Friday, August 30, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Iconic Bridge of the Month: Stone Bridge (Regensberg, Germany)

Posted: 29 Aug 2013 02:55 PM PDT

STEINERNE BRÜCKE QUICK FACTS Location: Regensberg, Germany River: Danube Built: circa 1140 Length: 309 metres Style: Arch (Stone) With history back to Roman times, Regensberg is one of Europe’s finest preserved medieval towns. A highlight is the plainly named Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke) which elegantly arches across the Danube River. Similarly to Devil’s Bridge in Cividale del...

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Everything you need to know about Scuba Diving

Posted: 27 Aug 2013 02:43 PM PDT

by Paul Johnston Scuba diving is one of the most popular activities to do when on holiday. This isn’t just for those who go on designated diving holidays, however, but also among more casual holidaymakers looking to explore the clear blue seas and marine life for themselves. There is nothing quite like the feeling of strapping on breathing apparatus and plumbing the depths, so it’s...

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: How This 70 Year Old Couple Bucked Convention to Travel the World

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: How This 70 Year Old Couple Bucked Convention to Travel the World

How This 70 Year Old Couple Bucked Convention to Travel the World

Posted: 26 Aug 2013 10:09 AM PDT

don and alison, a happy senior couple traveling the worldWhen I saw him in the hostel, I couldn’t help but smile. There he was, a man who could have been my grandfather, hanging out with college-aged backpackers and having the time of his life. The younger travelers were enamored with his stories of past travels and his ability to drink them under the table. No one cared he was in his 70s. Age mattered not one bit.

I believe that most of my advice on this website is universal. Maybe as an older couple or family you’ll skip hostels or avoid Couchsurfing, but when we land in Paris, we all face the same costs and list of potential activities, regardless of age. I think, especially here in the United States, there is a belief that you just can’t travel when you’re 70 or have medical problems. And while there are a few things to be more mindful of as you get older, I disagree that there is a special category called “senior travel.” The differences between how I travel and how a 70-year-old travels are really minimal.

So when Don and Alison approached me about their story, I had to share it. Because here is a “senior” couple, limited by some medical issues, engaging in adventures I only dream about. I think their story can teach and inspire a lot of us.

Nomadic Matt: Hi guys! Tell everyone about yourselves.
Don: I'm a 70-year-old retired neuropsychologist. Two years ago, I made a decision to retire because I'd developed a number of medical problems due to stress from work. I was working myself into sickness. Alison (my wife, who is 63) and I didn’t have enough savings to be able to keep our home and do the kind of world travel we wanted to do. We agonized over what to do for a long time until it became clear that it came down to the question of "Do we want to have a home or do we want to have a life?" So we made the decision to sell our home. We've now been on the road, with occasional trips back to our hometown to restock our basic supplies and see our friends, for two years, and plan to continue living a nomadic life for the foreseeable future.

What inspired you to become nomadic?
Don: Initially it was the desire to see the places that were at the top of our bucket list, and after that to see as much of the world as we could before we got too old to travel.

Alison: Inspiration came first from Don writing daily "morning pages" (from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way) in search of some answers to the retirement/income dilemma. One day out of the blue, he suggested to me that we could sell the condo and go traveling. I didn't immediately say yes to this but it was a seed that grew of its own accord until one day, we realized this is what we'd do. I had a nice life at home, but Don was done with work and struggling to keep going. Something had to give.

don and alison, a happy senior couple traveling the world

Where have your travels taken you so far?
Don: After selling our home, we went to Europe. Following that we went to Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India, where we stayed for 10 weeks in order to spend time meditating at the ashram of Ramana Maharshi. From there we went to Bali, then to Australia to spend time with some of Alison's family and friends. We’ve also been back to India, all over Southeast Asia, and, most recently, Mexico.

Did your friends and family think you were crazy for doing this?
Don: Probably, although no one said that to our faces. Everyone was surprised, some of them seemed perhaps a bit shocked, and many of them told us that we had a lot of courage for taking this step and encouraged us to go for it.

Do you feel that your age was in any way a problem or limiting?
Don: When we first began traveling, I was concerned about my health and whether I'd be able to stay healthy, particularly when traveling in Third World countries. However, as we’ve traveled, I realized I can get sick overseas, take appropriate medications, and get well again. It’s not as hard as I thought to get the necessary care when you travel.

Alison: It never occurred to me that age has anything to do with anything. I'm young, fit and healthy and mostly do what I need to do to stay that way. At the same time, I'm aware that Don has some manageable health issues that we need to pay attention to, but nothing that really prevents us from doing what we want to do. He's so much healthier and happier than when he was working.

Having said that, we're not cavalier about our bodies. We know that things sometimes take longer to heal than when we were younger. For this reason, we draw the line at things like white-water rafting. Apart from the fact that neither of us are experienced at it, we know that one good jolt could result in whiplash that could take weeks to heal. Still, we've hiked in fairly difficult terrain, been swimming with elephants, gone kayaking, ridden camels at dawn in the desert, and climbed volcanoes in the dark.

don and alison, a happy senior couple traveling the worldHow did you save money for your travels?
Don: I had been putting money into a Canadian Registered Retirement Savings Plan for many years. These savings and any interest earned on them are tax-free until such time as I begin to withdraw them. We sold our home at what appears now to have been the peak of the Vancouver housing market in August 2011 and put the money to work in investments. We also receive a monthly pension from a Canadian Federal government plan that I contributed to from the time I was in my early 20's until I retired.

How do you manage your money on the road?
Don: We budget about $50 per day for our accommodation, plus another $50 for meals and entertainment. Recently, we've started staying in places for longer periods of time and have begun renting apartments instead of staying in hotels. The price per night is often about the same as a hotel room, but we save money by making our own meals. We regularly splurge on guided tours or treks, or big events like the Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca.

A lot of older couples and individuals feel that round the world trips are for young people. What would you say to them?
Don: Do it anyway while you still have the health and strength to do it. We're more flashpackers than backpackers: we usually stay in three-star hotels because we can do that on our budget, and the rooms we rent must have wi-fi and an en-suite bathroom. We book hotel rooms or apartments online using,, or

Alison: I think there are a lot of myths about "old age" that people live into. I don't understand the idea that adventure and a love of life are only for the "young". We’ve met a full-of-life ninety-two-year-old who learnt to play the fiddle in his seventies and regularly jams with a group of buddies, a seventy-eight-year-old woman who says when she's eighty she'll be ready to sell her house and go traveling, and an eighty-something woman who was traveling alone in Myanmar. We love role models like this. Life's what you make it, and you only get one chance to live this life.

Do you stay in hostels? When you meet young backpackers on your trip, how do they react? I usually find that they tend to get excited about senior travelers. It's a "cool" thing.
Don: We haven't stayed in hostels for two main reasons: the first being because of my concerns about the security of our belongings, and the second being that we like the luxury of a private bathroom. That being said, the young backpackers we've met on the road have been very positive about us doing what we're doing at our age.

don and alison, a happy senior couple traveling the world

Did you have any fears about traveling before you started?
Don: Alison has always been much more adventurous than me, so when we first began traveling I had a lot of fears about getting sick in Third World countries. Now that we've been traveling for almost two years a lot of those fears are gone because we've been sick and recovered without having to be sent back to Canada.

Alison: I don't like flying. It's one of my biggest fears. As long as things are going smoothly and I can immerse myself in a movie I'm fine. But any turbulence and I'm a white-knuckle mess. [Matt says: me too!] Apart from that I don't think I was ever really afraid because I'd done so much traveling when I was younger.

What was the biggest thing you’ve learned from your travels so far?
Don: That traveling really does broaden the mind. We've discovered that people are people wherever we go and that the great majority of them are friendly and helpful. If you approach people in a friendly and openhearted way that is what you are most likely to get back. We do our best to come with a sense of respect for the people we meet on our travels, regardless of their circumstances. We've also found that making the effort to learn a few basic words and phrases of the local language does wonders for connecting with the people of a country!

I'm much happier and healthier than I was two years ago. I now know from personal experience why people love to travel. The world and its peoples are much more friendly and much less scary than various government websites would have us believe.

Alison: Everything Don said, and always learn how to say "I'm sorry" in the local language. And presence. There's no past, no future. Only now. The longer we travel the more this truth is actually lived. Whenever I feel vulnerable I return to the present because it is here that life is lived.

What advice would you give to people looking to do something similar?
Alison: Don't go blind. Do your research. The more information you gather before you go, the better you'll be prepared, and the less vulnerable you'll feel. At the same time, don't organize yourself into a tight schedule. Leave room for spontaneity. Trust yourself, and go for it. Until you do it you cannot even begin to imagine the rewards that come from such a life. The world is an astonishing place, and people are more openhearted than you'd ever believe from watching the nightly news. Oh, that's another thing – stop watching the news: it gives you a very negative view of the word!

Don and Alison are a real inspiration. They found a way to make travel work for them and it even made Don a healthier and happier person! I really do love their story as well as what they had to say about their experience. The couple have set up a blog about their travels that you can read here.

P.S. – Want your story featured on this site? I’m currently looking for non-Americans (bonus points for Indians and Filipinos), families, or broke college students to feature on this site. E-mail a brief summary of your story at

The post How This 70 Year Old Couple Bucked Convention to Travel the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Mysteries of Cividale del Fruili (Italy)

Posted: 24 Aug 2013 03:48 PM PDT

Today the picturesque northern Italian town of Cividale del Fruili is an ideal place to meander among the narrow cobbled streets and wander the peaceful banks of the sparkling Natisone River. This relaxed ambiance masks a town rich in history and importance dating from settlement in Julius Caesar's time (with evidence of earlier Celtic habitation) and a number of fascinating tales and mysteries...

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Interview with Frugal Traveler and Writer, Matt Gross

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Interview with Frugal Traveler and Writer, Matt Gross

Interview with Frugal Traveler and Writer, Matt Gross

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 03:16 PM PDT

In December 2009, I saw the tweet that changed my life. It was from Matt Gross, who was then the Frugal Traveler for the New York Times. He tweeted asking if there were any travel bloggers who were earning any money from their blog. I tweeted back the Internet equivalent of "Teacher, pick me, pick me, pick me!"

And pick me for an interview he did.

I remember eating lunch when I got his call and holding up my Kiwi Experience group while he interviewed me on blogging, press trips, and travel.

A few weeks later my interview went live on the New York Times website and within a few hours, crashed my server (first world blogger problems, right?).

That was my first big break. Everything changed after that day and that interview led to some amazing opportunities that never seemed to have stopped.

Since that interview, Matt and I have become good friends. We both live in NYC and frequently see each other (he just recently got me to eat some fiery tripe for the first time at a local Szechuan restaurant).

A few months ago, Matt released a new book, The Turk who Loved Apples. This travelogue chronicles (some) of his misadventures around the world since he left to teach English in Vietnam after college.

I had Matt over at my apartment to interview him about his book. Here are two Matts talking travel, (mis)adventure, and whether Vietnam is awesome or not (spoiler: it's not):

(Want more travel videos? I now update my YouTube channel each week with a new video. Subscribe here and get free videos!)

I enjoyed Matt's book tremendously, not least because he's a better writer than I, but also because each chapter uses a different story to highlight lessons for beginner travelers – from feeling alone, to wanting to go home, to getting lost, and everything in between. I dog-eared a number of pages. One of my favorite parts of the book was when he writes about the ephemeral nature of travel friendships and the constant good-byes. As Matt says "While I'd be overjoyed to see them again…I harbor no expectation that will happen. The best and most responsible thing I can do is to remember them, to honor the brief joys of our relationship….and to cross my fingers our paths will cross once more."

If you are looking for a good travel book that provides interesting stories as well as travel advice, pick up The Turk Who Loved Apples. If you're an experienced traveler, you'll be able to see yourself in many of his stories. If you're a new traveler, you'll learn to avoid some common travel mistakes.

And if you want more of Matt, you can find him now as the online editor of Bon Appetite as well as on Twitter at World Matt World. You can pick up a copy of his book on Amazon.

The post Interview with Frugal Traveler and Writer, Matt Gross appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: 19 Travel Goals to Accomplish Before 35

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: 19 Travel Goals to Accomplish Before 35

19 Travel Goals to Accomplish Before 35

Posted: 20 Aug 2013 07:59 AM PDT

to do listBack in June, as I was reflecting on another birthday, I looked at a very, very old version of my website and spotted a list of travel goals I’d written. I'd forgotten about that list. As I made changes to the site, I moved the list around, eventually removed it, put it back, and then put it aside for later use. But like so many lists I write, I had forgotten it in the dust bin of my mind.

But seeing that list again made me think about how five years ago I had all these lofty travel goals — and they sort of sputtered out. To be fair, I’ve done some amazing things in the last five years (Galapagos Islands? Check! La Tomatina? Check! Learn to scuba dive? Check! Oktoberfest? Double steins of beer? Double check!) but seeing all those uncompleted goals made me a little sad.

Now, I hate bucket lists – as if there's some set number of activities to enjoy in the world in order to die happy. I think that's crap. Life changes and so do your goals and desires. The bucket list you write when you're 20 is not the same one you write at 40. If I wrote a bucket list 10 years ago, it wouldn't include 90% of the things I've done with my life.

But as I reflect on that long lost list, I think after five years, it’s time for a new list. Mostly because I love lists (I make at least one a day) but also because it would be good to collect and refocus my thoughts.

As a nomad, there's nowhere in the world I don't want to see at some point, but there are definite things I want to do and places I want to see sooner rather than later.

So instead of writing a bucket list, I'm writing my travel priorities for the next three years in order to better focus and have some goals to strive for.

Safari in East Africa
safari in africa
This is one of the things I want most in the world, but I'm only going to make this trek with someone else. As I discovered in Africa, such beauty is best not seen alone and a long safari around the region will be on hold until I find someone to go with.

Hike the Inca Trail
Machu Picchu, Peru
I can barely hike up my stairs without getting winded (I need to follow more of Steve's advice!) but the thought of hiking this ancient path, setting sight on Machu Picchu, and wondering how the hell they managed to build a city on a mountain top (and maybe even getting photobombed by a llama) is too appealing to pass up.

See the World Cup
the world cup
I'm a huge soccer fan and the World Cup just seems like a crazy party you can't miss. I got into the sport when I began traveling around the world and knowing Latin America’s love obsession with the sport, I can only imagine how great it will be next year. Brazil 2014, here I come!

Spend 4 -5 months backpacking South America – I'll be tying my World Cup goal into what will be my next major trip. I don't like piecemeal travel and I'd rather explore this entire region in one go, so despite my attempts at slowing down and becoming more settled, New York City will take a brief backseat to South America next spring while I roam the continent.

See Antarctica
Penguins, glaciers, and whales, oh my!

Spend a month living in the Seychelles
the seychelles is my paradise
These islands are what my version of heaven would look like, so why not spend a cold winter month there soaking in the sun? Sounds perfectly fine to me.

Climb to Everest base camp – Given my general out of shapeness, this is going to be a real challenge, but one I will prepare for and embrace.

Sail along the Amazon and explore the heart of the rainforest – Because ever since I saw photos of this river, I’ve felt the need to satiate my inner Indiana Jones and explore this vast, wild, sometimes uncharted, out of the way region.

See the Northern Lights
bermuda beaches and clear blue water
Because it's too beautiful to pass up!

Take the Trans-Siberian Railway – I’ve always dreamed of this long train journey and my desire has only increased since Katie wrote about her trip. This long, rustic train ride also appeals to me because in the age of the Internet, travel has gotten too easy and there’s no Internet here to rely on. It’s just you and your travel skills.

Cruise around the Pacific IslandsBecause Torre made me jealous and I think it would be pretty fun to pretend I'm Robinson Crusoe. Sailing the islands is difficult to accomplish, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Spend a week in Borobudur trying to figure out the meaning of life
Borobudur base reliefs
Borobudur is a Buddhist temple in Indonesia whose winding walkway is lined with reliefs of Buddhist teachings. The higher up you get, the harder the reliefs become. Monks were supposed to figure out the meaning of each relief before moving on. When you've made it to the top, you've unlocked all the Buddha's teachings. That's a challenge I accept.

Walk the Camino de Santiago – Can I walk across Spain? I don't know, but it will be fun to try. I’ve heard so many good stories about this trip that even if I only make it halfway, I think I’ll enjoy it.

See Petra, Jordan
petra jordan treasury
Ever since I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as a kid, I've always wanted to visit this historic site. Many of my friends have visited and come back with wonderful stories of not only Petra but of Jordan, too. I just have to remember that the cup can’t cross the seal or we’re all doomed (Indiana Jones reference).

Travel to the Arctic and see polar bears – I can't see one pole without seeing the other. It’s only fair, right? Plus, I want to see these amazing animals before they go extinct.

Spend three months in India
taj mahal in india
Because it's too big and interesting to spend any less time here. I just don’t feel a short trip would do the country justice.

Learn about wine in France
bermuda beaches and clear blue water
I'm a wino and it would be fascinating to learn about the complexities of what I'm drinking. Is that a hint of raspberry in there? Why yes, it is!

Sail around the Caribbean – Just call me Captain Nomadic Jack Sparrow.

Visit Morocco – This country has been on my must-see list for far too long. I love Moroccan food, the kasbahs seem amazing, and a camel ride in the desert is just what the doctor ordered.

Will I get to all of these by the time I'm 35? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. But I plan to refer to this often as a way to check-in and keep myself on track. If I only accomplish these 19 things in the next three years, I will have done a lot, expanded the places I’ve seen in the world, and be one very, very happy nomad.

So here is to goals and making them happen!

The post 19 Travel Goals to Accomplish Before 35 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Dundee: Scotland’s Secret Escape

Posted: 19 Aug 2013 03:37 PM PDT

by Stephanie Sheehan Dundee is one of Scotland's hidden gems, perfect for those looking for an alternative city break this autumn.  Found in the county of Angus, a trip to Dundee brilliantly combines all three of Scotland's most impressive assets, a striking coast line, spectacular countryside and a vibrant, cultural city life. Plus with a quirky history, that includes being home of the famous...

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

1297 Magna Carta (Canberra, Australia)

Posted: 16 Aug 2013 04:36 PM PDT

Written in shorthand Latin (after all writing material were expensive in those days) on vellum, the Magna Carta (Great Charter) is one of the world’s most important legal documents influencing the constitutions of many countries (including Australia, Canada and USA). Initially issued in 1215 by King John, this version is from 1297 (under King Edward 1) and is one of only 17 existing copies...

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