Communicate with your country’s embassy
When traveling around other countries, letting your native country’s embassy know the expected length of your trip and other relevant information during your time abroad is essential regardless if you are away for a few days or a month.
Let someone know your whereabouts
Whether it’s giving your best friend or a loved one your whereabouts on your trip, keeping someone at home informed is absolutely necessary when you are abroad for a given amount of time.
Meet with a doctor
Before you leave for your adventure, be sure to consult with a doctor to discuss the vaccinations you may need to receive. Keep in mind that vaccinations do vary according to your destination. Meeting with a travel doctor can offer insight in terms of determining which vaccinations or other precautionary measures you should take.
Be aware of local emergency centers
Gaining a better understanding of where to receive help in the case of an emergency is especially important wherever you visit. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with your hostel or hotel’s surrounding area will also help you to navigate your new neighborhood regardless of the timeframe you are visiting.
Check Your Taxis
Research common means of transportation in your new destination and more importantly, how reliable the taxi system is in the country you are visiting. This way, you can check the driver’s license, company affiliation, etc. before getting into a taxi with someone you may not have the necessary credentials.
As every country or society has their own set of cultural norms, social ideologies. etc., it is therefore vital to briefly read up on how to be the best traveler when you go to said destination. This will not only allow you to become a well-rounded traveler at your destination, but will help you acquire skills to travel to your next destination with more ease.
Keep your valuables close
Often times looked over by some travelers, keeping track of your passport, cash, credit cards, etc. Also, be sure to not carry all your valuables in one bag or suitcase in case you happen to lose it or an unfortunate event occurs.
Copies of passport
With your passport continuing to be the primary form of identification for world travel, take a second to make a few copies of this document and disseminate them across your suitcases. In addition to leaving your travel itinerary with someone you trust at home, be sure to also leave a copy of your passport as a precautionary measure.
The legacy of the Maya Empire resonates throughout Central America. Once extending across present day Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, southern Mexico, and western Honduras, the Mayans virtually disappeared by A.D. 900. Even today, scholars continue to debate over what caused the decline, citing circumstances as disparate as water loss and earthquakes to diseases and invasions from outside conquerers.
This once great Pre-Columbian civilization demonstrated a great degree of prowess in agriculture, pottery, hieroglyphics, calendaring, and mathematics, but what the Mayans may be most remembered for today is their awe-inspiring ruins.
To this day, tourist and locals alike flock to these ruins to connect with one of the most impressive and mysterious civilizations on our planets history. Here are five (but certainly not all!) of the most impressive.
Tucked away in the jungles of present day Campeche, Calakmul is one of the largest Mayan cities ever uncovered. With over 6,500 ancient structures identified within, Calakmul’s 55 meter (180 foot) high pyramid is by far the tallest and most well-known. The Mayan people often built upon existing temples in order to achieve their highest structures. Calakmul is a great example of this practice.
Located in present day Chiapas, Mexico, Palenque might be smaller than some of its neighboring Mayan cities, but the craftsmanship of the architecture and sculptures is unrivaled. One notable site is the Temple of Inscriptions, which is the only Mesoamerican pyramid built to serve as a funerary monument.
Aside from being the tallest structure in Uxmal at 115 ft, the Pyramid of the Magician is one of the best preserved Pre-Columbian sites in Mexico. What sets this pyramid apart are the oval layers of structure. Most Mayan pyramids are comprised of mostly rectangular or square layers. While the name Uxmal may mean “built three times” in Mayan, this pyramid appears to have been built in five phases, starting from the sixth century continuing periodically through the 10th century.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable temples of the Maya Empire is located at the Chichen Itza site. Nicknames El Castillo, this temple had astronomical significance to the Mayan people. The four faces of the pyramid each have a stairway with 91 steps. Including the shared step at the top, this adds up to 365—the number of days in a year.
Between ca. 200 to 900 AD, Tikal was the largest Mayan city with an estimated population between 100,000 and 200,000 inhabitants. Situated in modern day Guatemala, Tikal contains 6 large temple pyramids, restored buildings scattered throughout the area, and many more hidden within the jungle. The largest structure is the Temple-pyramid IV. At roughly 72 meters (230 feet) high, the top of this temple offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views in the world.
While there are still so many other Mayan ruins to visit, an avid traveller can’t go wrong with any one of these five. You may not be able to visit all in one trip, but picking one as your central place of exploration and then mapping out nearby structures will prove to be an enlightening and humbling travel experience.
The United States has two coasts full of gorgeous beaches, but it’s hard to rival those found in California. Whether you’re looking to swim, surf, sunbath, play volleyball, birdwatch, shop, or all of the above, California has everything you need to enjoy the perfect beach day.
With it’s 1,264 mile coastline, it can be difficult to know where to start, but here is a list of my favorites.
1. El Matador State Beach, Malibu
Around the world, Malibu is known for its luxurious hotels and real estate, its high-end shopping, and its beautiful landscapes. It’s beaches also don’t disappoint. Perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, El Matador State Beach features rugged cliffs cut apart by steep dirt trails that lead to the shore. Explore the hidden sea caves and stay until the late afternoon to view one of the most mesmerizing sunsets in the world.
2. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur
Big Sur has been featured in songs by The Beach Boys, Bobby Darrin, Alanis Morisette, The Thrills, and more. Jack Kerouac wrote a novel titled by it. Big Sur epitomizes what real California beach living means for many of it’s residents, but somehow it has remained somewhat under the radar to visitors. Maybe that’s what gives Big Sur’s its charm: when you visit, you rarely feel suffocated by tourists. It’s a beach anyone can feel an home at.
3. Thousand Steps Beach, Laguna Beach
Thousand Steps Beach is best known for its “private” aqua tide pools and sea cave exploring. It gets its name from the staircase that leads down (and back up!) to the beach. You can regularly catch talented groups of surfers catching waves further out to sea.
4. Santa Monica Beach & Pier, Santa Monica
When people picture Los Angeles life, the Santa Monica Pier is an iconic piece of imagery associated with it. This highly-popular destination see’s millions of tourists every year. For boardwalk-style fun, pearly white sand, and palm trees as far as the eyes can see, this is the beach you want. The pier is famous for it’s roller coaster, especially when it lights up at night.
5. Coronado Beach, Coronado, San Diego
Coronado Beach and the famous Hotel del Coronado has some of the softest sand you’ll ever touch. The water is perfect for surfers and swimmers alike. Crowned by hotels Victorian architecture, it’s understandable why it has been named both a National and California Historic Landmark. If you’re coming to San Diego, a stop by “The Del” is a must.
6. Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz’s historic boardwalk was established in 1865, and today is still one of the most well-known seaside amusement parks in California. Enjoy rollercoasters, haunted houses, and carnival games as you sample funnel cake, candy apples, or even clam chowder if you visit during the annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-off. There are usually plenty of survers lining the oceans horizon and plenty of beachgoers simply enjoying the sun.
7. Point Lobos State Reserve, Carmel by-the-Sea
Point Lobos is one of the most beautiful hiking destinations in the state. You’ll be blown away at the vivid colors that decorate every leaf, branch, and trail that you walk through. Small coves line the coast line, and you’ll be able to spot tons of hidden wildlife as you move through the area. The water can be cold and isn’t the best for swimming, but the sites truly cannot be rivaled.
8. Baker Beach, San Francisco
If you wanted an iconic glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, it doesn’t get much more picturesque than Baker Beach. There’s also a lovely trail along the cliffs connecting to the beach, perfect for a sunset stroll.
9. Limantour Beach, Point Reyes Station
The tiny town of Point Reyes Station only holds a population of less than 900 and lies within the greater Point Reyes National Seashore made up of a dozen gorgeous beaches. Limantour beach is where you’ll want to go for the best hiking trails and wildlife. Along the beach you’ll regularly find 100’s of species of birds, seals, ducks, and even whales along the shoreline. Because of it’s beauty and wildlife, it’s also an important nature preserve, so it’s protected by the U.S. National Park Service.
10. Venice Beach, Venice, Los Angeles
You can’t have a list about California beaches without including Venice Beach. The world-famous promenade is lined with bohemian shops, tattoo parlors, and arts and crafts make by local artists. All walks of life come together for food, sun, beach activities, and even some body building at Muscle Beach. This is a great location for people watching, as you’ll see street entertainers with all kinds of unique talents parading for tourists every day of the week.
Madrid is not only the capital of Spain, but it is also one of the most elegant cities you will ever travel to. Filled with beautiful boulevards, expansive parks, one of a kind art, and plenty of history, Madrid is on all lists of top cities worth visiting.
Considering Spain’s bountiful tourist attractions, Madrid will most likely not be your only stop on your journey through the Spanish lands. Therefore, if you have a limited amount of time to visit Madrid, here’s a guide of things you cannot miss out on:
Your first stop, and a lengthy one for that matter, will be at Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art. The triangle is composed of the top three museums in the city: Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Known for its ample European collection ranging from the 12th century to the 19th century, Museo del Prado is Madrid’s main Spanish national art museum.
On the other hand, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is more focused on Spanish 20th century impressionist and expressionist art. It includes collections renown artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The Reina Sofía’s Museum’s most prized possession is considered to be Picasso’s famous painting referencing the Spanish Civil War, titled “Guernica.”
The third museum which comprises the Golden Art Triangle is the The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. This museum composed of the second largest private art collection in the world, after the British Art Collection. The museum does a great job at filling in the historical gaps between the art collections found in Museo del Prado and Reina Sofía.
Once you’ve you’ve completed your journey through years and years of well-preserved art, it’s time to go down a different historic lane – visit Madrid’s Royal Palace and Armory. You will learn about all kinds of remarkable historical anecdotes that took place within the walls of the palace and the armory through generations and generations of the Royal Family.
Another historic landmark you should not miss is Plaza Mayor. This central plaza was built during Philip III’s reign, and the Puerta del Sol is the central point in the plaza where numerous Spanish roads connect; it was also one of the original gates to the city of Madrid in the 15th century.
To finish off your historic day, take a nighttime city bus tour and enjoy other city landmarks that will be beautifully illuminated. Monuments and palaces will take on a new dimension and you will learn all the fun facts behind every architectural piece of work.
By the time you finish up your strolls through museums and historic landmarks, you should take a break. Visit the beautifully groomed Parque El Retiro. It’s one of Madrid’s largest parks, and inside you find a crystal palace, a lake where you can rent a boat and row around, and a aromatic rose garden that will certainly take your breath away.
Regardless of what you ultimately decide to do and see in Madrid, one thing you must not pass on is the incredible cuisine. Don’t be afraid to take the Metro and visit barrios like La Latina, Chueca, or even the San Miguel Market in Plaza Mayor and bask in some delicious tapas, local beer and Spanish wine. With a belly full of Spanish flavors you will not regret your time spent in Madrid.