7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Carry-on

With stringent luggage rules, you aren’t left with much room to pack clothing and other goods in your carry-on.  Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of that space.

  1. Wear layers of clothing on the flight.  A great way to get some extra outfits in for your trip is to wear layers of clothing.  Throw an extra plastic bag or reusable shopping bag in your suitcase to put the extra clothes in later.  Always wear your bulkiest shoes and fluffiest sweater or jacket since they won’t condense well.
  2. Pack small objects such as socks and underwear in your shoes. If it is small enough to fit in something, put it there.
  3. Pack your biggest and least moldable objects first, then squeeze softer objects around those items. Pack shoes, bags of toiletries, and anything else that cannot be forced into an odd shape first, then bend your t-shirts and pajamas around them.
  4. If you don’t need it, leave it.  Europeans are known for wearing the same outfit for days in a row, no one is going to notice if you are wearing the same pair of jeans.  Trust me.
  5. Pack dark clothes and plain clothing. If you pack dark jeans and plain clothing, your friends are much less likely to notice you wearing the same shirt in all 300 photos you upload.
  6. Pack accessories. A great way to trick people in to thinking you are wearing a different outfit is by changing something simple like a scarf.  Especially in winter months, focus on packing more of what people will actually see than shirts that will end up hidden under your coat.
  7. Spacebags are a lie, and irritate fellow travelers. One girl I have traveled with a few times carries the travel version of spacebags with her for short trips.  I guarantee I fit 3x more clothing in my backpack than she did, the hard plastic bags do not optimize space in any way.  Plus they are loud and take way longer to pack in than just rolling your clothing. The only thing spacebags are truly useful for is pillows or other incredibly fluffy items with tons of excess air in them.

 

5 South American Locations Perfect for Escaping Winter

This Winter you may be longing for the warm days of Summer to come back.  Luckily, our neighbor south of the Equator offers the temperatures of Summer this time of year.  Here are 5 locations perfect to swap the cold and snow for some warm summer nights.

1) Punta del Esta, Uruguay.

Uruguay is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of South America” for it high class and European feel.  CNN named Uruguay one of the “World’s Top Destinations for 2012″.  If Uruguay was New York City, Punta del Esta would be the Hamptons.  For locals, keeping a summer house in Punta del Esta is ideal for its resort feel and rich atmosphere.

uruaguay


2) San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

Situated between the Andes mountains and Nahuel Huapi Lake, Bariloche is a nature lover’s dream.  The city itself is styled after German and Swiss architecture, and is known for its jaw-dropping scenery and top-notch cuisine.  A huge ski town in the Winter (Summer for the Northern hemisphere), the region is perfect for boating, hiking, scuba diving, and similar activities in the Summer months.

Baril

3) Manaus, Brazil

Manaus is literally surrounded by the Amazon Rainforest and is one of the cities with the easiest access to the jungle.  Your best bet for a trip to the Amazon would be December or early January, if you go too late you will be arriving in the wet season.  Manaus offers a city feel in the middle of the jungle.

Manhaus

4) Santiago, Chile

A large modern metropolis, Santiago can offer a tourist just about everything.  With a Mediterranean climate similar to California, Chile has perfect Winter weather.  You can hike in the mountains in the morning and be on the beach by the afternoon.

Chile

 

5) Belize

Okay, so technically speaking Belize is not in South America, but it was too good to leave off our list.  Just off the coast of Belize you can find the cleverly named, Great Blue Hole; A UNESCO World Heritage Site.  With Caribbean culture and temperatures; Belize City is a calm, fun-loving city perfect for relaxing, snorkeling  or scuba diving on the coast.

Belize

 

Have another favorite Winter getaway? Let us know!

Hotels vs. Hostels: Where to Stay

Last week we wrote about hotels vs. vacation rentals, but what if you are considering a hostel instead? Are there any benefits over staying in a hotel? There are a few differences that can help you decide whether it is a better choice to book a hostel or a hotel.

What is a hostel? When you book a hotel, you book a room. When you choose to stay in a hostel, you book a bed.  You are literally reserving the spot in which you will stay instead of the room.  This typically means that there will be other people in your room that reserved thLs of  staying in a hostel?

  1. Cost. The number one selling point of hostels is the price. I have stayed in multiple hostels for under $15 a night, which is significantly cheaper than many hotels.  There is often the misconception that hostels are dirty and much trashier than hotels.  This is not necessarily true.  Hostels are rated like hotels on sites such as hostelworld.com.  I have stayed in 4 and 5 start hostels that are as nice as some of the best hotels.  Since hostels are aimed toward the budget conscious traveler, they often include things such as guest kitchens where you can cook and discounted tours or attractions, especially for students.
  2. Social scene. If you stay in a hotel, you are isolated in your room.  Hostels are social settings and you are bound to meet other travelers that are sharing your room.  Additionally, almost every hostel has a common room or some type of lounge to encourage social interaction between residents; many even have bars attached.  I have met some amazing people in hostels who are usually like minded travelers ready to share stories.
  3. Hostel Staff.  The majority of the staff members I have talked with in hostels are younger people who love to travel.  They almost always have great advice, both on the local area and other destinations.  Particularly perfect for people who want to experience local culture, their suggestions are usually more off the beaten path than a concierge who often names the top tourist spots.
  4. Location.  Since hostels typically house a fewer number of residents than hotels, their location options are greater.  There are many hostels situated in restored historical buildings, big houses, old prisons, campsites, castles, etc.  

What are the cons of hostels?

  1. Bad roommates.  There have been a couple times when I have had to share a room with a particularly stinky guest, someone who snores, etc.  I will say these times are outweighed by the times I have met awesome people, but keep in mind you have no say in who is in your room, it is just the luck of the draw.  One night my friends and I returned to our hostel and found a guy that had crawled into my friend’s bed instead of his own. Awkward.  These usually make for good war stories though.
  2. Amenities.  It is common for a hostel not to provide towels for guests without an additional fee. Likewise, they may give you sheets when you check in to make your own bed.  If you are looking for added amenities and special treatment, hostels are probably not your best choice.
  3. Privacy.  Hostels are created to form a community.  The atmosphere is often much more relaxed and less formal than a hotel.  With this in mind, guests may stay up late talking loudly, you will be sharing a community bathroom, and you better get used to changing clothes in front of strangers.

Hostels can be an excellent option especially if you are looking for location character and travel buddies.  Just be cautious to do your research first. Below are some pictures from hostels I have stayed in, both costing a little more than $20 USD a night.

Hostel courtyard in Marrakech, Morocco

Budapest hostel bunk bed sheets.

 

Hotels vs. Rentals: Where Should You Stay

From couchsurfing.com to airbnb.com, room and house rentals have become the latest trend among seasoned travelers and are now gaining traction as a viable alternative to hotels. If you’ve never used a service like this, there are some things you should know before you take refuge in someone’s humble abode. Below are six things you should consider and whether hotels or rentals dominate that category.

1. Convenience: Hotel
Having someone at a Front Desk at all times is invaluable. If there are problems with your rental (which there tend to be, just as there are with hotel rooms) you chance whether or not the owner will answer his email or phone call before your stay is up. Plus, should you need anything additional like towels or soap, the front desk has that covered.

2. Location : Tie
Hotels and rental properties can be found in just about any part of a city, so neither has any leverage over the other. If you want to stay away from the constant movement of hotel guests, using a rental that is away from the hotel-infested areas is probably your best bet and often provides for a little more privacy than a hotel.

3. Last-Minute Availability: House Rental
Last year, I decided I wanted to go to Dallas for OU/Texas (one of the largest events in the city each year) in the 11th hour. Hotels are sold out months in advance. Even when hotels in a city are completed booked, there are often available rental properties since a lot of people still don’t think to check for them and property owners often don’t decide to list their rentals far in advance.  We found an awesome apartment with a rooftop pool in the heart of downtown days before the game, not to mention it was 40% cheaper than a comparable hotel in the same area.

4. Cleanliness and Comfort: Hotel
Many rentals rely on maids that must be arranged each time they are needed to get into the rental. If there is any difficulty getting into the unit, the maids will simply move on. This was the case with my last experience. The maid never came and I had to spend two days in the previous renter’s filth. Seasoned owners are more likely to have the system down and ensure cleanliness for guests, but it’s never a guarantee you’ll even be able to get in touch with them.

5. Amenities: Hotel
Hotels typically have more standardized amenities.  Since each unit of a rental is fitted to the individual owner’s needs, cable, blow dryers, coffee makers and so on vary extensively by unit. The only thing that each unit seems to have had in my experience is Wi-Fi – no shock there.  Some rentals may have more unique amenities than hotels though, my friend stayed in an apartment in Chicago with a driving range on the roof free for all tenant’s use.

6. Price: House Rental
This is often the big selling point for rentals. The owner sets the price and the smart ones will keep a busy schedule by setting their prices a little lower than competitors.  Rentals can also be much more cost efficient for groups since renting a 2 bedroom apartment is commonly less expensive than renting two separate hotel rooms.  If you spend the time, you can typically find a good unit for cheaper than the hotel across the street.

So what’s important to you? For me, I value cleanliness and convenience, so hotels are my preferred choice. But to each their own!

If you choose to book a hotel, make sure you check out how to choose the perfect hotel room, and the best sites to book your hotel on. 

How to Fly Successfully on Budget Airlines

How to Successfully Fly on Budget Airlines

Taking a budget airline flight can be very cost effective, but only if you can successfully avoid all the hidden fees and traps.  Navigating the regulations of budget airlines, such as Ryanair, Wizzair, and EasyJet, is similar to trying to understand the rules of the Federal Tax Code.  Here are a few tips to help you travel with ease and maximize the little space you have.

1)      Location, Location, Location.  Budget airlines can offer the crazy low prices they do for multiple reasons; one of these is by offering flights out of tiny airports that don’t get the traffic of the mainstream ones.  One example of this is The Paris/Beauvais airport which Ryanair regularly flies out of.  This airport is not really located in Paris, but in the neighboring city of Beauvais over an hour’s drive away from the heart of the city. Airports outside main cities require special travel arrangements and take more time.  In the Paris example, you should arrive at a bus stop to the airport over 3 hours before your flight at a cost of 15 Euro.  Don’t rule out these tiny airports right away, but remember to factor in the added cost of getting to them and the extra travel time to make sure the plane ticket is still a steal.

Map of the Paris-Beauvais airport in relation to Paris

2)      Always pre-print your boarding pass.  Some budget airlines may charge up to 60 Euro to print your boarding pass at the airport if you do not print it before hand.  Even worse, the ticket may not be available to print more than 24 hours before your flight and 4 hours or less before the flight.   Be sure to check the time restrictions to print off your ticket and research a place to print the ticket within that timeframe to avoid paying an extremely hefty fee.

3)      Choose your suitcase wisely. Budget airlines love to pick out travelers with baggage that is outside of the specified size to make them pay for breaking the luggage guidelines. Pack in a backpack or some form of bag that you carry on your person instead of a rolling bag.  Every time I witnessed someone get stopped by the “baggage police” (which happens very often), it was someone using a rolling suitcase.  They love to make everyone with a wheeling carry on try to fit it in the little metal cage that is the measurements of the restrictions.  Can’t get it in? Pay a large fee.  Our backpacks were usually larger than these rolling bags, but never got questioned.

Carrying a rolling bag is like carrying a giant target.

Adapters vs. Converters: Which do you need?

If you are planning a trip to a country that uses different plugs than your own, you must be sure to pack an adapter or converter if you want to use your own appliances or chargers.  The task of choosing which one is necessary is a little more complicated.

-Adapters are plug extensions that literally only change the shape of the prongs that go into the outlet.  In other words, adaptors do not change anything about the way your device functions, but just change the plug of your device to fit another outlet. For the adaptor pictured below, you plug a U.S. device into the plug adaptor effectively making it fit into European plugs.

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– Converters: Converters are also almost always adaptors, but instead of just changing the type of prongs on your plug, they adjust the amount of electricity that goes through your device. If your device is not a dual voltage appliance (see below for more details about this), then you will need a converter.

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How to determine if your device is dual voltage: Most devices will have a sticker on the plug specifying the details of that appliance (see photo below).  Look under the “input” section on this sticker, if your device states a range of voltage (such as 100-240v in the photo below) then your appliance is dual voltage.  If there is only one numberstated here you will need a converter; if there is a range then you will only need anadaptor.

ImageElectricity sticker specifying voltage information

 

Some devices, including most hairdryers, will have some form of knob or switch which you must change from the lower voltage setting (typically 100 or 120v) to the higher voltage setting (usually 240v).

Imagethe black circle at the bottom of the dryer changes the voltage input

 

If your device is not dual voltage and you do not use a converter, one of two things is likely to happen.  First, your device may just heat up more than usual but may still work.  This is common with straighteners (even dual voltage ones).  Since the voltage is higher, the device gets hotter than usual.  Be very cautious when using a device with a different voltage, multiple girls I know have singed their hair using their curling irons and straighteners because they did not move them quickly enough through their hair with the excess heat.  The second thing that may happen, is the extra voltage will fry your device and it will cease to work completely.  Even if you use a converter this may happen since they are not the most reliable devices, despite the cost and quality of the converter.

It is best to buy dual voltage devices before you leave, or just pick up a cheaper version of your hair dryer or iron once you get to your destination country.  Avoid taking expensive appliances as the change in voltage can cause them to break very easily.

Here is a list of each country’s plug type and standard voltage:  http://www.starkelectronic.com/fzfv.htm

Top Ten: New York City (Top Ten Things to Do and See in NYC)

Top Ten NYC

1. Take a Water Taxi Ride.  One of the best ways to see New York
City is to take a circle tour around the island of Manhattan to see the city
from each side.  You can also cross off the Statue of Liberty, since most of these tours will go right by the statue.  New York Water Taxi offers a hop-on, hop-off version of the circle to maximize the bang for your buck.

2. Paddle-boat or Stroll Through Central Park.  Central Park is a must see for New York City visitors. The huge park offers many activities and has street vendors selling souvenirs and food alike. You can paddle-boat in the park or enjoy a picnic lunch while you people watch.

3. Window Shop on 5th Avenue or Madison Avenue.  Nothing epitomizes the Upper East Side lifestyle quite like the shops on 5th Avenue. From FAO Schwartz (the toy store made famous in the movie Big) to Bergdorf Goodman (an upscale department store only found in NYC) there are many interesting shops and window displays to be seen.

4. Eat at Grimaldi’s Pizza.  One of the most famous pizza joints, there are a few Grimaldi’s pizza locations to dine at during your stay in NYC. The best known in under the Brooklyn Bridge, and makes for a great stop to fuel up before you trek across the bridge back into Manhattan.

5. See a Show.  New York is home to many famous shows and theaters. There are many options to choose from from Broadway to Off Broadway, to free shows from upcoming actors and actresses at the NYU theater. There is something for everyone.

6. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Take the subway (or a ferry) across the bay and walk the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn into NYC. Great views from all angles of the bridge. Prepare yourself for crowds, the bridge is typically busy and the walking paths could be wider. Alternatively, you can bike ride across the bridge; the crowds can make this difficult though, and it is harder to stop to take photos and enjoy the view.

7. Relax on the High Line.  The High Line was once elevated tracks for freight trains. After threats of demolition, the tracks were transformed into a city park. You can walk the former tracks and enjoy interesting views of NYC or relax on one of the many benches or seats along the path.

8. Grab a Burger at Shake Shack. A favorite of many locals, the original Shake Shack can be found in Madison Square Park serving delicious burgers, shakes, and cheese fries. Expect to wait in a long line to grab one of these burgers. You can check the line length before you go by viewing “The Shack Cam” on the Shake Shack website.  There are multiple locations throughout the city if you want to skip waiting outdoors or the massive lines of the original location.

9. Visit St. Paul’s Chapel.  Often overshadowed by the 9/11 Memorial, St. Paul’s Chapel lies across from the site where the World Trade Centers once stood. The oldest standing church in NYC didn’t have a single window broken from the collaspe of the towers. The Chapel became the hub for recovery workers after the attack and is now filled with panels of items collected from the rescue workers and visitors in an incredibly moving and humbling display.

10. Go to the Top of the Rock. The less crowded alternative to the Empire State Building, you can ride the elevator to the top of Rockefeller Plaza for great sky views of NYC. Not only do you get to avoid the crazy crowds of the Empire State Building here, you also get a great view of the famous building from the Top of the Rock. Go right before sunset and you can catch both day and night views of the city.

How to Survive Long Flights: 12 Tips to Help You Keep Your Sanity on Long Hauls

There are many great destinations around the world to see, but some require a long flight in order to get there.  Here are a few ways to help you to not go crazy on that long flight.

1)   Pack a spare comfy outfit.  While wearing comfortable clothes on a flight is a given, even your most comfortable outfit may become uncomfortable after an extended period of time.  Pack an extra outfit in your suitcase that you can change into should the clothing you wore onto the plane become uncomfortable.  Even if you don’t need it for the flight, you can change into it upon landing to help you feel fresh or have a backup in case your checked luggage gets lost.  Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes that can be easily removed.

2)   Bring good headphones (and two pairs).  Many pairs of headphones will start to hurt your ears after extended wear.  Bring a set of a different kind to relieve your aching ears.  Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for extra peace and quiet.

3)   Choose your seat cautiously.  If you typically choose aisle or window seats, think very carefully about where you should sit on a long flight.  Sit in the aisle and you may have to deal with people getting up and down often and may struggle to sleep in an upright position.  However, choose to sit by the window and you may get trapped in your seat by those sitting next to you.  Check if there are exit row seats available as they allow a little extra leg room.

SeatGuru shows you the optimal seat on your flight

Check out www.seatguru.com to find the best seat on every flight. It will show you the layout of your plane with each seat ranging from red (bad) to green (good seat). It will also show you the amenities available on the plane.

4)   Bring a pillow and blanket.  Nothing makes your cozier than your own pillow and blanket.  Check out the Lug Nap Sac I wrote about in “Travel Accessories We Can’t Go Without.”

Lug Nap Sac Travel Blanket & Pillow

5)   Leave the extra carry-on bag behind.  While it may be tempting to pack two carry-on bags, you will regret it when you want to stretch out your feet.  Try to keep your luggage to what will fit in the overhead.

6)   Bring food and water.  There is nothing worse than being on a long flight when all the meal options are terrible.  Prepare like the airline will not serve you any food instead of banking on eating what they serve or waiting for a flight attendant to bring you a drink.

Check www.airlinemeals.net for what you can expect to eat on your flight.

7)   Continue your daily routine.  If you wash your face, brush your teeth, etc. every morning and evening, bring the items you need to continue this regime.  Not only will it give you something to do for 5 minutes and a reason to get up; but it will help your body register the end of the day/start of a new one.  It may sound strange, but changing into sweat pants, and preparing like I am going to bed helps me relax and actually get some sleep on a long flight.

8)    Prepare for the dry air.  Recycled cabin air gets very dry.  Make sure to drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated to avoid extreme jet lag.  Make sure to pack eye drops, lotion, and chapstick to protect your skin from being in dry conditions for an extended period of time.

9)   Walk around regularly.  Get up at least every few hours and walk around just to get your blood flowing.  If you sit for an extended period it can cause cramps and other health risks.  Some travelers like to wear compression socks on long flights to increase the blood circulation in their legs.

10)   Bring back support.  If you often experience back pain (or even if you don’t) bring some form of back support to keep your body from aching upon your arrival.  Bring a lumbar support pillow to allow extra support for your back.

Adjust-Air Portable Lumbar Support

11)   Prepare entertainment for 1 ½  times longer than the flight.  If you have a 12 hour flight, don’t bring only a book that will take you 13 hours to read.  You are bound to either get bored with it or finish it faster than you expect.  When you are bored and in a contained space, it is hard to keep yourself focused.  Bring options to choose from to keep you entertained (movies, games, magazines, books, work, etc.).

12)   Take airborne before you go and/or while you are in the air.  A long flight can do a lot of damage to your body and immune system. Take airborne and other vitamin and mineral packed supplements to make up for this damage.  There is nothing worse than getting sick right when you arrive at your destination.

8 Things You Probably Are Not Packing For Your Trip

While you can hopefully remember to pack your basics like clothing and toiletries, here are some additional items you may not think of as well as some you may think you wouldn’t need.

1. Pillowcase:  I have stayed in a lot of hotels, many of which I did not want to touch the bed covers let alone rest my head on their pillow.  Packing a pillowcase lets you keep your peace of mind while you sleep in a strange place whether you’re staying in a sketchy hostel or the Four Seasons.

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2. Food you can’t get where you are going.  One of my travel companions dips everything in ranch dressing before she eats it.  She freaked when she realized ranch is almost impossible to find in Europe and what you can get is nothing like what she was used to.  If you don’t go a week without it at home, assume you won’t be able to find it in your destination and take some.

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3. Adaptors. If you are going to a country where the outlets are different, do not forget to pack an adaptor.  While hotels provide most appliances (such as blow dryers) you are still likely to need an adaptor for something.  It is almost impossible to find adaptors once you reach your destination since all those sold in local stores are to adapt the local plug to a foreign one instead of the other way around.

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4. Space bags.  In a previous post, I mentioned that I could not stand travel Space Bags, and that I do not believe they work.  While this opinion stands, there is one excellent alternative use for them that everyone should consider.  Space Bags are a great option to store smelly, wet, or dirty clothes in when traveling, because they are created to seal in everything and store larger amounts of clothing than a Ziploc bag.  Whether your clothing smells like cigarette smoke or is covered in mud from a hike, storing them in a Space Bag keeps them from rubbing off on your other clothing.

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5. GPS Tracker. For less than $100, you can buy a GPS tracking unit to store in your checked bag.  If your bag gets stolen or never makes it on the plane, you can check where the GPS system is and find your bag once again. For example, the Mini Real Time Tracker, shown below, uses a SIM card to send its current coordinates to your phone.

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6. Spare credit card, medicine, and ID. Often travelers are told to keep these items safely in their carry-ons during trips.  While this is sound advice, you should keep a spare of everything you can’t live without in your suitcase. This way if your wallet, purse, or bag get stolen on your trip you can have a backup.

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7.  Spare outfit for the opposite climate you are traveling to.  If you are traveling to Sweden, it is safe to bet you will not be needing shorts and a tank top.  However, the place you are staying may over-compensate for the cold by turning the heat much higher than comfortable.  The same can be said for very warm climates.  Pack just one outfit in-case you are stuck in the opposite temperatures you prepared for.

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8. Pharmaceutical needs. On a trip to Europe, I had a cold and did not take any medicie with me.  I tried to find some Sudafed but could not find anything similar to this common medicine even with the pharmacist’s help.  Drug products vary greatly from country to country and even region to region, so bring anything you may need with you.

Though rarely mentioned in travel blogs (probably due to the taboo nature of the topic) the same can be said about products such as tampons and condoms.  The U.S. has very different health standards than many other countries, so stick with what you know to be safe and pack safe and reliable drugstore products from home.

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Top Ten: London (Top Ten Things to See and Do in London, England)

Top Ten: London (Top Ten Things to See and Do in London, England)

Top Ten London

Copyrights: (Fish and Chips) http://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/2299362200/ (Kensington Gardens) http://www.flickr.com/photos/charliedave/3660292339/ (Churchill’s War Rooms) http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaybergesen/2835567879/

 

1. London Eye – Never turn down a tourist attraction with a great view. The London Eye turns slowly enough that you can appreciate the surroundings and the pods provide protection from the cold and rainy weather no matter what time of year you visit.  Try to hit the Eye early in the day for shorter lines, and consider pre-purchasing your tickets.

2. British Tea – Afternoon tea is one of the most quintessential British activities.  Enjoy tea, scones, and other tasty petit fours at one of London’s many tea parlors.  There is often a champagne option for those who are not tea enthusiasts.

3. Fish and Chips – London is not typically known for its fine cuisine like many other European destinations. There is definitely one dish worth trying though, the classic pub food of fish and chips. Check out the Golden Hind for some great fish and chips, though you will likely find it at most London restaurants.

4. Portabello Road (Notting Hill) – Shop the markets on Portabello Road for anything from new fashions to second hand goods, fruits and vegetables, and less kitschy souvenirs.  An interesting place to wander around and people watch, the market is open Monday – Saturday.

5. Harrods – Incredibly large and always busy, Harrods department store sells just about every upscale good you can imagine.  Definitely worth checking out the lavish displays of goods and clothing around the store. The best part of Harrod’s however, is the food hall.  The hall hosts over 30 different restaurant stands with everything from pub food to upscale cuisine to packaged treats to take home.  I highly recommend the milkshakes from the ice cream shop.

6. Hangout in the Parks – London boasts many beautiful parks throughout the city with walking trails and gardens to explore within each.  For a relaxing break from visiting the tourist sites, hang out in one of the city’s parks.  Grab a snack from a to-go store like Pret A Manger or grab something from one of the park vendors and enjoy a beautiful day.

7. Kensington Roof Gardens – Once the largest rooftop gardens in Europe, Kensington Roof Gardens cover 1.5 acres on the roof of a former department store.  The Gardens include a restaurant and a club and are home to wildlife such as flamingos which wander around the gardens.

8. Pub Crawl – You can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned pub crawl. Grab some friends or make some new ones and visit pubs throughout the city. There are multiple guided pub crawl tours in London, or you can make your own.

9. Watch a Show in the Globe Theatre – Home to Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre plays host to many of his works throughout the year as well as newly written plays.  Choose one of Shakespeare’s classics or watch a new show in the theatre for an experience from back in time.

10. Churchill’s War Rooms – Visit the underground chambers where Winston Churchill and the British Command developed strategies for WW2.  Filled with history and preserved from their time in use, you can see how the commanders lived in the time of war.