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Using Shoulder Seasons to Book the Best-Priced Holiday

 

Perfect in shoulder season - less crowds!

Perfect in shoulder season – less crowds!

Like a delectable chocolate treat, shoulder season is so sweet. Sandwiched between the painfully high prices and overwhelming crowds of the high season, and the often miserable weather of low season. Shoulder season is the perfect time to travel. Typically, hotel rooms are cheap, crowds are thin, and the weather is mild. You’ll notice a warmer welcome, too, when you travel off-peak. Locals, who may grow weary of crowds in peak season, have time to relax in shoulder season. For instance, an afternoon in early May is an ideal time to linger at an outdoor café in Rome and people-watch, before the summer tourists descend.

No significant shoulder seasons fall within January, February, July, and August, but prices drop immediately after the holidays in January.

But shoulder season for Paris doesn’t fall on the same dates as shoulder season for Tokyo. So here’s a shoulder season calendar for some of our favourite destinations for easy reference:

January

Mid: North Africa. The Christmas travel crowds are gone and the weather is warm.

March

Early: Hawaii

The big waves have subsided, along with the winter beachgoers; resorts are also bringing down rates. Through May

Early: Rio de Janeiro

Carnival has come and gone, which means hotel rooms are easier to find and less expensive (by as much as 60 percent).

Mid: Ireland

It’s warming up and wildflowers are beginning to bloom; a perfect time for exploring the countryside. Through April

India: Hotel rooms and airfares are lower if you can locate these between celebrated holidays.

April

Early: North American Rockies and European Alps

Late-season skiing is still excellent in high-altitude destinations like Whistler, British Columbia; Vail, Steamboat, and the Arapahoe Basin, all in Colorado; and Tignes, France.

Early: Australian Outback

With average temperatures now cooling to between 80 and 86 degrees, you can visit Ayers Rock without risking heatstroke. Through May

Mid: European Cities

Western Europe. Rome, Barcelona, Paris, and London will still be cool and you’ll have your chance of rain, for sure, but the crowds are thin and prices go way down. Outdoor café culture is picking up, but the summer crowds won’t arrive until early June. Get here before they do.

Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Room prices fall as much as 30 percent after Easter, and hurricane season is still weeks away. Through early June

May

Early: Japan

Peak hotel rates have come down after last month’s cherry blossom celebrations, and the humidity has yet to kick in.

Mid: Mediterranean Cruising

The weather’s warming, but prices remain as much as 20 percent lower than in the summer high season.

Mid: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Airfares from the States are at their lowest, and in Australia’s north, days are full of sunshine. Through August

June

Early: Thailand

April and May are sweltering, but the rains cool things off in June. The tourist crowds won’t arrive until next month. Through June

Early

Baja California Temperatures have yet to soar, but resorts are offering bargains in anticipation of the hot months to come.

July

Early: Northern Caribbean. (But avoid hurricane areas.)

September

Early: Hawaii

Room rates and airfares drop after Labor Day. Through September

Early: Montana

Days continue to be sunny and dry, and dude ranches are offering discounted fall rates. Through September

Early: South Africa

It’s early spring in South Africa, and prices are low on game drives. You’ll also find foliage is less dense making it easier to spot the “Big Five”.

Prices at safari lodges are lower and the foliage less dense, making it easy to spot the Big Five. Through early October

October

Early: Mediterranean Resorts

Southern Europe. The weather has turned chilly up north, but around the Mediterranean, you’ll usually still find warm temperatures… and good travel deals.

Rates have started to drop, but you’ll still find ample sun on islands such as Crete, Ibiza, and Sicily.

Early: Dubai

Days are cooler, and camel-racing season has begun. Hotels, meanwhile, are enticing travelers with bargains. Early September through October

Mid: Vancouver Island, Canada

Room prices have dropped by nearly half, and it’s still warm enough to enjoy wine-tasting at the island’s many vineyards. Through November

November

Early: Tahiti, Fiji, and the South Pacific

The water is crystal clear before cyclone season, making it a great time for diving and snorkelling. Christmas is high season in these warm destinations. Try to get your beach time in before the rush.

Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Before the holiday rush, beaches are empty and it’s easy to find hotel deals. Through mid-December

December

Early: North American Rockies and European Alps

The snow has returned, but the winter season is just beginning. Late November through mid-December

Early: Costa Rica

After months of rain, the clouds are thinning. Through mid-December

Let us know your shoulder season travel tips?

Happy Travels

Julie


 


 

 

 

Finding Babysitters When You’re on the Road

Finding babysitters when you’re travelling presents unique challenges, whether you’re a parent who just needs a night out or you’re looking to find a babysitter on a regular basis. You need to find a childcare provider for your little one, but you have to do so in an unknown community. When you don’t know what resources are available to you or which businesses and people are worthy of your trust, how do you even begin to search for a quality childcare provider?

A good starting point is to check with your hotel when you make your reservation to see if they offer child minding services or can provide you with a list of recommended babysitters. Always ask about what types of pre-screening the hotel has in place for babysitters to qualify to be on their recommended list. Allow time when you arrive to meet with the candidate/s so you can assess personally their suitability for your childcare requirements – gut feel always plays an important part in these decisions, make sure you trust yours!

Do some on-line research, there are various babysitter sites available covering many destinations around the world that allow you to search their databases, advertise a position and view profiles of potential candidates.  If you have a selection of candidates before you depart, conducting interviews via Skype will allow you a good insight into the best match for your family’s requirements. This could be a good way to introduce your child to the sitter so they are familiar with their face and voice so meeting them in person won’t feel like they are strangers.

You can also check out local parent bloggers, family related companies/services/magazines and reach out to them on Twitter or Facebook for a local recommendation

Check your destination’s local phone book for a babysitting agency or child care service before you leave on your trip. If visiting friends or family, use word of mouth and ask if they know someone suitable or can refer you to a reputable agency. If in a more remote location, try contacting the local playgroup, pre-school or primary school and ask if they have any staff that offer babysitting services or can recommend any local sitters.

Five Questions You Should Ask At A Babysitter Interview

To ensure you hire the best possible candidate for your child, it’s helpful to be prepared. Here’s a list of five questions you should ask at a babysitter interview.

  1. 1.       Ask what experience your babysitter has had and whether she has any experience with a child in the same age group as yours.
  2. 2.       Ask for references that include past babysitting jobs that a candidate has had.
  3. 3.       Find out your babysitter’s schedule and availability, making sure it coincides with your needs.
  4. 4.       Find out if your babysitter has had any first aid training and is familiar with what to do in case of an emergency involving your child.
  5. 5.       Ask what type of philosophy your babysitter has in taking care of children and that you are comfortable this will work with your child.

Above all else, whichever way you locate your babysitter, allow plenty of time beforehand in your selection process so you are comfortable with your choice and can actually relax while you are away from your child. Perhaps schedule a short visit before your main outing to allow your child to meet and start building some trust with the sitter. This will also give you an insight into how they interact with each other and a greater level of comfort when you are away for a longer period of time.

The final and most important step – Go out and have a good time!

Happy Travels

Julie Warner

http://www.juliewarnertravelplans.com

Travel Sickness Tips

If you have a child or you yourself suffer with motion sickness, there is always a little trepidation when planning any travel knowing you will have to deal with this.

Here are a few ideas to help manage this on your next journey.

So exactly what is travel sickness and what are the signs your kids are suffering from this sickness?

Motion Sickness is a condition in which there is a disagreement between a person’s visual and perceived movement. E.g. what your body senses is different to what your eyes see. Dizziness, fatigue and nausea are the most common symptoms of motion sickness

Motion sickness in children is common. Whilst not all kids will suffer from motion sickness or travel sickness, it’s best to be prepared. If your children are displaying signs of travel sickness, consider our tips for travelling in the car (or by other means of transport).

The best option is motion sickness prevention for children.

Try some of these tips on your next journey:

* Ensure children are seated in the car high enough to view the road and encourage them to look ahead on the really windy bits. If old enough, perhaps consider seating the sufferer in the front. Reading or looking down at a game screen really is bad news if they are prone to travel sickness.

In a plane, perhaps avoid the window seat. Although the scenery is not quite the same as in car, looking out into the sky can have the same effect.

* Have a supply of refreshing mints that they can suck on. This not only seems to relieve the nausea but also provides a distraction.

* Having small sips of cold water can sometimes also help ease the suffering.

* Keep a small spray bottle of water with a few drops of tea tree oil in the car and a quick, refreshing spritz of this can help revitalize a child not feeling 100%.

* Keep children’s diets as healthy as possible prior to travelling. Lighter, fresh healthy food has less of an impact on sensitive tummies.

* Break regularly, give your kids the opportunity to get out of the car, stretch their legs and visit the toilet. All of this will help them to feel normal again, even if only for a few minutes.

* It’s also import to carry the essential items in case an accident does occur. An empty ice-cream container is the perfect item to keep in the car, or really any container of a reasonable size. You don’t want anything too big, taking up too much room.

If on a plane there is usually paper bags provided. Perhaps pack some large zip lock bags in your hand luggage as these make a sturdy alternative and can be closed securely to dispose and lock in the smells.

* Another thing you can do for motion sickness in children, more for comfort’s sake than anything else is have a little hygiene pack, wipes, sanitary bags etc, things to help clean up little accidents, or help refresh your kids and help them to feel better.

* If you’re travelling by car to a holiday destination you are likely to have clothes with you, however they may be difficult to get to if packed at the bottom of the boot. If you are anticipating that your kids will suffer from travel sickness then pack a day bag that is easy to access and fill it with changes in clothing, face washers, wipes, a hair brush, all those things that will help your kids to feel refreshed when they have previously been feeling ill.

* When planning your travel, if possible consider which route you are going to take. It’s best to stick with main roads that are straight, not windy if there is a choice. Even if it takes you a little longer to get to your destination, it may be worth it to avoid sick kids.

* You can actually purchase medication to assist in dealing with travel sickness. However you will need to investigate this prior to your journey and ensure you have something age appropriate. Most medications are only designed to help prevent travel sickness not fix it once it is already in motion and you need to be wary of possible side effects.

* You can also purchase acupressure wristbands such PSI Motion Sickness Wristbands which are a great Drug Free Option. These are fully adjustable bands that use acupressure to prevent and relieve motion sickness. Just place one on each wrist (fits up to an 8½” wrist) before travel.

* You could also consider copper bracelets to try and prevent it. This is a great alternative for those wanting to avoid medications, or for kids who are a little reluctant to take them.

Hopefully these tips help make your next journey a little easier.

Happy Travels

Julie Warner

Planning a Road Trip – with Kids!

Gone are the days of when we could pack in five minutes ready to set off on a car trip across the state with not a care in the world. Just hearing those words “road trip with kids” is enough to make many parents break out in a cold sweat. To some parents, travelling in a car with the kids would be their worst nightmare! But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The key to success with road trips is all in the planning. The more thought you have put in before you drive out the garage, the less stressful the drive should be. Here are some helpful travel tips on planning for a car trip with children.

1. Prepare Your Vehicle

Have your car serviced a couple of weeks prior and check that your Road Side Assistance membership is current and that you have your card with you(just in case!).

 2. Consider  traffic conditions for planning departure times
Consider the peak hours of Friday night or long weekend traffic  and work your departure time around these.  If leaving work early on a weeknight is not possible then consider going after dinner when the kids are bathed and ready for sleep in the car. Before heading off, check for up to date traffic alerts from your local roads authority. These sites are great for highlighting road works, traffic accidents, road closures, time taken on freeways, cameras etc.

Vic Roads

RTA NSW

Transport SA

Road Report Northern Territory

Main Roads Western Australia

Queensland Dept of Main Roads

3. Plan driving for kids sleep time
If possible, this is a great way of passing more time in the car without you having to hear the dreaded words “are we there yet?” On long journeys, try to break the journey into two-three hour blocks with scheduled meal and play breaks slotted around younger kids sleep times

4. Research Rest Stops
Knowing in advance where playgrounds, parks, interesting sites are along the way allows the journey to be planned around these.  Having a break every couple of hours helps children cope with a long drive.  Even just 10 minutes running around a park or taking in the view of something interesting can make the time spent in the care more bearable. Fast food restaurants with playgrounds are also a great option to stop at, as they have playgrounds, refreshments and toilets all in one (especially if it’s raining)!

5. Break your journey up by staying overnight?
This is a great way of starting your holiday early and much better than driving for 10+ hours straight! Research places along the way that would make a great overnight stop.  Look for: farms or interesting museums, scenic towns, beaches (this is always a great start to any holiday) or wineries with lots of grass for the kids to run around in etc.

6. Packing food and drinks for your car trip

Being prepared with snacks for the car really will keep your sanity intact on any road trip. Keep food and drinks up front with you or at least in reaching distance. There is nothing worse on a car trip than screaming hungry kids when you cannot pull over to grab something from the boot!

Consider packing “special” snack boxes for each child (especially the younger ones) as they love having their own boxes of goodies and will keep them amused for quite some time.  Lunch boxes with separate sections are useful, or ziplock bags are useful.  Some good snack choices could be: dried fruit, actual fruit, pieces of cheese (stored in a cool bag),crackers/biscuits, mini muffins, muesli/fruit bars, carrot and celery sticks, little treats – sweets, chips or lollypops (great as it takes them ages to suck on them which will ensure you peace and quiet for at least 5 mins!)

Pack plenty of drinks (water preferably for the car, as it makes less mess and keeps sugar levels down!), but perhaps at rest stops have soft drink or juice poppers for a treat or reward for good behaviour in the car.

I hope that thinking about these things in advance, will help ease the stress of going on car trips with your children.

Happy Travels

Julie Warner

Travel Personalities

We all have experienced frustration and arguments with a loved one whilst travelling I’m sure. Perhaps if we were to discover what our travel personalities are before the planning stage of a holiday we may well be able to mitigate potential risky situations whilst away and minimise holiday conflict.
Here are a few travel personalities I have come up with:
* Planning – The Planner vs. the Free Spirit. Often, one of you is the planner. The other leaves the planner at work and hopes the vacation doesn’t turn into disaster.
Planners – remember to leave time for just sitting in a cafe, resting or exploring. Free Spirits–be tolerant, and try to get a day in for yourself where nothing is planned.
* Economics – The Frugal Traveler vs. The Splurge Monster Lots of folks try to save every last dollar. Whilst others see something that sounds mighty good and begs to go there–for a huge hit in the wallet. Splurges can be the centerpiece of a holiday. You might talk about that meal/activity for years. Of course, it could cause your financial ruin as well.
* The Trophy Traveller v the Explorer Trophy Travelers are people who go places because other people tell them to. The explorer wants to discover new places the guidebooks ignore.
There are obvious rewards to exploring the unknown and often these turn out to be trip highlights. Equally, the droves flock to all the popular guidebook destinations for good reason usually – they are worthy of visiting. Best to try a combination of both on any trip is my advice – keeps everyone happy!

The Bottom Line, I hope this gives you an insight into where you might find potential conflicts in your holiday plans so you can work on these areas before you leave home.

Do you have a different travel personality to these? Let us know of any others you have come across?

Happy Travels
Julie

Weird Buildings of the World – The Dancing House – Prague, Czech Republic

The beautiful city of Prague is home to what is known as the dancing house. It is a large house designed by a well-known Californian architect. The house is created to look as if it is dancing, making it curved and large at the bottom, small in the center and then curved outward at the top. It looks more like it was hit on both sides by an asteroid.

The Dancing House occupies a fine position by the Vltava River. This stunning building, constructed between 1992-1996, is somewhat of a rarity in Prague; a modern, glass building surrounded by historic architecture.

The Dancing House has daring, curvy outlines, which led its architects, Vlado Milunc and the American Frank O Gehry, to initially name it the “Astaire & Rogers Building”, after the legendary dance duo.

The top floor of The Dancing House is home to one of the city’s leading restaurants, Celeste Restaurant. Diners can enjoy delightful cuisine and magnificent views over the river and up to Prague Castle.

Have you been to see The Dancing House? Let us know of any other weird buildings you have come across in your travels?

Happy Travels

Julie

Weird Buildings of the World – The Basket, Newark, Ohio

Longaberger is synonymous with making beautiful hand woven baskets. Their most famous product was certainly the inspiration for the seven story headquarters, they had built nearly ten years ago. The building is mainly in the shape of giant yellow basket, complete with 150-ton handles. It’s certainly a sight to behold!

Let us know any other “Weird” buildings you have come across on your travels?

Happy Travels

Julie

Weird Buildings of the World – iPad,Dubai

Living in this modern society with easy access to all sorts of modern technologies, creative designers are no longer finding it tough to give shapes and stretch structures according to their choices. With more options available to them, there is always a chance of exploring the best creative alternatives. Here is one example of these outrageous modern buildings of the world.

iPad – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

What better way to celebrate the latest craze in electronic entertainment than to construct a building and name it the ‘I pad’. With I pods gaining huge popularity within the gadget friendly generations,Dubai’s I pod shaped tower is amongst the other insanely large buildings that had earned huge appreciation worldwide.

Have you visited any “Weird” buildings?

Happy Travels

Julie

CouchSurfing

Couch surfing isn’t just a means of accommodation; it is an entirely new way to travel. You get to see the world through local residents, not hotel concierges or guidebooks. If the next big wave of innovation transforming how we travel is as reported social media… and if you truly believe that people from around the world can share fun, friendship and trust, then this is a great (and cheaper) alternative to hotels.

“Couchsurfing” refers to the practice of moving from one friend’s house to another, sleeping in whatever spare space is available, floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on to the next house.  www.couchsurfing.org is an international non-profit network of millions, that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries around the world. Free to register, members have the option of providing information and pictures of themselves and of the sleeping accommodation they offer, if any. Members that are looking for accommodation can search for hosts using several parameters such as age, location, gender, and activity level.The duration, nature, and terms of the guest’s stay are generally worked out in advance, with no monetary exchange taking place except for compensation of expenses (e.g. food). There are strict security and screening measures in place, so it is quite safe.

CouchSurfing is blazing the trail towards a better, friendlier world where people who are different from one another can find their similarities.

Would you consider www.couchsurfing.org for your next trip?

Happy travels

Julie

How To Save For Your Holiday

With rising cost in almost every aspect of our day to day living expenses and the economy on a never ending downward spiral, people feel as though they will never be able to afford the luxury of a holiday. The constant financial stresses of these increasing costs, actually raise strong arguments for holidays being needed now more than ever.

While holiday costs can easily get out of control some careful planning before and during your trip will help make your holiday affordable and just as enjoyable.

If you have experience travelling in the past, you should have an idea of your spending habits and travel style. This will allow you to put together a rough budget of expenses for the number of days away and you can plan on saving some money each month in preparation. Saving money each month can be achieved by following these few simple guidelines.

·         List for a few weeks everything that you spend, you will be amazed at where your money is going,

·         Set up a separate bank account for your holiday and have a set amount of money put in there each month. If saving over a long period, invest chunks into higher yield term deposits,

·         Any work bonuses, tax refunds or money wind falls of any kind, put them  straight into your holiday account – you hadn’t budgeted on these so you don’t need them for day to day living,

·         Use credit cards to your advantage but pay off the balance in full at the end of each month,

·         Cut your daily expenses such as, coffee, lunches, cigarettes, alcohol. Make your own coffee (so many of us have coffee machines at home – use them!), bring your own lunches – make extra for dinner and take left-overs or spend a few minutes making a sandwich or salad , entertain at home (costs much lower than eating  and drinking out). Over a 48-week working year this really adds up!,

·         Don’t buy the latest season’s clothes and shoes as soon as they come out, wait a few weeks and the stores will be having sales and you can save at least 30%,

·         Ask yourself constantly, “Do I really need this”? Perhaps even wait a day or so and re-visit the item you though you really had to have and relate the cost to some part of your trip – that could be another night of accommodation, a day whale watching, a nice meal out or for shopping while away,

·         Sell any unwanted/unused items laying around and put money into your holiday savings account,

·         Give your services or skills as a gift instead of buying expensive presents,

·         Get your whole family or travel group on board so you help each other save and

·         Check regularly the balance of your travel saving account – you will be inspired to see how quickly it grows!

With a little bit of careful planning and creative thinking your next holiday could be even bigger and better with these imaginative ways to save up for that trip.

Happy Travels

Julie