Things to Do in Bangkok During a 24-Hour Layover

Guest post by Alice Ross at For Travelista

Many travelers have to change aircraft at the airport in Bangkok and end up with some free time in the city.

 

Most flights going through the Bangkok airport have connecting flights scheduled pretty close together, so you don’t need to wait too long for your next flight. But what if your layover is longer than a few hours? Or maybe you’ve got 24 hours to spend in the city before you fly out? You don’t want to wait at the airport for too long! We all know lounges can be expensive and massage chairs are not always enough to keep you comfortable. One of the best ways to use your free time is to explore Thailand’s capital city.


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Getting There

It’s easy to get to the main city of Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Not only is the Airport Rail Link fast, but it’s also affordable. For only 150 Baht, you can take the 30-minute ride from the airport to Makkasan Station. As the closest station to the main city, it will be your starting point.

Another option is riding in a taxi. They easily are available from the airport’s ground floor. While not as cheap as taking the train, taxis are a more convenient way to get around. However, you have to know that rush hour and rainy days are not the best times to take a taxi as you might spend hours sitting in it. Also, ask your driver to turn on the meter before hopping in it, unless you want to get ripped off, of course.

Things to Do in Bangkok

Attractions

So, where should you go? It’s best to make the attraction you want to see first your direct destination from the airport. Note that some places, especially temples, may refuse your entry if you’re not wearing proper clothing. Do not wear flip-flops, sleeveless shirts, or shorts. This strict rule applies to both genders. If you happen to forget to wear the right clothing, there are many shops targeting tourists that will allow you to buy or rent a sarong or shoes.

You can start by soaking up some of the local culture. The Grand Palace is an amazing example of Thai culture and probably the most iconic landmark in Bangkok. This complex is where you will find Wat Phra Kaew that houses the famous 14th-century Emerald Buddha. The small architectural details and Buddhist shrines make the Grand Palace a tourist attraction that no foreign visitors should miss. The city’s cultural heart is a fascinating attraction that offers unique insight into the country’s history.

If the weather and time allow, you may want to take a tour from the River City complex on the Chao Phraya’s riverbank for an opportunity to see quickly see some of the city’s historical monuments. Weaving between the houses along the waterways of Bangkok and passing by the remarkable temples, such as the majestic Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn, you get a feel of authentic life in Bangkok. The tour will bring you up the river by longtail boat, and you’ll get to the calmer rice barge, where you’ll you can try some of the delectable cuisines.

Things to Do in Bangkok

Afternoon Shopping

Your trip to Bangkok is not complete if you haven’t experience exploring some of its many shopping markets. Considered as a shopper’s paradise, you can find anything you can think of here. Make sure to bargain for the best price for the products you want to take home with you.

Siam is the ultimate shopping district in Bangkok. Here, you will find rows of mega malls sitting that house some of the biggest brands in fashion. You can spend your whole day walking around the malls and still not see them all. So, if you have limited time in Siam Paragon, you may want to check out Siam Center and Central World first, as they offer the best combination of designers, high street brands, and boutiques. While MBK is infamous among travelers, it is the best place to go if you’re looking for cheap trinkets.

Another place you may want to go is in Platinum Fashion Mall located in Pratunam. Platinum is a one-stop shop for those who are looking wholesale finds that specializes in fashion brands. The many options available might be intimidating for some, but if you’re looking for something special, it is a worthwhile stop.

Things to Do in Bangkok

The Nightlife

And of course, you cannot truly experience Bangkok unless you see its nightlife. If you have a low to mid-range budget, you can find a lot of affordable bars that target tourists. Khao San Road is probably the most popular street in Bangkok, if not, in all of Thailand – partly for having the most bars per square foot in the whole country.

Another popular area for lowball partygoers is Silom Soi 4. In this area is where you will find Langsuan, which is popular for its live music. Sukhumvit Road, on the other hand, has a lot of Irish, British, German, and American-style pubs. You can enjoy live DJ music here as well.

If you are looking for bigger, more upscale clubs, then you must check out RCA. You will find six big clubs located close to one another. While many bars don’t have a dress code, you might still want to dress well, just in case.

As the main hub of Thailand, Bangkok offers travelers plenty of opportunities to have a lot of fun even in a short amount of time. If you have a flight connection in this exciting city, be sure to check out the many things to do in Bangkok during a 24-hour layover.

Alice Ross ForTravelista


Alice Ross is a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. You can read about her travels at For Travelista.


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things to do in bangkok

Take a Day Trip through the Lavender in Provence

June through August each year, the Provence lavender fields come alive.

 

From muted mauves to vibrant violets, the lavender in Provence, France, is a rich array of colorful hues and refreshing scents that tantalize the senses. It was my dream for many years to see the lavender fields in bloom, and when that dream finally came true, it was one of the loveliest trips I have ever taken. In just one day, you can visit several small provincial towns and villages, stopping along the route to walk among fragrant fields of lavender or gaze at the stunning landscapes.

If you’re in France throughout the summer months, I highly recommend renting a car and heading to Provence for a day or two—I promise you won’t be disappointed. In addition to lavender, you’ll find no shortage of heritage, history, culture, and cuisine.

Lavender in Provence

When to Go

Typically, the lavender begins to bloom in June and is harvested in August. Of course, it’s up to Mother Nature to decide when the fields will be at their fullest, but if you visit sometime between the end of June and late July, you should have a good chance of seeing the lavender in all its glory. I visited at the end of June, and the lavender was at its prime. If I had visited any earlier, I think the blossoms would have been a lot less dense.

Lavender in Provence

Where to Stay

To make the most of your visit, you’ll want to hit the road early, so it’s a good idea to stay overnight in the area. Cavaillon is a small town in the center of the action. Located in Luberon National Park, it’s surrounded by beautiful vistas and quaint provincial towns. While there isn’t much to do in Cavaillon per se, it’s the perfect jumping off point for visiting many nearby attractions. I stayed at the Inter-Hotel Cavaillon Hôtel Du Parc, and I kid you not, it was the most delightful experience.

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

Situated just off the main road, there is plenty of free parking right outside the hotel, which is ideal since it’s necessary to have a car for your stay if you want to visit the surrounding communities and take a tour through the lavender. Upon entering the adorable inn, we were immediately greeted by the owner. She was eager to show us around and gives us tips on what to see during our stay. She was helpful, friendly, and very knowledgeable. The pride she had for her inn and community were absolutely infectious. And we absorbed every bit of advice she gave us like the good little sponges we are.

Lavender in Provence

The charming decor is exactly what you would expect from a hotel in Provence, with antiques and other adornments filling every empty space. There’s a huge breakfast room where, for about 10 Euros, you can enjoy delicious pastries, teas, and other goodies each morning. The spacious rooms are immaculate, cozy, and offer all the amenities you need for a most amazing stay.

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

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Map Out Your Route

I am all about advance planning, but there are so many possibilities for things to see and do in this region of France that it’s hard to narrow things down. I had a high-level idea of the types of things I wanted to see and do but nothing concrete. I told the innkeeper my ideas, and she quickly went to work highlighting several routes on a map, giving us a variety of options for places to visit. She included the top spots to see the lavender, as well as great places to grab a bite to eat and check out the local culture. All of her suggestions were spot on.

The map shown here details the exact route we took. Click the “More options” link opens up step-by-step driving instructions so you can follow the same route on your visit to the Provence lavender fields.

Morning – Lavender Museum

Start your day with a visit to the Lavender Museum just a 15-minute drive from Cavaillon in the community of Coustellet. Here, you’ll learn all about the history of lavender farms in France and the evolution of the distillation process. You’ll also find out how to tell authentic lavender from synthetic products. The cost is just 7 Euros-ish per person, and it includes a self-guided audio tour.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Plan to spend about 45 minutes exploring the museum, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from May through September. Be sure to arrive early to get ahead of the crowds. We got there just after opening, and by the time we left, tour buses were starting to arrive and carloads of people were pulling into the parking lot.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

In addition to the exhibits, Le Chateau du Bois boutique sells locally made lavender products. After you’ve picked up a few souvenirs—I grabbed a sachet for my closet—head outside for a first glimpse at the lavender in bloom. There is a small but wonderfully fragrant field where you can snap a few shots. It’s also where we learned from the “Beware of Snakes” signs that vipers like to hide out beneath the lavender bushes, so watch your step when you’re wandering through the fields (or driving the back roads, as I well learned).

lavender in provence

Mid-Morning – Sénanque Abbey

Next, make your way to Sénanque Abbey on the fringes of Gordes, a stunning hilltop town. It’s just a 20-minute drive from Coustellet along scenic country roads that wind around Gordes for phenomenal views of the village that is considered one of the most beautiful in all of France. It was about 11 a.m. when we arrived, and it was already packed. We lucked out and quickly got a parking space near the entrance to the entrance, but be prepared to walk a ways or wait a while for a good spot.

lavender in provence

The abbey is the quintessential stop for lavender enthusiasts. In fact, when you Google lavender fields, the iconic image that comes up is one of the stone abbey surrounded by fields of purple flowers. It’s every bit as beautiful in person as it is in pictures, though don’t expect to walk through the lavender. At best, you can view it from behind a tall stone wall or from the side.

Founded in 1148 by Cistercian monks, the abbey is home to a small community of monks who make their living growing lavender and tending honey bees. You can purchase some of their products in the abbey boutique, as well as a delightful selection of other lavender-related products. Here, I picked up some homemade honey, a brick of soap, perfume, another sachet, and a tote bag. Expect to spend less than an hour at the abbey.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Lunchtime

By now, your stomach will likely be grumbling. Make your way back to Gordes and park in one of the public stalls in the center of town. It costs just a few dollars for the entire day, but you likely won’t spend more than an hour or two. It will take only five or ten minutes to walk into town, which is defined by the white stone buildings that rise from the high above the cliff side and the labyrinth of winding cobblestone streets.

lavender in provence

Take some time to explore the local shops, which sell much the same lavender products as the abbey and every other boutique in Provence. Then, grab a bite to eat at one of the many street-side cafes. We opted to grab a Caprese sandwich and a lemon meringue tart from a local bakery, which we ate sitting on a rocky stairwell in the middle of the action and watched the world go by—one of my favorite things to do. After, we wandered around a bit more and enjoyed the beautiful views of the farms below the village before heading back to the car to continue our road trip.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Afternoon

My trip to this part of France was solely inspired by my desire to see the lavender fields in bloom so we continued our road trip north toward Sault. Since the development of synthetic lavender, many farmers have stopped growing the good stuff—it’s a lot of work for not a lot of reward (as we learned at the museum earlier in our trek). However, many farmers between Gordes and Sault still earn a living growing lavender, so it’s a must for anyone who shares my passion to see the fields in bloom. The drive takes about an hour, and there isn’t much to do in Sault once you arrive, but the beautiful vistas en route are worth every mile you put on your rental.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

We stopped numerous times along the highway to frolic in lavender fields and take pictures of the purple panoramas beneath the twisting road. I’m not going to lie, there’s a steep drop at times, and there are numerous turns on the impossibly narrow two-way route, but it’s not a long drive by North-American standards. You can take a break when you reach the top. Parking is a bit trickier here—you may need to circle around a few times before you can find a spot on a side street.

Sault itself is a small community. There are a handful of boutiques selling the tried and true lavender staples. Our fun find here was a nougat shop with the most delicious selection of flavors, including lavender, which we just had to try. Simply tell the shopkeeper how much you want, and she’ll chop off a chunk. You pay by weight.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

We also went to a nearby lavender distillery on the edge of town called Aroma Plantes. Here, you can take a tour of the facility to see how farmers extract the essence from the lavender. There’s also a small, interactive exhibit and a well-stocked shop filled with everything from lavender-infused essential oils to hair products. Our favorite feature was the on-site cafe serving up lavender-infused beverages of all kinds, as well as a selection of delicious snacks. I had the apple lavender juice and a lavender honey crepe. Both were divine. Plan to spend about a half hour wandering through Sault and an hour or so at the distillery.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Early Evening

I love packing my days as full as I can when I’m on vacation, so we decided to make one last stop before returning to Cavaillon. Located at the base of the Mont de Vaucluse, Roussillon is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s truly a gem. About a 40-minute drive from Sault, the lavender landscape gives way to majestic red cliffs and magnificent ochre quarries. There’s a public parking zone on the edge of the city that costs just a few bucks.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

We arrived around 5 p.m., which was early enough for the shops and restaurants to still be open but late enough that the crowds had died down a bit. We grabbed a gelato to tide us over and then made our rounds through the red stone streets. Roussillon looked quite different from the other towns we’d visited during the day, and we thoroughly enjoyed its uniqueness. Hands down, the most spectacular feature of this quaint community is the striking view of the vibrant cliffs jutting up over the towering trees and into the bright blue sky—amazing to behold. We spent about an hour and a half in Roussillon, which was plenty of time to walk through the maze of streets.

lavender in provence

Evening

The drive back to Cavaillon takes about 30 minutes. If you follow the same route we took and spend about the same amount of time in each location, means you’ll arrive back in Cavaillon around 7 p.m. Like most sleepy provincial towns, just about every restaurant is closed by this time. So I offer a few options to close out your evening with a delicious meal.

Across from the Roman Arch in the center of town, you’ll find a pizza truck. I know, you didn’t go all the way to France to eat pizza from a truck, but it’s good…like really good. They offer a ton of toppings, bake it fresh when you order, and it only costs about 10 Euros for an entire pie. There was a long lineup of people waiting for their orders when we arrived, so we figured it was worth a shot. We sat on the steps of the arch to eat and enjoyed a little more people watching.

Alternatively, make your way to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorge, a small but adorable community about 15 minutes from Cavaillon by car. Most of the restaurants close early, but there are a few who keep their doors open past 7 p.m.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

If you want to see the lavender in Provence, follow this jam-packed itinerary, and you can’t go wrong. Driving through Luberon is as easy as pie, so it makes for a peaceful and relaxing journey. If you’d rather let someone else do the driving, there are plenty of great—and affordable—day trips you can take, too. For me, this was a bucket list trip and one of my favorites of all time. Considering I have been to more than 50 countries and hundreds of cities, it takes a lot to impress me, and I would happily do this trip again and again and never get bored.

Did I miss anything? Are there other places to see the lavender in Provence you’d recommend? Leave a comment here to share your ideas!

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lavender in provence

 

Plan the Perfect Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

A day trip to Windsor Castle from London is a fun and easy way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a few hours.

 

Located just 30 miles from London, Windsor is a cozy community steeped in a rich royal history. Home to the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, as well as a bevy of unique boutiques and bistros, Windsor is the kind of place where you can while away the hours simply strolling the charming city streets or enjoying high tea in the afternoon.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

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Getting There

Making your way to Windsor Castle from London couldn’t be any easier. Trains run every 30 minutes from Paddington Station, one of the busiest train stations in the city. You’ll find easy-to-use electronic ticket kiosks inside the doors of the station where you can purchase your ticket to Windsor & Eton Central station. If you need assistance, simply locate one of the many staff members, and they’ll happily lend a hand.

Once you’ve purchased your ticket, look for the departures boards to find out when the next train arrives and which platform to catch it on. Some trains leave later but make more stops, so be sure to look for the fastest overall route. After about 30 minutes onboard, you’ll need to transfer trains at Slough station. It’s a very small station with only four platforms, so it’s pretty easy to get around. Upon arrival, check the departures signs to find out when the next Windsor-bound train arrives and which platform it will be on. They run very often, so if you just miss one, don’t fear. Another one will come soon, and the ride from Slough only to Windsor takes only 5 minutes. The entire trip takes about 40 minutes total, including the transfer.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

windsor castle

Pro Tip: If your schedule is flexible, purchase a ticket for off-peak travel. The trains will be less crowded and more affordable. An off-peak return ticket costs only about £12.

Things to Do

With of population of just over 32,000, Windsor has all the charm of a small town, but thanks to its very important royal residents, it’s got no shortage of things to do. Of course, Windsor Castle, best known these days as the site of Prince Harry and Meghan Marke’s nuptials, is the city’s main attraction. As one of the three official homes of the queen, the stately 900-year-old castle is a sight to behold.

windsor castle

When you get off the train, basically all you need to do is walk forward straight out of the station, and you’ll be within steps of the castle gates. Just follow the signs—it’s that easy. Depending on the time of year, the hours of operation change ever so slightly, but you can typically expect to find it open between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the peak season.

windsor castle

Though I’m born and raised in Canada, my grandma was from England, so I’m all about the royals, but I opted not to go inside. By 10 a.m., the line to get in was about a block long, and the cost of admission is hefty at more than £21 per ticket. I settled for a long-distance look from outside the castle walls. If you do intend to go inside, expect to spend between 90 minutes and three hours exploring the castle.

windsor castle

windsor castle

Shop Til You Drop

Aside from the castle, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned cash in Windsor. All around the castle, you’ll find sho-lined streets where you can purchase royal-themed souvenirs or one-of-a-kind gifts. The railway station itself is home to Windsor Royal Shopping. Open seven days a week, the shopping center features 40 brand-name retailers and a solid mix of restaurants and cafes.

windsor castle

windsor castle

Be sure to hit up Peascod Street, which is steps away from the train station and runs south-west from the entrance of Windsor Castle. The pedestrian street boasts a number of unique boutiques and eateries. In addition to cute side streets and alleyways, other nearby shopping streets include High Street and Thames Street.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

windsor castle

windsor castle
windsor castle

windsor castle

Windsor Yards Shopping Centre is located in King Edward Court, just steps away from the central train station. A variety of well-known retailers, such as Zara and Topshop, have set up shop here.

windsor castle
windsor castle
Afternoon Tea

Before heading back to London, enjoy afternoon tea at one of the many local eateries. I highly recommend pampering yourself with a mouthwatering meal at the luxurious Madame Posh on Peascod Street. I just dare you to walk by the window featuring all of the restaurant’s decadent delicacies without stopping to try one. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to get a picture of the window without a hoard of people ogling all of the desserts inside. While the restaurant does offer a delicious afternoon tea, I was in the mood for a savory crepe, or galette. And I simply couldn’t pass up the lemon meringue tarts. I ate outside at one of the faux-fur-lined tables. Both the atmosphere and the food were to die for. It was the perfect way to top off our day trip to Windsor Castle from London.

windsor castle

windsor castle

windsor castle

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

Pro Tip: Plan to spend anywhere from four to eight hours roaming the city’s main attractions and another hour for travel time on your day trip to Windsor Castle from London. We left Paddington Station at around 9:30 a.m. and returned at about 4:30 p.m. 

Windsor is just one of the many great day trips you can take from Paddington Station in London. For this reason, I recommend staying in the vicinity if you’re planning to get outside the city several times during your stay. The Point A Hotel London Paddington is a budget-friendly hotel that’s only a 5-minute walk from the station. Though it has only a two-star rating by hotel standards, most reviewers give it four or five stars on TripAdvisor. The rooms are spacious, clean, and recently renovated. If you like a little more luxury, I highly recommend Hazlitt’s Hotel. Located in Soho, it’s a bit of a trek to Paddington Station, but you’ll love its haunted history and quirky charms.

Where are your favorite places to visit in Windsor? What places have you traveled to from Paddington Station? Let us know in the comments section!

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Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

Things to Do in Austin

With a mild climate and more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Austin, Texas, is the perfect place for an exciting getaway.

 

Located in the heart of the Lone Star State, Austin grew from a modest frontier town in the 1830s to one of the most populous cities in the United States. Today, nearly 1 million people call Austin home, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.

Though best known for its lively music scene, Austin has much more to offer. Outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and foodies all rave about the amazing range of attractions and activities in Austin. Explore these fun ideas for things to do in Austin. Don’t worry if you find yourself short on time. You can enjoy many of Austin’s best sights in one jam-packed day.

Live Entertainment

things to do in Austin

Image via Flickr by Choose_Freewill

As the Live Music Capital of The World, most tourists plan to check out the live entertainment in Austin. Musicians show off their skills all over the city, from the airport to the grocery stores. There is no shortage of music festivals in the city, including the popular Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. Stop by any of the more than 250 music venues around Austin, including coffeehouses, bars, and concerts halls, to check out the local talent.

Outdoor Activities

things to do in Austin

Image via Flickr by enkrates

Venture to Pedernales Falls State Park to take a hike through Hill Country. Juniper Ridge Trail offers 9 miles of picturesque pathways through mesquite forest. For an unparalleled view of Austin, head over to Mount Bonnell. At 775 feet high, it’s the highest point in the city and a top tourist spot.

Nature lovers enjoy hiking the 809 acres of trails at Barton Creek Greenbelt in south-central Austin. The Greenbelt has loads of limestone bluffs for rock climbing and plenty of swimming spots, such as Campbell’s Hole.

Another excellent destination for nature lovers is Zilker Park. Located in the heart of Austin, the 351-acre outdoor area offers plenty of fun activities, from hiking and biking to kayaking and paddle boarding. Take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, which boasts a balmy 68 degrees year-round.

Historic Sites

things to do in Austin

Image via Flickr by wwward0

Make a trip to the Texas State Capitol to witness history in action and learn about local legislature. Grab a self-guided tour pamphlet to enjoy the building at your own pace or join one of the free, 30-minute guided tours for an insider look at the site.

In addition to the Texas State Capitol, many Austin museums offer free admission year-round or on certain days of the week, including the Austin Science and Nature Center, the Texas Military Forces Museum, The Contemporary Austin, and the LBJ Presidential Library.

Eating Out

things to do in Austin

Image via Flickr by Sean Loyless

If you love to eat, Austin is foodie heaven. Join an Austin Eats Food Tour to sample some of the best restaurants in the city. Another fantastic option is to check out the more than 1,000 food trucks in Austin that offer everything from craft meats and lobster rolls to deep-fried Oreo cookies and Tex Mex barbecue.

Looking for the perfect place for a weekend getaway? These are just a few of the fun things to do in Austin, Texas.

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things to do in Austin

Things To Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico – Museums to Markets

Located more than 7,200 feet high on the southwestern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo foothills, Santa Fe is a haven for history buffs and artists alike. As the oldest and highest capital city in the United States, Santa Fe dates back to 1610 and is home to just over 80,000 people. But don’t let its small size fool you. There are plenty of things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and lots of budget-friendly hotels to suit every taste.

From Spanish colonial architecture to Native-American arts and crafts, diverse cultures collide to create a vibrant and exciting array of tourist attractions. Nestled in a valley along a tributary of the Rio Grande, Santa Fe is surrounded by 1.5 million acres of national forest. The picturesque mountain town offers loads of outdoor fun as well as hundreds of restaurants, art galleries, and historical sites, all within walking distance.

History and Culture

Image via Flickr by sarahstierch

Steeped in rich history that’s teeming with Spanish influence and Native-American heritage, the Santa Fe Plaza is the cultural hub of the city. Built by the Spaniards at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, the National Historic Site is the perfect place to pick up traditional arts and crafts from local Native-American vendors. The square is always abuzz with activity, including markets, live music, and festivals.

Walking among the ancient buildings that surround the Plaza, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a time when bullfights were common on the streets. In addition to notable structures like San Miguel Mission, La Fonda Hotel, and the Palace of the Governors, check out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi just a short walk away.

Museums and Galleries

Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

Art lovers will want to check out the New Mexico Museum of Art in the Plaza before heading east to Canyon Road. Here, you’ll find the largest concentration of art galleries in the city. Walk for a half-mile amid adobe buildings, checking out the more than 100 galleries that feature everything from abstract to contemporary artworks by both up-and-coming artists and famous names like Fernando Botero.

Santa Fe is also home to nearly 20 traditional museums, including Museum Hill, which features four institutions in one convenient location. Other local highlights include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. For a unique experience, check out Meow Wolf. This is an interactive collection of art installations that showcases the work of more than 100 local artists.

Outdoor Activities

Image via Flickr by Oemar

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the many ski hills and hiking trails found in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. If you’re looking for adventure, head out on the Rio Grande for an exciting whitewater rafting experience. Alternatively, take a stroll through the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, which features 12 acres of beautiful landscapes and mountain views. Tourists with a little extra time on their hands might enjoy a trip to Bandelier National Monument. Located about 40 miles outside the city at the base of Frijoles Canyon, the monument is made up of cave dwellings and stone structures that were once home to the ancestors of the Pueblo peoples.

Whether you’re looking to take in the local culture or spend time in the great outdoors, you’ll find a wide variety of things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Things to do in Santa Fe

9 Useful Travel Gifts for the Traveler on Your Shopping List

Need to buy a gift for a traveler?

 

There are so many lists of holiday gift ideas for travelers, but they often include useless gadgets or kitschy trinkets. You know what I’m talking about—map-shaped necklaces and pictures with cutesy quotes. Sure, these items are adorable, but they aren’t especially useful travel gifts. If you want to get the travelers on your shopping list something they can really put to use on their next trip, check out these nine useful travel gifts.

Compression Socks

Flying can take a toll on the tootsies. Sitting for a long time can cause a traveler’s legs to swell. Compression socks squeeze your legs to keep blood flowing and minimize swelling. They’re a useful travel gift for anyone who takes a lot of long-haul flights.

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All-in-One Electrical Converter

There is nothing worse than electrical converters with lots of separate pieces that are easy to lose and clunky to carry around. Without fail, parts go missing or the wrongs ones get packed. An all-in-one converter ensures the traveler on your shopping list is never without the parts they need when they need them.

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eReader

Books are heavy and impractical to take on long journeys. Lighten the load for the traveler on your list with an eReader. Be sure to get one that’s got a lot of battery life. The tablet-style eReaders tend to last only a few hours. These aren’t ideal for long-haul flights or lengthy layovers. Go with a more traditional eReader, like Kindle Paperwhite (my personal favorite).

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Sewing Kit

I can’t tell you how often I’ve popped a button or got a hole my leggings while on the road. Travelers often plan on wearing things a few times per trip, so rips and tears can put a real snag in their plans. A mini sewing kit can be a true lifesaver and the ultimate useful travel gift.

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First-Aid Kit

Whether it’s a blister that cropped up on a long walk or a burn from a flat iron, accidents happen. Make sure the travelers in your life are well-prepared for whatever comes their way.

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Packing Cubes

Travelers are always looking for ways to save space in their bags. Packing cubes keep everything neatly nipped and tucked. They’re especially fantastic for those times when the TSA does a bag inspection and everything falls out all over the place.

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Toiletry Bag

Toiletry bags take a beating. Bottles and tubes burst inside causing a mess. Or they get overstuffed and rip at the seams. There are always new styles coming out that use stronger fabrics or offer more convenient ways to organize items.

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Document Organizer

In a mobile world, why would anyone need a document organizer? Travelers still need to carry around paperwork, including vouchers for places that don’t accept mobile tickets, money in all kinds of currencies, passports, visas, and proof of vaccinations. A document organizer can be a saving grace.

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Selfie Stick

From the desert dunes of Morocco to the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, a selfie stick is a great way to get the perfect picture. Selfie sticks are a particularly useful travel gift for the solo traveler on your shopping list.

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If you’re tired of buying gifts that get shoved in a box and forgotten, these nine useful travel gifts are ideal for the travelers on your shopping list.

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3 Tips for Traveling with Medications

Are you traveling with over-the-counter or prescription medications?

 

If you need to take regular doses of medication, you’ll want to make sure you have everything with you when you travel. A lot of people assume they can simply put everything they need in their suitcase or carry on. But it’s not always that simple. In fact, there are actually a lot of rules and regulations, from airport security checks to border crossings. Follow these three tips for traveling with medications to ensure you arrive at your destination with everything you need to enjoy your vacation.

1. Keep It in Your Carry-On

traveling with medications

Be sure to pack any prescription medications in your carry-on, even if you don’t take them regularly or don’t plan on taking them during your flight. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people break this golden rule for traveling with medications—even yours truly. While it’s pretty rare, bags do sometimes go missing. It’s a hassle to replace lost medications in an unfamiliar place, especially if you don’t have a copy of your prescription. There’s also the possibility that your medication isn’t readily available in other parts of the world. That could really ruin a holiday.

If you’re asked to check your carry-on at any point in your journey due to overcrowded overhead bins, be sure to remove your medications first. On a recent trip, I thought I’d won the lottery when I found out my flight offered valet service. For those of you who haven’t experienced the wonders of valet, it’s when the flight crew takes your bag as your board the plane and returns it to you as you exit. Since I knew there was no chance my bag would go missing, I didn’t remove my asthma inhaler. I only use it a few times a week, so I figured the chances of needing it over the next few hours weren’t very good. Wrong…almost as soon as I took my seat, I felt my chest constrict. Don’t make the same mistake.

2. Passing Airport Security Checks

traveling with medications

Savvy traveler or not, these days, you’d have to be living under a rock not to know the 3-1-1 rule for packing liquids and gels, like shampoo and perfume, in your carry-on. But the rules are a little less black and white when it comes to traveling with medications. Generally speaking, there are no restrictions on the amount of medication you can pack in your carry-on bag, even if it’s in liquid form. As long as the amount of medication you’ve packed seems reasonable for the amount of time you’ll be away from home, you should be good to go. And prescription medication in liquid form does not need to fit in the standard 1-quart bag. That said, you must inform security officers of any liquid medications larger than 3.4 ounces at the start of the checkpoint process so they can do additional screening.

It’s a good idea to keep all medications—over-the-counter and prescription—in their original containers. Don’t cram them all into one case to save room in your suitcase. You’ll also want to let security offices know about freezer packs, syringes, and other items related to your medications. It doesn’t hurt to have a letter from your doctor explaining the reason for your medications or medical supplies, especially if they involve injectables. Keep in mind that some airlines will not allow you to take needles onboard for security reasons. Always be sure to check with your airline just in case.

You can find a comprehensive list outlining the rules of thumb for different types of medications on the My TSA mobile site or app. Simply select the type of medication you plan to pack, and the site offers tips about what you need to do to get it through security without any hassle.

3. Getting Across the Border

traveling with medications

Just because you’re not flying the friendly skies doesn’t mean the rules for traveling with medications don’t apply to you. It’s a little-known fact that you may not make it across the border in another country if you’re carrying certain kinds of medications. Be sure to check if there are any restrictions or special requirements when it comes to bringing medications across the border into another country. For example, some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, won’t let you bring codeine into the country without obtaining permission prior to your trip. Always check with the consulate or embassy of the place you plan to visit to see if you can bring your medications into the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website often provides links to the local authorities that can help guide your choices. All you need to do is enter the country you’re visiting to find lots of helpful travel medical information.

If you’re headed out on vacation and are planning on traveling with medications, be sure to follow these three tips to be sure you have a safe and worry-free holiday.

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3 Tips for Knowing How Much Money to Bring on a Cruise

One of the tops questions when it comes to cruising is how much money to bring.

 

The good news is that when it comes to the cruise itself, you don’t actually need any money at all. You could—quite literally—come as you are, and you wouldn’t need to spend a dime. That’s because most cruises are more or less all-inclusive. Your fare includes your room—known as a cabin or a stateroom on a cruise ship—as well as your food, transportation to all cruise ports, and onboard entertainment. Of course, if you want to spend more money on a cruise, there are plenty of ways you can upgrade the standard offerings to make your vacation even more memorable. But you don’t have to spend more than your base fare if you don’t want to. Now, most people usually end up dropping a few dollars on the ship and in the ports they visit, so you’ll like want to stash a bit of cash in your wallet. But how much? That’s where things get a bit sticky. Check out these three helpful tips for knowing how much money to bring on a cruise.

Find Affordable Pre- and Post-Cruise Accommodations

 1. Paying for Onboard Activities

Money to Bring on a Cruise

When it comes to onboard activities, you actually don’t need any physical cash. In fact, the ship won’t let you pay in cash for any of your purchases. Either when you check in online or when you arrive at the port, you’ll be asked to provide a credit card for each person staying in your room. You can each use a different credit card or the same one—it’s entirely up to you. Every time you buy a poolside cocktail, a shore excursion from the activities desk, a souvenir from the shop, or play the slots in the casino, the charges will go straight on your credit card. It’s that easy. Of course, this also has its disadvantages. It’s easy to lose track of your spending and end up with a hefty bill at the end of your cruise. A great way to prevent any unexpected surprises is to ask guest services for a breakdown of your charges every day or two if the cruise line doesn’t offer an app that lets you see for yourself.

Pro Tip: It’s easy to get carried away treating yourself to a few extras when you’re on vacation. Set yourself a daily allowance and do your best to stick to it!

2. Traveling to Popular Destinations

how much money to bring on a cruise

If your cruise itinerary is headed to popular places like Barcelona or Rome, it’s pretty safe to assume they’ll accept plastic. Pay for any purchases over $10 using a credit card to reduce the amount of cash you need to carry. Have a bit of pocket change in case you want to eat at a street vendor or buy a souvenir from a mom and pop shop. I usually recommend taking the equivalent of $20 to $30 in local currency per day. It’s enough to grab a coffee and a magnet. If you need more, popular destinations will likely have an ATM where you can get more cash on the go.

Pro Tip: Your bank likely won’t accept any coins for exchange when you return home, so make sure to use them all up first. Save the bills if you can.

3. Venturing into Parts Unknown

how much money to bring on a cruise

Knowing how much money to bring on a cruise gets a wee bit trickier when you’re headed into less popular parts of the world. Typically, itineraries offered by river cruises or sailing ships venture into smaller ports that larger ships can’t get into. Sometimes, these places are so small they don’t have an ATM or the ability to accept credit cards, especially in Asia. That said, these places tend not to offer a lot of high-priced items for sale, so you don’t have to worry about having a lot of cash on hand. You’ll likely be able to get by with $20 to $50 in local currency per day, depending on how thrifty you want to be. At markets in Southeast Asia, you can get a whole new outfit for under $10, for example.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to a place like Mexico or the Caribbean, they’ll likely accept U.S. dollars, so you may not need to exchange any money at all. 

Follow these simple tips for knowing how much money to bring on a cruise and you’ll be all set for an awesome vacation you won’t soon forget.

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The Only Item You Need on Your Topical Vacation Packing List

Wondering what to pack for your tropical vacation?

 

Putting together the perfect tropical vacation packing list is always a challenge. Shorts, tanks, and swimwear are obvious choices for a casual day on the beach, but if you’re someone who likes a little more coverage, there hasn’t always been a lot of lightweight, fashionable options. Until now. I’ve discovered the perfect ensemble for any occasion. It’s fun and flirty, comfortable and cute. It’s the boho jumpsuit, and it’s truly the only item you need on your tropical vacation packing list.

As someone who breaks into hives every time the sun kisses my skin, I struggle to come up with cute clothes that are appropriate to wear when the Mercury rises over 80 degrees. What’s more, I like to be uber comfortable when I’m not obligated to dress up for work. When I came across the boho jumpsuit, I knew I had found the perfect balance between comfort and fashion. Thanks to the way the flowy fabric drapes over your body, the jumpsuit looks like a dress, but because it’s got pant legs, it gives you a bit more leeway in terms of when and where you can wear it. I’ve done everything from hike through muddy rice fields to dine at a gourmet restaurant while wearing a boho jumpsuit. It all depends on how you style it.

The rayon jumpsuit is the ideal solution for places where the humidity is high since they don’t tend to stretch out when they’re drenched in sweat. And the great news is that they’re wash and wear. You can easily rinse them out in the sink at the end of the day and hang them over the towel bar to dry. By morning, your boho jumpsuit is ready to go for another day. If it’s wrinkled, don’t worry. The wrinkles will likely release shortly after you start walking around, and if they don’t, just say it’s part of the look. No one will know the difference.

Raining outside? No problem. Simply tie a knot in the bottom of each pant leg to turn them into capris! Headed to the beach, toss a boho jumpsuit on over top of your swimsuit as a coverup, and simply slip it off if you want to go for a dip. If you’re traveling to a place like Indonesia or Cambodia where there are a lot of temples or sacred places, it’s important not to expose too much skin. The boho jumpsuit has you covered—literally. It’s ideal for every situation.

tropical vacation packing list

If you’re like me, you prefer to pack light. The boho jumpsuit folds up into a neat little square that fits perfectly into any carry-on bag. Pick up a few colors (I have four), and you won’t need to put anything else on your tropical vacation packing list. During the daytime, wear a kimono or wrap with your boho jumpsuit to keep your shoulders from burning in the hot sun. It’s always a good idea to have on ein your bag just in case one of those sacred places is on your itinerary.

At night, turn your jumpsuit into the perfect outfit for an evening out by pairing it with a wide belt or statement necklace. You can even jazz it up with a pair of pumps or embellished flipflops.

 

From Southeast Asia to the Caribbean, I don’t know how I would get by without my boho jumpsuits.

paradise point st. thomas

Want to steal my signature look? All you need is a hair scarf, funky shades, and Birkenstocks.

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tropical vacation packing list

Comparing Affordable Cruise Lines: Which One is Right for You?

When it comes to sailing the high seas, there are plenty of affordable cruise lines.

If you think you don’t have the budget to take a cruise, think again. Nowadays, there are so many different affordable cruise lines sailing to such a vast variety of destinations that there is something for every budget. In fact, you can take a seven-day Caribbean cruise for just a few hundred dollars. And the best part is that it includes everything you need to have a fantastic cruise vacation—food, entertainment, games, dancing, swimming pools, and more! If you’ve got your sights on something a little more romantic, you can sail the Mediterranean Sea for just a few hundred dollars more. With so much competition for business, there are always sales and specials designed to grab your attention.

From river cruises to tall ships and ocean liners, there are so many options to choose from. So how do you know where to start looking for the most affordable cruises? It’s easy—Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean tend to offer some of the best rates. They also offer a lot of value for your money. Just because you’re traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you’ll be treated like you are. Even these affordable cruise lines spare no expense to make sure your vacation is one you’ll remember for years to come.
So, how do these four affordable cruise lines compare? Each one caters to a different audience, so you’ll want to be sure you pick the one that’s right for you.

Carnival

affordable cruise lines
If you’re pinching pennies but want to get away for a few days, Carnival typically offers the most budget-friendly rates. While the cruise line features a few other itineraries, it mainly focuses on Caribbean vacations. So, how does Carnival compare to the competition? Carnival caters to a younger crowd than NCL or Royal Caribbean. With music that ranges from Bon Jovi to Rihanna, most 30- and 40-something guests will feel right at home. Dr. Seuss-themed kids activities, Hasbro game nights, and Build-A-Bear workshops make Carnival the ideal cruise line for a fun family vacation. And just because you didn’t break the bank, doesn’t mean you won’t still get all the bells and whistles.

On sea days, Carnival puts on a delicious brunch featuring treats like French toast covered in your favorite cereal, as well as an afternoon tea. There are lots of other tasty treats, too, like Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint on the Lido deck. While the quality of the theatrical performances isn’t typically as good as the other cruise lines, there’s still loads of live entertainment to keep you entertained, including late-night dance parties where the fun never seems to stop.

NCL

affordable cruise lines
NCL is like a well-balanced meal. It’s got a great mix of itineraries throughout North and South America, as well as Europe and Asia, and it offers them at truly affordable rates. Like Carnival, NCL tends to cater to a younger crowd. There are lots of lively dance parties every night and live bands that play throughout the ship. And while NCL DJs are known for spinning the latest tunes, you’ll find a mix of oldies, too. Since there are also a lot of guests in their 50s and 60s, there’s usually a lot of disco on the dancefloor. Who doesn’t like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer after all?

While there is a great kids’ program, NCL isn’t quite as family oriented as Carnival. However, the adult-only areas tend to be a little more exclusive and relaxing on NCL—Carnival feels a bit like a party all of the time. NCL’s Broadway-style shows are second to none. From the detailed sets to the flamboyant costumes and top-notch talent, shows like “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” are bound to knock your socks off. Looking for a good time? You’ll find it at the highly anticipated White Hot Party and Norwegian Night Out events, where the cast and crew join guests for a good time out on the deck.

On newer ships, NCL has started offering solo cabins. This means guests traveling alone don’t need to shell out the big bucks to cover the cost of an entire cabin. The bite-sized cabins offer everything you need for a good night sleep, and there’s even a special common area where solo travelers can meet up and make friends. It’s a massive money saver!

Royal Caribbean

affordable cruise lines
Of all the affordable cruise lines, Royal Caribbean is best-known for catering to an older crowd. While the rates are on the lower end when compared to Holland America or Celebrity, Royal Caribbean is has a bit of a higher price tag than Carnival or NCL, making it more attractive to travelers who have a bit more money to spare. However, it also has the best range of international itineraries and some of the largest most extravagant ships at sea.

Royal Caribbean has built its business on being the cruise line with the most onboard activities at sea. Forget about all of the places they travel—the ships are a destination on their own. From promenade shopping to ice skating and zip lining to surfing simulators, Royal Caribbean takes cruising to a whole new level. Even though the average age tends to be a little older—like grandma and grandpa range—families will have a blast.

At night, the vibe is a little more low-key on Royal Caribbean ships. Like NCL, you’ll find high-end Broadway-style shows, but the other entertainment is a bit more relaxed. The bands play a lot more of the golden oldies than top-40 hits, so don’t expect to dance the night away.

Whether you’re looking to party the night away, relax on your own, or enjoy onboard activities, these three affordable cruise lines have something for everyone. Everything you need is included in the price, but if you have a few extra dollars to spare, there are plenty of great ways to make your cruise even more special.

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affordable cruise lines