GPSmyCity – win a free promo code by telling us which city you most want to visit

GPSmyCity is offering travel-plan-idea.com readers up to 20 free promo codes.

The app, which usually costs 4.99, comes in iOS and Android flavors. Each GPSmyCity app works for one city (over 470 cities around the world). Each app contains from a few to over a dozen self-guided walking tours for a single city, allowing visitors to explore on foot the best of the city at their own pace.

Here’s how to win the free promo code. Visit http://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/ and find the city that you most want to experience. Leave a comment below that says which city you want to experience and why. Make sure you fill in the email field so we can send you the free promo code. In early 2016 we will email everyone a code so they can get some cool walking tours for the city they chose.

I’ll go first. I want to experience Atlanta. The Atlanta app has 13 walking tours and I’m guessing I haven’t done any of them even though I have spent a lot of time in Atlanta. It’s time for me to get to know the city.

So leave a comment below, fill out the email part, tell us which city you want, and wait for your free code.

5 day San Francisco travel plan including Alcatraz, Napa, and Redwoods

While the Golden Gate city of San Francisco is large and bustling, you can still get the full San Francisco experience in just 5 days if you manage your time well. Check out this suggested five-day itinerary that will have you experiencing the whole city from Alcatraz to Redwoods, and the surrounding Napa area before you depart.

Day 1: Upon arrival, the first thing to do is go out and explore, like any tourist. Take a bus tour and get a flash view of the city. The best place to start off is Union Square, as most of the bus tours start and end here. Head out to visit some of the more historic places, like the Alcatraz prison, made famous by blockbuster action film, The Rock. It’s recommendable to book your Alcatraz tour at least three days in advance, as they sell out quite quickly. Spend the rest of your day walking up and down the steep streets, or catch one of San Fran’s famous trams. Sample the local cuisine. With around 4,500 restaurants across the city, you’re sure to have a memorable culinary experience here.

Day 2: On your second day, take a trip to the Redwood National Park. Redwoods is an amazing place to experience the huge majestic trees that form this magnificent forest, and its stunning scenery will leave you breathless. The cycling trails in Redwood are unrivaled and there’s something for every level of cyclist here. If you like riding fixies and want an easy, fairly flat trail, try the Gold Bluffs Beach Coastal Trail. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, take a mountain bike and tackle the Little Bald Hills trail.

Day 3: Check out the Golden Gate Bridge – Rent a car, take a tour, walk, or if your legs will still allow, you can bike across this famous landmark that is an engineering work of art. You can even take a helicopter tour and enjoy the amazing view from the skies. Make sure you check out the weather forecast first for visibility, as San Francisco is a famously foggy city.

Day 4: Bike through Napa Valley – Made famous by its delicious wine and pleasant countryside, California’s Napa Valley makes an excellent place to bike around and you can find bikes for sale or rent throughout the city and surrounding area. The Napa Valley also has an array of top-rated restaurants, more than 500 wineries, and tons of great local Napa cycling routes that you can explore. Yountville, located in the heart of Napa’s agricultural reserve, is an ideal place to start your Napa Valley bike ride.

Day 5: Hit up Chinatown – Complete your tour of this West Coast city with a taste of the East. With San Francisco hosting the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, this is a definite must-do. With an endless array of cheap souvenirs and street food to sample, there’s also a fortune cookie factory, located on the corner of Washington Street and Ross that you can visit to try out the delicious treats famous for their wise sayings and premonitions.

San Francisco has something for everybody, from nature lovers to historians and art and food fans. Five days in this wonderful part of everybody’s favorite state are sure to be the most memorable of your life.

Author: Michael Peggs is the founder of digital marketing agency Marccx Media, where they specialize in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.

Rookie mistake – canceled old reservation before making the new one

So tomorrow I leave for a conference in Indianapolis. A few days ago, my wife said it would be fun if she came with me and we brought the dogs. The stupid Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, where the conference is (and where my reservations are) is not dog friendly. But there’s a La Quinta half a mile away and they are dog friendly.

So I cancel the Hyatt and go to book La Quinta. No availability, but you knew that from the post title. We decided it would be too much work to start searching for hotels very close to the conference hotel and that were dog friendly.

I call the Hyatt to uncancel – no can do even though fewer than 5 minutes have passed. How much to book a room? About 400 bucks. My conference rate was 150 so I’m going to feel this in my pocket book.

Luckily I was able to get another room at the conference rate, but it’s a room with a view so I have to pay 170/night. Not as good as 150/night but way better than 400/night.

Of course the worst part will be leaving my wife and furkids home but at least I learned my lesson. Make the new reservation before you cancel the old one. I knew that – just needed a reminder.

Tips to Make Your Next Trip More Adventurous and Memorable

Going out on a trip is fun and make it more memorable by being more adventurous. We only live once. As cliche as it may sound, we need to make the most of it. Go out of your comfort zone – have fun, be bolder, and adventurous.

Here’s how you can achieve that adventurous and memorable trip!

Go to places you’ve never been to.

Most people prefer going to places where they feel familiar and comfortable. For example, Paris is beautiful and special, yes, but do you need to go to Paris every time you are out for vacation? Why not try something new? Go to a place you’ve never been to.

Get a globe, randomly pick a destination and fly there (if your budget permits). How awesome would that be! Places like South Africa, Brazil, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and others will give you adventures you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Explore like you are searching for something.

Do not just refer to travel guides or Google Maps when you are deciding where to go. Let your instinct take you places. If you are in the far flung places in Thailand, or Vietnam, you can talk to locals and ask which places are best to visit. If you are in New Zealand, there are many car hire in Queenstown to book, so you can easily go to remote nature parks. Allow yourself to explore the beauty of the country or city you decided to visit.

Try outdoor activities.

Are you the type who always stays in the hotel or just go to restaurants and other establishments? For a change why don’t you try various outdoor activities? Try bungee jumping, cliff diving, parasailing, and scuba diving or go wall climbing! Doing those activities will definitely make the trip more special and memorable. Do not be afraid to go wild. It is nice to feel closer to nature through those activities. For once, leave your smartphones, tablets, laptops and other gadgets behind and just enjoy the moment doing outdoor activities.

Leave your work and your worries at home.

Leave your worries at home. When you go out for your next adventure, you must make sure you will not think about work. Do not open your email while you are away because it is definitely a major spoiler of fun. Also, be sure to forget your problems or any worries. You are out to enjoy and relax so stick to that agenda.

Be with your favorite people.

Lastly, go to this next adventure with your most favorite people in the world. Anything will be special when you are sharing it with your dearest friends and loved ones. So make sure to bring them with you on your trip.

Live life to the fullest. Make your next trip more adventurous and memorable using the tips we discussed in this post. But, do not be reckless. You must know the boundaries between being adventurous and being reckless. What you need is clean, exciting and spontaneous kind of fun to make it more special and one of a kind.

5 ways you can unwind during a business trip

After a hectic day of meetings, travel and work functions, being able to “switch off” during a business trip is a skill in itself. Down-time might be minimal, so you need to escape the grind when you can. Feeling physically and mentally refreshed for the next day’s activities is vital. Here are five ways you can unwind during a business trip.

Pamper yourself

You mightn’t be able to fit in the four hour deluxe spa package that you probably deserve, but a relaxing 30 minute massage or dip in the hotel Jacuzzi could be just what the doctor ordered. All work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a tightly wound employee. Many motels and resorts boast their own day spa facilities on-site, so why not join the pamper program?

Take a stroll

Whether your business trip takes you to the centre of a big city or a location way out in the middle of nowhere, there’s nothing like a leisurely stroll to clear the mind and stretch out those tense muscles. It’s also a good excuse to engage in a little sightseeing. Get out there and make the most of your surrounds. You never know what you might stumble upon. It certainly beats lying in your hotel room and staring at the ceiling all evening.

Watch TV

An oldie but a goodie, this tip will help take your mind off the day’s work-related events and provide a genuine entertainment option in the process. It might seem contradictory to the advice given above, but it’s good to keep your options open – and there’s no reason you can’t follow all of our tips!

Even the most rundown of hotels has a working television with a decent selection of channels. Sit, back, relax and escape reality for a while! It’s the perfect accompaniment to room service snacks. Speaking of food …

Eat well

It might be tempting to grab the quickest and easiest meal option during a business trip, but it pays to be selective. The ritual of sitting down and tucking into a nice meal – either alone or with company – nourishes the soul and keeps those tastebuds happy! Resorts/hotels such as Kings Park Accommodation, offer delicious, home-style dining – perfect for when you spend extensive periods on the road.

Shopping

Gifts for the kids, a nice present for your partner, a purchase or two for yourself – whatever your end goal, shopping is a fantastic way to unwind during a business trip. If it’s been nothing but work, work, work, then shopping can provide the ideal distraction. Plus it’s a great way to reward yourself for all that hard work. Retail therapy saves the day yet again!

Business trips don’t have to be a chore. No matter how hectic your schedule is, there is always time to unwind. Follow the tips above and you will gain the most out of your next work excursion.

How do you like to make the most of your downtime on a business trip? Share your suggestions below.

Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina is a place I had never heard of until I saw the video below of some people diving from crazy heights. While the diving is insane, I am also impressed with the medieval bridge everyone is jumping from. Old stone walls, mosques, churches; they all look awesome.

If I understand correctly, the bridge in this video is the Old Bridge, finished in 1566. The locals call it Stari Most Bridge, which is probably a better, more specific name than Old Bridge.

Mimar Hajruddin dsigned the old Stari Most Bridge. Hajrudin was a disciple of Sinan, the father of classic Ottoman architecture.

The Old Bridge spans 28.7 meters of the Neretva river, 21 meters above the summer water level. Seems that people have been jumping from the bridge for centuries (see the second video below).

What ethical decisions do you make when deciding to visit Cuba?

Interesting article here subtitled “A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see.” The article is more focused on the hardships faced by average Cubans and goes into some detail on historical context.

To me, one of the more interesting bits is that workers in a Spanish-run tourist hotel take home 67 cents a day of their $8/hour salary. The average Cuban has a maximum salary of $20 a month. A doctor is permitted to earn up to $30 a month. But you know someone is getting the 7.33 an hour taken from all the hotel workers’ wages. What are the moral implications that tourists must consider when choosing whether to support the government that takes almost everything from people working in the tourism industry?

The wage issue is related to another issue – only a few elite Cubans get to enjoy resorts and other tourist facilities. While no longer banned outright from the resorts, most Cubans simply can’t afford to visit them. The article cites Hemmingway’s old hangout, the Floridita bar, where a beer costs a week’s wages. If a tourist goes to Floridita now, does the experience lack authenticity? There are no Cubans drinking there.

But there are ways in which visiting the resorts helps ordinary people. Workers are allowed to keep their tips making tour guides, taxi drivers, and maids in hotels some of Cuba’s elite.

And it is possible to skip the fancy resorts, as one of my former students did when he visited Pinar del Rio to deliver a message to a Cuban family for a motel worker in Mexico.

When different cultures mean ideas don’t translate

I was never an interpretation and translation guy, but when I taught linguistics in the College of English at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, I ran into lots of students and teachers from the Interpretation Department. One of the most interesting lectures I saw came from a group of students talking about Korean phrases that don’t translate well into English and English phrases that don’t translate well into Korean.

So I wanted to share some experience and start a discussion based on words that get lost in translation when traveling abroad. There are some good ones in the article I link to here, like feeling L’appel du vide when waiting for a cruise ship to dock. That’s a French idea for feeling something like homesickness only for a place you have never been.

For a personal example, living in Korea I often heard the word jung. It took a few years for me to get the concept. Jung is sort of a feeling of camaraderie and building jung is important in Korea. It’s still a somewhat foreign concept to me, but from my perspective, jung often involves getting together for drinks. Office workers go out drinking together, college students go out drinking together, professors go out drinking together. Sometimes students and professors take an overnight trip and drink together. We take the bus to some cabin in the country and hang out overnight. That’s called MT (Membership Training) but it’s about drinking and creating jung – not about training.

I’ve seen all sorts of things during MT. There is always a barbecue and there are always drinking games. Students stay up drinking all night, I think. I’m not sure because professors always go to bed before students. Professors might have a 2 room cabin with all the male professors sleeping in one room and all the female professors sleeping in the other room. Everyone gets a thick blanket / thin mattress thing to throw on the floor and sleep on. I have never seen a western style bed (box spring and mattress) at an MT. I assume the students have a similar set up, just two bigger rooms, if they sleep at all.

You might be wondering about privacy, but this is a concept that doesn’t translate so well from English into Korean. For example if you say in English that you prefer to yoga in the privacy of your own home, that privacy seems like a good thing. However it’s hard to translate “in the privacy of my home” into Korean and maintain the same positive connotation. I don’t mean to say that there is no privacy in Korea, but the concept of privacy and the expectation for privacy is a bit different in Korean culture than in American (and I assume other Western countries’) culture. The different cultural concepts of privacy can definitely impact your travel experience.

Here’s another cool article that talks about “hygge” a term that they say doesn’t translate well into English. Hygge kind of reminds me of jung except instead of building camaraderie with colleagues, hygge is more for family and friends:

“Hygge is a deep sense of cosy that can originate from many different sources. Here is a good example from my life: a cloudy winter Sunday morning at the country house, fire in the stove and 20 candles lit to dispel the gloom. My husband, puppy and I curled up on our sheepskins wearing felt slippers, warm snuggly clothes and hands clasped around hot mugs of tea. A full day ahead with long walks on the cold beach, back for pancake lunch, reading, more snuggling, etc. This is a very hyggligt day.”

So what phrases do you know like hygge and jung? What words or phrases have you encountered in your travels that don’t translate well into English?

Bicycle on vacation? Be careful out there!

I recently learned a new word, when a good friend of mine announced that he got “doored” while riding his bike in New York City. He’s OK now but he did end up in the back of an ambulance and the ER. So this guest post seemed especially relevant. Like any other vehicle, there are a number of hazards cyclists should be aware of when on the roadway. By being aware of hazards, bike riders can avoid accidents, collisions and injuries that may otherwise require enlisting legal help from a service such as Motor Accident Legal Service. Here are four more things that bike riders must be careful of.

1. Potholes

Potholes are a risk for any vehicle but especially for cyclists with narrow wheels. Depending on their depth, hitting a pothole can cause damage to bike frames, wheels and a loss of control, potentially resulting in an accident. Cyclists should always look ahead to the horizon to give themselves enough time to identify approaching potholes and ride around them when safe to do so.

2. Glass and Other Sharp Objects

Punctures are the bane of any cyclist’s existence so riding over sharp objects is something to be avoided at all costs. Sharp gravel, road rubble from broken tar, and uneven, unsealed roads can all cause punctures. Despite the fact that a puncture may not mean loss of control, a flat tyre is always inconvenient. For cyclists that do happen to ride over glass, pulling over as soon as possible and inspecting the tyres for sharp fragments and removing these from the tread will minimise the chance of a puncture.

3. Slick Spots

Oil, painted lines, leaves and wet sewer grates on the roadway are all slippery to cyclists, especially when turning. To avoid being flung from the bike and becoming one with the pavement, bike riders should lean against a turn, shifting their weight to the outside pedal. Roads are the most slippery after the first few minutes of rain, when the oil residue accumulated on the road turns into a slick film. It may be worth waiting for these deposits to be run in and distributed by other cars before continuing riding, especially if it’s been a long period since the roads have been wet.

4. Other Vehicles

It goes without saying that vehicles, including cars, trucks and other bikes, represent a potential hazard for cyclists. It’s important that riders wear high-visibility clothing, especially in low light conditions, and also use reflectors and headlights so they can be more easily seen. Riders should avoid riding too closely behind other cyclists to avoid collisions from overlapping wheels. When riding along roads where cars are parked, cyclists need to be observant of motorists who may be leaving their cars, since car doors opening into the paths of cyclists is another major hazard. Motorists who are parked parallel to the curb also have a responsibility to check for cyclists before opening their doors. A cyclist can’t always trust people to do so though, so always be on alert.

What other hazards and risks make cycling potentially dangerous and how can these be avoided? Let others know by leaving a comment below.

Alternative ski destinations and culture shock on the slopes

So the other day Sharon wrote about some ski chalets, including catered ski chalets in la Rosiere. I’ve only been to ski resorts in Korea, but I hear they can be pretty different from ski resorts in Europe or North America.

First, artificial snow is the norm in Korea. It’s normal to go to a ski resort and find only artificial snow. Many skiers prefer natural powder snow to crunchy and damp man-made snow. I’m not sure if that’s because skiers are used to natural powder or if there really is a significant difference.

Second, the mountains in South Korea are relatively low. The four resorts hosting events for the 2018 Winter Olympics are 700-1500 meters above sea level. The terrain is not as steep as many Americans would expect.

Third, even though the terrain is not above the tree line, tree skiing is not an option. Chain fences line all the slopes

Fourth, much attention was paid to entertaining non-skiers. Typical attractions include water parks and shopping centers. The government owned High 1 Resort has a casino (the only casino in Korea in which Koreans are allowed to play – all other casinos are for foreigners only).

I’m not sure these cultural differences will last forever. Korea may try to westernize in advance of the 2018 Winter Olympics to Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang and three other resorts all within half an hour (including the High 1 Resort mentioned above). Although I don’t think they’ll be importing natural snow or changing the incline of their mountains.

So given the many possible cultural differences, I searched the web for ski culture shock and similar terms. I found a few interesting things I’d like to share with you now.

Japan

Unlike Korea, Japan is known for natural powder. Also, if you check out the video below around 2:30, you’ll see trees, which would be off limits in Korea.

Kashmir India

This video seems to show untouched snow, white and powdery. Skiing through forest looks amazing. Then around 2 minutes in, very close to the end of the video, there’s a shot where the skiers are on a road. They pass a truck going the other way. Maybe that’s where the culture shock mentioned in the video title comes from. I can’t imagine skiers and vehicles sharing the road.

China

Long slopes and slow lifts. They interview tourists who say the skiing in this Chinese resort is comparable to America, Canada, and Swedish skiing.

And I believe the Atlai Mountains are also in China. If someone wanted a really different ski experience, they might try skiing uphill (or down) with a single pole.

In conclusion, it seems there are a lot of different ski experiences to be had in Asia. From resorts to country skiing, lots of culture awaits skiers willing to travel. Where would you go for a ski holiday?