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Travel Wisdom

The Best Travel Apps with Maps

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Getting around in a foreign city or country can be challenging. Your GPS may be slow to work or it may not work at all. To make sure that you always know exactly where you’re going – and exactly how to get there, you need to do a little planning before you go. Luckily, there are many apps that make travelling easier. Here are some of the best travel apps with maps, to ensure that your next trip goes off without a hitch.

Best Travel App

Need a detailed map? Then the Best Travel app is your ideal choice. Thankfully, you only have to pay for the app once, rather than for each individual map you need to look at. Best of all, this handy app stores the maps that you need on your phone. So, whether or not you have Wi-Fi or data available, everything you need is right there! There are thousands of zoomable maps available, plus highlighted points of interest, and even travel guides. This map app has a little bit of everything!

The Snow Report

There is more than one kind of map app. It isn’t just about finding your way through the busy streets…it also has to do with the snow! This next app, the Snow Report, focuses on snowy areas to avoid (or head to, if you’re going skiing!). Plus, there are detailed trail maps available. They can help you get back to your hotel or accommodations for the night as easily as possible. Perhaps the best thing about this app is that it is totally free.

submainNew York Subway App

Getting around in New York can be a little complicated. Make it simpler by having the New York Subway map downloaded on your phone. It has a map of the city, all of the major stations, helps you plan your route, and even gives you a street view of the major stations. It makes getting around the Big Apple easier than ever.

Localipedia App

You need detailed maps to get around. This next app for your smart phone or tablet is the Localipedia App. It includes maps for many different local areas as well as Wikipedia articles about the place you’re visiting. That means there is tons of helpful information about where you’re staying, right at the touch of a button. This app is also free to download, so you won’t even have to spend extra cash to learn more about your favourite travel destinations.

AlpineQuest GPS Hiking App

Another map app you can’t do without? The AlpineQuest GPS Hiking App. This is ideal for travellers that like to hike and see the world. This isn’t your typical map…this super useful phone app can be used to target your location and guide you back to your starting point. It can also let you know about the terrain you are approaching. These maps can also be saved on your phone, so they don’t rely on having a signal to work. This is one way to stay safe – and know exactly where you’re going.

Travel smart by having map apps downloaded to your phone before you go anywhere. Not only are they useful but they can keep you safe, too. Don’t spend your vacation getting lost and stressing out. Enjoy it from start to finish!

Travel Wisdom

More Tips for Traveling on Your Own

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If you have decided to travel on your own, you will have a great chance to learn more about yourself while seeing a new place. Being on your own as you travel means that you will be able to completely tailor the experience to how you want it and you will not need to compromise in terms of the things that you want to do. With that said however, there are some practicalities that you will need to take into account to assure your safety and that you have the best time that you can. A little planning and thinking ahead can go a long way while traveling on your own.

Pack Wisely

Traveling on your own means that there is not anyone else there to combine luggage with so you will have to pack wisely. Remember that in general less is more and that you should not pack things that you cannot afford to lose. One of the classic missing items nightmares for solo travelers is lost travel documents and ID’s. A good idea to proactively work against this is to make copies of your documents in case of emergency this will greatly increase the pace that they can be replaced. Also, as a last note, be sure to pack your camera. On your own taking pictures will help you remember the experience and can also act as a conversation starter with strangers.

113_558805981751_841_nUse your instincts

Traveling on your own doesn’t mean you should allow anxiety and fear of strangers to paralyze you, but it does mean that you should follow your instincts if people, situations, and places you are in don’t feel right. If you do end up in these situations, try to gracefully slip away without alerting those around you to your concern. There are a number of tactful excuses that could be used, perhaps the best is that you are meeting a friend and have to leave. In order to avoid anxiety it is a good idea as well to avoid using ATM machines at night and in poorly populated areas. Also booking your accommodation in advance will help alleviate lingering anxiety and ensure that you have a safe haven to retreat to at night. Look to only book well reviewed hostels and hotels that are in areas of town that are heavily populated.

Travel Wisdom

Who Cares if It’s a Foreign Chain – It’s Delicious!

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There are few things more region specific than food, which is why it’s not unusual for people to vacation to regions known for a particular type of food. It’s known to them, they like it and they look forward to the authentic experience. Of course once they arrive they realize that while the locals do eat differently than they do, there is a love for foreign chain restaurants, particularly American ones, that cannot be denied.

This upsets many people for a number of reasons. One is that they have travelled far away to escape the every day and have instead run right into the arms of the familiar. Another reason is this perception that, like back home, chain restaurants have taken away from independent ones and have homogenized the dining industry. Finally though, and most often is the case, people are upset because it ruins the idealistic image they have of other cultures as being above the whole chain thing. We westerners are decadent and have eschewed priorities – other cultures are above that!

Except they’re not. Sure, some chains just don’t work in some countries either because it’s facing competition from an existing, local favourite, or because the tastes of the locals don’t match those of the foreigners. What this fails to recognize is chain restaurants exist because they are successful and they would not be successful if people did not enjoy the product they create.

mega-teriyaki-macThere are thousands of sushi restaurants in Tokyo but McDonalds still thrives. Doughnut shops and coffee shops aren’t hard to find but Krispy Kreme and Starbucks are successful as alternative competition. Is it bad if you visit any of these when you’re in Japan or should you only look for the ‘Japanese’ businesses to patronize?

The answer, of course, is do what you want. These places exist both because the local populace enjoys what is served and so foreigners have something familiar. Except where racial stupidity exists, businesses just want money and they don’t care where it comes from.

If you feel though that you aren’t an authentic traveller because you partake in chain restaurant dining when you should be eating how the locals do, take a look around. You’ll probably notice a lot of locals. Plus, locals are working there – by eating there, you are supporting them. Should you only eat in places you recognize? Of course not – but that goes true for when you’re back home too. It never hurts to break routine and try something different and you don’t need to be away on vacation to do that.

 

Travel Wisdom

The Smells of a Tropical Getaway

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I find the best vacations are those that ignite all of your senses but in particular, it’s the sense of smell that really adds to the appeal. There is a fair body of evidence that suggests your sense of smell is the strongest sense tied to memory, so engaging it is a sure fire way to ensure you have a trip to remember.

All vacations have their familiar smells, regardless of if it’s a backpacking odyssey or a road trip with only periodic emergences. There are smells that are distinct only to certain locales, be it the smell of freshly baked bread in a bakery district or the grotesque but oddly appealing odour of a millennia old sewer system. Those who routinely travel to Australia will surely recognize many of the pleasant smells associated with the area, such as the barbecues, the fresh rain, and the salt water. You will remember these smells for the rest of your life, instantly transporting yourself back there if you get a hint of that smell in your every day life.

Here are a few of the great scents from a tropical vacation that you will bring back home with you!

The Food

Food is one of the great pleasures in life and it isn’t just restricted to the sense of taste – its smell is enough to make you dream of your little island in the sun. The smell of Australian cuisine is sure to bring back fond memories to those who have visited the area, from the leg of lamb roasts to simple fish and chip dishes, the outback has some incredible meals accompanied by pleasant odors. Whether it’s the jerk chicken grilling up on the beach barbecues or delicacies that waft over you upon entering the dining hall, food just makes us feel all over good and it’s a vital part of any tropical getaway.

The Beverages

For some people, this is the only reason they make their way to an all inclusive resort – the seemingly unlimited flow of tropical drinks. With ingredients like pineapple juice, coconut milk and papayas, it’s hard not to start salivating just at the mention of them. Couple those tall cool drinks with a smidgen of rum and you’ve got the recipe for all over good times that start simply by breathing it all in.

palm-tree-beach-006The Beach

Maybe it’s the salty sea air washing over you and penetrating your senses but the smell of a great beach can make all your worried melt away. Nothing beats the brisk ocean air smell of the beaches. Brisbane is a great location for any getaway, whether you’re by yourself or with the family. Go surfing on the Gold Coast or just relax by the beach and take in the beautiful scenery that is, in many ways, unique to Australia. Those who have been to Australia before are in for a pleasant surprise if they decide to return, as the smells of the beach are sure to bring back all the great memories of their first trip. Couple this with the smell of a particular sunscreen you may use for your whole vacation and you’ll be hard pressed not to be immediately reminded of these great times once you’re back home and lathering up!

The Good Times

Do good times have a scent? There are those out there who would say of course not but really, it’s the whole experience that makes a trip memorable and the smell definitely plays a part in that. If you had a memorable time in Australia, then perhaps it is time to consider scheduling another trip to the area. It’s easy to book a trip online, and you’ll surely remember what made your first visit so incredible once those odors hit you again. From the time you set foot on the beach, grab some food or get handed a drink you know you’re in the right place because it just smells perfect and all it takes is one of those smells to hit you back home for you to be transported right back to where it all began.

 

Travel Wisdom

Do Travel Nomads Actually Exist?

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There are a lot of people out there who strive to attain a simplicity in their life that only comes from living in a highly complicated world. Maybe it’s a counter culture to our highly structured, urbanized lives or an actual belief that things were better in an era long gone (so called ‘golden era’ thinking), but this movement to traditional means seldom gets painted in a negative light. At it’s most extreme, it is what we should all strive for but at it’s most basic, it’s held on equal terms as far as what can be boasted about. After all, there are a number of locations in the world that are perfect for the nomadic traveler. Australia, for example, has plenty of great travel destinations like Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the travelling community you have a group of people who call themselves nomads that really have no business doing so. Strictly speaking, a nomad is someone who has no home and moves around from place to place as a means of survival. A modern interpretation of this behavior would be the act of booking multiple hotels and hopping from room to room while exploring an exciting new area. There are plenty of affordable hotels in Perth, Sydney or even Melbourne and they are also just a great area to soak in a new culture. The street art and culture in Melbourne is considered to be some of the best in Australia, and nomadic travelers can visit the State Theater or Harner Hall and catch a show. As most people have homes, whether they still reside with their parents or gave up their apartments, and the definition of modern survival is very different than that of the classical nomadic cultures, needless to say the term doesn’t really apply.

Or does it?

I mean, if you are really moving from place to place and find odd jobs as you will to survive then… sure, you’re a travel nomad. Keep in mind, you’ll have to do this until you die and you cannot go back to wherever you came from.

Yes, the travelling community has appropriated this term to describe a type of long term traveller who often seeks out the simple and is constantly learning about life but this is not what a nomad is. Nomads don’t have the luxury to observe for the sake of being enlightened – they are too busy worrying about finding their next meal or avoiding being killed by raiders.

There is nothing wrong with not subscribing to the button down lifestyle of your peers and wanting to light out for the territory, but were it not for those who had done this, you would not be able to make that choice for yourself. Some may choose not to travel outside of their country (or even state) for plenty of reasons, while others may have a strong urge to see the world, to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, to catch a glimpse of the exotic wildlife in Brisbane’s Australian Zoo, or perhaps to take in the mind-blowing complexities of Perth’s beautiful public art. Why do you think the nomad way of life gave way to the sedentary one?

It’s fine if people want to call themselves nomads when really they are probably just indecisive flakes who need to feel original by going against the grain, because in actuality, this is probably the new definition of what a nomad is. In fact, I have no problem with people who choose this lifestyle because it ultimately is not for me. In this day and age of online hotel and flight reservations it is not very difficult to travel abroad and see the world like a nomadic individual of the past. All I ask is that you don’t look down on the way I do things because I don’t buy all my food from local organic markets or carbon offset all by travel.

There are many different ways to live – just be thankful that you have that choice.