The Burj khalifa

Top tips when visiting Dubai

Dubai is a modern, glamorous and cosmopolitan city. However, it also has a very different culture to the West, meaning you will notice some key differences during your stay. It is a good idea to be aware of certain dos and don’ts before you travel to Dubai, to ensure that you don’t offend the local population or, even worse, end up getting in trouble with the law. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your time in Dubai.

Dubai city

Use the Right Greetings

It is a good habit to use the appropriate greetings when you visit Dubai. You don’t have to master Arabic to do this, but at least try to learn to say ‘as-salam alaykum’ when you meet someone, which means ‘peace be with you’. If someone says this to you, respond with ‘wa alaykum as-salaam’, which means ‘peace upon you’.

Also, be careful when greeting people of the opposite sex. Don’t reach out to shake hands automatically as this may not be appropriate. To avoid any awkwardness, wait until they reach out their hand instead.

Know the Rules Regarding Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is only permitted in a place that holds a licence. Whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol in the street as you could get into trouble with the authorities. If you have any doubt at all, the best thing to do is avoid drinking alcohol.

You can always ask in your hotel for advice, and you don’t have to stay in the Burj Al Arab because many hotels are used to hosting Westerners. For instance, you can find some places at a fraction of the price that may have a licence for serving alcohol.

The Burj khalifa

Dress Appropriately

Dressing appropriately is one of the biggest issues for tourists. As a general rule, you should avoid dressing in anything particularly skimpy unless you are on the beach, as this could be considered inappropriate. Instead, wear modest dress and try to cover up as much as possible. Be especially careful if you enter a mosque. Men should wear trousers and a shirt, and women should wear something that covers their bodies as well as a head scarf. Everyone should remove their shoes before entering a mosque.

Avoid Public Displays of Affection

It is best to avoid any public displays of affection in Dubai to avoid any problems. You could get into trouble even if you are behaving in a way that is entirely appropriate back home, so don’t take the risk.

Be Respectful During Ramadan

If you travel to Dubai during the month of Ramadan, you should be particularly careful that you respect the local customs. This is a holy month for the Muslim population, who will be fasting during daylight hours. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public during the day and ask at your hotel for advice about how and where to eat.

Enjoy Your Time in Dubai

Dubai is a fantastic destination for a holiday, but make sure you observe the above cultural tips during your stay. You may not agree with all of them, but by respecting the local customs and laws, you will be able to avoid any problems during your stay and enjoy your time here even more.

Alex Kennedy will never forget her first trip to Dubai when she fell in love with the place. Also an avid traveller and writer, she likes to visit Dubai at every opportunity.

Resources:

http://www.definitelydubai.com/

http://www.dubaitourism.ae/

 

Don't drink too much!

4 Unmissable Stag Destinations

A stag do is the last day of freedom (or so tradition tells us) to end life as a bachelor and start a new chapter as a loving husband. Before any man can enter marriage it is imperative that he is treated to a night out that he will never forget or remember depending on how you look at it.

Don't drink too much!

Over recent years the ideal for many stag groups is to pack up their suitcases, book the flights and head overseas for a fun-filled weekend in the sun; however with so much choice available the decision-making process can become long-winded and difficult.

Having recently had the privilege of being a best man for my best friend’s wedding I was given the responsibility to arrange the stag party with the help of some of the other groomsmen. After discussion and careful consideration we successfully chose our destination and activities to act as a rite of passage to family life.

Although it all came together successfully in the end, as previously suggested, the process was rather difficult, stressful and long-winded. With such an array of fantastic locations and potential activities available it is easy to become overwhelmed and because of this many best men offload all of the responsibilities to an external stag do planning company. External planners are great if you are short of time, however such convenience comes at higher price therefore if you are operating within a tight budget it is better to be proactive and organise the event yourself.

With all this in mind, below I have highlighted 4 of the best locations to visit for a great weekend away with the rest of the lads.

Las Vegas

Vegas and stag nights reminds me of The Hangover. Undoubtedly this is the champion’s destination of all bachelor party locations. Las Vegas, also known as Sin City, isn’t for the light-hearted or a stag party on budget for that matter. It doesn’t deserve its reputation for nothing!

Dublin

Ireland’s capital city is a haven of generous hospitality and home to Guinness and traditional Irish Bars. Dublin is without doubt one of the world’s greatest cities and is magical place perfect for a stag weekend full of an array of pubs and clubs. To get the most out of your money remember to look for the best exchange rates on your currency.

Amsterdam

Regardless to what you decide to do on your weekend away to Amsterdam hopefully it will be a weekend you remember. Despite popular preconceptions the capital of Holland offers more than just space cakes and ladies of the night. The stag do can be as laid back or fully loaded as you like; with its laidback and cultured setting you may be surprised how much extra the Dutch Capital has to offer.

Prague

This is widely regarded as the pinnacle of international stag dos. The Czech capital is a monumental destination to visit and is sure to get all of the lads excited. It delivers quality beers and all in all an amazing looking city.

And a bonus for you:

Algarve

This location is perfect for stag groups who are after a weekend of guaranteed good weather. With its sun-kissed beaches, manicured golf courses and its alfresco nightlife what’s not to love with the Algarve region? Portugal’s southerly destination is one of the wealthiest regions of the country and has over 70 golf courses. If you are looking for a relaxing stag break and a healthy sun tan combined, this is the ideal destination.

Rows of caravans

5 tips for caravan holidays

A caravan means a great, cheap and mobile exploration of the world (or the country, whatever you prefer.) However, many like to think on the assurance of a good holiday in a static caravan too. As such, there’s a whole load of things to consider going off for a holiday, and not just about dusting the cobwebs out of the corners of a caravan. Here’s a list of some things to think about when considering your next great holiday.

Rows of caravans

Where am I going?

The site is often the most important part of a holiday, so make sure to get it right! If your travels take you to a static caravan, then be aware that being a noisy neighbour is not so welcome. So don’t pack too many drums! You don’t have the same sort of issues if you’re in a single touring caravan, but then there are issues of sanitation, electricity and the like to consider. The Caravan Club is the authority on destination and travel.

How will I get there?

Whether towing a caravan, or going toward the static kind, make sure to take the roads with the least traffic, as you don’t want to be stuck getting to the next stop. Also, for those towing, try to be considerate and avoid single lane roads, as you don’t want to be the man or woman holding people up behind you.

Who am I going with?

It may seem flippant, but you may want to consider the amount of space in a single caravan. Once you start hitting the heights of five or six people, you may want to consider an additional tent, or conveniently forgetting that you ever invited the in-laws. Even two may be tight in a tiny caravan, so don’t spend all your time inside!

What type of insurance can I get to cover my caravan?

There are many types of caravan insurance out there. Going without a provider could prove costly, especially when there are so many choices. Make sure to be pragmatic when buying, because if something goes wrong, it could get much worse without it.

Will I be safe?

Although the Beast of Bodmin may have turned out to be fiction, one can never be too careful against the type of critters that are out there. Make sure to pack bug spray, at the very least. Also avoid areas near water, especially the standing variety.

And don’t forget the basics, good food, water and the odd luxury from home could make your caravan that much nicer. But most of all, don’t forget it’s for the exploration, and the outdoors, that will drive your holiday from a good time to a great one.

Safari for Christmas?

Where would you go if Your Kids Planned Christmas?

This is an interesting question. There would no doubt be hand prints of chocolate on the walls, where the kids have demolished their Advent calendar in one foul swoop. However, putting the Christmas holiday itinerary in their hands isn’t such a bad idea; it might just lead to some surprising and creative destinations. In lieu of generic holiday hotspots like Ibiza or Benidorm, the kids might opt for off-the-beaten-track locales that take you into a whole new adventure. Here are two suggestions for a Christmas holiday that might pique the kids’ interests.

A Safari in Africa

 

Safari for Christmas?

Visit a family-friendly camp in the bush where you and your brood can stay in cottages and partake in family-centred activities that will keep the kids amused and amazed. At the Safari Houses of Zambia, you can make seed pod necklaces, take guided walks, and participate in bush craft courses. Much more than a traditional – and passive – game-safari tour, the Safari Houses offers a swimming, canoeing, mountain biking, and local community tours. With the added excitement of spotting animals in their native habitats, this will surely be a trip to remember.

Finnish Lapland For Santa’s Annual Bon Voyage Party

If the kids were in charge of deciding a Christmas destination, Lapland holidays with Santa’s Lapland might be the closest thing you can find to a no-brainer. After all, this is the place that claims to be the home of the jolly fat man himself, where Father Christmas descends from his icy kingdom and embarks on his yearly gift-giving pilgrimage. This attraction is exciting enough, but Finnish Lapland offers a whole lot more than Santa sightings.

Other things to do in Lapland include dog sledding, a fabulous way to get up close and personal with the strong and beautiful husky dogs who love nothing better than speeding across the snow with a family in tow. You can also opt for sleighs of the reindeer variety, which naturally appeals to kids who want to get closer to Rudolph than storybooks and cartoons ever allowed.

With a little night-time curiosity and a dash of patience, families visiting Lapland can also catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis as it shimmies over the Arctic sky in a rainbow of morphing colours.

Tips for Christmas Peace on Earth (and among family members)

Keeping the peace with the kids will old fashioned preparation and planning ahead. Make sure there’s enough water and emergency snacks to prevent midday histrionics. Be sure to work out where the toilets are, from any given point on the map. Also, remember you’re on holiday; stop when the kids want to stop, even if it’s to look at some fluttering leaves.

Planning a holiday according to your children’s wants and whims isn’t as crazy as you thought. It could just make you feel like a child again.

Biking holidays

3 ways to go on a budget family holiday

Taking a holiday with the family is one of the best ways of breaking up the routine and giving everyone a great time.

Sadly, the cost of getting away from it all can be what puts a lot of families off the idea of enjoying a break like that. If you want to enjoy a more exciting summer but aren’t sure whether your budget stretches to a trip away then here are some tips for doing it without spending a fortune.

Biking holidays

Go Camping

One of the best ways for a family to get a fantastic holiday at a low price is to go camping. There are wonderful campsites all over Europe and many of them are set in some of the continent’s most popular tourist resorts. As an example, if you choose to go camping in Italy you can enjoy lovely places such as Lake Garda, Tuscany, Sicily and many other top destinations. As well as this, you can also choose to go to more out of the way spots if you want to be far from the crowds. Specialist firms will give you plenty of choice, from mountain and lake holidays in the Alps to beach holidays on the French Riviera or Italy’s Adriatic coast.

Go Self Catering

Even if you don’t go to a campsite you can still take heed of one of the best advantages of this kind of trip. Self catering trips are very effective for budget conscious families. You can still eat out in restaurants whenever you want to but you also have the option of saving cash by cooking. It is also the opportunity to explore local markets and discover fresh local produce.

Self-catering also enables you to mix and match and avoid the kids getting bored by either eating at home each day or going to restaurants for every single meal. This is the preferred method for families with fussy eaters in them, as well as letting the parents ensure that their kids get healthy, balanced meals.

Stay Closer to Home

Of course, if money is the problem you might find that staying closer to home is a smart bet too. UK residents who haven’t yet explored their country will find lots of special places to explore. From the majestic Highlands of Scotland through the spectacular Irish coastline and on to the stunning Welsh mountains and picturesque Cornish villages there is something here for everyone. Getting away to a foreign country now and then is a great idea but if you can’t do it this year then staying closer to home isn’t going to be a decision you regret as there is plenty to do around the UK.

The magical world of Disneyland

3 great holiday destinations for families

For many, the annual summer holiday is an occasion that the whole family look forward to – you and your partner look forward to a break from the usual routine of everyday life, and your children become excited about the prospect of long days playing on the beach and splashing around in the pool.

But, often finding the perfect holiday that caters for all of you can often be a hard task; the children want somewhere that they can run riot, make friends and explore, but you want somewhere that offers a little bit of peace and quiet, is cost effective and safe for you all. Surely, there’s not a great deal of destinations that tick all of the family boxes though, right?

Well, believe it not, there is. Because, to help you go on the ultimate family holiday this year, here’s my guide to the 3 best holiday destinations that all the family can enjoy.

1. Walt Disney World, Florida

The magical world of Disneyland

When you think of the term ‘children’s holiday’, what’s the first place you think of? I’m sure it’ll be the magical land that is Walt Disney World – after all, it offers everything that kids dreams are made of.

But, aside from being what many think is purely a children’s destination, Walt Disney World is perfect for adults too – it simply is a once-in-a-lifetime destination for all families. Children will love meeting all of their favourite Disney characters in person and will love watching the vibrant parades that take place in front of the world famous Disney castle.

But as your children take in all of the excitement, there’s lots to do for you too – from eating at great restaurants and bars, browse the stores and go rides like the thrilling Space Mountain.

But, as well being surrounded by the magic, Walt Disney is the perfect place to make your own magical memories – that’ll stay with all of the family forever.

2. Lanzarote

If you’re looking for the perfect sun, sea and sand holiday to take your whole family on, then Lanzarote is a definite must. Located off Spain’s South West coastline, Lanzarote offers perfect weather, picturesque sceneries, vibrant culture and plenty of fun for the children. There are plenty of family resorts in Lanzarote, with most letting you choose the option of all-inclusive or self catered, so you can tailor your holiday perfectly to your own family’s requirements.

Many of Lanzarote’s hotels and resorts also have world-class kids clubs, so that when you want to go and explore the island with your loved one, you can rest assured your kids are in great hands – they’ll make friends, play fun sports, and do hundreds of great activities put on specially for them by the holiday reps.

And, when you want to spend your days all together, Lanzarote has a plethora of great water parks with hundreds of rides both for children and the adults. So, with so much to do and see – all available at affordable prices – it’s no wonder holidays in Lanzarote are so popular with families.

3. France

So, we’ve given you an adventure holiday and a beach holiday as some of the best holiday destinations for families, but what happens if you want to go on a city break with the kids? Well, if that’s at the top of your family holiday agenda for 2013, then France is the perfect location to do so.

It’s great to take children when they’re young to places that they learn about in school. And as the home to the great Eiffel Tower, Paris is the perfect location to do so. You can take them on an adventure to the very top of this world famous monument and watch as they look over the city in amazement – do it at night and then view from the top is spectacular. Taking them to a French city is also a great way to teach them a few language skills – buy a book before you go and learn some basic words, and you and the children can have fun trying out the things you’ve learnt! Failing all this, take the whole family to the south of France to bask in the sun and rural countryside amid peace and quiet.

Variety of foreign notes

A quick guide to keeping your holiday money secure

So you’ve saved up all year to go away for a couple of weeks. The last thing you need is to have trouble with your money if you are going abroad. There are various ways that you can manage your spending abroad, as well as keeping your cash safe.

Variety of foreign notes

Cash

If you decide to exchange your money into foreign currency before you leave, it is often cheaper doing it locally rather than once you get to the airport. Many exchange bureaus will match the best rate available online when you go to pick up your money. When packing your currency, don’t keep it all together. Split the money up between your bags, or keep it on your person, just in case a bag goes missing in transit.

Alternatively simply use your bank card to get cash out when you need it once abroad. The downfall to this is you may get charged per ATM transaction. The rate of exchange may not be so good either. Make sure you also give your bank a ring to let them know you are going on holiday. Most banks are cautious of fraud if transactions or withdrawals are made in a foreign country or somewhere unusual.

Traveller’s Cheques

Traveller’s Cheques are rarely used these days, however the one advantage is they can be replaced if they are lost or stolen. Once you have bought your cheques, make sure you sign them as soon as you have received them. You may also want to check where you can cash your cheques abroad – not all businesses accept them.

Travel Money Cards

These are essentially pre-paid credit cards. You won’t need a credit check to get one. They are good if you want to set yourself a budget for the holiday. Be aware however, that you may be charged a small amount for withdrawing cash at an ATM when you use it. There may also be a small charge for depositing funds onto the card.

Credit Cards

Using your credit card abroad is convenient, but check the small print before you leave. Some credit card companies charge as much as an additional 3% on top of the rate of exchange. Any purchases you make however will be protected under the Consumer Credit Act should something go wrong, or any goods don’t arrive.

Bank transfer

One of the most secure way to send money abroad is by bank transfer. Obviously, this only works if you have a bank abroad you can transfer your money to. If you travel on holiday frequently to a country or if you emigrated to another country and go back to your home country often, it’ll make sense to have a bank account there and keep it funded. You can use your own bank account or open a dedicated one for foreign transfers. Bank transfers are quick and easy to do and can be done online, although there is often a charge for transfers abroad.

Personal Security

When travelling abroad, never carry around more cash than you are going to need that day. Make use of the room safes if you are staying in a reputable hotel. Keep your money and bank cards on your person. Bum bags are extremely practical, but sadly scream “tourist”. Never keep any money or valuables in the pockets of a rucksack as these can be easily pick-pocketed. And finally, always be alert if you are in a crowded place, or travelling on busy public transport.

Related articles:

http://www.greattravels.co.uk/travel/travelling-to-europe-in-these-uncertain-times/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/columnists/nicktrend/8008883/Travel-advice-Ten-tips-to-avoid-travel-rip-offs.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-advice/8435900/Holiday-money-advice.html

http://www.money.co.uk/article/1006077-is-it-safe-to-order-travel-money-online.htm

 

Japanese dish

Culinary culture in Manama, Bahrain

Peeping out of the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain is a country with bountiful culture – its own and that of the large ex-pat population. For food lovers, the location of the ‘kingdom of two seas’ and the nationalities settled here make it a particularly interesting spot to visit.

Japanese dish

Preparation – booking and budgeting

Alongside fantastic and flavoursome local produce like dates, bananas, citrus fruits, pomegranates and mangoes, Bahrain boasts some outstanding restaurants and if you’re lucky enough to visit the country’s capital – Manama – you should take some time to plan your eating out schedule in advance. The top restaurants here can get very busy, so booking before you travel will serve you well if you set your heart on visiting any of the most popular eateries.

To help budget for your trip it’s also worth checking out the current exchange rate, which you can do online with Travelex here in Bahrain. You can also reserve your currency online and pick it up in Bahrain, should you need to top up your spending money.

Fish

With its position between two seas it is perhaps not surprising that Bahrain has earned quite a reputation for its fish and any food lover worth their weight in sea salt is likely to want to check out some of the area’s seafood. This is served in different guises at restaurants that span a cosmopolitan spectrum of cuisines, but Japanese is a particular favourite in the capital Manama.

Winners of the TimeOut Best Restaurant award for Bahrain in 2012, Maki Bahrain serve top rated cuisine. Located at the top of the city’s World Trade Center, at night you can take in an awesome view of the lights and enjoy some sensational sashimi. Maki are by no means the only Japanese enthusiasts round these parts though – Bushido and Mirai are also regularly name-checked for fantastic food and service.

Bahrain is a relatively safe holiday location, but it can, on occasion, be a little bit dangerous if you don’t know what to expect. Make sure you have a look over this Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice for travel and living abroad in Bahrain.

Healthy or not?

When it comes to eating out, sushi is often cited as a healthier option and healthy food is readily available in Manama. You’ll find it in plentiful supply at Masso at the Palace Hotel, which is another eatery that consistently receives rave reviews. On the menu here is a mix of European food – in particular Italian and there’s a focus on organic food too.

If indulgence is the name of the game, then you’ll want to check out Bahrain’s famous Friday brunches availably widely in the city’s luxury hotels and perhaps head to one of the less health-conscious but high taste aware eateries such as Legendz Steakhouse or Lilo – where the French patisserie-style cakes are a work of art.

Iconic Sydney harbour and opera

Things to do in Sydney with kids

Sydney is a great place to take the family with plenty of things for the kids to do. The only trouble you will have, will be to decide what to choose to do. Most of the attractions are close to the city centre so you don’t have to travel out too far. Below are some great things to do in Sydney with the kids.

Iconic Sydney harbour and opera

Sydney Aquarium

The Sydney Aquarium has over 12,000 creatures from 650 species to educate and entertain the whole family. You can go on a glass-bottomed boat ride through the enormous barrier reef zone so you can see the inhabitants naturally up close. The Discovery Rockpool will be a hit with the kids because they will get the chance to hold or touch variety of small sea creatures. There are always plenty of talks and presentations throughout the day including feeding demonstrations.

Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory in The Rocks is where you get to take a virtual tour through our solar system with 3D technology. The Observatory is one of the most significant sites in Australia’s scientific history; it is also the oldest and offers great views across Sydney Harbour. With plenty of interactive exhibitions and telescopes to marvel at the skies, this really is a must for all budding scientists or kids interested in astronomy.

Australian Museum

The Australian Museum has a great kids program which is dedicated to the toddlers. Under 5s can explore and investigate in their very own mini museum section which is designed to encourage kids to investigate objects and specimens through magnifying glasses. There are five pods for kids to explore, the bug pod, marine pod, volcano pod, observation pod and imagination pod. Older kids will love the Dinosaur exhibition where they get the chance to learn how dinosaurs lived and died.

Justice and Police Museum

Kids will love to play cops and robbers at the Justice and Police Museum. Adults will enjoy learning about the dark side of Sydney’s past and seeing the courtroom. You can sit behind the magistrates bench, stand within the docks where past criminals would have stood. Take a look at the artefacts of corporal and capital punishment including a leather lash, a hangman’s noose, an isolation mask, a mouth gag and many other physical restraints.

Taronga Zoo

If you don’t mind leaving the city for a day, hop on the ferry and take the kids to Taronga Zoo. It is only a short ride and once there you get to see great views of the harbour. This is a great family outing which the kids are going to love. You will be seriously impressed with the variety of animals at this zoo. As you would expect you will be able to get close to kangaroos’ and koalas, but you will also see animals such as Przewalskis Horses and African Lions.

The above is just a few family days out and attractions which kids in Australia will enjoy to see and do. There is also the IMAX theatre, Madame Tussauds and lots of outdoor parks such as Luna Park and Centennial Park. Sydney is a great place to take the family with no shortage of things to do.

Sydney harbour and skyline

The 5 basic tips you’ll always need for finding cheap flights to Australia

You’re thinking about travelling to Australia, but are not sure if you are able to afford the flight to your desired destination. Whether you’re travelling on business or for pleasure, Australia is an amazing country to visit. From the diversity that each city offers to the Great Barrier Reef and natural wonders that you will find in the Outback, there’s much to see and do throughout the country that will amaze and entertain you throughout your entire stay. By taking advantage of these helpful tips, you’ll be on your way to finding affordable airline tickets for you and your entire family to enjoy the experience of a lifetime. These tips apply to most other destinations but we like to focus on one destination.

Sydney harbour and skyline

1. Comparing Airlines

Before selecting the first airline that you see on the internet, it’s a great idea to do some research and get an idea of the different price points that you may expect to pay for a flight to Australia on different airlines. Some popular airlines that travel to Australia include Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar and United. Other smaller airlines may also be available to take you to your desired destination. Different companies offer different prices and may also offer discounts depending on the number of seats you purchase or if you are a member of select programs such as AARP, AAA or are a military member. Compare prices to see what will provide you with the most affordable rates.

2. Travelling During Off-Peak Seasons

While you may be interested in visiting the southern hemisphere during the cold winter seasons in your home country, this is not always the cheapest time to travel. Like you, many others have the same brilliant idea of getting away from the cold and heading to Australia, where they can enjoy the warmth of summer and all that the country has to offer. Consider visiting during Australia’s spring or fall months for affordable rates and during their winter season for the cheapest flights around. If weather doesn’t make a difference to you, this is the ideal time to purchase airline tickets.

3. Buy in Advance

Timing is everything when purchasing your tickets. If you are travelling on a less-popular route to Australia, purchasing at least 21 days in advance is ideal for the best prices on tickets. For routes that see a higher amount of traffic, you may opt to scour the web for tickets during select week nights to see when the prices decrease. If you are planning well in advance, then try and get in early just as the tickets are released.

4. Last-Minute Flights

While buying in advance is usually the best option to secure your seats aboard your desired flight to Australia, waiting until the last minute can actually help you to find rock-bottom prices on unsold tickets. If you have the flexibility to travel at any time, last-minute could be the best option. However, you may not find the total number of seats that you need available when going down this route. As an example, I was able to find flights from London to Perth as little as £714 return leaving in two weeks using this website.

5. Opt for a Holiday Package

If you are planning on also purchasing a hotel stay at select accommodation throughout Australia, combining your flights and hotel stay to make a package can actually give you the lowest rates. Take advantage of discounted prices when purchasing multiple vacation services from online retailers.