September 21, 2017

This Christmas, Vacation In Style

 

Vacationing in style is often hard to do. Many people have different tastes, and reconciling these different ideas & ambitions can be difficult between those planning as there are simply so many things to do in one place. One of the best ways to overcome this is to take a vacation in a season which you'd rarely do so. The season switch vacation option offers you the opportunity to change your approach completely. Winter is fast approaching, and that means winter vacations can soon become a reality. For those of you mostly interested in the summer vacation in the effort to grasp a tan, this may seem like something completely out of your comfort zone. However, winter weather can be the most rewarding to vacation in, especially when celebrating something as fantastic as Christmas Day.

Here are some tips for celebrating Christmas with family and friends in a way which can give you warm memories for some time.

Stay In Lapland
When people think Christmas, they think Santa Claus. Why not visit him with your family in a coveted Lapland getaway? Lapland has plenty of facilities and resorts where you can visit Santa and a cast of his helpful little elves, which can truly imbue Christmas with a sense of magic. Why not translate this feeling along to your accommodations by finding tree hotels in Lapland, which allow you to view the local landscape from a beautiful position which is sure to rest in your memory for a long time? Doing things differently in an already unfamiliar landscape can add to the fairytale magic of the entire experience.

Head To Disneyland
Many people vacation in Disneyland as part of the summer celebrations, because they often offer competitive ticket prices, sometimes even letting children in for free to drum up business. However, visiting solely in the summer, while wonderful, can deprive you of a whole other beautiful experience. Disneyland in both Paris and Florida simply come alive in the Winter time. Park decorations are given a facelift and as well as celebrations regarding certain films.

You can expect to see plenty of Frozen decor around this time which is never a bad thing. Disneyland also keeps the Christmas celebrations going, offering competitive rates on winter lodges. For a beautiful and memorable experience, heading to these parks and recounting the beauty of your favorite films could be your best step forward.

Winter Activities
For those who aren’t well versed in skiing or snowboarding, heading to Austria, the Alps, or Switzerland can afford you some adventures worthy of passing down through stories to your friends and family. Winter expeditions, mountaineering, skiing, cross country travel and husky mushing can all be offered in these environments and are absolutely worth your time. Simply experiencing these adventures once can be the introduction to a long lifetime hobby which proves to stimulate you even further the better you get at it.

These tips can help imbue your holiday schedule with the variety it might sorely need. There’s a big world out there, and as a result, it’s important to experience as much as possible during your time in it. Be sure to have fun, and never let your adventurous spirit be tempered.

 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

September 19, 2017

Saying Goodbye To A Long-Time Friend


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It's a terrible feeling when you lose a friend because they’re moving away or due to another aspect of their life. When people leave their job, move to another city/state, or have something else change, they often have to say goodbye to others that they love. This is a normal part of life, of course, and most everyone will experience it at some point. Not that it makes it any easier, though. To make the adjustment a little less painful for you & your friend, this post will be going through some of the things to do for your final meeting with someone in this position. So, when that time comes, you’ll be well prepared to see them off.

When someone is leaving, it’s likely that they are losing more than just you from their life. They'll most likely be going through an emotional rollercoaster with several people, and you only have to do it once. For this reason, it’s important that you prepare your emotions for your time together. Being sad or upset will make it harder for your friend to leave, and will also make them feel worse about it. Instead, you should try to be upbeat, focusing on the exciting parts of their new life. This sort of approach will make you both feel better about the situation.

It's also a nice gesture to say goodbye to someone you care about by giving them something to remember you by. Of course, they will already have lots of memories to enjoy, but something physical can help to tie it all together. When looking for something like this, it can be worth considering options which represent transition and change. Moving home, job, or even retirement gift ideas can be found on a variety of sites. Your gift should also be very personal and well thought out, too.

It’s important that you remember your final meeting with someone before they leave your life. You may see them again, or you may not. Either way, this is a chance for you to cover any ground you haven’t had a chance to before, and you’ll want to keep it in your mind. To help you to achieve this goal, going somewhere or experiencing something you never have before will cement the day in your mind. 
In the modern world, it’s easier than ever for people to move far away and leave your life forever. Alternatively, it’s also never been as easy to stay in contact with people as they travel across the planet. Through the use of the internet and telephone technology, you can stay in touch with people long into the future. You have to keep in touch from the time they move, though, or it will be hard to stay in touch in the long run.

Hopefully, this post will make it just a little bit easier next time you have someone leaving your life. In a lot of cases, these tips will make a huge difference to your future relationship with someone, as they will help you to stay more connected. Additionally, it will also make the final time you spend together a lot more enjoyable.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

September 18, 2017

The 5 L's Of Lisbon Portugal

Portugal is a country with an fascinating history -- but it's also becoming the one of the hottest tourist destinations to take a vacation. Not only is the weather amazing most of the year round, but this little country is really delivers everything a vacationer might want. You should definitely put the capital city of Lisbon on your map of places to see. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

Landscapes You’ll Love
Lisbon really does have it all. You can enjoy the cityscape on one side and seascape on the other. Nestled in between the two, you can find beautifully landscaped gardens and memorials, and even a country park to enjoy. In fact, there are several wildlife and nature reserves around the area to enjoy peace and quiet when you’re on vacation. Check out Parque Eduardo VII if you’re traveling with family. The people of Lisbon have managed to integrate the man-made with nature in many of their open spaces. Beautiful.




Lively
Lisbon has become quite a lively place over the years. Live music has become a popular attraction here, and there is even a film festival you can enjoy if you arrive at the right time. There are so many things to do in Lisbon that you'll need to be quite adventurous to enjoy them all during your vacation! If you do like music, try to find a Fado night. It's the national folk music style of Portugal, a unique musical experience not to be missed.

Laid Back
Beaches are plentiful in and around Lisbon. While soft sands are available, but many tourists prefer the long promenade or coastal walks. The sea breeze is usually comfortable and not too vigorous or salty. If you do come to the beach, feel free to sit, relax and listen to the waves lapping on the sand. Some of the best beaches have all the facilities you and your family will need. Best of all, you can pack up and head back up to a cafe to enjoy a cool drink when you’re done. 




Lip Licking Tastes
Portuguese dishes are known for their flavor. You can find plenty of eateries around Lisbon. Some have strict customary opening times (this means you might need to take your meals slightly later than you are used to); however, there are usually a few bars or cafes in the city that are open at hours that might suit you a little better. It’s best to check in advance if you know you’re going to be hungry! As Lisbon is on the coast, make sure you try the Monkfish!

Landmarks You’ll Like
St. George’s Castle is a must for anyone visiting the city of Lisbon. It is known locally as Castelo de Sao Jorge, and you can ride a trolley to get there. The Basílica da Estrela is the gorgeous late baroque style building with domes that you can see from the trams. The Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira is such a stunning building. It would undoubtedly make a perfect wedding photo backdrop. But it's the gardens that we find the most enchanting. The Portuguese really know how to design & landscape resplendent gardens! Will you consider vacationing in Lisbon?


*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

September 15, 2017

Are The "Big States" Worth Visiting?

If you’re considering a vacation somewhere in the United States , there are usually three states that will primarily be mentioned in the rundown of places you should go. While they might not be the biggest in terms of landmass, when it comes to reputation for tourism, these three states are way above the rest.

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The question for any eager tourist is whether or not these states are worth visiting. Sometimes, mass opinion of popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to a good time. Let’s examine their attributes a little closer and see if your next road trip or vacation should involve one of the big three.

TEXAS: Worth It?
If you’re talking about “big states” in terms of reputation, it’s impossible not to discuss the second-biggest state of all: Texas. Only Alaska beats the Lone Star State in terms of land size.

Texas is more like a country than a state. There’s the cool, musical vibe of Austin residing in the same state as huge oil cities such as Houston and Dallas. One thing you can be sure of is that the weather will be hot, so if that’s your thing, then Texas might just be the right call for you. 


NEW YORK: Worth It?
When people talk about finding cheap flights to New York and enjoying a holiday there, they tend to be referring to Manhattan. New York is more than the islands of the city of the same name, but let’s focus on the five boroughs, because everyone else does.

New York is a fascinating city with thousands of different historical sites; however, it’s also extremely busy and can quickly overwhelm a visitor.  It might be best reserved for a day trip than the entirety of your stay. If you’re happy to be constantly rushing to keep up, then New York can be an enlivening and exciting destination -- just be sure you’re content with the idea of non-stop pace before you go.



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CALIFORNIA: Worth It?
Some of the most iconic images from the USA come from California, from the Golden Gate bridge to “the rock” of Alcatraz. Given how popular the state is with tourists, it’s likely to crop up a few times when you’re browsing through your own possibilities.

The big cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco can be overwhelming, but not nearly as much as New York can. If you’d rather relax than explore a metropolis, then all of wine country -- along with its sprawling hills and cool sea breeze -- won’t disappoint. There’s something in the state for everyone, essentially, which given the size of it is no surprise. Bear in mind that California is a relatively expensive place to visit, so if budget is a concern, it might be best to avoid visiting over the summer months when prices traditionally surge.

As with anything regarding a holiday, there’s very much a case of your mileage may vary on whether or not you find these states worth the trip. Hopefully, you should at least now have a better idea.
 
*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

September 14, 2017

You’re From The South, But How Well Do You Know It?

The United States - not to mention the rest of the world - is a big and beautiful place, and there’s a lot of fascinating places to see from coast to coast. Seeing a show in New York City? Sounds pretty great! Touring the West's stunning national parks, such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite? Yes, sign us up! There's a misconception that you have to travel to far-flung destinations to have a good time. If you live in the South, then there are probably several things you haven’t yet seen. For your next vacation, stay local. Here are a few things you might want to do.

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Do Something Different

When we travel, we’ll usually automatically find ourselves doing something that puts us out of our comfort zone. When we feel like we’re relatively close to home, then that’s harder to do. It's not an impossible feat; all it takes is a little bit of extra effort. For example, if you’re usually one for exploring museums and the like, then put on a backpack and hiking boots and start exploring some of the South's amazing trails. If you always want to be outdoors, visit one of the cultural attractions you haven't yet seen. Traveling is about growing as a person, and you can only do that if you’re doing something new!

Seeing the Sights

You’re within just a few hours drive of some of the best sights in the country and you probably haven’t even realized it. Take a drive to Nashville to discover the home of country music; even if you’re not a fan of the genre, it’s awe-inspiring to see so many music lovers gathering in one place, and you’re sure to learn a thing or two while you’re there. If you’re a history buff, head to Savannah and see the city that was so beautiful that it was left untouched during the Civil War.

Attending Local Events

When, for example, people visit New York, they most likely visit the Empire State Building. But the best of that city isn’t in its most famous attractions, it’s in the local life and small sights, and the same goes for the South. To really get to know your area in a new way, make sure you’re attending local events and roadside attractions. You can book yourself into the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites Jackson and attend the Tennessee Strawberry Festival, which has been running for more than seventy years. Or head down to Alabama for its annual Shrimp Festival. Go off the beaten track slightly, and you’ll be rewarded with unique experiences, and meet plenty of great people.

Switch Off, Plug In

If we’re traveling “locally,” then it’ll be all too easy to fall into the same rhythms of the everyday. However, you’ll get the most out of your trip if you treat your travels as a true vacation, so disconnect for a few days. Don’t check your emails, let the phone go to voicemail, and fully immerse yourself in the region of the world that you call home. 

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

Making the Most of a Trip to Texas

As the largest southern state in America, Texas brings in tourists and travelers from all over the world. Filled with deserts, pine forests and housing a long stretch of coast along the Gulf of Mexico, there’s plenty of varied terrain to explore and countless attractions to visit. Because it’s such a large state with a myriad of destinations, we’ve compiled a brief list of must-visit places in Texas that will help you make the most of a trip to this gorgeous state.


Houston Space Center
Of course, a visit to Texas can’t be complete without a trip to the famous Houston Space Center. This is the perfect attraction for kids as well as adults that have an interest in space. Take a ride on the simulator, see real rockets and maybe even get the chance to dress up as an astronaut. There are plenty of exhibits to see as well, making this the ultimate destination for anyone with even an ounce of interest in science.

AT&T Stadium
While not strictly an attraction with a permanent theme, the AT&T Stadium in Arlington hosts plenty of concerts & sporting events that could be of your interest. If you’re visiting Texas during a major  sports season, then make sure to stop by at the AT&T Stadium to catch a game. It may be worth looking into Quality Inn at Arlington Highlands if you want an affordable, local place to stay. It makes traveling to and from the stadium much easier and it helps if the event times are at awkward hours.

San Antonio River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk goes on for several miles along the river and it features some of the region’s best shopping areas, restaurants and hotels. If you’re a big spender, then you won’t want to miss the stores here that offer some unique souvenirs and items that can only be found in San Antonio. If you plan to visit here, then make sure it coincides with the many arts and culture festivals that are regularly hosted.

Big Bend National Park
This is one of the most popular wilderness areas in Texas due to the size and varied landscapes that you’ll get to experience. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails that are suitable for both walking and biking, and you won’t want to miss the boat tours that will take you down the entire river which runs through the park. With over a thousand species of plants and over 400 species of birds, there’s plenty of wildlife to capture on your cameras too.

Padre Island National Seashore
Although it’s not quite a beach, it is the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island. Padre Island is easy to reach and is around 70 miles long if you measure the entire stretch. It’s an important conservation area in Texas because of the rare sea turtles and birds that migrate over to the area. It’s a bird watcher’s dream! There's also a visitor's center to help you get started with discovering this beautiful coast.

 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

September 13, 2017

Surf On The Beach Without Drowning In Phone Bills With Free Vacation Wifi



Not so long ago, vacations abroad were phone-free zones. Unless you wanted to face excessive roaming charges, you left your phone at home. If you did take it along, it went in the hotel safe the moment you arrived.

Now, though, the idea of going a week without a phone is too much for many of us to bear. Luckily, modern living and free wifi in most areas means we can keep our phones handy. Some providers even offer free travel-wifi as standard. Bear in mind that, if you are using free wifi spots, you need to ensure you’re only connected to that wifi! The moment you’re out of range, you’ll start paying big time. To avoid accidents, turn your wifi capabilities off as soon as you leave a free area.

So, what does this mean for you? While you should still avoid calls and texts when away, wifi capabilities at least enable you to contact people back home. Here’s how.

Free Messaging
Texting should be well and truly off your vacation cards. Many a holiday maker has returned to a hefty bill for this exact reason. Instead, you can make use of free wifi spots when looking to chat with your loved ones.

Programs such as Whatsapp are perfect for this. Here, you can message with as much ease as texting would afford you. Better, it won’t cost you a penny. Using this program, you can even send video clips and photos without worry. Video calling is also an option if you fancy it!

The main downside with Whatsapp is that you’ll only be able to talk with friends who have the program installed. For those who aren’t on Whatsapp, you could send messages on Facebook, or other social media platforms. If they aren’t on these, encourage them to sign during your time away. Unlike with Whatsapp, they won’t even have to download anything to do so. 






 
Hassle-Free Postcards
Postcards used to be a staple of any holiday. Despite the fact you could barely fit anything on the back, these were the primary form of communication with people back home. Things have moved on since then. While postcards can still be a fun part of your holiday, you no longer have to traipse around looking for the perfect one. Now, companies like My Postcard offer a photo postcard app. This ensures you get the perfect image each time. Even better, sending them is as easy as tapping a button on your screen.

Share Your Holiday Snaps
Let’s be honest; no one enjoys long displays of someone else’s vacation pictures. Now, you can spread them out by posting them on platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat. (Check out this fun article on11 Tips for Taking the Perfect Travel Shot on Instagram). Your loved ones are sure to appreciate your picture taking more when it comes in small groups like this. Plus, it's a fantastic way to keep photos safe. If you run out of room on your memory card, you can delete images and rest easy that you’ll retrieve them when you get home. 

 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

Gifts For Kids: The Best Presents For Every Occasion

 

Buying presents can be notoriously stressful. You might assume that buying for kids is easier than shopping for adults, but children can be the harshest critics, and they may not hold back if they’re not head over heels with the gift you’ve bought. If you’re thinking about starting your Christmas shopping a bit early, you’ve got birthdays on the horizon, or you’re preparing to celebrate a new arrival, hopefully, this gift guide will come in useful. Here are some ideas to help you make the right choices whatever the occasion.


Shopping for teenagers
Teenagers are perhaps the trickiest age group to buy for. They’ve outgrown toys and games, but they’re not ready to resign themselves to a lifetime of socks or perfume just yet. If you’re on the lookout for gifts for teens, here is a list of 50 Cool Gifts for Teens, curated by Good Housekeeping.

Hobbies and interests
The first thing to do if you want to make shopping a much less daunting exercise and increase your chances of getting rave reviews is to consider your teen’s interests. If they have a bit of spare cash after the holidays or they’ve asked for money for their birthday in the past, what have they spent it on? Matching gifts to hobbies and passions is a great idea, as you can guarantee that you’ll get something your teen loves. Are they a music fan? Do they love sports? Are they artsy or do they live for fashion? Once you’ve pinpointed some general areas, you can start to narrow down the range of options. If you’ve got a creative teen on your hands, you could buy some supplies, organize some classes or even take a trip to a museum or a gallery together. If your teen loves watching or playing sports, you could treat them to a new sports jersey, order some customized sneakers or book tickets for a game. You don’t always have to buy material items. Experiences are a way of making memories that will stay with your teen forever.

Monetary Contributions
Most teenagers are always saving up for something, so birthdays and Christmas offer excellent opportunities to boost their savings. Perhaps you could contribute to a new laptop, a camera or a purse, for example.

Major Milestones
The teenage years are full of milestones, and many parents look for ways to celebrate achievements. If your teen is about to reach the age when they can start driving, for example, you could use this as inspiration for their birthday gift and pay for driving lessons or contribute money towards a car.




Buying Gifts For Young Children
When you buy presents for young children, you want them to tear off the wrapping and their faces to light up. You don’t want to get something they cast aside and chuck in the bottom of the toy box. There are so many options out there if you’re looking for ideas for younger children. Going to the store can be helpful because you get to see toys and games in the flesh, but shopping online can often represent a better option, as there’s much more choice and prices tend to be more competitive, so you get more for your money.





When you’re buying gifts for young children, think about what they like. Have they got a favorite TV program or film character? Are they obsessed with cartoons, sports or do they adore princesses? Have you got an animal fan in the family or does your child love arts and crafts? If you know exactly what you want, but you’re not sure where to find it, use search engines to locate products that fit the bill. It’s also a good idea to compare prices online if you have a product name or code. Browsing websites can also give you inspiration.

It’s a really good idea to think outside of the box and look for gifts that have a personal touch, especially if you want to combine fun gifts with presents that will stand the test of time. If you’re buying for a first birthday, for example, you may want to give gifts that your child can keep forever. Many websites and retailers now offer the chance to personalize items, and this is a great way to make the presents you give unique and thoughtful. It’s worth remembering that kids are usually all about the fun element when they’re very young. You may think that an outfit is gorgeous, but unless you have a toddler that is incredibly fashion-conscious, you’ll probably find that they’d prefer a book, some outdoor games or a toy than a pair of trousers or a dress. Dress-up clothes are a different thing altogether, and they'll go over wonderfully if your kids love to play pretend role play games.



Welcome To The World Gifts
If you have a friend or relative that is about to give birth, you may be hunting for a perfect welcome to the world gift. There are lots of traditional gifts you can choose from, or you can go for something a little bit different. Clothing, soft toys and decorative items for the nursery are all excellent ideas, but if you’re keen to make your gift stand out from the crowd, you may wish to consider other options. You could design a customized print for the wall, order a bespoke money box or go for something like a wooden train set or a limited edition book. Adding personalized details is always a nice touch, and you can make the gift unique with the child’s name, date of birth and birth weight. It’s also a lovely idea to put together a box of items from the day the child was born, for example, a newspaper, a copy of the single at the top of the charts and a family photograph. Another idea is a video diary or a photograph album that you could present when the child is older.

If you’re looking for inspiration for newborn gifts, it’s a great idea to search online. There are so many websites you can order from and images and photographs that will give you ideas and help you think if you don’t want to go down the traditional gift path.




New Sibling Presents
Having a new sibling can be very exciting, but it can also be a confusing ordeal, especially if you only have one child. It’s daunting for a child to go from being the apple of their parents’ eye to having to share the limelight. If you’re expecting, and you already have a child, you don’t need to spoil them with hundreds of gifts to ensure they feel loved, but buying a couple of presents could help to prevent them from feeling neglected and also encourage them to get excited about the impending arrival. One fantastic idea is a personalized top that says big brother or big sister. You can add the child’s name, and you could even use this gift as a way of telling your child that they’re going to have a new baby to look after if you haven’t already broken the news. You can make a customized shirt online and choose a design your little one will love. Perhaps they’re a dinosaur fan, love sports, are wild for animals, or are a budding superhero? It’s also a really good idea to buy a gift from your new baby to your older child. This helps to get the relationship off on the right foot, and it can help the other child to feel included at a time when visitors are likely to be cooing over the new addition.



Starting School
Starting school is a momentous occasion for any child or parent. Somehow, children tend to age years and grow a foot overnight when this milestone comes around, and it’s definitely worth taking note of in some way. You could plan a little party the weekend before the big day or after the first day at school, or you could treat your child to some brand new stationery or even order customized items with your child’s name on them. It’s always a good idea to check with the school first, just in case children are required to have uniform products. You don’t want to send your kids to school with bottles or bags that aren’t allowed.




If you’re a parent or you have close friends or siblings with children, you may be on the hunt for unique gifts that are guaranteed to bring smiles. It can be tough to find presents for children, especially if you’re determined to get a positive reaction, but there are ways of making shopping less stressful. Always bear the individual child in mind, and think about what they like doing in their spare time. Use the Internet for inspiration and have a good look around. Explore quirky ideas and look into unique gifts. Personalized presents are always a great idea for marking special occasions and momentous milestones, and there’s always a huge range of products out there. 


 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.