Fresh Destinations for 2018

seoul, south korea

This article was originally published on WeekendHaven.com.

This year, let’s resolve to make the most out of our travel dreams and cross countries off our travel bucket list. From gastronomic celebrations and beach getaways to indulging in local culture and venturing out with extreme adventures, we’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to fresh destinations for 2018 that will reignite your inner wanderlust.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

dubai, dubai sky divingImage via Flickr by pictcorrect

The playground of the rich and famous, Dubai is a melting pot of cultures that thousands of expatriates and tourists each year. Over the years, Dubai has strived to innovate and develop architectural wonders that make it a city full of adventure. Indulge in a luxury stay in Dubai at a downtown hotel that offers easy access to metro stations that link you to major sights and attractions.

View the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and taste local delicacies at the Dubai Desert Safari and Bedouin Camp. Feeling courageous? Fly to your greatest adventure at Skydive Dubai and see the world under your feet.

Osaka, Japan

osaka, japanImage via Flickr by Cal !

Experience the old and new Japan as you stay at one of the beautiful hotels in Osaka. After exploring Japan’s well-preserved historic castles, delight in a flavorful experience in the country that boasts the most Michelin-starred restaurants. In Osaka, you can try out the most epic ramen, the tastiest sushi, or mouth-watering Wagyu beef.

El Paso, Texas, USA

texas, usaImage via Flickr by VisitElPaso

Texas boasts a diverse landscape, and outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of action-filled adventure, beaches, and nature. Take a ride along a scenic trail for a breathtaking view of El Paso, Juárez, and surrounding mountains. Remember to book early to get your best rates on El Paso hotels.  Start off your trail at the Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban wilderness park in the U.S., and delight in the sunset views from the Wyler Aerial Tramway, which offers a 360-degree view of the canyon.

Jacksonville, Florida, USA

florida, usaImage via Flickr by country67

Sleepy town no more, this part of Florida is becoming a popular yet affordable family-friendly destination. Jacksonville is known for its charming neighborhoods and sandy beaches. This city offers a unique atmosphere with a long stretch of uncrowded beaches, food truck fare, craft beer, and a thriving art scene that draws more and more visitors each year. You’ll also find plenty of Jacksonville hotels that offer great value.

Seoul, South Korea

seoul, south koreaImage via Flickr by weekendhaven

South Korea is taking over the world, and we’re loving it. From Korean dramas to K-pop music to Korean cuisine, the Korean scene has stolen our heart.

Check out our five-day Seoul itinerary for a massive list of what to see, eat, and experience when in Seoul. Wear the hanbok or Korean traditional clothing for free entry to the royal palaces.

Beyond this list of fresh destinations for 2018 you’ll find more places to see and discover. You just have to take the first step. Let us know in the comments which ones are you up to explore this year.

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Sikkim Diaries: Serendipity at Nathu La Pass

Watching snowfall has always been a beautiful dream for me. Never did I imagine that I would experience it and that too, in the month of May when it is the peak of the summer season in India.

Yes, it happened to me a couple of years back in Sikkim.

It was the second week of May. We set out to visit Tsomgo Lake (Chhangu), Baba Mandir and Nathu La (Himalayan pass) from Gangtok. It was cloudy when we started at 10 in the morning. By the time we reached Chhangu it started drizzling.

sikkim, himalayas, cloudy, rain

I have seen so many beautiful images of Tsomgo Lake with its bluish water. Unfortunately, it was only shades of grey all around that day. Only the prayer flags added a dash of color to the landscape.

chhangu, lake, tsomgo lake, sikkim

After a brief halt by the lake, we headed towards Baba Mandir. We had a bowl of steaming Momo at a restaurant beside the temple dedicated to the brave soul and legend Baba Harbhajan Singh.

baba mandir, sikkim

baba mandir, gangtok, sikkim

By the time we resumed our journey to Nathu La it was raining heavily. Hailstones lashed the road making it slippery and harder to drive. For a moment, I thought we won’t be able to make it to Nathu La this time due to poor weather condition.

rain, sikkim, nathula

Little did I know then that the bad weather would soon turn out to be a boon for us! 🙂

It was getting colder as we drove up the zig-zag roads. After some time, I noticed that the hailstones looked unusually white.

We asked the driver to stop. As the car stopped, I opened the door and stretched my hands outside.

snowfall, nathula, sikkim, himalayas

Gosh! It was not raining anymore. It was snowing! :O

snowfall, nathula, sikkim

When we finally reached Nathu La, it was white all around. Soft, white snow covered the entire place.

nathla pass, snowfall, sikkim

I didn’t have my gloves with me, therefore, managed to click only a few snaps with quivering fingers.

At a distance, the Indo-Chinese border gate was almost invisible in the mist and snow.

nathula pass, sikkim, himalayas

nathula pass, sikkim

It was freezing outside and soon I had to retire to the warmth of our car. This snowfall was completely unexpected but it was truly AMAZING an experience! A memory I would cherish all my life.

Snowfall… or luck by chance! Whatever it is… a selfie is a must. Hope you recognize me…  😉 🙂

nathula pass, sikkim, himalayas

Did you ever experience serendipity? Please do share your story with us in the comment section.

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Oklahoma City Tour – A Quick Guide for Outdoor Lovers

Bricktown, Oklahoma city

Oklahoma City has become a flourishing tourist destination, gradually leaving behind its culture of energy explorations and the cowboy lifestyle. From adventure lovers to leisure seekers, the city has something for all types of travel buffs. Check out some of the top outdoor recreation activities that you must include in your Oklahoma City itinerary.

Adventure Sports

whitewater rafting, OKC River Rapids

Image via Flickr by allisonmeier

If you love water and adventure, get ready for an adrenaline rush in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District. This amusement park is ready to test your strength and courage with a range of exciting outdoor activities, such as walking on the sky trail some 80 feet above the ground, zip-lining across the Oklahoma River, and slipping down the country’s tallest high-speed slide.

OKC River Rapids lets you experience the thrill of whitewater rafting right in the heart of the city. With the use of advanced engineering and technology, this state-of-the-art rafting center is designed to serve both extreme sports lovers and vacationers. Kids can have their share of fun at Youth Zone, which boasts the scaled-down versions of the sky trail, zip line, waterslides, and bungee jumping platform.

Waterfront Activities

Lake Overholser, kayaking in oklahoma city

Image via Flickr by FreeWine

With a Riversport Pass, you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboating in the river or on Lake Overholser. Water taxis are a relaxing way of exploring downtown Oklahoma City too. Take in the liveliness of Bricktown as you float along the canals connecting the neighborhoods of downtown Oklahoma City. With half a dozen lakes and reservoirs open for angling, visitors can enjoy boating and fishing anytime in Oklahoma City. However, a permit is required for boating in the city waters.

Outdoor Escapes

flamingos, oklahoma city zoo

Image via Flickr by nodigio

Discover the wild side of the city at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. This 119-acre forest is designed to recreate the natural habitats of Asia and Africa, with big cats, gorillas, elephants, and more. The zoo also has scenic nature trails, butterfly gardens, picnic areas, and food courts. Lake Draper, a short drive from downtown, offers rustic campsites where you can pitch tents under the canopy of trees and go fishing and sailing around at the lake.

Leisure and Fun

spray ground, oklahoma city

Image via Flickr by JenX 67

Oklahoma City is situated in a subtropical climate zone. However, there are many fun ways to beat the heat outdoors. Make a splash and chill out at any of the community pools located in the city. The family aquatic centers feature spray grounds, wading and swimming pools, waterslides, and much more. In addition to the aquatic activities, White Water Bay also has extensive entertainment options, including shopping, dining, and movie shows.

Heritage Sights and Landmarks

overholser mansion, oklahoma city tour

Image via Flickr by rutlo

Oklahoma City has a rich past. If you want to delve deeper into the city’s heritage, you cannot miss historical landmarks like the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Bricktown, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Overholser Mansion.

Many of these outdoor attractions are conveniently accessible from the centrally located hotels in Oklahoma City. With so many things to do in Oklahoma City, it is important that you choose your accommodation wisely. While late spring and early summer is the best time to visit Oklahoma City, you may get better hotel deals in the fall.

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11 Best Places to Visit in Dubai

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Dubai is the first name to come to mind when one thinks of a fabulous vacation spot loaded with unbelievable attractions. Whichever direction you look, there’s something fantastic to claim your undivided attention. When you manage to tear your eyes away from one attraction, there’s another one close-by, waiting to take your breath away. That’s Dubai for you.

1. The Dubai Mall – What Does Shopping Mean to You?

Dubai mall, shopping in Dubai

The sprawling Dubai Mall is more than just a mall – it’s an experience of retail grandeur never before seen. It’ll take days just to window shop all of the 1,200-plus retail outlets. Apart from 150 fantastic restaurants, Dubai Mall has an ice rink, an indoor theme park, an enormous indoor waterfall and the piece-de-resistance – the fabulous Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

2. The Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain, located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, is the world’s largest choreographed dancing water fountain. The water jets shoot up to 150 meters, illuminated by a thousand lights, swaying in time to an amazing array of musical scores. This incredibly mesmerizing show is even more spectacular at night when the LED lights that cover the Burj Khalifa are lit and the fountains light up the night. Watching the incredible fountain show is one of the best things to do in Dubai.

3. Burj Khalifa – The Height Says It All!

Burj Khalifa Dubai

At 828 meters, there’s not much to challenge the mighty Burj Khalifa but the eagles up high. The tallest building in the world not only dominates the city’s skyline, it provides stunning 360-degree views from its level 124 observatory. The view from Dubai Burj Khalifa’s the At The Top Sky Lounge on the 148th floor is even more spectacular. Linger for a lovely romantic meal in the clouds at the At.mosphere hotel on level 122, and watch the city buzzing away hundreds of feet below you.

4. Dubai Parks and Resorts

Dubai Parks and Resorts is a labyrinth of theme parks, water parks and more attractions than it’s possible to enjoy in a week. There’s the exciting Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, Legoland theme park and Legoland waterpark, plus the enticing Riverland Boulevard which is lined with amazing restaurants and cool entertainment options. Lapita, the luxury Polynesian-style hotel brings its own glamor and style to the theme park with its incredible architecture and design.

5. Palm Jumeirah

Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

Over time, human ingenuity has triumphed over nature again and again, but never with some spectacular audacity. Only Dubai could do it. The Palm Jumeirah is a beautifully sculpted manmade island in the shape of an open palm tree. The island caters to a select audience, with its high-end hotels. Here you’ll find the Waldorf Astoria, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Fairmont, One&Only and the iconic Atlantis, The Palm. A monorail runs along the trunk of the island’s palm tree structure, which in turn connects to the mainland’s tram system.

6. Dubai Creek

The Dubai Creek is the saltwater estuary where the Bani Yas tribe dived for pearls and fish. Today the Bani Yas tribe rules Dubai, and that says everything. The Creek is rife with the history of Dubai. Cross the Dubai Creek in a traditional Abra, and explore the towns of Bur Dubai and Deira, with their magnificent gold and spice souqs.

7. The Desert

Desert Safari Dubai

Take another step into the past by entering the magnificent Arabian Desert. A Dubai-style desert safari with quad biking, off-roading, sandboarding, camel riding and a full traditional barbeque is just the ticket. The lovely red desert with its majestic dunes has been the true home of the ruling tribe for millennia. Sign up for a Heritage Dinner Safari for a truly cultural experience, or a night amongst the dunes at the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa.

8. Dubai’s Parks

You might think parks are commonplace, but Dubai’s parks are some of the most beautiful, clean and tranquil you’ll ever see. For 5 AED, you’ll see families of various ethnicities enjoying themselves on pristine green lawns and flower gardens. Safa Park’s 150 acres of lawns, waterfalls, and hills are made for park lovers. Mushrif Park has extensive woodlands and a zoo. There are several other incredible parks to enjoy in Dubai. The city isn’t just about magnificent landmarks, right?

9. Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

The world’s first and only 7-star hotel, the Burj soars to a height of 321 meters and is visible for quite a distance across the Palm Jumeirah islands. Its distinctive sail-shaped outline has been the background for a million selfies that have been taken in front of it. The Burj is expensive, so the best way to see it would be to take tea at the Aswan Lounge for AED 280 and then explore this beautiful landmark.

10. Ski Dubai

How about checking out the mystical, hot desert dunes and hit the ski slopes on the same day? Is that even possible, unless you took a Mach whatever flight to the other side of the world? It’s possible in Dubai when you get to Ski Dubai at the Emirates Mall. Here you’ll transition from 50°C desert heat to below zero temperatures before you’re sure what hit you. You can hire all your ski stuff here, plus warm clothing. Enjoy a cup of piping hot chocolate at the café-bar halfway up the ski slope. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing to your heart’s content and when you’re done, spend some time with Ski Dubai’s cute Snow Penguins!

11. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

The Dubai Aquarium

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are filled with scary huge saltwater crocodiles and sharks of every description. Walking through the 48-metre acrylic aquarium tunnel and coming face-to-face with the incredible marine life is an unbeatable experience. The simulated virtual reality VRZOO experience takes you into the jungles of Asia and the African Savannah even as you stand right where you are. Plus, there’s shark diving and cage snorkeling, fun ways to get really up close to the dangerous sharks.

Conclusion

Dubai is adding to its list of wonders every day. Soon Ain Dubai will become public, as will the Dubai Frame and the Dubai Canal. If there weren’t sufficient reasons to visit this amazing city, there will be more soon! So pack your bags and head out to Dubai at the earliest. You don’t want to miss out on the best of Dubai.


A Guest Post by Neha Singh

As a Mass Comm postgraduate, Neha naturally has an artistic take on everything about life. This is quite evident in her writings as well. An avid trekker, explorer and a true foodie; Neha finds happiness in small endeavors of life and loves to pen them down as a cherished memory. A firm believer that “we have just one life to live and so much to do”, Neha lives every moment to the fullest. You can follow her journey at dubaiwikia.com.

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Traveling in Seattle: The Welcoming City

downtown seattle, seattle travel guide

From high-tech aviation centers to exquisite art museums, Seattle has diverse attractions. The city’s lively markets, historic neighborhoods, and beautiful parks are ideal for walking and cycling tours.

If you want to travel like a local in the Emerald City, follow this Seattle travel guide. Here are some of Seattle’s top highlights.

Downtown Seattle

space needle, seattle

Image via Flickr by arcalexx

Pioneer Square, the Central Public Library, and the Seattle Art Museum are clustered around the downtown area. The library is an architectural masterpiece built with thousands of glass panes joined by steel frames. Seattle’s iconic attraction, the Space Needle, is also a short drive from downtown.

The historic district of Pioneer Square offers a great environment for travel photography. Lined with shops selling anything from fresh fish and vegetables to clothing and accessories, the lively streets of Pike Place Market and the International District are best explored on foot. Step into one of the many eateries in this area and satisfy your taste buds with Asian or American delicacies.

Lake Union

lake union seattle

Image via Flickr by osiristhe

When in Seattle, set aside a day for watersports and adventure at Lake Union. Kayaking or standup paddleboarding at the lake lets you experience the sights and sounds of Seattle from a different viewpoint.

In addition, don’t miss the Ride the Ducks of Seattle tours. The “duck” is actually an amphibious craft that floats along the lake and water inlets and wheels around the streets of downtown Seattle.

If you’re ready to spend more, seaplanes can fly you over the city and Puget Sound. You’ll enjoy the thrill of flying in a seaplane and the bird’s-eye views of Lake Union, Ballard Locks, downtown Seattle, and the Olympic Mountains.

Waterfront Seattle

waterfront seattle, elliott bay

Image via Flickr by SisterPrice

The Seattle waterfront boasts parks, pathways, and boating piers, and the Elliott Bay Seawall connects downtown Seattle with the marina. Home to several souvenir shops and seafood joints, the waterfront is a place to relax and enjoy water excursions along Puget Sound.

Located at Pier 59, the Seattle Aquarium is a wonderful world of colorful fish, coral, and a variety of marine animals from the Pacific. Don’t miss Seattle Great Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel featuring climate-controlled gondolas with glass flooring to ensure exciting rides year-round.

Woodinville Wine Country

woodinville, seattle, winery, vineyard

Image via Flickr by dherrera_96

A short drive from downtown Seattle, Woodinville is home to several wineries where visitors can take guided tours and taste local wines. Find yourself immersed in the rustic greenery, soaking in the views of mountains and vineyards, and go biking along the nature trails. Guided wine tasting tours often include award-winning delicacies served with fine wines. You can extend your Woodinville experience by staying overnight, as there are hotel rooms available to fit every budget.

Woodland Park Zoo

The zoo is home to exotic wildlife from Africa, Australasia, and North America, including the Northwest, Canada, and Alaska. It’s the only place in Seattle where you can meet gorillas, watch giraffe families grazing, or spot a snow leopard relaxing with its cubs. The zoo is divided into different climatic zones ranging from tropical rainforest to coastal desert to create natural habitats for its residents.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. From watching ballet performances at the theater to harbor cruising on Elliott Bay, there are many more things you can do in Seattle to make your vacation an unforgettable one.

Explore and Experience the City of Squares – Cambridge

Frank Gehry building MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The name “Cambridge” evokes a mixed feeling of curiosity and reverence. As the mecca of knowledge, culture, and education, Cambridge welcomes visitors with a liberal atmosphere, scenic beauty, and an array of museums. If you believe in experiential traveling, explore Cambridge at your own pace.

Harvard University Walking Tour for History Buffs

Harvard University Walking Tour

Image via Flickr by 6SN7

A guided walking tour of the Harvard University campus can give you a detailed picture of this prestigious institution and the lifestyle of its students. Start your tour from the historic Harvard Yard, explore Harvard Square, which is the cultural and commercial heart of Cambridge, and then stop at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. If you want to catch up with the vibe of the city, Harvard Square is the place with bookstores, restaurants, coffee shops, street performances, and live theater.

Cambridge Bicycle Tour for Outdoor Lovers

Known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the USA, Cambridge is best explored by bike. Take a leisurely ride along the tree-lined avenues and explore the cultural districts at your own pace. Harvard Square, Central Square, and Kendall Square are some of the most appealing places in the city. Ride along the beautiful cycling pathways by the Charles River and enjoy the views all around. The cycling tours end at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

MIT and Harvard Art Museum for Art Enthusiasts

MIT, Cambridge, MA

Image via Flickr by ^ Johnny

MIT is located on the bank of the Charles River. The landscaped campus is dotted with amazing architecture and sculptures that are worth visiting. You can book a private group tour of the MIT campus. The tours, guided by MIT students and staff, are designed to give visitors deeper insight into the institution and its research and innovation.

The Harvard Art Museums comprise three museums — the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum — and four research centers. With their extensive collection of modern, classical, and ancient works of art from across the globe, the Harvard Art Museums are well worth your time in Cambridge.

Charles River Cruising for Leisure Seekers

Charles River, cambridge

Image via Flickr by Leslee_atFlickr

The riverfront is landscaped with old trees, gardens, and walking trails. Take a stroll along the riverbank while soaking in the view of Boston skyline on the other side of the river. Go for a boat trip or go kayaking to add more fun to your leisure vacation in Cambridge. Charles River boat tours cover the city’s historical landmarks. As the boat sails along, enjoy the views of the twin cities, Cambridge and Boston, and watch as the sun sets beyond the urban landscape.

Mount Auburn Cemetery for Nature Lovers

Mt Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA

Image via Flickr by BostonPhotoSphere

Known to be America’s first landscaped cemetery, Mount Auburn Cemetery is also a wildlife sanctuary. With rolling fields dotted with ancient trees, ponds, and shrubs, this peaceful place is a haven for bird watchers. Fall is the best time to visit Cambridge if you want to experience its scenic beauty. This is also the time when the cemetery looks most appealing with colored foliage and verdant nature.

Walking and biking are, perhaps, the best ways to explore this city of squares. Hence, you should choose your hotel carefully. Centrally located hotels near Lesley University are within walking distance of many of the popular attractions. From rooms for $70 a night to luxurious four-star properties, there are accommodations to fit every budget.

How to Financially Prepare for Your Next Big Trip

Traveling can be very expensive, especially if it’s a really big trip. But that doesn’t need to stop you from taking your next adventure! There are ways that you can help to prepare financially so that you’re able to take that trip you’ve been dying to go on!

Create a consistent savings plan for traveling.

If you open a short-term recurring deposit account set aside specifically for your travels, you can save for trips a bit easier! If you have that money in a separate account, you won’t be tempted to spend it on other things, and you can use the money you accumulate in that account for your next expensive trip that you didn’t think you’d be able to afford. If long-term saving is not an option consider a low-interest personal loan. This way you can take the trip right away and start savings plan to pay off the loan without the crazy added interest of a credit card.

savings, money saving, travel fund, save money

Image: Flickr

Stay away from online shopping.

When you’re spending too much money on your online shopping addiction, it might also be hard to balance with your travel bug. Online shopping is such an easy way to drain your money quickly, mostly because it’s so easy to just click “buy” on your phone or computer.

To get rid of the urge to shop online, delete all the shopping apps from your phone, and unsubscribe from any promotional emails that may cause you to impulsively shop online. You can also clear your browser cache and cookies regularly to get rid of targeted advertising by e-commerce sites! No more late night shopping!

Control your expenditure by living a simpler life.

If traveling is your priority, try to understand the difference between “want” and “need”. You’re going to need to restrict your expenses if you really want to be able to afford the next trip you’re planning! Avoid eating at more expensive restaurants, and refrain from buying clothes you don’t need. Every time you go to buy something, ask yourself if you really need it, or if it’s just another impulse buy. Remind yourself that whatever money you would be spending on your wants could be going toward your next trip! Try to pick up a hobby that can help you get some extra cash, like freelance writing online!

With these tips, any trip is possible! Don’t let finances get in your way of your dream to travel! Now get saving, and happy traveling friends!

travel tips, savings, travel fund, savings for traveli


A Guest Post by Jamie Wharton

Jamie is a Social Media Strategist for Earnest. She has a passion for finance and enjoys educating others. Her main goal is to help build a brighter financial future while making finance friendly for everyone. When not working you can find Jamie surfing the web while sipping on her latte.