Underrated Things to Do in Auckland

Auckland, new zealand

A mention of New Zealand often conjures up images of breathtaking mountain views, stunning lakes, and other beautiful natural scenery. That’s why my guide to the country’s North Island lists beaches, lakes and islands among the must-see stops when visiting. Now it’s time to talk about the things to do in Auckland.

Yet one part of the country that tourists may not see enough of is Auckland – ironically, the country’s most populous city. Plenty of visitors pass through, but because New Zealand is a country better known for its country and coastline than its cities, Auckland isn’t typically the main attraction. And though the North Island guide referenced above did cover some attractions (like the Auckland Museum), the city has plenty more to offer. Below are some of the attractions you don’t always hear about, but which are worthwhile.

Underrated things to do in Auckland:

Eat Around Food Alley

One of the best things about New Zealand is its cultural diversity, and nowhere is this better manifested than in Auckland’s Food Alley. Also, one of the cheapest places in the city to grab a bite, Food Alley has offerings ranging from plates of Malaysian Mee Goreng and Chinese clay pot rice, to assortments of Asian beer to wash your meal down with. Though there are newer, shinier food courts elsewhere in the city, Food Alley’s unique blend of cultures makes it one of the places you should make sure to check out. 

Food Alley

Bowling At Dr. Rudi’s

Contrary to what you might expect given its name Dr. Rudi’s isn’t a clinic-turned-bowling alley. Rather it’s a bar (the full name is Dr. Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Company), well known for its beautiful view of Viaduct Harbour and the fact that it has a free bowling alley inside. With two lanes open for anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis, Dr. Rudi’s is certainly a one-of-a-kind stop on the New Zealand bar scene, and can offer a good combination of a night out drinking and a bit of active fun. 

bowling at Dr. Rudi’s

Pay A Vist To SkyCity

With the advent of advanced internet gambling, much of the casino world has migrated to digital formats. The gambling scene in New Zealand is no exception, with the country’s top casino games having become very popular for their combination of convenience and quality. At the same time, however, in-person casinos are far from eradicated, and Auckland’s SkyCity is still thriving as a casino and entertainment centre. Even beyond it in-person casino games, the venue offers classy restaurants, theatrical performances, and access to some of the finest hotel accommodations in the city. If you need a break from the outdoors or just want some convenient amusement all in one place, keep this oft-overlooked option on your list. 

Auckland by night

Check Out Silo Park

Dubbed as “One of the city’s best-kept secrets“, Silo Park is a waterfront location that always has a few interesting events going on. Whether it’s through an edgy exhibition or an outdoor movie screening, Silo Park always gives a taste of the city’s culture. Not to mention expose you to a fun-loving population of locals and travellers alike. Plus, events aside, the park makes for a nice place to relax if you just want to hang out. 

Enjoy A Show At Academy Theatre

Though it is essentially a movie theatre, Academy Theatre stands out because of its mission to promote the world’s best arthouse and independent films. As an added bonus, it’s also conveniently located right next to Central City Library, another attraction in and of itself for culture lovers. Between the two, you can enjoy a very nice few hours out in the city. 

Want to read more about New Zealand? Check the articles below.
New Zealand: A Visual Journey around the South Island
New Zealand – A step-by-step itinerary around the North Island

4 ways your smartphone can revolutionize your holiday

smartphone for your holidays

The use of smartphones is currently a hot topic. Do we use them too much? Are they causing damage to society and the way we interact with each other? It’s fair to say there are valid points for both sides of the argument. A lot of the focus is currently aimed at the negatives, but what about the improvements they have made?

Smartphones have taken great steps to make our lives a whole lot easier. Whether it’s syncing your family’s schedule or keeping in quick and easy contact with friends across the globe, there are always new opportunities to make the most of your phone. For one thing, organising and enjoying your holiday has become so easy!

1. Best offers

There are many websites out there that are designed to ensure you get the most out of your money. Discount codes, last minute deals, locals renting out apartments – you name it, you can find it. Whilst many still head to their local travel agents for great holiday deals, there are now other quick and easy ways to source them. It’s not just holiday bookings either, but days out and meals out too. There are many 2 for 1 offers or similar that can be found online with just a simple search.

A lot of travel options and attractions now offer discounts if you book in advance. Some of them have to be booked 24 hours or more in advance, whereas others just need to be booked before you get to the gate. Most places also accept proof of ticket/voucher purchase on your phone, too, rather than having to print them out. This means you can make the most of these offers when you’re already out and about, and keep them all together in your pocket. Easy.

2. Ease of booking

This leads us on to the ease of booking. Did you know, for example, that 87% of people in India book their entire trip through their phones? The majority of young people will also book their trips through their phones rather than seeing a travel agent face to face. It gives you a lot more opportunity to compare destinations and offers, and book the combinations that work best for you. It also means there’s less chance of being persuaded to pay for add-ons that you don’t need!

Travel insurance has become incredibly easy to purchase, too, with the many comparison sites you can find online. Put in your exact requirements, and find the policy which works best for you. Simple. In fact, you’ll find that a lot of holiday packages will give travel insurance as an add on, meaning you can buy it all together in one place.

3. Navigation

Getting a bit lost on holiday is all part of the fun right? Wrong? If you don’t fancy carrying maps around with you, download a digital navigation map instead. Some of them eat a lot of data as you go, but apps such as Navmii allow you to download your maps in advance so that you can track your journeys without succumbing to high-cost data-roaming charges.

smartphone for your holidays
source: Navmii

Many navigation apps also allow you to see what’s nearby. If you’ve gone on holiday and you’re stuck for something to do (perhaps the weather isn’t that great, for example) open up your app and see which attractions are nearby.

4. Language barriers

Language barriers are (almost) a thing of the past when on holiday. There is now a range of helpful translation apps available. Whether it’s speech, text, or images, you can now translate them into your own language with ease. You can also find text to speech translators. These allow you to input what you want to say, and your phone will automatically translate and speak it for you. It will then translate what is said back to you!

Whilst some argue that holidays should be enjoyed without a smartphone, it is easy to see just how much they can help you to make the most of your trip. You just need to consider your usage of them and ensure that they don’t prevent you from truly taking in your holiday destination. Don’t miss out on experiencing the world because you are too busy looking at your screen.

And you? Do you make the most of your smartphone while you are away? Do you let your smartphone revolutionise your holidays?
Let me know in the comments below!

The Best Cities In Scandinavia

Ask somebody what Scandinavia is like and they’ll probably say cold and dark. But that’s not a fair representation of a region that has so much cultural and historical heritage as well as incredible natural landscapes to explore. If you’ve written off Scandinavia in the past because you don’t think that it’s for you, think again. There is so much to see and do, especially in the best cities in Scandinavia.

The Best Cities in Scandinavia 

Reykjavik, Iceland

If you’re put off by the cold then Iceland probably doesn’t sound that appealing to you, the word ice is right there in the name. But if you can get past that, you’re in for a treat if you take a trip to Reykjavik. The first thing to see is definitely the Northern Lights; this incredible natural wonder is visible in other countries but you won’t be able to see it as clearly anywhere else as you will in Iceland. If you don’t want to stay in one place on your trip, you can go on Iceland tours and see some more of the natural landscapes outside of the city as well. The thermal baths are a particularly popular attraction and they’re perfect if you’re getting fed up with the cold. You can also go on volcano tours or try your hand at fishing for salmon and wild trout. The food and drink in Reykjavik are amazing too, but it isn’t always what you might expect. There are some great traditional dishes but the best stuff are things like hot dogs, pizza, and beer.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is a great city to visit because it offers a great combination of rich historical heritage with modern tourist attractions so you’re never left wondering what to do. The architecture in the city is simply incredible, which is why there are not one, but two UNESCO heritage sights in the city. The Royal Palace and the Woodland Cemetery attract millions of tourists every single year. The rest of the city is equally beautiful and you can easily spend a day wandering around the cobbled streets along the canals. While you’re there, make sure to head over to the Old Town area where you’ll find all of the museums and boutiques as well as some great restaurants serving delicious, traditional food.

Andoya, Norway

Norway is a great country with all sorts of great cities to visit but the best place to go for first-time visitors is probably Andoya. One of the things that the area is most famous for is the Andoya Space Centre which you can visit, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As well as the space centre, you’ll find the best wildlife watching spots in the country at Andoya. Whales, in particular, are very prominent in the area which is why tourists flock to Andoya all year round, hoping to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.

 

These are the best cities in Scandinavia to visit but it’s worth remembering that they can get pretty expensive so if you’re travelling on a budget, you might want to consider going elsewhere.

 

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7 of the World’s Destinations That Are Better By Boat

There is nothing quite like being out on the open water, feeling the wind in your hair, and enjoying everything that the ocean (or a lake) has to offer. You get to enjoy a country or city in a really unique way and enjoy some amazing scenery as you go. But where are some of the best places to enjoy a trip by boat? Here are some destinations to add to your list.

The Grenadines

For a real ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ style of trip, then the ‘spice island’ in the south of the Caribbean is a great destination. The culture, views, and landscape are truly one of a kind, and sailing a yacht around the area is not to be missed.

Catalina Island, California

California isn’t normally somewhere that you would think about for boats. But Catalina Island, just over twenty miles from Los Angeles, is a true boating paradise. It is close to the mainland, but still far enough away that you can feel like you’re properly out at sea. Not only is it great for boats, but diving and watersports are popular in the area too.

Croatia

Croatia has become a destination that has grown and grown with popularity. It has even earned the nickname of the new riviera, so you know that sailing and boating is a must in the area. There are plenty of picture-perfect beaches, green lush areas, and some really cute and charming towns to explore too. So if you’re planning a trip, make sure you look up how to get a yacht charter in Croatia, as it is a place not to be missed, especially when it comes to the sea.

French Polynesia

There are five main islands that make up French Polynesia, with Tahiti being one of them. But with lush waterfalls, stunning lagoons, volcanos, and exotic marine life, it makes sense to see the area by boat. If could be a real-life Moana experience to enjoy and explore.

Venice, Italy

Can we even talk about boat trips and vacations on the water without mentioning the city built on water? Venice is a stunning spot, that is really unique and unlike any other. There are plenty of festivals to enjoy throughout the year there too. Though one of the more expensive places to go in Europe, due to its popularity, it should still be on your bucket list as it is truly wonderful.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

There are over 300 miles of waterways in Fort Lauderdale, so it is easy to see why it has been given the title of the ‘Venice of America’. It hosts an International Boat show, as well as having plenty of canals, rivers, and the Atlantic sea all close by.

 

Menorca, Spain

The smallest Balearic island is a little lesser known, but it still has plenty to offer those looking for water. There are plenty of secluded coves, as well as secluded beaches to explore. You can even get boats that travel to the nearby Balearic islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. So much tradition on the island too, so there are things to see and so on land as well.

Have you been to any of these destinations? And have you ever been on a boat trip?
Let me know in the comments below! 

Why Digital Nomads Are Singing Praises About Singapore…

Singapore has become South East Asia’s commerce capital. Companies from around the world are moving to Singapore to take advantage of its reputation as a networking hub. However, the city isn’t only for office-based business empires – digital nomads are now starting to realise that they can benefit from this city’s buzz too. Here are just a few reasons why digital nomads should give Singapore a go.

All year-round hot weather

Those looking for warm weather will find it all year round in Singapore. Due to its distance from the equator, Singapore has a climate that’s practically tropical. It does rain often, but it’s a warm tropical rain – you’ll never feel cold in Singapore. The constant heat means that when you’re not working, you can take the chance to work on your tan.

Singapore digital nomads

Many apartment complexes and hotels come with pools and there are many public pools to choose from too including water parks and city view pools giving you the chance to cool off. You can even head to Sentosa where there are white sand beaches (all man-made, although you’d never guess it from looking at them).

Luxury accommodation

Accommodation in Singapore can be a little pricey, but you’re guaranteed good quality living conditions for what you pay. Most of the population live in government owned apartments known as HDB flats. These are nothing like the public housing you’ll find in the west – their amenities are luxurious in comparison, they’re safe and secure, plus they’re likely to come with amazing views.

Singapore digital nomads

If you’re moving with family or sharing with someone else you may be able to consider a house for rent– you may even be able to find one with its own swimming pool. Alternatively, you could live out a hotel or hostel as some digital nomads staying short-term do.

Fast internet speed

When it comes to working online on the go, you don’t have to worry about internet connection in Singapore as you may do in many other countries around the world. Singapore has many public internet hotspots that you can use for free – simply look out for the Wireless@SG network when you’re out and about.

Not only is the internet easy to access, it’s also one of the fastest in the world. This makes it perfect for digital nomads – whilst you may find yourself desperately hunting for wi-fi in many countries around the world, you can feel more at ease in Singapore.

No shortage of coffices

If you’re the type of digital nomad that loves to work from a coffee bar, you’ll be happy to know that Singapore has no shortage of ideal ‘coffices’. In fact, there are many coffee bars in the city specifically set up for people to work from. This could allow you to work from a new café every day, giving you the chance to try out new coffee blends and constantly work in a new setting, keeping you always motivated.

On top of the city’s coffices, there are a number of co-working spaces that you can try out for a more work-focused environment. You may have to pay a small fee to rent a desk, but this may be no more than you’d usually spend on coffee.

Good transport links

Singapore also has a good public transport system, which makes it easy to get around and explore. You’re often best buying a Smartcard which can be used on all buses and trains across the city. You can pay a monthly or annual fee – you’ll pay less overall than were you to pay individually for each journey. Driving in Singapore is not recommended unless you really miss the freedom of having a car – there’s very little road to explore and car ownership can be expensive. Almost everywhere in Singapore is accessible via public transport and if you decide to cross the border in Malaysia, you’re generally best off hiring a car here rather than in Singapore as the rates are likely to be cheaper.

High levels of safety

The crime rate in Singapore is very low. There are really no bad areas – you can feel comfortable taking the backstreets in most parts of the city without feeling as if someone’s going to mug you for your laptop. That isn’t to say that Singapore isn’t crime-free at all and as with any city it’s always good to have your wits about you. Singapore has a lot of strict laws, but you won’t feel as if you’re constantly being watched by police as you may do in some cities – they’re there only when they need to be.

Delicious food

Good food is a perk wherever you happen to travel in the world. Singapore’s cuisine is very cosmopolitan, so is likely to appeal to everyone’s tastebuds. There are plenty of traditional Singaporean restaurants and street food stalls where you can enjoy South East Asian noodle dishes and curries.

Singapore digital nomads

There are also a lot of Western style restaurants if you’d like something different. On top of great places to eat, Singapore has great bars for when you want to unwind – the city is known for its cocktails including the iconic Singapore Sling.

The whole of South East Asia is on your doorstep

Singapore’s central location in South East Asia also makes it ideal for exploring neighbouring countries in the region when you’ve got some time off. Cross the border and you can explore Malaysia– it’s an hour’s flight to Kuala Lumpur, or a 6 hour bus ride if you want to do it on the cheap. Here, you can see sights such as the Petronas Towers and Chinatown. Also accessible in Malaysia is the town of Malacca, renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture and temples. It’s also possible to head south from Singapore to Indonesia. You can take a boat ride to the island of Bintan, which is renowned for its white sands and beach resorts. Bintan is also a great place for trying out various water activities such as scuba diving and paddle-boarding, not to mention visiting an array of temples such as the Lohan temple containing nearly 500 statues.

Singapore Digital Nomads

Want to venture a little further afield? Bangkok is a two hour flight, as is Jakarta and Brunei. This could allow you to take a longer holiday and see a little more of South East Asia whilst still keeping Singapore as your base. Singapore is generally accepted as the most expensive place in South East Asia when it comes to cost of living – you won’t need to bring much spending money with you when exploring its neighbours. Make sure that you purchase a visa when leaving Singapore as many of the countries in South East Asia require one.

And you, have you been to Singapore? Are you considering the digital nomad lifestyle or are you one? Let me know in the comments below! 

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Slovenia: Europe’s best hidden cycling destination

Slovenia best European cycling destination

Why is Slovenia Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination? Well,I didn’t expect it. In fact, I had no expectations at all. I like to explore places without having preconceptions and ideas in mind. But, let me tell you, I’m in love with Slovenia now. While you’ve probably heard of Bled Lake and the capital with the impossible name to spell and pronounce, you are probably in the unknown with the rest of the country as I was a week ago. Keep reading to find out

I just got back from my cycling ambassador experience around Slovenia and I’m ready to share with you some tips and tricks about this little country as well as a great cycling itinerary for my fellow bikers.

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 1 – Welcome to Slovenia! Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination!

 Get to know the capital

WHEN WHAT
morning Arrivals to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana
late morning Explore the city by foot and stop for lunch / late breakfast at Pritličje. One of the best cafes in town (also ideal for digital nomads)
16:00-19:00 Cycling around Ljubljana with the Moustache Tour guides
Dinner Ljubljana Castle
Notes I will publish a dedicated article about Ljubljana since there is loads to see and explore there and I don’t want this article to be too long!
Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 2 – Dolenjska Region – Explore Novo Mesto, the hometown of Tour of Slovenia Race  

WHEN
10:00 – 11:00 Arrive in Otočec 
11:00 – 11:30 Cycling: Otočec – Novo Mesto (7km)
13:30 – 15:00 Lunch at Don Bobi and tour of the city
15:00 – 17:30 Cycle Novo Mesto – Kostanjevica na Krki (26.5km) 
17:30 – 19:00 Explore the Venice of Slovenia and then relax by SUP-ping down the river along the village
19:30 Dinner
Overnight at Balnea Hotel, Novo Mesto
Notes & more info: https://www.visitdolenjska.eu/en/
https://www.facebook.com/VisitDolenjska

https://instagram.com/visitdolenjska/

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 3 – Štajerska Region – North-East of Slovenia 

WHEN WHAT
8:00 Depart from Novo Mesto
10:30 Arrive in Maribor
11:00-15:00 Tour of the town and lunch at the Hotel Maribor
15:00 – 19:00 Afternoon at Pohorje Bike Park
20:00 – 22:00 Dinner at Gostilna pri treh ribnikih
Overnight at Ramšak Chateau Vineyard Glamping Resort*
Notes + Info https://maribor-pohorje.si/best-choice.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/VisitMaribor/

https://www.instagram.com/visitmaribor/

* I will soon publish a dedicated article about the gorgeous Ramšac Chateau – Stay tuned

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 4 – Primorska Region – Mediterranean Slovenia – The coast 

WHEN WHAT
7:30 Transfer from Maribor to Piran
10:00 Arrive in Piran and tour of the city
12:00 -12.30 Cycle from Piran to Portoroz (3.3km)
12:30 – 15:00 Lunch at Oštarija Portorož
15:00 Visit to Fonda Fish Farm
19:00 Dinner at Hisa Torkla
Overnight at Stara šola Korte Guesthouse
Notes + Info http://www.portoroz.si/en/

https://www.instagram.com/portorozpiran/

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 5 – Kranjska Gora Region – IMMERSE IN GREEN   

A must-try experience for any cycling visitor is the route between Mojstrana and Rateče, which runs along a well-maintained asphalt cycle path past several interesting abandoned railway stations, well worth taking a closer look at.

If for you cycling is synonymous with great exertion, adventure and adrenaline-pumping excitement, you may be the right person to tackle the ascent of the Vršič mountain pass, one of Europe’s most challenging road cycling routes.

You can also choose Bike park. The park offers three different trails – Downhill, Airline and Lunapark – whose names say it all about the styles of riding you can choose from. Featuring a 350-metre vertical drop, several kilometres of trails with varied surfaces, and all kinds of fun obstacles such as bridges, jumps and teeter-totters, the park has something for everyone who can ride a bike.

WHEN WHAT
8:00 Transfer to Kranjska Gora
10:00 Arrive in Kranjska Gora and pick one of the many cycling routes in the region
17:00 Chill by Jasna Lake with a book
Overnight at Hit Alpinea Kranjska Gora (Ramada Hotel&Suites)
Notes + Info https://www.kranjska-gora.si/en

https://www.instagram.com/kranjskagora/

https://www.facebook.com/KranjskaGora

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 6 – HIKING or MOUNTAIN BIKING in KRVAVEC 

Timing Activity
9:00 Depart from Kranjska Gora to Krvavec Mountain Resort / Bike Park
10:00 – 13:00 Enjoy and go cycling cray at Krvavec Bike Park
13:00-14:30 Lunch up at Hotel Krvavec
Notes + Info http://www.tourism-cerklje.si/en

https://www.facebook.com/TICcerkljeNaGorenjskem

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

photo credits: Nace Production

Slovenia: Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination

This is probably the first of a series of articles I’m going to write about Slovenia (if I’ll ever find the time LOL). There is so much to see and explore in such a small country and Slovenia is Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination. You can find out more in the links above and by checking the official Tourist Board website which is incredibly well-researched and written. Make sure to drop me a line via the contact form if you have any specific questions or enquiries – I’d be happy to help you plan your trip to Slovenia!

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I was invited by the Official Tourist Board of Slovenia as the Italian/British Cycling Ambassador 2018 – all opinions above are mine. A special thank you go to Slovenia TO team, Vesna for planning everything incredibly well, Marusa for making sure everyone was happy in such a pressure-filled week, the filming crew and especially Lea, Sašo and Nace for their ability to make me feel comfortable in front of the camera. 

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3 Ways to Grow and Improve on Your Travels

Many people travel, at least in part, to try and solve their problems — to overcome the hangups and traumas which have been haunting them, and to discover a newfound sense of positivity and purpose in life. This is why I believe you can grow and improve on your travels.

While travel can certainly be an inspirational experience and can give you motivation and insight that can contribute to you making positive changes in your life, travel will not solve your problems and lead to transcendent personal transformation.

To enjoy such a transformational experience, there’s no substitute for doing work on yourself, whether that takes the form of getting a handle on your addictions, sitting in your apartment (or tent) and mapping out your goals for the future, or surveying and addressing any habits that might be detrimental to your overall success and progress.

Travel can be a perfect opportunity to commence this type of deep, introspective work, but it’s going to require focused effort and engagement on your part.

To that end, here are some things you can do while travelling in order to turn your trip from merely an uplifting and inspiring experience, to a life-changing one.

1 – Read

Take a selection of “self-help”, autobiographical, and inspirational books with you on your trip —  read them diligently.

When most people are packing books to take with them on holiday, they tend to focus on paperback romances and similar forms of light entertainment — often bought in the airport moments before catching a flight.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with such forms of light entertainment, the kind of books that are likely to really help you transform your life, are of a slightly different nature.

Despite the bad reputation it has among some people, the self-help industry contains many books by many authors that may help to provide insight on how to deal with your issues. While some of the books you’ll encounter are bound to be scammy and unhelpful, there will be plenty that can offer you useful insights on how to manage your life better.

grow and improve on your travels

These could range from more business-centric books, such as Jack Canfield’s “How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be“, to the more psychological, such as Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos“, or those specifically focused on getting you out of your comfort zone and into a place where optimal growth can occur — such as John C. Maxwell’s “15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”. Find the books you must read at least once in your life here

In addition to self-help books, it can be very useful — when trying to get your life in order — to read the autobiographies of people you admire for one reason or another, as well any books which help to raise your sense of positivity and inspiration in general.

grow and improve on your travels

Often, when we’re in a rut, looking to the examples of other people who have overcome similar problems, and succeeded in achieving things we admire, can be extremely helpful. Books such as The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho — which can help to revive your sense of awe and potential in life — can be no less important for their ability to pick you back up and motivate you to keep moving on.

While growth can stem from many different sources and avenues, books provide one of the greatest resources for self-development.

2 – Write

Journals often get a bit of a bad reputation, as people frequently see them as self-indulgent and childish. In this case, however, I am not talking about a book where every entry starts with “dear diary, you’re not going to BELIEVE what happened today” — but are instead describing journaling as a tool for serious introspection.

grow and improve on your travels

In fact, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional “dear diary, guess what” format, but the key to journaling for self-development is to focus less on petty gossip, idle thoughts, and social happenings, and to orient the journal around questions of mood, meaning, purpose, happiness, and growth.

A successful journal entry, recorded at the end of the day, should address issues such as; how you felt during the day. What thoughts you’ve had about your life in general. Which moments you think you acted properly in, versus those where you felt you acted poorly, and so on.

As the quote attributed to the ancient Oracle at Delphi runs; “Know thyself”. To change your life in a positive way, you need to understand how your mood and behaviour tie together day to day, and take appropriate steps to adjust unproductive or unfulfilling behavioural patterns.

On my little stationery start-up, you will find the perfect travel journal in the next few weeks. Stay tuned and make sure to buy a copy of this very limited edition.

grow and improve on your travels

3 – Make new positive habits

To say that our lives are just the sum total of our habits is likely pretty close to the truth. When all is said and done, it is those things that we do every day that shape the overall arc of our lives, and determine what kind of story we leave behind.

For this reason, introducing positive and empowering habits that bring us closer towards our goals, is not just a crucial method for achieving the kind of life we want — it might be the only reliable method for doing so in the long term.

grow and improve on your travels

The way this plays out, in practice, is that you focus on your daily habits and try to structure these in a way that is most likely to bring about success, rather than focusing too much on particular targets set for a certain point in the future.

An example of how this habit-based systems approach could work, for example, would be for you to focus on doing 20 minutes of exercise every day, rather than setting a goal to “be fit enough to run a 5k race in 6 months”. Since I was on the road, I’ve had this great habit of waking up at sunrise for 10/15 minutes meditation, 30 minutes yoga and then a 5k run. It’s been brilliant not only to keep me in shape, but also to fill my body and mind of positive energy for the rest of the day. 

The issue with setting a specific goal — particularly when travelling — is that much will be left to fate and uncertainty. Your daily habits, on the other hand, are almost entirely under your own control.

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And you? How are you going to grow and improve on your travels?

Let me know in the comments below!
If you are ever in need of some help or tips about travelling for a long time, please use this contact form and let me help you have the best experience of your life!

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4 Attractions For A First Time Visit To Vienna

attractions Vienna

In recent years, Europe has become an incredibly popular tourist destination because there are some great cities there and it’s very cheap to pay for accommodation and food and drink etc. Places like Prague and Budapest are great but they attract a big party crowd so if you’re looking for a romantic, relaxing getaway, you might be a little disappointed. Vienna in Austria, however, is a different story. This beautiful city, with its rich cultural heritage, attracts tourists but it hasn’t been tainted like a lot of other places. It’s a little more expensive than some of the other cities nearby but it’s worth paying the extra for it. These are just some of the amazing things that you can do while you’re there.

Top 4 Attractions in Vienna

Take A River Cruise

Vienna sits on the river Danube which goes through quite a few countries in Europe. Taking a cruise on the river is the perfect way to see the city. You’re also quite close to Budapest in Hungary and Bratislava in Slovakia and you can get to both by river. It’s worth taking a day trip there if you’ve got the time. There are also some great cruises that offer food so you can have a romantic meal on the river in the evenings.

Musical Parks

attractions Vienna

One of the things that Vienna is famous for is its musical parks. If you’re staying fairly centrally at somewhere like the Vienna Marriott Hotel you’ll have good access to most of them. The biggest one is Stadtpark but there are quite a few dotted around the city. Inside the park, you’ll find all sorts of statues and water features that play all sorts of music from traditional classical all the way up to modern. These great parks are a good way to spend a day relaxing in the sun if you got to Vienna during the summer.

Art

attractions Vienna

Vienna is possibly best known for the incredible art that you can find there. There are all sorts of galleries around the city but the 3 main ones are the Leopold Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Kunsthalle Wien. The Leopold is impressive before you even get inside, the building itself is a huge, spectacular limestone cube. Inside you’ll find the biggest collection of art by Egon Schiele, one of Austria’s best loved painters. There’s also a great cafe there where you can stop for a coffee. The Museum of Modern Art is great if you fancy something a little less traditional than the Leopold.

Go To The Beach (Almost)

If you’re missing the beach holiday vibe while you’re in Vienna, don’t worry. You can go to the beach, sort of. While there isn’t a beach there, the banks of the river Danube are the next best thing. There are some great areas where you can relax and do a bit of sunbathing on the bank. Be aware that some areas are nude sunbathing areas so make sure you don’t accidentally wander on to one of those.

Vienna is an amazing city with so much on offer, you won’t be disappointed if you visit. 

attractions Vienna
If you are looking for other travel inspirations, make sure to visit my travel section here

How to grow Instagram engagement – 5 secret tips

grow instagram engagement

How to grow Instagram engagement – We recently discussed how to grow your Instagram audience where I’ve shared tips and tricks I’ve learnt from being an active Instagram user since 2011 and becoming an influencer since 2012. Now it’s time to share with you some trick to increase Instagram engagement, since having a large following, but no engagement is a sign trick of faking it. 

Be calm, you are not the only one who want to grow Instagram engagement – everyone, from my my nephew to my butcher and florist are looking to get something back from their time investment in th popular photography social media.

There are no secret that since the Instagram algorithm was introduced, people have been getting less and less response to their posts, people have tried all sorts of things, from comment pods (will write something about in the near future) to “new post stories” and “turn on notifications” attempts. I’ve heard rumours that Instagram will be releasing a new algorithm soon, but god knows what that will be about, I’ll keep my fingers crossed it won’t be paid-advertising oriented again.

In the meantime, here are some trick that have helped me grow Instagram engagement in the last few months:

#1 Know when is the best time to post

It’s seem obvious, but in a busy life like mine, it’s hard to make time to check and post at the right moment. However, I found out in a recent test that if you do take advantage of that moment, likes and comments can be double or even more.

Posting at the right time, also means scheduling ahead. I’ve tried many services and now I have a couple of favourites (let me know in the comments below if you wish to know which ones I use). Scheduling your photos and captions allows to make sure you’re there when your audience is there too. We discussed how important is to give back to your instagram community in this post, so you already know how important is to also engage with others in order to have the same on your gallery.

#2 Know how frequently you have to post

Exactly like finding your best time to post on Instagram, you also find out how often you should post if you want to grow Instagram engagement.

The upside of the current algorithm is that your photos can appear on someone’s feed even three or four days after you published it. This means that Instagram posts have a longer life span than they used to.


grow Instagram engagement
After some experiments (secret experiment I only revealed to my clients on my one-to-one Instagram coaching), I realised that my best frequency is only when I am absolutely sure that a post is dead (i.e. it’s not getting any more likes or comments). If I do it before, it means that I’m losing engagement on that photo.

One thing is sure: never leave too much time between two posts because the alghoritm will definitely penalise you for that.

# 3 Post more Top Posts

What the hell?

Do you know what your tribe likes? Well, if you don’t, it’s not time to find out. Make a note of your most performing posts and see what they have in common. Then, post more of them.

Personally, I know my most performing pictures are those where you can catch a glimpse of me (I’m camera shy and mostly travel solo so that’s not so frequent!!!), or where I talk and share about my life-changing choices.

grow Instagram engagement

#4 Ask something

Among my experiements, I realised that whenever I ask a question to my community, I get tons more of comments and likes. It’s a little way to show that you care.

By the way, I really do care about each and every of my followers even thought it’s impossible to thank you all individually.

grow Instagram engagement

#5 Use Instagram Stories to create a relationship 

I wasn’t so happy when Instagram launched the instagram stories feature, but I have to say that it’s an easier way to stay connected to my Instagram community when I’m too busy with my life.

I’ve created a few different categories on my Instagram highlighted stories which I think of as different channels for my audience (there is one where I share all my secrets about Instagram by the way), in this way people can actually scan through my content and get to know me quickly and engage with me if they like what they see.

grow instagram engagement

But how do you bring people to see your profile? Well, telling them to do so! For example by adding a note on your caption about something new you added on your stories that day. I can see that this is working extremely well on my profile lately, especially since I’ve been sharing my tips about Instagram with you.

That’s all for today! See you on the next Instagram episode in a couple of weeks! 
SUBSCRIBE NOW IF YOU DON’T WANNA MISS A THING!

PS: Remember that my Insta-coaching one-to-one sessions are still available in June and July and I only have two spots left. Fill in this form if you wish to book now!
My Instagram Course instead will be launched in September.
Stay tuned.

by @the_stortyeller 
Sabrina Andrea Sachs is an Instagram Strategist – among other things – and in the past three years, I’ve helped dozens of brands and people build and grow their Instagram presence. With my 85k (total) followers and over 6 years of Instagram experience, I will be hosting my first Instagram workshop in Italy in September 2018 while my Instagram course will launch the following month. 

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Airbnb vs Hotels: Who’s going to win the war?

Airbnb vs hotels

I’m not a sophisticated traveller.  I’ve stayed at 5 stars hotels as well as the most basic hostels you could imagine. When I travel – which is what I’ve been doing full time since September 2015 – I like my accommodations to cover the basics:  a comfortable bed, preferably a private toiled and wi-fi.  If I can get extras, I like to have an espresso machine, a bike to rent and if I am staying longer a washing machine and a kitchenette. I consider myself a seasoned traveller and that’s why I think I can finally compile an Airbnb vs Hotels pros and cons list. I am not a football fan ( I don’t even know the rules, but I am going to use the same scoring system below). 

To write this article, I was just checking my Airbnb profile and I realised I’ve booked accomodation in 14 countries, including some beautiful properties in Malta, Matera, New York, Paris, Berlin, Melbourne, Mumbai, Dorset (when I was working with Airbnb and I stayed in a converted church!!!) or in Coggee, Sydney where the house came with a surfboard and a Nepresso machine.

Airbnb vs Hotels
Malta
Airbnb vs Hotels
Matera
Airbnb vs Hotels
Melbourne

It was in fact 10 years ago when Airbnb entered the hospitality industry creating a brand new model of sharing economy which was later replicated by Uber, Deliveroo, Boatsetter and my beloved client Spotahome. Yup, 10 years have already passed and I believe, as a full time traveller and digital nomads and having travelled far and wide that I should now share my experiences on the hospitality “battlefield”.

1 SOLO TRAVELLERS: AIRBNB 1 vs HOTELS 0 

As a solo traveller during my long trip around the world, I often opted for airbnb or hostels instead of hotels as they rarely offer you a solo discounted rate. 


Reading this survey, I recently found out that I’m not the only solo traveller and I also realised that 74% of people have chosen to use Airbnb when travelling alone to avoid extra charges. T
he survey also mentioned  that hostels appealed to 35% solo travellers because they liked the communal aspect, whereas 29% chose them solely because they were cheaper than other options. I have been to the best and worst hostels around the world, and I loved and hated them in equal measure. I believe that as you grow up, your tolerance to noise, wild sex above your head and disgusting bathrooms, lowers month by month. For me, for example, I’m done with hostels, it’s either hotels, shared accomodation or housesitting

2 THE LOCAL FEEL:  AIRBNB 1 vs HOTELS 1

When Airbnb was launched back in 2008, it was meant to be a social enterprise, a way for travellers to connect with their hosts and learn about their destination once they got there. Personally, I had various experiences: if on my first Airbnb’s stays I had lovely hosts opening the door for me and telling me everything about the area, sometimes even  while sharing a meal together, the most recent experiences have been different. As Airbnb grows and becomes more and more structured, hosts also have become more structured and organised. Some of them have several properties, cleaners and key boxes. They no longer welcome their guests but they might leave a note, the wifi password and a map of the city. So are we going back to the hotel concierge for gret info? Are we looking at blogs? Where is Airbnb USP gone? Where do we find that human interaction?


My point goes to hotels and my most recent assignment as a writer for Arrivedo for whom I create neighbourhood guides is a proof of that. Hotels now recognise the importance of giving more and above of the standard facilities.  Travellers are seeking unique travel experiences and some hotels are starting picking up on. I had the pleasure to work with Accor Hotels which totally embraced the sharing economy while launching their latest brand Jo & Joe. Hotels chains are stepping into the millennial game, designing venues and hotels to appeals to millennial traveller

3 UNIQUE EXPERIENCES:  AIRBNB 2 vs HOTELS 1 

Elizabeth Lowrey, a principal and the director of interior architecture at Elkus Manfredi Architects, said that “People who choose Airbnb are seeking an intimate, non-manufactured experience. They want to be embedded in the fabric of a community, where they can feel the uniqueness of place”. This was/is Airbnb’s USP and sometimes you still get to meet your host who will take you around and show you the best bits of his/her town. It’s rare, but when it happens, it’s magic. 

4 LOCATION: AIRBNB 3 vs HOTELS  2 

I’ll admit it. Sometimes, I’ve stayed at Airbnb s which looked and were fabolous but where far, far away from the main attractions. It’s common for hotels to be usually positioned in the most sought after areas: business, fashion or entertainement districts are normally filled with hotels rather than private properties, so depending on your preferences you can either chose to stay at a hotel or a airbnb in te various cities.

5 PRICE:   AIRBNB 3 vs HOTELS 2   

Hotels argued that the reason why some people where choosing airbnb vs hotels was the price difference, and I would say that this Schofields analysis is quite accurate. Why would I pay more to stay at a hotel where I have to wake up at a certain time to get breakfast or where wif-fi is only in the lobby, when for a lower price I can normally get a kitchen and fiber optic internet throughout my airbnb? It’s a tough question and sometimes I struggled myself, but I’ve also been extremely lucky to stay and work with some of the best hotels in the world, from Relais & Chateaux, The Leela Palaces, Il Principe di Savoia  and many others which all made me feel very at home. 

6 INNOVATION: AIRBNB 3 – HOTELS 3

“The way this (new) consumers likes to travel is not to spend time in the guest room but to have access to communal spaces,” said Tina Edmundson, global brand officer of luxury and lifestyle brands at Marriott International, which just opened Moxy New Orleans. 

What millenials and digital nomads (like me) are looking for are smart, keyless, innovative, uniquely designed and interenet-connected rooms with plenty of outlets for charging electronic devices. 

CONCLUSIONS AIRBNB vs HOTELS

AIRBNB vs HOTELS: 3- 3 It’s a draw

Of course it is because both Airbnb and hotels are changing and adapting to this very fast-moving environment.

I was an early adopter of Airbnb, in fact I think that the San Francisco-based company combined with the explosion of low-cost airlines is what made me fall in love with travelling over a decade ago and it made it more accessible to me and other people who love travelling as much as I do. I was a host on Airbnb too for a while in London and I loved to share my home with travellers from all over the world. 

As the sharing economy keeps growing around the world and travellers prefer to connect with locals and experience unique adventures on their travels, the hotel industry is taking the battle more seriously.

Times are changing…

The sharing philosophy is disrupting a solid industry as the hospitality one. I believe there is room for both (Airbnb and alike and hotels) to grow and to gain loyal customers. One thing is granted: change and adaption is necessary to stay on top of an everchanging culture and taste.

Airbnb needs to go back to its original purpose of being a point of contact between travellers and local hosts, while hotels need to go above and beyond offering beds and facilities to lure people in. Guests love comforts, but that is no longer enough. They want value for their money and certainly they are no longer willing to pay for basic services like wifi or a kettle in their room. Hotels should always offer those things that are harder to find in most airbnbs (generous breakfasts and SPA services) for free. The Airbnb vs Hotels battle is an interesting one and being a travel blogger I love to see the changes happening in the hospitality industry.

Finally, as I always say, I would never recommend something unless I’ve tried it myself – even when I write sponsored posts, they are 100% genuine and honest since my job is to give you, my beloved readers, the right information and tools to make your own decisions. So, after using Airbnb’s service now for several years, it’s a service I recommend wholeheartedly.

  • If you want to learn how to sign up and use Airbnb for the first time, click here [you get €28 off on your first booking with this link].
  • If you are a hotel, looking to get your own Arrivedo neighbourhood guide, social media strategy or professional photography, please connect with me by filling the form at the bottom of this page

What do you think? Who deserves to win the Airbnb vs Hotels battle? Let me know in the comments below!

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