Tag Archives: international travel

Applications Being Accepted for 16th Annual Global Scavenger Hunt, Around-the-World Mystery Tour, Set for April 17-May 9, 2020

Racing out of Petra, Jordan, team Lazy Monday, Eric & Kathryn Verwillow of California, who would go on to win second place in the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

SANTA ROSA, USA –The 16th annual edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt, known among travel cognoscenti as the world travel championship, is set to take place over 23-days between April 17 and May 9, 2020, is now accepting applications for entry. Eager Indiana Jones-types of adventurers and curious travelers wanting to test their travel IQ against other travelers in an extraordinary around-the-world travel adventure competition that crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers, can apply at GlobalScavengerHunt.com

“Competitions, trophies and titles provide inspiration,” says Event Director William Chalmers, “We want the best international travelers to participate. The 2020 event will find out if travel writers and bloggers know the world as well as they claim to; whether social media influencers and travel agents can go beyond their staged selfies and glossy brochures; and whether some of the world’s ‘most traveled people’ and Amazing Race wannabe’s actually have any real-world travel skills. Winning our event is the ultimate test and proof.” 

The 2020 event will pit savvy international travelers against each other by taking them on A Blind Date with the World, visiting ten secret destinations without any prior preparation, and then have them unravel a constant blitz of highly authentic, participatory and challenging culturally-oriented scavenges along the way, like: meditating with monks, training elephants, taking flamenco lessons, cooking local dishes with local chefs, searching out Lost Cities, cracking sacred temple mysteries, joining in local celebrations, and learning local languages enough to decipher their scavenger hunt clues. Trusting strangers in strange lands will be their focus as they circle the globe for three weeks. The event has touched foot in 85 countries to date.

The title of The World’s Greatest Travelers and free trip around the world to defend their titles in the 2021 event await the travelers worthy enough to win the 16th edition of the world travel championship.    

Event participation is open but limited; the $25,000 per team entry fee includes all international airfare, First Class hotels, 40% of meals, and special event travel gear. All travelers are interviewed for suitability and single travelers are welcome to apply. For additional information please visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com, or contact GreatEscape Adventures Inc., at +1.310.281.7809. (CST#2071053-40)

See Global Scavenger Hunt: In the Scramble to be Crowned ‘World’s Best Travelers’ and more features on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com

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Top 10 Best Places to Live Overseas in 2017

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal is on the Top 10 List of Places to Live Overseas, produced by Live and Invest Overseas.

Where are the best places in the world in 2017 for Americans to live better, reinvent their life and have a grand adventure? That’s the basis for the new Live and Invest Overseas’ ranking of the “Top 10 Best Places to Live Overseas in 2017”. The list includes locales in traditional places like Portugal, France and Spain, as well as places one might not expect, including the Dominican Republic, Malaysian Borneo, Nicaragua, and Colombia.

“Our best places to live overseas list is part of a new series of New Year rankings that the editors of Live and Invest Overseas have put together,” said Kathleen Peddicord, author and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, a leading resource on investment, real estate, retirement, and living overseas today. “For this list, we asked ourselves where are the best places in the world to live better, reinvent one’s life, and have a grand adventure in 2017?”

The list includes locales in traditional places like Portugal, France, and Spain, as well as places one would not expect, including the Dominican Republic, Malaysian Borneo, Nicaragua, and Colombia (and Kathleen adds a “bonus”: Paris).

Here are Kathleen’s recommendations:

1)    Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

Portugal is the best-kept secret of Old World Europe. For three years running, we have named its Algarve coast as the world’s best place to retire overseas.

Coastal Carvoeiro, in particular, qualifies as perhaps the most appealing place on earth to call home if you want to live on the water in a real-world (as opposed to a developing-world) setting.

The take-your-breath-away views from Carvoeiro’s rocky coast, the constant sunshine, the near-perfect weather year-round, the food, the wine, the history… it all adds up to top-shelf of living yours for a very bargain price.

Thanks to the current down value of the euro, the enviable coastal Continental lifestyle on offer in Carvoeiro is further reduced… and the cost of a very rentable home or condo is irresistibly discounted.

2)    El Poblado, Colombia

Escobar’s dead and the city he and his goons once terrorized is today at peace.

Located in one corner of Medellín, El Poblado offers a comfortable, tranquil, idyllic way of life for a super affordable cost. At the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso, the luxury-level cosmopolitan lifestyle available in El Poblado is an even greater bargain.

Medellín is culture rich and Euro chic; its people well dressed, well mannered, and welcoming. Medellín’s heart, El Poblado, is our #1 pick for city living on a budget.

3)    Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Las Terrenas is quintessential Caribbean with a French twist. The big and established community of French expats living in this white-sand beach town means fresh baguette, great restaurants, and kisses on both cheeks in greeting.

Infrastructure is improving, establishing residency is easy, and the cost of living is one of the great bargains of today’s Caribbean… making Las Terrenas our #1 pick for a new life with a Caribbean Sea view.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

4)    Santa Familia, Belize

If you want to leave the troubles and the worries of our age behind, little Santa Familia village in Cayo, Belize, is calling your name. Life in Cayo is back to basics, simple, and sweet. You know your neighbors, they know you, and you all look out for each other.

Belize’s Cayo is a region of wide-open spaces, fresh air, warm sun and fertile land, making it our pick for the world’s best place to disconnect and unplug.

5)    Pau, France

France is a country of superlatives. World’s best quality of life… best health care… best food… best art and fashion… most beautiful, most romantic city (more on this in a moment)…

To many, la vie française is the good life defined, and the charms and appeals of French Country Life are unrivalled. In this context, we suggest you consider Pau, also known as the “Green City” and the “Garden City,” thanks to its ratio of greenery per square meter per person, one of the highest of any European city.

Pau’s landscape is accessible woodlands, the steep slopes of Jurançon wine country, the history-packed Plaine de Nay and its main town of Nay and the pretty rolling countryside and ancient towns of the Gaves de Béarn.

Pau is also a university town, with close to 12,000 university students living on and off campus, helping to keep it lively.

Brits and other North Europeans have been seeking out this part of France for retirement for years. This is a very friendly bunch of people with a wide range of backgrounds and interests always ready to welcome newcomers.

6)    Chiang Mai, Thailand

Since the 1800s, the Thai city of Chiang Mai has been luring expats from the West with its über-low cost of living, great weather (especially compared with elsewhere in Thailand), rich history and distinct culture.

The heart of Chiang Mai lies within its old city walls where ancient and modern Buddhist temples coexist with public and international schools, residential and commercial neighborhoods.

Modern Chiang Mai has grown beyond the ancient walls and offers mega-malls, huge multi-national grocery and department stores, and all other trappings of life in the 21st century.

The biggest advantage to life in Chiang Mai is its cost in general and of health care in particular. A couple can live here comfortably on as little as US$1,100 per month, and you can see an English-speaking doctor for US$20.

7)    Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen is a little beach town that sits about an hour south of Cancún on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Once a sleepy fishing town, the port was inadvertently put on the map by Jacques Cousteau in 1954 when he filmed an underwater documentary of the Great Mayan Reef just offshore.

Divers began seeking out these Caribbean waters for themselves, and in the 1970s a port was built to ferry the tourists from the mainland to Cozumel.

Today Playa is home to more than 10,000 foreigners, including Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Argentinians, Venezuelans and many other nationals of all ages including 20- and 30-somethings, young families and retired couples.

Playa is also a welcoming destination for the LGBT community.

8)    Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, in the northeast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea, is a vibrant, colorful, proud city that combines the passion of the Spanish with the efficiency and organization of the Catalans.

This is a city with a strong energy that has not been dampened by Spain’s ongoing economic woes and the economic, cultural, and administrative capital of Catalonia.

Spain’s second-biggest city is easily and quickly explored thanks to its compact, well-laid-out design… and the opportunities for diversion, entertainment, and discovery are many. Art and architecture from pre-Roman to Modernista is around every corner. This is a city of galleries, museums, monuments, theaters, restaurants and shopping… with the beach just right there.

9)    Granada, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a beautiful country with a troubled history that appeals to the romantic, the poet, the eco-traveler, the surfer (the break off Nicaragua’s Pacific coast is world-class) and the bargain hunter. The cost of living, of real estate and of everything else is a steal.

Geographically, Nicaragua is blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forest and rivers. In this regard, it’s got everything Costa Rica’s got, all less discovered, less developed and less expensive.

Architecturally, too, Nicaragua is notable. Colonial Granada is its architectural jewel. This city, one of the oldest in Latin America, is also busier and livelier today than at any other time during its near five centuries of history, attracting tourists and expats in record numbers.

When you see it, you understand why. The setting for this colonial town is like out of a fairy tale—the lake, the volcano, the mountains. At night, the backdrop is an ink-streaked sky that, just before the sun sets, illuminates the yellow and white cathedrals in ways that would have inspired Matisse to set up his easel.

10)   Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

This laid-back and quiet city is one of the most pleasant places to live in Asia and is incredibly welcoming. Its biggest practical advantages are the low cost of living and the high standard (and low cost) of health care. A couple could live well here on US$1,200 a month or less.

The city is small and walkable, less than 3 kilometers from end-to-end. Life revolves around the water and is lived out-of-doors. At home, you can fill your days snorkeling, diving, boating and ferry hopping from the city center to neighboring islands.

This is a little-known, low-key, low-population destination offering a tranquil, serene, close-to-nature lifestyle at a cost that’s a global bargain.

Bonus from Kathleen: Paris, France

“I would argue that no list of world’s most appealing places to spend time is complete if it doesn’t include Paris. This is as true as we turn the corner into 2017 as it has been since people first compiled world’s best lists.

“Life in Paris can be as good as life gets anywhere. I figure you know that.

“What you may not realize is that the cost of living in Paris can be manageable.

“About a month before our move from France to Panama, my husband Lief presented me with a budget showing that our cost of living in Panama City would be more or less on par with what it had been in Paris.

“I suggested that Lief, an accountant by training, double-check his figures.

“But Lief was right. Our day-to-day costs have averaged out to be the same in the Hub of the Americas as they were in the City of Light.

“Paris is a place where even a modest lifestyle can feel rich and where some of the greatest pleasures—strolls along the Seine, picnics in the Luxembourg Gardens—come free.

“Paris is also a city where a car is an unnecessary liability. We lived four years in Paris happily auto-free. We walked everywhere. The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop and our son’s school were all less than 15 minutes from our apartment, as were (are) the Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, the Latin Quarter, six movie theaters and at least a dozen cafes and restaurants.

“When we wanted to venture beyond our quartier we took the Metro. For 1 euro 90 cents you can get from anywhere to anywhere in this city you might want to go.

“Other things in Paris can be cheap, too, including necessaries of modern living like cable, telephone and Internet. You can get a phone plan in France that includes unlimited calls to anywhere in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean plus cable TV and wireless internet and cable for 45 euros monthly.

“These thoughts are on my mind as we move into 2017 because this summer Lief and I will be repositioning our home base from Panama City back to Paris.

“If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go? For me the answer to that question has always been Paris,” Kathleen writes.

Other lists in the 2017 New Year Overseas series are “The Best Places to Buy Real Estate,” “The Best Places to Go Offshore” (for taxes, banking, asset protection, second passports, etc.), and “The Best Places to Start a Business.” Every July, Live and Invest Overseas publishes its annual Retire Overseas Index.

Based in Panama City, Panama, LIOS is the leading resource for people who want to live, retire, and invest overseas. Headed by Kathleen Peddicord and Lief Simon – who collectively have more than 50 years’ experience visiting, living, and investing in foreign countries – LIOS and its free e-letter service the Overseas Opportunity Letter have more than 500,000 regular readers.

More information is available at www.liveandinvestoverseas.com.   

 

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Travel Insurance Company Offers Checklist of Precautions to Keep In Mind When Traveling

Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, one of the most popular attractions in the world. APRIL Travel Protection offers Americans tips on traveling abroad © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, one of the most popular attractions in the world. APRIL Travel Protection offers Americans tips on traveling abroad © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

MIAMI, FL – As a travel insurance company, APRIL Travel Protection may not take sides in partisan conflicts, but it cannot ignore the harsh realities of the world as it strives to keep Americans safe when traveling domestically and abroad. APRIL has compiled a checklist of simple precautions travelers should keep top-of-mind when on vacation.

“It is imperative that travelers are educated on how to remain safe when vacationing in a world that is becoming increasingly volatile,” said Jason Schreier, CEO of APRIL USA.

Reports of hate crimes on the rise throughout the U.S. and a new State Department advisory warning against European travel are unlikely to deter Americans from vacationing. Traditionally, travel agents look out for their clients’ best interests, ensuring they are properly informed and adequately protected. This is one of the many reasons APRIL recommends using a trusted travel counselor.

“Travel agents are often the vacationer’s first line of defense, playing a crucial role in keeping clients safe,” noted Schreier.

“It’s not our role to influence or pass judgment on the political process in America, but regardless of personal opinions on Trump’s presidency, travel counselors recall the anti-American sentiments prevalent during the George W. Bush administration. They are therefore cognizant of shifting perceptions of Americans internationally,” explained Schreier. “Likewise, travel agents assisting members of the LGTB community will advise clients on the dangers they may face in destinations where intolerance is commonplace, often steering them away from potentially dangerous areas in favor of destinations which are more welcoming.”

Vacationing is a staple of American society and one of the primary ways Americans enrich themselves culturally. World events should not deter one from traveling, but vacationers need to be aware of their vulnerabilities and protect themselves accordingly.

Purchasing a comprehensive travel protection policy is the best way to protect one’s vacation investment. Following are a few additional common-sense precautions of which travelers should be mindful when visiting less familiar destinations:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in many cities, travelers average 10 pedestrian miles or more per day as they take in all the sights and sounds of their destination. It’s easy to get distracted and wander off-course. Many travelers actively leave the beaten path in search of more authentic cultural experiences, while some are lured outside of established tourist zones by nightlife or bargain shopping districts. Knowing which areas are safe is crucial. Most Americans know which areas to avoid in their own cities, but many take their safety for granted when traveling in distant locales. Identifying safe zones and staying within those boundaries should be a top priority. Travel agents and hotel staff can be a valuable resource in this regard.
  2. Carry a working mobile phone. Global cellular coverage is a lot better than it used to be 10 years ago. And while roaming charges vary based on carrier, U.S. cell phones will generally operate throughout most of North America as well as many overseas destinations. For travelers who anticipate significant usage, a pre-paid phone or SIM card-or a supplemental talk, text and data plan on their existing phone-may prove prudent, but at a minimum, travelers should carry a working mobile phone at all times. The temptation to disconnect when on vacation may be strong, but operational pay phones are increasingly difficult to find in the case of an emergency.
  3. Ask your hotel concierge to arrange a taxi. In most American cities, the taxi and livery industry is tightly regulated. This is not always the case internationally. When traveling in a region where taxi oversight may be lax, a hotel concierge can recommend a reputable company. If a return trip is anticipated, get a card from the driver and use the same taxi company for the ride back to the hotel.
  4. Travel in groups. Travel packages are often priced based on double occupancy accommodations, but a single occupancy surcharge is particularly common in the mature market. But while FIT or independent travel may be the dominant trend these days, depending on one’s destination, solo vacationers may be wise to consider an escorted tour package. Even for traveling duos, the temptation to split up to pursue individual interests is natural. The husband’s going to impose limits on shopping for shoes and accessories, while spending hours at the pub is bound to try the wife’s patience. There may be instances when it becomes necessary to divide and conquer. In these moments, stick to heavily populated public areas. Statistically, criminals are more likely to prey on individuals than groups.
  5. Let it go. As Americans, we often engage our freedom to speak out against racism, religious intolerance and discrimination. And while one shouldn’t turn a blind eye when observing a crime, if one is the target of a racial slur or other form of discrimination, knowing when to take a stand and when to walk away is vital. When traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a “cooler heads” mindset can help avoid unnecessary conflict escalation.

Observing common-sense precautions can help reduce the likelihood of an incident during one’s vacation, but even the most mindful traveler can be inconvenienced or worse through no fault of their own. In these cases, a comprehensive travel insurance policy can help mitigate the impact of such an occurrence on one’s vacation.

‘Stress Less’ Benefits

APRIL stands out in the marketplace by offering clear and easy-to-understand agreements that make sense for today’s traveler. Additionally, all policies sold by APRIL and its partners feature “instant adjudication” through its signature ‘Stress Less’ Benefits – a ground-breaking feature which allows policyholders to enjoy their vacation without having to worry about out-of-pocket expenses in an emergency caused by severe weather, natural disasters or a wide range of potential issues including injury, sickness, death, job loss or relocation, military duty, terrorism, strikes, supplier default and more.

As the first insurance company to provide this progressive benefit to U.S. policyholders, APRIL offers instant adjudication for applicable inconveniences that can’t be predicted in advance, including emergency medical coverage up to $250,000 (with no deductible), trip interruption covering up to 150% of your trip’s cost, and evacuation benefits up to $500,000. Cancellations are eligible for reimbursement of 100% of their trip costs.

“This means you don’t have to pay out of pocket, endure a ton of paperwork and then wait months to find out how much your policy will actually cover,” explained Schreier.

At the core of APRIL’s efforts to communicate with policyholders is its pro-active approach to keeping up travelers’ evolving needs. A multi-lingual team and 24/7 toll-free access is available from most destinations along with other convenient support channels from Skype to texting, email and live chat. APRIL is the first company to pioneer these support methods for American travelers.

APRIL Travel Protection is owned by APRIL, an international group with 45 operational companies in more than 40 different countries, serving more than six million policyholders worldwide.  APRIL is listed on Euronext Stock Exchange and has yearly sales of more than $1.1 billion.

The company’s U.S. division is supported by American Modern Insurance Group (an AM Best A+ rated carrier) as its preferred underwriter and is headquartered at 11900 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 600, Miami, FL, 33181.

Visit www.AprilTravelProtection.com to learn more.

 

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President Barack Obama Pens Article for Lonely Planet on Importance of Travel

President Obama discusses the value of international travel, especially to young people in an exclusive article for LonelyPlanet.com.
President Obama discusses the value of international travel, especially to young people in an exclusive article for LonelyPlanet.com.

(NOV 20, 2016) –– President Barack Obama shared his thoughts on the important role travel plays and his hopes for the future of the planet with Lonely Planet’s travelers on lonelyplanet.com, during his final foreign trip as President.

President Obama offered to share his thoughts with Lonely Planet on how interacting with people and cultures from different countries is essential for the world’s future. In an exclusive article written, he describes how travel is fundamental to progress and essential to overcome challenges across borders.

The President traveled extensively during his eight years in office, becoming the first sitting US president to visit Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos and Myanmar. He also paid homage at Hiroshima, Japan, and visited Vietnam. Recognizing the value of travel in cultivating face-to-face interactions, he also lifted the more than 50-year ban on US travel to Cuba.

Since the publication of its first guidebook in 1973, Lonely Planet has always believed responsible travel can be a force for good, and continues to today as the world travels with Lonely Planet content on mobile, web and in print. It’s a belief shared by President Barack Obama, detailed in his exclusive article on lonelyplanet.com, highlighting how the optimistic, tolerant and engaged young people he has met around the world give him hope for the future.

obama-lonelyplanet2

A key takeaway from his extensive travels as President is the importance of engaging beyond governments, and connecting with young people – who will determine the future of the planet – in a meaningful way. This is particularly crucial for the future of the developing world, where 90 percent of the global population under 30 lives.

“It is the world’s young people who will determine whether their voices direct the change that is sweeping our world towards greater justice, opportunity, tolerance, and mutual respect,” President Obama stated.

President Obama shared the plans he has put in place to support the empowerment of young global citizens prior to hosting a town hall meeting with young people in Peru.

For more information and to read President Barack Obama’s first person article, visit lonelyplanet.com.

Obama Administration Paves Path for Students, Millennials to Travel

Throughout his presidency, Obama has appreciated the importance of travel to bring people together, forge better understanding. Travelers become ambassadors for America and also bring back to the US appreciation for other cultures and people. The opportunity to travel abroad is particularly important for young people, and the Obama Administration has also facilitated opportunities for students and millennials to study, volunteer, work and travel abroad.

In December 2014, the National Security Council hosted a summit with 100 of the most influential travel bloggers and digital media outlets to highlight U.S. Government initiatives and discuss strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer, and work abroad.  The summit emphasized that international education and exposure are increasingly essential for the competitiveness of American companies and the American workforce, yet fewer than ten percent of students in the United States choose to study abroad.

By transforming interest in travel into study, volunteer, and work opportunities, the Administration sought to significantly increase the number and diversity of young people participating in educational, cultural, and professional experiences internationally.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, his administration has focused on broadening the scope of the U.S. government’s engagement with citizens abroad. Efforts included the President’s signature Young African Leaders Initiative, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, and a project connecting Americans to youth in the Middle East, the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative.

Studying abroad is a critical component to deepening and broadening relationships with citizens overseas. Today, fewer than 10% of students take part in study abroad. In 2012 to 2013, the total number of U.S. students taking part in study abroad was under 300,000 — only 1.5 percent of the almost 20 million American students enrolled in U.S. higher education programs.

To combat these trends, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs created the U.S. Study Abroad Office. This office  manages the Department’s study abroad scholarships and capacity building programs for American students and institutions, as well as plays a leading role in promoting the benefits of study abroad to U.S. students and parents, faculty, and education administrators. It provides resources that can help interested U.S. students navigate a complex process to study or intern abroad by offering scholarships, recommendations, and guidelines.

The summit also featured remarks, presentations, and panels of experts on current efforts around studying, volunteering, and working abroad. Experts from National Geographic, iHeartMedia, Institute for International Education, George Mason University, Millennial Trains Project, Minerva Project, Travel Channel, and Yahoo Travel shared their ideas for increasing students’ international interest.

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