Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Things you need to see and do in Australia (GUEST POST)

Australia is one of the most incredible countries in the world and it truly is something that should be enjoyed and taken in with your entire body and mind. And it does not really matter if you are visiting Australia or if you like there and you are just looking for a weekend getaway. Australia has so much to offer that you could spend your entire life just traversing the continent and you would still miss out on so much. However, there are a few things that no one should fail to see and experience in Australia and they are these.

One thing that is truly breath-taking and that can change one's view of the world and the planet is definitely the Daintree rainforest. It is one of the most spectacular places in the entire world and it boasts some of the most diverse plant and animal ecosystems that you can imagine. There are also tons of things that you can do there, from river cruises to bushwalks and crocodile-spotting expeditions. There are also great places nearby that you can stay in as part of your affordable weekend getaway that will bring you back in touch with the nature.

If you live in Sydney or if you are visiting Sydney, which is something you will do if you are visiting Australia, then Fraser Island is really the best weekend getaway that you can imagine. It is the largest sand island in the world and it boasts simply mind-boggling island lakes that have the whitest sand beaches and the clearest water that you will ever see. There is plenty of affordable accommodation on Fraser Island and it truly is a one in a million type of experience.

Another very special place that should be on everyone's to-do list is the Uluru Mountain, also known as Ayers Rock. It is a sandstone rock that seems to have been placed in the Red Centre by some supernatural power and that can truly make your heart stop when you see it. The best time to visit Uluru is before daybreak as this will allow you to see the most spectacular sunrise that you can experience on planet Earth.

A visit to cradle Mountain in Tasmania is another perfect weekend getaway that you can enjoy any time of the year. In the winter, it is a glorious snowy landscape and in the summer it may be even more beautiful. It is an impossibly beautiful part of the country and the perfect place to visit if you have a day or two. You can find affordable weekendgetaway cottages that are more than reasonably priced.

Finally, and we think that there is no point in even telling you about it, you have to visit the Bondi beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world and deservedly so. It is its own world, sometimes tough, sometimes funny; but always interesting and exciting. Make sure to pay it a visit.


Sophie Andersen is blogger from Australia. Follow her on

Monday, 3 June 2013

Responsible tourism – The need of Eco – tourism

We accept this fact or not but surely the increase in interaction all across the globe have somehow been good as well bad for us. Today tourism and travel sector has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry but in the race of gaining more & more profit we have somehow neglected the needs of mother nature. Fortunately  now people are getting inclined towards Eco – tourism.

Some of us may wonder what this term exactly means. So, we can say in short that steps taken by us for a sustainable conservation of the area that we travel can be covered under Eco – tourism. The aim of all this is solely to enjoy the place in its original form and not to deface it with our alien presence.

You can take some steps given below to ensure it : -

Use nature based products as much as possible. For example a lemonade can be a better drink in hotter destinations than going for a carbonated cola.

Carry a garbage bag with you wherever you go and keep in mind to throw it only in a dustbin. It has been found that trash disposed irresponsibly by tourists not only harms the beauty of a place but is also hazardous for the flora & fauna of the place and poses serious threat to animal life as well.

Make sure you take services from local people more. The benefit of you being in their land should reach the natives, so that travelers like you keep getting a warm welcome on trips and travel expeditions.

Clean up the mess right after you are done with your camping and other activities. Try to leave no signs of your presence in the place to keep it in its perfect shape. This would be considered as a nice gesture from your side to show respect to nature and the destination you enjoyed.

If you see something wrong in the place which is actually harming the destination and its natural & cultural aspects, you can spare a little time and send an appeal to the local tourism department via email or post to show your concern. The more appeals received will open gates to more efficient steps taken towards the place. Trust me you will feel great inside when you do this.

This responsible behavior towards the nature and destinations you visit can be a great way to demonstrate your passion towards traveling. Not only this, there are several other benefits from this such as : -
  •  Safeguards the beauty of nature and preserves the cultural heritage & values of the natives of that place.
  •  It gives employment to the local population and make them feel good about the place where they live.
  • This will prevent forced migration due to lack of work opportunities.
  • You, the traveler will enjoy the beauty of the place in its original form.

We can say that showing a little concern towards the places we visit and bringing a little modifications in our style of traveling can bring a brighter dawn at the ever expanding horizon of traveling.

Happy Traveling friends

By Prashant Rana

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Top 10 backpacking mistakes

Many of us are very organized tourists who pack everything nicely in a tidy suitcase and plan a trip very much in advance to avoid any last minute rush. But some are those who never plan so much for a trip. They just open their bags and stuff it with some cloths and a few essential things in the last minute and are found out of the home in the very next moment. This includes me as well :-P.

Though it may sound adventurous, and to some extent it is, but it have some loop holes too. From my past experiences I have learned that there are some mistakes we backpackers commit and regret later when we reach the destination or to the no come back possible sort of a point in our journeys. 

I have tried to frame 10 backpacking mistakes that we backpackers often make. I hope this will help you a little to make a check list before you leave for your next exploration.

1. Too much or too little – Packing too much of stuff is going to put extra burden on our shoulders. Knowing this does not help. Most of us still think that everything is essential and we pack it all just to cry about the weight of the bag later. On the contrary, sometimes we tend to pack too little that we end up facing adverse weather condition such as rain or cold as we don’t have proper means to save ourselves then. Recently I was in the mountains and I made a mistake of judging the weather from my home location. When I reached there I had to buy extra sweaters to stay alive & this shook my budget plan for the trip. However, I could come back alive.

2. Lack of research – This is a point I partially mentioned in mistake no. 1. Sometimes we decide to embark on a journey in such a hurry that we do not do a little research about its weather, political or social conditions. In some cases this can be too dangerous. If we do not get time to update ourselves immediately we should make it a habit to keep reading about places around on regular bases to have a fair knowledge of the destinations we can possibly visit.

3. Hitchhiking – Now, let’s face the reality, there are no free lunches! It is strictly advised that do not try to take free lifts unless you are in a group of four or more. Wandering around in a stranger land is thrilling but can be dangerous as you can be an easy catch for the criminals of the area. So, be responsible to yourself, trust your feet and keep going.

4. Not thinking about money – This is a mistake I make every now & then. Fix your budget and stick to it. If you are in a foreign land try to get a work permit before you take off from your home country. I have faced adversities due to lack of accounting skills on many of my trips. I just hope you don’t do the same.

5. Alcohol & drugs – yeah there’s a party going on. Let it go. Try to avoid losing yourself to drugs and alcohol. It may sound like fun & freedom combined but it can end up bad if you are caught in a bad company. In any case, if you are sober and aware of your surroundings you stand a good chance to have a healthy trip. Good for me that I do not smoke or booze.

6. No map or compass – well yes, people out there are always ready to tell you the directions. But there are chances that you cannot ask them properly due to a language barrier. Keep a map and a compass in your backpack just in case you need to know the directions. In the age of smart phones it is not a big task, or is it?

7. Wrong shoes in right feet – Always trust a good pair of shoes when you step out for a trip. Backpackers are bound to roam around walking miles. A bad shoe can simply turn your best travel opportunity into worst in no time.

8. Not keeping a first aid kit – This is something really important and mostly forgotten kind of a thing. At times we are so positive that nothing can happen and when the time comes we are the one who regret. Keep some medicines and bandages in your bag permanently and keep checking their expiry dates regularly. This takes just a minute but can add many years to your life when the time comes.

9. No miscellaneous items – I am talking about extra batteries, tools like a small knife or a lighter and stuff like that. Keep them with yourself. These items do not occupy huge space but can be useful in many ways. I always keep a lighter and a knife in my backpack.

10. Ignoring quality of backpack – I made a check list and put everything in my backpack and when I was about to leave it betrayed me. Friends, do not compromise on the quality of your backpack. It is the most essential tool for you to have a great travel experience. A backpack should be comfortable to carry yet durable to withstand the rough treatment and weight put into it.

Although I know that I am going to make these silly mistakes on my coming trip as well, but I hope you are more intelligent than me and you can avoid doing so.

I wish you all have a great travel experience wherever you go next.

By Prashant Rana

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Be your own Travel Planner

One may spend countless nights and days to decide a destination they want to explore on their next vacation. In our busy lives we all do this because of shortage of time. Thinking about the next place to visit, the budget – air fare, food, expenditure on accommodation, money meant to be spent on gifts and presents while coming back and so on. Yet we sometimes end up with unexpected expenditure or some unanticipated situations which is enough to ruin our planning. Due to this most of us rely upon travel planners.

Travel agents, guides and personalities alike that are given authority to decide and tweak the way we should be traveling through our destination. Well, not a very good idea for me. I personally believe that we all have a unique sense of traveling and exploring a particular place, and for me interaction with the place is foremost important rather than just seeing the places mentioned in books and come back home as if we were there to play hide & seek with famous spots.

So, I would like to share some ideas here, I hope they turn out to be beneficial for you when you plan your travel next time: -

Air tickets

Travel planners and tourist agents often buy air tickets much earlier so when you need a ticket they can even give you one at a price much lower than a current rate. Now, this is not a rocket science in any manner, you can also do this and ultimately if your plan allows, you should do this only. Buy air tickets as soon as you set your plan to travel.

Time table

This is another easy thing that your travel planner would do on your behalf and charge you. If you go through a proper research about your destination over the internet and various travel magazines. It won’t take you  longer than 10-15 minutes to decide how you want to spend your time. Just be clear about your reason to travel to that place and stick to it. This way you don’t have to follow a guide like sheep. You can enjoy more at your place of interest and skip some other spot at your will. Now, that’s what I call freedom of exploration.


These days every details is available at your fingertips, just put a little strain on them and search for some hotels that suit your preferences and book room there. It is not as difficult as it seems, trust me. Every hotel is ready to welcome you when you express a desire to book a room in advance, just like any travel planner on planet earth does.

These were the things that are general in nature, but you can take a few extra steps and snatch the independence of your travel style from the hands of a travel planner, and this steps are: -

Map quest

Well maps play a vital role in having a vacation where you don’t get lost unintentionally. Download maps on your phones if you have that feature. If you think you are new to travel maps then simply start to use map of your own city and see how they exhibit details about your known place, this will help you to get accustomed with map language and symbols. If you do not own a smart phone or tablet, simply buy a map from the tourist office of the place you visit.


Well, in this era of internet we all have friends spread over the globe. Get in touch online with some people from the place you wish to visit and discuss your plans briefly with them, see what have to say and suggest you.

In my journeys, all these steps have served me good enough to make my trips memorable; I hope these little points would help you to avoid paying to a travel agent. What you should keep in mind to explore a place in your own unique way is that
  1. Don’t take second hand suggestions. Copy pasted information is of no use. So, if someone is telling you long stories with no connection to your point of interest just chuck it.
  2. Don’t pile on information too much, leave a little scope for the unexpected and enjoy as your destination gradually starts to flaunt its true colors only for your eyes.
  3. Always keep your phone, internet connection and other communication tools charged because sometimes these miscellaneous expenditures can disturb your budget.
  4. keep asking your hotel staff and other people you get to interact with about local modes of transport that are safe and cheaper.

I hope you connect with your destination in your very own special way, so that it adds on to your stories for years to come.

P.S. I am not against an idea of taking help from a professional travel planner; if it suits your needs always go for it. the enjoyment is in the heart not in following a notion. 

by Prashant Rana

Friday, 22 February 2013

Gypsy by Default Soul

Since the childhood I have been amazed of this phenomenon, that how the time taken to reach back home feels always less than the time taken to reach the destination? While I was thinking this the jeep started to move downhill towards Vikasnagar. It was a regular ride with loud music and a local couple talking about their domestic life, with spectacular views of mountains and some waterfall appearing here and there in the cracks of rocks. The view was such that it easily took my attention away from the loud speakers of our jeep and the lady who was talking over phone in an even louder volume.

Everything was going as expected; we planned to reach Dehradun by the afternoon so that we could be at home before the date could change on calendar, and it was going smoothly on time though not too much on road. But nobody should forget the fact that expected is nothing on the road of life and that’s what happened.  A local passenger had to get off as his village had come and we spotted a small “Dhaaba” a local eating joint or restaurant to be precise right there. It didn’t take us long to imagine the feeling what a nice mug of hot tea or coffee would bring while standing at the edge and looking at those huge mountains and the river flowing at their feet.
We also got off the jeep the very next moment to realize our imagination, but the driver didn’t like it, because he would have earned more if we were to go till Vikasnagar. So compensate for that we paid him triple the amount of fair he usually takes to this place from chakrata.

After settling it all we grabbed our bags and started to just walk in silence and that’s the best part of nature its silence is musical, soothing to soul and refreshing to mind. Clicking photos and talking to local cowmen we reached the Dhaaba and ordered tea. Gradually a friendly conversation brewed up and it turned into a friendly gathering before one could even notice. The talks flew from the topics of local customs of the month of “Maagh” in which all the300 or so Jansari villages of the region on 11th of January, sacrifices a goat in every home and preserve its meat for the coming year and also distribute some part of it in their relatives as goodwill, to their business topics of how they started this Dhaaba etc. etc. The mug of tea got finished but the discussion seemed to be going on and on, it took a halt only when decided to have lunch there and placed our order. The staff got busy in preparing it and we got busy in wandering around on the road, in the deodars, and chasing Long-tailed Minivet birds.

Whenever I visit a place away from regular urban culture I often feel it that we still have hope against the global warming, pollution, population and all the other problems that we have created for the nature and yet we call that nature is changing. Anyways while our gypsy by default souls were wandering around we spotted a nice rock at the edge of a cliff in the very next moment we were making our way to it, struggling through narrow trails and shrubs while being vigilant about mischievous Macaques (Monkeys). And the sole purpose of this small uncalled for gesture was to sit there and be a part of what we cannot control but feel only.

“No wonder great saints climbed Himalayas to meditate and unfolded the philosophies of life” this was the only thing I could think when I reached that rock and sat on it, after that moment I was blank for some time as if I was the part of those big mountains, flowing breeze and river, of the songs that someone sung on the hill in front of us and part everything that was happening around. I felt like I was the part of the moment.

We don’t know how much time we spent sitting there silently but the changing shapes of shadows made us decide to trek back to our Dhaaba and have our lunch which was served with a friendly smile and was accompanied by nice talks and discussions. When through we grabbed our bags again and started to walk along the road to the point from where we were to ride a passenger jeep.  And while walking the point of discussion was how amazing it is that we always reach back home in lesser time than what it takes to reach the destination.

"by Prashant Rana"