There’s a nostalgia for the past that I’ve never understood. Life is better now than it has ever been in the history of our planet.
It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good, and a lot better than it was even 50 years ago.
As a thought experiment I thought I’d compare 2013 (when my oldest son is 9 years old) to 1980 (when I was 9 years old). And I’d do it from the perspective of someone who is living recent history backwards.
So here are some thoughts from a person who was 9 in 2013 and grew older through the 00′s, the 90′s, and 80′s.
15 Things I Miss About Growing Up in the Year 2013
- I miss all the restaurants we got to eat at when I was growing up back in 2013. I remember my family going out for Thai and Indian, sushi and pho, Mexican and Korean. We still have some good restaurants in 1980 but not nearly the diversity that I took for granted 30 years ago.
- I miss the specialty shops we used to go to that sold great cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, or frozen yogurt. “Treats” nowadays are often just a box of Oreos, which are OK, but not nearly as good as those fresh donuts we used to walk up the street for every Saturday.
- I hate how much worse crime rates have gotten since the historical lows of the 2000′s. Throughout the 80′s the murder rate has been almost double the rate it was in 2013. Crazy! What’s happened to society?
- I hate living in a world where the fear of nuclear war hangs over us every day. When I was a kid in 2013 we almost never heard of the threat of nuclear attack. Now in 1980, nuclear war with the USSR is a constant topic on the news – and it’s scary.
- I miss how close all the families of my friends were when I was a kid in 2013. It seemed like my parents knew every one of my friends, their parents, their siblings. We did lots together with other families that I went to school with. Nowadays parents rarely know the names of the kids in their child’s class let alone all the families. Yeah, I do like that kids have more independence nowadays, but there was a closeness and intimacy that was lost along with all that parental meddling.
- I miss all the special activities we could do. We had rock climbing, and kayaking classes, and mountain bike camps – well, I could go on for a long time. We could do anything. Now there’s a summer camp where the kids can go swimming every day, but if you’re not into swimming – tough luck.
- I liked that we had more and better solutions to the different problems kids faced. A friend of mine had a hearing problem and back in 2013 we had these tiny hearing aids that were embedded into his ear and allowed him to hear. Pretty cool. Whereas now kids have to wear these huge aids that look like you’ve got a walkie-talkie attached to your ear. They’re big bulky things that don’t work that well.
- I miss the smart and witty kids’ shows that used to be on TV. Phineas and Ferb, Johny Neutron, Shaun the Sheep. I remember my parents watching them with us and saying, “Wow, these shows are actually pretty good.” Nowadays kids sit around and watch Family Feud or reruns of Three’s Company and I just cringe. The shows are so bad.
- I miss how Lego’s had characters and involved storytelling. Now they’re just blocks.
- I miss the food trucks that used to come to our neighborhood. You’d know what truck came on what day. Monday was the barbecue pork truck, Tuesday was the taco truck (which we hated but my dad loved so we’d get to eat freshly fried churros for dinner), Wednesday was the hamburger truck which made these little tiny burgers called sliders. It was so much fun standing around on the sidewalk eating dinner.
- It sounds strange but I actually enjoyed going to the dentist. They had games and iPads and usually gave you a toy. I don’t know, they just made it fun. But taking the kids to the dentist now, it’s so depressing. It feels like going to a government agency with flickering fluorescent lighting. Plus, the technology itself has gotten a lot worse, but that’s another topic.
- I miss the farmers’ markets that were everywhere. I tell the kids now how fun they were, and they’re like, “Go shopping for vegetables, fun!” – but they were fun. There were always tons of treats (brownies, cookies, homemade ice cream), a band played live music, and they were often in a park so we’d see all our friends there and run around and play and eat. It was great. 90% of the farmers’ markets disappeared between 2013 and the 1980s, so they’re pretty rare now.
- I miss how you felt like you had the world at your fingertips. If you got interested in samurai warriors you went on the internet and found out everything about them. You could read a bunch of articles, or watch a documentary, or find a blog that was totally devoted to them, or join a forum where they talked about nothing except Samurais. Nowadays you can go down to the library where you’re lucky if they have a book or two on whatever you’re interested in. You can order something from the bookstore but you sort-of just take what they have available and hope that when it arrives in a month that it’s not terrible.
- Of course, I didn’t think about it much at the time, but I wish cars were as safe as they were back then. Safety was a big issue whenever you got in the car. There were seat belts for everyone (and they actually worked), there were air bags, and the cars were just a lot safer. There were still too many deaths but it was safer. The traffic fatality rate was just over 1.0 in 2013. Today it’s almost 3.5. Teen driving deaths have increased almost 4-fold as well. So driving was a lot safer back in 2013.
- I remember how easy it was to keep in touch with my cousins on the other side of the country. We’d post videos of what we were doing, you’d see photos of every new piece of clothing my cousin bought, it seemed like we knew everything that was going on with their lives. Now they send over a picture or 2 every Christmas and you hardly recognize them. We try to phone each other but the calls are so expensive. Back then, in 2013, calls were pretty much free, or close to it. I never remember my parents saying that we couldn’t make a long-distance call. But everything is so expensive now.
Growing up in the year 2013 – man, did those kids have it good.
How To Find Cheap Flights
The most common question I get from readers is How do I find cheap airfares?
It’s complicated, I usually reply.
Having a good idea of how the industry works, the different options for buying tickets, and how to get the best deal and cheapest price on a ticket can make the whole experience a fun first step into planning your trip.
I’ll describe below my thoughts on finding cheap fares and how I go about planning a route, picking an airline, and searching for the best ticket deals.
But first I’m going to start with the basic steps I use when searching for a flight.
So in 7 steps (or less depending on how committed you are) this is how I find cheap airfares:
These are the websites I use when searching for a flight:
Incredibly they really can have different fares – so if you’re after the best price then you need to search them all. Have fun!
If possible use the flexible search options that some of them allow. The best days to fly are usually – though not always – Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday. Thursday and Friday are the most expensive days to fly.
Take note of the best prices, routes, and flights that are returned. If they’re good fares, buy them and forget about the rest of this post, if you want to keep searching then go to step 2.
2. Check For Sales
3. Look At The Budget Airlines
Budget airlines typically don’t appear on travel websites like Orbitz or Kayak so you’ll have to search on different sites to find those fares.
Search for budget flights using these sites:
- Budget Airlines in Europe
- Budget Airlines in North America
- Budget Airlines in Latin America
- Budget Airlines in Asia and Australia
These provide listings of flights on budget and low-cost carriers. Budget airlines tend to fly shorter routes and any route that requires a change of planes probably isn’t worth the hassle. But looking never hurt.
If you find a budget airline flying the route you need, then visit their website and check the price. Be sure to account for baggage fees and extra charges.
4. Use The Search Engines
Go to Google Flights and search for your origin and destination cities. Follow the most intriguing links to see if there are any legitimate sales.
5. Visit Airline Websites
Once you’ve decided on the best flight based on price, route, and dates be sure to visit the website of the actual airline (e.g. United or British Airways). They’ll often — but not always — be selling the same ticket you found on Kayak or Vayama for a cheaper price.
I’ll repeat this!
Say you find a great price on Kayak for a British Airways flight from New York to London. Before you buy it visit the British Airways’ website as they will often be selling it for the same price or cheaper.
6. Will The Price Go Up or Down?
Now you should have a best price, but before you purchase it take a look at Bing flight predictor or FareCompare to see predictions (based on historical data and a complex algorithm) on whether the price for that route is likely to go up, down or stay the same.
7. When To Buy That Ticket?
And when should you actually buy your tickets?
The best time to purchase airline tickets is between Monday night and Wednesday afternoon (sales come out on Monday, are matched by early Tuesday, and disappear by Thursday); not before 3 1/2 months prior to your trip; and not after 7 to 10 days prior to your trip (when airlines assume you’re a business traveler and will pay whatever it takes).
Statistically, the best time to purchase tickets is
- 6 weeks before you fly for U.S. domestic flights
- 21 to 22 weeks in advance for flights to Europe
- 11 to 12 weeks in advance for flights to the Caribbean
- 23 to 24 weeks in advance for international business or first class
What You Need To Know About The Airline Industry To Find Cheap Fares And Save Money
Different types of Airlines: Legacy and Low Cost Carriers
Picking the best airline and flights for your trip starts with your decision to fly with a legacy carrier (sometimes called a major) or with a low cost carrier (sometimes called a budget or charter airline).
The legacy carriers are typically the big names you first think of when you consider airlines: United, Delta, British Airways and Lufthansa. The low cost carriers (or LCC from here on) are the upstarts with the hip new names: Jet Blue, Ryan Air, Virgin Airlines and Air Asia, for example.
The two types of carriers often act like two parallel travel worlds that rarely cross paths with each other. The carriers often fly from different airports, sell their tickets in a different manner, offer different inflight options and can have very different prices. And that’s just a start.
Here are the key points that define legacy and low cost carriers:
- Generally have better and more complete service than LCCs — e.g. transfer bags between connecting flights, serve meals, offer in-flight entertainment.
- Typically offer passengers different classes of seating (e.g. first class, business class), airport lounges and frequent flyer programs.
- Most legacy airlines are a member of an alliance whereby partner airlines share routes, offer connecting flights and issue boarding passes for other airlines.
- Work on the hub and spoke model between major cities.
- Tickets for missed flights (because of a missed connection) are usually honored.
Low Cost Airlines
- Known for cheap — often ridiculously cheap — ticket prices. Some of the European LCCs have offered flight promotions with tickets across the continent for as little as €1. But even non-promotion ticket prices are regularly in the €10-30 range. (These ticket prices however, often don’t include the high taxes and fees that LCCs usually charge. Be sure to compare the total ticket cost not just the initial quoted price when booking.)
- Usually fly shorter trips and routes (e.g. Amsterdam to Rome) — though this is changing and it’s now possible to complete an Around The World trip solely on Low Cost Carriers.
- Large fluctuations between ticket prices by the hour, by the days of the week, by high and low season.
- Must book through each individual airline’s web site and usually no ticket issued (i.e. only paperless ticket).
- Flights are point to point, so you don’t get a discount for flying from point A to B, and then B to C like you would on a Major airline
- Return tickets (i.e. a typical roundtrip ticket) are usually the cost of 2 one way tickets.
- Luggage is rarely conveyed from one flight to another connecting flight even when both flights are with the same airline. Passengers will need to collect their bags and re-check them at the baggage counter.
- Often use smaller airports that can be quite a distance from the city and the city’s main airport. Check transfer times and distances carefully if you’re connecting to a flight on a different airline.
- Baggage restrictions are often stricter on low cost carriers and checked baggage will usually entail a charge of €5-20 euros and then an excess baggage charge for heavier bags.
- Some Low cost Carriers have credit card charges (Ryanair has a €5 charge for credit cards) on top of the fees, taxes, and baggage costs.
- Usually no in-flight entertainment
- Not always the cheapest. The majors have become more competitive with pricing so don’t automatically assume that the budget airline has the cheapest ticket.
- LCCs can and often do change times, dates and routes with little or no notice. You’ll have the choice of rebooking or getting a refund but if your entire vacation is dependent on getting from, say, London to Mykonos, this could be a major interruption to your plans.
How do Low Cost Carriers Keep their prices so low?
It’s often asked — how can budget airlines offer such cheap tickets and why, if these airlines are so popular, don’t the majors just offer the same inexpensive services? There are a number of reasons and not all apply to all airlines or situations but the most important differences between Low Cost and Legacy airlines are the following:
- LCCs service shorter routes and flights where quick turn-arounds are both possible and have a big effect on down time.
- LCCs often have newer more fuel-efficient aircrafts that keep fuel costs down.
- LCCs don’t have the legacy costs of the majors – pensions, health care, and generally don’t have to deal with unions.
- LCCs are no frills and this helps keep costs down.
- Some would argue that LCCs have just been better run. The major airlines were probably slower in realizing changes to the travel industry through deregulation, the advent of the internet, point to point route models and adopting the technology that allows budget airlines to keep their fleet airborne a large percentage of the day.
Legacy or Low Cost Carrier — Which is Better?
If both low cost and legacy carriers offer the same price on the same route then go with the major airline. The service is usually better, you’ll probably get a free meal, and there’s a lot more certainty with the flight. (It’s important to remmber that LCCs are not always the cheapest.)
Because LCCs fly to smaller airports that can be a good distance from the main airport, be sure to have at least 3 or 4 hours to get from one airport to another if you’ve got a connecting flight to catch from a different airport.
Flying to smaller airports (and smaller towns) isn’t all bad: they’re usually less busy and security checkpoints are usually less hectic. As well, if that small city or island happens to be the exact place you’re going, then clearly LCCs can work well for you.
General Tips to Buying Airline Tickets
Advice for buying tickets and ideas for getting the cheapest price:
- Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly. The weekends are the most expensive. Searching for tickets off the pick days of the week can save you 20% to 40% of the ticket price.
- Finding discounted tickets: It’s impossible to keep track of ticket prices to every interesting destination for all possible dates. But these sites will keep you informed of the latest deals and last-minute discounts: Travelzoo for international travel (and hotels) and AirfareWatchDog for domestic (U.S.) routes.
- Flights between Europe and North America follow the most predictable price patterns. They ramp up at the end of May and enter peak season at the end of June and beginning of July. The decrease starts suddenly in the last week of August with the final big drop coming the middle week of October.
- Flights between Europe and Asia and between North America and Asia are more complex but generally increase for December, January, July, and August and are cheaper throughout the rest of the year. There can be huge differences between a New York to Bangkok flight and a New York to Singapore flight, so if your travel plans are flexible be sure to check every possible route.
- If you have to travel to a specific place on specific dates (e.g. a family wedding, you got an Oscar nomination) then booking early is the best way to go. But for everything else, the book early advice is nonsense — or at least potentially nonsense. Flight prices go up, flight prices go down. It’s all about supply and demand. If a flight from London to Rome for next month is half full then you’re going to get a great deal (much better than the price you would have gotten booking 6 months in advance). If there’s one ticket left it will cost a fortune.
- The key to getting great ticket prices is flexibility: flexible on where to go, flexible on when to go, flexible on how to go (direct or stopover, business or economy). The more flexibility you have the better you’re going to do. Be sure to search for “flexible dates” when you’re able to do so.
- For the Major airlines and for most long haul routes (e.g. across the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans or between any 2 continents) search first in Kayak, Orbitz, or Expedia then take the best 3 or 4 prices from the cheapest airlines and search those individual sites for similar dates. Occasionally they will have better prices than the consolidators.
- If you’re traveling as a family be sure that the website you’re using to search for flights allows the option to search for youth tickets. These can sometimes be cheaper by as much as 40%, though this is less common than it used to be.
- Since Low Cost Carriers only sell their tickets through their web sites and not through large travel sites it’s difficult to compare costs and find routes for budget airlines. (Kayak, Travelocity, Expedia and the other big travel sites don’t have information on the low cost carriers.) That’s where web sites like Skyscanner and Which Budget come in handy. Find the best route and price from these web sites then make your way to that airline’s site to purchase the tickets.
- I strongly recommend buying what’s referred to as an open-jaw ticket. This means you arrive-at and depart-from different cities. For example fly New York to London on your outbound trip, but return Paris to New York on your inbound trip. You save time and money by not having to return to your arrival city (where you’ve already been). The main downside to this is that the very cheapest deals in the airline industry are often tied to the same city (e.g. a return Los Angeles-Hong Kong ticket) but excluding the very cheapest deals – which most people don’t get anyways – the cost of an open jaw ticket can be fairly similar to a more standard ticket. Be sure to check this out.
And finally, the web site FareCompare recently ran through their data and came to these interesting conclusions:
- Shop Tuesday at 3pm for domestic (U.S.) airline tickets. (Sales start to hit the wires Monday, are matched by other airlines by Tuesday afternoon and disappear by Thursday night — so you have a 3 day window to get the best deals on tickets sales.)
- Airlines start discounting about 3 1/2 months before departure for U.S. domestic flights and 4-5 months before for international flights. If you buy before this you’ll probably be paying full fare.
- Airline ticket prices increase dramatically inside 14 days before departure - 10 or 7 days before for low cost airlines. (After that they assume you’re last-minute business traveler who’ll pay what ever it takes to get a flight.)
Around the World Trips
Travelers are using around the world tickets (RTW) more often these days and often for good reason. You can see a lot places with a well planned itinerary that is usually good value and makes a good use of time.
I recommend these tickets for people who want to see the world and have between 3 weeks and 3 months for their trip.
Any less time and you’d be on a plane most of your trip. (3 weeks is pushing the practicality of such a trip to begin with, but if you have 5 or 6 cities you just have to see, and a limited amount of time an RTW ticket can be the way to do it.)
Any more time and you might want to consider a more unplanned trip that utilises budget airlines and cheap off-season one way tickets. It’s not unreasonable to be able to do an around the world trip using the buy-as-you-go method for half the price of a true RTW ticket. And the freedom you get from having an unplanned itinerary is fun and liberating.
Tips for Planning an Around the World Trip
- RTW tickets offer great value for business and first class travel. If you always travel in the better service classes or are considering a splurge, RTW tickets for these classes are often as little as 50% more than a regular ticket.
- Compare prices from different starting points — prices can often be cheaper starting from Europe (especially London) or Asia (Bangkok has great deals) than from North America. If the difference in price is great enough, look for a cheap one way flight to get you to your starter-city.
- It’s not always true but to keep it simple: route changes involve a large fee, time and date changes have no fee or a small one.
- If you need to make changes contact the airline of the flight directly (not the consolidator that sold you the ticket) — often they won’t charge the flight change fees stipulated in your ticket agreement (To them it’s just a regular ticket.)
- Consider going overland for some of your trip — it saves you the time and expense of backtracking and can make the ticket considerably cheaper. (e.g. Arrive in Singapore, travel overland on your own to Bangkok, depart from Bangkok — or — Arrive in London, travel overland to Istanbul, depart from Istanbul.)
- Good sites for planning your trip: Star Alliance Fare Planner for planning a trip on the largest airline alliance of them all. OneWorld Explorer isn’t quite as big as Star but has better coverage of South and Central America. AirTreks is a popular trip planner based in San Francisco. Trailfinders is good at tailoring budget trips to specific needs and destinations.
Booking Flights with Budget Airlines
As I mentioned above, the web sites Skyscanner and Which Budget can be helpful in finding routes and schedules for budget airlines. For the most accurate information and flight schedules — and when it’s time to actually purchase a ticket — you will have to visit the airline’s website.
FAQ On Buying Air Tickets – A summary and overview of popular questions
Q. Will airfares go down or up in 2014?
A. This is the question everyone has been asking over the last 2 months. There were some fare increases in 2012 and 2013 – but due to the recession airfares are not much more now than they were at the start of 2012.
Here are my thoughts for the changes ahead:
- Fall and winter are typically the cheapest times to fly and this year will be no exception. Good deals are already appearing for January and February flights to Europe in 2014.
- The trend of charging passengers fees for checked bags, aisle seats, onboard meals, entertainment options, and many others “extras” will continue.
- With people seemingly reluctant to book flights, hotels have been offering some great deals for summer bookings. Booking your hotel room early is always a good plan. I think more so now.
- 2014 will be the year that smart phones, iPads, Kindles, and other tablets will be allowed to remain powered during takeoff and landing. There’s little evidence these electronics pose a risk to the aircraft and pressure has been building to allow them to stay on.
Q. What are the best websites for finding cheap flights?
A. The secret is to check as many sources as possible. These are my 3 favorites:
Q. Is business class worth the extra money?
A. Often yes, but of course it depends on your own personal budget.
Here are some of the perks of business and first class (from this summary).
- priority check-in
- more check-in baggage
- sometimes access to an elite lounge with food and drinks
- early boarding
- more spacious seating
- more carry-on space
- flat beds on some international flights
- more attentive and friendly flight attendants
- higher quality food, selection, and service; free drinks
- less busy bathroom
- fewer children / crying infants
- priority baggage service
- first off the plane, first to customs, etc.
- more reward miles
- more flexible booking arrangements and overall better service
- priority security screening
- celebrity sighting opportunities
- schmoozing with high-profile people
- complimentary ground service to and from the airport
- special treatment in case of flight delays or cancellations
- psychological benefits of feeling superior to those in economy class
Q. What’s the best way to get a seat upgrade?
A. Belong to the airline’s Elite Club – or at least belong to their frequent flier program. Without this you stand little chance of getting an upgrade. Airlines reward loyalty and this is how they show it.
Q. When is the best time to buy my ticket?
A. The sweet spot is between 6 weeks and 3 months prior to your flight for domestic flights, 2 months to 4 months for Caribbean destinations, and 4 to 5 months for Europe. Any farther before and the airlines haven’t started to actively manage fares on the route. The pricing is still on auto-pilot, if you will. Any closer to your flight than these ranges and most cheap seats will be sold out. Within 2 or 3 weeks of a flight airlines assume you’re a business traveler (or a desperate one) that will pay whatever the fare is.
- The New Airline Change Fees That Hurt Family Travelers Most – and how to avoid them
- GetGoing.com – choose 2 possible destinations and get some pretty great deals.
- Buying Tip When Purchasing Group Tickets – from Rick Seaney
- When To Buy That Airplane Ticket – a review of the data from the NY Times
- How To Accumulate All Frequent Flier Miles In One Place – a super helpful post that every frequent flyer should read.
- How To Complain to the Airlines: Effective Ways to Get Ahead
- One Bag – The Art and Science of Traveling Light
- SeatGuru – Information on Airlines, Airplanes, and In-flight Amenities
We recently stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Seattle. The Four Seasons puts a lot of emphasis on pleasing families and making the stay fun for kids and this location is no exception. The boys loved the pool, the restaurant, and the little extras that the staff and hotel extend for children (kid-sized robes and slippers, greeting gifts, and complimentary video games in the room).
There are 2 areas to stay in Tulum: Tulum Peublo and The Beach.
Tulum Pueblo is the town. It’s where you’ll find the cheapest hotels, the cheapest (and best) restaurants, grocery stores, the bus station, ATM’s, and car rentals.
The Beach is, of course, the beach. There are lots of restaurants but very few services along the beach. For clarity I’ve divided the beach into 3 sections: north of the T, the Beach Town, and the South Beach. (Note: no one else uses these terms so if you say “The Beach Town” to a taxi driver you’ll get a blank stare.)
Here’s a simple map where I’ve noted the most important areas.
The “T” is where the road out to the beach divides into north and south sections. North of the T leads to a few hotels and the road runs almost to the Tulum Ruins. The beach is very nice here. South of the T leads to the Beach Town and South Beach.
The Beach Town has a handful of restaurants, a few shops, a dive and snorkel shop, an ice cream shop, and 3 or 4 hotels. The beach is OK here but not as nice as North of the T and South Beach.
South Beach has the nicest stretch of Beach in Tulum. There are lots of hotels (most with their own restaurant) and a handful of stand-alone restaurants. The road from the Beach Town runs along beach with most hotels on the beach side and a few restaurants and hotels on the opposite side of the road. The road has lots of speed bumps so traffic never moves too fast and the road is fine for biking.
Good Hotels on Tulum Beach
- Casa Violeta
- Be Tulum Hotel
- Playa Mambo Hotel
- Cabanas Tulum
- Playa Azul Tulum
- Ana y Jose Charming Hotel & Spa
- Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa (note: the map has the wrong location for this hotel, it’s north of the ruins on the beach)
Good Hotels in Tulum Pueblo
Read my 9 year old son’s photo essay on our 3 week trip through the Yucatan:
We visited Cancun, Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Merida, Coba, Tulum, and Isla Mujeres – and ate a lot of food. It’s a fun collection of photos.
p.s. He loves getting comments
The Best Hotels for Families in Cancun.
- See Also: Gallery of the best beaches in Vietnam (on Flickr)
The best beaches in Vietnam are found south of the DMZ – from Hue south to Phan Thiet is a stretch of great beaches. Many are rarely visited and hard to reach. The most popular resorts are described below but a willingness to get off the (lightly) beaten path will yield remarkable coves and patches of sand. This picture is taken from a train south of Hue.
Lang Co beach is an amazing stretch of sand. If you’re looking for quiet and solitude this could be your place. Near to Hai Van Pass and Elephant Springs the Lang Co Beach Resort is great value.
China Beach south of Danang and adjacent to Marble Mountain is my favorite beach in Vietnam. For very cheap and friendly accommodations check out Hoa’s Place.
Looking north from China Beach towards Danang and its fast developing coastline.
Looking south from China Beach. The beach extends uninterrupted until Hoi An’s Cua Dai beach.
The pool and beach at the Golden San Resort at Cua Dai beach near Hoi An.
The great beach in front of one of Vietnam’s most loved hotels, Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa.
The beaches of Nha Trang.
Nha Trang’s beaches can be quite busy and the sand is not my favorite in Vietnam but all-in-all not a bad place to hang out for a few days.
Nha Trang’s Louisiane Brewhouse has great beer, good food, a fantastic pool, and a good stretch of beach.
A quieter option to the buzz of Nha Trang. Mui Ne is low key.
The beaches in Mui Ne are narrower than at Nha Trang and Danang, and in some places develop large dune-like drops. Fun if you’re a kid and love to jump into the sand.
The beaches of Phan Thiet are popular with Vietnamese and the hotels cheaper than Mui Ne.
Phan Thiet is south of Mui Ne and has a similar low-key feel.
A boat on the island of Phu Quoc in the far south of Vietnam.
A popular beach restaurant on Phu Quoc.
The beaches in Phu Quoc are some of Vietnam’s best.
And often very quiet.
A great and very fun way to see Seattle is by taking the Ride The Duck tour of the city.
It’s an amphibious bus/boat that tours the city streets then pops into Lake Union to take in some of the sites (like the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat) that you can only see from the water.
Prices are as follows:
ADULTS $28 / KIDS 12 and younger $17
BABIES 2 and younger $1
ADULT & Quacker $30 / CHILD & Quacker $19
GROUP ADULT $25 / GROUP CHILD $15
The tours depart daily from just east of Seattle Center (across the street from the EMP) from 10am to 4pm. There is also a downtown location near Westlake Center.
Reservations are recommended for the summer months. Drinks and snacks are allowed on board but you need to buy these in advance.
Tours take about 90 minutes. Be prepared to sing. A lot.
Additional photos by: Ariane Middel
We shared a one bedroom suite with our 2 boys and really enjoyed our stay. Here’s a review of the hotel and a few thoughts on the what makes the Four Seasons so great.
What I Liked
- Great service and friendly staff
- Large rooms with an uncluttered layout
- The swimming pool (which is half indoors, half outdoors) and hot tub
- Location: smack in the heart of downtown with great restaurants, cafes, shopping, SkyTrain and the Vancouver Art Gallery all right outside your door.
What I’d Change
- The computers in the lobby were less than great and not terribly easy or enjoyable to use. In fairness, the staff initially directed me to the business center to access free internet and had not suggested that I use these computers. But regardless, if you’re going to offer internet access and computers, they should work.
Additional photos by: Andrew Hyde
- Bali with Kids – The Ultimate Guide
- The Best Hotels for Families in Bali
- The Best Beaches in Bali (Flickr photo gallery)
The best beaches in Bali are found in the south: around Kuta, Jimbaran, and the Bukit Peninsula. Some of these are also very busy, of course (particularly Kuta). Hop on a bus or rent a car and you can find some great stretches of sand with few other tourists around. Bali is a year round destination so concern about weather and seasons should be put to rest. That said, the best weather on Bali is usually found from April to September.
- Kuta – The Best Family Hotels
- Nusa Dua – The Best Family Hotels
- Legian – The Best Family Hotels
- Tuban – The Best Family Hotels
- Seminyak – The Best Family Hotels
- Sanur – The Best Family Hotels
- Ubud – The Best Family Hotels
- How To Travel Bali On A Budget
- Bali Food – from Satay to Sambal
- 36 Hours In Bali – the highlights from the NY Times
- Money Changing Scams In Bali – tips and advice
- A Guide to Lombok – the quieter side of Bali
If you’re taking the train between London and Paris then you’re taking Eurostar. We did the return trip recently and loved it. The train departs from St Pancras station in London, goes through the Chunnel, and arrives at Gare du Nord station in Paris. The train trip from London to Paris takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Some tips for taking a Eurostar train:
- Buy tickets early. There are a limited number of the cheapest seats and once they’re gone you have to buy the more expensive Premier and Business Premier tickets.
- Bring food and snacks. Trains do have dinning cars but if you want specific food or treats be sure to grab them before boarding.
- Don’t be late. Trains leave exactly on time so arrive at the station early. You’ll need to go through border patrol before getting on the train and this can take more than a few minutes if there’s a line.
Eurostar also does these routes:
- London to Brussels
- London to DisneyLand Paris
- London to (Paris) to Avignon
- London to the French Alps (Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne, or Bourg-St-Maurice)
- There are also connecting trains to all over Europe (more info here on destinations)
See also: Bali with Kids – The Guide
An early morning visit to the fish market in Bali.
Our journey to Bali a few years back was our first real trip as a family vacation and as such contained many memorable events. But perhaps the most memorable was one of the simplest. We had been told by the workers of our hotel that the biggest event in the rather sleepy town of Jimbaran was the fish market that took place every morning very very early. What time? Very very very very early. So one morning my oldest son Samuel (about 3 1/2 at the time) and I woke up at 4am, tiptoed through the hotel and walked a few blocks through deserted streets to the beach and attempted to find the market.
We were told the fishermen bring in their haul every morning as the sun rises. As we walked out onto the beach not a soul was in sight. I mean no one! In one direction, about 500 metres to our left was the sight where 2 terrorists had blown themselves up in a crowd of tourists about 10 months before. The market was supposedly in the other direction so we turned right and started to walk. The only thing I could make out was a long line of lights leading out into the ocean. (As the sun slowly came up this was revealed to be a string of small boats each with a small light, stretched all the way from the beach to the larger boats moored about a mile out in the water.)
But at this point there was no sun, no light and we were still all alone. But then, the town seemed to do a little shake. Seemed to shift and turn and let out a little sigh. And then one and then two and then 3 people arrived, then 4 and 5 and 6. And without us taking note there was a whole community of fish buyers and sellers. There was a bustle of people moving and humming and barking. There were boats filled with men and buckets filled with fish. There were women selling prawns and a old man selling balloons. Hey, there really is a market here I guess.
The fish coming in from the boats and the market gets going as the sun slowly rises.
Taking a closer look.
I got the feeling they didn’t see a whole lot of tourists down at the market.
The fish just kept coming.
Taking a turn behind the counter.
We walked slowly back along the beach, the town was slowly waking up. It was almost 8 o’clock and all we had taken with us was a bottle of water. We were hungry and happy and ready to dive into the swimming pool.