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Monthly Archives: December 2017

Tips to Dealing with Money when Travelling in a Group

Money can be a huge issue when you travel in a group, especially in the likely event that you don’t all have the same amount to spend. When you’re travelling together, and everything ends up costing a little more than you’d expect, this can be the cause of tension.

That’s why it is important to be prepared, for everything. That means using the following budgeting advice so you can enjoy the scenery and the continent, rather than worrying about the euros in your wallet, or in your friends’.

1. Decide on a rough budget beforehand

Chances are you all have a different amount of access to money. It’s not really fair on the skint one if you go off all the time flashing the cash, yet at the same time you can’t let that person hold you back if you want to spend on doing things.

You need to accept and acknowledge that you have different budgets and goals when it comes to travelling in a group. If you decide on a rough daily budget, it will help everyone to plan and work out what they can and can’t do.

2. Understand each other’s different budgets

Once you’ve decided on a budget, try to stick to it. Don’t call your mate out if they bow out of anything for financial reasons. Let them work to their own budget and do as they wish. You’re not all going to want to spend the same amount or do the same things – respect that. Don’t cause tensions in the group by bringing attention to your friend either, or get all offended if they do it to you.

3. Keep a written record of what you owe and are owed

You might not be bothered about a few euros here and there, but chances are there’ll be someone in your group who will be.

Keeping a written track of everyone’s spends makes everything fair. There’ll usually be someone in a group who feels like they’ve paid out more – a manual or electronic record help you all keep up to date.

The Splitwise app can really help with this. Use it to record everyone’s spends and set it to equal up electronically at the end.

4. Relax, and have a buffer

When you’re travelling in a group it can be difficult to keep a hold of your finances. I know from experience that you’re tempted to drink and eat more, thanks to the mere suggestion of a bite to eat or quick drink when perhaps you didn’t actually need one. Soon, in a group, that will escalate.

I can guarantee though, these will be your best travel times. Make sure to have a bit of a financial buffer put away so you don’t balk at the bar bill from a brilliant night when it comes to paying your fair share.

5. Don’t be tight

Don’t be stingy, you’ll ruin the experience for everyone, including yourself. If you’re on a tight budget, let your friends know at the start and then try not to mention it too much from then on. Nothing spoils a nice drink or lunch more than a moaner. Bow out of things graciously and don’t make a big deal out of it.

6. Save money as a group

As a group you can save money on all kinds of things from transport to activities to accommodation. When you’re doing your research look out for opportunities for group travel discounts and make the most of them. A little compromise from everyone here and there (like sleeping on sofa beds in rented apartments) can save a lot.

7. Stock the car up

Travelling to Europe as a group in a car can save a lot of money. One car can be for up to nine people with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, meaning if you time it right and get a deal you could actually go for just a few pounds each. Going in a car also means that you don’t have all the baggage fees you get with air travel. You can pack everything you need in the car and not worry about it again.

The fact you have a car also means that you can save money on food and accommodation as you could bring everything you need to camp, and to eat on the go. You could even bring a camping stove!

8. Communicate

As a group agree on the lengths you’ll go to to save money. For example, hostels, sleeping on transport, or in cars. That way everyone knows what they’re letting themselves in for.

Remember that a few euros here and there is not worth losing your friendship over, so communicate fairly if you feel it’s not right. And if you really want to earn some brownie points, and bring the group together on the last night, save a few euros for a bottle of the local tipple. The perfect way to end the trip, and it won’t cost you much at all.


Things to Do during Your Holiday in Marbella

Marbella is one of the most popular resorts in the Spanish Costa del Sol region, and offers a range of things to see and do for those looking for an enjoyable, relaxing holiday. Over the years it has developed a reputation for being somewhere for the more discerning tourist to travel to, due to the fact it has a number of fine-dining restaurants, designer shopping boutiques, beautiful villas (see some examples here), an incredible yachting scene and excellent beaches.

If you are planning on taking a holiday to Marbella, here are four of the best things you can do while you’re there.

Enjoy the high life at Puerto Banús

If you are looking to mix with the real jet-setters in life then spending some time hanging out in Puerto Banús has to be top of your priorities list. This marina is where the rich and famous dock their superyachts to spend some time shopping in the exclusive stores like Gucci and Dolce & Gabana, before dining in the restaurants dotted around the harbour. The area also has a great nightlife scene – you are on holiday after all!

Visit the beaches

Often the main reasons we go on holiday is to spend some time relaxing on the beach. Fortunately, Marbella is home to some amazing beaches – 24 in fact, dotted across a 16-mile stretch of coast. The best beaches to visit depend on where exactly you are staying – those in the city center should try El Faro and Fontanilla, while those to the east of the main resort should try Las Chapas and Cabopino. If you are looking for something a bit more exclusive you find that here too, with Ocean Club and Puro Beach a couple of the highlights.

Walk around the old town

Still in the city but seemingly a world away from the more bustling areas is the Marbella Old Town. Here you will find a number of narrow alleys and streets dotted with cafes and restaurants, which allow you to relax and take in your surroundings. You’ll find more of the authentic Spanish dining experiences around here too, with tapas and a number of other Andalusian favourites being offered. It’s also a good area to pick up your souvenirs to bring home, as there are a number of fascinating boutique shops to be explored here.

Go to the theme parks

For small and big kids alike, Marbella is home to a number of zoos and theme parks, all of which are worth paying a visit to. Tivoli World, located in Benalmádena is a great choice if for all the family with a number of rides, live performances, magic shows and restaurants. Then, the Costa Water Park, which is split into two locations in Marbella and Puerto Banus, offers a range of water slides and other attractions. If you want to travel a bit further afield, you can visit the Selwo Safari Park, which is home to a huge number of animals and creatures and is said to be the most stunning Safari Park in the whole of the country.

6 top Valentine hot spots

1. Africa: Safari at Pinnon Lodges

I’ve always been in love with Asia, but recently Africa has started to catch my eye: the landscapes, the wildlife, and the sense of space and peace is supremely romantic. This Valentine’s Day, my pick is the Pinnon Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park in Zambia, run by British couple Ruth and Lyndon Pinches.

It’s intimate — maximum occupancy is just eight guests — and you’re completely secluded in the wilderness. You can sit on the deck with a glass of wine in hand, watching the puku and impala graze, take a game drive through the park to see cheetah, elephant, and lion, and then enjoy a sundowner by the river. It’s a place to get away from work and the bustle of everyday life, and spend endless sunsets with the one you love. And at $150 per person per night, it’s incredibly affordable for safari.

2. Philippines: Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa

If your idea of romance is walking hand in hand along white sand beaches, occasionally dipping your toes in an azure sea, come to Eskaya on Panglao Island in the Philippines. One of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the incredible villas look out across the water, and many of them have their own infinity pools. Drink cocktails on the lawn, treat yourselves to a his and hers massage in the Handuraw Spa, and then feast al fresco beneath the moon and stars with a candlelit dinner for two, or beside a roaring bonfire.

If you can drag yourself away from the beach, taking the butterfly watching tour is a pretty cute excursion, and likewise booking lunch and a river cruise on the Loboc, with musicians serenading you whilst you eat, is guaranteed to earn you brownie points.

3. Greece: Lindos Melenos, Rhodes

Secluded from the holiday crowds, and almost hidden above the quintessential Dodecanese fishing village of Lindos, one finds the unique Lindos Melenos Hotel. A labour of love, by owner and island local Michalis Melenos, this truly romantic property offers tranquillity and privacy, with eclectically decorated, bohemian-style guest rooms and honeymoon suites where lovers can be cocooned from the outside world.

The hotel feels more like a perfect Rhodian village, lost in time, full of creative and artistic details inspired by early 17th century Lindian Mansions. Explore the nearby ancient acropolis, meander through the hotel’s jasmine scented gardens, flirt over a candle-lit dinner in the rooftop restaurant; and watch the sunset from your private terrace, decorated with charming black and white ‘kochlaki’ pebble stone mosaics. Or just order the delicious room-service and put ‘Do Not Disturb’ on the door.

4. Argentina: Recoleta Grand, Arentina, Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and the gorgeous Recoleta Grand (formerly Buenos Aires Grand) is the only place we’ll stay when we’re in town. This hotel has a perfect location in the heart of tree-lined Recoleta and the hotel has everything you need for a relaxing, romantic stay, including top-of-the-line finishes, and an in-house spa, pool and sauna free for all guests to use. It’s also one of our most recommended destinations for solo travelers visiting the area. Book the breakfast included option when you stay, it’s well worth the extra few dollars to have access to their killer buffet spread of local and international breakfast options.

Since your’e in the heart of Recoleta, take a stroll through the famous Recoleta cemetery, where Eva Peron (Evita) is buried, and walk hand-in-hand down the street as you snack on medialunas and empanadas. At night, head out to a steakhouse for wine and Argentina’s most famous dish: steak. Our favorite is La Brigada in San Telmo.

5. Italy, Castello di Casole,Tuscany

I stayed here during my first holiday with my boyfriend, which was a 7-day road trip around Tuscany. We drove from Pisa to Florence via San Gimignano and Siena and it was the rustic Italian adventure people you might dream of. Castello di Casole is a beautifully restored Italian castle based on a country estate in Tuscany.

We were surrounded by green rolling fields, vineyards and olive trees and it really felt like an undiscovered slice of Italy. We indulged in fresh Italian pasta, drank rich red wine and spent peaceful quality time together. Maybe it was thanks to the red wine, but this trip was romantic for me as it was the place where I first realised that I was in love.

If you’re planning to visit this part of Italy, be sure to hire a car for guaranteed freedom and adventure.

6. New Zealand: Kokohuia Lodge, Hokianga

Three hours drive north of Auckland, Hokianga mixes edge-of-the-world back country vibe with stupendous scenery and rich history. This is where legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe settled after his arrival in New Zealand 1000 years ago, beguiled by a place he christened “the spring of the world of light” (Te Puna O Te Ao Marama).

Overlooking the vast Hokianga Harbour, Kokohuia Lodge is a chic wood-and-glass hideaway above the coastal township of Omapere. Think luxe styling, impeccable eco-credentials plus the blissful seclusion of a place that hosts one couple at a time. Get owners Steve and Suzanne to rustle up a romantic dinner to enjoy on a deck above fragrant native bush, where dazzling starry skies are the only distraction from each other.

The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

f you’re a book lover, you probably tend to gravitate to public libraries and bookshops when you travel. Whether it’s the scent of old books, the allure of knowledge or the history of grand buildings, there is something tantalizing about seeing how each city chooses to showcase literature. From centuries-old establishments that ooze history to modern, architecturally-impressive facades, there is a variety of interesting library designs around the world. If you can’t get enough of seeing breathtaking book palaces each time you vacation, then read on for five of the most amazing libraries in the world.

The State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne landmark and superb example of heritage architecture, the library is made up of 23 buildings and takes up an entire city block. Building construction started in 1854 and the facility features some of the most breathtaking heritage interiors in Melbourne. Considered by many to be one of the greatest libraries in the world, the State Library houses over two million books, hundreds of thousands of maps, manuscripts and newspapers and a variety of digital material. The works contained in the library reflect Victorian culture over the past 150 years and visitors to the institution can take a free guided tour to learn more about the establishment and its history. One of the highlights of the library is the La Trobe Reading Room, which features a stunning domed ceiling. Tourists can also browse two free permanent exhibitions, one of which features famous bushranger Ned Kelly’s armor and the other a history of books. Visitors can play chess, watch films and admire art — the library is home to three free art galleries.

The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Library in Copenhagen is a “must-see” destination in Denmark’s capital. Spread over four sites, it is home to almost all known printed Danish works, including the first book that was published in 1482. While Copenhagen boasts many fine buildings, one of the most impressive is the 1999 extension to the Royal Library that’s known as the Black Diamond. With a black marble and glass exterior and a magnificent interior featuring an eight-story atrium with wave-shaped walls and a huge ceiling fresco, this is a visually stunning library. The Black Diamond wing doubled the size of the original Royal Library, and is connected to it by a number of bridges. The architectural masterpiece leans out over a canal and provides beautiful water views and a peaceful place to get lost in the works of Hans Christian Andersen.

The Stuttgart City Library in Stuttgart, Germany

Another library with a simple, modern design that has the feel of an art gallery, the Stuttgart City Library is one of Germany’s premier destinations for book lovers. The library has been designed as an intellectual and cultural center for Stuttgart and features a huge, white, four-story central space called the Heart that represents both the spatial and meditative center of the building. Above this core lies a five-story, pyramid-shaped, atrium reading room. The neutral, white-colored design of the interior is designed to showcase books, and indeed the whole library is a stunning architectural wonder that stands out in the city.

The Central Library in Seattle, Washington

With a design that makes it look more like a classy hotel than a library, the Central Library in Seattle features 11 levels and is made from glass and steel. The modern building opened in 2004 and is divided into eight horizontal layers, each with a varying size to fit a relevant function. The Central Library currently houses over one million items and has 9,906 shelves devoted to books — it has a capacity to grow even larger though and will be able to hold 1.45 million books and materials when at capacity.

The Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland

The Trinity College “Old Library” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Dublin and was first constructed in the 18th century. One of the most beautiful libraries in Ireland, it houses the famous Book of Kells, a gospel manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800. The library contains a collection of 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books and features a distinctive barrel ceiling, marble busts of famous authors and philosophers and a central walkway that spans nearly 200 feet.

To find more fun things to do in Dublin, check out this article on Expedia’s travel blog and this Dublin site to see what else the city has to offer besides libraries. Happy Travels!