1.) When you book an overnight train, make sure you specify Mr. or Ms. on your ticket
Our last overnight train experience made for a funny story, but we don’t recommend following in our footsteps.
Scott had accidentally booked my ticket under the Mr. salutation. The employee almost did not let us on the train since all of the compartments are separated male and female (unless you book a private compartment). Even after we convinced the train employee to let us on, our bunk mate was not happy and we couldn’t communicate with him since we didn’t speak the same language!
2.) Don’t order insalata verde and expect anything more than a bowl of lettuce
Take it from us and learn from our mistakes. Normally, house or green salads in the States have varied vegetables included, so I was not prepared for just a bowl of romaine lettuce..
3.) Don’t make special requests when ordering at a restaurant
Italians usually take things as
Belgium’s central location in the heart of Europe and its Dutch, Austrian, Spanish, and French political ancestry make it a perfect example of blended European sensibilities probably why its most famous city, Brussels, is the capital of the European Union. With delicious food and beer and a dense history of influential art and music, Belgium offers a wide range of historical, cultural, and culinary adventures.
As Belgium is a member of the Schengen Agreement, it’s easy to access as part of a larger European vacation, whether by air, rail, cruise, or car. As long as you have met the visa requirements for entering one Schengen Zone country, you are generally allowed trips to other countries within the zone, as long as they’re under 90 days. Keep in mind the Schengen Zone and the European Union are not the same thing, and make sure to fully research your visa requirements in advance, as there may be exceptions.
Within Belgium, the train is by far the best way to get around. Belgium is a small country, only 300km at
Feel free to share your own best travel tips at the end!
1. Patience Is Important
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless.
2. Wake Up Early
Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.
3. Laugh At Yourself
You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.
Once a whole bus full of Guatemalans laughed with glee
When I first got engaged, I immediately bought a humongous binder which I still own containing worksheets on how to help novice brides like my self plan their wedding with organized glee. I filled out many of the pages and felt like I had just passed a final exam until I got to the transportation section. How do I get my guests from Point A to Point B and map out our itinerary? Who do we include, who do we not include and where on Earth are we all going? The whole concept was starting to sound more like a lecture from my algebra teacher a class that I failed in school.
So I did what any obsessive-compulsive bride in my situation would do: I Googled as much info as I could find until finally, I developed a game plan. If you’re anything like me and are overwhelmed by the logistics of transporting your self and your bridal party to and fro on the wedding day, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some basic guidelines for tackling all of your transportation conundums.
1. Go the Extra Mile
If you’re providing transportation for out of town guests, factor in that some of
Our tiny car weaved through the country roads like a go cart on a race track. Elaine, our guide for the day, hails from New Jersey, but fell in love with an Italian and has called Italy her home for over ten years. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the driving habits of the locals in Italy and it was soon clear to me how much of a local Elaine had become. I’m normally an anxious passenger, but I relinquished control and busied my mind by admiring the passing vineyards.
Despite my love for Bologna, I longed to see the countryside of Emilia Romagna. Under the Tuscan Sun propelled the vineyards of Tuscany into the spotlight, but what about the other wine regions in Italy?
As our car sped along the twisting roads, I felt at home, even though I was thousands of miles away from my country. The green mountains, sloping vineyards, fields of haystacks, and fluid rivers reminded me of my childhood and these wide-open spaces always feel familiar to me.
With its colorful alleys, charming architecture, and miles of porticoes, Bologna is a city like no other. Despite its landlocked location, I immediately found myself daydreaming about planting roots in this laid back city — waking up to the smell of garlic, spending the day walking from cafe to cafe, meeting friends for Aperitivo, and immersing myself in the culture.
Loneliness often creeps in at some point during a visit to a new city — but in Bologna, I never felt lonely. I didn’t mind wandering the streets alone, browsing the street markets, requesting a table for one, or finding my way around the busy train station.
I found Bologna surprisingly easy to navigate, even for this directionally-challenged traveler. Despite Scott not joining me this trip, my days were never boring. I don’t think I would ever grow tired of making the 3.8 km trek to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca or gazing at the expanse of orange-colored buildings and miniature buses from the Asinelli tower.
Besides wandering the streets and exploring the cafe culture, I grew fond of my daily trips to the grocery store
With its historic buildings and gorgeous canals, Venice is one of Italy’s most famous attractions. This floating city consists of a group of 117 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. Planning a trip here can be overwhelming, but keeping these tips in mind before you depart will make your trip much easier!
TOP TRAVEL TIPS FOR VENICE, ITALY
FERRY TICKET TIPS & TRICKS
A one-way ferry ticket costs 6.50 Euros and it is good for 60 minutes — including switches. If you can’t find a ticket machine, you can purchase a ticket onboard for 1 Euro more, but you must tell the staff immediately upon boarding. Failing to mention it upon boarding will result in a hefty fine of 60+ Euros. If you do purchase your ticket at a machine, you MUST validate it by running it through a machine at the water taxi stop.
If you plan to use the ferries often, look into purchasing Venice’s all-inclusive transport pass before your trip.
BOOK A HOTEL NEAR A WATER TAXI STOP
I highly recommend staying at least two nights in Venice Proper and booking a hotel near a water
We spent time in Cinque Terre, Italy this year and while researching for our trip we noticed a lack of online travel guides for this area. So, we put together this complete guide with our best Cinque Terre travel tips.
HOW TO GET TO CINQUE TERRE, ITALY
The closest airport is Pisa and it’s about a 1 1/2 hour train ride from Cinque Terre. If you fly into Pisa Airport, take the train from Pisa Airport to Pisa Centrale. (Insider tip for flights: Momondo is the first place I check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines.) At Pisa Centrale, you will take a connecting train to Cinque Terre.
If you are arriving by car, it is highly suggested to stay in the neighboring towns of the 5 Terre region, such as Levanto. You will have a much easier time finding parking. Our hotel, Villa Margherita B&B, offered free parking for guests. To see a full review of this hotel, visit our post on where to stay in Cinque Terre — Villa Margherita B&B Review.
Our guide’s safety briefing left me even more confused than if he hadn’t said anything at all regarding what to do if we see each of the deadly animals.
Climb a tree to get away from a tiger? Hug a bear? Stare down a rhino? I know my reaction to any of these animals is going to be instinctively screaming and running in the opposite direction, just like the time I encountered a rattle snake at Joshua Tree National Park. All the safety talks in the world can’t help me when I’m surprised by an animal that can potentially kill me.
The best part is when he told us to avoid blinking our eyes when staring down a tiger. Are you kidding me?
“The tiger will attack the second you blink your eyes.”
“Most likely you won’t spot a tiger before it attacks though. They usually stalk their prey from behind.”
Well, that makes me feel better. At least now I don’t need to worry about whether or not I’m going to blink.
“If we spot a rhino and it begins to charge at us, throw something to distract the
The truth is, solo traveling to another country as a woman is actually not as threatening as it may seem. While there are some countries where a woman traveling alone will certainly draw more attention, in general a willingness to respect local customs and a cautious awareness of your surroundings will see you through.
Sometimes, though, it’s easier not to worry about extreme culture differences. Sometimes you just want to have fun. In these ten destinations, it’s not uncommon to see women traveling alone, so you can feel free to relax without standing out.
10 SAFE DESTINATIONS FOR SOLO FEMALE TRAVLERS
This country in the west of the United Kingdom has an amazing landscape and an even more amazing cultural history. If you’re interested in the King Arthur mythology, you’ll find a number of important sites from those texts. If you’re into outdoor sports, try a solo hike on the Pembrokeshire coast. Cardiff, the capitol, also offers a number of theaters (including the famous Millennium Center), museums, sports arenas, and shopping centers.
Almost all of my trips to Canada have been solo journeys and I’ve always felt extremely safe. In
“Do you feel like children again?” our guide asked as our van climbed toward Sea Level.
I didn’t know how to respond or what she was getting at and apparently neither did anybody else because the van fell silent.
“It is said that you will turn back time twenty years by swimming in the Dead Sea, so you must feel like children,” she continued.
“Ah, yes. I do feel giddy now that you mention it,” I replied from the back of the van.
I had never given much thought to the healing properties of the Dead Sea. I always thought it would be fun to float effortlessly in the heavily-salted water, but I didn’t delve much into the health effects.
The drive to the Dead Sea in Israel is full of twisting turns and endless views of the crystal-clear water below. Along the way, we made a pit stop at Sea Level, where a man tried to coax us into paying him a dollar to photograph his camel. We passed Jericho (believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world) and further down the road, our guide pointed out the
Israel is a small country, but they have no shortage of unique and mouth-watering cuisine. I was lucky enough to have a local guide showing me around the country, so a good portion of my trip was centered around tasting as many different types of cuisine as possible — often for hours at a time.
It’s not just Israeli food that you will find in Israel. Some of my favorite dishes came from nearby countries — which, of course, makes sense considering Israel is such a melting pot of cultures.
HUMUS SAID IN AKKO (ACRE)
Humus Said is known for serving the best hummus in Akko — and possibly in all of Israel. It’s located in the market of the old city and there is always a line out the door, with tourists and locals who can’t get enough of their secret recipe. They serve a variety of Mediterranean dishes in addition to their famous hummus — and the portions are large, so you won’t leave hungry!
URI BURI IN AKKO (ACRE)
Uri Buri is a friendly and very well-known local who is more than happy to talk about food as long as
This word continues to play over and over in my head, even after I’ve returned home from Germany. I heard it hundreds of times over the course of the three days I spent celebrating Karneval in Dusseldorf.
What does it mean, you ask?
Helau is the local word for the Karneval greeting in Dusseldorf — each city who celebrates Karneval has their own word — and it basically means hallelujah.
WHAT IS KARNEVAL?
Karneval (or Carnival) is like the Mardi Gras of Europe and one of the best parties in Germany. This tradition dates back to Medieval times and is celebrated between February and March (the dates vary from year to year). Karneval officially begins on November 11th at 11:11am, but the crazy parties don’t really begin until Altweiberfastnacht, sometime between mid-February and mid-March.
In the early days, Karneval celebrations symbolized the driving out of winter and its evil spirits, so people wore masks to scare away these spirits. At Karneval-Time, the common folk had the chance to spoof the royals. Even today, it’s a time when people can mock the government without being punished.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Altweiberfastnacht (AKA the
Australia is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It’s known as a major backpacking, camping, and driving destination, but no matter what your travel style is, there is something to draw you here. The country is filled with incredible natural beauty from Uluru to the outback, rainforests to pristine white sand beaches, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. Sydney’s Harbor Bridge and Opera House are iconic man made wonders, and Melbourne’s café culture will make you feel like you are in Europe. Coupled with world class surfing, and it is no wonder people never leave. I’ve been three times, and every trip, I find something new to love. Use my extensive travel guide to help plan your next trip. I know you will love the country as much as I do!
Destination Guides for Australia
- Alice Springs
- Gold Coast
- Fraser Island
- Whitsunday Islands
Accommodation – Hostels start at $20 AUD per night for a dorm room, though they get get as high as $40 in the big coastal cities. Private rooms with a double bed and a shared bathroom in hostels range between 80-100 AUD per night. For budget hotels, you
Dusseldorf was my first introduction to Germany and I couldn’t have picked a better city to get a taste of German culture. I did pass through Germany on a European tour in my twenties, but I’ve always had slightly negative feelings about the country after being robbed while sleeping on the train.
I know I can’t judge an entire country based on one incident and on a train nonetheless so when Air Berlin invited me to experience Karneval in Dusseldorf (the Mardi Gras of Europe) it sounded like too much fun to pass up.
I visited Dusseldorf during one of the busiest times of the year and yet I never once felt overwhelmed. I was with a group for part of my visit, but I did have plenty of time to explore the city without a guide. In fact, I barely pay attention to directions, train stops and street names when I’m on a tour, so I figured I’d be constantly lost during my free time in Dusseldorf — which surprisingly wasn’t the case.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IS USER FRIENDLY
Coming from someone who rarely has an opportunity to navigate public transportation at home, I
Some of these travel mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You simply cannot plan for everything. However, keeping a few important things in mind will make your travels much easier.
We always plan for delays and try not to get upset when things inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling!
MAKE A LIST
About a week or so before each trip, I make a mental list of items I don’t want to forget — which I WILL forget if I don’t write them down. I’ve learned that when I think of something, I need to write it down.
–>> Packing lists are essential! Read more: Packing Tips for World Travelers and The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide
LEARN COMMON PHRASES OF THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
A simple “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way. I also like to learn the word for beer, but that’s just me.
DON’T FORGET AN EXTRA CAMERA BATTERY (OR TWO)
Have you ever gotten to that epic sunset photo spot and realized your camera battery is dead and you don’t have