Archive for April, 2008

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Bus Obscura: Showing You the World Like Never Before

April 30, 2008

Bus ObscuraI’ve said before that sometimes travel is where you find it. You aren’t always going to be able to afford the safari in Africa, the bungee jumping tour of New Zealand, or the month of Eurailing around Europe. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit at home, content with trips to the mall or the grocery store.

So how about looking at the world upside-down and backwards? From inside a camera? That moves? You can do it on the Bus Obscura. The Bus Obscura is a common school bus that has been transformed into a pinhole camera. Or hundreds of cameras, actually. The windows are blacked out (except where the driver needs to see – there’s a black curtain hanging behind him to shut out the light to the rest of the bus) and there are hundreds of pinholes made in them. The images that come through are reflected onto screens, so as the bus drives, you’re surrounded by all these little upside-down, backwards images, just what you would see from inside a camera.

The concept was created by artist Simon Lee in New York. Over the past few years, he’s created many buses, trams and vans for the project and they’ve traveled Africa, Europe, and the U.S.

Most recently the bus stopped in the San Francisco area and I got a 20-minute tour of my hometown like I’d never seen it before. The sky was down, the grass was up, the music was haunting, and when i finally stepped off the bus I felt as if I’d been in another universe. It was quick, but it was just what I needed to refresh my sense of adventure and excitement for new experiences and destinations.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a list of other cities the bus is visiting. The Bus Obscura seems to have a schedule obscura. Keep an eye on your local event listings though, and if the bus is anywhere near you, take a free ride. If it’s not, have a look at what others have seen through the lens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWbo4WsLmyg 

Or maybe you can come up with your own new way to look at things.

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“Life’s An Adventure” Photo Contest

April 28, 2008

Attention student adventure travelers: Here’s your chance to show off and get something for it.

National Geographic Adventure magazine’s photo contest is open to legal residents of the United States, excluding Puerto Rico, age 18 and older. Submissions must be in by May 2, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. to be eligible, and you can get all the details on their site.

GiraffeWhat’s that? You don’t have any photos of you doing something incredibly adventurous? Well then it’s about time you did. Start planning your travel adventure now and be ready for the next photo contest that comes up. How about a week of surf camp in Australia? Two weeks of extreme sports and hobbit-spotting in New Zealand? Three weeks observing the wildlife in Africa? Talk to our buddies at Travel CUTS and the Adventure Travel Company. They’ll have you flying, jumping, rafting, diving and more in no time, all at affordable student prices.

 

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Celebrate ANZAC Day With An Aussie Party

April 24, 2008

Australian flagYou don’t have the money to travel to Australia for an ANZAC parade? No worries. Host a party at your place and let your minds and spirits head Down Under while your bodies stay where they are.

First, hit up your local Cost Plus for some Tim Tams – Australia’s best cookies. (My favorites, anyway. If you want to look like an expert, bite off both ends then slurp your hot chocolate, using the cookie like a straw.

Next, try your hand at baking some Lamingtons or a Pavlova, two traditional Aussie desserts. Top your Pavlova with Kiwi if you want to include New Zealand as well, and you should. It’s only fair.

If you want a main course as well, go for meat pies, or sausage rolls, or damper and billy tea. Top it off with some Bundaberg rum, or a case of VB if you can find it. If not, find anything flavored with passionfruit.

Opera HouseLoad up your iPod or other DJ-ing device with Kylie Minogue, Men at Work, Crowded House, iOTA, Karnivool, Killing Heidi, Midnight Oil, AC/DC, Silverchair, Flight of the Conchords, Howie Day and INXS, and you’ve got an international event on your hands. (Shags in swags optional.) 

Travel is a state of mind as much as a hobby. Put your mind in multi-cultural mode and your feet will soon follow. If after the festivities you can’t stand to stay home for another single second and are ready to make a trip to Australia or New Zealand no matter what, then talk to your friendly Travel CUTS agent.

Travel CUTS has excellent student travel deals to both locations, they can get you signed up for and ISIC and a hotel membership, and they can walk you through all the Kiwi and Oz Experience hop-on, hop-off bus routes you might be interested in.

Pass me a Vegemite sandwich.

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Airplane Must-Have: Crayons and Things That Go Vrooom

April 23, 2008

crayonsIf you’re a seasoned traveler, or if you’ve done your studying up on how to be a prepared traveler, you probably have a well-packed carry-on bag for long flights. You’ve got your liquids (all under 4oz.) in a Ziplock bag. You have the smallest possible mp3 played stashed with your favorite tunes. You have a book or a couple of magazines, a light snack, and maybe even a change of socks so you can feel somewhat fresh when you land.

But did you pack crayons? Scrap paper? Stickers or a small plush toy? No? Well then how in the world are you going to keep the four-year-old next to you entertained while his mother is out cold and he’s bouncing around in his seat?

This was my dilemma on a recent flight. It was disappointing mostly because I have a pretty good track record for being seated next to attractive, single men close to my age, so I’m used to chatting flirtatiously with my neighbor, not babysitting him.

But, a good traveler has to be prepared for anything, so I did what I could. Mom had luckily come pretty prepared with some of these crazy markers that only make a color on special paper, so that the kid can’t draw all over furniture, which is smart. She also had a couple of books and some headphones so that little Kyle could watch the kids’ movie, but his attention span only lasted about 15 minutes on one activity and then he turned his attention to poking me in the arm to see if I really was asleep or if I was faking. I was not faking.

I decided to be a decent sort of person, so Kyle and I chatted about his shoes, which featured Lightening McQueen, we talked about how now the plane was up in the air, but soon it would land on the ground, and that meant the plane was going down, not up. And no, we would not hit any trees.

It wasn’t the worst situation. I was almost thrown up on once during a landing, and that was far more horrible than having to explain “up” and “down” over and over again, but I do wish that I had thought to pack an emergency kid kit for this kind of situation. Learn from my mistake and always reserve one of your bag’s compartments for goodies you can share with a little friend.

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Eiffel Tower Not Getting Ruined After All

April 22, 2008

Eiffel TowerLooks like there’s no need to panic. The plans to improve the Eiffel Tower with a little hat/observation deck that were widely reported as being approved and ready for construction, were actually just a suggestion, and there will be no changes made to our favorite antenna:

http://www.architectmagazine.com/industry-news.asp?articleID=674095§ionID=1012

This doesn’t mean you can put off a trip to Paris though. You should still get there ASAP before all the crêpes go organic and the éclairs are made fat-free.

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Plan a Summer Voluntour

April 21, 2008

It’s an election year and people are shouting about change and learning to make a difference. Going green has never been more popular, or more important, and anyone with a conscience is thinking about ways they can help out. This summer, in between sleeping, sunning and sandcastling, how about traveling to take part in a volunteer project?

Volunteer travel is a great way to dive into a culture, get up close and personal with locals, and feel more than just broke and hungover on your way back home. There are dozens of programs available, so whether your interest is in health care, construction or education, you’ll be able to find something that excites you. 

For an experience that will let you combine good times and good deeds, consider spending time in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, or Tanzania with the Volunteer Abroad program. You can work with kids in a local school, support conservation efforts, help rebuild homes and schools in regions that have been hit by floods or earthquakes, assist in a medical clinic, or pick out one of the many other worthwhile projects available.

“Volunteer Abroad is owned by the Canadian Federation of Students (a not-for-profit student organization founded in 1981 that currently unites more than 450, 000 colleges and students across Canada). As part of this student movement, Volunteer Abroad connects motivated people with not-for-profit organizations, communities and government agencies in need of assistance around the world.”

Projects last between 4 and 24 weeks, making it simple to combine a shorter project with a backpacking trip you’re planning, or make the volunteer experience the main part of your itinerary. Volunteer Abroad will help you plan your travel arrangements, including any day trips, weekend activities, or other destinations you want to add to your adventure.

Visit www.volunteerabroad.ca for more information.

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Go Around the World, Without Being Taken to the Cleaners

April 17, 2008

There are a few ways to get around the world in one trip, making several stops in far-off exotic locations. You could do something like Semester at Sea, cruising along at a good pace and checking out the sites at al the ports of call. You could get a sugar daddy/mamma to fund your dream trip. You could join the military… although that may not lead to much of a vacation right now.

Or, you can try to find a good deal on a RTW (round the world) ticket that will allow you to shape your itinerary and get where you want to go without paying for lots of expensive one-way flights. If the sugar daddy thing doesn’t work out, I highly recommend this option.

It’s pretty easy with smaller trips to hop online and search for a good fare, but RTW travel is a little different. Your costs will depend on which airline you choose, who their partners are, how many stops you want to make, where, and what time of year you plan on going.  You also need to take other forms of transportation into account. Maybe you want to fly to London then get a Eurail pass to visit several countries before flying out of Rome. Maybe you want to land in Sydney then do an Oz Experience trip up to Cairns, or a working holiday in Melbourne, before flying on to Auckland.

Really, what you need is a travel agent. An agent with RTW experience can help you put all the little bits together, help you decide what kind of discounts you can use to save some money (ISIC, IYIC, or hostel membership), and make sure that you give yourself enough time for each leg of the journey so that one missed flight doesn’t spell disaster for the rest of your trip.

Have a look at some sample fares from Travel CUTS and then give them a call to see what kind of incredible student adventure package they can put together for you. A travel plan this big needs the advice of an expert, and if you can find a student travel expert to help you , even better.