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Posted on Apr 2, 2012 in Living Abroad, Travel, Travel Stories |

Traveling Is Part of My DNA, I Guess

Izabel Garabedyan is a lady whose Holy Bible is the ‘Lonely Planet’ guide, and who is dreaming to visit all countries in the world. She is the kind of person who always sees the positive side in things especially when it’s about traveling. Izabel is probably one of the very few persons I know who is pursuing the “living now” concept. And she is one of the few who succeed in distancing herself from the material world, and appreciating the Earth as a gift to us from Nature. She just returned from a five week journey to South America where she visited four countries in a raw… The love for traveling can really be contagious as long as you are open to it and seemingly Izabel has it. In her case, traveling exists in her life from the moment she was born as her parents were traveling whenever they could. They taught her that “traveling and getting acquainted with new cultures, people and ideas was much more valuable and important for [her] personal growth than buying shiny stuff.” She embraced this philosophy and started applying it in any possible way. While in South America, for example, she said she “didn’t put any make up on and totally forgot about straightening [her] hair!” And although she forgot about vanity, people were calling her “Shakira” and were happy to get acquainted with her. When asked, “How many countries have you visited in your lifetime,” she couldn’t recall because the number does not matter. The places, the people, the cultures, the experiences are all in her head and heart, and this is what life is about – really. I love to travel however I am not even close to Izabel’s soaring heart which is why I asked her the trivial question about her worst and best experiences in South America…She replied that even crossing a flood at 6 a.m., bare feet in Bolivia, at 4C degrees, was a positive experience. “[…] Especially when somebody (indigenous Bolivian woman) you do not know and whose face you cannot recall now gives you socks found...

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Posted on Feb 8, 2012 in Travel |

Travel Junkie Buddies

Not long ago I came across the travel blog, and thought it’d be nice to get in touch with its writers Lori and Ave and maybe share some traveling tips and experience. Lori was indeed interested in what I had to say, so I wrote a post on why people need to get out of their comfort zones, how backpacking is the perfect life shakeup, and why OZ and NZ are two of the best places to go backpacking. You can read it here – ‘Need a Life Shakeup – Go Backpacking in OZ and NZ’. And here’s why I liked the blog – I literally caught myself reading almost every single post from the ‘Curiosities’ category the very first time I ran into the blog. I also discovered loads of useful information for the keen traveler in the rest of the sections. And, as I am very passionate about travel myself, I truly find this Web site helpful for anyone who loves the world and can’t stay still for too long. Hope you’d enjoy it too 🙂 blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Jan 27, 2012 in Travel |

Plan Your Olympic Games Experience ASAP

The London 2012 Olympic Games are coming pretty soon – just 6 months left until the opening ceremony, and international visitors who are planning to attend the event, should already be making travel arrangements. Although 6 months seems too far away for some, visitors who would come in the UK for the Games are urged to start planning their travel already. The Olympics is the biggest event for UK and one of the biggest events in the world which is why a huge volume of international spectators will be entering the country during the summer. Here are some points you should consider when planning your trip to UK are:  Visa First, you should make sure whether you need a visa to enter UK. To find out, talk to a visa specialist. If you do need a visa, Visa First can organize everything related to your travel before you actually leave home. This way you’ll free your mind and concentrate on the fun part of the travel. Customs requirements While we are taking care of your documentation, we recommend you read the customs requirements to make sure you don’t bring items or goods that are prohibited or illegal in the country. Check out the UK Border Agency for more information on the customs requirements. Rights and responsibilities Make sure you read additional information regarding your stay in the UK. The UK Border Agency provides a rights and responsibilities guide for visitors of the country. blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Jan 23, 2012 in Travel |

Spice up Your Life

I recently ran into a statement that our habits represent past successes, and thus we form our behavior and comfort zone based on these successes. The challenge, however, is that everything around us changes, and we shall try something new in order to achieve new successes, and eventually build a new comfort zone. Getting out of the comfort zone means to do something you haven’t done before, to socialize with different people, to read, to move, to see new places, to educate yourself. It simply means to dare to live. If you have the slightest urge for a change that means you are already halfway out of your zone. Most people, however, do not know where to start from. If you have that urge, just give in to it – the best way to get out of your shell is to travel. But if you want a real shake-up, go backpacking. For someone who has never done anything like that before, backpacking really is a life-changer. The experienced backpacker is never fully prepared for this adventure either – and that’s the beauty of it. So, if you really want to spice up your life, put the backpack on and surprise yourself with a little adventure. Backpacking will take your senses to completely new horizons. As a backpacker you will visit destinations and experience them to the roots; You will blend in with the locals, dine and have fun with them. Then you will exchange travel tips and experiences, and you may even join someone else to travel with. You may not know where you are going to sleep next; You may not shower for days, and you may find yourself sleeping on a bench in Paris, and your heavy backpack will probably hurt your back a lot. All this may lead to a great discomfort, but the funny thing is – when all this is over, you will want more. If you travel for longer, you may have to find a temporary job. Fruit picking in the Outbacks in Australia, for example, may sound absurd to you, but once...

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Posted on Jan 12, 2012 in Travel |

Travel Trends for 2012

Cox & Kings are travel experts that plan luxury trips for centuries now (since 1758). They have created the following list with travel trends for the soon coming 2012. Here are some of them: “’End of the world’ Journeys” – Apparently, it’s become very popular among travelers to go on trips to not so popular destinations due to the belief the world is coming to an end in 2012. Such destinations areAlbania,Serbia, Greenland, the Russian Far East, Uzbekistan, Falkland Islands and Papua New Guinea. “Mind, Body & Soul Vacations” – some travelers wish to learn new meditation techniques and proper nutrition. For the purpose they travel to Bali, as well asLaosandMyanmarwhere they also visit Buddhist temples where Buddhist monks live and study. “Ancestral Travel” – In 2012, the Cox & Kings experts say it’ll be very popular to travel to history-rich destinations, such asRussia, the Baltics,China,Japan,LebanonandWest Africa. “Off-Season Travel” – More and more destinations become more appealing during off-season because they are simply more affordable. Such are: Indiain May, Brazil and Turkeyin October, Moscow during Christmastime, and Chinain April. “Supporting Evolving & Recovering Societies” – Although the safety in countries that have experienced national trauma is questionable, it is still a growing trend among tourists to visit such places. Some areColombia, Egypt, Japan, Norway, Croatia, and more. “Travel with an expert” – Many people dislike traveling in a group with a tour guide and rather prefer to be on their own. However, the group trips may be still advantageous sometimes: Often traveling with an expert can gain you access to places that you may not be allowed to visit otherwise. “Top Destinations Picks for 2012” – According to Cox & Kings, hot countries for 2012 will be: Ghana, Indonesia(outside of Bali), Malaysia, Nepal, Romania, Iceland and Abu Dhabi. Hot cities among tourists will be: São Paulo, Brazil; Salta, Argentina, and Lima, Peru, as well as Beirut, Luang Prabang, Hyderabad, Stockholm, Tallinnand Mostar. Source: BlackBook blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Jan 12, 2012 in Travel |

Ecotourism vs. Nature Tourism vs. Sustainable Tourism vs. Responsible Tourism

Considering that eco, nature, sustainable and responsible are synonyms, it’s easy to misuse these words in the context of travel and tourism. Thus, we have provided definitions of each of the above types of tourism, so you get to decide which one is your priority. Ecotourism According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism is “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”. In other words, travelers act responsibly in order to minimize their impact on the environment and the local community. Wikipedia also says that the purpose of the ecotourism is to educate the traveler how to behave in order to contribute to the ecological conservation and economic development of the local communities. Nature Tourism Although nature tourism is pretty close to ecotourism, it focuses more on enjoying and respecting the wildlife and the environment without the educational element in ecotourism. It simply means visiting natural areas, per an online dictionary. Sustainable Tourism Tourism has created both great economic benefits and environmental and social harms. Thus the idea behind the sustainable tourism is to attempt to make lower impact on the environment and the local culture, while at the same time it helps to ensure future employment for local people. Sustainable tourism also aims to bring a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the tourists themselves, as per Wikipedia. Responsible Tourism explains that responsible tourism focuses on the fact that locals are exploited and that natural and cultural resources are treated without respect. Responsible travel also means that you as a traveler treat the locals of a particular destination with the same respect you would expect to see in your own community as you are simply entering someone else’s home. In short, responsible tourism “creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.” blog.visafirst.comMore...

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Posted on Nov 10, 2010 in Gap Year, Living Abroad |

‘Gap Year’ – A New Trend Among U.S. Students

‘Gap year’ is recently becoming very popular among U.S. students, although it was once seen as a waste of time. The advantages of taking a gap year, however, are countless. Parents used to (and some still do) rush their children to study, take exams, go to college right after high school. As a result, teenagers often regret about the degrees they signed up for because at that age they rarely know what they want from life. According to statistics, most students who took a year off from school are more focused in college. Holly Bull, a president of the Center for Interim Programs, a consulting firm focused on helping students plan gap years, often speaks at gap fairs and emphasizes the benefits of time off-school. She said that time off helps students become more mature, prevents the repeated change of majors, and it makes them party less once in college. “Low achievers, ultra-high achievers, and those in between,” can benefit from time off, to stave off burnout and indulge in a little self-discovery,” Linda H. Connelly, post-high school counselor at New Trier Township High School, said. “They want to explore what’s out there in the world. It’s a time to reflect and not at such a fast pace. Students learn a lot, it helps them figure out what they want. I see kids blossom, find their passions.” It was wrongly assumed that taking a gap year is for those who are more financially secured because it is related to bigger expenses. Bull explained that students can either explore distant and exotic places, or go somewhere closer to home and participate in certain programs which provide lower costs in return of service. Many service-oriented programs exist out there, such as volunteering at a school for the deaf, clearing national forests, etc. They may also offer stipends, or students can work during the summer in order to pay for the costs. If the students can spend the time travelling is, of course, the best investment as being on the road and coping with different situations by themselves does clear their minds...

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