.

With so many destination options out there, it can be difficult to decide where to go first. So, culturephiles, here are the best destinations in the United States for you to check out.

Houston, Texas

The most significant historic attraction in Houston, Texas is the San Jacinto Monument, commemorating the battle of Texas, along with a great historical museum. There is, of course, a huge space center located in Houston, which can be a great place to visit if you are interested in space exploration and the history of the US space program. There are also various other historic buildings, statues, and architecture that are worth seeing in this fascinating city.

New York City, New York

The marvelous Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, and Ellis Island are just a few of the most visited places in New York City. Colloquially known as the “city that never sleeps,” New York is home to incredible art and culture, music, museums, and plays.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest state capital in the United States. Here, you can explore the magnificent history of the country from long ago. This beautiful city is famous for its historical architecture, preservation of the old cultures, unique boutiques, and super-delicious food. There is always a lot to do in Santa Fe, and the options range from shopping and eating to biking and hiking.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is a huge tourist center, with about 600,000 people visiting every year. Memphis is famous for its lush green parks and plenty of museums, and of course, for being the hometown of the great Elvis Presley. There are a number of museums and tributes that honor the King of Rock and Roll. In addition, Memphis is a great place for kids, and there is a children’s museum in the middle town and an epic zoo nearby, too.

Indianapolis, Indiana

The world’s largest children museum is located in Indianapolis, and it is one of the world’s most rapidly emerging capitals. The diverse culture and multicolor history are core assets of this charming place.

Phoenix, Arizona

The mesmerizing scenery in Phoenix, Arizona makes it a stunning place to visit and spend some time in the outdoors. Phoenix is famous for its diverse ecosystem, camelback mountains, rare species of flora and fauna, and several botanical and horticulture gardens.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a city with a beautiful skyline, incredible museums, and diverse people and culture. It is great for all ages and there is always something to do here from kayaking on the Chicago river to visiting the famous Field Museum of Natural History. It is a diverse city with a very interesting history, not to mention the great food and sports teams associated with the Windy City.

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5 reasons Dubai is considered the richest country in the world

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Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, is well known for its riches that seem to attract people from all walks of life. The food, culture, and way of life all reflect a level of wealth that is unmatched in the rest of the world. But why is Dubai considered such a rich country?

Many people would assume since Dubai lies in the gulf region, then most of its riches come from oil. This is actually not the case. Only about 7% of Dubai’s revenue comes from oil. So where does Dubai get its riches? Here are five reasons that Dubai is considered the richest country in the world.

Diversified economy

Unlike other middle eastern states, which depend heavily on oil for the growth of their economy, Dubai has a very diverse and vibrant economy. While a decline in oil prices would be very devastating to many nations, Dubai, on the other hand, wouldn’t feel too much of an effect. Tourism, transport, trade and commerce, finance, and accounting are some of the major players in the economy of this vibrant city.

Free trade

There is nothing that scares investors like a high tax on investments and income. Dubai is well known as one of the few places globally with a low tax on trade and zero income tax on both local and foreign investors. It is for this reason that investors from all over the world stream in to Dubai to make huge investments, with the expectation of high returns.

Technological innovations from all over the world

While it would have seemed almost impossible to find tech companies setting up shop in Dubai a while back, Dubai is now proving to be a force to reckon with in the tech world. In return, this gives Dubai the revenue generated from the sale of the various products manufactured. Another factor that led to Dubai becoming a major tech player is the cheap transport through its ports to the rest of the world.

Skilled immigrants

It is estimated that for every native in the city of Dubai, there are nine immigrants. Like anywhere else in the world, immigrants are often quite skilled and even more entrepreneurial than the native population. This drives up growth, with the city benefiting from the skills and revenue generated through trade.

Gateway City

Dubai is strategically positioned geographically. It is for this reason that it is considered the busiest airport in the world after snatching this title from Heathrow airport in the UK. Connecting flights to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have to make stops here first before continuing to their destinations. Apart from transport, these destinations are also very crucial trade markets with economies growing very fast compared to the developed countries. The only way to tap into these markets is through Dubai.

While Dubai is a city, it has the wealth and popularity of an entire nation. In fact, many people do confuse it for a country and even envy those living or working there for their luxurious lifestyles.

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The best travel rewards credit cards of 2019

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Traveling can be pretty expensive, you’ll have to pay for flights, hotels, transport, and food. The costs soon add up, but there are ways that you can save money by spending money. Many financial companies will offer travel rewards credit cards to encourage their customers to spend money while they are on vacation. Here are the best of the bunch that are worth investing in.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

Many travel rewards cards require you to pay an annual renewal fee, but that is not the case with this card from Bank of America. You earn points on everything that you buy with this card, 1.5 points per dollar spent and if you spend $ 1,000 in the first 90 days of signing up, you will get a free bonus of 20,000 points, which adds up to $ 200 worth. It’s a pretty quick return on signing up with the credit card service as you can book your vacation after signing up and pretty much make yourself $ 200 in points just spending money were going to spend anyway. If you are a Bank of America customer, you can earn a bonus ranging from 10% to 75% when you redeem your points, all depending on how much money you have in your bank account.

The Platinum Card, American Express

The Platinum Card doesn’t come cheap, but you get some incredible perks for your money. It’ll cost $ 550 to renew each year, but some will say that is money well spent. Using your card within your first three months can earn you up to 60,000 reward points, allowing you to make $ 5,000 worth of purchases. You’ll get $ 200 worth of Uber credits each year and also $ 200 worth of credit for airline fees. For every dollar you spend using your card you’ll receive five reward points, meaning the rewards will soon add up if you travel a lot. The Platinum Card will gain you access to over 1,000 airport lounges across the world, meaning you’ll be able to grab some food and a drink in peace away from the masses in the main airport lounges of the world.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

For many people, they don’t really care about how they get to their vacation destination as long as they can enjoy their stay when they are there. For those people, the hotel they stay in is more important than pretty much anything else. For those who spend most of their travel budget on their hotel then the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card is for them. It has a low annual renewal fee of $ 95, and for each year that you remain a customer, Marriott will gift you a free stay in one of their hotels. Each dollar that you spend at a Marriott Rewards participating hotel will earn you 6 reward points, meaning you can rack up the points pretty quickly on vacation. You’ll be upgraded to silver status on renewing your account, giving you exclusive offers, late checkout options and a 20% bonus on rewards points earned.

The cost of travel soon adds up, so it is often worth getting a rewards card if you travel pretty regularly. You’re going to be spending that money anyway so you might as well try and get some rewards for doing so.

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Readers’ best travel discoveries of 2018: your top tips

What an adventurous lot you are! Your 2018 highlights include mountain treks, centuries-old communities and exotic wildlife. Read on for 2019 inspiration …

The highlight of our fabulous week in Mull in June was our accommodation. A mile along a coastal path, Rubha nan Gall lighthouse cottage is off grid, but apart from not being able to use a hair dryer, you wouldn’t know it. The four en suite double bedrooms were furnished to a high standard and the kitchen well-equipped. The views past the lighthouse to the Ardnamurchan peninsula, not to mention the dolphin we saw just offshore, made this one of our favourite places ever.
Sleeps six, £158 a night, airbnb.co.uk
Mary Bythell

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Travel | The Guardian

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Best places to travel for history buffs

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The world is an ancient place, and humans have been around for a fraction of that time. Humans have been around for thousands of years, and during that time there have been great civilizations. Many of those places are still standing for modern history buffs to explore. If you want to get in touch with history check these places out.

Athens, Greece

The city of Athens in Greece is often called the birthplace of civilization, as it was one of the first places where culture truly took shape. The ancient city is thousands of years old and there are still some remnants from those days, including the Acropolis of Athens. Historians estimate the city has been occupied for over 7,000 years and there is plenty of history to be found in every corner.

Beijing, China

This Chinese city is over 3,000 years old and was once the stronghold for a hugely powerful empire. Much of the ancient city is still preserved, places such as the Great Wall of China, the Ming Tombs, and the Forbidden City are all there to explore. Not only was Beijing the center of power for the Qing and Ming Dynasties, but it was also where Chairman Mao ruled during the Chinese Communist Revolution. You can walk the Great Wall, and explore many of the ancient Chinese temples.

Petra, Jordan

Visiting the ancient city of Petra, Jordan, can feel like stepping onto the set of an Indiana Jones movie. The city has been carved into the rocks of a canyon and is described as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Silk and spice routes were established here many years ago, and the UNESCO World Heritage site is perfect for stepping back in time.

Angkor, Cambodia

The temples found at Angkor date back to the 12th century, and you can still explore many of them. There are many temples covered in ancient artwork and sculptures that were once lost to the jungle. The ancient city was rediscovered by explorers in the 1860s, and since then it has become a favorite spot for history buffs. Angkor Wat is the centerpiece as it is an almost perfectly preserved temple with a head carved from stone that stands over 12 feet tall. There is a winding maze to explore, and the fortified city of Angkor Thom is worth strolling through and getting lost in.

Boston, USA

History is everywhere, and to those who say the United States doesn’t have any history of its own, we would point them in the direction of Boston. Boston is one of the United States’ oldest cities, and it is where the country’s first college was established, Harvard University. The city was the backdrop of the American Revolution, and the layout remains largely the same now as it was back then.

If you love your history, you don’t have to get it all from books and the internet. There are plenty of places around the world that can transport you back in time and teach you about our ancient past.

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The souvenirs you absolutely have to get when traveling abroad

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When we travel, we take photos and create long-lasting memories, but sometimes we crave more than that. We often find ourselves wandering through aisles and aisles of irrelevant souvenirs, looking for gifts for friends, family members, and ourselves, to remind us of our travels. We always end up with the same useless key rings and pens, but here are some more interesting souvenirs to collect while you’re traveling abroad.

Musical memories

Many locations have their own styles of music, and a souvenir devoted to that can serve as a wonderful reminder of your trip. This could be an instrument which is commonly seen in that area, such as castanets in Spain, as a reminder of their famous Flamenco dancers, or a CD from the area. Better yet, street performers often sell their own music, so you could even buy a piece of their work as a much stronger memory of the specific area you visited.

Put your souvenirs to use

Along the same lines as music, you could even bring home a souvenir dedicated to the area’s culture. Cooking ingredients and foods are often the best way to do so – of course ensuring that whatever you buy can pass through customs. Buy a little bit of your favorite foods and spices from your trip, to use when you get home. It will be a nice reminder of the flavors and foods of the country, as well as being a souvenir that definitely won’t be wasted.

Street art

If buying the music from a street performer isn’t your ideal souvenir, maybe their art will be. Many countries and cities see artists creating stunning pieces while sat in public. Buying a piece of their artwork not only serves as a fantastic reminder of your travels but also supports the local community. Besides, they’re always beautiful and frame-worthy. You might even find a street artist who will draw you a personalized caricature or otherwise custom piece.

Be practical

If you want a souvenir which will hold marvelous memories of your trip, but you don’t want it to be wasted, then find a practical item. Many shops will sell decorated kitchen utensils and clothing, which often feature the country’s flag or landmarks. These can make for useful gifts, as well as allowing you to remember your vacation every time you use it.

Ornate memories

Possibly the most common souvenir is so for a reason. Ornaments and decorations of the local culture and landmarks are one of the best souvenirs you can find abroad. You can display them anywhere you like – your bedroom, living room, kitchen, where you can see a constant reminder of the wonderful memories you made while traveling. You can find a whole range of ornaments on your vacation, including mini replicas of landmarks and attractions, as well as cultural goods.

Don’t fall into the trap of buying unsurprisingly common souvenirs, like string bracelets and t-shirts, and instead opt for something more unique. You can find a range of relics which are special to you and your trip, along with many practical goods which prevent them from being wasted and forgotten about.

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The best travel trends for the next few years

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From electronics to fashion, trends are constantly changing. It’s hard to keep up sometimes, especially when it seems like they change as soon as you’ve embraced the last one. Traveling is no different. Traveling trends alter year on year, including popular destinations, ways to travel, and our favorite activities. Here are some of the trends which are on the rise in travel at the moment. We’re likely to see these get big over the next couple of years.

The world’s natural beauty

One trend which has been on the rise for a number of years is sustainable traveling. Eco-travel involves staying in environmentally friendly locations and enjoying foods and activities which don’t harm nature or animals. Many of these trips are situated in densely populated areas of greenery and wildlife, like jungles and savannahs. These sorts of vacations are immensely enjoyable for nature lovers, seeing as many of the activities include bird watching, trekking, photography, and kayaking. With eco-traveling, you can enjoy a fun trip, while knowing that you’re not contributing to the damage caused to the environment.

Micro trips

Going away for a weekend rather than a couple of weeks has become incredibly popular recently and shows no signs of slowing down, with 53% of global travelers admitting that they’d like to take more micro trips in the coming years. These are a fun and cheaper way to travel, where you can explore different places and activities without spending too much money or taking weeks off of work.

Love for the cold

Supposedly, an up and coming trend is the winter season. It has been predicted that in years to come, winter will become the peak season over summer, where people will enjoy activities like skiing and arctic tours rather than your typical sunbathing and swimming vacations. Some locations are now hosting winter festivals and even reindeer herding trips, so winter traveling is set to become the new craze.

Keeping fit

Wellness traveling includes a range of attractions, such as mountain hikes, cycling, trekking, and sports, and is likely to become much more popular over the next few years. It might be best for you to get in on this trend now, before it takes over the travel industry. These vacations combine exploring new places with getting active, and it’s the perfect way to boost your happiness and health.

Learning while you travel

Volunteering trips are also set to gain popularity, with more people now wanting to help others, while also having fun. Volunteering includes working at animal sanctuaries and helping underdeveloped countries. If you love helping other people and the environment, then a volunteering vacation can be the perfect way to get involved and make a difference to something you’re passionate about.

These travel trends will no doubt become game-changers in the travel industry in the next two or three years, with people becoming more concerned about their health and the environment, as well as wanting to explore something different. They’re fun and innovative ways to travel and could make your next trip the best one yet.

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The five places you have to see before you get old

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People fear growing up because old age prevents them from doing the things they enjoy. Even the most sprightly senior citizen has some difficulty getting from A to B, meaning traveling long distances is often out of the question. If you’re afraid getting old will stop you from seeing the world, these are the places you need to check out while you still can.

The Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

One reason you need to see the Great Barrier Reef before you get old is that it might not be around in a few decades. Poor treatment of the environment has put the reef in danger, leading part of the ecosystem to suffer irreversible damage. It’s a shame considering the area is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the world, from exotic fish to colorful coral. Be sure to check this out while you still can.

Darvaza gas crater (Turkmenistan)

A place that’s commonly known as the “Door to Hell” has to be worth a visit, right? Located in Turkmenistan, this blazing pit of fire has been around since 1971. The vast deposits of methane gas here concerned geologists so they set it ablaze, not expecting that the flames would still be going almost 50 years later. This brilliant burning pit is quite a sight to see, but don’t stand too close to the edge. You don’t want to get burned.

The Great Wall of China (China)

Considering the Great Wall of China stands at 13,000 miles, you’ll want to visit it sooner rather than later. Though you’ll probably never be able to walk the whole thing, you’ll have a better chance of traversing it while you’re still young and fit. It’s definitely a trip worth making while you still can, especially considering all there is to see from the wall. Plus, it will give you the chance to marvel at a creation that was made by hand alone.

Machu Picchu (Peru)

Speaking of walking, you’ll need to do plenty of that if you want to see Machu Picchu with your own eyes. The Incan citadel is quite a way from civilization, but all that hiking is worth the effort. Surrounded by mountains and located in the middle of nowhere, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time here. A trip to Machu Picchu is a history lesson in itself and recommended for anyone looking to see every corner of the world before they grow old.

Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (China)

One glance at this place might give you the feeling you’ve fallen into a painting. However, everything about the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is completely real. The erosion of the precipitous rocks has exposed different layers of mineral deposits, leading to the colorful masterpiece that greets you here in China. If you need proof that the world can still be surprising, this is probably it.

The world has so much to offer, and you probably won’t get to see it all before you grow old. However, at least now you know the places to put at the top of your bucket list.

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Best accessories for long flights

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Nobody wants to be sitting on a long haul flight feeling uncomfortable, bored, and irritable. Flights can be overwhelming and stressful enough, without the added discomfort and unpleasantness of a screaming baby next to you or a sore neck from trying to sleep. Whether you travel once a year or every weekend, across the state or the world, there are some vital accessories you should always pack, to make your long flight just that little bit more bearable.

Block out the noise

If your pet peeve is screaming children and crying babies on a long flight, then one of the best accessories you could invest in is some good quality, noise canceling headphones. With these, you can listen to your music, which most people find to be relaxing and enjoyable on a flight while drowning out all of the surrounding sounds. They might even help you to have a nap on the plane.

Sleep well

If sleeping on long flights is your entertainment of choice – we don’t blame you – then a travel pillow and eye mask are must-haves, along with those noise-canceling headphones or maybe some earplugs. The only thing worse than waking up with a neckache is waking up with a neckache on a flight when you still have to endure potentially hours of traveling. Neck pillows can reduce that risk, along with helping you sleep better.

Don’t get bored

Electronics like phones and tablets can make a long journey feel significantly less boring. Make sure you bring a power pack and charger, too, and you’ve got entertainment for the entire flight. Whether you prefer to play games or watch movies you’ve downloaded – see, another use for those headphones – some sort of electronic device and charger can be a lifesaver. The main way you can avoid a miserable flight is to make sure you have plenty of things to do to keep yourself entertained, so electronics, reading books, or magazines are a must-have.

Keep yourself refreshed

A small bag of toiletries can do wonders for you on a long flight. We all know that after a couple of hours, we don’t feel too cute anymore, so keep a little bag of lip balm, roll-on deodorant, hand gel, moisturizer, and other small products to hand. Whenever you’re feeling uncomfortable or even unhygienic, use your little rescue pack to freshen up and keep yourself feeling the best you can on a long journey.

Get comfy

Some fluffy socks or slippers could be the best thing you’ve ever packed for a long haul plane journey. It’s no secret that our feet can swell when we’re up in the air, as well as just feel generally hot and uncomfortable. So, when you’re on your way, kick off your shoes, put on some cozy footwear, and enjoy your flight in luxury.

Flights can be exhausting at the best of times, but keep these handy accessories on you, and your next trip won’t feel quite so bad. They’re never going to be the most fun you’ve ever had, but if you pack wisely, you don’t have to feel irritated and miserable the entire way.

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Warm winter foods from around the world

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As winter sets in, we start noticing the cold and feel the need to cook up some tasty hot meals to warm us up from the inside out. In the miserable depths of winter, not just any meal will suffice, however. Countries around the world have developed some unique hot dishes which are perfect winter warmers, no matter what part of the world you’re from.

Sweden’s Janssons frestelse

Sweden’s perfect winter meal is Janssons frestelse, also known as Jansson’s temptation. Made from potato, onion, sprats, bread crumbs, and cream, this dish forms a traditional Swedish casserole. As a typical Christmas dish in Sweden, Janssons frestelse is the perfect winter warmer. It has a creamy taste, and the different flavors and textures work well to complement each other.

Hungary’s goulash

Hungary has a winter food which is relatively well-known throughout the world these days. Goulash is a type of meat stew, usually using beef. It is seasoned and sprinkled with a variety of spices, namely paprika. It also comprises of peppers, onions, garlic, and a range of other foodstuffs. It can be made to resemble soup more than a thick stew, but is the ideal dinner to warm your bones this winter.

Italy’s gnocchi

Gnocchi is a dish prepared from dumplings, with sauce often added to it. They are made from flour, egg, potato, cheese, and other similar ingredients. They have a light, fluffy texture, and are usually served over pasta. It’s a filling and incredibly delectable food, as well as its warmth making it perfect for the cold season.

France’s beef bourguignon

Beef is slowly braised in red wine, garlic, onions, herbs, and carrot, over several hours before being combined with noodles or potatoes, to make an unrivaled warm winter meal, with a flavorsome and rich taste. The beef becomes tender and soft, so it resembles a stew soup hybrid. Though originally from France, beef bourguignon has gained popularity around the world and is now enjoyed internationally as a staple piece of winter cuisine.

China’s Lanzhou lamian

Lanzhou lamian is a Chinese noodle dish, where long noodles are twisted, stretched, and prepared fresh from dough, by hand. The noodles are then served in a hot beef broth, making it an incredibly warming food for winter. It’s sold in most restaurants in China, with it being one of their most favorite dishes. Although, we want Lanzhou lamian to be sold locally – it sounds delicious!

America’s s’mores mug brownie

Why look at extravagant and exotic cuisine, when we could enjoy a simple American dessert? S’mores mug brownies are made from marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate chips. It is microwaved into a soft gooey brownie, which tastes utterly divine and is sure to warm you up this winter.

Whether you want to try an exotic new meal or stick with what you know, there are plenty of warm winter foods to keep you cozy. You could snuggle up under a duvet with a mug brownie, or make you and some friends a full goulash, but either way, you’re sure to be left feeling warm and satisfied.

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A festive outing to a fairytale French château: a day at Vaux-le-Vicomte

Like Versailles but more manageable, this château turns into a winter wonderland at Christmas – perfect for a family day trip from Paris

For most of its long and inglorious history, Vaux-le-Vicomte has been ignored. Shunned by the royal court after a jealous and vengeful king left its owner to rot in jail, overshadowed by its neighbour Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte has hidden for centuries in plain sight, less than an hour by car or train from Paris.

Many of those driving south en route to the Burgundy vineyards, Alps or winter warmth of the Côte d’Azur won’t even know it’s there. This is a pity at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas when for five weeks the 17th-century baroque château is transformed into something of an enchanted palace.

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Best transportation apps that every traveler needs to download

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When you’re in a foreign country or state you don’t know well, it can be difficult to know where to go, how, and when. It’s all too easy to get lost and overwhelmed in a new city, but fortunately, there are some apps that can help. As well as innovative general traveling apps like SitOrSquat and Detour, some handy transport applications can make your trip much more manageable.

Citymapper

Arguably the best app for getting around, Citymapper has it all. The app features a map of your surroundings where you can view traffic updates, road closures, and routes. It can give you directions for cycling and walking, as well as giving you live updates on public transport, so you’ll know when your bus is running late. The app also shows you the suggested mode of transportation for getting around, so you’ll have pre-warning that your journey isn’t going to be fun if you’re walking a route that they suggest you get a train for.

AirHelp

Though this app doesn’t help you get around, per se, it can come in handy when you’re traveling. If your flight is severely delayed, canceled, or something else goes wrong, AirHelp has the solution. Simply input your flight and ticket details into the app, and it will automatically file a compensation claim for you. If your application is successful, your payment will be transferred straight into your bank account.

Uber

If you get stuck in an unknown city, with no idea of how to get back to your hotel, then Uber could be your lifesaver. It automatically finds your location and lets you know exactly how much and how long your taxi will be. You then pay on the app, meaning you can get out at your destination without having to worry about having the right change.

Mobile Passport

Valid in three cruise ports and 26 airports across the United States, Mobile Passport allows you to avoid the majority of customs and passport control. You set up a profile on the app, fill in your passport details – or scan it for it to fill it in itself – and input your trip details. When you reach your port of entry, the app will show you a barcode, where you skip most of customs and get it scanned, which gives them all the information they need, and you’re free to be on your way. What a genius invention!

Skyscanner

This app lets you book flights, hotels, and car rentals, no matter where you are. You can even get tailored notifications when deals arise. It also offers flight tracking, so you know exactly when your flight is expected to arrive and depart. You can even share an itinerary with other members of your party on the app.

Any application which can make our lives easier on our travels is worth it, especially if it’s free! These apps are among many which can help you out if you’re in need of directions or transport, as well as making your life generally easier and more convenient.

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Why you should take a winter road trip

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If you don’t fancy a hot summer vacation but still fancy traveling somewhere new, then a winter road trip could be your ideal getaway. There are plenty of benefits of a road trip during the colder months as opposed to the heat of the peak season and could make for the perfect vacation.

Miles of open road

During winter, needless to say, everywhere is much less busy. Fewer families are traveling to and fro day trips and vacations, and so you’ve got the choice of roads and attractions where significantly fewer people are there than in summer. This can make for a much more relaxed and peaceful drive, so long as you drive safely and according to the weather conditions.

Avoid the crowds

For the same reason, almost any attraction, restaurant, or hotel you stop at is much less busy. There’s more chance of you finding rooms or tables on arrival than you would in summer. This is not to mention the reduction in the price of many goods and services during the off-season.

Take in the views

With less people around and significantly less traffic, you’re free to soak up the views of wherever you decide to head. If you take a winter road trip through Canada, for example, when no other vehicles are around, you can take in the stunning mountains and snow-covered trees in peace. You can even find a spot to park – which is easy in the off-season – and go for a walk in the pristine snow and forests.

Wildlife spotting

Not all animals hibernate over winter, and with considerably less traffic than in summer, you might just get the opportunity to see some animals and beautiful wildlife puttering about. You might also be treated to an incredible experience of seeing animals playing and bounding around in the snow if you’re lucky.

Better climate

Besides the lack of people around in winter, the cool air can make for a perfect road trip. While you might enjoy driving with the windows down in the heat of summer, winter road trips are great to avoid overheating or having hair whipped in your face. Winter tends to be a peaceful and serene time to drive where we can feel warm and cozy in the protection of our own cars.

An alternate winter

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean it has to be snowy, icy, or even cold at all. Many places, like Vancouver Island, get rain rather than snow which makes for a totally different experience. Surfing is often best in the off-season, as are the incredible storms you can witness over the ocean in winter. You could even take a trip to Hawaii, where winter is still warm regardless of the weather elsewhere.

There are plenty of reasons to take a winter road trip and many ways in which it beats a summer road trip, but it’s important to remember that it’s not as easy. Harsh weather conditions can make for a dangerous drive if you’re not careful and the cold can run your battery dry, so make sure you don’t leave any lights on overnight.

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Another suspected drone sighting briefly shuts down London Gatwick again, hours after it reopened

London Gatwick briefly suspended operations again after another drone was sighted near the airfield of the second-busiest airport in the U.K. The airport had been shut for two days during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
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Readers’ travel photography competition: December winners

Our final selection of the year ranges from New York cops to Venice shops, camel fairs to penguins. Scroll to see the winner – chosen by Mick Ryan of fotoVUE – who receives a £200 voucher for an i-escape holiday property. The overall 2018 prize is a trip to Greenland with Wild Photography Holidays

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Places to visit this fall that have the best sweater weather

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If you fancy traveling somewhere new this fall, but the idea of a cold skiing vacation or hot beach break doesn’t tickle your fancy, then maybe a cooler city with all year long sweater weather might be ideal for you. If you like cozy jumpers, boots, and jeans, then traveling somewhere where that’s your everyday outfit could be the perfect getaway. These are a few of the best places for you to visit this fall.

Portland, Maine

Portland is a beautiful peninsula full of beaches, lighthouses, and a perfect waterfront for fishing. There are plenty of attractions, restaurants, and things to do in Portland, as well as it having flawless sweater weather. The average fall temperature in Portland is in the low-30s, making it ideal if you fancy a getaway where you can live in sweaters, jumpers, and scarves.

Sa Pa, Vietnam

If you fancy somewhere slightly more exotic and further from home, Sa Pa grants the perfect weather for your fall vacation. Although, if sweater weather is your favorite kind of climate, you might want to visit Sa Pa in any season. With the highest temperatures of the year averaging at about 67°F in July, and the lowest being 48°F in January, it’s practically jumper and scarf weather all year round. It’s not just the climate that makes Sa Pa ideal, however. The town is one of the central market locations in the area and boasts incredible mountain views, trekking opportunities, and an exploration of traditional Vietnamese culture.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The capital city of Utah is one of the most picturesque cities in the United States. With a climate which averages at about 50°F in the fall, it’s the perfect place to bust out all of your favorite sweaters. It has a number of parks, including Liberty Park which spans over 100 acres, with a lake that has two islands in the middle of it. It is also home to a variety of bird species, making it perfect for nature lovers. Salt Lake City is also has a wide range of cultural and artistic attractions, such as museums, art galleries, music festivals, and conventions.

Kundasang, Malaysia

In the east of Malaysia resides a small resort town called Kundasang. Though the area has little in the way of attractions, it could be the perfect place for a lazy vacation. The temperate weather sticks at around 68°F, with temperatures not deviating much from 61°F to 75°F all year. There’s a World War II memorial and plenty of fresh vegetables, and also allows for a stunning view of Mount Kinabalu, not to mention the iconic cabbage roundabout, which is worth traveling to Malaysia for in itself!

There are plenty of places around the world which have chilly fall temperatures which are too cold for t-shirts but too warm for coats. Most of these reside in the United States, but if you fancy traveling further afield, many parts of Asia also have all year long sweater weather. It’s not just fall you have to limit your sweater wearing to!

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Best places to see a beautiful snowy landscape

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There’s nothing we love more than seeing the bright blue sky that’s only interrupted by a giant sun that shines for another day. However, do you ever get bored of seeing the same blank, blue sky? Sometimes we crave new experiences and new sights, and that’s why the excitement of snow is just too much to handle. Thankfully, there are countless places around the world where you can see beautiful snowy landscapes.

Lapland, Finland

There’s a reason why so many people travel to Lapland every year, and it’s not just because that’s where Santa lives! When you step foot in Lapland, you feel as though you’re stepping foot into a fairytale land. Every inch of the region is covered in snow, and this makes everything extremely romantic. Wander through the snow-quilted forests before cozying up in a wood-fired log cabin, and you’ll be living the ultimate Hygge lifestyle.

Whistler, Canada

Known as one of the best skiing destinations in the world, it should come as no surprise to learn that Whistler transforms into something special during the winter months. From the snow-capped mountains to the trees that line the pistes, you can spend your days skiing down these peaks before going for a walk around some of the many lakes. You never know, you might even be able to skim rocks on the frozen water. Wherever you look, you can guarantee the view will be breathtaking.

The Highlands, Scotland

The United Kingdom may not be known for its snowy landscape, but winter in Scotland is a whole different story. Nobody quite knows what’s going to happen each year, but you can guarantee it’s going to be beautiful. The Highlands is full of rolling hills and mountains that look absolutely incredible when they are covered in snow. You’ll need your camera for this one because the animals don’t hide when the snow arrives. That’s when they come out to play!

New York City, New York

City and snowscapes don’t seem to mix, but in the case of the Big Apple, it mixes perfectly. During the winter months, NYC is partial to a huge amount of thick snow, and it transforms the huge, bustling city into something truly magical. The roads are covered in the white stuff, the bare trees are coated in the cold, and Central Park looks like something out of a children’s book. As if that wasn’t enough, Christmas in NYC is ten times better when the snow starts to fall.

The Alps

We couldn’t talk about snowy landscapes without talking about the Alps, could we? The Alps is the biggest range of mountains in Europe, and these peaks make their way through six different countries! Because of this, you won’t struggle to find the Alps, and you can make the most of the untouched powder. Whether you just want to go for the view, or whether you want to enjoy the slopes, the mountains have it all.

Nothing compares to seeing snow capped mountains in front of you, which is why these destinations should be on your bucket list.

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Why you have to visit Alaska

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From the outside looking in, Alaska seems like a pretty barren place. All it has is snow, right? There is much more to Alaska than you might think and these are the reasons why you have to visit the wintery state.

Glaciers

Let’s start with the cold stuff, the ice. The state is estimated to have close to 100,000 glaciers so if you’ve never been lucky enough to witness one with your own eyes then visit Alaska. Glaciers are bodies of ice and snow that seem to be alive as they slowly make their way across the landscape. You can actually hear them moving and carving a path, creating the devastating ice break-offs that can be dangerous if you get too close.

The wildlife

Alaska isn’t plagued with being overpopulated like many places in the world, which means the wildlife that lives there is often on show. It is one of the best places in the world for spotting wildlife, and you can expect to see bald eagles, grizzly bears, wolves, and of course a moose or two. Alaska is the perfect place to bring your camera and get in touch with all things wild and wonderful.

History

There aren’t many places on the planet that are both a hark back to times gone by yet still part of the modern world. Alaska has a rich heritage of indigenous people and the people who live there share a long and varied history. Many people rely on age-old survival techniques, while there are several museums and heritage centers that allow you to learn more about life in Alaska. You can see some of the biggest totem poles in the world here, while learning about the state’s storied past through the artworks on exhibit.

The Northern Lights

There is a good chance that you might just catch a glimpse of the world-famous Northern Lights while in Alaska. Thanks to lower light pollution here than the rest of North America, the odds of seeing the lights are increased as the night’s sky is darker here. Staying for a short three or four-day trip should be enough to let you see the Aurora Borealis during the peak season, which is between September and March.

Enjoy a trail in the fall

The fall is the perfect time to explore Alaska by yourself. Temperatures often stay in the 40s and 50s which is the ideal hiking weather for trekking across the Alaskan wilderness. The benefit of hiking across Alaska is you get to enjoy some of the finest scenery in all of North America, and you don’t have to battle the crowds to enjoy it. Head to Denali National Park, or head up several of the mountain treks to get a better view of the state known as The Last Frontier.

Alaska is a wonderfully diverse state that offers so much more to its visitors than just snow and ice. The scenery is amazing, and you can see things here many can only dream of. Just remember to look up at night for the Northern Lights!

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10 of the UK’s best new distilleries

The UK now has more than 300 distilleries producing whisky, gin and vodka – and offering tours, tastings and more. The Guardian’s drinks writer gets into the Christmas spirits

One of the UK’s newest distilleries, owned by industry giant Halewood, that makes itsgin with organically grown botanicals. It also does a rose petal and a Valencian orange gin. The four floors of the Grade II-listed building – a former bank – include a working distillery, a make-your-own-gin lab, two bars (one focuses on rum and whisky) and a bartender training school. Visitors can learn about the history of gin, design their own recipe and distil and name their own bottle at the lab. Prices range from £22 for a distillery tour to £65 for the tour, tasting and gin lab experience.
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The world’s best festivals

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We all love to have a good time, but there are some places in the world where people know how to have the best time possible. These are some of the best festivals the whole wide world has to offer.

Carnival, Rio de Janeiro

There’s no party like a Brazilian street party, and Carnival tops the lot. Around 5 million people per year make the journey to the Brazilian city to see the amazingly colorful spectacle. Carnival is celebrated at the end of the Brazilian summer, and it becomes one frenzied party filled with great music and people dancing in the streets.

La Tomatina, Valencia

For one whole hour, people line the streets of the Spanish city Valencia. Battle lines are drawn, and friendships are ended as chaos reigns supreme. The festival has tens of thousands of participants all flinging tomatoes at each other. We’ve all dreamed of having a huge food fight when we were children, and for over 60 years this Spanish city has been living out their childhood fantasies. When the hour is over, you just wish yourself off in the river and let the drinks flow as the party gets started.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

The Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans is probably one of the most famous in the world. It is one big party of beads, drinks, and giant heads. Revelers line the streets of New Orleans while parades of floats drift down the street, each decorated in celebration of anything and everything. Everyone dresses in costumes, adorning themselves in purples, greens, and golds as the entire city throws a huge party. Then there is the tradition of king cakes, which are baked with a toy child inside. Whoever gets the child then has to bake the cakes the following year.

Dia de Los Muertos, Mexico

If there is one culture that really knows how to celebrate their lost loved ones it is the Mexicans. Dia de Los Muertos, or ‘Day of the Dead,’ is a huge carnival where people wear paper mache skeletons and paint their faces like sugar skulls. Those who participate devote the day to cleaning the graves of their family members, decorating them with flowers and candles. Those who have passed are remembered fondly, while those still living make sure they enjoy the day by having as much fun as possible.

Krampusnacht, Central Europe

In certain parts of Europe, the Krampus is the bad side of Santa, who punishes those children who have been bad. Just as Santa is celebrated, so too is the Krampus and he even gets his own parade in many European cities. It’s a little creepy but one of the best European Christmas traditions, as Krampus appears on 5th of December, the night before the feast of St. Nicholas. It is customary to offer the Krampus some Schnapps to get him to leave you alone.

If you’re looking for a good time then join the millions of people who enjoy these world famous festivals. They are celebrated all over the globe and are all worth adding to your bucket list.

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How to save time and avoid waiting in line for attractions

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There’s nothing worse than traveling somewhere to see an attraction that you waste half the day queueing for. Whether its a museum, gallery, or monument, if it’s popular, it’s going to have a seemingly endless queue. However, if you don’t fancy wasting three hours of your day queueing in the rain just for an elevator up the Eiffel Tower, then there are some tips and tricks to get you past the excessive lines.

Pick your time of day

Tourists usually want to visit attractions from around 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and so you’re left standing in an enormous queue. However, one of the best times of day to visit any spot – unless it has specific opening hours – is sunrise. There’s no need to wait for sunset to get artistic photos, when dawn is just as beautiful, with the added bonus of being pretty empty. The vast majority of travelers will not be up and out that early, so you’ll have the area practically to yourself. Equally, with some attractions that are open late at night, those times are also likely to be less crowded. So, in general, go super early or late, and you’ll avoid most of the crowds and waiting in line.

Get active

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to avoid queues is to take the stairs rather than escalators or elevators. In places where the view is the main attraction, elevators become overly busy, with people waiting in line for several hours to get in one, while the stairs remain empty enough for you to bypass everyone who is still waiting to be taken up the building without exerting any energy.

Book in advance

By booking a slot in advance, you can dramatically reduce your waiting times. If you arrive just before your slot, you should only be waiting a matter of minutes, rather than hours. The only problem is that you have to be organized and stick to your plan, but, if this doesn’t bother you, then a pre-booked entry time or tour can save you masses of time.

Don’t go for the popular day

If you want to see a famous attraction, avoid doing it when you know its likely to be busy. If you’re in another country, research their holidays, because you don’t want to visit an attraction, only to find out that the entire country has the day off and wants to see it, too. Another way to minimize waiting times is to pick a day which doesn’t appeal to other people. Choose an overcast or rainy day to view an outdoor attraction, and you’ll have the place almost to yourself. You might even witness some views which are uniquely beautiful, like fog hanging over the city.

Just because you want to visit a famous attraction, doesn’t mean you should settle for excessive queueing. You’ll waste your day and be bored by the time you get to the front. Make some plans in advance and look for the least popular times and you can wait in line for a significantly shorter amount of time.

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Why Meteora, Greece should be your next destination

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People love to travel, and there is barely a stone left unturned on this Earth. Most of the hidden gems in the world have been discovered, but there might just be one place left that is the complete package and isn’t filled with tourists, yet. Meteora in Greece is largely unknown to the masses, but it should be. Here’s why it should be your next holiday destination.

An alien landscape

With large rock erupting from the ground, green forests, and golden lakes, Meteora can seem completely foreign to people who visit it. It is almost so perfect it looks fake. There are countless rock formations with many of them topped with monasteries. You can explore this landscape by walking, biking, or even climbing.

Adventure paradise

Meteora is actually an adventurer’s paradise as there are endless climbing and hiking opportunities. You can wander off by yourself (or in a group) and discover the land at your own pace. Many tours will give you the tools required to scale the giant rock formations, taking in the Greek destination at a new angle. Besides climbing and hiking, there are also white water rafting opportunities. The Ionas River flows nearby and offers thrillseekers the perfect opportunity to get their adrenaline pumping.

The food

As with pretty much anywhere in Greece, you won’t go hungry as the food is exceptional. Olive lovers rejoice as you’re going to get some of the best varieties produced anywhere in the world. There are plenty of tavernas which offers local cuisines, including moussaka, and there’s loads of halloumi cheese on offer. Grilled meat is a Greek staple, and you’ll be leaving Meteora at least one size larger than when you arrived.

Explore history

The monasteries placed on top of the rocks can be explored, you just need to climb your way to the tops of the giant boulders to see them. You can trace back through time as the monasteries open their doors to the public and there are several folk museums littered around too. The architecture found is a piece of history as these buildings have been crafted from sandstone over hundreds of years. They sit well above sea level and are perfectly preserved for you to get a glimpse of life from centuries ago.

Get low

The attraction of Meteora is not just reaching up to the sky, there are also places to discover below the ground. The Theopetra Cave has shown signs of human life residing inside from at least 100,000 years ago. Archaeologists even found a stone wall built inside that dates back 23,000 years, making it the oldest example of a structure made by man. There is so much history hidden in this Greek location, all you have to do is look and you will discover it.

Meteora is a pretty well-kept secret for now, but the cat’s out of the bag and soon everyone will be checking it out. Make sure it’s your next destination to get ahead of the game.

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The best travel hacks you never thought of

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From checking you’ve got your tickets every ten minutes, to worrying whether or not you locked the front door when you left, there’s a whole load of things we have to think about when we travel. It doesn’t matter if it’s across the state or to the other side of the world, some unusual travel hacks can save you from the stress. Here are just a few of those all-important hacks.

Roll, don’t fold

One of the easiest ways to save loads of space in your suitcase is to roll your clothes. Instead of folding them and piling them in your bag, fold everything in half then roll them into tight sausages. You’ll save a ton of space, and they end up with less visible fold creases. Take it one step further and roll outfits together. Pick what top, pants, and undergarments will go together in an outfit, then pile them. Place each sock hanging out the sides so that when you roll the clothes up, they’ll all be intertwined with the openings of the socks hanging out each side of the roll. You can then fold the socks over to close the roll and keep it together. Genius!

Charge on the go

Maybe the simplest travel hack ever – but often overlooked – is the usefulness of a portable charger. Take a charger and lead with you everywhere you go and you never have to run out of cell phone battery. Charge the pack overnight in your hotel, and every day you’re free to take all the scenery pictures you could ever want.

Prove it’s yours

If you have no photos saved on your phone before your trip – to make room for hundreds of pictures of your destination, of course – or you’ve got an empty SD card in your camera, you’ve got no proof that it’s yours if it gets lost or stolen. Before you embark on your travels, therefore, take a selfie! If the first photo on the camera roll is of you, it’s undeniably easy to prove it belongs to you, and get it returned.

Space saving

In your bag, don’t waste valuable space. Stuff socks and underwear in your shoes, so that you don’t have any empty space taking up that precious room in your case. You could even fit a pair of socks in your glasses case or a t-shirt in an empty water bottle.

Waterproof your bag

This one is especially handy if you’re heading out on a trek or backpacking across several countries or cities. Place a bin bag inside your backpack while you’re out on excursions. Put all of your stuff inside the plastic bag, inside your main bag, and fold the top over. This will stop all of your belongings getting wet if rain was to seep through your backpack.

Use these unusual travel hacks so that you never have to stress about your luggage or belongings ever again! There are tons of hacks out there so that you can make the most out of your travels, but these are some of the most helpful and simple, to get you through your journeys.

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The best of ancient Egypt

Like the legendary curse of the mummy, ancient Egypt refuses to stay buried in the past. Every so often it comes back to life — in the 1920s with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb; in the 1970s with the global tour of those golden masks; and most recently with a flurry of astonishing discoveries using 21st-century archaeological techniques.


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The most bicycle-friendly cities in the world

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Cycling is more popular than ever, and people love to bike around the world’s greatest cities. Unfortunately not every city is ready for the masses cycling through them, but some cities thought of two-wheeled transport before it became the craze it is now. These cities are the most bicycle-friendly in the world.

Montreal, Canada

As Montreal seems to grow, so does their cycle lanes. This Canadian city is home to over 300 miles of cycle lanes, allowing residents and tourists safe passage around the metropolis. The lanes kindly have plenty of pit stops for those wanting to explore the entire city, and cyclists are not short of places to eat or drink along the way. There is a yearly cycling festival held in the city, welcoming cyclists of all ages to celebrate Canada’s love of bikes.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Any bike lover just has to take a trip to the capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen. The roads are pretty much all built with cycling in mind, with lanes devoted to bicycles. Around half of people living in Copenhagen travel by bike, and the roads are built with safety in mind. It can be overwhelming for tourists to see just how many cyclists there are, with lanes of traffic sometimes longer in the cycle lane than the regular roads.

Portland, USA

For many, Portland is the hipster capital of the world, and one thing hipsters love more than most are their bicycles. Improvements have been made to the local infrastructure to create safer passageways for those traveling by bike. The routes around the city are improving, and the ability to rent bikes has gotten better over the years too. Tourists can come to Portland and pick up a bicycle with relative ease. If you’re bringing your own bike to the city, you will find a host of storage lockers and suggested routes to take.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is famed for its bicycle-friendly landscape. It’s one of the flattest cities in the world which makes cycling easier than most. Many who travel to Amsterdam like to enjoy it as the locals do, by bike. There are estimated to be around 880,000 bicycles in the Dutch capital city, meaning there are more bikes than there are people! Tourists are encouraged to cycle around this great city, and there are plenty of guided cycling tours as well as rental places.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Cycle paths were first being built in the Brazilian city back in 1992 as they prepared for cycling’s popularity to rise. Cycling is a common way to get around this bustling city, and there are over 60 bike stations where residents share over 600 bicycles between them. The Copacabana beach has a cycle route alongside it which gives riders the perfect ride alongside the ocean.

These cities are a must for any bicycle lover to get out and let the wind flow through their hair. With purpose built cycle lanes, and biking communities celebrating their love of everything two-wheeled, these places are the most bicycle-friendly in the world.

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Best cheap flight websites you should be using

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Booking a flight can be overwhelming, we all know that. Whether you’re traveling across the state or to the other side of the world, you want to know you’re getting the most out of your money. With a range of different services, airlines, and seating arrangements, there are so many things to consider, but we’ve got some of the best flight websites which offer the cheapest flights.

Go direct

One of the best ways to book flights is through the airline itself, rather than through a third party. Airlines often have deals and reduced prices, although, even without a price reduction, they will usually cost no more than other online booking agents, but will give you peace of mind. If something were to go wrong with your booking or you needed to make an alteration, it’s easiest to speak directly to the airline who can deal with your issue quicker and more efficiently than an external agent.

Expedia

The trusted website has been around since the 90s and is no less popular for booking flights today. It can be used to book hotels, rental cars, and activities, too, meaning you can plan your entire trip through one website, which is certainly handy. They also offer a rewards scheme, meaning you can save money on future trips, the more you use their site.

Hotwire

Hotwire has been operating for roughly 20 years, making it one of the most reputable and reliable online booking websites. The site is easy to use, simple, and efficient for your convenience. All you have to do is input your details into the search bar, and it will bring up all the best deals. They also offer package deals which include hotels. These deals are almost unbeatable every time, with their package deals working out much cheaper than booking a flight and hotel separately.

Orbitz

Orbitz has been around just short of 20 years and has a successful rewards scheme where each booking earns you Orbucks which can save you tons on future hotel bookings – but not flights, sadly. This scheme works out so that 1% of your booking price is knocked off your next hotel bill. So a $ 300 flight, would subtract $ 3 from your hotel booking when you redeem your Orbucks. They also have a price match guarantee, but do charge a booking fee.

Priceline

This website is known for ‘opaque bookings,’ meaning that you book a flight without knowing the specific details, like times and the airline. In this way, airlines can fill more of their seats, and travelers can bag some pretty good deals. However, it’s not for everyone. You must have a pretty flexible schedule and be willing to go with whatever you’re told. The tickets cannot be canceled or changed, but, if you’re willing to blind book, Priceline can offer savings of up to 30%.

We all want to find the cheapest flights possible but from the most reliable site. These four websites are popular with travel fans and can offer you some great deals. They’re definitely ones to try for your next trip abroad.

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New Year’s Eve: 10 last-minute city breaks in Europe

Ditch Auld Lang Syne and greet 2019 in a new setting: concerts and walks in Madeira, markets in Vienna, skating in Budapest … and fireworks everywhere

Why go Hungary’s capital sparkles in winter and likes to party, so it’s a great place to see in the new year. There’s festive cheer on tap, with fairylight-strewn streets, chestnut sellers and ice-skating in City Park (the largest rink in Europe), to a backdrop of Vajdahunyad Castle. The Christmas markets on Vorosmarty Square and at the Basilica run until 1 January, with concerts, folk dancing and stalls selling mulled wine or pálinka (fruit brandy) and traditional chimney cake (cinnamon and sugar-coated dough). New Year’s Eve (Szilveszter) is celebrated with fireworks over the Danube, and it’s worth booking one of the many river cruises with dinner and DJs. Fisherman’s Bastion at Buda Castle offers a near-perfect panorama over the city (free and open 24/7, but likely to be crowded).

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The most dog-friendly cities in the world

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Whether you want to move somewhere completely new or go on a two-week vacation with your pup, you need to know which cities are the most accepting of our beloved canines. Some cities have low dog populations and so naturally, aren’t nearly as fun for you and your dog, while others have dog beaches, parks, and dog-friendly accommodation galore. These are among the most dog-friendly cities in the world.

Rome, Italy

Rome has a whole hoard of dog-friendly attractions. Many of their restaurants and business in general, allow dogs. Not to mention, Rome has a vast number of parks for your pup to play in. There is a beach in Maccarese, not far from Rome’s center which is famous for its love of dogs, too. The beach, named Baubeach, is a beautiful stretch of the coast with plenty of sand and sea for your enjoyment. More importantly, however, is that it is entirely dog-friendly. Here, your dog is free to run and play with other dogs, as well as dig in the sand and go for a dip in the ocean.

Seattle, U.S.A.

Why leave home when one of the world’s most dog-friendly cities is right here in the United States? Seattle has around twice as many dogs as it does children, with 14 off-leash parks and ten others surrounding the city. One of its parks, Magnuson Park, is a staggering nine acres of secure land which even includes a stretch of the shoreline for your dog to enjoy. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the city has numerous dog-friendly hotels, shops, and restaurants, too.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is possibly the most dog-friendly city in the entire world. Unlike most other places, you don’t even have to look for a sign to tell you that dogs are allowed in shops and restaurants, they just are! With the exception of museums and galleries, and places with a sign saying they aren’t welcome – which is rare – dogs can literally go to all of the places that you can in Amsterdam. They have a ton of beautiful dog parks, too, as well as Flevopark, which has a swimming area for canines.

Paris, France

France has the largest dog population in the world, so it comes as no surprise that they welcome dogs into their capital city with open arms. Much like Amsterdam, dogs are generally not allowed in galleries and museums but are welcome almost everywhere else. It’s also typical for Parisian restaurants and pubs to bring an extra chair to your table for your dog, as well as a bowl of water. Paris also has two big dog-friendly parks, Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne, which are three and two and a half times bigger than New York’s Central Park, respectively. Now, that’s a lot of room to play fetch!

Just because you want to visit or relocate to a city which is good for your pups, doesn’t mean you should suffer. All of these cities love their dogs but also offer some incredible sights and attractions for you, too, making them the perfect destinations, regardless of the reason.

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Love cute cafes? These are the best cafes in the world

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Big fan of coffee? Love having somewhere cozy to spend time with your friends? If that’s the case, you probably love nothing more than settling down with a nice cup of joe in a café. You likely know all the best places to go in your hometown, but what about in other cities around the world? If you need somewhere to enjoy a coffee or two while on vacation, you should probably check out these cute cafés.

Fukuro No Mise (Tokyo)

For all the animal lovers out there, cafés are some of the best places to go. Cat cafés have been popping up all over the world, but it’s not just felines that call these places home. The name Fukuro No Mise translates to Café of Owls, so we’re sure you can guess what animals you’ll find at this establishment. If you’re still not over the loss of Hedwig in the final Harry Potter book, you can drown your sorrows by petting some owls at this cute Tokyo café. Just try not to get too excited. The Owls might be tame, but they’re still birds of prey.

Snakes and Lattes (Toronto)

What’s more relaxing than playing a board game with your friends? Okay, so maybe it’s not that relaxing, but it’s a great way to pass an hour or two while you settle down with some tea or coffee. Plus, at Snakes and Lattes in Toronto, you have a choice of hundreds of classic games to get through while you let your competitive streak run wild. The cute café even hosts its own gaming events every so often, giving you an excellent chance to prove your talents to enthusiasts from around the world.

Big Knit Café (Bangkok)

Nothing says cute and cozy like a knitted scarf or jumper. Luckily, if you’ve no idea what you’re doing with a ball of yarn and some needles, you can learn everything you need to at the Big Knit Café. The establishment offers plenty of tutorials to newbies as they sip on their coffee and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Bangkok. For those already in the know, there’s plenty of yarn lining the walls that you can take to your table and start working on. Now you just have to decide what it is you want to knit.

Chillout Ice Lounge (Dubai)

You don’t go to Dubai if you can’t handle the heat. However, if the high temperatures prove to be too much for you, at least the Chillout Ice Lounge is designed to cool visitors down. Nearly everything in the establishment is made from ice, including the couches, making it the perfect place for some relief from the heat. Hot chocolates are the drink of choice here, and they’re recommended for staying warm in the subzero café. Things can get so cold that you’ll probably be grateful to return to the Dubai heat once you’ve finished your drink.

There are so many amazing places to enjoy coffee around the world, but these spots take the traditional café to the next level. You’ll want to add them to your bucket list.

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Best translation apps that every traveler needs to download

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One of the biggest issues with traveling is having to deal with the language barrier. The more countries you visit, the greater the problems you face. While plenty of people around the world speak English, most of them don’t have it as their first language. That causes communication issues, especially if you’re not well versed in their native tongue either. Thankfully, technology can save the day. The rise of smartphones means there are now apps for everything, including translating foreign languages. Which ones are the best to use though?

Papago

If you’re looking for an app that translates all languages, this isn’t it. However, if you’re in China, Japan or Korea and need to know what things say, you’ll want Papago on your phone. The app compensates for its lack of language options by giving you incredible insight into the ones it does know. In the case of Papago, it’s all about quality over quantity. It can offer you a wide range of support, from things like understanding daily expressions to the lingo needed in restaurants, shops, hotels and plenty more. Your Asian vacation won’t be the same without this.

iTranslate Voice 3

There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with miscommunication when you’re talking to someone foreign. They don’t speak your language, you don’t speak theirs, and it’s getting you both nowhere. Luckily, there might be an app to stop these awkward encounters from ever happening again. iTranslate Voice 3 acts as a tool for your conversations by translating everything you say. All you do is speak into the microphone, and it converts what you said into the language you desire. The person you’re talking to does the same thing, and soon enough all confusions are cleared up with you and your new friend.

Google Translate

Google Translate is a service that many people are familiar with, and it’s likely you’ve used it at least once in your life. Although the translations don’t come back 100% perfect, they should give you a firm idea of what someone’s said. Plus, this app has the added advantage of the Word Lens feature. If there’s a piece of text you don’t understand, Google Translate can tell you what it says. All you have to do is open your camera in the app and highlight whatever it is you don’t understand.

Microsoft Translator

Microsoft Translator essentially combines all the great features from these other apps into one versatile package. Whether you prefer to type or speak what it is you want to translate, it doesn’t matter. The app will do it all for you and give you a response to the best of its ability. It also offers the option to turn foreign text into english if you take a photo of a sign that you don’t understand. It’s the ideal app for any first-time traveler.

While it’s great to try and learn more than just one language during your life, you can’t be expected to know them all. Thankfully, with all these apps at your disposal, communicating in a foreign country is now easier than ever.

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10 of the best delis for traditional food and Christmas treats

Step into a world of spices and chocolates, cold cuts, cheeses and Christmas favourites at delicatessens from Venice to New York

Francis Ford Coppola is just one of the many fans of this second-generation purveyor of regional delicacies from around Emilia-Romagna. Metal hooks, once used to cure hunks of mortadella from the rafters, still decorate the ceiling and the umami-heady funk of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano that perfumes the shop. Since opening in 1932, in Bologna’s Quadrilatero, a labyrinth of medieval streets, the store stocks some of the best charcuterie in town. When owner Giovanni Tamburini isn’t rubbing elbows with local politicians over plates of superlative tortellini, he plays in a rock band named Ciccioli Ciccioli, which translates as “pork cracklings” in local dialect. During the month leading up to Christmas, Bolognese come here to stock up on bottles of bubbles and baskets of gourmet goodies.
Via Caprarie 1, tamburini.com
Diana Hubbell

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Tours you can take based on your favorite movies or shows

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Sometimes just watching a TV show or movie isn’t enough and you really want to take a step into the world you know and love so much. Many people have begun to tour the filming locations of their favorite stories, putting themselves in the heart of the action. These places are a great way to put you in touch with much-loved works of fiction.

Game of Thrones – Northern Ireland, Iceland, Croatia

The iconic fantasy TV series Game of Thrones was shot in several places around the planet and if you want to put yourself in the dangerous backstabbing world of Westeros, you can. Many of the scenes were filmed in Northern Ireland, including Winterfell, the Iron Islands, and the world-famous Dark Hedges.

The show was not only shot in Ireland however, and the scenes beyond The Wall were captured in Iceland. There are several tours available in Iceland to take Game of Thrones fans to iconic settings, and if you’re lucky you’ll also get to see the Northern Lights.

If you don’t fancy the colder temperatures of Iceland or Ireland, you can travel to Croatia. Dubrovnik was the city where King’s Landing was brought to life, and fans can take a guided tour around the ancient city.

Harry Potter, London

The Harry Potter fantasy franchise is one of the biggest in the world. Millions of people have read the books or watched the films, and lots of the movie locations were shot in London. The movies had a big impact on the city and many of the iconic locations have been developed specifically for people on Harry Potter tours.

Head over to Kings Cross Station to see Platform 9 ¾, where you can take a picture of a trolly stuck in the wall. When Harry first speaks Parseltongue, he does so at London Zoo and you can visit the exact snake tank featured in the film. There are many locations along the streets of London, and tours can be arranged to allow the biggest Harry Potter fan the chance to walk the same path as their hero. You can even swing on by to the movie studio where the film was shot where you can see props and costumes from the franchise.

Lord of the Rings, New Zealand

From one fantasy movie to another. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was shot in the beautiful country of New Zealand. Fans of the movies can visit many of their favorite locations including the Gardens of Isengard, Rivendell, and the Fangorn Forest.

If you want to feel like a hobbit on your own adventure, then you can check out the real-life set of Hobbiton. The houses built into the ground remain there to this day, and it’s the perfect way to be at one with the fantasy series.

If you’ve been looking to get in touch with some of your favorite movies or shows then check out these filming location tours. They are perfect for placing you right in some of film’s most famous scenes.

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Why you should stay in a youth hostel at least once in your life

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Some people refuse to stay in a youth hostel as they fear sharing their space with a complete stranger, or a group of strangers. Sure it means you have to get a little closer to people you know nothing about, but that’s actually part of its charm, plus they are a bargain too! Here’s why you should stay in a youth hostel at least once in your life.

Out of your comfort zone

Travel is all about creating experiences, but if you stay within your comfort zone, those memories might pass you by. Spending a few nights in a youth hostel will put you in touch with like-minded people all trying to have a great time. It is a collection of potential new friends.

There is always a place to hang out and have a few drinks before you and your new friends go exploring the city you’re staying in. Making friends at a youth hostel is pretty much inevitable if you’re open to the idea, and it can only make your experience better.

They cost less

There is one thing many people always argue in favor of hotels over hostels, they give you privacy. That privacy comes at a price, and often it makes travel far too expensive. For those who want to see the world but don’t have the budget to spend every night in a hotel, there is the humble youth hostel. They can cost as little as $ 10 per night and offer you a safe place to stay in a foreign land.

Hostels know what you want

The people who run youth hostels know exactly what you’ve come for. A good time! You will find that they try to help people get out and explore their wonderful cities, either during the day or to get a taste of the nightlife. The staff will suggest tours, and at night many of the team will gather a group of fellow hostel residents to go out and enjoy themselves.

Local knowledge

If you want to find the latest hotspot in the city, then the chances are the people working in the youth hostel are going to know where that is. Their jobs are to look after young travelers, so they have to know what they are attracted to. Tap into the staff’s knowledge to get to know some of the world’s best cities, plus they often have exclusive discounts to make things cheaper.

Resources

If you are traveling on a budget, then you might not have the cash to go out and eat dinner every night. One thing youth hostels offer you above hotels is the use of a guest kitchen. You can make your own meals in the evenings before hitting the town, saving vital resources for the local clubs and bars.

Youth hostels get a bad rap from people, but they offer so much. They won’t break the bank, and they pretty much guarantee you’re going to have a good time by creating a party atmosphere.

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Hidden places you should visit in the US

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Isn’t it amazing how much can be hidden right under your nose? You might think you know all there is to see in your country, but there’s still plenty out there that can surprise you. All you need to do is go exploring a little more, and you might be amazed by what you discover.

Fly Geyser (Nevada)

Natural phenomena are always breathtaking, but few are quite as captivating as Fly Geyser. Located in Washoe County, Nevada, the geyser is notable for its eye-catching colors which seem like something out of a painting. This natural wonder is no piece of art, though. It’s not even technically naturally occurring. The geyser only came about after locals tried drilling for a well in 1961, one of the best decisions they ever made. Now, almost six decades later, it’s become one of America’s greatest hidden gems.

Apostle Islands ice caves (Wisconsin)

If you live in Wisconsin, then there’s a chance you’re familiar with the Apostle Islands. There are 22 of them across Lake Superior, and they’re home to a variety of brilliant sights. From dense forests to sandstone cliffs, your camera would have a field day here. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that these islands transform at a particular time of the year. When the days get shorter and colder, some of the caves here become a winter wonderland. The flawless icicles have to be seen to be believed.

Tamanawas Falls (Oregon)

Do you ever feel like you’ve been transported to another world when you wander through a forest? Trees surround you on all sides, and there’s no sign of civilization anywhere – who knows where you could be. That’s probably why the things you find inside forests always seem so much more amazing than usual. Take Tamanawas Falls in Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest. At first, nothing seems out of the ordinary; then you stumble out in the open to find this incredible water feature cascading down from over 100 feet in the air.

Neptune Memorial Reef (Florida)

Looking for diving with a difference? Neptune Memorial Reef in Florida’s Key Biscayne can offer you that, though it might not be what you expect. It’s home to an underwater graveyard where the ashes of those who have passed away are stored in memorials. Apparently, the people of Florida grew bored of walking around a cemetery, so they went and put theirs somewhere a little more exciting. You might find it unsettling to swim around the deceased, but it’s one of the most tranquil ways to show respect to those no longer with us. What’s more peaceful than the silence you get while underwater?

If you want to see everything that the United States has to offer, you might be out for a while. With an area of 9.834 million km² to explore, you’re not going to get it all done in a day. Luckily, if you don’t have time to hike across North America, you at least know the best spots to see on your travels.

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Les Trois Vallées: great skiing – but away from the bling crowd

A new hostel in low-key Les Menuires provides easy access to great ski areas but is more about beanies and live bands than expensive designer gear

In Courchevel 1850, there’s an eight-bedroom chalet that costs €295,000 a week. The price includes two chefs, two butlers and a massage therapist, but not helicopter transfers to the resort’s altiport, ski equipment or lift passes.

Given that kind of excess, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Trois Vallées, the biggest linked ski area in the world, was an exclusive, mega-rich enclave. Yet here I am in Les Menuires, just two valleys to the east and on the same lift pass, staying in a bunkhouse-hotel hybrid where a dorm bed costs as little as £22 a night.

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Best cheap flight airlines you should be using

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Traveling abroad is rarely ever cheap. Even if you manage to bag some accommodation at an affordable rate, you still have the cost of getting there to worry about. Thankfully, your flights don’t always have to leave you broke before you’ve even made it on your vacation. As long as you travel with the right airline, you can pay for your journey without blowing all your savings.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines won’t jet you off on vacation to Europe or Australia, but it can handle all your traveling needs within the United States. Whether you’re flying from Texas to Alaska, or you’re just hopping over to your neighboring state, this airline’s got you covered. Prices for a round trip can be as low as $ 30 which will barely leave a dent in your travel budget. With the added bonus of a mileage program that gifts you things like priority boarding, you might want to go with Frontier Airlines for your next American vacation.

jetBlue

Prepare to fly a little further if you choose JetBlue the next time you book a flight. As well as traveling all over the United States, this budget airline will also fly to the very south of the North American border. Holidays in Mexico and the Caribbean are definitely on the table with this provider, and your flights there are sure to be ones you’ll enjoy too. JetBlue planes generally offer greater leg room capacity than many other cheap airlines, while also providing things like onboard dining services. It’s everything you probably expect from a flight, just at a fraction of the cost.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has been offering budget flights for the people of America for decades. They’ve been around since the early ‘70s, and for the last 50 years, they’ve been flying further and quicker without putting customers out of pocket. Not only can you jet off to over 100 destinations via Southwest Airlines, but you also have the bonus of taking two free bags on your flight. That’s a service that’s rarely offered by airlines, so you know that Southwest is treating you right. Not that you really need to save much money seeing as how their fares are also exceptionally affordable.

Virgin America

You might think a respected brand like Virgin would offer somewhat costly flights for its passengers. However, Virgin America is regularly praised for its affordability, making it one of the leading budget airlines in the country. Things like Wifi availability and spacious seating will have you flying in style as you head off on vacation, all while you’re tended to by award-winning airline staff. The crew at Virgin America pride themselves on the level of care and attention they show their customers, and it shows. Their dedication is merely the cherry on the cake when it comes to this affordable airline.

Going on vacation can cause a great deal of stress, but there are ways to stop your mini break from driving you insane. If you fly with one of these affordable airlines, at least you can cross saving money off of your list.

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Best cities around the globe to witness the Northern Lights

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Few sights are more beautiful than the Northern Lights. Caused by the collision of solar particles and gases, they will easily take your breath away. However, finding somewhere to see them can be tricky. You have to be in the right part of the world to get a good view of them. Luckily, we know exactly where these places are.

Kakslauttanen (Finland)

Finland sits in a perfect location to see the Northern Lights which is why the locals have cashed in on the phenomenon. There are specially designed glass igloos in Kakslauttanen that allow tourists to gaze up at the Lights without having to bear the brunt of the country’s cold weather. Although the light show is impossible to miss in the winter, Finland isn’t exactly known for being warm.

Tärendö (Sweden)

Considering parts of Sweden don’t see sunlight for days at a time, the country makes an ideal choice for viewing the Northern Lights. Places like Tärendö top the list as the best locations to set up camp and do some stargazing, though you can see the Lights in most parts of the north. The benefit of traveling to Sweden for the phenomenon is that temperatures don’t drop as much as other places during the winter. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not cold there – you’ll still need to wrap up warm.

Tromsø (Norway)

Northern Lights or not, you should visit Norway anyway. The country is one of the most beautiful in Europe, and it’s bursting with natural wonders. It’s simple to navigate and full of towering mountains and peaceful fjords that will look great on your camera roll. Once the sun sets and the night is in full swing, you can get great shots of the vibrant Lights from all over the country. Why not stop off in somewhere like Tromsø for a few hours of stargazing. As long as it’s winter, you should have a perfect view of one of nature’s greatest wonders.

Fairbanks (Alaska)

If you want to see the Northern Lights, you don’t even have to leave the US. All you’ve got to do is get yourself over to Alaska where conditions are optimal for seeing the Lights. Although it can be chilly here at night, the prevalence of hot springs means you can enjoy the wonder of nature while staying nice and warm. While Fairbanks is generally considered the best place in the state to see the show, you can glimpse the Northern Lights from almost everywhere in Alaska.

Nuuk (Greenland)

If you want to enjoy the Northern Lights somewhere that isn’t a tourist trap, then you might want to consider visiting Nuuk in Greenland. It’s less popular with visitors, mainly because it’s not as developed as other countries. However, if you don’t mind more rural living, then this might be the place to go. Plus, with all the icebergs in the ocean, there’s plenty more to see here than just the Lights.

Natural wonders don’t get much more beautiful than the Northern Lights. If you’re desperate to see them, you’ll need to add one of these cities to your travel list.

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A wintry storm hammering the Southeast grounds more than 1,400 flights, as airlines waive change fees

A large wintry storm that struck the Carolinas, Virginia and other parts of the Southeast prompts airlines to cancel more than 1,400 flights. Carriers waive change fees for passengers traveling to and from affected airports.
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Best places in the world to watch the leaves change for fall

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The end of the summer is a sad time for many people. The days grow shorter, and the hot weather disappears, making days at the beach a thing of the past. However, while it’s okay to mourn the loss of summer, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the changing seasons. Fall is a beautiful time of the year, not least because the leaves turn an impressive assortment of colors. Don’t agree? Maybe that’s because you’ve never seen it happen at these places before.

Great Smoky Mountains (United States)

Anywhere that’s full of trees is bound to be a great place to watch the leaves change color. If you’re looking to enjoy fall without leaving the United States, you might want to spend some time at the Great Smoky Mountains. Sat on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, these mountains are home to all sorts, including magnolia, hickory and chestnut trees. It’s the most popular national park in the whole of the US, and a lot of these visitors come in the post-summer months. They know that all those leaves are worth seeing.

Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

People in The Netherlands care a lot about the planet. That’s why so many of them whizz around on bikes rather than driving everywhere. With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that the country – Amsterdam, in particular – makes such an excellent destination for people hoping to make the most of fall. Over a fifth of the capital is covered in greenery, with places like Amsterdam Forest offering acres of open woodland for all your leafy needs. You can gaze up at the vibrant colors while you dip your feet in the river – it’s pure bliss.

Kyoto (Japan)

While half of Japan is all about being up-to-date with technology, the other half loves nothing more than embracing nature. The traditional side of Japan is largely affiliated with the peace and tranquility that comes from being at one with Mother Earth. That’s why places like Kyoto have so many trees. Although the country is better known for the cherry blossoms that arrive in the spring, it’s fall foliage is also worth seeing with your own eyes. There are so many temple gardens filled with colorful trees here that you’ll be spoiled for choice when you arrive.

New England (United States)

It seems that there aren’t many places better suited for watching the leaves change color than New England. With states like Maine and Vermont offering maple trees that beam a brilliant red in the fall, New England is the epitome of what people often picture when they think about this time of year. Achieving this incredible color is by no means easy, though. The weather has to be just right during the summer for the vibrancy to shine through, with sunny days and cooler temperatures an essential ingredient. Luckily, as long as these conditions remain optimal, New England will offer you a sight like no other.

Fall might not be as warm and sunny as the summer, but it’s still a great time for enjoying nature. After all, the world never stops being beautiful.

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An affordable winter sports break in Oslo, of all places

Despite its pricey reputation, Norway’s capital may be the world’s most accessible snow sports hub, with an Olympic bobsleigh run and cross-country skiing a short schuss from the centre

I’m on the metro, Line 1 of Oslo’s T-bane, but instead of shopping bags and briefcases, people are getting on with skis and snowboards. The train heads north, emerges from the tunnel in a forested suburb covered in thick snow then climbs up and up. At Midtstuen station a crowd of excited children get on with their sledges. They have clearly just toboganned down the hill.

“Stay on the train until the last stop,” a 12-year-old tells me. “You rent a sledge and helmet. The run ends at Midtstuen.”

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Why the balkans should be your next destination

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Taking its name from the Balkan Mountains, this part of Southeast Europe has become more and more popular with travelers in recent times. With a heady mix of different cultures, landscapes, and people, it’s no surprise that tourists are waking up to what the Balkans can offer for an incredible trip. If you’re unsure whether this is the right destination for you, we’re about to change your mind. Here is why the Balkans should be your next destination.

It’s cheaper than the rest of Europe

Compared to the rest of Europe, you’ll find that the Balkans is a far more affordable place to visit. In fact, you can fill your belly here in a fairly nice restaurant for around $ 15 per person. It’s a lot cheaper here because it hasn’t become a tourist hotspot – yet. However, as more and more people realize the potential of a more affordable vacation in Europe, the prices are likely to rise. If you want to make the most out of how cheap it is here, then you definitely need to make your way there pronto. Who can turn down a $ 15 dinner… With drinks?!

It has some of the most beautiful things to see and do

In the Balkans you’ll find some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of Europe – if not the world. And it doesn’t matter what kind of thing you like to do, because you’ll find something for everyone here. If you’re a history buff then you’ll love wandering around the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. If you’re an active adventurer then you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the mountains, fjords, and landscapes that you can hike across. If you love culture, then you won’t be disappointed when it comes to all of the galleries and museums on offer here. There really is something for everyone in the Balkans.

Don’t forget the beaches!

Of course, we couldn’t mention the beautiful scenery of the Balkans without talking about the beaches. If you like sandy beaches and clear blue waters, then this is the place to be – especially in the summer. Greece and Croatia are some of the most popular destinations when it comes to beach vacations, but you should consider thinking outside of the box too. Head to the Albanian Riviera for some hidden gems that you just won’t want to leave. Even countries like Macedonia, which are landlocked, have lakes that put some other countries’ beaches to shame.

The locals are super helpful

As they aren’t often plagued by tourists, you’ll find the locals of the Balkans to be an extremely friendly bunch. In fact, they’re often grateful for visitors and this certainly comes across in the way they are with tourists. Most of the locals are willing to lend you a hand, let you know of secret spots to eat and drink, and just generally welcome you with open arms. This is the kind of place that will quickly feel like home from home, thanks to how incredible the people are.

Surely now you must be convinced to head to the Balkans on your next trip?! It really is a stunning part of the world, that has to be seen to be believed.

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Why you should visit the United States national parks in any season

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The national parks in the United States are some of the most beautiful places on Earth, but many people only visit them when the weather is good. We’re looking at why these parks are great to visit at any time of the year, no matter the weather.

The snow

Do you like when the snow comes and turns everything a brilliant shade of white? Snow is capable of turning even the bleakest of places into something pretty thanks to the white blankets it lays over everything. If you enjoy the beauty of the national parks then why not check them out after a snowfall? The national parks are already awe-inspiring but when covered in snow that beauty is taken to another level.

Climbing

Ice climbing is becoming more popular and if you like to visit the parks to scale some of their rocks then why not increase the difficulty? Glacier National Park and Acadia National Park are ideal as you can find a challenge while enjoying the beauty offered by the parks. Winter doesn’t have to be the time of hibernation, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy nature without waiting for the fair weather.

Wildlife

Different species of wildlife thrive during different seasons. If you love heading to a national park to check out signs of wildlife, and to get closer to nature, then why not mix things up and visit at a different time of year? You’ll be more likely to see a different set of animals if you mix up when you visit the parks. It’s more likely you’ll spot animals like beavers and otters during the colder, wetter months.

Waterfalls

Hitting the national parks in the middle of summer usually means you’re going to get good weather, but you might be denying yourself an awe-inspiring sight. As the winter snows melt they fuel the rivers and streams running through the parks, which means there is a greater chance to see the amazing waterfalls in action.

Yosemite falls are an iconic site in the California national park, but come too late and the water will practically have dried up already. Hitting up a national park in spring when the rains arrive mean you can see some of nature’s best water features in action before they fizzle out.

Beating the crowds

Unsurprisingly, summer is the most popular time for people visiting the national parks. If you don’t mind a bit of rain, or wrapping up a little warmer, then check them out earlier or later in the year. Fall is one of the best times of year to be surrounded by trees, and fewer people are stomping around the trails. That means you can enjoy the parks in relative peace, without every man, woman, child, and dog getting in the way.

The national parks in the United States don’t only open during the summer months, and they are there to be taken advantage of all year. Whether it’s avoiding people or enjoying the diversity, visiting the national parks in all seasons is a must.

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