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Backpacking and travel around the World:

Travel opportunities, tips, discussions and all about backpacking and world travel

Planning your trip for travel abroad: where and when to go?

Planning your trip for travel abroad: where and when to go?


When to plan a travel trip?

  • When you are planning a trip it is important to know what is the best time to visit a specific country. It can be pretty disappointing to find out that it is actually rainy season, while you planned to spend a few weeks on a sunny tropical beach. When it is winter north of the equator, it is summer on the other side. The summer is not automatically the best time to visit certain areas. In short, when to go can be quite a complicated matter. When you are going to your dream destination make sure to check the weather and other conditions during the time of your visit!

What are tips concerning the travel time?

  • Often the rainy season in a tropical country is not as harmful as it seems (Indonesia, Thailand). Most of the time the weather is fine, unless you are very unlucky. Look for a destination where the weather differs per region, so that you can always escape from the rain.
  • Watch out for places that are known for extreme weather circumstances. Natural phenomenons such as hurricanes and cyclones are usually not a lot of fun.
  • If you are going scuba diving, make sure that during the time your visit the sea is not to rough, so that the visibility is clear.
  • In some areas it is important to be aware of common diseases, such as malaria and dengue, which are being spread during specific weather or seasons.
  • Going to Africa to see some wildlife? Make sure you plan your trip when the wildlife parks are open. You do not want to find out that the park is closed when you already in Tanzania.
  • Some places can be a lot of fun to visit during special events, such as carnival in Brasil, a mid-summer night party in Scandinavia etc. Sometimes it is better to avoid certain events. Try, for instance, to find a restaurant that is open during the Ramadan in a Muslim country.
  • Unfortunately our climate is changing, so you cannot completely rely on the information that is available. It happens more and more that locals tell you that it is the first time in thirty years that it is raining this early in the season or that they don’t understand where all the clouds are coming from.
  • People have different opinions about the best time to visit a specific region. Some people like to go to a place when it is 40 degrees Celsius, while other people already think 20 degrees Celsius is too hot.
  • Be aware of the difference between minimum and maximum temperatures. The minimum temperature in San Francisco in the summer is 12 degrees and the average temperature is 18 degrees. This means that in the evening you will need a sweater.
  • Be aware of height. Ecuador is a tropical country, but the capital Quito lies 3.000 meters above sea level. This means that it can be very warm during the day, but very chilly in the evening.
  • The temperature of the sea water can be much colder than the temperature of the air. The weather in Tunisia might be OK in February or March, but swimming can be very unpleasant at that time of the year.

How much time you need to visit a certain regions or countries?

  • For most travelers the answer to this question depends on their school, university, job, family, friends etc. The only question that really matters for them is how much time you need to visit a certain regions or countries. For people who are traveling for a few months or longer, there are some extra factors to take into consideration:
    • When does the travel tiredness strike? (the moment you are fed up with all those amazing temples)
    • What can you do to avoid travel tiredness?
    • When becomes traveling a "race"?
    • How long does it take to travel over land though a certain continent?

A week to two weeks

  • In recent years it has become much easier to take a shorter/in between break/holiday to a far away destination: you can go by car to Italy to go skiing (depending on where you are coming from). Cheap tickets are also available to countries in the Mediterranean sea and even to some Caribbean Islands. The downside of these cheap last minutes is that people run the risk of arriving at a destination where the water is freezing cold, temperatures are low or heavy rainfall spoils your stay.
  • Depending on the flight time the following destinations are suitable for a short holiday:
  • Between November and April/May: Sri Lanka, Maldives, Gambia/Senegal, Zanzibar, Goa, Caribbean Islands, Florida, Bali, Thailand and Mexico.
  • The temperature is not as stable but the Canary Islands, Jordan or the Red Sea (scuba diving) also great places for a one or two week holiday.

Three to four weeks

  • The best time to explore and get familiar with a country or a large part of a country is somewhere between three to four weeks. Even most “world” travelers do not stay much longer in a particular area. In three or four weeks you can easily travel around, visit a few cities and still have some time to relax and take it easy. Try to avoid areas where it will take up to 3 days to travel from one highlight to another.
  • The best destinations for three to four weeks on holiday are: Ecuador, Peru/Bolivia, Guatemala/Honduras, Southern Africa, China, Tibet, North India, Nepal, South India, Thailand, Malaysia, parts of Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the US West Coast.

From a few months to a year

  • How long should your world trip take? Do you need a year or is a month or four months sufficient? Of course this depends on your travel plan and your budget. In practice not many people manage to do a proper around-the-world trip in a year. Due to limited resources or time most world travelers will have to skip large parts of the world. If you would like to make a trip from Australia to India through South East Asia to India and China it is possible to do this in three to five months. When you do this you spend just as long in one country as it takes other world travelers to travel several continents.
  • Skipping expensive countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and North America, is a good way to save money, so that you can stay away for a longer time. The more time you have for your trip the easier it will be to change your plans completely or stay at one place for a longer period without ruining your plans.
  • When you are traveling for less than three months you probably don’t need an expensive travel insurance, tickets will be cheaper, it is easier and quicker to save the money for your trip and it will be much easier to fit into your study schedule or work.

Best travel times: what is de the best time to go to ...?

Asia

  • North Thailand: the best time is from November to February, least favorable seasons are from April to September. During the latter period South East Thailand is the best place to visit as well as the South.
  • South Thailand: best time to visit is March to May.
  • Laos: best time to visit is from November to February.
  • Myanmar(Burma): best time to visit is from November to February.
  • Indonesia: relatively calm weather, no extreme seasons.
  • Malaysia: only from November to January the weather is not as good as the rest of the year.
  • Himalaya: Eastern India: best from April to November.
  • Nepal and Western India: best time to visit October to December and February to April.
  • Tibet: best time to visit May to October. From November to March it can be (too) cold and there can be a lot of snow.
  • Mongolia: best time to visit from May to October.
  • China: best time to visit March/April and September/October.

Latin America

  • The Andes (Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru): from June to September is the best time to visit, but this area is accessible during the whole year.
  • Bolivia: December to April in the Andes is the best. In the Amazon you will then be bothered by the mud, insects and other inconveniences.
  • Peru: it is better to avoid the months December to April when you want to visit Machu Picchu/Cuzco. The Amazon: May-July are the “best” times for a visit. From December to April it will rain even more than is usually does. During the rainy season in the Peruvian Amazon it rains two times a day on average, but in between the showers the weather will be fine.
  • Iguazu Falls: December-April is the best time for a visit.
  • Central America: best time to travel is from December to April/May, after these months the rainy season begins. Countries with nicer weather during these months are: Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

Africa

  • Southern Africa: April-September are the best for visiting. For Cape Town and the surrounding areas November-March are the best times to visit.
  • Eastern Africa: June to October is the best time for visiting, followed by December to February.
  • West Africa: November - December are the best time to visit.
  • The best times to visit the wild parks in Southern Africa are in the European (late) summer (during the dry season the animals will come out to the drinking spots where you can see them) but there are other good periods for a visit.

Middle-East

  • During the summer it can get very hot, but the other seasons the weather is usually fine.
  • Be aware that in winter the northern part can become ice cold and in the south it can get surprisingly cool.

Europe

  • Northern Europe: countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany are quite cold and humid to visit during the period November-March. These months are, however, ideal for skiing activities (In Switzerland, Austria etc.). April-September is a very pleasant time for traveling throughout Europe, as temperatures do not tend to be very high.
  • Southern Europe, including countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Portugal, has a pleasant climate with sunny days throughout the year, although the summer months July and August can be unpleasantly warm on some days.

North America

  • Canada and Alaska can be very cold and dark during the period November-March. The period outside these months would be more suitable to visit these countries, but since it concerns such a wide area, there are a lot of regional differences.
  • The United States also varies per region, but in general has cold winters, hot summers and mild fall and spring seasons. The south can be very humid with sporadic rainfall and has two subtropical seasons, contrary to most states.
  • Mexico has a wet and a dry season, with warm and humid weather throughout the year. Mexico also has a hurricane season lasting from June through November.
Travel destinations and and experiences: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters - Bundle

Travel destinations and and experiences: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters - Bundle

Curaçao - Mini travel guide

Curaçao - Mini travel guide

curacao


Curaçao is part of the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean area which also consists of islands like Aruba and Bonaire. It is a small island of just 10 miles across, compromising 160,000 inhabitants. Because of Curacao's colonial history it is culturally and demographically very diverse, boasting some typical Dutch cultural elements as well. The island has one of the world's most beautiful beaches with pearly white sand and crystal clear water. For the active visitor the island is a water sport paradise. If you plan on visiting Curaçao, have a look at this mini travel guide with tips and information about visiting Curaçao.

Highlights of Curaçao

  • Snorkeling and diving: Curaçao's maritime world possesses a great biodiversity, with stunning coral reefs to explore. It is one of the most popular locations for diving in the Caribbean. You can also dive and swim with wild dolphins and other sea creatures.
  • Kite surfing. The prevailing winds make Curaçao a popular kite surf destination. The season starts around March or April.
  • Sailing. Curaçao is home to several international sailing competitions and is a very good sailing destination.
  • Night life: from the African Tumba to the South American Merengue, Curaçao’s rich heritage plays a big role in its energetic music scene and nightlife. There are beach parties on a regular basis, but there are also enough bars and clubs where you can dance and party.
  • Carnival: The annual carnival is the highlight of the year for many Curaçaoans. Streets are filled with vibrant colours and exotic music. The colourful event lasts for almost a month, and it is definitely a must-see!
  • International Jazz festival: One of the biggest music festivals of Curaçao which takes place in September.
  • Willemstad: From the floating market in the old town of Punda to the colourful houses along the Handelskade and amazing Antillian food at Marshe Bieu (the old food market). The capital of Curaçao has a rich history, lots of museums, shops, restaurants and beautiful architecture.
  • Mambo-beach: This is probably one of the most popular beaches. As such it's pretty busy but also very well facilitated with cocktail bars, live music and an open air cinema.
  • Klein Curaçao: 25 kilometres southeast of Curaçao, lies its small sister Klein Curaçao. It is a very peaceful island where you can enjoy beautiful white beaches and stunning coral reefs.
  • Christoffelpark: For the adventurous types there are a lot of active opportunities at this park which includes a mountain you can explore by car, quad, mountain bike, horse or by foot.
  • Kura Hulanda: Impressive museum dedicated to Curaçao’s history as one of the biggest slave trade posts in the Caribbean.

Health and safety in Curaçao

Generally speaking, Curaçao is considered as a safe country, but there are a few areas to be aware of:

  • Mosquitoes love Curacao's climate too. So don't forget to pack your insect repellent!
  • You will only need a vaccination when you have visited a yellow fever area.
  • Tap water in Curaçao is safe to drink, it falls within the World Health Organisation quality standards. The water supply consists of distilled seawater.
  • From June to November hurricanes can occur in the Caribbean area. Yet they rarely reach Curaçao.
  • Despite the village like feel, Curaçao has areas where vigilance is required. Don't show off your expensive jewellery and don't walk around with too much cash in your wallet. Keep valuable possessions in your bag or even better in a safe at the hotel. Avoid alleys, unpatrolled beaches after dark and other quiet or dark streets because these can be unsafe.
  • The traffic is mostly safe in Curaçao. Yet Curaçaoans often don't take traffic rules too seriously
  • All drugs, hard and soft, are illegal. Possessing or using drugs, any drugs including marihuana or prescription drugs for which you can’t provide the prescription, is punished severely. Bring a Medical Passport or an official prescription when using medication, especially any sedatives and strong painkillers containing codeine.
  • In case of emergency you can call the tourist emergency number: 917.

Transport in Curaçao

  • Public transport in Curaçao is fairly limited. Buses don't adhere to a strict timetable but are nonetheless a cheap option. The two major bus stations are at Punda and Otrabanda. Apart from the standard big buses, there also smaller vans that offer public transport. They don’t have a timetable.
  • Due to the limited public transport options, it is definitely recommended to rent a car or scooter to explore the island. The roads are mostly paved and well maintained.
  • There can be age restrictions to rent a car. Check with your chosen rental company beforehand.
  • Taxis are generally cheap and reliable in Curaçao. However, taxis fares are unmetered; drivers may have fare-sheets available. Agree on a price beforehand. Official taxis are easily recognized by having a license plate that is marked with the letters "TX".

Accommodation, food and drinks in Curaçao

  • Accommodation in Curaçao mainly consists of luxurious hotels and resorts. These are generally expensive. There are some cheaper options like bed & breakfasts, simple apartments and Airbnb. Hostels are very rare in Curaçao. Camping is also an option. There are several camp sites where you can pitch a tent or rent a caravan.
  • Curaçao has a very diverse cuisine. From typical Dutch to Japanese, Argentinean, Italian, Brazilian and more. Local specialties are: grilled iguana or ostrich, karni stoba (beef stew) and kabritu (goat stew), Sopi di banana (a soup made of bananas) and Pastechi (a savoury pie).
  • Happy Hour: a lot restaurants and beach clubs offer drinks at half price during happy hour. You can drink different alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails like Piña colada, fruit punch and Awa di Lamunchi (a typical Curaçaoan drink made with lime syrup). Also popular are Amstel Bright (a beer which tastes a bit like Corona) and of course Blue Curaçao, sometimes simply referred to as Curaçao. This liqueur is made with the dried peels of the Laraha, the bitter orange native to Curaçao meaning Golden Orange of Curaçao.

Have you been to Curaçao and do you have other tips for sights, activities or foods to taste? Leave it in a comment below!

How to prepare for a trip to The Philippines?

How to prepare for a trip to The Philippines?

Waterfall in the Philippines

Although preparing yourself for travel is different for everyone, here are some general guidelines for your trip to The Philippines. Please feel free to add your personal advice in the Comment & Contributions section.

Arrange a flight

For cheap flights, it is always best to book far in advance, the cheapest seats are always sold out first. Good hotels have airport pickups from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. There is a Grab Booth outside the bigger airports, so you can book a taxi without hassle, I am always happy myself to have less hassle, the difference in price is minimal and definitely worth it. Found a cheap flight? Donate the money you saved to your preferred carbon compensation funds or find a more personal way to compensate your impact, like voluntourism.

Get your medical files in order with all vaccinations and malaria prophylaxes stated

Before you leave you should consult your travel doctor about vaccinations and malaria prophylaxes. Tell them where you will be staying and how long, they will need this information.

Arrange your insurance

You need to have a travel-, health- and (when applicable) activities insured.  Some insurances do not cover incidents if you are volunteering abroad or don't cover trips that last longer than 30 days. Talk to your insurance adviser or contact the insurance experts of JoHo Insurances. Better be prepared well, since it is hard to arrange it, once already on the move.

You will need a visa

  • You will need to have a passport that is valid at least 6 months upon arrival in the Philippines. A visa is not required if you stay 30 days or less. If you stay more than 30 days, you will need a visa, which you can get either at the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines (see below) or at the Embassy of the Philippines in your country of residence.
  • When coming in on a 30-day visa, you can extend your visa in the Philippines by applying for an extension of the visa at the office of the Bureau of Immigration in Intramuros, Manila or at their regional offices all over Metro Manila (Makati Circuit Mall). Please check the Bureau’s websit for more information. They are closed on holidays. When the immigration office is located in the mall, the mall is closed before opening time, but the Immigration Office is already open, you have to ask the guard, if you can enter and go into a seemingly closed mall. 

Arrange your money

  • The unit of currency in the Philippines is the peso, which is also spelled piso in Filipino.
  • The smartest way to bring cash to the Philippines is in the form of a credit card, cash card or debit card. Provided you have your PIN, you can use these to get cash or cash advances from thousands of banks and ATMs in the Philippines (but don't expect to find these in rural areas - always stock up on cash before leaving a city). Of course, you will want to back up your plastic with some cash and travellers cheques. Using plastic with a cash back-up will save you from having to deal with local moneychangers, who seem to have made a science out of ripping off tourists (warning from the Lonely Planet). The advantage of money changers is, that you dont have to pay the bank currency exchange rates and an extra fee of around 200-300 PHP every time you use the ATM. 
  • The leading banks in the Philippines are BDO, BPI, Metrobank, Landbank and RCBC.
  • Banks are open from 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM and ATMs are open 24 hours. The maximum amount you can withdraw from the ATM is different per branch at BDO and BPI per transaction with a maximum of PHP10,000-20,000, Citibank Makati PHP15,000 and HSBC PHP40,000. Depending on your own maximum for cash out of an ATM limit a day. At the Citibank, you don't have to pay the extra foreign bank fee. Make sure your ATM is set on using your card outside of Europe. 

Arrange your communication

  • When you stay a longer period of time, it is very handy to use a local simcard, most of the time free at the airport booths. You have two main choices: Globe or Smart. When you have a local card, you can use the WIFI in malls, with your foreign number you are not able to use the WIFI. 

Read about the Philippines

For the touristic highlights and places to stay & eat there's a good selection of travel guides such as:

  • Lonely Planet
  • Footprint
  • Marco Polo

Other books you can read about the Philippines are:

Jose Rizal

  • Noli Me Tangere
  • El Filibusterismo

Nick Joaquin

  • La Naval de Manila and Other Essays (1964)
  • A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (1966)

F. Sionil Jose

  • Rosales Saga novels: five-novel series that spans three centuries of Philippine history, widely read around the world and translated into 22 languages

Niklas Reese

  • Handbook of the Philippines: A comprehensive introduction to Philippine society, economy, politics and culture. It aims to shed light to the different facets of life (and of daily struggles and survival) in the Philippines.

What to pack into your bag?

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Print of your outbound ticket (to be shown at the airport of departure)
  • Vaccination booklet
  • Cash money
  • ATM card
  • Travel guide
  • Language guide
  • Reading books
  • Camera
  • Bag/suitcase
  • Labels
  • Day bagpack
  • Money belt (and or travel safe)
  • Locks for your bag
  • Toilet bag
  • Toothbrush/paste/soap/shampoo/comb, disinfectant soap etc
  • Towel
  • Ear plugs
  • Sunscreen high factor
  • Sunglasses/cap
  • Mosquito repellent (and mosquito net)
  • Medical kit, although almost everything is also available in the Philippines: with Immodium, ORS, Paracetamol, band-aid, disinfectant, gauze & bandages etc.
  • Flip‐flops
  • Clothes: sandals, light clothes since the climate is hot and humid, socks/shirt with long sleeves and trousers for the evenings (mosquitoes), swimsuit. 
  • Laptop and mobile phone. Consider bringing a safety cable if you bring yours. Most hostels have free or paid Wi-Fi service. If you want to bring your smart phone, consider also bringing a cheaper phone for daily use.
  • In the Philippines, women hardly use tampons so if you use them you will need to bring them with you.
Travelling in Japan

Travelling in Japan

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~This blog comes from my personal blog "Hannah-chan's travels" for more blog check out this blog page ~

Finding the best way to travel in a country is always a bit tricky. In some countries it can be cheaper to take the bus, in other countries to take a train of flight. What is always cheaper is hitchhiking of course, but not everyone feels comfortable about getting in the car with a stranger.

I’ve travelled quite a bit in Japan and in my experience, the way you travel depends on your budget, the time you have and on how you want to experience the country. In this blog I’ll try to inform you on ways to travel in Japan and what could be best for your personal trip. I’ve listed four types of travelling (bus, train, airplane, car) and the pros and cons. Just to have said it, I also want to dedicate a few sentences to hitchhiking since it is the cheapest and in my experience a really fun way of travelling.

Hitchhiking

While hitchhiking always comes with a little bit of a risk, the chance something happens to you in Japan is quite low in my opinion. People are friendly, polite and it’s one of the safest countries in the world. If you hitchhike with someone else, it shouldn’t really be a problem. I hitchhiked on Yakushima Island and it was one of the best things I’ve done since I met one really cool guy and we had a free ride. The cons however are that Japanese people often speak little English. They will want to make conversation, but it can be a bit of a struggle sometimes. It always helps if you know some Japanese and they will love it. Another thing is that hitchhiking takes a lot of time and patience. While it is usually an amazing experience, there might also be days that you have to wait for multiple hours, just to get a ride of 30 minutes. If you decide to do it, just make sure you keep this in mind and don’t expect to be at your destination soon.

By bus

The bus is usually the cheapest way of travelling. There are several bus companies operating throughout Japan and the most foreigner-friendly one is definitely Willer Express. This company operates bus routes mostly in central Honshu, but where exactly you can find on their English (!!) webpage. If you want to go to multiple cities and prefer the Willer Expressbecause their webpage is in English I would recommend getting a bus pass. There are three options; a 3 day bus pass, a 5 day bus pass and a 7 day bus pass, so just figure out which one you would need!

Apart from Willer Express there are also other, cheaper bus companies. While Willer Express gives you quite some comfort options (unless you get the cheapest bus), the other companies I’ve travelled with usually have little or less leg room but they are way cheaper. The downside is that their websites are in Japanese so you might want to ask someone at the hotel/hostel to help you. Another thing is that their departure stations can sometimes be hard to find, so make sure you have a map of where you have to go printed out so you won’t miss the bus. The webpage I usually use is busbookmark.jp and for busses around Nagano I use the alpico bus http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/english/ .

By train

A way to avoid this extra time for check-in etcetera is to take the train. There are local/express/limited express/etc trains and there is the famous bullet train or shinkansen. The first trains are way cheaper, however, it will take a lot longer to get to your destination if you’re going long distances. For example Kyoto-Tokyo by shinkansen is about 2.5 hours by shinkansen, but 20 hours by local trains. If you travel where there is not shinkansen line or just short distances, I recommend to take local trains. It is easy and cheap!

The shinkansen is quite expensive. For a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto you pay around 12000 yen. It is however super-fast and if you have little time, a much recommended way of travelling. If you only have 1 or 2 weeks in Japan and you want to see a lot, you don’t want to spend too much time in transit so hopping in and out of a train in the city centre of where you want to be is just AWESOME. Next to that I think that being on a bullet train is also quite a cool experience and maybe even something you have to do if you want to feel the real Japan. Tickets can be bought on the main stations from machines or at the shinkansen ticket centres. Another option is to buy a rail pass. More information about the rail pass can be found on http://www.japanrailpass.net/ . There are different types of rail passes available for different areas so make sure you pick the right one for your trip. Another important thing is that this pass can not be purchased in Japan, so plan your trip ahead and buy a rail pass in time if this is your prefered way of travelling!

By air

A (sometimes) cheap way of travelling in Japan is by air. Even though I don’t like airplanes because of the pollution, I would recommend this way of travelling if you want to see multiple places all spread out over the country and you don’t need to see what’s in between. There are several cheap domestic airlines like Skymark Airlines, Jetstar, Vanilla Air, Spring Airlines and with one of the cheapest being Peach. If you sign up for their newsletter before you head to Japan, you can get updates on their frequent sales and might be able to book a ticket from Osaka-Tokyo for 2000 yen (check-in luggage is not included!). The flights are short, but do remember you’ll spend at least 2-3 hours extra at airports doing check/in and liggage drop-off.

By car

Travelling by car is one of the easiest ways if you want to visit multiple places mostly on the country side. Renting a car in Japan means you’ll need an international drivers’ license and you probably must have had it for 5 years. The cost for renting a car depends on where you rent it and what kind of car it is. The price for gasoline is in the middle range of gas prices. It’s usually cheaper than in Europe, but it’s still on the expensive side.

For finding rental cars in Japan (or actually anywhere in the world), you can use rentalcars.com . However, I’d recommend to ask for rental cars at your hotel/hostel. They will probably know cheaper places to go to.

Well, hopefully this was helpfull! If you have any questions, just comment and I’ll try to reply! Also, if you know more about this and want to share it with other readers, please leave a comment too! Thanks for reading!

Cheers,
Hannah

Packing your things for abroad: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters - Bundle

Packing your things for abroad: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters - Bundle

Choosing sustainable outdoor gear

Choosing sustainable outdoor gear

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In 2019, it's hard to ignore thinking about how your consumption choices affect the world. While you're probably familiary with the bad impacts of flying, the meat and dairy industry and the plastic soup that we call oceans, the textile industry hasn't entirely made it's way into the spotlights. 

A couple of months ago I saw the documentary "Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion's Dirty Secrets". While I was aware of terms like sustainable fashion, I had never been presented with the blunt facts or shocking images that come with it, nor had I tried to read into it. The fast fashion industry comes at a huge cost to the environment; water pollution, toxic chemicals, fashion waste and transportation costs. Furthermore, the water footprint of fabrics like cotton, and even more shocking, organic cotton, is huge. And while we are on the safe-side of the fashion industry (for now...), millions of people are suffering from the fashion choices we maken. 

Fast fashion is an industry focusing on low costs and speed. In reducing the costs for clothes, companies often choose for the cheapest countries with little (enforced) rules on environmental impact. The vibrant colours you love so much in your clothes, are often created with the use of toxic chemicals of which the residues end up in rivers and oceans, making this practice the second largest pollutor of clean water, following the number one we're all aware of; agriculture. By making such choices, fashion companies can constantly provide new collections at low costs, and the consumer is presented with cheap attractice new options all the time. In turn, this has caused a high-turnover of clothes in people's closets. Whereas in the past you used to have the same trousers for years, now you might have worn them 5 times before buying new ones and sending these to the second hand shop, hence the increasing amounts of textile waste. 

What can you do?

I was shocked by what I saw in the documentary and it totally changed my view on fashion. I'm not the only one, many blogs can be found on the internet regarding sustainable fashion, or even cutting out clothes shopping as a whole (check out this girl who didn't buy clothes for a year). While the latter option is something I might consider as a new-years resolution next year, it's a bit difficult with my upcoming trip and my lack of outdoor clothing. Therefore I have found some other ways to reduce my environmental fashion impact, which I would love to share with you. 

First of all, the number one rule is buy less. It's a simple solution to a big problem, buying less means less waste, less chemicals, less transportation, less water use etc. This is immediately connected to the second thing: buy recycled and good-quality. Recycled clothes are often the best as little pressure is put on virgin resources used for new clothingBuying good quality means the clothes will last longer and therefore again, you'll also have to buy less. However, not all good quality fashion is sustainable, so make sure to look at the brands. 

Since this blog is about outdoor brands, I want to give you a list of brands that from most sustainable to least sustainable based on the amazing website "rankabrand.org". 

Vaude 
Vaude scores the highest in the list of outdoor brands and therefore achieves a B-label. This is due to their use of 100% green electricty, their policies regarding toxic substances and their waste and packaging management. Furthermore they are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. 

Jack Wolfskin
Jack Wolfskin is assigned a C label. They have implemented several measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and work with organic cotton and certified manufacturers. However, they are not entirely transparent about their practices and therefore many impacts remain unknown. 

Fjällräven & Patagonia
Even though I've repeatedly been told Patagonia is one of the most sustainable brands, both Fjällräven and Patagonia score a C-label as well on the rankabrand website. Since the website uses a strict set of criteria, if the brand is not transparent about this, or does not publish results on their impacts, they score rather low. 

Other C-labels are assigned to Pyua, Trigema, Schöffel, Norrona, Deuther. Furthermore, D-labels are assigned to Bergans, Burton, Icebreaker, Regatta and Millet

When looking at a review of the fair cottage websiteVaude again pops up as the top sustainable choice, followed by Houdini and La Sportiva. 

The Greenpeace campaign "detox our fashion" on the use of PFCs (long-term severe pollutants) also gives an overview of the big outdoor brands. Their detox champions are again Vaude, and Paramo and Rotauf. The brands that are moving towards becoming more sustainable but that are definitely not their yet are The North FaceHaglöfs, Black Yak, Jack WOlfskin, Mammut, Salewa and Norrona. The brands that score the worst are Arcteryx, Columbia and Patagonia. While they mention that Patagonia is one of the leaders in sustainability, they are definitely falling short in their detox from PFCs. 

Interestingly, an independent website, theprch.com, puts Patagonia as the most sustainable brands out of a list of outdoor brands. Patagonia is refered to on many websites and in many articles as one of the most sustainable brands due to, for example, their focus on recycled fabric. While they score the highest on theprch, the website does mention that they are far from perfect and not very transparent. However, they do provide a lot of information on how they try to reduce their impacts, while many other companies hardly make any efforts at all. 

Patagonia is followed by REI, which has a B score. In the D category, the North Face, Mountain Hardware, Mammut, Marmot, Columbia, Black Diamond and Arc'teryx are listed. The worst brands, according to this list, are SmartWool, Sea to Summit, Osprey, Big Agnes, Coleman, Exped, Five Ten, Granite Gear, Gregory, Kelty, KUHL, MSR, NEMO
If you want to know more about how these brand were scored, check out the theprch website

All in all it seems that Vaude is definitely the most sustainable brands. Whether Patagonia follows, I'm not sure. They mentiion that they try to do a lot to be more environmentally friendly, but they lack actual reporting and therefore score quite low. Furthermore, they are not active in reducing their PFCs. I think it's best to buy products from Vaude, look into what products you buy from B/C categories, and definitely avoid the brands with a B-label. If one of your brands is not in the list, you can request RankaBrand to review it through this page. 

Last of all, I want to mention the option of second hand clothes. While it can be tricky with outdoor clothing, there are still plenty of options to find good clothes. Check out second hand (outdoor) shops, people selling clothes on the internet, shops, or even brands selling used clothes (https://www.rei.com/used for example). 

Well, hopefully this helped you in making your sustainable outdoor shopping easier! Let me know if you have any more ideas, thoughts, tips or comments below :). 

Cheers

Hannah

Drink SAFE with a Tulip Water Filter

Drink SAFE with a Tulip Water Filter

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What if you are traveling and no shops around and need water, use a Tulip Water Filter to make clean water!

The Tulip Siphon is a lightweight portable water purifier that is easy to use and store. It purifies 4–5 liters of water per hour. The filter can be used in emergency situations as well as for daily usage. It has a unique backwash function making sure that the filter stays clean and fit for purification and a fast flow rate. The Tulip Siphon lasts up to 7000 liters. After which the candle can be easily replaced.

Watch the video how it works here

You can buy the Tulip Siphon online at JoHo Webshop or at the JoHo Support Centers

Travel lifesaver - a period cup

Travel lifesaver - a period cup

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So, a bit of a different topic today, but one that you can't ignore when travelling as a woman, period. I mean, periods! Yeah, it's the one thing I'm always worried about. Ah, let's book a skiing holiday! Oh no, what if I have my period and two full days of cramps? Let's go diving! Ohhhh, but what if......................... Sometimes life sucks as a woman, and while it's a bit easier if you can take a contraceptive pill and have the upper hand over your periods, I can't, so I've had to work my way around it. Aside from that, putting a bunch of hormones in your body is something I'm not very fond of anyways because of all the side-effects it can have, although some women of course hardly experience any! Since there are more women who have to, or want to, get rid of all the hormonal stuff, the period-market is opening up! Yay. A couple of years ago I've found my near-perfect solution and while it still sucks to have my period, and to be subjected to two full days of pain, it has made my life a lot easier. 

A cup!? Yes, a cup....... 

About three years ago, I saw this add on Facebook for the Organicup. What? A cup? For your periods? How does that work? I had no idea, but it caught my attention! I was trying to live more sustainably and to reduce my waste, so this seemed to fit right into my lifestyle. After doing some research I found out that there were a couple (not as many as today) of period-cups on the market. These are small cups, that you can insert in your you-know-what, and which you have to empty around 3 times a day. You'll never need tampons or sanitary napkins ever again! WHAT A BLESSING! And if you use them correctly they can last for 10 years. Imagine how much money and unnecessary waste you can save! I was convinced, so I decided to buy one. Since the Organicup had good reviews, is vegan and free of chemicals, this was going to be the one. 25 euros, but only the best for my.... since I wouldn't want to put any chemicals in there (I believe this can be the case with some of the cheap cups you can buy on AliExpress for example). Now there are many more options, of which probably a bunch are safe. The only way to know which one is best for you eventually, is just to try them out. Which was what I was going to do. Eventually, I found the Organicup quite stiff, which didn't work for me, but in Germany I bought a Fair Squared cup (which was also slightly cheaper) which was a lot more comfortable. Unfortunately I totally burned it because I was boiling it and forgot, so I had to buy a new one. It seems like there can be minor differences since this one works a little bit less well for me, but I'm still super satisfied and wouldn't want to go back to anything else anymore!

The first try

Within a couple of weeks the cup arrived. There are two sizes, the small one for women whom haven't had kids, and the bigger one for women who had. The thing looked a bit uncomfortable, and I couldn't imagine not feeling that thing the whole day even though that was what many women mentioned. After reading through the instructions of how to use it (boil it first, fold it double and insert and twist), I decided to give it a try. It was a bit uncomfortable at first, so I decided not to ditch my previous period-stuff immediately. I would definitely recommend to combine it with sanitary napkins or panty-liners on your first couple of tries, just to make sure you get a hang of how to put it in. The important part that I only found out after a couple of tries, is to twist the thing after putting it in. In that way you make sure it creates a vacuum, so that no stuff can pass it. Then, depending on how heavy your periods are, you have to empty it a couple of times a day, since it fills up. I believe it is recommended not to leave the cup in for more than 12 hours at the most, but emptying it more often is of course more hygienic. 

Cleaning 

This is where I started to appreciate the toilets with a little tab inside of the toilet room. What a lifesaver! Although I believe these cups shouldn't be a taboo anymore, I do feel slightly awkward walking around with a cup with my period blood and emptying it in the sink next to someone who's washing their hands. But well, sometimes there's just no other option. Every time you take it out and empty it in the toilet, you have to clean it before using it again. The best way is just to wash it with some water (and make sure the vacuum holes on the side are clean as well). I usually do this in the shower in the morning, which makes things a lot easier. However, if water is not at hand (which is the case in some washrooms), then there are three other options; (1) bring your own bottle of water and just wash it above the toilet, (2) clean it as much as you can with toilet paper, (3) use the Organiwash or Organiwipes. 

Before every first use, make sure to boil it in water for about 5-10 minutes as to fully clean it. This is the only real obstacle I found while travelling. During my last trip, which would be a packpacking trip through Asia for some months, I was mostly worried about this part. Staying in a hostel, there are always people around you, so boiling a period cup in a hostel pot can be a bit awkward. Or maybe there isn't even a kitchen available, if you're in the middle of the jungle for example. To work my way around this, I looked for other options. Eventually I found out about Organiwash and Organiwipes. I figured this would be a good way to clean the cup while not having access to a kitchen or anything, and whenever it would be possibly I would just boil it then. Eventually this worked out well, and makes travelling a lot easier!

The pros

For me this cup makes travelling a lot easier. I don't have to worry about where to buy sanitary products, or where to throw them out. It saves tons of money, and I can still take part in activities that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to, such as snorkeling, diving, surfing, or any other sport for that matter. Also, I'm happy that I don't have to use all these throwaway product anymore. So much unnecessary waste every month!! However, the most important reason why I'm happy with my cup is just because it makes life so much more comfortable. I hate the feeling of most sanitary products, it feels unhygienic, you have to change them quite often, and there's a possibility of ilnesses if you don't. With this cup, I really don't feel anything throughout the day (the only problem with this is that sometimes I forget that it is still inside), so yeah, it makes my life a lot easier.

The cons

Personally, I can't find many cons, but there are some. The biggest one for me is that every cup is a bit different and it can therefore be difficult to find the right one. If it doesn't go in correctly or doesn't entirely fit well, then it can leak a bit. This is not really a problem, but 100% leakproof is of course the best. On my worst days this isn't always the case with my current one (the previous one, the one I totally burned, was perfect though), so I wear panty-liners on these days anyway. I did recently buy washable ones though (yeah, they exist as well!! :D), since this eventually is cheaper and better. Another con is the washing, obviously. You can't simply throw it away and be rid of it (or well, you can, but this will cost you about 25 euro's every time). However, when you get used to washing it, you'll find your own way to deal with inconvenient situations. The last con I can come up with is that it can take some time to learn how to use it, but that is easily overcome by just trying. 

All in all, I'm super happy with my period cup. It is my most important travel companion (with the Organiwash) on longer trips and I wouldn't want to live without it anymore. It's definitely worth the money, since you'll save loads in the future, and it adds to your sustainable lifestyle as well! Of course, everyone has their own preferences, so I can only speak for myself, but if you're in doubt about getting one, just try it! And if you have any questions about my experience, just post them in the comments below :). 

Stasher, reusable, resealable bags

Stasher, reusable, resealable bags

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Hi! Recently a good friend of mine surprised me with a present from Japan; a Stasher resealable bag! I never knew this things existed so this was awesome! For hiking I bring resealable bags to store my breakfast (cereals with water) overnight. This means I have to throw away a plastic bag every day. Well, now I don't have to anymore! Furthermore, they are temperature resistant (can even go into the oven and microwave). So, I just wanted to let you know this alternative for plastic resealable bags exists! Another good alternative to plastic, yay!!

Scrubba Wash Bag

Scrubba Wash Bag

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When I'm travelling I always envy people with little luggage. It makes travelling so much more relaxed, convenient and easy. But how do they do it? Why don't they need multiple pairs of pants, a lot of underwear and many, many t-shirts? What if you can't find a washing machine? How do you survive if you're out of clean panties? 

Well, recently, while preparing my next trip, I found out about the scrubba wash bag. It's a portable wash bag that kind of works like a portable washing machine, but then by hand and as a bag. You simply put your clothes in it, add water and detergent and scrub for a couple of minutes. Because the bag has knobs in the bottom, you can really scrub your clothes clean. 

I haven't tried it myself, but would really like to bring one with me. It's on the expensive side (50 euro's), which is why I haven't bought it, but hopefully cheaper versions might become available. However, if you have it, you do save money on laundromats. 

Review 

SPOTLIGHT

Sustainable travel abroad: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters- Bundle

Sustainable travel abroad: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters- Bundle

Eco-Friendliness, Fair Trade and Sustainability

Eco-Friendliness, Fair Trade and Sustainability

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This is a bundle of my favorite articles that address Eco-Friendliness, Fair Trade and Sustainability

  • Great gift ideas (The one in Dutch is about the store WAAR at various locations in The Netherlands, where you can buy unique Fair Trade goodies!)
  • Stories and tips
  • Recipes (These recipes are vegetarian or vegan friendly and, of course, you can make sure to use organic and fair trade products)
Slow Travel - A conscious approach to travelling

Slow Travel - A conscious approach to travelling

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Slow travel is a new term that stands for sustainable and conscious travelling. Nowadays, it's becoming increasingly popular, and not without a reason. But what is slow travelling? What can you do to travel slow? 

Slow travelling originates from the "Slow movement", a movement in which the idea is to slow down one's life pace. Carl Honoré, a Canadian journalist, wrote the book "In Praise of Slow" about the slow movement. He describes it as 

"[It is] a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail's pace. It's about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting"

The movement can be applied to all aspects of life. Famous examples are the Slow Food and Slow Fashion movement, but there are many more (check out this wikipedia page for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_movement_(culture)). Slow travel is one of these sub-movements. A quote that came up in my mind relating to this way of travelling is the famous quote "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey". Since travelling around the world is so easy nowadays, I believe that most people focus on the destination and all the places they want to see. I have to admit, I sometimes feel the same way, but from experience I know that staying in one place for a long time suits me much more. 

So what is slow travel? It's about losing the idea of having to see everything there is to see, it's about accepting that you don't have to see all the highlights, it's about enjoying the place you're visiting, or travelling through, it's about slowing down, enjoying the moment and leaving some room for improvisation. Before and during slow travel, you make conscious choices, in which you think about how you can relax during your trip and how you can connect with and truely experience the country and society you're visiting. By doing this you can give back to the communities you visit, engage with new people and even lower your carbon footprint. 

When I went to Japan for 2,5 months, I knew I had a lot of time to see many things. However, after a couple of days I realised I was tired of visiting all those places on my list and travelling to a new places every 1-2 days. I was staying in a nice, cosy hostel and rather enjoyed talking to the staff and eating and cooking Japanese food. Eventually I ended up staying there for quite some time, before I left for my next destination. During my whole trip in Japan, so in 2.5 months, I had only visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima. There were so many sights I hadn't seen, but I couldn't be bothered. During this time I made great friends (whom I still am in contact with after 7 years), got to know local culture, spent time with many Japanese people and enjoyed the beautiful landscape. I still feel so happy when I think back to this time, and I never think about the places I haven't seen. 

Does this sound like something you want to experience? Then let('s) go! Let's leave our busy lifes behind and enjoy something new. There are many ways to travel slow, and of course it can still be combined with going sightseeing and planning your trip. Just take the time to enjoy planning, and maybe not plan everything. Here are some tips to prepare you're slow travels: 

  • Find a place you really want to experience, see, feel. 
     
  • Take time. Don't rush through a country or continent. You don't have to see everything. Maybe just choose a certain region to visit. 
     
  • Don't just look at a guidebook. Of course, they will show you the most famous places, but this doesn't mean they are the most beautiful ones. This usually means they are the most crowded ones. Asking locals or simply heading out by yourself might present you with even greater experiences. 
     
  • Search for a way to travel, in which you will see and experience most of the culture. This is generally a SLOW way of travelling. Airplanes bring you to your destination, but you will not really 'experience' the journey. So good alternatives are by train, hitchhiking, bus, or even cycling or walking. Make the journey fun, and really part of your trip. As a side-effect this is also helping your carbon footprint. 
     
  • Do things that truely make you happy, and not just things that are on an internet list. So if you don't like cities, don't go to cities. If you like nature, spend some time in a national park. If you love food, take a cooking course, find some special restaurants in the region, or eat at local markets. 
     
  • (Partly) forget about the usual sights and standard hotels and go off the beaten track. Find special accommodation on AirBnB, try house-sitting, look for local (but nice) hostels, visit the local market, ask a local (also possible on the couchsurfing website) what they think are underrated places in their country/region, etc. Not only will this make your experience more unique, it will also support the local industry, rather than the big businesses at the hotspots. 
     
  • Take part in local traditions and the local way of living. 
     
  • Don't make a plan! Leave your place and start walking around. Take a bus and get off wherever you feel like getting off, accept the uncertainty of not always knowing what will happen today. 

By doing all, or some of these things, you can truely experience slow travelling, and hopefully relax more while really experiencing the local culture. There are also other advantages to slow travelling, I'll mention a couple of these: 

  • It is often cheaper. Staying in one place for a while saves money on travelling and you can find cheap but delicious places to eat. Also, visiting sights other than the touristy ones, will also really reduce your spendings. Furthermore, if you don't make a strict travel plan, you can work around expensive tickets by travelling on the days the prices are lowest. 
     
  • It is often more sustainable. Travelling different and less can really reduce your footprint on this world. 
     
  • You'll come back more relaxed. Because you plan less, and look at the time less, you can just do whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. No rush! 
     
  • You'll have a more unique experience. Depending on whether you care about this or not, it can be an advantage of slow travelling. You can experience the local aspects of life, instead of just the tourist hotspots. 
Slow Travel

Slow Travel

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When you read the trends and blogs, it is all about Sustainability. Real sustainability, no words but actions!

I have stumbled over the trend: Slow Travel. 

It is not because I am old(er).... that I like it. What is Slow Travel? It is what my mom used to say, when I was a child. It is about the trip, being on the way and not about the destination. Take your time, enjoy, stand still, observe, learn, grow and take it easy. It is not about more and it is also not about less. It is about balance and experience. 

When you are at the start of your travel career, you like to see, or at least I did, as many places as possible. Waterfalls, the road less traveled and mountains, coasts, different coasts, certain cities. As long as you have seen it all and not missed anything. After a couple of waterfalls later, a couple of mountain treks and a lot of beaches, you realize, it is not about the amount of things you see, it is about how you experience a certain place and the people you meet.

My trendy travel is definitely slow. Especially after covid and all the requirements needed to enter a certain country. I am taking time, to see and experience everything in the same country. In a slow way, no rush, with time to talk to people and to take time to meet locals. It is definitely a more balanced way of traveling. It is a state of mind, a low impact way of travel. And slow travel, brings slow living and I believe at the end, happiness and understanding. 

Travelling sustainably and ethically: tips & tricks

Travelling sustainably and ethically: tips & tricks

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Hey everyone, 

Today I want to talk about travelling sustainably and ethically, since I think these are two of the most important things if you want to keep travelling and enjoying cultures/natures. 

So much can be learnt through travelling. It is meaningful and wonderful and gives us the opportunity to explore other ways of thinking, other cultures, other perspectives on things and not to mention a great variety of beautiful ecosystems. It is easy to assume that the way we do things here is the right way, that how we live, is how it should be, but travelling can totally mess this idea up, in a good way :). However, tourism can also put great stress on other cultures and ecosystems. Whole societies can change and disappear if tourism is performed in an unsustainable way. In this day and age in which travelling is so popular, easy and cheap, it is therefore very important to travel sustainably to sustain a place and its character. 

So what makes travelling sustainable? Many ideas and opinions exist about this, but I think it comes down to focussing on these things: respect, ethics, eco-tourism. Again, these terms can be interpreted in multiple ways of course haha. 

Respect is one of the main things if you want to be accepted into a culture, but also preserve a culture. Respect begins with researching the country you're visiting. This means looking into the culture, the rules, the unwritten rules and sometimes even the language if you're up for it. Getting to know a culture before you see it (by reading, watching movies/documentaries, researching the internet) can already increase your respect for it. Even though you might already think you are respectful, understanding exactly what and why will help you to act on it even better! And, it's also great fun to know so much about a culture. You can talk to local people about it, or explain things to other tourists which in turn helps them to travel more sustainably as well. 

Being respectful and being ethical has a lot in common. However, being ethical to me means that you are aware of what you do and how you do it, and that you really try to limit any negative impact you can have on cultures/environments. This means that for everything you decide to do, you do some research on how, why, where and by whom. So if you want to visit a local village for example, how is the trip conducted, what are the real reasons behind the trip (making money or supporting the local industry?), where are you going (what kind of village is it? Are they real local places, or are they places set up for tourism and making money?) and who is conducting the tour (is it local, what do they spend the profit on? etc). Of course, some of these things are really difficult to find out, but by trying to dig deeper than just booking the first cheap option, you might really have a positive impact on local cultures and help in preserving them. The same can be important for animal/wildlife shelters. 

Ecotourism, a term defined by the World Conservation Union as "Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples." As you can read In ecotourism a big part of the money made by tourism is usually put into conservation practices, like tree planting, preserving lands or helping animals. This goes hand-in-hand with cultural conservation. It's all about minimising your impact on the environment and being aware of what you can do (through tourism) to preserve the country you're visiting. Again, you can do research on the impacts of certain things you want to do. You can also find out which place you should and shouldn't visit by reading reviews for example. For example in Thailand, elephant riding can be a very popular activity for tourists, but it is terrible for the elephants. If you do want to see an elephant though, or maybe even be super close to one, you can visit an animal/elephant shelter where the elephants live that were rescued from these terrible circumstances. Often, you can also volunteer at these places which helps them in taking care of the animals and sheltering more animals. 

If you want to know more about eco-tourism, check out this page for example: https://ecotourism.org/news/

Well, I think it's all about pre-reading, which is also a fun way to prepare for your travels. Learning about a country can help you in making sustainable decicions. Travel in a local way, eat in a local way and sleep locally, this can all help in preserving nature, food and whole cultures. If you have more suggestions, let me know! Good luck with planning your sustainable travels :). 

Cheers, 

Hannah

 

 

Teach your way around the world: blogs and contributions - Bundle

Teach your way around the world: blogs and contributions - Bundle

Find someone who - Language teaching material

Find someone who - Language teaching material

teacher in class of students

Education Category: Language
Ages: 4-8, 8-12, 12-16

A way for students to get to know each other in a new setting is to let them find someone who has had a specific experience. The students will ask each other predetermined questions, such as:

'Look for someone who has...'

  • visited another country
  • played in a band
  • met someone famous

Think about how many questions you want the students to ask each other. Think about the instructions you'll give about answering the questions, and about the questions which are culturally accepted in the country where you are teaching.

Teaching English without Teaching English: TEDxTalk

Teaching English without Teaching English: TEDxTalk

Teaching English to students who's first language is not English can be quite difficult. They may be able to answer certain questions and do well on tests about the topics that they had to learn. However, when it comes to having a regular conversation with your students or asking about something outside of their learning area, students usually have great difficulty with answering questions. In this TEDx video, Robert Guzman, a full professor at the University of Puerto Rico, explains his teaching method that he calls "teaching English without teaching English". It is a very interesting video to watch,

...Read more
Teaching English Abroad - Does age matter?

Teaching English Abroad - Does age matter?

Teaching English is a popular way to work abroad for a few months or even years. Although some cities are crowded with English teachers, more provincial areas still have many who are looking to improve their English.

There are always many interesting questions involved, such as one today. A woman asked if age mattered when looking for a teaching job abroad. Although you can travel (and work) at any age - and it's probably more about your mindset than anything else.. Still in some countries of for some organizations it will be a deal breaker if you are over 60...

Hopefully for those of you who are looking for opportunities to go abroad after retiring and looking for a teaching job > this interview with Donna who teaches English and travels the world at age 68 is inspiring!

Turning tables: learning from students while teaching English abroad

Turning tables: learning from students while teaching English abroad

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Recently I read a nice blog written by "TEFL" teacher Ashley Sheets. Ashley, or Miss Sheets, shows that teaching a (foreign) language abroad also is about learning the other way around. Learning about working and living in other cultures, acquiring new competencies, getting insights in other ways of living, etc.

/// Ashley's blog ///

Turning Tables

Miss Ashley, Miss Sheets, Ashley teacher.....I get called a lot of things. I’ve taught English as a second or foreign language in quite a few different countries over the past seven years, and my work in international schools has given me access to students from more countries than I can remember. And these students have all had different names for me. In South Korea it was Ashley teacher (usually pronounced “Ash-uh-lee teach-uh!” by the little ones in my kindergarten class). In the sweltering Marshall Islands it was Miss Ashley. My Somali students referred to me simply, respectfully, as “Miss”. 

Being in a room full of rambunctious 5 year old Koreans, all speaking their mother tongue and running amuck with the level of energy that is generally afforded to those of their age, was never something I expected in life. Nor did I ever expect to spend a year of my life teaching largely uninspired but utterly delightful island kids on a tiny piece of land the size of a football field (the same kids who couldn’t stand grammar lessons, but serenaded me with ukulele singalongs and shared their ramen/kool-aid mixtures with me). It just goes to show that if anything can be said about teaching English abroad, it’s that it is never, ever, dull! 

For everything that I have ever helped a students to learn, they have taught me something in return. Regardless of age - child, teenager, adult - they all have something to teach me, and I could not possibly have chosen a profession that had more life lessons in store for me. Sometimes these lessons have been wonderful, sometimes difficult, sometimes life-affirming. When I lived in other countries and taught in their schools, I was a complete and total outsider, doing my best to swim against the current and offer up my students all the English that they could absorb during the short time they had with me. But outside of those classrooms, I was utterly immersed in learning as much as I could about the language and culture that enveloped me almost completely. I was a tiny foreign fish in a very large pond, and I always felt that way.

But teaching in English speaking countries, specifically in America and in the UK, has been a different experience altogether. Helping my little fish in the big pond that I call home, where I can speak and understand the language inside and outside of school, creates a completely different atmosphere for learning, and adds a sense of urgency for these students that just want to communicate with the world they find themselves living in. 

One of my very first teaching experiences is still, to my mind, one of the most rewarding I’ve had. In my hometown in Ohio, there exists a huge population of Somali refugees that have permanently emigrated to the USA. Years ago, I served as a teaching assistant in a class of only Somali woman, friends and neighbors all and ranging in age from 16 - 80, with very little English knowledge among them. These women needed the language, not just to move toward some goal of “assimilation”, or for a big test; but to find jobs and help their children in school, to fight with their aggressive landlords, and run their small businesses. 

It was the purest form of language learning, and many of the women didn’t even know how to hold a pencil. My oldest student was nearly 80-although she couldn’t confirm it, as she had no way to be entirely sure of the date and year of her birth. With a wide, toothless grin she came to class every evening and, along with her classmates, helped me realize that I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else but helping people just like her learn my language, if that’s what they wanted or needed to do. 

Now I teach in a school with a huge mix of students from countries around the world. Every day, we come together, and we teach each other. I refuse to think that they are the only ones learning anything, and hopefully they are learning as much from me as I do from them. So Ashley teacher it is. Or Miss Ashley. Miss Sheets works too. But what the students call me isn’t as important as what we continue to learn from each other. We’ve got a nice thing going.

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Share your experiences

  • In what way -and about what- did you learn yourself while teaching abroad? Share your experiences by posting a comment, or write a blog yourself.

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  • Thinking about Teaching English Abroad? Read more about the online and weekend TEFL course and increase your chances of finding a job abroad with an internationally recognised TEFL certificate.
  • Read Ashley's blog @expatsblog.com
Backpacken en reizen - WorldSupporter Theme

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Travel insurances and insurances for long term abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
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This content is used in bundle:

WorldSupporter: Theme pages for activities abroad - Bundle

Backpacking and travel your way around the world - Worldsupporter Theme
Emigration and moving abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
Learning languages and language courses abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
Internships Abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
Remote working abroad for digital and global nomads - WorldSupporter Theme
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and learning English - WorldSupporter Theme
Travel insurances and insurances for long term abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
Volunteer abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
Working Abroad & Working Holidays - WorldSupporter Theme
Study your way around the world - WorldSupporter Theme

Backpacking and travel abroad: main content and contributions - Bundle

Backpacking and travel your way around the world - Worldsupporter Theme
Sustainable live, travel and work - WorldSupporter Theme
Travel gear and packing lists for going abroad - Worldsupporter Theme
Travel destinations and and experiences: blogs and contributions of WorldSupporters - Bundle
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