Culture Shock: What Is It and How Can You Get Over It?

When you travel, you’re more likely to get culture shock. If you’re unsure of what culture shock is but you want to be prepared for it before you head off to pastures new, this guide can help you. Here, we’re going to look at what culture shock is and how you can get over it.

 

What Is Culture Shock?

Culture shock is where you are thrown out of your daily routine, and into a place with a brand new culture and different attitudes. Things are no longer familiar; gestures, tone of voice, how we wait in lines, how people interact, etc. These things rely on collectively understood cultural cues – they are the norm for us and we don’t really pay attention to them. We are hyper aware of things that are different in other countries because they are so different from our norm. You may not have literal shock, but you may feel disorientated and struggle to process the changes. However, there are usually a few stages to culture shock that you should be aware of.

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Stages Of Culture Shock

  • The honeymoon stage – you’ll probably notice the similarities and be charmed by the differences at this stage.
  • The negotiation stage – the honeymoon feelings will diminish and you’ll get more annoyed at things you’re not used to, you might even become confused, angry, and scared.
  • The adjustment stage – you can relax and come to terms with how different things are.
  • The mastery stage – you reach a high level of comfort in this new place and your routine is more natural to you.

Just know that there will come a time when you feel more comfortable – the uncertain stages won’t last forever!

 

Dealing With Culture Shock

Now let’s talk about dealing with culture shock.

 

Learn as Much As You Can Before You Travel – make sure you learn as much as you possibly can about a place before you travel. Read up on different reviews and forums, and watch YouTube videos. You’ll get a good idea of what to expect, and hopefully, the shock won’t be too severe.

 

When You Arrive, Write Down What You Love – as soon as you arrive, write down what you love about the place. Maybe you love the hustle and bustle of Downtown L.A., or how friendly the people are in South East Asia. Write down as many things as you can so that you can look back on it when you’re feeling low.

 

Find A Healthy Distraction – find a distraction to help you deal in the tough stages. You could work out. listen to a podcast, read a book, or do something else you enjoy.

 

See If You Can Talk To Others About How You Feel – you may be able to find other travellers and talk to them about it, or there are always forums you can use.

 

Are you ready to deal with culture shock after reading this, or have you experienced it already? Leave your comments below!

 

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Things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one such dream destination, that narrowing down to the best of all the fun activities becomes quite a task. The lush green jungles, the exotic bird life, pristine unspoilt beaches and the spectacular scenery all go into making this country a paradise for holiday makers and nature lovers alike.

 

This striking and diverse terrain which is a heady combination of sun, outdoor fun and nature offers something or the other to every traveler, right from the Pacific coast to the Northern plains. Stunning Costa Rican villas amidst jungles and beautiful valleys, make for perfect retreats.

 

To make it easy for the first time visitor, some of the leading attractions of this enchanting country are highlighted here.

 

NICOYA PENINSULA

 

A four hour drive from San Jose will bring you to the northwestern tip of Costa Rica where the Nicoya Peninsula extends right up to the Pacific coast. The sparkling shoreline which is all of 80 miles long, offers a plethora of fishing, cattle ranch communities, mixed with trendy restaurants and hotels which have sprung up to cater to the influx of the increasing number of tourists that throng here round the year.

 

ARENAL VOLCANO

 

Every year, between the months of February and April, visitors come in hordes to have some of the best undisturbed views of one of the most active volcanoes of the world, namely, Arenal Volcano. Standing 5000 feet above sea level, this constant spewing mountain can be viewed in its splendor from the Arenal Observatory Lodge, which occupies a vantage point.

 

The base village of Fortuna, offers perfect opportunities to viewers to access Arenal, and fog or no fog, travelers come here in numbers to enjoy the experience.

 

BIRDWATCHING

 

From toucans,macaws, parrots and a host of tropical birds, Costa Rica with around 800 different bird species, is a mecca for birders. The top bird spots around the towns of Arenal, Puerto Viejo, Osa Peninsula and Montverde are all a haven for naturalists. Many hotels provide conducted tours with an expert guide to take enthusiasts bird watching either through forest hikes or from observation towers.

 

TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK

 

Accessible only by boat or a light airplane, the TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK is located in the North Eastern part of Costa Rica and is an extremely popular tourist destination. The major attraction here are the phenomenal sightings of endangered species of turtles, like the green turtle, hawksbill and other varieties that come onshore during the breeding season in their thousands to lay their eggs.

 

CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK

 

This biologically rich rainforest area is home to some of the most exotic animal species like the jaguar, anteaters, tapirs, a diverse bird life with the water bodies sheltering crocodiles and bull sharks.The abundance of mangrove swamps are reminiscent of scenes from any popular nature film.

 

GUANACASTE

 

Nestled on the border with Nicaragua, this area is home to sleek resorts and luxurious retreats along the Pacific coast. Rainforest, Savannah and an active Rincon de la Vieja volcano, leaves visitors spoilt for choice while visiting Guanacaste.

 

TRAVEL ON HORSEBACK

 

Simply one of the best way to see the beaches and mountains of Costa Rica is on horseback.Though locally a common activity, visitors today can visit almost any popular destination, especially in Guanacaste. Horses can be hired from the local farmers at a nominal charge and are great options while visiting beach towns, such as Samara, Tamarindo or Montezuma.

 

SUNSET CRUISE

 

One of the most relaxing and romantic activity along the Pacific coast is to go on a sunset cruise along the many beautiful beaches. Towns like, Playas del Coco,Playa Tamarindo and many others offer this excursion to let visitors get a feel of the ocean and view marine life. Snorkeling equipment, water, snacks and drinks are all included in this super romantic activity.

 

GO ON A ROAD TRIP

 

Embarking on a journey by road through Costa Rica is a breathtaking experience. It allows one to venture off the beaten path and explore the cities and its surroundings in a more natural and authentic manner. A trip through Central Valley for example, offers stunning landscapes and let’s the motorist experience the small town life and taste local cuisine which otherwise is not possible in the more touristy zones.

 

FINCA 6

 

Located in the Osa Peninsula, is a unique UNESCO world heritage site dedicated to spheres made of stone. Though their origin and purpose have still not been established even till today, this mysterious site is a great attraction and of incredible interest.

 

CATARATA DEL TORO

 

Dropping from a height of 270 feet, this stunning waterfall is the tallest in Costa Rica. Located inside an extinct volcanic crater in the Central Valley, the steps down the waterfall offer a great walk and close-up views of the cascading water. The waterfall can be reached while driving to La Fortuna from San Jose. Private cabins are available for overnight stay at this reserve.

 

RAINFOREST BY TRAM

 

This is the ideal way to see the rainforest from close for those who cannot hike or endure strenuous excursions. The tropical jungle unfolds a variety of bird and animal life and the guide is always ready with the names of the different flora and fauna. The tram passes through many vantage points which offer stunning views of the rainforest. This facility is available at Arenal and Monteverde, while there is one on the Caribbean side and Jaco as well.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Family Vacation

If you are planning to head off on a family vacation, you will want the experience to be as fun and exciting as possible. Here are ways on how to get the most out of your vacation.

Plan

Before you go on your vacation, it is important that you all sit down together and brainstorm exactly what you want to get out of the trip. Having a list will help you know what it is you plan to do whilst on vacation and all the activities you want to try out. You may find that each member of the party wants to do different things, so a little compromise will have to come into play to ensure you all get to enjoy the vacation.

Inject Some Fun

Going on a family vacation should be a fun and exciting time for you all, and there are many ways that you can inject a little fun into proceedings and get your trip off to a good start. If you enjoy sporting matching outfits, you may want to feel and look the part with your own personalized t-shirt. Websites like Heatpressmachineguide.Com will give you all the information you need so you can be sure that you create some of the most funky and innovative t-shirts for your vacation.

Book in Advance

To get the best deals, it is always advised to book in advance. You will want to cut corners wherever you can which can potentially help save you a vast amount of money. Make sure that you take the time to research into vacation locations and deals that are affordable for you and your family. If you decide to book late, you run the risk of having limited options as well as higher costs.

Read Reviews

There are many specialist review websites on the internet such as Trip Advisor which can help you figure out exactly where is right to go for your vacation. Reading reviews of the places you want to visit as well as hotels will help you get a better idea on where is best to stay and visit. If a hotel you have seen has predominately low ratings, it is best to look for somewhere else to avoid any problems that could arise. Being able to read first-hand and honest reviews will help put your mind at ease and ensure you make the right decision.

Stay Safe

No matter where you go in the world for your vacation, it is always important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Being somewhere completely different will put you out of your comfort zone so you will need to have your wits about you throughout your vacation. There are simple measures that you can take such as keeping all your valuables in zipped pockets as well as having locked luggage.

When going on vacation, always make sure that you have everything planned out well in advance to avoid any issues, but most of all, have fun!

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Unplanned Staycation: Rimlay Park Resort

Book your next staycation/vacation: Booking dot com

Rimlay Park Resort Review

If you would like to know our experience in this resort read on.

 

My husband and I work full time. Parents out there could surely empathize with us wanting to getaway and simply relax.  And in today’s busy and structured world, this does not come by easily.  Parents have busy schedules and kids’ have timetable full of classes from dusk to twilight, plus special classes here and there. With all these crazy sched in the family, finding the common time for a holiday is rare and difficult. Fortunately though, the previous week we had that rare time. And so we grabbed the opportunity and went on our unplanned staycation.

For us, a perfect staycation means staying in a new place with a nice accommodation, clean air conditioned room with wifi, fridge, and coffee maker, and most importantly a place with kids pool. So we hurriedly booked Rimlay Park Resort at Phattalung Thailand.

As soon as the booking was confirmed, we drove there the following day. Since it is unplanned, I forgot the kids’ life jackets. They love swimming but they do not know how to swim yet, thus the life jackets.  We ought to enroll them in a swimming class. And yes we will, it is important.

We got to the resort after hours of going back and forth exploring the outback. Yes it is in the countryside. It is a little haven in the middle of acres and acres of rice fields and forest.

The place is good and we rated it 4/5. But it does not have a proper kids pool unlike Haad Kaew Resort. It is actually an adult pool with a shallow area where adults could sit around and tête-à-tête while in the water.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well.  The kids had so much fun.  The accommodating lady owner lent them swimming aid noodles. Although short, but it had been a relaxing stay and an enjoyable one for the kids.

Rimlay Park Resort is a great staycation place for families or a getaway haven for group of friends. If you would like to know more about this resort, read Rimlay Park Resort Review.

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How To Survive A Road Trip With Kids In Tow

family-road-trip

Road trips are one of the most common choices for family vacations. Of course, that involves spending more than a few hours in close quarters with your kids. Before you hit the road with your children, take a moment to plan out how to get to your destination without losing your mind along the way.

It might not be the way you first imagine a road trip with the kids – your thoughts probably turn to backseat shenanigans and endless questions along the lines of “are we there yet” – but it’s entirely possible to leave the stress behind when you take your children on a road trip. The secret to smooth sailing on a family road trip is to keep your expectations reasonable and do as much advanced planning as possible. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Confirm Your Vehicle’s Readiness

Suffering a breakdown on the road is always irritating, but it can turn into a real disaster when you have a pair of rambunctious toddlers in the backseat. Pay a visit to your favorite car mechanic before you hit the road. Have him check the air pressure and condition of all of your tires, including the spare, as well as check your mechanical systems (including the air conditioner and / or heater, and fluid levels) in advance, too.

Consider Signing Up For Roadside Assistance

AAA is still the gold standard when it comes to nationwide roadside assistance services, but there are other options in the same vein as well. If you aren’t already a member of a similar service, you should strongly consider signing up before your trip. It may be handy to download an app like EmergenSee, too. This turns your smartphone into a live recording device (capturing video, audio, and GPS data) and sends it to chosen contacts or law enforcement officials when you’re in trouble. Also, check with your car insurance to see if they offer roadside assistance.

Make Your Kids Safe

Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the car and/or booster seats your kids need before you set off. Confirm they’re installed properly. You can find a local authority for this service by visiting SeatCheck.org. Alternatively, just inquire with your nearest fire station – most of them handle this safety check for free.

Bear in mind that the latest advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to use rear-facing car seats for children under the age of two. Kids should always be strapped in when the car is moving. If your children need a break from their seats, plan these kind of stops into your travel plans to give everyone a break from the car.

Always Have A First Aid Kit

Bring along all the usual items you might need to deal with minor ailments: Band-Aids, antiseptic, fever reducers, medications used by your family members, and perhaps even a little extra toilet paper for unplanned bathroom breaks.

Schedule Your Departure Wisely

If your kids are experienced backseat sleepers, think about kicking your trip off at either bedtime or in the early morning. Feel free to leave them in their PJs and enjoy a restful, quiet start to your road trip. Also, consider travel plans of others. Are you traveling during a busy holiday time? You may want to avoid heavy traffic by leaving at a time when you’ll hit big cities at their least busy times. Sitting in a traffic jam while on a road trip with kids is NOT fun!

Comfort Is A Priority

Make sure your children are dressed in clothes they like for the trip. Wearing PJs or other comfy clothes is always recommended. Shoes that are easy for your child to get on and off by themselves is another good tip. This makes stops easier on mom and dad. You should also bring along any familiar items that will help the kids feel at home (stuffed animals, blankets, and even favorite pillows) to encourage sleeping in the car.

Assign Seating

If you’re hauling a large family in a large vehicle, keep your family dynamics in mind when placing people in their seats. Break up fractious siblings by putting them into separate rows. This will be appreciated by both the youngsters and the adults who are driving. You’ll also want to consider keeping smaller children who frequently need help close to the front or near someone capable of helping the younger passengers.

Pack Snacks

Bring along as many healthy snacks as you can comfortably manage. Stay away from sugary, high-energy foods; your kids don’t need any surplus pep for a long car trip. Perfect road trip foods include raisins, bananas, rice cakes, Cheerios, and crackers. Try to avoid snacks that are messy or crumbly and that don’t require utensils to eat. But be prepared for messes, pack wipes and a small car trash can.

Plan Some Welcome Surprises

Kids love a surprise, and a road trip gives you ample opportunities to cook up some unexpected delights. Look for fun stops your family can make on your way to your destination. If you can spring something like a trip to a candy store or a water park on your kids they’re less likely to get bored and grumpy afterward.

Visit the dollar store to buy up a supply of small toys and treats. To keep everybody amused on the trip, let each child pick out something new for each hour you spend on the road. This stash of goodies also makes a great incentive and encourages good behavior! If you’ve got enough time, try wrapping up the treats in advance to make each pick more exciting – and time-consuming – for your kids.

Bring As Much Entertainment As Possible

While too much screen time is a bad thing for your kids, that rule goes out the window when you’ve got a long road trip to get through. Feel free to bring along smartphones, tablets, and portable DVD players to keep the children amused. Make sure you load your devices up with apps, songs, and videos you know your kids will enjoy. And bring headphones for each person!

Don’t Challenge Your Kids’ Endurance

The grownups might be ready to handle six hours of uninterrupted drive time, but that’s not going to fly with youngsters. Plan on stopping at least every two hours, if not more frequently. A clean rest stop can be a life-saver – the first time you pull into one. After the first half-dozen, your family is going to get bored. Plan out stops at local parks (the sort with slides, swings, and other kid-friendly equipment) as a refreshing alternative.

Preserve Bedtime Rituals

Although you’ll probably be tempted to jump right into bed after a long day on the road, try to keep up as many of your standard bedtime routines as you can. Bathe, read, nurse, and do whatever else you normally do at home to get your kids ready for a good night’s sleep. Bring the pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals in from the car to make the kids’ vacation room feel as homelike as possible.

Follow these simple tips to get your family vacation off to the right start!

Traveling by car with kids is plausible, and a great way to strengthen family bonding, follow the above tips when traveling with your children.

 

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Bathe In The Sun At….

Summer in Samal

When we went home to the Philippines for a month long, very much needed vacay, my husband and I decided to book a weekend stay in the Island Garden City of Samal or IGaCOS, the Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort. This is our childhood favorite resort. Since we were kids this resort has been like a… well… a paradise. It seemed like the name Paradise Island was synonymous to GREAT FUN.

Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort is located at Barangay Caliclic, Babak district Samal Island. Please note that Samal Island used to be a part of Davao City before it was declared a city of its own on 30th January 1998; some websites though, still use the old address. This resort can be reached via a boat ride from a port in Sasa Wharf Davao City to the resort or via a Ferry if you so choose to bring your vehicles to the Island with you.

In general, we had a pleasant experience. My husband and I definitely had a great time at the beach. We love the powdery white sand, the blue clear water, and the fresh air. At that time there were only a few guests, so it felt like we had the beach to ourselves. It felt like paradise.

However, there were a few inconveniences.

For example, checking in was quite a hassle as the resort is quite strict with a lot of things. They do have a rule book that you need to familiarize with or else your stay will be ruined. Checking the bags to make sure you have no food, drinks and/or spirits brought with you, as one of the rules in the book says “NO FOOD AND DRINKS FROM OUTSIDE ARE ALLOWED”, was a bit annoying.

It was like we were being searched in a detention camp rather than a resort. Children under 12 years have additional fees. It was quite saddening especially when all the other resorts especially resorts in Thailand would consider them free.  The food and snacks in the resort are delicious but rather expensive. The drinks and spirits are downright overpriced.

And then there is this, no swimming pool. When we were kids it was OK because we never really had any idea about it, but now that we have gone to other resorts it seems like a pool is a given.  Our kids were extremely disappointed. They love hanging around the pool. In fact it is the very first thing they always look for whenever we check in on a hotel/resort.

I guess we sort of overlooked this. We were probably unconsciously expecting it after all these years. Anyway, the beach was irresistibly inviting, even to the kids.  They had so much fun that they didn’t want to get out of the water.  That reminded me of our childhood days. It was a blast.

If you are the kind of person who wants coffee in the morning just right after waking up… you’d be disappointed to know that there are no hotspots or whatsoever in the rooms. I know it’s not really a necessity for everyone but it’s kind of good to have just in case you need one. No refrigerator. Yup… you heard me right. There is no freakin fridge. So if you bought a large bottle of soda or bottled water from the bar or restaurant, drink it while it’s cold. It’s not a deal breaker but it is definitely disappointing since these are the kind of amenities even cheap hotels offer.

But then again when we got to our room that morning Lo and Behold… The room was really clean. The toilet was well maintained. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief as my husband and I are really particular about cleanliness. We have had very bad experiences with hotel rooms even with the pricey ones in Bangkok and in Penang Malaysia. The beddings, the mattress, the floor under the bed are well dusted. We are very particular about this since my husband and kids are all asthmatic.

We’ve been to quite a few resorts and hotels may it be for long vacay or just a weekend getaway, all these accommodations have their own good and bad points.  Nothing is perfect as they say.  But perfection is relative to one’s needs and preferences.

So, Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort despite its imperfection and the inconveniences we had, it was still a GREAT experience generally speaking.

Have you been to any of the beautiful beaches in the Philippines? How was it?

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Krathong Making

Loy Krathong is a Thai celebration that happens in the month of November, wherein Thais float their krathongs in any body of water or fly Chinese lanterns in the air on the night of the festivity. However, prior to this, in schools, students make their own krathongs and sometimes join a krathong making contest.

Here are the materials needed in making a krathong.

  • Banana trunk
  • Leaves
  • Pins
  • Flowers

Procedure:

  1. Cut banana trunk into 2 to 3 inches chunks.

    chunk of banana trunk wrapped in leaves
  2. Wrap it with leaves. It could be banana or some other kind will do. You may also fold strips of banana leaves into triangular shapes resembling a lotus to cover the chunk of banana trunk with.
  3. Use pins to secure the decoration into the banana trunk base.
  4. Decorate it with different kinds of flowers.
  5. Finally, stick in a candle and incense sticks.

 

Thai people add in the krathong lock of their hair and pieces of trimmed nails.  This is to symbolize that they are want to drive off misfortune and bad things in the past.

 

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Krathong Making Contest

Loy Krathong is celebrated on the month of November.  The word “loy” means to float in English.  Krathong, on the other hand, does not have an exact English equivalent as far as I know.  If you have any idea please let us know in the comment section below.  It is somewhat like a floral “float” made from either banana trunk or bread, with a candle and incense sticks. They then float this on a river, lake, or pond.

Some schools run a contest to make krathong making even more exciting and memorable.  In the university I work with, students majoring in English were responsible in running the entire program, which started with a brief history of the celebration; followed by the krathong making; and finally the contest.  Students and staff were welcomed to participate.  Everyone gathered in the faculty hall, took the materials, and made their krathong for an hour.

 

Here are this year’s beautiful krathongs (2015)

Happy Loy Krathong!

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Reasons Why You Should Consider Educating Your Child in an International School

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Here are some reasons why parents should start thinking of sending their children to an international school.

1. Children educated in an international school are trained to become open-minded individuals.

Learning and socializing together with children of different nationalities will give our children a holistic perspective of the diversities of this world.  As early as the formative years, they learn, play, talk, and build bonds with children from different family backgrounds, culture, traditions, and religious affiliations.  This exposure instills in them great values of respect and acceptance for people regardless of their race, religion, and skin color.  This would also enrich and strengthen their love and understanding of their own culture.

2.  Teaching is relatively personalized as compared to local, mainstream schools.

How is this possible? You may ask.

Classes never go beyond 15 students (at least in the international school I know).  So within the time allotted for each subject, the teacher has ample time to look into individual student’s works and needs. With this class size, classroom management is far more easier, so most of the time is spent doing actual discussions and activities with the students.

3.  Children are prepared to be globally competitive.

Our children will run this Earth.  They are the future of this world.  In this era, the world is the market.  Businesses, companies, and industries are no longer confined within four walls.  Together with this change, is the challenge to be competitive.  Academic excellence is not enough.  Being able to speak more than two languages including English is definitely an advantage.  The ability to adjust, adapt, and deal with variety of situations involving diversities in attitude, perception, and values of people which may only be attained from years of exposure are important as the future looks like one big melting pot of culturally diverse individuals.

4.  Children in an international school acquire English Language quicker.

The rate of language acquisition differs in each individual.  But most often than not, environment exerts the bigger influence.

For Thai students, speaking English is a challenge.  Cable and TV shows, magazines, newspaper, street banners and ads are 99% in Thai.  The medium of instruction even in Bilingual schools is Thai.  Movies and famous cartoon shows are translated to Thai.

In an international school, English is the medium of instruction in the classroom.  It is the language used in the office, in the canteen, and in the playground. This is the best environment for Thai children to learn English.

 

If these reasons are important to you and are now planning of sending your kids to an international school, and you happen to live in Songkhla Thailand, or moving to Songkhla, or living in nearby cities, I might be of help.  I know of a reasonably, affordable, child-oriented international school here.  Please send me a personal message at MitchRyan’s Blog or email me at mitchelle.juaban@gmail.com. ^_^

 

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Coffee or Tea?

When you are entertaining the choice of regular and decaffeinated coffee and tea can be a real hassle – it’s almost impossible to know who will want to drink what and how much you should make. Usually you end up tossing at least a half a pot of coffee if not more because someone only wanted a half a cup. With an on demand coffee maker you can eliminate waste and satisfy guests with the touch of a button; on demand brewers use tea and coffee K-Cup® or similar pods to make each drink a unique experience and there is no waste because you brew hot beverages by the cup instead of by the pot.

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K-Cup® Iced Coffee or Tea for Keurig® Brewers – Bedbathandbeyond.com

Benefits

The machines resemble conventional electric drip coffee makers and take up about the same amount of counter space but they operate in a very different fashion. There is a reservoir which can hold anywhere from 6 to twelve cups of good quality tap, filtered or bottled water and there needs to be a handy electrical outlet. There is no coffee pot because the drinks brew directly into a cup, glass or mug so they are always fresh, hot and flavorful.

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Keurig K-Cup 30 Coffee pod Holder Carousel Tower

There is also no need to scoop and measure coffee or deal with messy coffee grounds and flimsy coffee filters because the machines use single portion coffee and tea pods. To make coffee you insert a pod into the Keurig® or similar K-Cup® holder, put a cup under the brewing port and press a button – in less than one minute the machine opens the pod, issues the correct amount of water at the ideal temperature and brews a custom hot drink that is ready to savor and enjoy.