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What to Expect on the Roads in India

Before going to India I had heard the traffic was bad, but I really didn’t know what to expect until I got there. The roads in India were WAY more challenging to navigate than I ever imagined! Not only did they drive on the other side of the road (read more about that here), but the lanes were crowded like I had never seen. We decided driving wasn’t really in the cards for us, so we hired a driver from Castle and King

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Typically, I recommend getting a rental car as an easy way to get around, but this is an exception. Use the following options to get around:

Get around town

  • Tuk-tuk
  • Taxi
  • Pedi-cabs

Get from city to city

  • Hire a driver
  • Trains

I could continue by describing all of the things I saw on the roads in India, but I think photos will tell the story better. The featured image shows a three-lane road being used as way more than three lanes.Here are some of the noteworthy things we saw on the roads in India! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Riding a pedicab in the middle of New Delhi.
Yak pulling a cart in the middle of New Delhi.
Cart on the freeway.
Riding a motorcycle to school.
Overflowing truck on the freeway.
City street in New Delhi.
Woman walking on the side of the road.
Holding on tight on the freeway!
Mules carrying bags of sand in Haridwar.

Anna’s Pick of the Week

When you begin researching India, you will likely come across the term “golden triangle”. This term refers to three major cities tourists visit: Agra (home of the Taj Mahal), Jaipur, and New Delhi. This amazing 4-day tour takes you to all three of these cities so you don’t have to worry about driving at all! You can check out this tour here!

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Disneyland and California Adventure – Often Missed Things to Do

When many people think of Disneyland, they think of rides, meeting characters, fireworks, and parades. There is actually so much more to do, and I don’t mean eat and shop! Attractions await all across the park that you may not know exist! Some of these lesser-known experiences are my favorite things in the park!

Disneyland

  • Tiki Room
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • Storytelling at Royal Theatre
  • Bippity Boppity Boutique
  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Street Shows

California Adventure

  • Animation Academy
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Beast’s Library
  • Hyperion Theatre

Disneyland

*

Tiki Room

This show is more well known than most of the other items on this list, but I felt the need to mention it as many new Disney-goers skip it. This classic, animatronic show has been around since 1963 and embodies the fun and magic Disney is all about. I personally love this show and it makes me feel like a kid again! The song “Tiki Room” is arguably the second-most iconic song in the park (next to It’s a Small World), so be prepared to get it stuck in your head! You can find the Tiki Room at the entrance to Adventureland, right next to the Dole Whip stand. 

Tarzan’s Treehouse

Another Adventureland classic is Tarzan’s Treehouse. Previously called the “Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse”, this walk-through attraction was re-themed to “Tarzan’s Treehouse” in 1999. Many people notice this attraction at the entrance of Indiana Jones Adventure, but walk right by. There is never a line and it only takes a few minutes to walk through, so why not check it out? If you’re a fan of Tarzan, you will recognize the scenes set up around the treehouse. Kids will especially love the interactive elements at the end of the treehouse! I used to love that area myself, and as I’ve gotten older I love seeing how much fun kids have there. 

Storytelling at Royal Theatre

The Royal Theatre hosts comedic retellings of various Disney Princess Stories. Even though my family has gone to Disneyland regularly my whole life, we only recently stopped to watch a show under this big, colorful tent. We thought it was going to be a small, silly show, and it was, but we really enjoyed it! If you have kids, they can sit up front and play along with the actors during the show. The 20-ish minute shows change occasionally, but you can typically count on performances of Beauty and the Beast and Tangled being performed throughout the day. You can find showtime for the day outside of the tent, which is located to the left of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. 

 Bippity Boppity Boutique

The Bippity Boppity Boutique is a fun place for kids to be transformed into a princess or knight! When I was a kid, I did this myself and loved it! You can select from a variety of packages, all described here. In summary, their cheapest package for princesses is $75 which includes hairstyling, shimmering makeup, princess sash and cinch bag, face gems, and nail polish. The most expensive package for princesses is $450 which includes everything mentioned before plus a high-quality tiara and box, a signature Disney princess gown, and a garment bag with a satin hanger. There are options in-between these two as well. For a knight makeover there are only two options: $20 for hair gel, a sword, and a shield, or $80 for this plus a knight costume. This experience can get expensive, but it created great memories for myself and my family and I know if can for you too!

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Walt Disney admired Abraham Lincoln, so in his honor Walt created Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The animatronic Lincoln is extremely lifelike, especially considering it was created in 1964! This short show goes over Lincoln’s life and his accomplishments from Lincoln “himself”. My mom is a huge fan of Lincoln herself, so we make sure and visit every time we go to the park. If you are not a history buff, the lobby is still worth visiting. The scale-models of Disneyland and other Disney history artifacts are super interesting to me!

Main Street Cinema

This is another attraction people often walk right by. When you are walking down Main Street facing Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, you can find the Main Street Cinema on your right. Walk right in and you will find yourself surrounded by classing Mickey Mouse cartoons. Personally, this cinema makes me appreciate where Walt started and how far his dream has come. Stay as long as you like, and leave when you are ready.

Street Shows

Throughout the day you may run into random performances around Disneyland! Two noteworthy ones in Disneyland are the Dapper Dans and The Bootstrappers. On Main Street, you can find a crowd surrounding the barbershop quartet called the Dapper Dans. They walk around Main Street singing classic Disney songs and posing for pictures. Outside of Pirates of the Carribean you can find The Bootstrappers – a pirate group singing about classic pirate tales. As you might expect, they sing “A Pirate’s Life for Me” quite frequently! Both of these groups pop in and out of the park randomly, so if you see them, make sure to stop and listen!

California Adventure

Animation Academy

This is one of several great attractions in the often overlooked Disney Animation Building. The lobby of this building is full of Disney movie magic, and each attraction inside is just as special! When you walk in the Animation Building, turn left and you will quickly see the Animation Academy. Inside you are given paper and a pencil, and follow along as a Disney animator shows you how to draw a classic Disney character! The classes occur every half hour and a different character is drawn in every show! The characters being drawn change every day, so ask the cast member at the queue for a list of that day’s characters. Typically, you can get in line right before a show starts and find a seat, no problem. However, if you are drawing someone super popular, you may want to get in line 20-30 minutes before that show starts. During my visit, Baby Groot was a popular character to draw so we got in line early to ensure we had a spot.

Turtle Talk with Crush

The Disney Animation Building is home to our next great attraction: Turtle Talk with Crush. This show is fun for the whole family! Enter the “human tank” where you and your kids can get a chance to talk to this beloved sea turtle. This interactive show is a lot of fun, even if you are not chosen to ask Crush a question! Last time I went to Turtle Talk, Crush gave my sister a nickname that stuck for the rest of our trip!

Beast’s Library

This room in the Disney Animation Building has been described as a “hidden gem” of the park. Walk all the way through Sorcerer’s Workshop and step into the Beast’s Library where you can open a magic book to find out which Disney character is most like you! This experience is a lot of fun for the whole family! If you stay in the library long enough, you’ll see some Disney magic take over the room. My family never goes to California Adventure without stopping by the Beast’s Library, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Hyperion Theatre

This theatre is located in Hollywood Land, right next to Guardians of The Galaxy: Mission Breakout. 45-minute broadway-style musicals are performed here a few times a day. From 2003 to 2016 Aladdin was performed here, but it has been replaced with Frozen. If you want to experience this theatre yourself, make sure to pick the time you want to go and arrive early. Showtimes vary by day, so pick up a schedule on your way into the park. 

Which of these often-skipped attractions is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you are going to San Juan, you can’t miss El Morro. It’s the historical building that started the whole city! I had not heard of this icon before my trip, but by the time I left it was a key reference point when I was trying to find my way around town. Going to El Morro also helped me appreciate the history of this amazing city. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

What is El Morro?

Castillo San Felipe del Morro (nicknamed El Morro) is a fort used to protect Puerto Rico during several wars. The construction started in 1539 and it was officially completed in 1787. It has been attacked by the English, Dutch, and was used as a base for the U.S. navy. There is a neighboring base called Castillo San Cristóbal that has also been involved in battles. When you visit, you will learn a lot more about the history of El Morro. 

What to Expect on Your Visit

The cost to visit is $7 for adults and free for anyone 15 and younger. Tickets from El Morro will get you into Castillo San Felipe del Morro as well. Both forts are open from 9:00am to 6:00pm. As El Morro is on the edge of the island, it can get quite windy so dress accordingly. 

Of course you will want to explore the entire fort and all it’s intricacies. However, you will want to start by watching the informational video about the location before you begin. Of course you always have the option to visit the gift shop as well. Read to the end to find out one surprising hidden gem you really can’t miss!

Movie Room

There is not an official name for this room, so I am just calling it the “movie room”. This is a great place to start your visit as the movie gives an overview of the history of the fort. I always appreciate where I am more when I know the history behind it, and that may apply to you too. If you’re traveling with kids, I think a little history lesson is always a good idea when you can fit it in! After you watch the movie, explore the fort!

Gift Shop

Can you really visit a monument and not go to the gift shop? Maybe other people can, but I always take a look. I like to have a little memento of wherever I go, whether it be a keychain or a magnet. You’re only there once, so why not look?

Bathroom

Ok, this can seem weird, but trust me. I don’t know about the men’s bathroom, but the women’s bathroom has an amazing little balcony on the side of the cliff (pictured above). I’ve really never seen anything like it before! It’s a beautiful spot, and something you really can’t leave without seeing!

Have you been to El Morro? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Anna’s Pick of the Week

Everyone need a lightweight little travel bag! Zaful had a great one you can check out! Small and waterproof, this is the perfect thing for your island adventure! Learn more about it here!

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What To Do at the Australia Zoo (Steve Erwin Zoo)

Statue of Steve Erwin and his family at the Australia Zoo.

Steve Erwin was known around the world for his caring nature and love for animals. His legacy lives on today through his family and the zoo they continue to run. I loved visiting the Australia Zoo, especially because I know the animals there were saved or rescued. If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking it out. I saw so many animals I had never seen before! There are also plenty of things to do! Here’s everything you need to know before heading to the Steve Erwin Zoo:

  • Where is it?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What animals can you see?
  • What else is there to do?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Where Is the Australia Zoo?

The Australia Zoo is located at 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah QLD 4519, Australia. Since the zoo is in Beerwah, that is naturally a good place to stay if you want to be close. If you are wanting to stay on the water, Caloundra and Currimundi are nearby costal towns you may want to consider staying at. Use the map below to check out hotels near Australia Zool!

How Much Does It Cost?

A basic ticket costs $60 for an adult, $35 for a child age 3-24, or $47 for a student. There are also family bundles: $172 for two adults and two kids, or $189 for two adults and three kids. There are also added bonuses if you want to do the hospital sneak peek, an animal encounter, or any of the other experiences mentioned below. This zoo is so large you may need two days to see it all, so there are two-day passes available on their website as well. Check out all of the ticket prices and purchase your tickets here!

What Animals Can You See?

The Australia Zoo is home to over 100 different kids of animals! My favorites where the animals that come to mind when I think of Australia – kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, and of course, crocodiles! It was fun to see animals I had never heard of, such as the echidna, and animals I had heard of but had never seen, such as the Tasmanian devil. Although seeing these animals was amazing, the coolest experience was doing an animal encounter! Read more about my animal encounter experience in my other post: Steve Erwin Zoo – Animal Encounters! To see the updated list of all the animals in the zoo, visit their website here.

What Else Is There To Do?

Animal Encounters

Although this experience is not cheap at around $99 per person, it is an amazing experience! Getting to hug a koala or feed lemurs is sure to be a highlight of your trip! When people ask me what I did on my trip to Australia, I always mention meeting lemurs, koalas, and kangaroos at the Australia Zoo! I’m going to write a whole post about these experiences. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!

Wildlife Hospital Tour

If you are interested in learning more about animals and how the zoo takes care of them, this tour may be right for you! Go behind the scenes to see what work is being done at the zoo. This tour is affordable at $19 per adult and $9 per child, and the profits go directly to the wildlife hospital. You will want to book this experience early as there are only two tours a day (2:30pm and 3:30pm) and only eight people are allowed on each tour. Learn more about this tour here!

Segway Back of House Tour

Nobody in my family had never ridden Segway before, so we thought this was the perfect place to do it! They are actually pretty easy to get the hang of, and a lot of fun! Going on this tour gave me a greater understanding of how large this zoo really is, and I got to learn more about how the keepers take care of the animals. Riding the Segway path also gave us a great view of the rhinos and a closer look at the meerkat exhibit. I would definitely recommend this tour – especially if you have never ridden a Segway before! This 45 minute ride costs $60 per person. Book your Segway tour here!

Hire a Caddie Tour

My family did not personally go on this tour as we like to explore on our own, but if you prefer going on guided tours this may be for you! On this tour, a group of 2-4 is escorted through the zoo by a knowledgeable tour guide. These $499 tours last 5 hours, so there is room before and after the tour to explore on your own. The total time of the tour includes the time spent watching shows and going on animal encounters, so you may want to book those before or after the tour to make the most of your time. If you want to book a caddie tour, visit their site here.

Platinum Zoo Adventure

Platinum Zoo Adventure tours last the entire day: 8am – 5pm. The price is not listed online, so you will need to contact the zoo here to find out pricing and booking information. Typically when you need to contact someone to get the price, it’s going to be expensive. You do get a lot in this package, so I can see why it would cost more. A group of up to four people get a VIP tour of the wildlife hospital, 6 animal encounters, morning and afternoon tea, lunch, and more! It really is the VIP experience! You will need to book these tours far ahead of time, so contact the zoo now if this tour is right for you!

I have personally been on the Segway tour and went on an animal encounter. Have you done any of the other tours? Let me know in the comments!

Anna’s Pick of the Week

When I travel, I know I’m going to take a lot of pictures while also being very active. This means I want to be comfortable while still looking stylish! Old Navy has the best of both worlds which is why I love them for both travel and my daily duties as a teacher. Check out their site using this link!

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Tips for Driving on the Other Side of the Road

Getting a rental car is easy enough, and it makes getting around simple. That is, if the place you’re visiting drives on the same side of the road you are used to. I experienced this myself when my family went to Australia – the first day was filled with close calls and nervous laughter! I want you to feel confident (or at least comfortable) driving on the other side of the road, so I compiled tips we used – and should have used – on our trip. 

  • Turn signal placement. 
  • Staying in the middle of the road
  • Can you turn on a red light? 
  • Which is the “fast lane”?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Turn Signal Placement

Turn signals, blinkers, indicators – whatever word you use for these, you know they’re important. They can be especially important if you are driving on the other side of the road as it lets others know to watch out for you! In the US (where I live), blinkers are on the left side of the steering wheel. This seems to be common in most cars that have the driver on the left side of the road, but be sure to double-check before you start driving. 

In cars where the driver is on the right side of the car, the blinker is typically on the right side as well. This is not always the case, so double check your car. We were not expecting this difference when we got our rental car in Australia and didn’t think to look. When it came time to turn, we repeatedly turned on our windshield wipers instead of our blinkers! It took a little time to get used to. One thing you won’t have to worry about is pedal placement. Every car I have ever been in has the clutch (if applicable) on the left, then the brake, and the gas on the right. 

car riding on highway through autumn forest
Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

Staying in the Middle of the Road

This may seem simple, but it’s actually kind of difficult when you are used to seeing the road differently. In my case, I kept wanting to get myself on the left side of the lane, which put my passenger in the next lane over! I had to think back to driver’s ed to come up with this helpful tip to keep myself in one lane. When writing these descriptions, I am referring to the lines of the lane you are trying to stay in. 

If your diver is on the left side of the car: 

Keep the left line in the bottom left corner of your windshield. 

If your driver is on the right side of the car:

Keep the right line in the bottom right corner of your windshield. 

That’s it! This one trick made a HUGE difference in my driving, and in my comfort level on the road. If you want to test it out, pay attention to the corner of your windshield while you drive around. You will probably find the line of your lane hits that corner!

light city road traffic
Photo by Alexander Abero on Pexels.com

Can You Turn on a Red Light?

Here in the USA, many states allow you to turn right on a red light as long as there is nobody coming. This is a very convenient law in my opinion, but it is not common. Canada and the USA are two of the only countries in the world that allow you to turn on a red light, and even these countries have some exceptions. There are certain areas where this is not allowed, notably New York and Montréal. If you are used to turning on red, pay attention and try to remember to stop. If you are visiting the USA or Canada are not used to turning on red, be prepared to get honked at!

Which Lane is the “Fast Lane”?

In the USA, most traffic is supposed to stay on the right side of the road and the left side is the passing land (also referred to as the fast lane). As you might expect, countries who drive on the other side of the road have this same rule – but reversed. Most traffic should stay on the left side of the read and the right side is the passing lane. This is a pretty simple change when you think about it, but when you are driving habits tend to take over and you might get confused. When in doubt, stay away from oncoming traffic. This will keep you in the “slow lane”. 

I hope you learned something from this post and feel more confident about driving on the other side of the road! Now that you have the tips, you need to car! Check out my transportation guide to get you started!

Anna’s Pick of the Week

When going to a new place, I almost always get lost! Using the GPS on my phone is the easiest way to get back on the right track. I take this phone holder on my travels so I can see my directions while keeping my hands on the wheel. It’s so small, why wouldn’t I throw it in my bag?

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Places to Eat in Bucerías, Mexico

fruit parfait plate

Bucerías is my favorite place in Mexico! It’s a small town outside of Puerto Vallarta with a lot of character. Having gone so many times growing up, I know the best places to eat for every occasion! Below are some memorable places to eat in and around Bucerías:

  • Mariscos El Gordo (on the beach)
  • Red Apple
  • Tortas Korita/Tacos del Rin
  • Ice Cream shop
  • Tony’s Treehouse (as an out-of-town bonus)

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Mariscos El Gordo (on the beach)

This is my favorite place in town to eat dinner. At Mariscos El Gordo (nicknamed El Gordo’s), you can enjoy dinner with your feet in the sand while you watch the sunset. I remember as a kid building a sandcastle next to our table while we waited for our food. Not only does El Gordo’s provide a great dining experience, but the food is also amazing! Their menu is full of authentic Mexican dishes as well as some American classics, so everyone is sure to find something they like. You don’t need a reservation, and being in a small town the wait is never too long. It’s located at the main town square. I always make sure to add El Gordo’s to my Vacation Brainstorm!

Red Apple

This rooftop restaurant is the breakfast spot in Bucerías, Mexico! They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my family typically goes for breakfast. To get there from the town square, walk East on Av Mexico and cross the “Kissing Bridge”. Walk another block after the bridge and you will find a sign with an upside-down apple on your left. That’s the spot! You will have to go in the doorway and straight up the stairs to get to the restaurant. The people there are so nice, and the food is great. It’s a bit of a walk from where my family typically stays (at Corita Hotel and Suites), but it’s worth it!

Tortas Korita/Tacos del Rin

This street cart with plastic tables can easily be overlooked, but really shouldn’t be! This place has the BEST tacos I have ever eaten, and the price really can’t be beat! If you want to try something a bit adventurous, you can even try beef head tacos. Have you ever heard that if locals eat somewhere, you know it’s good? That fits this place perfectly. 

Lime Ice Cream

Ice Cream

You can easily find this ice cream shop in the town square. If you try to look up this shop on Google, it will simply show up as “Ice Cream”. It doesn’t look like much, but this ice cream shop is the perfect thing on a hot day! I love fruity, refreshing flavors when it’s hot, so I always get their lime ice cream – the best lime ice cream ever! I have tried to find something similar elsewhere, but I have never been able to find anything close!

Out-of-Town Bonus

If you want to head out of town a bit further, check out Tony’s Hideaway in Mismaloya (renamed “La Choza”). This restaurant is unique because of its location – in a treehouse! We take busses to get there, but you can also get a taxi or drive a rental car if you have one. They have amazing seafood, but I always look forward to dessert. Their banana flambe is presented as a little show which adds some fun to the dessert!

If you are planning a trip to Bucerías, Mexico, you definitely need to add these spots to your Vacation Brainstorm!

Anna’s Pick of the Week

I carry around a simple bag like this one on every trip I take. I feel secure knowing everything I need is right by my side, and it’s so small I hardly notice it is there! This small bag also makes me limit what I want to carry around which saves my back and shoulders from the weight of some larger bags.

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Three Kings Day – Puerto Rico

Three Kings Day statue in Puerto Rico

While most countries end holiday festivities after the new year, Puerto Rico keeps on celebrating! Three Kings Day is celebrated in several countries around the world from December 25th to January 6th. I had never heard of this holiday until I visited Puerto Rico in early January, and I really enjoyed it!

What is Three King’s Day?

Three Kings Day celebrates the three kings (also known as wise men) visited baby Jesus (1). If you have heard of the “12 days of Christmas”, this meeting is what the 12 days refers to. Three Kings Day, January 6th, is 12 days after the birth of Jesus is celebrated. This holiday is also known as Epiphany, or in Spanish, Dia De Los Tres Reyes (Day of The Three Kings).

How Is Three King’s Day Celebrated?

There are a couple unique traditions for this holiday: kings cake and “grass” shoeboxes.

Image via McCormick

Kings Cake

Like many holidays, food is an important part of Three Kings Day. Kings cake is now typically associated with Marti Gras in New Orleans, but it wasn’t always that way. The cake can come in many shapes and sizes, but it is typically circular with a hole in the middle, much like a donut. Various small objects have historically been baked into the cake, but today you will typically find a plastic baby inside as a reminder of the cake’s origin (2).

“Grass” Shoeboxes

You are likely familiar with leaving a plate of cookies for Santa, but have you heard of leaving a shoebox of grass for Three Kings Day? These two traditions are very similar. The night before Three Kings Day, children fill shoeboxes with grass or hay and leave them under their beds. As the story goes, the three kings ride their camels around town leaving gifts for the kids. Camels eat the grass, and the presents are left in its place (3).

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Everglade Airboat Tour – What to Expect – Florida

Riding an everglade airboat is a popular activity for visitors traveling to Florida. My family of seven recently got a chance to experience this ride for ourselves, and we were not disappointed! Now I want to help others understand what to expect if they choose to go on an airboat tour. In this post, you will find out:

  • How much does a tour cost?
  • What will I see on the tour?
  • What should I bring on the tour?
  • Should I worry about motion sickness?
  • Is it worth the money?

How Much Does A Tour Cost?

Everglades Swamp Tours and many other everglade airboat tour companies offer two types of tours – group or private. If you want the boat just for your group and don’t mind paying a bit more, a private tour is the way to go. This is what my family chose to do because there were seven of us, so we just about took up a whole boat anyway. The cheaper option is going on a group tour, which means other families and tourists may be on the boat with you. Unless you are traveling with a large group, the cheaper tour may be your best option. After all, meeting fellow travelers is part of the adventure! Below are the different lengths of tours available at Everglades Swamp Tours and their costs:

  • 1 hour group tour – $50 per adult and $25 per child (age 6-12)
  • 1 hour private tour – $200 for 2 people and $50 for each additional person
  • 1.5 hour private tour – $275 for 2 people and $50 for each additional person
  • 2 hour private tour – $375 for 2 people and $50 for each additional person

What Will I See On The Tour?

When we took this tour we saw a lot of sawgrass and water, as well as some amazing creatures! The Everglades are mostly covered in sawgrass with sections that have been cleared out either naturally or by boat tours. I anticipated we would stay along the cleared out paths, but that was not the case! Our driver went off the beaten path straight into sections of sawgrass! Every boat driver we saw out there did the same thing. Riding through sawgrass was actually my favorite part!

Of course, the most amazing parts were when we saw gators in their natural habitat. In a cleared out area our driver stopped the boat as he saw a gator approaching. It swam over toward us and went alongside the boat, almost as if he was greeting us! It was AMAZING, and I know these boat drivers do their best to give everyone a similar experience. We saw plenty of wildlife on the tour, and even got to see mother gators protecting their nests. I would encourage anyone visiting Florida to take an everglade airboat ride!

What Should I Bring On The Tour?

There is not a cover on the boat, so don’t forget your sunscreen! I would not count on a hat covering your face as it would fly off during the ride. In fact, the driver recommends everyone wearing a baseball cap turns it around so the bill is in the back. I didn’t notice a bug problem as we were going fast most of the time, but if you are worried about it then wearing bug spray is a good idea. Wearing sunglasses is also recommended. If you have those few things, you should be good to go! The driver provides water and earplugs which is very convenient, as well as a gator head for photo ops!

Should I Worry About Motion Sickness?

My family has several people who get motion sickness easily. If we are planning on anything from long car rides to theme parks to boats, we make sure to have motion sickness pills. This is one boat where none of us needed it! The ride is surprisingly smooth, and none of us felt remotely sick the entire time. If you are still a bit nervous about getting sick, I always recommend Bonine. It’s what I use every time I know I could get motion sickness, and it has never made me drowsy.

Is It Worth The Money?

Yes! This everglade airboat tour was DEFINITELY the highlight of my family’s trip! I would highly recommend it to anyone. Our tour guide was funny and informative having grown up in the area. Everglades Swamp Tours is also great about rescheduling, especially for bad weather. There was a thunderstorm the day of our initial booking which made it unsafe to go out. The company changed our booking for us at no extra cost! That being said, I would plan on doing this earlier in the trip rather than later in case something like this happens to you.

Anna’s Pick of the Week

The Florida sun can be brutal, especially on an everglade airboat with no roof. Several of my family members (including myself) were unprepared. This is why I recommend you prepare for the sun with a sun-protecting shirt. These kinds of shirts are lightweight so you won’t get too hot, but they do a great job of protecting you from the sun!

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Christmas Gifts on Every Traveler’s List!

As a world traveler myself, I know a thing or two about what travelers REALLY want. Some of these Christmas gifts are so handy that I never go on vacation without them! Whether you are shopping for an adventurer, beach bum, or park hopper, you will find the perfect gift here!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Wallet/Phone Holder/Passport Holder

What are three things you need when you travel? Phone, wallet, and passport (if you’re looking to travel abroad). When you’re going through the airport, you need these things hand at ALL TIMES. Why not have one place for all of them? This compact wristlet is perfect! It’s unisex design make it great for everyone, but as a family travel enthusiast it has a special feature I REALLY love. There are 4 passport pouches on the inside, and room for more on the outside! Keeping track of passports can be stressful, especially if you are traveling with kids. Gain some peace of mind by knowing EXACTLY where they are at all times!

2. Memory Foam Neck Pillow

Sleeping on planes, trains, and automobiles can be tricky, but if you’re traveling far it is necessary. Most neck pillows don’t provide me with enough support and I end up with a sore neck. This neck pillow, however, is a game changer! The extra support at the top of the pillow means you don’t have to kink your neck into a funny shape to find a comfortable position. I have also struggled with neck pillows adjusting and wrapping all the way around my neck by the time I wake up. The clasp on the front of this pillow not only makes it easier to pack around, but it secures the pillow so you can sleep comfortably and with little movement. Now that I have one, I won’t step on a plane without it!

3. Herschel Backpack

If you haven’t hear do Herschel before, they are known for making durable, comfortable backpacks. This one is no exception. Specifically designed for travel, this backpack is the perfect Christmas gift for any traveler! The luggage sleeve on the back makes it easy to slide onto your suitcase without worrying about it falling off. It’s also compact enough to fit under any airline seat yet has enough storage for all your on-flight entertainment. At your destination, this backpack is a great size to carry around on your adventures!

4. Luggage Strap

When you’re running through the airport, carrying all of your luggage without it falling everywhere can be challenging. If you don’t have a bag with a luggage sleeve, this bungee cord is a great alternative! Small and easy to pack, this luggage bungee is perfect for any bag! I can’t even tell you how many times I have tried hanging bags on the bar of my luggage and they flop around everywhere. This bungee was a game changer for me, and I’m sure it will be for anyone on your shopping list!

5. Packing Cubes

I have written about packing cubes previously, but I love them so much I had to add them to this list as well! I use these packing cubes every time I travel, and I really can’t imagine packing without them ever again! You can use them to organize clothes by category: shirts, pants, dresses, pajamas, swimsuits, etc. It makes staying organized SO much easier, especially if you change hotels during your trip.

6. Travel Journal

Travel journals are great for documenting details of a trip you really don’t want to forget. Even after an amazing day, I find myself stuck and unsure of what to write when I go to journal. Not only is this journal travel-sized and great quality, but it also provides prompts so you know exactly what to write about every day!

7. Hanging Toiletry Bag

Another great item everyone needs is a hanging toiletry bag. Most people have a bag for toiletries which works fine, but unpacking and packing the bag and creates a mess all over the counter and can get annoying. The hanging toiletry bag lets you keep the counter clean while allowing you to easily see all of your items. This is another gift I can never go without!

8. Portable Luggage Scale

You get to the airport and get ready to check your bags. The fist one goes on the scale and it happens. It’s over the weight limit. Every traveler has been here. Opening up suitcases, switching clothes, holding up the line. It’s embarrassing and SUPER annoying! I always try to weigh my bag ahead of time to avoid this situation, but many hotels don’t have scales. This portable luggage scale is the BEST solution to this common problem! It’s small and easy to pack, which makes it great for anyone planning to check bags. I can’t explain how many times this has saved me from check-in chaos!

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Valparaíso Elevators (Funiculars) – Chile

Valparaíso is a beach town about an hour and half drive from Santiago, the capital of Chile. This town if filled with hills which is why funiculars, or hillside elevators, were put in place. If you plan on going to Valparaiso, you NEED to take a ride in a funicular. Take in a unique piece of Chilean history while getting where you need to go!

History of Funiculars

26 of Valparaíso’s hillside elevators were built between 1883 and 1932, and the 27th was completed in 1983. Of these 27 unique elevators, only 11 are still operating. Many of these are protected historical monuments.

Which Ones are Operational?

Below is a list of the funiculars you can ride during your visit to Valparaíso! (Note: “cerro” is Spanish for “hill”).

Funiculars in Valparaíso
FunicularLocation
ArtilleríaCerro Artillería
BarónCerro Lecheros
ConcepciónCerro Concepción
CordilleraCerro Cordillera
El PeralCerro Alegre
Espíritu SantoAldunate 1566, Valparaíso, Chile
Hospital Carlos van BurenCorner of Av. Colon and Hontaneda
PolancoCerro Polanco
Reina VictoriaCerro Alegre
San AgustinCerro Cordillera
VillaneloVillanelo 402, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Chile
Information via Wikipedia

What to Expect from the Ride

Riding a funicular is inexpensive and something you will never forget! The most you should expect to pay is 200 Chilean Pesos, which is about $0.25 US. Because of the low cost you are typically required to pay with cash. Make sure you go to an ATM before trying to ride! While riding the funicular, be sure to look out the windows! Traveling up a hill means you get to see some amazing views of Valparaíso!

Anna’s Pick of the Week

You’re going to need coins and cash to ride the funiculars, so you’re also going to need something to carry them in. While cash fits fine in my typical wallet, I don’t like how fat and lumpy it gets when I carry coins. My solution: carry a coin purse! It’s a simple solution and the bag fits in any backpack and most purses. Sometimes, old school methods are still the best!

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