Lastest Posts

How to Plan the Perfect One-Week Trip to Panama

Panama is a country that has been on my travel bucket list for a while, which is why I was excited when Spirit Airlines announced new direct flight routes from my hometown airport to Panama City!  If you live in the Orlando area you can now take advantage of this direct flight route as well as many other direct routes from Orlando (MCO) to Guatemala City, Cartagena, San Jose, Santo Domingo, and more!  Check out www.spirit.com for more information.

I spent two full weeks in the country exploring the modern capital city, the Panama Canal, the rainforest, white sandy beaches, and more.  I’ve decided to share my idea of the perfect one-week itinerary since I spent the second week mostly catching up on work while lounging around the beaches and mountains.  In this blog post you’ll find a one-week sample itinerary which is jam-packed full of the best activities in and around Panama City.

Panama City

During the first week of my trip I traveled with my mother who likes to stay busy and we decided to base ourselves in the Panama City area for the entire week since it was easy to book most of the activities and tours we wanted to experience.  Staying in and around the city was also convenient for us since we traveled on a direct flight from Orlando to Panama City. 

We stayed in Panama City for 4 nights and in the rainforest (about 45 minutes outside of the city) for the other 3 nights.  When we were in Panama City, we stayed at the Wyndham Panama Albrook Mall and in the rainforest, we stayed at the Radisson Summit Resort & Golf Panama.  I highly recommend both hotels which are pictured below. 

For one week in Panama we booked day tours just about every day which allowed us to maximize our time and see as much as possible within only 7 days.  Below you can find a list of these tours and the included activities.  I decided not to list out an exact day-by-day itinerary as these activities can be planned for almost any day of the week.  I highly recommend reaching out to each individual tour company and asking for availability.   

Panama City & Canal Tour with Barefoot Panama

No trip to Panama is complete without a visit to the world-famous Panama Canal! When I was searching for a tour company that would take us to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal, I decided to book with Barefoot Panama as they offered a combined city tour with a visit to the Panama Canal.  Moreover, I noticed Barefoot Panama had amazing reviews on TripAdvisor! 

The tour started around 8-9 am and lasted for approximately 8 hours.  Our guide provided us with a walking tour of Casco Antiguo which is Panama City’s ‘old town’.  We received a historical overview of a few of the plazas in this UNESCO World Heritage Site before heading off to the Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks to watch ships pass through from all over the world.  We also spent about an hour and a half at the visitor’s center which provided four floors of exhibits and a short film about the history of the canal. 

This tour ended with a visit to the Amador Causeway for the best views of the city skyline and a visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Nature Center where we were able to see turtles, frogs, and sloths! 

Taste of Panama City with Barefoot Panama

If you are a foodie this is a tour you must book!  The Taste of Panama City is a 2.5- hour food tour which runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  The tour begins at 5 pm in Casco Viejo at a café where we were able to sample Panamanian coffee and chocolate.  I have to honestly say that it is the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted! 

Barefoot Panama also took us to visit a local seafood market which was made famous thanks to Anthony Bourdain.  Moreover, there was a visit to the first ever local brewery in the city where we had the chance to sample several types of beer.  The tour ended with a rum cocktail at the best rooftop bar in the city. 

San Blas Islands

In my opinion a visit to the San Blas Islands is a must, but if you only have one week to spare in Panama then you should book a day trip to the Islands.  This is exactly what we did during our trip!  Once again, we booked this tour through Barefoot Panama, however, the tour isn’t operated by Barefoot.  Tour companies in Panama will advertise San Blas tours but only the local Guna people operate tours to these islands. 

The San Blas Islands are beautiful but keep in mind that it’s about a 3.5-hour drive from Panama City to the Guna Yala Province.  We were picked up at our hotel at 5 am and spent about 6 hours visiting two islands and a natural starfish pool.  It was our longest day on the trip, but I can’t recommend this day trip enough! 

Monkey Island, Indian Village, & Lake Gatun

This was my mother’s favorite tour in Panama.  She loved the boat ride in Lake Gatun to Monkey Island where we had about 15 different monkeys jump on our boat.  One even sat in her lap! 

The boat tour also took us to a Native Indian Village along the Chagres River where we were able to learn about the community, history, art, music, and danced.  The children were so sweet and even showed us how to dance. 

Hiking Soberania National Park with EcoCircutos Panama

The Soberania National Park is approximately 45 minutes outside of Panama City and next to our hotel when we stayed in the rainforest.  We decided to go for a guided tour because we wanted to make sure we were able to view as much wildlife as possible.  EcoCircutos provided an expert tour guide who helped us spot frogs, multiple species of birds (including toucans, anteaters, and sloths.  We also had the chance to go above the treetops and experience amazing views of the rainforest. 

Panama Partial Canal Tour Cruise with Panama Marine Adventures

In my opinion, this is another “must book” tour with a visit to Panama City.  Panama Marine Adventures offers a 6-hour cruise along the Panama Canal which includes both breakfast and lunch.  The cruise ship is large enough to hold up to 250 passengers and includes a dining room, bathrooms, and two deck levels for passengers to sit or stand. 

We thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing experience with amazing city and rainforest views.  We had the chance to view vessels from all over the world and the tour guide provided an explanation of our surroundings along the way. 

DIY Activities

We did have a bit of downtime in between tours or on the days when we had short tours booked.  I have listed below a few of the DIY activities we enjoyed without booking a tour. 

  • Golf Cart DIY tour at the Radisson Hotel in the rainforest – we drove a golf cart around the hotel property and had the chance to view anteaters, alligators, and more! 
  • Shopping at the Albrook Mall – this is the largest mall in Latin America and we easily spent a few hours shopping here. 
  • Museo Panama Viejo – this is an archeological site of the original city in Panama City.
  • Biomuseo – the building is designed by world-renknowned architect Frank Gehry and includes eight galleries about Panama and biodiversity. 

In my opinion, these are the best activities if you only have one week to spare in Panama.  I highly recommend flying into Panama City, staying in and around the city, and booking day trips to get around this part of the country.  As always, if you have any questions or feedback about this blog post please feel free to leave comments below or email me at [email protected]

Thanks to Spirit Airlines for flying me to Panama.  As always, thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

This website offers the best discounts on hotels and resorts!

As a travel blogger one of the questions I am asked the most is “how are you able to afford to travel so much?”  I am constantly working hard to fund my travels through this blog and through freelance work, but I also spend a lot of my time searching for the best travel deals.  I recently came across one website that offers the best travel accommodation deals on hotels and resorts, and I am so excited that I just had to share in this blog post!

The website with the best deals is called TripValet!

TripValet is a member-based travel website which offers exclusive discounted prices for hotels, cruises, cars, and flights around the world.  it’s a website that offers wholesale pricing instead of retail public pricing which is why a membership is required.

How much of a discount does TripValet offer?  

TripValet offers up to 70% in savings and promises to beat other booking websites 80-90% of the time.  I’ve been a member for several months now and I can confirm that these discounts are legit, but don’t just take my word for it.  I’ll show you the deals in this blog post!  Just keep reading…

I searched on TripValet for a 3 day/ 2 night weekend getaway in NYC.  I found a deal for the 4 star 11 Howard Hotel which will save me $344.  I also checked Priceline.com, Expedia.com, and Booking.com for the same dates, and all three websites offered a significantly higher price for the same hotel!  Check out the screenshots below.  On each screenshot I have circled in red the price and savings.

I blocked out my address on this last screenshot which is why there is a big black mark, but what is important is to notice the price I’ll pay for booking the hotel and my member savings.  TripValet even shares on their website a list of the public prices for the hotel from every leading website.  Check out the screenshot below.

I’ll go ahead and share screenshots from some of those other websites.

Booking.com shows the price of the same queen room at the same hotel on the same dates to be $646 for 2 nights but that doesn’t include taxes.  Once I continued with the booking process the total came to $919.17 (see screenshot below).  This price includes the $60 resort fee which isn’t included in the price that TripValet displayed.  If I take the $60 resort fee away from the total price then the booking.com price comes to $859.17.  You can see the huge amount of savings right there with TripValet as with my membership I am able to book this room for only $509.49.  That’s a $349.68 price difference for a hotel I am planning to book for only 2 nights!  That’s a huge discount!

Let’s take a look at the price expedia.com offers for the same hotel with the same queen room and booking dates.  Check out the screenshots below.

Expedia.com is offering a rate of $913.87 for the same exact booking as TripValet, except with Expedia the resort fee is included in the price that is displayed (just as it was with booking.com).  If we take $60 from the total price then the price is $853.87 for the exact same hotel room that I can book for $509.49.  That’s a $344.38 price difference if I book using my TripValet membership!

I’ll show you the price difference with one more website.  Check out the screenshots below from priceline.com.

Once again this is a website that includes the resort fee.  For some reason the fee is a bit higher with Priceline but if we remove that fee then the total for this room is $855.38.  With Priceline.com the price for the same hotel room for the same dates is $345.89 higher.

I could keep showing you the savings compared to the price offered from Agoda.com, Hotels.com, and more but I would rather YOU check out the deals for yourself.   Click the link below for a 7 day trial and check out all of the deals!

Free Trial

Click Here For a TripValet 7-Day Trial

Monthly Vacation Giveaway

This is just another reason I love TripValet!  Click the link below if you want to enter into the vacation giveaway that TripValet holds monthly.  All of the monthly giveaways include a stay at a 5 star resort and a flight voucher!  All TripValet members (keep reading below for membership details) will automatically get double entry points for the monthly giveaway.

www.kerrysomewheretripvaletmonthlyvacationgiveaway.com

Receive a free 3 Day/2 Night Vacation Voucher for joining the TripValet Facebook  Community

This is one of my favorite perks offered by TripValet.  If you join their Travel More, Worry Less Facebook group and follow the instructions below then you will receive a voucher for a 3 day/2 night Hotel stay!  In order to use the voucher it must be registered with a $14.95 processing fee and local tax will need to be paid which will vary by state.  The voucher can be redeemed at over 50 different locations within the United States.  Click on the link below in order to join the Facebook group and follow the instructions on the pinned post at the top of the group.  I’ve also included below a screenshot of the pinned post and the instructions.  Once you’ve joined the group and you’re ready to comment on the pinned post make sure to tag me in your comment!  I’m ‘Kerry Elisabeth’ in the private Facebook group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelmoreworryless/

As I mentioned, just find that pinned post in the group (in the screenshot just above this) and follow the instructions in that post.  Don’t forget to tag me (Kerry Elisabeth) in your comment!

TripValet Membership Details

The reason TripValet is able to offer such deep travel discounts is because their pricing isn’t public as is the case with Expedia.com, Priceline.com, Kayak.com, Booking.com and others.  TripValet offers over 550,000 top brand hotels and resorts around the world and the membership includes prices that beat other sites 80-90% of the time.  Moreover, TripValet offers discounts on shopping, dining, entertainment, airfare, cruises, rental cars, condos, tours, vacations, and excursions.

In order to sign up for the membership you can click on the link below for the free trial.

TripValet 7-Day Trial

There are two different memberships TripValet offers.  The TripValet Plus membership is $97 per year and includes everything I listed above under TripValet membership details.  The TripValet VIP membership is $297 per year and includes everything the Plus membership offers but also reward credits toward free travel, 70-85% savings on exclusive vacation packages for Mexico, Las Vegas, and Mexico, and access to exclusively designed curated trips with a host for a VIP experience.  What’s great about the VIP membership is that if YOU sign up there is a chance we could travel together!  I have the VIP membership and I plan to attend some of these trips in the future.  In fact, I’ll most likely book the trip that is offered to Mexico in December 2018.  Let me know if you purchase the VIP membership and if you plan to join one of these trips!

As I showed you in the initial screen shots at the beginning of this blog post I was able to save $344 of the cost of booking a hotel with TripValet instead of booking the same hotel with a website that offers public pricing.  Therefore, I can cover the cost of my membership with only one booking!  I’ve already used my membership multiple times which means my membership has more than been paid for and I am continuing to save money on accommodation.  My photos in this blog post actually show some of the destinations where I’ve used TripValet to book a 4 or 5 star hotel which includes the Dominican Republic, Phuket Thailand, Orlando, Florida, and more.

What is also great about TripValet is that they have a nice referral program.  If a member refers 3 other people then that person will receive a free membership for the next year!  If you have a few friends or family members who love to travel, and if three sign up then that’s your membership covered for the next year!  If you’re a travel blogger or influencer then it’s probably easy to find 3 people from your audience who can become referrals.  There is no need to feel that you have to sell TripValet to anyone but the option is always there if you are a member who would like to take advantage of it.

For those of you who continually ask me how I afford to travel… TripValet is one of my best kept secrets!  If you see me sharing content on Instagram stories from a 4 or 5 star hotel then chances are I booked my accommodation with my VIP membership.  If you want to sign up feel free to utilize the 7 day trial and let me know if you have any questions by commenting below or sending me an email to [email protected]

Click Here For a TripValet 7-Day Trial

This post may contain affiliate links and I might earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

How To Travel The World As A Housesitter & Receive Free Accommodation

This post may contain affiliate links and I might earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

If you’ve ever traveled to California then you know this is an expensive part of the world to visit.  A two week stay in San Diego in a 3 or 4-star hotel or Airbnb will cost around $2,000, and a two week stay in LA or the San Francisco Bay Area will probably cost even more.  I am actually traveling to LA and the Bay Area next, and I have free accommodation booked in those California hotspots as well!

As I am typing up this blog post I am sitting on a couch in a house in San Diego and I am STAYING HERE FOR FREE FOR TWO WEEKS!

As the title of this blog posts suggests you can already guess how I am able to secure free accommodation in expensive travel destinations.

I am traveling as a house/petsitter and saving thousands of dollars per year on accomodation!

I have been housesitting a lot this year and I wish I had started this gig a long time ago.  Check out some of the cute animals I have had the chance to take care of lately (all of the home/pet owners have given me permission to share these photos).

The reason I am able to land housesitting gigs in exchange for free accommodation is because many pet owners want to have the chance to travel without worrying about their babies!  Pet owners want their dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, etc. to be able to remain in the comfort of their own home and daily routine, while they are gone on a trip.  It can cost pet owners a lot of money to board their animals, and many pets suffer from anxiety or stress during this process.   Hiring a housesitter is a great option for pet owners who want to travel and do not want to board their animals.

I have found all of my housesitting gigs on TrustedHousesitters.com which has the most amount of housesits available I have seen compared to any other website.  I have been tempted to sign up for a few other housesitting websites, however, I have been able to consistently secure housesits with TrustedHousesitters.com so I haven’t had the need to sign up anywhere else.  Moreover, I have my profile and reputation built up with TrustedHousesitters as all of my previous housesitting gigs booked through this site have resulted in 5 star reviews for me!

TrustedHousesitters has a big presence in the United States, Canada, in Europe (especially in the UK), and in Australia.  The website is growing fast as every week I am noticing there are more and more housesits available in countries such as Costa Rica, South Korea, Jamaica, UAE, Mexico, South Africa, and more!  TrustedHousesitters is worldwide and you can browse through the housesits listed on the website even if you haven’t signed up for a membership.  Just click the link below!

www.TrustedHousesitters.com

The only reason I’ve been able to afford a cross country USA road trip is by landing housesitting gigs!  

If you do want to sign up for a membership it will cost you $119 as an owner to sign up or $119 to sign up as a sitter.  There is also an option to sign up as both!  The sign up fee is a bargain considering it would cost me $119 more per night to rent out a house or apartment.  I literally save thousands of dollars per year by paying $119 per year for my membership as most of my housesits last for one or two weeks.  I even had a housesit that lasted for a month!

If you become a member there is also an option to be able to charge for your housesitting services.  I have noticed that most people on the website don’t charge for their housesitting services and I also do not charge for my services.  I don’t make money as a housesitter as I don’t want to lessen my chances to be able to land a good housesitting gig.  There is competition on the website as there are many other housesitters on there, but I have been able to land most of the housesits I apply for by offering my services for free since this is what most pet owners are looking for.  Moreover, I have created a great profile and racked up plenty of 5-star reviews.  If you do want to sign up then I highly recommend adding as much information as possible to your profile.

Many people have told me that they feel discouraged about signing up as a housesitter as they don’t have any experience.  I also had almost no experience when I initially signed up on TrustedHousesitters.com.  My one housesitting experience was for a friend in Charleston, South Carolina who took a trip to Disney World and asked if I could watch her bird for 5 days.  I didn’t even have this one housesitting reference added to my profile when I landed my first gig on TrustedHousesitters!  I always tell people to not get discouraged as most people who are on the website have started from scratch without much experience.  I am currently working on a blog post that will provide tips to help travelers learn how to successfully land their first few housesits.  Stay tuned!

I do have to mention that housesitting isn’t for everyone.  I personally know people who don’t like animals.  It is shocking but, yes… these types of people do exist out there! ????  Housesitting can sometimes also be a lot of work.  My very first housesit was easy as I stayed in a small home with two cats who spent most of their time outdoors.  I had to keep the food and water bowls full but I didn’t even need to change any litter since they did their business outside!  However, I have also had a few difficult housesitting experiences.  I took a housesitting gig at a ranch in Colorado where I looked after 4 big dogs, 8 cats, 5 horses, and over 30 chickens!  I agreed to this housesit since it only lasted for 4 days and I wanted the experience, but it really was tough work compared to other sits.

I love housesitting and the amount of money I save on accommodation.  There is no way I would be able to afford to travel full-time in expensive countries without booking free accommodation on TrustedHousesitters.com.  If you are interested in signing up as a member and if you have questions about housesitting then feel free to reach out!  You can comment below, send me an email at [email protected] or send me a Tweet at @kerrysomewhere.

_________________

Don’t forget to join my live broadcast to discuss housesitting on Thursday, September 13th at 9 pm EDT!  Click here to join the discussion approximately 5 minutes prior to the start time.  You can join as a listener and ask questions in the chat box or join as a guest and chime in on the discussion.  I will be chatting about my housesitting experience, explain how to sign up as a sitter, what to expect as a homeowner/pet owner/sitter, and more! 

_________________

Where To Stay in Liverpool

As someone who has traveled to Liverpool to watch over 30 games at Anfield I am often asked for advice on where to stay in the city and how I am able to afford so many trips!  There are plenty of hotels and Airbnbs available in Liverpool but they do book up fast on a matchday/weekend, and it’s important to book accommodation as far in advance as possible.

Some of my favorite hotels in Liverpool are the Aloft, the Shankly Hotel, Hotel TIA, The Hard Days Night Hotel, and the Titanic Hotel.  I always recommend staying in the city centre as there’s so much to see and do in the city.  This is also where most international supporters stay when they travel to the city, although Hotel TIA is a nice and new hotel that just popped up at Anfield.

In regards to how I am able to afford so many trips… let’s just say I have learned a lot of money-saving travel hacks over the years!  I have a lot of money-saving tips in multiple blog posts, but for this post in particular I’ll share my best-kept secret for getting discounts off of hotels as accommodation is usually the biggest expense for my trips.

I have my connections in Liverpool now so I don’t always book hotels but there are times when I do book hotels.  When I book a hotel in Liverpool I always book with TripValet!

TripValet is the one website I’ve found that offers the best deals I’ve ever seen for booking hotels.

TripValet is a member-based travel website that offers exclusive discounted prices for hotels, cruises, cars, and flights around the world.  it’s a website that offers wholesale pricing instead of retail public pricing which is why membership is required.

How much of a discount does TripValet offer?

TripValet offers up to 70% in savings and promises to beat other booking websites 80-90% of the time.  I’ve been a member for 9 months now and I can confirm that these discounts are legit, but don’t just take my word for it.  I’ll show you the deals in this blog post!

I’m actually planning to return to Liverpool for the match at Anfield against Manchester United on Saturday, December 15th.  I searched for hotels in the city using TripValet and one of my favorite hotels popped up with a major discount.

If I book the Aloft hotel in the city centre in Liverpool for Thursday, December 13th through Sunday, December 16th it will cost me $444 using my TripValet membership.  The membership portal also shows me the public prices listed on the other popular hotel booking websites for this same hotel for the exact same dates.  As you can see I will save $149 if I book with my TripValet membership!

I actually looked up the prices directly on Booking.com, Priceline.com, and Hotels.com and you can view the screenshots below confirming that these prices are much higher.

These are the same dates for the same hotel in Liverpool but the public prices are all significantly higher than the TripValet rates.  I use my TripValet membership numerous times per year in order to book 4 and 5 star hotels for cheap and as a result I end up saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year.  I also use my membership to receive discounts off of hotels in London and all over the UK.

My membership more than pays for itself by receiving discounts in Liverpool and all over the world.  If you are interested in checking out TripValet for yourself you can click on the link below for a free 7 day trial.

TripValet 7-Day Trial

You can also click here for a more detailed blog post on the two different types of TripValet memberships, the discounts I have received using my membership to book hotels around the world, and the other types of discounts a member can receive off of cruises, car rentals, flights, and more!

How To View the Famous James Bond Island With Almost No Other Tourists!

Phangnga Treasures Sunrise X James Bond Island Trip

When I share content on social media I am often asked how I am able to capture photos without other people in them.  Especially since I frequently visit tourist hotspots where hundreds or thousands of other tourists visit every day.  I have to admit that I was nervous to travel to certain places in Thailand as I despise large crowds of tourists.  Everything I had read about visiting Phuket had warned me that there were massive amounts of tourists everywhere.  Usually when I travel to places such as Rome, Krakow, Oia (Santorini), NYC or Siem Reap I will wake up early to beat most of the crowds, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to travel to the famous James Bond Island without crowds since the island was so far away from Phuket.

Prior to my trip to Phuket I did a lot of research to figure out the best method to visit James Bond Island.  What I stumbled across was the best tour I’ve ever booked in my entire life.  Not only did the tour take me to James Bond Island at a time when there were almost no other tourists, but they did so in a local fisherman’s boat (the boat is pictured below) and with one of the best hikes I’ve ever experienced!

The tour company is called Phuket Let’s Go and not only do they have an awesome name, but the staff Is really great too. The company is owned by a woman named Ann who is originally from Thailand, but she speaks perfect English as she lived in the United States for a while.  If you want to book with them and if you have any questions about the tours I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them.

Early Morning Tour

Their focus is to provide small group and off-peak tours which is exactly what they did.  I do have a fair warning about the timing of this tour.  If you want to book this tour you will most likely get picked up from your hotel in Phuket at 4 -4:30 am but this tour is worth getting up early for!  The tour leaves so early because James Bond Island is quite far away from Phuket and the company is providing you with the ability to arrive at the island earlier than almost everyone.  There are speed boats that leave Phuket and head to James Bond Island every day, but they are large boats that bring big crowds with them and I noticed that this tour with Phuket Let’s Go still arrives earlier than these other speed boat tours.  Moreover, this is not a manufactured large group tour to just get people to James Bond Island but it’s a tour that brings a small group to James Bond Island and it also includes cultural and off the beaten path experiences throughout the day.

On the day of my tour I was picked up at 4 am and I was met by my guide in the lobby of my hotel.  He escorted me to the van where we picked up a few other tourists and then we were on our way north toward the dock heading to James Bond Island.  Phuket Let’s Go kept to their small group promise as there were only a handful of others on this tour.  What I did notice is that the others who booked this tour were serious travelers who also wanted the best experience and the ability to capture great content.

Sunrise at Phangnga Bay

I spent about an hour and a half in a comfortable air-conditioned van that took us north to the Samed Nangshe viewpoint which was as an approximate 15-20-minute hike.  It’s not a difficult hike but if you’re not up for it then you can pay a small fee to take a truck up to the top of the viewpoint.  As you can see from my photo below the sunrise over Phangnga Bay was absolutely stunning.  At this point of the tour I was already excited that I woke up so early! Phuket Let’s go provided coffee and a snack box while we were enjoying the sunrise in the bay.

After this the van drove us for a few minutes to a local pier where we embarked on a private longtail boat with a local villager captain.  This is really what sets the tour company apart as there were NO OTHER tourists at this pier.  This was literally an area for locals where no one spoke English.  It was amazing!  There are toilet facilities here but keep in mind that you’re in a small village in Thailand, so you’ll need to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. ?

Visiting James Bond Island

As we set out on the longtail boat it was amazing to just take in the breathtaking scenery with no one else around!  Well, no one except everyone else in our boat who I was quickly becoming friends with.  The first stop was the famous Koh Tapu aka James Bond Island and there literally were only two other tourists once we arrived.  These tourists seemed to have been there for a bit already and they were actually leaving once we got there.  As a result our tour boat had the entire island to ourselves for the first 20 minutes!  We spent about 40 minutes total walking around the island and enjoying the peace and quiet.  We even had the beach in front of the island to ourselves.  After about 20 minutes we did have a speed boat that showed up but by the time they were off the boat and wanting to take photos we were done taking ours!  Once we were leaving there were boats lined up on the beach one after the other with tourists coming off of them.  We were told that within two hours the beach would be jampacked full of people and I was so relieved that we got there when we did!

Two others from my tour boat are in the photo below.  As you can see we had the beach to ourselves!

Visiting Hong Island and a Few Others

After this we headed out to several other islands in order to explore caves.  This is what else I loved about the tour as much of the itinerary is very unique to Phuket Let’s Go.  On most of the islands we visited I only saw one other small group tour.  When we did arrive to Hong Island for some kayaking there were other tourists but once again most of them were arriving after we had already been there for a while.  Kayaking around Hong Island was great as it was a genuinely beautiful place and the locals did all of the kayaking for us!  I had the chance to sit back, relax, and just take in the breathtaking scenery.  I recommend bringing a waterproof camera for this if you’re clumsy like me and worried about dropping your camera in the water.  ?

Our last boat spot was very fascinating as we got to visit a 5,000-year-old shell cemetery nestled around the rock and mangrove forest where an ancient treasure map is painted on a rock wall.  Once again this is a unique aspect of the Phuket Let’s Go tour as I didn’t see this advertised anywhere else.

Lunch time

The tour concludes with a delicious lunch at a restaurant on a hilltop.  This was not a buffet lunch which is what in my experience is served on most tours.  The food was made to order, and I had some of the most delicious coconut curry I’ve ever had!  As many of you know I am a vegetarian and this is something that can be easily requested (I recommend reaching out to the tour company prior to the tour date so that they can accommodate your dietary requests all day).  We sat on the balcony with an amazing view and a few beers and all of us had one beer each that was included in the price of the tour with the lunch.  After lunch the van dropped us all off at our hotels in Phuket arriving just after 2 pm.  Overall it was about a 10-hour day which left plenty of time for a late afternoon nap!

I can’t recommend this tour company enough and one of my only regrets was not booking their “Real Phuket No Shopping Sightseeing Tour.”  I spent most of the time in the van chatting with the tour guide who explained the various tours that they offer, and I was impressed that they offered a tour without any shopping or commission scams that most tourists experience with city tours.  I did book the Early Bird Phi Phi Sunrise tour with Phuket Let’s Go and I also can highly recommend booking the Phi Phi Island tour with them as well.  You can check out all of their tours on their website:  http://phuketletsgo.com/

A Review of the Luxury Bill Shankly Themed Hotel in Liverpool

If you are a Liverpool supporter traveling to Anfield then you must check out the Shankly Hotel!  

As a Liverpool supporter and a travel blogger I often combine my two passions and travel to England for football matches.  In fact, I’ve been lucky enough to watch over 30 Liverpool home and away matches, and I often spend quite a bit of time in the city.  Over the years I’ve stayed at different hotels in Liverpool, but my absolute favorite is the Shankly Hotel in the city center.  Keep reading to find out why this football themed hotel is so great!

 The Hotel

The Shankly Hotel is located in the new football quarter in Liverpool.  This quarter in Liverpool is still in development and the owners of the Shankly Hotel have created the concept which includes the future Dixie Dean Everton Hotel and a Mersey Football Hall of Fame.  The football quarter is in a great location in Liverpool as it is within walking distance to plenty of restaurants, museums, and sights.

The hotel itself is a luxury property created as a tribute to one of football’s greatest managers:  Bill Shankly.  The hotel is managed by Bill Shankly’s grandchildren who have preserved exclusive memorabilia from his life and have these artifacts showcased in the hotel lobby, restaurant, and bar.  There are letters on display from fans to Bill Shankly, the original keys to the Shankly Gates at Anfield, his medals as a manager, and more.  Check out some of my photos below.

A tribute to the 96 who tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough. 

A photo in the hotel lobby of Bill Shankly at Anfield. 

Seats from the old Main Stand at Anfield.  

The Rooms

If you’re seeking to book luxury accommodation in Liverpool then the Shankly Hotel should be your number one choice!  Many of the rooms are unique as the hotel offers plenty of suites for parties of various sizes, from business travelers, to couples, and even large groups.  Just like the hotel lobby, many of the rooms offer tasteful Liverpool Football-themed decor and every room showcases a famous quote from the legendary Bill Shankly.

A photo I captured of my room at the Shankly Hotel.

I loved my luxury room at the Shankly Hotel as I had a massive amount of space, a kitchen and a rain shower!  I was able to open up my own bottle of wine thanks to one of the many helpful utensils in the kitchen, and I loved having the space to work from my laptop in several spots in the room.  Check out my photos below from when I stayed at the hotel.

The kitchen in my room at the Shankly Hotel. 

One of the two beds in my room at the hotel with a photo of Bill Shankly on the wall.

The wonderful rain shower in the bathroom of my hotel room. 

The kitchen in my room was fully stocked with utensils and kitchen gadgets.  

Food + Drink

The Shankly Hotel houses the Bastion Bar & Restaurant which is one of the best restaurants in the city.  Even if the hotel is sold out I recommend at least booking a table at the hotel restaurant.  Just about every time I travel to Liverpool I eat at the Bastion Bar & Restaurant as the food is amazing!

The Bastion Bar & Restaurant offers traditional British food, a lovely Sunday roast, an afternoon tea menu, and fantastic offers during the week.

Shankly Tours

What makes the Shankly Hotel even more special is the tours that it offers.  Twice now I have experienced these tours which includes a Beatles Tour, a Bill Shankly Tour, the Anfield Stadium Tour, and a Liverpool City Tour.

I highly recommend booking your Liverpool tours through the Shankly Hotel as I have had nothing but fantastic experiences!  Not to mention the hotel exclusively offers the Bill Shankly Tour, which provides his family’s insight of the legendary football manager’s life.

Check out an in-depth blog post review of my Shankly Tours experience.

Memorabilia of Bill Shankly’s life.

 

Visiting Strawberry Fields during the Beatles Tour. 

Another stop on the Beatles Tour.  

You can book your stay at the Shankly Hotel directly on their website at https://shanklyhotel.com/. If you’re traveling to Liverpool for a match on a weekend, make sure to book your room at the Shankly Hotel as far in advance as possible.  If you plan in advance, then you’ll have the best chance to book a luxury stay.  As always, if you have any questions about this hotel or my blog post feel free to comment below or reach out to me at [email protected]

Bill Shankly’s granddaughter at the check-in desk at the Shankly Hotel.  

The Anfield Stadium Tour – What To Expect

The Anfield Stadium Tour

I became a Liverpool supporter in 2001 when I first visited the city but I never actually got to watch a match.  It was my dream for years to travel back to Liverpool and to not only watch a match at Anfield, but to also do the stadium tour.   I finally got the chance to return to Liverpool in 2015 and ever since then I’ve been lucky enough to watch over 30 home and away games.  I’ve also done the stadium tour about a half a dozen times so I thought I would share my own insights.

By the way, all of the photos in this post will look different due to using different cameras during various tours over the years.

The New Anfield Stadium Tour

The stadium tour has really evolved over the years and it has even changed within the past two years since the new Main Stain was built.  My first stadium tour included the old Main Stand and I have to admit that I was absolutely shocked when I saw how outdated the players changing rooms were.  I knew that the club was due to upgrade this stand but I didn’t realize how much the upgrades were needed until I saw the stadium myself.  The new Main Stand built two years ago is absolutely stunning with the modern facilities you would expect from one of the most followed football clubs in the world.

When you arrive at the stadium for the tour you will want to check into the area with a sign that shows “Stadium Tour.”  This is located outside of the Main Stand close to the Kop.  You’ll see the Anfield Retail store just across from where the Stadium Tour check in is located.  If you’ve pre-booked your tour (more on that below) you can check in and receive further instructions.  Most people book the self-guided tour with access to the museum so that is what I will cover in this post.

When you check in you’ll receive a device (pictured below) which provides a step-by-step guide throughout different parts of the stadium tour.  There will be stadium staff members throughout each of these steps during your tour, who can answer any questions and guide you in the right direction.

The tour starts by bringing you up the multiple escalators of the Main Stand.  The multiple escalators you’ll have to go up provides perspective into how big the new stand really is.  Also, there are lots of great banners to check out on the wall on your way up the escalators.

Once you get to the top level you’ll be taken to the area where supporters will congregate and order food on match day before kick-off and at half-time.  The new Main Stand is beautiful so just soak it all in!  There are plenty of photo opportunities here and there is also much to listen to on the self-guided device.  Next you’ll be taken to the upper level of the Main Stand where you’ll have a view of the entire pitch and even a view of parts of the city!

If it’s busy during your tour then you’ll only have about 10 minutes to in the upper level of the Main Stand so make sure to get your photos like the one I have above!  The Anfield staff will start ushering you to go downstairs next (or take the elevator) to the lower level of the Main Stand.  You’ll come across the area where the families and close friends of the players will eat and hang out prior to the match.  All of the seats have the names of legends on the back and apparently the numbers are the amount of international caps each player has had for their national country.  Go figure!  In the photo below I’m actually sitting in Ian Rush’s seat.

My favorite part of the tour is next with the press room and the player’s changing room.  The changing room looks very swanky and it’s a must-see.  Check out my notes further down on this blog post as to when to book the tour as there are certain days when the changing room is unavailable.

After you visit the press room and players changing rooms you’ll finally get to walk out on the pitch.  Of course you’ll have to touch the famous This is Anfield sign first.

Once you get out to the pitch you’ll have plenty of more photo opportunities.  You can stand at the bottom of the Main Stand and take photos of the Kop, the King Kenny Stand, and Anfield Road.  Then you will walk over to the Kop and take photos of the King Kenny Stand, Anfield Road, and the new Main Stand.  Once you actually stand in the Kop you’ll be able to see how gigantic the new Main stand is!

The Anfield Museum

You’ll end the Stadium Tour with a visit to the Anfield Museum which is included in the price.  At the minimum I recommend planning an hour to visit the stadium and an hour to visit the museum.  If you are the type of person who enjoys reading and listening to all available information then I would plan for an extra half hour for both the stadium tour and the museum visit.  The museum includes the Steven Gerrard collection and information about all of the Liverpool legends and the history of the club.  It’s a must-see so plan to make sure you have enough time to visit the museum!

The Shankly Statue

All stadium tours used to start at the Shankly Statue but ever since the new Main Stand was complete Liverpool changed this. The Shankly Statue actually isn’t included in the tour at all but you’ll have the chance to visit the statue before or after your tour starts.  The statue is located just outside of the Kop and close to where the entrance is for the Anfield Stadium Tours.  You can also visit the statue on match day but keep in mind that it will be crowded.

How To Book The Tour

One of the options is to book an experience (which includes a tour) with a legend.  I booked a tour with a legend a few years ago but the new experiences seem to be different.  My tour was with Phil Neal and you can check out my photos below.
Phil was an awesome tour guide and I highly recommend booking with him.  He’s Liverpool’s most decorated player and has lots of stories to tell.  He came across as very humble during the tour and answered any questions that our group had.  If you look at the LFC website you’ll see other Anfield Experiences include legends such as Steve McMahon, Alan Kennedy, Mark Wright, Bruce Grobbelaar, and John Aldridge.  I have met Alan Kennedy (at an Anfield pub after the game) but I haven’t met any of the others.  Kennedy is fantastic and I’m sure the others would do a great job with the Anfield Experience.  According to the website, the new Legends Experience includes a 3 course meal in the Main Stand Hospitality Lounges overlooking the pitch.  It also includes an autograph and a takeaway gift.
There might be discounts available to you when you book the tour.  For instance, senior citizens can receive a discount and there is a place for promotion codes in the booking website.  I have never seen or used any promo codes but I guess they are out there somewhere!

When To Book The Tour

I recommend booking the tour on a weekday and on match day or the day before the match.  There are special match day tours but they don’t allow access to the Home or Away Team dressing rooms or the Press Room.  These areas will be closed in order to prepare for the game and as you can see from my photos below it’s certainly worth visiting the changing room (I know that Emre Can no longer plays for us but I wanted to share the photo as an example).

If you are only in Liverpool for a limited amount of time then I would book the tour whenever you are able to, but if you have a few extra days then I highly recommend booking at least 2 days prior to match day or the following few days after the match.  I also recommend booking on a week day and in the morning as the stadium is usually quieter during this time.  I always prefer to book tours when it’s as quiet as possible and to capture photos with less people!

What To Do Before And After The Anfield Stadium Tour

Whenever I have booked the stadium tour I have always factored in time to visit the Retail Shop located at Anfield.  I recommend avoiding the shop on match day as it’s jam packed and the lines are long.  There are also two official Liverpool FC shops located in the city center.

There is a fantastic restaurant at Anfield called The Boot Room.  I’ve eaten here about 4 times and every meal I’ve had is great.  It’s a football themed restaurant and if you are able to book a table on an away match day you can watch here with your own TV at your table.

How To Get To The Stadium

Most people visiting Liverpool will stay in the city centre.  This is where I’ve always stayed as there isn’t much in the Anfield neighborhood and I only ever go to Anfield for stadium tours, match days, and to eat at the Boot Room.  Most traveling Liverpool supporters will stay in the city centre as it’s close to restaurants and the main sights in the city.  I’ve actually written an entire blog post which is dedicated to where to stay in the city and how to book accommodation.  You can check that out here.

If you do stay in the Anfield neighborhood then of course you can walk to the stadium.  If you are staying in the center or anywhere else in the city there are several options.  You can ask your hotel to call a taxi or find one in the city.  You can also book an Uber which is my preferred method of transport in Liverpool.  Unfortunately, there is not a train that will take you to Anfield from anywhere in the city.

If you want a cheaper option than a taxi or Uber, you can you book the LFC City Explorer Bus which will take you directly from two locations in the city centre to the stadium.  The bus is 8 pounds and runs several times per day.  There is also the local city bus that will take you from the city center to Anfield.

There isn’t any parking available to Anfield visitors and all of the street parking belongs to residents.  I do not recommend renting a car and driving to Anfield as you just won’t find a place to park.

Final Thoughts

The stadium tour is a must-do if you plan to visit Liverpool!   The stadium tour has evolved over the years and it probably will continue to do so.  I will regularly update this blog post with any future changes.  Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions and check out my other blog posts for more Liverpool travel tips.

P.s. the photo below is a really bad one of me but I wanted to share it as it’s one from the old changing room in 2015!

The New Bill Shankly Football Tours in Liverpool

A Review of the Bill Shankly Bespoke Tour in Liverpool

Let me start out by admitting how much I absolutely love this tour!  If you are a Liverpool supporter and you are traveling to the city for a match at Anfield then this is a must-do!  I’ve been a LFC supporter since 2000 and although I thought I knew a lot about our club’s history and the history and culture of the city of Liverpool, I realized that there was so much more to learn.  This tour gave me so much insight into the life of Bill Shankly, our beloved club’s history, and the music and football culture of the city.

The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool

If you are traveling soon to Liverpool then you should check out the Shankly Hotel in the city center and these new tours that they offer.   The hotel was founded, and is managed, by the grandchildren and family of the legendary Bill Shankly.  Bill Shankly, of course, being the manager responsible for transforming Liverpool into the team that dominated English and European football for decades.  The images above and below are photos I actually captured from the hotel and you can check out a review from my stay at the Shankly Hotel here.

A few months back I connected with Ashley from  Shankly Tours and she was kind enough to offer me a sneak-peak of one of their brand new experiences.  Shankly Tours offers several different experiences including: Match Day Tours; Liverpool Football Themed Tours; Beatles Tours; Liverpool City Center Walking Tour; and a Shankly Memorabilia Tour.  The Shankly Team also provides combinations of these tours and customized tours where you can tell them what you would like to see. I went on a combination of the tours, which I will tell you about in this blog post.

My bespoke tour with Shankly Family Tours included the Anfield Stadium Tour, Beatles Tour and a Shankly Memorabilia Tour at the Hotel.  At this point I was I was really excited as I had been lucky enough to travel to Liverpool over 10 times, but I had never had the chance to take a Beatles Tour and the Shankly Memorabilia portion of the tour was brand new!  There were also plenty of new developments with the Anfield Stadium Tour at that time so I was excited to see some of that as well.

Anfield Stadium Tour

I started the day by meeting up with Ashley at the Shankly statue outside of Anfield. She was just as lovely as I had imagined from our correspondence!  Ashley handed me my tickets for the Anfield Stadium Tour and I spent the next hour on a guided tour throughout the stadium.  The stadium tour includes a walkthrough of the Main Stand, the new club seat section, the press room, the players’ changing room, Klopp’s seat in the stadium, the pitch and the Kop stand. Even if you are a local from Liverpool I highly recommend booking a stadium tour and checking out everything behind the scenes in the Main Stand.  Liverpool really did a fantastic job having this new stand built and it’s magnificent to see in person.  Check out some of my photos below.

Anfield Museum

If you book the Anfield Stadium Tour you will also have the chance to visit the Anfield Museum and Steven Gerrard Collection (my photos below are from this collection in the museum), which is included in your ticket.  I recommend setting aside two hours at Anfield as you might spend quite a bit of time in the museum which provides an audio guide walkthrough of much of the history of the club including previous players and of course an entire section dedicated to our beloved former captain, Steven Gerrard.  I have to admit I got emotional looking at all of the memorabilia from Gerrard’s career!  Once you’re done with the museum you can either set off on the Beatles Tour or you can eat lunch at the Boot Room, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Liverpool and is right there at Anfield.  Make sure to reserve a table as they often book up fast.

Liverpool Beatles Tour

After I was done with the stadium tour Ashley met me outside of the ground and took me to the Shankly Family Tours car. She introduced me to Margie who was my tour guide for the Beatles portion of the tour. What’s so great about Margie is that not only is she a Beatles expert but she is also is a huge Liverpool supporter. During the tour we spent about half of our time talking about the Beatles and the other half talking about Liverpool!  We joked about how we wished the Beatles were all Liverpool supporters. She even showed me the areas where some of the current LFC players live as we passed by while driving around the city.  If you’re going to book this Bespoke Tour I highly recommend requesting Margie as she was so much fun and very knowledgeable both about the Beatles and football.

I should also mention that before we embarked on our journey around the city to famous Beatles landmarks, Margie offered to take me to Melwood and Shankly’s former home as this is something that is included in the tour.  I decided to pass up on this as I have been to Melwood a few times and I’m already familiar with what it looks like.  You can’t actually go inside Melwood as it’s blocked off with a gate and security. However, it’s worth going there to see what it looks like from the outside.  I’ve spent quite a few days outside of the training ground waiting for the team to come out and I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few of them including Klopp.  Although the club now has a policy that tries to stop such meetings from happening at the Melwood gates, so you may be disappointed if you go to try and meet the players.  For this tour I do recommend a trip to Melwood as it’s worth seeing the training ground.

During the Beatles portion of the tour, Margie took us to John Lennon’s, Ringo Starr’s and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes. We also visited Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the grave of Eleanor Rigby, the new Beatles Statues at the seafront, the Cavern Club in the city center, and more.  We were able to get out at all of these spots in the city center and suburbs in order to take photos.

Bill Shankly Memorabilia Tour

Once we finished the amazing Beatles Tour, Margie dropped us off at the Shankly Hotel for the Shankly Memorabilia Tour.  This is where I was able to meet Bill Shankly’s granddaughter (photo of her below) who provided a deeply personal insight into the life of the great man.

She took me around the beautiful displays in the hotel providing a detailed overview of the huge collection of memorabilia that the Shankly family had lovingly saved from his days as a professional football player and as the mighty manager of Liverpool.  It really was unbelievable to see the items his family have preserved over the years.  A few of the items on display were Shankly’s international football shirts from his days of playing for Scotland, his Preston North End shirts from playing professional football, his medals as a manager, the sword Kevin Keegan gave to Bill Shankly as a present, the original key to the Shankly gates at Anfield and letters penned by Shankly to fans during his managerial career. I even got to see the scarf that was famously thrown at Shankly’s feet as he took in the adulation from a swaying and soaring Kop.

Shankly Hotel Bastion Bar & Restaurant

The tour concluded with dinner at the Bastion Bar & Restaurant at the Shankly Hotel and a Virtual Reality Shankly Experience.  I actually wasn’t sure what to expect of the virtual reality experience but I ended up really enjoying it! I even have a few photos from the VR experience, which show me sitting with a virtual version of Bill Shankly! The hotel staff were kind enough to email them to me after the tour.

Overall the experience was absolutely fantastic and if you are looking for a way to spend a day exploring the history, music and football culture in the city of Liverpool then this is the tour you should book!

Lastly, you never know who you will bump into when you visit the Shankly Hotel.  As you can see below I got to meet Jamie Carragher just as I was finishing the Shankly Memorabilia Tour at the hotel.

Let me know what you think in the comments and if you plan to book a Shankly Tour during your next trip to Liverpool!




	
Want more travel inspiration?

Enter your email and sign up for all of my best travel advice and updates from 6+ years of constant travel.