Here are some tips for trans-oceanic flights anywhere from 6 to 20 hours long.
The 3 most important things are staying hydrated, good food, and sleep especially if you are traveling East to West. The 4th item is preventing boredom.
For West to East, you must sleep at least 3 (or 4.5) hours on the flight as you will arrive in the morning and your body will feel like 2 am.
For East to West, upon arrival, try to stay up as long as possible until 7 or 8pm. Don’t be alarmed if you wake up in the middle of the night, as your body thinks it’s morning.
Before your flight:
Always arrive early. Surprises like cancelled flight do happen. If your luggage is over weight or oversize, you will have ample time to repack.
Make a note of where you parked your car at the airport by writing it down on your ticket stub or airline ticket.
Consider an aisle or exit row seat for leg room.
Order a special meal, such as a lacto-ovo meal which is usually served before the regular meals. So if you like to eat early in the flight, order a special meal. Passengers sitting in the rear of the plane are served last and often you don;t get a choice. You will need to book this request at least 24 hours in advance. Any last minute flight changes will ruin this strategy.
Look for flights with planes supporting Audio Video on Demand in Economy Class, which is great for watching 3 or more movies without draining your own laptop battery. Mind you, those movies may be old and not the latest Hollywood releases, but hey, a 9 hour flight is a 9 hour flight!
Look for seats and airlines with 110/220V power plugs on every seat – then bring your own movies on your laptop or portable DVD player. These power outlets were once a luxury to Business and First class, but now available on Economy on larger and newer planes.
Minimize your carry-on luggage especially if you have connecting flights.
If traveling with a group or family, cross pack with a buddy so if they lose your luggage, at least you’ll have half your clothes. Of course, have your personal medication in your carry-on (I can’t stress this enough)
During the Flight:
Wear shoes to the restroom! Some men have bad aim, and turbulence doesn’t hep!
Turn on the air vent above you, but this will dry your hair and skin.
Move around often, and sit close to the back of the plane to use the standing area by the air stewards. But do not sit in the back row because of the smells of the restrooms. It’s tough to walk around during meal or drink service.
If you are the “cold” type of person, wear layers.
Most important, pack a sense of humour. Travel is never perfect.
Essentials and Luxury items Checklist:
If you are allergic to cats or dogs, bring your anti-histamines. You’d be surprised how many people bring pets on board.
Bring a small toy for the screaming child sitting behind or in front of you. Dollar stores are great for this.
Bring chewing gum or chips (preferably the baked type like Baked Lays or Pringles) for your ears. Drink plenty of water as for every 1 gram of carbs stored as muscular glycogen, 2 grams of water is required.
Bring a hot sauce like Tabasco. Usually the meals are decent on transatlantic flights, but on my last flight my meal was a rubber chicken breast with a slop of tomato paste. By adding a few drops of hot sauce, it actually made my meal edible. Some food is better than no food, at least for athletes.
Bring ear plugs and eye mask for sleeping, mandatory for flying West to East.
Bring your own pillow, or air pillow for your neck. Use the smaller ones provided on airplanes for lumbar back support.
Bring Noise-cancelling headphones. You can buy these for less than $50 and they come in two varieties: around ear, and in ear “bud style”. I personally like the Bose brand. You’ll strain less from competing with the sounds of the engine, plus you’ll arrive at your destination more refreshed. It also creates an anti-social atmosphere in case the person sitting next to you is too chatty.
Take Melatonin to induce sleep going East to West.. Use Sleepzyme for a natural product. Do not use regular sleeping pills because in case of emergency, you’ll need to be awake FAST.
Wear slightly oversized shoes or bring slippers. I wear loafers (i.e. no laces) that I can easily slip on and off. Your feet will expand during long flights from prolonged sitting.
Bring an Amazon Kindle. This is a luxury if you like to read several books concurrently.
If reading gives you air sickness, then prevent boredom by listening to books on tapes or Audio books over regular books. If you use your iPod or Blackberry, be sure the radio mode turned off. Audio books takes longer to “read” than watching a movie. Executive book summaries are great.
Pack a toothbrush and a small facecloth in a zip lock bag in your carry on luggage. You’ll feel refreshed after a nap or sleep. Plus, bring nasal gel, lip balm or chap-stick, and eye drops. Even bring hand lotion if you suffer from dry skin. You’ll be amazed on how these little things help you feel better, even if the relief temporary.
Yes, it is usually pretty balmy here in Hawaii, but are you prepared for all of the different weather that you will find in the islands?
The weather can vary greatly within a few miles. For instance, Mount Waialeale on Kauai is the wettest spot on earth with over 460 inches of rain a year (in 1982 it actually rained 666 inches!) However, just a few miles away is a desert that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year. So as you can see the weather varies quite a lot just on one island.
Hawaii weather is greatly influenced by the trade winds that generally blow at speeds of 10-20 MPH. Sometimes the winds will be light to non-existent and sometimes they will blow much stronger–into the 30 MPH range.
The trade winds have a welcome cooling effect. Even though it may be 85 degrees with 80% humidity, the trade winds make it feel much more comfortable.
The opposite wind is called the kona wind. The kona winds tend to bring hot, humid weather, and sometimes rain. The kona winds are not as prevalent as the trade winds. (Don’t confuse kona winds with Kona side of the Big Island which tends to be hot and dry.)
Hawaii has semi-tropical weather. Temperatures usually range from 75-90 degrees year round in the daytime, and 70-80 degrees at night. Temperatures in the winter months may be a little cooler, where nighttime temperatures can sometimes fall into the 50’s. (It feels much cooler than that with a 20 MPH trade wind blowing.)
At the higher elevations of the islands (such as up country Maui and Big Island) temperatures can drop to the 30’s or 40’s and snow often falls at the very high elevations of Haleakala and Mauna Kea!
Rain showers can appear at any time of the year but they most often fall between the months of November-February. Even though these winter months are technically the “rainy season”, the rains are generally short lived, and sunshine and blue skies return quickly.
We call these short, light showers “blessings.” Sometimes you can’t even seem to find the clouds that are producing these “blessings”, but if you look around you will probably see the rainbows they leave behind!
Hawaii also has what are called “Mauka Showers.” Mauka means “inland” or “toward the mountains.” It will often be raining in the mountains or valleys, but be dry on the beaches.
Sometimes during the winter months it does rain for 2-3 days straight. The good news is that since there are so many micro-climates on the islands, you can often just go a short distance to find dry weather.
Hawaii does, on rare occasion have a hurricane pass our way, although this happens much less often than it does in Florida or other parts of the US mainland. It is always good to be prepared, of course, but the last hurricanes to hit Hawaii was “Iniki” which hit Kauai in 1992. Hurricane season runs between June-December.
Even given these general guidelines, the weather can vary quite a bit depending on where you are on the island. The windward (Northeast) sides of the islands are generally the wettest and coolest, and the leeward (Southwest) sides are generally the driest and hottest.
So as you can see, there can be quite a variety of weather in Hawaii. Be sure to pack a light jacket, rain coat, or sweater so you’ll be comfortable on the cool Hawaiian nights and in your visits upcountry.
If you plan on visiting Maui or Big Island you won’t want to miss the summits of Haleakala (elevation 10,023 feet) and Mauna Kea (elevation 13,796 feet.) Just make sure you pack a heavy jacket!
When planning Napa Valley travel, you should understand the key areas that make up the majority of Napa Valley. Calistoga, St. Helena, Oakville/Rutherford, Yountville, and Napa are towns that offer winery tours, pleasant accommodations, and other activities that tourists can add to their Napa Valley travel itinerary. As Napa Valley is well known for its wine, adults will find plenty to do, but children may not be quite as thrilled.
Calistoga became popular in the early 1800’s when settlers discovered the amazing restorative properties of the area’s natural hot springs. From that day forward, tourists arranging their Napa Valley Travel itinerary, and who are seeking a little rest and relaxation, have flocked to Calistoga. Harbin Hot Springs is a non-profit organization that offers relaxing Napa Valley travel choices. At Harbin Hot Springs, guests can relax in any of the resort’s natural springs, attend artistic workshops, or stroll the 1700 acres of impressive landscape.
Located in St. Helena, Beringer Vineyards is California’s oldest winery in full operation. Founded in 1876, Beringer offers daily tours and wine tastings for a very affordable price. The vineyard is packed with lush landscaping and historic buildings. St. Helena is also a haven for antique shoppers. The area’s extravagant Meadowood golf course will appeal to the avid golfer. Couples needing a mix of activities on their Napa Valley travel itinerary will enjoy St. Helena.
Any movie buff knows the name Francis Ford Coppola. Formerly known as the Niebaum-Coppola Vineyards, Rubicon Estate in Oakville/Rutherford continues to produce top-notch wines. Rubicon Estate offers special estates throughout the year. The St. Helena Olive Oil Company is another “must see” on many Napa Valley travel itineraries. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are both produced daily and can be sampled in the retail section of the company.
Yountville, California is no more than one mile in length. Tourists love adding Yountville to their Napa Valley travel plans because the town can be seen by foot. Park your car, put on some comfortable shoes, and see the sites. Amazing architecture is only one of the rewards. France’s Moet and Chandon sister company, Domaine Chandon, is located in Yountville. Daily tours of the winery that specializes in sparkling wines are free. While a trip into the tasting room lets you enjoy a few samples.
In Napa, La Belle Époque remains a highly requested bed and breakfast. Romantics of all ages book rooms at this gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian months in advance. The Wineries of Napa Valley is a unique organization that offers samplings from many of Napa Valley’s wine makers. The Wineries of Napa Valley sells a wine tasting card that allows ten-cent initial samplings from each winery in the establishment.
Whether you are arranging a romantic Napa Valley travel plan or wanting to explore the world of winemaking, Napa Valley is a lavish option. Though the area can be a little on the pricey side, Napa Valley travel plans create a lasting memory.
Summer is here – outdoor venues event calendars are looking plump! Everyone is gearing up for concert picnics, outdoor plays, and summer concerts – even restaurants and eateries are offering gourmet picnic baskets to take to these events. Get your hats, umbrellas, beach chairs, and picnic blankets ready!
One particular event that I look forward to this summer is the California Philharmonic’s Festival on the Green. It’s held at the Los Angeles Arboretum every summer in succeeding weekends. Each performance features a theme (Classics, Dance, and Movie themes to name a few). This event started in 1997 – a vision of Maestro Vener. The event came a reality with the help community leaders and the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department. This year is definitely special as Festival on the Green is celebrating its 10th year.
There are many events happening in other parts of the country – if you are a big literary fan, the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR is the event for you. Founded in 1935, this Tony Award Winning event is among the oldest theatre events in the country. Started by a teacher from South Oregon Normal School, Angus L. Bowmer, the festival was officially launched on July 2, 1935. Bowmer’s idea is to create a festival in conjunction with the city’s Fourth of July celebration. In 2001, the 10 millionth ticket holder was welcome. This festival is definitely one to check out!
An event that has been gaining worldwide notoriety is the Burning Man Project. Founded by Larry Harvey and Jerry James in 1986, it started as an annual fire party at Baker Beach in San Francisco. This event began with a humble group of friends and now grew to a community of 25,000 people. There are different descriptions of this event… Some say it’s Art festival, some would describe it as music festival, and others a social experiment. It is probably a combination of all these – it seems the Burning Man Project is what you want it to be or how you experience it to be. The only way to find out is to go there yourself!
Whatever you are interest in; there is a summer event for you. There’s music, arts, theatre, culinary, and many more. Definitely plan ahead and get your tickets early, as most of the very popular events sell out months in advanced. Be sure to check out the events websites to see any restrictions (such as age, alcohol, transportation, etc.), if any.
About the Author
To see a calendar of events happening this summer – music, concerts, festivals, theatre, culinary – visit The WhereWhen Project: thewherewhenproject.com Calendar access is free with no registration required… And if you have an event to promote, posting events are free as well.
You have just arrived in the Renaissance capital of the art world with a couple of days to spare, so where do you go and what highlights can you see in such a short time? This is the guide for you to get the maximum out of a short stay in Florence.
14:00 Now is probably a good time to familiarise yourself with the central city, if it’s late summer it will be beginning to cool down and hopefully the crush of the tourist crowds will be starting to diminish. The centre of Florence is easy to walk around as the streets are narrow and most are closed to traffic.
Starting off around the main station there is the Piazza Santa Maria Novella with the church that gives the train station its name. Opposite the church there is the Piazza Nazionale and a road which leads down to the Piazza del Mercato Centrale. Here there are a few market stalls selling leather goods, souvenirs and other items. The 2 famous buildings to see here are the Cappelle Medici and the San Lorenzo e Biblioteca Laurenziana.
15:00 You will see the Duomo before you reach the piazza it resides in as you walk down Via Borgo San Lorenzo. The squat building in front of the cathedral is the Baptistery, built on the foundations of a Roman temple. The golden doors facing the cathedral are replicas of an original set made by Lorenzo Ghiberti and regarded by Michelangelo as the “doors to paradise”. But the sight most visitors are bowled over by is Brunelleschi’s dome, the cap on the already impressive Chiesa Santa Maria del Fiori. Standing guard beside it is the campanile, or bell tower built by Giotto.
The view from the top of the Duomo is incredible on a clear day and well worth the trek to the top. Entry to the church itself is free but there is a charge to make the climb. You can also climb the bell tower but run the risk of the bells going off at some point and there is no lift if you need assistance to get back down.
16:00 Many of the original works that were used to decorate the exteriors and interiors of the baptistery, church and campanile are house inside the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, behind the cathedral, the museum rooms that catalogue the history of the buildings. There are many pieces by Michelangelo, including his Pieta that he partially destroyed, which was finished later by a student. The original baptistery doors are housed here along with Duomo plans from Brunelleschi, statues and bas relief’s by Donatello and others.
17:00 Walking down Via Roma you will reach Piazza della Repubblica, the edges are taken up with expensive hotels and even more expensive cafes. There are some stalls selling various touristy type things, including more belts, wallets and handbags. Keep walking down Via Calimara until you reach the loggia that houses more market stalls. Here you can test your skills at spotting a fake leather item although you don’t want to make this too obvious. Better still you can drop a coin from the mouth of ‘il Porcolino’, the bronze statue of a boar, and make a wish.
17:30 Looking straight ahead you will see what resembles a crowded street rising up at the end of Via Porta Santa Maria. This is actually a bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, the ‘Old Bridge’, which was the only one spared by the Nazis in WWII. The original shops were butchers, dropping their leftovers into the Arno below. The stench got up the Medici’s noses in the 16thC so much that Grand Duke Ferdinando I ordered them to move out and the more aesthetically pleasing goldsmiths to move in. This is also one of 3 bridges in the world to house shops.
18:00 Make your way back to the northern end of the bridge where there is a covered colonnade heading left alongside the river. This was built as a secret passageway for the Medici’s as they walked above the populace between the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace. At the far end of the walkway you can look back to see the rear of the shops as they overhang the river below.
Behind you is also the entrance to the Piazza Degli Uffizi, a three sided piazza filled with statues and busts of famous artists from over the centuries, and of course home to the world famous Uffizi Gallery. The collection inside is second only to that of the one held at the Vatican in terms of artistic significance. Giotto, Fra Angelico, Lippi, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo… the list goes on. The gallery is closed on Mondays and needs at least half a day to get around, as well as to be booked in advance if you wish to view it in summer. The piazza is commonly filled during the summer with outdoor exhibitions, street artists and performers, mainly to entertain the long meandering line of tourists queuing up to get in.
Carry on through the narrow piazza away from the river until you reach Piazza Signoria. This wide open space is most recognisable by the statue of David, a copy put there in 1873 as the original had to moved inside the Accademia to protect it from the elements. Underneath the loggia is a collection of other famous statues including The Rape of the Sabines, Hercules and the Centaur Nessus, by Giambologna and Cellini’s bronze statue of Perseus.
The main space is overlooked by the rather imposing statue of ‘Il Nettuno’, the watery figure of Neptune standing at the opposite end of Palazzo Vecchio. Close by is the mounted figure of Cosimo I Medici and the bronze plaque that marks the spot where the priest Savonarola was hanged and burned for heresy in 1498. For the super sleuths there is a another sculpture to look out for. On the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio is the carved outline of a mans face. One legend tells that Michelangelo, in a fit of pique, was proving to Donatello he was able to sculpt great works of art, even with his hands behind his back.
18:30 Inside Palazzo Vecchio the entrance shows ornate ceilings and wall decoration for this building was once the seat of Florentine government during the 13th and 14th Centuries. For a fee you can view the opulent apartments upstairs that were occupied by Medicis and other notables as well as reach the battlements for another view out over the city.
The remainder of the evening can be best spent wandering the narrow streets and enjoying a meal from one of the many restaurants and trattorias. Later on there is the night life as many bars and clubs open up after 10pm and carry on until very early in the morning.
08:00 Florence is a tourist magnet all year round so an early start is essential if you don’t wish to spend countless hours queuing. A surefire way to avoid this is to part with a little extra cash in the busy summer months and pre book your tickets online or over the phone. You then pick them up at a designated time from the ticket office with your booking number. This way you can easily get to see the Uffizi and possibly another museum in the same day. To do this simply log onto www.firenzemusei.it or www.weekendafirenze.com or book through your hotel.
The Uffizi opens at 8.15am, closing at 7pm, with the artworks divided between a series of rooms all featuring a certain artistic style or period. The gallery is not restricted to just greats of the Italian renaissance but the collection also includes works by German and Flemish artists. To appreciate much of the work you would need to devote at least several hours to get round.
15:00 Either as an afternoon escape or a morning alternative there is also the Galleria Dell’Accademia, most famous for its prize possession, Michelangelo’s David, the original sculpture that stood in Piazza della Signoria. The 5m tall statue was carved from a single slab of marble which some tales relate as having a fault line running through it. Michelangelo was said to have found it at abandoned at the rear of the artisan school and decided he would use it to create a symbol of Florentine spirit.
The Accademia also has other well known statues, paintings and carvings by many artists on display, well worth an hour or two looking around.
For a plesant way to round off the day there is a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo from the southern river bank, where you will find yet another copy of Michelangelo’s David, a bronze version overlooking the city. A great place to watch the city change colour at sunset and sometimes there are public events held in the piazza during the summer.
17:00 If there is still enough energy left to view one more church Chiesa di San Miniato al Monte is worth the extra effort. Situated in the parklands up behind Piazzale Michelangelo the exterior is one of the best examples of Tuscan Romanesque architecture while the interior is home to some extraordinary 13-15th C frescoes.
08:00 Depending on your time table you may have time for another set of museums or just a gentle stroll in the park. Head up to the Pitti Palace, another Brunelleschi creation for a wealthy banker that was eventually taken up by the Medici family. Inside are a series of museum rooms all dedicated to various items such silver, porcelain and renaissance clothing as well as more modern artworks from the 18th and 20th Centuries.
11:00 When the art intake has finally reached its limit there is respite in the shape of the Boboli gardens to the rear of the palace. Designed in the mid 16th C it contains typical grottoes and garden follies of the renaissance aristocracy. A chance to leave the narrow streets and tourist crowds for a while.
Your time in Florence is at an end but you may still have a chance to do a bit of that last minute shopping before bidding farewell to all the masters.
About the Author
Katy Hyslop has spent the past 6 years travelling, tour guiding and generally hanging around the European tourism industry. She is now based in Italy and in charge of keeping the crew under control at Plus. If you want to know more on what to see or where to stay in Florence click here.
We all want something different from a beach. Whether you prefer facilities, peace, privacy or entertainment here are a few Spanish beaches which come highly recommended.
Spanish Beaches to go to with children
Look for beaches with fine sand, without stones or pebbles and with wooden walkways to the shore because these are easier to walk on. The best beaches for children are those which have shallow water and only very small waves. In addition, access should be easy and comfortable for buggies and it should have good facilities: foot washers, showers, easily visible danger signs, assistance points, play areas and shady places. If children are small, it is important to check out nearby toilet and changing facilities. To keep them amused, choose beaches with activity centres and supervised courses for windsurfing, swimming or fishing.
La Costilla y El Rompidillo on the Costa Ballena (Cádiz)
Situated between Rota and Chipiona, there are seven kilometres of fine sandy beaches, which are not dangerous and which have all sorts of facilities. The children can be kept amused for hours watching the corrals, small stone walls in the sea where fish, shrimps and crayfish are trapped at low tide.
Favorite city beaches in Spain
Need stay close to urbanisation while enjoying a moment or two at the beach? Then city beaches are for you. The best thing is that you don’t have to go far to find them – they are separated from the shops and offices by a promenade, from which you can access the sand by means of ramps and steps.
La Concha in San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa).
Queen María Cristina elevated it to the status of “the” place to spend summer, at the end of the nineteenth century and, from that time, it has kept its charm. Framed by its two mountains, Igueldo and Urgull, the beautiful beach is bordered by superb decorative walkway. In the centre of the bay is Stanta Clara Island and lighthouse, which can be reached by ferry in the summer.
If when it gets hot, you find clothes are too much, you’ll surely enjoy naturism, which consists, among other things, of living the beach experience in your birthday suit or “how your mother brought you into the world” as the Spanish put it. Well, you can wear a thong if you want. In Spain there are several hundred beaches with a nudist tradition which goes back to the 1960s, the majority with difficult access and unspoilt scenery. As well, there are those which must live with the “textiles” (as naturists call those who don’t go nude) in separate zones, including certain remote caves in which there is a natural mixture of bathing costumes and exposed skin. You can also find areas of coast specifically for nudism; authentic naturist centres, equipped with all types of set up (hotels, supermarkets, swimming pools) for those who go around completely naked.
Cala Fonda, in Altafulla (Tarragona).
Also known as Waikiki Beach, it is situated in the middle of a leafy pine grove and sheltered by a vertical cliff which makes access difficult. Precisely because of the complications of getting here (it is necessary to walk more than a kilometre through woods), it has become a complete nudist paradise. There are more than 200 metres of fine sand with clear water and absolutely nothing else.
…for friends of the wild and the natural
The more difficult the paths are to negotiate, the more possibilities you have to have the beach to yourself. These coastal spots well deserve a hike of several hours, but to be remote from civilization as well implies a total absence of infrastructure, so don’t forget to carry a good supply of water with you and whatever you need to give you some shade. The locals know the best places and how to get to them, so use your charm to get the information from them.
Los Genoveses, in San José (Almería).
Positioned in the heart of the Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata, you get there by a small earth road, signposted from the town of San José. The small bay of Los Genoveses (so called because in its day, it was an anchorage for pirate ships) opens up to the left of the road and has an improvised parking area. It is a beach of dunes, surrounded by vegetation.