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The Most Underrated Places in the World

The Most Underrated Places in the World

Traveling is one of the most fun things you can do. You get to explore new places, meet new people, and experience different cultures. Best of all, you get a break from your regular life! But instead of visiting the same places as usual, or being caught up in a tourist trap, check out some of the most underrated places in the world.

1. Bolivia

bolivia
    Even though Bolivia is near the equator, there is still diversity in its climate, which means you can experience many different things as you travel from the Andes Mountains to the country’s portion of the Amazon basin. Indigenous people make up 80 percent of Bolivia’s population, which means there is still a strong sense of culture. A variety of festivals are celebrated, and it’s easy to find traditional food and listen to traditional songs and stories. The history is still very much alive as well, so while you’re there you’ll get a good overview of the country’s past and how it has changed. Bolivia has the most preserved land in terms of forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes. This makes the views even more spectacular, and you can hike the mountain trails or go on safaris. Best of all, traveling to and within Bolivia is very affordable – you’ll spend about a third as much as you would traveling in the United States!

    2. Sao Paulo, Brazil

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    brazil

      If you want to explore a monster of a foreign city, check out Sao Paulo – with over 20 million residents, it’s the third largest metropolis on earth! The city is known for its food, markets, architecture, and museums – not to mention it’s pulsing nightlife. The city is spread out so it’s hard to stay in just one area to do all you want, but Sao Paulo boasts 30 kilometers of car-free bike paths to make getting around a little easier. Hundreds of different ethnic groups call Sao Paulo home, including the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, so you’ll have no problem finding a variety of cultures to explore to enrich your time in the city. Regardless of your interests, make sure you visit a few of the city’s 150 museums and cultural centers, 420 experimental theaters, and 12,500 (yes, really!) restaurants that serve over 52 different cuisines. Oh, and the nightlife I mentioned? There are over 15,000 places! The city stays awake around the clock, so you’ll certainly find things to do.

      3. Zhangjiajie, China

      Zhangjiajie

        Zhangjiajie is a national park in the Hunan province of south-central China. Three ethnic groups make up 70% of the local population, so there is still a lot of traditional culture to explore, including language, festivals, clothing, and architecture. The locals are very friendly and love sharing their history with tourists, which makes this park a favorite place to visit. Because it is in a subtropical climate, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has a unique “micro climate of forest,” meaning it is cool in summer and warm in winter. There are gorgeous lakes, streams, and waterfalls, along with a wide variety of rare species of animals. Fun fact: a mountain peak here was the inspiration for the visual setting of the world of Pandora in the movie “Avatar”!

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        4. Iceland

        iceland

          Iceland isn’t as far away as you might think – just a five-hour flight from major cities in the northeast US. As a bonus, Icelandair offers you a layover in Iceland on your way to other cities in Europe, which means you can get two trips in one! As far as what to do while you’re there, you’ll have a lot to cram in. You can visit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. It’s naturally heated water where you can bathe and indulge in massage treatments. If you time your visit right, you’ll have a great view of the Northern Lights, also called Aurora Borealis. There are a lot of museums about Icelandic history, including the Vikings. If you prefer the city life, you can visit Reykjavik, the capital city, which has a great nightlife, shops, good food, and a big arts and music scene. As a bonus, everyone in Iceland speaks English, so you’ll have a bit of an easier time getting help and information with anything else you might need.

          5. The Philippines

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          Philippines-beaches-Boracay

            The Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world, with over 7,000 islands. You know what this means? Beaches! Gorgeous beaches with white sand overlooking turquoise waters. These beaches often make a variety of “Top 10 Beaches” lists. There are a lot of rare species of animals in the Philippines, not to mention beautiful nature scenes like waterfalls, lakes, and caves. You can even see Taal, the world’s smallest volcano! The temperature is always even and comfortable, so you won’t have to worry about packing for extreme temperatures, or even layers for changes from day to night. And if you love shopping, the islands boast some of the largest malls in the world. They don’t just have chain stores, either – the Philippines are known for their handicrafts.

            6. Albania

            albania

              Albania is quickly building itself up as a tourist destination after a checkered history of dictatorship and riots, so it’s a good idea to visit now, before it gets so popular you’ll feel overcrowded. While it’s being built up, the exchange rate between its currency, the lek, and American money is the best it can be – less than one cent! That means a hotel room overlooking the beach that costs 1,800 lek is actually less than $17! Your money will go so much further in Albania that you’ll get to see and do it all. You’ll want to spend most of your time relaxing on Albania’s 362 kilometers of coastline, which stretches through the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Some areas near the beaches are isolated, but if you like a busier scene, then you can find some coastal cities with hotels and restaurants along the sand. The cities have great museums, and also some of the best cafés and bars on tree-lined streets with outside patios, so you can enjoy the view. Though it has great beaches, the country is known for gorgeous mountain ranges you’ll want to photograph, along with historic castles and ruins that aren’t even roped off – climb in and explore!

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              7. Sierra Leone

              freetown

                Sierra Leone was known in the 1990s for having a decade-long civil war, but peace was declared in 2002 and the country is now is one of West Africa’s safest destinations. It has great beaches lined with palm trees, or you can visit Outamba-Kilmi National Park to see some amazing wildlife. You can visit an assortment of island groups, like the Turtle Islands or Banana Islands, or the Gola Forest Reserve, located in a rainforest tract. Check out Mt. Bintumani, the highest peak at 1,945 meters, for an amazing view from the summit. If you’re craving the nightlife, check out Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

                8. Mozambique

                Mozambique

                  Are you tired of hearing about beaches yet? I hope not, because Mozambique boasts over 2,500 kilometers of spectacular, secluded beaches, as well as clear dive sites to see rare marine life while snorkeling and scuba diving. There are also channels along the coast that offer some of the best fishing for marlin and sail fish. Mozambique is known for its traditional music and arts, which depict the struggle for independence as well as traditional beliefs. As far as Mozambique’s history goes, you’ll want to learn about their decades-long civil war and struggles with pirates, slaves, and gold and ivory hunters. Make sure you have time for some good meals, too – Mozambique has some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever find!

                  Featured photo credit: fdecomite via flickr.com

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                  Last Updated on July 8, 2020

                  18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                  18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                  The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

                  1. Understand Yourself Better

                  Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

                  Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

                  2. Keep Track of Small Changes

                  I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

                  Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

                  3. Become Aware of What Matters

                  As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

                  You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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                  4. Boost Creativity

                  The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

                  When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

                  You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

                  5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

                  A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

                  Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

                  6. Process Life Experiences

                  When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

                  Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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                  7. Stress Relief

                  In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

                  Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

                  8. Provide Direction

                  Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

                  One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

                  9. Solve Problems

                  Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

                  Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

                  When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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                  10. Find Relief From Fighting

                  Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

                  Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

                  11. Find Meaning in Life

                  Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

                  12. Allow Yourself to Focus

                  Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

                  13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

                  When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

                  14. Let the Past Go

                  I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

                  15. Allow Freedom

                  Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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                  16. Enhance Your Career

                  Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

                  Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

                  17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

                  All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

                  18. Catalog Your Life for Others

                  No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

                  We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

                  Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

                  Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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