Good advice on budget travel for everyone!
It used to be that you could backpack across Europe by train. Then the likes of RyanAir and Easyjet came about and it became almost as cheap to fly across Europe (if you travel light). Now the most budget friendly way to travel across Europe is by coach (bus).
Check out the German owned Flixbus, full of young people herding between Europe’s major and not so major cities. Often taking only a bit more time than the train, and with less transfers and at half the price. Brussels to Rotterdam for 9€ (vs 40€ by train), Amsterdam to Paris as low as 11€ – you can’t even get a taxi across town for that! And it includes one check bag.
Those who are unsure, this isn’t your seedy greyhound bus filled with homeless people. It’s clean, equipped with a bathroom, charging stations, WiFi, and sometimes even a mini bar. It still smells like BO, but hey, half of Europe is still anti -antiperspirant. Usually, if you’re lucky, you’ll get your own two seats to yourself, distancing you from your smelly neighbors.
Definitely worth checking out if you plan on doing a lot of traveling around Europe!
Everyone has their dream trip. Call it a Bucket List, last place to see before you die, etc. I have a lot of Bucket List items, ranging from the smallest simple things like planting a vegetable garden, to huge lifelong goals. It has been my experience as well, that the people you meet make the trip, not so much the destination. A year ago, I spent six weeks in Nepal, which has, so far, been my “Trip of a Lifetime”. But, if I had to pick three trips to be the only ones I did for the rest of my life, I think these would be the three…
3. Driving the Ring Road in Iceland. Possibly the smallest/shortest and longest-running trip on this list, but Iceland is expensive. I want to see the Geysers, and Volcanoes, and snorkel between the tectonic plates. O, and swim in all the local pools. Scandinavian public swimming pools are an attraction in and of themselves. Ideally this trip would be done over 2-4 weeks, possibly in shoulder season to catch some Northern Lights, with one to three other people, to maximize cost sharing and adventure opportunities!
2. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. This is also not cheap as they don’t let you do it by yourself (and I’m kind of okay with that). It’s slightly higher than I climbed in Nepal, and slightly more rustic, but I think I cold handle it. And, while I’m down there I might as well pop on over to Victoria Falls and down to South Africa to visit my friends there and wine country! This trip would probably be done over 2-3 months with maybe one other person or just a series of group travel opportunities.
1. Drive the Pan-American Highway. I know it’s been done before, but not by me. Having been close to both ends in the past couple years, it gives me quite an itch. I love the idea of a central theme to connect travel to a bunch a different places (that is how this blog started, after all!) and the highway would give me that. I would love to travel it, stopping all along the way to visit people or maybe volunteer for a bit in communities along the way. I wouldn’t intend for this to be a quick trip, I would plan for it to take at least a year – starting during the Alaskan Summer and ending during the Patagonian Summer. If I could sustain an income, I’d stretch it over two years maybe. The goal is not to be the fastest to travel it, but to do something with my life. Ideally it would be traveled in a small RV or minibus, but I’m not opposed to using a series of buses, mopeds and hitchhiking either. I’d love to do this with a partner, especially if any of you have seen my driving…. 😉 Now taking applications! Haha.
This doesn’t mean I don’t still want to visit a million other places – including New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, and Indonesia – but these are the three trips I could really see happening – hopefully, eventually.
What are some of your dream trips? Share in the comments below!
This is an interesting article, but I want to go to everyone else’s places!
Where You Should Travel Solo, Based on Your Zodiac Sign | Travel + Leisure
“For me, a place unvisited is like an unrequited love. A dull ache that- try as you might to think it away, to convince yourself that she really wasn’t the right country for you- just won’t leave you in peace.”
Growing up in Florida, I had never been to a water park (why pay when the beach is free?!) When I was 22 I got a part-time job in a theme park, which gave me free entrance to the adjoining water park. Since then I’ve been hooked! My job on a cruise ship has brought me many places, and many of those places have water parks within metres of the ship’s terminal. What better way to relax, relieve some stress, and have fun with your co-workers for an afternoon? I mean, there are only so many temples, marketplaces, and bars you can visit in the world. Below I’ve compiled a list of some of the most fun water parks I, or my colleagues, have been to around the world.
Located: Tampa, Florida, USA
Last Visited: August 2016
Approximate Admission Cost: $50, valid all season
Favorite Attraction: Key West Rapids
Being the first water park I ever visited and so close to home, Adventure Island is the standard for which I measure others against.
Located 20-30 minutes from both the port and airport, this park is more for the locals. It has nice beaches for relaxing and they allow you to bring in small coolers with bottled drinks and snacks (and maybe a Publix Sub if you’re lucky!). There are picnic areas and also a few places with food and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) available for purchase.
To provide fun for the whole family, there are both toddler and children’s areas as well as slides of all thrills, including the newest and fastest – the Colossal Curl. There is also a large lazy river, racing slides, corkscrew slides, and mega drop slides. There is even a large beach volleyball area for a little waterless fun. And, one of the things I love the most is that they play real pop music instead of cheesy theme-park elevator music. You can enjoy a day at the “beach” without having to bring your own stereo!
The park is only open seasonally, from Spring Break until Labor Day. In the heart of summer, they extend their hours until sunset in an event titled “Summer Nights” with extra music and dancing on the beaches. A one-day pass can be a bit pricey, but it lets you in every weekday for the whole season (again gearing it more towards locals).
Located: Nha Trang, Viet Nam
Last Visited: March 2014
Approximate Admission Cost: $20-30USD
Favorite Attractions: Space Hole, Family Rafting Slide, and Wave Pool
Probably one of the coolest parks on this list. You get to the park via a cable car, which, if you came by cruise ship, passes right over your ship!
While the park has no theme, per se, it has some of the most unique rides of any park on the list. Rides include a “half pipe” Tsunami slide you can ride in with a one-, two-, or three-person tube – Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub! There is also a wave pool where you sit in (or flip out of!) inner tubes instead of the usual treading water. There are the usual racing style slides and a few tunnel style ones. There’s one that dumps you into a “UFO” bowl before you drop another 3 feet through the middle. Lastly, there is a family style rafting slide where you carry your own raft to a hook and pulley (hey, it IS Vietnam!) For the less adventurous, there is also an aquarium and dolphin show in the park and a beach with access right to the sea!
Admission costs around $20-30 USD (depending on exchange rates) and there are plenty of bars with snacks and beverages for purchase at a reasonable (by Western standards) price. Best of all, admission gets you into the regular amusement park as well (you have to go through it to get to the water park) where you can check out the toboggan ride. There’s usually a DJ by the entrance and last I checked, the park also held monthly Full Moon Parties. Definitely worth checking out if you’ve already done the standard temples and markets deal.
Located: Orlando, Florida, USA
Last Visited: August 2016
Approximate Admission Cost: $50 USD
Favorite Attraction: Roa’s Rapids
In the land of theme parks, this on isn’t so much to write home about, but it does have some major thrill slides. It is most known for it’s Dolphin Plunge slide, where you slide through a clear tube and if your timing is spot on, a dolphin swims past you. There are also slides which you enter via a trap door dropping out from under you – not for the feint of heart! My favorite attraction is Roa’s Rapids, a “not-so-lazy” river (the actual Lazy River is less than relaxing and more like an LA Freeway at 9am). Downsides are that there are no real “beach” areas to relax, and it is always crowded with long lines. That being said, it’s still possible to go to Aquatica and SeaWorld in one day.
Located: Mahahual (Costa Maya), Quintana Roo, Mexico
Last Visited: January 2017
Approximate Admission Cost: $89 USD
Favorite Attraction: Hurricane
This park is one of the better themed ones on my list. Everything centers around a giant Mayan pyramid – of which the bottom level is lockers, restrooms, juice bar, and elevators or stairs to the attractions. (You read correctly, ELEVATORS! They definitely gear towards cruise ship tourists)
There are lots of slides – some with mats, some with tubes, some body ones. The nice thing is that there is plenty of good signage giving you a picture of the slide’s layout, safety information, and thrill level (in English!) so you know exactly what you can handle.
They also have two zip-line courses and a “Zip Coaster” (zip lines aided by a metal track) – all of which end in the water. The lazy river is an Expedition style, salt-water lazy river with lots of photo ops. There are lots of photo ops on every ride and photos are very reasonably priced (for 4 people for the day, it’s $39 for all your photos on a USB stick, or $5 to have one photo delivered to you via email).
There is also a really nice pool area with loungers and beds – for free. They also offer massages and a snack bar with reasonably priced Americanized Mexican food (think Moe’s Southwest) and delicious smoothies and juices (no alcohol in the park though!). They also have free WiFi (a perk for cruisers!)
The park is really clean and well maintained, with a focus on safety (there’s safety briefing before each ride!) All staff are well-trained and speak perfect English. The admission fee is a bit hefty – $89 for adults and $79 for kids and it is definitely geared towards cruise ship passengers as it is right outside the port. They sometimes make a deal for ships’ crew though!
Scandinavia doesn’t have a lot of water “parks”, per se, but they do bring a whole new outlook to the community pool. An honorable mention to a couple water “parks” I visited in Norway (they’re more like indoor aquatic complexes, but they have water slides!)
Located: Trondheim, Norway
Last Visited: July 2013
Approximate Admission Cost: $20 USD
Right next to the cruise terminal, this indoor aquatic complex features three water slides, a rock-climbing wall that falls into the wave pool, diving platforms, large inflatable rafts and icebergs, a lap pool, a rapids river, and of course a sauna and steam room. And like most Scandinavian pools, free showers! (Be prepared to get naked though!)
Location: Kristiansand, Norway
Last Visited: July 2013
Approximate Admission Cost: $20-30 USD
Similar to the above park, but slightly newer.
Finally, a few other parks that friends have recommended, but I have yet to make it to:
Aqua Fantasy – Kusadasi, Turkey
WaterPark – Rhodes, Greece
Blizzard Beach (Walt Disney World) – Orlando, Florida
Typhoon Lagoon (Walt Disney World) – Orlando, Florida
Also be sure to check out this list of some of the world’s best water parks! Perfect for summer travel plans!
Part of my job the past few years has been leading book clubs of travel or regional based literature. I thought I would carry some of that over and share it with you in a series of reading lists. I will only include books that I myself have read, but please use the comments section to add your own recommendations! Also check out this great list.
This first list includes books covering world-wide travel – to inspire the wanderlust in all of us.
- Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne – This book was my earliest inspiration to travel. It has also been the inspiration of numerous books, movies, TV shows and games. Challenge accepted, anyone?
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Cliché, I know, but isn’t the reason most people start travelling to “find themselves”? Or to find love. In any case, it gives three distinctive reasons to travel – food, spirituality, romance. It certainly inspired by ‘I’ travel list. Also, the book is way better than the movie, as always.
- One Year Off by David Eliot Cohen – This is an older, little known book about a family with three children who sell everything and embark on a year long journey around the world. It’s done in that time just before the internet blew up when reservations were still made by fax and phone. It’s a true testament that you can travel no matter how many things you think you have “tying you down” if you really want to.
- It’s Only the Himalayas by S. Bedford – I read this book when I was, how appropriate, trekking in the Himalayas. But don’t let that fool you, the Himalayas is only a small chapter, the book also includes tales of Africa and Southeast Asia. More importantly it’s a tale of how everything probably will go wrong on your travels, but that’s half the fun of it!
And finally, one of my favorite books of all time….
- The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner – The tale of a journalist’s search throughout the world of what makes people happy. It’s an interesting outlook on travel, because ultimately aren’t we all on a journey towards true happiness? Plus he’s very witty and snarky, so it’s an entertaining read. I am currently reading his sequel, The Geography of Genius.
So there you have it folks, the first of what I hope will be a few book lists!
Click on the book covers to get more information on any of the titles.
If you purchase them through their links, I get credit 😉
“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling that you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.”
“I would not have done anything differently. All of the moments in my life, everyone I have met, every trip I have taken, every success I have enjoyed, every blunder I have made, every loss I have endured has been just right. I am not saying that they were all good or that they happened for a reason…but they have been right. They have been okay. As far as revelations go its pretty lame, I know. Okay is not bliss or even happiness. Okay is not the basis for a new religion or self help movement. Okay won’t get me on Oprah, but okay is a start and for that I am grateful. Can I thank Bhutan* for this breakthrough? It’s hard to say […] It is a strange place, peculiar in ways large and small. You lose your bearings here and when that happens a crack forms in your armor. A crack large enough, if you’re lucky, to let in a few shafts of light.”
*For me, replace Bhutan with Nepal – same effect!
Okay, so having just recently renewed my efforts in this blog, I have many ideas for topics to write on, I just don’t know where to begin! So I have decided to ask my readers, family, and friends – what would you like to know more about??? Certain locales? Or a specific topic?
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