Europe, Wanderlusting & Musings

Secret Hideaways in the World You Must Visit Before You Turn 40

Photo Credit: lastmammoth via Compfight cc

When people turn 40 years old, many things come across their mind, one of which is mid-life crisis. They often feel they need to try something new or regain their youthful side by doing extraordinary activities, including travelling and exploring new locations.

A study featured by Independent mentioned that adults at their 40s, in fact, have a higher happiness level than their ‘angst-ridden teens and 20s,’ as the latter still has plenty of uncertainty in their lives while the former “have worked that out and are quite satisfied.” The news portal added that one of the best ways to beat the stressful mid-life crisis is by travelling and not allowing the small things get you down.

The best way to beat any stress is by exploring at least one of the world’s best kept secrets. Just like in the movie “The Beach, there are many places around the world where you can easily be the only tourist around. These magical spots allow travellers to unwind, relax, and be themselves without having to keep up with the busy and noisy life in the city.

If you are ready to backpack and explore some of the best secret hideaways in the world that you must visit before you turn 40, then this post is exactly for you. Read on to find out more.

Appi, Japan
For those in search of the best skiing destinations in Asia, they’ll always come across Niseko, Hakuba, and Nagano in Japan that many Aussies have visited by now. But, little did they know that in the far north of the country lies a secret skiing spot that many locals love to visit – Appi in the main island of Honshu. It has only 21 trails and a few mod-cons you see in a fancy ski resort, but it provides you an authentic Japanese experience as barely anyone speaks English (so, brush up your Japanese before leaving). Nevertheless, the snow in Appi is ridiculously good with less foreign crowd to think about.

Hinatuan River, Philippines
A deep spring river on the island of Mindanao (Surigao del Sur) has many local but few foreign visitors, despite its gorgeous natural beauty. Dubbed as the ‘Enchanted River,’ the Hinatuan River is surrounded by well-preserved flora and fauna while attracting local tourists of its clear blue saltwater that seems to appear out of nowhere. The river has a  deep chasm which is believed to be at least 80 feet deep. It’s the most ideal destination for beginning to even professional snorkelers and divers as huge fishes of different species freely swim here. In a featured travel post by Rappler, a local mentioned that the bluish waters of Hinatuan river have not changed since he was a kid, despite typhoons.

Lost City, Colombia
In Latin America, Machu Picchu has been one of the sought-after destinations by many tourists for its natural beauty and historical value. But, given its popularity, it’s not an ideal place to visit for those who want peace and alone time with themselves. Well, the Lost City in Colombia offers the same value less the number of tourists. Built by the Tayrona people in the 11th century, its beauty up the hills gives you a bird’s eye view of Ciudad Perdida and its luscious green trees. It was only discovered in the 1970s deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, which is why it was largely undiscovered by the tourist hordes. The only way to get there is by hiking, but rest assured it’s a journey you will never forget.

Jiuzhaigou Valley, China

Far from the busy life of Beijing, China has its own natural beauty kept in a remote region of northern Sichuan. The Jiuzhaigou Valley presents tourists with more than 180,000 acres of nature, clear blue water, and green tall trees covering the mountains. It houses Tibetan villages and the best multi-level waterfalls with clear lakes that lets you see things from the bottom. This is exactly where you can find some 140 bird species, as well as a number of endangered plant and animals, such as the giant panda and the Sichuan takin, said UNESCO in its page about the valley.

There are plenty of secret travel destinations that will no doubt fit your travelling personality. Take note that 40 is just the start of your life to explore more of the beauties of the world, and we hoped this list has given you some ideas as to where to go next.

Do you have other secret travelling hideaways to include in this list? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Adventures, Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Solo Travel….I’m here for that!

The world has seemingly become smaller and smaller as the internet has become the tool and source to research, plan, and even take virtual tours of distant and not-so distant exotic locales around the world.  In recent times, only those of a certain economic class were afforded the opportunity or luxury to traipse off to the likes of the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and other exotic lands.  As the world has opened up to mainstream America, so too has the curiosity and desire for greater, worldlier experiences.  Amidst this new era of exploration, a new breed of traveler has emerged – welcome “The Solo Traveler”!

What separates a solo traveler from your average run of the mill traveler is a mindset; a daring, open, adventurous, brave, and most importantly uninhibited desire to explore the world.  In the mind of a “solo traveler” it is the destination and experience versus the companionship that matters most.  There is no destination too distant or off-limits as each experience begins with a purpose.  Be it a search for solitude; a quest to meet new people often in a land where YOU are the one with the accent; or just the desire to be free to indulge and move to and fro without consulting with an accompanying travel companion.

It is often freeing and most certainly liberating at best but requiring an independent spirit or desire to embark on something new and different.  Solo travel however, is most certainly not for those challenged by solitude or scared of dining alone (a phobia known as solomangarephobia or the fear of eating alone in public).  Who knew?

No fret, as there are tons of resources for solo travelers including apps, dedicated sites, travel agents, travel groups and clubs all geared to the ever-growing population of solo travelers.  So even if you’re not quite ready to take the leap on a solo journey, you can start by going alone but in a group of other solo travelers so you’re not totally out on your own.  Just google solo travel to get a taste of what that ‘world’ looks like from the perspective of those who live by it and do it on a regular basis.

I, myself have gone on adventures with others whom I did not know prior to the trip (I’ve been to Cancun, Puerto Rico and Brazil for example and had a ball) and although we traveled together we were able to move and explore on our own, by our own individual rules.  This, I can tell you is a great way to slowly move into the solo travel space while still providing you a ‘parachute’ or safety net of others to fall back on.  Here are some sites to consider when researching your own solo journeys:

  • Friendly Planet Travel – they have a wide range of destinations and types of travel (independent, groups, etc).  I peruse them quite often and am thinking of trying them out this year for my next adventure.
  • Solo Travel with Abercrombie & Kent – Best known as a luxury travel company, Abercrombie and Kent accepts solo travelers on all of its trips — to all seven continents. They also offer Solo Savings escorted group tours, where single travelers enjoy their own private accommodations during every stop of the trip, but don’t have to pay the usual single supplements. A&K either completely waives the supplement, or reduces it by up to 75%.
  • Lonely Planet – I peruse this site just because…there’s a little bit of everything on it
  • Wanderlust and Lipstick – a new site I stumbled upon but definitely a good place to start for those new to or considering solo travel
  • Contiki is geared towards younger travelers, specifically those aged 18-35. The company uses forums and social media to connect vacationers with each other before they embark on their journey. Since most of their pricing is for doubles, Contiki’s goal is to match travelers up with someone of the same sex and then book a double room for them. So if you’re looking to make friends on your trip, this is the company for you.
  • Ideal for budget travelers, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) takes single travelers to exotic destinations such as Botswana and Patagonia. They have both land adventures, which are tours on land with groups of 10-16 other travelers, or small ship adventures, which are boat tours with anywhere from 16 to 25 other travelers.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – On three of its ships — the Epic, Breakaway, and Pride of America — has cabins made exclusively for solo travelers that cost about 30% less than a double stateroom. They offers cruises all over including Alaska, Florida and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, and Panama just to name a few.

There are plenty others as well as numerous blogs, articles, and books on solo travels so it’s really personal preference as to your source for researching, planning, and ultimately making your solo travel dreams a reality.

Imagine a destination you’ve always dreamt of however you socialize it with your spouse, partner, friend, family, etc. only to discover those who would accompany you have limitations (for various and sundries of reasons); or want to provide input on the destination, travel time, even the accommodations.  Can you say downer!  Oftentimes the trip sunsets before it even gets finalized becoming more of a headache in the planning stages than the exciting dream destination you originally envisioned.  As a Solo Traveler, you think it, you plan it, it happens.  No consulting necessary as the only one to please is YOU!  It may begin with researching sites, groups, tours, etc. designated for solo travelers or destinations best suited for the solo traveler but it ends with an experience based on your expectations.

Research is key as is understanding how daring you are as in, are you courageous enough to travel alone or prefer a group of other solo travelers.  Much like Julia Roberts’ character in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” who went on a voyage to find herself after a painful divorce – solo travelers often discover much more about themselves as they are left to their own defenses, thoughts, and preferences totally unfiltered or encumbered by another.  Traveling in this fashion enables one to fully embrace ones’ surroundings to the point of self-indulgence, unfiltered, undisturbed if so desired.

Safety and precautions of course are a greater risk as a solo traveler as you are more vulnerable to scam artists and criminals targeting unsuspecting tourists in a party of one.  However, as with traveling in any capacity precautions must be made to ensure one’s safety.  With the right amount of preparation, planning, and research you will at best be armed with information on what to avoid and known safety concerns to name a few.  Travel sites often socialize key safety concerns, known dangers, and safety precautions for travelers so always do thorough research on any destination as part of your planning. However, when in doubt always trust your instincts!

Imagine doing what you want when you want in your destination of choice.  If you choose to lounge in your hotel room or by the pool all day no one will object when you travel alone. It may appear to be a lonely experience and to some, perhaps, but traveling solo opens the door to new interactions simply because you are a party of one.  Many are more inclined to approach you as a solo traveler from the wait-staff to the concierge as well as the locals.  You have the power to engage in conversations or be eyeball high in your Kindle, the choice is yours.  I have traveled abroad without knowing a soul however, by the end of the trip I made so many new connections it truly felt like I traveled with a companion or two.  The beauty of the solo travel experience is that the journey is just as you envision it to be with as little or as much interactions, excitement, and/or quiet time as you desire.

To the solo traveler in you!!!

Europe, La vida Loca, Wanderlusting & Musings

A Cote d’Azur Birthday

Greetings from Monaco on this January 9th at 10 something in the a.m…..which is also the best day of all 366 days this year (leap year this year) because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY 🎉🎁👯💃🏿🎶!!

I don’t think the weather Gods got the memo because it’s a lil overcast with a taste of drizzle here in Monaco!

Birthday morning
I can’t begin to tell you how at peace I am as I enter this new year of 42 of my life (my birthday AND 2016)!  It’s truly an internal peace that comes from knowing I control my own destiny; I don’t require the approval of anyone else for my choices and decisions; I am perfectly fine in the skin I’m in; the opinions of others of me is none of my business and therefore I focus on LIVING fully every single day for myself in order to ensure I have lived my BEST life.

This “Journey to my birthday” has been all about self, unabashedly selfish, solely about my needs, wants, and desires mentally, visually and spiritually. 

I visualized this journey a few months ago but without specifics and as the power of mind goes that which we think and truly visualize will materialize (good, bad, and otherwise).


As much as I enjoy traveling with and creating moments/memories with others I needed to do this with no disruptions nor interferences.  So it was designed as my solo getaway to reset, detox, and be all about self.   
There was little communication and not a single invitation extended (although a dear friend of mine invited themselves lol but totally understood and respected my vision…more on that in a later post).  I’m glad I made the decision to be one with myself on this voyage to 42!

As I wrap up this journey here in the French Riviera I will leave with a continued sense of gratitude for all things, moments and experiences; with a continued zest to explore every nook and cranny of this great big world; with a passion to continue to be the best me I can possibly be while hopefully inspiring others to do the same!

For you I say get out of your own way and go for what you want, live your best life and strive to do something that scares you even a little bit for it will be the catalyst to enable you to experience things you’ve only dreamed!

 

Steps of Cannes Film Festival
Hellllloooooo 42 and Happy 2016 to all of you!

~ Godivaworldtravels

cote d'azur

 

 

 

Godivaworld Travels, U.S. of A

Milestone in MIAMI

I swear there are sooooo many reasons to celebrate and just as many reasons to travel, although I’m the odd bird who knows neither requires any reason nor excuse merely just the desire to do so.

In any case, this past weekend I celebrated my girlfriend’s BIG birthday milestone in Miami!

Miami  image

Three of the 5 gals (6 gals if you count my car whom everyone knows as “Eva’) made a road trip of it which was a change of pace for sure.

FRIDAY

When we arrived on Friday it was a rainy, overcast Miami day but we made the most of it.  The first order of business after checking in while awaiting the arrival of the other ladies was some vittles as someone was a little hungry (not I says the #alwayseating chick)!  So being that we were on Ocean Drive, there’s no shortage of sidewalk eateries with an acceptable mexican spot right next door to our hotel.  Talk about ideal, this enabled us to see the other chick as she arrived and whisk her to our abode.

With the rain and all our Friday evening consisted of preparing for our night out, laughing, and rolling around the city until we reached our destination – that which shall remain unnamed.

It’s amazing the things you see in different cities when you’re half paying attention.  I came across a dancing billboard on the Intercontinental in Downtown Miami which was quite entertaining.  Luckily no one was behind me at the light because I believe I sat there through a full light change.

Friday night was a blast with the birthday girl having a great time for her special day!

SATURDAY

Typically, I coordinate for everyone and take care of accommodations and such which I love but admit it can be taxing at times.  Given that I told myself I would be on total guest mode and did just that lol with just one request which was to peruse Calle Ocho in Little Havana for some Cuban food and a Cigar Shop to fall into.

The day began with breakfast/brunch on Ocean Drive and a little beach time before we made our way to Little Havana.

Needless to say by the time we were ready for Little Havana I was feeling a little tipsy but ready for whatever lol!  So began our journey to Little Havana with my dear Eva leading the way (I even rode in the backseat which I’ve only done maybe once or twice)!

Again, my main goal was puro, street art, and eats/cocktails; the other ladies came along and was hoping for some good eats and whatever they stumbled upon.  I’d say we were successful in getting our desires met for this outing.  We even saw the restaurant and store front where an episode of “Power” was filmed (the El Pub).

After all our walking (my drinking) and whatnot it was time to head back to our suite to prepare for what we hoped would be another night of shenanigans.  Before we got our lives together I had to get atleast one cigar moment in while people watching on our balcony!

Saturday night found us making the most of our final night by taking in the South Beach nightlife, specifically some of the classics.  So we set out to stomp the streets in our stilettos ready for whatever….with whatever just so happen to lead us to the Clevelander.  As is typical, the streets were packed and so was the Clevelander’s bar, pool area party etc.  We were informed of a rooftop party that would offer a great view with a popping atmosphere so we figured we’d head there.

With the exception of the exxtremely overpriced basic cocktail (thought I heard the bartender wrong lol) the DJ, atmosphere, people watching, etc did not disappointment.

….and so our night came to an end – albeit at 4 AM after sitting out on our balcony getting in just a little more people watching.

SUNDAY

Ode to departure day which meant looking for things, organizing, packing, and making use of the last little bit of time before we headed out.  It’s so hard to say goodbye sometimes especially when you know you’re leaving 70-80 degree weather for 40-55 degree.

Alas we prepared for the farewell and headed out once again for brunch and cocktails along Ocean Drive.  We stumbled upon the Columbus Restaurant and when I say we were gifted not just complimentary Mimosas but shots as well….unfortunately I had to remind myself that I was road tripping it .

Until next time Miami ❤

 

Godivaworld Travels, The Caribbean

What’s in a name in St. Lucia

A few months ago during an “Island Hopping Milestone Birthday celebration” for a good friend of mine, we stopped on the beautiful island St. Lucia.   The extent of our shenanigans and comedy show-worthy antics needed to be televised because it was a day of never-ending laughs.

Continue reading “What’s in a name in St. Lucia”

Adventures, Mexico

Fun Friday – Parasailing in Playa del Carmen

T – G – I – F!!!!!  Not to mention somewhere, right this moment it’s 5 o’clock…..er uh cocktail time!!

Happy Friday to everyone!  In the spirit of the beautiful weather I’m currently experiencing, I wanted to share my sunshine and vibrant disposition in a post from an adventure in my notso distant past wherein I went parasailing while in Playa del Carmen.  Let me set the scene…..

While chillaxing on the beach in Playa del Carmen during a birthday celebration I gifted to my sister and my really good friend-like-sister for their twin birthdays (plus 2 others) last October, I was checking out the various activities from the comforts of my cabana and my refreshing cocktail.  Up above I see just a little dot of a thing and immediately thought “oooh that looks like fun” saying to myself “I need to sign up” so began my research.

As you can imagine, in this touristy area there was no shortage of “beach promoters” offering up everything from jet skis to boat rides to parasailing.  So no more than 5.256 seconds after thinking to myself how I wanted to go parasailing, I was walking up to one of the “promoters” to find out how.  After getting the process, cost, and availability of a single parasail I was internally stoked!  I tore up the sand to get back to my sister and ask if she could capture some images of me from the ground when it was my turn.

Now all I had to do was wait and hush the voices inside who were getting me so riled up and excited.

Then my time finally came and I was beyond excited!!  So my jet-ski arrived to take out to the boat from which I would take off from (or atleast that’s what I made up in my head because honestly I didn’t have a clue how this was gonna take place).

I arrived at the boat for takeout and said farewell to my jet-ski driver.  Once on the boat there was a family of 5 kinda staring at me which was weird but not weird, I’m a shapely dark-skinned woman with big eyes and full feature and wild hair – that day lol.  Well they were from Iowa somewhere and was curious as to whom I was taking to the skies with.  I replied, “no one, just me” and followed with my friends are here and there on the beach somewhere but I wanted to do this and they were chicken so I told them I’d see em later.  The family smiled and said “you go girl” and offered to take my pic as I was getting in position to lift off.  See the pic below.

So I was off……in this harness thingy watching the ocean drift farther and farther from me.  Now let me explain something.  This was before I ventured into the world of GoPro so I had with me my smartphone AND my regular Olympus Tough – Shockproof/Waterproof camera in hand, not strapped onto anything.  As I watched everyday beneath me get smaller and smaller I just kept thinking “if I drop this camera how will I get my pictures” not to mention trying to figure out how to keep my movements to a minimum as I positioned the phone then the camera for the best random shots.  Dammit mannn if I had my GoPro, this would’ve been amazing!!!  All things considered, I think I did pretty good holding on, steadying my hand and holding BOTH cameras.

20141018_145626 20141018_145640 IMG_20141018_150240

My eyes look HUUUUUUUGE lol!

From the beach, my adventure looked like this (courtesy of my sister)

So there you have it….me parasailing by myself while trying NOT to drop my camera and phone in the ocean or somehow disconnect myself from the harness.  All in all it was a superfantastic experience and one I hope to do again on one of my future journeys.

20141018_145510

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done mid-adventure?

~ Travel Well ~

 

Adventures, La vida Loca, The Caribbean

Ziplining in Barbados (March 2015)

I admit this was my first time Ziplining but most likely won’t be my last.  The folks at Aerial Trek were fantastic so if you’re ever in Barbados, check them out!!!

Although I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an adrenaline junkie, I do enjoy living on the edge a tad bit within reason – keeps life spicy lol!  I honestly haven’t done much thrill seeking although I’ve been parasailing (in Playa del Carmen) and fly fishing (in Bali – no not as in with a rod and actual fish but on a raft being pulled by a speed boat) so it was only a matter of time before I went Ziplining somewhere.  Now if only this Georgia weather would get itself together so I can schedule my skydiving session.

~ Travel Well ~