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Travel: The Ultimate Personal Development Tool

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man sitting on a mountain while traveling
With the explosion of websites, podcasts, and conferences teaching you how to improve your life (this one being no exception), it’s clear many of us want to become a better version of ourselves. We all want to be the person we imagine we could be if given just the right circumstances.

We want to learn more languages.

We want to be less awkward in social situations.

We want to eat better.

We want to read more.

We want to work out more.

We want to travel more.

We want to be more active.

We want to be more independent.

The list goes on and on!!

So often we go through life without really thinking about where we are heading. One day turns into the next and all those things we desire to do and become seem to pile up while we look for the perfect day to start.

Over the last year, I’ve had my ups and downs and have been working hard to make changes to my life. It takes a lot of work to change. Even one or two changes to change your life requires concentrated effort and persistence. But to make a hundred changes? That is biting off more than you can chew. No one has the mental energy or time to do that.

That’s why most new year’s resolutions fail. We create a long list of things to accomplish in the new year but, in the end, most of us give up, overwhelmed by all we want to do.

So when people tell me all the ways they want to improve their lives, my advice to them is to travel for one simple reason:

Travel solves a plethora of self-improvement goals in one fell swoop.

Picture this: You’ve booked a flight to Kiev. You don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian. And, to top it off, you’re going alone. You land in Kiev. Now, you have to navigate signs in a different language, ask people who probably don’t speak your language well for directions (maybe pantomime and point at maps indicating where you want to go), get to your hostel, make friends in the dorm (no one wants to be alone), and get around and sightsee the city during your stay.

By the time you leave, you’ve learned how to communicate even when you don’t speak the language, figured out how to navigate an unknown place, learned to turn strangers into friends, learned how to be independent, and solved a slew of problems that came up as you made your way around a foreign country.

During one trip, you got better at communication, problem solving, languages, social situations, and improved your confidence in your ability to do new things and handle unexpected situations.

Why? Because you had to. You had no other choice.

And you didn’t even know you were doing it.

People always ask me about the moment I realized I “changed.” While there are moments in your life that ripple through the years, for me, there was no single instance that I can point to that turned me from a shy introvert who never traveled to someone able to plop down in any city, find my way, and turn strangers into friends. It was a process that happened slowly over time.

Before I set out on my first trip around the world, I had never really lived outside my state, hadn’t traveled much, had a small group of friends, and had only been in one relationship.

I was a nerdy introvert. While the old parts of me are still there (I’ll still gravitate towards my friends at a party rather than talk to someone I don’t know), it’s become a lot easier for me to talk to new people when there’s no one familiar around. While I still run through all the “what ifs” when I get on a plane to a new destination, when I land I hit the ground running (and wonder why I was ever worried in the first place).

Traveling forced me out of my routine. It helped me become independent, take more risks, be ok with change, get better with people, learn more, and be more versatile.

Travel is not some panacea. The baggage you have comes with you on the road. There is no place far enough away to escape your problems. But what travel does is give you the space to be someone else and improve your life. It allows you to say “What would the new me do?” and then do it – without worrying that someone you know might notice. It puts you into situations that force you to better yourself. It won’t instantly solve your problems — only you can do that — but at least, on the road, you have a clean slate to try.

As the new year approaches and you create your list of resolutions, cross them all off, and just write one down: to travel alone more.

It is the ultimate way to become a better, more confident you.

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Destinations

Safe Travel Spots For Travel Currently

  

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International travel broadens the mind and brings people closer together. That’s why it’s an ideal option for parents that want to give their children a life-changing experience. But, you have to be careful. There are plenty of places in the world that aren’t safe for family vacations. That’s why we put together this list of international destinations that are great and safe options for the whole family.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand is known for being a beautiful and friendly country. And Auckland is its crown jewel in that department. The abundant wildlife alone makes it worth the visit. But other major attractions include Frodo’s home from the “Lord Of The Rings” series, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It truly makes for a safe and fun trip for the whole family!

IRELAND

Ireland is every kid’s dream. Who hasn’t fantasized about being a king or queen in a castle?! Well, Ireland has enough castles for 10 family vacations. And you can even take your kids to the pub! It’s common practice there so it’s perfectly safe. Plus it’s a great way to experience the local culture. Personally, I can’t wait to visit Ireland.

 

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Iceland is just about as safe as it gets, making the top ten on both the Global Peace Index and the World Economic Forum’s lists for safety and security. This is due in large part to its incredibly low crime rate. But there’s much more to take in when visiting Reykjavik, including the Sage Museum, natural thermal baths, and tiny Icelandic horses. Who doesn’t love tiny horses?!

MAURITIUS

Mauritius is another country that was ranked highly on the Global Peace Index for safety and security and is the highest of the African countries on the list. This is due mostly to its distance from the rest of the African continent, which is known for not being safe. It is also this distance that makes it the island getaway vacation that families dream of. Be sure to check out the aquarium and snorkel around the reefs while you’re there!

 

THIMPHU

Tucked away in the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan is a country lost in time. They just added their first traffic lights a few years ago! But they’re also the second-ranked Asian country on the Global Peace Index list of safe and secure countries. So it’s bound to be a peaceful and educational trip for you and your family. Be sure to check out Buddha Dordenma, the largest Buddha statue in the world. 

SINGAPORE

Singapore is easily the smallest place on this list, measuring it at just 50 square miles. But it has more than enough fun for the family. Not to mention it’s all the way up at #6 on the World Economic Forum’s list of safe and secure countries! Top attractions include an abundant aviary, nighttime wildlife tours, and an indoor snow park. Definitely worth seeing before the kids head off to college. 


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Destinations

International Traveling On A Budget During Covid

  

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Most people wish they took more vacations. I know I do. But traveling is so darn expensive! How am I supposed to be able to afford a trip anywhere, let alone somewhere out of the country? Well have no fear, Jetlaggin is here! Check these five international destinations that are much cheaper than you think.

MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

Medellin is an affordable travel destination in Colombia as it’s actually its third major behind Cartagena and Bogota. The weather is perfect nearly all year long, and ever since the days of Pablo Escobar, the city has put a strong focus on rebuilding the city and attracting a new batch of young, hip, cosmopolitan inhabitants. This means plenty of beautiful museums and art galleries. Hotels only cost around $70 a night, and meals shouldn’t cost much more than $15. These low prices allow for two people to enjoy five days in Medellin for around just $800.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Some people are wary of traveling to Mexico these days. But it’s capital, Mexico City, is still a beautiful vacation destination that you can enjoy on the cheap. Whether it’s hotels, restaurants, or the many art and cultural attractions that can be found throughout the city, there are surprisingly affordable options for just about everything. Just be smart and explore your options. It’s not hard to find a hotel room for a hundred bucks a night, and you can easily live off delicious street food for your whole trip. Not to mention the public transportation system in the city is cheap and extremely accessible. You could easily take a two-person, seven-day vacation to Mexico City for around $1,000.

BARCELONA, SPAIN

Barcelona is a truly beautiful city in a beautiful country. But you’ll have to be careful when attempting to pull off an affordable trip there, as the city is flooded with tourists in the summer. Hotel rates are on the higher side, averaging around $150 per night. But there are so many things to be enjoyed in Barcelona for free, particularly the beaches. As for meals, as long as you stay away from the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas area, you should be able to find plenty of cheap eating options. You could enjoy a lovely four day, two-person vacation to Barcelona for around $1,100-$1,300.

SOUTHERN VIETNAM

Vietnam still has a slightly negative connotation around it these days, but make no mistake, it is a fascinating country that is ideal for a cheap vacation. Flights will be your biggest expense, as they don’t exactly run cheap. But if you’re ok living off street food for most of your trip and taking a lot of public transportation, once you’re there you don’t have to spend all that much money. Some of the best attractions revolve around exploring, including the Cu Chi Tunnels used during the Vietnam War, the city of Can Tho off the Mekong Delta, and the Cai Rang Floating Market. You can pull off a two-person, five-day vacation to Vietnam for around $1,400.

QUITO, ECUADOR

Quito is one of the often forgotten gems of South America. It offers incredible outdoor and hiking activities, historic relics and architecture from thousands of years ago, and a bustling urban area with a great nightlife scene. Also be sure to take in the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, the Museo de la Ciudad, and the Museo Casa del Alabado. And if you have enough time, head out of the city to check out the Cotopaxi National Park for some of the best scenery around. A whole week-long, two-person vacation would cost just around $2,000.


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Amazing Agritourism Getaways For Foodies

  

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A recent trend in traveling is agritourism destinations. Agritourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. These agritourism getaways are perfect for any foodie. 

Pick grapes in Italy

Perfect for active foodies who want to boost their wine savvy while reveling in a little old-world glamour. Housed in a 10th-century castle, Castello di Casole is surrounded by acres of olive groves and vineyards. Tuscan hills provide an idyllic backdrop for hiking, biking and horseback riding. There’s even a spa, in a converted wine cellar, naturally. Book in September and help harvest grapes with the resident vintner. After wine tasting, take a cooking class and learn how to use your fresh-picked fruit in local specialties like focaccia all’uva, a sweet grape bread.

 

Forage in Maine

Get a taste of small-town New England charm at Hidden Pond, a rustic-chic resort comprising 36 cottages in picturesque Kennebunkport, Maine. Vegetables grown on the resort’s organic farm appear on the menu at Earth, Hidden Pond’s popular restaurant. Sit on the patio for a view of the vegetable garden and pond. Join Justin Walker, Earth’s rising-star executive chef, on an expedition into the woods near the hotel to forage for black trumpet and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, wild cranberries and black cherries.

 

Make chocolate in Belize

Perfect for explorer types who want a hands-on experience without truly roughing it. Recently renovated by the duo behind Belcampo organic restaurants and cattle farms in California, Belcampo Belize boasts a 3,000-acre sustainable farm, free-range pigs and a distillery. The surrounding rainforest and nearby Gulf of Honduras give the resort a lush, exotic feel, but its eco-chic rooms and spa are all about comfort. Choose from a chocolate-making class, diving for lobster with the chef or foraging for hearts of palm, for your next salad, with a local.

 

Harvest vegetables in California

Perfect for veggie and luxury lovers looking to eat healthy, get fit, and log some hours at a top-notch spa. Legendary for its spa treatments and zen vibe, the Golden Door in Escondido, California, encompasses a 20-mile network of hiking trails, organic olive and citrus groves, chicken coops and a 3-acre biodynamic farm. Pick pumpkins, pomegranates and more, then learn how to use them in some of the spa’s most popular dishes. Or suit up with executive chef Greg Frey Jr. and learn about the inner workings of a honeybee hive.

 

Craft cocktails in Hawaii

Perfect for travelers who want to relax, recharge and toast to a day in paradise, not spend all day in a kitchen. Perched on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Hotel Wailea in Maui has its own organic garden and two eateries committed to using local ingredients. Try canoeing or kite boarding, or just lounge by the pool. Either way, sunset cocktails are in order, the resort makes theirs with fresh juices and homemade syrups. Hop in a golf cart headed to Hotel Wailea’s mango and avocado orchards, then return for a poolside mixology class, where you’ll whip up drinks using fruit and herbs from the gardens.

 

Fish in the Bahamas

Perfect for fishing enthusiasts and ocean lovers seeking a barefoot-style escape from tech overload. Three miles of unspoiled white beaches and no in-room Internet or TV make Kamalame Cay, a private island getaway in the Bahamas, the perfect place to unplug, and eat well. The resort grows its own produce and herbs, bakes its own bread and features fresh-caught fish on its menus. Take a boat out on the open waters to fish for snapper and grouper; then head to the kitchen, where a chef will help you cook your catch for dinner.


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