Top 3 Forest Eco-Camp Adventures

The problem with so called eco-tourism is that the carbon emissions of flights kind of negate the point of an eco-holiday. Putting this aside, there are many positive aspects of eco-tourism, such as the preservation of nature. You can always try and find an eco-camp close to home but this article looks at three great camps from around the world. If you’re the sort of person who thinks a holiday lying on a beach towel is boring and you long for the great outdoors, the sounds of the forest and the scent of the campfire, then these 3 back-to-nature style retreats are for you. I’ve tried them all and can personally recommend each one for different reasons. The atmosphere in each forest in unique and surviving in different forests around the world requires totally different skill sets. These eco-friendly camping trips also involve learning about bush craft, wildlife, survival and getting in touch with your hunter-gatherer roots. Bush Craft and Yurts in English woodland Surrey and Sussex are the most heavily wooded counties in Britain and they happen to be right on London’s doorstep. If you are visiting England then it’s worth going off the tourist trail and seeing the real English countryside. There is an eco-camp close to the Surrey/ Sussex border in Shadow Woods near Billingshurst. You can take a train directly to Billingshurst from London if you don’t have access to a car. You can learn bush craft and survival techniques from the Woodland Skills company in this beautiful old forest. They offer yurts for sleeping and run seasonal courses for foraging, coppicing (making fences from living hazel), nature awareness, charcoal burning and making fire by friction. It’s fascinating to learn these ancient skills before they are lost to mankind. The forest is still managed in the traditional way, just as it was by medieval peasants and Anglo-Saxon tribes long before. You are likely to see several species of deer in these woods, as well as a variety of birds.   Woodland Cabins in Sweden   These traditional charcoal burners’ forest huts are even more rustic and adventurous. I visited in summer so it was hot every day, but it a very different experience during the freezing Swedish winter. You may be surprised to learn that Swedish forests are plagued by huge mosquitoes and other biting insects during the summer months. Fortunately though, Kolarbyn is relatively free from their irritating presence. The Kolarbyn lodge is near a large lake in which you can take a refreshing dip and there are also many pleasant walks in the area. There’s even a floating, wood fire sauna on the lake! There are fresh blueberries growing all over these peaceful woods in which moose, wolves and even bears are said to frequent. The only animals that visit the camp itself are small birds and squirrels but you can pay extra for a safari if you want to see beavers, moose, wolves or bears. It’s a [...]

2018-04-02T22:22:19+00:00 By |

Tips to Planning a Fitness Vacation

Planning a Fitness Vacation A vacation is the perfect opportunity to get away from your hectic life, relax and spend time doing the things you love. If you enjoy nothing more than your daily yoga practice, morning run or weekend hike, a fitness vacation may be your perfect escape. However, as many traditional vacations usually involve lounging poolside with a mai tai, knowing how to turn your ideas for an exercise getaway into a reality can be difficult. Here are some tips to help achieve your perfect fitness vacation. Decide How Much Fitness You Want When you begin planning your fitness vacation the first decision to make is how much exercise you want to get. Whether you want to be able to simply take a yoga class every day or go on daily guided bike excursions, or spend a week climbing a mountain, deciding what level of fitness you want from your trip will make planning easier and your trip more enjoyable. No matter what fitness level you choose to tackle on your vacation, make sure you pick lodging that has hot water on demand. You’ll need to soak those sore muscles after adventuring all day long. Pick Your Poison when Planning a Fitness Vacation Once you’ve decided how much exercise you want to get, it’s important to choose what kind of exercise you want. Picking what form of fitness to focus on, or if you want a variety of activities to choose from, or even if you want to try something new will make it easier to choose your travel destination. Know What’s Out There Since fitness vacations have recently grown in popularity, there are several travel groups who have created vacations organized all around exercise that you may not know about, that can help you book your ideal trip. If you’re looking for a group bicycle trip through Vermont, or a hiking trip to Machu Picchu, or a stand-up paddle boarding excursion in Alaska there are websites and travel groups that will help you book the vacation of a lifetime. There are also resorts and yoga centers that offer wellness retreats to truly help you get away and rediscover your center. Gotta Go!: Cycling Vacations in Fantastic Locations Check The Weather As obvious as it sounds, checking the weather for your travel destination is absolutely vital for a perfect fitness trip, especially if your exercise of choice involves the outdoors. Before booking your trip, learn about what the weather will be like at your destination when you plan on visiting. If there’s even a chance that the weather could rain on your parade, getting in the way of your daily ocean swims, be sure that your hotel or resort has fitness amenities and a way for you to get your fitness fix indoors. Book Health-Conscious Lodging If you’re planning a fitness vacation all around exercise, chances are you want to eat healthy too. This makes finding and booking a stay at a place that will [...]

2018-04-02T22:24:00+00:00 By |

Benefits of Traveling: Seeing New Things Creates Vital Neural Pathways, Builds the Brain

As if you needed another reason to take that trip that’s been on your bucket list for decades… Not many people recognize the true benefits of traveling. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and author of several books on Alzheimer’s prevention, including ‘The Memory Bible’ and more recently, ‘The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,’ was quoted in the June 2012 issue of Prevention magazine informing us that, “Research shows that travel helps build vital neural pathways.” Prevention goes on to note that, “Navigating unfamiliar places, tasting new foods, or learning even just a few words of another language delivers the brain-building effect.” This is in keeping with the ‘use it or lose it’ that is increasingly accepted among neuroscientists in regards to keeping our brains healthy. Benefits of Traveling for the Brain Travel, of course, provides ample opportunity to use our brains as we expose ourselves and respond to new and interesting stimuli. But if you really want to reap the most benefits of traveling, take the rest of Small’s advice: Take a walk, or better yet a forest bathing nature hike in that new place. Small emphasizes over and over again that physical exercise is the most proven way to lessen one’s risk of cognitive decline. His research has found walking for as little as 15 minutes a day can lower one’s risk. Data also suggests benefits from weight and strength training. Treat yourself to a meal rich in omega-3s (think fish and/or olive oil), fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Avoid processed foods. Manage stress. Research has shown that an injection of cortisol, a stress hormone, can temporarily impair learning and recall. Stress may also increase chance of death by any given cause by 50%. Before stressing out, try these 3 natural ways to reduce stress. Exercise your brain. Of course, this is the goal of taking that exotic trip, but if it’s not realistic for you to hit the road, armed with an adventurous spirit and maybe a map, do what you can to challenge your brain wherever you are. Eat something, do something, learn something new. Use it or lose it. Small’s guidelines may seem too simple to make a difference, but skeptics take note: In a study of 115 older adults from two retirement communities, a six-week ‘lifestyle training program’ emphasizing memory training, physical activity, stress reduction, and healthy diet led to significant improvement in both encoding and recalling new verbal information, as well as self-perception of memory. The bottom line, Smith has said, is that if everybody in the nation started taking walks and making the right lifestyle choices, there would be one million fewer cases of Alzheimer’s within five years. Wow. Now that’s advice worth remembering. Additional Sources: ScienceDaily  

2018-04-02T22:25:58+00:00 By |

Top 10 Booking Hacks For The Best Hotel Deals

Top 10 Booking Hacks For The Best Hotel Deals Trevor and I love to stay in hotel rooms.  We are those people who feel the most at home when we check into a suite and place our luggage at the end of the bed. It's our 'zen', a weight off our shoulders and our guilty pleasure.  But on the subject of frequent travelling, there is one thing we really don't like about hotels- paying to much for them. Over the years we have developed some great strategies for paying the lowest hotel prices possible, so we might as well share the love. Here is our insiders guide: Top 10 Booking Hacks For The Best Hotel Deals!  Listen, this blog is for people who seriously want to save money on hotels.  The tips we give here are literally our secrets for being able to travel as much as we do, seeing as we are not millionaires, but our wanderlust seems to think we are. p.s. Bookmark this page right now so you can whip it out when it's time to book your next hotel stay! #1- Time Is Money The tortoise wins the race in this game.  Without patience and time to put into booking your hotel suite, ALLLLLL of the following tips we give you will mean diddly squat.  When you invest your time into researching, comparing and booking, that is when you will score the best deal.  In our experience the best deals don't usually just pop out of nowhere, you have to hunt them down and be ready to double check your work. Think of what the value is for you if you did save a few hundred bucks on a hotel stay. Is it worth spending and hour or two with 10,000 browser tabs open?  For us the answer is YES. #2- Try Off Season or Shoulder Season We do this ALL the time!  If we really want to stay in a specific hotel or visit a certain city that is usually out of budget, we consider their peak season.... and then avoid it like the plague! It gives me a headache thinking about paying double and being squashed amongst tons of other tourists in the middle of an area's 'busy season'.  Just because it's the 'off' or 'shoulder' season does not mean it's bad.  In some cases the weather might be more tolerable, the attractions easier to see, and just a more relaxed pace of life. For example, we visited New Orleans in July, dead smack in the middle of their off season. Yes, it was hot, but we like that!  We got a great deal on our suite at the Windsor Court because we didn't try and book it between February and May, which is their busiest time. #3- Compare, Compare, Compare Here is where you invest a little bit of time, and if you are anything like me, you will have multiple taps open and a notebook to jot [...]

2018-03-10T21:35:55+00:00 By |

Why We All Need To Travel

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to travel.  I was blessed to have been been able to study abroard in Florence, Italy during my junior year at Stanford University and have had the “travel bug” ever since. I consider it an important part of my mental health and well-being.  It’s also a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and to gain a greater sense of balance and purpose that too many people take for granted.  Even as a single parent mom, I have always prioritized travelling as a family.  My two sons and I have travelled all over the world together.  The memories that you create with your family through travel are priceless and will have a positive impact on your children for the rest of their lives.   You won’t realize all of the amazing benefits of traveling until you try it and most people never really have.  Travel is often seen as a luxury for the few, but travel is a necessity for all of us.  Here’s why you can and should make it a priority:   Forget Your Troubles   Sometimes the best way to leave your troubles is to actually LEAVE your troubles.  It’s wonderful to get out of your element and into new surroundings. The air is different and you will feel free from the complicated energies that may see all encompassing in your day to day life.  You will get a new perspective and your problems will seem smaller from a distance.  When you feel there’s something in your everyday life that needs to change, lots of times you just need to get away.   Get Out of Your Comfort Zone   Travel not only gives you the opportunity to experience people of other races, religions and cultures, you get to participate in other ways of life. Whether it’s riding a subway, or trolley, speaking a different language or understanding a new accent, other foods, styles of dress, music festivals or entertainment, it’s a whole new world, even if it’s just a new city.  When you’re not attached to the regimen of your daily life, you find yourself more easy-going and open to change.  Once you realize it’s safe to try new waters, you will continue to seek more adventures in your daily life. Your universe will demand it and you will be better for it.   Something to Talk About   When you travel, you have something to talk about when you’re there and when you get back.  You’ll meet people who haven’t heard all your old stories and make new ones to share when you get back home.  People who travel are more interesting, that’s why they tend to talk a lot.  They’re not bragging – well, sometimes they are, but the more you travel, the more you have to share.  And the more you have to share, the more open you will be to speaking to and meeting new people.   Eat, Pray, Leave   [...]

2018-02-09T20:37:17+00:00 By |

How to stay active and get your workouts done while traveling

Ways of travel While some modes of travel like hiking and kayaking equals to a high dose of long-term and low-intensity physical activity, other modes of transport such as vehicle-borne expedition travel and long-haul flights means by its nature very little of the same deal. In the latter case, it is therefore necessary to take short breaks at frequent intervals to avoid prolonged sedentary sessions. A basic rule says that you should take a break at least once every hour, but once every 30 minutes is significantly better. The movement break does not have to be long, but it should include some kind of short physical movement to trigger blood circulation in the body. For example, making 10-20 “air squats”, ie max depth “ass to grass” squats, is a good way to activate the quads, hamstrings and glutes that are radically under stimulated by longer periods of sedentary travel and inactivity. A short break every 30 minutes may seem a bit too much if you drive long distances, but aim for at the very least once every hour and try to keep regularity and frequency. As a bonus you’re getting out of the car, taking in the surroundings and get to breathe fresh air. I promise that the renewed energy you get from a short activity break is worth the few minutes it takes to stop at the roadside! The same goes for longer flights. Stand up in the cabin way, make some quick deep squats and stretch your body. Strange looks from fellow travellers aside, you’re significantly increasing your “travel health”. Rest & recovery In addition to taking regular and frequent breaks when away on that overland expedition or backpacking trip, the activities throughout the journey often involve more or less some degree of physical activity. You’re going hiking in the mountains, walking between different scenic attractions, renting a bike and doing a lot of other frequent low-intensity activities. All of this is obviously very good to keep your health in check, but depending on your daily routine back home you may soon feel restless and be in the mood of a sweaty workout. There are many advantages to actually let the body rest and get a break from the intensive exercise routine in your everyday life at home and just do fun things that may be physically challenging but not a regular workout. Training by nature means that the body is exposed to stress, which in this case is a good thing because the body then chooses to become stronger and more resistant if exposed to similar stress in the future (i.e next training session). Over time, this means that you become stronger and more persistent, based on what your workouts consists of. A regular and frequent exercise routine can sometimes create too much stress, especially in combination with everyday life challenges like pressed time schedules, work-related requirements and family commitments. The result of all this accumulated stress can lead to overtraining and [...]

2018-01-17T19:03:19+00:00 By |

4 Ettiquette Tips to Remember While in India

India is a great place to travel to. However, Indian culture is not quite the same as Western culture, and there are a few important points to note regarding etiquette in India. This ettiquette and culture can be referred to a “bharatiyata” or “of Bharat”. Bharat is the traditional name of India. #1 Greeting Each Other Most Indians are comfortable with a handshake, though a few may prefer a namaste. The meaning of namaste, which is the traditional Indian greeting, is “I bow to the divine in your.” It is performed by joining the palms together in front of the chest. Reciprocate with the same greeting that your business counterpart prefers, whether a handshake or namaste. Indian women may not be comfortable shaking hands with men, though they should have no problem with other women. A western woman can shake hands with other men and this is not considered a faux pas. #2 Dining Etiquette It is not unusual for your Indian friends or colleagues to as you over for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Most Indians are comfortable with and may prefer using spoons and forks. However, don’t be alarmed if you see some of them eating with their hands. Also keep in mind that Indian food can be quite spicy, so be sure to clarify the situation while ordering if you prefer little or no spice in your food. If you are the one inviting your counterparts for the meal, be aware that some Indian prefer not to eat on certain days for religious and spiritual reasons. #3 Small Talk and Gifts Indians can be quite casual and chatty, and it is not considered to rude to inquire about one’s family and children. You can do the same, but make sure to do so in a polite manner, avoiding any off-color or edgy jokes. Giving gifts is not mandatory on a first meeting, though it can happen from time to time. Give and receive gifts with both hands. Note that gifts are not usually opened or examined in the presence of the giver, though if the gift is unwrapped, be sure to say a few words on how wonderful it is. #4 Sleeping Over This happens rarely, but in case you are invited to stay over at the house of some friends, or are just spending the night before travelling on. In either case, some Indians sleep on a mat on the floor, though that is increasingly rare nowadays. Also, many Indians believe that it is inauspicious to sleep with the head facing towards the North. The best direction to sleep in is with your head pointing eastwards. Ananya Mathur

2018-01-02T04:14:15+00:00 By |

7 Essential Accessories For A Perfect Picnicking Experience

Picnics are the perfect spring or summer activity for both adults and children alike. They allow people to enjoy nature and get away from the fast paced nature of modern life. Throwing a picnic sounds easy (just pack some sandwiches and go, right?) but in fact it can be much more difficult than you think. The next time you plan a picnic, don’t forget the following seven essential accessories: Sun protection The ideal picnic takes place on a beautiful sunny day. This is a great image, until you consider the implications of a sunny day. Constantly squinting at the sun can cause eye pain, so make sure everyone brings sunglasses. Add a stylish hat to make a fashion statement and protect your face and neck from burning. On that note, make sure to bring a high SPF sunscreen so that your picnic doesn’t turn into a burn ward. Picnic Cooler With luck, you will be picnicking for quite a few hours-which can be great fun as long as no one becomes thirsty. In order to make sure that your drinks stay cool and refreshing, make sure to pack a picnic cooler full of ice. This cooler also makes it easy for you to keep cold foods fresh until you’re ready to eat-and make sure none of your leftovers go bad. Games Picnics can be relaxing, but if you’re the competitive type, be sure to bring some fun outdoor games like bags or bocce ball. These games are easy to learn and fun to play for both kids and adults. If you want to make time for the adults to relax and talk, be sure to bring some kid friendly games to keep the children occupied. Clean up materials If you have kids with you, its almost certain that something will be dropped, spilled or smeared on someone. Make sure to bring along tons of baby wipes to make cleanup a breeze. In addition, include some trash bags so that when your picnic is over you leave a clean area for the next group of picnickers. Easy to eat foods A picnic is not the time for tacos or steak; both are too difficult to eat and can get messy very quickly. You want to make sure that guests can eat without using a table. Items like small sandwiches and chops are ideal for main course. Try to substitute a pasta or egg salad for one made of green, leafy vegetables as the can be time consuming to prepare and messy to put together (particularly with salad dressing). You want to focus on foods that are ready to eat and can be transported in a container easily. Utensils and plates The last thing you want to do is have people trying to eat pasta salad with their hands, so make sure to bring some plastic forks and spoons. A wooden cutting board and a sharp knife are also excellent ways to ensure that if you do [...]

2018-01-02T10:26:43+00:00 By |

Traveling Healthy

The madness of holiday travel is winding down (thankfully), but for many of us, our 2018 travel schedules are just beginning. Whether you constantly fly for work, fun, or a combination of the two, chances are you’re frequenting airport restaurants and/or newstands for your on-the-go meals and snacks. While flying is certainly the most convenient means of travel for long distances, it’s not always the most convenient when it comes to eating healthy. Whether you fly once in a blue moon, or you have enough miles to send you to the moon, it’s important to be wise about the foods you choose to fuel your on-the-go self. I’m also going to be realistic here. I’d love to tell you all to remember to bring your BPA-free water bottles and your crust-cut sandwiches packed in insulated lunch boxes, but if you’re airport-bound straight from the office or you’re like me and tend to have an armful of luggage, that’s probably not the most realistic approach to traveling healthfully. So before we dive into some healthy travel tips, please make sure your seatbacks and tray tables are in their upright position and that your seatbelts are securely fastened… or something like that. Eat before the airport If you can. Obviously this depends on the time of day your flight is, but if you have an afternoon or evening flight, try not to save your meal for the airport. If you’re ravenous while you’re walking to your gate, you’re obviously going to stop at the newsstand and buy the chips.. and the candy. Probably the chicken caesar wrap too. If you’re even just a 5 on the hunger scale (that means neutral), you’ll think with your brain and not your stomach when making food choices. Your PB & J If you do have the time to pack some food before the airport, that’s best case scenario. You’ll have control of what you’re eating and you won’t have to pay triple the price for it. But be realistic about what you can bring with you. AKA, don’t make yourself a turkey sandwich if you may not be eating it for another 4 hours. When I have the time, I usually play it safe with a whole wheat PB&J and banana sandwich, because I don’t feel pressured to eat it as soon as I get on the plane. Let me tell you, airplane bathrooms are not conducive to the aftermath of 4-hour-room-temperature turkey... The bloat is real And hydration is key! At 35,000 feet up, we need to drink more than we normally do at sea level. I always buy a 1 liter water bottle and place it in my seat pocket to remind myself to drink throughout the flight. If you’re typically more of a seltzer person, this isn’t exactly the best time to be picky about your liquids (sorry). Reduce the risk of bloat by ditching the fizz, or any sugary/salty/alcoholic beverages before or after takeoff. Remember, salty [...]

2018-01-12T19:35:26+00:00 By |