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Travel Wisdom

What Should You Pack In Your Carry On Luggage?

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Packing can be a little, well, stressful. You don’t want to forget anything or leave any of those trip necessities behind, regardless of if you’re hiking a mountain or just laying on a beach for a few weeks. It’s not just your checked luggage that needs to be packed correctly, though. Your carry on luggage is just as important. So, how can you pack smart? If you’re not sure, here are some of the things you should put in your carry on.

Important Documents

Let’s start with the basics. Your carry on luggage needs to have all of the absolute essentials. It should be filled with all of the things that you need in order to get through your flight in ease. That includes important documents, like your passport, driver’s licence, important phone numbers, hotel reservations, taxi numbers, and so on. That way, whatever happens, you’ll have all the information you need on hand. To keep it all organized, put everything into a passport wallet or a folder. You can simply slip it into your carry on luggage!

The Must-Haves

There are other essentials that you’ll need to keep with you. For instance, if you wear contacts, you may want to take a small amount of solution or comfort drops with you. You may also want to bring along things that you may need to use during the flight. Think about things like a hairbrush, hand lotion, chapstick, deodorant, baby wipes, and so on. These will help you feel fresh – even during a long flight.

Valuable Items

In order to travel successfully, you’ll need to think ahead. What would you be devastated if you lost? Don’t check those items! While airlines losing luggage is rare, it can happen. It is best not to risk losing something you can never get back. Any sentimental items or valuables like jewellery should be kept with you. In addition, your wallet and all of your money should also be on your person. So, instead of spending the flight worrying, pack them in your carry on. It will make your trip much less stressful.

Electronics

Just like valuable items, you should probably pack electronic devices in your carry on. You don’t want to risk them getting lost or damaged during transport. Things like tablets, laptops, smart phones, and iPods can be taken on the flight with you. However, extra laptop batteries may not be able to travel on the flight with you. If you’re not sure, check the airlines policies before you pack. This will ensure that your items are exactly where they need to be.

In Flight Entertainment

The only other things that should be in your carry on luggage are things that you will actually need for the flight. Items like portable DVD players, music devices, books, magazines, and so on should be kept with you. That way, if you’re bored on the airplane you have something that can keep you occupied. Really put some thought into what you’ll want to do while on the flight. That way, you can determine how much to take with you.

Packing your carry on luggage doesn’t have to be complicated. The most important thing is to focus on the essentials. Ask yourself: What do I need to travel comfortably? Once you figure that out, packing will be a cinch!

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Top Hotels in Europe

From the sun drenched islands of the Cyclades to the far reaches of Scandinavia, Europe has some amazing hotels to make your stay in your chosen location an unforgettable one.

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Sweden’s Ice Hotel

Apart from the obvious novelty factor of staying in the original Ice Hotel, this accommodation makes for an unforgettable experience. The hallway will dazzle you with its ice chandeliers, and the ornate art sculptures in the Art Suites and subdued lighting creates an unbeatable ambiance throughout the hotel. And the novelty factor is further increased when you realize that your room is only a year old at most. Sixty plus rooms are made each year and is open from mid-December to mid-April before the whole thing goes back from whence it came – the River Torne. And, of course, you can clink ice glasses in the Ice Bar while enjoying cocktails. Don’t forget to take a look up at the night sky and catch a glimpse of the magnificent Northern Lights.

The Storfjord Hotel Norway

Thirty kilometres east of Alesund, the luxury Storfjord hotel affords magnificent views looking over the Storfjord and Sunnmore Alps, and is ideal for honeymoons or other romantic occasions. Comfortable spacious bedrooms furnished with traditional Norwegian furnishings along with mesmerising views and, of course, world class cuisine in the gourmet restaurant are just some factors which make this boutique hotel so special. The surroundings really are idyllic, set as it is amidst its own 6 acres of private grounds, which in turn is surrounded by countless acres of forests in addition to a beautiful lake which serves to heighten the drama of this beautiful location. Incidentally, Storfjord can reach surprisingly high temperatures more readily associated with the Mediterranean during the summer months.

The Tsitouras Collection Hotel

The beautiful and dramatic landscape of the Mediterranean and truly spectacular sunsets are just some of the reasons why this hotel is so special. The owner’s private art collection adorns the hotel adding to the sense that you are somewhere special when you stay in the Tsitouras Collection Hotel. Famed not only for its beautiful location and views, the hotel also enjoys the best hospitality in Santorini according to many reviews, and its white washed walls and complimentary cocktails make it an ideal place to relax. An authentic atmosphere that doesn’t compromise on luxury, along with a fresh water swimming pool and pool bar, an a la carte restaurant, free parking, and many other features makes the Tsitouras Collection Hotel an ideal place to stay and enjoy a sample of the beautiful island of Santorini. Just remember to ensure you have appropriate holiday insurance in Europe for complete peace of mind.

The Mandarin Oriental in Prague

This magnificent hotel situated near Prague Castle is built on a former monastery amidst the cobbled streets of Mala Strana, making it a perfect base to explore this beautiful old city which is within easy walking distance. Its 99 rooms and suites are decorated in a contemporary fashion while retaining the buildings historical roots. Twenty of these 99 rooms are in fact spacious suits replete with elegantly designed historical details. While relaxing in your room you can enjoy excellent views of the cobbled streets down below or of the private garden, or of the close by castle. Dining options range from modern Czech to Asian specialities, while specialist beers and cocktails are on offer to quench your thirst after a day’s sightseeing. The spa is the ideal place to recharge those batteries in the vitality pool and relaxation lounge. Many visitors find the hotel comes into its own during the winter months. When it’s snowing outside, deep baths, underfloor heating and thick feather duvets are all you need.

Square Nine Hotel in Belgrade

Situated in the vibrant Dorco area of the city, Square Nine is very close to the town centre and the city’s attractions. It also overlooks one of the city’s most picturesque squares. European cuisine can be enjoyed in the restaurants, while during the hot nights of summer you can move to the terrace alfresco style or enjoy the theatre. This luxury 5 star hotel affords great opportunities for a complete unwind by means of its spa and wellness centre which comes complete with a heated indoor swimming pool all decked out in sleek design. Stylish and unique furniture adorn the rooms as linen wallpapers do the walls. Treca de Paris beds and gorgeous limestone bathrooms give you a taste of luxury while relaxing in your hotel room. Square Nine is the perfect base from which to explore the city.

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When West Meets East

When West Meets East: Our Roadtrip Through Portugal, Spain and Morocco
Portugal’s Algarve has become something of a summer playground for our family, so frequently have we visited. Although we didn’t want to miss out on our annual pilgrimage to the western Algarve, we decide we wanted a bit more adventure this time round.

So, we combined a visit to our favourite little fishing village – Alvor – with two places that have been on our bucket list for ages, Seville and Morocco.

On familiar turf

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Flying into the Algarve always feels almost like coming home, as the plane doors open and the warm air embraces you. It takes around 40 minutes to drive west from the airport at Faro to Alvor, which is far enough off the tourist trail to still feel like an authentic fishing village, yet with a myriad of restaurants and bars to eat out in.

Our first stop was the sprawling beach, which shelves – sometimes gently, sometimes steeply depending on the weather – into the Atlantic. Here, white sands are backed by wide dunes. You can walk towards Vau to explore little coves and caves. If you’re travelling with your family though, you might want to avoid the stretch nearest the estuary walls as it’s an unofficial nudist beach.

In the busy tourist season, you can get away from the maddening crowds by walking onto the newly built wooden walkways behind the sand dunes, turning left as you leave the big beach behind and walking as far as you can go. Here, you’ll find a narrower beach on the estuary side, which tends to only be visited by a few locals.

The conditions here are perfect for beginners learning to kitesurf, and we watch as the more experienced amongst them whizz across the top of the little waves, working with the sea and the wind to turn where they want to go.

At night, the smell of fish on the charcoal grills at the harbour side restaurants entice our taste buds. The restaurant owners here will show you the catch of the day before cooking it for you as you watch. We shared a huge sea bass, washing it down with crisp white Planalto from the Douro Valley.

Onto Seville

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From Alvor to Seville, where we arranged to drop off our hire car, it’s around a two-and-a-half hour journey. While we road-tripped on a previous holiday around the coast of Spain, visiting Girona, Murcia, and Andalucia, we didn’t make it as far as Seville.

Our last visit to Andalucia involved finding a hideaway in the hills, where we took long walks in the orange groves where shepherds herded their goats, so Andalucia’s capital is a world away with its winding streets and vibrant culinary scene.

We did visit the Plaza de Toros – although we’re not alone in finding the idea of a bullfight uncomfortable, the behind the scenes tour of the bullring is fascinating. We’re shown the small chapel where the toreros pray before a fight, the emergency room in case they’re injured, and we learn bulls aren’t really attracted to red – they only see in black and white, so it’s the movement they go towards, not the colour.

At night, we sampled Seville’s famous tapas bars, booking a tapas tour because we were only here for one night, we wanted to make sure the restaurants we went to were good.

The tour meets at 8pm, and they move from bar to bar, eating and drinking until 11pm as the guide takes you through the menu and helps you choose. Our favourite was the Vineria San Telmo, near the Barrio Santa Cruz district, where we dined on squid ink linguine, crispy fried prawns and goats cheese tart.

Into Africa

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As we left our hire car behind, we bussed it from Seville to Tarifa, where we got our ferry to Tangiers. Some ferries dock at a new out-of-town port that takes you an hour to get to Tangier, but ours took about 30 minutes, cost 30 euros, and dropped us where we wanted to be.

Tangier is divided into an old walled medina with a tangle of medieval alleyways and a new modern city. On arrival, we prepared for a bit of hassle – and we got what we expected, with three people saying they’ll be our guides, and following us when we said no. Just wanting to literally lose ourselves in the medina, we eventually shook them off.

On the recommendation of our riad hosts, we headed out to Le Nabab for dinner, and we were not disappointed. The staff met us in the main Medina square and took us to the restaurant in case we got lost. We dined on lamb and prune tagine, washed down with some rustic red. It’s been a whistle stop tour but, as dusk falls on the Medina, we’re already making plans to explore more of Morocco. I definitely want to try surfing in Essaouira sometime.

Katie is a newbie blogger from the UK with a serious case of wanderlust. Exploring Europe and Africa with her family has provided them with some unforgettable new experiences, new recipes and wonderful memories.

Travel Wisdom

How to Plan The Perfect Trip Itinerary

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We all dream of taking that perfect trip. You know, the one that makes you smile long after it’s over. For some of us, that may mean a trip to see the lights in Times Square. For others, that could be a week lounging around by the pool. Whatever you dream of, the good news is that you can make it a reality. Ready to find out how? Here are some tips to plan the perfect trip itinerary.

Start With The Destination

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose your ultimate vacation destination. This is easier said than done. Why? There are so many incredible places to visit. To start narrowing down your list, take out a blank sheet of paper and a map. Now, get brainstorming! What locations intrigue you? Where have you always wanted to go but haven’t quite made it to yet? Are there any spots that immediately jump out at you? Write them all down. Once you have done that, you can start to narrow down the list.

Think About What You Want to Do

Have you chosen the perfect place to visit? Great! Now it’s time to continue on with the planning process. That’s right – choosing your destination is only the first step. There is still more planning to do if you want your vacation to be memorable. For instance, are there certain things you want to do? If an afternoon at the spa sounds like your nightmare, you’ll need to start looking into local attractions. You can either do a web search or speak to a travel agent about your options. Look into historical monuments, museums, shopping areas, and of course, local hot spots. This will give you a better idea of how you want to fill your days.

Decide What You Can Afford

Budget is always important. While it may be tempting to splash out on the best of everything, chances are you will regret that decision once you return home! Don’t worry though – you can still make sure your trip is perfect…. even without going broke. The key is to focus on quality rather than quantity. Take some time to consider the things that you think will be the most memorable. You can go to a Gap store anywhere, but swimming with the dolphins is a unique experience that will last for longer than any sweater could! You can also start to narrow down the list you made of all those attractions. Decide on the things that are most important and go from there.

Get Organized

You’ve got your destination picked out and a list of things you really want to do. Now what? It is time to get organized. You will need to start booking the trip – and all of those unforgettable attractions. It is time to map out a rough trip itinerary. Are certain things only open on certain days? Then you’ll need to plan your itinerary accordingly. Create a rough plan for your vacation. A little organization can maximize your overall experience!

Are you ready to take the trip of your dreams? Then start making plans! Instead of putting it off indefinitely, look into your options. Before long, you’ll be enjoying some time away…. courtesy of your perfect trip itinerary.