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Have you ever gone to a foreign country only to enter one of their tourist shops and find that everything there is overpriced, cheaply made and extremely lame? Everyone seems to think that all that tourists want is a shirt, a sweatshirt, a useless little knick knack, a keychain, or a pen.
Not only do they provide you with these options that lack originality and creativity, they also like to charge you way too much for them. There has to be a better option for the traveler who wants to bring something home that holds more value than 10 cents worth of plastic.
Luckily enough, you can be creative enough to make up for every tourist shop in the world. Here are some fun things to collect during your travels that are much cooler than anything you would find in a run of the mill tourist shop.
Salt and Spices
If you love to cook, or if you just love the way that different spices look while displayed in your kitchen, then this is a great option for you. Surprisingly, spices and salts do not come in one biological package. Each salt or spice is wonderfully diverse and colorful, and brings a life of it’s own to whatever food it garnishes.
Salt has been used for many different reasons throughout time. Did you know that if humans didn’t eat salt, they would die? Obviously doctors warn against too much salt because salt naturally dehydrates anything it comes into contact with, but it’s essential to the function of the body and ecosystems all around.
Salt, in particular, is very cheap to buy as it is extremely abundant in the world. If you take to collecting it on your travels, you’ll have a decorative, inexpensive hobby, as well as a resource that won’t deteriorate with time, as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place.
Though a common medium to collectors, currency is extremely fun to obtain. Each country has money that drastically differs from the rest of the world. Sometimes they make their money out of paper, sometimes out of metal. Sometimes it’s very colorful, and sometimes it’s not.
In any form, it will be fun for you to pull out your bag of money and go through each piece with the children and grandchildren as you recount your stories and adventures of traveling the world. You also never know when the currency you’ve collected will skyrocket in value. It’s always smart to have money in other forms such as gold, silver and foreign currency. You don’t know when the world market might crash and your collection literally saves your life. It’s extreme, but not impossible.
It’s fun to buy souvenirs from wherever it is that you’re traveling, but it’s not always fun to spend the kind of money you can put out on tacky souvenirs that will more than likely collect dust on a shelf, or get thrown away once a couple years pass and the house gets overrun with clutter.
There is no reason to forgo buying souvenirs all together, as you definitely want keepsakes for the time you spend all over the world. Each item should speak of the culture from whence it came as well as breathe timelessness, and it should also be a practical item that you see yourself, or whoever you’re giving the gift to using it for years to come.
Here are ideas for practical souvenirs to buy on your travels.
Home Decor Items
Though home decor isn’t necessarily in the realm of practical, certain items that could be viewed as home decor certainly are. For example, you might think to purchase a beautiful statement piece for your dining room table that serves a practical function, as well as a decorative function.
Examples of such could be an authentic tablecloth, candlesticks, or even placemats. Items such as these will get used in the home, be seen by guests, and serve as a topic of discussion for years to come.
Treats You Can Eat
You will never go wrong when purchasing treats from another country to bring home and enjoy after your travels. Who doesn’t appreciate foreign wine, chocolate, and cheese, among other things? Every country has its delicacies that it’s famous for and you don’t want to miss out on them if you don’t have to.
Bring the romance and delectable delicacies home with you. You can even use the packaging for home decor once all the goodies have been eaten. It’s a foolproof plan. Nobody will be complaining if you bring them something that their palate will enjoy. Anybody who eats the treats will feel like they’re in whatever country that sweet surprise came from.
Textiles for Those Cold Nights
Textiles are things that will never be underappreciated. They are not only beautiful and well made, they also serve to keep you and your loved ones warm during the coldest of times. You could buy a Scottish wool blanket or a sheepskin throw from Israel. No matter what you choose, these items will prove far more useful than a tacky souvenir any day.
In your search for these items, you’ll even place yourself in more circumstances where you will meet great people, see beautiful things and learn about the very cultures you’re visiting. It sure is a beautiful thing, so happy traveling.
Flight is the best way to travel. Though some may not agree, or even like to fly, the benefits of flight far outweigh the cons. For example, flying is actually way safer than traveling by car. The odds of dying in a car per mile are 1 in 100,000. In contrast, the odds of dying in a plane per mile are 1.6 in 100,000,000,000. Put into comprehensible terms, the odds of you dying in a car are 625,000 times higher than flying in a plane per every mile.
The statistics pile up very fast and dramatically point out that flight is safer than driving. However, you can’t fly to your job, or across town. To do that would be preposterous. You shouldn’t avoid cars altogether, but you should consider doing all of your long distance trips by plane. Not only will you be less likely to die, you’ll also get to where you’re going much faster, and in today’s world, time is money, and money is everything.
With this being said, flight can be somewhat expensive. Here are some travel tips for you that will make flight a little more affordable.
Get an Airline Miles Credit Card
Benefit credit cards are a fantastic thing to have. That is, if you choose the right ones that hold the right benefits for you, and you’re able to make your monthly payments in full. This is a great option for anybody who feels confident that they can manage their spending and money so that when the bill comes, they can pay it off in full and not put themselves in a situation where the balance is increasing right along with the interest, and there is no hope of paying it off.
Airline miles cards give you points per every mile you fly, and as the miles stack up, you can earn free flights and other cool benefits! It’s a pretty cool value when you’re planning to fly a decent amount, and the savings can really stack up.
Claim Your Military Benefits
If you or someone in your immediate family serves in the military, then there is a really cool option available for you. You can have all of your travel details worked out by a company that will book the most affordable flight for you, and then let you finance out a payment plan to make over time.
This is great for people who need to travel a lot but don’t have the immediate cashflow to make payments. You’ve given so much for your country, so let others make it up to you. This option gives you the ability to fly anywhere you want without need for immediate recompense.
If neither of these options work for you, continue to do research. There is a lot out there that will help make your traveling dreams a reality without breaking the bank.
There is no doubt that traveling can be expensive. Some places like Mexico or India are actually pretty cheap to live in once you’re there, but it’s really the preparation and getting there that can suck up all your money. Just because traveling can get expensive, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Travel opens up the heart and mind to new ideas and cultures, and is truly an enriching experience that far outweighs any amount of money.
With this being said, there are things that can be done that will allow you to get the most out of your money when traveling. It doesn’t have to cost a lot if you know the tricks of the trade.
Do Your Shopping in Advance
If you know you have a big trip coming up, start your packing list extremely early and keep your eyes peeled for sales and discounts. Some of the items you’re going to need on your trip won’t be available to purchase where you’re going, and if they’re big ticket items like cameras, or quality coats, shoes and luggage, shopping sales early on is going to give you the time to find the best deal possible without the stress that comes from spending too much money last minute and not having cash leftover to spend on your adventure.
Do Your Traveling During the Off-Season
There is nothing worse than showing up to your destination and having it overrun by tourists. If you travel during the off-season, you ensure that you can get the best deals on airfare and hotel accommodations, amongst other things. Choosing the off-season also makes everything in the country you’re traveling cheaper.
The attractions will be more focused on just bringing people in, and with less demand and less tourists to rip off, the prices won’t be inflated.
Go to Local Restaurants
When traveling, the bulk of money can easily go to food. To avoid this, steer clear of the restaurants that are tourist traps. Ask the locals around where the best food is. Usually they’ll point you towards a little hole in the wall restaurant that is cheap and as authentic as it gets.
Do As the Guidebook Tells You
If you spend $20 on a guidebook, you can easily have a several thousand dollar traveling experience for that amount of money. If you don’t know what a guidebook is, you’re not alone, but it’s a commodity that is an absolute necessity for your travels, especially if you want to save money.
Guidebooks are the holy grail of traveling. They answer every question you could ever have, so get one now or you will be sorry in more ways you ever thought you could be sorry.
Everyone loves to see the sights when they travel, and one of the most interesting ways to get to know other cultures is through their architecture. If you’re keen on exploring the world, there are some sights you really shouldn’t miss.
The world’s greatest buildings
These incredible buildings are essential sights for anyone intrigued by architecture and engineering:
- Hằng Nga guest house in Vietnam – this incredible work of art is influenced by avant-garde Russian designers. It ignores familiar geometric rules and is full of surprises. The guest house is surrounded by parkland that conceals bizarre giant animal carvings.
- Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali – having survived the recent invasion, the Great Mosque is now more celebrated than ever, a sacred building that also happens to be the world’s largest mud construction, built in the Sudano-Sahelian style. Palm sticks, or toron, decorate the walls.
- Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand – also known as the White Temple, this fairytale palace is a modern interpretation of an ancient style. Full of symbolic structures that represent a spiritual journey, it’s built over a lake to add to its majesty.
- Burj al Arab in Dubai – one of the tallest buildings in the world, this is built to resemble a sail looking out to sea, with its glass frontage reflecting sea and sky. It’s built on an artificial island, with 40m concrete piles as anchors, and it has a 180m-high atrium.
- Sydney Opera House – a triumph of expressionist design, this stunning building turns Bennelong Point into the focal point of Sydney Harbor, but just as its concrete curves are intriguing on the outside, its inside is perfectly crafted to maximize its acoustic potential.
Sometimes, a whole place deserves to be celebrated for its architecture. These are places you’ll never forget:
- Istanbul – the meeting point of East and West, a place where cultures fought for dominance by trying to outdo one another in art and architecture, this city is a showcase for the best of Medieval European and Ottoman design, with numerous elegant palaces and places of worship.
- Paros – beauty meets livability in the Cycladic architecture that gives this Greek island its charm, with narrow streets, arched gateways, whitewashed walls, a range of shutters in bright shades of blue, and gardens full of flowers. Visitors can also spot Byzantine and Frankish buildings.
- Yangon – now open to outsiders after decades of strict military rule, Myanmar’s largest city is a fascinating place to explore. As well as the famous Golden Temple, it’s home to superb examples of European colonial architecture, while traditional pagodas can be found hidden away in its magnificent parks.
- Marrakech – inhabited since the Stone Age, this stunning Moroccan city mixes ancient Berber architecture with elaborate Moorish styles, red terracotta, and humble whitewashed walls around private orange groves with gold-embellished palaces and mosques.
These fascinating destinations are inspiring places to visit. If you’re an architecture student, they could transform the way you approach your work. If you’re simply a lover of beauty, they could give you thrilling ideas about how to reinvent your own home.
Taking a vacation in the mountains has a cathartic effect – you can breathe clean air, enjoy fabulous views, benefit from exercise outdoors, and maybe spot some local wildlife if you’re lucky. There are wonderful locations all over the world, and the US has no shortage of options. Here are a few very special, ultimate mountain retreats.
Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee has 9,200 acres of pastoral land in the Great Smoky Mountains and is an intimate, luxury hotel. Steeped in Native American history, the early settlers were Cherokee and then Appalachian, who cultivated the land and foraged for food to sustain their families. Those same principles are followed today, and the farmstead serves up food grown on site and is also home to a culinary program for interested guests.
The local woods teem with wild mushrooms and ramp, a sort of wild leek. Later in the season, there is an abundance of persimmons, pawpaws, crabapples, and huckleberries. You can have a real outdoors adventure and try hiking, cycling, and paddle sports. You can also fish in the river or go canoeing or kayaking. With an atmosphere of calm and peacefulness, the wellness center and spa also beckons.
The Club at Big Bear Village is in the mountains of Southern California at Big Bear Lake. This is one of the acclaimed Bluegreen resorts and so the location is idyllic and remote, and the amenities are superb. There are spacious villas with a whirlpool bath in guest bathrooms to ensure you are totally relaxed. The fireplace will keep you cozy in the evenings, plus there is an outdoor heated pool.
You can stay active, depending on the time of year, with zip lining, skiing, wakeboarding, and horse riding options. You can rent a pontoon boat or take a guided helicopter tour to see the terrain from a bird’s-eye point of view. The San Bernardino National Forest surrounds Big Bear Lake and has five wilderness areas, where there are trails for hiking enthusiasts.
The Salish Lodge & Spa is not only enclosed by forests and mountains, but it also overlooks the Snoqualmie Falls, so the views are breathtaking. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, you can see the granite crags climbing high above you while the canyon is dotted with pine and fir trees. Wildlife in the area includes black-tailed deer and eagles, and rainbow trout are abundant.
In spring, summer, and fall, you can try your hand at mountain biking, kayaking, fly fishing, and river rafting, as well as hiking. There’s a local golfing range, and in the winter, you can snowshoe or ski at Snoqualmie Pass. Guestrooms and amenities here are superb, and you can enjoy fine dining and a great spa experience.
The Inn on the Biltmore Estate is one of those very special places, as once you arrive at the estate, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve been magically relocated to a French château circa 1895. Poised under the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Inn is surrounded by carefully tended lawns and includes a superb winery and a specialist shop. Visitors have remarked that Biltmore could easily be an aristocratic property straight from British TV series Downton Abbey.
You can arrange to go horse riding across the rolling countryside from the Equestrian Center, and there are plenty of tours, including a self-guided visit to Biltmore House. There are Land Rover lessons and trails to follow, plus trips to visit local wineries.
Make your choice
With such a variety of destinations, types of property, and local amenities from which to choose, the hardest part about organizing your ultimate mountain retreat may well be choosing it.
As the year is coming to a close and raindrops hit the windows, most people are thinking back to the fading memories of the wonderful summer days spent somewhere around the Mediterranean shores. However there is an island that has not been forsaken, an island that keeps the party on, an island that whoever visited will want to go back!
This experience comes in the form of a single phrase… holidays in IBIZA !!! Through the passing of years, Ibiza has always been a famous destination for party goers and water sports enthusiasts alike! The entertainments on offer are always varied and engaging. From the sunny Mediterranean shores and palm trees to the glamorous and vivid nightclubs, Ibiza has it all!
Are you a fan of surfing? You can try the Surf House Ibiza in San Antonio beach. What about flying like a spaceman on the water? You can try renting a flyboard in Playa d’en Bossa. However those are not the only available activities during the day. Fans of exploring can always apply for a scuba diving course and have an in depth look of the underwater life in the reefs surrounding the numerous beaches around the island. As for those who would like to take a boat tour and see the island from another perspective, boat rentals are widely available in decent prices. As always the sunny beaches are welcoming and offering a wide spectrum of experiences ranging from beach bars, to restaurants, to nightclubs for the lifestyle inclined party goers.
One of the most famous aspects of Ibiza is the thriving nightlife. From prestigious mega-clubs hosting the most successful DJs to pubs for the ones who would like a taste of home on a sunny setting! You can always enjoy music and drinks under the warm Mediterranean sun and when the sun goes down… That’s when the party’s on! Some of the most well-known nightclubs include Amnesia, space Ibiza and of course Pacha! That’s where the making of musical legends and epic nights have been taking place during the past 30 years! Do you want to be a part of their history?
Want to take a break from partying during your holidays in Ibiza? Ibiza Town is a sight to behold in itself. The setting of a cosy and cosmopolitan Mediterranean island and the amazing views promise not to disappoint. In case you want to get in touch with your hippy side, you can always visit the Hippy markets where selling and trading of the most imaginative clothing, jewelry and decorative ornaments takes place on a daily basis! Lastly, the Can Marça Caves offer the experience of entering an ancient smuggling route in which stalagmites and stalactites have taken the place of the former illegal contraband. Why not explore them?
All in all, having holidays in Ibiza is an experience that has to be lived to be understood! So, are you going to join the party?
Every hiker loves spending a warm, sunny day beneath a bright blue sky. But sooner or later, the rains will come. And whether you’re spending a weekend exploring the coast, an overnight along the riverbed, or an afternoon on the mountain, knowing how to stay warm, dry, and comfortable when the clouds roll in can mean the difference between a successful, soul-soothing hike and a soggy mess of an attempted adventure.
Know How to Dress
Hands-down, the most essential component to learning to master the rainy day hike is learning the right way to layer your clothing for your activity level. Think of dressing for hiking in the rain similarly as you would for hiking in cold or winter weather. Layers are the name of the game–but remember that just because it’s cold and damp out does not mean that you’ll stop sweating from physical exertion.
Staying dry is the name of the game here–both from within and from the elements. So avoid building up a sweat or letting the rain get you damp, as all of this can lead to major discomfort as well as chafing, blistering, and rashes. As far as your actual layers go, a good rule of thumb is to stick to layers that have the highest likelihood of keeping you warm, even if they should happen to get wet. This can include things like non-cotton underwear, thermal long underwear, a non-cotton insulating layer, and a waterproof shell layer. Don’t neglect the importance of a brimmed cap, either.
Tackle the Trail Like a Pro
Knowing when to do things a little differently is an essential part of the rules when dealing with Mother Nature. When raindrops make an unexpected appearance during a hike, you may need to forgo your schedule and take advantage of breaks in bad weather to rest, eat, or make camp. Hike wet and camp dry is a good rule to keep in mind during multiple camping day trips.
Other trail tips of the trade? Try not to raise your arms unless necessary–sleeve openings are the easiest place for water to sneak in. And unless you absolutely have to, do not open your pack. No matter how careful you are, some water will sneak in, making your entire load that much heavier. Keep your most utilized tools, maps, and snacks in zip bags accessible to your outer pockets if at all possible.
Have a Comfy Way to Get Home
Whether your idea of the perfect ride home is the back of an open pickup with your best (two or four) legged friend, or cruising along in comfy ride like the Chrysler 200, there’s no denying that the end of a hike brings with it a certain sense of satisfaction and calm with it. Take that time for reflection and don’t stress about the condition of your clothes and car too much.
Even if you plan all of your hiking trips with the greatest of care, if you hike often enough, there’s still a good chance you could end up caught in a surprise rain storm out on the trail some day. With a couple of smart tips and tricks, you can be prepared for even the wettest of downpours!
Calvin Hemphill is a Boy Scout leader who, as the motto goes, is always prepared! Having lead groups of 20+ kids on 3 day hikes he believes he knows a thing or two and shares his tips, tricks and ideas via blogging.
New Zealand is the perfect place to visit if you want to get away from life. My life was monotonous at best. I never even realized it. One day, my friend and I were going through the photos in my album. As I flipped through the pages, I realized that I had done the very thing that I had wanted to avoid. I had grown old! I had allowed life to sweep me up in its humdrum routine and I had not even realized it!
That was definitely going to change. It took me a while to figure out my finances but once that was done I had made my choice. I wanted to get away from everything. I wanted to experience freedom. That was precisely the reason why I chose to go to a small place called Milford Sound in New Zealand. When my friend heard my plans, she initially thought that I was crazy. It took me a while but I convinced her that I was perfectly sane. In fact, after I convinced her, she was all set to join me!
That’s how the two of us set out to Milford Sound for a peaceful vacation. We checked in at our hotel which was a little way off from Milford Sound. The journey had been exhausting. I remembered coming across a nice range of Chardonnays from Advintage when I was doing my research. A good chilled wine is perfect when you want to relax, and that was the reason that we were here, so I ordered a few. We spent the night chatting over a delightful dinner and enjoying our chilled Chardonnay.
The wine was amazing! So it did not come as a surprise that we took a bottle with us as we toured the area. Every day was a picnic. We enjoyed the boat tours of the area. Some days were just spent on the banks of the Milford Sound with some amazing food and a great book. Peace… That was all that I had wanted.
We even got a little adventurous. We trekked our way to the Chasm. Did you know that the Cleddau river cuts its way through rocks to create a waterfall? All the exertion it took us to reach the falls was definitely worthwhile. The view was magnificent! One I will never forget and I don’t even require the photographs to remind me of it!
New Zealand was the perfect break from the monotonous life that I had found myself in. The trip came to an end to quickly! I did not want to leave. As an ardent nature lover, New Zealand represented all that I love about the world. It’s hard to let a good thing go. That however is just what I had to do. I looked down at the country from my window in the plane and vowed to return. For me New Zealand will always be a paradise on earth. I can’t stop myself from praying that it remains that way.
I know myself well enough… I will be venturing back to this beautiful country again. Maybe to a different part, but I am definitely coming back!
There are very few people that don’t like a good traveling opportunity every once in a while, and then there’s the lucky group that manages to find a way to make a career out of the tourism industry.
Does it sound like this is something that you’d be interested in? If so, consider the five following ways to potentially help you get your foot in the door of being a professional tourist, including searching the web, heading out traveling, finding college programs that fit the bill, creating your own blog or channel, and contacting local resources.
Search the Web
Always begin the beguine with a job search on the web. There are plenty of avenues for you to try, and some of them are extremely specific as well as effective. Typing in a few general terms at first, see which job search sites seem to give you the best results and then add more details further into pages in order to get specific contact information for people in your desired industry.
Go Out Traveling
One very natural and organic way to get into the travel and tourism industry is by actually going out and traveling and being a tourist! And then talk to tour guides. Talk to hotel managers and restaurant owners. See if anyone needs help. Ask people about their career paths. Not only will you have a deeper experience on your trip, you might find that you have the vocational ability for a profession that could potentially keep you occupied for a good grip of time. You never know until you try.
Find College Programs that Fit
When you check out different college programs, see which ones might intersect with the tourism industry. For example, looking into colleges with the best hospitality programs, you’ll find that there’s a gigantic need for people just like you! Though the college route may take a bit longer and be more expensive that alternative methods, the payback is quite significant once you land that cushy job.
Create Your Own Blog or Channel
There’s always an opportunity to create a blog or create a YouTube channel as well. These are long-term routes, but they have incredible benefits if you stick with them long enough and start receiving your advertising revenue once your content and your community gets strong enough.
Contact Local Resources
Finally, no matter where you live currently, there is probably some sort of tourist center. In small towns, it might be the community center. In larger cities, there are gigantic organizations. But whatever is closest to you, check to see if your amount of local expertise could help you in the overall hunt.