7 European Countries to Visit that Are Off the Beaten Path

Europe tops the charts of continents with some of the most popular tourist destinations. Countries like Germany, France and Spain instantly pop to mind when you think of tourism in Europe. But do you know that there are lesser known European countries that are also great tourist destinations?

Most of these countries are small, or affected by adverse weather conditions, or have suffered terrible calamities in the past, but that doesn’t make them any less appealing as tourist destinations. Here are seven unique European countries you should seriously consider visiting:

Unique European Countries

  1. Estonia

Estonia, which once formed part of the Soviet Union, is now only beginning to attract the attention of tourists. Travelers are now appreciating the raw, unspoiled beauty that this country has to offer.

The country’s capital, Tallinn, is a must- visit whenever you are in the country. The Toompea Hills that surround it are some of the most scenic and climbing them can prove to be a great adventure.

The country is also blessed with many lush forests, particularly in Tartu, south of the country. Rocky beaches and beautiful lakes also form a vast part of the country’s water bodies. There are also lots of other attractions which make this country a great destination.

  1. Albania

Albania may be a small country, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. The long coastline and beautiful beaches are trademark attractions of the country.

Ottoman architecture also adds to the ancient beauty of the country. But what also sets Albania apart from other countries is its booming music culture. By visiting the country you will definitely enjoy yourself.

  1. Latvia

This little known country is also one you should aim at visiting. Each of its many towns has something unique to offer tourists.

Take for instance the somewhat small town of Kuldiga. It is acknowledged by visitors and locals alike as the country’s most romantic town.

You can also engage in various activities in this country, such as bob- sleighing. There are also various parks to visit such as the famous Gauja National Park.

  1. Armenia

Armenia boasts a rich history and a beautiful landscape. Its national symbol is Mt. Ararat, which is a much cherished natural feature in the country.

The country was the first to declare Christianity as it national religion. The mountain is particularly important as it is mentioned in the Bible. It is the mountain where Noah’s Ark landed.

The Yerevan City is a must- visit when you are in the country. Also, make a point of visiting the numerous beautiful monasteries that dot the country.

  1. Serbia

Serbia has something for everyone: whether you like having fun in cities or simply spending time in quiet rural areas. If your idea of a perfect destination is a city with a booming nightlife and a lot of music, then Belgrade, the country’s capital, is a must- visit for you.

Alternatively, you can also visit the lovely countryside for some peace and quiet. You should also explore the country’s various parks and fortresses: you will not be disappointed.

  1. Iceland

Given that it is almost always freezing in Iceland, you would be well advised to visit during summer. On the downside however, it is always extremely crowded during summer so you may not enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

There are a lot of attractions in Iceland. You can see the beautiful rugged landscape if you explore the interior of the country.

  1. Belarus

Belarus may not be on your bucket list of places to visit but it sure should be. This little known country is bursting with plenty of Mother Nature’s beauty.

The landlocked country has plenty of forests. In fact, they make up nearly 40% of the country. Visiting the various forests will give you a chance to see wildlife, even some rare animal species.

Minsk, the country’s capital, is also abounding with attractions. There are dancing lights and water fountains almost everywhere you go. You can also learn rich history lessons from the National Museum located in the capital.

Although these unusual European countries may not be riding a wave of popularity, they are still worth a visit. The next time you are looking for a European travel destination, pick any of them. You will not be disappointed because these countries offer an opportunity to discover the best of Europe.

Tips to Avoid Being Robbed While Traveling

Traveling can prove to be costly if you get robbed. You can lose a lot of expensive valuables at your destination simply because the locals are convinced that travelers are wealthy.

If you do not want to get robbed while traveling, then you must drop the habits and traits associated with tourists. You also need to be on the alert at all times. Constant vigilance is of utmost importance when in foreign places.

You should also follow a few basic tips to avoid being robbed when traveling. They include:

Tips to Avoid Getting Robbed

  1. Carry a Second Wallet

It is hard to know when pickpockets take your possessions, so you need to be smarter than them. One way to beat them at their own game is to always carry two wallets with you.

Put most of your cash in your main wallet, which you should then put in your backpack or other bag. Your second wallet should contain a little cash that you may need to spend urgently, old bank and credit cards and other unnecessary items. That way if the pickpocket picks you out for their victim, they will be in for a rude shock.

  1. Don’t Carry or Wear Expensive Things

If you don’t want to be singled out as a rich traveler, make sure to dress in ordinary clothes and to wear little if any jewelry. Standing out in expensive wear will sure get you some attention and this could be all a robber needs to attack you.

Also, don’t walk around showing off your expensive items. Only carry things that you really need when touring a place to avoid losing your possessions.

  1. Be Aware of Where You are Going

Since you are new to your destination, acknowledge that you don’t know it as well as you know your home town. You don’t know where the local gangs lay in wait for their prey or where other criminals linger. Be sure to ask your hotels what these places are and make sure to avoid them.

  1. Book a Room Not on the Ground Floor

Generally, lower floors on hotels are usually crowded. Most utilities are to be found there, and this provides a perfect place for robbers to mingle with the crowd. At all times, ask to be allocated a room on the higher floors where people other than occupants rarely go.

  1. Pretend to Have a Roommate

Lone travelers are also an easy target for robbers, so it is important to give the impression that you don’t stay alone in your room even if you do. Every time you walk into your room, pretend to greet someone. That will tell robbers to back off because you are not alone.

  1. Always Lock Your Doors From the Inside

This is without doubt the most important basic step towards ensuring your safety. Whether its room doors or car doors, always ensure you lock them from the inside. It will keep you safe from intruders.

  1. Don’t Get Drunk or Accept Rides from Strangers

Finally, always make plans to get to your hotel safe if you’re planning on getting drunk, or don’t get drunk at all. And also, be wary of strangers who want to take you places: they might take you to dangerous places.

If you follow these simple tips, you should avoid most trouble that tourists experience. Remember, constant vigilance!

7 Ways To Book Cheaper Airfares

It’s no secret that traveling can be expensive. These days, the majority of the money you save for a trip ends up going towards the flights you take more than anything else. For those who are traveling on a budget, these steep airfare prices can limit how much traveling you do and even force you to give up opportunities to explore the world.

Luckily, here are seven tips to help you book cheap airfare:

  1. Book As Far In Advance As Possible

When it comes to booking a flight, the sooner you can do it, the cheaper it’ll be. Generally, two weeks leading up to your flight is when you’ll see the biggest increase in price. Along with this, the further before that you buy your flight, the less expensive it will be.

Bottom-line, if you do have enough notice for a trip, don’t procrastinate on plane tickets–it’ll only end up costing you more.

  1. Be Flexible On Arrival/Departure Dates And Book The Cheapest Day

One of the first things you’ll notice about purchasing a plane ticket is variability. For example, it might cost you $350 to arrive at your destination on a Monday, but it might be $200 if you book that same flight to arrive on Tuesday.

One of the best methods you can employ to get cheap airfare is to plan your trip so you arrive and depart on the least expensive days possible–even if it means a shorter or longer stay.

  1. Consider Whether You Can Get Away Without Taking Checked Luggage

If you’re someone who likes to over-pack, this might be a tip worth listening to. Generally, a checked bag will cost you at least $25, and that price only increases with the more luggage you check.

If you can swing it, keeping everything in a free carry-on bag will save you a few bucks though it just might be a tighter fit.

  1. Fly Into Less Expensive Cities Then Take A Train To Your Destination

Typically, smaller cities that don’t have big airports or as many daily flights can be more expensive to fly into. Oftentimes, you’ll find that it’s actually cheaper to fly into a bigger city nearby and take a short train ride to your actual destination. It might take you a little longer to get there, but it could save you hundreds of dollars.

  1. Sign Up To The Promotional Newsletter Of The Airline You Fly With

Sometimes the best way to get cheap airfare comes directly through the airline itself. In their promotional newsletters, most airlines will offer special deals and discounts. If you’re a frequent traveler, this is definitely worth looking into.

  1. Choose The Cheapest Payment Method Available

Like dates, some airlines may have variability when it comes to payment method. If this is the case with your airline, it’s definitely worth taking a little more time and hassle to pay the cheapest way you can.

  1. Check The Cost of The Flight On Multiple Platforms Before Booking

One of the best things to do before booking a flight is to check its price on multiple websites–you’ll often find that some websites list the same flight for cheaper.

Nowadays, you don’t even need to go to the trouble of going to multiple airline sites individually as there are many websites out there that will compare prices for you.

When it comes to booking a flight, you don’t have to accept that steep price tag you see–these seven tips will guarantee you cheaper airfare for whatever trip you decide to take.

9 Insanely Dangerous Countries to Travel To

There are particular countries that are feared by many tourists. In fact there are some who swear that they simply can’t visit these destinations. Most such countries have one thing in common: they are plagued by some calamity of sorts.

War, terrorism, civil unrest and crime are all reasons why some countries belong to the tourist’s blacklist. Often, citizens in these countries are wallowing in dire poverty which increases their propensity to engage in crime so as to sustain their basic needs.

But most such countries also have a lot to offer travellers. Save for the safety concerns, there is a lot to see and learn from here. This is what makes them tempting and ideal for adventure seekers.

If you are only careful about the places you visit in these countries, you may end up having the experience of a lifetime.

Here are some of the most dangerous countries to travel to in the world, and what makes them viable destinations:

Dangerous Countries to Travel To

  1. Estonia

Estonia is as famous for its ancient structures as it is famous for crime. It is blesses by nature with beautiful scenery, great natural features and extremely clean water. Water sports are the order of the day in most Estonian tourist destinations.

What makes it dangerous are the high levels of crime in the country. The two greatest concerns for travellers should be pick pockets and getting robbed.

You should be wary of strangers who get too close to you. Also, be on the lookout for people who may be following you. There is no telling what they can do if they eventually corner you when you are alone and vulnerable.

  1. Iraq

Most people the world over associate Iraq with terrorism and extremism, and they are not wrong in their assumptions. Iraq is one of the most war torn countries in the world, and has been so for decades.

Given that the Iraqis are not particularly in good terms with Americans, American citizens have good reason to fear visiting the country. Why, there are some acts of violence that have been proven to be targeted at American travellers to Iraq.

  1. Afghanistan

Afghanistan map

This is yet another Asian country that has remained war- torn for ages. It is because of the unceasing war that the country’s economy is in ruins and the tourism industry is almost non- existent.

Taliban attacks and kidnapping are the order of the day in the country. The volatile political climate in the country is a real cause for concern for people who want to visit.

But all is not that gloomy. Although crime is rampant here, you might be relieved to learn that it rarely ever targeted specifically at tourists and if you stay in main population centers, rather than the outskirts you can increase your chances of travelling safely.

For the adventurous souls who aren’t afraid to explore places others won’t, Afghanistan has a lot to offer. The changing landscape in particular is very intriguing. Mountains, lakes, deserts- Afghanistan has it all.

  1. Yemen

Like Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism makes many afraid to visit Yemen. It is common to see armed groups strutting around in many parts of the country. This sight can inspire untold fear in the heart of any tourist.

But if you strain to see beyond the face of war that taints the country, you will realize that the Yemenis are a warm and friendly people with a vibrant culture. There is truly a lot one can learn about humanity and kindness from these resilient people who have gone through it all.

  1. Pakistan

Yet another country plagued by terrorism, Pakistan may not rank as a favorite destination for most people. Even sadder is the fact that sometimes these acts of terror are targeted at foreigners.

However, in the more peaceful parts of the country, you will get to experience the beauty of nature at its best. You can also engage in countless adventures and water sports.

  1. North Korea

This might not be a hotbed of terror, and neither is crime a concern for any tourists, but the lack of freedom that pervades this country is almost unbearable. This can be largely attributed to the lack of peace between North and South Korea.

You may not have to worry about your safety while here, but you have to put up with the lack of privacy accorded to foreigners. Basically your every move is watched and stepping out of line can have disastrous consequences.

  1. El Salvador

El Salvador’s beauty lies in the rich culture of its natives, the ancient ruins and the raw beauty that nature has endowed it with. Sounds like a perfect destination, doesn’t it? So why did it make it to this list?

The danger in visiting the country is the high crime rate. Kidnapping is quite common, as are organized gangs that walk around brandishing guns.

  1. Burkina Faso

This Western African country was one of the most peaceful countries in the region until recent times. Now, it features on the list of some of the most volatile and poorest countries in the continent.

Political unrest has robbed the country of what little it had in terms of financial prosperity. However, very few countries can boast a culture as rich and music as vibrant as this one does.

  1. Chad

Chad is often associated with the desert, which is no surprise since part of it forms the Sahara. Dry winds and sand are common place here. It is a haven for those who want to experience the beauty of desert life in all its goodness.

However, Boko Haram activities in the country have impeded tourism here. It is also common for tourists to get kidnapped in exchange for ransom.

Even though most of these countries may appear to be extremely dangerous, it can be extremely rewarding to visit them. You need to be vigilant and to ensure that you have a well-conversed tour guide in order to enjoy your trip. Additionally, make sure that you only visit parts of the country that are safe. For the daring souls that decide to visit these countries, stay safe!

How to Pack Lightly For Your Overseas Holiday

globe-in-hand

Packing is perhaps the most agonizing part of traveling. It is hard to decide what to carry and what to leave behind, especially if you are traveling somewhere for the first time.

Although indecision may dog you as you pack up your luggage, it is important that you travel as lightly as you possibly can. You certainly don’t want to be weighed down by baggage that is absolutely unnecessary. Here are a few tips to help you pack light when traveling:

How to Pack Lightly When Traveling

  1. Use a Small Suitcase

When you use a small suitcase or bag, you will be forced to pack as little as you can make do with. The lack of extra space means that you can only pack in the things you consider necessary.

If you choose a big suitcase, you will be very tempted to carry items that you may not need during your trip. Nothing feels half as bad as carrying heavy items half across the globe and not using them at all.

  1. Pack For Your Location

Your location should also determine what items you carry with you and those that you don’t. If you are going to a cold region, then simply pack warm clothes. There is no need to carry a sundress that you may never wear during your trip.

If you need certain protective wear for your journey, then be sure to include that in your suitcase as well. Just ensure that you carry what you will truly need.

  1. Don’t Carry Extra Clothes Just In Case

You cannot always be prepared for everything, even when you are traveling. If you only think about the things that could go wrong, you may end up packing a lot of things in preparation for your imagined calamities.

Just carry the clothes that you will need for the length of time you will spend in your destination. If the weather changes or you desperately need a particular type of clothing, you can always buy it at your destination.

  1. Pack Clothes that Serve a Dual Purpose

Another tip to help you pack lightly is to carry clothes that can be worn twice for different occasions. Jeans are particularly helpful in this respect, since they are quite versatile. You can wear them to different occasions without being inappropriately dressed.

  1. Only Bring Two Pairs of Shoes

Shoes can add unnecessary weight to your luggage, so you should carry as few of them as you can. In fact, try your ultimate best to carry only two pairs of shoes.

Two pairs of shoes are more than enough for a trip overseas. Just make sure than they are versatile and you can wear them to virtually anywhere.

  1. Don’t bring multiple devices

Another important way to save on space and weight is to carry just a few devices. Since you can pretty much do everything on your smartphone, why do you need to carry your laptop with you? Or even your tablet for that matter?

  1. Don’t Pack Heavy Books and Guides

You can also save on some space by not carrying books and guides. Why would you burden yourself when you can download eBooks and even guides to virtually any part of the world?

  1. Never Add after Weighing Your Bag

After you have finished packing, it is important that you weigh your bag. If you find that it’s heavier than it should be, remove some things. But if it is more on the lighter side, just leave it as it is.

Packing lightly is not an easy task. However, you will be immensely grateful if you don’t have to drag a heavy suitcase around with you. Follow the tips above on how to pack light and you will not regret it.