The best events and activities for expat families in Singapore

Moving to Singapore with your family is a chance to truly immerse yourself in a culture that is vibrant, ever-changing and brilliantly unique. There is so much to see, do and learn, making the city a popular choice for expats. And for good reason: Singapore ranks second in the Safe Cities Index 2017 (beaten only by Tokyo). In 2014, Bloomberg highlighted its healthcare system as the most efficient in the world, citing it as the place that healthcare costs go furthest (most expats choose to take out global health insurance). Here are a few of the incredible events and activities that expat families can visit and take part. We hope this inspires you to make the most of your new home.

Delicious events for food lovers

The annual Singapore Food Festival is a must for expat families. Since 1994, the Singapore Tourism Board has held the festival to show off the city’s diverse culinary culture. Entry is free, which is ideal for large families with lots of hungry mouths to feed! It is a great chance to sample local delights and multicultural cuisines – from abacus seed (yam gnocchi) and kimchi popiah (spring rolls) to rojak (a local salad with fruits and vegetables). If your kids are finding it hard to settle into their new home, or you just want to keep them engaged with the local culture, then exploring the different stalls and dishes of the Singapore Food Festival might bring back their appetite for the city.

Festivities that show off Singapore’s multicultural character

Chinese New Year is an annual celebration that you absolutely must experience in Singapore. From bright red lanterns and gold money cats lining the streets, to spectacular dragon processions and delectable smells of oriental spices wafting from the city’s restaurants, Chinese New Year is a treat for the senses. It’s also an important part of Singapore’s culture, as the Chinese community makes up more than half of the city’s population. Singapore does not do the celebration by halves: the annual River Hongboa takes place on board a floating platform with colourful fireworks and Chinese zodiac lanterns. The Chingay Parade involves sparkling dancers, wondrous dragons, magnificent stilt walkers and vibrantly decorated parade floats.

The Hindu festival Thaipusam is also an important date in Singapore’s cultural calendar, and is a spectacle for people of all ages. It’s a two-day festival that begins at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and finishes at the Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple. The colourful procession travels just under three miles and is an amazing glimpse into the traditions of the Hindus, who prepare spiritually for one month on a strict vegetarian diet. The most committed devotees put skewers through their tongues (which can only be done once the mind is free from material longing and the body is exempt from physical pleasures) and carry spiked kavadis (altars). Others balance wooden kavadis on their shoulders with flowers and peacock feathers, and some simply carry a jug of milk.

Colour, sound and sensation!

Whether you’re living in Singapore with your baby, toddler or teenager (or family members of all ages), you might also enjoy a trip to Sentosa to see the Wings Of Time performance. This is an outdoor night show set against the backdrop of the sea that features lasers, water displays and music. While little ones will no doubt be mesmerised by the bright colours and dancing lights, older children may enjoy the magical story. It is popular with tourists and expats alike who want to escape to a fantasy world for the night.

Staying healthy

There are many ways to have fun and stay healthy in Singapore. From yoga and meditation classes to jogging and going to the gym, there are a lot of widely available fitness options. For kids, there are plenty of swimming pools to splash around in and parks where they can let off steam. As a treat, attractions like the water park Wild Wild Wet are popular for families that want a fun day out that involves lots of exercise and fresh air. Combined with a healthy diet – high-protein, low-fat foods with lots of fibre are widely available in Singapore – it’s possible for all the family to stay fit and healthy while living in the so-called ‘garden city’.

Fun family learning

While you’re getting settled into your new lives in Singapore, consider educational trips to boost your children’s confidence about going to school in a new country. The Science Centre is a popular trip for expats as there are lots of interactive exhibits to inspire budding young scientists.

For parents who want to teach their children about the local culture, the Singapore Discovery Centre could also be worth a visit. It has information about the birth and development of the city, galleries that highlight unique Singaporean quirks and an exhibition that explains the vision for the city’s future. All this makes the Discovery Centre a truly educational experience that could help expat families to feel more in tune with their new home.

These are just some of the exciting events and activities in Singapore that you and your family can explore. From food and culture to science, history and entertainment, you should be able to find activities to inspire family members of all ages and help everyone settle into their new life abroad.

Four Tips that Will Help You Enjoy Dubai to its Fullest

There are many vacation destinations that you can book your trip to, arrive, and just kind of go with the flow. Chances are you won’t need to do too much planning or research ahead of time, and you may even be perfectly content to stay on the hotel or resort grounds the entire trip. A vacation to Dubai is not that kind of trip.

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If you’ve got an upcoming trip booked to Dubai, or you’re considering it for your next vacation destination, then there are a few tips you’re going to want to keep in mind which will help ensure you enjoy the city to the fullest extent.

Understand There is Lots to See and Do

Most people think of the modern buildings and cityscape when they think of Dubai, and while this does exist and it’s a large part of what makes the destination world-famous, there is also a lot more to Dubai. Sticking to the downtown core won’t allow you to fully appreciate the destination and get your true money’s worth.

For these reasons it’s a good idea to spend some time researching Dubai and the surrounding area in advance. It’s a good way to learn if there are any other areas you want to visit that you can reach from Dubai, and what’s just outside the city limits.

Consider Renting a Car

Another tip that can help elevate your experience is to opt for a car rental Dubai. This will allow you to go ahead and take those little trips out of town, and experience more than just the city. For those who are staying for a longer period of time, such as business travellers who need to be there for a month or more, renting a car is much more cost-effective then paying for car services everywhere you go.

Be Aware of the Weather

The weather is something that people don’t always consider when booking a trip to Dubai, but picking the right time of year to visit can make a huge difference in the quality of your trip. Ideally you want to visit Dubai sometime between mid-October to mid-April. Clear skies, sunshine, and moderate temperatures are the norm for this time of year.

Meanwhile from late-April to early-October it is summer season in Dubai, which is incredibly hot. It gets so hot there that you won’t be able to be outdoors, which means you can’t visit the desert, theme parks, and even the beaches thanks to the extreme heat.

Get Out and Explore the Cuisine

Rather than just sticking to the meals offered in your hotel, or the downtown core, get out there and explore Dubai’s food. You will find everything from luxurious restaurants to casual street fare. Dubai is also famous for offering a wide range of cuisine such as Afghan, Pakistani, India, Bangladeshi, Iranian, Yemeni, and Filipino.

Make it a Memorable Experience

Dubai is truly an incredible destination to visit with so much to offer tourists. With that said, these tips will help ensure that you make the absolute most of your trip.

Are You Planning to Visit the Dead Sea? Here’s What You shouldn’t Miss

The Dead Sea is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions Israel has to offer, and for good reason. The Dead Sea is, in fact, the lowest place on earth, and its unique qualities make it a must-see while you’re in Israel. Not only is the Dead Sea hauntingly beautiful, with its many amazing beaches – it has also been proven to bring about health benefits due to its extreme salinity and high mineral content. But a visit to the Dead Sea isn’t just about lounging around on the beach and having a few drinks – if you really want to make the most of your holiday to the Dead Sea, here’s what you shouldn’t miss.

The Masada National Park

The Masada National Park overlooks the Dead Sea, and the views from this area are simply breathtaking. You can reach the Masada ruins and the park via cable car, although if you’re feeling up to a bit of activity, you can hike there as well. The plateau on top of the park is about 60 meters above sea level, and it measures around 550 meters by 270 meters. The Masada ruins are the site of a siege which took place centuries ago, and its story is definitely something worth knowing.

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

If you want something equally spectacular, you should make it a point to visit the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, and if you’ve never seen a wadi before, this will definitely take your breath away. The Nature Reserve has two canyons, Wadi Arugot and Wadi David, and each canyon has a separate entrance. If you’re looking for physical activity, you can take a hike to Wadi Arugot, which has fewer crowds compared to Wadi David. Wadi Arugot features trails beside the streams, and although some trails may be a bit challenging, the scenery makes it more than worth it.

Qumran National Park

Qumran National Park has an important historical significance, as it is the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. It is also the site of an ancient settlement which existed from around the time of Jesus until approximately 68 AD. Qumran National Park has an elevated walkway from where you can see the channels, the aqueduct, and even the cisterns used by the ancient community. Other interesting sights in Qumran National Park include the ritual baths, the scriptorium, and the refectory (where the people ate their shared meals).

Ein Bokek Beach

Ein Bokek Beach is known for its long and broad shoreline, and it is a beach that’s open to the public. Ein Bokek Beach also features a beautiful promenade along with shelters from the sun, showers in the open air, changing rooms, gym facilities, and bathrooms.

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No Need for Persuasion: Teenagers Will Love Coming to Dubai With You

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Teens can be too cool for a lot of things. It’s not that they have bad attitudes. Sometimes, the way things are presented makes a big difference.

Think of your kids as potential buyers of a vacation getaway. How would you pitch an exotic destination like Dubai, filled with sun, sand, and sites unseen anywhere else in the world? There’s no need for persuasion when you’re talking Dubai.

Get Their Feet Wet

The first destination is not foreign to most teens. Most major areas in the US and UK have access to one or more water parks, so going to the Atlantis park or Wild Wadi shouldn’t be a unique concept. But the Atlantis park isn’t just a waterpark with slides. It hosts rare fish and mammals – even sharks!

Get Really High

The Burj Khalifa is a massive building. The observation decks are open to the public as well as any teen who has the stomach to take in the amazing yet jaw-dropping sites from this mammoth that hosts over 150 floors.

Hop in a Balloon

There are several ways to see Dubai. The creative opts for hot air balloon rides. One can see the vastness of the desert, the contours of the land, and the bustle of the outskirts and middle of cities from above. Early morning ballooners get to see the sunrise like never before. Book your ride in advance or from the comfort of your JW Marriott Hotel, Dubai luxury room.

Get to the Mall

Most parents witnessed the once greatness that was the UK and American malls. The behemoth caverns of retail outlets are harder to find these days yet the business model is thriving in Dubai. A lot of today’s teens never got to see what it was like in a 90’s mall. It was a grand shopping experience and one you can replicate today in Dubai.

Take to the Ice

It’s a bit ironic to head to an ice rink in a land that features temperatures unseen in many other places in the world but the rink affords time for teens to socialize with others their age and mom and dad to be alone.

Play Tag

Of course, any teen would roll their eyes at the mention of a game of tag. Yet the Oasis Center Mall hosts a super cool Lazer Tag arena, where kids zap other family members who hide, duck and weave throughout the game maze.

Go Offroad

Tell your teen you’re all going on a 4×4 offroading adventure and that should pique their interest. Book your safari tour through a number of vendors. Some offer other amenities such as food and a tour of the inner cities.

See the Dolphins

Some feature flower gardens and other have koi ponds, but Umm Hurrair has a Dolphinarium. You’ll have access to watersports, boat tours, and of course, a chance to swim with the dolphins. The site has food, game centers, and enough to do for the entire afternoon.

Get Skydiving

The Skydive Dubai Desert Campus is the place for indoor skydiving. It’s a thrill that few facilities around the world offer. It’s an intense experience that is safe enough for teens and the entire family. The site promises world-class skydiving without the need of a plane.

Traveling Southeast Asia

A first-timer’s guide on what to take

Before traveling anywhere, you’ll need to do some research on what to pack. Chances are the climate, culture and amenities are all going to be completely different to what you’re used to at home. If you’re heading to Southeast Asia, here’s a basic guide to what you’ll need as a Westerner.

Medication

A couple weeks before you leave, you’ll almost certainly need to start a course of anti-malaria tablets, which you’ll also take throughout your stay.

You’ll also want diarrhea medication – tap water might be ok depending on where you are, but your body will take a while to adjust. Even if you don’t drink tap water at all, a bad curry could have you man-down for a couple days. Pack the meds and hope you don’t need them.

Clothes

Most of Southeast Asia is hot and humid. Pack loose, comfortable clothes – shorts and t-shirts are probably best, a swimsuit is essential. Take your sneakers for the days when you’re doing a lot of walking, as you definitely will. Flip-flops and comfortable sandals are also on the must-pack list.

Also bring a raincoat or poncho – at some point you will get caught in the rain. When it rains there, you don’t always get much warning. This is another reason why you should pack lightweight, quick drying clothes so that you won’t run out if a couple pairs get wet. The same goes for shoes.

Toiletries

Tissues, tissues and more tissues – you’ll be hard pressed to find a public restroom with toilet paper. You can pack tissues or toilet paper beforehand or buy on arrival, but they’re likely to become one of your most prized possessions, at least after your first encounter with the bum-gun.

Bug repellant. Mosquitoes are pretty prolific and probably bigger than the tiny nuisances you’re used to. Take bug-spray or a stick of repellant and don’t forget to use it.

Deodorant, preferably an antiperspirant. You’ll still sweat but you’ll feel a little more comfortable and you won’t smell quite so bad.

Planning

Hang onto your notebook, phone – whatever has your trip plan in it. If you need to contact places you’re staying or people you’ve made travel arrangements with, it’s your go-to method for planning. If your accommodation falls through, or you’d just rather not have to worry about it, consider renting an RV from a reputable website.

What not to take

Valuables – camera, ok, diamond necklace, not ok. Anything you can’t replace, don’t take with, you’ll survive without it.

Don’t take anything across the border that you didn’t pack yourself. I recently heard a horror story of a woman whose ‘friend’ asked her to collect some books while she was in Taiwan. The books were a ploy to smuggle heroin out of the country and she spent 16 years in jail – in Taiwan.

Even if you don’t speak the language, struggle with the currency and can’t sleep because of the heat or the bugs, it’ll be an amazing experience. Take lots of pictures, eat strange food, meet new people. Dive into the culture and come home with some amazing stories.

Six Things to Do When You Visit New York City

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New York City is one the most visited cities in the world. In 2016, over 60 million people visited New York to take in the city so nice they named it twice. New York is home to over 8 million people who live within roughly 305 square miles of the city limits, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world, second only to Paris. As such, every corner of the city holds unique wonders that visitors should try to see.

Whether you have just launched a few new business ideas that took off or are a traveler interested in a budget-conscious trip, this article will help you to discover parts of the city that only true New Yorkers know about.


  1. Avoid the tourist traps

Time Square, the Empire State Building and Circle Line Cruises are all tourist traps. True New Yorkers avoid these destinations like the plague. While you may be interested in visiting these locations due to cultural or historical significance, know that if you do you will not be seeing the city that most New Yorkers know and love. Instead, you’ll be experiencing a tourist destination that caters to the desires of out-of-towners.

Instead of going to the tourist traps mentioned above, check out some of the significant but less popular locations mentioned later on in this article.


  1. Understand the reputation of each neighborhood

New York is divided into a series of neighborhoods. Due to social norms and zoning laws, each neighborhood has developed a unique characteristic that is all its own. Before planning your trip, take a minute to survey a map of New York neighborhoods and try to visit as many as possible.

Among a few of the neighborhoods to visit is the Upper West Side, home to the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Opera, and famous apartment buildings like the Dakota and the Apthorp.

SoHo is another great neighborhood to check out, it features trendy popup stores, cute bars, and high-end restaurants like Balthazar and the Mercer Kitchen.

Williamsburg Brooklyn is yet one more great New York neighborhood. Many credit its residents for giving rise to the “hipsters.” Visitors should check out Output or the Music Hall of Williamsburg for great music, grab a drink on the rooftop bar at McCarran Hotel, and head to Fete Sau for great barbeque.


  1. Head to Queens for great ethnic food

One study found that Queens New York was one of the most diverse places in the world. It is because of this diversity that Queens is home to a number of fantastic ethnic eateries that allow visitors to sample from a wide variety of delicious and hard to find food. Among the restaurants to check out are the Arepa Lady, which serves delectable South American pastries, and Mu Ramen, which features authentic Japanese ramen.


  1. Check out a show at the Comedy Cellar

Located in the iconic Greenwich Village, the Comedy Cellar is one of New York City’s great comedy clubs. Famous comedians like Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, and Louie CK all got their start performing at the Comedy Cellar. As a result, it is not uncommon for these and other famous comedians to take the stage from time to time.


  1. Listen to Jazz at the Village Vanguard

Nothing says old New York like a great jazz nightclub. Founded in 1935, the Village Vanguard is an important historic center of New York and of American music history. Great jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and John Coltrane either performed live or recorded albums there. Today, the Vanguard regularly hosts world-famous jazz musicians.


  1. Got to the Whitney to check out great art and fashion

The Whitney Museum is located in the Meatpacking District, near the Highline. This makes it well situated within a great New York neighborhood, and next to another great New York attraction.

Visitors should check out the exhibits inside of the Whitney (which change on a regular basis) and should then head to the trendy shops and restaurants in the Meatpacking District before taking a stroll on the Highline.

Conclusion

There are always numerous reasons not to take a trip. Maybe you don’t want to leave the house before you fix your leaky faucet or you are simply waiting for a big raise before setting off for the Big Apple. Whatever your excuse, know that when you do eventually make it to New York City, there are a plethora of intellectually stimulating, fun, and eye-opening experiences waiting for you when you arrive.

6 Best Hot Springs in Japan You Need to Visit

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With over 3,000 hot springs, Japan is the undisputed land of amazing hot springs. Locally, they are called onsen and it is one of the most indulgent ways to pass your time when in Japan. Eager to experience the best the country offers? Here are some of the best that you should not miss.

  1. Takaragawa Onsen

Located in Gunma, Central Honshu, this riverside hot spring is considered one of the best in Japan. The clue is in the name – Takaragawa means “treasure river” – and it indeed houses a wealth of beauty.

The outdoor onsen has four slate-floored pools that are a few hundred meters from Tone-gawa. The water is alkaline and is believed to aid in treating fatigue, nervous disorders, and digestive problems. All the pools are for mixed bathing except a single ladies-only bath. The setting is enchanting, surrounded by a forest, pathways, wooden huts, and statues.

  1. Kiroro

Enjoy a hot spring bath in this onsen situated in Kiroro Town. Large and surrounded by nature, this is a caldera hot spring that comes from Akaigawa Village. It presents an utterly relaxing experience as you soak in a wonderful tub of hot bubbling water. The views are so mesmerizing you will forget the passing time.

  1. Hakone Yuryo

Only three minutes from the Hakone-Yumoto station, this is a beautiful outdoor onsen that is embraced by forests. The pools are large and shaded by trees, allowing bathers to feel close to nature.

  1. Oedo Onsen Monogatari

There is no need to go far to find a worthwhile hot spring in Tokyo. Check out this inner city onsen in Odaiba Island. The setting is super cool since it’s located right after an Edo period town.

Moreover, there are a slew of activities that can be done here. On top of the list is the hot spring, of course, but you can also go for massages, spa treatments, restaurants, relaxation rooms, and various shops. You can opt to stay here for an entire day and never get bored.

  1. Kinosaki

If you are truly crazy for hot springs, there is no better place to be than the town of Kinosaki. Located in northern Kansai, it offers the best onsen ryokan experience. There are seven public baths and numerous onsen ryokan. Most of the hotels have their own baths to indulge in but nothing should stop you from going onsen-hopping in the many public baths in town.

  1. Lamp no Yado

Hidden in the Noto-hanto peninsula in Central Honshu, this sanctuary is as secluded and indulgent as a hot spring can get. From the seaside, a country road leads to a narrow path that opens to a switchback hill that you climb on foot. It sounds like a lot of work but it’s all worth it as the onsen is to-die for. The private outdoor pools are stunning and the view of the Sea of Japan is unrivaled. While the trip may be a bit costly, it is certainly well-spent once you’ve experienced its beauty.

Things to Know Before Flying to Tel Aviv

Travelling to Tel Aviv is one of the most unforgettable trips I’ve ever had. Did I enjoy it? Definitely. However, if I could go there again, there are some things I’d do differently. If you’re a first-time traveler to the Holy Land, you might want to learn some important things first.

Familiarize the City’s Weather

Fall and spring seasons are the best time to book Tel Aviv flights. During these months, the city will usually experience rain. However, they are better than winter when it’s cold or summer when it’s dry and hot. According to the Ministry of Tourism, August is the peak season in Israel’s tourism industry. If you don’t like the crowd, you can go to the city in April, May, June, July, or September.

If you are going to go to higher elevations such as the mountain fortress of Masada, prepare for cooler temperatures. Bring clothing that you can easily layer, so you can cope with the changing temperature of the daytime and nighttime.

Know How to Communicate with the Locals

The language barrier is a common problem among travelers. Though Arabic and Hebrew are the official languages of the country, people widely speak English. Thus, you’ll have little trouble finding someone who can understand you.

Aside from the language, you must also know about the culture of the country you’re going to. It will pay to read about the history of the Tel Aviv and Israel so that you will not find yourself in any awkward conversation.

Deal with Merchants and Businessmen the Right Way

If you’re planning to visit the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, then you should learn how to haggle. Merchants usually give a much higher price for their items as they already expect their buyers to negotiate over their cost.

When it comes to tipping, the average tip in bars, restaurants, and tour guides is around 10% to 15%. However, tipping is not common outside the tourism and food industry.

Learn How to Deal with Shekels

Shekei is the currency of Israel. Before you go to the country, it’s better that you exchange your currency to shekels. You will have a better deal if you go to an independent  money changer station than your hotel. Hotels usually give a lower rate than those posted in the bank of Israel.

If you are using an ATM, there are machines that process international withdrawals. You will receive cash in shekels. However, you should be aware of the transactions fees as they are usually high.

Listen to the Latest News

Tel Aviv welcomes more than a million of visitors a year. Thus, the police and military forces are trained well to keep them safe. True enough, Israel is safer than many other nations. Their crime rates are lower than the US. Still, conflicts can arise and escalate without warning. Be sure to listen to the latest news before the day of your trip to learn whether there threats to the safety of tourists.

Final Thoughts

Be a smart traveler and plan your trip to Tel Aviv carefully. That way, you can enjoy your holiday in the Holy Land to the fullest.

6 Self-improvement Lessons I’ve Learnt From Traveling

We have all seen article after article on the internet with tips on how to improve yourself. Within the self-help industry, the Self-Improvement category, although highly helpful, has somewhat been neglected as what we see as a great source of enlightenment: Traveling. Just think about it for one second and I am sure you have more than one traveling experience that left you with so much more than just a souvenir. From memories we share to knowledge we have obtained, traveling is the ultimate way to help you grow and improve your life. We have decided to put together a short article featuring the “6 Self-improvement Lessons I’ve Learnt From Traveling”. I hope you enjoy this article and either have learned or will learn some of these lessons on your next trip. Without further ado, here are 6 self-improvement lessons I’ve learnt during my trips:

#1. Knowledge is everywhere

Although we may stick to books or podcasts and live events when it comes to enlightenment and goal orientation, we tend to forget that knowledge is all around us. And a trip abroad is exactly what I needed when I first felt stressed out and directionless due to my career path. The destination was Paris. A couple weeks filled with nothing but “joie de vivre” (the joy of living), was enough to help me see that I was focusing too much on my professional life and not on my personal life.

#2. Be flexible

Especially seasoned travelers are used to having to go through a couple roadblocks while traveling. Whenever your flight is delayed, your hotel overbooked, or even when you find yourself lost, one thing becomes clear: flexibility is key. By being flexible and learning how to adapt yourself to different situations and scenarios, you develop the required skills to make the best out of any situation. Don’t dwell too much on the negatives, just accept the reality, and do your best to get out of a sticky situation. When it comes to achieving your goals, being flexible is very important. I remember the lesson I learned from Tony Robbins at Date With Destiny event was that you need to be committed to your goals but be flexible with your approach.

#3. Organize yourself for better results

Traveling also requires a tremendous amount of organization. From packing to following schedules, from finding the best flights to the cheapest hotels, it can take a lot to organize the perfect trip. But, at the end of the day, you will find the best possible options that best fit you and your tastes. By organizing your time and money in order to make sure you are getting the most out of your vacation, you will learn how to apply this knowledge to your day-to-day life.

#4. An open mind equals a better experience

Don’t let a previous negative experience or a bad review ruin your vacation. Keep your mind open and ready to take in a new culture. By going about your day already feeling like you will have a bad experience, you are more likely to find all the flaws in your day. And this line of thinking can be applied to both traveling and life. Keep a positive attitude, and a positive experience will follow.

#5. Just because it’s different, it doesn’t mean it’s bad

Once again, keep an eye out for letting negativity ruin your day. Simply enjoy the small (or big) differences that differentiate us and celebrate them, rather than perceiving them as negative. By celebrating differences between yourself and others, you are more likely to value them, and thus learn or experience something new and explore your self-discovery journey.

#6. Respect others

This was perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned while traveling. While in another country, much like in your daily life, respecting others is key. What you may find odd, can be seen as fully normal for someone of a different culture or religion. Adapt and educate yourself before making possibly rude assumptions and passing as someone intolerant. Once you have accepted the small cultural differences, you are ready to embrace another culture and fully enjoy it.

Ultimate beach vacation guide

Are you looking for somewhere to relax and soak up the sun in style? A trip to the beach is everybody’s dream vacation, but if you find that it too often falls short of expectations, you need to up your game. Getting the right gear, planning the right activities and, most importantly of all, choosing the right location, can let you live the dream. Contrary to popular myth, you don’t always need to stray far from cities to find fantastic beaches – you can be beside the sea and still have great restaurants, shops and entertainment venues on hand. It’s time to get out there and make it happen.

The world’s best beaches

There are many beautiful beaches around the world, but these are five you can’t afford to miss out on:-

  • Sunset Beach, Cape Town, South Africa. With a name like that, how could we resist it? It’s also known as Bloubergstrand, and it enjoys a stunning location, overlooked by Table Mountain. The sea here is a dark sapphire blue and the sand dazzling white, with long stretches of shallow water. You can take a boat out to see dolphins or even whales, go kite surfing, or simply relax and enjoy the combination of warm sun and a gentle breeze.
  • Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Just over two miles of pale golden sand stretching out beneath Sugarloaf Mountain, this is one of the world’s most famous beaches, and rightly so. It’s a place where people play volleyball and football, splash around in the warm water, or dance the night away. Beachside bars sell draft beer, fresh coconut water and popular local snacks. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, with people always ready to get into the party spirit.
  • Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona, Spain. Right next door to one of Europe’s most exciting cities, where the food, shopping, sport and art are all world class, this vast golden beach is always a joy. Locals take tables on the promenade to enjoy evening glasses of sangria while dining on fresh seafood. Children love to play in the warm, shallow water, but there’s also plenty of room for adults to have fun, whether joining in games or only making the most of the warm sand and the sunshine.
  • Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. A beach with something for everyone, this place is most famous for its rocky promontory, where crashing waves make for incredible surfing, but it also has a long stretch of soft white sand ideal for sunbathing. There’s an attractive park nearby and a wide promenade perfect for those evenings when you just want to stand and look out at the sunset, which is always impressive.
  • Umm Suqeim, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Just a stone’s throw away from the five-star resorts and beautiful boutiques of this spectacular city, Umm Suqeim is a beach popular with both tourists and locals, a place where the heat of the desert meets the cool breeze off the sea. White sand melts into crystal clear water, and everything is wonderfully clean and unspoiled. Small cafés sell simple but delicious local food, with the ice cream always a favorite.

Beach essentials

Everybody has their own description of the perfect beach vacation, but if you forget to pack your speedos or bikini underwear, you options are going to be pretty limited. You’ll also need towels, flip flops or sandals, and suitable gear for any water sports you want to engage in – plus a beach bag to carry it all. Don’t forget the sunblock and shades, and remember that wearing a hat and keeping a loose shirt with you can help when the weather heats up. Add some suitable beach reading materials, and you’re ready to go.

Beach activities

Stretching out on the sand without a care in the world is many people’s idea of bliss, but if you want to add some more active thrills to your vacation, there are plenty of ways to do it. From beachside rock climbing off the Thai coast to swimming with seahorses in Hawaii, hitting the surf off California or exploring the dazzling reefs of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, there’s plenty to choose. For a good experience, choose a resort or tour that offers full instruction and supplies larger pieces of gear, so you don’t have to haul it with you; or if you want to be independent, seek recommendations for an excellent local guide.

With the right preparation, a beach vacation can be much more than you imagined and can give you memories you’ll always treasure.