Traveling

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Finding Your Best Travel Buddy

Picking the best travel buddy is certain to be a tough decision. There are many different things that can be considered to create the happy, relaxed and friendly atmosphere for the duration of a trip. Let's take a look at a few of the important things:

Personality

A great place to start in the search for a travel buddy is to find someone with the same or similar type of personality. Whether you are the relaxed type or those that are constantly on the go and energetic, you will find it benefits to travel with the like-minded companion. Also, the type of activities in the travel plan can influence the travel buddy.

Additionally, it is important to make sure the travel itinerary is able to complement both parties. It will certainly help if the personalities match in this area because a happy-go-lucky person and an organization junkie may have difficulty getting along.

Budget

Many travelers prefer to stay in a decent hotel on their travels and eat at restaurants in the evenings, while others will have no issue with moving from one cheap guest house to the next and eating out or even enjoying the street food scene in certain countries. Instead of getting frustrated with a travel buddy about the cost of travel, it will benefit to have a proper conversation in order to come to a satisfactory agreement before getting on the road.

Shared interests

It will certainly help to travel with a travel buddy that has shared interests if you want to avoid long periods of awkward silence. The ability to keep a conversation going will be very difficult if both parties have completely different interests. For this reason, you will find it benefits to travel with someone who shares one or more of your interests.

Practice runs

A great way to decide if a travel buddy is the right fit for a long trip is to take a practice run. This can simply involve taking a short trip together for the day. It can help to travel to a completely new place for both parties and see if you can both agree on things like finding a preferred restaurant, activities, transportation, etc. It may be necessary to compromise at times, but the all-round experience should still be fun and enjoyable.

Overall, it can take time to find the travel buddy that matches the personality, so the entire process should be carefully planned to minimize issues when traveling.




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15 Cool Activities Kids Can Do At The Beach

For the grown-ups, beaches are great for sun-bathing, surfing, and swimming, but for kids it is more than that. For kids it is a different world altogether. On the beaches, they have all the freedom to use their imagination and to increase the spectrum of their thinking. Here, they can dance, sing, play, dive, surf and do a hundreds thousand activities. Following are few of the exciting activities which one can enjoy with their kids on the beach.

1. Treasure Hunt

This is one of the most loved games for kids. When you have sand all around you, hiding things will become even more interesting. This game can be modified in a number of ways. One of them could be where parents can hide things under the sand and place an identifier on top of it. They can then ask the kids to guess what is there under each identifier. For example, if they have put a Kids Jewellery Box under the sand they can put a bangle over it. The article at the top will be a hint to what is under the sand.

2. Beach Bowling

Creating the bowling pins out of the sand will be the first exciting part of this game, followed by playing a game of bowling with your gang. The re-creation of pins every time will make them even more involved in the game. They can play this game in groups as well, where they can keep rotating the roles of bowling, creating pins etc.

3. Beach Funny Faces

The best way to play with the sand is to show your creativity. You can draw numerous funny faces on the beach. While creating these faces, kids can also play a game where they will talk to each other by making only faces and not speaking. This will encourage them to understand different kinds of human emotions. Who knows? We may get back a totally new set of emoticons invented by these little geniuses.

4. Sun-Dial

This is one of the easiest and simplest activities you can enjoy on a beach. You only need a stick and few pebbles, which you can get easily. Place the stick in the centre in an upright position and place the pebbles around it equidistant from each other in a circle. While chilling out and playing, kids will observe and learn how the motion of the sun is associated with our time system.

5. Sponge-Animal

Let the children understand how a certain object can absorb so much of water and become heavy. First, they can make the sponge-animals absorb water from the sea and then they can play various throwing and catching games with these sponges. When someone catches the sponge, they will be splashed with water.

6. Balloon Fish

Sitting on the sea-shore, one can easily find a couple of fishes closer to shore. Parents can show children some fishes in the sea, and can ask the kids to draw the faces of the fishes which they saw near the shore on the balloons. They can then fill balloons with water and will be happy to see the inflating of their balloon. This will make them understand how things inflate in real world.

7. Passing the Water

This game is played by more than one player. The more people, the more interesting this game will become. The main idea behind this game is to pass the water in one player's glass, to the glass of the person who is standing right behind him. They can make themselves stand in any way. They can either stand one after the other in a straight queue or they can even form a circle.

8. Beach Ball with a Balloon

15 Cool Ways Kids Can Enjoy the Beach8Kids can place one balloon at the center of the towel, and can play a game of catch by making the balloon jump up and down on the towel. The aim will be to save the balloons from bursting.

9. Hide and Seek Castles

First, the kids will have to prepare several castles from sand and will have to name them individually. When the game will proceed, one of the kids will become the finder and rest all will try to hide behind the castle. The Finder will then guess who is behind each castle.

10. Playing with Alphabets/Numbers

The beach can be treated as a large notebook for beginners who have just started learning the alphabet, and numbers. We can help them learn the shapes of different letters and numbers by making them draw the figures on the beach. The moment the sea will erase these drawings, it will be fun for kids to re-draw them, and this will allow them to practice.

11. Beach-Tents

Kids can prepare a small beach-tent out of their bed-sheet, sticks, and some medium-sized pebbles. Sleeping in tents in jungles has always been fun for people in any age group, but one can not take kids into jungle. To make the kids feel like they are in the jungle, parents can decorate their tents in hut-like fashion, and also place some bushes around the tent.

12. Tug-O-War

One of the favorite games for all age groups, this can be played by using a simple item, like rope, and involves a lot of teamwork. The kids will learn how to make strategies to defeat their opponents. Though this game symbolizes strength, good strategies will usually prevail. Parents can include themselves in this activity to keep the game moving, as most of the time, kids will not be able to survive in this game for more than few seconds.

13. Shell-Search

The young Sherlock-Holmes can get hands-on experience searching for different kinds of shells. The person who gets the most shells will be the winner.

14. Music

Here, parents can help their kids identify the sound and rhythm of sea-waves, and how they relate to the sounds that musical instruments make. However, this activity will require quietness and an isolated beach, but the effort to find one will definitely pay-off.

15. Mom's Bucket

This game can be taken as a war between the moms who have brought their children to the beach. The moms are required to hold the buckets 10-15 meters from the shore, and the kids will bring water from the shore to fill the bucket. Whoever fills it up first will be the winner. Here, one can utilize the timing of the waves to reduce the distance travelled to fill up the bucket quickly.




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Southern California's Hidden Gems

Many tourists flock to well-known destinations in Southern California like San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you're looking for somewhere different that's a bit off the radar, check out the following incredible destinations:

The Channell Islands

My husband and I have lived in California most our lives, but somehow missed these spectacular islands that are classified as one of the U.S. National Parks. After seeing some stunning photos on the Internet, we took a short boat ride to Anacapa Island from Oxnard as part of a weekend anniversary trip.

If you decide to go, be prepared and bring supplies. This trip is for adventurous people in good physical shape. You will need to climb 157 stairs to the top of this rugged little island where there is no food, services, water, or flushing toilets. Now, I HATE outhouses, but I'm telling you - the views of the rocky shoreline, massive cliffs, and jagged peaks were worth it. You can easily hike around the rim of the island in just hours with Inspiration Point a grand reward for your efforts.

We visited in June when bursts of bright wildflowers covered the small island and thousands of adorable baby sea gulls were to be found around every corner. Just beware of their protective mamas who will swoop at your head if you get too close.

We returned a couple of years later and visited the larger Santa Cruz Island for an exciting kayak tour of the historic sea caves. On the boat ride there we saw a whale and two large schools of dolphins. The waters can be rough at certain points, but the caves were amazing. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Some people consider these islands desolate, but if you have an adventurous spirit and love nature, the Channell Islands are considered the Galápagos of North America.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens

This is yet another stunning place that we failed to visit for decades. Located in Pasadena, the magnificent estate is home to more than a dozen spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres. Hard to say which garden is the most dazzling, but the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the California Garden are a few of my favorites.

We didn't even get a chance to check out the art galleries. The Huntington Art Gallery, houses 18th- and 19th-century British paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, and includes the famous Blue Boy. And to my shame as a writer, we did not visit The Huntington Library itself, one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States.

Next time.

Ventura County Wine Trail

Napa may get all the attention as wine country in California, but my husband and I enjoyed sipping our way through the coastal rolling hills near the seaside town of Ventura. We visited two of the nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms.

You can book one of the many wine tours offered. However, we decided to get a map and explore on our own. Beginning in Ventura at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 101, we drove up Highway 33 toward Ojai.

Surprises await on this somewhat lonely but charming road - from the "USA's Smallest Post Office" to the last place anyone saw James Dean alive. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery which felt like returning to a simpler place and time where friendly folk and dogs welcomed us. We enjoyed our purchased bottle of wine and a picnic outside on tables enjoying the Americana view.

By the way, both Ojai and Ventura are worthwhile stops with charming inns, luxurious spas, and bed & breakfasts along with a wide array of outdoor activities. In the summer time, the Ventura Harbor Village is a hubbub of activity with festivals and live music on the weekends.

Laguna Beach

This charming beach town is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 20 different scenic coves, this beach area offers everything from surfing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching excursions.

Just beware, the surf can be rough in places. As a teenager, I decided to body surf despite the churning waters and wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys' song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!). Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this entire mishap since they went and romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with songs I grew up on like Surfer Girl. SO their fault.

However, the scenery can't be beat. Add ultra-chic restaurants and shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries and you get the picture. There's even a Baby Boomer Club with Saturday Night dances. Every summer, they host the Laguna Woodstock where baby boomers party like its 1969.

Heisler Park is a good place to start, located just north of the main beach, with an easy half-mile stroll along a paved path with spectacular views of the coastline and the soothing sound of crashing waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and tide pools. Benches, picnic tables, and barbecues abound where you can enjoy the magnificent views. Hubby and I had a picnic on one of the grass areas and it was perfect!

Treasure Island Park is another great spot, located on the grounds of the five-star Montage Laguna Beach, where the truly rich stay. Exquisitely landscaped, several lookout benches line the easy-to-walk winding path. Stairways and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through a beautiful rock archway during low tide, find a spot in the sand for sunbathing, and a large tide pool. In addition, there is plenty of grass areas for a picnic. I'd suggest bringing some wine and cheese to catch a romantic sunset.

Big Bear Lake

I live in the desert, so nearby Big Bear is a great mountain escape with its gorgeous lake and pristine forests. Boating, fishing, and hiking are just some of the activities in this small, laid-back village.

Last summer, my husband and I cycled around the lake, enjoyed a picnic, zipped down an alpine slide, drove go-karts with speeds up to 30 m.p.h., and took a ride on the scenic sky chair for terrific views. After watching people take the chair lifts to mountain bike down the trails, we put this on our to-do list for next time.

For the adventurous at heart, parasailing and ziplining are also available.

El Matador Beach

Looking for a spectacular shoreline with white sands, towering cliffs, crashing waves, and craggy rock formations in a semi-hidden location?

Look no further than El Matador, located north of Malibu off the winding Pacific Coast Highway. It's easy to miss the small, brown sign pointing toward the small parking lot at the trail-head, so watch carefully between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. Once you find it, be prepared to hike down a 150-foot bluff with the help of some steep stairs.

Not for small children or those who are physically challenged, but if you can make it down the steps you'll be treated with breathtaking views. The locals know about this beach and you may see some photo shoots taking place - we did!

There is blissfully little to do on this small but glorious stretch of beach, so bring a picnic lunch or some wine and find a hidden nook to enjoy an incredibly romantic setting.

Redondo Beach

By now, you've probably noticed that my husband and I are beach bums. We found this beach on accident while looking for a nearby place to stay the night before flying out of LAX the next morning.

The Redondo Pier is a landmark with panoramic ocean views and water activities that include harbor cruises, seasonal whale watching, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. Truth be known, we didn't try any of these out, but we loved the views from Tony's on the Pier where we enjoyed Happy Hour!

The pier is also home to a 16-foot great white shark affectionately known as Georgette, on display in a large tank at Shark Attack on the Pier. If you have grandchildren with you or are young at heart, you may enjoy the semi-submersible yellow submarine (darn, now I've got the Beatles song stuck in my head) for underwater viewing of the local sea life.

Sure beats staying at an airport hotel if you're flying to or from Los Angeles.

Catalina Island

This island is more well-known than some of my previous recommendations, but a sentimental favorite. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 40 years ago and have returned several times. This is a small, quaint island, with no stoplights or fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam involves two golf carts and a bicycle built for two.

On our honeymoon, we blissfully rode bikes around Avalon, went horseback riding, toured the famous casino, and sunbathed on the small beach. We also took a bus to Two Harbors, the only other village on Catalina Island. Snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, glass bottom boat rides, paddleboarding, Segway tours, golfing, and hiking are other popular activities.

Decades later, we sailed our boat to the island from Long Beach - which turned out to be one wild ride. My husband and grown children returned again for our open-water dives to become scuba-certified amid the famous kelp forests surrounded by the bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time we visit, I want to try the new zip-line that's 600 feet above sea level with one run that is 1,100 feet long with speeds up to 30 m.p.h. Wheee!

As you can tell, Southern California has so many great places to visit, it's impossible to list them all. But hopefully I've given you some ideas to get you started!




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