Book Review: No Longer A Slumdog + Free Book Giveaway

There are books that educate, entertain or make you want to travel, then there are others that pull some heart-strings, make you emotional and you just can’t wait to take inspired action right from the first pages.

Christian Book, No Longer a Slumdog, Book, book cover, GFA, Gospel for Asia, book lovers

Such is the case of No Longer a Slum dog: Bringing Hope to Children in Crisis written by K.P. Yohannan, the founder of GFA (Gospel of Asia) Bridge of Hope, a Christian organization that helps children in impoverished areas by providing them quality education, medical care, a daily meal and the chance to be sponsored.

The book is a collection of gripping, real-life stories of children who were left to their own devices by their parents who did not have the means to feed or educate them.

These testimonies allow you to take a look at their daily lives, difficult circumstances, struggles and how finding GFA changed their lives FOREVER.

Their triumph over adversities is just remarkable but what is truly inspiring is how they changed their beliefs and found comfort as well as strength in the Gospel.

One of the most moving narratives is the following. Trust me there was not a dry eye after reading it:

This is a story of two sisters who got onboard a train with their mother and they thought they were going to go visit some relatives. However their lives were about to change when they least expected it:

“You girls stay here. I’m going to get something to drink.” But after a few minutes, the train started moving again, and Mom still wasn’t back! Our hearts were racing. The train kept going faster and faster. Where was Mom? 

These two young souls were abandoned by the person who was supposed to teach them everything they needed in order to live, love and become the women who would go further than anyone else in their family ever did.  Sadly, they had to face the world alone.

Fortunately, someone found them and took them to a GFA center where they were very well looked after and did not have to be out on the streets like many million other children do on a daily basis.

It is unbelievable that in a country, such as India, a large number of persons are discriminated because of their “position” in society. That alone determines the treatment they will get by anyone they come across.

No one should be going through this, especially children as they are the future of any nation. We were all created in the image of God and he has specific plans for our lives. No one has the right to put anyone down and treat them as if they are animals and unworthy. Now that I believe is a crime and should not be allowed. Where is the government in all of this? Right, they favor corporations and their own interests instead of the one who need help the most!

It is great to know and see that there are still good-hearted people who care and are willing to do whatever it takes to improve the lives of others. This is where GFA comes to the rescue.

Become a witness of the next wave of transformation that is currently taking place and help share these stories with anyone you know! Feel free to contribute to such a great cause and why not sponsor a child or two?

 

GIVEWAY

Would you like to receive a FREE copy of No Longer a Slum Dog?

Christian Book, No Longer a Slumdog, Book, book cover, GFA, Gospel for Asia, book lovers

It is very simple. You can receive the book directly by going to the GFA website, enter your information and help them spread the message of what the organization does! Best of all? Even the shipping is free! So feel free to share with everyone :)

 

About the author:

KP Yohannan, author, Christian Book author, No Longer a Slumdog, Book, book cover, GFA, Gospel for Asia

Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder and international director for Gospel of Asia, has authored more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missionsan international bestseller with more than 3 million copies in print. He is on the board of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and his Road to Reality radio program airs on more than 900 stations worldwide. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.

 

S O C I A L   C O R N E R

 

Official WEBSITE

Official FACEBOOK

Official TWITTER

 

K.P. Yohannan’s FACEBOOK

K.P. Yohannan’s TWITTER

Official Hashtag #NoLongerASlumdog

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to review this book but was provided with a free copy. As usual opinions are my own and always be. I will always give my two cents on any topic, oh I sure do!

Where to go camping on Elba Island, Italy

Elba, Elba Island, Tuscany, Italy, Fetovaia Beach, beach, nature, outdoors, spiaggia, travel, photography

Fetovaia Beach Photo Credit: Italia.it

Are you planning to visit Italy and you are passionate about nature and sea? What about camping in Elba Island, one of the most beautiful Italian islands located in the Tuscan archipelago?

To help you out I just wrote a brief list of the best campsites of this beautiful island.

Camping Scaglieri Village:

Golfo della Biodola, Elba, Tuscany, Toscana, Italy, Italia, photography, travel

Golfo della Biodola Photo credit: Oleg Brovko

Located in Portoferraio, the principal harbor of the island, this camping village overlooks the beautiful bay of Golfo della Biodola, characterized by its typical Mediterranean scrub on the homonymous village. Here you can find different accommodation solutions such as a well equipped camping, but also cottages, chalets de luxe, apartments for those who love to be spoiled during their vacations. The camping gives access to the beautiful beach of Golfo della Bidola, which provides surfing, diving, canoeing services.

Camping Lacona:

Between Portoferraio

Elba, Toscana, Tuscany, Italy, Italia, spiaggia, Enfola, Beach, travel, photography

Enfola Beach Photo credit: Michael Joachim Lucke

and Porto Azzurro,

Porto Azzuro, Elba, Toscana, Tuscany, Italia, Italy, port, travel, photography

Porto Azzuro Photo Credit: Palatinator

this campsite is only 100 meters away from the beach. The whole surface of the campsite is overshadowed by characteristic maritime pines, eucalyptus and other species typical of the Mediterranean scrub. This campsite is particularly suitable for those who travel with kids: during July and August there are intense entertainment activities (sports, baby-club, shows, etc.).

Elbadoc Camping Village:

on the north-eastern side of the Island, near the bay of Rio Marina, this camping village, is characterized by a lush nature that surrounds it. This place is ideal for those who want to stay in a very intimate space and find some peace and relax from the everyday life. It also provide space for caravans and beautiful wooden bungalows for those who need more comfort.

Camping in Casa dei Prati:

In Capoliveri, this camping village overlooks the enchanting Gulf of Lacona. It provides its visitors with all services and facilities: playgrounds for kids, gym, pools, soccer and volleyball fields, and much more. Ideal for those who love sports.

Camping Arrighi:

Located in Porto Azzurro, this family run camping village is only a few meters away from the beautiful beach of Barbarossa. It opens from April to November and provides large spaces for tents and caravans and free access to electricity. Inside the campsite there is also a superb restaurant which will delight visitors with its home-made pizzas.

Stella Mare:

Immerse in an untouched nature, this campsite is located directly on the beach of Capo di Stella, Laconia. This location combines safe sandy beaches, suitable for kids, to little rocky hidden bays for those who prefer a little bit of adventure. The village of Laconia provides also many facilities for water sports such as scuba diving, kitesurf, etc.

La Foce:

Located on the Gulf of Marina di Campo, this campsite is ideal for relaxing holidays since it is surrounded  by the beautiful natural park of Marina di Campo. It has more 100 pitches for tents and also maxi-caravans for 4/5 people with view on the crystal sea, veranda and air conditioning.

How to get there:

To reach Elba Island you need to take a ferry from the town of Piombino to Portoferraio, Cavo or Rio Marina. It will only take around 30-40 minutes.

Sunset, Elba, Toscana, Tuscany, Italy, Italia, tramonto, travel, photography

Sunset in Elba Photo Credit: Adryali

Follow me on:

Twitter: @piccolaviaggiat

Author bio:

Clara, 27, Italian, from Rome, has a degree in Translation studies and she loves travelling since she was a child. With her parents she visited Greece, Germany, Austria, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, then as a bit grown up she started travelling on her own, she lived in France, Belgium, Canada. Next step: a tour of the US.

Blogger Spotlight on: Randall from Camino My Way

Hello everyone,

Welcome to a brand new edition of Blogger Spotlight On!

I am very happy to introduce you to this month’s guest, Canadian writer and fellow traveler Randall St. Germain also known as @CaminoMyWay on Twitter.

Eagle Bluffs, British Columbia, Randall St Germain, Camino de Santiago in 20 days, Canada, photography

He is the author of Camino De Santiago in 20 Days which recounts his journey on the 800 kilometer French Way across the north of Spain.

Randall blogs at CaminoMyWay.com, enjoys nature and loves walking long distances :)

Let’s get to know him better shall we?

 

How old when you first traveled and where did you go?

I first remember traveling home from the hospital as a newborn baby. It was a bumpy ride and I couldn’t tell if the road had potholes or my Dad’s ’67 Chevy needed new shocks. My memory kind of goes blank until about the age of 5 when I remember taking family road trips around Western Canada and the United States. Visiting the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park were among my earliest memories. I love the beauty of the mountains and nature, and I thank my parents for taking me to these places at an early age.

 

Do you prefer to travel solo or with someone?

I don’t like traveling alone as a tourist. I prefer to share the experience with someone special. Plus, I enjoy having someone to cuddle with at night. However, if it’s long distance walking such as the Camino de Santiago, I prefer to go my own pace. If I knew someone who I was compatible with, it could work out. Otherwise, it’s easy to get exhausted or even injured if you’re walking at someone else’s pace, especially if they’re faster than you. There are always people to meet along Camino so you don’t get too lonely.

Diner, Carcassone, Randall St Germain, Camino de Santiago in 20 days, travel, Spain, Photography

 

Tell us about your book “Camino de Santiago In 20 Days”. Who inspired you to go there and when did you go?

Camino de Santiago in 20 days, Book, Randall St Germain, Amazon

I didn’t know much about the Camino prior to going. I had watched the film, Belle Époque, many years ago and remember the scenes of the Spanish countryside very well. I enjoy long walks and discovering new places. At 800 kilometers, the Camino seemed like the ultimate long walk. When my Mom was very sick, we discussed it, and she told me to go. After she passed away, I walked in her memory.

My book recounts my 20 day journey on the 800 kilometer Camino Francés from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. According to my reviews and emails, it’s not a journey or a book for everyone. I set to write honestly of my thoughts and observations without embellishments. It’s easy to create a whole lot of drama while writing, but one of the positive aspects about the Camino is the lack of drama. I like to say Camino de Santiago In 20 Days is a book about really walking the Camino.

 

Do you have a funny story from your travels to share?

Ventosa, Spain, Randall St Germain, Camino de Santiago in 20 days, travel, photography

This was a failed rain gear experiment on a cold, rainy Spring day in La Rioja, a few days into my Camino. Need I say more?

Of course you meet all kinds of characters on the Camino. For various reasons, about midway through the Camino del Norte, there are many less pilgrims than who started. I was happy for any company. One afternoon, I saw a man behind me and since I was languishing, he caught up easily. All he could talk about was that my backpack was too big and I would be lucky to finish. Now this pilgrim had only been walking for a few days whereas I was on the del Norte for 2 weeks. My backpack was on the large size so he was right, but it was about the same as I had on the Camino Francés. After a few minutes, I could tell I was holding him back so I said to go ahead. At that moment, I realized he was carrying a purple, pink and white day pack, one that would be used more likely by a teenaged girl and not some 40-year-old guy.

 

Going on the Camino is not easy and is not for everyone, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of going there?

Some people say that everyone needs to walk the Camino. I don’t believe that is true. Going away for a long period, walking for many hours every day through aches and all kinds of weather, and staying in accommodations that aren’t really even one star is not for everyone. It pushes past the outer limits of the comfort zone for many of us. However, I believe that’s a good challenge and makes you a stronger person.

Being in shape to walk the Camino is important, of course. Since I live in Vancouver, some of my training is hiking in the mountains that are more difficult than any track on the Camino. I also include rolling terrain which is a mix between paths and pavement, similar to what you find on the Camino. Make sure you have good walking shoes that have tread for trails and pavement as a good part of the Camino is along hard surfaces. Pack light but be comfortable. I have a section in my book with how I prepared (shameless plug).

In these days of smart phones, GPS devices, apps, Google Streetview, a multitude of guidebooks, one has a tendency to over plan their Camino, in the sense that they already know what’s ahead of them. I believe you should discover the Camino for yourself. There is nothing like seeing a beautiful church or bridge for the first time with your own eyes. A good map, accommodation guide, and elevation profile are important to carry. I do like to know what’s ahead of me in terms of distance between towns and villages, elevation changes, and if it’s late in the day, upcoming accommodations and number of rooms or beds. On my last Camino, instead of carrying a guidebook, I photocopied only the information I needed and discarded pages as I went.

I will say that once you arrive at the plaza in front of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral after walking so far and for so long, it’s a feeling of exuberance like none other. If you have walked with the memory of someone, the feeling is even greater. I believe most pilgrims miss the Camino life when they arrive home.

 

What do you love most about traveling, what does it do to you?

First of all, I don’t like the days before leaving on a big trip. I usually have so much going on, it’s difficult and stressful to get away. Once I get to the airport and check in, I can breathe and start to enjoy myself. Traveling opens up my mind to new cultures and experiences. I love to be inspired and traveling makes me feel great to be alive.

Santiago de Compostela, Cathedral, Spain, Randall St Germain, Camino de Santiago in 20 days, Canada, photography

What are your travel plans for the future?

As for walking, I have a bigger Camino in Spain, the 1,200 kilometer Via de la Plata which includes the route from the ancient seaside town of Cádiz through Seville and on to Santiago de Compostela. I thought the Camino del Norte was long and difficult at 850 kilometers, so this seems almost impossible, especially at my ancient age.

As for being a tourist, I would love to return to France and explore. I have seen so little of the country I love! Really, to travel all around Europe would be great. I also have a strong desire to climb Mount Fuji, Mount Kilimanjaro, and see the high Arctic. I could go on…

 

Tell us about your blog and what can we, as readers, find?

My blog is Camino My Way and I take the reader along on my journeys as well as the journeys of others. I like to show the actual scenes and you luckily won’t find me in many of the photos. Nothing too controversial or news worthy. If you don’t like flowers, nature, ancient landmarks, Spanish countryside, mountains, ducks, Marmots, Snowy Owls, or Leonardo da Vinci, I wouldn’t bother visiting.

 

As an experienced world traveler and writer, are there any tips or a piece of advice you would like to share with us?

I don’t know about being an experienced world traveler but I think I can travel best when I don’t have any baggage or worries from my home life. If there is something constantly concerning, then the trip won’t be as pleasant. Regarding the Camino, take advice from others, but you really need to find your own way.

 

How can we contact or follow you online?

Please visit my blog http://www.caminomyway.com. I really like comments :)

My book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0987709003

 

Follow me on the following social media channels:

Google Plus : https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RandallStGermain

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/CaminoDeSantiagoBook

https://www.facebook.com/CaminoMyWay

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/CaminoMyWay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/caminomyway/

 

It was a so much fun learning more about you Randall!

We thank you so much for your time and we wish you lots of success.

Many Happy Travels!

Until next time!

All the best,

Kay :)

Reader’s Q & A: Is it safe to travel to El Salvador

Welcome to a brand new edition of Reader’s Q & A!

I am very fortunate and grateful to receive many messages on a daily basis from my readers from around the world via Direct Message either on Twitter, Facebook or email (travellersoul76@gmail.com).

This has been going on for the past 4 years and all I can say is THANK YOU, keep the mail coming :) I sincerely love reading from you and it really surprises me to find out how far my blog posts are read which totally motivates me to keep going!

Now just a few days ago I received one that made me smile and flattered me since it is something I believe it deserves an answer that is much more than 140 characters or a few paragraphs in a separate email.

You know me, I just LOVE writing. The blog is just the tip of the iceberg, I could write on and on but since attention span on the net is short, so I just decided to be as brief as possible.

Here is the Reader’s Question (Actual email and published with permission).

Hola Karla,

I came across your blog while doing travel research on El Salvador. I’m currently traveling in Mexico with the hopes to venture south through Central America. I’m also Salvadoran, my father was born and raised there but has lived in the United States for the past 35+ years. I very much want to visit the country and learn about my roots and the culture.

My concern is the safety, as there are many mixed messages in the media. I am traveling with another female and a small dog in a truck camper. I am also fluent in Spanish.

I see that you have traveled quite a bit in El Salvador and wanted to get your opinion on its safety, particularly driving through the country. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Gracias,

Magdalena

 

My Answer:

Dear Magdalena,

I would like to say gracias, thank you so much for taking the time to write me from the road and I am honored to be considered as a valuable source of information :)

First of all I wanted to give you a virtual *high 5* for being bold and travel around Mexico! You are very courageous and I am sure you must have experienced awesome Mexican hospitality and admired the beauty of the Aztec country!

It makes me very happy to learn that you also have some Salvadoran roots! I understand your concerns about safety, especially as a young woman. Worry not. Let me share with you why I would still advise you to go to the smallest country in Central America.

As you are very well aware, there are so many insecure places around the world. Particularly where you are right now, Mexico and Central America. Necessity makes people do the unthinkable and unfortunately that makes the rest of the population live in fear or be on their guard, all the time! It is pretty sad but this is reality. This however does not stop the world from turning and you simply have to keep pressing forward and live life because there is only one and you must live it to the max. Trust me on that.

I traveled to El Salvador for the first time, all by myself when I was 15 and I worked very hard for it (as well as for any other trip I’ve ever taken since then!).

To be honest with you, that was one of the best things I’ve EVER done! Being disciplined and fearless is something I am now quite grateful.

I always knew that being a young female would be a bit more difficult but before leaving I did get in touch with immediate family members who offered to show me around which they did.

Now being the restless and curious individual I am, I did not stay still for long. I asked them to rent a van so that my cousins and I could get to different places I always wanted to visit such as San Andrés Ruins, Beaches on La Costa del Sol, Volcán de Izalco, pristine Coatepeque Lake etc.

The natural beauty, friendly locals at destination, the FOOD, music and just that sense of freedom have kept me going back for more, much more!

In fact I have been back at least 6 times since then and the past 2 have been quite memorable since I got to explore more of the country with my parents (they know that I am the rebel child, the adventurous soul of the family and discovering some corners of their native country for the first time was just priceless. Yes I am a bad kid ;)

 

Here are some tips for your next trip

 

  • In spite of all the negative news you see on TV and people talking negatively about it, take the necessary precautions before you go. Again, I may sound like a broken record (and highly recommend it to travelers) here when I say, BUY INSURANCE, whether personal or material. It immediately covers you from anything that you may need for the time you will be in the country. Don’t take any chances, it’s better to have a policy than not having one and need it.
  • You are going to explore the country and you will face all different kinds of people on the road. It can be quite a wild ride but if you go with the flow you should be fine. Make sure you travel on main roads, highways and don’t venture out in small roads.  If possible don’t carry anything that has a lot of value. It is better if you leave it where you will be staying and if there is closed parking or a guard on duty, even better. I traveled for a month with family, friends and a private driver. Fortunately nothing happened as the vehicle was insured and there was nothing to take anyway. I always go with a strong conviction that we are protected and everything goes very well. A positive mindset is very important. What you think you attract on to you, or so is my belief!

 

  • Create a plan or trace an itinerary of all the places you would like to visit. If you say you are entering the country from the Guatemalan border, then you can go from East to West, but there is so much to see and do that it’d be helpful to pin point all the places according to their location.
San Sebastian, El Salvador, Central America, map, mapa

General map of El Salvador. I use Google to calculate distance and time.

  • My strategy is the following: I take a map and I look for the town that is the furthest away from my home base (which is normally the capital, San Salvador). Then I look up for accommodations as you want to stay overnight and not be out on the road late at night (again for security reasons)

 

  • Go and explore!

The Ministry of Tourism has created several routes across the country depending of your interests. Here are some I have visited and are totally worth exploring:

 

Archeology Route

Tazumal, El Salvador, Chalchuapa, Archeology, Central America, Mayas

Main pyramid at El Tazumal Archeology Site

In case you want to learn more about Mayan culture, this is one of most stunning sacred sites I’ve visited. There are others nearby, including Joya de Cerén which is a Unesco World Heritage site.

 

Artisanal Route

painting, art, La Palma, El Salvador, ES impressive, travel, photography, TS76

Colorful painting

If you want to visit the art center of the country, then you must visit the colorful and vibrant town of La Palma which is very close to the Honduran border. It is such a delight for the eyes, heart and soul. Want to paint your own souvenirs to bring back home? Stop by a taller or workshop where you will be able to do so :)

 

Beach Route

Playa Las Flores, San Miguel, El Salvador, Centro America, Central America, Beach, Playa, Life's a beach, la vida es mejor en la playa

Playa Las Flores in San Miguel

El Salvador is blessed with the Pacific Coast and you will find incredible black sand, golden sand and even white sand beaches!

If you are a beach lover and love surfing, you will have plenty of options. Who doesn’t love a day of rest and relaxation under the sun :)

 

Colonial Towns

Iglesia Santa Lucia, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Iglesia Santa Lucia in Suchitoto

Once you arrive in this quaint town, you are transported back in time. Walk through its cobble stone streets and learn all about the history and the role it played.

 

The city of colorful textiles

closeup, colorful threads, weaving, San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

Watch skilled workers weave bright, colorful textiles right before your eyes and the best part? They use traditional tools and not industrial machinery. It is a lesson you soon won’t forget!

As you can see there is so much to do that you will need to plan everything so that you can maximize your time.

As a photographer it was pure joy to be able to capture so many magical moments and was fascinated by all that I learned (especially the stories I was told).

 

What I loved the most is hearing it straight from the people who do it with so much passion. Which leads to the next point.

 

  • Talk to the locals

Let me tell you something. In all of my adventures around the globe, I learned a very valuable and important lesson.

Whenever I am somewhere, I always ask tons of questions. Yes I am THAT inquisitive person who wants to know A LOT so I am not afraid to ask the waiter at the restaurant, the taxi driver, the owner of a bakery, the person preparing my coffee, an artist at work, the clerk at the tourist information center or guides (at a sacred site for instance). It helps me get information you will never find in any guide-book!

If you don’t ask you’ll never know right? Well ask away! Locals will be more than happy to answer your questions and if they don’t know they have no problem in saying “I don’t know but let me find out for you”. As a writer I love to gather as much info as possible because that helps me write better stories after I return home and it adds up. I always carry a notepad or make mental notes as I go along!

I’ve met some of the most incredible people on my journeys and believe it or not, I’m still in contact with many of them after all these years. How? They looked for me on Facebook. See I must have been so bad that they did take the time to search until they found me!

You will leave with unforgettable memories that you will associate with your visit to the country!

 

  • Last but not least, enjoy your stay to the max!

There’s no need for me to say this but instead of looking over your shoulder and constantly think of what can happen, just LIVE THE MOMENT!

We only have one life to live and life is a one-time show. Do not worry about what can happen in the next minute, hour, day, tomorrow, next week.

As they say, life is not measured by the breaths you take but by moments that take your breath away!

Say if you stand at the edge of the crater of a volcano

El Boqueron National Park, Parque Nacional El Boqueron, San Salvador, El Salvador, park, parque, crater, bosque, forest, hiking, caminata, Centro America, Central America, Travel, Viaje

Or

Watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Playa El Majahual, El Salvador, Central America, black sand, black sand beach, sunset, atardecer, Pacific Ocean, Oceano Pacifico, Centro America, Visit El Salvador, ES impressive, travel, photography, nature, waves

Or

Any special moment you will create (and I am sure you will and many of them).

Overall I just say go with an open mind, trust that everything will go great, smile to Salvadorans, they have been through so much and still are but they are kind-hearted, welcoming and they will help you in any way they possibly can. I have seen it first hand and helped me be more humble and not complain about my life.

It will be an important and life-changing experience that will make you appreciate your family history and maybe, just maybe, you will want to go back on more than one occasion!

As for me, well I have already started planning my next adventure and there is still so much that I want to see and do (coffee tour, volunteering, going to Barra de Santiago, hiking at Walter Deninger National Park, surfing in La Unión etc.) Only time will tell!

I hope my tips will encourage you or anyone reading this to visit the heart of Central America.

If you still have questions, do not be afraid to ask them and if you do end up going, please update me and send pics!

Te deseo felices viajes, many happy travels.

Tashi Delek, all the best

Saludos

K :)

 

 

 

 

5 tips for first-time travelers

One of my missions in 2015 is becoming a mentor to a 14-year-old Teen Ambassador and help her become a global citizen. As part of the Passport Party Project

Passport Party Project, Badge, PPP, travel

I was paired with a deserving student who has been handpicked to be part of Phase 2. Together we will go through 6 weeks of global awareness training which will prepare her to obtain her first passport and travel to a destination along with 9 other young ambassadors.

Let me tell you something. I am beyond thrilled to finally start working with my mentee. I have learned that this young lady is also Latin American and from Illinois!

Passport Party Project, PPP, Team1, mentor, mentee, Karla, Crystal, PPP, travel

What truly moved me and made me feel very proud of her already is the fact that she has worked very hard all her life to be the best in every area of her life. Teachers, professionals have nothing but great things to say about her.

I have received some information regarding her academic background and it is amazing to see what a dedicated and outstanding student she is and the discipline she has at such a young age! She is very focused and has a clear vision of what she wants and where she is headed. Quite admirable if you ask me.

Not only it reminds me of my own childhood, but it shows me how much potential she has and how far she will go in life!

I am very humbled and quite honored to have been selected to teach her what I know and also share with her my own experiences as a world traveler.

Now as we are ready to start the training, I stopped for a moment and thought about writing down some important tips or advice I would give her or anyone before going on their first international trip.

Here are 5 important travel tips for first-time travelers

  • Please remember how valuable YOUR passport is. Never take it for granted and guard it very closely.

Canadian passport. passport. travel, TS76

I have already shared with you how incredibly fortunate and blessed I am for having 2 passports (Canadian and Salvadoran) and how much my father had to work and the difficulties he faced and overcame obstacles in order to get it for me, my siblings and my mother. There is not a time I don’t stop and say in silence, father thank you, I appreciate all the sacrifices you made so that I am able today to travel to the four corners of the world. I sure have been to a few places thanks to it. If it wasn’t for his high goal and dream for a better future for us, I would not be here writing this to you. So I am very grateful!

Not everyone can have it, so whatever you do, always keep it in a safe place while travelling and ALWAYS make photocopies in case (God forbid) something happens.

I always have it in a passport cover and carry photocopies inside my luggage and wallet.

  • Always buy travel and health insurance.

As you know by now I LOVE adventures and they have taken me to places I didn’t think I EVER would.

River Kayaking where crocs live? Check

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures

Zip lining through 18 platforms deep in the Costa Rican rain forest? Check

Canopy Safari, Canopy Safari Tour, Costa Rica, Central America, Karla, TS76, travel, photography, canopy, zip lining, adventure

Finding myself in one of the most beautiful Scandinavian cities for the first time? Check

Helsinki, Finland, Senate Square, Helsinki Cathedral, travel, photography, TS76

Traveling through my home country and taking my family on many road trips? Check

Living and working in one of the most crowded yet fantastic Asian cities for two years? Check

ongeunsa, Temple, Seoul, South Korea, photography, travel, TS76

I could go on and on giving you examples but they all have one thing in common. I bought individual and comprehensive travel and health insurance.

As they say, it’s better be prepared and not need it than needing it and not having it.

Starting any trip with peace of mind and knowing that you are covered in case something happens to you while abroad is simply priceless!

I know It can add up to the cost of your trip ($40-$50 extra?) but think of how much it would cost if (heaven forbid) something would happen to you, like an injury or medical emergency (which would come from your own pockets and who knows how).

So I am an enthusiast advocate of insurance and greatly recommend you get a policy EVERY single time you go somewhere. It is worth it, trust me on that one.

  • Make a list of things you absolutely need

This is something I learned the hard way and I am sure some of you have as well.

Nowadays your luggage weight is very important if you don’t want to end up paying unnecessary fees.

I see people at the airport trying to squeeze things into one suitcase or their carry-on (I’ll get back to this). And it is obvious that it does NOT fit so why sweat over it?

Before you leave home, take the time to sort all the things that you want to bring and narrow down your selections. Do you really need 5 jeans and 10 pairs of shoes, seriously?

The great thing about point No is that after buying travel and health insurance, the company or website I buy it from sends me a very handy check list which helps me plan and pack for any trip.

You can tick the boxes as you go along and in the end you have your basics (hygiene products, clothing, skin protection, documents, important info etc.)

It has worked pretty well for me thus far and I highly recommend anyone to at least look at it.

Now I have mastered the art of packing light, roll things up neatly so that there is more space left for things you will bring back and being organized will help you locate things quicker.

  • Do some research on the destination you are visiting
electronics. work tools, laptop, tablet, smartphone, travel, photography

Photo credit: wilofcom

Thanks to all the information available to us within easy reach allows us to virtually visit any town, city or country with just a click of a mouse.

You can buy a real city guide or download many maps or guides available online to your computer, mobile or tablet.

Learning some basic words (like good morning, hello, good-bye, thank you) or expressions will greatly be appreciated by the locals! They see that you are making the effort and even though language may be a barrier, a smile, kindness and gratitude go a long way!

I must admit that I am the first to avoid touristy and overcrowded tourist sightseeing spots and often go off the beaten path but I am careful and not wander where I shouldn’t.

I always have a map with me or ask locals how I can find my way back to a subway station or starting point.  I have been a very fortunate and happy recipient of Random Acts of Kindness but that has taught me great and important lessons :)

Ah bring enough funds to cover all your expenses but do NOT bring a credit card unless it is for a real emergency or use it as a last resort.

One of my biggest and costliest mistakes EVER was to get plastic cards. It can ruin your finances and transform you into a debt slave but that is a whole other topic for another blog post. I wished someone would have told me to use them wisely or cut them in half or cancel them altogether. I learned it the hard way but know better now.

Again bring your ATM card, liquid funds and keep them in a safe place. Never carry more than $50 in your wallet an do not flash it as a lot of people still do! Unless you are going to a 5 star hotel or Michelin restaurant, then yes you need some more bling bling to cover the final bill :)

I suggest to have small bills and change. Once I was in a store in New York City and they didn’t accept $100 or $50 bills, so I learned to carry change.

  • Immerse yourself in the culture and do as locals do

The whole point of traveling to a new destination is to become fully immersed in the local culture, history and do as locals eat, live, work and play!

Do not go to familiar restaurants like you do back home (golden arch, I am talking about you), try a local eatery instead.

Be open to try local specialties, be adventurous with food! After all you may or may not go back to that same place again, so be bold! If you don’t try you’ll never know right?

SLOW DOWN! Sit down at a café instead of running away with a cup in your hands. Enjoy people watching, have a REAL conversation and just enjoy the moment! Life is a one-time show, there is no pause button :)

coffee, coffee art, cappuccino, art in a cup, caffeine, coffee addicts, TS76, photography

Go to festivals, concerts, exhibitions, outdoor activities where the locals gather.

Interact with people, they can tell you stories of the place you are visiting. ASK them questions! They’ll be more than happy to answer and they are natural story tellers :)

Overall, be nice and respect them. After all you are the guests! So be a good one they’ll remember..

Extra

If there is an important piece of advice I could give, it would be the following.

Set a good example for yourself, your family, your group, AND your country!

When I worked at a store and restaurant, I witnessed and served loud, rowdy and rude visitors and had to stay calm and not let it get to me. Their superiority attitude was a real shame. It made the rest look bad! That’s how stereotypes are formed and it’s just not fair for the rest who are nice, kind and want to just enjoy the city.

Have good manners, please do not trash! I have seen people throw bottles, cups, paper bags, wrapping paper or just different things in broad day light while others look and think it’s not a big deal. Well, newsflash, it IS a big deal. There are bins for that purpose, so keep it clean.

Ah, something very important I am forgetting is to be considerate and orderly where you are staying (hotel, hostel, B&B, vacation home). DO NOT waste unnecessary resources (let the water run, leave the lights on, leaving the room as if a tornado hit it etc.) Again, be a responsible traveler, a good guest and leave with positive and unforgettable memories!

Remember that….

Aerial view, Coast of Nicaragua, Travel, travel quote, TS76, photography

Now over to you!

 

Do you agree with what I said?

Would you add something else?

What do you wish you had known before you first traveled solo?

Tell me all about it! Can’t wait to read from you.

Until next time.

Many happy travels!

Tashi Delek, All the best.

Karla :)