43 Tips to Travel (and Live) Better

Before I left on what turned out to be a 7 month trip across Europe, I spent a lot of time procrastinating and curbing my anxiety by reading travel advice. Now that I’m back (briefly), I’ve had a chance to reflect on some of what I learned and wanted to share it with others preparing for their own solo trips.

Below is a collection of travel tips for my future, forgetting self. These are things I try to live by—many (if not most) of which I learned the hard way first while traveling.

Hope it’s helpful!

You can also see a gear list from the beginning of my trip as well as what was still my pack by the end of my Euro trip on my blog at: http://www.alasdairplambeck.com/packinglist2016/

Money

  1. Never keep cash in your pocket. It won’t stay there very long.
  2. Avoid ATMs and restaurants in city centers and around tourist attractions.
  3. Get a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees.
  4. Get a debit card that doesn’t charge ATM fees.
  5. Keep backup cards for both in a separate place in case you lose your wallet.
  6. Always have a plan for how you’ll get out of a major transit hub (bus station, railway, airport). The local cab driver’s plan is likely to be very expensive.
  7. Always know the exchange rate ahead of time.

Gear

  1. You don’t need to carry shower soap with you.
  2. The best thing you will ever pack are earplugs and an eye mask.
  3. Have a designated place for everything you pack and always put things away.
  4. Never put anything down on the seat of a car. Not even for “just a second.”
  5. If you aren’t using something you packed, give it away. Many things you don’t need will be exotic to locals or useful for other travelers.
  6. Handwritten thank you cards are the best gifts. Sweets, chocolate, and wine will also do the trick.

Travel

  1. It’s amazing how much you can see and do when you aren’t hungover.
  2. Sometimes the hangover is worth it.
  3. Default to yes in new situations but don’t be afraid to say no when you need to.
  4. Always carry a book, Kindle or a device with Audible with you for the countless hours of in between time.
  5. You don’t need to be facebook friends with everyone you meet. Being friends in the moment is enough.
  6. Unless it’s your wine, don’t pour it.
  7. If you feel lonely or overstimulated, change your plans. You have control.
  8. When you feel lonely, write to someone. You’ll feel less lonely and it’ll be nice when you hear back from them.
  9. If you feel really lonely call someone as soon as possible.
  10. Send postcards often. It’s like shooting off little love missiles from all over the world.
  11. Go easy on the planning. Most things are easy to find out when you get there.
  12. If you stay at a hostel with a bar attached to it don’t expect to get much sleep.
  13. Travel is no excuse to not be reading. Keep feeding your mind.
  14. Be patient. Sometimes the long route is the best one.
  15. You don’t have to see or do anything that’s on someone else’s top ten list. By simply being present where you are you will see and do plenty.

Locals

  1. Knowing how to say “hello”, “thank you” and “cheers” in the local language will get you by in 90% of situations.
  2. A notebook and pen will get you by in the other 10% of situations. Turns out travel includes a lot of awkward games of Pictionary.
  3. Making an effort to use just one word (even incorrectly) in someone’s native tongue can change the dynamics of a conversation and an entire relationship.
  4. Don’t forget to smile. It’s the fastest way to communicate your intentions.
  5. Be nice. Everyone is doing the best they can.
  6. Don’t take it personal. You never know exactly what others are going through —it’s probably more than you think.
  7. Always know the visa requirements BEFORE entering a country.
  8. Trust people. Like you, they generally want to help.
  9. If you don’t know, ask. Curiosity is usually well received. Ignorance isn’t.
  10. If someone has made your experience special take the time to let them know. They will appreciate it.
  11. If someone has made your experience special take the time to let others know. Everyone will benefit.
  12. Generosity isn’t infinite. Pass it forward.
  13. Ask for help when you need it. Being “self-sufficient” is a myth.
  14. Leave things better than you found them whenever you have the chance.

And Most Importantly…

  1. You are an ambassador for your country. Work for peace.

“Written by Alasdair Plambeck. Originally published at www.alasdairplambeck.com.”

8 Creepy Destinations You’ll Want to Visit With a Travel Buddy

Travelling overseas is always going to be a little nerve-wracking, so it stands to reason you might want to make the journey with a friend. That aside, some places naturally lend themselves to companionship owing to their spooky or even mystical atmosphere. Here are eight places you should definitely not visit alone.

The Catacombs – France

Ms Mojo Risin
Ms Mojo Risin

The Paris catacombs run for miles under the city – with large sections of the monstrous caverns still yet to be fully explored or mapped out.

The ghoulish burial ground showcases walls quite literally held together with fragments of human bone in tunnels which have seen people go missing countless times across the past couple of centuries – most recently in 2015.

You should never take a journey into the catacombs without a trained guide alongside you anyway – but, even if you are with one, also take a friend along for comfort. The catacombs may well be the creepiest things in France.

Island of Dolls – Mexico

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t like dolls even at the best of times (there’s just something about their almost-human figure and look which freaks the heck out of me), but that’s nothing compared to the eerie Island of Dolls in Mexico.

Even the story behind this bizarre phenomenon will send a chill down your spine. Rumour has it a young girl drowned when playing in the water, with her spirit coming back to haunt a loner who later inhabited the island.

After mysterious dolls began washing up on shore he began attach them to a tree – before collecting more to help ward off evil spirits. Whether you believe it or not, the island is now full of dolls and certainly shouldn’t be visited alone.

Leap Castle – Ireland

Kristine
Kristine

This 15th century castle might not be as old as some others in Britain, but it more than makes up for that by being “home to some of the most brutal savagery in Ireland’s blood-soaked history.”

The fort is commonly perceived as being one of the most haunted castles in the whole of the UK, with continual ghost sightings and even a regular apparition known as the ‘Elemental’.

Naturally, only the seriously brave of heart can traverse this location alone, with iTrek naming it in their top three frightening and bizarre world attractions.

Aokigahara Forest – Japan

This spooky woodland area doesn’t stand out much purely from an aesthetic point of view, with there being nothing in particular about the Aokigahara Forest to write home about.
However, when you look into its history you’ll start to see why it’s probably a good idea not to travel there without a friend.
For whatever reason, the location has become a hotspot for people committing suicide – with bodies found hanging by trees regularly every year (one 12-month period saw 70 deaths).
The vastness of the forest also means bodies aren’t always found straight away – making for interesting viewing for unfortunate hikers.

The Door to Hell – Turkmenistan

Christopher Doring
Christopher Doring

While this one sounds like the scariest place on our list, the ironic reality is it’s probably one of the least supernaturally spooky – with the adventure here coming in the form of a man-made error.

The ‘door’ was created after an oil-mining spot collapsed and began to release methane gas. The Soviets decided to burn the area to try and eat up all the gas, with the expectation being it would take just a few weeks.

It’s now been 45 years and it’s still burning bright – with the large cavern giving off the illusion of Hell itself sitting below the earth.

Abandoned Psychiatric Hospital Parma – Italy

That title probably explains why this location earns a spot on our list. Let’s face it – psychiatric hospitals (another term for a mental asylum) aren’t exactly the most welcoming of places.

This spot in Parma, Italy, is certainly no exception to the rule – with the building now entering into a state of decay which only serves to ramp up the spook-factor.

Artist Herbert Baglione has added to the creepiness as well, with ethereal images painted onto the walls. Are former patients still roaming the floors? Don’t find out without a friend on hand.

Hoia Baciu Forest – Romania

Occult World
Occult World

This forest in Romania has been referred to on more than one occasion as their very own ‘Bermuda Triangle’, with mysterious goings-on occurring when someone enters the wood alone.

Locals are said to enter Hoia Baciu and re-emerge with unexplainable illnesses and injuries. Despite this, tourist boards have begun running trips through the area – with intrigue in the spot currently peaked.

Make sure you’re with someone familiar when you do venture into these spooky woodlands…who knows what might leap out at you.

Kabayan Mummies – Philippines

The “Fire Mummies” of Kabaya date back roughly 4000 years, and are one of the more fascinating insights we have to early societal life in Asia.

Today, you’ll find these corpses located within a series of caves – which take roughly 10 hours to travel to from the nearest town.

Unlike Egyptian mummies, these specimens were effectively preserved by cooking them over a fire, before being stuff in a foetal position inside a casket.
There you have it, eight of the scariest places you should definitely be visiting with a travel buddy. If you have a thing for the macabre, any of these locations will definitely appeal to your sense of excitement.

How to Convince Yourself to go Backpacking

Each year, citizens of every country travel far and wide to explore and experience new cultures around the world. Their travel adventures take them to exotic destinations throughout Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Asia, North America, and many other destinations across the globe. Though some may struggle with whether or not they will leave their comfort zone, many more do not let anything get in their way. For example, according to the U.S. Travel Association, 663,000 Americans traveled to India in 2011, making it one of the most popular travel destinations for Americans.

If you are not one of those who take the opportunity to travel, be it within or outside of your own country, you may want to ask yourself the following question: “Why am I not traveling more?” There are many roadblocks and excuses we create to not discover what else is out there. Knowing those reasons is just the beginning to being able to convince yourself to start traveling more.

Excuses

When you consider making plans to travel, do you find yourself listing off excuses as to why you just can’t? If this is the case, you need to look past this list and turn each roadblock into a reason to travel. These may be some of your reasons:

-I can’t afford it
-It’s too dangerous
-I don’t have anyone to travel with
-I don’t have the time
-I have kids
-I am too old

Make it happen

These are just excuses that stand between you and your future travel plans. Don’t let them get in the way! For every excuse listed above, there’s a way to turn it around and make your dream of traveling a reality. Here are some ways you can change your negative excuses into positive thinking:

-I can’t afford it: If you really want to travel, you’ll make it happen. Look for opportunities to save in your day-to-day life, and set aside that money for travel. And while there are always expenses involved in travel, there are many, many ways to stretch your money while traveling, including staying in alternative lodgings, packing light, and taking trains or public transit instead of planes and taxis.

-It’s too dangerous: In many cases, traveling is no more dangerous than staying at home. Look into your destination(s), take precautions, and avoid traveling alone if necessary. If you are prepared and have planned ahead, you’ll be more ready for what kind of dangers are out there, and you can allow yourself to relax and have a good time.

-I don’t have anyone to travel with: There are countless opportunities to travel in groups, even if you don’t know anyone. Research group travel and tours, and when you find something that fits with what you want, you’ll have both an adventure and a chance to make new friends. And if group travel doesn’t appeal to you, why not think of your adventure as a way to get to know yourself? Spending some time alone is good for everyone.

-I don’t have the time: Saying you don’t have time to travel is just like saying you don’t have enough money to travel. If you really want to travel, you’ll make the time to do so, even if just over a long weekend.

-I have kids: Traveling is an experience kids will remember for the rest of their lives. It’s a learning opportunity, and the world is their classroom. If you have kids who are too young for what you have planned, arrange for a friend or relative to stay with them.

-I’m too old: Don’t let your age get in your way of traveling. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the average age of leisure travelers is 47.5. No matter how old you are, there are ways to get out and experience the world, including cruises and bus tours.

Traveling the world is an invaluable experience that you need to make time for. Whether you travel for a week or even an entire month, taking the time to avoid the stress of our day-to-day lives and experience what the rest of the world has to offer is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

About the Author:

Sandra Mills is a freelance health, career, and travel writer. She enjoys helping people live happier and more fulfilling lives. She plans on doing more traveling this year with her family, friends, and by herself. You can follow her on Twitter @sandramills63.

 

Source

Reasons to Spend Money on Experiences Rather Than Possessions

They always say that money can’t buy happiness. That is true to a point, but money can make you happy in different ways. We live in a world where we constantly seek out instant gratification. We always have to have the latest and greatest technology out there, even though we are completely satisfied with what we have.

Satisfaction, however, will only last so long before we have to seek out other means of making us happy. Whether it is buying the newest phone or the greatest television, we will definitely be happy, but that happiness will wear off eventually.

Experiences have somewhat of an opposite effect. If you plan a big vacation, it may seem like a financial burden at first, but once you experience the new place, it seems well worth the money. You won’t talk about your new phone purchase five years from now, but you will definitely be talking about a great experience that you had.

1. Nature can be the best experience

It’s not always necessary to spend a lot of money to get a good experience. With the busy life that you lead, take a break sometime and go sit in the park or near a body of water. Try not to think about anything and just observe nature and your surroundings. You never know what you could see that could change your perspective on life.

2. You will talk about trips for years to come

Whether you go on a vacation with just your significant other or your family members, you will always talk about your experiences. You could spend a thousand dollars on a new TV that you will enjoy for a few years until it gets outdated, or you could spend that money traveling to a new destination and experiencing new things. Chances are that you will be more fulfilled when you get a new perspective on a different city, state or country that will have you talking about it for years to come.

3. Money isn’t such a burden when you are happy

Talking about a trip that you made in the past just naturally makes you happy. You can’t say that about any possessions that you purchased. When you experience a new place or new environment, you will likely find yourself saying, “This was worth it!” It’s hard to say that about the newest gadget that you bought, even if it did change your life at the time.

4. Experiences are meaningful to you

Let’s face it; money can be tough to come across nowadays. It seems like we are all trying to save enough money just to be able to survive when we can retire. Yet, almost all of us take some sort of big vacation once every few year. The reason why is because they actually mean something important to you. Whether it’s just a getaway for a weekend or a weeklong trip with your family, it’s moments like that which you cherish. Those experiences are what make the money seem meaningless.

If you are truly looking to live a more fulfilling live and create memories, experience new things rather than buy new things. You may find that you are happier even when you spend less money. Take some time to create your own experiences to see what makes you truly happy. You may be surprised to find out that money doesn’t buy your happiness, and that all you need is to experience new things in order to get the gratification you need to be happy.

 

 

Via: IHeartIntelligence

The Hardest Part of Travelling No One Talks About

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first two weeks meeting with family and friends, catch up, tell stories, reminisce, etc. You’re Hollywood for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting. And then it all just…goes away. Everyone gets used to you being home, you’re not the new shiny object anymore and the questions start coming: So do you have a job yet? What’s your plan? Are you dating anyone? How does your 401k look for retirement? (Ok, a little dramatic on my part.)

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed. You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance. I mean what’s going on inside of your head. The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?

You feel angry. You feel lost. You have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed but then you feel like it’s the only thing you’ve done that is important because it changed everything. What is the solution to this side of traveling? It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.

This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited.

This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.

 

Originally by Kellie Donnelley

10 Natural Wonders in South America You Must Visit!

South America is a huge continent, packed with great natural wonders. Check out our list this week, which features ten amazing sites, landscapes and views. Plan your next adventurous holiday to South America!

10. Atacama Desert, Chile

The desert stretches for 1000 km (600 mi) across the Pacific Ocean’s coast. It is the driest desert in the world. It boasts plains, volcanoes, geysers and even hot springs! There is also a famous observatory ALMA – it is a perfect location to look to the stars, because of no light or air pollution.

Why to go there?

The desert is the Top 3 tourist destination in Chile. Visitors usually stay in the town of San Pedro de Atacama.

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Photo by Peter Eastway
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Photo from Planedia

9. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The archipelago of volcanic islands mesmerizes with unique nature. Numerous endemic species have been studied by Darwin and have had a crucial influence on his evolution theory. Today the well preserved unspoiled nature remains one of the most precious natural wonders in the world.

Why to go there?

The limited access to the islands makes it quite a challenge, which inspires and attracts the adventurers.

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Photo from ghardytours
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Photo from Odd Cities

8. Perito Moreno, Argentina

The glacier is listed as monolithic and is the most popular tourist destination in Argentinian Patagonia. It covers a 250 km2 (97 sq mi) area and is still growing. The glacier boasts detached ice blocks and icebergs, creating a wonderful vies made of ice.

Why to go there?

The Los Glaciares National Park is protected by UNESCO and features incredible unspoiled nature.

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Photo by Nora De Angelli
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Photo by Jimmy Eats World

7. Titicaca

The largest lake in South America water volume wise borders Bolivia and Peru. It is found high in the Andes mountains – at an elevation of 3,812 metres (12,507 ft) it is considered to be the highest lake in the world.

Why to go there?

There are many islands, including Uros – an artificial one, that make a trip to Titicaca even more exciting. Explore them and the staggering surroundings of this magical place.

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Photo from Peru trip planner
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Photo from tolovewhatislovelyandwillnotlast

6. Kukenan, Venezuela

It is one of the most beautiful table top mountains in the world. It also boasts a 674 m (2,211 ft) tall waterfall, which is the second tallest after Angel Falls and also adds an extra beauty to the mountain as well as the landscape.

Why to go there?

Get here via San Francisco de Yurani trail, which will allow to explore the spectacular surroundings.

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Photo by luis nieto

5. Iguazu Falls

The majestic waterfall borders Argentina and Brazil. It is not very tall, however it comprises 275 cascades, which create an enormous volume of water falling down 285 ft/87 m and creating this staggering site.

Why to go there?

One of the most precious natural wonders in Argentina and Brazil as well as in all South America!

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Photo by SF Brit
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Photo from Itravel
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Photo by Mathieu Bertrand Struck

4. The Amazon River

The largest river in the world begins its journey in Peru and then flows to Columbia and Brazil. The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is the biggest rainforest in the world and features a countless species of fauna and flora.

Why to go there?

The visitors can go on a boat tour on the Amazon River or its tributaries and explore the incredible wildlife.

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Photo by Thousandwonders
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Photo by mariusz kluzniak

3. Angel Falls, Venezuela

Its uninterrupted 807 metres (2,648 ft) tall plunge credits it as the tallest waterfall in the world. Found in the Canaima National Park, which is protected by UNESCO, Angel Falls is one of the most exciting natural wonders in whole South America.

Why to go there?

The waterfall is located deep in the jungle, therefore access is difficult. However it can be an exciting challenge for the adventurers.

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Photo from Travelercorner
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Photo from Travelercorner

2. Colca Canyon, Peru

Another most popular attraction in Peru, Colca Canyon is a spectacular site. At 10,725 ft (3,270 m) deep it is one of the deepest canyons in the world. It is also a colorful place, which features a lush green Colca Valley.

Why to go there?

The Andean Condor is the symbol of Colca Canyon and can be viewed from a short distance, flying
across the canyon.

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Photo by Aureliano Nóbrega
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Photo by Alexander Shimmeck

1. Aconcagua, Argentina

At 6,961 metres (22,838 ft) tall it is the tallest peak in the world outside of Asia. Located 112 kilometres (70 mi) away from the city of Mendoza, Aconcagua attracts the climbers from all around the world who are up for a great challenge.

Why to go there?

The best thing about the mountain is that no special technical skills are needed to reach the summit, since it has a relatively easy path, which takes straight to the summit.

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Photo from 7 Summit Project
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Photo by Rafael Edwards

 

 

Via: PlacesToSee

Best Places to Stand on the Edge of the World

If you wish to get the best view of the surrounding landscape and countryside, sometimes you have to do a little work and hike to the top of the highest cliff or mountain. Once you get to the top, standing there will get your heart racing and make you feel alive. Here are some of the best spots in the world.

10. Hum Hod Cliff, Sai-Thong National Park, Thailand

The park features great hiking trails, lush nature and rare flowers. Meanwhile this viewpoint might be one of the most exciting in the world – a flat rock protruding above the abyss is not for the fainthearted. However the views from the precipitous cliffs are striking.

Why to go there?

Apart from this awesome viewpoint, also explore the park and its wonderful unspoiled nature.

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Hum-Hod-Photo-by-thiti-maenthong-740x492

9. Kukenan, Venezuela

It is one of those beautiful tepuis that can be proud of having a waterfall. Kukenan Falls is 674 m (2,211 ft) high at the southern part of the 2 680 m (8 790 ft) tall mountain. The waterfall is the second tallest one after Angel Falls, that are located nearby.

How to get there?

There is a trail from San Francisco de Yurani. Get there by bus from Caracas, Ciudad Boliviar or Ciudad Guyana. Visitors can also hire a vehicle from San Francisco.

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8. Mount Roraima, South America

The impressive summit spreads through three countries – Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. It is the highest peak of the Pakaraima mountains chain, reaching a 2,810 m (9,219 ft) height. The steep rocks form a cliff, which looks like the edge of the world!

Why to go there?

One of the most famous and popular tourist attraction in the region. The mountain can be also approached from above on an air plane tour.

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7. Beachy Head, East Sussex, England

This stunning dazzling white chalk headland is a famous feature in the area. At 162 m (531 ft) high it is the highest cliff of the kind in England. The incredibly white shoreline has been helping the sailors to navigate in the English Channel for centuries.

Why to go there?

Admire the rare natural wonder of bright white rock. Great views to the English Channel open from here. There is also a restaurant with panoramic views.

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6. Preikestolen, Norway

The steep flat cliff is indeed incredible. Those standing on it looking down the abyss seem to find themselves on the top of the world. It ascents 604 m (1982 ft) overlooking Lysefjorden. The cliff drops into a mild climate zone, so it welcomes visitors all year round. Interestingly there are no fences, preserving an authentic and unspoiled nature.

Why to go there?

Interestingly there are no fences, preserving an authentic and unspoiled nature.

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5. Casa Del Arbol, Baños, Ecuador

If you thought that riding a swing is for kids, think again. Here is the wildest swing in the world: the swings hanging from Casa Del Arbol above the abyss attracts many brave adventurers. The treehouse actually is a seismic monitoring station. From here an incredible site of the Cordillera Real and an active volcano Tungurahua opens. The hikers reach this spot on their way to Bellavista viewpoint.

Why to go there?

The swing is simply made of a metal beam attached to a rope. No safety belts will keep you from falling down the abyss. However, the bravest hikers take their chances and enjoy the exciting experience. Definitely worth trying at least once in your lifetime!

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4. Trolltunga, Norway

The most cliche of them all, Troll Tunga is a tongue like rock that juts out of the mountainside, so it is horizontal to the ground. 700 meters abyss opens under it. It is found in Odda, Hardanger Norway and attracts many madcaps. The beautiful sight of Ringedalsvatnet lake opens from up there as well.

Why to go there?

One of the most recognizable and popular destination in Norway. A very nice feature to see, while exploring the gorgeous fjords.

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3. Hua Shan, China

Hua Shan is a historic, as well as a religious place. For thousands of years people have been growing rice, tea and oranges here. Also for hundreds of years Taoists have been climbing the mountain. Due to these pilgrimages many temples are located in the area. Today Buddhists also climb the steep paths and leave red ribbons with wishes behind.

Why to go there?

Although many non professional climbers come here, the hiking tracks are very dangerous here. The unreliable trails and railings open an unforgettable scenery, though.

Hua-Photo-by-Berta-Tilmantaite

Hua

2. Marina Bay Sands Skypark, Singapore

The 1115 ft (340 m) long infinity pool belongs to a 2,560 rooms hotel and is one of the biggest and most impressive in the world. This is a desirable entertainment, which attracts thousands of guests to the hotel.

Why to go there?

Swimming in a pool while the breathtaking panoramic views to Singapore open provides indeed an unforgettable experience.

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1. The Aiguille du Midi, the Mont Blanc range, France

The great attraction was built on the Aiguille du Midi, next to the tallest peak in Europe – Mont Blanc. In 3842 m (12604 ft) high the glass box attracts adventurers, who are eager to experience the vast landscape to the Alps. The glass is 12 mm (1/2 in) thick, but the visitors have nothing to be afraid of – they won’t fall.

Why to go there?

Definitely one of the greatest and latest winter attractions in Europe worth visiting.

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Via: PlacestoSee

Best Hot Air Balloon Rides Around the World

Thirsty for some adventure? How about hot air ballooning! The real aficionados love not only the breathtaking sites from above, but the whole ritual as well: waking up early, preparing for the trip, breakfast and champagne after it. Here are ten choices of ours. Which is your favorite?

10. Bristol, UK

The hip city in England might be an unexpected choice for hot air ballooning, but it has a very nice annual festival. The international fiesta attracts balloonists who entertain spectators with their colorful and creative balloons.

Why to go there?

Bristol is a scenic city. Many entertaining attractions at the balloon fiesta.

When to go there?

Flying season is March to October. Bristol Balloon Fiesta will take place from 7th to 10th August 2014.

Photo by Syed Zaidi
Photo by Syed Zaidi
Top-10-Hot-Air-Ballooning-bristol-Photo-by-Adam-Gasson-740x490
Photo by Adam Gasson

9. Mount Bromo, Java, Indonesia

The sport is becoming more and more popular in Indonesia. International Festival in Bogor has popularized hot air ballooning in the country. Hopefully, the business will develop successfully, since the opportunity to see unearthly landscape of Mount Bromo from above is highly anticipated.

Why to go there?

The surroundings of the volcano are breathtaking.

Photo by Anek S
Photo by Anek S
Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown

8. Hot Air Ballooning in Switzerland

The astonishing landscapes of the country is a real treat for the aerostiers. The adventurers can choose from over 50 different places to go hot air ballooning. Festival in Château-d’Oex attracts aerostiers from all around the world.

Why to go there?

Various sites and destinations, striking Alpine sites.

When to go there?

Anytime. Château-d’Oex festival takes place in January.

Photo by Peter From
Photo by Peter From
Photo by Sayantan Chowdhury
Photo by Sayantan Chowdhury

7. Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is a gorgeous part of Italy, with amazing landscapes: green valleys, villas, vineyards and historic towns, that attract visitors from all around the world. These amazing panoramic views are best observed from above.

Why to go there?

Amazing sites, the ballooning company additionally serves champagne and breakfast.

When to go there?

From late spring to early autumn.

Photo by Giuseppe Peppoloni
Photo by Giuseppe Peppoloni
Photo by Silvio Rugolo
Photo by Silvio Rugolo

6. Bagan, Myanmar

Ancient city is the main tourist destination in the country. Over 2000 historic monuments, stupas and pagodas look fascinating from above. Hot air balloon company even picks up tourists from their hotel, pilots are friendly, professional and the experience is unforgettable.

Why to go there?

Amazing views; the experience includes breakfast and champagne.

When to go there?

From October to April.

Read more: Eastern Safaris

Photo by Anuparb Papapan
Photo by Anuparb Papapan
Photo by CS-Tjandra
Photo by CS-Tjandra
Photo by Navalarp Teratanatorn
Photo by Navalarp Teratanatorn

5. Yarra Valley, Australia

Just an hour drive from Melbourne, Yarra Valley is a famous wine region. Uninterrupted hilly valley, Yarra river, hopping kangaroos, vineyards – the trip offers some amazing sites. And in autumn (March to May) it gets covered in colorful foliage.

Why to go there?

Beautiful Australian landscapes, good service.

When to go there?

All year round.

Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown

4. New Mexico, USA

The surface is very versatile here – from mountains to prairies, to deserts. There are various places, where balloon festivals take place in New Mexico. White Sands, Shiprock, Albuquerque and other balloon fiestas attract millions of visitors every year.

Why to go there?

To admire the biggest balloon rallies in the world.

When to go there?

The festivals take place from September to January.

Read more: New Mexico Ballooning Events

Photo by Randall Roberts
Photo by Randall Roberts
Photo by Dave Shultz
Photo by Dave Shultz

3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

One of the greatest and most exciting national parks in the world invites to have a hot air ballooning experience. The amazing trip includes “Out of Africa” breakfast and champagne served outdoors under the trees.

Why to go there?

A wonderful wildlife experience, great service.

When to go there?

All year round.

Read more: Balloon Safaris

Photo by Roie Galitz
Photo by Roie Galitz
Photo by Darcy Michaelchuk
Photo by Darcy Michaelchuk

2. Cappadocia, Turkey

The rugged rocky landscape in Cappadocia is breathtaking. The historic site is a popular attraction for the hot air ballooning. The famous fairy chimneys, valleys, orchards and vineyards are best observed from above.

Why to go there?

Fun experience in a truly wonderful place. You can even get a private hot air balloon tour.

When to go there?

All year round.

Read more: The Best Place to Go Hot Air Ballooning, Ballooning in Cappadocia

Photo by Vitaly Afanasyev
Photo by Vitaly Afanasyev
Photo by Kani Polat
Photo by Kani Polat
Photo by Anuparb Papapan
Photo by Anuparb Papapan

1. Ballooning in the Arctic

Canadian company offers the most exciting hot air ballooning! The aerostiers get to see captivating icy landscapes, polar bears, whales, migrating caribou and muskox. The company also offers other polar adventures and safaris.

Why to go there?

Certainly an amazing adventure in this remote place.

When to go there?

Anytime: you have to schedule a trip in advance.

Read more: Arctic Ballooning

Photo by Michelle Valberg
Photo by Michelle Valberg
Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown
Photo by Unknown

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

Traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth.

My solo traveling experiences have created quantum leaps in various areas of my life. And every person I’ve met who has traveled alone has been among the most interesting and awesome people I’ve encountered.

It may sound paradoxical, but the more you explore the world outside, the more you explore the world within. Solo travel gives you free rein for the exploration of both the external and internal world.

Sure, it can be lonely at times, but you meet a lot of people and get to know yourself when there aren’t familiar faces always around. And yes, it’s hard leaving your friends and family behind for any period of time. But it’s completely worth it and you will come back a better person.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

1. Self-sufficiency – You learn to be independent, do things on your own, problem solve for yourself, navigate on your own and become your own best friend. Self-sufficiency is an invaluable byproduct of solo travel.

2. You meet more people – When traveling alone, you’re forced to talk to more people (unless you just want to be by yourself 24/7, which would drive anyone insane). I’ve gone out alone plenty of times and I always end up meeting more people than if I went out with a group of friends. Why? If you go to a bar alone, for example, you’re not just going to stand in the corner by yourself. It forces you to leave your comfort zone and talk to anyone near you (which leads to the next reason).

3. You become a better conversationalist
– Because you meet so many people when traveling alone, you naturally enhance your conversation skills. There is no one else who you can depend on to carry a conversation; it’s all on you. So naturally, you get better at starting conversations and less hesitant about approaching people.

4. You get comfortable being uncomfortable – During solo travel, you’re almost never in your comfort zone. You get used to the excitement, the adventure and the bold decisions. Though you’ll undoubtedly face inner resistance, push through it. This is where the magic happens. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Growth only happens when you push your boundaries. This is a big reason why traveling alone spurs so much personal growth.

5. Flexibility, freedom and spontaneity – You are in complete control of everything you do during solo travel. If you want to do something, there’s no one else to consult with and no consensus to be made. You just do it. Traveling alone gives you ultimate flexibility, a high degree of freedom and the opportunity to be as spontaneous as you wish.

6. You’re able to put yourself first – This is most applicable to highly empathetic individuals, but still applies to everyone. When you travel alone, you have the rare opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want and spontaneously follow your own intuitive desires on a whim. It also allows you to work on any personal projects or develop specific skills you desire while traveling. To use myself as an example, I get much more writing and blog work done when traveling alone compared to when I’m with other people.

Traveling solo creates a situation in which you can put yourself first, without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings and having to come to a mutually beneficial consensus about everything. If you’re at all empathetic, you always make sure that people around you are happy. This is good of course, but sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to really know yourself (which is the next point) and evolve. And don’t view it as selfish; when you do the inner work, you actually expand your capacity to give to others.

7. You get to know yourself – When you have to do things on your own and spend time alone, getting to know yourself better is an inevitable side effect. You become more self-aware (in a good way). You become more in tune with your emotions, tendencies, habits, patterns and the deepest aspects of yourself. “Know thyself” was inscribed on The Temple of Apollo at Delphi for a reason. It’s that important.

8. The lone wolf aura – There’s something beautifully enigmatic about someone who’s confident when they’re alone in a new place. I call this “the lone wolf aura.” People are curious and intrigued by someone who is genuinely self-assured. Solo travel cultivates your own unique lone wolf aura.

Read my poem “The Lone Wolf Aura” for a deeper look at this.

9. It’s a pilgrimage – You’re the hero, the star of your own movie. A key component of any hero’s journey is some form of pilgrimage. And it’s always been a crucial step on the path of life for humans.

Jesus apparently went to Asia for many years to hone his spiritual practices. Buddha supposedly ventured into the woods alone and meditated under a tree for a while. Ash Ketchum traversed Canto and Joto to catch ‘em all (I had to drop a Pokemon reference). The hero archetype is brought to fruition by some form of a pilgrimage.

What’s unfortunate about our society today is that there is no real guidance regarding this stuff anymore. There are no rites of passage in the modern world.

But that missing ingredient is why pilgrimages have been making a resurgence in the form of things like backpacking and world travel. People are exploring the world more now than ever before. So this phenomenon is becoming something like a nondenominational pilgrimage. Not subject to any rigid rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s a personal journey. And the details of it are up to you.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

I hope this post inspired you to embark on an adventure of your own. It may take time and effort to line everything up, but it’s totally worth it.

I’m not condemning traveling with others either (I’m doing it right now for this part of my trip). However, I believe that everyone can benefit immensely from solo travel, even if it’s only once in your life. If you feel that inner calling, take heed and make it happen.

It’s all about the journey.

Live each moment to the fullest.

 

– Stevie P!

Website link: http://www.feelingoodfeelingreat.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FeelinGoodFeelinGreat

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SteviePThatsMe

YouTube: Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great

Source: Expanded Consciousness

Top 10 Destinations for Backpackers in Asia

10. Climb or recline on West Railay Beach, Thailand

Located on the tropical shores of the Railay peninsula, this stunning setting is among Thailand’s most picturesque white sand beaches, lapped by emerald tides and enclosed by towering limestone cliffs. These cliffs cut the peninsula off from the mainland, so it can only be reached by boat, which enhances its atmosphere of isle-like seclusion. Rock climbing up these jagged sentinels above the soft-sanded beach draws enthusiasts from around the world. And there are also plenty of bars and restaurants, at astonishingly low prices, for the more indolent to indulge in their own brand of pleasure. The accommodation is cheap too, and ranges from bamboo bungalows on the adjacent East Railay Beach, to the affordable and secluded Tonsai Bay Resort on neighboring Tonsai Beach.

9. Experience the ancient Buddhist culture of Luang Prabang, Laos

A small town in northern Laos, Luang Prabang weaves together natural and man-made beauty. It sits at the confluence of two rivers which girdle the town, beneath forest-swathed hills rising to rugged mountains. The town’s skyline is dominated by one steep hill topped with the gleaming spires of Wat Chom Si, one of many gold-hued wats sprinkled through the town, decorated with intricate mosaics depicting the life of Buddha. Each morning brings the sight of hundreds of monks wandering the town’s streets collecting alms. The town also has a long tradition of handicrafts, sold at the night market which runs until 10 at night.

8. Party All Night in Bangkok, Thailand

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A global backpacker Mecca, Bangkok’s budget travelers orbit around the hippie haven of Khao San Road, designated by one writer as “the place to disappear”. Handicrafts, food and fruit, pirated CDs and DVDs, and regional barbequed snacks join the jumble of bars and clubs that are filled with lounging travelers at any time of the day or night. Elsewhere in this buzzing, relentlessly eventful metropolis, travelers can step into relative peace in Buddhist temples such as Wat Pho, with its huge golden statue of a reclining Buddha, or explore the vast and labyrinthine Chatuchak Weekend Market.

7. Check out the questionable beaches of Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville’s latest incarnation as a budget traveler hub marks a fresh twist in its tragically eventful history. It is named after Norodom Sihanouk, a former King of Cambodia, under whom the town became a booming and glamorous port in the 1950s. But after the Khmer Rouge seized power the city was symbolically desecrated; the walls of its luxury Independence Hotel peppered with bullets. Through the past few decades, the town has been traveling the slow road to regeneration, helped in large part by intrepid backpackers who braved the journey’s dangerous reputation and brought back word of the area’s sublime beaches, such as the stunning 4km stretch of white sand, Otres Beach. The town is now the hub of Cambodia’s most vibrant backpacker scene, a chilled-out stretch of bars, restaurants, cheap lodging and tropical coastline, lively but relatively unswamped with travelers.

6. Get yourself along to the classic hippy hangout of Goa, India

There’s no denying that Goa’s soul has changed since it was first chosen by the hippies of the sixties as an exotic backdrop for exploration of self and consciousness, distanced from the psychic chains of western civilization and conveniently situated in lush tropical surroundings. There are still strong hippy communities in the area, and ragged westerners travel here to make and sell handicrafts. But these days they share the tourist space – including iconic beaches such as Calangute and Baga – with charter holidaymakers, a creeping quantity of upscale resorts, and Catholic and Hindu pilgrims. But a great backpacker scene cuts through all this, feasting on the fantastic cheap food and cavorting in the bars and on the beaches, and in many ways the area’s increasing diversity makes it all the more interesting to visit. Many budget airlines fly direct to Goa’s airport.

5. Encounter the flora and fauna of Cat Ba Island in Vietnam

The jagged archipelago of limestone islands that compose Halong Bay off Vietnam’s north coast have long been one of the country’s top backpacker attractions. As well as the ocean and beaches, there are mangrove forests, craggy peaks and enchanting caverns such as Song Sôt for tourists to explore. This environment is home to a unique world of flora and fauna, including some of the world’s rarest flowers as well as the golden Cat Ba langur. This endangered creature inhabits Cat Ba Island, one of the archipelago’s best stop-offs, an island of breathtaking beauty which packs the best of Halong Bay into one place and is a great base for kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and water sports.

4. Explore the island of Bali, Indonesia

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Bali’s volcanic landscape, fringed with world famous beaches and alternating barren and forest covered hillsides, attracts millions of tourists from all over the world, traveling on the whole spectrum of budgets. Famous backpacker sites such as Kuta Beach have now been infiltrated with wealthy resorts, top-end restaurants, and private developers who have chomped chunks of the white sand beach. But there is still a terrific budget scene and plenty of cheap and laid-back bars and cafes in which to meet locals and travelers alike. And you can meditate on the island’s spirituality at Tanah Lot Temple, spectacularly situated on a headland jutting out into the ocean.

3. Drift among the beautiful Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands make up a small archipelago just north of Lombok in Indonesia. They became popular with backpackers in the ‘80s, looking for a remote experience of the Pacific isles that didn’t require a super-expensive flight to reach. Even two decades after the first intrepid budget travelers set foot on the island’s powdery sand, it remains relatively undeveloped – there’s no automated traffic, and people travel primarily by horse and cart. But there are a few indulgences to choose between, including a Japanese restaurant, good backpacker accommodation, and, inevitably, a lively Irish bar. The island is also famous for its hatching sea turtles, and there is a sanctuary which buys the eggs from the local population to prevent them being sold in the market. And there are some world-class, uncrowded dive sites, such as the ominously named Shark Point.

2. See a different side of China in Yangshuo

Backpackers first flocked to Yangshuo in the ‘80s, set on the trail by a gushing recommendation in Lonely Planet. They discovered an entirely different China to the rapidly industrializing country depicted in the western press, a quiet, picturesque region spread from the banks of two great rivers, Li and Yulong. Strung between these rivers is a rolling landscape of bare karst peaks, green hills, deep sharp-sided caves and unique sights such as Yangshuo Moon Hill, a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole reached by over 800 marble stairs.

1. Escape the traveler crowds in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s rural north is far less infested with hordes of tourists than the resort-ridden south, and it makes a great escape from the crazy crowds that swarm Bangkok and Phuket during peak season. Chiang Mai is the region’s hub – founded in 1296, it was the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and designed as the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand. This ancient heritage can be experienced at sites such as Wat Chedi Luang, a towering ruined temple in the center of the city, and the Bhubing Palace, surrounded by colorful gardens a few kilometers out of town. And the city’s cosmopolitan ex-pat population has given rise to a vibrant scene of restaurants, bars and nightlife.

Article originally via Hopper.

12 Scary Lookouts That will Give you Butterflies

1. Linzhou spiral staircase, Taihang Mountains, China

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This 300ft spiral staircase on the wall of the Taihang Mountains, Linzhou gives visitors a real (and frickin scary) experience of the mountain range. To even thinking of climbing this staircase you need to sign a form stating you have no heart / lung problems and you also must be under the age of 60, sorry nan.

2. Titlis Cliff Walk, Switzerland

This is a pedestrian bridge along the cliff of Mount Titlis in the Swiss Alps. It stands at approximately 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level and is said to be the highest elevation suspension bridge in Europe.

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ww.titlis.ch

3. Sears Tower, Chicago, USA

Towering 110 storey’s above the streets below, the Sears Tower has four attached four glass boxes that allow visitors to step out and look below. ‘The Ledge’ has transparent walls that were designed to give visitors a floating sensation.

Via: Flickr
Via: Flickr

4. Aurland Lookout, Norway

Built by IKEA, this giant skate-ramp looking platform gives amazing views of the fjords below.

aurland

5. Grand Canyon Skywalk, Arizona, USA

This transparent horseshoe-shaped, cantilever bridge gives you the sensation of walking ‘over’ the Grand Canyon. Looking through the glass floor you can see down on to the Colorado River, some 1450m below.

grandcanyon
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wnieke/457482177/sizes/o/

6. Gurvasutti Refuge, Mont Blanc, Italy

Set 3,000m above sea level, this plane fuselage lookalike offers refuge to up to 12 climbers at a time. It hangs above a terrifying drop, yet offers unsurpassed views over the spectacular Frébouze Glacier.

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7. Shiniuzhai Geopark in Hunan, China

The worlds longest glass bridge, it spans 300m and is 180m above the ground. The floor is made of double-layered glass that is reportedly 25 times stronger than regular window glass. It’s referred to as the “hero bridge” because only hero’s have the courage to cross it.

World’s Longest Glass Bridge, 590ft High, Opens In China – Tourists Too Scared To Walk It!

8. Wooden Skywalk, Shifou Mountains, China

A 3 foot-wide path that’s made of wooden planks, thousands of feet above ground and stretching for 1.8miles. This is China’s longest sightseeing path. Look at the picture! Fuck that.

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9. Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia

Devil’s Pool is a natural rock pool on the edge of the Victoria Falls, located along the Zambezi River on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. During the dry season, Devil’s Pool is shallow enough that people can safely swim right to the edge before the waterfall drops more than 300 feet.

Img: Flickr
Img: Flickr

10. Glacier Skywalk, Jasper, Canada

The Glacier Skywalk promises an experience ‘where glaciers rest above and birds soar below’ and guarantees a special bond with the natural world. Hopefully not with the rocks 280 metres below.

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11. Tiamen Skywalk, Zhangjiajie, China

Situated 4,700ft above sea level, the 200ft long bridge joins the west cliff at the Yunmeng Fairy Summit, the summit of Tianmen Mountain and Zhang Jiajie. To save paying danger money to cleaners, tourists are asked to put on shoe covers before passing to help keep the path clean.

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Via: Wanderlust

 12. AlpspiX viewing platform (Germany)

The AlpspiX viewing platform, located at the base of Germany’s Alpspitze mountain allows visitors to walk out to the edge and look 1,000 metres down into the valley below.

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14 Awesome Water Slides from Around the World

Because who the hell doesn’t like to ride a bad-ass water slide? Even if you’re afraid of heights and can’t swim this is still a thrill you can enjoy as it requires no effort or skill. As long as you can walk up the stairs you’re ready to go.

1. BSR Wake Park, Waco, Texas

The largest of these three slides is apparently the worlds longest and tallest chute waterslide.

2. Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

The Leap of Faith has a 60-foot drop from the top of this stunning Mayan Temple, submerging riders in a tunnel under a “shark filled lagoon.”

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3. Città del Mare, Italy

You can slide right into the Mediterranean Sea at this Italian resort.

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4. L2, Austria

The first “double loop” waterslide in the world and it looks pretty ominous!

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5. Slip N Fly, Koh Phangnan, Thailand

In the same vein as BSR Wake Park, but this is on the island notorious for it’s full moon parties!

6. Insano, Brazil

With a fitting name,  this used to be the World’s Tallest Water Slide, standing at 135-feet tall and reaching speeds up to 65 mph.

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7. Master Blaster Water Coasters, Dubai

Located at Atlantis The Palms Resort, these dizzying slides take you through the park for a crazy, wet adventure.

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8. Black Hole – Bad 1 – Germany

This slide might be as close as you can get to an acid trip in a water park without actually taking acid..

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9. Boeing 747, Oregon

This plane is actually a water slide. I wonder if it flies?

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10. Head-first Racer, China

The perfect slide at Chimelong Waterpark if you crave a little competition between your friends.

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11.Epic Plunge, Norwegian Cruise Line

A water slide on a cruise ship? This would be ten times cooler if the slides actually emptied into the ocean.

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12. Verrückt – Schlitterbahn Water Park – Kansas City

Taller than the Statue of Liberty, this is the world’s tallest water slide at 168 feet and 7 inches. I’d definitely be Schittering all over the place if I went down this.

13. Big Thunder, Florida

Hold hands with your best mate, or hold a beer as you ride through a 45-degree drop that accelerates the raft into a huge funnel at 20 mph at Rapids Waterpark in West Palm Beach.

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14. Tantrum Alley, Dubai

This is just dizzying to look at!

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If you’e looking to transfer some money so you can experience these bad-ass slides Czech out our article on how to save money when transferring internationally here.

Epic 360 Photos From Around the World

For those who are afraid of leaving the comforts of home and responsibilities but still want to see the world, Google Maps photo spheres are the answer! These amazing interactive, 360-degree photos span across the globe, from the warm beaches of Thailand, to the frozen landscapes of Antarctica. *Note – these are best viewed on a desktop computer, or with the Google Maps App.*

Frozen waterfall at Athabasca Falls, Canada

Ko Phi Phi Don – Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Milford Sound – South Island, New Zealand

The Wave – Arizona, USA

Cable Beach – Western Australia

Machu Picchu, Peru

Ross Island – Antarctica

Dynjandifoss – Westfjords, Iceland

White Desert – Al Farafrah, Egypt

Preikestolen – Forsand, Norway

Lake Bogoria Nature Reserve – Kenya

Erta Ale – Afar Zone 2, Ethiopia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Causeway to Fingal’s Cave – Isle of Staffa, Scotland

Meteroa – Kalampaka, Greece

Sanja Festival in Tokyo, Japan

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