If you have ever considered driving around England, Scotland or Wales then you need to do a little bit of planning before you set off on your epic road trip. I should know, I have driven through the highlands of Scotland and finding the right vehicle for your trip is paramount. Use my travel tips below for help picking the right car for driving in Scotland for your next adventure.
Picking the right car for driving in Scotland
The scenic drives in Scotland are some of the best in the world. Whether you head up into the mountain passes of the Scottish Highlands, out to the Isles, or along either of the stunning coasts, you need to be comfortable in your car.
It is surprising how long it actually takes to drive around Scotland if you decide to get off the main tourist trails. And this is something I highly recommend doing. Sure you could buzz along the main highways, but where is the fun in that?
You are unlikely to discover the villages and people that make Scotland amazing fro road trips. Plus you won’t get the chance to see the cutest Highland cows in the world either.
Comfort should be your first priority when picking the right car for driving in Scotland. While you may want to pinch and save your money while travelling, you also don’t want to be suffering from cramp and claustrophobia after driving for 6 hours.
Especially if there are 5 of you crammed into a 2 door hatchback as you road trip up to one of the many festivals in Scotland.
For just a couple of extra dollars a day you can usually upgrade to a much roomier 4 door saloon or 4×4. Plus if you end up with a 4×4 then you are going to have the chance to explore some of the more remoter destinations in Scotland.
If you are planning on spending a few days/weeks driving in Scotland then you might want to consider picking a caravan (campervan or RV). While there are plenty of amazing Bed and Breakfasts throughout Scotland, having a caravan gives you the freedom to stay where you like, when you like.
Especially if you go for one of the caravans with a mini-kitchen and bathroom/shower area. That way you are fully self-contained and don’t have to worry about picking the wrong place to stay late at night.
You might just want to consider checking out the Caravan Club to make sure you have the right insurance before you hit the road.
If you hire a car in New Zealand, then chances are you are going to end up with some old hunk-of-junk. A lot of our cars are Asian imports and therefore not quite up to the same style standards as some European cars.
Scotland is different.
Therefore if style is what you are interested in then you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. Instead of having a little Honda hatchback you will instead have the option of a VW Golf or similar. European styling is usually just that little bit better.
The final point you want to consider when picking the right car for driving in Scotland combines all of the above; price.
There is no point picking the largest and most beautiful car if it is going to cost you a fortune. When I drove across North America I had to resort to eating peanut butter sandwiches every day for lunch. I can tell you know that I grew very sick of peanut butter!
I was very tight with my budget and therefore couldn’t enjoy some of the smaller things at the time. Even a simple cup of coffee was ruled out because of my budget.
Making sure that you budget for everything involved in renting a car, including car insurance and fuel, means that you may need to set your bar a little lower. If you spend it all on the car then you are going to miss out on having the best time.
Ultimately, your road trip through Scotland shouldn’t be about looking good or picking the right car. It should be about the adventure, the people you meet, and the scenery you see. Because I can guarantee you won’t be talking about what car you picked when you tell all your friends about your adventure.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO SINGAPORE
If you are looking for one of the most dazzling and beautiful places in the world to visit, Singapore comes to mind. Over the years, the city’s accolade of historic culture, luxury buildings, skyscrapers, hotels, tourist sites, and lifestyle has created a deep craving in many travelers.
If you’re one of those travelers craving to visit Singapore, you need to consider the following key things before making your plans:
1. Singaporean Visa
Travelers from countries such as China, Russia, India, Armenia, and North Korea are required to have an e-visa. If you are from Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Yamen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Somalia and the like, it is required to have a visa vignette attached to your passport. Your Singaporean visa can be acquired through the embassy or a visa agent.
Citizens of the United States of America, the European Union, Australia, Norway, South Korea, and Switzerland are free to enter Singapore without a visa for 90 days. Aside from these, all travelers need to have their citizenship passports.
There are many exquisite and world-class hotels in Singapore, each with competitive prices and services. Instead of trying to search them all out on Google, you can easily check, review and select the best hotels at this hotel booking platform. They offer honest pricing, multiple payment options, real customer reviews, best prices and amazing discounts that enhance your trip.
You can get local and international dishes from restaurants around. It can be a bit expensive. So, you can also consider hawker streets for affordable food prices. Alcohol is generally expensive in Singapore. After 10.30 pm, it’s not allowed to buy or drink alcohol in public. However, you can enjoy it in your hotel room, pub or restaurant.
4. Lifestyle & Safety
Smoking and vaping in public are illegal in Singapore. It can only be done in restricted zones. Chewing gum is also not allowed. The climate is either warm or humid. So, you need to wear light and breathable cloths while going for the tour. With transport, you have various options: taxi, train or public transport. The city is very peaceful, disciplined and crime-free. Therefore, there’s no need to worry so much about your safety. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry along your travel first aid kit.
5. Tourism & Leisure
If your aim is to spend your holiday in Singapore, there are a host of attractive tourist destinations. There are countless places for entertainment, swimming, beach riding, skating, sightseeing, relaxation, meditation, and leisure. Some of them are Gardens Bay, Sentosa Islands, SEA Aquarium, USS, ArtScience Museum, and the Singaporean Zoo.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About China
The People’s Republic of China is an amazing country, with an ancient history steeped in wonder and so many modern marvels to explore. This fascinating and unique country is the most populated country in the world, as well as one of the largest by land mass.
Many of the people who live here still abide by their traditional Chinese culture, but the country has always been at the forefront of innovation too, graduating more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students than any other country in recent years.
You probably already know that China is the world’s longest continuous civilization, that its Great Wall is the largest manmade structure on the planet (but contrary to popular belief, is not visible from space), and the Silk Road is the oldest and longest trade route ever; however, did you know that China is also responsible for the creation of our modern decimal and binary systems, algebra, geometry, and the discovery of the human circulatory system?
Did you also know that 1.7 million pigs are consumed daily in China and that one weird delicacy is ‘urine eggs’ which are eggs boiled for 24 hours in the urine of young boys? Neither did we! Here are ten more amazing facts about China that you probably didn’t know:
China has only one time zone
Despite being the third-largest country in the world by square mileage (China is almost as wide as the US) and technically spanning five time zones, the whole country has operated under one single time zone since 1949, when ‘Beijing Standard Time’ was made official by the Communist Party. That means when it’s 6am in Beijing, it’s also 6am across the other side of the country – even though the sun won’t rise for approximately three hours.
Most schools, transport services, and other Government services in the westernmost region of Xinjiang obey Beijing time, while many local businesses stick to their own time. This means kids are walking to school by starlight, while later, some locals are getting caught up in rush hour traffic… at 7pm!
Chinese new moms are meant to ‘sit’ for four weeks
You might have heard that couples in China need to apply for a ‘Family Planning Certificate’ to have a baby, but did you know that after the birth, new moms are customarily meant to stay in confinement for a month?
This tradition – called ‘Sitting the Month’ – involves the new mother resting in bed for a month, not exposing herself to people or any conditions that may cause stress, such as exertion, cold weather, emotional stress, and traditionally, even water!
Being physically wet was thought to pose a health risk to the mother, as she may catch a cold if she’s exposed to these elements through bathing and hair washing. Thankfully, avoiding water is less often practiced these days, but mothers (and sometimes fathers) still regularly participate.
The confinement is designed to give the mother rest and recover from the birth, ensure both her and her baby aren’t exposed to unnecessary threats, improve breastmilk production and strengthen the maternal bond.
Soccer was invented in China
The ancient Chinese not only invented paper, gunpowder, printing and the compass, but they also invented the concept of soccer (or football, if you prefer). The game of ‘cuju’ – which means ‘kick the ball with foot’ – was regularly played during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). The popularity of cuju then spread to neighboring countries and the rest is history!
You can’t access western websites in China
While China is undoubtedly a captivating country with unsurpassed beauty, fascinating history, and amazing people, the current Government don’t really want to dilute it all with western influence, so they have created a state of heavy censorship, banning many western internet sites.
If you were considering a visit to China, don’t expect to be able to browse Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Reddit sites, just to name a few – these have been blocked by what many have dubbed the ‘Great Firewall of China’.
The Government have even attempted to block methods for circumventing their firewall, including blocking the use of many VPNs. Thankfully, it’s still really easy to bypass this firewall using VPNs, but only if you know which ones still work! If you want to know which VPNs to use to get through China’s firewall, visit vpnMentor’s article ‘9 Best (Still Working in 2019) VPNs for China – 3 Are FREE’ and enjoy some internet freedom in China.
The Chinese heavily censor their film industry
There is no film rating system in place in China, but that doesn’t mean it’s a haven for 12-year-olds who want to watch adults only films. Films are censored for the same reasons as the country’s internet.
Instead of ratings, there is a 36-person committee who ensure nothing untoward or inappropriate makes it through to Chinese audiences. When they find something too raunchy, violent, flamboyant or insulting to China, they simply cut the entire scene out of the film before releasing it to the public!
These cuts include the famous nude painting scene in Titanic being removed, a whole minute of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ being cut due to a man-on-man kissing scene and drug use, as well as 13 minutes of ‘Men In Black 3’ being removed because it featured an alien disguised as a Chinese person. If you’re in China and want to watch any censored films, you can use one of the VPNs mentioned here.
Chinese manners are a little different
Many countries think burping after a meal shows that the meal was delicious and is a sign of good manners, while other countries don’t blink an eye at spitting in the streets. There are also plenty of people who don’t think yawning wide or grunting are rude – in China, all of these are totally acceptable while eating!
Even more interesting is the country’s lack of diaper use. Older babies and toddlers who are able to use a potty don’t wear them. Instead, they wear special pants with a split in the rear and when they need to go potty, they squat wherever they feel like it and go. We don’t just mean outside either. It’s acceptable for the youngest Chinese citizens to poop or pee wherever they feel the need to, inside or out!
China is full of cavemen
Not really, but close! Due to inheritance, tradition and sometimes poverty and lack of affordable housing, an estimated 35 million Chinese people live in caves. The majority live in the yellow, porous cliffs and hillsides of the Loess plateau in Shaanxi province. The Government has attempted to move them on but the long-term residents love their cave homes and refuse to budge.
The Chinese do actually eat canine meat and also invented the first ice cream
Most people have heard the rumor that Chinese people eat dogs and this is actually no rumor. In the city of Yulin for one day per year, the residents celebrate the summer solstice by eating dogs bred for this purpose. The dog meat is eaten as a tradition that started 4000 years ago.
Another ancient tradition that started around the same time is the milk-based treats that the Chinese invented, made with yaks milk and rice and cooled with saltpeter (potassium nitrate) and snow poured on the outside of the containers. Yes, these were the first milk-based ice treats most similar to what we now think of today as ice cream.
The Chinese are masters of war
You may think that large gas and chemical weapons are a fairly modern invention, but the Chinese were actually the first to poison people on a mass scale, with incendiary weapons being reportedly used as early as 200BC according to Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’.
There were also reports of arsenic gas bombs being used by the Chinese as early as 1000BC and their war history is littered with similar references and hundreds of recipes for weapons of mass destruction, like the supernatural -sounding ‘soul-hunting fog’. They may have also been the first country to utilize covert spy operations, as they invented kites to gather military intelligence about 3000 years ago.
The Art of War is itself a bible of warfare tactics and many strategies from the book are still used today. While the Chinese have always been ruthless to their enemies, they aren’t completely war oriented – Shanghai was the only port in the world who were accepting Jewish people without visas during the holocaust.
China has the World’s largest army
The Chinese aren’t only masters of war historically, but they are also well-prepared for any future combat. The People’s Liberation Army boasts the largest number of soldiers on the planet, with more than 2 million soldiers. It also has the second largest defense force budget and is almost considered a military superpower.
Why 2019 Is the Best Time to Visit Japan
It would be easy to argue that there is no bad time to visit Japan. With a centuries-old culture, some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and stunning natural beauty, there is a reason that “travel to Japan” appears on so many bucket lists.
That being said, there are several reasons why 2019 is shaping up to be the best time to finally book that vacation to the Land of the Rising Sun. In fact, Japan itself is working hard to attract more tourists, with a stated goal of bringing 40 million people to visit the country by 2020. So, grab your passport and pack your bags, because now is the time to go.
1. Beat the Olympic Crowds
Tokyo won the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, meaning that hundreds of thousands of athletes and spectators will be descending upon the tiny island nation during July and August of 2020 — and beyond. Hotels are already filling up for dates around the Games, making 2019 the ideal time to travel to Japan if you want to avoid crowds. Construction of some Olympic venues is still ongoing, but the country has already invested in infrastructure, entertainment and more to attract tourists. This year will be your chance to see Japan at its finest without the huge crowds and high prices that the Olympics will undoubtedly bring.
2. New and Exciting Accommodations
When Tokyo won the Olympic bid, it did so despite a projected shortage of 41,000 hotel rooms throughout the country. As a result, since 2013, there has been significant investment in hotels and other accommodations, to the tune of approximately $4.9 billion. This investment includes constructing new hotels, as well as expanding and upgrading existing facilities. Travelers have more options than ever before when it comes to finding a place to stay, with options ranging from familiar Western-style hotels to Japanese inns and beds and breakfasts that offer a glimpse into Japanese culture along with a place to stay.
3. Improved Attractions
Japan has no shortage of attractions for tourists, but with the renewed focus on attracting visitors from outside Asia, the government has made some significant changes to major attractions to make them friendlier to visitors. For instance, in 2016, the Japanese government opened the Akasaka Palace in the heart of Tokyo to the public for the first time ever. Built as an Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince in 909, since the mid-1970s this European Baroque-style palace has been used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries. A similar palace can be found in Kyoto and was also opened to the public in 2016.
Japan’s leaders have also taken steps to make the country’s national parks more appealing to foreign visitors. During the multi-year initiative, the Ministry of the Environment has taken steps to more effectively market the parks to foreign visitors and made improvements within the parks themselves, such as adding new signage and information in multiple languages and making it easier to access especially scenic areas. With all of these preparations expected to be in place by the beginning of 2020, 2019 is a great time to enjoy them without major crowds.
4. Eased Travel Restrictions
Currently, travelers coming from 66 countries worldwide — including the U.S. — can enter Japan without a visa. In fact, Japan has recently eased visa restrictions for multiple Asian countries, including China, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as India, and seen a significant increase in tourism as a result. Americans wishing to visit Japan can do so with a valid passport and return ticket and stay up to 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for the entire length of your stay in Japan, and you should expect to be photographed and fingerprinted when you enter the country. Otherwise, there aren’t any visa requirements for U.S. tourists.
In 2016, Japan also changed the rules regarding tax-free shopping for tourists. Generally speaking, items purchased by tourists to take home are tax free, provided that you meet certain restrictions. Shopping tax-free also requires carrying your passport with you while you shop, but it can save you a significant amount of money. Shopkeepers are familiar with the rules and can help you.
Japan is going to great lengths to attract new visitors in the coming years. With all of these tourist-friendly changes taking place, it’s easy to see why 2019 is the best time to visit Japan.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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