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Travel Tips

Places To Visit in Romania During Winter: 4 Days, 4 Places

As the cold season approaches, you need to find new places to visit that will make you feel like living a fairytale. This time, let’s talk about Romania.

Why should you visit Romania?

Because this country is like a warm hug on a cold day.

With its beautiful landscapes, calm people (especially Transylvania) and delicious food, you can be sure that if you visit Romania, you’ll have some quality time.

This year’s winter started with a 4-day vacation for Romanians due to 2 national holidays (St. Andrew’s Day – 30th of Nov. and the Great Union Day – 1st of December).

This was a great reason for taking some time off and disconnecting from the daily routine.

For me, this meant a quiet trip in the western part of Romania, through Alba Iulia, Cincis-Cerna Village, Hunedoara, and Sibiu.

So if you want to visit Romania in the winter, here are a few places that I would recommend:

1. Alba Iulia

Alba Iulia is a really beautiful city where the Great Union was proclaimed.

This city’s special thing is the fortress that lies in the middle of the city which has seven bastions in stellar shape.

Once inside the fortress, you can find the Union Hall, the National History Museum of Unification, the Coronation Cathedral and many more.

All of them have a great historical significance for Romanians and the things they’ve been through. 

If hungry, I suggest Pub13 (it is like a fortress inside the fortress – check their website) and Dante Cafe (delicious food!).

During winter, there is a small Christmas Market really cute decorated.

You can go ice-skating, eat warm food and drink a cup of mulled wine while admiring the beautiful lights of the city.

If you plan to visit Romania, you must not miss this historical city located in the heart of Transylvania.

2. Sibiu

Sibiu is already widely known among travelers as one of the most beautiful cities in Romania. And for a good reason.

As a plus, I strongly suggest you visit it in the winter since the city is filled with magical lights. It is beautifully decorated! Also, there is a cozy Christmas Market organized in the main square of the city.

It will surely make you feel the Christmas spirit like nowhere else.

While there, I also visited the Council Tower at night to see the city from above and had some Romanian

Traditional Food at Restaurant Weidner (I recommend the traditional Romanian bean soup cooked into homemade bread and the “Papanasi”).

3. Cincis Lake, Hunedoara

 This place was a total surprise for me because I booked it the night before the trip. I decided I wanted to stay in a quiet place, initially a wooden house.

Being so unorganized with the trip and booking the night before, of course, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.

But this place proved to me that even if you don’t plan everything 2 weeks ahead, you can still have a great time!

Lake Cincis is somewhere in Hunedoara and the motel we stayed at is located 28 km away from the city center.

At night, when we arrived, it looked somehow creepy. But during the day, the place is amazing! It is completely isolated and the view is breathtaking.

The legend says that Lake Cincis is cursed. Why?

Because it was built over some 5 villages and all the inhabitants were evacuated. So everyone had to take their stuff and leave for other places.

The thing is that besides their personal stuff, the villagers exhumated their dead relatives to bury them somewhere else.

But not all of them were relocated and the legend says that the dead people come to life at night to haunt the current inhabitants. Of course, it is just a myth and you should not believe it. 🙂

If you want to visit Romania and to entirely disconnect from the city noise, this is the place to go. You can really meditate here; the silence is the only thing you’ll hear.

4. Corvin Castle, Hunedoara

This amazing castle is the subject of some great photographs that are taken to describe Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and it is truly impressive.

It has a great history and the legends say that this was the place Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes) was held prisoner by John Hunyadi (Iancu de Hunedoara).

If you plan to visit Romania and love castles, I suggest you give it a try. You will love it 🙂

So this is how I spent my mini-vacation: traveling through Romania.

There are a lot of places that I really want to see in this beautiful country of mine and I am glad I crossed some off the list.

What about you? Would you visit Romania & the places I’ve suggested? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Travel Tips

10 Best Places to Visit in Malta: Tourists Attractions & Things To Do

Malta is such a beautiful island.

You won’t believe the rich history it has and the various traces culture has left on it. It’s jewelry for travelers and locals’ reason to be proud.

I and my boyfriend decided to go to Malta for 4 days in May in order to celebrate my birthday, but if I go again I would go in early spring (March, April) or late autumn (October, November).

In May it starts to get really hot and you get tanned while walking on the streets – I got some pretty bad sunburns just from sightseeing, not purposely laying in the sun.

We went with WizzAir, since there is a direct flight from Bucharest to Malta, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, if I remember well. The flight ticket was around €50 both ways, so it was a bargain.

I suggest you install their mobile app because this way you receive push notifications with the latest discounts.

There are a lot of things to do in Malta and you won’t be able to see everything in 4 days but you can try to fit in as much as possible (as we did).

Working on 9-5 jobs, I value my paid vacation days more than anything else and I always try to balance every trip between weekdays and weekends so as to not use my annual leave all at once.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Malta?

The first thing I do once I buy tickets to a destination is to do a little bit of research regarding the accommodation. My first choice is Airbnb since it offers not only a house but also an experience.

I know, the first time I booked a place through Airbnb I was a little bit skeptical also, but soon I found out that there is nothing to worry about.

Everything’s safe, from payment to airport pickup, but my recommendation is to read the reviews before booking.

In Malta, we decided to book Audrey’s Place which was a fantastic choice.

Audrey was an incredible host and she helped us with everything that we needed: from giving us directions to recommending places to eat and to visit.

Her place is in Birkirkara which is 15 mins away by bus from Valletta.

The buses go very often and they are on time so there’s nothing to worry about.

We arrived at her place with the X3 bus, but we arrived late at night so our adventure in Malta started the next day with.

Now that, you have got a place to stay, here are 10 best places to visit in Malta (in no particular order.) Enjoy!

1. Valletta – The Capital of Malta

Valletta is the capital of Malta and the smallest capital in Europe. Its history goes a long way back to the sixteenth century when it was thought to be a city built “by gentlemen for gentlemen.”

I really liked the architecture and the fact that there were small restaurants (with 2-3 tables) everywhere. It is built like a fortress and it has some interesting places that you must see, like.

2. St. John’s Co-Cathedral (Kon-Katidral ta’ San Gwann)

This cathedral has an amazing Baroque architecture, decorated by the famous artist Mattia Preti. The fee for adults is €10 and for students/seniors €7.50, which includes a very useful audio guide.

What I liked the most is that the Cathedral contains 9 chapels, each of them representing the patron saints of the Order’s Eight Langues.

Also, it hosts 2 notable works of art, namely: The Beheading of Saint John The Baptist and Saint Jerome Writing, both by Caravaggio.

I highly recommend this one, but expect it to be crowded and wear a decent dress/skirt/blouse since this is a sacred place.

3. Upper Barrakka and Lower Barrakka Gardens

Other important places in Valletta are Upper Barrakka Gardens and Lower Barrakka Gardens, which offer an impressive view of the Grand Harbour and the breakwater.

The Lower Barrakka Garden is filled with commemorative plaques that mark the important historical moments of Malta’s history. It also hosts the monument dedicated to Alexander Ball (pictured), the first de facto Governor of Malta.

The Upper Barrakka Garden contains the saluting battery, which was built in the 16th century, destroyed and restored in the 2000s. Now it holds guided tours and the gun salutes every day at 12 p.m and 4 p.m.

They are both historical places and they are worth a visit, especially for the view over the harbor and the three cities.

4. Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha

These are some of the best beaches in Malta, which we had the opportunity to visit.

Golden Bay is a good beach for swimming, although the water was a little bit cold in May.

I noticed no lifeguards and after a little bit of research, I found out that it is guarded only on summer days, so be careful. It is a quiet beach, with a few places to eat, so be prepared.

Ghajn Tuffieha is another sandy beach, perfect for couples and for families, where you can get sunbeds and umbrellas.

It is a quiet beach and I strongly recommend it, because the other ones have a lot of stones and they get very crowded.

They are a little bit far away from the capital, but there are buses that can take you to Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha ( from Valletta – 42, 250 to St. Paul’s Bay and then 223 or 225 | from Sliema – 225 directly).

But, I can’t hide it – the best beach in Malta is.

5. Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon was the most beautiful experience I had in Malta. It is a small bay, with a small beach on the West Coast of Comino.

In order to get there, we booked a day cruise to get us from Malta to Comino and Blue Lagoon and then to Gozo (another island).

After a lot of research, we booked the cruise with Hornblower and we were very happy with the service.

The ticket is €25 for a trip departing from Bugibba at around 10 a.m and arriving back in Malta at 5.30 p.m.

After about 1 hour of cruising, we arrived at the Blue Lagoon where we took some photos and then we went snorkeling (the equipment is given for free by Hornblower with a deposit of €5 if I remember well).

I loved snorkeling and swimming with the fishes and I can’t wait to do it all over again. The time spent on Comino is around 1h 30 mins and after that, you depart, heading to.

6. Gozo Island

Gozo is the second-largest island of the Maltese archipelago (after Malta) and an island with a rich history (it hosts some Megalithic Temples of Malta).

With a cruise, you have about 3h to explore Gozo and for an extra €5, you can book a tour offered by the Hornblower Cruises (I don’t know if the other cruises offer this).

For us, it was a great decision, because we were offered a Safari Jeep and our driver was a funny guy.

We were 4 people in the Jeep and we got along regarding what we wanted to see and how much to stay when visiting every touristic point.

We explored the entire island, from the Azure Window (which has collapsed about two months before our journey), to Victoria, the capital and to the places where the Maltese harvest sea salt.

The entire day trip was great, we got back in the afternoon and still got time to visit some more treasures of the island.

I must mention: this is the way we decided it would be best for us to get to travel Malta and Gozo and it was a good choice.

If you don’t wanna do a cruise, you can also go by ferry, from Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal to Comino Island and then to Gozo (but I think you have to come back to Cirkewwa from Comino in order to go to Gozo, I believe there is no direct ferry.)

The ferry option is much cheaper, but I would recommend it if you have more time at hand so you can visit the 2 islands in 2 different days.

7. Popeye Village

On our second day, when we visited Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha (the beaches), we also went to the Popeye Village by bus.

This is a village that was built as a film set, but it has evolved into being a touristic attraction.

It is rather far from the usual places you’d visit in Malta, but it’s reachable. I didn’t visit the village itself, I didn’t see the point in doing so, but I heard it’s nice and I bet kids would love it.

The view from above is wonderful, also.

8. Mdina and Rabat

We visited Mdina and Rabat on a warm afternoon and it was perfect.

Mdina is Malta’s old capital and as soon as you enter the city, you feel like you are in another dimension.

Mdina was, along Comino, one of my favorite places I have visited while in Malta. The narrow streets, the walls, and the small population gained its name as the Silent City.

The cars aren’t allowed in – except for residents – and the entrance is made through a big gate (looks like Dorne, for GoT lovers).

I loved Mdina and I strongly recommend it to anyone who’s traveling to Malta.

Rabat is the Arabic word for ‘suburb’ because it was the suburb of the old capital, Mdina.

It is a nice city, with old architecture, but we didn’t visit it as much as we wanted because we had to catch a bus back to Birkirkara.

9. Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is Malta’s fishing village and a really quiet and pleasant place.

It is small, so there aren’t so many things to do here: we took some photos, had something to eat and just inhaled the quietness of this place.

There were also options to take a boat and explore the surroundings for a decent price.

10. St. Julian’s Bay

Last, but not least, the young and fun town, St. Julian’s Bay.

It is subdivided into informal districts like Paceville, Spinola Bay, Ta’ Giorni and many more.

It is the place where you come to have fun, dance until the morning light and eat good food. Youngsters will definitely love it, as we did.

Final Words

So these are the 10 best places to visit in Malta that I would strongly recommend to visit. For me, Malta was the perfect way to spend my birthday and I loved every piece of it.

It is safe, pleasant and it has a lot of tourist attractions. I know people who moved there to study and at first, I was intrigued, but now, now I understand why.

Later that year, I visited Lisbon and here are the trip details.

Any questions about Malta? Feel free to leave them in the comments below. 🙂

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Travel Tips

13 Reasons Why You Need To Visit Lisbon (+One Why You Shouldn’t)

Portugal has been on my bucket list for too long. It still is, because so far I have only visited Lisbon and its surroundings.

But I would go back anytime, I swear.

I am yet to plan a trip to Faro and especially to the marvelous beaches of Algarve. But Lisbon is wonderful, too.

Actually, it is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen – it made me feel at home. It gave me that cozy feeling from the hotel room to the narrow streets and warm people.

Lisbon makes you fall in love the moment you get there. It truly is my soul city and now I know why. Here are 13 reasons why visit Lisbon + one why you shouldn’t.

1. It’s Affordable

I could mention so many ways in which Lisbon is an affordable city (and I guess Portugal, too). From plane tickets to accommodation and food, Lisbon is a place for every pocket size.

I flew with WizzAir from Bucharest directly to Lisbon and the plane tickets were around 50 euro in February, on Valentine’s day.

You could also try Ryanair or EasyJet since they fly from many European cities.

Regarding accommodation, I stayed at PH Downtown Suites, a small hotel right next to Praca do Comercio (central).

I can’t remember exactly what I paid, but it wasn’t; more than 90 euro/person for 4 nights, breakfast included.

Tip #1: Try the bacalhau (cod) which is cooked in so many ways

Tip #2: Try Kiku Sushi (delicious all you can eat, trust me)

2. Pastéis de Nata

I don’t have words to explain this dessert: some will call it a simple custard tart, some will call it heaven on earth. I call it the best dessert I have ever eaten! 

It is a drop of rainbow-unicorny-thing and it is my favorite food ever.

I could have one thousand of them and it wouldn’t be enough. You can find it in any pasticceria in Lisbon, but the best ones are in Belém – here is their website.

It’s a traditional Portuguese dessert and I’ve heard there are only about 5 people in the world who know the original recipe.

So if you’re reading this because you decided to visit Lisbon, please, please, do not forget about Pasteis de Nata!

3. Jeronimos Monastery

Since I was talking about Belém, right next to the wonderful pasticceria there’s this amazing monastery – a lovely building for all the architecture lovers out there.

This is why you should visit Lisbon! It’s a mix and you can find anything here.

The monastery has this Portuguese Late Gothic Style and it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Belém Tower

In the district of Belém, you will also find this historical place, the tower of Belém.

It also is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it was a part of the defense system on the Tagus River in the late 15th century!

I didn’t have the energy to visit it, but Andrei told me the view from above is worth it. You should prepare for a long queue before going up.

The ticket was around 6 euros, but it is free with the Lisboa Card. Here are the details.

5. Sé Cathedral (Lisbon Cathedral)

This cathedral is called Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa or Sé de Lisboa.

It’s imposing and it has impressed me and made me remember it because it was one of the first things I saw when exploring Lisbon.

It doesn’t have an amazing interior, in my opinion, but I love the architecture. It has been built in 1147 and it has survived many changes and earthquakes.

6. Sao Jorge Castle

Sao Jorge Castle is one of the main attractions and one of the biggest reasons why you should visit Lisbon.

It is a Moorish Castle dating to the mid-eleventh century and it’s on a hilltop overlooking Tagus River and the historical center of Lisbon.

It is definitely worth exploring. The ticket price is 5 euro for students and 8.50 euros for adults.

7. The Streets of Bairro Alto

All the streets of Portugal have this special thing to them, but the streets of Bairro Alto (Upper District) are unique.

This neighborhood is fundamental to the city, formed outside the wall of the historic city. You really need to allow yourself to get lost on these streets, eat some local food and just roam around the city.

I guarantee you’ll conclude that they’re meant to be one of the reasons why you should visit Lisbon.

8. Elevador de Santa Justa

Lisbon has many places that allow you to see the city from above (my favorite activity).

These places are called Elevador, just like “elevator” and, for a nominal sum, you can really have a great time observing the beautiful Lisbon from a scenic place.

Elevador de Santa Justa is one of them.

This one was on our way to getting lost in the city, but there are some other points of observing the city from above:

Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte, Miradouro de Santa Luzia, and others. Check them out and thank me later 🙂

9. Estadio da Luz

This one wasn’t exactly my choice, but I ended up liking it after all.

For all football lovers, you might’ve heard of Benfica and Estadio da Luz.

For me, it was the first stadium experience and the tour was really interesting, taking you from the team’s dressing room to the actual pitch.

The ticket is 10 euro and there is a metro station right next to it, so it’s easy to reach.

10. Lisbon Tram 28

The famous Tram 28 is a touristic attraction due to its beautiful interior design.

It dates from the ’30s and such a tram would now be in a museum in any other country. Not in Lisbon.

Luckily, Tram 28’s route is not suitable for modern trams, so it is the only one that can be used on the narrow streets as public transport.

The ticket is about 2 euro and you can ride the Tram through Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela neighborhoods.

Tip #3: Take the tram late at night (as we did) or early in the morning, since the streets are beautifully lit (at night) and it isn’t crowded.

11. Sintra – Palacio da Pena and Jardins do Parque da Pena

Talking about surroundings, there are a few places to visit if you decide to do same-day trips.

Palacio da Pena and Jardins do Parque da Pena are the ones we decided to visit and it was totally worth it.

Sintra is about 30 mins away from Lisbon and there is a direct bus that takes you there. It is a beautiful small town that has some castles, Palacio da Pena included – a beautiful 19th-century palace.

The castle takes a few hours to visit, but you also have to see the gardens that surround it and the actual town of Sintra, both wonderful.

12. The Quietness of Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is one of the most amazing places in Portugal. You have to go there if you decide to visit Lisbon.

I say this with all my heart and I am ready to prove it. It is the westernmost point of continental Europe and one of the quietest places I have ever visited. It’s not much.

The ocean and some rocks. But the feeling is incomparable. It can also be visited by public transport: you have to take the train from Lisbon to Cascais and then the bus from Cascais that goes to Sintra.

Just make sure to stop at Cabo da Roca on the way there. The bus goes every other hour to Sintra, so you have plenty of time.

Tip #4: A good day trip would be Lisbon – Cascais (mainly for the beach) – Cabo da Roca – Sintra – Lisbon. And it can all be done by public transport. 🙂

13. Almada and Cristo Rei

If you haven’t had the chance to visit Rio de Janeiro yet, you must find out that there is a similar statue in Europe, too.

It is located in Almada, Portugal and it overlooks the city of Lisbon. It can be reached by car or by ferry from Lisbon (2,50 euro). Almada makes a great day trip, also.

The statue can be visited and the view is stunning. It overlooks, besides the city of Lisbon, the Tagus River and Ponte 25 de Abril – which is often compared to Golden Gate Bridge.

The town of Almada is a small one and besides the statue, there is not much to visit. The port, Cacilhas, has some amazing (and cheap!) restaurants with delicious food.

We had some tasty prawns with 3 beers for only 10 euros. My point exactly.

+ One: Why You Shouldn’t Visit Lisbon

It’s addictive!

You’ll love it so much you will feel the urge to return as soon as you leave it.

The streets, the food, the people and the sunsets are just some of the ways Lisbon will make you fall in love with it.

It’s so charismatic!

The Portuguese have this word, saudade, which doesn’t exactly have a translation in English.

Some say it means missingness, some that it means the love that remains after someone is gone.

Everybody can agree that it is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone.

Exactly what you’ll feel after leaving Portugal. 🙂

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Travel Tips

Tips for Traveling to Cuba: 10 Things to Know Before Your Visit

Cuba has always been an exotic destination for most of us. It has the rum, it has the cigars and it has the Sangre Latino – it is a perfect place to spend your vacations.

However, it is not only sugar and honey (although they’re quite known for their massive sugar production).

There are a lot of things to know before traveling to Cuba and that’s why I’m writing this. I’ve done a lot of research before going since it was such a long way from home (I live in Romania) and I wanted to be prepared for whatever it may come.

So, without further ado, here are my tips for traveling to Cuba and 10 things to know before traveling to Cuba 🙂

1. You Probably Need a Visa

As a Romanian, you need a visa. Well, not exactly a visa, but you need a ‘Tarjeta de Turista’.

This is for staying for less than 2 months. It can be obtained at the Cuban Embassy in Romania and on the MAE website, you can find more info.

From my personal experience, this is what you need to obtain it: the flight reservation, the booking reservation (they need to know an address at which you’ll be staying once in Cuba), your passport (which needs to have at least 6 months before expiring), your medical insurance (you need to buy one in advance if you want to travel to Cuba) and 22 euro.

Once at the embassy, you will have to fill in a form (with passport no., address in Cuba & others), pay the 22 euro and then the Tarjeta de Turista will be handed to you.

For other nationalities, you can check out this list that comprises the countries which require a visa and the ones which don’t.

The medical insurance was purchased from Allianz Tiriac and the cost was about 10 euro/person.

2. Cuba Has 2 Currencies

Being a rather poor country, Cuba needs 2 currencies to survive. This is one of the MOST important tips for traveling to Cuba as this might be a little odd and confusing at first.

Don’t worry, you will get used to it while there.

The first currency is called CUP and it is a currency used only by Cubans. The value is 26 CUP = 1 U.S Dollar.

So you can imagine why they need a second one in order for their economy to survive.

The second currency is called CUC and it is used mainly by tourists, although one of our hosts told us that they’re paying a lot of things with CUC, also. The value is 1 CUC = 1 U.S Dollar.

Both currencies are called ‘pesos’, so make sure you’ll understand clearly from the beginning which currency you’re buying in. Their economy is based mostly on tourism and that is why you don’t need to feel like you’re being scammed.

Everything is cheaper, anyway. Think about the fact that you’re helping Cubans survive a communist regime and it should be enough 🙂

3. Cuba Transportation

In almost a week that I’ve spent there, I’ve only used a cab. You know those beautiful and old cars you see in the movies/commercials?

Most of them are used as taxis. The prices are reasonable, but you always have to bargain. That is the official rule of Cuba. You need to negotiate everything.

The public transport looked rather unsafe, but I’ve heard there is a bus that takes you between cities, called Viazul.

I have not used it, so I cannot talk about it, but honestly, I haven’t seen that many buses while in Havana or Varadero. The taxi prices, however, were the following:

  • 25 CUC (25$) for a ride from the airport to the accommodation and another 25 CUC for the ride back to the airport
  • 70 CUC/car (70$) for a ride from Havana to Varadero – 2 persons*
  • 80 CUC/car (80$) for a ride from Varadero to Havana – 4 persons*
  • 10 CUC/hour for a tour of Havana – 4 persons

With the taxi, our entire experience was wonderful. Our car driver, Osvaldo, was also a guide and a friend to us and made us feel very safe and pleasant the entire trip.

* Negotiated from $100/ride

4. The Internet in Cuba

One of the most important things to know before traveling to Cuba is that the internet in Cuba is almost non-existent.

Yes, that might be hard to acknowledge, but the first time they had internet was just 4 years ago.

Right now, if you want to go online, you need to buy an ETECSA card which is $1.50 – $2 and it lasts 1h.

The internet card works just in some public places (in private homes it’s still illegal) where there is Wi-Fi and you’ll find these places quickly: there are a lot of people gathered there staring at their phone.

The card has a ‘Usuario’ (username) and ‘Contrasena’ (password) on it that are used to sign in to a wi-fi network. Be sure to close your wi-fi once you’re done.

5. The Rum Is Strong With This One

Yes, I already knew that the Cuban Rum is absolutely delicious and totally original, but I didn’t know that you’re going to be tipsy in the middle of the day from just one cocktail.

Don’t get me wrong, the cocktails are delicious (I strongly suggest Daiquiri – rum, lime juice, and sugar – yum!), but be careful when you’re having one for lunch because they put 3,5/4 rum and 0.5/4 other ingredients.

Wanting to go to sleep in the middle of the day (on vacation) because you’ve had one too many drinks during lunch is not so fun! At least for me, it isn’t 🙁

6. International Calls From Cuba

Let everybody know you’re going to Cuba!

No, really. Let them know. You probably won’t be able to call anybody internationally. A minute was around $2 and a text around $1, but this is only if you have a network.

Most of my friends didn’t have a network while we were in Cuba so you’re stranded on an island with nobody to call. Literally.

So if you don’t post on social media, call or text for a week or so while in Cuba, they’re going to get worried.

7. Offline Maps in Cuba

Since you won’t be able to use the internet, you will need to download some offline maps for navigation or just use the old-fashioned map.

If you decide to go with the offline one, be sure to download it for the exact places you want to visit: Havana, Vinales, Varadero, etc.

I used maps.me and it worked perfectly! This is one of the things to know before traveling to Cuba because you wouldn’t want to get lost.

Without a phone connection and without an actual map you’re not going to enjoy your trip so much.

8. The Food Is Delicious

And cheap!

I have previously read some articles about Cuban food not being so tasty. I can’t disagree more.

Everything I ate, from the breakfast the host offered to the seafood lunches and dinner we had every day, was absolutely delicious.

In order for you to get an idea, the breakfast that the host offer is about 4-5 CUC ($4-$5) and it consists of fruits, natural juice, coffee, bread, omelet with cheese and avocado.

We had this kind of breakfast at 2 different places we stayed in and it was amazing.

For lunch or dinner, you can simply eat in if you’re on a low budget; it will cost you about $10 maximum, I’d say.

But if you’re eating at a restaurant every day, a meal will be no more than $25, that being the most expensive meal I had.

Usually, we paid around $18-$20 for lunch/dinner with a lot of seafood (shrimps, lobster, fish fillet, salad, rice and usually a drink, too).

So prepare to be amazed by the tasty food Cubans are cooking. The seafood, at least, is out of this world!

9. Best Time to Go to Cuba

One of the other things to know before traveling to Cuba is when to actually go. Well, I went to the middle of October and it was hot.

July to November is actually hurricane season, so I arrived just after hurricane Irma.

The busiest and coolest season in Mid-November to March; the wet season is between May and June. Now you decide. October for me was really great, although a little bit too hot.

However, I wouldn’t want to visit Cuba during the busy season because it is probably way too crowded 🙂

10. Cuban People Are Great!

I’ve saved the best for last: besides the beautiful places, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the history this place has, there are great people.

This is definitely one of the things to know before traveling to Cuba because there are a lot of stories out there.

Yes, there are some rotten apples in Cuba like in every other country, but most of them are so kind and warm, they help you with everything and smile and dance all day long.

Honestly, at first, I was totally scared because I’ve read that their main “occupation” is pickpocketing and I strongly suggest to be careful about it.

There are also the taxi drivers who will want to take you everywhere and offer you anything you need – this might become exhausting at some point.

But this is what they do; there aren’t many places they can work at so they’re mostly focused on tourism.

But all of them are smiling, all of them are dancing, all of them have warm faces and souls that endured so much until now and don’t know how to get out of it.

I think communism has kept this population authentic and naive – which can be transformed into great personality traits 🙂

Final Words

Have you been to Cuba? If you have anything else to add, I strongly suggest you do.

This way, we can make this article a thorough guide with tips for traveling to Cuba and things to know before traveling to Cuba.

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Travel Tips

How To Survive A Long Layover in Mexico City: 5 Things in 12 Hours

Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world and the largest metropolitan area in the West.

On my way to Cuba, I had to spend a long layover in Mexico City and instead of staying inside the airport, we decided to go outside and explore the city a little bit.

I recommend you do the same.

I guarantee a layover experience can be much more than sitting on a chair for a few hours or exploring the duty-free shops.

Of course, it depends on the time you have. We had 12 hours.

What did we visit? How did we get there? Was everything alright or did we have some not-so-nice experiences ourselves?

Read more below and you’ll find it all out about our long layover in Mexico city!

A Long Layover in Mexico City – From the Airport to the City Center

Well, this is the one thing that I really wanted to tell you about. When traveling from the airport to the city center, do not take the subway. I repeat. Do not take the subway. 

Unfortunately, we did. And it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

You can take Metrobus 4, which can take you there in 30 minutes and it costs $2. You can take an Uber which is $4-$5 or an authorized taxi.

However, when we arrived, the bus stop didn’t have a clear sign for when the next bus would come and we didn’t think about an Uber.

So, we walked 10-15 mins to the metro station (I like adventures!) and when we got there… they separated us.

In 2017! Women and men in Mexico are traveling in separate wagons and I do not know the exact reason. But it was really scary.

Crowded, dirty, with little to no chance to get off at the right station without yelling your heart out that you are getting off at the next one.

The women were really mean to each other and as I understood, the men in the other wagon weren’t that nice, either.

I am sorry, I always promised to be honest when writing about my experiences, so here it is. I am absolutely sure not all Mexicans are the same and I know there are beautiful parts of this city.

The subway is not one of them.

1. Visit Zocaló (Plaza de la Constitución)

This is magnificent. It really is one of the biggest public squares in the world and the buildings that surround it are impressive.

Here you can find Palacio Nacional (home to the president’s office), the Metropolitan Cathedral and some federal buildings.

You cannot miss it and it would be a good start for a layover in Mexico City. In 1987 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Enter the Catedral Metropolitana

Pinky swear – this is one of the most detailed architecture I have seen until now. I have no words to describe it.

We were lucky to find it completely empty because we arrived around 8 A.M, but I am sure it is splendid even on a crowded day.

If you have a long layover in Mexico City or if you are spending more days here, please, please, please do not miss this cathedral. It is spectacular!

3. Explore Templo Mayor

This is the main Aztec temples and it was the religious center for the Aztecs.

What is truly interesting is that you can explore the actual ruins of the Aztec Empire and see pyramids, ceremonial platforms and the main temples dedicated to the gods of war and rain.

You can immerse in the Mexican culture by visiting this museum which is right next to Zocaló.

Personally, I found it really helpful because I haven’t studied the Aztecs that much and this was an interesting experience.

4. Watch the City From Above – Torre Latinoamericana

I will not say much because the photos are suggestive. The view is breathtaking and the tower is located right at the end of the pedestrian-friendly Ave.

Francisco I. Madero.

This is one of the avenues that you need to take a walk on. While you’re here, be sure you try the tacos, fajitas and Pan de Muerto (baked sweet roll) from Bisquets Obregon.

I guarantee a traditional Mexican feast.

5. Admire Palació de Bellas Artes

This building is the principal opera house in Mexico and an architectural masterpiece.

There are also 2 museums inside and large murals; however, it might be a bit too much for a layover in Mexico City.

So I suggest you admire it from outside and even go in the hallway to admire its Art Deco and Art Noveau architecture. It’s fabulous and definitely worth it.

This was our final stop in Mexico City. We then walked on Paseo de la Reforma, a very important boulevard filled with high buildings and street food vans and got a cab back to the airport which was around $15.

Be careful with the taxis, as there was another taxi driver who wanted to charge us almost triple the sum. Try to take one from the outside of a random hotel.

The city is beautiful and if you have a layover in Mexico City, I strongly encourage you to visit it.

Take a cab/Uber to and from the city center and you’ll be fine.

Immerse in their culture, talk with strangers, kiss on the big boulevards and eat some delicious tacos. The city is worth it and it will be a lovely experience!

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Travel Tips

How To Save Money for Traveling: 5 Practical Tips

I have often been asked how do I manage to travel to so many places and still have a budget for daily expenses.

Sure, I, myself, was wondering not so long ago how everybody does that and why I can’t afford it.

I never had enough money, there was always too much month at the end of my salary and I constantly spent all my money on stuff I would soon forget I bought.

But I’ve found answers to all of my questions when I decided I needed to save money for traveling.

Sure, it’s going to be hard, you’re going to give up some things, but it’s all going to be worth it, I promise!

I am going to write here some honest and practical tips on how to save money for traveling, from my own experience as a wanderlust-er 🙂

1. Set Up Your Priorities Straight

If there is one thing I learned by now is that you actually need to have the desire to travel in order to actually go on a trip.

I am not a hypocrite, I am not saying that’s all it takes to travel more. But it is the first step towards your next travel adventure.

I have met a lot of people who told me they’d like to travel. No, you shouldn’t “like to travel”.

You should first love to travel, find it the most exhilarating experience in your whole life and make a goal out of it. Then you’ll find it easier to save money for traveling.

2. Buy Plane Tickets, Not Clothes

It might sound a cliché, I know. But it’s strongly related to the first tip.

Once you make traveling your main purpose, you’re going to try to find ways to save money for traveling. Actually, it’s not that hard.

My personal advice? Stop buying everything you see and want.

First of all, I avoid spending hours in the mall. Sure, I also hate malls so that might be an advantage. If I need to go, I buy only the necessary stuff. And just one extra.

I am a girl so I am always tempted to buy more, so I feel you. But once I find myself in this situation, I go with just one extra item which would make me so very happy.

And I feel even better because I can fulfill two of my main wishes: save money for traveling and buy clothes.

So no, I don’t think you need to change your living habits or starve to death in order to go on a trip.

Buy all you NEED, not all you WANT and just think twice before spending money on something that makes you happy only for the moment.

3. Make a Plan in Order to Save Money for Traveling

I am an organized person, I might say. I make plans and lists for almost everything and I know there are others like me.

If you’re not an organized person, sorry to break it to you, but you need to become one. At least for reaching this goal. Don’t worry, it’s not an endless plan. Let me tell you how I do it.

First, let’s say I want to go to Cuba. If this is what I really want to visit next, I will start making a plan to save money for traveling to Cuba a few months before going, just to be sure I’ll have enough money to actually enjoy my trip there.

So 3-4-5 months before the trip, I will plan my salary as it follows:

  • Rent & utilities – I put money aside for paying my rent and all of my utilities, even if they’re due at the end of the month. This way I can really know how much money I have left;
  • Personal stuff – this is the money that I put aside for what I need to buy that specific month. Do I need a new pair of jeans, new boots, and a new coat? I don’t buy them altogether. If my plan is traveling on a budget, I’ll buy the jeans this month, the boots next month and so on. If they’re really not a priority. As a girl (and I’m sure many of you understand) I also need a lot of cosmetics, but again, I buy only the necessary. If you’re unlucky and your foundation, powder and mascara finish at the same time… give up the boots this month! You’ll buy them next month! 🙂
  • Daily expenses – I make a forecast of how much money I spend weekly and stick to it. I assure you, it works. Well, if you’re really trying to go on that trip, leave aside that feast you were planning for the weekend. Think of the feast you will be going to have on that island 🙂
  • Travel money – this is the money that I put aside for buying something related to my next trip. From my personal experience, it’s better to buy as fast as you can. If it’s the first month you’re saving, buy the plane ticket. Next month, buy accommodation and so on.

4. Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time

This is the main purpose of the article. Whether you’ve decided to follow my plan to save money for traveling or you’re doing it your way, now that you have the money, you need to spend it wisely.

First of all, don’t buy the first plane ticket you find. Investigate the market, watch the plane tickets’ evolution over 2-3 weeks and then decide when it’s the best time to take action.

I, personally, do the following:

  • Check all the low-cost airlines and what they could offer
  • If I find a flight, I wait a couple of weeks in order to see if the price will decrease
  • I learn when the airlines have a promotion, like the one that is these days at WizzAir (20% off)
  • The best times to reserve the plane tickets is 60 days before, and the best time to travel is on Tuesday (the tickets are cheaper)
  • I use Skyscanner (which is seriously the best), Google Flights and Momondo to look for plane tickets (if you have questions, feel free to ask)
  • These websites allow you to create alerts for each period of time you’re interested in and for each destination
  • Airbnb is what I mostly use because I love interacting with locals and learn more about every culture I meet.
  • For the best deals of exotic vacations, I always look on Secret Flying Website or Facebook Page – you should really follow them, they find error fares and post them daily
  • If the destination that caught my attention is too expensive, I try to find a plane ticket to the nearest city and then take the train or bus. In Europe this is highly recommendable, it’s cheaper and it’s great for admiring the outdoors. Flixbus is an option.

5. Enjoy Your Trip!

Now that you’ve managed to save money for traveling, don’t forget to actually enjoy your trip. I believe in traveling on a budget, I often do it.

But there is one thing I think everybody should do while exploring and that is immersing in that specific culture.

Eat local food, visit museum, churches and explore as much as you can. Sometimes that can be more expensive, but this is what you’ve been saving for.

Don’t be cheap, be sure to save money for traveling up until the trip and then let loose.

Enjoy every minute of that trip, don’t think about the money that you’re spending; you don’t know if you’re going to have a second chance to visit that place 🙂

Final Words

I hope that all my pieces of advice have been helpful. If I forgot something, please let me know in the comments below.

Maybe you have something to add, something to suggest or just have a question. I’m here to help 🙂

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Travel Tips

8 Best Places to Visit In The World: Your 2020 Travel Itinerary Is Ready!

↣ I am sure that right now everybody’s making plans for the best places to visit in 2020.

The travel-passionate ones have already bought tickets to a few places or have some countries that are already on their bucket list.

I know I do!

If you need inspiration on what you should visit in 2020, whether it’s the mountains or the sea, this is the right place. Cuba, Thailand, Australia, Iceland or Antarctica, you name it!

Read below an honest list of the best places to visit in the world:

1. Cuba

Cuba has been my favorite place to travel to in 2019 and that is why I believe it should be on your list for 2020.

The weather is perfect (okay, sometimes too hot), the food is delicious, the people are kind and warm and there are a lot of things to do there.

If you have doubts about this country, you should not worry, I’ve been there, too. I had doubts about safety, mainly, but once I got there and I got to know how things truly are, all my fears disappeared.

Cuba is safe, is welcoming and one of the best places to visit in 2020.

Before you go, here are some things to know before traveling to Cuba.

2. Koh Lipe, Thailand

Sticking to warm places, one of the best places to visit in 2020 is definitely Thailand. 

Thailand is a haven for backpackers searching for the best tropical beaches, but it’s also known for its huge tourist crowds. 

Koh Lipe is one of the remaining islands in the country that is not fully commercialized, and its amazingly blue beaches garnered its title “The Maldives of Thailand.”

Koh Lipe is a fairly small island that you can explore by foot. It has three main beaches – Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Sunset Beach.

Here you can beach bum for days, enjoy fresh coconuts or do activities like island hopping, kayaking or diving.

You can also enjoy cocktails at bohemian bars or go for a walk along Walking Street, which has dozens of restaurants offering authentic Thai dishes and seafood, souvenir shops and everything else you might need.

That saying, there is no greater time to visit Koh Lipe than this 2020.

3. Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Since we’re talking about Thailand, here is another great island you should definitely put on your bucket list.

For those looking for a perfect beach destination, with some of the most stunning and clear waters in the world, combined with landscapes that will take your breath away, then the Ko Phi Phi Islands in Thailand it’s the place!

Whether you want to snorkel with fish, relax on a beach, learn how to dive, or party the night away there is a huge range of fun and enjoyable experiences to be had.

One of the best things to do when visiting Ko Phi Phi is a speedboat tour, where you’d visit various islands, coves, lagoons, monkey beaches, as well as snorkel with exotic and wonderful colored fish.

You may even get to see some coral sharks. Mike from Travel and Destinations admitted:

Going on such a tour was one of the most special experiences I’ve had! With beautiful scenery above the water and a watery paradise below, it has given me memories that I will never forget.

4. Byron Bay, Australia

Still on that part of the world, there’s this beautiful and Instagrammable place called Byron Bay.

Beautiful Byron Bay is for many, a highlight of Australia. The tiny town boasts incredible beaches and world-class surf, but what makes it different from the rest of the towns on the east coast is its vibe.

It’s a hippie place where shoes are optional, with colorful shops, yoga classes in abundance and the most delicious health food cafes and stores.

Byron Bay isn’t short of natural beauty either: it’s the best place on the east coast to catch the sunrise and sunset, there is preserved rainforest within the town and its hinterland is home to some of the most incredible national parks and waterfalls.

Byron’s the kind of place where you can get stuck for some time, but even if you only have a few days, make sure you put Byron Bay on your list of best places to visit in 2020!

Claire’s Footsteps have taken here in Byron Bay and she has put together a road trip itinerary which you’ll love!

5. Iceland

If you’re looking for adventure in colder places, Iceland is one of the best places to visit in 2020. Over the past few years, the Nordic country has been growing in popularity.

It is true that there are more tourists in Iceland than Icelandic people, but that shouldn’t keep you from visiting and experiencing the amazing natural beautify of the country.

Iceland is a raw, rugged, and surreal land that one can only see to believe.

Many of the destinations around the country remind you of far-off destinations. This is perhaps why they film whimsical movies there such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Oblivion.

Traveling around Iceland is easy with your own car or with a tour. Many people opt to self-drive the country and that way they can get to the beautiful destinations themselves.

Waterfalls, black sand beaches, canyons, and beautiful fjords plague the nation. It’s the perfect place to come for a breath of fresh air in 2020 and beyond!

Check out this itinerary from The World Pursuit which will help you get a glimpse of what Iceland is really like.

6. Antarctica

If you enjoy wildlife, natural beauty, and adventure, you must visit Antarctica in 2020.

The White Continent shows up on many travel bucket lists and rightfully so. Matilda from The Travel Sisters dreamt about visiting Antarctica for years and when it finally happened it was even better than what she imagined.

With a landscape full of icebergs, snow, and icy waters, Antarctica is beautiful, magnificent and breathtaking beyond what any words can describe.

Although it is remote, there is no shortage of amazing things to do in Antarctica. The best way to visit Antarctica is on an expedition cruise that offers landings and opportunities to view the beautiful scenery and the diverse wildlife including whales, seals, and penguins.

Active travelers can kayak, hike and even do a polar plunge. Antarctica is often described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you will definitely want to return.

7. Zermatt, Switzerland

Let’s not forget about Europe!

I’ve been to Switzerland just for a day, at the Christmas Market in Basel, but I absolutely loved it. Arzo from Arzo Travels has also been there but in Zermatt.

This is a small town in Switzerland, but world-famous. While it is one of the best-known ski resorts in the world it is also well-known because of the Matterhorn – the mountain with the unique shape you can find on the Toblerone chocolate as well.

It does not matter whether you visit Zermatt in the winter or in the summer – this place is definitely worth a visit.

Here are a few tips for what you can do in Zermatt: stroll along the Vispa River, explore the cute car-free town of Zermatt, and get up Matterhorn Glacier Paradise to enjoy awesome views.

Another reason to visit Zermatt in 2020:

In 2017 the longest hanging bridge for pedestrians was opened in Zermatt. The suspension bridge is almost 500 meters long and passing that bridge is reason enough to consider Zermatt one of the best places to visit in 2020.

8. Ireland

For visiting a bigger part of Ireland, Eoin from Dollysquest.com has told me about The Wild Atlantic Way.

It is a tourism trail that stretches from Cork in the south of Ireland to the west coast up to Donegal in the north of Ireland. The trail is over 2500 km long and encompasses nine of Irelands thirty-two counties.

Along the coast, visitors will experience the rugged beauty that Ireland is famous for. They will see a truly ancient Ireland as the pass alongside castles, stone forts, and many other ancient structures.

This route also includes the astounding cliffs of Moher in County Clare and Skellig Michael Island famous from Star Wars. Expect to experience varying degrees of weather and a constant chance of rain.

You will also see the strength and beauty of the Atlantic Ocean as it pushes up on the west coast of Ireland. The route is easy to follow and includes many towns and villages in which you will be able to find accommodation, kind locals and a warm meal.

Final Words

So whether you’re an addicted traveler or just a casual one, the above-mentioned destinations should be on your bucket list for 2020.

If you have suggestions for the best places to visit in 2020, please leave them below ↓ ↓ ↓

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Travel Tips

Long Haul Flight Tips: 8 Amazing Tips To Survive A Long-Haul Flight

All of the active travelers out there, as well as the casual ones, have or will experience a long-haul flight.

What is exactly a long-haul flight or how much it has to last for it to categorized as a long-haul?

Well, I don’t think there is a manual for that. In Europe, a long-haul flight is just above 4 hours, in the US, it is usually above 7 hours.

Generally, airlines consider a flight that lasts for more than 7 hours a long-haul flight. But why are there so many pieces of advice about how to survive a long-haul flight, you might ask?

You can imagine that if you spend 7 or more hours in a plane seat without preparing yourself first, you will probably not have the best time of your life.

Personally, I had only 2 long-haul flights in my life, from Amsterdam to Washington DC, and from Amsterdam to Mexico City. The first one was definitely worse than the second flight because I didn’t prepare at all!

Nothing to read, nothing to listen to, no cozy socks or earplugs. Not a disaster, but it could’ve been better.

So without further ado, let’s see what are the most important tips to survive a long-haul flight:

1. Upgrade

Always think of your comfort and health before the cash. Yes, this might become a problem when you don’t have the money to spend on these, but if you do, always upgrade.

Upgrade to first-class for the extra leg-room and you’ll be thanking yourself later. Also, be careful of which airline you’ll be flying with.

For a long-haul flight, I would never recommend an economy airline.

Yes, I fly Ryanair and Wizzair, but only for flights up to 5 hours. An economy airline for more than 7 hours will be a living hell.

2. Bring Entertainment

On a long-haul flight more than often you’ll have in-flight entertainment. That means that you’ll have a screen in the seat in front of you with a lot of music, movies, TV shows and games.

But that is not always the case.

Some of them might not have as many entertainment stuff as you’d wish, so be sure to be prepared. Bring your earphones, create a playlist on your phone and download your favorite series.

Bring your favorite book which will keep you focused the entire flight. All of these are necessary in order to survive a long-haul flight.

3. Stay Hydrated

Being at that altitude for several hours, sometimes more than 10 will seriously affect your health.

So be sure to ask for water several times during your flight or, even better, bring your own water bottle and ask the flight attendants to refill it.

You might not feel like drinking water constantly, but you’ll thank yourself later. Your skin, your body, your energy levels, and cognitive functions are all affected by dehydration.

4. Bring Snacks

If you know you’re a foodie, try to bring some snacks with you.

Usually, airlines offer sufficient food for the entire flight, but not all of them. And buying something on the airplane will only make you regret you didn’t bring your own stuff onto the plane.

So try to pack some healthy foods like granola bars or fruits. Try to keep it casual and bring something non-smelly.

5. Stay Comfortable

This is one of the most important tips to survive a long-haul flight.

Seriously. Don’t wear a skirt, dress, jeans or anything like that. Try to wear some sweatpants or leggings, a hoodie or a long sleeve comfortable blouse and some sneakers.

Be sure to wear something comfortable and cozy at the same time. I would also recommend some cozy socks or compression socks. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious thing. It is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in the body.

This can happen because the blood isn’t circulating normally and long flights favor this. So put on some warm and cozy socks, kick off your shoes and stay comfortable the entire flight.

Please, please, please, trust me on this one.

6. Get Plenty of Sleep

Put on a TV show, get yourself comfortable and cozy and get yourself a good sleep. Bring an eye mask, because some airlines don’t offer one and you’ll be able to sleep even better.

The time will pass faster, you’ll not be tired after the flight and you’ll get an overall happier experience. My advice: try to sleep during the night so your body won’t experience that much of a jet lag.

Sure, you’ll have it anyway, so be prepared for that do. However, don’t sleep the entire flight, because your body will go stiff.

7. Exercise!

Soooo important! Between power naps and TV shows, be sure to get up and move your legs.

I’m not saying to get into full workout mode right now, but stretch a bit, go to the bathroom, walk through the aisles and just move your feet more than on a usual flight.

This is very important. You might want to get yourself an aisle seat so you can get up whenever you want, but if you’re flying with friends or family, you can even get a window one, they won’t mind, for sure.

8. Stay Clean

Planes are dirty, no matter how new or premium they are. So be sure to stay clean throughout your flight. If you’re a germophobe (I am a small one, too), then you might know even better than me that wet napkins and antibacterial gel are your best friends.

Be sure to have the most important stuff in your carry-on bag like napkins, wet napkins, antibacterial gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, face cleanser, moisturizer.

You shouldn’t wear makeup (for girls). Go and wash your face with a face cleanser, put on a thick coat of moisturizer and use plenty of antibacterial gel during the flight.

Keep the wet napkins close to clean the tray in front of you and you’ll be fine.

Final Words

So while a 5-hour flight might not be as big of a problem, a long-haul flight is something that you really need to prepare yourself for.

These few tips to survive a long-haul flight are some basic ones and there are a lot of other pieces of advice out there for those of you who have special problems.

So keep yourself warm, comfortable, clean and hydrated and you’ll find that it isn’t that hard to survive a long-haul flight if you just prepare a little.

Enjoy your travels!

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