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How Accommodations in Tibet Look Like

In the travel diary of my Tibet trip, I mentioned quite a few very basic accommodations. I hope that you didn’t get the wrong impression that you have no other option while traveling in Tibet. So, let me talk a little more about the accommodation options in the remote areas of Tibet.

In general, once you are away from Lhasa, there are no lodge options on the road or in villages, except the one at the Guge kingdom ruins. However, bigger towns do have accommodations that are generally acceptable in terms of cleanliness and facilities. The bigger the town, the more options it can offer. If your budget is over 300 RMB per night, which is about 50 USD, you can have pretty decent options. Since my group had a tight budget,  our choices were normally from the low to the medium levels. You can definitely have a more luxurious option if you would like to spend a little more.

I have marked down the places we went in the map below and summarized the accommodation options for each accordingly.

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Tibet: this is a pretty modern city and has plenty of low, medium, and high-end lodge options. I highly recommend the Danjielin guesthouse, which is within walking distance to the Jokhang Temple, the ShoAkirat, and the Potala Palace. It is the perfect destination for a tourist. The guesthouse is nothing close to luxurious, however, it is well designed in the local style, and is quite tidy. Most importantly, the host is very friendly and willing to help whenever possible. The rate was around 200 RMB/night when we were there.

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Coqen: there were about four hotels in the town, and about two of them were in decent condition. We picked the cheaper one between the two, which cost about 260 RMB/night.

Xigaze: it is a pretty large and relatively modern city, which offers many lodge options, similar to Lhasa. However, we were not very lucky when we got there, as all the rooms were sold out because of the Panchen Lama’s visit. Having no other choices, we stayed in a bath center which provides beds for over night guests. Although all men and women were put in one huge lodge, which made me feel very uneasy at first, it was pretty clean and quiet. You can consider this option when lodges are not available. However, they may take advantage as they did to us, and overcharge you. In my case, I paid 180 RMB/night for a bed, a bit of a rip off.

Tingri: since we arrived there pretty late and left very early the next morning, we didn’t get a chance to get know about the town. However, the lodge we randomly picked was in pretty decent condition. Its standard room, which was about 230 RMB/night, had a private bathroom and running water, which is less common in more remote areas at a similar price.

Zhongba: the town was not big and had limited lodge options. We chose a 200 RMB/night one, which was actually a bad decision. The lodge did have a private bathroom, but no running water, and the bathroom was pretty dirty. There was one decent hotel in town you may consider, which cost 360 RMB/night and the facility was close to the western standard.

Darchen: since it is a popular travel destination, there are quite a few lodge options, though the town is quite small. We stayed in the Savored Mountain and Lake Hotel, which cost about 250 RMB/night. The lodge was in decent condition, very clean room and comfortable beds.

Guge: under the ruins, there is a small village, where there are many locals offering accommodations to tourists. In generally, the local house is very tidy, though really rustic. It is a great way to interact with locals and get to know about Tibetans. The one we stayed in cost about 60 RMB/bed/night. There ware about 5 beds in the room.

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Paryang: try to avoid this town if you can. It has very limited lodge options. The local home we stayed in was in very bad condition. The room had no locks and no private bathrooms and even the window was broken. We heard they were building a 4 star hotel there. Hopefully, it is completed now. Otherwise, you better go to a nearby, bigger town for the stay.

Nyima: it is a big town. You can find many good options for sure there.

Bangor: it is a big town as well, with many options for lodging, ranging from the low end inns to the medium level hotels. The one we chose was an inn, which cost about 160 RMB/night, with public bathrooms.

Namtso: it is a very popular national park. However, the lodging there is very uncomfortable. Due to the government regulations, the whole site had only public bathrooms which could be very far from your room. The room there was very basic, even though it would cost you more than 200 RMB/night. The service was also very basic as well. Hopefully, the condition can be improved soon.

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Get To Know Your Travel Style

The wonderful thing about travel is how each experience can be unique and different. Just as each person is a unique individual, each traveler has their own travel style. With LeafCanoe, you can find leaves that suit all sorts of travel styles. From adventurous exploration in the outdoors, to a peaceful retreat on the beach, travel can be what you want it to be.

Over the past year, our expert LeafCanoers have created leaves that represent the wide spectrum of travel styles. If you’re looking for ideas for travel, they’re a great resource to start with. Take a look at these travel styles and see which one suits you the most.

Slow TravelDan McElroy
Do you enjoy living in the moment? Do you prefer to get to know a destination in depth, rather than moving quickly from one destination to another? For some travelers, going at a slower pace is the way to go. This means spending more time in a particular destination, and really understanding the ins and outs of that place. Or it can also mean using forms of transportation that aren’t as fast, such as cars or bikes. Dan McElroy from Searching for your Zen, knows this quite well. He spent several months road tripping around the United States, really taking the time to get to know the country. If you’re looking for travel experiences that showcase the ins and outs of a destination, check out some of his leaves, such as “Jaw Dropping Scenery at Glacier National Park” or “Washington DC – In A Day!

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Budget TravelLaura Studen
If you’re not careful, travel can get pretty expensive, especially if you do a lot of flying overseas. Fortunately, travel doesn’t necessarily have to be pricey. If you love to travel but have limited resources, then you might fall under the category of a budget travelers. Budget travelers know how to get the most travel value out of what they have. Rather than staying at a luxury resort, they choose more simple accommodations like a hostel or a guest house. Instead of eating out every night, they occasionally cook dinners from home. And when it comes to choosing destinations, budget travelers will choose cheaper countries rather than more expensive ones. As a student, Lauren Studen, of Girl x Departure, has a lot of experience with budget travel, and her leaves focus on how to get the most out of a destination. Check out her leaves about Turkey, such as “10 Free Things to do in Istanbul” or her leaf about Bangkok called, “15 Things To Do in Bangkok.”

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Intellectual TravelKathryn Damicone
Travel isn’t always just about the destination. For some travelers, it’s about learning the history of a place, or diving deep into the social and cultural aspects of that destination. Intellectual travelers enjoy the educational aspects of travel, the opportunity to enrich the mind with historical knowledge or a cultural context.  These are the type of travelers who will spend months learning the language before visiting a new place, or who will immerse themselves in the literature of a particular country. At the heart of it all is the desire to connect with other cultures. LeafCanoer, Kathryn Damicone, also known as SocioKathy, loves focusing on the human to human connections that comes with travel. Her leaves, such as “Destination Dresden” or “Maui’s Must See List,” focus a lot on cultural exploration, so typical for the intellectual traveler.

travel style

Adventure TravelDaijie Huang
On the other end of the spectrum is adventure travel. This type of travel is centered around people who love fast paced environments, and who love to test the limits of what their body can or cannot handle.  Adventure travel oven involves activities that are physically challenging or are in a unique location. Those who love adventure travel are happy when they are doing things such as climbing hills, ziplining through a forest, or riding ATVs through the sand dunes. LeafCanoer’s founder, Daijie Huang, has traveled to some very exciting travel destinations with her family, and for those with a more adventurous travel style, her leaves are the perfect travel inspiration. Check out her leaf, “Visit Machu Picchu,” or “18 Day Kenya Safari Itinerary” for some wanderlust worthy adventure travel ideas.

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Pop-Culture TravelToni Frazer
Like the intellectual traveler, the pop-culture traveler doesn’t always focus on the destination. However if that destination is related to something in a movie or a tv show, than the pop-culture traveler is sure to seek it out. These types of travelers are the ones who like visiting a landmark because it was featured in a film. Or they enjoy creating trips that are inspired by a movie, book, or tv show.  LeafCanoer, Toni Frazer, of Enchanted Serendipity, loves visiting filming locations. Her leaf, “The Notebook Filming Locations” showcases several spots in North Carolina where the movie was filmed. Another leaf of hers, “Chicago, Illinois Filming Locations,” highlights filming locations of famous John Hughes movies.

travel style

Nature Travel – Amanda Tiffany
For some, the wonders of nature are what inspires them to travel. Nature travelers love exploring the natural surroundings of a destination. They are drawn to the beaches, the forests, the mountains, and lakes. They focus on the beauty that surrounds them in nature, and they love taking pictures to showcase this natural beauty. Amanda Tiffany from Gallivant Society, has plenty of experience with nature travel. Her leaves about Belize, such as “Explore the untouched beauty of Southern Belize” and “The possibilities for adventure are endless in Cayo, Belize,” all showcase the wonderful natural beauty that can be found during your travels.

travel style

Local TravelAstrid Vinje
Like the slow traveler, those who enjoy local travel often opt to get to know one particular destination really well, rather than hopping from one destination to another. For the local traveler, the focus is on taking the time to live like one of the locals. Local travelers love activities such as cooking classes or city tours, because it gives them a chance to really get to know the local culture. They also enjoy doing activities like visiting a local park, or going to the city market. LeafCanoer, Astrid Vinje, of The Wandering Daughter, loves exploring the local scene during her travels. Check out her leaves such as “A Tasty Tour of Seattle” or “Day Trips From Seattle” for ideas on local travel.

travel style

Responsible TravelLaura Fairbourn
Traveling the world brings with it a sense of social responsibility. Many travelers want more from their travels than just seeing the tourist sites. They want to leave the world better than when they found it. For the responsible traveler, travel is about making sure that your activities do not have a negative impact on the environment or the cultures of the places you visit. They love doing volunteer activities, and are drawn to destinations that exemplify sustainable travel. For LeafCanoer, Laura Fairbourn, of Grassroots Nomad, travel is about having a positive impact on the world. Her leaves, “Petra” and “Savamala Street Art – Belgrade,” offer a unique perspective to travel that focuses on understanding the local culture and history.

travel style

Every traveler has their own unique travel style, and LeafCanoe has a leaf for almost every type of travel style imaginable.  Some of the travel styles not highlighted here include luxury travel, which focus on staying at luxury resorts and pampering yourself on your travels, and food travel, which seeks out to find the very best meal.

If you’re looking for inspiration on where to travel next, think about your travel style, and follow one of our LeafCanoe experts! If you want to become an expert, check out our expert program!

To get started on exploring the different travel styles, download the LeafCanoe app.

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How to Write the Best-Ever Leaf on LeafCanoe

For a traveler, the LeafCanoe app is one of the best apps you can have in your back pocket. With user-generated content, you can have access to first hand experiences of other travelers in the destinations you’re interested in. And if you’re a traveler who wants to share an experience in a destination with other travelers, LeafCanoe is the perfect medium to do this. In a way, LeafCanoe is like the hostel lounge for the digital age, serving as a place for exchanging travel experiences.

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But not all leaves are created equal. Some are more helpful and informative than others. If you’re struggling to create leaves that make an impression, have no fear. Here are some tips to help you create a high quality leaf on LeafCanoe.

Share something unique
People want to hear about the interesting things you’ve done on your travels, so make sure your leaf is about something unique. If you’re writing a leaf about New York City, avoid simply writing about the tourist destinations. Instead, take the time to explore and share some of the off-the-beaten-path destinations like Greenwich Village or East Village. Or, you can make a theme for your leaf, like what LeafCanoer, travelfreak, did in his leaf, “The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Drinking in NYC“.

Saigon Shack

Use photos that entice
In this day and age, the cameras on our smart phones are just as powerful as regular cameras. So why not use it to your advantage? Take some great photos of the destinations you are visiting, and use it on your leaf. People are drawn to visual stimulation, and a wonderfully shot photograph will help draw interest to your leaf, as well as provide a much better picture of what your experience was like. Make sure your photos are edited to your preference before uploading them to the LeafCanoe app.

Hoi An Old Town

It’s all in the details
A good quality leaf is one that provides a lot of details about a particular destination. Travelers who are reading your leaf want to know the things that make a place special, so go ahead and provide those details. Is there a particular museum that is open only at certain times of day? Mention it in the description. Are there perfect spots to catch the sunset in a particular city? Share them in your leaf. Your fellow travelers love hearing about these insider tips.

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Location, location, location
Just like in real estate, location is everything. In the case of the LeafCanoe app, it’s more about putting down an accurate destination for your leaf. Since part of LeafCanoe’s functionality includes a map feature for you to pinpoint exactly where your leaf took place, it’s important to be as accurate as you can about the physical destination on the map.

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Get personal
The most important aspect of a high quality leaf is the personal aspect. Rather than provide a generic description of a place, get personal. Explain why that place is significant to you. Describe a funny moment that occurred in that place. Share some tips that you picked up while visiting that place. Give other travelers a sense of your personality.

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The LeafCanoe app is fast becoming one of the go-to apps for travelers. With its use of crowd-sourced information, it can prove to be quite a powerful tool, both for researching destinations and sharing stories about your travels. With the tips provided here, you are now well on your way to creating the best-ever leaves on LeafCanoe, ones that will serve as valuable resources for travelers in years to come.

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Ready to get started on your own leaf? Download the LeafCanoe app and start sharing your experiences with the LeafCanoe community.

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How to Prepare for Travel to Rajasthan

The Indian state of Rajasthan is a traveler’s dream come true. With a multitude of color-themed cities, as well as countless festivals being celebrated in the area, Rajasthan invokes in the traveler the quintessential image of India: vibrant, colorful, and full of culture.

LeafCanoer, aartideetoo, recently shared their insights on Rajasthan in their leaf titled, “Golden City of Rajasthan – Jaisalmer.” From exploring the Jaisalmer Fort to riding camels in the Sam Sand Dunes, aartideetoo’s leaf provides plenty of ideas for travel to Rajasthan.

Aartideetoo’s experiences in Rajasthan are sure to inspire you to embark on your own trip to the area. Before you go, however, here are a few things to help you prepare for travel to Rajasthan:

Brush up on your history
Rajasthan has one of the richest and most developed cultures in India, with so much history packed into one state. Officially formed in March 1949, the state of Rajasthan was once part of the Indus Valley Civilization. Many of the major tribes in India – the Rajputs, Jats, Meenas, Gurjars, and countless others – have contributed to the creation of the state of Rajasthan. Their influences, as well as the Mughal influence, can be seen in many of the forts and palaces that dot the area.

Travel to Rajasthan

Invest in a good camera
One of the perks of being in such a historical place is the abundance of palaces and historical buildings, which serves as a wealth of inspiration for the budding travel photographer. Bring along a good camera that will be able to perfectly capture the sights of the area. Rajasthan is known for being one of the most colorful regions of India. It is also known for having a strong classical music and dance tradition, so being able to record dance and music performances are necessary for any visit to Rajasthan.

Travel to Rajasthan

Take along some pocket change
The colors of Rajasthan come not only from the buildings and architecture, but also from the abundance of fabrics and goods that can be found in the markets. Take some time to explore the shopping in the area. The dollar is strong in India, so if you’re American, it will be relatively easy to buy good quality products for an affordable price. Though you’ll most likely be quoted the foreigner price, it’s customary to engage in some bargaining when you shop.

Travel to Rajasthan

Bring along your appetite
Indian food may not suit everyone’s palate, but there are definitely some delectable delights to be found in Rajasthan. Be prepared to sample some of the local cuisine while visiting the area. Rajasthan cuisine is different from the cuisine found in most Indian restaurants in the United States. Due to the scarcity of water, milk is often used as a substitute, and subsequently, much of the cuisine features the use of milk and milk products.

Travel to Rajasthan

Clear your calendar
There are a lot of things to see and do in Rajasthan. To fully experience the area, it’s best to spend at least a week, so be sure you have adequate time in your travel schedule. Popular cities to visit in Rajasthan include Jaipur (also known as the Pink City), Udaipur (known as Venice of the East), Jodphur (sometimes called Sun City and sometimes called the Blue City), and Jaisalmar (often called the Golden City). There are also a number of festivals that happen in the area. One of the local favorites is the desert festival, which features traditional costumes, snake charmers, puppeters, and folk performers.

Travel to Rajasthan

There are so many things to see and experience in Rajasthan. Just one trip is not enough to fully capture what that state has to offer. By far, the most important thing to remember when planning your travel to Rajasthan is to leave more for next time.

Interested in learning more about travel to Rajasthan? Download the LeafCanoe app and check out more of     artideetoo’s leaf.

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Out of the box travels – Spectacular Biannual Airshows in Radom, Poland

One of the best travel ideas that are out of the box and  don’t require professional equipment and meticulous preparation is to travel for less conventional but unbelievable breathtaking airshows.  All you have to do is grabbing your camera/ smartphone,  immersing in the excitement of the crowd, and admiring the roar of jet engines and the colorful smoke trails left in the sky. If you’re in search of such a unique experience, mark your 2017 calendar for the far-famed “Airshow Radom” that’s recognized as the best European airshow. Well organized and highlighted by its storytelling airshow commentating and interactive displays, the Airshow Radom appeals to a much bigger audience that is beyond military fans.

General Airshow Tips + What to Bring

  • Typically, the biggest airshows in the world are packed with delicious local food stands. Airshow Radom is not an exception. We highly recommend you to try some Polish delicacies there when you visit the Airshow Radom 2017. In case you are on a diet or don’t like to eat out, just pack a lunch and fruits in your bag. Airshow Radom organizers, due to its security measures, do not allow you to take your own beverages, so, take an empty water bottle to fill with water served inside. You can also buy yourself a beer or soda drinks at the food stands.
  • Airshow Radom is always  2 full-day event (at least 10 hours of performances every day), so make sure that you bring a chair or a simple blanket to make your day a lot more comfortable.
  • Airshow Radom is always being held in August and Poland can get pretty hot during the time frame(around 30 C). Bring an umbrella to cover yourself up from the sun and don’t forget to bring sunscreen and apply it every 3 hours to avoid the unpleasant sunburn.
  • Take a camera with a more professional zoom to capture the incredible soaring stunts in action.
  • If you want to take a picture of a plane taking off or landing, take a small plastic ladder or podium to get a better view above the crowd.

5 reasons why going to airshows is a great idea

  1. You will meet plenty of people who are passionate about the aviation and willing to give you many interesting insights of an aircraft . You may be  inspired to try “crazy” things you never thought before! Yes, paragliding, sky diverting, aircraft photography, …etc, only the sky is the limit.

radom flaga

2.  You will get to know the history of host country: there always are countless displays that exhibit the most interesting historical facts with pictures. You can also find unique, old-fashioned planes, and items that are borrowed from the top-notch national museums (such as the image below).

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  1. This will be an adventurous trip that requires no preparation.
  2. It will broaden your horizons.
  3. You will immerse in the excitement of watching the insanely difficult stunts and picturesque performance by world-class pilots.

Airshow Radom, the biggest event in Europe

The first Air Show Radom was launched in 2000 and it has been an extremely successful event  ever since. It is an international airshow held biannually in the end of August in Radom, a city about 100 km to the South of Warsaw. This year’s edition, which took place over the weekend of 22-23 August, had the best aviators from 20 countries demonstrating the incredible capabilities of air crafts and acrobatic performances. Apart from the soaring aerobatics, there was an aircraft exhibit  called “static air shows”. You can touch it, visit inside, chat with pilots and servicemen, get flying tips from certificated flight instructors, mingle with the crowd, meet new people over a beer with delicious Polish grilled sausages.

Airshow Radom 2015

Roughly 260 planes and helicopters from 20 countries took part in the weekend’s Radom Air Show performances, including military machines from the Polish Air Forces. Two days of elaborate soaring stunts and aircraft displays brought around 200,000 visitors to the show,  and, the airfield was completely packed with aircrafts. Poland was represented by „Biało-Czerwone Iskry” displaying TS-11 Iskra plane and „Orlik” team displaying PZL-130 Orlik.

For the first time,  the Air Show included military equipment and weapon displays on the ground, which are all from the Polish Armed Forces. You could try out your luck in the aircraft simulators or hold the real weapons.

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Fot. Janusz Burda

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Fot. Janusz Burda

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Fot. Janusz Burda

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Fot. Janusz Burda

“Frecce Tricolori”

One of the stars of the 2015 airshow were  Frecce Tricolori (“Tricolour Arrows”), officially known as the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico from Italy. This aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Aeronautic Military, based at Rivolto Air Force Base in the Friuli Venezia Giulia, not only colored the sky with a flypast green-white-red smoke, but also had the most fantastic running commentary. With a lovely Italian accent, the commentator prepared the audience to get ready their cameras right in time for the stunning aerobatics. Many visitors drove over 2,000 km by car to see the 40 minute performance of The Frecce Tricolori in Radom.

An Interesting fact: to honor Luciano Pavarotti, the Frecce Tricolori performed a tricolor smoke trail that represents the Italian flag’s colors on his funeral in Modena, on 8 September 2007. Ever since, this Italian team often plays Pavarotti during its performances – including the AirShow Radom 2015.

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tricolori team on

“Żelazny”

Another great performer was the Polish “Żelazny”  team flying on Zlin Z-526AFS and Zlin Z-50L, adding this year some pretty cool stunts on gliders. It’s a very successful Polish group winning in many European competitions and also well known for its charming female team members…

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zelazny

MiG29

Although the industry opinions of the TOP 5 performing planes are divided, MiG29, a Russian primary front line fighter, definitely won aviation enthusiasts’ votes for  its distinctive look and incredibly loud roaring sound. MiG-29 is a twin-engine jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union, developed by the Mikoyan design bureau. It was said that it has filled the technological gap between the Soviet and the NATO fast jets and its sensors and weapon systems can bring down the Tomahawk cruise missiles!

Mig-29-GAF-air-to-air

MiG 21 – Lancer

The Romanian Air Force Commander displayed a MiG-21 Lancer soloist in “the flying pencil”. Although a routine display program since 2013, “the flying pencil”surely entertained the audience who still remember the times when Polish pilots were flying MiG-21,  and,  the younger generation who got to see it in the sky.

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Euro-fighter Typhoon

The Euro-fighter Typhoon displayed by the Capt Federico Petracca and presented by the ‘Boff’ Raffaele Beltrame from Italy made the day. The Euro-fighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft with deplorable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities. The aircraft has proven and continues to demonstrate its high reliability  under all climates.

eurofighter typhoon

Mi-24 Hind

The Mi-24 (named Hind by NATO) is a large helicopter gunship and also an attack helicopter that serves as a low-capacity troop transport for passengers. It has been operated since 1972, by the Soviet Air Force and its successors,  and over 30  other nations.

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F-16 ZEUS

The name says it all. The god of gods displayed by a Greek team of course…

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Look forward

Travel to airshows can be a great and fun adventure. There are plenty of airshows  in Europe and the North America.  Below is a list of the  most eminent airshows all over the world.  Are you ready for the fun?

Airshows in Europe

http://www.air-shows.org.uk/uk-and-european-airshow-calendar/european-airshow-calendar-2015/

Airshows in US

http://www.richard-seaman.com/Aircraft/AirShows/

http://www.10best.com/interests/sports-travel/10-best-super-air-show-destinations/

Airshows in Asia

http://www.singaporeairshow.com/aviation-training-zone.php

Airshows all over the world

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_air_shows

Airshow Radom

https://www.facebook.com/pokazy.airshow

Other interesting pages:

http://www.air-shows.org.uk/

http://www.aerotechnews.com/

http://www.thirtythousandfeet.com/news.htm

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Cuba Travel Demystified

For decades, Cuba has held a certain mystique for the curious American traveler. Although citizens of other countries could visit, Cuba was previously off limits for Americans. As a result, the country has occupied a special space in the traveler’s imagination, with images of charismatic revolutionaries and flavorful foods, as well as vibrant nights of dancing and music.

In 2015, the United States president, Barack Obama, announced that the country would partially lift its travel ban for American citizens traveling to Cuba. Though there were some caveats – the main being that travel to Cuba in the form of tourism is still strictly prohibited – this lift in the travel ban has definitely opened the door for Americans to consider Cuba travel. With the doors to Cuba slowly opening up, travelers are rightfully confused as to what is allowed and what is not allowed with regards to travel to Cuba. As a means to demystify Cuba travel, here are a few key points to keep in mind when planning travel to Cuba.

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Who can travel to Cuba?
In previous years, American travelers were not allowed into Cuba. And those who were had to face a barrage of restrictions and authorizations to legally travel to the country. Even business transactions with Cuba were considered illegal, and would warrant hefty fines or jail time if caught. These days, most Americans can legally travel to Cuba, as long as they fall into one of the few allowable types of travel.

What kind of travel is allowed?
For Americans, tourism to Cuba is still not allowed. However, there are other types of travel to Cuba that are allowed, including educational activities, professional research, public art performances, religious activities, and even humanitarian projects. Recently, companies have sprung up offering people-to-people trips to Cuba, connecting travelers directly with Cubans as a means to bring about educational and cultural exchange. The main idea behind this travel restriction is that travel to Cuba must have a component in which the traveler is helping the people of Cuba or the trip is educational for the traveler.

How do travelers get there?
From the United States, flights to Cuba are relatively short. A flight from Miami to Havana takes less than an hour. Besides Miami, travelers can get flights to Cuba from cities such Tampa, Orlando, or New York, through various airlines such as American Airlines and JetBlue. However, although flights are offered, actual seats must be purchased through a third party vendor, as the United States and Cuba has yet to sign an aviation agreement.

Musicians - Cuba travel

Is it safe to travel there?
Cuba is a relative stable country to visit. Unlike in past years, demonstrations against the United States are now few and far between. Demonstrations against local opposition groups, however, can get violent, so it is best to avoid those if in the area. Travel to Cuba is much like travel to any developing country. As there are pockets of poor people, it’s best not to flash too much money around or too many expensive gadgets.

Will there be internet?
As Cuba has remained relatively untouched by tourists, the infrastructure in the country has been relatively weak. Only a few good hotels exist, and many businesses still do not accept foreign credit cards. In terms of internet access, only some hotels, as well as government “hot spots” can offer travelers that luxury.

With the new partial lift on the travel ban, Cuba travel is now becoming a reality for many Americans. Although not all types of travel are allowed, those that have an educational or altruistic purpose are, and tour companies are popping up to take advantage of this travel loophole.

Carnival - Cuba travel

For more ideas about travel to Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Ten Tips for a Great Kenya Safari

One of the most popular activities to do while visiting Kenya is to go on a safari. The idea of a Kenyan safari conjures up images of a rugged explorer riding through the African landscape in search of lions, giraffes, or wildebeest. In actuality, a safari, which in Swahili means journey, is more of an organized tour through Kenya’s national parks. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for excitement and adventure on a Kenyan safari. The country of Kenya is home to a large variety of animals, including the “Big 5” of game animals: lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. For those coming to Kenya for the safari experience, you are sure to come across one of these animals during your safari excursion.

Kenyan Safari - Hippos

LeafCanoer, Daijie, recently shared her experiences on a Kenyan safari in her leaf, titled, “Kenya Safari.” From visiting an elephant orphanage to boating Lake Navisha, Daijie’s leaf offers plenty of great suggestions of what to see and what to avoid while on safari.  Every traveler’s safari experience is different. Yet despite the differences, there are still a few tips that travelers can keep in mind to ensure a great Kenyan safari experience.

Tip #1: Avoid the tourist season
Many travelers go on safari either during the hot and dry months of December and January, or the cool and dry months of June to August. However, a better time to go is during the months of March to May, during the rainy season. There are fewer tourists during this time, but there are also more animals out, as the weather is cooler and there tends to be a larger supply of water available.

Kenyan Safari - Elephant

Tip #2: Pack a duffel bag
Most safari tours prefer travelers to have a duffel bag rather then the standard suitcase. The soft sides of the duffel bag makes it easier to pack into a minivan compared to a suitcase.

Tip #3: Bring a headlamp
While most lodges will have some lighting by way of lamps or lanterns, it can get pretty dark in the African wilderness. It’s helpful to have a headlamp handy on those rare occasions when you find yourself alone in the dark.

Kenyan Safari - Flamingos

Tip #4: Get visa on arrival
Visitors to Kenya can apply for a visa prior to arriving in country, however, citizens of most countries can opt to get a visa on arrival. If you’re choosing the visa on arrival option, do expect some wait time for processing your visa when you are at the airport.

Tip #5: Get local SIM card
Wifi is very limited in Kenya. If you’re looking to stay “connected,” a good option is to purchase a local SIM card. You can buy a SIM card that has prepaid data, to allow you to connect to the internet. Local SIM cards can be purchased right at the airport.

Tip #6: Save money by arranging everything in country
Most travelers choose to book their safaris before arriving in country. This ensures that they have a place to stay during their safari, especially for stays at some of the more famous lodges. However, budget conscious travelers may want to wait until arriving in Kenya before booking a safari. You can often get cheaper rates when booking in country, or by going through a local company.

Kenyan Safari - Lion

Tip #7: Stock up on your shillings before the safari
While there are plenty of ATMs in the cities, you’ll have a hard time finding one once you are out on safari. It’s a good idea to have enough shillings on hand before you leave on safari, so that you’re not stuck without any money.

Tip #8: Aim for early morning or late afternoon
To capture the best lighting for photography, it’s best to time your safari excursions for early morning or late afternoon. Coincidentally, this is also when the weather is the coolest, and you can avoid the harsh midday sun.

Kenyan Safari - Zebra

Tip #9: Bring along a field guide and binoculars
You will be seeing a lot of animals on your safari. Having a field guide on hand, or a book that provides descriptions of the animals you will see on safari, will help you immensely in understanding what it is that you are seeing. Additionally, a pair of binoculars will be helpful to view the animals from a relatively safe distance.

Tip #10: Wear casual and comfortable clothes
The most important tip is to wear comfortable clothes. Choose fabrics that are breathable and easily washable, as well as ones that will hide dirt and dust well.

Kenyan Safari - Monkey

Like all travel experiences, a Kenyan safari is whatever you make of it. With luck, these tips can make it into something that is both unforgettable and life changing.

To explore more of Daijie’s “Kenya Safari” leaf, or to explore other destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.

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