Volunteering as a teacher with uVolunteer

Volunteering as a teacher abroad

Many of us wish we could travel more, but so often, making a journey is considered a luxury. As a result, we may deny ourselves the benefits of travelling to other places and experiencing different world views, philosophies, and cultures. Another activity that seems to have fallen by the wayside is that of service. As a volunteer, we facilitate a reconnection with our fellow human beings, and nurture an essential understanding of our sameness. When you give of yourself, offering your time and your attention, you give a gift far more precious than a donation of funds or goods. Moreover, you are giving to yourself as well, a priceless gift of experience that can only happen when you are fully engaged with the wonders of the world around you.

Volunteering as a teacher abroad

Feeding or teaching others?

While volunteering to feed those who are hungry or to build homes for those without are worthy pursuits, perhaps the most rewarding service is that of teaching. Any teacher you meet will tell you that it’s not just about instruction in the classroom. Teaching offers a wealth of learning experiences to the teacher – endless opportunities to grow as a human being. So, why not take the unique opportunity to have both the rewarding experiences offered by travel and the enrichment of helping others at the same time? Travel to Thailand and help teach English to bright, enthusiastic students.

Day to day tasks as a volunteer

In the Trat province of Thailand, schools often go underfunded, which can place strain on the teachers. As a volunteer in schools in and around the provincial capital of Trat, you would serve as a teacher’s aid to help ensure that each child receives the best possible instruction in the basics of the English language. Since Thai pedagogy centers around fun as a primary teaching tool, it’s vital to be an enthusiastic, encouraging helper to these children, so they soak up everything they possibly can. You’ll help to develop and implement engaging lesson plans for classrooms of between 20 and 40 students. During the week, you’ll work a maximum of six hours in the morning, Monday to Thursday. With your time off, you are free to travel to nearby tourist attractions, soak up the local culture and cuisine, or take photographs of an exotic new land.

Getting ready

As exciting as travelling abroad can be, it’s always best to prepare yourself physically and psychologically for the journey. While you will be based in Trat, a regional city, be sure to consult with your GP a minimum of several weeks before you plan to travel. Most GPs will recommend a Hepatitis B vaccination, and possibly a yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis treatment as well. The latter two complications are carried by mosquitoes, so pack your bug spray. Also, it’s generally advisable to be up-to-date on all your standard vaccinations, from polio to tetanus, and to plan ahead for over-the-counter needs; medication for issues such as diarrhea, menstrual cramps, headache, indigestion, and sunburn should be purchased in advance of travel. Enjoy the street market food that is freshly prepared, wear a helmet if you hop on a motorcycle taxi, and keep your valuables in a safe place. And most importantly, remember to have fun! This is a journey that can be as rewarding for you as it is for the fun-loving Thai children you’ll help educate – and that’s a truly wonderful thing!

Round-up of some of the best places to visit in the UK

Stonehenge - unmissable

When you visit somewhere new it’s great to come away feeling as though you’ve experienced life just as the locals live it! This means cramming in as much of the culture as possible into your activities; sight-seeing, food and drink and, of course, the nightlife.

If you are leaning towards the UK for your travels this year, keep in mind the vast differences between each region. A week in London alone will not give you an insight into the whole of the UK.

Here is our guide to five destinations that greatly differ from one another, offering a smorgasbord of UK culture for you to remember long after your return home.

Stonehenge - unmissable

London

As England’s capital city, London is a thriving city for those who love to work hard and play even harder. Take a ride on the London Eye to get a bird’s eye view of the city, or visit Buckingham Palace and really see how the royals live. You can also see all your favourite celebrities in the world-famous Madame Tussauds museum, which has hundreds of waxwork replicas of well-known faces for the perfect photo opportunity.

Edinburgh

Get a taste of Scotland with the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Whether you visit the animals at the renowned Edinburgh Zoo, or wander around the 72 acres of the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, there is something for everyone in the capital of Scotland. With stunning architecture to wow you on every street corner, you can top it all off with a trip to Edinburgh Castle, which sits proudly on its own volcanic rock overlooking the rest of the city.

Brighton

Voted one of the top city break beach destinations, Brighton beach offers a lovely promenade with a throng of cafes and bars to keep you well fed and refreshed. It’s easy to get around in this compact city, with major attractions including the famous Brighton Pier, the historic house of Preston Manor, or Brighton Museum and Art Gallery for a sample of the arts.

Lake District

Experience the beauty of the English countryside with one of the UK’s top holiday destinations, the Lake District. Situated in the North West, this stop-off on your tour will show you just how lush and green the UK can be. Visit the tranquil Lake Derwent, or sample some British heritage at Wray Castle, where famous author Beatrix Potter found inspiration for some of her most well-known tales. You can also visit the Beatrix Potter museum to learn everything there is to know about the children’s author.

Cardiff

A trip to the UK would not be complete without a visit to Wales and its bustling capital city, Cardiff. If you are a Doctor Who fan, enjoy the Doctor Who Experience with impressive special effects and filming with star, Matt Smith. Soak up the Welsh history at the open air, St Fagans National History Museum with over 40 historic buildings, including a Victorian school and a medieval church. There is also a growing reputation here for fine dining, as well as a lively nightlife that will see you through to the early hours.

If you have time to fit all five destinations in, you are sure to get a fantastic overview of the UK and all it has to offer. Make sure you are prepared before you catch that flight though, by exchanging your rand for pounds sterling. You can get great exchange rates, ensuring that you get the most for your money while on holiday. Be sure to pack a raincoat too, as the UK weather can be very unpredictable with glorious sunshine one day, and torrential rain the next.

Round up of some of the best hotels in Maldives

Woman in infinity pool

The Indian Ocean is home to a few of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world – Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives. The long distance from Europe and America means most tourists look elsewhere than the Indian Ocean when going on holiday. This is a plus if you want to avoid the crowds. If a beach holiday on the crowded coast of Alicante in Spain is not for you, then Maldives certainly will. Many resorts in Maldives own their own private islands, guaranteeing you peace and quiet. There are over 1000 islands within the archipelago, of which fewer than 200 are inhabited.

Woman in infinity pool

With so many luxury hotels in Maldives, it can get quite difficult to make a choice. So here’s a brief summary of a few that will help you decide which one is right for you.

Banyan Tree Madivaru

A 5 star hotel with an original tented pool villa. It tries to replicate the desert island experience yet in total luxury.

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

Private islands, crystal clear waters, private outdoor showers and palm-thatched bungalows will be yours there.

One and Only Maldives

White sandy beaches in abundance, long stretches of coastlines, guaranteed ocean views and direct access to the lagoon whilst retaining a high level of privacy.

The Residence Maldives

Traditional Maldivian architecture, private villas, private dive site and even a dedicated transport to take you around the island.

Naladhu Resort

Private island, the softest of all sands, palm treesand infinty pools. Spend time in quiet luxury and your own private steam room.

Six Senses laamu

Set on the remote Laamu atoll amidst plenty of greenery, you will live close to nature with organic food served in the restaurant, locally-sourced products and a huge variety of wines.

Kani Resort

Sailing academy, diving facilities and plenty of spa treatments, Club Med’s private atoll is one place where you can play hard and relax thoroughly afterwards.

Lily Beach Resort and Spa

Renovated a few years ago, this 5 star hotel is set in luxury, beauty and makes for the laziest of all holidays!

Jumeirah Vittaveli

This resorts boasts itself for being informal yet retaining its 5 star rating. Ideal for romance as the soft ocean breeze murmurs through the palm trees.

Constance Moofushi Resort

An elegant blend of luxury and tropical environment, this piece of paradise is deemed one of the best diving spots in the whole world.

The Gili Lankanfushi

If you’re in a hurry to get to your resort, this one is only 20 minutes away from the airport by speendboat. This resort is located on the island of Lankanfushi and abounds in marine life. There’s a diving school to make the most of it.

Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa

Tree house villas, private ocean fronts and luxury all around.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Nothing to haha about, this resort is 400 km away from Male, on one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world, boasts 50 villas, an award-winning spa and an indigeneous restaurant.

Conrad Rangali Island

Take a seaplane from the airport to reach this resort set on not one but 2 private islands joined by a foot bridge. Dine literally under water on the sea floor with just a glass protecting you from the elements.

Additional info:

www.visitmaldives.com

Stunning Vancouver, BC

Accommodation for everyone in Vancouver

Stunningly beautiful Vancouver was named the Top Destination in Canada in TripAdvisor’s 2012 Travelers’ Choice awards, and the Top City in Canada in the 2012 Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

The eighth largest city in Canada, Vancouver has been chosen as the “World’s Most Liveable City” not onece or twice but eight times since 2002 by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Situated at sea level, scenic Vancouver features both ocean and mountain views and a temperate climate – one of the warmest in Canada.

Accommodation for everyone in Vancouver

Up there among the best

Vancouver is vibrant, progressive, cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, with world-class restaurants, entertainment and sports facilities. Tourists frequently comment on the cleanliness and the safety of the city, and the friendliness and hospitality of Vancouverites. Accommodations are affordable compared to other first-rate destinations such as London and New York.

Attractions

Vancouver’s core is compact and easy to get around in, with lots to do within a small area. Major attractions include:

  • Historic waterfront Gastown
  • Canada Place convention centre cruise ship port, and hotel, with its fabric roofs which resemble sails
  • One of the largest and most exotic Chinatowns in North America, including the classical Dr. Sun Yet Sat Chinese garden
  • The world class Vancouver Art Gallery
  • The over 70,000 sea creatures in the Vancouver Aquarium
  • The 1000-acre urban oasis of Stanley Park, including almost 9 kilometers of seawall
  • The futuristic domed Science World at Telus World of Science (a children’s favourite)
  • Numerous beaches (with incredible sunsets)
  • Granville Island Public Market (including the Arts Club Theatre)
  • The 167-meter-high Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre, with a spectacular 360° view of Metro Vancouver. Warning – the trip up in the exterior glass elevator is not for the faint of heart.

Other popular activities with both tourists and locals include skiing, sailing, swimming, golfing, major sporting events, live music, dance, theatre, shopping (check out world-renowned Robson Street), night clubs, and dining out in any type of restaurant you have a craving for.

When in Vancouver, it’s a short trip across the Burrard Inlet to one of the top attractions in the Vancouver area, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in the city of North Vancouver.

Don’t forget Whistler

And it’s a day trip (about one and three quarter hours away) up the winding, picturesque coast-hugging Sea to Sky Highway to the well-known resort municipality of Whistler. While Whistler, nestled at the foot of the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, is famous as a ski destination, it has plenty to offer tourists year-round, including dining, shopping, golfing, mountain biking, events and festivals, and sight-seeing opportunities second to none, including breath-taking chair and gondola lifts, and even bear-viewing tours.

Visit www.hellobc.com/vancouver for more information on this enthralling city, including a list of the many festivals and special events happening in Vancouver year-round. Don’t forget your travel insurance either. It pays to feel safe after all, especially if you go for the wilder side of Vancouver!

Flanders custom built for cycling

Couple cycling amidst red flowers

Couple cycling amidst red flowers

Flanders is a region seemingly custom built for cycling. With its gently rolling hills and wide cycleways, it’s no wonder the likes of Eddy Merckx hail from this corner of Northern Europe. And, not content with having a slice of cycling heaven on its doorstep, Flanders is also home to great beers and delicious chocolates. Unfair or what?

So, with such an array of features on offer, it’s clear Flanders can be enjoyed by riders of all ages and abilities. The region boasts smooth and safe cycleways for novice riders, as well as more challenging cobbled pathways for those looking for a more energetic holiday.

Professionals can be seen slogging it out in the world-renowned Ronde de Flanders, whilst enthusiasts and retronauts alike can enjoy the now iconic Retro Ronde – a celebration of cycling, clothing and moustaches from a bygone era!

Whilst entrants are strictly limited to riding bicycles and made before 1987, the fun is made to available to all. Because, Flanders is cycling. And, cycling is Flanders.

For more information on Flanders, visit:

http://www.cycling-in-flanders.com/

Find out more about the Retro Ronde here:

http://www.retroronde.be/

 

Many reasons, many seasons for an all-inclusive holiday

Holidays with the kids

Because of our busy lifestyles and hectic schedules, many people love to get away, even if it’s just for a weekend. However, planning a trip can be a stressful event that can turn people away from taking the dream holiday they want. Here are five reasons why an all-inclusive resort holiday can take the stress off the planning stage.

Holidays with the kids

1. All of the planning is done for you.

You do not have to worry about what and where to eat, how to get to different places, or what to do. While you may have to pay a little extra for certain services whilst on the resort, such as excursions, everything is made readily available to alleviate the stress.

2. You only have to worry about one price.

With all-inclusive resort holidays you do not have to worry about figuring out the total cost of the vacation. In most cases, the holidays are available at affordable prices and include the cost of hotel, airfare, drinks, and more (although you should still take some extra money just in case). Since all of the major costs are taken care of in one price, resort holidays are ideal for families, honeymooners, and anyone else that just needs some time away from their daily lives.

3. Holiday resorts are flexible for all stages of life.

If you want escape with your lover for a nice getaway, you can find resorts that are adults-only to cater to your needs. With such resorts, you will not have to worry about children being under your feet, so you can enjoy peace and quiet while you romance your significant other.

On the other hand, if you have a young family, there are plenty of kid-friendly resorts too, ensuring that there is something for the whole family. On such resorts, day care, performers, monitors, activity zones, and kid-specific zones are available to keep everyone entertained (and reduce stress for the parents as well).

4. You can meet new people.

While you can get relative privacy and seclusion, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to meet people and have a fun night out. With so many people from all across the world looking for something new and exciting that’s also relaxing, you are sure to form a new friendship or two. However, the best thing is that many of these encounters may only be fleeting, and resorts are large, so you do not have to worry about people invading your space for extended periods of time.

5. You can get away at any time.

If you want to stretch your legs, many resorts have various tours available. Whether it is a trip to a local town nearby or ancient caves, you are sure to find something exciting to keep you busy while you are away from the resort.

All-inclusive resort holidays are excellent for any time during the year and can easily be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Turkey’s tourism board is working hard at the moment advertising their destination. There are probably many good deals to be had.

http://www.goturkey.com/

 

Stunning coast of Turkey

 

Experience some of London’s historic sites

magnificent entrance to the British Museum

While many people visit London to enjoy its modern culture, there are many more who visit the city for its rich history and medieval structures. If you plan to be in London in the near future, here are 4 historic sites that cannot be missed:

1. Nelson’s Column

Located in Trafalgar Square, the Nelson’s Column is dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson. As the victor of various naval battles, he became a national hero, and was killed during the Battle of Trafalgar (although he was still victorious).

Nelson’s Column does not require admission, which makes it a great place to visit on a budget. Since it is centrally located, there are many shops and places to eat nearby, although parking is restricted due to heavy traffic. Luckily, you can stay in a nearby hotel within walking distance or close to public transportation.

Magnificent entrance to the British Museum

2. The British Museum

The British Museum is a world renowned museum that has a collection of artifacts from around the world and throughout history. From the Ancient Egyptian to the Samurai, the museum has plenty to offer in order to keep visitors busy. In addition to its exhibits, the museum also offers workshops, trails, and other activities that are perfect for family visits.

Admission to the British Museum is free, and it is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. However, on Fridays, the museum is open from 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM.

3. The Tower of London

You cannot visit London without stopping by the Tower of London. Built in the 1080’s by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London is a royal residence, Norman fortress, and prison all in one that is rich in history. With plenty of family activities available, such as the Medieval Palace family trial and Yeoman Warder tours, there is plenty for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

The Tower of London is open from Tuesday to Saturday at 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, and Sunday and Monday at 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

4. Jewel Tower

The Jewel Tour was built in 1365 as part of the medieval Westminster Palace. It was used to store King Edward III’s riches and known as the “King’s Privy Wardrobe.” In 1834, a fire burned down most of the palace, although the Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall survived the ordeal.

AKA King’s Privy Wardrobe

Today, visitors can visit the Jewel Tower and take tours. The tours typically last for about a half hour and includes exhibits, as well as views of the vault and medieval moat and quay. The Jewel Tower is open to the public daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Although there is much to see and do in London, it is important to take the time to learn more about its history as well. With these 4 historic sites, you will both entertain and educate your entire family on your next trip.

Top three things to do on a Kavos holiday

Boatful of fun in Kavos

The nightlife in Kavos is legendary. From late night karaoke to midday foam parties, if you are looking for nights filled with dancing, drinking and making new friends then this is the place for you. Originally a small fishing town, Kavos has been transformed into the must go holiday destination for British under thirties.

Located on a southern tip of the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu, life in the town is dominated by the long strip of bars, clubs and restaurants. Most of the people who work in the resort are English, promoting the non-stop nightlife, and by the look of their tan and smiles, they are having just as much fun as the holidaymakers.

Boatful of fun in Kavos

Nightlife

You can’t come to Kavos and not sample the fantastic nightlife. It is the main attraction of the resort and it doesn’t disappoint. There are a huge range of places to visit and most hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants are within a 20 minute walk of each other.

It’s agreed that there are two main clubs to hit when you have finished your night out in the bars, Futures or Atlantis. Atlantis lets you unwind on the beach with some great music and Futures is the place to go for late night partying. The Rolling Stone club is open late for rock and indie music with great cocktails and friendly bar staff.

If clubbing isn’t your thing, there is a wide selection of quieter bars and restaurants which stay open most of the night.

Water sports

Kavos offers the usual range of holiday water sports with one exhilarating exception. The Crazy Speedboat reaches speeds of 75mph on a two-hour trip to the island’s Blue Lagoon and is certain to clear your head from the night before. You can book online before you travel, but it’s easy to buy tickets from the beach when you arrive.

There are long stretches of sandy beaches to meander along or sunbathe on during your days in Kavos. There are boat trips and excursions available for those who have slept off their hangover and are ready for a bit of adventure. I would highly recommend a day trip to the Greek mainland, the food is great and it makes a nice change from lounging by the pool.

Culture

I know that the main reason for anyone to book a holiday in Kavos is to party, but while you’re there try and pick up a bit of culture. Your mother will be pleased you weren’t in the clubs 24/7. Corfu Town is a great place to go for a day trip and there are a few ways to get there. You can book a trip through a company or, if you want to save some money, find out when the local busses run and organize it yourself. Corfu Town’s Marina is a beautiful place to sit and eat ice cream on a lazy afternoon. There is also more shops in Corfu Town than Kavos and it’s a nice place to buy gifts for people back home.

This diverse and exciting little Greek town is a perfect holiday destination, boasting something to satisfy every type of traveller. And with companies offering holidays from as little as £190, it’s also a destination to suit every type of budget.

There is always something going on in a resort like this so don’t expect any down time. Remember it’s going to be a fun packed, energetic and very loud holiday so you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

 

Picture credit: Sir Hectimere

Summer in the City: Five Fabulous London Festivals

The Wonderground festival

London is an incredible place to visit in summertime. Not only are the city’s parks and gardens in their lovely bloom, but even the main tourist landmarks and attractions are enriched by the festivals that take place during the season. You can enhance your London holiday by planning to check out any or all of these unforgettable London festivals.

The Wonderground festival

London Wonderground

This summer-long festival runs from May 10 to September 29 at Southbank Centre and is a celebration of cabaret, circus, and sideshow performance that wow crowds with amazing shows. It’s the festival’s second time at Southbank and it promises to delight onlookers with a myriad of performances to suit a wide range of tastes. The summer festival includes performances of theatre, comedy, dance, music, and even children’s shows. The full schedule is available on the London Wonderground website (londonwonderground.co.uk) along with more detailed information about each performance.

Taste of London Regent’s Park

Taste of London festival at Regent's Park

Experience the best tastes of London June 20-23 at this Regent’s Park festival that is a highlight of the summer season. This celebration of food and drink is merely about taste; the festival’s organizers also showcase demonstrations and interactive programmes that make the event an altogether richer experience. Visitors can head to the festival to create their personal menu filled with the taste sensations from forty of the city’s most revered restaurants. It’s a great place to sample the best culinary delights of the city and enjoy them with family, friends, or other London tourists.

City of London Festival

Running from June 23 to July 26, the City of London Festival is an arts fest that occurs each year in various parts of the city. Music performances are held in local churches, on city streets, or within city squares to enrich the city with classical music, jazz, opera, and other types of world music. The performances bring vibrancy and excitement to London’s various localities and their air of cultural enthusiasm infuses the atmosphere of the city. It’s wonderful time to delight in the sounds of music as they emanate from places like St. Paul’s Cathedral or even an enchanting London park.

Coronation Festival

This four-day festival is held in commemoration of the Queen’s coronation. This will be the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation. The festival will be held in the Buckingham Palace’s gardens and tickets are available to the public for daytime or evening events. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the splendid gardens or attend the evening galas to enjoy their magnificent entertainments. This year’s Coronation Festival will take place from July 11th to July 14th.

Notting Hill Carnival

From August 25-26, the Notting Hill Carnival will enchant visitors with its pageantry and merriment. The Caribbean-themed carnival is filled with musical performances and exotic tastes of the West Indies. The streets are lined with floats and costumed performers that will delight crowds and celebrate culture. The event has been held annually since 1966 and is one of the city’s most exciting celebrations.

Each of these festivals complements the city in its own particular way. Visiting London in the summertime is sure to be a fascinating experience if one plans to attend any of these unforgettable London events.

The Little-Known Topiary Skyline of New York City

The phenomenon of Manhattanhenge

High in the sky above New York City, there’s a new kind of movement. A green movement towards verdant and lush patches of plants and shrubs, which guard the top of skyscrapers like sentries. It’s one of several great new reasons to visit NYC, including an amazing solar phenomenon and a fantastic rooftop bar.

The phenomenon of Manhattanhenge

Manhattanhenge

This isn’t a place of worship for Druids in dark robes. No, Manhattanhenge is a phenomenon that’s only seen once or twice a year in New York City, sort of like an urban solar eclipse. Geography and astronomy geeks will be well versed with this event – the sun takes its daily traverse across the sky and sets smack bang in the middle of the streets of Manhattan in a cascading fireball of orange and red. It’s a great reason to visit Manhattan and happens twice a year, once at the end of May and once during July. For a truly great view of this awesome sight, take it in from a cruise on the Hudson River.

The Manhattanhenge phenomenon was a happy accident resulting from the way the city was first conceived and designed. Today’s Manhattan reflects the legislature of 1811 street planning that follows a roughly rectangular structure for streets that stretch from the north east to the south west. This results in a weird kind of summer solstice that means all of the streets in Manhattan are privy to a breathtaking solar temple twice a year.

The High Line

This is a part of the city’s must-see list of parks; a sprightly green belt of leafy topiary that’s built upon a disused railway line. The High Line is a mile-long elevated road that snakes its way from Gansevoort Street into the meat packing district. Nearly 4.5 million people visited the High Line in 2012 and there always seems to be a crowd, so if you want some inner-city serenity, the best time to go is in the morning when it opens at 7am.

Due to the constant buzz of people on the High Line, there are always exhibitions and things going on up there among the plants. The Whitney Museum of American Art, which faces the High Line, has rooftop exhibitions to ponder over while taking in the glorious views. The High Line as a railway had its final curtain call in 1980 and for decades sat unused and sad looking, so it’s great that it’s now booming and has become a genuine horticultural marvel of NYC.

Le Bain – Rooftop Bar

Of all the swanky bars in New York, Le Bain is the place that’s full of kitsch, where visitors are guaranteed a good time. It attracts the local musician and artist crowd and features kitschy fake plants, astroturf along with baby pink lounge chairs, and evokes a cute ’60s style. Watch the moon rise over the Hudson River with a Fraise 76 (vodka, lemon and strawberry, topped with Champagne).

New York has always inspired with its huge scale and its towering skyscrapers but now there are several more reasons to look to the sky in the Big Apple.

Image by 4rilla