Preparing For The Travel Of A Lifetime

Preparing For The Travel Of A Lifetime

If you are thinking about going on some kind of long trip abroad, there are a lot of things that you generally need to do in order to really get ready for it. No matter how much or how little you might have traveled in the past, being prepared is going to be a vital part of the process, and the longer you are going away for, the more there is to prepare in general. In this post, we are going to take a look at a number of the most important things that you need to prepare before you go on the trip of a lifetime. You might be surprised at how many of these there are, and how important they really are.

Start Early

One of the major rules of thumb that are worth considering is that you need to start as early as you possibly can. The earlier you start, the more likely it is that you are going to be able to get everything planned right, so this is really something to bear in mind. If you are struggling to get started, perhaps because you are not quite sure where to begin, then you should simply start with the first thing that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do so, and the sooner you do it, the more likely it is that you are going to really be able to prepare for the trip as well as possible.

Drawing Up An Itinerary

You need to make sure that you have some kind of itinerary at the end of your planning, so that you know what you are going to do and when. This can either be rough or it can be very detailed indeed – either are fine, it’s just about making sure that you do it in a way which is comfortable for you, as some people prefer one way and other people prefer the other way. In any case, be sure to draw up your itinerary in whatever level of detail you want before you go away, and to ensure that you are continually adding to it and updating it as your plans evolve – which they will inevitably do. This is the sensible way to approach making plans for travel, as you can be sure that things are liable to change from time to time, no matter what.

Prep The Home & Family

As much as thinking about what you are going to do on the trip and all that this entails, you also need to make sure that you are prepping the home and the family too, including both those who are going with you and those who might be staying at home. If you have elderly relatives who are staying at home, for instance, make sure that they are being looked after, whether that means calling in other people for help or making use of a senior meals program to ensure they are fed. This is going to be hugely important before you go away.

Likewise, you should ensure that the home is going to be ready to be left for a while. This is less important if someone is staying there, but if they are not you should make sure that the home is ready. That means keeping it safe and secure, perhaps using a timer to make it look as if someone is home at certain hours of the day to deter burglary and break ins. This is essential if you are going to ensure you are not worrying the whole time while you are travelling.


Of course, a trip of a lifetime is not going to be a cheap endeavor, and you need to make sure that you are planning for the financial side of things too. How you do that all depends on what your personal situation is, but you can be sure that it is vital to plan out how much it is going to cost, with a reasonable upper limit assumption on that. That way, you are much less likely to get yourself into trouble, and you should find that you are able to afford the whole trip without having to worry too much.

If you can keep on top of all of these things, you are going to find that the trip of a lifetime is much easier to plan and to make come true. There are few things more rewarding than travel, so this is really important to think about.

Virtual Tour of 5 Haunted Castles & Mansions

Virtual Tour of 5 Haunted Castles & Mansions

Ancient castles complete with turrets, keeps, moats, and of course a resident ghost or two are steeped in history, myths, and folklore.  It’s no wonder the mere mention of castles sets everyone’s imagination on fire and causes the hairs on the back of our necks to stand up.  Every self respecting castle in the world boasts a ghost, ghoul, or demon; and if they don’t they should!

The world certainly has no shortage of haunted castles and mansions.  Many of them are made famous by their other worldly residents who are busy perpetrating paranormal activities on hapless visitors and avid paranormal investigators.  So whether you’re a paranormal investigator or just someone who enjoys getting scared out of your wits there’s a haunted castle out there waiting for you to explore.

Of course actually visiting a haunted castle or mansion may not be feasible these days when travel has become difficult and quite restrictive.  But remember you can always visit them virtually from the safety of home and the comfort of your couch.

To get  you started on your virtual journey here are 5 virtual tours of some of the most famous castles and mansions in the world.  They are by no means the only famous haunted castles, but they’ll whet your appetite for more!

Dracula’s Castle

Nestled in the hills of Romania on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia is Bran Castle.  Popularly called Dracula’s Castle because it’s one of the castles in the area that are loosely linked to the Bram Stoker’s horror classic called Dracula.

There’s no evidence that Stoker had this castle in mind as the setting for his novel. But the castle is loosely associated with Vlad the Impaler of Wallachia whom it is believed was the inspiration to Stoker’s undead character.  Despite this tenuous connection the castle is still widely known as Dracula’s Castle and visitors may still expect it to be haunted by something.  And why not the castle is ancient!  Built in sometime in the 13th. or 14th. century the castle surely has a resident spectre or two!

Edinburgh Castle

Built in the 9th. Century this Scottish fortress has seen many bloody battles.  It’s dark dank dungeons was where horrific acts of torture were perpetrated on countless people.  It’s no wonder that this ancient historic castle is said to be one of Britain’s most haunted.  And believe me Britain has no dearth of haunted castles!

By the way this castle is located on a hilltop above the town of Edinburgh, said to be the most haunted town on eairth!

Winchester House

Located in San Jose, California Winchester House was once home to Sarah Winchester the widow of the firearms magnate William Wirt Winchester.

Overwhelmed with grief from the death of her husband and child Sarah Winchester is believed to have built this huge mansion compete with 160 rooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces, 6 kitchens, and more, to appease the spirits that had fallen to the famous Winchester rifle.

Surely a house this creepy is haunted by several unhappy spirits!

Villa de Vecchi

Located in the town of Cortenova in the mountains of Northern Italy this now abandoned villa is said to be one of the most haunted houses of Italy.

It was built for Count Felice de Vecchi between 1854 and 1857.  It is said to be the scene of several murders and suicides including the horrific deaths of the count’s wife and daughter.



France’s most popular chateau Versailles is said to be haunted by none other than King Louis the XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

It’s no wonder these two haunt their chateau which was once the royal  seat of French kings since it was built by Louis XIV in 1682.  It was the royal residence for just under 100 years when the monarchy came to an abrupt end during the French Revolution.  Bothth the King and Queen were executed by guillotine at the Place de la Revolution in 1793.

Which was your favorite haunted castle?  Or do you have one that isn’t on this post?




Become An Expat Expert: Your Guide To Moving Abroad

Become An Expat Expert: Your Guide To Moving Abroad

It’s certainly an exciting thing when you have decided to move abroad. No matter what country you might be coming from, or where you intend to end up, there is so much to look forward to, and if nothing else it is likely going to constitute one of the most exciting periods of your life to date. But it is also potentially fraught with stresses and difficulties, and it’s certainly wise to be as well-prepared as possible before you set off. Take a look at the following tips on how to move abroad.

Know Your Requirements

Wherever you plan to move, there are always going to be requirements when it comes to the paperwork. You need to check what the visa situation is going to be, first and foremost, and also make sure that you are aware of any restrictions regarding where you are moving from and where you are moving to. Be sure to look into all this far in advance, as that way you are going to be able to get it right, and not land yourself in any trouble further down the line.

Transporting Your Family

If you are moving solo, in many ways a lot of the process is going to be much easier. But if you are moving with your entire family, there are many things that you might need to look into if you are going to make sure you get it right. For one thing, there is the added cost of transporting your entire family, so make sure you count that in your moving budget. Then there is the issue of pets – if you need to have your cat transported safely, for instance, you will likely need the help of professionals who specialise in that area. You can view quotes on that online and go from there.

Planning To Settle In

After you have moved, you are going to have to find a way to properly settle in, and that in itself can be a very difficult thing to get right. There is going to be so much that you have to consider, and it might at first be challenging to know what to look into. The best move you can make is to plan it all out first in as much detail as possible, which will of course require plenty of research on your part before you actually move. As long as you know about how to set up the utilities, how to pay rent and so on, you are going to find it so much easier once you are out there.

Finding Your Way In The Culture

At first you might experience some degree of culture shock, depending on the nature of the transition and where you are going from and to. You just need to bear in mind that it is always going to take a while to find your way in the culture, but you will get there eventually, and in a way it is one of the most exciting parts of the journey. So get ready and try to enjoy the ride.

Virtual Tours of 5 of the World’s Creepiest Cemeteries

Virtual Tours of 5 of the World’s Creepiest Cemeteries

Nothing is creepier than a midnight stroll through a cemetery on Halloween.  I’m sure anyone with or without much imagination will find the experience to hair raising and chilling.

Exploring old cemeteries is a hobby for many people although most of the exploration is done during the day.  A while back grave rubbings were all the rage and why not many of the old tombstones have some interesting epitaphs.

But of course the Halloween season is probably the time when folks looking for things that go bump in the night will take walking tours thru some of the world’s most famous and of course haunted cemeteries.

This year travel is difficult and most I imagine would prefer to avoid crowded tours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore some of the world’s creepiest cemeteries virtually.  Here are 5 famous or perhaps infamous cemeteries you can wander thru without ever leaving the safety of your home or the comfort of your couch.  You may want to take it with friends and not just before bedtime.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Located on the east bank of the Hudson River  just 30 miles away from the bustle of New York City in Westchester County is the village called Sleepy Hollow.  This village is in the town of Mount Pleasant.  It is the setting for Washington Irving’s short story titled the Legend of Sleepy Hollow which features the infamous headless horseman.

Washington Irving lived in nearby Tarrytown in his house named Sunnyside.  He is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery along with a lot of Rockefellers, Andrew Carnegie, Elizabeth Arden, and Leona Helmsley.  The cemetery and the village have attracted tourists since 1900 and continue to do so today.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

New Orleans is said to be America’s most haunted city so it’s no wonder that some of the world’s most haunted cemeteries are located there.

Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District is the most historically significant and most haunted cemetery in NOLA.

Founded in 1833 the cemetery is still active today.

Paris Catacombs

When Parisian cemeteries became overcrowded in the 18th. Century the remains of over 6 million people were transferred to this underground ossuary (a vessel or site that houses skeletal remains).

The remains are stacked along curing dead end tunnels creating an underground maze that has become one of the scariest places in the City of Light.

Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo

Italy has no shortage of spooky catacombs but this one is located on the island of Sicily in the city of Palermo.

Originally intended as the final resting place of Capuchin priests it became a status resting place for residents when others were permitted to be concealed there.

8,000 corpses in varying stages of decomposition panel the walls.  Visitors have claimed to have heard whispers and whistles; some of them have claimed to have returned to a section only to find that some remains have shifted positions.

Highgate Cemetery

One of the “Magnificent Seven” Highgate Cemetery was the third burial ground to be built out side London.  It was built in 1839.

It is the final resting place of many historic and famous people including Karl Marx and George Michael.  It is also one of the most haunted places in the world.

Starting with the Highgate Vampire there are a host of spectre, ghost, ghouls, and devils that many have claimed to have seen in the vast cemetery and the small alleys surrounding it.

Seen enough spooky places yet?  If not check out my article about Haunted Places in 50 States!



Virtual Tours of 5 of the World’s Spookiest Places

Virtual Tours of 5 of the World’s Spookiest Places

There’s a chill in the air, days are getting shorter, leaves are falling, and the spicy scents of autumn fill our homes.  That can only mean it’s almost Halloween and we’re all in the mood to get just a little bit scared.

This time of year we usually list some of the scariest places you can visit to get in the Halloween spirit and possibly get the pants scared off you!  But travel is challenging these days and physically visiting anywhere may not be possible.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take virtual tours of some of the world’s scariest places.  That’s right you can visit some of these places without ever leaving the safety of your home or the comfort of your couch!

Here are Virtual Tours of 5 of the world’s spookiest places, I’m sure you’ll find one that will send chills up your spine!


Near the Ukrainian town of Pripyat the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor exploded in 1986.  This disaster forced thousands to evacuate and the town became a ghost town.

It’s no wonder it’s one of the spookiest places on earth.  In recent times under very strict safety protocols visitors have been allowed to visit on day trips.  I’m not sure if these tours have resumed, but honestly the safest way to “explore” these ruins is virtually.

This YouTube video will take you on a virtual tour of the abandoned town and will even let you travel inside derelict buildings still filled with the evacuees belongings.

RMS Queen Mary

Docked in Long Beach, California this luxury liner turned into a luxury hotel is said to have been haunted since its maiden voyage. I’m certain that having 60 people die on board since 1936 plays a big role in earning this ship her haunted reputation.

There have been haunted tours of the Queen Mary for years.  It’s been a favorite of paranormal investigators and some parapsychologists insist that there’s a vortex to a supernatural realm on the ship that makes her more vulnerable to hauntings.

This virtual tour of the Queen Mary follows the path of the actual tours on board.

The Stanley Hotel

Located in Estes Park, Colorado the historic Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel The Shining.

Room 217 is said to be haunted and not even the toughest folks will stay in it.   The  King of Horror claims that the novel was inspired by a terrible nightmare he had while staying in that room.

The virtual tour give you a glimpse of the entire hotel then takes you on a ghost hunt in the infamous room.

The Lizzie Borden House

“Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks, when she saw what she had done, gave her father 41.”  So the rhyme goes.

The murder in this family home may be the most recognizable and infamous murder mystery in America.  The home currently a Bed & Breakfast located in Fall River Massachusettes was the scene of a particularly grisly murder.  Lizzie Borden who lived in the house with the murder victims who were her father and stepmother is believed to be the perpetrator.  But to this day no one has been able to prove it.

But after such a horrific event it’s almost certain that the house is haunted.  This virtual tour is well done and actually pretty scary.

Pennhurst Asylum

For almost 80 years patients were tragically abused, neglected, and brutalized behind the closed doors of this facility.  Located in Spring City, Pennsylvania this building once housed the region’s mentally and physically disabled residents.  The facility started treating patients in 1908 and finally permanently closed its doors in 1987.  It’s said that paranormal activities linger in it’s halls; no wonder given the amount of human suffering that occurred within its walls.

Which virtual tour will you take?  I’m sure whichever one or two you choose will give you goosebumps!




Meet Hugo, The Perfect Summer Cocktail

Meet Hugo, The Perfect Summer Cocktail

A couple of summers ago in Italy while awaiting the birth of my 6th. grandchild my daughter’s friend introduced me to Hugo.  After one sip of this blissfully refreshing cocktail I wondered why we’ve never met before!

When in Italy, specially in the Veneto region my cocktail of choice had always been the Bellini served at either one of my favorite cafes, Florian’s or Quadri’s in Piazza San Marco.

Of course if one wanted to be real authentic I suppose a Bellini at nearby Harry’s Bar would be better; after all it was the Venetian bar where the cocktail was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948.  But I much prefer the ambiance of Florian’s outdoor cafe; the perfect spot to people watch.

My husband on the other hand loves the Aperol Spritz.  He says it’s a thirst quencher.  I find it a bit too bitter.

But I digress!  I was introducing you to Hugo.  What exactly is a Hugo Cocktail?  It’s an alcoholic aperitif originating in the Alto Adige or South Tryol province of Italy.  This region includes parts of the Dolomites and Italian Alps mountain ranges.  It’s actually one of my favorite regions of Italy, which again makes we wonder why I’d never met Hugo during one of my visits to the area.

The Hugo Cocktail, like the Bellini and the Spritz, is a Prosecco based cocktail; makes sense because the best Prosecco comes from within the Veneto region of Italy and the Alto Adige region is just north of the Veneto.  The other ingredients in the Hugo include Elderflower Syrup or Liqueur, sparkling water, fresh mint leaves and lime.  It truly is refreshing, the perfect summer cocktail.

Since traveling to Italy doesn’t seem to be an option this summer and most likely the rest of the year I’ve decided to bring my favorite places to me by making our favorite drinks and foods from each country.  So today I’ll share my recipe for Hugo Cocktails as well as Bellinis and Spritzes.  Just in case you don’t know what to do with that bottle of Prosecco you just popped open you’ll have 3 options.  So pour yourself a drink and a plate of Cicchetti(bar snacks),sit back, and dream of Italy!  Buon Appetito!

Hugo Cocktail


5 oz. Prosecco

1 oz. Elderberry Liqueur – I use St. Germaine

2-3 oz. Sparkling Water

2 Lime Slices

4-6 Fresh Mint Leaves



Place Mint Leaves in a wine glass and slightly crush or muddle.  You want to let the minty aroma out but not smash the leaves.

Add ice and lime slices.

Pour Prosecco, Liqueur, and sparkling water over ice.

Stir and drink up!



3 Parts Prosecco

1 Part Peach Puree – Use 3-4 White Peaches (you can use any other peach if you can’t find white peaches)


Peel 3-4 ripe White Peach

Cut in quarters, remove pit

Puree in a blender

Strain in to a pitcher

Add Prosecco

Divide between chilled champagne flutes.

Aperol Spritz


2 Parts Aperol or Campari will do in a pinch

3 Parts Prosecco

A splash of sparkling water

Orange slice



Put ice in a glass

Add Prosecco, Aperol, and sparkling water


Garnish with Orange slice