Anouk Govil – The Benefits of Going Kayaking

I met Anouk Govil when I first started university here in New York, he was from Connecticut and I helped him to acclimatize somewhat to this crazy city. Last month he invited me up to his home town to spend the Easter holidays and show off what people do back up in a far quieter part of the country. During our week of activities I fell in love with kayaking and I have since started to go out on a weekend to the Hudson River to get my fix! If you have the opportunity to go kayaking where you live here is why I think that you should.

The Peace

Even in a city as hectic as New York there is great peace to be found out there on the river, especially first thing in the morning. It was far more beautiful back in Connecticut I must admit but the tranquility of floating along the water is exactly the same. If you head out alone then you can enjoy taking some time out, watching the world go by as you gently sail on down the currents of the water. There is a great peace to be found out on the water when you do go kayaking.

Fitness

It is truly blissful when you are floating down stream but when the time comes to go up against the current you really have to put some effort in. This has proven great for me from a health standpoint and after just a few weeks of kayaking I can already feel me abs getting stronger as well as my arms. When you are in the kayak there is only you to power and maneuver it which isn’t always easy, regular trips to the water in your kayak will help your health.

Back to Nature

There is something very cathartic about getting in touch with nature, some do this by hiking through forests and jungles, sleeping wild, and others get it by taking to the water. I really have enjoyed this experience and floating on the water feels like something very human and something which really brings me a great deal of joy.

Buddy Up

When I hit the water with Anouk we had a great time and it is a wonderful way of catching up with someone. Together you can float downstream, slowly chatting about the world and enjoying some very personal time with your friends.

Fun

Beyond all other reasons kayaking is a just a very fun endeavor which will put a smile on your face. I’d recommend doing this first thing in the morning if you can because it will put you in a great mood for the rest of the day. This is a sport which is only as intense as you want it to be and one which will ultimately leave you happy to be alive.

Why not give it a try this week?

Unique Destinations For Any Getaway

Planning that ultimate getaway that is a mix of both exciting and unique can sometimes be a challenge. In these days of Instagram, Facebook and more, it seems that everyone and their dog have been to the usual countries like Thailand, Mexico, Italy and more. What about those of us who crave something more – something truly unique? Something that doesn’t seem to always make the front page of social media? Here are some unique ideas you can consider for that getaway that might raise a few eyebrows.

Ireland

Have you or someone you know been to the wilds of the Emerald Isle? It may seem like it’s frequently visited, but it may surprise you if you sit down and really think about the people you know that travel that haven’t been! While it has a large tourist economy and is set up for tourists to enjoy the wilds of the Emerald Isle, a lot of people do tend to want warmth and sun during their holidays, something that Ireland can’t always guarantee. Never fear though – with rugged coastlines, amazing hospitality and Guinness that’s to die for, we’re pretty sure you won’t have too many complaints about choosing Ireland for your next getaway.

Russia

Want something that will really raise eyebrows? Why not try Russia? Many people haven’t gone to Russia for holidays, but we’re not really sure why. It’s a unique place with immense history and gorgeous architecture, along with absolutely scrumptious food – and we haven’t even mentioned the vodka! With cities like Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg to choose from, the choices will impress and delight even the most discerning of travellers. Want something extra unique? Try the Trans-Siberian train route. You can take it from Moscow all the way to Beijing if you change in Irkutsk to a different line!

Iran

This is one that will really get people talking. Iran has long been seemingly closed off for tourists and travellers, but that’s a popular misconception. In fact, Iran is open to tourists of all kinds – just… not really Americans, Brits or Canadians really. To check out this beautiful and shockingly welcoming country as one of those three you’ll need to be a part of an official tour, but if you’re just about any other nationality, you’re free to go as you please. Get ready to be mobbed by friendly locals wanting to legitimately learn about you and your homeland, get invited for tea and meals, be offered lifts to neighbouring towns and more. Don’t miss the rainbow mosque in Shiraz for an impressive photo opportunity and a chance to just relax for a bit in the colourful silence.

The ‘Stans

Most people might think you as strange for wanting to visit any of the ‘Stans, but they are not just unique, but welcoming and stunningly beautiful. Their somewhat inaccurate reputation means that there’s not many tourists around, leaving you with amazing mosques and other tourist sites in the likes of Uzbekistan almost all to yourself. Don’t miss Samarkand or Bushara for ancient Silk Road sites as well as beautiful open air mosques, desert mausoleums and more that will surprise and delight you.

With so many cool, unique and often unvisited countries in the world to check out, if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, you’re likely to find yourself having the experience of a lifetime if you’re willing to go where few have gone before. Good luck!

Amazing Asian Destinations For First Timers

Travelling to far flung, exotic and unique places in Asia is often times high on the bucket lists of many people. Who wouldn’t want to traverse unknown places, explore bustling cities, try new and strange food, see beautiful sights and more? It’s one of the most time honoured traditions that has luckily become more accessible to the masses these days thanks to cheaper flights, more competition with hotels and great travel deals to be had all over the globe. Sound like something you can get behind? Here’s a list of our favourite destinations for the traveller who wants something exciting, challenging and unique – whether it’s their first for fiftieth time abroad.

Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in South East Asia, with stunning coastline that runs the length of the country, unique rock formations in Ha Long Bay and bustling cities brimming with tasty opportunities to try local cuisine either through food tours or cooking classes. Don’t miss out on some of the historical side of the country with many different ways to learn about the Vietnam war, either through visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels, countless museums or some of the battlefields themselves, such as those near Da Nang.

Japan

Easily one of the most desired destinations for travellers to Asia, Japan has it all, a bit of something for everyone. Visit in the springtime to experience the deeply loved tradition of ‘hanami’, the enjoyment of picnicking under the sakura blossoms or its night time equivalent, ‘yozakura’. Whether you like modern and futuristic vibes or traditional culture, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy in Japan. Dine at a robot restaurant or sing karaoke in a neon lit karaoke room before touring the bright lights and strange sights and sounds of both Shinjuku and Harajuku. If you want a real physical challenge, you can try climbing Mount Fuji, or for those who want relaxation, kicking back in some hot springs is just what the doctor ordered. Whether you want tradition or modernity, Japan has it all.

China

China is a vast country with a whole host of interesting landscapes, regions and things to see and do. Whether you want a nature based experience in the likes of Yunnan province with its green, lush mountains and lakes or you want to stroll through the bright neon districts of Shanghai or Hong Kong, China is a great mixture of East meets West. For the real adventurer, check out Western China and even further into Tibet – a place that few people seem to go.

Indonesia

Beaches, bikinis and boarding is a great way to sum up Indonesia. Parts of it anyway. On the island of Bali you can laze the days away on the beach just chilling out or you can hit up beach parties, swim with turtles or explore ancient temples. For some of the best beaches, check out Gili Trawnagan island. The best temple experiences are arguably on Java island near Yogyakarta. Whatever you decide, you’ll be in awe at the beauty, nature and adventure you can have in this nation made up of a string of islands.

Wherever you decide to head for your Asian adventure, one thing is for sure – you’ll be tempted back to the region time and again. Enjoy!

European Destinations Not To Miss In 2019

Europe is one of the most sought after destinations when it comes to travelling – whether it’s a first time traveller, a seasoned globetrotter or a family getaway for the summer holidays. It’s got a bit of something for everyone, and with so many amazing countries to visit, it’s the perfect way to get the most out of any trip, whatever the length. But just which country or countries should you choose for that epic European adventure? Each has its own flavour, vibe and attractions, so how can you pick? Here’s a couple of top European destinations you should try this year.

Italy

One of the most popular options when it comes to European travel, Italy has a whole host of places to experience and things to do. Not only this, but it’s rich with history and beautiful cities to explore and even offers up some island life such as visiting the southern island of Sicily. If you’re looking for the real Italian experience though, consider a week or more in rural Tuscany, where the wine is to die for and the rolling hills will keep taking your breath away day after day.

Ireland 

Ireland may seem sometimes rainy and gloomy, but that’s part of the charm. Don’t forget some warm clothes and waterproofs and you’re sure to have the time of your life exploring the Emerald Isle and all its unique villages, towns and cities. Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle just outside Cork, catch the majestic Cliffs of Moher in county Clare or take a road trip around the Ring of Kerry – a well known route that takes you through some of the backcountry wilderness past lakes, through hills and tiny villages – some of which only got electricity in the last decade or two.

Greece

Who doesn’t want to while away the hours on a Greek island for their holiday. It’s the thing that dreams are frequently made of. With dozens of islands to choose from, plus a vast and interesting mainland rich with history and myths, Greece continues to delight visitors year after year and is almost always in the top five or ten for many people visiting Europe. Not to mention – the food is to die for, too!

Czech Republic

Known for being one of the stag party capitals of the world, the Czech Republic (sometimes known today as Czechia) is far more than just cheap beer and seedy bars. The beautiful and unique architecture of the place brings visitors from around the world to experience its museums, history and amazing food – a combination of Eastern European, German and Hungarian, the perfect mix! With spa towns and crazy sites to visit like the Ossuary at Sedlec in Kutna Hora, the Czech Republic will easily keep you guessing and engaged at every turn.

With so many cool destinations to choose from, how do you pick? If you like the sound of more than one place, why not consider a couple. The nice thing about Europe is the array of budget airlines meaning you can get from country to country quickly, easily and for far less than you might expect. Enjoy!

5 Top Tips For Visiting Russia

Have you ever dreamt of visiting somewhere exotic and exciting that many people don’t think to travel to? Eastern Europe – and Russia in particular – is a great area for those seeking a bit of a challenge. With unique culture, food, music and history, Russia has long created a sense of mystique around it, with many people who travel there reporting that it was hugely rewarding, even in the winter when the mercury can dip to bone-chilling temperatures. Sound like something you could get in on? Check out these five top tips for visiting Russia.

Get Your Visa First

One of the things you should consider doing before you do anything else is to get your Russian visa online before you go. Citizens of many countries aren’t able to get visas on arrival in the likes of Russia, so it’s imperative to get your visa before you fly or risk being turned around and denied entry. Getting a visa online is super quick and easy, and leaving this delicate aspect of your trip in the hands of professionals is a great way to ensure everything goes smoothly and leaves nothing to chance.

Try A Spa

Once you’re in Russia, one of the things you have to try is a real Russian spa. They say that it’s a great way to draw out the toxins in your body, but it also might leave you a bit shocked. Part of the spa process includes not just sitting in a sauna like we do in the west, but being hit up and down with switches of branches with leaves still on them. This helps to draw out the toxins and can actually be a fairly relaxing experience. If it’s winter, usually it’s followed by a shocking jump into an outdoor lake to help close up the pores. Try at your peril, but it would be a pretty fantastic cultural experience all the same!

Eat All The Food!

Russia has some of the most amazing food on offer and you will do yourself a disservice if you miss out and stick to things like McDonald’s or other western chains. Check out the varied, seasoned dishes like borscht (a beetroot soup), pelmeni (small dumplings with meat), varenyky (larger dumplings often with potato) and the whole range of salads, pickles and of course, vodka! The vodka distilled in Russia is some of the best in the world, so don’t miss out!

Choose Your Cities Carefully

One thing you need to do when you book a trip to Russia is to pick the cities you want to see carefully. There are a number of cities worth visiting in the country, but some can be very far distances from where you start your trip. The two most common cities to visit include St Petersburg as well as Moscow, but some like to visit Yekaterinburg as well to see the site where the last imperial family of Russia were murdered. Whatever your choices for Russian cities, know that you’re in for a treat.

Book A Car

One of the best ways to see all the sights of cities like St Petersburg and Moscow is to book a car or taxi to take you around for the day. It’s an easy and straightforward process and can be done online and ensures you will get the most out of your Russia experience with a qualified and knowledgeable driver who can even help suggest sites of interest for you.

So if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge this year, consider heading to Russia. Hopefully these cool tips will help you plan the getaway of a lifetime! Enjoy!

A Climb to be Cherished – Why Many Love Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s most sought after landmarks. A marvellous and magnificent mountain that’s surrounded by enchanting rainforest and an array of rock gardens, and topped off with a cap of snow that offers a colourful contrast to its peak. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and one that is held in high esteem for Tanzanians and the rest of the world. There’s no wonder why it is one of the most popular mountains to climb. It offers an exhilarating and exciting adventure to all who embark on the journey of climbing it. So let’s take a look at a few reasons why Kilimanjaro climbing is so loved among many.

So Much To Take In

This mountain also known as the ‘roof of Africa’ will leave you feeling like you’re on cloud nine when you reach its summit. It offers an extensive few of all that surrounds it, as well as being one of the only places a view of the equator is attainable. You don’t have to be short on exceptional imaginary when you’re surrounded by something so glorious. Have a celestial experience while you camp out on the mountain and see an astronomical amount of stars in the sky, fish for the selection of unique fauna and flora; it’s beauty at its best.

Keep Fit While Keeping Fascinated

While your eyes are gazing along the paths of this pleasant mountain and taking in all that there is to behold, you’re also burning a heap of fat. This trek will not only leave you tantalized and maybe a little tired, it will be a tremendous way to keep fit. Climb and cut calories at the same time; this is definitely a factor that drives many to take on the challenge of ascending this mountain.

Attaining an Achievement

Don’t only aim high on these Alps, aim high in your mind. What better way to make yourself feel good than conquering a mountain like this one. It’s no light thing, so once completed it’ll leave you smiling from ear to ear and chuffed about what you’ve accomplished. It takes a significant amount of skill, stamina, and self-motivation, so to overcome the various obstacles and still come out on top is cause for rejoicing. It’s an achievement that doesn’t have to be just be talked about, you’re images captured can boast of it, as well as it being a great accomplishment to jot on your C.V. to impress future employers.

Walk it While it Stands

There’s much controversy over the fact that the glaciers are shrinking from this mountain and that potential by 2030, the glaciers could disappear. It’s a disappointing point, but whether this will be the case or not, the climb is something that you should grab while it lasts. You don’t have to miss out on this marvellous experience, a trip up it can be just around the corner. And even if this mountain stays standing, you want to venture it while you’re still standing and fit a healthy; when ailments and age hinder you it may not be a possibility, so take to it while you can.

Why Not Try Somewhere New

As we start to enter holiday season again it’s time to look at some of the new emerging places in which to take a trip. Each year it seems new countries become more available to the average traveller and everybody is going to new exotic locations. The old one-week trip to Europe is no longer enough as travel becomes more affordable and our understanding of countries becomes clearer. They are no longer the distant scary places they once were, but are now easy to access, exotic and with a whole host of new experiences to offer us. This year is no different and in this article, we hope to look at a few countries which are more easily accessible than before, and which might spark your interest to travel further afield than you once might have had. We’ll look at some of its cultural and tourist hotspots to give you a flavour of some of the things these countries have to offer.

Colombia:

A country with a troubled past, it is a country quickly emerging as a hugely popular tourist location. As vast swathes of the country become more accessible to the public there are plenty of things to do and see throughout the country. You can experience the thrills of the cities of Medellin, Cali and Bogota, the jungles of the amazon and the beauty of the coast. All accessible through cheap airfare and a good transport network. The people are incredibly open and welcoming making them the main driving force behind this truly stunning country.

India:

A country and a continent in one. What better way to spend your holidays than attempting to transverse this astounding country. You can test your taste buds and strengths against the thousands of herbs and spices available throughout the country and visit manmade and natural wonders. Although some locations remain difficult to reach that is a given in a country so vast. Plan your trip carefully and you will be amazed with the differences and similarities that such a country can display to you. So go on a holiday to India.

South Africa:

One aspect of this country has been popular for a while now, but it has so much more to offer than simply a safari although this is a once in a life time event. South Africa is an ever changing and emerging country with a rich history to offer its visitors. Yes, some places would require extra caution but his is part and parcel when visiting any country be it your home country or somewhere completely new. Discover the history of the townships, the community development and of course the natural beauty of the country with its mix of European and African history mixing together.

Getting out of your comfort zone and visiting new countries is something everyone should do at least once. Maybe it will spark an increased interest you didn’t realise was there before or maybe it will be a once off, but either way a trip like this will not be something you forget to easily.

Culturally Canadian – Why You Need To Check Out Canada Now

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If you’ve never been to Canada and you’re considering going for your next holiday abroad, you’re in for a real treat. This vast country is full of things to see and do along with a rich and unique colonial history which has helped to shape some of the most beautiful cities in Ontario and Quebec. Depending what you like to do and what sorts of things you’re into there is a whole host of options for you to get stuck into Canada. Here are just a couple of great tips.

Getting In And Around

In most cases from the EU or UK the flights you get would likely fly into one of the following cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or Calgary. You can grab a flight to Toronto easily, and it’s got a nice relatively short flight time to and from the UK, meaning there’s no lengthy flights to be had which can leave you exhausted. General flight time is between 6-7 hours which is fairly decent for the length of distance being covered. Once in Canada, getting around can be a bit tricky due to the sheer size of the country. Renting a car if you’re staying around southern Ontario and Quebec is a great idea and will allow you to stop off in any of the towns and cities that tickle your fancy. If you want to head out West though, the only real viable way is by plane unless you have a lot of time at your disposal.

East Coast

The East coast of Canada is a unique mix of French, Scottish and Irish influences peppered with British in there as well. The city of Montreal is stunning and is one of the favourites for those looking to sample the Canadian national dish, poutine. Be sure to check out the equally gorgeous city Quebec for a step back into Canada’s colonial history as well as some truly awe inspiring architecture. In truth, this part of Canada is one of the cultural hotspots and is great for those who are looking to sink their teeth into Canada’s identity as both French and English. For the Scottish and Irish regions, check out Nova Scotia (literally ‘New Scotland’) and the island of Newfoundland. Be warned though – all who step foot on the island of Newfoundland seem to leave a piece of their hearts there. It’s easy to see why when you have food you won’t find elsewhere in Canada, rugged coastlines and friendliness of the locals so welcoming it would warm the coldest winter.

The West

We could honestly chat all day about all there is to see in the west. From Vancouver Island and its stunning scenery and coastline to the Badlands of Alberta, the west of Canada is ideal for those who are looking for an outdoorsy, nature-based adventure. British Columbia and Alberta are prime for those who love everything from hiking to mountaineering, camping, kayaking, white water rafting or purely just kicking back and enjoying the scenery from the balcony of your own cabin in the Rockies.

So if you’re coming to Canada, come well prepared to be blown away, regardless of which side of the country you pick. If you have a lot of time at your disposal, why not rent a car and check out a bit of both worlds? You honestly won’t regret it.

4 Practical Reasons Why You Should Definitely Get Travel Insurance

If you look at your timeline or dashboard today, you will see that it is filled with photos and check-ins of people currently traveling. A lot of us would save up for a grand traveling experience, and for good reason: there is something unique about going out to the world and experiencing the things you have only ever read about. Yes, Australia is said to have some of the best surfer beaches, but how would you know for sure if you have not been there? Malaysia has a high concentration of diverse cultures, but when are you planning to experience it and see for yourself?

But imagine this scenario for a bit: you are on a week-long trip in New Zealand and you find yourself hiking up mountains with your friends. When suddenly, you grazed your right foot on one of the sharp rocks. You will need medical attention so they bring you to the nearest hospital. In emergency cases like this, what are the first things we think about? It is usually how serious the injury is, what should be done to treat it, and how am I supposed to pay for it.

Unpredictable situations such as the scenario presented above is exactly why people get themselves an annual travel insurance. It is one of the best ways to make sure your trip will remain worry-free. To convince you even more, here are important reasons why you should get travel insurance.

For medical emergencies, assistance, and evacuation

If, during the trip, you find yourself getting sick, injured, or needing serious medical treatments, here are the expenses that can be covered with insurance:

  1. Emergency treatments that you and your insurance provider have agreed on. Depending on what you have discussed, this can cover a certain amount that can be fully covered or discounted.
  2. Medical assistance which includes transporting you through ambulance, helicopter, sea rescue boat, and plane. This also covered expenses for sending you home with a medical practitioner on board.
  3. Medical evacuation, if the hospital you are currently in do not have the means to treat your condition.

In the event that something much dire will happen, like permanent disabilities or death, these will be given coverage as well.

Personal Liability

Sometimes, we do not injure ourselves during unforeseen incidents; we accidentally hurt someone else. If you have hurt other people or have broken their property, this can be covered by your travel insurance. But there are exceptions: vehicular accidents and animals that you will bring in the country will have to be discussed further with your provider. If this leads to legal troubles, your insurance can cover litigation expenses.

Missed, cancelled, or interrupted flights

In other times, the emergencies happen at our homes. If you need to cut your trip short, depending on the parameters you and your insurance provider discussed, you can get compensation for your trip. Additionally, if you missed a flight, you can get on the next scheduled flight without having to shell out additional expenses.

Personal belongings

Lost and damaged items can be given coverage. Discussions about your baggage and personal belongings with your insurance provider should include a list of items you deem extremely important and have them covered.

It is always important to be ready for all kinds of situations, especially for traveling. Review these points and make sure you get to have an extensive discussion with your chosen provider.

Inexpensive Communication Tips for Travel Abroad

When you’re traveling abroad, particularly if you’re gone for an extended period of time, one of your top concerns is probably how you can stay in contact with people back home. Unfortunately one of the downsides of traveling internationally is the fact that it can be expensive, or potentially even unsafe from a cybersecurity perspective to communicate in certain ways.

Some ways are cheap, easy and secure methods for communicating no matter where you might be in the world.

The following are some tips.

Consider an International Phone Plan

If you don’t travel that often and you’re only going to be gone for say a week or two, you might bring your own smartphone but talk to your phone company beforehand about getting an international plan with basic data and calling capabilities.

This is going to be less expensive than many other options, and you still get the benefit of having your contact information and your phone number so that you can get in touch with people at home, and they can do the same with you.

Email

Email is, of course, a great way to stay in touch while you travel, but you need to be aware of mail security issues that can arise. When you travel internationally and you email, particularly if you’re using public wi-fi, you’re putting yourself at risk for being the victim of a cyber-attack.

There are email security tools you can use to protect yourself while you’re away, and you can make sure you’re still connected to what’s happening back home, whether it’s personal or work-related.

Google Voice

Google Voice can be a great option for communicating while you’re overseas. With Google Voice, you can forward your calls so that while you’re away and people call you, you’ll be able to answer from your computer or device. It’s like having your phone with you wherever you go, but without the costs of a phone plan and the inconvenience of having to sign up for an international plan.

Portable Wi-Fi

Most of the best free and inexpensive ways to communicate while you abroad require internet access, but as mentioned above, using public wi-fi can leave you vulnerable to attacks.

One solution is to use something like a portable wi-fi device. This would let you use your smartphone and access the internet from anywhere, and you’ll have the benefits of security, portability, and you don’t have to worry about unreliable internet access.

This isn’t necessarily the cheapest option on this list, but it can be one of the best, particularly if you’re traveling with a group and you can all split the cost.

WhatsApp

Finally, a good way to send quick messages and stay in contact not only with people back home but maybe with people you’re traveling with is to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp will let you send messages fast and easily, regardless of the type of phone you’re using. If you needed to get in touch with your traveling companion and let them know, for example of a change of plans that evening, WhatsApp could be helpful.

Regardless of the international communication options you select, always keep security as a top consideration.