Halloween is around the corner and just about everyone is thinking ghost, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Admit it or not most of us have thought about supernatural and paranormal things. Many of us jump at the sound of creaking floors when we’re alone late at night, I know I do!
Whether you’re a true believer or a skeptic we all want to be just a bit “spooked” during the Halloween season. We visit haunted houses, watch scary movies, dress up as our favorite ghoul, and in the back of our minds wonder if there really are haunted places. So why not go on a ghost tour this year?
My family and I did the Birdcage Theater Ghost Tour in Tombstone, Arizona the other year. I can’t tell you that we actually saw any ghosts nor can I say that the experience made me a true believer; but I can say we had a great time and learned some of the local history as well.
It seems that there are ghost tours in just about all the states. Here are some that have been touted as the “Best Ghost Tours in American” by Haunted America Tours and America’s Best Online. Maybe there’s a tour by you, if not I’m sure you’ll find a tour in your area by doing a internet search.
Ghost Tours of St. Augustine in Florida offers several types of ghost tours.
Their award winning “Ghostly Experience” with a guide is a nightly 75 minute tour. To book your tickets on line click here!
Chicago Hauntings’ guides have been featured on many TV shows including those on the History and Discovery Channels.
They offer several different tours including private ones.
To reserve your tour click here! [spacer height=”-20px”]
“On this haunted ghost hunt, you will be given ghost hunting equipment…..you’ll get to participate in an interactive paranormal investigation.” Haunted Vegas Ghost Tour and Hunt
Go on this walking tour and learn about San Francisco’s macabre history and the ghosts and hauntings in Haight-Ashbury.
For reservations click here![spacer height=”-20px”]
Voted #1 in the Top Ten Ghost Tours of America, Haunted America Tours is a “haunted ghost tour like no other”.
They offer several tours on Galveston Island, some of which are led by Dash Beardsly the company founder dubbed as “the ghost man of Galveston”.. He’s the local expert and has been featured in various magazines and TV shows. For more info and booking click here![spacer height=”-20px”]
French Quarter Phantoms in New Orleans offers several tours of one of the most haunted cities in the US. Buy tickets here!
A list of ghost tours in the US wouldn’t be complete without a tour in Salem. Nothing screams Halloween more than the town of Salem, Massachusetts, home of the infamous witch trials in 1692 – 1693.
Halloween doesn’t come once a year to this town, it’s year round! There are many museums and tours dedicated to Salem’s “spooky” history. Our family visited this town many years ago, it’s a lot of fun!
Featured on the History Channel Salem Night Tour leaves on a nightly tour of Salem’s famous places.
When heading out on your travels, you’re focused more on the shining sun, the fun activities, and the awesome memories you and your family will make. But while you want to spend the whole time enjoying yourself, you must make sure that all your belongings are protected, too.
Losing or damaging your essentials while on the move can throw a spanner in the works and adds unnecessary stress and bother. Your vacation is supposed to be one where you forget all the worries of the world, so make sure you know how to look after your things to ensure smooth sailing.
Everyone’s greatest fear is losing their suitcase after getting off the plane. When this happens, you need to follow the proper channels to retrieve your belongings, which are hopefully still in excellent condition.
There’s a chance they were damaged, though, and your luggage may have been opened. To minimize the possibility of this, find suitcases with TSA-approved locks to save airport workers needing to break in.
You’ve also got to worry about missing clothes. You can pack two days’ worth of a change of clothes in your carry on so you’ll have something fresh to change into while you wait for your suitcase to show up.
Taking your e-reader or tablet along with you helps to kill time waiting for connecting flights or just lounging by the pool. But if you’re close to water, they suddenly become much more fragile than you ever realized. You can find protective covers that allow you to lounge in the pool with your devices, but it might be better for your anxiety if you just left it in the room and stuck with a paperback.
Likewise, there are also medical electronics such as hearing aids to protect from moisture. These can be difficult to replace or repair while on your travels if water-damaged, so you can learn more about how to deal with them if you’re traveling with someone who uses a hearing aid.
Passports and Cash
Losing passports and cash while away is arguably the worst thing that could happen to you. However, it need not be the end of the world as long as you take precautions.
Before leaving, look for the consulate office and embassy of your home country, which can help you deal with theft or lost or damaged passports, and also find waterproof pouches to protect your passport from the elements.
As for your money, carry it on you at all times, so you know where it is. You might feel nervous walking around with so much, but at least you know where it is, which will prevent any theft back at your accommodation.
Whether you’re heading for a week-long vacation or embarking on a globetrotting extravaganza, investing in travel insurance before you leave is crucial for protecting your belongings in the event of an accident. While you can do all you can to keep them safe, there’s always the chance for loss or theft. Travel insurance will soften that blow considerably.
Keeping your items safe during your travels will help you enjoy every minute away from the responsibilities of work and school, but if you don’t adequately prepare for accidents, they could end up damaged and ruin the vacation.
My cousin recently told me that the only thing his 7 year old daughter wanted for her birthday was to stay at a haunted hotel. Ever the indulgent father and avid fan of the paranormal, he and his wife packed up and took their only child for a stay at the Jerome Grand Hotel.
Reportedly a haunted hotel in Jerome, Arizona, a historic artist community that really plays up the “haunted town” theme as reflected in area businesses such as The Haunted Hamburger, Asylum Restaurant, and the Spirit Room Bar.
They didn’t have a ghostly experience but had a great time exploring the town, browsing the art galleries, and dining at the various restaurants.
There are many “haunted” hotels across the country. Here’s a list of the top haunted hotels in America according to the Travel Channel and Haunted America Tours. Are you brave enough to book a stay at one of them this Halloween? Let Savvy Nana Travel help you book your spooky vacation this year!
Guests have reported ghostly sightings and blood stains mysteriously appearing and disappearing on the linens in some rooms.
Located on Coronado Island in San Diego the Hotel del Coronado is a historic luxury hotel.
It said to be haunted by a lonely jilted lady, Kate Morgan, who checked in to the hotel in 1892. She was there to meet her estranged husband who never showed up. She was found dead on the beach from a gunshot wound.
Going on long travel trips when you have hearing problems pours water on your parade. You want to have fun and see the world just like everybody else, but the sounds of large crowds, traffic and winds are all too much for some people. In the home you have a controlled environment so you can control the level of noise. When you’re out in public and especially tourist traps, you have to find new ways of coping. Having hearing problems while in large crowds, can result in headaches, orientation issues and sometimes anxiety attacks. It’s best that you plan for whatever may come on your trip rather than giving up on the idea altogether. Here are a few ways you can protect your ears and enjoy crowded spaces and other great sight locations.
The thicker the better
If you have really sensitive ears, not even basic ear plugs will be enough sometimes. However, you can utilize technology from the sport shooting world to help you adjust the level of sound that goes into your ear. With electronic headphones you have lightweight sound protection from even the loudest noises. These headphones are used in shooting competitions and various competitive firearms tournaments. You set the db rating on your headphones and when a sound goes higher than those levels the headphones will automatically block that sound out. For example, if you don’t want to hear a noise louder than 85db, the headphones will allow any noise below that level to be heard. But if it’s over that level, you’ll hear very little of that sound or none at all.
The longer the better
The one thing you don’t want to be without when on long trips is your hearing aid. It’s the least amount of ear protection you can get and still have your ears and head feel normal. So you never want to be out of batteries while you’re out seeing them world. Instead of taking lots of batteries with you if you click here you’ll find some of the best batteries for modern hearing aids. There are four different types to choose from and each of them are color coded. The blue is a zinc-air battery and designed to work for behind-the-ear hearing aids. These batteries can last up to 20 days at a time while the others hover around the 10-13 days mark. If your trip is for 2 to 3 weeks, these blue (BTE) batteries are the type that you should pack; if you have the right kind of hearing aid, of course.
Avoid the crowd
With just a little planning you can avoid the large crowds at the most popular tourist attractions. Plan to go on the trip not during the holiday season, go during the weekdays and get their early. Whatever kinds of locations you’re planning on visiting, always try to avoid the crowds and not put yourself in a situation where your hearing condition will cause you trouble.
Don’t confine yourself within your home when you have a hearing condition. You can wear electronic headphones that can shut out sounds that are very loud so you’re always within your safe range.
You might be wondering what exactly are Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises and why should you even consider taking one. Both cruises are essentially ocean crossings done when cruise ships are repositioning from one route to another.
Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises are usually offered in the early spring and late fall. The early spring cruises are done when ships are moving from their winter routes to their summer routes; late fall cruises are when the ships return to their summer routes.
Transatlantic cruises are generally from North American ports that serve as gateways for Caribbean cruises in the winter to European ports that are gateways to Baltic and Mediterranean cruises in the summer.
Transpacific cruises are generally from Asian and Southern Hemisphere ports that serve as gateways to Asian and Australian/New Zealand cruises in the winter to ports located in North America’s western ports that are the debarkation ports to Alaska in the summer months.
Got that? Ok now you should know that there are basically 2 transatlantic routes.
The northern route take ships from Florida to Northern Europe with ports of call in Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and Scotland before ending up in either South Hampton, England or Copenhagen, Denmark. These ships ply the Baltic route during the summer months. Their late fall return usually includes stops along eastern Canada and the US eastern seaboard to view the colorful autumn foliage.
The southern route takes ships from Florida to ports in Spain, Greece, or Italy with stops at the Canary Islands, Azores, and possibly the Spain’s Costa del Sol. These ships travel the Eastern and Western Mediterranean routes during the summer. Their late fall return usually follows the same route they take in the spring. [spacer height=”-20px”]
Transpacific routes generally travel from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand to San Fransico, Seattle, or Vancouver. They usually make stops in Mexico and Southern youCalifornia.
Having said all this there of course will be exceptions such as ships moving from their winter routes in South America and those that travel around the Middle East. For the purpose of this article we’ll stick to the Transatlantic and Transpacific routes.
Alright, now you sort of know what transatlantic and traspacific cruise are, so let me give you six reasons why you should consider taking one or perhaps why you shouldn’t.
The Price is Right!
Transatlantic and transpacific cruises are generally a good value. The ships have to sail to their seasonal routes anyway so it makes good business sense to fill them up on those crossings. I’ve paid as little as $1200 per person for a 14 day transatlantic cruise in a balcony stateroom. That’s less than $100 a day! They also included perks such as paid gratuity and drink package!
Restful and Relaxing!
Cruises with many ports of call are exciting, but they can also be exhausting. It’s go, go, go almost everyday! Some cruises are so hectic you hardly get a chance to enjoy all the things the ship has to offer, not to mention you might need a vacation after your vacation!
Well that is not a problem on a transatlantic or transpacific cruise. You will have plenty of days at sea to rest, relax, and enjoy everything the ship has to offer. Most crossings have about 5-7 consecutive days at sea, plenty of time to catch up on your reading, learn a new dance step, or just catch up on your sleep.
No Cooking for 2 Weeks!
This is one of my favorite reasons to go on a transatlantic cruise, or any cruise for that matter.
From breakfast to dinner and everything in between your meals are prepared by someone other than yourself, and you don’t have to clean up either!
You can indulge at the buffet, dine in the main dining room, grab a burger at the grill, or sample the different specialty restaurants. Whatever you’ve a yen for you’ll probably be able to satisfy it at one of the ship’s dining venues.
Best of all you’ll have the time and the appetite to try everything because you won’t be filling up on local foods on shore!
Interesting Ports of Call
Transatlantic and transpacific cruises make stops at some interesting ports that they don’t normally visit on their regular routes. Ports like Tenerife, the Azores, Greenland, and Iceland are not on Baltic or Med routes. Ships only stop there during their crossings about twice a year.
On our transatlantic cruise last year we stopped in Malaga, Cartagena, and the Canary Islands. All very nice cities!
Learn something new or try something different or silly
Cruise staff really work overtime during these crossings. They must come up with new and innovative ways to keep cruisers entertained. They offer lectures, games, lessons, live shows, movies, and activities for just about everyone.
Last year I really enjoyed the free water color painting classes on the cruise. Learned some new techniques and came home with a few pretty paintings.
We also enjoyed watching the Egg Drop event. It was amusing to see the contraptions cruisers came up with to save their raw eggs from getting smashed when dropped 6 decks down! [spacer height=”-20px”]
Meet new people and make new friends
On many cruises you’re too busy running around to really meet anyone, much less have a conversation with them. On ocean crossings this is not a problem.
It’s easy to be sociable when you see the same people everyday for 2 or more weeks! Unless you prefer to keep to yourself you will find many opportunities to meet new and interesting people. We’ve met many cruisers who’ve become great friends![spacer height=”-20px”]
Ready to book your transatlantic cruise? Contact us at Savvy Nana Travel, we’ll help you plan your dream vacation!
The mere mention of “Hawaii” brings to mind pristine beaches, crystal clear water, and big waves. Hawaii boasts some of the best beaches in the world and a major part of a Hawaiian vacation is some serious beach time.
One of the best things about Hawaii is that all the beaches are public with the exception of a few that are strictly for the federal government, meaning the military. Developers are required to provide public parking and access to the shoreline in areas that are residential. Hotels and resorts around the island must also allow the pubic to use the beaches directly in front of their property, however access thru hotel property and use of hotel facilities can be restricted to hotel guests.
But beaches are not all Hawaii has to offer, there are many family friendly activities on the islands.
In my previous post 14 Things to Do in Hawaii with Kids I listed some fun activities that have a fee, in this post I will list some FREE things to do with kids. You can decide to include a few activities from each category to make your Hawaiian family vacation memorable.
Most families who visit the islands generally rent a car, it makes getting around to the places I list so much easier. It is possible to get around on public transportation. Hawaii, at least Oahu has a pretty good bus system. Bus fares are $2.50 one way per adult, kids 6-17 $1.25, under 6 is free. Visitors can also purchase a 4 day pass for unlimited use for 4 consecutive days. Price of the pass is $35. For more info click here.
You can’t go to Hawaii without spending time at the beach. The islands are full of fantastic beaches.
Our favorite family beach in Honolulu is the Ala Moana Beach Park where the water is calm and the sand is fine.
Other favorites are the Ko’olina Beach lagoons on the Leeward coast of Oahu, and Kailua Beach Park on the Windward coast.
A drive around the island will take you to many more beaches, I’m sure you’ll find your favorite ones.
Turtle watch at Laniakea Beach a.k.a. Turtle Beach. Located on Oahu’s North Shore just past the town of Haleiwa this beach is consistently visited by the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. You’re almost sure to see at least one or two on the shore.
This beach is not the easiest beach to find. The best way to find it is to drive on Kamehameha Hwy. thru the historic town of Haleiwa. Pass the town, the ocean is on your left.
About 1.5 miles past Haleiwa town you will probably see cars parked on both sides of the road, in the dirt. This is the area where the beach is. If you park on the mountain side of the road you will have to cross the very busy street, or you can try to make a U-turn further up the road and double back so you can park on the ocean side. From the road you will have to walk down to the beach, be careful as it’s rather steep in some areas. You will be rewarded with the site of these gentle sea creatures basking on the beach, but don’t get too close they are endangered and are protected by conservation laws.
There are no facilities at this beach so you must bring food and drink with you. The nearest restrooms would be back in Haleiwa town or further along the coast at one of the other beach parks on the North Shore.
This beach is not really a family day out kind of beach, it’s best as a short stop-over on your way to one of the other beaches on the North Shore like Waimea Bay or Sharks Cove.
Or if you like the kids can go sand boarding down the slope that is further along the beach and less crowded. All you’ll need is a cheap kick board you can buy at any ABC Store in Waikiki or a flat cardboard box. This keeps our boys entertained for a little while.
Explore the tide pools at Pupukea Beach Park – this beach is actually 2 “pocket” beaches along the coast – Sharks Cove and Three Tables. Both spots are a favorite for divers and snorkelers.
Located further along Oahu’s North Shore just past Waimea Bay, across the street from the Foodland Supermarket. This beach is calm and safe during the summer but has very high surf in the winter.
Low tide reveals tide pools and lava formations that are fun to explore. Keep safety in mind, the best way to explore is to start as far out as you wish to venture and work your way towards shore. You don’t want to be caught far from shore when the tide comes in, there are no lifeguards.
Go fishing! You’ll find fishermen fishing off the coast at many beaches, you may even see some spearfishing.
We usually go fishing in Haleiwa Harbor or at Kakaako Waterfront Park by downtown Honolulu.
All you need is fishing pole and some bait. Hawaii does not require a fishing license for recreational saltwater fishing.
You can cast your line from any beach on the island except Hanauma Bay which is a marine wildlife preserve.
Spend a relaxing day at Moanalua Gardens located about 5 miles Northwest from Honolulu.
This small park is home to a variety of native plants and flowers which line the short paved trail that is suitable for strollers. It’s a wide open space that’s great for picnics, tossing a frisbee, and relaxing on benches and tables under the shade of the many banyan trees.
There’s a Koi pond where you can feed the fish with Koi food that can be purchased from the small gift shop at the entrance, you can feed the ducks bread if you have some. King Kamehameha V’s summer cottage and tea house are located within this park, as is the famous “Hitachi” monkey pod tree which has been used by the Japanese company as their corporate symbol since 1973. The company pays the park foundation an annual fee for the tree’s upkeep.
There’s also a small stream running along one end of the park. My kids used to bring small nets to catch tadpoles in the stream. I’m not sure if they still allow you to do this, you may want to check with the caretakers first.
There are displays and information about the war in the Pacific. Then there’s the boat shuttle to take visitors to the memorial which is built directly over the sunken ship.
It’s a very moving tribute to all the troops who served in the Pacific during World War II. Older children will definitely learn a lot of history, but younger ones may find it a bit boring.
Children under 5 are not allowed on the launch that goes to the memorial. Admission is free as it is part of the National Park Service. You may want to rent an audio guide for $5 to get the most of your visit. The Junior Ranger booklet is available to young visitors free of charge, just ask for one at the ranger desk.
This is the 3rd. most visited attraction on Oahu, it is busy year round. Click here for more info.
Go fishing at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu.
Every weekend the garden sponsors a catch and release program. The visitor center provides free bamboo poles you can pick up and plunk in the water, casting is not allowed. You must bring your own bait, I’m told white bread is the best bait.
Hoomaluhia means ” a place of peace and serenity”, and that it is. It’s a great place for a picnic and short nature walks in the lush garden. Bring bug spray, wear good shoes, and bring snacks.
The park is located in Aiea on Oahu at the end of Aiea Heights Drive.
The trail loop is 4.8 miles and takes about 3 hours to complete. It’s billed as an easy hike suitable for families with kids. It can be strenuous specially if you’re carrying infants and toddlers. There’s a short paved portion at the beginning mistakenly leading one to believe that it’s a cake walk. It is not. The trail has narrow portions at the edge of the cliff so make sure little ones are kept close. You may have to climb over or crawl under several downed trees that block the path, and the trail has some steep sections. There are a couple of benches strategically placed along the trail where you can rest and enjoy some awesome views. There is also remnants of a plane that crashed there in 1944, it’s been slowly disappearing over the years but you can still make out a few pieces.
We’ve done this trail many times with the kids. We started taking them there as toddlers but never really completed the loop until they were about 7 years old or so. We’ve taken our old Doberman on this trail, but she had to be carried over some trees and bribed to go up the steeper slopes, not so much fun when your dog weighs 90 pounds.
Do bring plenty of water on the trail and perhaps some energy snacks for the kids. If you like you can camp at the park, but you must obtain a camping permit.
You don’t have to be a guest at The Kahala Hotel to watch the dolphin feedings at 11:00am/2:00 & 4:00pm daily.
You can park at the hotel for a fee or park for free at the Waialae Beach Park and walk along the beach to the hotel. You can wander around the hotel grounds and enjoy their landscaping with lush tropical greenery and waterfalls. You can even enjoy the beach fronting the hotel and dine at one of their restaurants. The beach is free to all but beach and water sports equipment is limited to hotel guests. Restaurants and bars are open to the public, but they are rather pricey.
For a nice respite from Waikiki relax at the Kakaako Waterfront Park. It’s a great open space in the middle of Honolulu’s industrial area. The kids like to slide down the hill on cardboard boxes. You can walk along the paved sidewalk along the shore or even go fishing. There are picnic tables and benches throughout the park and restroom facilities.
Listen to a free concert by the Royal Hawaiian Band while enjoying a picnic lunch on the Iolani Palace lawn. The Royal Hawaiian Band gives a free concert at the Palace most Fridays between 11:00 – 1:00 weather permitting.
Iolani Palace is the only real royal residence in the United States. It is located on King Street in Downtown Honolulu across the street from the famous King Kamehameha statue.
Tours of the Palace start at $14.95 for an audio guided self-tour. Children under 4 must be carried during the tour.
There’s also a museum in the basement that houses artifacts from the days when Hawaii was a Monarchy. They also offer Hawaiian Quilt Making Classes.
Fly a kite or ride a bike at the Blaisdell Park in Pearl City. This neighborhood park in Pearl City is a local favorite. The wide open space is a great place to fly a kite and the bike path along the water has great views of Pearl Harbor.
We’ve hosted many kid’s birthday parties at this park. There are picnic tables and benches, restrooms, and exercise equipment the kids can climb and hang from.
The park is located on Kam Hwy. a few miles west of Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. You can pick up a picnic lunch at one of the many restaurants along the way and enjoy it under one of the many trees in the park.
Spend Saturday morning at the KCC Farmers’ Market. Located on Diamond Head Road at the Kapiolani Community College parking lot the market is open every Saturday from 7:30 am – 11:00 am.
You’ll find the best locally grown produce and flowers here, as well as a large assortment of freshly baked goods, jams & jellies, and much more.
There are other Farmer’s Markets around the island click here for schedule and locations.
Don’t forget the Hawaii State Public Libraries. They offer free activities, classes, movies nights, and events year round at most of the libraries in the state.
My grandsons and I attend Children’s Story Time and Craft Time weekly and have attended various events at different libraries around the island. Click here for more info, schedules, and locations.
Pearlridge Center located in Aiea has a free kids’ program called Connect Kids. Members can participate in events and activities at the mall throughout the year.
My grandsons enjoy performances by Chris the Clown, and interactive song and dance programs by Gymboree.
Click here for membership application and event schedule.
Watch a free Hula Show at Ala Moana Center’s center stage. There’s a Hula show presented by Old Navy Monday – Saturday from 11:00 – 11:20 am. There are other performances and events throughout the year.
Click here for schedule of events and other mall info[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Every Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a fireworks show that can be seen on the beaches along the coast from Ala Moana to Diamond Head.
Pick a spot and enjoy the free show.
For a list of the best kids friendly hotels in Hawaii Click Here!
For more kid friendly activities in Hawaii Click Here!