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Posts tagged ‘Traveling’

Driving In Europe On Vacation – Why You Need To Prepare!

European map satellite view

For many Americans, a chance to visit Europe is the vacation of a lifetime. Whether you want to check out London with its historic buildings and unique culture, relax in the sunshine in Greece, explore Italy or maybe even see where your ancestors came from, there are loads of reasons to make the trip across the Atlantic, and it has never been cheaper, either! Of course, once you get to your country of choice, you are probably going to already have a lot of things in mind to see and do, and while compared with the US, places like England and Sweden may look tiny on a map, when you’re there things suddenly seem a lot further away than you may have imagined! For this reason, most people prefer to hire a car, and while this is generally an option for most American license holders in accordance with the laws in the country you are visiting (you may have to be over 25 or have a certain number of years’ driving experience), this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll find it easy on the roads.

Here are some reasons to prepare before you attempt driving anywhere in Europe for the first time:

Road Signs Can Be Baffling

Yield sign in Europe

While Europe is united, it is by no means standardized when it comes to road signs. This means if you are familiar with how the colors and symbols work in Germany, things will all change should you cross a border. It doesn’t take long to read up on what the traffic safety controls in the country you are going to look like, and it really pays to do this so you can understand when you are reaching a junction and things like what color sign points to a major road and what will take you down a scary country track. You should also work out the conversion ratio between miles and kilometers, because with the exception of Britain, everywhere in Europe displays distances and speed limits in the metric system. Of course, while in Britain the signs may all be in English and tell you things in familiar mile measurements, here you’ll be driving on the opposite side of the road, which isn’t really something you can prepare for in advance but is worth thinking about!

Touring

motorcycle-tours-174956_150Many people who visit Europe plan to go through more than one country (another reason why understanding the different traffic control equipment used in different places you’ll visit is important), and while this can be easy to do, you may find that there are places where you can cross borders without even being aware you have done it right away! If you are planning to tour, really research your route so you know at what point you might leave Germany and enter the Netherlands, for example, and stick to your plan so you don’t end up straying between countries where you didn’t intend to.

Driving in Europe can vary between being remarkably easy and pleasant to downright terrifying depending on where you are and how far off the beaten track you venture, so read up and plan ahead as much as you can!

Travis Finn, the author of this article, works with, Bo Phillips, leading providers of work-zone safety equipment. He is fascinated by Astronomy and often visits the planetarium to observe the movement of the stars.

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.

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.

Don’t Serve To Travel, Travel To Serve

The purpose of travel

Travel Road going for better purpose

We travel for different purposes – business, pleasure, educational, and many other reasons. However not many have gone to travel for a more “meaningful” purpose; and I mean, in a philanthropic way. More than just meeting people, visiting other places, tasting different food, understanding varied cultures, or learning new things; to travel with a cause to serve creates a different spark. Leaving a piece of yourself by way of sharing what you have to people of different races and cultures makes even your shortest trips meaningful and memorable.

A willing and compassionate heart, not an impressive bank account, is what it takes to be an accomplished philanthropic traveller. Even a penniless wanderer like Alexander Supertramp managed to share something out of nothing, by sharing his thoughts, learnings and skills and being compassionate to people he met along his solitary sojourn. Philanthropy doesn’t entail money, for money isn’t the only thing we have to give. Sharing means giving people what you have or a part of what you have, tangible or not, however big or small, without condition, for the purpose of helping them live better lives.

Anyone with a sound mind and body is capable of sharing himself to the world. In this era of high technology, one can sit in a corner and explore places as far as beyond the outer space, at least virtually. The need for help and the act of helping and reaching out to those in need can be established virtually.

Yet, for the passionate adventurer, there’s still no match for actual and real-life journeys and encounters. As a self-dependent travel junkie who has travelled mostly for socio-cultural reasons, I deliberately and joyfully got myself into mashing up travelling and participating in socio-cultural causes as one epic hobby, with much determination despite a decrepit wallet.

Pure volunteerism: more than just living is living to serve

“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” a real, life-long volunteer and war hero once said.

As a volunteer for years, I couldn’t agree more. Yes, it takes courage and compassion to be doing something for others, without claim to financial or any material compensation. Sometimes you even have to dig out your own cash to give to those you’re helping, or worse, sacrifice your job. A volunteer must be ready to make sacrifices to live up to his cause.

The first time I got into voluntary service by joining the Red Cross Youth Sector, I thought it would be a one-time thing and just another point to my extracurricular credits in school. However, I felt an insatiable sense of fullfilment that got me participating in future outreach activities, fund-raising events, basic life support trainings, seminars and conventions that brought me to places and led me to meet inspiring people and experience life-changing events.

After years of battling the ups and downs of being a volunteer who loves travel and adventure, I have come to affirm that:

“I don’t serve to travel, I travel to serve.”

“To whom much is given, much is expected.”

In a societal sense, we can take this biblical quote to mean that the more skills and possessions we have, the more we should be contributing for better changes and improvements in various aspects and areas of our society.

If you are a talented artist who’s also fond of traveling, why not travel and at the same time use your skills to spread or promote a good cause? Going on week-long volunteer holidays that let you share your artistic skills to people in remote locations will be worth your time, effort and money. Being good at something is not for the superficial purpose of showing off. It’s better and much more fulfilling to attach a deeper purpose to any skill you’re good at and share it to inspire people around the world.

There’s this person I personally know who loves to travel and tries to use the many skills she’s gifted with to take on social responsibilities. As an aspiring musician, writer and painter, she actively participates in benefit concerts and health and environmental programs, totally pro bono. She travels to perform in benefit theatrical shows even if it meant canceling professional stints. As she does short volunteer work overseas, her motivation is the uplifting fullfilment she gets as a volunteer. Being one of those who have experienced abuse in their childhood, she continues to be an advocate of the usage of music and the arts as tools to inspire the youth and empower them to effect better changes in our society.

To travel with a cause is to give value to humanity and to one’s self

The more you do unconditional service for others, the more you see yourself in a better light. As we help others, we also help ourselves in aspects concerning self-esteem, self-respect, emotional awareness and mental growth. As travellers, the meaningful volunteer holidays we spend, our intercontinental hopping and interracial acquaintances are building blocks of bridges in the unending journey of bettering ourselves.

Here’s a constant reminder to all who travel for humanitarian causes: “Keep doing what you’re doing, and see the world differently, in a good way. Continue your selfless acts like humanity depends on it, even if your deeds remain unsung. The value you give to your fellows will come back to you a thousandfold.”

DebraBy Debra Wright

Debra Wright is a creative online writer who supplies cyberspace with interesting and informative write-ups about her favorite topics including volunteer travel. A wide reader and ardent web surfer, she believes she can do anything as long as she has an Internet connection.

Five Good Reasons to Travel to the Cultural Heart of Ireland

People on bench by the waterfront in Galway, Ireland

Ireland’s Cultural Heart, Galway, is really a city worth traveling to. This city isn’t just a great location for stag and hen parties as it truly has so much to offer its visitors. Here are five of the reasons why travelers should visit this city that happens to be the sixth most populous city in the Emerald Isle.

As a cultural Mecca, anyone that wishes to know exactly what Irish culture is all about should definitely visit Galway. This city is known as the home of a number of traditional or folk artists like Dolores Keane. What’s more, this city hosts a lot of festivals that are truly worth going to.

The city isn’t just a great place to see and hear traditional Irish music, dances, and language. Classical music lovers will also have a great time in this city during the summer season. Since 1994, Galway Cathedral Recitals are held from July to August featuring an international series of concerts.

Fresh Seafood

Oysters plate in Galway Restaurant

Another reason for travelers to go to Galway would be the fact that there is always fresh seafood to be had. Those that love clams, oysters, crabs, shrimps, and fish can easily have a feast in this town. More importantly, they can easily get those fresh from the markets in this city.

Having an awesome gastronomic experience is a treat for anyone that loves to eat. Anyone visiting Galway can get that.

Restaurants

Restaurant scene in Galway, Ireland Not a lot of people know that this city has a lot of good restaurants as well. That means, visitors in this city can get a good taste of all that fresh fish and seafood. Irish cuisine is quite distinctive too and this is one of the best Irish cities to get some of that.

Aside from Irish cuisine, there are also restaurants that feature international cuisine. Expect to see a number of Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, and Spanish restaurants.

Pubs

McSwiggans Bar & Restaurant Galway

Pubs in Galway are more than just places to grab a pint of Irish beer or eat an affordable meal. These are the best places to meet and greet locals and other tourists. What’s more, most pubs also turn into music venues when the evening comes. For those that wish to have an evening of live entertainment, make sure to check out who’s playing at certain pubs.

Aside from traditional Irish music, there are also pubs that feature rock, pop, jazz, and other musical genres. There are a lot of pubs in this city which is why it has become a popular stag and hen party location. A pub crawling experience is a must for those that enjoy the nightlife.

Festivals and Events

Street scene in Galway

This city is known as Ireland’s Cultural Heart partly because of its numerous festivals each year. One of the most notable festivals that shouldn’t be missed would be the Galway Arts Festival which takes place every July.

In addition to annual festivals, this city is also known for having 51 event venues. Some of those are even multiple event venues. That will include visual arts galleries and other concert venues.

Medieval Structures

There have been settlements in this city since the 11th century when the King of Connacht built Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe. That is also the reason why there are a good number of medieval structures that can still be seen today in this city.

Some places of interest worth checking out include Lynch’s Castle, the Church of Ireland St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, Spanish Arch, The Hall of the Red Earl, the remains of Claddagh and Menlo Castle. Those are just some of the spots worth seeing in the city.

Now, those are just five good reasons to visit Galway. Don’t just go to Galway. Stay for a while and make sure to experience everything that this Irish city has to offer.

This article was contributed by Sabrina Mable who is an author and recognized authority on planning hen parties. She currently works for http://www.Henit.ie and specializes in creating hen party packages for fun and memorable hen parties in Ireland. She has succumbed and joined the world of social media. Follow her on Twitter.

Little Known Ways to Spend Family Holidays

Active families need active holidays

The sunny summer weather presents tons of opportunities for creative getaways that combine exotic locations and calorie-burning excursions. If you and your family are an active bunch, then lounging in a beach chair just won’t do. Instead, pack your trainers or hiking boots and jet off to more exciting destinations. Coming up short on ideas?

Check out some of these top active family holiday options:

Alpine Adventure Holiday

Cool crisp mountain air, villages straight out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, and gorgeous landscapes are just a sliver of what is waiting for you in the Alps. Though most associate this great European mountain range with winter holidays, it is just as appealing in the summer months. The French Alps in particular are home to several mountain biking and adventure sport havens.

The alp chalet during the summer time

Winter chalets are transformed into lovely summertime residences where families can relax in between cycling, hiking and horse riding excursions. France alone has hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres of pristine mountain roads that offer incredible views. You can choose to go it alone or take a tour on a bicycle, on foot or on a horse. Tours feature everything from beautiful Alpine landscapes to idyllic villages seemingly untouched by time. To enjoy the best of the Alps in the summertime, we recommend that you head to popular destinations like Morzine, Les Gets or Alpe d’Huez, where you’ll be spoilt for choice for luxury chalets, delicious food and lots of sunshine.

Underwater Adventures in the Red Sea

Looking for all the luxury of an all-inclusive holiday with a touch of excitement and adrenaline? Look no further than Egypt’s Red Sea resort areas. The shoreline is lined with all-inclusive 4* and 5* star resorts offering all the amenities you could imagine and then some. This is especially convenient for families with younger children, as these resorts tend to have babysitting and play facilities catered especially to kids. The best part about a Red Sea holiday is, naturally, the sea! Octopus in Red SeaWarm, crystal clear and full of amazing coral reef habitats, the Red Sea offers some of the best snorkelling and diving sites in the world. Many spots are just a few hundred metres from the shore and are full of colourful fish and corals. On land, you’ll also find yourself within striking distance from amazing cultural destinations like Petra in Jordan, Jerusalem and Luxor. Your best bets for an activity-filled Red Sea holiday are in resort towns like Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada.

African Safari

 

A trip to Africa combines adventure, activity and amazing wildlife all into one. South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Kruger National Park are best suited for family holidays. If you’re travelling with younger children (under 12), the Eastern Cape in particular is ideal. Consisting of lush green rolling hills and beautiful plains, the Eastern Cape is home to ‘The Big 5’ (elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards and rhinos). Giving your family the opportunity to see these amazing creatures in their natural environment makes for an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening holiday. There are plenty of great safari-themed hotel and accommodation options available in both the Eastern Cape and Kruger National Park. Each day brings another opportunity to set out onto the beautiful African plains to view animals up close. There will also be plenty of time for you and your family to learn about the area’s history and native culture.

Families who enjoy activities and adventures are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a summer holiday. Whether it’s wildlife, culture or a pure adrenaline rush you’re after, there’s something out there for you. The important thing to keep in mind when booking a holiday for yourself and your whole family is to make sure you address the needs of everyone. As a general rule, it’s best to pick a versatile holiday destination that includes multiple activities that all family members can enjoy. In the end, remember that a summer family holiday is all about having fun and spending quality time with your loved ones. Whatever you end up choosing, you’ll be sure to end up forging lifelong memories together.

Featured images:

Mikey D is a freelance writer, who enjoys acctivity holidays from mountain biking to kayaking.

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