Travel isn't just about sightseeing: to me it's about learning things and experiencing different cultures. When I travel I like to come back with some knowledge I didn't have when I left.
It's also about enjoying - enjoying what you see of course but also what you do.
I've put together a totally biased list that tells you what I might like to do for fun and learning - you're welcome to add to it and if you do (just Reply to this email) I'll publish your suggestions in next month's ezine!
16 Ways to Spice Up Your Travels - Issue 52
Learn a language
I always try to learn a few phrases before I go somewhere. The challenge is on: in a couple of months I'll be in Albania - I'm not making much headway on this one! How to learn a language? One little word at a time.
Take a cooking class
As a foodie this is something I never miss. In Bangkok I prepared Som Tam (papaya salad) for the entire restaurant, with plenty of help from the concerned owner. Most cities offer some kind of cooking course.
The light of Provence is famous so it's no wonder artists have been gathering there to paint the sea, land and sky. You'll find plenty of art courses there - and in many other parts of the world.
Learn to make something
You can learn to blow glass, embroider, make a shaman drum, upholster, sculpt wood... look at the handiwork wherever you are and ask around. A friend of mine ended up making a stained glass panel just by asking in a souvenir store.
A perennial favorite, volunteering can be both empowering and fun. Find something you're good at and offer to share it. I taught briefly in a Brasilia school - a scary experience since those kids seemed to know more than I did.
Become an acting extra
Many places have casting calls for locally-filmed movies, and they're often looking for someone physically different from locals. So if you happen to have a hidden desire to see yourself on the big screen, why not?
Explore becoming an expat
Have you ever considered living abroad? Your travels are a great opportunity to scope out a possible future home.
Get some health or dental care
Medical and dental tourism are all the rage as costs at home go up. You can get your teeth fixed or whitened at a third of the price so why not take advantage of being in Thailand or India to do just that?
Wine producing areas often have inexpensive tastings - all because they hope you will buy plenty of wine. Although this would be nice for the producer you're under no obligation.
Get (or stay) fit
This could be your chance to get back into shape. I've taken part in dawn group exercises in Lumphini Park in Bangkok, for free, and great fun. Many cities have morning exercises you can join, so stay fit!
Learn a sport
Going beyond getting fit to learning sea kayaking, rafting, swimming (not all of us know how to!), cycling, horse riding, sailing, scuba diving, windsurfing - and plain old hiking.
Have an adventure
Always dreamed of skydiving? Floating over Cappadoccia in a hot air balloon? Climbing Kili? Bungee jumping in New Zealand? Do it now, while you're traveling, because you'll be surrounded by like-minded first-timers.
Dine with locals
Meeting locals with whom you can spend an interesting dinner is great fun (you can do that through Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club as well). Discover new foods, make new friends, and find out how local people live where you are.
You may be used to sleeping in a room with four walls but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try a few different arrangements - yurts, teepees, caravans, houseboats, tree houses, longhouses...
Depending on where you are you'll have plenty of opportunities to get intimate with nature - birdwatching, whalewatching, gorilla and other wildlife safaris, trekking through the rainforest...
I won't rehash this here because last month's ezine was entirely dedicated to the topic of spiritual travel!
Survey Results and Amazon Vouchers
Ladies, you did it! Nearly 400 of you responded to our survey last month and the chance of winning a $100 Amazon voucher.
The winner of the $100 voucher is Merry C. from Minnesota, USA - Merry, if you're reading this please get in touch right away - just Reply to this email because I haven't been able to reach you!
Given the overwhelming response I decided to give out a second prize of $50 to say thank you, Women on the Road! That prize was won by Tamara of Newcastle, NSW in Australia.
Are you curious about the survey? If you are, this is the big picture:
- 375 of you filled out the survey form
- 99.5% of you are women - but 2 men also answered!
- half are single, and a third are married or in a partnership
- you're of all ages, with those in their 20s and 50s slightly more numerous than other age groups - but very slightly
- more than half of you have a university degree and most of you have some university at least
- most of you work, and most of you travel several times a year at least
- a majority of you travel solo (not that surprising!)
- visiting the sights is your favourite pastime followed closely by meeting people and sampling food and wine
- you'd like to read more how-to articles, destination pieces and travel gear information (I'll try to oblige in the coming months)
What a great bunch of women! And thank you again for responding in such great numbers - this really helps me decide what to write and research for you.
Recommended Books and Products
The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide (by Stephanie Lee) - The bestselling guide to traveling on your own for the first time. Filled with information, fun to read, and a quick download right into your inbox.
Video 101: Tips and Tricks for Awesome Visual Storytelling (by Lisa Lubin) - My other favorite download. Video is increasingly popular and Lisa, who has won three Emmies, shows you how easy it is to get it right.
My new Lumix DMC-LX5 - This is my new toy and I carry it with me everywhere. I'm not a good photographer but this amazing point-and-shoot (absolutely pro quality) makes it look like I am. Have a look at the Amazon customer reviews (click the Lumix link above to read what others have to say about it).
If you've been traveling please come and share your experiences with the rest of us and if you're still undecided about something, ask me a question. For example, Catherine in New York asks How can I work legally in Europe?
Newly posted on the website this month, a great piece by two public health specialists on whether to use diva cups or tampons when you travel, and don't forget to read my interview with Nara and Tanya of the travel blog Off Track Backpacking.
Travel News from across the Web
For food lovers...
Madrid's Culinary Revolution
Cooking Class in Dalmatia
Best Food in Umbria
A Foodie's Tour of the Forgotten Corners of Paris
How to Take Tea Around the World
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar in Italy
An Introduction to Food in Myanmar
...and lovers of other arts
If You're Visual
Seoul Searching: 5 Can't Miss Activities in Korea's Capital
5 Tips for Visiting Cologne
Navigating the Moscow Metro
Copenhagen: City of Bicycles
Budapest's Brilliant Baths
The Not So Great Parts of Asia
How to Explore Canada Like a Local
6 Reasons to Visit Bulgaria
Unusual Museums of the US
Cause of the Month
Earthquakes... they can happen anywhere
It seems like only a few weeks ago I was relaxing in the shadows of Assisi, sampling the food of Modena, driving through Emilia Romagna when on 20 May, just after my departure, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit the region, killing at least 16 people and producing two major aftershocks. It's been called the worst earthquake in Italy since the 14th century.
Just nine days later, another quake hit killing 17, just as survivors were beginning to pick up the threads of their lives in the hardest-hit towns in north-central Italy.
In addition to the deaths, hundreds were left homeless and buildings are destroyed, especially those weakened by the earlier quake.
These earthquakes come on the heel of the devastating 2009 tremor in L'Aquila further south, which registered 6.3 on the Richter scale and killed more than 300 people.
What's with all these earthquakes in Italy? The region is a seismic hotspot, and experts don't think the quakes are over yet. Given the region's popularity with tourists and businesses (it's an industrial heartland for machine and automobile production) people are worried.
For more information about the earthquakes in Italy and what to do:
Drop, Cover and Hold on
Italians concerned about cancellations
Parmesan industry devastated
Government advisories about Italy (some are better than others): USA, UK, NZ, Australia and Canada.
FAQs on earthquakes
The most popular travel scams and how to avoid them
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