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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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Ten Places for Exploring the Galapagos Islands

Off the coast of Ecuador, scattered along the Equator, lie one of the most famous islands in natural history. The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands 906 kilometers west of Ecuador, was made famous by Charles Darwin, who spent years recording the animals living on the islands. These days, the Galapagos Islands have become a favorite destination for travelers who enjoy wildlife. Various species of mammals, reptiles, and birds live on the Galapagos Islands, with each island containing distinctive species. Leafcanoer, Daijie, recently shared her experience exploring the Galapagos Islands in her leaf titled, “Explore Southern Islands of Galapagos On Boat”.

As many travelers to the Galapagos Islands can attest, there are many great locations to visit on a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Below is a list of ten places that are perfect for exploring the Galapagos Islands.

North Seymour Island
With an area of 1.9 square kilometers, North Seymour Island is relatively small, but is a great place to see birds. In particular, this island is home to the blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as frigatebirds. You can also see sea lions, who love to spend their time lounging around the island.

North Seymour Island - Exploring the Galapagos Islands

Tortuga Bay
Located on the island of Santa Cruz, Tortuga Bay is famous for its white sand beaches. Popular activities to do in this area include surfing on the beach or snorkeling around the nearby lagoons.

Las Loberias
Las Loberias is also a popular spot to see sea lions. On the island of San Cristobal, Las Loberias reportedly has some of the best snorkeling in the Galapoagos Islands.

Charles Darwin Research Station
For those interested in biological research, the Charles Darwin Research Station is an excellent place to start that exploration. Operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the research station continues to engage in scientific research and environmental education.

Darwin Station - Exploring the Galapagos Islands

Las Tintoreras
Another popular snorkeling location is Las Tintoreras. Here, snorkelers can see and swim with Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, and even sea turtles.

Sierra Negra
A large shield volcano located at the southern part of Isabela island, Sierra Negra is a well-visited destination for travelers to the Galapagos Islands. Even though Sierra Negra is an active volcano, guided tours are continually offered on a regular basis.

Cerro Bruijo
The beach at Cerro Bruijo is considered to be one of the nicest beaches in the Galapagos Islands. Like other parts of the islands, snorkeling is a common activity at Cerro Bruijo, and behind the beach is a lagoon where visitors can find egrets and blue herons.

Cerro Bruijo

Campo Duro
A safari camp located near Sierra Negra, Campo Duro focuses on eco-tourism and conservation. Campo Duro is also a nice place to see giant tortoises, who have a preserve located nearby.

Las Grietas
In Spanish, the word “grieta” means crevasse or crack. A popular activity to do at Las Grietas is to go swimming in the cool ocean water, surrounded by the tall cliffs of the island.

Leon Dormido
One of the most prominent landmarks in the Galapagos Islands is Leon Dormido, known as Kicker Rock in English. Leon Dormido consists of volcanic rocks formed into tall towers. It is located off the coast of Isla de San Cristobal.

Leon Dormido - Exploring the Galapagos Islands

These ten places for exploring the Galapagos Islands are an excellent starting off point for your own adventure in the Galapagos Islands. For more ideas of what to explore, read more of the “Explore Southern Islands of Galapagos on Boat” leaf. You can also download the LeafCanoe app to check out more travel ideas.

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Five Ideas for Travel After a Divorce

Divorce and breakups can be difficult. When a marriage or a relationship ends, people often feel a sense of grief and loss, even if they were the ones who ended the relationship. Yet, despite the difficulties of a breakup, there are many ways to cope with the end of a relationship. One such way is through travel.

Travel is more than just a means to see the world. It can also be transformative and healing. Being in a new place can help bring a different perspective to your life. This new perspective can help you immensely on your path towards acceptance. Almost any destination can be a good place to start on your healing journey. The best way to choose your destination is by exploring what that particular destination has to offer. Though it may be difficult to take that first step, travel after a divorce can serve to help you move on from your breakup.

Take some time to be alone
After a serious breakup, it’s helpful to take some time to be alone and reflect on life. A train trip through Europe, for example, can offer a good balance of solitude and social interaction, as you work through your period of reflection. From the countrysides of France and Italy, to the streets of cities like Prague or Amsterdam, there are plenty of opportunities to hop off the train and engage in some solo exploration on foot.

Europe - Travel after a divorce

Simplify your life
Going through a breakup involves a major life change, and can often force you to rethink your day to day. Take this opportunity to visit a place that allows you to focus on the simple things in life. The laid-back culture of Jamaica is perfect for re-examining what is important in your life. Go at your own pace and enjoy exploring the country’s beaches and towns. Let Jamaica’s relaxed attitude influence the way you see the world.

Jamaica - Travel after a divorce

Test your strength
The emotional stress of a divorce can leave you filled with self-doubt and insecurity. Take this time to take on a challenge and test your strength. A popular travel destination for those looking for a challenge is the 15th century Incan site, Machu Picchu, located in Peru. Hikers and adventure travelers love to visit Machu Picchu, whose altitude at 2,000 meters above sea level poses a challenge for many travelers who come to the site. But it is this challenge that will ultimately help you in your road towards moving on from a divorce. Being able to overcome the difficulties of visiting such a site, can help reaffirm the inner strength that may have been lost when you went through your breakup.

Machu Picchu - Travel after a divorce

Rediscover the beauty of the world
The world is a beautiful place, and often times, the depression that comes with a divorce or breakup serves to obscure this fact. However, it’s good to take the time to appreciate what the world has to offer. African countries like Tanzania are a wonderful place to visit for witnessing the world’s natural beauty. From the wild animals of the Serengeti and the breath-taking views of Mount Kilimanjaro, to the serene waters of Zanzibar, Tanzania offers a wealth of natural beauty for you to soak in. Rediscovering the beauty of the world can help you move on from the depression and sadness.

Zanzibar - Travel after a breakup

Find balance
The final step towards recovering from a divorce is to find balance in your life. Practices such as yoga and meditation can help you achieve balance and maintain a sense of peace with your life. Although India is often known as the birthplace of yoga, places like Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, has started to become a hub for yoga and meditation. With beautiful Hindu temples, serene rice paddies, and a plethora of yoga and meditation centers, Ubud is a peaceful retreat from the hectic and tourist-laden spots found on the rest of the island. Rent a quiet and secluded villa and spend your days meditating. By finding balance in your life, and accepting what the world has to offer, you are well on your way towards creating a new life post-divorce.

Bali - Travel after a divorce

No matter how you slice it, divorce is a difficult thing, and the feelings of sadness, self-doubt, and insecurity can often be hard to shake off. The wonderful thing about travel, though, is that it can have the power to help you in your process toward healing. By allowing you to do things like see a new perspective, test your strength, and achieve a sense of balance, travel can play an influential role in helping you move on from a divorce.

For more ideas of where to travel, download the LeafCanoe app.

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10 Destinations to Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids

Whether we like to admit it or not, our kids are growing up in an age of privilege. With fast internet at their fingertips, and the latest technological advances readily available to them, today’s kids have been raised to think that life is relatively easy. In short, they are becoming spoiled kids.

One of the best remedies to unspoil your kids is through travel. Travel exposes your kids to different lifestyles, and can often challenge the ways they currently view the world. LeafCanoe has a plethora of leaves that can provide ideas of where to take your kids. However, here are our picks for 10 destinations to unspoil your spoiled kids.

Costa Rica
With its abundance of animals, beaches, rainforests, and outdoor activities, Costa Rica is the perfect destination to take your digitally connected kids and help them reconnect with the natural world. Pura Vida, which means pure life, is the country’s motto. That laid back attitude is evident in every inch of the country. Life moves at a slower pace, and the rich natural environment can turn even the most die-hard city-lover into a fan of the great outdoors.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Costa Rica

Paraguay
Today’s kids have been raised on constant stimulation from televisions, computers, video games, iPads, and iPhones. They aren’t accustomed to living life without these types of stimulation. A trip to Paraguay, where the majority of the population are subsistence farmers, can open your kids’ eyes to a much simpler way of life.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Paraguay

India
The structure and organization that our society’s kids have grown accustomed to can sometimes be at an almost detrimental level. In real life, kids must learn to deal with chaos and confusion. A country like India, with its frenetic energy, is a great chance to expose your kids to the chaos of life. With its cacophany of sounds, colors, and tastes, India is a rush to the senses.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - India

Singapore
Spoiled kids can sometimes be picky in their tastes, especially when it comes to food. A great way to introduce your kids to diverse cuisines is to visit Singapore, with its melting pot of Chinese, British, Arab, Indian, and Malaysian influences. In Singapore, kids can sample samosas from India, goat curry from Malaysia, or Singapore’s own famous chili crabs.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Singapore

Ghana
In our society of excess, kids can often seem wasteful, demanding the latest toys and gadgets. A trip to Ghana, where kids have learned to be resourceful in their play, can turn your spoiled kid around and make them appreciate what they have. Though still considered a developing country, Ghana is surprisingly rich in natural resources, and has a fairly developed tourism industry, which makes it an accessible country for families and kids to visit.

Unspoil Your Spoiked Kids - Ghana

Turkey
In an age where internet memes and trends come and go every fifteen seconds, kids can sometimes lose sight of the importance of history. Turkey, a country with a diverse and storied history, is the perfect antithesis to today’s transient and ephemeral trends. Straddling the cultures of both Europe and the Middle East, Turkey’s history dates back to prehistoric days, and can be explored through the various historical landmarks scattered throughout the country. Check out the leaf, “My favorite spots of our Turkey trip” for ideas of where to go in Turkey.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Turkey

Philippines
Spoiled kids are used to living in comfort, and often forget that not everyone in the world lives this way. A trip to the Philippines, particularly to see the provinces beyond the big cities and resort towns, can help your kids see the disparity between the rich and the poor. Philippines is a beautiful country, and in the rural areas, kids can see families living in small huts on family farms. Such a stark difference from the bustling cities of Manila and Baguio.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Philippines

Cambodia
For parents wanting to expose their kids to an even more rural environment, consider the country of Cambodia. Known for the beautiful Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia is still very much a pastoral based society. Kids and families can witness this rural environment at a much slower pace by renting bicycles and exploring the temples and surrounding villages over the course of several days.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Cambodia

Thailand
A common complaint of parents regarding their kids is their disconnection to cultural traditions. In Thailand, kids can get a glimpse of Thai culture through the dance, food, temples, and religious ceremonies. A Buddhist country, Thailand has a large selection of temples throughout the country that kids and families can visit and learn more about. To get ideas of where to visit in Thailand, check out the leaf, “Thailand in 10 Days.”

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Thailand

Poland
Kids who are spoiled sometimes forget how privileged they are. They forget that in many parts of the world, and throughout history, kids have been denied the opportunity to live a normal childhood. Places like Aushwitz camp in Poland, are a stark reminder of the dark sides of human history. Formerly a Nazi concentration camp, Aushwitz is now open to visitors, so that people may never forget what people are capable of doing to each other. To see a more nature-oriented side of Poland, check out the leaf, “Spring flowers – Botanic garden, Cracow, Poland“.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Poland

Travel is more than just going to a destination and checking activities off a list. It can be an opportunity to show your kids how people around the world live, and instill in them a deeper appreciation for the life that they have. By doing this, you can slowly begin to change your kids from being spoiled to being actively engaged global citizens.

For more ideas of where to take your kids, check out the various leaves on LeafCanoe by downloading the app.

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Praia da Galheta is not only a beautiful beach, but it's also a nudist beach.

The Contrasting Landscapes of Santa Catarina, Brazil

Santa Catarina is a small state in southern Brazil that is one of Brazil’s most pleasant surprises. No, it doesn’t have the glitz and glamor of Rio de Janeiro or the immense size of the Amazon Rainforest, but it does have dramatic landscapes that aren’t overrun with tourists. Santa Catarina’s coast is lined with white-sand beaches and charming resort towns, while its interior is home to sizable peaks and small alpine towns.

Tropical Florianopolis

Florianopolis is the highlight of Santa Catarina’s coast and the state’s capital city. The city has an interesting geography, as part of the city is on the Brazilian mainland and the other half is on an island, officially known as Santa Catarina Island, but colloquially called Florianopolis.

This island is what makes Florianopolis such an amazing place to visit, as there are over 40 beaches and a number of scenic locales. In the summer locals and tourists alike usually spend the day surfing, swimming, or lying out in the sun—perhaps at the Praia de Galheta nudist beach.

Praia da Galheta is not only a beautiful beach, but it's also a nudist beach.

Praia da Galheta is not only a beautiful beach, but it’s also a nudist beach.

Another hot spot on the island is Lagoa da Conceição, a lake on the island’s east coast. Only a short walk from the beach, this town has a festive atmosphere and a ton of restaurants and bars. In the summer there are often concerts and festivals near the lake.

Make sure to allocate some of your time for the city of Florianopolis itself, though, as the city is one of the most charming in all of Brazil. Tiled streets and colonial-era buildings provide the perfect backdrop for the city’s happening nightlife and many sidewalk cafes.

The bright lights of Florianopolis conceal colonial buildings and a charming ambiance.

The bright lights of Florianopolis conceal colonial buildings and a charming ambiance.

Frozen Urubici

A two-hour drive inland from Florianopolis and the landscape of Santa Catarina takes a dramatic turn, as the tropical forests and beaches are replaced with snow-capped mountains and alpine forests.

The town of Urubici, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, is the coldest city in Santa Catarina. It’s a small town that has a bit of a German feel, as Santa Catarina was a popular destination for German immigrants in the early 20th century.

The highlight of Urubici is the surrounding scenery. Hire a tour guide and a jeep to best explore the rugged terrain. There are small towns, ranches, rock formations, rivers and large waterfalls all waiting to be discovered. Return to Urubici after a long day in the mountains to enjoy dinner at one of Urubici’s many barbecue restaurants.

The Pedra Furada rock formation in Urubici. Photo credit Carlos Meireles / CC BY.

The Pedra Furada rock formation in Urubici. Photo credit Carlos Meireles / CC BY.

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