Monday, June 27, 2011

Word Travels Forum Round-Up #27

It's Monday, we're all still yawning and trying to shake the weekend out in order to get back to work. If you're looking for answers to travel questions, then you can hit the ground running with these great forum posts from Word Travels:

You can ask your own travel-related questions on the forum and get expert advice... for free! Just visit the Word Travels Forum to find out more!

Image by Ryan Milani.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Travel Movie: Midnight in Paris

No matter how many other cities try to claim the crown, Paris holds a special place in the imaginations of all aspiring travellers for sheer romance.

No other city experiences this level of idolatry. When people think the ultimate in romance, somehow it always includes marriage proposals at the top of the Eiffel Tower, dinner at a candlelit French bistro, and a stroll along the Champs-Elysees.

With this starry-eyed monopoly, things are bound to be a little different than expected, but the Woody Allen comedy Midnight in Paris takes it to a new level. Aspiring novelist Gil (Owen Wilson), finding himself uncomfortable with his fiancée's (Rachel McAdams) pretentious friends while on holiday, soon discovers himself living it up with the city's most famous residents of the past.

The film premiered at Cannes in 2011, winning rave reviews even from jaded French critics who've seen one too many American romances set in their capital. If you're as in love with Paris as the main character, see it on the big screen just for the scenery. If not, however, save your money and rent it for a cosy night in with a bottle of French wine.

Verdict: Rent it (date night!)

PS - Click here for a perspective on a first-timer's day in Paris!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strange People You Meet at Airports

It's a well-documented phenomenon that we're not at our best at airports. We're tired, hungry, irritated and disoriented. When I'm on marathon flights I have trouble remembering what country I'm in!

With all this in mind, it's no wonder most of us don't look our best. It's easy to spot someone on a long-haul trip like the poor woman above, but it still looks strange. I once sat for an hour in Paris CDG with my head nodding like a crazy person because I was travelling alone and desperate trying to stay awake.

And really, who takes the time to dress their best? Yes I'm out in public, but I'm not ashamed to wear my yoga pants and a hooded sweatshirt if it means I'm warm and comfortable.

Nothing but sympathy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Word Travels Forum Round-Up #26

Got travel questions? We've got answers! The travel forum at Word Travels is constantly busy with travellers getting expert information on their next destination. Here are some highlights from the last week:

If these topics don't answer your question, why not ask for yourself? Our local experts are waiting to help you, so visit the forum today!

Image from here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Win a Trip to Outer Space!

7 Eleven and Foursquare are teaming up to offer one lucky person a trip into suborbital space! Worth $102,000, the prize includes spaceflight training, medical consultations and screening, hotel accommodations for two nights, ground transportation and nearly $40,000 to help cover taxes.

More info on how to enter here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

5 Controversial Kinds of Travel

Most of us travel for the same reasons: to see a new place, relax and unwind, or do something that we enjoy. But in the 21st century, with any worldwide destination no more than a day's journey away, people are travelling for entirely new reasons. Some of these are quite controversial, and come under fire from various groups.

We've compiled a list of five controversial kinds of travel that for the most part didn't exist last century. Here they are:

Medical Tourism - Sure, buses of pensioners head from the US to Canada to get cheaper medicine, but would you go abroad for a major procedure? One of the most popular kinds of medical tourism is plastic surgery: those with the cash can hop on a plane, spend a month relaxing in a resort, and come home with a tan and a new nose!

Controversy: It's hard to gauge the quality of facilities in other countries, and there are horror stories floating around of scam artists in back-alley clinics using unsafe equipment and techniques.

Medical tourism destinations: Belgium, South Africa, Mexico

Dark Tourism - Also called 'black' tourism or grief tourism, Dark Tourism involves travel to places that are associated with death and suffering. Well-known examples include former Nazi concentration camps, Chernobyl, and gruesome attractions like the London Dungeons.

Controversy: While most people agree that it is important to remember atrocities and genocides in order to ensure they never happen again, some argue that promoting them as tourism destinations glamorises violence.

Dark tourism destinations: Germany, Ukraine, Cambodia, Rwanda

Voluntourism - While many of us choose to use our vacation time to relax or visit family, some are opting to donate their time to charity and volunteer with charities or non-profits as they holiday in exotic destinations. Volunteers pay their own way, but spend part or all of their holiday working with conservation groups or aid organisations.

Controversy: While there is a definite 'feel good' aspect to voluntourism, many argue that a steady stream of unskilled volunteer labour denies jobs to locals and benefits poor communities less than funding skilled, long-term workers.

Voluntourism destinations: Brazil, Tanzania, Malaysia

Suicide Tourism - In most countries euthanasia is illegal, so some people with terminal illnesses opt to travel to countries that allow the practise to end their lives legally and painlessly. While there are infamous places that attract high numbers of suicides (the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Aokigahara Forest in Japan, for example), suicide tourism is focused on assisted suicide.

Controversy: The controversy over the practise of assisted suicide is hotly debated in many countries.

Suicide tourism destinations: Switzerland, Belgium, Cambodia, Oregon

Antitourism - Some people just don't like to be told where they can't go. In fact, a small number of travellers find a thrill in going to places that they shouldn't, that no one else will visit. The State Department's Travel Warning list reads like a bucket list to these adventurers. Also known as 'macho' tourism, antitourists purposefully seek out dangerous destinations for unique experiences and bragging rights.

Controversy: There's an obvious danger factor, and many consider antitourism unnecessarily reckless. Adventurous travellers who get into trouble cost government money and resources to assist.

Antitourism destinations: North Korea, Bahrain, Iran

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Travel Gadget: Shelves to Go Suitcase Organiser

I'm one of those people who likes to unpack when I stay at a hotel, which is always a bit of a hassle. That's why a product like this suitcase organiser is perfect for people who travel often, especially for business. The nylon sides collapse into your suitcase with your clothes neatly folded, and when you get to your destination you just lift it out and hang it in the closet!

They come in two sizes, 12x18" (31x46cm) and 12x20" (31x51cm), which retail for $34.95 and $36.95 from the website.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Word Travels Forum Round-Up #25

It's time for the Word Travels Forum Round-up! There's been a lot of activity on our forums this week, and here are the most interesting topics under discussion:

Remember you can ask your own travel question on the forum, and get answers from local experts in your destination!