Travel Tips – Packing Your Suitcase without Stress

The thrill of planning a trip will often light you up and consume all of your time. You look through guidebooks, talk to friends about their experiences, and research your itinerary on the internet. Still all this planning and research will not make the task of packing any less daunting.

Who hasn’t stood at the foot of their bed with empty suitcases spread on top, the

night before a big trip, filled with anxiety because you still haven’t packed?!?! You

try and try to think about exactly what you should be packed, throwing things in

and then taking them out. And you wonder, why didn’t any of the guidebooks give

you any advice on packing?

Well, hopefully this guide will help you, so that you can confidently pack and enjoy

the moments leading up to your trip, rather than being stressed over the contents

of your bag.

Luggage – I recommend taking one carry-on and one checked suitcase.

Shorter trips may allow for a carry-on only, but I would never take more than one

checked bag no matter how long you are traveling. Remember, when you get to

your destination, you will need to carry your luggage and you don’t know how far

you’ll be lugging it. While we’re talking about lugging your luggage… I would

recommend selecting a suitcase or pack that had wheels, but that you can also hand

carry. There are many varieties of large backpacks with wheels. The reasoning is

that if your wheels break off (a common occurrence along cobblestone streets), you

will still be able to carry your pack.

Shoes – Bring a pair of sneakers (or boots) for outdoor activities such as

hiking, and a dressier pair of closed-toe shoes for museums, dinner’s out, or other

city activities. If you are traveling to a hot locale, then also bring a pair of sandals

that can go from beach to dinner. Resist the urge to bring 10 pairs of shoes!!! As

someone who loves shoes, I always want to pack a wide variety… but we must avoid

packing too many shoes! They take up space, are heavy, and are an unnecessary

addition.

Shorts – When traveling to a hot climate, shorts are often considered a

requirement. Still, remember that in many cultures shorts are not considered

acceptable. For example, many museums and churches such as the Vatican will not

allow you to enter if you are wearing shorts (or have exposed shoulders for that

matter). Bring only a pair or two of shorts, and make sure that you have other light

weight options for hot weather.

Basics – Bring enough socks and underwear to last for every day of the

trip (up to two weeks) so that you will not need to do laundry. For longer trips,

understand that you will likely need to do laundry on the road if you do not want to

bring ridiculous amounts of luggage. As far as shirts, pants, skirts, and the rest…

Bring clothes that could be worn during the day or at night, and as a general rule

bring half as many items as you have days. Wearing items twice should be no

problem, and you will significantly lighten your load.

Rolling – To avoid wrinkles and use your precious packing area to the

max, fold your clothes in half (in the long direction), then roll as smoothly and

tightly as possible. When you arrive at your destination, your clothes will unroll

wrinkle-free. Stuff socks and underwear into your shoes and carefully place the

shoes on top of the rows or rolled clothes.

Toiletries – Bring all of your toiletries in travel size containers. Full size

shampoo bottles add unneeded weight to your pack. After selecting your toiletries,

place all items into zip-lock bags. If a bottle bursts during travel, you will be much

relieved to have the protection. If you are bringing make-up, keep it to the bare

necessities, avoid bringing extras like eyelash curlers. Any prescription medication

should be accompanied by the actual prescription and if possible, a note from your

physician. Keep the medication, as well as your toothbrush and toothpaste in your

carry-on, just in case your luggage is lost.

If you follow these basic packing rules, you will find that the process of packing and

carrying your luggage will be much easier. Additionally, you will be able to enjoy

your travels much easier knowing that you have brought what you need, but can still

carry the load.

Enjoy your trip (and your packing!)!

Vacations – 5 Tips for Booking a Vacation Online

You’ve heard it a million times before, but if it’s sounds too good to be true well guess what it is! Like most things when booking a trip online common sense prevails. So trust your gut and if it doesn’t seem right give it a pass and keep looking. Here are 5 tips that will stop you from being scammed when booking a vacation online and help you keep your hard earned money!

1. Make Sure the Offer is from a Legitimate Supplier! Scam artists are real good. In fact they can look more professional that the pros! If you click on a banner ad or read a review promoting a particular vacation do your homework. Read through the content as the bad guys will portray themselves as, for example, being from Hilton Hotels. So if it’s a promotion for Hilton, go to their company website or call them to make sure the offer is there. If it’s not, chances are you would have been ripped off.

2. Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Not all companies are household names and yet they most likely have a legitimate offer. It sounds trite, but contact the local BBB of the city the business is located in to see if there are any reports of them. According to the BBB the travel industry is in the top 25 for complaints.

3. Beware of Delayed Reservations. This one is a classic! Make sure you put your purchase on a credit card – no cash and no checks! If you pay by credit card you have 60 days to dispute the charge. So if you are booking a vacation for 3 or 4 months down the road make sure you are sent the reservation within a few days. The scammers will wait to the 61st day or longer to send you the reservation when it’s too late to dispute with your credit card company.

4. Don’t Pay by Check! Once you have the money is gone and if you have a dispute, probably too bad as the supplier has your money!

5. Read the Fine Print. Not sexy and no doubt a bore. But make sure what the salesperson or sales page has promised is not contradicted in the fine print. If it is, get out of the deal or call your credit card company quash it.

Booking a vacation online happens a million times every day without incident. I hope these tips help you to have a great vacation!

5 Healthy Eating Tips For December

Follow these simple tips and get the healthy eating habit in the run up to Christmas.

  1. Cut down on sugar

    Tired all the time? Easy prey for every bug that’s going? Beat winter health downturn by cutting back on sugary foods, which make white blood cells less able to combat nasties. Up your intake of fresh fruit and veg to keep immunity high.

  2. Keep temptations hidden

    It’s a good idea to stock up slowly on festive goodies and spread the cost – but be sure to hide them away – well away – where you won’t be tempted before the holiday. Don’t make your careful shopping habits an excuse to turn Christmas into a month-long binge of unhealthy eating.

  3. Eat more fresh vegetables

    Serve a large mixed salad as an appetiser before the main course to take the edge of hunger and give you a valuable serving of fresh veg.

  4. Plan to eat healthily

    Keep up the exercise even though the weather is colder. Wrap up warm, and walk briskly, every day. You’re bound to be hungry when you return, so before you leave, set out a healthy snack – put soup in a pan, get wholemeal bread into the toaster ready to go, or fill a small bowl with dried fruits and nuts. Make healthy eating easy, and you won’t be tempted to reach for the cookies.

  5. Reduce consumption of booze

    Cut back on alcohol in the run up to the holiday season. When you feel like a drink, wait for a while before you begin on the alcohol, and instead pour a fruit juice or tomato juice into an attractive glass, add ice, lemon and sip slowly. It soon becomes an easy, alcohol-reducing habit.

Cologne Tips

Traveling to Germany is not complete without a stay in Cologne. Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest city, and is the largest city both in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The city is a beautiful cultured destination with great leisure facilities, pubs, restaurants, shops and history. Many years of restoration work has seen a rebuild to portray the wonderful city it was. Cologne is often called the Cathedral city.

About Cologne

Cologne is an old city, of great importance in Roman History as it is one of four sanctified cities that formed the north corner spot of the Empire. At the beginning of the thirteenth century Cologne was the largest fortified city in the world. However, over 90% of Cologne was destroyed during WWII.

How to get there

Depending on your departure point, flying is usually the best choice of transport. If traveling from Europe, the Köln/Bonn Konrad Adenauer Airport is only 10km from the centre of the city. However, if traveling from outside Europe, Frankfurt Airport is the closest and provides both road and train transfers for the 200km journey.

Where to stay in Cologne

Hotels are the most popular choice of accommodation in Cologne and 2 to 5 star standard hotels are usually available. However, check for the festival dates as this can seriously affect the availability of rooms. Popular festivals include the “Balls ad Fools” Festival (early November), Easter Festivals (March/April,) and Christmas Markets (December)

What to see in Cologne

The Altstadt is worth a visit both during the day to visit Ludwig’s Museum and the evening for dinner where you can enjoy a “Roman dinner”. For relaxation check out Claudius Spa that is found in the Rheinpark area. Visit the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) that was originally established in 1248,

Where to eat

There are over 1,000 restaurants in Cologne. Hence a great range of top quality restaurants that offer all kinds of international food. There are also many attractive cafes and bars as well as all takeaway options.

Where to shop

Cologne has a great range of shops that cater for everybody’s needs. The most popular shopping streets are Schildergasse and Hohe Straße. Other smaller streets that head out of the centre have more unique shops and indoor markets. The shopping areas clearly indicate pedestrian access, making them attractive and well laid out.

There is something for everyone in Cologne. The ancient cathedral city is well worth a visit.

Holiday Tips For Bird Safety – 5 Ways to Keep Your Bird Safe During the Holidays

Keeping your bird safe is a lifelong commitment that probably will need a little extra attention with the arrival of the holidays. Here are 5 things to do to make sure your bird has a safe and happy holiday with you and your family.

Keep the Routine Normal

Try to keep your bird’s routine as close to normal as possible by maintaining feeding, cage cleaning, hygiene rountine, and its interaction with your family the same. Keeping the bird’s schedule low-key and on track will prevent anxiety in your bird which can sometimes lead to health issues signaled by symptoms such as feather plucking, aggression, shrieking, loss of appetite, and change in elimination habits.

Provide Adequate Darkness

Birds need between 10 and 12 hours of darkness each day to stay healthy. Even though you may stay up late at night, and get up early in the morning more frequently as the holidays approach, your bird still needs its beauty rest. Use a cage cover to insure your bird gets enough down time to stay healthy.

Prevent All Contact with Decorations

A decorated tree is probably the first place a bird will fly. This is to be avoided as the wires could cause the bird to be hung if he is unable to untangle himself, and many of the ornamental decorations used on the tree that might usually be a part of the bird’s diet in the wild are made from substances that are toxic if ingested.

Cage Your Bird during Parties

Having your bird in its cage during holiday parties is the safest place it can be. This will prevent your bird from encountering dangerous situations such as drowning in a punch bowl, being burned by a hot coffee urn or eating people food that is likely to be on the table and is known to be fatal to birds such as chocolate, alcoholic beverages, sweet, and salty snacks to name a few.

Use an Air Purifier to Avoid Respiratory Problems

Birds have very delicate respiratory systems which are easily overtaxed with perfumes, scented candles, odors from the kitchen and overheating of pots and pans (particularly Teflon) at any time during the year. Using an air purifier to keep indoor air quality high is a good idea throughout the year, but especially during the holidays. Be alert about the number of odors that are introduced into your home and keep the exposure to an absolute minimum to avoid respiratory complications in your bird and worse. Using a purifier to filter your bird’s air will insure that your bird, and you are breathing the cleanest air possible.

5 Health Tips For Christmas

Christmas and good health may not seem to go together particularly well, so you need to pay extra attention, if you want to stay illness-free this December. Here are 5 tips for staying healthy this Christmas.

1. Reduce stress

Stress is one of the biggest health worries at this time of the year as you try to juggle your finances and plan a feast for your family.

Try to plan your budget and work out what you can afford.

If it’s a bit tight, don’t feel pressured to overspend on anything and tell your friends and family that you’re cutting back this year. They’ll understand, they may even feel relieved!

2. Get some exercise

We know winter is dark and gloomy, but getting even the smallest amount of exercise will make you feel so much better. It’s a brilliant way of relieving stress and boosting your energy, which means you will be mentally and physically prepared for when the relatives arrive!

A brisk walk is the easiest way, but if you prefer indoor exercise, why not spend 30 minutes swimming up and down your local pool – it works your whole body and is very low-impact, meaning it’s less likely to put strain on your joints.

Of course, you may well be going to a Christmas party which is actually a great place to get some exercise. When the DJ sticks on Abba’s Dancing Queen, make an effort to dance – it’s a surprisingly easy way to get some exercise (and all the time you’re dancing, you’re not drinking!)

Oh, and as it’s Christmas, remember, even shopping is exercise (as long as you’re not sitting in front of a computer doing it!).

3. Down a smoothie

This is the time of the year, when many of us feel stretched pretty thin. When you’re too busy or frazzled from the night before to eat properly, or even need a quick pick-me-up, then a smoothie is the quickest and healthiest way to get goodness inside you.

Try an Innocent Superfoods Detox smoothie (1l, £4 approx) – it’s packed with potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and reduce strokes, and Vitamin E, which fights heart disease and bad cholesterol. A 250ml glass will give you the same amount of immune-boosting antioxidants as are in five portions of fruit and veg.

4. Help your hangover

No-one enjoys a hangover. They’re nature’s way of telling you what a great time you’ve had, but they also tell you how many essential vitamins your body has lost.

Surprisingly, even though it’s the last thing many of us want to eat with a fuzzy head, a Christmas dinner is good to eat, because it’s full of the vitamins needed to cure a hangover.

Turkey is a great source of vitamin B, which is vital for your nervous system and stopping you feeling queasy. Potatoes have more Vitamin C than a glass of orange juice, which is important, because it helps the liver to break down the alcohol. And green veg like broccoli and Brussels sprouts contain Vitamin E which detoxes the body.

If that sounds like too much hard work, gobble down a ripe banana. It contains a natural antacid to help your stomach, magnesium to ease your headache and sugar to top up your liver’s natural sugar stores and lose that light-headed feeling.

5. Get some sleep

We know Christmas is all about having fun, eating and drinking, but research has shown that missing out on sleep could lead to a cold or other seasonal snuffle.

Your body and brain recharge when you’re under the covers and also fight off infections. Try drinking a warm, milky drink before bed, and, if you’ve been up or out partying, make sure you give yourself time to wind down and switch off before jumping into bed.

Traveling Made Easy

Traveling these days certainly can be a hassle. Everything from long lines to airline delays can cause travelers unnecessary and unfortunate inconveniences. Prior to your travels, considers the following ten tips and you will have a greater chance of limiting the hassles of traveling.

1. Know what to pack – Take some time to review the Transportation Security Administration’s “Permitted and Prohibited Items” list. You can find the list on the Transportation Security Administration Website located at http://www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial/editorial_1254.xml

2. Call the airport ahead of time to verify flight times – Don’t rely on the airlines to notify you of delays or flight changes. Travelers can contact their airline directly or their travel agent to ensure their flight is on-schedule.

3. Be prepared and schedule proper time for travel to the airport – Traveling can cause anxiety, which causes travelers to forget necessary travel items. Consider all-inclusive travel kits to avoid forgetting the essential personal items.

4. Secure a seat assignment prior to check in – This will prevent unnecessary problems during over-booked flights.

5. Secure your valuables – Traveling continues to be one the top times that people fall victim to crime. Travelers should limit the amount of cash they carry and use credit or debit cards when possible. Credit and debit cards offer a higher level of protection than carrying cash.

6. Check the destination on your luggage tag – Ask the ticket agent or curb assistant to double check the tag on your luggage. This can prevent your luggage going somewhere other than where you will be!

7. Research your destination point – Travelers should research their destination point prior to traveling. Being familiar with major highways, climate, customs, and points of interest will help traveler avoid unnecessary situations.

8. Be aware of unclean hotel rooms – There have been rising complaints about unwelcome insects in hotel rooms, according to pest control businesses. Demand fresh sheets from hotel management or carry portable silk bed sheets. Additionally, inform hotel management if you find any insects or unwanted messes in your hotel room.

9. When traveling for business, compare the cost of renting a car to utilizing taxicabs or public transportation. Travelers may find it convenient to rent a car; however, rental car costs can sometimes include exuberant “extra” fees.

10. Remember your agenda – Traveling in new places can sometimes be distracting and take away from the purpose of the trip. While on business, make sure to write down the times and places of your business. This will help to ensure you are not late to business meetings.

The Holiday Rep Presentation

The majority of tour operators will ask you to prepare a 2-3 minute presentation for you to deliver to the rest of the group at some point during the assessment day. If you have not been asked to prepare a presentation then do not panic. This may form part of your assessment day where you are actually given time on the day to put together a presentation.

The presentation is another opportunity for you to show the recruitment staff that you possess the qualities they are looking for. You need to show that you are confident standing up in front of a group of people and that you can communicate in an effective manner. This will be vital for your role as a holiday rep when holding welcome meetings and selling excursions.

As a result of this you must ensure that allow yourself enough time before the assessment day to prepare and practice your presentation. By putting time and effort into developing your presentation you will demonstrate to the recruitment staff your imagination and commitment to becoming a holiday rep.

Your presentation provides an important opportunity for you to tell your audience about your chosen topic. The tips outlined below are intended to help you in planning your presentation.

The key to a good presentation is preparation. Try to get a relative or a friend to listen to your presentation and ask them to provide feedback. Try to practice the presentation more than once. The more times your practice the more confident you will become about delivering it on the day.

I know that this maybe difficult as some tour operators do not ask you to prepare a presentation and tell you that time will be given on the day to prepare. Try not to read straight from your notes. Although you may be nervous, this has a negative effect as it shows you are not confident and this is one of the attributes the recruitment team are looking for. There is no problem if you glance at your notes for reference and if you make an error just simply correct it and carry on with your presentation.

Family Christmas Holiday – 5 Top Tips

If you are looking for a family Christmas Holiday here are 5 top tips for something a little different and exciting this year.

1. Since Christmas is traditionally a time for Children you might like to hear about this very special Christmas Holiday in Lapland. Up inside the Arctic circle is Lapland the home of Santa Claus. What better way to see in Christmas than to visit Santa, his Elves and his Reindeer at home before he sets off on his big day. Each child will get to see Santa,and receive a present. There are also sleigh rides (pulled by reindeer of course), husky rides,Snowmobiles, a lovely Christmas Gala Dinner, Christmas Carols and cosy log fires. So a truly wonderful family Christmas Holiday.

2. The next is a very unusual family Christmas Holiday. It is at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden which is 200km inside the Arctic Circle. This is a truly unique Hotel. Every year it is newly built from the crystal clear ice provided by the fast flowing Torne River. Each year it has a new design and newly designed suites. You spend one night in the Ice Hotel suitably prepared with a nice warm bed and the other nights in a cosy and warm Swedish Hotel. There is every winter outdoor activity available or you can just sit quietly by the fire and read a good book or play games.

3. For a totally different Christmas our next destination is Australia. Sydney to be precise. If you are tired of the cold and snow try “Down Under” for a summery Christmas. The weather will be great but you will have all the usual Christmas fun. Christmas Trees, Carols, turkey dinner and of course Santa Claus. Sydney has a number of free events over the Christmas Season these include choirs, entertainers, slide shows, concerts and of course the fabulous fireworks display on New Years Eve.

4. How about a cruise for Christmas. This is a great one for Mom because after getting the family on board she can relax and let the party begin. This is a great opportunity for the adults to relax during the day while the kids are entertained then in the evening the fun of dressing up for the Gala dinners for each night of the Christmas period. Delicious food, great entertainment for all ages and a wonderfully relaxed Christmas for Mom.

5. Finally one of my favourite Christmas holidays. Christmas in New England. When you think of Christmas in New England you think of snow, skaters on a frozen pond, white churches with slim spires, twinkling lights on Christmas trees and pretty colonial homes with large holly wreaths on the front door. They are the images from a million Christmas cards.There are many beautiful Hotels and B & B’s all ready to provide you with a wonderful Christmas. Many of these buildings are beautiful old colonial homes. There is so much to see and do in New England. You and the kids could be busy from dawn till dusk. There is every conceivable winter activity and being on holiday you have the time to enjoy them together. Whether it is a simple toboggan ride down the nearest hillside or a day skiing it will be great just to enjoy it as a family.

So make the most of your family Christmas Holiday this year plan an exciting Christmas Vacation. From the cold of the Arctic circle to the warmth of an Australian Christmas there is sure to be something to please everyone.

Deep Sea Fishing Tips

Fishing in the deep sea is an amazing experience that once tried you will never forget. Here are some tips that will help you to enjoy your trip even more.

1. Watch what the sea and its wildlife are telling you

If you see birds, such as gulls, hovering over an area of water, pay attention. There is a strong likelihood that there are smaller fish that are used by fishermen for bait in the immediate area. This shows that there will be larger fish under the surface of the water. Driftwood is another sign of larger fish in the area. Follow these simple indications and you will be landing fish in no time.

2. Watch out for snooks hiding places

If you are on the lookout for snooks on your fishing trip, remember to look underneath ledges as they are a favorite hiding place for them. Snooks are very similar in their habits to bass.

3. Use crabs during a full moon

Crabs tend to shed their skins during the full moon. So when fishing during a full moon, try using soft crab imitations for your bait. This will entice stripers out of their hiding places to look for the crabs.

4. Find dolphins when fishing for tuna

If you are fishing for tuna, particularly yellowfin, the best way to spot them is to look for dolphins. Tuna school with them, so if you see dolphins you can bet that tuna won’t be far away. Just be sure to be careful that you don’t land a dolphin by accident since they are a protected species and must be treated with respect.

5. Burn, don’t cut

If you find that you can’t cut your line, try burning through it instead. You will find it is much easier to do and avoid being cut if your scissors slip.

6. Fish near a reef.

If you haven’t tried it before, fish near a reef. You will be surprised at the number of large fish that are feeding on smaller fish that live on a reef.

7. Raise your chances with a Circle Hook

If you would like to raise your hook up quota, opt for a circle hook. They will increase your catches due to their make up. And you will find removing the hook easier as it will not stick in the fish gut.

8. Find your sea legs

If you find that you are suffering from sea sickness try watching the horizon. It may sound silly but try to stay on deck if you can. Staying downwind of fumes is also advisable as they can make you feel worse.

9. Anchor trouble

If you discover that you cannot raise your anchor after dropping, use a float attached to it. By noting when the tide turns you should be able to free the anchor and set sail once again.

10. Find the fish in order to fish successfully

If you thought that you should be catching your live bait first and then moving away from the reef to catch more fish, think again. If you stay near the live bait, you increase your chances of catching the larger fish that are feeding on them.