My scariest travel moments
November 152018

I love to travel, it’s exciting, it’s new, you’ll discover beautiful places and meet great people. However, not every moment is great when you’re traveling. In this article, I’ll share six of my scariest travel moments.

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Flying on an airplane for the first time is an exciting experience, but it can also be daunting for some. How can you prepare for your first flight?
This step by step guide for first time flyers includes all the tips, recommendations and instructions you need, so you can fly stress-free and avoid all sorts of common mistakes.

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I’m an avid traveler, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But as any good traveler knows all too well, you unfortunately just can’t hop on a plane and go anywhere you wish without the proper planning and paperwork (well, you can, if you’re willing to be sent back or fined in some cases). As much as I detest it, many countries and regions require a special visa, and all of that depends on your nationality. Some are as easy as filling out a quick online form, and others require tons of paperwork and appointments that last for months (dare I say it, even years?!). Before traveling anywhere, it is crucial to do your research and make sure you have all of the required documents, copies, translations, etc.

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Travel gadgets are clever little things that save you time, money, stress and space in your luggage.
I selected some of the travel gadgets I think are both useful and smart, to make your backpacking trip easier. I’ve included both tech and non-tech gadgets.

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How much does it cost to travel in The Philippines? During my trip in the Philippines, I wrote down every expense. In this article, I’ll share the costs of transportation, accommodation, food, and activities.

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What is the secret to packing light?
The secret behind packing light is… bringing less stuff!
Simple, isn’t it?
Well, not really.
Because when we’re packing for a trip, be it a weekend city break or a year long round the world trip or anything in between – we will find ourselves packing all sorts of stuff that we think we might need, but actually don’t.
That’s perfectly natural.

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RVs are becoming increasingly popular for family vacations, and you don’t have to own one to take advantage of this great way to travel the country. In fact, if you don’t have an RV, renting one is a great way to find out if RV travel is for you before you buy. It may save you quite a bit of money too. PKF Consulting USA revealed that a family of four may save from 27 to 62 percent by taking an RV vacation.
If you’ve never rented an RV, use these tips to ensure the best experience.

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Solo travel is growing in popularity these days, and for quite a few years now it has been my favourite way of travel. In this post, I’ll share why and how you can travel on your own.
Solo travel has many benefits. I value freedom and independence (that’s probably why I travel so much) and solo travel gives me just that.

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A long motorcycle tour will give you a great feeling of freedom, excitement and adventure—if it’s done right. Here are 16 tips that can help make sure you have a great time on the road.
I’ve learned a few things during my years of riding across India, and these tips are based on my experiences. They might not be applicable to every situation, but if you’re planning your first (or even fifth) motorcycle tour, I guarantee that you’ll find some of them useful.

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If like me you just can’t wait to travel, doing a Working Holiday is the perfect option for becoming Dora the Explorer ASAP. So I’ve decided to start a series of interviews with fellow travellers who have done a Working Holiday anywhere in the world to help fuel your wanderlust and encourage you to do a Working Holiday, because it really is one of the best ways to broaden your mind and your experiences of the world.

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There’s nothing quite like the sense of freedom you get from jumping in a car and taking to the great open road. You have nothing and no one to answer to; all that awaits is…

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After the easy yet full of scams border crossing of Kasani here we are, the time has come to leave Bolivia and start our adventure to Chile. Once again, crossing into Chile might seem hard (many regulations, strict police officers) but it really is a piece of bread. Similarly to when we crossed into Peru…


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If you’ve ever flown Spirit Airlines you know they charge for every little thing, including a carry-on. Because my trip to Mexico would only be 48 hours, I was sure I could fit everything I needed into a little backpack approved by the airlines as a “personal item.” What made this idea even better was that I already had a little day hike bag on order that would perfectly fit the dimensions allowed.

Of course, this bag that would be perfect for both my California and Tulum trip (back-to-back weekends) showed up exactly one day after my flight had me due back home. In a last minute scramble for a small backpack that wouldn’t be a total waste, I went for a cute cheap one that cost me only eleven bucks.

I was so proud of fitting an additional day’s swimwear and outfit in this little bag! I’m pretty good at packing light, mostly because I can plan what I will wear for every thing planned in my itinerary. Knowing what I will need and be wearing makes it a whole lot easier to pack. Then with any leftover room, I’ll throw in an “option” outfit. Plus, I’ve been doing the “army roll” packing technique since I was twelve.

Unfortunately, even though I’d planned outfits perfectly, my cheapness would come back to haunt me (doesn’t it always?) and my zipper would be giving me trouble the first hour after landing. It just wouldn’t work right with everything I’d crammed in! So after less than twenty-four hours of struggling (even though I’d perfected the departure flight), my backpack was broke and I was traveling around Mexico holding my bag flaps together.

I spent a lot of my last night in Playa del Carmen scouring souvenir shops for a bag that would fit the Spirit requirements, wasn’t too expensive (like the gorgeous embroidered leather backpacks I kept seeing but knew I was too poor for), and would be something I could keep using even after returning home. Finally, I found a cute cotton tote that would be perfect for my light grocery shopping when I made it back home. I cleaned out my bag, only had to lose one swimsuit cover-up that just wouldn’t fit, and thought all would be well on the flight back.

Unfortunately, it would be this clean-out and not the new bag that would cause me to almost be left in Mexico. Ai yi yi.

Tracy and I, both being Type A, had gotten to the airport three hours early after dropping off the rental car. We wanted no stress of rushing through the airport, dealing with any customs stuff, and finding our yet unnamed gate. Even after the unnecessary line at the “one” Spirit ticket kiosk, we still had time to explore the airport shops and have a sit-down meal at the airport Margaritaville. We were living a very relaxed airport life. Then it was time to board and right as they were asking for my boarding pass it was mentioned that I also needed the customs form that hadn’t been needed since landing in Mexico two days earlier. Even as I dumped my new bag out, I clearly remembered disposing (carefully, I might add) of that little slip of paper that hadn’t seemed at all important at the time.

I would not be allowed on the plane without it and there was only twenty or so people left to board before take off. I was freaking out. I got instructions from the flight attendant twice on where I had to go to get a replacement. Tracy handed me two 20 dollar bills quickly – because of course they would only take cash – and then I began to run through the airport. My destination was outside of security and by now it was midday so those lines were long, very long. I ran to the side where it looked to be a handicap access area and said, “I’m getting a new customs form. I’m coming right back through here.”

Without waiting for approval, I ran out to the main entrance of the Cancun Airport. I got a new customs form (thankfully I’d brought along my passport with my wallet – my bag was with Tracy back at the boarding line). And then ran back to the security checkpoint. The lines were so long it looked like it would take me at least half an hour to get through – but no, I ran back to the side line and rushed back under the handicap sign. I nodded to the woman who I’d spoken to without waiting for confirmation, threw my stuff on the conveyor belt, and ran back through the duty-free shops. At the gate, it was just Tracy and the flight attendant left, the later giving me a surprised, “Oh, you made it.” So some people don’t make it?!

After wasting more time by checking all my stuff, dangerous chemical test swabs and a pat down, they finally let me on the plane. Tracy was a trooper for waiting; I would’ve hated if she got stuck in Mexico because of me! We could somewhat laugh about it after taking our seats, but mostly my heart was still pumping and I couldn’t yet appreciate crossing a new experience off my bucket list – running through an airport.

21.039676 -86.874433
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Budget Your Trip: Ecuador
September 182018

Trying to live off a tight budget in Ecuador might not be an easy task for the casual backpacker but with a bit of research and careful spending, travelling around the country can be cheap. Even though Ecuador is mostly known for the Galapagos Islands (budget at least 100€+/day per person there) and have embraced…

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While travelling around Peru you might slowly get used to the typical meal a.k.a. soup, rice, potatoes, salad and a type of meat, but this country is also home to some interesting street-foods that could make it among yours “weirdest food” list.

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After spending a couple of days around the Lake Titicaca visiting Puno and the floating islands of Uros, it is time for us to start a new chapter of our trip: Bolivia. Even though it felt we barely scratched the surface of Peru in over a month that we were here, the idea to see…

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Every place has some kind of history, with the past of some being longer and more complicated than that of others. But history leaves its mark in the heritage and architecture it leaves behind. And here are places with heritage sites that we found particularly fascinating.

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This blog is one year old today!! So I don’t truly believe in horoscopes, but sometimes it’s fun to look at them after the day has passed. I officially started this blog on this date, exactly a year ago. Before taking time to think about how far I’ve come (a lot!), I wanted to share my horoscope of that -this- day, 2017.

“A critical turning point arrives in your life today via the full moon in Pisces, dear Gemini. You need to find a better balance between your personal and your public lives.”

How funny, as a pretty private person, that day would be the one I would start sharing my journey on the internet. So why did I start a blog? Mainly because I love writing, always have. Secondly because I was excited to be actively pursuing adventure instead of just dreaming about it.

Once I started traveling and having new experiences, I realized how easy it is to do! If you make it a priority, if you chase your interests, it’ll happen. So now not only do I hold myself accountable by blogging twice weekly, I try to encourage readers to get out and and explore also! Sometimes it seems we’re just afraid to take that first step.

I’ve started my mission to collect all of the National Parks stamps – I’ll even be done with the entire Southwest Region by the end of this year!

I made it my mission to travel internationally at least once a year – after booking impromptu trips this and the previous summer to Belize and Tulum, respectively.

I made it a goal to be a tourist in my hometown, Dallas, so I could experience all the hot spots as well as find new local things to do.

I’ve prioritized hiking, by trying to make it to every trail and park in my area. I wanted to prove to myself I could find amazing nature in the backyard of a big city.

And finally, I’ve strived to say yes more and more. When a friend invites me to a sage-making class, when my dad invites me to learn a new sport – I go!

So yeah, I’ve shared a lot with all of you. On my Instagram, I try to post daily to keep myself active in adventure. But I’m still pretty private, and that’s good. I’m very protective of my relationship, I try not to be too obnoxious with picture-taking, and I totally understand when a friend doesn’t want to be mentioned in a blog.

I’ve learned a lot about balancing! For me that mainly means pursuing what makes me happy and being so, so grateful for everyone in my life. It would’ve been much harder on this journey alone (i.e. impossible). So thanks everyone for a fantastic, unimaginable first year!

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The digital nomad lifestyle is envied by many people who feel unfulfilled in their day jobs and are dreaming of seeing the world while making an income at the same time.
The first interview is with Nimrod Dean Kuchel (aka Dean). He’s been living as a digital nomad for the past four years and has been to over 88 countries so far.

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As a self-proclaimed travel addict and globe trotter, I’d like to think that I’ve gotten quite good at booking affordable accommodations for trips. For the last 5 years that I’ve been traveling across Europe, I’ve consistently found quality hotels, hostels or Airbnbs at reasonable prices and in ideal locations. I love to do my research before a trip, and generally have a set and detailed itinerary before leaving.

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If you’re heading to Peru, you’re most likely be landing in Lima, the capital of the country. After spending sometime wandering Miraflores, seeing the colonial centre and enjoying the beautiful Malecon you might be looking at the next stop. And if you’ve come all the way to Peru, who isn’t planning to visit the gorgeous…

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Wandering around Colombia was a great opportunity to see the country from a traveller’s perspective. Needless to say that during our two-month stay, we were lucky enough to be able to make those perspectives ours through the viewfinder and while we took a lot of photos, here follows just a small collection showing the beauty…

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Colourful cities, traditional markets, unspoiled nature and loads of hiking: Colombia won’t be easy to leave. Especially because this is one of those countries where traveling on a small budget is not difficult to achieve. Cheap food, sort of cheap accomodation and plenty of opportunities to visit places on your own are nothing but the…

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Even though many people come to visit the famous Galapagos Islands, just few take the time to visit the amazing beauty that the Ecuador mainland holds. From gorgeous colorful architecture, unique wildlife to amazing landscapes: having the chance to snap around this country was a great experience full of opportunities to train more than one…

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I was a bit nervous about traveling solo for the first time. Wouldn’t it be boring? Would I be able to meet and connect with other travelers? But I did go and had a blast. In this article, I’ll share all my tips and tricks for traveling solo, and I’m sure you’ll have a great time as well!

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Nowadays, the most travelled border to cross into Peru from Ecuador is known as Macarà and it’s very well-connected to the city of Loja with buses heading all the way to the city of Piura in Peru. Even though, only the most avid adventurers have been using the lesser known border of La Balsa things…

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As I approach my blog’s one year anniversary, I’ve decided to take a week-long break from blogging, social media, and even -gasp- adventure. I think R&R is super important, and I think R&R&R&R is something I’m in very much need of. I want to take this break for the classic rest and relaxation, but I also want to spend much of it reflecting and remembering my previous year of experiences.

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It can be very challenging to keep your health in mind and stay fit while on vacation. I know it’s the last thing I think about when I’m heading to a new place – I’m generally too excited seeing all the sights, trying all the food and (let’s face it) drinking a bunch of local beers and regional wine. Who has got time for worrying about exercise?

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After spending a while exploring Colombia, we decided to move on to the next country and hit Ecuador. Like many other people before us, our plan was to do cross over from Ipiales, a small town very close to the border, which host what has been described as “the most beautiful” church in Colombia (the…

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We recently had to fly back to the United States unexpectedly at the last minute and quickly began our search for airfares. As we had to book about 5 days before our departure date, we feared the worst and thought we would have to pay an arm and a leg for a last minute transatlantic flight.
We were using and looking at all of our options when we discovered a roundtrip flight on American Airlines for less then $800 US dollars. The route was Frankfurt-Dallas-Houston with the same route on the return. I quickly booked this trip, as the flight times and layovers worked well for us.
We frequently fly between Europe and the United States but it had been years since we have used a US airline as we normally enjoy Lufthansa or KLM. We were interested to see how our upcoming American Airlines flights would turn out.

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Getting a Working Holiday visa is becoming more and more popular as people start to realize that travelling is awesome and don’t want to stop. But seeing this incredible world is pricey and unless you’re a super hot Instagram superstar (seriously, why are there so many?!), it takes a lot to save enough cash to fund your travels.

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Nicaragua is without doubt THE most budget-friendly country in the Central America. Think about a budget you considered low until now and cut that by half: this is what we mean! Food is cheap, accomodation is ultra-cheap and transport might not be the most comfortable but guess what… yep, cheap was well. Imagine that there…

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We’ve been travelling regularly for over a decade now, and have had to learn a lot of things about packing right. Here are 17 packing tips that could come in handy on your next trip.

We started travelling in 2007 and, since then, we’ve gone on at least two trips every year, and sometimes more. Along the way, we’ve picked up some useful tricks for packing well. Some we’ve learned from other travellers, and some we’ve learned the hard way. But every one of them is rooted in a real travel experience, and could help you travel more comfortably.

So here are 17 packing tips that you might find useful the next time you travel.

Also read: Don’t make these 10 travel mistakes that we did


1. Check the luggage rules of the airline you’re travelling with

Airlines have different rules for the size, weight and number of pieces of luggage you can take. Some set a weight limit, regardless of how many pieces you carry. Some have a limit on the number of pieces. And some have a combination. So it’s a good idea to read their luggage rules carefully before you pack. Otherwise, you might just end up having to re-pack your stuff at the airport, and nobody wants that!

2. Research the weather carefully

Very often, our idea of the weather in a particular place is formed by the pictures we see online. Chances are the pictures you’ve seen were taken at a different time—or even a different place—from where you’re going. Checking on the overall climate, monthly temperature and rainfall of the place you’re visiting will help you decide what to pack. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up wearing light clothes in cold, rainy weather. Or heavy, warm clothes in blistering heat.

Mountains over Leh in Ladakh, India - Packing tips from a regular traveller

Ladakh can be both blazing hot and freezing cold. At the same time!

3. Pack clothes that can be used in layers

Whether you’re travelling to a hot or cold place, the weather can sometimes be unpredictable (especially nowadays). So rather than carrying one heavy jacket or only tee shirts, pack clothes that can be worn both singly or on top of each other. That way, you can wear or take off layers, depending on the weather. For example, a light sweater and jacket instead of a heavy jacket, or a light tee shirt and a long-sleeved top, instead of just a tee shirt.

Sillery trek, Kalimpong - Packing tips from a regular traveller

The advantage of layers

4. Think of a back-up for single items

Besides a bunch of tee shirts, socks and underwear, you’ll probably need single items like a jacket, a pair of shoes or even a pair of glasses. But what if your jacket tears, your shoes get wet, or you break your glasses? It’s good to have a backup plan for these things. I’m not saying you should pack two of everything. But think about packing things that can be used as a back-up in case of emergencies. Like a pair of shades that you can use instead of your glasses. Or a pair of sandals in case your shoes get wet.

5. Pack a change of clothes and a hand towel in your cabin baggage

We’ve all heard stories of travellers left high and dry because the airline lost their luggage. Pack a change of clothes and a small towel in your cabin baggage in case that ever happens to you. It’s also great to have a change handy during a long journey. A quick wipe and a change of clothes in the middle of that 24-hour journey can make you feel almost human again.

6. Consider sharing packing space

If you’re not travelling alone, consider sharing packing space with whoever you’re travelling with. For example, if you each have a suitcase, pack some of your stuff in the other’s suitcase and vice versa. That way, if one of your suitcases gets lost, then you’re not left completely helpless. Of course, if you don’t know the other person too well, it might feel weird. But it’s still a good idea.

7. Pack some laundry detergent

Even if you’re not planning a long trip, packing some laundry detergent sometimes comes in very handy. If you get muddy during an impromptu walk, or someone spills their drink on you, you’ll quickly be able to wash it out back at your hotel. And many hotels have a washing line or rack that you can use to dry your laundry on. It makes even more sense during a long vacation. You can pack light, and wash your clothes as you go. Just make sure you do so at the right place and time, like not immediately before your next journey, or in the local well.

Blankets airing in the sun in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India

Blankets being aired outside a neighbor’s house in Iyerpadi near Valparai


8. Distribute your money

Because of the lost luggage scenario—and because thieves and pickpockets love tourists—don’t keep your cash and cards in one place. Keep some on you (in different pockets), and some in different pieces of luggage. That way, if you lose one set, you always have something to fall back on. If it seems like too much trouble, remember that it’s far more trouble to be stranded somewhere without any money.

9. Wear easily-removable shoes while flying

This isn’t technically packing, but shoes are something you’ll take on your journey, so I’m including this tip anyway.

Airports nowadays are getting stricter with their security checks, and some even have more than one check. You have to take off your shoes at many of these, and having to hop around undoing and redoing your laces is very frustrating. It becomes a nightmare when you have connecting flights, so it goes a lot easier if you wear loafers, sandals, slippers or anything else that’s easy to take off and put on.

Also read: 21 simple tips to be a responsible traveller

10. Pack small items into shoes to save space

While on the topic of shoes, they tend to take up a lot of space when packed in your luggage. This may seem obvious, but you can save on space (and keep your shoes in shape) by stuffing them with things like socks or underwear. You could also give small, breakable items like souvenir liquor bottles an extra layer of protection by putting them inside the shoes.

The Rann of Kutch - Packing tips from a regular traveller

Pack your shoes, and pack things in them too


11. Consider packing daily bundles

If the schedule for your trip is reasonably fixed, you could consider dividing your clothes into daily bundles. For example, you could roll together one tee shirt, one pair of underwear and one pair of socks for each day of your trip. That way, you don’t have to pull everything out individually, messing up your packing. It also saves a lot of space. Some people like using packing cubes to keep things neat, but I think making tight rolls works just as well.

12. Pack liquids in something waterproof

You might want to consider packing liquids like shampoo or insect repellent in a waterproof bag. Differences in air pressure or just being squashed by other luggage could cause them to leak. And you don’t want shampoo all over your clothes, right? You could even use a water-tight box for all your liquids, to give them more protection from being squeezed. If you’re using shampoo bars, on the other hand, you can just carry them in your hand luggage.

Takamaka spiced rum - Five dark rums from across the world you need to try

Liquids can leak in your check-in baggage. Try and wrap them in something waterproof.

13. Keep your hand luggage light in case of long layovers

If you have a long layover as part of your journey (or you have a long way to walk during your layover), try and keep your hand luggage light. Carrying a heavy bag or backpack around can be really tiring, especially if you’re already tired from your journey. Just pack the essentials, and you won’t find yourself bowed under your bag’s weight while trudging endlessly through airports like Dubai or Frankfurt.

14. Keep a copy of your passport in your luggage

Losing your passport abroad is a huge pain, and will throw your entire trip out the window. To make it easier to deal with in case it happens, keep a copy in a separate piece of luggage. Having a copy will save you a lot of time when you apply for a temporary travel permit at your local embassy or consulate. If you don’t like printing, you could email it to yourself to download later, or save a copy on your phone. But remember that you might not be able to access your email when you need it.


15. Carry copies of your tickets

At most airports nowadays, having your ticket on your phone or tablet is fine. But at some airports, you need to show security personnel your ticket before they let you into the airport. And they sometimes refuse to recognize digital versions of tickets, weird as it sounds. So if you’re sure that carrying your ticket in digital form works at the airport you’re travelling through, then fine. If you’re not sure, it’s probably better to print a copy. And if you’re eco-conscious, you could always print on used paper.

16. Pack a travel adaptor

If you’re carrying any electrical appliances on an international trip (think mobile phone, hair dryer or shaver) you should probably carry a travel adaptor, too. The plug points and power outlets could be different where you’re going, not to mention the voltage. So rather than having to hunt for an adaptor when you get there, it’s a good idea to pack one by default.

Travel adaptor - Packing tips from a regular traveller

We would’ve been lost in Uganda and Kenya without our trusty adaptor

17. Keep some cash in USD or Euro handy

When travelling abroad, keep some of your cash in US dollars or Euros, if you can. It can save a lot of space in your wallet, and they make for a handy backup in case you run out of local currency. They can be exchanged quite easily in most places, and locals sometimes accept them in place of local currency. It’s usually more economical to pay by cash than by card anyway—especially at airports. So if you have any spare US dollars or Euros hanging around, take them with you.

Do you have any packing tips you’ve learned on your travels? Leave a comment and let me know!

Also read: Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to tryz


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Wandering around Guatemala for about a month was a great experience full of opportunities to bring memories back home through the viewfinder. From the huge metropolis of Guatemala City to the little lakeside towns of lake Atitlan, every corner was a street-photography heaven. Don’t like street-photography? Well, just hike a couple of hours up to…

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If after spending a couple of days strolling around Jardin and are now looking to find a way to visit Salento’s wax palm valley, then this is the right post for you! Here follows a detailed article on how to move from Jardin to Salento all using local buses.

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Guatemala is a country that among others in Central America is very budget-friendly to travellers, especially backpackers. Finding cheap accomodation, food and transport can be easily accomplished as long as you stick to locals places instead of touristy areas often named “international” zones. Here follows a collection of our budget experience during our one-month roadtrip…

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Trip planning can be complicated depending on how much time you have and how many people there are to please. But, while I do like a bit of spontaneity, having an itinerary when I travel is always a big help! It makes sure I get done the big things on my list and can also save time and money. Below is the easiest way to lay out a trip!

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It’s been a couple years since I visited Grand Canyon National Park and I’ve spoken to quite a few people lately who are planning a trip there soon, so I figured it was about time I shared some information on one of the wonders of the world.

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Getting a Working Holiday visa is becoming more and more popular as people start to realize that travelling is awesome and don’t want to stop. But seeing this incredible world is pricey and unless you’re a super hot Instagram superstar (seriously, why are there so many?!), it takes a lot to save enough cash to fund your travels.

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Have you ever wondered what are the transport options to travel from the Cartagena to Santa Marta? Whether you’re looking to use buses, taxis or private minivans, we have it all covered! Just keep reading our post and you’ll discover the fastest and cheapest route that connect these two beautiful cities. By Bus If what…

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Getting a Working Holiday visa is becoming more and more popular as people start to realize that travelling is awesome and don’t want to stop. But seeing this incredible world is pricey and unless you’re a super hot Instagram superstar (seriously, why are there so many?!), it takes a lot to save enough cash to fund your travels.

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Working abroad sounds cool right? But there are a few things to consider before you step into this world of foreign 9-5 routine, just… keep reading! The Permit The first thing you’ll have to figure out is the working permit. Technically speaking, you need a working permit to work in any country of the world…

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It’s 9:32am on a bleak Monday morning and you’re sitting at your desk Googling holidays and wishing you were far, far away. You scroll through your Facebook and Instagram feeds envying Insta models (yes, they’re models because no one goes trekking through the jungle looking that perfect!), and you spend a good hour or so pinning new travel destinations to your endless Pinterest boards. You desperately want a holiday where you can just sit and be. Maybe with a drink (or two) in hand. Enter the all-inclusive holiday.

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After living sometime in Tamarindo its time for us to get back on the road and keep backpacking like we used to be. Unfortunately, whilst enjoying the life of the party town we realised that Costa Rica was very expensive for our current budget and agreed to leave for a future trip. In the future,…

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For as long as I can remember, I have suffered with Emetophobia, or vomit phobia as it is more commonly known. I can remember every instance of ever being sick from the age of around 3 as well as every time I have witnessed someone else being sick. It isn’t just that the smell and the noise makes me a little grossed out (I’m sure the majority of people would rather avoid seeing or being sick) – for me it is so much more than that and something I have battled for most of my life.

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Getting a Working Holiday visa is becoming more and more popular as people start to realize that travelling is awesome and don’t want to stop. But seeing this incredible world is pricey and unless you’re a super hot Instagram superstar (seriously, why are there so many?!), it takes a lot to save enough cash to fund your travels.

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Belize is definitely not a budget-friendly destination for those deciding to visit the country for a little or long while. The absence of hostels in most cities/towns and the high transport price will make your budget levitate but as usual cooking most of your food will save you a good penny. Here follows a collection…

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A word of advice from a savvy traveller: Download some useful travel apps before your trip. They’ll make your life so much easier.
You want to have the right travel apps on your phone not just because they’re useful, but also because using them will free up your time to enjoy your trip more.

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How did it all started? In the past Cuba has always had a rusty relationship with USA but amazingly enough the currency that could have been used around to pay goods in Cuba were the National Peso (CUP) and US dollar (USD). In 1994, the Cuban government introduced a new currency named the Cuban Convertible…

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#1 Infotour your best friend This travel company is state-owned and has the sole purpose of helping tourist to travel around Cuba. Here anyone can fetch maps for the most known locations within Cuba but also ask for tour prices, Viazul times and much more ! #2 Beware of the many fake guides/tour operators A…

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Travelling around Cuba on the usual backpacker budget is nothing easy to accomplished. Due to the closed economy of the country, the absence of hostels (which are substituted by homestays called casas particulares) and a whole transport system created for tourists, everything ends up being a little more expensive than your average latin america country….

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#1 The mystery of the green buses If you are wild enough to venture and use public buses you’ll also have to be brave enough to stop them! In fact, in India there is little info on where buses are going and at what time they are passing (in most towns apart from big cities)….

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Making a plan for your expenses on your trip is easy and will save you time, money and stress when you travel. Here is a step by step guide to creating you travel budget.

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After 10 days of visiting wonderful Western Australia, it was sadly time to begin our long trip back to Germany. Thankfully, we were able to stop in Bangkok for 4 nights on the way so our vacation was technically not officially over yet. We had flown to Perth from Singapore on Qantas (you can read our review here) and to get from Perth to Bangkok we were flying Thai Airways on their Boeing 787-8. We had redeemed United MileagePlus points for a one-way award flight. There is nothing better than free flights!

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India is definitely one of the most budget-friendly countries in the world. Independently of what you’re willing to spend, you can be sure that there’s gonna be the right option for you. Living with less than 10$/day, this including transport, food & some occasional tours, is possible. Here follows a collection of our budget experience…

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It is downright difficult to keep your head up when it seems like the world keeps kicking you when you are down. Sometimes we just go through tough times or tough years and it is hard to see beyond our troubles. One thing I always try to remind myself to do, even when I feel like nothing is going my way, is to be grateful. Whether you just make a list in your head or keep a journal, thinking about all the things you do have instead of all the things you don’t have will help you put life in perspective.

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What a beautiful part of the world! The 4 mile beach lined with palm trees is an incredible sight, especially at this time of year when it’s a little milder (28-30 degrees) lol.
The town is so relaxed and chilled, it was the perfect setting to enjoy some incredible food.

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Traveling can be an amazing experience, but it often comes with challenges when it comes to your health. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, interrupting your daily routine can throw your health off balance. Luckily there are precautionary steps you can take to keep your health on track while also enjoying your travel destination. Let’s look at the 6 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling.

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On the last leg of our trip to Western Australia, we stayed one night at the Hyatt Regency Perth Hotel. We were finishing our 10-day stay in the Western Australia area, having spent 5 nights in Perth at the Four Points by Sheraton Perth Hotel and then another 5 nights exploring the Margaret River wine region. For this stay, we used a free night certificate that we receive annually for being a Chase Hyatt credit card holder and allows us to stay at any Hyatt hotel that is category 1-5. We were happy to stay here, as it is a beautiful and comfortable hotel.

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We hadn’t planned on coming up to Palm Cove until friends mentioned how beautiful the area was. They weren’t wrong. This neck of the woods is stunning! When the wind dies down the water turns a light turquoise colour, becoming the perfect back drop for some top notch food. All the venues we visited were along Williams Esplanade, looking out through the palm trees and across the golden sand into the blue horizon. It was a mesmerising place and the chefs didn’t disappoint.

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Our time spent in Townsville was a hot one, spent sun baking on our roof top and dipping in and out of the pool. In between which we were treated to some exceptional food. There is a huge array of restaurants in Townsville and we could have easily visited another 10-15 top class establishments. My aim as always is to bring a varied selection, to accommodate all budgets and show off the fantastic talent Townsville has to offer. My picks are in no particular order, please check them out if you’re in the area, you’ll thank me later.

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It’s been a little more than year since I started this travel blog, and it’s been tough but fun! Though I’ve enjoyed writing everything I’ve published, here are the top 10 posts I’ve enjoyed writing the most.

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Mission Beach is a stunning place along the eastern coast of Tropical North Queensland. Even though it’s a quiet little town, there are still a few fantastic venues to grab a lovely meal. I’ve put together a list of my top 3 for Mission Beach, check them out if you’re in the area!

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I’ll never regret quitting a job to travel, but it’s returning afterwards that is always super tough. It’s easy to get depressed when you go from traveling and seeing and doing new and exciting things every day to sitting at home applying to jobs and being broke. I’ve been in this situation twice and it never feels good. After how down I felt the last time, I’m determined to stay positive this time around.

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Cairns is an amazing place. We happened to visit whilst the Commonwealth Games was on, so the place was hectic and had a fantastic atmosphere. The sun was out, the games were on, everyone was enjoying a schooner or 3 so what better to do than enjoy some quality food. I’ve put together our top picks from our time in Cairns in no particular order with options catering for all budgets, enjoy.

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Now that we have completed our 7 month trip from Argentina to Guatemala, I can speak with some authority on how to best prepare for a trip like this. There’s things we wish we knew beforehand and things that shocked us as well as trucks we learned along the way that I believe would be helpful for any backpacker down there. So here we go:

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We had the pleasure of being invited down to the Coolangatta branch of Black Sheep Espresso Baa. The coffee shop come eatery may be small in square footage but it’s massive in personality. Matt (the manager) and Matt (the chef) have done a great job in bringing an amazing atmosphere to the Coolangatta spot.

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As part of our trip to Western Australia, not only did we want to visit Perth, but also Margaret River. We wanted a few days to relax and explore this wonderful region. In preparation for our trip, we did a lot of research on on where to stay in Margaret River and finally chose the Margaret River Guest House.

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We’d been craving an authentic Italian restaurant for a while and when Andrea and the team invited us down to Double Zero Pizza that’s exactly what we got! With the roaring pizza oven, Italian chef and Sicilian Andrea at the helm, Double Zero is definitely a taste of Italy on the Gold Coast. The menu was fantastic, we went for the Parmiggiana di melenzane to start, homemade thick slices of grilled eggplant served with Napoli sauce and grilled mozzarella. The sauce was perfectly balanced and cheesy eggplant is just a dream, anyone who disagrees must have a problem…

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A fear years ago while watching the movie “Leap Year,” there was a specific lesson that grabbed my heart. The lesson was, if you could grab anything in 60 seconds in the case of a fire, what would it be? Would you grab material possessions such as laptops, car keys, money? Or would you grab the person you love, pets, photos, etc.? What would you grab? Well, this lesson still has stuck with me until this very day. It got me pondering what the more important things in life are.

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Reduce the impact of your travels on the environment and communities around you. Use these simple tips and tricks to be a more responsible traveller.

Seeing new places and experiencing new things are probably the most obvious reasons for travellers to travel. But the truth is that, as travellers, we almost inevitably have a negative impact—both on the environment and the communities in the areas we visit. So whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, in luxury or as a backpacker, and in the mountains or at the seaside, using some of these tips may just make your travel a little easier on the planet.

Also read: Eight easy ways in which you can be more environment-friendly


Travelling and sightseeing

1. Try and plan your journey in a straight line

The longer your travel route, the more fuel you potentially burn to get to your destination and the more carbon you emit. So if you’re taking multiple flights, you might want to consider avoiding a zig-zag route, and trying to schedule your stopovers in a straight line.

Flight to Paro, Bhutan - responsible traveller

On approach to Paro, Bhutan

2. Use your airline’s carbon offset program

Many airlines these days have some sort of carbon offset program that allows you to compensate for the fuel burnt on your journey by supporting greenhouse gas reduction projects for a nominal fee. The projects are different for each airline, from planting a certain number of trees per passenger and protection of virgin forests to renewable energy production, efficient domestic fuel consumption projects in developing countries and more. So pay a tiny bit extra and take a little of those carbon emissions back.

3. Try to avoid hiring a car or cab to sight-see

Once you get to your destination, you’ll probably want to see the sights. While hiring a car or taxi would be the easiest option, it’s also one of the most fuel-intensive. Think about reducing your fuel consumption by using public transport, carpooling with fellow visitors, or hiring a motorcycle instead of a car. You could even eliminate the need for fuel completely by cycling or walking—the last being arguably the best way to see a new place.

Motorcycle sightseeing in Coorg, India - responsible traveller

Through the fields and into the plantations in Coorg

4. Plan your schedule to avoid multiple trips in the same direction

Most places have things to see and do all over, so chances are you’ll be making lots of trips in different directions. If you are using vehicles to get around, try and plan your time so that you cover everything in a particular direction from your base at once—so you don’t have to burn extra fuel to go in the same direction again.

Also read: Don’t make these 10 travel mistakes that we did


Eating and drinking

5. Carry your own water bottle

The planet is reeling under the thousands of tons of plastic we throw away each month, so carrying your own refillable bottle is a great way of keeping a few more plastic bottles from floating around the world’s oceans. Refill your bottle whenever you can, and each time is one less ‘disposable’ bottle that gets thrown away.

6. Drink tap water wherever it’s safe

In most developed countries, it’s perfectly safe to drink water straight out of the tap. So try and do that wherever you can instead of buying bottled water. If you’re not completely sure, you should be able to use the electric kettle in your hotel room to boil the water for drinking (though how to balance the electricity consumed with the plastic saved is up to you). In many tropical countries, coconut water is easily available, and is a fun, healthy and tasty substitute for bottled water.

Coconut water between Puri and bhubaneshwar, Orissa (Odisha), India- responsible traveller

A young boy serves us fresh coconut water on the way to Puri from Bhubaneshwar

7. Ask that straws be left out of your drinks

If you order a cold drink in a restaurant or on the street, chances are that it’ll come with a plastic straw. These straws make up a significant percentage of the plastic that finds its way into the oceans, so the fewer straws the better! Remember to ask your server while you order, though—once it’s in your drink, taking it out probably mean that it’ll get thrown away anyway. And if you can’t survive without a straw, why not take your own along? There are even reusable glass and metal straws available out there!

8. Carry your own cutlery for street food

Street food everywhere is is the best way to get a flavour (pardon the pun) of the place you’re visiting. Sadly, it’s also often the best way to dump loads of single-use plastic cutlery into the environment. If you’re planning on a tasty street food outing, try and carry your own fork, knife and spoon along so one less set of plastic cutlery gets thrown away. Even better, you’ll know for sure that your own set is clean!

PLastic debris on Thinnakara, Lakshadweep, India- responsible traveller

Plastic debris washed up on remote Thinnakara, in the Lakshadweep Islands

9. Eat in smaller eateries instead of big restaurants

Most destinations have their big, touristy ‘must-visit’ restaurants with their throngs of out-of-town diners and fancy menus. Instead of eating in a place like that, why not visit a smaller local restaurant instead? Not only would that give you a more authentic experience, smaller restaurants also tend to source a lot of their ingredients locally, and indirectly use less fuel than they would if they were transporting their stuff in from far away.

10. Buy glass bottles and jars instead of plastic

It’s probably inevitable that you’ll want to—or have to—buy a bottled drink during one of your trips. But because glass is much less harmful to the environment—and much more likely to be recycled—than plastic, you might want to buy a drink in a glass bottle instead of a plastic one. And the same goes for things in jars too. Making peanut butter sandwiches for that picnic on the beach? Buy a glass jar instead of a plastic one.


11. Finish food or pack it up for later

Most restaurants you’ll eat at will probably serve you more than you can comfortably put away. If you’re willing to stuff yourself, then, by all means! But if not, you might want to think about packing it up to eat later instead of leaving it to be thrown away. Not only could it save you the cost involved in another meal, preparing food takes a lot of energy and fuel. Which means than any food wasted also means energy wasted in preparing it.

Also read: Turning vegetarian? Here are 10 tips from someone who’s done it


12. Try and book hotels that take sustainability seriously

More and more hotels are starting to realize that being environmentally and socially responsible isn’t really a choice anymore, and are starting give back. So whether a hotel uses solar power, recycles water, composts food waste or involves the local community, staying there will help reduce your own impact.

Bangaram island resort, Lakshadweep, India- responsible traveller

The Bangaram Island resort in Lakshadweep is partly powered by solar-generated electricity

13. Turn off appliances when leaving your room

Running appliances like lights, fans, heating and air-conditioning takes a lot of electricity (and producing electricity usually involves a lot of carbon emissions), especially when a large number of people are involved. So, unless you’re leaving your room for just a few minutes, turning off all the appliances before leaving will save a lot of electricity, and a lot of carbon. And though it’s understandable to want your room to be comfortable as soon as you walk in, it just takes a few minutes to cool down or warm up, right?

14. Turn the heating or AC down a notch, and dress to compensate

Heating and air-conditioning are extremely energy intensive, so whether you’re burning heating oil to stay warm or using electricity to stay cool, using a little less will make a difference. So if you can turn the heating or air-conditioning down a little, and wear an extra layer more or less to make up for it, why not?

15. Change your hotel towels and bedsheets only when you need to

Let’s be honest: do we really need our towels and bedsheets changed every day, the way they do it in lots of hotels? These things use a lot of water, detergent and electricity to clean—especially if they’re white and need to be ironed. So if you’re just staying for a few days, it shouldn’t be a problem to use the same sheets and towels, right? The housekeeping staff might be a little confused, though.

Blankets airing in the sun in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India- responsible traveller

Blankets being aired outside a neighbor’s house in Iyerpadi near Valparai

16. Take used bars of hotel soap with you

More likely than not, you’ve used those little bars of soap left for you in your hotel bathroom. If so, then you’re probably realized that even those tiny little bars take a few days to use up. So if you’ve only used one once or twice, why not take it along and use it later instead of opening a new one ? Used soap almost always gets thrown away, otherwise. Even better, why not carry your own soap and shampoo? That way, you won’t have to open any of the little bars or bottles in your bathroom.

Also read: An off-the-beaten-path Goan holiday


Other tips

17. Leave no waste behind

Litter is a huge problem in lots of beautiful destinations. Not only does it spoil things for other tourists, but it plays havoc with the local environment. Make sure you throw waste only into designated bins, and carry it with you if there aren’t any. Or you could step it up further by carrying recyclable waste like glass or plastic to a recycle bin or service. Remember that ‘disposable’ is just a nice word for ‘cheap to make and throw away’, and doesn’t include the word ‘safe’.

Doggies in rubbish, Thimphu, Bhutan- responsible traveller

Doggies nap in roadside rubbish in Thimphu, Bhutan

18. Be mindful of the water situation

Water is becoming very scarce in lots of parts of the world. Even in places where there’s lots of it, it takes huge amounts of energy to treat and supply it. So if you’re used to 30-minute showers or long soaks in the tub, ask a local about the availability of water. Then decide whether those are still worth it.

Camels in the desert near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India- responsible traveller

Camels relax on a sand dune near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

19. Pack a little less

A lot of the weight on planes, trains and buses is from luggage. And the heavier they are, the more fuel they burn. So see if you can pack a little less, cut down a little weight, and save a little fuel. Even if the benefit seems too tiny to care about, it all adds up. Using a smaller suitcase might even mean you don’t need to hire a big taxi to get around.

20. Bring back responsible souvenirs

Everyone likes to bring home a piece of the place they’ve just visited, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Was that tee-shirt you bought made in a sweatshop staffed by children? Was that coral necklace made with live coral hacked off a reef? Try and find something to remember a place by that isn’t harmful to the environment or the local communities. If you must buy something, government-run shops usually abide by local sustainability laws.

21. Visit during shoulder season

The on season is what it is because it’s the best time to visit a place. Sadly, for lots of destinations, it’s also the time when the number of visitors becomes almost unmanageable. With the sudden increase in residents, available resources are pushed to the limit. This usually means that the locals suffer while the visitors get the lion’s share. So think about visiting just before or after the on season. The experience will be almost as good, and you won’t be contributing to the resource crunch.

Have any more easy tips to be a responsible traveller? Leave a comment and let me know!

Also read: 5 great destinations to beat the heat—and the crowds—this summer

Shutterstock - airplane (By Faiz Zaki) - small - responsible traveller

(Cover image courtesy Shutterstock/Faiz Zaki)


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After spending some days in one of the warmest cities in Nicaragua, you might wander where could you go next. Thankfully, the city of Leon is not only the gateway to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala but is also extremely well connected with the rest of the country. Whether you’re planning to explore canyons &…

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Escape the Indian summer heat and the crowds of visitors in these amazing but relatively less touristy destinations.

Summer is here, and you’re dreaming of escaping the blazing heat of the plains and heading up into the cool and peaceful hills. The problem is, everyone else is too! So how do you get away from the heat, and still avoid being suffocated by heaving crowds of fellow tourists? These five destinations are booth cool and low on crowds, making them great options for a quick summer holiday.


1. Valparai, Tamil Nadu

Up in the Western Ghats in South India, on the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and just south of the ‘Palakkad gap’ in the hills, lies the little tea estate town of Valparai. With its serene hills, rolling tea plantations and abundant wildlife (the Anamalai and Parambikulam tiger reserves are right next door), Valparai is a great place for a relaxed few days away from the heat. Even better, it’s not very touristy, so you’ll have the hills mostly to yourself. And there are plenty of accommodation options in and around town—from low-budget lodges and homestays to more upmarket garden bungalows and cottages (including the brilliant Sinnadorai’s Bungalow). Just don’t expect posh food, and watch out for elephants and gaur while you’re there. Seriously.

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View of mountains through tea plantations in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India - an escape from the summer heat

Plantation symmetry

View of mountains from NCF basecamp in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India - an escape from the summer heat

The view from the NCF basecamp

A herd of gaur in a tea plantation in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India- an escape from the summer heat

A herd of female gaur and their calves

Bench with a hilltop view at Sinna Dorai's Bungalow, Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India - an escape from the summer heat

A bench with a view

Lion-tailed macaque in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India - an escape from the summer heat

A endangered lion-tailed macaque surveys its troop

2. Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

In the Nilgiri mountains of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, and an hour’s drive away from the famous hill station of Ooty, lies the less-known town of Coonoor. Though not as high up in the mountains as Ooty, Coonoor still has fabulous weather and a great continental food scene (Café Diem comes highly recommended), and has far fewer visitors than Ooty.

There are plenty of hotels, lodges and homestays to suit all budgets here, as well as in its sister-town of Wellington and in nearby Kotagiri, though staying in or close to the less congested upper Coonoor is recommended (The Great Escape homestay is a very nice option). All of these are great places from which to explore the mountains and enjoy the spectacular views. And while the drive up to Ooty is nice too, stay away from the ‘recommended’ sights near Ooty like Doddabetta Peak and Dolphin’s Nose if you don’t like crowds.

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Coonoor - Dolphins nose waterfall - an escape from the summer heat

A waterfall seen from our spot before Dolphin’s Nose

Long exposure of mountain train from Ooty to Coonoor - an escape from the summer heat

The mountain train from Ooty to Coonoor in the evening

Bonnet macaque investigating our picnic in Coonoor, India - an escape from the summer heat

A bonnet macaque on the Kotagiri road wants to investigate our tea and snacks

Coonoor - Wellington station - an escape from the summer heat

The 111 year-old Wellington station

View from Silvertip Cafe near Kotagiri, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India - an escape from the summer heat

Stopping for lunch at the Silvertip Cafe near Kotagiri


3. Kalimpong, West Bengal

Straddling two hills in the foothills of the Himalayas, and close to the north-eastern borders of India, lies Kalimpong. Though it’s part of West Bengal state, it’s close enough to Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim for its feel to be more Nepali than Bengali. And though it’s a popular retreat for people trying to get away from the oppressive Kolkata summer, it’s not nearly as crowded as nearby Darjeeling.

There are lots of budget accommodation options here, as well as some medium- and high-end hotels. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll probably have to hire a car or taxi when you’re there. And, as far as dining goes, it’s better to do as the locals do and stick to Nepali and Indo-Chinese cuisine. Other cuisines are available, but aren’t anything to write home about (a notable exception is the wonderful Café Refuel, with its automotive theme and continental menu).

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A mysterious misty road on Deolo Hill, Kalimpong, West Bengal, India - an escape from the summer heat

A mysterious misty track on Deolo Hill

Trekking along the Sillery trail near Kalimpong, West Bengal, India - an escape from the summer heat

Trekking along the Sillery trail

House under construction on Deolo Hill in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India - an escape from the summer heat

A house under construction on the side of Deolo Hill

Homestay cottage on the hillside near Kalimpong, West Bengal, India - an escape from the summer heat

A little homestay cottage on the side of the hill, on the road from Kalimpong to the Sikkim border

View of the Teesta from near Kalimpong, West Bengal, India - an escape from the summer heat

A view of the river Teesta

4. Leh, Jammu and Kashmir

Up north, in the Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir, lies the Ladakh plateau. And in Ladakh—called ‘the highest desert in the world’—lies the town of Leh. This town is one of the very few urban centers in the whole of Ladakh, which makes it the perfect base from which exploring the area’s rugged, otherworldly landscape. The dry plateau is fascinating in its varying shades of brown, dotted with hill-top monasteries and the occasional splash of green, as are the snowy mountain passes and the deep mountain lakes.

The town itself is charming, with a culture very obviously influenced by that of Tibet, just across the border. This also shows in the cuisine, with Tibetan and Indo-Chinese dominating the local food scene (you definitely need to try the soupy, noodle-y thukpa). Because the Indian army has a major base there, though, you’ll also find decent mainstream Indian food. There aren’t any real low-budget lodges here, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find affordable accommodation, and there are a few high-end hotels to choose from as well. Just make sure you give yourself a day or two to get used to the thin air when you land. Altitude sickness is very real here.

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Elephant shaped rock on top of a mountain in Ladakh, India - an escape from the summer heat

An elephant-headed guardian seems to emerge from the mountain

Splashes of green provide some relief from the browns of the countryside in Ladakh, India - an escape from the summer heat

Splashes of green provide some relief from the browns of the countryside

An inviting-looking hilltop monastery on the Leh-Srinigar highway in Ladakh, India - an escape from the summer heat

An inviting-looking hilltop monastery

On the Leh-Srinagar highway in Ladakh, India - an escape from the summer heat

The road is an invitation to keep going

Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh, India - an escape from the summer heat

On approach to Pangong Tso lake


5. Bhutan

If you have an Indian passport, this could well be the best option in this list. A hop across India’s north-east border and you’re in the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan, with its lush green mountains, impressive Buddhist-style buildings, and incredibly spicy food. You can even pay in Indian rupees. But you’ll probably be given change in the local currency, the Bhutanese ngultrum (no, not a typo). If you have a non-Indian passport, though, you’ll have to go on a pricey, tightly-regulated government-organized tour.

Besides admiring Bhutan’s natural beauty, you should also take a look at its majestic dzongs (a combination of Buddhist monastery, government center and military fortress), and its amazing monasteries. The dzong at the former capital of Punakha is probably the most impressive and is definitely worth a visit. And even if you do nothing else in Bhutan, make sure you do the three-hour trek up to the fairy-tale Tiger’s Nest monastery.  A couple of things to watch out for, though: the local food is spicy enough to blow anyone’s socks off, so you might want to stick to Indian or Chinese food; and the whole country is no-smoking, so leave any cigarettes behind.

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The trek up to the tiger's nest - taktsang - monastery near Paro, Bhutan - an escape from the summer heat

Almost there, on the trek up to the Tiger’s Nest

A towering building in Punakha dzong, Bhutan - an escape from the summer heat

A towering building in Punakha dzong

The view from Chelela pass, Bhutan - an escape from the summer heat

The view from Chelela pass

The dochula chorten on the way to Punakha, Bhutan - an escape from the summer heat

The columns of Dochula chorten

Have any recommendations for less crowded summer destinations? Leave a comment and let me know!


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We actually stayed for free at this Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Perth. We are part of the SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) program and had some points to redeem. At the time of booking, the Four Points Perth was a category 3 hotel, meaning that it cost 7,000 Starwood points per night. Starwood has a feature where if you redeem for 5 nights, the last night is free. So the total point cost for our 5-night stay was 28,000 points. We found this to be a really good value in an expensive country such as Australia.

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This morning I watched a Facebook video about how we sacrifice our health by working so much for the sake of wealth. This video pointed out that not enough people follow their passion and feel like they have to fit in their passions only in their small amount of free time. I’ve done this, and so have millions of people each day. I’ve worked the dreaded jobs that make me feel trapped in a prison and disable my creativity. Ever since I could remember, I have struggled with high amounts of the anxiety that push me to the limit. This anxiety in a workplace is limiting and frustrating. It can really do a number on your health and happiness. I think most people in society today can relate to this. I’ve put together a few reasons why working full-time may not be meant for me.

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After a fun time in Bangkok and Singapore, it was time to head to our next destination: Australia! We were headed from Singapore to Perth and a few months prior; I had been researching cheap ways of flying between the two cities. I ended up redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles for 2 one-way economy class tickets on Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas.

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When we decided to extend our Bali Visa for another 30 days, we didn’t really have any idea of how to go about it. We tried to find up to date information about the process online but it was few and far between.
Most websites will advice getting a Visa agent to do all the dirty work for you because as you will find out, its a little more time consuming than anyone would like!

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Belize offers opportunities to take awesome photographs pretty much everywhere you go. From the further north featuring a great duo of Rum & Ruins to the deep south filled with Relax & Nature, all around the country you won’t stop snapping. Here’s a list of the top 5 places that any photographer should not miss…

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As someone always on the lookout for new experiences, when my friend Lola texted me about a local sage-making class I was immediately in. We’ve been using local Instagram accounts to find more and more exciting stuff to do. I also have a passing interest in any kind of “new age” or “mystical” stuff, so learning how to make sage bundles sounded really exciting!

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On our trip from Bangkok to Perth, we stopped over in Singapore and were on a search for a reasonably priced hotel to spend 3 nights. We are Marriott and Starwood Gold members and after researching our options, we settled on the Four Points by Sheraton Singapore Riverview Hotel. We were very happy with our decision. Singapore is an expensive decision and we found the Four Points to be an exceptional value.

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Try these vegetarian dishes for a quick snapshot of India’s enormously varied cuisine the next time you’re travelling around the country.

India has innumerable cuisines, and flavours vary from state to state—and often within states. Here are 12 vegetarian dishes, from 12 different states, that we’ve eaten and loved during our travels.

Of course, there are many more states and many more dishes, but one has to start somewhere!

Also read: 6 unexpectedly great restaurants for vegetarians in Hyderabad


Andhra Pradesh: Ulavacharu

This thick, dark-brown curry is made from horse gram and has an earthy, sweet-sour taste. It’s often made during special occasions, served with a dollop of cream and eaten with rice. It looks almost exactly like chocolate sauce, so you might want to make sure before you dig in. You also might take some time to get used to the flavour. If you’re in Hyderabad, The Spicy Venue—an unexpectedly good restaurant for vegetarians—does a great ulavacharu.

Check out this great ulavacharu recipe from Foodvedam.

Uluvacharu (horsegram curry) - Andhra Pradesh - vegetarian dishes from India

Earthy, chocolate-brown uluvacharu (image courtesy Foodvedam)

Goa: Amado curry

Amado, also called amade or ambade, and called hog plum in English, is a sour, spongy fruit that looks a little like a small unripe mango. This fruit is cooked in a light and tangy curry, which is usually made only at home. At least, when we visited Goa, it was only the family with whom we were staying who made it for us. Don’t be surprised if you can’t bite through the whole fruit, though. Only the outer flesh is edible, even though the whole fruit is cooked in the curry. The rest is a bit like a hard sponge, which you can chew if you want more of its sour juice.

Big Fat Tummy has a recipe for amado curry that you should take a look at.

amado curry - tangy hog plum curry - Goa - vegetarian dishes from India

The light and tangy amado curry (image courtesy Big Fat Tummy)


Gujarat: Jalebi

These popular sweet, crunchy spirals are, of course, available all over India. But in Gujarat, where they’re traditionally eaten for breakfast, they’ve been taken to a different level. They’re usually paired with the savoury fafda, which balances the extreme sweetness of the jalebis. The best jalebis we’ve ever eaten were in Bhuj during our visit to Gujarat’s Kutch district, in the upmarket Hotel Prince as part of their lavish dinner thali. But if you’re pinched for time, you can get your jalebi fix at any time of day, anywhere in Gujarat.

Jalebi, a popular Indian sweet - Gujarat - vegetarian dishes from India

Crunchy, super-sweet jalebis (image courtesy Lion.harvinder via Wikimedia Commons)

Jammu and Kashmir: Thukpa

This dish is actually from the Ladakh region of this state, which—since it’s on the border with Tibet—is probably why this Tibetan dish is so popular. Thukpa is a warm, satisfying soupy dish of broth, noodles and vegetables, and is a meal on its own—which we found perfect for the cold summers and freezing winters of Ladakh. Beware, though: Thukpa has many non-vegetarian versions as well, so be careful when you order. It’s also a little messy to eat, so don’t worry if you’re splashing soup all over while slurping your noodles.

Thukpa - noodle and vegetable soup - Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir - vegetarian dishes from India

A steaming bowl of thukpa is perfect for the cold (image courtesy Lillottama via Wikimedia Commons)


Karnataka: Menaskai

This is a popular dish served during weddings and other occasions in the coastal Mangalore region of the state. It’s a spicy sweet-and-sour dish that can be made with different kinds of vegetables. The most popular version, though, is made with pineapple, which makes the dish even sweeter and richer than otherwise. This was the stand-out dish for us during our day in Mangalore at the end of our recent trip to Coorg—one bite and we understood why it’s served on special occasions.

Menaskai - spice sweet and sour curry - Mangalore, Karnataka - vegetarian dishes from India

Spicy, sweet-and-sour menaskai (image courtesy Kart217 via Wikimedia Commons)

Kerala: Avial

This is a lightly flavoured dish of mixed vegetables cooked with curd and coconut, and is made either with a thin or thick gravy. Avial is one of the dishes served as part of the traditional Kerala ‘sadhya’ or vegetarian banquet, and is eaten with rice. Fresh and light, this is the perfect dish to eat in the hot and humid Kerala climate. Definitely one of my favourites dishes from ‘God’s own country’.

Avial - mixed vegetable curry with coconut - Kerala - vegetarian dishes from India

Light avial is perfect for the hot, humid Kerala weather (image courtesy Samphotography via Wikimedia Commons)


Lakshadweep: Parotta

The cuisine in the island state of Lakshadweep is heavily influenced by that of Kerala, the nearest state on the mainland. It’s no surprise, then, that the layered, delightfully flaky parotta is found wherever you go on these islands. When we were there, we ate parottas with anda burji (Indian-style scrambled eggs), but they’re usually eaten with a gravy of meat or vegetables.

Parotta - flaky layered flatbread - Lakshadweep - vegetarian dishes from India

The flaky layered parotta is great with gravy (image courtesy Charles Haynes via Wikimedia Commons)

Also read: A simple, hearty, guilt-free salad: Broccoli and crispy potato with honey-mustard vinaigrette

Maharashtra: Misal pav

Technically, misal pav is a really a snack and not a meal. But it’s satisfying enough for there not to be much difference. A popular street food across Maharashtra, missal is a mixture of bean sprout curry, spiced boiled potatoes and any number of crunchy fried snacks covered with thin, spicy gravy and sprinkled with chopped onions. It is served with pav—small square loaves of bread.

Misal pav - mixed snacks with spicy gravy and bread - Maharashtra - vegetarian dishes from India

Spicy misal pav is great as a filling snack or light meal (image courtesy The Uncomplicated Cook)


Rajasthan: Dal baati

One of the main staples of Rajasthani cuisine, dal baati is a simple dish of baked wholewheat dough balls served with yellow dal (lentils). The fresh baati are broken into small pieces before being mixed with ghee and dal and then eaten. Even though this is a simple dish, it is very satisfying, with the ghee giving it an extra dose of richness—something we experienced a lot during our trip to Rajasthan.

Dal baati choorma - wholewheat balls with lentils - Rajasthan - vegetarian dishes from India

Simple, yet rich and satisfying (image courtesy Sumit Surai via Wikimedia Commons)

Tamil Nadu: Kootu

Kootu is a lightly-flavoured dish of vegetables and lentils, and is one of the main dishes served as part of the Tamil ‘virundhu saappadu’ or vegetarian banquet. Different variations of kootu can be made with different vegetables and types of lentils, but all are served with rice. We had the opportunity to try lots of different variants of this tasty dish during our trip through southern Tamil Nadu.

Kootu - vegetables and lentils - Taamil Nadu - vegetarian dishes from India

Kootu made with vallarai keerai, a leafy vegetable (image courtesy Kalaiselvi Murugesan via Wikimedia Commons)

Telangana: Pachi pulusu

Roughly translated as ‘uncooked curry’, pachi pulusu is a sweet-and-sour variant of the South Indian rasam. It is made with tamarind water and jaggery, and flavoured with onions, chillies and tempered spices. It isn’t heated during preparation, and is served cold with rice. This makes it perfect during the hot summer months. If you’re looking for great pachi pulusu in Hyderabad, try The Spicy Venue.

Head over to Foodvedam for a nice pachi pulusu recipe.

pachi pulusu - uncooked sweet, spicy tamarind water - Telangana - vegetarian dishes from India

Cool, sweet, sour and spicy pachi pulusu is great during the hot summer (image courtesy Foodvedam)


West Bengal: Momo

These delicate little parcels of dough stuffed with minced vegetables are a staple in the northern parts of West Bengal, and are very popular in the rest of the state too. Light but still satisfying, a plate of steaming hot bite-sized momos served with their typical spicy sauce make for either a tasty snack or a filling meal, regardless of the weather. Make sure you ask for the vegetarian version when you order, though. We had a very pleasant lunch one day during our time in Kalimpong, which we spent eating plate after plate of fresh vegetable momos at a tiny shack overlooking a valley.

Momos - delicate filled dumplings - West Bengal - vegetarian dishes from India

Steaming momos are perfect as snack or main meal (image courtesy RMT via Wikimedia Commons)

Bonus! Bhutan: Ema datse

Here’s an extra tip, in case you want to hop over India’s northeastern border.

The tiny little Himalayan country of Bhutan is known for its spectacular natural beauty, imposing Buddhist architecture—and its fiery national dish, ema datse. Literally translated as ‘chillies and cheese’, this simple but incredibly spicy dish uses green chillies as its main vegetable component, paired with onions and yak cheese. We were curious during our visit to Bhutan, so we decided to try it at a restaurant, and found it too spicy even for our experienced tastes. Maybe the spiciness of their cuisine is a way for the Bhutanese to deal with the Himalayan cold…

ema datse - chillies and yak cheese - bhutan

Spicy enough to blow the top of your head off! (image courtesy Sunkissedguy via Wikimedia Commons)

Also read: Turning vegetarian? Here are 10 tips from someone who’s done it


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It’s February. It’s FREEZING. Sometimes there’s nothing else for it but to put on a good film and escape to some beautiful corner of the globe for a couple of hours.
I’m a huge film fan and there are certain films that I always reach for when I need a bit of inspiration or to quench my wanderlust on a Sunday night… here are 10 of my all-time favourites.

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As many of our followers are travelling couples like ourselves, we thought we’d pop in a useful blog for a cheap activity! Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Sabah’s fantastic islands as well as Mt Kinabalu but at night, other than the amazing restaurants there’s not many things to do.

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Responsible Tourism
February 82018

When you travel are you aware of the impact you are having on the local communities? Do you visit towns known for their parties? There’s a lot of ugly tourism in this world and people ignorant to its impacts on the local cultures. Entire towns, islands, and even regions have developed reputations for party tourism and even the hideous sex tourism. How can we be positive contributors to the societies we visit and not negatively impact these beautiful places? There is a way, but it takes abstaining from reckless behavior, respect for locals, and a desire to be a part of a more positive movement in tourism.

We are currently in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua most popularly known for its great surrounding surf beaches and the infamous “Sunday Funday!” Walking down the streets in San Juan, it is easy to see that tourism has left its mark here.

Half of the businesses are owned by expats, most of the faces on the streets are white, and the language most commonly heard is English. San Juan not only attracts the younger demographics, but also the retirees looking for a simpler life. It’s an extremely pleasant place to live. Unfortunately, this influx of expats to the town and the all-day bar crawl that is Sunday Funday, have an ugly side for locals. After talking to a local family over lunch, we were told many times how much they don’t like this type of party-tourism and how it’s ruining their culture.

This type of party tourism happens across the globe. Towns like Luang Prabang in Lao develop reputations as party meccas and young travelers flock to them. Sadly, I watched a documentary about how destructive those reputations can be on towns like Luang, where tourists die every year from reckless behavior and local youth abandon future plans to join the tourists and sell drugs. Luang actually tried to shut this whole party down in their town after too many tourist deaths.

I’m guilty of visiting the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand for the full moon party when I was 25. You could tell the island benefited financially from the monthly parties, but also that the whole culture around it was very destructive to the island and the culture. I would never go to that again. The beaches got trashed with litter, locals got involved in drug dealing, and kids drank beyond their limits.

I understand the appeal for 18-25 year olds to live out those college fantasies of partying abroad. I used to watch MTV Spring break in Cancun enviously, when I was 12. It looked like a blast to party like that on the beach. When I finally reached college-age though, I had zero desire to spend my spring breaks in Cancun or Florida getting trashed. Instead, I attended Alternative Spring Break trips where we volunteered at an important service learning project for a week. It left a greater impact on my life than waking up with my head in a toilet ever would.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not a prude. I’ve partied hard like the best of them, but now as I get older and see traveling in a different light, I see how destructive and disrespectful these parties are to local cultures. We are currently volunteering in San Juan del Sur at an amazing organization called Comunidad Connect and not attending Sunday Funday.

I challenge you to think before you partake in behaviors that are disruptive to the cultures you are visiting. How would you feel if every weekend or month, people from other countries came to your town and drank excessively, puked on your doorstep, and damaged your property. I doubt you’d be pleased.

There’s better ways to have fun and you can even enjoy a drink responsibly while doing them. You can volunteer for a week in local communities, take foreign language classes, attend cultural events or dance classes, learn to surf, go trekking, donate to local causes, and so much more. Go on a wine tour or a brewery tour. I just ask that people think twice about engaging in tourism that is ugly and not only mistreats your body, but someone else’s town and culture.

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After spending several wonderful days in Bangkok, we needed to head down to Singapore where we would be departing for our trip to Western Australia a few days later. Bangkok and Singapore are separated by approximately 2 and a half hours flying time and there is no shortage of airlines flying between these two cities.

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As humans, we overcome obstacles that we have to push through even when they get to the breaking point. When they get to a breaking point, it can be very easy to just throw your hands up and surrender. As a travel blogger, I have faced many obstacles and different encounters that have strengthened me as a person. When you travel, it opens up your world to new things and new situations. Well, how about when you’re told you can’t travel? Well, this is where my breaking point is. Recently, I travelled up here to the Pacific Northwest in my van and encountered some obstacles as soon as I arrived. These obstacles were issues with my van and the amount of money I had to live on. When you are a fulltime blogger, there is never a steady flow of income or what you can expect. This is a sporadic process that gives you more some months or less than others. I had to think quick, and that was to start job searching. Only 8 months ago did I quit my 9-5, and now I am hoping right back into that train.

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“Pura vida,” the older couple shouts over their shoulder at us as they walk away. We are starting to catch on that this comment is the popular tag line of Costa Rica and the white tourists are eating it up. Everyone ends and starts their conversations here by cheerfully spouting off the words like a…

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Discovering the Ruta de Las Flores at your own pace feels like passing through a short summary of all the great things that El Salvador has to offer. Starting from Sonsonate, the route brings you through a number of gorgeous villages, each with its own particularity and unique architectural beauty, to finish off in the…

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In the van life community, having a companion with you is something that is relatively common. Having a furry friend on those lonely nights can be a comfort to most who have them. If you look at the ratio of van companions, most of them tend to be dogs for security and a best friend. What about having a cat? Well, that is something that is less seen.

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I’ve been on lots of road trips growing up.
My family and I traveled a lot to take my brother to hockey tournaments in lots of different states. Because of this, I have nostalgic memories of being woken up before the sun rose, wrapping myself in my comforter, and bringing a bag of books to the backseat. And when the sun was up, I loved watching the sky, inspecting little pass-through towns, and having long quiet talks with whoever was awake. (Of course, there was lots of fighting with my brother too.)

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When it comes to the blogging community, there are thousands of bloggers all over the world. Each blogger has their unique voice, style, and persona that they want to share with their world. When starting a blog, it can be an overwhelming experience because you are afraid what people will think of you and how they will perceive you. This is a common fear among most new bloggers even including those bloggers who have been around for a while. For those who are lucky enough to find the diverse blogging community on social media, here are some things that can help you find your place in the world of blogging.

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We’ve made our fair share of mistakes while travelling the world, some of them could have turned out much worse than they did. Don’t make these 10 travel mistakes that we did, or you might not be so lucky.

We’ve been travelling around India and the world for 10 years now, and we’ve made our share of mistakes—and learned from them. Most of them haven’t been all that bad, but if we hand’t been lucky, some could have been much worse. So here, in no particular order, are 10 travel mistakes we made that you shouldn’t.

Also read: 20 things you need to know when you visit India

1. Don’t trust your GPS too much

On one of our early visits to Hampi—the ruins of the capital city of Vijayanagara, an ancient and powerful South Indian kingdom—we drove the 400-odd kilometres down from Hyderabad. Not only did we want to see evocative ancient palaces and temples built from solid granite, but also the incredible rocky ridges around Hampi from which the stone was sourced (like the ones in Hyderabad, but on steroids). We weren’t very familiar with the route, but trusted that our GPS would get us there with no problem. Ha.

Everything went fine for most of the eight-hour trip, and the GPS led us faithfully through the South Indian countryside. It was evening when we got to Anegundi, a little village just across the Tunghabhadra river from Hampi. We were relieved that we would soon be there, because the trip had been quite tiring. There was only one problem: there was no bridge. The GPS had pointed us at the river and was urging us to drive across a bridge that wasn’t there!

We finally had to backtrack and find another way across the river from Gangavati, a detour that cost us an extra hour of driving. It could have been worse, though. If there hadn’t been a bridge at Gangavati, we would have to drive down to Hospet and then back up the other side of the river to Hampi—at two hour detour.

(Something similar happened to us during a recent trip to Coorg too, to our irritation.)

Travel lesson learned

When driving long-distance using GPS navigation, carry a road atlas along too and consult it every once in a while. If not, at least zoom into your route and check if there’s a better way.

Closeup of Ugra Narasimha statue in Hampi, Karnataka, India - travel mistakes we made

A close-up of the intimidating statue of Ugra Narasimha in Hampi

Also read: Millennia back in time: The magnificent temples of Madurai and Tanjore in South India


2. Don’t try to find your railway compartment from outside the train in Germany

A few years ago, we had planned ourselves a long three-week road trip through Germany. After a nine-hour flight with non-functioning reading lights and entertainment systems, we thought nothing else could go wrong. That was not the case.

Frankfurt airport has a railway station underneath, with platforms for both short- and long-distance trains. We were to catch the train to Wuppertal, and spend a few days there exploring the city and nearby Cologne. We bought tickets for the last train to Wuppertal, and got to the platform in good time. Our train arrived about 20 minutes later, and we ambled over to the closest compartment, where we met a conductor. This person told us that only the last compartment would go all the way to Wuppertal.

This wasn’t unusual, so we started walking down the platform towards the back of the train. Suddenly, the train whistled and, to our shock, the automatic doors hissed shut! Before we could figure out what was going on, the train pulled smoothly out of the station, leaving us behind. If we had known that the train doors had an ‘open’ button we might have been able to get on!

As we were trying to come to terms with having to spend a night in Frankfurt, we caught sight of a train on the next platform with the word ‘Wuppertal’ on it. Without hesitation, we bundled in. It turned out to be the train that was scheduled before ours, but which was running late! If it hadn’t been late, we would have wasted lots of time and money overnighting in Frankfurt.

Travel lesson learned

In Germany, get on the train before trying to find your compartment, and use the button to open the automatic doors if you must.

Evening picture of Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany - travel mistakes we made

Cologne cathedral, taken from the far end of the square. And it still doesn’t fit in the frame!

Also read: 20 spectacular travel pictures we’ve taken so far

3. Don’t get too ambitious during a road trip

One of our most epic road trips so far has been a 2,000-kilometer motorcycle tour from Hyderabad up India’s east coast to Kolkata, passing through Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar on the way. We thought we would spend three days riding through the plains to Kolkata, and then another two riding into the Himalayan foothills from there, to Kalimpong. Life had other plans.

We were a group of four bikes, and on the second day, one of them started getting a little cranky. The third day went in the owner trying to get it fixed in Bhubaneshwar, while the rest of us took a look at nearby Puri and Konark. By the time we got to Kolkata, it was clear that the bike wouldn’t make it into the mountains.

In a way, we were a little relieved, because it was much colder than expected in Kolkata. Kalimpong would have been freezing—something we hadn’t counted on. Luckily, we hadn’t made any hotel bookings in Kalimpong, or we might have lost some money there. So we rode down to Mandarmoni instead, and spent a few days at the beach!

Travel lesson learned

On a road trip, build some buffer time into your schedule in case things don’t go completely according to plan.

Bike on the beach at sunset in Mandarmoni, West Bengal, India - travel mistakes we made

Contemplating life at sunset on Mandarmani beach

Also read: How we lived the island life for a few days in the Andamans


4. Don’t arrive at your hotel without independently confirming your booking

After driving through Germany for three weeks a few years ago, the last leg of our trip was a week-long visit to London and Cambridge. At some point during our time in Germany, we had used travel website Expedia to book ourselves a hotel in London. Just off Bayswater road next to Hyde Park, it was a great location and perfect for us to both explore the city and meet friends who lived nearby. And after three weeks of driving, we looked forward to some rest and relaxation. Ah, well.

Once we found our way out of Heathrow airport, we were picked up by a smart-looking cab driver who then proceeded to stretch our nerves to the breaking point by messaging on his phone all the way to the hotel. I didn’t want to give him a tip at the end, but was too tired to argue. The hotel looked nice enough, though, and we were looking forward to a good night’s sleep. But when we wanted to check in, they didn’t have any reservation in our names. Worse still, they were fully booked!

After much fretting and fuming, they managed to give us one windowless room in the basement. But there were three of us, so they negotiated a room for us in another hotel on the same road. Happily, we were put into better rooms next to each other the next day. We then proceeded to spend a few happy days recuperating in London before heading off to Cambridge.

Travel lesson learned

When booking a hotel through a travel website, always contact the hotel later to confirm that they have your booking. Even if your booking receipt says it isn’t necessary!

View of Tower Bridge from inside the Tower of London - travel mistakes we made

A view of Tower Bridge from inside the Tower of London

Also read: Eight great things to experience while visiting Bhutan

5. Don’t assume that places will be open when you get there

We had recently planned a trip through southern Tamil Nadu to Madurai, Thanjavur (Tanjore) and Valparai, and the most convenient way for us to get there was to fly to Madurai and then take a taxi to Thanjavur. And we thought that, since we would be landing there anyway, we could spend a few hours thoroughly exploring Madurai’s legendary Meenakshi temple. Not.

We boarded our flight from Hyderabad in good time, and spent it watching the alternating green and brown landscape unfolding below us. It was only just before we landed, and while reading through our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook on South India, that we realized that the temple is closed from 12:30 to 3:30 PM—and that we were arriving at exactly the wrong time!

Our taxi driver confirmed our fears: the temple would be closed when we got there. If we had known, we would have flown in a day earlier. But we resolved to make the best of the situation, and asked him to take us there anyway. And we were happy that we did. Even from outside, the towering gopurams—the gateway towers—of the temple are awe-inspiring, and the intricately carved pillars of the Pudumandapam pilgrim hall are a sight to behold! Having seen the outside, we can’t wait to see the rest of it soon.

Travel lesson learned

Check the times during which sights you want to see are open for visitors, and plan your schedule around them.

Carved yali (Tiger, horse and elephant) at the Pudumandapa, Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India - travel mistakes we made

An incredibly intricate yali statue stands in the Pudumandapa near the Meenakshi temple in Madurai

Also read: Eight great reasons why you should visit ‘the land of kings’


6. Don’t look for good local food without asking the locals

When we planned a long weekend stay in Agonda in Goa just over a year ago, we had great expectations. On one of our previous visits to Goa, we had gone a little off the beaten track by staying in a homestay far away from the coast. This time, we were looking forward to some quiet beach time, brilliant sunsets and great Goan food. Two out of three.

We got to our little beach camp in Agonda courtesy a friendly local taxi driver, and were immediately charmed by the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. The beach was great, there were lots of eateries everywhere, and there was plenty to do around Agonda, too. But, for the life of us, we couldn’t find any decent local food. Every restaurant seemed to serve European and Middle-Eastern food, with a few standard ‘Indian’ (read Punjabi) dishes on the menu. And even if they did serve Goan food, we could tell it was a bit watered down.

It was only when we were leaving that our taxi driver—the same one—told us the secret. The best local food in Agonda is in the modest bars on the small roads away from the beach. We were kicking ourselves all the way back home.

Travel lesson learned

If you want to sample authentic local cuisine, ask a local to point you in the right direction.

Cold beer in steel mugs on Talpona beach near Agonda in Goa, India - travel mistakes we made

A couple of cold ones on Talpona beach

Also read: Turning vegetarian? Here are 10 tips from someone who’s done it

7. Don’t forget to check your mobile plan before crossing a border

We were staying in the little town of Ainring in Bavaria during our three-week road trip through Germany, and we decided to do a day trip to Salzburg. This famous Austrian city was just across the border, and our visas allowed us entry into the country, so we hopped into the car and drove off. We had most of the day, and though we expected some delay at the border, we also expected to have a great time. Reality was a little different.

We got a rude surprise as soon as we crossed the border. The mobile data on our phones disappeared, and with it all but the most basic information on our mobile GPS! We had gotten so used to crossing borders without a problem, we never wondered whether our mobile plans would, too! We initially didn’t let it bother us too much because we were using the car’s inbuilt ‘navi’ to get around. But we felt the loss keenly once we started trying to explore the city on foot. Though we had a basic guidebook with us, it didn’t really tell us how to get from place to place. And that was really what we needed.

We did manage to find our way up to the famous Hohensalzburg castle that sits on a hill in the old town. But when we tried to find a place to eat with a nice view, no amount of trial an error worked. We finally ended up not having lunch at all, to give us time to cross the border. The crossing back into Germany turned out much faster than we expected, though. We finally grabbed a bite to eat back in Ainring, grumpy that we couldn’t make the most of our trip to Salzburg.

Travel lesson learned

If you use your mobile GPS to find your way around, make sure your data plan works everywhere you’re visiting.

View of the old town in Salzburg, Austria showing Salzburg Cathedral - travel mistakes we made

View of the old town, with the Salzburg Cathedral taking centerstage

Also read: 5 awesome mountain holiday destinations in India


8. Don’t ignore the advice of more experienced voices when booking transport

On our recent trip through southern Tamil Nadu covering Madurai, Thanjavur (Tanjore) and Valparai, we decided to book a car and driver for the whole trip of five days, beginning in Madurai and ending at Coimbatore airport. Though it was a little expensive, we thought that—since we were meeting family in Thanjavur and then driving to Valparai, and we couldn’t all fit into their car—this arrangement made sense. Not so much.

We were initially told that we should book a car from Madurai through Thanjavur and to Valparai only. We could then drive around Valparai in the family car for the two days we were there. And on the last day, we could take a local taxi to Coimbatore airport. But because the overall costs were similar, we decided to book the car for the whole trip instead.

What we didn’t count on was lots of miscommunication between us, the driver and the taxi company. We ended up paying significantly more than what was agreed on, despite not really using the car in Valparai!

Travel lesson learned

When people with more local experience give you advice on how to plan your transportation, take it.

Tea plantation road at sunset in Valparai, Anamalai Hills, Tamil Nadu, India - travel mistakes we made

The plantation road past the guesthouse and basecamp

Also read: A perfect long weekend among the hills and tea plantations of Coonoor

9. Don’t assume wait-listed train tickets in India will be confirmed, however likely it seems

A few years ago, we visited Rajasthan and saw Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur. We had been looking forward to this trip, and because we didn’t have much time there, we began planning months in advance. When we finally boarded the flight to Jaipur, we were sure everything would go according to plan. We were wrong.

We had quite a good time in Jaipur, seeing the Hawa Mahal and partying on the ramparts of Jaigarh Fort, but when the time came to catch the train to Jodhpur, we were stumped. Our tickets had been booked months ago, and were wait-listed in the low single digits. Experience told us that our tickets would be confirmed well before our travel date, so we didn’t worry. But when we checked the status the evening we were to leave, we were in for a shock. One ticket was still wait-listed!

We finally had to cancel our tickets and hire a taxi to drive us all the way to Jodhpur. Not only did we end up losing an entire day on our already tight schedule, we had to throw our budget out of the window to pay for the taxi (we also had to drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur because our flight was cancelled, but that wasn’t our fault).

Travel lesson learned

When travelling in India, make sure your train tickets are confirmed before you start out on your travels.

Silhouette of a camel against the sunset in the desert near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India - travel mistakes we made

Silhouette of a camel against the sunset in the desert near Jaisalmer

Also read: This magnificent forgotten necropolis is a must-see in Hyderabad


10. Don’t just go by the guidebook, but a do little more research

Our recent trip to Coorg in Karnataka was something we had wanted to do for a long time. We had heard a lot about it, and were looking forward to experiencing its pristine waterfalls and quiet panoramas. No such luck.

On the recommendation of a friend, we had booked a room in a homestay in the middle of a coffee plantation close to the main town of Madikeri, and it turned out to be every bit as nice as promised. With that as a base, we hired a motorcycle and started exploring the surroundings. For starters, Coorg turned out to be really hot during the day, and quite chilly at night—a dangerous combination for people like me who are prone to catching cold. We also found that all the recommended sights were overflowing with raucous tourists, which made it no fun at all! And lastly, we read some depressing reviews about the famous camp for retired forestry elephants in Dubare, and decided we didn’t want to find out if they were true.

So instead of doing all the usual recommended touristy things, we ended up just riding through the back roads of the Coorg hills without any real plan, and found that a much more rewarding experience than seeing the sights.

Travel lesson learned

Even if you’ve heard good things about a place, it pays to do some proper research on what things there are really like before you visit.

Bridge across the river at Abbey falls near Madikeri, Coorg, Karnataka, India - travel mistakes we made

The fenced-off bridge across the river at Abbey Falls near Madikeri

Also read: 20 things you need to know when you visit India


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Over the past few years, we have frequently passed through Bangkok and have found one of our all time favorite hotels in the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit hotel. We always enjoy coming to Bangkok and this hotel plays a big part in that. Here are a few reasons why:

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A New Home for the Night
January 222018

Last year was my first year using AirBnB for my travels. I was originally interested because of the the variety of unique homes you can stay in (treehouses, tiny homes, etc). Besides being very cheap, it really makes it so you can experience the area like a local. It’s like getting to live in every city as you would if you were a true resident. That all being said, I’ve had really great stays and also really bad ones.

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Part of me has always been a little lost wherever I went.
Even if I’m physically within the familiar, my head is always elsewhere. Am I the only one that feels like this? Like something far away is always better and there’s always something more to go out and experience and learn?
Anyhow, my inner hippie and travel-junkie goes out to April, the lovely writer of Traveling Wanderer.

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It was our favorite time of year again…it was time to leave cold, wintery Germany behind and head to warmer climates. The time had come to go on our annual vacation we usually take around the Christmas holidays.
This year was extra special as we were going further than we ever have before. We were headed to Australia (via Bangkok) and we had booked our round-trip flights to Bangkok with Oman Air.

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Christmas may be long gone and Spring somewhat of a distant future fantasy but there’s a lot to be said for January. If ever there was an excuse to try something new, or to finally get around to doing that thing you always wanted to do, now is the time…

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With the story I am sharing with you, this quote will come alive and show how I found out how capable I was through a solo travel experience gone wrong. When it comes to travelling alone, it can be scary, especially when you suffer from anxiety. When I travel, I tend to worry about the littlest things that could go wrong. Its unfortunate, but it’s how I am. Chaos always seems to follow me in life, so of course, I try to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible when it comes to travel.

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We live about halfway between Frankfurt and Berlin and one of the things we miss the most is having immediate access to an international airport. Morning flights for us always mean traveling to Frankfurt or Berlin the evening before and staying at a hotel in close proximity to the airport.

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Across the world, thousands of people are joining the #vanlife movement. They are ditching their lives of high rent and mortgages to enjoy life on wheels. When it comes to each situation, every person is unique in that their #vanlife experience is different and how they choose to live it. Some people wish to do weekend adventures, adventures over a certain amount of life, or some people commit to fulltime van living. Personally, I am one of those people who permanently ditched a high rent apartment to live in my 1990 Chevy G-20. If you are new to my blog, you can see past #vanlife articles that I have written about my experiences and the van build out.

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Crossing borders is never fun, but some countries have easier routes than others. Now that we are experts at this process, I can provide some advice on how it all works. Of all 11 border crossings we have made in South America, the Ecuador-Colombia border was by far the worst. Even though we read a…

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2017 has been a big year for me. It’s the year I decided to pursue my passion for travel, writing and photography and launch Part-Time Passport – an alternative travel blog to inspire others that a life of travel and adventure is 100% possible without having to quit your job or drastically change your lifestyle.

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My husband and I are at the halfway point of our trip and we are finally taking a much needed break. We are lucky enough to have seven months to travel, but even that doesn’t feel like enough time for everything we want to see in do. We’ve managed to crunch in a lot into…

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If you’re planning on visiting India, here are 20 things you need to know. Use these tips to find your way around this ancient land and its many cultures, languages and cuisines.

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In 2013, two Irish guys named Will and Conor had the idea to create a hop on hop off bus service for backpackers in Peru. This way backpackers had a safe, convenient and affordable way to visit spots in Peru that previously were missed on the backpacker circuit, but were worth visiting. Now they have…

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From walking a protected turtle breeding ground in Goa with two local doggies, and swimming in rock pools in the Seychelles, to riding a motorcycle on a beach in West Bengal, here are 20 evocative beach pictures from our travels around the world.

We’ve been to the seaside quite a few times over the years, we’ve had some incredible experiences and some a little less so, but each were special in their own way. So here are 20 of our favorite pictures taken during some of those.

Sydney, Australia

Seagulls among the rocks at Bondi beach - beach pictures from around the world

Seagulls among the rocks at Bondi beach

Balmoral beach, Sydney - 20 evocative beach pictures

An evening on Balmoral beach

Read more: Twelve brilliant things to see in and around Sydney


Mandarmani, West Bengal, India

An evening ride along the firm sands of Mandarmani beach, part of our road trip up India's east coast - beach pictures from around the world

An evening ride along the firm sands of Mandarmani beach, part of our road trip up India’s east coast

Read more: What you experience on a 7-day, 2000-kilometer motorcycle ride along India’s east coast

Lakshadweep, India

Sunset on the leeward side of Thinnakara island - beach pictures from around the world

Sunset on the leeward side of Thinnakara island

The sun descends into the calm waters off Thinnakara - beach pictures from around the world

The sun descends into the calm waters off Thinnakara

The shallow waters off Bangaram island - beach pictures from around the world

The shallow waters off Bangaram island

Read more: Shedding some light on mysterious Lakshadweep


Andaman and Nicobar, India

An old tree along the still waters of Wandoor beach - beach pictures from around the world

An old tree along the still waters of Wandoor beach near Port Blair

Old lighthouse on Ross Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India - beach pictures from around the world

The old lighthouse

Read more: A flying visit to the Andaman Islands

The Seychelles

Robbie the conservationist drags a dinghy into the water for a morning of dolphin-watching on Bird Island

Robbie the conservationist drags a dinghy into the water for a morning of dolphin-watching on Bird Island

Doves rest on a tiled roof below our rooftop cafe on Mahe

Zebra doves rest on a tiled roof below our rooftop cafe on Mahe

A calm rocky inlet on a beach a few kilometers down from our guesthouse on Mahe

A little rock pool of sorts on a beach a few kilometers down from our guesthouse on Mahe

The sunset glints off a chaffing dish at the Wednesday market on Mahe's Beau Vallon beach

The sunset glints off a chaffing dish at the Wednesday market on Mahe’s Beau Vallon beach

Read more: Six amazing discoveries we made in the Seychelles


Goa, India

Two stray dogs accompany us on Galgibaga beach

Two stray dogs accompany us on Galgibaga beach

Agonda - Cabo de Rama rocks

The rocks below Capo de Rama fort

Agonda - Cabo de Rama palms

Looking over Capo de Rama beach from the plateau above

Agonda - Talpona beach Steel mugs

Sneaking a cold beer at lunchtime on Talpona beach

Agonda - Rocks

Dusk at Agonda beach

Read more: 4 reasons why you should stay in Agonda on your next Goa trip

Mandvi, Gujarat, India

The deserted beach at Mandvi, accessed by a sandy path from next to the gate of the Mandvi palace

The deserted beach at Mandvi, accessed by a sandy path next to the gate of the Mandvi palace

Read more: The colours of Kutch


Nieuwpoort, Belgium

The piers at Nieuwpoort

The piers at Nieuwpoort

A seagull takes it easy on one of the piers

A seagull takes it easy on one of the piers

Read more: A road trip through Germany, and other ways to pass the time (Part 2): Brussels and Nieuwpoort


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You know that feeling you get when you’re eagerly awaiting your flight at the airport, watching the planes take off and land… you hear your flight number being called and you get that buzz of excitement in the pit of your stomach that you’re about to take to the skies?

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Goodbye to England
September 242017

Our nights in England have been spent visiting with friends old and new. All of our friends with babies, now have small children! Where does time go? I finally met a few of Andrew’s pals from when he was very young and a couple of their partners. Everyone seems to be doing so well. At times I wish I had moved to England a few years ago instead of Andrew moving to the US, but we can’t change the past. Who knows if we’d be taking this adventure now if I had moved instead.

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From Germany to the Seychelles, and from all across India, here are 20 spectacular travel photos we’ve taken during our travels so far.
We first started really travelling in 2007, with a trip to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Since then, we’ve been to quite a few places, seen quite a few things and had quite a few experiences.

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Last year, I had an opportunity to visit Australia. Since then, I’ve had a couple of Filipino friends approach me to ask for help and advice on how to apply for the Tourist Visa, and I’m happy to say that both of them have successfully secured the visa they need. On that note, I’d like to share the little information I know, based on my experience, so I can help as many traveling Filipinos as possible to see the beauty of Australia.

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Nepal is a country rich in culture and tradition and one of my favourite places in the world. Before embarking on your own journey to the birth place of lord Buddha and the homeland of the mighty Mount Everest, I have noted down my tips to ensure you have a safe and respectful time. I have been to Nepal 6 times and learnt a lot along the way!

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I Quit My Job
August 262017

I quit my job. I’m unemployed!
Today is my first official day of unemployment, and not just the kind of unemployment where I wait for my next job to start. Unemployed for a year…or more! I don’t know what to think about that, except, I think a lot of things about it. For instance, I feel anxious, excited, scared, nervous, lazy, relaxed, etc.

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Where Do You Want to Go?
August 182017

The first thing you have to do when planning your around the world trip, is check your bank accounts, save, and then pick out where you want to go.

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Brazilian Visa
August 102017

Getting a Brazilian Visa is harder than getting my English husband a K-1 Visa to move to America. I am not kidding. Well, maybe not that hard, but not quite as straight forward due to the language barrier, in my personal opinion.

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I was inspired to write this after a friend posted a blogger’s post about how travel isn’t always fun and easy like people think and that we are made to feel bad about complaining when travel gets hard. I completely related to this post, because after years of traveling, I know it isn’t the vacation…

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August 72017

So there’s this awesome app/website called Couchsurfing. Andrew told me about it years ago; I just never gave it much thought. Until now.
Couchsurfing is unique in that you can sign up and be a host or a surfer and it’s free to do both! Hosts welcome people in to their homes for free and surfers enjoy a free place to stay and hopefully nice company.

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I got my vaccine for Hepatitis A & B from Walgreens. After researching the vaccines I would need for each country we visit I made some calls to places that offer travel vaccinations. That took quite some time.

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This is my first post! Welcome friends.
I guess we’re doing this thing! We are just 5 weeks away from leaving the US and travelling the world. Our trip should last about a year. We may run out of money though! Budgeting for a year of unknowns is difficult. We have a rough estimate for most of our travel dates, but we are keeping it loose.

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It seems about every 2-4 years, I go through a big transition. Just when things get comfortable in my life, I either decide it is time to shake things up or the Universe does it for me. There is something about routine and comfort, that I just can’t handle. As soon as I start to…

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There’s much more to dark rum than meets the eye (or the mouth and nose)! Good dark rums have as much flavour and complexity as good whiskey, and can be enjoyed just as much. Here are five great dark rums from different parts of the world that you should try if you have the chance.

I’ve long thought that rum doesn’t get the respect it deserves. In India, especially, people consider rum the ‘poor man’s’ or ‘student’s’ liquor—something to start one’s drinking experiences with before moving up to whiskey. I suppose this is understandable, considering that most rums are cheap and relatively easy to produce. But just because rum is affordable doesn’t mean it doesn’t have flavour and complexity. Or that it can’t be enjoyed as much as any other drink. Subtle variations in the production process—from what kind of sugarcane product is used as a base, to whether it’s spiced  or not, and how it is aged—can result in an incredibly sophisticated end product that would arguably not feel out of place among the best whiskeys.


I’ve had the pleasure of sampling quite a few dark rums produced in different parts of the world. While some are nicest when mixed, others are best enjoyed on their own—either on the rocks or with a dash of water, or both. Disclaimer: I don’t really enjoy white or pale rums, though, so I try to avoid them when I can.

Here, then, are five great dark rums from different parts of the world that you should try.

Also read: Four easy infusions with which to spice up your home bar

Old Monk Gold Reserve (India)

Old Monk Gold Reserve - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

Old Monk Gold Reserve - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

The famous (at least in India) Old Monk rum is something that almost every drinker in India has tried at least once in their lives. Affordable and flavourful with its vanilla notes and caramel aftertaste, this dark rum is arguably the best known rum in India. And while every Indian drinker knows it, most haven’t heard of its premium Gold Reserve variant. Aged for 12 years, Old Monk Gold Reserve retains the base version’s caramel and vanilla flavours, and elevates them to a surprising level of sophistication.

The Good Life With IQ recommends:

Mix in a dash of apple juice for a complex, warming and Christmasy drink.

Bundaberg Master Distiller’s Collection—Small Batch, Vintage Barrel (Australia)

Bundaberg rum - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

Bundaberg rum - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

This extremely interesting medium-dark rum blends selected regular Bundaberg (or ‘Bundy’, as the locals affectionately call it) rums with reserves matured for eight years in century-old oak barrels previously used for storing port. This gives it a unique, almost whiskey-like tang, while still keeping the characteristic caramel notes of a good dark rum. This is probably the best rum for a whiskey drinker to try, the only bridge between both worlds that I’ve ever encountered.

The Good Life With IQ recommends:

Bundy and coke is extremely popular in Australia, and for good reason.

Also read: Twelve things to see in and around Sydney


Takamaka Spiced (Seychelles)

Takamaka spiced rum - Five dark rums from across the world you need to try

Takamaka spiced rum - Five dark rums from across the world you need to try

Smooth with rich vanilla notes, Takamaka Spiced is produced in the east African island nation of the Seychelles. Outside the Seychelles, I’ve only ever seen it stocked at the Dubai airport duty-free. If you’re ever there, you might want to pick some up. It even comes in small half-litre bottles, so if you’re not entirely sure, you can pick a small one up as a sampler. I tried this rum in 2012, after which production seems to have moved to a different distillery. I’m not sure if the flavour’s changed because of this. It’s probably still worth a try, though.

The Good Life With IQ recommends:

I’ve found that the vanilla hit of this medium-dark rum goes best with cola.

Also read: Six discoveries we made in the Seychelles

The Kraken (USA)

The Kraken - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

The Kraken - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

With its cargo-hold bottle, vintage label and black-as-night colour, The Kraken enthusiastically embraces rum’s pirate heritage. Not so the flavour, though, which is elegant and spiced, with a sweet caramel aftertaste. Besides caramel and vanilla, this very dark rum also has hints of clove, cinnamon and ginger, making it the most complex spiced rum I have come across. All in all, the most thorough embodiment of every aspect of rum and its history that I can think of.

The Good Life With IQ recommends:

Drinking it on the rocks will allow you to appreciate it for what it is. I’ve heard some like it with ginger ale, though.


Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 (Guatemala)

Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 - Five great dark rums from all over the world that you need to try

A sophisticated sipping rum, Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 is matured using the solera process usually used for maturing sherry. It picks up subtle flavours from each of its four different aging barrels before spending another year maturing in oak casks. The result is a very smooth, multifaceted dark rum that doesn’t rely on spices for complexity. However, I did notice a distinct drop in sweetness after the brand was taken over by Diageo.

The Good Life With IQ recommends:

My preference is with a splash of cold water. I find it a little overwhelming if drunk straight or on the rocks.

Honourable mentions

Here are some other nice dark rums to try, if you get the chance.


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