Guide to New York’s Souvenirs

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If you’re budgeting a trip to New York City or just planning what you’re going to buy when you get there, souvenirs are good to consider. Shopping is a big part of the city, with some of the best and biggest shops. And they are everywhere, from stores that take up entire buildings to gift shops and street vendors. The most important things you should know is what to buy if you want to save money, what to do if you don’t have money for souvenirs. What the popular souvenirs are and where you should get them. Also some quick advice and what the real shopping experience is like. Leave some room in your suitcase, because you will need the space!

If your short on money or a smart spender, you should remember to consider souvenirs when you budget your money. Set a limit for yourself so you won’t leave to city broke. And this means you only buy items you really like, so you don’t experience buyer’s remorse.

If you can’t afford to go shopping after the overall cost of the trip don’t feel bad. A t-shirt is nice, but memories can be enough. Also some attractions have a few free souvenirs you can have. At the museum of modern art there was an exhibit that gave away free posters. You can also get creative and make a free souvenir scrape book. Collect a free token of each place you visit, like a brochure from a museum or a napkin from a street vendor and create a book or a box of memories. The best things in life may be free, if you believe they are.

There are many popular souvenirs to buy in New York City. A t-shirt or a hoodie is almost a must. Don’t buy the $5 shirts from a stand on the street. It probably won’t even survive the first wash. They are cheap for a reason. There are stores everywhere that sell t-shirts and hoodies so this is a simple buy with many different choices. Other tourist favourites are New York Yankee’s caps. A good one may cost $25- $30 American. However some of my travel companions managed to barter ten dollars off each hat they bought. Some times it pays to speak up. Key chains and magnets are the cheapest souvenirs you can buy. They are plentiful and if you keep and eye out you can find some amazing ones for a cheaper than average price. Expensive magnets and key chains are about $4-$7 American and cheap ones are about $2-$3 American.

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There are some really cool souvenirs in gift shops. They also tend to be expensive. If you are trying to save money I suggest skipping the gift shops and looking for souvenirs from that attraction from a cheaper street store. If you’re not focused on the price, but the item itself, then gift shops are your best friend. Gift shops have good quality and unique products. They may be pricey, but they are worth it.

A gift shop that is especially good is the Museum of Modern Art. Save your money for this one, there is a great selection with creative products. When I was there I purchased two magnets and an umbrella. The umbrella has a neutral colour design on the outside and a Van Gogh starry night sky design on the inside. This was the most expensive thing I bought on the trip, but it’s also my favourite. I like souvenirs that are little out of the ordinary and this gave me that satisfaction.

If you are coming to New York for real shopping, than you came to the right place. New York has an endless amount of stores to choose from. New york has the world’s largest Macy’s, and also has many other stares that take up whole buildings. The clothes tend to be pricey, but I did find some good sales while I was there. There are so many clothes, it’s easy to find something you like. My friends left with an armful of clothing and even I found a shirt to buy, and I’m not much of a shopper. If you are serious about shopping, give yourself lots of time. Shopping in stores of that volume takes hours.

New York is a busy town, with many shops to buy from and many deals to consider. Remember to have fun, and have a happy shopping experience.

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The Power of Photo Editing

Have you ever seen a photo on a travel site and thought “that place is so pretty it can’t possibly exist?”. Chances are you’re probably right. Photo editing and Photoshop happen to be an obvious tool in media and travel sites which people tend to be oblivious to. Filters and strategic shots can determine how you view a place, and cities and the travel industry will use it to convince you that their cities are the best place to visit.

When I was on a camping trip at a provincial park, I meet a photographer hired to help advertize the park. He asked to take photos of my brother who was splashing water in a lake, hoping to add him the park’s official website. When he was taking the photos he explained how he might not be able to use the photos because there were clouds in the back ground. Clouds give the impression that it rains a lot, which does not bring the tourists in. Small details like theses are thought out in travel magazines, travel websites and Pinterest posts. They do everything they can to make everything seem more appealing.

Photo enhancing is in my option, the most misleading. Photo enhancing changes how the reality would have looked completely. This deception isn’t just used in travel photos however, but all around us. Instagram, magazines, Pintreset, photo enhancing is expected and changes our perception on the true reality. Take these two photos for example. The first one is and unedited photo of myself, and the second one is edited.

 

The affect of running a colour run

         It is always important when making decisions on your next vacation destination, to remember that travel agents are always trying to sell the locations to you. Make your choices based on your preferences, what you’re looking for in a vacation. Looking at photos can be inspiring and helpful, but keep in mind that they aren’t always trustworthy and you may need to lower your standards if you choose to travel there.

Kona, Hawaii

Packing Tips for New Travelers

Packing for any trip is important as you will be most likely living out of your suitcase for a while. It is best that you put some thought into what you bring on your adventure. Packing can be fun as it makes you excited for your trip, but if you’re new at traveling or need advice, these are my best tips for practical and easy packing

1) Pack light

Over packing can be expensive, heavy and pointless. Bring what you need not what you think you might need. You can save space in your luggage, which is useful if you’re planning on getting souvenirs. If you’re flying, depending on what airline you’re going on, you can save money because of your lighter bag. Packing light can help you out if you know if you’re going to be carrying your luggage ahead of time and make your load easier. It’s easier to keep track of your belongings and you only bring what you need. Overall packing light is smart.

2) Know your necessities

Your destination does affect what you have to bring. Packing for a tropical climate is different then packing for a skiing adventure. Evaluate the conditions and requirements of your planned location and know what you must bring.

3) No “Maybe” clothes

In my own experience I have notice I pack clothes which I think I might wear, then I don’t. This takes up a lot of valuable space in my suit case. If you also relate to this problem save yourself the trouble and only pack clothes you know you will wear for sure. You will save yourself space and unnecessary laundry.

4) Roll your clothes

Rolling clothes take up less space then folded clothes.

5) Keep in mind how long you will be away

How much you need to pack depends on how long you will be away. Short trips are easy to pack for; as you bring clothes for each day you’re gone. Longer trips however require more thought. Pack based on how many laundry opportunities you have and if you’re willing to re-wear clean-ish clothes.

6) Careful when packing jewelry

Necklaces and bracelets can easily get tangled, broken and lost while travelling. My best solution for this is to bring jewelry that wont tangle, like a bracelet with thick beads. If you want to bring a delicate necklace, I have seen people clasp them through straws to keep them safe and untangled.

7) Make a list for next time

After you have gone on a couple trips, you start to know what you must pack. Try making an official packing list. This way you know where to start packing for your next trip.

8) Have distinguishable luggage

Most suitcases these days are black, and if you are looking for your luggage after your flight, it may be difficult. Or what happened to me is someone took my bag thinking it was their own. Luckily they left their real suitcase behind and the airport staff contacted the person and i got my stuff back, but that doesn’t always happen. Having a suit case that is a crazy colour can help you identify it as your own, which can also help you if you see some one swipe it. A fast response can save you the stress of losing your bag.

After packing for many trips, this is the best advice I can offer. If you have some tips for packing that I missed, feel free to comment them, you might help someone out. Happy travels!

Must know Information about Visiting Paris

In 2014, my family decided to travel to France for summer vacation. We spent two weeks in Normandy, and spent our final week in Paris. Paris is a large city filled with landmarks, traditions and an unfamiliar culture. Going there, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised about how great Paris was. I had fun seeing their famous landmarks and I was also happy just to wander the streets. However, there are a few things I wish I knew before I went there for the first time.

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Paris

       Pickpockets and scams

With large crowds come pickpockets. Paris is no exception, and stolen wallets are a common occurrence. Luckily there are some measures you can take to protect yourself. What worked for my family is keeping wallets in the bottom of our full backpacks. Never put all of your valuables in one place, for an example in a purse. If that purse gets swiped then you can lose your identification as well as money, and as a traveler, those are crucial. Taking measures to be cautious never hurt anyone (except the thieves). If you are travelling with kids, be sure to inform them about thieves and how to handle possible situations. Also prepare for the unexpected. If you let your guard down and you wallet or passport get nicked, what will you do then? Prepare a backup plan. Being careful in crowds is a must. While my family was waiting in in line to get into the Palace of Versailles, my Mum’s bag was unzipped three times. Luckily nothing was stolen, but you have to watch your back and watch out for your travel companions. Always be wary of pickpockets in Paris.

There are many scams to watch out for as well. One of these scams my family encountered while on our trip. As we were walking along the Seine River and a group of women surrounded us, tapping pens on their clipboards quietly. I found out later that in this scam, people pretending to be deaf distract you with a campaign to help the deaf (which is another scam) and steal your wallet when you are distracted. My family luckily recognized it as a scam immediately, and maturely ran away. It was an odd experience (one of the women kissed my mum’s shoulder), but we escaped with our wallets and phone and we were fine. It was eye opening that scams aren’t something that only happens to other people, it can happen to you too. Be cautious while in Paris. You can also educate yourself on some of the common scams before going. Suggestion on where to learn more: http://thesavvybackpacker.com/pickpockets-europe/

Long lines

Paris has about 30 million visitors each year, and if you’re going to visit a famous exhibits or attraction, you should be expecting long lineups and waits. The best thing you can do to prepare is to buy your entrance pass ahead of time. You can do this trough a travel agent. Trust me, you will thank me later as this will save your time and patience. Always try to do you biggest attraction first thing in the morning so you beat most of the crowds. There is an exception to this rule because a great time to visit the Eiffel tower is in the evening during dinner. The lines quiet down and if you stay long enough, you can see the city at night. The ‘The city of lights” name is outdated and the city does get quite dark, but the tower lights up which is nice, and worthwhile to see. If you know you will be standing in a long line outdoors be sure to bring water, wear sunscreen and a hat as you may be in the sun for a while. Or if it’s going to rain bring an umbrella and a rain coat.

Language barrier

Knowing French is not necessary to visit Paris. Paris is a tourist friendly city and it is easy to survive without knowing French. However a few useful sayings can get you far there. It can earn you more respect as a tourist from the Parisians (most people who live in Paris are not fond of tourists, to put it nicely). I would recommend learning a bit of French before you go, as this may give you and advantage when you need help or when you are lost. It can help you make friends along the way, too. I found small French towns were more willing to talk to travellers and I had quite a few nice long conversations. In Paris, conversations with locals were almost nonexistent.

 

The Bigger the Attraction, the Bigger the Price

Prices around famous attractions tend to be more expensive. For an example, don’t eat lunch right beside the Eiffel tower. Lunch for four people cost $100 Canadian. The over priced food didn’t even taste that good, it was your typical fast food. Any sane person would have walked away, but my family was at a desperate point where we were hungry, grumpy and tired and needed to sit down and eat. Ways to avoid pricey meals are packing lots of snacks to hold you over and planning to eat in less touristy areas. Packing your own lunch is a cheap alternative.

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Notre Dame

 

One last piece of advice, be careful when ordering water. It is common to receive distilled water instead of normal water. You may have to clarify.

Paris is an amazing place to visit and I wish I could have spent more time there. I hope your trip will be fantastic and this advice will help you along the way. It’s nice not to be unpleasantly surprised if you keep this article in mind, you can avoid the common unexpected situations. Bon voyage!

Vancouverite’s guide to Vancouver

Spending your holidays in Vancouver? Vancouver may not be your typical travel destination, but there are many activities and attractions to do and see. I will be adding on to this post through time, so check for updates. This is the ultimate guide to Vancouver told by a Vancouverite.

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Vancouver Skyline

            Science world (The Telus world of science)

One of the most recognizable structures in Vancouver, the Telus world of science is a great experience for the whole family. Science world has many exhibits and live shows that are fun for children. This is also a wheelchair friendly place. For lunch there is a white spot, but it can get crowded if you go at a busy time. Science world is also home to the largest OMNIMAX Theater in the world, standing at 5 storeys tall and 27 meters in diameter, you will be impressed. Show topics very through out the day.

 

General admission rates                           Operating hours depend on season

Adults (19+)           $22.50                      Check http://scienceworld.ca for

Senior (65+)           $18.50                      more information

Student (w/ID)     $18.50

Youth (13-18)       $18.50

Child (3-12)           $15.25

Under 3                   free

            Gastown

Gastown is a historic site in downtown Vancouver, and a hot spot for tourist. This part of town will charm you with its Victorian architecture and small shops. Named after John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, this is a great place for photos, purchasing souvenirs and seeing street artist’s work. Two Gastown landmarks are the steam clock and the gassy Jack statue. The steam clock is located at 305 water street (or at the corner of water street and Cambie), and the Gassy Jack statue is located at 1 water street. If you are a night owl, there are haunted Gastown tours for you to enjoy. These walking tours will take you around Gastown at night and tell stories of ghosts and their killers. Gastown is beautiful at night, so bring a camera. Be prepared for a great afternoon.

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Gassy Jack Statue

Concerts

Vancouver is a major Canadian city that does host quite a few concert. Even though it is common for artists to only perform in Toronto, Vancouver still attracts many famous and not so famous musicians. Concerts are held in arena’s like Rogers arena, BC place and the pacific coliseum and in smaller venues like the vogue theatre and the Queen Elizabeth theatre. Check there schedules when you come to town! The PNE, a fair hosted by amusement park Playland, also host concerts in august. Although you can catch a concert from an international band, you can try seeing a local one. Marianas Trench is a Vancouver favourite.

The Vancouver Sun Run

The Sun Run is a 10km run through downtown Vancouver. Hosted on a weekend morning in April, you can run through the streets of Vancouver with thousands of others. This huge event has bands playing along the route, followed by after run snacks in BC place. The very next day you get your name and time written in the Vancouver Sun, the newspaper. Run or walk, there is an exciting atmosphere and a fun time to be had! all ages come out.