Broadening the mind: Amazing Locations You Wouldn’t Have Thought To Visit

If you haven’t travelled much and still have many places that you would like to visit in the world then its all very well and good to head off on the well beaten tourist tracks. One great thing about doing this is that a lot of the infrastructure is already in place, so you don’t need to invent the wheel when you go there. But if you really want to excite your sense of adventure and try something different why not go somewhere that you would never have thought to visit, and broaden the mind in the process? Here are 5 places you might not have thought to visit.

Moldova

Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine and while it is a relatively poor nation, it is home to some of the best vineyards in Europe. The country is one of many smaller countries that broke away and became independent after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is named after the Moldova River that runs through the country and is a great place to visit and take in some of its unique culture, and of course, sample some of their delicious wines.

Solomon Islands

While the Solomon Islands were once a wartorn country, they have now dispensed with much of their war mongering in favour of enjoying the many natural beauties of the area. With its waterfalls, sunny beaches and volcanoes it is a great place to step off the beaten track and experience the culture of the country.

Antarctica

Heading towards one of the coldest places in the world might not seem like the greatest idea for those who generally holiday in the sand and sun, but Antarctica is one place that everyone should experience, at least once. While it is mostly made up of ice there are a large number of brave animals that live in the area and visitors travel regularly to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the place.

Georgia

Georgia is another smaller country that broke away during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and while it is a small place it is home to some interesting culture. The peoples mostly live on locally grown foods which include eggplant, walnuts, and pomegranates which form a large part of their industry. This country is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for something a little bit different.

Majuli

Majuli is a large river island located in the Brahmaputra River in India. As the river has grown the land of which forms the island has shrunk, and it is home to the Assamese culture. Its main industry is with its agriculture of which its hundreds of different rice varieties are grown without the use of fertilisers and pesticides. With over 140 villages and a population of over 150,000, there is a rich culture that has developed over centuries, so this is definitely worth a trip to if you are planning on visiting India. Check out www.cruiseabout.com.au/ for info about trips to the area.

My Top 5 Tips For Holidaying In A Motorhome

As people are still going through financial difficulties, more and more are looking to the UK for having holidays rather than somewhere abroad.  One of the most popular ways for people to have a UK based holiday is with a motorhome.  If that is the type of holiday you are considering and you are new to motorhome holidays then the first thing you need to sort is insurance, such as the kind offered by The Caravan Club.  In the following article I will give you 5 other tips for having a great motorhome holiday.

Motorhomes Are Ideal For Exploring

The great thing about a motorhome is that it is a way of having home comforts away from home.  The best way is to visit many different places rather than just stopping at one place, then you will get the best out of your time on the road and in the motorhome.

Plan Your Holiday

It may seem obvious, but many people just head out on the road without actually knowing where they are going.  Although this can be an exciting way to travel, it will be harder for you to find a pitching spot if you don’t plan ahead.  It is much better to plan out the places you intend on visiting and book pitches in campsites there so you won’t get turned away if you just turn up out of the blue.  http://www.uk-sites.com/motorhomes.html is a very helpful link that will help you to do this effectively.

Don’t Pack Too Much Stuff

It is important to remember that the majority of motorhomes have very limited storage space, so don’t pack too much clothes or other stuff, so that you still have space to live comfortably.  Another aspect of packing that you need to bear in mind is the fact that motorhome fridges and freezers tend to be very small, so only buy enough food for a couple of days and re-stock as and when you need.

Make Sure You Pack Entertainment

While the point of motorhome holidays is to get out there and explore the world around you, there will be times when you need to entertain yourselves or children, if you have any.  I would recommend DVD players, iPod’s (or other MP3 Players and plenty of board games.)

Be Aware Of The Size

Motorhomes are designed so that with only a little bit of practice, most competent drivers can handle driving them.  However, it is important to remain aware of the difference in weight and size compared to anormal car.  Always slow down and break much earlier than you would normally and be extra careful when you take corners.

There are many other things that you should do and shouldn’t do when you go on holiday in a motorhome, though the above is enough to give you something to work with.  Obviously the biggest and most important piece of advice I could give you is to go into it with an open mind and have a really great time.

Snowboarding 101: Intuitive Tips on Becoming a Snowboarder

It’s the dead of winter; you can either hibernate and shut out the world or take advantage of the elements and get out there and learn how to be cold. By learning to embrace the cold, you can do a lot more and liven what is an otherwise gloomy season. The latest craze in snowboarding has not only started new trends in winter sports, but it is also becoming a cheap way to enjoy the wintertime.

Before you hit the slopes, there are a few basics that you need to know that will better prepare you for what lies ahead. Learning to snowboard is no easy feat. Getting down the slopes completely on your feet is challenging enough, let alone learning how to jump and flip while doing it. It can be rather tempting to just get on a lift and go feet first down the hill. The thrill and excitement of the sport can often get ahead of us and lead us to common snowboarding mistakes. Getting the basics down first will make it easier to learn, and more exciting to try new things.

1. Dress the Part. Half the challenge of learning to snowboard is dressing the part. You have to be prepared to fall and to get snow in your pants. But knowing how to prevent that with the right type of snow pants, or knowing ski jacket basics will save you a lot of discomfort (being wet and cold while on the slopes makes for a really long day) in the long run.

2. It’s all Downhill from there. So now you are dressed properly for snowboarding. The next step is getting down the hill. While the basic skill of snowboarding is balancing on the board and getting down the hill, once you get that down you can easily start to get a feel for how the board maneuvers and use that to find a center of gravity. The center of gravity becomes a big factor in gaining the confidence to hit the air.

3. Up, up, and away. Mastering the jumps and learning tricks comes down to confidence and trust. You have to be comfortable enough with your own abilities to not only get air under you, but also land safely. This is much easier said than done, but simply trust yourself and let go of any hesitations and the rest will follow.

4. Go with the flow. Learning to snowboard, learning to jump, and learning to do tricks should be natural. You have to follow the slope, follow your board, and become intuitive with the motion of where gravity is taking you. Like a boat, your body won’t turn right away. When you twist your torso in the direction you want to go, your board will follow. Use this mentality when starting to learn tricks and jumps. Go with the flow of the snow, not your mind.

Snowboarding is a mental sport. Not only do you have to concentrate on the next move, but you have to concentrate on not letting that direct your movement. The basics of snowboarding come down to dressing the part, talking yourself up from move to move, and letting yourself go. Once you develop the intuition to know what is coming, you are more prepared to take on the challenges that lie ahead.

Image Source: sports.yahoo.com

Sochi 2014: The Dreams and Challenges of Being an Olympic Spectator

The Winter Olympics has gone through a lot of growth, adding sports and events that cater to the modern world. Particularly, the newest additions have been in snowboarding events. The sport of snowboarding has been around for some years now, but in the Olympics, it is still considered one of the “new” sports. The benefit of this, is that it attracts attention from spectators. Alongside the latest craze in Curling, people still continue to find the shock factor in snowboarding events.

The newest addition to this year’s Olympics is Snowboard slopestyle. According to NPR, the event “ is making its debut at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. It’s a flashy event: Riders twirl through the air performing flips and slide across railings, much like you’d see at a skate park.” This will be the event of the season, with many young and talented new riders being highlighted to make an appearance.

Get in on the Action

This year is proving to be a banner year for winter sports. Many of our favorite athletes are coming back, from Shaun White to Jamie Anderson, while we have some newbies to look forward to, to add to the entire experience. The Olympics always generate attention and provide entertainment for people of all ages and nationalities. It’s a time when the world comes together for a few short weeks to relish in the fun and excitement of winter sports (that we admittedly don’t think about for about  3 years).

With all the excitement built up around the Olympics, you would be crazy not to get to Sochi to get in on the action. Being in the mix of things is like nothing we would ever experience (except for maybe competing in the Games). The day brings fun and unpredictable action, the nights bring fun and discussion about what we saw and hope to see. The opening and closing ceremonies are nothing to joke about either. But, for most of us, the expenses can seem just about near impossible to make it affordable to get there.

Create your own Olympic experience

When it comes down to it, getting to Sochi might be too much. This does not mean that you cannot create the experience on your own. Enjoy the slopes; learn new tricks; get out there and have fun. Whether you are just learning to go down the slope without face-planting or trying to summon up the courage to start learning tricks and jumps, there is a challenge out there for you. Finding the best snowboards to take on new challenges is easy; it’s getting up and getting going that often holds us back.

There is an Olympic athlete in all of us. Many of us dream of getting to the Olympics but might only get as far as the bunny slopes. As it were, we all have to start somewhere. Learning to snowboard is one step; having the right equipment is another; and having the drive to dream and set goals is yet another. With the Olympics coming up, we all have goals and dreams to catch up on. If you can’t quite make it to the Olympics, you can at least get out there and find a challenge to conquer.

Image Source: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Where To Find The Best Beaches In The Mediterranean

The various Mediterranean regions are glistening with not only some of the most beautiful and warmest of waters but also extraordinarily attractive beaches that are a paradise in themselves. 

There are well over a dozen countries and territories around the European part of the Mediterranean Sea, while countries in Africa and also Asia also touch the waters of the Mediterranean. The sea itself covers an area of some 2.5 million kilometres – it’s a vast area, so how do you find the best beaches?

As people start to choose their summer holidays at the start of each year, many in Britain and elsewhere desperately want to escape the damp weather at home and head for sunny skies and warm, inviting sands. There’s always a search on for the best beaches that are not too far away, and the good thing about the Med is it’s easily reached.

However, every year there’s always disappointment, due to people expecting more of their chosen Mediterranean beach holiday destination. It may not have lived up to expectations due to being far too crowded with tourists or simply was not all that visually appealing.

All Aboard

One way is to see the best beaches in the Mediterranean is to go on a cruise, such as those offered by Royal Caribbean Cruises, and stop off at some of the best around the region.

Perhaps you might visit Crete and spend some time on the gorgeous white stands of NissosChrissi Beach. Maybe you can take in the famous and stunning Rabbit Beach on Lampedusa Island off the coast of Sicily, voted the world’s best. Or what about the lively Platja de SesIlletes in Formentera, Spain?

You don’t have to go searching for the best beaches when you can go on Mediterranean cruises and let the travel professionals organise it all for you. That’s one way of ensuring you don’t lose out, and what better way to see the entire area than on a leisurely cruise where every day you can wake up in a different place?

In Vogue

Mediterranean beach holidays, whether in France, Spain, Italy or anywhere else in the region, have never really been out of style. But today they seem more popular than ever. Perhaps that’s in some way due to the economic climate of recent times that has kept people from straying too far from home – and why would they when there’s everything they need right on their doorstep?

Finding the most perfect beach in the Mediterranean will give you the holiday of your dreams, and keep you coming back again and again. You can search them out for yourself and try your luck, or you can hop aboard a cruise ship and visit the best.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of having a holiday within a holiday, as you cruise around in your luxurious accommodation and leisure facilities. It’s one way to see the Med in style.

A Hiker’s Guide to the Franz Josef Glacier

Why Hike the Franz Josef Glacier?

Located in Southern Alps, the Franz Josef Glacier – known as Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Maori- is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations. Over 250,000 visitors a year visit the twelve-kilometre-long frozen river.
Hiking a glacier is an amazing experience, and in New Zealand, this doesn’t mean packing up enough equipment for an Arctic expedition and months of advance planning and training. The Franz Josef glacier is one of the most easily accessible glaciers in the world, and perhaps the most fascinating. As it is a frozen river, its features are constantly changing. It is one of a few glaciers in the world to descend into rainforest- the others are in South America- and is an incredibly sensitive and rare environment to explore.

The glacier is presently experiencing a period of retreat and it is interesting to compare the glacier now to images of it in the 1940s, when it was much nearer to the Franz Josef township, and had a -now-vanished- large frozen lake at the base, which was popular with ice-skating locals.

How Fit Do You Need to Be?

There are different tours to suit all levels of fitness. You do not need to be an experienced hiker or mountaineer to enjoy hiking the Franz Josef glacier. The half-day hike is thought to be achievable by anyone with a moderate level of fitness, although it is not recommended for anyone under the age of eight.

Heli-Hikes

Since 2012, the base of the glacier has become so unstable that all hikes from the base to the top of the glacier have ceased, so visitors have to approach the glacier by helicopter. Cyclical periods of advance and retreat are a feature of glaciers, but the rapidity of the present decline is thought to be caused by global warming.

Travel companies, such as ANZCRO, provide New Zealand tours which include heli-hikes of the Franz Josef glacier. The helicopter ride provides unparalleled, spectacular views of the glacier, and is in itself an awesome experience. Visitors land in the middle the glacier accompanied by experienced guides with all the necessary equipment, such as crampons and ice picks.

What to Expect on the Franz Josef Glacier

Nothing can be guaranteed, as the glacier is unusually fast-flowing and dynamic, but ice-caves, blue ice, crevasses, and tunnels are common features that the guides will show you. Hiking the glacier is thought to be pretty safe and the guides are widely reputed to be extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their job. There are some amazing web-cam images of the glacier.

What to Bring on a Heli-Hike

Some suggestions of suitable preparations and clothing include:

Sunglasses
Sun protection cream
Layers of warm clothing
A waterproof jacket.

New Zealand is famous for its opportunities for outdoor adventure and extreme sports, such as bungee jumping. The Franz Josef glacier is an excellent way to participate in this without being too dangerous.

Just when you thought you’d seen every last bit of Australia…

In 2013, Adelaide bested the other major cities in Australia and was hailed as one of the ten best cities to visit by Lonely Planet. Does this mean people are already tired of Sydney and Melbourne? Not really, but tourists may feel like they’ve seen it all when it comes to the aforementioned cities. “Adelaide is effortlessly chic – and like a perfectly cellared red, it’s ready to be uncorked and sampled,” the Lonely Planet adds. Nowadays, tourists are looking for more adventure, something out of the ordinary. That being said, here are some of Australia’s best kept secrets:

The Bungle Bungle Ranges

The what? You read it right, the Bungle Bungle Ranges is one of the country’s best kept secrets. These intriguing rock formations were created naturally, and were 350 million years in the making. The beehive-like domes, according to Aboriginal legends, were created by the rainbow serpent as it crawled through the mountains.

Although not as popular as the Ayers Rock, the Bungle Bungle Ranges has already earned its spot in the World Heritage list. This magnificent sight is located in Purnululu National Park in Western Australia.

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is recommended for nature and wildlife lovers alike, and is one of the most popular tours for travel company, DialAFlight. Located in South Australia, this island boasts natural bush land and wildlife. Nature lovers can also find native wild animals such as the southern brown bandicoot, short-beaked echidna, tammar wallaby, and Rosenberg’s sand goanna, their native kangaroo on the island.

Because Kangaroo Island is surrounded by pristine waters, tourists can enjoy swimming and other water sports such as diving, kayaking, and boating. Visitors can also try quadbiking through the 500 acre open grasslands and trails.

Wolgan Valley

If you feel like getting away from it all, Wolgan Valley is the place to be. This heritage site is surrounded by slopes and forests, making it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Hikers and mountain climbers are sure to take advantage of the valley’s trails and forests, while romantics can enjoy a picnic for two as if they were perched on top of the world.

A Couple Of My Favourite Sports Accessories

As well as my journeys round the world, I also take part in some amateur athletics and running and in the beginning I would just turn up to the track in my normal running shoes, until I was told about sports insoles.  There are actually many benefits of sports insoles and ergonomic socks, particularly if you are involved in running or athletics of any sort.

Although running is very popular because of the lack of skill you need to take part, the improved cardiovascular health it encourages and the high number of calories it can help you burn; people often overlook the risks involved.  Consider the fact that when your foot hits the ground during a run, the force produced is equal to 5 times your entire body’s weight and this force is then transmitted through your foot, up your legs and into your lower back.

It is not hard to see how this could be a problem, particularly as this force does not pass just once through your body, but repeatedly as you continue to run.  This force eventually puts strain on your lower back and knee joints and soon transforms into pain.

Sports insoles however help to absorb the shock of the force as your feet hit the ground, andas the impact is reduced, so too is the strain.  Sports insoles also have the added bonus of arch support, which is an orthotic design.  This means it gives the effect of extra cushioning which can reduce conditions like flat foot and give you a much better and efficient posture, which also helps reduce the pain to your lower back and knees.

Ergonomic socks by Falke are also something I have started using as they provide the best connection between your feet and shoes.  They are reportedly the first compression socks for trekking that are made with merino wool, which helps keep your feet at the perfect temperature and keeps the moisture levels low.  The socks help to promote the regeneration of tissue because they force greater amounts of oxygen into your muscles and also help delay muscle fatigue and ease reflux.

There are many different sports socks available in Falke’s ergonomic range to suit different shoe types and sports.  For instance the TK stabilising compression socks were created to stabilise the ankle and prevent sprains from occurring.  The socks produce gradual compression that begins at the metatarsal bone and moves through to just above the ankle.  This helps the sock to feel like a second skin and means that your feet don’t swell, particularlywhen walking in extremely warm conditions or on particularly long hiking routes.

The Falke RU 4 invisible running socks are a combination of style to suit a modern runner and the functionality of the ergonomic socks.  The sock stays put when you pull it on thanks to a piece of rubber on the instep, a flap on the socks heel which has a plush cap on the inside and a silicone strip round the inside edge.

These two products have helped me become a better runner and helped me to enjoy the sport much more than before I used them.

Volunteering During Your Gap Year- The Pros and Cons

After finishing school, a gap year is always a promising start for an introduction into the real working world. It is a year to really clear your head, think about what you want to do- and travel! Many people do different things during this year. Some simply travel around, seeing the world. Others work for the year, to build their pocketbook. Some of the most interesting and rewarding things done though, are done through volunteering opportunities overseas.

Pros

You get to help people! This in itself is an incredible achievement to say that you know for certain that you are actually making a difference in the world. But, on top of that, you’ll be in a country that you may not have seen and experienced before. You will be exposed to a new culture, perhaps a new language, and more than likely you will learn some new skills along the way as well. All of this can help build a resume and make you more marketable in the employment industry if you’re thinking about your experience pragmatically, but on a wider level you’ll grow as a person. Also, travelling alone can be a very daunting task. If you decide to travel alone for your Gap year, you may find yourself in a country where you don’t speak the language and get into some trouble, or may cut your journey short because you don’t feel comfortable travelling alone anymore. With any groups that volunteer abroad, you are doing just that: travelling in a group and benefiting from all that comes with that.

Typically volunteer groups visit countries like Tanzania, India, Ghana, Guatemala, Thailand, South Africa, and Costa Rica, with many others as well. Most countries will have more than one place to work, depending on what you want to work with. It’s also incredibly important to work out what cause you’re most passionate about, whether it be HIV and AIDS awareness, children’s education, women’s rights, or housing issues, just to name a few there is so much you’ll be able to do to make a difference.

If none of the above appeal to you there are plenty of other schemes like teaching English, conservation projects and archaeology. Prices will vary depending on the trip.

Cons

Cost. Cost is always a factor when travelling abroad, for volunteering or not. The organizations that run the trips are not completely philanthropic, and cannot support the cost of travelling all on their own. With thousands of people travelling, that adds up to millions of pounds of cost in flights and meals and places to stay. However, many organizations have ways for you to finance your trip such as fund raising ideas or places you can go to get bursaries. They also often suggest soliciting any groups you are a part of for funding. Groups like this could include church groups, sports teams, or and community groups. These trips are meant to be about working towards something better, and so they generally try to minimize the costs that a person would accrue working on their trip.

In conclusion, you can see how wonderful and enriching the experience of volunteering abroad. It can open your eyes to the problems of the world first hand, it can give you a sense of knowing that you have changed the world! It can add something special to your resume too. It is certainly something to serious to consider for your gap year.

References

Cross Cultural Solutions http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/
Project Abroad http://www.projects-abroad.ca/

Does Not Having Enough Money Stop You From Having Adventures Round The World?

Like many people, do you dream of quitting your job and taking yourself on adventures around the world?  It seems like more people than ever are doing just that, which begs the question – how can they afford it as a trip travelling the world isn’t cheap?

This is exactly what this post is all about and as you continue reading down the page you will discover that there are some very easy and effective things that you can do to make whatever amount of money you have go further to help you explore the world, including ways to avoid spending too much money and ways to make money while you travel.

Travel To Cheaper Regions

Most people who travel around the world visit the developing regions of South America and Asia.  This is because these places are very exciting, while being very inexpensive in terms of accommodation and food.  Places such as Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat are some of the most interesting places you could ever want to see.  By choosing to visit the cheaper regions of the world you will be able to make your travel budget go further.  If you are planning a round the world trip starting from the UK, then you should consider a route that follows through Asia to Australia to South America.

Work While You Travel

If you have a very limited budget, but want to travel, you should consider supplementing this by working while you travel.  One of the easiest ways to work while you travel is by doing work online.  While you could find work in hotels or bars in places you are visiting, you will probably find that it is more profitable to do freelance work online.  There are many different ways to do this, but by far the most popular is by researching and writing content for people who will pay money for every piece you complete according to their requirements.  If you are looking for a challenge you could consider trying your hand at some confidential dissertation writing.

This is especially a great plan if you enjoy reading about different topics, whether it is stuff you already have some knowledge of or things that are completely new to you.  So as you expand your understanding of the world by taking it in by travelling, you can also take in knowledge by writing dissertations and making some decent money out of it.

Travel On A Shoestring Budget

If none of the above helps you, you could just keep expenses and costs as low as possible.  This will mean staying in the cheapest accommodation, eating the cheapest food and maybe even spending some time couch surfing where possible.  Although this is not the most glamorous or luxurious way to experience the world, it could be the way you need to do it to make sure it actually happens.  Besides, you could always have some extra savings kept somewhere safe so that on the odd occasion you can spend a relaxing night in a nice hotel or have a good meal in a fancy restaurant.