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Travel Wisdom

Travelling is Like a Good Pair of Jeans

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If I had to choose a piece of clothing to relate travel to, I would choose a good pair of jeans.

We all have a favourite pair of pants – those that just make us feel comfortable, relaxed,
confident and impossible to imagine life without. For some it may be stretchy yoga pants
(I’m a big fan of those too… but probably for different reasons), or for others they might
steer towards old denim like I do. Sure, there are other pants out there that we wear
for special occasions, to make us appear differently to others or what we think we’re
supposed to wear, but it won’t take it away from that one pair that we truly feel home in.
Did I lose you on that metaphor? Let me explain.

jeans

Everyone has responsibilities in life that need to be taken care of before we can do what
we actually want. Even the most carefree of spirits has to pay the bills somehow and to
do that, you may have to do things that aren’t your first choice. You might really like
how that pair of dress pants flatters your figure or makes you appear strong and tall, but
admit it – if you had the choice, you’d much rather wear what you really want.

Whenever I’m out on the open road doing what I love to do, I feel as comfortable and
confident as I do when I’m that old pair of jeans – especially if I’m on the road IN those
jeans. Even if it’s a place I’ve never been to and going to do something I have no idea if I
can even do, it just feels right. It feels like I was meant to do it. It feels like my jeans.

And sure, to continue the metaphor, there are times when I would rather not wear any
pants! Even the piece of clothing I turn to whenever I need to feel good isn’t always
what’s best for me. Sometimes I just want to pull up and out, move into the woods and
cut everything out, often if I’ve been travelling for too long. There is such a thing as too
much of a good thing and that’s why it’s good that I can take those jeans off when I need
to.

But what it all comes down to is I keep coming back to travelling. When I get stuck
in a rut, having to do certain things that cross the line on tedium and having too many
expectations of life and myself, I think of the simplicity of getting out there and it makes
me feel better. I think of my jeans.

For even though I can’t and wouldn’t want to wear them all the time, it’s good to know
they are there.

Places to GoTravel Wisdom

Travel to North America

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This is part of a series on exposing people to different places in the world, broken down
by region and sub region, so they might get a better idea on where to start if they are
thinking about travelling. The world is a great big place and if your intention is to see it
all, sometimes it helps to break it into parts:)

For such a massive continent, it might be hard to believe there are only three countries
that comprise the whole area. Sure, there are islands off coasts and where the line
between south, north and central may seem arbitrary, but for the most part, if you go to
North America you going to see Canada, the United States of America or Mexico. While
the northern two countries may seem remarkably similar compared to their ally to the
south, foreigners to North America may be surprised to learn just how different Canada
and the U.S.A. really are.

north-america

Mexico
At first glance Mexico may seem like nothing more than a new world form of Spain
but this would be ignoring so much of what makes Mexico special. The staple food
of Mexico is corn and you can see this in almost every dish available. You wouldn’t
be far off to say Mexican food rivals Italian and Chinese for the most popular food
on the planet, as the rich flavours and aromas win over many a traveller. If you visit
the enormity that is Mexico City, the beautiful coastal towns that seem to reach out to
eternity or the deserts that humble even the most journeyed traveller, you’re sure to have
a fantastic time in Mexico. Just beware of the drug wars that have become an issue in
some parts, particularly along the American border.

United States of America
With 50 states that stretch from the southeast tip of Florida, up to the New England
states, across to rainy Washington and down to California, you might think each state is
more like it’s own nation – and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Many of the states
have a distinct feel and culture so that even though you’re in one country, you can’t say
you’ve seen it all by just going to one city or state. With badlands, forests, mountains,
lakes, rivers, beaches, farmland and cities, the United States has something for everyone.
Don’t forget about Alaska and Hawaii, which are considered special vacations even for
Americans themselves. There are so many incredible places to visit! Before you book a trip, keep in mind: certain European countries may need to apply for a visum usa-ESTA online.

Canada
The second largest country in the world has a population that matches the state of
California or the metropolitan area of Tokyo, so as you can guess, there is a lot of open
land in Canada. Part of the allure of seeing Canada are these wide expanses of untamed
wilderness from rocky coast to rocky coast. You would be fooled if you thought there
was only nature to see on a Canadian vacation, for the culture of Canada is known the
world over for being welcoming and inclusive. Like the U.S.A, with which it shares the
world’s longest undefended border, Canada is a massive country that is very different
from region to region. Many people start in Toronto or Vancouver, but if your trip is
limited to those two cities, you have only scratched the surface.

Places to Go

Travel to Europe

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This is part of a series on exposing people to different places in the world, broken down

by region and sub region, so they might get a better idea on where to start if they are
thinking about travelling. The world is a great big place and if your intention is to see it
all, sometimes it helps to break it into parts:)

edinburgh

For many people, Europe is the first place on their itinerary (if they’re not already from
there!) and for good reason. With so many cultures crammed into such a relatively
small area, a traveller can see a lot in a short time. From language to food to religion to
weather, Europe is a diverse and fascinating place to see and regardless of if it’s your first
stop or your last, you are sure to find something that expands your mind.

Britain and Ireland
For many English speaking people, this is the land of their ancestors and a top destination
the world over. You wouldn’t think so much power and influence could come from a few
islands off the mainland, but once you meet the people and experience the landscape,
you’ll see just how resilient they are. You can find some of the best holidays in Dublin and London!

Scandinavia
Including the countries in the Northwest of Europe from Denmark to Finland and all the
way out to Iceland, Scandinavia is a trip unto itself. Situated a decent ways away from
the rest of the major destinations, these countries have developed unique cultures and
ways of life that take advantage of their long coasts and barren landscapes. Great winter
locations!

Western Europe
The heart of most people’s European dreams, this includes Spain, France, Italy,
Germany, Switzerland, Austria… the list keeps going! Powerful empires in their hey-
day, now thriving nations (largely) with historical sites and cuisine almost unmatched by
anywhere else in the world, it’s easy to see why so many people make Western Europe a
cornerstone of their travels.

Eastern Europe
Where the dividing line between east and west is often up for debate, but the small
countries lining the Mediterranean up until and (maybe) including Turkey offer cultures
that stand apart from their western counterparts. Going to Eastern Europe is a much more
affordable venture than the west and home to many hidden gems unknown to the tourist
population – for now.

Russia and the Baltics
There is no other way to say it – Russia is massive, and while most people will only
venture to the western cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow, taking a trip out to the far
east where the lines between it and Asia are harder to draw is the adventure of a lifetime.
Make sure you check out the countries separating Russia from Western Europe – they are
a strong and proud people with a culture to match.

Travel In the News

Avalanches – Is There Anything More Terrifying?

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The places that drop below 0 C (or 32 F to those clinging to the imperial system),

make snow a part of their life. Summer behaves very much the same while it’s around but for the winter season people get to take part in some of the most creative activities ever thought of. Just think about skates for a minute and how crazy they must seem to those who have never seen snow or ice. Now think about snowboarding and why anyone would fly down a mountain or back and forth in a half tunnel doing that. If that weren’t nuts enough, seriously think about the bobsled – it’s madness!

Avalanche

There are a lot of countries that never see snow and it’s not unusual to hear people from those places ask you if snow hurts when it touches you. Well, considering many of those places are home to some of the most dangerous wildlife on Earth, it all seems a bit ironic. Seriously though, if you go to most ski resorts in Japan, New Zealand or Canada, you’ll find a ton of Australians there because they just don’t get the skiing conditions back home. Maybe it’s all just training for the next ice age, for which the cold weather people are probably going to be better prepared for. Ha… sure.

But yeah… snow can hurt you…. a lot.

I read an article last year that had the Dutch Prince Johan buried in an avalanche while
skiing in Austria – and he’s still not doing that well – and it got me
thinking about winter sports and how freaking dangerous they can be. Add in how many people travel just to do those things and may not be the best trained to do so, and it’s a wonder there aren’t more injuries (although walk through a Swiss town in the spring and see how many people are on crutches and you get an idea that even the ‘experienced’ places still get hurt).

The part of Canada I lived in doesn’t have what the western part, or the rest of the
world for that matter, would consider ski conditions. Sure, there were mountains, but
not like the Rockies. Even still, there are many reports of injuries and we hear all the time about avalanches happening. You can call a lot of these freaks of nature but a ton happen due to people going out into the back country where they aren’t supposed to because it looks ‘so pretty’. Pretty dangerous is more like it. Sure, you may go outside the ropes and never have anything happen to you, so far, but don’t count on it always being that way.

I’m not trying to be a fear monger, but you simply never know what danger is lurking if you decide to go where you’re not supposed to and snow may look light and fluffy but it will bury you alive in no time flat and good luck coming out alive. There are similar dangers with snowmobiling, skating, ice fishing – anything with ice, as if you’re on an outdoor playing surface like a frozen pond, if you’re being told about the dangers, listen up because they aren’t kidding. You might be able to hold your breath mentally but until you’re actually faced with that cold and the weight, you never know what’s in store.

Be winter smart!

Travel In the News

A Greek Tragedy

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Greece as a travel destination couldn’t be more appealing, with its history, art, culture,

natural beauty, and food, but Greece as an investment destination? It’s seen better days.

Sure, you can put your money wherever you want, but as is evidenced by the air show
that is the stock market, what happens in one country can impact life overseas. While
not to delve to deeply into the true benefits/drawbacks of the Euro and the Euro zone, it
would seem the flaws in any system are tested when times are at their worst – no system
is perfect, after all. As travellers you really can’t beat having a common currency instead
of switching every time you move, but as a nation state you feel as if a part of your
sovereignty is sacrificed to achieve this. They say the leading cause of divorces is issues
with finances? Apply that to an international scale and well… it’s scary.

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What you do have control over is where you vacation. When a country makes it into
international headlines, it is always a good idea to take notice if for nothing else than to
be aware. Does this mean you should avoid Greece or other similarly troubled countries
at all costs? Not necessarily, because nothing could come of it and that doesn’t mean
other countries not on the ‘list’ are perfectly fine.

The flip side to this, is that a huge number of tourists flocking to an area would be an
excellent revenue stream – just the sort of thing a troubled economy could use to make it
through the tough times. Of course if the country does go under and riots break out, you
don’t really want to be caught in the middle. So what do you do?

Well, that’s what makes it tragic.

You can sit back and do nothing and hope it all sorts itself out, which means cancelling/
avoiding Greece for the time being, or you can just say ‘whatever’ and go on with
whatever plans you had. Eventually this whole thing will get sorted out but it could get
very ugly in the interim. If you do elect to travel to the area, be sure to do all those things
you roll your eyes at and never do, such as register with your home country’s embassy
and have a way to contact the outside world.

Why worry about these things that probably won’t come to pass? Why can’t you just go
off and have a good time? Why can’t you do both? That’s the answer – do both. You will
probably be fine, so go have a good time. If you are the kind that worries about end of
days scenarios, pick some place less high-media profile so you won’t worry and you can
enjoy it. Otherwise, keep all of this in the back of your mind so you don’t get screwed.
Yes, it sucks that affairs of state had to meddle in your good time but that’s life.

And that’s why it’s a tragedy.