Do you want to see the greater world? Do you dream of going to beautiful places you see on TV and in movies or read in books? International travel is taking your travel life to whole new level. It costs more money and time and it involves prior planning, visa, deciding whether you want to go solo or with friends or family. There is a lot and rightfully, the payoff is also many times more. More fun, more exposure, experiencing new cultures and seeing a whole different landscape, people and much more.
Booked your first air ticket? Congratulations, you are soon going to fly at 32,000 ft above the clouds.
Flying for the first time can be both fun and exciting. However, if you have any flying anxiety, before boarding a flight, seek professional help or enroll in an online flying course to ensure a seamless experience.
Mistakes happen and many first-time flyers make blunders that can affect their journey and overall travel experience.
Let’s find out what are the most common travel mistakes and how you can avoid them!
Forgetting to check passport Expiration
There is nothing quite like the stress that comes from booking a flight and learning your passport is expired.
Many first-time flyers often make a mistake of not checking their passport expiration date. Some countries like China and Brazil require 6 months of passport validity. This means such countries will deny you entry if your passport isn’t valid for at least 6 months after your last day of travel.
It’s better to check your passport’s expiration date and, if needed, update it to avoid any problems.
As a first-time flyer, it may be tempting to pack a lot of stuff to make the trip more pleasant.
However, this can make your journey difficult and can boost the chances of you getting charged with potential baggage fines.
It is advised to go through the baggage allowance policies of your airline.
Reaching late at the airport
At the airport, it is a common sight to see people arriving late and many of them end up missing their flight.
For instance, if your plane departs at 2:00 pm, that doesn’t mean you have to reach the airport 20 or 30 minutes before just to find a closed boarding gate or to watch your plane flying away from the terminal.
Procedures like getting the boarding pass, security checks, and reaching terminals can all take much longer than you believe.
So, if you’re a first-time flyer, reach the airport at least 2 to 3 hours before the scheduled departure so that you have spare time to board the flight.
Not opting for web check-in
Whether you are a rookie flyer or an experienced jet setter, web check-in should be your top priority.
By web check-in, you can:
avoid standing in a long queue
save your precious time
choose the desired seat on the plane
immediately go through the security checks and then to the boarding
Forgetting to carry in-flight entertainment
This is the most common mistake that first-time flyers make.
Whether it’s a long-haul journey or not, carrying in-flight entertainment like headphones, iPad, e-reader, or smartphone can be a lifesaver on your flight.
Some of the benefits are:
Makes the journey enjoyable and fun
Calm your flying jitters
Time passes quickly
Keep you distracted
Block unwanted noises
Let’s wrap up
In-advance planning, double-checking your luggage, arriving on time, and avoiding these potential mistakes can make your first flight comfortable.
Above all, don’t’ forget to communicate with your co-passengers and seek help from the crew if you feel uncomfortable.
Malaga in southern Spain is famous for its sunny weather and sandy beaches, but there’s more to Malaga than simply beach tourism.
Sitting on the Mediterranean coast in Andalusia, this multicultural city has everything: an incredible history, sumptuous cuisine, a thriving art scene, and deep cultural roots.
No matter what kind of traveler you are or what you look for in a holiday, you’ll find something that appeals to you in Malaga.
If you’re looking for some inspiration and suggestions, here are the top ten things you need to do in Malaga.
Malaga is famous for much more than the beach.
Explore Malaga’s History in Alcazaba
Malaga is reportedly one of the oldest cities in Europe, with its history dating back to approximately 770 BC when it was founded by the Phoenicians.
Over the years, it was then inhabited by the Romans, Moors, and Christians, all of whom contributed to this city’s diverse, multifaceted history and monuments you can still see today.
Perhaps the best of these is Malaga’s Alcazaba fortress in the city centre. It backs onto a Roman Theatre and sits watch on a hill overlooking the sea.
Built in the 11th century by the Arabs inhabiting the city at the time, this beautiful fortress houses a series of stunning patios and gardens typical of Arab architecture. The building’s defensive nature combines with its palatial character in a visual wonder of marble columns, archways, fountains, and turrets.
You can notice the Moorish-Arabic influence in the architecture
A Roman Theatre dating back to the 1st century AD sits proudly next to this Arab building in a juxtaposition that perfectly reflects Malaga’s multicultural history and heritage.
Finally unearthed in 1951, it’s one of the last vestiges of Malaga’s Roman past and well worth a visit. Over half of its tiered seating remains today, along with its stage. Nowadays, it even occasionally hosts shows as it is so well preserved.
Dive into the City’s Art Scene & Visit Picasso Museum
Patio of the Buenavista Palace
Second only to Madrid in terms of the number of museums, Malaga has made quite the name for itself in the art world. In addition, Malaga is famous for being the birthplace of the widely celebrated painter and sculptor, Pablo Picasso.
The Picasso Museum in this Andalusian city is housed in the 16th-century Palacio de Buenavista, which in itself is a building worth a visit.
The work displayed in this museum spans 80 years of Picasso’s art, while its library and archives contain a vast number of titles on Picasso. The museum also has a bookshop selling various books related to Picasso and art in general, as well as a café in a quaint, leafy courtyard if you fancy a break from your day of tourism.
Or if you would like to learn even more about Picasso, you can also head to the Picasso Birthplace Museum (Museo Casa Natal). Take a tour through the rooms of the home where this great painter was born and learn about his family life and Malaga’s influence on his works.
Experience the Importance of Religion in Malaga
Christmas Lights in Malaga
Spanish people are passionate by nature, and their passion applies to religion too. Here in southern Spain, Catholicism is deep-rooted, playing an integral part in the city’s fabric.
The most iconic religious building in Malaga is undoubtedly its cathedral: the Catedral de la Encarnación.
Construction on this Renaissance-Baroque building commenced in the 16th century, on the site of what was previously the city’s great mosque. Today, it forms an unmistakeable part of Malaga’s skyline.
Affectionately referred to by locals as “La Manquita” (or “the one-armed lady”), it gained its nickname thanks to its unfinished south tower. Some historians believe funds to finish the tower were instead donated to America in its fight for independence against Great Britain; others believe the money went towards construction of a new road to Vélez, a town in the east.
A visit to this religious building will take your breath away, thanks to its finely made stained glass windows, its intricate vaulted ceilings, and its imperious columns.
And if you choose to visit Malaga at Easter, you’ll be able to enjoy all the religious fervour of Holy Week in Spain, and Andalusia in particular, when the scent of incense wafts through the streets.
Easter Holiday Celebration
Religious brotherhoods and associations dressed in robes parade through the streets, carrying ornate religious sculptures and floats (tronas) on their shoulders. They’re usually accompanied by traditional bands that fill the streets with a cacophony of sound in this incredible religious celebration.
Try Local Cuisine
Charcoal smoked sardine espeto
When you visit Malaga, make sure you try the local food. The most famous dish in Malaga is the Sardine espeto (skewer).
You can order Malaga’s espeto speciality at any of the restaurants found along the beachfront.
The sardines are skewered with a stake and then cooked on an open fire in an old fishing boat kept on the sand beside the restaurant. The smoky aroma of these fires will tempt you inside as you walk along the beach promenade.
The Mediterranean diet is lauded worldwide, and Malaga’s location means it can offer up prime land and sea products in its dishes.
While in Malaga, you should also give the tapas culture a try. Tapas are small portions of food that are devised to be shared by diners.
So pick a restaurant or tavern, order a few different dishes, and indulge in Malaga’s wonderful cuisine.
Explore Malaga’s Old Town Like a Local
Malaga’s old town is the perfect place for a stroll at any time of day. Its narrow streets are brimming with typical cafés, bustling bars where you can have churros for breakfast, and charming independent shops among big-name brands.
Among its picturesque streets, you’ll find the city’s main market, Mercado de Atarazanas, which should be on your list of things to see and do in Malaga.
The original building sited here was an Arabian shipyard. There is one remnant of this history still standing: the market’s main entrance archway. It has since been incorporated into the rest of the market’s structure, which includes an amazing stained glass window at the rear.
Open in the mornings from Monday to Saturday, locals flock here to buy fresh bread, vegetables, meat, fish, and more at amazing prices.
In addition to shopping here for food, many locals take the time to sit in one of the market’s bars for a caña (small beer) and a bite to eat before going on their way.
Hit the Shops in Malaga
With Spain having contributed many of the world’s famous fashion houses, it’s only natural that there are many shopping options in Malaga.
In Malaga’s old town, Calle Marqués de Larios and its neighboring streets are some of the most popular places for shopping. You’ll find a varied selection of shops here to suit all budgets.
Venturing a little further outside of the old town, you’ll find El Corte Inglés. This Spanish department store is a shopping symbol in every city in the country.
Close by are the Larios and Vialia shopping centres, which also have several restaurants. The latter also has a cinema and it’s combined with Malaga’s main railway station, Malaga María Zambrano.
From here, you can hop on a suburban (cercanías) train to Plaza Mayor, a large shopping complex on the outskirts of the city. The journey won’t take longer than 15 minutes and is well worth it for shopping fans.
At this shopping complex you’ll find all kinds of brand names, especially as Plaza Mayor has recently been extended with the addition of the new McArthurGlen Designer Outlet that’s opened. Whether you shop at H&M, Zara, Adidas, or Ralph Lauren, you’ll find something to please you here.
Not only that, there are lots of restaurants to keep your taste buds happy too, and a cinema that often screens movies in the original English version.
Relax at some Arab Baths
Malaga is the perfect place for a spot of relaxation too. One way to explore its Arab heritage is with a visit to the Hammam Al Andalus in the city centre.
A visit to these Arab baths will allow you to enjoy a divine massage with oils, along with a range of herbal teas, a steam room, and various baths at different temperatures.
And that’s not to mention the stunning architecture of the place. Archways and vaulted ceilings leap over the baths and strategically placed candles throw warm, peaceful light along its corridors.
Try Something More Adventurous: El Caminito del Rey
When it comes to adding something more adventurous to your list of things to do in Malaga, you should consider checking out El Caminito del Rey – the King’s Pathway.
This is an 8 KM (5 miles), linear hiking route through mountains and gorges, and passing by reservoirs.
With its origins dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, this previously hazardous pathway has undergone several renovations to become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions today. It was initially built so workers could reach the hydroelectric power plants at each end of the route, as well as to transport materials, among other tasks involved in these plants.
The pathway itself is built into the side of the mountain, hanging vertiginously 100 metres above the ground and only a metre wide.
Along the way, you can sneak a peek at the ground or river below through glass floors if you dare, and enjoy incredible views of the surrounding landscape, before finally crossing the hanging bridge at the end.
Further inland, five kilometres north of the city, you’ll find Malaga’s green lung, Montes de Malaga Natural Park. Covering almost 5,000 hectares, it features mountains (some of whose peaks stretch up to 1,000 metres above sea level), the basin of the Guadalmedina River, and rolling valleys.
During your holiday to Malaga, you should take the time to go for a hike here as this area is rich in flora and fauna, and it offers several signposted walking routes and cycling options.
There are also places of archaeological value within the park, including a rock painting, as well as a visitor center that also acts as a museum that explains wine culture, and how bread and oil are made.
Once you’ve finished your hike, make sure you finish with the area’s traditional dish, the Plato de los Montes. This calorific bomb is a hearty dish containing pork loin in lard, a fried egg, and several other fried foods, which usually include potatoes, blood sausage, chorizo, and peppers.
Discover the Surrounding Region with a Cultural Day Trip
Lastly, if you’re visiting Malaga over the last weekend in August, make sure you head to the neighboring town of Frigiliana to enjoy its Three Cultures Festival.
Located to the east of Malaga, Frigiliana is one of Andalusia’s famous White Villages. Its Three Cultures Festival celebrates the Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations that have inhabited this village over the years and helped to build its traditions. It does so in a spectacle filled with lively music, dancing, culinary delights, art, fireworks, and more.
Over the course of four days, the streets are packed with people there to enjoy street performers, workshops, and storytellers, in addition to the official concerts arranged for the event.
One of the most popular aspects of this festival is its ‘Ruta de la Tapa’ (Tapas Route). This tour will take you on a gastronomic adventure around the town to try different tapas in several local establishments.
Malaga’s Attractions are Varied
An old bridge
Ultimately, there are so many things to see and do in Malaga that you’ll be hard-pressed to find the time to manage them all in one trip. That way, you’ll have the perfect excuse to return to this Mediterranean city in the future.
Rhian MacGillivray is a content writer, translator, and blogger (www.malagamama.com). When she’s not busy helping companies to communicate their message with content and translations, she can be found at the beach by her home in sunny southern Spain.
Are you a nature lover who wants to experience something unique and beautiful? Do you love waterfalls, long walks, or cycling in nature? If your answer is Yes, then it is time for Krka National Park in Croatia which is known for its series of 7 waterfalls.
If you are planning to visit Croatia, one of the places you must see is this national park.
One of the waterfalls
How To Get Here
Krka National Park is located in central Dalmatia. It consists of almost the entire course of the famous River Krka and the lower course of the river Cikola.
The northern part of national park Krka is near the town of Knin and the Dinara mountain, where the river springs. The southern part of the park, near the town of Sibenik, is where the river flows into the sea.
Nearby are the towns of Skradin and Lozovac. There are at-least eight entrances into the Krka National Park located around the park’s various attractions.
Bike & Hike Friendly
You can visit the park by car, hiking trails, or bicycle routes. The roads to the park are well marked and connected to the main highways. Since the tourist locations are far from each other, some of them you can only visit by excursion boats.
Things To Do In Krka National Park
With a large number of sunny hours, unusual beauty of the waterfall, plenty of green areas, Krka makes for a real natural phenomenon. The National Park includes a large number of attractions that tourists visit, such as:
Roman military camp
The first stop from Skradin is Skradinski Buk. You can get there by footpath, bicycle or excursion boat. This ride is in the ticket price and lasts about half an hour. The ship departs every 20 minutes. It is possible to take a dog with you to the National Park if it has protection. Also, you can visit Skradinski Buk on foot from Lozovac, but there is also a bus.
Skradinski Buk is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in this national park. It got the name Buk because of the big noise, created by the water that descends through the rocks. Visitors are also allowed to swim, but only in marked places.
The characteristic of this part of the National Park is a pedestrian, one-way path almost 2 km long. The trail is circular and leads through beautiful landscapes of water and greenery.
On this trail, there are plenty of places to rest. Also, there are beautiful viewpoints that are great for photography. This road leads us over many wooden bridges. There are many mills in this part. You can also visit an ethnic village that presents old crafts.
A large number of souvenir shops and there are also restaurants. The whole footpath is well marked. There are also educational boards with useful information.
From Skradinski Buk you can go further towards the Island Visovac, or a little further Roški slap. The price of these boat trips is additionally charged.
On this island, there is a monastery with the church of Our Lady of Mercyand a museum. An island rich in greenery and gardens. First of all, it is a place of prayer. You need to be decently dressed when visiting the island.
Another magnificent waterfall! You can visit it by boat from the island of Visovac and Skradinski Buk, but also by car. This part of the park is known for the rocks that line one another, which is why they were named Necklaces.
From the waterfall, the road leads to a lookout point that gives a beautiful view of the Necklaces.
A special place is known as the home of the monks. It is an Orthodox monastery. You can come here by car or boat from Roški slap. The boat ride takes about 1 hour and is extra cost (not included in your park ticket). You can visit the church and the museum.
Represents the most beautiful viewpoint of the National park. It is also the highest waterfall in the Krka National Park. You can visit this waterfall by car to the parking lot, and then on foot to the viewpoint.
A characteristic of this part of the national park is the ancient Roman amphitheatre. It can be reached by car and continue with a walking tour. You can visit alone or accompanied by a guide. This amphitheatre shows the military past of this part of
Explore Skradin Town
Skradin town, Croatia
One of the entrances to the national park, as mentioned above, is Skradin. The small Mediterranean town is a great starting to visit the national park. During the season, it is very crowded due to tourists, and out of season, you will find a quiet place and a peaceful life of the locals.
With its narrow and long streets, it conquers this place. The colored tall houses, olive trees, old bicycles in front of the door make us peek into every corner. In the main street, there are many wineries. This area is known for its excellent local wine.
Besides to wineries, there are also restaurants, souvenir shops with handmade products. The donkey is an animal that represents the symbol of this area. Old stone steps lead to the landscape with a beautiful view of the marina and the river.
After this part of the city, we come to the promenade along the river. A large number of cafes and the port of boats during the season are the reason why you should walk through this part. Luxury ships sailing through this part of Europe come to Skradin for a break. They provide an unusual sight.
If we go to the other side of the promenade, we will come to a playground for children. There is also a part of the river where many swans have found their place. During the summer there is a small market, where you can buy local products such
as honey, olive oil, figs.
Note: It takes several days to tour the entire National Park. If this is your plan, the ideal solution is to find accommodation in Skradin. We offer hotel and apartment accommodation of various categories.
Plant & Animal World
Due to its pure nature, the National Park is home to various plants and animals. During the visit, we can see animals like turtles, frogs, lizards. There are more than 30 species of fish and over 200 species of birds. When we talk about plants, the most famous is the pyramidal bell that grows in the rocks and is purple.
It takes a lot of time to visit the whole national park! And after the tour, walking, feeling the freshness of the water on your skin, you will be full of impressions and thoughts.
Everyday lifestyle leaves us little time for us. The best thing today is to know how to plan your time and not forget your needs. That is the secret of love for travel.
Krka National Park is an ideal example of this and should be on your “must-see” list!
Tickets & Prices
You can buy tickets at the entrance to the National Park, at various marked places. If you want to save time, you can also buy tickets online (on the National Park’s website).
Ticket price depends on:
the location where you buy tickets
how old are you, and
whether you visit the park individually or in a group
An important factor that affects the price of the ticket is the period during the year when you visit the park. Prices are lower in the months outside the summer tourist season. During the winter, a large part of the national park is not open for visits.
Note: Children up to the age of seven have FREE admission.
Have you already visited this National Park? If so, what are your impressions?
Dragana Šuša is an economist in tourism and a freelance writer. Currently, lives and works in London. Many years of education and work in tourism she has dedicated to works with small and medium businesses. She works on the promotion and advertising of companies in tourism and hospitality through digital marketing. Her main goal is good textual content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Social Media Optimization (SMO). You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
Japan is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit. It is a country where you can find old traditions mixed with modern technology.
And depending on which city you choose to go to, you’ll find vast differences between each one of them. For instance, Tokyo might be the city surrounded by technology, but Kyoto is the city known for its old traditions and temples all around.
Spring time in Kyoto
Which is why if you decide to visit Kyoto, you will be stunned by all the amazing traditions this city has kept. From the old shinto shrines to temples to bamboo forests to even geishas. You will feel like you traveled back into the past and get a first hand look at just what Japan was like in the older days.
There is simply so many things to see and do. And it is because of these things that many people will often think that visiting Kyoto is a very expensive thing to do.
And to be honest…Sure there are some expensive things here in this city, but it isn’t as bad when compared to some of the other countries in the world.
Kyoto On A Budget: Travel Tips
Path to Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine
There are many things you can do here in this city for either a low cost or no cost at all. It is totally possible to save money when you are visiting Kyoto. Which is why in this post I’ll be detailing all the tips and tricks for you to visit Kyoto on a budget.
So let’s get started!
Finding Cheap Accommodations
As we know, one of the most expensive parts of a travel trip is the place we stay at.
So the first thing on our list of budget tips is on how to choose your accommodations wisely.
Good thing for you is that there are a variety of cheap accommodations in the city that you can choose from.
In this list, we’ll be starting with the most basic of places to stay at and then move slowly up to the more higher end price points.
A capsule hotel is basically a hotel that rents out small cubicles. The size of the entire cubicle is not very big and can only probably fit 1 person max. Even though it is small, it is a popular choice for many people to stay in if all they really need is a bed to sleep on. So if you don’t mind small spaces, then this will be perfect for you.
Typical Price: $10 – $15 USD a night.
This is something where a lot of people might be familiar with. They are basically communal places where you stay with a lot of people. One room might have many beds for a bunch of people to sleep in or depending on which hostel you decide to use, they may offer private rooms.
Typical Price: $10 – $50 USD a night.
This is one form of accommodation where I think everybody should be familiar with by now. It is incredibly popular in Japan as there are many houses available for you to choose from at affordable prices. Although it is a bit pricier than some of the other options, it is still cheaper than a hotel.
Typical Price: $20 – $50 USD a day
Just like every other city in the world, there are many hotels for you to choose from in Kyoto. Although the price point tends to be on the higher end of things, it may be something you’ll consider.
Typical Price: $80 – $100 USD a night
Using Public Transportation
When you are going to be traveling around Kyoto, there are a few methods you can use.
Trains, Buses and Taxis are going to be your friend. Now depending on where you are going, you might not even need them.
I personally recommend that if the destination is less than 30 minutes away by foot, I would just walk to that destination instead. Or, if you don’t feel like walking, there are some bike shops around that’ll let you rent out a bike to ride.
But if the destination is a little bit far, I would try a Public Bus first as they are relatively cheap. However if the Public Bus is not able to reach your destination, then I would try a Taxi.
Do know that taxi’s are actually quite cheap here in Japan compared to some other parts of the world. They are great to use especially if you are late for something or you missed that last subway or bus home.
Furthermore, here are some tips that can help you make traveling around the city more easier for you.
Download Google Maps if you do not have it yet. This is literally a god send and can help you out if you ever get lost. Google Maps is also able to give you accurate recommendations for different modes of transportation when you are trying to figure out your journey. So overall, it is a must have app for travel.
Download CityMaps2Go app for your phone to plot your destinations. This is a great app to use especially if you don’t have wifi because it works offline and is able to help you identify where you want to go.
If you are going to be using the train system here in Japan, then I would highly suggest you download Navitime for Japan Travel as it can help you figure out where you are going.
Finding Food To Eat
Fried pork with onions
This is the part everybody is probably waiting for.
You’ll be happy to know that eating food in Kyoto is incredibly affordable and cheap. Plus, the food is at a real high quality as well so you know you are getting some good food.
However, you do have to know where to go before you go buy your food. Mainly because, not everything is cheap in Kyoto.
Tip: Try to go where the locals eat. Avoid the restaurants that are geared towards tourists and go find some hole in the wall restaurant where locals eat. This will guarantee you save some money as foods tend to be cheaper here.
Note: The only problem in this approach is that they probably won’t speak or understand English so you might need a translation software or do some hand signs. Perhaps, learn a few common Japanese words, numbers, and phrases.
Also please note that these places might be a bit hard to spot if you don’t know what you are looking for. Typically you can find these places by going to any residential neighborhood and finding a place that can only sit 5 to 8 people only.
Street food is another type of food you can buy for a very cheap price.
You can find street foods by going to any of the street markets here in the city. And once you are there, you’ll be able to enjoy an assortment of different and delicious tasting foods.
Some of the foods you can find are:
Tempura – This is basically a fried Japanese dish that can consist of mostly seafood and vegetables. The batter is light yet crispy and makes for a delicious bite. Also, it is usually less oily than the other regular fried foods you’ll find in other countries.
Takoyaki – Takoyaki is basically a fried octopus ball and can be found all throughout Japan. They basically take a piece of octopus and cover it in dough batter and cook it into a ball shape. After that they top it with a sweet sauce, bonito flakes, and also Japanese Mayonnaise.
Okonomiyaki – A common street food (as well as commonly served in many restaurants) you might run into while in Japan is one called Okonomiyaki. It is basically a savory pancake excepted it is pressed on a griddle with a very diverse amount of ingredients. You can find them topped with all kinds of toppings such as cabbage, bacon, egg, seaweed flakes, and much more.
Yakitori – Yakitori is another street food you might run into while in Japan. Basically it is a grilled chicken skewer that has been cooked over a hot charcoal fire. It is a pretty cheap dish that is highly popular in pubs where people sit down and enjoy it with a glass of beer.
Donburi – Another simple dish you can find in Japan is one called a Donburi. It is a very cheap and affordable dish that is also very filling. The name Donburi means rice bowl and it can consist of many different types things added together with the rice bowl. It is a common item that you can find almost anywhere in Japan, as there are even fast food chains that sell this delicious item.
Donburi – this one is a traditional rice bowl with eggs
The best thing about this is that most of the street foods you buy are only around $5 bucks or less. So you can eat quite a bit without having to break the bank.
Another place where you can find some cheap and affordable food is at convenience stores all over the country. These stores are on a whole different level than those you can find back in the States.
Plus, they don’t just stock food, but they have literally anything and everything you can ever want.
One of my favorite things to get at these stores are the Ramen bowls. You can get them for as little as $0.50 cents and they will fill you up just nicely. Plus you can grab a drink and a dessert and make it a full on meal. How great is that?
So if you are wanting to save some money, I highly suggest you visit the convenience stores located in the area. They are amazing!
Places To Shop At
To be honest, Kyoto isn’t really the city to be shopping in as there are not that many stores around. If you are wanting to shop, I would recommend taking the 1 hour train ride to the city of Osaka where you can find literally anything and everything you want.
However what Kyoto does have is something called “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, which is the number one place for you to go buy all your food ingredients.
That place is the famous NISHIKI MARKET.
Nishiki Market is popular with both locals and tourists as it offers you a glimpse into what a traditional Japanese shopping street looks like. This is the place to find all your traditional Japanese ingredients as well as fresh seafood. They also have takeaway food stalls and even restaurants selling all kinds of delicious and yummy foods at affordable prices.
Definitely recommend coming here if you are looking to try new foods.
Free Or Cheap Places To Go Visit
Did you know that you can visit a bunch of different attractions for either no cost or low cost price?
It’s true! There are literally a ton of things that you can do for either a low cost or no cost budget!
So lets see what you can see for FREE or very little entry fees:
Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine
This is probably the number one attraction of Kyoto. The famous gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The gates form a line and go all the way up the mountain of Southeast Kyoto. Definitely a must see attraction as it is something you’ll never find anywhere else.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the most beautiful sights here in Kyto. It is favored by many people from all around the world for its beautiful bamboo. Walking along the path of these bamboo shoots will make it feel as if you are going through a different dimension. There are also some local temples nearby which you can visit as well.
Tenryu-ji Temple is the most important temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. It is the head temple of the Tenryu sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism and is ranked first among Kyoto’s top five Zen temples. It is also here where you can find a beautiful Zen garden that dates back to the 14th century. It is one of the most beautiful Zen gardens in all of Japan.
This is a small and interesting temple that is located close to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and is known for its picturesque view of its moss garden, bamboo grove & maple trees.
Kinkakuji Temple is a unique temple because it is all Golden yellow. Heck, even the top two floors are covered in gold leaves. Although you are not able to enter this temple, it is still a beautiful sight to see.
Nanzen-ji temple is said to be one of the best temples in Northern Higashiyama district. It is one of the most important Zen temples in all of Japan as well as being the head temple of one of the schools within the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism. It is a magical place where you’ll have to really visit it to understand everything it has to offer.
Cost: Free to explore
Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi)
If you want to see something truly beautiful, then head to Philosophers Path. It is a 2km long walkway that follows a canal and is surrounded by hundreds of Cherry Blossom Trees. If you come during the right season, the trees will be in full bloom and full of color making the area extremely beautiful to walk along in.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a Buddhist temple that is unlike any you ever seen. It is one of the most celebrated temples in all of Japan. What makes this temple famous is that it has a wooden stage that juts out from its main hall.
This stage allows visitors to a nice view of the surrounding area. Not only that, but there is also a shrine here that is popular among women for it is said to be the shrine to the god of marriage. Definitely a must see temple.
Gion Street is a famous geisha district that is filled with shops, restaurants and teahouses. It is here where you’ll be able to see many geiko’s and maiko’s roaming around trying to entertain people.
Cost: Free to roam
As you can see, there are quite a bit of things for you to see and do for either a low cost or for no cost at all. Hopefully this post was able to show you that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in Kyoto just to have fun.
So next time you plan a trip, you might want to consider traveling to Kyoto and enjoy all it has to offer.
Let me know how your trip goes!
Wayne is a part-time traveler and a firm believer that anybody is able to travel no matter how busy they are in work or life. He wants to show you how you can travel better and smarter like never before. So, if you want to check out his travel blog, you can do so by visiting Daily Tourist.
Note: At this time we strongly recommend against traveling anywhere in the world due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. To fight this pandemic it is important that all of us do our best, so the world can go back to normal with the least amount of human suffering.
That said, and assuming we are over Covid-19 by the end of the summer and your feet are itchy to travel. What should you do? Where should you travel to? What are some of the great deals?
If you are thinking of visiting the USA, how do to apply for a US travel visa or an ESTA? What travel documents would you need The steps and documents required will be determined by your country of citizenship.
Let us explain what is ESTA and how can you apply one.
How to Apply For A USA ESTA VISA
What is ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (also known as ESTA) is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It mainly applies to visitors who are coming to the US either by air or sea.
Is ESTA a Guaranteed Entry?
Travel authorization via ESTA does not mean that you are guaranteed entry to the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival.
The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions.
When Should I Apply for ESTA?
It is strongly encouraged that ESTA applications be submitted at least 72 hours prior to your travel. But you can apply as soon as you begin preparing your travel plans. The US CBP’s website says that “In most cases, a response is received within seconds of submitting an application.”
Note: Passengers (including babies) without an ESTA will be denied entry into the US at the port of entry. There is a small fee for applying for ESTA application.
Do I need ESTA to visit US Territories?
Yes, ESTA is also needed for visits to territories such as Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Do I need ESTA if I am traveling from Canada or Mexico by car (land)?
No. ESTA is not needed when arriving by land from Canada or Mexico.
Note: The United States is very strict with its immigration policies and if you are caught entering the country illegally, you will be deported and jailed depending on your crime.
Is My Country Eligible?
As of November 2019, there are 39 countries in the US Visa Waiver Program. Visitors may stay for 90 days in the United States which also includes the time spent in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Islands in the Caribbean if the arrival was through the United States.
The ESTA is only required if arriving by air or cruise ship. It is not required if arriving overland or on local ferries such as between British Columbia (Vancouver and Victoria) and Washington State.
ESTA Eligible Countries
How to Check Your ESTA Status?
You must know your ESTA status before you travel to the US by visiting the ESTA website. First, to know if your country is among the Visa waiver program countries (listed above), and second, to check the status of your application.
In case your country is not on the list of VWP countries, then you must apply for a US Travel visa through a US embassy in your country of residence. Please note applying for a US travel visa is a substantially lengthier process that may require an interview with a U.S. Consular Officer.
ESTA vs. US Travel Visa
At times, some people combine the two documents such as ESTA and US Travel Visa as one; forgetting that they are two different documents. If you are eligible for ESTA, then you must check your ESTA status online.
How Long Is ESTA Valid?
Each travel authorization under ESTA can be valid for up to 2 years. However, a Visa Waiver Program traveler must obtain a new ESTA authorization if they are issued a new passport, or change their name, gender or country of citizenship.
Entry under the Visa Waiver Program is only valid for a combined maximum stay in the US and its surrounding countries of 90 days. The admission period cannot be extended under the ESTA program. If a longer stay is intended, a proper US travel visa is required.
Third-Party ESTA Websites
Some websites offer to complete ESTA applications for a fee, often many times more than the required $14 USD fee charged by the US Government. Access and application through the official U.S. Government website are available to any visitors to the U.S. who qualify under the ESTA program.
Even if one of the third-party websites is used, passengers themselves still have to complete the same form.
Exercise caution though (if using a third party website) as concerns have been raised that third-party sites could be used for identity theft, credit card fraud, or the distribution of malware.
Note: Since this is an ongoing situation, we’ll be updating this article every day! Last updated: March 16, 2020.
If you are like me, you must be anxious about when this Coronavirus mess will end and when your life would get back to normal! Well, worry not because like everything in nature, nothing goes on forever and this too shall pass away!
Microscopic photo of Coronavirus. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus resemble a crown thus giving it that name.
At the time of this writing, the virus has spread to over 160 countries and territories. Therefore, for now, we strongly recommend that you maintain social distancing, stay put in your home, save some money, catch up on great books, finish those binge-worthy TV shows, and start that passion project of yours that you always wanted to do!
Note:Do Not Travel Right Now(even if you can, because you may not show any symptoms and therefore can carry the virus with you and infect the otherwise isolated population and other people at higher risk. Please use common sense and exercise patience.)
Let’s say, coronavirus gets under control (maybe even completely gone) and we are all in the clear. Also, let’s say if you have been itching to get out of your town and you are ready to travel, the first thing to check would be any still-remaining effective travel restrictions.
Assuming most of the travel restrictions have now been lifted (let’s say by May 2020), below are our top 10 recommended destinations which are either Covid19 free or with only foreign cases (i.e. no community transmission reported).
We have traveled to 6 continents so far and Antarctica has been on our list for a long time now. Well, keep in mind though if you live in the northern hemisphere (US, Canada, Europe, etc.), your winter month is summer-time in Antarctica.
So, why not visit a place which has no permanent human settlement and no cases of Coronavirus!
Big Island, Hawaii
Although Hawaii (Oahu) has cases of Coronavirus, all of them except one were imported. There are no reported cases of Coronavirus cases in the islands of Kuai, Maui, and Big Island.
The isolated environment, which Madagascar hosts, makes for exotic flora and fauna. The biodiversity that is present here is unique, in comparison to anywhere else in the world.
If you ever visit Madagascar, you will fall in love with the island’s plants and animals, which exist nowhere else in the world.
So far there has been no positive cases of Coronavirus here and therefore makes it a safe destination to visit.
You may have heard of the Galapagos Islands from Charles Darwin’s voyage. It is a remote volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. It’s considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife viewing.
The isolated terrain of Galapagos makes this island a heavenly shelter for a diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
Just at 134 kilometers, southwest of Mauritius lies the magical destination, Reunion Islands. It abounds in volcanic scenery and the tropical climate makes it a beautiful getaway for travelers.
Furthermore, Reunion’s magnificent volcanic landscape makes it a paradise for hikers. With little to no crowd and the remoteness of this destination, nothing gets safer than this island in the Indian Ocean.
Well, if North Korea has open borders then they would have been severely impacted just like South Korea and since they are a closed border country, they seem to be doing fine at this time of the global pandemic.
But Why am I talking about North Korea! Because it’s not easy to go there and it may not be on your travel bucket list. But, Mongolia might be.
And if it gives you any reassurance then know that just a few weeks after the first coronavirus case was announced in China on December 31, 2019, Mongolia announced they would be closing the borders with China. They were the second country to do so, after North Korea.
They have had Covid19 cases but if it’s among the isolated, less crowded countries in Central Asia and therefore a safer place to visit compared to any other country in that region.
Alaska announced its first case of Coronavirus on March 12 (much after the rest of the US). Furthermore, the case happened to a foreign tourist. So far, Alaska due to its remoteness and harsh winter condition has been safe from Covid19.
Like Alaska, Greenland reported its first case of coronavirus on March 16 with a person with travel history. That said, in the western hemisphere, remote places like Alaska and Greenland are safer destinations as compared to densely populated cities of Europe and North America.
I wish we could say the same about Iceland. We’ll continue to monitor the situation in Iceland and update this blog if it seems to be a safer place to visit in 2020.
Nepal has only reported one case of coronavirus (a student who traveled from Wuhan, China). Since then the student has recovered and there has been no additional cases of coronavirus reported in Nepal.
Given that there are active Covid19 cases in both neighboring India and Pakistan, I would wait a few more weeks to see how the situation progresses in South Asia. Also, note, like Nepal, Bhutan has only reported 1 case and there have been no cases reported from Bangladesh.
Islands of the Caribbean
Most of the tiny island countries in the Caribbean have been either coronavirus-free or with less than 5 cases at maximum. The hot and humid climate definitely helps this region.
However, we recommend flying instead of taking a cruise for now until everything settles down. The point is to minimize human contact. Both flights and cruise have their how risks but flights are shorter. Also, pick one destination instead of a multi-day cruise that visits several islands.
Sydney is one of the top destinations for world wanderers. What makes it so incredible is that there are hundreds of places to see and things to do. While the fun is guaranteed, you need to ensure you don’t waste your time in vain. That’s why you need to plan your stay thoroughly.
Note: If you are planning to visit Melbourne, know that Sydney is pretty close to Melbourne and if you have a few extra days, you can also check out Sydney. It’s especially worth your time and money if you are already planning a trip for some great events and the numerous festivals that Melbourne is famous for.
Plan Your Trip in Advance
In order to help you out, here are 3 tips for making the most of your stay in this marvelous city.
Sydney Opera House
Planning is the mother of both successful time-management and stress-management. Once, you book your airline tickets and set on your travel dates, next you must find a price-worthy hotel at a great location which gives you the most value for your money. We recommend Hotel in the Rocks as one such place with great views and great location.
Next, you should write down the top places you would like to visit and the things you would like to do. Since that also depends on your budget, you should take it into consideration your budget and how much time you have.
If you have no idea how to do this, you can simply google the top tourist attractions in Sydney. When the results pop up, you will find information on the price per each site or activity.
For example, if you want to take a guided tour inside the Sydney Opera house, you can search for “Sydney Opera House tour price” and you will easily find it. It’s the era of the internet and technology, so make the most of it.
Below is our suggestion of the top 7 attractions in Sydney.
Top 7 Must Visit Places in Sydney
To help you out with this, we have compiled a list of the top places every person should visit in Sydney. Let’s check it out.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge – You not only can visit it by standing next to it but you can also climb it. It’s a little pricey but the experience is enthralling. There are great guided tours that allow you to experience the enchanting view over the Sydney Harbour and Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Opera House – The best way to visit the Opera House is by taking a tour inside of it. But, you can also watch a show. You can choose which one you like more.
Bondi Beach, Sydney
Bondi Beach – If you are going on a summer holiday, you have to spend part of it on the beach. Although there are hundreds of beautiful beaches within the city boundaries, Bondi Beach is the most popular of all, so you mustn’t miss it.
Darling Harbour, Sydney
Darling Harbour – Being made of large pedestrian and recreational areas, Sydney Harbour is a great place to spend some quality time. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can find great food and drinks and enjoy the view.
A Koala at the Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo – If you want to see some local and exotic animals, you have to visit the famous Taronga Zoo. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, especially if you are traveling with kids since there are a cafe and a food market.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
The Royal Botanic Gardens – When looking for a peaceful place within the city, you should look no further because the Royal Botanic Gardens offer exactly that. Located near the Sydney CBD, this place offers a wonderful nature with incredible flora and the peacefulness you are looking for.
The Rocks – Being one of the oldest neighborhoods in Sydney, the Rocks are an inevitable tourist spot. There are plenty of hotels, historic pubs, and cafes where you can experience part of the history of Australia.
Explore the City
Panoramic view of Sydney at night
While visiting the top tourist attractions and places in Sydney is a great way to explore the city, it’s actually just one part of the whole experience. In order to make the most of your stay in the city, you should explore it from end to end. You can do that in two ways.
Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour – Bus tours are a great way to see the city, its buildings, streets, public areas, parks, and sites without spending much of your time. Taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour saves you from the trouble to look for public transport lines and tickets.
Take a cruise – Apart from exploring the city from the ground, you can also explore it from the water. There are plenty of cruises including, dinner, lunch, and wine tasting cruises, you can take in order to enjoy your time while exploring.
You can also ride on a ferry to Manly Beach. This ride is affordable, yet will offer you the chance to see the harbor, the Harbour Bridge, and the Opera House.
Hostel traveling is one of the best ways to explore the world as a young person. These communities that dot every major city on the globe are hot spots for like-minded voyagers looking to visit faraway cultures and people.
However, life on the road doesn’t come without dangers to personal safety. In this article, we’ll highlight a few simple steps to ensure a fun and secure stay at a hostel, particularly if you are a teen traveler.
Find the Right Location
Finding the right location is one of the greatest ways to ensure safety while visiting a new city. Visiting a new destination (often abroad) is fun, but the cost of travel gets substantially high the further away you travel from your home.
Staying in Hostels is one effective way to budget your expenses but hostels are all about who will share the place with you, how far it is from the city center, public transportation, and what’s the cost when compared against Airbnb or Hotels.
Therefore, booking a hostel should be done carefully so that one doesn’t end up staying far from the places they want to explore. If you plan to drink, look for locations close to the nightlife of your city. It’s better to have a short journey back to bed in the nighttime.
Do Advance Research
There are several websites specifically dedicated to this form of travel, and each site posts helpful information such as they type of hostel, the type of community found there, and what to expect from a stay.
Make sure to find one that fits your personality, as this will mitigate culture shock and oftentimes depression.
Also, do some research about:
common travel scams in particular destinations you are planning to visit
the nearest embassy of your country
note down phone numbers for hospitals, ambulance, and police
shady neighborhoods to skip
First thing first, find out the legal drinking age in the country you are visiting. And, do not drink in if you are not of age. Drinking is just one tiny way to have good times but traveling offers so much more. Be mindful, present and curious. Let your senses be overwhelmed by the new experiences (so you don’t feel like you are missing on anything).
Another tip is to drink responsibly (if you must) and if you are traveling in a group, then go to a bar with your group. Do not accept drinks from strangers no matter how friendly they appear.
Pack Light & Carefully
Take care when packing for your trip. Remember that most hostels sleep six to ten people in a single room, so the space you live in will be shared with strangers.
Therefore, all your personal items will be in a common space that is potentially open to thievery. Remember, the quickest way for a trip to be ruined is to lose something important.
One great strategy to minimize the threat of robbery is to be a packing minimalist. When gathering the items, carefully revise and prune the list of items that you will bring.
Expensive clothing shouldn’t be brought if it isn’t necessary, along with high-priced electronics that won’t be of use on the trip. Bringing fewer items will decrease your chances of getting something stolen abroad.
Bring a Lock
Inevitably, some valuables will have to be brought on your trip. Passports, money, and cell phones are part of every travelers’ arsenal when living in hostels. In order to keep these items protected, it is imperative that a lock and key is brought on your journey.
Almost every location will offer lockers to store your gear either for free or for a small fee. Using a locker will allow for important documents and information to be kept in a safe place while exploring the city’s sights or bars. Don’t hesitate to bring one!
In addition to standard mixed-gender dorms, some locations will offer private rooms for booking. Private rooms are great options for additional privacy if you do not want to share living space with strangers.
Additionally, they can add another level of protection to personal items while visiting cities across the globe.
Another option for female globetrotters is all-female dorms and hostels. While these hostels and rooms come fewer and further between, they can provide additional safety and security for women traveling abroad.
Be sure to look for these options if one has concerns about privacy or living with men.
Some additional precautionary tips to keep in mind are:
Ask the hostel staff for security advice or anything you should know about
Don’t open the hostel doorfor strangers
Make a copy of your Passport and email it to yourself
Hide some backup money somewhere safe. This is just in case you lose your wallet/purse
Plan to check-in at your hostel before dark for the first time
Don’t leave your hostel alone late at night (no matter how safe you feel)
Trust your gut “feeling” but also use your brain (it is better to be safe than sorry)
I hope these easy to follow steps help when planning your next trip! The world is a gift, and everyone should have the opportunity to see every part fearlessly.
Africa marks our 6th continent. Since Kenya is one of the best destinations to go for a Safari, we picked it as our first country to explore in Africa. It has been on our bucket list for so long and at last, we were about to experience a new continent!
We were excited! Moreover, we were going to see the “Big Five” in the wild! We picked Australken Tours and Travel as our safari company and they thoroughly impressed us! In short, we highly recommend them! They are mid-budget-range, locally owned and operated, flexible, and very, very professional!
In Africa, the Big Five game animals are the Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant, and African Buffalo. The term “big five” was coined by big-game hunters in the colonial past, and it refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on “foot” but is now also widely used by safari tour operators.
That said, we were in for a surprise because on our 7 days safari we saw animals which we did not even know exists (such as the ones pictured below)!
Our 7 Days Kenya Safari
We’ll first share what was on our safari itinerary plan which then follows our experiences!
Day 0: Get to Nairobi
We arrived in Kenya late evening. This is the day where you will mostly rest and meet your tour operators and discuss your final safari logistics and trip plan!
Day 1: Nairobi to Amboseli
Trip plan: Depart from Nairobi for Amboseli National Park. Check-in and have lunch at AA Amboseli Lodge. Later proceed for the evening game drive in search of gigantic elephants the park is famous for, with chances of seeing lions, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hippos, and different species of birds not forgetting the views of Mt. Kilimanjaro on a clear day. Meal plan (Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Jambo, Kenya!
Giraffe and Zebras are everywhere in Kenya! You don’t even have to go to a park!
We woke up early morning (partially because we were jet-lagged and also because we were super excited to begin our safari!) We ate breakfast at our hotel and met Zippy our tour operator. She introduced us to our safari guide/driver, Albanus who has been doing safari tours for the past 29 years!
Since we chose a private safari tour, it was just two of us and our safari driver/guide. After a warm introduction, we were picked from our Nairobi hotel and started our first day of Safari towards the Amboseli National Park.
It was a lovely, sunny day. The warmth of the sun was so energizing. As we started our drive south towards Amboseli, to add to our adventure, our vehicle broke down midway. While we waited for it to be fixed, we saw Giraffe, Zebras, Donkeys, and pretty wildflowers by the roadsides.
Our safari van was fixed in 2 hours and we took some cool photos and stretched a bit and talked about the culture, tribes, and wildlife in Kenya!
Highway to Mombasa
The drive to Amboseli along the Mombasa highway was spectacular. One thing that really stood out at first was the magnificent landscape of Kenya. Red soil, beautiful landscape, cattle grazing, almost everything along the road was something new and different for our eyes!
During our drive, we crossed multiple small towns. It was very interesting to see life in rural Kenya as we drove through these small towns. Many people waved and smiled as we passed through; such a great welcome.
Not to forget the Acacia tree with birds nest and butterflies humming around, it was truly a moment of bliss. Mid-January is the season for mangoes in Kenya, so we also grabbed a bag of mangoes from the street vendors.
Morning view from our AA Amboseli lodge
Finally, we reached our lodge, quickly grabbed lunch, checked into our super cute tent and in the evening we headed out for our first game drive. We saw tons of Zebra very close to the park.
Next, we entered the park and caught a family of elephants grazing. We were surrounded by elephants and it was just so spectacular.
Amboseli is known for its huge Elephant population
Oh, another fun story, while we were entering Amboseli National Park, a Maasai man came to sell us handicraft. We did not want to buy a souvenir on our first day so he proposed bartering since he loved our The Art of Travel wooden watch. We exchanged our wood watch for a Maasai women wood sculpture.
It was the first time in our travels that we have bartered. This was an amazing experience! He was happy and we were happy! What a day! With all these fond memories our Day one of African safari came to an end. What an adventure!
Day 2: Amboseli National Park
Trip plan: After breakfast, we spend the day exploring the park. We also walked to the observation hill for the scenic view of the park and picnic lunch. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: A spectacular view of Kilimanjaro
Glorious view of Mt. Kilimanjaro
With sounds of rain and thunder, we woke up early morning. The rain had stopped during sunrise and we caught glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro standing tall in all glory. We were very lucky.
After a quick breakfast at the camp, we started our day at the park. During our drive, we saw many new animals.
A Cheetah family
Playful yellow baboon monkeys, a lonely wildebeest, happy family of hippos, family of 3 cheetah all out for their fresh meal hunt, happy flamingo and Pelicans in the swamp, sneaky fox, busy Pumba, cunning hyena, skeptical ostrich, sassy giraffe, curious buffalo, herds of elephants, impala, and gazelle all around the park. Not to forget hundreds of species of birds on the ground as well as flying.
We went to the observation point for lunch where we had 360-view of the park. We ended the day at Masai Mara village where we saw cultural welcome dance and learned how the community functions in the tour through the tiny village.
Maasai tribe of Amboseli
Day 3: Drive to Lake Naivasha
Trip plan: After an early breakfast departs from Amboseli passing via the outskirts of Nairobi en route to the Great Rift Valley where we will have a stopover to admire the escarpment before we proceed Lake Naivasha where we will arrive in time for lunch at West beach camp. Later we will proceed for an hour’s boat ride with chances of seeing hippo and different species of birds. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Everything happens for a reason
Early morning we started towards Lake Naivasha from Amboseli. Our van broke down again (Ugh!). So while our van was getting fixed we had some unforgettable moments interacting with the locals.
Our van broke it in front of a local handicraft store which was perfect for us to buy some souvenirs and check out local handicrafts. The lady at the shop was really sweet and she had some really cute collection. We bought a few souvenirs here (pictured below).
We moved along but the car needed more maintenance. We had to stop by a small town. While we were thinking about how unfortunate it is to have our car broken and possibly miss the activity planned for the day we spotted a beautiful Masai mother feeding her little baby girl.
A Maasai with her baby
I was watching her and the baby who was very friendly. The Maasai woman could not speak much English but she looked at us and smiled. I asked if I could take a picture with her and she was absolutely okay. After the photo and some interactions, she said “little money” and I was happy to give some money to the mother.
Next, we realized that there is a street market across the road selling shoes and all kinds of stuff. I was in much need of shoes since my only shoes broke on day 1 of safari (what a stroke of luck, right) so I bought a pair of safari type boots for 400 Kenyan shillings (i.e. $4 USD). It kind of looked somewhat tarnished but it did serve my desperate need since I was in my flip flops.
Shopping for shoes
It also made me appreciate simple things in life and to be humble. I have nearly 50 pairs of shoes back home but all I needed was one.
Moving on to another mishap we were out of our camera’s SD card capacity in just 2 days. We underestimated how many pictures we would take and we needed an SD card which is really hard to find in small towns. Still, we inquired the guy who sold shoes if we can find an SD card anywhere. He directed us to the cyber cafe nearby.
We went to the cyber cafe but they did not have an SD card for sale. Turns out that the guy working there is a photographer himself. He offered us to loan his SD card but we were not coming back there. We asked if he could sell to us and buy a new one for himself.
He was really sweet (and helpful and honest). He agreed to sell his memory card for the price that is sold in the market rather than asking us for an insane amount since we were in high need of that. (Needless to say, we are friends now! When you travel with an open mind you make friends from all walks of life.)
By the time we did all our necessary shopping our van was ready. We were really happy that we used the time and found what we needed. Just when we hit the highway the van started acting up again. The radiator got so heated that smoke and water was coming out, the car stopped again for the third time absolutely In the middle of nowhere.
We had a deep sigh this time because now we are not only missing the boat ride at Lake Nakuru which was planned for the day but we are stuck absolutely out of nowhere. Our driver was thinking and figuring out what to do, what is the nearest town, etc.
Suddenly an old Maasai man who lived nearby came for help, then another young Maasai shepherd came to help. They all greeted us with a handshake and smile. The old man’s wife also came by and got some clean water for the car. They were curious.
The old man asked Salil to let him see things through the camera lens. He was so happy when he could see things far away up close through the zoom lens. It was a moment of joy.
Then all the men pushed the van if it could work after we put the clean water but it didn’t. Luckily since our van was not functioning as well from day 1 another van was on its way from Nairobi. We waited a while and it finally came to our rescue.
We got on the new van and started to contemplate that if our van did not break maybe we would not have such an authentic local experience and get to know how warm, nice, and helpful Kenyan people really are.
We stared towards Lake Naivasha and stopped by Great Rift Valley which was spectacular. Finally, late in the evening we reached our accommodation near Lake Lake Naivasha and ended the day with some really memorable experience and a delicious dinner.
At this time we were thinking that we have made the best of every situation thrown at us. We made lemonade when life gave us lemons for real.
We ended the day at West Beach Camp by the shores of Lake Naivasha! It was a gorgeous lodge and we were the only guests besides one another couple! Both the sunsets and sunrise in Kenya are spectacular.
Sunrise from West beach camp
Day 4: Lake Nakuru
Trip plan: After breakfast, we will depart from Lake Naivasha for Lake Nakuru National park where we will explore the park with a chance of seeing rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, baboon, monkey, leopard among other wild not forgetting a visit to the baboon cliff for the scenic view of the park. We will also explore the shores of Lake Nakuru with the chances of seeing flamingos. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Something unexpected
Morning view at West Beach Camp, Lake Naivasha
We woke up, ate breakfast and as planned we headed to Lake Nakuru national park which has the salty lake Called Nakuru. On the way there we saw a lot of wildlife!
As we were exploring Nakuru, out of nowhere, we saw a lone male lion. This was the first time we saw a lion. He was a big male taking a nap under a bush. After about 30 minutes of waiting, he did stand up to watch us. He did not seem bothered at all and we felt the thrill of seeing a huge lion so close.
Next, we saw a huge troop of olive baboon monkeys, the zeal of zebras, heads of buffalo running, mommy and baby white rhino chilling, Waterbuck, gazelle, pumbas playing, and dozens of birds.
It was unreal for us to see a lion, we were not even expecting. We had picnic lunch at baboon cliff where we got a good view of the park and salty lake. It was really peaceful up the hill.
The water level is rising at the park and it’s flooding a lot of sections in the park. The view at Lake Nakuru was unreal; the trees were half under the water and dead, making them home for birds to stop by.
It was a lovely day at Nauru. The camp where we stayed had such amazing food we were relaxed and excited for Masai Mara.
A mother and baby Rhino at Nakuru
Day 5: Lake Naivasha and Maasai Mara
Trip plan: After breakfast, we will continue with our safari to the renowned Maasai Mara game reserve which is Kenya’s premier game reserve. It is the home of the “big five” – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant, as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe and vast herds of plains antelope and numerous other wildlife. We will arrive in time for lunch at Osero luxury Camp followed by afternoon game drive before you return to Osero luxury camp to wait for dinner followed by overnight. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Hakuna Matata
We woke up early morning and headed to Lake Naivasha for a boat ride. We were supposed to do the boat ride on day 3 but we did manage to squeeze this on day 5.
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, unlike Lake Nakuru which is a saltwater lake. We had a memorable boat ride where we spotted numerous birds singing, cruising, and sunbathing on the trees.
We also saw a lot of hippos here! They are mighty creatures and the babies look so cute!
The highlights of lake Naivasha were seeing green plants grow on the lake, the fishermen catching fish, hippos with their family and an eagle hunting fish from the water. These are some moments we will always remember.
After Lake Naivasha, we headed towards Masai Mara straight. It was a long drive but we could see so much of the country by land. Finally, after a long drive, we reached Masai Mara.
The moment we reached Masai Mara we could instantly feel how different it is from other parks we have been. Not just the size but the landscape. It was interesting and unique. Vast grassland, meadows, small hills around, different kinds of trees (like the sausage tree and fig trees) and scattered acacia trees it was all adding to its beauty.
It was late afternoon game drive we were spotting new animals we have never seen like Topi, Dik-Dik, and Steenbok.
We were driving and suddenly we spotted three young male lions sleeping and fooling around. They were muscular, strong, and powerful. We watched them take a nap and change bushes. It’s rare to see three male lions all together but we were lucky.
Two teenage lions
As it was about time to exit the park we spotted a family of Cheetah. A mother and 3 cubs chilling. This was the first time we saw cheetah so close. They are so lean and curious. They look adorable too.
With an amazing first game drive at Masai Mara, we headed to our lodge. On our way back just outside the park, we saw so many Pumba running around with their tail up. They are so cute to watch.
There was also a Jackal running across the road. We followed him for a while and it ran away.
Our lodge was deep inside the park in the wooded area. We had dinner at the lodge where Maasai people danced for us. They asked Salil to join and so Salil did participate. We’ll share the Maasai dance video on YouTube.
Maasai welcome dance
At night we could hear Hyena howling. We also heard elephants and we woke up to birds chirping. What an experience!
Day 6: Maasai Mara
Trip plan: We will spend the whole day exploring the expansive Maasai Mara game reserve in search of Elephant, Zebra, Wildebeest, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and other plains game with a visit to the Mara river where we might have a chance to see hippo and crocodile. We will return to Osero luxury camp to wait for dinner followed by overnight. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: A very special moment
It started with pretty heavy rain early morning in Masai Mara but our guide assured us that it will still be a great game drive because animals, unlike humans, are not bothered by the rain.
We were driving towards the park early morning and the rain started to slow down a bit. On our way, we spotted two Masai kids in school uniform trying to cross a stream and go school.
They were small and after the rain, the stream had got to the road. We asked our guide to stop and offer them a ride to school. They were very happy. We dropped them at their school and they smiled and said ‘Asante’ which means ‘Thank you’ in Swahili.
We had just started our game drive in Masai Mara and thankfully the rain had also stopped. As we were watching some game around the park our guide got a call from his friend. After the call, he said, “guys, sit down. I think we’ve got something.”
Usually, the guides have a radio where they share what animals are spotted or they call and let other guides know about any major game around.
Also until the very end of our safari, we realized that guides usually don’t tell you what you’re going to see next or what can be seen. It totally makes sense because until today we were never told what exactly we are seeing, so every time we saw something we were always pleasantly surprised.
We knew there is something coming up but honestly, we did not pay much attention to what it would be. During that drive, we were just admiring the beauty of the park and landscape.
Suddenly we were on a road where few vehicles were stopped. We then knew there’s got to be something here hence so many vehicles. Our guide said “here is a pride of lion sleeping on the road”.
Our jaws opened wide as we saw 13 lions 8 females and 5 cubs having their siesta time. It was such a wonderful surprise. We luckily got a good spot to admire these sleeping lions on the road. Some cubs were curious and looking at us. Some were going back and forth around the female lioness for milk.
We saw them pet each other, cuddle, nap, stretch, stand, and sleep again. It was just magical. Hard to comprehend in words.
An hour felt like a minute. That mother-child bond and love we encountered was one of the most special moments at Maasai Mara. Our heart was filled with joy.
As of the 6th day of our Safari, we have seen 4 of the big 5 and many other interesting and important members of Africa’s beautiful savannas. Now we were on a hunt for the big cat aka Leopard.
Leopards are very shy animals unlike cheetah and the hardest to spot among the big five. Since it rained all night the road was very muddy. We went on a hunt around a lot of places where we could spot leopards like the fig tree, sausage tree, and the famous acacia tree.
We saw a wildebeest leg handing on a tree. Most likely a leopard must have had its meal there. There were no signs of leopard around and in all honesty, we did not feel sad about that. Nature and animals have their own rule and we cannot challenge that.
This was not a zoo where one can always trace an animal. The wildlife here is part of the vast African Savanna where we humans are no one but visitors in their homeland. With that registered in our brain and with much respect for the wildlife we drove towards the Mara River where the great migration from Serengeti of Tanzania to Masai Mara of Kenya happens.
On the border of Tanzania (behind us) and Kenya (in front)
On the way, we stopped at the border of Kenya/Tanzania. Such an interesting place. We were also thinking about how all these animals cross borders and that nature is not bound by any county or borders.
We reached the Mara river and took a short hike around the river with a ranger. This was our first hike experience at the park. It was beautiful and remarkable to set our foot and walk through the land of some deadly predators.
The famous Mara river full of hippos and crocodiles
We spotted some hippos in the river and the guide gave us a lot of information about the wildlife there. After that, we started our way back to our camp. On the way back we spotted two Waterbucks mating putting in a show for everyone. We also saw a lot of African Ostriches.
By sunset, we made it back to our camp to enjoy the evening. We enjoyed our gorgeous tent, had a wonderful conversation with the Masai guard, and a very scrumptious dinner with our guide. It was a day filled with the most pleasant surprise of all.
Day 7: Maasai Mara to Nairobi
Trip plan: Early morning game drive followed by breakfast then we will depart from Maasai Mara as we continue with your journey passing via Narok town then proceed to Nairobi where we will be dropped to catch our homebound flight. Meal plan (Breakfast provided)
Our Experience: Farewell until we meet again
The last day of our Safari. Just the thought of this made me teary and sad. As I was contemplating over my cup of Kenyan tea about this entire Safari trip and all the beautiful encounters with all different species of wildlife.
With Maasai people
The breathtaking views of the African savannah, the gorgeous Acacia trees, the bushes, the insects, the birds, the view of Masai cattle grazing, the smiles of kids waving, the people, the food, the smell of the air, the red land, everything almost everything that we had experienced in these 6 days will be safely treasured as beautiful moments in Africa.
Our Osero luxury camp in Maasai Mara
We checked out from our camp and went for one last quick drive around the park to bid farewell to the beautiful land and then headed towards Nairobi. We reached Nairobi and wanted to meet our Facebook friend from Kenya at the local mall (we
have never met her in person) we were excited.
Our tour operator also came to say goodbye. She got us a beautiful souvenir. She was very apologetic about the vehicle incident but it was all unexpected and we had nothing but good memories out of the trip. We told her that we’ll be back for more!
The terrain inside the park is pretty rough and with rain gets very muddy. We have seen a lot of vehicles break down as well so it comes with the experience. Overall we had an amazing time and actually we did not miss any activities as planned so we were very happy with our overall adventure in Kenya!
With our friend Anita at Nairobi airport
We finally met our friend and ate our last meal in Kenya together. We shared hugs, laugh, and wonderful conversations. Our friend offered to drop us to the airport, and we had more conversations in the car and such an amazing time overall in Kenya.
With all of this in our hearts, it was time to bid farewell to beautiful Kenya. The memories made in the continent of Africa will always be very dear to us. Back from the trip, we feel extremely rejuvenated, fulfilled, and grateful for all the experiences we had along the way.
The Middle East abounds with stunning scenery and glorious history. Plus, the architectural wonders and the vibrant culture, make the Middle East an exotic part of the world.
The rare beauty of the region will likely overwhelm you at first. Since there is an immeasurable amount of destinations that will captivate you, we list just a few places that characterize the Middle East.
You must start somewhere, so why not start with these 5 wonders of the Middle East!
The Dome of Rock, Israel
From amongst the quaint buildings of Jerusalem, the Golden Dome shines. The magnanimous dome radiates from the center of the holy city. Plus, the Golden Dome lies within the larger sacred site, Haram Al-Sharif.
Furthermore, the foundation stone, a highly revered artifact, is kept inside the dome.
This octagonal enigma is built in a splendid Byzantine style. It is befitting that a building with such religious important glows splendidly, truly demonstrating the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East.
Musandam Fjords, Oman
The Norwegian Fjords are acclaimed throughout the world for their unique charm. However, the Middle East has its own share of Fjord glory. In the Strait of Hormuz (Musandam, Oman), the rocky cliffs give way to the bright turquoise blue water.
There are numerous quaint villages perched on the rocky terrain of the Musandam Fjords. You can visit the nearby coastal towns; you can even go scuba diving and experience the diverse underwater wildlife.
Mysterious wonders in Egypt beckon us to visit. When we travel to hot deserts with impressive ruins, we are awed by the history and energized by the sun.
Painted with ancient images, Luxor is a canvas. The ruins of buildings, stunning mosques, and holy temples are just some of the ancient portraits depicted here.
The landscape is an open-air museum that displays the rich past of the country. One of the ancient displays is the Karnak Temple, an intricately carved monument made from sandstone.
You can also visit the tombs of famous kings and queens in the valley. For example, the sheer magnificence of Tutankhamen’s tomb alone creates an unforgettable experience.
Sheik Zayed Mosque, UAE
When we talk about the Middle East we speak of wealth, culture, and religion. Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) ticks all three boxes.
Recently constructed, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. It oozes with the opulence of enormous effort and care.
The gorgeous Persian design, integrated with a modern touch, makes for the incredibly rare beauty. Spectacular pools of water reflect the pearly interiors and glittering chandeliers.
Step into the heart of Islamic culture by visiting the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
The dry winds whisper into your ears the story of the long-gone city. Maybe we are getting too melodramatic, but Petra will do that to you. Golden pools of sands and a dangerous canyon define the ancient town of Petra.
Tombs and buildings carved into the sandstone predominate the landscape. Ages ago the Nabatean Kingdom inhabited Petra. Now only the “Pink” sandstone cliffs remain.
The rose-colored city overflows with stunning temples, such as Al Khazneh, as well as tombs and buildings. A visit to Petra will turn the pages of time and transport you to an older age in the exotic Middle East.
France is a country that grows on you. Once you set your foot here, you will be sorry for anyone who is not in France and is not in love. Your dreams come alive when you see some of these dreamy places.
Even the quaint olive branches in the window front of a house, add to the exquisite beauty of France. The science nerd can fall for the old school romantic. That is how irresistible the charm of France is.
There are a few places which define the tourism of France. Your trip would be incomplete without visiting them.
“I ought to be jealous of the tower; she is more famous than I am.” ~ Gustave Eiffel
Proudly jutting out from the 7th arrondissement this monument is the most visited monument in the world. It was built in 1889 for being the entrance gate in World Fair. Now it is the epitome of tourism in France.
Gustave Eiffel brilliantly modernized the whole idea of France, with just a metal structure. The three levels of the tower, are used for Michelin restaurants (1st and 2nd levels).
The third level is 906 feet high, used as an observation deck. To climb the top of Eiffel tower is on the bucket list of many, but you need to stand in tiring queues for getting your hand on the pass. You can book online if you want to avoid the hassle.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES
“It was like the first time I visited Versailles. There was an eeriness like I’d been there before. I don’t know if I was Louis XIV or Marie Antoinette or a lowly housekeeper, but I lived there.” ~ Maurice Minnifield
Louis XIV was an exalted ruler. He wanted to claim his absolute monarchy. That is why he renovated his hunting lodge in the quaint village of Versailles to a luxurious castle.
He used a baroque style with a classic French touch. There were apartments for King and Queen, Chapels, Royal Opera of Versailles. A genius manifestation was creating the Hall of mirrors.
Ornamental pieces of mirrors adorn the hall where the King used to summon his courtiers. Your eyes might hurt with the rays of light reflected from the mirrors. French gardens are set in the background with graceful fountains and lush shrubs.
“Mount Blanc is the monarch of mountains; They crowned him a long time ago On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, With a diadem of snow.” ~ Lord Byron
No verse ever written can reflect the beauty of Mont Blanc as aptly as these lines by Lord Byron. It crowns the French Alps in its magnificent glory.
At the height of 4808.73 m, it is blanketed by snow throughout the year. Chamonix is a cozy little village on your way to Mont Blanc. It is studded with charming restaurants that serve cheesy and fatty (fondue and raclette) meals to keep you warm.
Stroll through the snow-filled street and enjoy the tranquil landscape. The Valley offers opportunities for winter sports like skiing and adventure sports as well.
“Look at those vines, he said. Nature is wearing her prettiest clothes.”. ~ Peter Mayle, A Year in Provence
Sprawled across an area from the Italian border to lower Rhone River. It was the place where the Romans first settled outside of the Alps. For ages, it has been the nest of artists. Everyone travels here to bask in the untainted charm of quaint old towns.
The rolling hills are home to villages. A colorful field of lavender, vibrant olive grooves are the backdrop of rustic living. While walking on the stone pathways, you can ogle the scenic beauty.
There are classy restaurants that serve you healthy and delicious cuisines. Staying here during your holiday in France will give you a glimpse of the past. The mystery of historical sites and bustle of open-air- markets all will take you on a joyful ride of Provence.
CÔTE D’ AZUR AND BIARRITZ
“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is a story of the earth.” ~ Rachel Carson
The wild, untamed sea always acts as an unavoidable temptation. French Riviera or the Coast of Blue starts from the Italian border and ends in Saint-Tropez.
Nice, Cannes, Monaco all these cities scream of luxury. The hot summer sun and salty breezes attract the wealthy and privileged to spend their time in the vibrant sea coasts. It also has streets that are in vogue with chic boutique and apparel stores.
The Royals of France used to prefer Biarritz which is an elegant beach town near Grande Plage beach. Virgin of Rock is unfazed by the turbulent waves of Atlantic crashing on it.
The seaside palace turned resort offers exquisite views of the sea. You can lounge on the sunny beach or spend your time at the museum, lighthouse.
From the pristine beauty of Alaska to the eye-popping skyscrapers of New York, America is an incredibly diverse nation, which provides an impressive array of entertainment.
We have carefully selected the top iconic destinations that define tourism in America. They range from natural to architectural.
THE GRAND CANYON
“I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.” ~ John McCain
The majestic magnificence of the Grand Canyon is hard to describe in mere words. It would be a futile attempt to do justice to the 1.2 million acres of exotic beauty.
The Colorado River created this unique structure over the course of centuries. From the river to the rim you will find an ecosystem so rare that it is hard to find anywhere else in the world.
Imagine California Condors flying over the clear blue skies, while the Coyotes sing their song.
You may feel like an expert tracker while looking for wolves throughout the valley. However, you will have no difficulty finding tiny fluffy squirrels that are so cute you will want to take them home.
Your muscles will cramp, sweat will pour, but the epic moment of hiking Grand Canyon will be a lifelong memory. If you want to cool off during the hike, try swimming in the pools of the Mountain Valley.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
“In the wilderness, I sense the miracle of life, and behind it, our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” ~ Charles A. Lindbergh
Under the blanket of blue sky, Yellowstone National Park is full of every blessing of nature. It is the only place on Earth where you can view the highest number of colorful hot springs.
The highest lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake, is the namesake of the park.
Valleys scattered around the park are home to diverse wildlife. In these valleys, you can spy on grizzly bears and bison. Furthermore, the park occupies a vast area. Consequently, it is split into eight groups for easier access.
The Giant Prismatic Hot Spring looks like it belongs on Mars. The dark blue center fades into orange splashes along the edge. Plus, the beautiful Bridge Creek winds through the vegetation forming a natural bridge.
Gushing streams, graceful basins, roaring streams, and swelling waterfalls are in every corner of the park.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
“The first time I saw America was from my perch on the mast of a Spanish naval ship, where I could spot Statue of Liberty reaching proudly into the open endless American sky.” ~ Jose Andres
A token of freedom given by France to America stands proudly on Liberty Island. Gustave Eiffel, the man who built the Eiffel Tower, also built the Statue of Liberty.
This 305-feet-high statue depicts the Roman Goddess – Libertas. Piercing the skyline of Manhattan, it best symbolizes the character of America.
You need to take a ferry ride to reach Liberty Island from Jersey City. Once you enter the monument, it is free to look around and explore the American masterpiece.
The stairs wind up from the base of the statue to the crown. You must book a reservation ahead of time to have access to the top. This copper enigma is an emblem of peace and freedom for the entire country.
JOHN F.KENNEDY ASSASSINATION SITE
“Things do not happen; Things are made to happen.” ~ John F. Kennedy
America might be a young nation, but the history still runs deep. The assassination of John F. Kennedy occurred in Dealey Plaza in 1963.
The Sixth Floor Museum now stands on the site of the assassination. The museum displays the planning hub of the sniper, which was redesigned and displayed here.
The general aesthetic of Dallas is super-modern. However, Dealey Plaza is a reminder of that time when Mrs. Kennedy was drenched in red blood and the nation suffered a great tragedy.
HANAUMA BAY BEACH
“So that the monotonous fall of waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts, seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again…” ~ Virginia Woolf
Roads that are often traveled become beaten and boring. Hanauma Bay beach was beaten and boring once, until recently when it was declared a protected area. Every woman envies curves.
The elegant curving shoreline of Hanauma Bay beach in O’ahuHawaii is no exception. Volcanic eruptions formed this ancient caldera, which eventually eroded to form the bay.
The turquoise blue water has a plethora of coral displayed across the ocean floor. If you do not harm marine life, you are allowed to snorkel in the bay.
The beach closes every Tuesday to replenish the ecosystem since it is a maritime natural preserve.
Are you a US Permanent Residentand someone who loves to travel? If you have been wondering whether to take US Citizenship or not and whether it makes any difference in terms of how many countries you can travel “Visa Free”, then this blog post is for you.
Visa free travel is a big plus when it comes to traveling efficiently. Not having to deal with travel visa saves you money, planning-time, and paperwork. In short, fewer headaches and you can travel on short notice.
Let’s say you are getting a great airline deal or there is a wedding or it’s just that all of your friends are planning a trip, having a US Green Card vs. a US Passport are two totally different things.
Below is the list of countries that lets you enter visa free or provides you a visa on arrival (on the airport) based on your citizen or US permanent residence status.
US Green Card
Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands
British Virgin Island
British Virgin Island
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
With a US Passport, you can also travel Visa Free to:
Antigua & Barbuda
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Federated States of Micronesia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad & Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Lastly, I must mention that besides your Green Card status, your home country passport will also avail you some visa free travel benefits.
For example, if you are an Indian Citizen and a US Permanent Resident, besides the above-listed countries, you also get to visit over 50 countries based on your passport power.
Question: Can I travel to [XYZ destination] with a Green Card only?
Answer: If you are wondering if you can travel to Canada or Mexico with a Green Card only, unfortunately the answer is you will still need your passport if you are traveling by air. If you are driving through, legally you only need your Green Card but it’s a good practice to carry your passport as well.
I am an Indian passport holder (with a green card) and live in the USA. What is the process to get an Argentina Travel Visa?
I am answering my own question here based on my experience of getting an Argentina visa from the consulate in Los Angeles.
I am writing this post because I had these questions before I got the visa. The visa experience is from Nov 2014 and might be different depending on when you read this post.
The Argentinian consulate in Los Angeles, CA caters to some 11 states. If you need a visa from them, you have to make an appointment at the consulate. They do not accept walk-ins, nor can you apply by mail.
To make an appointment, send an email to the consulate.
I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, but this would be different for other consulates.
The consulate is very busy and hence replies to emails very slowly, sometimes even after 2 weeks. In my case, they replied after a week. Given sufficient time for them to respond and to get an appointment.
A young and old couple doing the Tango
Tips On Communication
When communicating with the consulate, please highlight in the subject that you are requesting for an appointment, and when your date of travel is. This might help you get their attention if you are in a hurry.
The consulate will give you a list of requirements for the visa. They will also give you a date and ask you to confirm it. I took the date they gave me and did not try to change it.
I live in San Francisco, so had to travel to LA for the appointment. On the day of the appointment, I went to the consulate. The consulate is in a good area of Los Angeles and is well connected by public transport. There is parking at the consulate if you decide to drive.
I took public transport. There is a Starbucks if you reach early and need to wait, and printer services outside the consulate, if you need to take any missing printouts. The consulate has restrooms as well.
When you go into the consulate, you need to sign in. they have two lists, one for appointments and one for those without. Sign into the one for appointments. Wait for your name to be called out. You won’t be called before your appointment even if the person handling the visa
is not busy. When your turn comes, a consulate person checks your papers to make sure all required documents are submitted. You are then asked to wait to be interviewed by the consulate officer. I had to wait 20 minutes, but a person before me had to wait for an hour or so.
The consulate officer asked me basic questions as to why i am going there, how long, if i have been there before etc. But he did check to make sure I have all the hotels booked. I had made a list of all the dates and hotels in addition to the hotel reservations. This made him happy.
The officer was very courteous. He approved my visa. I asked him for a multiple entry visa, and he gave me one for twice the number of days I asked for. The passport will be mailed back to me (you have to submit a prepaid USPS priority flat rate envelope) in 7 days. You can ask for 3-day processing for $40.
Pro-Tip: The visa fee is free for Indian passport holders. Therefore, you can ask for a multiple-entry visa, since you don’t have to pay anything extra.
Note: You can carry a backpack to the consulate. So if you are traveling to LA from another city and need to check out from your hotel or just reach there in the morning (by bus or plane), you don’t need to keep your bags in a locker or something. Good luck!
This is a curated post on visa requirements. The author of this article is Ksach and this answer first appeared on a TripAdvisor forum. Some changes are made to make this article more useful.
Safe Traveling gives you a sense of security. We love going places, meeting new people, seeing beautiful sunsets. That is what travel is about. But in the excitement of it all, we should not forget about staying safe.
Don’t be so immersed in walking down a bustling tourist street that you get pick-pocketed. There are some basic tips you need to follow for safety.
It is not just theft that you are up against, you never know when you face a natural disaster, or God forbid an illness during your trip. In that case, you ought to be prepared for the worse. Below are the safety rules for wise travelers.
Carry a door lock with you
No matter what kind of destination you go and no matter how high end the hotel you stay in, you always need to have your privacy.
That is the key to safe traveling. A door lock helps you keep unwanted visitors at bay and is particularly useful for women who travel solo.
Along with a door lock pack a smoke detector with you too. Not all the rooms have smoke detectors.
So it is better to have one with you in the case of an emergency it can be a lifesaver. Many buildings do not have smoke detectors, so to be on the safe side take one with you.
Memorize the Emergency Digits
For safe traveling, You need to be well aware of the emergency numbers before you travel to a new country.
For example, the emergency number for an ambulance in America is 911 but in Cuba, it is 104. Google the emergency numbers of your destination before you head out for being safe. It will be beneficial if you find yourself in any trouble.
You might snort and say that “English is Global, Why translate it?”. But just a bit of illness abroad and you will know how important the local language is.
Countries such as China, Japan, South Korea are very serious about their mother tongue. If you give them your health documents in English, they can’t understand it because they don’t know it.
In such cases, download the health app if you haven’t already. And then input the information into it. You can use a translation app to translate all the information, So the translation would not be a biggie.
Prepare all these documents before you head out for your trip, And keep apps like to translate Microsoft Translator, Translator and Google Translator in your phone. They come in handy while traveling.
Sign up with the State Department
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program provides US Nationals with many benefits. But above all in any case of emergency, the US Embassies can help you out in a much faster and swifter way.
It is a free service, so all the US citizens but takes advantage of it. The department also sends travel alerts regarding the country you are about to travel to.
Choose to Stay on Lower Floors
By lower floors, we do not mean the ground floor. You know in case of a break in the ground floor is the most vulnerable floor. But in the event of a fire emergency, the top floor is also going to give you trouble.
The comfy of all floors are the second and the third floor. In the case of break-ins, you are relatively safer, and in the event of a fire emergency, the ladder can reach you.
These are just a few practical tips for those travelers who love their safety. And yes it is also for those paranoid travelers who keep checking their door locks.
For many of our readers, thinking about travel brings to mind beautiful, charming cities with magnificent waterfronts. After all, why not visit a place where you can spend your time in the arms of nature? Who doesn’t want that?
The sound of rushing water touches us deeply. Our minds work to capture the beautiful locations as a sense of peace flows over us. These moments stir the desire in us to return to this heaven.
So for the planning of your next vacation, we present you with some of the most beautiful waterfront cities around the world.
The famous capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, is in Northern Holland. The river Amstel is a key geographical feature of the city, as it runs through the center of the city.
Amsterdam has around 90 islands, 100 kilometers of canals and 1500 bridges. The canals have cafes along with them which fill to capacity with visitors on sunny days.
If you are a camera fiend, you must visit the city’s most beautiful street, Brouwersgracht. Or stop by the Canal Ring or Grachtengordel to enjoy a leisurely romantic time with your partner by the waterside.
Amsterdam is also a city for fashion lovers, and shopaholics, due to the colossal variety of items and brands! For all the bicycle lovers there is good news.
The best way to discover Amsterdam’s canals and streets is aboard a bike. This cultural city has several famous museums like the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
Sydney is on the east coast of Australia. It attracts numerous tourists every year from all over the world due to its world renown sunny beaches and natural beauty. Also, this city has the finest harbor in the world.
Sydney has a broad range of modern and old architecture. If you visit, then you must stop by the most architecturally significant building, the Sydney Opera House. You should either catch a live performance or go backstage if you can.
Enjoying the blue water from 200 steps above the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a once in a lifetime experience.
If you are a wildlife lover, Sydney has a great biodiversity of native flora and fauna. However, the birds should be the first to get attention. You can visit the Royal National Park or the Taronga Zoo to get started.
Venice, Italy is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a world heritage site. Interestingly, the streets of Venice are integrated with the water. Small bridges, high buildings and a lot of boats create an environment without any traffic stress or pollution.
The antique palaces and sparkling canals are not the only reason to visit this aging city. Magical islands, beautiful cathedrals and of course, local wineries, are a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage.
If you are on the hunt for boutiques do not miss the Piazza San Marco. Furthermore, every visitor should make time to see the Basilica di San Marco, which is a Byzantine monument.
San Francisco, California is a city filled with sun and a warm glow. Plus, for all the science lovers out there, you can enjoy the Exploratorium. This ‘public learning laboratory’ has a glass bay observatory along with a museum displaying experiential exhibits.
You can also visit one of the city’s maritime epicenters, the Hyde Street Pier, to watch shipbuilders assemble boats. The historic ferry building offers many panoramic views of the bay.
In addition, the Golden Gate Park has oceanfront trails that you cannot miss! Animal lovers watch out for the migratory blue whales!
RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio (in Brazil) is the city of carnivals. It is a marvelous city, known for its charming, colorful views and lively culture. There is a ridiculous number of beaches across the city which lie opposite to the giant mountains.
You can cruise along the long sidewalks running parallel to the beaches. Or you can ride cable cars to Pão de Açúcar or go down to the city’s famous nightclubs like Circo Voador to enjoy samba music.
Hello, foodies! Wander down the Rua Dias Ferreira to find the city’s best restaurants. Top it all of by exploring the streets of Urca to discover the colonial architecture.
Driving, windows down, music playing, nothing but the open road ahead; what else will you feel besides freedom? Traveling by car can be a wonderful and insightful experience.
Whether is it high rises or a natural vista, this method of transportation allows you to savor the scenery. People from all over the world take to the roads in search of a unique and liberating experience.
This roadway begins in Oberes Nassfeld and ends in Kaiser Franz Josefs Hohe. There is nothing you will miss while on this road trip. You will go from dark tunnels to sunny meadows. Plus, the winding road will take you through the mighty mountainside. Finally, you will reach the winter landscape.
The Grossglockner, the namesake of this route, is the highest peak in the Austrian Alps. The name befits the roadway since this trip will have you weaving in and out of the looming mountains. Furthermore, there are lovely stops along the way.
You can visit the Nature’s museum. This museum specializes in all substances of modern ecology. Lastly, the breathtaking view of Pasterze Glacier at the end of your trip will be magnificent.
This road route connects two municipalities, Eide and Averoy. The roadway is eight kilometers long and passes through an archipelago including several small islands. The road has eight bridges that connect the islands.
The primary feature that attracts ‘roadies’ is the highest bridge, Storseisundet. When the wind is wild, you will love driving across this bridge. The turns in the bridge are breathtaking and exhilarating.
Furthermore, the stunning view of the mountains emerging from the sea will leave you in awe. In addition, the Atlantic road is toll-free!
This was one of the earliest roads built by road enthusiasts. Just as the car was starting to rise in prominence, this road was being built. The Touring Club at the time decided to make a route that would connect all the Alpine passes.
Consequently, you will find sixteen passes while you drive along this road. Along the way, you can stop and visit Ecrins, Queyras, Mercantour, and Vanoise national parks. The scenic beauty of Geneva Lake is worth the detour.
Also, you can satisfy your hunger with delicious food found while on the road.
Dracula’s country attracts all kinds of tourists. The mystery and myths surrounding Romania make it an ideal location for a road trip. Discovering the legends of Romania will be an exotic journey.
The trip will lead you to Poienari Fortress. The intimidating fortress is the inspiration behind many myths. Specifically, many Vampire legends originated in this area.
Furthermore, the Transfagarasan tears its way through the Fagaras Mountains, which are the highest mountain in the country and the Carpathian Mountain Range. The Carpathian scenery has a raw beauty. Plus, adventure lovers can ride mountain bikes throughout the range.
This 200-kilometer long route has all you could ever want. It will take you on a ride along the Iveragh Peninsula. Consequently, you will see the deep valleys and high mountains along the coastline.
The slopes give in to sharp cliffs that look over the coastlines, which. Plus, you can stop at the white sand beaches along the way to relax.
Sneem is a small village near the roadway. Cute renovated thatch-roofed houses characterize this charming village. Plus, this village would be a great place to stop and rest on your journey. In addition, there are many other attractive spots along the roadway.
For example, Blue Pool Nature Reserve, Rossbeigh Beach, and Torc Waterfall are natural beauties you cannot miss. Lastly, Ross Castle and the Stone Circles are architectural wonders to behold.
The Romantic Road is named so because it is an embodiment of romance. The roadway was built around 1950, since then it has inspired many young couples in love. If you are traveling with your partner, this trip is perfect for you.
The trip will take you through medieval villages and across magnificent fairy-tail castles. Plus, the road will lead you to Schwerin Castle, which resides on an island.
The Romantic Road will surely bring out the romantic in you. Rustic landscape and baroque castles make for an incredible journey.
If you are someone who holds an Indian passport and wants to travel the world – backpacking, cruising, or simply wanting to fly and explore a new country, you likely already know the frustrating drill.
As an Indian passport holder, you rank 67th in the world and it is true that the situations for Indians are improving. For example, India used to be ranked #77 just five years ago (in 2015).
With significant improvements made on the diplomatic front with several foreign countries, as of 2019, as an Indian citizen, you get to travel visa-free to 25 countries and get visa on arrival to an additional 39 countries.
Whatever! This all said one should not feel discouraged. As the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. Moreover, there are hundreds of Indians (if not thousands) who have managed to travel all over the world on a budget and average passport power.
As Indians, your biggest advantage is your language skills. If you are reading this blog in English, you will have no problem exploring this planet from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle.
As per the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan treaty, Indians enjoy no questions asked, visa-free travel to both Nepal and Bhutan. You can even work there or teach English or do some volunteering work and take your time while you explore these beautiful Himalayan countries.
If you want to travel to Europe(and you should), the best way to go about it is to apply for a multi-year, multiple entry Schengen Visa. Currently, the Schengen Area consists of 26 member European countries.
Northern Lights in Vik, Iceland
This allows you to travel to all of these countries which are all located in Europe.
Going to America! The United States exhibits characteristics that make it a unique country. Travelers from around the globe come to discover every nook and corner of this Great Nation.
We encourage every traveler to visit the United States. However, you must know a few important things before you hop on your flight to M’erica.
THE UNITED STATES IS MASSIVE
“ Size is not a grandeur, and territory does not make a nation.” – Thomas Huxley
Territory may not make a nation, and size may not matter. However, the United States is large in every regard, not just land mass.
If you do not already know, the United States has 50 individual states. Traveling through each and every state, which collectively cover 3.8 Million square miles, is a mammoth task. You need to plan carefully, that you do not miss anything during your trip.
However, it will be hard regardless to visit every state during your first voyage. It is advisable to narrow down your journey to a particular region or destination so that you are not overwhelmed.
“I have been struck time and time again by how important measurement is to improve the human condition.” – Bill Gates
America is one of the few countries in the entire world which does not use the metric system. They still live in the age before the invention of the metric system, and thus they use the Imperial System.
You will find it unusual when you ask how high the Grand Canyon is, and you will get the answer 8,000 feet rather than 2,438 meters. The units of measurement for distance are miles and yards rather than kilometers and meters.
No matter how strange it is for you if you are coming from another country you have to be familiar with the units of measurement in order to navigate.
THE TIPPING CULTURE
“I wish we had a system where you are given a bill including service and that people were paid properly so that they didn’t have to rely on tips.” – Murray Walker
You are expected to tip when you are going to dine at any restaurant, or even if you are at a café. There is no official rule that you have to tip. However, it is an unspoken rule of the culture out here.
Because the wages are low, workers depend on tips. From your waiter to the doorman, it is customary to leave tips for those in the ‘service industry.’ You are expected to tip 15%- 20% of your bill. So, stuff your pocket with dollars bills.
A note on Sales Tax: When you are shopping, you need to pay sales tax in most US State. The sales tax varies from state to state and even from county to county.
TIGHT AIRPORT SECURITY
“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” – Jodi Rell
Terror bombings in planes have become an increasing threat to America. Consequently, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), introduced the use of full body scanners.
You will need to wait in the queue and get scanned before you are allowed to board the plane. The scanned image is private and it is almost like a cartoon.
However, if you think it is an invasion of privacy or you suffer from health problems, you can ask for a pat-down scan. Every passenger boarding a domestic or international flight has to go through this process.