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I really enjoyed my time in Venice. It is still my favourite Italian city. Venice is a unique place with a very special charm. The fact that it is built on water is part of the reason it so interesting. 

But, that is not the only thing that captivates you Venice is a very old city that is home to an eclectic mix of people. It has a very cosmopolitan feel and an interesting music scene. If you are lucky enough to stay in the city, it really is worth checking out. Spending a few hours enjoying the music of Venice is a great way to give yourself a break from sightseeing and spend some time with its residents.

Enjoy an Opera while in Venice

Venice opera tickets are relatively easy to get a hold of. The Venetians love their opera, so throughout the year there are plenty of performances for everyone to enjoy. Although given the fact that you are only going to be there for a couple of nights it makes a lot of sense to pre-book your tickets. You can easily do so. 

If you want to see a traditional performance, buy a ticket for the Gran Teatro La Fenice. This beautiful theatre is a lot newer than it looks. After a fire, it had to be rebuilt and only reopened in 2003.

A dinner with opera is another option. These occasions are held in different parts of the city and usually feature arias rather than full performances. This is a pretty special experience that you are not likely to forget.

A concert in Saint Mark’s Square

During the summer months, numerous concerts are held in the famous Saint Mark’s Square. Most of them feature classical music, but modern music is occasionally performed there. For example, Leonard Cohen and Simple Minds have both played there.

At other times of the year, you can sit at a table in the Gran Caffe Quadri and listen to live music. It is also located in Saint Mark’s Square. There is a cover charge, but it is an extremely affordable way to enjoy live music while in Venice.

A lazy Sunday at the Ormesini Dodo Caffe, Cannaregio

This little café offers live music, most weekends. You can either call to find out what is going on or take a chance and just go. The food is great, so if there is no live music it is not a big problem.

A musical dinner

If you are looking for a great way to end a day of sightseeing in Venice, head to Al Remer on Cannaregio. This great cocktail bar serves nice food has a good ambiance and, most nights, there is live music to enjoy.

More options

The above ideas really are the tip of the iceberg. There is always something going on in Venice. Even if you do not get tickets for a concert you are sure to enjoy the street music. In the main parts of the city, there is usually someone performing.

The post Enjoy the Music of Venice While Staying There appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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A Mediterranean vacation is something that many people dream of embarking on. There is just something so relaxing, exotic, and even romantic about the idea of holidaying in the Mediterranean. For those looking for the perfect destination to visit, Cyprus could be the answer. The Republic of Cyprus is the third most populous island located in the Mediterranean and it also happens to be the third largest. It can be found north of Egypt, northwest of Israel, west of Lebanon and Syria, south of Turkey, and southwest of Greece, making it the perfect central location.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this island than just its convenient location, as there are all kinds of reasons to want to visit. Here’s a look at top things to do or see if you plan on vacationing in Cyprus.

View an Ancient Royal City

History buffs will no doubt want to explore the many locations in Cyprus that are known for their historical importance. One of those is Amathus which is an ancient royal city that dates back to 1100 B.C. and stayed that way until about 300 A.D, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What makes this site even more interesting is the fact it is still be excavated, which means there is still more to discover. There is plenty of area to stroll through and explore, so be sure to bring your camera.

Visit the Adonis Baths

A visit to the Adonis Baths gives you a chance to live like a god or goddess since, according to Greek mythology, this was a favourite place for Aphrodite and Adonis to go. The site offers waterfalls with pools beneath them for swimming in, a museum, statues on the grounds, hiking trails, and a chance to indulge in mud therapy. 

Book Yourself into Luxury Accommodation

Because you will likely spend much of your time in Cyprus sightseeing and exploring, wouldn’t it be nice to have luxury accommodation to retire to at the end of each day? Not only that, but it can provide you with that place of serenity and peace, which can help you to relax even more while on holidays. 

Cyprus luxury villas from The Villa Group are a great as the company has been around since 1989 and specialises in luxurious accommodation.  Travellers get the best when it comes to apartments and villas. If you happen to be travelling as a group, a villa can provide you with that added space that a typical hotel room just can’t compete with. You’ll also be able to choose from all kinds of stunning locations with spectacular views and grounds.

Wander Through Cape Greco

For those who enjoy getting out into nature and exploring the scenery, a trip to Cavo Greco, which is also known as Cape Greco, offers a wonderful way to spend the day. This is a protected National Forest Park in Cyprus that features sea caves, nature trails, sea cliffs, a chance to swim and snorkel, and even cliff jumping.

This is just a very small look at the many things that Cyprus offers to tourists, as it is a unique destination with unique sights and experiences.

The post Top Things to Do or See When Vacationing in Cyprus appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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We’ve seen some awful tips for travelers in our time. Here are just 10 of the most ridiculously common pieces of bad travel advice we’ve encountered.

1.) Take a small bag

If you find yourself needing to roll your clothes or use some sort of life hack to stuff one more item in your bags on your way to your destination, you probably have a bag that’s way too small, to begin with. Those life hacks are probably fine – on your return trip. 

On your way to your destination, you probably want around 30% empty space so you have room for souvenirs and for dirty laundry that just somehow seems to expand in your luggage as if by magic. Using these so-called packing hacks on your way to your destination is also probably going to cause you to bring more clothes than you should.

2.) Bring obsolete phones and laptops because someone might steal your nice ones

Yes, there’s always a risk that someone might steal your shiny new phone on your trip abroad, but your old device will probably bring you more grief than convenience, especially on longer trips. 

3.) Don’t get insurance

There’s almost a general consensus that international insurance is a scam – unless it isn’t. Traveling will inherently raise your risks of running into an accident simply because you’ll find yourself in unfamiliar places and situations. Chances are also very good that you might get at least a bit sick at some point if you’re traveling for an extended period because your body might not be used to the pathogens it may encounter in other countries.  

To keep your costs down, the smart thing to do would be to get international health insurance from a specialist insurer like Now Health International.  These insurers typically offer much better deals if you plan on leaving your home country for any significant time.

4.) Don’t eat local

Some people will opine that you’re missing half the reason for traveling abroad if you don’t at least dedicate some time sampling the local specialties and delicacies. You should probably also stay away from international chain restaurants that you already have back home – unless of course, you want to sample some item that’s unique to that region.

5.) Book dorm-type accommodations every time

Dorm-type accommodations tend to be incredibly affordable and are just the ticket for solo travelers and travel buddies – who aren’t in a relationship with each other. If you’re traveling with your spouse or partner, just pony up a little extra for private rooms and accommodations, at least some of the time. When you’re traveling with a special someone, you probably don’t want to share that many special moments with strangers who may or may not be thrilled to eavesdrop on all your pillow talk.   

6.) Don’t buy trinkets at airports

Yes, even those souvenirs you like tend to be a rip-off. This is especially true when you’re at an airport or a tourist trap. But ask yourself this: do you even have the time to go hunting down a cheaper alternative? If you do, by all means, skip the souvenir now and buy it elsewhere later. But if you’re like most travelers, you probably simply do not have the time to be looking for a cheaper alternative. If it seems like a good deal now, just buy it.

7.) Tick as many destinations off your bucket list as possible

Taking the bucket-list approach to travel when you have the option to really take the time to enjoy one special place is pretty lame to be completely honest. How much can you really absorb if you’re visiting a new amazing destination every night? Chances are it will all be a blur. If you ever have the chance, be sure to spend as much time as you can in one destination before going elsewhere to get a better feel of things. You won’t regret it!

8.) Drop out completely

While disappearing entirely from the digital landscape is a new trend, taking a digital break is not for everyone.  Being able to quickly check on things back home while enjoying yourself in a different part of the world is definitely a perk of living in this day and age. What you may want to do instead is to try to keep your use of the internet in moderation so you can better live in the moment.

9.) Create a strict timetable

Yes, you should have at least some kind of itinerary. But you should leave plenty of room for improvising and for simply enjoying the sights and sounds of your destination. Overly strict timetables can suck all the fun out of traveling and make you wonder why you bothered in the first place. Besides, there’s no way you’ll be able to stick to it exactly, and you probably know it.

10.) Book accommodations far away from where the action is to save money

Sure, you might be saving a bit of money – but what are you getting in return? And if you need to take a cab or a rented car everywhere, are you saving that much money, to begin with? Ideally, you want to book a place right next to all the possible places of interest you will be visiting. Not only will you be able to simply walk up to the places you need to go, but you’ll also get a better feel for the places you visit. Avoid isolated resort-type places at all costs if you want an authentic experience of the local culture, and only book these if you’re just after some time to unwind.

The post 10 Travel Tips That Are Totally Wrong appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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Once you have made the decision to take the best vacation of your life, choosing the right fit for you is what is going to take your experience to the next level, and possibly even beyond. Finding and choosing the right yacht charter company to perfectly meet and exceed your expectations takes something a little extra, and something just a tad special. At the end of the day it’s about choice. Your choice of what you are looking for from your ideal luxury chartered yacht experience that includes: your choice of onboard entertainment, water toys and accessories, the amount of guests that will be travelling with you, your highly experienced and talented crew members and not forgetting possibly the most important aspect, your cruising destinations.

Tailor-Made Vacations

The absolutely unique and limitless experience of a luxury chartered yacht allows your imagination to be your guide, tailoring your experience just as you imagined it to be. The additional freedom that comes standard with any luxury yacht charter is pleasurable enough, and the accompanying escapism will make you wonder why you never did it sooner. The unparalleled luxury and comfort that is simply waiting for you to arrive is just the tip of the iceberg, and only the beginning of the splendor that is to come. Enjoy your personal choice of jet skis, scuba and snorkeling mask and equipment, or floating around on your favorite inflatable water toys, all while your personal chef prepares your favorite dinner, to your exact and precise specifications.

Private Charter Experience

The freedom of choice surrounding your tailored yacht charter experience allows you to make the best use of your vacation. Without other guests around to disrupt your peace and harmony, unwinding and taking full advantage of what is on offer is at your fingertips.

Cuisine

As you are chartered through the world’s most pristine oceans, prepare yourself for your very own, personalized dining experience. With meals prepared by your very own personal chef, 5-star service and satisfaction are guaranteed. Formal dining, a barbeque on the deck, or even lunch nibbles in the spa, your appetite will be sufficiently satisfied, and your taste buds completely delighted.

Exploration Vacations

Not only are you enjoying only the finest that the ocean has to offer, your luxury adventure is taken out in the open, and delivering you to a host of world-class and breathtaking destinations. Escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life to take a trip around the Caribbean islands does sound like a good time. What about Alaska or even the splendor of the Mediterranean? The choices are yours and your options are virtually endless.

It simple does not make sense to take advantage of the best vacation offer you have ever had, not to mention the exclusivity that comes standard with having your own yacht chartered for you. The experience is one-of-a-kind, and with the growing popularity of this exceptionally vacation experience, why not get in early, and treat yourself and your family to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The post Choosing Your Ideal Yacht Charter Company appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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Planning an epic Euro trip at some point in the near future? Most travellers dream about crossing this off their travel bucket list, as this continent is full of amazing natural, historical, and cultural experiences.

If you plan on experiencing Europe over the course of many months, you need to educate yourself about the Schengen Area, lest you run into trouble with immigration authorities.   

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is made up of 29 countries in the European Union who have agreed to maintain open borders with each other. This means there is no passport control between these nations – often, the only thing that identifies an international border is a sign by the side of the road.

This allows for freer movement of trade, EU citizens, and travellers, which has led to a tangible improvement in the economy of Schengen members. If you are a non-EU/EEA resident, however, there are rules and restrictions of which you need to be aware before travelling to the Schengen Area.

Which countries are in the Schengen Area?

As of October 2018, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican City are all Schengen countries.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania have all been offered Schengen membership, but have yet to satisfy the regulatory requirements required to be admitted to the area. As such, these nations currently lack the open border arrangement of the above countries, and as of this writing, are not considered to be Schengen countries for visa purposes.    

How long are you permitted to stay?

Visitors from most developed countries are allowed to visit the Schengen Area for a period of 90 days within a 180 day period without a visa. If you aren’t from one of these nations, you’ll need to apply for a visa before travelling to a country with the Schengen Area. When you do, ensure the visa is for the Schengen Area, not for the nation you plan to visit first.

Once your time in the Schengen Area is up, be aware that exiting the region for a day will NOT reset the counter. If you use up your 90 days, you need to remain outside the Schengen Area for 90 additional days before you can re-enter for another three-month stay.

As always, there are exceptions (e.g. 18 Schengen countries offer New Zealand nationals a three-month visa-free stay regardless of how long they spent in other member nations), so read the fine print to find out about exclusions and restrictions pertaining to your nationality.

What rules do I have to follow? 

While the setup of the Schengen Area may make it feel like a country unto itself, there are still rules you need to follow during your travels there. First, while passing from one member country to the next may feel like crossing provincial/state borders back home, know that you are still crossing international boundaries.

Border crossing restrictions can be imposed at any time (complications due to terrorist incidents and the ongoing migrant crisis being the main reasons), so it is vital you have your passport and visa documentation on your person whenever travelling in the Schengen Area.

The importance of Schengen Travel Insurance 

Visitors from certain non-EU countries will usually need a visa when traveling to the Schengen area and travel insurance is mandatory to obtain the visa. Therefore you should obtain Schengen travel insurance that covers emergency medical, hospitalisation and repatriation (including in case of death) with a minimum coverage of 30,000€. You can obtain your visa application form from the country you plan to enter through first or the one you plan to spend the most time in. 

If you choose Europ Assistance Schengen insurance you get 24/7 multi-lingual support and the expertise of 750,000 partners. So if something goes wrong, your medical expenses will be properly reimbursed and you’ll get the help of competent medical professionals no matter where you’re traveling in the Schengen area. 

Europ Assistance makes it easy to purchase travel insurance online and your insurance certificate will be available in a matter of minutes, so you can easily secure your Schengen visa for your trip to Europe. The certificates are recognized by embassies, consulates and visas centers around the world.

What if I want to stay longer in the Schengen Area?

Dream of spending a year in Paris? If so, applying for a standard Schengen visa simply won’t do. In this instance, you’ll need to apply for additional long-term visas specific to a country within the Schengen Area – in France’s case, the type D gives authorisation to stay for longer than 90 days.

Requirements and timeframes for applying vary by country, so research the details the second you decide you want to visit Europe.  

The post Travelling in the European Schengen Area – everything you need to know appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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Don’t let the crowds get you down on your trip to Paris. Check out these top insider Paris travel tips to make the most of your stay in the city of lights.

Whether due to history, movies, or cultural significance, Paris has always been a hotspot for tourism.

In recent years, tourism continued to climb with some of those numbers reaching an all-time peak of around 40 million visitors. Without a doubt, people are embracing the City of Lights and for a very good reason.

Whether it’s the romanticized view of the Eiffel Tower, the mouth-watering cuisine, high art, or historical significance, France’s capital has plenty to offer.

But with so much to do and so many visitors knocking on the door, it’s important to plan well.

Today, we’ll take a look at 10 important Paris travel tips you need to keep in mind before your next trip.

1. Plan for As Long As Possible

Sometimes, when planning a trip to Paris you may underestimate how much time you’ll need.

“I’ll just go for a weekend,” you say to yourself. After all, you just want a taste of Paris. You don’t need the whole city map memorized like the back of your hand.

But next thing you know, three days pass by and you didn’t even see a fraction of what the city has to offer. You might end up walking away from that trip wishing you hadn’t even gone in the first place!

Such, you’ll make sure to hit up the most touristy spots:

  • Eiffel Tower
  • The Louvre
  • Notre Dame

But you’ll be in too much of a rush, and will probably be blindsided by crowds, long lines, and endless wait times.

Forget a weekend trip; that’s for visiting family members a couple cities next door. We’d recommend at least planning on a full week, if not more.

That will give you plenty of time to hit up the touristy sights, but also gives you space to explore lesser-known Paris attractions. It also gives you the ability to space activities out.

Is the Eiffel Tower especially crowded one day? Don’t worry! Save it for another.

2. Save Up

Lots of people say that Paris is an expensive city. And according to the Economist Intelligent Unit, that’s actually fairly true.

According to the EIU’s study, Paris is the most expensive city in the European Union, beating out London.

It’s also slightly more expensive than New York City, although that gap is closing. So, even though the city is still a pricey one to live in and visit, there are a lot of experts saying that it’s starting to balance out.

Make sure that you’ve set aside a decent amount of cash when planning a trip to Paris.

You’ll need it.

3. Stay Centralized

It doesn’t matter what kind of accommodation you’re looking at–fancy hotels, cheap motels, Air BnB, etc.–make sure you’re staying somewhere central.

Like we said before, you want to plan for a longer visit than usual because there is plenty to do in Paris and you don’t want to miss any of it.

One way to help you make the most of your trip is to stay in a centralized location. It will make all of your day trips quicker and easier.

Paris is a big city, though, and pinpointing the right location may be easier said than done.

Simply, you need to do your own research. For example:

  • What is your budget?
  • What are the most important spots for you to visit?
  • How far are you willing to travel to your activities?
  • How much are you willing to spend on transportation?

If the Louvre is the cornerstone of your trip, then certainly pick a spot nearby (or as close as you can get in your budget).

You’ll also want to consider the location of any tours you take, such as with The Paris Guy. If you’re looking for line-skipping tours of the top places to visit in Paris, then you’ll want easy access to those tour locations.

4. Embrace Public Transportation

Paris has one of the highest rates of public transportation use in the European Union. There are also talks of creating entirely free public transport in Paris, to follow suit with other major European cities.

It’s all part of an effort to reduce pollution, although it has not bee implemented.

Still, in the meantime, you can always purchase a metro ticket for 1.60 euro. A carnet is a pack of 10 metro tickets for a somewhat longer visit, but you might want to consider options like Navigo for especially long visits.

5. You Eat Dinner Later in Paris

If you want to “do as the Parisians do” then be prepared to eat dinner late.

Generally speaking, in a lot of European countries, people tend to eat dinner later in the day. To put it in perspective, 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. would probably be considered a fairly early dinner.

This is important, though, because a lot of the dinner restaurants you may be eyeing probably don’t even open until 7:30 p.m. Be sure to adjust your inner clock accordingly.

6. Paris is More than the Mainstays

Many people are probably convinced that you only go to Paris to visit one of two things: the Eiffel Tower or The Louvre.

And while these tourist attractions may be beautiful and worthwhile, they’re not the only places to visit in Paris.

First off, getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Not only is it busy and crowded, but when people think of the iconic tower they usually think of a sight of the tower, not from the tower.

Consider viewing the Eiffel Tower from other locations, such as the Notre Dame towers.

The Louvre, while breathtaking, also isn’t the only museum Paris has to offer! Consider the Centre Pompidou if modern art is more your speed.

The Muse Rodin contains beautiful gardens, perfect through walking through on sunny Sunday afternoons.

Muse d’Orsay is a classic museum that’s housed in an old railway station. The museum is worth visiting just for checking out the architecture of the station building itself.

Paris Travel Tips Become the Perfect Paris Trip

Paris is a beautiful and iconic city and a prime destination for tourism for so many reasons.

No matter why you want to visit the City of Lights, you should make sure to plan well by abiding these important Paris travel tips.

Make sure to stay central, embrace public transportation, and don’t corner yourself to only the major tourist attractions.

If you’re planning your next Paris trip, be sure to check out the best views to see!

The post Paris Travel Tips: 6 Things to Know Before You Go appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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A few years ago I visited Japan for the first time, exploring Tokyo and Yamaguchi prefecture. It was an eye-opening cultural experience, sleeping on the floor in a Ryokan, bathing naked in an onsen for the first time, trying the “risky” Japanese delicacy fugu and figuring out what all those toilet controls actually mean.

For my second trip to Japan, I was invited to explore a new prefecture, Kagoshima, which is located at the south western tip of the island of Kyushu. When my British friends asked me where I was going this time I was met with blank stares…

“Kagoshima? Haven’t heard of it” is what most of them responded.

Tokyo is usually the place that most people think of when mentioning Japan but there is so much more to explore than just the country’s capital. So if you’re planning a trip to Japan and you’re wondering where to visit after Tokyo, perhaps my article will inspire you to visit Kagoshima, even if you’ve never heard of this prefecture before. I had a lovely time there and it was nice to experience somewhere so relaxing and peaceful after exploring the chaotic streets of the metropolis that is Tokyo.

Here are some awesome things to do in Kagoshima:

1. Learn how shochu is made

Most of us in the UK have heard of sake, but did you know that shochu is actually more popular in Japan than sake? Kagoshima is a major producer of shochu, which is a alcoholic drink that can be distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or brown sugar. The kind produced here is made from sweet potato and a visit to the Shirakane Ishigura Museum will teach you all you need to now about the distilling process. Visitors can create pieces of art out of the broken shochu bottles and purchase bottles of shochu in the gift shop to take home as souvenirs.

2. Visit Sengan-en Japanese Garden

Love Japanese gardens? You’ll definitely enjoy Sengan-en,l

3. Experience a sand bath

Perhaps one of the weirdest and craziest things I’ve ever done, the sunamushi sand bath at Sunamushi Kaikan basically involves being buried under volcanic sand. It’s supposed to be much more effective than entering a sauna and is helpful for all sorts of ailments, improving circulation and detoxifying the body. I was given a yukata to change into and a towel to cover my hair, then I was instructed to lay down in the sand. The whole thing looked hilarious, especially with the umbrella sticking out above my head. Visitors are only supposed to lay in the sand for around 10 minutes but ten minutes actually seems like a long time if you’re a bit claustrophobic like me. I could feel my heartbeat in my hands and feet and in general it felt heavy and hot, but it must have worked because the swelling in my feet caused by flying immediately went down.

4. Take the ferry to Sakurajima Volcano

Sakurajima volcano is an active volcano that had its last major eruption in 1914, which connected it with the Osumi Peninsula. The majestic volcano can be seen from the mainland and you can also catch a ferry to visit it up close. I was fascinated to learn that around 4,000 people still live beneath the volcano, despite the threat posed by it. Children wear helmets when they go to school to protect them from falling ash and there are 24-hour ferries in case there are any devastating eruptions. It’s definitely worth visiting the Arimura Lava Observatory and bathing your feet in the Nagisa Foot Bath Park, which has stunning views of the volcano.

Ride the design story train

On my second day in Kagoshima I had the chance to ride the “Ibusuki no Tamatebako” Scenic Train. The train is themed around the folk tale about Urashima Tarō, which tells the story of a man who saves a turtle and then is invited by the turtle to the underwater Dragon Palace.

The man spends several days in the palace and when it is time to return home, the princess gives him a gift box, telling him not to open it. Of course, curiosity gets the better of him and when he returns home, he opens the box. He suddenly becomes very old – the days he spent in the palace became hundreds of years on land.

The train therefore has a black and white theme running throughout, with the two colours representing the “old” and the “young”. The seats on this train face the windows so you can enjoy the scenic views as you travel along the coastline. After the Amtrak route in California, this is the second most beautiful train ride I’ve ever taken.

5. Visit Ryugu Jinja shrine

The Ryugu Jinja “Palace of the Dragon King” shrine can be found on in Cape Nagasaki-bana in southern Kagoshima. The location of the shrine is said to be the birth location of Urashima Tarō, the man from he folklore tale who saved the turtle. This striking red and white structure is also a popular place for visitors to make wishes – they write them on sea shells and leave them in a giant urn. After making our own wishes, we walked down to the Nagasaki-bana lighthouse where we admired the views of the ocean and Mt. Kaimon.

6. Try chicken sashimi

In the UK we are just not used to the idea of raw chicken. When I posted an Instagram story of a plate piled high with chicken sashimi, the main reactions from my friends were ones of shock; “Be careful!”, “Don’t get salmonella!” Brits consider it an easy way to contract food poisoning, which is why it’s always advised to eat chicken thoroughly cooked. In Kagoshima, chicken sashimi (thin slices of raw chicken) is a popular dish, served with grated ginger and soy sauce. I tried it for the first time and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted OK and I’m pleased to say I’m doing perfectly fine.

7. Bathe in an onsen

No trip to Japan is complete without bathing in an onsen, which is basically a hot spring with spa-like bathing facilities. In Japan people enter the onsen naked, which might seem a little intimidating if you’re used to always wearing a bathing suit, but honestly, nudity is really nothing to be embarrassed about. Before entering the onsen you strip off your clothes and store them in the locker room, before sitting down on a plastic stool and showering yourself with soap. Once you’re squeaky clean, it’s time to enter the onsen and bathe with everyone else in the relaxing hot water. I stayed at Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima, which has its own onsen with incredible views of the Sakurajima volcano. I really enjoyed going down there early in the morning to watch the sun rise from behind the volcano. Perhaps one of my best memories of Japan!

8. Visit the southernmost JR station in Japan

Nishi-Ōyama Station in Ibusuki is the southernmost JR station in Japan. It also happens to be absolutely breathtaking, with beautiful views of Kaimon-dake volcano. Waiting for a train can sometimes be boring, but this has to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Outside the station there is a yellow post box which is painted the same yellow as the turnip rape flower that is a symbol of Ibusuki. It is said that it will bring happiness to anyone who sends mail from this post box.

9. Eat like a local in Kagomma Furusato Yataimura

Kagomma Furusato Yataimura is a bustling food village consisting of 25 different stalls, each only seating about 8 people. I loved the lively atmosphere here and seeing how local people wind down over food and beer after work. The narrow streets and small spaces give Yataimura and intimate, fun vibe and it’s easy to hop from place to place, trying different Kagoshima foods. For instance, I got to try some of the prefecture’s famous Korobuta pork “black pork”, which was absolutely delicious.

10. Explore the Kirishima Open Air Museum

Personally I’m an art lover, so I enjoy any kind of art museum. But Kirishima Open Air Museum is a little bit different because it is set outdoors, filled with unique and interesting sculptures from artists around the world. My favorite art work was a piece called “In the Beginning”, which consists of a dark tunnel that leads to a beautiful, panoramic view. I also enjoyed “Insiders”, which consists of five iron men in various poses, lurking in the woods. Throughout the park there are also several cute sculptures of dogs that you can count, which all have comical expressions.

11. Have lunch (or stay) at Wasure-no-sato Gajoen

On our last day in Kagoshima we had lunch at Wasure-no-sato Gajoen, an absolutely beautiful ryokan located in the quiet hot springs town of Myoken Onsen, which offers beautiful views over the forest and Amorigawa river. This rustic estate has be a its own chickens and fresh vegetables grown in a private organic garden, along with guest rooms featuring their own private onsen. The inn was incredibly peaceful and relaxing, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch featuring dishes such as chicken sashimi, black pork and egg roll.

My visit to Kagoshima was a very brief one, only lasting 3 days, but the above things to do are a great introduction to the prefecture. If you’re looking to explore the “real” Japan and escape the city, Kagoshima makes for a relaxing break. There are daily flights with ANA from Tokyo to Kagoshima, or you can catch the bullet train and stop off at various destinations along the way.

My visit to Tokyo and Kagoshima was sponsored – all my opinions expressed here are my own. 

The post The Best Things to Do in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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If you’re renting a home for a traditional short-term vacation somewhere other than the U.S., it’s not an overly complex process. You can go on VRBO, Airbnb or any of the other countless vacation rental sites and find something pretty quickly. You can probably also pay through these sites, and you know your transaction is secure.

What about if you want something more than a short-term rental abroad, however? Some of the reasons you might be thinking about renting a home abroad can be for temporary work, a long-term vacation or travel experience, or maybe you’re retiring. It can be overwhelming to know where to start. 

You want to find a home that’s going to meet your standards, although you may have to adjust your standards from what you’re used to in the U.S. You’ll also have to think about your budget and technical and logistical considerations such as securely sending money overseas to pay for things like a deposit. 

Overall, if you’re going to be somewhere for a substantial period of time, it’s not feasible to think you’re going to be paying by the night. That’s inefficient and inexpensive. 

The following are some of the main things to know if you’re going to be renting a home abroad for a longer time period that just a week or two of vacation. 

Where To Look?

Depending on where you’re going, there are different sites that specialize in long-term rentals. You can also go with an option like Airbnb because some homeowners and hosts will provide discounts for long-term stays. However, this is probably going to be your most expensive option.

Instead of relying only on an online rental website, you might want to find a professional or agency that specializes in helping people find long-term rentals from overseas. Then, you have one point person you can contact when you have questions or concerns. They can also help you find good deals.

Look for someone who lives in the area where you’re going to be renting. This is important because they’ll know things about living locally there that can be helpful to you, and they can visit any properties you’re considering and make sure they are what they appear to be. A professional who lives in the area might even know about some rentals that aren’t online anywhere else. 

Be Careful About Sending Money

You need to be very careful about sending money for an overseas rental property before you see it. It may be okay to send a small deposit beforehand to secure a property, but if a landlord is asking for anything beyond that you should be somewhat suspicious. What’s typical in most countries is a deposit that’s the equivalent of one month’s rent. 

If you were renting a home here in the U.S., you wouldn’t be asked to pay all the rent upfront or anything like that, so don’t do it for a rental abroad.

Also, when it comes to the cost of a long-term rental abroad, don’t be afraid to try and negotiate on price. Many owners are going to be flexible, and they’d rather have the space rented at a lower price than the list price, as opposed to having it sit empty. 

Get a Translator for the Lease

In many cases, if someone sends you a lease and they live abroad, it’s going to be in their native language. You should hire a professional translator—don’t try to use an automated or online translator. 

You want to know the ins and outs of the lease before you sign it, and that’s something you’re only going to get with a human translation. 

What Are the Costs Outside of the Rent?

Finally, as is the case when you’re renting in the U.S., the cost of rent is just a starting point as far as living costs. Before you agree to anything or sign a lease, you’ll need to think about what these extra costs are going to be and how much they’ll be. 

Utilities in hot areas or on islands can be very expensive, for example. Then there are deposits that you’ll have to make on utilities before service is even up and running, such as your water and Internet deposits. 

Sometimes you have to pay commissions to a real estate agent which may be as much as the cost of a month’s rent. Maybe you’re going to be paying for something similar to HOA fees as well. All are important to calculate into your monthly budget before you make a long-term rental decision because they can significantly affect costs. 

The post A Guide to Renting a Home Abroad appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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The refreshing freedom of backpacking is the perfect escapism from the stress and drama of everyday life. Here is a list of water sports that serve as great pastimes, and which have been compiled taking into consideration different budget ranges.

Surfing

When you think of water sports, the easiest example that comes to mind is surfing. It is hard to think of a simpler yet more thrilling experience than riding waves. 

The only equipment necessary is a surfboard which needs some consideration if you are taking up surfing for the first time. There are 2 elements to consider when purchasing a beginner surfboard. Firstly, the material in which the board is made of. 

Three categories of surfboards exist in terms of construction; Fibreglass, Epoxy, and Soft-top boards. Soft top boards are recommended for beginners. Your safety and that of those around you is of key importance. 

The level of wipe-outs experienced by a beginner are inevitably high, therefore soft-top boards are advisable due to their softer outer-core making the risk of injury a less likely prospect. 

The benefits do not stop there, soft-top boards are more durable compared to the boards made with more advanced materials. 

Therefore, saving on repair costs that could have been incurred. With the safety and durability that comes with the board you get economical prices as these boards go for as little as 60 dollars on amazon. 

In most cases you’ll be able to rent a soft top surfboard at the surf camp or surf school in whichever country you decide to surf in. Soft top surfboards are now commonplace in almost all surf camps and surf schools around the world including world famous surf destinations like Costa Rica.

Scuba Diving

Another fun option is deep sea diving. Now unlike surfing, there is a lot more admin that comes with diving as there are prerequisites that come with it. Diving lessons are a must. You need to be familiar with how to use the equipment, safety under the water, and knowledge about dealing with water pressure and the effect it has on your body. 

A nod from the doctor is also in order. There are certain medical conditions that may hinder your diving ability including pregnancy, heart and breathing problems, hay fever, and seasickness. If you are not confident that diving is for you and as such you do not have the willpower to meet all these requirements, some diving schools will allow you to dive for a day without committing to the full course.

Jet skiing

For the less sporty and technologically inclined who want an exhilarating experience without having to exert too much physical force, then jet skiing is a great option. Most beaches will have companies or individuals willing to rent out jet-skis for a period of time. 

For those who are willing and able, you can take it a step further into “poshpacking” if you will. There exists a category of underwater jet-ski’s such as Cayago’s Seabob Range, that allow you to combine the experience of diving underwater and jet-skiing.

With one deep breath you can experience what a typical diver could at much faster speeds. Although granted, this convenience comes with a high price ranging from 7,000 to 14,000 euros depending on the model.

Kayaking

Kayaking is relatively easy to get the hang of after capsizing a few times. A kayak is a narrow boat with one or more cockpits each sitting one paddler. The trick is getting accustomed to the double-bladed paddle. 

You have to alternate using the left side and right side for each stroke to propel yourself forwards and backwards. The kayaking experience is best when travelling through a narrow river or mangrove where you can really test your kayaking skills when trying to manoeuvre out of tight areas. 

Secondly, consider teaming up in a kayak with a partner. The teamwork that comes with it is fun, as you will have to synchronize your strokes.

Cliff-diving

What better way to end the recommendation list than with a more extreme challenge. This is the least financially taxing activity, but it is definitely mentally taxing. It is as easy as finding a cliff with a body of water below it. The diving part is the challenge.

Hopefully this guide gives you some great ideas and suggestions that you can incorporate into your future plans for the upcoming summer holiday. Thank you for reading and happy holidays!

The post 5 water sports to do on your next backpacking trip appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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Travelling is transformative in more ways than one.

Soaking up the new sensations and spectacular sights of unfamiliar cultures gives you a whole new perspective on the world and your place in it. So when you eventually return, you might have changed significantly.

But if you plan to be away from your base for an extended period of time, side-projects that help you earn cash, dip your toes into a career and enhance your health or education can easily slot into your lifestyle and make your experience more rounded and richer.

Plus, they’re a bridge between your life on the road and future plans in a slightly more static life. 

If you want to keep a few irons in the fire while travelling, these three sabbatical side projects should spark your imagination.

  1. Fitness

Staying in shape while you travel depends on the physical activities you participate in and whether or not it’s possible to stick to a controlled diet. 

Moving from one country to another means you might have to make food choices that aren’t ideal — especially in the first few days you’re acclimatising. 

But intermittent fasting is one way of burning off bodyfat you pack on from occasionally treating yourself to too much alcohol or sweet treats. It speeds up your metabolism so that fat deposits don’t get a chance to settle.

And if you can’t access gyms to use free weights, bikes and treadmills, bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and burpees can easily be completed in your hotel room. 

Reading these travel fitness tips from Bodybuilding.com will inform you further. 

  1. Writing

Many modern travellers regularly blog about their experiences — and with a little experience, you can monetise this process to create an income stream that may grow enough to finance further adventures.

But why stop at blogging when it comes to using your writing skills to earn cash? Good copywriters these days don’t grow on trees, so they can command considerable fees.

A progressive agency might offer you a permanent part-time gig, provided you can complete the required hours and meet deadlines — or alternatively, you could throw your hat in the ring as a freelancer. 

Taking some tips from this Jason Capital article might convince you to take the copywriting plunge and earn some serious cash. 

  1. Learning

It’s not uncommon for travellers to start making serious plans for a career change while they’re abroad. If career fatigue wasn’t one of the catalysts for taking a break, expanding your physical horizons sometimes makes you re-evaluate your vocational plans unexpectedly.

And through the marvels of modern tech, it’s possible to earn an accredited degree in anything from digital marketing to business administration from anywhere on earth.

Provided you have a reliable laptop and regular access to Wi-Fi, you’ll complete assignments and interact with classmates and tutors smoothly and seamlessly.

Studying with a provider like Anglia Ruskin Distance Learning means you might return home ready to hit the ground running in a totally new career. 

That’s the end of our list! Share your sabbatical side project ideas with us in the comments section. 

The post Irons in the fire — 3 sabbatical side projects appeared first on Pommie Travels.

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