Friday, July 20, 2012

The Absolute Top 10 Things You Should Look For in a Hostel

Considering that about the 90% of all people during their college years actually travel booking hostels, the offer is very broad and you can get confused and lose track of what is that separates the best places to stay from the regular ones.

You probably have already read the reviews and check the prices for the hostels in the city you're traveling to, but there are a few things that you should always keep in mind when selecting where you're going to stay on your next trip.

Here we have assemble a simple list with the top 10 things you can use as a guide to find a hostel that suits your needs, and though is not bulletproof, it can get you very close to what you might be expecting.

1. A good location

And by this, it doesn't mean that it has to be right next to the train station or airport you're arriving to, or in the middle of a central area, just somewhere where you can get to those places in less than 10 minutes on any kind of transportation, metro/bus. Use the 20 kilometers rule; if it's farther than that distance from a central area, find someplace else to stay because otherwise you'll be spending a lot of time and money traveling there all the time. Always look at the map to find the location of the hostel you're reviewing, all the good booking sites have that available.

2. Linens included

Always look for places that include a full set of linens in the price of your stay (pillowcase included) and blankets, if possible. Consider that some places can get very chilly and you most certainly will need a blanket, and those can get very expensive, if hired per night. Some places can charge up to 5 eur a night for a simple blanket. Not to mention all the extra space you can use to pack more clothes if you don't have to carry your linens with you. Also, it would be great if the towels are also included in the price, and there are many hostels that offer this full service.

3. Lockers

This is a big plus you should always look for, because you're going to have to leave your things back at the hostel when you go sightseeing or out at night. Some hostels offer big lockers where you can store your whole backpack, while others might give you some small lockers just to store your documentation papers. Though the best option is the first one, the crucial issue is to provide a safe place for you to store your passport and other important documents. Remember, clothes you can replace, papers is going to take a lot of time and effort with the embassy to reissue.

4. Breakfast included

This is a service you'll find at any decent hostel. Usually the standard breakfast includes cereal, toasts, coffee, and fruit juices; and can sometimes also include some pastries, fruits and tes. Some hostels give their guests vouchers for some nearby caffe. You don't have to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast every morning, but it can help you save some money.

5. No curfew

Certainly not every hostel has its own bar, and even though, you may still want to go outside to a restaurant or a nightclub or just to wander the city at night. It's important to stay at a hostel that allows you to come back at whatever time you want, without the risk of being locked outside.

6. Laundry room

This is a very convenient service to have at a hostel. Some hostels offer the valet service, where the hostel staff take care of the task for you, while others just provide you with the facilities for you to wash your own clothes. Either way is fine, you just need a place to take care of your dirty clothes without having to go outside with a bag full of it to try to find and open launderette. The best places to look for are equipped with both, washer and dryer. Though it seems redundant, some hostels don't offer both

7. A common room
Most people who stay at hostels like to meet and mingle with other guests, and not every hostel has its own bar, so the best way to meet new people it's at the common rooms. Look for places that have at least one decent size common room, preferably with a pool table and/or foosball table and a big screen TV with some movies to watch. Some hostels offer a wide variety of dvd movies to pick from.

8. Kitchen facilities

The main point of staying at a hostel is to save some money on your accommodations, so staying in for lunch or dinner is a great way to save extra money. Hostels that offer a full kitchen where you can cook your own meals are the best option. For sure, you're not going to take all of your meal in, but it can help your budget to have that available. Some hostels offer free dry pasta, rice, and other food that can come very handy.

9. 24 hours reception

This is a very useful service, specially if you're not arriving at regular hours, or if you plan to go out at night and don't want to rely on having to take the key to the hostel with you, which is not recommended to begin with. It's nice to know that there will always be someone there to assist you no matter what time it is. Also, a friendly staff is also a plus in any situation or hostel you book. You can find this tip on the review for each hostel on any good hostel booking page.

10. Access to internet

This is a must have for any hostel. Most of your information, places to see, prices, locations, you're going to get from the internet, not to mention communicating with your loved ones at home, so you need to have a reliable internet connection on your hostel. Ideally, free wifi and laptops is the best option, because you can also access from your smartphone, but some hostels offer desktop computers connected that can also be very useful.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Magical Primary School Trip Destination

For educators thinking of taking their class on a primary school trip, there are a number of important decisions to make, and foremost among them is the choice of destination. Of all the options, Paris has some of the most appealing characteristics: close enough and with enough in common with home to feel safe and familiar, but different and surprising enough to let pupils expand their knowledge and experience. There is plenty in Paris to inspire the young, whether they are budding artists or scientists, future innovators or leaders - and plenty to entertain and fascinate them while learning. Here are just a few of the wonders that await.

The Sights of Paris

A primary school trip to Paris is a chance to visit some of Europe's most iconic buildings and structures, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. The Eiffel Tower is a miraculous feat of engineering, with an interesting background and wonderful views; the beautiful Notre Dame is a great focus for talking about the history and culture of Paris. Both of these attractions are also a good opportunity for young artists to try out their sketching skills. Another fantastic way to see Paris is a cruise along the river Seine, a leisurely journey through the heart of the city from where many beautiful and interesting areas can be observed. Or head to the top of Montparnasse Tower, from where the whole of Paris can be seen.

Musée d'Orsay

Paris is perfect for young art lovers, filled as it is with elegant architecture, modern chic, and some of the best art that Europe has to offer. It has enough galleries to fill up several weeks' worth of visits, but for primary school trip organisers with limited time, the Musée d'Orsay is an ideal choice - both for the inspiring atmosphere created by the building and the art contained within. Converted from a beautiful old railway station, it is a wonderful, light-filled space in which to discover the wonders of its collection - including colourful masterpieces by Monet, Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir and Van Gogh.

Disneyland Paris

Undoubtedly one of the reasons for young students to get most excited about their primary school trip to Paris, Disneyland promises a fun-filled adventure with plenty of learning opportunities along the way. Made up of five different 'lands', this famous theme park is packed with characters and rides to enchant visitors of all ages - but especially the young. Fantasyland is populated with favourite fairy tale characters from classic Disney movies; Adventureland is brimming with the excitement of pirates and strange new lands to discover; and Discoveryland takes bold explorers into space, the future, and beyond. All of these adventures can be enjoyed while observing the laws of science in action, as students take to the rides.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Top Historical Sites in Vietnam

If you are interested in the religious or wartime history of South East Asia it is most definitely worth booking a place on one of the many exciting Vietnam tours. The knowledgeable guides will be able to give you an ideal introduction to the fascinating sites highlighted in this article. There are many must-see destinations in this wonderful country, but these are just a few.

Halong Bay
This beautiful coastal area has long been an inspiration to the creative people of Vietnam. One of the 18th century kings was so taken by the magnificence of the overlooking Bai Tho Mountains that he inscribed his words into the sacred ground. On Vietnam tours you may hear the poem recited in the native language by locals. It is a delight to wander around the many beautiful coves in this most picturesque of places.

Hoi An

Asian craftspeople have been creating masterpieces to sell in the shops of Hoi An for many centuries. The travellers of today can browse through many and varied collectible items, which make perfect holiday gifts. After indulging in some retail therapy you might like to have a refreshing cup of Vietnamese tea at one of the authentic family run cafés.

Old French Prison and Museum
This fascinating place once acted as a camp for French anti-colonial revolutionaries. It was badly damaged during a subsequent American bombing raid. Many Vietnam tours incorporate a visit to the museum, which contains a range of exhibits highlighting the suffering of people who were once kept here against their will. Visitors of all ages and nationalities can learn a great deal about the importance of human rights in this place.

War Remnants Museum
The atrocities and brutalities of the war are evidenced by the various exhibitions at this museum. Visitors can view the startling photographs and videos revealing the great trials that the local people endured. It is also worth taking a look at the large armoured vehicles, planes and helicopters on show in this educational centre.

Chùa Tran Quoc

This great temple was built over 1500 years ago, in honour of the almighty Buddha. It remains as one of the most impressive religious structures in South East Asia, visited by many on Vietnam tours. After learning about the local religious history, travellers will have the opportunity to explore the surrounding grounds and see a diverse range of wild animals.

Hanoi Opera House
This grand entertainment venue was built under the colonial rule of the French - modelled on the splendid Palais Garnier. A number of awe-inspiring performers have taken to the stage in recent years. If you want to see one of the many ballets or operas then it's advisable to make an advanced booking.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Amenities For Condos On The Beach

Condos on the beach create a relaxing combination of hotel amenities and the conveniences of home. You truly get to have your vacation your way. You can do some things for yourself while leaving the heavy lifting and party recovery to the staff of your choice of accommodations. Most vacations focus on the city and the beach, but the place where you will convene with your loved one's each day and rest your head each night is equally as important. When you find a luxurious condo that doesn't have a luxurious price tag, it elevates your relaxation upon your return each day. But first you have to find the right location, size, and amenities to fit your needs and the needs of your accompanying guests.

The general vacation amenities start with the type of unit that you would like. The higher the floor you select the grander the view will be, and the larger the unit the more expansive the view - occasionally greater than 180 degree views. You can go for a 1, 2, 3, or 4 bedroom unit that can accommodate either you and your significant other or an entire bridal party or family vacation. There is living space, washer and dryer access and kitchens in each unit for your convenience.

But on top of those basic amenities, there are some home away from home communities of condos for vacationers who want that simple, relaxed vacation environment. They offer all of the creature comforts of home with a little extra to help improve the appeal of your time to relax. There are fitness centers, tennis courts, grills, tables, and extra chairs near the pool and hot tub for outdoor gatherings. There is also wireless internet for the professional that can't completely get away and covered parking for the vacationer who likes freedom in their vacation days. But if they wish to stay nearer to their condo, there are sun decks and beach side service for drinks and towels.

Lastly, resort vacation condos offer specials throughout their open seasons for romantic getaways, friendly retreats, family adventures, and special events like weddings each year. A common special that works for many vacationers is the 6 night stay with the 7th night free; it is appealing for spring breaks, winter holiday breaks and especially summer vacation with the children. But when it comes to amenities, the objective of investing in a stay in one of the world's many beach condos is to enjoy the comforts of home along with the relaxing advantages of being on vacation.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Preparing for a Day at a Theme Park

A theme park filled with rides of magic, fantasy, science fiction and a little horror thrown in, along with shows, music, food, and shops, is one of the most amazing places for children of all ages. That's why there's such a variety of entertainment. However, these phenomenal experiences tend to come with lots of not so fun things like pricey entrance fees and food costs, long lines everywhere you go, and cranky children if they have to stand around too long. There are some things that you can do, though, that will make your day at a theme park even more fun than you thought it might be.

The first thing you need to do is get ready for your trip. Theme parks constantly update their attractions and the rides. So even if you've visited a particular park in the past, research that park and collect any new information about it that may be available. If a map is available, get one and have a family meeting to decide the best ways to spend your time while you're at the park. In this way, you'll arrive ready to go and not have to take a lot of breaks to decide what you'll do next.

Once you arrive at the theme park, take note of where the biggest crowds are. Then, go in another direction. Many times the crowds flock to the rides located nearest to the entrance. If this is the case when you and your family arrive, consider heading to the back of the park and make your way to the front. You'll have more fun because the lines will be shorter. In addition, you'll be near the exit when you're ready to leave.

Plan your eating schedule a little differently. Most people will be eating lunch between noon and 2 PM. However, if you eat lunch a little earlier or later, you'll have a more relaxed meal without having to deal with a huge crowd. In addition, you'll get to waste less time eating because of the shorter lines.

Something that many people don't think about is that you'll be doing lots of walking while you're at the theme park. For this reason, you need to get in a bit more exercise before the trip. A few weeks prior, start taking walks so that you can have your body ready for all of the walking you'll be doing at the theme park. It's also a good idea to break in any new shoes that you might be wearing.

If you're going to be carrying a backpack through the park, don't load it down with heavy stuff. Pack only necessary items and use trial size products. You can pick up small sizes in things such as sunscreen, energy bars, toilet seat covers, toilet tissue and other things in department and dollar stores. Also, do your souvenir shopping right before you leave so that you're not carrying heavy items around all day.

Last, but not least, be flexible. You can plan your trip right down to the last detail, but things can always happen that will turn things around. So don't be on a rigid schedule when you visit your favorite theme park. Relax and have fun!