Lawrence Durrell once said that “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” I’m a big advocate of travelling for wellbeing, but I’ve also blogged about what it’s like to be away when you’re depressed, and how you can get through it. One big issue remains: finding travel insurance to cover depression can be a bit of a nightmare because, as the FCO says, it needs to be declared as a pre-existing medical condition. That policy will protect you from any health-related issues that may crop up during your trip, but you’ll pay a lot for the privilege.
A recent article in the British travel press saw a freelance writer taking her baby daughter along with her around the world. It’s an admirable move and incidentally gives the girl some amazing bragging rights when she grows up, but it made me wonder: could that baby, when an adult, really say she has experienced these countries if she only has photos, and no memories, to rely on?
Whilst the article was about the logistics of working parent duties rather than said bragging rights, it spurred me into thinking about the many different ways we measure ‘doing’ a country or a destination. Just Google ‘travel blog + country counting’ and you’ll see there are plenty of people out there with a tally to monitor. There’s even a prestigious Travelers’ Century Club (American spelling) for those who’ve reached the precious 100 milestone. So, for everyday adventurers not indicted into any club, what could potentially be considered as a valid tick from the list?
As the centenary of the Great War approaches, it’s fair to say that things are already hotting up on the tourism and publicity front.
Whilst I unfortunately missed the WWI talk at World Travel Market last year, due to clashes in my schedule, I did manage to pick up some poppy seeds from the Visit Flanders area and I will be planting them (despite my not-so-green fingered gardening ‘abilities’) in an effort to bring a part of this very real, global event home – I think that offering poppy seeds is a great marketing tool, but also a really personal way to get people involved. After all, the Great War was something that touched the lives of normal citizens and changed the future and fortunes of a whole generation.
Having a packing dilemma? Here’s how to make the best of your packing and maximise the space in your suitcase, explained in fashion terms (you know, the ones you read in magazines but sometimes struggle to grasp) and in everyday language. To demonstrate, I’ve used an über-practical standard hard shell case that’s suitable for use as hand luggage on the plane.
Know your base layers
Fashionista lingo: Pack interchangeable light pieces that work well as a capsule wardrobe, ideally based on a simple colour palette.
The reason Cuba fast-tracked its way to the top of my priorities, bypassing much-longed-for trips to India, Peru and Mexico in one fell swoop, was embarrassingly based on hipster logic. “Get there before everyone else does!” Screamed the travel journalists, bloggers and guidebook authors. “Cuba’s about to change forever!”
With the gradual and inevitable decline of the president, Fidel Castro, there’s no escaping the fact that the country is teetering on the precipice and is headed for modernisation and – gulp – Americanisation. It’s only mere months since Beyoncé and Jay-Z rocked up on its shores for a holiday, with little Blue Ivy in tow, but already there’s a sense of urgency for people to follow in their footsteps.
Portugal’s capital consistently features on travel surveys for the best value city breaks in Europe, but I’ve found there’s a lot more to its appeal than just the prospect of saving money. Lisbon is high up on my travel wish list because it combines a blatant love of fashion and design with a wealth of history, having risen from the ashes of the tragic 1755 earthquake and also having blended the influence of the many cultures and countries discovered by its explorers.
Taking in all of these factors, I’ve examined some of the most important sights that I’d be looking to see on a city break here. My wish list is based on quite a few websites, but I’ve linked back to a couple of really useful ones – namely Spotted By Locals and Go Lisbon – as well as official sites for some of the places I’d be checking out.
I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter had me at the multi-layered imagery on the outside – I was hooked before I’d even turned over to the blurb, let alone before I’d began to make my way through the novel itself. Just like the cover, the plot was composed of layers, and it also flipped backwards and forwards in time and around the world. What sounds chaotic and clunky actually is, in actuality, a story that becomes almost impossible to put down and perfectly evokes Italy in 1962.
(To be read with the strains of ‘The Final Countdown’ playing in the background, for that added sense of drama that only a power ballad can bring, and a bit of assonance with the title).
Only a couple of weeks ago, I was hanging around Reykjavik with my friend and we’d pass a Thai shop most days when we were going to and from our hotel. It was full to the brim with Thai furniture and trinkets, especially those little hypnotic waving cat figures, known as Beckoning Cats. Every time we’d give the waving golden yellow cats a little hello wave back, for luck, and I’d wonder what Thailand was really like. Well, last Thursday I got one massive step closer to actually finding out, as I was somehow lucky enough to win a Thai island hopping adventure with Contiki, through their Blogger Challenge (which was launched at the brilliant Traverse 2013 conference in Brighton)!
There’s nothing like dreaming big when you write a wishlist, so what better place to start than India? It’s a vast country and I’m sure I’m only aware of a small percentage of what there is to see, so I apologise if my plans involve going for the obvious rather than the hidden gems, but I’m only just getting to grips with it.
I’m hoping to visit either late in 2013 or early in 2014, with Jodhpur, Jaipur and Delhi being likely stopping points, but there are loads of other places I want to tick off. Here are just some of the experiences I’d like to have, the sights that have inspired me and the things I want to photograph, from the possible to the not-so-likely-unless-I-take-a-gap-year.
I love the travel blogging community – always one step ahead of technology, never afraid to try something new, these guys really are fearless. So, knowing what an intrepid lot they are, I let my imagination drift towards the future, about 100 years from now, imagining what they’d all be up to (assuming most of little old Planet Earth had been done to death). Here’s what I came up with, based on brief Twitter-style updates.
- Check out my new post: discovering a new wormhole on my lunchbreak #wormholetravel
- Still undecided on whether to take your Gap Decade on Mars or Jupiter? See my 3D videos
- Cryogenic freezing blogger meet-up: don’t forget to request your defrost date for Independence Day in 2200, people! #Brr
- So, I went back in time to the Middle Ages and made this virtual reality photo diary…
- Clone holidays: what it’s really like to go on holiday with yourself and fight over the breakfast buffet
- An expat’s view: why I emigrated to the Planet Zog
- Read my new e-book guide on holidays for the over-120s – greycationers rule
- Google Psychic: now Google can read our thoughts, what does this mean for bloggers?
- Exclusive: vintage photos of the lost Brazilian rainforest
- #TravJournoReq Can anyone recommend hotels in Hollywood with great flying car parking?
- Street food on southern Mercury: my top ten suggestions
- National Rail live debate: will trains ever run on time?
- Post-Apocalypse travel seminar: how to beat the odds and survive
Whatever weird and wonderful inventions and discoveries that come to affect how and why we go on adventures, you can bet that a travel blogger will be the first to report back and they’ll give you the inside track. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next.