All posts in Hot Topics

Cruising to Bermuda – Part 1

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, we sent ExpertFlyer staff blogger, Lisa Kaslyn, to Bermuda.  She shares highlights of her adventure and ideas for you and your family to enjoy on your next trip to the Bermuda islands.

If you live in the northeast, like I do, it’s super convenient to take a cruise holiday from one of the three major cruise ports located in New York and New Jersey.  I have two daughters ages 20 and 9, so a cruise works well for all of us.  There are amenities, entertainment and activities that cater to a wide range of ages and interests.  The best part is we can do things together… or not!

Despite some anxiety about surviving the Devil’s Triangle, we set sail for Bermuda from Bayonne, New Jersey’s port of Cape Liberty.  Looking forward to fields of Bermuda onions, pink sand and endless supplies of long shorts, we were pleased to find many other attractions, charming natives and natural beauty that made it difficult to leave.

The Royal Navy Yard

royal navy yard

Royal Navy Yard, Bermuda – Photo: (c)Lisa Kaslyn

We disembarked at the Royal Navy Yard, where we immediately took advantage of the low cost WiFi.  Island Outfitters  charges $15 for a three-day package on one device.  While it was significantly cheaper than the ship’s WiFi, signals were in and out while onboard, but we made do.

Things to checkout:

We visited the National Museum of Bermuda where the island’s history is well documented and visually impressive.  Adjoining the museum is Dolphin Quest where visitors can enjoy a dolphin encounter.  Not for the budget-conscious, a five-minute “experience” is about $60(US).  That said, my daughter had no complaints and it will likely remain a treasured memory.

The Bone Fish Grill is a tiny little bar with big personality and ice cold beer – just what you need after a long hot day of loafing on the beach and shopping.

Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach

After seeing many photos of the famous beach, this destination was on our priority list.  We took a 30-minute bus ride from the Royal Navy Yard to Horseshoe Bay.  The ride was an adventure in itself with lovely views, and narrow winding roads. Roundtrip bus fare is $8/adult; children under 10 are free.

The beach is lovely, but quite crowded – at least when we arrived at 1pm.  Renting an umbrella ($13) is a must, as the sun is blistering during the summer months.

Famous for its interesting seascape, including unusual rock formations that jut from the water, we couldn’t resist taking a swim out to see them up close.  A word of caution: swim at your own risk at Horseshoe Bay.  We only saw one lifeguard and there were close to 1,000 people on the beach.  The riptide near the rocks can be dangerous for little kids and folks who are not strong swimmers.

That said, the water was warm, crystal clear and relaxing – not to mention beautiful.  Come back next week for part two of our series on Bermuda and learn more about what to see and do in Hamilton and St. George.

Interview: The Honeytrekkers talk about extreme honeymooning, Part deux

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In part one of our interview with Honeytrekkers, Anne and Mike Howard, we proved that it’s possible for anyone to embark on a honeymoon of a lifetime.  In part two of the interview, we cover their picks for the most romantic honeymoon destinations, and how to prepare for your once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

What have been some of the most romantic places you’ve traveled to and why?

Mozambique

Mozambique

We were Newlyweds at Large for Honeymoons.com, so we were fortunate enough to experience and review 72 incredible properties around the world. Though if we had to pick a handful of places…Kinondo Kwetu in Diani Beach, Kenya – It was a Swahili-style house tucked in between the sea cliffs and a sacred forest. Rather than candlelit dinners in a packed restaurant they surprised us with a private dinner atop a water tower and another on a beached boat. Medjumbe Private Island in Mozambique—13 chalets on a sliver of a white sand…it was so perfectly tropical it looked like a screen saver. Awasi in the Atacama Desert of Chile – If you like adventure with your luxury this place came with a private guide and driver to take on everything from horse back-riding through the dunes to a sunrise breakfast aside erupting geysers.

Any other surprising experiences that you want to share with couples preparing for their honeymoon or just a holiday away together?

You can’t see the world on 10-day vacations alone. Ask your boss for extra time off or even a 1-3 month sabbatical. Everyone has a soft spot for newlyweds–now is the time to ask! Your honeymoon is the best excuse to go big and do something you may never have the chance to do again. Sure, you’ll want to spend some time relaxing but this is the start of your life together—make it exciting! Go on safari, go shark diving, try paragliding, do something neither of you have ever done before. Whether it’s your honeymoon or just a normal vacation…life is short—go new places and make the most of where you are.

What about “old” married couples – folks who have been married more than 10 years? Do your travel recommendations differ for them?

around the world honeymoonDon’t wait until retirement to see the world. The sooner you have these adventures, the longer you’ll have these enriching memories and experiences in your life. Plus the older you get, it only gets tougher on your body and wallet, so do your most ambitious bucket-list items first. We saw a lady in her 80s climbing Machu Picchu and as much as that was impressive, I think she would have enjoyed it more if she didn’t need a cane and a guide to hold her up. Have kids? Challenge them to do more. We know a dad who bicycled the length of Japan with his eight-year old and another family with three kids that is spending the year volunteering on every continent. Travel is the greatest bonding and learning experience you could ever have together. We are so passionate about the wonders of long-term travel that we started HoneyTrek Trip Coach, a one-on-one guide to world travel, to help more people get out there and experience the world. If you have any questions at all, reach out to us via email – TripCoach@HoneyTrek.com or Facebook.com/HoneyTrek. We hope to hear from you!

Interview: The HoneyTrekkers Talk about Extreme Honeymooning

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Mike and Anne Howard, honeytrekkers

Honeytrekkers, Mike & Anne Howard

June is a big month for so many special events, like graduations and Father’s Day.  It also happens to be the biggest month for weddings — and honeymoons.  In keeping with our mission to help you explore the new and different, this month’s Hot Topic series features a two-part interview with intrepid honeymooners, Anne and Mike Howard.  Authors of the popular travel blog, Honeytrek.com, Anne and Mike took honeymooning to the extreme when they quit their jobs and decided to kick off their life together with a 675-day honeymoon around the world, including six continents, 33 countries and 302 places. You can follow Anne and Mike on their journey at HoneyTrek.com and Facebook.com/HoneyTrek.

What are some of the most unknown yet wonderful destinations for honeymooners and why?

Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines

Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines

The Philippines has over 7,000 islands and virtually no tourists. The islands have everything from pristine beaches to jungles to mountains to charming villages and incredibly friendly people wherever you go. El Nido with its karst coastline, Cebu for diving with whale sharks, Banaue for its cliff-cut rice terraces, and the journey from one island to the next holds endless possibilities for honeymooners. (HoneyTrek.com blogs on the Philippines coming soon!)

How do you handle conflicts on your honeymoon and compromising on differing desired itineraries?

If there is ever an issue when you are traveling together, you just have to address it and move on. There’s no time to let the petty stuff bother you on the road; if you do, you’ll miss out on the beauty right under your nose.  Then for all hiccups, you just learn to laugh about them and become stronger for it. For itineraries you will be going to so many amazing places that it is easy to mix it up and fulfill  both of your dreams.

Does an “exotic” or extended honeymoon always have to mean big bucks? What are your top tips for pulling off an extreme honeymoon on a standard budget?

Nepal, Himalayas

Nepal, Himalayas

Absolutely not. We did a three-day safari in the Serengeti for $245, stayed in beach-front bungalows for $10/night in the Philippines, and took an all-inclusive 10-day trek hike in the Himalayas, including food, lodging, permits and a guide for $200 per person. One of our favorite ways to get the best deals is to always book your activities when you arrive in a location. The prices and quality of what you get will always be better when you can compare options and bargain in person.  This may sound risky but we rarely booked anything in advance and never had a problem getting on a tour we wanted.

Next week, we’ll cover some of the most romantic destinations in the world – according to Mike and Anne.  Also, some advice for “old” married couples who want a second honeymoon.

Four Tips to Make Learning Spanish Easy before You Leave for Vacation

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, top language blogger, Benny Lewis, gave us four of his favorite language cramming tips before you leave on an overseas holiday.  In part two of our language learning for travel series, Lorraine Way, head of The Language Way, an onsite Spanish language training service, is going to give us advice for learning a Romance language, so your vacation takes you to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Lorraine Way

Lorraine with group of students

My company does a lot of work with professionals in social work, human resources, law and law enforcement, who frequently deal with people whose first language is Spanish.

Our language immersion approach is unique and effective. Our clients, with only a beginner level, often achieve intermediate proficiency within a relatively short time period – about 6-9 months.

We use the same technique for clients who want to improve their Spanish in preparation for a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, like Mexico, Spain or various South American destinations.  Our recommendation is to plan a month in advance of your trip to spend three hours a week with us – that is two 90-minute classes per week for four weeks (plus homework).  By the time you are ready to leave, you will have mastered the ability to carry-on very basic conversations, like ordering in a restaurant; exchanging pleasantries – your name, where you live, and your interests.

Lorraine’s key advice for learning a Romance language:

  • Take advantage of cognates, which are words in another language that are easy to remember because they look and mean the same thing as a word you already know in English. Some examples: accident – accidente; restaurant – restaurante; minute – minuto.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cognates that will ease your vocabulary building. Here’s a useful site to help you get started: spanishcognates.org.
  • Don’t be grammar focused; relax with it, and do the opposite of what you did in school. Interaction is most important.
  • Remember, the person you are trying to communicate with wants to talk to you as much as you want to talk to them, so enjoy it!
  • Get into the culture – music, dance, food, and people. Link your desire to learn the language with what you like. If it’s music, focus on that.

For more information on The Language Way’s programs, visit the website: thelanguageway.com.

 

Four proven ways to cram a language before your international journey

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In many foreign countries, Americans have helped generate a stereotypical image, and it’s usually not very pretty – especially when we get called out on our loudness or chubby appearance.  Unfortunately, we are also known for our limited language skills.  Did you know that 53% of Europeans speak at least two languages, as compared to only 18% of Americans?  To help American travelers shake this dull distinction, this month’s Hot Topic series features expert advice from top linguists, so you may quickly attain simple conversational skills before traveling to non-English speaking geographies.

Benny Lewis

Benny Lewis, the Irish Polyglot

Benny Lewis, international language hacker and author of Fluent in 3 Months—the top language blog in the world, agreed to help us with this effort.  When we asked Benny why he thought foreign language skills were not pursued by more people, he said most folks don’t think they can do it or just don’t get around to it.  “I tell would-be language learners, there are seven days in a week and ‘someday’ is not one of them, so start learning and using a new language today.

Known for his take-no-prisoners approach to language learning, we got Benny to share some of his top tips for conquering the basics.  Obviously, Benny wrote a whole book on this, so summarizing an entire language learning process is tough in a few simple tips, but he does a pretty good job of it in this blog post chronicling his intensive experience with Polish – He was able to carry on a simple conversation in about two hours!

Benny’s top pre-trip language cramming tips:

  • Get a phrase book and cram the essentials in a couple of hours
  • Get on italki.com and set up a spoken exchange with a real native speaker, practice what you know immediately so you hit the ground running later
  • Make your learning process about making mistakes and not perfection. Practice communication, not perfect sentence structure. Tarzan-ese is absolutely acceptable
  • Use memrise.com to cram vocabulary through clever mnemonics.

Next week, we’ll talk with Lorraine Way, president of The Language Way, an onsite language training service. The company specializes in helping professionals, like social workers, lawyers, HR workers and other professionals working with people, learn to do their jobs in Spanish.

Sources:

53% of Europeans speak at least two languages, as compared to only 18% of Americans; Forbes, “America’s Foreign Language Deficit,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/collegeprose/2012/08/27/americas-foreign-language-deficit/