Today’s guest post by Stuart Cooke of Northern Ireland hooked me with his first great reason to take an African safari: “Africa is Incredible.”
I couldn’t agree more. My first experience visiting the “Third World” was decades ago in Africa. I was traveling there for six weeks on assignment for a news service I worked for, and was supposed to be writing political stories.
I did manage to pound some out, but my heart wasn’t in it.
I quickly discovered that I wanted to see and experience as much of Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries as I could. So I rode trains to Lake Victoria and Zambia, flew to Zanzibar, feasted on Indian food in Nairobi, spent a few idyllic days on the Indian Ocean… Continue reading
By a nice coincidence following our last post on travel safety, two new surveys are out that try to identify the safest countries in the world, with implications for travelers as well as residents.
One, called the Global Peace Index 2018, comes from the Institute for Economics and Peace. It looks at 23 relevant statistics for 163 countries — including political terrorism, murder rates, and deaths from internal conflicts — and ranked them for overall safety.
The second, from the Gallup polling organization, takes a different tack: Gallup went straight to nearly 150,000 residents of 142 countries and asked them how safe they felt, based on factors such as their own experiences with crime and their attitudes toward local policing.
The results, as you might imagine, were quite different, though one country… Continue reading
The other day I received a press release promoting what sounded like a wonderful five-star hotel in an exotic location, said to be the finest accommodation in its city.
Along with various five-star amenities such as a state-of-the-art spa and gym, six restaurants including one with panoramic views, tennis courts, and indoor pool, it promised to serve as a base for tourists exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites, taking river cruises, visiting museums, and marveling at spectacular evening performances.
The only potential downside? The name says it all: it’s the Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, serving the capital of Sudan, a nation wracked by terrorist violence and crime in recent years, including reported attacks against Westerners in Khartoum itself.
The U.S. State Department doesn’t mince words: if you plan to travel to Sudan, the department warns in an extraordinary… Continue reading
As a big fan of Alaska travel and someone who’s written about the state a fair amount, I realize I’ve been amiss in not previously mentioning one of the 49th state’s premier events: Summer Solstice in Fairbanks.
Just 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the city of Fairbanks is the top spot in Alaska to celebrate the Solstice on June 21. The Solstice is the apex of the Midnight Sun season, which runs there from April 22 through August 20.
During the Solstice, the sun never dips below the horizon and the sky never gets dark. So on June 21 or thereabouts, Fairbanks residents and visitors can either pull down the blackout shades when it’s time to go to bed or give into reality and just decide to stay up half the night.
Three Sun-Illuminated Events
Thanks… Continue reading
Today’s guest post, by writer Anna Kucirkova, lays out the basics of “travel hacking.” If you aren’t familiar with the concept, read on — it may help to inspire you to invest the effort it takes to start seeing the world for free, or at least less.
Baby boomers with the time to devote to forming a comprehensive strategy and with credit scores sufficiently high to become accomplished hackers may use these methods to land free flights, hotel rooms, and other travel perks.
Hacking is really no more than capitalizing on money you might spend anyway to take full advantage of all those enticing credit card offers you see on TV — and seeking out others as well.
But be sure to heed Anna’s warnings about common travel hacking mistakes. If… Continue reading
Nikko, Japan, is just 72 miles (120 km) and two hours north of Tokyo by train, but seems a world apart.
Situated at an elevation of more than 4,200 feet (about 1,300 meters) and sporting crisp, clean mountain air, Nikko’s central area reminded us of an alpine village, including some chalet-style architecture and a roadside stand dispensing crêpes.
A mountain river tumbles through a gorge and forests fill the mountains. Hot springs, hiking trails, lakes, and waterfalls grace Nikko National Park, which borders the city of 85,000. And UNESCO World Heritage Sites are within walking distance of Nikko’s central square.
Nikko National Park and a World Heritage Shrine
While Nikko is an extremely popular day trip from Tokyo, we stayed overnight and are glad we did. It gave us time to absorb the atmosphere and explore Nikko’s main claim to fame, Toshogu,… Continue reading
Eighth in a Series
Just an hour by train from Kyoto, Nara is a sometimes-overlooked jewel of a city that has played a key role in the historical and cultural life of Japan.
Often visited on day trips from Kyoto — certainly possible if you get an early start — Nara is well worth an overnight stay to keep from being too rushed. We stayed two nights and didn’t regret it, even though we had to change hotels after one night due to a booking error.
If you have more time, Nara is also a convenient base for exploring the surrounding countryside and villages filled with history, hot springs, and, in season, cherry blossoms.
Nara Park and World Heritage Sites
Japan’s first permanent capital during the 8th century AD before the imperial base was moved to Kyoto,… Continue reading
Seventh in a series
Taking a public bath in Japan can be a wonderfully relaxing experience — as long as you know the rules.
Our introduction to the baths came at Kyoto’s Funaoka Onsen, located on a nondescript street about a half hour’s walk from our Airbnb.
Here one can slip into a variety of hot and even hotter mineral-water pools, both indoors and out, and remain there until you start to boil. There’s also a sauna in case you need some roasting.
The residual effect is incredibly soothing and the perfect way to unwind after a day spent sightseeing or climbing small mountains.
Funaoka onsen is one of Kyoto’s oldest and finest public baths, though the most picturesque and authentic onsen are in the countryside and fueled by Japan’s multitude of hot springs.
But… Continue reading
Grand European Travel — which offers more than 300 guided vacations, escorted tours, and river cruises around the world — has a catchy quiz up on its website called “What Type of Traveler Are You?”
Just answer a few questions like “How Would You Spend Your Weekend?”, “What Does the Inside of Your Dream House Look Like?”, and “What Is the Perfect Travel Outfit?” — with pictures to guide your way — and find out what type of guided tour might be right for you.
If you’re like me, you may want to take the quiz more than once because some questions have at least two choices (out of six) that seem appealing.
When I took the quiz the first time, I was deemed a “Nature Lover” (which I am) and directed… Continue reading
With warm weather now upon us, baby boomer grandparents turn to thoughts of how to entertain their grandkids at times over the summer break if the opportunity or need arises.
Today’s guest poster, Gemma Tyler, suggests that taking the grandkids camping — now dubbed “gramping” — can provide a fun-filled and memorable multi-generational outing. Gemma regards camping as a great bonding experience, and I agree.
But if you haven’t camped for a while — maybe since your own kids were young — you may be feeling a little rusty about the basics: especially keeping young children happy and occupied in the outdoors.
So Gemma offers five practical tips to keep in mind before you get to the fun parts like hiking, toasting s’mores over an open fire, and maybe telling a ghost story or two.
By Gemma Tyler
Whether… Continue reading