Category Archives: Destination Inspiration

From Dawn To Dusk: Some Of The Highlights Of Arizona

As home to some of the most beautiful sights in the United States, Arizona has to be one of the visual feasts of anybody’s road trip, and if you are traversing the states, the Grand Canyon state needs to be one of the highlights of your journeys. But what actually is there for those on their travels that are looking for a combination of culture and fantastic sites?

El Tovar Dining Room – Located in the National Park South Rim, this eatery is classic American dining at its best! Be sure to reserve your table to get the best seats in the house, or if you’ve spent a long day hiking across the trails, you could relax in the cocktail lounge for some after dinner drinks.

The Walnut Canyon National Monument – If you head into the city of Flagstaff, you will see these dwellings that date back to the pre-Columbian era. And if you are looking for the right hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, The Comfort Inn is one of many great places to put your feet up and contemplate the wondrous sites you’ve seen that day. The Walnut Canyon was home to a village of cliff dwellers, and if you go there during the winter months, you will see the area white with snow, providing quite a contrast to what the typical image of Arizona is.

Heard Museum – In Phoenix, this museum shows the vast history of the American Indian tribes in the Southwest. As far as an insight into the natives of hundreds of years ago, this museum provides an education for every single one of us, detailed via various films, art galleries, and spirit dolls, known as Hopi Kachinas. In addition to this, there are various events posted throughout the year, such as Indian fares or even competitions! As far as an educational experience is concerned, this museum is actually one of the best overall in the whole of the United States!

The Lowell Observatory – If you head down to Flagstaff on a clear night, you should swing by the observatory, and see the Cosmos for yourself! This landmark is famous for the first sighting of Pluto back in 1930. And, since 1894, people have had the opportunity to look at the universe through various telescopes, including the 1896 Clark Telescope.

Musical Instrument Museum – While there are millions of things to do in Phoenix, get yourself to the greater Phoenix area and have a musical education unlike anywhere else! Throughout these five galleries, you will experience the 200 countries and territories musical heritage, from Hawaiian ukuleles to thumb pianos from Uganda, here is where music comes to life, especially with wireless recordings of long-forgotten relics of the musical past you can listen to via headphone, but if you are looking for something a little more “contemporary”, check out the Alice Cooper display!

Not just a state of sweeping canyons, Arizona is, of course, home to many national parks, but this is scratching the surface of what Arizona has to offer.

The Duoro River Valley in Winter

Portugal in December is cool and crisp and less-crowded. In one word, it was perfect! We saw the glistening beaches of Lagos, the twinkling Christmas lights in Lisbon and sipped Port in Porto. So, when we made the uneducated and un-researched decision to go inland to see where this famous Port wine, the travel spirits revealed just how naïve we could be when it came to what the Douro River Wine Region would actually offer in the middle of December.

The drive from Porto to Barrios is gorgeous. The highways are well paved and twist and turn through mountains and valleys. The sun shines and reflects off of the river below as you wind your way out of the city and through small map dots. One specific turn took us over a ridge, down into a valley and out of the sunshine. We’d arrived in foggy, cold and desolate, Barrios, Portugal.

Our well-maintained hotel was a home built in 1492. It’s historic charm faded a bit as we walked the drafty (Ok, no. Who am I kidding? COLD) hallways. We checked in and the owner told us we were the only guests. We thrilled at the idea of having the entire “house” to ourselves, even if it was “drafty.” However, it was not as romantic as we originally thought it would be. While a sold-out resort is not our ideal venue, cabin fever set in faster than we’d expected.

“Cabin fever”, you might ask? Diane, you were in wine country, how could you get cabin fever? Oh, that’s right. I haven’t told you yet….

You see, as we soon found out, the Port we so excitedly tasted in a tasting room overlooking the river in downtown Porto is, indeed, grown in this region. However, unlike every single other wine region we’ve ever visited, the wine made here is shipped to the tasting rooms in the city and stored there, in the caves. In fact, very few wineries have tasting rooms on site. Hmmm, oopsie!

Secondly, winter in wine country typically means that harvest is complete and the vintner and farmers work shorter days. But, in the Douro Valley, the work days are not shorter, they are non-existent. OK, that might be in correct. A more accurate account would be that any of the very limited tasting rooms in this area are closed. Not opened. Well crud!

Enter, cabin fever.

Let me clear. The leafless vines of a winter vineyard that hug wires with knobbly arms that look like an old witches slender fingers offer an eerie beauty that is unrivaled. But! Do you want to know what makes these views even better? A glass of wine in my hand!

We spent one of the two planned nights, in Barrios. We forfeited our second night and returned to Porto in search of a busy metropolitan café, honking car horns and tasting rooms. We ate an amazing dinner in Porto and laughed at our poor planning. Travel “oopsies” are just that, an oopsie. The Douro River Wine region did not live up to our hopes and expectations, but that is a wonderful life lesson that we pondered that night …. while drinking a bottle of wine!

Funding Your Travel Bucket List

With the New Year now in full swing, something a lot of people will be thinking about is travel… and when it comes to travel, we all have a ‘bucket list’… whether it’s written down on paper, on Pinterest, or just in your head.

Just so we’re clear, a bucket list, by definition is a list of all the things you want to do before you die – yet, as that’s a bit morbid, a lot of people have yearly bucket lists of things they want to achieve before the end of the year, or by the time they’re forty for example.  The term itself comes from, or was at least made famous by, a 2007 movie called “The Bucket List” where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson play characters that are both dying of cancer, and decide to create a bucket list of things they will do together before they do; from race car driving and going on safari in Africa to climbing a mountain in Nepal… the film goes on to show them fulfilling their bucket list before they die, which is a very sad yet liberating and inspiring process to watch.

Now, in addition to the fun stuff of working out what goes on this year’s travel bucket list the first thing to address is how to afford your next travel adventure.  Here are a few top tips on how to make your dream a reality on this front, and then a couple of trending destinations and activities you might want to consider including on your list.

Start Saving – In addition to courage, the most important resource you’re going to need in your pursuit of a phenomenal travel adventure is to have some money behind you.  Some people take out a loan, but often, this can take away from the value of the experience and isn’t particularly sustainable or financially responsible.  

See, if you are having to work your guts off to achieve this dream, the experience itself will feel more earned and deserved – which tends to create a much greater psychological reward.  It’s that tingly feeling of excitement and pride, as you are thrust back into your seat upon take off, about to embark on your adventure, that feels magical because you earned it.  You put your own blood, sweat and tears into making this happen – and that sense of pride will be worth all the hard work.

In terms of saving for travel, there are two approaches; the first is that you start saving the money you currently spend (e.g. spend less on day-to-day living and syphon some of that cash into a savings account).

The second approach is to increase your income.  Whether you get a second job, start selling things on eBay, set up a side hustle, or just do a few odd jobs around your current commitments, such as mowing lawns… this will all propel you into getting to where you want to be much faster than merely reducing the amount you spend day-to-day; however the most effective strategy is a combination of the two.

There is a third approach, which is certainly the path of least resistance, which is to put certain expenses such as flights on a 0% credit card and pay it back over time.

Find Cheap Flights – If you’re looking to travel internationally, flights can take a huge chunk of money from your travel fund.  However, if you can be flexible with your flight dates then searching for cheap flights via comparison engines such as skyscanner that compare hundreds of flights from almost every airline in the world to present you with the cheapest deals for the dates and destinations you are looking for this can save you a ton of cash.

Another factor to consider is being flexible with your departure and arrival airports; and therefore searching for two single tickets rather than a round-trip.  That said, whilst this works well for short hops within places such as Europe, SE Asia or the US – when it comes to long haul travel, e.g. New York to Bangkok it tends to be a lot cheaper to get a roundtrip ticket than two singles; indeed, the round trip can be just a $100 more than a single ticket.  

What you might want to consider doing though, is looking at a wider selection of departure and arrival airports in order to find the best deal; as sometimes we pay so much for the convenience of getting a flight from the nearest airport – that could be spent on much better things, for just an hour or two’s additional journey time.

In summary, the more flexible you can be in terms of time and location, the cheaper the flights you will be able to find.

Work for Your Accommodations – In an ideal world, the majority of us would love to stay somewhere as luxurious as Idube Game Lodge, but for those on a budget accommodation is considered a necessary evil that facilitates their experience; such as going on safari or swimming with dolphins – where they are more focused on the experience than the accommodation.  

Even then, accommodation can be expensive, so one suggestion is to visit a site like workaway that essentially allows you to volunteer for four hours a day (sometimes doing pretty cool things like helping out at an orphanage or elephant sanctuary) and in return they provide free accommodation and a couple of meals a day.

This is not just a cheap and affordable way to travel, it’s a great way to be part of a community and meet other people, travellers and locals alike, whilst making a difference to the community within which you’re visiting – particularly if you were to be volunteering somewhere like an orphanage or animal sanctuary.

In summary, we all tend to have quite extravagant bucket lists that require significant capital in order to turn our dream into reality – but with these three simple principles of saving money for the trip and reducing the cost of your two major expenses; flights and hotels… hopefully, your bucket list travel plans feel much more within your reach.

3 Australasian Bucket List Destinations For 2018

For any seasoned travel bug the new year brings with it a whole host of possibilities. It’s a big, wide world out there and the start of the year represents a chance for the adventure hungry to dig out their bucket lists and set their sights on new destinations. Of course the destinations on that list will depend on your personal proclivities. Some may seek adventure and action while some may seek places of picturesque solitude. But why scour the globe for such variety when it can all be found on one continent?

Whether you want to see areas of unmatched natural beauty, cities of bustling cosmopolitan majesty or flora and fauna that look so exotic they border on science fiction, all can be found in Australasia. If you’ve never been to this incredible and diverse set of countries you may well underestimate just how much Australia, New Zealand and the various islands of the South Pacific have to offer. Here, we give a choice few that are worthy of a space on even the most stringently edited bucket list…

The Great Barrier Reef – Off the coast of Queensland on the North Eastern tip of Australia lies one of the most incredible works of ornate natural engineering in the world… The Great Barrier Reef. This elaborate ecosystem is over 2,000 km in length and comprised of over 600 types of hard and soft coral and comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands. The world’s largest coral reef has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1981 and never fails to draw gasps of amazement from new visitors. While it can be enjoyed by boat there’s absolutely no substitute for strapping on a snorkel or a diving tank and exploring the majesty of this natural architecture up close. Visit this website to check out a range of tours to suit all tastes. You will not return from the Great Barrier Reef unchanged!

Milford Sound – Anyone who’s seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy can attest to the immense diversity and awe inspiring beauty of New Zealand’s topography. From the unassuming beauty of Matamata which doubled as Hobbiton to the rugged grandeur of Mackensie Country which stood in for Rohan, New Zealand is rife with natural beauty. Queenstown on the south island of New Zealand has long drawn tourists of an adventurous nature; offering surfing, skydiving and bungee jumping and its from here that most tours of the astonishing Mildford Sound begin. The enormity and majesty of New Zealand’s grandest natural attraction must be seen to be believed.

Tahiti – If you fell in love with the Polynesian themed adventures of Moana you’ll love Tahiti. The largest of the French Polynesian islands this is a popular spot with honeymooners offering a topography that’s alive with natural beauty. Aside from the lush vegetation and fascinating Polynesian culture the island offers some of the most memorable aquatic encounters in Australasia. Dip into the azure blue waters to swim with the native black-tip reef sharks and you’ll make memories that will last the rest of your life!

Where To Stay When Travelling

When booking a vacation, there is always a list of things you need to consider, from what to pack to where to go. And one of the most important things you need to think about (hopefully in advance) is where to stay. Depending on your location and budget, the level of accommodation open to you can differ a lot, but the difference can also be by personal choice. For a student going traveling on their gap year, the choices of where to stay will be different to the CEO of Google when he decides to go island hopping. What you want out of where your vacation will have a big say in where you decide to stay, accommodation wise. Travelling might mean that you’re going to visit every state in America, or every island in Indonesia. Or it could just be a week-long break, and you’re taking the opportunity to go somewhere new. ‘Travelling’ is about seeing different cultures and different places, not the length of time you’re away for.

Camping – Camping can be a great way to experience a new country. Whether you’re out in a field, in the forest, or up in the mountains, it can be truly beautiful. However you do need to be aware of the laws around camping in that country – some places let you pitch up anywhere, and some have strict rules about that sort of thing. If you don’t fancy erecting a tent, but like the idea, then why not go glamping? Glamorous-camping has been on the rise for years and can be a great way to combine comforts with the great outdoors. There are fantastic glamping options in safari lodges, allowing you to keep up with your creature-comforts while being in the middle of nature.

Hostels – Hostels have had a reboot over the past few years and don’t have the same, lousy reputation that they used to have. Hostels are often the top choice for backpackers of all ages – they are easy to find all over the world, and are pretty cheap no matter where you go. The only big differences you will find with hostels is whether they use communal dorm rooms that come with or without an en-suite. Some places, like Rome, use four-man tents, fitted with bunk beds and power sockets – so at least you can keep your devices charged. A lot of glamping-type hostels have a college campus feel to them, with a basic restaurant, shop and pool.

Hotels – Everyone is used to the star system hotels use, and it’s a pretty good indicator of the hotel’s reputation. Hotels are a great option while travelling if you have a little more to spend and are going to be staying in one location for longer than a couple of days. You can go B&B – which will include a large range of smaller locations, and can be a bit more of a reflection of the local culture. Or find a hotel like Econo Lodge which can be half-board or all-inclusive. If you’re going all-inclusive, it might be worth opting for the higher rated hotels, so that you know that the service you’re paying for, for the majority of your holiday time, will be excellent.

Best Road Trips in The USA

This article reveals five of the best summer road trips to take this summer, in America. Now, before you get planning your next adventure the first step is going to be to choose your vehicle. On the one hand, of course, driving a fancy convertible with the wind in your hair is the dream, but there’s character to be had in driving an older classic, and an even more intriguing option could be to get an RV and engage in slow travel.

If you’re thinking about potentially getting an RV, like in the Robin Williams film, RV, one of your best options might be to head to one of the rv auctions in your state or eBay, as this is where you’re most likely to pick up a great bargain; particularly toward the end of summer – when it becomes a buyers market.

Presuming you have some wheels, let’s now look at five of the best road trips to take in the USA.

CALIFORNIA STATE ROUTE 1 – The best time to take this drive is in summer as your trip will be soaked in sun with optimal daylight hours. The route takes you along the Pacific coast. The route starts just not of San Diego and leads through Los Angeles (known for gridlock traffic jams) where you’ll drive through Long Beach, Malibu, Santa Barbara (known for it’s great wines) Santa Cruz and Big Sur (known for its surfing) and San Francisco. This route is a 745 mile journey that predominantly hugs the exceptional coastline.

US ROUTE 20 – If you want to travel coast to coast then Route 20 is known for being the longest road in America covering a distance of 3,365 miles from Newport (Oregon) to Boston (Massachusetts).

Going around Yellowstone National Park makes a lovely pit stop but covering 3,365 miles is no small feat.  If you choose to hang around for a while, taking a guided trip in Yellowstone National Park is a great idea.  The route is fast and easy to drive; you should be able to cover it in two to three weeks – but the best way would be to take a little longer, so you can experience the Real America along the way, and not just sit in a metal can driving along the tarmac.

ROUTE 66 – Perhaps the most famous “road trip” in the world and one that appears on most people’s bucket lists, Route 66 will soon celebrate its 100th birthday, as one of the first numbered roads in the US.  Ending in California this trip from Chicago to Santa Monica covers 2,451 miles mostly through what could be the set of an old western movie.

MONUMENT VALLEY – Starting out of Route 17 in Phoenix you can visit Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and cowboy landscapes on the Arizona/Utah border. Then, progress to Route 191 to enter Winslow using Route 66. The top tip for this trip is to take a Jeep Safari along Diamond Creek Road, as this way you get to drive along the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

FLORIDA KEYS – The US 1 from Miami to Key West is an ocean focused 150 mile drive that takes in a variety of the keys (little islands) sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. The most amazing section of this drive is the Seven Mile Bridge.

The Five Stages of Travel

Travelling is the chance to see the world, experience cultures that you may not have discovered had you stayed at home, and an opportunity to meet hundreds of fascinating and unusual people. And during your travels, no matter how long they are, you will probably go through many different stages; from adjustment to excitement to exhaustion to rejuvenation. Here’s what to expect when you embark on your globetrotting adventure.

Culture Shock – Getting to a new country on the other side of the world is exciting, but it can also come with some time for adjustment. If you’ve never been outside your own country, then experiencing how another country works can take time to get used to.

You might struggle with the transport system, the heat, the food, or merely feel an itch of homesickness. However, it is vital not to let this affect your enjoyment, and do your best to ride it out.

Never Coming Home – Following the initial adjustment, then comes the feeling that this is the best place in the world – wherever you are. You will by now be wholly engrossed in the travelling way of life, slumming it on lumpy hostel beds, meeting amazing people, and your stomach has finally adapted to the food.

During this time you may very well claim that you are never coming home. While your mother may gasp, she will also be thrilled you’re having such a wonderful time. You will fill social media with photos of what you’ve seen and where you’ve been and will start feeling like this is the life for you.

Everything seems the same – But with every rise comes the inevitable fall. There will be moments where homesickness sets back in, seeing all your friends back home having a great time and you might feel like missing out.

Furthermore, you will have travelled for so long at this point that a lot of the locations and sites seem familiar. There’s only so many temples or beaches or walking streets you can see and be wowed with every time. This can lead to indifference and could, but shouldn’t, ruin your travels.

Treating Yourself – And so the way to combat this is to maybe just take a break bouncing from hostel to hostel. Perhaps it is time you treat yourself.

Sometimes you just feel like you need some rest and relaxation and even perhaps some time away from the traveller’s lifestyle. For times like this, consider researching Sleep Inn and Suites Gatlinburg, and experience a little luxury (like having your own bathroom!) to unwind and rediscover your love for your travels.

Recharged and Ready – After your little taste of luxury, you will feel ready to get back off the beaten track and find ways to carve your way across the world. You will go back into the travelling way of life with newfound energy, and with your experience, you will be able to avoid any scams and money-grabbing tricks.

Being recharged and ready to take on the world will put the trip into perspective, and you can stride forward knowing that this is what you want to do, and nothing will get in your way. Happy travels, and don’t let the tough times get you down.

Visiting Australia? Queensland Is The State To Visit

If you are planning a trip to Australia, you might well be struck with jut how much choice you have on where to go. It is a vast country and continent, and it is necessary to pick and choose your specific locations before you go if you want to make the most of your trip. One of the favored states in all of Australia is Queensland, home to many of the most-visited and most highly-rated parts of Australia. As such, Queensland is often the place to go – but where exactly should you visit in this sprawling state? Let’s take a look at some of the favored parts of Queensland you should think about visiting.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yarra64/2410412662

Brisbane – In recent years, this popular destination has grown and grown enormously, and that is thanks in no small part to the tremendous changes which the city has undergone. Only a few years ago, the city was a much smaller and less developed place, whereas it has now grown into a cultural hub of Queensland. You can expect to go dancing, drinking, and eating in this newly metropolitan centre, and all for prices which you would be delighted to pay. What’s more, the setting of Brisbane being where it is, you are only a short drive from the Sunshine Coast, one of the most coveted and adored destinations in all of Australia. This is the ind of city that can surprise you time and again with its variety and splendor.

Fraser Island – Queensland is about much more than just the mainland – you also have a number of beautiful islands to discover. A particularly popular example of these is the glorious Fraser Island, one of Australia’s true gems, and this is somewhere where you can expect to experience much of the best that Australia has to offer. You can easily get to the island from many points across the Sunshine Coast, including the beautiful option of taking Fraser Island tours from Hervey Bay, and once there you can get on with experiencing the truly Aussie island experience. Fraser Island has a little of everything, so it is hardly surprising that it is such a popular part of Queensland to visit.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dearanxiety/4710919369

The Great Barrier Reef – Queensland is home to a number of the world’s greatest examples of something, and one of the most notable has to be the Great Barrier Reef. this enormous display of ancient coral is one of the true modern wonders of the world, and it is something that you absolutely have to see if you want to complete any visit to Australia. You can visit the Great Barrier Reef from a number of locations all along the Queensland coast, and you might be surprised at just how beautiful it really is. This is a world-must, and one of those experiences you are unlikely to ever forget.

Queensland is all you need if you want to see the best of what Australia has to offer. Consider a trip here if you are keen on the true Aussie experience.

Find Your Winter Wonderland: Choose From 4 Fantastic Ski Destinations

If you’re thinking about booking or planning a holiday this year, you might be considering something other than a few weeks with the sun and surf. Instead, you could book a holiday in a winter wonderland. There are no prizes for guessing the main item on the agenda for these types of vacations: skiing! But, taking to the slopes and doing your best not to fall over while sliding down them is certainly not the only reason to book a vacation in a chilly paradise. There are also beautiful chalets to stay in, warm fires to sit by and a vacation package that could be fun for the family. Or, the perfect getaway if the kids aren’t getting an invite for this trip.

With so many places to go in the world, you might be wondering what the best destination is for a winter wonderland vacation. While we can’t answer this question for you, we’ll certainly be happy to give you some choices that you can and definitely should consider.

The Cheapest Option – Recently, we posted about the best way to go out skiing on a shoestring budget. Well, now you can think about heading to a cheap resort too and keeping that budget under control. For that, we’d suggest taking a trip to Les Houches in France. Here you’ll see that a day on the slopes is less than fifty and the transfers aren’t too bad at all travelling to the location. Though, it will always depend on where you’re coming from.

For the low price, you get a wonderful choice of slopes to ski down from the hill for the amateur to the near vertical mountain for the expert. It’s not the largest resort in the world so during popular seasons you might find this place a tad crowded. But there is certainly a lot of fun to be had if you know where to look.

If you are heading away without the kids, be sure to traipse down into town for happy hour between five and seven pm.

The Luxury Selection – Of course, if you have the money to spend you can treat yourself to a little more luxury and head to Meribel in the alps instead. A panoramic view of the resort makes it look like it’s ripped straight from a picture book or perhaps one of those old-fashioned romance movies. It is absolutely picturesque, and the weather certainly helps. As well as a regular fresh powder coating on the slopes, you will also be able to rely on beautiful spots of sunshine, making it the perfect paradise. Once you have had enough fun jetting around the slopes, you can then retreat inside to lavish in luxury, curling up in four-poster beds by roaring fireplaces.

The best time to checkout this resort is actually right about now! A resort like Chalet La Varappe in Meribel won’t disappoint, and during this time the crowds are greatly reduced. Kids are also still stuck in school if you fancy a holiday without the sound of screaming children.

For Pure Skiing – You might be less interested in the slops and more interested in how you will be treated by the staff at the ski resort that you choose to stay in. If so, then you could take a trip to Deer Valley in Utah. This beautiful location is well-known for brilliant staff who treat the skiers who are visiting as nothing short of royalty. While you might have to be coaxed to come out of the hotels here, you won’t be disappointed when you do. Beautiful slopes are available on six different mountains each one more challenging than the last.

Although, the biggest benefit of this is resort is that snowboarding is completely banned. That’s right, only skiing is allowed on this slopes which is beneficial if you are tired of being hit by accident as an over-enthusiastic border whizzes past. Of course, if you have kids who are eager to learn how to snowboard then you will have to look elsewhere.

For The Adventurer – Or, if you are feeling like a dare-devil and want to test your skills as a super spy, you can head to Mt-Hutt in New Zealand. Here you will be about to try heli-skiing which is just like regular skiing accept you’ll be dropped out a helicopter first. It’s not the only benefit of this location. It’s one of the least crowded resorts in the world and has slopes that stretch for miles.

We hope that at least one of these turns out to be your new winter wonderland and the perfect destination for a skiing holiday.

Making Every Trip Memorable: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Travels

For many of us, there’s nothing more exciting than the prospect of getting away and seeing the world. Sadly, it’s not always possible to travel as much as we’d like, and this is why it’s essential to make every trip memorable. If you’re keen to make the most of every break you take, here are some golden rules to follow.

Research the destination – There’s a lot to be said for being spontaneous and putting a pin in a map and letting fate do its thing, but if you don’t have the funds or the time to travel extensively, it’s important to choose the right destinations. Think about what you want to do, what you want to see and how you’d most like to spend your time. If you’re interested in doing nothing but lying on golden sands beneath swaying palms, not every destination is going to fulfil your fantasies. Do some reading, get some inspiration and narrow down your options based on your personal preferences and what you want to get out of the trip.

Take advice from other travelers  You don’t have to take every single recommendation on board, but it’s really useful to read some reviews and travel articles and ask friends or family members for advice if you’re planning to visit a place you’ve never been to before. You’ll often find that travelers will offer a different perspective to guidebooks, and this can help you broaden your horizons and enjoy a more diverse range of experiences. You can read reviews to help you find everything from the best times of day to visit major landmarks to amazing restaurants. There’s a huge amount of information available online, so tailor your search to make it relevant. You could select traditional Chinese cuisine or Italian restaurants when you’re looking for places for dinner or use filters to find more information about the attractions that appeal most, for example. If you do have friends or colleagues who have spent time in locations you plan to visit, ask for some insider information. Places that are popular with locals often don’t appear in travel guides, and you could discover some secret gems this way.

Don’t be afraid to get lost – If you’re short on time, having plans can help you to ensure you see everything on your list, but try and leave a little time to wander off-piste. The best way to explore, especially in cities like Rome, Venice, Barcelona and London, is to walk around at leisure. Meander through winding streets, get away from the main tourist areas and see what else is on offer.

Take it all in – In this day and age, we can get distracted by trying to capture moments, and this can prevent us from actually enjoying what we’re doing and seeing. It’s perfectly fine to want that Instagram shot, but don’t let angles and lighting get in the way of your enjoyment of that precious moment in time. Take a step back, look around you, soak up the atmosphere and take it all in before you start worrying about filters and hashtags.

If you love to travel, it’s natural to want to make the most of every trip you take. Do your homework, take advice on board, enjoy once-in-a-lifetime moments and don’t be afraid to get off the beaten tracks.