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Places to Go

Enjoy the Warmth, Not the Heat!

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After winter had receded to little more than a distant memory, it’s hard not to get excited about the summer. The very thought of not wearing every article of clothing you own just to cross the parking lot can be a very alluring prospect to even the most acclimatized of individuals. Sure, you can get used to the cold weather and even look forward to it in the midst of a heat wave but there’s just something more appealing about everything coming alive again – plus, if the world was always cold… well… you get the idea.

With this in mind, sometimes the heat can be a bit much at times. Depending on where you live or travel to, you can be literally stewing and hating every second of it. As a general rule, travelling or moving in general is not advised during the hottest of temperatures as it’s hard to breath and it’s just not comfortable – even if your vacation is only lying on a beach getting wasted out of your mind. Wouldn’t it be great to travel to places that didn’t see you suffer as much?

Here are a few travel destinations that, even in the midst of summer, aren’t heat death traps.

Vancouver, Canada 

You might be surprised to learn most of Canada is ridiculously hot in the summer, particularly in southern Ontario around Toronto to Ottawa (that Ottawa valley can be insane in the summer and winter!), but west of the Rocky Mountains it’s all good. It never gets too hot in Vancouver thanks to the Pacific Ocean and mountains doing their part, making for great times on patios or going on hikes in the incredible wilderness.

resized_650x365_458179Lausanne, Switzerland

Another mountain destination (or rather, mountain country), Lausanne can get decently warm by Switzerland standards but thanks to its location on a lake and by the mountains you won’t hate your life for travelling there. This is a good thing, as anyone looking to partake in sightseeing this beautiful city should be prepared to do a decent bit of walking – with a lot of it being uphill!

Hobart, Australia

The capital city everyone seems to forget about in Australia is a first class destination regardless of the time of year, but while the rest of the country is baking, Hobart is taking it easy in true Tasmania style. It’s far enough south that the warm air mass that settles over the Outback has little influence on it and varied enough in its topography that changes in elevation alter the feeling – perfect for exploring all that sweet convict history.

Edinburgh, Scotland

While it’s true that Scotland is one of the last places lovers of hot weather would ever go, it can be very refreshing at the end of a summer European vacation to end in the greenest place on Earth. Edinburgh seems to have its share of warm weather days but mostly it’s a sweet release from the heat that hits mainland Europe – even in it’s hottest time of the year!

The Way Less Travelled

Race Travel – What to Watch Out For

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Anyone who has taken part in some sort of race, be it a relay, obstacle course or marathon knows they are a ton of fun and a great test of your physical prowess. Joining in with people who have come together to do something intense builds a great sense of camaraderie and this is no less true when you do it overseas. There is a fantastic sporting community out there and doing it outside of your home country seems the natural step if you’re a fan of travel as well.

20110723-ToughMudderWI-Gudkov-0180While many international races like Tough Mudder are open to people from all walks of life, you have to take a few things into account before you plan an entire trip around taking part in it. Just the same way travel presents a host of challenges and things to plan for, travelling to take part in a race requires some foresight otherwise you could be in for a rude awakening.

Registration

Sometimes for these events you are required to show up days in advance to officially register in person and this cannot be done online. You may have to sign a liability waiver and even undergo certain tests to make sure you are fit to participate. In a few extreme cases, you may even have to qualify in designated heats before you can join in the official competition. Oh, and you’ll also have to pay – and this can increase the closer you get to the race date and may have different rates for teams.

International Support

This seems like a no brainer, but make sure the race actually allows for international competitors as it could be closed to domestics only. In some cases you may be able to take part so long as you are aware you cannot claim a prize or be recognized officially, but these are the kinds of things to find out before you leave!

Language Issues

Many races these days are available in a variety of languages, but depending on your familiarity with that language, it could make the actual race a bit difficult. If an emergency comes up or a notice is advertised and you cannot understand it, it could be a huge headache!

Medical Issues

Without a doubt, this is the biggest issue to be aware of. There’s always been risks to travel but getting involved in physical activities is more risky. It’s true that you can get hurt doing almost anything, but physical activities increase that risk to the point that ordinary health insurance may not cover it. You would be advised to make sure you have taken the necessary precautions to save yourself potentially thousands of dollars of medical bills for something as simple as twisting your ankle in the first five minutes and being taken in an ambulance to a hospital – something you might not realize will cost you until the bill comes.

Travel Wisdom

Why You Should Leave Your Tech at Home

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These days the most likely of travel companions isn’t a good pair of shoes or a bag but a tablet, laptop or smart phone and it’s a result of the age we live in. We have become so obsessed with stay in constant connection with each other at all times that the devices have effectively become a part of ourselves. There are probably some people who you sincerely cannot imagine without them being on their phone – it’s that ridiculous.

It used to be that taking a trip meant that you had to do without certain luxuries or conveniences and people got extremely creative with this deprivation. While it might sound crazy to voluntarily leave your devices at home, it might not be the worst idea you’ve ever had – and here are a few reasons why:

Nobody here can do without their technology!
Nobody here can do without their technology!

It Might get Stolen

Anyone who walks down the street holding their tablet or phone out in the open immediately marks themselves as a target to would be thieves. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be that blatant, but thieves know to look for subtle hints of things to take, such as handbags and backpacks that aren’t quite secure enough. A few years ago a friend of mine had his iPod stolen 30 minutes into arriving in Geneva because he left the earbuds hanging out of his coat when he left it draped over his chair to get a bagel. It can happen that fast, it’s extremely inconvenient when you lose them and they are exceeding expensive to replace.

Stay Disconnected 

Always being in contact with people has its advantages but it can also be irritating. Information overload can really bum you out if you’re always being hit in the face with it but you can even go into withdrawal by not having instant access all the time. Cut your habit and go unplugged!

Keeping it Charged is a Pain

When you have an electronic device, your life turns into a constant search for outlets to plug into. Airports are fairly reliable, even are your accommodations, but everyone else usually has the same bright idea and it can be tough to find an outlet in convenient and safe location. Additionally, you have to worry about adapters and cords and… well… it would just be better to not have them at all.

Focus on the Journey

This is probably the biggest reason to leave your tech at home and it’s for no other reason than so you can just sit back and enjoy your trip. You spent a lot of money and time putting together this venture and to constantly be checking your messages, being on Facebook or compulsively playing mindless games can detract from the whole reason you got away in the first place – to do something different!

Places to Go

Treed Areas I’d Love to Explore

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Trees have always blown me away ever since I learned about the rings they have in their trunks. They don’t move, often outlive us all and clean the air that we breathe – that’s pretty amazing. Despite moving onto and beyond a more industrial age that doesn’t rely on timber to the same extent we once did, it’s pretty amazing how many products we use come from trees and how often we take them for granted.

A simple tree on a horizon can make a beautiful backdrop; a group clustered together can be a great place to explore and a suitable habitat for animal life and other vegetation. There is a point at which trees won’t grow and there are places where you’d be hard pressed to keep them from sprouting. There are giant trees a few decades old and tiny saplings that are centuries in age – I don’t know why, but I find this incredible.

Forests don’t rank too high on people’s ‘must see’ lists because, well, the really impressive ones are hard to get to and they don’t offer the kind of wow factor structures or other natural elements do. Even still, they are still impressive to check out and can definitely put life into perspective. For even as people are the dominant beings on the planet, forests have outlived us all – and likely will continue to do so.

Here are some of the forests/jungles I’d love to check out:

AmazonRainforestAmazon Rainforest

This has to be one of the most famous forests in the world and the most popular one cited when it comes to conservation of natural places. From tribes of people to native plants that are only found here, it’s an incredible place teeming with life and mystery. Plus, the Amazon river is the widest in the world – that would be pretty cool to see too.

British Columbia

Just take a drive from Vancouver to Whistler and try not to be blown away at the number of trees that wind and bend with the road up the mountains and out to the sea. It’s a magical place that seems like time just forgot about it, even if it is being cut down as well.

Siberia

Vast, sparsely populated and harsh even in favourable temperatures, Siberia is that place that just humbles you to even hear about it. It’s forests seem so numerous that logging it can’t be catalogued properly, but passing through it on a trans-Siberian rail journey will make you realize how important they are to the natural identity of this land.

Madagascar

I’ve always been amazed at Madagascar for the sole reason of those giant trees that look like they belong in dinosaur ages – and I’m not far off of that. An island off the coast of Africa that really hasn’t changed much since then in many ways would definitely be worth checking out if I got the chance!