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Posts tagged ‘Travel’

3 Ways Traveling Changed My Life

Panoramic view from Bella Vista Lodge in Costa Rica

Before I ever traveled, one of the things I heard most about the experience is how it will change your whole life. This always intrigued me and was one of the primary reasons I was so interested in doing it. Now that I have become the world traveler I always dreamed of being, I see firsthand the truth of that statement. My adventures around the globe have impacted me in a way I never thought possible and have shaped so much of who I am today. If you are one of those people with the burning desire to travel in your heart, but have yet to take the leap, or are one of those people who feel unsure about traveling, but think you should do it because you feel it will reap some sort of benefit, I hope this post will provide the nudge you need to book that ticket and get out in the world.

You Get More Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Traveling produces plenty of situations where you will feel uncomfortable. You will not understand what is going on. You will not be sure what to do next. You will find yourself in awkward situations rife with miscommunications. You will feel apprehensive about trying something new or going somewhere all by yourself. But, as time goes on, you will get more comfortable with the discomfort and you will power through anyway. This comfort with discomfort will spill over into other areas of your life, and you will find yourself saying ‘’yes’’ to life more. You will find the courage to pursue the things you really want in life. You may still feel scared or apprehensive. You know it will be challenging, but you will feel more confident in going after these things anyway, because you know you can handle the obstacles. Your fear reduces.

Patience Grasshopper

Sheep on the slop

 

I have always been a very impatient person and traveling definitely mellowed me out. Sure, I still have my moments, but for the most part, I have become infinitely more patient as a result of my traveling experiences. Things will constantly happen that will test your patience, from waiting 45 minutes for French fries when you are the only customer in the restaurant to hanging around a bus station for two hours because the online schedule was just completely wrong. Traveling will give you limitless opportunities to practice being more patient, and it is this practice after all that really helps us develop certain character traits. Now, when things are not happening on my timetable, whether I am traveling or in the supermarket in my hometown, I noticed a marked difference in my patience levels. And, with greater patience, come greater peace of mind, and isn’t that what we crave most in life?

Greater Appreciation and Gratitude

Fisherman in Chiloe on their routine

Most of us living in the developed, modern world are pretty ungrateful brats. Not because we are horrible people, but because we grew up in very comfortable circumstances and have never known anything different. We just take all these comforts, conveniences and opportunities for granted. But, if you travel to parts of the world where these things are not givens, you will see your life in a whole different light. All the things we think are problems suddenly shrink dramatically. You see true suffering and hardship. You see people living in ways you cannot imagine. There are people all over the world who wake up every day and simply focus on trying to survive. There is no thought of what they ‘’want.’’ The only thing on their mind is getting what they need to stay alive every day. People breaking their backs in rice fields or walking miles just to get clean water. Once I experienced this firsthand, my view of my own life changed dramatically. Many of my problems do not bother me as much anymore because I have a whole new perspective on them.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about her travel experiences; she recommends visiting Kanetix to learn more about travel insurance in Canada.

Four Beautiful Fall Foliage Tours for Motorcyclists

Foliage photo over the hills sunsetPhoto credit: ForestWander

 

Fall leaves are peaking all over the United States. The brilliant yellows, oranges and reds are in full swing from the Midwest, Central Plains, Northeast and upper Northwest, according to Stormfax.com. Here are peak foliage times for a few favorites:

  • Minnesota, Wisconsin and most of the Midwest peak in mid-October
  • Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and northern Arizona and New Mexico mostly mid- to late-October
  • Northern New England states from late September through mid-October
  • Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, Kentucky Tennessee and the lower New England states through late-October
  • Parts of Oregon and northern California, and a thin belt through northern Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia through early November

Here are a few favorites for motorcyclists:

Skyline Drive, Va.

Photo by Maisnam via Wikimedia Commons

 

This 105-mile stretch of road carves its way through the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. In the fall, the panoramic vistas are simply stunning. The only drawback is the weekend traffic in autumn is typically bumper to bumper. Avoid it by heading to the park early on a weekday, when traffic is typically lighter. Or, look at it this way: Crawling traffic allows you more time to enjoy the scenery. For info about attractions in the area check Skyline Drive.

Tunnel of Trees, Mich.

Photo by ellenm1 via Flickr

 

The beautiful Tunnel of Trees road, which skirts Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline, is a motorcyclist’s dream come true. It’s a narrow, two-lane 22-mile-long road surrounded — as the name implies — by trees that are simply stunning in the fall. This road offers some twists, but the speed limit is low for this pleasure ride, and not one meant to challenge your maneuverability. Start this ride in Harbor Springs, Mich. View the route here

Route 100, Vt.

Photo by Patrick via Wikimedia Commons

 

New England is still considered by many to be the ultimate leaf peeping destination. Mass Audubon reports that more than 1 million tourists descend on the area during the leaf-peeping season, which injects more than $1 billion into the local economy. Motorcycle.com says Vermont’s Route 100 is one of the prettiest roads that typifies all New England has to offer — colorful leaves, picturesque farmland and rolling hills. This 200-mile road stretches from roughly Wilmington, Vt. to almost the Canadian border. Take a virtual tour here.

Pig Trail Scenic Byway, Ozark, Ark.

Photo by mabecerra via Flickr

 

Located in the heavily wooded Boston Mountains in the Ozarks, the 19-mile Pig Trail is one of the best rides in the South. In some sections, you will find yourself riding through a tunnel of brilliantly colored foliage. Legend has it the trail got its name in honor of University of Arkansas Razorback fans and students. Read more here.

Before You Head Out

  • StormFax has a list of fall foliage hotlines to help you plan your trip.
  • Book hotels as soon as you can; they fill up quickly during the fall. Use an app like TripAdvisor for alerts about sudden weather changes.
  • We know you know this, but give your bike a once-over before hitting the highway. You can find high quality, cheap motorcycle tires that won’t take a big bite from your travel budget.
  • Motorcycle Tours offers guide-led tours, if you’d prefer to ride with an experience foliage fan.
  • Check the weather and be prepared for severe temperature changes, especially in mountainous areas.

10 Reasons To Visit Croatia Before It’s Over Run With Tourists

Plitvice Blue and green waterfall in CroatiaPhoto credit: paradise under Creative Common license

One of the hottest spots in Europe today is Croatia and Aussies are flocking to this amazing country on the Adriatic Sea like seagulls to a chip!  And with good reason too. With heaps of attractions, an incredible climate and ancient European history, this is one county that should not be missed on your backpacker adventure or holiday.

This may be a small country but they pack a lot of fun in one little area, so get warmed up because there’s a lot to see and do.  Here are just some of the great adventures in store.

The Lucice bay near Milna, Brac, CroatiaLicense: Creative Commons image source

1. Nightlife

Ok, let’s ask the obvious question first.  What’s the scene like?  Well, Croatia is a party nation and known for its excellent handcrafted beer – and who doesn’t love a good beer, right?  There are loads of bars and clubs spinning the tunes to the small hours throughout the country.  For a more mellow time be sure to check out the trendy pubs within the ancient old city of Dubrovnik overlooking the stunning coastline and sample a local lager.

Dancing at the bar in Croatia

2. Café Culture

Croatia has a Mediterranean feel so it’s no surprise that you’ll find great outdoor cafes and corner bistros with the best coffee to kick start you in the morning or any time of day.  Check out Zagreb’s British Square and weekend markets on your way to the close by Eliscaffe for some of the best coffee anywhere.

3. Walls of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik The Pearl of the Adriatic

Photo Copyright: © UNESCO Author: Francesco Bandarin

Dubrovnik fortress ancient walls

The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, situated on the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration program co-ordinated by UNESCO. Centuries old, the walls of Dubrovnik will take you back to the Middle Ages.  Complete with towers and forts, the stone walls encircle the old city and stretch for almost two kilometers.  Once used as a defensive fortification, the walls today are one of Croatia’s biggest and most important historic sites.

4. Hvar City and the Paklinski Islands

Hvar has one of the most beautiful harbors in all of Europe.  The gorgeous and historic little harbor contains the nearby Paklinski Islands just off shore which are popular for swimming, diving, boating and fishing.  This is the perfect place for a Mediterranean style holiday.  The sea is visible from the city square and the all night club scene in Hvar City are a big hit with international visitors.

Hvar town plaza by the docking station

5. Pula Arena

Even if you’re not a lover of history, you can’t help but be blown away by the two thousand year old Pula Arena.  This incredible stone amphitheater of Roman architecture is one of the best preserved ancient sites in all of Europe.  The site was used for blood thirsty gladiator and convict combats up to the fifth century.

6. Temple of Augustus

Candles and ancient statue on Croatian islandThis exceptionally preserved Roman temple was dedicated to the first Roman emperor, Augustus and is over two thousand years old.  That’s pretty amazing when you consider that the oldest buildings in Australia are maybe 150 years old.  Located in Pula not far from the gladiator arena, it’s the perfect chance to check out the rare Roman structures that still stand.

7. Diocletian’s Palace

This stunning walled palace on the AdriaticCoast is in the heart of Split and contains the city’s most historic sites.  These centuries old Roman structures still stand strong and incredibly many are used for shops and homes.  Be sure not to miss this centuries old site because it’s one of the most treasured places in the entire Adriatic and Mediterranean region.

8. Zlatni Rat 

Zlatny Rat beach on the island of Brac

Wow, if you’re a beach lover you’ll have to make your way to the Zlatni Rat beach on the southern coast of the island of Brac.  If you’re an adventure lover this is a great place for windsurfing and swimming.  To entice you further, several of the western areas are clothing optional.  Definitely a fun place to chill and enjoy the blue Adriatic waters.

9. Krka National Park

What adventurous backpacker wouldn’t love a good hike?  Located in the Krka National Park just north of the city of Sibenik, the Krka River is 73km long and has some amazing river path hiking trails.  The river is known for its many waterfalls and pristine forest lined banks as well as two historic monasteries nearby.

10. Sipan Island

A tiny street on a Croatian islandWhen the history, clubbing and nightlife have gotten the best of you, it’s time to head to the islands with your new found Croatian mates.  Sipan, located just 17km northwest of Dubrovnik is the largest of the Elaphiti Islands with a population of less than 800.  The stunning village with its stone facades, quaint harbor and amazing coastline offer a relaxing getaway among palm trees and lush gardens.  Ahh, time to chill with some of that famous Croatian beer and wine!

As you can see, there is so much to do in this pint size country, but what they lack in size they make up for in substance.

Town by the sea in Croatia

If you’re up for an adventure this country is a great backpacker destination, easy to navigate, reasonably cheap and one that’s still slightly under the radar of most mainstream tourists – but not for long so enjoy while you can and head to Student Flights for more travel advice on Croatia.

Author: Todd Sturm+ enjoys being out in nature and uncovering local history when traveling.  Whether it’s at home or when traveling, Todd enjoys the simple pleasures – a glass of wine, good bread and cheese and great company in a beautiful historic setting – al fresco of course!  

5 Of The Biggest And Best Beer Festivals From Around The World

Many countries will have a national drink and many of them will be alcoholic. When it comes to beer it is often the Germans and Danes who first spring to mind, but there are plenty of other countries who both produce and celebrate beer.

Hamburg Beer Festival

Hamburg holds their beer festival for a month through most of November and a small part of December. As well as the beer there is a fun fair so it is the sort of place that children can attend at least early on in the evening. There is live music and the rides are thrilling though a bit risky if ridden AFTER time spent in the beer tent. If the tent is full there are plenty of other bars and pubs although many are on the Reeperbahn. This is the area many people decamp to once the Dom closes for the night.

Norfolk

The main festival is held in the summer and the big advantage here is that the people who are serving are able to give information about the beer. The event takes place in Town Point Park in Downtown Norfolk and it is a good idea to book in advance as it is cheaper than paying on the door. Fortunately there is food available so you will not be beer testing on an empty stomach and it is worth paying extra to get a pitcher as the queues can be long and the time in line will be wasted if you can’t have a drink.

CAMRA, London, Action

CAMRA is an organization that is loyal to real ale – the acronym is the Campaign for Real Ale and the beer festivals they hold will have products not found in many supermarkets. Rather than just one large festival they tend to have smaller gatherings across the United Kingdom and attendees can try the likes of Alligator Ale, Blue Sky Drinking and Black Chocolate Stout. There is a main festival that is held in August and is in London and this is where all the brewers gather to find out who has won the Real Ale of The Year Award..

Mondial de la Biere Montreal

Canada hosts a number of beer festivals and this is the biggest. It does not just showcase Canadian beer but attracts brewers from around the world. You can attend workshops that are held by staff from the beer school and while some products are just for restaurants, many will be for universal sale.

Bitter and Twisted International Boutique Beer Festival – Maitland

This is the one festival where you start the evening in jail – or at least a former maximum security jail. There is food provided as well as entertainment and with 50 beers from around the world, it can end up being a long night inside.

Beer festivals are meant to be places where people sample beers and as long as this happens in moderation it is fine. It will be best to find out the strength of each one you test as even a few small samples can add up and leaving you a little worse for wear the next day.

This article is authored by Patrick Armstrong, a travel blogger. He shares travel tips and advice through his posts. He says you can know more about the recent events in Norfolk, VA by visiting their website.

The Minimalist Guide To Your Next Family Getaway

happy family playing with dog on beach

Ah, family vacations and the happiness and tribulations that come with them. As parents, we work extra hard the whole year round to provide for our families and of course, indulge in little luxuries. As much as we would like our family vacations to be entirely relaxing, we all know that it’s going to be a major effort doing that. Dealing with travel agents, figuring out which places have child friendly accommodation and trying to predict the weather can all take a toll on us. I asked several seasoned jet-setting parents and got some valuable traveling advice. Here they are.

On Packing

Parents tend to over think and in the process, over pack. You’re probably thinking, “But anything can happen! I think it’s a pretty good idea to bring along this and that.” Well, think of it this way. This and that can add up to a hefty extra luggage fee or an aching back.

  1. Bring travel-friendly gadgets along for entertainment. Kids generally get bored during a long road trip or flights. A tablet or an MP3 player can keep kids of all ages occupied. Make sure that you installed kid-oriented apps to keep them busy and stop them from asking, “Are we there yet?
  2. Pack a first-aid kit that can fit in your handbag. Use a flat plastic container to put essentials like adhesive bandages, adult and children’s paracetamol, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment and sting reliever.
  3. Instead of lugging around a big nursery bag, pack a change of your child’s clothes in a large Ziploc bag and place it inside your handbag.
  4. Keep your activities in mind when packing clothes. If you’re planning for a farm stay in Barrington Tops, you won’t need your formal evening clothes obviously. Bring clothes you can easily wash too, especially if you plan to stay longer.
  5. Remember that carry-on bags are supposed to make travelling convenient and hassle-free, not filled with unnecessary things that you think you absolutely must bring.

With these tips in mind, get rid of those “what ifs” that can weigh you down significantly. Pack only what matters the most.

On Traveling and Planning Activities

Traveling in a group is never easy, so is planning and scheduling the activities for everyone. It’s going to be extra challenging if you have a multi-generation group (grandparents, you and the children), plus pets. How exactly are you going to do this? Read on and find out.

Pet Friendly Accommodation NSWPhoto source: Image author owned
  1. Search for a pet-friendly accommodation. Most hotels and resorts do not allow pets and it’s sad for pet owners who can’t leave their furry friends behind.
  2. Schedule free time. Anyone can do anything they want to do during that time and it’s an absolute must to keep your sanity, given the different levels of interests. However, it’s also necessary that no one should go off alone to be on the safe side.
  3. Do your homework. Unplanned trips are fun, but when you’re going on a trip with kids and pets, it’s going to be a disaster. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to search far for information on how to get to your destination or what to expect there.
  4. Just enjoy. Accept the fact that anything can happen and it’s usually out of our control. From heavy rains to delayed flights, those situations can certainly dampen our day. Cheer up! Most accommodations have DVDs and Wi-Fi. Watch a movie or brag on Facebook about your family getaway.

Conclusion

Family with kids on vacation

You planned a family vacation because you want to make memories, catch up with your grown kids or reconnect with your parents. If you feel that things are getting a little nasty, remind yourself to focus on your goals. If you have the right attitude (yes, I’m talking about letting go of negative thoughts), you’ll definitely be reaping the rewards.

Debraby Debra Wright who is a creative and innovative blogger and online marketing specialist. She uses her wordsmith skills to share her ideas, thoughts, and tips to other people about topics that fascinate her, such as giving tips when traveling with kids. Follow Debra on twitter @debrawrites

Best Advice For Women Traveling Alone

Woman traveling aloneIt has to be said that any woman wanting to travel on her own is certainly entitled to do so and will probably be already well-aware of the pitfalls and perils that lie in wait out on the open road.

A woman on her own is twice as likely to get approached in a bar and even a restaurant so in order to ensure traveling isn’t an ordeal then paying heed to a few tried and tested tips is obviously best practice.

Below are just 5 pearls of wisdom that will no doubt stand any solo female traveler in good stead and all that’s left to say is best of luck and fortune favors the brave – you can do this!

Carry an alarm

There’s no need to beat around the bush and if you’re packing the sort of alarm that’s going to ring out and put the fear of god into an attacker then do not be afraid to carry and use it. Best advice is to carry an alarm that still transmits noise even when dropped and carrying 2 is certainly a sensible option. Stick to crowded areas and try to avoid secluded, shady spots off the beaten track but if you just have to then make sure your alarm is working, in reach and carried at all times.

Learn the lingo

It may sound like your being pestered or even that your getting some abuse but if you don’t know what a local is saying then you may not be able to react until it’s too late. Get yourself a phrase book and spend some time reading over likely gestures and shouts that may just be related to cultural nuances. With internet learning a foreign language became so much easier. Also, in some countries knowing religious and cultural traditions expected of women will give you enough knowledge to adapt and fit in whilst respecting the norms and rules.

Read the signs

Putting yourself into a situation where you’re not sure of what’s going on is definitely not advisable if you’re a woman traveling alone. Being able to read body language and understand when a situation is starting to turn uncomfortable is exactly what you should teach yourself to do if you want to stay safe and getting a book on non-verbal communication is a great idea before you set off on your travels.

Play it safe

If in doubt, get right out and from avoiding too much alcohol to going to places that are far away from your hostel or hotel, if you don’t feel safe then do something about it. Traveling alone as a woman is one of the most liberating and exciting things that you can do just make sure you play it safe to ensure your trip is truly memorable for all the right reasons. Keep in touch with those back home and always make sure you keep your wits and alarm about you at all times.

Stay with a group

Being comfortable within your own skin is an amazing feeling and if you like to simply read, photograph or walk on your own then you’re going to have an amazing time away from home. Of course, just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean that you can’t meet anyone else and from couples to other single female travelers, there are plenty of positives about making new friends. Staying with a group or even undertaking an organized small group tour are both great for feeling secure and meeting new people but with the added bonus of if you get bored you can always escape and continue to travel as you wish.

Chris has been traveling on his own many times and has been truly encouraged and motivated by the strength and the happiness that comes from meeting a female counterpart.

How Lost Luggage Is Traced

Travelers at the Airport rolling luggageBaggage check-in is, inescapably, one of the most time-consuming and frustrating elements of taking any flight. No matter how hard airline staff and those of other carriers work to streamline the process, it’s impossible to eliminate the manual element of the passenger having to hand the items which they wish to be placed in the hold of their plane to a member of their airline’s staff, and for it to be logged into their computer system and given a unique code which, in theory, ensures that it travels on the right plane, and is ready to be collected at its destination when the passenger arrives.

Items getting lost in transit happens relatively rarely. For example, according to the American Department of Transportation, 7.25 bags in every 1,000 didn’t reach their destination at the first attempt in the first nine months of 2007. Worldwide, that figure is more than double that, at 18 bags per 1,000 not getting through first time, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

With nearly two-thirds of those losses occurring when a passenger’s route involves changing between planes, it’s clear that this – and specifically, a lack of time between connecting flights – is the single biggest contributory factor to luggage going astray.

Why Do Bags Go Missing?

Transfers account for the greatest proportion of luggage mishandling.

  • Misconnected at flight transfer point (52%)
  • Failure to load (16%)
  • Ticketing error/bag switch/security/other (13%)
  • Loading/offloading error (7%)
  • Airport/customs/weather/space-weight restriction (6%)
  • Arrival station mishandling (3%)
  • Tagging error (3%)

Automated ticketing systems for baggage

Automated ticketing systems for bagging, which see a unique ticket being printed out and attached to each bag as it is checked in, should, in theory, go a long way towards eliminating lost baggage. And the truth is that they certainly play a role in tracing a bag which ends up on the wrong carousel or trolley on its journey. One way of trying to eliminate this is to ensure that the tag on your bag contains the details of your correct flight. Where staff from the airline operating your flight also hand the check-in procedure there is less risk of this happening, but at some airports this is in the hands of their own staff, so it pays to be wary in these instances.

Multiple tracing factors for luggage

Lost luggage is most usually traced through a combination of the information contained on the tag issued when it is checked in, and the unfortunate passenger’s description of it as given to the airline. This is why you will see many seasoned travelers toting luggage which has clearly seen better days. They know that, to begin with, their bags will be less attractive to anyone who might be tempted to make it ‘go missing’ in transit, but also that it is more easily spotted by them in the hurly-burly of baggage reclaim areas.

So any airline or bagging handling company’s attempt to trace a lost item will be helped greatly if they are given an accurate and detailed description of the bag or case, because if computer systems have failed to turn up the missing bag, then it will be down to the initiative and observation of the airline and baggage handling company’s staff themselves to locate it.

Human elements

Checking-in baggage is, to a large degree, a mechanical process, but with human elements which also add to the risk of something going wrong. Recovering lost luggage is similar, but in reverse, with the electronic records issued when a bag is checked in being examined manually to try to find clues as to where the item has finished up.

So there are a few handy pieces of advice which all travellers should follow to minimise the risk of their bags going astray. Foremost is to place a tag with your name, address and phone number inside every piece of luggage, as this will help in an instance when a luggage tag has gone missing. Also, airport x-ray machines can easily detect items which look suspicious, but aren’t at all, such as an alarm clock. Finally, you can never have too many labels or other unique identifiers on your luggage, and the more you can tell the airline and baggage handling staff about if your case goes missing, the better chance they have of ensuring a happy reunion.

Featured images:

Hayley Spring is a freelance travel blogger who highly recommends Left Baggage for sourcing and tracking any lost or delayed luggage

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