Archive for November, 2007

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Spend New Year’s Strutting in Miami

November 29, 2007

King Mango StrutPlanning a trip around a wacky or exciting event can be a lot of fun. For example, if you’re interested in seeing Boston you can go at any time and have fun. But go for the Boston Marathon, or the 4th of July concert at the Hatchshell, or any Red Sox vs. Yankees game at Fenway, and you’ll see a whole other side to the city.

So if Miami is someplace you’ve thought about checking out, do it for New Year’s. The weather is bound to be better there than in Times Square, and you’ll be able to enjoy the King Mango Strut.

“A who in the what now?” you ask. I’ll let the organizers tell you:

What started as a rejected group from the King Orange Bowl Parade has grown into the wackiest event in south Florida (not counting the elections). The King Mango Strutis the most fun event Miami has to offer, full of irreverent, creative and wacky people and lots of opportunity to make fun of everything and anything. There is no better place for the strut than in Miami, Floriduh.

This year’s Grand Marshalls are Mimi Davila and Laura Di Lorenzo, the Aventura girls who you may have seen on YouTube with their “Fergalicious” parody, “Chongalicious“. You can hardly turn down the chance to see them, can you?

Get your student airfare, your feather boa, and your sunscreen, and have a New Year’s adventure!

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Plan Ahead for Theme Park Adventures

November 28, 2007

Harry Potter theme parkMaybe you’re already planning to be one of the first in line when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens its doors at the Universal Orlando Resort in 2009. But if you’re really serious about your theme parks, consider delaying your trip by a few months and doing an around the world trip to take in a few more.

Universal has just announced another new park, this one a bigger and fancier version of the Hollywood-themed Universal Studios, to open in 2010. Location? South Korea, about 20 miles south of Seoul. From there it will be just a hop and a skip to Tokyo Disneyland, and then you may as well head south to Australia’s Gold Coast to do the full theme park tour. They have Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World, Movie World, and Dreamworld.

Still haven’t had enough? Take another long flight to reach Ratanga Junction in Capetown, South Africa. Then swing up north again for a stop in Paris and (no, not Disneyland Paris), Parc Asterix, based on the popular French cartoon character.

Alright, so that might be a lot for one trip, especially if you don’t have $10K or so to drop all at once, but for a tired backpacker, or a traveler who’s feeling a little museum-ed out, a day of rollercoasters, costumes, and parades can be a nice treat. Always check for student discounts as well, so that you’ll have a little extra to spend on postcards.

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See New York’s Naked Cowboy

November 27, 2007

He’s not fully naked, but in winter weather he may as well be. *Brrr*

If you’re planning a trip to New York, Times Square and the Naked Cowboy are just a couple of the sites you have to see. There’s also Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, the many museums and galleries, Broadway, and you have to eat at a real New York hot dog stand.

Marrakech HotelWith all the shopping and activities available in the city, you don’t want to spend a dollar more than you have to on a place to stay. Luckily, even though the U.S. isn’t as hostel-happy as Europe or Australia, New York does have some really nice options. It will cost you more than sleeping in the subway, but you’ll wake up smelling a lot better, and some hostels have fun themes and offer extras like Internet service, pool tables, and movie rooms.

Have a look at what’s available, then grab a friend and book your big city weekend.

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Be a High School Travel Ambassador

November 26, 2007

The older you get, the more freedom you have to travel independently, but that doesn’t mean that the best student travel experiences are limited to those over 18.

The People to People Student Ambassador Program was founded by President Eisenhower in 1956 and has sent thousands of junior high and high school students abroad in the 50 years since then. The focus of the program isn’t just travel, but cultural exchange, and many of their adventures include homestays with local families, meetings with influential politicians and business people, and visits to significant organizations and landmarks.

Another difference with this program is that you don’t just sign up and pay the price like you do with tour company; you have to apply and go through an interview. Don’t let that stop you though. If you have a passion to travel around the world, you’re probably just who they’re looking for. (I’m pretty sure I bumbled my way through my interview many years ago, but I still got to spend some of the best weeks of my life traveling through Australia one summer and Europe the next.)

The Program has drawn some big names over the years (not just me), so you’ll be in good company. According to their website, “Walt Disney created the “It’s a Small World” attraction in 1964 after his participation in the People to People International White House conference. This attraction has now introduced over 250 million people to the concept that we may have our differences, but underneath we all share the same core values.”

Student Ambassadors can travel to Asia, Australia, Europe, or even to Canada (it’s always good to stay friendly with the neighbors) and trips last two to three weeks. Teachers are also needed to lead the student groups, so if you know a teacher who might be interested, let them know about the program too. The fees include all of your meals and transportation, and if you come up with some creative fundraising ideas, you can at least reduce the amount coming out of your pocket.

You’re never too young to get out there and develop a lifelong travel habit. Good luck, and have fun!
 

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Travel to Be Thankful For

November 23, 2007

If you’re searching for a travel adventure that will give you more than a suntan, consider teaching English abroad. It requires less of a committment than, say, the Peace Corps, it’s a great way to spend your first year out of college (and adds something special to your resume), and depending on the program and location you choose, you should be able to work in some short side trips during your time in another country. You could also bookend the trip with longer travels, or make your teaching trip the first part of a longer journey, working to earn money as you go.

Most countries won’t let you just show up and start teaching, but if you go through a reputable company in the States, you can get your visa and any necessary credentials taken care of, and some will help you arrange a place to live before you go. 

Whether you plan to apply your teaching experience to a classroom job back home, or if your life goes in an entirely different direction, living as a member of a community and interacting with locals every day, having a great impact on their lives, the experience will likely mean more to you than a week on the beach in Cancun ever could (although that would be a great way to relax on your way home).

Check in with i-to-i TEFL, Volunteer Abroad, or, for Canadians, SWAP.ca for more details. 

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Perusing Peru: Adventures on the Inca Trail

November 20, 2007

Here’s another contest that can lead to free travel. It’s like people actually *want* you to get out and see the world, for your sake as much as theirs. Did you have any idea there were so many travel philanthropists?

For this one, all you have to do is stop by atcadventure.com and have a look at their destination of the month. They have some excellent tours – the kind where you actually get off the bus and see things up close and personal, and not just through a window. Some longer trips may be pricey, but they can also give you a good dose of adventure and culture on a budget.

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Another Chance to Travel Free from Lonely Planet

November 20, 2007

Are you a fabulously entertaining writer? Do you dream of making your living by traveling from city to city, continent to continent, recording your many thoughtful or comic observations?

Start your travel writing career with a bang by entering Lonely Planet’s Bluelist competition (and hopefully winning it). You have until 3pm AEST on 18 January 2008 to submit your best travel list and impress the judges. Think about what knowledge you want to share with other travelers, and get to writing!