The Barefoot Nomad http://www.thebarefootnomad.com Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:03:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Can I Buy Travel Insurance If I’m Already Abroad? http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-insurance/can-i-buy-travel-insurance-if-im-already-abroad/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-insurance/can-i-buy-travel-insurance-if-im-already-abroad/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 02:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15694 Already overseas and forgot to buy travel insurance before you left?

Has your travel insurance run out while you’re on vacation and you want to extend your stay or, heading to an area where it might be a really, really good idea to have travel insurance and you never bothered to buy any before? No matter the reason, buying travel insurance while you’re already abroad happens a lot more often than you’d think.

If you find yourself without travel insurance, and you’re already on the open road, don’t worry, we have the solution.

Zip lining fun

What could possibly go wrong? Charles zip lining in the Riviera Nayarit.

Can I buy travel insurance if I’m already abroad?

Whether you’re a classic procrastinator and forgot, or if your travel plans have changed: the good news is you can probably get travel insurance coverage for the remainder of your trip. Even better, the coverage you get will likely be similar to a policy you’d have purchased before you left.

This is important: No matter which policy you buy, you won’t be covered for injuries or accidents that happened before you buy your policy. So waiting until you’re on the way to the hospital isn’t the best time to buy travel insurance.

Not all travel insurance companies offer travel insurance if you’re already out of the country. In fact, the majority of them require that you haven’t already left on your trip. That said, there are some companies that let you get travel insurance after departure.

Our favorite company is World Nomads. We’ve been recommending them since we started this blog, because they’re reputable, and endorsed by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.

They’re also one of the only companies that offers travel insurance after departure to citizens of multiple countries.

You can use the widget below to find a plan for your trip:

Waiting periods before coverage starts

Some insurers have a waiting period before coverage starts, which is usually just a few days, before your travel insurance coverage takes effect. This is more common for Australian and New Zealand companies, but we’ve also heard it happens with Canadian, UK and US companies.

If you get sick or have an accident during this waiting period, you likely won’t be covered. Insurance companies add this waiting period to protect themselves from fraud from people who’ve gotten sick or injured, and then buy insurance to cover the now existing injury or illness.

That said, check your policy because some insurers have a waiting period, but they’ll also cover you for emergency overseas medical expenses and emergency transport expenses for a sudden illness or serious injury that results from an accident during that waiting period. Every travel insurance company handles the waiting period differently, so talk with your travel insurance agent to see what they do and don’t cover during this waiting period.

Micki and Charles on Motorbike in Thailand

Cruising around Thailand on a motorcycle. That was probably an accident waiting to happen.

Travel insurance coverage for people already abroad

Just like regular travel insurance, the costs and what’s covered under your policy will vary a lot for travel insurance if you’re already overseas. The exact eligibility requirements, and cover you get, will depend on the specific insurer you choose. Talk to an insurance agent to make sure you’re covered for every activity you plan on doing while you travel.

Hospital room in Trang Thailand 2003

Micki’s hospital room in Trang Thailand, way back in 2003 – our first brush with needing travel insurance.

Age limits

Depending on the travel insurance company you choose, age limits may apply. This is common for both standard travel insurance, as well as health insurance you buy when already on a trip. There are some travel insurance policies with no age limit, but some insurance policies have age limits as low as under 60 years of age. Read the fine print to make sure you qualify.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Just like standard travel insurance, depending on the plan you choose, you may also not be covered for pre-existing medical conditions. Of course this depends on your policy, as some travel insurance policies do cover some pre-existing medical conditions like stable high blood pressure.

It’s very important that no matter whether you’re buying your travel insurance before you leave or while you’re already on the road, to always tell your travel insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions when you buy your policy. Otherwise, you might be surprised when you submit your bills that they’re declined.

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

If you’re over the age of 60, pre-existing conditions get more common, and also more complex. We get a lot of questions from Canadian seniors heading south in the winter (called snowbirds) about pre-existing conditions and travel insurance. However, any good snowbird travel insurance coverage should include pre-existing conditions – just be sure to check your policy to make sure that you’re covered.

Tip: Always check your travel insurance policy to know exactly what your coverage offers, and if there are any exemptions. At the end of the day, your policy is your contract and generally supersedes everything else.

Buy this coverageIf you need
Travel medical insuranceYour expenses to be paid if you're sick or injured on your vacation
Trip cancellation and trip interruption
Unfortunately, you likely won't be able to get trip cancellation or interruption insurance if you've already left on your trip. This coverage will reimburse you if you need to cancel or end your trip ahead of time.
Theft and lost luggage coverage To be reimbursed for lost, stolen or damaged luggage
Electronics coverage Payment for stolen or damaged electronics or photography equipment
Emergency evacuation and repatriation To be moved to the nearest hospital or flown home if needed
Payment for damage to a rental car Car collision insurance (CDW)
Assistance finding a doctor 24 hour medical or concierge assistance

It’s probably non-refundable

Of course, each insurer is different, buy many travel insurers don’t offer you a cooling off period if you buy travel insurance once you’ve already left your home country. Instead, these policies are typically non-refundable. If you have any doubt, check your own policy to make sure.

Need some more help?

Have you ever wondered “do I  need travel insurance“?

If you’re a Canadian, and looking for travel insurance, check out our Canadian travel insurance review.

Have you bought travel insurance whilst already abroad? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!

how to buy travel insurance after departure Can you buy travel insurance if already overseas? Yes, you can, and we tell you how and our favorite travel insurance company. travel insurance tips | travel insurance reviews|

 

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Things To Do in Vancouver With Kids http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/canada/things-to-do-in-vancouver-with-kids/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/canada/things-to-do-in-vancouver-with-kids/#comments Thu, 04 Jan 2018 01:30:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15159 Vancouver, one of Canada’s premiere destinations and wildly regarded as one of the world’s great cities, is also only a few hours away from our our place. As such, we’re in Vancouver several times a year with the family.

It’s a fantastic city, and there are plenty of things to do in Vancouver with the family, from indoor fun like the Vancouver Aquarium, to outdoor adventure by the ocean, to thrill seeking fun on either the Lynn Canyon or Capilano suspension bridges.

Things to do in Vancouver with kids

There are hundreds of fun things to do with kids in Vancouver, but we’ve picked the very best for this list.

The Vancouver Aquarium

The non-profit Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is committed to rehabilitation and re-release (wherever possible) of injured, ill or abandoned marine creatures. It also operates Ocean Wise, a conservation program that works directly with local restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to ensure that they have the most current scientific information and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions.

The Vancouver Aquarium is Canada’s largest aquarium and home to over 58,000 animals. It’s a great place to take kids, with the new Discover Rays touch pool, and plenty of kid-friendly exhibits and play areas.

Vancouver Aquarium kids fun

Stanley Park

I’m not sure I can count how many times we’ve visited Stanley Park over the years. Quite handily, it’s right next to downtown and it also houses the Vancouver Aquarium. There are over 1000 acres here, with stunning views of Vancouver’s skyline, and plenty of room for kids to run free. It’s a special place that lets you glimpse the natural wonder of British Columbia’s coast in an urban setting. Be sure to take your time and wander through the giant Sequoia trees. If you love trees, Stanley Park won’t disappoint.

Ducks on Misty Beaver Lake Stanley Park Vancouver

First Nations heritage

The First Nations people of Vancouver have played a large role in preserving Stanley Park in its natural state. If you’re interested in First Nations culture, and especially the relationship between First Nations people with Northwest coast trees and plants, I’d highly recommend taking the Talking Trees tour with Talaysay Tours. It’s a two hour tour, and I was fascinated by our soft-spoken guide’s intimate and detailed knowledge. Just a note, this tour may be better suited to slightly older children.

Horse-drawn tours and railway tours

Everyone on these old-fashioned horse drawn carriages looks like they’re having a blast. The tour leaves from Coal Harbour, and a guide describes Stanley Park’s attractions, which include the Vancouver Harbour, Lions Gate Bridge, the cedar forest, totem poles, and Deadman’s Island and more.

The kids will also love the Stanley Park Miniature Railway and the Prospect Point totem poles.

Stanley Park beaches and more

Everyone in your group will love the miles of stunning boardwalks that line the rugged coast with walkers, joggers, bikers and rollerbladers all cruising by. There are also numerous beaches and beach volleyball courts set up along the shoreline.

Science World at TELUS World of Science

Kids adore Vancouver’s Science World, with it’s fun, hands-on interactive displays like Eureka!, as well as huge special events, OMNIMAX films and real life art exhibits. Even if you don’t go inside, there are plenty of free fun things to check out outside like the giant marble maze and the moving water stand.

With continually changing exhibits and galleries designed just for kids, there’s something new at Science World every time we go.

Vancouver Science Centre

Vancouver Seawall

The Vancouver Seawall is a 28 km (17 mile) long paved pathway that runs along the ocean front through most of metro Vancouver. Views are fantastic here, and it’s always busy with families and health enthusiasts. There are beaches, kids play structures and beach volleyball courts running along the seawall at various places so make sure you grab your swimsuit if you’re there in the summer months.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Kids will love this suspension bridge, which stretches 140 meters (over 450 feet) long and 70 meters (230 feet) high above the Capilano River. The only negatives I can say about it are that it can be busy, and that admission is steep at over $40 for an adult. Kids under six are free, though. As well as the bridge, there’s the Treetops Adventure, a decent collection of First Nations totem poles, rain forest ecotours, gardens, nature trails and the new cliff walk which lets you climb on the outside of a cliff along a slim cable suspension bridge.

The FREE Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

As an alternative to the pricey Capilano Suspension bridge, we like to visit the free Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. The lesser known (and free!) Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon Park is a solid alternative to the Capilano bridge and has some pretty pathways that cross the bridge and lead down to natural pools and waterfalls.

Granville Island

Granville Island, in Vancouver’s downtown district, is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. Both kids and adults usually love a visit.

The main attraction here is the bustling Granville Island public market, full of fresh fruit and veggies, pastries and breads, specialty coffee, ethnic specialty cuisine, and artisan handicrafts. There are also almost 300 stores on Granville Island itself.

As well as the shops, there’s almost always some sort of show being performed on Granville Island. Whether that’s buskers blowing enormous water bubbles for the kids, musicians playing everything from bongos to reed instruments to banjos to dance troupes performing acrobatic stunts, there’s always something there to entertain the kids.

Vancouver Foodie Tours The Best of what to see do and eat in Vancouver British Columbia

Granville Island is surrounded by lovely views of the waters of False Creek and the Burrard Street Bridge. There are marinas and boats all along the shore front here. Also, be sure to take some time to walk by the floating water homes just east of the public market.

Getting to Granville Island

You can either cross the Granville Island bridge on car or on foot (it’s a very long walk by foot) however parking is very limited on Granville Island. As such, most people take an Aquabus Ferry to get there.

The kids will also love cruising around False Creek on the Granville Island Ferries, which runs a fleet of adorable, mini ferries that buzz back and forth between small docks around False Creek and Granville Island. It’s also the easiest way to get to Granville Island if you’re walking in from downtown.

Aquabus at Granville Island Vancouver

The Kids’ Market

Be sure to check out the kid’s market on Granville Island! It’s housed in a large, yellow building, and packed with toy shops and a busy play area. Your kids will love it, but your wallet probably won’t so take that as you will.

The Granville Island Water Park

Despite Granville Island’s small size, they’ve managed to build the largest free water park in North America. It’s open all summer and is a great place to chow down on all the goodies you picked up at the public market.

Kitsilano Beach

Located right downtown, Kitsilano beach is a long swath of soft, gold sand that peeks out over beautiful English Bay.

There’s plenty of fun to be had here resting on huge logs along the beaches, beachcombing for shells and playing in the golden sand. There’s also a playground right there with park benches for the parents and beach volleyball nets set up, ten tennis courts, as well as basketball courts.

Vanier Park

Kitsilano Beach, or Kits Beach as the locals call it, is next to expansive, leafy Vanier Park, which is home to the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the City of Vancouver Archives, and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. There’s plenty of grass and space here, making it perfect for a relaxing day under the trees. If you visit during summer, check to see if the International Children’s Festival is happening in the park which is a popular festival for kids every summer.

English Bay from Vanier Park Vancouver

English Bay from Vanier Park Vancouver

Kitsilano Pool

You’ve likely seen photos of this outdoor, heated salt water pool with city and mountains in the background. It’s only open in the summer, and there’s a place for little kids in the shallows.

Cuddle cats at the Catfe

Catfe is Vancouver’s first cat cafe, featuring adoptable cats from the BC SPCA! Animal loving kids will adore a visit here, but since it’s hugely popular, make sure to make an online reservation as soon as you can since it’s usually booked up days in advance.

Catfe Vancouver

Saving money on your trip to Vancouver

Vancouver’s beautiful and fun, sure, but it can also be a bit pricey. Here’s little list of ways to save some cash in Vancouver.

Attractions near UBC

During our last visit to Vancouver, we stayed on the UBC (University of British Columbia) Campus, at the lovely West Coast Suites at UBC. If you’re looking for a quieter pace, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Museum of Anthropology (MOA) and the Greenheart TreeWalk at the UBC Botanical Garden may be just the ticket.

Tip! If you’re planning to visit several UBC attractions, look into the UBC Museums and Gardens Pass. You can buy adult, concession (senior, youth or student) or family passes. The pass gives you admission to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Nitobe Memorial Garden and the UBC Botanical Garden. It also gives discounts on food, books, clothing and the fun Canopy Treewalk.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum

An enormous blue whale skeleton is the first thing you’ll notice at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Inside, we were fascinated by a dated, but interesting, documentary on how the blue whale skeleton was found, unearthed, and installed. The vault-like downstairs houses more than two million specimens of plants, marine invertebrates, insects, fish, vertebrates, fungi, and fossils. Kids with a naturalist or scientific bent will love this place.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Greenheart TreeWalk and the UBC Botanical Garden

Our kids had a blast tearing along this 310 metre (1,000 foot) long canopy walkway. It’s not as tall or scary as the Capilano or Lynn Canyon Suspension bridges, but the multiple walkways make it a lot of fun for kids. At its tallest, it’s almost 20 metres (65 feet) above the forest floor.

Tip! The Greenheart TreeWalk is not included in the UBC Museums and Gardens Pass, but the pass offers a 10% discount on the treewalk.

The Greenheart TreeWalk is in the larger UBC Botanical Garden, which covers about 110 acres (44 hectares) and has over 8,000 different plants. We loved the long, winding trails through big, shady trees, as it gave the kids (and us!) a chance to burn off some energy.

Greenheart TreeWalk at UBC Botanical Gardens

Museum of Anthropology (MOA)

If your kids are a little older, they may appreciate the beautiful Museum of Anthropology (MOA). Inside, there are stunning displays of First Nations totem poles plus 38,000 ethnographic objects, as well as 535,000 archaeological objects. The MOA building, designed by famed architect Arthur Erickson, is a gem in itself.

Museum of Anthropology Vancouver

The best family accommodation in Vancouver

Deciding where to stay in Vancouver with a family can be a bit tricky. All of the accommodation downtown can be a bit pricier, but it’s a good choice if you want to be near the city’s main attractions. We’ve picked our favorite downtown hotels, an excellent choice just out of the center, as well as a great airport hotel, and our best value option out of the downtown.

The Perfect Location – Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver

A couple of years ago, our little family stayed at the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver for two very happy days.

It’s a gorgeous hotel in a perfect location downtown across from Canada Place, and it caters perfectly to families. Our kids loved sitting in the room looking out over the harbor to watch float planes land and take off, and cruise ships like the Disney Wonder dock. Rooms are modern and beautiful, with plenty of room for little ones to run about, and it has every amenity you would want, from a heated outdoor pool to a spacious gym to quality dining downstairs. There’s even a rooftop herb garden and beehives that you can visit!

See prices and availability.

Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver

Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver

The relaxed family hotel – West Coast Suites UBC

Don’t get me wrong, we love Vancouver’s downtown. It’s interesting and vibrant, with plenty to do and see. However, downtown’s not always a kid friendly place. When the kids were a bit younger, we were in town for a wedding, and got a hotel a close to Granville Street. On the way back to the hotel from the reception, with our then nine and six year olds in tow, we had to dodge a lot of drunk and rowdy folks so choose your place accordingly.

Needless to say, we were up for a hotel that was a bit more relaxed the next time we visited the city.

West Coast Suites at UBC was a perfect choice, with its location out of the downtown core, and surrounded by quiet grounds. Driving to the hotel, you’ll see the spacious UBC campus to one side, and get peeks of British Columbia’s stunning Pacific Coast on the other.

All of the rooms at West Coast Suites at UBC are one bedroom units with a full kitchen and a pull-out Queen bed for the kids. You can read more about our West Coast Suites stay here.

See prices and availability.

West Coast Suites UBC living area

West Coast Suites UBC living area

The airport choice – Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal Hotel

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal Hotel is Vancouver’s only in-terminal airport hotel. It gets great ratings, and might be worth the splurge if you’re looking for a little luxury at the airport. There’s a surcharge for WiFi.

See prices and availability here.

The budget downtown option

If you’re looking for a budget hotel in the heart of downtown, Robson Suites and Sunset Inn and Suites both get good reviews.

We haven’t stayed in either because they’re always infuriatingly fully booked far in advance, but they’re both smaller boutique hotels that should run you close to, or under, $120 a night for a double room. Both hotels include free WiFi, but Robson Suites is closer to Stanley Park (but doesn’t include breakfast, though rooms have a kitchen or kitchenette), while Sunset Inn is right next to Stanley Park (and includes breakfast in the rate).

See Robson Suites availability.

Check Sunset Inn and Suites availability.

A bit of a drive, but great value – Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Riverport Richmond

If you’re up for taking the SkyTrain or driving into downtown Vancouver, and want to save a few $$, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Riverport Richmond is an affordable, clean option. We stayed here for a few days a few years ago, and would stay again. It’s a pretty standard chain hotel, but clean and new, with free breakfast, free airport shuttle, fast, free WiFi, and a pool and hot tub.

See prices and availability here.

The Hidden Gem – The hotel on Granville Island

Granville Island Hotel is one of Vancouver’s less known gems. It’s a boutique hotel located right on Granville Island, overlooking the water, and gets great reviews.

Check prices and reviews here.

Airbnb

As a family, we love staying in Airbnb properties. We always rent a condo or house, which gives us a kitchen, more bedrooms, and often an extra bathroom. The price you’ll pay varies on location and size, but a small private studio starts at around $60/night downtown, while a private two bedroom starts at around $100.

Create a new account using this link, and get $35 USD in Airbnb credits the first time you use them. (We get a credit, too).

Vancouver fun with kids

How to get around Vancouver as a family

Whether you drive, grab the efficient Skytrain, or take a scenic SeaBus, there are plenty of transportation options for families in Vancouver.

SeaBus to North Vancouver

This is relaxing, affordable ride across Burrard Inlet, and gives you a lovely view of Stanley Park, the Lions Gate bridge, and mountains on the distance. Kids will love watching float planes land and watching the other boats on the water.

Ferries

Vancouver public transit includes the SeaBus (above). To get to Vancouver Island or the other off coast islands, you can take a ferry with BC Ferries.

Granville Island has its own ferry company, Granville Island Ferries, with a fleet of adorable, mini ferries that buzz back and forth between small docks around False Creek and Granville Island.

Hop-on, Hop-off Sightseeing

We haven’t had a chance to take the hop-on, hop-off trolley downtown, but our kids’ eyes light up every time they see it drive by. I’m sure it’ll be a huge hit!

Wee ones are thrilled to see Vancouver from an old-fashioned trolley or an open-air bus. With fully narrated tours, Vancouver’s hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tours give a great overview of the city, along with giving families the flexibility to make stops whenever suits them. Hop off to explore all the downtown attractions, then hop back on again to continue to the next exciting destination.

Vancouver Downtown Vancouver Trolley Hop on Hop off Tour

Drive

Driving around downtown Vancouver is certainly possible, and we’ve done it many times. As long as you’re not visiting during a major event, there are usually enough parkades to handle the traffic. Just be warned: traffic can get highly congested during rush hour or if there’s an accident. Parking is also one of the most expensive in Canada and runs $10 to $30 a day in downtown Vancouver, depending on your location.

Skytrain

Most visitors to Vancouver take advantage of the Skytrain service around the city. The system is quick, efficient (trains leave the downtown stations every two to five minutes) and covers most of the city. You can take the Skytrain out to the suburbs, and scenic Westminster Quay on the way to (not so scenic) Surrey.

Public transit

Aside from the ubiquitious Skytrain, Vancouver has a large fleet of buses that cover most of the city and are a great option if you’re staying at UBC.

Uber and Lyft

As of January 2018, ride sharing apps like Uber or Lyft aren’t available in British Columbia, but there are suggestions that may change soon.

Have you visited Vancouver with kids? What were your favorite Vancouver attractions for the family?

Things to do in Vancouver with Kids We travel to Vancouver several times a year with the family. There's always so much to do, including walking or biking the seawall, having fun at the aquarium or hiking through Stanley Park | Vancouver Travel | Vancouver BC Canada | Vancouver with kids | Vancouver with Family #Vancouver #BC #travel Things to do in Vancouver with Kids There are hundreds of things to do in Vancouver with the kids, from indoor fun like the Vancouver Aquarium, to outdoor adventure by the ocean, to thrill seeking fun on the Lynn Canyon or Capilano suspension bridge. | Vancouver Travel | Vancouver BC Canada | Vancouver with kids | Vancouver with Family #Vancouver #BC #travel ]]>
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10 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories  http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/10-creative-ways-to-preserve-your-travel-memories/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/10-creative-ways-to-preserve-your-travel-memories/#comments Fri, 22 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15614 How do you keep the memories alive long after your dream trip is over?

Charles and I have traveled together extensively for over 15 years now. Since we travel so much, we have to be pretty picky about how many souvenirs we pick up.

The truth is, if we bought everything that caught our eye on our travels, we’d need another garage to store everything. Honestly, we probably overdid it in the beginning of our travels, as we still have boxes of souvenirs that we’ll probably never display. As a result of those, we’ve gotten pretty picky about the souvenirs we now bring home.

10 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories

While it’s easy to pick up a T-shirt at any souvenir shop (and we still do sometimes!), we’ve aimed for some unique, interesting ways to preserve your trip memories.

After a lot of thought (and a lot of pruning of the list), these are the travel memories ideas that we love the best.

Send a postcard to yourself

Postcards are a classic way to preserve travel memories. The problem is that often they’re often pretty generic and boring.

That’s all changed now that apps like My Postcard let you send your own photos as physical postcards. You can send then straight from your computer or smartphone from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. How cool is that?

Create a travel scrapbook

I’m not the scrapbooking type, but I do have to admit that they look pretty cool when they’re done.

It honestly looks pretty easy to do: just pick up a travel scrapbook kit, use the book and stickers they provide, print out some photos, and add things like airline tickets and notes.

 

Get a travel memories map

There are plenty of travel memories maps available, and they look great once they’re filled in and framed.

Some maps come with push pins, but most are scratch off maps. The best ones come with a scratcher, memory stickers, an eraser to clean scratch smudges and a magnifying strip.

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Create a memory box

A memory box (or shadowbox) is just a glass enclosed display box for displaying objects. You can even use a picture frame if you only have flat items to add.

Just add photos, plane tickets, and decorations and you’re done, like this DIY beach vacation shadowbox from MomDot, made with sand from a family vacation.

We really love this shadow box frame with a wooden background. It’s available on Amazon here.

Collect a unique souvenir from wherever you travel

Because we travel so often, we struggled with finding souvenirs that wouldn’t take over our house. There are many things that make great souvenirs, like fridge magnets, pebbles, patches, shot glasses, and the like, but we settled on bring home a paper map from wherever we visit.

Even in the age of Google Maps, it’s easy to pick up a paper tourist map at almost any hotel or airport. We just mark places we visit, and make notes to make the maps more personal. The best part is that they take up almost no storage room.

Write a travel journal

I’ve never once regretted keeping a travel journal. It’s amazing the details that you forget over time!

Unfortunately, the demands of working while we travel and taking care of a family mean that I don’t write in my journal as often as I’d like.

A travel journal doesn’t need to be on paper, emails to friends or family are great ways to preserve memories. If you like to write and take photos, consider creating a travel blog!

 

We love this highly rated Dingbats travel journal, made with biodegradable and recyclable materials. Get it on Amazon here.

Retro photo viewer

This is one of the cutest ideas I’ve seen in a while. I haven’t had a chance to try it out personally, but it’s definitely unique and whimsical.

RetroViewers are 3D viewers that are made from your own digital images. Each reel can hold seven images, and you can add text like location, time and so on.

Collect sand from everywhere you go

There’s something wonderful about being able to run your fingers through sand that you walked in on a tropical beach.

There are plenty of ways to display the sand, from keeping it in a bottle, to having it added to jewelry. I like to keep ours in small, separate glass bottles, rather than layering it in one bottle. One drop and it would be mixed together anyway!

You can pick up these adorable glass bottles on Amazon here.

Tip: Just be careful that you don’t take any sand or shells where it’s prohibited.

Keep leftover money

I think we’ve managed to keep just a little bit of leftover money from almost every country we’ve ever visited. Years later, I still love looking at the coins and bills.

If you’re crafty, you can include some of the small bills and coins in a scrapbook or shadow box.

We love this Punch Studio photo box. It would make a great storage box for coins and paper bills, plus other travel momentos.

Get it on Amazon here.

Spices

One of the best ways to bring back memories is through foods and smells. When we can, we love to pick up local spices as we travel and take them home. Cooking with them later never fails to bring back good memories from our travels and, if you can get typical mixtures that the locals, use that’s even better!

It’s unfortunate that spices only retain their true flavor for a few years at the maximum however if you get a local mixture that you love, ask for the amounts of each spice in it so you can reproduce it years later.

Spices in the souks of Marakkesh

Spices in the souks of Marakkesh

Bonus idea: Take more video!

I almost didn’t mention this because it’s pretty self-evident, but video is one of the best ways to keep travel memories. I wish we’d taken more videos on our travels.

As great as photos are, video brings back so many more memories, from sounds to little details you may have forgotten.

How to you preserve your travel memories? Let us know!

DIY ideas for how to preserve and display your travel memories and souvenirs. While it’s easy to pick up a T-shirt at any souvenir shop (and we still do sometimes!), we’ve aimed for some unique, interesting ways to preserve your trip memories. After a lot of though (and a lot of pruning of the list, these are the travel memories ideas that we love the best. 10 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories. Since we travel so much, we have to be pretty picky about how many souvenirs that we pick up. These are our favorites. ]]>
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When is The Best Time To Visit Dubai? It’s Not When You Think http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/asia/when-is-the-best-time-to-visit-dubai-its-not-when-you-think/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/asia/when-is-the-best-time-to-visit-dubai-its-not-when-you-think/#comments Tue, 19 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15575 Wondering when is the best time to visit Dubai?

Spoiler: It’s not when you think.

Well, the truth is you can go anytime, but to really have the best experience, you want to be there when the weather isn’t too hot, so you can hit the beaches as well as the mile long designer malls.

Since air conditioning is common throughout the city, and people do in Dubai year round, it’s definitely accessible for most of the year.

When should i visit Dubai As such, the only drawback to visiting Dubai in the winter is that it also coincides with their busiest season. With that kind of weather and so many unique things to do in Dubai, it’s no wonder everyone wants to visit during winter.

However, if you really want to enjoy your trip, the best time to visit Dubai is from early November to late March. That’s when the average highs make going outdoors a joy, and give you plenty of things to see and do both inside and outside the city.

The Best Time to Visit Dubai

Already sold on booking a trip to Dubai? Then check out hotel and flight deals for getting to Dubai on the biggest travel search site in the Middle East, Wego. If you’re still not convinced, read on!

Dubai’s weather

It’s no secret that Dubai is a hot place. Both figuratively and literally. Temperatures routinely go above 105°F or 40 Celsius over their summer (June to September) while daily highs during winter hit the low 80s and high 70s. That’s plenty high for hitting world famous Jumeirah Beach or spending the afternoon driving the nearby sand dunes in the adjacent desert.

Dubai white sand beaches and skyscrapers in the distance

Dubai Beaches

If you’re still not convinced about the best time to visit Dubai, just remember that Dubai is nicknamed the Desert City for a reason. Dubai literally lies in the middle of the Arabian Desert. As such, there’s no shortage of sand, and though the days can get hot, the nights definitely stay cool outside of their hot summer season.

Dubai is also naturally a dry place, and you can expect nothing but sunshine most days of the year. That said, it does get damp in the hot summer months, so there’s another reason to go to Dubai during the winter.

Dubai’s tourist season or high season

What’s the best season to visit Dubai?

It stands to reason that Dubai’s largest tourist season coincides with the weather. Dubai’s high season runs from November to March as well.

As such, the only drawback to visiting Dubai in the winter is that it also coincides with their busiest season. With that kind of weather, and so many unique things to do in Dubai, it’s no wonder everyone wants to visit during winter.

Airfare  and hotel prices reach their peak prices during Dubai’s high season. However, the big plus is that everything is open during the winter in Dubai. Lots of shops and attractions close down during their summer months when most people aren’t willing to brave the heat.

That means that if you go from November to March you’ll get a chance to visit any of Dubai’s three3 water parks as well as the hugely popular Global Village. There’s also LEGOLAND Dubai (read our review of LEGOLAND Florida here) and the world’s largest indoor theme park, the IMG Worlds of Adventure. You can also get your Bollywood on at Dubai’s Bollywood Park!

Global Village Dubai

Global Village Dubai

Dubai’s shoulder season

Dubai’s shoulder seasons, which are unofficially April/May and then September/October, can get pretty warm. If you love the heat, this might be the best time to travel to Dubai, since things quiet down in the city around this time. That means shorter lineups at the attractions and better deals for flights and hotels.

It’s also a great time to enjoy mornings at the beach and early evenings walking around Dubai’s marina and boardwalks. Dubai truly comes alive as the sun sets.

Of course, it also means that certain places and attraction are either shut down or on reduced hours, so you have to weigh everything out. If you want to see Dubai in all its glory, while also working heavily on your tan, while also saving a few dollars, then Dubai’s shoulder season might be for you.

Dubai Marina at night with lighted walkways and anchored boats

Dubai Marina at night

Dubai’s low season

Don’t like the outdoors anyway or just love a great deal? Then Dubai’s low season, which runs from June to September, might be for you. Sure, lots of things are closed down due to the summer heat, but the world class malls and shops are still open and you can get some killer deals on everything from flights and hotels to store wide sales.

Even better, you can often score some fantastic deals on airfare during low season.

If you’re more highbrow, Dubai has you covered as well. Dubai isn’t known as the cultural center of the Middle East for nothing. There are dozens of galleries, art exhibits, cinemas, music halls, cafes and clubs all around the city that aren’t as dependent on the weather. You can also do everything from indoor skiing to indoor skydiving in Dubai year round, and still enjoy early mornings at the beach and late nights walking along the paved paths and boardwalks along the Persian Gulf.

Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall

Best time to go to Dubai

No matter which season you head to Dubai, there’s bound to be something for you to do in this cosmopolitan, man-made marvel of a city.

In winter, you can enjoy sand boarding down the slopes of Big Red, the colorful 91 meter high sand dune just outside the city, or traveling back in time and enjoying the rich scents, sights and sounds of the ancient souks still found at the heart of Dubai.

In the shoulder season, you can visit any of Dubai’s theme parks and enjoy the empty lines, as well as carefree mornings basking in the Arabian sunshine along the miles of Persian Gulf beaches, while still enjoying the marvels of Dubai at night.

In Dubai’s hot summer season, you can forego the lines and prices and enjoy everything a cultured city like Dubai has to offer. Just realize that you’ll want to spend all your time inside to fully enjoy the city in the summer months.

In short, Dubai has something for everyone all year long and having the third busiest airport in the world means that getting to Dubai is as easy as booking your airfare.

Looking for something unique to do in Dubai? Check out our post on unique things to do in Dubai here.

Where to stay in Dubai!

The Dubai luxury hotel

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in Dubai with a beach and Spa, you can’t do much better than the highly rated Nikki Beach Resort and Spa Dubai. It’s gorgeous, rates well, and many rooms include breakfast. Just be ready to shell out $500 a night or more.

See availability and prices.

The Affordable Alternative

The Dusit D2 Kenz Hotel Dubai is a solid budget choice. It’s got free WiFi and free parking, and often comes in at under $100 a night, and gets great ratings for staff, location, and large rooms.

See prices here.

The family hotel

The Jerimiah Creekside Hotel rates extremely well with families. It has large rooms, good staff, plus fast check in. It should run abour $150 a night.

See prices here.

The Hostel

You can’t do much better than Dubai’s At the Top Hostel. There are Privates, Twins, Quadruples as well as Female/Male/Mixed Dormitories for 2, 4, 6 & 8 guests, and it’s a few minutes walk to the public beach with famous Barasti beach bar. WiFi and breakfast are free.

See prices and availability.

at the top hostel dubai

UAE society celebrates the return of British Polo Day | Dubai

British Polo on Camel

The Best Time to Visit Dubai Since air condition is rampant throughout the city, and people do live there year round, it’s definitely accessible for most of the year however, if you really want to enjoy your trip, the best time to visit Dubai is from early November to late March. Dubai - when to visit. Well, the truth is you can go anytime but to really maximize your experience, you want to be there when the weather isn’t too hot so you can hit the beaches as well as the mile long designer malls. ]]>
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How Masterpass Saves Us Time and Hassle on Travel http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/how-this-hack-saves-us-time-and-hassle-on-travel/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/how-this-hack-saves-us-time-and-hassle-on-travel/#comments Mon, 18 Dec 2017 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15626 To know me is to know two things: First, I love to travel, and second, I’m all about saving time.

It drives me crazy when something is inefficient. Don’t even get me started on the 45 minutes it takes to fill out passport and address information for a family of four for every flight out of the country we take.

I have so many better things to do than fill out forms. I swear. Like relaxing with family over the holidays, looking into our next trip or even just watching a great flick.

We’re home in Canada for the holidays this year, and I’ve been trying to find every way possible to save time and hassle. One of my favorite hacks for saving time is using the Masterpass digital wallet for travel purchases and holiday shopping.

Like me, Masterpass is all about efficiency. It makes checkout quick and easy by keeping my address and payment details securely organized. I love that I can bypass the address and credit card information form and just approve my order!

So how does it save time?

Once you’ve done the one time, quick signup with Masterpass, all you need to do is shop online and enter your Email or mobile number as well as your password to pay by clicking the pay with Masterpass button. There’s no more finding your wallet, digging out your credit card, entering that long string of numbers (and you know you always get it wrong the first time!), your expiry date, your address, and then the CVV code from the back. You can also skip putting all your shipping information in since Masterpass already has that information as well.

I also like that you don’t have to worry about any old company storing your precious credit card information on their insecure servers. Masterpass has some of the most secure servers out there and you’re also protected by multiple layers of security as well as their awesome zero liability protection.

So once you’re done shopping online and your cart is full, you just click Masterpass, and enter your Email or mobile number and your password to pay. No filling in personal details, no extra steps and no unnecessary forms! I love that! If only I could use Masterpass to fill out those irritatingly long forms at customs!

The cool thing is you don’t need a Mastercard to use Masterpass. It’s free (and fast!) to sign up, and most credit and debit cards are supported, including non-Mastercard cards.

Here’s how to use it:

#1 Visit Masterpass.com and signup with your email address or mobile number.

#2 Add your credit and/or debit cards (even prepaid cards!) and shipping information.

#3 Shop online wherever Masterpass is accepted (thousands of companies accept Masterpass).

#4 Simply click Masterpass to pay.

Tip! There are always great deals with Masterpass. There’s currently $25 off of $100 or more on Costco.ca using Masterpass, but deals change all the time, so be sure to keep checking back.

Welcome to Masterpass

Using the Masterpass hack to save time and hassle

We’re starting to book our travel plans for spring and summer, and I’m loving that Masterpass is accepted at some of our favorite travel heavyweights like Via Rail Canada, WestJet Vacations and Air Canada. Even better, Masterpass is accepted online or in-app at thousands of other great stores, including Cineplex, Costco, The Globe and Mail, Indigo, Joe Fresh, Landmark Cinemas, London Drugs, Lowe’s, Pizza Pizza, and Roots.

I’m about an inch away from using my Masterpass to book our next trip, and I have a few great ideas. Here’s how some of the fantastic journeys we have planned can be made easier with Masterpass.

Take the trip of a lifetime across Canada with Via Rail

Despite being Canadians by birth, we have yet to cross our gorgeous country by train.

A train trip across Canada has been on our bucket list for years, and I’m hoping this is the year to make it happen. We’ve heard wonderful things about riding across Canada with Via Rail on the Canadian. The route goes from Toronto to Vancouver, with plenty of amazing scenery along the way.

There’s also a pretty spectacular train ride on Via from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world.

Stock up on travel essentials

We’re spending most of this winter in snowy Canada, and I’m getting some serious wanderlust for somewhere warmer. For now, I’m stocking up on travel essentials at Costco. We’re set to go with a GoPro HERO 6, some new luggage, and I’m eyeing up a new camera as well. Paying is a breeze with Masterpass.

Tip: If you haven’t booked a car rental with Costco before, it’s well worth a look. We almost always find the most affordable rental car rates on Costco. On last year’s trip to New Hampshire, renting with Costco saved us over a hundred dollars.

Fly the family for a winter getaway

I’m watching the Westjet Vacations website like a hawk these days for the perfect time to head down to Las Vegas for a cheap getaway. A few day’s escape from the snowy winter sounds like heaven, and I love that Masterpass lets me book anytime, without cash on hand, to make traveling easier.

We’ve been to Vegas a few times now however it’s been over six years (where does the time go, honestly!) since we were there last, so we’re due for a little fun.

Las Vegas Nevada

Fly with Air Canada to visit family

For us, family is scattered all across Western Canada, from Vancouver to Calgary to Winnipeg. Since we live in BC, that means a very long road trip, logging 23 hours straight from Vancouver to Winnipeg to be exact. That’s an awful lot of audiobooks. Our alternative is grabbing a flight across country.

Guess which one I prefer?

Dirt road in Saskatchewan

Sure, it’s beautiful, but we’ve road tripped by this dirt road in Saskatchewan dozens of times. Time to catch a flight instead!

Have a whole lot of fun at the movies

While I’m booking our spring and summer travel adventures, I’m saving time and hassle by using Masterpass here at our home base.

I just used Masterpass to book us tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi with Landmark Cinemas.

No matter where we are in the world, you can count on our nerd flags flying high and proud!

Want to learn more?

Need more time? Yep, us too. Save time by using Masterpass this holiday season for all your shopping needs.

Sign up now for Masterpass.

Follow along on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Your chance to win!

And now we get to do one of our very favorite things – give you a chance to win!

Enter the contest below, and help spread the word about Masterpass, and you could be entered to win one of three $100 prepaid Mastercards this holiday season!

Masterpass Holiday

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How To Relax In Comfort While Not Traveling: We Review the VIZIO M50-E1 TV and Crave Go Speaker http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/tech-2/how-to-relax-in-comfort-while-not-traveling-we-review-the-vizio-m50-e1-tv-and-crave-go-speaker/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/tech-2/how-to-relax-in-comfort-while-not-traveling-we-review-the-vizio-m50-e1-tv-and-crave-go-speaker/#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 20:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15366 We received a VIZIO TV and Crave Go speaker for review. All opinions are our own. 

There comes a time in many nomadic people’s lives when the open road doesn’t hold as much interest as it once did. That was around two years ago for us when we decided to set up a home base back in Canada.

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t still love to travel, because, well, we do, but living out of a perpetual suitcase can take its toll on the spirit. Especially the consumerism spirit. You know, the one that prefers Black Friday to Thanksgiving, Boxing Day to Christmas, and well, you get my drift.

The VIZIO M series TV

While living out of a suitcase can be liberating, freeing you from the things that hold you back, it can also limit you from achieving total comfort and relaxation. While I admit nothing beats lounging in a world class spa or floating in a warm sea for relaxation while I’m out globetrotting, when it comes to comfort on a cool day, at least in my mind, nothing beats a warm comfortable bed.

That said, one of the things we recently picked up that has made our life more enjoyable while not on the road is a new VIZIO 4K TV for our bedroom. Talk about total comfort. A super comfortable bed and a TV that streams 4K Netflix whenever I want? Yeah, you’ll thank me later.

VISIO TV Menu

VISIO TV Menu

Not wanting to overdo it, we limited ourselves to a 50 incher. I mean, there’s comfort and then there’s just decadence. Especially for a bedroom TV. We did however get the second highest quality 4K LED TV that VIZIO offers, the M50-E1. The only better model that VIZIO currently offers is the P series and, to be honest, we’re more than pleased with the M series.

Check out our unboxing video below.

Unlike the previous generation models, the M series doesn’t come with a tablet, but this time it has a fully functioning, normal remote control, which I prefer. We already have phones and tablets to spare, so having another one to charge and deal with would have been more of a hassle. Of course, this VIZIO model still features Chromecast abilities included with its VIZIO SmartCast suite, so if you want you can still stream just about anything to the TV via your own phone or tablet.

VIZIO TV and remote

VIZIO TV and remote

Another nice perk this year compared to last, is that the VIZIO TV also has built in apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. This is great, since it allows us to start watching the moment we turn on the TV and doesn’t require an outside source. The fact that it still has Chromecast built in also allows us to say to our Google Home (another small luxury we recently purchased), “Hey Google, play Stranger Things on the TV in the bedroom” and when we get up the stairs our show is waiting for us.

Here’s a little peek at of some of the apps that are available to cast with Chromecast.

Chromecast apps

Now, luxury has its cost, but the VIZIO TVs are priced well for what you get. Plus, they’re often on or leading the best 4K TV lists. As a matter of fact, the M series are usually noted as one of the best 4K TVs on a budget or off. Check out prices here at Amazon.

Cartoon time for the kids!

Cartoon time for the kids!

Since the VIZIO M50-E1 is a 4k Ultra HD LED TV with HDR10, that means 4K content from Netflix and YouTube looks amazing. Since it comes with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats, you don’t need to worry about which format their HDR content is in. The display defaults to Dolby Vision, which typically offers a better picture than HDR10, when it’s available.

It also has 32 local dimming zones, which means you get great blacks compared to other LED TVs, which is great for dark scenes in shows or movies. Its V8 processor means it’s quick at navigating in the apps, and with 802.11ac WiFi it can connect well with our router without buffering issues or requiring me to run Ethernet cables to it.

I also like its small bezel, and though we hung ours up on the wall (it comes with 400×400 VESA mounts), it comes with cute little metal feet. When it comes on, the VIZIO’s colors are vibrant and the picture quality is fantastic. Because of the auto dimming zones, movies and dark shows look great on this TV.

Installing the metal foot stand on the bottom of the VIZIO TV

Installing the metal foot stand on the bottom of the VIZIO TV

Some of my not so favorite aspects of the VIZIO M50-E1 is that the viewing angle seems fairly limited. It tends to wash out the farther away you are from center, but that doesn’t matter in our room where we sit directly in front of the VIZIO TV. I also find it has a bit of a glare with its somewhat shiny screen, but we usually watch this TV at night with the lights off so it’s not a big deal for us either and, in my mind, the dark blacks more than make up for these issues.

The VIZIO TV line up don’t include a built-in tuner, so you can’t watch over the air broadcasts without a separate device. This isn’t a problem if you have cable or satellite since you’ll be using those boxes anyway, but it does force you to pick up a cheap box (check prices for OTA tuners here) if you wanted to capture free over the air signals. Our city only gets one over the air channel so it’s not a big deal for us either.

VIZIO TV

One of our favorite things about this TV is that casting videos to it is just so easy. We just start whatever app we want on our phones, like YouTube or PopcornFlix, and with a tap and swipe it shows up right away on the VIZIO. Like I previously said, the VIZIO also plays nicely with our Google Home and Google Home Mini and you can tell it to play videos directly as well as control the TV with your voice.

We truly wish our main TV had this functionality, and you can rest assured our next one will have Chromecast abilities built in as well.

VIZIO TV and remote

All in all, we love our new VIZIO bedroom TV and it makes coming back to Canada from a long jaunt out in the world that much easier. A bigger problem is that we get so comfortable it makes it harder and harder to leave…

Casting with the VIZIO Crave Go speaker

In our time off from travel, we’ve also been having a blast casting to our VIZIO Crave Go speaker using our Google Home.

The VIZIO Crave is a wireless speaker with Chromecast built-in, which means it’s compatible with Google Home, Google Home Mini, and the Google Assistant. The Crave Go is compatible with all your Chromecast-enabled audio apps, like Spotify or Pandora.

We’ve been using it to cast Google Play Music into our kitchen, from the Google Play in our living room.

VIZIO Crave Go portable speaker

Since it’s wireless, we’re really looking forward to using it to listen to tunes on our back patio when the weather warms up a bit. VIZIO says there are six hours of battery life, so that should give us plenty of time relaxing in the hammock in the back yard. Just note that it isn’t water resistant!

What’s really cool is that when we cast over WiFi from our phone, it means that our music isn’t interrupted, even if we get a text or phone call.

This is definitely one nice looking speaker. There’s a good looking metal grill that over the front and top of the speaker. Since it’s portable, there’s soft, rubberized, plastic on any sides that may bump while it’s being moved.

It has a nice, sturdy feel, and it definitely has a look of quality.

VIZIO Crave Go Speaker

VIZIO Crave Go Speaker

There’s a kick stand on the back that we use to keep the speaker upright. Underneath, you’ll find a USB port, the power button, a charging port, and an auxiliary port. The volume buttons are on the side, as is a Bluetooth and a play/pause button.

How does it sound? It’s plenty powerful, and teamed with our Google Home, it has a nice sound for around the house, though we found the bass a bit muddy.

The Crave Go or Crave Pro(see below for a little chat about the Crave Pro) can be part of a multi-room system. If you have multiple speakers, you’re able to link them together to play the same thing everywhere, while still playing different things in different places.

Crave Pro wireless speaker

If you’re looking for an at home (non portable) speaker, VIZIO also offers the Crave Pro, also with Chromecast built-in.

The Crave Pro speaker is designed for multi-room pairing, to connect with other VIZIO SmartCast™ Crave Wireless Speakers for seamless listening throughout your home.

We didn’t get a chance to try the Crave Pro, but we thought we’d give it a mention, as it’s VIZIO’s slightly higher quality speaker, and its sound gets great reviews.

Like the portable Crave Go we tried, the Crave Pro works with Google Home, Google Home mini, and the Google Assistant. The Crave Pro is compatible with all your Chromecast-enabled audio apps, like Spotify or Pandora.

Crave Pro speaker

VIZIO Crave Pro

VIZIO Smart TV VIZIO M50-E1 Review VIZIO Smart TV VIZIO M50-E1 Review 4K HD

 

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The Best Gifts For Travel Lovers http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/tech-2/the-best-gifts-for-travel-lovers/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/tech-2/the-best-gifts-for-travel-lovers/#comments Fri, 01 Dec 2017 01:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15445 Are you looking for the perfect gifts for the travel lovers in your life?

In the 15 years we’ve traveled together, and the eight years we’ve blogged on The Barefoot Nomad, we’ve had a chance to road test quite a few travel gifts.

Some have been instant hits, like our GoPro HERO 6, my SCOTTeVEST travel jacket, and packing cubes. There have been some duds as well, but we’ve left them out so we can concentrate on showing you the best travel gear out there.

The Best Gifts For Travel Lovers

Here they are: our very best gifts for travel lovers.

Tep Wireless International WiFi Hotspot

What is it? The Tep international WiFi hotspot is a palm-sized gadget that gives you Internet access anywhere in the world.

We’ve traveled with our Tep for well over a year now, and it’s now an essential part of our travel kit. For just dollars a day, we can get WiFi almost anywhere in the world. Even better, we just pay for it when we need it. Check out our in depth review.

Want 10% off? Use our link to Tep Wireless and enter barefootnomad where it asks for the Discount Coupon.

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Rosetta Stone

Would you love to learn a new language? We’re learning Spanish, and it was incredibly useful lately in Mexico, Columbia and then Ecuador to be able to easily order at a restaurant, or understand bus and plane schedules.

To get started, you can download Rosetta Stone and learn to speak the language of your choice in your own time. Live online tutoring sessions and online learning games make it fun, and you can choose the program that’s just right for you.

Subscriptions come in 3, 6, 12 and even 24 month packages, and you get the flexibility to learn another language on your schedule, with any device, from anywhere in the world. You can even download lessons to your mobile device to continue learning offline.

Want to try it out first? Click here to try the Rosetta Stone Free Demo.

Get your online subscription here, and learn from anywhere your mobile device takes you. Follow Rosetta Stone on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

Rosetta Stone

Joby GorrillaPod Smartphone tripod

We bought our Joby GorrillaPod about a year ago, and it’s become an indispensable part of our travel kit. Despite its small size, it’s surprisingly sturdy, and a lot of fun to tote around and use.

This little stand for smartphones has flexible legs, making it easy to level on uneven surfaces like rocks and trees. It folds easily, and it’s easy to slip into a pocket or our day bag, and lightweight as well. It has an adjustable phone holder that should fit almost all smartphones with no problem, as we use it regularly with a Samsung S6 and iPhone 6.

Buy it on Macfixit Australia

Joby GorillaPod Tripod for Smartphones

GoPro HERO 6

We just picked up our GoPro HERO 6 a couple of months ago, and we’re loving it.

Unlike older GoPro models, there’s no case to snap on and off. It’s waterproof as is, and it takes gorgeous 4K video and photos. See our sample video here and our tips for taking great family photos and videos!

We’re Canadian, so we picked our GoPro HERO 6 up locally from Sport Chek, but they’re available almost everywhere, including Amazon.

Buy it from Amazon here.

GoPro Photo of the GoPro-8406

What’s a GoPro without accessories?

The GoPro is made for action, and it’s the perfect little camera to bring in the water. The problem is: it doesn’t float. We use a bobber floaty for it in the water, and it keeps it from sinking to the bottom or getting lost in ocean waves. Buy the bobby floater on Amazon.

The GoPro can also use a bit of battery life if you use the WiFi feature, so it’s helpful to have a second battery always charged. Buy it on Amazon here.

We also love our Joby Gorrilapod for getting great shots. This version comes with an adapter for the GoPro. Buy on Amazon.

If you’re looking for a bunch of other accessories, we’ve had great luck with this inexpensive after market BAXIA TECHNOLOGY 44-in-1 kit that’s chock full of accessories like a chest harness, head strap, and plenty more. Everything we’ve tested from this kit has worked with our older GoPro 4 Black and the GoPro HERO 6. See it on Amazon.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes honestly changed my life. No more digging through a suitcase to find that last pair of underwear, and no more dirty laundry accidentally jumbled in with the clean.

We use eBags ultralight packing cubes, but they’re a bit expensive (though incredibly lightweight and durable).

If I was buying packing cubes again, I’d seriously consider the Amazon Basics sets, which get stellar reviews, and look similar.

Buy on Amazon.

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera

As a family of four, with two kids, we’re constantly struggling to keep our travel gear as light as possible.

However, as travel bloggers, we need a DSLR for good quality photos and video.

So, we opted for one of the smallest and lightest DSLR cameras on the market: The Canon EOS Rebel SL1. It weighs less than a bottle of water, and the camera body fits neatly into my hand.

We’ve been using the same little SL1 for over four years now, and still love it. Sometimes, we talk about upgrading to a professional grade DSLR, but they’re just too bulky, too expensive, and our lightweight SL1 does a fantastic job for us.

See prices on Amazon here.

Travel Jacket

My women’s SCOTTeVEST Chloe Glow travel jacket is by far my favorite item of travel clothing. It’s cute, comfortable, and has a whopping 18 hidden pockets to store all my travel gear. Even better, it’s nicely fitted, and is never bulky. See my review here.

Buy on Amazon.

Looking for a men’s jacket? The men’s SCOTTeVEST travel jacket has a whopping 25 pockets and great ratings. See the men’s jacket on Amazon here.

Travel Adapter

Every traveler needs a good travel adapter. The Orei World Travel Power Plug Adapter is rated one of the best out there, and it even comes with a built in dual USB charger.

Get it on Amazon here.

Tip! A travel adapter connects your plug to the outlet wherever you travel. An adapter does NOT change the power output coming from the outlet so make sure your devices can handle the local voltages.

Quick drying travel underwear

When you’re trying to pack light, quick drying travel underwear is a must. You need something that you can wash out in a sink or bathtub at night, and that will be dry by morning.

ExOfficio fits the bill. They’re lightweight, fit comfortably, and dry quickly. We have a couple of pairs coming for review, as we’ve heard from other travel bloggers that ExOfficio underwear is their favorite.

Buy women’s ExOfficio travel underwear on Amazon.

Buy men’s ExOfficio travel underwear on Amazon.

Books and a Kindle for the traveling soul

If your budget won’t quite reach to a high end camera or a trip, a Kindle is almost always a great gift for a travel lover.

We have the Kindle Paperwhite and love it. The only thing that we wish ours had was the cellular connectivity (it’s about a $70 add on). Cellular connectivity is free (after the initial buy), and it will let you download and shop on the go anywhere in the USA or roam in 100+ countries without an additional charge for wireless data. Trust me, your traveler will love this.

Buy the Kindle Paperwhite on Amazon.

reading the Kindle by the lake

As for books, here are a few of the most popular travel novels out there to get you started.

  • Eat Pray Love. The classic by Elizabeth Gilbert has probably inspired more solo trips than almost any other book. See it on Amazon.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. The book’s protagonist buys an abandoned villa in Italy, and learns to love the simplicity of rural Italian life. The book was made into a movie starring Diane Lane and Sandra Oh. See on Amazon.
  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. This is a fantastic book for outdoor lovers. It chronicles her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26. See on Amazon.
  • In A Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson. This is my favorite travel book of all time. It has Bryson’s trademark wit, along with plenty of interesting and entertaining tidbits about Australia. See on Amazon.
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. A wonderful, international best seller about Santiago, a shepherd boy who yearns to travel the world. See on Amazon.

Audiobooks

We also adore audiobooks for travel. Every year we drive thousands of kilometers across Canada and the USA to visit friends and family, sometimes logging in over 40 hours and four thousand kilometers behind the wheel over a week or two.

Audiobooks are an absolute lifesaver on those trips. When we start a great audiobook, the hours fly by as we drive across our gorgeous country. It’s a great way to keep the kids entertained, and keep us from going stir crazy.

An Audible subscription with Amazon makes a fantastic gift, and you can even sign your travel lover up for a free trial to see if they like it.

Check out Audible on Amazon.

Best backpack for travel

We’ve moved on from traveling backpack only to wheeled carry on only these days, but for many years we traveled with a backpack.

While most people get a backpack based on features and cost, the most important thing is probably making sure you get the right size backpack for your frame. As a woman who’s five foot five, I’ve tried on a few backpacks that are geared for tall men. What a mistake! They’re uncomfortable, the straps dig in, and even worse, the waist straps are often too big.

For women, the Osprey Aura 65 AG Backpack consistently gets great ratings, and it’s sized perfectly for female travelers. Even better the Osprey comes in small, medium and large for a perfect fit.

See the Osprey Aura 65 AG Backpack on Amazon.

For men or taller women, the Deuter Aircontact 65 +10 is a great choice, as is the Osprey Pack Atmos 65 Backpack.

See the Osprey Pack Atmos 65 on Amazon.

See the Deuter Aircontact 65 +10 on Amazon.

Keeping your gear safe with a travel pouch

There are a lot of choices for keeping your travel gear safe, from fanny packs to belt wallets to traditional money belts.

When we’re in a situation where we need to keep our valuables as close to us as possible, we usually choose a neck travel wallet (see our extensive review of them here). A neck wallet has room for passports, credit cards, money and the like. It’s small enough that you can wear it under your shirt and no one can see it.

Tip: The most secure way to wear a neck wallet is like a gun holster; over your neck, with one strap under one arm. If you wear it only around your neck, it’s easy for someone to rip off. The only downside is that it’s a bit embarrassing to have to lift up your shirt to access your wallet if it’s slung under your shoulder. Keep it slung in front of your body.

Silk is a good choice for a neck wallet. It feels good against the skin, plus it’s durable, washable and lightweight. I wore the Eagle Creek Silk Undercover Neck Wallet almost every day for a year. It was lightweight, thin, and comfortable, though I did have to sew the straps back on after about nine months.

Click to see prices here.

If you’re looking for something with RFID protection and that’s water resistant, the Venture 4th Travel Neck Pouch Neck Wallet gets stellar reviews. It’s a great alternative if silk isn’t your thing.

Click to see prices on Amazon.

Carry on backpack

For my last few solo trips, I’ve been trying out a top-loading Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 anti-theft adventure backpack.

It’s surprisingly lightweight, has a padded tablet sleeve, a wealth of pockets and locking zippers, and anti-theft Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into it complete with RFID protection. At 18 inches high and 9 inches wide, it’s small enough to use as a personal item with most airlines, and it holds an awful lot. It also has a molded frame that sits on the body quite well.

Get it on Amazon.

External battery chargers

We never leave on a trip without grabbing our external battery chargers. Finding a place to plug in our smartphones, the kids electronics, and our tablets, is a constant hassle, so now we have a few chargers with us at all times.

Our little Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger travels with me in my jacket pocket wherever I go. It’s less than 3 oz (80 grams), and less than 4 inches long, so it’s lightweight and compact. I can get a full charge for an iPhone or Samsung S6 from it.

See it on Amazon.

Our go-to charger for the family is an older version of the PowerCore+’s bigger sister, the Anker 20100mAh Portable Charger PowerCore. It can charge two devices at once, and has high speed charging.

See it on Amazon.

Headlamp

Admittedly, a headlamp isn’t the first thing you’d think of as travel gear, but our Petzl Tikka headlamp has been a must pack item for us for the past 10 years. It’s still going strong after a decade.

Even in the age of smartphone flashlights, we still love it because it lets us have a hands free light. It’s perfect for camping, and finding our way around strange cities after dark. We’ve used it for home renovations where we need our hands free, and the kids love to play with it, which is a bonus.

The Tikka we use takes three AAA batteries that last us months, and it’s lightweight enough that we carry it with us in our day bag everywhere we go.

Buy it on Amazon

Gifts for the home

While we spend a lot of time traveling these days, we also spend a fair bit of time at our home base in Canada.

We’ve included a few of our favorite at home items here. Even travel lovers like us like to spend a bit of time at home!

We’ve been eyeing up a new TV for a while now that does beautiful 4K images. We’re loving the look of the VIZIO M50 SmartCast 4K HDR Home Theater Display, which features Google’s Chromecast built-in and is compatible with Google Home and the Google Assistant.

I can’t wait to watch some of our favorite travel TV shows and movies on this beauty!

See it on Amazon.

 

We’ve also been having a blast with our Google Home Mini.

It’s powered by Google Assistant, so you can ask it questions, set reminders, control your smart lights, turn on your TV to watch Netflix, and even play some fun games.

We’re big Stranger Things fans, so we’ve had a blast using our Google Home Mini to chat with Dustin from Stranger Things 2. Check out this video, where they chat with Dustin on his walkie talkie and head into the Upside Down!

What’s your favorite travel gear? Let us know in the comments below!

best gifts for travelers. Are you looking for the perfect gifts for the travel lovers in your life? We can help. #travel #gifts #traveling Best gifts for travel lovers #travel #gifts #traveling ]]>
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Marival Residences Luxury Resort Review: Family Friendly Luxury http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/mexico/marival-residences-luxury-resort-review-family-friendly-luxury/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/mexico/marival-residences-luxury-resort-review-family-friendly-luxury/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15281 marival sponsored disclosure

Last year, I was lucky enough to spend a few days at the Marival Residences Luxury Resort in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. So, this year, when Marival invited the whole family along to check out their Family Emotion Program we were happy to join in.

When you need a break, sometimes an all inclusive hotel is the perfect choice. Winter was creeping in on us in Canada, and the idea of a stress-free vacation somewhere with a long stretch of beach and some nice warm swimming pools sounded like exactly what we needed.

 

Why a special family program? If you’ve ever traveled with kids, you know that it’s a completely different experience than traveling alone or as a couple. Days of lounging on the beach and partying the night away are long gone, and replaced by playtime in the sand and mid-afternoon naps (it’s not all bad).

How much does it cost? Click here to find out.

The Family Emotion Program at Marival does a really good job of figuring out what parents and kids want. There are plenty of fun activities, a concierge to help organize your trip, and goodies for both the parents and the kids!

The Marival Family Emotion program

Marival’s all-inclusive Family Emotion program is just for families. It includes a ton of goodies, all which are customized for your family’s needs. I’m pretty sure they thought of absolutely everything!

Family concierge service

I think the very best part of the program is that each family gets a family concierge to help with their stay. Our Family Emotion concierge, Raquel, was absolutely wonderful. She was attentive to us (but never intrusive), and always helpful and welcoming. We had absolutely first class service from her – as good as any hotel we’ve ever stayed in.

Welcome basket

Inside our room, we found a welcome basket of healthy and sweet snacks. With hungry kiddos, this was the perfect welcome!

snack basket at hotel

A stocked mini-bar with family goodies

Our full size fridge came stocked with soda, beer, juice, yogurt and chocolate milk! Even better, it was refilled every day and we could request just about anything from the resort.

Marival suite kitchen fridge

Nanny Service!

Yes, you heard me right: up to eight hours of child care is included during your stay (conditions apply). That means that if you want to go out together for anything from a special meal to a few hours at the spa you can knowing your children are in good hands.

Kids Club

Every day from 9 am to 5 pm, you have the option of dropping your kids off at the kids club. They can play video games, do crafts, and have a lot of fun while you enjoy a few kid free hours.

Gifts for the kids!

There was an adorable bath basket in the kid’s bathroom, waiting for each child. This included some tub toys and some special child friendly bath products.

kid's gift basket

Pampering for Mom

Our room came with a gorgeous basket of high end L’Occitane pampering essentials for Mom, and a gift certificate for the on-site spa (more on that later!)

moms gift basket

Beach essentials and toys

In our suite, we also found a bag filled with sunscreen and beach essentials, plus a family menu to help us select from a broad choice of beach and pool toys, as well as other vacation essentials. Once you’ve selected from the list, pass the form back to the Family Emotion concierge and they’ll deliver everything right to your room.

Family picnic

One of the great Family Emotion options at Marival Residences is that you can order a fully prepared picnic for wherever you like. You can have it delivered to the beach or by the pool. We had ours dropped off in our room to enjoy beside our semi private demi pool. The chocolate cake dessert where a huge hit with the kids and we enjoyed the mountain of guacamole they included in our specially made picnic basket.Our Marival Family Emotion picnic

In Room Family fun!

When we ventured out on our own, our kids adored the free Xbox console and game rental they provided. There are also DVD players, movies, electronics, water toys and more available via the Family Emotion program.

Outdoor family fun!

As well as the kid pool and the always entertaining splash pad, Marival Residences also has a playground area and they even rent out free bikes so you and the family can go for a family excursion. The best news, a few of them are 3 seaters so even the littlest riders don’t get left behind.

A family photo shoot

I couldn’t remember the last time that we had a family photo shoot!

The Family Emotion Program comes with a professional photo shoot, with a photo album and CD, plus a gift card to develop prints when you’re back home.

We were very happy with our family photo session. The sky was a little cloudy however the photos turned out beautifully and the photographer was fun to work with.

a photo from our family photo session

Included Tours and fun!

The Family Emotion package comes with a free off site activity for every person, as well as a free second family tour.

There are numerous options to choose from so went zip lining as a family, and also had a blast driving on a little RAZR off road vehicle over a giant swinging suspension bridge.

RAZR car over the river

Want to learn more? Check out our article on what to do in the Riviera Nayarit, with 23 wonderful experiences, from visiting the bustling surfing town of Sayulita, to checking out the idyllic vibe of San Pancho, to snorkeling the aquamarine waters off Marietas Islands (where you can see birds like blue-footed boobies of Galapagos Islands fame).

Zip lining fun

 

Our room at Marival Residences

Our two bedroom Family Emotion suite with a semi private demi-pool was a whopping 1,711 square feet. That’s huge!

When we walked into the nicely air conditioned space, we saw a modern open-plan living space with a full kitchen, dining area and a living room with a large flatscreen TV.

The two bedrooms each had a private en-suite bathroom, plus each had a flatscreen TV. Our master bedroom had a lovely deep bath and King-size bed, while the kid’s room had two double beds.

Marival master bedroom

We even had our own private washer and dryer, plus our ground floor suite had outdoor lounge chairs by the pool as well as a patio table and chairs.

Marival bedroom

The kiddos loved the fridge filled with drinks, and the fruit and snack basket. Anyone with kids knows they get hungry at the most inconvenient times so that was a huge plus when the kiddos were feeling peckish.

Marival kitchen

What about maid service? Yep, it’s included. Our daily cleaning service was always on time, and did a great job. They also provide turn down service complete with tasty little snacks like chocolate or cookies.

All of the Family Emotion accommodation is in two or three bedroom suites, with the option of an ocean view, a demi-pool, a penthouse suite, or even a three bedroom private villa.

In our demi pool ...

In our heated demi pool …

The Hotel

There’s definitely something wonderful about an all-inclusive, no worries vacation. Once we donned our cool, braided bracelets from the Marival Residences Luxury Resort, we could eat and drink all we wanted. Not only could we enjoy all of the facilities at our resort, we also had access to the nearby Marival Resort’s facilities and restaurants.

This is a great deal, as you essentially get two resorts facilities for the price of one. The Marival Resort sister hotel is just five minutes away. There’s a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes from the main lobby and the Marival Resort also has a special area devoted just to the Marival Residences as well as the rest of the resort.

WiFi: There’s WiFi Internet access throughout Marival Residences Luxury Resort. I had great luck with my connection, which rarely dropped, and worked reliably in my room and all throughout the resort. That said, if you find your internet connection to be slow, ask for an upgrade, as they do have faster speeds available.

The Food at Marival Residences

In general, we found the food quality well above what we’ve had at a typical all inclusive in Mexico.

The all inclusive program includes all snacks, breakfast, lunch, drinks and a la carte dinner specialties, plus national and international brand drinks.

There are five restaurants on site, plus the VIP beach club, room service and poolside service, in addition to six restaurants at the sister resort, Marival Resort & Suites.

As vegetarians, the kids and I were very happy. There were always vegetarian options available, which is wonderful, because we often have a difficult time at resorts!

There’s really not much bad to say about the food here, but we’d love to see a few more family friendly menu items always available at the hotel, like pasta or pizza. Since the menu for the Lemmon Grass was a set menu, there wasn’t a lot for kids there. When we went inside to Omaggio, the theme night was Asian, and like many US and Canadian kids, ours don’t love Asian foods. When we went upstairs to Insu, we found a few items that the kids loved, but it would be nice if the main restaurant, Omaggio, always had a few kids’ items available, or a separate kids menu.

Room Service!

Room service is included with the all-inclusive package at Marival, though you do pay a 10% surcharge. Being able to get room service 24 hours a day, seven days a week was one of my favorite parts of staying at the Marival Residences. The kids loved it too!

We had great luck with room service, as it came quickly and everything was the correct temperature and quite tasty. Our room was close to the main lobby, so that may have made it especially fast. Their breakfasts were especially tasty.

Insu Sky Lounge

Insu was my favorite restaurant at Marival Residences Luxury Resort. It’s located in the penthouse of the main building, above the lobby, with an impressive view overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Menu items are all bite size to share, and we all found everything to be delicious. My kids adored the bite sized Caesar salad and especially the grilled cheese while Charles raved about their great sliders.

Omaggio

The largest restaurant at Marival Residences is Omaggio. The menu is huge, with a great selection, and it offers a themed evening menu for each day of the week.

Lemmon Grass

Located outdoors, Lemmon Grass is a casual and elegant poolside restaurant. It has a set menu at night however the menu varies by day.

Lemmon Grass Restaurant Marival Residences

Grill al Fresco

Grill al Fresco is outside by the pool, and has plenty of dishes for breakfast, including Mexican delights, an omelette station, and a selection of fruits, juice and pastries. At night the Grill al Fresco transforms into a barbecue.

Brunello Lobby Wine Bar

Brunello Lobby Wine Bar is a lovely, intimate spot to enjoy tapas and a glass of wine (some wines are not included in the all-inclusive plan).

Poolside snack service

If you’re in the mood for a snack by the pool, just wave over a server, and they’ll bring you snacks and drinks poolside. Our family can wholeheartedly recommend the chips and dip as well as the fries. The guacamole everywhere in the hotel is extraordinary!

Mozzamare Beach Club

The brand new, ocean side Mozzamare Beach Club serves up (my favorite!) tasty guacamole and chips, fresh seafood as well as gourmet dishes and beverages. They were still partly under construction when we were there however the area was already looking gorgeous and, judging by all the smiling people, a huge hit with the crowds.

Mozzamare beach club

Mozzamare Beach Experience

There’s beach access, a Palapa Restaurant and another gorgeous pool here, and this beach section is only a few minutes walk from the main area, conveniently on site at the Marival Residences Luxury Resort. Charles and Cole both grabbed a free boogie board and enjoyed the waves while we all enjoyed watching dolphins jumping out of the water in front of us. The Mozzamare beach club is new this year, and it’s a fantastic addition from my trip last year.

We also enjoyed a special night time celebration at the Mozzamare Restaurant and think that it would be the perfect location for an outdoor wedding!

Food at the sister Marival Resort

Guests of the Marival Luxury Residences can also eat at the sister hotel, the Marival Resort. The Marival Resort has several restaurants, including La Pergola (the large buffet restaurant), Piazzetta del Forni (thin crust pizza), Las Palmas (Mexican cuisine), La Palapa and Miramar Bars, La Bamba Rodizio, and Amalfi (Italian).

The Melange World Spa

If you’re a spa lover, then the onsite Melange World Spa is for you. The spa treatments and decorations are based on therapies from around the world so if you love choices, then this is the spa for you!

At Melange, you can enjoy a specialized World Spa Experience from Mexico, Italy, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Bali, India, Thailand, or the USA. Each spa is unique, and based on the spa history and culture for which it’s named.

Italy Spa at Melange World Spa Marival Luxury Resort and Residences

Italy Vendimia Wine Experience

We had a wonderful time with the family spa package. Both of our kiddos (aged eight and twelve), enjoyed a facial and massage with us. I think that our daughter may have found one of her new favorite things to do on vacation.

Our little girl enjoying a chocolate facial

Our little girl enjoying a chocolate facial

If you’re interested in a few of the other World Spa experiences, these two definitely stand out as all around faves:

The Italy Vendimia Wine Experience starts with a wine therapy bath in an original wooden winebarrel, where you enjoy a wine tasting, followed by a full body relaxing massage.

The India Shirodhara Spa Experience includes a Shirodhara treatment with herbal oil that is poured in a steady stream onto your third eye, and a gentle scalp massage to help relax the nervous system. All of this is done on a traditional wooden table (with padding to make it comfortable) that was imported from India. Following the oil treatment, there’s an Abhyanga therapy whole body massage with warm herbal oils, followed by a steaming hot water bath in a luxurious copper tub.

Melange World Spa India Shirodhara Experience

India Shirodhara Spa Experience

All of the spa treatments are uniquely customized to the area of the world where they originated. For instance, the Mexico Agave treatment (which I enjoyed last time) featured a facial and body wrap with the native agave plant, cacao, honey, aloe vera, and Mayan mud, with a facial and body exfoliation and a light body massage. There’s also a specialized couples massage, or a men’s wellness & renewal treatment.

Melange World Spa Couples Massage room.jpg

Couples Massage

Melange also offers traditional spa treatments, including facials as well as hand and foot treatments.

Marival Residences Family Emotion

The beach in nearby Sayulita

Where is Riviera Nayarit?

The Riviera Nayarit, which includes Nuevo Vallarta, is the northern neighbor of well-known Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s ruggedly beautiful Pacific Coast. The Puerto Vallarta airport actually serves both areas and is actually closer to Marival Residences (around 15 minutes) in Nayarit than some of the downtown hotels on the Jalisco state side.

The bottom line

Like many Canadians, we’ve been to many all-inclusive resorts, and we’ve visited Mexico many times over the years.

The Family Emotion Program at the Marival Residences Luxury Resort was, hands down, one of the very best family programs we’ve ever enjoyed. It’s a perfect place to visit for a stress-free, relaxing holiday with the kids!

Want to book? Just head over to the Marival website to book directly with the hotel.

We even have a great deal for you with the Marival 100 Free Extra Ahhs promotion.

You can get a $100 Spa Credit to relax and celebrate the brand new Marival Residences Beach World! There’s a 5 night minimum stay.

You need to know:

Hotel: Marival Residences Luxury Resort

Where to book? You can book directly with the hotel.

Online Reviews: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Address: Av. Paseo Cocoteros Lt 53 Villa 8, 63732 Nuevo Vallarta, Nay., Mexico

Location: Half-hour drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta

Nearest Airport: 15 minute drive from Puerta Vallarta’s PVR airport, the Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport

Phone: +52 322 226 9740

This trip was in partnership with Marival Residences Luxury Resort and the Riviera Nayarit tourism board.

Riviera Nayarit All Inclusive Family Luxury Hotel Riviera Nayarit All Inclusive hotel ]]>
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Things to do in Isla Mujeres http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/mexico/things-to-do-in-isla-mujeres/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/mexico/things-to-do-in-isla-mujeres/#comments Sat, 25 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15372 It’s no secret that we love Isla Mujeres on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. Warm blue waters, fantastic beaches, good snorkeling, and a great selection of restaurants all make Isla Mujeres a must see if you’re on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.

Located only a short 20 minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres makes a great day trip and an even greater longer mini escape from your Cancun vacation.

Oh yeah, have I mentioned you can drive the entire island on a golf cart, in half a day? We did it the first time a few years ago and it’s still one of our favorite family travel highlights.

Beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Likewise, if you find yourself down in Playa Del Carmen, Akumal, Tulum or even staying on Cozumel, then Isla Mujeres is pretty easy and inexpensive to get to. We’ve done the trip from Playa del Carmen more than a few times now and have enjoyed our trip to Isla Mujeres every single time.

Now, we’ve written about Mexico‘s Isla Mujeres a few times over the years and, to be honest, not much has changed. Of course it’s grown, but that only means more golf cart rentals and more options. We don’t find that it’s gotten any busier and it seems there’s just more to do there these days with a lot more places to rent from.

Isla Mujeres

Things to do in Isla Mujeres Mexico

So, without any further ado, here are our things to do in Isla Mujeres.

Rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres

Haha, if you read our previous Isla Mujeres post you don’t think I’d miss this one. There are now dozens of golf cart rental companies on Isla Mujeres, and though they do still occasionally run out during the holidays and busiest times of the year, most days you’re fine as long as you arrive before noon.

You can pretty much drive to every place on the island, and if you’re there for multiple days, you can spend lazy afternoons on different beaches every day. You can walk or take a taxi most places on the island, but if you want true freedom, rent a golf cart and enjoy yourself.

Sea birds at Isla Mujeres

Relax on the beaches on Isla Mujeres

Since we just talked about beaches, there are around six semi-official major beaches on Isla Mujeres and a bunch of smaller ones. Some, like Playa Norte, feature bars and beach chairs and on many you can rent SUPs, kayaks, water toys and even snorkeling equipment.

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte (North Beach) is by far the most popular and is often rated one of the best in the Caribbean. Playa Norte is just minutes from downtown, and the palm trees and luxurious white sand make Playa Norte muy hermosa. Playa Norte has almost no current, and kids and adults can wade pretty far out and the water will only reach their waist.

Playa Posada, found along the west side isn’t as crowded, however the water isn’t as clear, and Playa Media Luna is a beautiful crescent shaped beach but the water can be rough.

Playa Indios, Playa Paraiso and Playa Lancheros are all more secluded beaches found on the west side facing Cancun. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas there, and open air restaurants, gift shops and public bathrooms are close by.

kids playing in the sand in Isla Mujeres Mexico

Stay in one of the many lovely hotels in Isla Mujeres

There are lots of hotels to choose from on Isla Mujeres, and they cater to every taste and budget. You can stay on the beach or off, with a family or as a couple, at places like Beloved Hotels, an Adults-Only Boutique All-Inclusive. With swimming pools and all inclusive plans, staying at a hotel in Isla Mujeres can be a great way to start or end a long day seeing the sites.

La Tortuga Granja (The Turtle Farm)

Love sea turtles? So do we, and that’s why we always stop by the Turtle Farm in Isla Mujeres. Since large sea turtles have made Isla Mujeres their breeding ground for generations, the Turtle Farm gathers up the eggs it finds along the beaches and incubates them at the Turtle Farm thereby greatly increasing their chances of survival.

It's turtles all the way down at La Tortuga Granja

It’s turtles all the way down at La Tortuga Granja

Depending on the time of year you’re there, you can see hundreds of turtles in the tanks growing up in the large tanks around the property. There is a great celebration the day they’re released back into the wild.

Hands on at the Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm

In the main building there is also a small aquarium with sea horses, lobsters, crabs, tropical fish and even an octopus. There are also a few land turtles and family of iguanas who hang out along one side of the building.

Sea Turtles at Tortugranja

Sea Turtles at Tortugranja

The Joysxee Floating Bottle Island

If you’re looking for quirky things to do in Isla Mujeres, you can check out the Floating Bottle Island. Created a few years back by Richart Sowa, this floating recycler’s dream is completely built using used plastic water bottles and recycled materials, including a three story house and an outdoor bar. You’ll need to talk to the locals about its current location, since the floating house moves around the island from time to time. There is a small entrance fee.

Punta Sur

Located at the far southern edge of Isla Mujeres, Punta Sur features not only the highest elevation in all the Yucatan, but it’s also the easternmost point in all of Mexico. That’s right, the sun hits Punta Sur before anywhere else in Mexico and we’ve heard that it’s a glorious sight.

Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Featuring an ancient Mayan temple honoring the Mayan Goddess Ixchel, it also boasts a lighthouse and dozens of modern sculptures around the property. Due to some of the most dramatic sea cliffs in all of Mexico, Punta Sur makes a great place to grab a bite to eat while looking out to sea.

Punta Sur Coast

Punta Sur

MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum

Conceived by Jason deCaires Taylor, Isla Mujeres is home to the largest underwater museum on earth. The clear waters off Isla Mujeres make a great place to scuba dive or snorkel while seeing how thousands of underwater sculptures change in time in regards to coral growth and marine interaction. The scope of the project is mind blowing and the combination of art and marine conservation is great to see.

Garrafon Reef Park

The Garrafon Reef Park is a great place to spend an afternoon. Its all-inclusive packages include a buffet lunch and an open bar. Not only do they feature zip lines over the clear aquamarine waters, you can rent kayaks, snorkel equipment, life jackets and they have plenty of hammocks to lounge on as well as relax in their infinity pool. Admission includes bathrooms, lockers, showers and entrance to the Sculpture Garden and Punta Sur.

Garrafon Natural Reef Park

Garrafon Natural Reef Park

Garrafón de Castilla

The Garrafón de Castilla is right next to the Garrafón Reef Park at the south end of the island, and your entrance fee includes lounge chairs with beach umbrellas, restrooms and shower areas. You can rent snorkel gear and lockers here. They have a small snack bar and a restaurant right on the property.

The Zocalo (Town Square)

Located in the center of town, the Zocalo or Town Square comes alive most evenings as celebrations, dances and events kick up with local Mexican families and tourists alike sharing in the celebrations. You can eat tacos and pastries from the vendors lining the park, as well as pick up souvenirs from local artists. The kids will enjoy the small playground.

Isla Mujeres Mexico pier

Fun on the water in Isla Mujeres

We’ve talked about the beaches, but there is also world class deep sea fishing in the water of Isla Mujeres. From deep sea fishing for marlin, sailfish and dorado to spear fishing tuna and barracuda, Isla Mujeres has some of the best sea fishing in the Mexico. Tours and guides can be hired for the day or the week.

Isla Mujeres with Cancun in Background

Look closely! You can see Cancun on the horizon.

Fun under the water on Isla Mujeres

Being surrounded by water means some of the fun things to do in Isla Mujeres occur under the water. You can snorkel and scuba dive all around the island and there are dozens of companies that will take you out on a scuba or snorkel tour to see many types of corral and colorful tropical fish including sailfish from December to June.

From June to September you can swim with giant Whale Sharks and anytime of the year is great to swim in the National Park that’s filled with the MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum’s sculptures. Most tours include lunch buffets as well as snorkel gear.

Have you been to Isla Mujeres? Do you have any tips? Let us know!

 

Things to do in Isla Mujeres Mexico. We've written about Mexico's Isla Mujeres a few times over the years and, to be honest, not much has changed. Of course it's grown, but that only means more golf cart rentals and more options. We don't find that it's gotten any busier and it seems there's just more to do there these days with a lot more things to do and see. Isla Mujeres Mexico things to do plus tips secrets and photography. ]]>
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A Naughty or Nice List for Aviation Security from CATSA http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/a-naughty-or-nice-list-for-aviation-security-from-catsa/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/a-naughty-or-nice-list-for-aviation-security-from-catsa/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15507 This post is brought to you by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

If you think Santa’s list is long, you should check out the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s (CATSA) What Can I Bring list.

It’s basically a naughty-or-nice list for aviation security. The What I Can Bring list is a searchable database saying what can and cannot pass through airport security in your carry-on or checked luggage. It has hundreds of items, so here’s a seasonal selection of what’s good to go and what’s a no-no this holiday season.

Naughty

Here’s what not to bring on the plane this holiday season.

Replica weapons

This shouldn’t be too surprising, but if you’re helping Santa to bring toy guns, replica knives or anything similar this holiday season, you’ll have to mail it to your destination or pack it in your checked baggage.

Liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in containers of more than 100 ml

Pack your egg nog in your checked bag if the container is larger than 100 ml. Passengers are allowed to bring only as many smaller containers as can fit inside a 1L bag (which is available at the checkpoint). Check CATSA’s website for more info.

Liquids CATSA

Wrapped gifts

Leave your gifts unwrapped when bringing them through the security checkpoint, in case their contents need to be inspected. In some airports, gift wrapping services are available after security during the holiday season.

Wrapped gifts CATSA

Nice

Wondering what’s allowed in your carry-on this holiday season?

Electronics

Portable electronic devices are allowed in your carry-on, so feel free to load up your tablet with holiday movies to watch on the plane. However, you may be asked to remove your device’s protective case, and to power it up at the checkpoint. CATSA’s security-screening page has everything you need to know about screening procedures.

Electronics CATSA

Medications

Does it feel like your immune system is already on holiday? Medications, even non-prescription ones like cough syrup, are permitted in your carry-on, and they’re exempt from the 100-ml naughty-list rule. For more info, check out CATSA’s special medications page.

Baby food/drinks

We all know the holidays can be hard on parents, but air travel doesn’t have to be. Things like baby food, juice, formula and breast milk for children under two years old are also exempt from the 100-ml rule, and so are ice packs used to keep them cold.

If you’ve checked their list more than twice (take that, Santa), but if you still don’t find the item you’re looking for on CATSA’s What Can I Bring list, you can send a picture or a question to them on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy holiday travels!

 

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