Travel & Days Out

Places to go, do, see and explore.

Natural Health Travel Health Essentials For Your Hand Luggage

Here are 3 small, but incredibly useful additions to your summer holiday medicine kit. They are all ideally sized to throw in your handbag as you rush out of the door after the kids on summer day trips too.

Headaches

First up is a product to soothe your headache – the Arkopharma Migrastick, an all-natural alternative to conventional painkillers which uses 100% pure and natural essential oils to help relieve pain caused by headaches and migraines.

Simply roll over temples, forehead or nape of the neck using circular massage movements.

The Migrastick with its rollerball

I was a little sceptical, I admit but it has a refreshing smell and is surprisingly cooling and long-lasting when applied to the temples.  I think it would certainly help soothe a brewing headache when you are miles away from a pharmacy.

A note of warning though,  you cannot use this product if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or if you suffer from epilepsy.  And, it’s not for use on children under the age of 12.

Migrastick is small enough to have on you at all times. It’s also reasonably priced at £6.29 and is available from Amazon, Holland & Barrett and selected independent pharmacies and health stores nationwide.

Nausea and travel sickness

If you suffer from traveller’s tummy or are feeling a bit nauseous from too much sun, try The Ginger People’s Gin Gins CARAMEL – Tasty ginger and caramel sweets. They contain a massive 30% ginger per sweet.

Working mainly in the digestive tract, ginger helps to boost digestive fluids and neutralize acids, making it an effective alternative to anti-nausea medication, without the possible unpleasant side effects. These are ideal travel sweets to keep in the car’s glove compartment to calm wobbly tummies without having to break out the travel sickness pills.

Gin Gins from The Ginger People

They taste like a zingy, ginger, more chewy version of Werther’s Originals and certainly have a kick to them. The ginger may also help mums to be fighting morning sickness. Gin Gins Caramel are available from Amazon and Holland & Barrett stores nationwide.

Mosquito Menace

Finally, there is Zap-It!  I don’t know about you but mosquitoes and midges seem to love biting me in the hot weather. They have a way of putting a real dampener on things when you’re outside, with their dive-bombing and blood-sucking antics.

So whether you’re backpacking through South America, camping at a festival, out for a run or just barbecuing in your back garden (guess which one I do the most of!), Zap-It! is a handy gadget in your armoury against those big, angry red bites.

It can be used as and when required by all the family, but not on babies less than 2 years of age.

Zap-It! will stop the itching and reduce the swelling of the bite (but note: it will not remove toxins or infection).  You simply place the flat end of the gadget on to the bite on your skin, hold the Zap-It! between your first 2 fingers and squeeze the button with your thumb.

Press the button quickly, 5 times or more as soon as possible after being bitten for fast relief.  The Zap-It! will also work through light fabrics.

Each Zap-It! will relieve up to 1,000 bites – enough for many years of bites or itches! It is available in different colours from selected health stores, pharmacies, garden centres, all Asda shops and Superdrug. Zap-It! is also available online from Amazon or www.ecobrands.co.uk.

Three cheap, simple items that are easy to throw in your bag.  What are your must-have travel health essentials?

How To Plan For The Greatest Holiday Possible

Just having a holiday is fantastic all on its own, but our time away can always be improved. Everyone knows and probably is familiar with how things can go wrong during a holiday, which is why we should plan our vacations as best we can. True, even the best of plans can still get ruined, but there are many ways in your hands to control how things will go. Excluding some unexpected events, here is what you can do to ensure that you have the best holiday possible.

Before you go

The best way to ruin a holiday is by worrying about things back home. Before you travel, make sure to tend to things like unpaid bills, urgent house repairs, home security, or what you plan to do with your vehicle while away. The whole point of a holiday is to get away from these responsibilities, not to take them along with you.

Vacation of a Lifetime

People love to dream about “the vacation of a lifetime.” Truth be told, you can make every vacation special and treat every holiday like the vacation of a lifetime; it doesn’t matter where you go, what you do, or how long you stay. A simple weekend getaway could be a once in a lifetime experience when you spend each day doing the things you love and make you happy.

Avoid Peak Times

Holidays are a notoriously busy time for travel. You’ll be lucky if you can even book an airline ticket. Even if you do, it might be during an inconvenient time for you, and you can expect cancellations or very long waits at most airports. To avoid having your trip ruined before it even starts, the BitLux team suggests you consider booking a private jet charter. These private charters can take you to almost any state and you can find several international options also.

You won’t have to fight tooth and nail to get a booking that suits your schedule, avoid the crowds and the unpredictability of airports, and get a free online quote. That way, you can kickstart your holiday early!

Do Something New

You will never know the benefits of trying something new until you try it. Lots of us are creatures of habit. We go on holiday once, have a great time at a particular location, and keep going back to the same location every year.

Understandably, you would want to repeat an amazing experience. However, there are tons of amazing experiences and places in this beautiful world of ours, so why limit yourself? Even if you have private reasons why you want to spend a holiday in a particular location each year, at the very least you can try different activities, stay at a different place, try different foods, and so on. Trying something new means learning something new and experiencing new feelings of happiness and contentment. Plus, you’ll have new things to tell everyone about when you get back.

Too Little vs. Too Much

We can all be perfectly happy just resting on holiday, free from obligations, and away from no-fun stuff. But, most likely, you’ll want to do some activities. If you have nothing to do, you’ll get bored, and if you include too many activities in your itinerary, you’ll be overwhelmed and exhausted. Moreover, unless you have a lot of time, you probably won’t be able to do all the things you have planned.

Strike a balance of the activities you want to do; don’t do too little nor too much because extremes aren’t good. Prioritize your activities and where you want to go. Go for quality over quantity. Create an itinerary but keep in mind that it has to be reasonable, so don’t get carried away.

Second Guess Reviews

There’s no doubt that we depend on reading reviews for everything and anything. We sometimes even read reviews on products or services that we have no intention of buying, at least not in the near future.

Reviews are good, but very subjective. What one person finds horrible another might find heavenly. That’s very confusing and leaves you shuffling back and forth trying to decide on where to stay, where to go, where to eat, where to go for the best entertainment, as well as all other aspects of your holiday. There’s a whole bunch of things you can find out about your destination spot from the locals, so take reviews with a pinch of salt.

For a super holiday, treat everyone like a once-in-a-lifetime event, and be open to all the wonderful moments you can have if you take the time to plan ahead. The effort you put in advance will surely pay off later. Even if your vacation has a bumpy start, make sure to end it on a positive note. When you do that, your holiday cheer will linger with you for quite some time.

Tips For Coping With A Child’s Car Sickness

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being gradually lifted, many of us are planning if not a holiday then a day out or too.  For longer stays this involves making endless lists, bulk buying toiletries and trying to summon up the energy to do the packing. On top of this, there’s extra stress if you are travelling long distances by car or if you or your children suffer from car sickness.

I wasn’t too bad as a child but my sister would be looking green before we’d travelled more than a couple of miles!  Cue much packing of potties and urgent pitstops in lay-bys.

My dad gave me some sensible advice about assembling a basic kit for coping with car sickness.  He suggested carrying a large plastic box in the boot with a change of clothes per child, including towels, wet wipes and also a big bottle of soapy water for quick clean-ups. He also advised carrying travel potties or old ice cream cartons.

My parents used to give my sister Sarah and I travel sickness pills and packets of Wrigley’s Double Mint chewing gum to give us something to focus on.  And we quickly learned that reading whilst the car was moving was a no-no!.

I asked some of my fellow parenting bloggers how they cope with the nightmare of car sickness and they had much wisdom to share.

Tips for dealing with car sickness

Here are a few of their suggestions which also include advice for travelling on ferries and planes.

Shannon says “maybe not for a child for fear of them choking. How about lollipops? Or even a chewy toffee or sweet?”.  [sarbthoughts.blogspot.com]

Mary says “My nephew used to really travel sick even on short journeys but it all stopped when he used child travel bands. He’s just left Uni so I don’t think it’s an issue any more, but they certainly saved us all having empty ice cream tubs in our car when we’d take him out!  With ferries – don’t sit at the front of the boat or look at the horizon.” [Over 40 And A Mum To One]

Claire says “I always had a pack of wipes, plastic bags and spare clothes. Keep a window open to let air in. Don’t let them drink milk, and strong juice before the drive or during. Keep snacks light.” [familypanelreviews.co.uk]

Helen says “I had really bad travel sickness as a child and the only thing that worked was a bobble on my wrist. The ones with the metal bit pressed on the inside of my wrist. Not sure how safe it is but it 100% worked”.

Lisa of Travellovingfamily.com has a great post about coping with travel sickness on aeroplanes.

Tips from a Flight Attendant – Preventing Travel Sickness

Mellissa says “When all else fails Kwells is great and suitable for those over 10. You can take one as soon as you feel ill although it is better to take one 20 minutes before the journey.” [Flydryexplore.com]

Rebecca says “Avoid dairy products before you travel if you suffer from travel sickness, they seem to make it worse! Two of my children suffer badly but not so bad if they’ve not had dairy products.” [www.mumof3boys.co.uk]

Sophie says “For ferries, I discovered that laying in a chair like you’re in a rubber ring (if that makes sense) helps because the sensation is more like bobbing along on a lazy river” [onetenzeroseven]

Coral says “I was only car sick in smooth cars never in land rovers or lorries. Was told sitting on a newspaper prevented it. Mind over matter I guess. Doesn’t help in a cyclone in Fiji though. Avoid reading and devices. Look at the horizon. I talked a person out of seasickness on a ferry. NLP and hypnosis can work.” [Travellingcoral.com]

Michelle says “My parents used to give me child travel sickness tablets & anti sickness wristbands.” [Looking For The Silver Lining]

Katy says “Distraction can be a fantastic way to ease the anxiety of a child who gets sick on long journeys. Often the anxiety can be what makes the child feel unwell. Packing toys, games or even a tablet can be a great way to distract a child!” [www.katykicker.com]

Rebecca Ali says “My mum used to keep a cool bag with ice-cold water or go to the on-boat bar and get some ice which used to help loads (especially on boats and planes). Cars I was okay with but my granny always uses limacol in the car – it’s a super strong lemon-lime scented thing that she’d rub on a cloth and breathe and apparently that helped her from her youth to now.” [Pocahontas Jane]

So there you have it – quite a few votes for wristbands which I’m off to try.  Otherwise, I’ll be relying on travel sickness tablets for children and a big bucket safely stowed in the boot!

Do you have any tips to add?  Please share them in the comments below.

5 Tips for Visiting Las Vegas

Las Vegas is an extremely notorious destination for tourists. The city has a reputation for being wild and unpredictable, so many people don’t know how to prepare for a Vegas trip. It’s easy to get caught up in the vices of the city like gambling and partying, and making the wrong decisions can get you in some serious trouble financially. Thankfully there are some things that you can do to prepare for your Vegas trip that will ensure that your vacation runs smoothly. What exactly are these tricks that you can employ while in Sin City? Here are five tips for visiting Las Vegas.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Travel Out of Season

Vegas has lots of hotels and large gathering places, which makes the city a great place to host various conventions. Many organizations and industries take advantage of this, hosting their conventions within the city. Some of these conventions may attract thousands of people at a time, and there may be more than one convention happening at any given time. As you might expect, when a convention is going on in the city, rooms fill up quickly, and those that still remain get jacked up in price. As a result, if you’re looking to save money on lodging costs, then a quick search to ensure that no large conventions are going on during your travels would be wise. 

Pack Warmer Clothes

Many people assume that since Vegas is in the desert that the area’s climate will always be warm, but that isn’t always the case. Nights in Vegas can get pretty chilly, especially during the later months of the year. While you certainly don’t need to bring a winter coat to be warm, a light jacket or sweater to throw on while you’re cold can certainly suffice. Even during the summer, you may want to even pack a light jacket. Casinos, bars, and hotels will often crank the AC up to avoid the desert heat, often overcompensating and turning the inside temperatures freezing. Having a light jacket or sweater in your bag can be a great way to stay warm if you ever have to deal with something like this. 

Set a Gambling Budget

If you’re visiting Vegas, then chances are you’re going to try your hand at gambling at least once or twice. There are dozens of casinos in the city, and gambling and Vegas are essentially synonymous at this point. Despite how fun and exhilarating gambling can be, it can also be extremely dangerous and addictive. Sure you can win lots of money gambling, but you could also gain absolutely nothing and waste all of your time and money. Many Vegas trips can be absolutely ruined by gambling too much, as those with little self-control could find themselves absolutely cleaned out by Vegas casinos. Before you take your trip, set a hard cap for how much you can spend on gambling. Once you lose that amount of money, it’s time to stop and walk away. You don’t want to regret a great Vegas trip simply due to bad mistakes from gambling, so this is a great way to prevent that from happening. 

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Choose Meal Times Wisely

Just like how travel times to Vegas have peak times, so too do Vegas meal times. After a long day of partying and gambling, Vegas visitors will want to unwind with some amazing food before finishing off the night at the club. The prime time to grab some dinner in Vegas is usually in the middle of the evening, and during this time period restaurants fill up. Not only is it extremely difficult to find someplace to go without a reservation during this window of time, but most establishments also hike up their prices when it’s time for dinner. Due to this, it’s probably in the best interest for your sanity’s sake and your wallet that you either get dinner really early or really late in order to avoid the long Vegas lines.  

Helicopter Tours

Vegas is an absolutely gorgeous city, which is just one of the many reasons why people love visiting the city. One of the best ways to experience the city is through one of the many helicopter tours that various businesses have to offer. While on one of these tours you can take in all of the glory of Vegas, seeing just about everything that the city has to offer from the air. You can see famous sights around the city as well as the gorgeous skyline. Who knows, you may even want to aerially scout out locations for Las Vegas houses for sale, being so impressed with the city that you want to stay there permanently. Vegas is a beautiful place, and experiencing the city’s view from the air only further adds to the city’s wonder. 

How To Get A Great Night’s Sleep On Holiday

If you do a lot of travelling, it’s fair to say you will be familiar with two things, a stiff neck and shoulders and a lack of sleep. I don’t know about you but I always hate to leave my own bed and no matter how comfortable my travel accommodation is, I am always extremely glad to see my own bed again. So how do you get a great night’s sleep on holiday or when you are travelling?

Tips for a great night’s sleep on holiday

1. Use blackout blinds for the kids.  You can find portable ones that just attach to the window with sucker-pads.

2. Don’t be afraid to nap – use the power of the siesta.  In any case, we should all be staying out of the sun between 12 pm and 3 pm.

3. Make sure you take the kids’ favourite comforters – but don’t lose them.  We once had to trek across what seemed like half of Cornwall because Ieuan left ‘blankie’ in Tescos in Truro.

4 If it’s hot you might find it cooler to stay in cotton pyjamas as the cotton will wick away any sweat.

5. You can find lots of tips to help your kids sleep in hot weather in this post.

6. Avoid alcohol and high sugar / high salt foods.

7. Avoid eating too close to sleeping.  A light supper is fine – a three-course meal, not so much.

8. Stock up on bottled water but get it free at airports. A trick I read recently from money-saving expert Martin Lewis is to take an empty water bottle through to the departure lounge and fill up with free water from one of the airport water fountains.

9. Carry the kids’ pyjamas in your hand luggage so you don’t have to route through suitcases to find their things. If nothing else we make sure we’ve got the kids’ toothbrushes to hand

10. To avoid jet lag you might be better off staying up until the ‘normal’ bedtime in your new location to allow your body clock to reset

11. Earplugs, eye masks and travel pillows are your friends. A decent travel pillow will help support your neck while you travel and add a comforting touch to your hotel bed.

12. Try a travel pillow which gently supports your head and neck, allowing you to sleep more comfortably when travelling.  If you suffer from a bad back, as I do, you can also use a travel pillow for a bit of extra support in the small of the back.

13. Block out the light with a sleep mask. Try one made from silk for extra softness.

In his book “The Fitness Mindset“, health expert and author Brian Keane in his book gives some very helpful advice about improving the quality of our sleep.

If you don’t go to sleep, you’ll get a cortisol (a steroid hormone) driven ‘second wind’ that can keep you awake until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM. “If you can stick close to your body’s circadian cycle and get to bed before 11:00 PM, you will wake up feeling more rested than if you get the same amount of sleep starting later.

Obviously easier said than done in a different time zone but if you know when you are likely to feel tired you can at least adapt and do something to boost yourself and stave off fatigue.

Secondly, switch off your brain.  Journalling, meditation or even just some deep breathing may help. Perhaps you could carry a little travel journal to record your thoughts or write a list of things you are grateful for (being seated together on an EasyJet flight?  no airport delays?)!

Travelling, whilst exhilarating, is often stressful and with some careful planning and understanding the needs of your body, you can do a lot to improve the quality of your sleep and rest, even when you’re thousands of miles from home.

If you are planning to travel this summer, particularly with the kids, we’d love to hear your tips.

Tips For Travelling By Car Safely This Summer

Now that the summer holidays are approaching and many of us are about to hit the UK roads and motorways, it’s worth thinking about how we can keep ourselves, and our children, safe whilst we drive.  Travelling by car safely this summer is easier if you follow these tips.

Photo by Ben Shanks on Unsplash

Travelling by car safely this summer

Make sure your vehicle is legally roadworthy

We all know that our cars must have a current MOT and be adequately insured.  Even though we no longer need to display a tax disc, the police are able to track untaxed vehicles on the road.

Top up your fluids

Fuel, oil and water levels need to be topped up before we set off and our tyres checked and inflated to the correct pressure. It’s best to top your fuel up before you hit the motorway to avoid any price hikes on fuel which frequently seem to hit the unorganised driver.

Carry a safety kit

It is a good idea to carry a well-stocked first aid kit in the boot, as well as some bottled water and some (non-meltable) snacks.

Check your breakdown cover is valid

Is your breakdown cover up to date and do you have the relevant contact numbers already entered in your phone in case you get stranded on the M25?

Secure your little ones

Travelling with little ones means we need to make sure we are up to speed with the rules and regulations about child car seats and ensure everyone is wearing their seat-belt.

Prepare for car sickness

If your kids suffer from car sickness, it’s also worth taking a bowl, cloths and some soapy water, plus a change (or two!) of clothes for them.  You can bet that the day you don’t have these things is the day you’ll need them.

Charge your SatNav or Phone

Before you go, check your SatNav is in good working order and is charged.  We recently found that ours wouldn’t charge in-car and the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry cut out at a critical moment going around a roundabout.  Taking a good old-fashioned OS Map is a good back-up.

Stick to the speed limit

Make sure that you drive within the National Speed Limit for the road you are on – not only with this keep your licence point free but it will help you keep your petrol consumption down.

Don’t drink and drive – and watch your meds

If you have had a lot to drink the night before, remember that you may still be over the limit the next morning.  Some prescription medications may also leave you drowsy and nowhere near as alert as you need to be.

Take a break to deal with tiredness

Tiredness kills so make sure that you have regular, scheduled breaks, particularly when travelling with little ones, for toilet breaks, food and, in my case, coffee!  You might want to pack sandwiches though because the cost of feeding a family at the UK motorway service stations is often high.

Keep your little ones amused

It’s also useful to carry a picnic rug or blanket to sit on, or for the kids to snooze under.

You’ll want to take a selection of CDs for the kids.  Some kids are able to play on iPads and read in the back of the car but we’ve found this increases the risk of travel sickness.  Luckily we’ve finally outgrown the CBeebies classics so we don’t sail down to Devon to the dulcet tones of Mr Tumble any more.

Nervous driver?  Learn to deal with your nerves

If you find driving a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, Kwik-fit has an excellent guide entitled “Keep Calm And Drive On” to help you feel more confident on the road.

Chris Gilbert, a former Metropolitan Police driving inspector who taught Princes William and Harry to drive advises us to “drive more consciously” so that we anticipate situations rather than react.

I don’t know about you but it can be tricky to drive consciously when you have two kids arguing in the back, the SatNav cuts out and the Husband is trying to give you conflicting directions.

But we should be as alert as we can to what is going on around us, rather than faffing about changing radio stations or trying to unearth the last Werther’s Original from the glove compartment because Ieuan hates mints.

Another excellent piece of advice is to make sure there is an adequate gap between you and the car in front.

The advice is that you should keep at least a two-second gap between yourself and the car in front. You can count it from a road sign as the car ahead passes it.

Don’t be a nuisance on the road

Tailgating is probably one of the biggest annoyances experienced by drivers and I have found that women driving their kids seem to attract more than their fair share of tailgaters for some reason.

Other regularly mentioned annoyances from other motorists include:-

– leaving rear fog lights on when there’s no fog and it’s just raining

– driving everywhere with their lights on full beam and dazzling approaching drivers at night

– drivers who don’t put their lights on when it’s dark and tipping down with rain

– drivers who abruptly change lanes at the last possible moment at motorway exits – sometimes leaving it too late and crossing the hatched area

– drivers who drive while using a hand-held mobile phone – incredibly this is still a frequent sight, as is drivers trying to text with one hand on the wheel.

Wherever you’re off this year, make travelling by car safely easier by following these tips.

Tips For Taking Kids To Paris

Paris is one of my favourite cities and, having studied the language up to my second year in Swansea University (I majored in English Literature), my love of all things Francais is still going strong. Once we are allowed to travel freely once more, a trip to the City of Light is at the top of our agenda, particularly since Ieuan will be studying French in his first year in secondary school.

There’s an art to planning a trip with children though, isn’t there?  You have to get the right balance between family activities and things for you to enjoy as a couple so that everyone has a good time.  Kids tend to have a low boredom threshold these days so planning an itinerary in advance is a sensible thing to do.

Paris offers a wide array of places to learn and places simply to have fun. Here are just a few examples:

Perhaps your children would enjoy a donkey ride or an ice cream on the right bank at the Jardin de Tuileries, or on the other side you can enjoy the large green open space of the Champ de Mars

Here you may be able to enjoy one of Paris’s famous colourful puppet shows featuring adventures in gothic castles and oriental palaces.

The entertainment you choose will, of course, depend on the age of your children so why not think about purchasing Disneyland Paris tickets so the whole family can visit Mickey Mouse and his friends?

By Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10213567

If your children enjoy learning, why not visit one of Paris’ many museums. Quite apart from the most popular of these, the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, why not visit Le Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic) where kids can learn about illusionists and their craft from the 18th century to the present day. Or how about Le Musée d’Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History) where the kids can see the skeletons of dinosaurs, including a giant crocodile and other huge creatures of the past.

By The original uploader was MykReeve at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2335318

If you have older children who have an interest in history, you may want to visit Les Catacombes de Paris, which is an underground tunnel comprising nearly 3,000 feet of dank walkways. Throughout the tunnels, you will learn about the macabre arrangement of over 6 million skulls and skeletons. During the Second World War, the tunnels were used by the French Resistance.

Once back in the daylight, you’ll find plenty of shopping malls and beautiful department stores including the famous Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. There’s plenty of choice for family-friendly shopping, including children’s bookshop Chantelivre or how about Maison DoDuDinDon, a bright new emporium for kids and adults full of toys, teddies, clothes and other items just waiting to be browsed through.

After shopping, choose a hot spot to enjoy a meal together. If you are on the run, check out Paris’s fabulous Tea Diners. The Tea Restaurants serve hardy sandwiches, salads and a variety of tea blends. When you sit and relax with your children, enjoying a meal and a cool drink, it brings the family together.

If you’re not ready to return to your hotel, there are plenty of cinemas to watch a family movie or perhaps you’ll fancy a swim in the hotel pool before rising early for your trip to Disneyland.

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait!

4 Must See Sights When Travelling to Europe

Everyone’s bucket list is to travel the world. People love adventure whether budget traveling, traveling solo or with friends. Checking a European trip off your list can be an awesome experience. Europe is a fascinating and diverse continent and its countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, architecture, history, food, and culture. Europe is worth visiting as you will have a completely different experience at each European destination.

There is always something to do and discover in major cities beyond the tourist attractions. A big part of every travel experience is the cuisine. There is a huge variety of different culinary experiences to be had in each European country. You can find some of the best cafes, pizzeria and street vendors in every city to try.

Europe is also known for its festival calendar where you can enjoy and celebrate with the locals. Since it’s a big continent, you should work out a plan on where you’d like to go. Here’s a blog post on Mdina, the known silent city where you can get essential travel tips and things to do for your perfect holiday. Visiting Europe will make you appreciate their history.

Here are 4 must see sights to add to your European travel itinerary

Eiffel Tower

Paris is said to be a romantic city in the world. This city is famous for having the unique symbol of which must be seen when visiting the French capital. Eiffel Tower is Paris’ most beloved landmark. Designed and built by Gustave Eiffel, the tower was originally constructed to be the impressive entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair and the launch of the French Revolution. The tower stands 986 feet tall and was announced as the world’s tallest man-made structure before the Empire State Building took the title in 1930. You may take the lift all the way to the observation deck of the tower and watch the views of the Parisian boulevard. Millions of tourists around the world visit Paris only because of seeing the famous tower. They also considered it a symbol of love.

Acropolis and Parthenon

The Acropolis is the most famous and the most visited monument of the UNESCO world heritage site. It is the universal symbol of the classical spirit and civilization of ancient Greece. Among its monuments, Parthenon is the most outstanding.

The Temple of Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena, the protector of the Ancient city of Athens. The Parthenon was built during the Golden Era of Athens under architects Iktinos and Kalikrates. They used marble from the mount of Penteli for its construction. Every year, thousands of visitors around the world visit the monument to admire the symbol of the Ancient Greek civilization.

The original carvings from The Parthenon were scattered globally in France, Denmark, England, and also within Athens. You can find original carvings at The Louvre in Paris, the National Museum in Denmark, and in the British Museum in London.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The world-famous leaning tower is known for its incredible four-degree tilt that makes it look the tower is about to collapse. It is Italy’s most beloved architectural accident located in the most visited European city, Pisa. The incredible bell tower sits behind Pisa Cathedral which took 199 years to complete. It began to slant during its construction due to the soft ground of the area. It stands 55.86 meters tall and it’s now open for visits and tours. The structure’s integrity is monitored regularly and they accept large numbers of visitors every day.

Canals of Venice

The Grand Canal is one of Venice’s top attractions which also connects the city’s other tourist attractions. In fact, the best way to appreciate all these grand palaces is from the canal itself. Viewing these palaces at night is hugely popular because of the amazing light you will see crossing the canals.

You can ride and have a tour in the entire Grand Canal using the Vaporetto, which is the floating public transport system. You can also ride a motorboat tour, with a tour guide who can point out the palaces and can pass slowly to pull closer for better views.

Many of us, of course, dream of gliding along the Grand Canal in a gondola, but it is not the best way to see the palaces along its banks because of many larger vessels speeding past and blocking the view. The gondola ride is better for the little back street canals.

Civilization has been around for many years in Europe. These cities are living reminders of the past filled with stories to share around the world. European culture and tourism have a lot to offer. Wherever you choose to visit, you will surely enjoy a historical experience.

Reasons to Explore Germany

One of the most diverse countries in Europe, Germany has plenty to offer its visitors. Made up of a multitude of regional identities all offering their own distinctive experiences, Germany has something to suit almost all possible tastes and interests. Whether you’re looking for delicious food, lively festivals, or stunning architecture, you can be assured that Germany has the experience that you’re after.

There are plenty of fairy tale castles in Germany

There are far too many reasons why you should visit this incredible country to list them all here, but here are just a few of the best to get you started.

Cuisine

If you’re all about food tourism, then Germany is definitely somewhere you need to visit! Sure, it’s famous for its (delicious) sausages, but there is far more to German cuisine than the legendary Bratwurst.

Firstly, there is Germany’s answer to pasta – Spätzle, which is hugely popular in the south. This dish of mouth-watering egg noodles is topped with cheese and roasted onions and is often served with meat dishes. On a cold day, it’s worth trying Eintopf, a delicious one-pot stew using ingredients such as lentils, broth and vegetables, and finishing off with a traditional Bretzel (pretzel) or two from a German bakery.

There is also the versatile Kartoffelpuffer, a shallow-fried pancake made from grated potatoes mixed with egg, onion, flour, and seasoning. These scrumptious pancakes are served either sweet or savory, with a variety of condiments such as apple sauce, cinnamon, cheese, or sour cream.

Culture

German culture has been influenced and shaped throughout its long and fascinating history. The people, language, and traditions of Germany make it a truly unique place to visit. It not only played an integral part in the history of Europe, but it has also become one of the most stable economies in the world. Germany has been home to some of the world’s most famous philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and classical composers such as Bach and Beethoven. Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky frequented the Kurhaus of Baden Baden whenever he could.

Modern Germany is home to a number of world-famous music festivals such as Wacken and Rock am Ring and there are also regular carnivals and arts festivals in which entire cities throw huge parties.

Sport plays a huge role in German culture, and it is estimated that some 27 million Germans belong to a sports club in one way or another. Many people like to visit the home of the German National Football Team while they are here or watch a championship match on one of the huge screens that are set up when big games are played.

Pay a visit to the Rakotzbrücke in Rhododendronpark

Architecture

Germany has a fine array of palaces, castles, monuments, amphitheatres, and cathedrals. Almost every type of historical architecture from history can be seen here, from pre-Romanesque structures and Gothic buildings to Renaissances styles and neoclassical constructions. There are also plenty of solid examples of contemporary German architecture, demonstrating much of the Bauhaus school styles that originated in the 1920s. There are more than 48 official UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany, making it a rich source of historical interest.

Make sure to check out the Umschreibung in Munich, a winding staircase created by Olafur Eliasson which lends itself to some very beautiful photographs, or head to the Rakotzbrücke in Rhododendronpark to see the medieval bridge that gives the illusion of being a full circle.

The Vischering Castle in Lüdinghausen is a beautiful sandstone structure built in 1271 and set within a moat, while the Semperoper in Dresden is one of the most stunning opera houses in the world. Built in 1841 by Gottfried Semper, the opera house is a truly magnificent construction that leaves most visitors in total awe.

So, whether you want to visit Germany for its mouth-watering cuisine, fairy-tale castles or lively culture, you can be sure that your trip will be one of the most memorable of your life! Just remember to bring a suitcase big enough to carry home all of those Bratwursts.

How to Apply for Entry to the United States

Applying for entry to the United States is a process that would take a significant amount of time. The U.S.A. government is implementing a strict set of rules to ensure the safety of its people and those visiting their country. But this does not hinder travellers from visiting the U.S. Steady growth of inbound travelers to the U.S has been observed, with 63.48 million in 2011 and 79.62 million visiting the U.S. in 2018.

There are various reasons for visiting the U.S.A. It is a unique country that hosts a diverse set of people with various religions, races, traditions, and political beliefs. You will always find something interesting with its numerous museums, evolving fashion style, diverse cuisine, and hidden attractions. You will suitably fit somewhere, whether you love the hustles of a big city, a quiet life in a small town, or the scenic view in secluded locations. With that being said, here are methods for applying entry to the United States.

Visa Waiver Program

For a select group of countries, a visa waiver program was designed by the U.S. to replace the Visa system. The ESTA USA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an automated system for entering the U.S. Length of stay is 90 days and a validity of 2 years with the opportunity of multiple entries. However, there is only a selection of eligible countries for this program, such as Australia, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, to name a few. 

Visa Application

The most common way to enter the U.S. is through the application of a visa. The visa is a document issued by a U.S. consulate to non-US citizens for entry to the U.S. Depending on the purpose, the following are the types of visas.

Business or Professional Visa

The nonimmigrant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional visa is specifically for citizens of Canada and Mexico who would be working in the U.S. The process of application involves obtaining a letter from a future employer regarding the offer of a position, filing of forms and attending an interview. 

Visitor Visa

This is the type of visa you need if you are travelling to the U.S for a brief period for business or tourism. Classifications under this visa type are B-1 and B-2, with the former granted for travellers attending a conference, meeting with associates, or for settling an estate or negotiating of contract. The B-2 classification is for tourists on vacation or those visiting theU.S.. for medical treatment or social events. For pregnant women visiting the U.S., it is the CBP Officer’s discretion if your entry will be allowed.

Transit Visa

If your ultimate destination is not the U.S., but you will be stopping in the country briefly, then the transit visa is for you. A transit visa is required for tourists having a brief layover in theU.S.. or for cruise ship passengers wherein the vessel is to make port in the U.S.A, even if the final destination is another country. 

Student Visa

This type is given to international students after being accepted by a school accredited in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If pursuing academic studies, the F-1 classification is granted, while the M-1 type is given when pursuing vocational studies. 

Refugees and Asylum

For people who fled their homes and seeking protection, the U.S. also provides certain processes for entry in their borders. For refugees, the person is required to contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or any international nonprofit volunteer agency to assist in entering the U.S. 

With the information above, hopefully, you now have a clearer understanding of how to enter the U.S legally. If you are still uncertain about the procedures and type of visa to apply for, it is best to consult with a professional. Just ensure that these organizations are legal and accredited. For protection, it is best to consult with the nearest U.S. embassy in your country.

Something For Everyone With A Weekend In Cardiff

With great transport links, Cardiff is the youngest capital city in Europe. Set on a scenic coastal location, it’s home to multiple international sporting and cultural centres, alongside the BBC Drama Village, a new business district, a thriving town centre but also more green space per person than any other UK city. Known for having a friendly population, it’s a vibrant place to head for a weekend whether you are seeking nights on the town, a family getaway, a romantic break, or perhaps a few days of culture and history. Cardiff has something for everyone.

Fun with friends

The city has a great atmosphere and plenty of options for entertainment making it a popular choice for groups of friends. Its nightclubs are well known, with flavours of Cuba, Ibiza, or the 90s amongst your options. Or perhaps you want to focus on live music, classy cocktails, rooftop drinking or even dancing on the bar top. If pubs are more your thing, Cardiff is known to have the most pubs per square foot in the UK. This includes craft breweries and even a take on a German beer cellar.

However, there are options for those looking for something a bit different and beyond the normal nightlife too. You could stick with the pubs but on a historic pub tour. Or try an Escape Room, the big trend at the moment, via companies like Fizzbox where you can choose from a range of settings from the Titanic to a tropical island. There’s even a restaurant in the city’s prison. You can play some of the best bingo sites before you start your night out, a night in Cardiff really can take you anywhere!

Family Favourites

If you are heading to Cardiff with family, the bars might not be your draw, but there is still plenty on offer. To start there are actually 3 castles in the city, but Cardiff Castle is perhaps the most fascinating. The site has had a castle on it for over 2000 years with the different owners each adding their mark. Today it houses the medieval alongside the gothic with an interesting blend of Roman, Norman and Victorian buildings and legacies. There are even tunnels within the castle which were used as air-raid shelters in the second world war. The site is truly steeped in diverse history. And as you wander around the grounds you’ll get some great views of the city.

The National Museum is also close by and with free entry it offers a natural history exhibition on the ground floor, with an art gallery on the upper level. And of course, there are the plentiful parks and green spaces all around, such as the 130 acres of Bute Park or the boating lake in Roath Park.

Romance

If you are in Cardiff with more romantic intentions, then it makes sense to head to the waterfront. Cardiff Bay is the largest such development in Europe and has transformed the old docks which now mix modern architecture with historic buildings such as the Pierhead, home of the National Assembly for Wales. With the BBC drama centre here it’s possible you’ll recognise some of the surroundings from the likes of Doctor Who episodes. With science and sports centres too, this all makes it perfect for plenty of types of visitor, but it’s a great setting for a starry-eyed meal in one of the many international restaurants or a walk across the Barrage embankment with its maritime vista over the bay and the Severn Estuary.

There is also the Millennium Centre; a striking sight and an icon of the city. It’s worth popping by just to take in the building with its copper front which features a poem in the Welsh language. It’s even better at night when the words are lit up. You can take in the bay views from the Centre’s cafe, or of course attend one of the many performances across opera, music and theatre.

Wales Millennium Centre by Thomas Duesing

Sport fans

Finally, talk of Cardiff should surely mention sport specifically. Most famously it’s the home of Welsh rugby union at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff Arms Park. But it doesn’t stop at rugby. The city is also home to the Cardiff Devils, a professional elite ice hockey team and there are public skating sessions at the Viola Arena. Then Cardiff Bay also has its own yacht club and of course, there is the international sports village – set for further major developments – which has a white water centre with a range of water-based activities. So whether you are more of a spectator or participant, the sport-minded have plenty to choose from.

Principality Stadium by Thomas Duesing

So Cardiff is ready and waiting. Whatever your interests, head to the Welsh capital and take your pick.

Alone In Paris,The City Of Light – Why I Recommend It

When I was 19 I spent three weeks as an au pair to a French diplomat and his three children.  That glorious summer was at the end of my second year in Swansea University and, although I was nervous, I packed my treasured Antler suitcase and headed off toute seule.

Image credit: Sulox 32 Pixabay

Welcomed into a rather cold but orderly Parisian flat in the suburb of Meudon, I quickly fell in love with the sights, sounds and smells of the French capital.  From the waft of Gitane smoke in the Metro stations to the sweet aroma of crepes freshly made on street corners, everywhere offered a new experience to the senses.

I had been to Paris before on a school trip but travel is an entirely different experience when you are on your own.  It is also a challenge when you have to speak French to three kids (and a cat) and you hear barely a word of your own language for days.

As you might imagine, I made the most of my spare time.  There were trips to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.  A wander around the Louvre and the fabulous Rubens Gallery (much more impressive than La Jaconda I thought).  Outside Notre Dame Cathedral I was mistaken for a local and interviewed (briefly) for a French radio station.

Notre Dame Cathedral: image credit Satyaprem from Pixabay

Many a cafe au lait was sipped and many a French magazine purchased.  I hunted for Roger et Gallet soap to take home (to this day I can’t find my favourite, Fougere) and loitered in the pharmacies where, even then, skincare was treated with a cross between scientific exploration and an almost religious reverence.

For the latter half of my trip, we packed everything into a small car and headed off for a chateau in the middle of the country near Nevers.  It sounds glamorous but there was no running water and the toilet had to be flushed with a bucket. The rooms were small and dark with ancient creaking wooden furniture and dust danced in the sunlight which pierced the slats of the shutters.

Taking a siesta was mandatory and so, from the middle of the day till around 3 pm, the chateau vibrated to the sonorous snoring of my employer and his girlfriend who would occasionally visit in between rounds of golf.

The children were a delight.  I don’t know exactly what had happened to their mother but they were affectionate, if quarrelsome.

I will always remember that there was a cherry orchard behind the chateau and one evening as we sat out drinking wine, the youngest lad marched solemnly up to me and presented me with a sprig of cherry blossom he had chosen.

I also remember the food.  Simple, rustic, fresh.  The girlfriend would appear with trays of fresh peaches.  Yoghurt was eaten plain with a teaspoon of brown sugar.  Squash was diluted red wine!  I learned to eat artichoke and to make a proper vinaigrette.  Baguettes were always fresh that day from the local boulangerie and the goats’ cheese came from a local farmer.

Then we packed up and returned to Paris with the cat, practically feral by the point, hissing and spitting in a box on the car roof.

I returned to Wales feeling truly European and as if I could take on anything.  My language skills had improved and my confidence had grown by leaps and bounds.

As a mum, though, I sometimes wonder how I’ll be when Caitlin wants to spread her wings and travel the world.  Both excited and apprehensive I guess.  I certainly could not deny her the opportunity to venture abroad and hope that, by then, she will have enough commonsense and savoir-faire not to get into any scrapes (as I did in Egypt, but that’s another story).

A Bateau Mouche on the Seine. Image credit: SoleneC1 at Pixabay

The media whips us parents up into a lather of worry when it comes to young people travelling abroad, doesn’t it?  If they are not falling off cliffs taking selfies, they are prey to dubious locals.  It gives me the shudders just to think of it.

But then I remember being all alone on the Champs Elysee and the fabulous feeling of freedom.  Solo travel is truly great for discovering ones’ self and ones’ capabilities, isn’t it?

It will be a while before Caitlin ventures forth but in the meantime we are planning a Parisian city break with Voyage Privé. We’ll take the kids to visit the Eiffel Tower  – is that rickety lift still there halfway up I wonder?  We’ll visit some of the smaller museums like the Jeu de Paume and take a bateau mouche along the Seine.

And I’ll be hoping that the kids fall in love with Paris, just as I did.