Top 5 Destinations That MUST Be in Your Bucket List to Travel in 2015

“The best way to travel to a destination is; do not decide any particular location, simply pack your bag, and leave… And see where the road takes you!” – Anonymous

Well, this, indeed, sounds a pretty exciting idea to travel the world; however, some planning before starting your journey is always good and helpful. Traveling is one of the most jubilant way to live life (regular travelers would know it!), and it is of utmost importance that you take out time for frequent expeditions. It is understood that, when it comes to deciding a destination to travel, one does face a series of conundrums; “which city?”, “what’ll be the expenses?”, “how long can I stay?”, “is it the best time to visit?” and so on.

Well, that is exactly what I have tried to do in this article. Here is a list of destinations for you to choose from, to start your sojourn. These 5 destinations are some of the most scintillating and enthralling tourist spots in the world, and must feature in your bucket list; have a look.

India

Welcome to the largest democracy in the world. India is a home to a myriad of religions and a perfect blend of modern-traditional lifestyle. Grant Duff, a renowned British historian of India, once said that, “Many of the advances in science that we consider today to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India centuries ago”; that says a lot about this majestic country.

When in India, you don’t have to think about the activities to get indulge in, or places to see. While the northern part welcomes you with snow-capped mountains of the great Himalayas and a lifestyle submerged in Buddhism (Leh & Laddakh), the southern part puts you elegantly in the arms of pure nature’s beauty. And, while, the endless deserts of western zone will fascinate you instead of freaking you out, the vibrant art culture of the eastern states will bind you to its roots. India is a country that can frustrate you to the core, and mesmerize your senses as well. Many travelers, over the years, have been travelling to this country, and every visit is a new experience for them.

The best time to visit: Now, this is a tricky one! India, basically, is divided in three climatic conditions; Hot (March-July), Wet (August-October), and Cold (November-February). Even these conditions vary as you go from North to South, and, thus, traveling time depends on which state you are planning to visit. However, for a better travel experience, it is advised to visit India during its coldest months.

Best things to do: India and its people are immersed in the celebration all year round. With an amalgamation of myriad of cultural and traditional pillars, India and its people are immersed in celebrations no matter which month of the year you visit. Apart from enjoying the festivity, one can indulge in a volunteer program as well. Being a developing country, there are enormous opportunities for you to be a part of the team, which endeavors to lift the living conditions of weaker society.

Australia

There are countries in this world, which are known for some or the other uniqueness of theirs. It can be their beaches, mountains, architectures, culture, and so on. And then there is a country which comes out firm and strong, whose uniqueness and specialty is having, not one, but many specialties; Australia mate! Be it the endearingly cute koalas and kangaroos or the sports fraternity that has removed the word “failure” from their dictionary; Australia is as unique, as lively its people are.

It is a surprise only that a nation, which shows up as a minuscule figure in front of its neighboring Asian countries, yet has so much to admire. The country is burgeoning with some of the best architectural work and natural formations; The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Uluru Rock, and the UNICEF certified heritage site of The Great Barrier Reef, is just to make a mention. The Australian lifestyle is similar to that of the western countries, while the human population and a significant part of the wildlife lives pretty much together.

The best time to visit: While April to September witness the winters in Australia, the temperature starts gaining up by mid of October and reaches to a pretty hot level by December, which remains like that till mid of March month. So, if you are a beach lover and have plans to gulp down the Fosters’ bottle while surfing, summers are the best time for you to visit, although, the majority of tourist footfall happens during the winter season, as it treats you lightly, while you enjoy your sojourn.

Best things to do: Australia is a country, full of sports enthusiast. A game of cricket is something no Aussie would want to miss, while enjoying their mug of beer and cheering for their mates! If your visit happens to clash with a tournament season, get a ticket and enjoy the Australian way. Also, needless to say that The Great Barrier Reef is a place you simply can’t give a miss. Australia, gives you no window to get bored or sit idle.

Spain

Vibrant culture, jubilant people, and uber cool lifestyle; this sums up the region of Spain for you. This European nation may come across to you as a stereotypical developing nation, but has all the ingredients to surprise you to the fullest. More than anything, the country is known and reputed for its lively and upbeat lifestyle and warm-welcoming people. It is interesting to know that, not only does Spain stands second with the most number of UNESCO certified heritage sites, it also takes the first position with the most number of world heritage cities in the world.

While Madrid, the capital city, has a reputation of being a place for amazing night-life and flattering cuisines, Barcelona, Valencia and Cadiz are some of the other cities that have some of the most beautiful and finely constructed buildings.

The best time to go: Spring time in Spain is the best time to explore this colorful nation. The season peaks up in April and goes up till the month of October. And while summers can be a good time as well, especially for beach lovers, it can get a bit more crowded than you would expect. Those who want to enjoy their space in peace and experience the tranquility, must visit during the winters and avoid all the crazy rush.

Best things to do: While the iconic bull fight of Spain is a definite visit, you can indulge in one of world’s craziest and intriguing festivals celebrated in Spain, La Tomatina. Conducted on the last Wednesday of every August in the beautiful city of Valencia, this can be your chance to do something which you might have always wanted to do when you were a kid, throw rotten tomatoes on hundreds other; and be ready to get hit too!

Singapore

Unarguably, one of the most visited tourist nation in the world, Singapore has more than aplenty reasons for you to be there, beautiful city life and magnificent landscapes surrounding the city, is just one of the many. The level and expectation of fun appreciates to an entirely new level when the destination is an island nation and has one of the most enthralling and vibrant archipelagos in the world. Sentosa, the most popular island resort in Singapore, is one place you would never forget your entire life. With a tank full of attraction points; including, two huge golf courses, 14 luxury hotels, a tenacious fort (Siloso), a 2kms long sheltered beach and a theme park of Universal Studios; the island resort has got everything under one roof for you.

The influence of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian culture in Singapore has its results in local food preparations and dishes as well. One can experience the ‘out of the world’ taste from a hot bowl of Bak Kut The (pork ribs soup) even from a small roadside food stall, that’s the level of consistency in taste throughout. The simplest of the dishes, such as a plate of dim sums, will also make you go omnomnom!!!! With so many flea markets, wet markets, malls and local street vendors selling a variety of local artistry and souvenir products, one can burgeon their baggage with shopping items. The Singapore Flyer, a 165 meter tall observational wheel, with 28 air-conditioned capsules, is one of the main tourist attractions in Singapore. Considered to be the answer to The London Eye, the flyer is a great way to see the beautiful island. The robustness of the wildlife, residing in this island nation, reflects from the choice of their national animal, viz., Lion. With over a thousand different species of birds, insects and mammals, Singapore is a walk of heaven for wildlife enthusiasts.

The best time to go: Being an archipelago, the weather in Singapore is mainly warm and humid, which remains constant throughout the year. So, taking the weather into consideration, there is no time boundation to visit Singapore. However, November to early March can be a little cooler than the other months of the year, so that can be a choice. Also, to avoid the heavy tourist traffic and have some space for you, June to October is the perfect time to make a sojourn in Singapore.

Best Things to do: While the capital city of Singapore is a paradise world for any traveler, which can leave an impression for the lifetime, there is no dearth of activities to do in any of the cities or islands of this country. You can spend some family fun time at the Singapore Zoo, or the Jurong Bird Park, while the Singapore Flyer will provide a binocular view of the city. The Sentosa Island is a major attraction point as well.

Philippines

“It’s more fun in the Philippines”; this overwhelming tagline by the tourism department of the Philippines is very much justified with an amalgamation of over 7000 startling islands, covered with plush green tropical rainforest and gigantic volcanoes, and many more reasons. This South-East Asian country is one of the places that have the capability of mesmerizing your senses and take control over you; this archipelago simply redefines the term ‘Natural Beauty’, and takes it to another level altogether.

The food, the traditions, the flora & fauna, the landscapes & architectures, and especially the beaches; everything about the Philippines is worth experiencing and enjoying. With Pacific waters surrounded from all sides, every island in the Philippines has a number of scintillating beaches to choose from. Go to Palawan Island and you have the secret beach and the El Nido beach to mesmerize your wits, at Aklan you have the Boracay beach with crystal clear water and the white sandy shore. It is said that, when in the Philippines you don’t only need to have a strong appetite, but also stringent taste buds to handle the level of tang created due to heavy load of ingredients used in preparing the dishes. With soy sauce, vinegar, pork, rice, and fish sauce being a common participant in most of the signature cuisines, the kitchens of the Philippines are known to serve some extraordinary and innovative platters. Adobo, Sisig, Pork Barbecue, and the very famous street food Balut (talk about extraordinary) are some of the mouthwatering delicacies.

The best time to go: For the best of your travel experience in the Philippines, December to February is just the perfect gap to visit this island country. The months of March to May can be pretty hot and humid, while the heavy monsoon hits the region by July that goes up till November month.

Best things to do: Explore the gigantic and magnificent volcanoes, some of which are active till date. The Mayon Volcano, located on the Luzon Island, is considered to be the most active stratovolcano present in the Philippines; it is fondly known as the ‘Perfect One’, because of its perfect conical shape. The Banaue Rice Terraces and The Chocolate Hills are among the many marvelously maintained landscapes in the Philippines.

How to Get the Most of the National Enquiries Rail Helpline

Network Rail is the owner and operator of Britains railway infrastructure including the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations.

The UK has the fastest growing railway network in Europe with a growth of 36% in business in the last ten years. Network Rail owns over 10,000 miles of track and there are over 1 billion rail journeys made each year with an average of 2.75 million passengers travelling every day.

The National Rail Timetable contains full details of more than 20,000 passenger train services operated by Britains 23 train operating companies across the National Rail network, together with rail and shipping connections with Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and certain European destinations.

National Enquiries Rail remains the official information service for National Rail and provides impartial advice on all aspects of train travel including timetables, fares and buying tickets, live train running updates and other useful information.

If you are looking to buy tickets then it is important that you decide which tickets will suit you best. There are various options open to you including Advance, Off-Peak, Anytime, Season, Rovers and Rangers and if you are travelling around London, an Oyster card may be appropriate. You can speak to the National Enquiries Rail helpline to find which ticket is right for you.

To find the best route and cheapest prices you can use the on line Journey Planner or go through National Enquiries Rail.

You cannot buy tickets online through National Enquiries Rail but you can purchase them from one of the Ticket Retailers shown after you have selected your ticket in the Journey Planner. You can however, buy tickets through National Enquiries Rail over the phone, using the customer services helpline. You can of course also buy tickets through the ticket offices and self service ticket machines at stations.

Railcards and other discounts

Railcards offer good value for money if you travel by train, saving you at least a third on rail fares. 12 month Railcards cost from £18 to £26 each. Other discounts may be available on line or you can call the National Enquiries Rail helpline.

Depending on the type of ticket held, you may be able to make changes to travel plans, or obtain a refund if you are unable travel. To find out more you can go online to the ‘Changing and Cancelling Tickets’ page or call the National Enquiries Rail helpline. If you have an Advance ticket it will not be refundable.

Information for business travelers

National Enquiries Rail offers a lot of information relevant to business travelers. Whether a regular traveler or not, our up-to-date, real-time information can assist you with planning and making your journey.

Travel assistance

If you would like assistance when making a journey, such as help getting on or off a train, ramps for a wheelchair, please contact the Train Company that manages the station you are starting your journey from. Try to give a minimum of 24 hours notice.

Contact the National Enquiries Rail [http://www.customersupporthelplines.co.uk/page/1rshf/Helpline_22-28/Enquiries_Rail_Rail_Enquiries_Helpline.html] Helpline for more information.

National Park Freebies – Ten Tips to Trim Your Travel Budget

Although there’s no such thing as a free lunch, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to visit one of over 400 national parks and recreation areas across America. From free admission and tours, to special programs and even transportation, there’s no shortage of freebies to be had in these beautiful public lands. And although many of these cost-saving deals are well advertised, some are held as closely guarded secrets. With that in mind, here are ten tips to help trim your travel budget on your next national park visit.

  • US Citizens with a permanent disability can get a free Access Pass, which is good for free admission to all national parks, recreation sites, national monuments and wildlife refuges. Passes can be obtained at entrance kiosks, with proof of citizenship and disability. The pass also offers a 50% discount on campsites and boat launch fees.

  • Active members of the military can also get a free annual pass by presenting their Common Access Card or Military ID (Form 1173). This pass is available to members of all branches of the military — including reservists and National Guard members — and it has the same benefits as the Access Pass.

  • Many parks have free cell phone tours. For example, In Olympic National Park, visitors can call (360) 406-5056 to get recorded information on different areas of the park. Consult the park newspaper to see if a cell phone tour is available.

  • If you’re traveling with someone who can’t walk very far, check with the park visitor center, as many times they have manual wheelchairs for loan.

  • Some parks offer free tours on a first-come basis. Over in Zion visitors can take a free 90-minute ranger-led bus tour of Zion Canyon. Seats are limited and can only be reserved in person at the visitor center, up to three days in advance. It’s always a good idea to inquire at the visitor center whenever you visit a park, as that’s how you’ll discover freebies like this.

  • While we are on the subject, rangers are an excellent source of free information, so don’t hesitate to ask them for specific suggestions. On one visit to Yosemite, a ranger clued me in that Washburn Point was an excellent stop for wheelchair-users. This information wasn’t in the park newspaper, but the ranger knew because her brother was disabled.

  • Take advantage of the free shuttle buses in many parks, as they will save you time and frustration. For example, in Bryce National Park parking is limited along the main park road, but folks that take the optional shuttle bus dodge the parking hassle and have more time to enjoy the park.

  • If you have kids in tow ask about the junior ranger program at the main park visitor center. To become a junior ranger a child has to complete activities in the free junior ranger activity book, then have them checked by a ranger. If all goes well, they are sworn in as a junior ranger. It’s a fun way to encourage kids to learn about the natural environment while they explore a park.

  • If you have a fourth grader in the family you’ll be able to save even more money this year, thanks to the Every Kid in a Park Initiative. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service all fourth graders will receive a season pass for their family, good for admission to all parks in the 2015-2016 school year.

  • Last but not least, everybody gets free admission on national park free entrance days. These include the National Park Service Birthday (August 25), National Public Lands Day (September 26) and the first weekend of National Parks Week (mid-April). There’s also no admission charge on Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and Presidents Day weekend.