Meghan Markle’s deleted Instagram posts show her incredible life before the engagement

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In today’s day and age, social media reigns supreme. Nowadays, we communicate through selfies, we slide into DM’s, and we even throw a dog filter on top of our whole lives – and the world doesn’t bat an eyelid. With the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram filling up our time, it’s easy to believe that we’re all connected in one way or another. After all, how else are we supposed to keep track of our favorite celebrities and see how the other half live? By scrolling through our Instagram feeds, we can keep up with the Kardashians, we can be like the Beckhams, we can view the Vergaras (Sofia is of course our favorite), and apparently we can even watch the Windsors! Well, a soon-to-be Windsor. Of course, we’re talking about Meghan Markle, who will this year get hitched to the royal bachelor, Prince Harry. With a new family to impress, we bet the Queen won’t be happy with these deleted Instagram posts of Meghan Markle’s life before her engagement…


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Thanks to social media, us ordinary folk can watch as our favorite celebrities go about their daily lives. We can check out their epic (and expensive) car collection, we can see them at work, we can get a sneak peek into their Hollywood mansions, we can witness their girl gangs in action, and we can even get the scoop on a new celeb couple. The opportunities for social media are endless, and luckily, many of the most famous celebrities are more than happy to update their fans on their activities. With a race to get the most followers – can anyone beat Selena Gomez’s 132 million Instagram followers?! – celebrities post photo after photo and video after video, and we lap it up. Naturally, there are some celebrities who are more popular than others, but right now, we’re totally crushing on Meghan Markle.

In July 2016, the rest of the world went about their business, while the Suits actress, Meghan Markle, was introduced to Prince Harry by a mutual friend. After all, what else does a beautiful actress have to do on a Tuesday morning? After their initial meeting, the pair hit it off (we’d expect nothing less) and started secretly dating away from the public eye. In October that year, rumors began to circulate that the previously eligible bachelor was off the market, and a month later Royal Kensington Palace released an official statement that the duo was a couple. As if that wasn’t enough to make the whole of England and America swoon with excitement, their relationship was taken to the next level when they announced their engagement on November 27, 2017 – and now we eagerly await the royal wedding, and our invitation, which must have been lost in the mail…

However, with a new royal life ahead of her, we bet Meghan is probably regretting these deleted Instagram posts of her life before her engagement.

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The real Meghan Markle

Ever since her first appearance in Suits in 2011, Meghan Markle has been the source of much affection – and it’s not hard to see why. From her impeccable acting talent to her beautiful appearance and her celebrity status, the soon-to-be royal has amassed a whopping 3 million followers on Instagram. In the past, she has shared snippets of her life before her engagement to Prince Harry. Yet, sometimes she’s shared a little bit too much, and we can’t imagine ol’ Queen Liz will be too happy about this…

Staying hydrated

Like most celebrities, Meghan Markle spends most of her free time traveling the world and exploring new and exotic places – not that we’re jealous or anything. However, Meghan has always had an excuse. As the creator of her own blog, The Tig, Meghan used her travel opportunities to update her blog and her followers. During a visit to Greece, Meghan took this hydrating photograph of herself with the ocean in the background. We can’t imagine Meghan will be drinking any more of this stuff when she gets hitched. Tea and crumpets for you, Meg.

Slick selfies

One of the best things we love about celebrities is that we have all have something in common. After all, who DOESN’T love to take a selfie? Just a month before her fairytale meeting with Prince Harry, Meghan posted this slick selfie on her Instagram page, which resulted in a hefty liking spree from her followers. Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing any more of these anytime soon, as it’s against the royal rules to take selfies. Apparently, the Queen thinks they’re ‘strange.’ You and us both, Liz.

Sleep tight

During her highest reign of popularity on Suits, Meghan was also reigning supreme on her blog and posted weekly updates on her life, her health, wellbeing, and even fashion and style. It’s no secret that Meghan is a woman of natural style and beauty, but we can’t imagine this look would go down well in Buckingham Palace. In fact, members of the royal family are never seen in casual clothing, as they are expected to be well presented at all times. Even Prince George has to wear tailored trousers around the house!

Tequila time

Thanks to her impressive net worth (allegedly around $ 5 million), Meghan Markle has been able to enjoy the finer things in life and has often taken herself and her friends on beautiful summer holidays to the likes of Ibiza. In August 2016, the Duchess-to-be did just that and spent the evenings on the White Isle drinking Tequila sodas with her best pals and watching the sunset in front of them. However, we reckon Meghan might have to change her tipple of choice, unless the Queen loves a good Tequila Slammer, of course…

A cheeky package

We love nothing more than getting home after a long day, getting into our pajamas, and sitting down to watch a good movie, and it seems Meghan Markle is no different. Nevertheless, it seems our pajamas of choice are a little different. While we get ours from the local Walmart or Target, Meghan seems to get cheeky packages from expensive brands. Somehow, we just can’t imagine this parcel turning up on the doorstep of their newlywed home in Nottingham Cottage.

Sleep Sweet

In an Instagram post in June 2016, Meghan Markle proved that she was not shy in front of the camera. Uploading a beautiful full-face selfie, Meghan showed off her natural glow and her glistening smile – but it seems Meghan will have to learn how to be more reserved as she enters into her new life with Prince Harry. As a rule, the Royal Family have to lead a relatively quiet life, which means she won’t be able to post selfies like this one, or even sign autographs for her fans.

A deleted photo

Although Meghan still has kept most of her Instagram photographs on her account, she did get in hot water when one of her co-stars posted a saucy picture of her…and quickly deleted it. In August 2017, Patrick J. Adams decided to post a throwback photograph of himself with his Suits co-star, Meghan Markle, on his Instagram page. According to the actor, he posted the old photograph of the pair of them on set, before placing his phone on silent and going to bed. However, he did not expect the backlash that ensued…

A quick peck

The photograph in question featured a selfie of both Patrick and Meghan and saw Meghan kissing her co-star on the cheek. On his social media page, Patrick captioned the photograph with the innocent ‘Ross and Rachel – the next generation.’ Unfortunately, fans of Meghan and the Royal Family were not impressed with his choice of photo, or his choice of words. Before too long, online trolls bombarded his post with negative comments and insults, and his post was taken entirely out of context.

An intimate relationship

Fans of Suits will know the intimate relationship Meghan Markle has with her co-star, but they’ll also know that it’s all for the cameras. On the show, Meghan’s character Rachel Zane has a heated relationship with Patrick’s character, Mike Ross – but in reality, they are just friends. As soon as Patrick posted the throwback photo, trolls were quick to believe that Patrick was in competition for her attention. To avoid all of the negative press and to avoid speculation around himself and Meghan, he deleted the photograph.

On vacation

Like the rest of the world, Meghan loves nothing more than unwinding from work, and chilling out with her friends and family – or even embarking on a solo trip to truly take her mind away from the hustle and bustle of set life. In this photo she uploaded to her Instagram page, Meghan made no secret of the fact that she was getting pretty into the vacation way of life. After all, a balanced diet is a glass in each hand! However, it seems these fun trips may be coming to an end as her Duchess duties take over.

Chilling out

Although The Tig is no longer up and running, Meghan Markle used her platform to check out new and exciting places around the world. In her blog, she wrote about travel and other topics and made sure she knew firsthand what she was talking about. For research purposes, of course. In one of the many travel-related posts on her social media pages, Meghan posted this chilled out snapshot of one of her trips. Could this be a honeymoon destination, perhaps?

A dog’s life

If you’ve been following Meghan Markle on Instagram for a while now, you’ll know that she’s a huge dog lover. For many years, Meghan has been the proud owner of two dogs – a Beagle named Guy and a Labrador-Shepherd mix, Bogart – and has posted numerous photos of herself cuddled up on the couch with them in the past. This love of dogs will come in handy when she visits the Corgis at Buckingham Palace! Let’s hope they like her.

Tucking in

As well as updating her fans on her vacation pictures, Meghan also likes to post about food – because really, who doesn’t? Although this looks like a yummy dish, it’s probably not what she’ll be eating for the rest of her life. With weird and wacky culinary rules to abide by, members of the Royal Family are under strict instructions at the dinner table. Noodles and pasta are off the Buckingham Palace menu, and it’s believed that once the Queen has stopped eating, EVERYBODY stops eating. Even if they’re mid crumpet.

Fruity fingers

Throughout her career, Meghan Markle has been known for her sense of humor, and her entertaining personality – and she has loved to show this through her social media pages. In this hilarious post a few years ago, Meghan topped her fingers off with berries and posed for a photograph. Although this was a way to get a few laughs, she might want to adopt this look in the future, if she ever wears dark nail varnish in front of the Queen…because dark varnish is a big no-no in the Windsor household apparently.

Sandy toes

After posting this snapshot of her vacation on Instagram, many people were wondering where she was, and where she was planning to go next. Although she was probably going back to her swanky hotel to get ready for a night of fun and laughter with her friends, there could always be the chance that she was going to have a quick power nap before the night began. Unfortunately, it was probably one of the last naps she had, as going to bed before the Queen is thought to be strictly forbidden…

Vacation envy

Over the course of her Instagram streak, Meghan Markle has made millions of us jealous thanks to her perfect vacation snaps. From the impressive backdrop to the crystal clear water in the background, the drinks on the table, to her outfit, it all looks absolutely magnificent. In the past, Meghan has taken trips by herself, but it seems she won’t be able to continue this after her wedding day, as women are not allowed to travel by themselves. What a shame!

Bedtime antics

Like most of us on social media, we often take photographs of random moments that make us happy. For the most part, we love to share these snapshots with our nearest and dearest, to give them a little insight into our lives, and spread a little joy. It’s believed that Meghan wanted to do the same when she shared this candid photograph on her Instagram page, while she sat in bed in a silky negligee. Unfortunately, we can’t imagine she’ll be posting any more of these photos anytime soon.

The royal treatment

Although many of us dream of marrying into a royal family and becoming a real-life princess, there is so much more to it than simply wearing a tiara and ball gown 24/7, and bossing people around! There are numerous aspects of the royal life that takes a lot of getting used to – but it seems that Meghan Markle is already getting into the spirit of things. In this quirky Instagram post, Meghan showed the world that she is ready to sit in her bedchambers and rule the world!

All black everything

It’s no secret that black is a hugely flattering color, and Meghan is no stranger to wearing black and taking suggestive photographs such as this one. With the high slit and the skimpy shoes, we bet this is the last time Meghan will wear such a dress – but she will definitely wear this color again. In fact, it is a royal requirement for every member of the Royal Family to have a ready-to-wear funeral outfit with them during every trip to prepare them for any sudden deaths. How lovely…

Snapchat filters

Like most people in today’s day and age, Meghan Markle is no stranger to Snapchat. In fact, she has often publicized her Snapchat name on her social media channels and wowed her adoring fans with beautiful filters – including the hugely popular dog filter. Meghan posted this dog selfie a couple of years ago, but we can imagine the Queen has since suggested that she delete the app from her phone. Unless she wants Meghan to snap pictures of her and her Corgis, which we would totally appreciate.

A sultry selfie

If you’ve been on Meghan Markle’s Instagram page recently, you would have noticed this photograph as her profile picture. Compete with a sultry pose, ruffled hair and some pretty white sheets; we can’t imagine that this selfie was not taken in the presence of Prince Harry, the Queen, or any other royal. This photograph has amassed nearly 50,000 likes – but we might not be seeing another photo like this in the future. In fact, we might not even see her Instagram page in the future…

The mirror selfie

Although it’s gone out of fashion slightly, the mirror selfie is still a firm favorite for those who love to take a good selfie, and Meghan has taken a fair few in her lifetime. With a pouty look, some fluffy slippers and a cool-looking apartment in the background, Meghan took the world by storm when she posted this selfie. However, with her wedding date looming ever closer, her time on Instagram may soon be coming to an end.

Always the bridesmaid

We all know the phrase, ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ but it seems Meghan’s bridesmaid days are behind her. Instead of donning a dress similar to this one, we can only imagine Meghan will be wearing a one-of-a-kind gown fit for a Princess for her big day. Although she will adopt a new name and lifestyle, Royal rules may mean that Meghan will lose her social media status forever. Yep, as soon as she marries into the Royal Family, Meghan will divorce her online presence.

Saying goodbye

We may still be graced with her Instagram page (although that isn’t confirmed), Megham will not have control over her own social media pages when she gets hitched. Instead, it will be run by a royal social media manager who will control every post and comment! According to sources close to the family, Meghan will join the likes of Prince Harry and William on the Kensington Royal social media channels. It seems this change is already in action, as Meghan hasn’t posted anything on Instagram since this photograph in April…

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Travel quiz: February edition

Travel-Trivia

Do you know which Mediterranean island nation is the smallest EU member? Or where in the world you’d find yourself drinking the alcoholic liquor Gammel Dansk at breakfast? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with February’s edition of our monthly quiz. Give it a go and share your results on Twitter or Facebook!

TAKE THE QUIZ

Desperate for more travel trivia? Have a go at last month’s quiz.

Find quizzes just like this, plus plenty of travel inspiration and planning tips in Lonely Planet Traveller’s UK edition.

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See the world with Virgin Atlantic – Over 30 Destinations Worldwide

Relaxing in Miami

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There is no denying that Miami is a party place, perfect for hip vacations, but what happens when you want to relax? What about when you’ve taken in all the party scene has to offer and now you just need to chill? Here are the best ways to relax in Miami.

Stay at the Metropolitan by COMO

A lot of hotels in Miami are all about pool parties, loud music and cocktails. Thankfully, the Metropolitan is a calming oasis for guests looking to relax. There is a pool but the music played is soothing, and it is never closed off for parties so you can get your swim on whenever you fancy it. There is a rooftop hydrotherapy pool and plenty of spa treatments that aim towards therapeutic rather than just pampering. Even the food is all about healthy and good vibes, with Shambhala cuisine and smoothies. Ideal!

Chill out at Miami Beach Botanical Garden

A beautiful 2.6-acre urban oasis, this garden features bamboo, pagodas, water, a gazebo, and a stunning Japanese garden. With free entry and a donation-only hatha yoga class weekly, this garden is the place to relax. That said, it is often rented out for parties so try and avoid these if you’re looking to chill!

Escape to tranquil Key Biscayne

The Key is all about serenity and indulgent relaxation, with the most beautiful beaches, views, and cycling opportunities. You will not find anything touristy or consumer based here, and it is a welcome break from the rest of Miami. Enjoy a picnic or barbecue and maybe a swim in the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park nearby. Lush!

Visit the animals at Jungle Island

Feel at one with nature at Jungle Island, and enjoy watching the wildlife shows, feeding the parrots and enjoying the petting zoo. This isn’t just for children, although there are likely to be some there, so try and go during the school day when it is likely to be a bit quieter and less busy than on the weekend or in the school breaks.

Explore the Hemingway Home and Museum

Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West for around eight years, and his former home has since become a museum celebrating his life and work. Interestingly, there are almost 50 cats that roam the grounds, many of which are said to be related to Hemingway’s own cat Snowball, so whether you’re a fan of his writing or just love cats, this is a great way to spend a day relaxing.

Although Miami is an undisputed party capital where anything goes, we all need to wind down sometime, and although they are often harder to find or less well publicized, there are some amazing options for relaxing in Miami that you need to experience (before you start partying again!).

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The amazing Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia

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Everyone has a bucket list, and there are probably some truly breathtaking things on that bucket list. The world is such an amazing place, full of lots of beauty and majesty, and it’s important to try to experience as much of it as you can. This might mean jetting off to some faraway land, and mixing with cultures you’re not familiar with, but that’s a great way to evolve as a person.

One of the things we absolutely insist you get on your bucket list is the stunning Salar De Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. These are staggeringly beautiful, and perhaps the most remarkable vistas in the world. A salt flat is an expanse of ground that is covered in salt and other minerals that make incredible patterns and visual wonders on the ground. So, here is what you need to know if you want to visit Salar De Uyuni.

When you should go

Any time of the year, right? Well, no. There are two distinct seasons that apply when you want to go see the salt flats. There is the rainy season (December to April) and the dry season (May to November). However, you want to avoid December and January because it often gets too wet which can result in tours being canceled. The dry season might be preferable as you’ll be able to access places that aren’t so accessible in the rainy season.

How to get there

You also need to know how to get there when you decide to pay a visit. Now, the chances are you’re going to be going on a guided tour, in which case there will be transport. There are three different places from which the tours go, two in Bolivia (in Uyuni and Tupiza) and another from Chile. Where you go from will largely depend on where you are staying, and you will have to decide whether to book tickets in advance or buy them when you arrive.

Choosing the right tour

There are several tours you might choose to take when you go visit these stunning salt flats. And, the good news is that there are packages to suit your preferences. For those in it for the long haul, you could take a 3-day tour of the Altiplano region, that includes the salt flats, but also other stunning things like volcanoes, geysers, and deserts. Alternatively, you might like to do a one-day tour where you just go see Salar De Uyuni, which will cost lest. There are shared tours to consider as well, where you will be part of a group.

This is one of those unique experiences that you may never get the chance to have again, so you need to make the most of it. The Bolivian salt flats are simply stunning, and they need to be discovered to be believed. If you want to get the full experience you need to plan ahead and choose what sort of time of the year you want to go. Picking the right tour is also really important, and will help enhance your experience while you’re there.

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Passing panorama: New Zealand’s glory from a train window

Thirty years after the TranzAlpine was launched, Susan Grossman boards one of the world’s most scenic trains at Christchurch, before completing her trip on North Island’s Northern Explorer

It’s 8.15am on the dot and with one mellow toot the TranzAlpine passenger train is off on its journey from Christchuch to Greymouth. As we rattle through the flat and fertile Canterbury plains we are soon climbing up steep gorges in the foothills of the Southern Alps, the backbone of South Island. Below, I can see the startling blue water of the Waimakariri river valley. Pink and blue lupins line the tracks along with rows of pines.

The railway covers 223km, tracking its way over four viaducts and through 16 tunnels, taking four and a half hours to Greymouth on the west coast – a tad faster than the stage coaches that took two days to get food across to gold prospectors in 1866. The stage coach was once known as “The Perishable” because of the fruit and vegetables it used to transport along the way.

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Best road trips in Maine

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If you’re anything like us, the idea of taking a road trip will be something you’ve given a lot of thought to. There’s something about hitting the open road and having a more stripped back travel experience that appeals to a lot of people. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are so many amazing areas of our country to explore already, without having to get on a plane and fly somewhere new.

One of the finest places to visit is the state of Maine, popularized in almost all Stephen King novels. As the largest state in New England, this place is stunningly beautiful and full of lots breathtaking scenery, not to mention a mesmerizing blend of color, architecture, and geography. If you’re serious about taking a road trip in Maine, we’ve come up with a list of some of the best options for you.

Coastal Route 1

Seen as perhaps the ultimate road trip route in the whole of Maine, Coastal Route 1 is popular with summer tourists looking for some truly stunning natural beauty. It runs for 300 miles, between New Hampshire and Canada, and takes you through loads of lovely, quaint seaside towns. Maine is a rural enough state as it is, but this is the best trip to take if you really want to get up close and personal with that natural beauty.

Golden Road

This 96-mile road through the woodlands of Maine has to be one of the most scenic road trips in the world. You will cross pristine lakes, epic camping grounds, and majestic waterfalls – all making you feel like you’re half a world away from home. If you like a more physical and down-to-Earth vacation experience, this is the one we would recommend going for. The Golden Road is a favorite among visitors to the area, and it’s easy to see why.

Million Dollar View Scenic Byway

The clue is pretty much in the name with this one, and you need to discover it as soon as possible. Taking you on a stunning route, the road rises along the side of Peekaboo Mountain (yes, it’s really called that). On a clear day, to the East, you’ll be able to see the Canadian province of New Brunswick swirling away across the horizon. There are plenty of lookout points here, as well as great places to enjoy the views.

Grafton Notch Byway

If you are a water-junkie, this is definitely the route for you, as it winds its way all along the Bear River. Through valleys and canyons, you will go, taking in some of the sights and sounds of Maine that you’ve never experienced before. Route 26 will take you through Grafton Notch State Park where you will find countless photo opportunities, and some of the most charming surroundings you’ve ever seen.

These are just a few of the highly recommended road trips to take when you’re in Maine. We can certainly see the appeal, and we understand why so many people have fallen in love with New England. If you are looking for some of the best road trips in Maine, you should do your homework beforehand – but, we definitely think one of these would be the ideal way to go.

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Traveling in Barcelona

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When we think of Spain, there are two cities that instantly come to mind – Madrid, and Barcelona. While Madrid might be more popular and receive more accolades, it’s clear that Barcelona is the place to be. The two seem to compete with everything – soccer, tourism, etc. But, we can honestly say, Catalonia’s sprawling, cosmopolitan capital, is one of the finest cities we’ve ever been to, and we insist you check it out right now.

This fantastical city is famed for its architecture and history, not to mention the thriving art scene here. If you are planning a trip to Spain, Barcelona should be your destination, and we’re going to explore why. This bustling city is teeming with new experiences around every corner; open your eyes, ears, and mind, and indulge in Spain’s most passionate city.

Set off on a walking tour

The only way to really get a feel for a city like Barcelona is to head out on foot and enjoy a walking tour. This gets you up close and personal to the real Catalonia, and it’s the perfect sized city to explore on foot. There are so many food and drink options as you traverse the city, and you should stop to indulge in some of the great local cuisine. But you also get to go off the beaten track and experience the Barcelona you won’t find publicized in guidebooks. You can even hire a bicycle to help split up the journey a little bit.

Enjoy a concert

The backdrop of the stunning Barcelona nightlife is the perfect setting to take in a concert and theater trip. There are quite a few places you can visit to get this cultural injection – personally, we would recommend Gran Teatre del Liceu, a grand,m elegant concert hall nestled in the city that is worth a look just for its decor and architecture. There are also plenty of international music festivals and gig venues here, so you’ll never be short of the chance to soak up some excellent live music during your stay.

Indulge in pintxos

There are loads of exquisite food opportunities in Barcelona, and you won’t be short of a tapas joint or two. But, we think you should be a little more original, and go for some pintxos instead. This is basically the Basque equivalent of tapas, with an emphasis on seafood, bite-sized bits of deliciousness atop tasty bread. These are a tradition in Barcelona, and a great chance to try Basque cuisine outside of the region. Choose a tasty wine to wash down the delicious pintxos with as well.

Climb Montjuic

This majestic mountain is one of the greatest attractions in the city. Take a leafy stroll up there and enjoy the stunning views; it’s great exercise, not to mention the fact that it gives a sensational view of the city. If you get to the top of the hill, you will be able to check out the iconic Olympic Stadium, and this is certainly one of the enduring symbols of the city. This is a stunning walk, and one of the best things to do in the city.

Barcelona is a wonderful, modern city always looking to grow, improve, and move forward. It is the jewel in the Catalan crown, as well as one of the most popular destination cities in Spain. More and more people are discovering how amazing Barcelona is, and it’s time you did too. If you want to discover and understand the magic of Spain, Barcelona is the place to be.

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What’s to see in Cape Cod

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We’ve all heard of Cape Cod, but it’s unlikely many of us have been there, and that’s a shame. This peninsula of Massachusetts is a popular summertime spot for a lot of Americans who enjoy the quaint and relaxed nature of things. Cape Cod is a wonderful fishing destination, with gorgeous scenery, friendly people, and a welcome departure from the crazy chaos of city life.

The best thing about Cape Cod is that it has something to offer every kind of traveler out there. There’s something for beachgoers, culture obsessives, and adventurers alike, and you could easily spend a fortnight here enjoying all the different experiences available. So, what is there to do here? Well, a better question would be, “What ISN’T there to do?!” Well, we’ve picked out a few of our favorite things to do when you visit Cape Cod.

Cape Cod National Seashore

The East shore of the lower cape has been a designated national park since 1961, and it’s easy to understand why this is. The 40-mile stretch has some truly stunning scenery, as well as some of the best beaches on America’s East Coast. Beyond the sand, there are some truly stunning biking and hiking trails to enjoy here as well. So much natural beauty exists in Cape Cod, and you will really be missing out if you don’t head here and take it all in.

Heritage Museums & Gardens

We love some culture when we go away, and Cape Cod has plenty to offer those who want a cultural fix. One of the best places we would recommend checking out would be Heritage Museum & Gardens. There’s a selection of charming American folk art here, as well as a stunning antique car collection. This is the perfect place to learn more about the cultural undertones of Cape Cod and experience the 1,000 acres of beautiful gardens teeming with life and beauty.

Cape Playhouse

Ever fancy taking in a show? This is always something that’s good to try to do locally, and you can get the ideal experience at Cape Playhouse. This is actually the oldest professional summer theater in America, and the shabby-chic interior is simply unforgettable. Check out what productions they have coming up; there might be something you’re Jonesing to see. Tickets can sometimes be a little pricey, but they are well worth it, and this is a unique experience you may not be able to have again.

Art’s Dune Tours

How would you like to get off the road for a bit, and check out the stunning dunes and sprawling landscape of Provincetown? Well, these tours take people out in awesome four-wheel drive vehicles and give you a wonderful experience of the open plains of Cape Cod. You’ll also see some of the quaint shacks that have been rented by famous artists of the past. This tour gives you one of the best experiences of your time in Cape Cod and will be something of an eye-opener.

Cape Cod is primed for you to enjoy an excellent vacation destination. There is so much you can do whether you go alone, or with your family. The gorgeous beaches allow for a relaxing and laid back time, while the areas of cultural significance serve to educate, interest, and inform people as much as possible.

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Mysuru, India, city guide: what to see, plus the best yoga centres, hotels and restaurants

Famed for ashtanga yoga, wellbeing is a way of life in this magical south Indian city – and fantastic markets, food and architecture all add to the allure

Mysuru (formerly known as Mysore; it was renamed in 2014) has hovered under the tourist radar for years and is often overlooked in favour of southern cousins such as Kochi and Puducherry. But the former royal capital of the erstwhile eponymous princely state is a slow-reveal pleasure, a place of culture, eccentricity, architecture, beauty and manners; a gently pious, highly literate and quietly arresting city, connected to nature and imbued with the sacred.

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LP Pathfinders: video of the month, December 2017

Mt Kilimanjaro and Acacia from Amboseli in Kenya.

Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli in Kenya © 1001slide / Getty Images

Every month, we curate the best blog posts and Instagrams from our Lonely Planet Pathfinders.

This month we’re featuring a video from Oksana and Max of Drink Tea & Travel who have encapsulated their challenging climb of Mount Kilimanjaro into a short but exciting four-minute video.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro was by far the biggest mental and physical challenge we have ever undertaken on our travels. This video allows you to get a glimpse into our journey to the Roof of Africa and inspire you to put this incredible experience on your own travel bucket list!’

Climbing Kilimanjaro — Drink Tea & Travel

Featuring awe-inspiring footage of the varied landscapes they encountered and portrait shots of the friendly faces they met along the way, Oksana and Max’s video has got us plotting our next mountain hike as we type. We also liked the clever use of time-lapse footage and the focus on smaller details which helps give the video a sense of time.

A big thanks to all the Pathfinders for their video submissions this month. We really enjoyed the great vlog submissions from Westfalia Digital Nomads who have been winding their way through France and onto Spain. We’re looking forward to seeing all the exciting adventures you’ve captured on film this month!

Keep your eyes peeled on our Thorn Tree forum where we’ll post the next submission call-out. Find out what else our Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Pathfinders video playlist and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Fun and leisure in Tahiti

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Tahiti is the largest and most recognizable island in the French Polynesia and has to rank as one of the most dazzling places we’ve ever seen. It’s a place of delightful coves, heavenly bays, and breathtaking lagoons. This is the place where the real beauty of the natural world spreads its wings and shows you how amazing it can be sometimes.

For your next travel experience, you need to head for the South Pacific and check out this wonderful archipelago. This stunning place has almost mythical-like qualities and ranks as a top destination for many travelers. If you’ve never been before you’re probably going to want some ideas for things to do while you’re here. So, this is a guide to some of the best ways to have fun in Tahiti.

Spend the night in an overwater bungalow

Seriously, we cannot stress enough how much you need to do this. It’s one of those unique experience you may not ever get the chance to do again. It definitely makes you feel more attuned to the surrounding landscape, and you get a dose of the culture here as well. Spend the night drifting in and out to the soothing sound of the ocean lapping, and go snorkeling in the clear blue waters just outside your bungalow! This is one of those things you see people do in the movies and think how cool it is, and now you have the chance to do it yourself.

Feed sharks and stingrays

If you’re feeling a little braver, you might consider trying out one of these tours where you get to feed sharks and stingrays. Book one of these tours, and you will actually be able to get into the water and feed these majestic fish! Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe, and you have very little to worry about. Still, it might take people of a strong disposition to want to be a part of this sort of tour. We think this is one of the best things to do in Tahiti, but we can understand why it may not appeal to others!

Check out a lagoon

There are a lot of stunning lagoons in Tahiti, which only offers more opportunity to experience some of the gorgeous marine life. If you’re looking for a water-based adventure in Tahiti, we would highly recommend going snorkeling in one of the mesmerizing lagoons here. Some of Tahiti’s best scenery lies beneath the glassy surface of the ocean, and, by submerging you can enjoy this up close and personal. There is so much you’re going to be missing out on if you don’t at least check this out.

Traditional massage

Massages are a big part of island life, and, if you’re offered the opportunity to take one, you should. We would ideally urge you to go for a traditional Tahitian massage, which involves the use of monoi oil. It’s soothing, relaxing, and smells wonderful, and it’s the perfect way of relaxing you and getting you in the right mindset to enjoy the rest of what Tahiti has to offer.
This tropical paradise offers the perfect chance for relaxation and unwinding. You can enjoy the serenity and peace that an island vacation brings, and there are plenty of awesome things to do while you’re there as well. These are just a few of the things we can think up to keep you entertained when you visit Tahiti. We hope you enjoy this delightful island just as much as we did.

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Enjoying Bermuda

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Bermuda is a British island territory sitting pretty in the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s a destination that has proven popular with beach bums over the years and continues to attract visitors from across the world. With a wonderful maritime history and the perfect blend of British and American culture, Bermuda is an island calling out to you across the ocean waves.

It’s the ultimate place to lounge on a stunning, serene beach, or to go for a round of golf on the amazing links. There is a rare combination of experiences open to you here, and that’s the great appeal of Bermuda as a nation. If you want to enjoy a slice of life exploring Bermuda, you need to make sure you check out these wonderful experiences.

Head to Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach is one of the most famous and photographed beaches in the world. This is a true gem, and one of the top tourist attractions in Bermuda. The crisp sand is soft and warm, and the water is refreshing – you may want to avoid it from September to May as it can get pretty cold. The beach is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll at any time of the year, and the pink sand is a cool and quirky feature. If you want to avoid crowds, try to get here as early as you possibly can.

Check out the Royal Naval Dockyard

Bermuda has made most of its commerce and tourism from being a port, crucial for trade with other nations. And the Royal Naval Dockyard is a stunning and culturally important part of the country, not to mention a break from the beaches. Also, importantly, the place used to be the base of the Royal Navy but is now a cruise-ship dock and popular tourist site. There are plenty of attractions here, and it’s important to check them out – not to mention the great restaurants where you can have a delicious local meal.

Crystal & Fantasy Caves

Imagine being one of the two boys who, in 1907, accidentally discovered these jaw-dropping caves! Filled with all manner of staggering crystal formations, the caves have become one of the principal attractions of Bermuda, and for good reason. The 55-foot deep lake is also a wonderful attraction in the deep of the caves, and this provides you with an experience unlike any you’ve ever had before. You can make your way through these magical caves using the purpose-built bridges, and enjoy an experience that is completely unique and special.

Dolphin Quest

When you come somewhere like Bermuda, you need to make sure you make the most of everything. So many of the attractions involve being in the water, but this is surely the most enjoyable? The dolphin activity and training center is located within the complex at the Royal Naval Dockyard. So you can combine two incredible experiences in one, and enjoy this wonderful dolphin center. Aside from watching the dolphins perform stunts, there is also the opportunity to feed them as well.

Bermuda has so much to enjoy if you are a curious traveler, especially one who loves the ocean and the natural world. You can’t come to somewhere like Bermuda, and not want to make the most of the stunning natural beauty around every corner. If you want an unforgettable vacation experience, we would definitely suggest booking a trip to Bermuda as soon as you can.

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The best festivals in Bangkok

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Thailand’s capital is among the most sought-after and revered cities in the world. It has played a big role in history and popular culture, and visiting remains an informative and educational experience. A hodgepodge of stunning architecture, vibrant customs, and deep character, this is the kind of city we long to get lost in now and again. Discovering this diverse city lets you enjoy everything that’s great about Asia all in one location.

One of the best things about Bangkok is how seriously they take their Asian culture and heritage. This is explored and celebrated in the form of parades, festivals, and holy days scattered across the year. These are a real treat if you happen to be in the city at the right time – and are well worth a look. We’ve picked out a selection of the best festivals in Bangkok that you need to make sure you get yourself to.

Songkran

Every year, during the hottest month (April) there is a week of festivities to celebrate New Year. It’s kind of a surreal experience celebrating the new year in April, and it’s even stranger because the streets empty, and it becomes traffic free. You’ll catch residents having friendly water fights, not to mention the fact that there is much dancing and street performing. This is a cool, fun, and slightly odd festival, but we definitely suggest you bring a water pistol and join in the fun.

Chinese New Year

This is a time for all the Chinese-Thai people to come together in celebration for a week in late January. This is perhaps the stand out festival we would recommend during your stay here, and really allows you to enjoy the blend of traditional Asian cultures. Expect lots of dancing, dragon parades, fireworks, and other performers. Don’t expect to find many businesses open during this time – it’s seen as a time of rest and relaxation.

Loy Krathong

Okay, this one is a little more culturally significant to the Thai people, which makes it one of the most important festivals in Bangkok. Taking place on the night of November’s first full moon, the festival sees people sending decorated floats into the water as an offering to the gods. This is supposed to help fight against bad luck and make for a more prosperous year. If you’re interested in observing this beautiful, traditional festival, we suggest checking with your hotel the best place to observe.

 

International Festival of Music & Dance

Anyone who is a culture vulture needs to attend this excellent festival, usually beginning in mid-September, where you can enjoy the very best music and dancing. The festival brings together some of the best music from around the country, and you’ll even be able to enjoy fun and quirky acts, such as a Michael Jackson tribute act! Check out ticket prices in advance, as they can vary a lot.

Bangkok is a city with such rich culture and diverse celebrations, and you should get on board with that. There are loads of wicked festivals happening here throughout the year, and these are just a snapshot of some of the best. We reckon that you need to check out at least one of these when you travel to Bangkok.

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Five gorgeous short hikes in Europe

The ‘man who hiked the world’ is an Instagrammer from London who travels the globe in search of great walking routes. Here he picks his favourites in Europe, all under five hours

• Tell us about your favourite easy hikes in Europe in the comments below

Each of these five short hikes is an introduction to a stunning part of Europe away from well-trodden hiking trails. All the walks can be completed in a few hours and the paths are well signposted.

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Exploring Auckland

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Auckland is the beating heart of New Zealand’s North Island, and a place of stunning natural majesty. If you have never been to New Zealand, and you’re planning a trip now, you need to make Auckland a priority city for your visit. There are plenty of iconic things to see and do when you hit the tarmac in Auckland, and we recommend trying to see as much as you possibly can.

We understand that most of your New Zealand adventure is likely to be taken up with Middle Earth-ing it around the locations in Lord of the Rings, and we can’t say we blame you! But, if you need a change of scenery from Hobbiton, head to Auckland and have an explore. An adventure here holds so much promise, and these are some of the things we recommend you do.

Head for Waitakere Ranges National Park

20 miles from downtown Auckland is this stunning national park contains an unprecedented 40,000 acres of wildlife, woodland, and beachfront. Hiking and biking are the order of the day here, and two of the best beaches here include Piha and Whatipu, as well as magical waterfall Fairy Falls. There is plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy, and the stunning surroundings are ideal for travelers to the city. You can drive to the park, and the admission is free, so this is something you need to do.

Glow Worm Caves

Okay, no we’re talking, this is one of the most breathtaking sights you will ever see. Head to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves to see this natural wonder. These tiny creatures can only be found in New Zealand, and the caves are beautiful enough as it is. When you add the glow worms in, you get a stunning, subterranean marvel. You can take a boat part of the tour where you have to be quiet, but this is one of those life-changing things you will only ever get to experience here.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

We think that, when you’re traveling, you simply have to check out the art and culture of the city you’re in. Auckland Art Gallery is an excellent, informative, and fascinating gallery, filled with local artwork, and some excellent exhibitions. There are more than 16,000 art pieces on display in this amazing gallery, and there is a stunning Maori display here as well. The gallery is open daily, and it is free to visit, so make sure you get down there and discover some of the finest artwork in the country.

Auckland is the city that has everything. If you want sprawling, lush greenery there’s plenty of it here. If you want a sophisticated and contemporary urbanscape, you’ll find it here. And, if you want some subterranean delights, you’ll also find them in Auckland. There is such a range to choose from that you can’t help but fall in love with the beauty and stunning opportunity here in Auckland. Exploring Auckland is one of the most fun and interesting things to do, and it’s one of the best cities we’ve ever visited.

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36 hours in Shanghai

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As the largest city in China, Shanghai is one of the most developed and progressive cities around the globe. Full of glamor, opulence, and a truly awe-inspiring skyline, Shanghai is regularly cited as being the economic and financial hub of China. It’s seen as a city of excess and wealth, but, beneath the surface, there is something more than that as well.

In the past, the city was never seen as being any kind of center for culture, but that’s beginning to change. In fact, Shanghai is one of the best travel destinations around the globe these days, and no longer simply a place of wanton excess. The city has undergone a reformation in recent years to make it more appealing to a wider range of tourists. So, let’s have a look at how we might choose to spend 36 hours in Shanghai.

Ride the world’s fastest train

If you want to feel super-modern (and why wouldn’t you, you’re in China?!) you should pencil in some time to take a ride on the Maglev. This amazing invention is officially the fastest train in the world, and you can catch it from Pudong Airport to the city center – it moves at 270 mph, and is the best way to get into the mindset of the ultra-modern Shanghai. This is the perfect way to kick off your adventure in Shanghai in style.

Head to Museum Mile

Shanghai has historically been a city low on green space and art, and they have gone some way toward trying to rectify this by building Museum Mile. This comes complete with a riverside park and is situated in the district of West Bund. Some of the places you have to check out along the Museum Mile include ShanghART, a free gallery with work from emerging artists, and Yuz Museum, the center of cultural awakening for the city. There are so many museums and galleries to choose from, and they really show how much Shanghai has developed in the past few years.

Go to dinner somewhere unforgettable

One thing that has always been true of Shanghai is that it has been a wonderful city for is food. There is a plethora of stunning, sumptuous, glitzy restaurants and backstreet eateries. It’s a smorgasbord of culinary delight and delectation the likes a which you will not find anywhere else in the world. There are loads of celebrity chefs who have made their mark in the city, but, we would highly recommend that you check out Paul Pairet’s super-glamorous Ultraviolet. However, if money doesn’t grow on trees for, you may wish to go for something a little less expensive – Lin Long Fang, the famed dumpling house is unbeatable for this.

A spot of shopping

The good thing about shopping in Shanghai is that you can combine the shopping experience with some stunning sightseeing as well. Head for the famous Nanjing Road, a bustling hotpot of Chinese commerce, where you can find retailers from all over the world. This is the Chinese equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue, only with (we think) better architecture, and more stunning buildings.

Shanghai is a mythical, magical metropolis of opulence, beauty, and wealth. However, it has also gone to great lengths to ensure that people are able to explore the cultural and artistic side of the city as well. This giant city has so much variety, and it will be impossible for you to do everything. But, we do hope that these highlights will provide you with some inspiration for your own visit.

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Mountains of the moon: climbing Uganda’s highest peak

The remote Rwenzori mountains, on the Uganda/DRC border, offer treks through varied and stunning landscapes, and Africa’s third-highest summit, with none of the crowds found at Kilimanjaro

Claudius Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman mathematician, astronomer and father of geography, called the Rwenzori range the Mountains of the Moon, and I think he got it about right. Starlight beamed down on the convex glaciers surrounding our camp near Uganda’s western border, causing them to glow like resting lunar crescents.

I should have been sleeping the night before my attempt on the Rwenzori’s loftiest peak, 5,109-metre Mount Stanley’s summit, Africa’s third-highest mountain, but altitude headaches kept me awake. I thought back to a similar sleepless night at Kilimanjaro some years earlier. I remembered then feeling sure I would succeed, and when summit day came, I duly trudged along in a torchlight procession to the top, one of 50,000 climbers who attempt Kilimanjaro each year.

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Great tips for traveling with the kids

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Traveling with kids can be a pain sometimes. No argument there. But, it doesn’t have to ruin your vacation, and you can still have a great time even with your kids in tow. Some people dread the idea of flying with kids or even going away on a family vacation. We totally get where you’re coming from, but there’s no need to worry too much – you can still have a wonderful time of things.

Now, you have probably read a load of information or advice about traveling with kids in the past, and a lot of it can be overwhelming. What you want is the basics – you need to ensure that you get clear and concise information that can help you. So, listen up, here are some of our favorite tips for traveling with the kids.

Bring some entertainment

Children get bored. It’s a fact. There is no way around it. They especially get bored when they are having to spend a long time traveling, and they’re away from their toys for a long period of time. So, in order to make your life easier, and prevent potential chaos, it’s a good idea to pack some entertainment. If it’s a long car journey – perhaps an audiobook is the way to go. If you’re on a plane, you should think about books, a tablet, and other forms of entertainment. It will be a godsend, and you’ll be glad you did.

Plan ahead

Your days of spontaneous travel are over now that you have kids, and it’s important to keep that in mind. You need to make sure you plan everything as early as you possibly can, and ensure that everything is booked and sorted out well in advance. Spontaneity is fine when you’re younger, but it can lead to chaos and disorganization, and that is not going to go down well when you have kids.

Pack for the climate

When you go away, you mustn’t forget that there is a chance that the climate will not be the same as what you are used to. It could be hotter, colder, or somewhere around the same, you never know. So, you need to do your homework and make sure you check out the climate before traveling; that way you can keep the kids comfortable and make sure you have plenty of clothes for them to wear during the trip.

Stay in an apartment

Since Airbnb made it to the big-time, the idea of staying in a home or an apartment has become more popular. People are forgoing hotels in favor of apartments, and this makes a lot of sense if you have children. For one thing, there is much more space for the family, as well as facilities to make meals if needed. It also means there is a high likelihood of washing facilities so you can do laundry – an essential luxury you wouldn’t have in a hotel room.

When you travel with kids, you are undertaking a potentially chaotic situation, but you can make it better. It’s wonderful to be able to travel and show your children the world at a young age, but you need to be prepared. It’s a break from routine for the kids, and you have to be clever with it, so you keep them entertained and calm – use our tips to help you accomplish this.

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The hidden spot of Central America – traveling in Nicaragua

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Sitting between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, on the cusp of South America, is the Central American island of Nicaragua. This is a part of the world that is frequently visited, but it’s only the major nations that generally get a look in. In fact, you probably don’t know of anyone who has traveled to Nicaragua or is planning to travel there, and that’s a shame because this is a pretty amazing place.

But, everyone else’s loss becomes your gain, because there is a load of fantastic reasons to visit Nicaragua right now. This hidden spot of Central America is one that is still relatively unblemished by excessive tourism, and that’s what makes it the ideal place to head to right now! If you want to uncover the charm of this Central American gem, we suggest you check out these awesome things to do when you visit the best-kept secret in the Americas.

Go surfing in San Juan del Sur

It might surprise you to learn that Nicaragua is actually one of the best countries in the world for surfing. In fact, the famed San Juan del Sur beaches have some of the best waves in the world and are hugely popular with surfers. Not only are the beaches stunning, but they also give a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the best surfing opportunities in the world. You can even hire a board and have a lesson, and there are plenty of cheap bars and cool hostels here as well.

Ometepe Island

This stunning island was formed by two joined volcanoes and is a place of great aesthetic beauty. There is so much you can do here, including hiking, kayaking, and cycling, not to mention the fact that the place is full of healthy eating opportunities as well. Volcano hikes will set you back just $ 20USD and are well worthwhile, but they will take a while, so leave plenty of time. There are also some cool monkeys here that are really fascinating and mischievous, and give you something else to enjoy as well.

New Leon

If you are a culture vulture, and you prefer to stay in the more urbanized areas, a visit to New Leon will go down a treat. This used to be the capital of Nicaragua up until the mid-1850s when it was replaced with Managua. Leon is the cultural and intellectual hub of the country, with the National University based there, not to mention loads of museums, art galleries, and churches. A true highlight of any trip to Nicaragua, this is a city full of vibrant culture, and a tremendous food scene to go with it.

Visit the Stone Man

It’s always good to have new experiences, especially ones that are specific to the place you’re visiting. One of the great things you can do as a tourist in Nicaragua is to visit the Stone Man. This guy, Alberto Gutierrez, has been carving symbols and animals into stone for decades – he claimed it started as a message from God to help him kick alcoholism. Alberto will take you into his home and show you his stunning works free of charge – though we’d recommend giving him a donation.

These are just some of the amazing highlights of Nicaragua, and we hope you can see the appeal. This is one of the finest countries in the world to visit, and still a well-kept secret from much of the world. There is a lot natural, scenic beauty here, as well as plenty of interest to keep you occupied. Nicaragua could well become your new favorite vacation destination – discover her today.

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Why Tulum should be your next vacation

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Ah, Mexico. The undiscovered gem. Mexicans have brought so much to the world, and influenced other cultures, that it’s about time we appreciated and discovered their culture firsthand. Sure, you might be sick of sombreros, tacos (why?!), and tequila, but these are just scratching the surface of the real Mexico. You need to dig deeper, to be more unique and original with your choices. Basically, you need Tulum.

You likely won’t have heard of this stunning resort town on the East coast of Mexico, but, we defy you to forget it in a hurry. Tulum is unique among resort towns because this one sits on a walled Mayan archaeological site – cool huh?! This means you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to breathtaking sites and a link to history that is simply unbreakable. Check out these awesome reasons why Tulum should be your next vacation spot.

The beaches

Tulum has some of the best beaches in all of Mexico – in fact, Playa Paraiso is arguably the finest beach in the country, with sparkling sand and clear blue waters. If you are a beach bum, you will feel right at home here, and there will be plenty of places you can visit while you’re here too. The beaches are so idyllic that they are a worth a visit for the view alone, and that means it has plenty to offer even to those who aren’t lovers of sand and sea.

Mind-blowing cenotes

Cenotes are the name given to natural pits or sinkholes that form in the earth, and they can create some incredibly striking scenes. Tulum has some of the best cenotes we’ve seen in the country, and they are hugely popular with tourists. You simply have to visit at least one of these majestic sinkholes, and going for a swim in the cool waters is the ideal remedy to fight against the heat of the afternoon sun. Check out the cenotes around where you are staying and see which ones are best.

The food is out of this world

We all love Mexican food, right? Especially if we enjoy spices. The great thing is that in Tulum you don’t get the generic choices as you might in, say, Mexico City. Whether you’re after seafood or vegetarian options, this is, without question, the best place to be. There is something to suit all tastes here, and some of the restaurants are spectacular. However, bear in mind that almost all restaurants and bars here are cash only. You can pay in Mexican pesos or US dollars, but make sure you have money with you when you go out for dinner.

See the Mayan ruins

It’s not just beaches, cenotes, and delicious food on offer here, there are also some sensational Mayan ruins to explore as well. The Tulum Ruins give an insight into ancient Mexico and show us how incredible this country is. The ruins are supremely beautiful and tell a fascinating story that deserves to be discovered by all. Try to get there early to avoid the crowds, and ensure you get the best photo opportunities.

If you’re looking for a Mexico with a difference, Tulum is certainly the place to be. You get to enjoy the relaxed social side of a beach vacation, while at the same time absorbing some incredible culture and sampling magnificent food. We can’t wait to return to this Mexican paradise as soon as possible.

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Pilots explain when to worry during a flight

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So many of us fly when we go on vacation, and this has become more popular in recent times. However, despite it statistically being the safest way to travel, many people still have a fear of taking to the skies. It might seem daft to the rest of us, but a phobia of flying is actually a real thing, and this is something that can stop people from getting out and seeing the world.

It might seem like fear of flying is irrational, but for some people, it’s a really debilitating fear. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we knew what to expect, and when we should actually be worrying? Well, the good news is that some pilots, experts in the air, have decided to share their inside knowledge, and put our minds at ease. So, here are some of the most common worries we have, and whether or not they are actually anything to worry about.

Turbulence

This is the main fear that a lot of passengers have when it comes to flying, and it’s also perhaps the most common occurrence. To put it bluntly, turbulence is perfectly normal and should be expected during a flight. The vast majority of the time it’s nothing to do with the plane, and everything to do with the weather, or cloud cover. Through all of human history, only one plane has ever crashed as a result of turbulence, but that’s it. Besides, pilots are not permitted to fly if the conditions are too treacherous, so this is not something you need to worry about.

Engines cutting out

We reckon this one might be a fear that’s been compounded by movies showing engines cutting out a lot. And actually, the engine cutting out doesn’t mean a huge amount anyway – you will still remain in the air, as the plane will glide on its own. The plane will still soar, much like a bicycle will continue to move after you stop pedaling. This is nothing to fret over, and you need to make sure you don’t worry so much, especially about something that has a highly improbable chance of actually happening.

Smoke in the cabin

Okay, we can definitely understand why this one would be so alarming. But, before you go into complete meltdown, let’s consult the experts. Smoking in the cabin might point to a fire, but that is actually really, really unlikely. The most common cause of this is a broken seal that keeps fumes out of the air-conditioning or oil leaking. Either way, these things are nothing to get too concerned about, despite how they might look. It may not smell or look pleasant, but it’s almost never anything to worry about.

We understand that being on a plane can be daunting because you are not in control of anything. We also understand that certain issues seem like they’re going to head toward a worst-case scenario. But, most of the time, the things you’re freaking out about on a flight are things you don’t need to worry about at all.

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Why to book a flight for early morning

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Booking the right kind of flight is essential for getting your vacation off to a good start. You don’t want to have to deal with stress, panic, and all the other issues that generally come with taking a flight. That’s why you’ve got to be sure you do what you can to choose the best flight to suit your circumstances. Being stuck in an airport, or having a canceled flight can make the holidays a really miserable time of year.

So, the thing to do is to come up with excellent ways of ensuring the flying experience goes off as well as possible. And, one of the oldest tricks in the book is to make sure you book and catch a flight for the early morning. Sure, you’ll have to get up earlier, but the advantages to doing this far outweigh the disadvantages and will help make your vacation experience much better. These are some of the awesome benefits of booking an early morning flight.

Less chance of cancellation

The major positive for booking an early morning flight these days is that there is a much smaller chance of cancellation. In fact, studies have shown us that early morning flights are also less likely to experience delays than afternoon and evening flights. The best time to fly is before 8am, whereas the risk of delays only grows every hour before reaching its peak at around 6pm. This is widely regarded to be a result of uncrowded airspace, and less of a backlog of planes waiting to take off.

More time at your destination

One of the things we love the most about catching an early flight is that it leaves more time at your destination venue. Think about it, when you get to your location on an evening flight, you only get the first night and the rest of the trip. And that first night you could well be jet-lagged, worn out, and not feeling very sociable. It’s often a write-off. However, if you arrive there in the late morning or early afternoon you will get at least half a day extra, and this can make all the difference when it comes to the length and enjoyment of your stay.

It will be a smoother flight

It should come as no surprise that early morning flights are significantly smoother and more appealing than those later in the day as well. There is less turbulence in the sky earlier in the morning, and the chance of thunderstorms is much less. You also have to factor in that there are going to be fewer people in the airport, which means it will be less busy, and you’re not going to have to deal with the chaos of having too many people. If you can’t stand crowds, this is definitely the best time of the day to fly – and, as if that wasn’t enough, you also have the benefit of paying less for flights because they are earlier.

Booking a flight for the right time is imperative for helping you get the most out of your vacation. There are so many things that can go wrong when you are going to fly to your chosen destination, but, by booking a flight as early as possible, you will be able to avoid this. There are so many plus points to early travel, and you have to ensure you are catching the earliest flight you can.

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What to do in Barbados

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Fancy a change? Interested in something unique and stunning? If you like adventure, the place to visit is the Caribbean island of Barbados. This British Commonwealth nation is one of the most beautiful in the world and offers so much to travelers. They have an excellent culture and wonderful history and customs here, and it’s the ideal place to visit for a unique and unforgettable experience.

Barbados is the ideal vacation spot for active travelers; not only does it have wonderful sightseeing opportunities, but there are also some excellent activities available too. Loads of golf courses and some pretty great sporting events mean that this is an essential island for those who enjoy an active vacation. But, there are plenty of other amazing sightseeing and touristy things to do as well – here are some of the best things to do in Barbados.

Hunte’s Gardens

If you love the stunning opulence of a colorful and beautiful garden, this is the place to be. Owned by horticulturist Anthony Hunte, the garden is one of the most striking and eye-catching in the country. We recommend you take your time here, and really go all out to make sure you experience it properly. Why not take a picnic to enjoy in the grounds, and gaze at the stunning wildlife here as well? The gardens are open from 9am daily, and we suggest you get there as early as possible to beat the rush.

Harrison’s Cave

One of the most well-known and popular attractions in the country is Harrison’s Cave, and you’re about to discover why. This magical, otherworldly limestone cave looks like it should be pressed between the pages of a storybook. With stalactites and stalagmites dominating the floors and ceiling of the cave, it’s a visually stunning spectacle. This must-see attraction offers some wonderful guided tours so you can make the most of visiting this natural beauty.

Bathsheba Beach

You can’t visit a place like Barbados without checking out one of the stunning beaches they have here. And Bathsheba Beach must rank among the best of the beaches in the country. Located on the west coast, it is well known for its stunning rock formations and scenic photography spots. Also, for those interested in being a little more active, there is some amazing surf at this beach at the legendary Soup Bowl as well, so don’t forget to bring your board with you. This is definitely a great beach to travel, and there are some stunning rock pools to check out as well.

Mount Gay Visitors Center

For those rum aficionados out there, a visit to the Mount Gay Visitors Center is an opportunity you can’t pass up. There is so much to see here, and you can find out all about the history of Mount Gay, as well as enjoying a selection of different tours. We would recommend you try out the lunch tour, and this will give you transportation from your hotel. This is an absolutely essential tour and one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have in Barbados.

So, now you’ve seen some of the amazing things you can do here, it’s time to book your next flight to Barbados as soon as you can. There are so many wonderful things that deserve to be explored here, and this list offers merely a snapshot of those amazing things.

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Taos, New Mexico: a road trip of highs and pueblos

Snowboarders love the unpisted gullies of Taos, in New Mexico. Off the slopes, the region’s adobe villages offer an insight into Native American culture and a chance to support local communities, as our writer discovers on a road trip

In the biting cold of the dark, incense-scented St Jerome chapel, tour guide Francisco Velarde, or “Flying Hawk” in his native Tiwa language, is explaining his people’s history to a small audience of tourists huddled in pews in their ski jackets. His ancestors, the “red willow people”, have lived here in Taos Pueblo for 1,000 years, he says, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the US; an unusually successful revolt made them the only tribe to never be displaced on to a reservation. It’s a fascinating history, especially from the mouth of this passionate, streetwise student, part of Native American hiphop group Po.10.Cee, which has 27 albums to its name.

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Cruising through the galapagos islands

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The Galapagos Islands are a truly stunning part of the world, and really a cruise is the only way to see them. You’ve got to make sure you have the best access to the amazing sights, sounds, and scenery of this stunning Pacific archipelago. Now, the good news is that there are several different cruise options you can choose to be a part of. You’re going to want several days on the water to really make the best of the time you have.

There is nothing worse than going somewhere this iconic and visually stunning, and not being able to experience all of it properly. That’s why you need to make sure you plan your route properly, and that you choose the best possible cruise for all of you to take part in. These are some of the great Galapagos cruises you can be a part of right now.

Small Galapagos Cruises

These are perfect if you want a more intimate trip, with significantly fewer people. It will be much less busy, and would actually be perfect if you’re planning to go with a big group of friends. These smaller boats often carry fewer than 20 passengers, meaning the service is much more personal. Transfers will be a lot quicker, and there is much less waiting around, though the facilities may be more cramped, and you might not have the atmosphere you do with crowds. Some of the ships you should check out for this cruise include the Quasar M/Y Grace Motor Yacht, and the Ecoventura M/Y Letty.

Medium Galapagos Cruises

The medium sized cruise ships can take between 20 and 50 passengers, and these are probably the ideal size for those interested in a fun, exciting, and unforgettable cruise experience. Medium is what we would recommend because you get the balance between small and large. Ships like the National Geographic Islander and Celebrity Xperience rank among the best medium cruise ships for Galapagos tours. They have plenty of amenities, and the food and drinks are included in the cost – perfect for families and couples who are traveling.

Large Galapagos Cruises

If you really want to go all out, you need to make sure you go for one of the large cruises. These are designed for up to 100 passengers, and take place on some of the most luxurious ships on the ocean. These larger cruise ships are more crowded but essential for those who are social butterflies – so make sure you choose one of these if that’s your scene. Sure, it takes longer, but it can also be more rewarding. Ships like Santa Cruz II and Silver Galapagos are among the finest in the sea, and definitely worth checking out when you get the chance.

If you want an unforgettable cruise through the Galapagos Islands, you have to make sure you do as much as you can to make the most of it. This involves choosing the right ship, and picking how long you want your cruise to be. Enjoy something leisurely, and take your time to make the process as memorable as possible. The good news is that there are different options to suit whatever your cruise preference is, and to make the trip an enjoyable and unforgettable one.

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A trip to Dordogne

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What we love about France is that it is one of the most diverse nations in the world in terms of geography. With the delightful cobbled streets, winding back alleys, and rustic wine taverns of places like Bordeaux, to the contemporary, sprawling cityscapes of Paris and Marseille, France has everything. It’s this, coupled with the stunning cuisine and amazing culture that makes it a must for tourists everywhere. Vive le France!

But, there’s one part of France that is untouched by so many of us. One area of the country that so few of us have ever set foot in. Nestled in Southwestern France, between the Pyrenees and the Loire Valley, we find the magical department (that’s what they call it) or Dordogne. Now, sit back and prepare to be wowed as we take an unforgettable trip through Dordogne.

Slow it down

The first thing you’re going to notice here is a much more relaxed way of life; there isn’t that mad rush to do things that you might have in the city. And this is important, because a place like Dordogne is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Head to the small village of Limeuil, where time seems to stand still, and gaze down the hill at the stunning Panoramic Gardens, and the crossing of the rivers Dordogne and Vezere.

Get some Roman infusion

We highly recommend you head to the old Roman town of Perigueux, and enjoy some of the great culture on display here. There is a traditional farmer’s market here every Wednesday and Saturday, and you absolutely must attend for some stunning local produce. There are also the shimmering white domes of Perigueux Cathedral and absolutely stunning work of architecture and opulence. The Byzantine beauty dates back to 1669 and is an absolutely essential sight for visitors.

Truffle shuffle!

One of the things we love best about Dordogne is the delicious delicacies on offer here. Travel just 20 minutes north of Perigueux to the town of Sorges. Here you will find some of the freshest and most delectable truffles anywhere in the world. In fact, there is even a truffle museum here, where you can find out all about their legendary fresh truffles. You might even want to buy some, as they are sold all year round. This is a unique experience that you won’t get to have anywhere else in the world.

Bergerac

No, we’re not talking about the ‘80s BBC detective series starring John Nettles – though that was rad. Bergerac is a small, medieval commune in Dordogne, and it’s famed for our favorite French thing – wine! There are two exquisite vineyards rising high above, and, yes, you can do tastings. If you head for the famed House of Wines, there are 13 different types of wine you can try during your tasting.

So, though this is just a small sliver of what makes Dordogne so great, you can see that it has plenty to offer. This stunning department in the south of France offers everything great about this region of the country. It’s the perfect vacation spot for anyone wanting to discover more about France, and uncover the secrets of its hidden treasures.

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The best hotel bars

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If you’re anything like us, when it comes to picking a hotel, your first focus will be on the rooms. But, number two will be the hotel bar. This is such an important aspect of the hotel, and essential for socializing and making merry. We think it’s vital that a hotel has a great bar, and we always take this into consideration when we look at choosing the right hotel.

So, what is it that makes the perfect hotel bar? Well, this is a question that is largely subjective, but, there are certain factors that are total musts. For one thing, there has to be a great selection of drinks available. Second, there needs to be some great seating and socializing areas – oh, and some good food wouldn’t go amiss either. Here are some of the world’s finest hotel bars for a bit of inspiration.

The NoMad at The NoMad Hotel – New York

This opulent and visually stunning establishment has some of the best drinks in the whole of New York. The hotel is terrific as well, but the bar is worth a visit even if you aren’t staying in the hotel. This is the best place to come for drinks in the Big Apple, and there are so many different and delicious cocktails to choose from. The decor is also classic New York, with green booth seats, and ambient lighting. There are few hotel bars in the world that can match up to this one.

Manhattan Bar at the Regent Hotel – Singapore

Sometimes you want a dose of Asian culture, architecture, and hospitality, and that’s what you get from the Manhattan. Singapore’s best bar has also been voted as Asia’s best bar, and we can definitely understand why. The inside is decorated in glossy, gorgeous, art deco style, and brilliantly echoes both the old and new Asia. But, at the same time, as the name implies, the bar is heavily influenced by the old speakeasies of 19th Century Manhattan. This is a real gem of a bar just itching to be discovered.

The American Bar at The Savoy – London

Named as the best bar in Europe, and the world, The American Bar gives you everything you could possibly want. If you’re ever in London, it’s essential that you take a trip to The Strand, and check out this five-star establishment. The bar was one of the first to introduce American cocktails to Europe, and, for that reason, it holds a place in the history books. The bar is elegant, stunning, and has a comprehensive drinks menu. Perfect!

These are just a few of the best hotel bars in the world. Each of them has something that sets them apart from the crowd and makes them an essential watering hole for anyone visiting the city. Guests at the hotel will be able to enjoy the elegance and hospitality of these hotels, and those who aren’t guests will still be able to visit for drinks. Make sure you sample these amazing hotel bars if you get the chance; it will be an unforgettable experience for you.

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The appy wanderer: smartphone walking in our cities’ green spaces

Go Jauntly is a new walking app that uses photographs rather than maps to guide users on routes around woods and byways. We put it to the test in south London

The business of social walking is setting off into a largely unexplored area of navigation. A community-based group in the wooded hinterlands of south-east London has developed a system in which the conventional map of coloured lines and contour patterns has been replaced by photographs of the way ahead.

An app created for the purpose leads walkers from starting point to finish by means of a chain of photos, each image taking over from where the previous one leaves off. This means that in a stroll of, say, two hours, there will be between 20 and 40 guiding pictures. The group is called Go Jauntly and it is run by Hana Sutch and Steve Johnson, both of whom have careers in interactive design; more importantly, both have young children, whose energy and curiosity they wanted to channel into an exploration of the outdoor world.

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The ancient passageway that was found under a Mayan temple

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The Maya civilization was one of the most breathtaking in the world, and full of lots of fascinating secrets, history, and myths. With each passing year we continue to learn more and more about the Mayans, and the legacy they left behind. We have often held the Egyptians in the highest regard for being such a fascinating and mysterious civilization.; remember secret passageways that were found in the pyramids? Well, now things are a little different because the Mayans are doing their bit to snatch the crown from the Egyptians.

Recently we read about a passageway that had been found underneath an ancient Mayan snake God temple. So far so normal, right? These civilizations had thousands of temples, and we reckon each of them probably has some kind of tunnel or passageway underneath it. But, this one is really fascinating, and we couldn’t wait to find out more.

The temple

The temple itself was known as Kukulcan Temple and was an edifice thought to have been built sometime between the 9th and 12th Century. The location in which it was built was also home to several underground water caverns that provided a lot of natural space underneath the temple. However, a recent discovery has been made that shows there may be more to this than we originally thought there was. A new tunnel has been discovered beneath this 98-foot monument, and it’s thought it could lead to a subterranean sinkhole.

The tunnel

We never actually knew the tunnel was there initially, and it was only recently discovered using a type of x-ray imaging. The tests, carried out by a group from UNAM in Mexico, has led to further research by a team from the Great Mayan Aquifer Project. They discovered the entrance to the subterranean sinkhole (or cenote as it’s known) within the ossuary room, which once acted as a tomb of sorts. They managed to make their way up the secret tunnel for a certain way before they came across a blockade. It is considered probable that the Mayans caused the blockage themselves, and that an amazing discovery would be made by removing it.

Possible reasons

Well, much of this site remains a mystery, even with this discovery. But, we know that the temple was erected as a tribute to the Mayan God Kukulcan. This deity is linked to human sacrifice and a cult, and this could be one of the links when it comes to explaining the usage and purpose of the tunnel. Efforts to produce a 3D map of the site are underway, and this will likely reveal more about the area and the specific site. This stunning feat of geology and archaeology surely has plenty more secrets to reveal.

Exploring ancient sites is always fun and exciting, and you never know how much new stuff is going to be revealed as a result. Understanding more about ancient civilizations is essential for helping us work out how they lived, as well as the legacies they have left behind. There are so many excellent things to consider, and these often take a long time to unearth. Let’s hope the further explorations and excavations yield some positive results.

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What is so unique about this island?

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The Caribbean is pretty darn awesome, right? Where else do you get to enjoy the best weather in the world, swim in clear blue oceans, and sip on the most divine cocktails known to man?! The Caribbean regularly ranks on the lists of so many intrepid travelers, but where to go? There’s so much choice; in fact, there’s almost too much choice. But, there is one Caribbean island that we feel stands out above the rest.

The island in question is Aruba! This might be an island you’ve heard of before, but you may never have been there. If you’re looking for the perfect way of escaping the cold weather and heading for more tropical climates, Aruba should be the first name on your lips. Of the thousands of islands in the Caribbean, this is the one that seems to sit a cut above the rest – we’re going to examine why.

It’s a small island

You might not think this is a decisive factor, but Aruba is actually much smaller than you might have thought. It’s only 19 miles long, and around 6 miles wide, and this makes it very easy to get around and travel to where you want to be. Public transport is readily available, and efficiently run, and you can even go for great walks without too much trouble. The fact that the island is small only adds to that intimate feeling and makes it seem like a much more homely location.

One of the safest islands

When you’re booking a vacation in the Caribbean, you have to think about potential dangers while you’re there. Plenty of hurricanes and tsunamis have hit tropical islands in the past few years, with all of them causing untold devastation and destruction. The good news about Aruba is that it is out of the hurricane zone, making it one of the safest island in the Caribbean, and keeping you shielded from the elements. The last thing you want to be doing on your vacation is worrying about hurricane survival plans!

It’s got that perfect balance

Now, we know that some people like the hustle and bustle of a tourist resort, full of lots of different people from all over the world. And we know that others prefer quieter and more serene vacations, where they get to spend more time relaxing. The great thing about Aruba is the fact that it allows you to enjoy either – Palm Beach for the busy resort, and Eagle Beach for those who want a quieter experience. No matter what your passion or interest is, you’re bound to find something in Aruba to satisfy you.

Super friendly

Some people worry when they travel abroad that the locals may not be friendly, or it might be dangerous for them to be out and about. However, Aruba is the exact opposite of this and is home to some of the friendliest and most accommodating locals in the Caribbean. The atmosphere is friendly and kind, and the locals speak a variety of languages, including English and Dutch – and the island was even nicknamed One Happy Island.

From looking at these points it’s easy to see why Aruba is so popular, and what has made it one of the most stunning and popular Caribbean destinations. If you’re looking for a wonderful tropical getaway, this island can offer you so much more than many of the other islands in the Caribbean are able to, and that’s what makes it so appealing.

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Traveling with children

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Traveling with kids is enough to fill anyone with a sense of dread and anxiety, and that’s just the parents! There’s also the concern of passengers being affected by the noise coming from your children, as well as the kids just generally causing havoc. We would all love to be able to take a journey with kids that was calm, peaceful, and serene, but that’s not always possible.

However, there are definite techniques and tactics that you can employ to help you enjoy the process much more. Remove the stress and anxiety, and try to make sure everything goes down without a hitch. Look, we get that there is often so much “advice” out there about traveling with kids, and it can sometimes be overwhelming. So, we’re going to look at some of the most simple and effective advice for traveling with children.

Involve everyone

The problem with family vacations is that they can be too childish for parents, ort too boring for kids. You want to try to accommodate everyone, but it can be difficult, believe us, we know. Now, there is something you can do to help sort the problem out, and that is to involve everyone. We don’t mean getting too many cooks involved, and all that sort of thing, but, you could let everyone choose an activity. That way each person will feel like they’ve been involved and will know they’re going to get an activity they want.

Allow a bit more freedom

Kids have to be kept on a tight leash, of course they do, but it’s vacation. It’s important to ease off and be more relaxed with some of the rules while you’re away. This shows kids that vacation time has a different dynamic, and it helps give them things to look forward to. Yes, you still need them to toe the line and do what they’re asked, but you can afford to ease up on them a little bit. This is important for ensuring that your children get to fully enjoy the trip and that everyone gets on as well as they can.

Try to keep a similar sleeping arrangement

It’s important that you don’t try to alter things too much when it comes to sleeping arrangements. If people are sharing it can wind up being a distraction at bedtime, especially if you have young kids in the family. This is one of the reasons why Airbnb and apartment rentals can be such a good idea – there are more rooms to go around. Some families prefer hotels, while others would rather use the apartment idea. Just try to make sure you aren’t changing things too much when it comes to bedtime systems.

Think about childcare

If you have young kids, you need to think about childcare in advance, and this might mean planning ahead. Some people have the luxury of having a family member come with them, but that might drive you mad! So, you might consider employing or hiring someone while you’re there to look after the kids. Some hotels and resorts have people especially for that purpose who you can hire to watch the kids. Just make sure you plan this in advance, and make sure you are happy with the arrangements.

Traveling with children can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be the arduous and stressful task it seems. By using the ideas in this post you will find family journeys much more tolerable, and you can ensure that everybody has a pleasant and memorable vacation.

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Buns and bright lights: the joys of Taiwan’s street food

Lured to south-east Asia by his love of Taiwanese squishy steamed bread, our writer finds a dazzling array of edibles on offer in Taipei’s markets

Bao, a tiny Taiwanese restaurant in London’s Soho (with outposts in Fitzrovia and Hackney), is a compelling advertisement for its country. Like a little culinary embassy, since 2014 it has been doling out soft power at reasonable prices to the endless queues at its door.

It specialises in gua bao, flat squishy discs of steamed bread, folded around whatever you care to put in them. Braised pork belly with coriander and ground peanuts is a traditional option, but almost anything works: deepfried daikon radish, stewed beef, spicy fried chicken. The bread is sweeter and more consistent than any western bun, and holds the fillings better. Even the word bao is a source of fascination. It even sounds like an expression of joy: bao!

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Exploring Louisiana

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Louisiana is one of the most beautiful and interesting states in the US. It has a cultural heritage that is blended with French, African, American, and Canadian cultures. And this is reflected in the Cajun and Creole cultures that permeate throughout the state. New Orleans, the capital, is one of the most intriguing and culturally diverse cities in the country, and definitely worth a visit.

If you’re planning a trip to Louisiana, you need to know in advance that this is not just any old state. There are things to experience here that you simply cannot find anywhere else in the United States. A true slice of the South, Louisiana is definitely a place you need to check out. Here are some things to see, and places to go, if you’ve made up your mind that you’re going to explore Louisiana.

Royal Street

This is one of the finest locations in Louisiana and is considered one of the great art hubs of the state. One of the most historical streets in New Orleans, the architecture here is second to none, and it’s the perfect place for photography enthusiasts. There are also a few art galleries here too, where you will be able to check out some of the great local art. Sculptures and paintings are on display, and there are some excellent galleries here to select from. This is also a wonderful location to do a bit of shopping, especially if you’re interested in picking up some antiques.

Rip Van Winkle Gardens

The Gardens is located at the top of a salt dome on Lake Peigneur, and spans 20-acres of colorful and picturesque grounds. These gardens are surrounded by the historic Joseph Jefferson Mansion, the perfect accompaniment to these amazing gardens. The mansion, built in 1870,  is well worth a visit in addition to the gardens. The great thing about these gardens is that they are always open to the public, and you can take a guided tour if you want, which we would recommend.

Laura Plantation

Louisiana has a deep history, and one of the links to the state is slavery and plantations. Though this is not a good thing, it’s important to remember, and that’s why it’s worth a visit. This sugarcane plantation is based around a 19th Century Creole mansion, as well as some stunning gardens. Plantations of this ilk played an important role in shaping not just the future direction of Louisiana, but of the entire United States as a whole.

Mardi Gras

Every year, Louisiana hosts the iconic Mardi Gras festival, one of the most important and fabulous events on the calendar. There is a massive parade, and street celebrations, along with a ball, food vendors, and stalls where you can buy things. This is a great event in the calendar for all Southerners, and one of the defining features of Louisiana. This is something that you will only get to do on an annual basis, so try to make sure you time your visit to coincide with Mardi Gras so you can get a proper celebration in.

These are just a few of the awesome things you can see and do in Louisiana. This is the most wonderful of states and an amazing place to get a true slice of Southern America. So much of importance took place here, and it’s vital to try to get a flavor for that. Check out these awesome things to do when exploring Louisiana.

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Estonia – the baltic gem

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A small Baltic country in northern Europe, simultaneously kissing the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, Estonia is one of the most mysterious nations in the world. This tiny country, made up of more than 1500 tiny islands, is one of the places we would recommend in the Baltic Sea over the more common ones. Sure, you might consider Finland, Iceland, or one of the Scandinavian nations. But, if you want magic, originality, and something a little more esoteric, Estonia is the choice.

The Jewel of the Baltic, Estonia has never been the most popular of destinations – in fact, you might struggle to think of someone who has visited. But, honestly, that’s even more reason to visit Estonia. The curiosity and allure of this charming, unassuming nation is something that has endeared it to thousands of visitors over the years, and now is your turn to learn why you need to pay a visit to Estonia.

It’s not a tourist hotspot… yet

What we love about this country is that it hasn’t yet been ruined by tourism. There are so many beautiful places in the world these days that are almost uninhabitable because they are full of tourists. Fortunately, Estonia seems to have remained immune so far, and this is a great reason to check it out. Even Tallinn, the capital city, looks like a medieval village and never has too many people passing through. Enjoy this majestic and friendly country before it becomes the trendy place to visit!

Wonderful history

Estonia has a wonderful history to it, with links to multiple other nations and cultures. In fact, the country was constantly under foreign rule until it gained its own independence in 1991. As a result, the nation has absorbed lots of different foreign cultures, so it’s a melting pot of lots of different European cultures. This can be seen throughout much of the architecture and the stunning buildings around the country. A journey around Estonia will give you a crash course in some of the most stunning European architecture. This is well worth taking the time to do, and you should take a camera out with you as well to snap these amazing buildings.

Jaw-dropping nature

Don’t think Estonia is just about amazing architecture and a blending of cultures, oh no. The country is also home to some of the most stunning nature we’ve ever seen. The countryside has some incredible wide open spaces that are simply breathtaking. There are five national parks here, with the most breathtaking being Lahemaa National Park. Stunning lakes, like Lake Peipus, also help to give the visual beauty an extra dimension – it’s undeniable that Estonia has some truly spectacular natural beauty and charm.

Food

You know how when you go abroad to a lot of places, the food can sometimes be hit or miss? Well, you don’t have to worry about that in Estonia – the food is on point! They eat a lot of pork and smoked fish here, with potatoes, cabbage, and plenty of game as well. Elk is also a big thing here, and it’s incredibly tasty, so we recommend trying it. Try to sample as much of the local food as you can to get a true taste of what Estonia is like, and what the locals enjoy.

Estonia is most definitely a Baltic gem and one that we can’t recommend enough. If you want a place that’s full of friendly locals, gorgeous natural scenery, a blending of interesting cultures, great history, and that’s not too full of tourists, it’s ideal. And, the great thing is that it’s not going to break the bank for you to visit either!

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The hidden secrets of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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When you think of the word paradise, your mind probably doesn’t immediately spring to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and why would it?! You most likely think of a small island in Greece or a golden beach on the coast of Spain. But, this is where you could be going wrong, because, in many ways, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the hidden paradise of Europe, and it’s been right under our noses all this time.

Nestled on the Balkan peninsula, Bosnia is a country full of a rich and varied history, and certainly one of the more interesting European nations because we don’t know much about it. Even more seasoned travelers would probably pass this proud nation right by, and may not even realize it exists in the first place. But, this gem is definitely one of the best-kept secrets in Europe, and a place you need to put at the top of your travel list, thanks to these hidden treasures.

Trebinje

Welcome to one of the best-kept secrets in the country – Trebinje is the southernmost town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s not very well-known, and most people wouldn’t be able to pick it out on a map. It’s a small but important town and is situated only 28km from the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. You should check out Trebinje properly by taking a walk to Arhangel Mihailo Church, a striking new church offering some exquisite views over the town, and the steep surrounding hills. There’s also the Trebišnjica River, which is home to the iconic Arslanagic Bridge – well worth a look if you’re a tourist.

Mostar

You might have heard of Mostar – it’s arguably the most culturally significant city in the entire country and a place you need to head to during your time here. It oozes charm and sophistication and is home to the UNESCO landmark the Stari Most. This is the old bridge in Mostar that is a stunning piece of Balkan Islamic architectures and has extreme cultural significance. Originally built in the 15000s, it was destroyed in the war and then rebuilt as an enduring emblem of unity for a nation so long divided.

Sarajevo

Okay, so it’s not so much a secret, as it is the capital city, but you can’t visit without a trip to Sarajevo. For some people it’s more famous for the U2 and Pavarotti song Miss Sarajevo, but, it’s also a hugely important city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one of the most interesting capitals we’ve visited. A broken city still recovering from a history of war, Sarajevo is in the process of healing itself. Check out the Tunnel of Hope, and the abandoned infrastructure from the 1986 Winter Olympics. Because of the number of synagogues and Orthodox churches here, Sarajevo is often called the Jerusalem of Europe – a walking tour of the city is definitely recommended.

So, now you’ve discovered some of the greatest secrets of this mysterious and beguiling country. And now you can see just what it is that makes Bosnia and Herzegovina one of the best-kept secrets, and most appealing destinations, in Europe. If you’re looking to expand your experiences, and get some more stamps in your passport, make sure you book a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as you can.

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The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds on Holiday review: sort of I’m a Child Get Me Out of Here

It’s Cyprus ahoy for the kids from the Channel 4 show but it’s not all sunshine and water slides, for while there may be chocolate spread for brekkie, there’s also squid tasting to be done. Yuck, sort of!

I’m watching The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds on Holiday (Channel 4) with a five year old and a three year old. Then tomorrow we’re going on holiday. Perfect, maybe we’ll get some tips.

Oh, they’ve got passports (still red, I’m already beginning to feel nostalgic about them). We won’t be needing those where we’re going.

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These countries will cost you the most to fly to

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When you choose countries for your next vacation, you’ll want to be looking at flights, and these can often swing your decision one way or another. There are so many different airlines to fly with, and they go to a multitude of different destinations. Comparing airfares is important because they will often change considerably depending on what day or time of year it is.

You want to know how much it’s going to cost to fly to a certain destination, as well as what the changes in price might be depending on season or airline. Everyone looking to book a vacation will have some kind of budget to work with, and it’s important to trey to stick with this as much as possible. So, let’s look at some of the most expensive countries in the world to fly to, so you can think about your budget carefully.

United Arab Emirates

It should come as no surprise to see Middle Eastern countries on this list. UAE is one of the fastest developing nations, full of lots of wealth and gentrification, and it has become an expensive nation to visit. It’s as ostentatious as it is grand, and much has been made of the over-the-top nature of many parts of the country, particularly Dubai. So, it’s not that much of a shock to discover that flights here are pretty expensive as well. Elevated airfares within the last couple of years have made this a pricey tourist destination.

Qatar

Qatar came to global attention a year or so ago when they won a controversial bid to host the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup Finals. Qatar is a very traditional nation, thought the capital Doha is growing and developing quickly. The country itself is not overly expensive to visit, as long as you go at the right time of year. However, airfares are actually very pricey, and they make this one of the more expensive countries to choose for a vacay, coming in at just shy of $ 54 per 100km.

Netherlands

The Netherlands is a really popular European destination, and it’s easy to see why. The land of windmills, tulips, and cycling is the perfect place for a vacation with family, friends, or on your own. Holland is the most popular province of the Netherlands, and certainly somewhere we would recommend. However, flights to the country are among the most expensive in the world, so be sure to factor that in. Luckily, once you arrive, they have a cheap and efficient public transport network to save costs.

Belgium

It might surprise you to know that Belgium is actually the most expensive nation in the world to fly to! You thought it was going to be somewhere in the Middle East, didn’t you? There is so much in Belgium for tourists to enjoy, from the food and drink to the architecture and geography. But, you might be concerned about the $ 54.63 per 100km airfares that make Belgium the world’s most expensive country to fly to.

These are the most expensive nations in the world to fly to so they might have to be crossed off the list if you can’t afford them. However, there might sometimes be alternatives, such as flying to a nearby country for much cheaper, and then either catching a connecting flight or making your way there through another mode of transport.

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Explore Seville

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Spain is a country with so much to offer the curious adventurer. There are plenty of stunning cities and places to visit that are full of wonderful history and tourism. Seville is undoubtedly one of the most amazing cities in the whole country. Tucked in the heart of the Andalusian region, Seville is one of the leading cities in Spain and has a wealth of experiences for travelers to enjoy and make the most of.

When you head to Spain, you need to make sure you spend a few days in Seville, soaking up the sun and enjoying the elegance of the Guadalquivir River. This important hub of culture and tourism in Spain is the perfect city to explore. It’s not as busy and frantic as Madrid, but it’s still an ideal choice for those looking for a rewarding city break. These are a few of the awesome things you should check out when exploring Seville.

Alcázar of Seville

One of the first places you simply have to check out is this amazing Islamic palace, built by the Moorish Muslim Kings. It is renowned as being one of the most breathtakingly beautiful palaces in Spain and is a wonderful example of Mudejar architecture. The site is also famous for being the oldest palace in Europe still in use. It is one of the most popular cultural attractions in the city, and you definitely need to make the time to go see it.

Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus is one of the most prominent and important figures in history due to his colonization of the United States. Though he was an Italian explorer, his tomb actually lies in the city of Seville – so this is a unique chance to visit the tomb of one of history’s most important figures. After he died in Valladolid, Columbus had his remains moved to Seville and kept at La Cartuja. They then made their way to the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, before finally being returned to Seville in 1898, and buried in the cathedral where they remain.

Flamenco

You’ve heard of flamenco dancing, right? Well, Seville is the home of flamenco dancing, so, while you’re exploring, you should definitely check some out. Flamenco has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, and there are numerous local establishments all through the city that offers a wonderful flamenco experience. This is one of those things that you can only enjoy properly in Seville, so you have to head to the Triana neighborhood, and make sure you take advantage of the experience, especially if there is a group of you.

Try some tapas

You’re in Spain, and you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t head out for some tapas. This is like coffee for Americans, it’s ingrained in the cultural fabric of Spain, and there are more than 4,000 delicious tapas bars dotted all around Seville. We recommend heading for Barrio Santa Cruz and choosing one of the authentic tapas joints here, while also soaking up some of the great atmosphere of modern Andalucia.

Seville is a stunning city, full of beautiful architecture, iconic dancing, delectable cuisine, and historical importance. It’s the best city in Spain you’ve never been to, and you need to change that today. If you’re looking for the full Spanish experience, and you want to make sure you have an unforgettable time, you need to head to Seville.

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Have you ever heard of the Hebrides?

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When you’re looking at places in Europe to visit, there is something for everyone. You might want golden beaches and marble hotels. Or, you might prefer to enjoy some stunning hills, valleys, mountains, castles, snow, and the ocean. If this sounds up your street, then Scotland is definitely the sort of place you need to visit. Now, you might not know this, but there’s a special place in Scotland called the Hebrides.

Ever heard the name? No? Well, in actual fact, there are two – the Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides. This Scottish archipelago is one of the most stunning places in the world, and certainly the most majestic place you’ve never heard of. It’s incredibly remote, lying off the west coast of mainland Scotland, and is accessible only by land or sea. Let’s find out a little more about the Hebrides, shall we?

History

The Hebrides have a long and fascinating history, dating back to Mesolithic times! There is also a big Norse and Celtic link here too, and these cultures have had a big impact on the people of the Hebrides. It has led to a great deal of diversity throughout both the Inner and Outer Hebrides, which is reflected in the naming of some of the islands and towns, not to mention the languages spoken. There is also a big source of Scottish Gaelic literature and music to be found in the Hebrides, making it an important part of Scotland’s culture.

There’s some great archaeology

As we mentioned before, the Hebrides has a rich and intriguing history, and archaeology plays a big role in this as well. This has led to there being a whole host of archaeological wonders here to appeal to people of all ages. Perhaps the most famous are the world-renowned Callanish Stones – think of them like the Hebridean equivalent of Stonehenge. These are definitely a must-see if you get the chance to visit. There is also the Clachan Bridge, known as the Bridge Over the Atlantic because it bridges the Clachan Sound, and connects the mainland of Scotland to islands.

It’s stunning

One of the biggest draws of the Hebrides is the fact that it is just simply stunning. The geography and climate contribute to what makes this the perfect place to visit. If you want to enjoy breathtaking natural beauty, a trip to the Hebrides will give you exactly what you crave. There are amazing caves, stunning ocean views, lush fields, majestic cliffs, and archaeological wonders. The scenery and surroundings here are simply breathtaking, and it’s a much more laid-back pace of life. In fact, this might even be the kind of place you decide you want to move to and live some day.

So, this is the last time you’re going to be able to say you haven’t heard of the Hebrides. Now you’re familiar with this collection of islands off the coast of Scotland, you’ll understand its cultural and historical heritage and significance. The next time you’re planning a trip to Scotland, make sure you take some time out to go visit the Hebrides.

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Readers’ best travel discoveries of 2017

From a Norwegian glacier to an exotic garden in Chennai, and from vegan burgers in Warsaw to a sherry bar in Madrid, readers share their holiday highlights

Looking for a walk to complete the day before tackling the mammoth Trolltunga hike in April, we decided on the trail to Buerbreen glacier. The starting point was a 20-minute drive from our base in Odda. The walk was brilliant: three hours of streams, rickety-looking bridges, ropes and scrambling brought us to the glacier. With the added beauty of having the trail to ourselves, this was a wonderful hike seemingly bypassed by those aiming for the famous Trolltunga rock shelf nearby. We stayed at Trolltunga Studios (doubles from £70): best value and location to hit the trails in this beautiful part of Europe.
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Everything you wanted to know about Tunisia

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Tunisia is one of the true gems of Africa – a country so often overlooked on the continent. From stunning, sandy, sun-kissed beaches, to ancient and powerful ruins, this is a country oozing with history and amazing natural beauty. The rolling dunes of the Sahara showcase some of the vast deserts in this great nation, but it also lies just on the edge of Europe as well – making it a nation of mixed cultures and customs.

You might not know a lot about Tunisia, and you might have never considered a visit, but we think all that should change. They say to fully appreciate and experience a country, you must first find out about it, and we can see the logic behind that statement. So, without wasting any more time, here is a list of some of the amazing things we guarantee you never knew about Tunisia.

It’s a democracy

You might not be aware of this, but Tunisia is actually a democracy! It is classed as a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic! Wow, try saying that five times fast, we dare you! In fact, by being so, Tunisia is actually the only Arab country in the world to be classed as a democracy. So, in a lot of ways, this makes it much more tourist friendly, and ties it better to Europe than most other Arab nations. Having said that, it is still a Muslim country, and you need to be prepared for that when you visit.

It’s a popular filming location

Now, there might be areas of Tunisia that seem strangely familiar to you. Like you’ve visited them before in a dream of some sort, and this is almost kind of true. What you’re recalling is the locations and settings you’ve seen in movies, because Tunisia is a popular filming location. Most notably, every Star Wars movie, with the exception of The Empire Strikes Back was filmed in Tunisia. That’s why, when you gaze around Tunisia, you get that feeling of being in a galaxy far, far away!

It was part of the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was huge, at one point spanning multiple continents, with designs to take over half the known world. Under the stewardship of multiple rulers, namely Julius Caesar, the Romans were fearsome in battle and conquered multiple nations, including Tunisia. The ancient city of Carthage, which currently sits on the banks of Lake Tunis, was a major part of the Roman Empire’s expansion to Africa. The ruins of the city still sit intact today and are a popular tourist attraction for visitors.

Tunisia is one of the most compelling and visually stunning countries in the world. As the northernmost country in Africa, it’s a great way of getting a transitional introduction to African life and Arabic culture. If you have never been to the country before, we suggest you check it out, provided it’s safe to travel of course. Tunisia is a nation with so much history and links to the Romans as well as Islam. Discover this diamond in the rough before it becomes too popular with Western tourists!

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How to Get Ready for a Backpacking Trip

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A backpacking trip is becoming one of the most popular choices for people wanting to get away from it all. It’s a stripped back and hands-on holiday experience. You can learn to enjoy a different way of life. So, take a look at these ideas to help you get ready for the perfect trip.

Where to Go

The first thing you have to do is decide where you’re going to go backpacking. There is so much choice these days, and that’s the beauty of it. You may want to go abroad and really immerse yourself in another country. Or, you may decide you’d like to enjoy all the wonderful natural beauty of our own nation! Making a decision about where to go is an important first step because sets the tone for the rest of the trip. It might be a good idea to choose somewhere new you’ve never visited before. The idea of this sort of trip is to become inspired and broaden your experiences.

Who Are You Going With?

Many people enjoy backpacking on their own, while others prefer to go with friends and family. Either way is fine; it’s really about personal choice and what you want to get out of the experience. Think about the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. Sure, it will be safer to travel in a group, but you won’t have as much freedom as you would on your own. Before you make any sort of arrangements you need to decide who’s going to be accompanying you.

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What to Bring

Next up, you need to think about what you’re going to bring with you. Now, one of the things it’s important to remember is that backpacking is an adventure in the great outdoors. A stripped back and simple way of being at one with nature and having a different experience to normal. And this means you’re going to have to kiss goodbye to a lot of your creature comforts. But that’s okay; you’re doing this for the experience! Ditch the iPads; you won’t need them. Instead, you’ve got to think practically! Warm and durable clothing is a must because it may become very cold. You’re going to need a tent and sleeping bag, as well as cooking equipment. Never forget the importance of an emergency kit like first aid, maps, a torch and a pocket knife. Make a list of everything you want and need to take, then whittle it down to the essentials.

Packing Tips

Okay, now we’re at the boring but important part of the process – the packing. Your eyes are probably rolling right now, but packing is crucial, and you need to get it right. You’ve got a lot to pack, and it needs to be done methodically and practically. You need to divide up your bag(s) into sections. The top, for instance, needs to be reserved for the stuff you’ll be using regularly. The bottom can hold things like your sleeping bag. Bear in mind you’re going to need to unpack and repack on a daily basis, so it’s best you get used to it as much as possible. Do what you can to practice and try out different combinations to get the fastest and most efficient outcome. It all went in to start with, so it will all go in again! It’s simply a matter of packing sensibly and being logical about it.

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Food

You’ve got to give some consideration to sustenance while you’re on your trip. It’s not as though you’re going to be able to call Domino’s and order a ‘Pepperoni Passion’! You’re going to need to think carefully about the best sorts of food to take. The trick is to pick things that will give you a lot of calories but won’t add too much weight. You’ll have your cooking stove remember, so things like dried noodles would be great. Tinned foods add weight, but some of them are essential. Sometimes it’s nice to get a few fresh bits as you pass through towns to make mealtimes a little better.

Be Prepared

The Cub Scout motto is ‘be prepared’, and this seems a good philosophy. Even if you weren’t a Cub or Girl Guide, you could still follow this ethos. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the wilderness and in harsh weather. So you need to make sure your body and mind are prepared for this. This means getting into good physical shape before your trip. This is going to help a lot with the walking and heavy bag. It’s also essential that you have the right footwear, and that it’s broken in and comfortable. You have to ensure you have all the right gear as well so it might be worth taking it on a trial run before you go for a weekend.

What if Something Bad Happens?

When you’re facing the Great Outdoors, unpredictability is an issue. Something bad could happen at any time. So, you need to take measures to deal with the event of an emergency. This includes telling a friend where you’re going and trying to check in every day with someone. Making sure you have proper training and carrying something for protection is also very important.

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Books that will make you smart during a single flight

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How do you pass the time on a flight these days? Well, a lot of people spend time listening to music or playing on their Nintendo DS. Some people will watch the inflight movie, or enjoy a drink or two. Many of us sleep if it’s a long-haul flight, but, the activity we would recommend the most is reading. These days, especially if you have a Kindle, you can take so many different books with you on vacation.

Yes, we prefer having the real thing as well, but a Kindle means you can pack numerous books without taking up any space. Now, whether you’ve decided to bring an e-reader or an actual paperback you might want suggestions for something to read during the flight. Personally, we love a good crime thriller, but we know some people like to educate themselves. So, here are a few books you can read that will make you smarter during a single flight.

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

This book is the perfect choice for anyone who doesn’t have the time to look into and try to figure out complicated issues. The book, written by Randall Munroe, uses simplistic words and pictures to help readers understand and figure out explanations for complicated and difficult subjects. You could look at this book like an idiots guide to all the things you ever wanted to know about but found the jargon too complicated. This 64-page book is the perfect choice and can be absorbed over the course of a single flight.

The War of Independence

Written by John Fiske, and published in 1890, this is one of the most important and interesting books you will ever read. The 115-page book explores the American Revolution and the War of Independence that helped shape America into the country she is today. The book is interesting, absorbing, and not too daunting like many of those gigantic historical tomes can sometimes be. Fiske takes a look at some aspects of the war that are often glossed over and allows readers a fresh perspective on an old topic. And, the best thing about it is that you can pick it up for free as an eBook.

Real Artists Don’t Starve

If you are a creative person who has ever doubted going down the creative career route, this book is an absolute must-read for you. It’s the ideal companion piece for anyone who loves to get creative, and it explores the competitive benefits of creativity. It’s a fascinating read and will be useful for helping you change your approach to business and your career. Jeff Goins shares his wisdom and views on the creative world and suggests that creative individuals need to harness their talents for the future.

Prisoners of Geography

Ever wish you were a little more au fait with modern politics? Well, this is the perfect book to look at if you want to broaden your knowledge of the political landscape. This Sunday Times bestseller by Tim Marshall uses maps to show you how geography and ideology have combined to give us the current political climate. Everything you ever wanted to know about global politics is neatly presented in this accessible book – it’s a must read!

This represents just a small selection of some of the coolest books you can read on a plane journey. We like books that can be finished in one go, or that we can pick up and put down, and dip into whenever we want to. We also feel the subject matter of these books makes them ideal if you want to expand your horizons and broaden your knowledge in a single flight.

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Unravel the amazing Bhutan

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The Kingdom of Bhutan is a country in southeast Asia, known for being a Buddhist country, and resting on the edge of the Himalayas. When you look at Asia as a continent to travel to, Bhutan might not be your first choice. In fact, it may not have made your list at all in the past, but it’s time to change that now! This is one of the best vacation destinations you’ve never been to, and you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

This tiny country is often overlooked because of the fact that it’s nestled between some of Asia’s biggest names, such as China and Nepal. But, if you give Bhutan the time, we guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience, and enjoy a unique side of Asia. Bhutan opened its borders to tourism in 2001, but still maintains much of its unique history and religious culture – and as such, the volume of tourism is generally lower. Join us as we unravel and explore the amazing Bhutan, and come up with some great cultural experiences you can have here.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

One of the defining iconic emblems of Bhutan is the stunning Tiger’s Nest Monastery, located high up in the mountains just outside of Paro. This is a stunning feat of architecture, and one of the most religiously iconic and significant buildings in the country. It’s built into a series of caves and can be reached via either hiking or horseback riding. Depending on the weather, you might like to take a hike, assuming you have the right gear of course. This is a must-visit attraction in Bhutan and gives you a great feel for what the country is like.

Check out some Dzongs

Dzong architecture is a specific type of fortress, designed specifically to house and protect. There is a special emphasis on high exterior walls, protecting a complex interior of courtyards, temples, and sleeping quarters. Dzongs are generally used by monks for living, studying, and working, and they look stunning. The architecture is impressive, and they often straddle rivers or jut from the side of mountains. Whenever you see a Buddhist monk temple in the movies, this is the kind of thing you’re seeing. There are loads of Dzongs all over Bhutan, and they are an important part of the cultural heritage of the country.

Festivals

Like most Buddhist countries, Bhutan has a big festival culture, and there are plenty of opportunities to join in the festivities. Dancing, vibrant colors, and dressing up make these festivals an obvious highlight. They are known as tshechu and are a real treat if you ever get to experience one. Monks will be doing most of the performing, so it’s a great occasion to see them. The big towns have hugely popular festivals, but, you could well walk into the mountains to the smaller villages if you want a smaller affair.

Live like the locals

This is something we always recommend when going abroad somewhere. It’s important to make sure you share the lifestyle and experiences of locals, even just for one day. This gives you a valuable and unique experience and shows you how people live here. If you have the opportunity, try to live on a farm for a day or so, spending the night as well. It’s a special experience, and you can get involved in some of the great Bhutanese customs, like taking a stone bath and preparing local food. Wonderful.

Bhutan is such a mysterious place because we all know so little about it. But, there are plenty of opportunities to check out this wonderful country and get some important Asian cultural experiences. If you’re looking for a vacation with a difference next year, we thoroughly recommend you check out Bhutan and spend some time here.

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Beautiful lakeside towns in Europe

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Europe is one of the finest vacation destinations in the world and a stunning continent that needs to be discovered right now! If you’ve never been to Europe, you’re in for a treat, as there is so much diversity here. You get some of the amazing big cities where everything is urban and technological, and then there are areas of serene rural beauty, with sprawling beaches, rolling hills, and Mediterranean climates.

If you’re looking for a magical getaway that you will remember for years to come, Europe is definitely the place to enjoy this. This continent is home to some of the most breathtaking surroundings, such as stunning lakes, and mountainous backdrops. If you want the perfect vacation choice, why not choose one of these incredible lakeside towns in Europe.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

We have to say, Slovenia is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Europe. So many people pass it by in favor of better-known locations, but we would definitely recommend it. The gorgeous Lake Bled is one of the most jaw-dropping lakes in Europe and has stunning views of the Julian Alps mountain range in the background. There is a quirky little church on an island in the middle of the lake that is well worth a visit, and the views are simply unforgettable.

Plockton, Loch Carron, Scotland

Recently, the Scottish Highlands were rated as the most beautiful travel destination in the world, and it’s tough to argue with that. If you ever get the chance to go, head to the small lakeside town of Plockton, on the shores of Loch Carron. This little village has less than 400 inhabitants, and, thanks to the North Atlantic Drift it enjoys a very un-Highland type of climate. In fact, you even get palm trees growing here. It’s a fascinating place because it’s unlike so much of the rest of the Highlands, but it’s certainly no less beautiful.

Salò, Lake Garda, Italy

Italy is one of the best places in Europe to visit because it has so much wonderful diversity in terms of geography and climate. And, as stunning lakeside towns go, Salò is one of the most picturesque in the world. Lying on the banks of Lake Garda, this pretty town has kept its medieval touch and has some Gothic architecture thrown into the mix as well. It has a huge promenade that is well worth checking out, not to mention some views that are truly to die for.

Annecy, France

In the Haute-Savoie region of southeastern France, the town of Annecy lies on the shores of Lake Annecy, right where the lake feeds the Thiou River. Stunning alpine views of the surrounding area make this one of the best towns to visit. And that’s before we even get to mentioning the famous lake. With canals running through the center, and a famous old castle, you simply have to check out the ‘Venice of the Alps.’

These are just a few of the most remarkable and memorable lakeside towns in Europe. You have to do as much as you can to figure out what the best sort of town for you would be (although hopefully we’ve given you a headstart). There are so many of these stunning locations throughout Europe, and we’ve provided you with just a snapshot of some of the best. Your introduction to the beautiful side of Europe is just beginning, and these are places you should keep in your mind!

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Join our festive #lpchat on Twitter!

#lpchat - festive blog

We’re well and truly knee-deep in the time of festive cheer, peace on earth and goodwill to all men. How this merriest of seasons is celebrated however, varies the world over. In December’s #lpchat on Twitter, we’re talking all things Christmas traditions, seasonal travel and worldwide festive celebrations – where are you spending the holiday season this year? Which Yuletide customs could you not be without? What food gets you in a merry mood?

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just getting generally festive, we’d love to hear about it! Bring your best festive pictures, anecdotes and tales, and we’ll see you there on Wednesday 13 December from 4:30pm GMT / 8:30am PST.

Our favourite tweeter will win a free copy of our Best in Travel 2018 to help plan their new year’s adventures!

How do I take part?

  1. Follow @lonelyplanet and the hashtag #lpchat on Twitter on Wednesday 13 Dec at 16:30 GMT / 8:30 PST.
  2. Questions will be ordered Q1, Q2, Q3 etc. To answer Q1, begin your tweet with A1. For Q2, A2 and so on.
  3. Add #lpchat to all of your tweets during the Twitter chat, so others (including @lonelyplanet) can see what you’re saying.
  4. Bring your best travel tips, pics and ideas (and festive spirit!)

Terms & Conditions: Entrants must be 13 years old or over. Judges’ decision is final. Promoter: Lonely Planet Publications Ltd of 240 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NW. The winner will be notified via direct message on Twitter. The winner must claim their prize and provide an address for delivery within 7 days of being notified, otherwise the judges may select another winner. Prize: one copy of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 in book or eBook format, valued at £9.99/£6.99.

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Pack a bag – or get your coat! It’s the Christmas travel quiz 2017

Has travel broadened your mind enough to swagger through our end of year quiz with worldly knowledge or have you spent too much time snoozing by the poolside?

Barcelona banned which form of transport this summer?

Tuk-tuk

Tandem

Wheelbarrow

Segway

At next year’s football World Cup, England will play their first game in Volgograd. What was the city formerly known as?

Marxstadt

Leningrad

Stalingrad

Trotskyville

In a survey by job website Glassdoor, which UK town or city was named best place to work and live in 2017?

Manchester

Brighton

Harrogate

Slough

In which German city – this year celebrating 500 years of the Reformation – did Martin Luther nail his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church?

Nuremberg

Dresden

Wittenberg

Wolfsburg

As of this year, which two cities now host Yves Saint Laurent museums?

Paris and Marrakech

New York and Paris

Marrakech and London

London and New York

Which of these countries didn’t Donald Trump visit in 2017?

Saudi Arabia

Israel

Russia

Vietnam

Which Slovenian town launched a wine called ‘First Lady’ in honour of its most famous export, Melania Trump?

Ljubljana

Maribor

Sevnica

Nova Gorica

In April, US marshals forcibly dragged Kentucky doctor David Dao off an overbooked flight on which airline?

United Airlines

British Airways

American Airlines

JetBlue

This year marked the 50th anniversary of Che Guevara’s death. Where was he killed?

Cuba

Bolivia

Angola

Mexico

This year Cassie De Pecol gained the world record for visiting every sovereign nation in the shortest time. How many nations did she visit?

196

104

76

204

Which nation took the title of world’s happiest from Denmark in 2017?

Norway

Iceland

Switzerland

Finland

Canada turned 150 this year. Which of the following provinces was not part of the Confederation in 1867?

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Ontario

Manitoba

Which tropical travel destination implemented a ban on smoking across its tourist beaches this year?

Thailand

Jamaica

Malaysia

Costa Rica

Which remote island (a five-day voyage to the nearest mainland until 2017) finally got an airport?

St Vincent

St Elsewhere

St Helena

Sulawesi

In August, the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge opened in which country?

China

Russia

Ecuador

Switzerland

The Zeitz-Mocaa contemporary art museum, dubbed the “African Tate Modern”, opened in which city?

Cape Town

Nairobi

Lagos

Marrakech

The new Lego House in Billund, Denmark, is not actually made from Lego bricks, but how many Lego bricks does it contain in exhibits and to play with?

15 million

30 million

25 million

10 million

Hull has enjoyed its year as the UK’s city of culture, but which city has just been awarded city of culture status for 2021?

Swansea

Coventry

Brighton

Aberdeen

Which title won the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year?

Deep South by Paul Theroux

Station to Station by James Attlee

Interstate by Julian Sayarer

Pedalling from Tooting in search of Pinot by Andy Pietrasik

In December, who became the sixth British “tail fin hero” to appear on a plane belonging to low-cost airline Norwegian? Clue: 2017 marked the 200th anniversary of her death.

Emily Brontë

Mary Shelley

Jane Austen

George Eliot

This month, it was found that Mount Hope is the highest mountain in Britain’s overseas territories (after satellites revealed a previous measurement was wrong). Where is it?

Antarctic Territory

Gibraltar

South Georgia

Anguilla

The Brecon Beacons national park celebrated its 60th birthday this year, but which is Britain’s oldest national park?

The Lake District

The New Forest

The Peak District

Snowdonia

Which natural wonder collapsed in March this year?

Azure Window, Gozo

Durdle Door, Dorset, England

Delicate Arch, Utah, US

Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia, Turkey

At which natural icon has climbing been banned from 2019?

Mauao, New Zealand

K2, China/Pakistan

Eiger, Switzerland

Uluru, Australia

Which of these volcanoes did not erupt in 2017 (correct at time of writing!)?

Mt Agung, in Bali, Indonesia

Piton de la Fournaise, Réunion

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Stromboli, Italy

One of the biggest hits in the career of Glen Campbell, who died this year, was The Wichita Lineman. In which US state is Wichita?

Kansas

Oklahoma

Arkansas

California

The island of Skellig Michael, off Ireland’s County Kerry, was a key location in which blockbuster film sequel?

War for Planet of the Apes

Justice League

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The disastrous celebrity-backed Fyre music festival – now facing a fraud investigation after guests were welcomed with disaster relief tents instead of boutique accommodation – took place in which Caribbean country?

The Bahamas

Cuba

Haiti

St Kitts

The film Maudie, about Canadian painter Maud Lewis, was set in her home province of Nova Scotia, but in which province was it filmed?

New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island

Quebec

Newfoundland

Which film, about travel gone wrong, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year?

Airplane!

The Poseidon Adventure

Volcano

Titanic

27 and above.

Outstanding. Your work is that of a true travel pro.

19 and above.

Splendid work. You could probably change your middle name to ‘Getaway’.

10 and above.

Solid stuff. You have some of your travel wits about you.

0 and above.

Well, being kind, this score suggests perhaps you could travel more!

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Travel | The Guardian

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Locations that look like they came from Star Wars

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One of the most popular things about the Star Wars movies has always been the world building. Being able to imagine yourself visiting these far off planets, and living in distant lands in a faraway galaxy. This all contributes to the mythology and legend of the movies and increases the charm and appeal of the movies. The detail and the different worlds that have been created all combine to make these flicks unforgettable.

There are so many epic locations that have been used around the world for the Star Wars films. And, there are even more wonderful locations that look as though they have come right out of a Star Wars movie. With visual beauty, grandeur, and an otherworldly feel, these are some of the great locations we’ve found that look like they could have been plucked a long time ago, from a galaxy far, far away!

Wadi Rum, Jordan

This vast, expansive red desert location seems to go on for miles over the horizon. The site, in Southern Jordan, has a stunning landscape of jagged cliffs, intriguing caves, natural gorges, stone archways, and blistered red sand. It looks very much like Luke’s home planet of Tatooine from the first Star Wars movie. The UNESCO World Heritage site appeared in the Ridley Scott movie The Martian (as a double for Mars) and also featured in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Fly Geyser, Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Check out this stunning geyser that looks like it’s come straight out of a science fiction movie. Full of strange and colorful patterns, not to mention odd shapes, the geyser is certainly something you wouldn’t expect to see in the middle of the Nevada desert. Created, by accident, in 1964, the geyser is still working today and can shoot water 5 feet into the air. This is a truly stunning location and one we would certainly expect to find in a Star Wars movie.

The Spotted Lake, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Canada has some of the most stunning landscape we’ve ever seen, and this is a prime example of that. The Spotted Lake is mega popular with tourists, and it’s not difficult to understand why from looking at it. The lake contains a huge amount of minerals, which are revealed in the summer when the water evaporates – this leaves around 300 pools/spots where the minerals create a watery puddle in the lake. Pretty stunning, right?

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

You may well have heard of this location because it’s actually home to the largest salt flats in the world. More than 10 billion tons of salt cover 4,000 square miles, and make for one of the most visually stunning locations on the planet! If you ever get the chance to go here, you should definitely check it out. This beautiful place looks like it was tailor made to join the supporting cast of one of the Star Wars movies.

These are all remarkable places on Earth that we feel would be perfectly suited to a Star Wars movie. Of course, Wadi Rum in Jordan did make a brief appearance in Rogue One, but, the other places have not graced the screen yet. Perhaps, someone should get on to Disney, and recommend these locations!

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What to do in Nepal

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Nepal is a landlocked country, surrounded by the giants of China and India, and is home to eight of the highest mountains in the world including the famous Mount Everest – although locally it is actually known as Sagarmatha. Not only do tourists visit Nepal to adventure up the mountains and other such adrenaline sports, but the country is also the host of many sacred locals and places of cultural significance. Not forgetting the wild national parks where you can see the jungle and all its inhabitants. People tend to visit all throughout the year, but the most popular time to take a holiday in Nepal tends to be autumn. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do while traveling around Nepal.

Go trekking

One of the best things you can do in Nepal is go trekking or climbing – the country was practically made for it! Nepal boasts some of the best trekking routes in the world, whether you are brand new to climbing, or think of yourself as a bit of an expert, there is a beautiful trek just waiting for you here!

Take a flight over the Himalayas

Just because you may not able to (or even want to) trek the Himalayan mountains, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the breathtaking views! A panoramic helicopter tour is the best way to see these majestic peaks, including Mount Everest, Mount Makalu, and Mount Pumori.

Explore Chitwan National Park

Calling this incredible 332 sq mile area a ‘park’ is an understatement! Not only may you be lucky enough to see birds such as egrets and kingfishers, but this park is also home to rhinos, Asian elephants, bears, crocodiles and Bengal tigers. Chitwan National Park is an absolute must see!

Explore Pokhara

Pokhara is a stunning lakeside town that is perfect whether you want to paraglide, boat, trek, mountain bike, fish, visit the peace pagoda or just chill out and enjoy the beautiful view. Take a full day to enjoy this little piece of paradise which caters to everyone.

Mountain biking

Head to the beautiful Shivapuri National Park in Kathmandu Valley if you are a bike enthusiast as this is where you will find amazing dirt roads that are just asking for you to ride on. If this trail is a little bit too challenging, there are more accessible trails that still have stunning views on the Godavari, Chapagain and Bungamati roads.

Kathmandu sightseeing

There are some amazing things to see in Kathmandu, from temples and shrines to pagodas, delicate carvings, and giant stone creations. The best way to see these sights is by hiring a tour guide as this is the only way you will be able to get all the history and facts of each place. It will also help you find some hidden gems and see what is worth exploring.

Pashupatinath Temple

The Pashupatinath Temple is the most important Hindu temple in the whole of Nepal and although non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, even from outside it is a fantastic experience. The building is similar to a pagoda in design, but with intricately carved rafters, silver plated doors and a beautiful gilded roof. Some people will visit the temple for spiritual reasons, and for others, it will be more about the architecture – whatever it is for you, it is certainly worth visiting.

Nepal is a fantastic place to visit thanks to its rich culture, beautiful scenery and plentiful activities. Whether you want to climb Mount Everest, visit some temples or see some amazing animals in the wild, it’s a wonderful place for your next big trip.

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The hidden Scottish gem

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When you visit Scotland, you are likely to visit Edinburgh or Glasgow, and although both of these cities are fantastic, you might be missing out on the hidden mystic Scottish island of Iona. Only 6km long, this island is small but perfectly formed and has contributed a whole lot to the world, despite being tiny (or as the Scots would say ‘wee’!). Read on to discover more about the hidden Scottish gem of Iona.

Where is Iona?

You will find this tiny island just off the west coast of Scotland, only 2km from the coast of the island of Mull. There are less than 200 residents on the island, although tourism is booming and every year, around 130,000 visitors come to visit!

History

For such a small island, Iona certainly has a vast history. After being exiled from Ireland, Saint Columba founded his monastery on this island alongside twelve of his followers and, since then, Iona has been known as the ‘cradle of Christianity.’ For many visitors to the island, the religious history of the island is a big draw as they see it as a spiritual retreat or want to visit to the Benedictine Abbey which was founded on the island in 1203. There are also over 50 Kings of Scotland, Ireland, France and Norway that are buried on the island which is another reason that makes Iona very popular for visiting.

Nature

If the historical side of things doesn’t interest you, there are plenty of other things to see on this 6km long island. The nature is particularly beautiful here, particularly when you get off the shores. Offshore you can see the second largest fish in the world, the basking shark, and if you are lucky you will also spot a dolphin and even a rare sunfish! That is in addition to otters and puffins to name just a few. If you walk around the island, you will see orchids, sea holly, and various wildflowers, and if you look to the sky, you will see a huge variety of birds too including great northern divers and corncrake.

Activities

The island might be small, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get bored! Iona has a unique golf course that is free and makes use of the natural short grass and wildflower meadows, and there are many sheltered, beautiful beaches to enjoy. Walks are very much encouraged on this stunning island, or perhaps a bike ride if that is more your style. You will notice that there are very few cars on the island and it really adds to the peaceful feeling.

Iona is a secluded island where it is difficult to be stressed. The pace of life is slow and chilled out, and it lends itself to walking through wildlife, watching beautiful sunsets and soaking up the history. It might not be the first place you think to visit in and around Scotland, but once you have been, you are likely to want to return again and again to experience the magic of this secret, hidden Scottish gem.

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Top 10 last-minute Christmas and New Year activities in London

The run-up to the big day doesn’t have to be all shopping malls and panto: we pick cool, offbeat and cultural events and gift-buying opportunities across the capital

It’s magical enough at the best of times but for Christmas Kew Gardens becomes a magical wonderland of light – from a flickering fire garden to laser beams shooting from the iconic Palm House. A trail through the grounds is lit by over a million lights, and the North Pole village is home to Santa and his elves, and plenty of toasted marshmallow.
• Until 1 Jan 2018, adult £18.50, child £12, kew.org/christmas

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Travel | The Guardian

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48 hours in Hong-Kong

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If you find yourself with 48 hours to spend in Hong-Kong, do not panic! Although it is a busy city with plenty to do, it is also quite dense so it shouldn’t be too difficult to explore a large proportion of the things you’d like to see in such a short amount of time!

Breakfast

Before a busy day of exploration and cramming in as much as you possibly can, it’s important to have a good breakfast to keep you going throughout the day. The Brunch Club is a fantastic place to start if you want something as healthy as it is delicious! Grab the eggs Benedict and smoked salmon for a perfect start to the day.

Time to explore

Kick off your day by visiting one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong; Man Mo temple, which was dedicated to the gods of war and literature. Take in the cacophony of aromas that this temple provides with all the incense and enjoy the crimson interior which is hard to miss! Walk across to Cat’s Street to check out the numerous stalls of “antiques” (and we use that loosely!) and fun souvenirs.

Cultural walking

There is so much to see in Wan Chai that it is going to take a few hours to see it all! The Wan Chai Heritage Trail alone takes around two hours, but you can see so much of the city’s culture across the 15 stops. The Hong Kong Arts Centre is a must-see if you want to experience some culture, or just take a walk in the beautiful Tamar Park. This area is also home to the Pak Tai Temple which is another temple that is worth a visit.

Light it up

When the sun goes down, Causeway Bay is the place to be, as the city lights illuminate the sky. There are also some colossal shopping malls where you can buy designer items or more local brands in the same place.

Dinner

QI Nine Dragons is the home of Sichuan cuisine, so if you are feeling spicy, there is no better place. You can even enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace to cool down a little after your meal! Get an early night after this as there is still loads to fit in!

Scenery

A visit to The Peak is an absolute must! Get the peak tram to the highest point, and you will be blown away by the view from the most exclusive neighborhood in Hong Kong. You will also find some fantastic shops around this area too so make the most of it.

Stargazing

Check out Hong Kong’s very own Hollywood walk of fame with the waterfront Avenue of Stars! If you time it right, at 8 pm the Symphony of Lights is an incredible laser show in the sky in this area too!

Lunch

Fook Lam Moon has two Michelin stars for its dim sum and if you’re feeling hungry after your morning of walking, try the signature roast sucking pig to really embrace Hong Kong food!

Nightlife

Lan Kwai Fong is the place to be and the residents of Hong Kong party hard so be prepared! There are fantastic rooftop patios if you want something a bit more chilled, or clubs if you are going all out! If you are less of a party animal, spend the evening at the wonderfully bizarre Temple Street Night Market where you can buy the weird and wonderful!

If you plan ahead, you can fit so much into 48 hours in Hong Kong!

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The perfect vacation in Hawaii

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When you think about Hawaii, you probably picture white sands, beautiful water, leis, grass skirts and ultimate relaxation – and you wouldn’t be wrong! For many people, Hawaii is on the travel bucket list, although planning the perfect Hawaiian vacation can feel a little overwhelming. Here is everything you need to know about planning your adventure!

Where are you going?

It’s not enough to simply say you want to go to Hawaii, as there are four main islands that make up Hawaii and they are all slightly different. Oahu is the most tourist focussed as it is where you will find Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki and the famous north shore, so if you want to see the recognizable parts of Hawaii, this is the island for you.

Maui

Maui is also known as the “Honeymooner’s Isle” as it is a more natural, chilled island which is perfect for hanging out by the pool, snorkeling or playing golf with your new husband or wife. You will find Maui a little quieter, which is perfect for alone time; however you will be sacrificing a lot of amazing, popular sites for that, so it is a case of balance.

Kauai

If you need to get away from it all and relax to the max, you need to head to Kauai. Somehow even prettier than the other islands, it is the oldest and really embodies that Hawaiian vibe. There is plenty to see, including Hanalei Bay, Napali Coast, and Waimea Canyon, but tas Kauai is all about lazy, peacefulness, don’t rush to see it all at once!

Big Island

Big Island is just known as Hawaii, and it is the biggest of the four. Explore an active volcano, one of the black and green beaches and stand beneath a stunning waterfall. There is so much to see on Big Island that the sheer thought of it can be quite daunting for tourists, but for those brave enough to give it a chance, it certainly rewards them!

Island Hopping

If you simply can’t choose, you could split your time between more than one island; however, they are further apart than you may think, so flying is the only way! This can be quite pricey and time intensive (if you factor in TSA process etc) for such a short distance so avoid day trips and make sure you get the most out of your visit by staying at least three days.

When should you go?

The most popular time to visit Hawaii, is November to April, with an extra rush across Christmas and New Years, when it is incredibly busy and expensive, so you might want to avoid Christmas on the beach in Waikiki! Hawaii is relatively rainy and somewhat cooler in the winter, with Maui and the Big Island having the most pronounced seasons so do be aware of this. Between October and May you can spot the humpback whales around Maui, so if this is something you want to see, we would recommend the prime season of February.

Top tips

Even if you are a total beach bum, do not book a beach resort where you won’t want to leave the resort – Hawaii is too amazing for that, and there is so much more to see, even if you are a beach lover. Rent a car if you can as you will be able to explore so much further, much more comfortable. Pre-book any tours and excursions that you want to do as these will book up pretty fast! With a place like Hawaii, it pays to have even just a rough outline of an itinerary.

Hawaii is an incredible place to visit, and you will not regret booking a vacation to one of its wonderful islands.

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Travel quiz: January edition

Travel-Trivia

Do you know where the opulent Golden Pavilion is located? Or which rousing national anthem begins with the words ‘Oi maamme Suomi synnyinmaa’ ? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with January’s edition of our monthly quiz. Give it a go and share your score with us on Twitter or Facebook!

TAKE THE QUIZ


Desperate for more travel trivia? Have a go at last month’s quiz.

Find quizzes just like this, plus plenty of travel inspiration and planning tips in Lonely Planet Traveller’s UK edition.

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See the world with Virgin Atlantic – Over 30 Destinations Worldwide

Travelling in Bilbao

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If you are planning a vacation to Northern Spain, you might be tempted to visit somewhere like San Sebastián and Guernica, however, where you really want to go in just an hour away from Guernica; Bilbao. Here is the why and how!

A city of duality

Bilbao almost has a split personality, catering to most desires and tastes with its contrasts. For example, you can explore the urban landscape but marvel at the country elements. Between the futuristic trams and old architecture, you will feel as though you are time traveling without moving. In the fish markets, you can buy local handmade wares and then pop into a hidden high-end boutique for a designer Wang piece. Afterward, you could check out the stunning silver Guggenheim Museum Bilbao that’s set on a background of beautiful green mountains. This place really is something.

Feel like a local

Bilbao is mostly untouched by tourists and even the more commercialized places of the city, such as the Guggenheim are certainly not overrun with crowds, as one might expect, even during peak times! The locals speak Basque, and you can jump on the Euskotren Tranbia to explore the whole city for just 1.5 euros, via a single line, running in two directions – nothing is unnecessarily flashy here.

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

Who would have thought that one of the richest Spanish museums (outside of Madrid of course!) could be found in Bilbao! The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a fantastically curated collection, spanning across several art styles and periods and is a must-see for anyone interested in art.

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is the perfect neighborhood for a walk (and a subsequent glass of wine or two in one of the bars!). The river is a lovely feature, and there is plenty of architecture to enjoy as you walk. Visit one of the open-air food markets to stock up on delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables while you are here.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Rated the number one thing to do in Bilbao, you cannot miss the architectural masterpiece that is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao! Even from the chrome and metal building, you will be blown away, but venture inside to explore the collection of modern and contemporary pieces too.

Plaza Nueva

This beautiful square is perfect for people watching as you settle down at one of the cafes outside. Plenty of choices for food and on match days the square has a fantastic atmosphere as many of the bars show soccer!

Dona Casilda Park

The most extensive park in Bilbao, Dona Casilda Park is worth a visit to enjoy the trees, wildlife, and fountains. Grab some food from one of the markets and head here with a picnic one afternoon – bliss!

Playa de Plentzia

When in Spain…! This stunning beach is just half an hour from Bilbao and worth the metro journey it takes to get there. The water is clean (and warm!) and some people enjoy surfing in the water. If you prefer to be a little more laid back, there are some fantastic bars and restaurants to enjoy the views from.

So when you are looking to book a vacation to Northern Spain, give Bilbao a chance, and we are sure you won’t regret it!

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A visit in latino New York City

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New York is such a vibrant and diverse city and one of the best cities in the world to visit. If you are interested in enjoying seeing the different sides of New York you really have to get into the heart of the city and go on a cultural adventure. There are so many different influences throughout the city, this is how cosmopolitan it is. Now, if you want to make sure you get a Latino infusion from your trip to NYC, you need to know where to go.

There is so much culture and vibrancy to absorb in New York City, so it’s a definite treat for those who want to check out the different influences in the city. We love New York and all the amazing things you see and do here. No, if you are interested in Latino culture, you might be interested in hearing that there are so many Latino influences in the city.

Latinos count for a good percentage of New Yorkers

It might surprise you to know that the Latino contingent of New York City actually accounts for 29% of the overall population of the city. They also account for around half of the overall population of the Bronx! As you can tell, 2.4 million Latinos have a massive stake in this city, and they have a big influence on the cultural impact of The Big Apple. Once made of mostly Puerto Ricans, there are many Latinos from all over the world now living in New York. Countries like Ecuador, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic are all having a profound impact on the city.

Spanish Harlem

There are so many huge influences in the city, and one of the biggest impacts is the fact that there is even an area named Spanish Harlem. This is basically East Harlem, also nicknamed El Barrio, and we thought we’d check it out. Stretching from East 96th Street to the Harlem River, Spanish Harlem is a neighborhood full of magic and history. With a historic market, traditional Latino food, and architecture that is certainly inspired by Latin America, El Barrio is a definite treat for the culture vultures out there.

Tourist attractions

We think just walking around this place and soaking up the locals, and their food is a wonderful tourist attraction in and of itself. But, if you’re looking for something to do to keep you occupied, there is plenty here as well. For instance, you could check out Tenement Museum, the museum of immigration if you want a definite eye-opener. There are also the Queens boroughs of Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst if you want to wander some truly awe-inspiring streets, and find the best places for lunch.

Winding down

If you want to have a relaxed experience head over here on a Sunday and make for Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church. The religious hotspot is a favorite with the Spanish-speaking contingent, with services actually being delivered in Spanish. Here you will find vendors setting up their stands all filled with a wonderful array of amazing foods and souvenirs from Latino culture.

As you might imagine, this is a hugely important, and impressive area of the city. New York is so vast and sprawling, and there are many wonderful people and cultures in this melting pot of a city. If you want to explore the true New York, you should make sure you take a trip to Latino New York, and bask in a different culture and an alternative way of life.

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Tallest female stars

 

 

When it comes to height, some people get a bit sensitive. While there are those who dream of growing taller, others spend their lives trying not to stand head, shoulders, and chest above the rest as they look down on the crowd. Differences in height can bring about interesting conversation topics, as we wonder what the weather is like on the other side of the spectrum.

The average height of an adult woman living in America is 5 foot, 4 inches, but Americans are not the tallest country. It is in fact the Dutch who stand tall in the lead, with a male average of 6 feet, and a female average of 5 feet, 6 inches. While you may be intrigued to hear that over the course of the day your height can change by as much as 0.4”, sadly most of your height is determined by your genes. If you have tall parents, chances are you’ll grow up to a similar stature, but if you don’t eat enough fruits and veggies as a youngster you could actually stunt your own growth. Enjoy your height while you can though, as studies have shown that by around 40 years old, your body will naturally begin to get shorter! Though only about half an inch is lost every ten years.

When it comes to celebrities it seems as though they have it all. The talent, the money, the fame, the looks, but do they worry about their height, too? Well, it seems that although they have millions of followers on Twitter, and a screaming fan base with their own clever nicknames, even celebrities can struggle with standing out in the crowd. That said, these celebrities have learned how to use their height to their advantages, as well as learning to love their stature. It seems as though we could all learn a thing or two about embracing our genes from these towering beauties.

Taylor Swift – 5’11”

This ten-time Grammy winner towers over the competition at a staggering 5’11” tall. Taylor Swift isn’t reaching new heights in her music career with her latest album, Reputation, she’s already been there! Her new album became America’s hottest, after it sold more than 1.2 million copies in the first week alone. With a pair of heels on, Taylor easily reaches over the 6 foot mark; no competition can stand in this star’s way.

Gwendoline Christie – 6’3”

At 6’3”, Gwendoline is one of the tallest stars on Game of Thrones, which is probably for the best, as she plays the character Brienne, a warrior known for her unusual height. While Gwendoline had to gain a lot of muscle for the part, there were no special camera tricks to make the actress appear taller – that was all on her! Sadly while at school Gwendoline was picked on for her height, but she has since embraced her natural stature – you go girl.

Laura Prepon – 5’10”

Nowadays, the actress is best known for her role as Alex Vause for the Netflix original Orange Is the New Black, where she stands over all her female co-stars at a staggering 5’10” (incidentally, Laura stands at the same height as her OITNB co-star, Jason Biggs). The former 70s show star also had an appearance in The Girl on the Train, and is currently pregnant with her first child with fiancé Ben Foster. We wonder if the baby will inherit their mother’s height?

Nicole Kidman – 5’11”

Nicole’s husband, Keith Urban, is significantly shorter than his wife; Nicole towers over him on a normal day at 5’11”, but when the couple are on the red carpet and Nicole is glammed in heels on, it becomes an even greater difference. This actress has a huge number of awards at home – including an Oscar for Best Actress – and her star as a Hollywood has risen far above her already statuesque physique. On top of that, she is set to reach new heights in 2018 as Queen Atlanna in Aquaman.

Khloé Kardashian – 5’10”

Khloé is the tallest of the three Kardashian sisters. Although she is the youngest sibling, she seems to have inherited the tall genes that her two older sisters, Kim and Kourtney, have not. The tall genes must run in the family, though, as Khloé is the exact same height as Kendall, her supermodel half-sister. Currently, Khloé is rumored to be expecting her first child (although nothing has been confirmed), so it seems unlikely she will be sporting any of her heel collection anytime soon.

Blake Lively – 5’10”

There isn’t much of a height difference between Blake Lively and her acting husband, Ryan Reynolds, who clinches the win by a mere four inches over his wife. The actress shot to fame after her time in Gossip Girl playing Serena van der Woodsen, but has since appeared in such films as The Green Lantern and The Age of Adaline. The couple share two daughters, James and Ines, who look set to take after their parents in the height department.

Jane Lynch – 6’0”

Jane has had plenty of acting roles over the years, including parts on iCarly, Two and a Half Men, and Glee, but she has always been able to stand out in the crowd for a very unique reason: her height, measuring in at 6 feet tall. The actress towered over nearly all of her Glee cast members, but wasn’t quite the tallest actress as Dot Jones, who had three inches on Jane. Her roles have seen Jane take home a number of acting awards; this actress stands out for all the right reasons.

Kristen Johnston – 6’1”

3rd Rock from the Sun actress, Kristen, was the tallest actress on the show by a long shot, but wasn’t quite tall enough to beat co-star John Lithgow, who stood three inches above her. But at a whopping 6’1”, Kristen has an impressive height all of her own that has landed her some amazing acting opportunities. As well as 3rd Rock, the actress has also appeared in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas where she played Wilma Flintstone, as well as The Exes where she played the character of Holly Franklin.

Sigourney Weaver – 5’11”

This actress was destined to reach the stars; by 14 years old Sigourney already stood at 5’10”, but managed to grow another inch to take her height up to an impressive 5’11”. This actress made a name for herself in the Alien franchise when she played Ellen Ripley. Since then Sigourney has been seen in Avatar and The Cabin in the Woods, in addition to voicing roles in WALL-E, and Finding Dory. This anointed “sci-fi queen” is able to dominate the acting world by standing above the competition.

Uma Thurman – 5’11”

As this actress stands at a staggering 5’11”, it’s no wonder she started out her career by modeling for the British Vogue. However, it was a part in Pulp Fiction that saw Uma reach the stars. Playing the towering Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill was just another rung on the ladder to success for this actress. On the red carpet she often towers over her co-stars, as if she didn’t stand out enough already for her poise and eye-catching dresses.

Natasha Henstridge – 5’10”

This Canadian actress made her name by modeling, and it’s not hard to see why when she stands at 5’10”. Natasha broke into acting with her role in Species which has lead to her also starring in the two sequel films, as well as acting in several other movies. Natasha was the taller half of her first marriage to Damian Chapa, but was dwarfed by her 6’4” second husband, Darius Campbell. Still, this hasn’t stopped Natasha from appearing in over 60 productions throughout her career.

Allison Janney – 6’0”

Allison is a staggering 6-feet-tall, but prefers to refer to herself as 5’12”. This is because the actress has admitted that being so tall has made her feel self conscious over the years, but now she’s rocking her height. Allison has spoken about how standing at 6’3” in heels meant she was cautious about starting an acting career, but it’s a good thing she did, as she has landed a huge number of fantastic roles in both movies and TV, such as The West Wing, Juno and The Help.

Aisha Tyler – 6’0”

Aisha is used to standing above the crowd, as the actress and talk show host has spoken about how when growing up she was often double the height of her classmates. Spotting her in class pictures must’ve been easy! Now standing at 6’0”, Aisha certainly has reached staggering heights, but has used this to land a number of acting roles including roles as Charlie Wheeler in Friends, Mia Dickerson in CSI, and Mother Nature in The Santa Clause.

Jenna Elfman – 5’10”

An elf she definitely isn’t, as Jenna measures at a whopping 5’10”. Jenna is most recognized for her time as Dharma for the hit show Dharma & Greg, but has had a number of other roles including parts in Two and a Half Men, Accidentally on Purpose, and Courting Alex. The actress stands nearly as tall as her husband, Bodhi Elfman, but he just secures the win at 5’11” (only when she’s not wearing heels, though!). The couple have two sons together who look as though they might have inherited their parents’ height.

Adrianne Palicki – 5’11”

When starring on Friday Night Lights back in 2006, Adrianna was the tallest actress on the show for the whole five years; her co-star Minka Kelly only measured to 5’5” – that’s half a foot shorter than Adrianna. This isn’t the only time Adrianna has been the tallest woman on set as during her two years on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this actress towered over most of her co-stars, but was dwarfed by 6’6” co-star, Matt Willig.

Famke Janssen – 6’0”

Originally from the Netherlands, this actress never stopped growing until she reached an enormous 6 feet tall. While Famke stands out on the red carpet at the premiers of her latest movies, she has a price to pay; the actress has to get a lot of her shoes custom made. Not only is Famke famous for her staggering height, but she also has size 11 feet – wow. For her role in GoldenEye the actress was wearing one of her custom pairs to suit the part.

Rebecca Romijn – 5’11”

While being named as the Jolly Blonde Giant may sound like a fun title to hold, being tall has come at a price for the actress. Rebecca was once one of the shortest in her drama class, but a sudden growth spurt saw her quickly shoot up to 5’11”. However, all that growing in such a short time meant that Rebecca had to endure scoliosis – a curvature of the spine – which meant she was in a lot of pain during her teenage years.

Geena Davis – 6’0”

Geena is one of the few women in Hollywood to stand at 6 feet or more, but she is proud to rock her height to the max. Not only does Geena celebrate her height, she also spends a lot of her time standing up for women everywhere, campaigns for gender equality across the globe. Over the years we have seen the actress in Thelma & Louise, as well as Stuart Little, and in addition to her acting and activism, Geena has actually on the U.S. archery squad – what a woman!

Tilda Swinton – 6’0”

Tilda is known to catch people’s eyes when she enters a room, as the actress is known for her eccentric and fashionable dress sense, but she also gets attention for standing at a tremendous 6 feet tall. Over the years Tilda has been seen in Doctor Strange, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and as the narrator of Derek, but the actress has also been involved in modeling for performance art and is also known for her fashion collaborations with Viktor & Rolf.

Stacy Keibler – 5’11”

When Stacy Keibler was still dating actor George Clooney, the two would usually be seen stand at about the same height. However, when she would don her heels, Stacy would tower over George. Before appearing in How I Met Your Mother, George Lopez, and Samurai Girl, Stacy had a successful career as a model as well as a very successful seven-year stint as a wrestler on the WWE. It seems as though Stacy can stand above the competition in more ways than one.

Brooke Shields – 6’0”

This is another actress on the list who reaches the whopping 6 foot mark. Brooke landed her breakthrough role when she was just 12 years old in the movie Pretty Baby, which propelled her into a career spanning forty years, making her an icon of the ’70s and ’80s. One of her most famous roles was playing the lead character in Suddenly Susan, but the actress has also been cast in Two and a Half Men, That ‘70s Show, and Law and Order. Brooke was also once very close friends with legendary singer Michael Jackson.

Lucy Lawless – 5’11”

This warrior conquered the acting world when she landed the role of Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess. Her great height of 5’11” meant Lucy easily overshadowed any competition for the role, but she has since gone on to have a successful acting career since the show’s finale in 2001. Lucy has appeared in Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and Salem over the years that have all seen her be nominated for a number of acting awards.

Jordin Sparks – 6’0”

Jordin broke American Idol history not once, but twice after her appearance back in 2007. Not only was the singer the youngest ever winner at 17 years old, but she is also the tallest female contestant they’ve had in the history of the show. Jordin sure does spark conversation with her brilliant award winning voice, as well as standing out from the competition with her incredible height; the singer is another in the 6 foot club. When dating Jason Derulo, the two matched up perfectly in height.

Elle Macpherson – 6’0”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the gorgeous, six-foot-tall Elle Macpherson started out as a model. However, over the years the Australian stunner has been able to break into the world of acting with her roles in Friends and Batman and Robin, and as a TV host, on such shows as Britain’s Next Top Model and Fashion Star, in addition to her role as a guest mentor on Australia’s Next Top Model. Work it, girl!

Macy Gray – 6’0”

This talented singer not only stands out for her distinctive vocals, but she is also 6 feet tall meaning Macy can keep her head above the competition with ease. Not only has Macy been nominated for 5 different Grammy Awards, in 2001 she eventually took one home for the ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’ of I Try. Over the years we’ve also had a chance to see Macy in various productions, including Scary Movie 3, Spider-Man, and Fuller House.

Dorothy-Marie ‘Dot’ Jones – 6’3”

This former weight lifter was once at the peak of her career when she was discovered by the show Knights and Warriors where she became one of the female gladiators. At 6’3″ Dot was quite the force to be reckoned with, which meant her overwhelming height made it easier for the actress to land the tough-girl roles. Dot has been in Desperate Housewives, Lizzie McGuire, and Venice: The Series, but her most notable role has been as Shannon Beiste on Glee.

Brigitte Nielsen – 6’1”

This actress began her career as a model (it must go with the height), but for the 19 months she was married to Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte towered over her 5’10” husband, especially when she was wearing a pair of high heels. Brigitte met her ex-husband on the set of Rocky IV soon after she broke into acting, but has also been seen in a number of reality shows. Over the years the press have dubbed Brigitte as an Amazon due to her 6’1” height.

Katy Perry – 5’9”

She’s not the tallest singer on the list, but this leader of the KatyCats has won 90 awards so far for her music. Katy rose to fame in 2007 when she released her album One of the Boys, and since then her popularity has grown and grown – much like her height, as the singer now stands at an impressive 5’9” tall. Katy Perry is known to stand out for her outrageous outfits, eccentric behaviour, and impressive stage shows, but standing so tall means she’s not likely to get overlooked even without her wacky wardrobe.

Jennifer Hudson – 5’9”

Over the years, Jennifer has pursued a vast number of career options, but made her claim to fame when she entered season three of the contest show, American Idol. Since then Jennifer has also appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, including her award winning role as Effie White for the movie Dreamgirls, in addition to appearances in The Secret Life of Bees, Inside Amy Schumer, and Empire. At 5’9” Jennifer is able to keep her head above the crowd to stand above the rest.

Cameron Diaz – 5’9”

This actress can walk tall with her list of acting achievements, helped by the fact she stands at 5’9”. While Cameron’s husband, Benji Madden, has risen to fame in the music world, at 5’6” he still has to look up to his wife who has three inches on her beau. While Cameron currently doesn’t hold a BAFTA or Golden Globe award, the actress has appeared in at least 45 movies over the years, most of which have been amazing hits.

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How to travel in turbulent times

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If the news these days is to be believed, the world is a pretty dangerous place,. There seem to be terror attacks happening with alarming frequency, not to mention civil wars and coups going on as well. With all this tension, conflict, and turbulence, it can make the whole notion of travel a little off-putting. But, sometimes we shouldn’t believe everything we see and hear in the news.

Should you ignore warnings about tumultuous situations in countries? Of course not. But, at the same time, you mustn’t let it put you off travel either. The trick is to understand how and where to travel during these times in order to make the best of the situation. Here are some of the tips we think you should use when planning to travel in times of turbulence.

Be sensible

The first thing to do is make sure you are always being sensible. Travel in and of itself is an amazing thing, but it can also be pretty daunting. There are so many things you have to consider when you are traveling abroad, but, above all, be sensible. If you know, there is conflict in a country try to make sure you avoid it as much as possible. When you visit a nation, make sure you are safe when you leave the hotel, and that you aren’t going to places that will pose a risk to you.

Check with your travel agent

When booking a vacation, you might be thinking of going through a travel agency. Well, if this is the case then you need to check with them about the place you’re planning to visit. They will be able to provide you with advice, information and even warnings about the country or city you want to travel to. They will have information on what the current state of affair is, as well as what the procedure might be in the event that something should happen while you are there.

Post-hurricane getaway

Much of the Caribbean has been hit by hurricanes over the past year, but there is a lot of beauty to see here. Some are still struggling to get back on their feet and return to full tourist-friendly capabilities. However, some of them are already back with a vengeance, and these are the ones you need to check out. They have already been hit recently by hurricanes, so are going to be cheaper to visit, and the likelihood of another disaster remains low.

Keep yourself informed

Basically, don’t listen to what the new or the papers tell you is going on; instead, make sure you find out for yourself and keep yourself informed. There is plenty of information online, and doing a bit of research can go a long way toward helping keep you informed about it. That way you will know what a particular area is like, and what places or parts of it you might like to avoid, even in the good times.

Taking a vacation abroad is a crucial way of seeing the world and experiencing something a little bit different. There are a lot of things you have to think about when it comes to travel, and the political situation of a nation is one of the biggest. These are some of the tips that will help you negotiate and travel in times of turbulence without endangering yourself or spoiling your vacation.

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Penang guide: what to do, plus the best bars, restaurants and hotels

Its street food scene is legendary and the capital George Town, one of the hottest destinations in Asia, now buzzes with nightlife – but the verdant island’s beaches and jungle are also worth exploring

This exotic tropical island off the north-west coast of Malaysia is one of the world capitals of street food, with a dazzling array of cuisines from the island’s Chinese, Malay and Indian communities. But after eating my way through everything from Hokkien black noodles, succulent giant prawns steamed in rice wine and spicy assam laksa, to roti canai dunked in a rich lamb curry, I discovered that Penang is a lot more than just a foodie paradise.

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How to rent a car abroad

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When you travel abroad, you want to have the freedom to go where you please and do some of the amazing things on offer. And, a great way of getting a little more independence is to rent a car while you’re there. Now, this is something a lot of people do when they go away, and it is one of the best ways of getting around, especially when you travel as a family.

But, you have to know as much as possible about the process when it comes to renting a car abroad. Making the right choice is important for helping you to have the perfect vacation experience. However, you have to remember that the process for renting a car, and, indeed, the rules of the road, can vary a lot from nation to nation, and this is something you have to keep in mind. These are some of the key things you need to think about if you want to rent a car abroad.

Rules of the road

A lot of countries drive on the opposite side from what you might be used to. Don’t assume that all nations are going to be the same – this is a mistake people often make. You’re going to need to get the hang of driving on the wrong side and basically look at everything you’ve learned the opposite way around. There are other things that are less obvious, so make sure you follow and adhere to the rules of the road in the place you’re visiting.

Insurance

Make sure you sort your insurance out with plenty of time to spare before you actually go on your trip. If you leave this until the last minute, there will be a panicked rush when you arrive at the rental desk, and you will almost definitely pay over the odds. So, be sure you get this all sorted out with plenty of time to spare, and that you are covered as much as possible for driving abroad.

Do you need an automatic?

This is an important consideration because in many (most) countries the default rental car will almost always be a manual one. If you have practiced in an automatic, and you drive an automatic, this is not going to suit you. So, you have to make sure you do as much as possible to ensure you arrange or organize this well in advance. There will more than likely be opportunities to rent automatic, you will just need to make sure you plan it as much as possible.

Know your limit

Look, drinking and driving is not cool period, but, we understand that you may want a glass of wine or a beer with lunch on your vacation. In that case, you have to be aware of the limitations because they can vary from country to country. Some countries have a zero-tolerance policy, while other countries can be a little more relaxed – you have to know what the limit and policy is for your trip before going.

These are some of the considerations you will need to make before you head out on your vacation in a rented car. There are so many things to consider, and it is important to ensure that you abide by the rules of the road and that you are comfortable behind the wheel of your rental car. This is something that is going to be incredibly important, so you need to use some of the ideas on here to get you started on the right path.

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LP Pathfinders: video of the month, November 2017

Dallol lake, Danakil depression, Ethiopia: lake Dallol and its sulphur springs is the hottest place on Earth, with average temperature around 95 Fahrenheit.

Dallol Lake found in Danakil depression, Ethiopia ©Einat Klein Photography / Shutterstock

Every month, we curate the best blog posts and Instagrams from our Lonely Planet Pathfinders.

This month we’re featuring a video by Hanna and Zach from Handzaround who have captured stunning footage of Africa’s diverse landscapes.

‘Africa’s Afar Triangle is famous for the Danakil Depression, Erta Ale Volcano, Salt Lake Assale and Dallol. The temperatures and altitudes in this part of the world are some of the planet’s most extreme. We trekked to the volcano and spent four days exploring the Danakil Depression. The temperatures were unbearable and the whole trip was a challenge, but the landscapes were out of this world.’

Afar Triangle – Handzaround

Hanna and Zach’s video perfectly captures the magic of east Africa’s diverse and stunning landscape. Featuring a mixture of sweeping drone shots, first-person footage and timelapse, we feel as though we’ve been along for the adventure. Hat tip to them both for some top-notch editing skills.

Thank you to all the Pathfinders for their submissions this month — the standard was high! We particularly enjoyed a trip through Iceland with The World Pursuit while We Tour the World took us on a leg of their journey through Lesotho.

Keep your eyes on our Thorn Tree forum where we’ll post the next submission call-out. Find out what else our Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Pathfinders video playlist and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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How much your plane ticket actually costs

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It’s fair to say that we’re utterly obsessed with traveling. Yep, you’ve caught us – we’ve got the traveling bug. However, in today’s day and age, it can prove especially difficult to save up the money for your dream location. Not only do you have the accommodation, but you also have the food, the fuel, the activities, and of course, the plane tickets. Nowadays, it seems as if we’re paying more for the airline tickets than anything else – but how much does your airline ticket actually cost? Well, we’re basing this on an example $ 300 return ticket from Illinois to North Carolina as it was sold last year.

Taxes and fees

We’re so used to paying taxes and fees, we almost don’t think of them anymore – and simply hand over our cash without asking any questions. But do you really know how much extra you’re paying for your airline tickets? Well, these fees make up 21.1% of the total cost of the airline ticket. This means that the trip to Raleigh from Peoria, and back again will cost you around $ 63.35 more than the base price because you’re paying the standard 7.5% tax on the ticket, as well as extra fees. So where is this money going?

Facility charge

Many of us don’t realize that each flying passenger has to pay to land at a particular airport. In fact, every single passenger has to pay this $ 4.50 a facility charge – which will be added to the airline ticket. Because this particular return ticket from Peoria to Raleigh stopped over in Chicago, the plane landed four times, which means this airline charged the customer $ 18 to simply land the plane at the destination.

Segment tax

Another tax added to your final airline ticket price is the segment tax. The government will charge each passenger for every single takeoff and landing during your flight – and charge $ 4.10 for each. Once again, this passenger has taken off and landed four times, so $ 16.40 is added to the final bill. These taxes go towards the Federal Aviation Administration and the flight Improvement Program.

September 11 Security Fee

Since the September 11 attacks, airline checks have been much more scrupulous. Now, you can stand for hours waiting to go through security, getting your bags and your bodies thoroughly checked to ensure the devastating disaster never happens again. After this attack, the government and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) brought in the new September 11 Security Fee, which charges passengers $ 5.60 every time they pass through security. This is added to the final bill.

Baseline ticket price

All in all, these extra taxes and fees add an extra $ 63.35 to your final airline ticket price. So, the ticket you’ve paid $ 300 would have only cost you $ 236.65 without all of the added extras. This baseline price pays for the airline fees; including staff salaries, fuel, and the upkeep of the planes. In the grand scheme of themes, these ticket prices are much more manageable without these fees – but it seems these fees are here to stay and drive up the price of our tickets.

In a world full of taxes and fees, we have learned to live with the fact that these fees and taxes exist, but it is still interesting to know how much your plane ticket REALLY costs.

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Amazon prime movies about traveling

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The best movies are the ones that make us long for other lives and embrace the journeys of characters we’ve only just met. When you sit down to watch a movie, you are getting ready to have an experience, and this is something that depends largely on the type of movie you watch. There are so many different genres of film, and they appeal to us for a variety of different reasons.

Movies about traveling always give us a sense of excitement, and a spirit of adventure. They take us to faraway places and other worlds and show us the beauty of travel. Some are about the main character traveling and going through a journey of self-discovery, while others are about a quest to achieve or accomplish something. Amazon Prime brings more and more of these movies direct to our living rooms – and here are some of the best movies on there about traveling.

Into the Wild (2007)

Based on a true story, Into the Wild is an epic adventure movie helmed by Sean Penn. It follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless, a spoilt rich kid who changes his name to Alexander Supertramp, sheds all his worldly possessions, and heads for the wilds of Alaska, living off nothing but the land. The movie shows some of the amazing scenery that can be found in the United States. It documents Alex’s journey through the US and his perils with living off the land and being at one with nature. The movie is wonderfully filmed and has an incredible soundtrack – well worth a watch.

Up in the Air (2009)

This movie follows George Clooney who plays a corporate downsizer, and his experiences with work, as well as the lonely isolation of his constant travels. The movie co-stars Anna Kendrick, and Danny McBride. The movie was released to critical acclaim and received 6 Academy Award nominations. The movie eloquently captures the mundanity, but also the freedom that can be found with a life of travel. This is definitely a movie you should check out, but, it’s also going to make you want to get on a plane and go traveling.

Interstellar (2014)

It’s a movie about travel, but not as you know it. Chris Nolan’s magnum opus revolves around space travel, specifically time and space, as astronauts travel through a wormhole to try to find a new planet for mankind. If you’ve not seen Interstellar, you need to get it on your watch list. But, make sure you can give it your full attention because the movie is pretty complex in places. That being said, it’s one of the most intelligent and visually stimulating movies you’ll see.

Road Trip (2000)

At the more comedic side of the spectrum, we have Road Trip, a college road movie directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover). The movie follows Josh and his roommates as they take a trip to his girlfriend’s college after he accidentally mails her a VHS of him with another girl. Yes it’s crass, and a little crude, but it’s also a lot of fun, and the characters all wind up finding out a thing or two about themselves in the process.

These are a few of the best flicks on Amazon Prime that you can watch about traveling. They all contain some stunning visuals, with an important moral message. Traveling is always fun, and a great way of seeing the world, or your home country. And, when you watch movies about travel you get to experience that adventure alongside other people as well.

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10 of the best places to visit in Malaysia: readers’ travel tips

Lunch with monks and a poignant war memorial park share equal billing with Penang’s street food and sundowner views over Kuala Lumpur

The Mossy Forest of the Cameron Highlands offers the chance to get among gnarled, moss-covered trees, exotic plants, orchids and extraordinary wildlife. Near a low mountain called Gunung Brinchang, there is 150 metres of wooden boardwalk with platforms beginning by a clearing next to the road. At the end of the boardwalk is the two-hour hiking trail up to the top of Gunung Irau, the area’s tallest peak (2,110 metres). The entrance to the trail itself is free but local operators run tours and, if you haven’t hired a car, joining a tour is the easiest way to get up the very narrow mountain road.
Cameron Secrets’ Mossy Forest tour £10, including tea factory visit
Paul Jones

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Travel | The Guardian

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Watch the Doors’ Legendary Performance in New Isle of Wight Doc Trailer

The Doors' legendary performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival will be available for the first time on DVD and CD February 23rd. The festival is thought to be the last filmed Doors concert. 

A new trailer for The Doors: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 teases snippets of the Doors' 2 a.m. set

This article originally appeared on www.rollingstone.com: Watch the Doors’ Legendary Performance in New Isle of Wight Doc Trailer

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Great NYC staycations on a budget

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If you’ve got the travel bug like the rest of us (yep, it is deadly and pretty contagious), you’ve probably got a whole heap of travel destinations on your bucket list. However, it’s not always easy to fork out the money to fly abroad and explore the winding streets of Europe, or check out what’s Down Under in Australia. So, more and more people are choosing to go on a staycation. With so much to see and do in America, why would you want to go anywhere else?! Over the past few years, staycationing has become increasingly popular, and so has New York City. Thankfully, an epic NYC staycation doesn’t have to break the bank…

NU Hotel, Brooklyn – From $ 123 per night

If you want to explore New York City and do it right, it’s best to stay in the center of the city – because who wants to walk everywhere? Hint: Not us. The NU Hotel in Brooklyn is one of the most central hotels in the city, and one of the coolest! With a modern vibe and luxe furnishings, this hotel will give you a little slice of luxury without emptying your pockets. The hotel is just a short walk away from the iconic Prospect Heights, the neighborhood that you’ve probably seen in every movie set in New York EVER, and you’re just a short way away from the famous landmark the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re looking for something fun to do after a day of sightseeing, you should definitely check out the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. You can try your hand at Shuffleboarding, dance the night away, drink the night away (that’s more like it) and enjoy New York nightlife on a budget.

The International Cozy Inn, Harlem – From $ 100 per night

If you’re looking to go back to the ‘60s and relive your psychedelic days, a trip to the International Cozy Inn in Harlem is an absolute must. This hotel is pretty outlandish and may make your eyes hurt if you stare at it for too long, but is super cool. In fact, the hotel is renowned for housing famous celebs – so you might even bump into Orlando Bloom if you’re lucky! Harlem is also a great cultural center if you’re looking to check out the authentic art, music and literature scene of New York. Check out the Studio Museum for the ultimate experience, and then finish off your day at the famous Red Rooster!

The Kitano, Midtown – From $ 231 per night

If you’re obsessed with Japanese culture (who isn’t?) but can’t afford the flights to Asia (who can?), you’ll be happy to know that New York offers a little slice of the Japanese lifestyle in The Kitano, Midtown. In fact, this hotel is the ONLY hotel in New York owned by a Japanese company. Because of this, you can expect traditional tatamis suites with sliding paper doors and traditional Japanese furnishings, as well as high-tech toilets that will provide you with waaaaay more buttons than you need – but is still pretty cool. The Kitano is located right in the hustle and bustle of the city and is perfectly situated for those of you who want to experience the shopping and elegance of Fifth Avenue, Times Square, Broadway and the iconic Rockefeller Center. It’s the perfect hub.

The Boro Hotel, Long Island City – From $ 123 per night

If you’re looking to view the city skyline from afar, staycationing in Long Island City is your best bet – and you just have to stay at The Boro Hotel. The minimalist, boutique hotel prides itself on its awesome design aesthetic and its views of the city (because they are INCREDIBLE). As well as offering the perfect perspective of New York City, Long Island City is teeming with museums and State Parks that will keep you occupied on a budget. If you’re looking to tempt your thirst, you should also check out the numerous breweries that are housed on the island!

Planning a staycation? Look no further than New York City and experience all that this wonderful city has to offer. You’ll never want to vacay anywhere else again.

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The best vegan restaurants in the United States

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More people than ever are becoming vegan these days, and, the great news is that restaurants are starting to follow suit. Whereas in the past there were limited options for vegans who wanted to go out for dinner, now, there is more choice than ever. The growing shift toward being healthier has encouraged more and more people to embrace a meat-free diet. There has never been a better time to be a vegetarian or vegan than there is right now.

Vegan-friendly restaurants are popping up all over the United States, and you should try as many of them out as you can. No longer are vegan diets seen as boring; these places have some epic menus to choose from, and they really do things with veg you’d never even have considered. Check out this short list of some of the best vegan restaurants throughout the United States.

Millennium – Oakland, California

This legendary restaurant, previously located in the heart of vibrant San Francisco, has been serving vegans for around 20 years now. The restaurant has evolved and developed over the years, but the core of what they stand for has remained the same. Wholesome organic dishes are available in abundance here, and their menu looks suitably mouth-watering. Creativity is also at the forefront of the food they provide in Millennium and another of the reasons why you should check this place out. The restaurant has, very recently, completed its move from San Fran to Oakland, California.

Plant – Asheville, North Carolina

If you’re looking for a departure from the soulless and lifeless chains of the big cities, you need look no further than Plant. This vegan restaurant in North Carolina is changing all the rules and doing things its own way. Visitors travel from far and wide to sample the tasty vegan cuisine on offer here, and, the best thing is that all the ingredients are locally sourced. The restaurant provides delicious, organic food, and supports the local area at the same time. With simple preparation and flavorsome dishes, this is definitely a place to visit.

Candle 79 – New York City, New York

We couldn’t have a list of amazing vegan restaurants and not have somewhere in New York feature, right? Well, Candle 79 is located in Manhattan’s opulent Upper East Side and is integral to the great dining scene here. This place isn’t going to be cheap, but, you definitely get what you pay for. Not only does the place serve delicious vegan dishes, but, it also has a big focus on being sustainable, with an eco-friendly building to boot!

Crossroads – Los Angeles, California

Crossroads has become a staple of the vegan scene in LA and remains a favorite haunt for locals as well as celebrities. The perfect combination of rustic and chic, Crossroads is a place you should check out as soon as you can. Make sure you make a reservation as soon as possible, so you aren’t left disappointed (it gets seriously booked up, for good reason). The pasta is exceptional here, and the food has heavy Mediterranean influences. Next time you’re in LA, head for dinner at Crossroads.

Vegans deserve to have exquisite restaurants to visit just like everyone else. So, it’s awesome that they now have the option of checking out these splendiferous establishments. These are some of the best restaurants in the US for vegans, and not just because of their food. They are also excellent because of what they represent and their eco-conscious approaches. Now you have some names to check out when you’re out and about, and you want some tasty vegan food.

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Is this how road trips might look in the future?

For as long as there have been cars, people have been using them to venture far and wide, relishing the spontaneity and camaraderie found on the open road. But drive for long enough and you’ll notice that traditional cars have undeniable downsides. Eco-conscious travellers will note that they require petrol to go in at one end, and, depending on which one you drive, pump out varying quantities of nasty stuff at the other.

Tesla electric car

Do electric cars herald a new era of guilt-free road trips © Lonely Planet

So I wondered if driving an electric vehicle would add a guilt-free glow to adventuring, or would it be riddled with new logistical concerns? On a recent trip through Britain, it turned out my concerns melted away pretty quickly. The car’s guidance system advises you where to charge and for how long, and I found that the urge to detour was stronger in a vehicle that was smart enough to make sure you always arrived with some charge in the battery.

Of course, a road trip is not about getting from A to B, but about the stops along the way. Sure, there are always going to be times when you’re recharging in Charnock Richard service station on the M6, but I was on my way quick enough.

Mooching round the map reveals imaginatively positioned connection points in Cornish beachside hotels, handsome inns in the Lake District and tempting looking retreats in remote corners of the Highlands. I mentally composed the apologetic call home: ‘Yes, I am really in Torridon. What else could I do? There’s a charging point here.’ (That said, I might not have a phone signal to make the call. Some technology moves faster than others.)

Tesla electric car

Lonely Planet put a Tesla to the test on a road trip through the UK’s national parks © Lonely Planet

Just when I was struggling to see the downside of a road trip in an electric vehicle I happened upon one. While parked up in the Peak District town of Castleton I was ambushed by a small but persistent band of motoring enthusiasts who asked numerous challenging technical questions about the motor on subjects like wattage, downforce and torque. They also demanded to sit in it, one-by-one, while turning the steering wheel, like three-year-olds in a supermarket Noddy car. The solitude of the open road called a little louder.

Tom Hall was allowed a spin in a Tesla as part of Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives road trip around national parks in the UK.

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Jessica Chastain Worried Speaking Out Would Destroy Her Career

Jessica Chastain says in a new interview that she was shocked by her Golden Globes nomination yesterday – due in large part to how outspoken she has been about Hollywood's many allegations of sexual misconduct.

"To be honest, I'm mainly surprised about my nomination,"

This article originally appeared on www.rollingstone.com: Jessica Chastain Worried Speaking Out Would Destroy Her Career

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Wonderful secret villages in Europe

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Europe has got to be the greatest travel destination in the world. Not only is it incredibly progressive, but, it’s also full of stunning natural beauty and elegance. There is so much stunning architecture, and some incredible history entwined in many of the cities and countries in Europe. But, there are also some wonderful secrets that lie just beneath the surface, waiting for someone to come along and discover them.

If you’re after a few nights hidden away in a stunning but secretive village in Europe, you have a lot of choice. This is a great way of opening your eyes, and enhancing your experiences – and you will have discovered something esoteric, that only a select few people in the world have experienced. These secrets hold the heart and soul of a destination in their hands. Get beneath the surface, away from the wind-swept, tourist-covered streets, and check out these amazing secret villages.

Giornico, Switzerland

Upon first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Giornico was taken from a Hans Christian Anderson story. This village in southern Switzerland feels like it’s a lost-in-time sort of place; like you’ve walked into the middle of some eerie, long forgotten fairytale. The small river that trickles through the village, and the stone bridge that sits astride it, perfectly define this 14th Century place. It’s such a small place that there are no hotels here, so you’ll have to stay nearby – but there are some delightful family-run restaurants.

Kotor, Montenegro

This wild, undiscovered coastal town nestled in the Gulf of Kotor is one of Europe’s true hidden gems. Peppered by stunning medieval architecture and staggering natural elegance, this place is slowly becoming popular with wealthy expats. Considered to be the southernmost fjord in Europe, the sprawling ocean and jutting cliffs give serene and peaceful surroundings. It has one of the best preserved medieval towns in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover Montenegro the right way, by checking out Kodor.

Lavenham, England

England might not seem the most exotic of places, but there is so much wonderful beauty to be discovered here, you just have to know where to look. Lavenham is a tiny village in Suffolk, best-known for its 15th Century church, as well as the medieval cottages and scenic walks that are dotted throughout. Old-fashioned bric-a-brac stores and enchanting traditional tea rooms add to the charm of this wonderful settlement.

Norcia, Italy

To be honest, we could probably fill this list with secret Italian villages, so we’ve just gone and chosen our favorite. Norcia rests on the brow of a hill, in the sprawling countryside of southern Perugia. The surrounding area contributes so much to the delicious local foods on offer – such as Pecorino cheese. This is the Italy of long ago – salami hanging outside storefronts, shopkeepers hunched over counters of cheese, and local festivals with home-cooked cuisine. Magical.

As you can see Europe has so much secretive beauty, and you should try to make sure you check out some of them. The choices on this list are just a snapshot of some of the most amazing secret villages in Europe. These places are just brimming with culture, history, and wonderful food, and are aching to be discovered by intrepid visitors. What are you waiting for?!

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Take the kids to … Lappa Valley Steam Railway, Cornwall

With miniature steam engines, a special Santa train, a lake and maze, this charming small attraction near Newquay is a great day out for families with younger children

Board a narrow-gauge (15in) vintage steam train and weave through leafy woodland to the site of historic East Wheal Rose mine. Once there, paddle a canoe or giant swan around the boating lake, explore gentle nature trails or the wooden fortress, play crazy golf and ride more tiny rare trains, such as the 7¼-inch woodland railway, with sit-astride benches.

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