4 First-Timer Tips for Guaranteeing a Great RV Trip in North Florida

Although perhaps known for vacation hotspots such as Orlando and Miami, Florida has so much to offer those looking to embrace the great outdoors beyond the typical tourist traps.

In fact, the northern region of the state offers the best of both worlds in terms of tranquility and things to do, including sugar sands and a family friendly vacation vibe that’s hard to find anywhere else. Whether you’re looking for RV rentals in Jacksonville or want to stick close to the Panhandle, the Sunshine State is an affordable way to see Florida right minus traffic and tourist headaches.

Jacksonville, Florida, USA city skyline on St. Johns River.

But what do you need to know if you’re looking to set up camp in the area for the very first time? Fear not: we’ve outlined four tips to set your expectations and provide you with peace of mind as you look ahead toward your dream trip.

Book Sooner Rather Than Later

Perhaps this is a no-brainer, but it’s always in your advantage to book your RV or campsite as far in advance as possible. This is especially true if you’re looking to camp during a long weekend or holiday. Rest assured you’re not the only ones looking to avoid the crowds at Disney World or the crazy Spring Break crowd: the better you plan out where you’ll be, the better.

Also note that you don’t necessarily need to stay right by the beach if you’re looking to set up camp in Florida. There are a number of campgrounds that are an easy ten or fifteen minutes away from the shore (campgrounds in St. Andrews and St. Augustine spring to mind), an easy walking distance that won’t set you back in terms of your budget.

Don’t Assume Weather Conditions

To say that weather in Florida is unpredictable would be quite the understatement. Rain could come at just about any time, including chillier months. On a related note, Florida isn’t always sunshine and cloudless skies. Given the recent snows in Pensacola, those traveling to the northern cities in Florida should understand that layering up and being preparing for all types of weather is always a plus.

Stay Hydrated

In Florida, the importance of staying hydrated can’t be emphasized enough, especially when those noon-time rays tend to catch up with us unexpectedly. Spending all day on the beach or hiking, even on milder days, can really sap your energy and dehydrate you without even realizing it. Extra bottled water or Brita filters are never a bad idea, nor are those generic camel-pack water bottles you can purchase on the cheap from the likes of Costco.

Prepare for Pests

While Florida isn’t necessarily known for it’s “dangerous wildlife” (unless you counter the occasional gator or Panther in the southern region of the state), typical rodents and pests should be expected.

Protection from mosquitoes in the form of sprays and nets, for example, are essential. Scents such as citronella candles can also keep pests at bay. Simply be mindful of burning candles and respect the space of your camping neighbors.

Northern Florida is a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors, especially if you know exactly what to expect before you arrive. With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your next RV trip to the Sunshine State is one to remember!…….

Which African Safari Experience is Right for You?

Once you’ve decided to go on a safari, the next step is deciding which type of safari experience will suit your needs, which can be a headache in itself. The good news is that you have a number of options offered to you, from a luxurious African safari adventure in elegant lodges, to a classic and comfortable campsite, to a rustic tent for a more “authentic bush experience”. Fret not, we have narrowed down all the possible options below for your convenience.

Accommodation

The three types of safari accommodations that are often mentioned are tents, camps, and lodges. A common misconception is that a lodge is more expensive and luxurious than a camp or tent, when in fact those three words are often interchangeable, and lodges, just like tents, can range from 3 to 5 stars.

Safari Lodges or Camps

Lodges are usually permanent buildings made of hard materials, such as stone, wood and thatch, and designed to blend in with their natural surroundings. They tend to be the most popular types of safari accommodations. Three star lodges are basic and comfortable, while 4 and 5 stars ones are more on the luxurious side. High-end lodges usually offer amenities such as swimming pools, restaurants, bars, and lounge areas.

Permanent tents or tent lodges

Tent lodges are permanent as well, but made with canvas material on the sides and built on wooden or concrete bases. They usually offer beautiful panoramic views, with viewing decks, a lounge, a dining area, and a swimming pool, and tend to be pricier than safari lodges.

Mobile tents and seasonal camps

Mobile tents are temporary structures set up for specific times of the year, for example, during the wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania. They are ideal for visitors looking for a specific safari experience. Mobile tents tend to be luxurious and elegant, making them more expensive.

Rest Camps

Only available in parks that allow self-drive, rest camps are the most affordable option, and are therefore the best option for those on a tight budget. They also allow visitors to move along throughout the park without having to return to the same accommodation every night.

Fly Camping

Fly camping is for those looking to rough it up and complete privacy at the same time. It involves walking for a few hours from the main camp, and reaching a temporary remote camp with very basic amenities. These include a small tent and a roll mattress set up by a guide, and a “drop loo” and a bucket for showering. Dinner is usually set up around the campfire.

Types of safaris

Game drives

The most common safari is the game drive in an open 4×4 vehicle, usually conducted in groups and accompanied by a knowledgeable and professional guide and driver. Depending on the park and the region, the driver will stay on the paved road path, or the game drive will occur off-road which can get bumpy and dusty, but allows for more animal sightings.

Self-drive safaris

The only type of safari that occurs without the help of an experienced guide or ranger, the self-drive safari is only allowed in certain national parks. It is ideal for those intent on following their own journey at their own pace, and tends to be more affordable.

Water-based safaris

Water-based safaris include canoeing along a river to spot wildlife such as rhinos wallowing in the water, or other animals like elephants gathering by the riverbanks for a drink, or crocodiles basking in the sun. The traditional canoe (mokoro) along the Delta in Botswana are popular, as well as boat cruises along the Zambezi River in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Water-based safaris offer breathtaking views especially during sunset cruises.

Walking safaris

Walking safaris allow for closer encounters with the wild fauna and flora, as well as opportunities to track certain animals like the endangered white rhino on foot, always accompanied by an experienced ranger.

Hot air balloon safaris

A unique and luxurious treat, the hot air balloon allows you the opportunity to witness gorgeous landscapes and wild animals in their natural habitat from the air. It’s a thrilling yet calm ride, and only offered in specific places.

Animal-riding safaris

Animal-riding safaris are permitted in certain areas, enabling you to explore the landscape and the African bush from the back of a horse, a camel, or the gentle giant that is the elephant.

Bird watching safaris

Most national parks in Africa are home to a variety of bird species, offering plenty of bird watching opportunities, which delight avid bird lovers. Bird watching safaris can be conducted in game vehicles, on foot, by canoe, and by power-boat.

The Ancient Doors & Alleyways of Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a top destination for many reasons. With its turquoise warm lagoons and soft sandy beaches, it offers a romantic tropical getaway as well as a relaxing post-safari experience. But more than that, Zanzibar is a cultural melting pot with a rich history and heritage which are heavily reflected in Stone Town, the historic section of the capital Zanzibar City, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through this ancient part of Zanzibar feels like stepping back in time to centuries ago when merchants were trading spices. The sharp contrast of experiences that Zanzibar offers, from the gorgeous beaches to the labyrinth of alleyways and intricate door carvings in Stone Town, makes the luxury of booking Zanzibar holiday packages worth every penny.

Stone Town was given its name due to the use of coral stone as construction material. The design and architecture of the buildings in Stone Town reflect the fusion of Arab, Persian, Indian, European, and African influences. Most of the historical buildings such as sultans’ palaces, religious buildings, and fortifications, are located closer to the seafront, while other traditional houses are found further inland along the winding small streets. A characteristic of a traditional building is the veranda or balcony, which is protected and decorated by wooden balustrades. Another typical feature is the long stone bench along the outside wall of the house, called a baraza, which until today serves two main purposes: a place for men to socialize, and an elevated sidewalk during rainy days.

Another distinct feature of a traditional building in Stone Town is the carved teak door. There are two main types of doors, one is rounded at the top and is of Indian origin, while the other is designed in a rectangular Omani-Arab style. The brass studs on the doors are purely decorative, unlike their original purpose in India, which was to protect against elephants. The carvings on the doors are all subtly different; some include Arabic verses and words, while others include designs that are symbolic representations, such as a lotus flower representing prosperity. Additionally, the doors helped to distinguish between social status, business identity of the owner and their profession, and religious affiliations.

Walk through the small alleyways and get lost in the maze of winding streets and old buildings as you discover Stone Town. It is easy to get distracted by the lineup of tourist shops and stalls selling arts and crafts, among herds of locals and visitors walking through. It can get chaotic and busy. However, Stone Town can also be charming and inspiring when one focuses on its history and cultural heritage, paying close attention to the intricate details of its buildings and houses. After navigating the labyrinth of small streets, head to Darajani Market for local food, crafts, spices, and other artefacts.

Tel Aviv Itinerary: Places You Shouldn’t Miss in Your Tel Aviv Visit

Israel continues to grow in prominence within the international market of tourist destinations. As of 2017 data, the country has already had a 21.6% increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the country.

Coupled this with the increasing trend of engagements with intercontinental travels from all over the world, Israel is consistently working its way on top. Tel Aviv, is one of its biggest tickets towards cultural and social eminence in the tourism industry. This small paradise in Israel has lots of exciting destinations any tourist should never miss. Here are five of the most popular destinations in Tel Aviv:

  1. Yitzhak Rabin Center

Haim Levanon 8, Tel Aviv, Israel.

The famous Yitzhak Rabin Center is one of the highlights of Tel Aviv that was built to commemorate the legacy of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. This center has a very contemporary twist to what is supposed to be a typical heritage museum. Also, it features displays of the historical and social developments of Tel Aviv. This is definitely a must-see given its very unique architectural design and its display of panoramic features of the city. If one seeks to witness the merging of the historical Tel Aviv with its contemporary counterpart, this is the place to be!

  1. Yarkon River and Park Hayarkon

Yarkon River- Ganei Yehoshua, Tel Aviv, Israel

Park Hayarkon – Rokach Blvd, Tel Aviv, Israel

For nature enthusiasts who simply want to let themselves be absorbed by the serenity of Tel Aviv, this is the perfect destination. Yarkon River and Park Hayarkon are both known to be the epitome of relaxation as their natural ambience seems to be a real life depiction of how a paradise looks like. Yarkon River is a perfect spot for strolling where visitors are privileged to enjoy the sweet aura of the trees and the breeze of the river. On the other hand, Park Haryarkon is famous for its natural rock formations, perfect for picture-taking. Yarkon River and Park Hayarkon are located in Ganei Yehoshua and Rokach Blvd, Tel Aviv, Israel respectively.

  1. Tel Aviv Port

Northern Tel Aviv

Tourist sites will never be perfect without entertainment areas. The Tel Aviv Port is a very famous spot that comes along with stores, playgrounds, and even splash parks, host for the faultless family bonding experience. Certainly, this is a suitable place for people who seek to enjoy the nightlife in Tel Aviv as it is known for its very accommodating pubs.

  1. Nachlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall

2 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv, Israel.

For shopaholics and collectors, this is the place to be. Nachlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall is one of the most bulbous and the largest flea markets in Israel. It is home to various souvenirs, clothing, and even some of the famous foods in Tel Aviv. Plus, products sold in this flea market are highly affordable. This makes it a picture-perfect place to give in to your cravings without burning your pockets.

  1. Clock Tower

Yeffet Street, Tel Aviv

Finally, the Clock Tower is the most suitable place to experience the massive sense of culture, history, and nostalgia Tel Aviv has to offer. It is a famous landmark in Yeffet Street, perfect for cultural immersion as it used to be a site for simultaneous prayers by Jews and Arabs.

Tel Aviv is definitely a center of attraction that one shouldn’t miss in their visit in Israel. Packed with numerous worthwhile destinations, it’s a no brainer why there are more and more Flights to Tel Aviv.

Jardines de la Reina—The Current Queen among Scuba Diving Hotspots

True to its name, the biggest marine park in the Caribbean has lured hundreds of people to its beautiful sea garden.

Jardines de la Reina or Gardens of the Queens is one of the top places visited by scuba divers. Its healthy mangroves, black corals, and reefs together with Caribbean reef and silky sharks are enough to attract much attention.

According to Diver magazine, over 500 divers go there every year. Even if more people want to visit the archipelago, fewer than 1,500 divers are only allowed to make a visit. The travelers will have to ask for access, which is given on first come, first serve basis. While this has disappointed enthusiasts, the system has spared the Caribbean Sea from ecological damage, which is becoming an issue in other diving spots like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Getting There

Booking a flight to Jardines de la Reina isn’t easy, owing to the strict rules of Cuba. If you want to go there, you can make your booking through Delta or JetBlue. However, you can’t enter any of the islands with just a travel visa. You need to be able to pass the requirements of one of the 12 classifications approved by the country’s Department of Treasury- Office of Foreign Assets Control:

  1. Family visit

  2. Official business of the US government, foreign governments, and other intergovernmental organizations

  3. Journalistic activity

  4. Research and professional meeting

  5. Educational activity

  6. Religious activity

  7. Public performances, sports competitions, etc.

  8. Support of the Cuban people

  9. Humanitarian projects

  10. Activities of research and private foundations

  11. Exportation and importation

  12. Authorized export transactions

Exploring the Archipelago’s Marine Life

Different locations during different times will show different species of sharks. This includes Blacktips, Great hammerheads, whale sharks, lemons, spinners, Caribbean sharpnose, reef sharks, silky, and more.

If you go to Anclitas, you’ll be able to witness coral reefs with awesome layers of structural complexity along with green morays, spiny lobsters, green turtles, southern stingrays, and black groupers. In Farallon, you can see silky, nurse sharks, etc. and dive up to 100 feet. Other places have different diving depths, too. This is definitely not for the weak-hearted, so if you’re planning to come, you must at least master the basics of diving.

Conserving the Natural Wonder

While Cuba can easily gain money if they advertise the archipelago and open its doors more easily to diving enthusiasts, it has put more value on the marine life’s preservation instead. Since 1996, the Cuban government has been supporting and funding research on how to improve the marine life in Jardines de la Reina. They must also protect endangered species that are found in their part of the ocean. This includes but is not limited to Loggerhead turtles and American crocodiles.

Final Thoughts

Jardines de la Reina is thriving and is expected to still preserve its natural beauty for many years to come. With its good share of one-of-a-kind animals and amazing corals, there’s no wonder that many more divers line up to go there.

What are the best destinations to travel to in February 2017 – Part II

Having Valentine’s Day on 14th, February is considered as the month of “Love”. As such, we recommend for tourists to book coming trips with their travel agents in a romantic destination that guarantees a few days of love and happiness.

In this article we will continue providing the exclusive destinations we recommend to visit in February? Why do we choose them? How would you enjoy yourself in each of them?

Small county, lots of entertainment | Bahrain

Average temperature: 28° C

Why Bahrain in February?

February is the perfect month to visit Bahrain, since it is very hot most of the year.

It is perfect for short adventure trips and family vacations.

What to do?

The best thing you can do is to book a luxury hotel in Manama, and relax in the modern world-class resorts.

Enjoy tens of malls, shopping centers and entertainment water cities, including “The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park “.

Visit the famous tourist attractions in Manama such as Fatih Mosque and Bahrain National Museum.

Important information:

Bahrain is the perfect destination for shopping and entertainment.

Tourist experience in Bahrain depends on luxury and distinctive hotels, thus, we recommend booking a good hotel in the capital, Manama.

A trip to the land of wealth and sultans | Brunei

Average temperature: 27° C

Why Brunei in February?

Brunei has a tropical weather which is hot and humid most of the year. You can also visit Brunei and its neighbor Malaysia in the same trip

Brunei sultanate is one of the richest Asian nations despite its small size, and has many high-end luxury hotels. Brunei is also well-suited for honeymoon trips.

What to do?

Brunei is famous for its many artistic mosques, including the most famous mosque, “Hassan Bolkiah,” which is the largest mosque in Brunei, as well as the mosque of “Omar Ali Saifuddin”, which is considered the most beautiful mosque in Asia.

Visit the popular markets and learn about the people of the “Jadong” area.

Visit Tasek Lama

Experience sultans’ life in one of the luxury hotels and resorts of Brunei.

Important information:

Residents of Gulf States and many other countries in the world can travel to Brunei without a visa, or can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport.

Brunei main airport and can be accessed from the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

Good destination with affordable costs | Jordan

Average temperature: 15° C

Why Jordan in February?

February is the best time to visit Jordan, which has a hot weather throughout the year.

Jordan is perfect for short adventure trips and family vacations.

What to do?

Shop, have lunch and explore the Jordanian capital of Amman, which includes a lot of tourist attractions and fun activities for families.

Book a night or more in the city of Aqaba, the only seafront in Jordan, which has warm weather even in the winter months.

February is perfect for visiting the monuments and having an unforgettable adventure in Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerash and the Dead Sea.

Important information:

Take advantage of the special prices of Jordan hotels in winter.

Expect rainfall and cold snaps.

The wonderland of Asia | Singapore

Average temperature: 15° C

Why Singapore in February?

Singapore’s tropical weather is hot and humid throughout the year. February is the best month to visit this beautiful country, despite of the occasional rainfalls.

Visiting Singapore in February is quite suitable for shopping, entertainment and short holidays, since it has fewer tourists in winter.

What to do?

There are plenty of sights that worth seeing in Singapore, such as the botanical gardens, Marina Bay, Singapore Flyer (scroll wheel) and the zoo.

Take a trip to the famous Universal Studios, the city of entertainment and adventure.

Singapore has many different museums, tourist attractions and modern shopping malls with the most famous of them in the shopping street, Orchard Road.

Enjoy a world of Asian flavors with food brands and markets in the popular neighborhoods of Singapore.

Important information:

Singapore is a bit expensive in general.

Expect rainfall in February.

Enjoy a vacation like celebrities and the rich | Monaco

Average temperature: 11° C

Why Monaco in February?

It’s a dreamy romantic destination perfect for a short trip to Europe

It’s one of the few places in Europe that has warm weather in the winter.

What to do?

Monaco has many stunning beaches and luxury shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and bars, which make it the ideal destination for lovers of vibrant nightlife.

Visit the ancient city in Monaco, known as Ville, which includes many churches, palaces and ancient romantic attractions.

Monaco has many interesting museums such as the Museum of Marine Biology “Oceanographic”.

The port of Monaco is the crown jewel of the city with dozen of restaurants and hotels that feature panoramic views.

Important information:

Although Monaco is an EU country; you can travel to it with the Schengen Visa.

The nearest airport is the Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport in France.

Monaco is an independent state composed of only one city which is divided into several neighborhoods, including the important administrative district “Monte Carlo.”

French is the official language in Monaco. People of Monaco also speak English and Italian.

Embark on a Cost Friendly Trip

There isn’t much that is more exciting than leaving the stresses and familiarity of daily life behind and going on a much needed vacation. Most people say that they wish they could travel more but aren’t able to for different reasons. The most frequent reason given for not traveling are the costs associated with it. With the help of numerous tools available today, taking a less costly trip is a more attainable wish.

Travel Websites

With the Internet booming like it has never before, you can do basically anything at a computer today. There are an overwhelming amount of websites that do most of the work when booking a trip. Whatever you type into a search engine related to vacationing, such as Las Vegas hotels or flights to China, will result in a list of sites that hold information about that specifically.

A search like that will ultimately bring up the travel websites needed to find everything you need when planning a vacation. Certain websites will list airline, hotel and car rental information along with other amenities and the different choices there are in your destination area. All that’s left is to create a package of the services needed to your liking and purchase it on that same website. Tailoring airfare or hotel choices can save loads of money and ensure that the times and locations are perfect.

Travel Agencies

If you are not comfortable with using the Internet or need help, travel agencies are still around for those who want to sit with an actual person to make selections. Some people find the many aspects of booking a trip overwhelming and need a little guidance. Fortunately, these representatives have the same access to those websites that hone in on discounted vacation specifics.

Along with those online options, agents have access to prime vacation packages as they always have. However it’s attained, they will ensure that it is put together at a great cost with all parts of the trip chosen exactly how you want them. They can take care of payments and print out travel information for a one-stop process. This, however, will result in an additional charge for their services.

Coupons

You will have already spent the bulk of the vacation costs on the travel arrangements, depending on the trip, so it helps to try to save some money while you are there. Research which restaurants are in the area and see if there are coupons online that you can print and use on the trip. This applies to stores if you plan on shopping or to major attractions you might visit as well.

The hotel may also have discount or coupon options for stores or attractions in the area. Call ahead and ask a hotel representative if they have any relationships with local businesses or any discounts they can offer. Any bit of saving helps.

Don’t let the expected costs of vacationing prevent you from taking the trips you want to take. The savings you can find may surprise you and may allow you to visit more places than you thought you could. It might take a little research but the rewards and experiences will be worth the efforts.

This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a travel website that offers customers a fast and easy way to find the best travel deals.