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.

Share Button

No Budget, No Problem: How To Successfully Transform Your Home When Funds Are Tight

A happy home life is something that we all deserve, which is why making improvements to the property is a key item on every homeowner’s agenda. Completing those jobs can enhance our daily lives while they often have a positive impact on the value of our most valued assets. Sadly, though, a lack of capital is the major stumbling block that stops many people from turning their visions into a reality.

When funds are tight, it can be tempting to give up. There are ways to bypass those perceived problems, however. Here’s all you need to know.

Accessing Funds

Just because you don’t have cash at your disposal right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t access extra capital. Unsecured loans for homeowners allow you to gain funds for home upgrade plans without borrowing against the property. Better still, this option is open to those without perfect credit scores too.   

Of course, taking out a loan for luxury products and holidays is probably a bad idea. Nonetheless, improving the home is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run. Besides, ignoring necessary jobs could come back to haunt you.

Take The DIY Route

Make no mistake; some jobs are best left to the professional. Still, removing (or at least reducing) labour costs is the easiest way to cut the overall expense. In this age of online tutorials and affordable materials, there’s no excuse for ignoring this option.

Creating a new atmosphere through the use of stylish lighting is an easy job that brings a massive impact. On a similar note, a few coats of paint can transform the look of the walls and the vibe of the entire home. Meanwhile, simple decks and garden projects can be completed at a leisurely pace, which is great news for your budget and sanity.

Think Beyond Money

Adding value isn’t simply about increasing the potential sale price of the property. Sometimes, the best upgrades are the ones that actively improve your life. In many cases, simplicity is the answer.

Upcycling is a popular trend right now, not least because it saves money. There are many tasks, such as using old toys to improve a child’s bedroom, which will give your home that special glow. Meanwhile, repurposing organizational folders by using adhesive tape can add extra storage space. This can quickly create more room throughout the property. With a little creative thinking, great things can be achieved.

Put Safety First

It’s great to have the luxury entertainment items, but the property will never feel like home unless it is safe. Installing CCTV cameras is easy while advanced tech means that they are now cheaper than ever too. Frankly, they will instantly give you that peace of mind needed to enjoy home life to an even greater level.

Of course, childproofing the home is equally important. Meanwhile, you must be vigilant to leaks and damaged structural features. Let those necessities take priority over cosmetic jobs, and your capital will be used to far greater effect.

You’ll gain a better home without ruining your financial status. What more could any homeowner ask for?

 

Image source:

Image 1 – http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/photo-475883

Image 2 – pixabay.com

 

Share Button

5 Easy Bike Maintenance Tips

Riding a bike is good for health or weight loss. However, a bike can only serve this purpose if it is maintained well. A bike that is maintained works smoothly, lasts longer and is less prone to accidents.

bike

It is uncommon to find people who do not know how to maintain their bikes in the right manner. Here are the top five tips you need to consider.

Keep the Tires Inflated

The pressure of the tires has a significant impact on the quality of a bike. A low tire pressure means that you have to work harder on the pedals to keep the right speed than tires with high pressure. Tires with low pressure are also more susceptible to flats than those that are well inflated.

You need to invest in a quality floor pump with a gauge to help keep the pressures of the tires at suitable levels. The rear tire should have more pressure since it handles most of the weight. You should check the pressure of the tires at least once in two weeks.

In case you are changing a tire, run your fingers along the inside of the rim to check for foreign objects. Foreign objects such as gravel or pieces of glass can pinch the tire against the rim and cause a flat. Also, check the new tube to make sure it is not caught between the tire and the rim.

Adjust the Brakes Correctly

You want to make sure your brakes respond correctly when you need them. They can only perform correctly if you adjust and repair them.

You first have to test the performance of your brakes by pressing the brake levers while the bike is moving. If you pull the lever until it touches the handlebar, then your brakes need some adjustments.

You can adjust the brakes using the barrel in the brake lever. Making the screw in the barrel tight moves the brake pads closer to the rim. You may also unscrew the bolt holding the wire and straighten or tighten the wire before screwing the bolt back.

It is also imperative you keep the pads and all components of the braking system free from dirt. You can use alcohol-based products for cleaning.

Clean Your Bike Regularly

A clean bike is easier to ride than one with mud and dirt everywhere. It also becomes easier to spot a problem and deal with it without too much trouble if your bike is clean. For instance, fixing a flat tire is often difficult when the bike is dirty because you cannot locate the point of puncture.

All you need to clean your bike is a bucket of warm water, detergent that cuts grease, a few sponges and at least two brushes. Make sure you wet the entire bike to loosen any mud or grime before you use the brush. This way, you won’t scratch the paint, which is what normally happens when you begin scratching with a brush before wetting the whole surface.

Make sure every part of the bike is clean, including the brake pads and rims. It is also a good idea to inspect the bike for any faults as you clean.

Keep the Drivetrain Lubricated

A bike that produces a rattling and squeaking sound is embarrassing and annoying, especially when you are riding in a group. You can save yourself from the embarrassment by cleaning and greasing your drivetrain regularly. The squeaking sound is produced when the metals rub against each other due to insufficient grease.

It is also not cheap to replace the worn out parts, so make sure you regularly clean and grease the drivetrain to save some money. You will require some rags, bike oil and de-greasers. You may also require a toothbrush and screwdriver to access the inner parts of the chains and wheels.

Make Sure the Bolts and Nuts are Tight

Make sure all the screws, bolts and nuts in the bike are where they should be by checking if they are loose. Screws and bolts often come off as a result of the constant vibration when you are riding. Some bolts, especially those holding the head tube and handlebars, can cause serious accidents when they come off.

Make sure you don’t tighten the bolts too much. Some bolts have the torque limit written on them. You can buy a bike multi-tool that applies only a specified amount of torque.

Share Button

Quick Cooking Tips For Meals In A Jiffy

cooking tips

After a busy day at work, not many of us want to get home and have to spend a couple of hours cooking a healthy family meal. Rather than spend our evenings cooking, many of us end up relying on takeaways and ready meals as a result. But that’s no way to live! The only way to ensure that you follow a healthy diet is to cook your meals from scratch, even if you are running short of time. If you want to make sure you can enjoy a healthy diet even when you are pushed for time, you just need to know these great little tips that can help you really speed up your cooking!

Warm Up Your Oven

What’s the very first step in all recipes? Usually, they always start with heating up the oven. There’s a very good reason for this – it can often take quite a while for your oven to heat up to the required temperature, especially if it needs to be on high. So, rather than waiting around to put your creation in to bake, make sure you turn on your oven first. But the time you need to use it, it will be nice and hot enough!

Don’t Wait For The Kettle

Another part of cooking that can really hold you up is waiting around for the kettle to boil. This is often the case when you need to get boiling water to cook your pasta in. Trust me, waiting for the kettle is a lot quicker than waiting around for a pan of water to boil on the hob! But you can even reduce the time you wait for the kettle by using hot water taps instead. These are taps that are fitted onto your sink and release hot, boiling water. Just make sure your kids don’t go anywhere near them!

Freeze Your Herbs

If your recipe requires fresh herbs, you might find that you spend quite some time chopping them up. Herb plants are often very small and fiddly, and making sure you get all the leaves off and chop them finely enough can be, to put it lightly, a real pain in the neck! But next time you have some free time, you should chop up all the herbs that you currently have, and then freeze them in ice cubes. Then, when you need them in a recipe, you just have to throw in a cube! Easy peasy!

Always Be Neat And Tidy

It can be easy to create a big mess when you are busy cooking. But all this clutter and waste can sometimes get in the way and slow you down. So, be systematic when you are cooking or baking, and be sure to clean as you go. You will also find that this helps you keep your stress levels down, as you won’t be faced with a huge pile of rubbish to clean up afterwards!

Why not help yourself to a beer with your meal – you certainly deserve it after all that speedy cooking!

Share Button

What is the best way to store your bike?

If you have spent money on a decent bike you want to do everything you can to make sure it remains in good condition. With this in mind, you need to pay attention to bike parking and storage. It’s important to make sure that your bike is always stored in a secure manner, and that it’s best protected against wear and tear.

 store your bike

We are going to look at how you should store your bike once you have finished riding. We are also going to give you some other tips on how to best take care of your bike.

Storing your bike after riding

It’s not a good idea to store your bike on its tyres, so you may want to think about hanging your bike. This storage solution has the added advantage of being useful if you have a limited amount of space. Alternatively, you can invest in a hoist which enables you to suspend your bike from the ceiling. Wherever you decide to store your bike, it’s important that you protect it from the elements and that you ensure it is secured. You do not want someone to just be able to drive up and throw your bike into the back of a van.

Other tips for taking care of your bike

If you want your bike to remain in good working order, it’s important that you take good care of it. Here are some useful tips on how to do this.

  • No matter how much of a rush you are in, never put your bike away dirty, after a ride. It’s worth spending just a few minutes wiping off the grime and dirt, to protect its condition.
  • Never ride your bike if any of the parts need replacing. As soon as you notice that frayed brake cable, get it replaced. It’s just not worth taking the risk of having an accident, or your bike breaking down when you are miles away from home.
  • Never carry out maintenance on your bike if you do not have the expertise, or the tools that you need. If you attempt to do this you could be doing more harm than good.
  • Always check the tyre pressures before you ride. Make sure that there is enough air in the tyre, but never over inflate. Remember that tyre pressures should be adjusted for weather conditions. The pressure should normally be a little lower for bad road conditions than for good; this enables you to have better contact with the road surface.

All of these tips can help you keep your bike in good condition.

Hopefully, we have shown you how important a good storage solution is in helping to maintain the condition of your bike. It’s one of the most important factors in an overall bike care routine. If you look after your bike, and store it wisely, you should help extend its life and maintain its performance levels.

Share Button