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10 of the Best Backpacking Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List

10 of the Best Backpacking Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List

If there’s one thing backpackers love more than traveling on the cheap, it’s adventure. We have compiled ten of the world’s most beautiful backpacking destinations that are relatively affordable, but also provide ample opportunity for exploring the great outdoors and undertaking one-of-a-kind adventures.

1. Australia

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    Although Australia is anything but cheap, working holiday visas are easy to obtain and will allow you to see more of the country than a regular tourist visa would. Many backpackers pick up odd jobs like bar tending or fruit picking while travelling so they can enjoy the country’s notorious surf spots and nightlife without worrying too much about money. Australia is also a top destination for adventure travel and could be a great place to give skydiving, white water rafting, or deep sea fishing a go for the first time.

    2. Peru

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      Peru is famous for the ancient city of Machu Picchu, but even if you don’t want to shell out $600 or more for a 4-day trek, there are still plenty of other reasons to visit. The landscape is amazingly diverse, with everything from snow-capped mountains to lush Amazonian jungles, impressive canyons, and laid-back beaches where you can surf or just hang out while enjoying a couple of pisco sours.

      3. Ethiopia

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        Ethiopia is often overlooked by backpackers due to its history of political instability, which is a shame considering the country’s affordability and unique culture (as one of the only countries in Africa that was never truly colonized). Some of the highlights for travelers in Ethiopia include the ancient walled city of Harar, the spectacular Blue Nile Falls, and the Danakil depression (where you can see hot springs and volcanoes as well as sulphur and mineral salt formations).

        4. Croatia

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          Croatia is known for its luxurious coastline. While it’s not as cheap as some other Eastern European countries, it’s still more affordable than the Euro Zone, especially if you avoid peak season from July to September. Aside from sun and sea, Croatia has a rich culture and history, as evidenced by the well-preserved medieval city of Dubrovnik. You can get a taste of the wild by visiting national parks like Plitvice Lakes and Krka.

          5. Philippines

          Photo by Adrian Simionov

            The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands. Although it’s not as well-known as some Southeast Asian destinations, it’s well worth a visit. There are over 30 volcanoes, a tropical rain forest, Spanish colonial architecture, and some of the world’s most beautiful rice terraces. The fact that many Filipinos speak English will also make it easier for you to get around and make new friends along the way.

            6. Madagascar

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              Madagascar is one of the largest islands in the world. This beautiful place is surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. The island is well-worth visiting if you’re a nature lover, as over 80% of its animal and plant life is unique to the country and can’t be found anywhere else. Aside from the spectacular rainforest and wildlife reserves, you won’t want to miss Avenue de Baobab, which is lined with hundreds of meters of magnificent 800-year-old Baobab trees.

              7. Thailand

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                Aside from being super cheap and convenient for travelers, Thailand is brimming with natural beauty, wildlife, and culture. Although some of its islands have become overrun in recent years, there are still plenty of off-the-beaten-track places to explore, especially in the north of Thailand. Try wilderness trekking in the mountains of Chiang Mai, where you can visit impressive temples, palaces, and floating markets or take a scenic boat ride along the Mekong River.

                8. Bolivia

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                  Bolivia is one of the most affordable backpacking destinations in South America, but that’s certainly not the only reason to add it to your bucket list. Bolivia also has the highest percentage of indigenous peoples in South America. The capital of La Paz boasts the world’s highest and longest urban cable car system, which is a great way to see the city while avoiding the hoards of traffic below. A few other things you won’t want to miss include the salt flats or Salar de Uyuni where you can spend a night in a hotel made entirely of salt, and the high altitude lake of Titicaca, which is lined with ancient Inca ruins.

                  9. India

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                    India’s low cost of living has made it one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the world, attracting more than six million people each year who are looking for everything from a month of cheap partying to spiritual enlightenment. Goa is well-known for its gorgeous beaches and vibrant nightlife. However, if you’re up for something more adventurous you can explore the limestone caves of Meghalaya, go skiing in Kashmir, or try river rafting in Himachal.

                    10. Morocco

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                      Morocco has a similar feel to Mediterranean countries like Greece and Italy. This beautiful destination has gnarled olive trees and a dazzling coastline. It is also distinctly North African with its Islamic architecture, fragrant spice markets, and rooftop terraces. Trains in Morocco are cheap and reliable, making it easy to get from place to place. You won’t want to miss seeing the blue streets of Chefchaouen or visiting the brightly colored dunes of Erg Chebbi at sunrise or sunset.

                      Featured photo credit: Picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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                      Marianne Stenger

                      Writer, Open Colleges

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                      Last Updated on November 11, 2019

                      How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                      How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                      Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

                      To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

                      Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

                      1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

                      Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

                      Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

                      To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                      2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

                      Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

                      If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

                      Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

                      3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

                      Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

                      Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

                      4. Feed Your Brain

                      Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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                      This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

                      Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

                      Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

                      5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

                      According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

                      Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

                      Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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                      6. Write it Down

                      If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

                      It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

                      You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

                      7. Listen to Music

                      Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

                      8. Visual Concepts

                      In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

                      Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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                      Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

                      9. Teach Someone Else

                      Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

                      Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

                      10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

                      Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

                      So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

                      Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

                      More About Boosting Memory

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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