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Travel Tips

Carry-On Travel: How To Choose The Right Bag +Rise Gear Giveaway

rise glider1

rise gearAfter over half a decade of full-time travel, I am ready to put my backpack to rest for a while and go on shorter trips instead of globetrotting nonstop. I started a trial for that last summer with a five-week trip around Europe: Berlin, Iceland, Amsterdam, London, Italy and Oktoberfest were on my itinerary, and one thing I realized quickly was that I was in desperate need of a decent carry-on bag. I’ve been traveling with a giant 65 liter backpack for years now, which is great for a notorious overpacker like me but impractical for shorter trips. The duffel bag I chose for my Euro trip last year, which spanned Iceland’s cold glaciers and Italy’s glorious summer temperatures, meaning I had to pack for summer and winter, turned out to be absolutely impractical. That’s when the search for an adequate carry-on bag began.

Luckily the search didn’t last long because soon after I was introduced to Rise Gear, a Canadian luggage company that focuses on efficient packing. More on that in a minute – let’s talk first about the factors you should consider when you’re in the market for a new piece of carry-on luggage, because there are so many different kinds and brands now that choosing one can be overwhelming. Here are the things you should pay attention to:

Price vs quality

You pay what you get for – and that definitely holds true for luggage. I have three (!) suitcases where the handle broke off, and had to throw out several cheapie rolling suitcases where the wheels or the handle broke after only a few times of using it. Now I am more interested in a piece of luggage that lasts for a decade or longer, rather than going for the cheapest one.

Type & Style

Are you looking for a backpack or a trolley suitcase? Are two wheels enough or are you looking for four wheels? Hard case or soft case? Duffel bag or a stylish flight briefcase? There are hundreds of variations. You’ll have to find out what works best for you – I for example dislike always having to pull a trolley and prefer a backpack or a duffel bag that has wheels.

Practicality

There are some stylish pieces of luggage out there these days, but when I observe other travelers in airports, I sometimes wonder how practical their luggage is. More important than optics should be things like: storage capability, durance, the stability and length of the handle, the durability and performance of the wheels. If you are looking to buy a convertible bag, try out how easy it is to convert the bag. Extra features such as internal and external compartments and organizer pockets, an expansion system and integrated locks are also important.rise transformWeight & dimensions

With airline restrictions becoming stricter and stricter when it comes to carry-ons, especially on low budget carriers, you have to make sure that the dimensions of your luggage match these restrictions. If you are like me traveling with lots of electronics, I say: the lighter the better! To check carry-on restrictions (by weight and dimensions) for every airline, I highly recommend this practical luggage size chart.

How to travel with carry-on only, even on long trips

As I said before, I am not very good at restricting myself when it comes to what I bring on a trip, especially a long one. I think I could fill up a carry-on with shoes alone (but I’ve learned to downsize!), and I like having choices. The only reason why I am finally able to travel with carry-on only is the book The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light by Erin McNeaney which I read earlier this year. I highly recommend it to anyone who also struggles to travel with carry-on only – the book is filled with invaluable on how to pack for trips spanning different climate zones and even long-term trips (the author has been traveling with carry-on only for over six years now), it taught me how to deal with airline restrictions such as liquids, and has plenty of tips from long-term travelers on how to pack practically – from families to make-up fanatics to photographers who travel with lots of gear. And not only that – for less than $5, you also get advice on things like travel insurance, bank accounts that are suitable for overseas travel, super useful travel apps and sample packing lists. Erin’s advice on how to find the right carry-on for you has also been indispensable for me.
rise gear

Introducing the Rise Glider

When I was introduced to Rise Gear, I found the RISE Glider carry-on bag in their range, which I thought was perfect for me since it wasn’t only a rolling suitcase but it also came with backpack straps so that I could use it as a backpack. And since my number one recommendation for most places usually is to travel with a backpack instead of rolling suitcases, I thought this combination of backpack and suitcase couldn’t get any better. I could pull the luggage in places like airports, but strap it on my bag in places where it’s inconvenient to have luggage on rolls, such as train or subway stations where I find myself running up and down stairs all the time. Or cobble stones – especially in Europe it’s just hugely inconvenient to drag around a rolling suitcase, so having the option to wear it on my back seemed ideal.
rise gear gliderBut that’s not what makes the Rise Glider special – what makes it stand out of the ever-growing range of practical luggage is its collapsible shelving system. When I tried it, I had to ask myself why nobody else has come up with it. Check out the video below to see how exactly the shelves work:

You basically pack everything in the compartment you assign for it – there are compartments for clothes, but also for shoes and toiletries, laundry and a padded 15″ laptop compartment. And when you arrive, you simply pull out the shelving system and hang it in your hotel room or in the apartment you’re staying. The shelves are detachable, by the way, so you can store your suitcase in a different place, but you could also just leave it hanging underneath the shelves. I really don’t think you could pack in a more efficient way – during a Europe trip like the one I did last year, with lots of moving around and several stops, this packing system is perfect.
rise glider shelf systemYou always find your stuff right away. And also: with lots of cobble-stone streets everywhere in Europe, I love that I can unpack the straps (they can be stowed away in a pocket on the outside of the bag) within seconds and carry the suitcase on my back. I always prefer a backpack over a rolling suitcase and I have found it to be very comfortable when I carry it on my back since the front side of the Glider, to which the straps are attached, is padded. And because the suitcase is carry-on sized, it can’t get too heavy either – so far, I haven’t been missing the extra waist support that comes with a proper backpack.

I have also used the trolley function of the Glider, I am able to easily pull it with its solid metal telescoping extension handle, and find the rolling wheels to be sturdy and robust.
rise gear rollingThe only downsides of the luggage – or let’s say room for improvement: I like having a large outside pocket on my bag for travel documents and a magazine, but because of the backpack straps, there are only two small outside compartments on each side. The suitcase is also pretty heavy, so I am not sure if I’d get into trouble boarding a plane with it, which I have yet to try.

rise gear shelf systemPractical information

The luggage I am using is the Rise Glider rolling carry-on with a blue shelving system and detachable backpack straps. You can buy it via Rise.com, and if you sign up for the Rise newsletter, you’ll get 10 % off!

  • Dimensions: 22″ x 14″ x 9″ inches (56cm – 36cm – 23cm); the hooks of the shelving system fit comfortably around 1.5″diameter bars
  • Weight: 11 lbs (5kg)
  • Materials: Polyester, nylon, metal, and rubberized strength steel hooks
  • Volume: 45l
  • Price: $323.00 (free shipping in the U.S. and Canada)

Note: If you are looking for a smaller bag, check out Rise Gear’s overnight jumper ($99) and Weekender ($139) duffel bags. Both come with the collapsible shelving system that makes Rise Gear so unique.
rise gear

Rise Gear Giveaway

I love the concept of the collapsible shelving system which is I am giving away one Riser, which fits in a carry-on. The system has shelves for clothes, a shoes and toiletries compartment, a laundry compartment, and each shelf holds up to 20lbs.

You can enter the giveaway via the pop-up window in this article!

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Peer-to-Peer Renting: Transforming How you Travel

London houses

As a homeowner, you know quite well all of the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with maintaining your home. There are expenses like heating and cooling, electricity, water, Internet…so on and so on. It makes things like going on vacation a well-planned (if not rare) event each year. Peer-to-peer renting marketplaces are changing all of that.  Renters and homeowners are using places like Airbnb, HomeAway, OneFineStay, Rent Like a Champion and similar others to either rent out their homes temporarily, or find nicer, more affordable places to stay at on vacation.

What is Peer-to-Peer Renting?

Think of it as the same economic principle that created Uber. It all centers on collaborative consumption, or a ‘sharing economy.’ A homeowner rents out their home for several days, weeks or months; and a renter is able to stay in these accommodations that beat any standard hotel room or rental agency property. In general, it’s a way for people to make supplemental income or save money while they travel.

Putting things in perspective, the average hotel room costs $137 per night. In comparison, a house on Airbnb costs an average of $80 per night.prospect lefferts gardens historic houses

Benefits for Homeowners

Again, everything these days cost a pretty penny. It’s hard to save up and go to the beach, the mountains or visit another country. For that reason, peer-to-peer renting is transforming the rental market. It benefits both the homeowner and the renter. Using Airbnb, the average homeowner makes $7,350 per year just from temporarily renting out their homes. Other places, like Rent Like a Champion (which caters to sport fans), hosts make an average of $1,100 per weekend.

Of course, location plays an important factor in demand. Popular U.S. cities like New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington D.C, Charleston, New Orleans and Honolulu are easier than others to rent out or find available properties.garden district mansionPeer-to-peer renting could be exactly what you need to get away. And where safety is concerned, remote home monitoring provides a solution to knowing the status of your home at all times. Receive custom alerts and notifications, based on your preferred settings. Be able to remotely control things like the thermostat (after all, no one likes large energy bills). Now you can explore all the places you’ve been missing out on—without worrying what’s happening back at home.las vegas new mexico victorian house

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Explore America’s Beauty with an off the Beaten Track Adventure

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America is one of the most stunning, diverse and breathtaking continents in the entire world. Great lakes, canyons, desert, swamps, mountain ranges and electric cities are just a handful of what there is to explore. This makes it the ultimate adventure destination. Often, when people visit the States they will fly in to the major cities, which can be fantastic, but often the most amazing experiences are found off the beaten track and in the lesser explored areas of this great country.

The Ultimate Road Trip

It is the dream of many people to do the ultimate American road trip from coast to coast, but sadly not many people get to experience this. A group of friends, the open road, great music and a breathtaking and varied backdrop is the perfect setting for an unforgettable and eye opening adventure. This is not your typical holiday and a break from the norm, and it is always the off the beaten track expeditions which are the most exciting and create the most stories.

Monument Valley street

Must See Places

There are many highlights to see in America, with a few being absolute musts for those wanting to break the norm. Southern gems such as Nashville, Mississippi and New Orleans provide breathtaking scenery along with a distinctive atmosphere, whilst The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also a must and be sure to take your camera.

St Louis CathedralThe Grand Canyon in California will be the top of many people’s lists and for good reason, but be sure to head into Las Vegas for some fun and games. Yosemite National Park cannot be missed, and a drive through the desert will have you reminiscing about all the great Western films. Driving along the Pacific Coast will give you amazing views and an eclectic mix of brilliant cities and perfect beaches which many visitors miss. Deadwood in South Dakota is a charming town where you get easy access to amazing places such as the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park.Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas

Small Group Adventure Tours

All of this only scratches the surface of what you will find on an American road trip off the beaten path. To ensure you do not miss a thing, it may be in your best interest to use holiday companies like TrekAmerica to plan your trip. These companies organise brilliant small group adventure tours that uncover the best hidden gems in all of America. Additionally, many of these companies can also arrange fantastic activities such as horse riding, white water rafting, mountain biking and more.Monument Valley horseback ridingAmerica is a land of awe-inspiring natural beauty. This landscape is also incredibly diverse, making it an incredible place to explore both in the major cities and everywhere in between. An adventure off the beaten path in America is sure to be an astonishing, fun and life changing experience and a trip out of the ordinary.

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Explore the World’s Hidden Treasures on an Unforgettable Cruise

Sunset koh lanta thailand

There is nothing greater than expanding your horizons and seeing more of our beautiful planet. It can be an eye opening experience and also one which gives you a much greater appreciation for the globe, but unfortunately not many people get to see anywhere near enough of it.

An Adventurous Holiday

When deciding on vacations, it is common for people to select predictable destinations and places they have visited before. Whilst this will still be a great trip, it is also not particularly adventurous and there are many incredible yet often overlooked destinations. One terrific way of seeing areas of the world that not many people get to see is to go on a cruise. With cruises, the journey becomes the holiday and you will be treated to often unseen natural beauty out at sea and along the coastlines.

adventure of the seas cruise ship

What You May See

A cruise enables you to see many amazing things, regardless of the destination. You will gain a better understanding of the size of the globe as you will be travelling by sea and not by air, and this will allow you to see and visit many secluded ports in some of the most wonderful countries on the planet. Whilst out at sea, there is a very good chance that you will see some majestic and colourful wildlife which you would not get with any other type of holiday.

The World’s Hidden Treasures Uncovered

On top of all this, some cruises will allow you to explore and get up close to some of the greatest sights in the entire world. The Norwegian Fjords cruise from specialists such as Bolsover Cruise Club, for example, takes you on an unforgettable trip where you get unparalleled views of the breathtaking Fjords. Thanks to these cruises, anyone can explore and discover some of the more unusual and magical places on the entire planet.

cinque terre.JPGThere are many other brilliant destinations that you could visit and cruises that go around the globe. You could see the Polar Regions, Angel Falls (the world’s highest waterfall), Hawaii, the diverse landscapes of the Middle East, the Black Sea, the Caribbean Islands and many other incredible sights. Not only this, but cruises are also brilliant fun and there are many benefits of going on one.

An Eye Opening Experience

Whilst there is a lot to be said for going on a safe and simple holiday, it is also not particularly adventurous. There are all kinds of breathtakingly beautiful places and things to discover out in the world; seeing these could give you a greater appreciation for the planet and be a real eye opening experience. The best way to explore the world and uncover these gems is through a cruise, as this will take you on a fun and unforgettable journey across the oceans to your destination.

corsica & cruise ships

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How to travel smart: Top 10 travel hacks

Plane

‘’If travelling was free, you would never see me again’’ – Isn’t this true for most of us?

Travelling, which a few decades back meant recreation, is now a lifestyle and career for some! People jump at the idea of travelling, and are more than happy to travel to far-fetched places for the heck of an experience. However, there are few things that can hold even the seasoned travellers back, it could be something as mundane as long queues, to something as serious as being lost in an unknown country without a phone!

Frankly, all these hiccups are relatable. But, do we let them overpower us? Hell no! Instead, we will find our ways to combat them and travel every inch of this magnificent place called ‘Earth’ in the smartest possible way!

Enclosed are 10 smart travel hacks recommended by HolidayMe (EN|AR), which will ensure that you have a happy vacation minus the hitch!

Tip # 1 Dress up smart

You will get to read a lot of tips that will ask you to travel light – reduce the number of clothes, shoes and what not. But, hey we don’t want to get around in the country looking like a hobo, right? So, what we do? We dress up smartly. For instances – get infinity scarves that not only looking stylish but also double up as a blanket when it’s cold. You could also fold it over your face to block out the light for a nap. Use an all-in-one makeup product instead of the blush, brightener, and lipstick. Ditch the jeans, and opt for Leggings for they are a safe and extremely comfortable for traveling. Wear them under dresses and skirts, or for a workout (if that’s your thing). Remember to wear something with deep pockets on the plane—it’ll prevent you from having to dig through your bag for your phone, wallet, and boarding pass every five minutes.

Try and pack one colour scheme, and make sure it’s a dark one, which means all of your clothes will match and you don’t need to waste time worrying about putting together outfits.

Tip # 2: Cheap flight deals.

Airfares jolt majority of travel plans. The airfares, most of the times, are so high, that we end up reconsidering our travel plans. Here is the tip – if you are looking for cheaper fares, book your flight tickets on a Tuesday afternoon or on a Thursday, because that is when the air fares drop a little. Also, remember to turn your browser’s “incognito mode” ON to ensure that these websites do not track your activity and change their prices accordingly, whenever you are browsing an airline or a travel website for flight details.

lufthansa A380 plane LAX

Tip # 3: Say bye-bye to stink.

Clothes endure a lot during long flights. If you are looking to keep your clothes smelling fresh, place a dryer sheet in your suitcase. This will also help reduce static. Run out of dryer sheet? Throw the hotel bar soap into your dirty laundry bag.

Tip # 4: No more broken pins or misplaced charger.

Dealing with broken charger pins, entangled wires, or simply a charger that goes missing amidst heap of clothes, are situations that are simply nightmarish. You could relate to it even more if you are hooked to your phone 24X7. The solution? Carry your charger and headphones in a glass case that will keep them safe and handy.

Tip # 5: Keep important documents in check.

It happens more often than not, that we tend to lose our baggage or wallet, while vacationing. To be caught without important documents in a foreign land is a nightmarish situation. Scan all the important documents, passport, tickets, and more, and have them emailed to you. So, even if you lose your originals and their copies, you would still have them in your inbox.

ProTip: No time to scan? Click their photo through your mobile and upload them on cloud or email them.

passport

Tip # 6: Laundry? Who needs that!

Okay, now this one is a little twisted but when you really think of its utility, you would possibly want to smother its inventor with ‘thank-you’ kisses. If you are travelling light and need to wash your clothes for free; enter the shower with your clothes ‘still on’, use the hotel soap or shampoo to first clean/wash your clothes and then yourself.

ProTip: To dry your clothes A.S.A.P, roll them tight in a towel. The towel would suck up the extra-moisture and allow it to dry faster. Alternatively, you could invest in some quick drying fabric like ones offered by Ex-officio or Marmot.

Tip # 7 Surf Google Maps – Offline.

I had a friend who just went on a solo backpacking trip, telling me that she had a tough time figuring out the directions, for the internet on her phone wouldn’t work! The physical maps were too tricky to follow and not knowing foreign languages, added to her woes. If you are stranded like her – Google maps will come to your rescue, yes, they work even offline! As soon as you get access to Wi-Fi, select the address you would want to get to. Next, type “OK Maps” and the visible area will be saved for future access. You can also zoom in on a part of a map that you want to save for offline browsing.

indian visa - chiang mai map to indian embassy

Tip # 8 In Rome do as Romans do

One of the best ways to save money and enjoy the vacation to the hilt, is to simply follow the rule that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. This in context of a vacation, loosely translate to, ‘get out of your comfort zone, and don’t be a stubborn traveler’. Ensure your safety by dressing up modestly, if the country’s culture demands so. Eat locally – trying the local cuisine will save you more money and makes you experience new, delicious, flavorful meals.

Tip 9 # See extra cities for free

Who doesn’t like freebies? We all do, especially if it’s a bonus city – courtesy ‘layover’.

Some airlines offer free stopovers, generally in their hub city, which means you can visit an extra destination or two minus any extra cost.

mexico city airport

Tip # 10: Where’s my luggage?

In order to save yourself some time and energy when collecting your luggage from the baggage claim conveyor belt, make your luggage identifiable by sticking funky stickers or ribbons on it. Waiting is not your thing? Put “fragile” stickers on your suitcases and they should be among the first ones to arrive on the conveyor belt. Not only that, the staff will be extra careful while handling them.

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Seven restaurants you can’t miss in Dubai

maltese food

Dubai is one of those idyllic destinations where a traveller can enjoy sunny weather all-year-around, even when the summer heat may prove a little too much for some (there are still many ways to enjoy yourself indoors with air-conditioning on full blast). Everyone knows there’s no shortage of things to do in trendy and sleek Dubai, there’s a plethora of attractions beckoning your call. Endless skyscrapers, huge shopping malls, a buzzing nightlife, fantastic beaches, stunning resorts, desert safaris and many more unique draws makes Dubai a top destination for virtually every type of holidaymaker.

But Dubai is not only known for its skyscrapers, ultra-luxurious hotels and ambitious malls, but also for its extravagant culinary options and gastronomic experiences. Dubai Holidays is a site with a great collection of restaurants for you to plan your trip as it would be incomplete if you don’t take the opportunity to experience at least one of the top culinary options offered across a variety of quality restaurants. And you don’t have to break the bank either, there’s a tasty meal for every pocket, and even some gourmet delicacies to be found at moderate prices. You can also find freshly-prepared meals expressly hand-crafted to satisfy a variety of dietary conditions – from gluten-free to lactose-free, vegetarian and even vegan, there’ll be a restaurant in Dubai (often more than one) to cater for it all. Be it continental, Emirati, Thai, Mediterranean or Indian, you will find a sea of delicacies to taste.

Let us now go over our pick of hotel restaurants where you can experience some of the best gastronomic experiences in Dubai:

Omnia Gourmet: Designed by Silvena, this celebrated Emirati theme restaurant is the best option for health-conscious diners. Foodies arriving here are welcomed with lush green, mismatched ceramic tiles giving a perfect ambience that echoes the restaurant’s green credentials. The 24 carat gold chocolate sphere is a must- dessert to finish off a healthy meal and the cafe is ideal for those looking for vegan, organic, glute-free or raw cuisine.

Bateaux Dubai: If you want to experience dining by the waterways of Dubai Creek, then this restaurant is the best option to go for. There you can enjoy some finely prepared gourmet dishes and premium beverages with top-notch personalised service.

Zuma: Considered one of the finest restaurants in the world, this Japanese restaurant has a variety of menus on offer. It’s most famously known for its Japanese Izakaya specialties, perfectly complementing the Japanese theme prevailing all-around. If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience with a Japanese twist, then this is the one not to miss.

zuma restaurant
Zuma by Côte d’Azur on flickr.com

Mint Leaf of London: This restaurant is the perfect combination of sweet aromas and an electric atmosphere. Located on the 15th floor of South Tower in the Emirates Financial Towers, this is the place to enjoy a contemporary take on Indian food, not to mention the breath-taking views over the city that can be admired through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Armani Hotel- Amal: If you’re looking forward to enjoying typical Indian fare then Amal is the right option to go for. Located in the magnificent Burj Khalifa, and part of the exclusive Armani hotel, this elegant restaurant serves some authentic Indian food along with signature luxury.

Entrance to the Armani Hotel at the Burj Khalifa
Entrance to the Armani Hotel at the Burj Khalifa by David Jones on Flickr.com

Pier Chic: Located at Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, this refreshing restaurant offers high-end Mediterranean seafood for real foodies looking for a fresh taste from the ocean. This romantic eatery is open for lunch and dinner with a menu featuring the finest selection of oysters, scallops, sashimi and lobster. The restaurant also has bar and lounge for those looking to enjoy a nice pre-dinner or apres-dinner cocktail.

Sarband by Nillo’s: This is the best Iranian restaurant in Dubai, and you’ll find it in Century Village. It’s famous for the high standards of its cuisine and its relaxed al fresco setting. It is also known for a reputed Iranian Head Chef who serves classic Persian fare like Khoresh-e-fesenjan. Many expats and tourists in Dubai are frequent diners and come here for simply the best Iranian food anywhere around.

abshar sangak with cheese, walnuts, greens
abshar sangak with cheese, walnuts, greens by Krista on Flickr.com

As you can see after checking out this list, Dubai’s gourmet gastronomy spans a wide variety of worldwide cuisines. Whether you’re visiting during the Dubai Shopping festival, to enjoy the awesome theme parks and eye-opening attractions, or to simply unwind on the beach, you should certainly not miss the most highly recommended restaurants.

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s creative commons licensing. (1) Zuma restaurant by Côte d’Azur; (2) Entrance to the Armani Hotel by David Jones; (3)Abshar Sangak with cheese, walnuts and greens by Krista

 

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How to Mix Relaxation and Adventure in Your Cuba Holiday

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Cuba is an incredibly appealing holiday destination, whether you’re after an action-packed vacation or simply seek a relaxing week or two away. As the largest island in the Caribbean you can create a holiday that has everything, from spending a few days exploring the jungles to chilling out on one of its many beaches.

You can create your own personalised vacation to the Caribbean nation or book an all-inclusive one with Cuba Holidays. Either option can help you have a holiday in such a glorious location that is the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation.

Life On Cuba

Beaches

There’s nothing more relaxing on a holiday than lying on the beach, taking in the sun’s rays with an ice cool drink nearby. As a large island, Cuba has many beaches in every corner. Varadero beach on the north side is a popular tourist destination, great for families with many quality hotels and restaurants nearby. Playa Pilar and Sirena beach on Cayo Largo to the south are also scenic beaches, surrounded by blue waters and golden sands.
Postcard from Cuba
Music and Bars

For the fully immersive Cuban experience you will definitely spend a lot of time relaxing in numerous bars and restaurants dotted across the island. From the hustle and bustle of the capital Havana, that could involve the odd dance in the street, to sipping on Cuba libres, music and food play a big part in the country’s culture. Expect to eat plenty of fish and rice based dishes in your downtime, with rum a key ingredient for a lot of meals and drinks.

Mojito

Water sports

Now for the more active side of things. Trinidad de Cuba is the place to go if you love, or just want to try out, some water sports. The sandy beaches are ideal for anyone not wanting to get involved, while clear blue waters are a dream for water-skiing, swimming, diving and just generally having fun in the sea. It’s also a highly picturesque little place, steeped in tradition.

cuba

Trekking

Get up and out into the hills with one of the many great trails around the country. From dramatic landscapes, mountain treks and strolls by the beach, a wide variety can be found, whether you’re after a short jaunt or long hike. The heat can be pretty intense at the heights of summer, so be sure to pack plenty of water and trek to a place that takes in either a lake or the seas to cool off in.

Cuba Cars

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons license. Title picture: Faces Of Cuba by Bud Ellison; (1) Life in Cuba by Angelo Domini; Postcard from Cuba by Nick Kenrick; Mojito by Jean-Philippe Rebuffet, Cuba by Domenic Scarturchio; Cuba Cars by Angelo Domini

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How to Handle Long Layovers

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Most people tend to avoid booking flights with long layovers, as this is valuable time that could be spent on your vacation. Non-stop flights tend to be much more expensive, though, and for long-distance journeys they may not even be an option.lufthansa A380 plane LAXNot only could you save money this way, but you could also spend the time exploring a city that you’ve never visited before or grabbing some bargains from the duty-free shopping malls. Here’s how to make the most of your time during a long layover.

Heading into the City

If you have enough time, you should consider heading into the city. Even if you’ve never considered visiting it beforehand, you might be surprised what you find and it may even turn out to be a place that you want to arrange a longer trip to in the future. Depending on where you’re staying, you may need six or more hours to comfortably explore the city while giving yourself enough time to catch your connecting flight.manhattan from top of the rockThe Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is one of the most popular layover destinations in Europe, located just five miles from the main city itself. This handy guide from CitizenM locates all the nearby attractions. However, if you decide to do this, you should prepare for it beforehand. Not only do different countries all have different visa restrictions, but depending on your flight itinerary you may also need to give yourself an extra hour to grab your second boarding pass.

Duty-Free Shopping

If you don’t have the time to leave the airport, you may want to consider which duty-free shopping stores are available. This can be a great way to save money on certain items. Make sure to research your own country’s duty-free exemption laws before you decide to stock up, though, as these can vary wildly.lucca wine bottlesFor instance, in the UK, travellers are allowed to bring an unlimited amount of most goods with them as long as they were bought in another EU country, whereas you’ll be limited to £390 in other overseas locations. Similarly, in the U.S.A., you are permitted to bring $800 worth of merchandise back. In both countries, however, numerous exceptions still apply, especially when it comes to goods like alcohol and cigarettes.

Checking into a Hotel

Finally, if you’ve just been on a long and particularly uncomfortable flight, it’s not surprising that you may not be feeling up for either of these options. If this is the case, consider checking into a nearby hotel and taking a short nap before your next flight. You’ll find that most major airports have several options nearby, as people catching early flights often prefer to stay the following night to ensure that they don’t miss their trip.LKF hotel Hong Kong bedYou can use the Maps app included on your smartphone to check what hotels are close by and sites like lastminute.com to see if there are any cheap rooms available at the time. Occasionally, airports also include pay-per-access lounges where you can sleep, but these may be more expensive than your other options.

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5 ways to save money as you travel

finding your quest

Travelling needn’t be expensive. Whether you’re exploring the UK, or heading overseas there are always deals to be had and bargains to be enjoyed. With the explosion in price comparison websites and other useful online sites you’ll soon find that your dreams of adventure and travel don’t need to cost a fortune.

  1. Buy your tickets in advance

If you are researching affordable tickets for your chosen destination, off-season deals, advance fares or even last minute purchases are very often the cheapest way to travel. This might present a problem if it’s the middle of the month and your bank account is already showing signs of lurching into the red. Don’t panic as help is at hand. If you own a car and take out a logbook loan you can repay the debt in easy instalments and still have the cash to take advantage of the best travel deals on offer.dani silvercar

  1. Museum discounts

Visiting museums overseas is a lot less expensive than you may think, even well known ones. Admission to The Louvre in Paris or the Prado in Madrid is only 15 Euros and 14 Euros respectively, and prices are discounted further for certain groups and times of the day. Alternatively, see if you can buy a pass that will give you access to multiple museums at a reduced price. Paris runs a ‘museums at night’ scheme, the money you’ll have saved on your tickets means that you can treat yourself to a drink when you leave the museum around 10.00 pm.paris louvre

  1. Check your health insurance

The last thing that you’ll want to spend money on is an expensive trip to the doctor’s surgery when travelling. Accidents do happen in the most unlikely of places, so check that your travel insurance is up to date and also includes any extreme activities should you be a fan of paragliding, bungee jumping or any other adventurous sports. If travelling in Europe make sure that your EHIC is up to date.dani negev desert hike

  1. Hotels and hostels

A glossy write up is one thing; a flea-ridden pit is another. As you are travelling always read hotel reviews on Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet to ensure that your chosen hotel or hostel is clean and safe. If you fancy an adventure in a 5 Star hotel, the Money Saving Expert website suggests that you visit Last Minute.com for the very best deals for classy establishments around the world. For the best hostels, have a look at online forums, or even join the Youth Hostelling Association. This international organisation offers affordable accommodation and isn’t restricted to the young.loft hostel reykjavik room

  1. Guided tours can be expensive

Unless you’re travelling in a part of the world where a guide is essential to your understanding of your environment try to steer clear of a guided tour. You can always read up on your destination in advance and make your own discoveries. You’ll also find cheaper souvenirs with a bit of bartering rather than using the shops suggested by a guide. The shops pay the guides a commission to steer customers their way!Huehuetenango artisans

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Packing made easy with the TUO, the ultimate Travel Undergarment Organizer

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am obsessed with packing cubes. I have four packing cubes packing cubesin different sizes which I use to separate my clothes – and since I’ve been using them, packing has become so much easier. Not only packing: finding stuff is what the packing cubes are really facilitating, and having them saves me so much time. No more rummaging around in my luggage in search of my running clothes – I know exactly which cube they’re in. T-shirts, pants, dresses – everything is rolled up neatly and stored in their respective cubes.

But there is always one that’s disorganized: my underwear cube. In this one, I just throw everything together: my socks, my panties, my bras. I admit, it’s a mess.
underwear packing cube messSo when I saw this video of the ultimate travel undergarment organizer (short: TUO) by Origami Unicorn, I was sure that they must have gotten wind of my underwear mess. See for yourself:

TUO, The Ultimate travel undergarment organizer by Origami Unicorn. Short packing presentation. Signature White. from ORIGAMI UNICORN on Vimeo.

This was exactly what I needed! When the TUO arrived in the mail a few days later, I was impressed with the sleek design of the product. It comes in a sturdy plastic sleeve (which I totally reused for something else), and is made of water resistant nylon fabric. The organizer comes in four different colors: black, white, hibiscus black and hibiscus white – I opted for black, figuring it doesn’t get dirty as fast as a white one would.

origami underwear organizerWhen you open the snap buttons and unfold it, you see that the TUO has three different compartments. All three are see-through and close with a zipper, and the top two compartments have three separate elastic pockets each inside.origami underwear organizer

For me it made sense to put my bras in the bottom compartment since they wouldn’t fit in the little pockets, and use the other two compartments for socks and panties/thongs. I love the little pockets – that way I could not only separate my socks from my thongs for example, but also divide my workout socks from my regular socks (which I stuffed into the pockets) and my thongs from my panties. The see-threw compartments make it easy to see where you put everything, but once you have a system in place like I do now, you will know in which compartment you stored which items.

origami underwear organizer

Once you’ve filled the organizer, you simply fold the thirds together, close it with the snap buttons and it is ready to go into your suitcase or backpack. I love the efficient and compact design, and how light it is. Of course you are not limited to using it for underwear – I find the little pockets useful for all sorts of stuff – jewelry for example, a belt, or other accessories.

The practical function of the TUO doesn’t stop at the easy packing and optimizing luggage space, however: it also serves as a hanging organizer, replacing your underwear dresser.origami underwear organizer

When I am staying longer in a place and unpack my backpack, I usually just dump my underwear and socks into one dresser compartment, similar to the mess in my packing cube – but with the TUO, I can hang it, keeping things neat and tidy and easily accessible while I am at my destination. It came in super handy in my room in a shared apartment in Mexico City where there wasn’t much storage space for anything, and I will also be using it in Arizona, where I’ll be staying for a few weeks, making it worthwhile to unpack my backpack.

The TUO has one more well thought out feature: it comes with a small bag for dirty laundry. Since I have a big laundry bag though (which I love!), I decided to use it in a different way, and put my bikinis inside of it. They used to be together with my underwear in my packing cube, but I’ve found it much more practical to keep them in this separate little bag – No more searching through my cube for the top and the bottom.

origami underwear organizerOf course you could also use it for something different (I have so many little items in my backpack that could go in there), or use it as a dirty laundry bag just for your underwear. I can imagine that some of my fellow nomads who travel with carry-on luggage only hand wash their underwear occasionally, and then it would make sense to keep them separate from other dirty clothes.

The organizer is designed for 7 days of undergarments, but I was able to fit more inside – this might be because women’s underwear and socks are smaller than men’s, and I prefer thongs to panties.origami underwear organizer

Where to get the TUO

If you love the concept of this organizer as much as I do, you can order your own for US$49.90 here. (Tip: Sign up for the Origami Unicorn newsletter to get 10% off!). For more details, visit www.origamiunicorn.us

Origami Unicorn TUOGiveaway: Win your own TUOorigami underwear organizer dani

Because I love this travel undergarment organizer so much, I am excited to give away one TUO to one lucky reader! All you have to do is enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter box below: leave a comment and tell me which color you’d like the TUO in if you win the giveaway! (You can see all available models here)

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will close on 30 April 2016.
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