Expert Travel Reviews

The Animal Kingdom

March 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998 was the culmination of an eight year long process that began with a simple idea. The idea was to create a traditional theme park (much like an Epcot style pavilion) and marry it to a non-traditional zoo. This was the idea proposed by Joe Rohde (Imagineering Concept Designer) to Michael Eisner (then CEO of the Walt Disney Company).

The park is, as Disney trumpets, a very different experience in interacting with animals. Every location in the park has been designed beautifully, with meticulous attention paid to making the animals feel comfortable in their environment. Because of this, you will almost never feel as if you are separated from the animals as the barriers in between look very natural or altogether invisible.

The 500-acre park is designed conceptually like a wheel. At the heart of the wheel is the Tree of Life, from which radiates various lands. Among these weird and wonderful places you will find the Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Dinoland USA and Asia. The park has a few fun excursions like a short journey into the Savannah called Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest which will whisk you off to find the elusive Yeti while Dinosaur will take you back in time to the Cretaceous Period. Throw in the fabulous plant life and wide variety of animals and you begin to see that the park is really a great place to visit.

But a word of warning, this is not a place for those who come looking for “rides”. This park is all about observing animals in their natural habitat with as little interference as possible and learning about them. For those who come here with that mindset it can be a fantastic experience that will leave them wanting more.

Top Five Paradises

March 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Vacation time is around the corner and you probably need to find a great place to go to. Here are the top five most exotic places to go to in the world:

1. Barbados – Located in the Caribbean, Barbados is the island to visit. The fauna and flora is amazing and the white, sandy beaches are absolutely heavenly. Barbados is a popular vacation spot for top celebrities, politicians and even businessmen. The most luxurious hotel on the island is Sandy Lane which is complete with a state-of-the-art spa, with all treatments based on Far East and Caribbean traditions.

2. Lombok – An island in Indonesia, Lombok is ideal if you are looking for a nice, peaceful and quiet vacation. Choose the Oberoi Lombok Hotel, which is situated on the North Eastern coastline. This is a superb location, as it is right opposite three tiny exotic coral islands. The hotel has 20 luxury villas and 30 bungalows.

3. Bali – Known popularly as ‘the pearl of the world’ and ‘the islands of the gods’, Bali lives up to its name. It is one of the most expensive and prestigious holidaying locations. Stay at the award winning five star Ritz Carlton located in Jimbaran Bay. The hotel has 36 villas, which come complete with a private pool.

4. Mauritius – A vacation for the elite. The five star Le Saint Geran hotel in Mauritius is the place to stay, and is on a private peninsula. A favorite amongst Hollywood celebrities and royal families, Mauritius discourages the usual tourist traffic and is available only to a select crowd.

5. Seychelles, Fregate – This is a private location in Seychelles. The Fregat Island Private is the only hotel on the island and has 16 villas located in the midst of a tropical forest. The restaurants, the water sports, the beach, the snorkeling – you name it, they are all great!

Six Tips For Avoiding Hidden Hotel Fees

March 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The revenue hotels earn from telephone calls, internet fees, fitness centers, the business center and other charges have tripled over the years. Recently an investigation conducted regarding four Wyndham establishments by Florida’s attorney general led to a settlement of $2.3 million and a new requirement that all hotel fees be disclosed straight up. Wyndham has agreed to now make this part of their system across the country. The rest of the hotels however, could be slow on the uptake, so here are a few tips to avoid hidden fees at hotels:

Avoid top business hotels. These hotels cater exclusively to business travelers and are quite intent on helping them on spending their per diem.
Choose hotels that are against hidden fees. Take for example Omni and Kimpton who now have free Wi-Fi in the lobby.

If you are booking a hotel online, do it directly on the hotel sites. If you find a great deal online, it would be best if you compare the rates on the third party website with the hotel website.

It is always wiser to ask the hotel to prepare your bill the night before you check out. This way you have time to scrutinize the bill and check on charges you were unaware of, etc. If you get caught up in the rush at the time of checking out, chances are, you would not go into the details of the bill and then, hidden charges will go unnoticed.

Do not be ashamed to haggle. If you are a frequent guest or a member of a loyalty club, feel free to ask for a daily ‘best’ rate on phone calls and other services.

The obvious must never be overlooked. Always ask if there is a service charge before tipping, bring in your own bottled water so you do not have to use the mini bar and so on and so forth.

Explore The Beauty Of Hawaiian Islands

March 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Hawaiian Islands are among the top travel destinations in the whole world. Each year a lot of people choose to take up a Hawaii trip and enjoy the unique beauty of these heavenly islands. However, it is indeed difficult to decide which island to visit.

Each of them seems to be a separate part of land, a separate world, with its unique nature, its unique culture and places of interest. You may choose to go to the Kauai island and enjoy the luxury of its virgin nature or to the Maui island, which may be a suitable decision for those who prefer sea, sunny beaches and miraculous sunsets.

If you are a fan of active and crazy life, Oahu island is the right place for you. At Molokai you will be able to enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature and you may be sure that the feeling of inner harmony will accompany you during the whole day.

All these islands are indeed very attractive, but if I were given this chance, my choice would definitely be the Hawaii island, also called the Big Island. There are a lot of places and factors that make this island a must-see place: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where tourists have the opportunity to experience the beauty and mister of two active volcanoes; the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, golf centers, marvelous starlit sky, historical buildings, green and black sand beaches, water activities and so on.

The choice of the island as a travel destination depends on the character and likings of a person. It’s impossible to deny that all of them are indeed uniquely beautiful and are worth visiting. And no matter which of the Hawaii vacation deals you choose and where you decide to travel to, you are sure to enjoy your Hawaii vacation.

Tips for Vacationing on a Budget

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling is a great way to see the world, but with the rising cost of living, traveling on a budget now seems to be a prerequisite.

If you are on a low cost trip, the first thing you should do is to establish a budget for yourself. Once you have established an amount, then it is easier for you to decide how much you can afford to spend on other factors such as hotel, traveling and food etc. Once you have decided how much you are spending on each of these things, then you need to look around for the best deals in town.

When putting together a budget, first decide what is most important for you on the trip. In this manner, prioritize each item on your list. This could vary per traveler. Some would consider staying in top hotels a priority, while others would rather spend on good food.

The easiest deals to find are discounted rates on entrance tickets to museums, amusement parks and other such attractions. Start looking on the internet. You are sure to dig up one deal or the other, be it either free admission for kids or special discounted hours and sometimes even discounts on bed and breakfast.

If you are a senior citizen or in the military, then, there are heaps of discounts available for you. Just ensure that you do the necessary research to find out what you are entitled to.

If you are driving your car on this trip, you have to ensure that your fuel consumption is under control, and thus, it is important that you find the best route possible.

Regardless of whether or not your trip is a budget trip, you are sure to have fun. Enjoy!

Selecting a Virtual Travel Specialist

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel specialists are usually sought when you are planning a trip. Nowadays, they are just a thing of the past. Instead, your travel specialist is now the World Wide Web.

Here are a few tips on how you can select the best options:

Websites – When looking at websites online, take a look at how the website is designed and its content. A travel website should include all the necessary information which is current and covers everything you need. The website should include the basic contact details of the travel specialist, and it should not be hard to find. Other details that should be included on the website are maps, cost of the trip and directions.

Visible track record – Perhaps you have already found a great website, but you need to ascertain if the travel specialist is a good one. And this unfortunately is easier said than done. Here are the factors you need to assess: the travel specialist should be listed on the tourist board lists and other related industry association lists; read up client testimonials and other references.

Knowledge and experience – Ascertain how knowledgeable the travel specialist is regarding the destination you wish to visit. It is also important that the travel specialist is one who is well experienced and not a newbie in the field.

Location – Find out if the travel specialist is located in the country you are travelling to. If not, you need to ask him to put you in touch with someone there, in case you need certain changes done on your itinerary.

Client service – The travel specialist should be reached easily when required. If not, then it is time you found a new one.

How to Get the Best Seat In Coach

March 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Selecting your seat on an airline is not as easy as it used to be. Now, most airlines have started charging for seating preferences. Here are a few tips on how to get the best seat without paying anything:

Fly during the off peak season – during this time, you are sure to get a good seat. Even if you do not, there is always a good chance that you can switch seats.

Take advantage of frequent flyer privileges – if you are one of those who is a frequent flyer, do not hesitate to check if you are entitled to good seats.

Sit at the back – this way, you can be assured that you most likely will have an empty seat by your side. The best options to choose are the ones at the back which are seats located by the aisle or even a window seat.

Online check-in – if you check-in online you might be able to get that seat you want. It is worth a try.

Early bookings – the earlier you book, the better chance you have at reserving the seats you want. Most airlines allow bookings to be made as early as 11 months prior to the flight date.

Seat configuration – ensure that you find out what kind of aircraft you will be flying. This will tell you what the seats are like. For instance, the Boeing 757 has a single centre aisle and six-seat rows on either side; in which case, you would need to ensure that you either book a window
seat or one by the aisle.

Do not hesitate to ask – if the seat assigned to you seems awful, do not hesitate to request for a better seat. If you check-in early enough, the chances are that your request will be honored.

For more tips on traveling visit Hotel Traveler Reviews. It offers hotel and travel reviews from vacations spots around the world.

Affordable Disney Vacations

March 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Disney vacations are awesome, but they can be expensive. Here are a few ideas that might help you get that Disney vacation, but at a lower cost.

Annual Pass – every single Disneyland has an annual pass, which lets you frequent the park a number of times per year. This advance payment you make initially ensures that you do not need to keep making payments to enter the park. The annual pass cost is also comparatively lower to what you would have to pay for a normal ticket. In order to make this purchase profitable, you need to visit Disneyland at least three to four times during that year. If you do not plan to do so, then purchasing the annual pass would be an absolute loss.

Park tickets – One fact that most people do not know about Disneyland is that multiple tickets must be purchased if each theme park is to be visited. In this case, you will end up spending a lot more than anticipated. Instead, buy one ticket that will gain you admission to every single theme park at Disneyland. These tickets can either be purchased online or at the main ticket counter there.

Disney Rewards card – This Visa card will give you points for every time you visit Disneyland and whenever you buy something using it. The reward points you collect can be availed the next time you visit Disneyland – and can be set off against the ticket purchases you make. Having the Disney Visa card also means you will get a lot of free stuff which could include anything from merchandise to free visits and a lot more.

Steer clear of peak seasons – If you visit Disneyland during an off peak season, then the tickets are priced much lower. This is ideal, especially if you are taking your entire family. This will also mean a lesser crowd, which means that you can enjoy Disneyland much better.

Where to Shop in Bangkok

March 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In Bangkok, finding places to shop is never a problem. It is a good idea though to know where to shop and what prices to expect. If you check out the shopping centers at hotels, be warned that they are mainly for foreigners and are thus fairly expensive. Instead, try the outdoor markets. They are the cheaper options, especially if you like bargaining.

Supermarkets are far more clean and hygienic, and obviously are of a better standard than the outdoor food markets. This is useful to know, especially if you are uncomfortable buying your food from vendors in the outdoor markets.

Shopping
Rama I, Ploenchit and the Ratchadamri road as well as the Siam Square area are the more fashionable areas to shop in and is home to a number of big shopping centers like the 8 storey World Trade, Tokyu Department Store, Bangkok’s biggest department store chain Central Chidlom Department Store, Sogo, Peninsula Plaza and many more.

Siam Square is not even a square, but a huge shopping area. This area is quite popular for its clothes shops, which teenagers frequent quite a bit. The Square also has internet cafes, fast food restaurants and book shops.

Silom, Surawong and Rama IV road – Visit the Patpong night market which is a tourist favorite, but tends to be a bit overpriced and awfully crowded. Good deals only come about by hard bargaining. Narai, Dusit Thani and Montien are all bigger hotels that have their own shopping centers but as mentioned earlier, they are overly expensive. The Silom Complex Department Store is located here and so is Robinson’s Department Store and the Thaniya Plaza shopping centre.

Packing Tips

March 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people will pack for a fortnight even if it is for a three-day weekend, while others just pack the bare essentials, and in most cases end up forgetting important stuff like medicine. To be well versed in traveler knowhow, follow these tips:

How to pack
If you usually pack your clothes by folding them like you do when you put them away in your cupboard, then it is a pointless task as it is bound to get crushed anyways. Here are a few other ways to get it right.

Roll them – This is a simple step. For a t-shirt, lay it down, fold the sleeves and then roll it up. You can do the same with pants and skirts.

Fold everything together – By rolling a few things together, you provide some kind of cushioning for each item of clothing, which means the likelihood of them being crushed is low.

Tissue paper – If you need to pack delicate and expensive clothes, then perhaps tissue paper might be a good idea. Put a piece of tissue on the item of clothing and then fold it up. Adding this layer of tissue paper will keep your good clothes crease-free.

Travelling by air
Put all your gel and liquid items in your main luggage. If you must carry some of them, ensure that they are 3 oz or less, and put them into a clear, zip lock bag – otherwise it is likely it could get confiscated by airport security personnel.
Ensure you know how many bags you are allowed to carry, their weight and size.

Stuffing your bag will lead to further difficulties when chosen for closer inspection. This could mean more creases and even lost items.