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If you find yourself dreaming of sunshine, sand and sparkling pools, it may be time to start looking forward to your next vacation getaway. Get a jumpstart on building excitement for the journey ahead by beginning preparations early, which offers many benefits, including better rates and more time to research your options.
Start exploring ideas for a fun-filled trip with these tips from the travel experts at Funjet, which specializes in providing travelers with vacation packages to hundreds of destinations around the world:
Booking your vacation well in advance allows you to take advantage of the best deals at the most popular hotels and hottest travel dates. In addition, by being flexible with travel dates, families can save hundreds of dollars. Moving travel dates by a day or two can result in major savings, often even more than the discounts you can get on last-minute trips.
Research Dream Destinations
Deciding where you want to go is the first step, but with a literal world of possibilities, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. One place you can find inspiration is by exploring the top travel destinations others are choosing. For example, the top 10 travel destinations booked with Funjet in 2023 include numerous international destinations. Las Vegas is the only U.S. city to make the top 10 list. Mexico is especially popular, with Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose Del Cabo. Others include Belize City, Belize; Liberia, Costa Rica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Panama City, Panama; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Consider All-Inclusive Options
Whether you prefer adults-only or family-friendly, luxury or budget-friendly, there’s a diverse range of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. All-inclusives are known for their convenience and value. They offer hassle-free experiences with meals, drinks and often activities included. While many resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean islands are all-inclusive, be aware that smaller islands like Antigua may feature European plan-style hotels, where meals and drinks are not included.
An all-inclusive package usually encompasses a variety of activities and amenities curated to offer an enjoyable and cost-effective vacation. Within these packages, guests often have the opportunity to access amenities such as swimming pools, engage in sports activities, participate in fitness classes and other entertaining experiences.
Anticipate Extra Expenses
While all-inclusive resorts make tropical getaways stress-free and economical, it’s customary to express appreciation for exceptional service with tips. Resorts typically don’t require tipping, but guests commonly tip as a gesture of gratitude. When deciding to tip, families should consider modest amounts, like $1-5 per meal per person, and be mindful of different service levels as well as the convenience of using local currency. Having cash on hand makes it easier to tip as needed and ensure you have extra for souvenirs and other purchases.
Unplug and Unwind
Although most travelers believe it’s essential to stay connected, it’s a good idea to limit screen time so you can make the most of your vacation. Schedule a specific time, preferably in the morning, to address emails and online tasks then enjoy a worry-free rest of the day. While phones are often used to capture photos and videos or look up information about nearby attractions, putting away the screens means you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, connect with loved ones and have a truly rejuvenating experience.
From reducing plastic and paper usage to supporting the local economy and doing business with credible organisations, we bring you 10 essential travel tips that help the people and places you travel to
Being a traveller in today’s world demands that we contribute positively to the destinations we are visiting. Gone are the days when people could feign ignorance about their impact on the living world. With the advent of the technological age and social media, all of us can educate ourselves on how best to serve the communities and beings in the places we visit, lessen the negative impacts of tourism, such as littering, and try our best to be conscientious citizens of planet Earth.
Here are 10 helpful ways for tourists to travel responsibly and lightly on the only home we have.
Use Jute Bags And Turn Down Plastic Ones
Jute bags are helpful to the planet as they reduce the burgeoning amount of plastic in the natural world. While littering is a serious threat, plastic materials take centuries to breakdown into microplastics, the latter of which has even been found in human placentas and whose impact on our health is currently being studied.
Use Public Transport
This tip is not limited to the confines of a city alone. For instance, Europe’s rail network connects cities within and across broders. Enjoy a train ride and slow down to appreciate the landscapes flicking past you. Use metros, trams, and buses or learn to carpool for longer distances.
If You Need To Drive, Go Electric, Hybrid Or Use Alternative Fuels
While electric vehicles may not be perfect, using them eliminates the tailpipe emissions found in petrol and diesel cars. Plan ahead by noting charging stations on your route. Hybrid vehicles are often cheaper and a good option for budget travellers. Biofuels, green hydrogen and even compressed natural gas (CNG) are worthy alternatives that help lower carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide levels.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle And Repurpose Plastic
The first step to cutting down on plastic use is by reducing the amount you buy, such as by carrying reusable water bottles and bags. If you do buy plastic items, try to get as much out of them as possible. This will also reduce your plastic consumption. Recycling plastic prevents littering and land pollution. Finally, repurposing is similar to reusing an item, except that the product is used to fulfil another goal. For instance, plastic grocery bags can double as trash can liners or to pack pet waste in.
Avoid Printing Tickets
QR codes, email and custom apps mean our phones now permit us entry into cinemas, airports, restaurants, hotels and events. Do not print tickets if you don’t have to and travel with an electronic ticket. This helps save paper and is beneficial for the planet.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 made many cities around the world expand their cycling routes as people realised the importance of being healthy and active. Opting to cycle instead of driving saves energy consumption and is also pollution-free.
Team Up With NGOs
Non-governmetal organisations have taken measures to inform the masses about the consequences of pollution, and also come up with campaigns to curb the same. Volunteering for NGOs helps travellers understand local issues and the effective methods required to prevent pollution. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to make a contribution that helps to protect the planet.
Support The Local Economy
Living in homestays, eating local food and hiring local guides are some of the best ways to give back to the local economy of the places you are visiting. Ditch mass-produced souvenirs and buy indigenous or locally-made handicrafts. This also applies to buying produce that is grown in and around the area you’re visiting.
Extend Your Stay
As much as possible, stay in one place for a long period of time to truly soak in the experience of living there. You’ll discover out-of-the-way businesses, meet people and have interesting conversations, and understand the local ecology and way of life that a short trip packed with attractions just does not allow for. Slow travel is the best way to get the most out of travelling to a place.
Respect The Living World And Do Business With Trusted Actors
If you’re booking a safari or engaging in any form of wildlife tourism, do your research to find companies, organisations and people that actually care for the animals, planets and communities in the area. Alas, a lot of organisations are jumping on the climate bandwagon and hoping to make a quick buck out of people’s well-intentioned goals of travelling sustainably. Respecting natural places means keeping to marked trails, not feeding wildlife or approaching them and carrying your litter with you until you get to a proper disposal facility.
You may have probably heard the expression, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Although that is true, your smartphone can enhance your photography skills with its features and options. A smartphone is the best handy device there is to capture high-quality photos of untouched natural wonders. Let us know how low light and motion pictures can be a challenge for smartphones, and how simple features and tricks can seriously upgrade your smartphone photography.
Here are a few smartphone travel photography tips. Have a look!
1. Clean the lens
First things first, start from scratch. Clean the lens or wipe it with a thin cloth. Because the smartphone is kept in pockets or a handbag, the smartphone tends to collect a lot of dust. Though it sounds naive, many forget to wipe the lens. A moment missed is a moment wasted. So, clean the lens and click the best picture you can.
To get more creative control, tap the screen. It consequently takes the phone off auto mode. When you have control over the image, you can focus on and choose accurate colours.
3. Use the screen
Once you focus on the image, you can swipe up/down or left/right to adjust and control the brightness. These staple features are found on all the iPhones and Android smartphones.
4. Use the volume button
If taking a candid picture is your forte, then you can use the volume minus button on your phone to take some sneaky photos of the streets, without alarming people. Use the volume button and operate your smartphone camera in stealth mode.
5. Use the burst mode
Burst mode is one of the most used features on a smartphone. Use the shutter button to capture a motion picture. Once you do that, you will have many good photos to choose from.
6. Capture in the panoramic mode
We all love a picture displaying landscape with clouds, mountains, green meadows, and rivers. It is made possible thanks to the new-age feature called panoramic mode. It lets you squeeze in a 360 degree into one photo.
7. Invest in a good lens
If you feel the camera on your phone is not good enough to take the required pictures, you can purchase a few wide lenses with excellent optics. These are apt for indoor pictures where you can fit more into the frame.
8. Blur the background
Most of the smartphones have photo feature modes such as ‘Live Focus,’ ‘Portrait’ mode, or ‘Near Far.’ It lets you blur the background and focus more on the details that have to be highlighted. It is a simple but useful feature.
9. Avoid flash
Yes! Do not use flash. Flash creates a bright spot and shadow with an uncontrollable burst of light. Instead, use a torch or a LED light, it gives you a better display of the image to click pictures.
10. Stabilise your smartphone
The most common mistake we make is to shake the phone while taking a picture. Though it an innocent mistake, it can be avoided. Use a tripod if you want a high-quality photo. You can use a timer or your earpiece to control the photo feature without disturbing the ongoing process.
11. Carry a portable battery
When multiple camera features are used on smartphones, its battery gradually tends to die out. A simple USB cable can be connected from the Portable battery to the phone. Alternatively, you can switch to aeroplane mode to conserve battery.
12. Safety comes first
To take good pictures, many lose grip on their senses. The priority has to be your safety. Nothing is worth putting your life at risk. Photography involves a range of threats. It can be natural hazards, weather conditions, tripping, vehicles, dehydration, etc. If you feel it is too much to handle, then take a break.
13. Try unique angles
Travelling provides you with an opportunity to see the world in a whole new way. It can be the vibe of the place or the culture. Instead of taking a mundane picture, try different angles to highlight the details.
14. Take candid pictures
Candid pictures create a sense of uniqueness. The more candid the pictures, the more you would feel connected to the location. Random pictures help you grow as an amateur photographer.
15. Use portrait mode for street pictures
Images are at its best when taken at eye level or from slightly above. Try using portrait mode when you want to take pictures of people on the streets.
16. Visit at an odd time
Visit the tourists’ destination at an unusual time. Avoid visiting at the peak time because tourists can ruin your postcard moment. It sure depends on what you need in the image; people do add some value to the location. But again, it is up to you.
17. Observe and copy
If you want to experiment, observe how other people are taking pictures and add some interesting perspective to the image.
18. Stroll a bit before you pull out your smartphone
Photos can be satisfying, but sometimes it takes away life out of the location. It is good to observe and experience the place around you before you start clicking pictures. It provides you with a sense of purpose and a unique perspective on photographic opportunities.
19. Look for reflections
Nothing beats a reflection of a high monument or a tree on the surface of the water. You can use mirrors and car windows too. It will add a better and new perspective to your pictures.
20. Avoid filters
A real image adds more grace and uniqueness to the location. The more the filters are used, the more you would diminish the authenticity.
21. Choose the right time to shoot
Consider the time of the day that may be the best for you to capture a particular location. It is always recommended to shoot in the afternoon as there would an abundance of sunlight, which would help you capture the best moments.
Learn how to be prepared for driving in snow
Driving in snow and icy conditions can present motorists with several challenges. Freezing temperatures can mean that you might struggle to get your car started in the first place, while low visibility and slippery road surfaces can make driving a struggle.
That’s why it’s key to take good care of your vehicle and adjust your driving style to the conditions.
How to drive in snow
In short, our key tips for driving in snow are:
- Accelerate gently when moving off in snow, avoiding harsh speeds that could cause wheelspin
- Start off in second gear using low revs, and ease your foot off the clutch gently
- Instead of using the brake pedal, cycle down the gears to use engine braking (you can tap the brake pedal lightly to make drivers behind aware that you’re slowing down)
- Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front
- Stay in a higher gear and avoid braking as much as you can
- Use your headlights in heavy snow
- If you do start skidding, stay calm, steer into the skid and avoid sudden movements like hitting the brakes
- If your driving an electric or hybrid car, adjust the regenerative braking to a lower setting
Deciding whether to drive in snow
Driving during bad weather should start with the basic question: do I need to leave the house? If you can avoid driving when conditions outside are unpredictable and potentially dangerous, you should. And if you can plan around forecast weather warnings, you might be able to avoid the worst of it.
But if you have to be on the roads when the snow’s falling and the temperature’s dropping, here are some things you can do to stay as safe as possible.
Before you start driving in the snow
Plan your journey – by preparing your route beforehand, sticking to main roads (which are more likely to be gritted and cleared) and keeping an eye on any traffic updates, you stand a better chance of avoiding an incident or serious delay.
Get your car in shape for the snow – much like we bundle ourselves up and make sure we’re physically ready for the weather, your car needs some hands-on preparation too.
De-ice and de-mist your windscreen
It’s illegal to drive without full vision, so you’ll want to make sure to properly defrost your car windscreen before setting off. In short, you’ll need to:
- Make sure your wipers are switched off and aren’t frozen to the glass before you start your car
- Start your engine and turn on your windscreen and rear window heaters, if you have them, along with the air-con, and stay with your car while it clears up
- Clean off any excess snow from your car and front grille with a soft brush
- Wait for all of the glass to completely clear before driving
- If you own an electric or plug-in hybrid, pre-heating may be available while on charge
Make sure your lights are working
Ensure all your lights are working and visible. Clean off any snow and dirt before any journey. This will allow you to see clearly but also to be seen by other road users.
Check your fuel or EV charge
This one might seem simple, but if you run out of fuel or EV charge in the winter, then you won’t be able to keep warm in your car in the event that you get stuck or have a breakdown. Believe it or not, a large number of breakdowns attended by AA patrols are for empty fuel tanks.
Expert tips for driving in snow
- Make sure to wear warm clothing, with appropriate footwear (make sure your footwear is dry so that you don’t slip off any of the pedals – you can keep a small towel in your car for this)
- Bring a pair of sunglasses (heavy snow can cause glare from the sun, reducing your visibility)
- Set off earlier than you would if you’re making the journey to work or travelling a route you always travel. This will allow you to have the extra time to drive calmly and sensibly
- Be gentle on the throttle, avoiding any harsh acceleration which is likely to cause wheel spin
- In manual-geared cars, pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel spin
- To slow down, use engine braking through the gears – just touch the brake pedal lightly to show brake lights to others behind
- If you’re driving an electric or hybrid car, adjust the regenerative braking to a lower setting
- Leave as much room as you can between your vehicle and the one in front of you
- If you’re approaching a hill, drop well back or wait until it’s clear of traffic so you won’t have to stop part-way up. Keep a constant speed and try to avoid changing gear on the hill
- Take bends in the road slowly, making sure to brake before you start turning the steering wheel
- If you do start to lose control or skid, it’s important to remain calm. Make sure to steer gently into any skid and don’t make any sudden movements like braking harshly
- Use a higher gear and try to avoid braking throughout your journey. Shift down through the gears to slow down
- If you drive an automatic car, check your manual to see if your car has a setting for icy conditions
- Use your headlights in heavy snow. Daytime running lights won’t be enough, and there’ll be no lighting at the back of your car. You’ll need to make sure you can see ahead and cars behind you know you’re there
- If you’re driving in heavy snow, be aware that the parts of the road with tyre tracks from other drivers are likely to be more icy than anywhere else
- Think about your current driving environment. Just because the conditions might have improved on main roads, country roads or bridges might still be hazardous due to less traffic or because they’ve not been gritted
- When you’re driving in icy conditions or snow, you should always be more cautious for at least a few days after
What’s the stopping distance in snow?
In bad weather conditions, remember that a car’s stopping distance will be considerably longer. Also, if snow is falling heavily it will reduce how far ahead you can see, so you should drive much more slowly and give yourself longer to react. Secondly, braking distances can be doubled in wet conditions – and increased by at least 10 times on snow or ice.
The stopping distance at 30mph in normal conditions is 23 metres, which equates to 75 feet. In snowy conditions, your stopping distance at 30mph could be as high as 230 metres or 750 feet.
How to drive on ice
The advice for driving on ice doesn’t differ too much from driving in snowy conditions. If possible, avoid driving, but if you must drive, make sure to prepare well before you set off – check your fuel and make sure your mobile phone is fully charged (in case you get stuck).
When driving, accelerate gently, get into a higher gear as soon as possible, and reduce your speed in general. Keep an eye on the vehicle in front of you as this can give a clue to where patches of black ice are (you may see the vehicle in front skidding slightly).
Driving on black ice
Black ice is a thin layer of ice on the road surface that’s usually transparent. Because it’s very difficult for drivers to see, it can be one of the biggest dangers of winter driving. It’s important you know how to react if you hit a patch of black ice on the road. Black ice is caused by rain falling on frozen surfaces. It tends to form on parts of the road that don’t get much sun – tree-lined routes and tunnels – as well as on bridges, overpasses and the road beneath overpasses.
When it’s cold and there’s a risk of ice:
- If it’s slippery, do everything slowly as things can go wrong very quickly.
- Avoid harsh braking and acceleration or aggressive steering; reduce your speed smoothly and use brakes gently.
- If you do hit black ice, keep calm and avoid sudden or aggressive manoeuvres – don’t hit the brakes but lift of the accelerator fully and try to keep the steering straight, allowing the car to pass over the ice.
Do you need winter tyres?
Most drivers will get some safety benefit from fitting winter tyres because of the improved grip they provide in cold and wet conditions – they’re not just for snow and ice. But they’re an expensive option and not without hassle as you’ll have to store a set of tyres and swap them over twice a year.
As an alternative to winter tyres, consider ‘all-season tyres’ which can be left on all year round.
Or if you live in a rural area where snow’s common but roads rarely gritted, then a set of snow chains to get you to the nearest main road might be the answer.
Do you need snow socks or snow chains?
Snow socks (tyre socks) and snow chains are generally used less in the UK compared to other countries in Europe. If you live in a somewhat busy area, the likelihood is that you won’t need snow socks or snow chains because our roads are often gritted in the winter. However, if you live in a more rural area where there’s less chance of gritting, then you might want to consider purchasing some to keep in your car, just in case.
If you’re planning to travel to countries like Austria, Germany, France and Switzerland, it’s actually mandatory to have snow chains or snow socks in certain areas, so make sure to do your research before setting off.
Is it illegal to drive with snow on your car?
It’s not illegal to drive with snow on your car, but the law does stipulate that all the windows on your car need to be clear so that you can see through all of them. It would make sense to always clear your roof and windows of snow at the very least. Snow on the top of your car could slide and shift when you brake and accelerate, for example, and fall onto your windscreen, obstructing your view of the road.
If you get into an accident with snow on your windows, this could be viewed as dangerous driving.
How to drive uphill in snow
If you’re approaching a hill, make sure to drop well back or wait until it’s clear of traffic so you won’t have to slow down or stop while at an incline. Keep a constant speed and try to avoid changing gear on the hill. If you can get to the top of the hill smoothly then you’ll reduce your chances of stalling or getting into trouble half way up.
How to drive downhill in snow
When driving downhill in snow, don’t use the neutral gear if you’re in a manual car. Instead, use a low gear and only use the brakes gently if you need to. Ideally, use engine braking by going down through the gears with very light taps of the brake to show any road users behind you that you’re slowing down.
As with driving uphill in snow, try to hang back and let traffic clear (if there’s nobody behind you) so that you can traverse the hill without stopping and starting in traffic.
How to drive rear-wheel drive in snow
Again, our advice would for driving a rear-wheel vehicle in the snow would be to leave plenty of time for your journey, so that you can drive a bit slower. If you find that your rear wheels aren’t getting much traction, you can also try weighting down the rear of your vehicle with sandbags or bags of dirt. Place these in the boot for the best effect.
Alternatively, you can also invest in snow chains or snow socks for your tyres, if the rear-wheel drive is making things particularly challenging.
How to drive front-wheel drive in snow
For front-wheel drive cars, you should avoid accelerating into turns, as this will cause under steer and a loss of control. Instead, ease off the acceleration and approach turns at a lower speed than usual. Snow tyres and snow socks can help if you’re losing control often in a front-wheel drive car.
Generally, you should anticipate any movements you’ll need to make ahead of time so that you can be fluid and smooth, rather than hurried. Jerky movements are your enemy when driving a front-wheel-drive car in the snow.
How many inches of snow is unsafe to drive in?
Driving in light snow is significantly more dangerous than driving in clear conditions. So, if you have a large amount of snow and your journey isn’t essential, it’s best to avoid driving if possible. Generally, a car with large snow tyres (with either snow chains or snow socks equipped) would be able to handle 4-6 inches of snow relatively well. More than this, and you’ll be taking a significant risk.
How to drive an automatic car in snow
Our advice for driving an automatic car in the snow is the same as for a manual vehicle. Plan ahead, drive slowly, and anticipate your moves so that you won’t have to make any sudden decisions while driving.
If you have a newer model of automatic car, do check if you have a ‘snow mode’ or ‘winter driving mode’ – these will ensure that your car sets off in second gear, avoiding wheel spin. Power delivery to the wheels will also be reduced, giving you more control. You won’t be able to use engine braking in an automatic car, so it’s vital to reduce speed and only brake gently.