What You Need to Know About Shipping Internationally

When you spend a lot of time travelling overseas, there are going to be many occasions that you’re likely to miss when it comes to your friends and family. It can feel a little isolating knowing that things are going on without you being able to be there, particularly if you find yourself somewhere for longer than you intended, due to the pandemic. However, postal services mean that you can still be a small part of somebody’s day by sending them a gift from wherever you are. Unlike local delivery, which is reasonably straightforward, international delivery can add some very specific complications. Here are some of the things you need to know about shipping internationally.

What is different about International Shipping?

Your gifts can reach people when you can't
Your gifts can reach people when you can’t (PC: Gabby K)

Overseas shipping requires a lot more thought than local shipping. The biggest example would be having to consider the price of postage depending on the location, secondary only to learning about what can and can’t be legally sent to various locations. If you send specific items that don’t comply with the local customs regulations, they will very likely be held up at customs. If you’re sending a gift to somebody, the last thing they’re going to want is to pay a customs charge for something that was sent to them. However, this shouldn’t put you off shipping items to friends and family overseas. Shipping internationally doesn’t need to be challenging. Nevertheless, plan ahead and make sure you’re up to date on the basics to make this beneficial service cost-effective to your business.

Learn What You Can & Cannot Send Internationally

What goes on behind the scenes when you transport via ship (PC: Julius Silver)

You cannot ship everything to every country for the same price. For example, if you’re sending gifts from the USA to family in the UK, the items will have to travel thousands of miles to reach the correct destination. There will also be some legal requirements for things that can’t be sent internationally. For example, some food items and weapons are illegal to transport. Each country comes with its own laws, and this will include different customs laws around what is and what is not accepted through the post. If these are not complied with, the products will get held up at customs. In the UK, products such as pesticides, matches and foreign lottery tickets cannot be legally shipped. Other products like fragrances and aerosols cannot be shipped abroad. So this is worth considering when it comes to choosing which gifts to send.

The Costs of International Shipping

It is not always possible to put a price on the worth of a gift.
It is not always possible to put a price on the worth of a gift. (PC: monicore)

In addition to the location, other factors of shipping costs should be considered. These are:

  • The size and weight of the package
  • How it is being sent (class, courier, recorded delivery, etc.)
  • How it needs to be packaged (e.g. polystyrene for delicate products v/s envelopes for clothing)

When shipping abroad, it’s always best to shop around for accurate quotes to get the best deals. There are other factors to think about too such as taxes and customs clearance fees. Using mail fulfilment services can help you avoid complications by going with a brand you can trust.

Have you ever shipped anything internationally?

Do you enjoy receiving packages from abroad?

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Photo Editing Hacks to Scale Your Influence as a Property Reviewer, Realtor or Travel Blogger

It is often the case that a place you have seen with the naked eye doesn’t quite appear that way in a photograph. If you are in the business of reviewing properties, dealing with real estate or even travel blogging, you will know the importance of editing pictures before they go live on your website or social media pages. It is a commonly known fact that pictures attract more eyeballs than written content. If you are new to photo editing or find it overwhelming to do anything beyond simple edits, this article is for you! Grow your credibility as a realtor, travel influencer or property reviewer with these simple yet effective methods.

Master the Art of Composing Pictures

Residency Lake Resort in Mulshi
Residency Lake Resort in Mulshi (after the edits)

Photo editing begins much before you actually sit with an editing app. You must begin with a view in your head before you click any photo because cropping cannot always give you what you’d like. Don’t be like those photographers who take hundreds of shots of the same scene without even knowing what they want. Photo composition begins with a vision. Aim to align together all the important elements that you want to capture in a shot. Even if you are not familiar with the ‘golden ratios’ and the ‘rule of the thirds’ when it comes to composing a picture, you will be able to tell the difference between something that looks well put together and a shot that is random or without a purpose.

Don’t Shy Away from Retouching

Upper Deck Resort in Lonavala (after the edits)
Upper Deck Resort in Lonavala (after the edits)

Retouchers are some of the most sought after people after photographers when it comes to professional shoots. Basic photo editing can only get you so far. If you wish to highlight some elements of a property while downplaying some others, you will either have to invest in a good retouching specialist or learn the ropes yourself. It is a misconception that retouching is only for fashion magazines to make models look younger and slimmer. Even dated buildings can look like swanky mansions when you play the retouching card right.

Pay Attention to the Lighting

It is for photo editing novices to make everything look bright. Sometimes, dimming the light sets the mood and hits the right notes with your clients when you are aiming for closed deals or more juice from your affiliate links. Move on from daylight setups and experiment with twilight or artificial light sources such as candles. If you are lucky to have enough natural light, take your pictures then. But remember that ambient lighting appears much better than sun-scorched walls. Sometimes, even a well-composed night shot will do the trick.

Use a Professional Photo Editing Service

A professionally retouched photo by Phixer

Photo editing is no joke, and you will come around to this conclusion only once you get your hands dirty. If you struggle with the concepts of aestheticism and would rather concentrate on your primary work (of writing about, critiquing or selling properties), leave the job of photo retouching to the experts. Sign up with Phixer – the #1 real estate photo editing company in the USA. With a TAT of just 12 hours, their team of 800+ professional photo editors help you transform the exteriors and interiors of any type of property. Apart from simple photo enhancement and retouching, Phixer lets you add or remove objects from the scene through virtual staging and renovation. Sign up with them to get 3 free real estate photo or video editing projects!

Take Videos Where Photos Can’t Do Justice

Room interiors are better shown through videos
Room interiors are better shown through videos

If you still haven’t jumped on the video bandwagon, perhaps you should do it now. Viewers and buyers trust videos more than still images when making their final decision of a booking or a purchase. Even as a facilitator, you will be able to show your property more comprehensively when you do a video tour. If you are shy to upload those amateur videos, trust Phixer’s professional video editing service to make them look like 4K Hollywood-style movies. Now, do more with your photos and videos – enhance how you and your brand are perceived!

Do you use any photo editor to transform your clicks?

Wish to share any other photo editing hack?

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3 Essential Items for Travelling Around America

A successful trip is often reliant on the items you include in your backpack. I personally prefer to pack at least a day in advance so I have sufficient time to get in all the essential things I might need on my journey. There are numerous horror stories of people who suffer awkward moments while travelling due to the lack of simple yet basic stuff.

Crater Lake in Oregon National Park, USA
Crater Lake in Oregon National Park, USA

Depending on the region you plan on visiting, certain items will come in handy during your trip. Always remember that the same packing checklist may not work for every weather or locale. You must revisit the list and tweak it for each new outing that you plan. Here are the three most essential items for travelling around America:

#1 Clothing

Weather patterns around the USA tend to reach both hot and cold extremes depending on the prevailing season. If you have a detailed itinerary of the locations you’ll most likely visit, checking the weather forecast to know the climate patterns will help you choose appropriate clothing. For example, if you plan on going up North where it is usually cold, carrying a light top and some cute shorts will make no sense. Instead, choose a variety of clothes suitable for different occasions. When in the right clothing, you are more comfortable, and travel is more enjoyable. Maximize on your packing space through the following hacks:

Use Packing Cubes

Cubes ensure you pack minimally and pick only the essential items for the trip. It is anyway wiser to travel light. They come in a variety of sizes, so you are free to select ones that best match your needs. If some clothes don’t fit, consider leaving them out.

Roll the Clothes

Whether you are using packing cubes or just a plain old suitcase, rolling your clothes leaves enough room for extra items. Another reason why rolling is better than folding your stuff – they do not wrinkle. That means, no fretting over creased clothes and no need to carry an iron box.

Don the Bulky Clothes

Some clothes often take up large spaces in your bag. That is why wearing such clothes, especially when they are in line with the weather of the destination, allows for more room. Heading out to ski? Wear the jacket and scarf instead of stuffing those into your overpacked bag.

#2 Accessories

Holidays are all about feeling good and looking even better. Accessories complement our style and hence, bring out the best look. An accessory can be footwear, jewellery, a handbag or a belt. When crossing different states in the USA, you notice a change in fashion trends. Thus, what is suitable in New York may be old in Miami. Be a step ahead of the fashion fad by incorporating different sets of accessories for each look. For example, you can pick a frame from Eyeglasses.com to match your shoes or clothes. Tips for accessorizing include opting for a signature accessory or choosing one with a striking colour or pattern. Remember, the best accessories back up your style and do not dominate the entire look.

#3 Toiletries

Toiletries refer to items that are essential for your comfort and survival during a trip. Items like sunscreen, shampoo, soap, and insect repellent are valid examples. Although small, the components prove valuable when touring regions with diverse climatic conditions. For example, in hot, humid areas, sunscreen helps protect your skin. While most toiletries are prone to leakage and can be tricky to handle while on a trip, you should always ensure you have the essentials. At the very least, pack your toiletries inside a plastic bag to prevent spillage.

Final Thoughts

Travelling is therapeutic. However, the experience can turn sour once you realize you’re missing essential items and can’t easily access them. Have a checklist for the items you intend on carrying to avoid forgetting some. Essential items like clothing, accessories and toiletries should make it to the top of your list.

Do you keep a checklist before packing for a trip?

What item do you never miss to pack for a holiday?

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Top 5 “Love” Destinations in India for The Perfect Valentine Trip

Valentine’s Day is regarded by many as the day of love and endearment. Some couples also vow to renew their promise of togetherness. Dreaming of wooing your Valentine with the most romantic gift ever? Well, the best Valentine’s Day present you can give is the gift of quality time together. Nothing is more romantic than getting away from your monotonous life for a while and being with your special someone so you can express your feelings without any distractions. Plan a trip to one of the most romantic places for Valentine’s Day and rejoice in each other’s company as you nurture your relationship.

Date scene by a secluded sandbank
Date scene by a secluded sandbank

Celebrate your love at one of these romantic destinations in India that truly bring love in the air. Take your Valentine to a long romantic drive to one of India’s best destinations for Valentine’s Day. If you’re travelling by train to your dream Valentine destination in India, you can also check PNR status online and get waitlist PNR prediction to stay updated with your train ticket status. Consider some of the best tourist places for couples to make your Valentine thrilled to bits while you strengthen your bond. Presenting 5 romantic places to visit in India:

#1 Udaipur

Lake Fatehsagar in Udaipur: for dates that go beyond the ordinary
Lake Fatehsagar in Udaipur: for dates that go beyond the ordinary

Dazzling yet calm lakes, picturesque hills and lively markets lend to the magic of this regal city. A stay at The Leela Palace or The Oberoi Udaivilas will make your romantic vacation surreal. The intricate architectural elements throughout the city are flattering, and nature only adds to the abundance of natural beauty in Udaipur. Relish a quiet boat ride on Lake Pichola in the ‘Venice of the East’. Visit the homes of the royals of Mewar, intriguing museums and the majestic complex of Udaipur City Palace. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a candlelight dinner and experience ‘royal’ treatment at one of the lake-facing restaurants by its banks.

#2 Gulmarg

It's hard not to love the snow in Gulmarg
It’s hard not to love the snow in Gulmarg

Nestled in the Peer Panjal Range of the Himalayas, Gulmarg wears the aroma of Jammu & Kashmir. It offers a great chance to spend those lovely moments together, enjoying this ski town’s scenic beauty. Gulmarg is one of the top places to visit on Valentine’s Day since it’s surrounded by snow-clad mountains, steep ravines, forested valleys and meadows sprinkled with flowers. Do not miss Gulmarg’s gondola ride, trekking in the woods, and snowboarding and skiing on powdery white slopes in the winter. One of the best Valentine’s destinations, all the memories here will last forever.

#3 Havelock Island (Andaman Islands)

Stroll through the pristine beaches of Havelock Island
Stroll through the pristine beaches of Havelock Island (PC: Bishnu Sarangi)

Havelock Island is among the most romantic places to go during Valentine’s week. The sandy beaches, turquoise waters, you and your love are enough to celebrate this special day here. There are many resorts that cater to couples. For instance, Silver Sand Beach Resort will genuinely help you experience the true offerings of Havelock such as exploring the corals through scuba diving or snorkelling. Enjoy the serenity of The Andaman’s – one of the most peaceful places to go for Valentine’s Day. The ideal way to do this is to grab a drink, lie together on the beach, and spend that much-needed time together!

#4 Darjeeling

Revive the romance in your relationship in the tea gardens of Darjeeling
Revive the romance in your relationship in the tea gardens of Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a beautiful hill station in India – one like no other. Whether you consider the crisp mountain air or the tranquil tea gardens, every part of this town begs you to live it up with your Valentine. Its chocolate hills, winding roads and toy-train rides make it a dreamlike place to spend a few days with your loved one. Have a cup of Darjeeling tea with your beloved and gorge on momos together. Walk through some tea plantations such as the lush Marybong Tea Estate, and take in the pleasing aroma of the tea leaves.

#5 Goa

Vagator, one of many beaches that define the susegad life in Goa
Vagator, one of many beaches that define the susegad life in Goa (PC: Dominik Hundhammer)

It’s impossible to skip Goa when talking about love destinations in the country! Skip the crowds when you stay in South Goa’s adorable beach shacks to experience isolation in bliss. Looking to explore Goa’s nightlife instead? Places in and around Panjim and the beaches of North Goa won’t disappoint. Venture away from the coastline to savour Portuguese tradition and culture. A hike through the thickets around Mandovi River and Dudhsagar Falls is perfect for adventure lovers, not to forget dolphin cruises and parasailing in Goa. One of the top choices for Valentine’s Day, Goa lures couples with its stunning beaches, magnificent sunsets and the sound of soothing waves crashing against the shore.

Order a Cake on the Train: A Love-Filled Surprise-on-Rails for your Loved Ones

Valentine's Day Journey: Exotic flavoured cakes to order in the train

Cake, a celebratory treat, is one of the best ways to express your love. The Valentine’s Day merriment is incomplete without a cake. Now, if you’re travelling via train with your significant other, and want to order cake in the train, just visit RailRestro’s website on your mobile phone or download their Android or iOS app. Ring in this Valentine’s Day by ordering cake or food in train. RailRestro has a bunch of cake flavours that you can order in the train, including:

  1. Black Forest Exotic Cake: This black forest cake will bring instant cheer to your beloved and make her/him smile ear to ear.
  2. Chocolate Truffle Cake: Chocolate is the most loved gift on Valentine’s Day. This decadent chocolate truffle cake is delicious enough to make your Valentine overjoyed.
  3. Strawberry Crush Cake: The bold red colour of this strawberry cake beautifully complements the Valentine’s Day theme.
  4. Eggless Pineapple Cake: Soak in the fruity flavour of pineapple and set aside all guilt as you dig into this eggless cake in the train and uphold the celebratory mood of the day of love.

How are you planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2021?

Got some more romantic destinations in mind?

Let me know through your comments below.

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Offbeat Indonesia: 5 Destinations to Escape the Tourist Trap

If I had a dime for every time somebody thought Indonesia was all about Bali, I’d be a billionaire. Straddling between two oceans, this Asian archipelago is made of more than 17,000 islands! Still, most of us can’t seem to move on from Bali. If you are the type of traveller who likes to trod on paths less travelled, here are some breathtaking parts of Indonesia that go way beyond the beaches that flood your Instagram feed:

#1 Tanjung Puting National Park

Sekonyer River in Tanjung Puting National Park (courtesy: Thomas Fuhrmann)
Sekonyer River in Tanjung Puting National Park (courtesy: Thomas Fuhrmann)

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to appreciate nature. As Indonesia reopens tourism, take a look at its indigenous flora and fauna. The Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Borneo is a fantastic choice for ecotourism, popular for its orangutan conservation endeavour. Go on an indulgent multi-day cruise along the Kumai and Sekonyer rivers, admiring the enchanting forest which is home to Bornean butterflies, clouded leopards, hornbills and monitor lizards, among several other creatures.

#2 Kei Islands

Kei Islands (courtesy: Visit Kei Islands)
Kei Islands (courtesy: Visit Kei Islands)

Wish to get lost in a remote tropical island? Welcome to Kei Islands! Tucked away in the Indonesian province of Maluku, Kei Islands are a group of 47 islands. The lagoons are rich in corals, giving the waters that distinct turquoise glow. While the islands are full of simple villages, white sand beaches or volcanic mountains, the real treasure is underwater. Go on a diving trip to see soft corals and other marine life such as wrasses, rays, sea snakes and sea horses.

#3 Yogyakarta

Taman Sari (Water Castle) in Yogyakarta (courtesy: ginomempin)
Taman Sari (Water Castle) in Yogyakarta (courtesy: ginomempin)

The Javanese city of Yogyakarta may be known to you, but did you know that there’s more to this place than ancient temples? Often hailed as the epicentre of culture, Yogyakarta is a paradise for art enthusiasts and shopaholics. Pick up bags and dresses with elegant batik print fabrics, ethnic Javanese masks and silverware as souvenirs for your friends back home. For deeper insights into Indonesian heritage, stroll through Yogyakarta’s palace complex or browse through museums that dot the city.

#4 Aceh

Laut Lampuuk in Banda Aceh (courtesy: Saiful Mulia)
Laut Lampuuk in Banda Aceh (courtesy: Saiful Mulia)

A place safely off the tourist radar, Aceh may come off as quite conservative. However, this ensures a crowd-free travel experience when you visit its eponymous river, the capital city of Banda Aceh or its beautiful beaches and lakes. The terrain of this Sumatra province varies greatly, from hilly regions to sandy beaches to freshwater lakes to dense forests – a delightful experience for those who wish to do a lot in a limited period of time.

#5 Sulawesi

Sulawesi (courtesy: Fabio Achilli)
Sulawesi (courtesy: Fabio Achilli)

Rich in biodiversity, the giant island of Sulawesi offers a lot to the modern explorer. Swim in its transparent waters by the beaches, visit its marine parks and terrestrial national parks, or be mesmerized by the volcanic Mount Tongkoko. Nature’s exquisite beauty is manifested through its native trees such as the rainbow eucalyptus, animals like the tarsier, and colourful birds like lorikeets.

While Bali may still be your dream destination, you can extend your Indonesia trip by adding these lesser-known gems to your itinerary. Book your next Indonesian adventure through Thomas Cook and unravel its best-kept secrets.

Got more offbeat Indonesian destinations that I can add to my bucket list?

Is Indonesia on your travel radar yet?

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