Christmas Drinks at The Promenade, Days Hotel

November 29th, 2015



As the city’s premier dining venue, Days Hotel Iloilo’s in-house restaurant kicks off the Yuletide season with their assortment of Christmas drinks. Serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, these mixes will definitely make dining at The Promenade during the holidays more festive.

Let’s start with the alcoholic drinks..


Apple Pie Moonshine




A refreshing cocktail of apple juice, cinnamon syrup with a zest of lemon. Vodka is added to this drink.



The Grinch




Named after the infamous character created by Dr. Seuss, The Grinch is a sweet-sour cocktail made of melon liqueur and lemon juice.

Hot Chocolate Peppermint


The classic minty hot chocolate drink we all love, now prepared for grown ups with peppermint liqueur.

Merry Berry Margarita


Christmas is synonymous with parties. Celebrate the holidays with this festive frozen drink with cranberry juice cocktail with tequila.

Rudolph’s  Tipsy Spritzer


Don’t worry, your nose won’t turn red when you enjoy this glass of orange juice, lemon-lime drink, cherry juice, and vodka.

Celebrating with your kids or with those who are not into alcohol? Then let The Promenade serve you with these refreshing and comforting non-alcoholic drinks. Check out the hot beverages that will surely complement the cozy cold Christmas nights.

Chinese Firebolt


Inspired from Harry Potter’s dragon character, this refreshing drink is concocted with grenadine, cola, and lime.

Cranberry Holiday Punch


Delightful drink made with cranberry and lemon juice, with a punch of honey flavor.

Christmas Eggnog


Can be served hot or cold, enjoy this rich and creamy drink made with fresh milk and pasteurised raw eggs – simply perfect for  December’s cold nights.

S’mores Hot Cocoa


The best-selling dessert, made even yummier when you enjoy it as a drink. This luscious hot chocolate drink has all the flavors of s’mores – chocolate, grahams, and marshmallows!

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate


The well-loved cake can also be enjoyed as a hot drink! An easy and decadent Christmas chocolate drink topped with whipped cream.

Christmas Drinks at The Promenade is available from December 1 to December 31. Enjoy alcoholic drinks for Php145 and non-alcoholic drinks for Php95 only.


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The Beginner’s Guide to Renting a Car for Vacation

November 28th, 2015


This post is posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on November 22,2015.




For anyone who’s been living under a rock, we’re here to break the bad news: In the U.S., Thanksgiving is the busiest travel period of the year—and if you’re planning to rent a car, the competition is going to be stiff. Over 40 million people traveled home for the holidays via automobile last year, and a large portion of them did so via rental car. Then there are the horror stories of sky-high prices or renters being stuck with bills for damages they didn’t cause. Oh, and did we mention that the market is shifting as ride-sharing technology, car-booking apps, and peer-to-peer transactions (think Airbnb but for cars) change the car rental landscape?

If it all has you scared to rent a car, try not to let it get to you. The good news is that it is possible to navigate the world of car rentals without destroying your wallet (or your sanity). Here’s a primer on what you’ll need to know before renting a car for the first time in the U.S.




Rent before you touch down.


This tip’s for anyone who’s planning to fly into a destination and then use a rental car to get around during vacation. Renting a car at an airport terminal increases the likelihood of standing in long lines and paying higher prices. In contrast, renting a car in advance allows you to choose from a wider selection of vehicles and save money and headaches, because you’ll know exactly what’s waiting for you whenever the plane touches down.

Do your research.

When researching deals, it pays to be diligent.

  • Be sure to compare costs both between companies and between different types of cars. Be aware that smaller cars—think “compact” or “economy”—tend to cost less and have better fuel efficiency, saving additional dollars.
  • Look into whether the rental agency offers discounts for AAA members or frequent flyer programs.
  • Cross-check your rental car options against in order to avoid renting a vehicle model that’s been recalled.
  • Read up on your rights and responsibilities as a renter so you’re empowered to combat any problematic charges.
  • Be sure to factor in all taxes, surcharges, and other fees—including early or late return fees, airport surcharges, fuel charges, mileage fees, roadside assistance fees, charges for driving out of state, drop-off fees, equipment rental fees, and additional driver fees—that you may be required to pay. Because some car rental agencies don’t always reflect these costs in the advertised price, be sure to read the fine print before signing any contracts.

Call the rental agency.

Even if you’ve already booked a rental car, it’s useful to call the agency to make sure they’ve actually secured your car. This is especially critical for holiday weekends or business travel, when any kind of delay might mean missing family dinner or an important meeting.

Know your (age) limits.

When it comes to age restrictions, rental car policies vary between countries, states, and even different branches of the same company. While many agencies will allow people under the age of 25 to rent (contrary to popular belief), they’re likely to tack on a hefty fee for the privilege. The best way to determine your eligibility is to call the exact agency location from which you’re looking to rent.

Be prepared.

When you show up to the agency to pick up your car, you’ll need to present a valid, state-issued driver’s license, an active credit card that matches the name on your driver’s license, and proof of car insurance. Be sure to check with your specific rental agency in advance to find out if they require any additional documents. Also be aware that many agencies will check your driving records. A history of reckless driving, accidents, DUI, driving with an invalid license, and even seat belt law violations may disqualify you from renting a car.




Sort out insurance.


It’s an age-old question: Do you purchase rental insurance, or not? Most sources agree that it is important to have insurance while renting a car. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be strategic with your dollars. If you own a car and have full coverage insurance, then you should be covered under your existing policy. If you own a car but only have limited coverage, you may want to invest in extra coverage for the rental. And if you don’t own a car (and therefore have no existing car insurance), you’ll definitely want to purchase insurance for the rental.

At a minimum, make sure that you have primary Collision Waiver Damage coverage, which can be procured in a number of ways:

  • You may already have it through your own vehicular insurance, as mentioned above. Call your insurance company to find out what’s covered under your policy.
  • You can purchase it directly from the rental agency. Just be aware that you’ll pay much higher rates if you make that purchase at the counter; even purchasing insurance from the agency in advance of picking up the car can save some cash.
  • Your credit card may offer an insurance policy if you use that card to pay for the rental. Simply call up the credit card company and ask them what options are available, and make sure you’re clear on exactly what’s covered by their policy.

Check the car before driving away.

Before leaving the rental agency’s lot, be sure to inspect the car (inside and out) for any scratches, stains, dents, or other damages. Document anything out of the ordinary by taking pictures with a camera or smartphone, and then notify the rental agent and ask them to note those damages in the paperwork. This should help protect you from being stuck with a bill for damage you didn’t cause.

Fill up before returning the car.

Most rental cars come with a filled gas tank, and renters are expected to refill it before returning the car. (Check your rental agreement to confirm whether this applies.)

Inspect the car again when you drop it off.

Whenever you drop off the vehicle, be sure to search all of its nooks and crannies to make sure you haven’t left behind any personal belongings. Also be sure to note any new damages and take pictures of the car (whether it’s damaged or not) in order to help fight any erroneous charges.

It may seem a little daunting, but taking the time to learn the ins and outs of renting a car opens up a whole new world of travel opportunities. Whether you’re embarking on one of these must-do American road trips, heading off on a last-minute getaway by car, or taking a dog-friendly road trip across the country, the hassles of renting are guaranteed to be a distant memory by the time you’ve returned from the trip.

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Chicken Deli @ SM City Iloilo

November 27th, 2015



As I noted on my last post for SM City Iloilo’s mall expansion, shoppers and patrons will experience more food choices at SM City Iloilo. For those looking for affordable meals while shopping or malling at SM City Iloilo, there is Chicken Deli located at the Lower Ground Floor Mall Expansion.



Serving since 1983, Chicken Deli (cious!) is home to affordable yet filling meals you will love to share with your family and friends. Enjoy  Chicken Deli-cious Meals ( kanin all you can with free soup) at Php117.



At Chicken Deli, you can have a hearty meal as low as Php69 courtesy of their Tipid Meals with Rice! They also serve Batchoy with Grilled Pandesal.


For appetizers, this is Bacolod Express from their Pampagana menu at Php49.


The good thing about Chicken Deli is their menu is not limited to grilled chicken. They also serve other Filipino classics like Kare-Kare, Sinigang, Lechon Kawali and the likes. And what is the best way to enjoy these other than with your friends and family, right?

Hence, pick any of the Big Meals Game, which is good for 3-4 people. This is BGM3 ( Big Game Meal) – Paa, Lechon Kawali, Bangusito, Kare-Kare, KangKong with Garlic that comes with free soup and 1.5Liter of Pepsi at Php629!


For dessert, Chicken Deli has Halo Halo, Mais Con Deli, Turon Sticks, and Leche Flan.  This Halo Deli with CD Caramel is a must-eat!


Chicken Deli had their soft opening at SM City Mall Expansion last November 20. Join the official opening day this coming Sunday, November 29th and get a chance to meet their endorser, James Yap!


For inquiries, you can contact Chicken Deli SM City Iloilo ( 033-335-5194).

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What to Do if Something Gets Stolen from Your Luggage at the Airport

November 23rd, 2015


This post is posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on November 19,2015.





A TSA agent at New York’s JFK International Airport made headlines this week for stealing a $7,000 luxury watch that a passenger accidentally left in security. This isn’t the first time the TSA has been charged with theft. A 2012 ABC News investigation revealed that hundreds of TSA employees have been fired for swiping items from travelers’ bags. And a CNN report found that passengers incurred over $2.5 million in property losses between 2010 and 2014—to the tune of more than 30,000 reported losses.

While these might seem like small sums relative to the number of travelers passing through the world’s airports every day, that’s no comfort to the passengers who have lost precious goods. A good rule of thumb when it comes to luggage theft is to think for the best and prepare for the worst. Here’s how to respond when property goes missing from your luggage in the airport.






1. If your luggage is gone entirely, report it to your airline.


2. If you’re missing a specific item, start by checking with the airport’s lost and found department.


3. If the item isn’t in lost and found, it’s time to file a claim with the TSA. When filing, include as much information as possible—receipts, appraisals, and the information for your flight will all help your claim to be processed in a timelier manner.


4 .File a claim with the airline. Each airline has its own regulations for processing reports of missing items. Contact the airline’s customer service department to learn about your options.


5. If you think an expensive item (such as electronics or jewelry) was stolen, call the law enforcement office at both your departure and arrival airports and file a report for stolen goods. Be sure to request a copy of the police report; this might come in handy as the TSA processes your claim.


6. If your missing item doesn’t turn up during the TSA’s investigation, check with your insurance company to see if it will cover the loss. Many homeowner’s or renter’s insurance plans will cover theft. Some credit card companies may also provide coverage.



Once you’ve filed a claim, you’ll receive a letter detailing next steps. Note that it can take up to six months for a claim to be investigated, and claims involving law enforcement will typically take longer.


Also be aware that screening at some airports is carried out by private companies instead of the TSA. In those cases, you’ll need to contact the airport directly in order to file a claim.



Still have questions? Contact TSA to learn more.





Tips for Preventing Theft


It’s great to respond proactively if a theft occurs. And it’s even better to prevent one in the first place. The following tips can help prevent theft and better empower you to process a claim.

  • Take pictures of everything in your luggage and photocopy receipts for those items when possible. This will prove you were in possession of the item(s) prior to any theft. Make duplicates of the photos, then prepare two envelopes containing the photos and receipts. Give one envelope to a trusted friend who won’t be traveling and keep the other one on hand.
  • Don’t check valuables. Jewelry, electronics, and cash are all easy targets in checked baggage. Keep these items in your carry-on or on your person at all times.
  • Pack light. What’s better than keeping your valuables nearby? Keeping all of your luggage on hand. Learn how to pack light and you just might be able to fit everything you need into a carry-on. This will eliminate any worry about your luggage being in somebody else’s hands.
  • Use distinctive luggage. Thieves will be less willing to abscond with a tie-dye print bag covered in glitter stickers than yet another plain black suitcase.
  • Review the contents of your carry-on post-screening to be sure that you have everything you were carrying prior to moving through security.
  • If you’re traveling with a companion, keep a few people in between you while going through security. That way you can watch out for each other’s belongings while you take turns going through the body scanner.

While you can never be 100 percent prepared against theft, taking a few precautions and understanding the claims process can help you respond quickly and effectively should the worst actually happen.

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SM City Iloilo Mall Expansion

November 21st, 2015





Providing more shopping and dining venues for its shoppers and patrons, SM City Iloilo finally opened its latest mall expansion today. The mall first opened in 1999 and prior to the expansion, there were 200 existing leased units. The expansion produced four more floors with 165 units, making the current SM City Iloilo the largest mall in Western Visayas, housing 365 units.

The event started with the Holy Mass and the blessing of the mall expansion.



Let’s have virtual tour of the new vast space of Iloilo’s premier shopping destination.




By December 1st, 80% of the shops will open in time for our Christmas shopping and bonding. Walking around, you will notice that the spaces are mostly occupied by restaurants both local and international, reflecting the dining culture of the Ilonggos.

Expect wider choices for family-restaurants like Chika-an ( Lower Ground Floor).


For affordable yet filling meals, proceed to Chicken Deli ( Lower Ground Floor).


Coffee and cake..


Or this Blueberry-Watermelon frozen treat  from Buon Gelato


Not only that, SM City Iloilo features the Food Hall at the 3rd level for more food choices.


At the 4th floor is Cyberzone, dedicated to give shoppers the latest tech gadgets.


Spotted at Cyberzone..


What to expect? On top of the restaurants, more boutiques and specialty stores are coming. Ilonggos are now buzzing whether international fashion names like Uniqlo, Forever21, and H &M  will find their local homes at SM  City Iloilo. One thing is for sure, this Php1.3B expansion by SM Prime Holdings offers the best experience when it comes entertainment, lifestyle, and shopping to SM’s beloved shoppers.



Related posts..

Simply Shoes opens at CityMall Tagbak

Iloilo Supermart at CityMall Tagbak

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Why You Absolutely Need to Take a Meditation Vacation

November 18th, 2015



This post is posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on November 8,2015.



It’s a common and admirable goal to travel as a means of “finding yourself,” but sometimes the stresses of being in a new place or cramming in sightseeing opportunities can prevent travelers from actually calming down, getting centered, and coming home rejuvenated.


Enter the meditation retreat—the ultimate antidote to burnout. Practicing mindfulness during vacation has loads of benefits:

1. It lets you slow down. By prioritizing quiet reflection, you’ll have a chance to reconnect with yourself and your own internal rhythms. Drop the distractions, affectations, and stressors, and remember what it means to just be you.

2. It teaches focus. Setting a goal to be mindful and present—in some ways, doing “nothing”—is actually really tough. Meditation forces you to learn how to stay present and committed to a goal.

3. It provides clarity. Practicing mindfulness requires you to confront personal demons and connect to inner feelings and desires, all of which increases self-awareness and empowers you to pursue goals.

4. It cultivates peace of mind. Removing external pressures and settling into a relaxing space can reduce stress, broaden your perspective, and cultivate equanimity, or the ability to calmly accept circumstances as they arise.




How to Plan A Meditation Retreat


Intrigued? Then it’s time to get planning.


All-inclusive meditation retreats can be found around the globe, as in Nosara, Costa Rica, a favorite destination of international yogis. The Harmony Hotel, Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, and Costa Rica Yoga Spa all offer remarkable mindfulness retreats.

Some people also choose to go the DIY route and plan their own retreat. Customizing a retreat lets you choose exactly where to be and what to do in addition to meditation. Retreats can include passive activities such as massages, meditation, acupuncture, and spa treatments or more active options like yoga, hiking, dancing, arts and crafts, or gardening—it’s all up to you!


To plan a retreat, start by selecting a serene location full of natural beauty, whether it’s mountains, rivers, forests, or the ocean. Not sure where to go? Here are a few places that are home to some of the most popular retreat destinations:

After settling on a destination, take the time to figure out where to eat, what activities to participate in, and what you want each day to look like while on retreat—the structure is up to you, but make sure not to cram the schedule too full and to allow room for meditation each day. Do the planning in advance, and you’ll have nothing to do but relax and re-center upon arrival.

Whether you decide to attend an organized retreat or create your own at one of many remarkable destinations, the intention you bring to the experience will determine how you feel at the end of it. May the ommms be ever in your favor.

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Hotel Benito Hong Kong Review

November 15th, 2015




Traveling to Hong Kong anytime soon? If it will be your first time, looking for a hotel can take some time. For this post, I would like to share to you my hotel when I went to Hong Kong with two of my friends way back in college.  I recommend, Hotel Benito.

If you are one of the many first time visitors to Hong Kong, you would probably stay at Tsim Sha Tsui ( TST)  and why not? TST is a great home base for tourists as it is surrounded with shops and most of the popular attractions in Hong Kong are found in TST area. Likewise, TST is very crowded especially during peak season.


Hotel Benito is one of the hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui and just like other Tsim Sha Tsui hotels, it costs higher than most hotels, especially when compared to other guesthouses in TST. We spent only one night at the hotel and a little more  money but it was worth it given how infamous Hong Kong hotels are when it comes to space.

Named after its founder, Benito, this hotel is perfect for those who can’t stand tight spaces. I booked directly from the hotel site and got a good price for Hotel Benito family room – perfect for three people.  I booked it for HK$ 1018.90 per night; for the most updated Hotel Benito rate, please get in touch with the hotel.


The room space is obviously not big but enough. I have heard that in some cheap hotels in Hong Kong, you have to place your luggage under your bed so it was a luxury that we can actually walk around the room. Some of the room amenities are hair dryer ( a must for your freelance writer), Wi-Fi ( a must to all travel writers), toiletries, milk tea, and complimentary fruits.

Due to our schedule, we haven’t tried the Hotel Benito Breakfast served at their lounge which is a nice place to hang out. It has its business-like ambiance with unlimited milk tea, milk and other drinks along with candies and biscuits. The lounge also has computers in case you need to be online.


But for me, the best asset of Hotel Benito Hong Kong is its location. It is just a few steps away from TST station, walking distance to Macau ferry terminal and Nathan Road where you can shop till you drop. Based on our experience, it was a great home for first-time visitors.


  1. Location
  2. A decent and mid-range hotel in TST
  3. Rooms are spacious compared to other hotels
  4. Clean and safe hotel
  5.  Great customer service during my online booking – efficient and gets back to you right away




1. No other facilities like pools

2. No in-house restaurant

3. The staff in general are courteous but my friend find one front desk officer less friendly and “cold”.

* The cons are not really complaints but just to give you my dear readers real expectations.



To get the best deals, you can check out Hotel Benito Agoda or book directly from their site.





Related posts

48 Hours in Hong Kong and Macau

Hangout Hotel Singapore

Hangout Hotel Malacca

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5 Fictional Destinations You Can Actually Visit

November 14th, 2015


This post is posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on November 11,2015.


There’s something magical about seeing the real life setting of a beloved fictional world. These destinations draw travelers to places they might not otherwise go for the pleasantly jarring sensation of finding Tatooine in Tunisia or Narnia in Norway. Here are five of our favorite places that serve as intersections of invention and reality, mixing the familiar with the surprising.


Mdina, Malta: King’s Landing (Game of Thrones)

Westeros may be fictional, but Game of Thrones fans know the series films everywhere from Iceland to Croatia to recreate locations from the books. The medieval walled city of Mdina in Malta acts as King’s Landing in the show, and travelers may recognize the Mdina Gate as the entrance to the fictional capital. Mdina’s dusky stone buildings and mix of Norman and Baroque architecture lend it a mysterious and mythic quality that translates perfectly into the show. It’s known as the “Silent City:” No cars are allowed within the city walls, and only about 300 people live inside.





Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

Since Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908, children and adults have made the pilgrimage to Canada’s lovely Prince Edward Island, where the book is set. The Green Gables farmhouse that inspired L.M. Montgomery’s classic books still stands in Cavendish (named Avonlea in the books) and can be visited year round. Even Mindy Kaling is desperate to see where Anne grew up. In a recent interview with the LA Times, she said, “The other book world I would like to live in is Anne of Green Gables. Living on Prince Edward Island would be so badass.”




Petra, Jordan: Canyon of the Crescent Moon (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

It’s hard to imagine a more imposingly beautiful filming location for a grail quest than the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Although Petra was carved into sandstone 2,000 years ago, it only came to the attention of the Western world in 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt disguised himself in Bedouin costume to sneak into the site. The Treasury, Al-Khazneh, was most famously used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and is still open for visitors.





Angel Falls in Venezuela: Paradise Falls (Up)

Paradise Falls is the central destination Pixar’s Up. Carl’s beloved Ellie never gets to see it herself, but with the help of about 10,000 balloons, Carl and Russell manage to make the trip. Its real life counterpart is Angel Falls in Venezuela, part of the Auyantepui mountain in Canaima National Park. At a height of over 3,000 feet, it’s the tallest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. The hike to see the falls from the top can be a multi-day journey, but the stunning view is worth the trek.





Matamata, New Zealand: Hobbiton (The Lord of the Rings)

Perhaps the most famous fictional travel destination is the Hobbiton set of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. Nestled in the countryside surrounding Matamata in New Zealand, the set features over 30 hobbit dwellings as well as a mill and a double-arched stone bridge. After The Hobbit movies finished filming, the houses were left fully furnished for visitors. Truly devoted fans can even enjoy Second Breakfast at the nearby Shire’s Rest Cafe.

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Merry SM Christmas 2015 at SM City Iloilo

November 9th, 2015


SM Supermalls kick off the start of the season with Merry SM Christmas 2015 across the country. Last Saturday, SM City Iloilo formally launched Merry SM Christmas 2015. With some invited guests, the program started with  light snacks from Krispy Kreme to all-time favourites popcorn and cotton candy, as well as a  short program of  kids’ performances alongside some magic tricks.


Photo courtesy of SM City Iloilo



And finally, the big reveal.. the Grand Christmas tree of SM City Iloilo!


SM Christmas


Of course, Santa was there!

sm christmas3

The Merry SM Christmas 2015 event also hosted the album tour of a local artist, Jason Dy.


Photo courtesy of SM City Iloilo



Jason Dy and his DYfenders ( I like the name :) )

sm christmas2

With Christmas as the spirit of giving, buy one teddy bear from SM City Iloilo for only 200 pesos. For every purchase, another plushy toy bear will be given to one child from a chosen charity.

Merry SM Christmas 2015 runs until January 10,2016. So check out various activities from your nearest SM Supermall like Christmas sale, Toy Fairs, Meet and Gree with Santa among others.

As an alumna, I would like to mention the organizer of the event – UP Visayas Communication and Media Studies. Good work!

Avoid the rush, visit SM City Iloilo for your Christmas shopping! Enjoy and have fun!

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Read This Post and Take Better Photos

November 5th, 2015


This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog October 26,2015.





When you put in the time, effort, and money to travel somewhere, it’s only natural to want to take better photos and document the experience in order to relive it down the road (and—let’s be honest—it’s fun to show off a little on Instagram). But not all photos are created equal. Here’s how to preserve memories in a high-quality way and make your photos stand out from the pack.

Embrace the “rule of thirds”

This classic photography maxim maintains that the most aesthetically pleasing photos are derived by splitting an image into nine equally sized squares and then positioning the subject(s) of the photo where any two lines cross each other. Check out these great examples to understand how you can use this guideline for virtually any photo.





Incorporate people, places, and things

This great tip from the Independent Traveler can be applied anywhere, whether you’re eating local in Oahu or braving the cold at an ice hotel. The concept is simple: Just make sure most of the photos you take incorporate a person, a place of interest, and a unique object. This will make your photos much more dynamic, more interesting, and more memorable than yet another beige shot of the family in front of the Eiffel Tower. Your best friend doing a cartwheel beside a red umbrella in front of Paris’ Musée du Vin? Perfect.

Pay attention to lighting

Don’t take photos facing directly into the sun—your picture will be mostly shadow (no matter how gorgeous the view looked in real life). In general, try to avoid taking pictures between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., since the midday sun casts a harsh light on everything and creates pesky shadows. You’ll find the best light in the morning and around sunset. In general, pay attention to where light is coming from and stage your shot accordingly. And don’t be afraid of bad weather—even rainy or overcast days can produce amazing photos.

Stage the foreground, midground, and background

Well-known travel writer Nomadic Matt has a strategy for avoiding the disappointment of realizing that your picture of a stunning mountain or city skyline doesn’t look nearly as impressive as the scene did in real life. The solution? Creating a sense of scale. Try to incorporate items into the foreground, midground, and background of the shot so that it appears three-dimensional. For example, try using a colorful bus as foreground for a shot of an unusual building.




Take great selfies

Yes, there is an art to selfie-taking. Especially when traveling, the best selfies  ncorporate things that are specific to the place where you’re taking the photo (e.g. the waves at Miami Beach), feature place-based activities (e.g. climbing the Matterhorn), and experiment with different angles. Try tilting your head, angling your shoulders toward or away from the camera, or focusing on a body part other than your face (like your tired feet after a long day of exploring).



Do some research

Before traveling anywhere, do some research online to learn a bit about the region’s culture, landscape, and iconic sites so you can start thinking about the photos you’d like to take. Take things a step further by doing an image search of those locales so you can see how other people have photographed them and develop your own unique take.



Include local signage

Incorporate local store signs, newspapers, street signs, or signage at farmers’ markets into your photos to instantly convey a sense of place. Bonus points for funny (mis-)translations.







Learn your camera’s shortcuts

Any traveler knows that amazing or unexpected experiences can happen in an instant. Be prepared to capture any moment by keeping your camera handy and knowing its photo shortcuts (or knowing your phone’s camera shortcuts).

Don’t get caught up in evaluation

Digital cameras and smartphones make it all too easy to start critiquing photos the moment they’re taken, which can cause you to miss a great shot. Avoid the temptation to peek and stay focused on the momentyou’re trying to capture. There’ll be time to evaluate the photos back at the hotel.

Ask permission

It can be tempting to sneak pictures of locals because they convey an immediate sense of place. But remember that you’re looking at human beings, and being a respectful tourist is important. Before taking anyone’s photo, make sure you have his or her permission to do so. Then offer thanks (and maybe even compensation) for their willingness to help out.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind while hunting for travel photo ops? Stay open-minded and adventurous. If you want an unusual or exciting photo, it helps to do unusual or exciting things. Go exploring, try new foods or activities, and step off the beaten (tourist) path. If you’re doing amazing things, amazing photos will follow. Be sure to share your stellar photography by tagging #hipmunk on Instagram. We can’t wait to see it!

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