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How to sleep in an airport comfortably and safely

Long Layover? How To Sleep At An Airport Like A Pro

How to sleep in an airport comfortably and safely

Whether you find yourself sleeping in an airport by choice or by some unfortunate stroke of bad luck, it is possible to sleep in an airport relatively comfortably and safely. Here are a few tips to help you make your overnight stay in an airport less stressful and almost fun.

6 Must Know Tips On How To Sleep In An Airport Like A Pro

If you’ve ever travelled by plane, you know sooner or later you’ll be caught in a layover between flights. No biggie if your layover is short-just read a book or grab a bite to eat and wait it out. If however your layover leaves you stranded in an airport overnight, that’s a different story. Here are some things you can do to make sure you sleep better, stay comfortable and safe. You’ll be glad you know this information.

1- Check in advance to see if you are allowed to sleep at an airport

Is it open? You won’t be able to sleep in an airport if it is not open 24 hours. Some places frown upon sleeping in airports like in Japan. If you know in advance you’ll have a long layover, research whether you can or can’t sleep in the airport overnight. If you can’t, try to make arrangements for somewhere to sleep or at least research it.

Is it disgusting? Not all airport sleeping areas are created the same and even though sleeping in the airport is possible, you may not actually want to. According to news.com.au, London Heathrow airport is considered by many travellers to be one of the worst airports to sleep in overnight.

Heathrow has been labelled as too cold with very little comfortable seating to sleep on. Some travellers even complained that the carpets were dirty and flea infested. Others claimed they couldn’t sleep because it was too noisy or that the cleaning crew came around and asked them to move so they could clean.

Know before you go by using sites like http://www.sleepinginairports.net/ which provides user-generated reviews about almost every airport you can think of. You’ll find all the information you need about a particular airport such as whether or not there is free wi-fi, or if an airport is clean, allows sleeping and so much more.

2-Pack A Survival Kit In Your Carry-On Luggage

airport-survival-kit

In addition to wearing or packing comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, you should consider packing a survival kit that will get you through a night or two in the airport. At minimum you should pack the following items plus anything else you think you might need.

  • Pack a change of clothing: My husband and I were stuck in an airport in Colorado when the airport was snowed in. Having a change of clothes was the pick-me-up we needed to feel a littler fresher. When my daughter spilled hot chocolate all over her dress in Switzerland, I broke out her spare clothes. Mommy to the rescue!
  • Pack a toiletry bag full of basic toiletries: toothpaste, toothbrush, contact solution, sanitary products, lotion, 3 oz./100ml bottle of shampoo or soap, deodorant, gel, hair brush, hair scrunchy. I sometimes pack vaseline because it’s so useful.
  • A subset of makeup: Use a clear see through makeup bag and put just the basics. A little BB cream, mascara, lip colour and face powder. The clear makeup bag makes it easy to see what you’ve got at a glance. You can pull it out easily and take it to the restroom rather than rooting around the bottom of your bag to find that lip gloss.
  • Something to cover your eyes: Bring an eye mask or simply lay a shirt on your head to block out the airport lights. I’ve seen some people wear a beenie pulled down over their eyes.
  • Earplugs: You’ll be glad you have some earplugs even if the airport is not super loud. Blocking out the sound really does help you sleep. Try the earplugs with strings attached. You’ll never lose them if they fall out.
  • A small travel pillow or roll up a sweatshirt for you head. Seen some people actually bring their bed pillows from home. I like to pack compact micro-beed filled pillow because it stuffs easily in my bag and when you lay on it, it forms perfectly around my head.
  • A small travel blanket,  sweatshirt, or a fashionable oversized scarf like a pashmina to cover yourself: It gets cold in airports. Oversized scarves look great too.
  • Wet wipes and or tissue paper: Wet wipes or travel wipes really come in handy for quick washing’s in the airport sink. I like to bring wet wipes which have moisturizer in it already just for my face.
  • Snacks: Bring something that won’t get crushed and can curb your hunger. Nuts, chocolate, granola bars? Snacks are expensive in the airport.
  • Entertainment: A book, iPhone for music, Kindle eReader
  • Spare battery for your electronics: If you can’t get a spot by a wall plug, having an external battery on hand to keep you electronics charged is a life saver. Make sure you choose an external batter pack that has enough juice to keep your phone or tablet charged up to 24 hours. The one I use is rated 10,400 mAH. The standard input voltage of smart devices is 5 volts so don’t buy an external battery that is less than this. I highly recommend the Ravpower external battery which I use almost everyday even when I am not travelling. It can charge 2 devices at the same time which means you won’t be fighting over who gets to charge their electronics.
  • Pack the kids stuff: If travelling with kids, pack their essentials too including clothes to sleep in, toys and some form of entertainment like crayons or books.

3- How to find the best spot to sleep at the airport

airport-sleep-overnight

Sleeping in an airport is a bit of a science and not all airports are created equal when it comes to sleeping in them.  Some airports have sleeping facilities, lounges and even rooms where travellers can sleep. You should ask someone at the airport if this exists. If not, you will need to find the best spot to sleep in.

Take a walk around the airport and look for a good place to sleep. Here are some things you should consider when choosing a spot to sleep.

  • Safety: If possible try to sleep where other people are sleeping. Safety in numbers
  • Stay away from high traffic areas: Toilets, check in desks, next to stores or food vendors are all high traffic and noisy areas to sleep in which could make it difficult to sleep. However if you pack some earplugs and eye mask this might be less of an issue.
  • Look for a set of chairs with no arm rests: It will be easier to stretch out on and more comfortable and cleaner than the floor.
  • Look for clean carpeted areas: If there are no chairs, consider sleeping on the floor. I like to sleep close to a wall or window on one side of me with my luggage between me and the wall.
  • Look for outlets: If you have to charge your phone or laptop, you may want to stay near an outlet.

4-Protect your passport, purse, property and luggage

airport-sleep-lock-luggage

Here are a few tips to keep your luggage or valuables from being stolen while you sleep

  • Keep you passports, credit cards and cash near you or on you. Otherwise put your valuables in an INSIDE pocket of your bag NOT the outside pocket where it can easily be snatched.
  • Put larger expensive things like cameras, laptops and purses inside your luggage with a carry-on luggage lock.
  • Try to put your luggage between you and a wall like a sandwich.
  • Lay your head on your bag or take a strap and anchor your luggage to a chair near you or to you which will make it impossible for anyone to run off with your luggage. You can use locks especially made for this which are light or bring a bicycle lock with you.

5- Don’t miss your connecting flight

sleep-in-airport-alarm-cloc

Confirm your flight details so you know when you need to wake up to catch your connecting flight and which gate you need to go to.

Take precautions so you wake up on time by any means necessary. I have seen people put stick-it notes on their head that say “wake me up at 8:30 in the morning so I don’t miss my flight”. You could just bring a travel clock or set the alarm on your phone too.

6- Prepare for bed

Just like you would at home, it helps to clean up before bed even if it is on some yucky airport floor. Change into something comfortable if you have to. Brush your teeth, wash your face and take off your shoes. I like to have a pair of socks on hand or small slippers. Then set your alarm, listen to some music or read a book if you have to, then try to relax and get some sleep.

Conclusion

Sleeping in airports can be fun or it can be total hell. My kids love sleeping in airports but it’s a different story the next morning when I try to wake them up after a night of sleepless excitement.

Use your best judgment on deciding whether or not to sleep in an airport for long layovers and be sure to check out www.sleepinginairports.net.

Bon Voyage

3 Popular Vacation Spots Where You Can Find Affordable Short Term Housing Rentals

3-places-to-live-for-6-mont

If you have ever dreamed of spending 2 weeks or more exploring some place new but thought you couldn’t afford the cost of a hotel and lodging think again. I have a guest post from Ken Meyers who shows you just how affordable housing can be even in popular tourist spots. Perfect for the person who wants to go somewhere different but nothing too off the beaten track

When planning a trip somewhere, you don’t just simply go from one location to the next. Housing needs to be determined beforehand.

Short term housing can provide the safety and security you want and doesn’t have to be very expensive at all. In fact, a great many of these locations are almost worth packing up and moving to right now out of sheer cost of living.

Below are just a few of the places you can live in for the very short term that don’t have to cost you a lot of money.

1. Toronto, Canada

Toronto_Canada

-There are many great areas one can stay while visiting Toronto, Canada for a short period of time. Many of these are furnished apartments and condos that could run from $1,200 per month for extended stays.

However, many short term possibilities are obtainable at the rate of $29 per day and up for completely furnished and Internet ready studios such as a small bachelor apartment near Warden Subway Station.

There are many countries that may require a visa in order to visit or transit through Canada, although the United States isn’t one of them. A list of these countries is provided here.

2. Beijing, China

Beijing_China

It’s amazing to see how much further your money can seem to go depending on the area you decide to live in. Locations such as the Wonderful Homestay in Royal Park located in Beijing, China not only has spacious living quarters, but also access to a swimming pool, aerobics studio, and a beautiful view for $920 per month. That is a better deal than what most Americans pay for their homes in the United States. These services also provide a nightly and weekly rate that is an affordable price for nearly anyone.

Visas and passports are required to enter China prior to your trip. Without these forms on your person upon arrival, you could be faced with immediate deportation at your own expense. Child abduction laws also tighten security by making it mandatory to have documentation proving your child is your own.

 

3. Cebu, Philippines

cebu_Philipines

Visiting the Philippines, one may want to stay for more than merely a few days. It is a tropical paradise with an amazing cultural heritage located in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet.

santoni-place-cebuComfortable living can easily be obtained at Santoni’s Place for short durations ranging from $26 per night with options for weekly and monthly rates. This apartment complex is just minutes from Cebu’s major shopping districts and is in the heart of the city.

For stays under 21 days, a tourist or business visa is not required for the Philippines. According to VisaHQ.com, any stay longer than 21 days requires the tourist or business visas to be completed.

Before you plan your next move, research the area you are heading to. You don’t want to arrive and be without a place to call home even if it’s for a very short amount of time. Sure, you could check into a hotel. But why spend that much money if you don’t really have to?

About the Author:

KenMyersKen Myers is an expert advisor on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Cebu photo via arpearson76

The Quirky Secrets Of Cyprus: 10 Fascinating Reasons You Should Visit Cyprus

10 secrets that will make you want to visit Cyprus

What are some places you want to visit?

……………………

Paris?

The Pyramids of Egypt?

The Grand Canyon?

Maybe Hawaii?

………………………..

Those are all great places to visit but why limit yourself to JUST those tourist hotspots?  What if there were hidden gems on this earth just waiting to be discovered?  Some place warm with beautiful sandy beaches, with close ties to ancient civilizations, wonderful food and a mix of modern and ancient culture?
Sounds good right?  I know of such a place.

Cyprus, The Place You Never Knew You Wanted To Visit

If you’re like most, you probably don’t know a lot about Cyprus and if you do know a lot than you don’t need to read this.

For the rest of you, I’m willing to bet that once you learn a little more about this forgotten frontier, you might actually put Cyprus on your list of places to visit one day.

Luckily for you, Cyprus has a healthy tourism industry of over 2 Million tourists ever year. So whether you want to find a villa in Cyprus, a 5 star Hotel or a charming bungalow for two you are sure to find a wide range of accommodations for anyone’s budget.

Not So Secret Secrets!

Technically, none of what I’m about to share with you is a secret. Nevertheless, I’m sure you will discover something new.

1- Cyprus Is “The Playground of the gods”

Aphrodite also known as Venus de Milo was from Cyprus

The Romans call her Venus. She is one of the most famous Greek goddesses of ancient civilizations. There is even a statue of her in the Louvre in Paris called “Venus De Milo”.

You might be surprised to learn that Venus has her roots in Cyprus where she is known as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality.

Another interesting fact is that Aphrodite is the mother of Eros the god of love (Eros is known as Cupid) and according to Homer’s Iliad her father was Zeus.

2- Cyprus Is where?

this is a map of Cyprus

 

Contrary to popular belief, Cyprus is NOT part part of the middle east even though geographically it is close to the middle east. It is less than 70 Km away from Turkey.

Nor is it part of Greece even though Greek is spoken throughout parts of Cyprus and much of its culture resembles Greece’s culture.

No, Cyprus is its own country and since 2003 it has been part of the EU. Cyprus is also an Island. It’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean right after Sicily and Sardinia.

3-The Languages of Cyprus

The official language of cyprus is Greek and Turkish but english is widely spoken

The island of Cyprus is divided in two. The main language spoken in the south, known as the Republic of Cyprus is Greek while Turkish is mainly spoken in the northern part of the island, known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Ironically, nearly 80 percent of the population speak English due to the fact that Cyprus was once a British colony from 1878 to 1960 so you will have no problem understanding and communicating with most locals.

4- What Do People from Cyprus Look Like?

I don’t actually know anyone from Cyprus so I was curious what the people of Cyprus looked like.

For fun, I looked for famous people who were either from Cyprus or of Cypriot Descent. I found 2 people you may have heard of. Unfortunately, I could not find any famous females.

George micahael is of Cypriot descent

George Michael: Born Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou.

I was surprised to learn that of all people, George Michael, the famous pop singer made famous for singing in the 80’s group WHAM is of Cypriot descent. Technically only half since his father is a Greek Cypriot and his mother was English. His real name isn’t George Michael either. He was actually born Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou. (I have no idea how to pronounce his real name either).

easy Jet founder is from Cyprus

Stelios Haji-Ioannou: Founder of EasyJet Airlines

courtesy of www.thisislondon.co.uk

Stelios is a Greek Cypriot who founded Easy Jet at the age of 28. He is probably one of Cyprus’s only billionaires and most celebrated Cypriot’s.

5- MEOW! Go See Some Cats

cats-st nicholas_monastery

Cats are not native to Cyprus which suggests that cats were introduced by humans. Nevertheless, cats are everywhere on this island. You should in the least make it a point to visit them unless of course you hate cats.

Here are two places you can go to see some cats.

St. Nicholas of the Cats

There is a holy monastery on the Island of Cyprus known as a sacred cat haven. It’s called St. Nicholas of the cats.

Legend has it, hundreds of years ago, Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great introduced cats to control the snakes and vermin which infested the area. The cats did their job and to this day you can find hundreds of cats roaming the monastery all cared for by nuns through donations and a special grant from the Cypriot government.  (warning, many of the cats are supposedly very scrawny looking and not well looked after).

The Malcolm Cat Sanctuary

You can see even more cats at the Malcolm Cat Sanctuary.  Their motto is “Help us make a difference for the cats in Cyprus”.

If you go to either of these places, please be sure to bring plenty of treats and plenty of love because the cats love to be pet and fed. You can also make a donation by visiting their website www.malcolmcat.org.

Go For The Archeology

oldest pet cat found in cyprus

Cyprus is an archaeologist’s dream come true. Every year archaeologists from around the world visit the island hoping to uncover stories of lives from the past and discover new secrets of ancient civilization.

6- Oldest Pet Cat Found In Cyprus

Recently a discovery was made by some of those archaeologists involving more cats.

According to a story in the National Geographic, it was believed that cats were domesticated in Ancient Egypt. However, the oldest skeletal remains of a pet cat was recently found buried inches away from it’s owner in a grave found in Cyprus. This discovery suggests that people have been keeping cats as pets for over 9,500 years. MEOW!!!!

You don’t need to be a historian or archaeologist to enjoy or imagine how the ancient people of Cyprus and Romans lived. There are plenty of places for the average person to visit.

 7- Ancient Tombs and Archaeological Sites

tombs_of_the_kings

Archaeological sites like the “Tombs of the kings”, an underground tombs carved out of SOLID ROCK which dates back to the 4th are one of many archaeological sites you can visit.

Many of these places are on rough terrain in isolated areas so be prepared to walk and wear comfortable shoes.

8- Try some of the oldest perfume scents in the world

oldest-perfume-cyprus

Although France is known for perfume, it was not the French who invented it.

Around 2003, a team of Italian archaeologists unearthed the worlds oldest perfumes and perfume bottles to date in Cyprus. The Italian archaeologist also discovered evidence of an enormous factory that existed over 4,000 years ago. The sheer size of this perfumeries indicates that perfume manufacturing was on an industrial scale.

At least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were perfectly preserved at the site, which had been covered in earth after a violent earthquake around 1850BC.  The finds are now on display at the Capitoline Museum in Rome along with several modern re-creations of the old scents.

Archaeologists say that the original perfumes were a mixture of olive oils and essential oils gathered from herbs and flowers.

Today you can find perfumes created using similar ingredients as the original perfumes in the Ayia Napa markets in Cyprus.  I hear the smell is very strong.

 

9- Food

meze cyprus food

Due to it’s location, the food of Cyprus is an interesting blend of Mediterranean , Middle Eastern with influences of the many countries who colonised the island at one time or another. You’ll even find African influences.

Coriander seeds, cumin, fresh herbs and parsley along with olive oil and lemon juice are just some of the typical things that can be found in many of the local dishes.

Be sure to try “Meze” which is usually served before a meal and consists of 10 to 15 different small dishes. It’s a great way to try lots of different dishes if you are not sure what to order as your main plate.

10 Beautiful Beaches

beaches-of-cyprus

If Greek mythology, cats or archaeological digs are not your thing than there are of course the miles and miles of beautiful beaches with clear blue water and golden sand just waiting to be explored by you.

Conclusion

Cyprus has so much to offer as a travel destination for both families and care free singles. The few things I’ve mentioned above are only a tip of the ice-berg.

Question: What do you think about Cyprus?  

 

What Is A European River Cruise and Is It Right For You?

European River Cruise: is it right for you?

Have you ever heard of a “River Cruise?

What about a “European River Cruise”?

Neither had I until recently.   

If you are thinking about taking a river cruise or you are not sure if it’s right for you, you should read this. Especially if you have kids!

First let me say that I have not taken a river cruise and I don’t know if I will take one any time soon.

More on that later.

The Ocean Cruise I Thought I Would Hate!

For my birthday in 2012, my husband Blake asked me what I wanted to do.

I said “lets go on a one of those Mediterranean cruise aboard those HUGE multi-deck ocean liners.”

To my surprise he said “YES”.

It was my first cruise and to be honest, I was convinced I would  hate it. So why did I choose to go on a cruise in the first place if I thought I would hate it? Simple, for the kids and our sanity.

As a parent, sometimes we make sacrifices for the greater good.

Between the nightly on-board live entertainment, swimming pool slides and all you can eat buffets, I knew the kids would have a great time which meant that Blake and I would NOT be dealing with whiny unhappy kids.
Besides, we were living in the Mediterranean and everyone raved about taking a cruise.

Let me tell you, I was wrong about hating the cruise! We all had a blast!

 I LOVED our Mediterranean ocean cruise

In rome: one of our 5 stops on our Mediterranean cruise

Our Mediterranean ocean cruise was literally like being on a floating luxury hotel with nightly entertainment, music, dancing, 4 course diners, a casino, a gym, swimming pools, activities for kids and more.

I liked it so much, I thought maybe we should take another one this year.

I thought If I liked an ocean cruise, I might like a river cruise too!

So I started doing a little research and came across something I had never heard of. “A River Cruises”. More specifically, since we are in Europe, “A European river cruises.”

Photo of river-Barones: River cruises usually stay by land at all times. So you get a great scenic view.

I quickly discovered that although I like the idea of a river cruise, it might not be for everyone especially if you have kids..  

Before I tell you why, let me first explain what is a river cruise.

What is a European River Cruise?

A European river cruise is voyage aboard a boat inland along rivers and waterways which makes frequent stops at multiple ports, allowing you to experience local life more intimately.

Is A River Cruise Right For Me?

The answer is it depends.

Below, I’ll list out the major differences I found between the more popular ocean cruise and river cruise.

What’s the difference between an Ocean Cruise and River Cruise?

Here’s what you get on a river cruise!

  • More excursions: You’re constantly near water which means you have more opportunities for shore excursions.
  • Spectacular and relaxing scenery: During river cruises, you are usually sailing by land so while sailing you can get a view of the scenery as you sail by.
  • Travel off the beaten path where cruise ships cannot go: Because river ships are small in size, they can go to out of the way places and cities where a big ocean cruise ship cannot.
  • Small town access: Again because of the small size of river ships, you can visit small towns that would be inaccessible to visit via a big ocean ship. Remember, many cities were built around rivers so there are plenty of docks in the centre of cities and towns to stop at.
  • More intimate: Cruise ships typically have around 2,300 passengers where  river cruises typically have between 75 to 200 passengers. This small number of passengers makes it more conducive to meeting and getting to know other people and maybe make lifelong friends even.
  • Duration: River cruises typically last between 5 to 15 days but it’s not uncommon to take one that lasts for 3 weeks or more.
  • Average passenger is older: The average age is going to be well above 50 and even 60 years old.
  • Fewer or no families with kids: Because river cruises typically cater to an older crowd, there will be little to nothing for families. All the entertainment, excursions and even food will be mainly aimed at pleasing adults.
  • Lower Key Entertainment: Don’t expect fancy or exciting shows like you get on ocean cruises. Often, the shows are by local people from the region you are visiting. Sometimes there are no shows or just a piano player.
  • No casino on board.
  • All inclusive: Many river cruises include guided tours at each port of call unlike ocean cruises where a guided tour can cost extra and can be quite expensive too.
  • Alcohol included: you are more likely to have alcohol and beverages included in the price of your ticket whereas on an ocean cruise you pay extra.
  • Themed Cruises: Some river cruises offer themes dedicated to one topic. For instance, a France river cruise might focus on paintings or Jewish heritage.

If you do decide to take a river cruise!

france river cruise

What To Look For or Ask?

Does your boat speak English?

  • If you are doing a European river cruise or a river cruise starting in another country,  check to see what the primary language on board will be.
  • Internet Access

Will your boat have free or paid Internet access? Many offer it free as part of the package but you should check.

Should you take the family and kids on a European River Cruise?

As I mentioned before, there will be little to nothing for families in terms of entertainment, excursions and even food. I’ve been told that kids might find river cruises boring. Other reasons why it might not be a good idea to take a river cruise if you have kids are listed below.

-Not enough beds in one room for a family:  Most river cruise ships have double occupancy only. You might have a hard time finding a ship that has a room for 3 or more people. Not so good if you have little ones or want to stay in the same room.

-No children friendly food: If your kids are picky or prefer to eat nuggets and pizza than a river boat cruise probably won’t work since the food is mainly geared towards adults.

-Can your kids handle cultural things: If your kids like to do 3 hour walking tours with lots of historic facts, touring historical site, cathedrals and museums than they should be fine. Otherwise, can you handle the blow back  from tired unhappy kids?

Even my kids who are world travellers can’t handle more than a few days at this slow pace before they go stir crazy to do something where they can jump, scream, splash or just be a kid.

-Is their a high chair on board?

-You might get scowls: Are your kids loud and do they like to run around annoying people?

Many older people choose river cruises because of the fact that there are few to no children running around. If you’re kids are the annoying loud type then expect sneers.

Minimum age: There may be a minimum age for the river boat tour.

Conclusion

-In short, European river cruises or any river cruise for that matter would be great if you wanted a low key trip AND you are interested in learning about the area you are cruising in.

-If are looking for more entertainment like the ocean cruise I took, you want more luxury and more amenities for the family then you should stick to ocean liners.

Will I take a river cruise?

As for me, I don’t think I’ll be going on a river cruise for a while. Maybe once the kids are little older but for now, I think I’ll stick with the ocean cruises. It’s just more family friendly.

Question: Had you heard of a river cruise before? would you take one? Leave your comments below. And please share this on Facebook. it helps drive traffic to this site.

 

how we got married in scotland

How To Get Married In Scotland or Elope: A Destination Wedding Guide For Foreigners

How We got married in Scotland A beginners guide for foreigners who want to elope

Usually when I tell people that my husband and I eloped to Scotland, there is a short pause…….

followed by  “Wow!”

followed by “Why?”

and maybe even a “How did you manage that?”

Since I already explained why we eloped to Scotland here, I thought I would explain exactly HOW we did it.

How to get married in Scotland

In this post, I will give you a high level view of everything we did and everything you need to know to get married in Scotland, from required documents and residency requirements to what to expect. 

*NOTE: This is NOT a guide for UK Citizens.  

What We Had To do To Get Married In Scotland.

First of all, anyone can get married in Scotland.

**UPDATE**As of 2014 same sex marriage is legal in Scotland..

There are no residency requirements or pre-requisite to fulfill other than the fact that we had to be at the registrars office the day before to check in.

You do however need to meet the below requirements to get married.

  • You are both 16 on the day of your marriage
  • You are not already married.
  • The marriage needs to be legal in your home country. (Americans and Canadians you are covered here and you don’t even need to register it once you return home)

First Gather Up All Your Documents

Family photo at registrars in scotlandThe first thing you need to do is get all the documents and paperwork  in order and you need to give yourself enough time to do it.

I recommend starting at least 3 months in advance.

Please check with the nearest embassy since this list may be incomplete and rules are subject to change.

You will need the following DOCUMENTS and PAPERWORK

  1. Two “marriage Notice forms” or M-10 form. One for each of you. You can download the M-10 form from the registrars office.
  2. Birth Certificates for both of you. They must be original
  3. Divorce Decree: If you were married before, you must provide a divorce decree or a death certificate if that person is deceased. (They must be certified)
  4. “Certificate of no impediment” (CONI). Contact your home country’s civil authority to obtain this. It is to prove that you are free to marry. Only foreigners need do this step.  Without it,  you will not be able to marry in Scotland. The only exception is if you have lived in the UK for 2 years as a resident.
  5. Valid Passports to prove your nationality.
  6. Visa: Even if you do not need a visa to enter the UK like Americans and Canadians, you will probably need to get a special visa which allows foreigners to marry in Scotland.
    We had to get a biometric visa and some fingerprints. Do this in advance. It took us weeks to get an appointment. Contact the UK Border Agency (Tel No. 0870 606 7766) .
  7. English Only: All documents must be in English so plan accordingly to allow enough time to get a certified translation along with your original documents.

The link below has all the information including the M-10 Form I mentioned above. http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/regscot/getting-married-in-scotland/i-want-to-get-married-in-scotland-how-do-i-go-about-it.html

Next, Contact the registrars office in Scotland To Book A Date.

You can contact the registrars office no more than 3 months before your planned wedding date but no later than 15 days before your intended date of marriage.

Don’t wait until you have collected all the necessary documents. Call them as soon as you can to book a date. Scotland is a very popular place to get married remember?  Then when you finally do have all your documents, mail them to the registrars office.

General Questions

Can I have a religious ceremony or a civil one?

Blake and Catherine standing in front of the Edinburgh castle

You can have either a civil or a religious ceremony from any belief system.

Blake and I opted for civil ceremony.

Can I get Married anywhere within Scotland?

Religious Ceremonies: Yes, you can get married almost anywhere including in a castle, on a boat, in a park or anywhere you can cook up provided you can arrange for it with a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or other person entitled to do so.

Civil Ceremonies: You have three choices. 1-get married in the registrars office which is kind of like a court house or city hall. 2-Choose one of the pre-approved places in your registrars area. (Check at the Marriage/Civil Partnership section for the list of approved places. Here is the link http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk)

3- For a fee, you can have a civil ceremony some place not on the approved list like in a castle.

What if I want to have a bachelorette or stag party?

Andre standing in front of a kilt store in Scotland

Stag parties and bachelorette parties can be a lot of fun and if you are one of the lucky ones who actually have friends and family willing to Travel all the way to Scotland, then why not have one last hoorah before you tie the knot.

You may want to hire a service to plan your party rather than ask your best man or woman to plan it in a country they are unfamiliar with.

What About Formal Wear For The Groom?

When in Scotland, many guys choose to wear Kilts but if  the groom is feeling like going with a plain old tux, he can always rent one at places like the Psyche Formal Hire service.

Blake opted to wear a suit which we bought in Paris the week prior…

you need 2 witnesses for the ceremony: we grabbed two strangers off the street.

2 complete strangers were our witnesses.

What if we do not have witnesses

We didn’t have any witnesses so we waited out front of the registrar hoping some passer-by would agree to be our witnesses.

In the end there was another couple registering to get married and they offered to be our witnesses. Phew…

Apparently, this type of thing happens all the time.

Standing in front of the place where the Scottish crown jewels are housed.

Conclusion

Whether you want to elope or you want an intimate wedding, If you love to travel and you’re feeling a little adventurous, Scotland just might make the perfect place to exchange your wedding vows. 

 

get married in australia a guide for foreigners

How To Elope Or Get Married In Australia: A Destination Wedding Guide For Foreigners

Today I want to highlight yet another reason for you to take time off from your busy life to travel. Not that you need one! That reasons is called  LOVE………..In this post, you will get a high level view of everything you need to know to tie the knot in Australia, from the why to the how.

*NOTE: This is a guide for NON Australians marrying non – Australians. Please contact the nearest Australian Embassy or consulate to confirm the details as these may be incomplete and rules are subject to change.

Why get married in another country like Australia?

Whether you want to elope or you want an intimate wedding with family or you just want to renew your wedding vows, Australia is a great place to have your destination wedding; especially if you love to travel and you’re feeling a little adventurous.

Here are just a few other reasons to choose Australia. 

  • Charm and Beauty: Australia is a beautiful country with lovely people who love beer (pronounced Beeya) and say charming things like.. “That was heaps and heaps of fun”.
  • Easy: It’s fairly simple to get married in Australia compared to other countries like France which require you to be in the country for 45 days before you can marry.
  • Start Your Honeymoon Sooner: Having a destination wedding surrounded by beautiful coastlines and cosmopolitan cities means you can start your Honeymoon ASAP.
  • Heaps of options when it comes to hotel accommodations and lodging.
  • You Speak The Language: Australians speak English and if you are reading this than so do you. Imagine how hard it would be to arrange a wedding in Poland if you did not speak Polish.
  • It’s romantic!
  • It’s unique, it’s different like you!
  • You’ll spend less on the wedding and have more to spend on yourselves so you can take a longer honeymoon.
  • When you tell people you got married in Australia people will envy you and think you are cool!

Not convinced a destination wedding is right for you?  Read my personal story of “why my husband Blake and I decided to elope to mystical Scotland”. 

What Are The Requirements To Marry In Australia?

Below are some answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding getting married in Australia and the documents you will need to make it happen.

The info is a good start to get you going or to curb your curiosity on just what it takes to get married abroad. However; like anything, rules and regulations are subject to change and  this list may not be complete You will need to do your own research and due diligence and contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate.

Residency: Do I Need To Be An Australian Citizen?

No. Anyone may marry in Australia provided you meet the following criteria.

  1. You are free to marry, ( you are not already married to someone else.). Bigamy is illegal.
  2. You are over the age of 18.

Do I Need a Visa To Go To Australia?

Yes, you will need a visa, called an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) to travel to Australia for a stay of up to 90 days unless you are from New Zealand.

You may be able to get a visa online. Contact the nearest Australian consulate or embassy.

What is a Celebrant and Why should I care?

All marriages in Australia are conducted by a celebrant. The celebrant will usually help you fill out the legal forms and explain all the details of the ceremony.  You can find a celebrant online by simply typing “celebrant” in a search engine. Here is a celebrant I found rather quickly using Google.

You can have a civil or a religious ceremony.

General Questions

Can I marry anywhere in Australia?

Yes, you can  marry almost anywhere. On a yacht, in a park, at the beach and in a church. I bet you could even get married under water if you wanted.

Just make sure you get an authorized celebrant.

Will the marriage be recognized in my own country?

It depends. Many countries recognize marriages performed legally in Australia.  If in doubt about the legality of your Australian marriage in your home country,  contact your own government authorities which records marriages in your country.

Americans and Canadians, rest assured, an Australian marriage is valid in your home country and you don’t even need to register your marriage in your home country.

We’re already married, Can we renew our wedding vows?

Yes, you can hold a renewal of vows ceremony or a commitment ceremony.

We are a same sex couple, can we get married in Australia?

Unfortunately currently same sex marriages are not recognized in Australia. You can have a commitment ceremony performed in lieu of a marriage ceremony.

How many witnesses do we need?

You need two witnesses present at your Marriage Ceremony who are over the age of 18. Any person can act as a witness, even your parents or siblings. The wedding celebrant or religious minister cannot act as a witness.

What about vows?

During the ceremony the bride and groom must say: “I (groom) take you (bride), to be my wife” and “I (bride), take you (groom), to be my husband”. The remainder of the wordings can be created by the bride and groom. You write a poem, sing a song or say nothing more.

View all the rules and laws about getting married in Australia

What Documents Will I need to marry in Australia?

Getting your documents in order is pretty straight forward

First: You must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) which you may be able to complete over the internet. The form must be completed 1 month and 1 day before your wedding day but no more than 18 calendar months before you marry. Contact a celebrant in Australia and they should be able to help you.

Next: You will need original (not photocopies) of the following

  • birth certificates,
  • passports,
  • divorce papers (if you were married before) or death certificate if you’re spouse is deceased.

I would make photocopies of all documents as well for good measure..

*Note* All documents and paperwork must be submitted in English by recognized/registered translator.

Conclusion

If you are looking to do something a little adventurous, you like warmer weather and you are not opposed enjoying the coast line for your honeymoon, Australia would make the perfect destination spot to get married, elope or renew your vows.

dubai-3 unusual things to do

Ski Indoors? 3 Weird And Wonderful Things You Can Do In Dubai

If you think Dubai is all about shopping and partying then you’d be wrong. Dubai offers some of the best thrill seeking activities ideal for all adrenaline junkies as well as lavish sporting events which make Dubai one of the most exciting places in the world to pay a visit.

1- Skydive Over Dubai City

Unusual things to do in dubai-sydive

Sky Dive Dubai

The first time I went to Dubai I thought I was hallucinating. Either that or the chilled beer I was sipping had had an adverse effect on my mind as in the distance I saw a group of what I thought to be parachutists hurtling towards the end of the Dubai marina.

I turned to the waiter to ask him to confirm whether or not I was losing my sanity and he began to explain that there is in fact a sky dive centre on the coast of Dubai.

Whether you’re a first timer or a sky diving veteran, Sky Dive Dubai offers breath taking jumps that span the coast of Dubai, providing the sky diver with incredible views of the stunning Palm Jumeriah. If you’re looking for something different to do in Dubai and you’re feeling on the brave side of things then Sky Dive Dubai could be just the ticket!

2-Drive A Formula One Race Car

Unusual things to do in Dubai: Drive and F1 Racecar

Dubai Autodrome

For all you petrol heads out there the Dubai Autodrome is quite simply a must see. Home to events such as the UAE Touring Car Championship and the UAE Sports bike Championship, the Dubai Autrodrome is an ultra-modern racing track designed to blow the minds of all Lewis Hamilton wannabe’s.

By day the Autodrome opens its doors to the public offering a variety of experiences including skid car driving, the Audi R8 experience and my personal favourite, the F1 (Formula 1) style single seated experience.

If the idea of stepping into the shoes of your favourite F1 driver for the day is top of your bucket list then the Autodrome is a must. Complete with a full blown pit complex and grandstand, the first hand motor racing experience doesn’t get much more real than what the Dubai’s Autodrome has to offer.

Make sure you have a UAE or International Drivers license.

3-Ski Indoors in the Summer

Unusual thing to do in dubai: ski indoors

Ski Dubai is the largest of three places in the world where you can ski indoors.- Picture of Ski Dubai from Mall of Emirates

Before you accuse me of genuinely losing the plot by suggesting you can ski in Dubai, just hear me out first.

Dubai has a habit of doing things bigger, bolder and more extravagant than anywhere else in the world and the addition of their world record breaking in door ski resort is no exception to this rule.

Housed in The Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai was the world’s first indoor ski experience to offer its daredevil skiers a black run.

However, if you’re ski style is more of a Bridget Jones then don’t let the prospect of the black run put you off. There are five runs to choose from, all of varying difficulties. As well as the ski runs there is also a freestyle zone where snow boarders and skiers can show off their tricks as well as a vast snow park ideal for the tiny tots which comes complete with a helter skelter made of ice. If however, you prefer the après ski to the actual activity itself then you can watch from the comfort of the choice of two cafes: the St Moritz or The Avalanche café.

Conclusion

Sky Dive Dubai, the Autodrome and Ski Dubai are just three of the weird and wonderful activities on offer in Dubai. If you had discounted Dubai as a place to visit because you didn’t think it would have anything on offer to entertain you then hopefully this article will have changed your mind!

ski-europe- cheap unheard of ski places in europe

5 Cheap European Ski Destinations You Have Probably Never Heard Of

If you are looking for a winter vacation spot to ski, why not look to Europe?

Is it because you think it is too expensive?

Skiing in Europe is cheaper than you think.

In fact, some of the most affordable skiing spots in the world can be found In Europe. You just have to know where to look.

5_ski_europe

5 cheap European ski destinations you probably haven’t heard of.

Let’s first get a base cost for how much skiing can cost for a single 6 day ski passes for one adult in the US and Canada

  • At whistler in Brittish Columbia Canada = 460 Dollars
  • At Vail Colorado US =700
  • Sugarloaf in Main USA = 460

Pretty pricy right? That’s not including food, extra people, transportation. That’s just a ski lift for 6 days. Ouch!

Now let’s look at some of the more affordable European ski spots in Europe

1- France

Méribel-france

France is probably the most famous and the most expensive place to ski in Europe but not as expensive as you think. .

You’ve heard of the Alps right?  Méribel is a an affordable ski resort that lies in the very centre of the Three Valleys. It’s not only affordable, It’s also one of  Frances most popular and most attractive ski resorts.

It has a modern lift system that virtually eliminates queuing up.

This resort is perfect for all skiing abilities and would be a great place to take your family.

2- Livigno, Italy

Livigno-Italy

Bring an extra bag because Livigno is a duty free zone.

Livigno is located fairly close to the Swiss border and has excellent skiing for both intermediate skiers, advanced skiers and even snowboarders to.

Livigno has many attractions but one of the biggest ones is its amazing terrain park which has huge pro-sized jumps as well as rails and kickers.  Have fun all you dare devils.

6 day ski pass: £161, $255

3- Borovets, Bulgaria

Borovets-Bulgaria

Borovets is one of the oldest and biggest resorts and is supposed to be one of the largest Alpine resorts in the country. It’s been completely modernized so no rickety chair lifts or decrepit run down areas can be found.

The ski resort is perfect for most beginners and intermediates. For those that enjoy after ski activities, the town is lively with bars that are cheap and cheerful

6 day ski pass: £129, $204 (including skis and poles)

4- Russia- Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana

Russia-Sochi

People ski in Russia. Who knew?

There is a town called Sochi in Russia about two hours from the country’s most famous ski centre Krasnaya Polyana and just 45 minutes from the Black Sea.

If you haven’t heard of Sochi, you soon will because Sochi will host the country’s first Winter Olympics in 2014 sochi2014.com. The ski centre Krasnaya Polyana is still pretty un-modernized but changing rapidly in preparation for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

No prices posted but it’s less than $200 for passes.

5- Romania- Brasov

Romania--Brasov

Poiana-Brasov is the most popular resort in Romania. It’s small and very well suited for beginners or families. If you’ve never tried night skiing, here’s your chance because the floodlights light up the runs. After skiing and after dark the bars offer cheap food and drink in a cheerful atmosphere.

6 day lift pass: £87, $138

Summary

The next time you are planning a ski trip, look towards Europe. Not only will you get an awesome and affordable ski vacation but you’ll get an international one at that.

Heaven or Hell? A Day At The Beach In The South Of France With Kids (Photo Essay)

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet

You know that expression “ A Day At The Beach? ” It implies that something is easy or simple right?

We spent a day at the with our kids at a beach in Le Pradet in the South of France in the Winter. It should have been fun and easy but it wasn’t. To me that day at the  beach symbolizes what Life abroad can be like. Living in France isn’t going to magically make your children agreeable or enthusiastic about the same things you are enthusiastic about no matter how great you think it is. You just have to roll with the punches and move on.

Here is what we saw at our day at the beach.

We saw a boy on a unicycle playing the guitar and  we walked,  talked and took in the scenery.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet walking

We wore our galoshes.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet galoshes

We saw the tinyest Yacht Club ever

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Club Nautique

It was cold and windy but we enjoyed the sounds of the Mediterranean Sea.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet looking towards Toulon

We looked around.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet looking around

We walked around

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet walking around

We wished we had Sea Kayaks.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet sea kayaking

But then the Moody Teenager emerged

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet grumpy kids

He did not like the day at the beach in the south of France

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet grumpy kids

So we decided to go home.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Garonne bus stop

The air was thick with tension as we waited for the bus.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Garonne bus stop

But we made it home and the grumpy teenager was happy again.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet sidewalk

That was “A day at the beach in the south of France” in the winter with our kids!

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet winter with kids

There is a lesson to be learned when travelling with other people

Things are not always black and white when you travel with other people.  “A DAY AT THE BEACH” is not always the proverbial “DAY AT THE BEACH”.
If the kids aren’t into it,  if the kids would rather be somewhere else doing something else…it can ruin an otherwise lovely time and a day at the beach can turn into a day in hell.

This was a true story:

In all fairness, my son Kieran isn’t always grumpy, I just wanted to make a point!  And In case you are wondering where we were, the beach is called “Plage De La Garonne” in a town called Le Pradet.  It’s a beautiful small beach town here in the south of France just five minutes on bike from where we live.  A great place to spend time or spend a year or more on your next career break or family sabbatical.
Here is a link to the office of tourism in Le pradet.

Where is the Red Sea?

Why You Should Visit the Red Sea And Sharm El sheikh in Egypt: A Surprising Holiday Destination

Visit The Red Sea: El Sheikh In Egype

In my quest to find new places to put on my bucket list to visit, I was surprised to learn that you can visit the Red Sea. It’s not only a great place for a family holiday but for longer extended trips thanks to it’s history and culture.

Visit The Red Sea? Where is The Red Sea?

If you’re like me, you probably know about the Red Sea from T.V. or the movie “The Ten commandments” where Charlton Hesten, who plays Moses, parts the red sea. It’s probably the most iconic and often parodied moments in film history. Sadly, that’s where my knowledge of the Red Sea ends.

Visit The Red Sea: El Sheikh In Egype: The parting of the red sea in the 10 Commandments

The Most Iconic imagery of Parting of the Red Sea from the movie “The Ten Commandments”

Be honest! Do you even know where the Red Sea is located? If you do, great. You get a big A+ for doing all your homework in school. If you don’t, don’t worry you’re not alone. Many people know of “The Red Sea” but if shown a map would not be able to point it out.

Visit The Red Sea: El Sheikh In Egype: The parting of the red sea in the 10 Commandments

Have You Heard Of Sharm El Sheikh?

I’m not here to give you a geography lesson or test your movie trivia skills or even test you on your biblical knowledge.

I simply want to introduce a new place that you may not have considered for your next trip.  Maybe even your next long term travel plans to slow travel through this region. It’s called Sharm El sheikh in Egypt which is located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula along the coastal strip of the Red Sea.

What is Slow Travel

If you are unfamiliar with the term slow travel let me quickly explain. The purpose of slow travel is the opposite of the quick holiday you take during a rushed break from work. The ethos of slow travel is all about savouring the beauty of a foreign land and revelling in the feeling that you’ve come to know a place a bit better than most tourists do.

Which brings me back to Sharm El Sheikh, sometimes referred to as “City of Peace” because of the numerous times the international peace conferences have been held there. Sharma is a great place to explore the philosophy of slow travel.

What’s there to do in Sharm El Sheihk?

Prior to 60 years ago, Sharm El Sheikh was nothing more than a small fishing port. Long-term travellers and slow travellers in this region will be delighted with the wealth and wide variety of activities.Sharma has become one of the premier diving and desert adventure destinations for holidaymakers worldwide.

Food and Attractions

The heart of Sharm El Sheihk is Naama Bay which is packed with wonderful restaurants, bars and cafes.

Diving

Divers are able to swim alongside a variety of fish species in crystal clear waters in the healthy, thriving reefs offshore.

The reefs at Tiran and Ras Mohammed are recognized as world-class diving spots. If sunken treasure is more your style, there are wrecks in Dunraven, Thistlegorm and Abu Nuas.

Archeological Attractions: Burning Bush

Those who take their time (slow travellers), in Sharm El Sheikh will also be able to delve into rich archaeological attractions.

St. Catherine’s is a monastery built around a 4th century chapel, which some believe was the site of the burning bush from the Old Testament Bible.

Explore sandy stretches of desert and, if you’re feeling especially intrepid, you can climb the peak of Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise.  You can also visit the beautiful Coloured Canyons, which are a maze of sandstone rocks. Consider riding there on a Sinai-bred camel – with a guide, of course!

Beach Activities

The Red Sea’s warm water is great for swimming with miles and miles of beaches. There are also a whole host of beach activities to do such as parasailing and wind-surfing.

The weather is predictable and warm all year round, making it an excellent spot for outdoor activities for the whole family.

Relaxing

After a long day outdoors, retire to the Naama Bay promenade, which has a festival-like atmosphere at night, and is filled with delicious cooking smells.

Language

Egypt’s national language is Arabic.  Whereas someone on a brief holiday might only learn how to say “hello” and “thank you,” as a long-term traveller you have the opportunity to go beyond just learning “hello” and “thank you”.

The best way to learn any language and feel more like a local is to immerse yourself in everyday life and try to use new words in practical situations.

Climate

Sharm El Sheikh has a desert climate which can have a dehydrating effect so be sure to drink lots of water.

Summary

Egypt is a place long steeped in mystery and it has attracted countless visitors over the years.
Sharm El Sheikh combines the historical appeal with a modern sensibility – found in the large number of luxury hotels and smart restaurants in this Riviera town.

If you take the time to understand the local culture and way of life Sharm will reward you with wonderful memories totally different than your typical trip to more popular or well known destinations.

Did You Know Where The Red Sea Was Located? Would you Visit Someplace like Sharm El Sheikh? Leave your comments below.

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