Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Slope Point – Most Southerly Point of the South Island of New Zealand

Posted: 30 Jul 2012 04:35 PM PDT

Driving south towards the Catlins from surprising Invercargill is the South Island’s most southerly point. Walking across lush pastures and past grazing sheep, a panoramic vista shows a coastline battered by the savage Southern Ocean, the roaring foriteswinds sweeping relentlessly across the rocky outcrop. Though the chilly temperatures would indicate differently, a sign shows that Slope...

Read the full story at http://www.travel-wonders.com.

London Flight & Hotel Deals: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

London Flight & Hotel Deals: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Link to itravelnet.com Travel Blog

London Flight & Hotel Deals

Posted: 30 Jul 2012 08:46 PM PDT

London Travel Deals

Find Travel Deals for Trips to London. Get $15 Off with Promo Code LONDON15. Book Now!

Promotion ends August 31st, 2012.

London Flight & Hotel Deals

Travel Deals: Onetravel.com

London Flight & Hotel Deals from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Why I Left a Four Seasons and Moved Into a Hostel

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Why I Left a Four Seasons and Moved Into a Hostel

Why I Left a Four Seasons and Moved Into a Hostel

Posted: 28 Jul 2012 12:04 AM PDT

Maneesh Sethi having fun in a hostelThis is a guest post by Maneesh Sethi of Hack the System. Like me, Maneesh is a “travel hacker” and he recently tried to get back into hotels after hosteling for years. I thought his conclusions made for a story worth sharing here.

It seemed like a dream vacation: a free three-week, all-expenses paid trip to Thailand while staying in 5-star hotels. I boarded the plane, landed in Chiang Mai, and sat down in the sleek, black Mercedes Benz that waited to take me to one of the most exclusive resorts in the world: Four Seasons Chiang Mai.

After four years of traveling and finding my accommodation via Couchsurfing and hostels, I was ready to try out a more luxurious experience. It had been years since I had stayed in a hotel, so I decided to take the plunge. The experience, however, surprised me. Sometimes, even a free luxury vacation isn't worth the price.

The Idealization of Hotels

I grew up in an Indian family. When we traveled, we only stayed in hotels. I was taught that motels were dirty, and only 'hoodlums' (my mother actually used that word) stayed in hostels. So I grew up with an aversion to hostels — shouldn't I be staying in hotels? I might get robbed — or worse, killed!

My experiences in hotels were always during family vacations, so I didn't have a concept of what it would be like to travel and stay in a hotel without my parents.

Once, I asked my parents to explain  the difference between a hotel and a motel. Their response: "A motel is where dirty people go to sleep." And they wouldn't even entertain the thought of a hostel. Growing up, I thought of a hostel as a place where the homeless would sleep. I had no concept of what they actually were. I just knew to stay away.

Years later, I left the USA to study abroad in Italy, and I decided to go on a few weekend trips with my friends. We obviously couldn't afford the 100+ Euro/night hotels in London and Paris, so we opted to stay in hostels. After 18 years of an intrinsic fear of hostels, my experiences revealed that maybe my parents were wrong. By checking the reviews on Hostelworld and staying with my friends, I was able to overcome my fear of hostels and start to enjoy them. Turns out, hostels aren't bad at all.

Maneesh Sethi having fun in a hotel

Since then, I've traveled all over the world, staying in dozens of hostels on four continents, and I've realized something: some of the best experiences I've ever had — with some of the best friends I've ever made — took place in hostels. The only comparable location that I can think of is a college dorm: a place where people from around the world can meet other people who are in the exact same situation.

Fast forward to 2012. After four years of travel, I had become a huge critic against hotels. I always talked about why I preferred hostels to hotels, and why I would never go back to hotels.

And then the offer of a free 5-star vacation arrived. No matter how much I've criticized hotels, it's hard to turn down a free vacation.

One week and three hotels into my journey, I packed my bag, checked out of my already-paid-for luxury hotel, and headed into downtown Phuket to book a hostel. Even though another two weeks of $400+/night hotels were already covered, I selected a $10/night hostel and moved in.

Hotels simply weren't for me.

I'm not saying hotels are bad. If you prefer luxury travel, or you are traveling as a couple, a hotel is a great option. If you are the kind of person who enjoys room service, hotels are for you.

When I stayed in hotels, I found that they lacked the essential ingredient of travel that I need: the ability to meet new people. Hotels offer comfort, but they don't offer open rooms, shared meals, and the ease of new experiences.

You can't meet new people as easily at a 5 star resort as you can at a hostel. One of my hotels was 45 minutes away from downtown Chiang Mai, so I couldn't easily go out to meet people. Even in downtown hotels, I've found it difficult to meet new people because hotels aren't conducive to making new friends.

The 5 Reasons Hostels Might Be For You

Maneesh Sethi having fun in a hostel
1) Hostels are often closer to nightlife and the party scene than resort hotels.
Do you want to be closer to the action?  Resorts are often placed way outside of the city because of the space they require. Hostels, on the other hand, are generally located right downtown. You can find hostels in all locations, of course, but many backpackers prefer to go out, so hostels are open for partiers who want to stay in the party zones.

In Thailand, I hated having to take a shuttle all the way across the city to go out. When I switched over to a hostel, all I had to do was step outside, and I was in the middle of the nightlife. Much more my style.

2) Hostels aren't unsafe or unclean. They almost always have safeguards against theft and are cleaned more than you think.
For some reason, everyone seems to have the impression that hostels are dirty. The thing is, most hostels I've stayed in are cleaner than almost anywhere else — they often have a full-time staff that works to keep the place spotless.

In fact, in the majority of hostels where I've stayed, my bed was made for me in the morning—sometimes with a mint on the pillow.

As for safety, it's true that sometimes things get stolen. But that can happen in a hotel too. In 4 years of traveling, though, I've never lost anything. I'm not even very careful — maybe I'm just lucky. But there is always a locker to store your valuables, so just keep your things safe and you'll be okay.

3) Hostels are an incredible way to meet people. It's like college for travelers — groups of young, fun people, all living together in a new place — with an attached bar.
This, by far, is the number one reason that I prefer hostels over hotels. Have you ever noticed how hotels often have ornate, beautiful furniture — but the furniture is always empty? Hostels are the exact opposite: they are always full of self-selected groups of outgoing people who want to meet new people.

When I travel to a new city, I don't want to sit in a room and check my internet from a desk. I want to explore, meet new people, and see what the city is like. And hostels provide that access: they give me a group of people who want to hang out and go out together. Travelers are always very welcoming and want to find other people to join them on activities, so it's never difficult to find something fun to do. The only problem is deciding what awesome activity you will enjoy each day.

And of course, the nightlife with hostel folks is amazing. You get to meet dozens of other travelers each night, go out, and enjoy drinks.

4) Hostels organize tours and events, and offer great information for fun (and cheap) things to do in the city.
Hostels always have tours and programs set up, and the owners of a hostel know exactly the best things to do in a city. They'll set you up with maps, guides, tours, and whatever else you need to know about the place you're exploring.

5)  Don't like sharing a room? No problem, get a private room.
Hostels don't only offer big dorms with 8+ people (or 30, like my hostel in Rio de Janeiro); they also have private rooms. If you want space, comfort, and more security, you can opt to pay a bit more and stay in a private room in a hostel. This is a nice compromise between hostels and hotels — you get a more private place to stay, but you're still near other travelers, the nightlife, and the hostel bar.

At my last hostel in Colombia, I stayed in a private room for a of couple weeks. The dorm cost $10/night, and the private room was $20. Not a bad deal! Especially when I shared the private room with my film editor, it was the same price as just staying in a dorm.

If you're afraid of hostels, think about it: why? Do you think you'll get robbed, or attacked? Is that fear rational, or are hostels just something you've been told to fear so you do?

Hostels offer an amazing and unique experience.

I, for one, am sticking with hostels instead of hotels from now on.

Maneesh Sethi is ardent travel hacker who seeks to find and create systems that allow you to create systems that help you build habits and achieve your goals, unconventionally and rapidly. He created a set of giveaways for Nomadic Matt readers regarding traveling and hostels. Get his Medellin Hostel Tour video and his guide to free office space at Hack The System.

Traveling soon? Book your trip with the following companies and help keep the lights on here at Nomadic Matt HQ
Flights from Vayama | Insurance from World Nomads | Accommodation from HW | G Adventure Tours

©Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Staycation’s Are All the Rage – But Where’s the Best Spot in the UK to Spend Yours?: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Staycation’s Are All the Rage – But Where’s the Best Spot in the UK to Spend Yours?: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Link to itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Staycation’s Are All the Rage – But Where’s the Best Spot in the UK to Spend Yours?

Posted: 29 Jul 2012 10:01 PM PDT

With a struggling economy, many people's holiday plans are the first to get cut from the budget in order to save those valuable pennies. Instead of heading abroad to France, Spain or further afield, Brits are staying on home soil and enjoying the best the UK has to offer.

But where is the best place to visit if you have a week or two to sample the delights of Blighty? Below are a few options:

One of the UK's most beautiful National Parks, Snowdonia offers some of the most spectacular scenery you can find in the UK and beyond. Rolling hills, high reaching peaks and vistas as far as the eye can see, Snowdonia can match any destination around the world. Its also open to all budgets, with accommodation spanning from camping and youth hostels to beautiful, large holiday homes. If you're looking for a bit of flexibility and pampering on your holidays then you won't struggle to find luxury self catering in Snowdonia and the areas around.

A surfer's haven, Newquay sees thousands of beach bums flock to it every year for great waves and parties to match. But it isn't all about the surf. This beautiful stretch of coastline can match any around the UK's shores and visitors of all ages will enjoy a visit. Stroll the beaches, stop in at one of the many cafes for tea and scones and if you're feeling energetic then get involved in some water sports, coasteering or one of the many other extreme options on offer! Accommodation isn't hard to come by, ranging from hostels and boutique hotels to beautiful B&Bs, Newquay has the lot.

It's not all about the countryside though! A UK city break can compete with most places around the world. If the economy is the reason you've had to stay at home then places like London and Edinburgh might also be outside the budget, but Manchester has been rebuilt into a stunning, quirky city with loads to see and do without the price tag of the capital. Explore the back streets and shops of the retro Northern Quarter, hop on the giant wheel for views over the city and beyond or get stuck in to the world class shopping. You could even time your trip to coincide with a show or music event you want to see, with Manchester usually second on the list behind London on the gigging scene. If you can handle a bit of rain, then Manchester is a great place to escape.

It's not all about holidays abroad, we've got plenty of great options on our own sands to keep you entertained, whatever you're looking for. So pack your swimwear, your hiking boots and your brolly (!) and discover your favourite UK escape.

Staycation's Are All the Rage – But Where's the Best Spot in the UK to Spend Yours? from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: The Weekly Photo: Colorful Homes in Warsaw

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: The Weekly Photo: Colorful Homes in Warsaw

The Weekly Photo: Colorful Homes in Warsaw

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 04:11 AM PDT

Colorful homes in Warsaw, Poland

Colorful homes in Warsaw, Poland

Traveling soon? Book your trip with the following companies and help keep the lights on here at Nomadic Matt HQ
Flights from Vayama | Insurance from World Nomads | Accommodation from HW | G Adventure Tours

©Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Camel Equestrian at the NT Outback Games: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Camel Equestrian at the NT Outback Games: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Link to itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Camel Equestrian at the NT Outback Games

Posted: 28 Jul 2012 06:39 PM PDT

Camel Equestrian!? Yes, really. Welcome to the Northern Territory, Australia’s Outback.

YouTube: Camel Equestrian at the NT Outback Games with Jim

Camel Equestrian at the NT Outback Games from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Home or Away? What are You Doing for a Holiday in 2012?: itravelnet.com Travel Blog plus 1 more

Home or Away? What are You Doing for a Holiday in 2012?: itravelnet.com Travel Blog plus 1 more

Link to itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Home or Away? What are You Doing for a Holiday in 2012?

Posted: 27 Jul 2012 07:00 PM PDT

With so much beautiful scenery, cosmopolitan cities and wide ranging activities, many Brits are choosing to stay at home for their holidays. But the lure of foreign sands, better weather and new cultures still lures people away to different places abroad. And no longer is it just across the Channel to France or Spain, we are travelling further afield where the pound goes further, even if the initial cost is higher.

Morocco holidays are one option which are growing in popularity as people go in search of variety and experiencing cultures different to their own. There's nothing quite like winding through the cramped souks and haggling for your choice of shopping with the locals. And it's just a short trip to be out in the mountains, heading to the desert or relaxing on a beach on the coast. Morocco is also a relatively short trip, just over the water from southern Spain meaning flights aren't too long if you are travelling with children.

For those that aren't concerned about longer journeys, long haul trips to Thailand are also drawing in more visitors as the cost on arrival is so low. With some of the best beaches in the world, luxury accommodation for a fraction of the price in the UK and exquisite food for pocket change, it's hard to overlook Thailand as a very attractive holiday option.

Maybe the UK can't compete with the beaches and weather of Thailand, but it certainly has plenty to offer to keep Brits on UK shores. Choose one of the best city breaks in the world in London, Edinburgh or an up and coming city like Manchester or Birmingham. Head to Norfolk for some of the best flowing countryside you'll ever see in the Norfolk Broads. If you're a history buff then York will provide you with enough history to keep you happy for a long time, along with its wonderful architecture, towering Minster and quaint cobbled streets. Or you can soak up the glorious British coastline from Cornwall, to the north east of England, stopping off at the north coast of Wales while you're at it.

On the accommodation front, you'll struggle to find anywhere better than the UK. Catering for all tastes, from boutique hotels to large luxury holiday cottages, you'll undoubtedly be able to find the perfect place to lay your head. It might be so good that you don't even make it outside to explore the surroundings!

Choosing a holiday destination is becoming more and more difficult as places around the world become more accessible, opening up a wider variety of options. But the UK continues to develop its tourist offering, whilst still maintaining the history and scenic draw that has always made it such an attraction.

Which option do you choose? Maybe we'll just have to do both…

Home or Away? What are You Doing for a Holiday in 2012? from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Ogoh-Ogoh Parade, Ubud Bali – Indonesia

Posted: 27 Jul 2012 08:53 AM PDT

Ogoh-Ogoh Parade, Ubud Bali - Indonesia

Ogoh-Ogoh Parade in Ubud on the eve of Nyepi day in Bali, Indonesia.

Travel Photos: Bali Photo Gallery

Ogoh-Ogoh Parade, Ubud Bali – Indonesia from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory