The Accessories You Need for a Beach Weekend

Woman in shades and hat on the beach

Summer is now beginning to draw to a close, meaning that if you were looking to get away to the beach for a weekend, now is the time to plan it. From sunglasses to a waterproof phone case, these are the accessories that you should not forget to pack.

Waterproof Phone Case
Water is everywhere at the beach, and even if you do not plan on taking your phone into the sea with you, you should still consider some extra protection for it. A protective waterproof phone case will not only ensure that your phone stays dry, but it will also prevent any sand or dirt from entering it, leaving you free to use your phone throughout the weekend without having to worry about causing any damage.

Woman with shades and beach bag at the beach

A Beach Bag
A beach bag is absolutely essential to tote all of your belongings around in, but you need to ensure that this properly fastens up, so that your bag will not end up filled with sand. A bag that has separate compartments will always be useful, especially if you are carrying valuables, and you should also try to opt for one that has been crafted from a waterproof material.

Sunglasses
The skin around your eyes is much more delicate than that on the rest of your face, which is why this is often the first area to show signs of wrinkles and fine lines. Since the sun is responsible for up to 90% of facial wrinkles, sunglasses are one of the best ways to protect your eye area from the damaging effects of the sun. Make sure that your sunglasses are UV blocking, and opt for a wraparound style if you want extra protection on the sides of your face.

Woman wearing colorful sarong at beach

A Sarong
While you will likely be wearing swimwear throughout the weekend, there will always come times when you need to cover up, and a sarong is perfect for this. This is one of the most versatile items of clothing out there, as it can be used in so many ways. Whether you wrap it into a dress or a skirt, or use it as a beach blanket, this is an accessory that you will definitely want by your side, and it will also not take up too much room in your luggage.

Flat Sandals
If you are planning a night out on the town, you may want to pack a pair of heels, but, during the day, nothing beats a pair of quality flat sandals. These match with just about everything, and you could even opt for a pair that features elaborate beading or leather straps if you want them to take on a dressier edge. Sandals can also easily fit into just about any beach bag, meaning that you can conveniently swap them for another pair of shoes if you need to.

Deciding what to pack for a beach weekend can be difficult, as you do not want to overpack, but you also do not want to leave anything important behind. From your sunglasses to your sandals, make sure that all of these items have a place in your luggage before you set off.

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The Pros and Cons of Group Travel

Tour group listening to their guide

Travelling as part of a larger group can have many advantages, but this method of travel is definitely not for everyone. For those of you who are considering signing up for a group trip, here are a few pros and cons to think about before making your decision.

Following the Rules
Having a set of rules to follow can often be off-putting for many people, but this is something that is usually a part of travelling as a group. Since the company who is leading the trip is in charge of so many people, they will often come up with a set of guidelines that everybody needs to follow. If you are someone that does not like following rules, and would prefer to be in charge, then group travel may not be for you.

Inclusive Extras
With the majority of group trips, you will usually pay for the whole trip upfront, meaning that you do not have to worry about having to constantly be spending money while you are travelling, as you will have already taken care of all costs. However, keep in mind that there will always be optional activities that you may have to fork out for, whether this be a special meal or a sporting activity, as well as souvenirs that you will likely want to purchase. Nevertheless, for those who have quite a strict budget, a group trip can really help you to stick to this while still enjoying the travel experience.

Happy tourists on bus looking at map

Following a Fixed Itinerary
Travelling as a group means that you will have an itinerary that everybody needs to stick to, and this can often be frustrating for some. However, keep in mind that the itinerary would have been planned in a certain way for a reason, and will usually feature all of the main highlights of the destination that you are visiting. While some trips will offer quite a flexible itinerary, others will be quite rigid, meaning that you will not be able to have much of a say in the things that you see and do. On the other hand, this is often convenient for those who do not have the time to research and plan a trip themselves, as all of this work will have been already done for you.

Travelling Alone as Part of a Group
One of the biggest advantages for many solo travellers is the extra company that comes along with a group trip. While travelling solo can be plenty of fun, taking a group trip can be a great way to make new friends, especially with like-minded people. Travelling with strangers can really help you to form a tight bond, even if it is in quite a short amount of time, and this can really make the whole experience so much more valuable.

Group travel definitely does have its share of pros and cons, and this is something that you will really need to think about before signing up for a trip. For those who enjoy planning their own itineraries and staying in control, a group trip may not be for you, but for those who do not enjoy the planning stage, and enjoy meeting new people and making new friends, a group trip could be exactly what you need.

Spring Travel Must-Haves

Whether you are heading off for spring break with your friends, family, or that special someone, it is always a good idea to put some advanced planning into your packing. From skin care to gadgets, here are the spring travel must-haves that you definitely do not want to be leaving at home.

sunglasses

Sunglasses and Sun Protection
No matter where you may be headed to, spring signifies the beginning of better weather, meaning that you are likely to be spending much longer in the sun while you are on your travels. This makes a pair of UV blocking sunglasses absolutely essential, because not only will they add an element of chic to your look, but they will also provide the skin around your eyes with extra protection from the sun’s damaging rays. In addition to your sunglasses, you should also bring along a few other items that can help protect you from the sun, from a broad spectrum sunscreen to a wide-brimmed hat.

Cleanser and Moisturizer
While you may be tempted to leave your cleanser and moisturizer at home, and buy new, smaller versions when you reach your destination, it would be far more beneficial to your skin to bring along your everyday cleanser and moisturizer. Although cleansers may be easily available, switching to a new formula suddenly can really disrupt your skin’s pH balance, causing everything from redness and irritation to breakouts. Sticking with products that your skin is already used to will help you to avoid any skin issues while you are away.

spring jacket

Spring Jacket
Even if you are planning on travelling somewhere hot and sunny, spring weather can still be quite unpredictable, which is why it is always useful to have a lightweight spring jacket on hand. Since you are opting for a light version, you will easily be able to squeeze this into your bag, and, whether you have a rainy day or a chilly evening, you will be covered. Trench coats are ideal for this, as they are always right on trend in the spring, and bring a classy touch to any outfit.

Portable Charger
The majority of people these days travel with a number of different gadgets and devices, and organizing the many different chargers for each of these can be time-consuming and frustrating. A portable travel charger takes all of the fuss out of travelling with gadgets, as these will allow you to charge multiple devices all at the same time with just one charging device, saving you time and space.

Woman using travel wallet

Travel Wallet
When travelling, it is always easier to keep all of your documents in one place, not only so that they are easily accessible when you need them, but also to ensure that none of them end up lost. A travel wallet is a great way to do this, as these will have pockets and slots for all of your essential travel items, from your passport to your foreign currency to your credit cards.

Spring is a fantastic time of the year to travel, and these must-have items are guaranteed to have your trip running as smoothly as possible. From a travel wallet to hold all important documents to a portable charger that will ensure that you are never stranded without your phone or camera, these items all deserve a bit of space in your luggage.

Tips for Planning a Multi-Family Vacation

Friends traveling

Traveling with another family can really be fun, but the planning stage will most likely feel like quite the challenge. In order to ensure that the whole trip runs smoothly, here are some tips to help you to plan a multi-family vacation.

Pick a Leader
While everybody should be responsible for their own individual needs, it is always handy to pick a leader, so that you have someone that can take charge of the overall vacation. This means that everybody will be kept on the same page, whether it be about flight arrival times or contact details, which will help to significantly cut back on confusion.

Senior couples

Choosing a Location
Choosing a location for your vacation can often be one of the toughest parts of planning a multi-family vacation, because with so many different opinions, a large number of you will end up having to compromise. This is something that needs to be decided early on in the process, and the best way to do this is by finding out everybody’s must-haves, whether this may be a beach destination, somewhere mountainous, or a city filled with culture. The person that you have selected to be in charge can then put all of this information together and come up with a few suggestions that will appeal to the majority, letting everybody then vote to pick their favorite.

Let Everyone Plan an Activity
A strict itinerary that everybody has to follow is never going to work out on a multi-family vacation, meaning that you will be much better off scheduling a certain activity and/or meal for the day, and then allowing everyone to have the rest of that day as their own. In order to ensure that everybody has a great time, delegate the planning of certain activities to different members of the family, allowing everybody to pick one activity that they would love to do.

Family traveling

Be Up-Front About Money
Although you may want to really splurge on this vacation, the other family that you are travelling with may have a strict budget that they need to stick to, which is why it is important to discuss finances in the early planning stages of your vacation. When it comes to booking travel and accommodation, it is easy enough for each family to pay for themselves, but if you are sharing a holiday home, and plan on dining at different restaurants, it would be worth coming up with a plan beforehand to ensure that each family is spending a fair amount.

Online Planning
When it comes to a multi-family vacation, there are so many different parts to this that need planning, and emails flying back and forth can often make everything so much more confusing. An online planning document is a great way for everybody to stay updated on the latest plans, whether this be packing lists, meal plans or flight itineraries, and will also keep everything in one place.

In order for your multi-family vacation to be as enjoyable as possible, you will need to put a fair bit of effort into the planning stage. From choosing a location that everybody is happy with to setting budgets and discussing finances, the hard work that you put into the planning will definitely all be worth it in the end.

Planning a Volunteer Vacation

A volunteer vacation, also known as voluntourism, is an extremely meaningful and worthwhile way to spend your time, but, in order for your trip to really be productive and fulfilling, there are a number of aspects that you need to consider beforehand. From narrowing down a destination to picking a cause, here are some tips on how to plan a volunteer vacation.

Volunteers
Picking a Cause
Whether you plan on volunteering for a few days or a few months, picking a cause to help out with is the very first step. Since you will be working hard under most likely challenging conditions, you would be best off supporting a cause that is close to your heart, and means something to you personally, as this will provide you with endless motivation during your trip. There are so many possibilities out there, from wildlife conservation to education to economic development, so take the time to explore all of your options. You should also think about specific skills that you have to offer, and try to match these with volunteering opportunities. For example, if you are trained in first aid, you may be best off helping out at an underprivileged health clinic, whereas those that have craft-related talents may be most appreciated at a local school.

Choosing a Destination
Once you have chosen your cause, this will already narrow down your choice of destinations quite a bit, but you are still likely to have multiple options. Your volunteer vacation is likely to be so much more satisfying if you are able to visit one of your bucket list destinations at the same time, and you should have enough free time to be able to explore your surroundings on your days off.

Woman volunteering
Working With a Credible Charity
The high price tag that often comes along with volunteer vacation packages is enough to put many people off, but, the lower the cost, the less services and amenities are provided to the volunteer. If you are unsure about the price, ask the organization for a breakdown of how your money would be spent, so that you can make sure that it is being used in the right way. Alternatively, you could also team up with a credible charity that helps to arrange volunteer vacations, as they will be able to set up trips for you all over the world.

Ask the Right Questions
Before booking a volunteer vacation, it is important to first find out as much as you can about it. Asking plenty of questions is the best way to do so, from the amount of hours you will be expected to work each day to the meals that will be provided. You should also enquire about the sleeping arrangements, as well as the exact type of work that you will be expected to do. The more that you know about your trip beforehand, the better you will be able to prepare for it, and you will also end up making a much larger contribution in the end.

There is no denying the fulfilment that comes from a volunteer vacation, but you need to ensure that the work that you are doing is really benefiting the community that you are working for. Planning a credible volunteer vacation takes quite a bit of time and effort, so be sure to look into all aspects of this thoroughly before booking anything.

What to Tuck in Your Weekend Travel Bag

Packing for a weekend trip can be tricky, because while you do want to travel as light as possible, there are also likely to be many items that you want to bring along. No matter where you may be headed to for your weekend getaway, here are a few tips on what to tuck into your weekend travel bag.

Weekend bag
A Selection of Accessories
While the clothing that you pack does depend on the destination that you are going to be visiting, it is probable that you will still need to stick to the basics, bringing along only outfits that you know for a fact that you will wear. However, in order to jazz up what may have otherwise been a slightly lackluster outfit, you need to have a selection of accessories to choose from. These do not take up much space in a travel bag, and can quickly add a pop of color, or some sparkle, to any outfit.

Dry Shampoo
Instead of having to squeeze in a shampoo, conditioner and other hair styling products, a small dry shampoo can easily replace these. This will also mean that you will not need to wash your hair during your weekend away, saving yourself some extra time to make the most of your destination.

Foldable Flats
You are likely to be able to manage with just one pair of shoes over the weekend, but if you feel the need for a spare pair, some foldable flats are perfect. These will not only take up a minimum amount of space, but can also be worn with just about any outfit, making them extremely versatile.

An All-In-One Charger
If you are someone that tends to bring along a number of electronics when travelling, from your cellphone to your tablet to your digital camera, then investing in an all-in-one charger can really help to save space, as well as plenty of hassle. These are easily available and enable you to charge all of your electronics with a single device, meaning that you do not have to worry about packing cables for each one.

Sunscreen
Sun Protection
Sun protection is absolutely essential throughout the year, and unless you intend on spending your weekend in a dark, underground location, you need to pack a few sun protection items in your weekend bag. Not only should you bring along a small, travel-sized sunscreen, but a pair of sunglasses, as well as a sun hat, may also come in handy.

Travel-Sized Toiletries
Rather than packing your standard toiletries in your weekend bag, swap these for travel-sized versions, as they will take up far less space. Whether this be your toothpaste, moisturizer, serum or shaving gel, travel-sized products are always useful for a weekend getaway.

It can be all-too-tempting to try to squeeze in as much as you can for a weekend trip away, but having to carry around a heavy and bulky bag is never enjoyable. Instead, try to downsize as much as possible, from your toiletries to your chargers, so that you only need to take the bare essentials with you.

Do’s and Don’ts on Broadway

Attending a Broadway show is an iconic New York experience that everybody should do at least once in their lifetime. However, for those planning to see a performance for the very first time, make sure that you are aware of all of the important Broadway do’s and don’ts beforehand.

Don’t Bring Food With You
Most theaters sport a concession stand at the entrance, allowing theater-goers to buy beverages and candy to bring to the show with them. While it may be tempting to sneak in a larger meal, this is not only considered to be rude to the rest of the audience, but also disrespectful to those performing, as the sounds and smells of your meal will be incredibly distracting. For those that missed the pre-theater special at their favorite restaurant, wait until the intermission, as you will be able to purchase a few snacks to tide you over until the end.

Broadway Show Signs

Kotsovolos Panagiotis / Shutterstock.com

Do Arrive on Time
Arriving late to a Broadway performance will likely mean that you will not be able to access your seat until the second act, meaning that you will miss the entire first act. Theater doors usually open around 30 minutes before curtain, and if you are sitting in a center seat, it is vital that you arrive at this time, in order to avoid having to climb over everybody else. For those that have an aisle seat, it would be best to wait until about 15 minutes before curtain to make your way to your seat, otherwise you may have to repeatedly stand in order to let those with the center seats pass through.

Don’t Talk During the Show
While a quick whisper to the person sitting next to you is perfectly acceptable during a performance, having a louder conversation is definitely not. While you may be desperate to share your theories on upcoming plot twists, the rest of the audience around you most likely does not want to hear this, and would much rather watch the show in peace, making it important that you refrain from talking.

Broadway show line

Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Do Dress Comfortably
Many choose to dress up when attending a Broadway show, but there is actually no strict dress code, meaning that you can wear anything that you want, although this is often different for opening night performances. While this is not an invitation to turn up in some tiny shorts and a pair of flip flops, it is important that you dress comfortably, so that you can focus on enjoying the show. You must also keep in mind that many theaters also turn up the air conditioning during performances, so you may want to bring a warmer garment with you for the show.

No matter what type of Broadway show you choose to attend, these guidelines will still apply. From using your seat number to work out when to arrive, to knowing what to wear, these tips will help you to make the most of your next Broadway performance, and give you an idea of the Broadway etiquette that is required of you.

New York Luxury Shopping Guide

With sprawling iconic department stores and extravagant high-end flagship shops, it is no surprise that New York is known for being a shopper’s paradise. From the old-school decadence of Fifth Avenue to the big-name designers on Madison Avenue, this luxury shopping guide highlights the very best retail therapy that New York City has to offer.

Jack Rogers sandals store on Madison Avenue

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Madison Avenue
Considered by many to be the most lavish shopping area in all of New York, Madison Avenue is lined with flagship stores from the biggest designers, with names ranging from Vera Wang’s Bridal House to Ralph Lauren to Prada to Jimmy Choo. In addition to being filled with the most tempting of goods, each boutique here also boasts extraordinary architecture, such as the Ralph Lauren store that is located in a stunning renovated mansion.

The Meatpacking District
The Meatpacking District earned itself the status of being quite the edgy neighborhood a few years ago, and it did not take long for a number of big-name designers to open their doors in the area’s renovated butcher shops. From Stella McCartney to Alexander McQueen to Christian Louboutin, there are some luxury boutiques here that are definitely worth exploring.

Nolita
The quieter counterpart of SoHo, Nolita boasts a range of up and coming designers that produce the most exquisite products. These one-of-a-kind boutiques make for quite a thrilling shopping experience, as each store focuses on high fashion garments, but with an emphasis on individuality. Designer names that you will find here include Jil Sander and Derek Lam, while some boutiques worth stopping off at include Saja, Vince, Poppy and Sigerson Morrison. You will also find several boutiques here that stock some exquisite homeware pieces, from ceramics to luxury textiles.

Saks Fifth Avenue

DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock.com

Fifth Avenue
Running north to south all the way through Manhattan, the most luxurious section of Fifth Avenue, which is considered to be the very heart of Manhattan retail, can be found from 14th Street to 59th Street. There are a number of iconic mainstays to be found here, from the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store, which is considered to be somewhat of a New York institution, to the world-famous Tiffany & Co, to the massive Louis Vuitton flagship store to Versace, Chanel and Dior. In addition to Saks Fifth Avenue, there are a couple of other high-end department stores here, including Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel.

Lafayette Street – SoHo to NoHo
Lafayette Street is quite distinct from the rest of SoHo, and this section of it is known for being the best place in the city to find the finest of antiques, especially when it comes to furniture. Gallery 440 is where you will find furniture from high end European designers, while Alan Moss Studios, as well as Elan Antiques, boasts one-of-a-kind antique pieces, both domestic as well as international.

When it comes to luxury shopping, there is no better city to turn to than New York. From the opulent flagship stores that line Madison Avenue to the one-of-a-kind antique finds at Lafayette Street, New York is a retail haven that offers the ultimate shopping experience.

Traditional Foods to Enjoy in Spain

Spain is known for its vibrant culinary scene, and there are many spots around the country that are considered to be top foodie destinations. From the sweet to the spicy, these traditional dishes should all make it onto your must-try list the next time you are in Spain.

gazpacho

Gazpacho
Spain grows the sweetest of tomatoes, and it is this very ingredient that is the star of gazpacho – a chilled tomato soup made with ultra-ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, bread, peppers and cucumber. Blitzed until silky smooth, this tangy and refreshing soup is always popular during the summer months, and you will usually find a fresh jar of gazpacho on every tapas bar counter top.

Paella
Paella was born in Valencia in the mid-19th century, and Valencians today proudly claim that it is possible to eat a different version of this dish every day of the year, as there are so many varieties out there. While this may be the case, the most important element to a paella is the rice used, with bomba or calasaparra rice being two varieties that are grown on the east coast of Spain, and are known for being particularly effective at absorbing all of the other flavors in the dish.

chorizo

Chorizo
A flavorful pork sausage with plenty of garlic and Spanish smoked paprika, chorizo comes in many different forms, and is one of the most versatile foods in the country. From sweet to spicy to smoked to cured, chorizo is used in a number of different dishes, sometimes just for flavor but often as the star ingredient. While there are many different types of chorizo to be found in Spain, Chorizo Zamorano and Chorizo Riojano are both protected varieties, and most definitely worth trying.

Cochinillo
Known in English as suckling pig, cochinillo features a pig that has been slaughtered when it is under a month old, meaning that it weighs just six or seven kilograms, and, when slow-roasted, the meat is unbelievably tender. Roasted in huge wood-fired ovens, the meat is usually cut with the edge of an earthenware plate to showcase its tenderness, and, if you want to ensure that you are tasting an authentic variety, be sure that the pork that you are eating has come from a registered farm in the Segovia province, which is where the dish originated.

crema catalana

Crema Catalana
While many cannot tell the difference between the Spanish crema catalana and the French crème brulee, there are a few subtle aspects that set them apart. While the French version is served warm, the Catalan version is eaten cold, and features a custard that has been infused with cinnamon and lemon rather than vanilla. This makes it beautifully refreshing, and the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth on a hot Spanish day.

Pulpo a la Gallega
Pulpo a la Gallega is a dish that may not be as famous as paella and chorizo, but it is one that will truly excite each and every one of your taste buds. This dish originated in the picturesque Galicia region, which is known for their incredible seafood, and consists of Galician octopus that has been cooked with olive oil and paprika. While this may seem simple, it is the quality of the Galician octopus that makes this dish a stand-out, meaning that it cannot be authentically replicated with octopus from elsewhere.

Spain is home to a diverse and exciting culinary scene, especially in recent years as modern Spanish chefs have been taking traditional dishes to new levels. The way in which each Spanish dish has its own variety depending on the region in which you eat it is part of what makes Spanish cuisine so beautiful, so do take the time to enjoy the unique flavors that come with each dish.

The Real Spanish Tapeo

Tapas

Quintessentially Spanish, tapeo culture is at the heart of Spain’s heritage, and lively tapas bars can be found throughout the country. Rather than being a way of cooking, tapas is more about a way of eating, signifying socializing with friends and bonding with loved ones.

What is Tapas?
Tapas has made a name for itself all over the world, and is essentially a wide variety of small-portioned snacks that are traditionally served alongside alcoholic beverages. Tapas comes in all shapes and forms, from hot or cold to skewered or bubbling in clay pots to finger bites and sandwiches, and every region of Spain will have their own range of unique local tapas dishes.

The Best Time To Tapear
Tapas is such an important part of Spanish culture that there is even a verb, tapear, to describe the act of going for tapas. When it comes to the best time to tapear, this is usually in the early afternoon, between noon and 2pm, as this falls just before the Spanish lunchtime, and is when all of the local tapas bars compete with counters piled high with tempting fragrant bites. Each tapas bar will put their own unique spin on the dishes served, which is why visiting a few different tapas bars is always a popular activity in Spain.

Tapas Etiquette
Tapeo culture has its very own etiquette, and while a faux pas will not be frowned upon heavily, locals will appreciate your knowledge on this. It is usually customary for visitors to a tapas bar to not eat more than two tapas at one place, as the whole idea behind tapeo is it being a sort of gastronomic bar crawl. Since you are only going to be trying a couple of dishes at each place, you need to pay attention to how they complement each other, ordering dishes that work well together rather than those that feature opposing flavors. Tapas is usually eaten at the bar while standing, and, when it comes to paying the bill, Spaniards usually practice convida, which is where everybody pays for a round.

Popular Tapas Dishes
There are thousands of different tapas varieties out there, with the only limit being the chef’s imagination. Gambas are prawns that are sauteed in various sauces, from peppercorn to chopped chili peppers, while croquettes are a common fried dish that can be found in homes all across Spain. Patatas bravas are fried potato cubes that are usually served with a spicy salsa, and is another dish that is served up by the majority of tapas bars out there. Chorizo is another ingredient that is beautifully showcased in many tapas dishes, from chorizo al vino, in which it is slowly cooked in wine, to chorizo a la sidra, in which the chorizo is cooked in cider.

While tapas restaurants may be found all over the world, the only way to truly experience the tapeo culture is by visiting Spain. From the authenticity of the food served to the atmosphere of the bars, tapas culture is a Spanish tradition that is still thriving today.