Travel with a mate http://www.travelwithamate.com Travel advice, destinations and reviews from a family of travel addicts. Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:01:18 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Hotel review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort http://www.travelwithamate.com/hotel-review-novotel-phuket-surin-beach-resort/ Wed, 26 Apr 2017 07:21:58 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31281 On a mission to explore more of Phuket in Thailand, our friends at Novotel invited us to experience some of their resort offerings on the island. Our first stop was the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa and after a 40 minute drive along the coastline heading North we reached the 2nd of our Novotel experiences, the Novotel ...

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On a mission to explore more of Phuket in Thailand, our friends at Novotel invited us to experience some of their resort offerings on the island. Our first stop was the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa and after a 40 minute drive along the coastline heading North we reached the 2nd of our Novotel experiences, the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort. Here’s our experience.

First impressions

You can’t help but be impressed by the grand entrance to the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort. A long driveway leading to an arched entrance with plenty of plush seating and impressive warm decor. Our daughter was greeted with her new best friend, the same Pikachu mascot we met at the Karon Beach Resort just a couple of days before. She was definitely happy to see him (or is it her?) again! Check-in was super easy and we were guided through the impressive dining areas and just a short walk to our “Suite Poolside Terrace“. We were so pleased to see once again that Novotel’s child friendly services were very much evident here. A Mickey Mouse duvet and pillow, cuddly toys and a play-tent for her to enjoy as soon as we arrived in the room. Childhood bliss! A welcome like this sure does set the tone for the rest of your stay and means everything to a little toddler.

Our room

I think the name “Suite Poolside Terrace” wasn’t entirely accurate. While it was a generous size with plenty of space for our suitcases and their contents it wasn’t strictly by the side of a pool. Just a short walk to the edge of one I grant you. Aside from that the suite was all you need for a relaxing stay. A huge master bed, a cute and perfectly sized kids bed / sofa in the lounge area. Flat screen TVs in both rooms and a generous sized fridge that you could get stocked with mini-bar goodies or make use of with your own purchases.

The Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort is definitely a bit older than our previous experience at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa. The decor was more your standard hotel room artwork, with earthy colours that seem to compliment the immense greenery just outside the big sliding glass doors (more on that later). The front door to our room wasn’t the most sealed of doors so tended to let in noise from the busy corridor outside. Not too much of an issue in the day but it woke our daughter earlier than usual when people started heading for an early breakfast.

One other oddity is that the play-tent our daughter enjoyed so much on the first day was inexplicably removed by house-keeping the next day. Our daughter wasn’t upset, just a little confused. Still the kids club, pools and food kept her very busy.

Facilities

First thing of note here at the Novotel Surin Beach Resort is the fantastic landscaping within the grounds. The rooms encircle the pool and outdoor area where there’s a fantastic number of tall trees, hedges, meandering pathways, flowers, and greenery that you can’t help but find relaxing. Considering this is a large hotel complex it never felt too busy or loud, the trees and vegetation doing a fine job of absorbing the noise of activities from some 400 or more guests making use of all the facilities.

The pools here are some of the best on the island for a number of reasons. Firstly shade! I’m constantly surprised how little shade hotels put over their pools considering how hot and intense the sun can be in Thailand. Not a problem at this Novotel!  The foliage and winding loop of the pool (with an island in the middle) created plenty of places within the water to swim without being burnt. Very important for parents of a very active toddler who loves to swim for hours. There’s also two fun slides here that were mostly underused. I suspect because you can’t see the end of the slide from the top or the jarring knock on your spine as you slide down.

Kids World

Safe to say our nearly 3 year old was addicted to the kids club area known as “Kids World“, a multi-level air conditioned kids paradise with an activity area, TV room, ball pool and computers too. With multiple guided activities every day there was plenty for children to do here. Some really interesting and different activities too like learning to tie-dye and also the yummy cookie making class which resulted in us taking away a huge box of cookies that our daughter helped create. Delicious!

The staff here were helpful and attentive, although we did notice someone else had signed our daughter out at reception, presumably while there was nobody manning the door. I’m sure it was just someone signing the wrong row on the sheet but obviously a worry if staff think our daughter left with us when she may have walked off or left with someone else. Anyway all was well and our daughter couldn’t wait to return to the kids club every day. Definitely the highlight of her stay.

Massages

While the hotel does offer spa treatments I wouldn’t necessarily call it a spa. You’ll find the treatment areas above the gym on a mezzanine level. The treatment rooms are just a thin partition walls in a larger room with just a curtain separating you from the outside world. So there’s no calm and serene spa experience here. You’ll hear plenty of noise from the gym machines and other guests too. Having said that the massage was very good, I’m definitely too much of a wimp to opt for a Thai massage, I much prefer the essential oils and tamer Swedish style!

Dining

There’s plenty of dining options here both poolside and restaurant style. By the pool you can request service by pushing the wireless button next to your sun lounger. The ultimate way to get a tasty lunch! We fell in love with the Pepperoni Pizza which was just 179 TBH (around £4.50) and big enough for the 3 of us to share. All of the dining options at the resort are outdoors but split over multiple levels. With a booth style dining area overlooking the pools, its shaded from the sun with large fans above the tables.

There’s also a sushi bar with reasonably priced sashimi and Novotel’s “Champions” sports bar with plenty of TVs showing everything from Baseball and Aussie rules football to Formula One and monster trucks too. We got to experience the “Asian buffet” one evening at the “Asia Alive” main dining area. Lots to choose from with freshly cooked-to-order meats and noodle dishes from the chef. Plenty of of Sushi, Massaman curries and Asian nibbles too.

The dining areas all run out of one kitchen so the buffet / breakfast area is right next to the Champions Bar too, all of which are at the end of the main entrance building and the back of which has no wall so the entire area is not air conditioned While it was cooler than dining right outside by the pool it would have been nice to have one air conditioned dining option after a hot day in the sunshine. For a quick daytime snack there’s also a small lobby bar and food store selling coffees, cakes and crisps. They also have a very convenient shop here for your poolside essentials like suncream.

What’s nearby

Outside of the hotel its just a short walk to the beach across the road. The beach is fairly quiet with plenty of space to yourself. Along the resort road there are a few shops including laundry, a minimart and some great little restaurants worth checking out. There’s even a small wine bar which is unusual to see in Thailand! Along the main road you’ll find a few more dining options. A little further afield you’ll find some fun night markets and also Phuket Adventure Mini Golf which is great for all ages. Its easy to get about here if you walk out of the hotel and flag down a tuk-tuk or taxi driver. Thailand has no shortage of transportation although Phuket’s prices have risen since our last visit.

Conclusion

We really enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort mostly because our daughter had so much fun with all the facilities. One of the best pools for families who want shade while swimming, an amazing array of activities for kids, a very warm welcome and plenty of great friendly service from the staff. Our room was well positioned and we really enjoyed sitting outside in the evening and enjoying the lush green vista.

Hotel information

Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort
106/27 Moo 3, Cherngtalay, Talang, Surin Beach, 83110 Phuket, Thailand

Tel: +66 76 303 300
Fax: +66 76 300 303

E-mail : info@novotelphuketsurin.com
Website: novotelphuketsurin.com

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Hotel review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa http://www.travelwithamate.com/hotel-review-novotel-phuket-karon-beach-resort-spa/ Tue, 25 Apr 2017 07:50:08 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31252 We recently returned to Phuket island on the west coast of Thailand to explore more of this popular holiday destination. We’ve been to Thailand many times but only once before to Phuket back in 2009. So we were keen to stay somewhere different and experience something new. With an invite to check out two of ...

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We recently returned to Phuket island on the west coast of Thailand to explore more of this popular holiday destination. We’ve been to Thailand many times but only once before to Phuket back in 2009. So we were keen to stay somewhere different and experience something new. With an invite to check out two of the numerous Novotel hotels and resorts on the island we ventured south to Karon beach to review the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa. Here’s our experience.

First impressions

After a pleasant drive along the coast we reached the small circular driveway of the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa and were greeted by the very friendly staff. Thailand is known for its friendly locals and good resort service so there were no tricks missed here. A quick golf cart ride along the carefully manicured path lead us to our wonderfully secluded “plunge pool suite“. Our 2 year old daughter nearly lost her mind when who should greet her but none other than a 6 feet tall Pikachu!

Thankfully she wasn’t scared and was soon hugging and high-fiving. The child-friendly welcome didn’t stop there as inside our suite was a plethora of welcomes suited perfectly to a 2 year old. She had her own bed with princess duvet and pillow along with a gaggle of cuddly toys for her to cuddle the stuffing out of. Not only that but a play tent in the master bedroom and a fun little treasure hunt for tasty chocolates (hidden in the wardrobe!). Its safe to say our little daughter felt right at home instantly and I’m sure all parents will agree that this means everything when you’re on holiday! The family friendly box most definitely ticked!

Our suite

Our plunge pool suite was an impressive space with a modern but earthy feel. As the name suggests it had a private plunge pool that we could step right into from the master bedroom and take a refreshing dip complete with jet bubbles. There was ample seating outside and the perfectly presented hedging landscaping did a wonderful job of making this fairly tightly packed complex of suites feel quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of Karon and indeed other parts of the resort.

Inside the suite we had plenty of space for our suitcases and clothes, two large flat screen TVs (that was permanently on the cartoon network demanded by our daughter).

The bathroom had access from both the lounge and master bedroom, annoying if you forget to lock both doors but beautifully presented with some very well thought out colour schemes and the very welcome addition of a bath! Perfect for our little toddler who for some reason despises showers.  The master bed was huge and comfortable and the suite had the perfect balance of modern conveniences like smart lighting controls and universal power sockets as well as a natural homely feel.

Facilities

While our plunge pool was an instant hit especially with our daughter, there’s plenty more to see and do on-site. The main pool was always a popular hangout with a lively bar called Joe Kool’s Poolside Grill. The pool was an interesting shape with a bridge in the middle for easy access to your grilled lunch. There’s also the Horizon restaurant upstairs where the impressive breakfast buffet was served and often had live music and other entertainment in the evenings. There are two other pools on site offering a more exclusive feel. One has “Champions” Novotel’s signature sports bar showing plenty of sport all day long on multiple screens and offering the usual burger-and-fries style menu.

As any parent will tell you we are at the whim of our children’s demands and on discovering the kids pool and play-centre she was hooked! A smaller pool with a fun little water slide kept her amused for a while but her favourite place to visit was without doubt the kids centre. An indoor play area with all manner of activities, chill out areas, play-stations, books, movies, toys and anything else a child could ever want. Our daughter, rather than getting hooked on one thing, tried everything for about 60 seconds each, So I can safely say I’ve seen a lot of what this place has to offer.

The staff here were wonderfully attentive and eternally patient as kids of all ages, moods and attitudes pass their doors. It was a welcome escape from the humidity outside too. Our daughter enjoyed painting figurines, colouring and drawing, playing chef with the toy kitchen and making new friends every day. Its also a place to meet mums and dads and compare a few travelling-with-a-kid notes.

I very much liked the fact that there was always someone sat at reception by the door making sure parents signed their children in and out.

Also on site, through a labyrinth of walkways and corridors you’ll find the spa with a range of great treatments to choose from. I’ve been lugging suitcases, buggies and a toddler around Asia for 2 months now so a good back and shoulder massage was definitely needed. The staff were friendly, always smiling and with a calm air of serenity that every spa should have. The treatment room was dimly lit, sweetly aromatic and with the standard etherial background music. My 60 minute massage was firm and certainly showed my back muscles who’s boss. My only gripe with the spa experience was the door of my treatment room didn’t seal out the sounds from outside so the occasional guest or staff member walking the corridor could be heard, the odd banging door, etc. Not that big a deal but when they try so hard to create the perfect calming environment these sounds seem somewhat magnified.  Other than its well worth getting at least one massage during your stay just to pamper yourself.

Massage room

Eating at Tai

One of the biggest reasons for any trip to South East Asia is without doubt the food. Novotel’s Asian cuisine restaurant Tai offered us a set menu to experience some of their finest dishes. Tom Yam flavoured vegetable spring rolls to start followed by Japanese Tempura King Mushrooms, Wagyu Beef Massaman Curry and Steamed whole Sea Bass served with Chilli and Garlic Sauce. The curry was without doubt my favourite, beef that just dissolved as you chewed with sweet and spicy Massaman flavours that I will try my hardest to replicate when I return to England (and almost certainly fail!).

All of this delicious food was rounded off nicely with a seriously chocolatey mini cake with hot melted gooey centre. Divine! The atmosphere in Tai is quiet and somewhat reserved compared to the more informal and western dining options at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa. A welcome change and very tasty meal I can highly recommend.

What’s nearby

Karon beach is all of a 3 minute walk away. Don’t follow the road around the coast, instead hop across the busy road (a member of staff will stop traffic for you!) and take the bridge to the other side where you’ll easily see the short-cut straight to the beach. There’s a number of small restaurants here all vying for your attention as you walk past, definitely worth stopping for lunch or a beer.

Karon beach

Walking in to town is very easy and you’ll soon be surrounded by shops, cafes, restaurants and more hotels. Phuket isn’t the cheap island it once was so expect to pay similar prices in town as hotels charge. There’s plenty to choose from here and lots of daytime activities too other than tanning yourself on the long stretch of beach, from Elephant treks to cooking classes. You can book many of these from tour operators in town or just ask at reception of the Novotel and they’ll help arrange your activities too.

Getting around

If there’s one thing is very easy to do in Thailand its get around! Thailand has all manner of interesting transportation options. You wont fail to spot plenty of tuk-tuks zipping about, you’ll more likely hear one coming before you see it. These aren’t the 3 wheeled tuk-tuks you’ll see in other parts of Thailand as 4 wheels are definitely needed in this hilly environment. Many of them are no adorned with powerful sound systems blasting dance music from there flashing LED covered speakers. If you’re looking for a night out the party will definitely start the moment you jump in to the back of one of these.

Other options include taxis and hotel transfer vehicles to and from the airport but your best bet for a good deal now is Uber or the more popular Asian version called “Grab”. Just download the Grab app, sign up and book a local driver for much less than the cost of a normal taxi. Prices are still high compared to other areas of Thailand and Asia but Grab taxis are still one of your cheapest options.

Conclusion

The Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa was a refreshing resort in a refreshing location we hadn’t explored before. Karon is definitely a welcome break from the madness of some areas of Phuket like the ever popular Patong. The resort caters brilliantly for children which quite frankly transformed our stay as our daughter was in heaven the whole time. The landscaping of the entire site created a very impressive secluded feel throughout, the plunge pool suite was perfect for the 3 of us, I now wish I had a plunge pool at home!

Novotel Phuket Karon Resort and Spa

Hotel information

Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa
568 Patak Road, Karon, Muang Phuket, Phuket 83100

Tel: +66 (0) 76 358 666
Fax +66 (0) 76 358 645

E-mail: H8825-RE@accor.com
Website: novotelphuketkaron.com

This review was sponsored by Novotel resorts and hotels. All opinions are my own.

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7 Natural Wonders Of Indonesia http://www.travelwithamate.com/7-natural-wonders-indonesia/ Fri, 21 Apr 2017 03:04:36 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31238   With over 17,000 different islands, ranging from little islets dotted with palms to the colossal valleys of Sumatra, Indonesia offers one of the greatest concentrations of untouched natural beauty that can be found anywhere in the world. With all the fascinating wildlife, breath-taking photo opportunities, and some of the most popular scuba diving spots anywhere ...

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With over 17,000 different islands, ranging from little islets dotted with palms to the colossal valleys of Sumatra, Indonesia offers one of the greatest concentrations of untouched natural beauty that can be found anywhere in the world. With all the fascinating wildlife, breath-taking photo opportunities, and some of the most popular scuba diving spots anywhere on earth, you might feel pretty overwhelmed when you’re planning a trip to Indonesia. To make things easier for you, here’s a list of the most incredible natural wonders you can see in the country…

Komodo National Park

This barren, rocky island stands out from some of the more fertile areas of Indonesia, and its most famous species is also very unique. Komodo dragons are the world’s largest species of lizard, with some adults growing up to three metres long. These fascinating creatures can often be seen walking along the beach when you visit the island’s central camp of Loh Liang. The staff at the national park run guided walks lasting around half an hour, which takes you past a dry riverbed at the nearby Banu Nggulung. Here, you can see monitor lizards in their natural habitat; another massive reptile. Regular two-day boat trips to Komodo depart from Labuanbajo, a settlement on the nearby island of Flores.

Tanjung Putting National Park

This is another great place if you want to see a lot of wildlife on your trip to Indonesia. Tanjung Putting is a massive national park stretching over 4150 square kilometres of central Kalimantan, which is the Indonesian-owned southern part of Borneo. Aging, but surprisingly comfortable riverboats, will take you up the Sungai Sekoneyer river, with plenty of stops where you can see orangutans being fed on a three-day journey towards Camp Leakey. This is a wildlife rehab centre where orphaned or formerly captive orangutans are taken care of and trained to re-enter the wild. As you travel up the river, you’ll also have a good chance of seeing vibrant birds like kingfishers and hornbills. Just remember to stock up on mosquito repellent and Malarone to keep the area’s less appealing wildlife away! If it’s in the budget, you can even rent out famous two-story teak houseboats privately. Note that these are known as Klotok in the local language.

Raja Ampat

If you’re planning to bring your scuba gear on your trip to Indonesia, then Raja Ampat (just northwest of Papua Island) is an absolute must. Above the glinting blue ocean, you’ll see scattered, rounded hills covered in luscious tropical forest, in between tiny islets and tucked-away coves. Beneath the waves, the natural beauty becomes even more stunning. Epaulette sharks (those are small!) and Manta rays will drift over a multi-coloured underwater landscape of coral, broken up by massive underwater ridges, walls and valleys. You’re also likely to see shoals of parrotfish and barracuda patrolling their habitat. If you’re not planning on scuba diving while you’re out here, you can still have a great experience through kayaking, snorkelling and cruises on traditional schooners.

Lake Toba

At the northern end of Sumatra’s range of volcanos, at a height of 1130 metres, Danu Toba is the home of a caldera of a local super-volcano; the largest volcanic lake on earth. The beautiful ocean-blue waters cover a massive 100km expanse, and frame the land wedge of Pulau Samosir, home to the fascinating Batak people. The sleepy, winding roads around the region are excellent for exploring the land by bicycle, which has made Lake Toba one of the most popular tourism spots in the whole of Indonesia.

Mt Bromo

Indonesia is studded with volcanoes, and seeing at least one makes the “to-do” list for many travellers who visit the country. If you see just one during your trip, make sure it’s Mt Bromo. With its immense, almost surreal height, Mt Bromo is one of the truly epic natural spectacles you can see in Indonesia. A massive 10km-wide crater, formed by the turbulent volcanic history of the land, is overshadowed by the smouldering peak of the volcano itself. There are massive plains of hardened ash and volcanic sand, stretching from end to end of the crater, and the peaks of Kursi and Batok stand either side of Mt Bromo, making it seem even larger! If you can, try to see the crater during sunrise. 4×4 excursions leave from the settlement of Cemoro Lawang in the early hours of the morning in order to capture this sublime natural spectacle at just the right time.

Harau Valley

If your trips aren’t complete without some interaction with the locals, be sure to make a stop in Harau Valley. This is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, stretching up to 100 metres high, and enlivened by the waterfalls of Lemba Harau. If you’re adventurous enough, you may want to join rock climbers who negotiate tenuous routes up through the cliffs. However, you’ll probably be more at home taking the walking trails through the bright green rice paddies which fill the base of the valley. Taking this route will allow you to see how day to day life goes by in the area. If you want to stick around and learn a little more about the local people, there are many comfortable homestay programs in the area that are popular amongst western tourists.

Api Banda

People go to Mt Bromo to feel dwarfed, but visit Pulau Gunung Api Banda for the sheer beauty of the volcano. This volcano has a distinct conical shape, resembling Japan’s iconic Mt Fujiyama, but is only around 650m high, and as many people will agree, the country’s most picturesque volcano. The slope is steep and challenging, but most visitors manage to climb to the peak in around three hours. Once there, you’ll have a spectacular view of the surrounding islands, and possibly a sunset unlike any other you’ve seen before in your life!

If you want to make sure you’re soaking up all the natural beauty Indonesia has to offer, be sure to visit a few of these amazing sights.

 

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Earthly Employment! Ways To Earn Money While Traveling The Globe http://www.travelwithamate.com/earthly-employment-ways-earn-money-traveling-globe/ Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:09:50 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31234 There comes a time during a road trip where the trappings of life seem to escape you, and you don’t worry about things like money, at least for about 10 minutes! While you can spend a lot of time working and staying in your parents’ spare room to get the money you need to travel, some ...

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There comes a time during a road trip where the trappings of life seem to escape you, and you don’t worry about things like money, at least for about 10 minutes! While you can spend a lot of time working and staying in your parents’ spare room to get the money you need to travel, some of us have found a way to earn money and travel at the same time. Think about it, working in another country gives you a whole new angle of soaking up the culture, and not just as a tourist. Here are some jobs to think about if you’re planning on spending a long time away from home.

Au Pair

The job that requires the least amount of training on this list, being an au pair has its challenges, especially if you’re not used to looking after children! But it’s a great way to spend time with a family native to your chosen country. During the days you would be looking after the children and doing the housework, but you have the evenings free to do what you want as well as weekends. The family would provide you with everything, and you wouldn’t need to pay rent.

Ski Instructor

One of the first things people think of as a way to earn money while getting a vacation. It is to an extent, but it’s a lot of hard work to get to that point. There are complete ski instructor courses available lasting up to 15 weeks but are as short as 4 weeks, ensuring that you are getting your ideal amount of time outside in the beautiful snowy surroundings of peaks like the Alps. It will also give you an incredible base of languages because you will need to learn a little bit of (almost) everything to get you by.   

Teaching English

A lot of people find that the best way to earn money in another country when they come from the western world is to do a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course and teach adults the language. As you are no doubt fluent in English, it’s possibly the easiest qualification to get! The qualification doesn’t take long to get, and there is such a high demand for people to go out to countries to teach the language. As a way of experiencing a culture and earning a decent wage, there aren’t many better options.

Flight Attendant

And probably the most “career” oriented one here, being a flight attendant is the best way to travel the world. As long as you have some patience in dealing with customers, this is a great way to see every corner of the world for free. As part of the job, you will have many layovers in other countries so you can look at each one and decide where to go on your vacation. One of the perks of being a flight attendant is the discount you can get on flights for you and the other members of your family.

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4 Hikes in Australia You Don’t Want to Miss http://www.travelwithamate.com/4-hikes-australia-dont-want-miss/ Wed, 19 Apr 2017 07:06:32 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31223 Whether you’re a tourist or a townie, an accomplished hiker or a beginner, these are the top hikes in Australia you don’t want to miss, no matter where you’re based. Noosa National Park – Queensland If you’re visiting the great sunshine state then you simply can’t miss a trip to Noosa National Park. This 2 ...

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Whether you’re a tourist or a townie, an accomplished hiker or a beginner, these are the top hikes in Australia you don’t want to miss, no matter where you’re based.

Noosa National Park – Queensland

If you’re visiting the great sunshine state then you simply can’t miss a trip to Noosa National Park. This 2 hour adventure will have you taking in the sandy beaches, coves and rocky headlands as you hike along the 10.8km coastal track. The track takes you along Noosa National Park all the way to Hells Gate. From the route you may even be lucky enough to catch glimpses of dolphins, manta rays and turtles. You’ll definitely want to bring a good camera along as at the end of the line you’ll find yourself taking in the magnificent views of Alexandria Bay and the North Shore.

Need a shorter hike? Noosa National Park has multiple trails including the 1km Palm Grove Circuit and the 2.4km Noosa Hill Track.

Larapinta Trail – Northern Territory

The Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Range is not a hike for the faint hearted. As a 223km and 16-20 day (including rest days) journey, you’ll want to be well experienced for this one. The trail first opened 14 years ago and has since become one of the world’s most popular hikes. You can choose to go it alone, or join a guided trek. A guided walk will have you staying in tented camps and enjoying wine with your fellow travellers. Independent walkers usually camp at the more basic sites that have fewer facilities than the ones used by tour operators.

“The Larapinta Trail showcases so much that is iconic about Central Australia. It is arguably the best-known arid-zone long-distance walk.” According to Central Australian Parks’ acting director Chris Day, in an interview with Australian Geographic, “About 50 per cent of walkers take on Larapinta under their own steam as independent walkers organising their own itinerary and logistics. The majority of these trekkers undertake the entire 223km rout too.”

Bay of Fires Lodge Walk – Tasmania

For those wanting something a little different, combine hiking with luxury in this walking tour of the Bay of Fires. This guided trek at the edge of Mt William National Park in north-eastern Tasmania, will immerse you in one of the most pristine environments in the world. Explore the coves and the white sandy beaches, while coming face to face with the native Tasmanian wildlife. The guided walk departs daily from October to May and is a four-day scenic experience. You’ll be in an intimate group of no more than 10 walkers. The first night you’ll stay at Forester Beach Camp, a private camp with magnificent views of the surrounding white-sand beach. The second and third nights’ accommodation is at the multi-award winning Bay of Fires Lodge, an eco-conscious retreat.

The Six Foot Track – New South Wales

This track follows the path cut from Katoomba through the Blue Mountains to Jenolan Caves. The route was formed to create a more direct way to the popular tourist destination. The Six Foot Track takes around 3 days on foot and is best walked in the spring or autumn. Summers in NSW can become unbearably hot while the winters are wet and cold. The trail was carved to follow existing paths like old Brumby tracks and the paths made by the earliest European explorers two centuries ago. Much of this area is World Heritage listed and you’ll be able to explore the lush eucalyptus forests, Aussie bushlands, waterfalls and enjoy the native wildlife that abounds the area, including wombats, wallabies and kangaroos.

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Win up to £1000 experience with IntoTheBlue.co.uk http://www.travelwithamate.com/competition-win-1000-experience-intotheblue-co-uk/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 09:54:02 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31214 We’re huge fans of jumping in to new and exciting experiences, trying something new or ticking off something from our bucket-list we’ve always wanted to try. We’ve done all sorts over the years and made good friends with some experience experts over at intotheblue.co.uk. I’m sure there’s plenty on your wish-list, maybe skydiving or a flight ...

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We’re huge fans of jumping in to new and exciting experiences, trying something new or ticking off something from our bucket-list we’ve always wanted to try. We’ve done all sorts over the years and made good friends with some experience experts over at intotheblue.co.uk. I’m sure there’s plenty on your wish-list, maybe skydiving or a flight in a spitfire? A day learning to drive a single seater racing car or maybe a 4×4 off-road experience? Maybe its something as simple as some much needed pampering at a spa, taking a a wine-tasting tour or learning Archery (always wanted to do that!). No doubt there’s plenty to put on your wish-list!

National Experience Week 2017

Dod you know that from the 17th to the 26th of April its National Experience Week 2017 and the adrenalin junkies at Into The Blue are giving away a huge prize in their competition that’s super easy to enter. Their website is filled with all sorts of experiences to choose from and you could be the lucky winner of up to £1000 in Into The Blue experience. Now making your experience wish-list could actually help you win it! If you had £1000 to spend in National Experience Week what would you do? What could you learn? What fear might you overcome? Where will you go!?

How to enter

Head on over to their website at intotheblue.co.uk and start browsing for the experiences you’d like to do one day. Add them to your wish-list (at least 2)

Post on your Twitter account or Facebook wall and tell them how you’re celebrating your #nationalexperienceweek

Tell your friends about the competition! There’s 2 x £100 runners up prizes too!

Check out the full terms and conditions here

Follow IntoTheBlue for more competitions and offers

I highly recommend you follow these guys for future giveaways and special offers. You can check them out on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

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Vacationing in the Cultural Capitals of the United States http://www.travelwithamate.com/vacationing-cultural-capitals-united-states/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 03:55:50 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31208 Planning a vacation doesn’t always mean going away to a tropical escape, theme park, or snowy cabin on a mountain top. Some of the most rewarding types of vacations involve cultural exploration. There are a surprising number of cultural powerhouses scattered throughout the United States, including West Hollywood, Austin, and Brooklyn. West Hollywood, California West ...

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Planning a vacation doesn’t always mean going away to a tropical escape, theme park, or snowy cabin on a mountain top. Some of the most rewarding types of vacations involve cultural exploration. There are a surprising number of cultural powerhouses scattered throughout the United States, including West Hollywood, Austin, and Brooklyn.

West Hollywood, California

West Hollywood describes itself as The Creative City. It is a welcoming hub of art and culture that is celebrated throughout the city. WeHo Arts is the powerhouse behind the concentrated effort to keep art foremost in the city’s consciousness. They claim the city potentially has more art per square mile than that found in any other city in the United States. The organization promotes film, music, theater, visual arts, and literary arts. Special attention is given to children’s art, the LGBTQ community, and the Russian-speaking community.

For anyone planning to visit West Hollywood, it is certainly worth checking out the local events and exhibits that the WeHo community has available. Two of the most iconic museums in the area include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

There are several large annual events that take place in West Hollywood. The Russian Cultural Festival is a family themed community event designed to spotlight the unique contributions of Russian culture, including food, art, music, and businesses within the local community. Pride Month, also known as One City One Pride is hosted each June. The event celebrates pride in the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community.

Austin, Texas

Austin is often called The Live Music Capital of the World and the propensity for high-quality live music in the city is well established. However, it has far more than just music to offer the world. It has numerous cultural and historic centers and museums for visitors and residents to explore. Some of the not to be missed museums include the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, The Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the LBJ Presidential Library.

Annual festivals are a big part of Austin’s cultural appeal. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is a two-week event held in October of each year. It is a celebration of music, art, and food hosted at Zilker Park. The Annual Austin PRIDE Week is held toward the end of August and includes a fashion show, parade, and festival. Perhaps the most famous event in the city is the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival held in the Austin Convention Center in March of each year. It is devoted to helping creatives achieve their goals and is an explosion of interactive technology, music, and film.

Brooklyn, New York

Most New York City boroughs are difficult to label, and this is even more true for the cultural melting pot of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Cultural District is in the heart of the neighborhoods thriving arts community. It is anchored by the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Brooklyn Public Library and filled with art spaces, music venues, and theaters.

Some of the largest annual cultural celebrations in Brooklyn include the NYCxDesign, BAM Next Wave Festival, and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. NYCxDesign is a celebration of global design hosted each year in May. The event is comprised of talks, exhibitions, open studios, and trade shows. The BAM Next Wave Festival provides a spectacular selection of theater, dance, avant-garde music, and opera performances. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrates the millions of Puerto Ricans living in the city and throughout the United States.

Exploring the cultural frontiers of the United States is easily a series of journeys that could span decades. One of the best things about this type of vacation is the rapidity with which our culture changes. Going to one of these locations now would be remarkably different than a visit of only a decade ago due to the way the cultural landscape changes over time. For those who truly love immersing themselves in the frontiers of current cultural trends and norms, nothing is better than regular immersion into one of the cities that fosters exploration and growth in all areas.

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3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Parent Getaway http://www.travelwithamate.com/3-tips-making-parent-getaway/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 03:37:38 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31204 Raising kids isn’t easy, and you’re sure to need some time away from it all. The key to being able to enjoy yourself when you have children may require you to take time for a fast getaway. This can enable you to renew and refresh while enjoying various sites along the way. Your kids can ...

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Raising kids isn’t easy, and you’re sure to need some time away from it all. The key to being able to enjoy yourself when you have children may require you to take time for a fast getaway. This can enable you to renew and refresh while enjoying various sites along the way. Your kids can be taken care of by a friend or a sitter that is willing to take on this task. It’s ideal to know a variety of things you can do that can help you make the most of this time for you and your spouse.

Tip #1: Secure your accommodations

The first thing you will want to do is have a place lined up for you to stay while taking time for yourself. It’s ideal to consider the welk resort timeshare cost if you want to do this on a frequent basis.

There are numerous benefits to owning a timeshare, and you may find that it’s the ideal way to help you travel and see the things you’d enjoy seeing. Another advantage includes being able to stay at a vast number of locations across the country.

You’re sure to enjoy the luxurious locations and amenities that are offered to you when you select this type of accommodation.

Tip #2: Plan it out

One of the ways to allow you to get the absolute most from your short getaway is by taking the time to prepare it. This can be the key to having much less stress when you’re headed out for some time alone with your spouse.

The entire purpose of going on a short vacation is to enable you to relax and get the most out of life while you can. However, thinking of all the things you need to do back home can cause you to be more stressed and may not allow you to make the most of this time.

Listed below are some of the things you can do:

  1. Line up a sitter that you trust to care for your kids while you’re gone. Studies show you may be able to hire one as cheaply as $15.02 per hour.
  2. Turn on the security system to ensure your family is safe.
  3. Make certain all the bills are paid before you leave for your trip.
  4. Ask your neighbors to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity around your property when you’re gone.

The more things you can do that will help your avoid fretting and steal your peace is what you should work to get accomplished during this time.

Tip #3: Do some research

Do you want to dine at the best restaurant in town and enjoy some of the top-rated cuisines that may be cooked by well-trained chefs? If so, you should spend a bit of time researching the place you’re visiting for your getaway.

This can allow you to find some various sights that may be of great interest to you and can help you get the absolute most from your trip. There may be museums or attractions in this area that can allow you to see things to enhance the time away and enable you to enjoy it the most.

Simply taking the time to do a quick online search of the area you’re visiting can render a lot of results. Doing this can allow you to have your trip completely planned out well in advance.

If you want to make the most out of your family life, you will need to find fun things to do and make an effort to do these. It can be tough raising a family, and any marriage will need to take breaks to help it stay strong and hopefully prevent divorce. You can build a stronger union by planning small getaways on a routine basis that can allow you to relax and unwind. This will enable you to come back stronger and invigorated to deal with the daily things that occur in a family.

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How to Apply for a US Visa http://www.travelwithamate.com/apply-us-visa/ Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:55:54 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31201 A visa is the permit you need in order to travel inside and to entry the US. For those of you who don’t know, there are several types of visas. Some of them are temporary, and are useful for when you want to visit the US, while others are immigration ones, appropriate if you want ...

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A visa is the permit you need in order to travel inside and to entry the US. For those of you who don’t know, there are several types of visas. Some of them are temporary, and are useful for when you want to visit the US, while others are immigration ones, appropriate if you want to move to the US permanently. If you want to apply for a visa, then you should first decide what type you need and then look up whatever information you need. You can apply online for the visa or in person at the consulate or embassy.

Step 1. Identify the type of visa you need.

If you are just visiting the US for a brief period of time, then you need a non-immigrant visa. There are several different non-immigrant visas, such as the business visa (which you need if you attend a conference, negotiate a contract etc) or the tourist visa (if you travel in the US on vacation for sightseeing or visiting friends or family).

Step 2. See if you’re eligible for the Visa Waiver program.

This program allows you to apply for electronic authorization for traveling and staying in the US for maximum 90 days.

Step 3. Preparing for applying.

First, you should have your pictures taken. The US State Department asks you to submit pictures of yourself. There are specific requirements, such as being color, 2×2 inches, taken in the last six months etc, so you should take the photo with a visa photo service. Then, get all the documents you need, such as passport, travel itinerary (in case you travel), the dates of your last 5 trips in the US and your CV.

Step 4. Applying for the visa.

You can apply online for the nonimmigrant type of visa if you look up the Consular Electronic Application Center page. There are also some other websites that can help you with information and with applying for the visa, such as this website. You need to introduce all the details they ask for ESTA USA in the online form, including pictures and other details.

It is always a good idea to double check the information you are submitting, since there might be errors when you type the data, even if you don’t know it. Before submitting your application, you will also have to pay the fee. It costs $160 for a visa, plus an issuance fee, according to the country you live in. Remember to print and save the page with the receipt, so that you can prove later on that you made the payment.

What you need to do in the end is to attend the interview, where an officer will see if you’re eligible.

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The Hidden Benefits Of Getting Lost On Holiday http://www.travelwithamate.com/the-hidden-benefits-of-getting-lost-on-holiday/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:01:35 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31197 When you’re on holiday as a modern tourist, the chances of getting lost are far slimmer than they used to be. If you wander off from your planned route, then a few clicks on your phone or a glance at a GPS map and you’re right back on target. There’s no doubt this makes much ...

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When you’re on holiday as a modern tourist, the chances of getting lost are far slimmer than they used to be. If you wander off from your planned route, then a few clicks on your phone or a glance at a GPS map and you’re right back on target. There’s no doubt this makes much of travelling much easier. We rely on, use, and benefit from the connectivity available to us for pretty much every part of a trip.

Now, we book our holidays online. We plan our trips, carefully look through our routes, and how to schedule things to make sure we see all the things we want to see. We can view opening hours of attractions we want to visit, going as far as to buy tickets so we have one less thing to carry cash for. We can exchange our currency, buy our clothes and SPF, and we can now even check-in online. Surely, along with the travel agents and the quick dash to the Bureau De Change at the airport, getting lost is something that we can put behind us?

To an extent: yes. There’s no reason to get lost on a holiday if you have a working cellphone along for the ride. However, in the midst of all this technical prowess, is there something else we are losing?

Does Getting Lost Help You Explore?

When we can plan our routes, our pit stops, and every little detail of a holiday down to the finest details, why would we not take the chance to do so? It’s even more imperative if you are travelling through several countries at one, such as crossing the USA/Canada border or enjoying European tours that explore the lengths and breadth of a wide variety of countries. It could even be argued that not taking advantage of these modern conveniences is to be neglectful, potentially even placing yourself in danger. It’s bad enough to consider if you’re just going for a single trip to one destination for a city break, but if you’re spending a lot of time away to explore many places? It’d be madness not to plan it!

Of course, this is true. Even though to an extent this is all about arguing to the contrary, there’s no doubt that making sure you are safe, know where you are going and how to get there… it’s pretty basic stuff. You should definitely do it. And if you’re a planner who wants to make sure you can fit all the things you want to see and do into one location, then there’s nothing wrong with that either. We all have sites we want to tick off a checklist – it’s one of the many advantages of travelling, after all.

However, there is a certain beauty in getting lost. It makes you more aware of your surroundings, and it definitely makes you more likely to stumble over some hidden gem that the guidebooks and websites didn’t include. After all, the compilations of suggested visiting sites are not complete – nor are they tailored directly to you. You might not know where a highlight of a certain location would be for you, because no one has written the guide that would have highlighted it to you.

There is definitely something in just wandering around, not sure where you’re going, and following your instincts. Not only can you stumble across something you might have otherwise missed – from an ancient site to a simply great store selling locally-produced goods – but you also have a chance to get to know a place better. Following directions has a tendency to make us a little more stupid; to close our eyes and not bother to interpret what’s actually in front of us.

Isn’t Getting Lost Dangerous?

In certain cities in the world, yes, it may well be. Even metropolitan wonders like London and Paris have their not-so-great-for-travellers zones. There is a confidence to getting lost, though. If you are wandering around looking bewildered and panicked, then that’s going to make you a target for any nefarious thoughts someone may have. That’s tricky, as it’s how most of us would deal with suddenly not knowing where we were.

If you stroll with your head held high and with a purpose in mind, then you’re no longer such easy prey.

You can also make yourself less of a target by being prepared to get lost. If you run from the hotel to a store to pick up bottle water and take a wrong turn, then you’re not in a good position to be lost. You won’t be wearing suitable footwear to walk, you might not have much money on you, or your cellphone might be back at the hotel as you only thought you were going to be a few minutes. That’s a scary situation and one that should be avoided as best as possible.

 

But if you plan to get lost, then you can be ready for it. Suitably attired with a number for a local cab firm programmed into your phone, ready to speed to the rescue the moment you decide you’re not enjoying being lost anymore.

 

What’s The Best Way To Try It?

 

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As mentioned above, the best way to try is when you are prepared for it. For most of your holiday, you can focus on seeing the sites and you should definitely take the advice of those in the know with guided tours and various highlights. You can follow a schedule set for you by others that takes advantage of a local knowledge you just don’t have, even moving from country to country with relative ease.

 

However, when you get the chance, why not head out for an afternoon with no specific intention in mind? Make sure you’ve a bag on hand with all the essentials, but after that, set foot and see where the roads take you. It can open your eyes to things you otherwise would have missed and make you feel more like a legitimate traveller than you ever have before.

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Highlights of Botswana http://www.travelwithamate.com/highlights-of-botswana/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 03:19:04 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31190 A trip to Botswana allows you to experience one of the few great wildernesses left on this earth. Imagine a primordial world. Imagine the Garden of Eden. Imagine a time when flora and fauna existed in a harmonious ecological system. Africa Odyssey will give you more than you could ever imagine. Makgadikgadi Pans During the ...

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A trip to Botswana allows you to experience one of the few great wildernesses left on this earth. Imagine a primordial world. Imagine the Garden of Eden. Imagine a time when flora and fauna existed in a harmonious ecological system. Africa Odyssey will give you more than you could ever imagine.

Makgadikgadi Pans

During the day, you’ll see a brilliant expanse of white that reaches to a cerulean horizon. At night, the stars sparkle like diamonds, seeming almost close enough to touch. The overwhelming silence wraps around you, making you one with the universe.

The surreal landscape of the Makgadikgadi salt pans is surrounded by the Kalahari Desert. There was a time, far back near the beginning of the world, when a lake the size of Switzerland lay here. Twelve thousand years ago, it evaporated, leaving behind the flat expanses of salt that you see now.

During the dry season, the only plants are thin blue-green algae. The air swirls, hot and dry. It is not suitable for man nor beast. After the rains, the wildlife comes. One of Africa’s largest population of zebras graze along with wildebeest and impala, as the lions, cheetahs, leopards, jackals and hyenas stalk their prey.

Kubu Island

Rising up from the salt of the Makgadikgadi is a singular crescent-shaped formation, Kubu Island, constructed of granite, at least two billion years old, the smooth pebbles on its terraces polished long ago by the waves of the ancient lake.

Atop the granite grow baobab trees with their distinctive shape, swollen with the water they store for the dry season when large animals chew the bark to quench their thirst and smaller animals climb the branches for the nourishing fruit.

In the moonlight, when the white surface of the salt reflects off of the white granite of the rock, it is an unearthly scene of tremendous beauty.

Moremi Game Reserve

Africa Odyssey will take you to the Moremi Game Reserve that lies within the Okavango Delta, a rare landlocked delta. The Okavango River originates in the mountains of Angola and flows more than 1600 km to the delta. On its way to the Indian Ocean (or so it thinks), it fans out, creating a collage of lagoons, ox-bow lakes and thousands of islands of every size and shape, turning the delta into Africa’s largest oasis before the river’s water settles into the Kalahari sands.

The Moremi sees some of the most magnificent wildlife migrations in the world: elephants, hippos, buffalos, blue wildebeests, impalas, red lechwe, giraffes and, impalas, as well as being home to the most endangered species: cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion.

The landscape is stunning with its savannahs, dense forests, sleepy lagoons and winding rivers. For a spellbinding experience, skim along a papyryus-lined waterway, such as the Xakanaxa Lagoon. A local boatman will pole your mokoro (dugout canoe) swiftly and smoothly past lush vegetation, abundant birdlife and the occasional crocodile lazing in the sun.

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Road Trip Tech: Awesome Android Apps You’ll Want to Take With You http://www.travelwithamate.com/road-trip-tech-awesome-android-apps-youll-want-take/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:01:00 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31175 Ah… the open road. There’s nothing quite like driving off into the sunset with nothing but the wind in your hair, the asphalt under your tires and, of course, your trusty smartphone. Your android phone has the potential to become the travel buddy of your dreams, especially if you download the right apps before you ...

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Ah… the open road. There’s nothing quite like driving off into the sunset with nothing but the wind in your hair, the asphalt under your tires and, of course, your trusty smartphone.

Your android phone has the potential to become the travel buddy of your dreams, especially if you download the right apps before you head out.

Android Auto

If your vehicle isn’t already hooked up with Android Auto functionality, you can download the app, which is now available on any Android smartphone.

This app allows you to wake up your phone, use maps, play music and send messages with voice control so that you can be safer when using your phone on the road. Get this road trip essential here. 

GasBuddy

Have you ever filled up your tank just to drive past another gas station with a cheaper price? With GasBuddy, that’ll never happen to you again.

GasBuddy uses user-generated data to inform its community of the cheapest fuel prices in the area so that you never spend more on gas than you have to. Check it out at this link.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor’s app makes it easy to access information on hotels, restaurants, and things to do on your phone. You can find business hours, read reviews and learn about popular attractions near your location all in one place with this app. Download it here.

Automatic Call Recorder for Me

If you get an important phone call while you’re driving, you don’t get a chance to take notes to help you remember the information you got on the call.

You can set this app to automatically record all calls, calls from certain numbers, all incoming calls or all outgoing calls and easily access the recordings later so that you don’t forget any crucial info. Learn more at this link.

Maps.Me

When you’re exploring an unfamiliar place, it can be difficult to get around, remember your way back and know what’s around. You could use navigation apps on your phone, but data can be expensive and Wi-Fi isn’t always available. Maps.Me allows you to download maps for free so that you can use them offline and won’t get lost whether you have an Internet connection or not. Check it out here.

Automatic 

This app practically turns your car into a connected vehicle. Just plug the required device into your dash and you’ll get information on driving, maintenance needs, and gas usage. It also allows you to track your vehicle so you never lose it in the parking lot again. Get more information here.

iExit

This app is perfect for finding the amenities you need while on the highway. You can search for certain businesses or view what’s available near you. Whether you need a bite to eat, a hotel, an ATM, gas or other services, iExit has you covered. Learn morehere.

 

Findery

Findery is like a virtual tour guide for wherever you happen to find yourself. Users of the app mark places of interest and can add photos, information, tips, and personal stories.

Not only does this app help you find interesting spots, it lets people who have been there tell you about them and allows you to share your experiences with others. Download it here.

Today’s road trippers have an advantage over the travelers of years past. They can use their smartphones to guide them on their adventures, help them find cool locations, save them money and keep them safe. Makes sure you load up at least a few of these apps before you head out on your next road trip.

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Getting Ready for Your Cross Country Motorcycle Trip http://www.travelwithamate.com/getting-ready-cross-country-motorcycle-trip/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 05:40:20 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31169 The wind howling in your ears, the fantastic scenery speeding by, the roar of the motorcycle that comes alive with all of the endless straightaways and every single twist and turn… these are the reasons we ride. For motorcycle aficionados, the ultimate getaway is the chance to see all of the different parts of America ...

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The wind howling in your ears, the fantastic scenery speeding by, the roar of the motorcycle that comes alive with all of the endless straightaways and every single twist and turn… these are the reasons we ride. For motorcycle aficionados, the ultimate getaway is the chance to see all of the different parts of America with two wheels under you. It is the essence of freedom. Before you take to the open road on your epic trip across the country, here are a few tips that will help you to prepare for the journey.

Paperwork

Which states will you be traveling through? States have various requirements and these requirements can differ depending on the state you are in. Be sure to find out what the laws are for each state that you will be passing through.

Another thing that can vary depending on the state are the requirements for insurance coverage. After you have determined the minimum levels of insurance coverage that are required by each state, check over your insurance policy to make sure that it meets those requirements. If it doesn’t, check to see what it would take to get it to the level you will need. You might also want to check the motorcycle insurance rates of different companies to make sure that you get the best deal.

Remember that when you are taking a motorcycle trip to New Mexico, or anywhere else in the country, it is always a good idea to have comprehensive and collision insurance coverage as well as the standard liability. If you will also have a guest riding with you, you might even want to check to see if you can get guest liability coverage from your regular insurance provider.

Prepare the Bike

You can tour on nearly any type of motorcycle nowadays, but if you really want to be comfortable on a motorcycle trip, a big bike will be your best bet. Trips, even short ones, on a motorcycle can be fraught with danger. You never know what can happen, so it is best to always be prepared.

Once you know what type of bike you will be hitting the highways on, you need to ensure that it is in perfect mechanical condition. You can do this yourself if you are a mechanically inclined type of person, or you can get a mechanic to give it a once over. Get the fluids changed and topped off. Change the tires and get a new battery. Also, always ensure that you have a good set of tools in your saddle bag.

Keep it Secure

No matter how well you plan your trip, things can happen. You might end up staying in nice places (hopefully), but, then again, you might not. Either way, it is always recommended that you lock your motorcycle and that you have a way to lock the wheels as well. This is the only way to keep bike thieves from making your ride disappear.

Consider carrying two keys with you for each lock on your bike. Carry one of those keys either attached to your belt or in your pocket and the matching key should be deep in your bags in case you misplace the other one. Also, a disc lock is highly recommended. These locks are strong, small, and a fairly good deterrent. However, they will not stop someone who is armed with a lift and can just carry your bike away according to their whim. To stop them from doing that, you will need to use a heavy duty chain or cable lock in order to tie your motorcycle to a very solid structure. Be advised though, these can be bulky and will add weight to your saddle bag. If they save your bike from being stolen, it will be well worth the extra weight.

Rider Necessities

You will also need to keep yourself protected from the elements as well as from the road, should there be an accident. Your clothing and accessories should include things like a leather jacket, chaps, gloves – either full fingered or fingerless, doo rags, some sort of face mask, sunglasses, and a rain suit. You will also need a helmet, even if the state laws don’t require it. A helmet can save your life.

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6 tips for planning a trip to London http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-tips-planning-trip-london/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:44:13 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31162 London, one of the most populous cities of England, is also the capital of the country and is extremely popular among the visitors from across the work. A 21st century city, London is  contemporarily designed cities which has its roots in the Roman times. With London Eye and Big Ben, London has established itself as ...

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London, one of the most populous cities of England, is also the capital of the country and is extremely popular among the visitors from across the work. A 21st century city, London is  contemporarily designed cities which has its roots in the Roman times. With London Eye and Big Ben, London has established itself as a prominent city on the global map.

If you are planning a trip to London, and are little apprehensive about the visit, about how would you manage in this new city and what vital points you need to consider. So, here are 6 important points which you must consider before you visit London.

Thursdays are the New Fridays In London

On the Thursday evenings, all the Londoners are all set to enjoy and let off some serious steam. In London, the Thursday nights are the perfect time of the week to go out. Most of the pubs, bars and restaurants are open till midnight, and are filled with the locals flaunting an amazing atmosphere.

Book an Airport Taxi Service

While arriving in a new city like London, one needs to plan the to the hotel, in order to avoid any hassles in finding an appropriate taxi service from the airport. If you are wondering about where you can book a reliable airport taxi service for the airport transfers, then check this link. From here, you can easily make online bookings at highly cost-effective prices.

Be Ready For the Pesky 12.5% Service Charge

If you are not aware with the fact, then, you must know that most of the restaurants add an additional service charge of 12.5% to your final bill. While it is more common in restaurants, but some bars also add this charge to your drinks bill.

Oxford Street is Not the Only Shopping Destination

For shopaholics, London is no less than a shopping heaven, here they can find any upmarket brand and some of the most inimitable stuff. While many visitors straightway head to the Oxford street, but its way too much crowded on Saturdays. There are many other streets, such as Regent Street, Westfield Shopping Centre, The Kings Road, Covent Garden where you can buy many good things.

Take the Bus

The red bus in London is one of the most popular rides in the city, and with cheaper tickets and availability of seats most of the time, it is certainly a better option when compared to the tube. Wherever you are in London, the nearest bus stop will never be more than 5 minutes walk away from that point.

Take Restaurant Recommendations from the Locals

Instead of using the internet every time to get information about the city, it is wise to ask the locals. No one can give you better advice and opinions as the locals of the city can, especially when it comes to food and eateries. So, always ask the locals for the restaurant recommendations.

The aforementioned points will certainly help you out with a lot of things when you visit London, the capital city of England.

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Top Tips and Tech to Smooth Your Path to Success http://www.travelwithamate.com/top-tips-tech-smooth-path-success/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:35:49 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31158 Whether long-term traveling around the world or taking shorter, more frequent trips, it’s estimated over 32,000,000 people travelled overseas from the US alone in 2015. With traveling consistently on the rise with more and more people choosing to branch out and explore new places, one specific activity has also increased in popularity too: travel writing. ...

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Whether long-term traveling around the world or taking shorter, more frequent trips, it’s estimated over 32,000,000 people travelled overseas from the US alone in 2015. With traveling consistently on the rise with more and more people choosing to branch out and explore new places, one specific activity has also increased in popularity too: travel writing.

Writing about travel experiences is a concept many choose to try out, simply because it allows you to re-live your experience and share it with other like-minded people. However, with the world of blogging being more saturated than ever before, it can be difficult to achieve success with travel writing. But, if you’re truly passionate and determined to make your mark in the travel writing world, here are a few tips and useful apps you can use to boost your path to success.

Choose the right locations

As with any form of writing, the content must be engaging and provide value to the reader. So, establish the direction you want your writing to go, and select locations and topics based on that. Then, once you’ve built up some sort of following, go ahead and ask your readers which places they’d like to learn about next!

Staying consistent is essential when trying to make it as a travel writer, and choosing locations that have some sort of theme or trend to them is sure to give you a unique voice your readers will want to hear.

Alarm Clock for Me

When travel writing, it’s crucial to make the most of every single place you visit. If you get lazy and find yourself missing out on important activities or sight-seeing opportunities, your content will suffer.

To counteract this and ensure you’re always refreshed and ready to throw yourself into the experience, Alarm Clock for Me is a great app to help regulate and maintain the best possible sleeping pattern for your system. Available right now on Google Play, this app features an innovative sleep timer that plays white noise or relaxing music to efficiently lull you to sleep. So, if you’re still buzzing from the day’s activities but know you need to wake up bright and early, this feature is a sure-fire method for inducing relaxation and sleep.

Instagram

By far one of the most popular apps of our generation, Instagram has taken photo sharing to a whole new level. An essential part of travel writing is to have amazing photos, and Instagram is the perfect platform to make your pictures look as good as possible.

Better still, you can even place a link to your Instagram page to any piece you write, giving readers the chance to browse through all your pictures in conjunction with reading your work!

Traveling is often hailed as an important life experience, with more people than ever wanting to branch out into travel writing. But as long as you find your individual voice, make time to do as many fun activities as possible and keep your content consistent, you’re chances of success will be much higher.

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Sensible Strategies for Enjoying Train Travel with Kids http://www.travelwithamate.com/sensible-strategies-enjoying-train-travel-kids/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:28:12 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31154 Taking a train trip with your kids can be very exciting for them and a bit fretful too if they don’t know what to expect and how to cope with traveling a different way to usual. Here is a look at some ways to make the adventure go smoothly and allow your kids to the ...

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Taking a train trip with your kids can be very exciting for them and a bit fretful too if they don’t know what to expect and how to cope with traveling a different way to usual.

Here is a look at some ways to make the adventure go smoothly and allow your kids to the chance to enjoy traveling by train. Including a tip to start the day well before you board the train, a reminder to remember sleep patterns, and some entertainment and food options to keep everyone happy.

Give yourself plenty of time

Stress levels for parents and kids are immediately raised when you have to make a mad dash to board the train before it leaves the station.

Don’t start the day off in a bad way by not giving yourself enough time to get to the station and take a look around before it is time to climb aboard.

It would be a good idea to encourage your child’s natural curiosity anyway, so try to give yourself at least thirty minutes and maybe an hour before your departure time, so that you can relax at the station and let the kids take in all the sights and sounds.

Try to think about sleep

If you are traveling with a young child or baby who still has a sleep during the day, it would be a wise idea to try and plan your journey around that regular pattern.

Traveling during the expected naptime won’t be a problem if you are fully prepared and make sure you bring all their usual comfort items like their favorite toy or blanket. It would also be a good move to bring your stroller with you so that they can go to sleep in there if the carriage is crowded or it is easier to snuggle them down in a familiar item.

 

Entertainment options

A train journey can be considered entertainment in its own right but after they have finished looking out of the window and exploring the train, you want to have a few options on hand to keep them entertained.

You will have to be practical with what you pack as you don’t want to be carrying loads of books, toys, and games around with you, but there are plenty of things you can take that fit the bill.

Alongside the traditional card games and books that are easy to pack, you can also make good use of your smartphone by downloading some useful apps that they could use for entertainment.

The mandala coloring book app could be a good option, as it is an activity that appeals to all ages and will keep them busy for hours. If you are going to load some arcade game options as well, remind your children of the need to respect other passengers and ask them to turn the sound down so that others don’t have to listen to the sound effects too.

Plenty to eat

You don’t want anyone in your party going hungry during the train journey as that is bound to make them restless and can lead to a few tantrums.

If you are on a long-distance route there should be a restaurant car to cater for your needs, but it would be a good backup plan to have plenty of snacks and drinks to hand as well.

Most kids seem to enjoy the idea of traveling by train and if you are fully prepared for the journey, it can be a great way to enjoy some family fun and reach your chosen destination.

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Great Ways to De-Stress on Holiday http://www.travelwithamate.com/great-ways-de-stress-holiday/ Thu, 16 Mar 2017 04:59:41 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31146 Many of us in the modern world struggle with stress. There is just so much going on and our lives move at such a fast pace. It can be hard to unwind. One of the best ways to relax is taking a holiday. However, when you’ve got a lot going on, it can still be ...

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Many of us in the modern world struggle with stress. There is just so much going on and our lives move at such a fast pace. It can be hard to unwind. One of the best ways to relax is taking a holiday. However, when you’ve got a lot going on, it can still be difficult to relax and forget your troubles when you are away from home. Here are some great tips to help you to do just that.

Prepare Your Home

No one likes going away, only to return home to a messy, cluttered house with lots to do as soon as you walk through the door. So, give your home a good spring clean before you go. Spring cleaning not only helps you relax with less to worry about while you are away; it also means you can ease back into everyday life upon your return.

Organise

Plan in advance. Any last-minute rushes will only succeed in making you feel more stressed. So, write a list of anything you need to do. Make sure you have everything you need, including passports, money, visas, insurance, travel arrangements, and any holiday clothes, in plenty of time. Then, pack, with a few days to spare.

Rest Beforehand

Once you are all packed and ready to go, spend the last few days before you travel resting as much as possible. Even if you are working, enjoy getting home and having nothing to do. Treat yourself to a spring-themed bingo game from Ladbrokes or read a book. Whatever it takes to get you into that chilled-out holiday mood.

Cut Down Phone Time

Once you arrive, try to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone messaging, surfing the web, or reading emails. Leave the real world at home. While it may not be possible, or practical, to avoid your phone completely, set yourself rules, and stick to them. Have a certain time each day that you check on family, but no more.

Have a Social Media Break

Social media is terrible for making us feel bad. Try to avoid it, especially if you are traveling in peak holiday time and a lot of others will be posting about their holidays. You will only start to compare, and feel jealous. Leave posting your photos until you get home.

Talk

If you are dealing with any problems, be sure to talk them through. Either, before you travel, or at the start of your holiday. Bottling things up will lead to more stress and sometimes it’s easier to talk away from home. But, then try your best to move on, and enjoy yourself.

Budget

One of the main stresses when it comes to holidays, is money. The best way to avoid any holiday related money worries is to make a budget, and ensure you stick to it.

Holidays are a great way to unwind, relax, and have some fun. The downtime can also help you spot solutions to your problems, and put things into perspective. However, you won’t get any of these benefits if you are too stressed out to enjoy yourself. Follow these tips, and remember, you deserve a break. Then, let go, and chill out.

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6 Great Things to Do During Your Jiuzhaigou Tour http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-great-things-jiuzhaigou-tour/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 07:51:20 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31128 Have you ever heard about heaven on earth? Maybe they were talking about Jiuzhaigou. Located in the mountainous region of Sichuan Province, China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a popular UNESCO world Heritage Site with charming natural scenery of colorful lakes, majestic waterfalls, red maple leaves and spectacular forest. Here are 6 awesome things you could do during your ...

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Have you ever heard about heaven on earth? Maybe they were talking about Jiuzhaigou. Located in the mountainous region of Sichuan Province, China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a popular UNESCO world Heritage Site with charming natural scenery of colorful lakes, majestic waterfalls, red maple leaves and spectacular forest. Here are 6 awesome things you could do during your Jiuzhaigou tour.

Enjoy the Magic Water

There is a saying that “one enjoys no better water sceneries after visiting Jiuzhaigou”. If you have ever come to Jiuzhaigou, you would be shocked by the 114 lakes and pools and 5 waterfalls.

The water in Jiuzhaigou is so clean that you can stand by the bank of a lake seeing fished swimming around. Sometimes the water is crystal, sometimes it’s blue and sometimes it changes to green, which is a magic scenery in the world.

One of the most famous lakes in Jiuzhaigou Valley is named Panda Lake because giant pandas in Jiuzhaigou used to coming here to drink and look for food. Another lake that you should not miss is Long Lake, the largest lake in Jiuzhaigou. Long Lake is in dark blue and looks like a large piece of jewel lied among the snow mountains.

Pearl Beach Waterfall is one of the most representative attractions in Jiuzhaigou. Being different from other lakes, it has a soft sandy beach with a bridge over it. The water run under the bridge and cause banked waves. These little water drops of waves were called pearl by the local people.

Appreciate Red Maple Leaves

The best scenery in Jiuzhaigou occurs in every autumn when the maple leaves turn to red, the water remain blue and peaks of mountains start to blanch constituting a contrasting picture. You can just use your mobile phone to shoot beautiful photos.

The best time to visit Jiuzhaigou for the red leaves is from late September to early November. The leaves slowly turn to red from green and yellow and golden, and finally it might be purple. Different colors mix together making the autumn lively and energetic.

However, from October to November, it is always difficult to book tickets and accommodations because the beautiful scenery attracts numerous people to come to Jiuzhaigou. It is suggested to book your trip to Jiuzhaigou in advance if you plan to visit this fairy land during these months.

Hike in Jiuzhaigou

If you want to fully immerse in Jiuzhaigou, you could try to trek there. You can buy a tour-bus ticket at the entrance, take the tour bus up to the virgin forest, and use one day to walk back so that it wouldn’t be too tired but you can still enjoy the sceneries.

From Virgin Forest, you can go with the signs to Swan Lake and then Grass Lake. Then, you can take the tour-bus from Grass Lake to Giant Panda Lake, walk from which to Pearl Beach Waterfall, and then Mirror Lake. Taking tour-bus to Nuorilang Restaurant for your lunch is the last thing you should do in the morning.

In the afternoon, you can stick to this routine: Nuorilang – (bus) – Five Color Lake – (bus) – Valentine beach – (walk) – Tiger lake – (walk) – Shuzheng Waterfall  – (walk) –  Shuzheng Lakes – (bus) – Sparkling Lake – (walk) – Reed Lake(walk) – Bonsail Shoals.

The gallery roads along the attractions are well-built, so don’t worry about the traffic. What you need is a pair of comfortable boot and a ventilate coat. And it may take you 1 day to finish this routine.

Have a Lakeside Picnic

There is only one restaurant in the Jiuzhaigou Park, which is called Nuorilang Restaurant inside Nuorilang Tourism Service Center. You can buy some food there, which is mainly Chinese food, or you can take some food with you before you leave the accommodation in the morning.

You can sit and lie down near the lakes, and enjoy your snacks with your friends. Eating with this beautiful view benefits your mood and your feelings. After finishing your picnic, please remember to clear your trashes before you go.

Visit Local Tibetan Village

Jiuzhaigou is named for 9 Tibetan villages which are located near the Shuzheng Valley, selling small products, souvenirs, snacks and handicrafts. Accept for Shuzheng, Heye, and Zechawa village, there is also Rexi in the smaller Zaru Valley and behind Heye village are Jianpan, Panya and Yana villages. Guodu and Hejiao villages are no longer populated.

You can feel the Tibetan culture in these villages, and know more about their lifestyle and attitude towards the world, which is totally and widely different from fast-paced modern life.

Watch ‘The Mystery of Tibet’Show

The most grandiose and famous dance and music concert in Jiuzhaigou is The Mystery of Tibet. There are 1000 seats for tourists. Some popular traditional ethnic Chinese artists like Rongzhongerjia and Yang Liping have performed here.

This concert shows the spirit of Tibetan people, tells a moving story, delivers a kind of belief, and provides a good channel for people to know more about Tibet and Jiuzhaigou Valley.

The show time of The Mystery of Tibet is from 7 pm to 8 pm every night, which is not too long to hold your other plans back.

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Yelloh! Village Le Ridin http://www.travelwithamate.com/yelloh-village-le-ridin/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:44:31 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31114 Camping might not be the first thing we think of when planning a holiday in France. But maybe it should be. Why tread those same worn paths of holidays past? Most of us work at the same place five days a week, travel the same routes, go to the same neighborhood restaurants—you get what I ...

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Camping might not be the first thing we think of when planning a holiday in France. But maybe it should be. Why tread those same worn paths of holidays past? Most of us work at the same place five days a week, travel the same routes, go to the same neighborhood restaurants—you get what I mean.

Why not break out of the sameness of our lives? A holiday is the perfect time to realign our spirits, and camping at Yelloh! Village Le Ridin is the perfect way to do it. Conveniently located in northwest France, Le Ridin is only four hours, more or less, from London by car or train. So convenient that if you prefer to wade rather than dive into this new adventure, you can book for a long weekend between 1 March and 1 October.

Also, if you’re not ready to pitch a tent, rent a cottage and have all the comforts of home. I haven’t mentioned yet how very affordable these camping villages are, have I? You’ll see that when you price the cottages. Cottages accommodate two, four or six people, and then there’s the large villa for groups of eight to ten.

In the village itself, there are swimming pools and water games and, when you’d like some private time, a Jacuzzi. When you’d like some pampering, there is a spa with hydro massage and chronotherapy. Nearby you will find Henson horses, a paintball arena and a rock-climbing wall, among other activities.

Also nearby is the Baie de Somme with its white-chalk cliffs, pristine beaches and, maybe most fascinating of all, a seal colony! The area has a raw, primeval beauty palette of colors that inspired some of France’s greatest artists, such as Delacroix, Degas and Corot.

While you are there, immerse yourself in the “Belle Epoque,” France’s period of artistic grandeur in the late 19th-early 20th centuries on the Chemin de Fer (“path of iron” i.e. railway), an enchanting steam train that will take you gently through the meadows and marshes of Baie de Somme and the Côte Picarde with their wonderland of carefully conserved flora and fauna.

Along the 27-kilometre route, discover the commune of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme with its medieval charm and fortifications, Gothic church, and boardwalk that borders the bay. The commune also includes the Picardie Museum that takes you back to the 19th century with the locksmith in his workshop, the farrier and the basket-maker—forty trades in all and more than 6,000 tools.

Across the bay is the commune of Le Crotoy, known for its fishing economy and excellent bird watching certainly, but also as the place where Joan of Arc was imprisoned before being taken to Rouen, Jules Vern wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Toulouse-Lautrec painted.

Back at the ranch—and by that I mean the village, you will begin to plan what you will do on your next holiday at Le Ridin, because we haven’t even scratched the surface. We haven’t talked about the cities of Rue and Amiens with their treasures, the Hauts-de-France region and the Bagatelle Amusement Park. We haven’t talked about the “thousand and one” (methinks there is some artistic license there— but then I’ve never counted!) paths to hike and bike. The boat rides, sand sailing and kayaking. So much more to tell you, but that’s for another time or you can check this other article I wrote for Yelloh! Village.

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How to Spend a Weekend in London with a Difference http://www.travelwithamate.com/spend-weekend-london-difference/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:55:12 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31107 Whether you’re travelling to London for the first time or the hundredth time, you’ll no doubt want to make sure this weekend away is one to remember. And with so much to offer, you needn’t do the standard touristy things, such as going on the London Eye or visiting the Tower of London. Whilst these ...

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Whether you’re travelling to London for the first time or the hundredth time, you’ll no doubt want to make sure this weekend away is one to remember. And with so much to offer, you needn’t do the standard touristy things, such as going on the London Eye or visiting the Tower of London. Whilst these are great, cultural things to do – why not have a go at making your visit to London a unique one?

With that in mind, here are some cool ideas for your next city break to London:

Go to the Markets

If you like to grab a bargain and you love to go to markets, you’ll not be disappointed with what’s on offer in London. For example, Borough Market boasts plenty of fresh fruit and veg, scrumptious street food and lots of baked treats. Or, if you’re looking for vintage clothes, antique furniture and plenty of bric-a-brac, you might want to head down to Brick Lane Market. And don’t forget to venture to Columbia Road, where you’ll find trees, bulbs, shrubs and plants, which are perfect for the discerning gardener.

Just remember – if you are going to spend your weekend touring the markets, you might want to book an apartment (like Urban Retreats Apartments, for example) because then you’ll have somewhere to store all your buys, and cook your produce!

Explore Its Quirky Cuisine

London is renowned for its food, and its Michelin-star restaurants in particular. But you needn’t spend a fortune on food while you’re travelling around London. There are plenty of unique restaurants to dine in, including the Rainforest Café, which boasts a tropical theme and is aimed towards the kids. Or, if you’re a fan of Forest Gump, you may want to head down to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. This cool restaurant has been based on the film and is centred around Alabama and the main characters. Plus, you can enjoy everything from jambalaya to grilled steaks!

Brace Yourself for a Ghost Tour

Because London’s steeped in history, there’s plenty of tales to tell, and some of these have a ghostly element to them. So why not book yourself on one of the ghost tours that are available and put on your bravest face? For example, you may want to visit the Black Lion Pub in Hammersmith as it’s believed to be haunted by Thomas Millwood. He was mistakenly shot in 1803 because someone thought he was, rather ironically, the original Hammersmith Ghost who had been terrorising the area. However, it was later revealed that this was, in fact, a shoemaker, John Graham, who’d been dressing up to scare people.

One thing’s for sure, whatever you like to do in your spare time, there’s something on offer in London – from unique sightseeing tours to gastronomic events.

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