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Summer Vacation

Planning A Summer Vacation During A Pandemic

Now that summer is officially here, many are trying to think of alternative ways to scratch their vacation itch without breaking Covid-19 health and safety restrictions. Luckily, many home rental and hotel services are still offering ways for you and your loved ones to travel this summer with updated guest policies to ensure everyone has a healthy and fun time. 

Home rental services specifically will be seeing a major influx in business within the next few months, and they may receive even more business then they’re used to, according to Sean Breuner who’s the CEO of AvantStay, a short-term home rental company. 

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“Usually we average about three to four days per stay and now that has increased dramatically. You might see four couples get together to work from home in Scottsdale for a month at a time… people looking for control versus going to a hotel. Generally, people are booking in two windows: they’re either looking to travel immediately or scoping out a trip for late summer,” he explained. 

Home-rentals also offer a change in quarantine scenery. As stated by Breuner, many adults who have been working from home for the past few months are using rental services to change up the spaces they live out their lockdown days in. 

Major hotel chains across America have also begun implementing new health and safety procedures to ensure every guest feels comfortable staying there. For example, Marriott International has adopted new hygiene technology that includes electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant for all rooms. Hyatt Hotels have hired “Hygiene Managers” for all of their locations to oversee proper disinfection protocols; Hilton Hotels are doing something similar and also employing a “CleanStay Room Seal” so that guests are guaranteed their rooms haven’t been touched since its cleaning. 

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There’s expected to be a major influx in road trips this year, as that genuinely is one of the safest ways to vacation in terms of Covid-19; especially if you’re driving an RV or trailer. 

“People are really embracing the road trip. We’re seeing a lot fewer people book island trips and flights… people can still get away to the lakes, the river, the countryside, and have that bigger space,” Jeff Hurst, the president of Vrbo, a summer rental company, said.

John Staff is the CEO of Getaway, which offers tiny home rentals that are located within driving distance of major cities in America, and in a recent interview he claimed that his company saw a 400% increase in bookings for this summer once president Trump officially banned travel to Europe. 

Obviously, the main concern with all of these options is cleanliness, health, and safety. Major home rental services like Vrbo, Getaway, Airbnb, etc. have all made their new disinfecting/cleaning procedures public online to ensure all guests know they’re walking into a covid-free space. If you’re planning to go the home rental route, call the owner regardless and ask them to take you through what their process is, remember, this is their property, so they likely are going to want the space to be just as clean as you do. 

You can do the same with any hotel you’re planning on staying at, or even campsite grounds if you’re deciding to do that as well. Regardless, make sure you’re prioritizing your health, as that’s what we all should be doing in general right now.

Aruba

Take A Virtual Vacation To Aruba While Quarantined

A tropical vacation to Aruba sounds perfect right about now. Thanks to the coronavirus, many of us won’t be traveling anytime soon, however, technology is allowing people all over the world to travel wherever they want without leaving their beds. Aruba is just one of many countries that is offering a multitude of virtual tourism attractions to keep everyone stuck at home a little more relaxed as we wait to be released from quarantine.

The Aruba Tourism Authority has created a number of ways for everyone to enjoy the culture and beauty of the island from the comfort of their own homes. On the official Aruba YouTube Page, a video titled “30 Minutes of Happiness from One Happy Island” is currently being viewed by thousands of individuals around the world as a way to relax and unwind.

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This half-hour video brings the tranquility of Aruba’s white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters right into your living room. Relaxing nature sounds play in the background as scenic drone shots of vast beach landscapes and colorful tropical rainforests paint your screen. The video was designed to give off the same effects as ASMR videos, which are created with the intent to relax anyone who views them.

Aruba’s Tourism Authority has also uploaded virtual tours of some of the island’s most popular tourist attractions to their Facebook page. One of their more popular examples is a video where a local Aruban Shanti guides you through one of Aruba’s magical Butterfly farms that contains some of the world’s most rare species of butterfly.

To continue on with the theme of relaxation that the “30 minutes of Happiness” video is exuding, the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino has created an “Island Vibes” playlist on Spotify for users who want to listen to the sounds of vacationing on a tropical island while they send out their emails for the day.

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Tired of eating pasta and chicken every day? Now, you can enjoy the fresh and delicious cuisine that comes from Aruba in your own home! The Aruba Tourism Authority has uploaded multiple food and cocktail recipes to their Instagram account. Their most popular post would be an at-home recipe for making pastechi, which is basically just a stuffed pastry that’s widely popular in Aruba.

Beyond that, the Divi and Tamarijn All Inclusive Resort in Aruba has uploaded the staple cocktail recipes for the drinks you would find at any resort on your vacation to the island. If you don’t drink alcohol, the resort has also provided a few mocktail recipes, so you can still feel your tropical vacation fantasy.

Finally, since the world is celebrating Earth Day this week, the Aruba Tourism Authority has uploaded a special video tour of the island of Dushi Tera. Within the video, you’ll hear an inspiring message delivered by 17 native Aruban voices, all between the ages of 9 and 90. The video not only emphasizes the beauty of the island and its natural resources, but also leaves viewers with a positive promise to future travelers, stating that the island will open its arms again soon, once it’s safe again, and it looks forward to seeing all of you very soon.

Airbnb Logo

What Does Being An Airbnb Host Really Entail?

Airbnb is one of the biggest unicorn companies taking over the world right now. Unicorn companies are any business that can be valued at over $1 billion, and it didn’t take long for Airbnb to reach that status. Now, there’s a whole slew of online property rental services that allow property owners to temporarily rent out their homes to individuals looking for a little getaway. However, Airbnb still remains the most lucrative out of all of them. 

Being an Airbnb host may not have ever seemed like a feasible idea to you before, but when you consider the benefits, it almost seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up on. Granted, you will need to ensure you have another place of residence to stay at while your property is being rented out, however, what you earn from Airbnb itself might be convincing enough to do so. 

Obviously every space is different, and will be valued according to specific qualities such as location, room numbers, amenities, and historical trends that local competition has priced itself at. Most first time Airbnb hosts use the startup Eliot & Me or any other rental pricing calculator to determine how much they should be charging per night to renters. 

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If you have access to any local real estate agents, don’t hesitate to ask them to appraise your property for rental pricing as well. Individuals in the real estate industry will know better than anyone what your home should be valued at, even for short-term renting. Airbnb customers can make anywhere between $2,000 – $10,000 after renting their properties out just once, depending on the duration of stay and cost per night.  

Airbnb prides itself on professionalism and keeping the renter/client relationship cordial. Individuals who rent out their homes are automatically paid exactly 24 hours after a guests check-in time. This is meant to ensure that neither party is scammed or has any major issues before a concrete money exchange is made. 

Many individuals who are privileged enough to rent out one of their properties multiple times in a given year can rely on Airbnb hosting as their primary source of income. However, it’s important to note that while this sounds like it may be an “easy” career path, as a host you need to understand that this is still a job, and you’re expected to run your “business” as a host efficiently, just like any other job. 

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So what are some of the responsibilities that come with being a host? First and foremost, you should respond rather promptly when an individual states their interest in renting out your property. Answer any questions clearly and concisely, remember, how you interact with each person who rents your property will be reflected in their online reviews afterwards, which future clients will see. 

When you actually lock in a rental for the future and it comes time for your new guests to arrive, make sure your property is clean and everything is set up as expected before their arrival. Any accommodations that you listed on your profile should be pre-prepared for use. Accuracy is the key when it comes to hosting, so make sure every room matches its picture and your personal belongings are out of sight. 

The pictures on your profile are arguably the most important part of your listing, as well as your ability to host. Obviously these photos will play a major role in your potential guests decision making process, so make sure they really showcase the essence of your property. You don’t have to live in a huge mansion to properly show off the pieces of your property that anyone would enjoy on a temporary stay. 

Honesty, professionalism, and promptness will get you far in any industry, and when it comes to renting out your own house, these factors couldn’t be more relevant. If you’re still unsure if being an Airbnb host is right for you, do some research, ask around and find people who have rented out properties for short-periods of time before. Even if it wasn’t through Airbnb, they’ll still have amazing insight into what it’s actually like to leave your home for a little while for financial gain. Talk to real estate agents and search up some chat forums on the topic, before you know it, you’ll be ready to host your first guests!

Woman Traveling Alone

Free Places To Stay Around The World

One of the only negatives that comes with travelling is often the cost of it all. Between transportation, hotel fees, food and drink costs, souvenirs, etc. going on a vacation has become nothing more than a fantasy for the average worker. However, what if one of the major expenses on the long list of things that require financial compensation, was no longer there. Finding a place to stay is often one of the most expensive aspects of going on a vacation, however, what if you didn’t have to pay anything? There are actually a multitude of places throughout the world that offer free temporary residency for any vacationer, you just have to be strategic about it all. 

For instance, Shakespeare and Company is a historic bookshop in Paris, France that offers free residency for writers, something they’ve done since its opening in 1951.  The bookstore offers residency through something they call the Tumbleweeds Program. This program allows writers to sleep in beds that are hidden away between the stores bookshelves. Instead of monetary compensation, guests must help out around the bookstore for a few hours every day, as well as write a one-page autobiography for the store to display; see what I mean by strategic.  

The Ace Hotel in New York City also offers a very similar residency program for creatives in which they let artists stay at their hotel for free every Sunday night, in exchange for a custom art piece for the hotel itself.  Additionally, they offer the same service for writers in a program they call “Dear Reader,” which also gives writers a free nights stay in exchange for an open letter for future guests to be put in their bedside tables. 

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The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China also offers an artist residency program, however, this one is more of a long-term commitment. Artists of all sorts can apply to the residency, and if accepted artists will be given the opportunity to meet other creatives, explore Shanghai for inspiration, and create art for the hotel that will stay behind in the form of the hotels virtual museum. Residents under this program can stay in the hotel up to six months and are also given a free continental breakfast. 

Beyond just artist residency, Italy has an annual event known as Barter Week which takes place towards the end of November. During this week, travelers from all around are able to come and stay in one of the thousands of bed and breakfasts located in the country. Online, you’ll find what each bed and breakfast will specifically require of you in exchange for your residency. These requirements can range from helping clean up, knitting, blogging, cooking, drawing, or even dancing! You just apply to the specific bed and breakfast you’re interested in and once accepted you’ll have a place to stay free of charge. 

The Appalachian Trail is 2,200 miles of pure landscape that extends from Georgia all the way up to Maine. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, there are about 250 back-country shelters throughout the entire trail that hikers can stay at for free. Each shelter is about five miles apart from the previous, and all are unique; some look like cabins, and some take on more of a tent aesthetic. 

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In Corfu, Greece, the Sunrock Backpackers Hostel offers a similar exchange to that of Barter Week in Italy. Travelers can spend one month at the hostel for free in exchange for work. Duties typically include greeting guests, cleaning rooms, working the bar, and helping with food preparation, and in exchange guests will receive free meals, accommodations, and the wonderful sights of Greece. 

The Mountaineering Club of Alaska offers seven huts throughout Alaska’s vast mountain ranges where members of the club can stay at anytime for free. These huts sit at different altitudes throughout the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains, which accommodates people at different stages of their climbs/hikes. The huts can typically house up to 8 people at once, and the only financial cost is an annual fee of $20 for being in the club itself; which is basically nothing when compared to how much a night at a hotel in Alaska would cost. 

Finally, the UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa in Trancoso, Brazil offers yet another artist residency program that gives artists a place to stay for up to a month. The only compensation needed is a work of art that specifically utilizes local materials that they will donate to the hotel at the end of their stay. This program is meant to encourage travelling artists to explore the surrounding area and really take in the culture and materials that its citizens use in their everyday lives.  

As you’ve read, many of these programs are geared towards creatives, and there’s actually dozens more just like them available in practically every country. However, there’s also many other offers out there for other types of exchanges that will not only help your wallet, but provide you with an unforgettable experience.

Death Valley, California

Where Should You Go On Your Next Road Trip?

In the United States, going on a road trip has been a traditional means of vacationing since the creation of the car. The ability to just get in your car, start driving, and eventually end up in a different state can be such an exhilarating experience, let alone much cheaper when compared to airfare and other means of traveling. So what are some of the best road trip destinations to hit in America?

First, the state of Washington in general is known for its vastly wide array of landscapes, hiking destinations and national parks, all perfect destinations to pass through or stop at on your road trip journey. More specifically, the North Cascades National Park, which is situated right next to the Washington Pass route that will take you between two iconic mountain ranges which will be your view for a majority of the trip. Additionally, the route itself will take you through a multitude of nature preserve sites that you can pull over and enjoy, such as the Liberty Bell Mountain, Early Winters Spires, and Kangaroo Ridge.

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Olympic National Park

Speaking of Washington National Parks, while you’re making your way through the state you should definitely stop at the Olympic National Park, which is arguably the most well-known park in the state, as it’s known for having a diverse range of natural environments to explore, including rainforest hiking trails, mountain territories, and coastal beaches; all of which are located within the park. One of the more popular beach destinations in the park is Rialto Beach, which is known for its massive driftwood “decorations” that are scattered among the shore. 

Moving outside of Washington, California is one of the most popular road trip destinations in America. However, why just make it the final stopping point? California is huge and has a whole slew of different cities, beaches, and nature preserves in general that can occupy an entire week of travel. State Highway 1 is known as “The Lost Coast” in California, and it takes over 650 miles of California coastline without any major access roads, hence its name. You can drive, hike, backpack, bike, and more along the entire trail and because of how huge it is, the possibilities for what you’ll witness while exploring the hidden roads are endless. 

Like the Olympic National Park, Joshua Tree National Park in California near the Barker Dam is one of the more famous road trip spots/getaway destinations for most who visit the golden state. The Dam provides a major source for fresh water in an otherwise extremely dry and arid environment. That fresh water will also draw the attention of many unique species, which can make for some pretty picturesque nature shots. 

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Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is on the cusp of California and Nevada and is known as America’s hottest and driest national park due to the fact that it has the lowest altitude when compared to every other park in the country. The desert environment itself isn’t your stereotypical vision of endless sand and cloudless skies, but instead holds a bunch of deep canyons, multicolored rock formations, multi-textured sand dunes for any sort of desert activity like hiking, riding an ATV or dune buggies, etc. and with a name like Death Valley, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.

Finally, it’s appropriate to also mention Arizona in this list. Arizona is located in the perfect place for a road trip, as it has Utah, Nevada, California, and New Mexico on its border, as well as the very famous Grand Canyon National Park in its residence. Beyond that, Arizona also has a myriad of photogenic landscapes, such as the Horseshoe Bend, which is one of the most photographed locations in the United States. The bend itself is located within the Colorado River and is about 100 miles from the Grand Canyon itself. The Saguaro National Park also holds a certain claim to fame in Arizona, as it’s known for holding some of the nation’s largest cacti species within its vast landscape (some can grow to be over 50 feet). 

Regardless of where you want to go on your road trip, make sure you’re remaining present and taking in all the scenery that the open roads of America have to offer. Never be afraid of a spontaneous detour, and pack a camera only for the really special moments so you can spend your time savoring every second of your nomadic journey. 

Seville Spain

Where To Go On Your Next Solo Vacation

Travelling is one of the most enchanting and fulfilling experiences we can do while here on Earth. When the stars align enough to the point that we’ve saved enough money and vacation days to take a much needed trip away from our everyday lives, it seems like a no-brainier. However, what happens when you get to a place in your life when no one you’re close to is as available as you to take said vacation? Solo-travel may not seem like it would be your top priority, however, there’s something truly gratifying about wanting to go out into the world and experience something new by yourself, and then actually doing it. So where should you go on your next independent journey? 

Seville, Spain has practically every element of Hispanic culture all in one city. From a series of historical cathedrals and other houses of worship, cobblestone roads, and bars and eateries lining the borders of countless plaza’s, you can’t go wrong. Seville has been described as one of the most social European cities out there, as residents spill into the streets everyday and spend their time wandering around, making new connections, and taking in the beauty that is traditional Spain. 

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Seville, Spain

If you are looking to stay in America, California is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. But instead of going to the traditional California getaway spots, like San Diego or LA, try going someplace more scenic and secluded, like Redding. Redding is one of California’s nicest up and coming spots for those who love all things nature and outdoors. There’s a bunch of protected grounds to hike and explore, such as the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Six Rivers National Forest.

Thailand has become one of the most popular international vacation destinations to date. Bangkok, to be more specific, is described as a “one place fits all” type of experience. The city is not only oozing with culture, wildlife, and a multitude of markets, but it also is known for its insane nightlife. Electric neon lights, bass-heavy beats, and individuals in the most colorful club attire you’ve ever seen fill the streets at night, giving a “I never want this to end!!” type feeling to all involved. 

Paris, France is a bit of a no brainier when it comes to “dream vacation” spots and that’s exactly why it’s worth mentioning here. Paris is rich with European culture and museums as far as the eye could see holding some of the world’s finest art. In fact, you can get a Museum Pass in Paris for 74 Euros and that one pass will give you entry into 50 different historic sites. The best part? The pass is good for six days, so you don’t have to worry about cramming all of the sights to see in one day. 

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Staying in Europe, Wales in the United Kingdom has become a much more popular tourist destination within the past decade. Wales is one of the few places in Europe with beautiful white sandy beaches and postcard worthy sunset views. Additionally, Wales is known for its uniquely colorful architecture, immersive meadow fields and medieval castles, as well as plenty of places to grab a pint and a quick bite to eat. 

If you’re a bit of an alcoholic beverage connoisseur, look no further than Belgium for your next tour of some of the world’s greatest breweries. Belgium alone has over 150 breweries, and is known for its active biking culture. There’s a bike shop on nearly every corner and plenty of dedicated bike paths throughout the country, allowing for easy access to some of the most breathtaking European views you’ll ever see. 

Finally, one of the more underrated destinations on anyone’s list would have to be the state of Utah. While Utah may seem like your average middle-America place to be, it’s actually becoming quite the hot spot during the summer months. Utah is home to  Zion National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the border of Utah and Arizona. If you can, try to hit any of these spots at night for some of the most incredible stargazing spots you’ll ever see, at least in America. 

Regardless of where you decide to take yourself on your next solo trip, make sure you take the time to plan out what exactly you want to do. All of the locations listed above are known for their hospitality and social scenes, so you likely will never have an issue when it comes to asking for directions, or finding a good place to eat. So go on your own Eat, Pray, Love journey and go be with yourself for a week.

Europe & British Union Flags

How Will Brexit Affect American Travelers?

After several years of debate the United Kingdom is still trying to secure its deal for leaving the European Union, and following Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party securing victory in their general election just before Christmas, it seems Britain can finally leave the European Union on 31st January 2020. However many travelers are worrying about how this may affect them when traveling to the UK and Europe.

The good news is that nothing should change straight away. Although the official date is 31st January 2020 both the European Union and Britain has until the end of the year to finalize all the details. But for travelers there could be an issue at the borders.

Currently travelers have been able to move from one country to another without having to use customs or passport control, however once Britain has officially left this could all change. In fact one of the major issues causing the delay in the agreement has been the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The former will remain a member of the EU as it is not part of the UK and there have been concerns that some people could abuse the “back door” entry into the country.

So far the effect that Brexit may have on the country’s politics and economy is unclear yet there appears to be more certainty on how the post-Brexit world will impact travelers.

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The main concern is air travel and how this could be disrupted between America and Britain. There is currently an agreement known as an EU open skies agreement between America and the European Union, allowing airlines from both regions into each other’s areas. However Britain has already created bilateral open-skies agreements with several other countries, including Iceland, Morocco, Albania, Switzerland as well as the United States. They are also in talks with other countries to enable replica agreements to be set up.

Having the open-skies agreement already in place with America means that airlines are still able to fly between the two countries after January 31st.

Ninan Chacko is a former chief executive at the Travel Leaders Group, a corporation that represents over 50,000 travel agents in North America and believes that “the UK is taking all the steps necessary and is rolling out the welcome mat.”

But what if you are traveling and want to fly from Britain to any of the countries in the EU? There should not be many changes for Americans, as they will still have to pass through both customs and immigration in Britain as well as the country they are visiting or leaving, just as they always have done.

The main changes will be for European Union or British nationals who can travel between the different countries only showing a national ID card and a passport when entering Great Britain. However they will now be forced to use their passport across the EU and European Citizens will not be able to only use their national cards when entering the UK at the end of the year.

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The British government and the European Commission are currently discussing whether British nationals could be allowed to travel within the EU for short trips of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. However the proposal from the EU will only allow this if the same privilege has been returned to their citizens. If this is the case all citizens will receive a specific stamp in their passports.

Another issue that could affect Americans travelling between Britain and the EU is the use of trains and ferries. Currently the French passport control for the Eurotunnel is on the British side of the channel and the British government has confirmed that all trains, ferries, cruises as well as bus and coach services will continue to run without any changes.

Another change that had been thought to occur is the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004, which is the European Union’s reimbursement scheme for any passengers who have had a delayed or canceled flight. This scheme is open to all travelers, whichever country they are from, and it has been confirmed this should not change.

Christian Nielsen, Chief Legal Officer at AirHelp, has confirmed that it is anticipated that Brexit will not impact travelers’ protections under EC 261, even if the airline they are using is a British airline. Nielsen commented “since the UK has previously acknowledged European air passenger rights laws like EC 261 – and then incorporated them into the UK Withdrawal Act of 2018 – passengers’ rights will remain protected.”

At the moment, Americans are not required to hold a visa when visiting Britain and this is expected to remain the same. However passports will need to be valid for the entirety of the trip. If they are traveling into the Schengen area – the area comprising of the 26 European countries that allow travelers to cross their borders – the passport will need to be valid for six months after their trip has ended.

A new security system to screen visa-free travelers will be in place from January 2021. Although not related to Brexit all Americans, Britons and travelers from other countries will have to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System. The authorization is relatively easy to do online and only costs a small fee.

Carry On Luggage

Carry-On Travel Essentials For Your Next Flight

When it comes to travelling, preparation is key. “Who, what, where, when, why, and how” takes on a whole new meaning in regards to packing and prepping for the journey you’re about to embark on, wherever that is. Besides what you need for the trip itself, if you find yourself booking a long flight to paradise, you’re going to need to bring some things to keep you entertained and at ease while you’re en route. So make sure you leave room for some of these essentials in your carry-on. 

To start, make sure you have a quality carry-on to begin with. Most aircrafts can support bags of a relatively large size on board now, but a large backpack should suffice all your needs that don’t fit in your checked bag. Try to find something with a lot of zipped pockets and padding. While it may take you longer to figure out which pocket has what in it, you’ll be more relaxed knowing that all of your belongings are zipped up and secured with you. 

Let’s start by going through the on board essentials that make any flight much more bearable. A neck pillow is the first thing that comes to most of our minds when we think of airplanes, as it should. Airplane seats can be unsupportive and lumpy, and a neck pillow offers the perfect amount of support for your neck and head when you’re trying to catch up on some sleep during your flight. Match that with a weighted eye mask and some earbuds and you’ll be as comfortable as one can be sleeping on a plane.  

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Makeup removing/facial cleansing wipes are an underrated essential to put in your carry-on. We all know that airlines see some of the most foot traffic of any industry, meaning there’s a ton of germs being transferred among all of us constantly. Hand sanitizer and general hand washing will help prevent you from getting sick (among other things), but staying relatively clean throughout a day of non-stop travel can be tough. Cleansing facial wipes will not only remove any makeup, dirt, or foreign bacteria from your face, but give you a more refreshed and clean feeling, something that’s pretty hard to accomplish while on an airplane. 

Along those same lines, toiletries are always good to have on hand when in the air. Since all airlines have pretty strict guidelines as to how much liquid you can bring onto a plane, head to your local drug store to ensure that you’re getting the right size of everything to take on board. Most drug stores, like CVS or RiteAid, have a travel section where they sell mini bottles of things like mouthwash and toothpaste that already fit the size requirements of most major airlines. Pick up some mini mouthwash, toothpaste, and maybe a new mini toothbrush, in case you eat a lovely airplane meal and want your breath to feel a little fresher after. Deodorant is another great thing to have on hand. 

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Sticking to self-care and hygiene, a face mask can be an extremely fun way to pass the time on a flight, and a great way to keep up with your skincare routine. Travelling in general can really stress our skin out; the change in altitude, environment and air can lead to dryness, irritation, and breakouts. Packing a sheet mask in your carry-on is the cleanest face mask option one could bring on a flight. You simply unfold it and place it on your skin, and when you’re done you can just throw it out, no sink or washing off required. While you may look a little strange, most people know what a sheet mask is, and besides, you’re going on vacation and will likely never see these individuals again, so just go for it. 

It should go without saying that you should pack some in-flight entertainment for yourself. In case none of the movie options appeal to you, download some of your favorite films onto your phone, tablet, or laptop the night before you leave. This way, you likely won’t even need the on-board WiFi to watch, and you have a simple way to pass a few hours. 

To keep your devices charged up, pack a portable charger. Some flights have outlets or USB ports for your chargers, but those can be flimsy or not even work. By packing your own fully charged external battery, along with all of the appropriate cords for your devices, you will ensure that no matter how much you’re using your electronics, they won’t run out of battery. 

Finally, bring a change of clothes. Yes I know, you’re technically packing a whole bunch of outfit changes in your regular suitcase, but planning ahead for the climate of your destination, and potential changes in cabin temperature, will ensure that you remain fully comfortable throughout your travels. In addition, once you arrive, you can easily change in the airport so you’re ready for wherever it is you decided to go!

San Juan Islands

Why Travel Abroad When We Have Amazing Hidden Islands Here?

With Christmas firmly behind us many of us are looking forward and seeing where we would like to head off for our annual vacations. And while destinations such as Europe, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand are always popular for American tourists, we also have some amazing “home-grown” destinations waiting to be discovered.

While over 40 million visitors head to Seattle each year – spending roughly $7.8 billion in the city and surrounding areas – few continue to the beautiful San Juan Island.

Situated sixty miles off the northwest coast of America and a mere 40-minute seaplane journey, the island can easily make one forget the busy Seattle lifestyle and settle into a lifestyle that is more relaxing and full of neighborly spirit.

While many coastal areas have been built up over the years to accommodate tourists, the 20-mile main island has remained unspoilt. Traffic is also a rare sight with no traffic lights and few other drivers meaning you have less stress as you navigate your way around the island.

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You can also visit the island via one of the cruise lines that stop off, including UnCruise and American Cruise Lines, however it is worth adding the trip to any other cruise that offers it. Many head here to watch the whales that are often spotted as well as to visit the seaside villages that welcome you like a long lost relative.

Make sure you take advantage of any offers to fly into the region, as you will get to see some amazing views not just of San Juan Island but also of all the 400 islands that are located nearby, although some are far smaller than the main islands, making them look like diamonds glistening in the water.

San Juan Island is not without its history. Back in the 1800s the American army had a base on the island while the British army also had a base there, albeit thirteen miles apart. During the twelve years they were both based there they appeared to live in peace, with athletic races between the two camps. The British camp created some formal gardens and these are still open for you to visit today. The camps also remained respectful of each other’s culture with the Americans celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria while the British attended Independence Day celebrations.

However this was to change in 1859 when a pig escaped from a British farm and headed towards a vegetable patch of an American settler, who subsequently killed it. Although he apologised to the pig’s owner a disagreement was had over the worth of the pig. With this disagreement in full flow both the British and Americans tried to declare themselves owners of the islands therefore enabling them to enforce their own laws.

When it was clear neither side was prepared to settle the dispute the American military sent in 60 troops while the British responded with a full warship. The US then sent a further 450 more troops with the British sending another two more warships. When the US president decided to send army leaders to meet with the British a decision of joint occupation was made. Kaiser Wilhelm I – an independent arbitrator – held a ‘trial’ in neutral Switzerland that decided the Americans should own the islands and the British troops withdrew from the island within the next two weeks.

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If history is not your idea of fun you could always head to Lime Kiln Point State Park, also known as Whale Watch Park. Situated between the two camps – which you can still visit – tourists are treated to sights of orcas. Head down towards the shoreside path and make your way to the charming 1919 lighthouse and you should be able to see the beautiful creatures as they swim past.

Further along the waterfront is Roche Harbor. Situated in an impressive setting, the 1886 Hotel de Haro is a major attraction for loved-up couples to hold their weddings. The island’s sculpture park is nearby and has an amazing array of strange sculptures that move with the wind.

The main town on San Juan Islands is Friday Harbor and is home to around 2,000 residents. Not only can you visit the whale museum here you can also book boat trips to see the many marine mammals in the area including seals, humpbacks and of course, orcas. However if you want to see them while eating a great meal head over to Friday Harbor House and enjoy the sights from their clifftop restaurant.

Nearby Orca island – named after a sponsor of one of the Spanish explorers who originally found and named the island – is only a short plane or ferry ride and can be reached via Friday Harbor.

With an eclectic range of restaurants, cafes, parks, boutiques and galleries, many tourists like to head to the historic village of Eastsound.

If the great outdoors is your preference then head to Lopez Island, which offers great hiking and cycling trails.

Swing with a view

How To Make Your Travelling Dreams A Reality

It’s time to make all of your travelling dreams come true in the new year. While one of the most common New Year’s resolutions most embark on is a healthier and more active life, another popular choice is to have more experiences. Embrace every day as if it were your last and to go see the world! Easier said than done for sure, but does it have to be?

Travelling is one of the most lucrative and costly industries out there today, and while you should definitely have a decent amount of financial security before embarking on a luxury vacation, there are tons of ways to make your travel dreams come true without spending your entire savings account. 

In order to feed that wanderlust desire, first you need to make sure you have all the essentials. First and foremost, make sure you have all of your necessary documents. Make sure your passport is completely up to date along with your license. For residents of the United States on October 1st you no longer will need your passport for travel, however, you need to ensure that you have a new Real ID, also known as an enhanced license, which every American will be required to have by the end of 2020. 

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Once you make sure that all your documentation is up-to-date, it’s time to plan. Look up a 12 month calendar online, print it out, and give yourself a huge visual of the upcoming year. Look at months in the future where you think you can swing taking off from work or any other responsibilities you may have at home that you can leave for a week or so. Choose a time period in a month that’s rather relaxed for you. If you know you have a bunch of weddings or birthdays in a given month, try to plan your trip as far away from those obligations as possible. This way, when you’re actually on vacation, you won’t have to worry about all the things and events coming up once you return home.   

A major part of planning a trip is obviously the financial aspect of it. If you’re smart about it, there’s a lot of preliminary steps you can take to make your travel costs as cheap as possible. One thing you can do is use a travel credit card throughout the year to earn points that can go towards things like free flights or reduced hotel costs. Many credit cards also have great cash back reward programs, talk with your financial advisors in your life about what card option might be best for you. 

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Once your finances are more in order, make sure you create a budget for yourself on how much you can spend while away. You don’t want to return home only to realize you’re going to need to work for the next five months to make back everything you spent. Make sure you have a decent amount of money waiting for you for when you get home, and use your budgeted money on whatever you want, you are on vacation after all. 

Choosing a destination really comes down to personal preference and what you want to gain out of your travel experience. Remember, this is your life, don’t feel obligated by those around you to compromise on a trip just to keep the peace. If you really want to, plan a solo trip where you know that your entire trip itinerary will consist of things you want to do. 

One of the hardest parts of making travel plans is actually getting yourself to do it. Travel is definitely an investment, but it’s an investment in life experience, so take a deep breath, open your laptop, find a place and book it! Think about your dream vacation, while you may not be able to afford accomplishing everything in that fantasy, what are the aspects of it that draw you in? Use those specific details to find a more feasible option. 

Travelling and vacations don’t have to be as complicated as we all think. It’s all a matter of saving, financial security, proper planning, and an open mind. Go into it knowing that you’re going to be gaining experience and unforgettable memories with those you love, or on your own. Regardless, make the plan and book the ticket.