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Finding The Perfect Holiday Accommodations

When you want to take a trip, one of the biggest considerations you need to think of is accommodation, so that you can find the perfect space to relax and unwind in after a day spent exploring and enjoying exhilarating adventures. Your perfect holiday property must offer you the exact services and facilities you want so that you can enjoy the holiday experience you desire. Here are some of the best ways you can find the best holiday accommodations to suit your needs and leave you free to make great memories.

Hotels Come In All Shapes And Sizes

When searching for your ideal base from which to explore during your trip, it’s important that you examine all of the amenities and services it has to offer. There are lots of different types of hotel for those that want to stay somewhere with regular service, ranging from small boutique hotels through to expansive luxury establishments.

Villas Are Perfect For Those Who Want Peace And Quiet On Their Holiday

If you’re keen to enjoy privacy during your trip and unwind in your own space, then consider renting a luxury villa. When visiting somewhere hot for a relaxing break, such as the Greek islands, it is important that you have your own space in which to relax and recline by the pool.

An Apartment Gives You Great Facilities In A Contained Space

For travellers looking for a self-contained accommodation that has lots of shared amenities, renting an apartment could be the ideal solution. You’ll be able to combine the peace and quiet of your own property with shared facilities such as pools, leisure spaces and even fitness suites and bars. Once you’ve enjoyed the communal facilities you want you can retreat to your own apartment for some rest and relaxation.

Staying In Someone’s Home Can Give You The Chance To Immerse Yourself In A New Culture

Learning about a new culture during your trip is a great way to broaden your mind, and the best way to do this is to stay with local residents, who will be able to advise you on the attractions and places that you should visit and share tips that only a local will know. There’s plenty of platforms that allow you to find families based around the world who are willing to let you stay in their home during your trip.

Mobile Homes Can Help You See More During Your Trip

One of the best ways to make the most out of your holiday is to travel around and see as much as possible, and for this renting a mobile home is the perfect solution. You’ll be able to travel and see as much as you’d like, then rather than returning to your hotel, you can simply sleep in your transport. There are many different types of caravans out there for you to choose from, so you can select the best option for your trip and take it on an exciting adventure.

Advice Asia Guides Insider Tips

What Not To Miss In Singapore Your First Time

For me, Singapore is my home away from home.  The things I adore about Singapore are often the things that tourists miss out on when they visit.  As it turns out, Singapore is so much more than just shopping on Orchard Road. 

Follow this list of things you won’t want to miss your first time visiting Singapore and you’ll get to experience everything Singapore has to offer.

1. Eat at the Hawker Centres

You will find hawker centres all throughout Singapore.  These are essentially government-regulated food courts where the locals go to eat. Here you’ll experience some of the best and most authentic dishes in all of Singapore.  

We would highly recommend you eat most of your meals at hawker centres and do your best to try different dishes each time!  Some local favorites include char kway teow, laksa, wantan mee, and roti prata.

2. Shop on Orchard Road

When most people think about what to do in Singapore, the first thing that comes to mind is shopping…  and Orchard Road is the quintessential spot in Singapore to do it! You’ll get the opportunity to shop at countless high-end shopping malls (with air-conditioning thankfully) and every brand you can think of.  In fact, most big brands have numerous shops on Orchard Road.

If you are a big shopper, then Orchard Road is an absolute must.  Even if you aren’t, it’s still well worth taking a few hours out of your day.

3. Visit Gardens by the Bay

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is a stunning feat of architecture found right in the heart of Singapore.  A handful of giant supertrees tower over the park. A sky bridge extends through the grove connecting two supertrees and allowing you to walk amongst the treetops.

Two massive conservatories contain two separate ecosystems – one filled with tropical plants and another packed with flowers.  It’s absolutely worth visiting and spending the S$28, but if you are limited on time consider skipping the Flower Dome.  

The Cloud Forest is by far the more impressive of the two structures, containing the second tallest indoor waterfall in the world (after the Jewel at Changi Airport, also in Singapore).

4. Shop & Eat at Chinatown

Make sure to visit and explore Chinatown.  It’s home to some of the best Chinese hawker stalls in Singapore, plus it’s a great opportunity to get some shopping done and find some souvenirs to take back home.

Make sure to check out Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.  Making it here during a Chinese festival, such as the Chinese New Year, can be absolutely stunning.  The streets will be decorated with lanterns and you can expect the locals to be festive.

5. Explore Clarke Quay and Visit the Merlion

Clarke Quay is a great spot to explore for a few hours on a nice evening.  There are plenty of upscale eateries and bars here and a river with boat rides and bridges.

A short walk will offer spectacular views over the bay towards the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Singapore Flyer.  You also won’t want to miss a photo of the iconic Merlion which was relocated here in 2002.  

6. Stroll Through Macritchie Reservoir Park

The Macritchie Reservoir is Singapore’s oldest reservoir and is a giant park found in the middle of the island.  Consider hiking the Macritchie Nature Trail, where you will find eleven kilometers of trails, with a full loop taking around four hours. 

Along the way, expect to encounter some cheeky, long-tailed macaques (yes, monkeys) that want nothing more than the food in your bags.  Make sure not to feed them – and be especially careful not to corner them. They are cute to look at, but they can be aggressive.

You may also come across a treetop walkway suspended 25 meters above the ground.  It’s a great way to experience the park from the sky, but consider avoiding it if you’re afraid of heights.

Advice Budget Insider Tips Travel Planning

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

A new year is approaching, and with the new calendar date comes new excitement and (if you’re like me) new bucket list destinations. As 2020 creeps closer each day, there are some absolutely stunning cultural cities that I’m dreaming of visiting in the new year. Luckily, many of these places are affordable destinations too!

For those of us who have a budget in mind… good news! With the increased demand for affordable transportation, It’s a pretty incredible time to be a budget traveler. Here are four affordable destinations I’m adding to my 2020 travel plans …and you should to)!​​​​​​​

Mexico City, Mexico

With affordable, direct flights connecting it to many popular US cities, Mexico City has quickly become a cultural hub for budget travelers! Flying from New York is a grand total of five hours, making it an excellent choice for a long weekend or over a holiday break. 

Mexico City is a perfect affordable destination for cultural travelers. So, if you happen to be a traveler who longs for meaningful, historical, authentic experiences – look no further. As one of America’s earliest cities, Mexico City is stocked with many artifacts of the ancient world, museums, art exhibits and more. 

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Be sure to check out Mexico City’s Coyoacán neighborhood, dotted with beautifully aged architecture, as well bright and vivid colored homes and foliage. Mexico City’s culinary scene is also top notch! Foodie travelers will love its traditional, family-owned restaurants and appreciation for authentic flavors. Some of my personal eatery favorites? El Moro’s churros, Azul Historico’s one of a kind gaucamole with crickets and Cafe Don Porfirio for one of the best views in the whole city!

Johannesburg, South Africa

After just returning from a whirlwind trip to Johannesburg, I can confirm that the city is truly one that will​​​​​​​ always have me coming back for more. Johannesburg city is rapidly changing… making it a joy to rediscover time and time again. Johannesburg was my first solo trip I ever took, and it has a nostalgic and meaningful place in my heart. That said – I think the city is one of the most contrasting and intriguing environments out there.

Jo’burg’s friendly, chilled out vibe is incredibly welcoming to outsiders. Check out the city’s Apartheid Museum to learn about its troubled past and gain and understand of the context in which the city views its future. It’s a seriously moving experience. Also be sure to explore its up and coming neighborhood, Maboneng… its hipster feel will have you questioning where in the world you are! Feeling a bit more adventurous? The city’s relativity to some of South Africa’s most amazing wildlife reserve and game lands makes it a very special location for safari departures.

Budget travelers, something to keep in mind – your flight will perhaps be your biggest purchase for this trip! However, I’ve found that after landing, costs are very cheap (when exchanging the US dollar)… making it a relatively affordable destination all things considered.

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Cairo, Egypt

Real adventure seekers, 2020 is your year to discover the mystery of Cairo! Egypt is so much more than just ancient pyramids and camel rides through the desert. Trust me on this. Cairo is rich with wonder and adventurous excursions galore. Better yet, the country of Egypt is a relatively affordable destination for the adventurous soul with an innate curiosity for our ancient human history.

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Egypt’s large and expansive capital, Cairo, set on the Nile River, is filled with some of the world’s most prized and studied relics. After visiting the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx At Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Djoser At Saqqara – be sure to take a jaunt over to the city’s Antiquities Museum & Mummy Room. I truly believe that traveling responsibly means also investing in educating ourselves about other cultures – so I absolutely recommend taking an Islamic tour of the area to gain a greater sense of Cairo’s history and perspectives.

Cairo’s flights are extremely affordable if departing from parts of Europe! So, if you just so happen to be on holiday exploring – see if you can add an extra leg to Egypt at a cheaper price. Quite like Johannesburg, I’ve found that the exchange rate makes Cairo an incredibly affordable destination options based on day-to-day expenses.

Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal has stolen the hearts of international travelers in the past few years. And I have to say, after experiencing the magic of Lisbon, I can’t believe it’s taken this long for many of us to discover it! With its Western location along the Atlantic and many low budget airlines that connect in the city’s airport, there are many affordable flights popping up these days. (P.S. Lisbon is another hub of connecting flights to greater Europe – making it an excellent “long layover” choice!)

Lisbon is truly the hub of goodness – from its slow approach to living, delicious eateries, fresh, natural wines, and a serious appreciation for architecture and tile work. Lisbon’s laid back vibe is the perfect affordable destination for any traveler who wants to soak in the good life while also discovering one of Europe’s hidden gems.

Some of my favorites? A lunch at the Time Out Market, a breezy walking tour of the Alfama district’s homes, an excursion to Tower Belem (with a pit stop at the original pasteis de nata bakery), and a delicious, traditional Portugese dinner by the water! Imagine yourself exploring the hilly cobble stoned streets, popping into antique markets, eating delicious pastries and espresso and finishing the day off with port wine by the city’s waterfront area. Sound like your dream? Add Lisbon to your 2020 bucket list stat!

I don’t know about you, but my bucket list is ever-evolving and changing. But, there’s one aspect that I always find myself valuing – and that’s price! No matter what type of traveler you are, a budget-conscious destination is the best.

Do any of these affordable destinations make your 2020 bucket list? Did you ever consider these four destinations to be affordable options? Or are there other cheaper cities that have you drooling?

Advice Guides Travel Planning

A Guide To Planning A Mother-Daughter Trip

Have you ever taken a mother-daughter trip? I’m not sure of your relationship with your mother… but for me, my mother is my favorite traveling companion. She has always encouraged me to travel and as a single immigrant mother, I am still in awe of how she put me through college and a study abroad program.

When I was in college, it was before we had smartphones, Airbnb and other travel apps. More than ten years ago, she planned my post study abroad trip to Italy from Switzerland. I had used the excuse that I was busy studying, which we all know isn’t entirely true but at the time, my exams seemed urgent and important. She booked the hotels, trains and flights. ​​​​​​​

It was only years later when I planned a mother-daughter trip that I realized exactly how much she had undertaken without the conveniences and ease of today’s technology. Since that first big trip to Europe we have traveled to Japan, Canada, Mexico, France, the UK, U.A.E. and Sri Lanka. 

I’m currently planning a trip with her again this fall to attend a friend’s wedding.​​​​​​​ Here are some of my biggest suggestions for planning an amazing mother-daughter trip!

Find what you have in common

It may not be what you think you have in common. Get to know her as a person. What does she enjoy? What are her pet peeves? Use this as a way to figure out where to stay and what to do while you’re in said location.

While you may be fine sleeping in a private hostel room, your mom probably desires much more comfort and cleanliness. I have always booked an Airbnb for us. I’m in my 30’s now so I’m not up for hostel hopping and my mom has probably never stayed in one, which is why booking an Airbnb is a wonderful option. You can brew your own coffee, make breakfast and have your privacy.

Book Transportation & Accommodations As Soon As Possible  

This will remove a great deal of stress on your part. With your friends you might be okay having booked the first night of your stay, but you want to make your mother-daughter trip as stress-free and fun as possible. Part of this is to get the two largest expenses and possibly challenging aspects of the trip out of the way. 

3. Do your homework

Will you need to know a foreign language? I have found that in my travels, English isn’t always as common as you think. Non-verbal communication makes up a large portion of overall communication. Being clear in your actions even if you don’t know the language will be helpful. Additionally, speaking louder doesn’t mean that you’ll be understood unless they are hard of hearing.

I am fortunate to be skilled at learning new languages and while my mother is bilingual, her languages she heavily relies on me to communicate our needs. My favorite language app (it’s free!) is Drops. I find it far superior to Duolingo as it starts you from the very basics and uses topics that make sense in day-to-day conversation. On the contrary, maybe your mother is the linguist in the family and she has the time to dedicate learning some phrases for your trip.

Will you need a visa beforehand or is there a visa on arrival that you can buy? How is the political climate? While I personally don’t check the U.S. travel alerts, it is likely that you’ll have a friend or family member that will be concerned about your travel destination. The destination I personally get the most questions about is Mexico. “Is is safe?”

Again, do your homework so you can avoid certain areas or situations. Use your gut instincts. As women, this instinct is quite intense, but it is always useful to hone that strength. For example, you might not want to walk around after a certain time at night. Whatever rules you follow at home, you should follow while you’re on vacation. 

What is the appropriate attire? Are there customs that you have to follow to remain respectful? Taking off your shoes, covering your shoulders or head, dressing conservatively as to not attract extra attention, asking to take someone’s picture etc… Religious sites tend to be where you will have to be most aware. You do not want to put you or your mother in an awkward or uncomfortable situation. 

Research Places To Eat, Things To Do, etc… 

My mother’s favorite part about traveling is to eat food that she doesn’t get to eat when she’s home. She also has a dietary preference. This is where knowing the local language will be essential. Does your mom have allergies, special requirements or preferences? You and/or her will need to be able to communicate this effectively. In my experience, some countries in Asia do not think that chicken is meat. If you’re vegetarian for example, this would limit what you can have, but if you can’t communicate this preference then you will have to adjust your mother-daughter trip itinerary accordingly.

Choose one or two places per day for the length of your stay. Don’t be too stringent with these choices as your local Airbnb host or someone you meet during your trip may recommend something that outweighs whatever you found on a blog/Yelp/Instagram post. Airbnbs not only offer privacy, but save you from having to go out and buy breakfast if you pick up a few things and make your tea/coffee in your room or apartment. In Sri Lanka, our hosts provided breakfast, but we had to make sure they knew my mother’s food preferences. 

As far as places to go and what to do. This is a trip for the both of you so while I don’t necessarily recommend separating from your mother, it might depend on where you’re going. Personally, I need some alone time no matter who I travel with. But that’s something you can do during the day like waking up before your mom or going to sleep later.. as long as you’re safe.  

You and your mom may like different activities. Maybe you love to lay on the beach and relax because your work week was stressful while she doesn’t like much sun. Find some middle-ground so that you can both enjoy your mother-daughter trip and each other.

Ask for recommendations from locals because it’s likely you’ll discover a hidden gem that might be something only locals know of. Then plug these activities into your itinerary while allowing for some flexibility. If you and your mom both love a detailed itinerary, then go ahead and do that, but it’ll reduce stress if you don’t have to worry about being at a certain museum at a certain time when your taxi driver doesn’t understand where you’re going for example or you’re caught in traffic.

Make A Packing List 

Not to draw too much of a blanket statement, but women really like to shop. Keeping this in mind, pack less. If you don’t live in the same city as your mom, talk about what you’re planning to bring based on the climate, season and local attire. If you happen to have the same shoe size or can wear the same tops then bring even less. That way you can alternate or share even if your fashion style isn’t the same. Unless the trip involves a fancy gala, you won’t need formal attire. Plan a list based on comfort and what you’re doing. Nothing ruins a mother-daughter trip quite like too much luggage!

You might not want to risk the time wasted or stress over lost luggage so you may only want a carry on. What is the drinking water like? I’ve loved having a filtering water bottle from REI to fill up at the Airbnb so I can save time, money and reduce waste. However, if you’re somewhere where the tap water might be unsafe then plan accordingly.

You and your mom will probably buy trinkets, gifts or hand-made items during your trip. Maybe she’s a collector of wooden bowls and wants to buy one. You’ll have to account for this before your trip. If you have a rendezvous before you fly somewhere together then pack together, combine, edit your things so that each of you is carrying an even amount. And for carry-ons, if you’re young, a backpack might work for you especially if you’ll be somewhere will a lot of cobble- stone streets, but that might not be practical for her. Carry things for her even if she’s a super fit, it’s just the right thing to do.

Leave Your Worries Behind

Depending on how long you two are traveling, things may come up in that time and you might have a disagreement or argument, but don’t go into the trip with emotional baggage and leave anything that happens on your trip behind you once you’re headed home. The trip may create a deeper bond and you don’t want to risk that by bringing up unpleasant things that happened on the trip or blame one another for anything. Unless an awkward situation could be funny, it isn’t worth bringing up displeasing things once you’re around other family members. Be advocates for one another, uplift each other as women and find that friend who also happens to be your mother.

Advice Budget Giving Back Insider Tips Travel Planning

5 Alternative Ways to Travel

5 Alternative Ways to Travel

I think it’s safe to say that social media has bitten most of us with wanderlust and travelers are now exploring unimaginable corners of the world. As travel continues to become more people’s motivation, they will seek experiences that are completely unique whilst being affordable. With that said, it’s why we are seeing a rise in alternative travel.

Alternative travel, or termed also as anti-tourism, is a new way of experiencing travel to make it more meaningful and not conventional in nature. There are a number of reasons why people find alternative ways to travel, but I think the biggest determining factor is attainability. Budget is often something we consider when book flights and accommodation. Alternative travel makes things a bit more affordable as you save money or even make money along the way. Secondly, you learn empathy through authenticity. It’s a deeper dive into the culture and it’s people, and so you become hyper-aware of the way people eat, think, worship, and work. Finally, alternative travel brings accountability as we might look for ways to decrease our footprint, volunteer, or support locally.

Now that we know the benefits of alternative travel, let’s dive into some of the best ways to do it!

1. Volunteer

There is no better way to travel the world than by saving the world! There are a number of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that act as the middleman between volunteers and local communities. All you have to do is cover the cost of some of the logistics and food per month!

2. Wellness Retreats

5 Alternative Ways to Travel

Travel teaches us so much about ourselves as we are oftentimes put in the most vulnerable of situations. There’s something so special about coming back from our travels with a peace of mind and reconnecting with ourselves. Think about ashrams, camps, and spas!

3. Teach or Study/Learn Abroad

5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel

The beauty of traveling abroad is exposing yourself to so many different cultures, why not partake in that? In college, I spent a year studying abroad and used it as an opportunity to learn a language and travel the region. There are also options to go abroad to teach English or learn/teach whatever you’re passionate about! Languages not your thing? Why not learn to cook up a Moroccan feast with La Maison Arabe?

4. House-sitting

5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel

The easiest way to get accommodation covered is house-sitting! You can find house-sitting jobs from a weekend to a year in length! It allows you to travel slow, live like a local and save an enormous amount of money. It’s how I was able to getaway to Haapsalu for a weekend in Estonia for free!

5. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel

This has become a growing trend among young people who want to do good for the world by promoting sustainability and I got to partake when I went apple picking in Kent. WWOOF is a global movement that connects people with organic farmers to exchange cultural, social and educational experiences without monetary exchange. Ecotourism allows people to truly live, learn and share organic lifestyles!

So, are you considering an alternative way to travel in 2020? What’s on your itinerary?