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How Not to Fight on Vacation

If You’re Not in the Driver’s Seat, Abdicate Control
I learned this lesson in Italy.  I’m somewhat of a backseat driver when my husband is at the wheel, but when we rented an Alfa Romeo to drive around Tuscany, I was so glad I wasn’t driving (driving in a foreign land is just not my thing) I simply stayed quiet even when things looked a little dubious.  This helped to create harmony on a dream vacation.
Spend a Little Time Apart Every Day
This may seem counterintuitive, yet I have found that it helps.  You and your traveling partner(s) are not usually together 24 hours a day at home, so why should you be on holiday?  Nothing can create tension like never separating even for just a few minutes.
Let the Person Who is the Most Organized Take Care of Most of the Travel Details
Normally the person who is the most organized prefers to take care of details in nearly every situation.    It will save the person who is less organized the opportunity to relax more on holiday (too many details can give me a headache), and everyone is happier.
As In Any Relationship, Compromise!
We hear it all the timecompromise is the key in any relationship; this is especially true of traveling companions.  If you are locked in a disagreement about where to visit, suggest a compromise such as spending a little less time in a particular museum and using the extra time to relax in a café.  
If Your Traveling Companion Doesn’t Want to Participate in an Activity, Go Yourself and Don’t be Angry
This sounds easier than it is, yet choosing not to be angry when your traveling companion does not participate in an activity will only add to your enjoyment.  Do you really want to be angry while visiting The Louvre or The Acropolis?
If You Are Headed toward an Unknown Destination, Get as Clear An Idea as Possible Where You are Going
“John, you said you knew where you were going; we are nowhere near where we need to be!”
“We’ll find it.”
“Why can’t you ever stop and ask for directions?  Why are you so stubborn?”
“Oh give it a rest, Phyllis.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone?  For some reason getting lost encourages fighting the way a fine wine encourages relaxation.
To prevent this from happening, why not ask the concierge for detailed directions, or let the person who is better at reading the map read the map?  When I studied abroad in Germany, we traveled with a great map reader, and when someone complained that the map reader was always the one in charge and thought he was “omnipotent,” our trusty leader abdicated control; chaos ensued and let’s just say that the best map reader became the best map reader again.
If Things Don’t Go as Planned, Have a Plan B or Be Spontaneous
This is one of the most important things people can do on vacation.  Nothing is worse than someone being miserable because things didn’t go as planned and subsequently making other traveling companions miserable.  I have found that to plan both indoor and outdoor activities to match the weather has been very helpful in making things go more smoothly.
If One Person Likes to Go, Go, Go, and Another Likes to Relax, That’s Okay
I have traveled with some who like to be on the go constantly and others who like to take it easy.  I have found that to try and change the nature of the other leads to trouble.  Normally, the person who likes to relax is more than happy to have a nice margarita by the pool while others go out and discover the city.
Let Those Pesky, Recurring Issues Go
Vacations can sometimes amplify any existing issues in a relationship.  I have learned to try and let most issues go while on holiday.  My husband and I had our worst anniversary (the armpit of anniversaries) overseas when I brought up a problem.  How I wish now that I hadn’t!
Remember, a Vacation is an Investment!
My guess is there are more people who have been disappointed on vacation because of arguing than those who have not.  One great thing to remember is that a vacation is an investment—financially, emotionally, and an investment of your time.  Try to get the most out of your time—arguing only cheapens your investment.
Making the Most of Your Investment
Want to make the most out of your travel investment?  Turn to International Vacation Home Exchange.  Their travel consultants can help find the perfect luxury home exchange while you and your traveling companion(s) are out seeing the world.  See how this works.

Photo thank you to Michael Baird

Thanks to travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris – Follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

5 Ways to Live Locally While Traveling Globally

Visiting top tourist attractions are most likely on everyone’s travel itinerary.  We all want to see the sites we’ve read and heard about over the years.  While visiting these sites be sure to make it a well-rounded holiday by spending a little time gaining insight into how the locals of the area live.  Here are a few tips to help you do just that. 
Use Public Transportation
You might find it easier to Uber or book a car service when traveling around an unfamiliar place, but by doing so you miss out on the real flavor of the culture.  Taking the time to learn the local public transportation system is a great way to really immerse yourself in the daily routines of the locals.  Don’t be afraid of getting a bit lost along the way, you can always just get off and get right back on again. 
Learn the Language
You don’t need to necessarily make an investment in Rosetta Stone (unless, of course, you want to) but it’s a great idea to at least learn a few words and phrases in the language of the countries you visit.  It will not only help you get the feel of living locally but it’s also good “travel etiquette” when you’re a guest in another country.  If you are traveling with kids then it’s a great way to expose them to another language.  We always like to have our kids take turns being in charge of learning a few key phrases for the country we are about to visit.  We then will call upon them for a particular phase that’s needed.  It’s a great learning experience for adults, as well, as children. 
Ask the Locals for Suggestions
One of our favorite “side-line” excursions was on a trip to Ireland while driving the Ring of Kerry.  During a quick stop at a gift shop, the owner told us about a little known off shoot of the Ring of Kerry that the tourists don’t know about.  He pulled out a map and showed us how to drive onto the ferry and take this recommended detour.  He also mentioned an ice cream shop on this route that he said was reason enough to make the trip.  So off we went on this mini adventure.  With all the research I do before leaving on holiday I would have never found out about that delightful route without chatting with a local, and yes, the ice cream was amazing!
One of the best ways to truly get the local experience is by booking a home swap, living in local’s home is a great way to experience he local culture.  A popular option is International Vacation Home Exchange.  They offer non simultaneous home swap to their members, which is a convenient booking option. 
Visit the Local Grocery Store
I always love stopping into local grocery stores on holiday.  It’s a great way to experience what’s grown locally or to find out about some of the local cultural favorites.  You can watch other shoppers for what types of items they are purchasing or ask the owner for suggestions.  They are usually more that happy to teach you about their cultural dishes. 

I’d love to hear about a living-like-a-local travel experience you’ve had by leaving a comment in the section below.  Hopefully these tips will help you add a little local flavor to your next holiday experience but remember that to truly fit in with the locals you’ll unfortunately need to leave your selfie stick at home. 

Thank you Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

Travel Tales of Travail – Barcelona Blues

I arrived in Barcelona, Spain full of anticipation.  It was from the airport, to the train, a short distance, and on to the French Catalan Coast.  As often happens with me, I have difficulty sleeping on planes so after an all-night flight, I had no real rest.
I think most of us have arrived at the luggage carousel and have impatiently waited for our baggage to be spewed out of the mouth of whatever contraption it is that spews out the baggage.  We must look so pathetic—watching the luggage carousel go round and round for our “special” delivery which looks almost exactly like everyone else’s “special” delivery.  It is almost as if we are having an identity crisis until our luggage appears, and then when the magic bundle is finally in our hands, it is as if our mind says, “Good—I am myself again.  My sh** that I have packed is reunited with the wonderful me.”
Such were my thoughts in the Barcelona Airport in front of “my” luggage carousel.  The only problem was that it just kept going around and around.  I was getting dizzy, and I noticed a small crowd of others with the same dumb, perplexed looks on their faces.  I’m not sure how long we stood there in front of the carousel until one of us finally spoke to “baggage control.”  The airline employee said that the baggage had been delayed; there was no estimate as to when the baggage was to appear.
After two more hours of no sleep and not brushing my teeth, my baggage appeared!  My sh** that I had packed was reunited the wonderful me, and I was off toward the train bound for France.
I had learned a little French to make my trip go more smoothly and to show respect for the French people.  The problem was, I didn’t bother to brush up on my Spanish.  I had taken a little Spanish in college, but had decided that it was not my language when our Spanish instructor asked us each to describe our sueño (dream).   I proudly declared in Spanish that I wanted to take a nap with Don Johnson.  The classroom was quiet and I guess that they thought, “Who are we to judge her sueño?”  Like someone who is slow to get a joke, about ten minutes after sharing my sueño, I said, “Fiesta! Fiesta! I want to go to a fiesta with Don Johnson, not take a siesta with him!”  The students and instructor burst into laughter.  “We just thought you were honest,” said one of the male students on whom I had a mild crush.  Perhaps it was this semi-traumatic experience which kept me from giving the good people of Barcelona their due by brushing up on their language.
This did not serve me well at the train ticket dispenser.  The sophisticated Barcelonians were not that pleased when I asked for help with the train ticket dispenser without so much as a por favor.  I struggled to figure it out for myself, but to no avail.  Finally, a nice lady who saw all of us (mostly Americans) struggling with the machine, came over and helped us.  I was late, but it was onto the train I went.  As I stumbled over my luggage while getting onto the train, I saw what I thought was a great place to finally sit down and relax.  It was then that a French couple came over and politely reminded me that I was sitting in their seats.  It took a while, but I finally found my seat, and it was on to Banyuls-sur-Mer, France—delayed luggage in tow. 
Want your trip to Barcelona to go more smoothly than mine?  International Vacation Home Exchange can help.  See this luxury exchange home in Barcelona and speak to an IVHE travel consultant.
Join me next time in my Travel Tales of Travail series when I discuss why Deke’s Knee Creaks.

Thanks to well-meaning but accident-prone travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris – You can follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

More Great Travel Books

A good book on vacation is a wonderful pleasure; a good book related to you travel destination is an even greater pleasure this is the second in a series, to read the first click here

Amsterdam – The Diary of Anne Frank
Deservedly famous, The Diary of Anne Frank is a must-read if you have ever, or you are planning on visiting Amsterdam.  Though I read, “The Diary of Anne Frank” when I was just a girl, much of it came flooding back to me in my twenties when I visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.  Because of the depth of the writing of a young girl and the tragic circumstances in which the diary was written, it is somehow surprising to learn that the Frank house is very beautiful, bright and airy.  Strangely, it is evocative of youth and thus the spirit of Anne Frank herself.

Hawaii - Hawaii by James Michener
Considered by some to be a potboiler, Hawaii does indeed contain some melodramatic moments, but this saga by Pulitzer Prize Winner James Michener captivated me both in print and film.  Abner Hale, a devoted and uptight divinity student soon-to-be preacher needs to marry in order to go to Hawaii on a mission to convert the natives to Christianity.  Abner meets the beautiful Jerusha, and soon they are married and on their way to Hawaii.
Outside of the sensitive portrayal of the Hawaiians and their traditions, Michener does a brilliant job of conveying that it is the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law that matters.  At least the film did for me when I was a child.  When I read the book later as an adult, I was struck with how sweeping and ambitious the book was, and I was especially moved by “From the Boundless Deep,” and early chapter in the novel that details the birth of the Hawaiian Islands.

Greece – Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle – Translated by D.P. Chase
Going to enjoy the sunshine and beauty of Greece without tending a bit to your Greek history or philosophy is like going to Paris and not walking down the Champs-Élysées.  When I was in Greece, I found that a taste of Aristotle a day helped to keep luxury hotel snobbery away (although I must admit, one can get used to such things). 
In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle is concerned primarily with “the Chief Good” or “that which all Things aim at.”  The book is a kind of ethical manual for becoming a refined person.  Of special interest to me was Aristotle’s doctrine of “the mean” wherein Aristotle postulates that it is the person who manages a middle way who is most refined and balanced.
Also of special interest to me was Aristotle’s discussion of the meek:
“For the notion represented by the term Meek man is the being imperturbable, and not being led away by passion, but being angry in that manner and at those things, and for that length of time, which Reason may dictate.”
I found the passage above to be the perfect companion to explicating the Christian ideal of “Blessed are the meek . . .”

Want to Travel and Read a Great Book?
Are you looking to visit one of the cities listed above?  International Vacation Home Exchange can help.  See these luxury home exchanges, see how it works and read testimonials.

Looking for more?  Viewthe previous Travel Book blog.  
Thanks to travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris – Follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

Choose a Great Book for Your Travel Destination

A good book on vacation is a wonderful pleasure; a good book related to you travel destination is an even greater pleasure.  Here are some suggested books for some popular vacation spots around the world (this the first of two blogs on great books visit the next blog):

Dublin - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
This sensitive portrayal of a young man, who considers entering the priesthood but ultimately chooses the artistic life, is a page turner in its quiet, but earnest way.  With autobiographical echoes of Joyce’s own life, the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus (so named after the mythical, Daedalus, a skilled artist and craftsman) grows, suffers, and “sins” his way to his ultimate, artistic fate.  Much of the novel is set in Dublin, famous for its various literary figures and other colorful characters.  Some passages of the book are heartbreakingly lyrical, and one can see clearly how Joyce and Dedalus are likely one when Dedalus proclaims at the end of the book, “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”  To many, Joyce is the conscience of Ireland and Dublin.

Istanbul – The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Just as Joyce is to many “the uncreated conscience” of Ireland and Dublin, so Orhan Pamuk is “the uncreated conscience” of Istanbul and Turkey.  Deserving winner of the Nobel Prize, Pamuk sensitively weaves a passionate love story in and out of the teeming and varied streets of Istanbul throughout “The Museum of Innocence.” 
Kemal, though engaged to Sibel, falls in love and longs for Fϋsun, a distant relative.  While pining for Fϋsun, Kemal comforts himself by wandering through Istanbul taking in the sites, smells, political atmosphere and many moods of the city. In addition to his wandering, Kemal begins collecting and pilfering objects related to Fϋsun: 
                As the objects accumulated, so did the manifest intensity of my love.  Sometimes I
Would see them not as mementos of the blissful hours but as the tangible precious
debris of the storm raging in my soul.

Florence - Dante’s Inferno
A raging in the soul of another sort is found in Dante’s Inferno.  The first part of Dante’s, The Divine Comedy, Inferno chronicles Dante’s journey through hell next to his guide and teacher, Virgil.  A wonderful blend of the religious and secular, Inferno details various sins, sinners, and their punishments.  As terrifying as any horror film of current imaginations, Inferno describes such dreadful scenes in hell as two sinners buried in the ground close together with only their heads sticking out; one head chews on the head in front of him.  For some reason, this was especially terrifying to me, and I had to stop reading for a bit; in fact, on my way to Italy, a woman on the plane mentioned that she had tried to get through Inferno several times, and was unable to finish it.
So why should you read it in Florence?  Because not only is it a canonical work, but it also speaks to who Dante was and what was going on in fourteenth-century Florence.  As brilliant as Dante was, he also managed to make some enemies and was later exiled from Florence.  One of the city’s favorite sons today, his portrait hangs in the famous Il Duomo.  Il Duomo itself served as both a religious and secular center of sorts reportedly because of sizable secular funds used to build it.

New York City – By Nightfall - Michael Cunningham
No one portrays sophisticated New Yorkers better than Michael Cunningham.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Hours, Cunningham turns his attention to a modern, New York couple’s marriage and extended family.  Peter and Rebecca Harris have a comfortable life; Peter is an art dealer, and Rebecca, an editor.  They seem to have it all—careers in the arts that pay!  But something haunts Peter; he questions his own authenticity; he questions his marriage, and he ends up questioning his sexuality.  It is like Cunningham to play with the blurred lines of human sexuality—in this sense, he is a very honest writer. 
Rebecca’s younger brother, “Mizzy” comes for a visit.  A college dropout, former drug addict, and free spirit, Mizzy challenges Peter’s belief in himself. In part a commentary on the commodification of art, this novel will not only give you a sense of the complicated New Yorker, but also spotlight the tragedy of modern, “successful,” American living.

Want to Travel and Read a Great Book?
Are you looking to visit one of the cities listed above?  International Vacation Home Exchange can help.  See these luxury home exchanges, see how it works and read testimonials.

Come back in a couple days, we'll have more great travel books to share with you - read it here.  

Thanks to travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris – Follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

Park Guell, Barcelona: What to Know Before Visiting

Easily recognizable by its colorful mosaic architecture, Park Guell is a must-see attraction on any visit to Barcelona.  Its whimsical and playful designs left me feeling as if I had just stepped into the pages of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books.  The park is the work of renowned artist Antoni Gaudi whose work is showcased throughout Barcelona.

The park has a rather unique history.  It was commissioned in 1900 by Eusebi Guell.  He and Antoni Gaudi planned to create a luxury gated community outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.  The plan was to build 60 houses in addition to a large square, markets and other services for the community.  Sadly the idea was not as well received as the pair had hoped and only two of the 60 houses were actually built.  The housing project was abandoned in 1914.  It wasn’t until 1922 that the project was turned into a park which is enjoyed by millions of visitors each year.

Amazing Views
Park Guell is built on Mount Carmel and has some of the most amazing panoramic views of the city.  The views alone are worth the trip to this attraction. 

Very Crowded
No matter what time of year you visit, the park is sure to be crowded.  In an effort to maintain the conservation and maintenance of the park, the entrance is regulated so only a certain amount of visitors are allowed in at a time. 

Book in Advance
It’s recommended that tickets be purchased in advance.  Tickets are available for purchased up to 3 months ahead of time. Visitors can choose the type of tickets and the time slot that best suits their travel needs.

Steep Inclines
Keep in mind that some of the paths are very hilly.  There are sections of the park that have inclines that are actually quite steep so keep that in mind if mobility is an issue or if you plan to visit on a hot summer day. 

Allow at Least a 1/2 Day
Between getting there and taking in all the sights you’ll want to allow at least 1/2 a day to fully enjoy the park. 

Not Centrally Located
Park Guell is on the outskirts of the city away from other city attractions.  It’s a good idea to be aware of this when planning your itinerary but please don’t let that discourage you from visiting this one-of-a-kind attraction.

Visit the beautiful city of Barcelona and book your accommodations through a luxury home exchanges in Spain and around the world with International Vacation Home Exchange .  Find out more about how home exchange works.  Eusebi Guell’s plan for luxury homes may have fallen through but IVHE has a variety of luxury properties to choose from not only in Barcelona but around the world. 

Thank you to travel writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

A Day Trip to Torun, Poland

I had an opportunity to spend a few weeks just outside Torun, Poland in a tiny town called Kutno.  If you’ve never heard of Kutno then that wouldn’t surprise me.  There are only two reasons people are familiar with Kutno:  1) you have ancestors from there or 2) your son has competed in the European and African Little League Championship.  The second is what brought us there. 

Other than being home to the baseball championship games, not much else goes on in Kutno. So when we had a game-free day we decided to explore the surrounding areas and take a short drive to the neighboring town of Torun.  We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of this little known European city.  We found the town to be a refreshing change from the tourist driven cities around the world.  Torun has one of the quaintest European town squares.  We had great time exploring on foot and grabbing some lunch in one of the outdoor cafes.

Torun is one of the oldest most historic cities in Poland.  The city is well known for its stunning medieval architecture.  It is one of the few Polish cities to escape major damage during World War II.  It is also birthplace to the polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.  A monument of the famous astronomer stands just outside town square and there is a lot of town pride for their well-known former resident. 

At the heart of Old Town is the magnificent Old Town Hall.  It’s one of the few gothic structures that is not a church.  We climbed the narrow stairway of the tower to enjoy some breathtakingly charming views of the city and captured some beautiful photos. 

Walk just a few minutes outside of center square and you’ll find Torun’s version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  We discovered that composer Frederick Chopin has ties to the city as well.  The family of one of his good friends was connected to the city so Chopin spent quite a bit of time there.  Places where he frequently stayed honor him with a plaque. 

One of the best reasons to book a home exchange for your next holiday is that it allows you to escape the tourist scene and experience your travels like a local.  Whatever part of the world you’re planning on exploring International Vacation Home Exchange is sure to have a luxury property nearby.  Search properties near your next travel destination.   If your travel happens to include watching boys play baseball in Little League games then best wishes on the team making it to Williamsport and yes, IVHE does have properties in Pennsylvania.  

Thank you travel writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

Take a Trip Down a Famous Canal: Panama

A few months ago, I started working as a writer for a construction firm in the United States. I am one of this people who get super excited when I go to Home Depot, so a job with a construction company was the perfect fit! I know somewhere, my dad is super proud. Hopefully this makes up for that time I almost sawed off his finger while helping him build a bird house. Granted I was like 9 at the time. And it was an accident. But my now 34-year-old self still feels bad.

Right now, I am totally geeking out over a massive construction project that is wrapping up in Panama. And this isn’t just any ordinary expansion project; this is one of the largest expansion projects in the world! The Panama Canal expansion project, dubbed Third Set of Locks Project, is intended to double the capacity of the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is a man-made, 48-mile waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The waterway cuts through the country of Panama and features a series of lifts that helps ships to pass through the canal. The Panama Canal has been instrumental in the trade industry for more than a century.

The nine-year, $5.4 billion expansion project doubles the canal’s cargo capacity. A third lane has been added so that more and larger cargo ships can pass through. The project is expected to be complete this summer. If you are interested in learning more about the expansion project, click here.

The two main ports for the Panama Canal are located near the cities of Cristóbal and Panama City. Both cities are in the country of Panama. There are daily tours of the Panama Canal available to tourists. You can even experience the canal first hand from a boat, or you can get a bird’s eye view from the Panama Canal Museum.

Now aside from seeing one of the greatest feats the engineering world has ever seen, there’s a number of reasons why you should visit Panama Canal. There are also a few International Vacation Home Exchange vacation home properties in the country. So your lodging is covered.

1)      Panama City. The city is both a vibrant metropolis and a historic wonder. It is also a regional hub of trade and immigration. As a result, the city has become a melting pot of cultures from both the east and the west. The skyline glows with glass and steel towers. Panama City is also the gateway to both sandy beaches and lush rainforests.
2)      Historical wonders. Here’s a fun fact, Panama was once under water. Now, the country bridges North and South America. For more than a century, nearly a third of the world’s gold passed through Panama. You can see the ruins of forks that were attacked by pirates. 
3)      Easily Accessible. Most major airlines will fly to Panama from cities such as Madrid, Miami, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
4)      Indigenous tribes. There are about a half dozen indigenous tribes living in Panama. You may have seen documentaries on these tribes on the Discovery Channel.

If you are looking for a way to relax during your trip, you can also do a little bird watching. Panama is home to nearly 1,000 bird species. You may even catch a glimpse of these species during a hike through a tropical forest. Because, why not; you are in Panama!

Thank you to guest travel writer Carla Pruitt. You can follow Carla on Twitter at @crobscarla

I’d Love to Travel But….

There’s no doubt that traveling comes with its share of hassles and inconveniences making it easy for some to come up with a long list of excuses as to why they don’t.  As tempting as it is to stay in your comfort zone, nothing new or exciting ever happens there.   Here are a few of the most common excuses people give as to why they don’t travel.  Hopefully, I’m able to debunk a few and encouraged everyone to add a little adventure to their lives. 

“I can’t afford to travel”  Yes, travel can be expensive but with a little creativity there are many ways to fit it into your budget.  

Sign up for a credit card that earns you travel points  There are a tons of  credit card companies out there offering points toward travel expenses that can save you hundreds of dollars. 

Book a home exchange: Book a home swap with a company like International Vacation Home Exchange and save thousands on your accommodation expenses.  You’ll also save money by cooking at home instead of eating out. 

Start a Vacation Fund:  Be cautious of where you are spending your money.  Each time you decide against           making an unnecessary purchase put that money in a special fund towards your     vacation.  You’ll be surprised how fast that fund adds up and how many useless items you often spend your money on. 

“I hate to fly”
While flying can sometimes be a frustrating and unpleasant experience, it’s quite often the only option to get to your from Point A to Point B.  It’s best to just embrace it.  To be honest, I love to fly.   When else do you have several uninterrupted hours where you don’t feel like you should be doing something more productive?  It’s forced “down-time”.  Make the most of it. 

Read a Good Book Flying is probably the most uninterrupted time you can have. 

Watch a Movie                 Research movies that are out and find one you’ve been dying to see then save it for your flight.  You’ll be at your destination before you know it. 

Take a Nap Take advantage of time to take a guilt free nap.  You’ll arrive at your destination completely refreshed

“We have a beach house so we don’t need to go anywhere else”
Having a vacation home is nice way to spend vacation time and create family memories but it can easily get you into a travel rut.  Consider using your vacation home to arrange a home swap through IVHE.  Home swap is a great way to broaden your travel horizons and visit a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  IVHE has luxury homes all around the world. 

“It’s a dangerous time to travel”
While recent incidences around the world may cause you to have some apprehension regarding travel, it’s important to keep in mind that if we waited until there was nothing disturbing going on in the world and it was completely safe to travel then no one would ever travel anywhere.  They’ll always be something to worry about somewhere in the world so don’t let current events prevent you from planning a trip. 

Put an end to the travel excuses and start living your travel dreams today.  Hopefully, in no time at all you’ll be using “I’m too busy traveling” as your new excuse. 

Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

4 Things I Love Most About The Netherlands

We once spent an unforgettable Bank Holiday weekend touring The Netherlands.  Even though the weather did not cooperate on this trip, it still stands out as one of my most memorable holidays.  It poured the kind of “sideways” rain that requires you to ditch your umbrella in the bin and purchase a new one every block or so.  We were fortunate enough to get a few breaks from the downpours and even enjoyed a few quick appearances from the sun.  The fact that The Netherlands still remains one of my all time favorite holidays just goes to show how many amazing sites this country has to offer its tourists.  Here are a few of my favorite attractions. 

Keukenhof is often referred to as the Garden of Europe as it is one of the world’s largest flower gardens.  Its stunning displays showcase a variety of flowers and you’ll see tulips in every imaginable color as far as the eye can see.  Tulips have always been my favorite flower.  I’d take a bouquet of tulips over roses any day which is something considering I was born on Valentine’s Day.  The park covers 79 acres and is located southwest of Amsterdam in a town called Lisse.  The gardens are located on what was once a hunting ground dating back to the 15th century.  You can tour the gardens from mid-March to mid-May but the best time to view the tulips is in the middle of April. 

The Anne Frank Museum is located on a canal in central Amsterdam and is one of the most memorable and moving museums to visit in the world.  During World War II, Anne Frank hid from the Nazis with her family and 4 others in the hidden rooms in the back of this canal house.  It was known as the Secret Annex.  Though Anne Frank did not survive the Holocaust her story did through her well known diary, published in 1947.  The Museum has preserved the hiding place in this 17th century building.  Visitors can tour the exhibition and learn more about the life of Anne Frank. 

Royal Delft
Delft pottery is easily recognizable by its beautiful blue hand painted designs.  On a visit to Royal Delft you can witness artists still delicately hand painting each piece by this centuries old tradition.  Royal Delft is located in the town of Delft and is the last remaining earthenware factory from the 17th century.  Be sure to stop by the gift shop to purchase a hand painted piece of pottery made just steps away in the factory.  My Delft pottery piece is one of my favorite souvenirs that I’ve collected over the years. 

Canal Tours
No trip to The Netherlands is complete without a canal tour through one of the world’s most amazing cities, Amsterdam.  There are many variations of canal tours to choose from offering wine and cheese, burgers and beer, champaign or just your regular sightseeing tour.  Whichever tour you choose you will experience beautiful views of the waterfronts as you glide through this majestic city. 

The Netherlands is just one of the 70 countries in which International Vacation Home Exchange offers properties. View this Amsterdam apartment in city center or view this exclusive vacation home located in one of the most picturesque locations in The Netherlands.  Add a home swap in The Netherlands to your bucket list and know that rain or shine you’ll have holiday memories to last a lifetime. 

Thank you travel writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

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