Whenever I travel to any new city, first thing I do after checking in is to frantically figure out my way around town, the use of public transport if any, and how do I buy and use the oyster/subway cards or on what side of the street do I catch the bus on. But I am always utterly delighted when I discover that I just need my own two feet.
So, I just want to say a big thank you to some of the world’s walkable cities -I am pleased to meet you, and appreciate you for the fact that you allow me to explore your beauty all on my own. I love getting lost on your cobblestone streets and quaint bazaars. I love watching the street performers and stop by to listen to them singing or playing funky music on the guitar. I appreciate the quiet privacy I get even when sitting on a busy street bench, enjoying my Gelato and people watching (Something I can never do in Delhi).
Walkable towns and cities offer so much more in terms of sightseeing, something a bus or train ride can never lay claim to. But I have to warn you that not all cities are well suited to pedestrians (I’m looking at you, Los Angeles), and offering my utmost respect for those people that prefer to get around on foot (I’m looking at you New Yorkers).
I’m amazed at just how many miles I walk by the end of my trip (always forget to turn on the app on my phone) and the excitement of exploring a new city always trumps the exhaustion of a long day on my feet.
While I may not do enough justice by listing out all those cities here, there are some of the few here I have had the opportunity to explore on foot and are just fantastic to walk around.
This one literally takes the cake. I am amazed at how much walking I can do in NYC even if I do not want to do all of the touristy things. I always look at Google maps and the subway app before I venture out and work out exactly where my must-sees are, in relation to each other. I feel grouping things geographically is by far the best way to maximize my time and minimise unnecessary walking. Using the subway does get you pretty close to most of the sights, such as Highline and Brooklyn Bridge, but exploring all of New York City takes more than a subway ride. Around Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center it is much easier to walk the blocks exploring this frantic city as you go by.
Consistently ranked as one of the country’s most walkable cities, Philadelphia is ripe with colorful neighborhoods, great buildings, and cultural sites to explore. Seemingly a world away from Philadelphia’s colonial sites, the South Philly section has a rich history of its own. Cheese, chocolate, spice, and olive oil stands are plentiful at the famous outdoor market, which is open daily and is America’s largest.
Smaller when compared to New York City, Boston has its own charm coupled with elegant neighbourhoods, historic streets, and American landmarks from the Back Bay to Beacon Hill and the Freedom Trail. Newbury Street known for its trendy shopping, Copley Square for its beautiful open square and the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church give a cool vibe to this city. The Boston Public Garden one of the loveliest green spaces in the city also has one of the most photographed statues — the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. The North End is a captivating, lively quarter, with its many Italian restaurants and picturesque streets that transport you back in time.
One of the best features of Washington, D.C., is its walkability. Not only are many of its major sites and attractions grouped together on the National Mall, but the city is a series of true neighborhoods knitted together, easily traversed by foot. Whether it’s historic or cultural, food- or monument-centric, watching the cherry blossoms in full bloom or taking a tour of the memorials by moonlight, DC has many things to offer its tourists.
Vancouver is popularly known as the ‘walker’s paradise’, all thanks to the pedestrian way finding maps that encourage a person to walk through the city. Among the most famous walks, False Creek to Granville Island takes the front position where we would stop by and shop at the Public Market for locally grown fresh produce. Downtown Vancouver, Gastown, Stanley Park and the Buchart Gardens which is an easily reachable place from the downtown Vancouver adds to the list.
Probably the originator of the “getting lost” in Europe mentality, (which I have yet to feel) Venice is the ideal place to explore on foot. Of course, a gondola ride along the canals is a wonderful treat; however, the true magic can be found in the streets along the canals. Walking on the Rialto square and around St Mark’s square, you will experience the locals going about their daily business shadowed by the city’s historic structures.
London is one of the most foot-friendly cities in the world and one of my favourite too. Its bridges and the London Eye (on a clear sunny day) provide some of the best views in London. Central London has most of the landmark locations which are closer to each other. The City Visitor Trail also known as “the Square Mile” a guided walk maps a route through the heart of the City, taking you past a range of famous attractions on a stroll through the historic heart of the capital to see St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, the Bank of England, Mansion House, the Monument, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge – along with a host of City churches, like the famous St Mary-le-Bow.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam’s flat, compact, and lively streets make the city an ideal place to explore on foot. In fact, walking may be the best way to appreciate gorgeous 17th-century canals, leafy parks, and former industrial docklands.
With clean, wide sidewalks, and interesting sights along the way, Shanghai has lots to offer for a fun walk. The Yu Garden is the number one tourist attraction in Shanghai, and the only example of a Classic Chinese garden left in the city from the dynastic period of Chinese history. The added advantage is that it borders the Yuyuan Tourist Mart, where one can browse through a wide selection of touristy trinkets and test out bargaining skills. There are two parts of Shanghai, worth visiting –one a scenic/cultural part of Shanghai in the French Concession, and the second covers a famous temple and Shanghai’s art district through a more local route.
The 6km trail from Bondi to Coogee is perhaps the most famous coastal hiking trail in Sydney, New South Wales and perhaps even Australia. Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk treats visitors to some of Australia’s best beaches and most impressive ocean views. Not only tourists but even the local Sydney-siders come to Sydney’s east coast every day to enjoy Australia’s best beaches, stunning ocean views and lots of parks, cafes and restaurants on the way.
New Delhi, India
If you have ever been to Delhi, you will notice that it is a huge maze, and to manoeuvre it can be a task—especially if you are new to the city. The best way to soak in the rich culture of Old Delhi is to take some guided tours that are a combination of walks and cycle rickshaws rides, as you absorb the street vibe , the historical sites, and bazaars, and experience the various culinary treats and street foods. Although there are many heritage monuments dotted around the city, the Heritage Walk is an excellent way to connect the historical dots, since the guided walks are themed. That way, you learn what one monument has to do with another, as it was intended all those years ago.
Another interesting tour is the Cycle Tour where a group of 8-10 participants is accompanied by a friendly tour guide in bright orange, who will maintain a nice pace as you pedal through Old or New Delhi.
While you will definitely enjoy most of the ‘walking tours’ in some of these places, do note that you need to take heed of the following steps before you do so.
- Walking tours usually involve long distances with each excursion lasting around two to three hours. While you’re possibly used to walking around your hometown, it is advisable to check out the general terrain of the city where you’re going. I have seen many a person who is part of a group tour getting excruciatingly tired after a few miles of walking that the entire group feels the strain.
- Condition your body and build adequate stamina so you can enjoy exploring your vacation destination. Wear proper footwear and break in your trekking shoes by wearing them regularly for a few weeks in advance.
- One of the prerequisites of enjoying a walking tour is keeping up energy levels and hydration. Eat a filling breakfast to fuel your body for the trek and bring bottles of fluids.
Exploring a city or town on foot is one of the most exciting ways to get a closer view of its inherent charm. Not only do you get an immersive experience of its attractions and people, but you’ll understand it better than any conventional excursions. Guided walks and city tours are available just about everywhere; to find them, do an Internet search, consult a good guidebook or contact the local tourist office.
PC: Visitphiladelphia;Planetware; Touropia;Sydneywalks;Spinmonkey
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The first time I heard about Home swapping or Home exchange was via the Hollywood flick ‘The Holiday’ starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, the story about two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who arrange a home exchange to escape heartbreak during the Christmas and holiday season.
What a brilliant idea this was!
Swapping homes could be the perfect way to expand your horizons and holiday for free in exotic locations.
Jetting off and arriving at your own ‘home away from home’ is an appealing thought. But since most of us can’t afford a foreign holiday home, the trend for house swapping, where holidaymakers move into one another’s homes – saving the expense of paying for commercial accommodation – is becoming increasingly popular. Home exchanges make an ideal base for one-day or weekend excursions.
People who have gone in for home swapping have made good friends along the way. You get to live as they live, shop where they shop since the exchange partner will often leave insider information about the area. What’s so fabulous about home swapping is it’s not just a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. And you get the most out of an intercultural experience.
But home swapping is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some folks love to swap and do it several times a year because it allows them to experience new places without paying for hotels, restaurants or, in many cases, transportation (the use of the family car is included in many home exchanges). However, some travellers are turned off by having to cook and clean on their vacation, while others feel uneasy about having strangers living in their own homes.
However there’s more than one way to do a home swap:
- You can stay in your exchange-partner’s home while they stay in yours (a “simultaneous exchange”).
- You can stay at a home-swapper’s second home or vacation home (a “non-simultaneous exchange”).
- Or you can stay as a guest in a home-swapper’s abode while they’re also in the house (a “hospitality exchange”).
There are various home-exchange sites online that cater to different types of exchanges. Usually with the companies listed on a home exchange program buying a membership is mandatory.
A lot of footwork is necessary. Both the owner and the holiday maker have to do their homework well before getting into such agreement. Check references, find them on social media or /and ask your home-exchange company for more information about prospective home exchange partners.
Home swapping is more or less a safe way to arrange a stay, with none or few cases of reported theft or vandalism. In the end, when it’s a simultaneous exchange, mutual trust is fundamental.
Here’s some pointers on how home swapping works.
- By joining a reputable company via an annual membership. You’ll be able to list your property on their website and make contact with other owners to arrange your exchange.
- Most house-swap firms don’t visit properties, so it’s imperative to study photos carefully, and look at feedback and definitely ask the owner questions.
- Most of the companies have a guest points system where you earn guest points when you host and spend guest points when you stay as a guest.
For many travellers, a home exchange /home swapping is an economical, comfortable and fascinating way to vacation far from home. The possibilities for home exchanges could be endless.
OS: Daily Mail UK / PC:Shespeaks;Readers Digest;Hitster;Froodee;TripSavvy;
Everyone remembers their first solo journey. For some women it was a long time ago, and there have been many more trips since. For others, the memory is still quite fresh. I know mine is. It was the year 2009. Taking the leap of faith I plunged into a 2 night trip. Things had come to a head on the personal front and I wanted to break out of the rut of work and home and head out to the safest place I knew . Goa!
I know. I know. Who in their right mind takes off to Goa alone? But that’s me. Never following the herd, I have made my own rules.
Coming back to the solo trip, it’s true almost everyone has some anxiety before setting out. But there is not a single woman out there who has regretted doing so.
Solo travelling is becoming more important and more popular for women today .It’s an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.
Although I have to say that the Indian woman is still a little conservative when compared to her western counterpart. India is an old school country, and where women’s safety is often a massive concern. Many women aren’t allowed to or are afraid to be travelling alone. However, things are changing. More and more strong, independent women are choosing to travel alone and do not let the patriarchy hold them down. Right from backpacking across India to hitch-hiking in another country altogether, these women are inspiring others to give up their fears and have major travel goals.
However there are a few Travel Tips I would recommend for Women Travelling Alone.
- Do Your Research! Choose your destination with Intent.
Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. I cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is. User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay (hotel/hostel/Airbnb) but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or a comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.
For example Scandinavia, Ireland and New Zealand,Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few countries/cities that are safe for women travellers.
- Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts.
Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Regularly call a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!
- Be Smart with Your Smartphone.
We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. So be smart and download the apps on your Smartphone before you take off. From navigation to interacting with locals who have shared interests it’s essential for every woman traveller. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Toilet finder etc are smart applications that will keep you covered.
Additionally do invest in your phones data plan before you leave so that you can use the data for your maps/Uber etc, without it pinching your pocket on buying a local sim card.
- Make Copies of Important Documents.
Make copies and additionally take pictures of your travel docs and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.
- Don’t be a fool.
You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including, not going down dark alleys on your own or talking to strangers, securing the locks on your purse or locking away your things are few things you need to keep in mind. Just be observant to the world and goings-on around you.
- Don’t flaunt your cash.
If you’re travelling alone, be careful of where and how you keep your cash/credit card. Make sure your purse/bag has a hidden pocket for your wallet. Pack light. Protect your documents, cards and cash
- Don’t Trust People Too Quickly.
There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours. Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden or when it gets too dark and you are far away from your hotel. Trust your gut, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Blend In.
This seems quite obvious, just try and blend in as much as you can. Do not wear too revealing outfits and pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around with your camera around your neck and your nose pressed into a map.
The first step is taking the first step. Yes, it’s scary and I’ve found that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away, but if you don’t do it you’ll always regret it. The bigger question is what if I don’t do it? You will be amazed where your strength will come from.
It’s no doubt wonderful to travel with your bunch of friends or your family, but I feel travelling solo once in a while nourishes your soul. I have taken many a solo trips since that day in 2009 and believe me I just can’t get enough.
Good luck with your life’s experiences!
PC: Personal; Getty Images
Each day that we are alive, a page of our life is turned over, never to reveal itself again.
While most of us concentrate on our career progressions, how many of us actually take time to let loose and work on those little things that keep us truly happy, such as travelling to new destinations, exploring and learning about new cultures.
Haven’t you ever sat down and excitedly wondered ‘my next holiday will be in …….! Well what are you waiting for? Quickly grab your pencil and paper and write down your very own bucket list of the places that you absolutely want to see. And then go and make that happen. For Real
So far I have been fortunate enough to experience and tick off my list
The Taj Mahal, India
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt,
The Grand Canyon,USA,
The Auckland Bridge, NZ,
The Milford sound ,NZ
The Christ Redeemer, Brazil.
But there are still a few places mentioned below which I definitely want to see and experience before I die.
- The Northern Lights
Right there on the top of my list is what every traveller’s bucket list should include. The Northern Lights, one of nature’s spectacular phenomenon. Believe me from what I have heard from friends and family who have visited them, it’s beyond magical. The Northern lights have the power to take your breath away. The dancing lights in the north and south hemispheres are nature’s way of providing us with a free light show. I just can’t wait to witness Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights in the North)
2. Cruises- Alaskan, Mediterranean. Caribbean – All of them? Maybe…Why not?
Sailing into the sunset is one of the best ways to experience life. Cruises are definitely more fun, have more entertainment, amazing food and offer more than one destination to explore. Caribbean cruises to Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique and St Kitts, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Mexico, Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago offer such a wide verity of destinations to explore.
Cotton-white views, untouched ice scapes, breathtaking scenery, wildlife and some spectacular glaciers, I mean who wouldn’t want to see the spectacular fjords, glaciers and mountains along Alaska’s coastline.
From gorgeous Italy to sunny Spain, Turkey and the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete to destinations such as Venice, Rome and Sicily in Italy, Monte Carlo, St. Tropez and Barcelona. Mediterranean cruises offer activities for the whole family on board the cruise liner and ashore.
3. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
If you have a travel bucket list, I can bet my last rupee that The Great Barrier Reef will make an appearance! And why shouldn’t it? This largest living organism in the world is an intricate maze of colourful corals, unique marine life, turquoise oceans, and white coral sands. Spanning over 1400 miles, the largest collection of coral reefs in the world, can be seen from space, and it’s among one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Can you think of anything more defining than swimming alongside a school of large fish? The Great Barrier Reef is the place to go diving, offering a one-of-a-kind display of underwater life.
4. Eastern Europe
What can I say about eastern Europe? Amazing cultures, budget friendly prices, unique cuisines, traditions and landscapes mixed with modern influences. And some of the “le crème de la crème” places such as Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania . These are just some of the places that are a delight for wine tasting, historical sites, castles, cathedrals, museums, breathtaking natural beauty, and well-preserved architectural gems dating back to medieval times. Of course there are so many more hidden gems that will guarantee a holiday of a lifetime.
Do you have a bucket list of your own? Do share in the comments
PC: Pexels,National Geographic,Viator
It’s that time of the year again. Summers are here and can the planning for a special family holiday be far behind? In fact some of the children have already decided where the family will go this year. They are after all the ones deciding the destinations ,aren’t they? While we all love taking the weekend or middle of the work /school days breaks, Summer vacays are a big deal. Like they say there are holidays and then there are the summer vacations.
While some destinations like Santorini and Phuket are done to death by over-crowding, people are always on the lookout for newer and unique places to vacay, places that bring out the storyteller in you.
So whether it’s the lofty peaks of the mountains, or the calm beaches, from adventure holiday spots to the sober quiet walking trails, that fascinate you, travelers will find that perfect holiday spot to quieten their wanderlust.
Listed below are some of the trending go-to places in 2019 in no particular preference.
Egypt – Egypt is emerging as the new art pilgrimage destination. The Egyptian Museum will have everything – bejeweled sandals, embroidered tunics etc. the Nile cruise with sailings of its boutique wooden boats, kitted out with art deco fixtures and leather deck chairs to sink into while gazing at Nubian sandstone cliffs and the teeming ancient tombs and temples of Luxor.
The Peloponnese, Greece– Forward thinking visitors are heading to the mainland and discovering the wide-open spaces of Greece. This laidback region has been a destination for wellness and fitness.
The Scottish Highlands -Think big skies, mind-blowing landscapes, superb food and hospitable people ,the most beautiful and romantic castles in the world – and you’ve got the Scottish Highlands.
The Turkish Riviera-An area of southwest Turkey, the most stunning part of Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts with its perfect sun, clean beaches, ultra luxury resorts, charming nature, ancient history, good entertainment and nightlife.
Valle De Guadalupe-Mexico’s wine country. This boulder-strewn bronze sweep of Baja California has been luring wine-lovers and weekending West Coasters for some time. Known as Mexico’s Napa Valley, Guadalupe is a weekend getaway just 2 hours from San Diego and is known for its architect-designed wine tasting rooms.
New Orleans -renowned for its distinct Jazz music, Creole cuisine, unique dialect, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The historic heart of the city is the French Quarter, known for its French and Spanish Creole architecture and vibrant nightlife along Bourbon Street.
Tahiti-the largest of islands that make up the French Polynesia. Tahiti is a barefoot beach-shack island with smart new places to stay.
Namibia -Sharp new lodges in the outback of the outback. With its otherworldly landscapes and elemental emptiness of the desert, of the dunes, of the savage Skeleton Coast, Namibia is famous for dune-climbing, beach-combing for whale bones and spotting seal colonies and Wilderness Safaris’
Patagonia– Quite literally at the end of the world. Patagonia has epic landscapes and with its increasing appeal being one of the least populated regions anywhere. With its unique wildlife, hiking trails and being a bird watchers delight, adventurers are drawn to the vast emptiness of its desert and the drama of its Lake District.
Singapore –Sound and light shows and flash designer shopping malls. Singapore is more than just a stopover city, for its tropical British colonial grandeur and futuristic architecture, for street food in the night markets and night safaris, sundowners in Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop pool, and for its Slings at Raffles.
Israel– Shiny new trains, airports, and hotels are all catapulting the ancient land into the modern age as the rest of the country catches up with vibrant Tel Aviv.
And of course there are some of the faithful holiday spots in India that are on most people’s summer to-do list. One can always spend a good 4-5 days exploring and relaxing at these below listed hill stations.
- Manali– Manali is a popular backpacking and one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in India. Nestled idyllically amidst the Pir Panjal & Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas, Manali has some cool adventure activities and holy places.
- Nainital– The quaint hill-station is still a very popular hill station in India. Though the list of places to visit in Nainital is pretty long, the Naini Lake and the Naina Devi Temple attract the maximum number of tourists.
- Mussorie– The varied flora and the lush green hilly lands attract a lot of tourists to the little fairyland. From shopping on Mall Road to cable car rides to Gun Hill, and from Kempty Falls to the Jwalaji Temple; the summer destination has a lot to offer to its visitors.
- Kanatal– If you are looking for an offbeat summer destination then Kanatal is a quaint village located at a distance of 38 km from Mussoorie. It is surrounded by lofty mountains and is lush green. People who love camping will love this place .
- Auli– Auli is a great town to be in during the summers. The majestic snow covered peaks and the lush green meadows are the highlights of this town. One can have a good time while indulging in many adventure activities. Enjoy the local sightseeing, delicious local cuisine, and wander around in this quaint town.
- Shimla– The capital city of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is a favourite summer tourist destination. The cool temperatures make it an ideal spot to go to, as it is easily accessible and have a lot of tourist attractions.
- Panchmarhi– The only hill station in Madhya Pradesh, Pachmarhi is among the lesser-known summer holiday destinations in India. The decently high hills, forest gorges, stunning waterfalls, prehistoric caves, and rock paintings at Pachmarhi attract a lot of tourists every year.
- Munnar– A perfect destination to spend your summer holidays in India, Munnar is famous for its salubrious climate, lush hills, and the vast expanse of tea plantations. With a myriad of things to do in Munnar, the hill station from God’s Own Country – Kerala –makes your vacations an ultimate peaceful and rejuvenating affair.
- Kodaikannal– Kodaikanal is to Bangaloreans what Nainital is to Delhiites or what Darjeeling is to Kolkatans. Meadows, grasslands, waterfalls, valleys, forests, and lakes of the quaint hill station of Tamil Nadu make it one of the most popular summer holiday destination in India from the peninsula.
- Ooty– Udhagamandalam, or Ooty, Located in the Nilgiri Blue Mountain hills, is often called the Queen of Hills. The famous toy train takes you through the nearby lush hills. The little hill station also offers a lot of places to visit and adventure activities to its visitors.
- Goa– Goa is India’s most accessible destination and is eternally popular with tourists from both within India and across the world. It boasts laid-back vibes, some beautiful beaches, and a thriving party scene. Goa remains utterly charming, and fully deserving of its prominent place as the jewel in the crown of Indian tourism.
- Mahabaleshwar– Perched atop a height of 1,372 m above the sea level, Mahabaleshwar is another ultimate getaway. The breath-taking views of the valleys and mountains, the colonial buildings, verdant forests, sparkling rivers, sonorous waterfalls, and Pratapgarh hillfort have been major crowd pullers. The scenic hill station is, without doubt, an ideal retreat away from the hustle-bustle and the punishing weather of Mumbai.
- Darjeeling and Kalimpong are the best entries from the east of India. But what gives Kalimpong an edge over Darjeeling is that it is untouched and less frequently visited by people. Sitting on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River, the hill station is a perfect summer destination owing to its pleasant climate, magnificent views, and proximity to other tourist attractions. River rafting and visiting buddhist monestrey is a major draw in Kalimpong.
These are just some of the places you can enjoy this summer. The world is too large to just fit into a page.
So enjoy your dream summer vacation and make some memories to remember forever!
PS: Don’t forget to carry that camera. 🙂
PC: Lonely Planet,Getty Images, Viator