Thursday, May 31, 2007

How To Create A Fun & Functional Child Playroom

Play is what being a kid is all about. By creating a fun and functional child playroom we give our kids the best foundation there is. Sure there may be other rooms in the house where your children hang out to watch TV, play on the computer or play a board game with the rest of the family but none compares to the value of having an actual child playroom.

Having a room where imagination fuels the play is where it’s at. Child playrooms are all about giving your children the space and the equipment needed to inspire play. All children need is imagination and a child playroom to be creative in.

When it comes to creating a fun and functional child playroom it’s important to consider your child’s natural tendencies. What type of play does your child enjoy the most – is it arts and crafts, building forts, dramatic play, creating tall skyscrapers out of building blocks etc.?

Get input from the whole family regarding room design and set-up. Although it’s important to accommodate current interests and activities a wise parent also plans the space for future use. This is where it’s important to include adjustable shelving and incorporate lots of flat surfaces for future projects. A 5 year old will use a playroom very different from how a 10 year old would use it.

For more ideas on designing and decorating child playrooms visit

For a versatile child playroom and one that grows with your children keep the permanent elements in the room like tables, chairs and wall units basic. That’s the functional part.

The fun part comes in how you bring the room together with decorative accessories like fashionable slipcovers, wall decals, posters, and funky storage bins.

No matter their age, kids are natural magnets for stuff. Open shelving with lots of bins is often best way to go as it provides storage flexibility for now and in the future. Your shelving unit for the next few years may house a collection of storage bins filled to the brim with stuffed animals and building blocks and may later be replaced by books, board games and DVDs. As children get older many of them also like to display their collections of things. This is where open shelving comes in really handy.

If on the other hand, you prefer out of sight, out of mind storage when the kids aren’t actively using their playroom you may wish to consider armoires or storage cupboards to keep everything behind closed doors. It’s all a matter preference and what type of playroom you wish to create for your children.

Either way if you opt for open or closed storage you will want to make sure that any shelving units, storage cupboards or armoires are secured to the wall with toggle bolts and brackets.

Following are some creative ways to add a little fun to a functional child playroom space.

* In the craft area paint the chairs in different colors.

* Create a cushion floor using large multi-colored rubber puzzle pieces.

* Use a bulletin board for displaying artwork and posting special activity reminders.

* Turn baby wipe containers into great storage boxes for small craft supplies.

* For a great storage unit paint an old table and cover the sides with fabric to hide roll out storage containers of craft supplies.

* Revitalize old metal shelves with a little spray paint.

* Purchase unfinished shelves and paint them to match the room.

* To protect little fingers and bruises from hard edges consider padding your child’s toy box with quilt batting and fabric that matches the rooms décor.

* Create handy little cubbies by installing a few wooden shelving boxes here and there.

* Since kids love to play in enclosures consider purchasing a lightweight nylon tent, or making one yourself in a fabric that co-ordinates with the room. Another great idea would be to add some nylon crawl though tubes and cardboard house than can by decorated by your kids using paints or markets. Catalogues and magazines are a great source for ideas that you can adapt and craft yourself.

About The Author
Sherrie Le Masurier is an organizing consultant who helps parents organize and decorate their children's rooms. She is a member of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) and co-owner of - Copyright

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Russia Travel Visa – Vodka and Old Friends

If you think getting a visa to travel to Russia is difficult, you should try getting one to travel around the country. Living in Russia, I needed just such a Russia travel visa.

Russia Travel Visa

Unlike many countries, foreigners in Russia must declare on their travel visa where they will travel in the country. If they want to add a location, they have to get a new, temporary visa for the location. Basically, it is red tape and bureaucracy out the ying yang.

While living in Siberia, I was invited to speak at a human rights conference in the town of Tinda. I wasn’t entirely sure where this was, but new I needed a temporary visa to get from my city to it. My host, Oleg Vladimirovich, told me getting one would be no problem. I should’ve known I was in trouble when our first stop was the liquor store.

Four vodka bottles in hand, we hit our first stop at the home of a retired customs official who was married to someone’s half brothers third sister and so on. We reminisced and drank shots for a half hour or so. Feeling no pain, the customs official called a friend and off we went to meet him while leaving the open vodka bottle behind.

At the new gentlemen’s home, we cracked our second bottle of vodka. Reminiscing was undertaken, which left me out of the process since I had never met the chap before. Eventually, another phone call was made and we were off to make a new friend.

As you can probably guess, this process was repeated two more times. At our final meeting, I was so “warm on the inside, cold on the outside” as Russians say when demurely sipping vodka that I was reminiscing with a man and wife who I had never met before in my life!

Eventually, we obtained the necessary visa or something that wouldn’t get me arrested. Oleg joked it was a “semi-visa”. It might work or might not.

About The Author
Rick Chapo is with - makers of writing journals. Travel journals are great travel accessories and travel gifts for student travel, family vacations and adventure travel. Visit for more travel articles, travelogues and travel stories

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thailand Rock Climbing

Mention Thailand and images of beaches, elephants and Bangkok come to mind. Less known is the fact Thailand rock climbing is some of the best in the world.

Thailand Rock Climbing

Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand is bordered by Cambodia, Burma and Laos in the north and Malaysia in the south. The shape of the country is somewhat similar to Italy, and you’ll find similar differences between northern and southern Thailand that you do in Italy. For rock climbing enthusiasts, the south of Thailand is where the action is.

The rock formations in Thailand are almost universally limestone. The level of climbing can be as simple as bouldering or as challenging as tackling over vertical cliffs. This makes Thailand a popular rock climbing destination since it has a little something for everyone.


Located on the southern section of the “tail” of Thailand, Krabi has a wide variety of rock climbing challenges. Most of the climbs in this area are of the pre-bolted sport route variety. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of climbs with difficulty levels from beginner to multi-pitch knuckle crushers.

The beauty of climbing in Krabi is…well, the beauty. While you might have visions of jungles and mosquitoes when thinking of Thailand, Krabi is an area of a different sort. Most of the climbs have been set up on cliff faces on the beach. Being natural capitalists, the Thai’s have built hotels, bars and so on at these locations. As a result, you can literally climb a multi-pitch route for five hours, cool off with a swim and then have a beer. If there is such a thing as a rock climbing heaven, many feel Krabi is it.

Before you cash in your savings, keep in mind that Thailand is a seasonal vacation spot. If you go during the wet season, there is a good chance you’ll just end up sitting around drinking beer. While that isn’t too bad, you’ll go crazy looking at the climbs that are so close, but oh so far away.

Generally, you want to head to Thailand from late November through maybe April. The summer months tend to be both incredibly hot and wet. Make sure you pull up forecasts for the area before booking a trip.

Flying to Thailand is inexpensive, but flights are incredibly long with stopovers. Still, it is all worth it once you experience Thailand rock climbing.

About The Author
Rick Chapo is with - makers of rock climbing journals. Personal climbing journals make great Christmas gifts for rock climbing, mountain climbing and ice climbing. To read climbing articles and stories, visit

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Monday, May 28, 2007

5 Reasons To Choose Blow In Insulation

Insulating your home is pure and simple the number one way to save money on energy costs. In the old days floors and walls were lined with just about anything to keep the moisture and cold air out of home. Renovations have revealed that even old newspapers were found packed into wall and floor boards.

Today insulating is a science all its own. There are R-factors assigned to different material and methods of insulating that give homes and buildings an appropriate amount of protection for their geographic region. The higher the R rating, the better insulated the home.

One of the top rated insulations is relatively new to the industry – probably no more than a couple of decades old – and that is blow in insulation.

The Benefits of Blow In Insulation

There are several benefits to blow in insulation over rolls of fibreglass insulation. The benefits include the method of installing it, its energy efficiency and where it can be used. Here are the top 5 reasons to consider using blow in insulation:

1. Blow in insulation is adjustable. Depending on how much material is used, it can create a protection with an R value of 15-38.

2. Only virgin materials are used to create most blow-in varieties of insulation. This means there a reduced chance of allergies.

3. Blowing the material into the crevices allows for a tighter fit and seal. It can be directed around corners, beams, or wiring that may already be in the walls.

4. Installing blow in insulation is fast. A barrier, referred to as a blanket is stapled to all of the 2x4s to keep the material from floating away and adhering where it isn’t wanted. Then a small slit is cut into the blanket. A hose is inserted and measured amounts of the insulation are blown into place.

5. This type of insulation is extremely energy efficient. As it is blown in it expands and adheres to the surrounding surfaces. It fills even the tiniest of cracks as it does this.

The Complete Installation Process

After attaching the blanket to the surrounding boards, the small opening cut into it allows the hose to be pointed in all directions around the wall or ceiling. After the material is in place the blanket’s slit is closed and taped. This blanket does not act as a moisture barrier, it just control the spray. The material itself resists moisture.

Drywall or other wall materials are then installed right over the insulation blanket. In a renovation project this means that an entire wall would not have to be removed in order to insulation. Take an extremely old home for example. There may be no insulation at all. Instead of removing layers of plaster wall, you could simply make a hole, position the hose and fill the walls will energy efficient insulation. Then patch the wall and the job is complete.

The blow in insulation is more expensive than traditional insulation. However, experts estimate that energy savings is so great that within 2 to 4 years those costs are recovered.

About The Author
Erica Bosworth is a publisher for the internetsite. In his publication the author is working on topics like blow in insulation ( ) and others

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Antique Fireplace Mantels

Are you looking to change your plain old boring fireplace mantel? Well if you’re thinking about setting up an antique fireplace mantel that will go with the classy theme the rest of your house has, don’t fret it can be easily achieved.

These are timeless and sophisticated mantels that have long ago been associated with mansions and palaces. But now you can get that same look in your home.

If you have an older home that is colonial then an antique fireplace would look great, because it will create an historic presence.

The vintage mantels weren’t built for today’s fireplaces, so even if you buy one from an antique or salvage store you would still have to make some adjustments to it. For the most part, the mantels tend to be a lot bigger, so you’ll have to get them trimmed. It would be wise to have the dimensions of you’re fireplace with you when you go to the store. So you get one that would fit your fire place.

As for accessorizing your mantel, you should keep with the vintage theme and put antique bottles or miniature sculptures. Once the mantel is in your room, if you feel it looks clustered, don’t worry. By putting a mirror on the mantel it can create an illusion that the room is big.

It is really important that before you do any sort of construction that you verify the building and fire codes. These mantels are quite expensive, so consider hiring someone to do it. Experts say that this type of job is for professionals only. But look at it this way, if you decide to sell your house, having a fireplace of this magnitude can increase the value of your home.

So now you can go out and get that antique mantel you’ve always wanted.

About The Author
Jason Cox is a successful freelance author that writes regularly for . His articles have also been featured on related sites such as and

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Will Home Air Purifier Clean The Air?

Pollution is one of the inevitable and harmful elements that are our environment possess. We have been striving hard to combat outdoor air pollution; but much to your surprise, experts claim that indoor pollution is two to five times as much as outdoor air pollution. An indoor pollution may be ten times more toxic than the outdoor air pollution as we spend around 90% of our time indoors. Our indoor environment contains many hazardous contaminants like dint and dust mints, pet hair, mold mild dew, household odors, common household and industrial cleaning agents, pollen and other allergies. These elements keep on floating in the air and become the main cause of a person getting affected by a number of allergies.

The prominent thing in this concern is to eliminate these contaminants and make the air inside pollution free. Many types of air purifying products in the market today facilitate this. One can easily retain the air quality of home and other indoor spaces with the help of air cleaning products. With so many choices available in the market, you may face some turmoil while electing any one of them. The only way to get out of this bedlam is to try one of them and especially one, which comes with a free trial period for assessment. This would make you save your money on useless products and choose the best possible cleaning product with much investment on your part. There are many other factors, which one needs to consider before opting for a particular air-cleaning product. The important one is to understand the type of pollutant you want to flight away. Size of the room where you want an anti-pollutant to act also plays a significant role in opting for an air-cleaning product. You may be required to brook a stipulated range of sound while using an air purifier. Try to consider the level of noise you are willing to live with and also the cost of maintenance. Once you buy an air purifier, you have to maintain it well and pay for it as well.

The market is flooded with many air purifiers and different manufacturers producing them. The wisest thing would be to do a bit of research about the product and its manufacturer to believe the authenticity of the product. If you are buying in- store, prepare questions and make an appointment with the salesperson so that you can be completely informed about product features. This would keep you and your money safe, as any one would not easily dupe you easily. The above-mentioned fact would also help you buy the best facility out of your hard earned money. Another way to buy air purifiers is applying for them online. There are many sites, which offer these pollutions fighters at reasonable rates and customer satisfaction guarantee. But remember to keep in mind certain factors before choosing a product online. Try to read reviews of each product before you buy. Many online stores such as provide this review service. Honey well, GE, whirlpool, alpine, living air and Bionaire are considered to be some of the better manufacturers of air purifiers. Study the product features and specifications by visiting manufacturers website before making the final choice.

About The Author
Copyright 2006 – Ivar Rudi, Ivar suggests you find great market for less by shopping online today. For more air purifier information and resources check out:


Friday, May 25, 2007

Art Destinations on Long Island

The arts are alive and well on Long Island. There are far too many places to cover in a single article, but there are some definite places you’ll want to begin your journey though painting, sculpture and mixed media art. Some of the Long Island galleries are artist-run, so you’ll not only get a taste of the arts, but experience work by talented local artists as well.

If you have a fondness for 19th and 20th century European and American art, your first stop should be the Heckscher Museum of Art at 2 Prime Avenue in Huntington. The Heckcsher collection includes Dadist George Grosz’s masterpiece Eclipse of the Sun. Grosz was a resident of Huntington between 1947 and 1958. The Heckcsher collection also features the art of "one-time" Huntington residents Arthur Dove and his wife Helen Torr. The Heckcsher Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10AM to 5PM, with weekend hours from 1PM to 5PM.

Great examples of Long Island talent can be found at the BJ Spoke Gallery, located at 299 Main Street in Huntington. This artist-owned cooperative gallery features annual juried art competitions, but their biggest event is the Expo. This competition highlights work in oil painting, watercolor, drawing, photography and other visual art forms. The Expo scheduled for 2006 is scheduled for March 6 through April 2. Whatever time of year you visit, you’re sure to see some of Long Island’s finest artistic talent on display. Operating hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11AM to 5PM. Friday hours are from 11AM to 9PM.

The Islip Art Museum is a contemporary art space located at 50 Irish Lane in East Islip. Past exhibitions have included "Food For Thought" which features artists who use food as both subject and medium. "The Nature Of Things" focused on ten artists view of the landscape tradition in the face of increasing technology. The Islip does five major shows a year and attracts both the New York art crowd as well as people on the international art scene.

The Parrish Art Museum at 25 Job's Lane in Southampton is a different experience altogether, combining student art competitions and unusual shows. One interesting recent attraction was called "Finders Keepers" The Obsession of Passionate Collectors". The show highlighted the collecting obsession—everything from walking sticks to celluloid Santas. In between student work and the special exhibits, you’ll find landscapes, photography and much more. Hours for the Parrish are Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 5PM. Sunday hours are from 1PM to 5PM. The museum is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

These are only a small sample of what Long Island has to offer. There is a great diversity of new talent, classic work on permanent display and unique exhibitions. If you have a passion for art, Long Island is sure to please. For a good overview of the Long Island art scene, take a look at and you’ll get the latest news on local artists, services for those in the arts, and calls for entries to local competitions and juried shows.

About The Author
Joe Wallace is a writer for the Long Island Exchange publication.
Article may be reproduced as long as link(s) to the originating location, Long Island Exchange, are left in tact.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tropical Resorts In The Caribbean For Romantic Vacations

Are you looking for the best tropical resorts in the Caribbean with a romantic setting? Are you looking for a place to spend your honeymoon or wedding anniversary? Are you looking for that perfect place to spice up your relationship?

Look no further. Listed below are the Caribbean’s top of the range tropical resorts for romantic getaways which will no doubt give the perfect ambiance for a romantic time. It includes only the most luxurious hotels and the ones that offer top notch customer service.

Horned Dorset Primavera ( Puerto Rico )

This is undoubtedly one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious and relaxing places to stay in. In this hacienda set on a hill overlooking the ocean in four acres of land, you are assured that you’ll find some peace and quiet. The main theme in Horned Dorset Primavera is relaxation, so don’t expect blaring city lights. There are no phones, tvs or radios in the rooms either --- it’s all just relaxation at its very best! Some villas/suites in this tropical resort have private pools and children below 12 years old are not allowed.

Anse Chastanet Resort ( Soufrière. St. Lucia )

A hideaway amidst lush tropical jungle means that Anse Chastanet is one of Saint Lucia’s esteemed romantic getaways. If tropical ambiance and scenic views enchant you, this small chic hotel will never disappoint. With all uniquely designed rooms, you can easily have an amazing view of the ocean or the Twin Piton peaks. This tropical resort has been consistently voted in the top 10 romantic hotels by many magazines and institutions. There are no phones, tvs, or radios in the rooms. Various water sport activities are available for the more adventurous.

The House( Barbados )

The House is an intimate specialized romantic tropical hotel where all your needs are attended to by a personal butler, called an ambassador. Literally leave behind all the usual worries that a holiday sometimes brings. The moment you arrive, from checking in to getting settled in your room, your assigned Ambassador takes care of all your needs. If you have any other special requests, they too can easily provide for them. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the tropical surrounding.

The Jamaica Palace Hotel ( Jamaica )

About 6 kilometers from Port Antonio, this tropical getaway on 5 acres of land has a very unique European-Caribbean ambiance. Set next to a tropical forest in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, this romantic retreat offers the best that nature has to offer. And at excellent rates at that!

Parrot Cay Resort & Shambhala Retreat ( Turks & Caicos )

A tropical resort on its own private island, it can’t get more luxurious than this. The resort aims for total rest and relaxation. It not only offers exquisite private beach houses but also spa and body treatments meant to make you unwind as you get away from the hustle and bustle that sometimes defines life.

About The Author
Aimee C. Barnard lives for tropical holidays under the sun. To read more about her travel experiences and island getaway tips, go to

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Let There Be Light in Your Bedroom!

Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and then the light slowly starts returning to the northern hemisphere. But that still means we have many months of the year when our bedrooms get very little or no light in the mornings, when we get up, and are dark long before we go to sleep. If you’re someone who gets blue without enough light in your life, try brightening up your bedroom by making it feel like summer!

Think summer. Light colors, light fabrics. Take down the dark, heavy drapes and let the windows bring in as much light as possible during the day. When evening approaches, pull down the blinds and close the sheer curtains, which will look delightful in the glow of your warm bedroom lighting. Use soft white or pink-tinted bulbs in your lamps, or the full spectrum bulbs that replicate natural sunlight. They can make a huge difference in how you feel!

One way to optimize the light that comes in during the day is to position a large mirror on a wall across from or corner to a window. The mirrors will reflect sunlight and bounce it around the room. Hanging crystals in your windows is another way to bounce light around the room at certain times of day — except this will be like having rainbows all around you!

Make your bedroom feel lighter simply by eliminating or moving around your furniture to have more open space available. Use colors for your bedding that complement the summer scheme, such as celadon, aquamarine, a hint of orange and yellow, or nautical navy blue and white stripes. A floral-pattern or green rug on the floor will evoke summertime thoughts, as will adding some flowering plants, greenery, or vases of flowers. A large tropical plant with palm leaves gives an instant feeling of warmth!

If you have a fireplace in the bedroom, try decorating the mantle with shells or framed photos taken in the summer. A painting or photo above the mantle of the beach, a boat on water, or lush foliage can add to the effect.

Try a few of these suggestions to brighten your bedroom and give you a taste of summertime — even during the dark days of winter!

About The Author
Parvati Markus
Please find the original article and more information about this subject at
When Parvati Markus is not writing helpful and insightful articles like the one you just read from, she works with The Kabbalah Centre and freelances on non-fiction books and articles. As a recent arrival in L.A., Parvati is completing her “residency requirement” by writing a screenplay.
Find great home furniture online at

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Alien landings in the Lake District?

News that the latest space probe has discovered a discarded Kendal Mint Cake wrapper on the surface of Mars, and, what appears to be an alien space-craft seen landing on Skiddaw and discharging small people armed with cameras, confirms once and for all that Cumbria and the Lake District is probably the most popular visitor location in the Universe.

Not only is the spectacular scenery and hospitality a tourist attraction, but an added allure is the sense of mystery, secrecy and maybe a touch of disbelief surrounding many of the region’s venues. A century or so ago, travelers wishing to cross Lake Windermere between Ferry Nab and Sawrey on the opposite shore used the services of a boatman and his small rowing-boat. One particularly stormy night, a voice was heard to call for transport from the wooded slopes of Claiffe Heights on the Sawrey side of the water. The boatman duly set off to collect what he assumed was a passenger, but, disappeared en-route. Later on the following day, the boatman was found laying on the lake shore, incoherent and in deep shock. He died shortly afterwards. Thus was established the legend of the “Crier of Claiffe”.

Moving a few miles south to the village of Natland, near Kendal, the visitor is faced by the sticky problem of unraveling the riddle of the Treacle Mines whose exact location, has, over the centuries, remained a closely guarded secret known only to a few of the village elders.

Sadly, researchers can no longer enlist the assistance of the notable, but long dead Scots born wizard, Michael Scott. Scott is credited with casting a spell on a coven of witches and turning them into the stones which now constitute the circle of “Long Meg” near Penrith. Folklore states that if a visitor can count the number of stones twice, and arrive at the same total each time, then the spell will be broken. However, be warned; any attempt to dislodge the stones will invoke a weather storm of cataclysmic power.

This area is rich in Arthurian Legend. One account recounts the episode where Arthur and his nephew joined forces to outwit the scheming Grim Baron. Their quest, set by the Baron, to search the true answer to the question “what does a woman desire” makes entertaining reading. And, what of the mystery of the Giants Grave found in the churchyard of Penrith’s St. Andrews Church?

Leaving Penrith behind and continuing north to the region’s capital, Carlisle, we find the “Cursing Stone” standing in the entrance of a pedestrian underpass not too far from the ancient castle. This 14 tons of recently sculpted stone bears the 1069 words of a 16thC curse chiseled into the surface. The curse concludes by condemning the marauding Border Reivers of the age to “the deep pit of Hell”. Recently, there have been calls for the stone’s removal from the city by some who believe that its presence brings ill-fortune.

On a lighter note, a visit to the beautiful but uncompromising stretch of Wastwater may reveal the position of the underwater gnome garden. This is an area where, with a little imagination, the inspiring setting will transport you on any journey of your choice to a world of magic and mystery.

These are but a few of the many tales, fanciful or otherwise, which have enchanted generations over the centuries. There is nothing to compare (in my opinion) to a good yarn told over a drink in a log-fired pub amongst friends, old and new.

Incidentally, did I really see a 3 legged dog, wearing a life-jacket on the shores of Lake Windermere one morning, and was it wearing a space-helmet?

About The Author
Peter Scott was born and bred in The English Lake District.
After a successful career as an aircraft engineer, Peter and his son, David, run a website promoting all aspects of The Lake District with their new website:

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Traveling in Asia is Affordable

The sight of new and different items on display and the excitement of open air markets and colorful shops makes shopping in Asia a unique and fun experience. Not only will you see goods that are different and hard to come by in the west, but you'll find prices much different than those you're accustomed to, and different from prices seen when traveling to other regions, like Europe.

In China, clothing costs about four or five times less than in European countries. However, the sizing system is much different than in the U.S. A woman who wears a size medium in the United States will find herself browsing the extra large section of the department store. It is wise to try everything on to make sure it fits before buying, and carefully consider the size of any clothing item you plan to purchase as a gift for someone else.

In India clothing can be had for about half the price that it would cost in European stores, if you know where to shop. For example, on Mumbai's Fashion Street, surplus from the city's clothing factories can scooped up at bargain prices. It is best to purchase clothing made by famous European designers in Europe. Taxes and duties on imported goods in Asian countries tend to drive the prices up. An exception is Hong Kong, where goods are not taxed and the prices are often comparable to the European prices.

Naturally, Asian goods of all kinds are considerably cheaper in Asian countries than in Europe. For example, Chinese chops, which are name stamps usually used with red ink, can be found in many shops catering to tourists for about $5.

The purchaser's name is normally carved into the chop at the store. The same item would cost around $40 outside of China.

Beautiful and unique jewelry can be purchased in Asia for bargain prices. Because of India's strong diamond industry, diamond rings and earrings can be bought for less than half of what they would cost in Europe. For pearls, you would pay about five times more in Europe than in China for a strand of similar size and quality.

A massage in China will run about $10, where a similar massage in Europe will cost roughly $80. The Chinese have practiced massage techniques for thousands of years, and a genuine Chinese massage is extremely relaxing. Foot rubs are popular as well, especially for travelers who have spent long hours on their feet visiting temples and climbing several stories of stairs in pagodas.

A tailor made silk shirt in Hong Kong costs around $100. Beautiful silk fabric is available in Vietnam for around $3-$9 a yard, depending on the quality. Good quality silk fabric in China costs about $4.00 a yard. The fabric tends to be narrower than the standard 45 or 60 inch widths, so make sure to ask how wide it is before purchasing. The method of producing silk from the cocoons of silkworms was originally developed by the Chinese and remained a secret for hundreds of years. Eventually the technique became known and spread across Asia and Europe, but to this day China remains the leader in producing silk.

Remember that the prices listed above are guidelines. Prices will vary from shop to shop - expect to pay more at the store in the hotel lobby than the one tucked away on a side street. Also, in most Asian countries it is customary to bargain over prices and your skill at bargaining will determine the price you ultimately pay for your purchases.

About The Author
John Riggin is Executive Editor for the largest and most comprehensive US to Asia travel website. Where you'll discover the best deals on flights, tours, hotels, cruises and more.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

10 Tips For A Super European Vacation

Europe has always been a popular travel destination. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip, there are several important things to keep in mind before calling your travel agent and booking your next vacation:

1. Time of year: While "Paris in the Springtime" sounds very romantic, the truth is that you're liable to spend many days indoors, because the weather can be cold and rainy. On the other hand, the French Riviera in the springtime boasts warm temperatures, sunshine and beautiful places to visit. If you're not sure of weather patterns, check with your travel agent who can advise you on rainy seasons or other weather-related issues for traveling to a specific spot.

2. Your Budget: Decide how much you've got to spend, and don't forget to include extras like tourist attractions, getting around, souvenirs and meals (which are typically more expensive in Europe than in the states -- dinner can cost upwards of 50 Euros per person, especially in metropolitan cities). If your budget is smaller, consider visiting Eastern Europe, looking for packaged tours, or, if you're flexible, book a "last-minute" trip, which can often save you 30% or more. Check out the current exchange rate between your currency and that of the country you'll be visiting, to have a better idea of what your vacation is going to actually cost you. Whenever possible, travel during an off-peak season to save even more.

3. Your secret dreams or "someday" wishes: For most of us, taking a vacation is something we get to do only once a year, and often plan and save the whole year for. So if you have always wanted to visit somewhere or do something special -- why wait? Include it in your next vacation plans.

4. Political Climate: While most countries that rely on tourism make every effort to ensure the safety of tourists, these days it's always a good idea to keep up on the current political climate of the country you're planning to visit, especially if there have been problems in the past.

5. Your own "internal clock": If you prefer sleeping in in the mornings, and "doing your own thing" then a guided tour is probably not for you. Most guided tours start early in the morning, and you're on the go until evening. You may visit several cities in a country or countries within a specified amount of time, and you're required to stay with the group.

On the other hand, if you don't like traveling alone, you enjoy the companionship of others and getting to see as much as possible in the time you've got, a guided tour or cruise may be just the thing for you.

6. How you like to spend your time: Take a little time to think about what you like doing before planning your trip. Do you prefer the water, or the mountains? Lying on the beach, or rock-climbing? Adrenaline rushes or visiting an art museum?

While going outside your comfort zone and trying new things can be a great experience, spending your time doing something that bores you silly or makes you uncomfortable and unhappy just doesn't make sense. Once you know what you want to do, figure out what you'll have time to do. Many times, in an effort to get the "most bang for our buck" we tend to over plan the vacation, and end up needing a vacation from the vacation when we get home! Prioritize your list, and be willing to save some activities or attractions for another trip.

7. Use the resources that are available to make your trip special and save money:

Today's travelers have numerous options when planning their vacation. You can use the Internet to find out more about the cities or countries you want to visit, check out prices, even book your flight or hotel room. If you're visiting a place for the first time, check with a travel agent, talk to someone who's "been there, done that" on an Internet Forum, or contact local chambers or commerce or travel councils to get more information about where to go, what to see and what to do.

8. Get organized: You can use trip-planning software, or your own favorite organizing system to organize and plan your trip. Don't forget things like making sure your passport and picture ID are up-to-date, finding out if travel insurance is something you need, and how and where to exchange your money. The more organized you are in the beginning, the better vacation you'll have.

9. Pack lightly: Most of us take too much on a vacation, and end up lugging heavy suitcases and other bags along filled with items that we either don't use or don't need. When planning your trip, look at your wardrobe and pack as lightly as you can. Take only what you'll really need, and remember that if you forget or end up needing something, chances are you can get it once you reach your destination.

10. Have fun! Get organized, make your plans and expect the best. That way, once you're on your way, you'll be able to relax and enjoy yourself. But remember, there are very few "perfect" vacations, so if something does go wrong, try to relax and "go with the flow" as much as possible. Experienced travelers say that sometimes their best vacations have been the ones where the unexpected happened.

Final note: One of the most visited european spots is Venice. Here are a few tips to entice you to visit this charming city, before it sinks!

No, I don't mean that the casual tourist is in danger of seeing Venice sink into the lagoon or anything. Well, not today anyway. What I meant was that some folks with great talent aren't satisfied with simply pushing a tiny button on top of a digital camera enough times to eventually come up with a Venice Photo Essay. No, they take out the old sketchbook and apply a bunch of talented scribbles that eventually turn their bits of white paper into something that people want to pay good money for. I'm talking sketchers and painters, devotees of the ancient, fussy, and time consuming way to produce fine images.

Marion Boddy-Evans of About's Painting site is one such talented person. Her Pages from a Venice Scrapbook is an evocative peek at essential Venice--so good it's bound to make you wish you had paid attention in art class instead of stuffing all those spitballs down your milk straw and taking aim at the weird guy in the corner when the teacher wasn't looking. Shame on you.

Marion also has a photo feature on Artists in Venice. Just like the guy in the upper left, except he's painting in Lucca. Find out more of Venice Photo Essay by going to:

Copyright 2005 MHG Consulting

About The Author
Dan Farrell is the owner of which highlights travel saving tips and the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas. He also offers a free newsletter, "Travel Tips You Never Thought Of".

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

20 Safety Tips for Budget Travelers

1) When taking taxis from an airport to your hotel, travel in the more expensive airport taxis and ensure that the drivers have official identification. Never take a taxi waiting outside the airport grounds.

I know this sounds extreme, but it is by far better to be safe then sorry.

2) When traveling from your hotel to the airport, go with a taxi recommended by the hotel.

Again, taxi’s can be very dangerous. I can’t express that enough.

3) Try not to arrive in a new city or town late at night.

This can just go wrong in a number of ways. It is much easier getting checked in during the day time and security at night in certain areas is just horrendous.

4) Travel in a group if possible.

Since when is traveling in numbers not a good idea?

5) Learn the basics in the local language before you arrive. Don't expect that people will speak English.

English is becoming more widely spoken these days, but you want to be sure. You should always check on these things before your arrival.

6) Keep your valuables hidden.

A money belt is great if it is an option that you willing to look into. There are many different styles of money belt. One of the most popular is an “over the shoulder” style wallet on a strap that you were underneath your top. This makes it very difficult for a thief to make off with your valuables.

7) Avoid going on your own to remote areas/ruins where tourist would be expected to go. Seek local advice or take a guide.

8) Read the guide books and talk with other tourists to find out which areas are best avoided.

9) When leaving discos late at night take a taxi home no matter how close your hostel is. Outside most discos you'll find a street vendor selling cigarettes. Usually these people know all the taxi drivers and can recommend a safe one.

10) When arriving in a new town, keep to your original plan and stay in the hostel that you have decided on. Don't let the taxi driver persuade you that your hostel is fully booked and that he knows a cheaper and better one. He'll be working on commission and the hostel probably won't be in a safe part of town.

11) Even better, when arriving lane/train in a new city, try to reserve your hotel in advance, preferably with a hotel that has an airport/station collection service.

12) Don't wear expensive looking jewelry.

13) On public transport have your day pack close to you at all times, preferably with the straps around your legs or padlocked to the luggage rack. On buses your backpack will normally go outside, either on top of the roof or in the external luggage compartments. On long distance buses ask for a receipt for your bags. On short rides just keep a careful eye out each time the bus stops to off-load bags. In the event of having your bags stolen, stay with the bus - you will probably require a declaration from the bus company accepting responsibility for the loss in order to claim any money from your insurance company.

14) Leave your valuables in your hotel safe when making day trips or longer tours. Obtain a receipt not just for your money belt/wallet etc. but for its contents, with each item listed.

15) If you have to leave your passport and credits cards together, place the credit card in a sealed envelope and sign your name across the flap. This way when you return you will know that nothing has been tampered with.

16) If planning on going to market areas, crowded streets, fiestas etc. don't go with all your valuables. Leave them in the hotel. If you’re planning on buying something expensive keep your money safely in a money belt. Try to be discreet when opening it! To protect small change in your pockets you can stuff a handkerchief in after.

17) If the pavements are really crowded, especially in market areas, walk in the road.

18) If you suspect someone is following you, stop and stare them in the eye until they go. If you really get a bad feeling about a place, go with your first instincts and leave. Bag slashing is rare nowadays but for added safety you can wear your day pack on your chest.

19) If it's on your back try to walk without stopping. If you need to stop, sway your pack gently from side to side so that you can feel if anyone is tampering with it.

20) When putting your bag down on the floor, to take a photo or just to sit in a café, remember to put your foot through the strap. Not only will it be impossible to snatch, you also won't forget it! This is the most common type of theft - tourists forgetting bags in cafes and on returning to ask if anyone has seen it, you've guessed it, it's gone.

About The Author
Eric Odom is an avid backpacker who runs student travel websites for a living. His latest site can be found at

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Hong Kong Hotels - The Best Places To Stay During The Chinese New Year's Celebration

The New Year's celebration is Hong Kong's biggest event of the year. The three-day extravaganza includes a colorful parade on the first day, a brilliant display of fireworks over Victoria Harbour on the second day and horse races on the third. To best take advantage of all Hong Kong has to offer during this celebration, travelers should stay near the action. Fortunately, Hong Kong has long been a popular destination for both business and pleasure travelers and fantastic hotels are abundant in the area.

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is a five star hotel located close to the New Year's parade route. Rooms feature spectacular views of Victoria Peak, the city or, for a higher price, the harbor. The décor is elegant and traditional. However, the Ritz-Carlton's greatest strength is its amazing level of service. The numerous helpful staff members work hard to make guests feel pampered and appreciated. Tasty complimentary cookies are always available in the reception area, a favorite perk for guests.

Another five star hotel situated near the parade route is the Island Shangri-La Hotel, located at the Pacific Place development in the Central District of Hong Kong. The location is one of the best in Hong Kong with plenty to see and do nearby. Shoppers will appreciate the large shopping mall also housed in Pacific Place. The hotel boasts many leisure facilities, including a health club and swimming pool, and there are a variety of bars and restaurants featuring different types of cuisine. The rooms are lavishly appointed and command views of the peak or the harbor, perfect for watching the fireworks display.

Also located at Pacific Place is the classy Conrad Hong Kong, another five star hotel. Rooms are decorated with an elegant, modern flair, but touches like the teddy bear by the bed and rubber duckie in the bath are fun and homey. Each year the Conrad's distinctive lobby is beautifully decorated for the New Year's celebration. The hotel also boasts several excellent eateries as well leisure facilities. The Conrad Hong Kong is conveniently located near the subway system, which provides easy access to all of Hong Kong.

While the luxury hotels in Hong Kong are extraordinary, there are also many wonderful, less expensive hotels in the area. Across the harbor in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui area are many hotels, several with beautiful views of Hong Kong Island as well as the harbor. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and nightlife in Tsim Sha Tsui and the Island can be easily accessed by subway or by taking a picturesque ferry ride across the harbor.

Two moderately priced hotels to try in this area are the Hyatt Regency and the Holiday Inn. The Hyatt Regency Hong Kong is in a great location in Tsim Sha Tsui, close to shopping and a subway station. Many travelers find good sale prices for the Hyatt's rooms. The Holiday Inn Golden Mile is a typical Holiday Inn, with a fitness center and a nice pool. This hotel is also near the subway and it's an easy walk to the ferry.

Planning a trip to Hong Kong can feel a bit overwhelming -- there is so much to see and do, and it's virtually impossible to include every activity. From the worlds largest night parade and top Hong Kong attractions to great dining and exciting nightlife, you're sure to enjoy the Pearl of the Orient! Choosing the right Hong Kong hotel will make your journey more enjoyable for all the must-see and must-do experiences, during Hong Kong's biggest event of the year.

About The Author
John Riggin is Executive Editor for, the largest and most comprehensive US to Asia travel website. Where you'll discover the best deals on flights, tours, hotels, cruises and more to welcome in the Chinese New Year.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kiev apartments or Kiev hotels?

Are you planning a trip to Kiev, Ukraine? If so, you may be wondering whether it is better to stay in a Kiev hotel or rent an apartment in Kiev. The purpose of this brief article is to list here some of the factors that will hopefully help you take the decision right for you.

Staying in Kiev hotels

Kiev hotels vary in quality and prices. Daily rates for some of them start from around USD50 per night, but usually hotels within this price category are located outside Kiev downtown and have pretty Soviet-like style. The average hotel rooms cost about USD100 per night and provide major amenities that you may need while in Kiev - room with a bathroom and hot water, telephone line, satellite or cable TV. More expensive hotels can provide high speed Internet and other nice amenities like hotel gym or nice swimming pool. Charge for some Kiev hotels includes breakfasts that may be pretty convenient way to start your day. The daily rates for some of the most expensive Kiev hotels are around USD500 per night.

Advantage of staying in a Kiev hotel is the ability to check-out any day you wish or extend your stay for as long as you want. Also, every-day cleaning, room service, some in-house restaurants, cafés, gyms, swimming pools can be a nice thing to have around. Disadvantages include relatively high price for a small space you are getting, and low privacy.

Staying in Kiev apartments

Renting an apartment in Kiev is becoming increasingly popular among foreign guests to Kiev. Kiev apartments provide a lot of space (one-bedroom, two-bedroom or even three-bedroom apartments), excellent western-standard renovation, variety of amenities. All of Kiev apartments have telephone lines, cable TV, fridge, oven, kitchen with everything you may need to avoid expensive Kiev restaurants. Many apartments have satellite TV with numerous international channels, air-conditioning, CD-players, DVD-players. Some apartments have high-speed Internet or Jacuzzi.

Prices for Kiev apartments vary depending on the amenities and the exact location of any specific apartment. In particular, apartments in the very center of Kiev near Khreshatik St. and Independence Square are much more expensive than those further from Khreshatik or in other areas of Kiev. Accordingly, rates for the apartments vary considerably depending on those factors. The least expensive one-room apartments outside Kiev center can be available at the rates starting around USD30 per night, the most expensive luxury apartments can cost up to USD300 per night. The average rates are around USD60 for a studio, USD80-100 for a one-bedroom apartment, USD120-130 for a two-bedroom apartment. The above rates tend to change and may be different at the time you are reading this article.

There are no two Kiev apartments alike. It is not a hotel where you book one of the rooms which are all nearly the same. All of Kiev apartments are unique. Though, it is obviously an asset of apartments, it has also some downsides. In particular, it may be hard (if not impossible at all) to change the dates of your stay. For example, if you want to extend your stay in the apartment for a few days more, the apartment may already be booked by someone else. On the other hand, if you want to leave the apartment earlier, you will be required to cover for the whole period of your booking anyway, since the apartment was kept for you, and all other clients interested in the same dates were refused. The above disadvantages can be easily eliminated by more careful and thorough planning of the exact dates of stay.

The same uniqueness of the apartments causes another inconvenience. Landlords of good apartments are reluctant to commit to bookings shorter than five nights. If someone agrees to book an apartment for a shorter period, it often means that they will accommodate you in any apartment available at the date of your arrival. One-three night stays are not attractive for apartment landlords and agencies at all, so they will hardly be able to book anything specific. Exception is the situation when there is a few day opening between other bookings that fits the dates you are interested in. Four-night stays are somewhere on the edge. The agencies may book a specific apartment, but there is always a chance that its landlord will let the agency down and do not keep the apartment for such a short period.

In order to book a Kiev apartment, you will be required to provide a booking deposit in the amount equal to a one-night stay or a higher amount depending on each particular apartment and the length of your stay.

Availability of specific apartments is changing very fast, and some agencies have availability calendar with bookings a few months in advance. So, it is always good idea to book an apartment well in advance, at least three or four weeks before your trip.

Those are basically the major things to keep in mind when choosing between a stay in Kiev apartments or Kiev hotels. Regardless of what kind of accommodation you choose, you will enjoy your stay in this beautiful European city with so many things to offer to its visitors.

About The Author
Yevgen Tel is the manager of Apartment Rentals Kiev - one of the oldest and most reputable apartment rental services in Kiev. The company has been providing decent apartments in Kiev for rent since 1998 and has thousands of satisfied customers worldwide. For more information on Kiev apartments you may visit one of on-line projects of the company - Kiev Apartment.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Finding Fun Ways to Travel With Children

Tips for Traveling with Children

A lot of people believe that travel is an essential part of any child's education, and quite rightly so. But how often have you heard the parents complain about how cumbersome their kids have been to them when they have taken them out. It is not that parents don't want to travel with their children but on the contrary parents love to be in the company of their children. It is just that children do give them trouble and try their patience while traveling. But here we can try to solve some of your problem with these tips to make traveling with kids an enjoyable and fun experience.

A good way is to involve the kids in planning the vacation. Ask them for inputs allow them to pick out places that they would like to visit. Give them complete details about the place that they are going to visit and what all will they see. This way you will find that your children are more cooperative even in visiting places like the museum.

Another cool trick to get kids more helpful around you in the house is to give them money to do the chores. You can tell them they can save this money to spend on the trip. You will be amazed at how energetically your kids do the chores. This also makes them look forward to the trip with more interest.

Another way that you can prepare your children for your upcoming vacation is to buy them one or two books so that they can read up on the location where you're traveling to. The more that they know about the area where you'll be visiting the more they can plan what they want to do on the vacation.

In case you are going to a foreign place with a foreign language you can start to teach your children the language. It is not only educational but also gets them very excited and interested. Start with simple greetings such as "thank you" and "good morning" etc.

Also allow your children to do their own packing for the trip. Maybe even buy them new backpacks for the occasion in which they can pack what they want. Let them decide what they want to take on the trip and what not. See that they also packs things to keep them entertained on the trip and on route such as books, music, paper and pens, and travel games.

You can also get the kids more involved by asking them to document their trip with photos and other memorabilia. Younger children can do so by means of either a photo album. While the older ones who can write can make use of a travel journal with photos.

You can even take it a step further by buying your kids a cheap but functional camera. This will give them the freedom to click photos of whatever they like on the trip. Make sure you don't end up dominating their choice give them freedom of choice and let them select their own memories.

When you're booking your vacation make sure that you book your rooms in hotels that accommodate families with children. If you can arrange to stay in places where there is a pool it will be an added bonus. A pool is a great way for you and your children to unwind at the end of long day of traveling and sightseeing.

Traveling with children doesn't need to be an unpleasant experience. It can be quite easy to travel with kids as long as you take a little time to make some extra preparations. If you think about the details in advance you are sure to have the trip of a lifetime.

About The Author
Chloe Bilboa is the chief writer for, and editor of Yes To Travel!, there's a wealth of knowledge on the website, plus their free newsletter is well worth signing up for too. Want to read more Travel articles?, just go to:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Overwintering the Garden Pond

It seems that there are always questions in the fall about winterizing plastic ponds. To begin with, clean out all the gunk (composed of fish and plant waste) at the bottom of the pond. Specialist garden catalogues have a little gizmo that attaches to a hose and when the hose is run, the gizmo acts like a vacuum cleaner, sucking debris from the bottom of the pond. Or you can put your pump on the pond bottom and point the discharge into the garden. If you don’t remove the plant debris, it will continue to decompose. Decomposition uses oxygen as one of its primary fuels and this means that oxygen will be taken from the water to fuel plant decomposition. If there is an ice-layer over the pond, and there will be shortly, the water will not be able to replace that oxygen and the pond will go into an anaerobic (without oxygen) state under the ice.

Now, you’ve never quite smelled something until you’ve taken a whiff of a pond that’s in that state. It is basically your very own backyard sewage system. Aside from getting rid of the smell, the reason you remove the bottom layers of material is so any fish you’re leaving in the pond will have enough oxygen to survive the winter. And survive they will as long as you stop feeding them when the water temperature is less than 50F. At that temperature, it is really too cold for them to feed and any food will simply rot. The fish will survive as long as the water doesn’t freeze solidly to the bottom of the pond. If the pond is three to four feet deep, it will not freeze and your fish will be fine. Shallower ponds will either have to have a bubbler, a pump left running to keep an open area open or the fish removed to an aquarium for the winter. But start with removing the gunk.

About The Author
Copyright Doug Green, an award winning garden author who answers pond questions in his free newsletter at

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Travel Gift Ideas - Christmas Presents

Looking for travel gift ideas? Here are a few that make great Christmas presents or just good old travel gifts.

Travel Gift Ideas

Whether for work or fun, people that travel a lot are easy to buy for. There are simply a ton of gadgets and travel accessories that can satisfy your need for travel gift ideas.

1. Dreamsacks - Okay, here’s a nasty little secret about traveling. Hotels don’t always wash sheets and definitely don’t wash comforters. Yes, it creeps me out to think about it as well. Dreamsacks are designed to keep the creepy crawly bacteria, funguses and bugs off of you. Dreamsacks are essentially sleeping bags made from sheets, to wit, they are thin. Most even come with a built in pillow because if the sheets are sketchy, one doesn’t really want to even contemplate the pillows. Dreamsacks will set you back between $40 and $60.

2. Relief Bands - Relief bands are the latest, greatest way to stop motion sickness. If you’ve ever flown on Air Turbulence Airlines, you’ll know the immediate benefit of these bands. Worn like a watch, relief bands send a small electronic shock into the bottom of your wrist which counters the nausea impulse to your brain. No, it doesn’t hurt and it is a lot better than getting intimate with those popcorn bags in airline seat backs. Expect to pay between $60 and a couple hundred bucks depending on how fashionable you want to look while bouncing around in your seat. Good for boats and cars as well.

3. Japanese Paper Soap - Perhaps one of the greatest travel accessories ever made. For any traveler, bars of soap are a disaster. They never stay in their cases or wrapping resulting in soap suds and gunk everywhere. Japanese paper soap solves this problem nicely. The paper is, well, paper, but has built in soap. You simply get your hands wet and rub a piece of the paper between them. Instant suds! When done, toss the paper out. Pretty cool, eh? This incredible invention will set you back a whopping $10 for 50 sheets. Heck, I use them at home.

4. Nomad Travel Journals - A little self-promotion here. Nomad Travel Journals are compact writing journals that let travelers keep notes about their trips. Really great for creating a record of who was on the trip, things seen, people met, contact information such as email address, phone numbers and so on. As the years pass, you can read back through your travel journal to relive trips and laugh yourself silly over funny events you might otherwise forget. A tremendous gift for student travelers and backpackers. You can click the link at the bottom of this article to see the travel journals which cost $25 with case.

Shopping for the holidays can be stressful. If you’re buying for a traveler, any of the above gifts will be a hit.

About The Author
Rick Chapo is with - makers of writing journals. Travel journals are great travel accessories and travel gifts for student travel, family vacations and adventure travel. Visit for more travel articles, travelogues and travel stories.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Paphos, Cyprus - Top 5 Places To Visit On Your Winter Holidays

1. Tomb of The Kings

Spread over a vast area, these impressive subterranean burial chambers were built in Paphos from 3rd Century BC to the 3rd Century AD. They are carved out of solid rock with some being decorated with Doric pillars. Put on your walking shoes and climbing pants and don't be afraid to get yourself a little dirty at this site. Fun to explore and full of some very atmospheric places.

2. Paphos Mosaics

Cyprus history proclaims Aion as the Greek God of eternity. The house of Aion has an amazing five-paneled mosaic which shows the Greek God in the unenviable position of having to judge what appears to be a beauty contest.

'Unenviable?!', I hear our modern day Gods proclaim.

The difference in this beauty contest is that his choice lies between the ordinary and smug looking Queen Cassiopeia and a number of much prettier, but unhappy looking Nereides water nymphs.

I'm sure that all of you will be able to guess who the eventual winner is!!

3. Aphrodites Rock

The most awe inspiring piece of coastline to be seen in Cyprus, when the sun is out, and I defy any couple, regardless of how young or old, to not be bewitched by it's spell. Of all ancient Greek myths, the story of Aphrodite's creation will bring water to your eyes, but the story lives on as one of the well known legends surrounding this stunning rock formation.

Cronos was begged by his mother Gaia to be released from the embraces of her husband Uranus. In order to assist his mother in her plight, Cronos castrated his father with a sickle and threw his genitals into the sea. The foam gathered around them and the Goddess rose from the sea as a fully grown woman.

4. St George Fishing Harbour

I recommend that you visit this memorable place in Paphos with someone very special to you and a camera. Arrive late afternoon and watch the fishing boats come in with their daily catch. Have a drink or two at the beach side bar but don't stay too long before securing yourself a spot on the harbour wall. Take along the camera or video and make sure you have plenty of film as this is one of those special places to catch the most romantic of sunsets in Cyprus. Enjoy!

5. Sterna Winery

Located on the outskirts of the village of Kathiskas, 15 mins drive from Paphos. Be entertained by the charismatic Cypriot owner who will treat you to free wine tasting and a tour of this very small winery. Do not miss out on their own peach schnapps - powerful enough to blow your head off and must be thrown back in one go. If you make a purchase of their very fine wines you will probably find that a complimentary bottle of schnapps is thrown in. Not recommended to light the Xmas pud with!

About The Author

Lynda Burke owns and operates the website and now lives and works in Paphos, Cyprus. For more information about Paphos visit the website on

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

5 Tips To Help You Pack Wisely For Your Family Vacation

Going on a vacation? Planning for that vacation is part of the fun. Packing for that vacation is the part of the planning stage that I love.

Ok, I was once a girl guide. The motto, Be Prepared still sticks with me. To be prepared for anything. On vacation, I often pull out from my bag all sorts of things when necessary. I used to carry a swiss knife with me as it is so handy, until I got sick of setting of alarms at airports and having to submit to body checks, just because of that swiss knife in my bag.

#1 Roll your clothes

Your luggage can only pack in so many things. How are you going to pack your clothes, your kids clothes and your other travel essentials into that one bag? How do you get your clothes in without too many ugly wrinkles. Fold each item lengthwise, then roll it tightly. Pack in the large items first, then stick the smaller rolls into the empty spaces. Pack in the sock (also rolled into little balls) last as these can fit into the smallest spaces in your luggage. Oh, and stick to fabrics that don't wrinkle easily. Cotton polyester mix is great for a warm vacation while wool is great for a cold vacation.

#2 Bring along some detergent

Your kids are going to run, play, sweat, get dirty over and over again during the vacation. At least that's what mine do anyway. Every family vacation calls for a bag of detergent. When I can find detergent bars, I'll bring those along, packing them in only when dry, to avoid messing up my luggage. When I can't find detergent bars, detergent powder would have to do. Either way, every night after we get back to the hotel, if we are going to stay in that same hotel for more than 1 night in a row, I'd wash everyone's clothes and dry them before I go to sleep. That way, we do not run out of clean clothes halfway through the vacation. After washing the clothes, I'd wring them as dry as possible and hang them up to dry. To make them dry faster, I'd drape them over the lamp shades and leave the lamps on when we go out. The heat from the lamps would dry the clothes faster than normal. Be careful you don't burn the clothes though. Keep the clothes off the bulbs.

#3 Bring a tiny light

What I find handy is a tiny little torchlight. I use that to find my child's lost toy in the dark. On holiday, that mini torch is very useful at night. I even carry one in my purse when I go to the movies. We lost the car keys before and I used the mini torch to help me find them again. When it is dark, light the way with your torch. When the children are bored, you can entertain them with your mini light and fan. Blow a paper toy you fold with the fan. Tell stories with shadows cast by that light at night. This mini fan and light is perfect for a vacation. Especially if you are going somewhere warm. You can get it at

#4 Bring non spillables where possible

Ever opened your luggage only to find that your lotion bottle exploded? Happened to me a couple of times. Everything in the suitcase is all messed up. A rotten way to start a vacation if you ask me. Instead, use single dose skin care, bring along solid lotion from for your body and bar soap to bathe with. A nourishing bar of goats milk soap from would be excellent for bathing with. It might even be used for washing your face if you have normal or dry skin. If you can find a shampoo bar that would be great. At least these wouldn't mess up your bag. Dry them before you pack them into their containers or plastic bag and then put them in your luggage.

#5 Bring your camera.
You would want to capture the happy moments on your vacation. If you are going to the beach, bring along a water proof camera from . If you can, bring along a camcorder so you can capture your vacation in motion and even turn that into a home movie. Right now, while I'm writing this article, this digital camcorder at is going for US $139.85 which is unbelievably affordable.. while stocks last as usual.

About The Author
Janice Wee
You can find the vacation packing tips and vacation essentials at You can find more cool stuff for women at

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Friday, May 11, 2007

14 Tips for a Stress Free Flight

Traveling can be a stressful event and airplane travel is tops on the list of the stressors that we experience on what is supposed to be an exciting and fun event. A few simple steps can remove most of the stress of air travel.

Things to do before travel day:

1) Pack your bags. Make sure all your packing is done at least the night before and that you have all your bags in one central location for easy and complete loading into your car or taxi.

2) Have all your travel paperwork organized and in one central location.

3) Make a checklist of all the things you want to check to secure your home before you leave and walk through your home checking off each item. Do this at least an hour before you leave your house. Do this and you will never worry if you left your stove on or any of the other little nagging worries you might have while on your travel.

4) Be sure your pets are taken care of. Make any kennel reservations well in advance of your trip to be sure you have a reserved spot at a kennel you trust.

5) Call the AIRPORT and airline the day before to see how early the recommend you should arrive for a smooth, stress free check in. If they tell you to arrive three hours early and you arrive just 30 minutes early, you will probably feel great stresses about missing your flight. Also ask if there are any parking restrictions you should be aware of. Ever since 9/11, when we have a heightened threat level there may be car searches before you can park.

6) If you are just taking carry on luggage, many airlines let you pre check in right on the internet 24 hours before your flight. That means that you can get and print out boarding passes right from your home. And when you get to the airport, you can go right to the gate and your boarding area without getting into the long check in line. If you have to check baggage, you will not have this option available to you. But if not, it is a great time and stress saver.

Travel day:

7) Leave home in plenty of time to anticipate busy traffic or accident situations. If it is an hour trip to get to the airport, you may want to leave an extra half hour early just in case there are road problems.

8) If you are checking in bags, be prepared to wait in line. If it is a busy time of day at the airport and you are traveling with a popular airline, there could be a significant line. Don't worry about how long the line is. As long as you arrive when the airport recommended, you will have plenty of time to make it to the front of the line and get checked in. It may look impossible but it will happen so just relax and be patient.

9) Make sure that any “carry on” baggage really is carry on. Otherwise you may get stopped at the gate and have your bag taken away to be stowed with the regular luggage. It will delay and stress you. And it will delay everyone else.

10) When boarding the plane, find your seat and stow your carry on baggage quickly. And then sit down and stay out of the way. There are lots of people trying to do the same thing and we've all encountered the folks who block the aisle for a long time fussing about something or other while a harried line of boarders is forced to wait. You don't want to be one of those people. So just get your business done quickly and efficiently and sit down. You'll have plenty of time to get up once the plane is in the air.

11) If you have to change planes, it can be a real challenge, especially in the larger airports. If you know the gate you will have to go to, ask the flight attendant for advice to reach that gate quickly. In some airports - like Atlanta - a Delta connection can be a huge adventure taking 30 minutes to get from one gate to another. If you know in advance how you have to get to your next airplane, it will be much less chaotic when you get off the first plane. And a much more relaxing walk (or run) to your next gate.

12) When the plane lands, patiently wait your turn. Whether you push or just wait, you usually won't get off the plane any quicker. People tend to let the folks in the rows before them get up and go in a pretty orderly fashion. Trying to rush it will only get your blood pressure up and will not be looked upon favorably by your fellow travelers.

13) If you just have carry on baggage, you have successfully completed a pretty stress free flight.

14) But if you have carry on luggage, there is one more step - waiting for the luggage. Just pick a place around the conveyor belt and wait. Expect your bag to be the very last one to come out and be pleasantly surprised when it comes out early.

By following these simple steps, you will find that your stress levels from your air travels will be much less. A well planned trip agenda ensures that those little stress points stay little stress points and don't balloon into a full blown crisis. Try it any you will be amazed how just a small amount of up front planning dramatically improves the enjoyment of your travel.

About The Author
Steven Chabotte
Instant Hotel and Motel Reservations. At My City Travel Guide (, you can get detailed information on over 50,000 hotels around the world and do instant price checks and make your reservations quickly and securely.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mini-Guide to Honolulu, Hawaii

Situated on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii. And Hawaii, for those of you who don't know, is America's answer to a daily paradise. Once you've visited breathtaking Waikiki Beach, you may decide you never want to leave. The good news for you is that there's plenty for you to do during your stay.

For those of you who want to experience the beauty of the island firsthand, you can snorkel, windsurf, or just bounce on a water trampoline at famous Diamond Head. If that's not enough to entice you into the water, join one of the daily dolphin excursions, where you don a snorkel, jump right in, and actually swim with the dolphins. For the truly adventurous, climb into one of the steel shark cages, and get eye-to-eye with the ocean's most famous predator through the Hawaii Shark Encounters.

Or, if you just detest getting wet, allow the Atlantis Submarine to take you 100 feet below the surface to view sea life and sunken vessels on the ocean floor.

For the historians, one of Honolulu's most famous sites is Pearl Harbor, and you can ride an authentic WWII "Duck" right up to the Arizona Memorial. Experience the culture of Honolulu through visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center. 42 acres of tropical splendor will give way to authentic war dances and wedding ceremonies, tiki carvings, fire knives, and after sunset, firewalkers and a full-blown genuine luau.

The Magic of Polynesia will entertain you with magic, dance, and music, and the Society of Seven will give you one of the best acts this side of Las Vegas. But to fully experience the entertainment of Honolulu, one must see the one, the only Don Ho Show.


About The Author
Presented by, the free road trip planning site. Swing by to find great attractions along your route. You can enter the start and end points of your road trip and will find attractions along the way that match your interests.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Piraeus - The Port Of Ancient Athens

Piraeus, also known as Peiraeus or Pireas, is a city located in the prefecture of Attica, towards the southern side of Athens. This city's main attraction is based on the fact that in ancient Greece, it was used as Athens' main port, and therefore it played a very important role in the city's life.

Besides than being the port of ancient Athens, Piraeus has been also named port of modern Athens since 1834. This way, nowadays this port can be seen in action, and although it does not look just like it used in ancient Greece, it still shows some of such antique characteristics which turn it into a very interesting and peculiar place to meet.

The name of this area, Piraeus, means "the place over the passage", a meaning which is very significant to its past history. In its origins as a populated area, Piraeus was a small island which was connected to the land by a narrow stretch of land. Although at first the area received other denominations, this geographical characteristic finally inspired the actual name.

Although its main port is the most famous one, Piraeus also has two other smaller harbors which have also helped turning this spot into a very active one. The benefits of this spot and its harbor was not noticed until the decade of 490 BC when Themistocles constructed a fortification by this spot with the purpose of being able t easily use the ports and protect the citizens of Athens from Persians’ attacks.

Piraeus has a population of about 175.000 people, with a density of 15.972 inhabitants per km2. IT is one of the few municipal authorities located within the metropolitan area of Athens. Besides Pireus, this metropolitan area has other municipal authorities among which we can name Keratsini, Korydalos, Drapetsona, Nikaia, Perama, and Rentis.

Piraeus has been home town of several important people, such as per example the Andrianoloulos brothers, who founded the Olympiacos sporting club, Yiorgos Batis, an important Greek musician who lived between 1885 and 1967, or Dimitris Gkogkos, an important Greek musician from beginnings of the XX century.

About The Author
Jakob Jelling is the founder of Please visit if you're planning a trip to Greece.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Consider This When Searching For A Hotel

People travel for many different reasons, for business or pleasure. When you're traveling you can find many good hotels that provide good value for your dollar. But there are many other considerations you should make when you're looking for a hotel. When you are looking for a hotel, there are many ideas to help you choose:

Cheapest? The cheapest hotels are not always the best option for the budget-conscious person. In fact, cheap hotels have become a joke, they can be so bad! Motels are an okay option for the budget conscious person but if you have a family, a hotel may offer you more convenience and choice for your children. For example, in a hotel you might find a restaurant and pool for the kids and a bar for the adults, which you would rarely find a motel. The difference in price is not huge so choosing a hotel for those family friendly amenities make the few extra dollars worthwhile.

Close to where you want to be? People who choose to stay at a hotel often find that the closer a hotel is to the downtown, the more expensive the hotel is. If your destination is downtown, you do not have to choose a hotel that is close by, but you should find one that is conveniently located. For example, if you have a business meeting to attend downtown, you don't want to choose the cheapest hotel which is so far away from downtown that you'll be fighting traffic and searching endlessly for a parking space. But you also don't want to spend an arm and a leg for a hotel that is too close to downtown. Instead, settle on one that is a few minutes out of the downtown core but not too far away.

Amenities? What you are willing to spend on a hotel room should not only reflect the quality of the service and the comfort of the room, but also the amenities. If you love to have a morning swim, a few extra dollars for a hotel with a swimming pool will make your stay worthwhile. But if you are not much of a socialite, spending extra dollars to be in a hotel with the hottest nightclub in town isn't worth it. Ask about what services the hotel provides and see which ones you'd use.

Proximity? Proximity to your meeting or destination is one consideration, but if you flew into town you should also consider proximity to the airport as well. Many hotels that are close to the airport, call themselves “airport hotels” or offer shuttle services to the airport charge more than non-airport hotels. Part of this is because the airport may charge the shuttle for parking privileges, which the hotel passes along to the consumer. Depending on how long you stay, it may be worthwhile to pay for a cab to go a little farther away from the airport to find a hotel that provides the same service for a slightly cheaper cost.

About The Author
Jeff Lakie is the founder of and websites providing information on Hotels.