Anyone who has a young family will know that it can be difficult if the family needs to take a trip anywhere. Without the right planning it can turn into chaos so co-ordination on the scale of a military operation is often required. It can be worse if heading abroad – trying to keep young children calm and entertained in an enclosed space such as a plane can leave everybody a little fractious. However, there are a few tips for travelling with kids that might help.
‘Kid-friendly’ or not?
Many families spend hours searching for family friendly places to visit on holiday simply because they think it will be easier. However, with a little planning it is not necessary to do this – other places will be just as welcoming but the good news is that more and more destinations offer facilities for families. Children’s menus in restaurants, playrooms in hotels and parks ensure that wherever families go there will be something there to make the trip easier.
One tip is to include the kids in the planning process. Explain to them where they are going and what they will be seeing. Give them books or leaflets to have a look at that tell them more about their destination. Most people will find that this gets the kids more enthusiastic about it and they will then see that the journey has a purpose.
Traveling to a country that speaks a different language also gives the opportunity for the family to learn a few useful phrases in advance. If the family does this together the children will feel more included and less like they are being dragged along for the ride. This is especially true for older children as they begin to form their own opinions and are not slow to voice them! They want to feel as though they have been included in the decision-making process and the planning otherwise they feel as though it is somebody else’s vacation.
Spending can also get out of hand when traveling with a family. It is so easy to simply buy the kids what they want to keep them quiet, but this can break the budget. Allocate a set amount of money to spend each day. Explain to the kids that they can have so much of their spending money each day and encourage them to think carefully about what they want before they go spending. If they are already in this habit before they travel it will help a great deal.
Be prepared for air travel
Not everybody can boast perfectly behaved children but when traveling with kids most cases of misbehaving are due to boredom. Long flights are one of the worst situations for encouraging less than perfect behavior. Rowdy kids can disturb other passengers, leaving parents feeling as though they have lost control. Books, iPods and small games consoles can help to keep them occupied and quiet and will prevent the angry stares of fellow passengers.
All it takes is some forward planning and the trip can go smoothly. The good news is that once it has been done a couple of times future trips will be much easier to handle.
With the best will in the world travel isn’t cheap and even the most low budget breaks can end up costing much more if travelers aren’t careful; hidden costs and extras can pop up almost anywhere, leading them to use their money more quickly than they may have anticipated. These costs can accumulate over time when the vacation is an extended one and home can feel a long way away when money troubles strike.
Common travel pitfalls
When it comes to creating a travel budget, the importance of research can never be stressed highly enough; in fact a failure to research locality, accommodation or transport, for example, is the most common travel pitfall of all and can lead vacationers into making all sorts of expensive mistakes. It is essential that travelers think carefully about where they’re going, the activities they’re likely to be doing and any extras that may be incurred, and to budget accordingly. The majority of common travel pitfalls can be avoided altogether with the correct planning and research.
Typical travel costs, which may not be automatically obvious, include charges for Internet access, fees for seat upgrades or excess baggage on flights, resort fees or citywide taxes that are not included in accommodation costs, food and beverage charges for items not included in all-inclusive packages, additional charges for a resort’s attractions and facilities, vehicle hire charges, insurance, and toll roads. Fees for using credit cards abroad and the astronomical costs that can be associated with checking social media and using a cellphone abroad are particularly applicable these days and travelers should check their contracts prior to using their phone abroad.
When it comes to planning a vacation or extended trip it is essential to never assume anything, so documentation should be read carefully, plans gone over thoroughly and tickets checked. Travelers should also be prepared for the worst and budget for hidden extras; it is better to have money left over than to run out. Other tips to ensure a truly budget vacation include shopping around to find the best deals, traveling off season, paying cash wherever possible and purchasing travel cards and attraction passes to save money on seeing the sights. It certainly pays to conduct research and to never settle for the most commonly touted options.
Planning for emergencies
After considering common travel pitfalls, it is essential for travelers to create their emergency budget; a designated fund that can be accessed should any hidden costs pop up or crises occur. This money should be kept separately from the travel budget, ensuring an available, steady flow of funds should the worst happen, rather than simply relying on leftover funds that could well run out; a particularly daunting thought for those on extended vacations or backpacking adventures.
As well as being treated as a separate entity, this emergency fund should be kept separate from the holiday money, while making sure it can still be accessed if credit cards are stolen, money lost or account compromised. It is also a great idea to explore the idea of money transfer services before heading abroad; companies such as Trans-Fast, for example, can ensure a steady of supply of funds sent by friend or family back at home should an emergency occur or funds run out. The relief these services can provide is invaluable and ensures travelers are able to continue their adventures.
Whilst travelers can never be totally confident of preventing a budget crisis, with careful planning and preparation they can certainly reduce the risk of financial hardship and enjoy a fantastic trip.
Namibia is an African country that is home to two deserts and many sand dunes. Over the years, there have been many cultural influences in Namibia, with annual festivals celebrating the country’s independence in 1990. If you are planning to visit Namibia’s deserts and dunes with your family, consider these useful tips and guidance that will make your trip an unforgettable experience.
The living desert tour
This fascinating guided tour of the world’s oldest desert must not be missed. You will discover the amazing landscape and stunning sand dunes including the Martian-looking plants that grow abundantly. The living desert tour is available throughout the whole year and can be booked in advance on most travel agencies’ websites.
If you are thinking about hiring a car for your family trip while exploring the Namibian deserts and dunes, you should consider car excess direct insurance as you will be covered for an excess of up to £4,000 if the vehicle breaks down gets damaged, or stolen. This is certainly something to consider especially if you are travelling with your spouse and want to share the driving.
The safaris of Africa offer iconic sights that no visitor should miss out on. The Etosha National Park has over 100 different mammal types including lions, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. During the summer months, you can catch a glimpse of the pink flamingos that flock to Namibia and occupy the rivers in their vast community.
By far the most amazing place to explore outside Windhoek has to be the Sossusvlei Dunes. This Namibian desert is home to many wild creatures from jackals to wolves. It is a place worth visiting with your family as the desert starts at the Orange River and goes all the way through the breathtaking red sand dunes. These red sand dunes are in fact the tallest in the world and will leave you completely mesmerized. You can get an even better view in the late afternoon when the enormous clouds create shadows on the dunes and intensify their peaks and troughs. This mountainous location can be explored on foot, but make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes as you will be trekking through the tall dunes for several hours.
The Namibian weather
The climate in Namibia is semi-desert with hot summers and cool winters. In July and August, temperatures can rise as high as 40 degrees Celcius. In winter months, temperatures rarely drop to below freezing, but along the coast it is much colder with frequent rainfall from October to early spring. The rest of the year however is very dry and sunny with up to 300 days a year of sunshine. Late spring and summer are the perfect seasons for planning your family holiday to Namibian deserts.
There has been human activity on Cyprus for thousands of years and this Mediterranean island has some of the oldest history and culture in the world. Its sunny climate also makes it a popular vacation destination and a visit provides a chance to enjoy some of its heritage. If you decide to make the trip, get some good single trip insurance in place to deal with all eventualities, pack some warm-weather clothes, arrange flights and accommodation, and get ready to enjoy some impressive culture.
Kourion Archeological Site
Excavations at this site have revealed a wealth of treasures in relation to the history of Cyprus. It was the location of a city kingdom that came to prominence in the 2nd century BC, with some of the buildings at the site including impressive villas, Christian Basilica, and a complex of baths. However, the most famous is a Greco-Roman theatre, which has been lovingly restored so that visitors can enjoy musical concerts in the style of the people that once inhabited Kourion.
Art enthusiasts can take a designated west or east route on the island that will lead them to a number of locations featuring religious works of art. Most of the places are free to enter, with some of the best including the Church of Agion Apostolon, Stavrovouni Monastery, and the Church of Agios Lazaros. The buildings feature ancient frescoes and religious icon paintings dating back hundreds of years to make a trip around them definitely worthwhile.
This museum in Lefkosia was first opened in 1888 and has collected a wealth of cultural and historical pieces over the years to put on display to the public. These range from ancient weapons to pottery, artwork, sculptures, and archaeological finds from around the island. There are fourteen rooms in all to take in, so visitors can easily spend a day steeping themselves in the culture and history of Cyprus.
The Mediterranean cuisine of Cyprus relies on a mix of fresh ingredients, pungent spices and herbs, and olive oil. A local specialty on the island is Mezedes, which comprises a range of small delicacies that can include olive, snail, fish, vegetable, and meat dishes. A typical meal can comprise of up to thirty small servings with drinks and there are many cafes and restaurants where visitors can try this Cypriot cuisine.
A Cyprus vacation is something that anyone will enjoy and taking in the culture of this island is worth doing while there. There are plenty of attractions for this, with those shown above being only a few of the highlights. Make sure to take in one or more of them on a visit to have some fun experiences.
For a lot of travelers hand written diaries are becoming a thing of the past. Of course, they are a good means of future personal reflection, and perhaps a means of documenting evens on your travels that you don’t necessarily want your grandmother to read about! But let’s face it, almost every traveler has a tablet computer or a laptop and some want to share their experience in more detail than a Facebook status and say a lot more than is possible in a tweet. Not only this but regular blogging becomes a future-proof diary which some travelers go on to compile into a book or an eBook, some can then be published and money can be made.
On the subject of money, lets not forget that you can be paid for individual blogs also and a lot of hostels and guesthouses will let you stay there for free in return for a mention or good review. The same goes for a lot of tour and activity packages. If you are new to blogging, the first thing you need is to get a web hosting account,
By blogging you are also teaching people about other cultures, sharing tips with other travelers, showing people some of the planets amazing sights and places and sharing experiences that some people will only ever read about in your blog (or dream about). You can also meet some amazing people along the way through your blog. I’d never met Mitch & Taylor from Common Ground in Thailand if it wasn’t for blogging. A couple of cool guys who started their own hostel and now even their own clothing line selling Thai style clothes.
Some of my relatives (especially the elderly ones) will never take part in a random unorganised trek through the jungle for 11 miles to camp at a waterfall and party with 7 relative strangers, who become good friends instantly. Or spend a few nights will hill tribes or swimming with whale sharks amongst the pristine reefs of the Andaman sea. But they can get as close as possible to living through the experience by reading about what I did and checking out the pictures and videos. This is quite a wonderful thing.
Perhaps the most important part of blogging while you travel is that you get to relive the experience in years to come when you read back through what you have done and reading about the things that you could otherwise have forgotten about. This gives you so much inspiration to get out there and have new adventures and do it all over again.
It had been nearly 15- years since I’d seen home, or at least the Florida I used to call home while growing up. I have been working in the Mediterranean for quite some time, helping struggling families become more self-sufficient as well as subsidising my income as a food writer and consultant for various hotels. The work has been incredibly rewarding but travelling between Athens and Cyprus, and various other capital cities in these regions had taken a toll on my soul, that my need to go home became overwhelming. I was leaving during the height of the holiday season, so I really had to compare any flights to Vegas from one travel agency to another. Because I usually route through the UK (I have family there too) I connect my flights to Orlando when I travel to and from Greece, the Greek Islands and the Cypriote Island.
When I did get home, I found it difficult to change back to ‘western food’, mainly because my system was used to eating organic vegetables, rich meats and the freshest seafood caught in the mornings but finding good Greek food in Florida seemed to be a harder task than catching a goat in the rain….
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (Opa!)
My first stop was the Fort Lauderdale restaurant with a name reminiscent of a movie I absolutely love. We were seated outside, I assume because there was so many of us and inside seemed quite full. I ordered some traditional wine for everyone to taste while the kids munched on their bread-baskets.
There was just so much on the menu, not all of it was what I would call ‘Greek’, but I think it’s to cater for a variety of people and include people who might not necessarily think that they’ll enjoy traditional Grecian foods. But since I wanted everyone to be adventurous a little, I asked everyone to order something different so others could get a little taster as well. Overseas, a meal is very much a group event, it’s all shared and enjoyed with good people.
The highlights were the mousaka, the salads (especially the berry and feta one), grilled shrimp and octopus, the meat lovers platter basically had to be ordered twice because it was devoured once it hit the table. For dessert we all had a side of rice pudding and the galaktobouriko which is a custard tartlet made with phyllo pastry.
We ordered far too much food and apologised to our very understanding waiter (we are an energetic family). The service isn’t the fastest but the restaurant has good food, a great environment and they encourage you to get your Greek on.
This is a great Greek restaurant in Florida, I’m sure there are others and I wish I had more time to try their menus but I was only staying for a few days and this dinner was my ‘asfalés taxídi’ before a ride back to the airport for my flight back to my other home away from home…with some delicious leftovers.