Friday, December 17, 2010

WIN a €600 Mystery trip for 2 to Europe

There are just 3 days left to enter the competition to win a €600 Mystery trip for 2 to Europe!!!! Imagine how nice it would be to be jetting off to a secret destination in 2011!  Entering is quick and easy, simply log on to the Mysterytrips Facebook Fan-page for details!  Best of Luck! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top Travel Gift Ideas

With Christmas just around the corner it is time to think put your own wish list down for a moment and think gifts (to give).  If you happen to have a travel-loving loved one to buy for then you have come to the right place!  I have put together a list of my top ten travel gift ideas.  They may not be the most practical of all travel accessories, but who wants to wake up on Christmas morning to find an international plug adaptor or an emergency mobile phone charger under the tree?  Here are my top ten travel gift ideas-some purposeful, some fun, some stylish, some silly, but most important of all...welcome under the tree!  

Passport Covers 
Practical and stylish, passport covers make perfect accessories for the frequent flyer.  There are heaps of styles and variations available at really reasonable prices.  Check out our recent post on Passport covers for our top picks for passport covers.  We have selected our top picks for boys and girls, and all come in under €15!  

Mystery Trip
If you want to give a truly unique and memorable gift this year, why not give the gift of a Mystery trip!  This is the gift card that retains the element of surprise even after it has been opened!  Your loved one will not find out where they are headed until the day of departure when they arrive to the airport!  All trips are tailored with the particular customer in mind, so you can be assured that they will have a thoroughly enjoyable experience!  This is the perfect gift for a special occasion or to show someone how much you care.  Gift cards are available online from 

Send your loved one packing in style! Check out some of our recent top picks lovely luggage, including the fab bags below!  

Luggage Tags
Make sure they don't lose their lovely new bags with a nice luggage tag that will last long after the airline paper ones do. 

These two tags are available from Cath Kidston

Harlex on Etsy will personalise your tag for you on real hand stitched leather

A Good Book 
You can't beat a good book, especially when you have hours of spare time lounging on the beach, swinging in a hammock or simply just in transit.  If your travel-loving family member or friend has a trip planned then try to get them a book set in or about the destination they are going to.  It will not only entertain them, but also heighten their experience while abroad and let them l arn more about the history and culture of the location they are in. 

Travel Pillows
One  major downside to travelling is the long hours you need to spend in the same tight seat.  Whether it is a bus/train/plane or boat a travel cushion will help your loved one to get comfy and relax as they make their way around the world.  

This cheerful cushion is from Mini Travel Mattters

The Travel Buddy is a good option for the boys 

This elephant cushion from Lilly's shop makes a sweet neck pillow for kids

Sleep Masks
Now you have made them comfy with a travel pillow why not help them to catch some undisturbed sleep as they travel.  Sleep masks are a good way of shutting out the workd and letting everyone know you do not want to be disturbed! 
They are great for simulating nigh-time so also come in handy when trying to shake off jet lag. 

BigBen has over 100 eye masks for sale, something for everyone!  

This cheeky mask from Urban outfitters may not be for everyone, but pretty effective if you don't want to be disturbed....

Glasses Case
Whether it is a selection of stylish shades or a practical spare pair of specs, many people carry more than one pair of glasses with them when they travel. Help them to stay stylish, or sighted, with a glasses case gift.  

These two pretty cases are from Cath Kidston 

I love the old-style fastener on these lovely cases, all available from Kailochic 

Slightly unusual but a very well received gift by tourists!  Have you ever been sightseeing for the day and can't quite understand why your legs ache so badly!  With a pedometer you can track how far you have walked during the day!  Your friend will be surprised at how many miles they clock up!  This also make s a really good gift for people who are into trekking or trail tourism.....the Inka trail won't seem so tough when they can see how far they are actually going!  Argos have a number of different options starting as low as €4.50!

Send them trotting in the correct footwear! Whether it is flipflops, snowboots, hiking boots, sailing shoes.........

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Picks Passport Covers

Passport covers are a great accessories for all types of tourist.  They are practical, make great conversation pieces and come in all sorts of styles and price ranges.  Many people don't have them, but want them, so for that reason they make great gifts or stocking fillers!  If you are looking for one for yourself or to give as a present here are some of my favourite picks that are currently available online.  

For the girls:

Both these gorgeous printed covers are from Hanmadewithjoy and cost €10

For those who love to fly!  Under €10 from Dolliebirdies

These three lovely covers are a steal at under €5 each from Owlsay on Etsy

This 'Passport to Paris' is under €10 by HotPinkLemon, I love it!

Red Riding Hood

The Little Mermaid

& Alice in Wonderland covers from Noel are perfect for little girls or big ones who like fairytales, all under €15

For the Boys!

Bear v Robot cover from  Tinymeat under €15


Both of these are under €10 and are available from 

These four are all under €5 from Supercanetrain808

This vinyl cover is under €5 from Kotibeth, a perfect match for the man who wears flowery shirts!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ireland's Christmas Markets

December has arrived in a blizzard of snow!  It is finally OK to talk about Christmas and for once we here in Ireland aren't!  Distracted by the Winter Wonderland outside we seem to have forgotten that it is just 24 days until Santa arrives!  Today on The Top Tip for Trips Blog I want to refocus our attention on the festive season and one of my favouite aspects of!  

Heading to your nearest big town, city or shopping centre to buy the token gift, stock up on seasonal goodies and soak up the festive buzz is an integral part of Christmas.  But  high street and multi-storey are not the only shopping opportunities available to us.  Although  still  a relatively young trend for Irish shoppers, Christmas markets are popping up around the country and growing in popularity!

Christmas markets have thrived in Europe for centuries, with Germany holding the crown when it comes to the sheer size, quantity, standard and atmosphere atmosphere.  A visit to a German Christmas market is a true Yuletide treat that every enthusiastic shopper  should experience at some time in their lives!  But if time, finance and the snow is against you this December, you can enjoy the Christmas market experience a little closer to home!  With a wide selection of gourmet and speciality foods, hand crafted decorations and accessories, one off art pieces, unique gifts, the personal touch and a whole of of Christmas cheer, it is certainly worth paying a visit to your local Christmas market this year! 

 Below is a list of the larger Christmas markets taking place around Ireland this year!  If I have missed any and you want to add it to the list just let me know :)

12 Days of Christmas' Festival at Dublin Docklands
Open From 12 Dec 10 to 23 Dec 10 

Christmas in Killarney
Open From 25 Nov 10 to 09 Jan 11 

Cork, Christmas on the Grand Parade 
Fridays to Sundays only, Open From 26 Nov 10 to 22 Dec 10

Dublin Fitzwilliam Square Christmas Market
Open From 03 Dec 10 to 23 Dec 10 

Galway Christmas Market
Open From 19 Nov 10 to 19 Dec 10 

Limerick Christmas Market 
Thursdays to Sundays plus 7, 8, 15, 21 & 22 December, Open From 25 Nov 10 to 24 Dec 10

Monday, November 29, 2010

Win a Mystery trip to Europe worth €600!

Christmas is approaching and here at Mysterytrips we feel like Giving!!!!

We have just launched our Facebook Christmas competition to win a fantastic Mysterytrip to Europe for 2 people worth €600!!!!!

It is FREE and EASY to enter.  Simply follow the link below to our Facebook page, suggest it to your friends and post our competition status as your profile status!  Full instructions can be found in the info box on the left hand side of the page!

Mysterytrips Facebook Competition!

Best of Luck to you all!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Curiosity Kills the Cat? Pros and Cons of Wildlife Tourism

The wildlife tourism sector is expanding as more and more people seek to observe wild animals such as the Big Cats in their natural habitats.  This post examines whether this trend reflects a positive shift in the eco-tourism movement or signals a developing case of curiosity killed the cat.    

The desire to get as close as possible to wild animals is born from an  innate human sense of curiosity.  This curiosity generates considerable income each year for zoos, animal parks, sanctuaries and aquariums.   For some people however being close to wild animals is not enough, they want to be close to wild animals in the wild.  Seeking out and observing exotic creatures in their natural habitats is deemed both thrilling and fascinating by these people.  As a consequence speciality tour operators that focus on wildlife adventures or safari have emerged.  From locally based businesses to large international operations,  these companies recognise the pulling power that wildlife holds when it comes to attracting tourist traffic. Using trump card animals as USPs, they market and sell excursions into the wild as a tourist activity.-experience.   

The most popular wildlife experience is the African safari. Around one half of the estimated 12 million trips per annum that make up the global wildlife tourism market are to African safari locations, with South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana being the top destinations.  The lion, the leopard, the African elephant, the rhino and the cape buffalo, otherwise known as 'the big five game', are a huge draw for tourists, although there are of course lots of  other animals of interest such as the cheetah, the hippo, the hyena, the antelope and the giraffe.  

Other popular destinations with wildlife-watchers include the Galapagos islands, Indonesia and Patagonia; each geographical and climatic zone boasting its own array of exotic species.  Australia has a diverse offering that includes marsupials, marine life and poisonous snakes and spiders.  Malaysia is home to the Man of the forest, the Orangutan.  Canada is famous for bears; India for tigers; China for pandas.  And the list goes on.  Where you find wildlife, you find tourists.  

As well as providing enjoyment for millions of people, wildlife-watching tourism has an important educational function.  It informs tourists about the biological make-up of animals and their place and relationship within their particular eco-system.  Crucially,  wildlife tourism helps to raises awareness of the many pressing social and environmental issues that threaten the world's wildlife population, for example climate change, pollution,  poaching, land conversion and deforestation.  Increased awareness helps to generate financial support for conservation and protection schemes, many of which also receive contributory funding from the tour operators themselves.  Due to this positive focus on conservation wildlife tourism is often considered a form of eco-tourism.  

The industry brings with it further positives.  It provides a significant source of income and employment for a growing number of local communities, particularly those in developing countries such as the African nations that struggle to generate economic growth.  Wildlife tours stimulate secondary commercial activity resulting in a knock on effect to local economies.  Infrastructure is often put in place solely to accommodate tourist traffic, however in many cases its implementation is as equally beneficial to residents as it is to visitors.  All of this helps to improve the standard of living and quality of life experienced by local people.   

As interest in wildlife continues to grow, particularly due to its exposure in international media, so too does the demand for wildlife excursion packages.   In order to meet this demand more and more suppliers are entering the market and as a result the wildlife tourism industry continues to expand.  But how sustainable is this growth?  And is wildlife tourism as eco and animal friendly as it appears at first glance?  

As the industry grows, large-scale international companies threaten the presence of local tour suppliers in the market.  The freezing out or suppression of these businesses is likely to result in a Western-owned industry for Westerners, a situation that, as is the case with other similarly structured industries, can be conducive to the exploitation of workers and local resources.  

Already the environment is suffering as a consequence of wildlife tourism.  The demand for wildlife packages has created a boom in hotel and resort construction, particularly on rainforest or mangrove forest lands.  This development contributes to deforestation and serves to narrow the expanse of natural habitat available to animals.  

Directly affecting animals and their habitat is the issue of disturbance.  Wildlife viewing can disrupt feeding or nesting sites, disturb breeding patterns or scare away animals.  In Kenya, for example, tourist presence drives cheetahs off their reserves, increasing the risk of inbreeding and thus further endangering the species. For other animals disturbance can have the opposite, but equally as damaging affect; they acclimate to the presence of humans, making them more vulnerable to poachers and more likely to enter human settlements.  Animals that are distracted by the presence of tourists are made more vulnerable to their predators.  For some animals, for example Canada's harp seals, disturbance has also been found to cause a decline in the attendance of adults to their young.  

According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) / Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), such adverse effects can be avoided or minimised, providing that sufficient resources and funds are available for effective management, and that tourism development is subject to proper planning controls and limits. For example  'limiting visitor numbers and accompanying visitor groups with trained guides helps to minimise the direct disturbance of wildlife; and walkways can be installed to reduce habitat damage from trampling by visitors in heavily visited areas. Tourism facilities can be planned so that they are situated well away from sensitive areas for wildlife, and overall development kept within clear limits that are established to prevent unacceptable impacts.'

Limits such as these need to be sought after by tourists, not just expected.    Consumer power dictates the tourist industry; if tourists want real conservation then that is what they will get.  But it is up to the individual to insist on this.  When planning your wildlife-watching trip it is important to thoroughly research the tour company you intend to use.  If their operation is motivated by conservation and managed in a way that acts in the best interest of the animals, and indeed of the local community, then you -and the future of the animals-are in good hands. 

Wildlife tourism certainly has its negatives.  However if wildlife-watching is managed in a way that is compatible to the conservation of wild animals then sustainable growth of the industry is viable. While curiosity continues to drive demand, it does not altogether threaten to kill the cat.  

This article was published in the Trinity News November 2010.  

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