Looking to travel back in time, or maybe into a fairy tale?
Edinburgh Castle from the Princes Street Gardens. I took this awesome photo myself.
Have a look at this very detailed list of the most beautiful palaces and castles in the world. I’ve been to a handful of them (and highly recommend Neuschwanstein Castle), but there are plenty here to add to my Must See list.
At the top of the list I’m adding Hunyad Castle in Transylvania. It’s very Hogwarts.
I wonder if Hunyad Castle is connected to the Floo network? (I did not take this awesome photo.)
As you’re wrapping you gifts and baking Christmas cookies this weekend, take a few minutes to see what Santa is up to.
The NORAD Santa Tracker shows you where Santa is and tracks his progress all around the world. There are also short videos that talk about different parts of the world and show Santa flying over famous landmarks.
The site could be a great way to keep your younger siblings out of your hair, but I think it’s just as fun for adults.
You don’t need an airplane to go all over the world and learn about people and places. You just need bbc.com. For proof, have a look at what they’re offering up today:
Travel isn’t about where you physically go, it’s about what you open yourself up to. And maybe not all of the BBC’s headlines are as exciting as this one, but reading up on current events, festivals, discoveries and, you know… cannibals, is one of the easiest ways to become worldly, even if your feet stay in your hometown.
So bookmark these sites and pay them daily or weekly visits to keep up your status as a world citizen:
Europlug! Safe for use in all European countries except Britain, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Ireland and Malta.
I’ve travelled all over the place, so you’d think I’d have this foreign plug thing down. But no.
I got to the UK last month, took out my adapter the first morning to use with my hair straightener, went to plug it into the wall, and then realized that I had an Australian adapter, not a British one.
Ugh. Off to Boots I went to buy a new one.
If you just need to charge a phone or camera battery or iPod then you might be able to get by with a USB charger that goes into your laptop… but you still have to plug your laptop in. So you need to know what the plugs look like around in the world, and which adapter you’ll need to take with you.
There are universal adapters you can buy with Swiss Army Knife style prongs that pop out or go back, turning it into the shape you need wherever you go. Those can be bulky though, and if you’re just going to one country it might be easier to have the one small adapter you need.
Or, you can travel old school, and not pack anything that requires electricity. It’s probably less stressful, and certainly lighter on your back.
If I have one regret from college, it’s that I didn’t do Semester at Sea. I’d heard of it, but didn’t know anyone who’d ever done it, and I didn’t really want to leave my friends for a semester.
My friends would have still been there when I got back, but I would have been that much more awesome for all the experiences I would have had.
So don’t leave any experience untried. Apply now to get on the Spring 2013 trip that departs in January and travel to:
And get college credit while you do it. And meet people from 200+ other universities around the world. And have an amazing time.
Also worth noting is that the January departure will launch a new program for Semester at Sea called “Unreasonable at Sea”. Unreasonable at Sea is “an international accelerator for tech entrepreneurs that will enable Semester at Sea students to study entrepreneurship while tackling the world’s most pressing issues with those who are actually doing the work. Participants will have the opportunity to sail, work, and learn from some of the world’s most renowned innovators and mentors.”
More than $4 million a year is given out in need-based and merit-based financial aid, so don’t assume you can’t afford it. Talk to your school’s study abroad office or contact Semester at Sea directly.
A couple of my friends have been celebrating Imaginary Travel Fridays on Facebook for a while now. They post a link to some spectacular place they’d love to go and have people comment on what they’d like to do there.
It’s time to start planning your 2012 travel adventures! To help get you started, here’s a list of some of the biggest, wildest events you can attend without breaking your student travel budget (and the tour companies who can help you get there).
St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland
I believe the locals would describe the parties that happen here on St. Patrick’s Day as fan-feckin-tastic. Get your Irish on and hoist a pint in Dublin. March 17, 2012 (Contiki, Shamrocker Irish Adventures)
Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
“Las Fallas” means “the fires”, and that’s what this festival is all about. Pyrotechnics fill the streets and skies along with musicians and huge statues called “ninots” which are set on fire at midnight on the last day of the festival. March 19, 2012. (Busabout)
Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival in Australia
Easter each year marks the annual Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival at Bells Beach. The prestigious event is the world’s longest running ASP World Tour contest and a huge event on Australia’s sporting calendar. April 3-15, 2012
ANZAC Day in Gallipoli, Turkey
Right, this one isn’t so much a wild party as a historical rememberance of the lives lost here, but the dawn vigil is sure to be a moving and memorable experience. April 25, 2012 (Contiki, G Adventures)
I'm sure the Queen is very touched by the enthusiasm of these young ladies.
Queen’s Day in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Put on your best orange everything and join this massive street party and celebration of the birthday of Queen Beatrix (whose birthday is actually in January, but who wants to have a street party in winter?). The Heineken Experience is right here and so are some priceless Van Goghs. Just don’t mix the two. April 30, 2012 (Busabout)
Inti Raymi Festival in Cuzco, Peru
Mark the beginning of the new Incan calendar with this festival of the sun. The locals celebrate their heritage with colorful costumes and music in a parade through the city, then hold a ceremony at local ruins. June 24, 2012 (G Adventures)
Calgary Stampede, Canada Ride ‘em, cowboy! Watch how the pros rope, ride and raise a little hell during this festival celebrating western heritage and values. July 6-15, 2012 (Contiki)
Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain
Around half a million people come each year either to try and outrun the deadly bulls or watch others do it. Are you a runner, or just someone who enjoys a show with their sangria? July 7-14, 2012 (Busabout, Contiki, G Adventures)
You'll never want to smell a tomato again.
La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain
Now *I* can say, “Been there, done that”, but what about you? Are ready for the biggest food fight of your life? Get your goggles and disposable cameras ready for a day of messy madness. August 29, 2012 (Busabout)
Fringe Festival & Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland
The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, bringing hundreds of performers to the city to put on plays, concerts, comedy shows and more. The Military Tattoo brings almost 1000 pipers, drummers, singers and dancers together to put together the biggest half-time show you’ve ever seen. (Please don’t tell them I called it that.) Put it all together and you have plenty of reasons to make the trip. August 3-27, 2012 (Contiki, Haggis Adventures)
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
Big pickles, big pretzels and even bigger beer steins are the reason to hit up Oktoberfest. There’s also music and dancing and plenty of locals to meet, making this event a student travel mecca. September 22 – October 7, 2012 (Busabout, Contiki, G Adventures)
Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico
If you want a trip with a slightly dark, ghoulish side to it then Oaxaca is the place to be when the Day of the Dead comes around. Visit cemeteries, admire the vibrant candy skulls and try not to be too terrified of the macabre costumes the locals put together. November 2, 2012 (G Adventures)
New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay in Edinburgh, Scotland
Watching the ball drop in Times Square is classic, but it’s not the best New Year’s party in the world. For the biggest, baddest, most pyrotechnic street party you’ll have to head to Edinburgh, Scotland for Hogmanay, a massive 4-day art, music and culture event that ends with an 80,000+ people street party that includes fireworks, live music and all kinds of craziness. December 31, 2012 (Haggis Adventures)
To start planning your trip, talk to a student travel expert at Travel CUTS. They can help you find a student airfare and sign you up for an ISIC, which will get you discounts wherever you go.
I always get the best extreme travel stories out of Australia. This time I caught an article about a group of Skyliners who travel the world to jump off skyscrapers, tightrope walk across oceans, and also parachute, base jump and do other insane things for fun.
A guy named Sebastian Montaz-Rosset is one of the pioneers of this new sport and he and his friends put together a film about their adventures called “I Believe I Can Fly.” Have a look at a clip from it here:
That made me dizzy.
What do you think? Is this something you’d want to try on your travels, or are you happier with your feet on the ground?