Looe, Cornwall, UK

This beautiful photograph was submitted by Elliot from ThatElliot.

Elliot is a 16-year-old aspiring writer from England, and student of English Literature and Drama. Additionally, he is a co-administrator at TravelBloggers.on.WordPress.

On his blog, he publishes his short stories and thoughts, and tells us about his summer project: hiking the Camino Way, an ancient pilgrimage route in Spain. The hike is for charity, so check out Elliot’s charity page here.

Elliot says about his photograph:

A black sky threatened to unleash a heavy downpour on us as I crossed the old, crumbling bridge connecting the two parts of the coastal town of Looe together.
Whilst  crossing I was struck by the varying colours as well as the blue sea turning into grey.
Like many coastal towns Looe features many bright houses, the most prominent in this particular snapshot into traditional England is the yellows and blues seen on many of the houses that, as a result of erosion, are left hanging over the edge of the surrounding hills.

 

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Glasgow, Scotland

This is our first featured black-and-white photograph, which was sent in by Iain from Life: A Scot in Norway.

It was taken in a subway station in Glasgow, Scotland.

Iain is a Scottish expatriate currently living in Bergen, Norway who

has ended up swapping life in Scotland as a carefree bachelor for married life over in Norway. I am married to Jorunn and have inherited four step-kids and a language problem…

Iain is passionate about photography and traveling, and his blog Life: A Scot in Norway features photos of everyday life, nature and the changing seasons.

15 Websites to Travel Like a Local, Get Inspired and Maybe Save Money

Travel is my passion. Many of us can say that.  Though I am passionate not only about my travels but also about those of everyone else. So much so, that I have made travel my professional field  so I can explore it as a social and economic phenomenon.

I am excited to see a new trend that is bringing travel to its full potential. This trend is what many refer to as the “sharing economy”. It propels travel into what it is meant to be – a meeting of minds, an experience of self-reinvention.

Airbnb and Couchsurfing are probably the most popular sites that people use to travel like a local. But there are many more that allow us to find a place at a local’s home and immerse in the local environment.

Not long ago, I put together a list of 15 websites similar to Airbnb and Couchsurfing, both for myself and for others who want to travel in this way.  I initially posted it on my blog, TRAVLPEER, which I launched to follow how the sharing economy unfolds in the world of travel.

I am sharing it with the group, as I think it might help some of us create a meaningful experience on our next trip. And maybe it can help us save some money. Some options are free, some are paid – there is something for every budget. Here is the original post.

15 Websites for Peer-to-Peer Travel Accommodations

One’s destination is never a place but a change of mindset. So, go ahead – pick and travel at your will.

Alaska Road Trip – how to be bear smart and other useful advice

Driving to or in Alaska is not as scary as some people would have you believe. Yes, you need to be mindful of certain things, but it’s not scary, honestly!

Last year I drove on my own from our home here in Southern Alberta, Canada to Alaska,  a total round trip of just under 7,000 km, and I would do it all again, and again, and again (although I think my family would not be best pleased!).

The start of the Alaskan Highway

The start of the Alaskan Highway

The first thing I would advise anybody wanting to do a road trip to Alaska, is to go and buy the latest edition of ‘The Milepost’.
This fantastic guide has every mile in Alaska and parts of Canada logged. It has information on roads, towns, accommodation, shops, attractions, dangers you could face, and every natural beauty spot you could imagine. This book became my bible before, and during my trip.

Now, you don’t have to plan everything to the last bit, but in a state where gas stations can be few and far between, some planning is necessary if you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of nowhere having run out of gas. Don’t get me wrong, somebody will stop and help you, but that could be a while depending on where you are.

I would sometimes drive for hours without meeting so much as an oncoming car, so it’s advisable that you fuel up every chance you get, and are always aware how far away the next gas station is. And if like me your car takes premium gas, be prepared that some gas stations do not carry premium gas (oh, and the price goes up exponentially when you get into remote areas).

I literally planned my driving days from gas station to gas station and only came close once to running out of gas (although, even that was planned, as I knew that one tank would get me to my destination – just).

The other thing you should make sure of, is that you have a good spare tire on board. The days where you needed a full set of spares are in my mind gone. Most little towns have a car repair shop or somebody who is able to do it for you. Yes, it might mean a slight change to your travel plans, but sometimes the unexpected stops are the best. Make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition and you should be able to do some of the basic maintenance yourself. I bought a tire puncture repair kit (which I didn’t need to use), and one of these jump start/tire inflator things. I was glad I had them with me, just in case.

On the Alaskan Highway - hours go by without ever meeting another car.

On the Alaskan Highway – hours go by without ever meeting another car.

The Milepost, together with those who travel up and down the Alaskan Highways on a regular basis, will tell you that the Alaskan Highway (the Alcan) will be very busy during the summer months of July and August and that you will spend the majority of your drive sitting behind trailers and RV’s, waiting for an opportunity to overtake. I must admit, I did not find this to be the case. Perhaps I was just lucky, but I only found myself in this situation a couple of times. Yes, on occasion the roads were busy, again, depending on where you go. The busiest part for me was actually back in Canada, on the Icefields Parkway, between Jasper and Banff, but even then, I didn’t mind being slowed down, it gave me time to admire the landscape and animals we came across.

Talking about animals, we have all heard the horror stories (or seen the YouTube videos) of people being attacked by bears/wolves/cougars etc. Again, yes it can happen, but usually because the animal was surprised to find you there or you were trying to feed it (yes, believe it or not, people will try and feed these animals).

As I was travelling solo I bought some bear spray as a precaution, but to be honest, the only time this will work is if you are fairly close to the bear.
Your best bet is to be bear smart and try to never surprise a bear, keep all food and items like perfume, toothpaste etc far away from where you intent to sleep (that is, if you are tenting or camping), lock these items into your vehicle or hoist them in a cooler high up into the trees.

Remember that if a black bear is following you, climbing a tree will not help you, as they are really good at following you up that tree. The majority of bear incidents happen because the humans didn’t do the smart thing. It’s not just bears that can be a potential danger out in Alaska, moose are as deadly as anything. If you intent to drive during the dark hours you must be prepared to encounter these large beasts. Here in Canada more people are killed by moose than by bear, and I am sure it’s not that different over in Alaska. If your car has a close encounter with a moose, 99 out of 100 times you and your car will lose, whereas the moose will be able to walk on.

One of many black bears that I encountered along the roadside

One of many black bears that I encountered along the roadside

I had absolutely no issues with animals on my trip (if I ignore the cheeky chipmunk that was trying to steal my bread). I came close to all sorts of animals, but with a healthy respect for them and the environment I was in, it was always a great experience.

A note on booking ahead. If you are planning on taking any ferry, whether as a foot passenger or with your vehicle, be aware that booking as far in advance as possible is a necessity.
I took two ferries with my car; the first from Haines to Juneau and the second from Juneau to Whittier. Both of these I had booked as soon as the new schedule for that year came out; in this case 10 months before I travelled.

Ferries like these book up real fast, especially if you have a trailer/RV, and also if you want a cabin. The Haines to Juneau ferry was only a 5 hour ride and this route operates on a regular basis throughout the summer. In contrast, the Juneau to Whittier ferry (the Cross Gulf ferry) only operates twice a month and car space is at a premium. So, ensure you book as soon as you can to avoid disappointment (my whole trip was planned around the Cross Gulf ferry).

As for accommodation, I only booked ahead for towns/cities where I stayed longer than one night, which was only the cased for Haines, Juneau and Anchorage. I had no issues finding a campsite for tenting or hotels in any of the other places I overnighted.

Looking out into the inlet from Haines, Alaska

Looking out into the inlet from Haines, Alaska

Here are some random things I learned on this trip that might help you in some way (in no particular order):

–      it rains more in Alaska during the summer than I thought, so be prepared

–      potholes are on every highway and road, get used to avoiding them unless you want to train yourself in changing your tire

–      anywhere with a port will inevitably have a cruise ship or 10, so be prepared for the masses in these towns/cities (i.e. Juneau, Skagway, Haines)

–      wildlife will not stand and pose for you near the highways, so don’t be too disappointed if you don’t see any

–      if you want to go and do things like whale watching or any other organized activity, and you don’t like the masses to be with you, spend some time researching to find smaller local companies that will often offer you a much better deal with much smaller groups

–      go off the beaten path every once in a while

–      take time to stop on the road every so often to take in the scenery and admire the wildflowers along the highways and roads

–      don’t over pack, most of the items you think you will need end up at the bottom of your car only seeing the light of day when you unload at home after your trip (trust me, I had a few of those items lurking in my car)

So, if you plan a little ahead, have some common sense and are not afraid of the unknown a trip like this can be the experience of a lifetime; it sure was for me!

If you would like to read about my trip last year, please come and visit my blog http://storki.wordpress.com/category/alaska/.

Never Travel.

TravelOpensMind

Never Travel.

Said no one…ever.

How the travel bug is not a world-wide infectious disease baffles me. However, I must keep my open-mind and accept that not everyone has the same interests and passions. I will say though, that I am where I am today, only because of the adventures I’ve taken in the past. I cannot even begin to imagine where my life would be had I not been intrigued by the idea of studying abroad when the study abroad fair was on my college campus. Luckily, the Australian application was due that same day, otherwise…maybe I wouldn’t have gone later on, in 2009, and met the hubs.

Anyways, how perfect was the idea to study abroad? Experience a new place, new culture, new food, new people, new…EVERYTHING. What better way to learn? I’ll let you in on a secret, experience is much more interesting than a book 😉 The only thing I had to do was convince my family of this amazing idea. Big THANK YOU for their support from the beginning.

San Sebastian, Basque Country (Northern Spain *sorry to anyone I upset calling it either place*) was my first real abroad experience. Well, except for the week exploration adventure in Madrid where I made dear friends and unforgettable memories. Toledo, cathedrals, museums, El Prado, Valley of the Fallen, El Escorial, Royal Palace…and those are just the places off the top of my head. In San Sebastian, I lived with Mertxe, the sweetest 77 year old woman. Immediately submerging me into the culture, as she did not speak 1 word in English. We watched movies, TV, and could eventually have long conversations over lunch and dinner. It was definitely one of the better choices to live with a host family.

Looking back, something I would have changed…and a BIG recommendation for students, or anyone else going to study abroad.

Surround yourself in the language and culture as much as you can.

Being my first time out, I will admit I spent most of the time with Americans. That said, mi espanol es muy malo. My spanish is very bad. However, no regrets!

It was there that the travel bug bit me. I loved hearing different stories and meeting new people. I loved doing things that would be impossible from my own city. I took advantage of my time in Europe, and the incredibly cheap flights and eurail passes between the countries and spent weekends visiting new places, and explored 6 weeks after my course with a backpack. Upon returning home, I finished school and was faced with a very important question: Do I continue studying, start working, or do more exploring? The answer seemed so clear. So, how does a recent graduate with no money explore the world? Easy…find a place that will allow you to work! Australia. Working-Holiday Visa.

The rest, is history. Met my man, fell in love…and since then have explored New Zealand, Thailand, and lived in Brazil. In fact, I am on my way to Brazil right now. I’m excited to spend time with my friends and family, enjoying some World Cup excitement, and really, in my mind, live the dream.

I’ve learned so much along the way, and look forward to continuing to expand my mind….broaden my perspective, and hopefully, with this post, inspire others to do the same.

So, please share some experiences with me!

Jennifer xo

 

Featured Images Event, Sunday, 29 June.

And yes, it’s Groundhog Day again!
On Sunday, 29 June, the next Featured Images Event will take place.
We will feature six travel-related photographs in our slider on the front page and introduce each photographer in a short post.

If you want to see one of your photographs on our front page, go here and read everything you need to know about how to participate and what kind of pictures we are looking for.

Use the opportunity to share your Travel Photography with our growing community of TravelBloggers and Travelers.

You can send in your pictures until and including Friday, 27 June.