Where to Stay in Istanbul with Family and Kids? (safe areas, hotels, restaurants, hospitals)

Where to Stay in Istanbul with Family and Kids? (safe areas, hotels, restaurants, hospitals)

“When it comes to traveling to Istanbul with family and children, I’m sure you will find it challenging. Well, it is not an easy task to manage trip when you have kids and spouse traveling with you. But, luckily, there are always chances to learn from other travelers who have experience in this field. 

So, if you are looking for some practical experience that you can use during your travel to Istanbul, then you will love this post.

This informative post, based on my own experience, is about  safe areas in Istanbul, the best hotels, shopping centers, fine dining restaurants, Turkish cuisine and insurance in Istanbul.

As a mother traveler, who traveled to Istanbul with family and kids, I enjoyed my traveled. However, I have  also experienced hard moments when our kids got sick. That’s why, I think adding information about international hospitals and emergency may be helpful to you too.

Hope this post will help make your travel to Istanbul smooth :)”

Buyukcekmece Istanbul
Boulevard in Buyukcekmece, Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the biggest and beautiful cities that offers many options of entertainments to tourists and visitors. I would say that Istanbul is the heart of Turkey although it is not a capital city. Do you know why?

The gorgeous historical museums like Istanbul Archeological Museum,  the museums of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace; Blue Mosque; modern shopping centers with all European and USA brands; restaurants with local and international cuisines; shore excursions and cruise tours, dazzling Grand Bazaar, all these make Istanbul unique.

Despite the great leisure opportunities and beautiful sightseeings, it is difficult to choose a place to stay with family and kids in Istanbul.”

 

As many other big cities, Istanbul also has safe and unsafe areas. You have probably read a lot of discussions in virtual forums telling people that to be careful in Istanbul because of hijacking and kidnapping. If you check the news about Turkey, you will hear the news only about bad accidents and incidents. Don’t believe in media bias! It is not as dangerous in Turkey as it is described by media!

I had the best experience in Istanbul and in other cities of Turkey, even though I was warned too. I am not going waste your time by writing about political situations in Turkey. You can do it via news channels 😉 So, aiming to save your time, I’ll go directly to the point.

Where to stay in Istanbul with family and kids?

If you are going to travel to Istanbul with family and kids, I would suggest you to stay in the suburbs of Istanbul. You might surprise, but let me tell you why you need to stay in the suburbs of Istanbul.

the best family friendly area in Istanbul
Kids playing  at playground in Buyukcekmece
1. The suburbs are not as busy as city
centers. Less crowd, more safe.
2. More options for babies like
playgrounds, parks, etc.
3. People will remember and accept you as
local, If you cross the same street 
several times.
4. Everything is close to each
other. No taxi needed.

The best safe area to stay in Istanbul, especially with family and kids, is Buyukcekmece

“Buyukcekmece is a prestigious seaside district of Istanbul. It is situated in the suburbs of Istanbul, on the Sea of Marmara coast of the European side. Buyukcekmece is largely an industrial area with a population of 380,000.”

 

Why Buyukcekmece?

Boulevard in Buyukcekmece Istanbul
Boulevard in Buyukcekmece

Buyukcekmece has a great view of sea and a nice boulevard with playgrounds, shops and restaurants. You don’t need to go to the city center if you need anything. There are many barbers, supermarkets, fine dining, fast foods, tea and coffee houses, and even an international hospital here (if you want to know more about restaurants and international hospital in this area, please, read the article till the end).

Buyukcemece is not far from Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It may take you 15-20 minutes ride from Airport, and 45-50 minutes ride from Zeytinburnu to Buyukcekmece (more about Zeytinburnu on my next post).

Best hotels with sea view in Buyukcekmece, Istanbul?

Eser Premium Hotel in Buyukcekmece
Eser Premium Hotel

There are many choice of places to stay in Buyukcekmece.You can rent an apartment at boulevard with the sea view, find hotels starting from 2 stars and ending 5 stars or stay at the motel. But if you want to find the best place to stay with family at a great rate, I would advice you to stay at Eser Premium Hotel in Buyukcekmece.

Why Eser Premium Hotel?

Eser Premium Hotel Istanbul
Eser Premium Hotel and Spa in Buyukcekmece
Eser Premium Hotel Buyukcekmece Istanbul
Eser Premium Hotel and Spa in Buyukcekmece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eser Premium Hotel and Spa is an impressive 5 star hotel located by the blue-flag
Buyukcekmece beach which is defined as a new Bosporus in the city. The location
of Eser Hotel is perfect such as, it is 20 minutes ride from/to Ataturk
International Airport, 5 minutes ride from Tuyap Exhibition center, 10 minutes
walk to the International Hospital, 20 meters to the beach,  20 minutes ride
to the CNR Exhibition Center.  The hotel provides free transportation to the
Tüyap Exhibition Center during all exhibition events. You can also get 
7/24 airport-hotel and hotel-airport transfer services.

As you can see by its name, Eser Premium Hotel and Spa has a full-service spa and massage services, sauna and indoor swimming pool. This beautiful hotel also offers fitness, spinning, yoga, pilates and zumba. Everything mentioned here included to the price, except the massage service.

The family rooms have a king and a queen size beds next to each other. If you would like to have more space for your babies, you can book VIP room. There are VIP rooms on every floor and all of them have an incomplete sea and city view.

Eser Premium Hotel in Buyukcekmece Istanbul
Ever Premium Hotel and Spa in Buyukcekmece
Ever Premium Hotel and Spa in Buyukcekmece, Istanbul
Eser Premium Hotel and Spa in Buyukcekmece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We traveled to Istanbul during Ramadan month, so, we could get a great deal at Eser Premium Hotel. We stayed at a family room on the sixth floor. Later we changed our family room to VIP room on the second floor for a great rate. Our kids were more happy at the VIP room because they had extra (living) room with more space. The VIP rooms have one big bathroom with Jacuzzi and a separate shower in a bedroom, and an extra restroom in living room. You can check the photos of Eser Premium Hotel and Spa on my previous post.

Besides all its luxury and sea view, the hotel also provides free breakfast. There is an A’la Carte Restaurant with a rich open buffet that serves breakfast from 7 am till 10 am. You can have a natural honey, jams, natural yogurt, cereals, fruits for breakfast. If you are a bread lover, like me, A’la Carte Restaurant is exactly for you! 😉 There are several types of breads including wheat bread, French bread, bread with raisins and Turkish smit (my favorite one!).

The main menu of hot meals change every morning. Furthermore, you can have soup, boiled egg, scrambled eggs, and different hot meals at this open buffet. Lunch and dinner at A’la Carte Restaurant is for an additional cost.

They offered a special dinner package during Ramadan iftar. You can also have delicious desert with Turkish tea or coffee at the open air Sapphire Bistro Cafe in Eser Premium Hotel.

IMG_0139

                     Eser Premium Hotel A'la Carte Open Buffet

The gorgeous sea-view saloon and the Diamond Ball Room might inspire you to celebrate your wedding anniversary or birthday party here. If you decide to celebrate any event, you need to contact with wedding organizer. The special gala dinners and excellent premium services will make an unforgettable day for you. An elegantly decorated place with a capacity of 800 people,  can make your dreams come true with its excellent service approach and gracious staff 🙂

Although the hotel has all above mentioned luxury amenities, it has cons too. The slow internet is the number one problem at this hotel.

We were not the first customers who complained about this issue. Luckily, the administration is very responsive and reacts immediately when the customer is not satisfied. We were provided with an extra modem when we mentioned our dissatisfaction. Rather than that this hotel is perfect place to stay.

So, if you want to have fun and relax without updating your Facebook status, then you will enjoy this 5 star hotel for sure! 🙂

Where to eat in Buyukcemece?

Ala Carte Restaurant Eser Premium Hotel
Having breakfast with my family at A’la Carte Restaurant

I think, it is the most difficult question for me to answer 🙂 Because there are tons of restaurants that have delicious food with various Turkish cuisines. Almost all of the restaurants in Buyukcemece offer free and unlimited tea. I’m not sure where to start, so that you can try the best Turkish cuisine 🙂

Furthermore, I will write the restaurants that we visited several times and enjoyed delicious food! We became their loyal customers because of their great service!

Biget Restaurant in Buyukcemece 

Biget Restaurant in Buyukcekmece Istanbul
Having dinner at Biget Restaurant in Buyukcekmece Istanbul

Biget is the top first restaurant in our list. If you are a meat lover, then you should definitely try Etli Bollu Bursa Iskender at Biget. 

Bursa Iskender is a kind of doner kebab prepared from thinly cut grilled lamb basted with hot tomato sauce over pieces of lavash bread. The thin meat generously slathered with melted sheep butter and yogurt. Tomato sauce and melted sheep butter are generally poured over the dish at the table.

You have probably ate Iskender in the USA or Europe but it would never taste the same. Believe me, the meat tastes different for me in California after eating Bursa Iskender at Biget restaurant 😉 Just to inform you, if you order meal, you can get a free tea here 🙂

Our second favorite restaurant is Bymistik Antep Sofrasi in BuyukcekmeceThey offer various Antep foods here. I would advice you try lahmacun, especially If you want something light before going to bed. If you still have a little space in your stomach, make sure you don’t miss your chance to order Katmer desert.

Katmer is a pastry made out from sheets of phyllo dough wrapped around kaymak (Turkish clotted cream) and studded with chopped local pistachios. Its too yummy among the Turkish deserts. The price is little bit expensive here but it worth to try it. I still miss Katmer! It is so delicious that I can’t forget the taste 🙂

Unfortunately, they don’t have Katmer in Turkish restaurants in Bay Area… Please, let me know if you find any 🙂

Acikdim Pide Kabab Restaurant in Buyukcekmece

Enjoying dinner at Acikdim Restaurant
Enjoying dinner at Acikdim Restaurant

The taste of Katmer at Acikdim Pide Kabab Restaurant in Buyukcekmece is little different. However, the price is much more cheaper than in any fine dining.

If you would like to try some other Turkish deserts, get “Hatay Kunefesi” or “Firin Sutlac” at Acikdim Pide Kabab Restaurant.

Hatay Kunefesi is considered to be one of the most delicious Turkish desserts, especially in the city of Antakya (Antioch) in Hatay. The difference of Antakya’s kunefe from others is the daily made fresh, elastic cheese that is only made in Hatay region.

This elegant looking and delicious dessert should be consumed hot, right after the kadayıf absorbs the syrup for the best taste. In some places they serve kunefe topped with cream or ice cream.

Sutlac is baked rice pudding. The Firin Sutlac comes in a traditional bowl, a small clay dessert cup. The pudding is first cooked on the stove, then the clay cups are baked in the oven until the tops are very brown. You can find sutlac at the supermarkets but it will not taste the same. Because small clay cups gives special taste to Firin Sutlac.

Where to find a hospital if my child gets sick?

It is normal to get sick when we change our climate or diet. Especially kids can easily get virus during travel. If you or your kids get sick (God save), you can go to Buyukcekmece Kolan International Hospital. It’s 5-7 minutes walk or 3 minutes ride by taxi from Eser Hotel to the Hospital.

Our babies got sick during travel too. My older baby had an allergy and second sweetheart had vomiting and temperature. We took them to the emergency early morning. Tell you the truth, I am not very satisfied with their service.

The receptionists didn’t do their job well, as they couldn’t answer to our questions regarding insurance, test types for kids, etc. However, luckily, the doctor was professional and his prescriptions helped kids. Below information may help you to get the main idea about the hospital.

Buyukcekmece Kolan International Hospital has 24/7 emergency service. The staff communicates in Turkish and English languages. But be careful with the price as it is different for locals and foreigners. The hospital is free for locals. You need to provide “TC numara” which means TC number/Turkish ID at the registration for a free service. If you don’t have Turkish ID, then you need to pay approximately $250-$300 for emergency service. You can pay in cash or by credit card.

They accept international insurance as well. Make sure that you have the same insurance that they cooperate. Depending on your insurance, you can also get a refund later for your bill. If you would like to purchase the specific insurance that hotel works with, you need to find it online because they don’t provide the list at the hospital.

What are the cons of the districts in Istanbul?

The only CONs of the suburbs is the long distance to the city center. It might take you hours to commute from suburb to city center. You need to spend hours if you would like to go to Bogaz or Blue Mosque. It is better to stay in Zeytunburnu if you plan to visit city center or famous sightseeings. My next post will be about Zeytunburnu, so, stay tuned and visit my blog soon, please 🙂

New Wine Tour Adventure in Paso Robles

New Wine Tour Adventure in Paso Robles

PASO ROBLES, CA – Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures announced today. It was now in full operation in the flourishing Paso Robles American Viticulture area.

New Wine Tour Adventure in Paso Robles

Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures, a wine tour adventure company, provides guests with the opportunity to experience Paso Robles wine country from the vantage of fully-restored scramblers with custom-tailored wine tasting/touring adventures. Customers can partake in any of the six-passenger touring Jeeps and face one another for a more intimate wine tasting experience.

Sal DeMauro, following the lead of his brother Dave of Cloud Climber Jeep Tours operating in the Santa Ynez Valley, shares his love for the local wine country with unique experiences to tourists, locals and wine country guests who want a distinct and different experience exploring the area’s diverse microclimates and touring opportunities. DeMauro, upon seeing the potential for fully custom-tailored jeep wine tours for area wineries and vineyards, assembled a fleet of vintage Scrambler Jeeps.

Along with that, CCJTA is proud to have a crew of passionate Jeep drivers/hosts who are highly knowledgeable of the area; ensuring guests get the best Paso Robles wine country experience possible.

“We strive to give every customer the most unique and fun-filled wine tasting experience possible.” He continues by saying, “What better place to explore the Paso Robles wine country than in the back of a Jeep Scrambler. Whether you’re exploring the more than 40 wine grape varietals growing in the AVA or in in search of a post-winetasting 4X4 adventure in the Santa Lucia Mountains near Paso Robles, open-air or covered Jeeps can offer just the experience you’re looking for.”

CCJTA offers wine country tours/adventures for the following:

Paso Robles Wine Tour
Off-the-Grid Wine Tours
Custom Wine Tours
Corporate Adventures

CCJTA is proud to work alongside an array of partners including wineries, tasting rooms, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and niche epicurean-based businesses to provide a fully custom-tailored experience during your next adventure to Paso Robles.

About Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures:

Off-the-Grid Wine Tours ın Paso Robles

Founded in 2013, CCJTA is a locally owned and operated wine tour adventure company in Paso Robles, CA. It provides custom Jeep tours to area wineries, vineyards and off-road destinations. The company services all of San Luis Obispo County, using six open-air passenger Jeeps to ensure guests get a one-of-a-kind adventure and want to come back with their family and friends to enjoy once more.

To learn more about Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures, check out: http://ccjta.com

The article belongs to author: Sal DeMauro – Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures and Imagination by Design Corporate Meeting Planners Bill Reed – owner of Central Coast Marketing Network and Destination Paso Robles

The publisher will not be held legally responsible should there be any claims for compensation. The blog owner is not responsible for the references provided by author. 


The Best Ride Sharing Apps in Bay Area, California

The Best Ride Sharing Apps in Bay Area, California

Uber is a free mobile app that connects you with a driver from low cost to premium. It takes 2 minutes to get a nice car in your door. There is no tipping in Uber. The policy says that tipping is included, however, the drivers don’t get any tips. There are 4 types of vehicle services for Uber in Bay Area.

  • UberX  includes an everyday car with seating for up to four people. This is Uber’s budget option. It costs cheaper than taxi
  • Taxi has an agreement with Uber. Uber Taxis are much like any normal taxi, except that you can pay through the app.
  • Black Car is Uber’s original service. Uber Black Car includes high-end sedans with seating for up to 4 people.
  • Uber SUV is more expensive than the Black Car service. It includes seating for up to 6 people and has enough space for luggages. It is a great option for airport limo service.

Although Uber provides black car and SUV vehicle services, the app itself has technical problems regularly. The app is either freezing or charge higher price. It is better to book a limo service ahead that offers a fair price. It is especially important for airport pick up or drop off in order to be at the airport on time. Naz Limo is a limo service company that offers luxury black car and SUVs for airport transportation. Naz Limo also includes special events limo service, San Francisco city tour limo service, Silicon Valley City Tour limo service, Napa Valley limo service. This company is based in Burlingame, California and works in whole Bay Area. 

How to use Uber app?

  1. Download Uber on iPhone or Download Uber on Android
  2. Make a registration
  3. Add your credit card information
  4. Open Uber map and tap to set your pickup location.
  5. Request your ride and a driver will accept.
  6. Enter the address of your destination.
  7. After pickup, the driver will see your destination
  8. You get the route and ETA
  9. You rate the Uber driver at the end of your trip
  10. Uber driver rates you too

Lyft is a ride share free mobile app that works different than Uber. Through the Lyft app, you can track your driver’s route, see a photo of your driver, and see what kind of car they’re driving. You need to log in to Lyft either using your Facebook account or phone number. Left has optional tipping. You can tip through the app. There are 4 types of vehicle services for Lyft in Bay Area:

  • Lyft is the cheapest ride. Lyft is a big rival for UberX. You can use it either solo or up to three friends
  • Lyft Line is the best one to share ride with others going the same way for a lower price.
  • Lyft Plus is a six-passenger ride with a more space for your staff. Left Plus is unsuccessful competitor for Uber SUV.

How to use Lyft app:

  1. Download Lyft on iPhone or Download Lyft on Android
  2. Login either with your Facebook account or phone number
  3. You will get a verification code
  4. Add you credit card to your Lyft account
  5. Open Lyft map and tap the balloon showing your location
  6. Tap request lyft
  7. The app charges you automatically when the ride is over
  8. You rate the driver at the en of your trip

Sidecar is the only ride share app that lets you choose your car, driver, price and ETA. You can choose drivers by lowest price from a list of rides. Sidecar also offers Sidecar Deliveries packages that you can use as a same-day delivery for prepared and Hot Foods, Groceries and Fresh Foods.

How to use Sidecar Ride App:

  1. Download Sidecar on iPhone or Download Sidecar on Android
  2. Choose the driver from a list
  3. Know the exact price before you confirm your ride.
  4. Request a ride and watch your driver approach in real-time.
  5. You rate the driver at the en of your trip

Carma Carpooling is the world’s only verified carpool application. The Carma app (car.ma) matches you with nearby people who want to share trips. You can browse profiles, send messages and even invite friends, neighbors or colleagues if you don’t find any matches nearby. You can choose to make the return trip with the same person or with someone else. The cost of the drive gets shared also. The riders pay roughly $0.20 per mile via automatic in-app transfers. Just don’t forget to tap ‘start trip’ when you hop in, and ‘end trip’ when you hop out.

How to Use Carma Carpooling App

  1. Download Carma Carpooling on iPhone or Download Carma Carpooling on Android
  2. Sign up for Carma Carpooling
  3. Register your FasTrak details in the app
  4. Log your HOV toll lane carpools with Carma

Wingz mobile app enables passengers to book door-to-door airport rides. You select your pick-up, drop-of location and time. Then you can preview the itinerary and the flat rate before you book the car. After submitting all the booking information, Wingz will select and connect you to your driver. You will be provided with the driver’s profile and vehicle information. Your booking will be reserved with your selected credit card. The pros is that you will only pay once the ride is completed.

How to Use Wingz App

  1. Download Wingz on iPhone or download Wingz on Android. You can also book your ride on wingz.me.
  2. Follow the instructions on the screen and define exactly the airport ride you need: airport, pick-up address, date & time, options.
  3. Post your ride request. It is immediately sent to available drivers.
  4. Get notified by text and email when your request is accepted.
  5. Get notified by text when your driver is on his way.
  6. You can cancel your ride when you want by clicking “Cancel”. Get to know Wingz cancellation policies by clicking here.
  7. Once at destination you are notified by text that the ride is done and you can review your driver.
  8. Your credit card is charged only after the ride. Tipping is optional and given through the app.

Your Guide To Road Trip Preparation

Your Guide To Road Trip Preparation

In our guide to road trip prep, you’ll learn about important safety precautions to take before and during your trip, comfort and organization items you can’t forget, and a few ideas for fun along the way. Road trip with safety and fun using this extensive guide to  road trip preparation.

Guide to Road Trip

(Photo Courtesy: Apassportfair)

Check your fluids: Your engine’s oil level and color, coolant, brake, transmission and differential, windshield washing solution, and other important fluids should be topped off.
Take care of major repairs: If your check engine light is on, or you’ve had a strange noise nagging you for a few weeks, don’t put it off any longer. Now is the time to take care of repairs, not on the side of the road.

Check your tires: You’ll put a lot of miles on your tires; make sure they’re ready to go. Take a look at remaining treads and use a gauge to measure tire pressure. Don’t forget your spare! It may need air. It’s a good idea to learn how to change a flat tire before hitting the road.

Take a look at hoses and belts: There’s never a good time for hoses and belts to give up on you, but road trips are especially unfortunate timing. Family Handyman recommends that you check out your hoses for bulges and blisters, and gently twist belts to see if they’re torn, cracked, or showing fiber cords. If you see any of these signs of trouble, get them replaced before your trip.

Check brake pads: Are your brakes squeaking and worn? It may be time to get new brake pads. Take a look at how much pad you have left, and get your pads changed ASAP if they begin to squeak or whine: that noise tells you they’re running out of usable pad and may soon damage rotors.

Check your battery: How old is your battery? Take a look at the date: if it’s more than four years old, consider replacing it before your trip. You should also check for leaks, cracks, corrosion, and other battery trouble spots.

Check your lights: Don’t get pulled over for a simple light problem, or create a hazardous situation by not illuminating the road properly. In your garage, turn your key to the accessories position (don’t start the car — this can lead to dangerous gas buildup) and turn on your lights. Use your blinkers, high beams, and brakes, taking a look in front and with your rear view mirror to make sure they’re all working properly.

Create a breakdown kit: Breakdowns can ruin your road trip plans, but if you’re prepared, you can get off the side of the road in a hurry. Pack a set of jumper cables, engine oil, fix-a-flat, basic repair tools, flashlight, tire iron, jack, and other essentials to get you to safety and back on the road in a flash. Extras include road salt or cat litter, reflective devices, an ice scraper, and matches. Duct tape can come in handy if you’re in a pinch with hoses and other vehicle trouble.

Ask your mechanic: If you’re really not confident in your ability to check your car, play it safe and call your mechanic for a quick pre-road trip checkup. They’ll make sure your fluids and tires are good to go, and alert you to any major problems that may cause trouble on the road.

Buy a road map: Even if you’re used to navigating by phone, remember that some areas may be short on cell coverage, rendering your smartphone useless. If you’re stuck, you’ll be happy to have a paper map as a backup. While you’re at it, double check for any detours that may exist on the route. Calculated Traveller recommends checking your routes for accuracy and not blindly trusting your GPS, as it may steer you wrong.

Stock up on first aid supplies: Roadside excursions can be fun, but may be hazardous. Make sure you’re ready with a first aid kit. Basics include band-aids, antiseptic, cortisone cream, and pain reliever. Remember to include extra drinking water and snacks in case you’re unexpectedly stuck in the car. You may even want to add sunscreen: it’s possible to get a sunburn through your car windows.

Get a car charger: Long stretches of road without service may exhaust your phone’s battery as it searches for a signal. Make sure you’re always connected by investing in a car charger for your phone. You may want to buy an inverter, which allows you to charge household two- and three-pronged cords into your car’s outlet.

Road Trip Organization and Comfort

guide to road trip

(Photo Courtesy: Communitytable)

Travel itinerary: Map out your travel plans on paper so that everyone in the car knows what to expect. Determine approximate or accurate locations for where you’ll stay, picnic, and of course, your ultimate destination. Keep any lodging, rental, and other travel confirmations handy on your itinerary as well. This is a good place to add emergency contact numbers, including roadside assistance and your insurance company.

Organize paperwork: Make sure your registration and insurance are up to date and stored safely with your driver’s manual in your glovebox. If you have roadside assistance, make sure you’re ready with information to call for help if you need it.

Wet wipes: Even if you’re childless or your kids are long grown out of diapers, baby wipes always come in handy on a road trip. Quickly clean up car messes, clean hands after checking your oil or tire pressure, and wipe up after eating using baby wipes or wet wipes. Consider packing hand sanitizer, too. A spare roll of toiler paper can come in handy if you come across a rest stop without any.

Trash bag: When you’re in the car for hours at a time, stuff just seems to accumulate. Snack wrappers, drinks, fast food bags, and other discards can junk up your car quickly. Be prepared with a designated bag for trash — and remember to dump it out regularly when you stop for gas.

Cash and coins: Some routes may require that you take toll roads. Be prepared with a stock of coins. Otherwise, you may have to make an unexpected stop for cash on the road. You should also be ready with cash for pit stops, as some stores may not accept credit cards or out of town checks.

Plan your stops: As you review your route on the map, identify towns where you may want to stop for gas, food, or simply to stretch your legs. You should plan to stop about every 2-3 hours to get moving and refresh.

Download a gas app: Save money and locate the nearest gas stations with a gas app like GasBuddy.

Don’t forget the fun: Safety, organization, and comfort are important, but road trips are supposed to be a blast. Prepare with playlists, audiobooks, a travel journal, road trip games (like a roadside scavenger hunt you can use to spot items along the way), your camera, maps for kids to follow, movies, and more.

This post shared in our blog in a co-operation with Direct Buy Warranty Staff. Read the full article here.
The Best Travel Ideas, Deals and Free Events for Mother’s Day.

The Best Travel Ideas, Deals and Free Events for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and the influence of mothers in society. Mother’s Day is annually held on the second Sunday of May in the United States. The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 by Anna Jarvis  in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna Jarvis wanted to accomplish her mother’s dream of making a celebration for all mothers and began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Anna Jarvis’ holiday was adopted by other countries and it is now celebrated all over the world but in different days.

As a mother who values responsibilities in her family and in a society, and as a daughter who lost her beloved and proud mother three years ago, I can say with certainty that the best gift for a mother is her children. I still remember my mother’s brilliant words saying that not any jewelry or any expensive gift from brand store can make a mother happy as the happiness of her children. Mother never wants to challenge (either financially or morally) her children or husband spending thousand dollars on Mother’s Day in order to make her happy. Just contacting her regularly and saying that we (children) are self and sound, and love her very much would be enough to make her happy.

Happy Mothers Day, Me and My Proud Mother

(Photo: My Proud Mom and Me)

However, I know that there are many family members looking for ideas to make this day unusual for their mother. As a travel blogger, I came up with several travel ideas for Mother’s Day that might be helpful to make this day extraordinary and unforgetable. Besides travel ideas, you can also see special discounts and free events for Mother’s Day. In addition to these special ideas, I would like to mention that one day celebration is not enough in terms of what mother experienced by giving us a life and growing us. Children’s and husband’s respect and love are the most expensive gifts for mothers. As the Prophet Muhammed said “Paradise lies under the feet of your mother” which means you should love and respect your mother in order to enter heaven. So, call your mother or wife and tell her that she is the most important person in your life, and you love and proud her very much!

Mother’s Day on the Water with Hornblower Cruises

Bridge and Skyline, Hornblower Cruises

 

Hornblower Cruises hosting dining cruises for Mother’s Day. This unique Mother’s Day Brunch Cruise includes a Mother’s Day buffet menu, live jazz music, and nonstop views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. The brunch cruise includes free-flowing champagne and other brunch cocktails. They have a dinner cruise that includes a 4-course meal at night. There are three different cruises to choose from that leave from Pier 3 at Hornblower Landing (Embarcadero  and Washington):

11:30am – Mother’s Day Premier Brunch
11:30am – Mother’s Day Brunch on the San Francisco Belle
7:00pm – Mother’s Day Dinner Cruise

When: Sunday, May 11 11:30am
Where: San Francisco, CA
Phone: (855) 253-7695
Price: Cruises Start at $74.00 per Person
Age Suitability: Kids and up

Family Membership to Aquarium of the Bay (Up to 55% Off)

An Aquarium of the Bay offers up to 55% off discount for one family membership and one family plus membership via Groupon. There is also a free admission to moms and grandmas all day in celebration of Mother’s Day on May 11. They also have special presentations focusing on moms and babies in San Francisco Bay. You can watch the baby bat rays in Touch the Bay exhibit get fed, or take a Behind the Scenes tour for a chance to get up close to some of newest babies.

Presentations:                                                                         

  • Moms of the Bay – Offshore Tunnel for a talk focusing on our shark moms at 11:30 am and 1:15 pm.
  • Touchpool Feeding – Touch the Bay animals, including our baby bat rays, enjoy a tasty lunch at 12:30 pm.
  • Behind the Scenes – Learn at how the Aquarium works and cares for 20,000 marine animals, including babies who were born there.
Where: Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach/Telegraph Hill, San Francisco
Price: $49 for one family membership ($110 value) or $59 for one family plus membership ($130 value)
Note: Behind the Scenes tours are a $12 upgrade to Aquarium admission, for non-members. Price does not include Aquarium admission. For Aquarium Members, Behind the Scenes tours are $10Phone: 415-623-5333

Mother’s Day Gourmet Cupcake & Chocolate Tour

Gourmet Chocolate Tour, Mothers Day

(Photo Courtesy: SF Gate)

Gourmet Chocolate Tour begins at the Justin Herman Plaza and ends at Westfield Centre in San Francisco. The 3-hour walking tour includes 7 different stops at downtown chocolate boutiques. All moms with the special Chocolate & Flowers package receive a colorful springtime bouquet. If chocolate is not her thing, there are alternative culinary walking tours that may fit your mother’s taste.

Guests will receive a Chocolate Lover Card entitling you to discounts and VIP treatment at 10 different San Francisco chocolate boutiques. Lots of samples are included to the tastings, such as Assorted truffles from a beloved local chocolatier who showcases fresh, farmer’s markets ingredients; blind chocolate bar tasting at a specialty newsstand that carries 225 different bars from 15 different countries; Champagne truffles by Oprah’s favorite Swiss chocolates; hot chocolate and chocolates from a new Belgian chocolate maker, etc.

When: Saturday, May 10, 1pm
Where: 4 Embarcadero Center,Osha Thai Restaurant, San Francisco, CA
Price: $62. Can get a discount via Groupon
Phone: 415-312-1119
 
 

One-Hour Massage at Spa J’Adore

Spa J’Adore‘s wide windows allow rays of sunlight to illuminate Buddha photos, exposed-brick walls, and brilliant orchids. Their décor, a combination of urban chic and zen sensibilities, reflects the massage practice’s dual focus on Western and Eastern traditions. To that end, massage therapists are equally adept at deep-tissue and Swedish treatments as modalities from Thailand and Japan. The staff also paints on tans with brushes instead of sprays during body-bronzing sessions, which create a smoother, more natural appearance. After their treatments, clients can lounge on the spa’s balcony, sipping herbal tea from heavy clay cups and relaying semaphore messages to hikers on distant mountains. Massage therapy is among the best ways to achieve relaxation, on par with listening to actor Ed Harris chant in whale song.

When: Expires 120 days after purchase via Groupon
Where: Downtown, 490 Post Street, Suite 1701, San Francisco, California 94102
Price: $49 for a one-hour massage (a $120 value). Get the discount via Groupon

Sacramento State Mother’s Day Concert

Camerata Capistrano, Sacramento State’s renowned baroque ensemble, presents a special Mother’s Day concert: “The Spirit of Love and Improvisation”. The program includes intimate chamber works by Couperin and Vivaldi, and “big band” pieces by Telemann and Geminiani.

When: Sunday, May 11 4:00p
Where: Sac State Capistrano Hall Room 151, Sacramento, CA
Phone: (916) 278-5191
Price: $10 general, $7 seniors, $5 students
Age Suitabilit`: Not Specified
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Free Things to Do in Washington, DC

Free Things to Do in Washington, DC

I can admit from my personal experience and observation that spring and summer months (especially May and June) are the busiest time for scholars, exchange program participants and international students to travel to the US.  These groups of people travel to the US for a specific reason, education. However, they also enjoy the opportunity to see the sightseeings and travel as much as possible. In most cases, people who travel for educational reason, look for places that he/she can visit for free, without spending too much money on tickets or admissions. As they travel with a limited budget, visiting free places help them learn the US and save some money for gifts and shopping.

There are so many interesting places in the US, like museums, attractions, parks, etc that we can visit for free, probably some local people even don’t know about it. Today, I have decided to come up with the free places in Washington DC, because it is the heart of all the cities that accepts scholars and exchange program participants.  I believe that this post will help travelers as well as locals to visit more places for free.

Free Places to Visit in Washington DC

Air Force Memorial

Air Force Memorial

(Photo Courtesy: Volkan Yuksel, Panoramio)

The Air Force Memorial, honoring the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Air Force. The design of the Air Force Memorial symbolizes flight. The flying spirit with three stainless steel spires (270 feet high)  represents contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds which disperses in a “bomb burst” maneuver.

Location: One Air Force Memorial Drive, Arlington, VA. The memorial is located off of Columbia Pike near VA-244. The Pentagon Metro station is within walking distance of the memorial.

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Garden

(Photo Courtesy: Ron Cogswell, Flickr)

Botanic Garden has approximately 4,000 seasonal, tropical and subtropical plants. The National Garden includes a First Ladies’ water garden, an extensive rose garden, a butterfly garden, and a display of a variety of regional trees, shrubs and perennials. It is administered by the Architect of the Capitol.

Location: The U.S. Botanic Garden is located across from the U.S. Capitol Building along First St. SW, between Maryland Ave. and C St. Bartholdi Park sits behind the Conservatory and is accessible from Independence Ave., Washington Ave. or First St. The closest Metro station is Federal Center SW

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The Best Kid Friendly Activities and Places in San Francisco

The Best Kid Friendly Activities and Places in San Francisco

Best Places to Take Kids in San Francisco

Summer is coming and kids are expecting to spend more time with them, traveling and taking them to the different interesting places. Depending on kids’ age and interest, and of course our budget too, we can take them to various places, starting from Zoo, including museums, magic shows, movies, ice-cream shops, etc. The more things they observe, the more chances they have to learn; the more they learn, the more social and smart they become.

Trying to entertain my toddler and have a good time together, I needed to find out the best kid friendly activities and places in San Francisco. While doing search, I realized that there are so many best places to take kids that I didn’t know before, although I live in San Francisco.  I believe that the list that I prepared below will be a good source for parents and relatives who wish to spend some time  and have fun with kids. However, I might miss some places.

Do you know any toddler friendly places in San Francisco? If yes, please, add in the comments.

Best Places to Take Kids in San Francisco

Union Square – Financial District – Embarcadero – Civic Center Continue reading

Best Flight Apps

Best Flight Apps

www.dervish-az.comTechnology became the main part our daily life. It became so important that we even share our personal life on social networks, including what cook, which restaurant we go, where we travel, how we were treated at the custom, and if we satisfied or dissatisfied with any service or products.

Remembering we used to go to special places to buy the flight ticket a few years ago, seems the waste of a time now. Thanks to the growing technology, we book our tickets online now, that makes our life much more easier. Besides booking a ticket, we can find a better place to eat if we are on travel, share our traveling photos, find the cheapest gas station near us, order a taxi if we lost, more and more, using various apps.

Doing some searches about travel apps, I found few travel apps that I didn’t know about their existence. And it encouraged me to write a special post gathering all the travel apps under one topic that can help you as a travel guide.

Flight Ticket Apps

SkyScanner (free): The most famous flight ticket app among travelers. It scans all the major airlines’ websites for the lowest fares, You can search by specific date, destination, and even time, or see where you can go anytime in April for $150 with their broader search functions. You can search for flights from your airport to everywhere, and Skyscanner will return a list of destinations and prices. Skyscanner will also tell you if it’s cheaper to book one-way tickets on separate airlines rather than a round-trip on one provider. Continue reading