Top Travelers Backpack with Brains – Part 1

Top Travelers Backpack with Brains

In all the excitement of receiving those round the world tickets, (or planning your route around Europe, Asia, or wherever), whilst attending the numerous fair well soirees often we forget the fact that this trip is real. You are actually going. With this in mind, we would like to share some easy fundamentals that will help you make the ultimate of ultimate experiences. We don’t want to be too militant. In fact going with the flow is to be advocated, but laying some foundations that will help along the way is a good idea. Being a bit brainy will help your backpacking experience be so much easier and easier is good. Huffing and puffing your way around the world wishing you were at home is not the way to go.  Backpacking is the experience of a lifetime (especially when done well). For the most enjoyable of trips, here’s some of the best advice from those in the know:

Be a Smooth Operator: Packing Less is Best

Seriously, you may know already if you’ve ever hiked your way into a music festival with your saucepans swinging from the arms of your rucksack, packing too much just makes you feel tired, frustrated and a bit silly. As a backpacker, you’re going to be on the move. There will be times when you’re up at 4am in the morning when everyone in the dorm is sleeping and you want to be able to make an exit that is quiet and nicely done. Don’t become an infamous carrier bag rustler – the world already has too many. Make an art form of what you pack and pack light. You will feel so much more confident with a lighter bag – and yes, on occasion, maybe a even a little smug.

By packing as little as possible you will infinitely benefit yourself. You won’t want to burst into tears every time you have to dash for a bus, or train, or somehow do a 12 hour bus journey with your backpack on your lap. You won’t have to pay additional charges to get it on the plane. You won’t find it so laborious every time you have to pack and unpack your bag to find something (that is always, without fail, right at the bottom). You won’t have to do so much washing and you will have space if you need it for lovely new things you pick up along the way.


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Posted in How To Travel Advice by Lauren D. Collins. Comments Off on Top Travelers Backpack with Brains – Part 1

HostelTraveler.com Weighs In on Fair Practices for OTAs

HostelTraveler.com, operated by Instant World Booking, has reviewed the Sydney Declaration.  Following a meeting of a group of leading youth travel accommodation providers and associations at WYSTC 2013, a position statement was agreed upon regarding online distribution practices.

HostelTraveler.com represents a significant share of hosteling OTA volume worldwide, and is the only top 5 hostel OTA based in the United States. From that vantage point, HostelTraveler.com has a fairly unique view on the issues set forth.

For more information on the Sydney Declaration, see: Sydney Declaration

Based on our review, HostelTraveler.com supports the intent of the Sydney Declaration. In fact, we are pleased to disclose that at least 80% of the Declaration is already in force within HostelTraveler.com’s terms and conditions, and have been so since the inception of the company. The management of our company decries the practice of requiring rate or availability parity, and have never done so ourselves. Our principles are founded on the basis that flexible service to our hostel partners is the best way to serve the needs of the industry.

We congratulate the WYSE Travel Confederation on their work so far, and will continue to follow it’s progress.


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Unspoiled Charm of the Baltic Sea

The Unspoiled Charm of the Baltic Sea

The Baltic region, known as such for its position next to the Baltic Sea, compromises a collection of countries, all of which host uncontested pleasures. The Baltic region is home to some of the finest historical architecture and to some of the most cosmopolitan of capital cities. It boasts the grandeur of cities such as St Petersburg juxtaposed by long, isolated, undiscovered coastlines. It is ideal for explorer’s; there is something new to do and see each day. There is dense and diverse heritage and vast, multifarious landscapes around which to plan your ideal trip. Whether you find accommodation as you go along (so that you can follow your whim) or plan an itinerary beforehand the region has a plethora of experience which goes unrivaled by anywhere else in the world.

The Baltic States

The largely forgotten, Baltic States, are home to wild and ragged coastlines, sparsely populated islands, acres of untouched forestry, crystal clear lake water and some astounding medieval architecture. These countries, dense with history and culture, are a must-explore of the Baltic Region.

  • Estonia

Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is like a scene from a fairy tale. One of the legacies of invading empires is the medieval architecture and grand manor houses which adorn the city’s streets. Tallinn is home to the 13th century Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which can be found on Toompea Hill.  From Toompea Hill (which also situates Toompea Castle) there is a spectacular view of the Gulf of Finland.

Out of the city, Estonia is rich with forestry, rivers, lakes and waterfalls, wonderful for trekking, canoeing or simply admiring. There are stunning coastlines; all of which are untainted and pristine with natural beauty.

On the Eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, Latvia is the most diverse of the Baltic States; a third of the population of Latvia is of Russian descent. This is epitomized by its capital city, Riga, which is cosmopolitan and vibrant. It is a rival for Prague and has the added bonus of being relatively undiscovered by tourists. Less than an hour away from the buzz of this city is Sigulda – otherwise known as ‘Little Switzerland’. Here there is a national park, a medieval castle and even a bobsleigh run if you’ve feeling like something really fun to do!

The Bauska Region is also less than an hour from Riga, but to the south. The region is known for its castles and palaces with architectural magnificence ranging from medieval to classical. An absolute must see is Rundal Palace; built in the 1730’s and designed by the same architect who became infamous for Winter Palace in St Petersburg.

  • Lithuania

Lithuania, also rich in history and culture, has a warm and outgoing population of people. The capital of Lithuania (the largest city in the country) is Vilnius. Vinius, situated in the south-east of the country and built on the bank of the Neris River, was once one of the biggest cities in Europe. It still displays one of the largest Baroque Old Towns.

Whilst in Lithuania, a trip 150 miles Northwest of Vilnius is essential. Here on a small mound is the ‘Hill Of Crosses’. The Lithuanian people have erected hundreds of crosses to represent their peaceful resistance to foreign oppression. Lithuania did not achieve absolute independence from the Soviet Union until the 1990’s and they also experienced Nazi occupation during WW2.

Beyond the Baltic States

As the Baltic Region is geographically positioned along the Baltic Sea it is possible to travel either by land or by water. Making a sea cruise part of your trip can be a wonderful way of visiting a multitude of destinations and experiencing the Baltic Region from a different viewpoint. The region includes the Baltic States; Denmark, Germany, Finland, Poland, Russia, Norway and Sweden. There is opportunity to see the eerily transcendental natural beauty of the Northern Lights, the majesty of St Petersburg, the white sand dunes and sapphire sea of the East German coast, the dramatic white cliffs of South Zealand in Denmark – not to mention heritage reaching as far back as the medieval times, relics from the Vikings, Gothic churches and some of the most vivacious cities of the world such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Berlin.

Spanning a reasonably small area the Baltic Region has a rich tapestry of history and a medley of culture to be discovered. The landscapes are as diverse as the people that populate them and the architecture rich with historic identity. In many places it is fabulously serene and unspoilt, whilst it also offers some of the world’s most exquisite cities. With such an array, the Baltic Region’s magnificence is unlikely to remain a well-kept secret for long.


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Posted in Best Places to Visit Best Things To Do Travel Advice by Lauren D. Collins. Comments Off on Unspoiled Charm of the Baltic Sea

Florida Horse Country Getaways

If you are drawn by the allure of Horse Country, but don’t count yourself among Ocala’s thoroughbred owners, head to Young’s Paso Fino Ranch at 8075 W. County Road 326. The ranch is perfect for people who don’t know the difference between a saddle and a spur.

Trail rides run about $35; tours and demonstrations also are available. (352) 867-5305).

Other spots to ride include:

• JNB Horse Haven Farm on C.R. 42, near the intersection with C.R. 452, between Weirsdale and Aftoona. (352) T53-4756.

• New England Shire Centre, 4877 S.W.134th Terrace, Ocala. Farm tours available.

• North Star Acres, 9950 S.E.125th Court, Dunnellon. (352) 489-9848. If you prefer to leave the reins in experienced hands, check out the Florida Carriage Museum and Resort in Weirsdale, south of Ocala.

Take a carriage ride or explore 150 historic European and American carriages, including one owned by Franz Joseph, and a horse-drawn fire engine (www.fcmr.org)

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IWB Channel Manager now connects to LateRooms.com

New Service Announcement: IWB Channel Manager now connects directly to LateRooms.com and 5 additional new sites, including HouseTrip, FlipKey, Ebab.com, Wimdu.com, and 9Flats. Connect to these services now for no additional cost.

IWB Channel Manager already connects to over 150 of the most popular booking sites. If you’re not already using this valuable service, you can immediately connect your calendar to sites like Booking.com, Expedia, HostelWorld, Orbitz, Travelocity, and many more. Many accommodations use these booking sites to increase profits. But, learning how to use multiple calendar interfaces can be a real hassle. Avoid the hassle, because you only need to update one calendar of availability.

If you haven’t tried IWB Channel Manager before, now is the time. The cost is only $14 per month. Eliminate many hours of work each week. If you already use a channel management service, now is the time to consider switching. Stop paying too much. Instant World Booking offers incredible savings and convenience.

Why sign up for Channel Manager today?

Less than $14 per month
Update your calendar on over 150 booking sites, plus the GDS, for one low price
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All major hostelling sites included, even HostelWorld.com
Save time by managing your calendar only once

Sign up today, and have all your calendars synchronized by tomorrow. You can purchase just one month at a time, so there’s nothing to lose by trying it. Just log into your profile and proceed to the Channel Manager page.

Questions?
More information?

For the perfect complement to IWB Channel Manager, try these other services (Hint: ask about our free demos):
IWB Booking engine
IWB Front Desk (property management system)


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HostelTraveler.com’s Answer to HostelWorld’s contract revisions

HostelTraveler.com …

  • Still Free to join
  • Booking Engines for your website, guaranteed to beat any competitor price
  • PMS starting at $22
  • Channel Manager, with lowest cost in the industry (updates HW and the rest)

Get listed to get started: http://www.hosteltraveler.com/listings/add_property.php

 

Read about HostelWorld’s new contract in plain English:

http://www.hostelmanagement.com/forums/new-hw-contract-plain-english.html#comment-1026491


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Italy – Hidden Secrets

Italy seems to have everything. It’s modern – think Fiat and Olivetti. It’s a leader in world fashion yet also is very traditional. Italy has many hidden secrets. You want to discover? It is almost impossible to be disappointed by Italy.  So… check out the Italian articles below and plan your trip to Italy.
There is, however, a large north-south divide. Northern Italy is a powerhouse of economic dynamism, whereas the South has been somewhat economically deprived. No place is perfect and Italy is becoming economically more integrated. The north, in general, is the most cosmopolitan part of the country. In the south the colorful city of Naples is the beating heart of the region. And close by are the antique wonders of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Italy-Sardinia:

The Aga Khan got his eye on the Costa Smeralda in the 1960’s and spent millions in this unknown area, creating a holiday village for the rich and famous..

The wealthy continue to flock to the posh hotels at Porto Cervo. This is also the place where Princess Diana and Dodi spent their last night together before flying off to Paris.

The waters here really are a deep emerald green. The area is stuffed with sweet-smelling shrubs and trees, and mimosa and oleander shade the walls of the pastel-colored villas that dot the landscape. There’s a Moorish feel to the architecture – perhaps because of the island’s proximity to North Africa. Hedges of rosemary and lavender cluster against huge granite boulders which people have brought down from the hills to use as gate posts or garden sculpture.

A Place of Legends

Sardinia is full of legends about witches and giants, and it’s not hard to see how these came about. The gigantic rocks all around the coast have weathered into strange shapes; ‘hook-nosed witches’, strange ‘birds’ and ‘animals’ gaze down on the white beaches. Some of the cleanest beaches in Italy are in Sardinia and swimming in these clear turquoise waters is heaven.

The Barbagia and the Nuraghe

Sardinia has two faces, one is the coast with its resorts and hotels, the other is the mountainous interior, the Barbagia region which contains around 8,000 strange, ancient structures known as nuraghe, which are found nowhere else in the world.

According to the locals, this is the real Sardinia, full of history, with many small mountain villages and remains of ancient civilizations.

Giant Tombs

The people who built the nuraghe also left behind huge graves, known as Giants’ Tombs. They were originally built as communal graves in which the bones of the dead were piled up. Some were found to contain as many as 100 to 200 skeletons. In time, the locals forgot what their original use was and they became known as Giants’ Tombs, contributing to the many myths that have emerged over the centuries. Some are at least 35-feet long. After traveling through this dramatic landscape, with its high mountains and huge empty spaces dotted with strangely carved rocks which look like, birds, animals and even witches, You might be ready to believe anything.

There’s something a bit surreal about the Barbagia. There are no Tuscany-like medieval hilltop villages. The mountain tops are bare, jagged, and can look menacing when a cloud covers the sun and the peaks suddenly turn dark. It looks like a land in which it would be hard to survive and yet, when you take a second look, the mountain slopes and isolated valleys are groomed and look well cared for. This is entirely because of the constant munching of some of Sardinia’s four million sheep.

Tuscany’s Historic Villages

What other country is as stuffed with art treasures? Tuscany alone has more classified historical monuments than any country in the world and there are reminders of the great Roman Empire everywhere. There are wonderful beaches, great ski resorts and shopping to die for.

Tuscany is known for its beautiful old villages – here are six of the best for you to discover.

The Collective

There are many lovely hill villages in this part of Tuscany but San Gimignano attracts most of the tourist traffic. In order to spread this largesse around a bit a collective of six villages has been formed. They include San Gimignano and all are in the area of Valdelsa. The others are Poggibonsi, Colle Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni, Radicondoli, and Casole d’Elsa. There’s less than an hour’s drive between each village. Supporting this cooperative venture seemed is a good way to see some places off the beaten track.

Walking on Capri

Explore the island on foot. It’s a paradise of sweet-smelling bay trees, olive groves,lemon trees and hundreds of species of wild flowers – a lush, green, perfumed land.

Pisa

The Leaning Tower is the icon of Pisa. However, it is but one part of a trio of architectural wonders which inhabit the Campo dei Miracoli.

The Alto Adige

The Alto Adige contains some of the most spectacular scenery in Italy as well as some of the best mountain-walking in Europe. This area of the eastern Italian Alps is the Bolzano province, known officially in Italy as Alto Adige, but to most people as the South Tyrol.

Italy – South Tyrol – Seiseralm

To the east of Bolzano, the capital town of the region, is Europe’s largest area of mountain pastureland – the Seiseralm. It’s a magical place high above the valleys, surrounded by the dramatic Dolomites, where acres of brilliant wild flowers bloom throughout the summer.

Italy – South Tyrol – Castles

Castles are a big feature of the area and walking from castle to castle is a popular activity. There are over 350 of them brooding on hilltops, nestling in vineyards or clinging to rock faces. Most were built in the 12th and 13th centuries and many are still lived in. Some are run as hotels and restaurants.

So don’t delay the trip once all hidden secrets have proverbial to you.

 

Author Bio-

I’m Victoria James, a travel blogger and a writer from London who loves to express her recent journeys. I write articles for blogs and websites during my free time. Currently I am focusing on ESTA which is now useful for all travelers to the USA who plan to enter the country by air or sea. Did you like this post? Contact me at james.victoria92@gmail.com.

 

 


Update Booking.com, HostelWorld, HostelBookers, Expedia and more with every reservation

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Get started today with Channel Manager at prices as low as $14 per month. Get 4 months free when you sign up for a year. Just log into your profile and proceed to the Channel Manager page.

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Traveling through Eastern Europe by Train or Bus

Courtesy of 3 Bros Hostel in Cieszyn:

Traveling through Eastern Europe seems to be an easy thing. There are a lot of direct trains connecting the most popular tourist destinations such as Krakow, Prague, Budapest and Vienna.  Ticket prices may seem quite reasonable for foreign western tourists, however for Eastern European standards they are extremely expensive. It’s possible to save a lot of money and maintain (or increase!) the comfort of travel.

In a past there were 2 direct trains from Krakow to Budapest/Budapest to Krakow.  However the standard of travel was close to be acceptable, it was the most popular way to get to Budapest/Krakow. There is just one night train from Budapest to Krakow at the moment (number of trains was probably reduced due to poor financial condition of the polish public railways).  Travel takes ages and it is not cheap.

Instead of train you can choose one of two bus companies (Orangeways http://orangeways.com/en or Eurolines http://www.eurolines.pl/en/home-page ).  Tickets are twice as cheap and it takes just 7-8 hours to get to the next destination. Unfortunately the bus only leaves a few days each week – not every day.

Same story with connections: Krakow-Vienna. The train is quite comfortable, but much more expensive than a bus (http://www.eurolines.pl/en/home-page ).

You can also get a bus ticket from Krakow to Prague/Prague to Krakow, but it doesn’t leave very frequently, just 2-3 days a week. Direct trains are extremely expensive (60-70 Euros!), so travelling through Cieszyn (a border city) is becoming a more popular way to get from Prague to Krakow/Krakow to Prague. Starting from Krakow, you simply need to catch a bus from Krakow Main Bus Station to Cieszyn. Buses runs every hour (except the night time – last one departs around 10 pm and the first one around 6 am). It takes about 3 hours to get to Cieszyn and regular ticket costs approx. 5 Euros. After arrival, there is about a 20 minute walk from the Polish to the Czech part of the same city, called now Cesky Tesin (yeah, both Polish and Czech variations are so difficult to pronounce…). From the train station in Cesky Tesin, depart a lot of trains to Prague.  Just don’t forget to exchange money – for train tickets you need to pay in Czech Korunas. Catch train (ticket costs around 16 Euros), relax for about 4 hours, and finally you’re in Prague! So simple, so fast, so cheap!

For any detailed information about your travel – you can check the new Cieszyn 3 Bros Hostel’s website – they’ve got all the important information (timetables, directions) on: http://3broshostel.com/en/how-to-get-there

Other connections seem to be bit easier.

It’s quite cheap to get from Prague to Budapest/Budapest to Prague by bus(check Orangeways www.orangeways.com or Eurolines https://www.elines.cz/en/).

…and Prague to Vienna/Vienna to Prague (Eurolines https://www.elines.cz/en/ or Regiojet http://jizdenky.studentagency.cz/).

If you really enjoy trains – do not hesitate to take the one from Prague to Bratislava/Bratislava to Prague. The price is more than reasonable, and trains are comfortable.

Generally, Czech but also Slovakian railways are quite good and cheap, as compared to Polish and Hungarian ones.

Enjoy your travel!

Hostels in Czech Republic

 


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Posted in Best Places to Visit How To Travel Advice by Lauren D. Collins. Comments Off on Traveling through Eastern Europe by Train or Bus

Rome’s Most Important Discovery in 10 years

Archaeologists have considered it one of the most important discoveries since the Roman Forum: a recently completed excavation of a 900-seat auditorium under Rome’s piazza Venezia, believed to have been funded by Emperor Hadrian around 123 CE.

Situated 5.5 metres below ground, with three halls, 13 metre-high arched ceilings and terraced marble seating, the auditorium was part of an ancient arts complex, where Rome’s noblemen gathered to hear poetry recitals, speeches and treatises on philosophy.

Read the full article here:

http://www.theflorentine.net/articles/article-view.asp?issuetocId=8181

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