Aruba “The Happy Island”

Looking for a new place to travel to? Well, I suggest you make a trip to Aruba. The Happy Island is an unforgettable experience. The moment you leave you will be booking a trip to come back. Yes, that is how awesome this place is. From the gorgeous sunsets to the diverse attractions, you will always find something to do. Here are four things to check out once you make your way to the Happy Island!

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Aruba has a variety of excellent restaurants to choose from. My favorite is the Flying Fishbone. The food here is outstanding and I promise you will have an experience here you will never forget. You have the opportunity to dine right on the beach with your feet in the ocean. Now, have you made a reservation yet? For those of you who enjoy seafood, you couldn’t be in a better place. All the fish is so fresh and delicious! The flying fishbone also has a great cocktail list and my favorite is the white wine sangria! It has the perfect amount of fruit to make this drink one of the best on the menu.

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You can rent a jet-ski, banana boat, kayak or tube, at whichever hotel you are staying at. One of my favorites is parasailing as you can get an awesome view of the beach and ocean. If you are someone who enjoys snorkeling or scuba diving Aruba has got you covered. Even if you have never been before, most resorts on the island offer beginner lessons so you can learn. Another great water activity to try here is windsurfing! Aruba is prone to high trade winds, which makes for a great experience for windsurfers.

IMG_1309Casino at the Hyatt Regency Hotel

This awesome casino has plenty games for you to play. It has 21 gaming tables, 255 slot machines, and 30 video poker machines. The majority of the casinos in Aruba are small. Yet, it gives you more of an opportunity to interact with people who are vacationing there. This is a great place to enjoy some cocktails and play some games.

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Looking for a place to catch the magical sunsets of Aruba? Well, head over to the California lighthouse. It is one of the most popular stops in Aruba. You get the opportunity to catch the most breathtaking views of the island. This is definitely a place I recommend if you are looking to take your significant other somewhere romantic.

Inspiration: #TravelGoals Part 2

To read part one of this post, click here!


Megan Smith of Meganotravels

Often times, life’s obstacles can ignite a passion inside of us and inspire us to live life on our own terms. For Megan Smith, this was absolutely the case. After spending years working in an unfulfilling industry, Megan reached her breaking point after going through a breakup and decided to embark on a plan that would change her life.

She spent the next year saving up money and preparing herself to take off on the exotic journey she’d so desperately been yearning for. In the late summer of 2013, she embarked on a trip across the United States before heading up north to Canada and jumping across the pond to Europe. Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and India are now under her belt, and she shows no sign of slowing down.

Megan told Buzzfeed,”it’s been an incredible experience so far–teaching me so much about myself, other cultures, the world, and how I fit into it.” 

Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

Working as a corporate lawyer, and being able to get joy out of it, is no easy feat, and this is something Jodi Ettenberg knows all too well. After spending over five years within the world of corporate law, the Montreal-native decided to leave her New York City digs and eat her way around the world for a year.

Starting her blog, Legal Nomads, as a way to keep her mom updated on her whereabouts, it’s turned into a popular food-travel blog, ripe with photos of exotic, delicious, and colorful meals from all over. Jodi prefers to take things “one day at a time” and is able to fund her excursions through freelance writing and social media consulting, as Legal Nomads is unmonetized, meaning she has turned down sponsored links and/or ads.

Jodie told Buzzfeed, “I am thankful for the ability to have built a business around the foods and places I love, and never quit my job to ‘be’ a travel writer. If this doesn’t work out, going back to being a lawyer isn’t the worst thing I can think of. But it’s far less fun than what I am doing now!” 

Some had a savings account to help get things started and others couldn’t afford to eat dinner the night they decided to pack up their things and live the life they had been dreaming of. But they had a two things in common: the vision to see themselves in foreign places, the drive to turn their dreams into reality.

Inspiration: #TravelGoals

If, like me, you’ve ever been bit by wanderlust, you know it’s a condition that never truly leaves you–it’s like a itch that will always need to be scratched. The symptoms of this life-long condition?

Insatiable curiosity, swollen memories, colorful daydreams, and a tight budget.

While it may seem impossible to simply pack up and leave and pursue your dreams of living in exotic places, learning new languages, sampling foods you’ve never heard of, experiencing cultures that bring you closer to self-understanding, and more, it’s not. 

Let me guess, you don’t believe me? Lucky for you, I’ve complied a list of inspiring people who did just that: left the world they knew behind to live a life of travel, adventure, challenge, and exploration, both within themselves and across the world.

Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site

Over ten years ago, Matt Kepnes found himself in conversation with five backpackers on a bus while visiting Thailand with a friend. They discussed how outrageous it was that American’s only receive two weeks vacation (if that!) from their jobs each year, especially when there is so much world to explore.

The more Matt contemplated this, the more unjust it felt. And then a thought dawned on him: Why not me too? When he returned stateside from his Thailand trip, he quit his job, and began to plan for a yearlong journey across the globe. Setting off in July of 2006, Matt’s yearlong journey has stretched to present day, as he realized that traveling is whats made him most happy.

Taking on various jobs to fund his lifestyle, Matt has been able to travel to over seventy countries, and now works to help others realize they can achieve their travel dreams, no matter their financial circumstances.

“I remember being scared and worried when I was planning my trip. Every fear when through my head but being on the road taught me that the hardest part is getting the courage to walk out the door. The rest is a cakewalk. Everything on the road works itself out,” Matt told Buzzfeed.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, coming soon!

A Must-Have While Traveling? Instagram

Gone are the days of browsing vintage photographs from your grandparents’ scrapbooks to reminisce about awesome vacations.  Today, the motto is:

“Pictures, or it didn’t happen!”

As of 2016, Instagram reached 400 million monthly users, according to a report from Digital Stats). The company just announced that there over over 200K advertisers using the platform to reach customers and promote new products. Instagram went from a novelty app for wannabe photographers to impose artistic filters on photos snapped from their iPhones; it has since exploded into a powerful social network.

With such a wide user base, people have started to use Instagram as a search engine. Through the database of hashtags, you can find pictures of just about anything. What were the concerts like at Coachella last year? What cafe has the best latte art in Sydney?

Another way Instagram categorizes photos is through the location that the photos were “instantly” shot and uploaded. Some cities are now taking on their own “Instagram” personality, as tourists flock to these destinations so they can show off their travels on the app. British online travel company Hoppa recently released a report of how Insta-snaps define our idea of a perfect vacation by driving people toward more “instagrammable” locales. What cities do you want to go to? What landmark would you photograph to show off to your friends?

Check out four of the most Instagrammable destinations:

New York. Everyone loves The Big Apple! The big apple is the most instagrammed city in the world. From Washington Square, to cheesy pizza slices, to the majestic Lady Liberty, tourists rarely put their phones down when strolling through the city in order to capture everything around them. If you can show that you’re finding something special in the city, beyond the usual shots of the skyline, you’re bound to get more “likes” for your shots.
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Los Angeles. The City of Angels is the most “liked” destination in the world. Perhaps this is because anything related to fashion and the celebrity lifestyle is bound to get some attention, especially in the teenage girl demographic that uses the app.

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Bangkok. Food photography has become its own profession. Instagram users flock to Thailand to share images of colorful dishes that will have you booking a flight in no time. Check out 10 Bangkok Foodie Instagram Accounts.

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Paris. Because of an iPhone app or not, Paris has made the list of most photographed, most visited cities for hundreds of years. You’ll find lots of envy-inducing shots of the couples embracing at the Eiffel Tower at sundown, friends sharing a warm batch of Angelina’s Hot Chocolate shop, and quaint European alleyways from Instagrammers who venture to Paris.

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Vacations with Lessons–Part 2

To read part one of this post, click here!

 

France

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 4.08.01 PM.pngWhile the French are ripe with a decorated history including a bloody revolution as well as a bohemian one, the Palace of Versailles is truly something else. A visual representation of absolute opulence, wealth, and history, the palace and its grounds are nearly impossible to cover in a day. See Marie Antoinette’s cabin on the garden’s grounds, a place she had built to get away from the busy palace, and feel the energy of what happened within the beautiful halls of Versailles.

Egypt

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Heading out to the northeast tip of Africa is a travel destination that will teach you far more than any textbook ever had. Images of pyramids and hieroglyphics come to life in Egypt, where you’ll find the Sphinx is much bigger in real life than in your history textbook. Exploring the land of Cleopatra and King Tutankhamun is truly unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

Greece

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Whether or not you studied Latin, learning about Greek mythology has most likely happened at some point in your life, even if you got it from Disney’s Hercules. Zeus, Achilles, and Aphrodite are all, essentially, household names, so traveling to Greece only brings those myths to life. Take a stroll through the Parthenon on the Acropolis, which served as the temple of the goddess of courage and war, or take in the majestic Mount Olympus, home of the Twelve Olympians: Zues, Hera, Poseidon, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Demeter, and Dionysus.

Mexico

 

For those who prefer a little rest and relaxation on a beautiful beach with a side of historical significance, the head across the border to Cancun. Excursions to ancient Mayan ruins are ripe with history and are easily accessible from the popular party destination.

Rome

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It’s hard not to take a step down any street in this Italian city without passing by a piece of history. Have a picnic on the Spanish Steps and visit the beautiful St. Peter’s Basillica, but make sure to save a day to explore the Coliseum. Explore the depths of the battlefield, where gladiators awaited their impending glory or demise, and imagine the spectators wildly cheering for their favorite.

 

Study Abroad: Weird and Wild Locations

As each year passes, tuition rises, and a new group of freshman enter universities and colleges across the globe, the idea of studying abroad remains the same. It’s foreign, it’s exciting, it’s the chance of a lifetime.

At this point, it’s hard to click through a friends photos on Facebook without diving deep into their semester in Rome, their summer internship in London, or their year abroad in Australia. But occasionally, we come across people who aren’t taking the traditional study abroad trips to big European cities and the sprawling beaches Down Under and instead are opting to track and protect the black rhinos of Africa or make pilgrimage across Tibet.

Here is a list of some of the most interesting, unique, and wild study abroad programs out there, for the students who would rather spend their semesters hiking mountains than eating mountains of gelato.

School for Field Studies

Missing Mother Nature while cooped up inside a classroom? Then this program is right for you. For the hands-on, dirt-loving students, you can explore the eastern Himalayans in Bhutan by participating in environmental preservation, rural development, and sustainability projects. And if you really fall in love with Bhutanese culture, Naropa University offers a semester-long program that immerses students in Bhutanese culture, environmental sustainability, education, Buddhism, and traditional art, to name a few. Bhutan cliffside

Siberian Summer Adventure

Bundle up for this trip across the globe! If you’re passionate about Russian culture and the outdoors, this is definitely the program for you. Working to create trails and various infrastructure to support the Siberian tundra’s ecotourism, students are exposed to a culture (and temperatures!) that can only be found in Russia.

American Universities International Programs: Antartica

Day dreaming about the coldest, most isolated place on the planet? Then sign up for this 6-credit program, sending participants to the bottom of the globe for two weeks of field study in the land famous for its adorable penguins and jarring icebergs. Studying the history and global impact that Antartica has, is, and will be facing, the biggest takeaway is bragging rights that you actually lived on the only uninhibited continent on Earth. Antarctica

BroadReach Fiji Shark Program

This isn’t for the faint of heart or those who get queasy out on the open water. Actually only for high school students, The program lasts a little less than a month, taking students in the Pacific ocean off the Island of Fiji, diving with and studying the behaviors and physiology of a number of shark species. Strap on that oxygen tank and get diving, if you dare!

Solo Travel for Women–The Time is Now!

Planning a trip, no matter if it’s a two hour drive away or 16-hour flight across the world, can be stressful. And even more so when you’re going with a group of people, large or small, friends or family. You need to consider every place you will visit and whether or not it can accommodate your party. You need to take into account everyone’s budget and settle on dates that are feasible for all. You also need to consider everyone in your party’s needs–while some may prefer to spend the day lounging by the pool, others may want to get out and sample the local culture.

An easy way to make sure every person you’re traveling with is happy? Travel alone.

Solo travel is on the rise, especially for women. Statistics suggest that about 72 percent of American women will travel alone this year. Why is it so popular? It’s a feeling of luxury and independence for those who wanderlust. They sincerely cherish launching themselves out into the world, with no social strings attached. Truly following the beat of their own drum.Woman standing alone

While setting out on a journey by yourself might seem a bit intimidating and isolating, it isn’t, even for the female traveler. I mean, it’s 2015, women are CEOs, running for president, and gaining ground in the military, so the fear and loneliness surrounding solo travel for women needs to be reconsidered.

Let’s debunk some of these myths that might otherwise discourage women from taking a leap and booking the trip of their dreams.

“Won’t you be so lonely all by yourself?”

When you’re traveling with a group or partner, your most likely getting away to spend some quality time together. Your attention will be focused on them. And while you may bond with a couple lounging by the pool one day or make nice with a family on the plane, chances are you won’t notice a lot of the people you could meet if you were traveling solo.

Additionally, spontaneity is a vital element to solo travel. You have the freedom and flexilbity to do whatever, whenever, where ever, often opening you to the opportunity to meet similar, spontaneous souls. You also have the freedom to interact with these people for as long as you want without fear of making it back to the hotel in time for dinner with your traveling companions. “Traveling solo empowers you and gives you a feeling of accomplishment that you just don’t get traveling with others,” said Lisa Eldridge of Girl about the Globe blog. “You’ll return home a more defined person with a sense of who you really are.”

“Aren’t you afraid of something happening? Traveling alone sounds so unsafe!”

So long as you’re using common sense, traveling alone isn’t any less safer than traveling with a group. In fact, it doesn’t require you practice any safety protocol you wouldn’t normally at home: make sure you have your wallet, keys, IDs on you in a safe, accessible place; don’t put valuables on display; steer clear of high-crime areas; be aware of your surroundings. Janice Waugh, author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook and the Solo Traveler Blog recommends following the four fundamentals: “stay in a public place with people you’ve just met, be proactive and choose who to approach should you want assistance, don’t be rushed into a decision and be rude if necessary.” Make sure someone, such as a family member or significant other, has a copy of your itinerary, so someone knows where you are at all times

“Traveling alone sounds so boring! How do you do it?!”

In my opinion, it’s pretty hard to be bored when you’re uprooting yourself and going on a journey, even if you’re not sharing the experience with someone else. In fact, solo travelers are more likely to step out of their comfort zone and try something new when they don’t aren’t shackled to another’s needs, wants or demands. From base-jumping in New Zealand to taking a cooking class in Tuscany, “[trying activities you’d never consider] can make you feel alive and vibrant and let’s face it, they make your stories a lot more interesting…Solo travel is the perfect antidote to boredom,” said Janice Holly Booth, author of Only Pack What You Can Carry.