Travel Tips and Stories

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Grand Canyon: 10 Things to Know Before You Go

The Grand Canyon is located in northwest Arizona and arguably the worlds most popular and natural tourist attraction. The massive Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and at its deepest point, is more than a mile from rim to river. Most of the Canyon lies within the Grand Canyon National Park and is managed by the National Park Service. It incorporates three geographically separated areas: the South Rim, the North Rim and the inner Canyon. As you plan your vacation to the Grand Canyon, be prepared for everything.

1. You must decide how you will get there. Will you drive across country as a family road trip or will you fly to save time and money? Taking in mind the rising gas prices across the nation, and decide which one will benefit you more, both physically and economically?

2. Self vs. Travel Agent. How much time do you have to properly research and plan a vacation? You must decide if you should find a travel agency to help plan out your vacation to the great wonders of the Grand Canyon. Travel agencies can save you both time and money, because planning the best vacations is what they do for a living.

3. Child friendly environments. Depending on the ages of your children, you need to know that your destination is suitable for children. With babies, find out if the hotel or resort where you will be staying offers cribs or childcare during your visit. Is a Grand Canyon vacation the right choice for your children?

4. Pets care. Many people enjoy taking their pets along with them on vacation. If you do, make sure your hotel or resort allows pets on the premises. Also be sure some of your destinations are pet friendly too so you aren't leaving your pet locked up in a room all day while you are out having the time of your life. If you decide not to bring your pet, find a pet sitting service or boarding facilities with a good reputation. Most animal hospitals offer boarding, but if yours does not, then ask your veterinarian for a referral to a reputable pet care provider.

5. Protect your home. A visit to the Grand Canyon averages four to seven days. Those are days that you will be away from your home. Talk with your neighbors and ask them if they can keep an eye on your house while you are gone, or ask a family member or friend to check in on your house every now and then. You want to prevent your home from being targeted by burglars.

6. Pack appropriate clothing, such as: a bandanna or a hat (for sun and weather protection), cut off pants for hiking, gloves, jacket, pants (heavy duty), rain coat or poncho, shoes (suitable for hiking), socks (cotton or wool for hiking), sweat shirt or sweater.

7. First Aid Precautions. Accidents happen, when they do, you can be prepared by keeping a personal first aid kit at hand. What you should take with you to meet an emergency situation depends on your family, where you are going and how long you will be staying. The minimum items to be considered would be: Antiseptic, Ace bandage, Band-aids, Burn ointment, Chap stick, First aid tape, Foot blister pads/powder, Gauze compresses, salt tablets, sharp knife and sun tan lotion.

8.Miscellaneous items. Compass, maps, water, ear plugs, eye wash, fire starter, blanket, flashlight (with new batteries), waterproof matches, paper/pencil, sewing kit, antibacterial soap, sun glasses, toilet paper, moist wipes.

9. Sun screen. SPF 15 or higher. Protect yourself and your family from sun burns.

10. Toiletries. Laundry bag, mirror, sleep wear, sanitary supplies, shaving articles, soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, wash cloth.

Never carry all of your credit cards with you or a large amount of cash. This can lead to excessive spending, theft or simply losing it. When traveling, your best bet would be travel checks or a travelers' debit card, that will replace funds if lost or stolen. Losing all your money or having your funds stolen can end a great vacation in a heart beat. You should prepare yourself for anything, even if it requires over packing, and don't forget to have a safe trip.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Whadya Bring Me? Souvenirs that Everyone Will Love

If you drive yourself or your family to your vacation destination, it's nice to stop in each state you cross through and pick up a little something with that particular state's namesake. Normally you can find an impressive selection of souvenirs near the borders of the states, at an Oasis, truck stops, or individual souvenir stores. Most of these stores have at least one clearance table where you can find some really great deals that everyone will love.

The most popular souvenirs are refrigerator magnets in the shape of the state or depicting the states persona. Coming in second would be shot glasses and ashtrays, whether you're a drinker, a smoker or not, these make cute little knickknacks. Key chains, stickers and miscellaneous art depicting the state symbol, bird or flower make nice gifts for kids or as back-ups in case you accidentally forget someone.

Miniature spoons, bells, and tea sets are a great gift and look nice on a display rack, often sold with a wide selection of state spoons. And who can walk away without buying at least one t-shirt or hat with the states name or logo on it?

Theme parks like Disney, Universal Orlando, Sea World, Great America, Indiana Beach and the like, normally have masses of retail stores with clothes, toys, hats and knickknacks that can only be purchased from them. Many also have outlets where you can buy personalized gifts, like a necklace with a persons name written on a single grain of rice (which is available at most theme parks,) or an air brushed T-shirt, personalized in any way as you wish.

Most theme parks have a souvenir photo shop where you can dress in a variety of costumes and pose for a photo in an old time western background. These professionals photographers do an excellent job in making your picture look as realistic and old fashioned as possible. You can pose as a cowboy or a bandit, a saloon gal or a proper lady and be pictured in an old time MOST WANTED poster. There are a variety of costumes, backgrounds, and posters available offering a choice of photo packages to choose from. These make great souvenirs or as personal gifts.

Medieval Times has a great selection of souvenirs that would appeal to all ages. From costumes, to costume jewelry to real swords and daggers, you'll find these all at Medieval Times. There are a number of packages you can buy to become knighted, where you will have a public ceremony with the King and Princess and have your picture taken with them. After the ceremony you will receive a certificate of your knighthood and a real sword to take home with you.

New York is popular for its "I love NY" logos. New York is a very proud state and you can find their name on almost anything, from T-shirts to pencils. The souvenir selection in New York is endless.

It's always nice to pick up a post card and mail it to a friend or family member. Many of these post cards have pictures of your vacation area that would add a nice touch, showing your friend or family member that you are thinking about them.

When ever selecting a souvenir for a family member or friend, keep in mind what would be a thoughtful gift for this person? For a child or an adult with an affinity for teddy bears, find a cute plush bear with the theme park or state logo. For the knickknack collector, shot glasses, bells, miniature tea sets or spoons would be a nice addition to their collection. Older children or teenagers would most likely enjoy a T-shirt or some other thoughtful gift. Wherever you go, make sure that your souvenirs include the state's name or logo, or if you go to a resort or theme park, make sure the gift bears its name.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Top 10 Vacations to Meet A Mate

Are you single and dreaming of a vacation where you may meet with other singles and have a fabulous time? Maybe you're looking for that perfect mate or maybe you just want to socialize with other singles and have a great time. Here are some beautiful and relaxing vacation spots to meet that special someone or just to make some new friends.

1. Winter Park, Colorado has everything you need for the perfect ski vacation. A sybaritic hot tub is available on a private deck, hot and ready to relax your muscles after a day of skiing. Social activities are in the evenings and will be catered to by a gourmet chef, where you will enjoy an array of mouth watering dishes and a warm social atmosphere.

2. Island of Crete, Greece. Experience the beauty of Crete by being a guest at a family owned and operated hotel on the beaches of Crete, providing wonderful accommodations strictly for the single traveler. Surrounded by a stunning countryside and high mountains, you will have the opportunity to enjoy your vacation with other singles along with the locals. Enjoy a wide range of activities to choose from at your leisure, taste some excellent Cretan cuisine.

3. British Virgin Islands. Sail on the gentle trade winds, dive into clear turquoise seas and relax on a luxury yacht. All cabins are spacious and air conditioned with onboard facilities. The yacht will travel between a host of incredible islands. You'll be able to scuba dive the best sites and take advantage of the yachts numerous onboard activities while you socialize and relax. Enjoy sunbathing, water skiing, snorkeling, and island excursions. Gourmet meals are served at your leisure.

4. Miami, Florida. Relax in this dynamic city and enjoy a crazy night out in South Beach, or a day exploring the artistic side of this booming city. The So Nesta Hotel and Suites Coconut Grove is within walking distance of lovely shops, restaurants and theaters. Have a cocktail at the Sailboat Bay Cafй, play a game of squash in one of the on-site courts or relax in a steam room. At night enjoy the hot clubs and elegant restaurants that dot the strip of South Beach.

5. Jamaica's stunning natural beauty and rich culture, has been a vacation favorite. This stunning island offers an array of choice resorts, hotels and guest houses. The Half Moon features 419 rooms, suites and villas a few steps from Montego Bay and the Half Moon Golf, Tennis & Beach Club is where you'll find the world's best golf course; tennis and squash courts; and two beautiful beaches with all the water sports you can imagine.

6. Hawaii. Hawaii creates a sense of relaxation and beauty. The Hilo Seaside Hotel offers newly renovated guest rooms, located close to the Volcano National Park. This Seaside Hotel is surrounded by Japanese and Hawaiian gardens on historic Banyan Drive. The Superior Garden rooms overlook the Japanese Rock Garden along with the Hawaiian Tropical Garden, making this a very peaceful and quiet hotel. You will be close to a variety of activities such as wind surfing and water skiing.

7. Mexico. In a rich and diverse country with scenery ranging from soft white sand beaches to rugged mountains to lush tropical rainforests, you'll find a rich cultural heritage, great food and drink, and modern resorts. Enjoy outdoor activities or lounging on a beach chair beneath a palm tree.

8. Cancun. Stay at the Golden Crown Paradise Spa resort and join all the fun-loving singles at the Welcome Mixer. Offering all the modern luxuries, water sports and shopping opportunities. Enjoy your day in Cancun with beaches of powdery white sand stretching along the beautiful turquoise water. By day the sun glistens and at night it awakens to a vibrant nightlife.

9. New York. Horseback riding, lunch & wine tasting, come enjoy a fun filled day in Upstate New York. Saddle up and ride through fields and woods, enjoying a true western experience. Tour guides will take you through acres of forest, across rolling hills, deep valleys and flowing rivers nestled in the country. Visit the Millbrook Vineyards and Winery for a picnic lunch on the 130-acre estate where you can take home a wine glass keepsake.

10. French Canada. Montreal has a great appeal to many who wish to fall in love. With the French and English cultures living side by side, the history, nightlife, unique way of life and its high level of safety. It's comparable to Europe, yet only a few hours away from most major U.S. cities.