Common Vacation Attractions That Don’t Meet The Hype

People who travel the world regularly learn a lot of tricks along the way. And one of the tough ones is to figure out what attraction recommendations to pay attention to, and which ones to ignore. No matter where you go in the world there are books, blog posts, and all kinds of other resources telling you what you might want to do there. Lately there’s even been talk of traveling in VR, in part as a means of planning things out even more.

Some of this is great, and it can help you figure out an itinerary before you’re ever on the road or plane. Still, there are a lot of commonly recommended types of attractions that fail to live up to the hype more often than not. Recognizing these can save you a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money in your travels.

Celebrity Chef Restaurants

Thanks in large part to various cooking shows on television, there are a lot of famous chefs these days. And most of them have leveraged their names and talents to create global restaurant empires, such that it’s not at all uncommon to see a celebrity restaurant recommended in a high-end resort and/or big city. The trouble is, the chefs’ personal touches are often lacking in these restaurants, which are effectively licensed steakhouses. There was a very telling article in 2017 about Wolfgang Puck – a legendary chef and by all accounts a great guy. Puck discounted negative reviews of a new restaurant of his in New York, arguing that for him, the biggest critics were customers. Yet a guy like Puck knows that a majority of customers are automatically going to like the restaurant because his name is on it. In other words there’s a built in advantage and a snowball effect that often leads to places like his being recommended regardless of actual quality. To be sure, some celebrity chef establishments are incredible – but many aren’t worth the hefty prices.

Botanical Gardens

This is to some extent a matter of taste, but it’s almost shocking how many different places around the world have noteworthy botanical gardens. And in a way, that makes them all less noteworthy. If most every major city you travel to includes gardens on lists of things to do, you can quickly get the idea that there are always pretty gardens around, and unless you just happen to be into this (which, to be fair, many people are), they’re not the most unique aspect of most cities. There are exceptions of course, where a city’s botanical gardens are particularly impressive or unique in some particular way, but for the most part you’ll be seeing some pretty plant life that could exist the same way in any other city.

Casinos aren’t everywhere, but a large portion of major cities and popular vacation destinations still have them, and wherever they are they tend to be popular tourist draws. Sometimes the hype is justified and a few hours exploring a casino and playing games can be fun. However, this also tends to be an expensive experience, it can be surprisingly antisocial even if you go with friends, and it’s important to remember you’re there so that the venue can collect as much of your money as possible. Plus, casino experiences are less and less specific to destinations thanks to the meteoric and sustained rise of online casinos, which are now even available on mobile devices. Mobile casinos are now closely mirroring their online counterparts, which basically means you can get everything you’d get at a destination casino in your pocket – more affordably and more conveniently. The real venues just aren’t always worth it.

Royal Residences

Royal residences are by nature only available in a relatively small number of cities – usually either capitals or former capitals. Sometimes they can be breathtakingly beautiful and are well worth touring, as with Versailles in France, for example. Just as often however they can be half-restricted so that you can only tour certain areas, and you’ll basically be looking at ornate chandeliers, old paintings, and antique furniture. It can be interesting, particularly for history buffs, but you’re often better off just checking out a local museum, where you can see just as much interesting stuff at a pace more your own.


Making Holiday Car Travel More Fun

If you are travelling a long way to an airport or to a holiday destination then it is possible that you will have to go in a car. If you have a journey that is more than an hour long, then it can sometimes get very tedious, if it is more than four hours it can be even worse. If you travel at a popular time, you can find that the roads will be really busy and this may make your journey a lot longer as you are queuing behind other cars. Therefore it can be a good idea to plan well for your car journey so that it can be a fun as possible.

Plan travel times carefully

It is worth thinking about exactly when you are going to travel. If you can, it can be wise to avoid the roads when they will be the busiest. Roads are always busy in the morning before people start work and in the evening when they are returning as well as locally busy when children are dropped off and picked up from school. You may therefore want to plan to avoid towns and cities at these times and try to be on the motorway then.

You will also find that certain days will be busier. For example it is always busy travelling away from London on a Friday evening and towards London on a Sunday evening and is probably the same for other large cities too. When school holidays start holiday travel increases too. So you will find that there will be more people travelling on Saturdays as this is often a changeover day for self-catering holidays. However, some people will get away on a Friday night when they finish work or on the last day of term, once their children have finished school. It can therefore be wise to avoid travelling on those days if you can.

Bring activities to do

Once in the car, you may like to be entertained. This might involve listening to an audio book, some music or the radio. If you have children with you they might like to watch a DVD or play on a mobile device. They may also enjoy playing travel chess or other travel games, cards or even drawing. However, do beware that children may be prone to car sickness if they are not looking out of the window. If this is the case then it can be a good idea to think of some different activities to play with them which involve looking outside, such as eye spy or looking out for certain colour cars, brands of lorry, spelling words from registration plates or spotting wildlife. There are plenty of ideas of car games that you could play with them, if you search online.

Plan interesting stops

It can really help to break up boredom on a car journey if you have some interesting stops. Service stations are practical but they are not that interesting and so looking for other places to go to might be better. You may find, for example, that there is a pretty town along the way that you can stop at for a picnic lunch or a play area that the children can go to for a while. There might even be a museum or something like that, which you can enjoy for a few hours. This can really help you to feel that you are on holiday as you are doing holiday type activities.

Even if there are not these opportunities on your journey, it is wise to stop every few hours. Have a walk around as you should be stretching your legs anyway and it will mean that the driver is less likely to feel overtired while driving which could lead to dangerous driving or even falling asleep at the wheel.

Consider staying over

If you are driving a really long distance then it could be worth planning an overnight stop to break up the journey. It can really help with the tiredness that is often experienced when driving long distances and it can also make the trip feel more fun. A stop in a hotel can be a good experience and you can get some great food as well and be fully rested for the next bout of driving. If there is more than one of you that can drive, then this can help as the driver will not get so tired. However, if you have children or others with you, then they may get tired and fancy a break themselves. They may be able to fall asleep in the car, but not everyone is able to do this easily.

Have plenty of food and drink and things to keep comfortable

It is well worth making sure that you have plenty of food and drink in the car, within easy reach to help keep you comfortable during the journey. If you have to stop in queues of traffic or just have a long journey t hen you may need some refreshment. Although a driver should not be eating and drinking while driving as it can be distracting, passengers may want to and the driver may be able to pull in for a few minutes so they can get some refreshments.

It is also good to think of other things that may be needed. You may need blankets or pillows to keep warm and comfortable. If there are children in the car, they may want to sleep and so having a pillow can be really good for them. Making sure that they can keep cool can also be helpful so if you do not have air conditioning in the car, a hand fan, could be a useful thing for them to have.

If children are young, they might also like to have a cuddly toy or comfort blanket if they like this sort of thing. This could help them to feel happier as well as helping them sleep if they want to journey photo


Thinking of Going Abroad for the First Time? How to Choose Where to go.

Going abroad for the first time can be a great adventure, whether you do it as a child or as an adult. It is important though to pick the right destination as it will have a really big impact on your experience. Even if there is a particular place that you have always felt that you wanted to visit, it is worth thinking through different factors to ensure that it is the right place for your first trip abroad.

Travel time

It is wise to think about the travel time to start with. If you are going by ferry or plane for the first time, then you will not know how you might cope with that journey. Therefore it could be wise to plan a short journey to start with. You can do a journey like this for just an hour or a few hours, which could be a good way to test how well you get on with it compared with a cruise which could take weeks or a flight across the world which could take a day or so. If you have children this could be especially important as they may find travelling difficult as it is new and different for them. It may be worth considering using transport that you know that you can cope with, such as a train so that this is not going to be a problem for you.


It is worth thinking about whether the reason that you want to go abroad is to discover a new culture. This can be a great reason for going abroad but you need to make sure that if it something that you want to experience, that the place you choose, will be able to give you what you want. If you go to a large tourist area, then you will just meet people from all over the world and see buildings and activities which have been designed for tourists rather than anything typical of the area. It is therefore important to choose a location that will really allow you to see some of the typical culture of the country. This means that you will need to think about how to achieve this, so you will need a good understanding of the country before you visit so that you can do it.


it is worth thinking hard about what sorts of activities you want to do while on holiday. It might be that you like to spend a lot of time relaxing and doing very little and so place with a pool might be suitable for that. You might like to visit theme parks and so you will need to be close to these. You might like an adventure holiday where you have all sorts of high adrenaline experiences or want to go and visit museums and art galleries. You might want to enjoy winter sports and go skiing or snowboarding. It is well worth thinking about what sorts of things you want to do as this will enable you to pick the best destination to suit those requirements.


If you relish the idea of learning a new language or you speak a foreign language and want to practice it then this might be a big factor in where you decide to stay. However, it may be that you would rather be at a place where a lot of the people there will be able to speak English. There are many countries where they do and so this could mean that you want to choose an English speaking country or one where English is well understood. If you go to an area that is popular with British tourist, then they are likely to speak English anyway.


It is worth thinking about the specific type of area that you would like to stay in. Although picking coast, city or countryside is a bit broad, it should help you to focus. Some people do like a beach holiday where they can enjoy playing on the sand, the water sports and the breeze as well as possibly the sunshine as well. Others would prefer to be in a busy city where there is lots going on with shops, museums, art galleries, theatres, concert halls and things like this. Others prefer to get away from it all and be in a location where it is very peaceful in the middle of the countryside so that they can enjoy clear views and walks without shops and too many people. It is all down to personal taste, but if you are paying for a foreign holiday then you want to make sure that you get a type of holiday that you will really enjoy so that you get the very best value for money.


It is worth thinking hard about the weather. It is tempting to think that it will lovely being somewhere warm and sunny, but you will have to find a way to cope with the heat if you are not used to it. If you are on the coats and can go in the sea or a pool then this can keep you cool but if you are active, then it can get too hot to do much sometimes. Alternatively you might think that it could be good to go skiing and have it really cold. You will be able to wear layers of clothing to make sure that you feel warm enough but you may find that you feel uncomfortable in lots of bulky clothing or that you still feel cold even with lots of layers. Obviously these are extremes, but it is worth being careful and planning well.

So when you are planning a trip abroad it is worth thinking hard about exactly what you expect to get out of the holiday. Think about what you like in a holiday, what you want to experience and what will be right for your family and then you will be able to plan the perfect foreign holiday.plane photo


Self-Catering house versus Hotel – the Pros and Cons

Some people choose to use self-catering places for holidays and others use hotels. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and it is good thinking through the different factors before deciding which one might be the best for you.


It is usually the case that a hotel will cost more money than self-catering. All types of hotels and self-catering places will vary in price though. If you have a holiday budget then you could probably find a hotel or self-catering place that will fit in it. If the places are too expensive you might be able to stay for less days in order to make it more affordable. You also could consider taking your holiday off season when it will be cheaper. A budget hotel could cost less than a self-catering cottage, but you will have to pay for eating out if you are staying at a hotel. With self-catering you can choose to eat in and save money.


Some people really enjoy cooking and like being able to make healthy meals or meals to their taste and therefore being able to self-cater is ideal. Other are not so keen on cookery and really like the idea of being able to have meals cooked for them. If you are in self-catering, you can eat out of course, but in a hotel, you will have a restaurant that you can eat in and this can be more convenient. You can also have food brought to your room so you do not even have to leave the room if you would rather not. You may want to choose a hotel based on the food that they provide, perhaps a specialist one for vegetarians, healthy food or high quality items. It will depend on your taste and requirements and you will need to see if the hotel will be able to cater for you.


If you have a hotel room, then you are likely to have bed(s), desk, chair, and shower room possibly with a bath. You might also have tea and coffee making facilities and a wardrobe. . You will probably also have a television and wi-fi. In some cases you may get a parking space, but this will depend on the hotel and its location. Some hotels may also have gyms, spas and even swimming pools and so this might be something that you think you will really take advantage of and enjoy. If you have a self-catering place then you are likely to have bed(s) shower or bathroom, tea and coffe making facilities, TV, wi-fi and parking space. Unless you are in a studio apartment, it is likely that you will have a lot more as well. You will probably have cooking facilities, perhaps a microwave and hob or even a full oven. You will have a kitchen sink and may have a dishwasher and washing machine as well. It is likely that you will have a dining table and chairs too. You might have a Cd and/or Blu-ray player, books, games, three piece suite and coffee table too. You may have a garden, private driveway and a number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Some places come with games rooms and swimming pool, sometimes private and sometimes shared pools. Obviously what you get will depend on how much you are prepared to pay, but you are likely to have more space if you have a self-catering place rather than a hotel room.


If you have a hotel room then it is likely that the maids will come in daily and tidy and clean the room for you. This can mean that you will not need to worry about doing any of this. With a self-catering place, you are unlikely to have a housekeeping service, although you may be able to pay extra for it in some circumstances. You will therefore have the choice of keeping it clean and tidy yourself or allowing it to get a messy and dirty during your stay and perhaps not be as comfortable. Some places will ask for it to be left in good condition anyway and expect you to keep good care of the place.


With a hotel, you will have less flexibility with things. You will have to vacate your room during the day so that it can be cleaned and tidied. You will also need to have breakfast at the time that it is served, which could mean that you have to wait to have it later or get up extra early for it. There are the same possibilities with other meals in the day, whether you eat in the hotel or not. If you are self-catering you can choose to eat whenever you like.


There is usually a lot more room in a self-catering home compared to a hotel room. This means that if you want to spread out or family members want o have some of their own space then they will be able to do so more easily. If you have a family hotel room, then you will usually only be able to hang out on your bed in the communal room or in the bathroom but with a self-catering home, you will have more room to find places that you can go to be alone or to have more space. This may be particularly useful for teenagers who sometimes just want to be alone or away from their parents for a while.


Sometimes staying in a hotel can just feel a lot more relaxing. It might be because you do not have to worry about cooking and cleaning or because you have a luxurious bedroom or are in a place where you are made to feel special. Some people can feel equally relaxed in a self-catering home, but this is not always the case and it is worth thinking about whether you will feel more relaxed if you have had a hotel break rather than self-catering. You will know what will feel the best for you.villa photo


Best Places to take a Toddler on Holiday

Taking young babies on holiday can be fairly easy as they do not tend to need entertaining and can stay in a pushchair, baby carrier or being held most of the time and they are often asleep. However, once they become toddlers it can be more difficult as they want to be moving about all of the time, they are interested in all sorts of things and they can be hard work! So finding places to take them, where they can be safe and have fun but you can also relax and have a holiday can be quite tricky. It is therefore worth thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of holiday so that you can decide which will be best for you and your toddler.


A coastal holiday can seem like the perfect place for a little one. Lovely beaches where they can play at making sandcastle or digging holes in the sand. This can be a lot of fun for them but some toddlers tend to eat sand and then cry and do not really know what else to do with it, so this is something worth considering. It is also worth thinking about the weather as if it is wet then the beach is not such a fun place so you will need to think about other activities that you can do. If it is really hot then it easy to burn at the beach as there is not usually very much shade, so beware of that as well. If you go to a busy resort, then they are likely to have activities that appeal to all ages and so this could be a great positive. If you go to a pebble or rocky beach then there is less sand to eat and children might enjoy using chalks to draw designs on the rocks. However they may find walking on pebbles or rocks extremely difficult.


The countryside can be a great place to explore new things. Seeing great views and experiencing new plants and maybe animals too can be a lovely experience for everyone. However, with a toddler you will have to be aware of the amount of walking that you might do and the fact that you may need to carry them or use a pushchair which would need to be suitable for the countryside terrain and footpaths. There will also be less entertainment than there might be in a town or city, so you will have to entertain your toddler rather than being able to take to places where they will be entertained.

City break

A city break can be great as there is plenty to do from the museums, shops and art galleries to the theatres, concert halls and cinemas. With a toddler though, you may need to change some of the things that you do. For example anything where you need to be quiet, such as a play, you would not be able to take them to. However, they may find other things interesting such as museums. Shopping may be appealing to some but not others, the same as art galleries, you would therefore need to think about what your toddler likes and whether this sort of holiday would suit them or not.

Theme park

A theme park can be great fun but many of the rides have height restrictions. Often there will be an area for younger children could be a lot of fun for your toddler. However, it may mean that the adults may miss out of the rides they want to go on as at least one of them will have to stay with the toddler and they may get bored as well, waiting for adults on the rides. You may think that if you miss out of the big rides then it could be a waste of money getting into the park. It may of course depend on what type of theme park it is and how many things there are available for young children to do. Therefore it is worth some thought.


Camping is a good way to have a budget holiday as long as you have all of the necessary equipment that you need. You will just have to rent a pitch somewhere. With a toddler you would need to check out the bathroom facilities at the camp site as you would want to make sure that they are suitable for a little one. It might be that they only have showers, for example and toddler often find that baths are the only way that they to wash. You will also need to be sure that they cannot escape the tent when you are all asleep and do not get frightened of the dark. However, this will not be a problem for everyone and they may think it is a great adventure.


Staying in a hotel can be a great way to have a proper break as you will not be cooking meals or have to worry about any chores. They tend to have great facilities too so you can really relax. You would need to find a child friendly hotel which provides a cot or small bed in a family room. You would also need to think about the types of food they might serve and whether they would have things that the children would eat. If you think you might be better taking food for them then see if the hotel room has a fridge.


If you hire an apartment, house or cottage and go self-catering this can mean that you can prepare food that you know your toddler will eat. However, it does mean that you will not get a break from cooking, which could fine if you like cooking but not so good if you do not enjoy it. If you are away for quite a while, then having washing facilities, which you get in some self-catering places can be very useful particularly with a toddler who may need more than one set of clothes per day or clean bedding on holiday photo