Camping Tips for a Luxurious, Comfortable Vacation

For a more relaxing and comfortable camping experience, you need not invest in a costly travel-trailer, pop-up camper, or mobile home. A few inexpensive items that are easy to attain can make your tent or campsite a more enjoyable home away from home.

Luxurious camping tips start with your tent! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)

Just follow these steps for a fun and accommodating camping experience!

*Maximize Sleeping Accommodations:

Either before you leave home or as soon as you arrive at your destination, purchase an inflatable air mat at the nearest superstore, convenience store or trading post for each person in your group. The 20 to 30 minutes it takes to blow it up will be well spent as you reap countless hours of peaceful sleep without noticing the bumpy roots, pinecones, stones and twigs below you.

Furthermore, these air mats double as a raft (their true purpose), but in the sense that if some unexpected water seeps into your tent during the night, you remain dry! Use as many blankets and sleeping bags as you like, and when the vacation is over, your couple-dollars’ investment will have been well worth it. Dispose of the air mat prior to returning home or keep it with your camping gear for next time.

*Maximize Cooking and Meal Choices:

Tired of the traditional hotdogs and s’mores over a campfire? With the right tools and food selections, you can cook just about anything your heart desires, from french fries to macaroni and cheese or Ramen noodles. Just follow this quick, easy and inexpensive checklist:

To diversify cooking, bring these items:

Mini Charcoal Grill

Charcoal

Lighter Fluid

Matches

  

An Old Pot or Pan

Tinfoil

Small charcoal grills can be purchased for as little as $10 or sometimes even less. With the grate that comes with the grill, you can make hamburgers, chicken, fish, baked potatoes and much more. Grill a muffin toast a bagel for breakfast.

Having a pot or pan in your inventory allows you to boil water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, make soup, cook noodles and so forth. Place the pot directly on top of the grill, but realize that the flames may discolor its original shine and may also leave an ashy residue. Be sure to bring a spoon and potholders or an oven mitt to avoid burning yourself.

Though it is great for storing leftovers, tinfoil can help you cook smaller items, such as french fries, chicken nuggets or roasted veggies. Cover your grill top with it to reduce the mess made when cooking meats and other meals directly on top of the grill.

Be creative and all of your cravings can be satisfied with the right cooking tools and equipment.

Other items to bring:

Skewers (or gather sticks once you reach your campsite)

Paper plates

Insulated mugs to keep hot drinks warm and cold ones chilled

Utensils

Grill tools, such as tongs, large fork, flipper, etc.

Paper towels

Trash bags

*Maximize Your Living Space:

Staying Dry: Put a tarp below your tent prior to pitching it to help prevent water on the ground from seeping into your living quarters.

   

Also, try to rig a tarp above your tent by suspending it from the trees with rope so that rainfall is diverted away from your tent. Those inflatable air mats you use for better sleeping will also keep you dry in case of a leak (unless it is right on top of you!).

Keep all open food items sealed inside a cooler to avoid encounters with wildlife.

Also, hang your trash bags from a tree branch to keep it away from wildlife.

*Make Your Tent a Home:

Put up indoor/outdoor lights/lanterns to help you and others quickly identify and locate your tent in the dark. A string of small, fun-shaped lanterns would work well—especially when they stand out from those anyone else might use.

   

Bring a CD player or radio so you and your tentmates can enjoy some music.

Don’t forget to bring your own creative additions to make the most of your camping vacation!

Plans for a Perfect Hawaiian Honeymoon – Maui

Luaus are a Must-See in Hawaii!Luaus, barefoot walks along the beach, tropical cocktails as far as the eye can see…. A honeymoon getaway to Hawaii seems to be the perfect place for happy newlyweds! My husband and I enjoyed nine amazing nights in this tropical paradise, and I’m quite convinced we’d still be there living the good life if we could afford it! Here are some of our favorite activities that we would recommend to you if you are able to enjoy your own honeymoon – or any excuse to travel – to Maui!

Chances are, when you go away on your honeymoon, you’ll probably only have between one and two weeks to enjoy your experience to the fullest. If you have more time than that, great news for you! Either way, you’lluaul be sure to soak up every great memory you can. Whether relaxing by the beach or in a cabana by the pool, out on a sailing excursion, helicopter ride, or partaking in any other activity you choose to do, your honeymoon in Hawaii is sure to be an unforgettable time.

Do some research online before you go, or check in with your concierge once you get to the resort for help planning the best activities for you and your new spouse. Consider these activities that we loved, or plan your own itinerary from scratch. Remember, keep some time aside for relaxing and reveling in your recent marriage!

Culture – Attend a Luau!

Don a shell lei and get ready to feast on fabulous tropical fare and pina coladas as deeply as the night is long. Aside from our troublesome flat tire inspired by a bamboo spike, my handsome husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the Wailea Marriott’s Luau.

The food truly was a presentation in and of itself. Male and female performers danced around, displaying each entrée and accompaniment to the luau’s guests before indulging themselves with a tasty bite. The menu ranged from chicken and Kalua pork to mahi-mahi and more. The evening’s beverages were virtually bottomless, as the open bar offered the friendliest of refills.

Performances dropped jaws and prompted camera-happy guests to inch closer and closer to the action. Luau dancers, acrobats, and of course, the world-renown fire knife dancer kept our evening bursting with excitement. The passion and exuberance of the performers really becomes contagious as many of them migrate from the stage down to dance amongst the guests’ tables. If you visit Hawaii for your honeymoon, making the time to visit a luau is my top recommendation for a memorable and exciting dinnertime activity.

For more information on visiting a luau near your resort, please check with your hotel’s concierge.

Keep Reading about Dining…


Romantic Summer Vacation Getaways in the United States

Catch a breath-taking sunset.The warm sand beneath your toes, the gentle lapping of salty water tickling your feet – what could be better than a seashore vacation to escape your cares? In today’s day and age, romantic vacations need not always consist of stereotypical tropical vacations in lively resort towns. Start planning your next summer vacation now – after all, there’s no time like the present to start day dreaming about a wonderful escape from reality!

Your favorite

activities and pastimes pave the way to your ultimate summer vacation. Water sports, hiking and exploring, relaxing and catching a few rays – you and your sweetheart can do it all in any number of vacation destinations across the United States and beyond.

Take in the sights…

Itching to skip the country for a couple of days? Take a blissful trip to Niagara Falls. The falls emit feelings of tremendous exhilaration and wonder. Taking in the sites together and holding hands while strolling through the caverns beneath the falls rouse closeness between couples that visit this romantic attraction.

A cruise on the Maid of the Mist is a must-do, welcoming tiny water droplets upon the heads, faces and clothing of those who choose not to wear a raincoat or poncho. When evening falls, the light show and fireworks displays paint the skies atop the falls, truly inspiring a passionate ambiance all around.

Escape luxury while you’re at it…

For adventurous couples, few things are more amorous than falling asleep in each other’s arms beneath a midnight blue starry sky. A camping trip to a mountainous or lakeside park or campground may be the perfect escape from reality.

Your campsite for two becomes your palace and the hotdogs and bacon you grill over an open flame are the feast of the gods. Roughing it with your sweetie can bring out the softer side of your relationship. Challenge your honey to a fishing contest, make up a goofy scavenger hunt or see who can spot the most exotic wildlife creature. No one else is around to invade your personal moments together, so enjoy your time together and just be yourselves. When night falls, you can relax the hours away, snuggled up close before a crackling campfire.

Get a little wild…

Tired of the same old beach, mountains, resorts? Confer with your sweetie and see about booking a trip with reckless abandon. Check out availability for Las Vegas, New Orleans or another well-known hotspot and prepare to cut loose. Pack some extra cash for the casinos and the nightlife, plan to stay up till all hours and enjoy some fine cocktails and sumptuous meals.

If, however, these two carefree towns present too much of a carefree atmosphere, consider flying out west, renting a car and embarking upon an adventure to visit some great American landmarks! If you’ve yet to see the Grand Canyon or any of the national parks, what better company than your true love to accompany you on the adventure of a lifetime? Be sure to pack a number of US road atlases, credit card for filling up the gas tank and a camera and notebook to document all your wonderful discoveries together.

Take in the scenery...

Too busy for a fulltime getaway? Try a fun daytrip!
Sometimes career paths and personal lifestyles do not always allow for a weeklong vacation from the norm. Don’t shortchange yourself by foregoing a vacation altogether. Plan a few daytrips here and there with romantic activities interspersed throughout your summer. Couples can enjoy each other’s company, even without leaving the comforts of home. Here are a few options if you can’t spare several days away at a time:

• Go horseback riding.

• Challenge your partner to some miniature golf and top it off with some ice cream.

• Find a drive-in movie theatre.

• Go on a “real” date – candlelit dinner and dancing, movie and don’t forget dessert!

• Visit an amusement park.

• Take a daytrip to the seashore and walk along the beach collecting seashells.

• Double date with another couple and plan a night out to a show or concert.

• Organize a picnic for two. Fly a kite for old-time’s sake.

• Visit a local park and take a lazy walk, reminiscing about your times together.

• Check out a museum or attraction you’ve both wanted to see but hadn’t had time.

• Tour a local brewery and have lunch with a fresh brew.

• Cheer on your favorite sports team at an away location.

• Find a quiet place to relax and watch the clouds together.

No matter where you and your sweetheart decide to go for summer vacation, remember that it is your special time together. Put any stress factors and underlying issues out of sight and out of mind. Focus on the closeness of your relationship and how much you care for each other.

Remember to pack a blanket and pillow so you can enjoy the stars and don’t forget a camera to catch some of your vacation adventures on film!

How to Plan a Cruise on a Budget

Don't go overboard on cruise expenses!Downing cocktails as the sun sets…all-you-can-eat seafood buffets… playing a few hands of poker…the most luxurious spa and salon treatments around… Relaxing on a cruise ship provides an escape from reality unlike any other vacation. With some careful planning, you can be on your own cruise in no time!

Casinos, spas and full-service bars are just the beginning. Any cruise you take will more than likely offer music, dancing and other great nightlife, not to mention oodles of shopping and plenty of workshops and seminars. Competitions for real prizes may inspire you to bear your hairy chest or pull off another wild and crazy stunt. A gym or fitness center directly on the boat gives athletes and exercise fanatics no excuse for passing up a cruise.

When planning a cruise, the first thing you’ll want to consider – besides destination and duration – is your budget. You want to ensure that you have enough funding set aside to enjoy your trip to the fullest without foregoing special extras that you might otherwise miss.

Even an all-inclusive cruise may still have some limitations. For example, many extras like your bar drinks, casino capital, beauty salon and spa treatments, tours, photographs and gift shop purchases are considered additional, above and beyond the scope of an all-inclusive package. The balance for these expenditures is generally tacked onto your tab, which goes against your credit card in most cases.

New Jersey residents Dave and Judi D’Imperio avidly plan cruises to different tropical vacations when time and financing permit. The beauty of a cruise is that it often allows you to see several breath-taking destinations, all within the same vacation.

And the amenities really add up! Ample amounts of food, drink and entertainment keep up the pace, while solace and relaxation are never more than a few steps away.

While cruises often may seem like large, extravagant vacations, it is very possible to find a good deal without too much legwork.

“Check search engines for booking a cruise,” Dave says. “There are many discounted Web sites out there. Book at least one year in advance, and you will probably be upgraded to a better cabin.”

  

“If you have a travel agent that you have been doing business with for years, and they specialize in booking cruises, they will be able to get you the best deal,” he adds.

Financing varies from one person to the next and from one cruise to the next. A typical couple traveling on a seven-day cruise without airfare should expect to pay in the ballpark of $1,000 each for booking, which generally includes cabin, food and entertainment. Rates often reflect the length of the cruise, where it is going, and what type of cabin is requested.

Cruise Tips from avid cruisers Dave and Judi:
1. Plan the cruise one and a half years ahead of time in order to save the money.
2. Seek out the destination first, then time of year to travel.
3. Pick the cruise line you prefer. Many cruise lines primarily serve a certain demographic, whether young adults, middle age or retirees.
4. Purchase the most expensive cabin you can afford. Mini-suite balcony cabin with a bathtub will suffice.

For an even more memorable time, invite relatives or friends to join you!

Low-Budget Honeymoon Ideas for Newlyweds

HoneymoonSure, Aruba, Jamaica, Bahamas sound great! But can you still afford a lavish honeymoon after that exceptional wedding celebration? If your funding is limited and you don’t want to go into debt over your head taking out loans, consider an innovative alternative honeymoon trip. You can save the big, extravagant trip for your one-year or five-year anniversary, when you have more money set aside.

In the meantime, here are a few options for an incredible, unforgettable, completely affordable honeymoon extravaganza!

Exotic meets Practical

If you had your heart set on a romantic trip to a remote tropical island, you may not have to give up this beautiful dream. Have you considered an all-inclusive cruise instead?

Cruises in an all-inclusive package can provide a great honeymoon getaway. Your lodging, airfare, transit fees, meals and non-alcoholic beverages are covered in the total price. You will still be responsible for the cost of your off-ship excursions, alcoholic beverages, gift and souvenir purchases, and some special activities and treatments, if desired.Cruises to several islands allow you to enjoy lots on a budget.

Prices depend on the dates and duration of your trip, and some all-inclusive cruises begin under $1,000. You can figure out your budget before you make any plans, and then call a travel agent with your pricing, dates, and specifications in mind. A cruise can be a carefree vacation that explores several remote tropical islands, instead of just one. And best of all, you can often find last-minute deals at a discounted rate.

Unforgettable meets Adventurous

If you don’t have the money to travel Europe or tour a collection of Islands in the South Pacific, consider a local jaunt through some pretty amazing sights and ‘scapes. A road trip to some nearby attractions and not-so-distant national landmarks can be a great way to spend your honeymoon excursion together.

If you live in the USA, consider visits to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, and countless other well-known attractions. If you live in or near Canada, make the trek to Niagara Falls, one of the most romantic wonders of the world. If you live in another country or on another continent entirely, visit a tourism bureau and find some vacation hotspots within a reasonable drive from your home.

As you prepare for your trip, be sure you have plenty of film or memory for your camera, extra batteries, snacks, changes of clothes, and plenty of blankets and pillows so you can lie beneath the midnight sky to count the stars. On that note, consider taking a tent for a true experience in nature.

Paradise meets the Private Getaway

As you already know, the two most important factors in your honeymoon are you and your sweetheart. No matter where you go, no matter how much money you spend, your trip will be special just because the two of you are able to enjoy it together.

With a little imagination, an all-inclusive resort can be a great way to get away from it all. Spend some quality time together on your honeymoon in a remote retreat, like the Pocono Mountains or the Adirondack Mountains.

Adirondacks, Upstate New YorkFind a resort community that meets your greatest romantic expectations. Many of these communities are designed especially for newlyweds and loving couples, with everything the lovebirds could possibly want – from luxurious privacy to lavish meals and amenities, fun activities and more.

Often these private, romantic resorts boast personal hot tubs, saunas, swimming pools, and scrumptious room service offerings. Some may be ski resorts, some may be lakeside communities, and others may be right on the seashore. Find the setting that best suits your desires and sneak away together for a romantic vacation you will never forget!