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Things to Do on Your Trip to London
Cool Things to Do on Your Trip to London
In a heavily tourist-trafficked city like London, sometimes the best experiences the area has to offer are off the beaten path.
Take your travels to the next level with these insider tips on the best quirky things to do in London. Check out these cool stops on your next trip to London:
Visit God’s Own Junkyard
This little treasure trove boasts the largest collection of vintage and neon signs in all of Europe.
God’s Own Junkyard is the brainchild of artist Chris Bracey. Bracy is renowned as the “Neon Man” and has amassed a cult-like following over the last 37 years.
The art featured at the Junkyard features new and used neon signs ranging from old movies props, retro displays, circus lighting, and salvaged vintage neons.
Climb Big Ben
With 334 steps to get to the top, everyone’s inner fitness freak will be incredibly pleased to take on this nontraditional workout with a view.
Once you reach the top of Elizabeth Tower where the clock bell is, you’ll have a beautiful view of Westminster Bridge and the surrounding area.
This is an inexpensive, fun way to get a beautiful view that most people aren’t aware is available!
Detour to the House of Dreams
Another unconventional display of art, the House of Dreams is the home of artist Stephen Wright that features a house-wide mosaic of recycled and repurposed goods.
Wright is an artist and textile designer with over 3 decades of experience in the scene and has been creating his little House of Dreams since the 90’s.
The entirety of the first floor of the house, as well as the garden and exterior, have been slowly turned into one giant sculpture with every available inch of wall, floor, and ceiling space covered in art.
The House is only open to the public for a handful of days a year, so plan your trip accordingly. This isn’t a place you want to miss.
Experience Magic at Platform 9 3/4
The Harry Potter series, which has tens of millions of fans from all over the world, is partially played out in London. That means if you happen to be one of those millions of fans, this is your chance to live out a little bit of fantasy.
Let your nerdy side out to play by visiting the famed Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station and experience a little bit of the magic that Harry and his pals do.
There are Many Quirky Things to do in London!
Don’t forget you can find people to explore London with by searching for locals on iSocialCircle!
Extreme Water Sports That Will Get ..
Extreme Water Sports That Will Get Your Adrenaline Pumping!
Your palms are sweaty, your heart is racing, and you can barely contain your excitement. And no, it’s not because you’re about to graduate, get married, or take part in some other life-changing event, It’s because you’re about to engage in some adrenaline-pumping activity that makes others label you as “completely crazy.”
If this sounds like you, then you’re a certifiable adrenaline junkie.
We can’t blame you for your addiction to chasing that rush of excitement. In fact, researchers know that to some extent, biology plays a role in whether or not you are a born thrill-seeker.
So, instead of questioning your daredevil attitude, we’re here to fuel it. And what better way to fuel it than with extreme water sports.
Extreme water sports are perfect for any adrenaline junkie who’s looking to take their land adventures to the sea.
Keep reading to learn about the best water sports to get your adrenaline pumping.
1. Swimming With Whale Sharks
Swimming with sharks? There’s no way you’ll get out of that one alive, right?
Wrong. If you know anything about whale sharks, then you know that they’re some of the tamest sea creatures around.
Nonetheless, swimming with these massive creatures can be an adrenaline-pumping experience.
Many people who are looking for an underwater thrill turn to scuba-diving or snorkeling to get their fix.
While these activities are certainly wonderful, they may be a bit too tame for the hardcore thrill seekers.
If you’re looking to kick it up a notch, you’ll definitely want to look into free diving. With free diving, you take a big breath, dive in, and go as deep as you can.
While it sounds simple, it can actually be quite dangerous, and you’ll definitely need training beforehand.
3. Cliff Jumping
Looking to combine the thrill of being in the water with the thrill of heights?
If so, then cliff jumping might be for you.
You can practice cliff jumping just about anywhere you can find a ledge and a deep enough body of water to jump in. Even better, you don’t need any special equipment. If you’ve mental strength, an excellent physical fitness level, and some acrobatic skills, then you’re good to go.
4. Big Wave Surfing
We can’t talk about extreme water sports without talking about big wave surfing.
A big wave is any wave that’s over 20 ft high. If you’re already a comfortable surfer, then hitting a big wave might be adrenaline rush you need. California, Australia, and Hawaii are all good places to hunt for massive waves.
5. Cave Diving
If exploring the deepest depths of the ocean excites you, then cave diving is definitely an extreme water sport worth looking into.
Unlike learning how to scuba dive, which is extremely safe, learning to cave dive is rather risky. Your lights could go out, you could run out of the air, get trapped or get lost. Plus, the deeper you go, the hard it is to get back.
However, great rewards await those who are daring enough to explore this hidden underwater paradise.
Hopefully, just learning about these water sports already has your adrenaline pumping! Why not find a group of Adeline junkies to do these exciting activities with on iSocialCircle?!
10 Unforgettable Things To Do In Ta..
10 Unforgettable Things To Do In Tanzania
So you’re planning an exotic journey to East Africa. Great. Perhaps you’re comparing places to go. This article should help you with that, because there are so many things to do in Tanzania.
Tanzania is one of the longest-inhabited locations on earth. It’s the cradle of humanity and home to the most fascinating exotic wildlife in the region.
While the safaris are the biggest tourist attraction, there are many other things to do and see in Tanzania. Whether you like adventurous hikes, natural curiosities, or relaxing on beautiful beaches, this beautiful country on the African east coast has something for you.
Here are ten unforgettable things to do in Tanzania…
1. See the Wildlife in the Serengeti
A wildlife safari is an essential to a great Africa trip. Tanzania is the perfect place for this.
Drawing its name from an old Maasai word meaning “endless plains,” Serengeti National Park covers more than 5,000 square miles.
It’s the home of some of the most exotic wildlife in the world. The landscape and beautiful sunsets are just as majestic. Make sure to bring a camera.
This place will offer some of the best chances to snap a picture of lions, wildebeest, and zebras.
It’s the most lively between June and September. Each year, more than a million wildebeest cross the plains to find greener pastures. Thousands of zebras and gazelle take the same journey. The predators follow in their steps.
It’s the least rainy time of the year as well. You can camp out and wait for the migration with certain tours.
It’s a vibrant place all year though. With leopards, cheetahs, lions, and elephants living here, there is no bad season to visit the Serengeti.
There’s a vast selection of different tours, there’s something that fits everyone. Whether you prefer relaxing on the beach or trekking and climbing where others don’t go, the Serengeti won’t disappoint.
2. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Right on the border against Kenya, you find Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing it is among the most adventurous things to do in Tanzania.
It’s a big tourist draw with around 35,000 visitors attempting the hike each year. However, it’s not overcrowded. And it’s still an adventure to be proud of. Not everyone makes it all the way.
It’s a six-day hike for the average person, and you won’t need any special climbing equipment. Just bring proper clothing, food, water, and an adventurous attitude.
Get ready for some amazing views. You’ll encounter five unique climates as you ascend toward the top of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.
At 19, 340 feet, you can feel rightly proud of reaching the highest peak in all of Africa.
3. See the Wonders of Nature in Ngorongoro Crater
This is the biggest unbroken caldera in the world. It’s around 12 miles across, with 102 square miles of bustling, open grassland. There’s a high wildlife concentration all year, with more than 30,000 animals.
You can find those rare black rhinos here, as well as pink flamingos. And the world’s highest lion population density. Almost any species of wildlife native to East Africa can be found here.
It’s a good spot to look for the “big five” of African wildlife – a lion, an elephant, a leopard, a rhino, and a buffalo. If you want to stay longer to see more wildlife, there are lodges and campsites where you can spend the night.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is close to the Serengeti. So if you’re into wildlife, you can do them in close succession.
4. Get a Taste of Local Urban Life in Arusha
In Arusha, located in the north of Tanzania, you can experience what city life is like in the country.
The city sits at the foothills of Mount Meru, surrounded by vast fields of corn, beans, coffee, and wheat. You can buy this cheap, fresh local produce in markets throughout town.
The cultural center hosts African art and culture exhibits. Escape the city atmosphere for a while, soak in the local culture, have a coffee on the terrace. It’s a good place to purchase some great souvenirs!
5. Visit Some Prehistoric Sites
The great rift valley ranges all the way from Lebanon to Mozambique. It runs through Tanzania. This rift is where human life is believed to have begun.
At Isimila Gorge, close to Iringa, you can look at stone age tools from almost 100,000 years ago. There’s also a collection of fossils of extinct animals.
Olduvai Gorge, also known as the cradle of civilization, is also found in Tanzania. This is where the Leakeys found remnants of the oldest known human species.
This find, dating back 3 million years, is how we learned that humans evolved in Africa.
6. Ride a Ferry to Zanzibar
Zanzibar is a popular destination for relaxing on beautiful beaches and exploring local culture. It’s famous for its historical areas, spice markets, and beautiful nature.
One of the most popular places on this island is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone town. You can explore picturesque, narrow, winding streets through bazaars and past old mosques.
You can also find the house where Queen frontman Freddy Mercury grew up, and have a drink at Mercury’s bar.
This place has a lot of history, having been a key trading hub for both spices and slaves. The old fort and the night market offer a glimpse through the centuries.
7. Dive around the Spice Islands
Zanzibar isn’t just beautiful on the surface. Beyond the sandy beaches, under the turquoise water, is another realm of beauty. This is true for many islands in the region.
The Spice Islands are considered the best area for diving and snorkeling in East Africa. So you have calmer options when Zanzibar gets crammed full of tourists during high season.
Pemba island is a popular spot to enjoy this Indian ocean underwater experience. It’s close to Zanzibar but less crowded.
It’s an ideal spot to explore marine life and beautiful coral reefs.
8. Visit the Chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains
The Mahale Mountains in Tanzania are one of the best places in the world to view chimpanzees living in their natural habit.
This area near the clear waters of the beautiful Lake Tanganyika is home to around 1,000 chimpanzees. You can also find other primates here, such as red colobus and baboons.
The best thing is that it’s a newer tourist destination, so it won’t be too crowded!
9. Watch Beautiful Birds by Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara is not only a beautiful piece of nature. It’s also home to roughly 300 species of migratory birds. You can find various eagles, storks, and kingfishers.
But what makes this alkaline lake famous is the pink flamingo population. You can find thousands of flamingos here. It’s a big attraction for bird watchers and photographers.
In the dry season, the lake is dried up. That doesn’t change its status as a great wildlife watching spots. When the birds leave, they’re replaced by hippos, elephants, and giraffes.
10. Go Canoeing on the Coast
The beautiful coastal waters are best explored in a canoe or kayak. You can rent canoes and kayaks with or without guides.
Few things are as peaceful as a canoe ride in nature.
Why not set up a Social Circle for people to join your adventure on iSocialCircle!
Some of The Best Ski Resorts in the..
The 8 Best Ski Resorts in the World
Skiing is one of the ultimate forms of getting an adrenaline rush.
The thrill of being in the middle of the great outdoors is priceless. Between shredding the slopes and taking in the scenery, there’s no such thing as a bad day skiing.
However, there is such a thing as a top-notch ski resort and a mediocre one. If you are planning on chasing thrills in the near future, be sure to go all out.
Don’t forget to check our Affiliates/Offers section regularly for Skiing offers from our Affiliates!
The Best Ski Resorts In The World
1. Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley is America’s oldest ski resort.
For over 70 years, it has been welcoming skiers to this beautiful mountain. Yet, many Americans jump to well-known skiing towns without even realizing the beauty of Sun Valley in Idaho’s backyard.
This means more space to ski and enjoy the ride for the locals at this resort. It is easily one of the best-kept secrets in the skiing world.
2. Park City, Utah
If you’re looking for ample space to play and different areas to ski, head to Park City.
This is the largest resort in the States, with big thrills for the whole family. At 7,300 acres, there is sure to be the perfect easy route for the beginner in the group to try.
For the more experienced skier, there’s plenty of fresh powder and big bowls to enjoy.
3. Telluride, Colorado
Telluride offers everything a skier can ask for.
Enjoy tough terrain to test your skills or take the skids on a simple cruise through the mountain.
At the end of the day, enjoy a quick ride right into town on your skis. You can literally finish a slope and walk into the nearest coffee shop or pub in just a few minutes!
4. Vail and Whistler-Blackcomb, Colorado
This American destination is not just one of the best ski resorts in the world, but arguably one of the most popular.
Every year, Vail welcomes over 5 million locals and international ski enthusiasts alike. With the pristine beauty and perfect conditions of the back bowls and the excellent reporting standards, it’s no surprise Vail is a favorite.
Whistler-Blackcomb recently joined Vail resorts, meaning more space and chances to ride your favourite slopes with the Epic Pass.
5. Are, Sweden
This is the largest snow resort in all of Northern Europe.
Skiers can enjoy their favorite kinds of runs and try their hand at other snow sports, too. For those looking to really up their skills, this is an ideal opportunity to try heli-skiing.
6. Alpe d’Huez, France
Alpe d’Huez is a skier’s paradise.
The peak of the mountain offers one of the best panoramas out there, with a view of one-fifth of French terrain. You can expect for the sun to shine for most of your visit and guide your path on the slopes.
The village is also known for cultural events and many other snow sports, meaning there is always something to do.
7. Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria
Austria’s largest ski resort is waiting to welcome you on over 70 lifts to fun and adventure.
The mountain is equipped with everything from challenging runs to thrill-filled fun parks. To catch your breath, enjoy one of 50 huts on the mountain serving traditional Austrian treats.
8. Gstaad, Switzerland
For a little bit of everything and a whole lot of luxury, head straight to Gstaad.
This is a gem of the snow world, offering everything from skiing, hiking, ice skating, and tobogganing. No matter what sport you choose, make sure to stop and enjoy the views.
Discover One Of The Best Ski Resorts In The World
Ready to pack your skis and hit the slopes?
Some of the biggest thrills and most memorable moments are waiting, no matter your destination of choice.
Don’t forget to post an invite on iSocialCircle and meet fellow Skiers at your chosen resort!
Self Improvement Tips To Help You L..
5 Self Improvement Tips To Try To Live Your Best Life
According to a recent study, a shockingly sad 85% of people say they suffer from a lack of self-confidence.
To make matters worse, only one out of every three Americans say they’re currently happy with where they are in life.
Worldwide, only 13% of people say they’re enthusiastic about going to work everyday.
These statistics all point to one thing: most people seem at least somewhat unsatisfied with their lives.
Are you one of them?
If so, you need to read this post. We’ve collected 5 of the top self improvement tips you need to try to start seeing your life — and yourself — in a better light.
1. Enroll In A Self Improvement Course
Sometimes, you need the support of a group environment to help you propel yourself forward.
A group mentality doesn’t just hold you accountable. It also allows you to listen to the stories of others who may have faced the same challenges as you — and came out on the other side.
Look at options like the avatar energy master target course or even look for local mental health support groups to get started.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
It’s natural to want to see how you stack up in comparison to those around you. Social media has made it easier than ever.
It’s so simple to get stuck in a cycle of self-loathing, anxiety, and jealousy when compare where you are in life to your friends of family members.
Doing this will only hold you back. Remember, no matter how it might look on Facebook, these people also have their own challenges.
Plus, everyone has their own set of circumstances that influence the choices they make.
Our best advice? Log off, and celebrate your own accomplishments.
3. Ask Yourself This One Question Every Day
Many of us set lofty goals for ourselves — and we want to achieve them quickly.
However, get realistic about your pacing, and the actual attainability of these goals.
Before you fall asleep every night, ask yourself this question:
“What is one thing I did today that got me a step closer to my goals?”
This way, you’ll be able to clearly see that, even if all your dreams didn’t come true overnight, you’re well on your way to making them happen.
4. Give Back
Many of us struggle with a sense of self-worth. However, very few of us realize just how important we are to so many around us.
One way to start understanding how much you matter is by giving back.
Get involved in local volunteer work. Assist in taking care of your community garden, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
Even donate some of your own clothing to a shelter, or office your design services to a nonprofit.
This will help you to see the value in your life, and you’ll understand that even small actions can make a big difference.
5. Remember: You Deserve Success
Many people wrongly feel that the reason they aren’t successful is because they don’t deserve to be.
Stop beating yourself up over past choices and wishing you’d done things differently. You know in your heart that you’re just as worthy of success as every else.
Changing your mindset — and even repeating positive mantras to yourself in the mirror — will boost your self-confidence.
Use These Self Improvement Tips To Boost Your Self-Worth
We hope these five self improvement tips have reminded you about the importance of self-care.
No matter where you are in life, it’s always important to check in with yourself. Taking some time to focus on you is far from selfish — in fact, it can help you be more productive and more empathetic to the people around you.
Make today the day you start moving forward.
If you are struggling with your mental health, we have a useful “Support When You Need It” which includes a list of various Mental health charities and campaigns which may be able to give you the support you need.
Everything You Need to Know When Mo..
Everything You Need to Know When Moving Abroad Alone
Thinking of moving abroad alone?
It’s exciting – and a little terrifying.
When it comes time to actually plan, it can seem like there’s a lack of useful information out there. The prospect of moving abroad can inspire all these feelings and a host of other questions and anxieties.
The idea of leaving your home to live in a foreign country by yourself is bound to provoke some stress. Luckily, you can deflate much of that stress having an idea of what the experience will hold in store.
If you’re in the planning stages of such a move, or still just considering it, these are some of the most important things to know about moving abroad alone. Read on for the best tips to make your move go smoothly.
Embrace the Fear and Get Through It
When you leave your homeland, you are leaving your comfort zone.
This is intimidating, especially once you’ve arrived and are trying to settle into your new home.
A common instinct in these situations is to live like a hermit for a while, giving yourself time to get adjusted. It’s going to take time to adapt no matter what. But, the sooner you face your fears and embrace your new home, the easier it’ll be in the long run.
There’s no way around the need for social interaction. Isolating yourself can have wide-ranging consequences, especially when living abroad. Don’t let the natural anxiety of being alone in a new place keep you from getting out there. It’s never too soon to start learning about the local culture and making new friends.
If you’re not sure where to begin making friends abroad, there are some simple things to keep in mind that are often effective – like staying friendly and relatively fearless.
You’ll thank yourself after you’ve settled in and developed a healthy social life in your new home.
That being the case, moving on your own to a new country with a new culture is going to take resilience. Some sadness and fear is going to be inevitable. This is all part of adjusting, and it’s completely normal for anyone making such a huge change.
Tie Up Potential Loose Ends
With your sights focused on your future in a new land, excitement can take over. It’s easier than you might realize to leave your old life in the rear-view.
While a forward-looking attitude is admirable and necessary when moving abroad alone, making sure things are in order before you leave will help you feel less anxious and can prevent future issues you encounter from becoming larger problems.
Some of the most essential things you can do to tie up loose ends before your move:
- Make certain that your loved ones and close friends know your new address and how they can reach you.
- If you have any possessions that are not coming with you to your new home, putting your things in storage is usually the best way to go. Give yourself time to find a good facility at an affordable price. You don’t want to be scrambling just before you leave.
- Arrange for forwarding of any mail that comes to your old address to a PO Box. You can also opt for an international mail forwarding service.
- Just as importantly, schedule some quality time with the people you care about. These memories will help you during the massive transition you’re about to undertake.
Be Prepared in Every Way
Besides ensuring everything social is taken care of at home, it’s vital that you take care of all the required legal, practical and medical issues before your move. This seems obvious, but it’s easy to miss a key element of preparing for a move.
It’s best to figure out the visa situation long before leaving. In some cases, this can determine if a move is even possible.
Remember that every country has different rules for foreigners coming to live and work within their borders. This is one of the first things to look into when you are considering moving alone abroad. Visa laws can also determine how long you can stay at your new job, and stay in your new country altogether.
Of course, you will need to update your insurance policies. Fortunately, finding life insurance for expats is much simpler than it sounds.
Medical issues are another common snag. If you have allergies, or are on any prescription medications, or if you have any other special medical needs these need to be taken into account during planning.
Prescription medication availability and medical coverage in general varies drastically between different countries, so these are things to research.
Depending on where you are moving, you may want to keep a bank account open and some money at home. You should also keep at least one credit card open in case of emergencies. Also, your credit score will take a hit if you cancel every one of your cards.
You can switch to a family member’s address for bank and credit card accounts.
Last but not least, check to see which vaccines you need before emigrating to your new home country, and if there are medical documents you’ll need to take with you.
Moving Abroad Alone is an Intimidating but Worthwhile Adventure
For just about everybody who makes the decision, moving abroad alone ends up being one of the largest and most consequential decisions of their life.
Assuming that you already have a job and a place to live lined up, taking these tips to heart will help make your new adventure everything it should be.
If you are still in the research phases, or you’re wondering where to begin, starting a travel blog is a great way to start down the road of living abroad independently.
Also, check out our TEFL Job board and TEFL training guides which could help you find work around the world. Starting online friendships with iSocialCircle before you move abroad could also help you settle in to your new country easier.
5 Awesome Outdoor Activities to Do!
Get Your Adventure On!
Taking a trip to the mountains may not be your idea of a vacation, but that’s because you haven’t thought of all the amazing activities you can do while you’re there. What if there was a slew of activities to choose from in the great outdoors that you weren’t aware of?
Whether you’re bringing the whole family or making it a romantic trip for two, we’ve laid out 5 awesome outdoor activities you need to do before you leave.
1. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hiking a mountain can only get you so far with limited views of the surrounding area depending on where you are. The solution? Taking a hot air balloon ride.
This is the perfect activity to do in the summer when this outdoor activity is most popular. You’ll get a birds-eye view of the mountains and landscape for miles around. Make sure to take your ride at sunset for the most romantic experience.
Not a fan of heights but still want something just as exhilarating? Zip lining could be a great substitute.
2. River Rafting
River rafting is a great activity the whole family can enjoy. And nothing beats rafting through canyons and valleys, which make for great travel stories!
Depending on which mountain area you’re visiting will determine what kind of rafting you’ll do. While some rivers have half-day adventures, others give you an overnight experience.
Pigeon River, for example, is the third most rafted river in America. It has two sections of rivers to choose from -Lower Pigeon River and Upper Pigeon River.
Lower Pigeon offers Class 1 and Class 2 rapids which aren’t too hard to navigate, making it perfect for families. You’ll still experience some mild falls, though!
If you’re a more experienced rafter, Upper Pigeon River is for you. This section of river features Class 3 and Class 4 rapids.
3. Horseback Riding
Certain mountain ranges like the Smoky Mountains have a lot of ground to cover, making it almost impossible to see everything in a few short days. The solution?
Take to the trails on horseback with no prior riding experience needed. You’ll cover more surface area in a quicker amount of time, and do it in a more unique way!
Most mountain ranges offering this activity have horses who are well-trained and familiar with the trails. This makes it another outdoor activity perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
Not every outdoor adventure has to be just that – an adventure. If you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, why not take a day to go golfing?
Some mountain ranges have beautiful golf courses overlooking the mountains and beyond, making it the ultimate relaxing golf experience. Not a professional (or even semi-good) golfer?
Don’t worry – there are plenty of mini golf options available, too! Plus, some of these have indoor blacklight courses on rooftops, making it more fun and unique!
5. Clingmans Dome
Let’s go back to basics for our last outdoor adventure with some good ol’ hiking. If you’re staying in the Smoky Mountains, you have to take a day to hike to Clingmans Dome.
After hiking 6,643 miles up, you’ll arrive at the observation tower. This gives you spectacular 360-degree views of the Smokies at the highest point in the state of Tennessee.
If you’re lucky and go on a clear day you can see for over 100 miles!
The hike to the observation tower does get steep, though. While the tower is open all year, the road leading to it closes at the beginning of December.
Keep this in mind when planning your Smoky Mountain trip!
Exciting Outdoor Activities
We know these outdoor activities already have you packing your bag. Make sure to keep them in mind for your next mountain trip and pick at least one to put on your mountain bucket list.
Can’t decide? Do all five and pick which was your favourite! Don’t forget to invite a group of Socialites to your big adventure on iSocialCircle!
10 Must-Do Chicago Activities
Wander Your Way Around the Windy City
Chicago’s had record numbers of tourists in the Windy City over the last couple of years. It’s no surprise. The town is vibrant and fun with great food, a plethora of parks and lots of attractions.
Next time you visit Chicago check these out!…
1.Millenium Park and the Bean
It wouldn’t be a visit to Chicago if you didn’t make it to Millenium Park. Don’t forget to take your photo at the famous sculpture, Cloud Gate, known as the “Bean” to locals.
Anish Kapoor created the famous sculpture. Spend some time walking in and around it. The mirrored surface makes for some great reflections of the surrounding city.
Take your time walking around the park. Stop by the tower fountains. They feature giant faces looking down on the reflecting pool. The faces spurt water from their mouths at intervals.
While you’re at the Bean, duck across the street to the Chicago Cultural Center and see the Tiffany Dome.
2.The Willis Tower SkyDeck Chicago
The SkyDeck is at the top of Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. You’ll get an amazing 360-degree view of the city from the observatory.
Are you brave? Take a step onto the 1,353-foot high Ledge. It’s a glass floor extending over 4 feet from the edge of the building. The Ledge’s support system is invisible making the view unparalleled.
Tickets for the Ledge are $24 and include museum exhibits.
Some people avoid Navy Pier citing it as a tourist trap. But if you’ve never been to Chicago, you should take some time and explore this historic landmark. Navy Pier is on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.
It’s over 3,000 feet long and includes parks, shops, restaurants, and attractions.
It first opened in 1916 and was built by Charles Sumner Frost, a well-known architect. It was the Municipal Pier but was renamed in 1927 in honor of WWII navy veterans.
Navy Pier houses the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Chicago is host to many famous buildings, and some of the world’s most famous architects are from the Windy City.
Sit back and relax on an architecture cruise. Let an expert point out the unique features and history of Chicago’s buildings. Chicago has over 50 skyscrapers gracing the skyline.
5.The Art Institute of Chicago
Don’t miss the Art Institute of Chicago located on Michigan Avenue. You can’t miss the iconic lions flanking the entrance. They were sculpted by Edward Kenny.
If you’re into the Impressionists, you’ll love the collection of Impressionist paintings. The unforgettable “Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” by George Seurat is there.
The Institute is also home to paintings by Georgia O’Keefe, Chagall, and Matisse.
The Windy City is a foodie’s paradise! There are so many unforgettable dishes. Start your day early at one of USA Today’s 10 best coffee and breakfast shops, Cupitol Coffee & Eatery.
Chicago is synonymous with pizza. The locals favor the thin-crust pizza. But you’ve got to try the famous deep dish at least once while you’re there. Try Lou Malnati’s for a deep-dish treat.
Try an Italian beef sandwich in Little Italy/University Village. Finish your meal with an Italian ice treat. And a visit to Chicago wouldn’t be the same without trying a Chicago dog. Superdawg is a fun retroplace serving up great Chicago dogs.
Chicago has some serious sports fans. A visit to Wrigley Field is a must for any sports fan. Even if you’re not a baseball buff, you’ll appreciate this historic baseball park.
If you don’t have time for a game or you’re there in the off-season, take a tour. For about $25, you’ll get a guided tour lasting almost 90 minutes. The guides are knowledgeable, and you’ll learn lots of fun facts.
Parking in Chicago is tough and the Wrigley Field area is no exception. Your best bet is public transportation. Take the “L” to the Addison stop.
Have you ever been on an urban hiking trail?
Check out the 606. It’s an elevated recreational trail running for almost 3 miles. It’s open from 6 am to 11 pm. If you brought the dog on this trip. the 606 welcomes him too.
It follows an old abandoned rail line and passes lots of fun bars and restaurants. The rail line was elevated in the late 1800s to eliminate the dangerous ground-level rail crossings.
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest in the world. See penguins, sharks, and whales. Touch a stingray. For additional fees, the aquarium offers tours behind the scenes and animal encounters.
Admission runs about $40 for adults, $30 for children. Plan to spend at least half a day there to get the most bang for your buck. If you get a CityPASS or Go Chicago Card, you’ll get one free ticket to the aquarium.
The Shedd Aquarium is in Grant Park near the Field Museum and Adler Planetarium.
Grant Park is over 300 acres of green space starting at the eastern edge of the Loop. It runs down close to the South Side. The park is close to Millennium Park.
Located in Grant Park is the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. Don’t miss Buckingham Fountain. Every hour between May and October there’s a 20-minute water show at the fountain.
Buckingham Fountain is one of the world’s largest fountains. Jets shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air. Take note that the fountain closes for the winter.
The Best Chicago Activities
Now you know what the 10 best Chicago activities are, what are you waiting for? It’s time for your visit to the famous Windy City.
Stand at the Ledge at SkyDeck Chicago. Eat some of the most delicious food around. Stroll the Navy Pier, and take in a show or two. Visit the Shedd Aquarium and enjoy the city views from Grant Park.
Why not share these amazing experiences with a friend? Find someone to go with on iSocialCircle!
5 Most Dangerous Mountains on Earth
Climb If You Dare
Mountaineering is a fun outdoor activity, but not something that all people can attempt. However, if you’re a true climber, nothing is fulfilling as reaching the summit of the highest mountains.
Unfortunately, fun isn’t something that you’ll get all the time.
It’s a risky affair. There are some dangerous mountains in the world that even the most experienced climbers fear.
This post will cover some of the deadliest mountains that are known for their high fatality rates and accidents.
1. Mont Blanc Massif
Month Blanc Massif is the tallest mountain in the Alpine range, measuring about 15,782 ft. Climbers die on this mountain every year due to rock slides and high altitude. This makes it the mountain with the highest number of fatalities.
Mont Black causes about 100 deaths every year. Over 6,000 climbers have died on it. The first successful climb was in 1786. However, the mountain is also popular because President Theodore Roosevelt reached its top in 1886.
Boasting a height of 26,246 feet, Nepal’s Annapurna has one of the tallest peaks that attracts climbers from everywhere. About 191 people have successfully climbed this mountain since 1950.
60 people have already died in an effort to reach the summit of Annapurna. Of all the mountains with 8,000-meter peaks, Annapurna is regarded as the most dangerous with a fatality rate of 41 percent.
K2 is the second-highest mountain in the world. It’s easy to climb Kilimanjaro, but that’s not the case with K2 as climbers consider it one of the most difficult. Even on the easier routes, climbers encounter ice pillars that prone to collapse, steep areas of rock, and complicated glaciers.
This mountain is found on the border of China and Pakistan. It measures 28,251 feet. K2 has a nasty reputation with female climbers — to the point that it’s thought to have a curse against women.
Wanda Rutkiewicz, a Polish climber, was the first woman to reach K2’s summit in 1986.
All the five women that attempted to climb it again since that year died. It wasn’t until 2004 when Spanish mountaineer Edurne Pasaban successfully reached the summit.
4. Nanga Parbat
This mountain is popularly known as the Man Eater and has a height of 26,657 ft. Nanga Parbat is located in Pakistan. It features an enormous ridge of ice and rock. It’s the ninth highest mountain in the world and has the tallest mountain face.
It was popular with the German climbers because K2 was difficult to climb and only the Britons had access to Everest. Several deaths occurred on this mountain before the first successful attempt in 1953.
By 1953, Nanga Parbat had already claimed the lives of 31 climbers.
Positioned on the border of India and Nepal, Kangchenjunga has a height of 28,169 ft. It’s a beautiful mountain, but looks can be deceiving. Extreme cold levels and avalanches have made Kangchenjunga one of the most dangerous mountains.
The first attempt was in 1853, but the climbers descended after determining the summit was unsafe. Over the years, this mountain has claimed the lives of 53 climbers.
Dangerous Mountains – The Bottom Line
To pull a mountain climbing expedition, it’s important to prepare for it adequately to minimize the possibility of accidents.
Experienced climbers understand that there are risks. However, when the conditions are favorable and safety measures are taken, hitting the summit is the only task at hand.
These cases should not scare you. There are different easy mountains, such as Mount Fuji, Pikes Peak, Mount Hood, and Island Peak, you can try if you are new to mountain climbing.
Remember, stay safe and don’t climb alone! If you’re looking for someone to join you on your next climb, you can post an invite on iSocialCircle to meet people who share your love for climbing!
Thinking of working abroad?
Thinking of working abroad?…Why not Teach English as a Foreign Language?
iSocial Circle has partnered with International TEFL Academy, one of the world’s largest TEFL certification schools to become professionally trained as an English teacher. ITA trains more than 5,000 English teachers annually and offers internationally accredited TEFL-TESOL certification courses online and in 25 locations around the world. All students and graduates receive lifetime job search guidance and graduates are currently employed as teachers in more than 80 nations in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
For more information about TEFL certification and teaching English abroad, please visit their site to receive a free guide now: International TEFL Academy
How do I choose the right TEFL course?
Deciding to do a TEFL course and change the rest of your life might seem like a big decision, but what is actually a bigger decision is choosing the right TEFL course. If you take even a quick glimpse online, you will realise how many TEFL courses there are to choose from. On the surface, they might all look very similar but if you do your due diligence you will soon discover which TEFL course is worth your hard-earned money.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a TEFL course.
How long is the course?
TEFL courses range in duration from 20-hour weekend courses to 320-hour marathons. The thing is, with TEFL the magic number is 120. Your TEFL course should be at least 120 hours. A course that is a million hours more than that is not necessarily going to give any advantage over a 120-hour course, but a course that is only 50 hours is almost certainly not going to give you what you need in a TEFL course.
The TEFL Academy’s course involves 148 hours of online self-study and 20 hours in the classroom, which is a good blend of online versus practical hours. You can rest assured you will be able to complete the course as you have all the support you need from tutors and six months’ access to the online course. Plus, you can be sure that with this certificate employers will recognise you have put in enough hours to tackle the theoretical aspects of teaching but have also had practical experience in the classroom.
What does the course include?
Even though all TEFL courses result in you having a TEFL certificate, they are not all created equal. A very important consideration to factor into your decision in choosing a TEFL course is what exactly the course is offering. There are the basic aspects of TEFL teaching, such as lesson planning, grammar instruction and teaching methodologies, but you also want to look for a course that offers more than just the basics.
The TEFL Academy course covers everything you will need to know about teaching English as a Foreign Language, as well as useful extras like how to use resources effectively, classroom management strategies and, best of all, teaching English as a Foreign Language to Young Learners (which you usually must pay extra for).
What qualification do I get?
At the end of the day, what you should be worried about is how prepared the course is going to make you for teaching English as a Foreign Language and how employable you are going to be. Making sure the TEFL course includes all the topics you need to know will make sure you know what you need to know, but you will need to look at the quality of the qualification to tell if employers are going to welcome you with open arms.
The TEFL Academy course is a Level 5 certificate and it is regulated by Ofqual (UK government). Essentially, this qualification has been recognised as the same level as the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL, which no other TEFL course can boast.
Join expert advisors for an interactive presentation about all aspects of teaching abroad, including job markets, TEFL classes, job placement assistance & more.
Sign up for a free webcast about TEFL & Teaching English Abroad HERE
iSocialCircle also have partnered with The TEFL Academy. Join a global community of over 30,000 TEFL teachers working throughout the world! Check out the latest vacancies here!
3 Interesting Hobbies for Adults
Find Your Passion
Are you feeling stifled by your repetitive daily routine? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, as much as ninety percent of American adults feel bored at some point during their everyday hustle.
But it may be easier to spice up your life than you think! Finding interesting hobbies that excite and inspire you is a great way to give your life new meaning and motivation.
Curious to know more? Keep reading to learn all about how to discover stimulating and inexpensive hobbies for adults. Let’s get started!
How to Find Interesting Hobbies
Everyone finds different activities interesting. So, how can you find good hobbies for you?
The best way is to try different things. Ask around about classes and events going on in your local community. Sample all of them and see what suits you the best.
Check out our Social Invites page for the latest invites to attend new hobbies also!
Want some more specific ideas? Here are three fun, interesting hobbies that can bring passion and enjoyment to your life every day.
1. Love food?
If you love learning about food (and eating it), why not make cooking or baking into a hobby? After all, preparing food is a great way to relax, unwind, and get creative.
If you’re lost at first, take a cooking class to get started. From there, allow your unique tastes and inspirations to guide you. Before you know it, you’ll be impressing friends and family with your new hobby!
2. What was your childhood hobby?
Do you ever wonder why you gave up the fun hobbies you had as a kid? Well, it’s time to reclaim your child-like sense of wonder. Think back to your favorite childhood activities for inspiration.
Whether you played a musical instrument, painted, played with live steamers, or climbed trees, let these past passions inspire you as an adult. Pick up where you left off, or try an adult version of your childhood hobby, like an indoor rock climbing wall.
3. Exercise as a Hobby
If you’re interested in focusing on cheap hobbies, this one is for you. After all, exercising is completely free!
Not only is it free, but it’s also extremely beneficial to your health. It can boost your mood, lower your body weight, and even help you sleep better.
You can make exercise a hobby by making it fun in whatever way works best for you. Grab a friend and go jogging in your local park, ride bikes, or go for a hike. Just make sure that you create a solid place in your schedule for your new healthy hobby.
Fun and adventure!
Enjoy your brand new interesting hobbies and the sense of adventure and inspiration that comes with them. No matter what you enjoy, the most important part is that you’re making time in your schedule for activities that are meaningful to you.
If you’re not sure where to start, try some fun local classes, or look back to your childhood to recall what inspires you the most. Or, for a healthy twist, grab a friend and make exercise a hobby with an exhilarating outdoor activity or two.
Don’t forget, you could find new friends with iSocialCircle to do your new hobbies with!
Meeting people in your 30’s
Meeting people is hard! It’s so much harder waving the single flag when you’re in your 30’s. Most of your friends are in long term relationships, getting married, having babies, so your social life starts going down the pan.
Of course you can try dating sites to try find someone special too, but what if you don’t want to look for love? What if you just want to make friends, live live to the full, see everything the works has to offer?!
…Does this sound familiar?
Don’t know about you, but I want to travel the world! I want to have friends all around the world and see animals in their natural habitats. I want to taste local dishes to every country and hear about the culture in each place I visit. And when I’m not travelling I want to make the most of my weekends after working the 9-5.
After years of numerous pointless relationships and waiting for Mr right to suddenly appear, I decided to start traveling on my own and really start experiencing this thing call life! The past few years have genuinely been the best few years of my life travelling across Europe, North and South America, Australia, Asia, South Africa and most recently the Artic Circle!
Everywhere I go people ask “Are you on your own?”, to which I reply “Yes! I love to travel alone!”. Deep down I know the truth is that I love the freedom and flexibility solo travel brings but I do get lonely sometimes, especially on the evenings when I’m sitting in a restaurant or bar on my own. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a very confident independent woman, I will literally talk to anyone that will listen to me, but it would be nice to sometimes to be able to meet up with like minded people on my travels now and again to break up the trip.
Since a child I always loved animals, so it was a dream to do a safari in Africa, so after probably the hardest break up I’ve ever had I decided to book a volunteering trip to South Africa to work on a Game Reserve rescuing wild and almost extinct animals. I hoped I would meet people easier this way than booking a trip on my own. It was incredible seeing the lions and elephants in particular in their natural habitat whilst being protected from hunters. This was the first time I experienced staying in a hostel type environment, sleeping in bunk beds with complete strangers. The girls I met there were so lovely and we all still talk now, but I must admit as the only 30 year old at the time and most of the people at the reserve being on average 18-22 I did feel a little old and out of place sometimes!
A year later I decided to for-fill my ambition to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, despite not being a confidant swimmer! So I joined a scuba school in my home town in the UK, in hope I could overcome my fear of water and maybe make some friends whilst doing it. I met some really motivating people at the scuba school which gave me a lot of confidence in booking my trip to Queensland Australia.
I decided to have a cheeky stop over in Phuket on my way to Australia, which I highly recommend if you love Thai food and to haggle in the shops like me!
At Phuket airport travelling to Australia I met a lovely British girl who was flying from Phuket to Australia to work out there. She approached me to use my phone charger as hers had died. We got chatting and she told me how she frequently used dating sites to meet people but often the guys would be expecting more than friendship and she had no interest in getting tied down so young. I won’t blame her! I wish didn’t spend most of my 20’s tied down in pointless relationships! It did concern me though about her safety if she’s meeting guys on her own and she’s the other side of the world, especially if she doesn’t have a reliable charger pack for her phone!
I got back home from my travels and came up with the idea of a social networking website you could use to make friends, JUST FRIENDS, to meet up with whether it be on your solo travels or even at home when you’re stuck at home on a Saturday night and your friends are all with their partners. As the site has evolved I’ve added features that means couples, families, groups can can post and attend invites too so any adult can use it. I hope it helps you live life to the full, you’ll often see me post invites on there too, so feel free to join me on my adventures if you wish!
Founder of <a href=”http://www.isocialcircle.com”>iSocialCircle</a>
Best Family Beach Vacations
Best Family Beach Vacations
The best beaches can be found along the Atlantic and Pacific Coast. Here are a few ideas you may wish to consider for your next family beach vacation.
From Ft. Lauderdale to Miami Beach, Florida is a prime resort area for family vacations. With perfect weather and miles and miles of beaches, this area is affordable, diverse, and has a wide variety of water-sports, restaurants, and a myriad of activities for children. Cocoa Beach is only an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center and Disney World. In addition, Disneyís Vero Beach Resort is considered one of the best in Florida.
Among the many favourite activities for children include: Ripleyís Aquarium, Le Grande Cirque, a show quite famous for its acrobatics and other circus performers; and Myrtle Waves Water Park. For older children, a definite must-see is the NASCAR Speedpark.
With a myriad of dining options, shopping, and other historic sites; Myrtle Beach has been named the number one choice for beach family vacations in the U.S.
One of the most affordable vacations for beach-loving families is East Hampton, New York. The best place to stay is at the East Hampton House. The rooms are available in one and two bedroom units that contain fully-equipped kitchens and/or kitchenettes. Moreover, you have guest privileges at the nearby beach.
Although this vacation spot does not offer food, it does have an indoor gym and offers morning coffee there as well. But, across the street is a deli that has an array of items on their breakfast menu and is very affordable. In addition, there is a Chinese restaurant across the street as well as a take-out barbeque, and deli.
The grounds are impeccable and there is a very large pool (one for the kiddies, too) where you can lounge in the sun. A tennis court is also on the premises. Every room has its own balcony with lounge chairs and a table.
If you live in the New York area, it is a 90-minute trip by car. The East Hampton Inn is centrally located ñ five minutes from town, restaurants, shopping, and a movie house. You can even take a short trip to Montauk and visit the historic lighthouse or spend time at the beach there.
Of course, nothing can compare to the beaches that are in Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. No matter what island you choose, Hawaii has the most pristine beaches anywhere in the U.S. Moreover, there are black-sand beaches on the island of Maui as well as a myriad of activities for the entire family.
Shifting to the west Coast, your family might enjoy a stay at the Beach Cottages. This site offers numerous amenities such as water sports, biking, as well as an amusement park. For the kids, San Diego Zoo and Sea World are not far from the Beach Cottages.
Centrally located to restaurants and shopping, Beach Cottages is an affordable vacation spot where the family can enjoy the sun, the surf, and other amenities available. In fact, you can book a studio that offers a fully equipped kitchen.
Located on Santa Monica Bay, this report haven is perfect for family beach vacations. Here you can enjoy water sports, fishing bicycling, kayaking, as well as fine restaurants shops located not far from the Santa Monica Pier. There are many hotels that are situated across the street from the beach or within walking distance. Each has its own set of amenities that are geared towards families.
Don’t forget, you can find other families to hang out with on your beach vacation using iSocialCircle.com! 🙂
Family Camping Fun!
Family Camping Fun
While getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the reasons families choose to go camping, for kids is the ultimate adventure. If you are planning a family camping trip this summer, here are some tips that will ensure your vacation is both a safe and fun experience.
1. Pre-camping preparation. If you have small children, you may want to select a tent that will accommodate all if you comfortably. On the other hand, if you are camping with older children, it may be a good idea to purchase additional pup tents to give them some sense of independence.
Another great tip is to practice assembling the tents in your backyard so as to avoid wasting time at the camp site.
2. Selecting a campsite. Depending upon whether you decide to rough it or choose a campsite that is close to amenities, you can research the many campsites online that offer comprehensive information on the area. This will enable you to decide not only what equipment, clothing, and food you need to take, but the available hiking areas and points of interest as well.
Ensure that the campsite you select is an official campsite area. Moreover, when researching camping sites it is a good idea to look for those areas that are on the high ground. Thus, if it rains, your tent and equipment will not become water logged.
3. Make a checklist. This is very important to ensure you do not forget anything on your camping trip. Among the items on your checklist, some of the more important items you will need are:
* Cooking gear such as a frying pan, a few pots, a bucket, barbecue grill or stove, bags with a Ziploc, and cooking utensils. In addition, food containers and canned goods are best. It is also recommended that you prepare meals at home and package them in containers for the trip. Also bring water, a can opener, hot water kettle and coffee pot, and a cooler with a block of ice.
* Packing the appropriate clothing is also essential. Depending upon the location, wearing light layers is a good idea as well as packing some sweaters and jackets for the evening hours. Extra socks, hats, and gloves may also be warranted. If you intend to engage in some hiking, proper hiking boots are necessary.
* Sleeping bags, first aid kit, flashlights, cell phone, garbage bags, toiletries, sunscreen, ointments, a map of the area, insect repellent, games for the kids, and rainwear.
For a complete checklist on what to bring on a camping trip, there are many camping websites that offer a myriad of suggestions.
4. When you reach the camp site, choose an area to set up the tents. Ensure there are no rocks or debris where the tent will be set up. Most campgrounds will post warning signs or instructions regarding specific animals and vegetation.
5. When preparing a campfire, if appropriate, ensure that it is set up further away from the tents. After you have roasted the marshmallows, sang songs, and told ghost stories; douse the fire before going to bed.
Finally, enjoy the entire camping experience. Sleeping under the stars, communing with nature, and relishing the time spent with family will not only bring a family closer together, but the memories of this experience will last forever.
Top 5 Kid Friendly US Destinations
Top 5 Kid Friendly US Destinations
Although there are a multitude of destinations considered kid-friendly, here are the top 5 you may want to consider on your next family vacation.
1. Disney World.
This ultimate family vacation has been the source of great joy for adults and kids alike. Whether you stay several miles from the theme park or enjoy the onsite amenities, this vacation affords you an endless array of activities designed for the entire family. From Epcot Centre to Sea World; from Disney Village to Universal Studios; Water parks to Wildlife parks; no time is wasted at this world-famous resort.
Moreover, many online travel sites are offering special packages to Disney World as well as Southwest Airlines and others. In addition, you can save quite a bit of money by selecting hotels that offer free stays for children, as well as free meals for the little ones. This is one destination where you can easily book a trip based on your budget and stick to it.
Don’t forget iSocialCircle has teamed up with the Best of Orlando for your Orlando theme park tickets and holiday homes!
2. Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
From Alaska to Wyoming, there are a multitude of dude ranches perfect for a family vacation. But, one of the most notable is the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, approximately 20 miles from Rock Mountain National Park. Here, your family can engage in an array of activities including: horseback riding, hayrides, nature walks, and a host of amenities provided by the ranch.
This dude ranch is perfect for families who love the outdoors as well as enjoy visiting such historic sites as Fort Collins, Old West Museums, and Cheyenne (where you can buy tickets to the world’s largest rodeo held from July 17 to the 26th).
While Oahu has always been a popular destination, it is Maui that attracts family vacationers more than any of its islands. The reason is that it offers a wide variety of activities such as whale watching (seasonal); Lahaina, a famous whaling village; and Maui Ocean Centre, home to the largest aquarium in Hawaii.
Your family can also take a ride on the Sugar Cane Train, circa 1890; visit Oheo Gulch to marvel at the spectacular waterfalls; spend a day at Iao Valley and view the Iao Needle; or visit the black-sand beaches at Waianapanapa in East Maui.
For fabulous weather, magnificent sunsets, and beautiful beaches; Maui is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy spending quality family time.
4. New York
Probably the most exciting vacation spot for families is New York. The Big Apple has something for everyone; from Broadway to Rockefeller Centre, you will never run out of things to do here. Among the many sites to visit is Radio City Music Hall where you can take in a show; Madison Square Garden; the Empire State Building; the Village; 42nd Street, the Theatre District; museums; shopping, fabulous cuisine; the list is endless.
Spend a day walking along Fifth Avenue and stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; take a tour of NBC Studios; spend an afternoon in Central Park and visit the zoo there; go to the South Street Seaport or take in a matinee performance on a Wednesday afternoon.
Whether you stay uptown or downtown, you will always be in close proximity to the many historic sites and sounds that comprise Manhattan. Moreover, your kids will enjoy all this city has to offer.
Don’t forget, iSocialCircle has teamed up with New York Water Tours if you would like to visit the Statue of Liberty!
5. Las Vegas
The city that never sleeps offers a wide range of attractions for kids. This is why it is among the top family destinations in the US today. Moreover, it is an affordable vacation because the hotel packages and meals will fit any budget.
Among the many attractions offered for families include: M&M’s World, the Lion Habitat at MGM, Adventure Canyon, Game Works (a video game-playing wonderland), Sports Park, Circus Circus rides; Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage hotel; Shark Reef; New York, New York’s roller coaster; Madame Tussaud’s; Lake Mead; Children’s Museum (the largest of its kind); and Adventuresdome, the largest theme park in the U.S.
Many of these attractions are free and are well worth visiting. Don’t forget the Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo hotel or the spectacular water fountain show across the way at Caesars Palace.
For great fun and awesome rides and venues, Las Vegas is a wonderful choice for your next family vacation.
Quality Family Time Crafting
Crafting = Quality Family Time
Some parents are skilled crafters. Others are doing well to cut paper in a reasonably straight line. No matter which group you fall into, crafting with your kids can be beneficial for all involved.
Few things bring families together like crafting. Here are some of the good things that come out of crafting with your kids.
* Crafting builds creativity. Developing minds need a creative outlet, and crafting provides the opportunity for kids to use their imaginations. It helps them learn to solve problems, and it could lay the groundwork for a lifetime of interest in art. For parents, getting creative can help reduce stress and promote using the brain in ways that we don’t have a reason to use it every day.
* Crafting teaches kids to follow directions. This seems like a very basic skill, but we all know adults who can’t seem to follow directions. When kids craft, they learn the consequences of not following directions when their projects do not turn out as expected. This instils in them the importance of doing things the right way the first time.
* For young children, crafting is fabulous for learning basic skills. Almost any type of craft promotes hand-eye coordination. Kids can also learn to use scissors, measure and do lots of other things they will eventually do in everyday life.
* Parents and children have a chance to talk. In our busy lives, it seems that we know less about our kids than previous generations of parents did. Passive activities such as watching TV do little to encourage conversation. But when you’re crafting together, talking comes naturally. You can seize the opportunity to discuss such things as your child’s interests, his concerns, and how he’s doing in school.
* Crafting is a great way to wind down. It’s wonderful for kids to be active, but there are times when they need to calm down. If you find your child getting agitated or exhibiting an overabundance of energy near bedtime, try bringing out the craft supplies. Crafting engages kids’ minds, giving them something to focus on and a good reason to sit still for a while.
* Creating things is a confidence booster. Parents who craft regularly know the feeling of accomplishment when a project is complete. Multiply this feeling by ten, and you have a pretty good idea of how your child feels when he makes something. For kids, crafting can help build positive self-esteem.
* Working on a project together is a great way to teach your kids teamwork. This will help them develop skills needed to resolve disputes peacefully and effectively. It will also help them discover their strengths and teach them that doing their best will make the entire project turn out better.
* Crafting creates treasured family memories. The finished product will serve as a reminder of the fun you had making it together.
Crafting as a family provides opportunities for us to interact with our children. It is also a valuable learning experience for them. Don’t worry if you aren’t the world’s greatest crafter. Simply being willing to try anyway is a lesson to your kids in itself.
Why not post a family crafting invite on iSocialCircle and craft with another family?!
Time for a Family Road Trip!
Time for a Family Road Trip!
Deciding on a family road trip can be a daunting challenge, not to mention an exercise in patience. However if you prepare ahead of time, the trip can be one of the most memorable experiences of your families life.
Here are some quick and easy tips for making your family road trip a fun and safe one.
First, prepare a checklist of items you will need. This will include first aid kit, food, snacks, drinks, and lots of toys, colouring books, paper and crayons, a portable DVD player so your kids can watch their favourite movies; and a cooler. A good idea is to ask the kids what games they would like to take, within limits of course.
Ensure that the snacks are healthy in nature. Too many sugar snacks can have the kids bouncing off the car seats. Remember, this is a relaxing family vacation and you want to avoid the kids getting bored or repeatedly asking you when you are going to arrive.
Check online to print out games for the road that you and the kids can play along the way. There are an assortment of puzzles and riddles as well.
In addition, if you have very young children you will need to take the diaper bag and wipes for the occasional spills, blankets and pillows if applicable and a favourite item or stuffed animal for the young ones is a good idea as well.
Second, decide on the destination and then contact AAA for a trip ticket. Ask for the scenic route, one that is much more calming and pleasing to the eye, especially the driver!
Third, as you check out the planned route you may want to check online to find gas stations along the way that offer the cheapest gas. Also if there are any points of interest along the route mark them on the map and plan to stop at these sites.
Fourth, while on the road ensure that you make pit stops regularly. This will allow the kids to run around and let off some steam, while allowing the adults to stretch and re-energise. Bring along a football or soccer ball so that the entire family can have some fun while exercising at the same time.
Finally, it is very important that safety concerns are met. This includes having the car checked at your local mechanic or gas station. Ensure that the oil and filter are changed; the tires are well inflated (don’t forget the spare tire, too); the windshield wipers are replaced (if needed); and the car is in great condition before you head out.
In addition, you may want to place the following items in your trunk: a lawn chair, extra blanket, emergency road kit, umbrellas, water, flashlight and batteries, a battery-powered radio, and windshield wiper cleaner. In the glove compartment include a first aid kit and cell phone charger. Keep all medications in a Ziploc bag in the glove compartment as well.
Another good idea is to take a list of telephone numbers including the hotel or motel where you are staying as well as those of family and friends you may need to contact.
If you enjoy scrapbooking, this road trip may be a perfect opportunity to add new treasures to the book. As you make stops at some scenic sites, ask the kids to find an item they would like to include in the scrapbook. Or if the kids point out something along the way that they find fascinating, take a picture of it to include in the scrapbook as well.
Engage the kids in the decision making, age appropriate, and allow them to decide what they would like to bring. Have them pack their clothes (check the suitcases afterwards) so they feel part of the overall experience. Planning ahead of time for a family road trip will save you time, stress, and money. And the kids will enjoy this adventure, too!
Tips to live life freely!
Bask in your imperfections and live freely!
Whats wrong with being yourself? Nothing is wrong with it as long as you conform to what everyone else wants from you. This is not being yourself but a hollow version of someone else’s vision of you. Break free and learn to accept yourself as you are.
Acceptance is not Surrender
Have you read Moby Dick? Captain Ahab was so unhappy with himself that he pursued the white whale to kill it in hopes of killing everything that he hated about himself. That might be too deep of an interpretation but it leads to a valid point. When we accept who we are, it is believed that we are settling for less than we should. We have given up. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When you stop running and pursuing unattainable goals, you are forced to look at yourself. As long as you are in motion you can pretend that you are someone you are not. All of your energy is spent making people in your life believe a lie. It is thoroughly exhausting and leads to more dissatisfaction with you because you feel like a failure.
New life begins when you stop pursing and begin looking within for what you seek. Discover why you have been created. What does it mean to be ‘you’? Only time spent in reflection can answer that question.
4 Tips for accepting yourself as you are
You cant become someone else. They are already living that life. Choose the road that leads to who you were meant to be.
Being human is not easy – We are creatures who have made mistakes in the past on the way to discovery and will continue to do so. Mistakes keep us honest in our opinion of ourselves. No one can do it all or is expected to. When you go easy on yourself you can also have compassion for others.
Turn weakness into strength – What others may view as flaws can actually be what makes you so unique. Instead of trying to pretend you are put together when you are anything but, embrace your spontaneity and creative side. Any weakness can be turned into strength when you accept it as a part of you through love.
Choose a course – You may need to make a detour at some point or another but it takes courage to even take the first step of a life journey. You wont go anywhere if you continue to hide who you are because others may not accept your flaws. The truth is that your celebration of your flaws makes them feel insecure.
Laugh at yourself – The quickest way to diffuse embarrassment is to laugh at your mistake. It takes too much energy to be mad or ashamed. You are not the first to make that faux pas and you wont be the last. Accept it.
Imperfections make you human and happy…Accept yours and then shine! 🙂
Rainy Day Fun for All Ages
Rainy Day Craft Fun for All Ages
Rainy days can be a drag for children and adults alike. Despite the weather outside though, there is fun to be had inside as well. Rainy days are the perfect time to break out the arts and crafts that will drive away the rainy day dreariness. Crafts are perfect for all ages and ensures that nobody is left out.
Crafts for Small Children
Children age two and up can sit at the table with paper and crayons. While the younger children may not have a long attention span, coloring will help to keep a child entertained when it is not feasible to play outside. Cut out some shapes on paper and let the children decorate the shapes. For more fun, break out some glitter markers and some stickers. Foam is also a good option for younger children. Foam does not tear easily and is very versatile which makes it a good material for young children to craft with.
Crafts for school aged children
Children who are attending school are likely more adept at handling items such as scissors and glue. Popsicle sticks are a great item to have on hand for rainy days. Popsicle sticks can be used to build houses, picture frames and many other things. The possibilities are unlimited and your child’s creativity is the limit. Paints are also a good idea. Lay out some paint, brushes, paper and some water and paper towels for cleanup and let your kids paint the day away.
If the children are in middle or high school, they are adept at doing more than colouring or painting. Craft ideas for older children include painting on a canvas, scrapbooking and other paper crafts, as well as building crafts out of wood and other items. Cross stitching and fabric arts are good deterrents from the weather outside as they are time consuming.
Crafts for adults
There are many different crafts that adults can do. Jewellery making and scrapbooking are two of the most popular activities. Sewing, whether by hand or machine, is an activity that can take up a lot of time and therefore drive away the rainy day blues.
Crafting does not have to be and is not age oriented. There are many different craft types, with different levels of difficulty available for pre-school age children all the way through adulthood. Keeping craft supplies on hand will make a rainy day easier on everyone.
Why not meet other other crafters iSocialCircle.com by posting an invite today?!
Are You “That” Friend?
Learn to accept imperfections in others
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on from time to time. When things go wrong, who will listen to you? Often it’s not who will listen but who is worthy of the privilege to witness your vulnerability. No one is perfect, but not everyone can handle seeing imperfection in others. Could you possibly be the type of friend who has a problem with that?
Are you willing to listen?
There are all types of people in the world and you may know many of them. When it comes to sharing your imperfection with others, it is wise to show discernment. Sharing with the wrong person can be detrimental for you as well as them. It is hard to be vulnerable. Choosing unwisely can make you shy about sharing again. It can also lead to a broken relationship.
The truth is that everyone is not ready to handle all situations. A person who has not yet embraced their imperfect side wont rise to the occasion to celebrate yours. We have all been that friend who has been less than tolerant. Recognise when you are acting in this way. Let your friend know that maybe you aren’t the one to confide in at this time. Then, grow beyond where you are and learn to be more tolerant.
6 Types of Friends that could be you
…Don’t fret. You can change!
Gasping friend – They feel that you aren’t sorry enough for your faux pas. It is their duty to act mortified on your behalf. If this is you, then all sympathy for your friend, the sharer, has gone out the window because of your shock.
Sympathetic friend – In reality you are feeling sorry for the sharer. You pat them on the back and shake your head. In reality you are saying that you are glad that you aren’t in that position. It is quite a patronising position that the vulnerable sharer doesn’t need right now.
Worshipping friend – This is the friend who thought that you could do no wrong. The sun and the moon rise and fall on you. When you profess vulnerability by sharing a mistake, they can feel nothing but let down. The sharer feels bad that they burdened you.
Uncomfortable friend – This friend doesn’t like to admit that they could be vulnerable too. In an effort not to face their own faults, they don’t know how to deal with listening to yours. They need someone to blame. If this is you, the blame will likely be placed on the sharer or someone else so that you feel better.
Rosy friend – You wear those rosy glasses and pretend that the situation was not as bad as the sharer is making it out to be. If this is you, the goal is to make the sharer feel better no matter what.
Competitive friend – You don’t want to listen to your friend. If this is you, their tale of woe is an opportunity for you to show that you can share a better story of vulnerability than they can. You wont be outdone.
Being imperfect requires friends who are willing to go the extra mile with you. Is that you?
Meeting people after a divorce
Meeting people after a divorce
It’s hard walking away from a marriage with someone you once loved enough to marry. And its hard admitting to friends, family, colleagues is hasn’t worked out and has resulted on divorce.
So what now?…
You’re free to start over again! Yay!
However this can be extremely daunting too. What do you do with your free time? Where to go? Who to hang out with now the friendship circle you was once in has now split? After a divorce do you really want to be dating again just so you fill your time and meet people? Hell no!
All those things you couldn’t do in your marriage you are free to do now! Go live your life! Talk to whoever you want! Go wherever you want!
Don’t want to do it alone? That’s where iSocialCircle can help. Post an invite saying where you want to go and let someone join you!
You are not alone, loads of people get divorced every year so lots of people in your boat looking to live life to the full!
“And what if you have children from that marriage”, I hear you say, you can join as a family instead of joining as an individual and you can meet with other families if you prefer. Kids being around other kids is great for improving their social skills, and seeing their parent happy having fun with others can only be a positive thing right?
Meeting people after a big break up
Meeting people after a big break up
It’s hard walking away from someone you once loved and saw a future with. And its hard admitting to friends, family, colleagues is hasn’t worked out and you’re back waving the single flag.
So what now?…
Turn that frown upside down, you’re free to start over again!
After coming out of long term relationships I understand this is a bit daunting. What do you do with your free time? Where to go? Who to hang out with now the friendship circle you was once in has now split? After a break up do you really want to be dating again just so you fill your time and meet people? Hell no!
All those things you couldn’t do in your last relationship you are free to do now! Go live your life! Talk to whoever you want! Go wherever you want!
Don’t want to do it alone? That’s where iSocialCircle can help. Post an invite saying where you want to go and let someone join you!
You are not alone, loads of people break up every day, why do you think online dating is so popular now? Lots of people in your boat looking to live life to the full waving that single flag.
“And what if you have children from that relationship”, I hear you say, you can join as a family instead of joining as an individual and you can meet with other families if you prefer. Kids being around other kids is great for improving their social skills, and seeing their parent happy having fun with others can only be a positive thing right?
The beauty about being able to post your own social invite is you can chose where you go so you can think about what budget and location suits you. No need to be held back anymore!
Post your own Social invite today on iSocialCircle!
20 Awesome Things to Do in Vietnam!
Wonderfully diverse, impossibly beautiful and home to incredible food, Vietnam is a destination full of surprises. From trekking in the mountains to visiting ancient temples; exploring abandoned water parks to motorbiking ocean roads, Vietnam has everything, everywhere, all at once. I spent one pretty action packed month in Vietnam back in January, and want to share with you some of my favourite Vietnamese experiences. So, without further ado, here are 20 awesome things to do in Vietnam:
1. Cruise Halong Bay in a Junk Boat
Halong Bay is quite simply a sensational place. Glistening emerald waters and towering limestone karst islands, the bay seemingly goes on forever. I thought it would be jam-packed full of boats due to its high tourist numbers, but due to the immense size of the bay, it was very easy to find yourself completely alone here. Most of the tour companies offering cruises of Halong Bay do so in a junk boat, which is an ancient Chinese style sailing ship.
2. Visit a Minority Village
There are many ethnic minority villages scattered around Vietnam, particularly in the north in places such as Sa Pa and Mai Chau. Often, you can opt to do home-stays in these villages, whereby you spend a night or two living with a Vietnamese family. I really recommend you do this. It’s a great way to learn about the local culture; how they live, how they cook their food and the history of their village.
3. Kayak in Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park is an absolutely stunning area of Halong Bay, where you’ll find many caves through which you can kayak.
4. Party at Hanoi Backpacker’s Hostel
Renowned as probably the most mental party hostel in all of Southeast Asia, Hanoi Backpacker’s Hostel is the place to be if you love to drink, party and drink some more. It feels more like a nightclub than a hostel, and is definitely not the place to stay if you need your beauty sleep. It makes for a crazy night out; I walked in by myself and within 10 seconds was already dragged over to play ring of fire with a group of Aussies.
5. Go Trekking in Sa Pa
Situated in Northern Vietnam are the astoundingly picturesque Hoang Lien Son mountains. And within these mountains sits a little town called Sa Pa, which acts as a base for those wanting to trek in the mountains. This area is famed for its gorgeous rice terraces and fascinating hill tribes, and I urge you to go on a multi day trek to explore the beauty of these mountains.
6. Attend a Vietnamese Cooking Class
Anyone who knows me will know I am a terrible cook. Not only am I terrible at cooking, I also hate it. However, a cooking class is a whole other ball game, and is a lot of fun! Myself and two Canadian girls I’d been travelling with decided to sign up for a cooking class in Hanoi, and were taken to the local market to purchase the food before going back to a Vietnamese lady’s home. She was a wonderful lady who showed us how to cook spring rolls, noodles and other Vietnamese food. It was a great morning and we got to eat everything afterwards!
7. Watch a Water Puppet Show in Hanoi
Many people had told me I simply must go to see the water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre by the lake in Hanoi. Water puppet shows are an ancient Vietnamese tradition dating back to the 11th century, where stories are told through music and the use of puppets as characters. Make sure you book tickets at least a day in advance as the show usually sells out.
8. Go for a Boat Ride in Tam Coc
Tam Coc is a beautiful area in north Vietnam where the Ngo Dong river flows. From here, you can opt for a boat ride down the river, passing by striking mountains and rowing through pitch black caves. Vietnamese ladies wait with their boats at the pier, and row you down the river at a peaceful, relaxing pace. Many have said that Tam Coc is like Halong Bay, but on land, and I have to agree. It was very dark and misty when I was there, and this added an enticing, mysterious atmosphere to the mountains.
9. Explore the Abandoned Water Park outside of Hue
Abandoned since 2004, this ominous, mysterious water park is for the adventurous. It contains rusting water slides, an algae infested lazy river, and, taking centre stage, a huge metal dragon who sits in the middle of the lake.
10. Explore Hue’s Imperial City
This historical complex is jam packed full of beautiful architecture and temples. Spend a few hours exploring this stunning citadel.
11. Motorbike the Hai Van Pass
Made famous by Top Gear, the Hai Van Pass is a picturesque ocean road in central Vietnam. Many tourists use the Hai Van Pass to travel from Hoi An to Hue by motorbike. I really recommend you do this – it was probably the highlight of my time in Vietnam. If you don’t feel confident driving a motorbike, you can hire an Easy Rider, who will drive the bike for you.
12. Hike up The Marble Mountains in Da Nang
The Marble Mountains are a group of 5 hills situated in the city of Da Nang. The hills contain caves, temples and Buddhist sanctuaries, and are really beautiful to explore. The 5 mountains supposedly represent the 5 elements of water, fire, earth, wood and gold.
13. Explore the My Son Temples
The My Son temples are situated an hour or so out of Hoi An, and are a cluster of ruined Hindu temples built somewhere between the 4th and 14th centuries. The temples were constructed to worship the Hindu God Shiva. The site also contains craters from bombings during the Vietnam war, which were interesting to see. This complex can get very busy so try to get there early in the morning.
14. See the Lanterns in Hoi An
Ah, Hoi An. This gorgeous little town is so worth the visit. The streets are lined with lanterns, cute little cafes, markets and boats. I really recommend you visit Hoi An’s Ancient Town at night, so you can see all the lanterns lit up – it really is a beautiful sight.
15. Explore Waterfalls in Da Lat
I really loved the city of Da Lat. There was so much to see within the city itself and in the countryside around it, but the waterfalls in particular were really great! The one below is called Elephant Waterfall.
16. Go for a Boat Ride along The Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is a vast maze of rivers spawning across Southern Vietnam. Here you’ll find islands, floating markets and villages surrounded by rice fields. You can take a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the Delta, or opt for multi day excursions – my time in Vietnam was running out due to my visa expiring, so I went for a day trip. We were gently rowed by a man in a conical woven hat through the quiet waterways of the Delta, and it truly felt like Vietnam in a nutshell.
17. Visit the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh
The Vietnam war lasted from 1955-1975, resulting in over 850,000 deaths and 604,000 wounded. The War Remnants Museum gives a complete history of the war, including machinery, weapons and photographs, as well as an exhibition on Agent Orange and the effects it has on Vietnam still to this day. It’s a very harrowing visit, but one that I think is important.
18. Visit a Coffee Plantation
Vietnam makes some great coffee. During my time in Da Lat, I headed out to the countryside to check out a coffee plantation called Me Linh Coffee Garden. There are quite a few plantations around Vietnam, but this one had an open seating area offering a gorgeous view of the landscape below.
19. Hang out on the beach in Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc has some really pretty beaches. We visited one in particular called “Starfish Beach” where, if you wade into the sea up to about the middle of your thigh, you’ll see hundreds of little starfish sitting at the bottom of the water. Phu Quoc is very expensive compared to the rest of Vietnam, but its a great place to unwind for a few days.
20. Eat your body weight in Pho
Pho is everywhere in Vietnam. Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of noodles, spices and vegetables, and is absolutely wonderful. I must have eaten Pho at least once a day – you can pick it up at street vendors for as little as 60p in some places!
Are you planning a trip to Vietnam? If so, what are you hoping to see and do there?
Check out Lauren’s blog at https://www.laurenstraveldiary.com/things-to-do-in-vietnam/
Wine and Waterfalls
Wine and Waterfalls
The only interesting event of my mammoth twenty three hour bus journey from Rio to Foz de Iguazu was a tearful man getting on the bus, and performing what seemed like a dramatic interpretation. He was pretty upset about something and managed to siphon a few reals out of several passengers.
“They” say that it is well worth seeing the waterfalls from both sides, and similarly there is also a viewpoint where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay are all visibile. However I settled for just seeing the falls from the Argentina side, which like Canada for Niagara Falls, is the better option. The waterfalls are stunning and powerful, the recent rainy weather meant that August was a good time to go as the water crashed down plentifully. We were even treated to a rainbow which fitted in perfectly.
There isn’t too much else to do in tourist friendly Foz other than sample my first taste of salty steak that the Argentinians are rightly so proud of. Buenos Aires was my next destination via the much vaunted Argentinian bus network, which is clean, efficent, phenenomenal value and most importanly doesn’t really stop for any considerable period of time, even on long journeys.
The area around Buenos Aires main bus depot and surrounding metro stations isn’t the prettiest but certainly safe enough, and the metro is easy to use and good value. The reasonable price of transport is a common theme. Buenos Aires is a brilliant city. It’s bustling, modern, gritty and artistic. It boasts great variety, from the urban, artistic and working class neighbourhood of La Boca to the more upmarket Recoleta area and oozes with personality, pride, colour and passion. The street art in La Boca around La Bombonera (Boca Juniors home ground) is complimented by a smattering of art galleries that house numerous works, many paying homage to the area’s shipping yard roots.
I would advise walking as much as possible to gain a real feel for the personalityand power of the city. It can be intimidating in terms of size and volume of people, but take a few moments to breath it all in. There are definite similarities with European capitals such as Paris and London, but with a distinctly South American twist. Of the main sights, the Recoleta Cemetery is home to Eva Peron’s tomb, and countless others of noted luminaries. Similarly the Eva Peron Museum gives an informative, if somewhat biased, depending on who you speak to, view of the former first lady who was known for her human and civil rights activity in the 1940s before she died from cancer aged just 33.
Achitecturally “BA” stands up beside any major city. The historic Plaza de Mayo being it’s main attraction on this front and is a photograph friendly area. Align all these factors to it being one of the best cities to party in worldwide, and the friendliness of the people, and it makes for an essential part of any trip to Argentina.
While in BA there is also the possibility of popping over to Colonia del Sacremento in Uruguay for a day via an hour long boat trip. This quaint, sleepy picture postcard town, boasts a host of quirky museums around a main square that has a vibe of old school meditteranean charm. There are numerous cafés, bars and restaurants to laze around in and watch the sunset across the bay.
After not only the best steak I have ever had, but comfortably the best steak anyone could ever have, I would guess, I continued on the gringo trail to student dominated Cordoba.
Cordoba is a university Town, and has a young and cool population. This lends itself to being a vibrantly artisitc city and a nightlife hotspot. My first day here I visited the Memoria Museum which is dedicated to those that died, and were tortured during Argentina’s so called Dirty War that took place during the dictatorship that ran from 1976 – 1983. The displays are innovative, and the families of those who perished were heavily involved in putting them together. The dedicated folders to those who died, containing personal items such as report cards, were particularly poignant and powerful. I felt echoes of the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. Generally speaking this is a relaxed, art dominated city and there are several other varied art galleries worth checking out. However if you think Sarmiento Park will provide some relaxation and respite from the bustle of the city, think again, it’s not the prettiest and in dire need of watering and rejuvenation.
Mendoza is the next stop on the way to Chile on the gringo trail which was frankly getting a bit silly, as everyone seemed to be doing the same route. Mendoza is predominantly about the wine, there is a not a whole lot going in the town itself. However the wine itself is plentiful and of great value and quality. Hiring bikes and cycling around the vineyards while drinking is one option, another is just taking a couple of tours, another is just drinking quite a lot. Either way, it’s about the red wine, mainly Malbec. The Parque San Martin is a generously spacious and tranquil open space away from the noise and hubbub of the city and certainly well worth whiling away an afternoon by the lake or meandering through the woods.
And that was that for Argentina, and Uruguay. Aside from the dangerously dark haired beauty of the population, the sumptuous food and stunning urban graffiti, Argentina boasts colour, pride and fantastic variation for any traveller. Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time of year for Patagonia, which is best in the spring, but this is one place that I shall definitely be coming back to.
To read more from Matt check out his excellent blog http://www.travelandtalk.info/
Laos: Effortlessly Immense
Laos: Effortlessly Immense
Things to do in Laos.
Laos, despite the almost indifference of Laotians to tourism, is an outstanding country to visit. This is providing you can get past the time consuming journeys, 10 hours for 300km is the norm, and appalling road and transport system. I had my first taste of this even before I arrived via the bus from Sapa in Northern Vietnam to the crossing point in Dien Bien Phu. Apparently at no point during the construction of a night bus did someone think, “Hey, wouldn’t a toilet be an idea?” That said, there are so many stops to pick up and drop off anything from farming products to pig food, that opportunities are plentiful. Similarly the buses are not designed for tall people, to say the least, and they load far too many people on. But enough with the negativity.
My first stop was Luang Nam Tha in the north-west. This is a one horse town, if that, and to date the only place I went where I actually went into a seemingly open internet cafe to be told it was closed (being closed normally is an alien concept in south-east asia, in Laos not so much.). After being drenched on my bicycle ride as it was national holiday, or waterfight day, the only other thing to do is trekking.
My trek was certainly authentic. It was 35 degrees and unmercifully uphill, the only respite provided by the shade of the jungle. We arrived just after one pm at the remote mountain village, where they only spoke the local dialect rather than Laos, meaning even my guide couldn’t communicate with the locals, who took it turns to come into our hut and stare. The scenery was decent enough, a pleasant red sunset against rugged mountains and lush greeenery. Similarly the village was certainly untouched by anything approaching creature comforts, apart from solar panels that provided electricity. Chickens, pigs, dogs and cats ran amok. A pig even followed me when I went for my morning relief and digested the results.
Truth be told, I was pleased I did this trek, as it was undoubtedly an experience, but was equally glad when it was over.
The journey to Luang Prabang was even worse than the one described above, as the potholed roads, lack of airconditioning, average speed of 20kmph, a local child being sick, and a lack of leg room combined for the most uncomfortable ten hours of my life. All this said, Luang Prabang is serenely pleasant. The food is outstanding and there is a more than adequate choice of riverside bars on the beautiful peninsula. As a tip to those wishing to get off the beaten track a little here, I would suggest taking a boat to the other side of the Mekong and walking around the temples there, I went on a sunday morning and they were deserted, one even had pleasant Asian chillout music playing which made for a delightfully eerie atmosphere.
Vientiane, Laos’ capital, one could take or leave. In terms of child exploitation, this is more prevalent here so be warned on that front, if you end up in the “wrong” bar.
The best things to do here are the Buddha Park ( via local bus and tuk tuk via a dirt road), and the COPE centre. The latter houses a free museum (donation not obligatory but you will) whose exhibits provide harrowing insights into the history of cluster bombs in the country, and the inspiring work done in the field of prosthetics for victims of these, and also for those who have lost a limb in traffic accidents.
Konglor Caves is Laos’ top site, a jaw dropping and enormous series of caves in the central south of the country. They are accessed via motor powered canoes. These are incredibly spooky and awestriking and if they haven’t been already, must feature in a Star Wars film soon. At times, due to the reflection of the water on the side of the caves, the water seems invisible which gives the sensation of floating, almost flying. Simiarly the caves themselves are stunning, and the tour, while more challenging that I anticipated, is well put together. Getting there however, is not as easy as it should be. I would strongly recommend either staying up there or hiring motorbikes, as public transport links from Tha Khaek are appalling (although it is possible as a day trip, just about) and we found hiring local tuk tuks difficult and expensive.
My final stop in Laos was travellers’ mecca, 4000 Islands, namely Don Det and Don Khon. There is no traffic here on this paradisial part of the Mekong River, meaning all there is to do is sleep in hammocks, read, sunbathe, take pleasant bicycle rides, marvel at the waterfalls and relax at the numerous chill out bars. Tranquility personified.
How goal jars made my 2016 the BEST..
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Best luxury hotels in the Yucatan P..
- When we think about a vacation in the Riviera Maya and the entire Yucatan Peninsula our mind immediately imagines the big all inclusive hotels in Cancun. I reckon that some of them are really beautiful, well organised and with a huge offer of services. However they are not anywhere close to my concept of luxury.
Discovering Legacies – Quitti..
Discovering Legacies takes you along Jennifer’s adventures of quitting the 9-5 to travel the world.
How To Smash Your To-Do List
How to smash your to-do list.
Get those niggling creative tasks off your to-do list today so you can free up hours in your week. to get more done and smash your goals at the same time.
Best coffee shops in London: The be..
By Samantha James
It’s no secret that London is a diverse city, offering something for everyone: history, world-famous landmarks, museums, theatre and a thriving nightlife. And, of course, coffee. It’s enjoyed by millions every day, sourced from thousands of different blends, and not just for it’s taste – it serves the function of bringing friends together.
But while having a choice of cafe vibes, coffee roasts and locations in Greater London is great, sometimes when we have too many options we can’t make up our minds. Throw friends into the mix, and pinning down a quality coffee within equal distance to all the gals can be a bit of a nightmare. Luckily, we found some cosy spots across London – North, South, East and West – that are perfect for the ‘I’ll come to you this time!’ meet up with that small group of friends with the big appetite for coffee and chats. So here are a few of the best coffee shops in London.
North London – Doppio, Kentish Town
This coffee warehouse in Kentish High Street is run by four partners, each hailing from a different country but all experts in the brew. As soon as you step inside, this place screams all things coffee; part showroom, part espresso bar, it aims to bring coffee lovers, consumers, retailers and wholesalers together in one marvellously aromatic venue. A loyal wholesaler, Doppio trades with several local supplies including the Duke of London, a London artisan roaster who created a special blend using beans from Brazil, Guatemala and El Salvador.
For a lazy afternoon with the girls, this hybrid space is perfect for a relaxed chat, cheeky dessert and quality coffee or three. Customers are free to touch the equipment and accessories, and staff are very happy to talk about blends, techniques and beans. The whole atmosphere is of that of an expo, with people perusing the shelves and talking shop while groups of coffee drinkers relax on long, log-like communal benches.
Less than a ten-minute walk from the Kentish Town underground station, it’s open Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6pm and weekdays from 8am, and has additional branches in Shoreditch and Battersea.
West London – Bush Hall Dining Rooms, Shepherd’s Bush
While Shepherd’s Bush is mostly famous for its close proximity to more famous places – like the nearby Westfield shopping centre or Hammersmith Apollo – the area has a lot more to offer, including a range of middle eastern restaurants and some unexpectedly good (and cheap) cafes. Just up the road from Shepherd’s Bush Market station sits the mildly-famous live music venue Bush Hall, where its next door neighbour Bush Hall Dining Rooms is a quiet show-stealer.
From the outside it looks rather like tea rooms or a theatre bar, but head inside and it doesn’t quite feel so formal. Lined with signed posters of bands that played at the Bush Hall over the years – including the likes of Amy Winehouse, Adele, Alanis Morrisette and Kings of Leon, to name a few – it’s a modern diner serving quality comfort food and, of course, barista coffee. Its all-day brunch menu makes this an ideal hang for those lazy Saturday mornings when breakfast is at 1pm, and it won’t break your wallet either, with most meals around the £7 mark. Throw in the allure of a healthy smoothie, an excellent beef burger with choice of chips, or a hearty wererabbit stew, and you’ve got a venue that caters for even the fussiest of your hang group.
Open every day of the week except Monday from 9am to 10pm, and until 10.30pm on Fridays and weekends, customers with a Bush Hall gig ticket enjoy 15% of the bill.
East London – Notes Coffee Roasters and Wine Bar, Canary Wharf
The name says it all – this place is paradise for both coffee drinkers and wine lovers. While definitely for the coffee connoisseurs – the company’s own roastery sits just on the other side of the DLR tracks – it’s a friend to the wine drinkers amongst you, hosting a very wide selection of red and whites to choose from. Coffee lovers will find finely-tuned brewing techniques, expert knowledge and an ever-evolving range of coffee options, while wine drinkers can wash it down with meat and cheese boards come evening.
For always-peckish friends, Notes serves a range of homemade foods throughout the day, including pastries and granola for breakfast and a variety of salads, sandwiches, soups and tarts at lunchtime. After dark the charcuterie boards emerge, paired with seasonal plates served with carefully selected wine.
The Canary Wharf branch is open seven days, from 7am to 9pm Monday, 6pm Sunday and 10pm the rest of the week. Having recently launched in Kings Cross, this franchise is even likelier to be near you or one of your besties, having alternative locations in Bond St, Victoria, Bank, Moorgate and Trafalgar Square. That’ll be sure to keep the age-old argument between the coffee drinkers and the wine lovers at bay for a while at least.
South London – Pedler, Peckham Rye
Pedler is a sneak entry – it shouldn’t work for us coffee lovers, but it does. Half light-and-airy brunch spot, half dulcet-toned bar, it’s open for breakfast, brunch and lunch on Fridays and the weekends. The rest of the time it’s a dinner and drinks kinda place, welcoming young, hip customers til late with a mean Bloody Mary, distinctive wine list and impressive array of Little Bird Gin cocktails. With a soundtrack featuring The Cure and Radiohead and some Beach Boys thrown in to accentuate the chilled vibe, it sounds perfect for a girl’s hang, day or night, no?
Despite it’s alcoholic focus, Pedler’s sometime-baristas know how to do the brew – they serve Climpson & Sons coffee, sourced from the Hackney roasters who have been pioneering London’s evolving specialty coffee scene since 2002.
For a mouth-watering weekend menu to wash down that perfect blend, try the Pedler breakfast: eggs, little bird gin sausage, valley smokehouse bacon, house-made baked beans, black pudding and flat mushroom.
Proud to be in Peckham, Pedler was set up by a team that live in the south London neighbourhood and love it. A nine-minute walk from the Peckham Rye station, brunch sittings are for 1.5 hours, dinner for 2. Time to explore South, I think!
Samantha James is a writer, editor and sometimes-artist from Australia who currently lives in London. Her blog, Travel Quirks, is mostly about embarrassing stuff that has happened to her while travelling, but can be serious too – she writes about overcoming anxiety through travel. In her spare time she learns Krav Maga and salsa, tries to keep up with her book club reading, and contemplates writing short fiction.
How to find people to travel with: ..
So you’ve got a dream to pack a bag and hit the road. You eagerly explain your travel plans to anyone who’ll listen, but none of your friends are as excited as you are. You’re itching for an epic holiday but are struggling to find the perfect pal to go with you.
Whether it’s because your partner can’t get the time off work or your best friend doesn’t have the cash, there are occasions when you really want to explore but can’t find someone to go with you. I know that it can feel incredibly daunting to consider solo travel as I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling by myself over the last few years. The thought of travelling alone, especially for the first time, may certainly push you far outside your comfort zone.
Before you delete that travel inspiration Pinterest board of yours, let me share nine ways how to find people to travel with. Even if you’re faced with the prospect of travelling by yourself, here are my tried and tested tricks on how not to travel alone.
Find travel partners before you go
With today’s technology, there really is no excuse for being unable to find a travel companion before you jet off. Whereas a hundred years ago you may have written a newspaper advertisement seeking an intrepid adventurer to accompany you on a voyage into the unknown, these days you can gain much quicker results from hopping onto social media.
After you’ve checked in with your wider social network of friends and family, it’s time to seek out like minded travel enthusiasts in the online space.
Websites such as this one, iSocialCircle, are a perfect place to start to make connections with people who share a common interest in travel. Facebook communities, such as groups or pages, are also a brilliant place to introduce yourself, outline your travel plans and join forces with people who are also looking to travel.
It may feel a little icky reaching out to people online, which is why I wouldn’t suggest a scattergun approach. Not only will this keep you safe, but it means that you will focus your time on building relationships within the right groups of people.
An extra tip is to search for backpackers or travellers who are already in the destination you would like to visit. Try putting in city (or country) + backpackers into Facebook and see what groups pop up.
Book a group tour
One of the all-time simplest method to avoid travelling by yourself is to book onto a group tour. I know that organised tours can occasionally get a bad rep for being a little… like a cop out. Believe me, group tours are definitely not cheating if it makes the difference between exploring an awesome new country or sitting on the sofa at home in a sulk.
When I travelled alone in Laos I joined a group tour and had an absolute blast. I’ve also been on a tour along the West Coast of Australia and had the best time with a fantastic group of people. If booking a tour is all that stands in the way of you getting out there, then I would say do it. Yes, they can come in at a slightly more expensive option, but if you have the budget they will provide the bang for your buck. Guided tours are also a great way to see as much of an area if you only have a short time off work.
Book onto day trips
If the idea of arranging your travels around an entire tour is not really floating your boat, there is also the option to organise day or multi-day tours. These are a great way to meet people with similar interests to you as you are united by a common theme. For example, if you’re really into downhill mountain biking, you’ll be searching for ways you can incorporate your passion into your travels.
A day trip can also be stretched to several days in some cases. For instance; you may love your yoga practice at home and would like to try out a yoga retreat somewhere slightly more tropical than your home country. Even if you head off alone, taking part in a multi-day yoga camp during your holiday means that for the most part you will be with other people.
Take the time to research what you can do in the places you’d like to visit. You’ll be surprised at the variety of fun things you can do that mean you make friends quickly and easily.
Take part in voluntary activities
Getting involved with voluntary or charity work whilst abroad is a superb way of sidestepping the solo travel issue. Plus, it’s a fabulous way to visit another country and benefit from a hugely rewarding experience whilst giving back to the local community or wildlife.
Whether you fancy animal conservation or sustainable living projects, there are many organisations that arrange group trips to locations all over the world. Make sure you do your homework and only sign up to an organisation whose mission you feel confident in and that align with your goals.
Try out local activities
Have you ever heard of the old “traveller vs tourist debate”? Although I don’t agree with the stark delineation between the two camps, I do agree that connecting with the local community will bring huge benefits to you and your travels.
Although you may not appreciate it before you go, exploring another country will feel a lot more genuine if you take the time to immerse yourself in local culture. We’ve published a whole range of ideas on how to connect with local people when you travel. In the context of making friends to avoid travelling by yourself, don’t overlook the opportunities you’ll gain from seeking out a local cooking or art class. The possibilities depend on the place you want to visit, but you’ll find that each area has cultural activities or traditions that are popular and a great way to meet people and potential travel buddies.
Take part in language exchanges
Whether you attend a local language exchange group for a simple chat or a more organised programme, brushing up your language skills exposes you to many different people.
If teaching English as a foreign language appeals, you could look into programmes such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) https://www.tefl.org.uk/ , which arranges location-based learning opportunities for people. By signing up to a programme such as TEFL, you benefit from not only the experience of teaching but also the chance to live and work abroad. Over the duration of your placement you’ll meet many other people doing the same thing as you. It also opens up your friendship network to include the international students your teach.
Choose your accommodation wisely
Deciding on the type of accommodation you will stay at whilst you are travelling can make a big difference on how easily you meet people. As a general rule, I usually opt for hostel accommodation because they tend to be cheaper and a lot more sociable than hotels.
Check reviews from previous travellers on booking sites and find out what they’re saying about the vibe of the place. Are there social areas such as: kitchen, indoor or outdoor common rooms or even a bar or a café on-site?
Wherever you end up, you need to feel happy with the overall atmosphere and that it could be a place that you will potentially meet other travellers. Making the decision to place yourself at the heart of social situations will ensure that you don’t remain a solo traveller for long.
Offer to work for free accommodation
An option if you plan longer-term travel is to approach your hostel and offer to work there for free accommodation. Many hostels accept help with housekeeping and general cleaning duties in exchange for a free stay. If you’re slow travelling through a particular country, can spare the time and would like to reduce your outgoings, it can’t hurt to ask the question at reception.
By doing this, you will quickly see a little hostel family developing. Travellers who are staying there long-term bond together and form strong friendships. Establishing yourself in the hub of the hostel may be one way you can get that cosy feel away from home and make firm friends in the process.
Turn your hand to WWOOFing
WWOOF stands for Word Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms https://www.wwoof.org.uk/ . This organisation places travellers in a local homestead who shelter and feed you in exchange for volunteering on their farm. Not only is this an ideal way to meet local families, keep your travel costs down and gains you invaluable work experience, it can also be a great way to meet other travellers.
If the idea of going alone doesn’t appeal, there’s always the opportunity to team up with another traveller and head somewhere together. Hop onto online forums and Facebook groups and put the question out there to other travellers proposing the same thing.
More tips on how to find people to travel with
If you want more advice on how to find people to travel with then check out another blog post I wrote about how to banish loneliness on the road. https://www.meanderwithmeg.com/2016/01/12/how-to-break-the-ice-as-a-solo-traveller/
If you’re still panicking, my final advice to you is not to let your fear get the better of you. Take a deep breath, clear your head and you’ll soon realise that there are many ways you can avoid travelling alone.
Sure, some of them – well, actually, all of them – require a little work on your part to make happen. But if putting yourself out there a little means that you benefit from the enriching experience of travel then it’s a small price to pay. Expanding your social circle will lead to some incredible friendships that will stay with you forever.
Originally from Reading, England, Meg quit her desk job in the UK in 2011. She has spent the last six years travelling and working abroad in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Southeast Asia. On her blog, MeanderWithMeg, she shares her experiences to inspire the next wave of fearless solo travellers.
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How to be Social with Friends on a ..
I know the feeling. Sometimes, you just can’t keep up with your friends when they decide to go for that fancy dinner followed by an expensive party night at that hype club in town. Or even that amazing concert that’s sold out everywhere months ago. Maybe even join your girlfriends to that amazing SPA they keep talking about and that’s on the top list of things to do on the next weekend trip they’re planning.
In your mind, you just can’t avoid feeling left out and how you’d love to join them on all of those things, but you also know that at the moment, you need to keep things under control with your finances. Maybe you just lost your job, maybe you’re saving for your next trip and you just can’t afford all of that, but there’s still that fear of missing out.
Well…Good news for you! Here are five ways on how to be social with friends on a budget without stepping out of you “budget zone”!
1. Home Nights – Who Said We Need to Go Out to Have Fun
Cooking nights, movie nights, gaming nights, you name it! Socializing with friends at home is a great way to have fun on a budget! It might be too cold outside for a night out as well, so then, you can have your own private social club, and each of them can add something to the fun!
Plan the drinks, the music, and the snacks, so you won’t have to afford everything and you won’t need more than that to make that night, a night of fun and memories!
You can try a new recipe (you can find plenty on Pinterest!), so your friends can help with it, and you can all cook together.
Oh, by the way…don’t say to me that’s too boring cause, in the end, you can’t meet anyone new! Are you sure? So, here’s my tip: Plan a PLUS ONE party where everyone needs to bring someone new to introduce that might be interesting for someone else. That’s also a good excuse to ask your friend to bring that person you’ve been keeping your eye on for a while! (You’re welcome!)
You know what they say…The best of things happen behind closed doors. Just be careful with the noise bothering your neighbors!
2. Exercising – Make it Beyond Social by Getting Fit And Healthy
There are no excuses! No matter what type of activity you might be interested in, there will always be an option on a budget for you! Running at the park, training for a marathon, using the machines at a public outdoor gym, beach activities, or even team games…
Not enough for you? Ok, so here’s some more. What about having a dance teacher just for you and your friends?! Make it even better! Book the teacher for a home night and the party is complete!
You might even want to do something similar by hiring a personal trainer for a functional training with a group of friends so you can all share the rate and it won’t be so heavy on anyone! Well…the weights should! So you can be social and get fit at the same time, all at once!
3. Volunteering – Making it Social By Helping Others
Love animals?! Here we go! This is just one of the things you can volunteer to and involve some of your friends as well. Being good to others will not only make you a better person but doing that with the people you care about, will also bring you even closer and add some valuable meaning to the social time you spent together.
Nowadays, there are so many things you can volunteer to and oh! By the way! Let’s not forget that you can simply travel just for that! Cool, huh! Thanks to the internet and social media, there’s a whole list of volunteering opportunities that have been getting more and more popular over these last past years, and it’s easy to understand why.
But you don’t need to go far away…Helping poor communities around you, visiting sick or old people at a hospital/care house will definitely take you out of your comfort zone. Especially if you’re going through a rough time at the moment, this will add a good perspective over your own problems, and plus, you’ll have your friends right there to back you up!
4. Collective Buying – Find Your Best Deals And Bring Your Friends In
Sites like Groupon and other with the same style are a great source of fun and good deals! Even that weekend escapade you couldn’t afford at first, might get under your budget and your friends could also join the fun!
Still too expensive for you? What about a dinner night out on a new restaurant, for example? Those sites are filled with some new options for very affordable prices. Last summer I went for one of those deals with a friend of mine in Madrid and it was my first time trying Thai food and I can actually say it was a very pleasant experience. Ok, that might not be that fancy restaurant you love so much, but you and your friends might be surprised by how good some of these place actually are!
Ah, and remember that SPA day your friends were planning for the next trip? I bet you can find something similar in one of those websites too! Just check it out and you will find plenty of options to socialize with your people on a half off deal!
Another option is to look for big group deals for over ten people. Dinner, flights tickets, hotel bookings, theme parks…If you have a large group of friends, don’t miss the opportunity of getting some more discounts for you and your crowd!
5. Multilingual Groups – Have fun by Practicing and Learning Something New
Have you ever heard about these? They are a great way to be social, meet more people, and practice another language! Many cities now have groups that organize these multilingual events where people meet at a bar or at a park for a picnic, for example, and all are there to practice a different language.
They usually receive tags with the languages they can speak and they spend some time there simply socializing with each other at a fun atmosphere.
Do you have friends from different countries who want to practice another language? That might be a great way to socialize with them and a whole new group of people, and in most of the cases, you don’t even need to spend any money on it!
So, here are some of my ideas of how you can gather your friends and still give your wallet a good rest. Most of them are not only fun but also add something extra to your good time, like learning something new, getting fit and healthier, helping and supporting someone going through a tough time…
And what about you? If you have some other ideas you already tried to have fun with your friends on a budget, let me know here in the comments. I’m curious to share more experiences with you all!
Written by: Kinha Guimarães
Why not check out Kinha’s: Instagram
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Feeling connected: how to meet peop..
Even if you’re travelling by yourself, it’s easier than you think to get out there and meet people. Here are our favourite ways on How to make friends while travelling and meet locals.
How to make friends while travelling
Here at iSocialCircle, we love to connect with new people on a daily basis. We value our travel community and welcome new members into our family, united by our shared passion for exploration. Our mission is to make it as easy as possible to support one another on our journeys, and to foster the spirit of wanderlust in everyone - whether you’re travelling alone or in a group.
We know how daunting it can feel to rock up in a new place and not know anyone. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to bump into your fellow travellers when you’re on the road. Here are a few of our favourite methods:
Stay in hostels
We love staying in hostels with a vibrant community atmosphere so that we can talk to as many people as we can. If the thought of sharing a dorm room puts you a little outside of your comfort zone, you can always opt for a private room so you can get a peaceful night’s rest.
Take day tours
Day trips can be organised through your accommodation or other local tour providers. Chances are that if you are visiting Florence, Italy and want to take a walking tour of the city to check out the sites (and the gelato!) then other tourists will want to as well. Strike up a conversation whilst you’re on the tour together and you may often find people are more than happy to share a beer or a meal together afterwards.
Head to the bar
You don’t have to be a total party animal to use this kind of social space for meeting people. And whilst we’re trying as hard as possible for that not to sound seedy - we promise, we’re not! - sitting at the bar for a beer is a surefire way to be able to strike up a conversation with other travellers.
Most accommodation have some kind of bar or cafe they recommend, often on the premises. Take a book or your journal and relax for a while. Sit somewhere prominent, like at the bar, where you can chat to the bar staff and easily make conversation with others. Don’t hide away in a corner with your book covering your face and wonder why no one comes up to talk to you!
Use social media
Make connections with your fellow travellers in groups on Facebook or websites/apps like iSocialCircle. Introduce yourself, explain your itinerary and you’ll be amazed at how many other travellers are out there planning the exact same trip, or already in that location who can give you insider knowledge on what to do when you get there.
How to meet locals when you travel
It always feels a little more intimidating to strike up a conversation with a local, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t put yourself out there and give it a try. There are more ways than you realise to discover your new destination through the eyes of a resident. Here’s some suggestions to get you started:
Ask your friends before you travel
A bit of an out-there one to begin with, but an excellent way to get yourself in with a local is if you have a mutual friend in common. Ask your friends or family if they know of anyone in the destinations you are visiting. Before you know it, you’ll have a list of email addresses and telephone numbers to contact in pretty much every place you’ll be visiting.
The beauty of these kinds of contacts is that the local person will more than likely be delighted to act as tour-guide for their country. They will love the opportunity to meet you and show you all the sights their location has to offer.
Eat with a local
It would be quite difficult to invite yourself into someone’s house around dinnertime and pull up a chair at their dining table. Luckily, the internet has your back once again and provides a whole range of options for you to experience a locally cooked meal in a more authentic atmosphere than a restaraunt. EatWith is a website showcasing over 200 locations worldwide where you can sign up to sample a meal cooked for you by a local. [https://www.eatwith.com/]
Another option would be to ask through you accommodation providers, local restaurants or tour companies whether they know of any cooking classes you can join. Your food will never taste better after you’ve learned about the ingredients, prepared and cooked your meal fresh to enjoy.
Go to a local event
Head to the tourist information office in your area and find out about the upcoming events, gigs and concerts. Get involved with an upcoming street fair, museum open day or festival and you’ll be surrounded by locals all enjoying the experience.
Learn the language
Nothing impresses people more when you make an attempt to speak their language. You can boost your learning whilst also helping others improve their language skills by taking part in a language exchange. You can search for these kinds of events in the local paper, on social media or websites such as Craigslist for details of language schools in the area.
Heading to a local food market or to a farmer’s or craft market on the weekend is a great way to sample fresh produce and chat to the people who know best. You’ll also be surrounded by locals who shop there.
Travel to feel a connection
There’s no point in travelling to have a voyeur-like experience, which leaves you feeling disconnected with people and their way of life.
In a sense, you almost want to feel like you are at home while travelling. The moment you are immersed in another culture is when you begin to feel you are part of something.
Hopefully you realise just how easy it can be to meet people and make friends whilst travelling, whether you are alone or with a group.
Which methods are you going to try on your next trip? What are your favourite ways to meet people when you travel? Let us know in the comments!
Guest post bio
Meg is a freelance writer offering content writing services to kickass entrepreneurs and small businesses. She loves travel, cups of tea, sloth memes and crushing people's to-do lists one tick at a time. Catch her over at: www.smashyourtodolist.com
Why you should (and can) travel if ..
Three years ago I was diagnosed with depression and still have it. I have been travelling with depression. Travel has become a natural therapy for me. Initially, I thought I would just go away for three months and visit family. I booked a trip to my birth country. 9 months and 38 countries later and I am still travelling.