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Seven Can’t Miss 2016 Travel Destinations

Traveling the world is not just about seeing a destination, it’s also about experiencing the culture. One of the best ways to experience a place is by attending a local festival or event. 2016 is full of international events, both large and small. From high profile events like the Olympics Games, to lesser known festivals like the International Festival in the Sahara, we’ve compiled our favorite events and destinations to experience for 2016.

2016 travel

So get your bags packed and cameras ready, here are the seven can’t miss destinations for 2016 travel.

Thailand
By far, one of the more playful festivals to experience this year is the Songkran Water Festival, which takes place all over Thailand in April. Songkran marks the beginning of the new year in Thailand, and is also the start of the summer season. Revelers traditionally celebrate the festival by splashing water on each other as a way to wish each other a year full of blessings. Bangkok has one of the largest celebrations of Songkran, but other cities such as Chiang Mai also have pretty big celebrations.

2016 travel

France
France has always been a destination on many travelers’ list. This year, it’s also the destination for the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament, also known as the Euro Cup, which will take place in June. In addition to Paris, matches will take place in cities like Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, and Marseille. Even if you’re not planning on attending any of the football matches, there’s always a good reason to visit France and explore this beautiful country.

2016 travel

Pamplona, Spain
Every year in July, the city of Pamplona comes together for the eight day festival of Saint Fermin. Although the most famous event of festival is the Running of the Bulls, the festival of Saint Fermin has plenty of other events worth checking out. The city of Pamplona itself is also worth exploring, as it has several Roman ruins as well as ruins dating back to the early Middle Ages.

2016 travel

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Besides being the site of this year’s Olympic Games in August, Rio de Janeiro has always been known for its beaches, music scene, and Carnival, the city-wide celebration just before Lent. This seaside city in Brazil has a lot to offer its visitors, from high end upscale resorts to down-to-earth hotels. These days, Rio has also become a gathering point for LGBT travelers, who number over one million each year.

2016 travel

Albuquerque, New Mexico
The annual International Balloon Fiesta is a perfect excuse to visit the city of Albuquerque. Held every year in early October, the balloon fiesta showcases hot air balloons from all over the world, and provides a colorful addition to the already stunning background of the area’s mountainous landscape. Albuquerque itself is rich with Southwestern culture, and some of the nearby cities like Santa Fe or Taos are also worth visiting.

2016 travel

Mexico
For a deeper taste of Mexican culture, head south of the border to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead. Considered a national holiday in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a day to honor the deceased. This holiday is celebrated around the days of October 31 to November 2, and is characterized by the colorful sugar skulls and bountiful food that is served during this time.

2016 travel

Douz, Tunisia
The final event to cap off the year is the International Festival of the Sahara, which takes place in November in Douz, Tunisia. This festival began in 1910 and is a four day celebration of Bedouin culture. The event attracts over 50,000 people, with more and more Westerners attending each year. The highlight of the festival is the camel race, but there are also music and dancing, as well as a Bedouin marriage ceremony, all set within the backdrop of the desert sand dunes.

2016 travel

These are our top 2016 travel destinations and events to check out. To see what LeafCanoers have to say about these destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Inside Washington: Unique DC Attractions

The city of Washington, DC is a treasure trove of history and culture. LeafCanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently visited the city and shared his experiences in his leaf, “Washington DC – In A Day!” The capitol city of the United States, DC is home to well-known attractions like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and even the Vietnam Memorial. Many visitors know about the free Smithsonian Museums, like the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum. And places like the National Zoo and Arlington National Cemetery are common stops for visitors to the city. But there are also a number of unique DC attractions that every visitor should see, to really get a feel for the city. Here are our picks for exploring a different side of DC.

Washington monument

Ben’s Chili Bowl
A longtime institution in DC is Ben’s Chili Bowl, which has been serving up soulful chili since 1958. Located on U Street, Ben’s Chili Bowl has served everyone from foreign dignitaries and the President, to the everyday person off the street. Ben’s Chili Bowl is a great starting off point for exploring the rest of U Street and its surroundings, which was once a hot spot for jazz legends like Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington. The area surrounding Ben’s Chili Bowl and U Street was also once the cultural center of DC’s African American community, and is still a great place to catch a music show.

C&O Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, known as the C&O Canal, runs from DC’s Georgetown neighborhood all the way into parts of West Virginia and Maryland. Once intended to connect Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River, the C&O Canal was never fully finished. But it did serve as a transporter of coal from the Allegheny Mountains into Washington, DC. Visitors can walk or bike along the canal, and explore the old buildings of Georgetown.

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Gravelly Point Park
For those wanting a more exhilarating experience, Gravelly Point Park, along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is a popular spot to explore. Here, visitors and locals alike can experience the rush of watching jet planes take off and land from DC’s Reagan National Airport, located right next to the park.

Mount Vernon
For another unique and historic attraction, spend the day in Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington. Located 17 miles south of DC, Mount Vernon is an expansive estate that has been well-preserved and well-maintained. Visitors can take a tour of its grounds any time of the year, and catch a glimpse of what life was like for America’s first president.

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Ford’s Theatre
DC is also full of lesser known historical sites. One such site is Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Visitors to Ford’s Theatre can take a guided tour of the still functioning theater, and learn about its significance in American history. They can also stay to watch one of their many entertaining theatrical performances.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
The city of Washington, DC has many parks and green spaces for relaxing and exploring. Roosevelt Island, located along the Potomac River, below the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge on Highway 66, is the perfect place for an urban retreat. The island is accessible by foot from the Mount Vernon Trail, just off of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The 88.5 acre island, which is considered a national park, has a number of trails for visitors to walk, jog, or run through, and is home to a variety of wild birds. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities on the island during the summer time.

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These are just a few of our picks for unique DC attractions. The city is overflowing with places to see and things to do, and it’s impossible to fit into one single list. Even locals who have lived in the city for years haven’t seen it all! For more ideas of what to see and do in Washington, DC, read more of searchingforyourzen’s leaf, or download the LeafCanoe app for more travel ideas.

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Visit 50+ cities in US: A 3 Month American Road Trip in Action

There is something exhilarating about a road trip. No matter where you go in the world, traveling across a country brings with it a sense of freedom and excitement, coupled with the uncertainty of exploring the unknown. One of the best countries to road trip through is the United States. With its mix of interstate freeways and state highways, and an abundance of attractions from the kitschy to the breathtaking, an American road trip is certainly something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

We recently met up with travel blogger and LeafCanoer, Dan McElroy, who runs the travel blog, Searching For Your Zen. Having spent the last two years backpacking through Europe, teaching English in China, and traveling through Asia, Dan is currently on an American road trip. We sat down with Dan to talk about his travels, his blog, and his tips for doing an American road trip.

What’s the meaning behind “Searching For Your Zen”?
“Searching For Your Zen” was the result of a quarter-life crisis. I had just jumped into the “Corporate World” of the US with aspirations of climbing the ladder and being successful. When I lost my job unexpectedly and with no warning I was forced to re-consider my life and my own definition of “success.” After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change in my life. I was tired of chasing society’s dream and decided I wanted to travel. It was in the moments leading up to a solo 3 month trip to Europe that I started “Searching For Your Zen“. I was on a new adventure in life and my only goal was to be happy again.

What do you look for when you travel?
My ideological answer to that question is, “I’m searching for that place where time ceases to exist.”

In other words, I am looking for those moments in life that are so engrossing that nothing else matters. Those moments when time seems to slow down and life just seems simple for a moment. For me, I find those moments most often when I’m wearing a backpack in a foreign country and meeting strangers in hostels. People have a funny way of becoming their “best self” on the road and that is ultimately what I’m looking for. I want to be my best self and I seem to run into him more often while traveling.

What’s your American road trip goal?
Jess (my girlfriend), Barney (her dog) and myself are hoping to see the US as it was meant to be seen. This country is huge and it seems to demand a slower pace to truly experience it. Like anywhere, the US is just as much about the people is it is about the sites. We want to see the famous sites and we will, but in the meantime we’re talking to people from all over and hoping to get a glimpse into their lives. Our goal isn’t just to see the US, but to actually experience some of the sub-cultures.

What has been your favorite travel memory so far in US?
We are only 2 weeks into the road trip so far, but our favorite experience was when we spent a couple nights on a farm outside of Missoula, Montana. We used CouchSurfing.com and “surfed” with some really cool people! In the mornings we helped out a bit around the farm and then we went swimming and boating in the afternoons. It was a great experience and we met some really good people out there. Montanans are super friendly and the scenery in the entire state was incredible to experience first-hand.

What leafs can we expect next from you?
Because we started our road trip in Montana and Wyoming, we have front-loaded our road trip with national parks! As a result, my first 2 leafs were about Glacier & Yellowstone. In the future though, I would like to cast light on some of those places that don’t always get as much attention, cities and towns with unknown adventures and excitement! I’m more of a city-guy than a country-guy, so the next couple leafs will move from the country and focus on some of America’s greatest cities!

In the end, I am an adventure traveler on a budget. I am always looking for adventure and when I find it, I will share my experiences (along with some budget-saving tips as well).

Yellowstone

Travelers like Dan and Jess are not the first to go on an American road trip. And they certainly won’t be the last. The allure of the road will always call to travelers, and for good reason. From the amazing sights you see to the interesting people you meet along your journey, embarking on a road trip continues to be one of the best ways to experience a country.

To follow Dan’s leafs and for more road trip ideas and inspiration, download the LeafCanoe app.

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