Three International Celebrations to Check Out this Fall

There is no better time to travel than fall. The cool weather makes it a perfect time to attend an outdoor celebration or festival. Fortunately, there are many attractive options to explore all around the globe. Here are three international celebrations you should check out.

1. Epcot Food & Wine Festival
Date: Ends November 23rd
Location: Orlando, Florida 

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is an 87 day long celebration of global cuisine. It’s hosted by Walt Disney World and features more than 30 marketplaces that hand out dishes and beverages from places all over the world. The festival pairs food with live music during their “Eat to the Beat” concert series and also offers multiple culinary demonstrations, seminars and presentations.
(For more detailed information on planning a trip to the Epcot Festival, click here.) 

2. Diwali (Festival of Lights)

Date: October 27-30, with the main celebration on October 27th
Location: India, Singapore and other southern countries of Asia

The Diwali Festival is an annual, traditional holiday that celebrates the victory of light (which symbolizes “good”) conquering darkness (or “evil”). Participants clean and decorate their homes and work spaces, and wear their finest clothes in reverence. Diyas (clay lamps) and candles are lit during nighttime, on the day of the new moon. Because this celebration takes place on the darkest day of the month, the display of lights and fireworks that illuminate the night create a breathtaking sight. The festivities sometimes include feasts (especially sweets), gift exchanges, and prayer offerings. Diwali is a cultural and spiritual festival in many faiths but is an official holiday in several countries and can be respectfully observed by those who wish to learn more. 
(For more information, click here.)  

3. Thai International Cultural Lantern Festival

Date: November 11-12
Location: Malin Park Chiang Mai

The Thai International Cultural Lantern Festival, also known as Loy Krathong, is the second largest in Thailand. It is celebrated by expressing optimism for the year by ushering in good luck through a special practice. The locals take boat-shaped banana leaves that are decorated with flowers, place a candle inside and send their bad luck floating away in the river. Under the light of the full moon, wearing costumes that are traditional to the region, participants have the chance to experience the beauty of this ceremonial lantern release. Malin Park also boasts; a performance stage where dancers will perform every 30 minutes, free local food, an art zone and a floating market with creative shops. To top off all the fun, Buddhist monks will be on site to lead chanting, meditation and prayer before the peaceful release of the lanterns. 
For more info on tickets, maps, highlights, and the schedule, click here.

From Florida to India, there are exciting ways to enjoy the fall season all around the world.  Experiencing new foods, learning about other cultures, and marveling at the bright lights are all ways to indulge in the festivities during this time of year. Start planning now so you don’t miss out!

Brad and Julie DuncanThree International Celebrations to Check Out this Fall
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5 Ways Traveling Can Help In Your Personal & Professional Growth

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
-Anonymous

People have a variety of options when it comes to fun and adventure. However, if your wish is to enjoy and learn at the same time, traveling is the way to go. Meeting new people and seeing new places open vast opportunities for lessons that can help you grow personally and professionally. You may not realize it at once but traveling changes you. As you explore unfamiliar territories, you may find your views on certain matters changing as well. In many ways, you can gain fresh perspectives and acquire new skills. The following are some ways on how travel brings about personal and professional improvements:

Personal Improvements.

  • Boosts self-esteem.
    Even with the planning and preparation, going somewhere new can still feel like an adventure into the unknown. You are technically leaving your comfort zone so It is normal to feel excited and nervous at the same time. As a traveler, you learn to cope with unexpected moments and even turn it to your advantage. The ability to deal with unavoidable travel woes increases your confidence to face any adversary that may come your way. 
  • Increases self-awareness.
    As Aristotle said, “ Knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Self-awareness is important because it allows you to fully understand your wants, needs, and limits. This means you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses that will help you set realistic goals and avoid mistakes. Knowing oneself will require time for reflection which you can get from traveling. The new scenery can also help you see yourself in a new light making it easier to understand yourself better.
  • Increases general knowledge.
    Traveling is like opening a treasure chest of knowledge. For people hungry for knowledge, every turn in your journey is a chance to learn something new. This is information that you cannot learn just from reading books or watching documentaries. You can learn a new language or be adept at a new skill. Bits of info and trivia you pick up during your escapades increase your general knowledge.

Professional Improvements

  • Improves communication and organizational skills.
    You may not give much thought on the way you communicate when you are in your hometown because people generally talk the same way. On the other hand, you may find yourself paying more attention to your speaking, listening, and comprehension skills when you are in a place where people speak a different language. As you go about from place to place, you also learn to be conscious of how you organize your time and things. Poor communication and organizational skills can jeopardize your vacation so you find ways to improve it. With better communicating and organizing techniques, you will certainly increase your value as a professional. 
  • Discover wonderful opportunities.
    Companies are always looking for fresh ideas, which can sometimes be hard to come by. It is especially difficult to think creatively if you stay in the same place day in and day out. Traveling, on the other hand, can make you discover new ventures and ideas. Who knows? You may see a product or system that is not yet available in your hometown. New things you see from traveling can help you come up with ideas that can be a hit back home.

Traveling may be considered an expensive and exhausting hobby but exploring different destinations give many benefits that make it all worth it. Make the most out of your travel experiences by welcoming changes that help you become a better person.

Brad and Julie Duncan5 Ways Traveling Can Help In Your Personal & Professional Growth
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Three Travel Tips to Take Better Pictures on Your Next Trip

We’ve all returned home from an amazing trip, looking forward to posting pictures on Facebook or Instagram, only to discover they aren’t “post-worthy.” No one wants to show off a dull sunset, scene-ruining photobombs, or wayward thumbs that accidentally find themselves in front of the camera’s lens. So how can you avoid these common mistakes? Here are three travel tips on how to take better pictures on your next vacation.

1. Maximize What You’ve Got

Most tourists travel light, bringing nothing more than their cell phones, and that’s perfectly fine. Many professional photographers are quick to admit that it’s not the camera, but technique that creates the best results. So if all you’ve got is your phone, don’t count yourself out.

  • Cell Phone Photography
    Start with the basics. We unintentionally smudge both the front and back lens through normal use of our phones. So before you take a picture, pause to wipe off your camera’s lens. Now that your lens in clean, it’s time to focus on your screen. Go into the camera app’s settings and turn on the grid feature to help you better frame your scene. Last, use the advanced features to your benefit. Modern smartphones are packed with photo features. Play around with your settings, or head over to YouTube for a tutorial on all your phone has to offer.  

2. Plan Ahead

The second way to become an enviable vacation photographer is to plan ahead. There are many factors that go into bringing your photos to life. Most can be controlled with a little planning. 

  • Time of Day
    First, consider your location of choice. Getting the perfect shot, in popular area, during peak visitation hours is extremely difficult. But if you show up early in the morning, or later at night, your chances of success increase exponentially. Also remember to be mindful of nature. Lighting is one of the biggest factors that play into how a photo turns out. If it’s too bright, the photo will be overexposed. If it’s too dark, you won’t be able to clearly see your subject. So before you plan your trip itinerary, make a list of the locations that you want to photograph and schedule your visits accordingly. 
  • Be Patient
    Even in the best of conditions, it may still come down to being patient (with yourself, your scenery and your camera). Sometimes you’ll need to take the same picture more than once, at different angles, in various light, after adjusting your camera settings multiple times. Don’t let the process deter you from getting your shot! Know that everyone has faced the same challenge and what matters most is the end result. If you get frustrated, take a deep breath, or pass your camera off to someone else for a while, but don’t give up! 

Upgrade

One of the most effective ways to take better vacation pictures is to make a few upgrades! 

  • Knowledge
    Upgrade your skills! Although things can get technical pretty quickly, investing a bit of time into mastering aperture, shutter speed and ISO can quickly improve your photography skills. Fortunately, there are many videos, articles and books that offer detailed explanations of each. Before your next trip, set aside time to study and practice so you’ll be ready to jump into action with no hesitation.
  • Equipment 
    The last, and most expensive step, is to upgrade your equipment. Cameras and lenses today are manufactured to conveniently accommodate the trickiest of conditions. Even the accompanying accessories can make all the difference in capturing impressive vacation pictures. If you are open to making a financial investment, it’s worth the effort to research tripods, DSLR and mirrorless cameras, lenses, and even editing software like Lightroom or Paintshop Pro

Pictures are a physical reminder of the memories we’ve created over the years. Having the ability to capture perfect photos with your loved ones is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Why not work on living up to your full vacation-photographer potential? Next time you are ready to plan some time away, remember these three photography tips to ensure you’ll return home with memories worth posting. 

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Travel Tips to Take Better Pictures on Your Next Trip
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Is Travel Insurance Necessary? 3 Things To Check When Buying One

With a multitude of things a traveler needs to prepare before a trip, it is often easy to forego purchasing insurance coverage. A national survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2013 shows that only 21% of the respondents reported buying travel insurance. The same study also reveals that 49% of people included in the study did not purchase travel insurance policy because they do not understand the importance of having one. The reason for its unpopularity is quite understandable. Traveling is already an expensive venture, making travel insurance an additional cost some might pass up on. On the other hand, the extra fee will offer the protection and security that you want for a more blissful vacation.

So one question that may start hanging over your head is: do you really need travel insurance?  

The importance of travel insurance cannot be undermined because you cannot entirely be certain of future events. Still, since the trip details such as length of travel and the number of travelers vary, travel insurance is likewise not necessary for every trip. One way to determine if it is a wise choice to buy travel insurance is by examining the cost of the policy and the financial risks you are taking by deciding to skip it. In general, the insurance cost will be equivalent to 5-10% of your total travel cost. 

This amount will save you worries from any unforeseen trip cancellations or missed flights. It will also cover your expenses for any unexpected accidents or illnesses you may encounter while on the road.  Being in a place where your existing health card is not valid increases the risk of you spending more on healthcare. Therefore, if you have health concerns and plan to stay overseas for a while, it is probably wiser to purchase insurance coverage. Meanwhile, if you purchase airfare at a budget rate and the flight schedule is in a few days, buying travel insurance may not be helpful since there is a low chance that you will cancel your flight. Many other scenarios can determine if you need or do not need travel insurance. Therefore, weigh the pros and cons depending on your own circumstances. Once you realize that getting insured is indeed the better option, the following reminders can help you get the most out of your coverage:

Read the terms. 

It is never wise to sign a document without reading what is written on it. The same is true in travel insurance. Therefore, allow some time to sit and read through all the terms written in your policy. You want to take note of the benefits you can get in cases such as accidents, illnesses, or flight delays and the conditions for availment. Aside from the inclusions, you also want to be on the lookout for things that are not covered by the policy. Do not hesitate to consult with the insurance company any inquiry you have or clarification you want. 

Be meticulous. 

Not all insurance providers are equal so a bit of research to check the background of the company will go a long way. Choose a provider that has a good reputation in terms of paying claims and providing assistance. You will gain insights into their services by reading testimonials or reviews from past clients. You can also check the services of several insurance companies so you can compare and assess which provider gives the best offer.

It pays to be prompt. 

You do not want to procrastinate if you want to enjoy the protection of travel insurance for a longer period of time. This is because some insurance policies get you covered for up to 2 months before your actual trip. So if your trip is finally confirmed, do not waste time by delaying your purchase to get protected as soon as possible. If you wait for something unexpected to happen before purchasing insurance, the company may have reasons to deny your request for reimbursement. Some insurance also offers a review period for a number of days so you can freely make changes to your trip or plans. 

Being a savvy traveler requires a lot of research, planning, and preparation. But as you start booking airfare and checking hotel rates, do not forget to give travel insurance some thought. It can be the key to your best vacation ever.

Brad and Julie DuncanIs Travel Insurance Necessary? 3 Things To Check When Buying One
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Quick Tips To Effectively Work While Traveling

For some people, traveling does not really signal a time-off from the daily grind. Instead, the opportunity to visit new places comes with career related tasks and responsibilities. Juggling traveling and working is not unusual nowadays, as technology has made it possible to have remote jobs too. The idea of not being confined to a physical office in order to grow a career feels empowering. At the same time, knowing you don’t have the full liberty of just lazing around while in a new destination can be a burden. So how do you balance your schedule and personal time so you get the most out of your trip and still excel at your work? Keeping the following tips in mind can help you experience the best of both worlds:

Complete pending tasks.
One of the best things you can do to make your work trip as stress-free as possible is to finish all uncompleted tasks prior to your trip. Save yourself the burden of having pending work hanging over your head while traveling. To enjoy a lighter workload while out and about, you may want to devote extra effort to finish the work you can do in advance. Without pending tasks in the way, you can easily lay out an effective work plan and schedule.

Pack-up with necessary tools and gadgets.
If you are serious about getting jobs done while on the road, you have to be ready with tools that will help accomplish your tasks. Make a list of gadgets and devices you will need and be sure to pack them all in your bag. Some of the essentials are mobile phones, laptops and chargers. You may also want to bring extra headphones, portable keyboards and flash drives. It also pays to research if the gadgets and tools you will bring will work in your destination (or the configuration steps you may need to do for it to work).  Those who are concerned about security and privacy and do not want to connect to public Wi-Fi can set up a virtual private network (VPN). You can also prevent unexpected laptop troubles by deleting unnecessary files.

Have a contingency plan.
The perennial goal is to have a smooth, productive trip but you are out on an adventure where anything can happen. For your peace of mind, it pays to have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong. It can be as simple as saving your files in a hard drive in case your laptop refuses to boot up. A hard drive copy of the contact details of people at home or in the workplace may also come in handy, in case your cell phone starts acting up. You may also want to read up some information about the local emergency contact numbers in your current destination.

Study your destination.
Every traveler knows the importance of doing some research before a trip. Gaining valuable information about your local destination is doubly important when you have official work to do as well.  You do not want bad weather conditions to ruin your trip, so check out the best time of the year to visit a place. Most probably, you will need a Wi-Fi connection and a working space, so make sure to inquire whether the place you plan to stay offer those amenities. Moreover, reading about travel tips and recommendations will give insights about the best places to go to

Make good use of travel time.
Travel time can be long and direct flights are not always possible. Make good use of stop-overs and other free time while traveling, by finding a good spot where you can plug in your devices and do some quick work. You need sufficient rest to function at your best, so you may also want to steal some sleep while in transit. With proper rest, you will be more than ready to tackle work once you arrive at your destination.

Today, it is possible and easier to earn money while exploring amazing places. Though this great privilege continues to be just a dream for many. If you are one of the few who are lucky enough to get paid while traveling, savor the great chance to quench your wanderlust and advance your career at the same time!  

Brad and Julie DuncanQuick Tips To Effectively Work While Traveling
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Travel Like a Millennial

Travel has changed. With the increase of technology and a shift in financial habits, the annual summer vacation of time’s past has been replaced. As millennials entered adulthood they rocked the travel industry with their rebellious nature and demand for new options. They slowly changed what it meant to vacation by ditching the kinds of trips that filled their childhood scrapbooks. While there is no right or wrong way to vacation, there are stark contrasts between traditional and modern travel behavior. Here are three ways to travel like a millennial.

Frequent

The newest generation of young adults travels frequently. Just a few decades ago, many travelers planned annual vacations that centered around time-off from school. Holidays, winter, spring and summer breaks have long been the go-to times to explore the world. In recent years, ‘home state explorations’, day trips and staycations have seen an uptick in popularity. Millennials prefer to save money by taking smaller, shorter trips. Doing so also allows them to travel more freely. Without an extensive travel budget to save for or the need to book far in advance, it’s much easier to partake in last minute adventures or even travel when funds are low.  

Travel Companions

Traditionally, vacations were a family event. But with many of today’s young people deciding to marry and have children later in life than their parents, the tide has changed. While millennials do still value traveling with family, they are more willing than past generations to travel alone or with good friends. Friend groups from all walks of life reconnect through annual girls trips, jet out-of-state to celebrate upcoming nuptials or even to meet up with friends they’ve made online. If their friends lack the time or funds, millennials are willing to venture out alone. According to SoloTraveler’s statistics, 96% of people aged 25-34 are likely to travel independently. With overwhelming data like that it’s easy to see why traveling trends have headed in a new direction.

App Dependent

In 2008, technology tycoon Apple launched its App Store to accompany its latest iPhone, changing the world as we knew it. Like almost every other aspect of life, apps quickly began to affect travel. To start, instead of needing to hire a travel agent or pour hours into researching the perfect vacation package, travelers gained the ability to book trips directly from their phones. The introduction of apps also ushered in the popularity of social media. Many millennials spend a significant amount of time scrolling through feeds that are filled with their friends’ and family’s vacation pictures, sparking their desire to take a similar trip of their own. Lastly, apps opened the door to ride sharing services, review sites and coupon applications that make both planning and enjoying vacations (nearly) effortless. Today, travel and technology go hand-in-hand.

It’s no secret that millennials are known for their departure from tradition. They travel alone, use their phones to hunt down deals and are passionate about exploring without restrictions. They love being on the go and documenting every second of their adventures. Millennials have carved their own lane into the travel world and the industry has taken note. Before setting off on your next trip, keep these three millennial travel trends in mind. You just may discover that doing things differently isn’t a bad thing.

Brad and Julie DuncanTravel Like a Millennial
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Afraid Of Jet Lag? 4 Tips To Avoid This Travel Worry

Ever had to fly across multiple time zones? Traveling to a place that will require you to reset your clock calendar sounds exciting. But  for many people, it means having to deal with jet lag. Experienced travelers understand how uncomfortable it feels. Suddenly your body’s clock is not in sync with the local timezone. You either want to sleep when the sun is rising or are craving a full meal during ungodly hours of the night.

Jet lag, a momentary disruption of your body clock, is one of the not-so-pleasant side effects of traveling to a different time zone. It is commonly associated with long overseas flights but the phenomena is not exclusive to plane rides. Anyone who travels great distances, even if not by air, can experienced jet lag. Sometimes you don’t even have to cross time zones. A shift in weather or climate can also cause you to experience symptoms of jet lag. Don’t let jet lag discourage you from traveling or allow it to make your trip less enjoyable. Here are four tips that can help you avoid the downsides of jet lag.

Prepare early.

If you follow a strict routine, you may want to adjust your schedule for a few days before the trip. You can set your clock to the time zone of your destination and try to go over your day with this schedule in mind. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to do this drastically. Be sure to gradually adjust your sleeping and eating schedules closer to the timezone of the destination you are visiting. With this practice, your body will have an easier time coping with the changes in timezone.

Check your flight schedule.

Your flight schedule and estimated time of arrival are also factors to consider when booking plane tickets. Traveling to your destination during your usual bed time? Then it is a perfect time to catch up on some much-needed snooze during the flight. It will also be helpful if you choose a flight that will allow you to arrive at your destination during the day rather than at night. Arriving when the sun is out will allow you to take in the sights and inspire you to explore the place right away. The energy of the day will help you shake the jet lag blues out of your system faster.  

Adjust to the new schedule.

Sometimes, traveling means attending an important event that will require you to be at your best. Whether it is for business or a family event like a wedding, in order to make sure you won’t be suffering from jet lag, you may want to arrive a day or two earlier than your special event. This simple tweak in your schedule will give your body time to adjust. If you are not in a rush, it can also be a good idea to choose a flight that has a stop. Direct flights may allow you to reach your destination faster, but staying a few hours in an area where the time zone is the same or closer to where you are going will help get your body in tune with your new schedule. When you reach your destination, start matching your routines to the new time zone right away. This may mean holding off on naps or meal times.

Hop on the plane well-rested.

Most of the time, it all boils down to taking good care of yourself. Beating jet lag requires a sound mind and strong body. If you maintain good health and don’t exhaust yourself, your body is in a much better position to combat anything. Make sure you get enough rest the day before your trip. Traveling can be stressful on its own, so minimize it by making sure that everything is prepared and organized a few days before your flight. Your comfort should also be a top priority, so dress in appropriate travel attire. It is also important to stay hydrated throughout your trip. When you are on long flights, you’re bound to experience dehydration. Bringing a water bottle that you can refill at the airport or on the plane will be helpful.

People who love to travel should be ready to cope with all the quirks that come with it. Luckily most of them, like jet lag, can easily be avoided with a few tips and tricks! So don’t allow travel woes to dim your passion for visiting and exploring faraway places. Follow the above four tips to minimize the effects of jet lag while you travel.

Brad and Julie DuncanAfraid Of Jet Lag? 4 Tips To Avoid This Travel Worry
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Three Ways to Travel Respectfully

Travel is a luxury that brings great joy. Setting foot on unexplored land can create unmatched feelings of wonder and excitement. Learning about new cultures, people and environments is a life changing experience for those who travel. But that exchange of knowledge is best accomplished when done respectfully. Local residents and native lands should be observed with the utmost care. Here are three ways to travel respectfully.

Do Your Research

Before the wheels of your plane ever touchdown on the runway, you should first learn all you can about your destination of choice. Study the people, the terrain and the cultural differences. If you are visiting a foreign country where most residents speak a language unfamiliar to you, study it. Learn common phrases to help you communicate greetings, directions, travel questions, and niceties. Check the weather and make adjustments to your packing list with climate in mind. The goal of researching and preparing in advance is to lighten the burden on your fellow travel companions, the residents of your destination and the environment. Asking questions will always be a great way to seek information. However, people are much more open to offering assistance to those who’ve put in at least a little effort to assimilate. Instead of expecting everyone to do the heavy lifting of keeping you informed and safe, take the initiative by coming prepared.

Follow the Rules

When researching your destination, you most likely will encounter a few do’s and don’ts. As tempting as it is to downgrade hard-and-fast rules to mere suggestions, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Many places around the world have both implied rules, as well as outline laws that prohibit certain actions. As a guest, it’s your job to adhere to both. If signs say to stay on the marked path, do so. If the local custom is to leave nature untouched, keep your hands to yourself. As simple as this sounds, many tourists still behave as if they are allowed to discard whichever rules don’t fit their desires. Don’t be that traveler. Lastly, remember to give the same level of courtesy you’d give at home. Ask for permission before taking pictures of strangers, don’t stand too closely to others and mind your p’s and q’s.  

Respect the Environment

Protecting the environment, the last tip of traveling respectfully, often goes overlooked. Understandably, some people struggle with this concept abroad because they struggle with it at home as well. As global citizens, it’s our job to honor and nurture the planet we call home. Each of us is responsible for taking care of our little corner of the globe. However, as travelers, that responsibility follows us wherever we go. Whether lounging on the beach, exploring the backroads, or hiking the peaks, we must be mindful. Be considerate about the amount of water, electricity and other raw and natural resources you consume. Tread lightly, limit your contribution to air, noise and water pollution and remember not to litter. Do your best to leave your destination in a better state than you found it – if that’s not possible, leave no footprint at all.

(For more information on environmental impacts, click here)

The rule of respectful travel is to be on your absolute best behavior. Be a worthy representative of your hometown and leave the locals feeling happy you visited. Think of the impression you leave as the determining factor of whether tourist like yourself should continue to be welcomed with open arms. Use the three travel tips above to exercise humility and gratitude. Set an example for other visitors by being the gold standard of respect.

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Ways to Travel Respectfully
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Love Traveling? Protect Your Health While Quenching Your Wanderlust

You travel to see new sights and experience unique things. Exploring unfamiliar places will enrich your mind and nourish your soul. This activity, though, will require you to be in the pinnacle of health. You need energy and stamina to be an adventurous and smart traveler. Ironically, traveling exposes you to situations that increases your chance of catching a disease. With viruses and germs everywhere it is easy to be paranoid about all sorts of sickness you can get.

Still, fear of getting sick should not stop you from satisfying your wanderlust. Instead of abandoning your travel plans altogether, you can observe some simple precautions to stay healthy while on the road. Check out some tips below to ensure you do not taint your travel memories and experiences with the unpleasant feeling of getting ill.

Stock up on liquids.

It is such a hassle to go thirsty while traveling. This is because your body needs an adequate amount of liquids to function at its best. So ensure that you are well hydrated while roaming around. You can avoid dehydration by packing a water bottle everywhere you go.

Protect your skin.

Outdoor time is good for your health as you can breathe in fresh air, soak in warm sunlight and feast on stunning sceneries. Just make sure you are not jeopardizing your health in the process. Harsh rays of the sun can cause skin cancer and damage, so always apply sunscreen before heading outdoors. Choose a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 and apply as needed.

Take supplements.

A strong immune system will give your body the power to fight off all kinds of diseases. Of course, you need proper diet, regular exercise and enough rest to make your body stronger and healthier. You can further boost your body’s defenses by taking vitamins. Because you need to be extra healthy while traveling, make sure to pack your supplements before traveling.

Pack necessary medicines.

Traveling is an adventure so it is better to be prepared for any unexpected situations that you may encounter. It is a wise practice to pack medicines for common travel woes such as nausea, headaches or fever. You should also have a first-aid kit in your bag. To ensure you are fit to travel, you may want to visit a doctor (especially if you are going somewhere very far and for a long period of time) for a physical checkup before your trip.

Keep germs at bay.

As you visit various places, you will likely get dirty as well. Since cleanliness is a prerequisite to good health, strive to stay clean even while traveling. It won’t be a huge challenge as you can conveniently bring hand sanitizer or wipes. Wash your hands before eating a meal, too.

Keep your healthy routines.

Even if travel means a break from your usual routines, it is worth it to maintain daily activities that keep you healthy. Your body will thank you if you allot time for exercise and eat in moderation, even if you are not in the comfort of your home. Likewise, you should ensure that you get enough sleep. It is also a great idea to engage in healthy activities while traveling such as walking, running or biking.

Travel allows you to have fun and relax, but you should not sacrifice your health for it. If you follow the suggestions above, you will come back from your travel escapades stronger and healthier than ever.

Brad and Julie DuncanLove Traveling? Protect Your Health While Quenching Your Wanderlust
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How to Plan a Bucket List Vacation During the New Year

So the holidays are over and the new year has begun. Getting back into the swing of things can be tough but time tends to pass more quickly when you have something to look forward to. Vacation provides a mental escape that helps many of us survive the year. Why not start planning now? Here’s how.

Find Inspiration

Seeking inspiration is the first step. At this stage, brainstorming is the mission. There are no right and wrong locations and budget is not of concern – yet. Use any and all resources to your advantage. Pinterest, friend’s vacation photos, articles, travel magazines, family anecdotes, travel groups/forums, movies or books – leave no stone unturned. Once you’ve combed through enough options, you should end up with a pretty decent list of dream vacations. Your vacation list should range from big to small, local to international and expensive to easily affordable. You want variety so that once the time comes, you can find a trip to meet your needs, no matter the scenario.

Budget

The next step is to consider budget. When planning a vacation, you’ll need to make financial accommodations for transportation, food, entertainment, souvenirs and housing. Because all of those factors vary based on location, you’ll need to start by figuring out how much money you’d like to allocate toward travel this year, then work backwards. Once you’ve established a budget, then you’ll be able to narrow your brainstormed vacation list to the ones that fit within your budget.

Details

Now let’s talk details. Vacations are composed of a million small decisions that come together to form one harmonious result. However, a few details are more important than others. Answer the following questions:

  • How much vacation time do you want to dedicate to travel this year?
  • Do you want to go alone or with someone else?
  • Are there any special events you are trying to attend?
  • What’s most important when deciding where to stay?
  • Do you need to rent a car or will public transportation work?

Research Regional Specifics

You have a budget, a location and you’ve covered the minor details. Now you need to look deeper into the destination you chose. Is there anything you should spend time working on to make your trip more enjoyable? If you are traveling to a foreign country, you may want to start learning conversational phrases that will help you get around. Do you need to apply for your passport? Do you need to learn about money conversion or stock up on universal outlets? Are there customary norms that you need to familiarize yourself with? Learn all that you can about your destination of choice and start preparing.

Save Money

The last step of making your vacation a reality is finding the funds to do so. Ideally, we would all have enough cash on hand to pay for our vacation without needing to do any extra work. But for larger vacations, that’s not always realistic. There are many ways to go about saving, but no matter the method, starting as early as possible makes a world of difference. Once you start, remember to be disciplined by refusing to remove money from the vacation fund. If you meet your goal early, keep saving and use the extra money for upgrades or for your next trip.

Traveling enhances both your world view and life enjoyment. The vacation of your dreams is just around the corner. Even “once in a lifetime” vacations are possible with proper planning. Follow the steps outlined above and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Brad and Julie DuncanHow to Plan a Bucket List Vacation During the New Year
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