New Caledonia Romantic Holiday: Tropical Honeymoon Experience

New Caledonia Romantic Holiday: Tropical Honeymoon Experience

If you and your loved one are short on honeymoon ideas and wondering what to go for, a tropical holiday in New Caledonia is the answer to your prayers. Whether you are a couple that enjoys in strolling down the beach or that thrives on adrenalin, New Caledonia provides thrills for all. Here are 6 reasons to choose this destination for your ideal romantic escape, based on my experience.

Perfect location

Noumea, New Caledonia’s capital is only a three-hour flight from Auckland, which gives you more time to relax and enjoy with your lover. Once you get there, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a true tropical paradise comprised out of kilometers of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear water that are just waiting for you to discover them. You can enjoy in a warm climate, with temperatures that go around 26-30oC in summers and reach up to 25oC in winters. You can stay anywhere on this island that stretches over 400 km, or drop by to magical Isle of Pines, a secluded beach that promises romance, relaxation and a slower-paced holiday.

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Accommodation

There are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from in Noumea that cater to all budgets. I’d suggest the Hilton on Anse Vata Beach with a stunning sea view and plenty of bars and restaurants in its vicinity. You can also opt for hotel Le Lagon, which is a little further from Anse Vata beach but a great option for those who want to enjoy in new and modern facilities for a medium price. You can explore New Caledonia deals to book a perfect romantic holiday that suits your style and interests.

New Caledonia Port

Food and drinks

Noumea is a multicultural melting pot of flavors, with a taste of French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian or Indonesian cuisine. I recommend Le Roof at Anse Vata beach, an amazing restaurant where you can indulge in French/Melanesian meals. Alternatively, you can pay a visit to local supermarkets (Geant is huge and well-equipped) and prepare a dinner for two. There are also bottle stores that sell amazing French wine at reasonable prices, such as La Vinotheque, so make sure to include that on your menu as well.

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For adrenaline junkies

Adrenaline-charged couples shouldn’t miss skydiving at Oua Tom, where you can parachute or tandem jump for 40 seconds of thrilling free-fall.  Before jumping you can enjoy in the breathtaking views over land and sea. You can also go paragliding at Oen Toro, in Noumea’s south, or take a chance with a famous full moon kayak tour of the Drowned Forest in Blue River Provincial Park in the west of Lac de Yate.

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For laid-back honeymooners

If you’re seeking a proper honeymoon escape, take it slow by spending hours on the beach or enjoying a day out on a nearby island. Enjoy in the intimate atmosphere of the Amedee Island, where you can post each other letters from the Lighthouse Post Office (smallest in the world) and take long walks hand in hand along beautiful beaches.

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Explore the lagoon

New Caledonia is the home of UNESCO protected lagoon, the largest in the world. Here you can find an infinite choice of sports and leisure activities. Go diving and snorkeling around rich colorful coral gardens or try out windsurfing, kitesurfing, or fly boarding. In between snorkeling sessions, enjoy in a beach picnic with baguettes and cheese, while absorbing the serenity of the area.

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New Caledonia is the kind of place that immediately grows on you and brings you and your partner closer together. The tremendous beauty and slow rhythm remind you of the important things in life that you should appreciate-including your loved one. Take your chances with New Caledonia for a honeymoon you’ll never forget.

Blog by Marie Nieves from High Style Life

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5 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO CHINA

5 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO CHINA

CHINA, such a mysterious country! Some of us could feel incredibly nervous when traveling to a country with such a big population, different language and culture, but believe me it’s worth it!

sunset-952629_1280Chinese Pagoda

If you are a solo traveller like me and want to embark yourself in a journey to that ancient land without speaking a single word of Chinese you are going to need these 5 tips:

I did a 1 month journey through Asia and I wish I had this list before my trip.

  1. Take with you a mobile with access to Wi-Fi. Even though most of the younger generations learn English at school, not all of them are able to communicate with foreigners and sometimes it could take a lot of time and effort to be able to communicate. Once you start traveling away from the main cities, less and less people speak English and there are small towns where finding an English speaking person would be a complete mission. Make sure you have access to translation tools on your phone, or ask any of the foreigners living in the area for the phone number for FREE translation services.
  2. Access to any navigation system. There are many small lanes; tiny alleys and the names of the streets are impossible to read if you don’t know the language. An online map could make a big difference when you are lost at night in a city where you can’t speak or understand the locals to ask for directions.
  3. Be careful with some young locals. Some young Chinese students work together with certain Tea Houses and target mainly solo tourist with the purpose of taking money from them. The students approach the travellers offering assistance or help if they are lost and can’t speak the language and then invite them to join them to a special Tea ceremony, once the ceremony and tasting is over they bring the bill and OMG!! Then you realise you are in trouble. The prices are out of this world for what you just experienced, so if you do go to a Tea ceremony are invited to one always make sure you can see the prices before hand.
  4. Double check when buying a train ticket. Even though in the train stations of the big cities there is a Speaking English window, be careful and confirm more than once that you have the right seat or bunk bed number, date and destination. Almost 90% of the information in the train tickets is in Mandarin so it’s literally impossible to read it if you don’t know the language. Some hostels have a picture of tickets on their noticeboards explaining in detail what to look when buying and make sure you have what you need.
  5. Be careful with taxis. This is generally a recommendation everywhere in the world, but here the ones in in small towns and outside the train station can be a nightmare. Language barrier is already an issue, but it could be worst when your taxi driver is also trying to sell you a tour. They could be really pushy and as a female solo traveller incredibly intimidating. So the moment they mention selling you a tour, leave the taxi straight away.

 

Locals are incredibly friendly and always willing to help if you are in trouble, so don’t hesitate to ask for help or assistance if you need to. Even when they don’t speak the language they will make a huge effort to try to understand. Just keep trying and don’t be shy.

Now that we have such an amazing App as @travelloapp. You can connect with other locals in the area and ask for their advice and help in case you need it. Download the app before you start any trip and ask other travellers for recommendation and tips.

Blog by Samia Salamanca  & also follow Sam on  Twitter  @QUEENSAMIA

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Experiencing Costa Rica: The Ultimate Guide

Experiencing Costa Rica: The Ultimate Guide

 

Deep inside the lush rainforests of Central America lies a country full of amazing experiences and adventures any serious traveler has to consider – Costa Rica. This tiny country has so much on offer it will prove to be a welcome destination not just for serious travelers, but couples, families, and adventure junkies alike. With vivid Technicolor sights, fragrant smells, and tropical sounds, recognizing the beauty of Costa Rica will be like taking a walk in the rainforest! But before you go, here are a couple to get your imagination running, and to help you on your way…
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Plan Way Ahead
Most guides tell you to “always plan ahead”, but when visiting Costa Rica it really does matter. Do the necessary research in advance, so you arrive prepared. Your travel experience can be heavily influenced by the weather. So, book your trip during the dry verano (December to April), rather than wet invierno (May to November), it really does make a difference. Also, due to the immense moisture, there are plenty of mosquitos. Check with your doctor if you need to receive any shots, and bring plenty of repellent. Additionally, your bag should contain sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella, comfortable shoes and clothing, with a warmer alternative. And for help on the go, be sure to stack up on travel apps. You never know!
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Book Accommodations in Advance
In recent years, Costa Rica has managed to draw more and more tourists each year, and since, has become a tourist hot spot. The season peaks around Christmas and New Year, making rooms in hotels of San Jose, Cartago, Santa Cruz, Liberia, and Limon hard to come by. If you are looking for a tropical holiday getaway you should try booking at least a couple of months ahead. Albeit, if you are traveling with your family, or a bit more friends, and you want to balance out price and bed numbers, consider checking out property rental accommodations in Costa Rica. Also, if peace is what you crave, look towards towns in the more remote places like Puerto Viejo, Uvita, or Naranjo, where you can find amazing affordable lodging. Keep in mind though that decent Wi-Fi might be hard to get a hold of, which to some may prove to be a big plus.
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When in Costa Rica…
The main attraction of Costa Rica are, of course, the natural splendor hidden beneath the rainforest. One of the most beautiful forests in the world is found in Costa Rica – the Monteverde Cloud Forest. As spectacular as it sounds, it is famous for its bird watching experiences, but will leave you breathless in its own right. Costa Rica also has access to both the Pacific and the Atlantic, and has some gorgeous beaches. Manuel Antonio National Park is a rainforest-fringed beach paradise, ideal for families and couples, while Tamarindo’s notorious surf attracts adrenaline junkies all over the globe. And if you are interested in a hike of a lifetime, look no further than La Fortuna Waterfall. The trail is hidden among the lush volcanic slopes, and is as challenging as it is rewarding.
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A Unique Travel Experience
What sets Costa Rica apart from any other destination in the world are the unique travel tour offers. If you are looking for something amazing than you might consider the Canopy Tour. High above the treetops of the rainforest, you can zip line, just like a spider monkey, from one platform to the next and take in the most of the nature and its wildlife. Amazing vistas of a sun rising, or setting over the endless forests is a sight from fairy tales. Once you get back down, you can seek out the White Water Rafting Tour. Zig-zagging through the meandering life-line of the forest – the Celeste River, you bounce through the wet slopes and enjoy the most thrilling ride in Costa Rica.
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The Taste of Costa Rica
Any great travel experience comes with a sensational taste, and Costa Rica is full of them. A tip that will really get your taste-buds kicked into overdrive are the local foods and ingredients. Because of its tropical location, fruit, veg, and spices are colorful and oh so fragrant. Fruit is in natural abundance, and anona, grandilla, guava and rose-apples are unavoidable. When looking for the best food in Costa Rica, take to the streets and the many street vendors and hidden dinners. Costa Rica is also culinary diverse, and each region has its own twist on the classics like Tamales and Empanadas. Other must-tries include the national dish Casado, as well as Ceviche, Gallo Pinto and Sopa de Mariscos.
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With such a multitude of sensations, words can only start to awaken the beauty and adventure that is hidden away in Costa Rica! For a true experience add this amazing country to your travel plans, pack your bags, and head to this dream destination. Vaya con Dios!

Blog by Marie Nieves

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Fitness Expert’s Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road

Fitness Expert’s Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road

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We all define traveling as taking a break from our mundane lives. And although that break includes thinking less and sometimes even being reckless, we should not ignore the need to keep a certain routine, which will help us remain healthy during the trip. How? – you might ask. The truth is that with the circumstances as changed as they are when you are in a whole different country, and on the road, sometimes even more than inactivity, stress can be overwhelming and food fast and greasy. Do not give up, though. We said it is hard – not impossible. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind while traveling.

Walk and Explore

When we are visiting some fascinating destination, we want to see each corner of it. Probably because of our acquired habit of rushing everywhere, we usually take the bus to lead us to every brochure-recommended site. Still, the charm of some city or any other destination cannot be fully discovered by simply going from one previously determined site to another. The charm is in walking around, getting to know some unfamiliar neighborhoods, and even getting lost. An added bonus is that a simple 30 minute walk will help you burn calories and stay in shape.

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Exercise

This is a pretty wide notion. You can exercise in various ways. Rent a bike and ride around the city, hit the hotel gym at least four times a week, etc. Make things more interesting and sign up for a local marathon or some sort of aerobics. If you hate exercising alone and your travel companion does not want to accompany you, tweet for a workout partner. This is a large world which is made small by social networks. A single tweet can help you meet some interesting locals and make friends for life.3 pexels-photo-min (1280x960)

Train Your Brain

You should not neglect mental training, either. Brain games can help you think faster, have a better memory, be more eloquent, a better listener, have sharper vision, but also get things done, try new things and have quicker reactions. Some of these benefits can be clearly linked with your physical trainings. It does not even have to be some game you play in pair or complicated videogame – playing an online game of Sudoku will be just enough to enhance mental fitness. Also, carry a book with you – there is nothing like reading some quality novel on the road. Make a game of it and each time when you visit some country, discover a local author.

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Indulge Moderately

It is normal to want to try every signature dish of the destination you are visiting. Still, if the country you are visiting is famous for its unhealthy and spicy food, you might want to skip a meal or two. Set some ground rules: do not eat after 20h, eat late lunch instead of early dinner, treat yourself with desert just twice a week, etc. Also, try to carry a lunchbox with fresh food (fruits and vegetables) and healthy snacks (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.).

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Put on Your Dancing Shoes

You know how listening to music makes you work out harder? Well, forget all about the workout and dance to the rhythm. Go out with your travel buddies or completely by yourself to meet some new people and dance all night long. You would be surprised how effective it can be. Only 60 minute of dancing can (depending on the type and style) burn 250 to 750 calories. It is obvious that you will not get the same effects with ballroom dancing, but moshing will get you a long way.

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Bon voyage! Remember to stay healthy, smiley and happy.

Blog written by Marie Nieves. Editor @ http://highstylife.com/

 

 

 

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Sydney Beaches, NSW Australia

Sydney Beaches, NSW Australia

When you visit New South Wales, you’ll probably visit Sydney, but don’t spend all your time in the city. While there are some really great places there (which is in another post), Sydney’s beaches are probably where you’ll want to spend the magority of your time. And they’re all pretty connected through coastal and cliff terrain, so it’s possible to make your way from one beach to the next on foot or by car. Always take the scenic route!

Water and boatsManly Beach – You can take the ferry from Sydney, or drive over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

 

2 Open water and boatsManly is a little less touristy than some of Sydney’s other beaches, and has a certain European posh feeling.

3 HeadlandsEvery beach has it’s little pools.  Probably the most famous are in Bondi Beach.

4 drinkOne of our favorite things about Australia was all the cafes and coffee shops. As two coffee addicts, and cafe connoisseurs, we love to check out the local cafe scene wherever we go. Top on our list was Panama House. This was a “coco espresso,” iced coconut water with a shot of single origin espresso on top. We brought this idea home and are now making coconut cold brew.

5 cliffsThe coastal walk follows cliffs, beaches, and small waterfalls along the beautiful New South Wales coastline, which is one beach followed by another and another, each sandwiched between a set of hills and cliffs, creating a series of small bays, or inlets, great for swimming, as long as you watch the rip tides.

7 beachCoogee Beach
When the weather was hot, people filled the beach, it didn’t matter what day of the week it was, if the weather was good, the beach was full of people.

8 Coogee pavilionCoogee Pavilion
This became our local haunt while we were in Coogee. It reminded me of a place in our hometown – The Canopy. It’s a casual, trendy beach bar and restaurant, with a dress to impress feeling rooftop bar. Our favorite thing there was the fish and chips, which we usually shared, since it was big enough for two people.

9 pavillion signAlmost everywhere we went had these open air style windows.

10 ShopsThere were so many great coffee places in Coogee, but Will & Co (a coffee cart inside Pavilion), and Coogee Bite were definitely our favorites.
“Pav” as we learned to call it (Aussis tend towards abbreviations) became a favorite place to sit and have a cappuccino, which they serve with a dusting of cocoa powder on top – another australian coffee practice which I’ve brought back home with me.

Isn’t that part of the point of travelling? To learn things from other cultures – even small things – and integrate them into your daily thinking, daily life, and maybe even challenge your routines, or at least enhance them…

Blog by Julie Anne Cormier – https://baloobalife.wordpress.com/

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Travel Tools For Your Trip

Travel Tools For Your Trip

Whether you’re an avid traveler or you’re just beginning to stretch your travel legs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the countless travel apps, websites, tools, and resources out there.

 

Before and during my travels, there are a few resources I consistently use to keep my trips organized, fun, and wallet-friendly. I hope you find them useful when planning your next vacation!

INSPIRATION

Instagram: I follow travel bloggers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts on Instagram. Every day I discover a new place I want to visit from the amazing photography that pushes through my feed. It helps fuel my wanderlust when I’m homebound and gives me new ideas for future itineraries.

Niki Insta screenshot

Pinterest: Pinterest is another site to find jaw-dropping photos of places to visit, activities to do, and things to eat. I created a board called Travel Dreams on my Pinterest page so I could tag and remember all of the places I want to go in the future.

 

PLANNING

Agoda: For my recent two month trip throughout Asia, I found Agoda offered the cheapest hotel prices. It’s the fastest growing online hotel platform in the world, and it seemed to beat out other sites like Hotel.com and Expedia.com when I compared prices for the same hotel listing.

 

Airbnb: This is an excellent alternative to staying in hotels. You can book someone else’s home to stay in, or list your own home for other travelers to use. It’s a great way to be able to cook for yourself, have larger groups stay together, get a more local experience, or have the opportunity for a truly unique stay, such as calling a treehouse or a castle your home for a week! I recently used Airbnb to stay in the middle of vineyards in Napa, California, for a quaint wine country experience.

 

TripAdvisor: I use TripAdvisor to get the real dish on hotels and other attractions. I find Yelp to be saturated with fake good reviews that inflate the business’s ratings. So I head over to TripAdvisor to get the honest and up-to-date scoop. It has saved me several times from booking a hotel that looked good on the website, but got truly awful reviews.

 

Skyscanner & Kayak: These are my go-to websites when hunting for flight deals. They scan and compare airline, hotel, and car rental sites for you, and show you the cheapest options.

 

FlightCar: This is a money-saver and a convenience for getting to the airport. I don’t have a parking spot in San Francisco, so I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do with my car while abroad for two months. Have a friend move my car every week for street cleaning?? Enter FlightCar. I registered my car and dates of travel on the FlightCar website, drove to FlightCar on the day of my departure (thus saving on taxi or shuttle money), and then left my car with them for two months so they could rent it to other drivers. At the end, I raked in $200 a month for letting them use my car! And they gave it back sparkling clean.

ON THE ROAD

Outbound: Traveling solo? Looking for events or meet-ups happening nearby? Want tips for the best nightlife or attractions in town? The Outbound App lets you find and connect with travelers of all types who will be in the same place at the same time as you. You can sort by traveller type (female-only, caravaners, corporate travelers, families) and by demographic (age, gender, nationality) to connect with like-minded travelers. I’ve used the Noticeboard to solicit advice on upcoming trips, and I enjoy answering other travelers’ questions.

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WhatsApp: This is a no-brainer if you’re traveling overseas and want to connect with people — for free! You can send text messages, photos, videos, and even audio messages. I turned off my data plan and just used WhatApp and Google Hangouts to keep in touch with my family and friends back home.

Google Goggles: Have you ever stood in front of a famous building, statue, painting, or other image, but you couldn’t remember the name of it? The Google Goggles app lets you take a picture of the item in question, and if it finds the image in its database, it will provide useful information about your mystery item.

 

ABOUT: Nikki is an official Outbound Ambassador. She’s an outdoorsy adventurer who marvels at natural wonders, world cultures, and really old stuff. She’s talented at climbing mountains, making crafts, and eating cheese and chocolate. When she’s not off exploring the world, she’s uncovering off-the-beaten path adventures in California. What to read more from Nikki? Visit her website here: www.NikkiNearAndFar.com

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Travelling in a Tour

Travelling in a Tour

Travelling on a tour offers an unforgettable palate of experiences to the intrepid souls that sign up. It’s about seeing all the bucket list sites with no fuss logistics. Or having expert road crew that makes it more of an adventure. Most say our namesake is the raison d’être, to meet a bunch of like-minded travellers and make friends for life.

We all have our reservations about joining a group tour, but our global team at Tour Amigo have come up with a hit list of the top 7 of the most inspired reasons on why people like to tour:

1. The hard work is done for you

Top of the pile is taking the stress out of travel. The tour mechanics drill all the nuts and bolts of travelling abroad. Accommodation, itinerary, excursions, and most usefully, transport, is all arranged for you. Getting logistics right are a massive part of the travelling experience that can frustrate lone travellers. Forget scouring the internet each night for a half-decent hotel, or tackling the matrix of public bus timetables to get to the next town. Tours are the epitome of organisation, and even if things go wrong, they have a reliable network and backup to put things right.

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2. Meeting new tour amigos

It’s what our company is all about – making lifetime mates on tour. Touring is like a giant social experiment – a group of travellers and a tour coach/boat/train as the elements, in a foreign country petri dish, mixed together by wild, knowledgeable scientists of the crew. Many fear about the people they will meet on tour, but this equation always triggers to a chain reaction of social success. Like-minded people with the same goals are all out to have a fantastic time and making it a trip to remember. You’ll soon be calling them your ‘tour family’. Eureka!

3. Seeing new places

Riding high is – the inevitable – to travel and to see new destinations. The touring world is so diverse now, you could be strolling through Europe’s ancient cities, trucking across African savannahs, or tuk-tukking around Asia’s hottest islands. Touring companies offer the best of the lot, iconic monuments mixed with the insider hidden spots. UNESCO world heritage sites one morning, local restaurant feast by afternoon. You can also be sure to see the most important sites plus places you’ve never heard of, thus the tour offering a smorgasbord of new places you can brag about.

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4. Follow the leader

Time and time again you tell us, ‘it’s the crew that makes it”. Tour leaders, tour drivers and even tour cooks are the team that guide, inform, host, direct, teach, organise, help, and entertain your way around the world. Tour companies are strict on recruitment to always ensure you only have the most dedicated leaders taking pole position. It’s always good to have some help when travelling, and as passionate professionals, they will be the best source of local advice you’re ever likely to get. And you will never get lost.

5. Free time

Does free time exist on an organised tour we hear you cry? Well we’ve listed it as a reason you come on tour, because contrary to some bizarre popular belief, tours insist you have free time when travelling. Tours know that it’s important to their travellers and having all the main logistics organised for you, takes away all the time-consuming planning that can make a tour a bore. Now you can choose to have all the time you like between destinations. You always have the choice too and tours will provide maps, advice and pick ups for your free days to make it as time efficient as possible.

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6. Save money

At first glance tours can seem more expensive, yet look more closely and you’ll save more dollar than they ever could doing it independently. Most tour costs cover the majority of the trip, such as transport, accommodation, some food and even some sightseeing. Once that is paid you can carefully budget for anything else without surprises such as optional excursions, the occasional dinner out, or for souvenirs. Independent travel can be a minefield for shock costs such as taxi rides, pricey restaurants or local excursions that simply don’t have the same discounts that organised tours do.

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7. Safety

Travellers have no need to be scared when galloping to an unknown country, but even the most courageous prefers peace of mind when going to a new place. Tours bring safety and security to the forefront. Getting from A to B, friends to accompany you or advice against scams that regular tourists have no idea about. Tours have a reputation to be protective, so all hotels, excursions, and transport are routinely vetted. Rest assured you are in safe hands so you can focus on enjoying yourself. Of course, personal safety is nothing to ignore whilst with a tour, there is still much of an adventure to be had. At least the scary unknowns are dealt with. Yet tours will make you realise that the world isn’t that scary a place at all.

ABOUT: check our Tour Amigo for all your tour needs and independent reviews from other travellers: www.touramigo.com

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How To Travel As A Baller On A Budget

How To Travel As A Baller On A Budget

One of the few questions any long-term traveler gets is “How do you afford it?” While I find it truly abrasive and personal, I tend to overlook the brashness and look at it more like intense curiosity. I mean, I don’t comment on my friends’ baby pictures and say “How on earth do you afford that?!” Yet, alas, on almost any of my travel-related posts I get asked the same question over and over again.

It may shock a few of you to know that 1.) I’m not royalty, 2.) I don’t have a trust fund and 3.) I didn’t win the lottery. Yet, I’ve traveled to over 30 countries, lived in Australia for a year and now live in Thailand – all on my own money. I just worked really hard, allocated my money towards different priorities, and made that dollar sign stretch as far as it can go. You don’t have to have too much cash to have a great time in cities such as Budapest, where you and your friends can party like an animal on a shoestring budget. Plus, in Budapest, you can find an array of fun activities for you and your friends to enjoy, such as shooting – which you can find out more about at somewhere like https://stagmadness.com/blog/shooting-budapest if you’re interested in Budapest as a location for a bachelor party or stag night.

And here’s how you can stretch your money while travelling too:

Sleep on a couch

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Couchsurfing friends in Barcelona, Spain

Some of my all time favourite memories of travelling through Europe were the ones with my couchsurfing friends. It may sound a bit creepy, but it’s totally not. In exchange for a couch or sometimes even a room to sleep in, the hosts just want to hang out with you, learn about new cultures and make new friends. I couchsurfed in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, Frankfurt, Budapest and others. I made great friends and saved a few bucks.

Make your own tours

It may be really enticing to just take a day trip and not have to worry about maps, how to get to certain landmarks, language barriers, etc. Usually, these tours run three or four times higher than if you do it yourself. What we usually do is find a tour we like, take a picture of the itinerary, and go find a local taxi driver or longtail boat driver and see what price they can give us for the exact same tour. Sure, it may be minus the lunch and super informative guide, but we’ve saved hundreds of dollars by doing this over the years and it gives back to the local economy.

Eat local

While the street food may not always look the safest, I can guarantee you it’s the cheapest and the tastiest. If you’re looking for an authentic meal, street food is always the way to go. Many times on long train rides, we bought a loaf of bread, some salami and cheese and a bottle of wine, and split it amongst ourselves for dinner. In Austria, we bought giant pretzels for 3 Euros daily. In Berlin, we bought curry-wurst for 2 Euros. In Thailand, we can buy pretty much any type of food we want for less than $3 USD. Not always looking for the shiniest or most “Western” restaurant is your best bet on saving money on food in a foreign country.

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Tasty street food in Budapest

Barter

If you’re in a country where haggling or bartering is appropriate, then by all means go for it! I’m naturally terrible at bargaining, but I’ve learned that the price can drop drastically (sometimes even in half) if you’re persistent and also respectful. This can go for anything – from clothes to taxis to massages. As long as you’ve done your research and know what is the normal rate, as opposed to the foreigner rate, then you’ll have the power to lower your costs.

There are many ways you can stretch your money while travelling. You just have to be on the lookout. You may not eat at the beautiful restaurant on the beach, but you’ll have the most authentic eating experience. Sure, sleeping on a couch isn’t nearly as comfortable as a fluffy king-sized bed, but you made great friends in a new city. Travelling isn’t a budget-breaking lifestyle if you don’t want it to be. Frugality is always out there, and it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on the fun.

ABOUT: KP is an official Outbound Ambassador. Florida-born, Thailand-based. KP has travelled to 31 countries, studied in 3 and lived in 3 – all before turning 23. In between trips, KP likes to practice yoga, write, run on the beach and plan the next big adventure.

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Travel Photography – getting the most out of your iPhone camera

Travel Photography – getting the most out of your iPhone camera

Does every photo need to be perfect?

Let’s start off by getting a couple of things clear. The Up Sticks N Go crew have no special photographic skills and we don’t use equipment that costs an arm and a leg. We do carry an SLR camera but it seldom leaves its carry bag.  It’s heavy, bulky, conspicuous and we really don’t know how to use it properly. We did consider sending it back to Australia but the telephoto lens is useful and it’s a great camera to use on a tripod for long exposure shots. But the best camera for travel is the one you have with you. I know you have heard that before, but it’s true.

We find the iPhone is an exceptionally good camera for travelling. It’s light, quick on the draw and most importantly close by when you need it. Does the iPhone give you the best quality, highest resolution image every time? Is the exposure always correct and focus crisp? Of course not, but the iPhone is a point-and-shoot camera with an amazingly small lens.

It can’t possibly compete against the expensive, large aperture cameras on a technical or image quality level. But it’s there when you need it. You don’t have to haul it out, remove lens caps, adjust focus, check setting and then finally frame the image. You just select camera mode, aim, frame and shoot.

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So does every photo have to be perfect? For us the answer is NO, our travel photography does not have to be perfect. We are journaling our adventure so the stories are more important than the quality of photos. Our viewing audience want to know how we are going, what we are doing, the issues we face and the places we’ve visited. The images are a vehicle to convey that information quickly with only a few words.

But that’s not the whole story.

We also want more people to follow the Up Sticks N Go adventure and photographs are one of the ways we attract followers. We find better quality images do attract more people and receive better engagement. As a result we have concentrated our efforts to improve the quality of photographs we publish, by reading more on the subject and through a lot of trial and error.

I’ve compiled a series of posts detailing photographic techniques we are using to get the best out of our iPhone cameras. Michelle and I use iPhone 5s cameras and have both developed methods and techniques to achieve those special images. We want to share what we have learnt so others can capture their travel moments and proudly share them with friends and family.

We are Apple iPhone fans, no surprise there; we love the consistent quality of the iPhone 5s camera. We also love the amazing photo applications available to shoot, edit and publish our photos on the move. These will be iPhone specific tutorials, but most techniques will be transferable to all point-and-shoot cameras.

TUTORIAL ONE: The best camera for travelling is the iPhone in your pocket

The Up Sticks N Go crew are very Apple centric. We love our iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pros etc. and have carried a selection of Apples devices around the world. They work every time we turn them on and last a lot longer than similar competitor models.

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The iPhone is the device we use most, but we seldom make a call. The iPhone is our travel camera and video recorder. We’ve taken thousands of photos and published a fair percentage of those shots on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr and Pinterest. We attempt to create at least two videos a week, which we publish on YouTube. I had ambitions of publishing one a day but the lack of high speed internet in many places visited made a video a day rather ambitious.

So why is an iPhone the best camera for travelling?

I’d love to say it’s because of super high quality images and how easy it operates, which are all great reasons. But it’s the fact it’s close by and easy to access that truly makes it the best camera.

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It’s smaller than an SLR by a mile, with a 35 mm lens and only a fraction of the weight. In fact an iPhone is smaller and lighter than most compact cameras and I’d say many of the smartphones we see fellow travellers carrying. Its weight and size mean it fits in your pocket or nestles comfortably in your hand. So when that photo opportunity presents itself, it is right there with you.

As travellers we are aware we’ll be taking photos regularly, but we are not on a photo shoot. We don’t carry around the paraphernalia of a professional photographer and we don’t necessarily have the time to pose photos or arrange props or achieve the perfect position. We walk and sometimes run into a location, assess the photo opportunities at the time, snap what we can and then move on.

To get the best shot in these situations, we often take many images or use the iPhone’s burst mode to capture that special moment. The iPhone has an amazing amount of memory. We can capture thousands of eight megapixel images and hours of video before needing to download or back up the images. As a result we go for days travelling and recording our adventure before we need to think about memory space.

Just knowing we have a camera with us means we take pictures. If we had to get a camera from the car or out of a bag and then lug it around we probably wouldn’t bother. We know this because we have an SLR in our kit and given the choice between lugging it around on a day excursion or just pocketing an iPhone, it’s very simple. We leave the SLR at home as it’s unlikely we’ll pull it out of the case in time to make the shot.

With so much going on around us, the speed that we can get a camera out and capture a shot is important. The operation speed of the iPhone camera really helps. The slide to reveal camera function and its default photo setting means we can draw, activate and shoot in under a second. We don’t always capture every spontaneous shot as finger fumbles are common, but we’ve captured some amazing spur-of-the-moment images.

Adding up physical size, memory size and speed of operation means an iPhone is a great travel camera, but it’s the close proximity of our iPhone that make it the best camera for travel.

TUTORIAL TWO: How to take a better iPhone travel photo

Carry your iPhone/camera on you at all times. You can’t take a great shot if the camera is in the car, on the bus or worse, in the hotel room.

Practice make perfect. If you have a camera with you, use it. Shoot every chance you get. Just by sheer volume alone you will get one or two great photos. But if you learn by doing, you’ll eventually find more than just the odd few shots are great. Practice certainly does improve your photographic skill. We are living examples. We couldn’t take a good shot to save ourselves when we first started, some may say we still have a long way to go, but our photos are getting better and more and more people are commenting on the quality, not just the content.

Try not to develop bad habits. Stop reviewing every shot just after you take it. You’ll have plenty of time to mull over shots once back to your accommodation or once finished your holiday. Shoot the action around you; trust the camera to do its stuff. Move to capture the scene; think about light and shadow, slow down to ensure the perspective and subject matter capture the essence of the scene.

Without my reading glasses I can’t clearly see the camera’s digital screen, so quality of the last shot is undefined even if I do review the photo. So I tend to pull the camera out, get into position, frame, focus then shoot three or four photos from slightly different angles before putting the camera down; all without looking at those photos. Later in a coffee shop I can put my reading glasses on and really study the photos. As a result, if something amazing happens around me I’m not focused on the digital screen and can snap that next shot without delay.

Use the light around you. Don’t shoot with the sun directly behind you. Sun behind you causes the image to look flat and, of course, your shadow gets in the way. Shoot from either side (about 5 – 45 degrees) so the sun is over your left or right shoulder. See the light around you and use it to your advantage. Is the light interacting with the scene highlighting an area or casting interesting shadows? If so, use this to create an extraordinary photo.

Use shade during the day. Sunlight between 10 am to 3 pm can be harsh and creates deep shadows, especially on faces. During the day you’ll often find enough light in the shade to take a great photo, without harsh shadows and overexposed areas caused by midday sun. Walk in the shade as you travel, it’s better for your skin and take photos of subjects that are shaded but not in front of large expanses of sundrenched backgrounds.  If you are competing with a well-lit background, get in closer and use the camera’s flash to lighten the foreground subject.

Take photos at either end of the day. Early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky, is the best time to snap full sun photos. The shadows are longer but less visible to a camera held one to two meters from the ground. The light is softer, yellower and lights up a subject more evenly. However it’s not the perfect time of day for travellers whose focus is not purely about photography. But if you want a great shot, get out of bed early and visit those special places when the sun is low in the sky and most other visitors are still in bed or eating.

Check what’s in the background. Too often we see images of people with a tree sticking out of their head, garbage bin prominent in the background or some annoying tourist messing up a photo. When you visit tourist locations you will have other people milling around in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Try getting in close and obscuring any foreign object you don’t want in the frame. Move left or right to place a wall, pole or tree so it obscures unwanted or unsightly objects in the frame.

Here we used daughter Tash to obscure a group of tourists lined up at the castle’s front door.POST 3_NO 2

Perspective. An image is more engaging when you shoot it from a different vantage point to the normal observer. Crouch down, lie down or, if you’re tall like me, stand on your tippy toes and hold the camera up high. The change in perspective will make the image different and often more pleasing. Changing your observation point in this way also enables you to remove those unwanted background elements. Get down so a foreground object fills the gap between you and the background you’re trying to capture. The object will obscure the unwanted cars, people and garbage you don’t want in the photo.

Focus on the Subject. The subject of your photo should be in the right spot to achieve an extraordinary image. So slow down and think about its placement in the field of view.

Move a few steps closer. Fill your photo with the subject you wish to capture. Move closer to the foreground subject and position it at one or two sweet spots within the photo. The “Rule of Thirds” always applies, but getting up close and personal with the subject and filling the frame will make the photo “POP”.  See how much better your photo looks without the wasted nondescript foreground and background space?

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POST 3_NO 3Rule of Thirds. If you are uncertain about the “Rule of Thirds” in photography, I suggest reading Darren Rowse’s blog post; one of thousands of photography posts on the web explaining this rule. In essence, if you divide the photo into thirds both horizontally and vertically the four intersection points form “sweet spots” of the photo where focal points of the subject matter should be aligned.

If it’s the portrait of a person, their eyes should align to the top two intersections or at least sit on the horizontal line marking the top third of the image. If it’s a subject or scene, then the subject should fill two thirds of the background with its focal point falling along either the right or left vertical line.

Framing. To further draw a viewer’s focus towards the subject, the subject can be framed by a foreground or background feature like a window, street line, door or even a shadow.

Look out for Simon’s next post in the series “iPhone apps for travelling Photographers”.

ABOUT: The family behind Up Sticks N Go are official Outbound Ambassadors. Michelle Frost and husband Simon are travelling the world with their three kids for 18 months while working online – how cool is that? They’d love to catch up with readers somewhere in the world. If you’d like to see more you can follow their adventure via their website: www.upsticksandgo.com or on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest or Twitter.

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Making Money While you Travel

Making Money While you Travel

We have all read those articles: How to Make Money While Traveling. And we see the same things; flight attendant, tour guide, writer, government jobs, etc. But how applicable are all these jobs, and can I really obtain these? What about budgeting before you actually go, isn’t it equally as important? We interviewed five travelers to get the scoop on how it really happens.

Dylan – The Go-Getter

aboutpicDylan has been traveling for years now; his most recent trip has been about six months (Indonesia à Thailand à Cambodia à Vietnam back to Thailand). His route? He convinced his boss to let him work his job remotely. He is a salesman through a music company, along with this; he rents a house back home in Canada. He is experimenting with some new business opportunities, which will only help him to travel even more!

Dylan’s advice to travelers: “To take action and go. You can sit, contemplate, wonder, and research forever. The only way to actually experience something is to go out and experience it. You can’t really prepare for the unknown, so simply get up and go. You’ll figure it out.”

Ryan – A tech-savvy adventurer traveling the globe

10454253_297569960404651_1242103321613676246_oRyan gets away whenever he can; he fell in love with the art of traveling the world after moving to London post graduation. He covered most of Europe while he was there and after that backpacked from Egypt to Cape Town (and everywhere in between). Ryan has designed the Outbound App, which has opened up several new opportunities for him! The key to his travels is to save, save, save. The longest spree he went without working was three months, while backpacking. Advice to you:

“I think the key is to just go. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ because life will always get in the way. I am yet to meet someone who has said ‘I really regret going on that trip’. So I think my best advice is to just throw the dart at the map, book the ticket and go!”

Michelle – Digital dreamer

1907456_10152257452663156_20069537_nMichelle and her family have been traveling for 10 months. In 2002, Michelle and her husband started an online business so they could work and travel. They create and sell digital products, coach small businesses via webinars and provide digital marketing service to bigger business. Together they have combined their passions, travel and the World Wide Web. Some advice from the family of travelers:

“Find someone who’s doing what you want to do and follow them, find out how they got where they are and emulate them. One word of caution, if you decide to start a location independent business so you can travel make sure it’s something you’re passionate about – it’ll be much easier to focus while you travel around.”

Spencer – An aspiring writer

11208644_10153238176461221_6280883887901575769_nSpencer has been traveling since he was a young boy and as of right now actually doesn’t work! Yes. It’s possible. You do have to save though and he does occasionally pick up a side job here or there on a beach somewhere. His dream though? Writing freelance. It is a great way to make money; plus there are many different ways to find a job doing this. He is on the right track too. Spencer just recently got published. The best way to get your name around is to get noticed! Spencer has never been happier.

“For the first time in my life, I’m thoroughly excited when I sit down and begin to write.” – Spencer

Advice: “Get up and just go. The hardest part of travelling is actually committing to it. If you can find the courage to book the ticket then you’ve made the most difficult step. And go into new places with an open mind; don’t judge a new place off of reviews or rumors. My favorite places have often been the ones where I expected nothing and was rewarded with paradise.”

Yeager and Beth – Equal opportunity employees

untitled-1-5-copyTogether this inspiring couple has been traveling for about two months. They have a multitude of skills, which allows them to do different jobs as they go. They will cook, clean, bartend or just about anything that comes up! Yeager and Beth are always up for learning something new also. They strive to balance out working and traveling; working for a month, then traveling for a month, on and off.

Their advice: “Work your butt off and save up. You need less than you think and you can always find ways to make ends meet. Money comes and goes, but the experiences in life are far more rewarding than a large bank account – so don’t be afraid to go for broke if it will give you an experience of a lifetime!”

Brooke – A wandering spirit

unnamedBrooke started traveling when she was 20 years old and after that she fell in love with the world. Over the past 14 years she has spent nine of those living and traveling abroad.

When Brooke first left she had a one-year Canadian working visa and $5,000 in the bank, working various jobs in different towns. From there she made her way through the UK and Europe with money saved from those jobs. After a few years back home earning and saving in Australia, she next traveled Asia and Europe for five months without even working! Now with her husband by her side (whom she met that first year in Canada) they are traveling the seas on their family sailboat. There is no credit in this family. When they run out of money, they just stop and get a job.

For Brooke, she’s never worked on-the-go, she just bases herself somewhere for a few months or a few years and works for a local business. Her jobs have ranged from: snowboarding into work on a Canadian ski resort to serving at weddings in a 700-year-old castle in Scotland! Simply put, Brooke is addicted to travel and her advice to you?

“Unless you are looking to settle longish term as an ex-pat and score a professional job, don’t go in search of work abroad expecting to earn the same kind of money you did at home. There are some exceptions, but most employers know you are transient and will usually get away with paying minimum wage. Sometimes you can make this up with tips (say in North America), or your employer will provide staff meals, discounted accommodation or other perks (such as free ski season pass). But the pay-off is you’ll be doing something ridiculously memorable (like a mountain-top ski lift host or snorkeling guide in Belize) with like-minded people who’ll likely become life-long friends.”

ABOUT: Megan and Andrew are Official Outbound Ambassadors. Currently based in America, they are a long distance couple that met in college and were brought together through their crazy life journeys. They share a passion for adventure and are determined to make their dreams of traveling the world a reality. Megan and Andrew are constantly looking for new thrills and enjoy sharing every experience via their blog: www.heartsaroundtheglobe.com.

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