from Extreme Hotels Cabarete https://extremehotels.com/dominican-street-food/
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Thinking of visiting London with the family and wondering about the best things to do in London with kids? The good news is that there’s a lot of things that are fun, educational and just downright cool in London with the family, but the bad news is that there’s so much to do that it’s easy to be overwhelmed!
We’ve done the leg work for you, and found some of the most fun, entertaining, and even educational things to do with your kids, whether they’re teens, tweens, or younger. Our kids, at 10 and 13, are a great age for almost all of these London attractions for kids, but we even included some fun picks here for visiting London with toddlers and preschoolers!
Things to do in London with Kids
While a lot of cities aren’t great for kids, London’s definitely an option for a family friendly visit. There are a lot of London activities and attractions that are specially geared to the under 18 set, with everything from museums to a fun nighttime show to playgrounds and restaurants as well as many indoor play structures. Getting around is easy as well: while the Tube can be a bit pricey, it’s definitely child friendly.
See a show in London’s West End!
Seeing a show is one of our favorite things to do in London with children. London is a wonderful place to catch a show with the kids, as they have choices for almost any age, from toddler friendly shows like Disney on Ice, to primary age shows like Matilda the Musical, and School of Rock, to other family friendly shows like Merlin’s Magical London.
No matter which show you check out, there’s something unique and special about catching a live show with the kids in London’s West End!
Set off on a Harry Potter Tour
Our entire family are huge potterheads (if you’re a muggle who’s never heard the term, a potterhead is a Harry Potter fan, who’s read all the books, and seen all the movies). In our case, we’ve even made the trek and written some Wizarding World of Harry Potter tips.
If your kids are Harry Potter fans (most kids over a certain age are), and you’d like to check out the world of wizards yourself, a guided tour that takes the participants to the most important and magical venues where the movies were filmed, is a great way to spend a day in London. Warner Brothers Studio (where the Harry Potter movies were filmed) is a great choice. The Muggle’s Guide to London walking tour is a great place to start, and a special, 2.5-hour journey around the city, where you’re guided to the venues where the movies were shot, provides exciting insight into the magical tricks of film making. See some options for Harry Potter tours in London here.
Visit the British Big 4 – The London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London
It’s not really a visit to London if you haven’t seen the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, is it? Arguably, these are the most iconic answers to the question of what to do in London with kids.
The good news is that London is a fairly compact city, at least as far as seeing these iconic sights.
One of the easiest ways to see all of these great attractions in a day or so is to take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. You may even be able to fit in Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and even more. Sure, by the end of that day you’ll be exhausted, but it’s nice to see all of the big attractions in one fell swoop and then leave you time to check out the lesser known areas of London the folowing days.
Visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich
A great opportunity to have fun together while still learning something cool, a visit to the Royal Observatory is recommended for families with older kids and an interest in the natural sciences. Our kids, at 10 and 13, definitely fit that description, and are first in line for any cool, science themed attraction.
There’s a lot to see here, from standing on Earth’s most renowned Meridian Line, taking a journey back in time to learn how astronomy has developed and how the seas were first mapped, and then seeing the Great Equatorial Telescope, which changed how the world perceives the universe.
Go to an outdoor playground
London is full of areas where kids of all ages can take part in exciting adventures, while having fun and being suitably challenged.
Most of the bigger parks in London, and the city is famous for having lots of them, have at least one large outdoor play area for kids, with climbing frames, tunnels, mazes and lots of other opportunities for fun. There’s a great list of London playgrounds here.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the local wildlife. There are a surprising number of grey squirrels wandering around London parks, and they’re endlessly entertaining for little ones.
Visit a zoo
London has some spectacular, world-famous zoos as well. Any family visiting the city should spend at least one day exploring London’s zoo and farm areas.
The Zoological Society of London Zoo, the London Wetland Centre, the Sea Life Centre and Richmond Park all have areas where the entire family can see exotic and more common animals, including creatures of the savanna, the seas, and the mountains alike.
Grab a bite in a family friendly restaurant
London has plenty of restaurants that combine great food and fun. The Rainforest Café looks, well, like a rainforest, with tropical animals and lots of green and the meals also transport the guests to a lush, exotic place in an instant. On top of that, there are lots of other restaurants around London designed for keeping kids well-fed and entertained as well.
Visit one of London’s parks
While most visitors to London likely think of the city as a bustling, busy place (and it can be), London is also home to plenty of lovely, quiet, green areas. There’s a great list of parks here from the city of London, with information on feature gardens, skateboard parks, playgrounds and much more.
One of London’s most accessible urban parks is Bishops Park, which is a great space for toddlers, teens and adults alike. The park has an urban beach that is like nowhere else and the skate bowl, the trails and the manicured garden areas are unique as well. Picnics are also allowed, so if the weather is nice, you can spend an entire day there together.
If you’re up for one of London’s quirky or unusual things to do, and are up for a swim, check out the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. A lido is an outdoor pool, and there are plenty in the city. However, unlike the majority of heated, chlorinated lidos with defined swimming lanes, the Serpentine is a non chlorinated, open lake in Hyde Park in the heart of London. If you’re in London over Christmas, take time to check out the Serpentine Swimming Club’s semi-famous Christmas Race, where brave souls battle the elements to become the champion.
Go Ape at Battersea Park
Battersea Park is right next to the river, with plenty of paths for walking, plus it has a zoo, playground and the Go Ape climbing experience. It’s always one of the most favorite family things to do in west London.
The Go Ape Park is an excellent opportunity to explore nature, get physically active and have loads of fun in the heart of one of the world’s largest and busiest cities. The Battersea Park is open from February through November and has plenty of variety in its courses and is suitable for anyone from the age of 4 and up. At Go Ape, everyone, even the fittest, most athletic adult can find challenging obstacles.
The canopy adventure takes visitors to the top of some of the tallest trees in the city and the Fisherman’s Net will make you climb on rope ladders, zip wires and wire crossings, to mention just two of the Park’s many attractions.
Things to Do in West London with Kids
For whatever reason, West London often gets neglected when talking about children’s activities in London. We’ve included a special section with our top picks for things to do in this fun area of the city.
We’ve already talked about checking out a show in West London, but it’s worth mentioning here quickly again. There’s just so much variety in terms of kids shows here, which is honestly quite rare, and it’s a unique family experience the kids will definitely remember!
Holland Park Adventure Playground
The largest park in the Royal Borough, Holland Park occupies over 22 acres of land, and is packed full of fun attractions.
Kids, younger and older, can enjoy all sorts of physical activities. They can run around or have fun with the swings on the playground, they can test themselves on the climbing wall and they can explore nature in the wildlife area. There’s even a pretty Japanese garden that kids will love.
Great for kids from newborns to age 12, Kidtropolis has plenty of surprising inventive and perfectly safe toys and play areas. Children around the age of three will enjoy the artsy fun at Messy Play, while kids over the age of three can test their abilities driving around in Bumper Cars. Kids over the age of four can let off steam jumping on the Inflatable Assault Course – the name might sound aggressive, but it’s designed for little ones and a lot of fun.
Bay Sixty 6
Do your kids love to skateboard or BMX? Bay Sixty 6 is a great choice for families with older kids, aged from nine and up. Bay Sixty 6 is a skateboard and BMX facility with special design solutions. Some of the areas are challenging for advanced skaters and bikers, while others are used for beginners’ courses.
Pottery Café in Fulham
When the weather gets foul and you are looking for some creative fun, this pottery studio will keep everyone busy, including young kids and teenagers, parents and grandparents alike. This may be a little quirky and low key, but people swear it’s one of the best family experiences in London.
What’s especially cool for families visiting London is that you don’t need to have any tools or supplies. Everything you need for creating your own art is available at the venue and the place organizes lots of thematic events and programs that the entire family can take part in together.
Kensington Memorial Park
Kensington Memorial Park is another park where the entire family can have fun together, with tennis and football courts, a field where kids can play cricket and a great playground. The Park has a new water play facility as well, which is perfect for having fun not only on hot days, but in cloudy weather as well.
Do you have anything to add to these best things to do in London with kids? Let us know!
from The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/best-things-to-do-in-london-with-kids/
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Looking for a first hand Skyroam Solis review? We’ve used our Skyroam Solis for over four months now, and share our thoughts: the good, the bad and the orange.
What is Skyroam Solis?
The Skyroam Solis is a portable WiFi hotspot. It works in over 130 countries, using the same technology that cell phone carriers use to get you data.
Want 10% off the Skyroam Solis? Use code BAREFOOTNOMAD here.
The Solis lets connect up to five devices over WiFi at the same time. It has a built in battery that can also charge your devices on the go.
Best of all, it’s easy to use. Even the most gadget-adverse traveler should have no trouble getting it up and running in minutes.
Why portable WiFi?
Getting reliable WiFi wherever we go is a huge hassle. Hotel WiFi isn’t always stable, and scrounging free WiFi from a local McDonald’s gets old pretty quickly.
Other options are buying a local sim card, or using our home cell roaming plan, but they both have major downsides.
We’ve bought local sim cards for our unlocked phones, but we tend to hit data limits quickly, and sharing our cell data with our laptops and the rest of the family can be a huge pain. Plus, it’s often a hassle to figure out which plan and provider to choose overseas. Even then, a lot of countries don’t legally allow visitors to purchase a local sim and, though there are ways around this, researching them is a huge hassle.
We’ve also thought about using a worldwide roaming plan with our home cell company while we travel, but honestly, roaming charges can be huge and the data caps are often ridiculously low on roaming plans. We usually don’t need data every day we’re gone, but most roaming plans charge you every day you turn your phone on.
We were looking for a WiFi solution that was affordable for the four of us, and that worked almost anywhere in the world.
Enter the Skyroam Solis. It’s a 4G LTE mobile WiFi gadget that automatically works off local cell towers, with no SIM needed. Up to five devices can share WiFi on one Skyroam Solis, making it a great choice for our family of four.
Skyroam Solis Review
First impressions of the Skyroam Solis
Honestly, our first impression was that the Skyroam Solis is a pretty stylish unit. The bright orange case definitely stands out, and it fits easily in the palm of my hand, or my jacket pocket. Now, the orange look may not be your thing, but it definitely has the advantage that it’s hard to misplace, and is easy to find in the bottom of a backpack.
The included zipper case and charging cable helps keep everything together and also helps protect that awesome orange color from getting scratched up as it gets tossed around in our backpack.
How fast is Skyroam Solis?
For us, the most important thing about a portable WiFi solution is speed and reliability. Sure, the Skyroam works in over 130 countries, but that’s no good if it’s slow.
Happily, we were consistently getting speeds of around 31-32 Mbps on our first tests in Canada and at multiple times throughout our extended road trip.
A speed of around 30 Mbps is plenty fast to run email, watch Netflix or Youtube in HD, interact with social media (including watching Instagram or Facebook videos) and browsing the net.
Even with all four of us connected, with me on email, the kids streaming YouTube videos, and hubby Charles playing video games, the speed was instantaneous, with no seeming lag for anyone.
We tested the Solis throughout Canada and the USA, where cellular data speeds can often be lower than Europe and elsewhere in the world. You’ll probably get speeds in the 40 Mbps range in Europe and Asia. We’re taking our Solis down to Mexico and the southern USA this winter and we’ll report how well it works there as soon as we can!
We’re testing our little Solis portable WiFi in the middle of the Canadian prairies in this picture. We still had a connection speed of over 30 Mbps.
How much data do you get with Skyroam?
Technically, Skyroam gives you unlimited data.
We used our little Skyroam Solis pretty extensively with the four of us, burning through at least 800 MB a day for several days in a row. We didn’t notice any throttling at all, and speeds stayed consistently fast.
Does Skyroam throttle data?
That said, the terms and conditions say they do have a fair use policy. They say here “If there is high usage (over 500MB) within 24-hours, the connection with (sic) go to a lighter 2G speed, which is great for e-mail, web surfing, social media, apps, messaging, and WiFi calling. Data always resets with the next global daypass.”
To me, that sounds like you can be throttled if you’re on a busy network, and you’re using a whole lot of data over 500MB. We’ve read other reviews that mention that they started to get throttled after the 1 GB mark, so I’m guessing that they don’t have a hard limit and it depends on which carriers they’re currently operating on.
To avoid throttling, Skyroam suggests closing any apps that consume data in the background, like auto backups, cloud syncing, app updates, and so on. We keep those for when we have free WiFi and haven’t had any problems using up a ton of data.
The good news is that Skyroam data resets every 24 hours, so even if you manage to overuse the fair use amount and got throttled, your data will reset to higher speeds at the end of the day.
How long does the Skyroam Solis battery last?
Skyroam says the built in batteries on the Skyroam Solis lasts 14 to 20 hours, and our tests found that to be pretty close.
We tested the Skyroam for the first time on a road trip in the interior of British Columbia in Canada. The battery lasted a full 14 hours for me, from the time we hit the road at 8 am, to when we went to sleep around 10 pm, with about 15% battery left.
A cool feature about the Skyroam Solis is that you can also connect your phone or device to it, and recharge your phone while on the go. The Skyroam Solis comes with a built in 6000 mAh power bank and comes with a USB-C connection to charge all the latest devices.
If you find you need additional power, you can either purchase a power bank to help top up the Solis or even buy extra batteries for it, since you can open the Solis and switch out batteries anytime. That said, from our experience and unless you’re severely going off grid, the batteries in the Skyroam Solis should easily last you the day.
How much does Skyroam cost?
There are a couple of ways to use Skyroam: a daily pass, their new monthly data subscription, or the new 1 GB GoData plan. The best part is there are no contracts, and you pay only for the days or months that you use the Skyroam.
The Skyroam daily pass and monthly data subscription (in USD)
The daily pass (which lasts a full 24 hours from the moment you begin) costs $9 if you own your own Skyroam device. You can buy a Skyroam Solis for around $149.99, and that includes one free daypass. If you decide to just rent a Skyroam Solis for the length of your journey, the daily cost also starts at $9 per day.
Skyroam Solis in Canada
What I really liked about the Skyroam rental is that they only quoted me a $9.99 shipping charge to Canada. If you’re Canadian, you’ll understand why this is so huge – we usually pay a small fortune to have anything shipped into Canada. In fact, we checked out a competitor, and they were charging over $30 to ship to Canada.
If you’re in the USA or Europe, your shipping will likely be even less.
You can also get unlimited Skyroam service for $99 per 30 days.
Because we travel so much, we own our own Skyroam Solis, rather than renting. That means that we don’t need to wait for a rental to be delivered if we take off at the last minute! It also means we pay a bit less for a daily pass and even if we get stuck someplace local without internet and don’t want to use up all our cell data, we can just opt to enable the Skyroam for the day. This has been fantastic when we visit my Mom in the middle of Alberta Canada and here shaky WiFi services goes down again, and our Solis comes to the rescue with WiFi for all!
The Skyroam GoData plan
To use the Skyroam GoData monthly plan, you’ll need to own the Skyroam hotspot. Rentals aren’t available with the plan.
The GoData plan gives you 1GB of data (at 4G LTE data speed) for $9 a month. You can buy more data, on the go, at $9/GB. Plus, there’s no contract. Like the daily plan, you can connect up to five devices. Every month you get another 1 GB of data. However, any unused data you didn’t use doesn’t roll forward.
Since we sometimes go a month or two without traveling, we’re sticking with our the 24 hour daily passes. That said, we may switch to the GoData plan the next time we head out for an extended trip just so we’re not limited to daily time limits.
Where does the Skyroam work?
The Skyroam Solis coverage map says you can get coverage 130+ countries, including Canada, the USA, Mexico, most of Europe, and South America as well as Asia and the Middle East.
To test it, I entered the last 10 countries we’ve visited: Canada, the USA, Mexico, Belize, Ecuador, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Anguilla, and the Dominican Republic. There’s Skyroam service everywhere but in Belize. Nine out of 10 is pretty good, I think.
How does Skyroam work?
Skyroam uses Skyroam’s patented virtual SIM technology to connect you to the nearest cell network, and will connect with over 300 carriers at 4G LTE speeds (where available).
Does Skyroam work on planes or on a cruise?
Because Skyroam works off cell networks, it won’t work where you can’t get a cell signal, like while you’re in the air on a flight, on cruise ships (unless you’re near a cell signal in port), or somewhere very remote.
How do you use Skyroam Solis?
The Skyroam Solis is honestly super easy to get up and running.
When you first get the unit, you’ll need to pull a little plastic tab to connect the battery.
Then, connect it to your cell charger via the provided USB cable to charge. Ours came pre-charged.
How do I load Skyroam?
If you want to add more day passes, or see how many passes you have left, switch to a $99 30-day plan, or start a GoData subscription, go to a.skyroam.com on a connected device.
Update! Skyroam’s just introduced a new app in late 2018. The app lets you activate your Solis, load the Skyroam with more WiFi service, troubleshoot problems, get help and more. We love it because it lets us see battery life, signal strength, the number of devices connected, WiFi status and more on the status screen.
Who is Skyroam good for:
Where to buy Skyroam Solis
You can buy Skyroam Solis on the Skyroam website here.
Skyroam Solis discount
Want to get a Skyroam for yourself?
Want 10% off? Use code BAREFOOTNOMAD here.
from The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/tech-2/skyroam-solis-review-how-we-get-unlimited-wifi-anywhere-we-travel/
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from Extreme Hotels Cabarete https://extremehotels.com/surfing-in-cabarete/
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Gokite Cabarete is happy to announce our new weather station located in La Boca, the famous spot where river Yassica meets the ocean, a few miles east of Cabarete.
Besides the beautiful views and great food at Wilson’s Restaurant, to which you have to wait for a boat ride, provided by the restaurant,La Boca has been well know among many local and international riders for years. This is a great place for learning and practicing new tricks, while being surrounded by beautiful surrounding nature, flat waters, and nice, consistent wind.
For those more adventurous, La Boca is also great to challenge yourself to a downwinder to Kite Beach, GoKite’s home.
Because of La Boca’s popularity, we always wanted to provide accurate weather information to our local and international kiteboarding communities — similarly to what we’re already doing on Kite Beach — but have always ran into technical issues, due to its location. La Boca is a fairly remote area where the access to power is very restricted or non-existent, let alone the internet access…
After exploring a few options with the local providers, and after analyzing the station’s requirements, we come up with a plan to use solar battery-powered device in combination with a wireless/mobile network for internet access. (A station of our choice, Holfuy Automatic Weather Station, consumes very little power for the meter and the wireless data server that’s built-in. Additionally, the data requirements/consumption is minimal, too, as the data is in text format and thus very “light.”)
A few days after we received our solar-powered weather station — and after the heavy raining stopped— we finally made it happen! We had a great, productive day in La Boca, fun times and great food at Wilson’s, and our new weather station is now live. Next time you want to go kiteboarding in La Boca and wonder about the wind conditions there, head over to our Weather and LIve Webcam page.
from GoKiteCabarete http://gokitecabarete.com/find-out-the-local-weather-conditions-in-la-boca-the-new-gokite-weather-station-is-now-live/
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Looking for unique travel gifts for family, friends or even yourself? Finding an unusual or quirky travel gift can be a challenge but we’re here to help!
We’ve traveled the globe together for over fifteen years now, and in that time we’ve had a chance to find some unusual gifts for travelers that they will actually want! How do we know? We own or have used pretty much every single thing on this list.
There’s something for everyone here, from unique travel gifts for her or him, to special travel gifts for friends going traveling.
Unique Travel Gifts
Here they are: our list of 40 unique travel gifts! There are gifts here that range from less than ten dollars and up, and they’re all aimed to make the traveler in your life happy.
Travel Experience with Tinggly
What most travelers want above all is an amazing and unique travel experience. So a gift of one-of-a-kind experiences and bucket list adventures is a perfect fit.
A tinggly gift is a unique voucher that lets the recipient choose an activity from over 350 experiences in over 100 countries around the world.
There’s everything from hot air balloon rides to champagne cruises to whale watching and even hotel stays from which to choose.
You choose the Tinggly voucher to give, and the recipient picks an experience (or experiences!) from hundreds of activities worldwide. They have five years to choose their experiences.
You can choose to give a physical Tinggly gift box, or an e-voucher.
It also makes a great last minute gift! You can get an e-voucher any time of the day (and even on Christmas morning, if you’re procrastinating that much!).
You can find out more here –> https://www.tinggly.com/collections/merry-christmas-gift-box
Our international WiFi hotspot has pretty quickly become one of our must have travel gadgets.
Right now, we’re using the Skyroam Solis WiFi hotspot, which gives us unlimited WiFi wherever we travel in the world.
As a traveling family, we love the WiFi hotspot, because it lets us connect up to five devices at a time. You can rent the Solis for about $9 USD a day while you travel, or do like us and buy a device and get either a monthly, no contract Go Data plan or activate it for 24 hours at a time anywhere in the world.
Our personal review of the Solis is coming in the next week, we promise!
You can never have enough packing cubes! Actually, you can, however you likely need more.
Socks and underwear in one, spare shoes in another. One for pants, another for shirts and a final one for dresses or ties depending on what you’re bringing.
Also, never hurts to have a dedicated packing cube for electronics if you carry more than what your purse or backpack can handle. Don’t forget you also need something for your dirty clothes to come back in.
Sound like too many? That isn’t even factoring in kids, pets, winter travel or makeup and medications. Still on the fence? Just get more.
We use these eBags ultralight packing cubes, which are lightweight, compress well and the mesh also lets us easily see what’s inside.
Safety is sexy! Well, not really, but it can be a large cost in any travel plan. Every traveler needs travel insurance, but it’s pretty shocking that a lot of people travel without it. It may be practical, but travel insurance is also an unusual and unexpected gift for travel lovers.
World Nomads has coverage for everyone from backpackers to families, and they cover nearly every country on the planet. Surprise someone with their own travel protection and if something bad does happen, know that they’ll be thanking you for years and years.
TSA-compliant clear toiletry bag for air travel
Seeing what’s in your toiletry bag quickly can save major frustration every morning and even when passing through security.
We wrote a post dedicated solely to the best toiletry bags but if you’re in a rush, just grab the bag below and you’ll instantly be better off than nearly every other traveler out there.
Unfortunately, TSA-compliant toiletry bags are necessarily small (a quart or litre), so it probably won’t hold all of your gear. What a lot of people do is take a quart size TSA compliant clear toiletry bag, and use it to store their liquids. They store other (non-liquid) toiletries and accessories, like hair brushes and tweezers, in another bag.
Here’s our choice for a TSA-compliant clear toiletry bag: the YAMIU toiletry bag. It’s a quart sized, clear, waterproof, and resealable bag that’s TSA compliant with the 3-1-1 toiletries rule. This is a two-pack that comes with two sizes for your wet and for your dry.
GoToob travel toiletry containers for clear liquid
Leaving for a weekend, but need your favorite shampoo and conditioner? Want to have some sunscreen for your week in the sun, but the only container you have is well over the 100 ml limit that the nice airport people will instantly confiscate?
Well, you could just buy shampoo there, but likely they don’t have what you need and even if they do, it’s likely you’re going to pay a heck of a convenience charge. Grab some easy to fill GoToob travel toiletry containers (see our GoToob review here) and don’t look back. They’re cute, come in a variety of sizes, refill and clean easily and they don’t leak which is probably the best reason to travel with them.
Great travel memories start with great pictures. What better way to preserve them than to securely store them online in the cloud?
Amazon Prime comes with unlimited free picture and video storage. It also includes free music and a subscription to Amazon Prime Video. Oh yeah, someone said Amazon Prime even includes free shipping. Just kidding, that was the original use case for Amazon Prime but with so many goodies included with Amazon Prime these days, to us it’s only a bonus.
What’s better than reading a book while traveling? Listening to one! We’re huge fans of Audible and have a decent library of things we’ve listened to ourselves and as a family during our epic road trips.
Portable hard drive
Not convinced about online backups, or maybe just traveling to some remote destinations and need more space than your phone or expensive DSLR camera can handle?
Don’t worry, with this Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive you don’t even need a computer.
Wirelessly connect it via WiFi to your phone or tablet or grab your camera’s SD card and backup those files quickly so you can keep on taking more photos! Available in a variety of sizes, you can choose the perfect size for yourself.
Love yoga, but don’t want to take a bulky yoga mat when you travel? We feel you. I take my yoga mat on every road trip, but it’s just too big to take with us in our carry-on, where space is limited.
Enter Yoga Paws, which are slip on yoga gloves and non-slip toeless socks that are supposed to literally become a wearable, lightweight, yoga mat.
Full disclosure here: We haven’t tried Yoga paws yet, but they get good ratings and it’s such a quirky travel gift idea we had to include them.
Love coffee? Love to travel? Then a french press travel mug may be a great gift.
This Espro travel stainless steel french press is attractive, lightweight, and makes a mean cup of coffee. All you need is a few grounds and some hot water so it works on the road or even while camping.
Not a coffee drinker? Get the tea filter instead.
Kindle with free cellular connection
As airlines get stricter with baggage limits, the luxury of carrying a slew of physical books is starting to disappear.
Instead, we’ve started to travel with ebook readers almost exclusively. You can literally fit hundreds of books on an e-reader, which is enough for even the most dedicated bookworm.
A Kindle with built in Wi-Fi + free cellular connectivity uses the same wireless signals that cell phones use. However, there’s no monthly fees or commitments: Amazon pays for the cellular connectivity and it lets you grab your ebooks on the go quickly and easily.
This folding, collapsible stainless steel drinking straw is a fantastic choice for travelers who want to reduce single use plastics such as plastic straws.
It comes with a cleaning squeegee and a carrying case. Plus, it’s BPA free, and made with food grade silicone and quality stainless steel, so it won’t rust.
Collapsible travel bottle
I’m all about reducing the amount of plastic we use, but it can be hard to avoid plastic water bottles when we travel.
We’ve tried carting around full size refillable water bottles on our travels, but they take up a lot of space, especially for a family of four.
A collapsible water bottle like this one from Nomader is a great solution.
It’s BPA free, with a silicone body, fits 22 oz, is dishwasher safe, and has a leak free twisting cap.
Video on the go with the Amazon fire stick
We’ve been traveling with an Amazon Fire Stick for a few years now and love it.
At just a few ounces, this portable Android device plugs directly into the HDMI slot on nearly any TV and, coupled with WiFi, allows you to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and nearly any Android video source directly to the TV. Sure, nearly everyone owns a Smart TV at home these days but when you’re on the road, most hotels, hostels and nearly any place that has a TV is still pretty basic. The Fire Stick takes it to the next level and even lets you play a few games with the tiny remote.
Waterproof Bluetooth speaker
With four of us on the go, listening to music is usually a headphone moment in our family.
That said, when we all want to jam out together, our go to device is our baby blue Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. This thing puts out amazing bass for its size, it floats, is waterproof up to a meter and comes with us whether we’re jumping in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub or soaking in the sun on the beach.
Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones
We’ve owned four different Bluetooth headphones in the past two years, and I have to say the only one that ever gets thrown in our bag anymore is our silver Bose QuietComfort 35 II Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones. What makes these headphones truly shine is their active noise cancelling ability. Stuck on a plane with a noisy neighbor? These over the ear headphones will drown out anything and sound good to boot.
Print on the go with the HP Sprocket Photo Printer
We received our portable photo printer as a gift, and thought “who would actually use that?”, but the truth is we actually use it!
The tiny HP Sprocket Photo Printer is about the size of a cellphone, but prints out incredibly cute 2 x 3 inch full-color pictures. Our daughter is in love with it, and has cataloged a nice collection of mini prints.
If you ever loved the idea of traveling with a Polaroid camera, who’ll definitely appreciate this device. Especially since you can edit the pics right there on the spot before you print it.
Tile device tracker
If your gift receiver loses their keys or devices regularly then the Tile Mate Bluetooth tracker might be a great gift for them. These little plastic electronic tiles get placed into bags, put on key chains, attached to phones, etc. and when you need to find them just run the app. Working up to 200 feet away and with community searching if the item gets lost, there is hope for them. It may be one of the more unique travel items we’ve seen, but it’s also one of the most practical.
Petzl Tikka headlamp
One of our longest used travel devices that has a permanent spot in our day pack wherever we travel to is our Petzl Tikka Headlamp. We use it a lot over our cell phone flashlight, because the headlamp means that we can have our hands free.
Going on 15 years, it still works just as well as the day we bought it. We’ve studied nesting penguins with its red light mode down in Australia, witnessed a giant leather-back sea turtle lay its eggs on the beach in Costa Rica, and we’ve searched for crabs on the beaches in the Philippines more nights than I care to remember (our then 2 year old son was fascinated by them).
We also love it for camping and even use it around the house all the time for renovations, electrical work and even just doing yard work after the sun has set. The model has changed a bit over the years, but the Petzl quality is still there today.
If you have kids, or just enjoy playing games on the go, then nothing beats a pack of playing cards for versatility. That said, dedicated card games like UNO and Skip-Bo are great as well. Our daughter adores UNO and we often have a UNO deck wherever we go.
These days, we also carry a game called OK Play by Big Potato Games. It’s kind of like Connect 4 with tiles but for 4 people. It’s fun as is, however we’ve created our own gameplay that involves stacking and jumping that the kids love.
Travel jacket with pockets
I’ve worn my women’s Chloe Glow SCOTTeVEST travel jacket for a couple of years now, and still love it.
It’s made of a smooth cotton/poly/spandex blend, and has 15 hidden pockets, with plenty of room for passports, electronics, and more. The only downside is that it’s a fairly warm jacket, so it’s only good for climates where it gets cooler than about 18 degrees Celsius or 65 Fahrenheit. Warmer than that, and it’s uncomfortably hot.
Charles has the men’s microfleece hoodie from SCOTTeVEST, and while he likes it, he finds it a bit casual for his taste. The fleece means that it’s a little less polished looking than the smooth finished jacket, and his size medium has a bit of a gap at the waist (Charles is fairly slim). That said, it has a whopping 21 pockets.
If you’re looking for a more polished men’s travel jacket with a lot of pockets, we’d start with the less casual men’s cotton blend jacket, with 25 pockets, instead.
Hidden pocket cardigan
To be honest, I wear this around the house too, but this hidden pocket cardigan from SCOTTeVEST is great for holding small amounts of cash or credit cards.
Unfortunately, the zippered pockets aren’t big enough for a passport, but it’s great for a casual walk around town when you don’t want to carry a backpack or purse.
The fabric is quite sheer, so it’s perfect as a light cover-up in warmer weather.
We love this cute, discreet little bra stash from Pacsafe.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold a lot, but you can easily fit in a credit card and some spare cash, and a single passport, and it’s one of the more unique travel gifts for her we’ve seen.
Check out our other alternatives to hidden money belts here for more ideas for keeping your belongings safe and secure when you travel.
Travel money belt
Okay, let’s admit it. Traditional money belts can be pretty geeky.
Luckily, Stashbandz has an alternative that’s a more attractive choice for both men and women.
There are two pockets in front, plus two behind, with plenty of room for money, cards, passports and more.
If you’re looking for something to put in a money belt, this slim travel wallet is a great choice.
There’s enough room for credit cards and some cash (though your passport won’t fit), but it’s great for fitting neatly in a small pocket or hidden in your money belt.
Even better, this wallet from Corkor is made of vegan material, and comes in several stylish options.
Like everyone, we have multiple articles of clothing that we refuse to travel without.
For Charles, one is a pair of ExOfficio Give and Go Boxer Briefs for men. Super comfortable and high quality, dries in under 2 hours and doesn’t hold any odors. Ask anyone, Exofficio make great travel boxers.
Click to see prices for the men’s ExOfficio boxers here.Micki swears by her ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go bikinis. They’re quick drying, comfortable, and look good.
Personal item backpack
These days, we travel carry on only (for the most part), so we’ve learned to maximize the amount of stuff we can carry on an airplane.
In addition to your carry on bag, most airlines will let you also carry a personal item as well like a purse, laptop bag, or smaller backpack, free of charge.
This can give you a nice bit of extra storage space on top of your carry on baggage limit.
We really like the little Standard luggage Co. daily work backpack as a personal item. It’s stylish, and small at only 2.2 pounds and 17′ x 11′ x 6′ (45 x 28 x 15 cm). It has a lot of little bonuses, like an integrated USB port and lockable zips. Plus, it works well as a day bag.
An awful lot of people love this affordable travel clothesline.
It’s elastic, packs away neatly, and even has built in clothespins. Love it!
Portable wash bag
Hate scrubbing out your skivvies in the bathroom sink but don’t have time to take them to a laundromat while on vacation? This portable wash bag from Scrubba may be for you.
Just add water, soap, and your clothes, rub a little, and the Scrubba’s internal washboard scrubs your clothes clean.
There are a few limits though: it doesn’t hold a lot, so forget about scrubbing a family’s worth of laundry, or even a heavy pair of pants. Plus, we think it’s a little on the expensive side.
That said, this is a pretty cool gadget.
Make sure you get the new version with the twist valve – it apparently solves some issues the older versions had.
For us, a travel hammock is one of those items that sounds amazing in theory, but that we’ve never used as we travel.
That said, this would make an amazing gift for the traveler who spends a lot of time outdoors, and who loves to relax by hanging out in a hammock.
The Active Roots travel hammock is developed in partnership with fellow blogger, adventurer and explorer Will Hatton from The Broke Backpacker, so it’s a great choice.
OK, so compression socks are probably the least sexy item on this list.
That said, blood clots (aka deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms) aren’t especially sexy either.
Surprisingly, blood clots from flying are fairly common, and they affect more than just older travelers. Check out this story from blogger Sherry Ott.
Compression socks are said to help travelers prevent blood clots from flying by increasing circulation in the legs.
You can even pick up some pretty cute versions, like these.
Lonely Planet’s A Spotter’s Guide to Toilets
It’s not talked about a lot, but toilets become a pretty important topic when you travel.
We’ve seen some that are pretty nasty, some that look like they’re works of art, and lot that are just plain quirky. We can pretty much guarantee this is one of the most unique gifts for travel lovers you’ll find.
Written by fellow travel blogger, Jodi Ettenberg, The Food Traveler’s Handbook is a fantastic guide for traveling foodies.
There’s great information here on safely navigating street food (think hot, busy, and fresh), as well as great tips for those on special diets.
Carry on backpack
Admittedly, a backpack is a more practical travel gift, but a good carry on backpack is always a fantastic choice for travelers.
That said, we’ve chosen the best travel backpack for carry-on from an independent retailer that’s a little more stylish and roomy than the usual choice.
The Tortuga Setout travel backpack lets you can carry a surprisingly large amount of stuff in a backpack that packs like a suitcase and carries like a backpack.
It’s a great choice for Europe, where you’ll want a pack that’s stylish, but holds a lot for its size.
The Setout is 22″ x 14″ x 9″, so it’s small enough to work as carry-on, but at 45 L it’s probably the most spacious pack you’ll get at those dimensions.
DJI Mavic Pro 2
Well, we’ve definitely saved the most expensive, and possibly the coolest, travel gift for the end.
The Mavic Pro 2 is brand new in October 2018. It will set you back a few dollars, that’s for sure (think high four digits).
That said, it has one of the best drone video resolutions out there at a 4K resolution of 3840 × 2160 24/25/30p. Still image sizes are a whopping 5472 × 3648.
DJI Spark drone
If you just can’t pony up for the expensive Mavic Pro 2 (and who can blame you!), check out the smaller, more affordable, and more travel friendly DJI Spark instead.
This is a fantastic little drone. The video resolution on the DJI Spark is an impressive 1920 x 1080 (30fps), with a photo resolution of 3,968 x 2,976 pixels.
Do you have any ideas for unique travel gifts? Let us know!
from The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/unique-travel-gifts-that-theyll-really-love/
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from Extreme Hotels Cabarete https://extremehotels.com/hiking-caving-el-choco-national-park/
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Finding your ideal Holiday Vacation Rental
Are you looking for the perfect vacation home rental for your friends and family to enjoy a warm weather getaway? Sea Horse Ranch in Cabarete, Dominican Republic has many unique options which are perfectly suited for the ultimate in Caribbean island living.
Relax at Sea Horse Ranch luxury resort and enjoy the famous sunshine, sandy beaches and beautiful crystal-clear water that the Dominican Republic is known for.
Villa Nirvana – Stylish Cabarete Villa Rental
The interior design and modern style of Villa Nirvana set it apart from standard vacation rentals. Located in the exclusive gated resort of Sea Horse Ranch, guests have access to the upscale amenities and enjoy close proximity to local attractions in Cabarete.
This five bedroom villa offers an expansive living area which opens to magical exterior views allowing for guests to maintain a connection with the natural setting. A pool patio, with the Japanese-inspired slate stone wall, is complete with a waterfall fountain and connects to a rectangular lap pool.
Casa Colonial – Stunning Caribbean Vacation Home
Casa Colonial is a luxury four bedroom villa with a spacious private pool and garden, which is ideal for families, or a small group. For those who desire a thoroughly relaxing, sumptuous and stylish base from which to explore the region, this home is for you. If you desire to simply relax and enjoy your surroundings, you will discover beautiful beaches, our resort restaurant and the swimming pools of Sea Horse Ranch, just a two minutes’ walk away.
This is a world-class colonial style villa with contemporary English design and fine local craftsmanship perfectly combined to create a beautiful and elegant atmosphere.
from Sea Horse Ranch https://sea-horse-ranch.com/luxury-home-rentals/
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Looking for the best castles in the world?
We’ve visited dozens of castles on our trips to six continents (we haven’t made it to Antarctica yet, but there are no castles there, anyway), and we’re always amazed by the sheer size and beauty of the castles we’ve visited.
Of course, what’s best or beautiful really depends on your point of view. In this post, we’ve included some of our favorite castles that visually made us say “wow”, and that have a cool history or story behind them.
Our best castles in the world list includes the biggest castles in the world (either the Prague Castle or the Windsor Castle depending on who you’re talking to), what we think may be one of the oldest castles in the world (Goreme Castle, Turkey), as well as cool and unusual castles built into the surrounding rock like the mountainside cave covering Predjamski Castle or castles built on Tibetan mountaintops (Potala Palace) and so forth. Some of these are among the most famous castles in the world as well as some you probably have never heard of before.
What got them on this list is that in their own way, each one is an amazing castle in it’s own right.
So, before we start, what exactly defines a castle? Can a monastery or church be a castle? Turns out, the definition of a castle is pretty simple. The Merriam Webster dictionary says a castle is “a large fortified building or set of buildings”, “a massive or imposing house” or “a retreat safe against intrusion or invasion”.
The Best Castles in the World
Here they are: our top 20 pictures of the best castles in the world, with beautiful castle photos to prove it.
Schloss Schwerin Castle, Germany
The Schloss Schwerin Castle in Germany is about as close to a fairytale castle that you’re ever likely to find. It’s surrounded by lakes and forest, and features stunning towers that reach into the sky that are topped with golden domes and pinnacles.
Schwerin Castle was built between 1847 and 1857 by Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It’s said there has been a building on the site since around 1160. You can visit this castle at the Schwerin Museum, Germany.
Blarney Castle, Ireland
The medieval Blarney Castle is near Cork, Ireland, and it dates from way back in 1446. It’s one of Ireland’s most famous attractions, and brings in thousands of visitors who want to climb to the top and kiss its famous Blarney Stone.
While there’s the castle itself to visit, there’s also over 60 acres of gardens, waterways, and grounds to explore.
There’s an admission fee to visit, but it can be well worth the cost if you take the time to walk around the ample grounds and check out the castle’s interior.
Osaka Castle, Japan
Osaka Castle is beautiful in and of itself, but it really comes to life during cherry blossom season, when the blooms turn the landscape of Osaka Castle Park gorgeous shades of pink.
The castle is one of Japan’s most well known attractions, and was built in 1583 by feudal lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi, whose love of gold is seen in the gold embellished exterior of the castle.
Uchisar Castle, Goreme, Turkey
The castle is made out of solid rock, with rooms and stairways hollowed out of the rock itself. I couldn’t find any confirmed information on the castle’s age, but UNESCO says “It is believed that the first signs of monastic activity in Cappadocia date back to the 4th century at which time small anchorite communities, acting on the teachings of Basileios the Great, Bishop of Kayseri, began inhabiting cells hewn in the rock.”
Today, Uchisar Castle is largely a crumbling ruin, and visitors are banned from visiting due to the risk of collapse. As such, most of the rooms on the north side of the castle are now used as pigeon houses.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle looks like it was plucked straight from your favorite fairy tale, and it’s easily one of the most famous castles around the world, with up 6,000 people visiting a day.
It’s located in Bavaria, Germany, and was built for King Ludwig II. The name means “new swan stone”, figuratively named after Wagner’s the Swan Knight.
There are only 14 rooms currently finished inside the castle, and they’re all on view for visitors.
Lichtenstein Castle, Germany
Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein in German) is privately owned, and operates as a tourist attraction today. It’s located in the Swabian Jura of southern Germany, an hour’s drive south of Stuttgart.
The Lichtenstein Castle is popular with German tourists, but fewer international tourists visit these days. The current castle was built between 1840 and 1842, however the original castle on the site was built back around 1200.
In terms of size, Lichtenstein is a relatively small castle however, with stunning views of the Echaz Valley and Swabian Alps it more than makes up for that with it’s beautiful scenery.
Pena Palace, Portugal
We visited the Pena Palace on a cool spring day a few years ago, and it absolutely wowed us.
You’ll find Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena in Portuguese) just outside of Lisbon, standing high above the municipality of Sintra, Portugal.
It’s a fine example of 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. It was built by King consort Ferdinand II in 1847, and purchased by the Portuguese State in 1889. Today, it’s a museum and tourist attraction, and we’d say it’s well worth a visit.
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
The Prague Castle is thought to be the largest ancient castle in the world, at about 70,000 square meters (750,000 square feet).
The castle has a long history, dating back to the 9th century, and it has been used by kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. Today, the castle is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic.
Mont Saint Michel, France
The Mont Saint Michel is one France’s most stunning sights. Mont Saint Michel is a medieval monastery that’s perched high on top of a small island.
The island is located about a kilometer off the coast, and dates back to 709.
Today, Mont Saint Michel is one of France’s most iconic tourist attractions.
Matsumoto Castle, Japan
Matsumoto Castle is an easy day trip from Tokyo. A National Treasure of Japan, and the current structure dates back to 1594.
The Matsumoto Castle is also known as the crow castle because of its black exterior.
It’s a beautiful place, and an especially good choice for visiting Japan with kids.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
The 13th century Eilean Donan is one of the most iconic and visited castles in the Highlands of Scotland. It’s situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, making for some stunning views.
Want to stay on the grounds at the Eilean Donan? It’s possible to stay on site at the Eilean Donan Cottage only a stones throw from the ancient castle.
Egeskov Castle, Denmark
Egeskov Castle opened in 1554, and it’s Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castle. It’s located near Kværndrup, in the south of the island of Funen, Denmark.
There’s a lot to enjoy here, from touring the castle and grounds, to enjoying exhibitions and events involving lots of amazing local food and drinks.
Windsor Castle, England
Windsor Castle is unique in that it’s a currently active royal residence. In fact, it’s the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The original castle was built in the 11th century, and it’s still possible to visit. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the Queen in residence!
Duart Castle, Scotland
Duart Castle (Caisteal Dhubhairt in Scottish Gaelic) is a castle perched on a craggy cliff on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. The castle dates back to the 13th century.
It was brought back from ruin in 1911, and to this day, it’s still privately owned by the MacLean clan.
Swallow’s Nest, Ukraine
Swallow’s Nest is a small castle perched precariously over the Crimean Sea.
It overlooks the spa town of Gaspra. While it looks like a castle architecturally, it’s not a castle in the truest form, because it wasn’t built to protect its occupants.
A large earthquake in 1927 closed the castle for close to 40 years because of damage to the underlying rock. Today, it houses an Italian restaurant.
Peleș Castle, Romania
Peleș Castle is a Neo-Renaissance castle in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. It was built between 1873 and 1914 for King Carol I.
It was originally used as a summer residence, and today it operates as a museum. Its extravagant looks led to it being featured in the 2009 movie The Brothers Bloom as well as many TV movies.
Potala Palace, Tibet
Admittedly, Tibet isn’t the first place you think of when trying to picture a castle.
That said, the Potala Palace has a long history, and was the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Today, it’s a museum, and on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It’s located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
Predjamski Castle, Slovenia
One of the world’s most dramatic castles, Predjama Castle is a Renaissance castle nestled within a cave mouth in south-central Slovenia. It’s in the village of Predjama, and was built around the 12th century.
In the summer, you can visit the caves underneath the castle.
Dundas Castle or Craig-E-Clare, New York
Dundas Castle is the lone castle from the USA in this list. It was built between 1915 and 1924, and is located in Roscoe, New York, and was modeled after Dundas Castle. It is also known as Craig-E-Clare.
Sadly, it’s currently abandoned, and has a long history of misfortune. The original owner, Ralph Wurts-Dundas, died in 1922 as the castle was being finished. His wife Josephine Wurts-Dundas, was committed to a sanitarium soon after. It was inherited by their daughter, who was swindled out of a great deal of money by the caretakers of the castle. She was admitted to a mental institution herself.
After that, the Dundas Castle went through various owners, including a time as a children’s summer camp for children. It was bought by a Masonic chapter as a retreat, but it was abandoned by the Masons (who still own the building).
Arolsen Castle, Germany
Arolsen Castle was built in the early 1700s, in Bad Arolsen, Hesse, Germany.
The baroque-style castle is still inhabited by Wittekind, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and his family.
The castle is now a museum with daily tours.
Bride on the Steps of Cathedral Se, Porto, Portugal
While the Cathedral Se in Porto, Portugal doesn’t technically count as a castle (as it wasn’t built to protect its occupants), it’s so beautiful, and one of our favorite buildings in Portugal, that we’ve included it in this list.
Cathedral Se is located in the historic city center of Porto, and it’s still a working church, with mass celebrated at 11 am every day.
If you’re lucky, you’ll even see a wedding in progress, like the day we did!
Would you visit any of these castles? Let us know in the comments.
from The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/the-best-castles-in-the-world/
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Learn about traveling and living in the Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Good places to visits and fun things to do in Dominican Republic.