Join Free: singlesbythebaytravel.com Our singles travel club Eastern Europe trip was not only filled with amazing history & architecture but plentyRead More »
Singles cruises are a great way for people to meet in a relaxed and safe environment. Many cruise liners now offer specifically designed lofts for solo travellers, allowing you to share a connecting room with a single friend, while still having the option of some privacy if needed. Travelling overseas can sometimes be difficult when you’re flying solo, with increased room rates and potentially unsafe travelling conditions. Cruising provides a secure environment, along with extensive value for money. If you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation, with the chance to hook up or maybe even meet the love of your life, jump aboard one of these amazing cruises perfect for singles.
11 Night Single Occupancy Queensland Coast Cruise
Sailing aboard the infamous Rhapsody of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines will take you on a journey to have a blast with other singles! Cruising along the spectacular Queensland coastline and departing from Sydney, singles can mingle with fellow passengers at one of the many luxurious bar lounges on board. There are also a couple night clubs on the ship perfect for connecting with other single travellers.
7 Day Northern Europe Grand Princess Cruise
Sailing amongst the picturesque surrounds of Northern Europe truly sets the scene for romance. Departing from Southampton in London, your cruise will take you on the experience of a lifetime through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Relax with a movie under the stars or visit one of the many popular bars or nightclubs on this luxury ocean liner.
17 Night Transatlantic Civitavecchia Cruise
Enjoy the finest of everything in life, on board the ‘Norwegian Epic’, with its state of the art designs for single travellers. Aboard this transatlantic journey with Norwegian Cruise Line, singles can enjoy relaxing in their own specially built ‘singles cabins’, after a day of enjoying cocktails in the on board singles’ lounge. Suites on board have also been designed to allow singles who are travelling together to have connecting lofts, while still have that extra privacy when needed.
7 Day Alaska Golden Princess Cruise
Princess Cruises was one of the first major cruise lines to introduce the idea of ‘singles cruises’. Now, this reputable cruising company has recently introduced the ‘Golden Princess’ ocean liner, which offers singles cruises for ages 40+. If you’re looking to fall in love amidst the romantic setting of Alaska, jump on board this pristine cruise ship today. Guests will be treated to all of life’s little luxuries, including cabaret productions, art galleries, and an ‘adults only’ retreat.
12 Night Western Mediterranean Cruise
The P&O International Cruise Ship, the Azura, offers speciality designed cabins and facilities for solo travellers. Aboard this elegant ocean liner, you’ll cruise the Mediterranean Sea, enjoying the lavish alfresco spa terrace which has been designed just for the adults on board. Extravagant wine bars can also be found on board, providing the perfect way to relax after a long day of fun in the sun.Read More »
Top 3 Hostels in London
London usually sits at the top of any traveler’s to-do list, and rightfully so. Here are a few tips on great hostels to stay at while visiting this eccentric city.
Located in the down town area, Clink 78 is filled with rich history and cozy rooms designed to satisfy their visitors’ every need.
– Over 200 years ago, Clink 78 was a courthouse, and it is even the same place where The Clash stood trial.
– In another part of this former courthouse, Charles Dickens came up with the idea to write Oliver Twist.
– Each room features a unique bedding style of high-tech pods, private rooms, or former police cells.
St. Christopher’s Inn
This self proclaimed “international party house,” is more for outgoing visitors who love food, beer, and an energetic atmosphere.
– This hostel has a designated Belushi Bar that’s open 24 hours a day.
– St. Christopher’s is located near Notting Hill and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Lodge at Crystal Palace
Located at the center of 200 acres of private park, this up-beat hostel is a ten-story tower of fun and excitement.
– Contains a state-of-the-art gym and track, where Usain Bolt and Tom Daley are known to visit.
– Features a dinosaur trail and grass maze.
If this article is getting you excited for your next budget trip to London, check out Hostel Bookers to find these great accommodations and many more.Read More »
You know what happens when you go on vacation? You look around and spy a t-shirt that would be perfect for your best friend, and then you see a pair of earrings for your co worker, and if you get one co-worker something you have to get the rest of your co-workers something so you pick up a box of candy to take to the office when you spy a tea towel with a recipe that your Aunt would like. That’s how it starts; most of us have been there. The insult to injury are the handful of key chains that you grab at the last minute along with those 5 for $20 shirts for those “just in case I missed someone” gifts.
When you arrive back home, after paying the extra $50 for overweight checked in bag you begin to sort through your travel treasures. This one for your sister, that one for your BFF and these you’ll take to work. Then it dawns on you that you really bought too many “things” and you have key chains, shirts, trinkets and overpriced “authentic” items in abundance. A big pile of stuff, stuff that you don’t need and that you can’t think of anyone to give it to. So what do you do with those left over key chains and baubles? I used to keep all my extras in a plastic storage bin, along with any coasters, brochures, and oddball things like menus. Yes, I have taken menus home with me, my favorite one was from Bahia, Brazil because it had “srimps” listed as one of the menu items.
Much to my disappointment, I realized that extra key chains and geegaws make really great Christmas ornaments. Decorating your tree or home for the holidays is not only festive but a reminder of the places that you were able to visit. You guarantee a uniquely decorated tree that gives you the opportunity to tell the stories of each one at a Holiday party. Guests will appreciate your stories much more than a slideshow of all the photos you took.
How about the t-shirts? What do you do with shirts once they are outgrown, worn through, ready for the give away pile? I ended up with an entire drawer of t-shirts that I had collected over various trips. I find that I wear the same t-shirts over and over though. I don’t really have the need or opportunity to wear 50 or 60 shirts. So, what do you do with a drawer full? How about a memory quilt, a quilt of shirts that tells the story of your traveling days? On those cold winter nights when you need something to wrap up on the couch and snuggle in with your honey you can retrieve a one of a kind, truly personal quilt.
Use shadow boxes to make wall hangings that hold miscellaneous knick-knacks along with train stubs, museum tickets, left over coins, postcards and place a print of a photo from your trip to act as the background. These are just 3 ideas for you to display, keep, organize and creatively manage all those extras that you pick up along the way during every adventure. There must be a hundred more, what’s your idea?!Read More »
We had traveled on a bus for one and a half hours to arrive at Otavalo, a market in one of the high mountain towns near the capital of Ecuador. Getting off the bus, we first encountered the animal market, where locals come to barter and buy every kind of animal available in Ecuador, including alpacas and sheep (for wool); and pigs, chickens, and even rabbits (for cooking).
I was still new at photography (and travel), but fancied myself a good photographer. And as we rounded the corner of a stall selling necklaces made from coconut shells, I spotted a rare photo opportunity. A woman who appeared to be in her 70’s, dressed in the beautiful indigenous clothing of the Andean natives, carving teeth into a flat blade. She was carving the teeth of this blade with a hacksaw. It looked like hard work.
This same blade would have been machine tooled in the United States, and probably sold for $20. Her blades were hand tooled, took about 20 minutes to make, and cost just $1 each.
I learned this all later.
But I snapped photo after photo of her going about her work. Pretty soon she noticed.
She said something in a language I do not know (she didn’t speak Spanish, English, or German). I tried to understand her, but I couldn’t. And so instead, I just walked by.
As I passed her, she whacked me with the flat of the blade on my backside. It stung a little, but gave me a couple of instant realizations: I had done something wrong, and whatever I had done wrong could have been hazardous to my well-being.
Turns out, she wanted me to buy one of her blades (just $1) in exchange for all the pictures I was taking (without permission).
This was early on in our travels around the world, but taught me one of the three most important lessons I’ve learned about taking pictures while traveling.
Lesson 1: Ask first
Sometimes there may be a fee for taking someone’s picture. Sometimes they may want you to buy something in exchange, and sometimes they may just be happy to be in your picture (sometimes with you) for free. But always ask before taking pictures. If you don’t speak the local language, you can always take out your camera, point at it, and ask “O K?” Sometimes people will shake their hands and walk away (a clear no sign), but most times people will oblige and allow you to take a picture with them. However, if they say no, respect their wishes because great photos are everywhere. And if your photo subject is a person who is selling something, consider buying it in exchange for the photos you’re taking.
Lesson 2: Take lots of pictures, and delete them same day or next day
Digital pictures cost nothing to develop. There is every reason while you are traveling the world to take lots of pictures. Carrie and I sometimes take up to 20 pictures of a subject to get just the perfect shot (which is usually something other than the shot we expect it’s going to be). The only reason not to take lots of digital pictures is that more pictures take up more storage space. But with both 32 GB storage media and backup hard drives being extremely affordable now, you can alleviate that issue by simply purchasing a higher capacity SD card and a backup hard drive that you use exclusively for pictures. But this storage space issue does bring up a point. If at all possible, delete pictures right away. You will want to review your pictures on a full screen, rather than on your camera’s viewer, as often there are details that are just to difficult to notice on a smaller screen. However, if you wait to delete your pictures for even a few days, the law of diminishing intent kicks in, which says that the farther we get from an original intention, the less likely we are to do something about it. Even if you’re exhausted in the evening while traveling, take 5-10 minutes to put your photos on your computer (assuming you are traveling with a laptop) and look through them each day. If you are not traveling with a laptop, review your pictures in the airport or at an internet café before going home. Once you get home, it is highly unlikely that you will edit them, because the pressures to get organized and back to your daily life will again be part of your world, so review your pictures while the memories are still fresh and while you’re still able to be in the moment and spirit you were in when you took them.
Lesson 3: Organize and backup
Organizing your photos on your computer (right away) makes it simple for anyone (you included) to look back at your photos later and figure out where you were and what you were doing. Develop your own system of organization, or feel free to use ours. Each day that we take pictures is a folder of it’s own. We name it the so that it will sort correctly when the list is displayed alphabetically/numerically: YYYY-MM-DD-some-description-here. For example, if we went to Otavalo Market on the 22 of November, 2009, we might name the folder as 2009-11-22-otavalo-market-ecuador. Once you have your folders stored on your computer in a way that makes sense for you, back them up. My brother having his home broken into taught me that having too many backups is a good thing (he still lost a lot of pictures and data to thieves). There are multitudes of services for backing up your photos and files including Google Extra Storage (through Picasa), BackupBlaze, and a host of others. Pick one, pay for it, and backup your photos away from wherever your computer is. If you want, you can also purchase your own hard drive and back up your photos to a separate drive, whose only purpose is to serve as a backup to your online backup.
This may seem like a lot of work, but there’s one thing more valuable than any travel experience – the memories and learning that experience provides. A great photo can be a powerful trigger to remind you what it was you did and learned while you were traveling. By asking permission, you build good will and the opportunity to build relationships. By taking lots of pictures (and deleting the bad ones right away), you make those memories easy to recall. By organizing and backing up your photos, you make sure that your experiences can be enjoyed for years to come.
Do you have a story or advice about taking pictures abroad? Tell us in the comment box below.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————– About the Author: Jonathan Kraft and his wife Carrie have traveled to more than 30 countries in 24 months. After taking more than 25,000 pictures during their travels, Jonathan now realizes he’s “just getting started”. You can get more great tips and advice from Carrie and Jonathan at http://www.carrieandjonathan.comRead More »
Volcanoes and Kona coffee; that was essentially what the Big Island of Hawaii was in my opinion. I had always wanted to see live lava flow and douse myself daily in Kona coffee. I was checking out trips from Singles by the Bay Travel Club and spied their too good to be true 8 days on the Big Island trip that promised me adventure, so I saw lava! My journey began in Hawaiian time for 11 strangers; myself in a luxury home overlooking the Kona coast and siren evacuations triggered by the March 2011 Japan Tsunami. Yes, the day of our arrival was the devastating earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that also struck the Hawaiian Islands.
We were up just shy of dark o’clock each morning, gathering our gear, packing lunches, water and cameras. Our first stop was Volcano Park for a 4 mile Crater Hike. As we stepped downward further into the crater we walked past lush flora and plant life, tentatively wondering what they were. We rounded a corner and found ourselves staring out at a stark landscape. Flat, dry and filled with lava rock formations we pondered the sensibility of our decision. The other side seemed so far off in the distance you could barely see other people. No turning back – we set out and climbed up every structure we could to look into fissures hoping for some lava flow. No lava that day but our reward after a victorious crater hike was being able to relax in the naturally heated Thermal Pools about 45 minutes south of Volcano Park.
Every day brought a new way to stretch our boundaries, experience something new and find strength both mentally and physically. Whether it was in a 1-mile decline that led to Waipio Valley, trekking across sandy beaches to discover hidden places, or traipsing over lava rock to ancient petroglyphs; we had the impression that Pele was offering up her best to us as a reward. Some of our hikes and snorkeling led us to unusual findings from the waves that had pounded Kona days earlier. Fish, crabs, sea life and other sunken oceanic debris that found itself stranded on lava rock a mile or more inland. I am not athletic but I found myself wanting to get further outside of my comfort zones and have a full experience. My first encounter with kayaking was daunting. I admit I almost bailed a number of times, thoughts of capsizing, getting stuck, and drowning peppered my mind. We were paired up so that everyone had a partner who was more experienced so they could tutor those of us who were not.
Having a partner that was encouraging and thoughtful gave me confidence to pretend I knew what I was doing. It felt exhilarating to be in that kayak and glide across Kealakekua Bay. We paddled to the right to survey the remains of a rooftop, cars and other wreckage that was swept into a rock wall by the Tsunami. A cooler sat next to a bathtub, and fragments of wood were scattered in the water. We paddled on to reach the white obelisk on the shores and after some avoidance and a not so gentle verbal shove; I donned my gear and quite ungracefully flew into the water. My experience with snorkeling has usually been about 3 minutes of Darth Vader breathing and a frog like float that leaves my butt sticking out of the water. Yea, I’m that girl. This time was different, I found myself breathing normally, evenly, and swimming in the water as I followed the schools of fish beneath me. It was beautiful, looking at these amazing colors beneath a wet surface. There were so many of them and I wished I had brought a water camera!
When I found myself over 33,000 miles high on top of Maunakea just a day or two later looking out over the most incredible sunset I have ever seen I wrapped my arms around my knees and let out a contented sigh. I surveyed the clouds and earth below me, drank in the vibrant colors this young Hawaiian Island offered to us. Climbing lava rocks, scaling a steep incline at Waipio Valley, snorkeling at 3 beaches and a successful kayak trip. Adventure indeed, I was handed an experience that I never anticipated but haven’t been able to shake since. Photographs dot my home that remind me, even for the not so graceful at foot, there are still journeys and escapades to be had.
About the Author: Janet Atteberry is a member of Singles by the Bay Travel Club and writes many great articles about her experiences on our trips. An excellent writer & amateur photographer, she always adds a great dimension to our groups with her wit and sarcastic sense of humor. Thanks for another great trip review Janet!Read More »
Driving through desolate mountains hoping civilization creeps near. Around the bend, lights shine bright as you pull into a city circled by the Smoky Mountains – Gatlinburg, Tennessee. You check into your roomy cottage realizing the staff awards you with the charm of southern hospitality, yet impatiently waiting to walk the streets of Gatlinburg. After settling in your cottage, you step outside and impressive sights anticipate your arrival. The adventure begins.
Diverse shops, amusements for all ages and exceptional dining line the sidewalks of Gatlinbug, Tennessee. Visit popular shopping areas such as Mountain Mall or The Village. They have plenty of unusual antique gifts, arts and crafts, clothing or almost anything you can imagine. Some shops even give you the chance to make your own creation. For example, Alewine Pottery will let you paint your own ceramics and Santa’s Claus-Et will help you create amusing ornaments.
From Gondola rides to hiking to white-water rafting, vendors sell tickets daily for many amusements. The center of the city also has many fun activities for kids and families such as motion simulators, miniature golf courses and go cart tracks. Plenty of entertainment also can be found in the adjacent city 20-minutes to the west, namely, Pigeon Forge. A well-respected female country artist by the name of Dolly Parton created her own amusement park and calls it Dollywood. She also established Dixie Stampede, a family dinner show where everyone must eat with their hands as no silverware is allowed. No shortage of entertainment exists in these areas of the Smoky Mountains.
It does not matter what tastes you have in food, this city can definitely dish it out. Choose from pizza, barbecue, steak, salads, country cooking, international cuisine or country breakfasts. Many dining establishment place menus on their windows or have outside glass cases with menus inside them. Most will have prices on them, but the ones that don’t are usually the more expensive, yet eloquent. Soak in the hospitality and enjoy the southern accents of your wait staff as chefs or cooks prepare your appetizing meals.
About the Author: Scott is a travel writer and tour planner. He has been working in the travel industry for many years and offers great travel articles and services on The Traveling Travel Agent.
The Smokey Mountains sound pretty sweet! Perhaps our singles travel club will plan a trip there soon!Read More »
I have friends who have never ventured off American soil. When I ask them if they are interested in traveling outside of America, some reply, “no, thanks”. They are perfectly content to go to their graves never having been to a foreign land. I find this extraordinary! I could understand not traveling due to financial constraints, but to just plain have no interest in anything outside of our relatively small world—that I find puzzling.
Traveling is not just about sightseeing, visiting museums, and eating different cuisine. There are many important reasons to travel beyond these wonderful experiences. Visiting other lands is an education. It broadens our horizons and world view. It is one thing to read about a country or watch a television program about a place and another to walk and tour the country yourself.
I had always heard that the French dislike Americans and that you better try to speak their language because they won’t help you out. When I went to Paris I found that most of the French people in the hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions all spoke English and had no problem communicating with us and were perfectly hospitable. But beyond that, there is no way to really experience the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, or eat a baguette sandwich at a café without being there in person. Walking around the streets of Paris is a visceral experience. Seeing the city at night with all the lights is breathtaking!
Someone once said, the world was meant to be experienced, not imagined. I couldn’t agree more. Meeting people of different cultures, sharing in their customs, experiencing their world is an education you can’t get anywhere else. You return home enriched and sometimes more grateful for what we have in this country.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” It is much easier to judge and have preconceived ideas about other countries if you never visit for yourself. Travel teaches you about other cultures and more about yourself. It changes you and opens your mind to other ways of life.
My son did a semester abroad in Australia and he was able to travel to Bali, Fiji, and New Zealand. He came back a changed young man! It had such an influence on him that he has gone into the travel business as a profession. He got bit by the travel bug and is determined to travel all over the world.
If you’re into photography, you can capture amazing images while traveling. Pictures that will forever remind you of all the wonderful things you did and saw on your adventure abroad.
The world is getting smaller and we have a global economy and cannot stick our heads in the sand and just take care of ourselves, ignoring our neighbors around the globe. Traveling can make you aware of how important it is to protect and preserve history and why it’s so important to strive to live peacefully together on this planet.Read More »
If you’re like me, you’re so busy that packing for your vacation is done frantically the night before you leave. If you’re not like this, and are one of those super organized sorts that have everything packed well ahead of your departure, don’t bother to read on.
Packing for a trip can be a tricky thing. People usually fall into one of two categories—the under-packer or the over-packer. I’m not sure what’s worse, but at least the under-packer can buy things when they arrive and not be weighed down with lots of unnecessary items.
The trick is to have your clothing serve more than one purpose. Of course, what you bring depends on the climate and what you’ll be doing. Packing for a beach vacation is very different than packing for a touring vacation where lots of walking is involved. Bringing a good comfortable pair of shoes is a must when you’ll be doing lots of sightseeing. I once made the mistake of choosing fashion over comfort on a trip to Italy, and will never do that again. No one cares how pretty your feet look and there’s nothing worse than sore, blistered feet.
Another mistake is to bring too many clothes. A sundress can be worn in the day while sightseeing and then jazzed up with jewelry and glitzy sandals for the evening. Men can get away with one pair of chinos and a couple different shirts that will transform the look for day or night. Two bathing suits are plenty. Limit your shoes to three pairs—one for comfort, one for evening, and sandals. When it comes to toiletries, bring small sample sizes rather than the big bottles. Most hotels have hairdryers, don’t use up valuable suitcase real estate if you don’t need to.
Traveling light is such a pleasure compared to lugging around a huge suitcase full of things you don’t need and won’t use. Not to mention the extra fees that airlines now charge for bags over their weight limits. Make sure you can actually carry around your luggage comfortably if you’e going to have to handle it yourself. A backpack is a great solution for the carry on items you want to have with you.
Remember to bring a spare pair of glasses or contacts and keep your medicines with you along with a list of all medications in case you misplace or lose any. If you bring electronic items, make sure to bring an adapter if you need one. Take at least two credit cards in case one is lost or eaten by an atm. Bring a sweater for the plane—they are very stingy now with blankets and pillows.
Try packing a few days before you leave when you are less stressed and can think more clearly. List making is always helpful beforehand. Keep a notepad next to your bed so when you think of something you want to bring you can jot it down.
Don’t let last minute packing stress you out. With a little more effort, you will find you have everything you need and you’ll be starting out on the right foot.
Our travel club sends out packing tips for all of our singles adventures so if you come with us we help make it easy!Read More »
An exciting and adventurous travel couple share their story…
Many of us dream about taking a long extended vacation to go out there and see the world but that plan always ends up being shelved simply because it seems more practical to earn the moolahs first and travel later. However, this is when the cycle begins where you would prefer to see your savings grow in the bank and that’s when you lose sight of your original plan and end up being a hamster running on a treadmill everyday not seeking to get out of your comfort zone to experience what the world has to offer.
Not wanting to lose sight of their dreams, a Singaporean couple decided to apply for a working holiday visa to the UK to work and travel the cities of Europe in the hopes of broadening their horizons and seeing the world.
On Feb 2009, leaving everything dear to them on the sunny island of Singapore, they stepped forth into the grey and gloomy skies of London. Taking on unfamiliar jobs to fund their impending travels and making new friends with their colleagues and housemates while simultaneously exploring UK cities and even travelling as far as Egypt. Travelling is not only their favorite pastime, being avid fans of the English Premier League, they are able to Fulfill their to-do list, including catching the long-awaited chance to watch their favorite football clubs clash against each other. But their main highlight of the trip was starting their two and a half month backpacking trip across Europe – an adventure of a lifetime!
Off they went when they flew to Porto, started a blog series called ‘Railing Thru Europe’ and slowly railed their way across Europe – from the fashion capitals of Paris and Milan, to the highest point of Europe in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, to trailing the gothic and mysterious Brasov, to the cruise rides in-between the Scandinavian countries and watching with hundreds of people as the sunsets into the horizon in Oia, Greece where even spending a week is never enough for them.
Reluctantly, they left Greece to take in the sights and sounds of Istanbul. They stepped foot on the continent of Asia after spending more than a year in Europe before heading back to the UK where they spent their remaining visa days in historical and beautiful Edinburgh. Here they waited for the first fall of snow and spent a “real” white Christmas before heading back home to their sunny island.
2 years of wanderlust travels may have put them slightly off the tracks of the rat race but it was without a doubt the best time of their lives by far. Do you need that extra push? That extra motivation to drop whatever you are doing and pursue YOUR adventure of a lifetime?
Maybe, just maybe, reading up on travel blogs like ourjotterbook.com or other similar travel diaries might just be that extra bit to inspire you.Read More »