The Ultimate Guide to Vacations in Sunny Florida

There’s something rather special about the Sunshine State. No wonder it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world. From visiting the numerous theme parks to sunning yourself in Miami, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone here. If you want to visit Florida but don’t know where to start then you’re in luck. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to vacations in this beautiful state.

 

image source: pixabay.com

 

Where to Visit

There are plenty of different areas of Florida that are well worth a visit. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular:

  • Orlando – Home of the best theme parks in the world! Orlando is an extremely popular tourist destination in Florida. It’s perfect for families, young couples, and singles alike. It can be quite expensive during peak season, but is worth every penny. Especially if you get a chance to visit Disney World!
  • Miami – Not quite as family orientated as Orlando. However, this is still somewhere you wouldn’t mind taking the kids. Miami has a beautiful Latin feel about it, with some of the best nightlife on the planet. The beaches are also second to none.
  • Key West – If mainland Florida is too hectic, take a trip to Key West instead. You’ll feel as though you’re on your own private island. Somewhere in the Caribbean. This is definitely the height of luxury.

 

Places to Stay

Once you’ve chosen where you want to visit in Florida, you’ll need to find some accommodation. Luckily, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the Sunshine State. Most people opt for the regular hotels, that can be found on practically every street corner. Particularly in places as popular as Orlando. These can be extremely expensive during peak season, however. An interesting alternative would be furnished apartment rentals. These tend to cost less than a standard hotel and have plenty more to offer. Especially if there’s a few of you travelling. Lastly, you have the resorts. Many of the theme parks will have their own on-site resorts. These are probably the most expensive of all. But you will be closer to the action.

 

When to Go

We’ve mentioned peak season a lot, but when exactly is that? And when is the best time to visit Florida on a budget? Summer, from July to August, is when you’ll see the hottest weather. Temperatures can climb extremely quickly in Florida. Well, they don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. This does mean it’s the most expensive time to visit, however. If you don’t mind the weather being slightly cooler, then book your vacation for September/October time. Many children are back at school, so this brings the prices down. It can be difficult if you’re planning on taking your own kids, however! You’ll still get nice warm weather in October, but with the added benefit of smaller crowds.

 

And there we have it! Your ultimate guide to vacations in Florida. Which part of the state will you be visiting? And when are you going? Perhaps you’re a regular to the ‘Sunshine State’. We’d love to hear your own Florida vacation stories!

Unique Accommodation Ideas That Are Much Better Than a Hotel

When you go away, do you tend to stay in a hotel? Most people do! It’s the quick, easy and most obvious choice. However, you could be missing out on some of the most exciting accommodation options in the world. There are plenty of other places to stay; that are much better than a hotel. Here are some of the most unique accommodation ideas to get you thinking.

 

A Tent

If you don’t mind roughing it slightly, then consider staying in a tent. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s a fabulous way to be ‘at one with nature’. You can find a range of campsites around the world, all with their own facilities. You don’t necessarily have to wash in the local lake, you know? Some campsites even have entertainment buildings nearby, so you’ll never be stuck for things to do. If you’re a backpacker, then this idea might appeal to you too. It’s an excellent way of seeing the world on a shoestring budget.

 

Glamping

If you’re not a fan of sleeping in a tent, then there are other luxurious ways to be ‘at one with nature’. Glamping is basically glamorous camping. Usually, you stay in a teepee or wooden structure. Both are a lot like tents, but with a bit more on offer. Some will have wood burners and four poster beds. You may even find one with electricity. Glamping is an incredible choice for those who want to camp, but don’t want to miss out on their luxuries.

 

image source: pixabay.com

 

Camper Van

One of the most exhilarating ways to see the world – driving! You can hire or buy a camper van and take it across the globe. Many will come with a fully decked out room in the back. Typically including a fold out bed and kitchen facilities. You’ll be able to see the countries you’re visiting in a whole new light. Making your way across the road less travelled. It’s one step up from camping in a tent, but just below glamping.

 

Self-Catering Properties

This is becoming a hugely popular accommodation choice for travellers nowadays. Instead of staying in a hotel, consider staying in a self-catered property instead. You can get furnished apartment rentals for a lot cheaper than you would a hotel. There are also cottages, villas and houses up for grabs. You’re not paying as much because you don’t have the usual services that a hotel provides. Namely housekeeping and food. However, if you don’t mind self-catering then this is a much more budget-friendly option. Plus, you don’t have any pesky neighbours in the rooms next door.

 

Hostels

These are a lot like hotels in some respects. You get a room and a bathroom, along with food facilities. People even come and clean your room on a regular basis. The only difference is that most of the amenities are shared. Including the bedrooms. This means you’ll be sleeping in a dorm room with other travellers. They’re far cheaper than staying in a hotel, for that very reason. If you’re backpacking, then this is an excellent way to meet new people. You may even find your next travel buddy.

 

Why stay in a hotel when you have all of these incredible options available? Many of these accommodation ideas will ensure you see your destination in a whole new light as well. There’s nothing better than that!

 

 

Going On a Skiing Holiday? How To Get Prepared

If you are a skiing newbie, and have never hit the slopes before, you are in the right place. Skiing is one of the most fun and enjoyable sports in the world and is the ideal winter vacation for any adventure loving traveler.

That being said, while planning a skiing trip is the perfect vacation, if you have never been skiing before, it requires preparation. Very few people can hop onto skis or a snowboard for the first time and be a natural, without doing any training.

Many people forget that skiing is a sport, and to master any sport you have to take the time to learn and practice. No matter how much you want to be an advanced skier straight away, that’s not possible. To become an advanced skier, taking lessons and doing lots of practice is crucial.

If you want to have an amazing skiing trip, it is crucial that you take the time to prepare properly. To help you do that, I have put together a simple guide to how you can prepare for your upcoming trip to the slopes.

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For everything that you need to know, about hitting the slopes for the first time, keep reading, below:

 

Choose your resort carefully

When it comes to choosing your skiing resort, take the time to choose carefully. Each skiing resort has slopes of different levels, and so, it’s important that you choose a resort with lots of beginner slopes.

If you make the mistake of booking a resort with more advanced slopes than beginner ones, this could affect how much you enjoy your trip. So make sure that before choosing your resort, that you do research on it and what types of slopes it offers.

 

Don’t go during peak season

Trust me on this, as a new skier, you don’t want to go during peak season. During peak season, the ski resorts become packed out with people, making navigating the slopes much more difficult.

As someone who is new to skiing, you should aim to book your break for a time when the resort is as quiet as possible. Avoid booking your trip for December, January or March, as these are when school is out, and the resorts will be packed with families.

 

image source: piabay.com

 

Opt for the perfect accommodation

When it comes to choosing your ski resort accommodation, it’s crucial that you choose carefully. If you are going on your trip solo or with just one other person, booking a room in one of the resort’s hotels is ideal.

However, if you are going as part of a group or with your family, booking a lodge is a much better option. You can choose a lodge that has maid service and catering or to save money you can opt for a lodge that is self-catered. Whatever you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the preferences of your travel buddies.

 

Get fit

If you aren’t already in good physical shape, it’s important that you get in shape before your trip. Skiing is hard work, and to be able to enjoy it, you need to be in good shape. If you are unfit or out of shape, you will find skiing to be a struggle.

There are plenty of options when it comes to getting in shape, what you choose to do depends on you. Just make sure that you do both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. For instance, you could combine swimming or running with lifting weights, for good results.

 

Go to your local skiing center

As you have never skied before, it’s a good idea that before you go you take a trip to your local skiing center. Ideally, you don’t want to go to a dry ski slope, but to a slope with real snow. This is because skiing on the dry slopes is very different to skiing on real snow, and if you want to get a feel for it, you need real snow.

While you are at your local ski center, you could always opt to have a few basic skiing lessons. That way, by the time you go on your trip, you should be able to stand up on your skis and make it down a couple of the smaller slopes.

 

Book lessons in advance

As well as having a couple of lessons at your local skiing center, it’s also a good idea to book some lessons for once you arrive at your resort. You might already know the basics, but to improve and perfect your skiing, you may need a little extra help.

Most skiing resorts have various skiing instructors you can choose from. For instance, if you choose to go skiing in Canada, you could take lessons from an Alltracks ski instructor. You can find out more about the lessons and prices by visiting http://alltracksacademy.com/.

 

Don’t forget your clothes and equipment

As someone who is new to skiing, it doesn’t make sense to buy all your clothing and equipment. It’s best to hire and borrow what you need to start off with, and then, as you get more into skiing, you can invest in all the bits and pieces that you need.

When it comes to getting all the clothes that you need, ask friends and relatives if they have anything that you could borrow. Or, failing that, perhaps you could hire your clothes from a specialist skiing store?

When it comes to your skiing equipment, the best option is to hire it from your ski resort. Just make sure to book what you want in advance, so that you get everything that you need. If you leave hiring your equipment until you arrive, you could be left with very basic equipment. Plus, you will have to stand in a queue for hours to get it, that’s why hiring in advance is always best.

Going skiing is a lot of fun, it gives you the chance to let loose, try new things and have an amazing time. Just make sure that you do lots of preparation in advance, so that you get as much out of your skiing trip as possible.

 

The Best Gap-Year Volunteer Opportunities On The Planet

Australian volunteer Tamara Baillie worked as a business development officer with the Thanh Xuan Organic project in Vietnam, 2010. Photo: Tamara Baillie / AusAID

Photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/hgqkX2

Taking time out to volunteer abroad is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do with your life. Not only will you help improve the lives of others, you’ll help discover more about yourself. Many school leavers are pushed into university, then pushed straight into jobs. Before you know it, you’re stuck in a career that leaves you feeling empty. It’s crucial to remember that you’re still young. The world is yours for the taking! Don’t follow the well-trodden path. Look further afield. Find new adventures and discover what you really want to do with your life.

That’s why volunteering abroad is such a great option. It allows you to get away from the stresses of everyday life. By seeing the way that other cultures live, you’ll gain some perspective on the world around you. You’ll speak to new people and get a deeper insight into the planet. Volunteering, specifically, lets you get closer to other communities, and put your own struggles into perspective.

If we’ve managed to convince you, the only thing left to do is pick an adventure! The world is wide open for the taking here. Every corner of the globe is crying out for volunteers. Where will you choose, and what activity is important to you? The key thing to remember here is to follow your heart. Are you passionate about animals? Are you terrified of a future that does nothing to slow climate change? Does your heart lie with young children, and helping them make a better start? All of these and more are possible. Let’s take a look.

 

Wildlife Conservation

It’s no secret that animal communities around the planet are in grave danger. Modern forces of urbanisation are destroying habitats and natural ecosystems. Global warming is irreversibly changing the landscape we live in. Poachers and hunters are decimating animal populations on every continent. If your eyes are welling up just thinking about it, perhaps a wildlife conservation trip is for you! There are communities across the world fighting to save the natural environments of animals. You can join them and help. The best part? You’ll get up close and personal with tigers, polar bears or even pandas!

 

Environmental Conservation

The last decade has seen a major shift in public conscience. We are more concerned than ever about climate change and the devastating effects of global warming. The effects are wreaking havoc throughout the globe, meaning there are opportunities in many countries. From the shrinking ice caps in the arctic to the low lying Asian coast. There are also conservation communities helping protect the dense Amazon forest. This area of natural beauty is currently being torn apart at a fantastic rate to feed the world’s lumber supply. Perhaps you could join forces, and help slow down the process.

 

Teaching

One of the best ways to volunteer your time is to teach. Use your skills to empower an underprivileged community. Joining volunteer groups across Africa or South America will put you right in the heart of the most troubled communities. Thanks to you, they’ll learn vital skills like English and maths. It’s these basic skills that could help them escape from poverty and secure a better life. It could help their country grow and become self-sufficient. If nothing else, you’ll love watching their smiling faces as they learn and play.

 

Blue mountains

Photo credit: Adam Kubalica – https://flic.kr/p/dZaRCn

Adventure trip leader

If you’re looking for more of an adventure gap-year experience, why not become a trip leader? You can volunteer to take groups on guided tours, or take on adventure challenges. This route is perfect for adrenaline junkies! You could lead rock-climbing tours in the American Rockies. You could take a ski instructor course in the Alps or manage the bungee jumps in Australia! There are lots of possibilities here, and thousands of gap-year students are waiting to follow your lead.

 

Marine conservation

We’ve already looked at a couple of conservation ideas, but what about the ocean? If you feel a deep connection to the sea, this might be a better choice. There are some amazing marine conservation projects on theleap.co.uk, and you can be part of them. The best places in the world for marine conservation are Madagascar and the Bahamas. Here, the marine population is under threat. It’s often due to declining coral quality or human intervention. You’ll help monitor the local sealife population and map out damaged reefs. Every day, you’ll have a real impact on the ocean around you.

 

Childcare

These trips are fairly similar to teaching, but you’ll look after younger children! So, if you can’t handle the noisy teenagers and squabbling students, try the au pair route instead. You can do this all over the world. Parents and families are always looking for responsible people to look after their children. It’s even better if you can teach them some English along the way. Best of all, the family will often provide accommodation or cover your costs. Again, it’s another chance to make a positive impact on someone’s life.

 

Community building

Community building is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you consider volunteering. In this trip, you’ll immerse yourself in underprivileged communities. It might be indigenous populations, or poverty-ravaged villages across sub-Saharan Africa. Alongside others, you’ll help build wells, provide emergency healthcare, and improve their lives. Community building is perhaps the most emotionally challenging volunteer project. However, it’s also the most enriching.

 

Trail building

If the thought of travelling to Asia, Africa or South America leaves you feeling overwhelmed, why not look closer to home? For the adventurers among us, North America is in desperate need of hiking trail builders. These vast areas up and down the Rocky Mountains suffer ongoing damage and degradation. A corp of volunteers ensure these trails are accessible at all times. They keep things protected under law and make sure the habitat is as natural as possible. You’ll need the best trekking equipment, but if you’re a hiker, you’ll love it!

 

Are you feeling inspired? We certainly are! The world is full to the brim of exciting prospects and possibilities. Where would you go?

How to Design Your Own Dream Holiday

Designing your own dream holiday is an extremely exciting time. However, with so many places to see and so many things to do, it can be difficult to get started. The task itself can seem a bit daunting if you don’t know where to start. There’s nothing to say you can’t have multiple dream holidays; you just need to decide on one to begin with! Use these tips to design your own dream holiday:

 

Think About What You Want in a Holiday

Your dream holiday and somebody else’s dream holiday will not match up. Everybody has their own idea of the dream holiday they want to go on. So, the first step is to think about what you want in a holiday. Do you want to explore exciting attractions none stop? Do you want to spend all of your time relaxing? Do you want a bit of both? Amazing nightlife? Lovely people? Incredible shopping? List everything you want so that you can find the perfect place. You’re bound to find somewhere that suits you perfectly!

 

List Dream Destinations

Now you know what you want to do, think of a few destinations you’ve always wanted to go to and do your research. Which of these match up to what you want in a holiday, if any? If they don’t, you’ll need to find a brand new place that fits the bill. This can be really exciting, and mean you end up visiting somewhere totally unique that you never would have visited otherwise.

 

See a Travel Agent

You don’t necessarily need a travel agent to help you, but it can take a lot of the stress out of it for you. If you know what you want to do and where you want to go, a travel agent can find you a great deal. If you’re confident enough to do it alone, then skip this step!

 

Create an Itinerary

Create an itinerary by researching the specific things you can do in your chosen country. Remember not to pack your itinerary, as you’ll regret that once you arrive. You’ll want some time to relax and do your own thing too. You don’t want to go home more stressed out than when you arrived!

 

Stay in Luxury Accommodation

A dream holiday isn’t exactly dreamy without luxury accommodation. You can get some fantastic deals on luxury accommodation if you look on the right websites and speak to the right people. You should be able to choose from a wide range of villas, apartments, and hotels to suit your needs. Make sure you look for value for money when finding the perfect place to stay. The price should be reasonable for the features you get with your stay!

 

just a dream

Image source: Melanie Feuerer – https://flic.kr/p/omezC3

 

Set a Good Budget 

Finally, you’re going to need to set a good budget so you can have the time of your life on this holiday. Make sure you consider food, activities, attractions, and anything else you’ll be doing while you’re away. A dream holiday isn’t a dream if you’re worrying too much about money!