With summer vacation fast approaching, most parents are already making plans to take a road trip, or visit their favorite vacation spot with their kids. We prepare psychologically to deal with the “are we there yet?” or “I am bored” nagging from our kids because we all know that those classic road games that we used to play when we were kids, would not be enough to entertain our kids nowadays. For this reason, I have put together a list of free resources for parents who are planning road trips with their kids this summer. The list include places where you can legally download free music, videos, audio books and many other digital content guarantee to entertained your kids during the long drive.A couple of things about this list:
First, I am assuming that you own at least one of the following:
An iPod, or any other Mp3 players
A portable DVD player or any other portable media player that can play videos, music or both.
A cell phone, PDA or any other device that can display text or PDF files.
A portable CD Player
Second, all the content I am providing complies with copyright laws, meaning that the files are either public domain, or the owner had agree to share his/her work.
Third, all the content is free and safe to download (no virus, spyware, etc.)
Forth, no subscription is necessary to download this content, in some cases you might need to create a free account with the site, but you don’t have to subscribe to any services nor pay to download the material.
This said, here is the list of FREE electronic content you can download and bring with you on your next trip.
Want to get away from every thing? If you do, we have the perfect place for you: The Tibetan plateau (34.7°N, 85.7°E). From here, it is a three-week trip to the cities of Lhasa or Korla - one day by car and the remaining 20 on foot.
How do we know this? Aa new map of connectedness created by researchers at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, and the World Bank shows the most remote places on Earth.The maps are based on a model which calculated how long it would take to travel to the nearest city of 50,000 or more people by land or water.
The model combines information on terrain and access to road, rail and river networks. It also considers how factors like altitude, steepness of terrain and hold-ups like border crossings slow travel.
So, the next time that you wish to take a vacation on a place where you would not be disturbed at all, you know where to go. By the way, be prepared because the most remote place on Earth is 5200 meters above the sea and there is no hot shower available.
We just came back from Costa Rica and I took lot of pictures which I will be uploading to my Flickr account.
On the following posts I will be writing about some of the places we went, but for now I want to write a review of Hotel Vista Linda del Norte, near the Arenal Volcano.
The hotel is just beautiful, with a breathtaking view of the Arenal Volcano and the Arenal Lagoon. The hotel is small, yet all the rooms are very well distributed among the mountain side. There are three types of rooms, standard, junior suite and honeymoon suite. We stayed at the junior suite and I really recommend this one, as it has direct view of the volcano and the lagoon. It is also big enough to fit 4 people comfortably.
The hotel has a pool bar that overlooks the volcano and the lagoon. This is a beautiful setting to have some drinks and relax at the pool or the Jacuzzi. There is also a patio on the second floor where you can take your drinks and just enjoy the view.
Linda Vista offers free breakfast buffet, with fruits, cereals, bread, coffee, natural juices and a la carte omelets cooked while you wait.
People in Costa Rica are very friendly and helpful, yet some people are willing to go the extra mile to help you out, and some of the staffs working at Linda Vista were the perfect example of this. The night we arrived, the restaurant was about to close, so instead of hurrying up we decided to order some food from the pool bar. The girl working the bar told us that because of the time, we could only eat at the restaurant; however she suggested we drive a short distance to a small place that sold hamburgers, sandwiches and other types of fast food. Without having to ask her, she picked up her own cell phone and made a call to the owner of the place to get the menu. She then waited for us to write our order and called him again to place the order for us. In the process she asked them if they would deliver the food to the pool, which the owner agreed.
When the food arrived she set up a table for us and gave us glasses with ice to pour the soda bottles we have ordered. She did all these things without even expecting a tip, which we gladly gave her anyway.
After more than 5 years, we are going back to Costa Rica to see old friends and spend Spring Break with the kids in that wonderful country.
This time one of my wife’s cousin, his wife and 11 years old son are coming with us and they are really excited about the trip as this will be their first time in Costa Rica.
We’ll have a very busy schedule. We arrive at Costa Rica this Saturday March 28th, the next day we are visiting Volcán Poas, a dormant volcano near the province of Cartago. The last time we were at the Poas, the sky cleared up enough for us the see the crater. I am hopping for the same kind of luck this time, as I am taking a good camera with me and I am looking forward to taking some decent shots of the crater.
On Monday we will visit Ojo de Agua, a public balneario that doesn’t offer much, except that the water comes from an underground spring and it is really cold, but my kids love it because they have several diving platforms and very few rules to jump from them. Ojo de Agua was my favorite spot when I was a teenager because they used to have free music concerts during the summer, so my friends and I used to go there almost every day during our time off from school.
On Tuesday we will visit friends and walk around San Jose. Things has changed a lot since I lived in Costa Rica and several of my friends are already warning me no walk around San Jose with jewelry or video cameras, as I’ll be a target for robbers.
On Wednesday we’ll leave for Volcan Arenal. We found this great hotel (at least the pictures look good) a couple of miles from the volcano. The night is around $130.00 for a room with volcano view. Arenal is an active volcano and I heard that at night you can see the lava spilling from the volcano. I can’t believe that in the 8 years I lived in Costa Rica I never went to Arenal.
We’ll spend the night at Arenal and then on Thursday we are leaving for Guanacaste. This time we are going to Playa Hermoza where we’ll stay until Sunday.
We are coming back on Tusday, April 6th.
I am really looking forward this trip. Not only we are going to reunite with a bunch of old friends, but I’ve taken a new hobby (photography) and Costa Rica is the perfect place to take good pictures.
I’ll try to post some details on the trip while I am in Costa Rica, and perhaps some pictures. Once I come back, I’ll write a full review of the hotels we stayed at in case you decide to travel there and visit these places.
I recently got an invitation to attend one of those “travel club” presentations. In return for hearing the salesperson’s pitch, I would be awarded “4 wonderful” gifts that included 2 round trip airline tickets, a 4 days cruise, a 3 nights hotel stay and finally a $1,000 gift certificate to buy thing from an website where I would have to pay only “shipping and handling fees” The travel club was owned by West Gate Resorts, the time share resort.
Since we had some time off to spare, my wife and I decided to go to the presentation last Saturday.
What a rip-off!!!
According to the salesperson, West Gate Resorts was doing this “pilot program” that allows them to sell unused weeks at their resorts to people who enroll on their travel club. In return for $6,900.00 you would have the right to purchase 2 weeks at one of their resort every year. Each week costing $500.00, plus you have to pay $199 every year in club membership fees.
Leave it to Spirit Air to find a creative way to pull more money out of your wallet whenever you fly with them.
They were the one who initiated the trend where passengers must pay up to $12 if they want to secure a seat next to a friend or family member. They also invented a “natural occurrence interruption fee”, a $2.50 fee to help recover the costs involved with storms and other weather related incidents (by the way they were fined $40,000 by the DOT for this illegal fee)
But now Spirit has topped the charts by asking the DOT to allow them to charge passengers for the right to purchase a ticket. We are not talking about a booking fee that third parties charge to serve as intermediaries between the traveler and the service provider. We are talking about a fee that you would have to pay directly to Spirit if you book a flight with them.
Since Spirit Air has kept the talks with the DOT behind the scenes, it is rumored that the fee will be between $5.00 and $10.00 per person.
I have two major problems with this fee.
First of all, Spirit might be forced to disclosed this fee at the time of purchase, but third parties would not, so the fee will be hidden until the very last moment when it will be buried under a bunch of other fees travel agents already chrge.
Second of all, it will create a bad precedent and soon other carriers will follow Spirit Air. I am talking all type of carriers, from airlines to busses, to trains. Once it is approved, nothing will stop any transportation company that sells individual tickets from doing the same.
I already contact the DOT and the FAA to let them know I am opposing to this fee and I encourage you to do the same.
I usually do my homework whenever I’m looking for a good deal on airfare. I compare prices on sites like Kayak, and others. But even if you do your homework, there is not guarantee that a couple of days later the same airline you booked your flight with, will post a new lower fare on their website and then you are stuck with the price you paid.
So is there any way to protect your purchase against lower fares after you make your reservation?
I emailed several airline companies and asked them that question. Here is what each one had to say regarding their lower price guarantee policy.
I recently read an article about how bloggers are changing the travel industry for the better. Many of us who write about travel, like to express our opinion on places we have visited Sometimes I review hotels I have stayed in and give my personal opinion about my experience in that particular hotel. This might seem something insignificant as it is just my personal opinion, yet the article mentions that nowadays executives from major hotel chains and other travel related business are paying more attention to what bloggers say about their business.
In my case, although I haven had any major issue that has been resolved thanks to an entry in my blog, I have received a couple of emails from large companies asking me to correct something I wrote about them in one of my blog entries. If I was wrong about what I wrote, I do correct the entry and post the right information.
For me, this blog is more about sharing my passion for traveling than trying to fix the industry, but I do not mind giving people advice on how to solve issues they might encountered on a hotel or other places.
For most of us, traveling is a pleasure and our opinion should count on how the travel industry conduct its business, after all they wouldn’t be here if it wouldn’t for all of us who love to travel.