Save by cooking on vacation

Save by cooking on vacation
Save by cooking on vacation

One of the biggest excuses that’s used each year not to take vacation, the expense, is a main factor when deciding where to head on holiday. Whether wanting to travel too far, take several weeks away from work, or just simply can’t find enough reason to spend the extra dough, thousands of potential vacationers will opt out each year. Of course, these numbers have continued to shrink ever since the onset of travel deal sites, which compile discounted fares into single aggregation space. However, even with these deep discounts, certain fees still cannot be avoided – accommodations (unless staying with some friendly hosts), transportation (fuel, fare, or wear and tear), and food.

Arguably the most important of them all, meals and beverages can oftentimes account for much of a vacation’s purchases. While some of this can be chalked up to entertainment, there’s certainly no rule that says you have to eat out for every meal on vacation. In fact, cooking, or even just making a sandwich for lunch, can help cut back on costs considerably.

For more intricate savings, especially for families, choose to spend a night in and cook. Sights can still be seen; just after you’ve had a wholesome and reasonably priced meal. When staying with friends, you can take turns cooking to help lighten the workload. (You’re still on vacation, after all.) Buy groceries together and split the costs, or choose separately and each chef can be in charge of obtaining ingredients. Whatever the final plan, be sure that it’s one that divides both cost and scope of work.

Cooking on vacation can also provide you with a look at local lifestyles you might have not otherwise seen. Grocery stores can differ even when traveling in-state, providing a unique view of food shopping. You can even check for local farmers or garden markets for a chance at fresh local produce.

Before heading on your next vacation, consider doing some of the cooking in-house to help cut back on fees. It’s a money saver that can allow vacations of all shapes and sizes to take flight.

Five Wonderful Vacations

Five Wonderful Vacations
Five Wonderful Vacations

New York

The Empire Hotel

The setting for the popular TV show, Gossip Girl, the Empire Hotel is located in Manhattan, quite close to high-demand areas and posh New York real estate. The modern vibe attracts a young crowd, while the dark rich colors and mahogany accents suggest the space is inviting for a more distinguished crowd, too.

The Russian Tea Room

No trip to NYC is complete without a stop at the famed, Russian Tea Room. Decorated in bright reds and greens, this New York landmark serves contemporary continental cuisine.


Specializing in Southern Comfort food, Sylvia’s serves up huge plates of fried chicken and waffles and bowls of macaroni and cheese, collard greens and true Southern grits.


Aqua Wellness Resort

Detox, breathe, and relax at the Aqua Wellness Resort in Nicaragua. Nestled high in the treetops, this bungalow-style resort offers private suites, most with individual infinity pools. Yoga and meditation are offered daily, as well as spa services and kayaking. No stay is complete without the personalized meal plan.

El Colibri

Take a day trip to San Juan del Sur, and nosh on Mediterranean eats at this family-style restaurants. Hearty foods, like chicken and potatoes, as well as generous portions are the staples in this cozy brightly colored establishment.

Barrio Café

Grab a cup of (locally sourced) coffee at the popular Barrio Café. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also served, and the menu revolves around an international theme.


Mercure Nice Marche Aux Fleurs

Vacation like the celebrities do at the Mercure Nice Marche Aux Fleurs. Lay out on the beach while servers cater to your every whim. Parasail, water ski, or take a trip out to the ocean in a glass bottom boat. When you’re tired from a long day of play, retire to your room, and sink into lush linens and terry cloth bathrobes.

Les Pecheurs

Taste the freshest fish to come out of the ocean at Les Pecheurs. Enjoy the sun out on the terrace or a romantic corner inside. As you dine, you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of the marina and the surrounding hilltops.

La Petite Maison

Located near Old Town, La Petite Maison will give you a dining experience that is a work of art, specializing in local dishes and Southern France staples.


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The Goring

Enjoy 5-star service in this stately hotel that has remained in the same family for 100 years. Recently remolded by top interior designers, the rooms boast cozy, warm colors, mixed with chic designs, luxurious fabrics and stunning views. Enjoy afternoon tea in the sunny terrace, or a nightcap in the swanky bar.

Mad Hatter’s Pub

Nestled in the old part of London, the Mad Hatter’s Pub offers the quintessential London pub experience. Kick up your feet and kick back a beer, or try one of the hearty menu options.


Get the true English experience at Rules, the oldest restaurant in London. Opened in 1798 by Thomas Rule, this establishment sources high-quality game birds from their own estate, offering favorites like fish and chips, next to gamier options, like ox cheeks and duck.


Hotel Britannique Paris

Learn the true meaning of French opulence at the Hotel Britannique in Paris. Built in 1860, this beautiful building is located in the heart of Paris, only a stone’s throw away from the Seine. Rooms are decorated in luxurious linens, sparkling crystals, and rich mahogany accents.

Café de Flore

Sit and relax with a cup of coffee, a croissant and your favorite Voltaire novel cracked open in your lap. Café de Flore is the perfect place to people watch on a nice day and curl up with a book on a cold one.

Moulin Rouge

A must-have experience! Watch can-can dancers at this historic establishment, while you munch on fois gras, fresh pasta, and sip champagne. The Belle Epoque-style show will take you back into yesteryear.

The Surprising History of the Balboa

Not to be confused with the “Balboa Theater,” the “Balboa Theatre” (note the spelling difference) has been with us since 1924, when it opened, hosting nationally known vaudeville acts.

Since that time, the Balboa has gone through many changes, and was almost lost to the wrecking ball. Highlights from this great theater’s history include 1930-1940, when the theater showed Spanish-language cinema and stage shows.

Around 1942 the theater gave itself over to the U.S. Navy in the early days of World War II, converting the office space to housing to help accommodate the swelling ranks of the U.S. military.

Let’s take a minute to stop and dance “The Balboa” before going on with our history lesson:

Now back to history. The Balboa was slated to be demolished in 1959, to make room for a parking lot. It was saved by Russo Enterprises who operated the theater as an action-movie venue.

In 1972, the City of San Diego placed the building on the local Register of Historical Places, later acquiring the building in 1985 through eminent domain.

The Balboa Theatre Foundation was created in 1986 to get a renovation project funded and started. The foundation successfully lobbied to get the Balboa on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 and fundraising began in earnest.

To find out what happened next, see History of the Balboa Theatre Tours of the newly renovated and earthquake-safe Balboa are now being conducted and tickets for upcoming performances are on sale. Come by and enjoy this national treasure, whose history is so much a part of San Diego.

In the land of ‘land diving’ – Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island
Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island is one of the 83 constituent islands of the small nation of Vanuatau in South Pacific Ocean. The island is located 190 km north of Efate island that comprises Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Pentecost Island is called Pentecôte in French, Pentikos in Bislama and Vanu Aroaroa in native languages. Pentecost is spread over an area of 490 square kilometres and has a population of over 12,000. The long and narrow island (north-south stretch of about 60 km) has Maewo island in the north, Ambae island in the north-west and Ambrym island in the north-west direction.


Pentecost mainly has a mountainous terrain  and several rivers. The highest peak in the island is Mt Vulmat with an altitude of 947 metres. The mountain range of the island demarcates the humid and rain-prone eastern coast and the temperate western coast. The coastal areas of the island are ideal for agriculture and livestock rearing. The human population is mainly concentrated on the western coast of the island. Laone, Laltong, Abwatuntora, Latano, Namaram, Bwatnapni, Melsisi, Bwaravet, Lonoror, Hotwata, Panas are some of the villages located in the western coast area. Other major settlements are located at Nazareth and Atavtabangga in the north and at Enaa, Wutsunmwel, Tansip and others in the centre of the island. The east coast is mostly inaccessible with fewer settlements. Ranwas, Bunlap in the south-east and Renbura and Vanrasini further north are some of the settlements on that side.


Pentecost was discovered by Louis Antoine de Bougainville on May 22, 1768. Later, it was also sighted by Captain James Cook in 1774. It was influenced by successive Christian missionaries but traditional customs there remain strong. more here

Birthplace of bungee jumping:

Pentecost Island is most famous for being the spiritual birthplace of thesaid to be the place where the extreme sport of bungee jumping originated, although as an old ritual called the ‘gol’ or Land Diving. It is religiously organized between April and June every year mainly in the southern part of the island whereby men jumped from tall towers (around 20 to 30 metres) with vines tied to their feet, in an effort to ensure a good yam harvest.

  • Land diving ceremony
  • Statue of Walter Lini, the father of the nation of Vanuatu, who led the country to its independence, near Lini Memorial College
  • Bushwalking
  • Fishing
Social set up in brief:

Imported rice and tinned meat is an important part of the diet for people living in more developed areas of the island. , particularly, hold a high position in Pentecost society, not only as food but also as a traditional item of value.

Copra (dried coconut meat) has been Pentecost’s main export, but it has now been overtaken by kava, a narcotic root used to prepare a drink. Houses are constructed from local wood and bamboo, and thatched with leaves of natanggura (a variety of palm).


People of Pentecost Island speak five indigenous languages, namely, Raga (North Pentecost language), Apma (Central Pentecost language), Sowa (south-central Pentecost, recently gone extinct), Ske (of south-western Pentecost) and Sa (South Pentecost language). Besides, people also speak Bislama, one of the three official languages of Vanuatu.

Reaching Pentecost:

By air:
Pentecost has two airports, namely, Lonorore in the south-west and Sara in the north (the second more served by smaller aeroplanes). Lonorore airport was upgraded in 2008-2009.

By water:
Cargo ships linking Port Vila and Luganville touch the island’s west coast. M/V Brisk is one such ship. A few also visit the eastern coast. Yachts regularly visit Loltong, Waterfall and Panngi villages. Panngi can even receive cruise ships.

By Road:
A dirt road runs from the north to the south-west of the island, while another connects Salap in the south-west to Ranwas in the south-east.

  • Noda Guesthouse (Vanu)
  • Nagol Bungalows (Salap)
  • Samuel’s Guesthouse (Baravet)
  • Walarua Guesthouse (Lavatu)
  • Walap Beach Bungalows (Wali)

Humpback whales of Tonga

Humpback whales of Tonga
Humpback whales of Tonga

Vava’u in Tonga in South Pacific is one of those few places in the world that offer splendid opportunity to swim with the humpback whales.

Migrating whales:

The humpback whales migratke from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to the warm islands of Tonga each winter for mating and producing calves. About 450 whales migrate each year. They stay in and around the archipelagos of Tonga from July till about late October and return all the way to the Antarctic (8,000 odd km) during the summer. It is during their arrival and stay at Tonga (particularly the Vava’u islands) that thousand of tourists throng here to spot the gentle giants.

Swimming with the whales:

Even though the mission is same, to swim with the whales, but tourists would agree that each day is different. Some day, one gets to swim with a pregnant female while with the mother and its calves on another day. Yet on some other time, one can hear the humpbacks’ haunting song and it indeed is an experience to gather. Even the moment when a group of male humpbacks swirl around the boat is worthy to be captured in an audio or video camera. The encounter may be a short or long one but whatever the duration, it will be a lifetime one. Whale swimming tours are available between July and October. Weather and tides on a given day much affect the whale’s behavior. Hence the success of the tour is subjective to nature.

Whale watching excursions:
  • Sailing Safaris
  • Endangered Encounters
  • Melinda Sea Adventures
  • Whale Watch Vava’u
  • Vava’u Adventures
Tips during whale watching:
  • Do not panic at the sight of the whales
  • Allow the whales to control the time and nature of the meeting
  • Patience is key to make the encounter fruitful. The mother might try to block your path in a bid to cover its calf or the younger ones may approach to quench its curiosity.
  • Do not disturb the creatures as that could force them to leave early
  • Respect the marine environment and do not litter
  • Do not swim towards the whales from the shore
Facts about humpback whales:
  • Humpbacks are baleen whales and have hundreds of dark baleen ‘plates’ hanging from each side of their upper jaw and they use it to filter huge amounts of water for food.
  • These whales are known as ‘Humpback’ for their distinctive way of arching back before sounding.
  • The whales propel with their massive tail, which is often seen above the surface of the water.
  • The whales mate in the calm waters from June to November. The male humpbacks also sing and their song varies with locational change.
Tonga activities:
  • Explore Mariners and Swallows Cave
  • Snorkel the coral reefs
  • Walk the sandy beaches
Reaching Vava’u:

By air:
Reach Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga located in Tongatapu and from there to Vava’u in domestic flights operated by Chathams Pacific. No international or domestic flights operate in Tonga on Sundays.

  • Adventure Backpackers
  • Vava’u Guest House
  • Mala Island Resort
  • Tapana Island Resort
  • Puataukanave International Hotel
  • Hilltop Hotel
  • Twin View Motel

Check more infos about this fantastic destination here

Best Places to Visit in Victoria

Craigdarroch Castle

Victoria is one of the Best Places to Visit in British Columbia and here you will find some of the Best Places to Visit in Victoria British Columbia. Victoria offers a very unique opportunity to visitors to explore the old world charm and at the same time to explore the new world. Vancouver Island is top island in Canada and one of the top ten islands in the world. Victoria offers some of the best scenery in the world and offers opportunity for golfers, hikers, bikers and fishers to enjoy. Victoria is also famous for its beautiful gardens and spectacular beaches and has mildest climates in Canada.

Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Craiddarroch Castle was built between 1887-1890 on a hill. This beautiful castle is a must see attraction and is located a short walk from downtown harbour and is one of the Best Places to Visit in Victoria.

Pacific Undersea Gardens

If you are visiting with kids Pacific Undersea Gardens is one of the Best Places to Visit in Victoria. The gardens is located in the beautiful inner harbour of downtown Victoria. Lower level of the aquarium is 5 meters beneath the ocean where visitors can watch a variety of marine plants and animals. Aquarium is house to more than 5,000 animals of different species.

Butchart Gardens

You can explore one of the world’s premier floral gardens in Victoria. There is always something to see in the gardens. You can enjoy the heated greenhouses that change as the season changes. You can also explore the Rose Carousel which is the only carousel in Vancouver Island and have thirty animals such as bears, horses, ostriches and zebras.

Bacon Hill Park

Bacon Hill Park is located along the south shore and is one the Best Places to Visit in Victoria. Here in park you can enjoy walking and jogging, bird watching, beach related activities, and horse back riding. Park also have trails, a petting animal farm, wading pool, water fountain, picnic area and playgrounds.

Victoria Bug Zoo

Victoria Bug Zoo is one of the Best Places to Visit in Victoria and offers visitors an excellent opportunity to view multi-legged creatures from around the world in a safe, fun, and friendly environment. Here you can see some of the amazing bugs such as alien-eyed praying mantids, hairy tarantulas and glow-in-dark scorpions.

Willows Beach

Willows Beach is best sun-tanning and swimming beach and is one of the Best Places to Visit in Victoria. Here you will also find a large grassy playground and a tea house where you can enjoy tea and coffee.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a true tropical jungle and is one of the Best Places to Visit in Victoria. Here you can see some of the Exotic Butterflies, Tropical Ducks, Flamingos, rare Tropical Birds, Chameleon, Geckos, Poison Dart Frogs, Tree Frogs, Sulcata and Red Footed Tortoises and Giant Koi. Gardens is located just 5 minutes from the Butchart Gardens.

Whale Watching

You can enjoy the cruise and can watch the Whales in the protected waters around the lower Vancouver Island.


I used to be a guidebook addict. I carried them on every trip, checking off every “Top 10 Sights” list I could. I obeyed all of the tips and suggestions, terrified of making a wrong move and missing a critical bit of scenery. Eventually, I learned that my methods were all wrong. I was a tourist, not a traveler. Over time I have managed to overcome my dependence on guidebooks and tourist traps, but not without making a few mistakes along the way. To spare you the same trouble, here are a few lessons I learned the hard way.

1. Try to speak the language.

Just try. You might feel uncomfortable and dorky, but your effort will not go unnoticed! Don’t be afraid that people will try to engage you in a complex conversation well beyond your grasp. They’ll know right away that you are foreign and will either keep it simple or switch to English.

2. Eat what the locals eat.

Whatever they’re eating, it’s for a reason, and usually a good one.  More often than not, you’ll have a good experience if you follow suit. And if you hate it, you’ll have a funny experience to tell your friends about when you get home.

3. Eat when the locals eat.

Nothing screams “I’m a tourist!” more than eating dinner alone in an Italian restaurant at 6:00. Plus, it’s boring! Have a snack and a drink (or 3) and then enjoy dinner in a restaurant full of locals. The atmosphere will be worth the hunger pains.

4. Walk everywhere.

You’ll see more and have a richer experience. You can learn a lot more about a city and its people by walking its streets, rather than looking through a taxi window or crammed on a subway 200 feet underground (OK, maybe you can learn something about a culture from its subway, too).  And you’ll burn enough calories to ease your guilt about eating that extra croissant. The worst thing that’ll happen is you’ll get lost and see more of the city. And what’s wrong with that?

5. Listen more than you speak, and when you do speak, speak quietly.

You’ll be surprised at how much more you notice if you take a minute to listen to what’s happening around you, and you will probably pick up a few fun phrases in a foreign language. In many cultures around the world it is considered bad etiquette to speak loudly in restaurants, so you’ll also avoid inadvertently offending the other patrons or staff.

6. Step out of your comfort zone.

What’s the point of traveling if you are doing or eating the same things you would at home?  If you’re a little uncertain about something you’re about to eat or do and you don’t feel the imminent hand of death, just go for it.

7. Throw out the checklist.

Pick one or two must-see things per day, and spend the rest of the day wandering, sitting in a cafe or park, browsing in a bookstore…doing anything that brings you closer to the local culture. Your trip will be more relaxing, and you will have a much richer experience. You’re never going to see it all anyway, so just throw in the towel before you make yourself crazy (and exhausted).

8. When you want to scream or cry, laugh instead.

The only way to have a perfect vacation is to stay at an all-inclusive resort and let someone else do the work. There is certainly something to be said for that kind of ease, but taking on the challenge of planning your own vacation will reap countless rewards, even if everything isn’t perfect. You will make mistakes and things will go wrong, but those mishaps will show you something you may not have known about your destination and its culture. You’ll also acquire a new go-with-the-flow attitude that will benefit you long after your vacation has ended.

These travel rules have helped me to step outside of my American mindset and become a better traveler. They’ve also helped me to relax and enjoy my vacations much more than I did in the past, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Authors Note: This article was submitted as an assignment for a writing program I’m in. This style of travel writing is called an “Evergreen” article as it is supposed to offer advice that will hold up over time. Thought I’d publish here for fun… let me know what you think! 

How to Spend Money Wisely on your Disney Vacation

Contriving a trip to the fascinating Disney World with your family? It would be one of the splendid activities planned. Love at first sight is what your family would feel at Disney World. And if, it is one of your intended destinations for the family vacation, the accompanying pointers would be of considerable help while spending and travelling. Plan your trip. Do not wait until you are already inside the theme park before you try to figure out which attractions you and your kids would want to see first. Download the map from the official website of Disney World, so you can plan the trip accordingly.

How to Spend Money Wisely on your Disney Vacation
How to Spend Money Wisely on your Disney Vacation

Appropriate accommodation is another significant part. Lodging during vacation nearly burns a hole in your pocket and needs to be chosen according your budget. To make this more evident consider this. If an economical stay is your priority, then banking on Orlando hotels and Kissimmee Vacation Homes will be most beneficial. But if, more quality time in the theme park with the added bonus of free transportation service, attracts you more, you might want to consider Disney Vacation Homes. Prioritizing your choices will help you take the correct decision. Arriving early gives you more options to choose from. So you can indulge yourself in joy rides or any other activity without wasting much time. Also since there would be less rush a better part of the park can be surveyed at leisure.

During excursions, expenditure on outside food and beverages can cost you dearly and eat into your vacation budget. Instead come prepared by bringing your own food and drinks as it will save both money and time that, youll spend standing in lengthy queues when either you or a member of your family is feeling hungry.

Visit drinks stations without any charges. Drink stations offering beverages free of cost are scattered around the Disney World theme park. A prominent one is the located in the vicinity of Innovations Plaza Fountain and serves numerous drinks from various countries, free of cost. Ice Station Cool is another place where you can gulp down free samples of Coca-Cola products. These and other stations in Disney World theme park revitalize your mind and body with beverages and that too without a penny charged. Youve to be just careful not to fill yourself with more soda than you can contain or else youll end up being thirstier. So it is always handy to have water supply with you.

Use Fast Pass. If you really want to save time, there is no way you should miss on using the Fast Pass. This pass allows you to avoid the long lines to the rides. Instead, you can use the pass and insert it into the Fast Pass machine located in some of the rides and then you can come back during the designated time when you can ride the attractions. This means you do not have to spend hours in waiting. Instead, you can use these hours to enjoy the other attractions.


When to go to the Canary Islands?

Popular destination for its climate, the Canary Islands offer beautiful landscapes and alternate between the volcanic plains and lush beaches.

When to go to the Canary Islands?

To avoid the crowds of tourists in the Canaries, prefer the month of May than in July. The Canary Islands enjoy a very favorable climate all year round. However, some periods are more favorable, especially in terms of price.

Avoid the crowds

Side climate, the Canary Islands are particularly preferred with an average temperature of around 23 ° throughout the year. In water, swimming is rarely difficult because temperatures do not fall below 18 degrees, even in winter. If the climate is therefore not a problem, the massive influx of tourists can be. In general, December and February are the most popular. Holidays mild climate year and attract many tourists. It was also during this period that prices are soaring. After Dec. 15, tickets can take up to 40% of their initial value. In summer, the period from July to August is also very touristy and you sometimes struggle to find a place to put your towel on the beach.

The lowest rates

Not to ruin you, it will favor the low season. The Canary Islands, you can choose between two periods, the first relatively short since it extends from November to mid-December and the second largest, from March to May Careful to avoid the Easter holidays when prices are rising rapidly. The months of May, June, September and November are particularly pleasant, both in terms of attendance islands of cheap flights and hotels. Note that Tenerife and Gran Canaria are sometimes affected by fog at these times and temperatures a bit cooler at high altitudes.