Air travel

Destination Unknown – Girona, Spain

While many who travel to Spain flock to the country’s well-known cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Seville, the area of Girona (about 2 hours away from Barcelona) is a wonderful hidden gem for those looking to do something different on their European getaway.

With its mild temperature and laid-back atmosphere, visitors have an abundance of things to do during their stay, whether your interest is sports, culture or cuisine.

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5 Things To Do in Girona

1) Visit the Museum of Art

Spain is home to many wonderful museums and galleries, and the Museu d’Art is no exception. With a collection that spans the Romanesque period to works from the 20th Century, the most unique feature of the museum is the Museum-Pharmacy of the Hospital de Santa Caterina. The ceiling is decorated with paintings from the 19th Century, and the room contains pharmacy/apothecary jars and jugs dating all the way back to the 16th Century.

2) See the Houses on the Onyar

Brightly painted apartments line the river Onyar (which runs through Girona), and their interesting construction and unusual detailing are a sight to behold. Walk through the city and enjoy the urban scenery.

3) Take a cultural tour of the Catedral de Girona

No matter what your religious affiliation, the austere beauty of the city’s grand cathedral should not be missed. The tour includes an audioguide, and takes visitors through the Nave, Treasury and Cloister.

4) Enjoy a game of golf

An 18-hole game awaits you on a beautiful course at Golf Girona, designed by F.W. Hawtree. Packages are available in combination with several of the city’s hotels, and range from the “Landscape” pack to the “Luxury” pack. For more seriously sporty types, PGA Golf de Catalunya is also close by, and is ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the world.

5) Eat at the Casa Marieta

Offering traditional dishes like Duck with Pears, this mainstay of Girona’s dining scene uses market-fresh ingredients to prepare an unfussy array of delicious plates.

Though Girona has its own airport that receives flights from many European cities, a great way to enter the city is by train. The landscape between Barcelona and Girona is peaceful and pretty, and will help ease you into your adventure in this picturesque place.

Stay connected in Spain with Brightroam’s World SIM card, which includes wireless data services.

Brightroam is giving away Free SIM Cards!!!

To start your summer off right, Brightroam is offering a FREE SIM CARD when ordered on or before July 31, 2011.

Your SIM card will remain active for 90 days and an extension can be purchased if you need one in the future.

Just follow the link provided and enter the promo code “FREESIM11″ at checkout for your discount.

Keep your passport safe

Last week I almost lost my passport while in Las Vegas and I thought it would be handy to offer up a few tips I’ve heard over the years on keeping your passport safe while you travel.

1. On route – don’t let your passport out of your sight! Don’t let the hotel front desk or tour company take your passport away to photocopy it without knowing where they take it. Don’t leave your passport sitting on your seat on the airplane when you walk to the washroom. Don’t turn away from your bag while looking for cash or reading a map. Keep your passport with you at all times when traveling from departure to arrival.

2. Keep a copy at home! Passports can get stolen or lost no matter how hard you try to keep track of them. Keeping a copy of your passport at home will ensure that you have the information in a safe place just in case you misplace it while on the move.

3. Share your secrets! Make sure someone you trust has access to that photocopy in your home or a digital copy on your PC so that they can send you the information if needed.

4. Better yet – travel with a photocopy! If you lock your passport in a safety deposit box at a hotel or local post office while traveling, carry a photocopy with you at all times. That way if anything happens, you have the information immediately on hand.

Good luck and safe travels.

Multiple stop-over tickets

Are you ready to travel all over the globe? The Airtrek travel booking service offers multiple stop-over airline tickets. If you plan to cross the globe and stop in several cities and/or continents, you now have more than just an affordable way to call home – you can save money on flights too.

There are many airlines offering discounted rates at any given time but you always pay too much if you need to travel to more than one city. Airtreks is the leading provider of multi-stop international air travel. Their website is fun and easy to use.

First off, visit the Guide to Planning for useful links on budgeting, packing, passports, tickets, safety and more.

Then, use the Trip Planner to select your track. You can choose your destinations with a world map or by a list of city names.

When you view your route a price estimate will display along with alternate options “More for your money” or “Special value”. These options add or eliminate cities to show you the most affordable options on your chosen route.

Airtrek is excellent for the traveler who needs to span the globe but also for the wanderer that is curious how much it would cost to see the world’s 25 most beautiful cities. Be inspired, check out the Current Airtreks Specials and see where your imagination will take you.


Yes it seems simple, time zones are pretty straight forward. But when you’ve travelled 23 hours and have no idea what time it is, it can be difficult to know what time it is back home or in another country you need to call. I used to have a fancy little business card that had all the time zones on it and a moving circle to line up the zone you’re in and the one you’re calling. In today’s world of technology, it’s a lot easier to find the info you need online.

Here are some handy time zone converters:

Here’s how I keep track of it at home:

I have the time difference (in hours) between my home town and the time zones of my friends and family recorded in my Outlook address book. For example, my friend Ema lives in Bahrain, in her contact information, I have a note – 7 hours ahead of Toronto. That way when I look up her number, I always know what time it is in Bahrain. You can do the same thing on your cell phone address book.

Government travel advisories

How seriously should we take government travel advisories? I think it depends how familiar you are with the places you travel. I am always apt to check advisories for places I have never visited and of those that I know have whacky weather or political strife. Travel advisories offer information on important travel issues such as crime, security, laws, customs, entry requirements and health conditions.

If you aren’t on top of it, entry requirements can change in a heartbeat, like new airport fees or passport restrictions. I was just researching a trip to the Dominican Republic and discovered that upon arrival you are required to purchase a $10 USD tourist card when going through immigration. There is not a bank machine and they don’t take credit, so if you don’t have $10 USD in cash, you’re out of luck. Definitely a tidbit worth knowing.

Health checks are always a must, especially if you are traveling to regions with limited health care or unique diseases that you only hear about on late night TV documentaries. This website, Global Health Map, uses Google Map technology to pinpoint all sorts of health issues. It is very up to date, often more so than the official government sites.

At the end of the day, be smart and safe, don’t throw cash around or eat food off a dirty counter.

Government Travel Advisory Sites

Prep your car for airport abandonment

If you are heading out of town and leaving your car at a snowy airport, make sure you have all the gear to get it running upon return. Here are some handy things to have in the car or in hand when you arrive:

1. Deicer spray- Buy a small jar of deicer for your key lock. Even automatic locks get jammed in frigid temperatures. Attach the deicer it to your key chain or pack it with your car keys in your suitcase – whatever you do don’t leave it in the car!

2. Winter coat, boots, gloves and warm clothes – don’t overload your suitcase if you are traveling somewhere hot, simply leave them in the car.

3. Jumper cables – if your car sits in the cold for a long time, these may be a life saver.

4. Full tank of gas – it’s always a good idea to leave your tank full at the airport because filling up is the last thing you want to do after a long flight but it’s even more imperative in cold weather because it can prevent the gas lines from freezing.

5. Other great items to keep in the truck include: Blanket, ice scraper, small shovel, flashlight, winterized windshield washer fluid, extra set of windshield wipers, flares, tool kit, tire chains, tire gauge, spare tire and changing equipment, first-aid kit.

PSP, more than an in-flight magazine

More frequent travelers are finding handheld entertainment devices more fun than the typical in-flight magazine or local paper. In this digital-dependant world we are more accustomed to instant gratification when it comes to entertainment and there is something about a video game that offers it. Much like the popularity of personal TV sets in each seat, travelling with a personal gaming device keeps you occupied from take off to landing. Check out these popular gaming devices:

Nintendo DS and DS Lite
With impressive 3D rendered graphics and ultra-bright screens, Nintendo DS Lite makes it easy to play even when the cabin lights are down. It has touch screen technology so no fiddling with buttons and two 3 inch screens so you have more room to play.
Games to try: Legend of Zelda; Brain Age; and Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings

Sony Playstation Portable

The Playstation portable is great for gaming but is also optimized for music, video, photo, internet, and wireless connectivity. It’s like a mini computer for all the stuff you love. The wide screen LCD brings to life the over 135 games available for single player gaming.
Games to try: Madden NFL 08; Naruto Ultimate Ninja Hero; and Grand Theft Auto

PC Gaming
Don’t forget your laptop! Chances are you travel with it anyhow. There are loads of awesome games that you can play right on your PC. It might be a little more cumbersome to lug out on the plane but for those long treks there are lots of great games you can buy for your PC.
Games to try: Flight Simulator X; Age of Empires III – The Asian Dynasties; and Halo 3

If you are all geared up and ready to game there are a few other things you will need to buy:

  • Headset – not everyone on the plane wants to hear you
  • Carrying Case – Check out the various cases that come with your gaming device, it will protect the hardware and keep everything together

Get over it, jetlag tips

Your eyes are burning, feet swollen, legs sore – yup, it’s been a long flight and now you have to suffer through jetlag. Jetlag can include tiredness, dehydration, disorientation, swelling of limbs, colds and flu. From a three hour to 13 hour time difference jetlag is a reality.

According to Wikipedia, “When traveling across a number of time zones, the body clock goes out of sync with the destination time, and so it experiences daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms to which it has grown accustomed. Jet lag occurs because the body cannot immediately realign these rhythms.”

So how do you get your body back in sync? Like everything else, it will entirely depend upon the individual. If you’re a teenager who can drink all night and still get up at 8AM for class, well chances are your clock is off track anyhow. But if you are like the rest of us, try some of these tips:

The British Airways Jetlag Advisor

This is a nifty little tool BA has created to help determine what your sleep patterns are, what time it is in your hometown vs. where you are staying and what you need to do to set your clock right. It depends highly on the theory that jetlag is primarily caused by daylight and darkness. Test out the BA Advisor.

Adjust your in-flight experience

This is by far my favourite solution and is recommended on many travel website. Rob from the Gorp exert advice panel recommends you set your watch to the time of your destination as soon as you board and adjust what you do on the place to match it. For example, if it’s midnight when you board and will be morning when you arrive then sleeping the whole flight will align your clocks better. If the opposite is true, then stay awake for as much of the flight as you can. It is also recommended you align your meals to your destination time. Read full article.

Take a pill

There is a drug for everything. No-Jet-Lag is a homeopathic remedy, a herbal tablet developed in New Zealand that remains popular. Simply chew one tablet before take-off and again at landing. Visit No Jet Lag to find out more.

All about wrinkles. Pack, steam and hang your clothes

I hate ironing. I hate it so much that I actually only have an iron in the house for when my mother comes to visit. However when you travel a long distance with your clothes stuffed in a bag, even the most wrinkle free clothing needs help. Here are some of tried and true methods for keeping your clothes wrinkle free when you travel:

Shower steam it

I’ve seen this many times and it works wonderfully for shirts and dresses. Simply hang your outfit in the bathroom while you take a shower and leave it in there for a short while afterwards with the door shut until the steam subsides. The steam from the shower will help work out any wrinkles or folds in your outfit. This is a simple and practical way to quickly give your outfit a fresh look.

Travel steamer

While the shower steam method is simple and convenient, it doesn’t work out all wrinkles. If you are very determined to eliminate all wrinkles, a Hand held Travel Steamer might be right for you. These handy tools fit nicely in your suitcase and offer you excellent control to work out wrinkles and refresh your clothes on the road. Here are two popular ones:

The hotel iron

Still the most effective is the hotel iron. Most hotels have irons in the room or certainly in housekeeping. Ironing is a pain but there is no question it works.

Hang your clothes

One of the best things you can do when you arrive at your destination is hang your clothes! The sooner you take them out of your suitcase and let them hang, the better they will look when it’s time to wear them.

Pack Smart

Keep your clothes in good shape by packing them right. Check out these handy websites for packing additional tips: