The Best Countries in the World to Visit for Nature Lovers

There’s no doubt that we live in a very beautiful planet. From the deepest oceans to the highest peaks to the most rugged terrains and to the flattest of regions, the planet we live in is full of remarkable contrasts. While most of us are content on seeing the beauty of this planet through pictures alone, there are those who prefer being with nature to feel what it’s really like to be one with Mother Nature. Here are the six of the best countries or places in the world to visit for nature lovers.

Banff, Canada

Banff-Canada-Natural-Wilderness

Covering an amazing 2,500 square miles sprawled in the Canadian version of the Rockies, the Banff National Park boasts of turquoise lakes that are fed by Canadian glacial systems, abundant wildlife, breathtaking Rocky Mountain peaks, and outworldly scenic drives. There are more than 1,000 miles of well-maintained hiking trails that take you on a sunset stroll by the river or even let you feel the Alpine breath of glaciers. There are nearly 120 miles of mountain bike trails making the exploration of Banff more exciting.

Plitvice, Croatia

 

Plitvice-croatia-natural-travel-attactions

Travelers who love to study geologic formations will marvel at what the Plitvice National Park in the Dinaric area of Croatia has to offer. It boasts of being one of the planet’s most impressive and truly magnificent karst entities. It features canyon-like formations, carved by water that flows through the Mesozoic limestone and guarded by dolomitic rocks. Aside from its karst features, Plitvice is known for its forest communities made up of Alpine beech, beech-fir, spruce, and silver pine, among others. Animals that live off these forests abound. It is truly one of the most mesmerizingly beautiful, natural travel destinations in the world.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

Stunning-Sea-Views-in-Pembrokeshire-National-Park

UK travellers have long known that Wales is a first class destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It’s an incredibly beautiful, but small, country attached to the United Kingdom. Wales has a lot to offer for nature lovers from the mountain top wildernesses of Snowdonia National Park, to wildlife rich estuaries, and thick pockets of native forests to the wild expanses of the Brecon Beacons. But perhaps one of the country’s most beautiful areas for a vacation is Pembrokeshire in the South West of the country. This is a little populated region with some of the most stunning coastline you are ever likely to see anywhere in the world. Here you will see high cliffs, crashing waves, small sandy coves and a plethora of wildlife including seals, dolphins and all sorts of sea birds. The sea views here are astonishing – providing sights you will remember for the rest of your life.

Göreme, Turkey

valley-of-love-Göreme-Turkey

What makes the Göreme National Park so special is its natural land formations that have been shaped by several millennia of erosion. Ancient dwellings can still be seen from these natural rock formations as if you’re essentially looking at a gigantic anthill. But don’t underestimate these dwellings as they provide the world of solid evidence of the exceptional brilliance of Byzantine art from the post-Iconoclastic era.

Khao Sok, Thailand

Khao Sok-thailand-beautiful-travel-location

Actively promoted by the Thai Tourism Ministry as the place where nature meets adventure, Khao Sok is nothing less than a magical place for nature lovers. Covered in the world’s oldest rainforest of evergreens, deep valleys, exciting caves, tall and imposing limestone mountains that reach for the sky, and breathtaking lakes, the Khao Sok National Park is undoubtedly one of the planet’s best when it comes to nature adventures. It’s also within popular southern Thai destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Khao Lak.

Tongariro, New Zealand

Tongariro-National-park-new-zealand

The moment you set foot on Tongariro National park, you will instantly be transported to Middle Earth, specifically to Mordor, in the Lord of the Rings franchise. Its fantastic and very unique landscape can be both incredible and surreal at the same time. Trek the Tongariro Alpine crossing and you’ll find yourself traversing Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe volcanic peaks.

From space, Earth is a gem in a sea of darkness, lit up only by distant stars. On Earth, these places are fitting testaments to just how beautiful this planet really is. For more travel inspiration, check out this video:

How to Travel with Your Baby

baby family travel

Travel helps broaden your views and knowledge about the world. It is good for the body and soul. They say you should start travelling when you’re young and never stop even until you grow old, most especially after having babies.

For new parents, don’t let having a baby stop you from travelling and widening your horizon. It may seem a little difficult and challenging at first, but there are ways to make travelling fun and easy.

There is no minimum age requirement for babies when it comes to airline rules. But in order to enjoy more on your trip, wait until your baby is at least 3 to 6 months old because they tend to sleep through flights instead of crying and squirming all the time.

Here are tips on what to prepare and how to travel with your baby:

Secure a passport
Get all the paperwork done before you travel. Make sure your baby has a valid passport, visa (if required by country of destination) and bring all documentation such as birth certificates; both yours and your baby’s to ensure there will be no hold up in the airport. Couples who are not married usually have this slight delay with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) especially when the mother’s last name is different from the baby’s.

Flight necessities
Before you board the plane, have a bottle or pacifier nearby. Be prepared to nurse before taking off and during landings. Babies need to suck on something during these times so that their ears can relieve pain that comes with the changes in air pressure.

Packing
Ensure that you have enough supplies for the duration of your trip, such as formula, diaper, food, wipes, extra clothes or layers for changes in weather. Just in case your flight gets delayed, pack extra until you get to your destination and do the same for the trip going back. Bring toys, books or a tablet/iPad to entertain your baby on the trip. Bring only a lightweight umbrella stroller that is easy to fold.

Baby rituals before boarding
Change your baby’s diaper so that you don’t have to do it on the plane. Before check-in ask for cots or bassinets for babies. If the flight is not full ask to block off the seat beside you. Prepare a small pack of powder formula as backup or a snack.

Pre-flight preparation
Book flight times during your baby’s nap time and hope he/she will sleep through the whole flight. Visit the doctor before the trip and ensure the baby is complete with all vaccinations. Ask for preventive medicine necessary for the trip depending on your destination.

Just as long as your baby is in good health, have complete documents and two loving parents willing to share the world with them, you are good to go. Some of the best memories of your family will be travelling with your baby. Show them the world, travel and be a happy family.

Best Places in Spain to Enjoy Street Food

A stroll around the streets of the cities in Spain is interestingly bereft of food stalls but this does not mean that the “street food” culture cannot be found here. The main issue is that selling food on the streets is illegal due to hygiene reasons. However, in almost every city, you will see many bars where you can enjoy the delicious local cuisine.

The many different regions of Spain have their own customs and dialects or languages. They also have their own specialties beyond the popular Jamon and churros. To catch the best of what Spain has to offer, head over to these places:

1. The Basque Country

Compared to the rest of the country, this area is lesser-known unless you come to the film festival in San Sebastian or to visit the Guggenheim Museum. But it is truly a destination for food lovers, with little specialties called “pintxos” served in street food sizes. Most pintxos have one small slice of local bread (similar to baguette) topped with different ingredients like seafood, Jamon, cheese, and everything else in between.

2. Galicia

If you are a seafood fan or simply want to enjoy more of the fruits of the sea, then this is the place for you. The most popular is the Galician style octopus (Pulpo a Feira) and the exotic goose barnacles (percebes) which are found on the side of the cliffs where the sea hits. Non-seafood street food to try out includes fried green peppers (pimientos de padron) and empanadas (the traditional tuna pie).

3. Barcelona

Barcelona is the top spot to enjoy history, good food, and the beach. They also have their unique dishes you should definitely try out. One of them is Pa amb tomàquet, a famous breakfast of toasted bread rubbed with tomato and seasoned with salt and olive oil. Some versions have some garlic rubbed on the toasted bread before the tomato.

Some other street food is coca, their version of pizza. Escalivada is a dish with tomatoes, onions, eggplant, peppers and anchovies on top. Butifarra con monguetes, on the other hand, is a traditional grilled sausage with pink or white beans.

4. Madrid

The capital is a perfect stop to enjoy the best of Spanish cuisine. Make sure to try out their local hits like callos (tripe) and caracoles a la Madrileña (snails cooked Madrid-style). If you want to try out something with meat, then go for Cocido Madrileño, which is a pork stew with some vegetables and chorizo.

Other Street Food To Enjoy

Beyond the dishes mentioned above, there are some other street food delicacies you might find all over the country. For example, chocolate con churros is a favorite of those with a sweet tooth. For a quick snack, bocadillo is another great idea, which is Spanish bread with different fillings ranging from cheese and Jamon to seafood like calamares (squid). Lastly, tortilla is another classic, with the combination of potatoes and egg being a filling and delicious snack.

Apart from being delicious, street food in Spain is also inexpensive and you can find them in every bar in every city, so you can pamper your stomach during your trip here.

How to Make the Most of Your Next Beach Vacation

Not all of us are lucky enough to live near the coast where the morning is typically greeted by the warm, life-giving breath of sunshine or saying adieu to the day as the sun sets in the horizon, turning the sea into a glimmering ocean of little fireflies. Sure enough, lucky are those who are afforded these views. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll forever be confined to seeing the concrete jungle of the city. You can always go on a seaside holiday vacation and make the most out of it. That way when you do get home you’ll be bringing with you nothing but a bucket full of wonderful memories of sun, surf, and a whole lot more. Here’s how.

beach vacation

Plan your trip early

Unless you’re the type of holiday vacationer who prefers to pack up unprepared, there’s only one way you can truly enjoy the most out of your seaside holiday vacation: plan for it. When we say plan we don’t necessarily mean you are going to write every detail of your trip. Just a general idea of what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it should be enough. This also means you’ve got to set your budget as well as the things you are going to do. Make sure to put an allowance into everything as you will never really know what can happen when you’re already there.

Also think about when you’d like to take your vacation. For the best prices, it’s sensible to avoid peak times of year. Also think what the weather might be like in your choice of destinations. It’s no use arriving on holiday in the middle of a monsoon, or when the air temperature is chilly.

planning a beach vacation

Book your holiday well in advance

Just as planning your trip early on can help you enjoy your holiday trip, booking early can also help you feel less stressed. In addition to the great savings you’ll get, you will also be able to spend more time preparing for your holiday getaway since you have all the reservations and bookings taken care of in advance. Remember to shop around as several holiday companies may have a similar holiday at wildly different prices, and there are always special offers especially on winter breaks.

For more inspiration on travel planning, check out this handy video:

Study the best beachside locations

When looking for a place for your next vacation, obviously you will want to choose a beautiful destination with a clean, sandy beach, offering good facilities and stunning sunsets or sea rises. You will also want to discover what activities are available in that location such as nightlife, surfing or walking.

Also think about the type of accommodation available in these locations. Do you want to stay in a laid-back beach cabaña, a luxury hotel, a campground or in a self catering apartment? Your preferred choice of accommodation will usually dictate the type of locations you can visit within your budget.

People from different places often have different customs, traditions, beliefs, and practices. While it is important to be well-informed about the different festivities and things to do in a particular holiday destination, it is equally crucial to have a basic understanding of the local customs and traditions. Some locations require visitors to remain discreet in their choice of beach wear. Remember, you will be mostly interacting with local folks so it would really pay to learn a few things about their culture.

tropical beach holiday

Let loose, but be vigilant

Enjoy every moment of your trip. However, you should still keep an eye on things. Holiday tourist destinations even those located in the beach are magnets for unscrupulous activities. Scammers will always be out to spoil your planned holiday. Instead of bringing home many fond memories with you, you’ll perhaps end up with nightmares of your ordeal. So, let loose but do not ever let your guard down.

Having a really fabulous time during your much-deserved seaside holiday vacation is easy if you plan enough for it. Understanding local customs and letting loose while remaining vigilant are some of the keys to help you relish the memories you will be making while on your dream getaway. If any, it’s immersing oneself in the beauty of the place that makes a beach vacation all the more worthwhile.

 

Holiday Cottage Recommendations in Spain, France, Austria and Italy

Are you looking for the best holiday destination for your family’s coming holiday trip? There are tons of cottage rental options available throughout Europe but there are also other families who are trying to book probably at the same place. Vacation rentals including cottages, villages and holiday homes offer a laid-back way to enjoy a wonderful continental location while having a comfortable self catering base for a holiday with your family.

vacation-rentals-pool

Here are our pick of recommended holiday cottages in Spain, France, Austria and Italy that the whole family will love.

France

If your family is the adventurous type and if you are looking for fun activities to do, La Ferme du Soleil is perfect for you. They have classic Alpine houses and chalets that can fit a big family. The area also offers paragliding and hot air balloon rides.

If there is more than one family going on the trip, you can go to La Jardin a la Francaise, Dordogne. The manor has eight bedrooms, two family suites, children’s game room and an adults’ sitting room. It is perfect for a holiday reunion. On top of that the property also has a swimming pool that everyone can enjoy.

Austria

If you are looking for something unique and new, the Ufogel cabins in Austria are the place. What makes the cabin interesting is its modern unique design. Located in the Alps, Nussdorf, the cabins are built from combined metals, glass and wood. It may look a bit small but it can fit five people.

For bigger families, Ferdi mountain base in Austria has 4 bedrooms that can sleep 8. It is located in the Dachstein Mountains and includes a sauna and yoga room. Fun activities that you can do with the family are hiking, rock climbing, skiing and biking.

Spain

Casa Lucinda in Galicia is one of the best villa spots located in South of Spain. The country cottage includes 4 bedrooms that are near Playa de Miño and Playa de Perbes beaches. It also comes with a spacious garden, kitchen and a fantastic view of nature. The kids would also enjoy visiting a nearby nature park, Fragas do Eume.

If the family prefers a pool you can opt to stay in Villa Carmen in Mallorca. It is also near Cala Santanyi beach. Or you can opt for the La Veranda cave house in Andalucia. The villa includes 7 bedrooms with 6 bathrooms, kitchens, pool and a large hot tub.

Italy

Casa Lola in Le Marche is perfect for big families who enjoy the outdoors. It includes 7 bedrooms and a private pool, which can sleep up to 14 with 4 twin beds and 3 bedrooms with double beds. It’s near the mountains, a lake and a deer park that the kids can visit.

Villa Ulisse in Sicily is the closest to the beach. It has 3 bedrooms and fenced gardens should the children and the family want to enjoy a lovely day outside. It also has a covered terrace for family bonding time.

Our selection is specific to the needs of a family that wants to bond and celebrate together during the holidays, especially for big families who enjoy travel and leisure outdoors. There are tens of thousands of other cottages and holiday homes throughout Europe. A good place to research these holiday properties for your next vacation are at sites like AirBnB, Owners Direct and TripAdvisor.

8 Most Creative Ways to Save Money for Travel

There is always that dream destination that you have been planning for years. Many people never get to realize their dream, and one of the most common reasons is not having the funds for it. What they do not understand is that by making a few lifestyle changes or taking creative steps to raise the money for it, they can finally set foot in the holiday destination they have always wanted. Here are my tips for saving money so you can travel more often to far-flung destinations around the world.

saving money for travel and vacations

Choose Cheaper Travel Destinations

If you’re strapped for cash, maybe the first lesson is to research the cheapest places in the world to travel. There are many countries in the world, which are nowhere near as expensive as at home. Take advantage of low costs and favourable exchange rates to make your travel budget go further while on vacation in a foreign country. This video on YouTube gives a great introduction to some of the cheapest travel destinations on the planet:

Learn To Pamper Yourself

If you study your monthly expenses, there is a big chance that a lot of your money is going to expensive beauty services. Regular hair coloring, waxing or tanning can really add up. But why opt to pay a lot of money to the salon when you can do most of these basic activities yourself? Learn how to apply hair color yourself or just let the sun do the bleaching. While you are it, do your own manicure and save some dollars along the way. Let’s face it, you’ll have to look after yourself while you’re away, so why not start now and save money for your next trip?

Stop Social Spending

While going out to dinner with family or close friends is not bad, trying to keep up with others may be. There is no need to spend so much money competing with others. A perfect social media picture is definitely not worth it if you will have to spend all your money for the month. Dave your pennies, you will need it to experience all those wonderful attractions and restaurants when you are travelling.

Overlook the Brands

When it comes to some items, buying a well-known brand is an investment. However, when it comes to small things like a box of facial tissue, you can opt for a lesser-known brand to save a few cents. Over time, these cents will grow.

Earn Through Your Car

driving for extra travel cash

A good extra job or income is to find someone to share the expenses with you. While you can organize with colleagues to carpool, you can also earn some money on the side as an Uber driver. Even renting it out can give you additional cash.

Reduce Housing Costs

Even as simple as looking at your housing expenses, you can already end up with some savings. For example, disconnecting that cable service you barely use or doing your home improvements yourself. You can also rent out extra rooms in your home through sites like Airbnb.

Free Workouts

Many people waste so much money on that yearly subscription to the gym and stop going after one month altogether. You can also do your exercise at home, looking for some free or cheap workout options or even watching through YouTube. In fact, you might find it even easier to work out at home and maybe you will be more enthusiastic about staying fit. This is not something you can overlook; you will have a much better travel experience on your next vacation or longer trip if you are fit and healthy.

Be Paid To Travel

travel blog writing

This is my favourite one, and something i have been aspiring to for a long time with this travel blog. Some companies actually offer money to ordinary people to travel, especially if they have a good blog and an active social media presence. They benefit by getting good exposure and web traffic from the destinations and subjects you write about in a travel post. You can also join contests that offer vacation money as a prize. You might even find a “job” that requires you to travel like leading tour groups.

Determination is what sets apart those who reach their dream destination and those who do not. After all, saving for travel requires some discipline and sacrifice. But it’s a sacrifice that is well worth the effort. You won’t be disappointed when you are in some exotic location around the globe.

Four Delicacies You Should Try When You Travel to Croatia

Croatian cuisine is not really the kind that will get you readily interested. But if you’re a certified foodie and would love to challenge your taste buds and perhaps even titillate the other senses, then Croatian food is something you really have to try. With a variety of cultures providing distinct influences into every Croatian plate, you’d be treating yourself to a marriage of Turkish, Italian, Hungarian, and Austrian palates. Here are 4 weird yet yummy delicacies you should definitely try whenever you’re in Croatia.

Crni Rizoto

Crni Rizoto is the Croatian version of risotto. The only difference is that instead of the creamy off-white to slightly-yellowish texture you are more familiar with, this Croatian risotto comes in black. Crni Rizoto is made with squid, releasing its infamous black ink into the fluffy rice, and giving it that rich velvety black goodness. Octopus, clams, mussels, and even cuttlefish may also find their way into the dish. It’s definitely a very unique take on a classic recipe. Just make sure to restrain yourself from ever showing your teeth until you get back to your hotel room.

Vitalac

Almost everyone loves lamb, especially those who are on a personal journey to improve their health. Vitalac is nothing more than grilled lamb but is an exceptionally popular meal in the local cuisine. There’s nothing weird with that, right? Well, you see, Vitalac includes the lungs, liver, heart and other internal organs or offal of lamb, grilled on a spit. The grilled lamb offal is then wrapped in the amniotic membrane of lamb – the caul – before being fired again on the spit. The perfectly-grilled caul has a certain bacon-crispiness to it. By the time your teeth sink into the offal, an explosion of flavors will truly reveal themselves. It’s bizarre at best, but a trip to Croatia is never complete without sampling the famous Vitalac on Brac.

croatia-split

Peka

While the food is actually not weird, the cooking method is, that is for most other westerners. Peka is a slow-cooked dish that includes vegetables and meat or sometimes even seafood. These are placed inside a cast-iron pan which is then covered with a lid that looks more like a church bell. The covered cast-iron pan is then covered in embers made from an open fire. Over the course of the cooking process, white wine and fresh herbs are typically added for awesome flavor. The heat generated by the embers somehow leaves a very distinct aroma and flavor on the ingredients that you will simply want to discard your oven when you return home.

Soparnik

This is one dish that vegetarians as well as vegans will definitely love. Soparnik is a traditional Croatian flatbread that is easily found in Dalmatia, but mostly concentrated in the region of Poljica. The flatbread is generously filled with roughly chopped Swiss chard and then baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. Olive oil is drizzled and finely-chopped garlic is sprinkled over the freshly-baked Soparnik before it is cut into beautiful diamond-shaped miniature flatbreads.

Croatian cuisine is definitely not for everyone. But, so is traveling. Getting to know this former Yugoslav republic is best accomplished through the food they serve on a plate.

5 Best Spa Holiday Destinations in the World

Traveling doesn’t always mean visiting tourist attractions. It can also be time away from the hustle and bustle of the city to relax, rejuvenate, and re-align. There has been a huge boost in wellness tourism over the last few decades. This list of the 5 best spa destinations around the world aims to give you an idea of the places you can start looking into if you feel that your life is starting to go haywire.

spa holidays

1. Rancho La Puerta in Baja California, Mexico

Built in 1940, Rancho La Puerta has become the oldest spa in Northern America. Because its location is nowhere near the noise of the city, you will already feel the calming atmosphere surround you as you go deeper into the area. Landscaped pathways filled with different flowers is also a sight for the senses. But the place is not like any other spa. You can call it a boot camp if you may because you will be taking classes, going to talks here and there. Don’t worry, these talks won’t be boring as they give you insight on how to practice better mindsets or exercises that will help you maintain a relaxed state even when you leave the place.

2. Yaan Wellness in Tulum, Mexico

Another one found in Mexico is Yaan Wellness where healing is at its core. Every guest is immersed in the balance of nature as well as man-made creation. The spa director of the place, Bobby Klein, is one of the spa’s selling points because of his enlightening countenance and expertise. You can set a counseling appointment with him where you can ask about anything related to your quest for realignment and rejuvenation. The place is also full of treatment rooms and therapy pools, but if you are the more down-to-earth type, then you will surely enjoy the Bedouin tents.

3. Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, Thailand

While Bangkok is lined with spas famous for their Thai massages, nothing reaches the standard of the Oriental Spa. The hotel offers 10 treatment rooms with dimmed lights and a full-service massage. New to its menu is the 3-day retreat where guests can choose from spiritual retreats or yogas. To cap off the retreat, guests are also served (if requested) with healthy food where not only the mind relaxes, but also the whole body.

4. Anassa in Latchi, Cyprus

Anassa offers a wide range of spa treatments for a variety of preferences. From massages to five-day programs, people flock to this place because of the expertise and high-quality services Anassa offers. One of the resident physiotherapists here is Vladimir Papakides who is well-known for his “magic” in healing injuries, ailments, and pains. The hotel has garnered a bunch of regulars that go back for his services.

5. Villa Stephanie in Baden-Baden, Germany

What makes Villa Stephanie stand out from the rest and from the typical Zen-like spa, is the innovation that has put into this place. The area was specifically designed to remove any electronic distraction from the people who want to relax. Its walls are lined with signal blockers that block any WiFi connection so that internet or social media addicts can actually spend time relaxing than fussing over their cellphones or laptops. With also a touch of technological sophistication that Germany is famous for, the spa treatment at Villa Stephanie looks into the whole being of the person. It has a private gym with the latest innovations in fitness training and medical experts at the ready to make sure that you are in the most fit you have ever been.