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Why Families Like All Inclusive Vacations

A Great Way to Enjoy a Fantastic Family Vacation and Stay Within Budget Over the years of being a travel agent, I’ve been asked frequently how a family can take a fantastic vacation filled with memories that will last for years to come, but still stay within a budget. Since there are so many options of what to do and where to go, I’ve found one consistent answer that seems to never fail. The answer, go to a family friendly all-inclusive resort. Seems like a simply answer, so let me explain why I say it. For one set price you get your ground transportation from the airport to the resort and return, the room category of your choice, all of your meals, all of your drinks (both alcoholic and non), all of your gratuities, entertainment on the resort and equipment for non-motorized water sports. You can even include the round trip air into the package, or keep it separate if you have credit card or airline mileage points to redeem. Selecting the best location and the ideal resort to match your family’s favorite activities can be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to this type of vacation. Using a travel professional to guide you through this process is wise. They’re trained on the locations and resorts and many times have personally traveled there. Working with your likes and dislikes and your budget, they’ll steer you to the best options. Once you’ve made your selection, you just place a modest deposit on it with a final payment usually due about 45-60 days in advance of your travel date. You can...

Pictures that will make you want to travel to Southern Africa

The world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent, Africa is a place of tremendous potential for a traveler. There is so much to see that often, one’s first journey here seems only to scratch the surface; somehow that’s OK. For once you’ve set your feet on the ground here, Africa seems to tighten its grip, leaving a mark on you that means you’re sure to return. My trip with G Adventures took me through Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa — all of which are truly amazing. Here’s an essay of my favorite images; how I saw these countries through my lens: With a width of 1,708m, or 5,603 ft, and a height of 108m, or 354 ft, Victoria Falls, which crosses the borders of both Zambia and Zimbabwe, is the world’s largest falling sheet of water during the rainy season. Trying to capture the enormous landscape of Victoria Falls. Market day in Harare, Zimbabwe. Street markets and local shopping are a must-do on all trips. One of the highlights of my trip was going on a safari. Here, we’re spotting for rhinos. And, we found them! Two rhinos grazing in a field. Zimbabwe’s Matobo National Park offers some unique options to get up close and personal with the rhinos. Locals are hired to protect the remaining rhinos from poaching. The views from the caves in Matobo National Park. 2000 years ago the San – bushmen – looked out over the same views. Matobo National park has some of the oldest pictographs on the planet, which were painted between 320 and 500 C.E. The stories told by local tribes in Matobo bring...

Destinations for the Thrill Seeker

Are you a travel insurance agent’s worst nightmare? Does your idea of flying home from a holiday involve taking an emergency medevac helicopter from the middle of the jungle, as you turn purple from a dare to eat a frog? Are you forever fighting the urge to launch yourself off the side of a mountain wearing a Viking helmet with something akin to a giant pillowcase strapped to your back? Those that like to live big, generally like to travel big as well. However, you don’t need an encyclopedia of “near-death” adventures from the road to want to try and experience something different on your travels. So to help get out of your comfort zone, here’s my top five thrill-seeking destinations for 2016. 1. Diving into the best of Southeast Asia in Thailand Reassuringly, for those looking to get their pulse racing on the road, Thailand has a variety of nerve-testing ways to get from Point A to Point B. The country is home to a wide array of daring transport choices, such as island-hopping long-boats, for which the concept of “staying afloat” is more an aspiration than long-term reality, and abnormally confident tuk tuk drivers who smile maniacally as they steer you narrowly from one near-bone-shattering collision to the next. While getting around Thailand may make your mother wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, for today’s voyeuristic thrill-seeker, nothing says “daring armchair adventurer” quite like visiting a Muay Thai kick-boxing tournament to watch local martial arts experts face off. Those travellers looking to dive into the best Thailand has to offer, though,...

Festivities in Germany

This blog was authored by Sarah Shannon. She lived in Germany for over 4 years and has traveled throughout Europe. There always seems to be a reason to celebrate in Germany. While Germans are known to take many things seriously (work, and recycling, for example), they really know how to let loose, and enjoy the finer things in life (i.e. beer, wine, music, and food). No matter what time of the year you visit, each season brings a reason to celebrate. Please note, that each region of Germany may have their own variation of what is mentioned, and religious holidays are celebrated throughout the country as well. These are wonderful traditions, that can be enjoyed by anyone, but described here will be the general festivals found around the country, throughout the year. Beginning in spring, and going through the summer, towns around Germany hold their annual volksfest, which translates to “people’s festival.” This is a great time to celebrate the mild weather, and is usually comprised of carnival rides, games, plenty of food vendors, and beer tents, where music can be enjoyed. The bigger cities will usually start, and end, the volksfest with fireworks, a rare occurrence, but done big, and beautifully. These are massive events for larger cities, such as Nuremberg, and can be a very fun break from the usual tourist attractions. Other than volksfests, bratwurst competitions, wine festivals, and music celebrations, occur during the summer months, so you are sure to find something to enjoy. Moving along to fall, perhaps the most well known festival in the world takes place-Oktoberfest. This two week super party starts...

“Shadows on the Land” dispatch Apr 5

7:00PM More Darwin Sunsets I find it fascinating how quickly the sun sets in Darwin. But in that brief span of a few minutes, its warm, colored display is brilliant. Went for a walk yesterday evening in the park next to the hotel. A good number of people were out enjoying an evening that wasn’t too humid. And many others were preparing to take photos of the sun setting over the sea. You snap a lot of pictures in the span of several brief moments with the hope that some will adequately capture the spectacle you are witnessing before the window of time quickly shuts and nighttime officially takes over....

“Shadows on the Land” dispatch Mar 31

3:30AM – Yellow Waters Cruise Got up early from my stay at Cooinda Lodge and hopped on a boat to see the world-famous Yellow Water Wetlands in Kakadu National Park. The early departure insured a spectacular sunrise over the water of the South Alligator River as we headed out to see an array of wildlife waking up to a new day. The river system, the largest in Kakadu, contains extensive wetlands that include river channels, floodplains and backwater swamps. One third of Australia’s bird species are represented in Kakadu National Park, with at least 60 species found in the wetlands. Whistling Ducks and Magpie Geese are the most abundant. There are also plenty of crocodiles in their natural habitat. 4AM – Nourlangie Rock Art Site There are a number of natural shelters in and around this large stone outcropping. The shelters contain several impressive rock art paintings that deal with Aboriginal mythology. Although the full details of the stories connected to these artworks are known only to certain Aboriginal people, interpretive signage helped explain enough to me to make some sense of what these paintings represent. Namondjok is the central figure of the upper part of the first photo. To the right sits Namarrgon, a lightning being who plays a central role in Aboriginal creation legends. The white band that links his ankles, head and hands is a lightning bolt. He also causes thunder by hitting clouds with an axe. I hope these photos do at least a little justice to how amazing it is to see this rock art in person. 4:30AM – Lookout from Mount Cahill In...

“Shadows on the Land” dispatch Mar 15

1:30AM – first sunny day in Cairns Well, the rain stopped, the storms finally moved on, and the sun decided to show its face today. So did a lot of people. Cairns came to life today with tons of people out and about. Tour operators were also back in business, and I suppose Cairns got back to its true self as people emerged from their restless cabin fever of this past week. By 7:30 this morning people were heading to and fro and lining up to go on tours. I also had a bit of cabin fever myself, and felt the strong need to get out in the sun and do something and see something different. I ended up taking a harbor cruise of Cairns, which, despite the name, spent little time in and around Cairns’ harbor. Instead, we ventured up one of the many inlets feeding into the harbor, fed by the mountains that ring Cairns. The inlets are 98% salt water and lined on both sides by various Australian mangrove trees. Mangroves are interesting trees that are doing quite a bit to survive in their environment. Mangroves protect coastal areas from erosion and storm surge. Their massive root systems are efficient at dissipating wave energy, allowing sediment to be deposited as the tide comes in. They are a salt tolerant tree, and what’s interesting is that the tree will direct all the salt it is absorbing to specific leaves, which then turn yellow and fall off the tree and back into the water. Crocodiles hang out on the muddy banks under these trees and feed mostly on...

“Shadows on the Land” dispatch Mar 11

2AM – Rainy day in Cairns My second day in Cairns saw thick, low clouds and intermittent rain throughout the day. Still, the day was productive. I decided to head over to the Cairns City Library, which is about a block away from where I am staying. I researched their online database and discovered two books that I thought could really help in my research of the Stolen Generations period in Australian history. As it turns out, I ended up spending the majority of the day sitting in the library and reading the first book, which included a great deal about the Kinchela Boys Home. This is one of the government institutions where young boys were taken. It wasn’t a pleasant place, and it wasn’t run by the best of people, either. The account had some great details that helped to really paint a picture of what it was like for Aboriginal boys in this institution. Here’s a small excerpt from the book: “It’s just another stage in life in which he’s carried along by events he knows he can never control, ever since they came to his house without warning all them years ago and grabbed him and his sisters and took them away, took them far away forever.” Can you imagine what that must have been like for these young children (five to ten years in age) to be taken, and then to be brought up in a cold institution where little care and concern was given to them by those in charge? This may sound depressing, but it also shows some remarkable resilience. I’ll have to...

“Shadows on the Land” dispatch Mar 10

3:30AM – Welcome to Cairns Have been in Cairns for about 24 hours and have acclimated myself to these new surroundings. Cairns is a tropical city, and right away, there’s no denying the area’s heavy humidity even more than its hot temperatures. Walk down any street and all the storefronts have awnings or canopies over the sidewalks – not only to protect customers from the sun but also from the sudden rain showers. It’s actually raining and thundering outside my window as I write this entry at 7:50 in the evening. Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and to numerous other rugged outdoor adventures. The area attracts droves of young globetrotting twenty years olds. Every street is filled with cheap backpacking hostels right next to tour offices that will book any adventure-minded fun-in-the-sun activities. You can even rent a small van and live out of it with your buddies, if you like. With such a concentration of young people, Cairns certainly has a college, party town vibe to it. There are quick eat restaurants, coffee barristers, beer bars and ice cream parlors on about every corner. Cairns is also known for its ocean side boardwalk and manmade lagoon where you can swim and sun in a huge infinity pool that’s free to the public. My room is on the sixth floor and overlooks the lagoon, pier front, and ocean. Lush mountains ring the city. I was walking down one street this morning when I heard all these birds squawking. They really were sounding the same as when a newborn infant cries. But when I passed under...

“Shadows on the Land” dispatch Mar 04

4:30PM – Museum Day – Darling Harbour Indoor Sports Spent the day at three museums, all with Aboriginal displays. I first went to The Rocks Discovery Museum. This was a very small museum housed in of the earliest built structures in Sydney. It had a small exhibit on the local Aboriginal people who encounter the First Fleet. I then headed over to the Government House to see several pieces of art related to that first encounter between white settlers and the aboriginal people. Unfortunately, a special event was taking place, and it was temporarily closed to the public. I then walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens on my way over to the Art Gallery of NSW. I was very impressed with the botanic gardens. It was lush, peaceful, an oasis in the midst of a very bustling city. I have been taken by the fig trees all over Sydney. These trees are massive, and their trunks and roots system are huge. Compare this tree to the people around it to get a sense of just how big and old these trees are.   5PM – Art Gallery of New South Wales – Darling Harbour Indoor Sports At the Art Gallery of NSW, I was very impressed with the Aboriginal art on display. Many of the works went beyond the typical dot paintings that characterize so much of Aboriginal art. Some of my favorite pieces included these. The first painting shows a complex layering design that creates an optical effect and embodies the aboriginal idea of elements being both visible and invisible at the same time. The second painting represents...