Travel

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3 guaranteed ways to assuage airport stress

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When travelling is in your blood, withstanding public transport is vital to your enjoyment of your permanent holiday – but trying to negotiate an airport could still create some aneurysm-inducing stress.

Indeed, many people view airports as more stressful than moving house or an eight-hour working day, and it’s easy to see why.

Endless pat downs and questions from security staff, long queues to purgatorial departure lounges, the constant looming threat of terrorism, police with guns and staff haranguing you about 25ml of liquids in your bag – it’s not a fun ride.

Walk through an airport and you’ll be met by a parade of sourpusses, the type of people who look like they’ve been forced to watch Mortdecai a thousand times in a row. By the time they’ve boarded a plane, their faces will be fulminating like thunderstorms.

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But not everyone finds airports quite so stressful. Amidst the anger merchants there are some people with genuine smiles on their faces. These are the Zen people of the airport and they’ve got one secret reason for looking so satisfied – they came prepared.

Indeed, even a modicum of preparation can help you before your flight. So what tips would we recommend?

Parking in no time

Trying to park your car at the airport is a herculean task, akin to Waiting for Godot or some other existential nightmare – you reckon a space will show itself eventually, but it seems to take forever.

You’ll drive round and round in vain, before dumping your car miles from your terminal. It’s the precursor to numerous flightmares to come.

Which is why many larger airports allow you to reserve a space before you arrive. Others let third-party companies deal with their vehicle overflow. Edinburgh airport parking, for instance, allows you to drop your car at a parking site and ride directly to your terminal via a shuttle service. There’s little that’s more relaxing.

Know all the questions

Airport staff are full of questions, and they expect answers fast. Before you head to the airport, check all security protocols online and make sure you follow them to the letter. With security checks out of the way quickly, you’ll have more time to relax in the departure lounge.

Special departure

Bog-standard departure lounges are about as enjoyable as a lobotomy. So why not choose an upgrade? VIP departure lounges are available for a relatively cheap price – and they provide an excellent service.

In a VIP departure lounge, you’ll be treated to a huge number of extras, including complimentary drinks, free newspapers, comfortable seating and great food. You’ll never be bored in a departure lounge again!

3 Coolest Backpacks for Travelers

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One of the hassles of traveling is choosing the perfect bag to bring. Luggage bags and backpacks vary in make and sizes. Finding the right items to bring makes a big difference at the airport check-in and travel experience as a whole. Let’s start with the 3 coolest backpacks for travelers.

Urban 15.6” Hybrid Briefcase

This briefcase that can also be a backpack is the perfect product to organize your gadgets and keep your laptop protected. It has front-zippered pockets and a zip-down organizer section in front to easily get and keep your planner and whatever it is you need without having to remove everything else. Sells below $50, this backpack briefcase has padded straps that make it easier to carry.

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Energi+Backpack

Traveling with numerous gadgets? This backpack allows you to charge at least three devices and can also be attached to your luggage if you do not want to carry this on your back. It also has a special strap to keep your wires free from tangles and a pocket at the back for your head phone. As for airport security inspection, it is designed with a zipper that can be opened all the way down for easy view of your laptop and faster security check. Priced at $169.99, purchasing this backpack is a good investment for travelers.

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Cobra Squeeze Laptop Backpack

With comfort and style in mind, designers of this bag made sure the traveler can pack as much stuff as needed while keeping these things protected. This backpack has soft material in the inside and a water repellant material on the exterior that makes it an all-weather backpack. Moreover, it has a pocket specifically for your smartphone to ensure you can access it any time without misplacing it. The bag has an open mesh at the back to let air pass through even if carry this on your back. This sells at $195.

4 Tourist Spots You Need to See When in Quebec

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Quebec is a bustling metropolis, like Montreal. But what makes this place interesting is that it has a fascinating mixture of classiness and liveliness, as well as historical sights tucked away in several corners of the town. Most of all, Quebec has crafted a rich, vibrant culture that has become independent of its European motherland.

There are many reasons to travel to this part of Canada. Here are four of them to convince you just how worth it this place is.

Old Quebec

As soon as you set foot in Old Quebec, you will see why it has been awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s the world’s most photographed hotel, Chateau Frontenac, the open-air gallery, Rue du Tresor, te Dufferin Terrace, as well as centuries-old architectural wonders, historic places and more. You’ll also fall in love with the classic charm of the place, especially when you see horse-drawn carriages and street entertainers.

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Quartier Petit Champlain & Place Royale

Take a trip back in time by visiting Place Royale. Here, you will find Samuel de Champlain’s first abitation in 1608. While you’re here, you can check out Quartier Petit Champlain for some shopping. This place has cobblestone streets that lead to period buildings, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.

St. Lawrence River & Vieux-Port de Quebec

The St. Lawrence River is incredibly big, and it cuts across the Quebec area. It has also been a huge part of the metropolis’ economy for centuries ow. In the past, there were only harbor and trade activities. But now, there are countless cruise ships docking in the Vieux-Port de Quebec. There’s also a public market, cycling path and shows. All of which bring this side of Quebec to life. Nearby, there’s the Aquarium du Quebec and Promenade Samuel-De Champlain.

Montmorency Falls Park

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This is a natural phenomenon that shouldn’t be missed. The Montmorency Falls is at 83 meters high, which is higher than the Niagara Falls by 30 meters. This majestic body of water can be viewed from across the St. Lawrence River in Levis. But you should climb to Parc de la Chute-Montmorency to have the best vantage point. You can also take a gondola ride here, or hike one of the three Via ferrata circuits or get on a double zip line to cross the cove of the falls.

There is still so much to see in Quebec. But these four should be enough reason to make this city your next travel destination.

What You Need to Know about Home Exchange

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Home swapping became increasingly popular ever since Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black starred in the 2006 romantic-comedy film, The Holiday. Home swapping offers low-cost accommodation, a collaborative consumption movement that began in the 1950s. Today, there are tons of websites facilitating home exchange. If you are interested about joining a home exchange program, here are things to remember.

Be ready to open your doors to strangers.

Not everyone feels right about having strangers into their home, not to mention having them in charge of their private abode. If you are not comfortable about the idea, then home exchange is definitely not for you. On the other hand, be ready to have total strangers occupy your home for a definite period, while you occupy theirs.

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It’s a low-cost accommodation, but not entirely free.

To protect members’ privacy and interest, home exchange websites collect membership fees, which range from $3.25 to $12 a month. Some collect fees annually. However, there are a few sites, which are free. It is best to do a bit of research before signing up.

Get ready to screen partners and be screened.

Again, screening is done to protect the interests of members to prevent unnecessary trouble during the home swap. At registration, members need to complete membership forms and disclose personal information. Some sites require members to share their social media profile so others may get to know them better.

Lay down the house rules early on.

It helps to lay down your house rules as you complete your page at a home swap website. Make your expectations clear so future occupants know what and what not to do while staying at your place. For example, let them know if you want them to hire professional housekeeping or can opt DIY.

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Relax and enjoy your vacation at another’s home.

Home swapping is a relatively safe and effective way to arrange an accommodation. One site has been operating for more than 60 years without having issues like theft or vandalism. To be sure, keep valuables at a safe place during the swap and install monitoring equipment to ensure security of both the occupant and the property.

5 of the Most Haunting and Breathtaking Shipwreck Destinations Around the World

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The United Nations report that there are around three million shipwrecks dotting the ocean floor. These were most likely caused by abnormal weather conditions, poor craftsmanship or sea battles. A huge percentage of the total number of the wreckage are still unaccounted for, but there are remnants that have been spotted, photographed and visited by daring divers for many years.

If you’re one who’s looking for a different kind of adventure, these are some of the most hauntingly beautiful shipwrecks you can dive into.

The Lina

Believed to have sunk in 1914, The Lina was once a cargo ship transporting lumber between Italy and Croatia. But a devastating storm brought it to its early demise and sunk it down in the Adriatic near Cres Island. Since then, it has become a favorite diving spot in this part of the planet.

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The Russian Wreck

It remains unknown when this ship sank, but was discovered some time in 2003 in the Southern Red Sea. Initially, many believed it was a trawler, a boat that pulls a large net for catching fish, but experts say it’s a Cold War-era Russian spy ship.

The Mars

This was one of Europe’s first generation three-masted ships, which is now well-preserved. The Mars is a gorgeous Swedish warship that went down with its crew in 1564 after losing a naval battle against the Germans on the Baltic Sea.

The Umbria

This massive cargo ship was built by the Germans but was later taken over by the Italians. It was carrying loads of bombs and other weapons to the coast of East Africa when it sank after its captain intentionally sunk it upon learning that Mussolini announced Italy was going into war in World War II.

Dunnottar Castle

Experts believe that this 258-foot iron-hulled cargo ship was built in 1874 and was on its way to Australia from California to deliver a coal. Unfortunately, it hit a reef off the Hawaiian coast while travelling at full speed. Researchers have only discovered this wreck less than a decade ago.

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Wreck diving is one of the most exciting and adrenaline-pumping adventures you can do. So, if you’re looking for the thrill of a lifetime, then check out these shipwrecks and more.

Things to do in Berlin on a Small Budget Infographic

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Ever wanted to fly to Berlin and enjoy as lovely holiday on a tight budget? Look no further. This infographic brought to you by HouseTrip will inform you about all you need to know and show it’s all possible even on a limited budget.

HouseTrip Infographic Berlin
HouseTrip Infographic Berlin

The Perks of Using Prepaid Travel Cards

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As people begin to cultivate a traveling lifestyle, vendors begin to innovate their services in order to meet the needs of tourists. One of the necessities of traveling is money.

Travelers used to bring loads of cash or valuable goods with them to support their mobile lifestyle. Then came traveler checks, which are now extinct and obsolete. Then travelers find it safe and convenient to use credit and debit cards. Now, there is the so-called prepaid travel cards.

The Perks

It is relatively easy and fast to apply for a prepaid travel card. You can apply for one online, even customize its design, and then visit a nearby bank office to pick up your card.

There is usually no maintaining balance for this card. There is no charge if your balance goes zero, but you cannot transact more than your current balance. You need to deposit additional money to continue using the card.

Because prepaid travel cards are designed for travelers, they are usually accepted domestically and abroad, particularly Visa cards. Many shops and establishments in tourist destinations honor such cards.

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Banks generally do not charge anything on top of your purchases based on what merchants charge you. This means that you only pay for what you consumed and do not have to worry about fees and other expenses later on.

You can check your remaining balance online or via your mobile phone. You can deposit additional amount to increase your balance in order to make more purchases.

The Lows

Some prepaid travel cards do not have withdrawal feature. This means that you can only make payments to shops that honor your card, but you cannot withdraw money over the counter or even via ATMs. Whenever a transaction calls for cash, you cannot use your prepaid travel card.

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Any unused balance needs to be withdrawn over the counter. If you lose your card, report the incident right away to have your lost card blocked and request for a replacement. Any unused balance in the old card is transferred to the replacement card.

Prepaid travel cards have very short terms, usually only 12 months. To recover unused balance in expired cards, file for reimbursement or apply for a new card and have the balance transferred to the new card.

Most Awesome Things You Can Do in the French Riviera

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The French Riviera has been known the world over for its pebble beaches, million-dollar houses and luxury resorts where sun-lovers and socialites love to stay in. Besides, there is so much to see in this Mediterranean coastline on the southeastern part of France.

Here are some of the coolest things you should see and do when in the French Riviera:

Relax in La Colline du Chateau in Nice

Baie des Anges

No trip to Cote d’Azur is complete without stopping by Nice, which happens to be overlooking the pristine Mediterranean waters. For starters, climb up to La Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) where you will find panoramic views of the Old Town, Nice’s boardwalk, Baie des Anges and a few vibrant architectural structures. There’s also a verdant park here great for having a picnic or just relaxing under the sun.

Stroll around Roquebrune-Cap Martin

Roquebrune and Cap Martin are two contrasting places, making this trip an interesting one. The former is a quaint medieval hilltop village with narrow winding alleys and cobbled streets, surrounding the tower of a 10th-century castle, which is the oldest feudal castle in France. This formerly powerful castle was built to defend the village from the Saracens.

Meanwhile, Cap Martin was the rich people’s favorite watering hole, including aristocrats like Queen Victoria, Coco Chanel, Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier.

Take beautiful pictures in Eze

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Eze is a medieval village located in cliffs high above the sea, giving you incredible views of the place. Here, you will find beautiful stone buildings, winding streets and a magnificent Mediterranean backdrop, giving this part of France a postcard-ready appeal. So be sure to take a quality camera with you.

Try your luck at a casino in Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo is famous for its glamorous casinos. Here, you will experience what  luxury and comfort really feel like. Some of the things you can do here include visiting the Salle Garnier with frescoes all over. There are also flower gardens that lead to Monaco’s exclusive shopping area.

New Adventures to Add to Your Travel Bucket List

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A lot of people would spend hours searching for the best places to have an adventure. Then, they would collate a list of those places and make going to each and every destination their goal in life. But who doesn’t have a bucket list of all the adventurous things to try at least once in this lifetime, right?

Here are some more adventure spots you might want to add toyour bucket list:

Get on a backpacking trip to Machu Picchu

If you’re in for some real adventure, then backpacking your way to this Incan ruin in Peru is perfect for you. You’ll be climbing mountains and trekking towards this beautiful ancient place while being able to commune with nature along the way.

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Hike through Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a great hiking route. It has 16 interconnected lakes and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. You’ll walk through the scenic footbridges over clear waters, allowing you to be part of the captivating show that is performed by Mother Nature herself.

Trek 96 miles in Scotland

Scotland’s West Highland Way is the first long distance route in the country. Here, you’ll love taking pictures of beautiful scenery, including Ben Nevis, Trossachs National Park and Lock Lomdond. And at the end of your hike, you can take the steam train used in the movie “Harry Potter” to Mallaig.

Head out on a hike along the Glacier Point

To get to the Glacier Point from the Yosemite Valley, you’ll need to hike 3,200 feet aboveground, which should be a grueling climb. But the view on your way to the top will all be worth it.

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Climb one of the best summits in Utah

The Lone Peak Cirque in Utah is one for the most daring of travelers. It’s also considered one of the best summits in the Wasatch Range. If you’re more experienced, you can reach the top in one day. You can also camp at the base of the summit or the lower Jacob’s Ladder Trail.

Photos by: Dennis Jarvis and Bruce Tuten