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Ideal Retreats for Health and Fitness Enthusiasts

The idea of being fit and healthy is slowly but surely permeating the way of life of modern man. Health-club industry’s global market size has seen a sharp increase in revenue, rising from 67.19$ billion in 2009 to 83.15$ in 2016, a staggering increase of 15.96 billion U.S. dollars in only half a decade. This increase in fitness-related activities has resulted in more and more people seeking active vacation options, which is reflected in the growing number of tourist destinations that not only enable such activities but use them as their main advertising point. Which begs the question, what are the best destinations for health and fitness enthusiasts around the world?

1.     Cas Gasi, Ibiza

Cas Gasi, Ibiza People associate winter with very cold temperatures and an abundance of snow. However, winter in Ibiza is described by people as delightfully silent and often quite sunny. The White Isle’s Cas Gazi offers a whitewashed and secluded 12-bedroom retreat perched on top of the Santa Gertrudis hills. Visitors are encouraged to try out the famous vinyasa or “flow” yoga or simply lay back and enjoy a soothing delight that is La Biosthétique massages and facials. Add cycling, walking and personal training to suit, as well as healthy meals made using local fruits, vegetables and olive oil and you’ll instantly fall in love with this little slice of heaven.

2.     Crete, Greece

Crete boasts an amazing fitness retreat nested beneath the mountains in the form of an eco-village called Milia. A redecorated farm building and breathtaking rock dwellings set inside the White Mountains National Park offer a one-of-a-kind culinary experience and an abundance of outdoor activities including climbing, hiking, running and enjoying the gorgeous view. The resident chef will tell you all about where the local food is grown, how it needs to be prepared and what type of impact it will have on your body.

3.     Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Australia’s Gold Coast is home to a number of well-known retreats where you can try out the ancient, yet quite wonderful art of qigong while enjoying the unforgeable sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. You can explore numerous walking trails, try out your luck with various dancing classes or hit the local open gyms and break a sweat using the more traditional exercise equipment. After a tasty, organic lunch, you can swim in the warm waters of the Pacific or one of many private plunge pools of your choice.

4.     Koh Samui, Thailand

Thailand might be famous for its natural wonders, but tourists from around the world are flocking to the island of Koh Samui to give the holistic boot camp a try. All your physical, psychological and social needs will be met during the, now famous fitness programs aimed at helping people lose weight and achieve an unprecedented clarity and peace of mind via indoor and outdoor fitness sessions that include cardiovascular workouts, exercises on the beach, Pilates, Muay Thai kickboxing and even weight training.

5.     Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hidden inside the lush green tropical rainforests of Kuala Lumpur lies the world’s first organic wellness retreat. Malaysia is the go-to destination for those who need to relieve stress and re-energize their bodies. Your physical and psychological shape will be evaluated in order to help you pinpoint the exact triggers of stress and provide you with different means of alleviating it, including mounding biking, trekking, organic farming or playing a relaxing game of golf.

Getting into the fit mindset can be rather difficult, considering our everyday commitments and work-related obligations. Taking a retreat far away from the stresses of the modern world is not only recommendable but necessary if we wish to preserve our health and much-needed peace of mind. Fortunately, these retreats offer both recreation and active relaxation in order to cater to our growing fitness needs and allow you to do more than simply waste our days lying in the bed.

Aussie Family Campervan Adventure

Campervan AdventureIf the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “vacation” is coast, you need to branch out! Campervan vacationing is an excellent alternative here – it can be a very exciting, educational and fun experience. However, going from the habit of enjoying relaxing beach or resort vacations to all the challenges of outdoor tourism is quite a leap forward, so you should definitely get familiarized with a couple of essential tips before making the decision. We’re going to use Australia as our campervan adventure destination due to its vastness, variety and beauty.

Selecting the van

Unlike the traditional vacation types, your campervan is literally going to be your home for the duration of your excursion, so picking the perfect one is of the absolute essence. Start researching, get familiarized with various vehicle models and their amenities and add-ons. For instance, a mini fridge, running water and a gas stove are absolutely necessary. On the other hand, depending on the size of your family, you might need a rooftop sleeper. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the van, the more gas it will guzzle, especially on camping trips, so carefully consider how much space you need – camping trips weren’t made for luxury; on the contrary, you’re supposed to reimagine your life in the humble confines of nature.

Pick your destination

The very point of your campervan trip is being mobile, and it would be a shame (and very boring) if you were to stay in a single spot during the entirety of your vacation. Driving a campervan across Australia is a unique experience; there’s a reason why every year, thousands of STA travelers explore the Aussie land using vans as their homes. Here’s a list of neat locations to get lost in if you decide to take your camping vacation to this gorgeous continent.

  • Grampians National Park, Victoria – If breathtaking views of towering summits, mighty waterfalls and vast forests are your thing (of course they are), there is no place like the Grampians National Park. Some three hours’ worth of driving north of Melbourne, this national park offers you a chance to park your van and take a walk around, soaking in all the gorgeous sights that surround you.
  • Coober Pedy, South Australia – If you and your family are history enthusiasts, then you’ll love visiting this 80-million-years-old view. This historic opal-mining center offers awesome desert landscapes, but its main feature is quite a strange one. This town is mostly situated underground!
  • Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia – What good would an Australian camping vacation be if you weren’t able to catch some sun on this continent’s gorgeous sandy beaches. If you happen to find yourself anywhere near Esperance, take a 45-minute drive to the Cape Le Grand. Set up camp at the Lucky Bay to go snorkeling and swimming, and perhaps even see a kangaroo or two!

Preparation is essential

The preparations are just as important for a camping trip as for any other type of trip. Your itinerary is most likely to include wildlands and, especially in Australia, this means potentially hundreds of miles without a living soul around.
Every good preparation process starts with making a list long before setting off. Imagine your journey – think about everything from the bare necessities such as food, water, money, medicine, warm/light clothing, maps, flashlights and devices, to cards and board games for when the weather turns treacherous. Even a DVD player might not be such a bad idea!

If you’re planning on visiting national parks and other vehicle-inaccessible sites (which Australia is full of), think about bringing along bicycles, especially if you have enough space to store them!
Here’s a pro tip: the pros at Shimano offer high-quality spare parts and maintenance equipment that might turn out essential for your biking excursions.

Eating

The campervan experience offers a unique opportunity for cooking while on the road. On the other hand, the fact that you’re frequently moving around means that you should definitely not miss out on some of the local delicacies. The trick is walking the fine line between the two. Oh, and steer clear of high-sugar snack foods, take advantage of the local markets and make sure that each family member plays their part in meal preparation.

An Aussie campervan adventure offers a myriad of interesting opportunities, and without proper research and preparation, you might miss out on a whole lot! Although selecting the perfect van is the most important factor, there is a lot more ground to be covered – from packing and destination picking, to eating and having fun inside the campervan. Prepare yourself properly and you’re in for an unforgettable experience!

10 Things To Do In Kenting, Taiwan

taiwan travelSnorkeling and Scuba Diving

Snorkel gear can be picked up at any of the beachy shops in Kenting town. The area around sail rock is popular with snorkelers. If you want to go scuba diving, check out Taiwan Dive for classes.

Rent a Scooter

Most places in Taiwan require a Taiwanese driving license to rent a scooter, but in Kenting, its legal for tourists to rent electric scooters. These surprisingly powerful little bikes can get you over all the hills and to every beach in Kenting for about 800 NTD a day. You can read about the best places to scooter to in Kenting over on my blog.

Be a Beach Bum

You’ve got plenty of white sandy options in Kenting to fulfill your holiday needs of reading a book and splashing around in the ocean. From Baisha Bay to Kenting Town Beach you’re sure to find a quiet spot to relax in the sun or play in the water.

Hike in a National Park

Kenting has two main parks, Eluanbi, which is the Southernmost tip of Taiwan, and Kenting National Park. Both parks have great views, fun hikes, and picturesque gardens to while away an afternoon in.

Explore a Cave

caveKenting National Park is also home to two caves: the fairy cave and the silver dragon cave. Both are bigger than they initially seem from the outside and are fun (and refreshing) to explore on a hot summer’s day.

Learn to Surf

Jialeshuei is the famous surfing beach in Kenting, but other Kenting other beaches are also good for beginners.

Afei’s Surf Hostel is a great place to check out if you want lessons. Even if you don’t want to surf, I can recommend Afei’s as a lovely hotel to stay at.

Snack Your Way Through a Night Market

Kenting Night Market basically shuts the roads down in Kenting town in the evening as tourists and foods stands fill the main road. You can get typical beach food like ice cream and corn dogs or you can branch out and try some wild hog meat and stinky tofu.

Explore Taiwan’s History in Hengchun

Hengchun is an easy scooter ride away from Kenting and it’s a great place to head to for some interesting architecture and Taiwanese history. Walk from historic gate to historic gate down narrow roads and get a feel for what Taiwanese life was like a hundred years ago.

Stand on the Edge of a Cliff

Fongchueisha and Longpan will get your blood pumping if you bike to either of these two look out points for a stunning, cliff-side view down to the rocky waters below.

Stare at Fish from a Glass Bottom Boat

Houbihu Harbor Head to Houbihu Harbor for a ride in a glass bottom boat. It’s 600 NTD a person.

Kenting, Taiwan has a lot to offer the sun-loving vacationer. With cheap food and plenty of sights the South of Taiwan makes an excellent holiday destination.

Diving 101: Safety Guideline for Beginners

As a diving instructor living in Indonesia, one of the best diving spots in the entire world, I meet lots of people who would love to go on a dive but are nervous about the health and safety aspects. I meet even more people, unfortunately, who are so keen to start diving that they completely ignore the health and safety aspects, potentially putting themselves in danger.

My job isn’t just to take people on the trip of a lifetime – it’s also to imbue them with a healthy respect for the ocean and everything that lives within it. Here’s my advice, one that I dispense daily in the course of my work, written down to help out beginners to the wonderful world of diving.

Find a quiet spot to dive

If you’re a beginner diver, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with crowds the first times you dive. Those same crowds might also scare off the marine life, therefore cancelling out the very thing you came for.

My favourite diving spots of all time are Padang Bay which has amazing dive sites, and Nusa Dua which is great for those who love isolation. Moreover, those amazing locations are just scratching the surface of all Bali has to offer – but you really should do some research before you book your diving trip.

Nusa DuaConsider your own health

To be a diver, you really have to be quite physically fit. Cardiac-related deaths make up at least a quarter of all diving deaths, so please don’t become a part of the statistic.

Undergo a physical examination before taking up diving as a serious hobby, and absolutely ask your doctor if there’s anything at all in your health records that could make diving an overly dangerous experience for you. Even if you’re given an absolute all-clear and told you’re healthy, you still have to listen to your body at all times and never get complacent in your health. If you have a cold or the flu or are even just tired from partying, don’t dive. And don’t dive if you’ve been drinking. Just don’t risk it.

However, bear in mind that it’s not impossible to scuba dive if you’re disabled. There are many centers and resources for disabled people who want to try diving.

Plan ahead and stick with your buddy

Before you go diving, you should have planned out every last detail, including how deep you’ll go and how much air you’ll have in your tank when you ascend. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, ask your diving instructor. Never be afraid to ask us questions in fact – it’s what we’re here for.

diving instructor You should have a diving buddy who goes under with you (It’s best if this is someone you already know, but it doesn’t have to be). You should pre-arrange hand signals with them beforehand, as obviously you won’t be able to converse underwater. Keep your diving buddy in sight at all times; don’t swim off the second you spot something interesting. If you do lose them, slowly ascend to the surface to regroup.

Go slowly and relax

It can be scary diving for the first time, but you simply have to relax your body and, if needs be, remind yourself that diving accidents are incredibly rare. If for any reason you start to panic, alert your buddy and your dive instructor and slowly start ascending. That ‘slowly’ is very important when it comes to diving – ascend too quickly and the nitrogen bubbles forming in your blood will make you sick with decompression illness or ‘the bends’. That’s one thing you absolutely, definitely do not want.

Ascend at 30 feet per minute max, and you should be fine. Then, take some time to rest before diving again.

diving is funDiving is fun, the best kind of fun in the world in my opinion, but it’s not a sport for the careless or arrogant. Always follow your instructor’s advice – it’ll save you ruining your holiday with a spell in hospital instead of underwater.

Austria-Best destination to enjoy white Christmas

Christmas season brings chilly weather and snowy delights for the persons who love to take pleasure in the freezing climate and enjoy playing with velvety snow. People who love showers of snow would pray to get their desired fulfilled on the day of Christmas to get the double treat of Christmas merriments. However, not all the area contains such weather settings to have feathery snow especially at the time of Christmas. That’s why people intended to head to those areas, which are famous for heavy snow showers during the Christmas. One of the outstanding destinations those are renowned for white Christmas atmosphere. You would love to enjoy the scenic landscape with load of snow and celebrative activities. Well-decorated ethnic villages, towns, streets, and markets with glistening lights will captivate your attention to make you indulge in lifetime experience of white Christmas.

Salzburg austriaTraditions

Austrian Christmas traditions more or less resemble with mainstreams customs of the world.

  • Starting from the St. Nicolas festival who come along with devil and distribute desired gifts, sweets, apples and nuts among kids according to good and bad deeds they have done all through the year.
  • People love to gather around the open fireplace to enjoy the play of nativity and later they surround the Christmas tree for midnight mass to open the Christmas gifts with high zest and zeal.
  • Carol singers visit every house with burning torches and playing brass music instrument to wish everyone the holy eve. This tradition has been started in 1818 accidently and then followed each year until now.
  • Christmas cannot be completed in Austria without warm home baked cookies. And the Christmas tree is secretly decorated by parents while kids can only see it after they hear the bell ringing.

Attractions

Austria is extremely romantic destination to celebrate grand event of Christmas. It contains marvelous panoramic views that outshines in the season of winter with white furry snow layers. Some of major Austrian attractive places are suggested here.

  • Vienna

Vienna offers you lots of interesting places to visit during your stay on the occasion of Christmas. As it has been the imperial court for 6 centuries, it contains a fascinating array of architectural legacy that you never want to miss. To relish the flavors of Vienna you can find diverse kinds of restaurants that provide traditional treats along with the high class sophisticated dinner deals. You can take services of guide tours of all around the Austrian region. Attractive Danube River can be enjoyed while visiting the historic Silent chapel. The ‘December Market’ in Vienna city has been established since 1294 and known to be the innovator of the Christmas markets in the world.

  • Salzburg

Salzburg opens another façade Austria towards you to let you enjoy more with exciting activities and heart throbbing sightseeing. Here you will find historically and culturally rich spots, most prominently fortress – Hohen Salzburg is a must-see location. Neighboring town of Salzburg can also be explored where you can visit the exclusive salt mines with tempting activities and attractions.

  • Seefeld

The most exciting part of this city is the Crystal work of Swarovski where you can mesmerize your eyes with translucent glowing crystal artifacts and also can buy the affordable. Furthermore, you can explore the Christmas markets by strolling on the snow carpet at the old town square built with landmark golden roofs. Traversing through the market provides you charming gift ideas for Christmas celebration as a gesture of kindness for relations encircling you to elevate the pleasure factor.

All these thrilling temptations of Austria can make your Christmas incredibly exciting to be an unforgettable affair of your life.

Understanding Lifeguard Warning Flags

beach travel

The beach is a relaxing place for family and friends to come together and make memories. The beach is also a dangerous place if the right precautions are not taken by beach-goers? To make sure that your beach memories are happy memories it is important to prepare and be aware of your surroundings. One way to do this is by paying attention to lifeguards.

Lifeguards are extremely important to help ensure safe and fun beach visits because they can rescue swimmers in trouble, recognize heat illness, and are trained to warm beach-goers of dangerous conditions. These warnings can cover anything from strong currents or undertow to shark or jellyfish sightings.

You can take an active role in helping lifeguards by understanding their warning flags. There are four main flags that a majority of beach communities honor.Knowing the colors and their meanings can help keep you and your family safe!

Green Flag

Green means go!  Green indicates good conditions, but remember that the ocean and the weather are unpredictable. You should still be aware of your surroundings even when a green flag is up.Storms can easily take the beach by surprise, making it imperative to stay alert.  Even if the sky is clear,there are still potential dangers in the water.

Yellow Flag

The yellow flag indicates that swimmers should enter the ocean with caution. Usually,a yellow flag is a sign of a bad undertow or strong currents.Swimmers are still free to dive in, but they are advised to wear life jackets – especially children.  Even if you are a strong swimmer, you should stay near a lifeguard to be made aware of any worsening conditions. A yellow flag can also indicate a large drop-off or a high population of fish in the area. If you are unsure, ask your lifeguard why the flag has been signaled.

Red Flag

The red flag is the most serious warning that a lifeguard can signal. This flag means that currents are too dangerous for the average swimmer.Two red flags mean swimming is prohibited to everyone- regardless of your skill level. A red flag could also indicate dangerous weather approaching. Ask the lifeguard if you and your family should head for shelter if you see a red flag flying.

Dark Blue/Purple Flag

 A dark blue or purple flag indicate that dangerous animals have been spotted in the water. This includes sharks and deadly jellyfish.Regardless of a warning, it is extra important to be cautious and aware of your surroundings while swimming in the ocean. Predators in the water have a difficult time deciphering what food is and you don’t want to be mistaken as the main course.

A day at the beach can be a great way to relax and bond with loved ones. Don’t let your time on the shore go sour and be sure to pay close attention to the patrolling lifeguards. Now that you know what the lifeguard flags stand for, you are one step closer to making happy beach memories. Remember that the beach can be fun, but the ocean is a dangerous place.

This guest blog was written by Freedom Travel, specializing in vacation planning and travel services for military members. Freedom Travel offers military travel discounts and packages to some of the top beaches around the world.

10 Tips on How to Travel Sustainably

There are countless reasons why travel is rewarding for the voyager. However, there are also many reasons why travel is detrimental to the environment. C02 emissions from flying, increased waste, and energy consumption are just a few of these reasons. I never really considered these facts until I came across a hotel that considered itself green. I was staying in one of the downtown Victoria hotels [in BC] and noticed that the hotel in question was a participant of a “Green Key Eco Rating Program”. It made me wonder about the burden of energy abuse when it comes to travel. Luckily there are many things you can do to offset some of the less desirable impacts of travel while still making the most of your time away.

Conserve Energy At Home

Sustainability can start even before leaving your home. Take 10 minutes before you leave for the airport to walk through your home and unplug appliances that do not need to remain turned on during your time away. This includes TVs, computers, stereos, microwaves and any other appliances that drain energy even when they are not in use. As an added economic benefit, you will likely save some money on your next electrical bill!

Conserve Energy Abroad

Energy conservation should not end once you step into your hotel room. Just as you (hopefully) do at home, turn of the lights, heat/AC, and television when you leave the room. If you want to go a step further, you can unplug small appliances such as the coffee maker or even the TV when they are not in use. Hotels require large amounts of energy to function, so even small acts such as these have an impact.

Pack Lightly

Do you really need that 7th pair of shoes? Chances are you can go without them, and doing so can have a positive environmental impact. You can offset the CO2 emissions of flying by packing light. Lighter bags means a lighter plane, and therefore greater fuel efficiency. You will also save money on baggage fees!

Use Refillable Containers

Instead of stocking up on the travel-sized versions of your staple toiletries, invest in reusable containers. You can offset the waste (and the cost) incurred by purchasing travel versions of your lotions, shampoos, and ointments by filling reusable containers with a portion of the products you already own. NOTE: Ensure that the containers you get are within the size restrictions for air travel!

Reuse Your Towels and Bedding

While sometimes vacations are meant to be indulgent, there are some at-home customs that you can bring with you. Reusing the bedding and towels that are provided in your hotel room is one of them. Freshly laundered towels and sheets are fantastic, but they also require a great deal of energy (up to 8 gallons of water for one load). The fewer sheets or towels that need washing, the less energy is needed!

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Avoid carrying around plastic water bottles and instead bring one sturdy reusable bottle. If you are unsure if the tap water is safe where you are traveling, invest in a water bottle with a built in filtration system. Doing so will drastically cut down on waste, and like many other sustainable actions, will save you money in the long run.

Conserve Water

Being conscious to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving, and even cutting down your shower time are all effective ways to conserve water when traveling. Many developing countries face water shortages, so preserving this valuable resource should be a top priority!

Eat Locally

While you can find a McDonald’s in almost any country, opt instead to eat locally. Food that is imported requires a lot of energy and produces a lot of pollution during the transportation process. Spending money at local restaurant will boost the economy of that community, and also give you an authentic taste of the culture.

Local Transportation

Instead of renting a car or taking a taxi, consider more environmentally conscious methods of transportation while abroad. Walking, biking, or even taking public transportation are great ways to not only be a more sustainable traveler, but to experience the local culture as well.

Take Pictures not Souvenirs

Even though the local flowers are pretty and the seashells are shiny, resist temptation and leave the natural landscape as it is. Take pictures instead. They’ll last forever!