The 5 Best Scuba Diving Tips

Scuba Diving 2

You have completed your diving course and you have booked your ticket to one of the premier destinations from a vacation packages brochure.  You are so excited you cannot sit still, with thoughts of cruising through crystal blue waters, surrounded by brightly coloured tropical fishes, and possibly a sand shark or two.

But, you’re nervous. And, so you should be.  Swimming under water, never mind breathing under water, is as natural to humans as walking on land is to a whale.  We are not meant to be able to be one with our sea friends, yet, many do.

To ease your understandable worries, you need to be prepared.  Your course has given you the basics, and you should repeat those rules over and over in your head, until they are part of you like breathing (above the water, that is).

But, we have a few tips for you that will have you entering the water with confidence and coming out the other side in one piece. Okay, that was a bad joke!  No, really, you paid a lot of money to learn to scuba dive and get to that island holiday; so best you make the most of it.

  1. Equipment Savvy

You may have all the skill under the sun, but if your equipment fails you under the water, you will be in serious trouble.  From your wetsuit to your tank, from your goggles to your flippers, you want to know that, when you’re 20 feet under, you can rely on your equipment.  You don’t necessarily have to spend all your savings, but you also don’t want to be replacing gear over and over again.   There is something to be said for quality when it comes to scuba diving equipment.

  1. Safety First

Much like a skydiver will check his equipment before blasting off out of the plane, so should you be doing the same before blasting into the water.  Check for possibly-tearing belts, broken buckles, odd smelling air from your tank, if your air gauge is acting out in any weird way, and that you have enough air in your tank.

Besides your equipment safety, check the weather conditions, the sea conditions, and that you are feeling good yourself for a dive.  Most diving accidents are because of bad weather conditions, and divers not paying attention to this. There are many online weather sites as well as apps that will give you a few days and even hours ahead as to what the sea and outside conditions will be up to.

If you are not feeling 100%, like you have a cold, are tired, or even if you have muscle aches from previous sport activities, it is best not to go out and dive, unless you are quite experienced.  Rather spend the day relaxing in your comfortable manor house. As being under the water is unnatural for us humans, it is best to not put the body under too much extra strain.

  1. Never Dive Alone

No matter whether you have scoured the seas many a time, or you are a real newbie, it is always best to dive with at least 5 other divers, and to ensure that at least one of you have many dive hours behind you. If that’s you, great, but then prep your fellow divers, to make sure they are aware of the basic safety rules, as well as whether they are all in good shape.  Diving with the locals from where your vacation packages deal got you, is always a good call.  They will know the ins and outs of the terrain, where the sharks hide, and what areas are no-go’s.

  1. Communication is Key

As you are in a world where you cannot use your voice, it is ultimately important to learn to communicate in another way.  And, that other way is via hand signals. There are very specific hand signals that divers are taught in the beginning, and some even go as far as learning deaf hand signals, so they can have more than a cursory conversation.  They can talk about the sea life around them, as well as the vegetation.

Another way in which some divers chat to each other is via a slate board.  If the visibility is good, then this can prove to be a great way to get your message across, especially if you are not good with hand signals, or are a real beginner.

Besides being able to communicate with your diving companions, you need to be constantly checking in on each other, and making sure that everything is okay.  They will do the same with you.  A simple thumbs-up can put their mind at rest, and then everyone can enjoy their dive.

  1. Keep Calm and Keep Diving

Again, as being under the water is a foreign habitat for us, it is very easy to get into a panic, and fast.  The sight of a fin, or a black “something” passing across your visible periphery, can have you set into a flat spin.

And panic + water = disaster!

As you may be diving in close proximity to the others, there are chances you could kick their regulator out of their mouths, or sucker punch someone in the face or gut, simply because you panicked.

The most important part of feeling like you are going to lose it, is to focus in on your breathing.  Never, ever, stop breathing.  In fact, try to keep your breathing quite deep and slow, much like you would if you were having a panic attack outside of the water.

If you are in a situation where you feel less than comfortable, other than the obvious out-of-comfort-zone feel from being in the deep blue sea, then notify your dive master, or fellow divers.  It is best to listen to your gut and end the dive there and then.  There will always be other dives.

Scuba diving is a great sport and there are many magnificent dive sites around the world.  Being fit and confident is an important factor to taking on the world of diving, so adhere to general water safety rules, and remember to have fun.

Don’t Drive an Old Bucket to your Bucket List Destinations

Luxury Vehicle

Visiting the top travel spots in the world is a desire of a lot of people.  As Baby Boomers age, they are especially eager to tick more and more destinations off their bucket list.  While they have the time and the income to travel, their physical stamina may not be what it was even a decade ago, so they might adjust their youthful dreams of hiking and scaling mountains and opt instead for taking in the local cuisine at sunset.  They are just as likely to enjoy a cooking class or walking tour, or to rent a luxury vehicle and visit the friends they’ve made during their lifetime.  If so, they’ll enjoy using the services of Sixt car rental.

Sixt has the best prices, stellar customer service and a large fleet of vehicles in over 100 countries around the world.  They are known the world over for delivering fast friendly service, and attention to detail provided by their caring staff. They are always eager to help you get your vacation off to a good start.  They know that once you get out of the plane, the next step on your trip will be ground transport.  For most travelers, that means a rental car.  Sixt wants to be the friendly face you see at the car rental counter.  They will have everything arranged and ready, so you can start your vacation off right.

And if you use a Groupon for your rental, you can save 35% off a weeklong deal.  That means you can use the services of a top of the line vehicle throughout your stay and get if for a third of the regular cost.  There are other deals available through Groupon for school employees, airline employees, student discounts and more.  Sixt really goes out of the way to extend courtesies to our valued military personnel, and police personnel.  They help all customers find the best deal for their budget even as they try to make it a little easier for others.

If you want to rent a car in the class you’re accustomed to, Sixt has luxury vehicles and deals on those cars, too.  You can rent a Mercedes Benz and save 55% off with Groupon.  So go ahead and make those bucket list travel plans.  When you’re ready to roll off the lot you can go in style with Sixt car rental.

Your Itinerary For a Luxury Break in Tuscany

I am a self-proffessed Europhile and have spent the best part of the last 6 years touring around the continent looking for adventure, beauty and excitement. A friend of mine from back home was asking me recently if I could suggest a great place for a luxury break for him and his wife. He had wanted to go to a part of Europe that he hadn’t seen before and indulge a little for their anniversary. I didn’t need to think about the answer for very long and pointed him in the direction of luxury accommodations in Tuscany in a heartbeat.

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The thing about Tuscany is that it was one of the first places I went to when I started traveling Europe and it is also the only place other than Paris that I have been back to again, and again, and again. There is so much to love about Tuscany and I was able to give my buddy an itinerary which I thought he could follow in order to make the most of the Italian region. I wanted to share the same itinerary with you should you decide to go and see this beautiful part of Europe, in style.

Val d’Orcia

The best place for you to start your luxury break in Tuscany is in the Val d’Orcia or the Orcia Valley as us non-Italian speakers know it. This region is the purest of Italian countryside that you are likely to see, rolling green meadows, quaint towns in between where you can get to the heart of Tuscan cuisine and when you realize that the entire valley is considered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, you know that you are in a very special place indeed.

Vineyard Tour

One thing that Tuscany does best is wine and you can enjoy a private wine tour of some of the finest vineyards in the Chianti region of Tuscany. Here you will learn about what goes into the win-making process, how the grapes are harvested and if you are lucky then you may even be able to have a go yourself of crushing the grapes that will later go into a beautiful bottle of Tuscan Chianti. Finish your tour in the best way possible, a sampling session and believe me, there are few better places in the World to sample wine than in this Italian region.

Spend a Night in Siena

Siena makes for a perfectly luxurious night, surrounded by gothic and medieval-style buildings with sculptures seemingly on every street corner, the city also makes for the perfect place for a romantic stroll. There are lots of high grade hotels here which will treat you with excellent Italian hospitality and this laid back city will be the perfect place for you to relax for a night and enjoy your partner’s company.

A Trip to Florence

Nothing screams luxury than wandering through fine art museums, taking in the largest collection of renaissance art that can be found anywhere in the World and that’s exactly what you can do in the capital of Tuscany, Florence. A city with so many art museums and so much fine art to see would never be boring and nor is Florence, beautiful architecture throughout the city, large squares filled with Italian restaurants, bars and cafes and the jewel in the crown is the stunning Duomo cathedral. Just being in Florence makes you feel that sense of luxury, it is classy, elegant, artistic and stylish and if possible I would recommend at least 2 nights here.

See The Best of The Coast

The Tuscan coastline is beautiful an I would recommend that you start in Pisa, the city that has become famous the World over for its iconic leaning tower. Pisa offers far more than just its accidentally formed bell tower and in all honesty it feels like a city which has never seen the need to reinvent itself, still offering all of the remnants of when it was a powerhouse in the middle ages. Following your trip to Pisa, head down the coast to the city of Livorno, a bustling port city with some of the finest seafood in the entire country. Livorno is a real classy place for you to stay for a couple of days and has some beautiful coastal walks which you can take, traversing the cliff faces as you watch the ships come in and out of port.

Finish in Style

Livorno is where most ferries leave to head out to the islands on the Tuscan archipelago and of them all I would recommend that you finish your trip in Elba. This island offers beaches, hiking and cycling tours as well as beautiful sea-front restaurants with a backdrop of jagged cliffs and that beautiful Mediterranean sunshine. If you want to finish your luxury trip to Tuscany in style, then Elba is where you should go.

Get Wet and Stay Safe at the Same Time

Get Wet and Stay Safe when you go paddleboarding this summer

Photo by CC user olegshpyrko on Flickr

As warmer temperatures descend across much of the nation, spring will soon turn to summer.

In doing so, that means many Americans will be looking to cool off in whatever way best suits them.

That said will you get wet this summer and stay safe at the same time?

What Will You Take into the Water?

With many people wanting to take a dip or two in the water (likely many more times than that) this summer, doing it with the right gear, safely, and having fun are all important.

In order to do that, keep these pointers in mind:

  1. Gear – Having the right gear for your trips into the water (short of just going in for a quick swim) means taking the time to make the right purchases. If you’re into scuba diving, having the right swimwear, mask, tank and more are all important. You don’t have to spend countless dollars (you can rent gear), but don’t buy cheap items either, items that could ultimately impact your safety. If you’re more suited for paddle boarding, you can do a review of Bestway SUP for starters. Such an inflatable SUP can deliver a fantastic paddle boarding experience, not to mention easily pack up when you have to get back in your vehicle. One might also be surfing to bring down the outside air temperature. While some surfers opt for really longboards, others will be quite content with shorter varieties. No matter your choice of gear and relaxation in the water, be sure to respect the rights of others and always make safety (see more below) your top focus;
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  3. Safety – Making sure you and those with you return home safely with each and every water outing is the biggest priority. One can do that by observing a few commonsense tactics. First, never go in the water if you are feeling ill. While you may be under the weather naturally, this also means not going in if you have had one too many drinks. Also avoid going in the water if you feel the least bit dehydrated. For example, a dehydrated swimmer could start to cramp up, making it harder for him or her to make it back to land. Finally, always make sure to avoid entering the water if you have just recently taken any medication. It is also important if you have little ones with you to keep them in sight at all times. Unfortunately, too many water-related accidents over the years have led to either serious injuries or even fatalities. Unlike adults, children have a different perception of just how deep the water can be in the ocean, rivers, lakes, pools etc. Also make sure you respect the water rights of others. Whether you are surfing, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking or a host of other water-related activities, you will likely be joined by dozens and dozens of others. Respecting their space makes for a safer environment for everyone around;
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  5. Fun – Finally, isn’t summertime all about having some fun? Whether your travel plan means staying in the U.S. this summer or venturing outside the country to cool off, make sure fun is not forgotten. All too often, individuals and families tend to try and bring their work with them while on vacation. In the end, they don’t relax nearly as much as they wanted to. Be sure to make your vacation just that, a vacation. Leave the work and the studies behind, knowing you can catch up on them when you return home. For now, however, it is all about getting some relief from the real world, not to mention getting a little wet along the way. Remember, the reason you needed a vacation in the first place if your memory needs a little reminder.


Given how quickly summer tends to zoom by each and every year, make the most of yours in 2016.

With a little planning and some great weather to boot, you can have one of the best summer experiences of your life and those around you.

If this summer is calling your name to get away and enjoy it all, stop thinking about it, just do it.

Aiming for Your First Self Guided Hunt

Make your first Self Guided Hunt a memorable one

Photo by CC user  on wikimedia commons and Maslowski Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Are you ready to take to the woods or other surroundings for your first-ever self-guided hunt?

For many hunters, their first experience hunting can be one of their best memories in life down the road.

To make that experience even better, being prepared from start to finish for the hunt is the most important aspect.

With that being the case, are you aiming for your first self-guided hunt?

Be Prepared and Safe

So that your initial self-guided hunting experience stands the best chance of going off without any hitches, make sure you:

  1. Plan appropriately – How you go about planning your self-guided hunt goes a long way in determining its success. Even if you’re just going to be doing a hunt nearby your residence, don’t go without a plan. Do you have all the necessary hunting equipment? Did you let someone know where you are going and about how long you will be gone? Do you have a first-aid kit with you in the event of an injury that is more than just a little scrape or bruise? Lastly, do you have all your licensing papers in order so that you are not breaking any local laws? When you take the time to plan everything out, there’s less opportunity for trouble to arise;
  2. Know what you can and can’t hunt – Local and state ordinances where you reside govern what you can hunt, when you can hunt, and where you can hunt. That said make sure you are up to speed on what the regulations state. Hunting for a particular kind of game when it is the “off-season” for that wildlife can lead to a sizable fine if you’re caught hunting. Information on what is in-season is easily available on the Internet or from local officials;
  3. Respect other hunters – One of the more important facets of hunting is making sure you respect other hunters out in the field. Part of the lure of hunting is the chase, though it is supposed to be relaxing for the most part. Unfortunately, there will be instances where hunters converge without initial intent in the same area, going after the same game. When that happens, temperaments can get a little heated. Always remember that one or more game are not worth getting into an argument over;
  4. Research your travel plans early – In the event you’re self-guided hunt will mean a fair amount of travel, plan early and accordingly. With any trip of note, getting the jump on others is important. When you book a trip early (be it to a hunting range etc.), you tend to save more money when all is said and done. If your hunting destination is several hours away, you also need to factor in the costs for gas and whether or not you want a hotel for a night (perhaps several nights if staying several days);
  5. Prepare for the worst – For most people on self-guided hunts, the most drama of the day is whether or not they catch the game they came after in the first place. That said it certainly doesn’t hurt to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Along with the previously mentioned first-aid kit and letting at least one other person know your hunting itinerary, be sure that you can locate the nearest medical facilities to where you will be hunting. In the event you are injured while on your hunt, receiving medical assistance as soon as possible can turn out being critically important. Always know the approximate distance to the closest medical help, along with having your cell phone on you at all times. Yes, there are instances where you will be in a location that cell phone reception is not an option, but still have it on you.

Your first self-guided hunt can be an experience you will one day look back on with many positive memories and even some laughs and smiles.

To make the event what it should be – always plan ahead of time – especially when it comes to your safety.

While your goal of catching your desired game is undoubtedly tops on your list, ending the hunt safely each time outshines anything else.

The Best Luxury Trip: Sardinia

If you haven’t visited the Sardinia yet then it is time to put it on your list of places to take a vacation. The Italian island sits in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea around 500 km from the mainland. Sardinia is an extraordinary island that comprises of alpine-esque forests and snow white beaches along with picturesque scenery and it’s own beautiful style of Italian culture and cuisine.

Food from Heaven

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Italian food in general is some of the most beautiful in the World, the way they fuse flavours, the wide variety of breads that they bake, their pizza, cheese and ice-cream and of course their variety of pastas are known and enjoyed the World over. In Sardinia they offer traditional Italian cuisine and add their own variation to it. From succulent roasted piglet, locally made aubergine soup to Sardinia’s famous seafood dish with small balls of pasta similar to gnocchi, the food here is beautiful and you’ll feel as though you’re dining like royalty. The Sardinian way of dining is slow and steady, they prefer to savour their food over a long period of time, many meals comprise of 4 or more dishes and sharing is a must. This relaxed way of dining, especially in the warm Sardinian climate, is done best with a glass or two of the local wine and with friends, old or new.

Luxury on the Island

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If luxury is what you are searching for then look no further than Sardinia. The island’s coastline is like something from a postcard and spending some time on Sardinia’s beaches and looking out into that azure blue sea will give you the feeling of pure comfort and relaxation. The island has countless beautiful private rental houses and 5-star hotels that embody luxury. Many of the best places to stay sit on the coast and offer amazing views in classy and comfortable surroundings.

 

Fun to be Had

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Sardinia isn’t just about eating and lazing around, although this is important, there are also lots of fun to be had on the island. The coastal trails make for beautiful walks and the island features lots of wildlife from  free-roaming horses to indigenous birds and albino-donkeys which can be spotted when walking the shores. Another option is to hit the water for some real fun, kayaking tours around the island’s hidden bays and surfing on the waves of the Med are a great deal of fun. You can rent a surf online before you travel and you’ll be hitting the waves in no time, there are schools available for beginners to learn how to surf and who will tell you the best times and places to hit the waves. Rock-climbing, segway tours and boat trips are also on offer in Sardinia and whatever type of activity you enjoy, you can be sure that the island will provide it.

D.H. Lawrence said, simply, that “Sardinia is different,” the brevity of this statement perfectly sums up the island, from it’s landscape, people, culture, cuisine and it’s way of life, the island is a beautiful and very different place to enjoy your next luxury vacation.

Save big on massage treatments with Groupon

There’s nothing quite like a nice massage at the end of the day to soothe those aches and pains. No matter if you’ve been hard at it at work, or slaving around the house doing chores all day, you’ll surely agree that spending an hour or two being pampered afterwards is pure bliss.

If only massages were cheap enough that we could enjoy them every day! Well, you might not be so lucky, but we can certainly help you to find such services at huge discounts. Just check out these special offers on Groupon’s health and beauty pages and you’ll be amazed how cheap it can be. This listing for massage in Boston is a great example of the promotions on offer.

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Groupon’s deal-a-day discounts are back!

Groupon wants to show that it can still make a fortune out of its deal-a-day coupon business model, and to that end it’s changing the way it offers up its discount vouchers. Nowadays, Groupon is all about combining business listings with its promotional vouchers, and it looks to be a great move for consumers.

When you visit Groupon next time, not only will you be able to search for detailed business listings for whatever service it is you need, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of some great promotions and discounts too. So go save some money, check out this Burger Burger listing in NYC to see what we mean.

Burger Burger

Beyond theme parks: Local Orlando highlights

Orlando is best known for its proliferation of theme parks, but this large city has delights that go far beyond cartoon characters and thrill rides. Locals love the city for more than its pixie dust. These popular destinations highlight a lesser-known side of Orlando that is well worth a visit.

Church Street – For Action-Packed Evenings

Nestled in the heart of Orlando, the Church Street district is popular for its night life. Things really step up around the holidays where traffic is blocked off so parties for events like Halloween and New Year’s Eve can literally spill into the streets. Popular bars like Chillers, Big Belly, and Latitudes keep things exciting year-round with weekly events and drink specials that draw big crowds. Several downtown hotels like the Grand Bohemian Orlando, Autograph Collection are just minutes from this popular area.

Lake Eola Park – For Outdoor Entertainment

Photo by Ivory Rines via Trover.com

Lake Eola Park offers a refreshing patch of nature in downtown Orlando. The park is dominated by Lake Eola. The signature fountain in the middle is the icon of the City of Orlando. A 0.9-mile path circling the lake offers a popular spot to jog or stroll. The Walt Disney Amphitheater hosts live performances, and many downtown festivals take place in and around the park. Lake Eola’s best-known residents are the live swans that fill the park. Visitors can get a little swan-like themselves with paddle boat rentals on the water.

The Orlando Science Center – For Kid Friendly Fun

Visitors of all ages can enjoy the immersive entertainment available at the Orlando Science Center. Over four floors, guests find exhibits that showcase live animals, dinosaur skeletons, and Florida farms. Children can watch bees build a hive, excavate a dinosaur fossil, or pick and sort play oranges at the Orange Grove Factory.

Local parents often opt for a season pass so they can return again and again for the experiments and exploration that never get old. You can enjoy convenient access to the Science Center during a visit to Orlando with a stay at a nearby hotel like the Comfort Suites Downtown.

The Dr. Phillips Center – For Live Performances

The Dr. Phillips Center is a new collection of entertainment venues with theaters for every type of performance. The Walt Disney Theater seats over 2,700 people, while The Bob Carr Theater is only slightly smaller with a capacity of just over 2,500. Both are ideal for Broadway performances, concerts, and other big events. The Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater offers an intimate setting with just over 300 seats and a multi-purpose space that accommodates live entertainment as well as special events like banquets.

Check the center’s schedule before booking your flights to Orlando and you can adjust your stay to coincide with performances from the Orlando Ballet, Orlando Philharmonic, and others. The packed schedule includes concerts, plays, musicals, comedians, and more.

While Orlando’s theme parks offer plenty of entertainment, this city’s lesser-known side offers just as much to explore. Find out what locals already know about Orlando’s diverse draws and try visiting one of these highlights in one of America’s most popular cities.

South Africa: A Top Destination in 2015

The Garden Route is one of the most precious treasures in South Africa ... photo by CC user dlbezaire on Flickr

After hosting the World Cup successfully in 2010, South Africa’s profile has been elevated in the international travel media, which has been transitioning to a respected nation in the world after the trouble filled times that defined much of its 20th century.

Below, we profile several South Africa multi centre holiday ideas that will help you make your trip there as good as it ought to be.

Go on safari in Kruger National Park

One of the activities that South Africa is best known for are wildlife safaris, as they enable foreigners to see animals (like lions, rhinos and giraffes) in the wild that they have only ever seen within the bounds of their local zoo.

There is no better place in the entire country to see these majestic animals then in Kruger National Park, which has protected the massive mammals located located therein since 1898. In addition to the safari tours that are widely available, visitors can also observe a restored village from the Iron Age which sheds light on human life in Southern Africa many thousands of years ago.

Explore the many wonders of the Cape Peninsula

Many tours begin or end in the Cape Town area, and there many things to do within the city and in the rural areas that surround it.

Colorful neighborhoods, outstanding restaurants and views from high atop Table Mountain are all great side attractions to the major historical sight in the area, which is Robbin Island, which is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades during the days of Apartheid.

Outside the city, there are many vineyards that produce some of the world’s best wines, and along the coast, lucky explorers can get to see penguins waddling along the beaches on the Cape Peninsula.

Discover the Garden Route

If you feel like going on a road trip after puttering around the Cape Peninsula, then perhaps driving the Garden Route should be a quest that you should undertake, as it is one of the places in this nation that make it such an outstanding destination.

Named for the abundant vegetation that grows due to plentiful rains throughout the year, this road takes you along a route that is sandwiched between mountains and the Southern Ocean, with plenty of hidden sandy coves to discover along the way.

Whale and dolphin watching tours are available in many of the towns and villages on the route, so be sure to take a day to discover South Africa’s marine wildlife.

UPDATE: For more information on South Africa and other destinations across Africa and around the world, be sure to check out http://www.travel-spots.co.uk/ for the hottest places to travel in 2017.