25 Questions To Ask Your Travel Buddy On Long Travel Days

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


There is A LOT of down time when you are traveling long distances — waiting for your flight, driving to your next destination, or relaxing on a train.

You could sit with your nose in a book or scroll through Instagram to pass the hours, but why not take the opportunity to ask your travel buddy (or the random person sitting across from you if they look interesting) some fun questions and get to know each other better instead?

You never know where the conversation might go…

1. Describe what you looked like in your most awkward childhood phase.

2. What is the weirdest thing that you’ve ever eaten?

3. Describe your perfect meal.

4. Have you ever done something illegal and never gotten caught?

5. You can have one superpower — what would it be and why?

6. Is there a country or city in the world that you never want to visit?

7. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

8. If you could stay this age forever, would you?

9. What is your favorite smell?

10. If you needed a new identity what would your name be, where would you go, and what would you do?  

11. If you had to compete in a food eating contest, what type of food would you pick?

12. Have you ever gone skinny dipping? Where and when?

13. Would you rather give up coffee forever or alcohol forever?

14. If you could be a fictional character who would you be?

15. If you could join a mission to colonize Mars, would you?

16. Tell me something that nobody knows about you.

17. What would your personal theme song be if you were a character in a sitcom?

18. If you could change one thing about the way you look, what would you change?

19. If you could time travel, what year or event would you go back to?

20. What’s your go-to karaoke song?

21. Tell me about the last thing you read.

22. Do you believe in ghosts?

23. What is your favorite Olympic sport?

24. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Why?

25. Describe yourself in five words.

Click here to download a pdf of the questions to take with you on your next trip!

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Questions to ask your buddy on long travel days
Questions to ask your buddy on long travel days



Hit The Beach! Your Guide to the Best Beaches in the USA

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Winters are long and cold, and I find myself dreaming of the beach for most of the year (who am I kidding, ALL of the year).

There are so many incredible tropical locations to explore in the world, but when the warm weather hits, the beaches in the US are well worth a visit.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the total length of the US shoreline (which includes outer coast, offshore islands, sounds, bays, rivers, and creeks), is a staggering 95,471 miles (153,646 km)!

That’s a lot of beach to explore!

What’s interesting about the beaches in the States is that they are so varied. Some do feel like a topical paradise, others are stormy and rocky, while others are deserted and isolated. Because of the sheer size of the country, there is no way you could visit all of the beaches in a single visit, but there are some more famous and popular ones that are definitely worth planning your trip around.

Surf Spots

Is catching a wave your idea of the perfect day at the beach? There are some amazing surf spots in the States. Here are two of the most famous:

Huntington Beach

Orange County, California
Also known as “Surf City,” this beach attracts serious crowds. There are actually four different surf spots in the area that cater to all levels — from the novice to the expert.

According to Gear Patrol, “longboarders should head to the northwest beaches, while shortboards are best in the south, by Huntington Beach Pier.”

Pipeline

North Shore, Oahu
I couldn't talk about surf spots and not mention a beach in Hawaii!

Considered to have the some of the world’s biggest and best waves, this spot is for serious surfers only. The currents are strong and the reef is sharp and cavernous, but that’s the reason for the incredible 30-foot waves and the large, hollow tubes of water that surfers are often photographed on. If you aren’t experienced enough to ride the waves yourself, it’s the perfect spot to take some amazing photos of world-class surfers!

Suntanning + People Watching

Located on opposite sides of the country, these two spots are the best beaches to see and be seen in America.

Miami Beach

Miami, Florida
This famous beach has more than 13 million visitors each year (!) making it the ideal spot to people watch.

The southern portion, or South Beach, is known for being the spot where models, celebrities, and other millionaires hang out (get ready for some celebrity spotting!), and this is where you will find the famous Ocean Drive with its stunning Art Deco architecture.

Venice Beach

Los Angeles, California
More than 16 million people visit the quirky and charter-filled Venice Beach every year to experience the sights and sounds of this one-of-a-kind spot.

Stroll down the boardwalk, purchase some unique souvenirs from a street vendor, get your fortune told, play some basketball, go dancing, relax in the sand, or get a little surfing in — there is so much to do here!  

Sunsets + Romance

Walk barefoot in the sand and catch the sunset at one of these locations that seem made for romance.

Your guide to the best beaches in America

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, North Carolina
This gorgeous spot in the Brunswick Islands has a mile-long beach that is south facing, which means that you can watch the sun both rise and set over the water.  

Located at one end of the beach is the Kindred Spirits Mailbox, where lovers can pen notes to each other, or leave behind wishes for the future.

Montauk Point State Park

Montauk, New York
A favorite escape for New Yorkers, couples love this destination for its peace and serenity.

Go for a romantic horseback ride, take in the stunning views from the majestic rocky shore, or explore the beautiful 200-year-old lighthouse that sits on the cliffs in the park.

Get Your Party On

It’s 5 o’clock all day at these destinations that are always ready to party!

Your guide to the best beaches in America

Wildwood Beach

Wildwood, New Jersey
The famous Jersey Shore is known for its boardwalk and amusement park with more than 100 rides!

There are a variety of clubs and bars that turn up the heat when the sun goes down, and are where you can enjoy great food, indulge in some cocktails, or spend the night tearing up the dance floor.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia
The beach’s boardwalk is home to a strip of bars that is perfect for those that are looking to bar hop the night away. There are also some pretty incredible happy hour prices along the strip — some starting as early as 11 am!

LGBTQ-Friendly Destinations

Sun, sand, and all-inclusive fun await you at these LGBTQ-friendly destinations!

Race Point Beach

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Dubbed “P-town,” this free-spirited beach town has been a must-visit destination for LGBTQ travelers for years.

You’ll find a thriving art scene, whale-watching, incredible seafood, and lots of romantic and secluded spots to stroll.

Will Rogers State Beach (aka Ginger Rogers Beach)

Santa Monica, California
Located right off the Pacific Coast Highway, this is the closest (unofficial) gay beach to Los Angeles, so you may have a chance to do some movie star spotting here!

This is also the beach where the movie Creature From The Black Lagoon was filmed, as well as the TV series Baywatch!

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Your guide to the best beaches in America
Your guide to the best beaches in America



12 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Nova Scotia in Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Though Canada’s east coast has been occupied and built up longer than most of Canada by outsiders who brought farming, building, and industry to the “New World”, there is still something raw, wild, and just beautiful about this part of the country.

Yes, a lot of that beauty is a result of human occupation, but there seems to be a symbiosis between the land and the people who live in it, and a respect for the roaring ocean that is always close by.

These 12 photos show some of my favourite parts of this stunning province, and showcase why it is worth the visit.

The boardwalks that take you from a gravel parking lot on the side of the road, through the sand dunes, and out onto the beach that is stunning if it is shrouded on fog or glowing under the blue sky!

The happy, multi-coloured buildings found everywhere you look — in cities, villages, and on farms!

Sleepy fishing villages with moss covered roofs in quiet coves.

Fishing nets, boats, traps, colourfully painted floats, and the fishermen themselves are full of character.

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove — it doesn’t matter how touristy it is, this will always be one of my favourite spots!

Short ferry rides that give you views of small villages along the water and shorten your drive time.

Stunning parks are found throughout the province, like this one in Halifax.

Weathered, historic buildings that have held their own through winter storms and bright sunshiny days.

It’s just so ridiculously beautiful — I mean, look at those colors!!

Everywhere you turn, you seem to be at the beach, which is almost more beautiful in the fog than it is in the sunshine.

I could stare at the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean that crashes against the shoreline for days.

The colourful buildings in the North End of Halifax that have so much character!

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Visit Nova Scotia in Canada
Visit Nova Scotia in Canada


Your Guide to The Top Cities and Countries to Visit In 2019

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Lush green rainforests, storybook castles, rugged mountain peaks — where are you dreaming of visiting in 2019?

There are a lot of articles out there already about the top places to visit in 2019 so, to make things easier, I've rounded up the best to give you a one-stop spot to plan your 2019 adventures.

Here are the top five destinations for the year according to National GeographicLonely PlanetTravel + Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveller — four of my favourite travel publications!

National Geographic’s “Where to Travel in 2019”

1. Mexico City, Mexico (see image above)
The local food scene is the biggest draw according to the article, with a focus on handmade corn tortillas.

2. The Peruvian Amazon
Did you know that the Amazon rainforest covers more than half of Peru?!

3. Fanjinshan, China
This sacred Buddhist site is China’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Dakar, Senegal
The center of the fashion world in Senegal, this city is known for its incredible nightlife.

5. Dordogne, France
An annual celebration in this region called the Félibrée turns 100 in 2019 and the castles and landscape make this destination look like it’s out of a fairytale!

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list.

Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2019”

*Note: This article contains multiple lists, but I’ve focused on the cities for this post.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Dubbed the “capital of cool”, this city is a hub of fashion, food, and culture!

2. Shenzhen, China
Considered to be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of China, this city is bursting with tech innovation.

3. Novi Sad, Siberia
The 2019 European Youth Capital, this city is quickly developing its cultural assets as it is set to be the 2021 European Capital of Culture.

4. Miami, USA (see image above)
Always a popular destination for beaches and nightlife, Miami has transformed into a “burgeoning center for the arts, a foodie destination and an innovator in urban design”.

5. Katmandu, Nepal
Still rebuilding after the 2015 earthquake, this city is in a phase of rejuvenation — tourism dollars can only help!

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list. 

Travel + Leisure’s “The 50 Best Places To Travel in 2019”

1. The Adirondacks, New York
”Clear lakes, pure air, and 46 high peaks to climb” — what more could you want?!

2. Alberta, Canada
The majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains, incredible museums and art galleries, and a robust foodie scene — this province in Canada has a lot to offer!

Read The Anthrotorian’s Guide to Trekking The Sulphur Skyline Train in Jasper, Alberta

3. Alsace, France
This region produces some of the best wine in the world and has incredible dining to go with it.

4. The Andaman Islands
This chain of more than 300 islands is between India and Thailand and is the definition of paradise.

5. Armenia (see image above)
A new liberal government has made this stunning country more welcoming and accessible to tourists.

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list.

Conde Nast Traveller’s “Top Holiday Destinations 2019”

1. The Peloponnese, Greece
Escape the crowds of Santorini and check out this even more stunning under-the-radar Greek destination.

2. Egypt
If museums are your thing (they are definitely mine!), the Grand Egyptian Museum is opening in January of 2019.

3. Matera, Italy
This romantic and historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Perth, Western Australia
A foodie and wine destination, this city is also a great jumping off point for adventures in Australia’s “wild west”.

5. The Scottish Highlands
Step into the wild wilderness that looks like a movie set or cuddle up near a fire in the local pub.

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list. 

Left photo below by Oliver Sjöström, Instagram: @ollivves, Website: https://ollivves.com/ 

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Your guide to the best cities and countries to visit in 2019
Your guide to the best cities and countries to visit in 2019


15 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Lagos in Portugal

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Lagos Portugal Algarve

Stretching 150 km along the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve is arguably one of the most beautiful and varied coastlines in the world. 

You can find solitude on sandy islands, action-packed golden beaches with amazing nightlife, and the famous breathtaking cliff-backed shorelines that have taken over Instagram. There are also charming towns packed with cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, and lots of cobblestone streets to wander through when the sun goes down. 

If you are looking for resorts and nightlife, the east and center of the long coastline is where you should base. The west is a little quieter and more rugged. If you are looking for the best of both worlds, head to my favourite spot — Lagos.  

 

Why Lagos?

Lagos sits right on the coast with an old town that is surrounded by a 16th-century wall enclosing picturesque plazas, cobbled lanes, churches, charming restaurants, fantastic nightlife and more. Many of the hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and rental apartments are located outside of the old town but are easy to walk to. There are also a lot of grocery stores and markets if you are wanting to self-cater. 

Nearby beaches offer every type of activity imaginable, but you are also close to the rock backed nooks that you can climb down to if you are looking for a more secluded spot for the day. 

Getting there 

Portugal has fantastic train and bus networks that you can use to get all over the country. You can access Lagos from Lisbon by train, and there are also coastal trains that run back-and-forth along the cost if you would like to visit different towns and beaches during your stay. 

You can pre-buy your tickets on the Comboios de Portugal website. (TIP: The first-class ticket is usually only a few Euros more than the regular class. If you are looking for more space, a quieter car, and free wifi consider sitting in a first-class car.)

When to go

As with any location with a beach, as soon as summer hits locals and tourists alike flock to the sand and clear blue water of the Algarve. The summer months will find towns and beaches packed with people and temperatures soar. 

By October, the tourists clear out, but if you are (like me) okay with hitting the beach in around 20-degree weather (78-degrees Fahrenheit), then the fall and spring are lovely times to visit. You'll be sharing the town and beaches with locals, some expats, and the odd tourist, and prices will also be significantly lower. 

Watch out for

The beaches and towns along the Algarve are some of the busiest areas in Portugal in the summer months and the pickpockets know it. Keep your eye on your belongings, especially when laying on the beach.

Be careful if you decide to search out a cliff-backed beach, as the cliffs can often be unstable. And, make sure you are aware of ocean conditions — some areas can experience dangerous currents and winds.  

Surrounded by a historic wall, there are only a few paved roads that cars, and pedestrians, can use to access the town of Lagos through curved entryways. 

The streets of Lagos are paved with unique patterns laid out in cobblestones. Buildings are painted white, orange, pink, or blue, or are covered in stunning Portuguese tiles. 

Sun drenched streets make the tile-covered buildings in Lagos look even more beautiful. This shot was taken on my visit there in November when it was still hot enough to lay on the beach all day, but not hot enough to be packed with tourists. 

Cafes, restaurants, and charming souvenir shops spill out into the cobblestone pedestrian street in Lagos. 

One of the famous cliff-backed, secluded beaches, Praia do Camilo is a bit of a hike to get down to but is SO worth it. It is about a 40-minute walk from the heart of Lagos, but there are also local buses that will drop you off near this spot. 

A rock face at Praia do Camilo from the beach level. To the left is a passage through the thick cliff that gives you access to a smaller, more private beach on the other side. 

The homes that are located outside the city walls are colourful, covered in stunning flowers, and are often available for rent if you are looking for a base to have a longer stay in the area. 

Because of the year-round beautiful weather, even in November, these stunning flowers were in full bloom. 

There are hiking trails along the coast from Lagos heading west to a historic lighthouse. They take you past incredible views, to the top of staircases that lead you to secluded beaches, and go for miles. 

Near the lighthouse, there are caverns in the rock that can be accessed by boat. If you aren't interested in the hike, there are boats that leave from Lagos that will give you the ocean-side view of the cliffs. 

Looking east from the top of the cliffs near Lagos, you can see other whitewashed towns dappled along the coastline. 

The golden sand and stunning blue waters of the Praia Dona Ana, located just outside of central Lagos. 

I was surprised to see how many unique and colourful shells are washed up on the beach every day — most of them completely intact. The beaches of the Algarve are a beachcombers dream! 

Gotta love having a quiet, secluded spot to set up a selfie at sunset! Nothing better than getting that perfect shot for Instagram :) 

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Lagos Portugal Algarve
Lagos Portugal Algarve



The Most Epic Road Trips in the World

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Road trips are one of the best ways to travel because you get to experience everything hands-on — the culture, the people, and the scenery of every place you visit (or pass through). Some of the best parts of a new place, that you would miss if you are rushing from place-to-place on a plane or train. 

That’s why I love this awesome infographic guide to the longest roads (aka most epic road trips) in the world!

It includes travel times, cool stops, and fun info about each route, like The Golden Quadrilateral Highway in India (such an awesome name), which takes you past the Taj Mahal and India’s countryside.

Or, the Pan-American Highway that is longer than the length of the equator! I had no idea this road even existed! There are some seriously dangerous spots on this trip though, like the Summit of Death, a mountain pass in Costa Rica that many travelers don’t make it through. Also the Darien Gap, a stretch of swampland that is basically completely untouched because no one can access it. Travel at your own risk!

Check out the full infographic below!



Longest Roads in the World



GUEST POST: The 10 Best Cities To Visit In China

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China

China is a huge and diverse country, which can be overwhelming to travel through — especially if you have a limited timeframe or budget. There are cities full of skyscrapers and those will transport you back in time, but they all hold a uniqueness that will make you want to linger a little longer. 

To help you plan your trip, I've narrowed down the huge list of cities in China to the ones that you absolutely must see as a first time (or repeat) visitor.

Beijing

The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall of China — you could spend your entire time in Beijing exploring all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but some of the most interesting parts of this city can be found within its traditional narrow alleys.  

A few of these alleyways are even protected to preserve them from future development, and you are definitely going to want to wander through them to capture a glimpse of what everyday life is like in this city. I recommend the alleyways near Nanluoguziang and Ping’anli to see and experience. 

When it comes to art and culture, the 798 Art Zone, which used to be filled with Mao-era factories, is complete with contemporary art galleries, bookshops, and cafes. It is the perfect destination for a relaxing and people watching at any time of day.  

Xi’an

Beijing may have a lot of cultural attractions, but Xi’an has its fair share as well.

The awe-inspiring Terracotta Army Museum was discovered in 1974 by local farmers, and this archaeological site contains a staggering collection of life-size terracotta sculptures that depict the army of Qin Shi Huang. 

The Hanyangling Mausoleum also displays terracotta figures from two thousand years ago and it is not as crowded as the other museum. 

While in Xi’an, you will also want to visit the Muslim Quarter and take a bike ride along the top of the impressive city wall. 

Shanghai

Shanghai is fast-paced and glamorous but also has an undercurrent of history. 

Walking down the Bund, which is the historic and glitzy walkway on the waterside, is necessary as is visiting the fabulous Yuyuan Gardens. 

There are also a number of hip neighborhoods throughout the city, including Tianzifang, The Cool Docks, and M50, and you will want to wander through a couple of them to check-out what all the hype is about.

Chengdu

The food in Chengdu is amazing and you will love eating your way through this city. 

Start with rice cakes and sesame sauce before diving into the spicy chicken on a stick, but do not forget to try the Sichuan hot pot. This infamous dish is a spicy broth that you can dip a number of different types of food into. You will be able to try any of these delicious dishes at any restaurant, market, or tea house in the city. 

Once you've experienced all the food in Chengdu, you will find that the city is relaxed and low-key. 

One of the more popular places to visit is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and once you've been there it is all about the local parks. The best park is People’s Park, where you can relax by the lake, practice calligraphy on the pavement, or join in on one of the many dance classes that are always on offer. 

Guilin

Nature abounds in Guilin with rolling green hills, beautiful water, deep dark caves, and jagged rocks. 

Most people that visit cannot believe that this area is a city at all due to all the beauty that lies before them. Embrace the tranquility and enjoy the solitude that Guilin has to offer canoeing, kayaking, hiking, cycling, and spending time in nature. 

Guangzhou

This city has long been part of the famous Maritime Silk Road and one of the best times to visit is during the Canton Fair. 

People do arrive in this city for more than business though, and you will love sites like the Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family and the Bright Filial Piety Temple. At nighttime, the city is best experienced by a cruise along the Pearl River. 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong really heats up after the sun goes down, and the best place to see it all is from Victoria Peak where you can capture magnificent panoramic views of the city well above the sprawling high-rises, while also catching a glimpse of the laser light displays and fireworks. 

Kowloon and Lan Kwai Fong are the best places to head for a late-night meal and a night out on the town. 

Sanya

Sanya is not a traditional city in any way, and there are no fast-moving crowds to be found anywhere. Instead, you will find white sand that meets warm waters on the shoreline as well as people who want to spend their time either relaxing or out in the water. 

Jet skiing, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and swimming are the most popular water sports in Sanya, and you will find that there is always something fun and exciting to do. 

Shaxi

Located along the old Tea Horse Trail, what makes this city amazing is that it has been completely restored instead of rebuilt. 

The original walled town and the Old Town Market Square are definite must-see destinations while you are in Shaxi, and then you can head out towards the mountains for some fantastic hiking.     

Tibet

"Technically" a part of China, Tibet is like a totally different world.  

The attractions are breathtaking — three of the best places to visit in Tibet include the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street. 

*     *     *

If you choose to visit one of these ten cities in China and there are numerous local tours that you can take to explore them in-depth. Just like a Halong Bay tour in Vietnam, any of the tours that you find in China will include great information about the places that you are seeing, as well as give you the opportunity to meet many of the locals that live there. 

Meeting locals is the best way to experience and learn about not only a city but the culture and traditions as well. So, talk to as many locals as you can and listen to what they have to say. You will find that your time in China will be that much better because of it! 

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The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China
The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China

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Meet The Author

Jessica Watson has been writing for websites and blogs for four years now. Currently, she is the editorial manager at Bhaya Cruises who are offering best cruising services in Vietnam