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Passport US

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As the New Year rolls around, so do those dreaded resolutions. The things you promise you'll change to make yourself a better person- lose 10 lbs., spend more time with the family, eat out less, etc. Instead of forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do, why not make optimistic travel resolutions to better yourself? There's nothing more fun than immersing yourself in other worldly cultures to broaden your horizons, which is only done by seeing the world and exploring the great wonders of earth.  Here's our list, feel free to adopt these as your own. Happy holidays and happy travels!


1. Face a fear- There is nothing more satisfying than staring fear in the eye and laughing. Afraid of heights? Go sky diving.  Afraid of the ocean? Swim with the sharks. Though it may be terrifying at first, go with a reputable program or guide that can ensure your success. You will gain so much self confidence knowing you conquered something you never dreamed possible, which will go wonders beyond an extra hour or two at the gym.


2. Challenge yourself- Are you an avid hiker? Test your skills with one of the biggest challenges in the world- Manchu Picchu or the Himalayas. Big on biking? Try cycling around Amsterdam. Match your unique hobbies and interests to the location they are most popular or coveted. Besides having a blast, you'll see that people around the world really aren't so different after all by meeting people with similar interests. 


3. Make time for travel- One of the hardest parts about travel is finding the time and money to do it. Promise yourself you will take your full two weeks of vacation this year.  No matter how daunting the thought of work piling up is, if you plan ahead the world will not end.  Block out a non-busy time scheduling around the dreaded end of month /end of quarter and get a jumpstart on finishing reports early. After all, you owe it to yourself to decompress. Travel is good for the health and the heart. In most of the world, they get on average a week off per quarter to relax.


4. Go with the flow- Planning out your entire itinerary can be great for scheduling sake, but taking it as it comes is equally as important to truly get the vibe of your location. In the Caribbean? Sure, you want to fit in water sports, parasailing and zip lining, but don't stress out if you don't get to it all. They are on "Island time," the pace is a bit slower, more chill. Grab a frozen cocktail, hit the spa and you'll be one of them in no time.


5. Don't judge- One of the best parts about visiting a new place is learning about the culture, but it's important to be respectful. If you see people eating something you would never put in your mouth or wearing something you think looks crazy, accept it. Don't giggle, talk behind their back or whisper. Besides, maybe it's really you that's backwards.


6. Revisit an old fav- there are spots that are meaningful to us all, whether it be somewhere in your own town, a honeymoon spot, or somewhere you went as a child. Reliving the special moments and places in our life is equally as important as seeing something new. Nostalgia is an extremely powerful emotion and the sights, smells and colors can take you back to some of the best times in your life.


7. Share the experience- Traveling solo is great, but making memories is what it's all about. Go with a loved one, be it your family, significant other, or a group of friends to capture those "had to be there moments." And of course, document your trip with photos and videos to share with friends and family. You just may motivate them to relive your experience or at least be extremely jealous. 


8. Cross something off your bucket list- We all have a bucket list- those grand adventures that make life worth living. An African safari in your top 3? What better time than the present? Because really, what are you waiting for? Seize the moment.


9. Add something to your bucket list- The more you travel, the more amazing, off the beaten path  places you discover. It's hard to even read about a place without discovering 10 more things you have to do or try. This isn't a bad thing, it just keeps you motivated to explore and widens your eyes to all that's out there.


10. Don't stress- Planning a trip can be extremely time consuming. Travelers conducting on average twenty web searches before booking just to make sure they cross reference every detail and scour over every review. Take time to relax even in the planning stage. Vacations are meant to destress, not cause more anxiety that you missed a sale. Create your game plan early so you can enjoy the ride instead of worrying about last minute expenses. 


Bon voyage!

Altitude Sickness may sound foreign or mythical to the unfamiliar, but the mountain climbers, hikers, skiers and travelers at high altitude who have fallen short of oxygen know it's no joke.

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So, what is Altitude Sickness? Altitude Sickness occurs as a result of your body not getting enough oxygen at high altitudes. The higher up you go, the "thinner" the air becomes, which makes it difficult to receive oxygen from the air, resulting in headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Altitude Sickness may cause symptoms similar to that hangover from college you used to hate so much, but the good news is you can take some precautionary measures to avoid it! Here are some things to consider before you embark on your next mile-high excursion.


How High Is Too High?


For some extreme athletes, climbing a 14,000-foot mountain is a casual weekend activity, but the average person can acquire a mild form of Altitude Sickness at altitudes of only 10,000-feet. It's important to monitor your breathing as you're ascending, because Altitude Sickness can occur as low as 6,500-feet. While some are more susceptible to Altitude Sickness than others, there is only one sure-fire way to avoid it all together: Descend towards sea level!


Hydration Is Key


Keeping hydrated is the single most beneficial thing you can do for your body when traveling at high altitudes. If you think you've had enough water, think again. Water is your friend. Gatorade is your enemy. At 12,000-feet, it is recommended you drink 3 liters of water a day. Cheers!


Ascend Slowly


Remember, it's not a race; it's a marathon. When traveling to high altitudes, it's important to gradually ascend in order to allow your body to acclimate to the changes in air pressure.


Avoid Alcohol & Tobacco


It may be vacation, but when traveling to high altitudes it's recommended to avoid these guilty pleasures and any other depressant drugs for the first few days while your body is adjusting. These depressants can result in a worsening of symptoms. 


So, now that you're well informed on the basics of Altitude Sickness and how to avoid it, go out there and tackle new heights! But remember, slowly and with water.


By Julie Bass, Contributing Author

World-travel

Image via Wikipedia

Have you heard of the 50/50 Club? Visited all 50 states and 50 countries in your lifetime (there are 196 to choose from)? The 50/50 is a badge of pride. An accomplishment reserved only for the elite wanderlusters who have a travel addiction so bad they have been bitten by the need to see the world. It's an addiction as much as a need. A lifestyle as much as a passion.

And no cheating, I don't count airport layovers as visits. Use your best discretion as to how long you must be at a place to officially check it off the list. You have to at least make a stop, not just pass through on a road trip in the middle of the night (yeah, we know you did that with Iowa).


Here's my list, I'm halfway on states and 1/3 on countries.


States:


1. Washington

2. California

3.  Nevada

4. Arizona

5. Colorado

6. Kansas

7. Minnesota

8. Wisconsin

9. Iowa

10. Missouri

11. Louisiana

12. Illinois

13. Michigan

14. Indiana

15. Kentucky

16. Pennsylvania

17. Ohio

18. Georgia

19. Florida

20. Virginia

21. West Virginia

22. Maryland

23. New York

24. Massachusetts

25. South Carolina

 

Countries:


1.US

2. Canada

3. Mexico

4. Costa Rica

5. Aruba

6. Barbados

7. Jamaica

8. Grand Cayman

9. Virgin Islands

10. Iceland

11. UK

12. Italy

13. France

14. Portugal

15. Spain

16. Austria

17. Netherlands

18. Israel

19. Bahamas

20. Thailand

21. Japan


How far along are you? Post your achievements in the comments!

IMG_4703

Image by didierbeck via Flickr

While Lake Como was the former setting of party boy George Clooney's famous lake house, it went up for sale last year in search of a more quiet, less paparazzi hounded vacation home. So where are all the celebs vacationing these days? If you're interested in rubbing elbows with the rich and famous we uncover the best spots to celeb watch while working on your tan.


Saint Barth (Barts)


With the largest hotel on the island holding less than 60 rooms, this ultra-chic island is the top getaway of choice by many A-listers. A favorite of Gwen Stefani, Beyonce and Lindsay Lohan, the majority of St. Bart's is made up of private villas for the utmost in secret escapades. The main hangout? Nikki Beach. Modeled after the European minimalist, contemporary look and feel as the haute beach club's other international locations, guests at Nikki Beach St. Barths can relax and enjoy the simplistic beauty of plush beds, chic drapery, trademark teepees, and pillows galore at this swanky party spot.

Amalfi Coast


Kim Kardashian's sexy honeymoon spot with new hubby Kris Humphries, the Amalfi Coast in Italy is secluded and picturesque. Staying at a two story private chalet at the Hotel Santa Caterina, the five-star accommodations have also been said to have hosted Elizabeth Taylor and power couple Brangelina. Known for its grottos, twisting coastlines and steep cliffs, Amalfi is rugged, sexy and sheltered for both a beach escape and cultural expedition.


Bora Bora


Filmed recently on the Kardashians for Kris and Bruce Jenner's anniversary, Bora Bora has been the honeymoon spot of Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman and hosted Alyssa Milano and Christina Applegate. Sandwiched between a lagoon and a barrier reef, the center of the island holds the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. It is one of the 120 islands that make up the French French Polynesia, divided into five archipelagos.


Hawaii


The summer vacation spot of Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Roberts and young lovebirds Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, Hawaii has always been a favorite of families and couples alike. With the most popular island being Kauai, be sure to visit Tunnels Beach to see sea turtles, eels and other mammals and the picturesque Na'aina Kai Botanical Gardens.


Saint Tropez


Made famous by Diddy, Saint Tropez has also seen the likes of Kate Moss, Avril Lavigne, Hugh Jackman, Simon Cowell this year. Neighboring swanky Cannes, this playpen on the French Riviera has been dubbed the 'playground to jetsetters, fashion models, and millionaires.' The hottest nightclub in town is the Les Caves du Roy, where if you make it past the velvet rope, a beer alone will run you $33. Bring your black card to ensure a good time.  


 

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