A List of to Make Your Vacation Planning Easier

Many people spend their vacation traveling either in country or abroad and find it can be a complicated ordeal to remember all those little details before leaving home, and while on the trip you thought was so well planned out. This is where some can be most useful. It usually helps to make a list of necessities and then divide it between what needs to be done before locking that door at home and what needs to be remembered when traveling to your destination. Here are some valuable to include on your lists:

• If traveling out of the country scan your passport, travel tickets (cruise or air travel), ATM card info, emergency phone numbers, and store this information on your email address so it can be accessed by you if necessary from anywhere in the world.
• Do not carry all your valuables in one place. Split up your cash, bank cards, credit cards, and travelers checks into different locations either in pockets or your baggage (best if kept on your person in case of luggage misplacement). That way if you get robbed you may not lose everything all at once.
• Take bar soap and toothpaste powder instead of liquids and tubes to simplify matters for security clearance. Purchase the sample sized items if possible.
• One of the best suggests you pack everything you possibly can in plastic bags because they keep cleaner and are visible to those who feel it necessary to go through your luggage at airports, etc. They also come in handy as an emergency umbrella.
• Travelling with a flashlight (or torch) is common but don’t let those batteries run down if the light comes on accidentally. Turn your batteries around before storing it, and then turn them around again when you get to your destination.
• Shoes should be put into plastic bags to keep the other items in your luggage odor free and clean. You could put a pair of socks inside each shoe for easy packing.
• When flying, especially on a long flight, keep any necessary medications along with your important papers close by in overhead baggage. It might be useful to also bring along a clean change of clothing when on long flights.

The last item on this list must be to remember to get any necessary vaccinations that may be required (depending on the location) and to not forget your list!

Ethiopia Adventure

In November 2010 my husband and I travelled around Ethiopia for three weeks by public bus with a private guide. Travel (especially bus travel) is a real adventure and not for the faint hearted as there is long travel days (even longer if the bus breaks down) on poorly maintained roads. But it is an excellent way to get up close and personal and experience the life and culture of the locals.

Addis Ababa
We arrived at the airport at 3.30am. We had not booked any accommodation due to our early arrival so we stayed at the airport till about 7am. A taxi agreed to take us into the city for USD$10. We went to the Ras Hotel where we had to wait till 9am to see if they had a room.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Ras Hotel 3 times due to its central location. The price includes breakfast which is awful but lunch and dinner are good.

Bahir Dar
We stayed at the Ghion Hotel on Lake Tana and did a boat cruise to the islands to see the painted churches. The Blue Nile Falls area is pretty but not worth the long bumpy ride to get there. Since damming the river, the waterfalls are certainly nothing like the posters show.
Travel Tip: Check if a guide is included with your Lake Tana boat cruise. There was 9 of us on our boat. No guide accompanied us on the boat except for our private guide Samson. The first island we visited Samson acted as intrepreter otherwise we would have not understood what we were looking at. The second island we visited the church guide spoke English.

Gonder
The abandoned castles are very interesting and it is worth hiring the guides inside the gate.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Belgez Pension which was cheap, clean and quiet but the rooms were very small and cramped. They do your washing for a very small fee – give to the cleaners in the morning.

Simien Mountains
We did a one day 4WD day trip with another traveller and our guide Samson.
Travel Tip: We would have liked to have stayed overnight even though we are not trekkers, as the scenery is stunning.

Lalibela
We spent 2 nights in Lalibela exploring the amazing rock churches.
Travel Tip: Keep your entrance ticket handy as they will be checked at each church entrance.

Arba Minch
Arba Minch is a overnight bus stop between Addis Ababa and Jinka.
Travel Tip: Spend an extra night on one of the stopovers and do the lake tour.

Jinka
We hired a 4WD locally to tour the main 3 tribes in the area (Mersi, Hamer and Karo tribes). We shared this cost with 3 other travellers who were on the bus and stayed at the same accommodation as us.
Travel Tip: Buy your bus ticket to Addis Ababa early (at least 1 day in advance) so you can obtain a better seat number otherwise you will find yourself stuck at the back of the bus on the 2 day journey. Buy good ear plugs so that you can block out the noise of the loud music videos playing.

Transport
We used a variety of transport that included: public bus, minivan, 4WD and boat.
Travel Tip: If you find that quite a few of you are heading in the same direction, it will be more economical and comfortable to rent a minivan and driver like we did from Bahar Dar to Gondar (7 people).

Tour Guide
We used the services of a private guide. This was the first time we have hired a guide for the entire trip through a new country. The guide proved invaluable in keeping the touts away (worth the money alone), dealing with local tour operators and obtaining hotels.
Travel Tip: Use a private guide’s extensive knowledge and experience to enjoy Ethiopia through the eyes of a local.

Top Iran Before You Take a Trip to Iran

The next time you take your yearly vacations, take a peek at what Iran offers you before deciding on your travel itinerary. You will be surprised by the gamut of vacationing options available here. The vista unfolding before you is one of a beautiful country with its rich traditions and exciting landscape. The friendly people beckon you to visit and have a taste of the variety on offer.

But before you sort out your travel plans, make sure that you heed Iran which are essential when you go around the country. These tips will be handy when you travel Iran. There are also plenty of Iran travel packages which you’d better take advantage of if you want to spend your time in a worthwhile way.

Handy Tips for the Visitors

Since Iran is a vast country with many potential sight-seeing places, you need to map out your travel itinerary well in advance keeping in view the fact that it is a relatively unknown country. You must keep in mind the emotions of the local people and the etiquette that is to be expected from you while visiting the country.

  • Environment: The Iranians live in a very healthy environment. You need not be afraid of catching any dangerous diseases here. The government observes great caution in safeguarding the life of its citizens from harmful diseases. People are also aware of health care points for themselves.
  • Food: You can avail various Iran travel packages for your vacation. These packages will include your food too. They will take you to notable restaurants where you can have the best dishes in Iran. If you are a vegetarian, you can specify this in advance to your travel guide who will take care of your food requirement accordingly.
  • Travel: If you heed the Iran , you will never face any trouble during your stay in Iran. While going from one place to another on your travel itinerary, you will go through small towns and villages. You will see the culture and the heritage of the country through the eyes of the local people. The Iran travel packages will take you through the length and the breadth of the country.
  • Dress: You will notice that the Iranians are generally dressed to cover their entire body. This is as much a show of decency and also to safeguard against the hot sun beating down on Iran. Men could wear short-sleeved shirts, but it’s not recommended as you will suffer from sunburns. Therefore, it is advisable to cover your arms like many Iranians do while traveling.
  • Tourism season: The best time to visit Iran is from March to May and again from September to November. You can also relive the charming atmosphere in the Persian Gulf islands during January and February. These are called the high seasons of tourism. In other months of the year, in some areas, there will be very hot or very cold for those who aren’t familiar with such extreme weather conditions.
  • Communication: Although there are phone booths around the big cities where you can make domestic calls, you can buy chargeable sim cards to use your cell phones here. Tourists can brings their cell phones and use them inside Iran if their service providers have made contracts with Iranian telecommunication organization like many others. However, there are many internet cafes which will allow you to use the internet both inside and outside hotels.
  • Credit Cards: This is one of the very important Iran . There are not enough hotels or shops who can accept credit cards due to the sanctions. It is always advisable to keep cash handy while going around Iran using Iran travel packages. You can purchase any souvenir using US Dollars, Euro or Iranian currency, Rials.

Iran is a beautiful country and you will be happy to discover it with your family and friends. Paying heed to the Iran will make your stay a more convenient one.

Faro Portugal Travel Information

Faro Travel Advice and Information for the best use of your rental car.

Faro, the sleepy and tranquil gateway to the Algarve is located on the southern tip of Portugal next to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. It is a great place to visit to wind down, or more popularly used as a base for those looking to travel to the many fine resort towns along the Algarve. Those even more adventurous or with a thirst to travel can even drive into Spain to make the Costa del Sol part of their holiday, enjoying your car hire and heading to Gibraltar, Marbella, Malaga and beyond..

Faro has much to offer, great weather and beautiful beaches with superb waterfront restaurants and bars. All year round sunshine means the average winter day is between 15-20 Celsius, while summer averages 25-30 Celsius.

After flying into Faro Airport it is then a 4.5 mile trip into town.
We recommend booking car hire to be collected from Faro Airport, as you will find the use of a rental car will take a lot of pressure off having to rely on public transport during your trip.

Hotels and Museums
The town has many great hotels on offer for those looking for a luxury stay, through to more humble self-catering arrangements. Once settled in, Faro boasts three museums in a range of areas; The Maritime Museum, along with the Archeological and Ethnographic (or Human Culture) Museums show some great history of the local area, more of which can also be seen by taking a casual walk around the town. The city walls, of Roman origin, will lead you to the old Roman square, once site to the Roman forum, a cathedral and palace. One place that is a must see is the Cappella dos Ossos, a chapel with a chilling choice in decor. Cappella dos Ossos translates to the Chapel of Bones, and that’s just what you’ll see. Over 1,000 monks became part of this spectacle with the entire interior being covered with bones and skulls, something that has to be seen to believed.

Nature
Lovers of the great outdoors, nature and ornithology must visit the 170,000km sq nature reserve based around the Ria Formosa Lagoon. With hundreds of types of bird alone this is a great spot to see such wealth of life, especially during the spring and autumn migrational season.

Super Beaches
Beaches are essential for the majority of holiday makers, and Faro has some great beaches to offer. Again we recommend the use of car hire in Faro to get about as the beach is located around 4 miles from the town. Along the Algarve most of the beaches are found on sandbanks and require a short ferry journey to visit. Faro is one of the rare places where the beach can be reached on foot. On a sandbank itself, Faro’s beach can be accessed via a small rope bridge, which once crossed gives you fine gold sand, clear waters and plenty of space and solitude to relax with a cold drink and a book whilst working on your tan.

Water Park
Those with families looking for a fun day out should take a trip to ‘The Big One’ water park. A perfect way to have a good time and cool down on a hot day, and highly likely to be a highlight for children.

Other Towns nearby
With Faro being the gateway to the Algarve, we do recommend you visit some of the many other resort towns on offer especially if you have taken advantage and booked car hire in Faro. With each town offering something a little different in both culture and entertainment. Vilamoure is closest, being less then half an hour’s journey from Faro. Albuferia will take less then an hour to travel to, with Portimao and Praia da Rocha both taking around an hour and a quarter. Lagos is the longest journey but at under two hours it is still close enough to make a comfortable day trip without having to spend too much time traveling.

As the days do inevitably get hot, if you are traveling, especially with children, it is recommended that you get an air conditioned hire car.

5 for Couples Traveling Abroad – Part 1

When planning a romantic getaway you are excited and filled with anticipation of a holiday filled with romance, fun and maybe even a bit of adventure. Before the hugging, cuddling and kissing can begin you need to properly prepare for your trip. Here are the five tips to get your vacation started on the right track.

Tip #1: Every country has a recommendation for immunization. Be sure to check with your state department when traveling abroad. A friend of mine just returned from India with a stomach virus. It was several doctor visits before she got a correct diagnosis of C. Difficile; and now she’s having a hard time getting rid of it. And my co-worker got malaria on his visit to Africa. You don’t want to catch a virus or disease while traveling abroad and bring it back to your home country. Needless to say medical costs can be expensive and there is the danger you could make others sick as well. So, be sure to get your immunization shots even if you hate needles. Bite the bullet and get it done. Staying healthy during and after your trip is the first step to a wonderful vacation.

Tip #2: Check the expiration date on your passport. While packing for my last trip to Mexico with a few friends, I pulled out my passport three days before the trip and was shocked to discover it had expired. Oh my God!

Let me tell you it is possible to get a passport in three days – but it ain’t pretty.

I live in Chicago and the only place I could get a short-notice appointment in a passport office was in Houston. I had to change flights to go to Houston first (an extra $200 cost). I had to leave work two days early (unpaid days off). While waiting in the passport office the computers went down. I waited there all day and they did not come back online. I came back the next day. System was down all day but I waited praying it would come back online. It came back at 4:00pm and the office closed at 4:30pm. Only a fraction of the 100 people waiting for a passport received them that day ($150 cost). My name was the next to last name called.

Despite my deep breathing exercises, my stress level was off the chart. That expired passport was both a time-consuming and expensive delay and it almost didn’t happen. Learn from my mistake. Make sure you check your passport and any necessary visas required for your trip weeks ahead of time.

Tip #3: When traveling abroad purchase medical travel insurance to cover you and your family members. If you’re pregnant make sure you check the policy carefully. There are some travel insurance companies whose policies do not cover pregnant travelers.

Tip #4: Be sure to check the expected weather for your travel destination. While traveling around all summer to hot locals, I forgot to check the weather in Peru, my final destination. It was winter in Peru and the temperature was in the 50’s. A little cool for my shorts and flip-flops. I had to buy sweaters and a jacket. Do not assume the weather will be similar to where you live. This is rarely the case.

Tip #5: Buy trip cancellation insurance. If you have to cancel or delay your trip at the last-minute it can be costly, so you want to be covered.

These tips can help you have a smooth and worry-free vacation. Hopefully, a romantic getaway filled with hugging, cuddling and kissing.