Presently March 2021

Presently March 2021

With Spring officially onboard as of March 1st, it comes with a gentle spirit, warming up slowly with longer days and brighter skies. The flowers come, one by one with uplifting confidence. While snowdrops and crocuses carpet the ground, there is none so pretty that rises from the earth, standing up bright and commands the playfulness in nature than the narcissus.

March birth flower

March and we see the budding buds of the daffodils come to bloom, embodying Spring like none other. Affectionately known as March’s birth flower, the cheerful yellow daffodils represent rebirth and new beginnings as it is the first to bloom after the winter frost. Though these beautiful spring buds also come in white and orange, it is the yellow hues that brings much brightness and cheer to the gardens and parks.

Widely cultivated in Holland and in Britain, the daffodils has its origins in the Mediterranean where it was grown by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Known as Narcissus in Latin, the flower was named after a character in Greek mythology, the son of the river god who was celebrated for his beauty. It has been said that he loved himself too much and his arrogance led him to his own death where he fell into the river and drowned while staring at his own reflection. The flowers growing along the river were named after him. For this reason, daffodils are sometimes known to symbolise vanity.

In England, daffodils are also referred to as ‘Lent Lillies’ or ‘Lenten Lillies’. The term is adopted from a poem written by A.E. Housman because they typically bloom between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

Beyond representing rebirth, new beginnings and as a symbol of vanity, the March flower hold different meanings to different cultures as well. For the Chinese, the daffodils represent good luck and prosperity as they bloom around Chinese New Year. In Wales, daffodils are the national flower, representing faithfulness as it reblooms year after year. The cancer care society, Marie Curie uses daffodil as its symbol to represent hope for a cure. Above all, the daffodils are said to symbolise unequalled love, so giving this cheerful, bright flowers to someone would symbolise deep love that cannot be imitated.

What else about March in UK

March Equinox

presently march 2021 sunrise stonehenge
Sunrise over Stonehenge, Salisbury, England

While according to the meteorological calendar, spring will always start on March 1 and end on May 31, the astronomical calendar marks the first day of spring on March 20, the spring equinox. The spring equinox is also known as March equinox or vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. With the Northern Hemisphere welcoming spring, the Southern Hemisphere welcomes autumn.

Each year, Spring Equinox is celebrated at Stonehenge by the Druids and Pagans. They gather very early in the morning to see the sunrise above the stones. This moment is special because day and night are of equal length all over the world, hence the word “equinox” which means equal night.

The Spring Equinox celebration 2021 is cancelled as England is under a lockdown at the moment.

If you wish to visit Stonehenge, English Heritage will re-open its doors on April 12. Tickets are available to book. You could also take up an annual membership for £48.00 and have unlimited access to Stonehenge as well as to over 400 historic properties for great days out.

Read > Stonehenge – A sophisticated architecture which includes a complete guide on how to get to this remarkable wonder

UK – Notable dates and events in March

St Piran’s Day – March 5

St Piran’s Day is the national day of Cornwall, the southern most corner of mainland UK. St Piran is an Irish saint that came to Cornwall and discovered tin.

Legend has it that he sailed to Cornwall on a millstone that was actually tied around his neck when he was cast into the Atlantic sea by people who were jealous of his work miracles. He was thrown off the cliff but as he reached the sea, the sun came out and he was seen seated on the millstone, floating on the waters which took him safely across to Cornwall. He landed between Newquay and Perranporth at Perran Beach which bears his name. St Piran built himself a small chapel in Penhale sands. His first disciples? > a badger, a fox and a bear.

International Women’s Day > March 8

“This year’s International Women’s Day is a rallying cry for Generation Equality, to act for an equal future for all. The Generation Equality Forum, the most important convening for gender equality investment and actions, kicks off in Mexico City from 29 – 31 March, and culminates in Paris in June 2021. It will draw leaders, visionaries, and activists from around the world, safely on a virtual platform, to push for transformative and lasting change for generations to come” > UNWomen

Mother’s Day 2021 in UK is on March 14

presently march 2021

Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers, motherhood, and maternal bonds. It is celebrated on various days across the world but in the UK it typically falls on the third Sunday before Easter. In 2021, Mothering Sunday in UK falls on March 14.

Simnel Sunday – March 14

presently march 2021 simnel easter cake
Easter Simnel Cake | Image: Supergolden Bakes

Usually the third Sunday before Easter and it coincides with Mothering Sunday. On this day, Simnel cake is eaten. Simnel cake has its origins in medieval times and is a light fruitcake, similar to the one eaten at Christmas but this one is specially reserved for Lent. This cake comes with two layers of marzipan, one in the middle and the other on top. The cake is then topped with eleven marzipan balls to represent the eleven apostles of Christ (less one – Judas).

St Patrick’s Day 2021 – Wednesday 17 > Patron Saint of Ireland

presently march 2021
Irish coffee, St Patrick’s Day | Image: Pixabay

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 each year. It is a celebration of Irish culture and religious holiday with events of parades, dances, music and special food celebrated globally by the Irish community. It commemorates the death of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

The story of St Patrick’s Day

Celebrated for over a century, the legend has it that Saint Patrick, born in Roman Britain was captured at the age of sixteen and enslaved in Ireland in the 4th century. He managed to escape, and later returning to Ireland, bringing Christianity to the Irish and converting a large number of the Irish people from paganism to Christianity. Following the death of Saint Patrick, the day has become an important part of Irish culture and not just for its Christian roots.

In London, St Patrick’s Day is one of the largest celebration and is a pinnacle event in London’s cultural calendar. In 2021, the celebration of St Patrick’s Day is a digital event – an evening of culture, conversation and community fun. It’s a free event and takes place between 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm. For more information, head over to London Events.

Lady Day > March 25

Lady Day or the Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Mary takes place on March 25 each year. The feast day commemorates when Virgin Mary was told by Angel Gabriel that she was to conceive Jesus. This day remained special and in 1155, March 25 was marked as the beginning of the New Year in England. To the Tudors, the holiday was called “Lady Day”. Lady Day was exactly nine months before December 25, the birth of Christ.

Lady Day was also the first of the four quarterly dates in English calendar. In order, these quarterly dates were, Lady Day on March 25, Midsummer Day on June 24, Michaelmas Day on September 29 and Christmas Day on December 25. On these dates, school terms would begin, servants would return to work and rents were due.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Lady Day was the start of the New Year in Tudor times. and as a result, the dates on the brass memorial of Thomas Boleyn which gives the date of his death as March 12 1538 is actually March 12 1539 because we take the year as starting from January 1.

The ‘new’ style calendar which begins on January 1 was changed in 1752.

Palm Sunday > March 28

Palm Sunday is a special day for Christians. It is the Sunday before Easter and marks the beginning of the Holy Week, remembering Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem and the waving of palm branches.

Oranges and Lemons > March 31

presently march 2021

It is said that once upon a time when the River Thames in London was much wider than it is now, it allowed the swift flow of barges carrying oranges and lemons to dock just below the churchyard of St Clements Dane. On the last day in March, school children would gather at the church and recite a famous nursery rhyme while playing the tune on hand bells. At the end of the service, the children were presented with an orange and a lemon. The famous nursery rhyme begins > “Oranges and lemons; Say the bells of St Clement’s” You can read all about this nursery rhyme here.

Other stories, sayings and lores about March

> The word ‘March’ is said to originate from the Roman word ‘Martius’ which was the first month of the Roman calendar, named after Mars, the god of war.

> The Anglo-Saxons referred to March as Hlyd monath which meant Stormy month.

>The traditional games played throughout March are skipping and marbles. The games were stopped at twelve noon on Good Friday.

>The last three days of March borrowed from April:

” March said to April,

I see 3 hoggs (hoggets, sheep) upon a hill;

And if you’ll lend me dayes 3

I’ll find a way to make them dee (die).

The first o’ them wus wind and weet,

The second o’ them wus snaw and sleet,

The third o’ them wus sic a freeze

It froze the birds’ nebs (noses) to the trees.

When the 3 days were past and gane

The 3 silly hoggs came hirpling (limping) hame.”

>There are many weather lores about March and here are just three:

“When March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb”

“A dry March and a wet May, fill barns and bays with corn and hay”

“March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”

> Popular Anniversaries in March

March 3 – Alexander Bell was born in 1847 – inventor of telephone.

March 15 – ‘Ides of March’ in the Roman calendar where the day on which the month was divided into two equal parts.

March 22 – English football league was formed in 1888

March 25 – Heathrow Airport opened in 1948

March 29th – Coca-cola was introduced in 1886

March 31 – Eiffel Tower in Paris was officially opened in 1889

With March well underway, I’d like to share with you a little of what went on in February since my last monthly column.

What went on in February…

I began the month with plans to write on past travels to Morocco, Dubai and Italy, but I realised that sometimes, the universe may set a different course for you. So, I set aside my plans for writing and focused on what came my way. One of the changes was the change of domain name from ‘my timeless footsteps’ to ‘timeless travel steps.’ Along with this change, comes also updates and edits to implement which is time consuming to say the least. I am ploughing through patiently.

In my February column, I mentioned that I remain hopeful that travel will be possible by autumn. Today, as I write this column, I continue to remain hopeful as more of us in the UK are receiving our vaccinations. I look forward to travelling even within our borders if not abroad by the end of the year.

February was also a month where a number of articles were published as ‘Easy Sunday Read’, continuing on with the History of Britain:

> Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen’s House in the Tower;

> Anne Boleyn The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens;

>The Boleyn Family | Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death;

>Interesting books on the Boleyns | Recommended;

>The magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood home;

I hope to continue with Easy Sunday Read articles throughout the month of March.

Impressive Value for Money Travel Offers

With hopes of getting the pandemic under control, the travel sector has started to promote holidays again. Here are some of the latest offers for you to consider:

Jet2 Holidays

Jet2’s offer comes with a £100 off on all holidays for Summer 2022. If you are ready to travel next year, take advantage of the early savings offers and book yourself a summer you deserve by navigating the banner below. Note that the savings apply only to package holidays and not when you book flights and/or accommodation separately.

Besides, Jet2 Holidays, I am absolutely excited about the incredible savings offered by Sandals along with their extended booking period – up to 2023.

Sandals

Sandals, as you may know, are the world’s leading all-inclusive holiday company with 15 resorts across the Caribbean. Their ideal holiday packages include romantic holidays, honeymoons and wedding destinations. Please navigate via the banner below to learn more.

Feeling…

I feel blessed as every day is a new day, a new beginning to endless opportunities and days of hope for better things to come. While March is a special month for me as it is my birthday month, it had also proved to be a little challenging on the health front but I am glad that all is well now. I look forward to sharing more travel stories and travel offers in the coming weeks.

That’s my roundup of news in Presently March 2021 at Timeless Travel Steps. What has presently been going on with you?

Georgina xx

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presently march 2021
presently march 2021
line breaker

March comes with a gentle spirit, warming up slowly with longer days and brighter skies. The flowers come, one by one with uplifting confidence but none so pretty that rises from the earth, standing up bright and commands the playfulness in nature than the narcissus. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/March comes with a gentle spirit, warming up slowly with longer days and brighter skies. The flowers come, one by one with uplifting confidence but none so pretty that rises from the earth, standing up bright and commands the playfulness in nature than the narcissus. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently February 2021

Presently February 2021

February 2021 has come around too quickly, I think. As I reflect over the month of January, not a lot had happened. In fact, not a lot had happened in the last eleven months since we began adjusting to a new way of life. Yet, a lot has happened as well…vaccines are being rolled out and people are being vaccinated. There is Hope. Lockdown…it is what it is. I am an optimistic person so I’d say that it has not been too bad. Yes, I miss travel. The excitement of planning and packing for an adventure that awaits is indescribable. As well, I miss the outdoors immensely but time has afforded me opportunities to catch up on activities that I would not otherwise do, and in that respect, January has been a good month.

What went on in January…

Following a slow Christmas and New Year as we were still under lockdown, I ‘cruised’ into January :), catching up on television series. I had been wanting to watch the TV series, ‘A Discovery of Witches’ and was able to do this in January. I enjoyed it so much, I watched both seasons back-to-back. Vampires, witches, time-travel and Elizabethan England – what else can I ask for, right! The handsome Matthew Goode as Matthew Clairmont plays a scientist vampire and Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop is a historian and a reluctant witch. They time travel in search of the ‘Book of Life’ – a fantasy television series based on the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

February 2021
A fantasy television series based on All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

If you prefer to read the trilogy, these come into stock at Amazon UK on 8 February 2021. For USA Readers, you can purchase the boxed set from Amazon using this link

Download the complete set on Kindle Store

If you are into fantasy, you might like it also. I look forward to the third season.

As well, watching television also meant watching events unfold on January 6 at the Capitol. It was like watching a movie, unbelievable and sadly it was reality of what happened. Every so often I shake my head, wondering of this great nation and the future of this world. There were also many moments of hope. The eve of the inauguration was a beautiful dedication to those lost to the pandemic. I tuned in to the inauguration and watched the whole process. I was moved with the great reminder of ‘This land is your land’ by Jennifer Lopez but the one who stole the show is Amanda Gorman and her touching poetry, ‘The hill we climb’ Then, there was the swearing in of the 46th President of USA, Joseph R Biden and he placed his hand on a 127 year old Bible – what a remarkable history and ancestry. There is Hope.

Much time was spent on reading and downtime on social media. As anyone who knows me well will also know that besides travel, food, and red wine, I love history. I love the complexities of the past and the intriguing tales that draws me in. It makes me seek further and sometimes question the truthfulness of events, for some are truly beyond comprehension! How could any-one do such a thing? I had been reading on the many sources available now on the enduring queen Anne Boleyn whose voice now speaks after half a millennial. I was much saddened to read about some of the ‘forgotten royal prisoners’ in British history along with the rise and fall of one of the most powerful families in British aristocracies. The history of Britain during the Tudors, the Elizabethan and the Victorian era are truly remarkable, and of course it all began a thousand years ago with William the Conqueror and the Tower of London.

My original article on Tower of London was published in September 2019 as part of my retracing my footsteps series but reading about the history of Britain during the Tudor era inspired me to write more on and about the Tower. There is much to share with all of you on certain aspects of history that relates to the Tower. There were five articles published in January – The Bloody Tower on Sir Walter Raleigh and the missing princes as well as a great selection of books and Kindle download to support readers who wish to delve deeper into the mysteries that surrounds the missing princes at the Bloody Tower. Some selections can be downloaded for free on Audible. I also wrote on the Magnificent Crown Jewels at the Tower, bringing you beautiful pictures of the most treasure Jewels of the British Monarch on display and the history behind them-an easy read to inspire you to visit the Tower, if you haven’t already. I followed up with two more articles. One on the Beauchamp Tower, a place for high ranking prisoners in a building nestled away across the green from the main buildings of the Tower of London. In here you will find graffiti left behind by some of the prisoners so they will not be forgotten. At the end of January, I simply had to share a little background to Bonfire Night that is widely celebrated on 5 November. Sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as, if not more as I had enjoyed writing them.

What to expect in February

In February, stay tuned for more on what went on behind the fortress during the Tudor era as well as articles on my previous travels to Morocco, Dubai, Italy and Scotland which I hope, time allows me to write. I intend to continue reading on British history and will share with you in future articles.

I remain hopeful – more so now than in December that travel will be possible and at some point soon, perhaps as early as Autumn, we will take to the skies again albeit adhering to precautions in place.

I have published a page on remarkable places to stay around the globe, a comprehensive page bringing you choices on hotels in cities around the globe – I am still updating the list on each city and hope to bring more on this in March column.

Impressive Value for Money Travel Offers from our Trusted Partners

I am delighted to bring you the latest travel offers from our Trusted Partners:

Sandals

I am absolutely thrilled to bring you Sandals – Sandals are the world’s leading all-inclusive holiday company, offering luxury Caribbean holidays for couples. With 15 resorts across the Caribbean, Sandals provide the ideal holiday packages for romantic holidays, honeymoons and even wedding destinations. All holidays are ABTA (Y6413) and ATOL (11174 protected.).

What’s more? Incredible savings and bookings up to December 2023! Here’s the T & C’s, which is the latest at time of writing:

Savings of up to 45% off apply to the accommodation portion of the holiday. Save up to £700 on selected resorts, room categories and durations, book by 28 February ‘21. All savings are valid for travel up to 4 December 2023. Prices are based on 2 people sharing a room, flying from London (unless otherwise stated) and include Sandals airport transfers, tips and taxes” – Sandals


Jet2Holidays

Another incredible offer for the wanderlusters who can’t wait to travel but not yet ready to do so this year. Jet2Holidays offer comes with incredible savings and bookings for Summer 2022. Learn more about Jet2Holidays and what makes them unique here. Book your holidays early and take advantage of the savings by navigating the banner below. Note that the savings apply only to package holidays and not when you book flights and/or accommodation separately.


EasyJet Holidays

EasyJet holidays are one of the best in Europe and they run seasonal offers on their package holidays. Please note T & C’s – the savings applies to package holidays only – not flights and/or accommodations booked separately.

Learn more about EasyJet and their 5 Protection Promise here.


On the Beach

Book a vacation with a low deposit of just £30 for a summer vacation, including a pre-trip cancellation cover along with their Covid-19 promise. Learn more about On the Beach holidays here. Find out more and book your vacation by navigating through the banner below:


Feeling

There’s a part of me that is really excited over the ray of hope on taking to the skies again by fall but I am also too afraid to plan ahead for it. In the absence of travelling abroad, I have taken to exploring local – my travel to Scotland was beautiful and there’s much to see still. I am likely to return to the land of the magical myths as soon as travel becomes normal again within our borders.

If you haven’t yet…

I was in a super mood to write in January and here are the links if you had missed them:


I hope to bring you more on the history of Britain as an Easy Sunday Read, travel offers on Tuesday News and Thursday Travel Inspiration – subject to time permitting.

That’s my roundup of news in our first monthly column, Presently February 2021 at mytimelessfootsteps. What has presently been going on with you?

Georgina xx

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presently February 2021

Travel Checklist-25 Top Tips for a Stress-free Vacation

Travel Checklist-25 Top Tips for a Stress-free Vacation

Travel checklist is an absolute “must” for me! In my last blog post, 5 Reasons Why Travel Planning is Important, I wrote about how planning helps you to consider your budget, think about priorities, allocate time for attractions and the “must see”. I know how important it is to plan the “must see” attractions before hand because of my own experience in Amsterdam.

My weekend break in Amsterdam was the one time where no travel checklist was used. Although it turned out to be an amazing weekend,  and you can read about Amsterdam in a Nutshell – 18 experiences in 48 hours here, I missed out on one of the most important tourist sights – Anne Frank’s House. Tickets for Anne Frank’s House sold out weeks before I arrived and I was on the waiting list for the limited tickets released each morning. I was disappointed but it did not overshadow the rest of my experiences. Amsterdam is a place I can return to as it is only a little over 4-hours journey on the Eurostar and I will embed Anne Frank’s House into my itinerary.

The importance of a travel checklist

A travel checklist is important because it embodies all the necessary steps that needs to be taken before your vacation to ensure you have a stress-free time. The last thing you need is a bad experience because you have forgotten to obtain the appropriate visa, or you left your passports or you ran out of cash!

In 5 Reason why travel planning is important, I had mentioned that I like “lists”! My travel planning consists of a pretravel, travel and post-travel checklists. So, in this post, I shall share with you what considerations goes into my pretravel checklist. Some of my suggestions may be obvious but I like to include them so that I do not miss it – which is the whole point of having a plan, or a checklist, right? There may be some that I have missed which you may think of. You can add it to the list, and you may want to write and let me know too, so I could update mine.

You can use this Travel Checklist in all situations, scenarios, whether you are family, couple or solo travellers and adapt it to suit. The checklist is useful for overseas travel. Please remember that these are suggestions only and not absolute.

So, here goes…

Travel Checklist – 25 Top Tips for a stress-free vacation

1 | Travel checklist helps to determine a budget & a buffer

Travel involves money and this is a sensitive subject. However, it is an important one. It is best to decide at the outset how much a vacation will cost, put thoughts to paper and see the numbers. Once you have the figures, you can then shop for best deals on airlines, accommodation and an itinerary of activities.

Numbers on paper and shopping for best deals may give you a good idea of your travel budget. However, from my experiences, a vacation sometimes had taken me beyond my budget. This had mainly been due to unexpected expenses and additional costs to what was budgeted for. There were occasions when I added an additional  sightseeing trip to my itinerary, a theatre show or treat ourselves to a lovely dinner in a local cultural setting which we did not previously think of. Sometimes, it can be the costs of transportation from one place to another. For all of these additional expenses, I embed a buffer in my budget.

A budget buffer is the extra cash you set aside for the unexpected expenses whilst on holiday. I suggest a buffer of 30% of total travel expenses minus the cost of flights to be ideal. These are funds which you should have immediate access to if need be. Of course, if you can afford more, all the better 😊

2 | Determine an emergency fund

An emergency fund is not to be confused with a budget buffer. The emergency fund is solely set aside for unforeseen dilemmas beyond your control when you are travelling. It is difficult to come up with a figure here because every situation is different and calls for personal judgement. However, as a guide I would suggest 30% of total travel expenses plus cost of flights. I include the cost of flights because I need a cushion if situations were such that I may need to get out of the country, or get alternate flights due to strike actions etc.

3 | Destination

Decide on your travel destination, whether it is a City break, an adventure in the mountains or sandy beaches and blue skies. It is also important to decide if travel involves one destination or multiple destinations. The place and type of holiday is important as it directly correlates with your budget.

This is also a perfect opportunity to think of your activities and how your itinerary is going to be.

As a guide, I have to come to use Get Your Guide who are competitively priced and one of the trusted sources offering thousands of sightseeing tours, attractions and transfers in destinations worldwide. You can also find theatre and show tickets and city passes to suit.

Click on the link below and find out what you can do on your vacation. If you cannot find what you are looking for, don’t give up. Get in touch with me via Contact Form and we can figure something out.

4 | Duration

It is important to decide on the duration of your vacation because this will dictate how much of the destination you are able to see, how much money you will be needing, what it will cost for the sightseeing trips which you may want to include in your vacation and how many meals you will need to pay for etc.

5 | Book your flights/trains

Look-out for early birds offer or worldwide sale by airlines. Usually early January/April or May will fetch you a good price.

Utilise comparative sites such as Skyscanner for flights. Sometimes, you can get a good deal directly with some airlines.

6 | Travel checklist helps to consider mode of getting around when at destination

Think about transportation and the system. Will you be using the local transport, or will you be walking most of the time? Familiarise yourself with the system and check reviews to see what tourists have to say about your chosen destination.

7 | Accommodation

Consider the following when deciding on accommodations:

  7.1 | When travelling with kids, look for family-friendly sites.

  • Often, you can find adjoining rooms or large rooms where you can have a baby-cot or an additional bed. You can also have twin-beds at no extra cost.
  • Search also on what kids-club activities are available on-site. Sometimes these activities club are included in your stay but most times it is not. I have used them liberally when my kids were young to break the day so they can have time with other kids of their age. This also meant that I can have a bit of me-time while they were having fun in a safe environment.
  • You can look-up recommended best family hotels in the world 2019 by CNTraveller here.

CNTraveller https://www.cntraveller.com/gallery/best-family-hotels-world

  • You can look-up the 10 best family resorts in UK 2020 by TripAdvisor here.

TripAdvisor www.tripadvisor.co.uk/‎

Where would you stay

  7.2 | Complimentary shuttle service.

Investigate if the hotel offers complimentary shuttle service from the airport to the hotel and/or other sightseeing sights. Places like Orlando comes to mind. We also had a shuttle service when we were in Niagara Falls, from the hotel to the restaurant. It is worth checking.

  7.3 | Pet-friendly

With a boom in pet ownership and if you are one of them, you may want to travel with your fur-babies. If you do, you may want to check for pet-friendly accommodations. Click on the links below to find out more on the best pet-friendly accommodations, offered by skycop and CNN Travel.

  • Skycop

https://www.skycop.com/travel/7-most-pet-friendly-hotels-in-the-world

  • CNN Travel

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/pet-friendly-hotels/index.html

  7.4 | Is breakfast included? Plus, what cuisines are on the menu?

Always go for breakfast included! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when I am travelling, I always make sure I have a good and a healthy start. This is a good habit to get into because your day may be filled with activities and you may only have time for a sandwich or a bag of crisps before your next meal in the evening.

Most hotels offer a great selection for breakfast – lots of fruits in addition to continental breakfast. Some hotels may offer more, for example their local breakfast in addition to continental or English breakfast.

I would have a quick browse through their menu, just to be aware of the choices, pricing and whether it meets any dietary requirements I may have.

8 | Type of accommodation

The type of accommodation you choose must meet your needs. Starting early on your search, say before the peak season, will give you greater choices both in the types of accommodation and its prices. Early search helps in securing better deals. Sometimes, it is a challenge to find a property that is 100% suited and to have a certain degree of comfort that you want. As for me, I need that little luxury when I travel. I am quite relentless at what I want, so I persevere to get the closest to suit. I use various search engines to compare availability and prices but over the years, I have come to rely on booking dot com.

booking.com is a travel search engine for accommodations, that offers you a choice of hotels, homes and apartments and B&B’s in 120,000 destinations worldwide – instant confirmation and no cancellation fees. With such a vast choice, I am certain you will find accommodation to suit your needs, whether you are a solo traveller, couples or family. There is something to suit every budget. You could do a search below and discover what comes up.

Booking.com

9 | Safety

For the most part, the world is a safe place to be. We cannot control everything, no matter how well planned we are because things do happen, and these are sometimes out of our control. At this stage of pretravel plans, I suggest that you check whether the country you are travelling to is safe in relation to its political climate. No-one wants to be caught out!

There are several websites and travel blogs that provide comprehensive travel safety advise which you can check. Below you will find two links, one from the US Bureau of Consular Affairs and the other from UK Government offering most up-to-date travel advise. There is information on which countries are safe to travel to, what to do in situations if you are caught-out and how to stay safe.

You may want to check these when making travel plans.

  • The US Bureau of Consular Affairs click the link below.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html

  • The UK Government click the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

10 | Immigration

Travel Checklist - Passports/visa - know before you go!
Travel Checklist – Know before you go!

Ensure:

  • Valid passports with at least 6 months left to expiration.
  • Visa requirements – if travelling to multiple countries, obtaining a valid visa to each of the country before you travel.
  • If you are travelling to the USA, you will need ESTA

ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorisation

ESTA is a mandatory travel authorisation which you need if you are visiting the US either by Sea or Air for under 90 days. Your visit can be for either tourism, business or just visiting friends and family. Most importantly to be aware is that you need ESTA even if you are in transit.  Most travellers are caught out by this because we assume that travelling VIA may not require an entry authorisation, but we do!

Travel Checklist - Ensure you meet the immigration requirements of your destination country
Ensure you meet the immigration requirements of your destination country

ESTA is available only for travellers whose nationality is derived from countries covered under the Visa Waiver Program.

You can read more on ESTA by clicking the link below.

ESTA

Failure to obtain an ESTA can lead to denial of entry at the border and a large fine. You are advised to apply as soon as possible.

I have a personal experience in this respect where I was not allowed to board my flight in Tokyo bound for US, which is a whole blog post itself.

However, in other instances, I obtained my ESTA within 72 hours, but apply as soon as you know of your travel plans and don’t leave it till the last minute.

*Have a look at the country’s respective immigration website for information

11 | Vaccinations

Depending on the countries you are travelling to; you may require vaccinations against:

  • Cholera
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Polio

Please check your country’s National Health website for more information.

12 | Travel insurance

Ensure you are fully covered for the duration of your journey including      valuables and equipment. Check whether your home insurance covers your equipment such as your camera.

Travel Checklist - Ensure adequate travel insurance
Travel Checklist – Ensure adequate travel insurance

When considering travel insurance, you will also want to consider whether it is flexible – meaning, whether you can make a claim while you are travelling and the speed at which a claim can be resolved – you will want to be paid as soon as possible!

13 | Inform bank/credit card companies

You need to inform the bank and the credit card company that you are travelling abroad and the country you are travelling to.

Travel Checklist - Inform your credit card company that you are travelling abroad.
Inform your credit card companies that you are travelling abroad.

This is to ensure that the use of your card abroad is not viewed as suspicious. If viewed as suspicious, there is the possibility that your card will be blocked. You will not be able to use it until the ‘block’ is lifted which can only happen when you get in touch with the Fraud Team of the respective financial institutions. You would not want this stress, I am sure. So, inform your bank/credit card company. It only takes a phone call.

Additionally, you may wish to consider using a cash card, top up as and when you need to. Especially so if you are travelling to remote places and you do not want to risk losing cash or your credit cards. Losing your credit cards runs the risk of it being misused by the thieves.

14 | Foreign currencies

Foreign currencies – it is always good to carry some local currency in cash with you. Keep a look-out on the exchange rates and buy them at a rate when it is favourable to you, even if this means a couple of months before the actual travel date.

Travel Checklist - Buy your currency when it is favourable to you
Travel Checklist – Buy your currency when it is favourable to you

It is advised not to use your bank card to withdraw cash at a foreign ATM because you will incur charges for the transactions. In some countries such as China, major credit cards may not be accepted. Only local credit cards are accepted. Best to check before you go.

15 | What to pack?

I am not the best person to advise on what to pack!

Travel Checklist - Pack half the clothes and take twice the money!
Travel Checklist – Pack half the clothes and take twice the money!

I shall share with you the following famous quote of Susan Heller which has helped me of late. I say, of late because I was the sort who would take a suitcase for a weekend getaway instead of a hand luggage – why, because I prepare for various weather conditions, different shoes etc. I am better now, much, much better 😊.

These are the wise words of Susan Heller:

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money”

16 | Enable mobile roaming

I don’t think this is applicable very much these days and would depend on your carrier and the price plan you have. However, just to be certain, ensure mobile roaming is enabled so that you will be able to use your mobile phone when abroad.

Something you may want to consider when you are travelling for a longer period and unfamiliar countries is to rent a portable mobile wifi device. I found this to be incredibly useful during my stay in Japan

17 | Cancel regular deliveries

This is something that can be easily overlooked – regular deliveries! For example, regular fresh milk delivery. Also, these days, regular grocery orders from local large grocery stores such as Asda/Walmart are more popular. Be sure to cancel these.

18 | Mail delivery

Depending on how long you are away, and if you are away for several weeks, you may want to consider diverting your mail to a P.O. Box. This is helpful to ensure all your mail is in one place, safe and secure and not clogging up your letter box.

19 | Security of your home

Security of your home while you are away on vacation is paramount. You do not want to return to a home that has been ransacked or burgled. A reliable security system in place will give you peace of mind. Alternatively, consider arranging for a trusted person to look into your house every so often while you are away.

20 | Emergency contacts at destination

Ensure you have the phone numbers of your embassy in the country that you are travelling to. You will need this in the event of emergencies

21 | Emergency contacts at home

Ensure you have the contact details of family or friends at home whom you can contact in the event of an emergency.

22 | Hand-luggage restrictions

Hand luggage is the bag you carry through security and keep with you all through your journey. So, please carry only the minimum and what you absolutely need.

Ensure you are fully aware of your hand luggage restrictions.

  • Only One piece of hand luggage. Most airlines allow passengers to carry a handbag too. It is best to check with your airline to make sure.
  • The hand luggage must not exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm.
  • Your hand luggage must not contain any prohibited items, and these are listed below:

Prohibited items:

  • Flammable liquids and solids
  • Oxidisers such as bleaching powders
  • Organic peroxides
  • Tear gas devices or any gas cylinders
  • Infectious substances such as live virus materials
  • Wet-cell car batteries
  • Magnetrons
  • Instruments containing mercury – however, thermometers with mercury are permitted in hold luggage (but not hand luggage) only, if they are carried in a protective case
  • Instruments containing magnets
  • Fireworks
  • Toy/replica guns (metal or plastic)
  • Non-safety matches
  • Firelighters, lighter fuel, paints or thinners
  • Poisons, arsenic, cyanide or weedkiller
  • Radioactive materials, acids, corrosives, alkalis or caustic soda
  • Creosote, quicklime or oiled paper
  • Vehicle fuel system parts which have contained fuel
  • Party poppers

You may only carry small amounts of liquids, gels, creams and pastes. These must be in containers marked 100ml or less. These should be placed into one transparent re-sealable bag, measuring 20cm x 20cm which will be screened separately at security.

I would add a comment made by Roz Zito of Not Yet Decrepit Traveler (https://www.notyetdecrepittraveller.net/home-page) of her experiences when travelling:

This is a great list of things to check before travelling, Georgina! I agree that it really pays to do your homework. I would add to the prohibited list for hand baggage water or any liquid over 100 ml, scissors and penknives. I always read the airline information with great care and pack to the ‘weakest link’, i.e. the airline leg of your journey with the least size and weights or both hold and hand baggage. I also recommend checking if you are staying in an airport hotel for a stopover whether you will be allowed to pick up your hold baggage. In most middle-eastern countries you are not. Your hold baggage has to be checked through to your final destination and you need to pack all your needs for an overnight stay into your hand baggage.

R. Zito

UK readers, please click link below:

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions

23 | Name tags/labels/identifier on suitcases

Ensure all your bags, both hold luggage and hand luggage are identified with suitable Name tags. You are advised to have your name and contact details. This is important so that the luggage can be traced back to you if it goes missing.

[Hope for the best but always be prepared for the worst]

24 | Combination locks/suitcase padlocks

Ensure your hold luggage is secured with either combination locks or suitcase padlocks. You will want to have everything you packed at home to be there for you when you arrive at your destination.

25. DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT 

You know what it means if you do!

In a nutshell

Well, as you can see, my list is comprehensive. 25 considerations may seem a lot but believe me, it is worth it. It is worth doing all the research, the prep and the mental calculations before you board your flight so that your vacation is stress-free. Even if you face certain challenges while on holiday, you will be in a good place to resolve it.


Is this travel checklist valuable to you in planning your vacation? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

Have splendid adventures!

Georgina

February 2020, Update.

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The most comprehensive Travel Checklist you will ever need! Everything listed here is essential guide to a stress free vacation. Highly recommended for novice travvellers. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/The most comprehensive Travel Checklist you will ever need! Everything listed here is essential guide to a stress free vacation. Highly recommended for novice travvellers. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

5 Reasons Why Planning is Important in Travel

5 Reasons Why Planning is Important in Travel

Travel planning is essential! No matter what anyone says to me, planning your travel before you decide on your destination and purchase your tickets is essential for a stress free vacation, hence well-being.

Why is it important to plan your travels? Here is a simple, sensible, practical and a comprehensive list which I hope will become a traveller’s resource and help make travel experiences less stressful, contributing to our well-being as travellers.

Travel Planning

In this post you will find 5 Reasons Why Travel Planning is important. Before I take you through the reasons, I’d like you to know that I appreciate travel planning can be daunting sometimes, especially if it is your first time to travel. You wouldn’t know where to start and it’s easy to get overwhelmed over what is step 1, step 2 and so on. I remember my family trips when my kids were still in diapers, and what helped me then and still does, is that I always had a list, to ensure that I do not miss anything important, like their favourite toys or a little character cushions that they can’t do without. Space had to be made for these. All you Mums out there know exactly what I am talking about 😊. You can read more About Me here.

Travel Planning - Thoughts to paper
Travel Planning – Thoughts to paper

I have planned many travels, long-haul, short-haul and within UK. I have done so in a personal capacity for my family, friends, colleagues as well as business trips. I always had a list! I like lists 😊, I guess I am just wired that way! Don’t get me wrong…I am all for the “unplanned”, off the beaten path kind of adventure too but I think you do need to have a plan to do the unplanned and off the beaten path kind of adventure. When you think about it, travelling is not as easy or simple as choosing a destination, booking your flight and off you go! Although sometimes you can if it is within the same country or when you are familiar with the destination where you do not have to research so much. However, there is more to travelling!

There is more to travelling

There is more to travelling because it is about making a trip, a trip that is stress-free, a trip without major hitches, or even if you come to face certain “hitches”, how you could cope with it. So, for me, in my plan, I have a pre-travel, travel and post-travel list of things to do. All three lists are important because they are inter-related. It has helped with many of my vacations and I am sure that it will help yours too. I know, I know…it sounds daunting and pedantic but believe me, having a list which embodies a plan is so worth it. It’s the know-how and the basic framework that will make travelling look like a piece of cake and make you feel less stressed. I am certain that you will agree with me when you have gone through reading them.

Follow the list on the blogs as I publish them, and you will discover Why. If you disagree with me, make sure to let me know in comments below and I am happy to be convinced otherwise 😊

So, to start with, in this post, I will list the reasons why I think travel planning is important. I will follow up with a Pre-travel Planning list – the “Know before you go” list with suggestions of 25 Top Tips for a Stress-free Vacation.

Read >> 25 Top Tips for a Stress-free Vacation – This is literally everything you need with external links and more!

The 5 reasons why travel planning is important are:

1 | Travel Planning saves time

Some may dismiss planning as too time consuming and that it is okay to plan on the go. Well, it may be okay but if you spend a little time on your to-do list, it helps you to think about priorities, allocate time for attractions and consider your budget.

Time! Time! Time! We all need more Time! Travel Planning helps you do just that!
Time! Time! Time! We all need more Time! Travel Planning helps you do just that!

As well, it is an opportunity to have flexibility built-in for unforeseen circumstances such as weather or traffic conditions. In addition, when you are on vacation, I am sure your goal is to maximise your experiences at your travel destination instead of spending time googling places to visit or figuring out what to do. So, spending a little time to plan will maximise your time when travelling. To do so, will enhance your experiences.

2 | Travel planning helps you prioritise and maximise your experiences

Depending on your destination, you may have a lot of attractions or just a few. Whatever there may be, prioritising what you want to experience will play an important role in how many of these experiences you can have during your vacation. While you are prioritising, you may also consider attractions that are close together where you can visit in a day or half a day. Prioritising may help free-up time for a spa or a little down-time, which sometimes gets overlooked because it is not embedded into our travels.

Read >> 3 days in Geneva, Switzerland

3 | Travel Planning stretches your pound or dollar

5 reasons why travel planning is important
Travel Planning helps you budget and stretches your pound!

Travel is not an open-cheque vacation, I am sure. For me and for most of us, we have a budget with a little fund set aside for emergencies. It is within this budget that we seek to maximise our experiences–accommodation, attractions, food and transport. Researching on the attractions, local delicacies, local crafts and other “must see” will help with budgeting. You can dismiss the least important attractions and visit or do some off the beaten path exploring.

Transportation from one place to another will also impact on your budget, so researching on how best to get around your destination will help. You can also research on free entry attractions. Purchasing tickets in advance and online will help with budgeting. Stretching a pound or a dollar means more experiences and planning helps you do that.

Read >> About Trainline and Train travelling in UK

4 | Travel Planning means essentials are not forgotten

Planning helps you to think about the necessary essentials you may need on your travel. For example, the type of clothing for the weather at the time you are travelling. Travel vaccinations, medication and any bug-sprays which you may need.

5 | Travel Planning prepares you for immigration issues and emergencies

When travelling abroad, you must comply with the immigration rules in the destination country. Planning helps you to ensure that you have the required visa and meet any other requirements necessary for entry. You need to ensure you have the phone numbers of your embassies in case of emergencies. Remember also to have phone numbers of emergency contacts at home.

In a nutshell

My conclusion in a nutshell, Get Travel Planning! How your vacation should be is important because you want it to be a positive experience, stress-free and fun. I believe Planning your Travels can help you do just that. It saves you time, stretches your money, maximises your experiences and a hassle-free vacation. I hope this post was helpful in deciding why planning should be embedded into all travels.

Wherever you are, wherever travel takes you, have good fun, Always!

Georgina xx

February 2021, Update

Photo credits to: rawpixel.com, Andreas N from Pixabay & Public Domain Pictures

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5 REASONS WHY TRAVEL PLANNING IS IMPORTANT
5 REASONS WHY TRAVEL PLANNING IS IMPORTANT
5 REASONS WHY TRAVEL PLANNING IS IMPORTANT

I look forward to connecting with each of you 🙂

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5 simple, sensible and practicl reasons to WHY you should plan your travels for a stress free vacation and your well-being. #travel #travelplanning #traveltips #wellbeing #stressfreevacation via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/5 simple, sensible and practicl reasons to WHY you should plan your travels for a stress free vacation and your well-being. #travel #travelplanning #traveltips #wellbeing #stressfreevacation via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/