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How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel

How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel

Instead of just sitting on some tropical beach and sipping pina coladas during your vacations, it is very possible to get a ton of personal growth from your travels. But in order to do this, you will have to get off those all-inclusive beach resorts and five-star hotels. Although there might be some exceptions, most of these resorts will be too comfortable — unless there are some attractions nearby that offer some type of personal growth opportunities.

Even so, the reality is that the majority of tourists who stay at all-inclusive resorts will never go off site during their entire vacations. If you want to go to the most rewarding travel destinations offering the most personal growth, you have to steer clear of the places that are too “touristy” and aimed for the masses. You have to find less-traveled locations where you may not have the comforts and conveniences of luxury travel.

Direct Interaction With The Locals

One of the best travel experiences comes from direct interaction with the locals. Many Canadians and Europeans have been vacationing in Cuba for years and despite the US travel embargo, there are American tourists who travel there with official special permission as well — and by using other indirect routes from time to time.

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As expected, the vast majority of tourists stay at new all-inclusive beach resorts. The only Cubans they will see during their entire stay are the resort staff and those at the airport. These tourists will never leave the resorts to see the real lives of Cubans in their own local communities.

When I was down there, I chose to stay for part of my trip at a casa particular. These are rooms at homes that average Cubans rent out to travelers. I ended up getting a full apartment in Havana. Although it was not a five-star luxury suite, it was clean, safe and comfortable.

Instead of eating at tourist restaurants, the family who owned the casa particular prepared home-cooked meals for me. Through my rusty, basic Spanish, I got to interact with the family and see how average Cubans really live. They told me about Cuban life while I entertained them with some facts about life in my own country, Canada (especially our winters).

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The personal growth I got out of this interaction with the family was priceless. One just cannot get this by staying at a five-star resort. Not to mention that staying at a casa particular with the home-cooked meals was actually less than 50% of the cost of staying at the resorts and hotels. I was providing some much needed income for the Cuban family as well, which made it even more worthwhile.

Get Further Away From Tourist Spots

During this same trip, I also decided to venture out further. I got private transportation and traveled five hours west of Havana to a remote location that was a recognized biosphere called Maria La Gorda. Here, I scuba dived in pristine waters untouched by the tourist crowds. Sure, the transit was a bit rough, but going to places like this really broadened my horizons.

The trip along the way was also an experience in itself as I got to interact with my local Cuban taxi driver one-on-one for the entire ride. He pointed out interesting things along the way, told me about Cuban baseball, discussed classic American cars that are still running on the island and how his family dealt with hurricanes.

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You just can’t get any of these experiences by staying at an all-inclusive resort.

Do Your Advance Travel Research

Of course, instead of having everything catered to you as in an all-inclusive resort, you have to figure out where to stay, where to eat, where to travel and how to get around and some safety precautions. All of such information is available if you spend enough time doing advance travel research.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of information that you can access online via travel forums, travel reports and even social media including YouTube (I uploaded a few Cuban travel videos you can search there as my contribution). You can also get information from travel agencies that deal with adventure or specialized travel and from consulates from destination countries.

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Travel away from the tourist resorts does take more planning and you may have to rough it out a bit. I have taken similar trips in Asia, Central America and Europe. But the direct interaction and connections you make with people from other cultures as well as experiencing special destinations that the tourist masses will never see, make such travel incredibly worthwhile.

If you have or plan to travel to special places to broaden your horizons as well, please feel free to share below.

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Last Updated on December 13, 2018

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast, and lots of people not only tend to ruin their usual diets, but they also gain a few extra pounds. Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that starts at the Thanksgiving Day and ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

A lot of individuals out there tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays since they believe that they do not have enough time to perform their workouts. And because they feel guilty after the holiday season, most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. If you want to stay fit during the holiday season, especially during Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, here are some useful tips that might help you:

1. Eat Before Heading Out

First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. Skipping on meals is not a good idea either, because you will only be forced to eat more later.

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2. Select The Treats

Make sure to select the treats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time.

3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the treats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

4. Drink With Moderation

It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten!

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5. Be Active

You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away from the store or just use the stairs!

6. Get Out Of The House

Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved. Even a snowball fight in the backyard will burn a lot of calories and will keep the children entertained.

7. Don’t Skip Your Strength Workouts

Always remember to perform your strength training in order to maintain that muscle mass you worked hard to get. You might be tempted to use lightweights and just do some cardio, but you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights. And with all of those extra stakes you had on the holiday meals, you might even gain some extra muscle. And this is much better than gaining some extra fat.

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8. Set Realistic Goals

You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

9. Enjoy Yourself

Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions.

10. Drink A Lot Of Water

This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

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11. Eat Less And More Often

Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once.  Instead of having 2 enormous meals, have 5 small ones.  Eat your dinner earlier and have a nice walk before going to bed.

12. Prioritize Your Workouts

Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…”

So there you go! Twelve simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the winter holidays, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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