Category Archives: Travel

Best Tips for Easier Business Travel

Traveling for business isn’t always easy. Sleeping on planes, packing constantly for trips and staying glued to your mobile device can derail your routine and make you grumpy.

Keeping a positive attitude is the first step to a stress-free travel experience. And acknowledge helpful staff. Travelers have a better chance at getting upgrades, itinerary changes and extraordinary service when they ask politely and maintain happy demeanors.

“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they’ll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”

Kindness isn’t the only way to minimize inconveniences and maximize your productivity while traveling. Here are a few practical ways to make traveling for business easier:
BY KAYLEIGH KULP
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TRAVEL TIPS
Limit Luggage to a Carry-on
Travel is stressful when you’re worried about lost luggage or being late to a meeting, says Barbara DesChamps, author of It’s In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel. Bring only a carry-on, check in for your flight online and go straight to security at the airport. If you don’t check baggage, you won’t have to wait for it when you land.
Use Technology to Plan Ahead
Check out Seatguru.com to view your airplane’s seating plan in advance, including information about limited recline or legroom seats and in-seat power ports. Find out where galleys, lavatories and exit rows are, and request a seat change that makes working or relaxing easier.

Instead of calling around to restaurants at your destination, make reservations at OpenTable.com, of which 20,000 restaurants worldwide are members.

Bring a GPS with pre-loaded maps of your destination to make driving your rental car in a new place easier, says Maria K. Todd, CEO of Mercury Healthcare.
Join a Rewards Program and Stick With It
If staff notices you frequently patronize their airline, rental-car company or hotel, they are more likely to help you, says Maria Perez, marketing manager of airfare search engine Fly.com.

Members of rewards and loyalty programs often receive early boarding on flights, priority hotel room, first-class upgrades and “all-around better treatment,” Perez says.

Some rental-car companies deliver rental cars to rewards program members personally, while less frequent customers must shuttle to the company’s facility to retrieve their rental,
Dress Well
People get much better service when they dress well and appear wealthier, says DesChamps. Wearing an outfit that doubles as presentation attire while traveling is also wise in case your baggage is lost or you are late, says Melissa C. Gillespie, partner at Innova Communications. That way, you’re not stuck in jeans for a big meeting.
Keep a Bag Packed
Save time packing by keeping a carry-on suitcase packed with the minimal amount of clothing, shoes and accessories you need, including 3-ounce toiletries in a Ziploc bag. Trade bulky laptops for thinner laptops and tablets such as a MacBook Air or an iPad. Replace hardcovers with eBooks. If you must bring a coat or bulky shoes, wear them on the plane to avoid taking up space in your luggage.
Keep Customer-Service Numbers Stored in Your Phone
Keeping customer-service numbers handy offers quicker access to the right people if a flight is cancelled or you need to change a hotel or car reservation, rather than waiting in line once you’re there.

Special Travel Tips For Spring Break

Whether you were blasted by bad weather this past winter or you’ve just been pining for an escape, the good news is that spring break has finally arrived. Get a jump-start on your spring break plans — whether they are partying with the college kids or a tamer family getaway to the beach — with these suggestions.

Student Spring Break Tips

* Take a look at organizations like StudentCity who run trips for both college and high school students to popular spring break destinations.

* Looking for that winter wonderland retreat instead of the warm sands, try these student ski getaways.
CollegeSkiTrips.com
Studentcity.com/ski/

* Party like a rock star by heading to Vegas for an MTV Spring Break 2013 epic party with the network’s trademark wild parties, heavy boozing, goofy games and celebrity hosts with events at The Palms pool, Rain Nightclub, Moon Nightclub, Ghostbar and the Playboy Club.

* Why not take your time off and give back? Combine volunteer work with some sight-seeing and relaxation time. Not only can you see the world, you can improve it.
Voluntourism
Volunteer Travel
Volunteering

* Take advantage of student discounts and youth hostels whether you stay in the US or go international.
STA Travel Student Universe

* If you are hitting the road, start saving money for gas now. When it is time to go, visit sites like these to track down the cheapest gas along your route.
Gasbuddy.com
Gas Prices on MapQuest
Gas Price Watch

* Start preparing for your trip now by stocking up on sunscreen, bathing suits and other spring break essentials by shopping online.
Drugstore.com
Everything But Water

* Get that body in shape for the beach by logging some extra hours at the gym, on the treadmill or in downward-facing dog. Track your fitness goals with a helpful fitness app.
Active.com’s 10 Best iPhone Fitness Apps for 2013
Family Spring Break Tips
* Consider a variety of options with our suggestions for a unique family spring break.

* Book a stay at any of Oyster’s top spring break hotels.

* Get spring break budget tips, from MommyPoints.com’s Summer Hull.

* Bypass the beaches for the slopes on a skiing spring break.

* Compare prices on flights and car rentals.
Kayak
FareCompare
Travelocity
Expedia

* Look for spring break special events and discounts available now.
Family-Friendly Mardi Gras
Disney Discounts
Spring Break Blast
Hershey in the Spring

* Forecast the weather.
weathertrends360

* Skip the beach and instead camp under the stars with the whole family.
Camp Jellystone
Camping with Kids

* Can’t get away but need to keep the kids occupied during the break? Enroll them now in a local Spring Break Camp.
Holiday Camps
Spring Break Programs
DC Spring Break Camps

Special Tips to Make Travel Delays More Productive

Almost every frequent flyer has been stuck at an airport due to weather, mechanical issues or other delays. Sometimes “stuck” can mean overnight. How you react to that disruption says a lot about your ability to handle the unexpected. Anger does little good; getting creative can soothe the soul and maybe even lead to a pleasant experience. There’s no need to play Angry Birds for 4 hours. Here are a few tips to make your layover downtime more productive.

Get a 1-Day Airline Pass
Even if you’re not a member of an airline’s airport club, many offer 1-day memberships. American Airlines, for example, charges $50 for a 1-day pass, and up to 3 children under the age of 18 are permitted to join an adult at no extra charge. You’ll pay for drinks, but snacks and Wi-Fi are on the house. Rules vary among airlines. Delta, for example, allows no guests on its $50, 1-day pass, but the booze is complimentary. An airport lounge is usually a comfortable and relatively quiet place to spread out and accomplish some work.

Head to the Chapel
If you crave a quiet space but don’t want to spring for an airport club membership, find the airport’s chapel and settle in with work materials or a book. But make sure to check your airline’s departure board from time to time. Just because a gate agent says your flight is delayed for 3 hours doesn’t mean it won’t leave sooner if, say, the weather clears or a mechanical problem is solved quickly.

Find Friends on Google Latitude
Find your friends and have a party, or at least lunch. Several location apps allow you to use your smartphone to track the whereabouts of friends. If you have Google’s Latitude app on your phone, for example, you can check to see if anyone you know (who is also on Latitude) is stuck in the airport, too. Nearly 2 million people pass through Atlanta’s airport a year, for example — surely you know one of them.

Discover Things to Do Near the Airport
At any airport, if your layover is long enough for you to leave the airport, ask a local what’s within an easy cab ride that’s worth visiting. The tour desk at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, for example, can arrange a quick tour of the city that’s only 6 miles from the airport.

Stuck in Abu Dhabi? The Al Ghazal Golf Club is adjacent to the airport, and passengers are welcome in its English-style clubhouse. And if you’ve never played on a sand golf course, it makes for great dinner conversation later when you describe such hazards as burrows dug by desert lizards. Golf clubs are available for rental.

If you find yourself stranded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, hop the sleek light-rail train for the 6-minute ride to the Mall of America, and get a little holiday shopping done between rides on the indoor roller coaster.

Check Out Airport Museums and Art Displays
You already know you can shop ’til you drop in major airports around the world, but you can often engage in more mind-improving activities as well. San Francisco’s airport has well-curated, rotating displays of art, metalwork and even vintage airplanes scattered throughout various terminals. In SFO’s International Terminal, you’ll find the fascinating Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum. Check out the 1920s Ford Tri-Motor passenger seat (that looks like your grandparents’ wicker chair), a mint-condition Pan Am tea set and the various styles of flight attendant uniforms through the years.

At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, just steps away from a casino is a mini-art museum, a branch of Amsterdam’s renowned Rijksmuseum. Want to know what the airport you’re stuck in has on offer? Just check the airport’s website.

Don’t Do Something Stupid
Wait, I’m not really advocating this, but if you type in any search engine “stupid things to do at an airport,” you’ll be surprised by the number of postings by folks who clearly have too much time on their hands. These days, it’s not advisable to do anything stupid at an airport. Playing the slot machines at the Vegas or Amsterdam airports is smarter than doing something that will draw the attention of airport security personnel.

But you can certainly get a cardio work out doing some serious walking in large airports without ever leaving an airport’s secure area. Many airports have mini-spas that offer massages and other treatments. And if you’re a Type A traveler who complains you have no time to think uninterrupted or to read a book or magazine from cover to cover, a layover is just what the psychologist ordered.

Know More About Dog Travel Tips From the Champions

We caught up with dog handlers at the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City for advice on traveling with your dog.
“At the airport, remain cool and aloof when they take the dog away. Don’t make it tearful. Nothing is worse than emotion because the dog will start to wonder. I also watch them offload the plane for 2 reasons: to be sure they don’t drop the dog and to be sure the dog gets off.” –Janine Starink, handler for Gatsby the Giant Schnauzer (aka BIS Am/Can/Int CH Skansen’s Great Gatsby)

“I always pick up some bottled water so the local water doesn’t upset his stomach. You never want a Great Dane with diarrhea. For drool, I always carry a slobber rag.” –Linda Cain, handler for Barney the Great Dane (aka GCH Gracyn’s Valliant Warrior V. Lost Creek)

“It’s good to have a list of medications that your dog takes, if any, and place them on a list along with your dog’s eating schedule and routine in case something were to happen and you’re not able to care for them yourself, such as if you get into an accident.” –Holly Sundbeck, owner of Inge the Standard poodle (aka GCH Hanna’s Dam Inge Fair Sun)

“I protect my dog with Frontline flea preventative and his vaccinations are up to date, so I’m not as concerned with what my dog leaves behind but what he picks up in a hotel. I’ve heard a lot about bedbugs in the big city. The first thing I’m going to do is pull back the sheets and check.” –Marlene Palmer, owner of Gideon the Bauceron (aka CH de Joie du Chateau Rocher)

“I’d never bathe a dog at a hotel. Beagles shed, and I’d feel bad if I clogged up someone’s tub. My dogs are always bathed and groomed before I go.” –Carol Herr, handler for Runner the Beagle (aka CH Encore Rerun of Roirdan)

“Bring comfort food. Pet cooking is huge now, so if you make dog cookies or something at home, take some along to make your dog feel comfortable.” –Jerry Grymek, Doggie Concierge at the Hotel Pennsylvania

“The No. 1 thing is: Don’t be narrow-minded. Expect the unexpected. And keep your dog’s safety your first priority.” –Gail Hawksworth, owner of Cruiser the Irish Wolfhound (aka GCH CH Mysham Edoc’sil of Redwall)

Information About Lonely Planet’s Honeymoon Planning

Getting hitched is the most socially accepted reason on the planet to ditch work and undertake your longest, most splurge-iest trip ever. But before you dive head first into checking off the items on your travel bucket list, take a few minutes to consider the practical stuff, because the trip of your dreams won’t just magically appear by itself.

In fact, lousy hotels, missed flights, lacklustre meals and inhospitable weather can significantly hamper a happy holiday, essentially flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet. And while we can’t read crystal balls or do rain dances, we can assure you that proper planning will undoubtedly put the odds in your favour of enjoying the getaway of your dreams.
Timing is everything

You’ve dutifully set aside your collection of vacation days — now it’s time to work out how to spend them on your honeymoon. It’s important to weigh the time you’ve allotted for your adventure against your destination of choice, and make sure that your trip is spent travelling, not transiting.
With two or three weeks, you’ll have a more generous amount of time to take a crack at a faraway destination and overcome the exhaustion of a long-haul journey and/or jet lag. But a week-long holiday, say, is never well served by spending two full days hoofing it from one continent to another, only to turn around a few days later and repeat the gruelling trek back.
The other major timing consideration has to do with seasonality. Tacking your honeymoon on at the end of your already-set wedding date might preclude travel to certain destinations simply due to the time of year. Large areas of the Caribbean, for example, are prone to hurricanes during the months of September and October. Other destinations have annual monsoons – like Thailand, which has two different curtains of rains that sweep across the kingdom during the latter half of the year.
It’s best to educate yourself on the high and low seasons of your preferred honeymooning locales. Prices, of course, increase with a rise in demand during the months with the most favourable climate and during busy periods such as school holidays (when desirable hotels can also become scarce). Low seasons, on the other hand — or better yet, ’shoulder’ or ‘green’ seasons — can be a worthy option if you want to see more bang for your buck at the expense of rolling the dice weather-wise.
Benefits of DIY

When choosing a destination for your honeymoon, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to one place, but a protracted vacation — as many honeymoons are — lends itself well to exploring several locales. All-inclusive hotels are going to try to convince you otherwise, and travel agents (even those fancy boutique e-businesses) will try to capitalise on your lack of destination knowledge with tours and templates.
However, a DIY trip is much easier than you might think, and the rewards are exponentially greater than signing up for a cookie-cutter tour. Hands-on planning is a crucial part of understanding a destination, and you’ll arrive in the country with a commendable amount of acquired knowledge that will further guide you to sniff out the top experiences that really speak to you.

How to build a multi-stop honeymoon

As the architect of your own multi-stop trip, you might want to think of your honeymoon as a novel; the action on your vacation should swell and ebb accordingly. Think of the beginning of the trip as the initiation phase — you’re adjusting to a new world (maybe getting over jet lag) and want to ease into the action as it gradually builds. The middle section of the honeymoon is where the plot thickens. Your pulse quickens with adventure sports, or late urban nights exploring. Then, with the end of the story in sight, the last section of the holiday is when the jets cool — a denouement of sorts when you once again slow your pace. It’s the beach in Bahia after Rio and São Paulo, the Amalfi villa at the end of Tuscany and Rome, or the ryokan in Hakone when you’re wrapping up Kyoto and Tokyo. You need an airbag at the end of the trip, so you feel revitalised by the holiday, not desperately needing another.
Picking hotels

Now, with your storybook itinerary you’re going to have to slot in hotels. These should play out in tandem with the pace at each stage of your trip, but you need to slightly trick your future self. Every accommodation option selected should build upon the previous choice. The human mind can’t help but judge, and when you arrive at lodging number two you won’t be able to ignore the instinct to compare it to your accommodation the night before. So, in order to essentially feel like you’re winning at travel, each hotel must get progressively better — or maintain the quality of the previous stay — culminating in your big splurge at the end, which nicely coincides with your itinerary’s finale. The last slice of the vacation is the happy ever after – just like you and your spouse after the wedding.
couple

Honeymoon planning timeline

One year before honeymoon: Dream. Think about where you’ve always wanted to go to celebrate your marriage, and get inspired by guidebooks, magazines and websites.
Nine months before your honeymoon: If you’re budgeting your holiday in tandem with your wedding, you’ll likely know at this point what funds you’re hoping to allocate to your trip and can compare your budget against that dream list of destinations.
Six months before your honeymoon: Properly slot in your travel dates after calibrating for personal commitments and taking into account the optimal time – as you deem it – for visiting your destination of choice.
Four months before your honeymoon (or earlier): Cement the foundations of your plans, scouting airplane tickets, booking must-have items on your checklist (hotels, visa, park permits), and firming up a version – in very broad strokes – of what your itinerary might look like (which days in which destination for multi-stop trips).
Two months before your wedding (note wedding, and not necessarily honeymoon): If you’ve decided to ask your guests to help you fund your dream trip, now is the time to create an online registry detailing tangible activities to be undertaken at a gradation of price points to suit your wedding guests’ varying budgets.
One month before your honeymoon: The internet enables the world to move a million miles a minute, so once you begin the 30-day countdown you can take to your social platforms to snoop for upcoming events and trending bars, and even find friends that might be criss-crossing your itinerary.

Should Know About Top Tips for Holiday Travel

Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. But don’t let invasive security scanners, terrible drivers and long lines at airports get you down. We’re giving you tips to survive the holiday travel season without a Frosty the Snowman-size meltdown.

Do your research.

Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Is there a scenic drive that might be longer but have less traffic? Break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.

Stay connected.

Stock up on the latest travel apps before you leave home. Flight Status gives you real-time updates on delays, baggage numbers and more, and GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in security. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas and cleanest bathrooms on the road with GasBuddy and SitOrSquat.

Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane.
Pack light.

Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on the conveyor belt, and you won’t have to worry about your mom’s Christmas present getting lost in Logan Airport. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications and important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. Here’s a family packing list for more tips.

Pack earplugs.

Short of doing yoga in the airport, the best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down. And the easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Crying baby next seat over on the plane? Earplugs. Sister’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. And if you really want to check out for a bit? Bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t driving).

Don’t get hangry.

When your tummy growls, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane (check our GateGuru’s Best Airport Restaurants), so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.

Ship gifts or give gift cards.

TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Ship gifts ahead of time or bring the gift that can’t go wrong: gift cards to their favorite store or an Amazon card.

Travel on off-peak days.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year and can also cause you the biggest meltdown of the year. A better option is to leave early on Thanksgiving Day and avoid the record traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: if you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers.

Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. Best time to hit the road? When every one else is asleep — early morning or late at night
Travel early or late in the day.

Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. And if your flight is cancelled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day. Also, there will be fewer lines at security. Best time to hit the road? When every one else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).

Plan for the unexpected.

Have only a half hour before connecting to another flight? Traveling to Rochester, NY, during snow season? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few band-aids never hurt either.

Inhale. Exhale.

The overly friendly person next to you on the plane, the cancelled flights, the luggage that fell off in the middle of the highway? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination. After all, holiday travel stress is just as much of a tradition as pumpkin pie and regifting.

Should Know About Top 10 Budget Honeymoons

When planning your perfect wedding day who wouldn’t be looking for the dream honeymoon to match? But between the flowers, favours and the flights costs can rack up pretty quickly.

With these top ten budget-friendly getaways you can count your pennies without compromising on all the once-in-a-lifetime experiences, dynamic culture and delicious cuisine you could want for your first adventure as newlyweds.
Young couple in a kasbah. Kasbah Baha Baha, Nkob. Morocco (MR)
Morocco

Arabian exoticism, fragrant spices – and lovely low prices. Morocco’s hard to beat for bargain romance. Marrakesh, Fez and Essaouira offer time-warp medinas chock-full of character and cheap cafes. Eschew your sense of direction to get lost in the maze-like souqs – the shopping possibilities are plentiful, with everything from carpets to babouches to be snapped up. Converted riads (traditional courtyard houses) offer accommodation with oodles of atmosphere; some are pricey but many are astonishingly reasonable, enabling palace-like stays on a pauper’s budget.
India

Long-favoured by the impecunious, India has become more expensive – but, mostly, it’s still amazingly cheap. For instance, opulent Palace On Wheels trains might be dear, but even budget ’mooners can afford first-class on India Rail – a Delhi-Udaipur overnighter costs around US$20 second-class, and only US$10 more in first-class sleeper.
Vietnam

You could get by for less than US$10 a day in Vietnam and still eat like a king – it’s street-food heaven. Make sure to sample the city’s signature dishes: beef pho, bun cha (barbecued pork with rice noodles) and chow a bánh mì (baguette) as you wander. A mid-range trip won’t break the bank either, but will buy more characterful guesthouses, a better Halong Bay cruise and memorable experiences (a cookery class, a cycle around Hoi An) with change left for a beach stay on beautiful Phu Quoc Island.
Portugal

Portugal is liberating. The little anxieties – is that cafe too posh for us? Can we afford another coffee? – don’t exist here. Even in fancier establishments, espressos usually cost less than US$1, beers no more than US$2. You find yourself ordering a second pastel de nata (divine Portuguese custard tart) – well, why not? There are cute casas and converted farmhouses oozing charm for under US$100 a night, too.
Romantic couple on the beach at colorful sunset on

Indonesia

Numbers are high, costs are low in Indonesia. Rooms might start from a startling-sounding 350,000 rupiah – but that’s only US$25. It’s easy to be a millionaire here, so even budget ’mooners can afford plenty of fun. Obvious-choice Bali has great beaches, boutique stays, culture in Ubud, cracking surf. But Indonesia has 17,000 isles! Consider Lombok and the Gili Islands, culture and volcanoes on Java and jungle adventures on Sumatra.
Taucher und Korallenriff, Roatan, Karibik, Honduras | Diver

Honduras

Honduras is the budget choice in Central America. Inexpensive food and lodgings are easily found. It’s also one of the cheapest places to learn to dive. Head for the white sands of Utila to scuba or simply relax by the Caribbean for less; the nearby islands of Cayos Cochinos offer the most romantic escape. Tack on the Mayan ruins of Copán and adventures in Pico Bonito National Park.
Ancient Khmer architecture ,Ta Prohm temple ruins hidden in jungle in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Ta Prohm is a jungle temple

Cambodia

Cambodia is a happy marriage of world-beating sights and budget-friendly prices. It’s home to Angkor Wat, for which a seven-day entry ticket costs US$72 – ridiculously expensive compared with everything else in the country; ridiculously cheap for a week’s worth of exploring the vastness of the site’s Unesco-listed temples and jungle. Cheap beers (US$1), meals (US$2) and ever-improving low-cost accommodation ice the cake.
Bulgaria

Not the most obvious honeymoon choice, but an inexpensive option whatever the season. Capital Sofia has enough to interest urbanites. Sun-lovers can loll by the Black Sea: soft sand, beers for US$2 – what’s not to love? Winter-mooners can hit Europe’s best-value skiing: Bansko and Borovets have slopes for all levels, plus family-run pensions, hearty taverns and (thanks to that cheap beer) lively après-ski.
South Africa

Safaris aren’t usually budget options, but in South Africa you can save by self-driving Kruger National Park’s 2WD-friendly roads, staying at rest camps en route. Right across the country, food prices are good and accommodation plentiful, ensuring there’s something for all budgets – the winery hotels on the Western Cape are particularly good value compared with those in rival wine regions around the world. The best bargain? The Shosholoza Meyl Sleeper train runs virtually the same scenic route, between Johannesburg and Cape Town, as the luxurious Blue Train but costs a twentieth of the price.
Puerto Rico

The Hispanic islands tend to offer the best value in the paradisiacal-but-pricey Caribbean. Puerto Rico has affordable inns and resorts, plus super sand and more history than most – capital San Juan is one of the Americas’ oldest cities. For extra honeymoon magic, kayak at night with glowing plankton in Bioluminescent Bay. For extra savings, go in May: prices are up to 40% cheaper May to early December because of hurricane season (June-November), but in May it hasn’t begun yet.

Special Places For Vegetarians In Belgrade

It used to be quite a challenge for vegetarians to survive in Belgrade. Serbian national cuisine is mostly based on heavy meat dishes, so one had to rely on bakeries or potato in all its forms when eating out. Luckily, the situation has improved drastically over the last few years, and these days you can find nutritious, protein-rich vegetarian and vegan options in restaurants, salad bars, and even at some fast-food outlets. Here’s our list of the best vegetarian-friendly places to check out.

Radost Fina Kuhinjica

Radost Fina Kuhinjica is usually the first choice for vegetarians, due to its attractive location beneath the Kalemegdan Fortress, cozy setting in a ground-floor apartment and the original menu that will make even your die-hard meat-eating friends think twice. At Radost they always try new recipes as a daily menu, but the evergreen dishes to definitely taste are the starter platter with baba ganoush, hummus and freshly baked pita bread, vegan burgers in either beetroot or shiitake variation, as well as Radost ramen soup. Don’t be in a hurry, because the cakes are more than worth waiting for.
Mayka

Located in one of the most beautiful and historical streets in Belgrade, Kosančićev venac, the restaurant’s name is a play on the Serbian word for ‘mother’. Mayka’s (facebook.com/maykabeograd) menu consists of vegetarian dishes from various national cuisines that are made at ordinary homes, evoking the smell and the warmth of mum’s kitchen. In a stylish interior you can order samosas, curry, meals made of seitan and dhal, pizzas, spicy lemonade or Indian sweets. However, the signature dish that sublimes the restaurant’s philosophy is Mayka goulash, an authentic version of stew made with seitan, tagliatelle, heavenly spiced tomato sauce and warm, melted cheese.
Oliva

If you opt for a shopping tour across the river, in Novi Beograd (New Belgrade), make your way to this beautifully designed little eatery. You’ll be surprised by its spinach burgers with sea salt or vegan sticks seasoned with roasted sesame. The absolute winner among desserts is the avocado, dates and hazelnut mousse, which goes great with fine wines from the restaurant’s selection. Despite its out-of-the-way location, Oliva (restoranoliva.com) has an unusual frequency of guests even on a Monday evening, which is probably its best recommendation.
Jazzayoga

If you pass Jazzayoga (jazzayoga.com) at lunch time, make sure you stop by and try food from its weekly menu. Depending on the day of the week, you may run into buckwheat moussaka with green beans, oyster mushroom stew, steamed rice with chickpeas and mint, chili sin carne or other yummy food combinations. You’ll also find sandwiches made of wholegrain yeast-free bread, other wholegrain products and cookies that will make the entire world seem right for you.
Zdravo Živo

The only raw-food bar in Belgrade, Zdravo Živo (zdravo-zivo.rs) serves and delivers complete meals made from raw, plant-based ingredients. The menu varies daily and there are usually two to three options to choose from, such as raw fish and chips, stuffed peppers, spaghetti bolognese, burritos, cabbage rolls or sausages. Stuffed peppers and sarma (cabbage rolls) are among the most common meat dishes in Serbian cuisine, but transformed and dressed up as raw meals with fresh vegetables and seeds stuffing, they’re a perfect refreshing choice for hot Belgrade summers.
Hanan and Tel Aviv Hummus House

Its majesty falafel is gaining huge popularity even among non-vegetarians in Belgrade. Once rare to find, falafel is now served at several locations around the city. If you want to eat in, you can go to the central Hanan (restoranhanan.rs) restaurant in Svetogorska Street, but if you’d rather grab a really voluminous falafel sandwich on the go, stop by Tel Aviv Hummus House (telavivhummushouse.com) near the busy Zeleni Venac Market or visit Shawarma Hanan (facebook.com/pages/Hanan-Shawarma) near Cvetni Trg.
Super Donkey and Lime & Carrot

These are the places to pop into when you want a healthy, nutritious meal on the go. Super Donkey (facebook.com/SuperDonkeyKrunska26) is a salad bar, health-food store and tiny eatery all in one. Here you can enjoy wraps and colorful salads named Peruvian, Lebanese or Caucasian, made with veggies, nuts, seeds and creamy dressings, as well as homemade soups, smoothies and sweets. Lime & Carrot (limeandcarrot.com) is owned by a very talkative chef who even cooked for the Serbian tennis star Novak Djoković and who’s always ready to give useful health tips on any ingredient you mention. The Three Beans salad and pumpkin-vanilla soup will make you go back to try everything else on offer, and the owner will gladly mix a cold-pressed juice for you while singing along to the radio.

Places to Go For Wildlife And Nature in February

In this round-up we take to the land, sea and sky to bring you the top spots to discover wildlife and nature in February.

For land-lovers, snow leopards and huge vistas of ice await in India; underwater explorers can swim with whale sharks in the balmy waters of the Philippines; and there’s a special treat for spotters who can bear witness, not only to spectacular birdlife in Japan, but to the spectacle of millions of monarch butterflies taking flight in Mexico.
ladakh
Head to Ladakh, India, for snow leopards and ice trekking

Brrrrrrr! It’s not warm in the Himalayan heights of northwest India right now (days around 21°F; -6°C). But it’s worth braving the cold for a couple of very special experiences. Wildlife fans should head for Hemis National Park, home to a 400-year-old monastery, and one of the few places on the planet where the elusive snow leopard isn’t quite so elusive. During winter mating season – which peaks in February – the high-dwelling big cats descend to the valleys here to find mates, making them easier to spot. Alternatively, trekkers can check out the Chadar. This challenging winter hike starts near Leh, and uses the frozen Zanskar River as its path – walking on this icy meander is the only way to access the highland villages at this time. February is when the ice is at its most stable; the temperature is biting, but the snow-cloaked mountains spectacular.
Trip plan: Fly to Leh. Hemis is 6 miles (10 km) south, where guided treks in the Tarbuns Valley may yield leopards. The Chadar hike starts in Chilling, 40 miles (65 km) from Leh, and takes six days.
Need to know: Leh is at 11,483ft (3500m) so stay well-hydrated to help altitude acclimatisation.
Other months: Nov-Mar – cold, snowy (Jan-Feb: Chadar possible); Apr-May & Oct – quiet, cool; Jun-Sep – best for regular trekking.
monarch

Watch millions of monarch butterflies take flight in Mexico

Visit Michoacán’s forests on a sunny February morning and you’ll witness an astonishing spectacle: hundreds of millions of orange-black wings flexing then fluttering as vast clouds of monarch butterflies take to the air. Each winter up to a billion of these incredible insects migrate thousands of miles from northeastern North America to the warmer climes of Mexico, specifically, Michoacán Province’s Oyamel fir forests, some of which are now protected as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve; head to the El Rosario or Sierra Chincua sections. Here the monarchs breed before returning to their summer grounds far, far to the north.
Trip plan: The butterfly reserves can be visited on a day trip from Mexico City or Morelia, but better to stay nearby, perhaps in Angangueo or Zitácuaro. Another option is a clockwise circuit from Mexico City, taking in the butterflies, the colonial charm of Morelia, artsy San Miguel de Allende and the Toltec/ Aztec pyramid site of Tula.
Need to know: Wildlife fans travelling now could combine butterflies with whales – either humpbacks off Puerto Vallarta (Pacific Coast) or grey whales off Baja California.
Swim with big fish in beautiful weather in the Philippines

Whale sharks are the world’s biggest fish, growing up to 13m long. Snorkelling alongside one is more like finning with a slow-moving train than a living creature. Simply, it’s up there with the greatest travel experiences. Donsol, a coastal village at the bottom of Luzon island, is one of the world’s best places to do it. During whaleshark season, which runs November to June (peaking February to May), there might be more than 10 whale sharks in the water at a time. Plenty of eco-operators run boat trips that allow you to snorkel with the fish in a sensitive fashion. Being the middle of the dry season, this is also a good time to explore further – the Philippines has over 7000 islands to choose from!
Trip plan: Fly from Manila to Legazpi, near Donsol, for whale sharks. Then fly south for cultural Cebu, the ‘Chocolate Hills’ and wildlife of Bohol, and the dazzling beaches of Panglao.
Need to know: Before embarking on a whale-shark trip, you must attend a briefing on how to behave around them.
Other months: Nov-Apr – dry; May-Oct – wet.
Visit Hokkaido for perfect powder, bird love and a whiskey or two

Hokkaido is Japan, but different. The northernmost of the country’s main islands is a wild, mountainous region with spectacular wildlife and a reputation for some of the finest powder snow on the planet. Snowstorms from Siberia sweep across and dust the west of the island – head to Niseko in February for world-class powder, with three large ski areas and plenty of backcountry to explore, with ski, board or snowshoe. Naturally there are steaming onsens in which to soak those weary bones after a hard day on the slopes – and plenty of spots to sip the local Nikka whisky. Winter is also the time for two of Japan’s most spectacular wildlife encounters. Head east across Hokkaido to Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary to witness the extraordinary courtship dance of the 5ft-high (1.5m) red-crowned crane and to the small town of Rausu to see hordes of white-tailed and Steller’s sea eagle – with a wingspan of up to 8ft (2.5m), arguably the world’s largest.

Best Architecture for travellers

Don’t know the difference between a plinth and a pilaster? You don’t need to be an expert to recognise a good building but understanding a little about architectural history and theory can make a walk around an unfamiliar city all the more rewarding.

Get to grips with the basics and see how many styles you can identify while on the road with our simple guide.
Classical

Era: 850 BC to 476 AD
The mother of all architectural styles, the elegant proportions and stately poise of classical architecture sired a legion of later revivals. The grand temples and civic structures of ancient Greece and Rome followed strict rules known as the ‘orders’ of architecture. The three most important are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian; all easily recognisable from their capitals (the decorative bit at the top of the columns).
How to spot it: Doric: plain capitals. Ionic: scroll-like capitals. Corinthian: elaborate capitals with carved acanthus leaves.
Where to find it: the Colosseum or Pantheon in Rome; the Acropolis, Athens.
Byzantine

Era: 330-1453
With glittering mosaics and more domes than a field full of mole hills, Byzantine architecture was built to impress. Walking into a lavishly decorated basilica with high domed ceilings and a blanket of gold ornamentation, worshipers would have been under no illusions about the power and wealth of the emperors.
How to spot it: multiple domes and sumptuous decoration.
Where to find it: Aya Sofya, Istanbul; St Mark’s Basilica, Venice; Sacré Coeur, Paris (Byzantine revival).
Romanesque

Era: 900-1200
The heavyweight of medieval architecture, Romanesque (called Norman in the UK) buildings were big, brawny and simple. A lack of technical know-how meant thick walls, massive columns and rounded arches were necessities while windows were small, vaults were built like barrels and decoration was confined to lozenges, chevrons or zigzags.
How to spot it: rounded arches and thick columns.
Where to find it: Leaning Tower of Pisa; San Gimignano, Italy; Durham Cathedral, England.
Gothic

Era: 12th-16th centuries
The lovechild of improved building techniques and European prosperity, the Gothic style spawned buildings that were taller, lighter and brighter than ever before. Embraced by the church and state, the new style quickly swept across Europe. The key element is the pointed arch but the strength of the Gothic revival from the mid-18th to mid-20th century means that many you see will be much later in date.
How to spot it: pointed arches, narrow columns, ribbed vaulting, towering spires, flying buttresses.
Where to find it: Notre Dame, Paris; Westminster Abbey, London; Cologne Cathedral, Germany.
Renaissance

Era: 14th-17th century Europe
It’s revision time. Remember those classical orders of architecture? They’re back in fashion. As classical philosophy and ideas on arts and literature were revived, architects too returned to the proportion and symmetry of classical Greek structures but embellished them in lavish ways.
How to spot it: classical style of columns, pediments and domes refined and developed.
Where to find it: Florence and Milan Cathedrals; Louvre, Paris; St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
Baroque and rococo

Era: 1600-1750
With all the pomp and pomposity of a powdered wig, baroque architecture was a sugary confection of extravagant ornamentation. The baroque period added more elaborate decorative features to buildings than ever before and by the late 18th-century had become the totally theatrical rococo, where every surface was awash with flamboyant flourishes.
How to spot it: extensive ornamentation, ceiling frescoes, dramatic use of light.
Where to find it: Versailles, France; Trevi Fountain, Rome; St Paul’s, London.
Neoclassicism

Era: mid-18th century Europe
Repulsed by the sickly-sweet excesses of the rococo era, prim and proper neoclassicism returned to ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Unlike during the Renaissance, it played strictly by the rules in a sometimes severe reincarnation of the original styles.
How to spot it: columns, pediments and domes in strictly proportional designs.
Where to find it: The White House, Washington, DC; Hermitage, St Petersburg; Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.
Art nouveau

Era: 1890-1910
Curvy, leafy and forever associated with Paris thanks to its iconic Metro entrances, art nouveau was a short-lived movement that saw weaving, plant-like designs and flowing natural forms permeate everything from furniture design to architecture.
How to spot it: flowing lines, organic forms and decorative plant-like designs.
Where to find it: Musée Horta, Brussels; Paris Metro entrances; Lavirotte Building, Paris.
Art deco

Era: 1915-1930
All the glamour and sophistication of the roaring 20s is reflected in art deco architecture and its expensive materials and clean, geometric design. Flappers danced in jazz clubs, the great Gatsbys threw wild parties and architects cleverly used minimal decoration to create a sense of unbridled luxury.
How to spot it: use of chrome, geometric motifs and strong colours.
Where to find it: Chrysler Building; Empire State Building; Miami Beach; Napier, New Zealand.

Modernism

Era: early 20th century to 1980s
Austere, minimalist and unrepentantly plain, modernism insisted design should be dictated by function. Rectangular and cubist shapes, reinforced concrete, open-plan design, large windows and a lack of ornamentation are its hallmarks.
How to spot it: plain, rectilinear buildings using reinforced concrete and open-plan designs.
Where to find it: Boston City Hall; Barbican, London; Fallingwater, Pennsylvania; Brasília.
High-tech architecture

Era: 1960-1985
The architectural equivalent of wearing your clothes inside out, high-tech architecture gleefully embraced new technology and materials and showed it all off on the outside. Inside, these buildings had flexible layouts with moveable room divisions.
How to spot it: pipes and structural elements on the outside of the building.
Where to find it: Centre Pompidou, Paris; HSBC HQ, Hong Kong; Patscenter, Princeton.
Postmodernism

Era: 1960s to present
Experimental, controversial and playful, postmodernism replaced the puritanical principles of modernism with fun, irony and bright colours. Anything goes in this movement making it hard to recognise, but whimsical references to classical architecture were common and frequently provoked scorn.
How to spot it: bright colours mixed with odd shapes and a nod to the classical orders.
Where to find it: Staatsgalerie extension, Stuttgart; The Portland Building; MI6 London; M2 Tokyo.
Neo-futurism

Era: 1960s to present
Wilder than a Hollywood sci-fi set department, neo-futurism blends the latest technologies with brilliant minds and unbridled creativity, pushing materials and concepts beyond all previous boundaries. Buildings bend and twist in mysterious ways, lean at impossible angles and sweep along in undulating curves.
How to spot it: sharp free-form curves and fragmented geometry.
Where to find it: Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Azerbaijan; City of Arts & Sciences, Valencia; The Gherkin (30 St Mary’s Axe), London.