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Top Emerging Travel Destinations 2015

TOP EMERGING TRAVEL DESTINATIONS 2015

After traveling to 75 countries, I wanted to share the most amazing places I have experienced that are considered to be emerging destinations.

I always complete my travels on a $50/day or less budget (including international airfare) – and want to really spread the message that others can do the same!

Following my most recent travels for 9 months across 21 countries, I decided it was time to share all my advice and tips with others to help them travel.  After helping over 100 people plan, I decided to create a startup that focuses exclusively on exposing travelers to the lost cost options and carriers you cannot find online today.  The results to date are incredible, we’ve been able to get people anywhere in the world for an average of 40% less than what they would have paid without our local knowledge and sources.  This is all being built into an online platform that you will be able to access and use to book your next international adventure.

To join our prelaunch and be notified when the site is available – visit prelaunch.unboundly.com – right now we are even giving away a free flight anywhere to get one lucky winner started on their journey!

 

1. MYANMAR – ISLAND OF INWA, CLOSE TO MANDALAY

Traveling in Myanmar

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2. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA – DERVISH HOUSE BLAGAJ NEAR MOSTAR

Traveling Europe Off the Beaten Path

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3. LAOS – ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE & TREKKING, NEAR LUANG PRABANG

Luang Prabang, Laos
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4. NAMIBIA – ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

Top 5 Safaris in Africa - DNM List

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5. CHINA – MT HUASHAN – THE INFAMOUS DEADLIEST HIKE IN THE WORLD, NEAR XIAN

Mount Huashan, China

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6. SRI LANKA – THE VIEW FROM SIGIRIYA ROCK, NEAR DAMBULLA

Northern Sri Lanka

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7. CROATIA – PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK, NEAR ZADAR

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

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8. TURKEY – CAPPADOCIA, ROCK FORMATIONS AND BALLOON RIDES, IN THE CENTER OF THE COUNTRY

Cappadocia, Turkey

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9. PORTUGAL – SINTRA, JUST OUTSIDE OF LISBON

Sintra, Portugal

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10. SLOVENIA – SMALL TOWN OF PIRAN, ON THE COAST NORTH OF CROATIA

Slovenia

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Thanks for reading and of course, feel free to share your thoughts.  There are TONS of other amazing emerging destinations, so if you want a longer list, contact me, I would be happy to provide any information you seek!

Happy travels :)

 

Travel Tips

Mount Huashan – What to Know

We’ve compiled a series of tips, photos and videos to get you all the information needed to make the best of your trip to Mount Huashan (located in Huayin, China – just East of Xi’an) – I promise you will not regret it!  To read more about our time on the Plankroad, you can view the full story here.

The most valuable information to know before you go:

  1. This particular hike is officially called the “Plankroad in the Sky” – remember this when you look for signage on the mountain.
  2. You do not have to hike the 6 hours up the mountain to get to the Plankroad – there are actually two cable cars that can take you up in less than 30 minutes.  The easiest route is to take the NEWER – West cable car – and then hike the 30-40 minutes from the West Peak to the South Peak where the Plankroad is located. Then follow “Plankroad in the Sky” signage and you will arrive at the site in no time.
  3. The Plankroad itself only takes 30 minutes or so to complete. It consists of a staircase down which is metal rods in rock (with large gaps at times), becomes stone cut outs on the cliffside, then comes the actual plank and lastly more stone cut outs leading to the small temple.  When you are done you must turn around and go back exactly the way you came.
  4. Know that the Plankroad is a TWO WAY trail and you will be required to pass on the outside of others at times.  If you are truly afraid of heights you may want to be mentally prepare for this fact.
  5. You do not need to bring or purchase a harness.  You will rent a mandatory harness upon arrival at the Plankroad and it currently costs $5 USD.
  6. Gloves are not really necessary for the Plankroad itself and in certain seasons you may actually feel uncomfortable with the heat.

Prices and instructions on where to purchase as of Summer 2014 are as follows:

  1. Tickets for everything other than the actual harness itself can be purchased at the Mount Huashan visitors center.  To get onto the mountain you will need the following:
    1. Entrance to the mountain is $30 USD ($15 USD with a valid student ID)
    2. West Cable Car Fees – $6 USD each way for the bus and $22 USD each way for the cable car itself ($16 USD with a valid student ID)
    3. North Cable Car Fees – $3 USD each way for the bus and $13 USD each way for the cabe car itself ($12 USD with a valid student ID)
  2. If you choose to hike the mountain it will take anywhere from 4-6 hours and is extremely strenuous.  We only recommend this for those in very good shape.  It is also advisable to hike the mountain at night (really early in the morning) and catch the sunrise.  The trail up is illuminated, so no worries there.  You can also opt to spend the night on the mountain itself, as there are several lodging options available.
  3. The cable cars down stop operating at 7pm, so be sure to time accordingly if you plan to get down that way. You can chose to take one cable car up and the other down, just buy a one way at the bottom and then get a return on the mountain when you are ready to head down.
  4. The are food options all over the mountain – prices are high, but good to know that they are there.  Bathrooms also exist at every major peak and sometimes in between, so it is pretty convenient.
  5. Plankroad in the Sky can have a backup of adventurers waiting to get on the dangerous hike, so you may have a wait.  They only let a certain number of visitors on the path at a time (for safety reasons of course) and they also close it down at a certain time of day (around 5pm), so if you have your heart set on the trail, you may want to arrive on the earlier side.  We also heard that weekends and holidays can get even busier, so plan accordingly!
  6. If you want to make it to all the peaks on the mountain, plan for 4-6 hours depending on your speed.  David and I decided to run from the West peak all the way to the North peak, which we were told is a 3 hour hike.  We made it in 35 minutes, so it is possible that you could do all the peaks in less time, but I wouldn’t necessarily advise it considering the dangerous nature of many parts of the trails.
  7. Getting there and away – you can choose to visit the mountain as a day trip from Xi’an (by bus) or spend some time in the town of Huayin (accessible by train or bus several times daily – approximately 2 hrs).

If you are planning to visit Mount Huashan and have any questions – please feel free to drop us a line!

Adventure

Rainbow Mountains – Zhangye Danxia Geological Formation

David and I recently visited the famous Rainbow Mountains, otherwise knows as Zhangye Danxia Geological Formation – near Zhangye, China.  These mountains look like they’ve been painted with broad brush strokes with lively colors zigzagging across the rolling hills (mostly in warm shades).  With each hill a new pattern emerges and across the range dozens of differing patterns can be detected.

There are many pictures online that depict additional colors (cool colors as well) and these are not all that truthful I hate to say…the mountains do change color slightly with different lighting (sunrise and sunset), but at all times of day they roughly resemble what I have captured in these images.

The mountains are truly remarkable and a one-of-a-kind experience.  The surrounding ranges do not resemble this color palette at all – and they almost seem to appear out of nowhere when you arrive.  It’s like a scene from a Dr. Seuss book, your eyes almost do not believe it :)  Oh and did I mention, we saw a real rainbow in the sky while exploring the Rainbow Mountains?  That was cool!

To get to Zhangye Danxia Geological Formation:

First travel to Zhangye, which is a town on the Silk road accessible from Xi’an, Pingliang or Jiayuguan.  Upon arrival in the town you can simply hop in a cab and show them the Google translation for Zhangye Danxia Geological Formation in Mandarin.  Any cabbie will happily take you out to the site (45 mins from the town) and wait for you.  The cab itself will run about $30 for 4-5 hours and the site itself is about $6/pp.  The site ticket includes admission and a shuttle bus that drops you off at the main viewing points (although you can additionally venture off on your own at any point in time as well).

Travel Tips

Traveling with Food Allergies Internationally

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH FOOD SENSITIVITIES OR ALLERGIES

Some places are easier than others , but nearly everything in Asia for instance is pre prepared with any number of coatings and/or sauces – all of which contain anonymous ingredients. Although this is part of the wondrous experience for most, those of you with any sort of allergy or sensitivity may feel a sense of paralysis.

Not to worry – you can maintain a very selective diet everywhere in the world that works for gluten free, celiac, vegetarians, vegans, and those avoiding candida.

At the start of our trip I experienced an allergic reaction severe enough that I had to cut all of the unknowns out of my diet to reset my system. I am going to give you a step by step on how to maintain the exact diet you need while in any foreign land. It helps if you are traveling with someone that understands and supports your needs, but it’s not overly debilitating either way…

Make yourself some form of an allergy card in the local language.  You can make it on your phone translator (or even on paper – have a local write it for you). This way you can easily communicate the things you are allergic to, and hopefully stay clear of harmful ingredients.  You can also get allergy cards laminated online before your trip if you plan ahead….

If you do not trust restaurants, you can also prepare your own food – this is how I did it:

  1. Buy whole fruits and vegetables from the local farmers – this can be done easily in most locations.  If you don’t pass stands on the street, ask.  Nearly every country in Asia has them lining the streets, where you can buy entire bags of fruits/veggies for a few US dollars.
  2. Shop in the expat style grocery stores.  There are many different names across around the world, but a quick google search will give you a useful list with proximity to your lodging.
  3. Delivery is king in many major cities.  You can have any number of expat grocery stores deliver to you – view a few options here.  In big cities like Shanghai, you can also have any food within the city delivered to you via Food Sherpas.  My personal favorite for eating out in Shanghai quickly became Pure and Whole – you can read their menu here.
  4. When you arrive at your hotel/hostel/guesthouse assess the situation. Do you have a fridge in your room?  Is there a shared kitchen?  I have dealt with the best situation (having a condo with your own kitchen) to the worst situation (washing vegetables with bottled water in the bathroom sink, having a single cutting knife that the front desk gave me, plastic silverware I bought at the store, and two plates that the hotel lent me).
  5. If you want to eat things in Asia that don’t work well with chopsticks, you probably want to buy your own silverware somewhere along the way.  There are some hotels that are not westernized and will not carry anything besides chopsticks – their diets just don’t require it.
  6. Buy things at the store you can snack on, nuts, dried fruit, rice cakes – whatever it may be, have it in your bag at all times in case you cannot get somewhere and are starving.  I can almost guarantee you will not be able to find suitable food on the street in some places throughout Africa or Asia without conducting serious research first.
  7. Carry your staples in your bag, so that you can turn any chopped up vegetables off the street into a meal.  Salt, pepper, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic, whatever it is that you are used to seasoning your meals with – throw it in a backpack and consider it part of your walking pantry :)

And lastly, when you feel adventurous – find the little street vendors that chop up meat and veggies to throw it on the grill.  These most commonly exist in places with middle eastern influence, but I’ve seen them all over the world.  You can literally watch them cook and will know exactly what is going into your meal.

Hope these short tips help you stay well on your journey!  Eating in certain places of the world can be a little rough on the body and there are many ingredients in the food that you never know about…so if you have any food allergies, these steps should keep you happy and healthy!