Essential Travel Tips for St Martin

St Martin is split between St Martin (French) and St Maarten (Dutch) offering an eclectic combination of European and Caribbean cultures. Dream vacations don’t always go to plan so follow these tips to make sure your vacation to the Friendly Island is perfect.

St Martin

Get an Awesome Place to Stay:

What could be better than waking up and seeing the ocean from your bedroom window? Tourists have the choice between luxury St Martin vacation home rentals and resorts. Do your homework and choose a nice place to stay with an even better view. If this is a dream vacation, make sure you stay somewhere perfect.

Rent a Car:

When arriving at the airport, get yourself a car. Driving is the fastest and most convenient way of seeing the island on your own terms. Several companies will try to give you extra things, but you don’t need anything apart from the vehicle itself. The roads are relatively clear and driving is a pleasure on both parts of St Martin. Clear road signs and efficient maps help tourists get around without any problems.

Avoiding Theft:

Compared to other destinations in the Caribbean, St Martins is a safe island. But this doesn’t stop opportunistic thieves from operating on unsuspecting tourists. Car theft isn’t unheard of along the beach, which can lead to a miserable experience. And then there are the extra fees you may need to pay at the rental company to repair the damage. The solution is easy. Don’t leave anything inside the car and keep the windows down on a clear day. Potential thieves won’t even look twice at the car as you’re showing that nothing valuable is inside.

Avoid the Tourists:

St Martin has always been a typical stop on cruise ships around the Caribbean. Vast numbers of liners and ships pull up in Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch St Maarten, and hordes of passengers disembark. Front Street and the Boardwalk are their first calling point, which makes it very crowded during the daytime. This area is worth visiting to enjoy the sites and duty-free shopping. But, don’t spend too much time here as there are other much better places. And it’s advisable to avoid the area after nightfall when a few dodgy characters come out.

Explore Both Sides of the Island:

The Dutch Side attracts visitors looking for a touristy experience. St Martin on the French Side has a more natural, laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can freely pass between the two administrative regions without needing to show their passport or face other bureaucratic complications. And both have something different and unique to offer tourists. The island itself is small (87km2) making it easy to get around. Take advantage and explore the island. However, the signs are in different languages and calling someone from one side to the other is actually an international call!

Spending Money:

Tourists tend to rely on their credit cards more often when they take a vacation. St Martin is no different. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter problems with the card machine in shops and restaurants for one reason or another. If you’re carrying a limited amount of cash, it’s advisable to check with the restaurant before you order to make sure your credit card will work. Another point worth mentioning is that some of the receipts may have the entire card’s number rather than blanking sections out. Make sure you check before throwing it away.

Tipping Etiquette:

Check your receipts carefully after ordering a meal as some will include an additional 15% tax or service charge. Some places add this whereas others don’t. Unsuspecting tourists who don’t check their bills end up paying the service fee and an additional tip. St Martin is an expensive island to visit and leaving an extra can equal 30% of the total cost of the bill. It’s entirely up to you and more research is needed on your behalf. But, wouldn’t you rather spend the extra money taking a day trip to Prickly Peak or renting snorkelling equipment?

Drinking Water:

The tap water is safe to drink in St Martin. Locals drink from the tap and many tourists do too. Bottled water is expensive on the island, especially when you’re eating at a restaurant. If you ask for water, specify that you want tap water (free of charge) rather than a small bottle that costs several dollars. The feeling of paying for something, albeit at a low cost, when you can get it for free isn’t ideal for a perfect vacation.

Take a Day Trip to One of the Islands:

St Martin is surrounded by a number of smaller islands, which make for a good day trip. Some have an active infrastructure for tourists whereas others are completely unpopulated and have quiet, secluded beaches. Popular trips are to Saba, St Barths, and Prickly Pear. The first two have a number of restaurants, bars, and lodging whereas Prickly Pear is completely uninhabited. Activities on the islands include snorkelling in the reefs, sunbathing, and water sports.

If you want to travel a little further afield, take the ferry and visit Anguilla. This British Overseas Territory offers a different vibe and experience to St Martin. Regular ferries depart every day between Marigot and Anguilla every 20 minutes or so from 7.30 am until 7 pm. Remember to bring your passport.

Trip of a Lifetime:

St Martin makes for a great and diverse travel destination, but unsuspecting tourists can get caught out. Follow our tips and avoid the mishaps to make sure your perfect vacation stays perfect.

Places to Travel in Your Senior Years

places to visit

When you reach the age when you no longer have to worry about promotions, paychecks, and kids, it is time for you to dedicate your time to yourself. And is there a better way to do so than travelling? However, before deciding on the destination, take into consideration the following health tips if you want to enjoy your trip fully. Make sure you avoid prolonged periods of standing and sitting, wear compression stockings, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, caffeine and tight-fitting clothes, and equip yourself with dietary supplements, such as vitamins C and E.

Australia

Even though it is the leader among most remote countries in the world, ironically, Australia is one of the most popular tourist destinations. And if you haven’t been there, now is a perfect time. First of all, Australia is the home to many beautiful natural landscapes, such as the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the biggest reef systems with the most diverse marine life in the entire world, as well as the unique iron 8-kilometer-long Uluru rock, and 50 000-km-long coastline with breathtaking beaches and lush jungles. Besides nature, Australia offers an unforgettable tourist experience with various luxury retirement communities and hotels, amazing cities, lifetime supplies of wine, and, of course – Aussies everywhere.

Greece

A home to democracy and western civilization, as well as the richest history that goes thousands of years back, Greece is a place you have to see. Filled with countless archaeological sites and museums, it will provide you with a great insight into the ancient culture. The weather is sunny and warm from April all the way to October, which is great if you love to enjoy the sea and beaches.

Make sure you spend at least three days in Athens, where you have it all – great food, friendly locals and ancient ruins.

Portugal

Portugal is a country that is going to delight you, even though it is often overlooked. Travelling around it is super easy and quick. For example, it takes only 2,5 hours to get from Lisbon to Porto by train. Besides amazing cities, Portugal has some incredibly charming villages, castles, and cathedrals, as well as 1800-kilometer-long coastline and Douro Valley which is famous for high-quality wine. Also, make sure you don’t miss a national folk music performance aka Fado performance at A Capella in Coimbra.

When it comes to food, note that food portions are large and surprisingly affordable. Unless you haven’t eaten in days, always opt for a half portion or ‘meia dose’. Make sure you have a taste of their finest egg tart called ‘pastel de nata’ at Pastéis de Belém near Lisbon.

Argentina

Argentina is a huge country where you can hardly manage to see everything even if you spend a few months there. You can go hiking around countless lakes, climb the mountains, see penguins, ride a boat to a glacier, enjoy the scenery of the biggest waterfalls in the world, visit various museums, churches and, of course – go shopping. There are always some kind of live dance performances on the streets, different shows and opportunities for taking dance lessons – who says older generations cannot work it?

Since the country is huge, it can be quite expensive, so there are some hacks that can help you save some cash: take the night buses instead of expensive flights since they are comfortable, safe, and affordable, or spend your time only in one region. If you are aiming towards seeing some mind-blowing landscapes, opt for Patagonia, Lake district and Iguazu falls, and if you are more of an escape-the-crowd type of person, visit the cities, such as Cordoba and Salta. Note that summer in Argentina lasts from December to March, which makes it a great winter destination for all the Northern tourists.

Mexico

If you are travelling solo, opt for the Pacific coast and places such as Oaxaca and Guanajuato because they are a bit more authentic than those on the Caribbean coast. Speaking of authenticity, Mexico City has also started to reinvent itself into a culture capital with a great food scene. Also, it is also pleasant to walk around and explore.

Mexico is quite colorful, sunny and affordable at the same time. Besides that, it is home to various indigenous groups and their unique customs, handicrafts, foods and archaeological sites such as Maya, Aztec, and Zapotec, as well as the friendliest locals you will ever see.

Japan

This clean and safe country is different than any other in the world. It is the only place where taxi drivers are wearing white gloves and where you can order meals from a display of plastic food dishes. And don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Japanese – you will have no trouble finding your way around.

Hotels in Japan usually charge per person rather than per room – which is great if you want to travel solo. Also, add their delicious food and their politeness, as well as respect for the elders, and you have a winner. It is needless to say, but make sure you don’t miss Tokyo and Kyoto.

How do you like these suggestions? Where did you choose to go? Feel free to comment below.
We hope you’ll have a wonderful trip – Bon voyage!

Time to Travel: How to Prepare for Going Abroad

If you are planning on traveling to another country sometime in the near future, you can probably barely contain your excitement about the upcoming adventure. Though it’s important to think clearly, so you can take care of things before you leave. Make sure you take the time to do these things before leaving for your trip, and leave room for any extra tasks you didn’t think about.

 

travel abroad
image credits: pixabay.com

 

Take Care of Your Health

First and foremost, you have to take care of your health before you go anywhere. See your dentist or oral surgeon in Tampa, and have any cleaning or exams you need done. As Westchase Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center remind us, insurances will often not cover you if an emergency should happen while abroad. Have a physical done and make sure you have all of your immunizations. It’s important to make sure your body is strong and healthy enough to travel, plus you shouldn’t have to worry about having any dental work or medical care done while you’re overseas.

 

Make Sure Your Papers are in Order

Get all your papers in order before leaving. Make sure your passport is up-to-date, and submit any visa requests as far in advance as possible. Ensure that your flying plans and accommodations are fully secured before your anticipated travel date. Handling everything as far in advance as possible can help you save money, and ensure your travel plans aren’t delayed or ruined.

 

Arrange for Your Belongings to Be Cared For

You might be nervous about leaving your home and belongings behind when you travel, so make sure you have a plan in mind for taking care of everything. Consider putting your items in storage if you rent, then, you can move out of your rental and save money if you are going to be overseas for a while. Otherwise, consider installing security cameras and a burglar alarm in your home, and ask a friend or neighbor to take care of things for you. Arrange for things like someone to take care of your pets, bring in your mail, and keep your home as well-kept as possible.

As you can see, there are a few things you need to take care of before you make plans to leave for your overseas trip. Luckily, following these tips can help make for the best possible trip when you do leave.

 

Travelling on a Shoestring Budget: How to Do It

Just about anybody can go travelling. Whether your dream is to travel to one country in particular or to travel to multiple countries, anybody can do it – even on a shoestring budget! If you’re very careful, you can still have the time of your life while travelling. Let’s take a look at a few different tips that can help you along the way:

 

travel luggage
Image credit: anaa yoo on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/8LeC4c

 

Search Online for Good Deals

 

The first thing you need to do is search online for good deals. Sites such as Tripadvisor and Skyscanner are great for this. On Tripadvisor you can read real reviews of places to stay, and get an idea of where you’re better off going. Skyscanner will allow you to compare flights, hotels, and other aspects of travel to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal for your budget. It’s all about proper planning at this stage!

 

Eat Street Food

 

While you’re away, the best thing you can eat is street food. You can usually get a full meal for very little at all. Although you might be tempted to eat out at restaurants, I’d only do this once in a blue moon if you want your shoestring budget to stretch further. Street food is usually delicious, and you get a real taste of the place you’re staying.

 

Travel Light

 

By travelling as light as possible, you may save money on luggage costs. You’ll also save yourself the hassle of dragging a load of heavy stuff with you every time you go some place new. Anything you need you’ll be able to find while you’re travelling. This means you’ll also be living like a real traveller! You can find more tips on this here.

 

Couch Surf

 

The cheapest way to stay in a certain place is to couch surf. Couch surfing isn’t mainstream yet, but it’s certainly becoming more popular. In most cases, it’s free to stay on a stranger’s couch. Don’t worry though; this is all done through a proper website, so you know you’re unlikely to be kidnapped by a crazy person. This isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, I know that. If it’s not yours, the best thing you can do is check multiple accommodation sites to find the right place for you. You can check out some deals here.

 

Find Some Work

 

If you plan on travelling for a long time, then you may need to find some work while you’re over there. Saving up as much money as possible before you start your travelling journey is always a good idea, but your budget may dwindle faster than you think. If this happens to you, find some work to make ends meet. You’ll still be able to have a great time if you find some part time work in a bar, for example! You’ll also meet some great locals, and possibly more traveller friends.

 

Just about anybody can travel with the right attitude and knowledge. You don’t need to have thousands of pounds behind you to get started! Use these tips and see how far you get. Have fun!

Packing Right: Travel Hacks You Need to Know

Knowing what to pack can be a difficult and daunting task before any vacation. Sometimes we take too many things with us, and need to cut down on space. Using these helpful travel hacks will make packing a whole lot easier. This article is going to cover some travel hacks every traveler needs know before hitting the road.

packing
Image credits to: Brent Hellickson on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/8z4ARK

 

Packing Light

We all know the feeling of wanting to pile up everything in the bag, just in case, but most likely you’re not going to use all that stuff. Packing light will save you time, money, and energy. You can buy whatever you need once you reach your destination. Adding more luggage than necessary will only add extra fees to your plane ticket if you’re flying. Leave all of your soaps and shampoos at home. The hotel you’re visiting will, most likely have some there for you to use. Leave your bulky laptop, smartphone, videos games, and cameras at home as well. Bring a tablet instead. These tablets have all of those entertainment devices rolled into one.

 

Pack Neatly

Organizing your stuff will significantly increase the amount of space you have in your bag. Roll up your clothes instead of folding them as this will create more room for packing. Everything you want to take with you will connect together similar to Lego blocks. Keep shoes packed tight at the bottom and make sure you have a place to put dirty clothes for later. According to staff at the BCMI Mgmt hotels in Lloydminster AB, when suitcases are neatly packed away during the day, it is much easier for cleaning as well.

 

Keep Important Documents Separated

Don’t keep your credit cards, debit cards, IDs, and passport all in one place. Mix them up in different areas. If one item gets lost, you won’t lose everything. Make copies of your passport and IDs so just in case you lose something, you’ll have some documentation to present to the embassy if they ask to see proof of your identity. If you lose your cards, you can always cancel them and spend your cash money, and vice versa, if you lose cash, you can always use your debit cards to take money from an ATM.

Keep these travel tricks in mind when packing, and you should be fine. You can become a travel packing expert in no time. Make sure you’re safe and have everything you need. Have a great trip.