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Travel Wisdom

The Trouble with Tour Groups

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It’s amazing how what you consider to be travel isn’t at all what someone else does. Take tour groups for example. There are a lot of people who only travel as part of an organized group, complete with guide and fixed itinerary. They feel it maximizes their time, gets them the best information possible and best of all, they don’t need to worry about figuring out the details for themselves. They just pay the price and pack their bags.

Traveling like this can be great if you know you’re terrible at organizing things but still want to see the world, yet it can be extremely limiting as well. Planning a vacation can be a rather daunting task if you’ve never done it before, but that’s the only way you learn. Some people, particularly older travellers, don’t have the energy or knowledge relating to the modern means of travel, but they do have money and that means paying for a tour group is smart for them. If you’re young and poor though, do it yourself and avoid the travel group.

Here are a few reasons why tour groups aren’t the best way to travel.

 

They are Overpriced

Everyone has a different idea about what something is worth, but even if you think the price of your tour is outstanding, you could more than likely put something together yourself for much cheaper – it might just take a little extra work. When paying for a tour group, you’re not just paying for yourself but for having the guide around as well. Do a little research when you decide to go on a holiday and discover the deals for yourself.

 

5855_793007070891_656548_nNot for the Imaginative 

There are a lot of really fantastic tours out there covering a range of destinations and interests but even the most adventurous one is pretty limiting in its scope. A lot of tour groups will allot time for independence and exploration but generally this isn’t enough to really see things on your own or make side trips – and if it’s nothing but free time, why are you in a tour group to begin with? The beauty of a tour group is that you don’t really have to think about anything, but that’s also one of its drawbacks.

 

A ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach

Sure, you can get a tour that caters to a specific demographic, be it young people or seniors, but in the end a tour group is about meeting everyone’s needs. The effect of this is nobody is outstandingly impressed but no one is offended or left out, which is a pretty bland way to see the world. Travel is going to have its highs and its lows and you should be able to experience that instead of the happy medium that can be a bit suffocating.

Travel Wisdom

Reasons to Take the Train

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It seems like every traveller has their preferred way of getting around and to suggest doing something different would be borderline blasphemous. A lot of it stems from what you’re used to or even just what you started out doing either from a friend suggesting it or what your family frequented. People who have never been on planes before and actively avoid them may be doing it out of a misplaced fear out of safety or expense; the same thing goes for taking a boat, except that it’s far too slow and they don’t know where they could get to on one.

When it comes to trains and your comfort with seeing them as a viable transportation system, it really depends on where you live. Some countries have excellent rail systems, commuter and distance, and others do not – and your experience with them develops as such. If you’re skipping out on taking the train though, for whatever reason, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

And here’s why:

Departures are a Breeze

For anyone used to flying, a train station is a breath of fresh air. Far from being the militarized hubs so many airports have turned into, train stations are usually open air and getting on board is a simple thing. Security check points are virtually non existent at train stations, which can lead to a less tense atmosphere when it comes to train travel.

More Relaxed Pace

On board a train you can get up and walk around far easier than you can on a plane, which leads to a generally more enjoyable experience. More space to move around, sit and relax means you can take it easy on route to your destination and arrive refreshed.

canada-train_1292451cEnjoy the Journey

Trains generally pass through some pretty spectacular scenery from time to time which means getting a window seat has its advantages, unlike the tiny porthole on a plane. Some people take a train for the benefit of being able to view their surroundings, perhaps getting off at random stops to look around as they desire.

Can be Cheaper

In many instances you can save a great deal of money travelling by train than you can by flying, making it a far more affordable method of travel than others. Some trains are quite expensive depending on the class of car you choose, the distance, the country and the destination, but generally you come out ahead on a train. Plus, most train stations are fairly central in the city of departure and arrival, unlike airports, making the whole experience less of a hassle.

Travel In the News

Would You go to Mars?

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It’s a great time to be alive!

No, we haven’t made it to Mars yet let alone colonize it, and the technology needed to send anyone there and back is a ways away… but I’m still excited. Want to know why? It’s because there’s an idea out there and ideas inspire.

When the announcement was made for a one way trip to Mars, I think everyone’s initial reaction was ‘Who would ever do that?’. I know that was my first one. Actually, my first one was to be excited that they were thinking of this. Yes, that’s how my brain works. When it came to that second thought though, I then immediately thought of how our perceptions have changed about travel frontiers in the past few centuries.

ewjkaq4utbuprrok6munalu-wflfsolk2wlzwc0zda0No, leaving this planet and going to another is hugely different from crossing the ocean to an known location, but it all depends on how you look at it. Given our technology level and knowledge a few millennia ago, it would be unthinkable to cross an ocean and to make it back. We couldn’t survive the journey due to lack of water and food; crossing the water would be wrought with storms and other unknowns and then once we got to our destination, if it even existed, would there be anything there? Would monsters eat us?

Actually, when I think about it, going to Mars has a lot more knows about it than early seafaring did. We know Mars isn’t habitable by current standards but most importantly – we know it actually exists, which is more than most people could say about the New World.

Those who did strike out and do it had their reasons, but for many it was for adventure. Just like those who are signing up to go to Mars, many seem misguided (one person said they liked roller coasters and other thrills, so going to Mars makes sense… uhhh…. no), but they will be weeded out until only the dedicated and suitable remain.

Is the whole Mars thing ridiculous? Of course. Are there going to be problems? More than likely. Does that mean we should give up? Of course not. The simple truth is we need to keep striving for something larger than ourselves. We are ridiculous to think this planet will always sustain us and that we’re perfectly safe here. Additionally, we need something to satisfy our curiosity and I really can’t think of anywhere better than by exploring space.

What a time to be alive!

Places to Go

The Key to a Great Night Out in Barcelona

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It’s really hard to have a bad time in Barcelona. During the day it’s bursting with culture from every historic building, marketplace and crowded street – but at night, it becomes something else entirely. There are great places to stay just outside of the city but to get the full experience you have to stay as close to downtown as possible. Hostel Bookers has access to all sorts of these gems and you can book yourself into those party central hostels or the more subdued ones depending on your taste. It’s a lot easier to use Hostel Bookers than risking not getting something by just waiting until you arrive, so be sure to make use of it.

If it’s your first time in Barcelona, it may be easy to be overwhelmed or even feel unsafe by the different vibe that emerges once the sun goes down but it really isn’t too different than any other city. Be smart about your surroundings (so don’t go down sketchy looking alleys), stick to groups of people and keep an eye on your bags/possessions at all times. As long as you keep your wits about you, you won’t have any trouble and are up for a fantastically amazing time.

Here are some sure fire ways to have a great time on your nights out in Barcelona.

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk

This isn’t so much about the safety issue (although it should be mentioned) but more so about getting out and seeing the city on foot at night. Many of the alleys turn into these lively meeting places where there always seems to be a party and just feels fun. Plus, it’s cheaper than taking a taxi or metro.

A Great Meal

The locals eat late, so you should too. Start out the evening with some tapas (maybe around 5pm) but that will only hold you over until your real meal much later, like around 10pm. Many restaurants will be open very late and have ridiculously good food and spirits available – and everyone knows a great night starts with a great meal!

Stay Out Late

Like… really late. If your instinct is to be in bed before midnight, try to fight against that. If you think 2am is the perfect time to go to a club and closing time is for wusses, Barcelona is the city for you. Try to make it as long as you can because for many people, the best way to cap a night off in Barcelona is to…

72_518534551021_9698_nWatch the Sunrise

Walk over to one of the beaches and pick out a good spot to just chill out and watch the day’s first colours emerge on the horizon. If you can still stomach it, crack open a beer or some delicious drink and toast the return of the day. It may be something that you’ve seen a million times before, but after a great night out, it goes down remarkably smooth.

Good People

It goes without saying that the people make the place and Barcelona is no exception. You can make tons of great friends on a night out or through your hostel but choosing to travel here with a great group of friends is really the best way to go.