Category Archives: Travel

Booking Wedding Transportation Follow this tips

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 your loved ones may wish to leave the party at 11 p.m. and not celebrate until 2 a.m. If your budget is tight and you can’t afford two separate return transportation opportunities, ask a family friend if they wouldn’t mind carpooling. It’s always a nice gesture to thank your loved ones with a small gift for their time.

One thing my fiancé and I were considering when booking our venue was that our bridal party would need return transportation; otherwise talk to family members, MOH or your event planner if you hired one and ask for alternative recommendations. It’s thoughtful to think of your bridal party’s needs after they have celebrated your love all day and night.

2. Get Creative

One of my favorite details at weddings is always the form of transportation. If limos aren’t your style or you want to splurge on something special for both you and your groom, then think wedding trolleys, school buses (perfect for teachers!) or even a horse-drawn carriage for the ultimate fairytale moment.

3. Prepare Yourself

You know that itinerary you’ve been obsessing over like a busy little bee? Fax or email it to your transportation company such as wedding transportation phoenix , along with all of the necessary directions, including alternate routes in case of an untimely traffic jam. It’s also a great idea to give the itinerary to your bridal party, along with any necessary numbers they may need to have handy.

4. The Fine Print

Now that you’ve established what your transportation needs are and have a better idea of what they’ll cost, let’s get down to business! Get a written agreement that includes the following terms of service: total cost, deposits required, refund and gratuity policies, arrival and departure locations, pick-up/drop-off times, the exact models of the vehicles you’ve requested and the overtime rate per hour. This will give you extra peace of mind!

When you’re ready to sign on the dotted line, it’s important to ask about “all-inclusive pricing,” which should always include the total fare, but may not always include taxes.

5. Budget

Your finances have dictated everything from the centerpieces you’ve chosen to the dress that you’ll rock down the aisle, and wedding-day transportation is no exception. Consider the cost per hour, price of mileage and the distance involved from one point to another when booking your contract. Most companies will charge a minimum of three to four hours ($50 to $300 per hour depending on where you live and which vehicle you’ve rented).

6. Timeline

While you don’t need to know every little detail of your wedding day down to the second, you will have to map out how the bulk of your day will be spent and where. For example, where are you getting your hair and makeup done? Are you having a “first look” or taking bridal party portraits at a different venue? These are all factors that may impact your transportation. If you need help gauging how much time you’ll need for those all-important shutterbug moments, ask your photographer. Be sure to include some cushioning to your schedule in case of any last-minute emergencies, such as a bridal party member or vendor showing up late.

Once you’ve established a basic timeline, it’s time to start researching rental companies. Ideally, you should start your search about four to six months before the big day, but you can certainly book well in advance.

Tips to find the wonderful destination in italy

images (7)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 listed on the menu and you don’t want to be the annoying foreigner who asks for special items.

4.) Prepare to eat late

Many restaurants, especially the fancy ones, don’t open until 7pm or later.

5.) When browsing menus and deciding where to eat, pay attention to the “Il coperto” (cover charge)

The cover charge varies from restaurant to restaurant (usually a few Euros). This charge is often listed at the bottom of the menu. This way you won’t be surprised when you get the bill.

6.) ATMs & Money

It’s a good idea to exchange some money before you leave your home country. ATMs are the most economical way to exchange money while you are in Italy, but the airport ATMs may be empty when you land (especially on a weekend) and you don’t want to be forced to exchange your money at one of the expensive currency exchanges.

7.) Transportation strikes are common in Italy, so give yourself plenty of time if you need to catch a flight

Don’t be shocked if there is a strike of some sort that may affect your travel plans. It’s not uncommon for Italians to have train strikes, taxi strikes or bus strikes.

Strikes have become a part of the culture and way of life in Italy. Most strikes are announced ahead of time so you can usually plan around them. Just be sure to pay attention to signs in the local train stations about any upcoming strikes.

8.) Book accommodation outside of big cities to get the best deals and avoid crowds

If you don’t want to pay full price for your accommodation or if you prefer to avoid major crowds, oftentimes you can find a hotel, hostel or campground in a nearby town.

This came in handy during our travels in Cinque Terre. (To learn more about The 5 Villages, find out where to stay in Cinque Terre.) There was a train strike and if we had stayed in any one of the 5 villages, we wouldn’t have been able to get a train out. A fellow traveler said it cost him 50 Euros for a taxi to the next town so he could catch his train. Thankfully there were no taxi strikes that day!

9.) Train Travel

Book your tickets at the train station with an actual person whenever possible. Some of the booking options are not available online or in the station kiosks. Tren Italia’s website is also notorious for not working correctly.

If you want to book ahead of time to get the best price, but you don’t know your exact dates or time of departure, then get an “Ordinary Ticket.” You will have the flexibility of open ended dates and times. Just keep in mind that it does have an expiration date, so make sure to ask the customer service representative before you purchase.

Also, don’t forget to validate your ticket before you hop on the train to avoid fines!

PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR ITALY

In addition to the usual Europe packing list, make sure to bring these essential items:

Travel Umbrella: It’s always a good idea to pack a small travel umbrella — especially during the winter and spring.

Mosquito Repellent: I did not experience too many mosquitos, but mosquitos are not uncommon during the spring/summer months in many areas of Italy. Thistravel size spray pump won’t take up much room in your suitcase.

Earplugs: Bring your earplugs just in case you end up in a noisy location.

Nice Clothes: Many Italians are stylish, so don’t be afraid to bring some nice clothes. For the women, jeans and a cute pair of boots will be fine. For more travel packing tips, visit our guide on how to stay stylish while traveling.

Daypack: You’ll need something to carry around your camera gear and souveniers. Ladies, this oversized purse is stylish, comfortable, and it fits everything I need for a day of exploring Italy.

Italy Travel Tips - Packing Essentials

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO ITALY

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:

  • Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The price calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation:

  • Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets. We stayed here in Cinque Terre & loved it!

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9 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Italy

Do you have any Italy travel tips to add?

Tips to Find Best Castles and Vineyards

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.

The province of Piacenza has hundreds of wineries and one of the highest densities of castles in Italy. I was sold on vineyards and wine, but castles too? I could barely contain my excitement as we left our apartment in Bologna that morning. The city of Piacenza is an easy train ride from the cities of Milan or Bologna, where travelers can then rent a car to explore the rest of the province.

Our first stop was Agriturismo Racemus in Ziano Piacentino, where we met a lovely couple who run the farmhouse and B&B, which is open to travelers wishing to taste homemade cuisine and wine. We spent the afternoon eating and drinking on their large covered porch, overlooking miles of vineyards. Laura was a gracious host, serving various fresh Italian dishes and copious amounts of wine from their own vineyard.

With full bellies and a bit of a buzz, we climbed back into Elaine’s car for another picturesque drive to our next location. It was time to visit a castle! At the top of a steep hill, our guide parked her car in front of the towering exterior walls of the Rocca D’ Olgisio.

The Rocca D’ Olgisio is one of the oldest castles in Piacenza, dating back to at least 1037. The Bengalli Family has owned the castle since 1979 and built five gorgeous hotel rooms inside the fortress. Tom, the castle’s “guard” dog, greets the guests of the castle and had no problem posing for multiple photos.

My time in the Piacenza province was brief, but I still felt a sentimental connection to this area of Italy. Emilia Romagna is known as the land with a soul, which isn’t hard to believe once you’ve spent a little time immersing yourself in this remote area of the region.

How to find best destination in itally and affordable is of course

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 — a two-minute walk from the apartment — where I always knew I would find the freshest cheese and Prosciutto. Just next door stood a small pizza shop, with margarita pizza for a mere 2.5 euros and a line of locals out the door. Osteria dell’Orsa (another local favorite) was just around the corner for a taste of the traditional Tagliatelle al Ragu.

 

 

I think Bologna is often overlooked because of its location. It’s sandwiched between three of the most popular cities in Italy — Milan, Venice and Florence. This city is perfect for travelers who have had their fill of the traditional sightseeing spots in Italy. If you want to really get to know Italy and immerse yourself in the culture, then Bologna won’t disappoint.

 

 

This post was brought to you as a result of the #Blogville campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tips Before Visiting In Venice

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 taxi stop. Trust me, you do not want to drag your luggage very far in Venice.

I stayed at Hotel Palazzo Vitturi, which is within a 5-minute walk from both the Rialto and San Marco water taxi stops. This hotel is in the perfect location for exploring the top spots in Venice — including the Piazza San Marco, Riva Degli Schiavoni, and Bridge of Sighs.

The rooms are HUGE, the WiFi worked great, the staff was extremely helpful, and I was amazed with the spread they served for breakfast — which is included in your room price. I stayed in March and it was just over 100 USD per night. Keep in mind, prices everywhere in Venice increase during the summer season.

HEAD TO THE OUTER ISLANDS

Some of the most photogenic places in Venice are on the outer islands. The small islands of Burano and Murano are not to be missed. I recommend spending the day island hopping and plan on having lunch on one of these islands. Fish lovers must try Gatto Nero on Burano. For those searching for more of a sandy beach experience, head to Lido!

WHERE THE LOCALS EAT

Do your research beforehand on the best restaurants frequented by locals in Venice. If the locals eat there, that usually means it’s authentic. Yelp is a great app and usually the first thing I check when I arrive in a new city. For a few specific restaurant recommendations, here are four local eateries near the Rialto Bridge.

BE PREPARED TO GET LOST

Even the most directionally gifted travelers get lost in Venice. Google maps will even lead you astray, giving directions to a dead end down a small alley. If you just plan on getting lost, you’ll be much less frustrated. You never know what you might accidentally find.

DON’T IGNORE THE TOP TOURIST SITES

Places like Piazza San Marco, Riva Degli Schiavoni, and Bridge of Sighs are popular for a reason. Don’t ignore these tourist hot spots in Venice. I also highly recommend a trip to the top of Campanile di San Marco for a bird’s eye view of the city. Plan on getting there when the building opens for the shortest wait time.

SPEND SOME TIME OUTSIDE OF THE MAIN TOURIST AREAS

This is where getting lost will come in handy. Wear comfortable shoes and spend the day walking to the lesser-known areas of Venice. A few of my favorite neighborhoods include Cannaregio, Santa Croce, and Dorsoduro.

GET UP EARLY

I’m usually up before sunrise when I travel and Venice was no exception (this is also where jet lag comes in handy). I practically had the place to myself — even the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Marks Square) was empty! When I visited the square in the afternoon, I could not believe the crowds and I didn’t even travel to Venice during the busy summer season.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST GELATO

I mean, can you really come to Italy and not eat gelato?? Even if you are vegan or lactose intolerant, most good gelaterias make fruit-based sorbetti, which is also delicious!

In Venice, I met up with a local who gave me the inside scoop on how to spot good gelato in Italy. Since making gelato out of pure fruit is more time consuming and expensive than using flavor extracts, you’ll want to take a look at the colors of the fruit-flavored gelato. If the banana is a bright yellow or the berry flavors are a light shade of purple, then the gelato is made with artificial flavors rather than pure fruit. Similarly, the pistachio should not look bright green.

Oh, and Alaska Gelateria is said to have THE best gelato in Venice.

PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR VENICE

If you are looking to avoid the summer crowds and visit Venice in the spring or fall, then you’ll want to prepare for cooler temperatures. In addition to the usual Europe packing list, make sure to bring these essential items:

  • Travel Umbrella: Regardless of the time of year, don’t forget your travel umbrella!
  • Mosquito Repellent: I did not experience mosquitos in March, but mosquitos are not uncommon during the spring/summer months. This travel size spray pump won’t take up much room in your suitcase.
  • Earplugs: It’s a city, so bring your earplugs just in case you end up in a noisy location.
  • Nice Clothes: Venice is a stylish city, so don’t be afraid to bring some nice clothes. For the women, jeans and a cute pair of boots will be fine. For more travel packing tips, visit our guide on how to stay stylish while traveling.

Simple and happiness tips to visit in Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

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.

WHERE TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

You may be tempted to stay in one of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, but our advice is to stay outside of these towns (we highly recommend Villa Margherita B&B) and take the train or ferry. Accommodation is cheaper and many of the neighboring towns (besides La Spezia) are less touristy and have more of an authentic feel.

We stayed in Levanto and fell in love with this small town. To learn more about the town of Levanto, read about our experience in Levanto, Italy.

Be aware that Italy train travel can be frustrating because it seems like they are having a strike almost every week. If a train strike occurs during your stay (which it did for us) then you may be stuck without a train out of any of the five villages. We met a couple who had to take a 60 Euro cab ride to a neighboring town in order to catch a train to get back to Rome.

If you have your heart set on staying in one of the villages, be prepared to spend more money. If you are traveling in summer, book FAR in advance. We traveled in May and had an extremely hard time finding any vacancies in the villages.

If you want to stay right in Riomaggiore (our favorite village) and you are booking in advance, I have heard amazing things about Zorza Hotel and Apartamento Rio Maggiore.

HOW TO GET AROUND IN CINQUE TERRE

You have a few different options for travel throughout the 5 villages. You can either hop on one of the many trains that link each village, take a ferry ride or hike the trails. There is also a taxi service in Monterosso, Vernazza and Manarola.

HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

At least three days is needed to see all of the villages, preferably more. If you try to visit too many villages in one day, you may find yourself spending too much time at the train stations and not enough time enjoying the beaches, restaurants and hikes.

BEST PLACES TO EAT IN CINQUE TERRE

Riomaggiore is a great place for dinner. We met quite a few people who ended their day in Riomaggiore at A Pie’ de Ma’ (spectacular views!) or at one of the many restaurants along the main strip.

We ate at the restaurant right below Mar Mar Hotel and a few others along the strip. These are just a few suggestions. Explore the area and hop into the first restaurant where the menu catches your eye. Most likely, you won’t be disappointed. After all, you ARE in Italy!

FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN CINQUE TERRE

If it’s hot outside, we highly recommend spending a few hours lounging by one of the gorgeous beaches in either Monterosso, Manarola or Riomaggiore.

Watch the sunset with a bottle of wine and a fresh pizza pie.

Taking photos in Cinque Terre is a must. Just be prepared to plant yourself early if you want to capture any of those postcard-perfect sunset shots.

Hiking any of the Cinque Terre trails is a popular thing to do while visiting this area. Two of the trails were closed during our visit due to the devastating floods, but we were able to hike the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, also known as “Italian Lover’s Lane.” This is by far the easiest and shortest hike and the views are simply stunning.

BEST TIME TO VISIT CINQUE TERRE

The best time to visit Cinque Terre, Italy will depend on your preference. Most travelers obviously visit in the summer to get the best weather for swimming and lounging on the beach. I always tell people to visit in either the late spring or early fall to avoid the summer crowds. We visited in May and it was hot enough to swim, but not too hot to walk around. If you are not scared of a chance of rain, then April, May and September are the best months to visit Cinque Terre.

WHAT TO PACK FOR CINQUE TERRE, ITALY

This will depend on the time of year you visit, but here are a few things to keep in mind when packing for a trip to Cinque Terre, Italy.

— If you want to hike any of the trails, make sure to bring a good pair of hiking or running shoes.

— Bring layers. I packed a couple of cute tunic tops and a cardigan to layer over my dresses or short-sleeved shirts.

— For the ladies, leggings are never a bad idea, plus a pair of comfortable shoes to go with nicer outfits. These are my favorite travel shoes. They have plenty of cushion and I’m always getting compliments.

— I always bring a sarong to wear over a swimsuit and it can even be used as a towel.

— If you visit in the colder months, these boots are perfect to wear with dresses and leggings.

— In my opinion, the most important thing to bring to Cinque Terre is a decent camera. You will want to capture these memories. To find out what camera gear we bring on our trips, visit our travel photography camera kit.

— If you visit in the spring or fall, you might want to bring a light waterproof jacket.

For more information about what we pack on our trips, visit our Europe packing list for women, our packing tips for world travelers, and our tips about how to stay stylish while traveling. To learn more about how to travel in Italy, visit our post with our best travel tips for Italy.

Tips to Find Gorgeous Zoo in Nepal

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.”

Awesome.

“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 animal and run as fast as you can to the nearest tree to climb.”

I began scanning the trees around me and imagined myself digging my nails into the trunk in order to climb up since I couldn’t find one that looked easy to climb.

“If we see a sloth bear, we must gather as a group and stand our ground. Don’t run and don’t climb a tree because the bears are fast and they can climb trees.”

Just to give you an idea of what a sloth bear can do to a human, I’ll quote Wikipedia on this one. “The sloth bear is also more inclined to attack man unprovoked than almost any other animal, and casualties inflicted by it are unfortunately very common, the victim being often terribly disfigured even if not killed, as the bear strikes at the head and face. Sloth bears rarely killed their human victims outright, but would suck and chew on their limbs till they were reduced to bloody pulps.”

Nice visual, right?

Luckily, I didn’t know this before my nature walk from hell, but regardless, it was another animal that I needed to remember how to protect myself from, if necessary.

As we set off on our walk, all I could think about was how much I hoped we didn’t see any animals. Most people hope to see something cool on a walk like this, but not me. Thanks to my guide, I preferred to have an extremely boring walk.

We stop before a large clearing in the park. Our guide lifts his binoculars to his eyes and silently scans the clearing while the rest of us wait patiently.

Did he see a rhino?

I look at another person in the group and we both give each other the “huh?” look at the same time and start cracking up. I’m sure we are thinking the same thing. That our guide is leading us into the rhino pit.

We continue following our guide, who speedily walks ahead of the rest of the group, along the edge of a large swamp. He is searching for birds or something in the trees. All I am searching for is the camouflaged crocodile that I fear may be lurking near us in the mud.

I find the courage to ask our guide, “Have you seen crocodiles here on your previous tours?”

“Oh yes, all the time.”

I try to laugh it off that this nature walk just keeps getting more and more frightening.

“How much longer on this wonderful nature walk?” I sarcastically ask our guide, hoping he will say we are almost there.

“We are about halfway now,” he says.

I cringe at the thought that we still have halfway to go.

All of a sudden, the girl walking behind me tells me to stop immediately. I instantly figure out why and I wait impatiently as she finds the courage to brush the very large insect off my back. My imagination gets carried away and I wonder if it’s a huge spider like the one I found in my hotel room the night before or the one we encountered earlier on the trail.

Nope. It turns out it’s just a big weird bug.

Our guide then stops along the trail and crouches down to his knees to get a closer look at the ground. He turns to us and says,

Destinations Tips For Female Travelers

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

WALES

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.

CANADA

Almost all of my trips to Canada have been solo journeys and I’ve always felt extremely safe. In Quebec, you’ll find a huge cinematic and television culture like the Festival of International Short Film, as well as the famous winter Carnavale in Quebec City. Ontario houses the country’s largest city, Toronto, whose theater, music, and comedy venues are comparable in both quality and number to those in New York City.

The number of national parks, from Niagara Falls to Mount Revelstoke’s 1,000-year old forest, will give you plenty opportunities to hike, camp, ski, surf, and star-gaze. Wildlife lovers, like myself, often find Canada to be one of the best places to head out into the wilderness.

From spending the day with wild grizzly bears and getting up-close and personal with puffins to kayaking and snorkeling with whales, I’ve had some of my most magical solo (and non-solo) wildlife experiences in Canada. There’s plenty of tour operators who provide amazing outdoor experiences in this country, so you don’t need to worry about being completely alone in the wild.

For more Canada travel tips (besides the above mentioned wildlife posts), visit:Essential Travel Tips for North Vancouver Island.

COSTA RICA

This country is excellent for ecotourists and those looking to learn more about sustainability — also, those looking to enjoy some aquatic fun! Watch and help sea turtles at their nesting grounds in Tortugero National Park or surf amazing waves at Playa Bonita. Costa Rica is also quickly becoming known for its large number of thermal spas, hot springs, and yoga retreats. What’s better than a solo yoga retreat?

For more ideas about what to do in Costa Rica, visit Pura Vida – Costa Rica.

BALI

Though some of the other Indonesian islands can be more conservative, intercultural Bali is a great and accepting place to travel on one’s own. With amazing beaches and underwater exploration sites like the USS Liberty shipwreck, it makes a perfect place for snorkel and scuba adventures. There are many carved temple sites to explore, including the famous Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

For more information about my travels in Bali, visit these posts: Eat, Pray, Love, and Surf in Bali & The Ultimate Bali Travel Guide.

NEPAL

For the intrepid female explorer, Nepal’s wide range of adventure tourism opportunities are perfect. Since adventure and ecotourism make up a large portion of Nepal’s economy, there are lots of opportunities to meet with an adventure tourism agency or hire a local Sherpa to bring you hiking up the Himalayans or exploring the wilderness.

I spent two weeks with a local guide, visiting tiny remote villages such as Dhading and Sankhu, meeting locals who made a bigger impact on me than any stunning vista ever could. I won’t lie, my visit to Nepal was trying at times, but the people were always warm and welcoming.

For more Nepal posts, visit these pages: I See the Light in You & First Impressions of Nepal.

AUSTRALIA

The large backpacking culture here means hostels, bars, and restaurants are familiar with solo travelers — but if you’re looking for the opportunity to make other traveling friends, this is one of the best places to do so! Surfers will love the continent, but foodies too, especially on the wine trails. There are already several popular backpacking and campervan routes established, so go where the wind takes you!

For more Australia travel tips and stories, visit these posts: How to Take a Road Trip in Australia & Chasing Waves in the Land of OZ.

BONAIRE

Fresh fruit, bright sun, soft sand, and 60 to 100 foot underwater visibility: Bonaire is an amazing Caribbean destination. Along with its incredible beaches and dive sites, Bonaire is also known for its Karnival in February, a colorful, island-wide party that lasts almost two weeks!

For more Bonaire travel stories, visit these posts: Learning to Dive in Bonaire & Unforgettable Bonaire.

SCANDINAVIA

Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden have some of the most progressive gender-equality policies in the world, but they also happen to have incredibly low crime rates. Visit the Fjords in Norway, hike and camp without reproach thanks to Sweden’s Right to Public Access, and make sure to book a hotel with skylights while in Lapland so you can enjoy the Northern Lights and glowing midnight sun.

For Sweden travel tips, read 7 Things You Should Know Before You Visit Sweden and my Island Hopping Guide to West Sweden. I’m visiting Norway in less than two weeks, so stay tuned for plenty of posts on travel in Norway!

THAILAND

Not only does this country have some of the most flavorful food in the world, but you can also find Thai massages for cheap! Relaxing, right? Thailand is very used to tourists, especially in its main cities like Bangkok and Phuket. In the north you’ll be able to explore the mountains and Buddhist shrines, while the south offers excellent surfing, as well as some famous Full Moon Parties for the adventurous. Some of my favorite spots in Thailand include Koh Phangan and Kata Beach.

SCOTLAND

I explored the Inner and Outer Hebrides on a solo trip just a couple of years ago and loved every second of it. The locals are friendly and always up for a good time. I met so many people on this trip that I rarely ever felt alone.

Edinburg has a reputation for being a perfect place for sailing, surfing, and sea kayaking beginners to get their first taste of the water, thanks to its long-time history as a seaside destination in Great Britain. As Scotland’s capitol, it also hosts a number of cultural festivals like the Edinburgh International Performing Arts Festival.

Fountain of Youth Tips in Israel

“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 cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

We arrived at Mineral Beach in the late afternoon, just as the sun began to sink behind the mountains. After changing into our suits, we hurried down the hill to snag some chairs and drag them to the water’s edge.

There was no shortage of people giggling in the water or capturing those classic reading-a-newspaper-while-floating-in-the-Dead-Sea photos. I inched my way into the water — it was colder than I had anticipated — and once the waterline hit my waist, I let the buoyancy take over. The salty water lifted my feet to the surface and I immediately felt like I was floating on a raft. No treading water — just resting peacefully in the Dead Sea.

The water made my skin tingle, similar to what it feels like after I’ve surfed for a few hours in the ocean — but multiplied by ten. The Dead Sea is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean, which makes this water too harsh for any living creatures to survive in. But, short dips in the sea has been shown to heal many ailments. Think of it like a huge Epsom salt bath. Supposedly, the magnesium in the water can decrease stress, reduce inflammation, and improve the use of oxygen in the body, while the bromide salts are a mild germicide.

Whether the healing properties are scientifically proven or just a placebo effect, I felt refreshed and content after spending just fifteen minutes in the water. I guess you could say I was a kid again, even if it was only for a few hours.

Know Before You Go:

Mineral Beach is located on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea. The entrance fee is 50 or 60 Shekels (depending on the day of the week) for adults and 30 or 35 Shekels for children. They offer other amenities on the property, such as a sulphur water pool, fresh water pool and spa treatments.

How to find Best Restaurants In Israel

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 you prefer. His gourmet seafood restaurant in Akko — which is named after him — is one of the few places I’ve ever been willing to try unknown seafood dishes. He can make any fish taste good, in my opinion.

The “tasting menu” is a must here. Once your waiter determines what you don’t (or won’t) eat, they begin bringing small portions of a variety of dishes until you are full.

DECKS IN TIBERIAS

Decks is located on Gdud Barak Street in the town of Tiberias. This restaurant is considered Kosher barbeque and serves up some killer meat dishes. I highly recommend sitting on their huge outdoor deck, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee. They use ancient roasting methods to cook a variety of meat, poultry, fish and vegetables — all seasoned to perfection.

SOCIAL CLUB IN TEL AVIV

Speaking of meat, one of the best rib eye steaks I have ever had was served at the Social Club in Tel Aviv. Every dish I tasted from this elegantly-designed restaurant was to die for — the freshest tomatoes, creamy potato puree, mint shrimp kebabs, pasta dishes and more.

The Social Club is located at 45 Rothschild Boulevard (in the piazza behind Max Brenner). Reservations are recommended!

VICKI CHRISTINA IN TEL AVIV

Named after the Woody Allen movie, this tapas and wine bar offers wonderful outdoor seating, underneath one of Tel Aviv’s oldest trees. It’s a great place to dine with a group of friends, where you can order an assortment of tapas to share. I highly recommend the Beet Carpaccio, Camarones a la Broqueta and Ensalada de Escarola.

Vicki Christina is located at 1 Koifmann Street at the Station Complex in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv.

AZURA RESTAURANT IN JERUSALEM

Azura Restaurant was my first experience with Iraqui cuisine and I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I ate here as part of Shuk Bites, a food tour at the Machne Yehuda Market, a self-guided tour where you can sample six different restaurants in the market.

Going with the beet theme of the trip, I ordered the Kubbah Soup — a sweet and sour soup with beets and dumplings.

HACHATZER IN JERUSALEM

HaChatzer is located in the Old Train Station area of Jerusalem, at 7 Derech Beth Lehem Road. Its a chef-owned restaurant where the Kosher cuisine is continually praised as some of the best in Israel.

I wish I could tell you what to order here, but honestly, the chef just kept bringing out dishes and there wasn’t a single thing I didn’t love. I know my meal involved melt-in-your-mouth falafel, a creamy eggplant dip, beef carpaccio and perfectly-seasoned fish.