Rick's Travel Blog

Trips & Tricks

The Art of Travel

Everyone should find time to travel. It’s the one thing that gets us out of our comfort zone and into the big wide world. There are a lifetime of experiences to be had here at home in the US or abroad in far-flung destinations. In this blog I will bring together a collection of stories about my adventures and those of other travel writers. If you’re looking for inspiration for life on the open road you’ve come to the right place. Please check back at Rick’s Travel Blog soon to catch the latest travel write-ups on must-see destinations and experiences to do before you die.

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Four Unique Experiences When Travelling in Japan With Your Dog

Peculiar Dog Services that Exist Only in the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is well-known for its highly unusual take on things that are very common in everyday life. From whimsical construction barriers to blue traffic lights, an island full of bunnies, and a dizzying array of vending machines, the Japanese clearly have a way with things. This also extends well onto man’s best friend. While it might not get as much attention as other pet-friendly destinations around the world, such as the UK, France and Argentina, Japan is also a nation of dog lovers. So if ever you’re thinking of spending a holiday in the Land of the Rising Sun, you’d better get acquainted with these four peculiar but otherwise beneficial services for your pet dog.

Luxury Resort for Dogs

With 4 villas, a luxurious pool, and aesthetically-designed suites, the Doggy’s Island Resort & Villa is the equivalent of a 5-star hotel and resort that is specially designed for the most lavishly pampered dogs in the land. There are Dog Suites and Executive Suites complete with a complimentary chef’s special of croquettes and risotto. Located in Yachimata, Doggy’s is the perfect retreat for the world’s richest dog. A single night can easily net between $400 and $750. It’s mighty expensive, but your pet will be pampered like a king.

Dog Café

Most restaurants that accept dogs don’t actually treat these pets as customers, but rather as companions of paying customers. At the Deco’s Dog Café, however, both pet parents and their dogs are customers. Both get to enjoy finger-licking-good pizzas, cakes, chicken steaks, and meatballs. For the ultimate in canine birthdays, the café can actually throw in a special plate that is prepared just for the 4-legged birthday celebrant. This is one of those eateries in Japan where man and dog can sit side by side and enjoy a full course meal.

Hot Springs for Man’s Best Friend

Japan ranks number 2 in the world in terms of the best hot springs, being an archipelago in the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is no wonder that many of these hot springs also open their doors to man’s best friend. At the Tsunayoshi no Yu, your pet gets to experience a warm onsen, a full shampoo, and a really soothing jet bath massage. Pooches are also placed in an oxygen capsule and allowed to relax in a bubble spa to really provide the most lavish, most outlandish internal beauty treatment for dogs. You’re bound to get jealous and jump right in.

Pet Exorcism

Fans of Linda Blair in the hair-raising, spine-tingling horror flick, The Exorcist, will be glad to know that there is such a thing as pet exorcism. The D+Khrishima provides pet exorcism services to dogs that their pet parents believe to be possessed by demons. A Shinto priest will perform a variety of rituals, expel the bad spirit from your dog’s body, and provide a spiritual shield for future health. Whether it’s the dog exorcism you’re after or not, it’s always nice to know that the spa actually provides gourmet meals, overnight stays, and luxury baths especially for your 4-legged friend.

beach vacation

How to Make the Most of Your Seaside Vacation

Not all of us are lucky enough to live near the seashore where the morning is typically greeted by the warm, life-giving breath of sunshine or saying adieu to the day as the sun sets in the horizon, turning the sea into a glimmering ocean of little fireflies. Sure enough, lucky are those who are afforded these views. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll forever be confined to seeing the concrete jungle of the city. You can always go on a seaside holiday vacation and make the most out of it. That way when you do get home you’ll be bringing with you nothing but a bucket full of wonderful memories of sun, surf, and a whole lot more. Here’s how.

Plan early

Unless you’re the type of holiday vacationer who prefers to pack up unprepared, there’s only one way you can truly enjoy the most out of your seaside holiday vacation: plan for it. When we say plan we don’t necessarily mean you are going to write every detail of your trip. Just a general idea of what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it should be enough. This also means you’ve got to set your budget as well as the things you are going to do. Make sure to put an allowance into everything as you will never really know what can happen when you’re already there. These vacation planning tips from TravelPulse are also well worth reading.

Book early

Just as planning your trip early on can help you enjoy your holiday trip, booking early can also help you feel less stressed. In addition to the great savings you’ll get, you will also be able to spend more time preparing for your holiday getaway since you have all the reservations and bookings taken care of in advance.

Study the location

People from different places often have different customs, traditions, beliefs, and practices. While it is important to be well-informed about the different festivities and things to do in a particular holiday destination, it is equally crucial to have a basic understanding of the local customs and traditions. Remember, you will be mostly interacting with local folks so it would really pay to learn a few things about their culture.

Let loose, but be vigilant

Enjoy every moment of your trip. However, you should still keep an eye on things. Holiday tourist destinations even those located in the beach are magnets for unscrupulous activities. Scammers will always be out to spoil your planned holiday. Instead of bringing home many fond memories with you, you’ll perhaps end up with nightmares of your ordeal. So, let loose but do not ever let your guard down.

Having a really fabulous time during your much-deserved seaside holiday vacation is easy if you plan enough for it. Understanding local customs and letting loose while remaining vigilant are some of the keys to help you relish the memories you will be making while on your dream getaway. If any, it’s immersing oneself in the beauty of the place that makes it all the more worthwhile.

For more advice on how to book the perfect vacation online, see this guide from TechAdvisor.

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Going for a Seaside Trip During the Monsoon Season

Even locals will most likely shake their heads when you talk about going to the beach during the rainy season, or as it is called in Asia, the monsoon season. India and many neighbouring countries in Asia are subject to a season of monsoon rains. Most people would prefer to visit the beach in the dry, sunnier season. But beyond the obvious advantage of going at the off-peak season and all its benefits (cheaper rates, fewer crowds), the region is still a charm and adventures can still be found at the beach in this time of the year.

The Green Surroundings

Summer in the tropics turns the fields brown due to the lack of rain and moisture. On the other hand, once the monsoon begins, a slow transformation happens, turning everything green and alive. The turquoise waters and the green fields will more than make up for a few gray clouds.

The Cooler Weather

If you are coming from cooler countries, being on the beach during the hot and humid summer months can be stuffy and too draining. Add the crowds of people in the beach, and you would find yourself hiding in your air-conditioned room instead. Respectable travel agents would steer you towards visiting in the cooler months. During the monsoon season, the weather becomes much cooler and the stifling heat goes away. While in the day, the wind may be rougher than what you expect, but the sea’s breeze is truly refreshing and wonderful while walking along the beach.

The Relaxed Environment

During the rainy season, there are fewer people on the beaches. This means no crowds and no overworked staff. You can expect better prices, better service, and simply, a better time for you as a guest. Moreover, you can enjoy lower rates and have the chance to get upgrades to the best rooms in the hotel.

The peace and quiet are also great for newlyweds, families, and even retired people who are not after wild beach parties. While there may be days when the rain prevents you from venturing out, there are also sunnier days that will be great for playing on the beach.

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Safer Sunbathing

You would not have to worry as much about sunburns when the sun is not shining brightly every day. This is better for those with sensitive skin. However, you might have to swap it for mosquito spray as the rainy days also mean more insects around.

The Beauty Of The Monsoon

While the seaside views and the beach are already sights to behold, imagine watching the dramatic cumulus clouds starting to conquer the sky. It is also impressive to see the lightning lighting up the horizon before the loud grumbling. The monsoon is definitely not for everyone but those who love to appreciate nature and its wonders, this is a sight they should never miss.

The Great Water Sports

While certain sea activities might be off the table such as snorkeling, on the other hand, surfers love the monsoon season because of the rougher waves they can expect. Simply put, when the seas are rougher, the more exciting it can be to ride the waves.

Seaside holidays are wonderful the whole year round so long as you are not afraid of the rain. The sea views will be difficult and you cannot enjoy the sun for a while. But if that does not scare you away, you can then experience and see the beach in a whole different way altogether.

airplane landing UK

These Airports Offer The Cheapest Flights Into The UK

The UK does not rank very high on the list of affordable destinations, which is why many visitors need every trick and tip to save every dollar or pound possible. For tourists flying in from further destinations, the flight ticket is most likely the priciest item on their trip expenses. At times, the secret lies in finding the cheapest airport to fly into.

Not only does the UK have charming small villages with thatched cottages, rugged hills, and breathtaking cliffs, it also has an efficient public transportation system that makes it easy to fly into other cities and take the train or bus from there to your destination. You are never too far away from the beach and the castles and you would not have to pay hundreds of pounds more for your airfare just to land somewhere closer. Here are the 5 cheapest airports to watch out for when booking your flight.

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London City Airport

This airport not just services bigger and traditional airlines like British Airways, but also lower-cost ones like Iberia. Moreover, it is the closest airport to the City of London, which is why it is even more attractive for those who have business to do there or are planning to explore the city. Other airports might still be cheaper, but you will find yourself in the pub or bar much quicker by landing here.

Birmingham

Right smack in the middle is this city and its perfectly located airport. From here you can go for long walks in the Peak District National Park in the north, or the sandy beaches and surfing waves in Cornwall in the south. Not only the location draws visitors to fly into Birmingham, but also the prices are quite affordable. If you are not necessarily going to London, you should definitely consider this as your entry point into the UK.

Heathrow

This is an airport everyone loves to love and hate at the same time. The huge size, which makes it tougher for passengers to navigate, makes it also attractive. Almost all the airlines land here at Heathrow Airport, which is why it is so easy to find a good deal flying in.

Manchester

Most people have heard of this city due to its football fame, and it is one of the cities you should never miss. Being the sort-of capital of the North, it boasts of lively clubs and interesting museums. This is great news for bargain flight hunters who find themselves landing here. Explore the city before heading off to your final destination.

London Gatwick

London Gatwick is the second largest airport in the UK also hosts a list of airlines that fly nonstop from various corners of the globe. This is a great option for those going to London because it also has the cheapest flights to offer visitors.

The competition for air travel is not just restricted to airlines, with airports also vying to offer the best rates to have flights land there. The passengers have the advantage in the end, allowing them to visit the UK and its popular cities for less. If you ever dreamt of seeing the Big Ben and the Buckingham Palace, the time to book is now.

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A Unique Seaside Destination Way Up North

People associate beach holidays with the tropics, with palm trees and coconut fruit in your hand. However, for a different seaside experience, you should visit the beautiful fjords in Scandinavia. 

So beautiful are the Norwegian Fjords that they have been named by the UNESCO as one of the “Seven Wonders of Nature” and as one of the best unspoiled travel destinations in the world. It is certainly impressive, especially when you visit it during summer. Norway is considered as the Land of the Midnight Sun, so you can enjoy the views up to midnight.

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Sea Views All the Way Inland 

Fjords are unique because the seawaters come inland, due to its past. At the end of the last Ice Age, the glaciers retreated and were replaced by seawater. The existing U-shaped valleys were flooded and thus, the awe-inspiring fjords came to be. Interestingly, Norway has a warm sea current so that the fjords do not freeze during winter.

These beautiful sea views in the Norwegian Fjords have inspired many tourists who have journeyed north.There may be other breathtaking sea views around the world, including these destinations, but the scenery in this Scandinavian wilderness is especially spectacular. Imagine the waters snaking in between very high mountains that reach up to 2000 meters in height, and even reaching up to 1300 meters in depth. At times, the passages are tight, so that not every cruise ship can go inside. Passengers of ships who do make it can literally touch the side of the mountain while standing on deck. 

All over the country, there are numerous fjords to be visited, though the most breathtaking ones are concentrated in the western and northern areas. For example, the Geirangerfjord and Nerøyfjord, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, offers visitors more than just the sea view. They can see alpine mountains, lush villages, and even waterfalls. On the other hand, Trollfjord in the north, is just 100 meters in the narrowest part, making it one of the most captivating fjords in Norway.

Visitors can expect neck aches from staring at the mesmerizing sights, and their cameras low in space and battery due to taking thousands of pictures. When you also decide to stay in one of the picturesque villages by the fjord, you can wake up to a dream and you will have to pinch yourself to remind you that it is all real.

Best Way to Experience the Fjords

While hiking is a way to enjoy the seaside views, steep mountains might make it difficult for the beginner hiker. Instead, you should try to experience the fjords through a sea kayaking tour. Using these small kayaks, you can explore areas that would otherwise be tough to access through boat. You can even have these areas all to yourself due to their isolation.

Sea kayaking tours are available from half a day to 10 days in total, allowing enthusiasts to fully explore as many fjords as they want. Some hikes may also be integrated to allow a different view. When you go during summer, you do not just get to glimpse the fjords, you can literally stare at them, thanks to about 20 hours of sunlight.

While heading up to Scandinavia is not your typical choice for a seaside holiday, this truly unique landscape will give you an unforgettable trip. Moreover, the midnight sun is something that you should not miss, so include Norway on your travel to-do list now.

For more information about the Fjords and other places to see and things to do in Norway, check out the national tourist board website at https://www.visitnorway.com/

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