Global Travel Explorer

Compass Cove OceanFront Resort, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

Myrtle Beach South Carolina USA

Myrtle Beach South Carolina USA

Myrtle Beach South Carolina is a fun family destination.  Lots of families with kids just enjoying the water. Food and lodging are reasonable. You can even walk to the McDonald’s from the beach in your swimming suit from the Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort where we stayed.

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Compass Cove had its own entertainment including a mini water park, arcade and several swimming pools.

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Our room had a beautiful ocean view. You can view the sunrise from the balcony. A beautiful way to start the day.

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

We walked right to the beach from the hotel. It felt safe and it was fun to get right to the beach from the hotel. It made washing up later so much easier.

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Compass Cove Myrtle Beach South Carolina

 

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Fall Colors in Wamego, Kansas

Fall Colors in Wamego Kansas

Fall Colors in Wamego Kansas

You can find the most beautiful trees of varying colors at the Wamego City Park in Kansas.  Just go North on Highway K-99 (also known as the OZ Highway) from Interstate I-70.

Fall in Wamego Kansas

Fall Reflections in Wamego Kansas

The park is just North of the Kansas River (as you enter the city of Wamego go East on old US Highway 24) with a beautiful Schonhoff Dutch Mill overlooking a beautiful lake. The reflections of the trees on the water is just beautiful.

 

Fall Colors Wamego Kansas

Wamego Windmill –  Fall in Kansas

There are also other cool things to see and do in the park from a beautiful Veteran’s memorial, children’s train (runs from April to October), swimming pool, tennis courts, playground and  Wamego’s Historical Museum and Prairie Town Village .


Making the Road Trip More Entertaining for the Family

How many more miles?  How much longer?  I’m BORED!

Sound familiar, parents?

One great solution that our family loves during our longer road trips is to listen to Adventures in Odyssey.  It’s a radio show done by Focus on the Family ministries.  Don’t confuse it with an audio book.  I’m sure that some of those can be nice, too, but these are dramas, with actors’ varying voices, sound effects, etc.  Just when everyone is getting on each other’s nerves, it’s great to stop and listen to a show together, laugh together, and enjoy each other’s company again.

There are a variety of collections available.  You start off with just a single CD if you’re not sure if your family will enjoy them or not.  For example, Amazon has this one:

One thing that we like about these CDs is that the whole family listens and enjoys them together.  It’s all part of a shared fun family memory, instead of each child being busy on their own device.

If you find that your kids enjoy them as much as ours do, and honestly we adults enjoy them, too, here are a few collections that are great.

Here’s our favorite collection (so far!):

In The Ultimate Road Trip, you’ll find that every story has a theme of some kind of vacation or road trip adventure.  For our family, these were the first we listened to on our first trip from the middle of the country to the East coast, so they have become classics that we go back and listen to again.  In fact, we also listened to the same stories on our trip to the West coast, and many other road trips as well.

Another good option for a starter CD would be this one, to explain all the main characters for those not familiar with the radio show:

If you would like to work on character development as well as entertain, there are themed collections, such as this one that includes different stories that highlight the importance of being honest:

This one is just a few episodes focusing on Respect:

Or, how could you go wrong with a special collection of fans’ favorite episodes?

These are just a few suggestions.  The main thing is to make sure to keep the road trip a fun family adventure, and these CDs help you all listen to the same thing, rather than each child listening to their own device on headphones.  You can laugh and enjoy the shows together.


Top 5 Places You Should See in West Malaysia

petronas towers kl malaysia

Kuala Lumpur at night – Petronas towers

  There is so much to see and do when you visit Malaysia.  After all, Malaysia is a popular travel destination because it is a microcosm of all of Asia. Whether you want to explore the culture, food, and people of China, India, or the Malay and Indonesian people, you can find it all in Malaysia.  The West coast of Malaysia is the most densely-populated area in Malaysia, so we will focus our list today on that area.

1.  KL Tower

KL Tower

KL Tower, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

  It goes without saying that you should really visit the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL.  There area lot of great sites to see in the city, including the twin Petronas Towers which were at one time the tallest building in the world.  However, if you want to be at the high point that you can easily visit for a great view of the city, your best bet is actually the KL Tower.   You have the option to go all the way to the top and enjoy an open-air view of the city, including a couple of places with a see-through floor, where you can stand above the city and look down, if you are brave enough!  It’s a great place for souvenier photos.

2. Melaka

Christ Church Melaka

Christ Church Melaka

– The locals have signs with that map of Melaka, reading “Don’t Mess with Melaka”, much like the USA’s “Don’t mess with Texas” saying.  They are known for being independent thinkers.  The city of Melaka is a wonderful place to visit for historical cultural information.  The city square features Christ Church Melaka, established by the Dutch in the 1300’s, and a short walk takes you to the Formosa, a part of an old Portuguese fort.  There is also a beach area with some nice hotels where you can enjoy the beach, and some water park resorts as well.  There are plenty of possibilities for a nice family vacation, not to mention a variety of great eating places.

3. Penang

Penang

Penang Malaysia

It is no wonder why Penang is sometimes referred to as the Jewel of Malaysia.  It has all the makings of a great vacation – nice beaches, great food, interesting historical sites to visit, a butterfly park, great shopping, Penang hill, and more.  There is no shortage of great things to see and do.  You can stay either in the city of Georgetown on the coast, or venture across to the Island of Penang by either one of the world’s longest bridges or a short ferry ride.  In fact, the newer second bridge is the longest in Southeast Asia.  
flamingo hotel pool malaysia penang

Flamingo Hotel pool area, Penang

We have preferred to stay on the beaches on the Island of Penang.  The more popular western tourist beach is Batu Ferringhi, which has a lot of touristy things to offer.  We actually got a better deal at the more local-oriented Tanjung Bungah, where we found the beaches to be less crowded.  Check out the Flamingo Hotel and its wonderful breakfast buffet – we highly recommend it.

4.  Ipoh

 Okay, so the locals don’t necessarily consider Ipoh as a resort kind of place, but there is actually a lot worth visiting there and we highly recommend it.  Especially if you love Chinese food, because Ipoh is a mecca of great Chinese specialty dishes.  And it is near the source of the white coffee that is popular in the region – you really should try it!  It’s an easy train ride from KL, not quite the half way point if you are headed towards Penang.  Just be sure to book ahead for train tickets, as many travel back and forth on the weekends if they work in KL.  Be sure to look around the historical train station when you arrive in Ipoh – the architecture is both beautiful and historical.  Enjoy the closer proximity to mountains with slightly cooler weather.  And experience something closer to a small-town feel than you normally find in west Malaysia, while still enjoying the conveniences of the city.  Again, it’s worth the short trip from KL for the Chinese food and white coffee alone.  

5. Langkawi

Langkawi Cenang Beach Malaysia

Langkawi Cenang Beach Malaysia

If you’re looking for the ultimate island get-away with pristine beaches, Langkawi is the place for you. As a popular tourist destination for not only locals but also Westerners, Langkawi offers a great variety of accommodations and dining options.  You can also find a lot of extra tourist activities, such as boat rides, museums, etc.  Of course, we think of Langkawi mostly for its unbeatable beachfront options.  Keep in mind that it is an island, or actually a main island with a series of related islands, so you will need to either fly there or ride a ferry.  It’s an island get away vacation that you will not soon forget. Depending on what you like for your accommodations, you can stay right on the beach in the photo here for anywhere from $35 USD for the  – $145 USD per night – pretty great deals for a beautiful beach get-away!

St. Louis Gateway Arch Missouri USA

Gateway Arch St. Louis Missouri USA

Gateway Arch St. Louis Missouri USA

To be honest, when we visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis a few years ago, we were not able to see the museum.  It was closed for renovation, so all we got to do was get a closeup view of the outside of the Arch.  And beware – our Google map sent us to the wrong place at first, probably due to the renovation.

Once we found the right spot, we really enjoyed seeing the Arch.  We will look forward to going back to see the museum and taking a ride up the Gateway Arch.  I had a chance to do that back many years ago and found it to be even more enjoyable than just viewing the Arch.

UPDATE:  As of the July 4 holiday, 2018, the museum and visitor’s center has now re-opened.

Our family will make a point to take a tram ride up to the top of the Gateway Arch one day soon.  Be ready for great photos from the top!

Gateway Arch St. Louis Missouri USA

Gateway Arch St. Louis Missouri USA


River Thames Cruise London United Kingdom

Thames London United Kingdom

Thames London United Kingdom

London Thames Clippers

London Thames Clippers

 

I had very little time in London on one of my trips but sure made the most of it. It was raining but I got into a Thames Clipper (fast river boat), stayed warm and dry while watching one landmark after another go by. You can really see a lot by just taking a ride in one of these beautiful Thames Clippers.

London River Cruise

London Tower Bridge – River Cruise

I started from the Emirates Air Line (which is a cable line that goes across the Thames River), with an aerial view of London. It is a beautiful view if you don’t mind the heights. I then took a Thames Clipper to London Eye. Worth every penny spent! Once you get off at the London Eye, you can walk across the Westminster Bridge to Big Ben. You can take all the photos from the Westminster Bridge with the Big Ben and the Parliament buildings in the background. Walk a little further and visit the Westminster Abbey. It is gorgeous. There is an Underground Tube station (Subway Train)  nearby that will hustle you to your next destination.

Westminster Tube Station London

Westminster Tube Underground Subway Station London United Kingdom


Schiphol International Airport Amsterdam Netherlands

Schiphol Train Hub Amsterdam

Schiphol Train Hub Amsterdam

An amazing airport where you can shop, dine, sleep, shower, check into a hotel and it is all integrated with a sophisticated transportation hub. It is also beautifully designed to make you feel like you have room to rest and relax! You can pretty much fly from anywhere to every where. They have places where you can securely lock your luggage and leave the airport for a trip into Amsterdam or connect to major European cities by train. The airport is clean and green (eco friendly). Most locals speak good English, friendly and helpful to travelers. The security screening process is also efficient and fast given the number of passengers that are routed from this airport.

Schiphol International Airport Netherlands

Schiphol International Airport Netherlands

Schiphol is the hub for the KLM (Royal Dutch) Airlines. Many other Premium and Low Cost Carriers fly via Schiphol Amsterdam. There is no need to drive or take a train to get to your low cost airlines if that is your choice.  This makes the airport a great hub to start your journey into Europe or other continents.

Schiphol International Airport Netherlands

 


Road Warrior Tech Gadgets

Road Warrior Tech Gadgets

Road Warrior Tech GadgetsRoad Warrior Tech Gadgets

 

If you work and travel, you will need tech gadgets to stay connected to your office and still have fun.  While a speedometer will let you know how many miles you have travelled (if you are driving),  you may be completely jetlagged while flying. You may not even know what time zone you are in or what time it is at your destination.

Time Zone Globe Schiphol Airport Netherlands

Time Zone Globe Schiphol Airport Netherlands

A good smartphone is a must. It is almost impossible to go anywhere without a mobile or cell phone. Since it is quite expensive to call from abroad, we recommend purchasing local sim cards in the country you are travelling to. Problem is most US phones do not work overseas.  You will need a GSM phone like from AT&T or T-Mobile unlocked. GSM phones work well when travelling to international destinations as it will take their local sim cards. Standard Sprint PCS and Verizon Cdma do not use GSM technology.

If you have a Mobile VoIP App (Voice Over IP or Internet App), you can get your voice mail (as an audio attachment) in your email on your smartphone even when you are abroad. You can get virtual local phone numbers that you can answer live over the Internet while travelling.

For an example, you can have your family call you on their local number (say in San Francisco, USA), which you can answer while you are in London. It will be a local free call for your family. You will need to have access to the internet via Wi-Fi or local mobile data from your local in country phone company. This really opens up world travel.

You can also use apps like WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook) , Skype (now owned by Microsoft), Google Hangouts etc. The neat thing about your own mobile app is you can even program or filter which calls you wish to answer and send the rest to voice mail. If you run the mobile app via your corporate or work VPN or Private VPN, you can have better encryption and privacy.

 

 


Pacific Coast Highway 1 California USA

Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

California’s Highway 1 is probably the 2nd most famous US highway after Route 66. If you have driven the Trail Ridge Road hugging the side of the Rocky Mountains (Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park), you would observed the steep valleys below. Here you will get to drive high above the cliffs with the  the Pacific Ocean below.  It is a drive with gorgeous views at every turn and along the way.

California

Panaromic view of the Pacific Coast from Highway 1 – California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Stunning beauty and raw power of the Pacific Ocean.  You can see white caps as the waves hit the rocks below.

Pacific Coast

Beautiful Flowers Adorn the Pacific Coast Highway

Beautiful flowers grow on the side of the cliffs from the mist of the Pacific Coast Ocean spray. In some places, you can park the car on the side of the road and get off on a trail to the hidden sandy beaches below.

 

Pacific Coast Highway California USA

Pacific Coast Highway California USA

Amazing engineering work done to build bridges connecting one cliff to another. If you are headed south, you will have land on the left and the Pacific Coast Ocean view on the right.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park USA

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-see. It is one of the few national parks that you can visit for free, which is a great bonus for a family on a budget.

One feature that is interesting if you go at just the right time of year is an area where the lighting bugs, a.k.a. fireflies, light up in sync with one another. We were not there at the right time when we visited, but our waiter in Pigeon Forge told us about it, and we researched where to go next time. Our future trip will most likely be timed to see those special lighting bugs.

There are a lot of beautiful trees and wooded areas, as well as the distinctive smoky look of the mountains. Friendly park rangers give educational presentations about the history of the area and the wildlife. It is common to see elk and other wildlife.

When visiting the park, you can stay in Pigeon Forge, which has a variety of family-friendly entertainment and lodging options. Or there is Gatlinburg, which is a beautiful family-friendly tourist town.