Good Travel in Japan Includes Good Lunch

Make lunch one highlight of your days in Japan, because food is an important and celebrated part of travel in Japan.

Japanese guidebooks introduce foods, cafes, restaurants, bentos, and food souvenirs to buy for your families, friends, and colleagues. Model day trips usually consist of visiting famous sights at your destination, eating local food or visiting a popular restaurant, and shopping for omiyage souvenirs. And those souvenirs are most often food items. Japanese travel programs also focus on local foods.

Don’t know where you should go? Go somewhere for the food – soba noodles in Nagano prefecture, okonomiyaki and takoyaki in Osaka, yudofu in Kyoto. Plan a trip to eat a local specialty as you would plan a trip to visit a local attraction. Or combine the two reasons to travel.

Going to Asakusa in Tokyo? Have tempura, sushi, or monjayaki at an old local restaurant, see Senso-ji temple, and buy some of the food souvenirs the area is famous for like ningyo-yaki cakes and kaminariokoshi crackers.

Going to Matsumoto in Nagano? Visit Matsumoto castle, eat fresh soba noodles, and buy oyaki dumplings with different fillings as a souvenir.

Wherever you might visit in Japan, make use of the best lunch offers make time in your schedule to explore Japanese food.

1. Get a free upgrade. During lunch you can often get a big portion for the price of a regular one. I have seen this offered for ramen, tsukemen, and curry rice.

2. Get a free refill. Many restaurants serving teishoku style sets will offer you more rice or miso soup. At the tonkatsu restaurant Wako for example staff will serve you more miso soup, rice, and also more cabbage.

3. All you can eat. Just like a salad bar offering as much salad as you want there is buffet style all you can eat called tabehodai. Check lunch at the big hotels. Their tabehodai lunch includes a great variety of savory dishes and desert. The high quality food here is popular with Japanese visitors and the amount you eat is only limited by your appetite and usually generous time limit.

4. Lunch sets. Select a special lunch set at a sushi bar or traditional Japanese restaurant. You can expect to eat an exquisite selection for less than half of what you would pay at dinner time. These lunch sets are a good option if you want to eat at places that would usually outside your budget.

5. Bento box lunch. Boxed lunch is a good option if you want to eat outside at a park or will be on the train during the day. Of course convenience stores offer cheap lunches, but you can also get a bento that is a special treat. Check the restaurants and bento vendors near train stations. Eki-ben (train station bento) often uses local delicacies and is a celebrated class of bento in itself.

So do not forget lunch and time for meals when you design your travel. Local delicacies and restaurants will add to your overall travel experience.

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Essential Money-Saving Travel Tips for Beginners

Any plans of taking a break after a few months of stressful work? Then, travelling out of town might be a good idea. To ensure that the hard-earned money will go far, here are some of the budget travel tips to keep in mind:

• Call the hotel first before booking it through the Internet. Though it’s convenient to make travel arrangements online, it doesn’t guarantee to give travellers the best possible deals. It’s recommended to call the hotel depending on the expected time of arrival and speak with a supervisor or manager on duty.

Ask if they can offer an affordable package during the stay. Normally, some hotels would give discounts to travellers who prefer rooms that aren’t as coveted as the others. And for those who are celebrating their birthdays or anniversaries, some hotels offer complimentary upgrades for a night.

• Compare prices of airline tickets. People will prefer to purchase tickets online than over the phone because it’s more convenient. However, it’s essential to make a comparison first by calling the airline and check if the ticket price is similar to what is displayed on the Internet. When purchasing tickets, it’s also recommended to consider the extra fees. Once all of this has been made, go for the one that offers a lower rate.

• Book everything alone. Third parties such as travel agents and booking websites offering services to arrange everything seldom work for free. Normally, there’s an equivalent fee that will go to them. Travellers will save more money by booking each and every element separately through contacting their preferred hotel and airline. By doing so, they will also have the option to contact other choices for price comparison.

• Ask for repositioning cruises or flights. Airlines and cruise lines usually reposition their trips from time to time. it’s cheaper than the traditional trips but also offers similar services to customers. One thing to note though, travel time for repositioned trips may take longer than the usual.

• Avoid travelling during peak seasons. As the number of tourists goes up, the travel cost also does. Though visiting a certain country during Christmas time is a perfect idea, travellers can save hundreds of dollars on flights and hotel accommodations if they can wait to visit once the season is over.

• Share a room with a friend. Stay at the hotel is another essential thing to consider on budget when travelling. There are hotels where room rates for a single person is also the same as the cost of rooms for two persons. Instead taking separate rooms for this situation, why not get a room for two? Aside from the saved money, this will also be a good time to spend bonding moments with a friend while on vacation. Forget about the loud snoring during bedtime though.

• Travel like the locals. As tourists, riding glitzy air-conditioned buses with movies on-board is a convenient option but often comes with a hefty price. Doing this might take away the money that should be spent on exploring other places around the area.

Travelling should not be expensive. All it takes is just the right preparation, timing and budgeting. By keeping all these budget travel tips in mind, everyone can have a wonderful vacation without shedding out too much money from their pockets.

Travelling To and In Antarctica – Modes of Transport

How To Travel To and In Antarctica

There are two choices for mode of transport when traveling to Antarctica either as a tourist or to work there. It’s either by ship or aeroplane, however ship is by far the most popular, particularly for tourist cruises and voyages.

Aeroplanes are difficult and risky to get to Antarctica and they are usually reserved for trips by Personnel working there or for emergencies. The main difficulty being weather related, the aeroplane must be able to carry enough fuel to do a return trip on one tank in case it has to turn back due to not being able to land.

The trusty sea going ship is still by far the most popular, and I have to admit it is by far the most entertaining – if you don’t suffer from sea sickness. Most Antarctica tourism operators hire ice breakers or ice strengthened ships to get you there, there is definitely nothing else like seeing the ice edge as you enter the pack ice belts surrounding the Antarctica continent, and watching those massive ice bergs float silently past as a majestic albatross circles the deck above, and the occasional whale blows out a jet of water from its spout. Yep it is a once in a lifetime experience.

So once you are there how do you get around? What modes of transport are available for tourists visiting the great white ‘Deep South’ – Antarctica? Here is a brief list of transport used in Antarctica and why!

Modes of Transport in Antarctica

    • IRB’s Inflatable Rubber Boats. Probably the most versatile and most fun way to get around in Antarctica. They are used to get from ship to shore but also for sight seeing cruises around the Antarctic coast and Islands. They are however probably one of the most coldest (coolest) ways to get around. Basically you are open to the elements and the faster you go the greater the wind chill factor, however with the correct clothing and conditions they are the best way to see the splendour of the Antarctic coast, Icebergs and wildlife.
    • Quad Bikes, they are the IRB of the ice. Quad bikes are used extensively by Antarctica bases personnel. Probably not so popular amongst tourists unless you take your own, however they are versatile, all terrain vehicles, but unfortubnately again they are open to the elements. You can however get heated Helmets and Handlebars to take the chill away from the most vulnerable areas.
    • Skidoos, not as versatile as Quad Bikes but better in heavy snow conditions. Most bases and stations will have Skidoos but would not be that popular amongst tourist operators.
    • Hagglunds all terrain vehicles. If you get to visit an Antarctic base or station then chances are you will get to ride in one of these babies. They are extremely loud, slow and uncomfortable, but they are a safe warm way to get around, and they float should you have the unfortunate experience of breaking through the ice!
    • Walking or Hiking – a great way to get around and save the planet from green house gasses. For some Antarctic locations and bases that is the only way to get around on dry land/ice. At Macquarie Island this was the only mode of transport on the island but it was a great way to experience the sheer majesty of the place and the awesome wildlife.
    • Helicopter or Chopper – Most Antarctic stations and bases will have a helicopter either permanently or for the summer season to facilitate transport for scientists and during re-supplies. They are a quick and relatively easy way to get around, however they do require a number of resources including radio operators for operations, fuel caches and good weather. Some of the larger tour operators will have helicopters for emergencies and possibly for “jollies” for the tourists. Again if you are fortunate to visit a station with a helicopter you may even get a freebie ride!
  • Light propeller aeroplane. Again some Antarctic stations have light aeroplanes as a mode of transport, particularly for travelling from base to base and for scientists research where long distances need to be covered. They also require a number of resources such as radio operators, fuel caches and good weather.

That about covers it, there are other modes of transport in Antarctica but they would be for specific tasks such as tractors, bulldozers and even utilities for around the stations and bases.

So if you are fortunate enough to travel to Antarctica make the most of it and see one of the last unspoiled frontiers on this world, but please leave it that way!

Car Rentals – Take Your Time While on Vacation

Chicago is home to a lot of things. It’s nicknames represent it’s wonderful qualities and achievements. It is called the City of Big Shoulders due to it’s pioneering skyscrapers. It’s the Windy City due to the cold wind off Lake Michigan. It is the Second City since it has the nation’s second most progressive transportation systems, rich culture and flourishing economy. It is even home to President Barrack Obama. These are a few reasons why you might want to visit Chicago. And the best way to navigate this city is through Chicago car rentals.

Chicago runs third after Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s positions among the world’s major intermodal ports It is also known for being the only city with Class I railroads. Hence, you are assured that Chicago car rentals are very modern and up-to-date. Despite its world-class subways, it would also be appropriate to rent cars whenever you visit this city because it has nine interstate highways.

It has a lot to offer for business or pleasure needs. Approximately 30 million local visitors and 1 million foreign visitors come to Chicago annually. Perhaps this huge number of tourists is due to the many things one can do within the city. You can go upscale shopping at Magnificent Mile and State Street. Have a business convention in one of the country’s biggest McCormick Place. Whichever purpose you have in visiting, Chicago car rentals is the one of the best ways to travel there.

Car rentals in this city are very varied and much accessible. Some rental agencies are available through the Internet provide maps of the agencies located the area you are visiting. The maps consist of the major streets and the location of the agencies which are highlighted and numbered for easier tracking. Each number corresponds to a specific car rental agency address, contact numbers and company website. You could also put your address in the ‘directions’ icon and the agency would give specific directions from where you are to their office location.

Chicago car rentals offer a myriad of cars deals. They have special discounts for online reservations, coupons and free upgrades. Some of the car rentals there also give you rental packages: single, couples, friends, family, business. You could also change your car rental plan free of charge. The rates depend on the car brand, days you will rent and mileage. They even offer long-term leases especially for people who go there on a business trip. They could lease the car for a maximum of one month, and is renewable depending on how you have handled the car.

Chicago car rentals rates are from as low as $10 a day to $300 for long-term rentals. These rates do not include gas and insurance. However, there are some agencies that have cheap prices like at $68 inclusive of gas, insurance and 160-mileage.

If you want to screen all your car rental options, there are also online companies that review and compare all Chicago-based car rental agencies’ rates. Most of these review sites have easy-to-read comparative tables per car per agency.

Food Travel Primer And Tips

Food travel used to be a necessity back when humans had to hunt for sustenance. Now, it’s more of a pleasure and a passion for those with an urge to satisfy their taste buds. From restaurant critics forever on the lookout for a new find to culinary learning vacations and walking foodie tours, there’s a whole new world awaiting discovery.

All the major types of food travel are listed below, but those interested should realize that it’s not just about eating or taking a city tour. This has as much to do with preparing food and learning about the culture behind each dish and place. Not to mention the pleasure of the journey and getting to know each city intimately, as opposed to flying to ten different destinations just for the tourist attractions.

The single most popular type is culinary tourism. This can be in the form of visitors getting a package deal which includes a resort stay, free meals and cooking classes taught by expert chefs. It could also be a tour of a region famous for its culinary offerings, like Italy’s Tuscany, France’s Loire, California’s Napa Valley or Australia’s Hunter Valley.

Similar to culinary tourism are wine country vacations involving winery & vineyard tours and wine tastings. These areas are renowned for their fine dining restaurants offering gourmet cuisine and extensive wine lists. Wine country vacations in these scenic valleys can combine quality cuisine and wine with a leisurely getaway.

The simplest way is for foodies to take themed city tours that take visitors for a taste of the city’s best culinary offerings. This can be a walking tour of a specific neighborhood that is packed with restaurants. It can also be a bus or private vehicle tour that takes visitors all over the city to taste a specific dish or item, like a pizza or burger tour, or a visit to classic cafes or bakeries, and so on.

Wine/Beer Festivals also offer an easy way to sample many different cuisines from different regions or countries. Another trend that’s slowly getting more followers is the slow food movement. It’s a whole new subject, but let’s just say that those who have the time and patience to practice it will gain valuable insight into the local culture and learn how each dish is prepared.

Yet another big trend these days is the habit of eating at organic restaurants while on the road and frequenting only those establishments that use sustainable and local produce. Some travelers even stick to Vegan or prepare their own meals on the road to ensure it is organic and sustainable. It’s not as hard as it seems, but it does need a lot of advance planning to map out suitable restaurants along the way.

For those planning on embarking on a food travel trip or adventure, it might be worthwhile to consider becoming a restaurant critic. Most magazines and publications don’t have the budget these days to hire an in-house critic, so they’ll be happy to pay only for each restaurant review. There’s only thing better than tasting all kinds of cuisines while traveling, and that is getting paid to do the same.

Types of Worldwide Travel Insurance

For those who are looking to travel a lot in the coming years, knowledge about worldwide travel insurance is mandatory. The travel insurance schemes have many benefits and travelers must invest some time thinking about what is the right kind of insurance for them and what would they need to pay on a monthly basis or in a onetime payment. This insurance gives a person lot of peace of mind and it usually decides on factors like time period of stay, uncertainty of stay, amount of travel etc. There are many types of travel worldwide insurance.

Worldwide Travel Insurance by Location

The insurance benefits are different for different people. This means the cost and the coverage would vary from person to person hailing from different parts of the world. A good example is the insurance for European Union residents which is different from the insurance for non-European Union residents. For European residents, the policies are priced in terms of Euros which makes it easy for the tourists.

Sports Insurance

If you are an adventure enthusiast, worldwide travel insurance has many schemes which will provide you with sports insurance and also a flexible cover for participation either casually or in a competitive scenario.

Winter sports Insurance

Policy holders of worldwide insurance should also enquire and avail the benefits of risky winter sports that include heli-skiing, parapenting, off-piste, snowboard and generally skiing. Most of these policies are taken by families as a whole and children get coverage free of cost and the premium is paid for the adults.

Long stay Travel Insurance

In this case, the traveler needs a worldwide travel insurance to stay for a period as long as 18 months. This insurance in some cases also covers adventure sports during the stay and saves money for extra insurance like winter sports or skiing insurance.

Travel worldwide insurance can also be single or multi-trip. Although multi-trip would be slightly more expensive, it means you will have coverage for a given period of time and you can make as many trips to that place as you need to and your policy will still be valid. If someone toggles between two countries once a month or so, to take care of family and business, this kind of insurance is ideal as it doesn’t take the number of trips during a period into account and bulk payment is always less than individual policies for every single trip. However, if one has only one or two planned flights, then applying for a multi-trip insurance is really not advisable as it will prove more expensive. Some people prefer to take the annual insurance and then one can fly back and forth as many times as required.

Top Car Rental Questions and Answers

Every summer brings about roadways full of travelers all going somewhere on vacation, many of them in a rental car. Rental cars can be great as they can be tailored to fit the needs of a certain trip you are planning. With a rental car you are free to choose whether you need a minivan for the entire family or an economical smaller car for yourself, it’s all up to you. With renting a car, there are many questions that can be covered but there are three that usually come up every single time.

Here are the top three rental car questions and answers:

1.    QUESTION: ‘Do I need to buy the rental car insurance?’

ANSWER: Obtaining rental car insurance can be costly. In fact, there are certain instances where the insurance can cost you more than the rental itself. But you must keep in mind that YOU are responsible for the car you rent if any damages or even theft occur while the car is in your possession. Many individuals decline to get the coverage because they assume that their personal insurance or their credit card has them covered, only to find out later they were mistaken. Never assume. Always check first with your insurance company and or credit card company to see if you are fully covered. If you are not, then it is definitely to your advantage to buy the rental insurance, as you never know what might happen.

2.    QUESTION: ‘Is there any way to obtain a cheaper price than what I was quoted over the phone?’

ANSWER: Absolutely yes! Keep in mind that when you call for a price the agent is not going to tell you about any special deals that may be going on. The first step is to ask if they do have any unadvertised specials. You can also go online to book your reservation and many times this will save you money as well. While online, look for other specials like free upgrades or things of that nature that the car rental company may be offering. Triple A members can almost always save a few bucks, but only if they tell the agent that they are members. Lastly, call your credit card company. Many credit card companies work hand in hand with car rental companies and can give you a special ‘code’ that will save you additional money.

3.    QUESTION: ‘How far in advance should I book my car rental?’

ANSWER: You should always book your car rental at least one week in advance of your trip. Why? First of all you want to ensure that the vehicle you want will be available and the closer you wait until your trip, the more of a chance you have to get stuck with whatever is left on the lot. Second, and even more important, it may save you money. Here is another unadvertised special that the car rental companies will not tell you about. Really it is more of supply and demand. The longer you wait, the more the car rental companies generally charge because basically they know you will pay the fee as you have little choice. What are you going to do, walk to Disney? On the flip side though, if you book in advance, the car rental companies know you have plenty of time to call around and price shop if you are displeased with the price of the rental and so they will offer you a lower rate to try to seal the deal so to speak.

Car rental can be a headache and the car rental companies love to play the game. If you prepare yourself and know the answers to the top car rental questions, then you will not only be able to play the game with them, but win the game and save yourself some time and more importantly, money.

Great Holiday Vacations

You can enjoy some of the Caribbean vacations in St. Lucia. This is a wonderful location that has made the most of its geographical landscape and the sunny attitudes of the people who live there. There is sophistication in the trip but this is not followed by the automatic snobbery that sometimes blights some undertakings. It is a clear move away from the pretentious locations where class is still an issue. You will expect the normal Caribbean attributes including abundant rainfall, thick forests and wonderful beaches. There is a wealth of activities for people of all persuasions. You will not miss a heartbeat with the great provisions that are on offer. There are so many wonderful things that you can enjoy on the trip that it would be churlish to ignore the charms of this place.

Visiting St. Lucia in the high season

The high season is the team for tourists to flock to the area in the hope that they can experience some of the magic that makes it such a compelling destination. You can get some great deals that will not break the bank as you try to get the full benefits of the Caribbean sunshine. The island has been given the honor of a five star diamond aware from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. This is in recognition of the wonderful work that they are doing with tourism in general. They also credited with increasing the quality of services on the island. Look out for the pitons which tower over the area. These landmarks have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The revenue that is earned from increased tourism is used to develop the area further and to provide employment for young people.

The total landmass is about nineteen thousand acres which include landscape changes from spectacular mountain peaks to the rich valleys. The St. Lucia National Rain Forest is a major attraction that will give you the push into enjoying the holiday more and more. In this forest you can see wild orchids, fauna and other interesting aspects of the area. The Caribbean vacations to this area can concentrate on getting to know the nature reserve and the different life forms that are protected using its environment. The bio diversity in the area is something to be commended on all levels. They are part of the British Commonwealth but they also have an influence from the Creoles and the French conquerors. Look out for the picturesque fishing villages such as Castries, Vieux-Fort and Gros Islet.

The trip will be easy for English speakers because it is the official language but there also speak patois on a local basis. There is a French style to the architecture with gingerbread trimming for the homes and second floors that overlook the street. This is one of those Caribbean vacations where the people are even more interesting than the monuments. That is something that ought to be treasured and protected. This is one of the best locations for studying the life and culture of the people.

Travel, Accommodation and Food in Thailand

Thailand is a great country to visit because contrary to popular belief, getting to and around the country is very easy. You can get to Thailand by bus, air or rail from many different countries all over the world. There are even private chartered tours to Thailand and there is also the possibility of taking some sort of a package deal which covers your food, accommodation, travel and sometimes even activities when you get there.

Airlines

Thailand is great to visit because of how easy it is to get there. Thai Airlines flies to many of the cities in Thailand from departure points all over the world. Not only that, but many Asian airlines have flights to Thailand as well. If you’re staying in another Asian country such as Japan or China, it’s extremely easy to get to Thailand. Thailand in essence can serve as a great hub to explore the rest of Asia as it is located centrally.

Trains and buses

You can get to Thailand very easily from any of the neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh or India using very reliable train and bus services. Trains especially can be a lifelong experience because of all the different people you can have the potential to meet while traveling. Inside Thailand, trains and buses are also very reliable for getting around.

Where to stay

It’s great to visit Thailand throughout the year. The weather is temperate, sub-tropical and tropical. Regardless of where you’d like to stay in Thailand, there is always accommodation available to meet all of your needs. You can stay in luxury hotels in some of the biggest cities as well as the tourist beaches such as Phuket. You can often rent serviced apartments, guesthouses and villas. Thailand also has an excellent homestay industry. You can through a package deal be set up with a family in a village. This is known as village tourism and Thailand is one of the leaders in the world using this form of sustainable tourism.

Finally, for the more adventurous, Thailand also has many cheap but good youth hostels as well as camping grounds. Furthermore, it’s also possible to stay in health resorts and spas throughout Thailand as some of the best hot springs and thermal baths in the world can be found in this Asian country.

Gourmet cuisine

Another reason why Thailand is so great to visit is that the food is absolutely exquisite. In many places, food is available 24 hours a day, so it makes no difference when you get hungry there will always be something to eat. You can order food directly to your hotel room or eat at one of the fine restaurants in the downtown areas of the largest cities. You can also eat at some of the fantastic fast food places, which are nothing like Western fast food. They use only fresh vegetables, meat and rice and you can get amazing meals. Thai food can be sweet, spicy, savory or any mix of the above.

Travel Tips Before you Travel To a Foreign Country

There are many things that you can do to pre-prepare yourself and your family for travel. By being as prepared as you can be, you are setting yourself up for a great getaway that will minimize any unpleasant circumstances that sometimes arise with travel.

In order to have the best vacation possible, I’m going to share with you the must know tricks and travel tips before you travel.

The very first thing you must do is RESEARCH. You want to learn as much as you possibly can about your destination prior to arrival. Yes, this is going to require some time and effort on your part but it is going to be more than worth it. This is the only way to truly understand what it is you want from your vacation and what you want to do on your vacation.

Here are some things that you should always know about your destination.

Weather – You need to know what you should be packing and planning for.

Paperwork and Documentation – Know what is needed to travel to your particular destination.

Know if there are any diseases common to the area you will be traveling to – this way you are able to take preventative measures.

Costs of local items – You want to be able to properly plan your budget; remember to include taxes and tipping.

Holidays and festivals – check to see when these occur for your destination as you may find limited services on those days.

The best holidays are the ones we are most prepared for. Do yourself a favour; make it a habit to always know as much as you can about your destination before you travel. It’ll make all the difference in the world!

What are some other things that you can do to prepare yourself? Use these travel tips before you travel.

1. Make 2 photocopies of your passport. Take one and put it in a safe place or leave it with a friend. Take the other one with you and keep it in a separate place from your passport, this way should your passport become lost or stolen, you can use the copy to exit the country and it will also facilitate the replacement process.

2. Email yourself important information such as: airline numbers and flight information, credit card numbers, passport and driver’s licence numbers and anything else that may be of importance to you. This way if anything is lost or stolen, you are just and internet connection away.

3. Know your banking information. For your credit card, make sure that the valid dates will remain valid while you’re traveling, know your available spending amount and don’t forget to leave some room on it for emergencies. Check your ATM and debit cards’ daily and total limits.

4. Learn some local phrases. If you are traveling to a country with a foreign language, it’s always nice to know some of the local phrases. Knowing the “polite words” and just a few local phrases will be a huge help. You will find that natives really appreciate this and will tend to be more receptive to your questions. Maybe you’ll even make a new friend while you’re at it!

5. Be aware of the voltage that’s used for the country you’re traveling to. If you are taking anything that requires an outlet; cell phone, computer, video camera, etc. make sure to purchase plug adapters. For things such as hairdryers, curling irons, electric razors, etc to purchase an actual voltage converter unless your appliance has multiple voltage currencies.

When traveling to a foreign country it’s always best to be as prepared as you can be. Do as much research as you possibly can, remember these travel tips before you travel and your trip abroad is sure to be a success.

Here’s your final checklist: Passport, tickets, car rental and hotel reservation receipts/agreements, credit cards, medications or prescriptions, if required, addresses, password and any other important information that you may need. Don’t forget the most important thing: your adventurous travel mind, see and learn as much as you can and have the time of your life!