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Everything you need to know about driving in Denmark

copenhagen houses

As it turns out, driving in Denmark is no hassle. And renting a car in Denmark is easy. As an American, your driver’s license is valid and there is no need for extra validation or extensive tests – you’re perfectly okay to drive! This idyllic, Nordic country has an amazing infrastructure, perfect for driving. Visit Denmark, the home of quality pastries, scenic countrysides and fairytale castles.

Denmark is a flat country; meaning that driving in Denmark is probably one of the easiest experiences you could have. The small country is the home of 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has a lot more than beer and viking history to offer. 

I visited Copenhagen once, but I barely got to see everything. While I enjoyed the vibrancy and life of the city, there is so much more to Denmark than that. In this post, I will break down some of the top sights in Denmark that you can see in 5 days or less.

renting a car in Denmark

The Scenic sights of Denmark

Driving to and from different cities in Denmark means taking the highway though there are loads of alternative routes you can take that will give you the opportunity to stop for a little bit of sightseeing or a quick coffee break. There are loads of small harbors, fishing villages, castles or organic farms that you can drive to and spend a few hours. These are some of the top sights in Denmark, specific to their areas so it’s an easier drive.

Fairytale Funen

If you want to truly take in some breathtaking scenery, Funen was the home of beloved Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen and when you visit Funen, it will become very obvious why this island was the source of his inspiration. The fact is that Funen actually holds more than a hundred castles and manor estates that all are preserved perfectly! Most of them are even open to the public for a small fee and if you want more of that dreamy life, there are even castles where you can stay the night or have a meal in true fairytale style! If you’re interested in making this drive, a full trip around Funen could take you about 3-4 days and the full drive would be around 150 miles. This particular island is the best example of driving in Denmark; scenic, effortless and serene.

Natural North Jutland

If you’re looking for a more adventurous sight, perhaps with room to explore more, North Jutland has the most gorgeous natural phenomena and along the west coast, you’ll find the most gorgeous beaches of Scandinavia. From the magical Troll forest to the desert-like sand dunes of Rubjerg Knude and Raabjerg Mile, the north of Jutland is for the kind of people who enjoy trekking, nature and calm surroundings. For the best experience of North Jutland, consider spending 4-5 days, starting your trip in Aalborg and exploring the entire area, going from West to East, the highlight being Skagen, the Northern tip of Denmark, where the two seas meet.dunes

East Zealand

Driving in Copenhagen can be a bit tiresome with all its narrow roads and strict rules, so if you need a break from the capital, you could take 2-3 days to make the drive around East Zealand. For the most relaxing trip, start by visiting Dragør and its gorgeous harbor – get some fried, battered fish or have an ice cream while walking around this charming town. From Dragør, it’s a 40-minute drive to Roskilde, home of Roskilde Cathedral – one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites – and the last resting place of nearly 40 Danish kings and queens. From Roskilde, you’re only one hour away from Stevns Klint, another UNESCO site, and if you continue from Stevns, you can drive all the way down to Moens Klint and have a frisky walk along the coast.

The concept of “hygge”

You may have heard the term hygge – you might even know the meaning! The concept is rather intriguing, because it’s not just a feeling, it’s also a verb – as in something you do. Experiencing this atmosphere is essential when visiting Denmark. You don’t even have to be traveling with anyone to enjoy the concept. You can “hygge” with strangers in Absalon in Copenhagen: an old, converted church that now is a “people’s house” that offers social dining, bingo, drawing and pottery classes and so much more! There are even themed quiz nights and dancing lessons on offer, the most important thing being that the prices are incredibly low as everyone should have the opportunity to join.

Another way of experiencing “hygge” could be to visit one of the thousands of coffee shops around Denmark – especially the kind with books, art or mouthwatering cakes! Here are some places to visit in Denmark to satisfy your “hygge” needs.

Danes love their coffee

Like I mentioned in my 7 Fun Facts about Copenhagen post, Danes are the 7th highest coffee consumers in the world. This means you’ll find so many wonderful coffee shops and artisanal bakeries where you can get a quality cup of joe. Here are some suggestions for different cities:

Andersen & Maillard in Copenhagen

This award-winning bakery has that cool and casual vibe that Copenhageners are known for. There’s no formal seating – you order at the till and pick up your coffee and perhaps one of their fluffy croissants as well, and then you can sit in the window and enjoy the view of Nørrebrogade and its many occupants. Andersen & Maillard offer a large selection of pastries and Danish breakfast items at very reasonable prices. If you’re driving, make sure to consider your parking options as the café is located on a heavily trafficked street.

Café Unika in Odense

This café has a sweet origin story and makes a good spot for that perfect Instagram shot. The café was founded in 2019 by three sisters who traveled the world and found inspiration in Mexico, which they have then fused with Nordic culture in their café. Enjoy an Acai bowl or a breakfast plate with freshly squeezed juice or a nice cup of joe and snap some photos of their colorful decor!

Jumbo Bakery & Eatery in Aarhus

For a more rustic experience and a nice view, Jumbo Bakery & Eatery in Aarhus offers anything you can think of made with sourdough and well-roasted coffee to go with it. You can sit outside and watch as the trains go by at one of their locations or grab a coffee to go and explore the many quirky streets of Aarhus.

Driving in Denmark: Practical information

If you’re interested in driving in Denmark, here are a few tips you can take with you. Don’t be afraid to ask Danes for help either – Danes are very sufficient in English and helpful, should you need it. You won’t regret renting a car in Denmark – on the contrary. You will greatly appreciate the flexibility it’ll give you, and it will enable you to visit some of Denmark’s most scenic places.

renting a car in Denmark

Renting a car in Denmark

There are loads of options for renting a car in Denmark. I recommend renting a car with Danish Car Rental as they offer a wide range of car brands and models, as well as easy pick-up and drop-off in five major cities. That means it will be way easier for you to not waste any miles or time on having to return the rental car back somewhere. Depending on which city you start your trip in, getting the most of your rental car is fairly easy.

If you for instance start your trip in Copenhagen, you can stick to Zealand and drive around the entire island without having to worry much about the miles. In Zealand, you’ll find attractions such as the art museum Lousiana in Humlebaek, Kronborg Castle, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in Helsingoere or the rare example of an expressionist church: Grundtvig’s Church in Bispebjerg.

Another option, if you’re flying into Billund Airport, is to pick up your car in Billund and drive around the peaceful countryside of Jutland and visit the larger cities such as Aarhus, Aalborg and Vejle. Don’t forget to visit Legoland if you’re in Billund – it’s perfect for a full day of fun activities!

Accommodation in Denmark

When visiting Denmark, finding a place to stay is not difficult. Larger cities like Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense have large hotels chains like WakeUp, Radisson and Best Western, otherwise, there’s a large variety of inns, hostels and Airbnbs to choose from. I strongly recommend finding your accommodation in good time as prices can range between 35$ and 300$, depending on the quality of the place. If you’re more than three people, Airbnb might be the cheapest and best option. If you’re renting a car in Denmark, remember to consider your parking options at the place you choose to stay.renting a car in Denmark

Actually driving in Denmark

A very important thing to note, especially when driving in Denmark, is to be careful and aware of how cyclists move around. Copenhagen actually recently voted the best bike-friendly city in the world and it can really be felt when moving around the city: cycling bridges and car-free Sundays in specific areas makes it very important for you to know that driving in this particular city is something you’ll need to do cautiously. Remember to be aware of the many walking streets in the inner city – once you’ve driven through the narrow cobblestone streets, it can be quite the hassle to get out again!driving in Denmark

Weather forecast

Don’t be fooled by the changing weather in Denmark. Always be prepared for rain! Denmark is rather grey with mild summers and cold winters, though don’t let it scare you away from visiting this Scandinavian gem. Just remember an umbrella or a raincoat and you’ll be just fine. It’s also important to note that most restaurants and cafés are prepared for the weather as many of them offer outside dining with marquises and heating lamps, so don’t fret if you’re planning to enjoy a lunch al-fresco!

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One year of travel: Our expenses

Dani & Jess at Cerro de la Cruz in Antigua

We have on been on the road for one year, and want to share our expenses as a follow up to our first 6 months of travel, which we posted here. Read on for our detailed round the world trip budget, the total sum of every single penny we spent between 30 April 2010 and 30 April 2011. We decided to provide our spending summary for two reasons. Firstly, we would like to compare with other long-term travelers and see if we are in the same range of spending. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we would like to show our readers who don’t travel long-term just how affordable and realistic this experience really is.

Note: Expenses are stated in both USD and GBP since we both earn money in GBP, but did most of our spending comparing various currencies to US Dollars.

round the world trip budget

Our total round-the-world-trip budget – How much did we spend?

Per Couple $28,483.55 £18,181.51
     
Per Person $14,241.77 £9,090.75

Average expenses: Per Month

Per Couple
$2,373.63
£1,515.13
     
Per Person $1,186.81
£757.56

Our expenses include all every flight we took, our pricey Corn Islands vacation, every hostel / hotel / motel / apartment that we slept in, every bus / boat / tuktuk / taxi / train we took, every car we rented, every meal we ate, every beer we drank, various medications, every donation we gave, plus everything else we spent our money on.

Latin America vs Europe and North America

We spent two thirds of the time (8 months) in Mexico and Central America, and one third (4 months, 2.5 / 1.5) in the US and Europe, but over half of our expenses come from our time in Europe/US: $13,232.24 / £8494.41!  Had we traveled only in Latin America, we would have probably spent a lot less.

We have to admit that this round the world trip budget was a bit higher than we expected, but we never really tried to keep our expenses down. Unlike other travelers, we are technically digital nomads and earn money as we go, so we never have to worry (knock on wood) about scraping the bottom of the money barrel. We rented cars in the U.S. and Europe (not cheap!) we ate out a lot, we didn’t always stay in the cheapest hostels, and we recently booked a rather expensive flight to Europe.

Jess backpacking through the jungle

Housesits save money
Thanks to the various housesits during this past year, we saved more than 10 weeks accommodation. This free lodging helped us cut down this part of our budget!

Average Daily Travel Expense: Per Country

This is our average daily spend breakdown per country – both for us as a couple and what that averages out to per person.

U.S.A. Per Couple $90.00 £60.00
  Per Person $45.00 £30.00
       
Mexico Per Couple $41.16 £26.91
  Per Person $20.58 £13.45
       
Belize Per Couple $108.00 £68.20
  Per Person $54.00 £34.10
       
Guatemala Per Couple $46.24 £29.25
  Per Person $23.12 £14.62
       
El Salvador Per Couple $48.10 £29.58
  Per Person $24.05 £14.79
       
Honduras Per Couple $57.36 £36.87
  Per Person $28.68 £18.43
       
Nicaragua Per Couple $63.63 £40.35
  Per Person $31.81 £20.17
       
Costa Rica Per Couple $53.24 £32.97
  Per Person $26.62 £16.49
       
Panama Per Couple $71.42 £43.92
  Per Person $35.71 £21.96
       
Germany Per Couple $52.82 £33.45
  Per Person $27.41 £16.73
       
Italy Per Couple $113.62 £68.83
  Per Person $56.81 £34.42

A few notes on these daily averages:

1. Belize was so high because the amazing tours available- snorkeling and caving – are quite costly, but very worth it. Food and hotels can be very cheap if you do your research.
2. Nicaragua was only so expensive because of our trip to the Corn Islands. Without that, our time there would have been dirt cheap.
3. Honduras would have been cheaper, but we were there over Christmas and New Years, so we had lots of justifications for splurging.
4. Costa Rica is really not as expensive as everyone thinks!
5. Renting a car in Italy makes it expensive – the car ($35 a day at the cheapest rate), the gas (avg. of $9 per gallon!) and the tolls on the Autostrada (roughly $6.50 for a 45 minute drive, $35 for a three hour drive from Milan to Lucca).

30 April marked our 1 year travel anniversary, and we took a look at our expenses so far – how much we have spent, where the money went, and what our average per day spend has been in each country.

Have you traveled long-term? How did our round-the-world trip budget compare to yours? Have you ever considered traveling long-term but thought you don’t have the budget? Did our budget help push you in the direction of long-term travel? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Your Guide to Traveling Europe on a Budget

Bavarian village, Germany

Travelers across the globe have ‘backpacking through Europe’ on their bucket list, and it’s one trip I recommend everybody takes – especially Americans. You can experience so many different cultures, so much history, so many countries – all just a stone’s throw away from each other. It’s a huge milestone for any traveler, and there are countless places to explore in Europe. The best thing about Europe is that most countries are inexpensive, and with some money-saving tips, you’ll be able to travel Europe on a budget.

If you want to go on a backpacking trip around Europe, follow these tips to help you save money while exploring exquisite travel spots throughout Europe:paris sacre coeur

 

1 Budget Accommodation in Europe

Hostels and Dorms in Europe

Staying in hostels and dorms is my #1 tip for traveling Europe on a budget. You may think hostels are only meant for young people, but you’ll be surprised to know that people from all age groups prefer staying in hostels on their backpacking trips. Some hostels even provide single and double rooms for people who don’t like sharing their accommodation with other travelers, so don’t be put off by the thought of sharing a room with other people.

My favorite thing about hostels is that there is usually a common area or lounge, which is great for meeting other travelers, and they often offer social activities such as pub crawls or free walking tours of the city you’re visiting – so if you’re traveling solo but you’d like to connect with other travelers, I highly recommend staying in hostels. Staying in hostels is something everyone who backpacks around Europe does.

abraham hostel jerusalem roof terrace

2 Eating Cheap in Europe

Cook Your Own Meal

Staying at a hostel or an Airbnb means that you have a kitchen. And considering food is one of the major expenses while traveling, the best thing you can do is to buy fresh ingredients and cook for yourself. It may not be feasible all the time, but you will be saving a lot of cash to spend elsewhere. If you want to travel Europe on a budget, you shouldn’t eat out three times a day – plan on making at least one meal a day in your hostel / Airbnb.

Eat Like A Local

Avoiding restaurants and eateries at tourist spots and finding the ones located a few blocks away will get you the best deals on food (as the food is always more expensive in touristy areas). milan pizza arugala

Eat Street Food

While traveling across Europe, you will easily spot food stalls around you all the time. Europe has a rich street food culture, and you could easily grab something to eat, like a slice of pizza or a crepe without having to shell out a fortune. Indulging in seafood across different countries may also prove to be a delicious experience. In Germany, you can get a kebab for as little as €3, in England you can get the popular supermarket ‘meal deals’ that include a sandwich, a drink and a bag of chips or fresh fruit for around £3, and in many cities in Spain you get FREE tapas when you order a beer or a glass of wine (which shouldn’t be more than €3).potosi chocolate crepe

3 Finding Budget Transportation in Europe

Getting Around Europe on The Cheap

I have already shared my best tips on how to get around Europe on the cheap in detail, but my number one app to book cheap transportation in Europe is Omio. This app lets you put in the city you leave from and your destination, and shows you every possible way to get there (bus, train, plane), and how much each option will cost you. This app is my go-to app every time I backpack around Europe.

travel Europe on a budget

Cycling or Walking in Europe

Exploring a city on your feet or on two wheels is an immersive experience, and a must try. It doesn’t only help you save money, but also keeps you fit while on the road. Most European cities have bikeshare systems that cost little money, and many cities now also have electric scooters that enable you to get around faster and cheaper than ever before.

Budget Airlines in Europe

A little research before booking your air tickets could get you cheap flight tickets. Hence, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance as they tend to be cheaper when booked months before. WhichBudget is a great tools that tells you which airlines cover the route you’re planning to take.flying

4 Cheap Luggage Storage In Europe

The great thing about Airbnb is that you can rent a room in someone else’s apartment for very little money – but the disadvantage is that you usually cannot store your luggage if you have a flight that leaves long after your check-out time, because usually the next guest is checking in right away or the host may not be around to hand over your luggage to you. But luckily, a number of companies have sprung up to solve this very problem, which is excellent for anyone who wants to travel Europe on a budget.

LuggageHero is one of the companies with the best coverage in European cities, for example:

Two more luggage storage companies that operate all over Europe are:

In addition, you find luggage storage in almost every train station in Europe.

5 Free Walking Tours in Europe

If you want to save money on sightseeing, I recommend starting your exploration of each city you visit with a free walking tour. I take a free walking tour in every city on my very first day, because not only do these tours give you a great overview of the city, but the guides are usually very budget-savvy themselves and always have great recommendations for cheap eats, happy hours and bars with cheap beers. The guides are a wealth of information for anyone backpacking around Europe, because many of them go on backpacking trips themselves when they’re not working. Here are some of the companies that I’ve used in Europe – make sure to book a spot online, because they tend to get very busy, especially in the summer, and DON’T FORGET TO TIP YOUR GUIDE!! (They have to eat, too.) An appropriate amount would be 10 – 20, depending on how much you enjoyed the tour.

  • Free Tours By Foot is one of the largest operator of free walking tours in the entire world, they cover most European cities.
  • Sandeman’s New Europe: one of the most popular operators of free walking tours in Europe, offering free walking tours in Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Liverpool, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Munich, Seville, and more!
  • Good Tours operate in three cities: Vienna, Prague and Krakow

These tours are not free, but Get Your Guide is an aggregator of tours and attractions worldwide, worth checking for skip-the-lines tickets and tours that take you ‘off the beaten path’:

 

Don’t Forget: Get International Travel Insurance

Traveling to unknown places involves several risks: missing flights, losing luggage, getting sick or getting into an accident, or being mugged. I can’t stress it enough: you should always get international travel insurance when you plan a trip. This is a cost that you have to factor into your travel budget, and something you shouldn’t forgo in favor of a few beers or nice dinners during your trip.

Although international travel insurance cannot help you avoid misfortunes during your travel, it will offer relief in the form of monetary compensation.backpack around europe

Five budget-friendly cities you have to visit when you travel Europe on a budget

Yes, some European cities aren’t cheap – especially in Scandinavian countries, or Dublin – but there are a lot of places where you can go when you travel Europe on a budget – without breaking the bank. Here are five cities that are great for anyone traveling Europe on a budget:

    • Leon, Spain: If you consider yourself a foodie, this should be on your list
    • Krakow, Poland: Party animals will find themselves at home in Krakow as it’s undoubtedly the party capital of the world
    • Berlin, Germany:: If observing and learning about the culture of the place you visit fascinates you, you have to visit Berlin
    • Portugal: It is a small but lovely country for water enthusiasts who would like to unwind around water and watch sunsets
    • Transylvania, Romania: If adventure and hiking is what you are looking for, Romania is the perfect candidate.

So, stop making excuses! Pack your bags and get planning. Europe is waiting for you!

 

 
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Top Caravan Holidays in Wales This 2021

Cliffs & cottages

Caravan travel is quite satisfying. It provides a more enjoyable way to explore your destination, not to mention the opportunity to create lasting memories on your way there and back. However, the experience is only as good as the destination you choose. If you are looking to explore Wales or its environs in 2021, this article is for you. Here are a few top caravan holidays ideas to consider this 2021.

1. Hafan y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli

If you came before the pandemic, this location might not have been intriguing. Following a refurbishment in 2019, the location added a lot of interesting things to engage in for enjoyment, transforming it into what it is now. Currently, it is a top attraction for many people taking caravan holidays in Wales and expecting a memorable experience. Being among the largest caravan parks in the UK, Haven Hafan Y has garnered a lot of praise for its great amenities and customer happiness. If you have children, they will want to return here after your initial visit. This is due to the numerous activities they can participate in. Indoor swimming pools, a four-lane waterslide, boat rentals, high ropes courses, and miniature off-road vehicles are just a few of the attractions.wales ruin

2. Haven Lydstep Beach Holiday Park

This Park may not be the largest in the UK, but it is certainly worth a visit, especially if you are a camper. It attracts a lot of attention from visitors because it contains literally everything a family may want to have a good time and make memories while out there. To begin with, there is an indoor pool, a climbing wall, and target shooting. Also, you will go home knowing how to kayak, in case you do not. The Park is a little pricier than most other parks of its kind, but once you have visited it, you will agree that it is well worth the price tag. The majority of the activities you can participate in are either free of charge or quite affordable. It’s just a fun place to go.

3. Kiln Park Holiday Centre

If you enjoy caravanning but do not yet own one, you should visit Kiln Park Holiday Centre. The location for one offers caravans to those who are yet to own their own and lots of space for those towing their own to the place. The Park is only a short walk from Tenby’s gorgeous Blue Flag South Beach, allowing you to experience all the beach has to offer with your family.

Kiln Park also provides you with the option of swimming in indoor pools or in open-air pools. As if that weren’t enough, you can add to the excitement by participating in mini-golf and a variety of other activities that will keep your kids active and happy throughout your visit. Make a reservation for your family as soon as possible this summer so you and your family don’t miss out on all the fun.Wales beach

4. Bluestone National Park Resort, Narberth

When it comes to class and luxury, the Bluestone National Park Resort in Narberth is the place to be. In addition to great amenities, the resort also provides cottages and lodges for those who desire them. What makes this area unique is that you can enjoy all of the outdoor activities in the Serendome. What’s more, a luxurious indoor pool and a subtropical blue lagoon highlight this luxury resort. Also, there is a lake where you can participate in various water sports such as kayaking and coracle racing.

The long-awaited summer is finally here. In 2021 there is a wild craze to take a vacation, especially in most places where the Covid-19 measures have been eased a little bit. If a caravan holiday in Wales has crossed your mind, this piece should be all you need to pick a fine destination.Jess in Wales

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Planning a Trip to Scotland With Family? Here are 7 Valuable Tips

UK Travel Scotland

Scotland is the northernmost country in the United Kingdom. It is known for its valley, lakes, and natural wilderness, which attract many tourists each year, together with the many other natural wonders of the country. The major cities, such as Glasgow, are buzzing with vibrant people and culture that intrigue all visitors.

If you have any plans to visit Scotland, keep a few things in mind and prepare beforehand to ensure the best possible experience for your family.

Loch Shiel, Scotland

Here are seven valuable tips for you:

1 Make Sure to Pack a Raincoat

The weather in Scotland is often windy and rainy. It would be best if you were prepared for this in advance. Because of the harsh winds, it is far easier to have a raincoat than to struggle with an umbrella. Umbrellas can be blown upside down in the strong winds. To avoid getting drenched in the downpour, make sure everyone packs a raincoat. Those as mentioned above will make the whole experience better for all of you. Scotland can sometimes experience sweltering summers and cold winters. Make sure you are aptly prepared for the season you will encounter on your trip. You should also be prepared for strong winds in Edinburgh and rainfalls in Glasgow. Pack a sweater too and warm clothing for cold seasons.

eileen donan castle scotland

2 Keep to the Left While Driving

Remember to keep to the left-hand side of the road while driving. Drivers sit on the right side of the car. It is crucial if you are from a country that operates on the right-hand side of the road. It might take some time to adapt. However, this is very critical to your general safety and that of other users on the road. Pay close attention when you are exploring the towns on foot too. Observe the direction of traffic to avoid accidents that you would have otherwise easily avoided. Stay on the constant look pout, and with time you will adapt.

3 Make Reservations Beforehand

If you plan to stay at a hotel, you need to reserve the rooms beforehand. The above prevents the last-minute rush. As mentioned by the folks at Inverness palace hotel and spa, there is also the possibility of the hotel prices being lower. The reason is because of the off-season for tourists. You can use this to your advantage to book months earlier. After booking, make sure you keep in touch and notify the hotel of the date and time of your arrival. You can also stay at an Airbnb apartment. Check the reviews to make sure you have a pleasant experience and avoid paying a lot of money for a terrible apartment. The reviews help you know what to expect. If you plan to stay at a host’s place, make sure you notify them of your arrival dates. It is also helpful in case you might need a pickup from the airport to the place.

edinburgh houses

4 Trespassing Does not Exist in Scotland

It is a constant worry for visitors in foreign countries, especially when hiking in the great outdoors, how far they should explore. Visitors often tend to limit themselves so as not to trespass. You do not have to worry about any of this in Scotland. Scotland has a free to roam rule, which guarantees people the right to go across all public land and sometimes even private land without any restrictions. You do not have to worry about limitations about where you can hike or explore the great outdoors. However, do your research to ensure your safety. It would help if you were responsible. Breaking the law could land you in a lot of trouble, especially in a foreign country. Feel free to inquire from locals.

5 Be Prepared for Thick Local Accents

You are bound to have a conversation with the locals. Even if your English is excellent, which is the local language, you might have difficulty comprehending what the locals are saying. The English spoken is adapted to the local dialect. The thick local accent might also hinder communication. You will get used to it after a while. However, taking your time to research the everyday local slang will go a long way in easing your understanding. You could also listen to some recorded tapes to better get used to the accent. In case of any trouble, ask the locals for help to understand better.

6 Make Sure you Visit the Highlands and Isles

The Scottish Highlands are widely known for their majestic beauty. The sight often wows visitors, and you will be too. You also have to visit the isles and check out the various whiskey distilleries and maybe even sample what Scotland offers. Make sure you plan out enough time to see everything or most of it. A plan will help you keep track of the places you want to visit. There is a lot to see and even more to do. You could visit the various historic castles in the area or visit the parks to take in the majestic sights. The Coasts are also a popular tourist site, especially Moray Coast, where dolphin sighting is a popular pastime amongst the tourists and locals.

7 The Scottish people are friendly

The Scottish people are famous for their hospitality and friendly nature. You should therefore feel comfortable asking for help and conversing with the locals. The locals are accommodating and pleasant to travelers compared to folks from different regions. You should therefore find it relatively easy to make new friends. Help is almost guaranteed once you have any issues. It is also easy for you to feel the Scottish culture from interaction with the locals. However, as with all other places, be careful not to offend the locals or disrespect their culture. Enjoy it firsthand through the various festivals and parties held. Join in and enjoy the food and drinks Scotland offers.

Scotland highlands sheep

With the above tips, you and your family will have a great time visiting Scotland and experiencing the many wonders the country has to offer.

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Hotel Tip of the Week: Hotel Hesperia Sevilla | Spain

hotel tip of the week

Welcome to our Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the disappointing  digs, there are as many accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves. This week: Hotel Hesperia in Seville, Spain.

Hotel Hesperia Seville
A few years ago we flew in to Seville for the first part of our Train through Spain vacation and, both enamored by this steamy southern Spanish city; we knew we would be back. When the time came for us to visit again this year, we also knew that we would again book in to the Hesperia Sevilla. The Seville hotel sits right in that sweet spot of location, price, service and room quality that made our decision to stay there again this year easy to make.

After a quick 15-minute ride from the international airport, we found ourselves standing in the cool marble lobby at the Hesperia Sevilla, which oozes Spanish style from its public spaces to the Art-Deco style rooms. Because the hotel is located outside the historic center, the bright rooms here are a spacious, purpose-built 24 square meter size with deep, comfortable beds, making it just as satisfying to spend time in the room as enjoying Sevilla. The bathrooms are equally spacious and bright, towels are perfectly fluffy, and toiletries include everything from the sewing kit to a full-size toothbrush.

Hotel Hesperia SevillaThe free in-room wi-fi connection worked without a hitch. Simply pick up a password at the front desk and sign-in one time and you are connected for the duration of your stay. The staff at Hesperia Sevilla, though not masters of the English language, is guest-oriented and helpful, while the large leather couches arranged in the lobby are great to sink into meet with friends at night or read the paper in the morning. The on-site parking lot is great for those guests traveling by car. We opted not to eat at the hotel Tapas bar, choosing to dine instead at a couple of ‘cervecerias’ nearby.

We appreciated the location of Hesperia Sevilla, in a bustling neighborhood where locals drink their morning coffee, gossip over late lunches with friends or enjoy tapas late into the night at the many tapas bars. The four-star Seville hotel conveniently sits right on the main Avenida Eduardo Dato so cabs are readily available, but Hesperia is only a 15-minute walk to the center of the Andalusian capital, just up the road from the train station where high-speed AVE trains leave for destinations throughout Spain, and around the corner from good shopping/dining options at the El Corte Ingles shopping mall, a Spanish shopping institution.

Stand-Out Feature: Value For Money

Hesperia Seville offers competitive rates for a four-star Spanish hotel. The hotel works closely with several booking websites and also offers deals and packages on its own website. When a bed in a shared dorm room can cost around $25-35 per person in most European cities, a rate of $70 for two at Hesperia Sevilla is that much more attractive. The hotel is perfect for business travelers (offering business & meeting facilities) but the price and location make it also perfect for families, couples and even large tour groups.

Room for Improvement: The Noise Factor

In a city like Seville, where there are ways to fill your day from morning until the wee hours, most guests spend limited time inside the hotel. If that sounds like how you travel, the paper-thin walls might not bother you in the least. But for loved-up couples or parents with vocal children – your neighbors will hear you and you will hear them.

Overall – Hotel Hesperia in Seville, Spain

We found Hesperia Sevilla to be a bright, stylish mid-range hotel in a great location with all the necessary services and facilities to meet the needs of both business travelers and tourists to Seville.

Hotel Hesperia Seville

Location: Avenida Eduardo Dato, 49, Sevilla, Spain
Price: from 50 Euros for a double room
LGBT Friendly: yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
Amenities: wi-fi, meeting rooms, desks, mini-bar, oversized bathtubs

Like this hotel? Book it here.

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Where To Stay In Reykjavik: Loft Hostel

hotel tip of the week

When I researched places to stay in Reykjavik, one of the first places I came across was the Loft Hostel. It was one of those hostels where I knew right away: that’s where I wanted to stay. The pictures of the rooms looked amazing, the location was excellent, customer reviews were great. But only because a place looks good on paper doesn’t mean that it really is great – there’s still the chance that something is missing, the vibe’s not good, or service has just gone downhill.Reykjavik Loft Hostel1As soon as I arrived at Loft Hostel Reykjavik and stepped into the busy top-floor bar, I was relieved to find out that my doubts had been completely unfounded and that I didn’t have to worry about anything. The reception, located on the fourth floor of the building, is right next to the common area, which was filled with people when I arrived at night, travelers who were sharing stories over happy hour beers. The lively atmosphere pulled me in immediately, making me want to join in instead of crashing in my room after a long day of travel.Reykjavik Loft Hostel2The deluxe private room I was sharing with Rease was fabulous – I loved the modern artwork on the walls, which is such a simple way to pimp up a room, and yet many hostel rooms still have bare white walls. An extra armchair and a small desk made the room more livable and added to the cozy atmosphere. The desk actually got some use, since the wi-if worked perfectly in our room (as well as in the communal loft on the top floor).Reykjavik Loft Hostel RoomBut my favorite part? The bed! Our double bed was so comfy that I was tempted to stay in bed the next morning when I woke up to rain. I did eventually get up though, because my tummy was tumbling and I had read that the hostel breakfast was excellent value for money – of course I needed to find out if that was true.Reykjavik Loft hostel Iceland1And yes – the breakfast was definitely worth every cent, or every single one of the 1,550 krona (US$11.86) I paid for it. If this number seems pricey to you, wait until you get to know prices in Iceland – it’s not necessarily a bargain  country.

We were able to load up our plates as often as we wanted, and the breakfast buffet included several breads, bagels, cheeses and cold cuts, yogurt and cereal, fresh fruit and unlimited coffee and tea. Plus – and this alone was so worth having breakfast – fresh chocolate croissants which were heavenly.Reykjavik Loft Hostel BreakfastFor more budget-conscious travelers the hostel has a fully equipped kitchen, with spices and condiments and leftover foods from other travelers – definitely one of the cleanest and best equipped hostel kitchens I’ve ever seen. While the lounge was rather quiet during breakfast, it really comes to life at night when everyone gathers up here to mingle and meet new people, and the hostel makes you want to hang out up in the loft, providing comfy couches, lots of tables, and even a projector to show movies. I wish it would have been a bit warmer so that I could have taken advantage of the rooftop terrace – but that’ll have to wait until my next visit.Reykjavik Loft Hostel IcelandThis time around, I got to take advantage of one more great feature of the hostel though: its prime location. Located right on Laugavegur, the main street in downtown Reykjavik, lined with shops, bars and restaurants, I couldn’t have asked for a better location. Within a few short minutes you reach Reykjavik’s famous Hallgrimskirkja church, the Sun Voyager sculpture & viewpoint, the concert hall and souvenir shops as well as grocery stores. I thought that parking in such a prime location might be a problem, but given that Reykjavik is tiny (at least for a capital) with only 120,000 people, I was able to find parking right around the corner.

And if you need anything in particular, don’t hesitate to ask at reception – I found everyone I encountered at the check-in desk to be incredibly helpful and friendly. Overall, the Loft Hostel in Reykjavik was exactly the hostel experience I love: comfortable, social and friendly, with all the amenities I could possibly ask for. A great place to start our epic Iceland road trip from…

Thumbs up for the Loft Hostel in Reykjavik!Reykjavik Loft Hostel

Details: Loft Hostel Reykjavik

  • Location: Bankastræti 7a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Price: 8-bed dorms start at $28.48, female six-bed dorms are around $43, double rooms start at $87. Private room for 4 persons starts at around $143. Deluxe Double Room, with shower and toilet, Sheets & Towels included, Breakfast included starts at $130. Please note that prices increase during the high season (in the summer)
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes, excellent wi-fi connection in all areas
  • Amenities: Free wifi, buffet breakfast available for ISK1,550 (US$11.86) , top floor bar, rooftop terrace, tour desk, happy hour offers, communal lounge with movie projector, fully equipped kitchen
  • Website: www.lofthostel.is

Tip: Check Booking.com for discounted rates at the Loft Hostel!

loft hostel reykjavik bar menu

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You put your left foot in…The Travel Closet | Gay Travel

dani and jess in the eno hammock

After months of traveling through some less than gay-friendly locations, we find that we wrestle with what has essentially become a half in, half out of the closet lifestyle. As gay travelers, are there times when we should go back inside the closet? And if we do go back in, how far is too far? Dani and I certainly haven’t crawled back in and shut the door, but we do play a bit of hokey pokey while we travel, putting one foot in, one foot out of the travel closet.After living in gay-friendly locations like London, Brighton and parts of Germany prior to shifting into full-time digital nomadism, it has been nearly a decade since either of us have ever really had to deal with this issue. Traveling through Central America for seven months this past year, however, we found that there were automatically times when we just knew it would be better not to hold hands, and to keep public displays of affection to a minimum, and other times where we were pleasantly surprised at the openness of the gay community and joined right in.gay travel closetBringing extra attention to ourselves in foreign countries where gay rights are about as low on a political agenda as cleaning up political corruption seems like it is not a smart idea. There is no question that coming out and being open are the first steps toward full acceptance within wider society, but as eternal foreigners, it is hard to be willing to take those risks in other countries, especially when homophobia seems to be increasing in some areas despite progress being made in others.

In Brazil, a country with one of the largest gay communities in Latin America and over 150 Gay Pride Parades throughout the country (including the world’s largest, Sao Paolo, with over 3.3 million partygoers each year), over 250 members of the gay community were killed in 2010. How to approach such a country as a gay traveler? Engage in the community and take that risk, or keep quiet, soak up the sun and move on without saying anything at all?While traveling in London, Munich, Milan or New York, we never hesitate to hold hands and smooch as any other couple does. Those who are shocked or stare can learn a lesson or two – yes, this is what a lesbian couple can look like, and no, us loving each other has nothing to do with anyone else’s satisfaction. In fact, even in Mexico City, we felt completely at ease touring the metropolis hand in hand, as the city was surprisingly gay-friendly. In such large cities, at least in the west, we feel that we not only have the right to show our affection for each other, but that it should not even be a consideration to hide who we are. In the case of Mexico, the country even has stronger LGBT rights than the U.S.!gay travel closetHolding hands through Honduras, or almost anywhere in Central America, was a different story entirely. With the exception of Belize (where homosexual acts are a punishable offense), gay and lesbian couples have the right to show their affection in public. However, although loved-up heterosexual Latinos engage in full-blown make out sessions throughout the region, we never once saw a gay or lesbian couple as much as hint at affection. Additionally, with the exception of Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica and a few very private (and exclusive) gay resorts in other Central American countries, gay-friendly tourism is nearly non-existent here.

Headline of a newspaper about gay adoption: Condemn gay adoption!

However, we tend to be travelers first; we would never say that regions that are not gay-friendly are off-limits. Instead, adhering to the age-old ‘When in Rome’ adage, we follow suit and keep our public affection to stolen winks and private kisses.

For a short term vacation, this would hardly be an issue for us at all. However, as long-term travelers, this half-in, half-out of the closet stance can be an incredibly difficult status to maintain. There is certainly frustration at the very thought of being closeted, even if for safety reasons, and it is emotionally straining to essentially revert back to a lifestyle of not being as ‘out’ as we have otherwise always been.gay travel closetA fellow gay travel blogger recently mentioned that in the last three months of Central American travel, he has never once come across another gay backpacker. But maybe he has. Maybe it has just been easier for gay travelers to keep that foot in the closet. 90% of people we’ve come across, locals or foreigners, have had no idea we were gay either. We certainly don’t hide it if asked, but we tend not to bring it up, either.

We want to know what you think – gay or straight, long-term traveler or  holidaymaker.

Are you a gay/lesbian traveler? Are you open all the time when you travel regardless of the consequences, or have you gone back into the gay travel closet? Do you live somewhere where a gay tourist might be in danger if they were to be open about their sexuality? We welcome any and all comments on this!

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Hotel Tip Of The Week: Belmonte Vacanze in Tuscany, Italy

hotel tip of the week

I had spent 12 days in Tuscany before the true meaning of the Italian expression ‘Dolce Vita’ became clear. This happened roughly two hours after checking in to our apartment at Belmonte Vacanze near Montaione in the Chianti region of Tuscany. The Italian expression means ‘the sweet life’, or the good life, and while the lifestyle involves a dedication to eating platefuls of pizza and pasta and necking down countless carafes of delicious Italian table wine, to really feel the Dolce Vita, you must reach a state of such intense relaxation that the concept of stress is lost from your mind entirely.

This feeling struck us both somewhere between attending the early evening on-site wine-tasting at Belmonte Vacanze and watching the glowing spring sun set over the rolling green hills with a belly full of truffle fettuccine.

Belmonte Vacanze Sunset

The resort property has a variety of double, triple and quad apartments in three buildings set on 200 hectares of truly breathtaking countryside. Each apartment offers comfortable beds, a bathroom, a living room with a sofa and large dining table, a fully equipped kitchen with four stove hobs, all yellow 1950s American style refrigerators and an outdoor patio with a second table for al fresco dining. There is high speed wi-fi in all apartments.

Kitchen at Belmonte Vacanze

As comfortable as the apartments are inside, the well-manicured lawns outside allow guests to sun themselves in their own front yards while sipping their morning coffee or a glass of red or white each night. Here you can enjoy the breeze as butterflies and birds whiz past your head, or play peekaboo with the tiny green Tuscan lizards that scuttle by along the hot concrete sidewalks nearby.

Belmonte Vacanze holiday apartments in Tuscany

The Lotti family, who own and run these Tuscany apartments, have thought of every last detail to keep their guests free of stress, including a morning delivery service from the local market. Using a shopping checklist, you can order milk, coffee, chocolate croissants and anything else you might need for breakfast, and the market delivers the food to your doorstep first thing in the morning. On arrival, we were also presented with a full listing of restaurants and services in the local area and a map.  The family is incredibly attentive in this way, and get to know most of the guests on a first name basis. A visit to their Facebook or Twitter page reveals online conversations with past guests – from greetings and well-wishes to promises of plans to see each other next summer.

Belmonte vacanze breakfast on terrace

Belmonte Vacanze’s web presence is maintained by Lauro Lotti, whose grandfather bought the property over 40 years ago. Back then, farming of olives and grapes, as almost everywhere in Tuscany, was the main source of income. Today, as in most of Tuscany, tourism is the focus at Belmonte Vacanze.  Lauro and his parents, who took over the property in 2003 and converted it into self-catering apartment rentals, go above and beyond, pouring their heart and soul into customer satisfaction. They also focus on creating an environmentally-friendly resort, incorporating eco-friendly policies at every turn.

Belmonte vacanze vacation rental apartment

The resort is perfect for families of all sizes, offering everything from a large, clean pool, bikes for rent, horse stables with eight horses (kids can be dropped off for a day of riding lessons and activities), a playground and acres and acres of safe space to play. With the kids here having so much fun, the parents seemed to feel just as relaxed as the loved-up childless couples drinking Prosecco and gazing out at the verdant view. Belmonte Vacanze is also a pet-friendly vacation property, providing plenty of space for pets to roam.

View from apartment Belmonte VacanzeStand Out Feature: Location

Not known for its nightlife, Tuscany holidays are all about spending your days out enjoying the countryside, villages and towns. Belmonte Vacanze is perfectly located for exploring Tuscany. The property is just 15 minutes from (our secret gem) Montaione in one direction and the medieval towns of San Gimignano (our absolute favorite Tuscan own) and Volterra in the other. The popular city of Siena can be reached within an hour, and you can even comfortably visit the Northern Tuscan cities of Pisa, Florence and Lucca and be back by sunset. During our stay we made the 2 hour ride to the Cinque Terre region one day, and the beaches along the Tuscan coast can be reached in about 90 minutes.

Belmonte vacanze olive trees & view

Standout Feature: The Friendliness Factor

We can’t emphasize this enough: the good people at Belmonte Vacanze run a family-friendly, LGBT-friendly, couple-friendly, pet-friendly and environmentally-friendly resort – all while managing to simply be the most people-friendly hosts we met in Italy.

Standout Feature: The Swimming Pool

The swimming pool is the centerpiece of this Tuscan farm holiday resort, and when the sun is shining, guests of all ages gather here to swim, tan, or gaze out at the view. Dozens of comfortable deck chairs surround the pool, with another handful point away from the water and out at the Tuscan hills. This is easily the most relaxing and fun element of the property.

Belmonte vacanze pool & view

Room for improvement: Signposting

After you book your stay at Belmonte Vacanze, go directly to the website and copy down the directions word for word. Once in the car and on your way, enter the exact address into your navigation system. Using both, you should arrive without a problem. Directions in Tuscany can be difficult to follow, which is why reading the directions on the website is key to stress-free arrival. It would be great if  Belmonte Vacanze would have a few signs along the way from the highway and San Gimignano. Tip: In addition to following the directions on the website, follow the signs along the way to Parco Benestare. You’ll run right into Belmonte five minutes before reaching the nature park.

Overall: Belmonte Vacanze in Tuscany

Belmonte Vacanze might be a family operation, but this is no mom and pop affair. As guests here, we felt we had the full attention of a four or five star hotel with the freedom of having our own apartment. Despite spending nearly two weeks in this fairytale region of Italy, it was our stay at Belmonte Vacanze that became our defining moment of what it truly means to escape to Tuscany.

Location: Via Torri 62, 50050 – Montaione
Price:
Starting at €35 per person per night, but check the website for special weekend or last-minute offers.
LGBT Friendly:
Absolutely!
Amenities:
swimming pool, sunchairs & umbrellas, fully equipped kitchen, living room with dining table and sofa, each apartment has its own balcony or terrace, wi-fi internet, free parking, sulfur springs, horse stables, tennis court, table tennis, playground, barbeque, bicycle rental, laundry facility.

Book your stay at Belmonte Vacanze on Booking.com.

Bedroom belmonte Vacanze

Like this hotel? Book it here.

 

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Polaroid of the week: A castle in the Alps

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

.polaroid of the week Germany German Alps Street Castle

It was just an average day in Europe. There we were, ‘speeding’ along the Autobahn in our rented Smart car during the hour and a half journey from Innsbruck, Austria back to our housesit in the Bavarian mountains. Suddenly, blink and you’ll miss it, out of nowhere, this castle appeared. We snapped it before it disappeared from view.

Not quite as high as a castle in the sky, you could call this our idyllic castle in the Alps. Or, our drive-by shooting for the day. Polaroid shooting, of course!

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