Canada’s Best Cities for Gap Year Travellers

If you a lover of urban environments, Canada actually has a lot to offer you. You shouldn’t assume that Canada doesn’t have much going for it in that department because that’s simply not true at all. So if you’re tired of the same old cities, and you’re looking for something a little new and interesting, Canada should be your next destination as a gap year traveller. But which Canadian cities are most worth your time? Read on to find out right away; you can then start planning your travels.
Quebec City
Quebec City is the French-speaking capital of Quebec, but you shouldn’t let the language barrier put you off visiting this beautiful and historic city. The Château Frontenac is a place that you can’t and shouldn’t miss because it’s one of the most beautiful and impressive structures in the whole of North America. There is a part of the city known as Old Quebec too; be sure to give that a visit,
As you can see for yourself, the Toronto skyline is simply beautiful, and each of the buildings that stand out are easy to explore for visitors. The CN Tower is the highlight, so be sure to head to the top of it and get a view over the city when you’re in Toronto. The Royal Ontario museum will teach you about the history of the region too, so make sure you stop off there.

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Halifax is located in Nova Scotia, and it has plenty to offer visitors. Downtown Halifax is where you’ll find the arts scene and lots of interesting shops, bars and cafes. However, there’s much else to discover in Halifax if you get bored of that downtown area. Delta Hotels Halifax offer suitable accommodation, and from there you can visit places like the historic fort of Citadel Hill. You can then venture down to the Halifax Harbour.
The Notre-Dame Basilica is perhaps the standout feature of the city of Montreal. It’s a beautiful place of worship, and anyone who appreciates history and architecture should visit it. Then there’s the botanical gardens that are certainly worth your time if you want a break from the urban sprawl. Smoked meat sandwiches are a trademark of the city, so be sure to try them too.
The food and craft beer scene is fantastic in Calgary, so if you’re a foodie and you love beer, there’s no better city in Canada for you to visit. It’s also a very green and pretty city, as the image below ably demonstrates. That’s not something you often get in the urban environment, so it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by it. And if you visit during winter, you’ll be close to the main ski resorts in the region.

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Canada is known for its mountains and rural spots, but you should never forget about what the rural spots of the country can offer you. Each of the cities that we’ve mentioned here offers you something different as a visitor, and you should be sure to visit them all at one time or another.

What to Do on a Long Weekend in Gozo, the Sister Island of Malta

A Long Weekend in Gozo…

Sometimes, travelling to the Mediterranean isn’t complete without a few stops at several destinations. Malta is a financial epicentre of the region and has a vigorous nightlife, so that relatively small island is a huge draw to those on the upper end of the socioeconomic ladder. It is always interesting to spend time in Malta, but if you want to experience the real culture of the Maltese people, a long weekend in Gozo is what you need to plan on. As the sister island of Malta, Gozo is much less populated, although a big attraction when travelling the Mediterranean. In short, you can’t plan a trip to Malta, business or pleasure, without a long weekend on Gozo.

What Are the Main Attractions in Gozo?

One of the highlights of life in Gozo would be the much-anticipated feasts or ‘festas’ in villages throughout the island. Typically held from May through September, these are more than just festivals. They are a celebration of life in Gozo, and what you will see is strong embedded in faith. Many are in honour of the patron saint of their village, but each festa is more joyful than the next.
Ramla Bay with its golden sand
Residents march in processions through the streets and the whole village looks forward to festa celebration. It’s amazing to see just how they live for these feasts and their excitement is highly contagious. You can always check out the calendar of events to plan your trip to Gozo to correspond with the festa you want to enjoy. It’s worth planning your trip to Malta just to be there for a summer festa in Gozo!

Watersports Galore!

One of the main reasons so many people take a long weekend in Gozo is because of the amazing array of watersports that can be enjoyed. While weekends in summer months are quite busy, the beaches are nowhere near as crowded as the touristy spots on Malta, and that alone is reason enough to spend a weekend on the smaller sister island. There are even a few beaches which are more secluded, so you can enjoy some actual privacy while soaking in some of the warm Mediterranean sun.
Check out Mġarr ix-Xini, which is tranquil, but be aware it is so secluded that there are no public facilities. This is where many families like to snorkel along the shore for a bit of underwater photography and if you are adventurous in spirit, why not do a bit of rock climbing or hiking along the cliffs that surround the bay on three sides?

Visit the Shops of Local Artisans

Something else you will be amazed by in Gozo is the number of local artisans who take great pride in their work. Some of the most popular crafts to explore are:

  • Glassblowing
  • Weaving
  • Lacemaking
  • Pottery
  • Art
  • Stone sculptures
  • Hand harvested sea salt
  • Handmade artisan jewellery

Bear in mind that many of these craftsmen have been handed down their trade through countless generations. Their artistry is in the very air they breathe. It’s literally in their blood. You can see them at work in the same way as their ancestors did, perhaps several hundred years ago!

Amazing Culinary Delights in Gozo

There is nothing quite as delicious as the foods you will eat in Gozo. What you will notice from the very first mouthful is that everything is fresh and locally sourced. Unlike the “locally sourced organic” craze that has swept Europe and much of North America, these foods really are fresh and locally sourced. You will find that the farming estates produce strawberries and grapes in season, and these can be seen on tables of most of the better restaurants on the island, as well as in homes and cafés the locals frequent.
Maxokk on the beach
As an island of fishermen, you will always have access to the ‘catch of the day’, which is authentically the catch of the day, not an advertising gimmick to sell what hasn’t sold the week before. You may want to try their fresh baked bread to be dipped in olive oil or spread with tomato paste, and there is nothing so mouth-wateringly delicious as pastizzi. These flaky pastries (filo) are stuffed with goat cheese and peas. It is said that pastizzi will even put Indian samosas or Italian calzone to shame.

So Much to Do and So Little Time

As a seasoned traveller, you don’t need tips on finding a hotel in Gozo, but what you do need is a brief overview of things to do and see which you will find nowhere else on earth. Don’t forget to visit the historic Megalithic Stone Temples of Ġgantija or the Cittadella in Victoria. Pack as much into your long weekend as possible because the more you see, the more you’ll be excited about coming back next year on holiday – and believe it or not, you will!

5 Countries To Visit In The Middle East

A Journey to the Middle East

The Middle East is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, especially as flights are becoming cheaper and more frequent. Whether you visit a single destination or enjoy a multi-stop break, there are plenty of great places to visit in the Middle East that will feed your travel bug and show you some of the world’s most beautiful sights.
middle east travels
To help you plan your travels, here are five countries to visit in the Middle East. Whether you visit one or visit them all, you’re in for some incredible experiences.

1. Jordan

Jordan is regarded as one of the safest countries to visit in the Middle East, with a lot to see for adventure seekers. Among the highlights of a trip to Jordan are the chance to explore the ancient city of Petra, the Roman ruins of Jerash and of course, the Dead Sea. A beautiful country with welcoming and friendly people, it should be at the top of your Middle Eastern travel

2. Qatar

Qatar is becoming a popular country to visit and is experiencing ,
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5 Top Tips for Travelling with a Wheelchair

5 Top Tips for Travelling with a Wheelchair
Times have changed and, in the modern world, it’s becoming easier and easier for those who are wheelchair-bound to travel internationally. An increasing number of nations are developing their understanding of wheelchair accessibility; things are getting easier. That being said, here are a few tips on travelling with a wheelchair that you might not have thought of, and that may still pose an issue.
Make sure your accommodation has access… and double check!
Proper access is probably the first thing that springs to mind when booking a holiday. Whether it’s looking to stay in a hotel with a lift, at a home with a home lift or somewhere else, it’s important to make sure you choose a place that can accommodate you. Be sure to consider things like corridor width, possible obstructions, etc. If you need to charge your chair, check you can do so with the international plug sockets that may be available.
Key Phrases in other languages
The language barrier can be an issue for anyone travelling, but for a wheelchair user, it’s important to learn some phrases a little more advanced than most, including some of the following;  

  • Wheelchair
  • Where is the nearest…
  • Lift/Elevator
  • Ramp
  • Access

If you stay with a native speaker, this would, of course, be the ideal solution to any language issue. However, it’s always good to keep some phrases in the back of your mind in case you are caught without someone to translate!
Repair shops for wheelchairs
This isn’t something that is often thought of, but it’s good to know where the nearest place to go is if things go wrong with your chair. Be sure to check the reviews of a place before visiting, and be on the lookout for reliable services nearby which stock spare batteries, tyres and other vital parts on your chair that can go awry.
Arrive at Airports Very Early
It’s a horrible feeling being late for your flight, but an even worse one being late for your flight and rushing in your wheelchair. Many wheelchair users who travel frequently recommend arriving at the airport an hour before the recommended arrival time, as it often takes them longer to get through security with a wheelchair.
Fitting a Wheelchair onto a Plane
Again, this is not often an issue thought much about. Something to bear in mind with this is that the chair should be made as small as possible to fit in the cargo hold. Here are some of the most popular planes and their cargo sizes…
Airbus A320 : 48.3” x 71.5” OR 1227mm x 1816mm
Boeing 737-800 : 35” x 48” OR 889mm x 1219mm
Airbus A319 : 48.1” x 71.5” OR 1222mm x 1816mm
Embraer E190/E195 : 35” x 43” OR 889mm x 1092mm
Bombardier CRJ 200 : 43” x 33” OR 1092mm x 838mm

Exploring Malaysia The Responsible Way

Person Female Outdoors Backpack Woman Hiker
Travelling the world and taking in some of the most incredible sights this planet has to offer is considered a dream to most and Malaysia comes close to topping the list. The wonder may come down to wondering how you can afford it! Appropriately planned though, it can be done on a budget. It’s time to grab your backpack and get exploring. Here is a list of places not to miss and how to act when you get there.
Penang is understandably one of the most popular stop-offs on the visitor’s itinerary, as there is so much to do. From the jaw-dropping colonial architecture and temples to the mouthwatering local dishes, considered some of the best in the world, Georgetown never fails to impress. Pulau Pangkor is a calm and relaxed destination though if you are looking for a tropical sandy beach then you may be left wanting.
Cameron Highlands boasts tea fields, and the refreshing mountain air is a welcome relief for the humidity which can be overpowering in Southeast Asia. There are many walks in the area including organised treks to view the rafflesia, which is the largest flower in the world.
Malacca combines the interest of a historical city with a relaxed and amiable vibe. Sitting just a few hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, the old colonial town has a very engaging history which has resulted in a beautiful mix of cultures. The Portuguese colonials pursued relationships and married locals as did the Chinese, many men taking local brides resulting in Straits Chinese culture.
Borneo merely is not to be missed.  One of the cleanest, friendliest and quite honestly, most exciting cities in Southeast Asia is Kuching. It is also the biggest city in Sarawak. By travelling just a few hours out of the town, you will find Bako National Park worth at least an overnight visit. Proboscis monkeys, along with a full ,
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Volunteering with Animals on a Gap Year

What about Volunteer with animals during your gap year?
Volunteering with animals during a year out will be a great experience if you are an animal lover, or thinking about working with animals once you graduate from university. It will also help you gain a unique perspective on the country you are working in that would you not see otherwise.
They are hundreds of different ways you can volunteer with animals all over the world. Why not work with tigers in Thailand, Lions in South Africa, help orangutans in Borneo, or work with many of the different dog charities around the world.
orangutan in borneo
Whichever experience you choose it will no doubt be an unforgettable experience. We will now take a look at some of the most popular animal volunteer work.
Working with Lions
Lions are a great fit for those who have a real passion and desire to conserve lions in their natural habitat. A gap year working with lions will help these animals that are at risk from poachers and extinction. You will be able to observe them in their natural habitat and help educate the local community on how they can live peacefully with Lions.
lion and cubs
Tasks you can expect are data collection, feeding cubs, general maintenance, research monitoring and cleaning out the enclosures. The hours would be long and you would be expected to work Monday to Fridays.
Working with dog charities
There are dog charities in most countries in Asia and if you are a dog lover like me, then this could be the perfect volunteering job for you.
While you can’t change the world in the months that you are there, you will really feel that your effort will have a positive impact on the dogs while you are there. Taking a dog for a walk or spending some time with them will help improve their confidence and have an immediate effect on their lives.
You will also get plenty of close contact with the animals that you might not get with some of the other volunteer work. All day you will have plenty of dogs around you that will be after your attention and you there will be plenty of opportunities to play, stroke and cuddle the dogs.
There will be many different breeds of dogs, small and large, such as German Shepherds, Cockapoos, Spaniels, Cross Breeds, Bull Dogs, Labradors and plenty of puppies.
Overall we would definitely recommend doing some animal volunteer work, even if it’s only for a few weeks. You will get to meet other volunteers of different ages and cultures and make new friends who all have a common goal to improve the life of animals.
As well as this you will gain that vital experience for your CV that others just won’t have. It will help you grow as a person and give you some great life skills.

Why Volunteering Overseas Will Be The Most Rewarding Experience Of Your Life

Open Your Heart and Mind – Volunteer Abroad

Perhaps you’re on a gap year or you’re simply looking for an experience that’ll allow you to see the most wonderful places in the world. Volunteering abroad will no doubt enrich your life, help you become more independent, and give you a feeling of satisfaction while feeding into your yearning of wanderlust and excitement. Naturally, you may feel apprehensive about it, but it’s that vulnerable state that truly makes you feel alive.
While it’s normal for your hometown to make you feel safe, comfortable and happy – after all, family and friends are what makes up feel loved, needed, and appreciative, you’re only allowed a short amount of time on this Earth, why not see any and everything that you possibly can? It’s living outside of your comfort zone, meeting people of different ages, cultures, and countries that’ll give you something that no one can ever take away from you – empathy, understanding, and knowledge that you can’t get from a textbook. The experiences you’ll have and the open-mindedness you’ll acquire is immeasurable. And here’s why…

1. It Will Teach You About Commitment 

Of course, there are several other things you could be doing abroad, but when you volunteer – you’re not only giving yourself the opportunity to be selfless, caring, and helpful to those in need, you’re giving yourself the ability to understand, empathise and love something and someone in a way in which you’ve never felt before. It’ll give you the ability to commit to something bigger, and it’ll truly show you what you are made of.
Yes, the journey may be difficult at times – you’ll miss home, you’ll miss certain technologies, food, and maybe the country you’re visiting doesn’t have your favorite face cream or brand of clothing. But what is that in the grander scheme of things when you’ll gain so much more?

2. You Will See The Most Wonderful Places On Earth

By volunteering abroad, you’ll be able to see the most wonderful places on Earth. You’ll try food that you probably can’t even pronounce – and you’ll probably love it. You’ll learn a new language from locals who can’t wait to talk with you, you’ll learn about what it’s like to live in a community – to share, to participate in teamwork, and to contribute towards an extremely worthy cause. You’ll not only gain life experience, but also awesome stuff to fill your resume with.
You’ll have the opportunity to take copious amounts of travel photos, which in turn will give you lifelong memories as well as all the jealousy of your friends and followers on social media. But most importantly, you’ll be improving the quality of life for someone or people who truly deserve it. Whether it’s something as simple as making them smile, or helping gain clean, running water – you’re courageously putting yourself in the position where you’re the reason someone can be happy today. 

3. You Will Make Unforgettable Memories And Meet Unforgettable People 

Additionally, your time abroad may come to an end after several weeks or months, but the effects thereof will last you forever. You will never forget about the people you met, the things you did, the knowledge you learned, and the experiences you tried. It’ll allow you to be introspective, it will give you confidence going forward with your life because you know that you’re capable of making it on your own, in countries that people dream of visiting – whether it’s one of the most wonderful places on Earth or a country that makes you nervous. 

4. Helping Others Strengthens Your Immune System 

So why else should you volunteer abroad? Besides the fact that you’re doing a world of difference to people that truly need it, there are other benefits that are more geared towards you. Did you know that by helping others, you are effectively reducing stress? Studies have suggested that by focusing on someone other than yourself, you’re helping break the stress-related patterns that exist in your life. It also makes you healthier, as feeling less stress and more joy strengthens your system. 

5. You’re Helping A Developing Country’s Local Development 

And how are you helping others? Volunteering helps by cutting down local costs within a country. While you embark on a journey that could essentially cost you nothing, the affected countries are saving money for other resources simply because you are willing to help. How will you be repaid? In smiles, in words of wisdom and appreciation, in sustainable development for those in need, by knowing that you’ve made a difference, and by becoming a stronger and more worldly person. 

6. You’ll Gain Irreplaceable Life Experience

When planning your volunteering initiative, it’s important to keep several things in mind: research the company you’re planning to go with! Make sure that they are legitimate and that they have needs, goals, and values that are congruent to yours. If you’re worried about costs, there are initiatives that are free to participate in. Yes, you may break even by not earning money, but it’s impossible to put a price on life experience. 

7. You’ll Use (And Gain) Your Skills And Strengths

You should also be considering your own strengths and skills. What can you offer to the initiative that would be useful? Additionally, what do you hope to gain out of the experience? It’s important to keep in mind that, while you’ll be seeing some of the most wonderful places in the world, you’ll also have to be ready to commit, work hard, and be flexible with your time and effort. 

8. You’ll Become Empathetic And Knowledgeable About New Cultures 

Once you’ve spent time volunteering abroad, you won’t be the same person. You will be appreciative of a comfortable bed, clean running water, fast speed internet, and family and friends, but you’ll also be appreciative of other cultures, different languages, and types of people that you never even knew existed. 
At the end of the day, it’s all about being open, positive, and forthcoming when it comes to volunteering abroad. 

9. You Might Just Find Your Purpose 

Stick around for the long terms projects, make sure to show interest in what you’re doing, check back in with how things are going once you’ve returned home. You never know, you may find your true passion in life, which could ultimately lead to an unexpected employment opportunity. 
At the end of the day, the only requirement you need in order to make a success of your time abroad is to have a can-do attitude, a positive outlook, and an open mind.The rest of this incredible experience will surely come to you.
Author Bio:
Evans Lily is the founder of SkyWeFly, where I and my associates blog about photographs, stories and travel tips that will help you make a great journey. I hope to bring my passion to more people via SkyWeFly.

Top 5 Lesser Known Tourist Attractions in Los Angeles

When planning a trip to Los Angeles, C.A. there are many places and things to explore. Here’s a list of seven locations that should be on your must-see list. They are part of what makes L.A. so iconic.

  1. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was opened in 1927, during Hollywood’s golden years.  It is in the heart of Hollywood Boule,
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Mountain Biking or Rock Climbing in the Alps for Active Tourists


mountain biking in the alps 

Are you thinking of trying something different this summer? Are you tired of the classical beach vacation with the family?

Why not visit the Alps?

If you thought the Alps are only a winter destination, you were dead wrong! While it’s true that they’re the ultimate destination for the cold season, boasting three of the largest ski areas in the world, they’re also one of the best-kept secrets for amazing summer holidays.
mountain biking in the alps
With plenty of activities to keep anyone busy, you’ll find that there is a broad range of experiences for the active vacationers everywhere.
Let’s take a look at two of the most popular: mountain biking and rock climbing.

Biking in the French Alps

The French Alps are quite the popular destination for mountain bikers everywhere. Som of the top resorts, such as Le Tour in Chamonix and Alpe d’Huez (famous for the Megavalanche, a well-known, international mountain bike race) attract thousands of tourists every year.
You can be sure that you’ll find something designed for every level of bike rider here, be it beginner or advanced. However, whether you’re buying an alpine holiday package or you’re planning a biking trip by yourself, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind in order to make sure everything goes smoothly.

  • Take a bike you are comfortable riding, and that is well suited for the rough terrain in the Alps;
  • Make sure you replace worn out tires;
  • Make sure your brakes are working properly;
  • Take some spare parts with you, such as tires, tubes, chains or links
  • Use bodies armor elements, such as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and back protectors;
  • Take some wet weather clothes and suntan lotion;

Rock Climbing in the French Alps

Rock climbing is another great activity for the more adventurous types out there. The Alps offer a huge ,
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Hiking Machu Picchu: What You Need To Pack – Equipment List

Hiking Machu Picchu: What You Need To Bring
A guide to packing your gear for a hiking the Inca trail of Machu Picchu
Congratulations on finally booking that hiking trip along the Inca trail! If you’re reading this, it means that you’ve probably already heard about how great the experience can be, and you’re most likely already amped to put on your hiking gear and hit the trail.
But what exactly are you going to take with you?
Luckily, packing your bags will be the simplest thing ever, because we’re here to offer a little advice on what you’ll need and what you can safely leave at home! Sit back, relax, and make sure you study our recommendations for essential gear you’ll need to hike Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail Packing List
Number One – Hydration System
Using a hydration system such as a Camelbak is essential during your some 26 mile hike along the Inca Trail. These systems give you easy access to your water supply, and it also means that you have the to opportunity to hydrate without the need to stop every few miles.
Number Two – Adequate Hiking Jacket
The Inca trail requires hikers to be prepared for the worst of weather conditions, whether it is the blazing sun or the pouring rain and hectic winds. Since the trails lead through a diversity of ecosystems, you’ll probably be sweating one minute and then freezing your butt off in a snowstorm the next. Moral of the story? Be prepared for seriously unpredictable weather and take the right lightweight hiking jacket!
Number Three – Sunnies and a Hat
This almost goes hand in hand with the hiking jacket we just mentioned, but we can’t stress just how important these pieces of gear are for hikers trekking Machu Picchu. The Andean sun is harsh and intense to say the least, and things get even crazier at the peak of noon.
Number Four – The Right Hiking Boots
Early-morning fog and mid-afternoon drizzle are very common on the Inca trail, so you need to ensure that you’re prepared for wet slippery walkways by wearing a waterproof pair of hiking boots. You’re also going to want to consider investing in something that offers you adequate ankle support to carry you down the boulders on the trail.
Number Five – Something to Cure Altitude Sickness
Meds such as Acetazolamide or Diamox can be prescribed to hikers by their doctors before they head out to trek Machu Picchu, and if you’re smart, you’re going to have to consider an approach like this in order to preempt altitude sickness.
Number Six – A Good Bag
Look: most hikers tend to rent a sleeping bag from the tour operators that lead them through the Inca trail, if you’re not one of them, make sure you take a thermally-lined silk sleeping bag. If you’re renting, make sure you take a silk liner with you just to add more warmth and comfort to the sleeping part of your journey, you could also travel with a silk pillowcase as they’re lightweight, cool, very good for your skin/hair, easy to wash and dry and fold up to next to nothing.
Number Seven – Prevention for Blisters
Blisters happen, and while hiking Machu Picchu, they’re probably more likely than ever to affect hikers. Make sure you pack a blister medical kit in your gear bag so that you can treat or prevent blisters before the situation becomes unbearable. One other thing to keep in mind here is to make sure that you break your hiking shoes in before you head out to the trails.
Final Thoughts
We reckon that these seven pieces of gear are some of the most essentials you’ll need to in order to successfully hike Machu Picchu. Remember: every hiker has his or her own preferences and things that add a little more comfort to the rugged environment we encounter during our hiking excursions, so make sure you pack the things that will make your trip that much more memorable.
We hope that this guide has been helpful in assisting you with deciding what to take along on your Inca trails hiking trip. Stay safe and happy hiking!
About The Author
macchu pichu hikerI’m Dan, and I’m the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. I’m also an avid adventurer, digital nomad and traveler. I enjoy all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. I currently live in Brazil where I can be found frequently hiking the rain forest around my city!