Does that hot, clammy feeling you get in the tropics put you to sleep? Do you daydream of crackling snow, iced-up lakes, howling Huskies and cozy, wintry log cabins?
If you do, why not turn the world on its head and sample a different kind of travel - cold weather travel?
Even if you love palm trees and lush rainforests, they might pale after a few months and who knows, you could be ready for an icy adventure!
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #36
- The Best Cold Weather Destinations
- What's New on www.women-on-the-road.com
- Ask me a question!
- If you're dreaming of travel writing for a living...
- Most Popular Posts Last Month
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: Ending Global Hunger
If you've ever been to or flown over Northern Canada or Scandinavia in winter, you've seen these - strings of dancing lights ranging from pale green to deep purple, shimmering in the sky like a curtain. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, they are truly among nature's most awe-inspiring sights. Where best to see them? Alaska, the Canadian North, Iceland, Greenland, Norway (Tromsø and Finnmark), Sweden (Abisko) and Finland (northern Lapland), although during major solar events you can see them much further afield. Just make sure you're far from a city so its lights don't interfere. And the best time of year? March/April and September/October because of the sun's higher activity then (keep track of this activity at spaceweather.com if you're really keen) although January is good in Scandinavia too. The lights are cyclical, according to experts, and the next best cycle is in 2013!
If you're truly a fan of the cold, possibly the coldest point on the planet is the Vostok Scientific Station, near the South Geomagnetic Pole. But that's not where you want to go to visit Antarctica, is it... To come here as a tourist you'll probably arrive by ship, although there are a few fly-overs (including day flights from Australia and a few from Punta Arenas, Chile). If you're sailing, you'll need a strong stomach in the rough waters of the Drake Passage so learn to treat motion sickness before setting sail. Packed your parka? Visit online Antarctica forums to get the latest news. Then head off to watch penguins watching you and take some of the world's most spectacular photos. Beware, though: tourism has an impact on such a pristine environment so tread with care.
Siberia and Northern Russia
Siberia competes with Antarctica when it comes to cold, and a good way to watch it go by while you stay toasty is on Trans-Siberian Railway, although you won't experience the cold unless you get off along the way. (This amazing video will give you a virtual visit of the train journey but unfortunately it wasn't shot in winter.) There are plenty of winter destinations in Siberia, as well as some good travel tips online. For a marathon of cold, visit Yakutsk (known as the coldest city on earth) and Verkhoyansk, the coldest place in Asia. For a literary peek at the region, read Colin Thubron's In Siberia.
International Falls, Minnesota, is known as the "icebox of the nation" - its average daily December temperature is close to freezing. There's plenty to do during Minnesota winters: ice fishing, snowmobiling, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Of course you won't want to miss the annual Icebox Days Festival, especially if you have your heart set on bowling with frozen turkeys, building snow sculptures or racing in the "Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard" runs.
When you think North, think winter - you might think of Alaska, wouldn't you? The Iditarod dogsled race, panning for gold, Denali or Kenai Fjords national parks, plentiful wildlife (and of course the Northern Lights). Alaska is also a great place to get to know indigenous cultures, of which there are 11. Some of the Aleut cultures are more than 8000 years old, and there are many different native groups. But lets get back to the cold: Glacier viewing? Whalewatching? Crust skiing?
It's called the Winter Wonderland for a reason - or for several. Imagine cuddling up next to a fire in a log cabin, snow falling gently all around you and Huskies barking in the distance. In the morning you'll don your snowshoes and crunch on the freshly-fallen sheets of untouched white expanse... or if you're feeling lazy, why not hitch up your reindeer sleigh and go see where Santa lives.
Quebec City in winter can be a wonderland - but with the wind blowing up from the St Lawrence River it can also be very, very cold. It's worth braving the wind if you plan to attend the Quebec Winter Carnival, the largest in the world, and its snow sculpture competition. In fact, fighting winter here makes little sense, so people embrace it instead, with unlikely fun like taking ice baths, sleeping in igloos or swinging around the dance floor with Bonhomme Carnaval.
The world's largest island isn't an easy place to reach, and with most flights routed through Copenhagen, it's not cheap either. But once there, prepare for an adventure especially if you're heading to the Magnetic North. From January to April, you'll see winter like never before. You can practice your dogsledding, track musk ox and reindeer or watch the Northern Lights, you can go winter sailing or visit the inland ice cap. If that's too tame there's always the World Ice Golf Championships or the Snow Sculpture Festival.
What do the movies A View to Kill, Die Another Day, Tomb Raider and Batman Begins have in common? Jökulsárlón, that's what, or Glacier Lagoon, the largest in Iceland, a venue of drifting icebergs so spectacular that filmmakers just can't stay away. If icebergs are too, well, icy, take a winter swim in the Blue Lagoon spa: dunk your head under the warm water and taste the snowflakes and watch your hair freeze on end when you come up for air. Still cold? Head to one of the country's more than 800 natural hot springs. If you crave nightlife, the world's northernmost capital, Reykjavik, is famous for its avant-garde music scene. After all, it gave us Björk, didn't it?
This month, find out plenty of unusual and interesting facts about France!
Are you wondering...
- how safe it is to travel solo?
- the best places to go on your own?
- how much it might cost?
- what to pack?
- how to meet people and ward off loneliness?
- about the most unusual destinations?
Here are some recent questions readers have asked in the past month, and please go ahead and leave a comment on any of the pages - I'd love to hear from you!
- How much money do I need to travel for seven months? asks Clo in Australia
- Should I leave it all behind? asks Lindsay in Alberta
- How can a 20-year-old drive safely across the Western US alone? asks Renee from Indiana
- How good is communications technology in Thailand? asks Laurie
- I am all "Churched" and "Museumed" out! Help! says Spachick
- Travelling alone in Cuba... Is it safe? asks Monica from Madrid
- Can a girl fresh out of high school travel in Africa for a year - solo? Grace in Ohio wants to know
If you're a woman on the road - or about to hit the road - and have a question which could be of interest to other readers, post it here and I'll answer it online. Please don't ask me for job leads or recommendations for hotels or restaurants - plenty of sites out there do that far better than I ever could!
If you need to get in touch with me personally for any of the following reasons, please either Reply to this email or use this form (and don't forget to include your email!)
- to exchange links
- to approach me with a proposal
- or anything else that might require a personal answer from me.
If you've ever wanted to travel around the world and have a hidden yen to write, you've probably thought of becoming a travel writer. And if you haven't, there's no better time than now!
That's right. Even if you've never written a single word, my free travel writing course - The Travel Writing Magician - will help you turn out travel prose like a pro.
Why magician? Because it can teach even the barest of beginners to put together a saleable travel story.
I've paid for my own travel as a writer so I've learned a trick or two about what kind of writing sells and how to make a living at it. To share some of these travel writing tips with you I've developed a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of this ezine - and nowhere else.
Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!
Have you ordered The Art of Solo Travel yet?
If you're traveling on your own for the first time - if you have any doubts or fears, if you're not sure where to start, or if you're a bit apprehensive about what it will be like, The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide, by Stephanie Lee, is written with you in mind.
The Art of Solo Travel is a feisty, congenial, pictorial and smart e-book that will tell you everything you need to know to get out the door and on the road. Find out how to save for your trip, break the news to your loved ones, what to do along the way, and how to come home. It's short, light and to the point - no padding like so many other e-books.
The author, an architect turned travel writer, traveled solo for six months and took plenty of notes along the way. Her advice carries a lot of common sense, from the obvious - don't walk alone in dark alleys - to using iGoogle for everything from location to translation.
Her central premise? "Embrace your individuality and sense of adventure."
1. Travel Packing List
2. International Travel Nursing
3. Travel Writer
4. Dangerous Places
5. Solo Travel
6. Women's Travel Clothing
7. Stay in a Monastery
8. How to Avoid Crime Abroad
9. Travel Destinations
10. Slum Tourism
Top 10 Things I Learned from Travel
Should Solo Women Travelers Pretend to be Married?
Dervla Murphy's 10 Best Ways to Travel
10 Tips for Travel in a Foreign Language
Tips for Self-Portraits When Traveling Solo
What's Your Take on Travel?
5 Unforgettable Travel Experiences
Easing into Solo Travel with Flowers and Friendliness
20 Awsomely Untranslateable Words from Around the World
For food lovers...
Bring Your Own Food: Eating Out in the Philippines
Cheap Eats in Rome
Savoyard Specialities to Make You Fat!
Taipei: 48 Hours of Culinary Adventure
Galicia, Spain: A Treasure Trove of Culture and Cuisine
The Secret Veggie Meals of London
...and lovers of other arts
Swimming with Humpback Whales in Tonga
Life in the World's Oldest Desert, Namibia
Nice, France: Beautiful Beaches, Clubs and Culture
Adriatic Coast of Montenegro
Returning to Sierra Leone: Elemental Africa
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Life in Ngiresi Village, Tanzania
When Millions Still Go Hungry
As we diet to lose weight, people are dying because they can't put any weight on. Every day, one in six people worldwide go to bed hungry: that's one billion people this year, despite the fact that the world makes enough food to feed everyone. It's just not distributed evenly.
As the economic crisis causes countries to backtrack on funding promises, the situation can only get worse.
Here are some stark facts about hunger:
- Each day nearly 16,000 children die of hunger-related illnesses (like diarrhea or malaria, which prey on children weakened by hunger). Put another way, that's one child death every five seconds.
- In the developing world more than 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day.
- Most of the world's hungry people are found in the developing world, but 34 million live in wealthy countries.
- Soil degradation, natural hazards, chronic water shortages, inappropriate agricultural policies and pressure on the land threaten the production of food in many countries.
To help the fight against global hunger or to find out more:
The Hunger Project
Bread for the World
World Food Program
Global Hunger: Connecting the Headlines
Freedom from Hunger
Hunger Index Shows 1 Billion Without Enough Food
World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics 2010
How to Find a Volunteer Placement Overseas
(c) 2007-2010, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.