Dawn is the new sunset: The most magical spots in the world to watch daybreak revealed

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Sunsets may grace the covers of many a travel brochure, but there’s a lot to be said for catching dawn instead. 

Firstly, as these breathtaking shots prove, sunrise provides arguably the best natural light with which to take photographs.

It’s also the only time of day at which you’ll be able to dodge tourists at the world’s most-visited landmarks, India’s Taj Mahal for example.

In cold climates such as Sweden, the sun rises for just a few hours during the dark winter, so morning is your only chance to witness the snowy landscape when it’s bright.

In Africa, daybreak is by far the best time to witness its wildlife on safari, and in other hot countries, it’s the opportune time to take a solitary hike before the sun gets too oppressive.

Read on for MailOnline Travel‘s most spectacular spots around the world to enjoy before everyone else wakes up. 

Twelve Apostles

Head off on a road trip along Australia’s Great Ocean Road and be sure to get a head start on the driving just as the sun comes up, captured here from the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park

Cappadocia mountains

Not many destinations in the world inspire such wanderlust as the Turkish Cappadocia mountains, best enjoyed from a hot air balloon at sunrise

Amboseli National Park

Kenya is another region where it pays to drag yourself from slumber in the early hours, in order to catch a morning dose of ‘golden hour’, seen here in the Amboseli National Park

Valparai

Valparai, a lesser known scenic spot in India’s Tamil Nadu region, is located 3,500 feet above sea level and is often shrouded in a gentle mist first thing in the morning

Lion's Head Cape Town

Cape Town, a sleepy city in the west of South Africa, is renowned as being one of the best vantage points in the world from which to witness the sun rise, seen here peeking around Lion’s Head

 Bunyeroo Valley

The magestic Bunyeroo Valley in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges looks particularly fine under the first morning light

Atlas Mountains

A tiny Moroccan village in Berber appears to be bathed in a bolt of liquid gold as the rest of the Atlas mountains loom grey in the background

Abisko National Park

During the winter months in the northernmost reaches of Sweden, the sun rises briefly in the morning to paint the sky red, seen here over the Abisko National Park, but quickly retreats. True daylight isn’t witnessed here until summer rolls around

Antarctic icebergs

In Antarctica, however, the opposite is true. From September until around April, the sun rises early over the icebergs and doesn’t dip away again until midnight. Even then, it never fully sets

Angkor Wat temple

It looks upon first glance like a raging fire emerging from behind Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, but rather it’s a cloud lit up by the rising sun

Patagonian Andes

Patagonia sees a lot of dramatic weather over the epic landscape of the Andes, and this early morning rainbow is no exception

Tanda Tula, Kruger National Park

African safaris dotted around the continent typically take their guests on drives at the crack of dawn, as it’s the best time to witness wildlife. A pack of hyenas are seen here on the Tanda Tula grounds in the Kruger National Park

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most colourful parts of the country – its sunrises being no exception

Corfe Castle, Dorset

Alternatively, stay closer to home and admire English country scenes like this dawn view of Corfe Castle in Dorset

 

 

 

Is it safe to travel? Use common sense, but don’t cower in fear

…And here’s another fine and inspiring piece from the much-respected John Lumpkin, freelance writer and Special Contributor to the Dallas News.  I admire his sentiment and totally concur: nothing will stop me from my trekking…!    – Ned


Photo: John Lumpkin

“See the pyramids along the Nile. Watch the sunrise from a tropic isle …” So opened a sweet song from the ’50s titled “You Belong to Me.” It continued, “See the market place in old Algier …”

Do those trips sound so dreamy today?

“Experienced travellers are pretty fatalistic about it,” Harvey Boysen, president of Gulliver’s Travel Service in Fort Worth, says. “It could happen in Dallas, Texas, San Bernardino, or Nice, France. You can’t go hide in a hole.”

But it’s understandable that political and religious violence outside the conventional theaters of war is a serious concern, not just in our time. Military historian Max Boot wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal that the current turmoil is actually a “third wave” of international terrorism since the late 1800s — including the bombings of a wagon on Wall Street in 1920 that took 38 lives, and another of an opera house in 1893 in Spain that killed 22.

Remember the scene in The Godfather: Part II? Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) attempted to engineer a mobster coup in fancy Havana hotels patronized by Americans and found himself in the midst of the Cuban Revolution on New Year’s Eve, 1958. In real life, that could have been a family in 2011 on a trip of a lifetime to Egypt’s pyramids in the midst of the Arab Spring.

On reflection, a more ordinary disruption to travel is Mother Nature. For that, it’s sometimes possible to make informed decisions. For example, would you travel to tropical venues if you are of childbearing age, because of the new threat of Zika?

Otherwise, there are situations you cannot anticipate. My wife’s cousin, Jim Biggerstaff of Denton, and his spouse, Lisa, tried twice on European river cruises. Flooding of Portugal’s Duro River left the ship in dock for the duration, but they already were en route and had to settle for the cruise company’s alternative, a winding bus trip along the same itinerary.

The Biggerstaffs’ Elba River cruise was canceled due to a drought, but that illustrates how such events have serendipitous benefits. Viking Cruises offered a full refund plus a $1,000 credit, so Jim and Lisa switched to the Danube and spent three extra days in Prague — “one of the most spectacular cities in Europe,” he says.

An earthquake prevented my wife, Eileen, and me from a much-anticipated trip to Chile, wrapped around an international conference that had to be moved elsewhere. We may not get back that way, although we have a Chilean landscape artist’s surreal work hanging in our home.

Years ago, when I worked in North Carolina and our two toddlers limited our travels, I was often told we had to see the “fall color” around Grandfather Mountain. We found a residential rental at peak season in mid-October, stocked the station wagon with groceries and started out from Raleigh, only to drive into flecks of unseasonal sleet and flurries west of Winston-Salem. By the time we slushed and slid into the mountain condo, there were 10 inches of wet snow, knocking virtually every golden and red leaf off the trees. We never saw the much-publicized foliage, but our family from Texas played in a white landscape not familiar to the little ones, and Eileen and I shared drinks in front of a blazing fireplace when the kids were down.

We are recently retired from full-time work of almost five decades and believe in the credo offered by a neighbour of Biggerstaff: Your fixed-income dollar is worth more now than it will be in 10 years and you are healthier than you likely will be by then.

The neighbour, retired General Electric executive Gary Bostick, also has other insight about travel problems: “If you want it to be like home, then you should stay at home.”

 

John Lumpkin is a freelance writer in Richardson. He served as a vice president of The Associated Press and director of the School of Journalism at Texas Christian University.

* * * *

Ned’s tip: If you’re travelling down the Nile like the old song, head to the Red Sea and stay at the gorgeous five star Le Royal – Sharm El Sheikh resort.

Why Terrorism Won’t Stop Me From Travelling

“Fear is how terrorists win.”  This is how Hannah Stein, Journalist, Blogger and Photographer for HuffPost Travel, starts her truly inspiring piece.  Go Hannah!

Jungles in Indonesia (Hannah Stein)

It seems like every other day I wake up to news stories about a new terrorist attack or some sort of moral injustice in the world. After the attacks in Berlin, Turkey, Brussels and all around the world since, my heart broke for all of the hurt and terror in the world, but it also broke because I realized that people were saying they no longer wanted to travel because of the potential threat. I understand that fear, but I can say that terrorism won’t stop me from travelling.

I studied abroad in Brussels and so it is somewhere very close to my heart. It’s where I discovered my love for travel and for other cultures and where I really began to learn things about myself I never knew before. Watching the tragedy unfold made me sick. I still have friends there who I of course was concerned about, but more to the point, I was sick to my stomach that once again there are people in this world who’s existence is to simply hurt and terrorize other innocent humans. The people who died and were injured were people just going about their daily lives. Going to work. Going on a business trip. Maybe even trying to visit loved ones. This kind of terrorism makes me furious, but it’s also not the point of this article.

Every time I travel somewhere more often than not the response I receive is to “stay safe” or ‘be careful.’

As terrorism has become increasingly more common, as sickening as it is to admit, there has become a collective belief that we should try and be extra safe, be really careful and to stop travelling to unknown places. I get it. It’s a scary time and we want to protect ourselves and protect our loved ones. We’ll do anything we can to make ourselves feel safe again, even if it’s not the most logical thing to do and even if, in reality, it won’t make any difference.

Every time I travel somewhere more often than not the response I receive is to “stay safe” or “be careful.” While I understand and appreciate the sentiment, the implication is that normally I’m not safe and I don’t take the necessary precautions to protect myself in my travels. I understand sometimes it’s something that’s just said, but the harsh reality is that no one is “safe” anymore.

Paris and Brussels are viewed as first world, very successful, wealthy cities and yet both have been victims to heinous acts of terrorism which has led to the deaths of dozens and dozens of people. I’m not trying to be morbid and I don’t want to scare anyone, but the reality is if you’re going to tell me to be safe when I travel to Bangkok, New York or even London, then by extension you need to tell me to be safe when I walk across the street to get a loaf of bread, or when I get on the U-Bahn to go to work. The sad truth is that it’s about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and this is one of many reasons why terrorism won’t stop me from travelling.

[Terrorists] win by making us change our lifestyles because of what might happen. They win when we choose to forego an opportunity because of the what ifs.

Paralyzing us and fear is how terrorists win. They win by making us change our lifestyles because of what might happen. They win when we choose to forego an opportunity because of the what ifs. They win every time someone says “stay safe.” When we think about them and are afraid they’re winning. I won’t let that fear change my life. I won’t miss amazing opportunities because that is exactly what they want. And, unfortunately, I’m no safer at home than I am in Kuala Lumpur, Mexico or Bali.

People have died from terrorism in Boston, in New York, in London, in Paris, in Brussels. Living in fear won’t make you safer and travelling somewhere different doesn’t make you more susceptible to an attack. There is so much good in the world and it’s important to remember that terrorists only make up a small percentage. There are kind-hearted and wonderful people in every country and by working to build bridges with these other cultures we’re spreading positivity, understanding and love rather than hate.

That’s the best way to combat terrorists. Work to understand other cultures and get to know the locals. Share stories, bond and be positive. Nothing good will come of fear and worry and it certainly isn’t going to make you any safer.

At the end of the day, your chances of being in a terrorist attack are minuscule and you’re more likely to end up being crushed by your TV than being killed or injured by a bomb. Don’t give into the fear and hate. Don’t stop experiencing new cultures and building bridges and understanding across continents, because that’s the best way we can win.

 

 

10 Secrets Your Pilot Has Always Wanted To Tell You

“This is your captain speaking.”  (Well, a Huff Post travel writer anyway 😉 )

We see flight attendants often, but pilots tend to be much more secluded. With so much airtime and so little face time, there are a few things they want to share with the masses.

So we asked commercial airline pilots who have their own aviation blogs to name the one thing they wish their “pax” – that’s airline speak for “passengers” – knew. Their responses, along with some shared by their friends, shed a whole new light on life in the cockpit.

1. Pilots don’t like cancelled flights, either.

“As passengers, one of the most aggravating situations is an extensive delay followed by the ultimate cancellation. We miss our friend’s wedding, our cruise, or our child’s baseball game. However, I wish passengers knew that when we cancel a flight, the flight crews miss their special events, too.”
― Karlene Petitt of Flight to Success

2.  You shouldn’t cut it too close when booking.

“Passengers plan a trip and fly up to the last minute before they need to be there or back at work. Then they get mad at airlines if there is a delay/cancellation.”
― Pilot who asked to remain anonymous

3. There’s an official definition of “on time” and it’s not what you think.

“ ‘On time’ for departure is pushing back from the gate at published departure time (and up to 14 minutes later). ‘On time’ for arrival is plus or minus 14 minutes.”
― Pilot who asked to remain anonymous

4. Turbulence can come out of nowhere…

“Pilots can avoid predicted or reported turbulence, but that hardly guarantees a smooth ride. The atmosphere is an ever-changing fluid, producing turbulence almost instantaneously. So ALWAYS keep your seatbelt on when seated.”
― Chris Manno of JetHead, who is also a pilot with American Airlines 

5. …But there’s a way to have less of it on your flight.

“If people are concerned about turbulence, they need to take early-morning flights for the smoothest air.”
― Laura Einsetler of Captain Laura

6. Flight durations aren’t set in stone.

“The length of a flight at the time someone books a ticket is based on historical data. The real length of a flight varies.”
― Pilot who asked to remain anonymous

7. Autopilot isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“It’s pilots who are flying your plane – human beings, not some high-tech autopilot. People have a vastly exaggerated notion of what cockpit automation actually does.”
― Patrick Smith of Ask the Pilot

8. Your pilot is no dummy.

“I wish people knew how much experience, training, education and requirements must be met before we are allowed to even fly these jets.”
― Laura Einsetler of Captain Laura

9. Cancellations could save your life.

“Pilots use their experience and best judgment to make that very hard choice to stay on the ground and cancel a flight. That choice is not made lightly and is always based on safety.”
― Karlene Petitt of Flight to Success

10. Looking around could save your life too.

“I wish passengers knew how many rows to their nearest exit. Most accidents are survivable if you get out.”
― Anne Fletcher

Destination Inspiration: Ten of the World’s Most Legendary, Gorgeous Beaches…

So reckons the extremely well-trekked Gilbert Ott, editor of Godsavethepoints – and I must say I’m finding it hard to disagree with him!


City breaks are cool, cultural holidays are fun, but it’s hard to beat an nice cold refreshing drink on a gorgeous sandy beach with the shades on. If you’ve been spinning the globe looking for the perfect place to spend your hard earned holiday cash, it’s tough to pass up these beaches, which are arguably ten of the most stunning you’ll find anywhere in the world…

Horseshoe Beach, Bermuda

Believe it or not, there really is an island where the sand is pink: it’s called Bermuda. This particular stretch of beach features a hidden cove where you find tourist free, untouched beauty.

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

If the beach is crowded, just hit the amazing sand bar a few feet out. Shallow water, rolling hills, white sand and all the glory of an Australian holiday. Sold.

Honopu Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Pink sand, girly. White sand, standard. Black sand? Very cool! Honopu beach, amongst many of Hawaii’s best beaches, features volcanic black sand, creating one of the most unique experiences in the world against crystal blue water….

Pansy Island, Mozambique

Want to escape the world? Well this is about as “secluded” as you can get, requiring a plane and then a boat to bring you to these remote islands, only a few of which are inhabited…

Honopu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

If black sand is a bit extreme for your taste, perhaps one of these remote, hike-worthy beaches protected by massive rock formations. It’s worth the “trek”…

Temea Beach, Moorea, French Polynesia

You know life is tough when you’re choosing between Moorea and Bora Bora. If you opt to go the Moorea route, you’ll definitely want to hit Temea Beach, featuring water with color so pristine it makes pools envious. There’s plenty of soft sand and rugged terrain as well…

El Nido Beach, Palawan, Philippines

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, probably worthy of enticing you to buy a $1000 plane ticket. El Nido beach is one of the most secluded, gorgeous beach areas, with lush greenery juxtaposing the surreal blue ocean and white sand. Simply paradise.

Long Beach, Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Thailand’s beaches are so sought after the country is having to crack down on tourism. The Phi Phi Islands offer one of the most “Instagram” worthy settings. You’ll just want to arrive early to avoid the boats of people trying to get in on the amazing action. Unless you enjoy people…

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

If there’s one thing to learn from this post, Queensland is worthy of a bucket list spot. With two beaches on the list (for obvious reasons shown above) you’ll find all the sand, snorkelling and surfing fun you could ever dream of.

Until then, keep dreaming…

What Are the Odds of Surviving a Plane Crash?

No I am definitely NOT trying to put you off your next trek: hopefully this will put your mind at rest – on the plane at least.  According to abcnews.com, experts reckon you’d have to fly every day for 55,000 years (lol) before experiencing a fatal crash; and the NTSB claims the survivability rate for that potential crash is a reassuringly high 95.7 percent.

So read on.  And …. relaaaaaaaax …….


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If you’re the kind of traveller whose nerves rattle along with the drinks cart every time your flight hits turbulence, you’re probably among the 40 percent of passengers who’ve experienced some fear at one time or another while flying.

But beyond imaging the worst-case scenarios, what are the chances of your plane actually crashing? How likely are you to survive?

The good news is that plane crashes remain extremely rare. Flying is still one of the safest methods of transportation. In fact, air experts say it’s more likely you’ll be involved in a crash driving to the airport than in one midflight.

“If you take one flight a day, you would on average need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash,” M.I.T’s Sloan School Statistician Arnold Barnett told ABC News.

Around the world, the odds aren’t as good, but travellers would still need on average to take one flight a day for about 10,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash, Barnett said – adding that the mystery revolving around missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 has served to make people more anxious about something that is statistically in our favour.

“The mystery of the Malaysia plane [was] attracting the headlines and the cumulative effect of this quite naturally [made] people nervous,” Barnett said. “If you remind people of something dangerous, it worries them, even if it’s incredibly rare.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s comparison of accidental death risk on its website confirms that air travel featured relatively low among the list of alternative modes of transport. The DTT found Air carriers accounted for just 138 deaths a year among the general population, compared with 36,676 deaths by motor vehicle, 5,150 by large trucks and 3,112 by motorcycle over a five year average.

Actually, you are far more likely to die from poisoning (15,206 deaths a year), at work (5,800) or even being electrocuted (410) than in a plane accident, the agency’s research found.

But for those unlucky enough to be involved in the small percent of fatal air accidents, what are the odds of survival if your plane does crash?

The NTSB says that despite more people flying than ever, the accident rate for commercial flights has remained the same for the last two decades, and the survivability rate is a high 95.7 percent.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has also examined the survivability of aircraft accidents worldwide, estimating that 90 percent are survivable (no passengers died) or “technically survivable,” where at least one occupant survives. Most of those fatalities were a result of impact and fire-related factors including smoke inhalation after impact.

The best option to maximize your chances of walking away from a plane crash is to sit up the rear end of the plane, according to crash test results conducted by scientists for Discovery TV last year.

While airplane manufacturer, Boeing, claims on its website that “One seat is as safe as another,” a study by Popular Mechanics, which looked at the survival numbers from every commercial jet crash in the U.S. from 1971, found those sitting near the plane’s tail were 40 percent likelier to survive than those in the first few rows.

Other tips that increase your chance of survival include bracing for impact (placing your head down and putting your hands over your head), while the FAA also advises to sit in an aisle within five rows away from an emergency exit and not to sleep during takeoff and landing, when the chances of a crash is highest.

Boeing also recommends paying attention to flight attendants and dressing appropriately (“skip the short skirts, shorts and skimpy T-shirts”) in the event of an emergency.

“Ultimately, it’s highly unlikely you will be in a crash,” said Barnett. “Whatever we find out about the Malaysian flight, this sort of thing is extraordinarily rare. You could take a flight every day in an average life span of 70-80 years and never run into trouble.”

 

 

 

Useful Tips For Solo Trekkers

I’d concur!  Loving this advice from the wonderful Sakesh Karanjit, Creative Writer, Blogger, Photographer, Guitarist and Contributor at HuffPost Travel

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With so many tips tipping around the internet. Kindly go through these tips if you are planning to take off for solo treks in Nepal.

Don’t be nervous

Trekking solo might be quite intimidating even for frequent adventurer. The first and best tip for any solo trekker would be don’t get nervous and boost yourself with so much confidence that you can go anywhere and do anything. Being confused and nervous will take you nowhere. You must have your destination however! And when accompanied by professional trekking guide, you will travel solo but never alone without worrying about anything.

Be like Local

When you walk down the streets, routes, or trails dress, act, eat and try to be like local people. You need to know what to wear, what you will be eating, and do proper research before going at a new region. If you are visiting monastery, temple or any local attraction, ask your trekking guide about do’s and don’ts. Always ask before taking a photograph. Respect the local culture, traditions and religious values. When you be like local, participate in local festivals you will enjoy your trip more and make it worthwhile experience.

Don’t get drunk

Getting drunk uncontrollably would be the last thing you would do while trekking solo. Not only it will dehydrate your body and make you more prone to altitude sickness, it also put you in unwanted situation. I am not telling that don’t celebrate. After the completion of trip, you can always drink responsibly and celebrate the success with trip organizing team.

Enjoy exploring new place

Immerse yourself truly in the new place. Enjoy walking across the hills, breathe fresh air, capture beautiful views of landscapes, meet new people, interact with them, get to know their lifestyle and don’t get afraid to try new things. Tick all your checklist without any regrets and discover yourself while exploring the new place.

Embrace the positivity

If you are solo trekker, you might be facing lots of negativity around. People may say you are loner, you don’t have friends, and even people close to you might not recommend you to go solo. But you need to convert all these negativity into positivity to do something that you wanted to do. You have to believe in yourself and make it happen with trekking guide from local trekking company. It is the smartest and best way to see the world around.

 

Need for speed: where to find the world’s best wi-fi

Trekking has changed a ton since I embarked on my first great back-packing adventure to Asia fresh out of school. For a start, smartphones weren’t around: the mobile or “cell” was a luxury item for the well-to-do businessman back then; it weighed more, did less and cost a packet – no camera or music store and defo no handy app to help you find your way off the mountain, check the next train or simply ask for a beer.

Nowadays, I don’t think there are more than half a dozen people in the world who don’t have at least a basic tri-band!  But seriously, the phone has of course become an integral and essential part of your travel kit, along with a backup battery and charger and maybe a couple of spare memory cards.

But it needs something else to be fully functional: a network.  And we all expect that network to be free wherever possible now – don’t we?

Here is your guide to the best wi-fi currently available around the world from Philip Tang at Lonely PlanetNed

 

 


Net connectivity and travel have become increasingly entwined. An online connection has become a crucial part of how we navigate, research, connect and even work on the go. Wi-fi – open to all devices and often free – is the lifeblood of this connectivity.

To celebrate it, we decided to take a look how it has changed the places we visit, and to find the world’s weirdest, fastest and best wi-fi.

An online connection has become crucial to how many of us travel © DuKai photographer / Getty

An online connection has become crucial to how many of us travel © DuKai photographer / Getty

Dream landmarks with wi-fi

Awesome – you finally made it to your bucket list destination! But the internet has demands: ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’. On top of that, sharing video of your trip as it happens is more popular than ever, thanks to real-time services like Snapchat Live Story and spread to Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status. If you’ve got no service when you’re ready to broadcast, you’re out of luck.

Don’t worry though. These top picks of picturesque architectural wonders have outdoor wi-fi for immediate sharing ­– the Eiffel Tower and Cathédrale Notre Dame in Paris; the Taj Mahal in India; the Sydney Opera House in Australia; and Petra, the city carved out of stone in Jordan.

Wi-fi from . . . phone booths

Now that most people use their own phone and wi-fi device, what to with the hundreds of public telephone booths? In New York, public phones have been upgraded with ‘LinkNYC’ tablets for maps, browsing the net, and travel information. Fast free wi-fi will be offered at 7500 converted payphones (‘Links’) across the city, creating the largest network of high-speed hotspots in the world.

Similarly, many of those iconic red telephone boxes in the UK have been converted to phone repair shops and charging stations and will offer (tiny) mobile work spaces to rent, complete with power, a printer and wi-fi. In Australia, wi-fi access at converted phone booths comes at a price and only to certain customers.

Base camp tents at Mt Everest © Spaces Images

Base camp tents at Mt Everest © Spaces Images

World’s highest hookup

Saying ‘Guess where I am?’ live from Mount Everest in Nepal must earn even more bragging rights. If you’re on your way up, you’re in luck – wi-fi is being trialled at the base camp of the highest mountain on Earth to share your adventure with the world. Two notable runners up are Japan’s iconic Mt Fuji (which has hotspots dotted around it) and the sacred mountain of Girnar Hill, a well travelled Jain and Hindu pilgrimage site in India that has wi-fi on its walking trails.

Widest wi-fi options

Travel-friendly Japan shares the bandwidth bounty with visitors like no other country. Whether you’re zipping on a bullet train, in a club, or crane spotting along an icy ravine, Tokyo has consistently ranked in the top three of many lists for fastest wi-fi cities in the world in recent years. Tokyoites were early adopters of consuming most of their media on mobile devices, and they naturally expect blazing speeds. They have the infrastructure to back it up.

Local trains often provide wi-fi with a quick email signup, and the usual wi-fi suspects are here with cafes, restaurants, thousands of convenience stores, hostels and tourist offices all giving away free access. Prepaid SIM cards for travellers with gigabytes of data are little surprise but having them available at the ubiquitous convenience stores makes for another easy way to get online. If that wasn’t enough, tourists can access free wi-fi from hundreds of thousands of hotspots across the country through two free apps: Travel Japan wi-fi and Japan Connected free wi-fi produced by mobile providers.

You can rent devices like the MiFi to take wi-fi with you anywhere you go © Anna Lindqvist / Getty Images

You can rent devices like the MiFi to take wi-fi with you anywhere you go © Anna Lindqvist / Getty Images

Battery-powered portables

Tools like the ‘MiFi’ or ‘wi-fi egg’ (for its goose-egg dimensions) are rechargeable-battery operated devices that will give you (and your friends) wi-fi wherever you can get a mobile signal. That means internet on your laptop or tablet on a ferry ride, isolated ocean cliff or remote ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), if you really need it. You can pick up and drop off a wi-fi egg from international airports; and plenty of hosts of sharing economy accommodation, such as AirBnB, provide a wi-fi egg because they don’t have landline internet to offer.

These devices are also increasingly popular in Korea and China, and are now available in France, Canada and the USA. Plans can cover a whole region so, for example, you can rent the one device and never be without wi-fi for a big Europe trip.

The most innovative internet cafes

While internet cafes have edged into obscurity throughout much of the world (other than high-intensity gamer dens), Japan continues to find innovative ways to keep this category going. The country boasts large internet cafes that double as manga libraries where you can peruse the comic library by the hour while drinking unlimited free refreshments.

Another popular use is renting private computer booths to sleep in, lying on thin mats. There are even on-site showers for rent. You have to get in quick on weekends when revellers who miss the last train home crash in an internet booth.

Subway station at Canary Wharf in London © Bim / Getty Images

Subway station at Canary Wharf in London © Bim / Getty Images

Posting pics from planes and trains

A growing number of airlines offer free wi-fi on board, letting you plan last minute trip details and chat to neglected friends. Free wi-fi is available on flights by JAL, Emirates, JetBlue, Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Nok Air. Some airlines such as Air China and Qantas only offer wi-fi on domestic flights, and China Air doesn’t allow phones to be used at all. If you need to continue online, there is a cheeky app, WiFox, that maps wi-fi passwords used in airport lounges around the world.

Wi-fi is getting added to public transport around the world. The London Underground, Toronto and New York subway systems have free wi-fi, but only at the stations. Cities like Buenos Aires and Hong Kong have wi-fi access from the comfort of your train seat.

Connecting on the go dominates in Mexico. Most internet users connect via wi-fi, not through wired connections. Expect even more ‘WhatsAppeando’ (WhatsApp-ing) soon – plans are in the works to bring wi-fi to all but one line of Mexico City’s metro system. Unlike in other countries, the capital’s 4.5 million+ daily passengers will be hooked up with wi-fi everywhere – at the 175 stations, on the platforms, on board, and even snaking through tunnels.

Fastest public wi-fi in the USA and Europe

In 2016 it was pretty little Chattanooga that had faster public internet than anywhere from sea to shining sea, according to dospeedtest.com. The small city of old converted train depots and mountain roads has faster internet even than San Francisco or Washington DC! For visitors to Chattanooga, you get the benefits of mountain life with walkable sights and plenty of outdoor activities, but without having to give up GPS maps and other travel friendly benefits of world-class public wi-fi.

Similarly, Europe boasts a surprising winner in the wi-fi race – Riga, that Baltic country of Latvia‘s capital, whose population adds up to only about two million, has emerged as a dark horse internet powerhouse in a continent full of tech powerhouses like London, Stockholm and Berlin.

Seoul, South Korea © Mlenny / Getty Images

Seoul, South Korea © Mlenny / Getty Images

Fastest connection in the world

Finally, the stat you’ve been waiting for: Seoul, South Korea has the fastest internet speeds in the world, reaching nearly 1.5 Gbps (dospeedtest.com). That is nearly 50% faster than average speeds in the USA or Europe. Seoul’s internet is affordable too, meaning visitors will find abundant free wi-fi driven by the fast fiber optic connections.

 

 

Nine travel resolutions and how to keep them

New year, new you, right? Well, maybe. If experience has taught us anything, it’s that bad habits are hard to break and most diets don’t last past January… but our wanderlust is here to stay.

These resolutions are not only achievable – they’re a joy to keep. So take your pick and make 2017 your best year of travel yet.

Dropping your bags in a new destination is a great feeling – especially when they weigh as much as you do © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Pack lighter

Next time you’re stuffing a pair of impractical shoes and a bumper-size shampoo into your bag, stop to consider the feelings of future you: the one sporting a sweaty back patch and a face riddled with regret. The “I’ll manage” attitude dissipates in a flurry of expletives as you drag your luggage up a broken escalator, straining your bicep and stubbing a toe in the process. Worth it? Not so much.

Stick to it: Downsize: restricting suitcase volume soon hinders overpackers. Prioritise: it’s OK to take three paperbacks if you’re willing to forgo the laptop. Enlist a ruthless packing buddy who won’t give in to the words ‘but I neeeeeed it!’.

Beautiful destinations don’t always equal beautiful pictures… but it helps © Jeff Schultz / Getty Images Beautiful destinations don’t always equal beautiful pictures… but it helps © Jeff Schultz / Getty Images

Take better pictures

Sick of returning home from a trip with thousands of hastily snapped images that you’ll never have the time to sift through and edit, let alone share? Whether you’re shooting for social media, an online portfolio or the family album, investing a little time and effort can take your creations from amateur to incredible.

Stick to it: Read up on how to take a decent smartphone snap; enrol on a photography course; join a photographer’s meetup while you’re on the road; or take a tour that combines travel and tuition.

‘I so regret going on that safari’ said no one ever © Buena Vista Images / Getty Images ‘I so regret going on that safari’ said no one ever © Buena Vista Images / Getty Images

Stop putting it off

Family, finances, your career… even fear. There are plenty of factors that prevent people from travelling – but when valid reasons become comfortable alternatives to taking a risk, it’s time for a reality check. You have one life on this planet. Stop making excuses and start making plans.

Stick to it: Whether you long for a round-the-world extravaganza or simply a weekend away, it’s not going to land on your lap. Identify your true barriers to travel and tackle them head on. Strapped for cash? Start saving. Option paralysis? Consult the experts. Worried what your boss will think? Propose a trip that will boost your résumé.

Lack of phone signal can be liberating on your travels © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images Lack of phone signal can be liberating on your travels © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Learn to unplug

See it, share it. Try it, tweet it. The impulse to reach for your smartphone can be near impossible to resist, even on the road – but just as technology seems to have rewired our brains to crave constant connection, travel can be the ultimate antidote.

Stick to it: Can’t go cold turkey? Minimise distractions by deleting email apps and disabling social media notifications. Rediscover the joy of writing postcards. Keep a travel journal. Go for a walk without the safety net of Google Maps… and see where you end up.

Do your bit to protect creatures like this © Betty Wiley / Getty Images Do your bit to protect creatures like this © Betty Wiley / Getty Images

Travel responsibly

As global tourist numbers continue to increase (1.2 billion international arrivals recorded in 2015 and counting, according to the UN), understanding the impact our travel choices have on the planet has never been more important. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to go green.

Stick to it: You know the drill: steer clear of plastic bottles; take public and overland transport where possible; choose ethical tour operators who respect wildlife and give back to local communities; reduce or offset your carbon emissions (calculate your footprint at carbonindependent.org).

You don’t need to travel far to recharge… but it helps © massimo colombo / Getty Images You don’t need to travel far to recharge… but it helps © massimo colombo / Getty Images

Use your time off wisely

It’s easy to fritter away precious paid leave on family events and close-to-home happenings, leaving little time for escapism. But this makes it tough to return to work feeling refreshed – and worse still, you’re no closer to seeing the world than you were last year.

Stick to it: Make no mistake: you earned your days off, so take them – every last one. Plan in advance; if you prefer regular short trips, get them booked in early. Capitalise on national holidays, adding a day or two either side for extra-long breaks. Alternatively, have that chat with your manager about using your leave in bulk for that three-week trip to Southeast Asia

Chances are you’ll fascinate the locals as much as they fascinate you © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet Chances are you’ll fascinate the locals as much as they fascinate you © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

Engage with the locals

The dream: gaining true insight into ‘real’ local culture. The reality: befriending an international crew of fellow travellers on Facebook and coming home with an ‘authentic’ souvenir made in China.

Stick to it: Let’s face it: it can take years to unravel the complexities of foreign cultures. But there are ways to increase your chances of having a meaningful encounter. Brush up on your language skills; you’d be surprised how far ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can take you. With the sharing economy showing no signs of slowing down, it’s easier than ever to find homestays, cooking classes and local tour guides.

Durian: how bad can it be? Try it to find out! © Jim Purdum / Getty Images Durian: how bad can it be? Try it to find out! © Jim Purdum / Getty Images

Get out of your comfort zone

Travel is a simple yet effective way to shake up your status quo – but even seasoned adventurers can get stuck in a rut.

Stick to it: Make this year the year you mix up your travel style. Too shy to go solo? Dare to go it alone, or join a group tour for ready-made companions. Over planner? Tear up the itinerary and see what happens when you wing it. Stick to the mantra: ‘say yes more’.

You'll be surprised what you find when you look closely © David Hill / Getty Images You’ll be surprised what you find on your own doorstep © David Hill / Getty Images

Explore your own backyard

More confident sharing tips on the best restaurants in Bangkok or Bilbao than your nearest city? So often seduced by the lure of faraway places, we travel addicts often lose sight of the gems right under our noses.

Stick to it: Buy a guidebook to your local area to see your ‘hood from a visitor’s perspective, including the touristy attractions you’ve never made time for. Try out that new cafe or bar that you often overlook in favour of reliable old haunts. Heck, you could even start a blog about your area.

 

Thanks to Lonely Planet Deputy Editor Emma Sparks

17 Epic Places You Never Thought To Travel, But Should

“Be a traveller, not a tourist, in 2017”, say HuffPost.

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Paris? Been there. London? Done that. No offense to those storied standbys, but 2017 is a time to break out of your travel bubble and try someplace you’ve never thought to visit before.

Travel teaches us invaluable lessons we can’t learn in school. It expands our worldview. It pushes us to be better, stronger, more empathetic human beings. And these 17 places, in no particular order, are where that magic is going to happen this year. Some of them can be experienced in the lap of luxury, while others are for only the most adventurous souls. But all of them have the potential to be the best trip you’ve ever taken.

1. South Korea

Don’t let its northern neighbour scare you off: South Korea is full of adventurous travellers’ delights like national parks, mountains and islandsSki resorts here are top-notch, as some are preparing to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. For a more urban feel, try Korean BBQ in Seoul or chill out in Busan, a coastal city.

Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Geoffrey Schmid via Getty Images

 

Seoraksan National Park is the proud site of South Korea’s third-highest mountai. It also features hot springs, temples and jagged rock formations.

Locals vacation on Jeju Island for its beaches, outdoor spas and spine-tingling lava tube tours.

cozyta via Getty Images

 

Changdeokgung Palace, a 15th-century royal villa in Seoul, is a UNESCO world heritage site. Builders expertly designed the complex to accommodate the uneven terrain at the foot of a mountain peak.

Sungjin Kim via Getty Images

 

Cable cars haul skiers at what is now Deogyusan Resort, where hot springs await after a day on the slopes.

2. Mauritius

Mauritius is delicious. This tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean offers up a low-key vibe and endless turquoise waters perfect for sports like wind and kitesurfing. You can also sample local rum and street food or explore churches, temples, mosques and lighthouses from Mauritius’ rich history as a colonial trade hub.

Sapsiwai via Getty Images

 

Le Morne Brabant is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site that serves as “an exceptional testimony to… resistance to slavery.” The mountain’s forbidding cliffs hid runaway slaves known as maroons, and their oral traditions live on.

Liese Mahieu via Getty Images

 

It doesn’t get better than this.

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This is the Seven Coloured Earths in Chamarel, where naturally occurring sands of different colours form unique striped dunes.

Bon Espoir Photography via Getty Images

 

Above is a shopping center in the capital of Port Louis. English, French, and Mauritian Creole are the most commonly spoken languages in Mauritius, while Hinduism and Christianity are the top two religions.

3. Kazakhstan

The world’s ninth-largest country is not just for Borat: Fans of architecture, city tours and wilderness explorations will feel right at home in this little-explored corner of the earth. Start in Almaty, the biggest city, for clothing markets and upscale restaurants. Then, venture out to the Tian Shan mountains and hike sacred forests where many modern fruit crops were first cultivated.

huseyintuncer via Getty Images

 

Astana has been called the “world’s weirdest capital city,” in part because it hardly existed 20 years ago. CNN reports the area was “an empty patch of land… best known as a former gulag prison camp for the wives of Soviet traitors” before it was declared the new capital in 1997, sparking the quick rise of a futuristic skyline.

Leonid Andronov via Getty Images

 

Almaty’s wooden Ascension Cathedral was constructed without nails between 1904 and 1907, and is one of the only buildings in the city to survive a 1911 earthquake. Used for state and public purposes after the Russian Revolution, it was returned to the Russian Orthodox church in the 1990s.

AlesiaBelaya via Getty Images

 

Big Almaty Lake sits in the Tian Shan mountains. The western Tian Shan range stretches into China and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, in part for its biodiversity.

ekipaj via Getty Images

 

The city of Aktau, a hub for the oil industry, sits on the Caspian Sea and is a popular spot among locals for swimming.

4. Cyprus

This lush Mediterranean island sat under the rule of many ancient empires, and it shows: A trip here might include visits to a Byzantine monastery, a mosque or the tombs of high-ranking Hellenistic and Roman officials, which are part of a larger UNESCO world heritage site. Oh, and did we mention the island’s postcard-perfect beaches?

Rosita So Image

 

In the port town of Kyrenia, you can take a boat cruise to swimming and snorkeling spots or visit a castle for a charming bird’s-eye view of the harbor.

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Limassol, Cyprus’ second-biggest city (and still a quaint one at that), has a lively bar and restaurant scene.

Kirillm via Getty Images

 

See remains of an ancient outdoor theater, villas and baths at Kourion, a former city-kingdom on the coast.

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away

 

Adorable Pissouri village is the place to go for horseback riding and pub-hopping. Don’t be fooled, though: The ocean and impeccable diving are still within reach.

5. Latvia

Did you know Latvia has white sand beaches? This Baltic Sea gem, formerly part of the Soviet Union, is full of little surprises and a slight Scandinavian flair. The capital, Riga, was named the European Capital of Culture in 2014, and roughly half of the country is made up of pristine, accessible natural ecosystems. Historical Old Towns, churches and castles abound.

Angel Villalba via Getty Images

 

Riga’s town hall square features the iconic House of the Blackheads, which was built in 1334, destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in 1999.

Sven Zacek via Getty Images

 

Above is the Gauja River, on the border between Estonia and Latvia. Its namesake national park holds more than 500 cultural and historical monuments.

Rihards via Getty Images

 

Not a bad place to spend a summer’s day! Latvia sits across the Baltic Sea from Stockholm, Sweden.

Federica Gentile via Getty Images

 

Kemeri National Park features a variety of wetlands, including the Great Kemeri Bog, which can be traversed by boardwalk.

6. Ecuador

Perched between Colombia and Peru on the Pacific, Ecuador has everything: mountains, beaches, rainforest, volcanos, hot springs, and the famous wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Once part of the Inca Empire, this dramatically beautiful land is steeped in both pre-Colombian and Spanish colonial culture and is perfect for cheap travellerstrek-happy adventurers and history lovers ― after all, Quito’s sprawling UNESCO-tapped city center is the colonial jewel of South America. (Bonus: Ecuador is on the dollar, so there’s no need to exchange currency.)

DC_Colombia via Getty Images

 

Above is a photo of Bartolome Island in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. The endemic species in this volcanic archipelago inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and both land and sea are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Maremagnum via Getty Images

 

The Chimborazo volcano is the highest mountain in Ecuador.

John & Lisa Merrill via Getty Images

 

The historic center of Cuenca is yet another of Ecuador’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The town still subscribes to the rigid planning guidelines with which it was founded in 1557.

Luis Davilla via Getty Images

 

Quito’s Jesuit Church of the Society of Jesus, informally known as la Compañía, has enough gold leaf inside to wow the most jaded travellers. The stunning baroque church also has a charming number of hidden nods to the local culture, including symbols of suns that salute Inca history and indigenous faces and plants worked into the ornate interior designs.

7. Samoa

This island nation ― not be confused with its equally awesome neighbour, American Samoa ― includes 10 islands brimming with volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforests, swimming holes and beaches. Journeying to a natural ocean blowhole or diving deep into a cave pool is just the beginning. Down-to-earth travellers will enjoy its lack of fancy resorts, too.

Michael Runkel / robertharding via Getty Images

 

Swimmers hop into To Sua Ocean Trench, part of a larger area with natural rock pools and blowholes.

Tim Jordan Photography via Getty Images

 

Perfect water awaits you on Upolu Island’s southwest coast.

Michael Runkel via Getty Images

 

Papapapaitai Falls is about as impressive as waterfalls get: This showstopper tumbles into a giant gorge. Continue down the Cross Island Road for more falls, swimming holes and picnic spots.

David Kirkland / Design Pics via Getty Images

 

Upolu Island has plenty of beachfront hotels and ecolodges to maximize your time on the warm white sand.

8. Uruguay

Uruguay doesn’t get as much attention as neighbouring Argentina and Brazil, but this polished, progressive paradise on the Atlantic has a pinch of European flair and is well worth a visit. Experience gaucho culture on a ranch of rolling hills, take to the surf at Punta del Diablo, or party the night away in the clubs at Punta del Este.

Richard I’Anson via Getty Images

 

Stroll the cosmopolitan streets of Montevideo, including the famous Plaza Independencia.

MIGUEL ROJO via Getty Images

 

The rambling, eccentric Casapueblo resort in Punta Ballena was built by late Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, who was inspired by the mud nests of native hornero birds.

fotoquique via Getty Images

 

The resort town of Punta del Este is known as a place to party, but the public art deserves a hand, too.

Mr.Lomein via Getty Images

 

Uruguay’s interior hills are rich in gaucho culture. Book a rural lodge and explore the beautiful countryside on horseback.

9. Namibia

First-time visitors to Africa should start here, in the world’s oldest desert, to experience the thrill of feeling like the last tourist on Earth. Considering its vast selection of wildlifenational parks, shipwrecks and larger-than-life sand dunes, Namibia somehow remains awesomely uncrowded. Many cities and towns have a distinctly German feel ― complete with German restaurants and colonial architecture ― due to years under European rule.

Digital Vision. via Getty Images

 

Zebras drink at a waterhole in Etosha National Park, which offers various epic safaris.

pilesasmiles via Getty Images

 

Ludertiz, a confusingly colonial harbour town, includes an old Lutheran church and bustling village shops that make it feel like anywhere but Africa.

Daniel Osterkamp via Getty Images

 

The quiver tree, a common sight in Southern Namibia, stands tall in a nature park known as Giant’s Playground.

Adrian Carr via Getty Images

 

Off-roaders sit ready to explore the desert’s massive sand dunes, which also make for a daring day hike.

10. Guatemala

Mayan ruins play a starring role in Guatemala. Deep in the jungle, Tikal National Park is a lush playground of plazas, temples and dwellings that are well over 1,000 years old. Equally gorgeous are Guatemala’s active volcanoes, cascading lagoons and the Caribbean-blue Lake Petén Itzá. Even with all these natural wonders, a historic hotel-museum tops the list of places to visit nationwide.

SimonDannhauer via Getty Images

 

From the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D., Mayans inhabited what is now Tikal National Park. Current residents include jaguars, howler monkeys and more than 60 species of bats.

Ben Pipe Photography via Getty Images

 

Parque Central is a popular outdoor gathering place in Antigua, a city in the highlands.

SimonDannhauer via Getty Images

 

At Lake Petén Itzá, the blue water is perfect for sunsets and swimming with the locals.

Laura Grier via Getty Images

 

Daredevils can hike or camp near a handful of active volcanos in Guatemala’s rugged wilderness, though be careful to do so at the right time of year.

11. Papua New Guinea

One look at the water should make it, ahem, clear that this is a paradise. The U.S. State Department cautions that due to crime, an organized tour booked through a travel agency is the best way to explore this stunningly diverse and practically untouched country. (There’s little luxury involved, but it’s a trip of a lifetime.) Try a trekking tour along the rugged, mountainous Kokoda Track or journey to a sing-sing festival, at which Papua New Guineans display their many unique tribal cultures through music and dance.

David Kirkland / Design Pics via Getty Images

 

White sand beaches and few interruptions are hallmarks of the New Ireland Province.

David Kirkland / Design Pics via Getty Images

 

Capital Port Moresby is beautiful from the air, though its crime rate calls for sensible precautions. Infrastructure is virtually non-existent outside PNG’s major cities ― another reason to book a tour rather than travelling on your own.

Michael Runkel / robertharding via Getty Images

 

Local tribes celebrate a sing-sing in the Highlands. Some 836 indigenous languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea, most by fewer than a thousand speakers each.

Jeff Rotman via Getty Images

 

Of course, Papua New Guinea boasts excellent snorkelling and diving.

12. Newfoundland, Canada

Why Newfoundland? Here, east coasters can kayak with icebergs without taking a long flight to Greenland or Alaska and beyond. Then there’s 18,000 miles of unspoiled coastline with some 200 walking trails, plus the 22 species of whales that pass through Newfoundland and Labrador between May and September. Add in dramatic, glacier-carved fjords, and this part of Canada is truly a dream for nature lovers who prefer their international travel over-easy.

Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst / Design Pics via Getty Images

 

Icebergs arrive from the Arctic each spring to places like Trinity Bay, above. Check the map of “Iceberg Alley,” then book a boat or kayak or car to experience them up close.

David Doubilet via Getty Images

 

We really can’t get enough of Gros Morne National Park, which, in addition to cool neon jellyfish, contains towering fjords you can tour by boat.

valleyboi63 via Getty Images

 

The Fort Amherst historical site in St. John’s honors Colonel William Amherst, who recaptured the area from the French in 1762.

CHare Photography

 

Fall in Newfoundland is not too shabby. This is the Humber River in autumn.

13. Romania

Dracula’s homeland oozes eeriness and intrigue: The country has emerged from its Communist past to the delight of travellers who come to explore its medieval towns and ornate castles, including the one where fiction’s scariest bloodsucker once lived. Beyond the charming cobblestone streets, you’ll find adventurous alpine hikes through the towering Carpathian Mountains and all-inclusive beach resorts on the Black Sea coast.

RossHelen via Getty Images

 

The Black Church, with its interior walls adorned with Turkish carpets, is the star of Brasov, a popular medieval town at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.

Walter Bibikow via Getty Images

 

Corvin Castle in Transylvania features about 50 rooms of medieval art. It’s known as the most impressive Gothic castle in the country.

Christian Adams via Getty Images

 

It can take all day to drive the hairpin turns of Transfagarasan Road, which connects the provinces of Transylvania and Walachia through the mountains. Thanks to a gentle gradient, you can even bike it if you dare.

danieldiaconu

 

Bucharest, Romania’s capital, is known for high energy and good food. Socialist and Art Nouveau architecture coexist here, and the nightlife is some of Eastern Europe’s best.

14. Laos

Even backpackers who have “seen it all” in Thailand and Cambodia will be awestruck in Laos. Stunning waterfalls, soaring mountains and blazing green rice fields are best enjoyed at the Laotian locals’ decidedly slow pace of life. Take a break from zip-lining and cave kayaking to join a yoga retreat or help out on an organic farm. The cuisine ― think sticky rice, papaya salad and fresh fish ― is worth savoring, too.

elmvilla via Getty Images

 

A hot air balloon flies over Vang Vieng, a jungle town and magnet for backpackers.

chrisinthai via Getty Images

 

Kuang Si Falls are a refreshing ― but cold! ― place to swim. Prepare for the hike in, and look out for hidden pools along the way.

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Terraced rice fields overlook a village in Mu Cang Chai.

VuCongDanh via Getty Images

 

Buddha Park in Vientiane is probably the most stunning sculpture park you’ll ever see.

15. Azerbaijan

“Untapped” may be the best way to describe this coastal country between Iran and Russia. Start in the capital of Baku, whose Old City has UNESCO world heritage status as a rare example of ancient architecture. Then, move out to explore quaint rural villages at the base of the Great Caucasus mountains. Former Peace Corps volunteers have set up a network of local homestays to help visitors enjoy the country’s outer fringes, where paved roads are scarce but the land is lush.

railelectropower via Getty Images

 

Baku mixes old architecture with glittering 21st-century towers on the Caspian Sea.

JTB Photo via Getty Images

 

The Government House is just one of many historic monuments to see in Baku.

Mark Harris via Getty Images

 

Baku also offers museums, theaters, libraries and an opera house. Treat yourself to a balcony room at the glimmering Four Seasons Hotel.

habrda via Getty Images

 

High in the mountains, Xinaliq is home to friendly shepherds who can point you in the right direction for adventurous hikes.

16. Slovenia

Croatia’s been a hot travel destination for a few years now, but don’t overlook its charming neighbour to the north. The snowy peaks of the Julian Alps are the dramatic backdrop for Slovenia’s storybook Lake Bled, while outdoor restaurants line the riverwalk in the friendly capital city Ljubljana and the sprawling Postojna Cave is a dramatic diversion. (Pro tip: You’ll likely save a few dollars by flying into Venice, Italy, rather than Ljubljana ― it’s not far over the border.)

Matthew Williams-Ellis / robertharding via Getty Images

 

The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation overlooks Ljubljana’s famous Triple Bridge, a lively spot at night.

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Above you’ll see Lake Bled in the summer. Swim or row in the crystal-clear lake, dine at Bled Castle perched high on a cliff, or stroll the equally Instagram-worthy Vintgar Gorge.

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A tour boat on the Ljubljanica River in Ljubljana.

RossHelen via Getty Images

 

The town of Piran is a “luminescent pearl” on the Adriatic Sea.

17. The Seychelles

Will and Kate honeymooned here, so you know the views are fit for royalty. This collection of around 115 islands in the Indian Ocean is basically a beach-y theme park, with inlets of every size and type. It could take weeks to see them all. Thank goodness there are both private island villas and casual B&Bs to stay in.

Jon Arnold via Getty Images

 

With its pink sand and smooth boulders, Anse Source D’Argent is regularly praised as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Get there early in the day before other fanatics arrive.

SimonDannhauer via Getty Images

 

The beaches at Beau Vallon are some of the most highly trafficked in the Seychelles, but they’re still pleasantly low-key.

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From above, Mahe Island’s jungle flora and coastal towns shine in all their glory. Aside from the usual lineup of tucked-away beaches, the island’s forested interior is a hiker’s paradise.

FilippoBacci via Getty Images

 

St. Pierre is the teensy-tiny islet of your wildest dreams. Seriously.

 

 

The 12 Best Travel Sites and Apps You Need Right Now

Planning just got WAY easier!

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to start organising your next life-changing trip. But with so many options to choose from and so little time to plan, you’re going to need some assistance.

Behold the 2017 update of 12 of our favourite travel sites and associated apps, popular with travel bloggers and backpackers alike, these handpicked by Suzy Strutner, Associate Lifestyle Editor at The Huffington Post.  They will take care of every part of the process, from finding the cheapest flight to planning your day-to-day activities, along with needs you didn’t even know you had. Check ’em out:

Sygic Travel

You’ll get (happily) lost in this mesmerizing map, which lays out attractions by city. Click on each one for a description and a list of tours you can book on the spot.

Rome2Rio

What’s the most efficient way to get from Wichita to Thailand? Whether by plane, train or city bus, Rome2Rio gives you every possible option for travel from point A to point B.

Utrip

Utrip is the personal concierge you’ve always wanted, but never wanted to pay for. Tell the site your destination, budget, and how much you care about factors like dining, history, shopping, and saving money. Then, watch it create a day-by-day itinerary tailored to your interests.

TripHobo

While Utrip excels at planning activities, TripHobo lets you plan flights and book hotels, along with suggestions for your day-by-day schedule. Use both sites to plan your trip to a T.

Foursquare

For those that prefer a more DIY approach to activity planning, Foursquare offers a way to find out what people love in a given town. Make your search as specific as you like — glass noodles on a patio in Miami, for example — and scroll through a neat, tidy list of user-generated photos and reviews. It’s like Yelp, without the page-long rants.

Momondo

Travel bloggers rave about this visually pleasing search engine, which sorts flights by price, travel time and bang for your buck, using all the toggling options you could ever want to find the best deal.

Roadtrippers

Looking to avoid another boring stop at McDonald’s on your drive? Plug in your road trip for an interactive map of restaurants, attractions, hotels, natural wonders and “weird stuff” along your route.

WeTravel

Getting flakey friends to commit to group trips can be tough. But they won’t be able to resist the pull of WeTravel, which lets you make a beautiful landing page for your trip with all the details. Send your link to potential travel buddies, then collect a deposit online to confirm that they’re coming along for the fun.

Google Flights

You just can’t list the best travel sites without mentioning the many perks of Google Flights. Perhaps its best feature is the explorable map, which shows flight prices from your home airport to destinations around the world. Take your pick!

SeatGuru

Never accidentally book a seat without a TV again: SeatGuru maps out every seat on your plane with details on each one’s entertainment options, legroom measurements and special considerations, like seats that fail to recline or are way too close to the lavatory.

FlightAware

This nifty airplane location tracker is most helpful for planning your trip to the airport: Search your flight number to see real-time delays, gate swaps and changes to your estimated arrival time. You can also track a friend’s flight before picking them up, or check a flight’s on-time record to avoid booking those with frequent delays.

TripIt

Like a personal assistant, TripIt keeps details for your flights, hotels, car rentals, restaurant reservations and other travel plans in one clean, convenient place, so you can access them with ease.

 

 

 

 

FIVE Essential Tips to Make Holiday Travel STRESS FREE (And Maybe Even ENJOYABLE)…

According to Gilbert Ott at GodSaveThePoints, travel around the holidays is a lot like those singing game shows we all seem to be hooked on. There are some people who really are pros who make it look easy, there are lots of mediocre probably shoulda stayed home folks that get by, and then there are flocks of people who make the airport a living hell. Successful holiday travel means using every resource at your disposal to stay on top of security lanes, fast track yourself, find some peace and comfort and know when things are going to be delayed before anyone else…

Apps Are A Great Head Start…

Whatever airline you end up flying with, it’s a good idea to have their app. Airline apps pump out gate changes, flight delays, cancellations and rebooking options directly to your phone. Aside from the airline’s own app, we absolutely love TripItPro, which is like having a conductor effortlessly display everything you need from the start of your trip to the finish, even coordinating different reservations. GateGuru is another must have, which estimates security wait times, amongst great maps of the go to food spots and offerings in each terminal. If you’re unsure of your destination, Rome2Rio is also fantastic, showing you how to get from anywhere to anywhere, anywhere in the world. For more great apps, check out our post featuring… more great apps.

Monitor Sneaky Schedule Changes, Double Confirm Reservations…

If you book far in advance there’s a fair likelihood that the airline will move your flight to a different time. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes, but other times it can be hours. If it’s the latter, you’re entitled to call and ask about making some changes for free. The best way to monitor changes is to plug your reservation into CheckMyTrip.com in the days before your flight. Not only is it a great way to see that your reservation is confirmed correctly in the airline’s software, it will show any updated times, saving you from the stress, yelling and crying if you find out your flight left hours ago.

Save Time At Check In + Security Lanes…

You can save hours in security lanes by planning ahead, or paying a few bucks. Many airports sell fast track security passes to the general public, while others have special fast lanes for those who enroll in TSA PreCheck or are elite frequent flyers. If you are a frequent flyer, it never hurts to try to book your holiday travel with the airline you hold elite status, which allows faster check in, security and boarding for everyone in your reservation. If you don’t have any, it’s never to late to start

Sometimes First Class Is Only $20 More (Or Cheaper)…

Most holiday travelers are leisure travelers. The thing with leisure travelers is that they don’t even glance at the First Class column when booking a ticket. That’s a huge mistake. In some instances First Class can be sold cheaper than economy on packed flights, and in many instances, especially shorter flights it may only be the difference in $20 or so. That $20 would get you priority check in, fast track security and a comfy seat with some free booze and maybe even a warm cookie once you escape the chaos of the terminal. Just this week, for a couple days, economy to London cost more than business class.

Some Credit Cards Reimburse You For Delays…

Book with one credit card, get nothing during a delay or cancellation. Book with the other, get your new clothes, transportation and meals taken care of, on the house, just for being a loyal cardmember when things go wrong. We have a list of the best offerings, some of which kick in after only 3-4 hours of delay. When things go wrong and everyone is waiting in line for a hand out, you can just head to a cab and get everything you need, reimbursed with ease too. If you’re flying to or from the European Union, don’t forget that delays not due to weather over 3 hours should get you a refund up to $600!

 

 

Never in Japan, always in the U.S and sometimes in Australia: Where Brits abroad should tip and how much to give

Finally, The Money Shop reveals all!


Tipping cultures constantly cause awkward moments for British holidaymakers.

Because etiquette varies so much from country to country, it can be extremely confusing working out how much to tip – and under what circumstances.

Luckily, help is at hand, because a new infographic lays out the answers, country by country. Read on to discover when and where service is expected to be rewarded.

Tipping cultures constantly cause awkward moments for British holidaymakers

Tipping cultures constantly cause awkward moments for British holidaymakers

Compulsory tipping

When visiting the below countries, it’s important to remember to tip your server, according to themoneyshop.com, which drew up the infographic.

USA: Tips are an essential part of many service workers’ incomes in America. Generally, the minimum wage is much lower as it’s expected it will be increased by tips, so tipping is viewed as a necessity, with 15-25 per cent considered as standard. Even a taxi fare will incur an extra 20 per cent for tips.

Canada: Canada’s tipping culture is similar to the USA’s. They are officially ‘optional’ but it is culturally expected. Unlike the USA though, service workers don’t rely on tips as they are paid a higher wage.

Portugal: Wages are often considerably lower than other European countries in Portugal, so 10 per cent tips are customary.

In some countries tipping will actually cause offence with your server

In some countries tipping will actually cause offence with your server

The polite tipper

Within these countries, tips are considered polite and a goodwill gesture, but are in no way expected.

Australia: Unlike the USA and Canada, Australia doesn’t have a consistent tipping culture. It will be appreciated when it happens (usually in restaurants and taxis) but it’s completely voluntary.

Thailand: As a general rule, tipping isn’t expected in Thailand. Tipping is more common in more expensive establishments in comparison with smaller businesses and poorer service staff who will appreciate a small tip.

Belgium: Although tipping is slightly more common in the south (French-speaking) parts of Belgium, service staff workers are generally well-paid and so tipping is uncommon.

Keep the purse strings tied

When visiting a country from the below list, leaving a tip may actually insult your server. It’s best to leave with a simple thank you to show your appreciation for great service.

Italy: Tips are often not expected as service is always included on bills. It may even be seen as offensive in some situations as it implies lower status.

Japan: Similarly to Italy, tips are not expected and may even cause embarrassment to your server. In the few situations where tipping is expected – usually for tour guides – it’s advised to put the tip in an envelope before giving it to the recipient with both hands.

Switzerland: All-inclusive bills that cover service were introduced over 35 years ago, meaning that tips have practically been abolished. It will not be expected for you to tip in Switzerland.

WHY KNOWING WHEN TO TIP IS IMPORTANT

Caroline Walton, Chief Customer Insight Officer at The Money Shop, said: ‘Having a good idea of the tipping culture of your holiday destinations means that you are better able to budget how much currency you’ll need.

‘Although tipping is largely voluntary, it is often expected from tourists in places like the USA and Canada which can be confusing. Keeping change in a separate purse or estimating how much you’ll need before you leave means you won’t be stuck when it comes to paying the final bill.’

NINE Carry On ESSENTIALS No Traveller Should EVER Leave Home Without…

From GodSaveThePoints, founding editor Gilbert Ott’s choice of must-haves…


This is the part where I list wallet, phone, passport and you click away. Just kidding. One of the best ways to learn how to enjoy travel is to travel constantly and occasionally be faced with less than enjoyable experiences. Ok, maybe even some nightmare experiences. Never again. For maximum enjoyment, regardless of how many flights are cancelled or delayed these are ten things no traveller should ever leave home without…

Charger And/Or Universal Plug

Want to stress out and annoy people? Let your phone or laptop die. If you want to make friends and relax, you’ll want to bring a charger with you. Not only do most planes now offer USB ports to charge on board, you’ll be able to charge in the terminal. If you bring an international socket adaptor, you’ll be on top of things wherever your jet setter life takes you. God forbid the world go a day without a status update or Instagram snap!

Lip Balm Or Chapstick

Without sounding like a primadonna, lip balm is perhaps the most important thing for a happy plane journey. Air on planes lacks the quality and humidity of air outside of a flying metal tube, your throat gets dry, your lips get dry and you feel terrible, like really terrible. I love Carmex, which seems to be most effective in the pursuit of avoiding looking like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

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Eye Mask And Ear Buds

A flight involves dings, flashing lights, sound systems, opening window blinds and all sorts of things that sound like a night club, but even less fun than a night club. You have no control over the rowdy environment around you so you might as well control what’s on you. Never board a plane without an eye mask or ear buds, allowing you to create your own happy place, wherever you’re sitting.

A Change Of Clothes

No one thinks it will happen to them until it does. Airline loses your luggage and you’re stuck in two day old clothes which have weathered airports, airplanes and utter chaos. I once spent two days in ripped jeans without a change of clothes and wasn’t even surprised when people began to hand me spare change. Even if it’s basic, bring a change of clothes just in case that worst case scenario happens, which it does all the time.

Copy Of Itinerary + Passport

I know, I know, you probably have your itinerary on your phone, but sometimes apps require an internet or cell connection to pull it up and that just won’t cut it for immigration agents or the award winning smilers behind the airline desk. Immigration agents often want to see return travel before they add another stamp to your passport so have a copy of your itinerary handy. While you’re at it, make a copy of the photo page of your passport, it’s your only ticket to a speedy recovery if it’s ever lost or stolen abroad. It happens, all the time.

Comfy Headphones

Put on some Marvin Gaye and lose yourself, just not too much. Any jet setter in the making needs comfortable headphones. You see, after a few hours those cheap and cheerful buds start to become painful and no one wants to be in any more pain than they already are on board an airplane. Get some comfy in ear or over ear headphones that drown out sound and feel like a pillow and bring an extra cheap pair just in case one breaks…

Travel Toothbrush + Toothpaste

There’s beer breath, cheese breath and then there’s a whole new level of breath purgatory known as airplane breath, where your dried out throat and mouth mutinies. Save yourself and those around you by bringing a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen up on the flight and after. If you haven’t been doing this, you now know why you have no friends.

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Plane Socks, Plane Shoes Or Both

Planes really are a strange form of reality television in themselves and I’m not trying to turn up the drama advocating changing your socks in public. Discretely changing into a comfy pair of slippers or socks however is brilliant. Bring a comfy loose pair of socks or slippers to help circulation and comfort on your flight, just make sure to shower beforehand so that no one suffers…

A Pen. Yes, A Pen.

Asking a cabin crew member for their favorite pen is like asking a mother lion to borrow their cub. It’s a bad idea and though it’s amusing for others to watch, I wouldn’t recommend it. Especially on international flights, bring your own pen and save yourself the hassle of begging, borrowing and dealing to fill out those little forms. You’ll thank me later.

 

 

You’re NOT As Far From AMAZING Travel As You Think…

Sometimes you come across a website that does it all – great tips, great blogs, great people.  GodSaveThePoints is one of those: I strongly suggest you sign up with these guys for the lowdown on great deals for airline tickets, hotels, points, miles, upgrades and much much more.

Here’s a great Beginner’s Guide with all the links you need.


You’re here because you’ve seen the stories, you’ve read the news and now you know there are opportunities to unlock some incredible travel experiences without spending an outrageous amount of money. Whether it’s just finding great flight and hotel deals, using miles to fly first class, getting upgrades, making travel more comfortable, or just getting what you’re owed when it goes wrong, we’ve got it all covered. We know that a lot of the terminology, concepts and ideas tossed around seems like a foreign language and it’s our goal to make you feel like a fluent speaker as possible. After all, we’ve experienced more than $100,000 worth of free flights and hotels in the last couple years just from doing every day things, some without leaving the house let alone traveling. These are tricks worth knowing. We have great starter posts in each category below, so scroll away!

Starter Tips For Collecting + Earning Miles

For an in depth guide, click HERE.

Starter Tips For Finding Cheap Flight Deals

How to Make Your Travel Meaningful

Love this blog post by Dave and Deb, aka the Planet D.  They have leapt up a mighty 13 places in this quarter’s Top Travel Blogs – and deservedly so.  In this post, they discuss how they have always tried to enrich their trekking experiences – “Be it travelling responsibly, raising money for a cause, stopping at sanctuaries or projects, and interacting with the locals, there are many ways to enrich your travels while making your life and other people’s lives better.”


 

how-to-make-your-travels-meaningfulWhat is “meaningful” travel?

To us, meaningful travel is when travel enriches your life in some way. That could be done by focusing on making your own life better by discovering and learning new things about the world and yourself.  It can also be making the lives richer for the people you meet, the communities you visit and the environments you explore. Meaningful travel is about being aware of your footprint, and doing what you can to help the places that you visit.

When we started ThePlanetD.com we originally focused on changing our lives by cycling through Africa, but it evolved to helping others. We decided to ride for Plan Canada and raise funds and awareness for the “Because I am a girl campaign.” We stopped at projects along the way to see the work they did and share it with our readers. The trip may have started with us wanting to do something epic in our travels, but it evolved to become a trip about discovery, education and helping others.

We’ve found that the more we learn about the world and the cultures we visit the more it enriches our lives. The more you give back, the more you feel fulfilled. When volunteering or helping others you expect nothing in return, but it ends up giving you so much. It is the greatest feeling to know that you are making the world a better place in your own little way.

How travel can be meaningful?

There are so many ways to make travel meaningful. While the first thought that comes to mind is to volunteer or to give money, thinking responsibly can make your travels more meaningful too. When we travel, we try to support the local economy by hiring local guides. When we land in a destination, we search for people who run their own companies and have their own small business. Just as we like to shop small and support small business in Canada, the same can be said for our travels. Small business makes the world go round and by shopping at local markets, hiring local guides and eating at small family run restaurants, you will be helping the economy of the place you visit and create a more meaningful travel experience for yourself. We have remained friends with many of our guides and had a more authentic local experience by keeping our travels local and away from the resorts and packaged tours.

Hire local guides and make new friends!

Why meaningful travel is beneficial

Not only does it help the communities that you visit, it also helps you. We’ve always said that travel is the best education anyone could have. It breaks down barriers, and strips away prejudice. It opens people’s minds and when you come home, you pass on your thoughts, observations and feelings about the places you visit.

As Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

So much of meaningful travel helps with sustainability too. When you volunteer or help with conservation, it keeps communities or wildlife reserves from being exploited. So much of meaningful travel is simply about being aware of your environment and respecting customs and culture.

Things to remember when considering “meaningful” travel…

  • Think about your impact. How are you affecting the community you visit.
  • Will your traveling there enrich their lives?
  • Will you have the opportunity to experience the culture, nature, environment? Or will you be isolated and cut off from truly experiencing the destination?

Meaningful travel is not as daunting as people think

When it comes to adventure travel, we always say start with baby steps. The same can be said when it comes to making your travels meaningful. It may be as easy as asking a local person at your destination where you can volunteer for a day, or where you can visit children or donate money to a school or organization.

Once you take that first step, you’ll learn and discover more opportunities.

Visiting a local school

Our first foray into more meaningful travel happened in 2003 in Cambodia. We were sitting on a beach and a man asked us if we could come to his class to speak English to his students for an afternoon. He said that while he can speak English, it helps to have the students hear a proper accent. It was one of the most fulfilling things we had ever done and it kick started our desire to do something wherever we went. We learned so much that day. We were humbled, inspired and moved by their stories and struggles. They enriched our lives as much as we helped them with their English.

Ways to Make your Travels Meaningful

Travel for a cause

When we did the Mongol Rally, we drove across 2 continents for the Christina Nobel Foundation. A foundation based in Mongolia that houses and educates orphaned and abandoned children. When cycling the continent of Africa we raised funds and awareness for Plan Canada. By being in the destinations, we could stop at projects and see where our money was going and how funds were being used. It gave our cause more of a purpose to put a human face to the charity. When we saw that they were benefitting directly from the money raised, we felt motivated to help more.

Children learn at new computers in Mongolia

Visit a Charity

It’s easy to find a project to help or visit when you are traveling. Talk to the local people and ask them for advice. In Sri Lanka, we met a tuk tuk driver named Ajith who became our friend. As we got to know him, we visited a charity that he started on his own to donate shoes to local school children. They’d otherwise be going to school bare foot in the jungle, but he raised funds to get them shoes and keeps working tirelessly to help the local economy.

Tuk Tuk Driver Ajith presents shoes to children in Sri Lanka

Our guide Makau, in Kenya started a project to empower his own village. We visited his family and friends and he is working to bring water to his village, empower women and give them the means to go to school and he got them a cement maker to build a new school.

When we traveled with Intrepid Travel we always stopped to visit one of their projects. for the Intrepid Foundation. In China we visited a school that helps handicapped children. If you choose your tour company wisely and you’ll travel responsibly, be immersed in the local culture and even visit some of their charity projects if you choose.

Going Local 

Hire Local Guides and shop and stay locally. When we climbed to Mount Everest Base Camp, Mount Kilimanjaro, Gunung Batur, and Mount Kinabalu, we hired local guides after we arrived in the country. It’s a great way to contribute to the local economy and to support small business and we made good friends doing it. We still talk to our guides from Everest and Kili. Plus because we travelled with people from the area, they cared about their footprint, were respectful of culture, and filled with information for us to learn about the destination.

Local guides Deep and Sher in Nepal

Shop Local – Local artisans make their money through tourism. Instead of buying at duty free or at your resort, go to the market and buy local. It’s cheaper and it’s handmade and authentic. Plus you get to meet the people.

Other Ideas 

Cooking Courses – Food is the best way to experiences culture and a cooking course is an amazing way to meet locals and learn about their way of eating. We’ve done cooking courses in China, Morocco, Thailand, Italy, Spain and Jordan and nearly every one of them takes you to the market to buy your fresh ingredients. This helps you support the local economy and mingle with the locals. We then normally go back to a private home or kitchen to learn how to prepare. It’s then a feast to enjoy!

Dave learns to cook authentic Chinese cuisine in China

Yoga Retreats – Yoga is not only amazing for well being and fitness, it’s popular around the world! Our best retreats have been when finding ones once we arrive in our destination. We spent a month in India with a Swami we met on a beach for $2 a class! While others booked their retreats in North American paying thousands of dollars to take a course from a Western Instructor, we had an authentic experience and learned a lot about spirituality and culture in India while supporting a local business.

Wildlife Conservation

Elephant Sanctuaries, conservation areas and national parks are a way to add meaning to your travels meaningful.  When local people see that animals bring tourist dollars, they’ll stop over hunting and start conservation. In India, the tiger is nearly extinct, but now they’re working hard to bring it back and National Parks are being set aside to keep them safe. In Sri Lanka and Thailand there are elephant organizations that are helping elephants live in peace. We visited an elephant orphanage in Kenya where orphans are reintegrated back into the wild.

Festivals

An amazing way to get to know local culture and meet people is to attend a festival. We’ve had some of our most memorable travel experiences when attending a celebration. From the annual pilgrimage up Adams Peak in Sri Lanka, to Thaipusam in Malaysia and Holi in India, it has added new meaning to our travels. Festivals help us to understand the beliefs and religions of countries we visit and helps us make new friends and meet new people.

There are countless ways to make your travels more meaningful. All you have to do is take the first step. Think about what you love and how you want to help and you too will be having a more fulfilling travel experience.

What way do you make your travels more meaningful…?

 

 

* STOP PRESS – ATM SKIMMER ALERT!! *

I have heard about these but never actually seen one in action.  Big props and thanks to Ben Tedesco and to Johnny Jet for sharing.

Ben, who works for a security software company, was on vacation recently with his family in Vienna when he spotted this credit card skimmer – in the city centre would you believe!  Crooks use these devices to get your card’s personal information and they usually involve a camera (one can be spotted in this video) so that they can then create a duplicate card.

WATCH AND LEARN!https://youtu.be/ll4f0Wim4pM

 Check out this youtube video as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvs67ypiZAg

7 Brilliant Hotel Room Hacks that’ll Make Anywhere Feel Like Home

Love these – courtesy of Huff Post  😀


Smart travellers, listen up!

DragonImages via Getty Images

Hotel rooms can be wildly luxurious, but they lack the creature comforts of a familiar place. Sometimes we wish we could just skip the pricey room service and make a sandwich from our own fridge, instead.

Enter these brilliant hotel-room hacks, which allow you to make the space your own while also solving some pesky problems (ew, dry air!). Check in and check them out.

1. Clip curtains together with a clothes hanger to keep your room dark

Flight attendants swear by this trick to get a good night’s rest.

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The Krazy Coupon Lady

2. Use heavy-duty clothespins as toothbrush holders

That way, you won’t have to occupy one of the precious few drinking glasses.

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

3. Use a dryer sheet as air freshener

Apply this popular dorm-room trick, which works great for rooms that smell less than fresh, or simply for making them smell more luxurious than they are.

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Sophie C

4. Charge your phone with the TV

Fun fact: Many hotel TVs have handy USB ports in the back, where you can conveniently plug in a phone cord.

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

5. Oh, and bring a power strip too

If you’re traveling with a group, it’s easy to run out of outlets quickly. Bring along a small, lightweight power strip to ensure everyone has space for their phones, hairdryers and laptops.

Prachob Champawong via Getty Images

6. Wrap up leftovers with a CLEAN shower cap

Turns out those free shower caps make great airtight covers for room service leftovers. Wrap ‘em up, and you’re good to go!

ShotShare via Getty Images

7. Turn your AC unit into a humidifier

Banish dry hotel-room air by wetting a towel and draping it near your air conditioning unit — you can use the ironing board for this — for a nice, soothing breeze. Ahh, just like home.

Jon Lovette via Getty Images

TEN Amazing Travel Apps To Maximize Your Next TRIP (And Travel Like A PRO)…

Gilbert Ott from Godsavethepoints originally wrote this article for Conde Nast Traveler.  I love it, so I share it here…   – Ned


There’s an app for that!

But seriously, just about every frustration you’ve ever had during your travels can be solved with one of these amazing apps. From booking, to killing time in the terminal, snapping a selfie to clear immigration, a transit guide to get from anywhere from anywhere and so much more, these apps make the journey, the arrival, the destination and everything in between perfect…

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GateGuru- Security Wait Estimator, Gate Change And Delay Notifier, Airport Guide…

http://gateguru.com

For those who want to master air travel with ease, this is your one stop app. When in transit, you’ll get up to the minute notifications about security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, amenities and more. Aside from keeping you in the know, the app will give you a simple, easy guide to all the shops and restaurants in your terminal with reviews too.

ROME2Rio- Point To Point Guide To Get Anywhere, With Prices…

http://rome2rio.com

Whether you’re in Rome, Rio or any other wanderlust city around the world, this brilliant app will get you navigating like a pro and probably save you some money at the same time. This free resource allows you to type in any starting point and destination, showing you exactly how to get from Point A to Point B as quickly and economically as possible. Train, plane, bus, bike, it’s all there…

LOLA- Futuristic One Message Travel Agent

http://lolatravel.com

Lola is the future of travel booking, where you send simple messages like “I need a flight to London and a hotel” in a Facebook Messenger style conversation to a super travel agent. The app uses a combination of artificial intelligence based on your travel profile and a helpful real live person to book your travel perfectly ever time, keeping in mind your individual tastes. It’s simple, fast and easy and most importantly, done in one tap…

Hipmunk-  Easy Trip Inspiration, Planning And Deals…

http://hipmunk.com

If you need travel inspiration and perhaps a great deal to make it happen, Hipmunk is your go to. The app offers easy recommendations like “beach”, “city break”, “ski” or “live music” before finding you the best possible deals for your selection all around the world. They even throw in a link to book everything at the best prices. You can be as flexible as “anytime this year” or super precise. They’ll even alert you if prices on your bucket list trip drop, for free…

TripIt-  Super Trip Organizer With Up To The Minute Notifications

http://tripit.com

Most trips involve booking quite a few separate pieces and no one wants to be the one holding up the line looking through emails to find a confirmation number. Fortunately, TripIt organizes all your itineraries and confirmations in one place, in a beautiful dashboard just by forwarding them to an email address. Not only will everything be there, you’ll get notifications about where your gate is and directions to things like the rental car area. Pretty nifty.

LoungeBuddy – Instant Access To Airport VIP Lounges For Everyone

http://loungebuddy.com

Raise your hand if you love long layovers and delays? Thought so. Using this exciting app you can turn delay chaos into a relaxing visit to a swanky airport lounge instantly, even when flying economy. Trade in the crowded terminal for some complimentary drinks, food, wifi, comfy seating areas and in some instances, even a shower. It’s pretty awesome.

Mobile Passport- Breeze Through Immigration With A Selfie

http://mobilepassport.us

For the selfie obsessed and those who just can’t bear another paper form, or another hour waiting to get another passport stamp, this is a dream come true. Without having to pay for a trusted traveler program like Global Entry, users can process their United States Immigration from their phone, using a selfie snap and a few taps on the electronic customs form. Easy, and yes, very fast.

SeatGuru- Color Coded Guide To Getting The Best Seat In Any Cabin

http://seatguru.com

Not every seat is created equal and that’s especially true when flying economy. If you’d like to grab a few extra inches of legroom or at the very least, a seat further from the busy lavatory, you’re going to want to check SeatGuru. The app shows you a map of every airplane with a traffic light color coded guide to the best and worst seats. Sometimes you don’t even need to pay extra to grab one of the best seats, thanks to this insider info.

AirHelp- Flight Tracker That Gets You Money If Your Flight Is Delayed Or Cancelled…

http://airhelp.com

AirHelp is a really easy way to find out if any flight you’ve taken in the last three years is eligible for compensation. Governments around the world have cracked down on brutal flight delays, requiring up to $600 per person for a delay. If a flight you’ve taken is eligible (which you can sync your inbox to find out) they process the whole thing, dealing with the airline and getting you your refund, minus their 25% cut for all the legwork..

Google Translate- Speak To Anyone In Any Language With Instant Voice Translation

https://translate.google.com/

Konichiwa, Bonjour. Never fear getting lost in translation again wherever you are, thanks to Google Translate. The app which has been helping travelers interact in just about every language for years, just by speaking into your phone and instantly having it translated to a foreign language  is now “offline” allowing you to use it even without phone service or roaming charges. Muy bien!

Award Wallet- All Your Points And Miles Balances And Info In One Place

http://awardwallet.com

We all keep hearing about frequent flyer miles and how they’re going to unlock amazing free travel, but we can’t seem to even unlock our frequent flyer accounts, let alone remember which ones we have. Never again! Award Wallet organizes all of your loyalty programs and account balances in one place. The premium version even keeps track of all your logins and expiration dates to ensure you never miss a mile…

 

 

 

The apps and gadgets EVERY traveller should own

Snazzy lounge passes, free calls from any location, a gizmo to find your lost suitcase: the sheer number of apps and devices out there designed to make your life ‘easier’ is frankly sometimes overwhelming.  But weed out the very best of them – particularly when it comes to the chaos of travel – and you might just wonder how you ever managed without.

Travel expert and founder of advice blog GodSaveThePoints has joined forces with MailOnline Travel to reveal the apps that will effortlessly streamline your next trip: from getting you deals, enabling free international calls and even nabbing the best seat on the plane.


MailOnline Travel counts down the very best travel apps to save you time, effort and money

Planning a trip

For every place you end up, there are hundreds of ways to get there.

Rome2Rio is a nifty website and app that shows you all of them, calculating the fastest and cheapest route and neatly displaying your options – planes, buses, coaches, trains, cycle routes, taxis – and their prices.

Rome2Rio is a nifty website and app which displays all your options in getting from A to B, by type of transport, speed and cost

It doesn’t just show you how to get from airport A to airport B, it will find you all the connecting routes on either side, so you’ll know the best way to actually get to your hotel after you land.

Quite often, having all your options on the table like this will save you good money in the planning phase.

Cheap plane tickets

There are plenty of good price comparison websites out there for identifying the cheapest tickets, but we all know how fast the prices rise and fall.

That’s because cut-price fares all have expiration dates. So in many a case, blink and you’ll miss it.

Google Flights now lets you know if a cut-price offer is about to expire, so you can get it while it lasts

To address this, Google Flights has just added a new feature to its comparison engine, which alerts you as to when a good deal is about to vanish, with information like ‘this fare expires tomorrow and prices are likely to rise’.

Which puts an end to the ‘shall I  book now or wait’ conundrum.

Coupon codes without the hunt

This rather genius app, dubbed Honey, is an ‘extension’ for your internet browser, and it’s free.

The Honey extension sits on your browser and automatically searches for valid coupon codes based on the sites you are looking at

Once installed it trawls the web quietly in the background to search for any valid promotional codes you might be able to apply for when booking a flight, hotel, car-hire – anything.

If it finds one, it will ask your permission to add the discount automatically when you pay. Why on earth would you say no?

Nab the best seat

When it comes to flying economy, not all seats are created equal.

If you want an aisle seat that’s not close to the bathrooms, for example, or a few extra inches of legroom at an emergency exit seat, you’ll be able to locate it on SeatGuru.

SeatGuru lets you enter your flight number and then tells you where the highest and lowest rates seats are on that aircraft          It also gives you information about the entertainment system and even the meals you can expect to be served.
The site uses a traffic light coded guide to highlight the best and worst-rated seats on any aircraft, using just your flight number.

It also gives you information about the entertainment system and even the meals you can expect to be served.

A virtual travel folder

You’ve booked your flights, and probably your transport and connections. Sometimes rounding up all the tickets and confirmation codes in one place can be a fiddle.

Enter Tripit, an app that accumulates all these details for you and presents you with a sleek on-screen itinerary including all the information you’ll need.

Tripit takes all your confirmation emails and presents you with a sleek on-screen itinerary          It also stores your various reward accounts

All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails to the Tripit address and let it do the rest.

It also notifies you as to your departure gate, and provides directions on how to get there.

Track your flight

App In The Air integrates with Tripit to import all your flight details, and then tracks the planes and keeps you updated about their status, even if you don’t have internet coverage.

          It also presents you with your travel statistics

It also helps you manage your time at the airport, breaking down each flight into four stages: check in, boarding, take-off and landing time.

And just in case you care, it keeps a record of all the flights you’ve taken, airports you’ve frequented, and miles you’ve travelled.

Lounge access

Airports generally involve a lot of waiting around and spending money in the process.

LoungeBuddy is a website which allows you to purchase one-time passes to benefit-ridden lounges not usually available with an economy ticket

But you don’t have to have a business or first-class ticket to take advantage of snazzy lounges that offer unlimited food and drink, free Wi-Fi, and some nice peace and quiet.

LoungeBuddy is a website which allows you to purchase one-time passes, often for the same or less than a restaurant meal outside.

Locate your lost luggage

If you’ve ever had an airline lose your bags, you will know that feeling of panicked helplessness.

LugLoc is a device which lives in your suitcase and enables you to track it at all times from your phone using GPS

For the ultra-paranoid among us, you can buy peace of mind by investing in a GPS tracker like the LugLoc. This little gizmo, placed in your suitcase, will allow you to track its exact location from your phone. So you’ll know where to find it, even if the airline doesn’t appear to.

The device costs £55 ($70), and you’ll have to pay £3.80 ($5) per month to keep the service running.

Convert currencies

Converting currencies online is nothing new, but what if you find yourself without internet service? God forbid you turn to maths.

The XE Currency app displays trends         

XE Currency’s app functions even when you are offline by saving the last updated conversion rates.

A simple solution for a problem we’ve all had.

Decode foreign signs

The Google Translate app has long been helping travellers communicate their way through a language barrier, but there’s a lesser known feature now.

Hold up your camera to any foreign text, whether that’s a sign, a newspaper or a menu, and it will instantly translate it for you.

Call anywhere in the world free

Services like Skype are all very well but they have limits. You’ll need internet, for a start, and for the other Skype user to be online.

Rebtel is an app which offers free calls to and from anywhere in the world, without using data or Wi-Fi. Instead, it finds a way to route the dialling through local phone centres.

The service currently costs nothing, but by next year will be £0.78 ($1) per month.

Getting around

In a similar way to Rome2Rio, Citymapper is a journey planner, but designed more for when you arrive at your destination.

Citymapper is a journey planner which shows you a range of different transport options         

It’s much more detailed than Google Maps, giving you a range of transport options and prices at just a glance, plus real-time departures and disruption alerts – all of which makes finding your way around a foreign city a whole lot easier.

Splitting the tab

The first bill-splitting app specifically designed for travellers, Splittr simplifies the whole process of sharing costs.

          It also lets you mix currencies without you having to convert them yourself, and lets you dictate who is paying the lion's share if you aren't splitting bills equally.

You enter your individual expenses as you go, including who paid for what, and at the end of the trip, everyone knows where they stand.

It also lets you mix currencies without you having to convert them yourself, and lets you dictate who is paying the lion’s share if you aren’t splitting bills equally.

 

Travel light without the smell?!

This is absolutely the BEST travel hack I’ve seen in ages.

It’s an idea come up with by three lifelong Canadian buddies who love to travel but hate to lug a huge bag around – a perennial bugbear for most of us serial trekkers.

The vast majority of our luggage capacity is taken up with clothes; so wouldn’t it be great to reduce a month’s worth of tees, pants and socks to just two or three items?  Sounds impossible doesn’t it?  Well not with Unbound Apparel.

Thanks to these clever dudes, you can go for weeks – yes weeks – wearing the same clothes WITHOUT THE NEED TO WASH THEM!!  Seriously – you just need one tee, a couple of pairs of pants and the same of socks.

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HOW??  Because they’re made of high-quality Merino wool.  If you didn’t know, it’s wool from sheep that originated in Spain and are now bred all over the world, particularly in the southern hemisphere.  Merino wool is special because it is ultra thin and light, yet ultra warm, anti-bacterial and anti-wrinkle – making it the perfect fabric for travellers.

Until now, Merino has been traditionally used for high-performance active wear.  That means flashy colours, intricate patterns and very athletic fits and functionality.  It also means it’s expensive and hard to find.

But the team has solved these issues by redesigning simple, efficient styles for the modern savvy trekker.

The collection, designed by the Toronto-based company, currently comprises a T-shirt in a choice of two colours and two neck lines, men’s briefs and socks.

Photo: Unbound Apparel

The guys announce:

“We now work with ethical manufacturers in 3 countries, source eco-friendly materials and have established an independent fulfillment operation that ships to countries all over the world.

Unbound is a new venture that solves a problem we’ve had with our own travels. We’ve been working late nights and weekends on refining what we feel is the perfect travel clothing. We’ve been testing our prototypes for months (and all over the world) and it’s changed our lives.”

Here is an example of what one of their prototype shirts has gone through without a single wash:

  • Worn 46 days in a row without exception
  • In that 46 days worn in the gym around 6 or 7 times through heavy cardio (testing the product was the motivation for the gym more so than sheer discipline, they joke)
  • Worn twice in the sauna (they meant it when they said they took this to the limits)
  • Worn to bed some nights and stayed on the body right through the day
  • Taken to Shanghai, Bangkok and Koh Tao, Thailand and worn daily in sweltering 40 degree weather.  (see the Indiegogo video below)

The products have proved such a hit with fellow travellers that the company exceeded its $30,000 crowdfunding goal by over 500% before launch date!!

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Hacks: Travelling Europe for Cheap

Some useful advice from Will Tang at Going Awesome Places


Europe is one of those dream destinations that everyone has on their mind when they think about travel.  When I graduated, the idea of a Eurotrip was the only thing we considered but as you can imagine, we didn’t have a lot of money back then so we had to figure out how to do it on the cheap.  Even today, I’m sure the idea of a trip to Europe flashes dollar signs across your eyes.  So how do you get that trip of your dreams while keeping the costs manageable?  Let me breakdown a few tips that you’ll want to keep in mind as you start planning your itinerary.

Consider Different Parts of Europe

Bilbao Guggenheim: Image via Flickr by tchacky

Europe is a large continent that spans a lot of different countries.  While most of us will gravitate to Western Europe and big cities like London, Paris, and Rome, consider cities and countries that are cheaper to cut costs.

The reason why big cities are expensive is because there are a lot of people living there which drives up the standard of living for locals and because it’s heavily touristed, businesses know they can command a much higher price.  So one big tip is to incorporate lesser known, but not necessarily less interesting or beautiful places in Europe.  For instance, Bilbao, in northern Spain is somewhere that is not along the main tourist path but is one of those not-to-miss cities being the home of the titanium-clad Guggenheim and the successful mix of traditional Basque culture with modern design.

Book Smart Rooms

Airbnb Apartment

Besides transportation, the other big cost to any trip is going to be your accommodations so naturally, you’re going to want to see if you can save money here.  When you’re travelling Europe, there’s really no reason to splurge because you’re never going to be in your room beyond sleeping.  Whether you’re looking for a room in a big city or somewhere smaller like Yaiza, Bordeaux or Luxembourg, make sure you do your research and consider all of your options.

Hostels aren’t only for young backpackers.  There are plenty of private suite rooms available if you’re worried about sharing rooms with someone else.  An added benefit of hostels is that there are lots of people to get travel suggestions from and breakfast is often included.

Airbnb is becoming a popular option these days as well especially if your’e going to be in one place for multiple days.  You can find some great deals here if you’re travelling with a larger group and in prime locations as well.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

There are a ton of different ways to get around in Europe.  It all depends on how spread out your travels are and how fast you need to get from one place to another.

What I love about Europe is that there are so many low cost carrier airlines that often times, flying becomes cheaper than any other option.  I always make sure I check the list of airlines when I plan things out since not all search engines have every single one.  The only disadvantage of flying is that you end up spending extra money getting to and from the airport as well as the time wasted going through things like checking in, security, and boarding.

Depending on how you link things up, it may make sense to look at trains as a way to get around.  This is never a bad option because train stations are always central in cities and the network is so vast that it can take you anywhere you need to go.  If you’re considering trains, make sure you check out the Eurail passes that you can buy beforehand to save lots of money.

Recently, there’s been more tourist-friendly buses made available.  Megabus offers numerous routes within the UK with prices as low as £1.  Another unique option is a new venture called Busabout which provides hop-on and hop-off flexibility, perfect for the independent traveller.

Look for Deals

Iceland Northern Lights

If you’re flexibile in where you want to go, stay on top of travel deals that come up.  For instance, Iceland Air has been making a massive push for travel to Reykjavik, Iceland and they’ve been promoting budget-friendly prices from North America that also allow you to hop into Europe after you’re done your tour there.

How do you stay updated on deals?  Check my own deals page to get the latest promotions!

Timing is Everything

Last thing I’ll mention is that when you go in the year plays the biggest role out of anything and this applies to anywhere you go in the world.  Travelling when everyone else is going is both expensive and not as fun.  If you’re able to schedule your trip during low-season when prices are less inflated and businesses are pushing offers to attract travellers to come, you’re going to save a lot more money.

Pin It!

Planning a trip to Europe and want to save this for later?  Pin this onto your travel board.

Travel Hacks Europe For Cheap Pinterest

About Will Tang

http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/b482d5828d9ec58079126895f0bd3e90?s=60&d=retro&r=gWill is a travel blogger writing for Going Awesome Places. Since quitting his consulting job in 2012 he’s been travelling the world and along the way writing about his epic adventures and taking amazing photos. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring others to travel, writing detailed trip itineraries for others to follow and providing helpful tips and tricks to travel better. Also the founder behind Travel Blog Breakthrough and freelance writer for Hipmunk and currently working on the #‎HipmunkCityLove Project.

Too Many Places: Overcoming the Paradox of Choice

One of my fave travel bloggers, Nomadic Matt, recently posted this piece and it struck a chord as I was pondering where to go in September. Check out what he advises…  – Nick


A man staring out of an airport window looking at airplanes

“Where should I go?” is a question I frequently ask myself.

Wanting to escape the oppressive summer heat of Austin in August, I’ve spent the last few months staring at a map, unable answer that very question. I toyed with the idea of heading to Madagascar, Hawaii, Malta, Kenya, the Caribbean, the Maldives, Dubai, or Sri Lanka.

And, because I couldn’t choose and was so afraid to commit, it wasn’t until this week I finally decided — just weeks before I wanted to go. (More on that later.)

Why?

I was suffering from what psychologists call “choice overload.”

Whether we have two weeks, two months, or two years, deciding where to go is the hardest part about travel. Once you have the time, picking the destination becomes a task of whittling down a long list of “must-see” destinations.

When people are faced with too many options, they are sometimes so paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice that they don’t make any choice.

Think of standing in the cereal aisle. We have all these options right in front of us, but we keep going back to our old favorite, Fruity Pebbles. (Or, Cinnamon Toast Crunch if we’re feeling crazy!)

We may want to try something new, but we can’t figure out what we want the most — there are just too many options! How do we choose? How do we know we won’t make the wrong choice? So, paralyzed with indecision, we go back to what we know. And, if we don’t have a favorite, often we just choose what is popular and familiar to our mind (Cheerios).

In psychology, this is called “analysis paralysis.” Contemplating our options becomes such a taxing mental burden that we don’t make a decision. Our minds want shortcuts. It’s how we process all the information thrown at us each day. It’s too difficult to think about every simple decision all the time. Going with what you know and is familiar is how we shortcut our analysis paralysis. (This is all explained in the 2004 book The Paradox of Choice, which I highly recommend reading!)

Think of the world as the proverbial cereal aisle. We’re looking forward to picking a cereal (a destination), but suddenly realize we have too many options. Faced with so many choices and without a strong opinion (e.g., I really want to go to Thailand this fall!), we stare blankly, wondering if picking a destination is the right choice, so we end up (a) fretting about it for months like I did, missing flight deals and precious planning time or (b) end up with what is big, popular, and familiar (let’s visit Paris for the tenth time!).

I often get so paralyzed by choice that I don’t book a trip until the last minute, and even then, I often suffer from buyer’s remorse. Did I really want to book that flight to Dubai? Or should I have gone to Madagascar instead? If I do this trip, will I have time to visit Peru later this year, or should I just go to Peru now?

Last week, after months of fretting, I finally bit the bullet and booked tickets to Dubai, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka. I’m beyond thrilled (especially for Sri Lanka) but in the back of my mind I still find myself thinking, “Is 15 days really enough to enjoy Sri Lanka? Maybe I should go somewhere else until I can spend more time there!”

Of course, when I get to the destination — any destination — all of that second-guessing melts away and I have the time of my life.

If you’re a long-term traveler, you can go anywhere for as long as you want. But when you only have a limited amount of time — because you’re like me and slowing down, or because you just have a few weeks off from work and need to make the most of them — you have to be more selective.

So how do you narrow down your destinations, get on with your trip planning, and not suffer the anxiety that comes with choice overload?

This experience has given me a new philosophy on trip planning. I’ve changed how I decide on destinations:

First, embrace the variety. You’re always going to be overwhelmed by choice. There will always be more destinations to visit than you have time to see. The list of places to visit will only get longer the more you travel, not shorter. Don’t fight it. Recognize it, but don’t let it control you.

Second, start with list of ten places you want to go right now. Come up with the destinations that are at the top of your mind. This year, now that I am taking fewer trips, I want my trips to be to places I’ve never been and are as culturally different as possible, so I came up with the list at the top of this blog (yes, I know not all of the places are culturally different from each other!).

Third, figure out when you can go and how long you have. For me, since I was only going in August, I knew I had exactly a month (since I have to be stateside for weddings in September and October).

Fourth, think of the time of year. Which country has the weather you want to enjoy the most? I’m trying to escape the heat of inland Austin, so I wanted beaches. I crossed Hawaii and the Caribbean off the list, but I still wanted something beachy and adventurous. The Maldives and Sri Lanka may be hot, but they have beaches!

Fifth, make the length of your travels proportional to the size of the country. I didn’t want to attempt to visit large countries like India, Brazil, or China when I have just a few weeks. I wanted to see smaller destinations that I could explore more in depth during a shorter period of time. By this point I knew I was down to using Dubai as a hub and finding destinations from there.

Finally, look up flights. From Dubai, it was $1,700 USD to Madagascar but $400 to the Maldives, and $0 to get to and from Sri Lanka, thanks to airline miles. I didn’t have enough points to fly on the African carriers I wanted (I burned 100K United points last month on other flights — whoops!) so Madagascar and Kenya were out of the question. That left the Maldives and Sri Lanka as the best places to visit from Dubai.

And, with that, where I’m going was settled.

Once I stopped letting too much choice keep me from making a decision and after logically going through my checklist, I stopped hemming and hawing about where I wanted to go, found my destinations, booked my trip, and got on with getting excited about visiting new places.

Overcoming choice overload in travel is about first realizing that there will always be more places to visit than you have time, then figuring out what destinations fit what you can do right now. Once you start with your list of destinations, getting down to the perfect one becomes a process of elimination.

I know many of you suffer from the same problem I do (your emails to me are proof), and I hope you use this advice to overcome choice overload.

Because there will always be too many destinations to choose from and too little time to see them in.


Rio Celeste Falls

Rio Celeste Falls

Nomadic Matt is author of the New York Times best-selling book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. He’s been travelling the world since 2006 and created his website to help others travel more while spending less. Growing up in Boston, he says: “I was never a big traveler. I didn’t take my first trip overseas until I was 23. Outside a cruise and college trip to Montreal, I had no travel experience. After college, I got a job and the standard American two weeks a year vacation. I wanted to use that time to travel. After all, it was vacation time, right? So for my first trip overseas, I went on a tour to Costa Rica. That trip changed my life. It opened me up to the possibilities of the world. I was just a sheltered middle class suburban kid before that trip.

In Costa Rica, I experienced other cultures, got lost in a jungle, saw real poverty, conservation projects in action, and met people from around the world. From that moment on, I was hooked in travel. All I wanted to do was travel, see more of the world, and learn more about the people in it. But like most Americans I only had two weeks of vacation per year and I didn’t know any of the genius ways to save money and travel longer.”

You can find Matt on http://www.nomadicmatt.com/

 

Clever Travel Hacks

Catch a taxi from departures and mark check-in baggage as fragile: The plane hacks that even frequent flyers don’t know

As the summer holiday season looms, millions of travellers will be preparing to fly off on their annual vacation abroad.

Taking a flight can be a stressful business, but with a few simple hacks, the process can be made much easier.

The following guide from MailOnline Travel can help even the most frequent fliers, with tips that include how to bag a faster taxi from the airport and the best way to guarantee extra room when boarding a flight.

There are several hacks that can help with packing, booking flights and airport visits 

There are several hacks that can help with packing, booking flights and airport visits

Fake your location to get cheaper air fares

If you are going on a holiday that includes taking on internal flights within a foreign country, it can be more cost effective to book your ticket through the home website of an airline within that country.

By pretending to come from that country, dramatic savings can be made on tickets that often have extra costs instantly added for tourists.

By going to a site like ITA Google to search for flights instead of SkyScanner or Kayak, which automatically assumes you are buying in your home country, you can change the location of the point of sale and the currency you want to buy the ticket in.

Fly on a Boeing 767 plane to have less chance of a middle row seat

Boeing 767 planes have less of middle row seats than other large planes 

Nobody likes the middle row in a plane, especially on a long-haul flight.

To lessen your chances of being seated in the centre, choose a Boeing 767 flight as they have less of the middle row seats.

When booking as a couple, reserve the aisle and the window seat

Instead of booking two seats together, if you reserve the aisle seat and the window seat, you increase the chance of no one wanting to sit in your row on a flight, leaving you with a spare spot if the plane isn’t full.

If the plane is full, the person in the middle seat is likely to be grateful if you then give them the option of the aisle or the window seat.

Download the airline’s app

Download the airline's app to keep up to date on information like flight delays and gate numbers 

Most airlines now have their own mobile phone app, which provide a host of information for travellers.

They can keep passengers up to date on information like flight delays and gate numbers, as well as telling you providing a digital copy of the boarding pass – handy if you forget to pack your printed version.

Mark your check-in baggage as ‘Fragile’

Mark your check-in baggage as 'Fragile'

Bags are treated pretty roughly behind the scenes at airports, so it’s no wonder things get broken during transit.

By marking your check-in baggage with Fragile stickers, handlers will be likely to treat it much more carefully.

They will also place your bags on the top of piles, instead of the bottom.

Know that you have a 24 hour window for a refund

Airlines are generally pretty inflexible when it comes to cancelling flights, but most companies have a 24-hour refund policy.

This means that you can cancel your ticket without paying any charge.

Pack some essentials in your hand luggage

Checked-in luggage often goes missing and being stranded in a foreign country with no toiletries or spare clothes is not fun.

By packing a change of underwear, some toothpaste, a toothbrush and face wash, as well as a clean T-shirt, a traveller has enough accessories to face a new day feeling fresh.

Use a soft bag for hand luggage

Use a squishy bag for hand luggage as it will fit more easily into difficult overhead cabin spaces

While many hard case trolley bags are slated as the best option for carry on luggage, a soft bag is often a better bet.

Not only is it easier to carry up and down stairs, it will also fit more easily into difficult overhead cabin spaces.

Plus, if a flight is full, cabin crew are more likely to choose hard cases to go in the hold at the boarding gate.

Make use of a stopover to see a new place

It’s natural to search for a flight that has zero extra stops when going on holiday, but change your state of mind as try to see the stopover as an opportunity.

Often a long stopover can mean cheaper tickets and give you time to see a whole new city. 

Head to departures to catch a taxi instead of waiting at arrivals

At busy times, there can often be a huge queue for taxis at the arrivals area of an airport – the last thing a passenger needs after a long flight.

To get a cab quicker, head to the departures area instead.

Create your perfect hot drink before travelling

Before taking a plane, pack an empty thermos with your favourite tea bag, honey and slice of fruit then ask the cabin crew to fill the bottle with hot water on the flight 

From a scarf that doubles up as a neck cushion to a laptop charger the size of a lipstick: The innovative new travel gadgets you need this summer

Travel – nourishing for the soul but not without its pitfalls.

Whether it’s cramming your worldly essentials into a small suitcase, getting around the 100ml hand luggage limits or even just getting comfortable on the plane, it’s pretty easy to lose your temper en-route to your destination.

Thankfully, this year has seen an explosion of new gadgets and gizmos designed to make your voyages easier – from portable pillows and theft-proof bags to multi-functioning chargers and a device which means you’ll never lose your passport again. MailOnline Travel rounds up the best of them.

1. The neck-supporting scarf

Bog standard neck pillows may be better than nothing on a long-haul flight, but they’re not the first word in comfort.

Enter the Trtl Travel Pillow – a neck support hidden inside a snuggly fleece scarf. Its designers claim that its flexible ‘hammock effect’ structure is scientifically proven to hold the head and neck in a better ergonomic position than a traditional U-shaped pillow.

Having taken it on a 30-hour flight, this writer can confirm that it’s a game-changer.

Cost: £19.95 ($26.75) from Trtl London.

2. The theft-proof drawstring bag

The Flak Sack - which is crafted from slash resistant fabric and secured with a steel lock - can be attached to your chair by a near indestructible cable and protects again contactless credit card theft

The Flak Sack - which is crafted from slash resistant fabric and secured with a steel lock - can be attached to your chair by a near indestructible cable and protects again contactless credit card theft

Forget Lonely Planet’s Greatest Wonders, these are the top 10 places to AVOID

A great little blog post here from The Mail on Sunday’s wonderfully cynical Travel Editor, Frank Barrett.


Lonely Planet has published its list of the world’s Greatest Wonders: this is my guide to ten of the world’s places not to bother with – a much more useful service in my opinion.

1. Empire State Building, New York (pictured): When it comes to tall buildings, my clearest advice is to stay away from them. They’re expensive, overcrowded and likely to bring on a nosebleed. The view from the ESB is OK but doesn’t justify the hassle and expense of seeing it. If you want a skyscraper view of Manhattan head up the Rockefeller Center.

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2. Eiffel Tower, Paris: If you really want to go up the Eiffel Tower, then walk up. At least as far as you are allowed. Unless you enjoy standing in queues at a high altitude, don’t even contemplate the final stage to the summit which involves endless waiting and tiny lifts. And if the weather is bad all you will see is mist.

3. The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen: This is Denmark’s major tourist attraction? I’ve seen bigger (and much more interesting) poodles.

4. Hollywood sign, Los Angeles: It’s a sign. It’s in Hollywood. And..?

5. Lands End, Cornwall: The end of the land. You have to pay to see this?

6. Great Wall of China, China: I’ve got a great wall in my garden but I’m not making a big fuss about it.

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7. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney (pictured): Sydney has two big must-sees: its Opera House and its Bridge. I don’t know whether people from Sydney have been anywhere else in the world but lots of other cities have bridges. Newcastle upon Tyne has five of them.

8. Mona Lisa, Paris: Save three hours of your life and a wodge of cash: don’t bother fighting through the Louvre crowds to see what is effectively an average portrait of an unknown woman. Over-rated doesn’t begin to describe it.

9. Manneken Pis, Brussels: A statue of a small boy doing … what? Are you serious?

10. Bateau Mouche, Paris: Keep well away from tall buildings, caves … and boat excursions. Boat trips (like cave visits) have no clearly discernible time limit – they may take 20 minutes (doubtful) they may last five hours. And there’s nothing – absolutely nothing – you can do to escape…

 

 

The World’s Best Budget Airlines

As researched by Thrillist Travel.

https://assets3.thrillist.com/v1/image/1686427/size/tl-horizontal_main/the-world-s-best-budget-airlines.jpg

Antony McAulay / Shutterstock.com

Before deregulation in the late 1970s, a plane ticket from, say, Dallas to LA could cost more than $500. In 1970s dollars. Today, you only pay that much for the same route if you’re buying last minute, or are really bad at shopping for airfares. So why, as the price of everything else has gone up, has the cost of air travel plummeted? Well, a lot of factors. But since we’re not economists, we’ll keep it simple: a big reason is budget airlines.

These no-frills carriers strip down the flying experience and offer cheap fares that the larger airlines must then compete with. But despite what you might think after flying Spirit Air, not all low-cost airlines offer a totally miserable trip. Nope, in addition to helping revolutionize the economics of air travel, some of them actually provide passengers with flights that are pretty much equivalent to their bigger competitors. And while, yes, we fully acknowledge that people have complaints with EVERY airline in business today, these 10 budget carriers stand above the rest.

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Norwegian

Based in: Norway (duh)
Where it flies: Again, Norway! But also the US, Caribbean, Middle East, and Bangkok.
Why it’s more than just cheap: When we tell you about money-saving tips like flying through hidden cities and paying in foreign currencies, this airline is always in the conversation. It’s been known as a top low-cost carrier in Europe for years, but now that it regularly offers nonstops from the East Coast to Europe for $250 each way, it’s become a major player in America too. Norwegian also offers reasonably priced fares from the US to the Caribbean, a destination that is often more expensive to reach than Europe.

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Peach

Based in: Japan
Where it flies: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
Why it’s more than just cheap: In true Japanese fashion, the country’s low-cost carrier operates with staggering efficiency. It’s actually figured out that boarding from the outside-seats-in is quicker than by row. Amazing. Onboard, you can buy Japanese specialty foods like ramen noodles, curry puffs, and peach ice milk, and wash it down with a cold Sapporo.

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IndiGo

Based in: India
Where it flies: India (39 destinations), Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, and Oman
Why it’s more than just cheap: IndiGo has figured out how to be the largest and most profitable airline in India. And it took the company less than a decade to do it. In fact, it carried 40% of Indian air traffic in 2015 and credits the success to a combination of stripped-down service — there’s no first or business class, nor are there any airport lounges — and having faster-than-average turnaround times with planes that stay in the air nearly 12 hours a day.

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FastJet

fastjet

Based in: Tanzania/United Kingdom
Where it flies: Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Why it’s more than just cheap: For decades, traveling within Africa was either prohibitively expensive, or prohibitively unreliable. Enter fastjet, Africa’s first large budget carrier to bring affordable, dependable inter-African flights to six countries. Though other carriers have popped up, fastjet remains the biggest; and it still flies to the most destinations. Just don’t be alarmed when you go to this “low-cost” carrier and see airfares in the six figures — remember, they’re all priced in Tanzanian shillings, which are about .0004/dollar.

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easyJet

Based in: United Kingdom
Where it flies: Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East
Why it’s more than just cheap: The UK’s largest airline boasts an innovative program called “Inspire Me,” where passengers enter a departure city and easyJet shows them the cheapest weekend getaway fares to random destinations. It’s not exactly signing up for travel to a mystery location, but it’s still encouraging spontaneous travel through low prices. Until last year, easyJet had won the World Travel Award for Europe’s Leading Low-Cost Airline six straight years.

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LAN

Based in: Chile
Where it flies: South America, US, Canada, and Mexico
Why it’s more than just cheap: Not what you’d expect from a budget airline, LAN’s planes rock TVs at each seat programmed with over 100 movies, 42 shows, and a 1,000-CD music collection. Between South American countries, LAN is often the cheapest option and also offers nonstops to Miami, LAX, JFK, Houston, and Orlando.

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AirAsia

Based in: Malaysia
Where it flies: Asia, Australia, India, and Saudi Arabia
Why it’s more than just cheap: Despite a notorious crash in 2014, AirAsia has STILL won the Skytrax World Airline Award for best low-cost airline SIX straight times. It’s like the UConn women’s team of budget airlines, so obviously it’s doing something right. It offers hot food for purchase, plus drinks and light snacks, not to mention a lot of flights at competitive prices. It’s even pioneered the concept of the “long-haul, low-cost airline” with AirAsia X — an offshoot which serves 19 destinations and has a first-class cabin complete with flatbed seats.

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Iceland Air

Icelandair

Based in: Ummm, Iceland
Where it flies: Europe, Iceland, Canada, and the US
Why it’s more than just cheap: A few years ago, we can only assume some visionary at Icelandair said, “Hmmm… we’re the logical stopping point between North America and Europe. How about we offer Americans really cheap fares to Europe, and have them stop over in Iceland?? Then encourage them to stay for, like, a week and explode our tourism economy?!” And a trans-Atlantic travel revolution was born. Icelandair offers disturbingly cheap fares across the pond, most of which include a stopover in Reykjavik. That layover can literally last up to a week if you want it to, and the concept has created a tourism boom in a country few visited before.

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VivaAerobus

Based in: Mexico
Where it flies: Mexico, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, and El Paso
Why it’s more than just cheap: Flying TO Mexico at a discount has never been difficult for savvy US travelers. But traveling WITHIN Mexico? Often cost prohibitive. Until VivaAerobus came on the scene, that is. Sure, the in-flight amenities aren’t much, but at least you’re not crossing the country on a real bus.

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Southwest Airlines

Based in: United States
Where it flies: US, Mexico, and Caribbean
Why it’s more than just cheap: Make all the jokes you want about the Greyhound of the skies, Southwest was the only US airline to remain profitable during the great recession, and it’s still making money without charging you for bags. America’s original large-scale, low-cost airline might require you to stop in Tulsa and El Paso on your way from New York to LA, but what Southwest lacks in nonstops it makes up for in personality. The airline allows flight attendants to deviate from the standard script, and even if the jokes aren’t always funny, combining that with a flexible boarding process that actually isn’t a complete cluster has given America’s biggest discount carrier an insanely loyal following. 

 

The Travel-Booking App That’s Easier Than Kayak

Those cool guys at Thrillist have found an equally cool app for serial trekkers and travellers: Hyper is a personal travel agent that books all your travel via text message.

The Kayaks and Expedias of the world are putting travel agents out of business left and right. But you know what? Having a real expert wade through all the tricks and traps of booking your trip is pretty damn helpful. Since actual human-to-human contact is just UNTHINKABLE these days, the brains behind the new Hyper app bridged the convenience of modern tech with the quality control of a live person. Now you can plan trips, book flights and hotels, and manage all manner of travel reservations, all via text. Here’s what you need to know.

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Who should download it right now: Frequent travelers who don’t have time to waste coordinating their itinerary details

Where to get it: iTunes App Store

The breakdown: Pandering to the millennial dream of never having to talk to people on the phone ever again, Hyper handles all your nitty-gritty travel-booking needs via text. It works like this: any time you need to book a trip, just send a text message outlining what you need. It can be as simple as “I need to be in LA next Tuesday afternoon for a meeting, and I’ll also need a car and a place to stay.” Or, get super specific if you have a certain budget, want a specific type of rental car, or need to get to where you’re going by a particular time.

Within a few minutes, a real live AI-assisted human will respond and provide you with different itinerary options to swipe through — for free! With hotels, the app makes it easy to pick and choose by providing photos and a glimpse at amenities. If you like what you see, you can book it right then. Or alternately, ask for something different (“Can you find a hotel a little closer to Downtown? With a pool?”), and it’ll go back to the drawing board.

The Travel-Booking App That\'s Easier Than Kayak

Screenshot via Hyper/Shutterstock

Do you prefer a window or aisle seat? Which airlines do you like, and which do you loathe with the fiery hatred of a thousand suns? Specify your preferences in your profile details when you first launch the app, and it’ll try to accommodate you whenever possible. You can also sync the app up with your frequent-flyer accounts or any rewards programs you want factored into your fare.

In my experience it will also find you the most affordable options. In fact, when I asked Hyper to book me a flight to LA for the first week of May, it found a series of options roughly $15 cheaper than anything I could find on Kayak.
The Travel-Booking App That\'s Easier Than Kayak

Screenshot via Hyper/Shutterstock

Besides the convenience, the best part of Hyper is that it’s free — at least when it comes to planning and booking. However, there are also a pair of premium paid versions that get you an even higher level of service. The $20-per-month Pro plan provides 24/7 access, the ability to cancel reservations or change your itinerary with a text, and the perk of having Hyper handle any customer service requests (lost luggage, etc.) on your behalf. There’s also a $25-a-month Business option, which gets you everything in Pro, plus quite a few extras that make it easier to book group travel and manage your expenses.

What it’s missing: Hyper should extend its utility by notifying frequent flyers when there are cheap flights or hotel deals in the cities they most regularly jet off to. For users who opt into the paid plans, integrating concierge services or the ability to request a driver would make travel even more seamless. Also on the wish list? Given the way Hyper’s interface is designed, restaurant recommendations seem like a no-brainer — you could shoot a text like “I need a great steakhouse in NYC to take clients” and the app could provide photos and reviews to swipe through. Then again, you have Thrillist for that.

Similar apps you might like:

  • Hotel Tonight: Gets you last-minute deals at hotels you’ll actually want to stay in
  • Hipmunk: Compares hotel and flight prices across the web and finds you the ideal time to fly
  • Hopper: Constantly monitors flight prices for the best deals and alerts you when to buy tickets

 

 

Gifts for the Budget Traveller

From a bed in a bag to anti-pickpocket undies, BBC Travel has picked five perfect presents for the value-minded backpacker for any holiday season.

1. An awesomely versatile flashlight

Sleepless in your hostel bunk with only snorers for company? Escape into a book using the tiny BugLit flashlight. A powerful, hands-free and highly packable LED lamp no bigger than a stag beetle, the diamond-shaped gizmo’s tough polycarbonate body sends out a surprisingly strong beam while its bendable legs can be posed into handy positions or wrapped around a promontory to create a useful side lamp (we suggest the nose of a nearby sleeper). Function and performance perfected, the versatile light – with several beam settings, seven body colour options and a useful clip for attaching it to key rings or zips – is ideal for tossing in your backpack until required.

An awesomely versatile flashlight

2. Glasgow’s train station tour

Possibly the best £10 you’ll ever spend in Scotland, the behind-the-scenes Glasgow Central Station tour has been a runaway success since launching in autumn 2014. A great reason to miss your train, the 90-minute guided weave wanders the hidden nooks and crannies of Scotland’s biggest and busiest railway station, a handsome, glass-roofed Victorian edifice opened in 1879. Hard-hatted participants poke around the station’s subterranean brick-built tunnels and old boiler room while listening to tales evoking the building’s sometimes spooky past. And as for that 48,000-panel glass ceiling – reputedly the largest of its kind in the world – if the weather cooperates, you’ll be ushered up there for a peek as well.

Glasgow’s train station tour

3. Road-tested travel tips

A problem-solving consumer travel advocate for publications such as USA Today and National Geographic Traveler, Christopher Elliott has accrued more than a few tips on how to find the best travel deals. But the road-tested wisdom distilled in the book [How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle)](http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/product/books/travel-and-adventure/travel-best-sellers/how-to-be-the-world-s-smartest-traveler–and-save-time–money–and-hassle-) isn’t just about cutting costs. In addition to advice on flight sales and car rental fees, there’s also a backpack full of common sense on everything from choosing travel insurance to resolving trip complaints without blowing your top. Sprinkled with letters from frustrated readers – plus the solutions Elliott sent them – this handy volume helps everyone from newbies to frequent-fliers navigate the ever-complex world of travel planning.

Road-tested travel tips

4. Bed in a bag

Tony and Lisa Clark originally created their portable Backpack Bed for homeless people needing a safe and comfortable way to sleep outdoors. But when their clever design attracted the attention of campers, they also started selling to individuals – with the profits funding beds for those in need. It’s a win-win social enterprise. The lightweight bag unrolls into a waterproof shelter with a built-in sleep mat, mosquito net windows and a lockable inside pocket, making it an ideal option for snoozing under the stars wherever you find yourself.

Bed in a bag

5. Anti-pickpocket (under)pants

Visiting a destination reputed to be a larcenous pickpocketing capital? One solution is to stuff your valuables in your underwear. But an even better answer (if you don’t want them falling from your trouser leg) is to slip your goodies into a pair of anti-theft “smart undies”. Specially designed with zip-able front pockets, Clever Travel Companion’s natty range of security skivvies for men and women is perfect for stashing cash, passports, your parents’ credit card or that precious faded photo of your partner back home. Just don’t forget to empty your pockets on laundry day.

Anti-pickpocket (under)pants

Essential Travel Experiences to Have Before You’re 30

Fromat Thrillist


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As the great Aaliyah once said, age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And while travelling is wonderful at any number – people who spend their money on experiences are happier than those who spend their money on stuff, blah blah, blah – there are certain kinds of travel experiences that just make more sense to have in your 20s, before you develop a pesky sense of responsibility, professional and familial obligations, or a new-found sense-of-your-own-mortality aversion to risk.

In other words, how LO can you YOLO? Here are some travel experiences to get out of your system (and, umm… maybe make you a better, more fulfilled, more culturally sophisticated person?) before you join the ranks of those who can legitimately say: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Party with strangers whose names you don’t remember/never knew

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Pressmaster/Shutterstock

My friends call this unique single-serving-friend phenomenon “Cowboy Guy.” I forget why exactly, something do with a dude in a cowboy hat in New Orleans. It doesn’t matter, but to Cowboy Guy (spread it!) is to truly laissez les bon temps rouler. Basically, you meet strangers, you become fast friends, you spend an outrageous night of drinking and debauchery with them, and you forget their names the next day (if, in fact, you ever knew them).

And I’m not talking about doing sex (see below). This is just dumb camaraderie born of partying, and while you can do it at any age, it’s really something you should experience before the clock strikes, “I can’t believe it’s 2am and I’m still out!” Also, you can Cowboy Guy (it’s gonna catch on!) with a group of friends or alone. But stranger danger, of course. We would be remiss if we didn’t urge you to exercise caution as much as realistically possible.

Go somewhere where you don’t know the language

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Captain Yeo/Shutterstock

Why? Because it sucks. And it’s intimidating. And nerve-racking. And it’s pretty much the worst. It will test your mettle and self-sufficiency in ways few other life experiences will, and THAT is some true character-building right there. How much can you really know about yourself as a person if you’ve never tried desperately to charade, “I’ve been drinking and forgot where I’m staying” to a non-English-speaking stranger before?

Teach English in a foreign country

This used to be a lot easier and much more lucrative. Now, if you can get hired, it’s just a good way to get free room-and-board in a foreign country for a few months. Also, resume experience! And an immersive cultural something something something where you learn things and grow and what not.

Attend a once-in-a-lifetime event

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PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock

It can be the Olympics, the World Cup, the Super Bowl, the World Series, Mardi Gras, Carnival in Rio, Oktoberfest (in September) in Munich, Burning Man, whatever. Granted most of these events happen once a year (obviously, not the Olympics), but the expense of attending most of them as well as the simple time and life constraints means that for most people, going once is once-in-a-lifetime.

Have a one-night stand in a foreign country

As promised: doing sex! Why in a foreign country? Um, why NOT in a foreign country? Sure, you can, and probably will, also do this within the continental United States, but a steamy one-night romance in an exotic foreign land – like Canada! – is just one of those life bucket list items. Because it just is.

Climb something, jump off something, dive into something

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Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

Climb a mountain. It doesn’t have to be Kili, just climb a damn mountain. Or go bungee jumping, or skydiving, or whitewater rafting, or scuba diving, or hell, even river kayaking and snorkelling will work. Just do something outside the norm of what you would usually do at home, and push your personal limits a little bit. Because if all you’re doing when you travel is the same old “Hey, we should totally hit that Starbucks outside the Eiffel Tower” stuff you’d be doing at home anyway, what really is the point? Challenge yourself. Let yourself surprise you.

Go on vacation ALONE

A lot of the things mentioned on this list are a hell of a lot easier to do – and probably more fun – if you’re flying solo and not at the mercy of your friend herd. Travelling alone is some next-level me time, and at the risk of sounding sensational and cliché, it will change you as a person. (In a good way!) Spending a week by yourself (added bonus if it’s in a foreign country) is an accelerated master class of learning how to handle your shit. (Also, here’s our guide to how to do it.)

 

 

 

 

How to Create a Perfectly Healthy Meal at an Airport Newsstand

We’ve come a long way since the 1980s, when eating at the airport generally meant grabbing something out of a snack machine or, if you were REALLY lucky, a burger from some pioneering fast-food chain with an outpost IN (whoa!) the concourse. Today’s airports, however, have celebrity chefs, first-rate bars, and so much good food the guys at Thrillist ranked it to make your next trip that much easier.

But what happens if you don’t have time to sit down for Wolfgang Puck’s finest airport fare? Or if you’re in a concourse where the best options are still stale pretzels and a lonely looking hot dog at the “snack bar?” In that case, your best move is to pick up something quick at the newsstand and/or gift shop. And there’s no WAY you can make a decent meal there, right?

Not so fast. Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to put together a balanced meal out of snacks sold next to the I ❤ South Dakota sweatshirts and this month’s copy of ¡Hola!. We asked a dietitian which specific foods we should look for to do just that, and here’s what she recommended.

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THRILLIST/MATT MELTZER

First, what is a balanced meal?

So glad you asked… our nutritionist told us a meal should be — for persons intending to maintain their current bodyweight — about 600-800 calories for men and 500-700 for women. This, of course, depends on your body size, muscle mass, and other things that make us all special.

The calorie breakdown should be about 45 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 25 percent fat, and the meal should contain about seven grams of fiber. So, knowing all of this, here’s what our expert suggested you pick up en route to your gate, with some lower-calorie alternatives thrown in for good measure.

PROTEIN

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THRILLIST/MATT MELTZER

Beef jerky

Price: $7.99
Calories: 240 per 3.25oz bag
Protein: 36g
Carbohydrates: 6g
Fat: 1g
“It’s a good idea to eat protein first to keep you sated and not indulging in fun stuff like candy and other hi-cal snacks. Jerky is great, although it is high in salt.”

OR

Hard boiled eggs

Price: $1.99
Calories: 120 for 2 eggs
Protein: 12g
Carbohydrates: 0g
Fat: 8g (3g saturated fat)
If you’re a vegetarian and/or want a lower-salt option to jerky, these are a great source of protein at a cheaper price.” Pair them with some high-fiber crackers to add good carbs.”

CARBS

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THRILLIST/MATT MELTZER

Smartfood popcorn

Price: $2.29
Calories: 320 per package
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrates: 28g
Fat: 20g (4g saturated)
Fiber: 4g
“Research shows an inverse relationship between high fiber intake and a lower risk of major diseases. Look for snacks with at least three grams of fiber and be sure to consume 7-10 grams per meal.”

OR

Pop chips

Price: $2.99
Calories: 120 per bag
Protein: 1g
Carbohydrates: 19g
Fat: 4g
Fiber: 1g
A lower-calorie, lower-carb alternative to popcorn. Less fiber but also fewer calories.

DESSERT

Banana

Price: $1.29
Calories: 105
Protein:1g
Carbohydrates: 27g
Fat: 0g
Fiber: 3g
“Bananas are available at most airport newsstands and are not only a healthier way to end your meal, but also high in potassium and other vitamins.”

OR (if you MUST have something sweet)

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THRILLIST/MATT MELTZER

Dove chocolate covered blueberries

Price: $6.99
Calories: 200 per serving
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrates: 28g
Fat: 10g
Fiber: 2g
“This is the best alternative to candy if you’ve got a sweet tooth. For the antioxidants, obviously. Kidding!”

DRINK

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THRILLIST/MATT MELTZER

Bottled water

Price: $2.99
“No nutritional info for water, but a zero-calorie way to wash down all of that popcorn.”

OR

Fruit juice

Price: $3.99
Calories: 250
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrates: 55g
Fat: 0g
Fiber: 0g
If you skipped the aforementioned banana, this is an excellent way to get your vitamins — as long it’s fresh juice and not made from concentrate. Pro tip: “I hate to waste food, but these things are loaded with sugar — only drink half of it.”

Putting it together

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THRILLIST/MATT MELTZER

If you take our top suggestion from each (jerky, popcorn, banana, and water) your meal looks like this:

Cost: $14.56
Calories: 665
Protein: 43g
Carbohydrates: 61g
Fats: 21g
Fiber: 7g
And that breaks down to 48% carbs, 35% protein, and 17% fat. Yes, slightly higher in carbs and lower in fat than recommended but you can fix that number by adding a slice of cheese (80 calories, 7g of fat) or opting for the blueberries.

The key takeaway though is that even if you DO have time for a meal at the airport, this snack menu is probably healthier than whatever you’d order at a fast-food joint. And much more appealing than that lonely hot dog at the snack bar.

Matt Meltzer would like the thank security at Sacramento International Airport for not asking why he was photographing Pop Chips on a baggage carousel. Those and other outtakes are on his Instagram @meltrez1.

The World’s Top 20 Small Towns (According to The Dude Who Visited Every Country)

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Ushuaia, Argentina | Jefferson Bernardes / Shutterstock.com

Last year, Thrillist asked me to pick my top 20 cities in the world, and it wasn’t easy. But this time, when they wanted my favorite small towns (population under 100k), things got a hell of a lot harder.

You see, I’ve visited every country (plus a few) and wrote a book on it titled, 198: How I Ran Out of Countries*. And while I’ve passed through A LOT of cities and towns over the course of my travels, the sheer number of smaller locales in the world makes it virtually impossible for one person to properly visit them all. So yes, these are my top 20, but it’s quite conceivable that I might not have been to one that should appear on this list. Maybe that’s your hometown. I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments. Hopefully, I’ll make it there eventually.

As before, these picks are based on the people, the food, the fun, and the atmosphere. And for the sake of fairness, I have resisted the temptation to list more than one town from any country. With that said, here we go…

20. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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Flickr/Daniel

Population: 45,000
This town is great except for the resorts. Which is ironic, I realize, because it’s a resort town. But I still say avoid them if you can, or at least ignore the exaggerated lies about crime and venture off resort property to take in the island. The locals here are friendly and cool and know how to party (case in point: there’s a car wash-slash-liquor store!). Also, be sure to visit the area’s underground lagoons — the water is bright blue, crystal clear, and ready for swimming.

 

19. Majuro, Marshall Islands

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Flickr/Stefan Lins

Population: 28,000
The capital of this island nation stretches over a large section of the narrow atoll, so prepare to do some walking. When you’re not scuba diving or fishing, of course; both are high on the list of island activities. Definitely hit the communities of Laura (in the west, with a great beach) and Rita (to the east, also known as Djarrit), and if you can afford it, charter a boat to the Bikini Atoll where — despite a lack of bars — the locals are party people. Just follow the crowd.

18. Thimphu, Bhutan

 

The World\'s Top 20 Small Towns, According to That Dude Who Visited Every Country

Flickr/Birger Hoppe

Population: 91,000
Not everyone in Bhutan is happy with the country’s so-called “Gross National Happiness Index” (which many correctly deem a PR stunt), but the capital is a cool, seemingly happy town nevertheless. It’s located in the Himalayas and boasts stunning views of snow-covered peaks and other drop-dead gorgeous scenery. While Thimphu is a quiet and relaxing place with a lot of parks and green space, you’ll also find a number of weird, fun bars/cafés and excellent restaurants serving local dishes. Also, expect to stumble across cultural performances, especially near the Trongsa Dzong — an impressive Buddhist fortress. However, be aware that a visit to Bhutan requires an arranged guide and that your trip must be fully prepaid.

17. Guaratuba, Brazil

 

The World\'s Top 20 Small Towns, According to That Dude Who Visited Every Country

Flickr/Henrique Oscar Loeffler

Population: 35,000
This little beach town maintains a number of good restaurants, but what really got to me was how the locals party at night — rather than sit inside the bars, they bring their drinks, chairs, and tables out on the street instead. Talk about an electric atmosphere. Sure, the beaches here are top notch, but venturing outside Guaratuba is highly recommended as well. For example, the car-less island Ilha do Mel — where you can only get around on foot and sandy path — is a couple of ferry rides and a short drive to the north, and well worth the trip.

Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock

16. Massawa, Eritrea

 

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Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock

Population: 53,000
This important East African port has lived through some tough times, as evidenced by the bullet holes in many of the old town’s buildings on Batsi island. What’s cool, though, is that some of the buildings are virtually in ruins, and seem unused during daytime, but suddenly come to life as bars and restaurants at night.

Visiting Massawa isn’t the easiest of tasks, however, and you should set aside six to eight weeks to get your Eritrean visa. It’s also a bit of a bus ride from the capital of Asmara unless you take the tourist train that leaves, well, almost never. So, prepare for a journey. If you do make it and can afford to, organize a boat ride to the Dahlak islands.

15. Sukhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia

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Flickr/Stefan Krasowski (edited)

Population: 63,000
Visiting this town is not for the faint-hearted, as it’s in a breakaway republic — or a country that does not exist, if you like. And while Abkhazia may not be recognized by any member of the United Nations, that doesn’t seem to stop the inhabitants in the capital city of Sukhumi from caring and/or having fun. And lots of it too. You’ll need a visa to enter (available online, just make sure to print it out!) from Georgia or Russia, and its location on the Black Sea makes it an ideal spot for a good ole Soviet-style beach holiday. Although, admittedly, the place is more than just beaches — the mountains and some of the lakes are equally stunning.

14. Nuku’alofa, Tonga

The World\'s Top 20 Small Towns, According to That Dude Who Visited Every Country

Flickr/Antoine Hubert

Population: 25,000
Chances are you’ve never even heard of this place, as Tonga is a tiny island state with virtually no tourists. But that shouldn’t prevent you from going. In fact, just the opposite. The capital, Nuku’alofa, is famous for its BBQ feasts and the people are very welcoming — so there’s a good shot you’ll be invited to one. Stay in town but take day trips to the beaches on either side of the main island; I rented a scooter and got to the isolated beaches and blowholes — geysers created when the waves push water through tunnels in the bedrock — in no time. They’re fascinating and great for your Instagram feed!

13. Jurmala, Latvia

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Flickr/Bryan Ledgard (edited)

Population: 56,000
I am not really into resort towns, but the Pearl of Latvia delivers on so many levels beyond nice hotels and white sand beaches. You can enjoy pretty much any spa treatment you’ve heard about (you know, if that’s your thing), dine at nice restaurants, or enjoy leisurely walks between the characteristic wooden houses or on marked trails outside of town. Also, check out the open-air ethnographic museum and see what traditional coastal fishing villages used to look like. Located only a few miles from Riga Airport, the hub for airBaltic, it’s super easy to get to, as well.

12. Eilat, Israel

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Flickr/israeltourism

Population: 85,000
This town by the Red Sea is ideal for party lovers, beach enthusiasts, and scuba divers; the Red Sea offers ace diving conditions and you can rent gear on Coral Beach. Restaurants are in no short supply, and there are a lot of bars too, many of which stay open 24 hours. The town is also a perfect launching spot for day trips into the Southern Negev desert.

11. Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

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roberaten/Shutterstock.com

Population: 68,000
This little gem of a town isn’t quite as little as it seems, and you might easily end up trekking five to 10 miles in a day here in order to see everything. Then again, all the tempting food is likely to slow you down a bit. The seafood is first-rate, as is, of course, the jamon — this is Spain after all, and you’ll find several specialty shops where you can pick up big joints of cured ham. I particularly love the cozy and romantic bars along the seafront — they’re perfect for trying out the local sherry and enjoying the flamenco music. For some excitement, visit in August when there are horse races on the beach.

10. Barranco, Peru

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Flickr/Kimon Berlin

Population: 46,000
Barranco is actually one of Lima’s 43 districts, but it’s the one that stands out and feels like a town on its own. This is where you will roam the streets with artists, writers, and musicians, and where you should fully expect to enter into eye-opening and mind-broadening discussions. And when you’re tired of all the intellectual deep thought, escape to the beach and jump on a surfboard — the conditions are absolutely ace. I also love the colonial architecture, the many green spaces, and, of course, the top-class nightlife. And who would have known, but Peruvian wine is catching up to its excellent cuisine. Prepare for some big surprises.

9. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

The World\'s Top 20 Small Towns, According to That Dude Who Visited Every Country

Flickr/Zhu

Population: 16,000
The bright colors of the wooden houses in this seaside town are amazing, but that’s not the half of it. Luckily, there’s even more to the area in natural beauty. Both the surrounding forests and remote beaches are must-visits, and the harbor and boats that anchor outside aren’t too bad either. The selection of restaurants and bars is solid for a town this size; just don’t ask for a Cuba Libre — bartenders will make you an equally good or better Nica Libre with local rum.

8. Napier, New Zealand

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Flickr/sam.romilly

Population: 61,000
This is one of the two coolest Art Deco cities IN THE WORLD, challenged only by Asmara in Eritrea. Napier, which is located in one of New Zealand’s wine districts, was totally rebuilt in 1931 following an earthquake, and it’s impressive. As for the wine, there are several tasting trips you can take that also include locally produced food; the cheese, in particular, is highly recommended. Also, don’t worry about finding a place to stay, the hotels are plentiful and available in all price ranges. Finally, random pub-quiz fact: the world’s longest place name (which my sister Kjersti amazingly knows by heart), Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, is only 100 miles away. A drive to at least the sign is a must for the wildest selfie of the year.

7. Ushuaia, Argentina

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Flickr/CucombreLibre

Population: 57,000
Naturally, the gateway to Patagonia and Antarctica delivers on nature. That’s expected. But throw in great restaurants and a few cool pubs, and you’ve got yourself a surefire winner. You’ll still want to leave the town to truly appreciate the area’s main attractions, including penguins, and be sure to venture into the area north of town where many of the locals live; the bright colors and architectural liberties will bring a big smile to your face.

6. Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania

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LMspencer/Shutterstock

Population: 16,000
Stone Town is in reality one of two parts of the larger Zanzibar city, but the one that has helped make Zanibar world famous. The architecturally impressive coral stone buildings from the 19th century are divided by very narrow streets and alleys and take hours to explore on foot. Notice the designer wooden doors! Plan on scuba diving with turtles and dolphins in some of the world’s clearest waters and haggling at the market for quality local spices to bring home with you. And no matter what, don’t miss out on the sunset — it’s one of the most famous in Africa and best enjoyed with a drink on a terrace.

5. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock

Population: 22,000
The historic seaport on the border of New Hampshire and Maine is a seafood lover’s dream and leaving without eating lobster from the area should be a crime — the quality is amazing and the prices much lower than expected. I love the small-town atmosphere in Portsmouth (it’s actually one of the oldest towns in the US), and it has a nice array of shops, pubs, breweries, and restaurants. And because Maine is across the bridge to the north, and Boston a short drive to the south, there’s plenty to see and do if you venture out.

4. Kep, Cambodia

The World\'s Top 20 Small Towns, According to That Dude Who Visited Every Country

Flickr/Jules

Population: 36,000
Cambodians have rediscovered Kep as a holiday destination and as such, you’ll find some truly great restaurants and a handful of watering holes by the beach (although it’s still not going to be a party town). Plus, there are a lot of hotels. You have to eat the crab, as it’s the delicacy here, and you can get it at the local crab market. The town’s well known for its extremely friendly locals (my brother and I helped a guy with his car once and were treated like heroes for the rest of the night), ecotourism activities, and some good/cheap massages. Just don’t expect any happy endings.

3. Tromsø, Norway

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Flickr/Michael Becker

Population: 72,000
This Norwegian outpost got its nickname, the Paris of the Nordics, for a reason: the nightlife and restaurant scene is thriving and outshines cities 10 times its size. Tromsø’s very northern location also provides you with the midnight sun every summer, which means that the sun NEVER sets. Combine that with too many drinks and your head will surely spin when you roll out of the bar at a very sunny 3am. Although in winter, just the opposite: no sun at all. Be sure to bring a light-sensitive camera to capture those northern lights.

2. Island of Saint-Louis, Senegal

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Michael Piccaya/Shutterstock

Population: 35,000 (estimate)
This was originally the capital of France’s colony in Senegal and hints can still be found in much of the architecture. The narrow 1.2-mile-long island in the middle of the Senegal River is part of the bigger city of Saint-Louis but houses the old colonial city — and that’s what you’re after. The impressive Faidherbe metal bridge is a third-of-a-mile long and connects the island to the mainland; you will take a photo of it. From the other side, you’ll take more — excellent, colorful shots of fishermen and their boats. What I love the most about this town is the number of traditional small shops and workshops where good old craftsmanship is still on display. The number of quirky bars and hotels doesn’t hurt its case either.

1. Falmouth, United Kingdom

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ian woolcock/Shutterstock

Population: 27,000
There is something magical about the county of Cornwall and its idyllic, friendly, and heartwarming towns and villages. The port of Falmouth has everything: small cobbled streets with traditional and not-so-traditional pubs and galleries, a beautiful port, ace views, beaches, and a university that specializes in the arts. Which guarantees some untraditional and fun people.

Cornwall’s also the best spot for surfing in Europe, so bring your board. Or rent one. Or, just opt for dark sunglasses, get a drink, and enjoy the view. Although don’t you dare leave without having a world-famous Cornish pasty — they can only legally be made in Cornwall. Oggy, oggy! (That’s the slang word for pastry.) Just don’t get too shocked, nor flatter yourself, when the 75-year-old shopkeeper greets you with “Hello, lover!” That only shows the friendliness of the people here, she is probably not trying to pick you up.

An incurable globetrotter, Gunnar Garfors has visited every country in the world and is the author of 198: How I Ran Out of Countries. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

*** Travel Essentials ***

So I’ve been trekking the globe for many years now and someone asked me the other day what are my absolute travel essentials.  Well it’s an excellent question – so here are MY suggestions for what I would never do without when away.  – Ned

Ned thumbs-up


Copies of All Travel Documents

Copies of All Travel Documents

Picture this: You’re having the time of your life in a far-off land, maybe so much fun that you notice your purse or wallet is no longer in your possession until it’s too late. It’s gone – and with it your cash, credit cards, and most alarmingly, your passport.

Before you leave, make sure to have a readily available good quality copy, whether a photocopy in your suitcase, a scanned version on your phone or in your email account, or a copy left with a trusted loved one back home who can email it to you in a pinch; preferably all three! This will make for a speedier replacement of your travel documents at the local embassy or consulate office.

Contact Info for Credit Cards

Contact Info for Credit Cards

Keep a running tab of the credit cards in your wallet, plus the various customer service numbers in case your cards are lost or stolen and you need to freeze transactions. The cash in your wallet may be long gone, but at least you won’t have to finance a thief’s credit-card shopping spree.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

You never know when you’re going to need a first aid kit in a hurry. For example, a friend went horseback riding on the beach in Nicaragua, totally unaware that she had developed a severe (but thankfully, non-deadly) allergy to horses. Within minutes, she was covered in a rash, her throat had tightened, and her eyes were so inflamed that her contact lenses came out. Moral of the story: be prepared for most emergencies with an epi pen, anti-emetics, antihistamines, analgesics, antibacterial cream, a single-use ice pack, sterile bandage and any other first aid kit basics you think might be useful.

Lightweight Waterproof Jacket

white water in France - Sillans-la-Cascade

OK so I’m not talking wetsuits here but few things are worse than being uncomfortably cold and damp. Be ready for those cool rainy days by packing a foldable jacket that’s guaranteed waterproof. With today’s advanced textiles, thin layers provide maximum warmth. Look for lightweight space-saving pieces that fold into their own pockets or pouches.

Sturdy Walking Shoes

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Some would say the trekker’s most important piece of equipment, strong waterproof comfortable footwear is ESSENTIAL people!  There’s nothing worse than missing all those new sights, sounds and smells because you’re concentrating on corns or a weeping blister.  And you don’t want to have to break into that first aid kit if you really don’t have to.

Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags

A plastic bag is an indispensable item for the smart traveller. Pack a few and use them to separate dirty from clean clothes in your suitcase, to take to the farmers’ market, or for soiled items.  Also essential for keeping passport/travel docs dry if you’re passing by Niagara Falls.  Depending on your budget, you can invest in heavy-duty vacuum or compression bags, or simply pick up a box of freezer bags (not just regular zip-top bags) or thick bin bags for just a few bucks.

Wet Wipes

wet wipes

Every parent knows not to leave home without them. From refreshing your dirty hands to wiping the fold-down tray on the plane, wipes are another must-pack travel item—and one that is readily available at the supermarket, pharmacy or even small local shack.  Get some at the airport if you forgot before you left.  Quality and pricing runs the gamut, but it’s easy to find good quality wipes at a decent price.

Universal Travel Adapter

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Socket configurations vary region-to-region, so this is another essential.  Choose a well-designed all-in-one unit, and make sure it includes a transformer or you could blow out your gadgets by using an incompatible voltage.

Duct tape

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Duct-tape.jpgNo, honest.  Notoriously versatile, this sticky, multipurpose adhesive has secured objects and helped people out of a jam since its invention during World War II to keep ammunition dry. And while it won’t help you if you forget something like your solar power kit, it’s the go-to repair tool.  The best use I ever put duct tape to was opening a particularly recalcitrant jar of olives!

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How to Stay Trim on Holiday

How to Stay Trim on Your Vacation

(Photo: Thinkstock/Photos.com)

Getting in swimsuit shape for your next trip? Sadly, we have some bad news: a recent UK study found that 6 out of 10 travellers gain weight over two-week holidays, and they typically put on a frightening five to seven pounds (3kg) during their time away. Talk about excess baggage!

But here’s the good news: vacation bingeing doesn’t have to bring you down. Smarter Travel interviewed licensed nutritionist Monica Reinagel for her top tips on staying fit and eating right while away – whether you’re on an island, in a city, or on top of a mountain. Here’s the skinny on how to come home looking as svelte as the day you left.


Take a Walk

Take a Walk

(Photo: Paul Lowry via flickr/CC Attribution)

Whenever possible, avoid hailing a taxi or hopping on the subway. As long as it’s safe, walking is the best way to take in your destination’s sights and sounds—all while squeezing in some exercise. For example, go on a guided walking tour or download an audio guide to your smartphone. While you’re in transit, avoid airport malaise by taking a walk through the terminal. According to Harvard University researchers, walking at a moderate pace for just a half hour can burn around 170 calories, so make sure your layover isn’t a lazy one.

And for the simplest tip of all: Skip the hotel or cruise-ship escalator and take the stairs. Just a few minutes of walking up a staircase will keep you reasonably active with limited investment. Do the same in museums, airports, train stations, and theme parks. All told, climbing five flights of stairs just three times per day will net you 75 calories.

Drink Smart

Drink Smart

(Photo: ruben i. via flickr/CC Attribution)

“The only bad alcohol is too much or what is mixed with it,” says Monica Reinagel. (These are words we love to hear!) So while that creamy pina colada may look like paradise in a glass, hidden inside are 500 or more nutrient-devoid calories, mostly from the corn-syrup-laden mix. Reinagel recommends that you forego bucket-sized tropical drinks brimming with fat and sugar. Instead, stick to a glass of wine or your favorite liquor and club soda. Rule of thumb: “Avoid anything with an umbrella in it.”

Also, keep in mind that at higher altitudes, your body will process alcohol less efficiently. In high-in-the-sky destinations like Denver, Colorado “You want to cut your normal consumption in half, at least for the first day or two,” says Reinagel, lest you end up with a horrible (and ski-prohibiting) hangover.

Adapt Your All-Inclusive

Adapt Your All-Inclusive

(Photo: Jacrews7 via flickr/CC Attribution)

Unlimited meals, drinks, and snacks can lead to a gluttonous getaway. Human nature dictates that the more options and flavors that are available to us, the more likely we are to overindulge, notes Reinagel. If possible, choose the a la carte, or “European,” plan during your stay. If the all-inclusive option is inevitable, eat smart. Limit yourself to the amount of meals you would normally eat at home, and balance your guilty pleasures with wise choices. For example, consider planning one or two indulgent meals at the resort’s flashiest restaurants while keeping the rest limited to plates of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

And as Reinagel points out, “These resorts are all-you-can-exercise, too.” So any late-night French-fry binges are easily outweighed by that scuba lesson you signed up for.

Dine In

Dine In

(Photo: Marriott International, Inc.)

Rent a vacation home with a kitchen, or book a hotel room with cooking facilities. Preparing your own meals is a sure way to keep your eating in check. Upon arrival, visit a local farmers’ market for fresh produce, and stock your rental’s shelves with truly local, healthful treats. And even if you just have a cooler or a minifridge, “Keep string cheese on hand,” recommends Reinagel. “It’s a nice, high-protein snack, a way to get some calcium, and easy to grab.” Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and hummus are also great items to buy.

If dining out is a must, Reinagel suggests the Stop & Go Fast Food Guide app will help when convenience is key and fast food is unavoidable.

Snack Often

Snack Often

(Photo: Betsssssy via flickr/CC Attribution)

Snacktime isn’t just for kids; travellers need a little mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up, too. Stash protein-packed snacks in your bag before hitting the town. “Avoid PowerBars and other performance bars,” warns Reinagel. These are wonderful for athletes who need endurance, but being filled with sugar, they’re not the casual traveler’s best pick for a between-sights nibble. The same goes for packaged granola bars, which can be slathered in corn syrup, chocolate, and preservatives. Instead, “Stick to loose granola, nuts, and dried fruit.” These foods are portable and rich in fiber, which will help you feel full well until your next meal.

“Long drives can get boring, and one of the reasons that we snack is that we’re trying to entertain ourselves,” says Reinagel. So if you’re planning a road trip, bring a healthy, easy-to-eat meal and some automotive amusement—or prepare to endure several hours of “I Spy.”

Stay Hydrated

Stay Hydrated

(Photo: Steven Depolo via flickr/CC Attribution)

Carry a refillable water bottle wherever you go, especially in tropical locales. Moderate dehydration can make a traveller feel hungry, when what one really needs is just H2O. If the drinking water in your destination is unsafe, pack extra bottled water for your daytime excursions. Avoid sodas and fancy hydration drinks, which may be high in calories (and pricey at that).

When flying, “You do need extra water, because the air is extra dry,” says Reinagel. “You are losing excess water just through your skin and through respiration.” She advocates accepting water whenever the flight attendant offers it and carrying a water bottle onto the plane. If you can sit through a seven-hour flight without using the facilities, you’re under-hydrated.

Hit the Gym

Hit the Gym

(Photo: Jean Philippe Piter)

When choosing a hotel for your stay, make sure the facilities include a gym or pool. If not, find out if your hotel offers discount passes to a local fitness center. Or, just use your hotel room! Reinagel recommends Ben Greenfield’s How to Work Out in a Hotel (the most equipment you’ll need is the furniture your room comes with). Taking even 15 minutes to do some in-room squats or to hit the elliptical at the hotel gym won’t cut into your leisure time one bit.

Best of all, researchers have found that your body continues to burn calories up to 14 hours post-workout, which gives you a little more leeway when mealtime comes around (and makes that dessert much, much sweeter).

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

(Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

When stuck at sea, it’s hard not to go overboard, at least where eating is concerned. Reinagel recommends taking advantage of your cruise’s activity-inducing amenities. (Think jogging tracks, rock walls, volleyball courts, and ice-skating rinks.) Snack smart between meals and use your dining plan to eat well. According to our sister site Cruise Critic, several lines publish nutritional information for their dining room options, while others offer spa menus that include nutritious, never-fried choices for the health-conscious cruiser. “This doesn’t mean that ships are dispensing with 24-hour pizzerias or unlimited soft-serve ice cream, but healthy options abound,” says Cruise Critic’s Ben Lyons. Good; we like to have our cake and eat it, too … after a splash in the wave pool.

Splurge Wisely

Splurge Wisely

(Photo: Paris Tourist Office/Amelie Dupont)

Vacations are all about new experiences, so save up for what counts: the local specialties. Don’t blow your diet on foods easily found at home. Instead, indulge on the local fare.

“When you are travelling, you need to know what your priorities are,” says Reinagel. “Some vacations are legitimately a time to indulge and enjoy—consciously and mindfully. This isn’t about draining all the joy out of vacation.” So if you’re in Paris, by all means, enjoy that baguette … but skip the frites. You can always have fast food at home, and you don’t want to waste time, money, and calories on something you’ve had a hundred times before. In other words, be adventurous and expand your palate—not your belt.

 

 

7 Foods You Should Eat Before Flying

And to complement my last piece, here are the superfoods you should eat before hopping on that next plane.

While some foods are definite no-nos at 35,000 feet, not all of your favorite culinary choices are off the table. Feast your eyes (and your mouth) on these seven foods you should eat before flying—and never be at the mercy of an in-flight airline meal again.


7 Foods You Should Eat Before Flying

Low-Sodium Items

Low-Sodium Items

(Shutterstock)

Too much salt can cause “jet bloat,” so stick to low-sodium snack choices in order to minimize discomfort. You can find many snacks and dishes specially marked as low-sodium, or choose foods that are naturally low on salt, like fresh fruits and non-cruciferous vegetables.

Oranges

Oranges

(Shutterstock)

Airports, airplanes, and, let’s face it, air travellers themselves are full of germs. Give your immune system a blast of vitamin C by snacking on an orange before take-off. Not only will you get vitamins, but you’ll also nab the added bonus of hydration—a sneaky way to get some liquids past the TSA.

Herbal Teas

Herbal Teas

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In large amounts, caffeinated drinks like coffee can dehydrate you. Choose herbal teas instead. They’re naturally decaffeinated and can help keep you hydrated. Select a peppermint blend for added stomach-soothing benefits.

Yogurt

Yogurt

(Shutterstock)

Flying can do a number on your stomach. The human body was not designed to digest food at seven miles above sea level. Guard against a future stomach bug by eating yogurt with natural probiotics, which, according to some experts, can help regulate your digestive system.

Water with Lemon

Water with Lemon

(Shutterstock)

Ever feel tired when you get off a plane? Don’t be so quick to blame jet lag—it could be dehydration, which can make you feel sleepy. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and throw a lemon slice or two in your cup—the citrus contains antibacterial properties that can alleviate sore throats.

Lean Protein

Lean Protein

(Shutterstock)

Lean protein will give you energy and satiety that you won’t get from, say, chicken fingers. Choose a protein source that’s not deep-fried or crusted with bread crumbs. You’ll stay full for a long flight, and your body won’t be overloaded with hard-to-digest fats.

Smoothies

Smoothies

(Shutterstock)

Smoothies combine two of our in-flight food superstars: yogurt and fresh fruit. They also provide hydration. Just watch out for smoothie bars that add tons of sugar to the mix, as that can lead to an unpleasant in-flight sugar crash. Stick with smoothies made from lots of fruit, plain yogurt, and ice.

 

 

12 Superfoods That Will Keep You Healthy While Travelling

12 Superfoods That Will Keep You Healthy While Traveling

Travel puts our bodies through a lot, whether we’re stifling our circulation on long flights or shocking or digestive systems with new foods. SmarterTravel has shared a lot of tips and tricks about how what you eat can affect the way you feel when travelling, but now we’ve discovered that it’s not just about avoiding the junk food. Certain foods known as “superfoods” are packed with vitamins and other health benefits and can prevent some of the worst travel symptoms. Incorporating any of these foods into your diet before and during travel will ensure that you’ll have a healthier and happier trip.


Quinoa

Quinoa

(Photo: Thinkstock/Zoonar)

When it comes to superfoods, quinoa is one of the most popular. It’s easy to find this grain incorporated into crackers, breads, and cereal. It’s high in fiber and iron, which makes it perfect for combating altitude sickness. Since the body compensates for reduced oxygen by making more red blood cells, you’ll want to keep your diet iron-rich to ease any nausea caused by altitude. For this reason, any meal with quinoa is perfect whether you’re about to board a long flight or go for a hike.

Lemons

Lemons

Nothing ruins a trip like getting sick, which is why you’ll want to get in the habit of asking for water with lemon. Because lemons are rich in Vitamin C, they act as an immune booster that will help you ward off fevers and colds.

Beets

Beets

Anyone who’s spent a long day sightseeing while simultaneously combatting jet-lag after a long-haul flight with no sleep knows how tiring travelling can be. To prepare for long and exhausting travel days, you can fill up on beets to boost your stamina.

Dark cherries

Dark cherries

If you have trouble falling asleep on planes, dark cherries are the perfect mid-flight snack. They are a wonderful natural source of melatonin, which eases your nervous system and helps you fall asleep.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

When you’re perusing the hotel fruit salad, make sure you don’t skip the cantaloupe. This super fruit is rich in Vitamin C and potassium, which will give you more energy. It also contains adenosine, which can help reduce the effect of altitude sickness.

Ginger

Ginger

(Photo: Thinkstock/Wavebreak Media)

For pretty much any ailment, ginger is the perfect remedy. Ginger helps your muscles relax, reduces headaches, relieves congestion, eases your stomach, and when ground up and applied as a paste, it can even help treat sun damage. Whether you incorporate ginger into your meals or just treat yourself to a cup of tea before bed, keeping this super root around is a good idea.

Persimmon

Persimmon

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Persimmons, also known by the Greeks as “the fruit of the gods” are extremely tasty and also extremely good for you. These sweet fruits aid in the creation of red blood cells, which reduce your chance of motion or altitude sickness.

Peppermint

Peppermint

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

If you’re feeling nauseous or suffering from digestion troubles, peppermint is a great way to fight back. Like ginger you can drink it as tea or you can chew on mint leaves to relieve nausea.

Yogurt

Yogurt

When you’re trying a lot of new and foreign foods, indigestion is never far away, which is why yogurt is the best food to combat an unhappy stomach. Probiotic yogurts are filled with good bacteria that will support a healthy digestive system.

Goji Berries

Goji Berries

These tart little berries are the perfect snack to keep in your travel bag, especially when you have some long days ahead of you. Goji berries are a natural source of energy and also help ward off sickness by boosting your immune system and your circulation.

Bananas

Bananas

(Photo: Thinkstock/moodboard)

Everyone knows bananas are a great source of energy in the morning, but did you know they are also muscle relaxants? Because they are rich in potassium and magnesium, bananas help support the production of melatonin. So whether you’re ready to jump start your day or relax before bed, a banana is the perfect snack.

Turmeric

Turmeric

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Related to the ginger plant, it’s no surprise that turmeric is a healthy and powerful spice. It not only supports your immune system, but also improves your circulation. It’s easy to add this any meal before your flight. May we suggest this recipe for quinoa, turmeric, and ginger curry for the perfect pre-flight meal?

 

 

Incredible Places That Don’t Exist, and Where to Go Instead

I’m a stickler for honesty in my travel blogging so I was pleased to see this feature from SmarterTravel via HuffPost.

With so many beautiful photographs of far-off destinations circulating the Internet, it should come as no surprise that some of these unbelievable places truly should not be believed. Through the power of Photoshop, artists can create beautiful scenes of fantasy worlds. But often, such images are taken out of context and advertised as real. You might have seen some of the following photographs making the rounds—the bad news is they’re totally fake, but the good news is there are places in the real world that are just as beautiful. Luckily for us, we live in a world so magnificent that it sometimes surpasses our imaginations.


The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye Scotland

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(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

One of the most popular picture hoaxes on the Internet, this photo and its bright purple trees are totally Photoshopped. On top of the fake color, this photograph isn’t even from Scotland’s Fairy Pools … it wasn’t even taken in Scotland. It is actually a photograph of New Zealand’s Shotover River—it’s just as beautiful, but somewhat disappointingly green.

Go Instead: If brightly colored trees stoke your wanderlust, head to Japan for cherry blossoms. In springtime, Japan comes together for Hanami, which literally translates into “flower viewing,” to celebrate the short window of two weeks in which the flowers bloom. One of the best places to see the bloom is Goryokaku Park in Hokkaido, but if you can’t make it to Japan, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is just as beautiful.

Moon and Star Island

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution/Share Alike)

This photo of two neighboring islands that appears to be shaped like a moon with a star is only half false. The crescent shape is real, part of a submerged volcanic crater in Hawaii, but the star is a total fake. Even without the star, Molokini Crater is still amazing, and turns out to be a pretty spectacular spot for scuba diving as well.

Go Instead: If a crescent without its star doesn’t do it for you, there are still some incredibly shaped islands out there, like Heart Island, a heart-shaped resort in in Fiji; or Dolphin Island, part of the Li Galli islands off Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Temple of Lysistrata, Greece

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

This enchanting scene of an ancient Greek temple is in reality, a photo mash-up between Rome’s Pantheon and the Benagil Cave in Portugal. There is no temple of Lysistrata and in fact, this photo fake-out takes its name from a Greek play of the same name.

Go Instead: If you want to see the combination of incredible architecture and natural cave formations, and are willing to climb the steep 272 steps it will take to get there, look no farther than Malaysia’s Batu Caves. This Hindu shrine consists of three main limestone caves and holds temples inside where visitors can marvel at the stalagmites and the giant golden statue of Murugan, the Hindu God of War.

Castle Island

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

This image of a castle balancing on top of a rock might seem amazing at first, but take a second to think about it and you’ll realize there’s no way this place could be real. It’s actually another photo mash-up of Khao Phing Kan island in Thailand and Lichtenstein Castle in Germany.

Go instead: If you’re looking for an island-bound castle, Italy’s Loreto Island is a magnificent alternative. A neo-gothic castle, constructed in 1910, crowns the island and, though the castle is privately owned, boat tours of the lake will take you past it.

Ngyen Khat Taktsang Monastery

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(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

This photograph of the “Ngyen Khat Taktsang Monastery” depicts a carving of Buddha in a truly impossible location: On the sheer side of a massive natural sandstone pillar. While the pillar in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is real, the carving is totally fake. Seriously, how would people even get up there?

Go Instead: If your interest is piqued for monasteries carved into rock, Jordan’s Petra is the perfect fit. Carved from the red sandstone canyons over 2,000 years ago, Petra is one of the wonders of the world. If you like your monasteries with a touch of vertigo, make a trip to the the truly gravity-defying Taktsank Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest, in Bhutan.

Ned’s Tip:

 

9 Money-Saving Tricks Every Traveller Should Know

Listen to Huffpost Travel

Rolf Bruderer via Getty Images

In Savvy travellers know that they should book flights far in advance, and they know that packing a carry-on saves coin.

But master travellers take things just a feeew steps further, and they save big-time on trips as a result. Check out some of our all-time favorite money hacks for travel, and get ready for quite possibly the cheapest trip of your life.

1. Get your passport renewed NOW. 

If your passport expires in 2016, you are not alone. The U.S. State Department is expecting lots of passport renewal applications this year, now that a batch of 10-year passports from 2006 and 2007 are set to expire. In 2007, millions of Americans scrambled to get their first passports because the Western Hemisphere Travel initiative went into effect, which required passports for people travelling from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

Now, the increased amount of renewals could result in some delays. While you can order an expedited passport, it can cost even more money in additional fees. Do yourself a favor and don’t spend more than you need to.

2. Compare the prices of multi-city ticket reservations with individual one-way legs. 

Delta, United and American Airlines quietly changed how they price multi-city tickets, which could result in your paying hundreds of dollars more. If you’re planning on booking a trip involving multiple cities, be sure to search for individual one-way legs. You could save major cash.

Andrew Bret Wallis via Getty Images

3. Head to Costco.

The gift that keeps on giving, Costco has a discount travel site dedicated to members finding some awesome deals. The car rental tool price compares Avis, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo, and takes into account all available coupons you may not even know about. You can also find discount tickets to theme parks and other attractions.

4. Buy your airline tickets on sale. 

Yes, really! Some of your favorite airlines including JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier and Virgin America announce surprise flash sales that offer tons of flights for incredibly low prices — sometimes as low as $34! There are always blackout dates and specific days you have to fly on, but if your schedule is at all flexible, it’s an awesome way to travel for cheap. The best way to find out about the sales is to sign up for the airline emails and like their Facebook pages.

5. Or book on a “magic day” for the best fares.

Diligent research has found that for domestic travel, plane tickets tend to hit their lowest prices exactly 54 days before takeoff. If an airline flash sale doesn’t come your way, this is the next best bet.

Mint Images/ Frans Lanting via Getty Images

6. Let Google plan your trip.

Google Flights will suggest flight swaps, time swaps and route changes that will save you money on your plane tickets, and you don’t have to lift a finger. Meanwhile, their new Destinations tool will tell you the cheapest time to visit a whole host of global destinations, based on tourist seasons and price shifts.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask a travel agent.

Thanks to their connections with hotels and cruise lines, real-deal travel agents often have access to deals that you won’t find online. Do a quick price comparison to make sure you’re not getting duped, and then prepare to score BIG time. 

David Malan via Getty Images

8. Pay super close attention to the credit card you’re using.

Not only are there credit cards with top-notch rewards programs, but there are also cards that offer you way more protection than others when you’re globetrotting. Some cards automatically come with travel insurance, rental car insurance, roadside assistance and free checked bags. Others will reimburse you when airlines won’t for lost luggage or other flight reservation issues.

9. Use apps wisely.

HotelTonight, Hopper, Jetsetter, GILT Travel… these are just some of the travel apps out there that want to find you the best deal. Hopper will track airfare prices, while HotelTonight will offer you great deals on hotel rooms.

 

 

 

Quit Your Job and Travel: How to Make Your Dream a Reality

We’ve all fantasized about giving our real lives the middle finger and travelling the world like that chick from Eat, Pray, Love. But making that fantasy a reality seems nearly impossible, right? You couldn’t possibly pull that off… could you?

Well, not to tempt you – but to totally tempt you – you can! And to help you do it, we asked people who’ve successfully quit their jobs, travelled for at least one year, and transitioned back into the real world for their best advice, tips, and words of wisdom. These are their suggestions.


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Authentic Creations/Shutterstock

First and foremost, as one of our world travellers put it: “You need to be very conscious of your comfort level to do this.” And a large part of that comfort level is saving enough cash. Most of the people we talked to gave themselves a full year (minimum) of planning time from when they made the decision to travel, to actually boarding an airplane or packing up the car.

Save, save, save

1. Downsize in every way possible
Remember that rule, “If you haven’t worn/used it in a year, you should get rid of it”? Well, if you’re going to be gone for at least a year — time to start tossing. And unless you have an extremely unhealthy attachment to your coffee table, and actually even if you do, it just makes more fiscal sense to get your furniture on Craigslist than it does to pay to store it. That money can also go towards your travel budget.

Living solo? Consider getting some roommates for the next year to lower your rent costs. “I was living in a house at the time and in order to save money, I unloaded as much of my stuff as possible and moved in with two guys I’d never met,” explained Brooke Reynolds, who left her marketing job in Atlanta  to spend a year circling the globe.

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Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

2. If moving home is an option, do it
Obviously, even better than downsizing your rent is paying no rent at all. So if your parents are cool with it, and you’re cool with them for an extended period of time, this is a solid option. Plus, there’s far less stigma to “he/she lives with their parents” when you’re gearing up to live abroad for year.

“I moved home, sacrificed my ‘fun life’ — when everyone is going out and partying — to save money to do this. I was putting away every paycheck, and that was a conscious decision,” said Trevor Gribble, who moved to China after graduate school, travelled the globe off and on for years, and then finally launched his own yoga company. “You have to be very honest with yourself about the money you need — you need to evaluate a budget. It’s possible you won’t be earning a dime for a year; you need to tell yourself that a lot.”

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Syda Productions/Shutterstock

3. Organize your finances
Create a separate “travel account.” This will be your budget for the entire year, and should be used for only your trip. In other words, keep this account completely separate from the account you use to pay stuff like student loans, car payments, health insurance, etc. “You don’t want to worry about the money intertwining,” added Reynolds. “I put my personal account on autopilot for bills. It’s like it wasn’t even there.”

4. Direct all gifts to cash
Have a birthday coming up? Leaving for your trip after the holidays? Great, tell your friends and family you don’t need a new scarf and sweater set this year (or, ever) — you need cash. According to a couple of our globetrotters, you can even take this a step further by setting up a page for “donations” like those hardcore race runners do — if nothing else, this could potentially trick your dad into thinking it’s tax deductible. “It’s cool for them to feel like they’re a part of it… that they help you get there.”

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Corepics VOF/Shutterstock

Map out where you’re going (but keep your budget in mind)

Obviously, if your dream is to trek around Cambodia, you’ll need to save far less money than if you’re taking a Eurail across Europe. Figure out where you’d at least like to start the trip, and budget accordingly.

We asked our panel for suggestions on cheaper destinations where you can really stretch your budget and destinations ranged from Eastern Europe (Budapest, Croatia, Serbia, Poland, Prague, Slovenia, and Bratislava) and Central/South America to Southeast Asia and even parts of Spain. If you’re looking for ideas, here are a dozen countries you can visit for under $50 a day, the cheapest destinations in the Caribbean, and 12 of the world’s most unbelievably cheap paradises.

Quit your job and/or negotiate a sabbatical

These are two very different ways to handle leaving your job, and it of course all depends on your place of employment and whether you want to return. (Also, if you only want to travel for a few months rather than a full year.) But there is one common denominator: be as upfront with your employer as possible, giving them and yourself plenty of time to determine the best plan.

“I quit giving my company almost two months’ notice — this is going to be different for everyone, so you need to feel that out on your own,” said Reynolds. “It’s best just to have an open conversation about it. Be as courteous to your employer as possible; tell them your plan, and they may be willing to work with you.”

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Sergey Furtaev/Shutterstock

Seriously, pack light

You’ve been hearing this all your life, but this may be the only time it actually really matters. You will be carrying this non-emotional baggage with you around the world for 365 days. Overpacking will literally only hurt you. “You just don’t need that much stuff,” laughed Reynolds. “And more than that, you just don’t care after a while. It’s also a huge perk to have a small bag for trains and hostel storage.”

As far as what you do pack, don’t bring anything you’re too attached to or that isn’t useful in more than one climate. “I ended up with holes in pretty much all my clothes. Also, be prepared to hang-dry your clothes in almost every single country. Dryers are a luxury, so bring clothes you can dry fast or plan to wait.”

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Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock

The time has arrived! You’ve saved your money, quit your job, and are headed to the airport. Now, here are a few tips to stretch those hard-saved funds and make the most of your big adventure.

Hostels are your best friends

Almost all the travellers we spoke to did this solo, and therefore stressed the importance of forming a community while overseas. And even though it could mean lots of partying (poor you!), hostels are the ultimate way to do this.

“It’s the only way that I met other travellers from all over the world — people who I’m still friends with today — and really the best way to see the city through organized tours, bar crawls, excursions, and a local’s eye,” stressed Reynolds. Here are our guides to:
The Best Hostels in the United States
Upscale Hostels That Are Better Than Hotels
The Craziest Party Hostels in the World (and more of them, here)

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Master1305/Shutterstock

Relocate cars & stick out that thumb

John Hughes obviously knew Trains, Planes & Automobiles were a harmonious trio, but the third option could actually be your cheapest — even free! — bet for a year-long excursion.

“We drove for free all through Australia and New Zealand by using a website called Transfercar, where you sign up to help move cars around the country. It’s a great way to see everything,” said Gribble. “There are always cheap flights, and EuroRail, but you don’t realize how much more you can see when you’re not at the mercy of a schedule. Driving is the way to go.”

And despite how many times you’ve seen Wrong Turn, never fear: it’s actually both very common and safe in most countries to hitchhike… trust us, here’s our guide to hitchhiking.

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eska2005 / Shutterstock.com

Don’t map out everything   

There’s a difference between having a general plan, and a meticulous itemized itinerary. Even if you do the latter, it will almost 100% change to some degree — so don’t bother. “If you over-plan or try to plot out a year’s worth of travel, you are going to miss out on a huge part of the adventure,” warned Reynolds. “Some of the best places I went were suggested to me days or hours before I actually left.”

Buying your tickets in advance online can also be more expensive, thanks to the American IP address. Talk to the tourism boards, people you meet along the way, and just buy the tickets at the counter for a cheaper and more flexible trip.

Also, snagging a flight at one of the budget airlines like easyJet, Ryanair, and Aer Lingus can actually work out in your favor as they tend to drop the prices, rather than jack them up near the end. Think of it as scalping a ticket for a game after kick-off, they’re desperate to unload them.

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alexandre zveiger/Shutterstock

Work while you’re travelling

If the idea of making zero income for a year makes you break into a cold sweat, there are several ways to earn a buck — or literally work for food — during your travels.  “A lot of people I met worked at the hostels, which is really easy to do and usually means you can stay for free, and even eat for free,” said Reynolds. “One of the best places in the world to do that is South America.”

Most importantly, utilize your own skills, which is exactly what Gribble did when he found out he could earn money from one of his favorite hobbies: yoga. “I went with the idea of making some money, somehow,” he explained. “I started teaching yoga classes for fun and realized I could actually make money from this. It was a 180-degree difference because [working] made me a conscious, living traveler — not a party traveller.”

Don’t know a Downward-Facing Dog from Tree pose? Don’t worry, you can often find work doing everything from waiting tables or bartending, to painting boats, teaching English, or even picking grapes. For more tips on both working and saving cash abroad, we’ve got you covered here.

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Expecting the worst is a good thing

OK, now to get a little less practical, and a little more philosophical. Perhaps the most important thing to know before and during your trek is there’s only one thing you can actually plan: things will not go as planned. And you don’t necessarily want them to either.

“If you go into this thinking you’re going to make every flight on time, and you won’t go over a budget, or just think everything will be smooth, it’s like setting yourself up to fail — it’s just not realistic,” explained Gribble. “Be ready for shitty things to happen. You can rebound better knowing that.”

Finally, create a softer landing before you come home

Sadly, coming back to reality is inevitable. But to make it less overwhelming (and less depressing if/when you return to your high school bedroom), here are a few tips to help you get back into the job market:

  • Make a list of places you want to apply to before you even leave
  • Have your updated resume and emails ready to go
  • Blast them all out about a week before you head home
  • Follow up with everyone as soon as you get back

Liz Newman is a freelance writer for Thrillist and quit her first job to travel for nearly two months — and she thought THAT was a big deal. Follow her perpetual wanderlust on Twitter and Instagram at @lizn813.

 

Secret Tourist-Free Spots to View the World’s Most Famous Attractions

A neat little article here from Barbara Woolsey for Thrillist.

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David Evison/Shutterstock

In the TV show An Idiot Abroad, Ricky Gervais sends his buddy Karl to the Petra Monastery in Jordan, where Karl learns that the best view isn’t actually standing in front of the monastery but from a cave across the way. And what he says upon realizing this is actually freakin’ enlightening: “You’re better off livin’ in the hole looking at the palace, than living at the palace looking at the hole.”

Karl’s right: sometimes the better vantage point is where you least expect it (or rather, where you will encounter the fewest number of selfie sticks). Which is why we tracked down eight lesser-known spots for seeing some of the world’s biggest attractions.

St. Peter’s Basilica

Rome, Italy
Viewing spot: The Knights of Malta Keyhole
Unfortunately, there’s no other way to marvel at Michelangelo’s handiwork than to go inside of St. Peter’s Basilica, but you won’t want to miss seeing it from this other stealthier spot. It’s a teeny keyhole that perfectly frames the Renaissance church! Get there by climbing Aventine Hill and finding The Knights of Malta building, HQ to the world’s oldest order of knighthood.

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Matteo Gabrieli/Shutterstock

Wat Arun

Bangkok, Thailand
Viewing spot: The Deck
This Buddhist temple is a must-visit in Bangkok, but can be a real pain to get to — we’re talking jumping boats and dodging tourists. If you don’t really care about climbing the temple, book a table at The Deck restaurant for sunset drinks (by Western prices, it’s reasonable). You’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of Wat Arun sparkling on the water, with a breeze and cocktail thrown in for good measure.

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Flickr/Adam Baker

Acropolis

Athens, Greece
Viewing spot: Filopappou Hill
So Acropolis admission is going up this year (because, Greek debt crisis), but hold onto your Euros: one of the best spots to admire the ruins is actually totally free. Climbing up Filopappou Hill, you can get an awesome panorama of Athens, the Aegean, and even a full shot of the Acropolis — no backdrop of tour groups necessary.

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dimitris_k/Shutterstock

Berlin Wall

Berlin, Germany
Viewing spot: Invalids’ Cemetery
Go ahead and get that necessary selfie against some East Side Gallery graffiti, but also take time to check out Invalids’ Cemetery where a decrepit, lesser-known piece of the Berlin Wall still remains. Here in what was once “no man’s land” between East and West, you’ll also find the resting places of WWI veterans and Nazi leaders.

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Visit Berlin

Christ the Redeemer

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Viewing spot: From a helicopter
OK, OK, so not really a secret spot (or even an accessible one really), BUT if you’re only going to splurge $150 on a token tourist chopper ride once in your lifetime, trust us — Rio’s the place. Forty thousand feet in the air is where you’ll get the most epic view of Christ the Redeemer, including the bottom part, which can’t be seen from ground entry.

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Hollywood Sign

Los Angeles
Viewing spot: Lake Hollywood Park
Hiking Hollywood Ridge and Beachwood Canyon are the most popular ways to set eyes on this crucial American landmark, but your best view is actually (perhaps too sensibly) from underneath. Locals love to disagree about where that prime real estate is, but when it comes to overall experience, there’s Lake Hollywood Park. It’s one of the easier spots to find with a clear view of the sign, and a pretty location on its own boasting greenery and a neighboring reservoir.

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Flickr/Steve Boland

Cliffs of Moher

County Clare, Ireland
Viewing spot: Coming from Doolin
Google Ireland’s most famous attraction, and you’ll pull up words like “tourist trap” and “overrated” pretty quick. But blogger Shannon O’Donnell found a route through pastures starting in a charming village called Doolin (another town, Galway, is where most tourists head in from). Trade-off? There’s a high probability you will be stepping in cow patties.

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Flickr/Francesc Gonzalez

Taj Mahal

Agra, India
Viewing spot: Yamuna or Agra Rivers
Ah Taj Mahal, there you are as the world’s No.1 tourist trap and bane of happy-go-lucky travel photographers everywhere. Getting the money shot of this architectural wonder can be unbelievably tricky, and that’s why your best bet is on riverbanks, or even ON the water. Hire a boat to float out for a unique, full frontal angle. Trade-off? Sewage smell. Better than big crowds and fending off scams? You decide.

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100 Ways to Save a Ton of Money When You Travel

Excellent advice from the guys at Thrillist – Ned


The biggest excuse people make for not traveling is that it costs too much money. And, sure, spending hundreds of dollars to fly to a place only to then spend even more money on a bed and food isn’t always in everyone’s budget. But travel doesn’t have to be expensive, and we don’t want that to be your excuse.

So to help you plan your next trip on the cheap, we compiled a list of our best money-saving travel tips. From rental car steals and airfare hacks, to cruise secrets and the cheapest Caribbean paradises, here are 100 ways to navigate the globe for pennies on the dollar.

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Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock (Edited)

1. Don’t use US-based search engines exclusively to book flights

US-based search engines, like all search engines, have blind spots — they miss budget, foreign, and smaller regional airlines. To get a better picture of who flies where and for what price, be sure to search multiple airfare websites. Two of the best are momondo.com and Skyscanner.com.

2. Don’t book your flight too early

The best time to book an international flight is four to six months before you fly, as that’s when the airlines have a better idea of how quickly (or slowly) a flight will start selling out — and they raise or lower fares accordingly. For domestic tickets, it’s between one to two months.

3. Use our step-by-step guide to hack cheap airfares using foreign websites and currency

Going straight to a foreign airline’s website, pretending you’re in that country, and booking with the local currency can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars. And the best part: all of the currency conversions are done by the credit card company. Here’s how you do it. (Note: Make sure the foreign airline site you’re using accepts US credit cards before you hit “Buy” — or whatever “Buy” is in that language.)

4. Use hidden-route ticketing when booking your flight

We explain it in more detail here, but essentially, search engines rarely check every combination of connecting flights to a destination, and you can often get there much cheaper by flying through a “hidden,” less popular airport. Tripdelta is one site that puts together hidden-route tickets, and on international flights, it can make a huge difference.

5. Fly off-peak hours and days

And that’s not just flying between 5-7am or after 8pm, but also on days when people don’t traditionally travel. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are typically the best days for cheaper fares.

6. Buy two one-ways on different airlines

When flying domestically, it can often be cheaper to mix-and-match airlines or buy two one-way flights instead of a single round-trip ticket on the same airline. Look for one-way deals on Airfarewatchdog.com or TheFlightDeal.com and use the American Express travel site to combine one-way flights on airlines.

7. Clear your browser’s cookies before buying a flight

According to Min-Jee Hwang of Wiser, a firm that analyzes pricing strategies, airlines use browser cookies to help track your flight search; it’s called “dynamic pricing,” and it means that prices change based on demand and conditions. While no airline has ever fessed up to doing this, best to play it safe and clear your search history and your cookies before each flight search. Or better still, use an incognito window.

8. Use a credit card that covers checked-bag fees

You can avoid an airline’s baggage fees by simply applying for that airline’s branded credit card! Though these cards come with annual fees ranging from $65-$95, if you fly even just a few times a year (or as a large family) on that airline, the money you save more than pays for the card. Plus: bonus miles, priority check-in, security, boarding, and even lounge access! Or, if you want a more general travel card with similar benefits, check out our rundown of the best five here.

9. Fly budget airlines

While we have only a few budget airlines in the United States, the rest of the world is awash in low-cost carriers selling tickets at rock-bottom prices (though be sure to follow their ticketing rules exactly so you don’t get hit with a ton of fees). From WOW, Norwegian, and Ryanair in Europe, to Air Asia, to Tiger Airways in Australia, and GOL and Sky in South America, you have lots of options. In fact, Air Asia once ran a 10 countries in 30 days for just $160 deal.

10. Use these tips to score cheaper tickets on Kayak

From fare forecast and three-day flex search to scoping out the Travel Hacker for popular destinations, here are six ways to turn Kayak into your new flight-booking bestie.

11. Sign up for email alerts and use last-minute deals

If you don’t mind traveling last minute, The Flight Deal, Airfarewatchdog, and TravelPirates.com are three of the best sites to sign up for to score immediate flight deals. Careful though: they may end up in your “Promotions” folder so be sure to check that regularly.

12. Join this all-you-can-fly airline service

Sure, you gotta fly a lot to make it worth it, but if you find yourself traversing coasts (or within your region) multiple times a month, OneGo offers unlimited flights on major airlines for as little as $1,500 per month.

13. Fly into cheaper, alternate US airports

As long as the cost of getting from the airport to where you’re going doesn’t negate the airfare savings, flying into places like Oakland (SF), Ft Lauderdale (Miami), Burbank (LA), and Baltimore (DC) can be a lot cheaper. Here’s a good list of alternate airports.

14. Or into one of these cheaper European airports

Europe is hip to the off-airport discount game too. If you’re planning to visit multiple countries on your big Euro vacation, chances are one of these 12 airports will be somewhere on your itinerary.

15. Use our step-by-step guide to finding deals on Google Flights

Between the lowest-fare graph, tips on alternate flight dates/airports, and the “I’m Feeling Lucky” function, this guide to Google Flights should tilt things in your favor.

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16. Visit Panama, Fiji, or another country where you can get by on less than $25 a day

Did you know you can stay in Medellin for $6 a night? Or eat in Uganda for $3 a day? You can. Getting there may cost a bit, but once you arrive, you won’t be spending much.
 Here’s our full list of under-$25-a-day destinations.

17. Or one of these 12 countries for less than $50 a day

Yeah, if you wanna go a little more upscale, Portugal, Cambodia, and much of Central America are calling.

18. Descend upon some of the world’s cheapest paradises

The Pearl Islands, Guanajuato, Ksamil Beach. Never heard of them? Exactly. That’s why they — along with the mountain paradise of Las Trancas in Chile or remote Avarua in the Cook Islands — don’t cost that much; there aren’t nearly as many tourists to gouge. Here are 12 spots that must be on your travel bucket list.

19. Or get a great deal staying on one of these Caribbean islands

Caribbean vacations don’t have to break the bank and/or involve sitting next to Jay and Bey on the beach in St. Barts. Hotel rooms in Barbados go for $50 a night and they sell beer in Grenada for 56 cents! Here is our shortlist of the cheapest destinations in the islands.

20. Hit Europe’s 10 cheapest countries

The Iron Curtain was pretty lousy, but there’s an upside to Eastern Europe being new to the tourism game — the countries are just as historic and beautiful, but much cheaper. Check out Romania, Poland, the Balkans, and other Eastern European spots for a Euro trip at a fraction of the cost.

21. Or experience Europe for less in one of these alternatives to the more popular vacation spots

Not only is the beer in Prague just as good as in Munich, but it’s actually cheaper than water. And the party scene in Riga, Latvia, is right up there with Ibiza. Trust us. Point is, you don’t need a famous name to have a fantastic time. Here’s our rundown of cheaper alternatives to popular European destinations.

22. Better still, maybe just stay close to home

And visit one of the 25 best American cities for a weekend.

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23. Use BlaBlaCar and other ride-sharing websites

A growing trend in the travel world is ride-sharing, where locals driving from point A to point B take on passengers to share gas and potentially awkward conversation. Drivers are vetted and verified, and it’s a good way to avoid stuffy trains and buses, meet interesting characters, and take a mini road trip. It will also save you a ton of money, and you’ll have a much more interesting experience.

24. Take public transportation and avoid cabs

Unless, of course, it’s late at night or you’re traveling with a group. In general though, cabs in other countries are easily the most expensive way to travel. If you’ve got time, the public transport is not only cheaper, but a great way to meet and learn from locals.

25. Even better, walk or rent a bike

A lot of cities today have easy-to-use bike-sharing programs where you can pretty much grab two wheels and go. Here are the most bike-friendly cities in the US — and in the world — as well as the easiest US cities to navigate without a car.

26. Don’t discount the bus, even in the US

BoltBus can get you from DC to New York for $20. Beat that, Amtrak! Suck it, Delta! Other countries often have even larger disparities between bus and air/train travel, especially regions where locals typically can’t afford flights.

27. Use these Uber hacks

By now we all know about the new-rider discount, right? But did you know there are apps that can show you which ride-sharing services are cheapest in your area? Or ones that predict when surge pricing will hit?

28. Hitchhike

One of the best ways to travel cheap is to not pay for it. Hitching is common all over the world, even in the US, and there’s no evidence that it’s inherently unsafe. Just use your head and be smart — also follow our guide to hitchhiking.

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29. Couch surf

One of the best ways to get free accommodation is by staying with someone who lives where you’re going. Naturally. Couchsurfing and similar sites like Global Freeloaders and Hospitality Club are the best ones out there to find a local willing to give you a free place to rest your head, as well as insider information and — If you’re lucky! — maybe even someone to hang out with.

30. Swap your house

Another way to get cheap accommodation abroad is through a home exchange. Just as it sounds, you switch homes with a family from another country for a set amount of time. They live in your home with your spouse, and you live in… just kidding. But, no, you do switch homes. The best resource is the website Home Exchange.

31. Volunteer to stay for free via WWOOFing or HelpX

If you’re up for volunteering your time in exchange for room and board, you can find farm and other work across the globe. With WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), you’ll mostly be a farm hand, but HelpX.net has all sorts of odd jobs (some of which are even paid).

32. Don’t book hotels online, always call the non-800 number instead

Online-booking platforms are a middleman, so calling the hotel directly cuts them out — and can cut your rate down. Just be sure to call the local reservations number, as the national reservation agents rarely have the power to offer discounts.

33. Stay in a hostel

They’re cheaper than hotels (and many Airbnbs) and, contrary to what you might’ve heard, your stay won’t end like a horror movie. Believe us, hostels are NICE these days. Here are our recommendations for the best hostels in every major European city, the United States, and everywhere, assuming you like to party (and even more party hostels, here). Also, these upscale hostels are better than most hotels.

34. Stay in one of these five-star luxury hotels for under $100 a night

That’s right, here are 11 five-star properties across the globe with nightly room rates under a C-note. You’re welcome.

35. Camp

Hit one of these beach camping spots, and you’re guaranteed an ocean view, every time. A night of camping usually costs a fraction of a room rate, so even if you’re not sticking to the sand, here are some of the best campsites in the US. And just think, you even get to learn how to cook on a Coleman stove!

36. Book an Airbnb/rent an apartment

Apartments are the go-to here if you’re traveling as a group, as they’re almost always cheaper than getting multiple hotel rooms. But even flying solo, a private room can offer significant savings. If you’re looking for the cheapest Airbnb in 25 US cities, we’ve got you covered. HomeAway, HouseTrip, and VRBO are also good options.

37. Use Facebook/social media to find people to stay with

There are tons of travel and local community groups on Facebook that can be an invaluable source of local knowledge, travel partners, and potential friends! Just post a message to the group and see which friendly Swede offers to tour you around Oslo.

38. Road trip with an air mattress

If you’re going the “staying with friends” route, it’s a lot easier to find someone to give you a roof over your head than a bed to sleep in.

39. Check out the eight nicest budget hotels in North America

They’re nicer than you think! Motel 6 has come a loooong way from being the roadside inn of last resort. Many budget chains are in the process of morphing their locations into sleek, mod properties — but ones that are still priced for the budget traveler. Don’t believe us? Take a look here.

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Jacob Lund/Shutterstock (Edited)

40. Use WhatsApp for everything communication

Using WhatsApp and Viber will allow you to text and call people for FREE around the world. Or use Google+, Skype, or Vonage cards for phone calls.

41. Use local SIM cards

In many countries, the 3G service is far better than what you’ll find trying to connect to local Wi-Fi. And it allows you more flexibility in terms if where you’re connected and what you can do.

42. Tell your mobile provider you’re going abroad

Most carriers have international plans that aren’t prohibitively expensive (T-Mobile offers calls at 20 cents per minute, and AT&T’s Passport plan starts at $30). But even if you don’t want to change plans, follow these tips to avoid a $1,000 phone bill.

43. Turn off data roaming and roaming assist

Or, more simply, just put your phone in airplane mode when you take off and leave it there. If you connect to Wi-Fi, make sure your data assist is turned off too; otherwise, your phone might automatically use your data to boost a lagging Wi-Fi signal.

44. Hack into free Wi-Fi at the airport

Easy enough with these six tips.

45. Get the monthly, all-airlines Gogo subscription

If you take more than two flights a month, the $49.95 monthly subscription is the cost-saving play. Otherwise, you could be dropping $29.95 a flight.

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46. Bring your own food onboard the plane

Instead of buying expensive airport food or eating horrible airline food, or making a healthy meal from only things available at the Hudson News, just pack your own lunch. As long as you aren’t traveling outside the country, you can still take food with you on airplanes.

47. Cook for yourself

The best way to save money on the road is to cook all your own meals. If you’re crashing on somebody’s couch, you should have access to a kitchen. Same if you’re in a hostel, campsite, or guesthouse. No kitchen? Pack your own container and plasticware and make sandwiches and salads on the go. Just because you’re traveling, that doesn’t mean you need to eat out every meal.

48. Take extra food from your hostel’s breakfast spread

If you’re staying in a hostel, take extra fruit, meats, cheese, and bread and make yourself a sandwich for lunch. It covers an extra meal and while not the most gourmet déjeuner you’ve ever eaten, it will be free!

49. Learn how to spot a tourist-trap restaurant

Simple, don’t eat anywhere near tourist sites. Even three blocks away, the price of everything drops considerably. Also, most restaurants in tourist locations are terrible. Here are 12 ways to tell if you’re eating in a tourist trap.

50. Drink water and only water

Those eight Diet Cokes you down every day are more expensive than beer in some countries, and no other country gives you free refills. Kick the soda (and juice) habit and avoid snacking — all those gelatos and chips add up. Plus, you’ll be thankful you stayed hydrated.

51. And speaking of water, bring an empty bottle to the airport

This not only saves you money on water at the aforementioned Hudson News, it also saves you from being that guy who asks for water as soon as he gets on the plane.

52. If you are drinking beer, though, go local

You know how Heineken is marked up in the US because it’s an import? Well guess what Bud Light is overseas? That’s right, an import, and the national beer will probably be half the price. And speaking of cheap beer, here are the world’s cheapest.

53. Eat street food and visit the local markets

In most places around the world, the streets are lined with food stalls. You grab a plate, sit down in a little plastic chair, and enjoy a delicious meal. Meals at street stalls (different from street vendors, who have a slightly more permanent setup) usually cost less than a dollar, and are a way to really experience the local cuisine. Many places — like Thailand, for example — wouldn’t be the same if the street food disappeared.

54. Have a picnic or cookout

Even if your hotel room isn’t equipped with a kitchen, you can probably find a public park with outdoor grills. It’s a more authentic experience than most restaurants and is as easy as hitting the local grocery store.

55. Make your own mid-flight cocktails

Though mini-bottles of liquor CAN legally be taken through security, airlines do NOT allow you to open them onboard. So, you’ve legally been warned, you should not do this. That said, here are some recipes (and more recipes) for making tasty inflight cocktails. Note: You can, obviously, also use these recipes with the bottles of booze you buy from the flight attendant.

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56. Get a Charles Schwab bank account to avoid paying ATM fees

ATM fees range from $2.50 to $5 abroad, not counting the fee the overseas bank may charge. However, the best way to avoid all ATM fees is to get a Charles Schwab checking account, which comes with reimbursed ATM fees (and no, Chuck’s not paying us to say that). They won’t charge you a fee and WILL reimburse any that are charged by the bank! Win-win! (More ways to save on overseas banking fees can be found here!)

57. Take out larger sums of money at once to avoid bank fees

Assuming you don’t have a CB card, minimize your ATM trips by taking out more money at once. Just keep it locked in the hostel locker or hotel safe. And follow our guide to avoid getting pickpocketed.

58. Don’t exchange money at the airport

They typically offer the double whammy of the worst exchange rates and highest fees.

59. Get one of the best travel rewards cards

We run through five of the best credit cards for travel perks here, including the Capital One Venture Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred. Many come with double miles/points, no foreign transaction fees, and rental car coverage, etc. Also, this is kind of a no-brainer but it’s worth a reminder: use your damn miles or points! Even if they don’t expire, it’s not like you’re getting interest on them by letting them sit in your account. You racked them up for a reason, don’t be afraid to spend them.

60. Now pay with that credit card whenever possible to get the best exchange rate

Your credit card will probably give you the best exchange rate of anyone, just make sure you get a card that doesn’t charge international transaction fees. Simply, if a vendor accepts credit, use it!

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61. Download/take free walking tours

They’re far less cheesy than ones you’ll pay for, might teach you more, and are FREE. Seriously, Rick Steves has got some solid ones.

62. Use any of our guides for free things to do

Or use any of our under-$10 city guides. We’ve been in the “fun things to do in your city” game for over a decade. We know some stuff. In fact, here are the absolute best 15 free things to do around the world: from a full-moon rave in Thailand to the Smithsonian museums in DC, you’d be surprised how many great attractions — like J. Lo’s love — don’t cost a thing.

63. Always get the city tourism card

If you plan on seeing a lot of sights in a city, you should get a city tourism card, which offers you discounted and free access to the major attractions and museums, as well as free public transportation. We’ve saved over $100 with the London pass, $80 with Paris Museum card, $50 with a Helsinki card, and tons more with other city tourism cards. They are an amazing way to save money on attractions and not enough people use them.

64. Visit the local tourism office

Local tourism offices exist to provide travelers with advice. Be sure to visit them to find out what the current deals, discounts, and free activities are. They have events calendars and are tremendous resources travelers don’t use enough! Also, they’ll give you a heads-up on when any of those free local walking tours are going down.

65. Similarly, ask the hostel staff for advice

No, not about your dating life, about deals around town. Even if you’re not staying there, pop into the hostels and ask for information. They’re usually incredibly friendly folks who enjoy helping people, and they will often give you a lot of advice. They work with budget travelers all day, every day, and they have their thumb on the pulse of the city.

66. Take advantage of museum free days

Before you take off on your big trip, make a list of all the museums you want to hit while you’re away. Then go online and see if any of them offer free days, and plan accordingly.

67. Tap into Meetup.com groups

Love jazz? Dancing? Archery? Chances are people in the destination you’re going to love your favorite hobby too! Use a website like Meetup.com to find locals who share your interest and cheap events to attend. Couchsurfing even offers event boards where you’ll find inexpensive/free meet-ups, outings, and concerts to attend with other travelers and locals. And you don’t even have to sleep in their living room!

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68. Book cruises and tours within the last few weeks before departure (or really far in advance)

Because cruise ships or tours don’t want to depart with half-empty boats or tours, the price of both get cheaper the closer to your departure date. There are almost always last-minute deals for cruises. Another option is to book really far in advance, as cruise and tour operators try to hook in people early to ensure they’ll have enough confirmed guests aboard. Also, here are a bunch of other things nobody tells you when you book a cruise.

69. Always buy the travel insurance

For cruises, this is especially critical. Not only does it cover you when you’re sick, your bags get stolen, travel plans are interrupted, luggage is lost, and a whole lot of other things, but also if for some reason your flights get delayed/cancelled and the boat sails without you, you can get your money back.

70. BYOB on cruise ships

Yes, it is against regulations. Which is why we’re absolutely NOT advocating you do this. But, if you’re not opposed to dying your vodka green to look like mouthwash or transferring all your booze into plastic sleeves, this can cut your cruise’s party bill by 80%.

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71. Always use a rental car discount code

There are car rental discount codes for seniors, AAA members, corporations, and everyone in between — and most can be found online. Simply Google discount codes for the rental service you want to use or hit RetailMeNot, it’s usually a good site to find them as well.

72. Rental car relocations

Car relocation is when you take someone’s car and drive it across the country. You are usually paid, and gas is covered. The downside is you don’t often have much leeway on timing, so stopping to see the sights along the way might be limited. While car relocation services are pretty limited, two companies worth checking out are Transfercar and HitTheRoad.

73. Use your credit card to cover the insurance

Remember, many credit cards provide car insurance on rentals, as well as consumer protections and refunds for any cancellations on products made with their card! Don’t pay for the insurance if you’re already covered. And speaking of insurance, here’s a rundown on the different types.

74. Never prepay for the gas

That 15 cents a gallon the rental car company says it’ll save you over outside stations is tempting, but it’s only worth it if you manage to run the car completely out of gas. Otherwise, you’re just paying for gas the next person gets to use.

75. Rent a car from the airport (vs. a cab or Uber), even if just to get you to your hotel

If you’re traveling to a city where the airport is a long way from your destination, and you can drop it off near where you’re going, often the $30-or-so the car costs for a day is half (or more!) than the price of a taxi. And it saves your friends and family the inconvenience of coming to pick you up at 5am at the off-airport.

76. Never, EVER fill up at the station next to the airport

Did you ever notice how in your hometown, there’s that one station by the airport where gas is like 80 cents-a-gallon more expensive? It stays in business thanks to nervous tourists who don’t know if anywhere else nearby is cheaper.

77. Use GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas

Near the airport, or anywhere really.

78. Take whatever car the agent needs to get rid of

If you’re not renting a car to attend your high school reunion (and don’t care what you drive), ask the agent what cars he or she needs to get off the lot. You may end up in a Kia Soul, but it’ll probably be cheap.

79. Reserve the cheapest car and pick up during peak hours

A clever trick designed to score a free upgrade. By picking up during the busiest time, you’re wagering that they’ll be out of the cheap class you reserved (not at all uncommon) and will be forced to upgrade you to the next class. According to rental car agents, it works more often than you’d think.

80. Use another company’s quote for leverage

Bring in a printout of another rental car company’s quote (or, you know, maybe show it on your phone) and ask them to match it — there’s a good chance they will. And without even verifying that it’s legit.

81. Find the lot that has the most cars

If you have the time to hit a few rental car lots, find the one that’s got the most cars, and go in ready to negotiate. If they’re sitting on inventory, they’re more than likely willing to cut you a deal.

82. Refill the gas tank with the key in the “on” position

Why would you want to pay for the next renter’s gas? Leave the key in the “on” position when refilling to ensure you NAIL the exact amount you drove off with.

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83. Travel during low season

Hotels are desperately looking for ways to fill rooms when the glut of tourists aren’t in town. September is the slowest season pretty much everywhere, and deals on hotels and even food are easily found.

84. Look at local newspapers for coupons

Your grandma doesn’t do it because she enjoys playing with scissors. Or, maybe she does, but since you probably will never be back at the local grocery store in Madrid, there’s no need to worry about pissing off the entire line so you can save 45 cents on a can of Spanish SpaghettiOs.

85. Ask people on Twitter where the deals are

Twitter is a wonderful resource for picking people’s brains. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers, all you need to do is ask the experts! Simply tweet your questions at travel brands and personalities and you can get a lot of your questions answers. Moreover, follow hashtags for destinations and ask the people you find interesting for tips and advice on saving money.

86. Use an ID card that might get you a discount

Even if you’re not technically still a student, if your student ID still looks like you it’s probably good enough for a discount. Same goes for military IDs, AAA memberships, and AARP cards; all can save you cash.

87. Subscribe to Groupon in your destination city

It’s not only a way to discover things to do in a new city that you might not otherwise have thought of, it’ll save you money when you do them. Just remember to unsubscribe after you leave or you’ll be saddled with two-for-one drink deals in Portland for months.

88. Use these budget travel apps

They can help you score last-minute hotel deals, track your trip finances, and find free Wi-Fi and cheap parking, among other things. And all are designed for travelers on a budget.

89. Bargain for everything possible

In some countries, you’re expected to bargain for everything from food in local markets to taxi rides. Learn what’s negotiable and never take their first offer.

90. Avoid these scams and you’ll save money by not losing it

Though hopefully you’re too bright to end up with a suitcase full of meth, you should still watch out for overcharging cab drivers, fake attraction tickets, and pickpockets. It’s a tough world out there. Be careful.

91. Use a travel agent. No seriously.

They still exist! And they can get deals you can’t find online.

92. Fly to the cheapest destination, wherever it is

If you’ve got some flexibility in your schedule and are the adventurous type, use Google Flights to search airfare from your home city to find the cheapest fares worldwide. Find the best deal and go there!

93. Join the AARP

You don’t need to be old to get a membership, and it comes with a lot of travel discounts — including big saving on flights that can often be used in conjunction with other offers and sales. We saved $400 on a flight to London using an AARP membership.

94. Hit a ton of these cheap activities from our European backpacker bucket list

From taking the Alternative Berlin Tour to drinking in the ruin bars of Budapest, here’s something to do in every major European city.

95. Find theme park discount tickets at Costco

It’s true, you can get anything at a Costco, including discounted tickets to tons of theme and water parks. Also, giant bags of cashews.

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96. In Europe, get a European rail pass

Getting a rail pass is a good option if you are going to be traveling longer distances. The European rail system is very good and very cheap over short distances; however, when you start boarding night trains across multiple countries, the rail system becomes a bit more expensive. Fares can cost well over $100. European rail passes are a great way to save a lot of money and are a must for anyone looking to take the trains extensively.

97. Or, at the very least, buy your train tickets in advance

Trains in Europe have moved towards the airline pricing model, which means the closer to your date, the more expensive the ticket. It’s better to book early and directly online with the train companies. They often have special online prices that are cheaper than booking at the train station.

98. And don’t forget to claim your VAT tax refund when you leave

Remember, you’re paying an additional tax on items you buy in Europe that, as a non-resident, you shouldn’t have to pay. You are eligible to receive a 19-25% cash refund on all purchases with minimums that range from zero (Germany, Ireland & the UK) to $195 in France (check this website).

99. In New Zealand, take the Naked Bus

You don’t need to strip down to take this bus, but you do need to take it if you want to save money. The company offers tickets as cheap as 67 cents ( $1 NZD) if you book at least a month in advance! It also offers multi-ticket bus passes where tickets can be as low as $6.70 ($10 NZD) per ride.

100. Buy a Japan Rail Pass

This pass is indispensable for travel in Japan. It costs $250 (28,300 yen) for seven days, $400 (45,100 yen) for 14 days, and $513 (57,700 yen) for 21 days. Even if you just get the seven-day, it’s the same price as a round-trip train ticket from Osaka to Tokyo ($125, 14,250 yen each way!) Moreover, these JR trains also serve local city areas and can be used intra-city. So even if you aren’t going to do much travel around Japan, buying a pass is better than buying individual tickets.

Matt Meltzer is a staff writer for Thrillist who saves money on costly photo development by posting his vacation pictures on Instagram. Follow him: @meltrez1.

Matthew Kepnes is a travel writer and author of New York Times bestseller How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and the creative force behind Nomadic Matt, a website that provides detailed information on how to travel cheaper, better, and longer. His advice is often featured in Time, CNN, The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, Lifehacker, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, BBC, and The Guardian, among other publications.

 

 

 

10 Types of Seafood You Really Shouldn’t Eat (and 10 You Should)

And now for something a bit tasty.  Thrillist has come up with a delicious guide to what seafood we should be eating and what we shouldn’t.

Happy fishing people 🙂


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It may seem like the ocean is just a bottomless pit of fish sticks and sushi, but the reality is that our supply of seafood is finite. Through rampant overfishing and just generally treating the ocean like a cheap buffet, we’ve depleted the populations and ruined the habitats of some truly delicious fish.

To find out which species are in the most danger, we spoke with Reid Bogert, sustainability coordinator at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, who in addition to scaring us skate (zing!), offered some tasty alternatives. Read on to learn more about which salmon is safe, which seafood certifications to look for, and why grouper are basically screwed.

Atlantic salmon

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Reid says: “The stocks on the East Coast where these are native have just not been managed as well as in Alaska and California, where the salmon are plentiful and healthy.”
Another option: “Pacific salmon is only available a few months of the year, but Arctic char is in the same family and is available year-round. It has a similar beautiful pink meat and flavor profile that’s rich in fatty acids. They don’t require much fish feed, so they have a smaller footprint.”

Swordfish

Reid says: “Swordfish is a popular dish all over the world that has been overfished using a certain technique called longline fishing. It puts other wildlife at risk because you can have miles of baited line trailing a boat. All of that fishing line makes other sea life vulnerable. Sea turtles, sharks, even albatross can grab a line and become what’s called bycatch.”
Another option: “Look for swordfish with a third-party certification from a non-profit, like Marine Stewardship Certification or Best Aquaculture Practices. But you could also go with mahi mahi. It’s a smaller fish, which tends to be a bit healthier and reproduces quicker. The meat is similar to swordfish. It’s dense and has a wonderfully natural citrus flavor.”

Wild-caught sea scallops

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Reid says: “In the past you always had to take a big dredge and dig into the bottom of the ocean to get the scallops out. That was disrupting the habitat and making it so the shellfish couldn’t reproduce at an acceptable rate. Now you have divers out there collecting them by hand, but it’s just a much more involved process.”
Another option: “People are often surprised that farmed shellfish are one of the most sustainable seafood types you can find on the market. Scallops, clams, mussels, oysters, anything with a shell can be farmed and harvested sustainably.”

Bluefin or bigeye tuna

Reid: “It takes them longer to reach maturity than most fish, and what that really comes down to is the nature of how they reproduce. They also swim in schools, which makes them more vulnerable to very large nets that can catch a lot of fish at once. And there’s such a high market demand because it’s such a great-tasting fish.”
Another option: “Skipjack tuna reproduces more often, grows quickly, and is smaller so there’s less of a concern about mercury.”

Imported shrimp

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Reid says: “We import something like 90% of our shrimp. Some of the issues are just the way those fisheries are managed. They’re often in sensitive habitats that don’t regrow after they’ve been impacted by a shrimp farm, and they’ll often use antibiotics and pesticides to manage those fisheries, so you’re dealing with chemicals in the water.”
Another option: “Here in the Midwest, there’s a growing movement of sustainable aquaculture, so there are several farms doing things like tilapia or shrimp that are based on land or produced in systems that are recycling the water, using fewer chemicals, and ensuring the health of those animals and also people on the table side.”

Atlantic cod

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Reid says: “This is a deep-water fish whose population basically collapsed in the ’90s and never really recovered.”
Another option: “There’s a fish called hake which tastes very similar. It breaks off in big chunks, which is a signature feature of cod. Or a softer whitefish like catfish, which believe it or not is very sustainable and amounts to nearly two-thirds of the aquaculture in the US.”

Spanish mackerel

Reid says: “This has been overfished and not well managed. Basically, this is off the table.”
Another option: “Most other types of mackerel tend to be sustainable because they reproduce a lot and they’re so healthy to eat because of their Omega 3.”

Grouper

Reid says: “This is a really common seafood item on many menus, but there’s the same problem: since these are so large they’ve been overfished. They also have an interesting mating ritual where they aggregate in huge spawning grounds in one location, so fishermen can go there during breeding season to collect more than is sustainable.”
Another option: “Any kind of flakier whitefish is a nice alternative. They tend to come into season in the summertime, and there’s usually a regional option. We have great whitefish in Lake Michigan, for instance.”

King crab

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Reid says: “This is a matter of locality and what type of regulations are in place. In places like Russia or Japan, they’re not regulated in a way that’s sustainable, and it has a negative impact on the habitat and other wildlife.”
Another option: “Blue crab or stone crab come from well-managed fisheries in the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Just thinking closer to home is important. And if you’re looking specifically for those really long, meaty legs, Alaskan king crab would be a smarter choice.”

Atlantic halibut

Reid says: “This is an enormous fish. It can get up to 7ft long and weigh up to 800lbs. Because of its long period of time before reproduction, it’s susceptible to overfishing.”
Another option: “Pacific halibut is a great alternative. In general, the Pacific fisheries tend to be in better shape than the Atlantic because they’ve been fished for fewer years and the Pacific Ocean is just so much bigger that the seafood seems to be in better condition.”

Dan Gentile is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist. He is basically a bottomless pit of fish sticks and sushi. Follow him to treating life like a buffet at @Dannosphere.

The worst mistakes you can make on holiday revealed

This is interesting and I’ve come across a couple of these (although was not aware of others!); but most people are pretty understanding, what with all the global travel and almost universal internet access nowadays.  Thanks to the Mail online again for helping us to get it right abroad.  – Ned


  • In a new thread on Reddit, users have revealed how tourists offend locals
  • Visitors to Thailand can land in jail for disrespecting the country’s king
  • In the Middle East, it’s an insult to show the soles of your feet or shoes
  • Don’t touch people’s heads in Thailand and NEVER make the ‘OK’ sign in Brazil

Tourists who don’t do their research can make all kinds of cultural gaffes abroad – or even run into trouble with the law – for something as simple as a hand gesture or a drink order.

While some no-nos are a no-brainer, holidaymakers can offend locals even by doing something that is perfectly acceptable at home.

In a new thread, Reddit users have revealed some of the worst mistakes made by holidaymakers in their hometown or country.

Don’t give this hand gesture in Britain

In Britain, the V sign is acceptable if the palm faces away from the signer, but not the other way around

In Britain, the V sign is acceptable if the palm faces away from the signer, but not the other way around

The V sign, where the index and middle finger are parted, can mean peace, victory or even the number two in American Sign Language.

But in Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, it is an insult if the palm of the hand faces the signer.

A Reddit user wrote: ‘It’s considered the same as giving someone the middle finger. But most people I know realise that when a non-Brit does it, it’s not a case of being rude, just a case of not realising.’

The peace sign, where the palm faces away from the signer, is perfectly acceptable. Americans and Canadians, for example, often make the gaffe when they show the V sign for the number two.

Don’t touch people’s heads in Thailand

Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular destinations, but visitors should be careful not to get too friendly with the locals.

A user offered this warning: ‘Don’t touch people on their heads, it is the highest point of the body so therefore it’s the most respectful part.’

Pointing your feet at a Buddha statue is considered very rude and visitors risk being thrown in jail if they disrespect Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Redditor added: ‘If you step on money, you’ll be thrown in jail. It has the king’s face on it and disrespecting him in any way (like stepping on his image or saying you hate him) will get you a one-way ticket to a not very nice prison.’

In Thailand, it is illegal to step on the country's money, which features a photo of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

In Thailand, it is illegal to step on the country’s money, which features a photo of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Don’t antagonise the Queen’s guards in Britain

Soldiers from the Queen’s Guard are a popular attraction for tourists at Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, but they’re not props for photos.

Reddit users were warned not to antagonise the soldiers in full dress uniform (red tunics and bearskin hats).

A user wrote: ‘They’re not decoration, they’re serving soldiers. Have a good gawp but leave them be.’

Another Redditor added: ‘I can kind of get it, though. They’re never portrayed seriously in movies or TV shows.’

Don’t use the ‘OK’ sign in Brazil

A Reddit user explained that making the 'OK' sign in Brazil can cause serious offence

A Reddit user explained that making the ‘OK’ sign in Brazil can cause serious offence

A Reddit user from Brazil explained why visitors shouldn’t make the ‘OK’ gesture with their fingers to Brazilians.

They wrote: ‘The “OK” thing Americans do with their hands means “Shove it up your a***” – So don’t do it!’

Don’t order this drink in Northern Ireland or Ireland

In bars in North America, the ‘Irish car bomb’ – a shot of Irish cream and whisky dropped into a glass of Guinness – is a popular frat boy cocktail.

But, due to the Troubles, it’s an offensive name in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The same goes for the black and tan – a mix of dark and pale beer.

It was a nickname given to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, which became notorious for a brutal crackdown during the Irish War of Independence

Instead, ask for a ‘half and half’.

Don’t show the bottom of your feet in the Middle East

In the Middle East, it’s an insult to show the soles of your feet or shoes.

A user wrote: ‘When I lived in the Middle East, showing the bottom of your feet (like when your legs are crossed) was offensive, saw expats do it all the time though.’

Another user added: ‘Which ties into how throwing your shoes at someone is such an insult in the Middle East. The foot is the “lowest” part of your body, and you’re throwing something that spends most of its time touching your feet.’

Don’t wear your shoes in someone’s house in the US, Canada or Sweden

Although it is perfectly acceptable in some cultures, this applies as a general rule in countries such as Canada, the US and Sweden.

A Redditor wrote: ‘In the US, look down when you enter a house. If there are shoes near the door then assume it’s a shoes-free house. Many houses are shoe-free, it saves so much cleaning hassle.’

Another user added: ‘Sam in Sweden. Why would you drag that filth from outside into your home?’

Top 11 Travel Lifestyle Hacks as a Digital Nomad

Bumped (virtually) into these really cool travel bloggers, Mike and Marina, and liked their style so thought I’d share some of their posts.  Here’s one with some excellent tips for professional travel/writing.


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So, you want to become a digital nomad or you’re just interested in longterm traveling as a lifestyle?

Traveling as a lifestyle is a lot of fun, but it’s totally different than your average…

“Hey I’ve got two weeks off in 13 months, let’s go to Europe and visit 11 different countries because I won’t have vacation for another decade.” type of holiday.

You know what I mean?

 

What are some of the things when you think of long term travel…?

.. i can’t afford it

.. there’s no place like home, i’ll always want to come back home

.. i have no time

.. it would take me 3 years just to save up enough time to have a nice vacation for two weeks.

I have no idea.. really (you can tell me below what you really think).

 

The fact is, I’ve noticed that because most of us are so used to growing up in your average 9-5 lifestyle, that the perceptions of traveling as a living are mostly based on the experiences of someone who has been living that lifestyle.

I mean that’s pretty normal right?

If you’re used to doing something for Gods-know-how-many-years that you’re basing your opinions and some decisions based on that mindset.

I’m here to debunk some of your perceptions and ideas… really .. just to give you insight on how we live this life.

So, here are my top 11 travel lifestyle hacks for you to peruse and take in.

It’s really not that bad… really.

 

Travel Lifestyle Hacks

.one.     What to Pack

Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour-XXXX books suggests that you only really need to pack for one week. Leave your crazy toiletries at home. If you need something you can always buy it wherever you are.

I def agree with this.

Though, being a girl (I know I know) I had to _really_ learn the hard way…

*ahem* I’m sick of carrying heavy f***ing bags.

Leave your curling irons and high heels at home.

Ladies, if you want to have more than one or two pairs of pants then cute digital print leggings would be perfect to roll up and make space for more stuff.

As I’m writing this, I’ll put a list of things that are in my bag right now.

Our second year of travel is quite different than our first. We’ve definitely made it a point to buy lighter weight things (including electronics because we work online) and has made a huge difference.

It’s also good to remember to bring clothes for all seasons. We always make plans to places we’re going to and they almost always change. We went from California to Central America to Europe… because we felt like it.

 

.two.     Buy Locks for All Your Zippers

I’m sure you have a lock for your luggage anyway, but it’s real helpful to buy locks for all your zippers.

I know this is a bit of a no brainer for traveling, but there may be a point where you’re on the train, plane or bus when you’ll want to take a lil snoozy cat nap. With locks on everything you have you won’t have to worry as much.

I know that even on the plane we put our locks on so that when we want to go to the bathroom we don’t have to worry about our stuff.

Paranoid?

Well, not really. When you’re out and about the chances of you being able to control your environment aren’t as likely as being in a place that you’re familiar with with people you know. You don’t want to risk anything. You’ll get used to it and be glad you did.

 

.three.     Where to Stay

For the most part, because we are long term travelers (for the time being), we tend to pick a homebase and stay there for an average of 2 months. This gives us the chance to settle in and have a place that feels like “home”.

We’ve stayed in hostels as well, which work fine except that the internet in hostels isn’t the greatest.

Our priority is consistent internet, which is the one thing that we make sure we have wherever we are.

We’ve found apartments and long term accommodation on craigslist.org, airbnb.com, booking.com.

In the end, we’re staying in an area as a local. We’re not on a fancy holiday so we keep track of what we spend and spend as if we were living at “home”.

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.four.     City Tours on a Budget

As much as we’d love to spend a whole week or two exploring an area, it can get pretty pricey, plus it cuts into our weekly “work” mode. Remember, we’re living in a place as a local. That means, even though our hours and workload are flexible, we’re still making a living as we’re traveling. It’s convenient because we can do it anywhere, but it’s still something we do.

When we come into the city there are a few things we do before we completely settle in.

As far as exploring the city we try to find free or cheap tours, rent a bike, walk.. or whatever.

We see EVERYTHING in the area in one day.

This gives us the chance to take amazing photos and videos of everything.

It also gives us the chance to pick our favorite spot or spots so that we can visit it at a later time in our leisure.

It totally cuts out time trying to figure out where we want to go on what day.. we just do everything at once, get it over and done with and revisit our favorite places.

In Barcelona we rode bikes.. in a few other cities we did those hop-on and hop-off red double decker city tours.

 

.five.     What to Eat

Holy cow, eating can get pricey!

Especially if you’re living in a big city or touristy town.

Other than doing city tours in one day, one of the things we do is look for the closest grocery stores.

It really doesn’t take that much to make your own food.

In Costa Rica we were lucky to have a local organic farmer deliver produce once a week and we went to the local shop to get everything else.

In Prague there were corner stores everywhere and we did our big shops at the grocery stores or farmer’s market.

In Panama there were also a ton of “Chinos” which were local corner stores owned by Chinese.

We treated ourselves now and then and we’ve been lucky to live in areas where food really isn’t too expensive, but we still tried to make our food as much as possible.

We noticed that meat can get pretty pricey and isn’t always the best in certain areas so often times we stick to a mostly vegetarian diet.

We did bring my mom’s magic bullet until I blew it up in Prague because I didn’t use a proper converter.

 

.six.     How to Combat Loneliness

You’d miss your friends won’t you?

It does get lonely sometimes. And making friends that you enjoy talking to (if you can find a common language) isn’t always easy.

I quite often check out local meetup.com groups.

You can meet all kinds of people based on your interests in a certain area.

It worked out really well in Prague because I hooked up with the local Prague Entrepreneur’s as well as the Foreigners in Prague groups.

Quite frankly, we see family and friends more now that we are mobile and if we miss them it’s so easy to Skype or set up a Google Hangout.

 

.seven.     Bring a Flashlight.

This one is a bit weird.. I know.

But, for some reason I’ve always been so thankful that I packed my head lamp in my bag.

I do actually use it quite a bit.

It’s useful when we’ve stayed at hostels, in 3rd world countries, camping. It’s just really good to have even if you’re not staying in rustic accommodation. Trust me on this.

 

.eight.     Buy Compact Electronics

I ditched my DSLR and got the Mirrorless Sony a5000 (half off too!). It’s smaller, it’s lighter and the quality is pretty damn good.

We have a couple portable 2TB harddrives that are a must (and fairly cheap) especially if you’re a digital nomad.

I have a travel ergonomic keyboard because my wrists hurt after awhile typing.

You can have a great portable “studio” with light weight electronics to keep you up to speed with your digital happenings.

 

.nine.     Plastic Bags are Your Friends

Ziploc sandwich bags, freezer bags..

These are lifesavers. We bring a handful of bags “just in case”. They’ve proven to be one of the best things ever.

When you live in an apartment for a few months or long term stay in executive apartments, sometimes you have food or things that you have no where to store.

Plastic bags are the most basic storage solution, but they’re pretty important.

 

.ten.     When You Get Bored

I always have things to do. In fact, being in transit is probably one of my most favorite times because I have time to sit and just relax and do things like read or write.

Bringing a book is a good idea, but if you don’t read then listening to audios and music, watching videos and playing games will suffice.

I used to read books on my Kindle app on my phone, but I got frustrated because I would drain my batteries really fast and I like to make sure I have enough battery in case of emergency. An actual Kindle is worth the investment because the battery lasts for freaking ever.

 

.eleven.     You Can Never Have Enough Carabiners

Ok. I admit. Carabiners are one of the best inventions next to velcro.

They’ve been so useful when I have extra bags or gadgets that I don’t want to carry.

If I have something with a loop and it isn’t ridiculously bulky, I just stick a carabiner on it and clip it on my bag. Easy peasy.

 

Conclusion:

I did mention above that I was going to put a list of the things I bring, but I think that deserves it’s own post.

These are just some of the tips that I have for you if you’re considering becoming a digital nomad or just want to be a long term traveler.

Marina

 

 

 

8 Apps to Take the Hassle out of Travel

Great tips from Mashable


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There’s something to be said for a digital detox while on vacation, but technology doesn’t always deter from the travel experience. When used wisely, a smartphone can enhance a trip instead of take away from it.

From a big multi-city itinerary to a small, relaxing beach vacation, these eight apps will make travel in 2016 a little bit easier.

RoadTrippers

RoadTrippers makes itself useful as soon as you pull on to the highway.

Travellers plug in their itineraries and the app will recommend restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations and stretching spots en route. The app also gives estimates of how much drivers can expect to pay for gas (petrol).

roadtrippers

Image: Mashable Screenshot / Roadtrippers

But RoadTrippers is no substitute for GPS. Once you’ve found the stops you want to make, you’ll have to export your itinerary to Google Maps or Waze to get directions.

Hopper

A well designed app that saves you money, Hopper has both form and function. It was the only travel app to be included in Apple’s Best of 2015 round-up.

hopper

Image: Mashable Screenshot / Hopper

Hopper predicts future flight prices with 95% accuracy, according to the company, and will determine whether or not now is really the best time to buy that plane ticket.

TripScope

For those who resolved to travel more in 2016 but can’t seem to find the time to plan a trip, TripScope pairs you with a travel agent and their services for a low fee of $25.

Sending the in-app agent a destination and budget kickstarts the process. Agents will customize an itinerary and book flights, hotels, ground transportations and tours. But by far the best perk is that agents are able to provide upgrades for thrifty travellers via a “mobile concierge.”

Rio 2016

Heading to Brazil this summer?

The official Olympics app has information about the games, activities and attractions in the city, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and more.

TripSee

TripSee is made for organization freaks. Travelers plug in their destinations and the app will generate a list of hotspots around town that can be organized and added to an itinerary.

tripsee

Image: Mashable Screenshot / TripSee

Once travel and hotel confirmations come through, travelers can forward the information to TripSee. The app will then aggregate every piece of information — times, dates, cost, phone numbers, addresses, etc. — into the itinerary, making it possible to see the entire trip in one glance.

Triposo

Triposo is the 2016 answer to heavy guidebooks. From Afghanistan to Denmark to Martinique to Vietnam, this app covers almost every corner of the globe.

Each location’s page features a currency converter, weather, tours and a cultural synopsis of the location. The app will also sync with an Apple Watch for offline navigation.

Glympse

A great app when traveling with the perpetually late or directionally challenged, Glympse will send your location to whoever needs it.

When your group gets separated, it’s easy to see everybody else’s location. The app will eliminate the need to start the dreaded conversation beginning with, “What do you see around you?”

EON Experience VR

Of course there’s no travel experience like the real thing but for those that — for whatever reason — can’t leave home this year, there is Eon Experience VR.

Users of the virtual reality app can “visit” the Valley of the Kings and the Luxor Temple of Egypt, the Medici family’s Magi Chapel in Florence or India’s Taj Mahal.

 

 

The item EVERYONE should pack, why brewing tea could save your life if you’re lost and how to blend in while visiting dangerous countries: SAS hero Andy McNab’s top travel tips

Oh-so-useful article via Travel Mail – my thanks to hero Andy McNab           Ned


  • Andy McNab served with the legendary SAS unit for nine years
  • He was trained to make it out alive from every possible hostile environment
  • His next expedition is to the South Pole – to raise money for the #ReadingJourney Appeal 

Even the best-planned holidays can have their pitfalls.

Tourists can inadvertently find themselves lost in a wilderness, facing a dangerous animal or harassed by locals.

Here former SAS hero Andy McNab reveals his top tips for staying safe while abroad. And who better to give out advice? After all, Mr McNab served with the legendary covert special forces unit for nine years and has expert survival knowledge, having been trained to make it out alive from every possible hostile environment.

He reveals the handy item everyone should pack, what to do in the event of your plane being hijacked – and why making a cup of tea is the best move if you get lost.

Former SAS hero Andy McNab reveals his top tips for staying safe while abroad

Former SAS hero Andy McNab reveals his top tips for staying safe while abroad

The essential item everyone should pack

Everyone should pack an Uzi tactical pen – check online. It is a brilliant self-defence weapon, you can take it through security and you can use it to fill in the landing card.

The best way of dealing with angry immigration officers in the US

Smile and comply. They have the ultimate power. The only way for you to get what you want out of it is to behave and do what they want. Having said that, there’s a great flight to JFK out of London City which clears US immigration at Shannon, then you don’t have to worry about it.

Mr McNab recommends packing an Uzi pen when travelling - if only to fill out the landing card
What to do if your plane is hijacked

Whenever you have the opportunity you should fight. You have no control of what they are going to do or what will happen, so start from the perspective that you are dead anyway, so anything else is a bonus.

The essential position to take up if your plane nosedives

I’d curl up in a ball, facing the other way, with my back to the front of the aircraft. That is what you do on military flights. And in parachute terms, ‘accept the landing’.

You should always try and fight hijackers who take over your plane, says Mr McNab, if you have the opportunity

How to cope if your wanderlust drives you to visit a notorious dangerous country such as Somalia or Afghanistan

Why on earth are you going there? The only reason you should go there is for money, if you are working, or are going to profit from it. If you are going to get an experience, you might just get a bigger experience than you bargained for! If you do go, ensure that you are prepared for a pretty long stay, just in case. It isn’t adventurous to go, it’s stupid.

Iran is ‘opening up’ – but is it really advisable to visit?

Go skiing! Just outside of Tehran is the most amazing ski resort. If you are into art, the Persian stuff is incredible.

Slope style: Mr McNab recommends the skiing in Iran (pictured)

Why you should become the ‘grey man’ in a hostile atmosphere abroad

First of all, knowledge is essential in a hostile environment. Where are the dangerous areas? Know where to avoid. Never present yourself as a threat. Make sure you are always the humble one, the grey man. It is very aggressive to confront someone and get eye contact. Stay insignificant.

Wear what the locals are wearing. In the Western hemisphere, that’s jeans, trainers and so on, but perhaps not the Cartier Tank watch or your iPhone 6S dangling off your belt.

If you’re in a country where people haven’t got stuff, don’t show that you have got it. Bling doesn’t impress, bling attracts in all the wrong ways.

If you stand out because you are ethnically distinct somewhere, try to look like a traveller not a tourist, i.e more switched on, streetwise, with more knowledge of where you are.

Drinking in bars abroad can be fun – but can also be intimidating if they’re full of rowdy. Avoidance is the best solution

Don’t go there! And if you have to, avoid eye contact and smile. Have your beer and then leave!

The best way to disappear if you think you’re being followed

First of all confirm you are being followed. Anyone following you around three corners is clearly up to no good. It is an unnatural route for anyone. The best way to disappear is to go into a building that has multiple exits. Go into a department store, full of people and exits. You can go in and get out another side and get out of danger. Or, if you think you are being followed on public transport, as in the films, get on the Tube and then jump off again at the last minute. The downside of this though is that they will realize that you know you are being followed.

Why running is the best thing to do in the event of a terrorist attack at your resort

You pick up everything you love – i.e your family – and leave everything else, and run. What human beings do, which is weird, is freeze, like animals in the headlights. We find it very hard to believe something bad is happening as it’s alien, so we look, question what we are seeing and don’t want to appear stupid by overreacting. The instinct to get out quickly isn’t there, but if you think something bad is happening, get away from it.

If a dangerous animal comes looking for a fight, why fighting back might be your best option

'If you come up against a bear with the hump, you are done for anyway, so you might as well have a crack and see what happens,' says Mr McNab

It is all about fight or flight. At a moment like that, there is no right or wrong way. You are working against something you have no control of, i.e the animal. It’s down to you to decide whether or not to fight it and see what happens, or run, and see what happens! Only you know what you are capable of, and possibly what the animal you are facing is capable of. If you come up against a bear with the hump, you are done for anyway, so you might as well have a crack and see what happens. It’s only the end when you’re not breathing!

How to stay toasty in the coldest of environments

If you get stranded you can do without food, it’s avoiding being wet and cold that is important. It’s all about kit. I’m about to leave on a South Pole trip, and the technical kit is amazing. Having said that, the disposable handwarmers that you can get on the high street are brilliant. I’ll be taking loads of them! They are also good for warming up batteries in phones and GPS devices when they stop working.

Keeping cool in the hottest of climates

People don’t drink enough. If you come from a temperate climate you don’t realize that by the time you feel thirsty, it’s usually too late. You need to be drinking litres of water, until your urine is clear, then you know you’ve got enough water in you. Then keep on going. Keep out of the sun and cover your head, obviously.

Why brewing up and calming down is key to surviving if you get lost far from civilisation

Taking stock: Calming down and having a cup of tea might just save your life if you get lost far from civilisation

The first thing if you are lost, anywhere, is to stop. Stop where you are, take a breath and don’t panic. If you listen to stories of people who are lost, you hear that they have been running from one point to another, trying to remember their route, and in their desperation, getting more confused.

If you stop, you calm down and sort yourself out. In the jungle in the SAS, if you were lost, you stopped, made a brew, worked out where you were and worked out where you needed to go. It’s desperate panic that gets people into really big trouble.

Conscious thought on where you’ve been, how you might be able to get back there is the only thing you need. If you are in those environments, you need the basic knowledge of knowing the compass points and navigating by the sun. You may well have a GPS with you, but what about when the battery goes dead? Ultimately, if you have an idea where the coast is, and it is east, then if you head east by the sun, eventually you’ll get there!

The other advice is if you find a watercourse, follow it downstream. Eventually where there is water there will be irrigation, vegetation and habitation.

What if an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane strikes while you’re on holiday?

We all know when they are about to happen. Don’t go to wherever they are forecast. And if you find yourself there, get somewhere that isn’t going to get blown away. Get underground if it’s a hurricane. In an earthquake stay where you are. And in a tsunami, get to high ground. One thing that happens before a tsunami is that all the wildlife disappears. If the cats and dogs have gone and the birds have stopped singing, follow them.

The most important next-steps if a cruise ship leaves you behind on a desert island

Finding water, food and shelter, in that order. Then you can worry about making your distress signals.

Touring jungles are great experiences – but the insects can nip enjoyment in the bud. Here’s how to cope

Make sure you cover up when visiting jungles, says Mr McNab

I did lots of jungle time in the SAS, without a doubt it is the best environment to be in because you’ve got lots of water, lots of shelter and lots of food, and it’s hot! The best way to take advantage of that is always to be covered up. The less skin that is exposed for the insects to bite, the less chance of disease and discomfort.

If you have got a mosquito repellent, the higher the percentage of Deet the better. The army stuff basically melts plastic it’s so strong, and that is great. Not great if you’re wearing a plastic watch though.

What to do if you find yourself all at sea

Ultimately, if you are lost at sea you need to know the cardinal points. You need to know how to sail, you need to have an idea of where you are, you need to be able to navigate. You have got food, you have got rehydration because you’ve got fluid from the fish and birds you are eating. It’s just a matter of knowing which way to go. Again if you know landfall is west, then you need to know which way is west, obviously!

McNAB’S EXTRAORDINARY CAREER

Andy McNab has lived an extraordinary life. As a young soldier he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years – on five continents.

During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS.

Source: www.andymcnab.co.uk 

  • Detonator by Andy McNab is out now

 

You booked a crappy hotel. Now what?

Just had to copy and paste this: Leif’s one of my favourite fellow travel writers and regularly makes me laugh my little airline socks off…  Ned

Traveling can be a lot like strip poker: no matter how brilliantly you’ve played and how many extra undergarments you layered on before the game, sometimes you end up as the sole naked person at the table.

The disappointment of arriving to a hotel room that does not meet your expectations feels much like finding oneself pants-free two hands into a game of strip poker (I’m told). The following are some common scenarios and potential solutions that I’ve experienced, researched or invented during idle daydreaming.

Instead of two single beds, there’s one double – or worse, one single

These digs? Not ideal for the first night of a honeymoon. Image by Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment Open / Getty Images.

These digs? Not ideal for the first night of a honeymoon. Image by Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment Open / Getty Images.

For some reason, this happens frequently when I’m traveling with platonic friends – one time it happened with my mom. Switching rooms is clearly the solution, but what if the hotel is booked solid? In this era of instant public shaming on social media, reputable hotels look for quick solutions, which in this case could include hauling an extra bed into the room or – don’t be afraid to ask – even booking you at a different hotel.

But what if all the other hotels in the area are also full? The last time this happened we reluctantly checked in, accosted a kindly member of the housekeeping staff and raided a room full of comforters and those plush, middle-weight blankets. We then folded and stacked them into a lasagna to make a respectable ‘bed’ on the floor. It was surprisingly comfortable.

The hotel was due for a renovation 25 years ago

Some hotels turns out to be a bit different from their description on a website. Image by Jared McMillen / Aurora / Getty Images.

Some hotels turns out to be a bit different from their description on a website. Image by Jared McMillen / Aurora / Getty Images.

Photos on the internet can be deceptive, can’t they? What looks just fine on the hotel website can sometimes turn out to be a musty, mildewy, creaky, leaky, thin-walled 1980s hotel museum. (I’m looking at you, London.) Changing rooms does no good, because in places like this all the rooms are of this caliber. If you’ve already paid and can survive a night in that dump, cancel the remainder of the stay immediately (usually, you can get a full refund with 24 hours’ notice) and switch hotels the next day. Then it’s just a matter of drinking enough that night so the worst of your room problems is keeping your take-home cider cold.

The bed is harder than a domestic airplane seat

In some parts of the world, like the Asia-Pacific region, hotels have sadistically firm beds that cater to the preferences of travelers in that region. (Aka, masochists.) If I didn’t know better, I’d say my bed at an opulent five-star business hotel on Guam was inspired by the rock slab found in a 13th-century monk’s cell. A quick in-room solution is employing the spare comforter in the closet as a mattress cover, folded over for doubled thickness. If that doesn’t do the trick, again, acquire additional comforters from housekeeping to fortify the bed.

The hotel is fine, but the neighborhood is sketchy

Favelas might be atmospheric, but you wouldn't necessarily want to stay in one...check out the surrounding area before you book a hotel. Image by Michael Heffeman / The Image Bank / Getty Images.

Favelas might be atmospheric, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to stay in one…check out the surrounding area before you book a hotel. Image by Michael Heffeman / The Image Bank / Getty Images.

This is can be a particular problem in bigger cities with mass tourism appeal (eg, San Francisco, Paris, Bangkok). Avoid staggering back to the room late and drunk, even if you’re part of a group. If you must carouse till late, take a taxi home. Leave behind (or conceal) nice jewelry, accessories and mobile devices. For added in-room security, one of my favorite hacks is carrying and using a rubber doorstop to defeat unwanted visitors.

Angry-baby levels of extraneous noise permeating the room

A bar or discothèque across the street, a party on the floor, an HVAC unit mounted just outside the window, an insomniac neighbor watching Transformers with the volume cranked up to the max… Noise is frequently a factor at budget hotels. Again, changing rooms is your first move, but failing that, occasionally the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ approach can be employed. (Excepting the insomniac neighbor.) If it’s an automated or otherwise unavoidable noise, and one can stand sleeping while wearing headphones, any number of white noise apps/MP3s or noise-cancelling headphones can diminish or eliminate the commotion.

Run-for-your-life scenarios

Arriving to find a building site where your hotel should be is an unfortunate way to start a trip. Image by Kelvin Murray / Stone / Getty Images.

Arriving to find a building site where your hotel should be is an unfortunate way to start a trip. Image by Kelvin Murray / Stone / Getty Images.

Frightening building code violations, overt personal safety concerns, bed bugs, blood-stained linens and other nightmares are going to crop up. As much as it stings to lose the money, in these instances don’t hesitate to march right back out the door. In all likelihood the room wasn’t very expensive anyway, so listen to your instincts and retreat to someplace where you’ll feel more comfortable.

The staff are jerks

Again, with the terrible power a single person with a Twitter stream or a TripAdvisor account can wield these days, hotel staff are usually on their best behavior, even when guests are unforgivably horrible. But on those occasions when the staff seem determined to harsh your mellow, here are a few retaliatory options you may consider.*

  • Stand in the automatic front door’s sensor’s range, so it never closes. Best done at the hottest or coldest time of year.
  • Discard unwanted items, such as chicken bones, in the elevator.
  • Sell your band’s merch out the front.
  • Arrange the towels, toiletries, mini-bar items and what have you on the bed to spell out the word ‘DISAPPOINTED’.
  • Use the room’s furniture to build a pyramid, preferably booby-trapped to collapse in underwear-soiling fashion when the door is opened.
  • Have a sexy construction worker-themed singing telegram delivered to the manager at peak check-in time.

Finally, if the problems persist or resolution seems doubtful, just tell them you’re me! This should result in swift and decisive action. Not necessarily to your benefit, but swift and decisive nonetheless.

* Leif Pettersen and Lonely Planet do not actually endorse these activities. You will get in moderate to enormous trouble if you try these. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

 

Leif Pettersen is a Lonely Planet author, freelance travel writer and polyglot. He’s visited 52 countries (so far) and can be found @leifpettersen.

Finally! Expedia to show customers all hidden extras up front during plane bookings making it easier to compare the REAL costs of each flight

Excellent news!  Thanks again to MailOnline for this. – Ned


Booking a cheap flight can be a confusing process – after finding the least expensive option online, the price is then hiked up by various added extras.

Once you’ve landed at your destination, often the most expensive ticket can seem better value for money once the cost of hold luggage, in-flight drinks and airport taxes have been totted up.

But now one comparison site is hoping to put an end to this, by showing all of the hidden extras in its airfare search results.

Expedia has overhauled its US website, so customers are shown the variations on each flight option before booking, making it easier to spot any hidden extras

Expedia has announced that it is making significant improvements on its US site to show users what is included in each airline fare.

For example, an Easyjet basic seat would show that no hold luggage, seat options, drinks or food is included in the price.

A British Airways flight would be likely to show that snacks, alcoholic drinks and hold luggage were all included in the up-front price.

Greg Schulz, senior vice president of global tour and transport at Expedia, told Mashable: ‘We will show you what the cheapest option is, but similar to what we do with hotels, we’ll show you the variations on that option.’

When booking a flight, customers can compare the extras on each flight like free hold luggage to make it easier to work out the real value of a plane ticket 

When booking a flight, customers can compare the extras on each flight like free hold luggage to make it easier to work out the real value of a plane ticket

He continued: ‘For example, for just another $30 (£20), you can receive these five additional things.

‘For an extra $200 (£130) you can have a first class experience.’

The company hopes that the changes will make it easier for customers to pick the perfect fit in terms of price and added extras.

As well as comparing different airlines, the site will also show the added extras gained by switching between Economy, Business and First Class

Andy Washington, Managing Director of the Expedia brand in the UK, said: ‘As a global industry leader we have a wealth of insights we can draw on and we want to share this with our customers in a way which can help them to get great deals for their individual needs.

‘We are continually reappraising our services, listening to feedback from our customers and looking for new ways to make it easier for people to find and book the best holiday options for them.

‘We believe that this suite of new flight products will really help to cut through the complexity of today’s travel market and we look forward to rolling out these new services to the UK soon.’

Find out more at expedia.com

Does your next destination sound too good to be true? How to spot a fake hotel review online


Do you trust online hotel reviews?

Now that Amazon is suing more than 1,000 people who allegedly offered to write glowing product reviews for cash, you might reasonably be concerned.

Deceptive appraisals are commonplace online. Fortunately, there are a few good techniques that can help you tell truth from fiction.

In the wake of the Amazon 

In the wake of the Amazon trial in which 1,000 people are being sued for writing fake reviews, consumers may be concerned about the authenticity of online reviews while booking their holiday

Every year £23 billion of UK consumer spending is influenced by online reviews, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the independent non-ministerial department whose aim is to promote competition for the benefit of consumers.

Half of all adults in the UK — some 25 million people — use them. The younger the person, the more important the reviews are to their buying decisions. Furthermore, the more reviews there are, the higher up a business will appear on Google.

People trust the reviews because they believe they are unbiased and have been written by ordinary consumers like themselves, however in a special investigation by the Daily Mail it was revealed that an entire industry has been created to generate bogus reviews, both positive and negative, for cash.

‘If you want to give a good impression or mislead consumers into trusting you, the best way to do it is to fake online reviews,’ says Chris Emmins, co-founder of reputation management company KwikChex.

‘People want to believe these online reviews come from genuine people but often they are not. In fact they enable some companies to defraud consumers — there is no question about it.’

According to industry experts, the market for fake reviews is booming. Across the world — India and Indonesia are particular hotspots — companies have been set up to churn out fake reviews on demand by the thousands.

For consumers planning a holiday, reviews are integral to making an informed choice. Experts have created a checklist of how to tell if a review is fake.

Be wary of overly extreme language in reviews when booking a trip online

Be wary of overly extreme language in reviews when booking a trip online

Don’t trust yourself

A team of researchers at Cornell University created a computer algorithm for detecting fake hotel reviews by analysing the language used in legitimate and phony write-ups.

The computer program, Review Skeptic, is accurate about 90 percent of the time, but humans alone performed poorly at determining the truth teller.

‘People are terrible,’ said professor Claire Cardie, who helped develop the system. ‘I was very surprised. We just cannot tell the difference much more than chance.’

Listen to the language 

Beware of extremes — overly enthusiastic or negative reviews are red flags.

False reviews tend to use more extreme language to get their message across. So if someone says ‘it is the most comfortable bed ever’ perhaps in all caps, take pause.

Additionally, the Cornell researchers found that when it comes to hotels, fake reviewers tended not to talk about the spatial details — such as the floor or bathroom.

Instead, they focused on the reason they were there, such as describing a recent fake vacation or business trip. In practice, this makes sense because someone who has never been to a location might have a tough time describing it accurately.  

Review the reviewer 

Check out the profile of the person providing the review, said Louis Ramirez, senior features writer with online deal site DealNews.

If they only write reviews for a particular company, that’s a huge warning sign they could have a vested interest in that business.

Amazon verifies some of its reviewers, while some other sites only allow posts from people who’ve made a purchase there. Look closely on the site for their review policies.

Pay attention to detail

If you think about your own experiences with an unpleasant experience or product, you can probably explain exactly why it was bad.

Ramirez suggests if you’re unsure about a review, put more stock in someone who provides details of why they didn’t like a product or experience.

DM’S SPECIAL INVESTIGATION REVEALS AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY IS DEDICATED TO GENERATING BOGUS APPRAISALS FOR CASH

To discover just how prevalent the problem has become, we visited a website called Fiverr on which freelance writers, graphic artists and computer programmers from around the world bid for work.

Undercover: Hotels and restaurants are becoming increasingly dependent on online review sites such as TripAdvisor, but an investigation has unearthed the flourishing market in fake feedback

Undercover: Hotels and restaurants are becoming increasingly dependent on online review sites such as TripAdvisor, but an investigation has unearthed the flourishing market in fake feedback

On it, I posted the following request: ‘I’m about to start marketing a holiday cottage in Scotland and want to get some good reviews on leading holiday sites — need reviews and advice on how best to do this.’

Within an hour, I had received more than 20 replies — the cheapest offering a fake review for just £3.50. But what exactly would I get for this?

One of those who answered, an American woman in her 30s who described herself as a writer and ‘stay-at-home-mom’, explained: ‘I would love to leave a positive review of your cottage. I will leave it on TripAdvisor or whichever site you think is best.’

I asked her how it would work. Given that she wouldn’t ever actually go to the cottage, should I should send her photos of the property and a description?

‘I wouldn’t do pictures,’ she replied. ‘Most of the time people write reviews they don’t have photos handy so I think it would look fake. That said, if you want me to use pictures I will. The best way to do it is for you to write exactly what you want the review to say.

‘I will post it from an aged TripAdvisor account, one that has previous reviews on it, and it will go up and stick with no problems at all.

‘Accept the offer I sent you, send me the text of the review and I will get it posted. TripAdvisor can take up to 24 hours to list a review. Once it is on their site, I send you a screenshot and close out the gig.’

I asked if she had done it before to which she replied: ‘Yes, I’ve done it several times before. Yesterday I did one in fact. Positive reviews always work.’

Great Tips from a Professional Traveller & Travel Blogger

I have to emphasise that I am NOT a professional traveller.  While I absolutely love to visit new places – and revisit old – I do like my home comforts and I need to touch base and regroup with friends and family on a regular basis.

There are some people though who can give up their solid base and devote their lives to exploring the world.  It takes courage (I think), commitment, a good cash supply to start out and a whole lot of planning.

Sab (Sabrina), a German serial traveller and professional travel blogger, did just this a few years ago and has a wonderful website for part- and full-time trekkers alike.

Here is a great piece she has written to get you started. And you never know, it might just give you the inspiration you need to get up and go..!

            Ned

8 STEPS TO FREEDOM: HOW I QUIT MY JOB AND TRAVELED AROUND THE WORLD

The lessons that I’ve learned in 4 years of almost non-stop traveling. An experience that changed all my values. How I fund my trips and how you can do it, too!

8 Steps To Freedom - How I Quit My Job And Traveled The World. Photo Credit © traumlichtfabrik | JustOneWayTicket.com

THE DAY MY LIFE CHANGED

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” (Gerard Way)

November 20th, 2008 was the first day of my new life. I would never live my old life again.

I was sitting at Frankfurt Airport, holding a green box of homemade cookies in my hand that my lovely Italian grandmother (may she rest in Peace) had given me for the trip. I was ready to board my flight to Hong Kong. It was a one way ticket. At that time, I didn’t know that I would not come back for a very long time. I had no idea what to expect. Well, I was guessing that it would be fabulous, but I didn’t know that this was the beginning of a new chapter: The best time of my life.

Actually it all started even earlier. Let’s back up a bit to the fall of 2007. I had just ended a heavy relationship. I was heartbroken and depressed and wanted to go away as far as possible. I had no clue about backpacking and booked a fancy package vacation to the paradise Islands of Maldives. Alone.

Well, maybe I should point out that going single and alone to the Maldives is not exactly the best idea. I was surrounded by honeymooners and couples that were “so in love”. Eventually I got invited to have a three-way, but that’s another story and … HEY! Don’t get excited – I refused that offer.

The Maldives were such a paradise. Incredibly beautiful, stunning scenery, but… craaaaazy expensive!! If you’re dreaming of somewhere like the Maldives, but only a tenth of that price, check out the Philippines.

But back to my story… I still don’t know exactly why it happened, but I decided not to return home after my vacation in the Maldives. Of course, I couldn’t stay. I hadn’t won the lottery. And I had no hot Maldivian lover proposing marriage to get me a visa to stay in paradise. Instead of flying back to Germany, I found a cheap one way ticket to Kuala Lumpur and booked it. Until that day, I don’t think I even knew Kuala Lumpur existed or that it was the capital of Malaysia. I knew nothing. I just thought that Kuala Lumpur sounds kinda cool. Gosh, how inexperienced I was…

I loved KL. Just wandering around the streets and felt refreshingly free. A few days later I took another flight to Bangkok. And that’s where everything changed. When you go to Thailand for the very first time, suddenly you are surrounded by them. It hits you from every direction. You can’t escape them. It’s like a plague. Backpackers. Everywhere. And they all tell you the same story:

“I’m on a trip around the world…”

I have to admit I felt jealous that most of them were so much younger and better looking than me, sun-tanned in sexy muscle shirts. They all seemed so happy and relaxed. It was like meeting rare members of a secret world travelers’ club and I wanted to join this club as soon as possible. I admired their courage to leave everything behind and travel the world. Why the hell had I never came up with that idea? I was already in my mid twenties and had wasted too many years with working jobs I didn’t like, in fu**ed up relationships that didn’t work, and spending my money on stuff I didn’t need.

That was the exact moment I decided to quit my job and travel the world… But how?

Step outside of your comfort zone. Miracles happen only to those who believe in them.

© traumlichtfabrik

1. STOP DREAMING OF THE DAY YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” (Jim Rohn)

Life is a bitch. After all, you won’t get out alive. So let’s have some fun. Don’t be one of those ordinary people who says: “One day I will do this (and travel the world).” You won’t. There is no perfect timing. You have to make time for it. While most people waste a lifetime of creating dreams (and never realize them) I made everything to fulfill my dream.

I knew my life would change, but change is good. To change means to move. And to move means my universe will be in a constant expansion.

I will never understand why so many people are afraid of change and want to stick to their routine. Making a big life change is scary indeed. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret. Sometimes we have to risk something. You might lose, but you can gain even something better. If you don’t try, you’ll never find out. So don’t fear change. Don’t fear anything. Fear is just an illusion. If you believe in fear, you are a victim of your own mind.

“Make the most of today. Time doesn’t wait. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” (Alice Morse Earle)

© traumlichtfabrik

2. FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS (AND TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY)

“You may only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.” (Mae West)

Make the decision! Focusing on your goals is one of the most important steps.

After having the idea of traveling the world, I became obsessed with it. I started to spend every free minute on the Internet, asking questions in several round-the-world forums and reading blogs of other world travelers. I googled the cheapest countries and the best beaches. I made plans where I wanted to go and looked up for flight deals daily. At this point, everything else in my life became meaningless. I got addicted to the idea of traveling. My new goal was traveling the world and I wanted to achieve it. All my focus was about fulfilling my dream. I was happy I never gave up halfway, changing my habits and saving money was one of the hardest things I ever did. It takes time to save money and I know I’m lucky enough being an European and able to save up enough money in one or two years. Maybe you are not. Maybe you need to save up 5 years or more. But you know what?

Never ever give up on something you really want. Even if it takes time to realize your dream. The time will pass anyway.

(Or just save half of the money you aimed for and make the rest later working abroad. More on that in Step 6) 

In my case it was almost a year after my life changing epiphany in Bangkok. I was ready to go: I had quit my job, sold everything I owned, subletted my apartment, gotten rid of the all the unnecessary insurances and left my life in Berlin behind. The decision to give up my job, my beautiful flat and all its comforts was not difficult for me at all. With the money I saved up in one year I could have bought a small new car. Or taken out a mortgage on an apartment. But I wanted to have the world.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” (C. S. Lewis)

© traumlichtfabrik

3. CHANGE YOUR VALUES AND LEARN TO LIVE FRUGALLY

“The things you own end up owning you.” (Fight Club)

Everybody travels differently, and everybody needs a certain amount of money to travel – traveling is certainly not free. I have no idea why there are travel bloggers out there who claim you can travel for free. The truth is, it’s not true. Cheap yes, but not for free. And cheap? Well, cheap only if you are from a wealthy country. A Cambodian who travels to Thailand might not find it cheap.

I know people who have traveled around the world for a year with less than 3000 EUR. In my experience 8000 – 10000 EUR is a good amount for one year traveling. But seriously, you can do it with half of the money. But more on that later. And while you’re saving up money for your trip, why not joining some travel contests? You could win a trip and go for free. Sound good? You can find travel contests on Travelonion or Jaunted or simply search for “travel contest”. Google is your friend.

It took me a while to learn how to travel on a small budget. But once you figure it out, you will see how little you need to live and travel. It takes practice to live frugally and you might have to start getting used to it while you’re still at home. Once I knew I wanted to travel the world, it completely changed my values. That’s one of the best things that traveling has taught me.

If you want to save money, you have to cut your expenses.

Makes perfect sense, right? So stop wasting money. Since 2007, I’ve stopped buying crap I don’t need. I don’t need an iPad (or any pad!!). An iPod. Or iPhone. I don’t need those fancy sneakers. That sexy dress. Another Bikini. Or a plasma TV.

A friend of mine said he could never sublet his apartment because he paid a few thousand Euros for the couch. He is simply scared that his subtenant could damage his fancy leather couch. That’s insane. A couch destroys his dream of traveling? We get attached to things just because we paid a lot of money for it? Isn’t that ironic? All the things you own will own YOU in the end. Get rid of all that stuff. It’s actually liberating. If you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

I had lived in Berlin for years, but the cost of living is simply too expensive. And Berlin is considered one of the cheaper places to live in Europe. In Germany I needed at least 800-1000 EUR a month to cover my expenses including insurances. Since last summer I have lived in Istanbul on 300 – 350 EUR a month, everything included. My rent is roughly 200 EUR, the rest of the money I spend is on food, drinks and travel insurance. If you can work online, I highly recommend you to move to a location with a more affordable cost of living. Which cities are cheap to live in is a whole other article – one I’ll be writing soon.

Get rid of your stuff and make money with it!

When I knew I was going away for a long time I went through all my stuff, wondering why I bought these things. Finally I decided to sell it all on Ebay and made a few hundred Euros. Not bad for stuff I didn’t use for a while. I don’t miss any of those things. I barely remember what they were.
I cancelled most of my insurances, only keeping my health insurance. Since I left Germany I only pay 30 EUR a month for my travel health insurance. Back in Germany my health insurance cost me about 300 EUR a month, 10 times more. I can easily say I travel to save money as well!
To save more, I rented out my flat in Airbnb to cover my rental cost. Some people might even consider moving back home with their parents to save on rent. They will make you feel like you’re at home, even if they wish you were (at your home). If that’s the case, it might be better to move to a smaller or shared flat. I know it can be a pain in the a** to sacrifice in so many ways, but you’ll be amazed how much you can save. It’s only temporary… so focus!

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.”(Toni Morrison)

© traumlichtfabrik

4. QUIT YOUR JOB

Happiness is a choice. Choose happy.

I need money. Not a job. Just kidding. But how many of us can honestly say that we love our jobs? Or that we do something important and meaningful? Or fun? Lets face it: Most of the time working is not much fun. And the rest of the time it’s not any fun at all. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy working full time, but I didn’t. So in case you hate your job, you might consider making a change anyway. Turn your passion into a job and you will never work a day in your life. Think about it.

On the other hand, if you do a job too well, you might get stuck with it. Damn it.

Quit your job. (After you saved some cash). I’m serious. Unless you say you love your job. Wait, even in this case I would say: Quit! Why? Because if you honestly love your job, you might have a good chance to return to it. Maybe with the same company, maybe not. Negotiate with your boss about going on sabbatical for a year. Well, we don’t have that in Germany, but guess what!? I got my old job back after 14 months of traveling. A few months later I quit again, but that’s another story I’ll tell you in the last step.

If your job is your passion, you will be always good at it and find something. Don’t worry too much about the future, you’re going to miss the present. The time is now. Never worry about things that have not happened yet. Waste of time. You have to learn to relax. Worrying is using your imagination to create things you don’t want. You don’t need to create back up plans. I mean how many times in your life have you actually needed them?

Just imagine: You quit your well paying job and leave your current life behind to travel the world for a while. And then you come back and struggle to find a new job. Do you think you would ever regret that you traveled the world?

Do you really think you would? I guess no. Traveling around the world is an experience that no one can ever take away from you. I learned so much about myself and I’m so thankful that I was lucky enough to do this. You won’t come back as the same person. Trust me, I have never met someone who regretted traveling. Still struggling with the idea of quitting your job? Who knows, sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. It makes us stronger. And sometimes wiser. Well, not everybody. I speak for myself.

At this point, I want to forward you to Steve Pavlina, one of the best bloggers I have come across. But please come back to me or finish here first, before you jump over to him. His post is life-changing. OK, now go and read 10 reasons why you should never get a job. Good stuff.

Some final thoughts on this… Society always tells us, we should have a job, we have to work 9 to 5 and so on. Here is the good news. You don’t have to. You don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. 99% of people live an ordinary life. Be the one who makes a different choice. Stop pleasing others, that’s the secret to failure! If you only live up to others people expectations, you are going to hate yourself. The less you care, the happier you will be. True story. Be egoistic. You only have one life. Just one shot. You better live your dream.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

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5. MAKE A CHECK LIST BEFORE YOU GO

“In order to change the world, you have to get your head together first.” (Jimi Hendrix)

Check lists are sexy! No, actually they’re not. But they’re goddamn necessary and it’s important that you get your documents and other stuff in order! Not this order in particular, but… you get the point!!

First of all, I’ll recommend you 2 tools/apps to get better organized. Both have a free version, which is usually enough!

Evernote organizes everything, your ideas, tasks, bookmarks, projects, and so much more.

Trello is perfect for To-Do Lists. I can’t live without Trello anymore. Check it out!

So, what else…?

  • Get a world map or go to Google Earth and make a list of all the countries you want to visit. If you have no idea where to start, go to Skyscanner. Type from your country to “Everywhere”. It will show you the cheapest airfares out of your country. You can use the flexible search for a whole month or even a year. I love Skyscanner. One of the best flight search engines ever.
  • Get a Passport, if you don’t have one yet. And if you have one, make sure it’s not going to expire in the next 12 months. Or better yet, in the next 2 years. Depending on how long you travel, keep in mind that some countries won’t allow you to enter if your passport expires in less than 6 months.
  • Check the visa requirements for all the countries you’re planning to travel to. Some visas you can get on the road, for others you have to apply from your home country. Don’t underestimate the importance of visas. You’ll probably spend days or weeks, have to call a bunch of embassies etc. to get all the information you need.
  • Get a credit card! Or two! Please don’t be like my dad who doesn’t believe in credit cards and carries a huge pile of cash in his pocket whenever he travels. I don’t recommend Traveler’s cheques anymore, not since I got ripped off in Mexico in 2005. Please make sure you remember all the passwords and PIN codes or record them in a safe place.
  • Yes, you need vaccinations! Don’t take this lightly! Please check Netdoctor to see which vaccinations you need before you hit the road.
  • Please get a travel insurance. You might never need it, and if you don’t, be thankful. Don’t consider it a waste of money. Travel insurance is often cheaper than your regular health care plan. I pay 350 EUR per year. This is the cheapest I’ve found so far, but prices are different, depending which country you are. I highly recommend World Nomads. They cover residents from over 150 countries. You can buy, extend and claim, even while traveling.
  • Buy high quality travel gear. Yes, you heard me right. Buy a good backpack. Don’t go for the cheapest one. As much as I encourage people to live frugally, if you want to travel a long way, you need durable gear. My backpack is from Eagle Creek, yes it was pricey but I can tell you, it lasted longer than any of my relationships. So far. If you asked me what one of the most useful things I bought for my trip was, I would have to say: A padlock with a 4-digit combination, for locking rooms or safety boxes.
  • Look for a job abroad. If your budget is tight and you have to work during your travels, you’d better investigate the job market beforehand in order to find countries where it’s easier to find paying work. Keep reading for useful links on finding jobs abroad in the next step.

“Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.”(Wayne Dyer)

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6.HIT THE ROAD (OR HOP ON A PLANE)

Traveling is a wonderful thing… It doesn’t matter where you go or in how many countries you have been – it’s all about who you meet.

Go travel the world and have the best time of your life! And don’t drive yourself crazy and making plans about where to go and how long to stay in each place… Screw that! It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s all about who you meet. Sometimes you love a place and get stuck there for weeks, while another place won’t be as interesting as you expected. In those situations it’s good if you’re free to leave anytime. Even if it costs you more money. Believe me, it’s worth it. Keep some flexibility. Travel has taught me that the journey is the destination.

Traveling alone? Please don’t be afraid of solo trips. Be thankful to have such an experience. I love arriving in the airport of a country I have never been to before. It makes me feel strong, and excited about the adventures I’m about to have. It gives me confidence.

I think it’s important to feel lonely sometimes. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by others.

You will learn a lot about yourself. I would rather travel alone than with a friend. It’s a fact that you’re never really alone when you travel by yourself. You meet people everywhere, and they will ask if they can join you. You will be happy to travel with them for a while, and sometimes you are even happier to get rid of them again.

Back to the money issue. Most of your cash will be for food, transportation and a place to sleep. And probably for alcohol. Please don’t drink without limits, just because the beer is so cheap in so many places you go. Try to cut your expenses to a minimum. Save money on accommodation by using Couchsurfing. Nowadays everybody knows about Couchsurfing. I’ve been a member since 2008 and I can truly say that Couchsurfing changed my life. And I’m not talking about saving money here. It’s just a great side effect. I have met some of my best friends through this website and I could write a book about all the crazy adventures…

Save more money? Avoid countries, that require an expensive visa, avoid all the expensive countries anyway. Take trains and buses instead of flying, or hitchhike (I do not recommend hitchhiking for women traveling solo). When you search for flights, check Skyscanner, Vayama or FlightNetwork. Be flexible with dates and destinations and you’ll get the best deals. Sign up for all the airline newsletters to stay informed about promotions. Meet locals, eat street food, buy groceries and always bargain when you buy stuff! But please don’t bargain for the price of your meal. You might annoy the chef.

Consider working during your travels. During your trip you will develop new skills, knowledge and understanding and realize you’re able to do jobs you would have never thought of. If you travel slowly, it will be easier to make arrangements to work. The possibilities are endless. Cooking, bartending, web designing, teaching, fruit picking, translating, cleaning… There more open you are, the more job offers you will have. One of the most popular jobs is teaching English. Don’t assume that you always need to be a native speaker or have a TEFL certificate. You don’t. Be creative. Teach private. If you search, you will find. One of the best websites for jobs any kind and in any city is Craigslist. Here are some more links:

  • If you want to teach English, check EslCafe.
  • If you want to work on cruise ships check Find a Crew or Crewseekers.
  • More Jobs listed on OverseasjobsWork AwayWork AnywhereWork in Hostels.
  • Interested in WWOOF? Work a few hours per day and receive free accommodation and meals. Check out HelpX.
  • Another great page is Staydu, a social travel network for budget travelers. Find work in exchange for money or free lodging. Host, travel and stay with locals from all over the world. I love this page!!

The famous travel blogger Derek Earl Barton wrote an e-book about Working on a cruise ship and get paid to travel. The e-book isn’t free, but if you’re interested in doing that, you might check it out. Just for the record, Derek Earl Barton is traveling since 13 years straight. He knows his stuff very well.

(More useful e-books for cheap traveling here in Stuff I Love.)

Whenever you travel, don’t forget to stay in touch with family and friends. Call or email them from time to time, so they know where you are and won’t be worried.

You cannot be lost if you have no destination.

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7. LEARN NEW THINGS

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Wayne Dyer)

Try new things. Make friends with intuition. Eat food you have never tasted before. Fall in love. Be curious and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Take risks. Open yourself up to possibilities. Get crazy. Keep your heart open and be grateful for every new experience. Trust yourself. Discover the beauty of this amazing world and get lost in its opportunities.

It’s the little moments that make life beautiful.

Life is all about the journey and less about the destination. Traveling will open your mind to many new things, you will learn a lot about different cultures. You’ll probably appreciate your life more and realize how lucky you are. Don’t forget that everybody you meet in your travels was raised in a different way. Everyone has different beliefs and values. Be grateful to learn about new cultures and, as hard as it is, don’t judge. Have an open mind. A wise quote of Wayne Dyer says “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” 

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself.

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8. COMING BACK…

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” (Abraham Lincoln)

Coming home. This is the suckiest part. Actually, I never came home. Because after all this traveling, I’m not so sure anymore where my home is. I flew back to Germany though, after exactly 433 days. I had traveled all across Asia, Australia, South & Central America and the U.S. My last flight was from JFK to Frankfurt with Singapore Airlines.

It was January 2010 and freaking cold. After my arrival, I visited my family in Southern Germany and flew back to Berlin at the end of the month. I started working again in February 2010. Guess what? I got my old job back. I worked as a screen designer again at the same company I had left in 2008. Everybody and everything seemed the same. Except me. I was depressed, coming home after such a long time. It was freaking me out. I started hosting Couchsurfers like crazy. I decided, if I couldn’t travel anymore, the world would have to come to me.

Well, my return to “Normal Life” didn’t last long. Three months later I found myself at the airport again. Between April 2010 and September 2011 I traveled to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, UAE, Philippines, Japan, Russia and India. I couldn’t live a normal life anymore. Traveling became the most important thing; it was like an addiction. Between all these trips I worked as a freelancer. Probably 5 months in total. I had given up my old job again and was lucky enough to get a well-paid freelance job for the biggest email provider in Germany. (I would like to say THANK YOU to them with all my heart.)

In October 2011, I decided it was time to leave again. For good? Who knows… I spent autumn in Turkey and India, winter in Bangkok and the following spring in the Philippines and Indonesia. Finally, I returned to Istanbul in Summer 2012 and decided to stay put. Not to settle down though. Just to stay here, because I love the vibe of the city, the food, the people… and some other things 🙂
And this brings us up to where I am right now.

I guess some of you probably think that I don’t work anymore. Yep. Exactly. I have enough money to last me the rest of my life. Well, unless I buy something. Haha. Actually I do work from time to time, but only freelance. No employer will ever get me in their clutches again, and I won’t be signing any full-time contracts. So I do some design jobs, I also teach German, I’m a tour guide sometimes and I write articles for travel magazines. That’s it. I have chosen to remove myself from an ordinary life and live like a nomad. I love to travel and to work whenever I want to. And no, I’m not insane. Oh well, If I were I’d enjoy every second of it.

Life is a mystery and traveling the world will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Never never never give up on your dream.

© traumlichtfabrik

Special thanks to Edgar Moskopp. He allowed me to use some of his stunning photos for this blog post. His images totally got me into the right mood to write up this article. Check out his photostream on Flickr.


Epilogue… It took me nearly 3 weeks to write this article, I poured my whole heart into it. If you liked this article, please share, like or comment on it. You would make my day. Thank you!

 

Update January 2014: 

I have to say thanks to all my friends, readers, strangers, all those who believed in me and supported me. I won the Hostelworld Award in the category “Inspiration – The story that most inspires you to travel or make a change” for this article. Thank you all so so much ❤

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Sabrina Iovino is the founder of JustOneWayTicket.com. She’s half German, half Italian and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe. She feels weird to write about herself in the third person, so she’ll switch now. Phew…much better! Let’s restart:

Hi, I’m Sab! This is my blog and I write about the things I love. Mostly.

Follow me on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Flickr | Youtube

 

10 Things You Should Never Skimp on When Travelling

A few smart splurges can make your trip a lot more fun.

holiday_stress_busters

Travel should be pleasurable — not stressful. While it’s almost inevitable for something to go awry from time to time, you can avoid most issues with a little foresight and planning. Sometimes all it takes is investing a bit more upfront in order to ensure a better travel experience.

I’m not including accommodation or method of travel on this list because I think those two items are relative. Some people like five-star hotels and first-class seating, while others are perfectly fine in hostels and economy class. To each their own.

1. Luggage

Good quality luggage is an important trip component for several reasons, but mainly because it needs to hold up against all the wear and tear you’ll put it through in your travels. I’m not saying that cheap luggage will fall apart and expensive luggage is war-proof, but there is something to be said about brands with a reputation for quality — and that usually comes at a cost. I won’t endorse any particular brand but this little feature does and may prove useful to you.

Ask any frequent fliers you know what they would recommend; and if any of your mates is cabin crew then they’re absolutely your best bet for solid advice.

2. Comfortable Shoes

A lot of people holiday in warmer climates. And why not? There’s an abundance of things to see and do when the weather outside is perfect. But before you head out to explore, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and socks that can handle a day of walking without killing your feet. These should be the real deal — and definitely not right out of the box.

You also want to avoid going sockless. I’ve worn both canvas slip-ons without socks and flip-flops on heavy walking days, and both footwear choices resulted in bloody, painful feet.

3. Personal Safety

Because I’ve travelled all over the world, I’m generally not afraid of new surroundings: seedy-looking neighbourhoods, dark streets, or people who look like they might be up to no good. I stay vigilant, of course, but I don’t want to let a black cloud of fear follow me wherever I go just because the area doesn’t look like it’s maintained by Ritz-Carlton. However I would always spring for a cab rather than walk if I wasn’t sure; I carry a small but loud whistle in my pocket at all times; and my mobile phone is always to hand.

Safety first, people.

4. Making the Most of It

I’m an activities-oriented guy, and I like to be out and about experiencing everything I can in the short time I have in a location. The problem, however, is that an unforgettable experience can be costly. Still, it’s not something on which you should skimp — your fond memories of your trip will last much longer than any tchotchke* — and there are ways to make it affordable.

Remember when I mentioned earlier that the preference for high-end flight and hotel accommodations are relative? They still are, and personally this is how I justify splurging a bit on a great experience — I choose to stay in modest digs and fly the cheapest way I can, so when I get to my destination I can have all the fun I want without feeling guilty about spending too much money.

5. Travel Insurance

I once went on what was meant to be an unforgettable European vacation that included London, Dublin, and finally, Paris for New Year’s Eve. But thanks to Mother Nature and an incompetent, famously low-priced Irish airline that shall remain nameless, my hopes of ushering in a new year in the City of Lights were dashed. The worst part? I was young and dumb and I didn’t have travel insurance. Hotel, train fares, and airfare all went out the window — along with my usually jovial attitude. Don’t let this happen to you, especially if you’re planning a special-occasion trip. Spend the extra money to protect your investment.

6. Vaccinations

I suspect that pre-travel vaccinations are not only overlooked a lot of the time, but are probably actively avoided due to the cost and relative inconvenience. In that case, let’s play a game of “Would You Rather..?”

Would you rather pay for pricey vaccinations that will help you avoid common illnesses, or would you rather spend your trip becoming best friends with a toilet bowl or visiting the very questionable local hospital?

Get advice and get the proper vaccinations before you depart. If you can’t afford it, don’t go. In some cases, it really could be the difference between life and death.

7. Health Care

Speaking of questionable local hospitals, they’re the very last place you ever want to visit while you’re travelling — sometimes even worse than jail. If you’re ill, spring for quality medical care.

Blogger behind Broke Girl Gets Rich, Chelsea Baldwin, just wrapped up a few years in Asia and soon she’ll embark on an extended stay in South America. As someone who has caught her fair share of stomach bugs while travelling and was subsequently treated at public health facilities, she advises better-quality healthcare as well.

“If the public health care in the country you’re visiting is known for its quality, that’s fine, but otherwise it’s always worth the extra cost to get more attention and better care from a private doctor,” she says. “Most American health insurance companies will cover you for emergency situations overseas, but if you think the cost of visiting a private doctor at your destination could get expensive, there are numerous travel insurance companies you can get plans from to help cover you.”

8. Mobile Phone Data

When I travel to destinations outside my network provider’s coverage area, I try to stick with the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. If you want to be fully connected — and it’s not a bad idea, despite the faction of people begging us to unplug every once in a while — there’s a solution that will cost you just a few bucks but will be MUCH cheaper than the fees you may incur from roaming.

“Buying a SIM card upon arrival in a country will cost you little more than $10 – 15 and it’s invaluable for all the times you get lost or you’re unable to communicate with your cab driver,” says Matthew Newton, CEO of Tourism Tiger. “Many small emergencies are solved through the simple asset of a SIM card charged with one gigabyte of data.”

9. Bottled Water

I generally don’t buy a lot of bottled water after a few days to acclimatise to a new environment, but Dr. Irene S. Levine (who moonlights as a freelance travel writer) makes a good case for bottled water when you’re travelling.

“There is no reason to take a chance,” she says. “Even if tap water is safe to drink, it may have a different mineral composition that is upsetting to your stomach and can potentially ruin your trip. Additionally, don’t try to save money by not drinking enough water. When you’re travelling, it’s easy to get dehydrated either on planes or in hot climates when you’re more active than usual.”

As someone who prefers tap water, I agree that this is a good practice to adopt. And to save money and waste, I try to buy a few large jugs of distilled water with which to fill my permanent (sturdy) water bottle, instead of buying many single plastic bottles throughout the whole trip.

10. All-Purpose Jacket

A good quality lightweight waterproof/windproof coat with sealable pockets is essential for all conditions. Keeps you warm in the cold, dry in the rain; pack it away when you don’t need anything and you’re all set. The best quality jackets cost upwards of $100 but I think it’s worth it and my own has lasted over ten years already and has plenty of wear left.

I came across these recently and you may very well like to consider one for your next trip. http://www.jaktogo.com/

* tchotch·ke
ˈCHäCHkə/

noun

informal
noun: tchotchke; plural noun: tchotchkes; noun: tsatske; plural noun: tsatskes
  1. 1.
    a small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket.
  2. 2.
    a pretty girl or woman.
1960s: Yiddish.

5 Ways to Save on Summer Travel

Holidaying during the peak seasons doesn’t have to bust your budget.

With the nights drawing in and images of skiing, winter sun getaways and even next summer’s prime resorts looking even sweeter than before, you are probably looking forward to (or trying to figure out how to afford) booking your next holiday. Even if your trip seems miles or months away, you can start figuring out how to save for it now. No matter what type of travel you have planned, take a look at these five ways you can pay less and travel more.

1. Know Your Style and Budget

Everyone travels differently, so it’s a good idea to identify what type of trip, trek or travel you want to have before you hit the road. Whether you are in the mood for beach time, big city exploration or extreme outdoors, it’s important to evaluate locations based on what you enjoy. Next comes creating a budget you can stick to for the place itself – staying in a hotel in the middle of New York City will likely be more expensive than camping at a national park for instance – and your goals for your time there.

2. Do Your Homework

It’s important to schedule some research time ahead of your trip. There are tons of brilliant websites where you can find discounted prices on travel, accommodation and activities. This can be especially helpful if you know what you want to get out of the holiday – relaxation, sports, beach time, city exploration, culture or a good mix – but aren’t tied to a specific location. Even if you can’t find a package that interests you, look for coupons for certain aspects of the trip you do want. Thorough research can help you save time and money and avoid “tourist traps.”

3. Know When to Buy Airfare

Speaking of research, it’s a good idea to find out the best time to book your travel. Online resources can be great tools for finding the cheapest travel ideas. Use multiple sources to price out your travel and look for the value in non-peak travel times if you are able to schedule it. Even if you have to travel during a busy time, you can save big just by flying mid-week or buying your flight or hotel at the right time. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons are usually best for securing discount rates and booking about eight weeks in advance seems to be the sweet spot.

4. Rent From the Owner

Think outside the hotel box. Whether you look into hostels or search Airbnb to find local hosts that will rent out their extra space or property, you can save big by avoiding the hotel. These options are often in good locations to give you an authentic experience. Many even have kitchens that can help you cut down on dining-out costs as well.

5. Maximize Rewards

Whether it is with your credit card or through a travel points program, you can save hugely if you take the time to understand your rewards. It’s important to make sure you are spending and using wisely along the way to help stock up for and make the most of your holiday experience.

Many of us love to travel to take a break from the norm, but money can be a deterring factor. Next time you go away, make sure you get the adventure or relaxation you crave without setting yourself back financially. You don’t want to incur debt that you could potentially be paying for months after your trip is over, causing so much stress the benefit of the break is lost! Spend wisely and within your budget and enjoy, enjoy enjoy…

What are the Cheapest Cities to Visit?

If you’re thinking about going on a short city break, your best bet might be to head east.

Bucharest

The capital of Romania comes out top for cheap European cities

In a recent report published by UBS, European cities took up six of the top ten most expensive cities to stay. The cheapest were primarily in Asia and Eastern Europe.

Zurich was the most expensive city to visit, averaging $1,050 for an overnight city break. New York came in close second at $1,030, followed by Geneva and Tokyo, where the price was at least $1,000 each. Paris, Munich, Taipei, Helsinki, and Dubai rounded out the top ten, with Dubai costing $790 for the night.

Those who want a dirt-cheap vacation should go to Bucharest, Romania, where the stay costs just $260. Mumbai in India and Sofia, Bulgaria cost only $300 for the night, followed by Bangkok, New Delhi and Beijing. Nairobi and Vilnus (Lithuania) both cost $380. The ninth and tenth least expensive cities were Budapest and Istanbul.

UBS created the list by finding out the average price in each city surveyed for two people, with an overnight stay in a first-class hotel, two dinners at a restaurant including a bottle of wine, a taxi ride, two tickets for public transportation, a rental car (100 km), a paperback book, a phone call and postage for a letter. The prices listed do not include travel to and from the destination.

Cost of City Break (US dollars)

Zurich  –  1,050
New York  –  1,030
Geneva  –  1,020
Tokyo  –  1,000
Oslo  –  980
Paris  –  890
Munich  –  830
Taipeh  –  820
Helsinki  –  800
Dubai  –  790
Copenhagen  –  780
Miami  –  780
London  –  750
Doha  –  740
Luxembourg  –  720
Manama (Bahrain)  –  720
Moscow  –  710
Rome  –  710
Toronto  –  710
Buenos Aires  –  700
Chicago  –  700
Frankfurt  –  700
Jakarta  –  690
Sydney  –  690
Milan  –  670
Seoul  –  670
Shanghai  –  670
Dublin  –  660
Lyon  –  650
Madrid  –  650
Tel Aviv  –  650
Hong Kong  –  640
Vienna  –  630
Berlin  –  620
Los Angeles  –  620
Stockholm  –  610
Barcelona  –  600
Bogotá  –  590
Auckland  –  580
Brussels  –  580
Montreal  –  570
Santiago de Chile  –  570
Lima  –  560
Kiev  –  550
Kuala Lumpur  –  550
Nicosia  –  550
Mexico City  –  540
Tallinn  –  540
Athens  –  530
Prague  –  500
São Paulo  –  500
Ljubljana  –  490
Warsaw  –  490
Cairo  –  480
Rio de Janeiro  –  470
Lisbon  –  460
Riga  –  460
Bratislava  –  450
Johannesburg  –  450
Manila  –  450
Istanbul  –  440
Budapest  –  430
Nairobi  –  380
Vilnius  –  380
Beijing  –  350
New Delhi  –  340
Bangkok  –  320
Mumbai (Bombay)  –  300
Sofia  –  300
Bucharest  –  260

Avid international travelers may be interested to learn that, for example, rental cars vary greatly in price from city to city: in Rio de Janeiro, a rental car can cost you around $25 – one tenth of the cost of the same vehicle in Oslo! Over half of our cities offer rental cars for under $110 per day – less than half the price of one in Paris, which was our second-most expensive city for rental cars. Postage had one of the greatest price variances: the price of sending a letter was 58 times more expensive in Bogotá than in Kiev; while fifty-nine cities have postage prices under a dollar.

Source: UBS

City breaks
Cities USD Index
Amsterdam 570 55.3
Athens 530 51.5
Auckland 580 56.3
Bangkok 320 31.1
Barcelona 600 58.3
Beijing 350 34.0
Berlin 620 60.2
Bogotá 590 57.3
Bratislava 450 43.7
Brussels 580 56.3
Bucharest 260 25.2
Budapest 430 41.7
Buenos Aires 700 68.0
Cairo 480 46.6
Chicago 700 68.0
Copenhagen 780 75.7
Doha 740 71.8
Dubai 790 76.7
Dublin 660 64.1
Frankfurt 700 68.0
Geneva 1,020 99.0
Helsinki 800 77.7
Hong Kong 640 62.1
Istanbul 440 42.7
Jakarta 690 67.0
Johannesburg 450 43.7
Kiev 550 53.4
Kuala Lumpur 550 53.4
Lima 560 54.4
Lisbon 460 44.7
Ljubljana 490 47.6
London 750 72.8
Los Angeles 620 60.2
Luxembourg 720 69.9
Lyon 650 63.1
Madrid 650 63.1
Manama 720 69.9
Manila 450 43.7
Mexico City 540 52.4
Miami 780 75.7
Milan 670 65.0
Montreal 570 55.3
Moscow 710 68.9
Mumbai 300 29.1
Munich 830 80.6
Nairobi 380 36.9
New Delhi 340 33.0
New York City* 1,030 100.0
Nicosia 550 53.4
Oslo 980 95.1
Paris 890 86.4
Prague 500 48.5
Riga 460 44.7
Rio de Janeiro 470 45.6
Rome 710 68.9
Santiago de Chile 570 55.3
Sao Paulo 500 48.5
Seoul 670 65.0
Shanghai 670 65.0
Sofia 300 29.1
Stockholm 610 59.2
Sydney 690 67.0
Taipei 820 79.6
Tallinn 540 52.4
Tel Aviv 650 63.1
Tokyo 1,000 97.1
Toronto 710 68.9
Vienna 630 61.2
Vilnius 380 36.9
Warsaw 490 47.6
Zurich 1,050 101.9

 

 

Best Countries for Solo Travellers

Taking off on a journey alone? Have no fear. Here are the safest, friendliest countries for your solo adventure.

Original feature in Travel&Leisure


There are many travellers who claim that travelling alone is the best way to see the world. You deliberately travel solo, they say, because you want to experience the world without the influence of a friend or partner’s tastes, prejudices, or preferences. When you’re with a companion, it’s easy to focus on that person and forget about meeting other travellers. Travelling alone, you’re more likely to be on a voyage of self-discovery.

Solo travel can be delightfully self-indulgent. You can spend a day doing nothing but café hopping or lingering in a single museum. You can loll on a beach on the South China Sea or hire a guide to visit remote ruins. Indulge your classical music passion in one of Europe’s great concert halls or join a group of like-minded strangers for a Himalayan trek.

It’s your call. Solo travel is the ideal opportunity to try something new, like a surf camp in Central America, a bike trip in Southeast Asia, or a visit to a classic European spa town. Despite the dreaded (and often costly) single supplement, bona fide single accommodations are both affordable and available in many parts of the world.

Still, there are two concerns for many solo travellers. The first is safety: the simple fact is that there are countries that are statistically safer than others for travellers.

The second concern is a bit less tangible but just as critical: is the country you’ve chosen a happy place? Is it a country where you’ll be made to feel welcome, a nation where you can easily interact with the locals, where conversation flows easily even if you’re struggling with a new language? For truly rewarding solo travel, it’s crucial that you can connect with the culture and not feel like an outsider.

To find the answer to these two questions, we crunched the numbers from the Global Peace Index, which ranks 162 nations for their peacefulness, and the Happy Planet Index, which looks at environmental impact and human well-being in 151 countries to measure where people live long and happy lives.

The resulting 20 best destinations for solo travellers present an amazing mash-up of geography along with radically different cultures, languages, and customs. (Canada represents North America here, as the U.S. didn’t rank highly enough to make the cut.) Safety and happiness prevail in all of them, making any of them ideal for your next solo adventure.

No. 1 New Zealand

Safety Ranking: 4
Happiness Ranking: 24

In New Zealand, the lush setting of the Lord of the Rings films, travellers can look forward to adventures on glaciers, in rainforests, and on the peaks of the Southern Alps, not to mention bungee jumping, jet boating, and hiking on the legendary Milford Track. All while meeting some of the friendliest and most open-minded people in the world—a major plus for those going solo.

No. 2 Norway

Safety Ranking: 10
Happiness Ranking: 22

The best way for solo travellers to experience an expensive country that’s 1,000 miles long: aboard one of the Hurtigruten coastal steamers that sail up the coast of Norway, into the city of Bergen, and through some of the country’s most beautiful fjords, stopping at dozens of ports along the way. Or sign up with a local outfitter for a multiday trek along the fjords, with accommodations ranging from comfortable hotels to mountain huts. The northern lights are gratis.

No. 3 Switzerland

Safety Ranking: 5
Happiness Ranking: 30

Switzerland, a place known for people who mind their own business, is a natural choice for solo travellers. Equip yourself with good hiking boots and a Swiss Rail Pass—good for every train, tram, and lake steamer. You might start with a couple of days in stately, pedestrian-friendly Zurich and then head south to the shores of Lake Geneva for the bistros, nightlife, and museums of Montreux and Lausanne before carrying on to the Italian-speaking Ticino region.

No. 4 Costa Rica

Safety Ranking: 42
Happiness Ranking: 1

You could argue that the concept of adventure travel was born here in Costa Rica, a.k.a. the world’s happiest country. This Central American destination has been drawing Americans for decades to surf on the Pacific coast or join a rafting company for a day on the white water of the Reventazón or Pacuare rivers. If comfort is a priority, book one of the country’s storied adventure lodges and head out for day trips in the cloud forest.

No. 5 Austria

Safety Ranking: 3
Happiness Ranking: 42

Small and compact, Vienna is one of the easiest European cities to navigate as a solo traveller. Start with an abundance of concert halls, dozens of museums, and cafés where you are expected to linger, a tried-and-true Viennese tradition. Salzburg is even smaller but equally welcoming to singles. A superb rail network means that getting anywhere else in the country, from Innsbruck to Kitzbühel to Graz, is easy.

No. 6 Vietnam

Safety Ranking: 45
Happiness Ranking: 2

Street life is colorful and safe in Vietnam’s largest cities, whether you’re exploring Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City or heading for Hanoi’s massive Dong Xuan Market. Do tai chi with hundreds of others by Hoan Kiem lake before heading into the mountains of the Central Highlands, preferably on a trek with a local outfitter. Wind up with a stay on Phu Quoc Island for a taste of the classic Southeast Asian beach-bum lifestyle.

No. 7 Chile

Safety Ranking: 30
Happiness Ranking: 19

As a rule, Chileans tend to be friendly and welcoming, a plus for adventurous single travellers eager to explore this 3,000-mile-long country of deserts, mountains, and endless coastline. Whether you head north to the magical Atacama Desert or south to untrammeled Chiloé Island or Patagonia, save a little time for Santiago, safe and easy to navigate. You might well find yourself as a guest at a family asado, or Chilean barbecue—and becoming part of a local family may be the ultimate definition of a friendly country.

No. 8 Japan (equal)

Safety Ranking: 8
Happiness Ranking: 48

After a few days in the fascinating megalopolis of Tokyo, hop a bullet train ride past Mount Fuji to experience the contrasting tranquility of old Kyoto. Lodgings, from venerable ryokan inns to modern hotels, are designed with single travellers in mind. You can enjoy a communal hot spring bath, meditate in a Zen garden, and dine at the counter of a sushi restaurant—a classic favorite of solo travellers.

No. 8 Sweden (equal)

Safety Ranking: 11
Happiness Ranking: 45

It’s easy to be a solo traveller in Stockholm, a compact city surrounded by the waters of the archipelago. Sea kayaking? Check. A day exploring the city’s parks by bike? Easy enough. There are outdoor cafés, the artistic treasures of the Moderna Museet, and stellar shopping for design here in the country that gave us Ikea. City life aside, the quintessential Swedish experience is outdoors, lakeside or trekking in the far north, both easily done with an outfitter.

No. 10 Indonesia

Safety Ranking: 54
Happiness Ranking: 5

Let’s see, temples, yoga on the beach, and cheap food, lodging, and massages. Then add an international roster of backpackers, hedonists, and spiritual seekers. It must be Bali, the single most popular destination for Western solo travellers in Indonesia. If you prefer someplace less touristy, take a 25-minute flight to Lombok, an island off the coast of Bali that feels like travelling back in time to 1970s Indonesia.

No. 11 Germany

Safety Ranking: 17
Happiness Ranking: 43

Too many choices can be a good thing, and that’s what you’ll encounter in Germany, one of Europe’s friendliest countries. You can hang out in Berlin—the café, gallery, and nightclub-filled epicenter of hipster Europe—and never want for company. But sooner or later, you’ll be tempted to explore other parts of this underrated country, using Germany’s well-regarded rail network. Head to the art hub of Düsseldorf, the beer gardens of Munich, or the restored city of Dresden.

No. 12 Argentina

Safety Ranking: 43
Happiness Ranking: 18

Café culture and a European vibe are reasons that solo travellers flock to Buenos Aires, where tango salons stay open late. But life outside of the city of Evita can be equally fascinating, whether you fancy the wine region of Mendoza, the starkly beautiful landscapes around Salta, or horse rides with gauchos.

No. 13 Canada (equal)

Safety Ranking: 7
Happiness Ranking: 58

As a solo traveller visiting the world’s second largest country, you should set your sights on its cities—like Vancouver, tucked between mountains and water, with fantastic Asian cuisine and the sublime green space of Stanley Park. Or Montreal, for its thriving café and bar scene and distinctly French flair. Smaller redoubts like Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital can be especially welcoming; it’s a thrumming university town that also happens to be great for sea kayaking.

No. 13 Finland (equal)

Safety Ranking: 6
Happiness Ranking: 59

Plan your visit for the sunshine-filled long days of summer and get oriented in Helsinki, walkable, easygoing, and filled with design stores and museums. The Esplanade is an area filled with outdoor cafés and a market. Sociability begins here and continues in saunas, which are found all over the city and the country. Day trips by train are a breeze, whether you’re bound for the seaside towns of Hanko or Lohja, or the arts-filled town of Espoo.

No. 13 Laos (equal)

Safety Ranking: 38
Happiness Ranking: 27

Laos has something of a cult-like status among single travellers. Like Vietnam, Laos was a war-ravaged place that has emerged as a peaceful haven. Unlike Vietnam, it has managed to retain much of its original culture and to preserve its environment, among the most pristine in Southeast Asia. Highlights include a classic riverboat trip down the Mekong, a visit to the royal city of Luang Prabang, and hanging out with an international cadre of travellers in the capital of Vientiane.

No. 16 Panama

Safety Ranking: 57
Happiness Ranking: 9

Adventure travel is a prime reason for solo travellers to visit this Central American country, from whitewater rafting on the Chiriquí and Chiriquí Viejo rivers to ziplining through the tropical treetops. Then there’s the growing surfing culture, especially in Bocas del Toro, where the Caribbean vibe, intense nightlife, and beach culture are tempting for young singles. Be sure to catch the obligatory view of ships transiting the Panama Canal—and to explore Panama City’s atmospheric Casco Antiguo (Old Town)—before or after your time on the coast.

No. 17 Netherlands

Safety Ranking: 20
Happiness Ranking: 55

Take liberal social policies, the original bike culture, and cities and towns crisscrossed with canals, and you’ve got the solo traveller’s Disneyland known as the Netherlands. The Dutch are among the most laid-back and accepting people in Europe. You can get wonderfully lost in the tiny streets of Amsterdam for a week, though you’d do well to venture out to see smaller cities like Utrecht or the art capital of Maastricht.

No. 18 Ireland

Safety Ranking: 13
Happiness Ranking: 67

Blame it on the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, but the famous Irish devil-may-care friendliness is a lot more subdued these days. Statistics aside, whether you’re in a thatch-roofed pub in County Clare or walking down Grafton Street in Dublin on a literary walking tour in this UNESCO City of Literature, you will still feel welcome. With a vast network of bed & breakfasts, where to stay as a solo is easy.

No. 19 Iceland

Safety Ranking: 1
Happiness Ranking: 80

The safest country on the list ranks 80th for happiness? Blame some of the highest taxes in the world and long winters. Even so, it’s an easy country for single travellers to feel comfortable in. The capital city of Reykjavik makes a fine base for excursions to swim outdoors at the Blue Lagoon or to ride Icelandic horses across some of the most rugged terrain on earth.

No. 20 United Kingdom

Safety Ranking: 47
Happiness Ranking: 39

The land of Shakespeare has long been a welcoming place for single American travellers, especially those with an Anglophile bent. You can typically enjoy theater—and everything else—sans lost-in-translation issues. (If only Londoners would do something about those sky-high prices, from the cost of a Tube ticket to a hotel stay.) Historic cities like York and Cambridge, as well as the countryside destinations, are a haven for solo travellers.

 

 

JetComfy – the Best Travel Pillow Ever?

Flying economy class is a necessary evil for serial trekkers like me and of course we all know that the best way to utilise the flight time is to nap your way through it. But if you don’t have a budget for the luxuriously wide reclining seats in first class – and let’s face it, who of us does?! – how can you ensure you arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to go instead of doubled up in agony with the inevitable stiff neck?

You could inflate an awkwardly sweat-inducing pillow, play Twister and jam your cheek between seat and bulkhead or sit tight and hope to hell you don’t slowly collapse dribbling on to your neighbour’s face.

Alternatively, you could help the JetComfy on Kickstarter get funded.

JetComfy is about half the size of one of those annoying inflatable jobs but tucked away inside is a lightweight telescopic aluminium arm with a clamp and velcro strap on the other end that attaches to your seat-rest. Extend the arm, angle the pillow and rest the side of your head against the cushion. Nap mode activated.

Looking forward to trying it out..!

JetComfy - Best Travel Pillow Ever with 16 Features project video thumbnail

https://www.facebook.com/jetcomfy

Simplify Travel With the Small Things

Source: HuffPost Travel

When Mother Theresa said, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies,” she was certainly not talking about our carry-on bags. That said, between luggage restrictions and limited cabin space, we need to be conscious of the size of each and every item that accompanies us on a trip. In our search for the perfect intersection of size and functionality we have located some pint-sized pieces that overcompensate for their diminutive dimensions.

Drive HD DashCam CDR 900 by Cobra

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This small dashboard camera records all the details of your drive and lets you share footage via your smartphone. Let the folks back home enjoy the beautiful countryside, tiny hilltop villages, and gorgeous coast roads right along with you.

Tylt Energi+ Power Backpack

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A power backpack with built-in 10,400 mAh battery, the Tylt Energi+ charges 3 devices at the same time. It features pass-throughs for cables, dedicated compartments for your laptop and tablet, lined pockets for phones and glasses, and plenty of space for all your other gear.

WorldSim Orbizz Dual Sim Phone

Make and receive calls anywhere with an unlocked dual SIM Android phone that works in over 175 countries. The prepaid SIM is easily topped up, and dual UK and USA numbers receive free incoming calls in over 90 countries. Data is supported in over 135 countries.

WorldSim Tri-Fi

Connect up to 10 gadgets at once with a pay-as-you-go pocket-sized mobile hotspot with worldwide data SIM card. It also does double duty as a charger for your phone or tablet, and triple duty as a storage device.

Epson WorkForce WF-100 Portable Color Printer

Wherever work takes you, be ready for your next presentation or interview with the world’s lightest and smallest wireless mobile printer. The WorkForce WF-100 connects via WiFi to your laptop, phone, or tablet.

Ibattz BattStation Optimus

Power up two devices at once with this 20,400 mAh compact charger. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and other smartphones and tablets, the BattStation Optimus will charge a phone up to 8 times.

Sony SmartWatch 3

Compatible with Android phones (like the Sony Xperia Z3v) this incredible watch provides useful information at a glance from hundreds of available apps, tracks your fitness, and also responds to voice commands.

Flight 001 Power Cube

Expand the number of outlets and the charging capacity in your hotel room with this compact cube that offers 4 grounded power outlets and two USB ports.

G-Hold

Whether you are taking a photo, reading in transit, or presenting in a boardroom, you can keep a firm hand on your tablet with this secure suction cup grip. It rotates 360 to change viewing angles, and folds flat to fit in a case or sleeve.

iShade

If you are watching a movie or checking email in bright sunlight the iShade by OrigamiPlastics is there to keep glare at bay. It also prevents nosy seatmates from peeking at your computer screen while flying! Varying sizes available for laptops and tablets.

XShot Selfie Stick

Why trust a stranger to take a decent picture of you and your partner? A high-tech camera extender with Bluetooth remote, the XShot keeps you in control of your travel photos. Interchangeable heads hold your phone, camera, or GoPro.

A Picked Pocket: A Piqued Perspective

This is an interesting story from a fellow trekker who was pickpocketed in broad daylight in Bolivia.  Take care when travelling: make sure your passport, credit cards and money are in a body pouch or tight-fitting money belt and don’t leave your phone or other valuables in an outer, unzipped inner or open back pocket where they can be easily lifted.
                                                                                              Ned


I went to Bolivia to pursue my interest in journalism not knowing what to expect. As my last connecting flight from La Paz to Cochabamba soared over expanses of towering mountains, the reality of my imminent arrival in a foreign land where I knew not a soul dawned on me. I wondered about connecting with new people, about communicating in a language that is not my own, about adjusting to a new city and job, and about being so far removed from everyone and everything that had been familiar to me for the preceding eighteen years.

A mere four days after touching down on Bolivian soil, I was force-fed my first real lesson in what taking risks can entail. A fellow volunteer I had met the day before and I met up on a Sunday afternoon to visit La Cancha, Cochabamba’s main marketplace. Guidebooks warn about the crowded, chaotic labyrinth of a market, but we were eager to embrace a taste of the local culture in our new home.

As we approached the frenetic heart of the market, we maneuvered over men in bowler hats and women cradling babies in colorful woven slings to hop out of a taxi trufi filled to the bursting. We lost no time in setting about to explore the twisting streets teeming with color and energy. Fruits and vegetables laid strewn across blankets lining the cobblestone paths, and rickety stalls hosted piles of fabrics and handicrafts. Vociferous vendors touted their goods and haggled with customers. Children darted amongst the throngs of shoppers while the elderly observed the commotion from whatever available niches remained.

I pulled out my safely stashed phone to photograph the whirlwind of vibrancy while my new friend examined some merchandise at a nearby stall. We were the only tourists in the market as far as we could see. Years of high school Spanish classes and hours spent poring over travel books in my preparatory efforts to blend in with the locals proved insufficient. I stuck out like a great white American sore thumb.

Conscious as I felt of my conspicuous foreignness, I evidently had not been quite as aware of my surroundings as I believed.

I feel a forceful tugging at my hand and before I have time to register the shock of being robbed, the pickpocket hastily disappears into the crowds and I am dashing right after him. I can hear myself shouting, alternating in Spanish and English, pleading for someone to stop him. The voice sounds distant and removed from my body. He tears through narrow, snaking alleys, attempting to lose me in the labyrinth. Athleticism is not included amongst my fortes, but I run faster than I knew my legs could carry me, willing my eyes to maintain sight of the thief’s red shirt flashing like a bullfighter’s flag ahead of me.

Three local market-goers pick up the chase, to my immense gratitude. At every turn, at every point where the route split off into a series of tortuous new passageways, the vendors stationed at stalls lining the way point my fellow pursuers and me in the direction of the pickpocket.

Just when I begin to think hope is lost, we turn a corner and nearly barrel into the crimson-shirted thief, tightly restrained in the arms of two fortuitously located gentlemen. At this point in the story, I sometimes speculate about the many things I could have said to the pickpocket in that brief instant I found myself face-to-face with him. But my capacity for coherent statements – much less grand, indignant ones – was all but extinguished along with my stamina. So I retrieve my phone from his clutch with just enough breath left to express thanks to those who had helped me.

Celebration of this triumphant retrieval was short-lived. My day’s adventure was far from over.

I turn away from the scene and realize, with a dread that sinks like an anchor into the pit of my stomach, that I am utterly lost in a bewildering maze of crops and crafts.

My wandering begins. One vendor, an aging woman clad in a traditional shawl and pleated skirt with crinkles etched into the corners of her eyes, beckons me over to her stall. She bids me to sit down. “Cálmate, cálmate,” she says, as she insists that I rest and drink a cup of Coca-Cola from a bottle she procures out of thin air. Quite soon, a small gaggle of locals gathers around. They ask how I’m doing, where I’m from, where I’m going.

I converse for a while and, after thanking them for their much-appreciated kindness and generosity, I set out bereft of the foggiest notion of what direction I’d come from or how to find my way back.

I tell myself that this fruit stand or that crafts display look like familiar sights I might have bolted past while making a shrieking, sprinting spectacle of myself shortly before. Truthfully, I am blindly choosing alleys and hoping I’ll somehow end up on a main street.

Glancing around, I locate the tallest building in my near vicinity – a crumbling cream-colored structure topped with a billboard advertising sneakers. On my Bolivian pay-as-you-go mobile, I blurt out this description to my friend, and she exclaims that she sees it. The arrangement to meet there occurs just in the nick of time, for my phone buzzes directly after to inform me that I have eleven Boliviano cents of credit remaining (about two U.S. pennies) – insufficient fare for a text or more than three seconds of phone conversation. Though I had met this girl just one day before, I don’t believe I’ve ever been so relieved to see a familiar face.

“TAMAR. Never pull sh*t like that again!!!” Came the inevitable response from a close friend back home to whom I later recounted the incident. In my best attempt to quell her concern, I promised that I was being careful and staying safe.

What I didn’t add was an honest concession that, well, I’ll probably pull sh*t like this again. Life is too short not to chase after what you want (or want back) – even hard on the heels of a fleet-footed filcher.

That day I crossed paths with the negative intent of one individual and the bottomless kindness of a whole slew of strangers – attaining a better understanding, in the process, of humankind’s capacity for both. And perhaps that this was my most frightening experience stands as testament to how sheltered my existence has been thus far more than anything else. But each new experience contributes to growth, and the surest way to mature is to surmount self-doubt, to take the risks that demolish the cozy but constricting walls of comfort zones.

Heading into my Bolivian adventure, watching the mountains sprawling endlessly below me, I feared the unknown. But with each new encounter, each new discovery that chips away at my great white American ignorance, I have come to embrace it.

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Ned’s Tip:  Pickpockets are getting better and better.  Read this brilliant guide to avoid getting caught!

My 30 Best Travel Tips After 4 Years Traveling The World

Source: expertvagabond.com

Favorite Travel Tips

My Best Tips for World Travel

It’s now been 4 years since I sold everything and left the United States to travel the world. These are the best travel tips I’ve discovered along the way.

It all started when I took a one-way flight from Miami to Guatemala City, leaping nervously into the unknown and leaving much of my old life behind while embarking on an epic travel adventure around the world.

It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve learned a lot since I first left. To celebrate my 4 year “travelversary”, I’ve decided to share a collection of my best and most useful travel tips to help inspire you to make travel a priority in your life.

Feel free to share your own best travel tips at the end!

1. Patience Is Important

Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless.

Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse.

2. Wake Up Early

Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.

Favorite Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Laugh at Yourself

3. Laugh At Yourself

You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.

Once a whole bus full of Guatemalans laughed with glee when I forced our driver to stop so I could urgently pee on the side of the road. Returning to the bus and laughing with them gave me new friends for the remainder of the journey.

4. Stash Extra Cash

Cash is king around the world. To cover your ass in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did.

Some of my favorite stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag. Oh, and make sure you have a good travel banking system setup too.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Meet Local People

5. Meet Local People

Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language. Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting.

People enrich your travels more than sights do.

6. Pack A Scarf

I happen to use a shemagh, but sarongs work great too. This simple piece of cotton cloth is one of my most useful travel accessories with many different practical applications. It’s great for sun protection, a makeshift towel, carrying stuff around, an eye mask, and much more.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Observe Daily Life

7. Observe Daily Life

If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, I recommend spending a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner by yourself just watching day to day life happen in front of you.

Slow down your thoughts and pay close attention to the details around you. The smells, the colors, human interactions, and sounds. It’s a kind of meditation — and you’ll see stuff you never noticed before.

8. Back Everything Up

When my laptop computer was stolen in Panama, having most of my important documents and photos backed up saved my ass. Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency.

Backup your files & photos on an external hard drive as well as online with software like Backblaze.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Take Lots of Photos

9. Take Lots Of Photos

You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist”. Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir.

They don’t cost anything, they’re easy to share with others, and they don’t take up space in your luggage. Just remember once you have your shot to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view.

10. There’s Always A Way

Nothing is impossible. If you are having trouble going somewhere or doing something, don’t give up. You just haven’t found the best solution or met the right person yet. Don’t listen to those who say it can’t be done.

Perseverance pays off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told what I want isn’t possible, only to prove it wrong later when I don’t listen to the advice and try anyway.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Smile & Say Hello

11. Smile & Say Hello

Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too. This is a fast way to make new friends.

You can’t expect everyone to just walk around with a big stupid grin on their face. That’s your job. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.

12. Splurge A Bit

I’m a huge fan of budget travel, as it lets you travel longer and actually experience more of the fascinating world we live in rather than waste money on stuff you don’t need. You can travel many places for $30 a day with no problems.

That said, living on a shoestring gets old after a while. It’s nice (and healthy) to go over your budget occasionally. Book a few days at a nice hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant, or spend a wild night on the town.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Keep an Open Mind

13. Keep An Open Mind

Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if different from your own. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn.

14. Try Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing.org is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. If you truly want to experience a country and it’s people, staying with a local is the way to go.

There are millions of couchsurfers around the world willing to host you and provide recommendations. It’s fun and safe too. Expensive hotels are not the only option, there are all kinds of cheap travel accommodation options out there.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Volunteer Occasionally

15. Volunteer Occasionally

Make it a point to volunteer some of your time for worthwhile projects when traveling. Not only is it a very rewarding experience, but you’ll often learn more about the country and its people while also making new friends.

There’s a great site called Grassroots Volunteering where you can search for highly recommended volunteer opportunities around the world.

16. Pack Ear Plugs

This should actually be #1 on the list. I love my earplugs! Muffle the sounds of crying babies, drunk Australians, barking dogs, honking horns, dormitory sex, natural gas salesmen, and more. A traveler’s best friend. These are my favorite earplugs for comfort & effectiveness.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Don’t Be Afraid

17. Don’t Be Afraid

The world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip. Use common sense and you’ll be ok. Most people are friendly, trustworthy, generous, and willing to help you out.

This goes for women too. I realize I’m not a woman, but I’ve met plenty of experienced female travelers who agree.

18. Get Lost On Purpose

If you want to see the parts of town where real people live & work, you need to go visit them. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking.

Don’t worry too much about stumbling into dangerous neighborhoods either, as locals will generally warn you before you get that far.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Eat Local Food

19. Eat Local Food

Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front.

I’ve been very sick only twice in my travels. Don’t be scared of the food.

20. Say Yes Often

Be impulsive and say yes when someone randomly invites you to meet their family, try a new activity, or explore a place you didn’t know existed. It’s these unexpected and unplanned situations that add spice to your travels and always turn into the best stories later.

Accept the kindness of strangers when you travel — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Slow Down

21. Slow Down

Please don’t try to cram 6 countries into 6 weeks of travel. All the good stuff happens when you really take the time to explore. You’ll learn about activities that aren’t in your guidebook and meet people who are eager to show you around.

I can honestly say that NONE of my best travel experiences happened within the first few days of arriving somewhere. Spend more time in fewer places for maximum enjoyment.

22. Keep Good Notes

My memory for details sucks. When I first started traveling the world 4 years ago, I didn’t keep a good journal, and now I’m regretting it.

Information like the names of people I met, conversations I had, feelings about a new experience, or what a particular town smelled like. If you ever want to write about your travels, these details are handy.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

23. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Challenge yourself to try things that normally give you anxiety. The more you do this, the more that anxiety will fade away. Not a hiker? Go on more hikes. Have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. Scared of weird food? Eat the weirdest thing you can find.

The reason this works so well while traveling is because everything is already so different, what’s one more new/uncomfortable experience?

24. Don’t Plan Too Much

I cringe when readers ask how many days they should spend in a particular country or city. The truth is I have no idea what you’ll enjoy or who you’ll meet. I thought I’d rocket through Nicaragua in a week or two, but ended up living there for 4 months.

My advice is to pick a starting point, 1 or 2 must-do activities, and an ending point (or not). Then just let the universe determine the rest.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Pack Less Stuff

25. Pack Less Stuff

You don’t need 1/2 the gear you think you do to travel anywhere. We’ve all done it. It’s a right of passage for travelers to slowly become better at packing less. My first backpack was 70 liters packed full, my current bag is only 38 liters.

As a full-time vagabond, everything I own fits on my back. If you’re not sure about packing something, you don’t need it. It’s also possible to buy most things at your destination country if you discover you need them.

26. Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts are awesome. It’s like creating your own personal radio station and filling it with shows and music you always want to listen to. I never thought I’d actually look forward to a 10 hour bus ride. But with podcasts, it’s possible (well, as long as the seats are comfortable).

Time will fly by as you listen to incredible storytelling, fun music, or interviews with experts. Here are some of my favorites: This American Life, The Moth, RISK!, Radiolab, Smart Passive Income, and Electro-Swing.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Treat Your Body Well

27. Treat Your Body Well

Travel can throw your body out of whack. When you’re moving from place to place it’s difficult to maintain a workout routine, and many of us slack off. Or we don’t sleep enough. Or we eat too many cupcakes. I’m guilty of not flossing my teeth.

Remember to be nice to your body. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy, use sunscreen, and exercise often (check out this bodyweight routine, no gym required!). And, yes, flossing too I guess.

28. Stay In Touch

Remember to call your family & friends from time to time. Maybe surprise them and go old-school by sending a postcard (it’s in the mail, Mom!). Travel isn’t lonely, far from it. You constantly meet other people. But many of those relationships are fleeting. So maintaining a strong connection with the people who know you best is important.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Get Off the Beaten Path

29. Get Off The Beaten Path

I know it’s cliché, but you should still attempt it. Seek out interesting and unusual places that don’t see much tourism. Many memorable travel experiences have happened to me in areas that are not easy to visit. By all means travel to popular sites, but don’t rule out other locations just because they’re not on the tourist trail.

Although please realize that just because an area is remote or dangerous doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life-changing experience.

30. Travel More

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 4 years, it’s that many people back home love to tell me how lucky I am while making excuses why they can’t travel. It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work. Who will feed their pets?

When I suggest solutions to these “problems”, they still don’t take action. Why? Because they’re often hiding behind the true reason: they’re scared.

Unfortunately most people who wait to travel the world never do.

You don’t need to sell all your worldly possessions and become a homeless vagabond like me. Just get out there more than you do now. Start with a weekend in a different state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door.

The new car, remodeling project, and iPhone can wait. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. Career breaks are possible. You have friends who would love to watch your pets.

It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there. Explore some of it now, rather than later. ★

Travel More

How to Travel the World

 

5 Essential Life Hacks for the Modern Drinker

Thanks again to Huff Post’s Liquor.com for this totes essential advice:


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Ever been out on a date, having fun, drinking a glass of red wine and then later notice that your teeth are stained purple? Or maybe you accidentally spilled a bit of your sticky pink cocktail on a pair of work pants?

The troubles that go with being a booze lover can be vast and varied, but more often than not there’s a remedy. No matter if you need to quickly clean off your purple teeth, remove a pesky stain or figure out how to BYOCocktail, there’s a simple (enough) solution.

1. Remove Stains

If you’ve ever wished that “BYOB” automatically included cocktails and not only beer and wine, well–are you sure it doesn’t? While there are multiple ways to stash a cocktail on the go–this is why bottled cocktails exist, right?–one of the easiest ways to mix and go is with a trusty Mason jar. You can not only mix one drink in a half pint-sized jar, but you can also mix for a group. Keep in mind, though, that if you go this route, you’ll want to stick with simple drinks. Egg whites and cream won’t travel, but a Manhattan, Martini or Margarita will keep its consistency well. You can even ask for a glass of ice or a bucket to re-chill the drink once you’re at the table.

Spilled a bit of red wine down the front of your shirt? Again? Fear not: This supposedly unbeatable stain does, indeed, have a match: cold water, lots of salt and, if the situation is dire enough, vinegar. While it may seem too good to be true (and may be if the stain has set too long), Real Simple shows how the formula works.

For all other stains, including sticky cocktails, beer and really most everything else, you’ll want to be sure you have a Tide to Go pen handy. Pre-treat the stain right away and you’re most likely in the clear. But if all else fails, take your stained party-wear to the dry cleaners and let the professionals handle it.

2. BYO…Cocktail

If you’ve ever wished that “BYOB” automatically included cocktails and not only beer and wine, well–are you sure it doesn’t? While there are multiple ways to stash a cocktail on the go–this is why bottled cocktails exist, right?–one of the easiest ways to mix and go is with a trusty Mason jar. You can not only mix one drink in a half pint-sized jar, but you can also mix for a group. Keep in mind, though, that if you go this route, you’ll want to stick with simple drinks. Egg whites and cream won’t travel, but a Manhattan, Martini or Margarita will keep its consistency well. You can even ask for a glass of ice or a bucket to re-chill the drink once you’re at the table.

3. Say Nay to Purple Teeth

The red-wine struggle is very real, and stains extend far beyond your favorite shirt. It’s not uncommon to find yourself at a nice dinner, sipping on a glass of delicious Pinot Noir and then, out of nowhere, get self conscious about your possibly purple teeth. While you could carry travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste along with you, you could also be sure to have on hand a product designed especially for this predicament: Wine Wipes. That’s right, a wipe made specifically for your vino-colored teeth.

4. Oh, Your Beer’s Not a Twist-Off?

Image: Wired.com

At one point or another, everyone falls into the twist-off trap: It looks like there’s an arrow on that cap, but it’s not coming off–no matter how hard you twist.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to remove that pesky lid without breaking the bottle. If you’ve got a countertop, lighter, key or another bottle on hand, you’re golden. Household Hacker demonstrates each of these fool-proof ways get to your brew.

5. And When There’s No Corkscrew…

Though a similar predicament to not having a bottle opener, the absence of a corkscrew is much more daunting. Sure, you could push the cork all the way into the bottle with a high heel (no, we’ve never done that…), but it’s best to avoid the resulting shards of cork in the wine–especially if it’s a nice bottle.

Instead, try the innovative screw, screwdriver and hammer method if you’re handy (no, you won’t be smashing anything). You could even go the way of a kitchen knife or one of these other ingeniously creative techniques.

 

 

These Travel Hacks Will Make Your Trip So Much Easier

Click on the video below to see more awesome ways to get to your destination. Happy travels!

Thanks to Huff Post Travel

Traveling is hard. But with the right hacks, any travel situation can be made easy.

Famed “hacks” YouTuber Dave Hax recently made a video sharing packing tips and basic hotel tricks that can transform a trip. Before you pack your bags, you’re gonna want to watch some of these:

The best way to pack for an overnight trip:

The easiest way to watch movies on your phone:

 

Spring Cleaning tips put to the test

Thanks to HuffPost for sorting out the tips from the myths – also useful when staying in hostels or B&Bs.


Myth: Lemons Can Clean Away Hard Water Stains
TRUE: A truly green alternative, lemons are a great way to safely remove water stains from glass and chrome in the kitchen and bathroom. Their acidity breaks down stains while also releasing a fresh clean scent. Simply rub a lemon on the stain and then rinse. Also a great way to remove general grunge from around taps.

Myth: Bleach is The Ultimate Cleaner
FALSE: Bleach doesn’t clean so much as it disinfects. Bleach does a great job killing bacteria, and also removes tough stains. But bleach doesn’t really clean dirt and residue from surfaces. To do that, you need to scrub and rinse the surface with a cleaning product. For many household cleaning jobs, bleach just isn’t the right choice. It has heavy fumes that can make you sick, as well as damage and remove colour from some surfaces.

Myth: If It Smells Good, It’s Clean
FALSE: We often associate freshness and cleanliness with fragrant scents. But sometimes the fragrance may just be covering up the actual problem. It’s been proven that scented and unscented versions of the same product clean equally well. The best way to know whether a surface is clean is to do the touch test. If it feels clean and looks clean, chances are you have sufficiently removed dirt and grime from the surface.

Myth: Window Squeegees Remove Pet Fur From Furniture
TRUE: A window squeegee does a great job at removing pet fur from carpets and furniture. Pet hair from dogs and cats can be hard to remove once it has become embedded in the fibres — even with a vacuum. The solution? A simple window squeegee. Use the rubber blade to rake up the pet hair. Once most of the pet hair has been successfully removed, a vacuum should be able to finish the job.

[Rubber gloves work brilliantly too! Ned]

Myth: Walnuts Can Remove Scratches On Wooden Furniture
TRUE: For natural furniture scratch repair, just take the meat of a walnut (not the hard shell), and rub it gently on the scratch in the wood using a circular and up-and-down motion. The walnut will release an oily substance, which should also be rubbed into the scratch. It is these natural oils that help repair the wood. A quick polish and the scratch should be gone.

Myth: All-Purpose Cloths Are Just As Good For Cleaning As Microfibre Cloths
FALSE: An ordinary cleaning cloth has fibres made of cotton or a synthetic material such as nylon. The fibres in these fabrics are quite large. But a microfibre cloth has far more fibres and they’re much smaller. Microfibres are able to attach themselves to even the smallest, most microscopic dirt particles — ones that ordinary cloth fibres simply brush past.

Myth: Citrus Peels Safely Deodorize The Garbage Disposal
FALSE: Citrus peels may temporarily eliminate nasty scents from the garbage disposal. However, if they aren’t completely ground up, they will eventually contribute to the bad smells wafting from your sink. Citrus peels can clog your drain and corrode the metal in your disposal. It’s safer to pour a few teaspoons of white vinegar into the disposal instead.

Myth: You Can Remove Carpet Dents With An Ice Cube
TRUE: This sounds strange, but there is truth to it! Take an ice cube and place it in the stubborn carpet dent for a while, then fluff it with a fork to get the fibres looking good as new.

Myth: Use Plants As Air Purifiers At Home
TRUE: Plant experts tell us that specific varieties do a great job purifying the air in our homes. Plants such as rubber trees, corn plants, bamboo palm, ficus, gerber daisies, english ivy, peace lily and philodendrons are great picks.

Myth: Newspaper Is Better Than Paper Towels To Clean Glass And Mirrors
TRUE: This is a popular one. It seems impossible that a sheet of paper covered in ink could clean anything, but it has been a contractor’s trick for years. Using newspaper on windows leaves no streaks, is absorbent and easy to maneuver around the window. The lack of lint on newspaper (vs. paper towels or an ordinary cleaning cloth) is the key.

Myth: Using A Vacuum Cleaner Is Bad For Your Carpets
FALSE: The argument here is that the rotating brush in a vacuum can pull, stretch, and wear out carpet fibres. However, this is untrue. Dirt puts more wear and tear on our carpets than most vacuum cleaners ever could. That being said, it is possible to overwork your carpet. If your vacuum cleaner has multiple settings, be sure to use it on the correct one. Don’t use the bare floor setting when vacuuming the carpet.

Myth: Natural Cleaners Are The Same As Their Chemical Counterparts
TRUE: Natural cleaning methods are just as effective as their chemical counterparts but may need to be used differently. Some natural cleaning methods need to sit and soak for maximum efficacy. That said, they definitely do the job when tested. For example, white vinegar not only cuts through grease, but has acidic properties that can create an unfavourable environment for mold and bacteria. Those who make the switch to natural cleaning products find that they can remove stains from clothing, scrub tough grease out of dishes and sanitize their kitchens and bathrooms without using dangerous chemicals.

Myth: Baking Soda Can Unclog Drains
TRUE: Surprising but true. When you add equal parts of white vinegar with baking soda, clogged drains beware! Simply sprinkle ½ cup of baking soda down your clogged drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. Cover with a cloth and wait 5 to 10 minutes before flushing with very hot water. Drains should be clear.

Myth: Always Wash Clothes In Cold Water
FALSE: Using cold water to wash our clothes is a great way of saving energy and money on our monthly utility bills. It also keeps clothes looking new and fresh longer. However, sometimes hot water is a must. Using hot water helps to kill bacteria, mold and viruses. So, when washing your undergarments, bed sheets, bathroom towels or anything else that may be filled with germs, it’s a good idea to turn the dial to hot.

 

5 Travel Rip-offs to Avoid

Source: HuffPost

https://i2.wp.com/images.huffingtonpost.com/2015-06-12-1434127361-3670799-HuffPoMain.jpg

Whether it’s relaxing on a Caribbean beach, sightseeing through Europe or road tripping through a national park, travelers shell out money for vacations in hopes that the experience will be worth the expense. Most people plan to splurge a little while on vacation, however, travelers sometimes end up paying more than they have to simply because they don’t know they’re being overcharged. Some of these fees can seem unavoidable, but they don’t have to be. U.S. News spoke with Orbitz Senior Editor Jeanenne Tornatore and Marybeth Bond of The Gutsy Traveler to figure out how to bypass some of the excess expenses.

See: How to Avoid Hidden Fees When Flying Low-Cost Carrier

1. Travel insurance

Travel insurance can be a worthwhile expense it if it gives you peace of mind during your trip. It also comes in handy if your plans are nonrefundable and you have to cancel or cut the trip short. But not all travel insurance policies are created equal. Some plans only protect certain expenses, while others put stipulations on coverage, meaning that if your trip is interrupted, the policy may not cover the cost depending on the reason for cancellation. “People feel like they get ripped off when they purchase it and then the reason they need to cancel may not be covered under their insurance, so I think people need to read the fine print,” Tornatore said.

When it comes to rental car insurance, for instance, you may be forking over money for coverage you’ve already got. Check your current car insurance policy to see if the coverage extends to your rental car. Don’t forget to call your credit card company, too: According to Bond, major credit card companies (including American Express, MasterCard, Discover and Visa) offer protection if you use your card to pay for the rental.

How to avoid it: Depending on your plans, travel insurance may be unnecessary. If it makes sense to opt into the insurance coverage, for example if you’re traveling to a location with limited medical access or if your trip could be affected by a natural disaster, then it’s worth purchasing. But make sure you understand exactly what the policy covers by studying the fine print. If you need help comparing policies or just need a rundown of how this type of insurance works, consider using sites like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.

2. Baggage fees
Unfortunately, baggage fees have become increasingly common since they were introduced in 2008. Since then, airlines have collected more than $21 billion for checked bags. Depending on the airline, you’ll have to pay anywhere from $15 to $75 for your first checked bag and often even more for the second checked bag, plus extra for suitcases that are over a certain weight limit. “You could be paying upward of $100 if that bag is overweight. Those are big fees that people don’t always expect and they’re costs that they don’t budget in,” Tornatore said. An even bigger rip-off comes from discount airlines like Spirit and Frontier, which now charge anywhere from $26 to $100 for carry-on bags.

How to avoid them: Stick to the airlines that still allow free checked bags (one bag for JetBlue, two bags for Southwest) or try to pack light enough to fit all your belongings into a carry-on. Also, consult your frequent flier program — some allow higher status members to check the first bag for free. If you are stuck paying for checked bags or carry-ons on one of the low-cost carriers, make sure you pay those fees online — it’s cheaper than paying at the airport.

See: 15 Ways to Save for Vacation

3. Tourist trap restaurants
Usually, these eateries are “conveniently” located near tourist sites and sell lackluster dishes that aren’t authentic. These restaurants don’t provide a genuine taste of their locale, and since they’re situated close to top tourist attractions they can take advantage of travelers’ rumbling stomachs with overpriced menu items.

How to avoid them: As a rule of thumb, avoid signs that say “authentic,” skip shops that offer a small portion for a large price tag and do a little research before your trip. “Search it on Yelp, not only to see if there are any coupons available or extra savings, but people will tell you if the chef changed a month ago and the food is lousy now,” Bond said.

4. Hotel Wi-Fi
In our digital world, Internet access in hotel rooms may seem like a given. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Hotels charge varying fees, from $10 to up to $30 per day for online access in guest rooms. Some properties lump Internet access into the often inescapable resort fee, which generally costs about $20 per day. If you have to pay for Internet access on a daily basis, using Wi-Fi in your room for a few days can add up, and lead to an unpleasant surprise when you get your final bill.

How to avoid it: In recent years, guests have spoken up about having to pay for Internet, and many hotel chains have listened. For example, Hyatt started offering free Wi-Fi to all guests in February. Other hotel chains offer free in-room Internet access to members of their loyalty programs. Tornatore points to Kimpton as an example: By signing up for its free rewards program, which is as simple as providing your email address, you’ll receive complimentary Internet access anytime you stay at a Kimpton property. Before your next trip, check to see if the hotel participates in one of these programs and sign up to take advantage. Some hotels also offer free Wi-Fi in common areas, such as the lobby or restaurant, so if you’re only interested in checking a few emails or looking up directions then you may be able to avoid paying. If the property you’re staying at doesn’t offer complimentary Internet access, Bond suggested using your own phone to access free Wi-Fi. “Set up a personal hotspot on your smartphone and use your cellular service to access Wi-Fi on other non-cellular devices.”

[Ned’s tip: Le Royal Hotels & Resorts, part of Sir Nadhmi Auchi‘s General Mediterranean Holding Group, offer free wi-fi at all their establishments – and fantastic service too!]

5. Currency exchange booths
If you’re traveling abroad, it’s best to have some cash on hand before you go. The easiest way to avoid being overcharged for currency exchange is to avoid the airport exchange shops. Those airport kiosks often offer poor exchange rates and higher transaction fees. There are multiple ways to get cash before you leave the country, with advanced planning.

How to avoid them: Your home bank will likely offer you the best rate for exchange (and/or no transaction fee at all), but you’ll want to order the currency a few days ahead of time as many banks won’t have it on hand. Some banks allow you to order the foreign cash and have it sent to your home, with a shipping and handling fee.

Instead of carrying a ton of cash around with you while abroad, you can use your credit or debit card normally and use foreign ATMs for any cash you need. (Just make sure to inform your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans, so they don’t think the foreign transactions are fraudulent and freeze your accounts.) Also, check with your bank regarding fees: some charge $5 per withdrawal or fees up to 3 percent for purchases. “I think the key is making sure your credit card doesn’t charge you the international transaction fee,” Tornatore said.

 

About the author: Gwen Shearman is an editor/analyst for the Travel section at U.S. News. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at gshearman@usnews.com

 

 

The 15 Worst Holiday Decisions You Can Make

More essential reading from Thrillist 😀

Sunburn magnet

http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/vacation-disasters-travel-insurance-lost-passports-and-all-inclusive-resorts

If you’re one of the 68% of Americans who actually used their vacation days last year, you know just how important it is to make every ounce of that paid time off count. And while the beauty of a vacation is that you can do whatever the hell you want without judgment, there are some decisions SO poor, so woefully bereft of sense, that no good outcome could ever hope to result from them. These are 15 of those decisions.


Staying at an all-inclusive resort *

Sure, unlimited food and drinks sounds pretty damn fantastic at first, but the maddening realization that you just spent a massive lump sum on bottomless rail liquor and limitless frozen pizza will take the sails out of any vacation. Unless you’re opting for one of these slick resorts, do yourself a favor and skip it.

* Unless it’s one of Sir Nadhmi Auchi’s fabulous Le Royal Hotels & Resorts!  – Ned

Trying to do too much

It’s only natural to wanna justify the cost of your vacation by cramming as many activities and sights as possible into every 24-hour period. After all, you’re only gonna be in Australia once, right?

Wrong. After your third day of nonstop touring, you’ll be wishing you’d penciled in a day of rest at the pool. Trying to squeeze an outback walkabout and a Great Barrier Reef snorkeling session into four days is a great way to enjoy neither activity.

Being a slave to your original itinerary

Even if you plan your trip out right, stubbornly sticking to your original itinerary only ensures that you’ll miss out on the random opportunities that pop up. Factoring in flexibility can be just as important as giving yourself some time to relax, and it can result in some pretty awesome experiences — like catching live music in a dive bar you just so happen to be walking past on your way to the Sagrada Familia.

Not getting travel insurance

Not getting travel insurance

Like all insurance, you pay for travel insurance in the hopes that you won’t need it; that said, you’ve probably already dropped a sizable sum on your trip to Aruba, so why not tack on an extra couple hundred dollars for some peace of mind? Yes, you could take your chances and hope that Hurricane Denzel doesn’t hit when you’re relaxing on the beach, or that your tandem skydive instructor knows what he’s doing, but if the defecation hits the oscillation, you’re out a thousand-dollar vacation. Or a life.

Carrying your passport with you

You’d be surprised how many people still leave the hotel holding the one thing that’ll allow them to return to their home country safely. If you absolutely need to carry your passport for identification purposes, make a photocopy and leave the original in your hotel safe. Seriously, this should be a no-brainer: 160,050 UK passports were either lost or stolen abroad between 2008 and 2013 alone. If you do lose it though, here’s how you get a new one while abroad.

Not bringing these cheap travel accessories

12 travel essentials

For a total cost of less than $100, each of the 12 items above can safeguard you against some easily preventable travel disasters — from emergency bag repair, to nighttime security, to accidental dismemberment. And to top it off, they can all fit into a reasonably sized fanny pack. You should totally get a fanny pack too, by the way.

Overpacking

While yes, it would be terrible if you left your galoshes at home and ended up needing them in Bermuda, consider the possibility that you might be the traveling equivalent of a doomsday prepper. Leave the Wellingtons at home, let your feet get wet, and use the added room in your luggage to bring back a sweet fertility idol or something.