your guide to Europe off the beaten path

Category: Opinion

11 Inspiring Travel and Adventure TED Talks

TED is one of the most popular educational websites on the internet with talks covering many scientific, cultural and sociological topics. And the best of all, these talks are free…

TED is one of the most popular educational websites on the internet with talks covering many scientific, cultural and sociological topics. And the best of all, these talks are free and open to anyone to watch and listen. Whenever you’re in need of some inspiration or if you just want to spend some quality time on the internet away of social media – I recommend TED.

Here I’ve compiled a list of 11 fantastic travel and adventure TED talks. They’re covering social topics and some of the most amazing adventures, i.e photographing world’s hidden and less known sites. Let us know in the comments below which one of these adventure TED talks was your favorite.

For more tolerance, we need… more tourism?

The journey across the high wire

How I swam the North Pole

Drawings that show the beauty and fragility of Earth

Why bother leaving the house?

Why I’m rowing across the Pacific

The joy of surfing in ice-cold water

This is what LGBT life is like around the world

What I learned from going blind in space

Photographs of secret sites

The power of time off

Featured photo: TED / James Duncan Davidson

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How To Kill Time During Long Journeys

Some people roll their eyes on the thought they have to spend several hours in a bus or train but that time doesn’t have to be spent in pain and…

Some people roll their eyes on the thought they have to spend several hours in a bus or train but that time doesn’t have to be spent in pain and agony. Here I’ll list some ways on how to kill time during long journeys which hopefully you’ll find interesting.


One of the best ways to kill time during long journeys is to read. I prefer to have a physical copy in my hand but I also use Amazon kindle app on my phone. Amazon Kindle store has thousands of free and cheap e-books that you can download and read on the go. Magazines, newspapers, blogs are another source of inspiration. If you are a student you can also bring your studying material with you and make your time a more productive one.

how to kill time during long journeys - books

Listen to music

This really is a no-brainer. Looking through the window and enjoying scenery whilst listening to a music is a must. If I have more free time before the trip I like to read the guidebook of the place I’ll be visiting and research their music scene. In this way you can make your trip a more thematic one eg. Oriental Express Playlist or Swedish Electro/Pop. I use Sony Walkman Music Player for travel because of its long battery and space.

itunes screenshot

Crosswords and sudoku

I love crosswords and sudoku! I can’t stress this enough. Crosswords are really fun to do, especially if you’re doing it with your traveling companion. To make things more interesting you can make it a competition. The one who has more correct guesses win. Rules are simple: if you guess the correct answer you get 10 points, but if you guess the answer that already has some letters written in – you get 5 points. Sudoku is my personal favorite because I love spending my free time not just playing games but exercising my brain cells as well. Doing sudoku everyday is scientifically proven to reduce your chances of getting Alzeheimer!


This is never my first choice to do for one reason only, it drains my cellphone battery really fast. But if you have a portable charger or an outlet near you, make sure to download some of the many free (and really fun) games from Google or Apple store. Some of them are really addicting (READ: Minion rush) so be careful not to miss your stop.

how to kill time during long journeys - games

Do Important Work

Again if I have a portable charger or an outlet nearby plugging in my laptop would usually be my first choice. Good things are worth the wait. Because I know that whatever I do I’m going to be miserable for the next couple of hours, I might as well be productive. This way I feel better because I’m able to crunch up a few more extra hours of work/studying and I’m more stress free while I’m on my trip.


I have a list (sometimes it seems like it’s endless) of movies that I still haven’t seen. Yes, I get asked a lot if I live under a rock. And no, I do not. This is a great time to catch up and see that one movie that you have been talking about for ages. Just be careful not to pick a drama (like any movie with Hilary Swank ever). I’ve made that mistake and “They took my leg, boss.” resulted with me shaking and using up all of my Kleenex. Trust me nobody wants a sobbing mess next to them.

Enjoy the scenery

If you travel by train you can enjoy the wonderful landscapes of Europe. You can see the transition from green meadows to rocky mountains. These railroads remember many big historic moments, same roads that have taken so many iconic artists across the continent and inspired many famous works. You can’t help but gaze out the window and think about the history heritage and not somehow feel a part of it. It’s all oh-so-romantic.

how to kill time during long journeys

Start a conversation

Start a conversation with your fellow travelers. You’re going to the same destination so you can share ideas about what to see and do, and if you’re lucky you might meet a native (who’ll disclose all the musts in his city). For the love of God, just don’t be boring or pushy. Read the signals because not everyone is interested in talking.

Plan your activities

I always say that I’m going to work out my itinerary before my trip but I never get around to it. Thus this is the perfect time, no excuses, no procrastination. Take out your map, your travel guide and a notebook. Read up about the major sights and mark them on your map. This way you can already devise a route to do all the major attractions. In your notebook jolt down all the interesting and lesser known jewels of the city that you’re going to include into your route if you have some extra time. I really love Lonely Planet guides and I sincerely recommend them to anyone.

Practice your language skills

When visiting a new country I think it’s imperative to do some research about their culture. While knowing the taboos and the dress code is very important, one of the biggest aspects of any culture is language. The utmost compliment you can pay to a local is to try and communicate with them in their native tongue. It was Nelson Mandela who said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” So buy an audio book or use an app and repeat the most useful phrases while you enjoy the passing scenery.

If you have any other suggestions on how to kill time during long journeys feel free to comment below.

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10 Life Lessons Solo Travel Teaches You

Majority of us are accustomed to traveling in groups. Traveling like this allows us not to leave our comfort zone as we are usually surrounded by friends or family. And…

Majority of us are accustomed to traveling in groups. Traveling like this allows us not to leave our comfort zone as we are usually surrounded by friends or family.

And this is not a bad thing at all. Spending time with other people helps us develop our social skills but traveling solo can do the exact same thing and make us gain a boost of confidence.

My first solo trip was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was also the first time that I’ve used Couchsurfing. Since then Couchsurfing became one of my favorite travel websites. Although my opinion on it has changed a bit (i’ll write more about that in a new post) and I’ve barely used it to stay at someone’s place, I still believe it’s a great tool for meeting new people and exploring hidden sides of destinations.

Here are 10 life lessons solo travel teaches you

You are resourceful

Looking for  a cheap airline ticket or a place to stay? Missed your bus or lost your passport? Planning a trip can improve your organizational skills as you’ll need to handle several things by yourself such as flights, accommodation, budget etc. A great way to plan and organize your trip is with a TripRider app.

If you prefer to do it in a classic way, excel spreadsheet does wonders. Here you can list your flight details, accommodation, tours and activities. It’s  great for pre-planning process as you can add many things at once and access the file from anywhere if you upload it to your online drive.

life lessons solo travel teaches you

You become more patient

Waiting for the flight? In line to get that amazing meal? Hitching a ride? Travel involves a lot of waiting which can make you irritated sometimes but it works great for strengthening your patience. Over time you develop tolerance for it and you can even learn to enjoy this time. How? It becomes a meditative process. You think more and you pay more attention to the sounds and things that are happening around you. In short – you are more present. I also love to fill this time by doing something productive like reading a book.

Airport lounge for the gold card members.

Photo: Airport lounge by MIKI Yoshihito (CC by 2.0)

Plans don’t always work

Sure you can plan your day even if you’re alone but I’ve found that many times plans don’t work out. You may strike a conversation with someone while you’re in the museum or on a tour and decide to have coffee afterwards or be late and then have a sudden shift in your schedule but that’s okay. The key is to stay flexible and don’t plan too much ahead. Sometimes the best moments are the unplanned ones.

Clairefontaine Basic

Photo: Clairefontaine Basic by cireremarc (CC by 2.0)

You learn to trust people

When we travel in a group we have that feeling of security. You’re not wandering around a new town alone and from the psychological perspective you stress less. But traveling solo makes you get out and ask for help which teaches you that in the end most people are genuine and want to help. This is especially true for solo travelers as sometimes the local people will look out for you and even escort you to where you wanna go to make  sure you arrived safely.  You will also befriend people more easily.


Photo: Trust by purplejavatroll (CC by 2.0)

It’s great for introverts

Traveling solo is great for introverts. Sure, for me solo travel is sometimes all about the solitude and learning but when you travel solo you are more open to other people than in general.

Female friends

Photo: Female friends by Hernan Pinera (CC by 2.0)

You will be more confident

This feeling usually comes after the trip. You’ll feel confident after you realize that you have successfully completed all of the tasks on the trip, especially if you thought that you wouldn’t be able.

consumer confidence!

Photo: Consumer Confidence by Chris & Karen Highland (CC by 2.0)

It’s great for creativity

Solo travel is great for learning. You’ll be faced with many decisions daily and you’ll usually have to act quick which in return really boosts your creativity.

On creativity

Photo: On creativity by Linus Bohman (CC by 2.0)


Travel teaches you that ‘grass is not always greener on the other side’. Many times we wish for the better but when you travel you start to feel gratitude for what you already have. The fact that you have the opportunity to travel, meet new people and see and experience amazing things fills you with gratitude and kindness.

Iyanla Vanzant Gratitude is like a magnet, the more grateful you are, the more you will receive to be grateful for

Photo: Gratitude by BK (CC by 2.0)

You become less anxious and scared

Some people are scared of flying, some have social anxiety and so on but to overcome your fears you simply have to push through them. It’s very difficult at first but with continual practice you can end the battle in your favor.

Timothy Ferriss What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do

Photo: Timothy Ferris quote by BK (CC by 2.0)

Teaches You about You

Exactly, travel, especially solo travel can teach you what kind of person you want to be. As mentioned previously, travel teaches you about other people and their way of life and as we are all different, we can learn from one another. Most importantly when you travel alone you don’t have to listen to anybody else. All decisions are your own and it helps you understand yourself better. It can also inspire you to pursue your dreams and goals as you become more open minded and you are willing to take risks.

Sunset skydiving

Photo: Sunset skydiving by Lachlan Rogers (CC by 2.0)

So do yourself a favor and travel solo at least once!


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9 Reasons You Can Increase Productivity and Creativity by Traveling

This is a guest post by Brian Kidwell who is the founder of Travel This Planet was created to share travel tips and advice to make traveling as easy…

This is a guest post by Brian Kidwell who is the founder of Travel This Planet was created to share travel tips and advice to make traveling as easy and fun as possible. Brian also created a Facebook group to build a community of travel enthusiasts. You can follow Travel This Planet via Twitter and Instagram.


Did you know that Americans fail to use over 429 million vacation days each year?

We have been programmed to work through our vacation time because we think that no one else can do our job. We idolize the idea of the person that works 80-hour weeks to become successful and never takes time off. But what if I told you taking time off is actually proven to increase productivity?

77% of HR managers agree that the employees who take time off are actually more productive. Yet, over a quarter of the workforce do not use all their time off because they think it will show greater dedication to the company.

On top of this, 96% of Americans say they recognize the importance of vacation. As a society, if we truly recognized how travel can make us more productive, we wouldn’t leave almost half a billion vacation days on the table at the end of the year.

Getting away from your daily activities and taking a break can actually provide a significant boost to productivity and creativity. In this post, you’ll see how you can increase productivity and creativity by traveling.

Evening at the seaside

1. It Gives You Something to Work Towards

Even if you absolutely love what you do for a living, there is one thing about work that won’t change: work takes work. Most of us can’t just sip margaritas in Cabo all day and magically pay our bills.

Work isn’t always easy or fun, but it is an essential part of our lives. When work gets tough, it is nice to have a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing. When you plan a vacation, you’ll have something to work towards. This will keep you focused and push you to focus on getting things done so that you can enjoy your vacation.

Setting your desktop background to a picture of the place you’re visiting soon is a great way to stay motivated. Whenever you look at the picture you’ll instantly remind yourself what you’re working towards.

2. It Leaves You Feeling Like You Have Some Catching Up to Do

40% of people leave some of their vacation days unused because they don’t want to come back to a mountain of work. This makes sense. No one likes to have way more work to do than usual.

Yet, what if we look at this from a different angle? Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

In layman’s terms, this means however long you have to get something done is how long it will take you to complete it.

Do you have a project that you need to turn in one month from today? It will take you one month to complete it. If you only have a week to do it, it will take you a week.

You can use this to your advantage when you take a vacation. Not only will you be more productive before you leave, but you will also be more productive when you get back. You will have less time to complete the tasks so you will spend less time procrastinating and more time actually working.

To reduce the stress of feeling like it’s all on you, set up systems and processes that allow others to help you complete your job. Creating systems takes time up front, but they are extremely beneficial when you take time off. Don’t wait until you’re about to go on a vacation to start creating systems. Do it now so that the processes work by the time you leave.

Did you know that people in France on average take 15 more days off per year than people in the US? On top of that their GDP per hour worked as a percentage of U.S. is 98.2%.

They are almost just as productive while taking 2 weeks more off per year. Imagine what you could do with an additional 15 days off per year!


3. It Opens Your Mind to New Ideas

Do you ever feel like you were more creative when you were a kid?

One of the best ways to restore that childlike sense of wonder is to travel to places that are foreign to you. This could mean visiting a city down the road from you or traveling half way around the world. The point is to get away from the day-to-day things you’ve gotten accustomed to.

The further away you go, the more likely you’ll be in awe of what you see. This doesn’t mean you’ll immediately be filled with creative ideas. It just means that you’ll have more reference points next time you’re tasked with a creative challenge.

By stepping away from what’s normal to us, we start to see things in a different light. We see new ways of doing things, experience different cultures, and face other types of challenges. All these experiences add to your memory and your brain can draw from these unique memories to help solve future problems.

4. It Gives You a Chance to Refocus on What’s Important

There is no question that routines are excellent for getting things done and being efficient. Yet, sometimes you need to get away to understand why you’re doing something. Are you doing it because it needs to be done or are you doing it because it’s just part of your routine?

Getting away from your day-to-day activities and giving yourself another perspective helps to identify what’s important and what’s a waste of time. By using your vacation as an opportunity to reflect, you’ll be able to make improvements. When you come back to your normal daily life you can make the necessary adjustments.

5. Your Creativity Will Improve Because You’re Happier

During the planning phase leading up to your trip, your happiness increases. You’re also likely to be extremely happy while you’re on your trip as well.

A study found that people’s creativity is higher when they were happy the day before. Conversely, it’s lower when you are sad, angry, or depressed. You’ll probably agree that this makes sense. It’s hard to come up with creative solutions when you’re ticked off.

Creativity is extremely desirable in the workplace. According to this study, creativity was one of the top skills that CEOs value in their employees.

I’m sure most of us would agree that we are happier when we travel. All our stress and worries are left behind as we explore new places. If this is true for you then you can expect your levels of creativity to be higher as well due to your positive emotions.

Laptop and beer at SYD

6. Airplanes and Airports are Great Places to Get Stuff Done

If you’re one of the many people who hate long flights or extended layovers, it’s time to think about it a bit differently. Both airplanes and airports are great places to get work done. Being stuck in one place for hours on end is an excellent opportunity to force yourself to be productive.

Airline companies are continuing to add WiFi as a service on their flights and many airports have WiFi as well. Instead of watching Netflix or checking social media, use this opportunity to knock out some work.

Your productivity levels can increase even more when your plane or airport don’t offer WiFi. If you prepare materials ahead of time, you can get work done that doesn’t require the internet. Since you don’t have access to the internet you won’t risk constant distraction from everything else you can be doing online.

Admittedly, it is a bit difficult to get work done on airplanes when you’re sitting in economy class. This is especially true when you have crying babies or a chatty passenger sitting next to you. Noise canceling headphones, earplugs, or some more aggressive tactics should help solve this problem.

Wanna hang out?

7. More Ideas Come to Us When We Are Relaxed

Have you ever experienced coming up with a great idea or solution while you’re taking a shower?

This, like traveling, has to do with being distracted. Instead of focusing 100% of your brain power on coming up with a solution to something, you simply relax. You are no longer thinking about the problem since you’re doing something else. Walking is another activity that increases creativity!

Harvard researcher and psychologist Shelley H. Carson says, “a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

Sometimes this distraction is a five-minute coffee break, other times it’s a week long vacation. Getting in a relaxed state is a great way to give your mind the ability to come up with solutions and ideas.

8. It Reminds You to Get the Most Out of Every Day

I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling I want to squeeze the most life out of every single day. I like to get up early and see as much as I can, only stopping for the occasional breaks to replenish my energy.

I’m guessing, you probably want to see as much as possible as well. You might only visit a certain place once in your lifetime so making the most of your experience is important.

When we are traveling and filling each day with as much as possible you realize how much time you waste during your normal daily activities. How much time do you spend on social media? How much time do you spend watching TV?

Time is one thing you can never get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Treating each day with importance and getting the most out of every day is a great lesson that travel can teach us.

9. You Will Have Renewed Energy and Positivity

Although you might feel like you have some catching up to do, taking a vacation will boost your morale. When you come back you’ll be ready to take on challenges because of your renewed energy.

According to one study, small business owners who took a vacation experienced 82% increase in post-trip job performance. Yet, a two to three-day vacation didn’t have the same effect as one to two-week vacations.

Sometimes you just need to get away for a bit. Do something different. Experience new things. By not focusing on work all the time you’ll actually be more productive when you get back.

As this article says, “the renewed energy and positivity is contagious and can help the entire team be more productive.” That is powerful, especially when you are leading a team. Not only are you boosting your energy, but you’re transmitting that positivity to others on your team. It’s like productivity osmosis!

Happy jumping

Final thoughts

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