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10 Places to Travel for the Holidays

10 Places to Travel for the Holidays

The holidays are almost here, and it’s the perfect chance to get away. Whether you want to spend your holiday break lying on a sandy beach, skiing down some of the world’s best snow, or exposing yourself and your family to a new culture, here is a list of 10 must-see travel destinations.

Nara, Japan — Wakakusa Yamayaki

Nara

    Japan is a gorgeous country full of cultural exploration, but around the holiday season there is an event you shouldn’t miss out on–Wakakusa Yamayaki. This spectacular Japanese festival involves monks from two religions–Buddhism and Shintoism–setting fire to a mountain after fireworks displays and religious rituals at their respective shrines. The history behind the festival involves an ancient boundary dispute, but this has been long resolved, and the festival is a way to commemorate that occasion. The fires the monks set are more of a controlled burn than a raging inferno. However, the image of the greater part of a mountain on fire from a distance is not one you’ll soon forget. The Wakakusa Yamayaki takes place in Nara, Japan on January 23, 2016.

    Bahia, Brazil — Mareh Festival

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    Bahi

      For New Year’s Eve, what could be better than being on a serene private beach on an island off the coast of Brazil’s Bahia state for beach bar fetes and day-long parties that run for almost 10 days in their entirety? The Mareh Festival features some of today’s hottest performers and entertainers in an exotic location with crystal-clear water and open beaches. Boats offshore host their own private parties, with international DJs and musical acts in abundance. The festival runs from December 26 to January 3 on the Boipeba island of Bahia and includes festive New Year’s Eve celebrations. What better way is there to ring in the new year?

      Park City, Utah, USA — Sundance Film Festival

      Sundance

        From January 21-31, 2016, Hollywood takes over Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival as movie stars and producers rub shoulders with the downhill ski crowd and screenings compete with local scenery for the attention of the world’s press. You don’t have to be a film junkie to be invited; the slopes of the nearby Mountain and Canyon Resorts will keep you occupied just as much as the movies (if not more so). Be sure to get tickets for major screenings as far in advance as possible, and don’t forget your skis!

        Playa del Carmen, Mexico — BPM Festival

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        DSCF4412

          Packing 375 musicians into 10 days isn’t easy, but if you need to blow off some steam in early January–January 8-17 to be exact–you should head for this coastal resort near Cancun on Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast on the Caribbean. From beachfront blowouts to hot club nights, this festival is large and raucous. Besides attending performances, you can also swim with dolphins, snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, visit Mayan ruins and archeological sites or just lay on the beach and soak up the sun.

          Rajasthan, India — Magnetic Fields

          India

            In the historical and decadent 10-acre palace of Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan, India, the Magnetic Fields event will host Indian and international musicians from December 18-20. The amazingly-preserved Alsisar palace and grounds, which recall another time, have been fashioned into a luxury hotel, featuring courtyards and outdoor garden areas. Eventgoers have the opportunity to camp out on the grounds in bedouin-style luxury tents, each suited for up to three guests. Alternatively, attendees can pitch their own tents and sip from a selection of the finest Indian teas.

            Sydney, Australia — The Sydney Arts Festival

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            Sydney

              Australia always sounds like a good idea, but if it’s not incentive enough then you must go for the Sydney Arts Festival. This three-week arts festival is the site of symphonic performances, outdoor movie screenings, and live film music orchestra. The Sydney Festival, which runs from January 7-26, features music, theater and dance, opera and classical music, circus and cabaret as well as family events. Many performances take place in waterfront parks or public theaters; some are free. Sydney’s hottest months are December and January, so be sure to pack light.

              Miami, Florida — Holy Ship!

              Ship

                This four-day cruise featuring 40+ electronic music acts on the 4,000-passenger ship MSC Divina is a sun-filled excursion to nowhere–well, almost. Technically, the ship docks in the Bahamas, and some people disembark to go to a private island, but otherwise, the main action is aboard the ship. Performers will improvise sets in rooms, lounges and just about anywhere they can find a space and an audience. Because of the cruise’s popularity, Holy Ship! takes place twice; the first cruise is January 3-6, 2016, and the second one is February 10-13, 2016.

                Miami Florida — Jam Cruise

                As opposed to Holy Ship!, above, Jam Cruise is a happy-go-lucky, laid-back affair where 3,000 revelers sail off into the Caribbean sunset enjoying jam-band music and partaking in easygoing revelry. There are shipboard casinos, restaurants, yoga classes, and–of course–musical shows. Along the way, Jam Cruise makes stops in Mexico and Honduras, and you can disembark to do some local exploring. Jam Cruise sets sail from January 6-11, 2016.

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                Saalbach, Austria — Rave on Snow

                Austria

                  From December 10-13, 2015 the villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm in Austria are the site of Rave on Snow, which features international DJs and performers from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The celebration’s Gipfel Party happens on the peak of Schattberg Mountain, over 2,000 meters above sea level. During the day there are over 200 kilometers of ski and snowboard runs to explore, and at night the entire village becomes a vibrant festival area surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

                  Reykjavik, Iceland — Sónar Festival

                  iceland

                    The Sónar Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland takes place from February 18-20 and features over 50 noted international performers. Sónar Reykjavik is a satellite festival of the main music, technology and creativity festival of the same name, which takes place in Barcelona, Spain in June. For Sónar Reykjavik, there will be five stages and a capacity for more than 3,500 guests. At least some of the festival will take place underground as well as in the country’s most avant-garde large music venue, the Harpa Concert House.

                    Featured photo credit: Hinterglemm village seen from Zwölferkogelbahn lift, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria/MattiPaavola via en.wikipedia.org

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                    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                    Video Summary

                    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                    One Exercise, multiple benefits

                    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                            5. You’ll improve overall balance

                              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                  How to hold a plank position

                                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                    • Prolapse
                                    • After prolapse surgery
                                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                    • Previous childbirth
                                    • Overweight

                                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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