Monday, August 27, 2012

Be Your Own Tour Guide

One of the best ways to see a city is by walking around it, but walking tours can be spendy. You can still take a guided tour without having to book a tour or go with a bunch of strangers. With Stray Boots, you can take tours in the UK or US at your own pace and when you can fit it into your schedule. You don’t need to be on someone else’s time. Not only do you learn interesting things about the city you’re visiting, but it combines education and history with a cool scavenger hunt feel. You play your tour by cell phone text messages. You don’t need a fancy smartphone either.

Right now, you can play in Covent Garden, City of London, Westminster and Oxford. Soon, you will also be able to tour Windsor, Edinburgh and a lot more destinations. Through clues and fun facts, you can see the city from a unique perspective. This is the perfect way to go on a tour without all the structure and it’s great for kids and adults alike. Each tour can last two to three hours, even more if you choose to spend more time at any of the stops along the way.

Photos of Covent Garden, London
This photo of Covent Garden is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Want your children to get a fun educational experience while you’re on vacation, then you’ll definitely all think Stray Boots’ treasure hunt walking tours are awesome. Put your heads together to come up with answers to questions texted to you and earn points that you can redeem for more fun facts! It doesn’t matter if there are two or ten of you, you can all work on one phone and even switch phones to make someone else “captain”. Each tour is just £12 per person and £6 for kids, though I’m not sure how they regulate how many are in your team.

Photos of Covent Garden, London

This photo of Covent Garden is courtesy of TripAdvisor

You have a year to use your voucher, so if something comes up, you can do it some other time. It’s all up to you! Check out Stray Boots now to get started!

Friday, August 24, 2012

How To Fit In with Foreigners

When you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, things can easily get lost in translation. If you’re just sightseeing, that’s not such a bad thing, but if you’re trying to make a deal or a business transaction, it can certainly make things very complicated. With Rosetta Translation, you can make sure you completely understand those documents you’re signing or can offer several different copies for those that don’t speak your language. Rosetta is a translation agency that offers worldwide translation services to anyone who needs them.

You may not be a business traveler, but that doesn’t mean their services can’t be beneficial to you. Say you find yourself hospitalized in a foreign country and are asked to read or sign a document that you can’t understand. You can use Rosetta to translate these papers for you in your native language before you do anything. Of course, you may not have the luxury of having any paperwork and find yourself trying to communicate with no chance of understanding the other person or them you. Make it easier on yourself by using Rosetta’s interpreting services, where they can help you lower the language barrier and get your message across as well as that of who you are speaking to.

Maybe you’re trying to rent a house in a country where English isn’t spoken and your contract is written in that local language. Before you sign anything, have it looked over by a professional translator. The same goes for renting out your properties for foreign travelers. Not only will you be able to easily cater to those that come from all over the world, but you will know that you are not being misunderstood and you won’t lose rental fees because you can’t communicate with worldwide travelers. This is the perfect time to use Rosetta’s translation services for your personal gain. You’ll be known as someone who is easy to deal with and could possibly gain more business because of your use of a translation company.
These interpretive services can also be used in a business setting, for meetings, one-on-one dealings and more. An interpreter can come to you location and help make your transaction go as smoothly as possible. International business dealings are not uncommon in this day and age and it’s helpful to have a translation agency on your side that can give you accurate information. If you’re in need of such services, make sure you visit Rosetta Translation’s website to see how they can help you.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for which I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Post: Top Travel Insurance Tips

Today's guest post comes from Joe Johnson, aka Backpack Joe. (this post originally ran on ShereenTravelsCheap)

Going on holiday is invariably one of the highlights of the year, unless of course you’re a wealthy oil tycoon and your whole year is one big holiday, but since you’re reading this, I’d wager that you’re not (what oil tycoon needs travel insurance?!). Everything about going on holiday is exciting, planning which restaurants to go to, flip-flop shopping, frantically scrabbling to locate your passport in the ‘safe’ draw, getting travel insurance… Oh wait.

Ok, almost everything about preparing for a holiday is exciting, and while travel insurance may be an unwelcome aside, it is nevertheless necessary, if only to give you piece of mind. Getting injured, falling ill or having your laptop pilfered is inconvenient in the outskirts of Coventry, but when you’re in an unfamiliar country where you don’t speak the language, it can be more than distressing. Best shell out for travel insurance then. Here are some tips for ensuring you get the right type of insurance, and getting the most out of it should you need to use it.

1. Get Insurance 
Sounds obvious right? Maybe, but so many people make the mistake of not taking out travel insurance and regretting it afterwards when they end up with hospitals bills for thousands of pounds/dollars. You wouldn’t take to the road without car insurance, so don’t take a holiday without travel insurance.

2. Get the right Type of Insurance
Travel insurance covers many different things: injury, illness, delayed flights, loss or theft of possessions, and while you don’t want to go away without any kind of insurance you need to get the type that will suit your trip. If you’re going backpacking for example, you won’t need the same kind of insurance that would be suitable for, say, a business trip.

3. Abide by the Rules
As we all know, insurance policies are riddled with loop holes, so make sure you tick all the boxes by obeying the rules. This means checking in on time so you can claim if your flight is delayed.

4. Report Theft Immediately
If you are unfortunate enough to have your possessions stolen on holiday (or carelessly lose them), you must report to the local police in order to record the loss or theft. A crime reference number will usually be given. Failure to do this may mean you cannot claim on your policy.

5. Take Notes
If you do claim, your insurance company will want to know the precise details of what happened. Make sure you note every last detail down – what happened, when it happened, where it happened and why it happened. Make sure your story is water-tight or you’ll get caught out!

6. Get Luggage Insurance
We all know how heavy-handed ground staff at the airport can be. Not a problem if you have suitcases full of clothes, but a real risk of you have prized items in tow like a snowboard, guitar or canoe. Make sure any, large fragile, valuable items are insured. Oh, and always padlock your suitcase. Use TSA approved locks.

7. Keep Your Insurers Abreast of Changes
If you make any changes ahead of your holiday, be that changes to your schedule, holiday dates, hotel, car rental details or anything even mildly significant , be sure to inform your insurers so your policy can be adjusted accordingly.

8. Buy in Bulk
If you are travelling as a couple or a family, get group coverage. It’ll work out a lot cheaper than buying individual policies.

9. Think Long-term
The reason travel insurance can sometimes seem very expensive can simply be because you’re unprepared and disorganised. If you think you’ll be going away multiple times through the course of a year (lucky you) then buy a year's coverage since it’ll work out cheaper than buying many short-term policies. Consider what kind of holidays you’ll be going on, too. Skiing holidays require a different type of coverage than beach holidays.

10. Be Persistent with Claims
By their very nature, insurance companies don’t want to pay out for claims. They’ll try every trick in the book in an attempt to refute a claim. For this reason, you need to be persistent when claiming or insurance companies will brush you aside with legal jargon.

Joe is a travel blogger from the UK who always takes out insurance before going away! You can follow Joe on Twitter @joe__johnson__ or his blog.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Three Great Travel Apps for the UK

Even though Britain is not huge, it can still be tough to find your way around or plan a holiday without some help.

Photo Credit
What better help than Britain’s favorite footballer, David Beckham? Okay, there’s probably a lot more qualified travel advisors, but he’s a traveler and knows what he likes. He also loves his country enough to tell the Olympic coordinators that they should let an actual Olympian carry the torch instead of him. Imagine that! Beautiful and humble. Anyway, The Best of Britain App is a great download for those that want valuable information and also a peek at what Beckham loves most about it. His top 10 is only a small part of a very awesome app.

Photo Credit
Want to visit London without missing a thing? Then you’ll want to go download the free London Official City Guide App. Not only will it show you the best of the best in town, you’ll also get alerts on deals, special events and secret happenings going on. It’s like you’re totally in the know!

Photo Credit
Not specifically for the UK, the Arounder Touch App allows you to sightsee without getting off the couch! Of course, seeing the amazing places you COULD be going will be motivation enough with this app that gives you 360 degree views of famous visitor attractions. See museums, cathedrals, views from mountaintops and more, then start planning your own trip to go there or somewhere new that you can take your own videos of.

Do you have a favorite travel app that you’d like to share?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Products We Love: Stila Convertible Color

I’m a huge fan of multiuse items, so I was overjoyed when I walked into my local Sephora, looking for cheek stain, and stumbled up on Stila’s Convertible Color. It solves two issues at once and also gives you a healthy glow. Convertible color compacts come in a variety of hues and serve as both a blusher and moisturizing tint. The colors are vibrant and easy to apply. You don’t have to put them in your bag of liquids when you fly, either, which is a huge plus, as it saves you space in there and also does the job of two products.

You can purchase Convertible Color in the following hues: Fuschia, Gladiola, Gerbera, Lillium, Peony, Petunia, Poppy and Rose. With a just a few taps of your finger, you can get that exact shade on both your cheeks and lips. I have had a compact for a few months and it is still practically full, so you know it will last a long time and give you the bang for your buck you need to keep one in your travel bag at all times. Check out this video below to see how amazing it is.

Stila Cosmetics are available worldwide and can be purchased from a variety of sources. gives customers around the globe free shipping or you can pay £14.95 once and get unlimited next day shipping for the whole year. That’s a bargain, yeah? You’re definitely going to find this to be a beauty product you don’t want to leave home without.

Do you have a favorite product that is dual purpose?

Monday, August 13, 2012

5 Places to View the London Skyline for Less

So, everyone knows that they can get an amazing view of the skyline of England’s capital from the famous London Eye, but queues can be long and admission is a bit expensive. Why not check out amazing views for less from some of these places?

Photo Credit
1.       Tower Bridge Exhibition. The walkways above the bridge give a great view of London from both directions. See the Tower of London, boats on the Thames and so much more including the London Eye.
2.      National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Go to the top and see amazing views over Westminster. It’s also FREE.
3.      OXO Tower. The 8th floor viewing platform is a fab place to get some photos of the London scenery. If you’re ready to hang out and relax, you can grab a bite to eat in the restaurant or a drink at the bar.
4.      Lewisham’s Telegraph Hill. Another freebie. Climb to the top of Telegraph Hill for panoramic views of London. This is the perfect place to bring a picnic and your camera.
5.      London Zoo. If you’re going there anyway, on a clear day you can get some nice views of Central London…and a collection of lovely animals.

Do you have a favorite place to see the London landscape?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Let Me Plan Your Trips!

Do you hate planning your vacations (like what you will do, where to eat and where to go) or just don’t have the time to research anything other than airfare? Why not let me do it for you. You choose how much you want to do, give me a budget you have to work with, tell me what dates you are traveling and what kinds of things you like to do and I’ll come up with a bunch of options for you to approve or deny that I can work around to come up with more things to add to your selections and then build you a custom itinerary. All you have to do is buy tickets or make reservations and go do it! Simple, right? I can even help you find a hotel!
Need budget ideas for where or when to go, I can definitely help you out there, too. Here are the things I can do for you:
·    Give you great hotel recommendations – if you need or want one – based on your budget and
·      Create an awesome list of things to see and do, including tours, activities, festivals and not-to-miss attractions.
·        You choose what sounds good and what doesn’t from the ideas I give you.
·        Build you a totally amazing customized itinerary for your whole trip based on what you choose from my list of great finds and ideas. (Have specific stores you want to visit, too? Let me know, so you don’t waste time going back when you were in the neighborhood doing something else on another day!)
·    Give you dining recommendations for each day out built into your itinerary, because you’re gonna want to eat and you’re gonna want a plan for wherever you are when you get hungry. (Don’t worry, I’ll give you some budget dining tips and you can tell me what kinds of food you like!)
·      Send you full instructions on how to get the best deal on the amazing things you chose, so you can quickly buy tickets and book reservations for your trip without wasting time researching it all. Yup, I’m wonderful like that!
Your custom itinerary will be be delivered within 2 weeks of final emails confirming which type of activities you (and your family/travel companion) like and dislike. (Approximate prices in GBP is £5 | £16 | £32)

Does £32  seem like a lot of money for having someone plan your trip? Between the money and time I will save you, that will be a drop in the bucket! Got questions on how this all works? Send me an email.

Custom Travel Planning

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

London Bargains Abound

Right about now everyone is either at the Olympic games or staying far away, because the talk of huge crowds and crap traffic has kept them out of the city when possible. Amazingly, it worked so well that now tourists have changed all their plans and avoided London altogether, too. Of course, the airfare taxes have not helped. If you were hoping to make a trip into London, now is the time to do it. The city is like a ghost town outside the Olympic Stadium and merchants and hotels are suffering. Snap up deals where you can and also have a lot of the capital to yourself. Perfect for sightseeing and shopping!

View of Tower of London from Tower Bridge.
·         If you’ll actually be traveling for the games, make sure to use your included travel card to save money on transportation. It’s good for zones 1-9 on the day of your event.
·         If you won’t be traveling for the games, then buy an Oyster card or Travelcard or a pack of passes for travel on public transportation. It will save you quite a bit over paying each time you need to use the underground or bus.
·         Hit up free attractions, like Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert, Imperial War Museum, the British Library, National Portrait Gallery, the Changing of the Guard and more.
·         Want stellar views of the city without spending big bucks? Skip the London Eye and head for Tower Bridge. You can get the same views for much less from the historic walkways.
·         Staying for a while? Think about purchasing a London Pass and save substantially on a long list of attractions, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe.
·         Bring your own snacks into the Olympic Stadium if you’ll be going. You can also bring an empty bottle and fill up once inside. Pack a few of those handy ice tea packets and you can mix it in and have a tastier beverage.

For those that don’t live in Britain and need a primer on British slang, here’s a handy guide.

Do you have any other last-minute tips for visiting London during the Olympics?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lake Como Budget Activities

On Monday, we looked at what makes Lake Como so amazing. If you're interested in planning your own trip, here are just a few budget activities you may like to include:

Villa Balbianello - True Star Wars fans make the pilgrimage to Lenno to view the famous wedding spot. Heck, it's even available for weddings, but that's not the budget part. For only a few euro per person, you can take a water taxi over to Lenno and for €5 you can view gardens of the villa and for €11 you can gain entry into the villa and gardens.

Funicular Railway - Want to see the best views of Como? Well, for just  € 5.10 you can get a round-trip ticket on the railway, built in 1894, to Brunate. Amazing views of the Alps and Como. Make sure you bring your walking shoes, or else catch the bus to the lookout and lighthouse. For €20 you can get a return ticket and dinner. Choose from a variety of restaurants participating in the promotion. Allow for enough time to explore the village of Brunate and take pictures.

Villa Carlotta - Love plants and flowers? Then this is a fun place for you to visit. See over 500 varieties for €9 at this luxurious palace build in the 1600's. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the gardens or have a quick bite at the coffee house.

Jungle Raider Park - Starting at just €10, you can choose one of five courses (or a combination of them) and zip line, traverse rope bridges and other awesome outdoor amusements that test your skills and get you out in the fresh air.