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House swapping has been around for a long time, but many people are still unaware that it can allow you to travel the world without spending too much cash!
With almost no overhead costs it will give you a lot more freedom on your trip.
But many people do not want to swap housing because they might be afraid of what will happen.
So, to help make your first house swap as easy as possible, we’ve compiled a few tips to keep you safe and comfortable during your stay.
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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
House swapping is when two or more people sign up on a home exchange website and agree to stay in each other’s homes for a certain period of time.
Typically, you will be able to list the dates and length of your stay and the owner of the home will be able to do the same.
When you find someone you want to swap homes with, all it takes is a quick email and maybe a video call to confirm the arrangement.
If you are ready to start finding people to swap homes with, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind:
Find a reputable swap housing website.
There are many websites for swapping homes, but not all of them are legit.
That is why before agreeing to anything, make sure to check out the policies to see if there are any ridiculous or unfair terms for either party.
Make sure that both parties have complete trust in each other.
If you’re afraid that your prospective house swapper will not stay true to their word, then you should look for a different host or guest.
When it comes down to it, trust is the key to a successful house swap!
Be prepared with extra supplies.
As with any guests coming into your home for an extended period of time, be prepared to have extra food, toiletries, and anything else that your swappers might need while staying with you.
Be prepared for the worst.
You never know what might happen while your swappers are staying in your home.
It is always good to have some contingency plans in the event that something goes wrong.
Providing them with emergency phone numbers to call and having a first aid kit nearby are just a few things that you may want to have on hand during their stay.
While house swapping, your guests will be spending several days or weeks in your home.
Because of this, it is important to be understanding if they are ever running behind on their end or if something unexpected comes up that stops them from meeting the initial expectations.
However, do not make them feel like they can get away with anything and everything under the sun either!
Once you have decided to swap homes, it is important to know what the expectations are for both of you so that everyone is on the same page.
Here are a few things that people normally expect when staying at your home:
A clean house.
It’s important to have a clean house when you are expecting guests.
This means that all areas of your home should all be tidy and neat, which includes bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, etc.
Comfortable beds, with clean sheets.
We all like to sleep in comfort, so make sure to have clean sheets on all of your beds.
Remember, you want your guests to feel welcomed and comfortable!
Reliable Wi-Fi connection.
People expect a strong internet connection when they travel these days, so make sure your Wi-Fi is reliable before you expect people to use it.
Also, be sure to share the wifi password with your guests, to avoid any inconvenience.
An overall friendly atmosphere.
In order for house swapping to run smoothly, people need to be able to feel at home in your place.
Even if you are not a naturally hospitable person, try and let your swappers feel welcome when they arrive by providing them thoughtful welcome gifts.
A safe environment.
When people are traveling, they will want to feel safe and secure in your home.
Talk to your swappers about staying safe and making themselves at home during their stay.
This way, you can make sure everyone is respected and feels good in the space they are staying in.
Even though it will not be part of your responsibility to make sure that your guests can get around town, knowing routes and having a general idea of how long it might take to get to different places can be very helpful.
So make sure to share tips on the best transportation to nearby places and main attractions.
Leaving your home while you are away can be a little scary, especially because you will need to trust that your potential swappers are going to respect your home and leave it the way they found it.
Here are some ideas on how you can ensure that everything will be alright while you’re away:
Have them sign a contract.
When you’ve found your ideal house swapper, make sure that they agree to the terms that you have set for them to follow while they are in your home.
Ideally, the website that you use to house swap should have a contract so that the swappers have to agree to a set of rules.
By doing this, you will know exactly what they are responsible for while they are in your home and vice versa.
Leave a spare key in a very hidden spot.
If your swapper does somehow find themselves locked out of your house then leaving a spare key somewhere in the home will at least give them access to it so that they can let themselves in.
If you do not think having any extra keys lying around is safe, another option could be leaving an extra key with a trusted neighbor or friend that lives near your house.
There are many different things that you want to take into consideration when selecting the ideal house swapper.
Here are some ideas on what to keep in mind:
Are they responsible?
One of the most important things to think about when you are looking for a house swapper is their level of responsibility.
Before accepting a house swap, make sure that the person you’re dealing with is going to be able to respect your home, clean up after themselves, and leave it in the same condition they found it.
Ask them questions about their experience house swapping or living in a different country.
That way you have a better understanding of their experience and how they handle situations.
Do they have children?
If your potential swappers are traveling with their kids, then your situation will be a bit more different than if you were house swapping without any children involved.
It is important to remember that if there are children in the home you will need to determine whether your home is child friendly.
Make sure that any sharp corners or items you don’t want to be knocked over are out of reach and cannot be played with.
Will they respect my privacy?
Though it may be exciting to live in someone else’s home for a little while, make sure that your potential house swapper also respects your privacy and space while they are there.
If you are open to swapping with them, then they should be okay with having the place to themselves for a little while.
It is important that everyone involved knows what is expected of them so that their stay is pleasant and they don’t feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at your house.
Now that you know how to find a trustworthy house swapper and what you need to do once they arrive at your place, here is a list of the best websites that you can use if you want to start swapping homes:
HomeExchange is the original website created for people who are interested in swapping homes with other travelers around the world.
To get started, members have to set up a profile, and then they can start exchanging their homes almost immediately.
Their annual membership fee is $150 which includes unlimited home exchanges for 12 months, property protection, member support and so much more.
A membership-based site where you will have access to thousands of listings in different locations around the world.
HomeLink is a great resource for those who are looking for an extended stay in another country, like a long-term home exchange.
They also have American homes available if you want to find someone you can swap with close to the United States.
If you don’t mind paying an annual fee of $105, then it is definitely worth checking out their website and profiles today.
Is a website that was created specifically for homeowners who want to lease out their property to travelers looking to swap housing or short-term rental.
HouseTrip includes homes all over the world, even in locations that are usually very hard to find on other sites.
If you are looking for homes in Europe, then this site is definitely worth checking out.
Be sure to look at their website if you are interested in swapping your home or temporarily renting it out to someone else who will be traveling near the area where you live.
You can sign up for free and pay just 3% per booking.
Love Home Swap allows you to swap housing with someone else in their network for as long as you like.
You will have access to thousands of listings across 100 different countries if you decide to join their website today.
Their standard membership fee is $13 monthly billed annually.
Home for Swap is a great place to begin your house swapping adventures.
You will have access to over 10,000 members from 120 different countries if you choose to use their site as a resource every day.
The best part about this website is that they offer a 24-hour support service if you need it during a swap or booking.
Their annual fee is 70 €, which allows you to list your property and connect with other users who you can swap housing with.
Holiday Swap allows you to swap housing with other people in over 100 countries so that you can stay in a new and exciting destination without having to spend too much money.
This website allows you to try the site for free for 30 days and gives you the option to sign up for the premium membership for only $10 a month.
The premium membership includes email support, property boost, a 14-day property damage guarantee, and much more.
Switch Homes allows you to find homes all over the world so you can travel easily without having to spend too much money.
Currently, their site has rental listings in locations like Australia, France, United Kingdom, and more.
Their site is easy to use because they have individual property profiles for each listed homes.
All you have to do is sign up for their free membership (with no yearly fees) and then search through the available homes.
With all of these home exchange websites online, you will have access to thousands of homes all over the world.
No matter what country you want to travel to or how long you plan to stay there, it is easy to use if you don’t mind paying a small monthly fee for their services.
Remember that memberships on these websites are affordable for the most part, but always read their policies before accepting any offers or making any bookings with them.
Staying in a new home while you are traveling is oftentimes more exciting than finding a hotel room.
However, we will now take a look at some of the pros and cons with home exchanges so that you can make the best decision for yourself.
• Picking up new skills along the way, like cooking dishes that are native to the region you are visiting.
• If you are interested in interior design, then swapping homes will allow you to see how other people decorate their homes.
• Some homeowners who sign up for this type of housing exchange will give you free access to their amenities such as pools and hot tubs.
• Saving money on accommodation all over the world is easier than ever when you use one of these websites to swap homes with someone.
• You can connect with other like-minded people who are also looking for places to stay while they are traveling.
• Not all property owners will be good at communicating, which could lead to some awkward situations if you end up swapping homes with a person who doesn’t respond in a timely manner.
• You might not feel comfortable staying in someone else’s home when you aren’t familiar with the area they live in.
• Property owners may make demands that you are not okay with when it comes to their house rules while you are living there for a certain period of time.
• Some homeowners might have additional plans for you during your stay, which you will need to discuss before making any agreements with them.
At the end of the day, it is up to each individual to decide if house swapping is right for them or not.
Remember that communication is key when using these types of housing exchange websites, so always make sure you confirm all of your plans with your potential host before making any agreements with them.
One of the biggest concerns people have when they swap housing is how safe it will be for them to live in someone else’s home.
We’ll take a look at some ways you can stay as safe while you are swapping homes with someone you don’t know.
Read each homeowner’s reviews and ratings before making any agreements with them.
If there are other people who are currently using this person’s services, then they should have testimonials or reviews that you can read through before finalizing an agreement.
Watch each homeowner’s interactions with other people
If they are rude to their customers in public, then they will probably be just as rude when they are hosting you in their home.
Make sure you have a backup plan in case anything happens with your host
If they are not willing to work with you, then you can always find another homeowner who is interested in house swapping.
Don’t be afraid to step up and speak up for yourself
If you feel as though the homeowner is treating you unfairly, then let them know that you will not stand for it.
Get references from your potential host before agreeing to anything
This is a great way to check up on them and see what other people have experienced when they have used this person’s hosting services in the past.
Do not be afraid to report dangerous situations
If you feel that you are in danger at any time when you are staying with someone, then contact the authorities.
House swapping can be a great way to travel the world, but it is important that you stay safe throughout the entire process.
As long as you use common sense when you swap housing, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to find an exchange that fits your lifestyle and budget.
If you are still hesitant about participating in house swapping, then it may be helpful for you to read the most frequently asked questions below.
1. How does it work?
• Find a reputable website to swap housing and sign up to become a member
• Then find a homeowner who is living in your desired destination.
• Find out how often they would like their home swapped and if you are okay with the length of time between swaps.
• Agree on terms for swapping homes, which can include money, cheques, home swapping, or any other type of payment.
• Once you have swapped homes with them, enjoy your trip!
2. Are house swapping websites free?
Some housing exchange websites do allow you to swap homes for free or give you the option to pay in order to access more features on their site.
Make sure to read the terms of service for each website that you sign up with to find out if any of them include free swaps, or want you to pay money for their services.
3. What is the best website for swapping homes?
The best website to use will depend on a few factors, including your personal preferences and what kind of exchange you are looking for.
Make sure to read each website’s reviews, terms of service, and frequently asked questions before making any agreements with them.
4. What are the types of housing exchanges?
There are three different types of housing exchanges – direct swaps, homestays, and house sitting.
Each one is slightly different than the others, so make sure that you know how each one works before committing to any agreements with homeowners.
5. Do I need to have a certain type of home in order to swap housing?
No, you do not need a certain type of home in order to swap with someone. Many homeowners prefer to have a larger house, but others will exchange homes with smaller properties as well.
Now that you have made it through our beginner’s guide for house swapping, we hope that you feel confident in your ability to complete this process.
If you follow the advice listed above, then it should be smooth sailing through your first experience with house swapping.
So what are you waiting for?
Start searching through the list of housing exchange websites right now so you can make your dreams of traveling the world come true.
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If you think Florida is just for visiting Disney world, think again. Since living here the last few months, I have discovered what the sunshine state has to offer and I simply cannot get enough.
One of my favorite spots to explore is Key West, you do not need a passport when visiting this island paradise, but it will feel like you are in the Caribbean.
Famous for its beautiful beaches, romantic venues, and spectacular views, Key West should be on everyone’s vacation list.
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Key West has a ton of activities to do in all season but the best time to visit is generally between March and May.
The weather is perfect with temperatures averaging in the 70’s and 80’s.
The winter crowds have also tapered off and the hotel rates will be a lot reasonable, so make sure you take advantage of them.
There are numerous ways of getting to Key West.
Getting to the southernmost point of the United States is a ton of fun if you decide to get there by car.
You will see the most scenic views of the other islands and go on bridges that stretch for miles.
Maybe you will even be surprised by dolphins while on the bridge.
If you are coming from Miami, the drive will take approximately 3 hours and from Fort Lauderdale around 4 hours.
The easiest way to get to the Keys is through the Florida interstate, you will pay tolls along the way via ticketed booths.
I suggest buying a Sun Pass to get a discount on the tolls. You can buy the passes in any Publix supermarket.
If you decide to stay in the Old town or historic district of Key West you will not be needing your car very often since everything is walking distance.
There is only one ferry option to Key West that leaves from Ft. Myers and is a full day sail with overnight options available.
You can check out the trip schedule at the Key West Express ferry.
If you want to get to Key West fast, you’re in luck cause there are numerous daily flights from major airlines that can get you to this island paradise.
The following airlines are currently flying to Key West:
For most or all of your flights, you will likely be transferring to a smaller aircraft to get to your final leg to Key West.
Want to get pampered and eat the most incredible seafood while feeling the ocean breeze?
Take a short trip to Sunset Key, a private island that is only a short ferry ride from Key West.
Stay at Sunset Key Cottages to experience the luxury of island living. Be sure to reserve a cottage with an ocean view and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves.
Take advantage of the island by doing some star gazing at night and wake up to the beautiful sunrise while enjoying the private beach all to yourself. The water is so warm that it’ll be hard to get out!
Craving some amazing seafood? Make a reservation at Latitudes where every dish is mouth-wateringly delicious.
Any seafood on the menu is a must try, when it comes to dessert make sure to order the mango creme brulee and the key lime pie, I guarantee they will be some of the best desserts you will ever eat!
If you are planning to visit the restaurant, be sure to make a reservation beforehand otherwise, you will not be permitted to go aboard the ferry (unless you are staying at Sunset Key Cottages). So plan ahead.
The ferry leaves Margaritaville Key West resort for Sunset Key at 15 minutes before and after the hour.
From Sunset Key to Margaritaville on the hour and the half hour. The ferry trip is approximately 10 minutes.
If you are looking to stay in the historic district of Key West, then Margaritaville Key West Resort is the perfect place!
You will be spoiled by the fresh margaritas they serve daily and be sure to take advantage of the luxurious pool on the property!
You do not need to go far to get some amazing dishes, just walk over to their restaurant Bistro 245. Try the Maine lobster Mac and Cheese, I guarantee you’ll be coming back for more.
You can experience the most epic sunset by heading to the Sunset Deck above Bistro 245, then order those margarita’s while you enjoy the view.
Margaritaville Key West Resort is conveniently located and walking distance to all the incredible shops and sites. So park that car and explore by foot.
Going on Key west holidays is a must if you are a visitor or a local, so here are the top 7 things to do when you are on the island.
One of the best ways to see Key West is to go for a walk around the old town or the historic district of the island.
You will see the most beautiful and colorful homes. Every single street corner is so photogenic that it’ll make you want to take photos for hours!
If you are looking for some history, make sure to check out Ernest Hemingway’s home. Find out more about this iconic writer and enjoy the beautiful gardens.
One of the hidden secrets of Key West is their vintage feel movie theaters. Our favorite is Cinema Tropic, an independent theater created with art deco design to represent old Hollywood and contemporary cinema.
Make sure to say hello to Marilyn Monroe before you enter the theater.
Up for a little adventure? Try shark diving with Keys Shark diving. They will take you on a heart-stopping experience viewing and diving with sharks.
Don’t worry, they guarantee the cage to be 100% shark proof.
It takes 10 minutes to an hour for the sharks to show and then they deploy hook-less baits which allows you to see the sharks up close and personal.
This may sound strange but the Key West chickens and rosters are a staple in the island. You’ll find them roaming around while you shop and will even join you for lunch and dinner.
Make friends with these charming creatures who will make your stay more fun and livelier with their morning and honestly all day crowing.
Key West is not just a lot of fun in the sun, although there is a lot of that, the night-life is definitely something to experience.
There are a ton of night clubs and amazing live events happening around downtown. You can check out a list of all the live performances here.
Enjoy a bar-hopping at Duval street where you will find the best music performances on the island and enjoy more of those margaritas!
Want a unique nightlife experience? Go on a haunted walking tour with Key West ghost and mysteries tours.
Enjoy a night stroll around the neighborhood and visit spooky locations that will make your hair stand on end!
Your guide will take you off the beaten path and share the hidden side of the island that most visitors will never get to see.
Are you ready for your Key West holidays adventure?
Tell us your favorite spots and any hidden gems that you discover while you are on the island.
Hey there! I am so excited to have an incredible guest post today by April Blaszak who is the travel blogger behind The Unending Journey. April will be sharing a monthly travel post that will highlight offbeat journeys around the world, so stay tuned for more!
April started traveling when she was 19 and hasn’t looked back since. 26 countries later she’s as excited as ever to journey to a new place (be it 20 miles from me or half way around the world) and discover what she can. Passionate about solo travel, she hopes to inspire others to get out, leave their fear behind, and experience the world.
Jordan. When you hear that country, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? It’s probably, Petra, right? And I mean, why not? Petra is amazing. Epic. Breathtaking. It’s a place that’s well worth taking 2-3 days to explore. But too many people rush through the country on their trip to Jordan. Or they tack on a few days to visit Petra on a longer visit to Israel. And maybe throw in a day to explore the red desert of Wadi Rum.
Please don’t be one of those people. Jordan has so much more to offer to make for an incredible vacation in its own right. Jordan is a country full of unexpected beauty in the landscape and genuinely friendly people. Recently, I spent 16 days exploring and getting to know this amazing country. For those who want to get away from the crowds and see parts of Jordan that many tourists either skip over or don’t know about, check out these incredible off the beaten path sights that should be added to any Jordan itinerary.
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is usually where people start on their trip to Jordan. Using it as a base, visitors will venture north for day trips to the Roman ruins of Jerash and Umm Qaison. Or to the castle and forests of Ajloun. But venturing off the beaten path in Jordan to the eastern desert is something not many do. Maybe a desert sounds boring. But trust me, there are some Jordan’s more fascinating attractions to visit giving glimpses into Jordan’s rich history.
Less than an hour outside of Amman lies the first stop, Qasr al-Kharaneh. This stunning piece of architecture stands isolated in a barren landscape. Though its purpose is still being debated, that doesn’t take away from the fun of exploring the two floors of maze-like rooms surrounding a large, central courtyard. Though it’s crumbling in places, you can’t help but be impressed.
Close by is the incredible Qusayr Amara, a World Heritage Site. Don’t let its size fool you into thinking it’s not worth your time. Once a bathhouse, its beauty is fully revealed once you step inside. All around you are vivid frescoes from the floor to the ceiling. The best preserved of their type and time. Luckily, a guide is always inside to give you more insight and stories from the frescoes. From the main vaulted room are several smaller rooms that you cannot miss.
Heading further east you enter the town of Azraq. Here is Azraq Castle. Yes, finally a proper castle. The grounds date back to 300 AD when Romans controlled the area. The castle has played a part in every epoch of Jordan history – from stronghold against the Crusaders to the Arab Revolt of the early 1900s. TE Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) even lived here for several months. Though the grounds are sparse now, it’s still an intriguing site to walk around.
If you’re looking to take a break from the barren wasteland of the eastern desert, while in Azraq you can stop at the Azraq Wetland Reserve. It’s hard to imagine, but once the whole area was a green oasis. It served as a watering hole for migrating birds. Once there was talk of turning the area into a national park. Alas, that never happened and much of the water was drained as a resource for Amman. What’s left is a small fraction of what the area used to be.
And, if you’re looking for someplace really off the beaten path in Jordan, look no further than Umm al-Jimal, the black gem of the desert. Very few visitors venture to this site, even though its less than a two-hour drive from Azraq (and just over an hour from Amman, making it the perfect last stop on a day loop through the castles). On first glance, it may just look like a massive site of piles of rocks.
Trust me, it’s so much more. Yes, there are a lot of rock piles, but there are many foundations of houses and churches. Paths follow the old street layouts. Existing courtyards and arched windows are exciting finds. And, locals love to use the area as a park for walking or taking in their own history. As they love to speak with visitors, it’s a great way to interact with the locals. Spending a day touring the desert castles will be a unique day in your Jordan itinerary.
Helpful Information: entry to each of the desert castles is free with the Jordan Pass or 1-2 JD per site. Make sure you fill up on gas before setting out as the only gas station on the route is at Azraq. All sites except Umm al-Jimal have toilets on the premises.
The Dead Sea is a place nearly everyone wants to go to when in Jordan. It’s one of Jordan’s premiere attractions. Floating in unsinkable waters at the lowest spot on the planet…how could one refuse? But there’s much more to do in the Dead Sea area than float. You can take in where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist at Bethany Beyond Jordan. Behold stunning views of the holy land at Mt. Nebo. Marvel at the intricate mosaics in Madaba. All of these are on the popular tourist route on most Jordan itineraries.
But, what about Mukawir? Probably never heard of it, right? But you may have heard the biblical story of Salome doing the Dance of the Seven Veils for King Herod to get John the Baptist’s head. Well, this is where that happened! When I read that, visiting was a must.
Located approximately 40 minutes from Madaba, the remains of the great palace stand atop a hill with the Dead Sea as its backdrop. From the parking lot, it’s about a 10-minute walk up the hill to the ruins. Truthfully, the ruins are on the skimpy side with zero information about what you’re looking at. But the views of the surrounding landscape are stunning. And to say you stood where Salome did her famous dance, well, just priceless.
Helpful Information: entry is 1 JD to the ruins (Jordan Pass is not accepted here). Restrooms are just off the parking lot.
And, if you want to give back to the community, right before you see the ruins, there’s the Bani Hamida Weaving Centre and Gallery. This women’s cooperative features all handmade rugs of varying sizes, baskets, bracelets, and pillow covers. The work is exquisite, and the prices reflect that. But it’s a rare opportunity to ensure your money goes straight to supporting the local community.
Did you know that Jordan offers a plethora of premier hiking trails? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either! There’s even the Jordan Trail which runs the entire length of the country! But, if you don’t have 40 days to do that, you can find awesome hiking trails at the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Unfortunately, many people speed past on their way to Petra from Amman. If you’re an outdoor lover or hiking enthusiast, the Dana Nature Reserve must be on your Jordan itinerary.
Located between the Kings Way and the Dead Sea Highway, Dana is the largest nature reserve in Jordan combining several ecosystems into one protected area. And the area is stunning. If you picture Jordan as being a dry, desolate country filled with nothing but desert and sand, a visit to Dana will have you rethinking that image. Over 800 species of plants can be found here. And, going in spring after the heavy winter rains means everything is lush and in bloom. If you love hiking, this is a place you’ll want to spend at least several days.
The main hiking trail is the Wadi Dana Trail. This easy 14km hike goes from the small village of Dana to the Feynan Ecolodge (an incredible ecolodge in the middle of the Dana Reserve the provides you with an experience you’ll never forget. For more information, go here). Traversing through a canyon, you’ll start in a green landscape with towering red canyon walls and end in the dry, harsh environment of Wadi Araba. It’s one of the best hikes I’ve done anywhere in the world.
The other popular trail is the Wadi Ghwayr trek, which is 16km through a stunning canyon (siq). This trail begins near Shoubak Castle and ends near the Feynan Ecolodge. A guide is required. But there are shorter trails you can enjoy around Dana, too. Most of those can be found at the Rummana Camp Grounds located about a 25-minute drive north of Dana Village. Four easy trails can be done in a day and all without a guide. Though easy, the scenery and views are killer!
You can read about more about the many hiking trails available at the Dana Biosphere Reserve here.
Many people stop at Kerak Castle on the way to Petra from the north. But very few make the short side trip to Shoubak Castle. Both are Crusader Castles, and both are fantastic in their own way. So, a visit to only one doesn’t forgive you for not seeing the other one. And, it’s easy to make time for both in your Jordan itinerary. Built in the 1100s, the castle held a strategic point along a popular trade route. In its heyday, the castle was said to be a well-fortified and quite beautiful.
Nowadays, some of the exterior walls have been rebuilt. However, the interior is all ruins. But they’re wonderful! Tons of arches to admire. Churches to venture into. Towers to enjoy the sweeping views from. Though the scenery around the castle may be brown, it’s certainly not boring. Shoubak may be not be the largest castle, but that just means its easy to get around to see it all and not get lost.
And, as a bonus, on the road to Shoubak Castle, you pass the world’s smallest hotel! Yes, officially the smallest hotel is in Germany. But this unofficial one is inside a Volkswagen Beetle. The owner is extremely friendly and doesn’t mind anyone stopping by to look. But you can only visit the hotel on the way TO Shoubak Castle as you go out a different way from it. Bet you didn’t know about this Jordan attraction.
Helpful Information: entry to Shoubak Castle is free with Jordan Pass or 1 JD. Toilets are available at the visitor center.
When you think Roman ruins in Jordan, immediately you jump to Jerash. These stunning ruins are known as the Pompeii of the Middle East. And, they should be on any Jordan itinerary. But, Jerash is not the only Roman ruins to see. Off the beaten path in Jordan to the south of Amman between the Desert Highway and Kings Way are the ruins of Umm ar-Rasas.
Um ar-Rasas began life as a military camp. But it quickly grew into a thriving town. Although you may not gather that from the rubble that remains. The site contains several impressive churches. Though much smaller than Jerash, these ruins have several things that you won’t find there making it a must stop on your trip to Jordan.
One is the stunning mosaics found in St. Stephens Church. Well protected from the elements, the mosaics found here are some of the largest and most detailed you’ll find in Jordan (in fact, the museum at St. John the Baptist’s church in Madaba has a small replica of this mosaic). It details the daily life of the time as well as highlights the main cities in the area of the time (one side are cities in Jordan, the other Israel). It’s magnificent.
One of the more fascinating finds in Umm ar-Rasas is something that is overlooked by many visitors. And that’s because you need to drive less than 2 minutes down the road to get to it form the main ruins. But, it’s worth it (in my humble opinion). And that’s the monk tower. Devout men would spend days atop this tower. It’s fascinating.
Helpful Information: entry is free with the Jordan Pass or 2 JD. Toilets are available at the visitor center.
The Jordan Pass is a program run by the Ministry of Tourism in Jordan. Visitors heading to Jordan purchase the pass online (must purchase before you get to Jordan). With it, the entry visa fee is waived (40 JD), and it allows for free entry to 36 sites and museums in Jordan, including Petra. Costs start at 70 JD and goes to 80 JD. Which pass level you purchase depends on how many days you want to spend in Petra (1 – 3 days). So its best to know your Jordan itinerary before you purchase.
The Jordan Pass is only worth getting if you’re going to spend more than 4 days in the country and are going to Petra. A day ticket to Petra is 50 JD. Combined with the visa fee, you’re already ahead 20 JD with the pass. I used it during my time in Jordan and it was super easy to use. All you need to do is present the pass at the ticket office where it’ll get stamped or scanned at each Jordan attraction.
Yes. Yes. YES!!
With having Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Israel among its neighbors, it’s no wonder people’s first question about Jordan is about safety. It’s completely safe. Traveling solo throughout the country, never for one moment did I feel like I was in any danger. Yes, you’ll encounter police checks on the roads now and then. But that’s only to help keep the peace. In the 16 days I was there, I encountered no incidents.
Traveling as a solo female, again, I felt completely fine. Jordanians are among the genuinely friendliest people you’ll ever meet. There’s a reason that they’re known for their hospitality. But I will say, that men will do what they can to talk to you. To stave off any unwanted attention, I wore a ring on my left hand to give the appearance of being married. And boy did they notice! Many times, I was asked about it (so have a story prepared). But if you’re not into slight deceit, a firm no will work for them to respectfully back off.
Unfortunately, public transportation in Jordan is lacking. Buses are far and few in between and don’t go everywhere, especially to sights off the beaten path in Jordan. Taxis are always an option, but that can quickly add up. The best way to explore Jordan is to drive. If the thought of driving in the middle east makes you nervous, don’t be. Yes, there are a few quirks to driving in Jordan but once you’ve mastered them, you’ll find it a joy. The first day is the hardest.
But afterward, you’ll soon discover how wonderful the freedom of the road is in Jordan. And, you’ll be able to easily visit all the attractions on your Jordan itinerary you want to without the headache of figuring out how to get there.
Many of the big-name rental car companies are found at Queen Alia International Airport near Amman. It’s super easy to rent a car there. But I don’t recommend driving into Amman itself as the traffic is crazy and there are endless one-way roads that will drive you crazy. If you’re looking for a bargain, local companies are found throughout Amman. And it’s with these companies that you can negotiate for better pricing.
If you want to stay connected at all time on your trip to Jordan without depending on Wifi, the best thing to do is to purchase a SIM card. Luckily, at the Queen Alia International Airport, there’s an Orange Jordan stand located by the rental car agencies. Here you can pick up a SIM card before you hit the road to start on your Jordan itinerary.
Now hopefully you know that Jordan is more than Petra and Wadi Rum. Are those two places incredible? Yes, don’t miss them on your trip to Jordan. But, Jordan has so much more to offer with its long history and endless outdoor activities. And this is just a start to the wonderful things you can experience on any Jordan itinerary. But these are also places off the beaten path in Jordan that you can explore without massive crowds. You’ll leave Jordan with a deeper appreciation. So, prepare yourself for an adventure going off the beaten path in Jordan.
If you want to keep following April’s journey you can find her at The Unending Journey or say hi on Instagram.
England is one of my favorite countries to visit, because not only will you get the convenience of the city in London, but a day trip can take you to lovely coasts and scenic hikes.
An unforgettable day trip that you won’t want to miss is The Jurassic Coast. Situated on the English Channel coast of Southeast England, it is an easy day trip from London.
You can take a train from the city center to Wool (London Waterloo to Weymouth Line) and take a bus straight to the site.
I opted to do a Bus Tour with Discover Dorset Tours, there are also 3 bus services to West Lulworth for Durdle Door (numbers 30, X55 and 104).
The bus tour company was great since they pick you up from the train station and also bring you back at the end of the day without having to wait for the public transport bus.
If an easy hike and if beautiful coast is what you are looking for, this is the place for you. Lulworth Cove is located near the entrance.
You will hike up a hill and take in the breathtaking view of the ocean, the curving rock formations as well as the pool that has formed in between the hill and ocean.
Continue your walk to the Stairway Hole where you will find fishing boats and other visitors taking in the sun along the beach.
The hike to Durdle Door is much longer. You will pass the parking lot and hike up a hill where you will be welcomed by the beautiful scenery of the Jurassic Coast’s crystal clear blue waters that will make you want to take a plunge, but don’t be fooled.
Even in the summer the water is still chilly, however don’t be deterred – take a plunge and cool off from that hike.
As you get closer to Durdle Door you will immediately see the famous arch. You can walk down the stairs and relax on the beach or continue the hike further out to see more of the coast. Either
The Jurassic Coast with Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove is a definite must as a weekender trip when in England. So the next time you’re in town, make sure to visit!
Seven sisters is located in East of Sussex on the coast of the English Channel.
A short train 50 minute ride from Victoria Station in London it is a wonderful place for a hike and to get a bit of sun on warmer days.
You can expect gorgeous views of the coast and a scenery to die for! It’s a great place to re-charge and enjoy a few hours hike.
You can even visit the beaches that are below the cliffs and stay a bit longer.
Traveling to Cambridge from London may take a bit more time. By train you can hop on to the Great Nothern/Thames Link Railway which takes you to Cambridge Station from London Kings Cross.
The trip can take between an hour to an hour and a half depending on the speed of your train.
If you want to get there faster, there is also the option of renting a car. Sites like rentalcars.com,
Keep in mind that you are driving on the other side of the road. So, make sure to be careful.
Once you arrive in this incredible city, you can immerse yourself in the rich history.
If you want to discover the beauty of the English country side, make sure to head to the Cotswolds. It’ll feel like you have gone back in time and been placed in a story book fairy tale.
A few ways of getting to the Cotswolds is by train, car or through a tour company like getyourguide.com.
They will give you several stops to visit this quaint town and appreciate the beauty. They even have a Downton Abbey village tour!
Bath is one of the most appealing cities in England. With its Roman and Georgian architecture and world-renowned spas, it will be hard to resist visiting this incredible place.
If you are looking for a change of scenery and a relaxing weekend getaway, then Bath will be the perfect spot.
Getting there by train you can hop on the Great Western
If you want to get there by bus you can take the National Express Coaches from London to Bath take about two hours 20 minutes and again if you purchase your tickets a month in advance you will be able to save.
The world famous Stonehenge is located only 90 miles from central London, so a day trip is a must!
There are a ton of choices in getting to this renowned spot, from guided tours, trains, and car rentals your options are limitless.
There are trains running directly from Waterloo stations to Salisbury, which is the nearest railway to Stonehenge.
You can also catch the Stonehenge tour
Summer is almost here in New York and if you have been here during this season, you will know that the humidity can be unbearable. I wake up every morning wishing I can just jump into a pool.
The problem is, unless you live in a penthouse, join an expensive gym or know someone who has an awesome kiddie pool in their backyard, you
This summer I promised myself that I would find the most beautiful swimming spots near and around New York City and guess what?!
I was able to find them folks! I didn’t have to sneak into a luxury apartment building, check in a swanky hotel or blow up a nice kiddie pool in the backyard to do it either.
Before we get to the fun part, I just wanted to give a little reminder that if you do visit these amazing spots, please be respectful of the environment. Carry out what you bring in, be respectful of the locals and others visiting the area.
So here we go! Below are my top 5 favorite swimming spots. If the refreshingly cool water won’t get you there, the views will!
Location: Catskill Mountains, Hunter (town), New York
Highlights: Tallest 2 tier waterfall in New York.
I stumbled upon this beautiful 2 tier waterfall over 10 years ago.
I had to crab walk my way up and down the falls since they did not have any built- in stairs that would take you to the cascades.
Today, you will find many visitors clamoring to get to these falls and luck is on your side because there is now easy access to the falls.
Make sure to bring your hiking shoes and get ready for a little work before you arrive to the picturesque swimming spots under the falls.
Location: Grahamsville, New York
Highlights: Clear blue waters that is perfect for diving.
Peekamoose Blue Hole is as unique as its name, a short walk from the parking lot is this crystal clear blue water, as cold as it is refreshing.
It is the perfect place to cool off when the temperature is high.
Park at the large parking area with a sign for the Peekamoose Mountain area, then cross the road and walk down a short path to the creek.
Get there early because this incredible pool can get crowded during the summer.
Location: Elizabethtown, New York
Highlights: Multiple steps of cascades where you can enjoy a refreshing swim.
Split rock falls is a unique swimming destination. It has multiple tears of cascades that you can enjoy.
Go to the bottom of the falls and enjoy the calmer water or if you are up for an adventure, head up a little further and dive into the upper cascade.
Be aware of the water current, make sure that it is safe before diving.
Location: Warren, Vermont
Highlights: Unique rock formations and perfect diving spots for the more adventurous.
Warren Falls is the only non New York State swimming spot that I included on this list.
First, because I wasn’t able to make it to the others due to time constraints and second, it is one of the most beautiful spots that I have been to and I had to share with you!
We arrived in Vermont and was immediately welcomed by torrential downpour. We got there early before more heavy rain came in, which gave us this whimsical effect.
However, it came with extremely strong current and heavy cascades. Make sure to visit this incredible spot, but check the weather before you go!
Location: Philmont, New York
Highlights: This hidden gem is still a bit off radar so no huge crowds of people is a win win!
The High Falls Conservatory Area is still a hidden gem, so there will be a lot
It is a
If you want to get up close to the waterfall, make sure to hike along the stream, or you can continue to the higher ground where you can have a
Although I listed this area as a swimming hole and there are people who do swim here, I prefer to sunbathe instead of swim in the area.
The water is a bit more cloudy and the algae from the falls creates brown bubbles that may not be too appealing.
If you are more adventurous, you can climb up into the upper falls and there are beautiful pools that are more suitable for a nice cooling dip.
Check it out and decide for your self if you would like to swim here. Even without the swim, it is still an incredible site to see and looks beautiful any time of the year!
Please use caution and common sense when swimming and diving in these locations. It is not uncommon for injury or even death to happen. So be aware and keep safe everyone!
Hope you enjoyed this list and visit them this summer.
Comment below and let me know how your visit goes!