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Id velit senserit constituam eum. Ferri deleniti definitionem sea ut, mel ei oratio soluta. At altera virtute iuvaret nam, eam maiorum invidunt ut, ne has mollis iisque. Pri at mundi soleat deserunt, cum tota appareat in. Ne duo odio lorem commune, vocibus oporteat cu eum, ad animal timeam patrioque pri.Delectus ponderum atomorum ne has, ut qui unum neglegentur consequuntur, erant option argumentum in vel. Est id atomorum periculis instructior, fuisset appetere complectitur in usu. An movet liberavisse vix. Dicunt tractatos at nam, vis eu movet facete option, ne pri dolores contentiones. Nibh lobortis adipiscing ex sed, sumo virtute copiosae pri no, te erat feugait propriae mel eu prima.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, proin gravida nibh vel velit auctor aliquet. Aenean sollicitudin, lorem quis bibendum auctor, nisi elit consequat ipsum, nec sagittis sem nibh id elit. Duis sed odio sit amet nibh vulputate cursus a sit amet maorbi accumsan ipsum velit. Nam nec tellus a odio tincidunt auctor a ornare odio. Sed non mauris vitae erat consequat auctor eu in elit. Classaptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris in erat justo. Nullam ac urna eu felis dapibus condimentum sit amet a augue. Sed non neque elit. Sed ut imperdiet nisi. Proin condimentum fermentum nunc. Etiam pharetra.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi.

Id velit senserit constituam eum. Ferri deleniti definitionem sea ut, mel ei oratio soluta. At altera virtute iuvaret nam, eam maiorum invidunt ut, ne has mollis iisque. Pri at mundi soleat deserunt, cum tota appareat in. Ne duo odio lorem commune, vocibus oporteat cu eum, ad animal timeam patrioque pri.Delectus ponderum atomorum ne has, ut qui unum neglegentur consequuntur, erant option argumentum in vel. Est id atomorum periculis instructior, fuisset appetere complectitur in usu. An movet liberavisse vix. Dicunt tractatos at nam, vis eu movet facete option, ne pri dolores contentiones. Nibh lobortis adipiscing ex sed, sumo virtute copiosae pri no, te erat feugait propriae mel eu prima.

The post Hiking appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, proin gravida nibh vel velit auctor aliquet. Aenean sollicitudin, lorem quis bibendum auctor, nisi elit consequat ipsum, nec sagittis sem nibh id elit. Duis sed odio sit amet nibh vulputate cursus a sit amet maorbi accumsan ipsum velit. Nam nec tellus a odio tincidunt auctor a ornare odio. Sed non mauris vitae erat consequat auctor eu in elit. Classaptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris in erat justo. Nullam ac urna eu felis dapibus condimentum sit amet a augue. Sed non neque elit. Sed ut imperdiet nisi. Proin condimentum fermentum nunc. Etiam pharetra.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi.

Id velit senserit constituam eum. Ferri deleniti definitionem sea ut, mel ei oratio soluta. At altera virtute iuvaret nam, eam maiorum invidunt ut, ne has mollis iisque. Pri at mundi soleat deserunt, cum tota appareat in. Ne duo odio lorem commune, vocibus oporteat cu eum, ad animal timeam patrioque pri.Delectus ponderum atomorum ne has, ut qui unum neglegentur consequuntur, erant option argumentum in vel. Est id atomorum periculis instructior, fuisset appetere complectitur in usu. An movet liberavisse vix. Dicunt tractatos at nam, vis eu movet facete option, ne pri dolores contentiones. Nibh lobortis adipiscing ex sed, sumo virtute copiosae pri no, te erat feugait propriae mel eu prima.

The post Research appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, proin gravida nibh vel velit auctor aliquet. Aenean sollicitudin, lorem quis bibendum auctor, nisi elit consequat ipsum, nec sagittis sem nibh id elit. Duis sed odio sit amet nibh vulputate cursus a sit amet maorbi accumsan ipsum velit. Nam nec tellus a odio tincidunt auctor a ornare odio. Sed non mauris vitae erat consequat auctor eu in elit. Classaptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris in erat justo. Nullam ac urna eu felis dapibus condimentum sit amet a augue. Sed non neque elit. Sed ut imperdiet nisi. Proin condimentum fermentum nunc. Etiam pharetra.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi.

Id velit senserit constituam eum. Ferri deleniti definitionem sea ut, mel ei oratio soluta. At altera virtute iuvaret nam, eam maiorum invidunt ut, ne has mollis iisque. Pri at mundi soleat deserunt, cum tota appareat in. Ne duo odio lorem commune, vocibus oporteat cu eum, ad animal timeam patrioque pri.Delectus ponderum atomorum ne has, ut qui unum neglegentur consequuntur, erant option argumentum in vel. Est id atomorum periculis instructior, fuisset appetere complectitur in usu. An movet liberavisse vix. Dicunt tractatos at nam, vis eu movet facete option, ne pri dolores contentiones. Nibh lobortis adipiscing ex sed, sumo virtute copiosae pri no, te erat feugait propriae mel eu prima.

The post Discover appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, proin gravida nibh vel velit auctor aliquet. Aenean sollicitudin, lorem quis bibendum auctor, nisi elit consequat ipsum, nec sagittis sem nibh id elit. Duis sed odio sit amet nibh vulputate cursus a sit amet maorbi accumsan ipsum velit. Nam nec tellus a odio tincidunt auctor a ornare odio. Sed non mauris vitae erat consequat auctor eu in elit. Classaptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris in erat justo. Nullam ac urna eu felis dapibus condimentum sit amet a augue. Sed non neque elit. Sed ut imperdiet nisi. Proin condimentum fermentum nunc. Etiam pharetra.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi.

Id velit senserit constituam eum. Ferri deleniti definitionem sea ut, mel ei oratio soluta. At altera virtute iuvaret nam, eam maiorum invidunt ut, ne has mollis iisque. Pri at mundi soleat deserunt, cum tota appareat in. Ne duo odio lorem commune, vocibus oporteat cu eum, ad animal timeam patrioque pri.Delectus ponderum atomorum ne has, ut qui unum neglegentur consequuntur, erant option argumentum in vel. Est id atomorum periculis instructior, fuisset appetere complectitur in usu. An movet liberavisse vix. Dicunt tractatos at nam, vis eu movet facete option, ne pri dolores contentiones. Nibh lobortis adipiscing ex sed, sumo virtute copiosae pri no, te erat feugait propriae mel eu prima.

The post Explore appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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I went on my first road trip at the tender age of 5. The adventure took us all the way from the undulating greenery of Colorado to the neon lightbulbs of Las Vegas. 

My parents, aunt, uncle and their shaggy Cairn Terrier Benny all watched in amusement as I documented the journey on my red plastic camera with the diligence of a war correspondent. I’d like to say that a lot has changed now, two decades later. But – for better or worse – that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My family still don’t let me anywhere near the steering wheel. My camera is still the first item on my packing list. And my attitude to planning still resembles that of a five-year-old child. I just want to hang out in nature, eat lots of food and not overthink the process.

Fine, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. Making the most of my travels is very important to me and I don’t like visiting a new destination without a game plan. But the planning process takes me eons. I get so overwhelmed by all the wonderful things I could do that within an hour I’m knee deep in an existential crisis.

Which defines me better – a strenuous hike to the top of a towering waterfall or a scenic drive along the sun-drenched coast? What’s my true travel style? Who am I? Why was I put on this Earth? I know, I know. Again with the exaggeration. But I’m sure many of you can relate. In this day an age analysis paralysis has becomea more widespread ailment than the common cold.

Life of the party in Las Vegas, 1998.

All this is my roundabout way of explaining how excited I was when first introduced to the USA Trip Planner. It’s a free (!) tool created by Brand USA – a destination marketing organisation whose aim is to share their country’s beauty with the rest of the world.

Eager to test its capabilities, I decided to use the planner to put together a two week California road trip. It’s a travel experience I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. Just me, a camper van and a loved one. This is what I learned through my experiment…

How To Use The USA Trip Planner

1. Put in your details

All you need to do is type in your destination, date range and how many people – if any – are coming with you. After that, you have the option of refining your search by choosing your preferred pace and telling the virtual robot a little more about how you like to travel.

As you can see, I went with a pretty laidback vibe. I did tick “fast-paced” but that’s more to test what the tool is capable of than an accurate reflection of how I like to travel in reality. It’s all about being present rather than spending your time with your eyes glued to a watch.

2. Refine your results

Alright, moment of truth! When my itinerary first arrived it already seemed pretty exciting. Death Valley, Yosemite – the planner had definitely understood how I like to travel. But as a first-time visitor to California I’d probably underestimated how badly I’d want to see some of the world famous, on-the-beaten path destinations.

A California road trip without a night in San Francisco? I don’t think so. I got rid of San Simeon, Jenner, Fort Bragg and Carmel and instead added San Francisco, Big Sur and three nights in Los Angeles. Am I being basic? Wait, don’t tell me.

Two Week California Road Trip Itinerary

Despite me adding more “mainstream” destinations to my agenda, the planner kept its suggestions mountain and beach focused just like I told it to. The website has better listening skills than most people I know, myself included. You can access the full itinerary here but for now here are the highlights.

Death Valley National Park (1 night)

Death Valley, despite its morbid name, is a great place to kick off our epic road trip! It’s known for being the home of Badwater Basin’s salt flats, North America’s lowest point. But it’s also a dark sky reserve with excellent stargazing conditions for all my fellow romantics.

  • Mosaic Canyon

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (2 nights)

Towering trees, more than two hundred bird species and marble caves… if you enjoy being out in nature you’ll love this place. The national parks lie amidst the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. One of the peaks, Mt Whitney, stands an impressive 14,491 feet tall, which makes it one of the biggest mountains in the United States.

  • Roaring River Falls
  • Zumwalt Meadow Trail

Yosemite National Park (2 nights)

About 4 million people visit Yosemite National Park every year, so it’s not exactly a hidden gem. But don’t write it off just because you won’t be admiring it in solitude. If the stunning landscape isn’t enough to sway you maybe the park’s Hollywood credentials will – it was used as a filming location for Star Trek V, The Last of the Mohicans and Maverick.

  • Glacier Point
  • Four Mile Trail

San Francisco (2 nights)

There’s a lot more to San Francisco than the iconic Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. Whether you want to get lost in an urban jungle or escape into nature, Planet of the Apes style, the city’s got your back. I’m particularly interested in the old school cable cars, Painted Ladies and hippie neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury. Oh, and Silicon Valley!

  • Rockaway Beach
  • Fort Funston National Park

Big Sur (2 nights)

One of the most unforgettable drives – not just in the US but anywhere in the world – Big Sur should not be left off any California road trip itinerary. There are many places along the way I’d love to visit, including San Luis Obispo and the Barbie-doll-house Madonna Inn, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle.

  • Partington Cove
  • Point Sur State Historic Park

Los Angeles (3 nights)

Whether you want to spot the rich and famous in Hollywood, play in the surf at Malibu or shop on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, there’s no place like LA. What I love about the City of Angels is its proximity to great hiking trails. The perfect way to end our nature-filled road trip around the Golden State!

  • Santa Monica Mountains
  • Zuma Beach

Win £200 With A Comment!

I’ve shared my dream holiday – now I want to hear about yours! For a chance to win a £200 holiday voucher, all you have to do is comment below. Just use the trip planner to put together a journey to your five favourite US destinations and tell me a little about it.

You can also share this contest on social media using #WanderlustWish for some extra love. I’m accepting entries until November 5, 2018 at 23:59 UK time.

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you in conjunction with VisitUSA but all thoughts are my own. All images of California are royalty-free and courtesy of Unsplash.com.

The post Two-Week California Road Trip For Nature Lovers (With a Free Planner!) appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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Before I boarded my plane to Valetta no one warned me that I should bring my stretchy pants.

Never mind a bikini – they’re what you’ll really need after visiting all the incredible restaurants in Malta and Gozo. It turns out the island’s foodie scene is absolutely out of this world with little gems hiding around every corner. But with so many great spots to choose from, where do you even start?

I took it upon myself to find out in what turned out to be one of the most lip-smacking, trouser-button-popping weeks of my life. As you may know I’ve been a vegan for about a year but recently been flirting with the idea of re-incorporating fish into my diet. I’d be so happy to go into details about that decision in the comments below or a separate blog post.

But for now, let me just say that the seafood dishes I got to try were some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Whether you’re a fresh shellfish lover, local produce enthusiast, a vegan or a carnivore there’s something for you on this magical island. During my weeklong trip to Malta with Jet2holidays I got to visit lots of great spots and I can’t wait to share my favourites. Grab a snack and let me take you around the best restaurants in Malta and Gozo…

1. Rubino, Valletta

Rubino is one of the oldest restaurants in Valletta. It was opened as a confectionery back in 1906 by a man named Vincenzo Rubino who’d come over from Sicily. His Italian heritage left a deep mark on his eponymous restaurant and quickly built up its status as a Maltese landmark.

The menu at Rubino’s changes daily, but you can expect to find everything from local specialties like ilsien bil-brungiel u kappar (ox tongue with aubergine and capers) to fresh produce cooked simply to accentuate its natural taste.

But having started out as a confectionery, the restaurant does dessert like nobody else on the island. It draws inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of its past proprietors. Its cassata siciliana is a cheese-based pastry which hails from Italy, while the imquaret – dates wrapped in deep-fried honeyed pastry – pays homage to Malta.

Must try dishes: pan-fried prawns (€24), cassata siciliana (€9)

2. Diar Il-Bniet, Had-Dingli

Farm-to-table eating is a social movement each of us can champion every day. But while it’s certainly possible to buy your groceries at a farmer’s market, knowing where all your food comes from isn’t easy. That’s why I really respect and appreciate restaurants that fully commit to food traceability, telling customers exactly where their ingredients originated from.

In the case of Diar Il-Bniet, all the produce they use is grown and cultivated in their own fields. They keep their menu seasonal, their recipes traditional and the result is hearty meals with minimal ecological footprint.

It doesn’t stop there though. The restaurant’s wine is made with indigenous Maltese grapes, their bread delivered daily from a local baker who has been in business for half a century and don’t even get me started on their olive oil. It’s made with organically grown olives that come from the restaurant’s 800-year-old trees!

Must try dishes: torta tal-irkotta (€10), carob syrup tea (€2.95)

3. Noni, Valletta

Typically I would save the best for last, but just in case you don’t read past the first few paragraphs I need to share what ended up being one of my favourite restaurants in Malta. This is one you should absolutely not miss.

Noni’s uniqueness isn’t just reflected in its menu – you can feel it from the moment you walk through the doors of 211 Republic Street. Over the past 250 years the premises have transformed from a residential building to a shop to a jazz bar to, finally, this classy restaurant.

Chef Jonathan Brincat cut his teeth in a Michelin-star restaurant in London as well as far away Australia. But today he runs Noni alongside his sister Ritienne, serving up five star dishes at reasonable prices. A true gem!

Must try dishes: hobz biz zejt seared tuna (€12), peaches with basil granita (€5.50)

4. Wigi’s Kitchen, St Julian’s 

When I first sat down at Wigi’s Kitchen and flicked through their menu, my expectations were fairly low. Fried calamari with chilli sauce, grilled beef – it seemed meat-heavy and basic. But as soon as my food arrived I had to, quite literally, eat my words.

Wigi’s food is simple, yes. But the dishes are kept uncomplicated simply to let the high quality ingredients shine through. The small family-run restaurant focuses on using nothing but the best. Their fresh produce and fish all come from Gozo, keeping the affair local and seasonal.

That ethos is reflected in the service and decor as well. The atmosphere is completely fuss-free which made me feel completely relaxed and at ease. Wigi Kitchen’s location in St Julian’s also provides a stunning backdrop and the opportunity to enjoy Maltese nightlife after your meal. Although if you’re anything like me, you’ll just end up in a blissful food coma and be in bed by 10pm…

Must try dish: fried calamari – honestly, trust me! (€10)

5. Commando, Mellieha

Just like Noni, Commando is a restaurant set in a historic location and headed by a Chef with Michelin-star training. Damian Ciappara is following in the footsteps of his great grandfather who served the local community meals and refreshments back in the 1930s, during the war. His hospitality earned him many loyal customers from the Royal Marine Commandos who were stationed at a nearby camp in Ghadira Bay. The army’s love of Damian’s ancestor’s cooking is what eventually lent the restaurant its name.

The menu is a celebration of seasonal local produce and the rich Mediterranean flavours that make Maltese cooking so comforting. From fresh fish and seafood to sun ripened vegetables and rustic pasta dishes, even the pickiest eaters will find a dish they enjoy.

But there’s another, perhaps even greater, reason to visit this restaurant – its location in the picturesque seaside village of Mellieħa. Just a stone’s throw away from the centre of town, Commando is housed within a 300-year-old stone building that lives and breaths history. Even if you only have time for dessert it deserves a spot on your Maltese culinary bucket list.

Must try dishes: roasted pumpkin salad (€10.50), homemade mquaret (€6.50)

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On this very day, a decade ago, I was sat in my bedroom reading the dictionary.

I can’t say that with complete certainty but it’s more likely than not. It’s how I spent almost every evening as a fourteen year old. What kind of a teenage girl spends her free time reading the dictionary? The answer is simple – the kind of girl that feels like nobody can understand her.

I don’t mean that in an angsty, me-against-the-world kind of way. I mean that literally. Just before my fourteenth birthday my family moved to Vienna, away from the safety of our home in the Czech Republic. Away from the safety of the only language I was fluent in.

I’d found expressing my emotions in my mother tongue difficult enough. What teenager doesn’t? Being forced to come to grips with the brave new world around me in a language I barely spoke felt downright cruel.

That language was English… and look at me now! I’ve caught the beast, tamed it and now it does fancy tricks for me at the drop of a hat. English isn’t my only show pony either. I speak five languages – English and Czech, as well as German, Russian and French.

When I was younger I collected vocabulary the way other people collect stamps. I would hear a new word and feel an immediate need to possess it. It was an unquenchable thirst and the more I learned the more I wanted.

Learning new languages helps you diversify your friend circle! Getting back to learning

But then something happened. It wasn’t a dramatic realisation, just a gradual shift. Rather than becoming wiser I was growing more complacent with every year. All that learning was replaced with an attitude of “I’m too busy for any of this!”. Instead of reading the dictionary I would sit in my bedroom and blankly stare at my laptop screen, barely noticing where one Netflix episode ended and the next began.

What I’m describing sounds depressing. But based on conversations I’ve had with friends it’s also how most young adults live their lives. After a stressful day at work who can blame us for wanting to decompress? Nobody, that’s who.

My recent travels around Africa have resulted in a few epiphanies though. All those mind-numbing activities, like binge watching series or going for cocktails, never end in me feeling relaxed. It feels good in the short run but looking back on a weekend spent that way I can’t help but regret all the time I wasted.

Over the past few months I’ve tried replacing all that white noise with things that help me grow. Nothing too strenuous – a dip in Lake Malawi in the morning, an afternoon spent volunteering or half an hour of language learning whenever I found the time. And you know what? Those tiny adjustments have made a massive difference in my mindset.

According to studies people tend to misunderstand confidence. It isn’t something you have that determines how successful you’re going to be. Rather it’s a reflection of past performance. So starting your day or week off on a productive note will set you up for success and vice versa.

What I’m trying to say is: I want you to join me in putting down the remote and picking up a new skill instead. I’m struggling to describe how much better it feels because it’s something you have to experience for yourself to truly appreciate it.

I promise I’m not just learning Spanish to drink local wine and admire their architecture. Promise… Why languages?

I’ve not been shy about brandishing my multilingualism, but me being a hopeless show off is only a part of the equation. The main reason I bring it up is a hope that I’ll inspire others not to give up on languages because of a bad high school experience.

I get it, my French professor wasn’t exactly a delight either – more like nightmare fodder. But am I going to let her rob me of the joy that comes with speaking another language? Mais non, ma chérie. Of course not.

The benefits of becoming bilingual cannot be overstated. Aside from helping you become more self-confident it also boosts your creativity and offers a new way of looking at the world. In some cases this is quite literal. Take Russian for example, a language with no word for the colour blue. Something can either be described as light blue (goluboi) or dark blue (sinii), but there’s no in between. That literally forces you to see the world in a different light.

But it doesn’t stop there. According to studies bilingualism can stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia, which basically makes it a superpower. And on a less serious but no less important note, speaking a foreign language will take your travels to a whole new level.

I’ll never forget haggling over the price of a floral dress at a market in Beijing. “Tài guì le, tài guì le,” I repeated as the shopkeeper laughed. Too expensive. “Piàoliang,” I added before shrugging and turning to walk away. It’s beautiful. I don’t even count Mandarin among my five languages because my knowledge of it is so basic. But even with that bare minimum I was able to have a short exchange, entertain a local and bag a beautiful gown for a fraction of your standard tourist price.

That’s just scratching the surface though. Really sinking your teeth into a language and being able to have a proper conversation is extremely rewarding. To get experience that wonderful feeling again I’ve decided to add a new language to my arsenal – Spanish.

How to get started

If you’re a traveller like me or just somebody with a busy schedule, committing to a language class may not be a viable option. That’s where my more recent efforts to pick up a new language tanked. In my final year of university I went to the trouble of signing up for a Mandarin class and putting down a non-refundable deposit before realising it was virtually impossible for me to do that, run my blog, work a part-time job, finish my degree and get more than four hours of sleep every night.

Enter Rosetta Stone and their language learning app, which I discovered right before going on my African adventure. They have more than twenty languages ranging from English, Spanish and German to slightly offbeat choices like Hindi, Tagalog or Farsi.

You can download all your lessons offline which means you can learn from virtually anywhere. Over the past few months I’ve really proven that to myself. From a propeller plane in Tanzania to a minibus in Ethiopia, a snazzy hotel overlooking a lake to a $8/night guesthouse, I’ve done little bits of Spanish in the most unexpected locations.

Despite having a busier schedule than I’d had in years I still managed to complete a surprising number of units. If I had to sit down with a notepad and a textbook I would have reasoned my way out of it. But being able to only spend a few minutes on the app at a time made me reach for it every time I felt a little bored.

I was a little apprehensive about using an app because I’m so used to the old school textbook-and-blackboard approach. But you know what? It won me over in a matter of minutes. Rosetta Stone’s teaching approach mimics how we learn as children. Rather than explaining things to us in another language, it uses a mix of verbal and visual cues to explain what things are.

How To Learn A Language On The Go | Rosetta Stone - YouTube

You can watch the video above to see it in practice. But better yet, download the app yourself! You can try it out completely for free and if you fall in love with it I have great news. I have a discount code that will give you 50% off the total price. All you have to do is use my code which is “Sabina50”.

What do you think? You’ve got nothing to lose, so why not join me on this little adventure and marvel at the things your brain can accomplish!

Have you ever used a language learning app? What do you think of Rosetta Stone’s approach? Let me know in a comment below, I’d love to hear your take on this! 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Rosetta Stone. As always all opinions are my own and I’m genuinely loving the app. It’s, as we say in Spanish, absolutamente maravilloso.

The post Why I’m Learning My Sixth Language with Rosetta Stone appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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It’s mid-April and I’ve published exactly two blog posts in 2018. That’s including this one.

You know what the worst part is? One of my New Year’s resolutions was to become a more active blogger, to share my tips and stories with you in this longer format. Instead I have 151 article drafts and guilt sitting on my shoulders, enjoying the piggy back ride.

There’s a good reason for my absence though. As you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve been travelling around Africa since the beginning of the year. But my trip was more than a happy-g0-lucky backpacking adventure. I came out here as part of the #Faces2Hearts project organised by the European Union.

It’s a wonderful initiative, focused on sharing the stories of local people and how their lives are changing thanks to EU support. My time with Faces2Hearts was life-changing, and I say that without cringing. I’ve grown so much as a person and I owe it all to the people I met along the way.

From female entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to shake up social norms to hardworking school children, from men who are fighting to protect their communities to village leaders eager to embrace change, every single one of them left a deep imprint on my soul. In the mountains of Ethiopia, forests of Uganda, beaches of Tanzania and lakes of Malawi, the journey into the locals’ hearts made mine grow at least twofold. If you haven’t yet check out this blog where I shared all my stories.

Exploring the colourful labyrinth that is Mercato in Addis Ababa.

But now the time has come for me to get back to what I do best and that’s running my own business! One of the biggest perks of being Girl vs Globe is my ability to work from anywhere in the world. I’ve known that ever since I turned this little corner of the Internet into a full-time job but never quite took advantage of it.

Sure, I’ve lived in four different cities since graduating university in the summer of 2015. But they weren’t exactly offbeat choices – London, Manchester, Glasgow, Vienna. I liked each of them in its own right but never felt properly relaxed. There was always a deadline hovering over my head like a poisonous cloud. I couldn’t go a single day without feeling miserable because I failed to live up to my self-imposed idea of who I should be.

Despite not working a traditional job I was trapped within that familiar old cycle. I wanted to advance, to make more money, to be more respected by my peers. I craved the same outdated version of success everyone else does. My job title made me sound more enlightened than my friends in the rat race but I really wasn’t.

Back home in England, sipping on a £4 Insta-worthy latte.

As you’ve no doubt guessed from the title of this post, my journey around Africa didn’t come to an end when my time in the Faces2Hearts project did. No ma’am. I was supposed to leave Malawi on March 21 but it’s been nearly a month and I’m still here.

Looking from the outside in it barely sounds surprising. “A travel blogger decided to take some time out to travel? Wow Marge, pass the popcorn.” I get it, sarcastic inner voice. The truth is that the decision shocked me more than anyone.

I’m not an impulsive person. Dropping everything to travel without an end date, to explore remote villages where I’m forced to disconnect from the Internet is very unlike me. It limits my ability to make money, meet clients and liaise with brands. It limits my ability to work – something we workaholics generally find hard to swallow.

But you know what? I’m finally realising that taking time away from being “productive” and working nonstop is one of the smartest things a person can do. Backpacking around Malawi has been one of the best and most liberating decisions I’ve ever made. Ever.

It’s allowed me to truly take a step back and hit the reset button on my life. I’ve finally made time to reflect and ask myself all the tough questions I shied away from for years. At the risk of sounding like a cliché backpacker, I know I’ll look back in five years and be grateful I awarded myself this opportunity at the tender age of 24. Choosing the right path before I hit my thirties and embark on grand new adventures like starting a family is more important than I can even comprehend.

Doing a bit of grocery shopping at the Bwaise slum in Kampala, Uganda.

I’m turning a quarter of a century old this October. Although I’m still very young that is a long way to have spent on this planet. I’ve celebrated 24 birthdays, travelled to 42 countries and eaten more than 26,280 meals. It’s far from nothing. So I think it’s high time I tried to get to the bottom of a question that is both simple and incredibly difficult. Who do I want to be?

I know travel and writing will play a big role in my future. But there are a lot of things I could do that include both. To better understand which lifestyle would suit me best I first need to get to know myself. Because you know what? I really don’t seem to know myself that well.

It turns out travelling just for the sake of travelling doesn’t fulfil me. It turns out making money just for the sake of making money doesn’t fulfil me either. In short, it turns out I’m a pretty hard woman to please and I’m slowly realising that’s a good thing.

Not being content with settling for “just ok” has forced me to make a lot of difficult decisions, but all of them have led me exactly where I am. I’m an independent self-employed woman with a prestigious political science degree and the ability to speak five languages. But more importantly, for the first time ever, I feel like I’m more than that.

In meeting all these wonderful people during my time in Africa I’ve found something within myself. It isn’t something I learned through schooling or earned by working hard. It’s something I’ve had all along, completely independent of any achievements. It’s something every single one of us has within their grasp.

Exploring the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

I’m still trying to find the right word for it but it lies on the crossroads between kindness, consideration and patience. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not always been the nicest person to be around. Stress, self-imposed or external, can make me into someone I’m not particularly proud of. But I’m beginning to find myself working through problems without that dark and bitter energy that used to accompany them. Because dark and bitter may sound delicious, but energy isn’t chocolate.

It’s been a subtle shift, one I thought would go unnoticed by the world around me. But you know what? The change in how others treat me has been more dramatic than any I’d ever noticed before. People go out of their way to get to know me. They approach me and strike up conversation, curious to learn more about who I am. Whenever I speak they really listen.

This is partly because I’m in Malawi, one of the friendliest countries in the world. But it’s more than that and I’m excited to spend the rest of my life honing in on what it is. Maybe it’s the smile painted into the creases of my face. Maybe it’s my newfound confidence. Maybe it’s the feeling of calm that meeting incredible people all over Africa has brought into my heart.

I will eventually leave Africa of course, in ten days in fact. But I’m beginning to understand one simple fact – that Africa will never leave me. It’s part of who I am now.

Have you ever had a realisation like this during your travels? Is there a particular experience that helped you get to know yourself better than ever before?

The post I’m Never Leaving Africa! appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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I don’t know about you, but I love a good deal. I once treated myself to a beautiful lace dress only to see it on sale for 50% off the next day and it ate away at my soul for weeks.

To prevent this from happening, I’m always on the lookout for a way to make my life (which is 99% travel) more affordable. Not only in the financial sense – time is money and saving time is often even more valuable in my eyes.

We millennials are constantly berated for being glued to our phones but guess what? That’s where most of my time and money saving happens. There are hundreds of apps whose sole purpose it is to make your life easier. From streamlining the travel booking process to making sure you never pay a penny in foreign transaction fees, I’ve lined up five of my favourites to share with you.

TraveLibro

I’ll start with TraveLibro because it may just be my favourite app find of 2017. As a frequent traveller I often struggle to remember my trips in much detail. But not anymore! Thanks to TraveLibro I’m able to keep track of all my travel memories right as they’re happening.

I did this on my recent trip to Slovenia, you can see my full journey here. Without this app there’s no way I would have remembered the name of that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves fresh bread dipped in red wine for breakfast, or my olive oil tasting class in Šmartno.

But the best part is that not only can you record your travels in as much detail as you’d like – you can also access other people’s past journeys. All of mine are here. If you need inspiration for your next trip, TraveLibro is definitely the way to go!

Please PIN ME if you enjoyed this post! TripIt

Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody else put together a custom travel itinerary for you? If you already have a personal assistant this app is not for you. But if you don’t you’ll love TripIt!

Once you grant it access, it pulls all upcoming travel data from your email inbox. It then compiles it and presents you with a neat itinerary so you can access all your flights, train journeys and hotel bookings in one place. It also provides important information like check in and check out times or flight duration.

Oh, and you can also save a copy of your travel IDs and important contacts in a password or Touch ID protected folder. It could be a literal life saver.

Skyscanner

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Skyscanner app already but I want to share a few tricks you may not be aware of. First of all, the Skyscanner app (as well as the website) lets you set alerts that go off whenever the price of a flight you were looking at changes. That way you won’t have to overpay for your next ticket.

But my favourite function is the ability to search for a flight to “Everywhere”. Once you input your dates the system will give you an overview of the cheapest flights available from your destination. I once found a return ticket to New York for less than £300 – it was cheaper than a trip to Malaga, Spain on those same dates!

LuckyTrip

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first – LuckyTrip is only available to UK residents at the moment. But they plan to expand and should be available in other countries soon. I really hope they do because I hate not being able to share all that goodness with the world.

So what does this little app do? Oh, it just plans your entire freaking trip! Have I mentioned it’s free? All you have to do is input your closest airport and a budget for your trip, starting at £150.

LuckyTrip will scour the Internet and come back with a short itinerary that includes flights, hotels and a bunch of fun places to visit while you’re there.

Monzo

I love Monzo more than I love some people. Not terrible people, perfectly nice people – that’s how wonderful this app is. Monzo is a lot more than an app though. It’s a bank account and a debit card that let’s you pay and withdraw cash abroad with no foreign fees!

With my other UK card I have to pay a flat fee of £1.99 every time I want to take money out while travelling. That’s… ludicrous. With my MasterCard debit from Monzo I can withdraw up to £200 every month for free, and with a 3% payment thereafter. But I rarely need to take out more as all card transactions abroad are free, without a limit. Their conversion rate is also a lot better than any I’ve seen in traditional banks.

You don’t even have to be travelling to benefit from having this free card. Whenever you order anything from abroad and have to pay in the local currency, this will make the transaction much cheaper. I frequently do this on PayPal for example.

Money saving tip! If you’d like to save money for travel, I also highly recommend you check out Chip. It’s a smart app that connects to your bank account and puts money aside for you, based on your spending habits. It sounds a little scary but all the money is ringfenced in a Barclays account so you wouldn’t lose it even if something were to happen to the company. I’ve been able to put aside more than £2,000 thanks to Chip’s help.

But that’s not the best part. The best part is the high interest rate you’re able to get through it – up to 5%! You get extra percentage points by referring friends, which is a little annoying but it does work. If you’d like to start at 1% interest rate instead of zero you can use my code: LOJ7WX. I will also get 1% for referring you, so if you’re not comfortable with that don’t use the code. But I see it as a win-win situation. I’m in no way affiliated with Chip, I’m just sharing this app because I think it’s incredible.

What other travel apps would you recommend? Have you used any of the above? Let me know in a comment below, I love hearing from you!

Disclaimer: This post was kindly sponsored by TraveLibro, but I’d exalt their virtues even if I wasn’t collaborating with them. In other words – all opinions are mine, as always.

The post 5 Travel Apps That Will Save You Time and Money appeared first on Girl vs Globe.

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