Bucket lists

At 22 I have seen some of the things I have always wanted to and more! But there still is more I want to see and of course there always will be.

If you have done any of the things on my list below please get in touch about your experiences.

1. Volunteering

I have always volunteered in some capacity at home but I would love to combine this with travel. There are some amazing humanitarian causes and animal sanctuaries which I would love to work with while experiencing a new and different cultures.

Volunteering can offer amazing non-monetary rewards to those involved. The difficulties surrounding volunteering is that the volunteer must be in a financial position to work for free for a period of time.

2.  Cruise

Many people have said a cruise holiday are for a slightly older traveler. I see a cruise as a fantastic opportunity to visit several countries on the same trip while also spending some time at sea.

Many people travel around the world to visit Europe, Asia, America or Australia but while air fares are so expensive it may be hard to visit more than one or two countries on each continent.

Great cruise opportunities arise for travel to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Asia. Cruise holidays have also become more and more affordable as they have become more popular.

3. Iceland

Iceland has been the rising star of travel and tourism in recent years and its popularity has grown hugely. From the natural wonders to the food and people of Iceland, there are more reasons than ever to visit the island.

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Flights are becoming more frequent and more affordable with WOW.com and others now flying to Reykjavik from European cities. Bloggers and social media personalities have been front and centre in promoting Iceland and all it has to offer. Instagram and Snapchat are excellent platforms for the extremely photogenic country.

4. Safari

Many people adopt animals or sponsor animal sanctuaries around the world. Animals also provide tourism to many countries in Africa and Asia especially.

Animal habitats and environmental sustainability are providing excellent holidays in places such as Kenya, Cambodia, South Africa and many more.

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These holidays are enjoyable, educational and provide more than a fleeting sense of relaxation for a week or fortnight but rather they provide a lasting sense of understanding and achievement.

5. Washington D.C

Being a love of politics and history, I have always wanted to visit Washington D.C. While Washington doesn’t receive the same hype as New York or L.A, it does offer its visitors plenty to do.

The White House and the Smithsonian museum are the two big hitters in Washington D.C for tourists. A place of history and education which is often overlooked, Washington D.C is close enough to New York, New Jersey and other areas so the visit does not have to begin and end at the White House tour.

 

There are multiple places I have left off the list for the sake of brevity but if there is any place I have obviously missed out on please let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public transport abroad- money saver

There are many ways to save money when travelling, most involve a little bit of preparation and planning but public transport is an easy one.

Once you arrive in the airport and collect your luggage you have the task of getting to your hotel, hostel or Airbnb. Almost all major cities have some transport system from their airports to the city centre.

My own city (Dublin) actually has pretty poor public transport from our airport but thankfully that is the exception.

Taxi’s, Uber’s and private transfers can all rack up a large bill while public transport is more affordable and usually very regular.

If you are visiting a destination which does not have shuttles or public transport, book transfers with your travel agent. Travel agents offer safe transfers and they usually don’t cost too much.

Paris, Rome and London all have rail and bus services which go straight to their city centre. The transport is often clean, affordable and reliable. The transport also adds to the experience of the adventure.

A taxi from Oxford Street in London to Stansted airport would cost approximately £150 while a bus costs about £15 and the train costs roughly £34-£45. Many trains allow you to book your tickets online and reserve seats so you beat the queues at the ticket machines and don’t have to worry about full trains. Stansted Express Tickets

Rome and Paris are similar with regular trains serving Termini and Gare Du Nord. Airports are very often on the outskirts of cities so private cars will inevitably cost considerably more unless you are staying near the airport.

This is one of the best ways to save money while travelling and it requires just a small amount of research to make sure you can get to your hospitality using public transport. It may look cool to have a guy holding a placard with your name but it is usually not worth the cost.

 

One more reason to visit Orlando

There is no shortage of reasons for visiting Orlando but Universal have just added one more very large reason.

Volcano Bay is Universal’s new water park which features a 200-foot man-made volcano at the centre of the park.

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The park includes two lazy rivers, a wave pool with several types of waves not to mention 18 different rides.

Universal are attempting to change the features guests hate most about water parks; queues and carrying rubber rings to the top of slides. Queues are virtual using wristbands and rubber tubes are carried to the top of all rides.

Volcano Bay will replace the Wet n’ Wild park which closed at the end of 2016. Volcano Bay is situated next to Cabana Bay and will be included in the park tickets for Universal Studios.

The park has restaurants, private cabana’s and interactive water features which work using the wristband. Using the Tapu Tapu wristband, guests can reserve a return time for a ride without physically standing in line. The wristband will alert you when it is time to return to your ride.

Volcano Bay opened its doors to guests in May and is sure to be packed as holiday goers trek to the park in the summer months.

 

 

Student travel is crucial. Now more than ever!

The terrorist attack in Manchester was the most horrific of attacks on the youngest members of society.

Chat shows in the UK have run interviews with mothers and children asking if they are too scared to go to concerts, sporting events or Disneyland for fear of terrorists.

If we read the news and the news only we become locked in this cycle of bad news and stereotypes. That is not the fault of the news, it is not their responsibility to tell us every detail, good or bad, in every country around the world.

If students, and indeed and other groups in society, travel and meet people of different views and beliefs we can begin to break down these barriers in our society.

It is up to people to show the terrorists that fear will not stop travel and understanding and it is also up to people to show their fellow citizens that resorting to hatred brand-all rhetoric is not helpful either.

We are in a position to travel, we are in a position to vote, we are in a position to learn new languages and try new foods. It seems irresponsible to base our opinions of world affairs on what is written in any newspaper when we have all of this at our disposal.

These two issues may seem separate but they are not. For simplicity, a narrative of ‘The West’ vs ‘Terrorists’ has evolved. Nobody wants terrorism and those responsible should be brought to justice.

We must not be deterred from expanding our knowledge of other peoples, cultures and beliefs. We must make an effort to enjoy the good in life without fear.

I have heard people say they would never travel to France as “It’s too dangerous” “There isn’t enough police on the streets” etc from people who have never been to France.

I have heard people shocked that the Army are on the streets of Britain but when I tell them it is the same in Paris and Rome they don’t already know that because the news never said so.

The world is far bigger than what can be shown on any television station or indeed all television stations. The world is far larger than what can be covered on the internet but it is no longer too large to visit.

Do it for selfish reasons, break down the barriers you have inherited by osmosis from your news station and boast about what you know about Italian food or Judaism from your trips to Italy or Israel. If each person who can do this does and we all talk about it we will begin to get a far more realistic version of reality than the news can show.

 

Working abroad

Vacations are great. Two weeks in the sun is a perfect remedy from work, college or whatever normal life means to you.

Yes, vacations are great but what would make them better? Staying longer. And work? Yes, for me the opportunity to work abroad is something I would love to do.

I found out too late about an opportunity to work in Florence Italy this Summer. I applied nonetheless but too late.

I also applied for a travel writing scholarship in the Balkans. Hopefully that applications will be successful. I never thought writing in the Balkans would be something I wanted to do but I want to say yes to more opportunities now.

Finding a career abroad and setting up a life abroad is still not something I would be too keen on but I would love to spend a summer in another country working and living.

A J1 is appealing but it is so commonly done and I don’t know how much I’d like it. I would much rather visit Eastern Europe, Asia or Scandinavia.

These are just some ideas and thoughts on how to spend my Summer after college. I have savings and free time so hopefully I get to have one great Summer somewhere different to home before I start my adult life of bills, mortgages and all the other grown up mature stuff.

Have you any advice? Any little known programmes or scholarships that I don’t know about? If so please share your stories, hints and tips with me below.

 

Opportunities only travel offers

Holidays offer opportunities for people to experience things they wouldn’t normally get to experience.

Many people I know travel to Spain or other similar countries and they spend 80% of their time drinking and the other 20% hungover.

That is acceptable when you just finish school and it is new but by your twenties travel should mean more.

I try to do something on holidays that I absolutely cannot do at home. 

 

You will remember the things only available to you when you travel. If you are in Rome see the Colosseum, it might be a cliché but it is still a 2,000 year old structure that only exists in Rome. You can’t visit it from home.

So what can I not do in Ireland? There is a lot but one thing I will almost never be able to do is see a rocket launched in to space. That is exactly what I saw in Florida.

Our bus arrived just before the launch. We pulled up as tanned tourists ans locals were setting up camping chairs in strategic locations. The immense heat hit us as we departed our air conditioned bus.

There was a real buzz around the place as guides pointed people towards viewing areas for the launch. We stood on a pathway as people started to count down from 10, as we reached 0 there was a silence. A stillness. Then a flash of light as a vibration traveled through the floor up in to my bones and rattled them for what seemed like forever.

The rocket, which looked tiny, rose and began to arc towards the crystal clear Floridian sky. Heads craned and eyes followed the rocket as it ascended before eventually leaving view and the earth’s atmosphere.

The stillness returned again before a murmur erupted and people began to pack up and leave the area. Surely the day was over? No, it was only just beginning.

The showpiece of NASA’s space centre is the Atlantis shuttle which was retired in 2011 following 33 missions in space.

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Atlantis hangs proudly from the ceiling in the space centre and dominates the room. Flanked by other space travel artifacts, the the Atlantis commands attention.

Astronauts hall of remembrance, the rocket garden, educational 3D movies and more are all available at the space centre. It is a place rich in scientific innovation, historic achievements and it is still at the forefront of future breakthroughs.

After a quick lunch we tested the simulated rocket launch which was a fantastic experience and confirmed to me that I would be useless at travelling to space.

We got on an air conditioned bus out to the launchpad and buildings which house and build the rockets being launched in to space. We got off before entering another museum-like building which contained a treasure trove of space travel memorabilia.

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One of the buildings at Kenned Space Centre

There is a lot of walking involved and as the day came to an end I got the sense I had just visited a very special place. I knew history occurred here, it hung on the walls.  I knew future space travel was being worked on here.

We see the big days of space travel but I got to see how the men and women at Kennedy Space Centre live this life and their work is everything to them. Their contributions and discoveries continue to educate us.

If you get the chance to visit their place of work please do! You won’t regret it.

 

 

Have you ever found your perfect destination?

I hate when people visit the same places every year. I know people who stay in the same resort every year! EVERY YEAR!

I am not one of those people but last Summer I visited Orlando, FL and I loved it so when I got the opportunity to go again this Summer it was impossible to turn  down.

Firstly, there is the price. Two weeks in Florida is only marginally more expensive than two weeks in some of Europe’s top destinations.

Secondly, we are staying in Cabana Bay Beach Resort which looks unbelievable. Considering the price is marginally higher, the facilities are so good. The hotel has restaurants, bowling, lazy river, swimming pool etc.

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Finally and most importantly, I find there is so much more to do in Florida than in other destinations around Europe. There are so many theme parks and nature reserves as well as restaurants and shopping opportunities.

I have visited Rome between these two trips and will continue to visit other places but I merely scratched the surface of Orlando. I won’t become the person who will never visit anywhere but Orlando.

I assume it’s normal to find that one destination that suits you personally the best. Whether it’s the weather, nature, theme parks, skiing or landmarks, one place may stick out to visit more than once.

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There are so many activities to do in Florida Including mini-golf

This August I will return to Florida. For two weeks we will try to dig deeper in to what Orlando has to offer and when we return we will undoubtedly look forward to our next trip to somewhere different. But for now I suppose we are going to the same place but it will be a different holiday. As the saying goes; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.