How To Give Back While Traveling

Traveling is one of life’s biggest privileges.Not everyone can buy a flight, explore some of the world’s most incredible destinations and spend their days fulfilling a dream.Whether it’s lack of money, family obligations or circumstance, travel is beyond the reach of a large percentage of the world’s population.Those of us who do travel are a lucky few, so it’s important to share this wealth and give back to the communities we encounter.

Here are seven ways you can make a difference while you travel.

Volunteer

Whether it’s working on conservation, education or community projects, volunteering lets you leave a tangible mark on the communities you visit. You can find opportunities for volunteer tourism, or ‘voluntourism’, through reputable organizations such as a Global Vision International (GVI), which has projects in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and Central America.

You can also use services like Workaway, Habitat for Humanity and Woofing which allow you to volunteer in exchange for accommodation, meals and a local experience. Volunteer opportunities can additionally be found at your hostel on community boards, or simply ask the staff.

However, in response to voluntourism’s growing popularity, scams have sprung up and some projects do more harm than good. Make sure you do your research.

Support local businesses

Instead of staying in a big name chain resort or hotel, opt for a local guesthouse, bed and breakfast or even a homestay.

No one knows the history, geography and culture of your destination better than a local, so hire a local guide for sightseeing and other activities, and eat at family-owned food stalls or restaurants instead of McDonalds.

Do your souvenir or general shopping at the markets, small businesses and community-based handicraft co-operatives, rather than the airport or shopping centre filled with international chain stores. By taking these steps your money will stay in the community and support local jobs.

Pay fair

You might want to haggle hard over that souvenir bowl but is that $3 saving really worth it? Don’t take haggling overboard and keep any bargaining good natured. Those few dollars probably mean a lot more to the vendor than they do to you.

Tipping rules vary by country, region and scenario, but tip where necessary such as bars and restaurants as well as anyone who helps you along the way including tour guides and hotel staff. Pay fair and don’t be cheapskate.

Be good to the environment

For shorter trips, take the train or bus instead of flying to cut your carbon emissions and most likely save some money too. Once at your destination, take public transport – it will add to your travel experience and provide you with opportunities to interact with locals.

Seek out eco-friendly hotels and tour operators to help reduce your carbon footprint. There are a host of resources for the green traveler online.

At your hotel avoid replacing your towel if it’s unnecessary, keep showers short and turn off the TV, lights and air-conditioning when you leave the room.

Many countries don’t have the recycling programs you might be used to at home, which is a good reason to reduce, re-use and recycle. Instead of buying bottles of water, bring your own bottle and refill it at fountains or from your hotel or hostel, and avoid using plastic bags by taking a re-useable shopping bag.

Even though you might see trash piled up in the street, don’t contribute to the problem. Find a trashcan and toss rubbish in the right place or hold on to it until you can dispose of it correctly.

When hiking, always stay on marked trails to avoid trampling protected or endangered plants, and maintain a safe distance from any animals you encounter.

Don’t give to child beggars

It may tug at your heartstrings, but if you see a child begging in the street the best way to help is to donate to an organization equipped to handle the problem at a higher level.

As advocated by the likes of Lonely Planet and groups such as ChildSafe International, you should not hand over money – which is hard to do when confronted by impoverished children.

But by giving to child beggars or buying things from children, you support a system that keeps a child out of school and at the hands of an adult who could be abusing them. It also perpetuates a cycle of poverty.

Also avoid giving candy to children as it actually causes enormous suffering as many communities do not have the resources to treat tooth decay.

Spring Break Travel Tips

Spring Break… ah, now that brings a smile to a college students’ faces as they shiver in the wind on their way to that dreaded exam. For many students, Spring Break is a long awaited rite-of-passage that’s an important part of the the college experience, and for everybody, it’s a well-earned escape from school in the middle of the semester. Whatever you’re planning to do for Spring Break, here are some helpful tips to help you have a fabulous time.

Spring Break Shopping Guide
Shopping for a great swimsuit and other fun stuff for your trip can be a blast, but don’t forget to bring the necessities. These things will cost quite a bit more in a tourist destination. Here’s a practical Spring Break shopping guide to help you remember the important basics.

Spring Break Safety Precautions
Yes, the media has overhyped the dangers of Spring Break. The news would have you think that student hotspots are cesspools of endless binge drinking, date rape drugs, sex, and most of all, endless dangers that lurk in the shadows to corrupt innocent young coeds from middle America. While Spring Break isn’t that crazy, a savvy student traveler needs to be aware of the problems and potentially dangerous situations they might encounter. To help you out, here are some Spring Break safety precautions to keep in mind.

Spring Break Money Saving Tips
The biggest danger most students face during Spring Break is to their wallets. All travel is expensive, and student travel can be especially expensive if you’re not careful because there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there who try to take advantage of college kids. Be very careful about travel package deals that are advertised heavily Ont he Internet, on campus, and anywhere that students frequent. Many of these deals really are too good to be true. Here’s how to avoid a Spring Break travel scam.

Even if you don’t fall victim to a scam, Spring Break can be a real money pit for college students. Unexpected expenses can add up very quickly. Here are some Spring Break money saving tips to help you end your vacation with a fatter wallet.

Spring Break Travel Ideas
So where should you spend your Spring Break? Cancun? Florida? Be sure to stop by a reputable travel agency that specializes in student travel, because they can give you some great tips on where to go and where to avoid.

In addition, consider taking a more unusual Spring Break. Who says you have to spend break on a beach to have fun– and who says you have to spend the money that goes along with a tropical vacation? Here are some cheap ideas for Spring Break travel that you might not have considered, such as a road trip. Or consider joining the growing numbers of students who spend their Spring Breaks volunteering in places like New Orleans. Here’s what you need to know about alternative Spring Break volunteer trips.

Air Travel Tips for Pregnant Women

Travelling in pregnancy may not be a very enjoyable experience for most. However, it does not necessarily have to be a bad experience. Thousands of pregnant women travel via air every year and majority of them are able to avoid any kind of untoward accident. Appropriate knowledge and some carefulness is perhaps the prerequisite for a safe journey. Here are some useful tips to be kept in mind to ensure the safety of the pregnant women during air travel.

Consult the gynaecologist – Before planning a travel and booking airline tickets, consult a good gynaecologist to know whether you are fit to travel or not.

Book Direct Flights– Direct flights are always convenient for pregnant passengers as it saves them from the trouble of changing the aircraft repeatedly. Though airlines tickets for direct flights are comparatively expensive but the convenience they bestow is worth the money spent.

Book Best Seats in Advance– Plan you travel well in advance to make the best bookings possible. Compare flights and air ticket costs and then make online air tickets booking to reserve the seats available with extra legroom space.

Restrictions on Pregnant Travellers – Many airlines put certain restrictions on the travelling of the pregnant women during the late days of their pregnancy. For this, the airlines go through several medical aspects of the pregnant travellers including their due delivery date, number of babies mother is expecting, health issues, etc. For instance, pregnant ladies who book air tickets to Indiawith British Airways will face no travel restrictions up to the 36th week of pregnancy, provided the passenger is not expecting multiple births.

Packing– Pack loose and comfortable clothes to stay calm and relaxed during your holidays. Keeping a pair of comfortable and light shoes is also highly recommended as it can make your travel experience relaxing and stress-free.

Reach Airport Early– Reach airport early to avoid last minute rush as any sort of rush can make pregnant passengers feel stressful and uneasy.

If you need assistance from your personal helper till the entrance, you may collect an pass from the airport service desk.

Avoid Dehydration– Dehydration can be really bad for pregnant ladies during air travel. Try to consume sufficient amount of water to relish a comfortable travel experience. You may also carry your own water bottle to sip water at regular intervals of time.

Flight Safety – To ensure safety on the flight, keep your seat belts fastened all the time. Use handrails or seat backs to stand and move inside the aircraft. The flight attendants must be told about the presence of the pregnant traveller in the flight in advance so that they may pay extra attention to the traveller.a

Romantic Travel Resolutions

Travel resolutions for couples in this day & age are very important. Keeping in mind the fact that it’s difficult to plan one together, in an age of technology & instant everything.

Couples can plan to do something that they have rarely done.  It can be mild or totally wild – whatever suits one’s tastes.

Go white-water rafting. Rent a houseboat. Take a hot air balloon ride. Spend the night in a local bed and breakfast. Learn to scuba dive. Dance the whole night away under the stars. The choice is yours.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>It’s also important to be mindful of not being rushed & impulsive about it. It is second nature to all of us, esp when it comes to finalizing our travel itineraries. From flight tickets, to hotel bookings, to activities. Planning ensures that you don’t have any loose ends and it invariably ends up saving your hard earned money.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You must not eat Burgers in Italy!

 

This is a mantra to be written in blood, while travelling on leisure. Its important to eat like a local.

Trying a new cuisine would not only tantalise your taste buds but is also usually a safe bet and is economic, too.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Travel Light

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Designer clothes, fancy shoes, make – up, bags et all. The list is never ending especially when we are travelling in the initial years of our marriage. It is important for us to look our best for our spouse. Instead we could keep all of that for the social dos. A good amount of money will be saved and your ‘spinal cord’ that will thank you

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You will not get enslaved to technology

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Vacations are all about re-discovering yourselves & taking time out to reconnect with your partner. Spend that time in complete togetherness; enjoy each other’s presence & company. In our busy lives, it’s difficult to  take time out to travel: tight deadlines in office, financial worries etc. These things eat our peace of mind. Leading to burn out & therefore couples not communicating enough with each other when together.

Vacations are an excellent time to stay connected! However its understandable that the food has to be ‘Instagramed’ and you totally have to ‘check-in’ at the fabulous place you have just entered. But can’t it wait? The food would go cold and so will be the conversations. Clicking a picture or two is you must. But, seriously do not overdo technology and learn to enjoy the moment.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You will find time to interact with the locals

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Its not possible to rely so heavily on google for information on – Best places to eat, best way to commute, best places to see etc.  A smart traveller like you should not hesitate to reach out to locals and discover the world that is beyond apps and internet.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You will not cramp up your itinerary

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Not taking vacations at all or taking one and visiting too many places, both of them, would mean a messed up holiday and an over-drained you!

 As a couple travelling to spend quality time together – it’s important to visit a few places, soak in the experience with all of one’s senses. Wanting to cover as many places as possible & only wanting to plaster the place will not result in a pleasant tour together! It will only result in spending a huge amount of time on roads, commuting from one place to another.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You will not shy away from trying something new

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For couples travelling, there is no limit to the opportunities for experimenting with exciting things! Doing things together as a couple, not only brings you’ll closer but also helps you understand each other better, while participating in adventurous activities together! For instance outdoor sports like sky diving, micro-lighting, wine-tasting, baking, kayaking, perfume-making make for perfect couple activities. This element of experimenting makes it all the more interesting!

It is absolutely essential to pick up a new activity – something that you’ll haven’t done before, something that excites you’ll, that challenges you’ll or scares you’ll. Your entire trip can be planned around it. Not only will it motivate you to take that trip, but will also make major alterations in your personality.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You will “Actually” travel

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Those quaint villages, that exhilarating ride, that riverside camp, the snow clad mountains, those deep valleys are beckoning you; don’t hold yourself back.

Remember, you can always make more money, but you can’t always make memories! So, throw caution to air and actually travel…if you are looking for an appropriate time it is NOW!!  Its 2015 fella! If not now? When?!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Slow down and savor each moment while travelling. Live in the present and focus on the little details you’re experiencing right in the moment. The colour of the tropical water, the smell of the flowers, the taste of the local specialties. Don’t speed through destinations but have a richer, more memorable experience in the ones you visit.