FYI: Today is National Coffee Day! To celebrate National Coffee Day, Starbucks will donate a coffee tree for every brewed cup of México Chiapas coffee you buy on Thursday, September 29. Today’s cup can help a farmer’s future! Drink up!
We found this to be pretty awesome. Enjoy!
Todays technology allows you to book your hotel accommodation online from your own home or your smartphone. Take the time to research the best options, check hotel locations on Google Maps and ensure you get the best rate. So take out your smartphone and start planning your summer vacation today! Its very convenient & simple!
Choosing to travel is one of the best decisions any young person can make. If you’re heading off to travel the world then one of the most difficult decisions you will make is which countries and cities you should visit. The next most difficult decision is where you should stay when you arrive at your destination! To help you get that important decision right. here are a few ideas and tips for making the right accommodation choices before you set off on your adventures:
To Plan or Not To Plan?
One of the questions many backpackers ask themselves is just how much of their travelling itinerary should they plan ahead before they set off? The answer to this question lies in just how much of a free spirit you are! For some simply having a return plane ticket is too much organization. Other travelers wouldn’t feel comfortable hitting the road unless they had a full itinerary and confirmed hotel or hostel reservations in every town and city they choose to visit. The pro of booking your holiday accommodation in advance is that you can be sure you’ll have somewhere to rest your head when you get off your plane and just want a lie down! If you’re visiting a new city during an important festival or national holiday then it will also give you the security of having a room when one might be hard to come by. The con though is that it is much harder to be spontaneous: if you meet a handsome stranger and want to stay somewhere a little longer then you could lose the deposit money you’ve already laid out for future hotels if you can’t stick to the schedule you’d planned months in advance.
Which Accommodation Type to Choose
The most common accommodation type for travelers and backpackers looking to spend a significant amount of time away from home is the hotel. Obviously hotel prices vary wildly, depending on whether you’re looking for a luxury or a budget room. Most travelers are looking for budget hotels. These will offer a comfortable bed, somewhere to shower (in either an en suite or communal bathroom) and other basic facilities, but don’t expect a maid service or mint on your pillow each night! If you’re looking to save even more money then why not try a hostel? If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before then it can be a daunting accommodation type to choose. Hostels tend to be much more basic than hotels, with fewer amenities, and you will usually have to share a dormitory style room with several other travelers that you might not know. The benefits of this, however, are that you may quickly find yourself making friends with like minded travelers and that hostel rooms are significantly cheaper than hotel rooms. If you’re travelling with a large group of friends, rather than on your own, then you may find that your numbers make it more cost effective to hire a holiday cottage or timeshare for the duration of your visit. The benefit of this is that you’ll be afforded a little more luxury in this kind of self catering accommodation, with your own kitchen and somewhere to do your laundry!
Finally, you should consider where you will be eating during your travels, and how your accommodation can help to accommodate this. As mentioned above, self catering accommodation such as a time share or holiday cottage will come equipped with a kitchen, making it simple to whip up some affordable eats. Many hostels also come with communal kitchens for backpackers on a budget, providing you with somewhere to make sandwiches or store food from the grocery store: much cheaper than eating out every day! If you choose to stay in a hotel then you will have fewer options when it comes to storing your own food, however you can keep some small snacks in your room: snacks in foreign restaurants can often cost as much as a meal, so this is a great way to save money Just be weary of using the mini bar, even for keeping snacks and drinks cold, as many sensitive hotel mini bars will attempt to charge you just for opening the door! If you do have tight budgetary constraints though, maybe an accommodation option that will allow you to cater for yourself is the best choice for you!
Continued from Top Travelers Backpack with Brains – Part 3
Easy Come, Easy Go
Because we often know little about the places that we are visiting we may feel more secure booking everything in advance. By doing this we can lose out on many great opportunities. Once you’re on the road, so much information can be collected firsthand from other travelers, or from locals in the area. Accommodation doesn’t need to be booked weeks in advance, so if you’re in one place and you hear some fellow travelers raving about where they’ve just been, you can chose that as your next destination. There are plenty of websites that can provide you with accommodation options and help with last minute booking. Often, you can grab yourself some bargains doing it this way.
Travel arrangements are often easier to make once you’re in a location also. It may have seemed, from the internet that getting a plane was your easiest option, but when you’re actually in another country you begin to realize that the buses are astronomically efficient, or a train journey is an unmissable experience, or your new found friends have hired a car. Do some necessary planning but don’t be afraid to leave some spaces. Things are often much easier overseas than we are led to believe and we don’t want to limit ourselves with over precautions.
These ideas will help you make the most of what will undoubtedly be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. Having some good back-up advice on-board means less needless worry and more time to focus on what really matters: having fun, meeting new people, absorbing new cultures, embracing exhilarating experiences, really ‘living’ your trip and having the time of your life.
Continued from Top Travelers Backpack with Brains – Part 2
Ill? Me? Not Likely!
Check out the information for the countries that you may be visiting and ensure that you’ve had the right inoculations before you go. Some countries will expect you to show evidence of inoculations; particularly against Yellow Fever. It is a good idea to pack some basic supplies with you so that you only need to use pharmacies for the out of the ordinary illnesses. Painkillers, diarrhea tablets and rehydration salts are great basics. Make sure you have up to date and relevant cover should you become unwell and need emergency care. Don’t forget to ensure that you are always covered; this needs to be top of list should you decide to stay somewhere longer than originally planned. Bear in mind the activities that you may be tempted to do. If you might go bungy-jumping in the jungle, riding down the world’s most dangerous road or surfing supreme, inform yourself beforehand of any risks and ensure you’re going to be okay in any eventuality.
Continued from Top Travelers Backpack with Brains – Part 2
Don’t Take Stuff You Can’t Bear To Lose
You’re going to be living a transitory lifestyle and safe-guarding belongings can be more difficult under those circumstances. Many hostels have security boxes but if you’re constantly trying to navigate the security of your possessions, it will be a burden. Things that are very, very valuable to you are best left at home. Things that are pretty valuable to you, keep on your person or locked somewhere secure. Even if you think you can trust everyone sharing your dormitory you can really never know.
On the street, keep valuables as close to your person as possible (either out of sight altogether or in a bag that is durable in crowds). There is no need for paranoia, but some scam artists operate by causing distractions whilst your bag is slashed and your belongings taken. Buy a bag that’s resilient or wear your rucksack forwards facing. Be careful not to be too flash with your belongings. You never know who may be watching you whilst you Skype on your IPad or counting the money you’ve just taken from the bank. Practice caution and modesty. Often it’s much more cost-effective to buy a cheap mobile phone in the countries that you visit, than to use your state-of-the-art one from home.
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.
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.
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’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, 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.