Make Food Central to your Trip

Has food been an important part of your travel experiences?, asked Beth at This Just In…

Food is often a central theme to our travel plans, and a good restaurant can provide you:

1. Cultural experiences,

2. Opportunities to meet locals or fellow travellers and share travel tips,

3. Entertainment (professional acts or just the locals at play), and

4. Naturally, great food.

We seek out great restaurants everywhere, and I’ll post a list of our Top Five Dining Experiences latter this week.


Five Cities to Visit this Christmas

Christmas is a cultural explosion in many parts of the world, a time for family, community and faith. That makes it a perfect time to visit another city and immerse your family in the local traditions. For us Southern Hemisphere types, a Christmas up North suddenly puts all those Christmas traditions into perspective.

Here are five Christmas destinations to feed your soul:

London, England

Wake up early Christmas morning, rug up in your Sunday best for Christmas Mass at Westminster Abbey and then enjoy a stroll through the uncrowded streets of London. Plan ahead and book a traditional Christmas lunch at a restaurant or drop into the local pub for a simple meal with the locals. Most businesses and attractions close for 2-3 days but there are seasonal events to keep you entertained like the annual river swim in Hyde Park. Why not take a dip with them?

Berlin, Germany

Christmas markets fill the city and provide a great place to watch Germans at play and enjoy the wonders of hot mull wine and hearty German food. The main Christmas Mass occurs on Christmas Eve at the Berliner Dom and you need to be early to get a seat or try the less crowded Christmas Day service. The markets open after lunch on Christmas Day and the usual attractions open throughout the holidays albeit with some reduced hours.

Rome, Italy

Attend Christmas Mass at St Peters Basilica, even the agnostic feel God’s presence as the Pontiff celebrates Mass above the resting place of Saint Peter (you know someone who actually met Jesus).

Jerusalem, Israel

Join thousands of pilgrims on the trail of Jesus, and visit some of the Holiest places in Christendom. Then remember Jesus’ Hebrew heritage and leave a prayer at the Wailing Wall.

Melbourne, Australia

One for the Northerners, grab a bucket of seafood and an esky (cooler) full of beer and head to the beach for a traditional Aussie Christmas experience. Then on Boxing Day join the faithful at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Boxing Day Test Match. Christmas will never be the same again.


One Final Journey

My best friend left today.

Her journey long, her companions many,

Fellow travellers called to this trek from every corner.

Their destination, much visited but unknown to most,

A paradise some say but they’re yet to go.

I hope she travels well, and makes new friends

Because I know she is never coming back.


These days will soon be passed but memories I know will last of the times I spent with you.

Chris Bailey, The Saints

Five Reasons to Travel Home this Holiday Season

Travel is a drug, a good drug but no less addictive than narcotics and it leads many of us to stay away from home and family gatherings to save our precious vacation time for travel. Well, I’m suggesting you go cold turkey this year and expend some time on the home this Holiday Season. Here’s five reasons to convince you:

1. Mortality – We all have a limited tenure on this world and you can never hope to have recently visited every friend or relative who reaches their time but how many times do you say next year? If you have not seen someone you love for over a year it’s time to go home for the Holidays.

2. Make Mum Happy – Walking through the door unannounced this Holiday Season will bring a tear to Mum’s eyes, just don’t spend three hours in the pub drinking with your brother and father first like I did one year.

3. Save Postage – You get to deliver the presents in person rather, save postage and enjoy the true spirit of giving. It also forces you to do something less lame than a gift certificate.

Sisters together at Christmas

4. Hometown Adventure – I wrote about frugal vacations at home recently, and the same ideas work back in your old stomping grounds. Things change and just a walk through the old neighbourhood can reveal some natty new places to explore.

5. Budget Savings – Accommodation, food and entertainment for the bargain price of an airfare and you save on utility bills at home to boot. Add the savings to your travel fund and you are on your way to the next far-off destination.


What Makes a Memorable Vacation?

These days will soon be passed but memories I know will last of the times I spent with you.

Chris Bailey, The Saints

What is your strongest and happiest vacation memory?

Take a minute to think about it…

My best friend and I lead very different lives; I travel the world and have rarely lived near my childhood home while Karen always lived near home and never travelled far. Yet I suspect our strongest and happiest vacation memories are very similar. Why?

People experience their strongest emotions when they interact with other people, and it is human contact that makes any vacation or journey memorable. Karen commented to me that I done a lot with my life, and yet when I list the vacation memories I treasure they are the simple events that come flooding back to me.

Learning to ride a motorcycle during a visit to the farm Karen called home but holiday heaven for this city kid.

Days spent on the beach, swimming and fishing, with our best friends and family.

Sightseeing around Seattle with a succession of friends and family who made the familiar new again.

Every memory stronger for the people we shared those adventures with us, so if this is the key to a memorable vacation, why is solo travel so popular?

Serial solo travellers all have one common trait, they love to meet people and build relationships that become the focus of their journeys at that moment. It is a trait I nurture but do not naturally thrive on so I tend to seek out travel partners, a position my wonderful wife has forevermore. Whether you travel solo or on tour groups, schedule your time to connect with people, your fellow travellers or locals you meet and make that moment a memorable one for everyone.