Travel makes you smarter, sexier and more productive

June 28, 2011

Robert Reid Lonely Planet author

Why do we travel? Just a hunch here: because it’s fun. Plus we have to occasionally pay a visit to Uncle Greg in Minneapolis or attend that conference on soybean research your boss makes you go to every year. But, at the same time, travel can pay off in many ways, and science backs it up. Here are the four main ways that travel can improve your life:

1. Travel makes you younger

David Eagleman, recently profiled as ‘The Possibilian’ in the New Yorker, studies time perception at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and has made many experiments regarding how life-threatening moments feel slowed down. Travel to new places has always felt like stretched time to me too; a week in Guatemala seems to last as long as three weeks in the Outer
Banks – in a good way. So I asked him, for my recent CNN piece on travel to new destinations, whether science can back up my gut reaction. Eagleman told me adults’ sense of time is more ‘compressed’ than children’s, but that travel to new or ‘novel’ places – the more exotic, the better – is an equalizer of sorts. ‘It essentially puts you, neurally, in the same position as when you were a child.’ Travel: the fountain of youth! And, with its perceived time-stretching possibilities, a life-saver even if you only take a week or two for vacation this summer.

2. Travel makes you smarter

It’s an old cliché that travel broadens your mind. I’d scoff if it weren’t true. A recent psychological study at Indiana University found students had broader answers when they thought the study was imported from Greece, rather than homegrown. What the researchers call ‘psychological distance’ – what we might call ‘armchair travel’ – increases your creativity. A recent
review of the psychological distance concept
, suggests that travel, or even planning travel and imagining yourself in an unfamiliar and distant location, might not just improve creativity but self-awareness as well. William Maddux, an American social psychologist, studies how those who live abroad come home more creative too. He told me by phone that ‘immersion’ in a place is key – one of the reasons, he says, he’s working in France. ‘It all depends on someone’s mindset when traveling’, he said. ‘Are they really open to it? If not, and all they do is sit and watch TV, it probably won’t make them more creative… And you don’t necessarily have to cross a border either. What’s more similar New York and Toronto, or New York and Savannah?’

3. Travel makes you more productive

Americans’ relative lack of holiday time is sometimes defended as a strong ‘work ethic’, and a reason the country is so productive. But is it? This fun Business week slideshow shows how many countries’ economic output rivals the US, with far less work time. France, for example, takes off 60% more days off (40 compared to the USA’s 25), and records 98% GDP per hour
worked. While the USA remains the world’s top ‘competitive’ country, runner-up, Switzerland, nearly matches the US mark with a week more vacation time. Some argue taking extended time is even better. In a TED Video on taking sabbaticals, graphic-designer Stefan Sagmeister illustrates how he plans a one-year break from work to ‘experiment’ every seven years simply to generate new ideas.

4. Travel makes you sexier

It’s not just a tan you return with, but stories. According to one recent survey, the best first-date conversation topic was hobbies, with travel following second. Somehow manage to combine the two, and brace yourself Romeo. Just be sure to have exchanged your Paraguayan guaraní into dollars before the bill arrives. And if travel has already done its job by making you more creative, youthful, self-aware and productive, you’re bound to be looking pretty good out there.



June 25, 2011

We invite you to journey to some of the most magnificent architectural attractions of mainland Europe.  Our Central & Eastern European itineraries include visits to Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia.  These countries are home to some of the most incredible structures, collections of art and cuisines preserving the traditions of their past.  From the imposing St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, the red tiled roofs in the fortified old city of Dubrovnik, the magnificent Palace Square in St. Petersburg to the Imperial palaces of Vienna and Budapest, these itineraries are sure to capture the essence of an intellectually spirited vacation.

Traveling to Russia is like   traveling to no other place, especially when it comes   to Moscow travel. Since regaining its designation as Russia’s   capital in 1918, Moscow has regained a whole new edge   over the years. One of the most beautiful, and oldest,   of all Russia’s cities, a Moscow vacation is full   of possibilities. Moscow Russia has a raw beauty about   it, a rougher edge than many European cities, yet it still   maintains an intriguing appeal for many tourists because   of its timeless historyevident throughout the city. In   the restless and sweeping metropolis you’ll encounter   smog-filled traffic jams, outstretched streets and avenues,   bigger than many you may have seen, and 24-hour action   with no shortage of excitement. Audacious and often bewildering,   Moscow travel does maintain some quiet and tranquility,   yet it’s often harder to find then the bustling   hum of a city always on its feet.

When you travel to Moscow you should make a conscious effort to put your brave face on and be ready for the fast pace. Don’t be scared to step off the path well-traveled to visit some of the more obscure attractions in Moscow found in nooks and crannies of the city many never venture into. It’s the unexpected discoveries in the city during a Moscow vacation that come with the best rewards. Things always seem chaotic and a little out of control but behind the seeming bedlam, there is a method to everyone’s madness. The core of Moscow Russia is one which is surprisingly organized, well maintained and extremely functional. The general design of the city actually makes complete sense and with the aid of a map, Moscow travel becomes a cinch.

Though it would take some time to visit all the important attractions in Moscow, do your best to see the most prominent ones. The many magnificent cathedrals, convents and monasteries are among the city’s most prized attractions. The Kazan Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Assumption and the glorious Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles are only a handful of the top must-sees when you travel to Moscow. Dating back to the middle ages, the city has always played an important  ecclesiastical role in the country. An abundance of convents and monasteries still stands in a testament to a long and torrid history which is revealed on many popular Russia tours. Most of the religious houses remain open between 8am and 8pm and can be reached either by foot or by metro.

During any Moscow vacation a walk through Gorky Park is also a must and is easily reached via Oktyabrskaya station. With a walk through you’ll be able to see some excellent attractions including Tolstoy House Estate Museum, Church of St. Nicholas of the Weavers and three sweeping floors full of magnificent art work at the Central House of Artists. On a tour through Gorky park visitors can also see the effigy of Peter the Great and the Church of the Resurrection in Kadosh. There are myriad other attractions to enjoy during Moscow travel. Galleries, museums, gardens and squares are only the beginning of all the possibilities. Over the years the great restoration of Moscow has taken place and to see it in all its grandeur is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. More About Russia


June 23, 2011

There’s a place in everyone’s heart for Italy.  Rich in history, blessed with beauty and abundant with variety, this incredible destination is a place for all to see.  Florence’s relics from the Renaissance period, St. Marks square in Venice, The Roman Forum and Coliseum in Rome and the views of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii are just a sample of the experiences waiting for you on your next trip to Italy.  There is little doubt that Italy – the Belpaese or Beautiful Country – is one of the most popular destinations in all of Europe. Learn more about italy at


June 23, 2011

Turkey provides a mixture of eastern and western culture unmatched by any other destination.  In addition to the geographic masterpieces of Cappadocia and Pamukkale, Turkey maintains a rich culture derived from it’s long imperial past.  Exploring the bazaars of Istanbul, the many fishing villages of the turquoise coast and reflecting upon the memorials on the Gallipoli peninsula are just a few ways of experiencing Turkey.  By preserving it’s storied past and embracing the cosmopolitan ambiance of modernization, Turkey is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations in all of the Mediterranean.  Learn more about Turkey


June 23, 2011

Morocco is a dream vacation offering an abundance of sights and a magnificent and traditional cultural experience.  A unique country that affords geographical diversity found in few places, a trip to Morocco will allow you to experience seaside villages, a Bedouin experience in the desert and a drive through alpine mountains.  The fascinating contrast of geography is complemented with friendly citizens displaying traditional customs and offering an exotic blend of cuisine.  A vacation of this type can only be described as an adventure.  From Cosmopolitan Casablanca to exotic Quarzazate, from famous Kashbahs to the sand dunes of the Sahara desert and enchanting cities like Fez and Marrakech, you will marvel at the diversity and beauty of this exciting country. Morocco is different. Ethnic diversity, colour and contrast creates a holiday destination for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned traveller, an adventurer, a trekker, a shopper, a big city escapist weary of your office, seek sunshine and smiling faces, love to photograph, paint, dance, enjoy music, or simply want to feel the warm sand on your feet and slow down to unwind.
You will find yourself caught in Morocco’s splendor while wandering through ancient citys. You will hear the wail of the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, and the sound of drumming and singing everywhere. In the crowded markets, jewel colours of indigo, saffron and henna dazzle in beautiful carpets. In Marrakech’s Djemaa El Fna square you can dance with the
bellydancers, have your fortune told, pay a scribe to write a letter, watch the acrobats and be mesmerised by the flute that charms the viper. Relax in a streetside cafe and taste exotic spice in your food, and mint and herbs in your tea. Ancient mosques and minarets, opulent palaces and the stark beauty of a sunrise among towering kasbahs in the Sahara desert are waiting for you. In Sahara time slows to the pace of your camel softly shuffling across the dunes to the oasis. Watch the moonrise, your world will fall away and you will be caught in the aura of
mystery that pervades this land. The desert nomads, like their camels, are in no hurry. Where is there to go? The desert has a timeless quality — go with it and you will begin to understand. Here is a land where something forgotten lives on.

Eritrea: Volcano Disrupts Ethiopia’s Flights and Cuts Short Clinton’s Trip

June 14, 2011

By Sheila Ring

Eritrea’s volcanic ash cloud has disrupted some of neighboring Ethiopia’s flights and has also cut short Hillary Clinton’s Ethiopia trip.  Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, the Addis Ababa-based airline, said in an e-mailed statement today that routes to northern Ethiopia, neighboring Djibouti and the Sudanese capital of Khartoum have been affected, Bloomberg reports. In turn, the company urged travelers to check the status of their flights before embarking on their journey. Getachew Tesfa, a spokesman for the airline, said by phone today that they are “closely monitoring” the situation. “As things get better we are ready to operate. All other flights are operating,” Tesfa said. Philippe Husson is a manager at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Toulouse, France. He said in a phone interview that Eritrea’s Nabro volcano erupted on June 12, spewing an ash cloud about 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles) into the atmosphere, Bloomberg reports After initially projecting volcanic ash for about 36 hours, the volcano is now producing sulphur dioxide and water, he said.

According to the website of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, flights from Frankfurt, Germany to Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa have been cancelled. Husson said, “The eruption is ongoing in terms of gases and water, but there is no more volcanic ash, which is a hazard for aviation.” No records exist of Nabro erupting before, according to Atalay Ayele, associate geophysics professor at Addis Ababa University. “Nobody knows if it has erupted” previously, he said in a phone interview. Atalay said the nearby Dubbi volcano last erupted in 1861, reports Bloomberg. The eruption cut short a two-day visit to Ethiopia by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who left the Horn of Africa yesterday. The State Department said in an e-mail that Clinton departed prematurely “to avoid being unable to travel for an indeterminate period of time.”

Eritrea, a nation of about 6 million people, is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The long dormant Eritrean volcano has spewed ash up to about 13km (eight miles) into the air. The eruption is believed to have followed a string of earthquakes in the region, BBC reports. It is not yet known when the volcanic activity

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