Adventure & Exploration

2014 Trends in Travel - Whale Shark

As our world becomes more accessible the scope to explore and experience new cultures expands—but with so many destinations, where to begin?

I interviewed Lonely Planet’s Asia-Pacific spokesperson, Chris Zeiher to find out.

Where does your research suggest Australians will be travelling in 2014?

One of the consistently bestselling guidebooks in Australia recently has been Lonely Planet’s Japan, which indicates that many Australians will be travelling there in 2014. A combination of affordable airfares on low-cost carriers, a favourable exchange rate and a resurgence in popularity due to the destination’s post-disaster recovery are all significant contributing factors to Japan’s current popularity with Australians.

Traditionally popular destinations such as New Zealand, Indonesia (specifically Bali) and Europe remain high on Australians “must visit” list for 2014 and we’ll see significant volumes of Aussies travelling to these destinations. However, within Europe some of the itineraries are changing where some of the best value destinations can now be found in Mediterranean Europe. Therefore we’ll be seeing significant Australian traveller numbers visiting the likes of Greece, Spain and Portugal in 2014.

Additionally, South America – particularly Brazil – should receive significant volumes of Australian arrivals, who’ll be attending events such as the FIFA World Cup.

New York City, the world’s most-visited city, continues to be on top of many Australians lists and the demand for information and content to the Big Apple is at record levels. Additionally Lonely Planet has experienced unprecedented demand for content to Hawaii which has emerged as a great beach and family holiday alternative to Southeast Asia.

What travel trends are emerging in 2014?

With the recent political changes in Myanmar (Burma) and the relaxation of traveller restrictions to this destination, the more intrepid Australian travellers have this country on top of their “must visit” list. Tour companies such as Intrepid Travel have also recently introduced small group tours of Myanmar (Burma) assisting those who may not want to go it alone.

Demand on content to Cambodia and Laos has also spiked as those travelling to Vietnam are now wanting to venture further afield and border-hop to these nations. The rise of “voluntourism” (where a traveller participates in some form of volunteering whilst in destination) amongst Australian travellers is another contributing factor in the rise of popularity of these countries.

Domestically, Tasmania is now the best-selling of our Australian guidebook suite, surprisingly outselling our product to Sydney and Melbourne. Tasmania offers travellers a fascinating and diverse self-contained travel experience which is easily accessed by road, and where some of Australia’s most spectacular scenery and culinary experiences can be had.

Which destinations present the most unique photo opportunities?

For grandeur and scale we’d suggest the 1000km stretch of The Great Australian Bight where cliff upon cliff snaps Australia off like a broken cracker. For those off to New Zealand, the titanic kauri forests of Waipoua Forest in Far North of the North Island will inspire. And in Europe, the “lighthouse of the Mediterranean,” Stromboli, Italy – one of the active volcanic islands of the Aeolian Islands – offers some great action shots as it belches regular explosions of dust and steam.

For a unique wildlife photo opportunity we’d suggest swimming with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, which can reach up to 12m in length in The Maldives. As the whale shark’s diet consists purely of plankton, snorkelling and photographing these beasts the size of a bus can be done in safety.

What are the Top 5 mistakes people make when booking travel?

1. Not researching your destination

To avoid getting ripped off whilst you’re away, or falling for a fake photo of a hotel on a website, or putting yourself in unnecessarily risky situations, it’s essential for travellers to research where they’re thinking of travelling, and finding out what to avoid. We’d also advise that travellers need to be abreast of current travel warnings as posted on Smart Traveller (smarttraveller.com.au) to ensure they’re across any risks in their arrival destinations. Lonely Planet’s travellers’ forum Thorntree (lonelyplanet.com/thorntree) is another great resource for those wanting to liaise directly with other travellers about a destination.

2. Check your baggage allowance

Baggage allowances vary from airline to airline. Be sure that, especially if you’re transferring between carriers, to familiarise yourself with the baggage weight allowance on your ticket to ensure you’re not stung by an exorbitant excess baggage bill. Many airlines are now strictly enforcing cabin baggage allowances and weighing all hand luggage on check in. Checking this information and packing to these allowances will avoid unnecessary expense and embarrassment.

3. Check visa requirements

Some countries do require a visa to enter the country, which needs to be approved and paid for prior to departure. Often this involves sending your passport to a consulate and can take weeks to organise. Ensure all your visas are applied for in ample time prior to your departure date.

4. Check validity on your passport

Some countries require a minimum time prior to the expiry date on your passport (eg six months). Again, ensure that you’ve researched the entry requirements for the country you’re visiting and check your passport validity prior to applying for any visa or international travel.

5. Allow time between connecting flights

If you’re booking your own connecting flights on separate tickets, ensure that you’re allowing a minimum of two hours between connecting flights. Often the process of collecting bags, clearing customs, changing terminals and checking in with the new airline will be a part of the transfer process and this needs time. Also check the actual physical location of your connecting airline, as you may find that your connection is at a city’s alternative airport and a transfer between these terminals is required.

What culture and nature events top the list for 2014?

India’s cleanest state Sikkim tops the list of our Best Regions to visit in 2014. Sikkim’s emphasis on sustainable community based tourism and ecofriendly policies ensures this gorgeous pocket of the planet will remain unspoiled and able to be enjoyed by all. Organic farming is the new mantra in Sikkim with the region aiming to become a fully organic state – this results in travellers being able to sample gunk-free produce throughout the marketplaces and food halls in the region.

In a year dominated by big sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the Winter Olympic Games in Russia and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, it’s destinations such as Sweden that are emerging as the cultural hotspots to visit in 2014. Sweden’s largest northern city, Umea, is the European Capital of Culture for 2014 and a good reason to head north from Stockholm or Goteborg. The pop-culture appeal of this destination, spearheaded by the popularity of chilly Swedish crime novels, is now drawing a very different kind of traveller to its shores.

Recommended Reading

Perhaps Chris has inspired the explorer in you, or a vacation is long over due—either way you won’t find a more unique or useful guide than Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ (2014 edition). It is rich with ideas for adventure, and exciting destinations. With their wealth of knowledge and global network of guides, Lonely Planet captures the pulse of intrepid passion!

Grab your copy of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 at: http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/world/lonely-planets-best-in-travel-2014/

Photographer Shane Black and two friends, spent two months travelling and teaching photography workshops across America. ‘Adventure Is Calling’ relates a tale of restless spirits on a journey rich with encounters. The video captures the magic of spontaneous exploration and endures a lasting impression of the beauty to be found in nature.

NatureInspiredNY

Instead of deliberating for hours over to-do’s and target objectives for the next 12 months, enjoy a nature inspired fresh start to the new year.

Get Creative with your Goals

Creative people find inspiration in nature, where insight and innovation from ever changing landscapes invite the mind to wander and create.

The paper “Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning Through Nature Immersion” (PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051474) explores the therapeutic benefits of nature on our mind, especially our ability to generate ideas and think outside the box. The study explored Attention Restoration Theory (ART) and suggests that exposure to nature can restore prefrontal cortex-mediated executive processes such as selective attention, problem solving, inhibition, and multi-tasking. These attributes are conducive to productivity, which is why creative people tend to be more prolific, and accomplish more of their goals.

Combine a natural setting with a stroll, to optimise creativity. Merlin Coverley posits that walking and writing are one activity in his book: “The Art of Wandering”. So, if you are feeling intimidated or uninspired by your new years resolutions seek inspiration and enlightenment with a walk in nature.

Author of “The Artists Way”, Julia Cameron is another advocate of walking for writing sake. In her book: “The Sound of Paper” Cameron recommends cultivating creative habits including walking in nature and writing three pages of longhand first thing in the morning, to raise awareness, presence of mind and coax creative thoughts to the surface.

For the athletically inclined, perhaps a session of parkour performed in a natural setting would appeal. The discipline involves free running, functional and adaptive movements in and around objects. By navigating obstacles individuals are challenged to think creatively, and stay alert, improving sensory perception, cognitive reflex and response. Parkour Generations is a professional organisation that offers coaching and camps on Parkour. They have also helped introduce the sport to schools, teaching children the art of play and creative problem solving, effectively boosting confidence, attention and innovation in students.

Make your Goals Meaningful

Don’t let unfinished or urgent business dictate the tone and content of your goals.

A new year signals opportunity for change and growth, but many who set resolutions fail to reach their goals—why? If you take a look at the statistics a common theme emerges, people set abstract or impersonal objectives, or are motivated by external pressures and material things, lack the inspiration, conviction and connection that empowers change and drives action. Suggesting that goals are more sustainable when the motivation has personal meaning, and deep value to the individual. In other words, choose goals that inspire you, and engage your unique abilities, interests and values. A great place to start is by asking value-centred questions, and using the past to inform the future—reflecting on last years achievements and missed opportunities, you open your mind to consider ways to improve and take advantage of the possibilities that lay ahead.

For example lets take the goal to lose weight, what’s your motivation? To look good or to improve your health? When you own the reasons behind your goals they will mean more to you! For a lifestyle approach to health checkout Mark Sisson’s website MarksDailyApple.com. It is a treasure trove of resources based on ancestral knowledge, with a flexible, contextual and evolving tone to reflect the latest insights—offering information that relates to every person, whatever their goals. Mark has written a great post to help get you started: “11 Questions to Ask Yourself at the Start of a New Year!”

I hope this encourages you to discover the creative inspiration of nature, to fully explore your dreams, and to set goals that have the greatest meaning to you!

Seek Adventure. Save Wildlife.
Chief Editor Bare Essentials ~ Inga Yandell

Thank’s for sharing our passion to explore the earth in all its forms, the wild and rare, the strange and stunning—everything that makes nature wonderful!

With the season for giving upon us, so we begin to ponder which will make the most meaningful gifts? Of course, we could settle for generic stocking stuffers, practical or impersonal presents, which imply we are time-poor and unable to give what we bought deeper thought.

I suggest another solution, one that simplifies but deepens the value of giving.

Give the gift of inspiration and impact. Look to nature and you will find there are many wild wishes that impart a deeper meaning and value beyond the season.

There is something in nature for everyone, it’s virtues and wonders profit us all. By preserving, exploring and celebrating it’s beauty our generosity can have a profound impact: we can help save or discover a species, inspire our young to be curious and care about conservation, fuel a passion to explore new places, and have unforgettable encounters, the potential of our wild wishes are truly endless. Here are few ideas, perhaps some will speak to you.

Donate to a wildlife foundation and help fund a conservation initiative, research project/expedition or welfare program for your favourite animal, botanical species, or habitat. Some of my personal favourites include:

Panthera: 100% of donated funds are used in the field, and you can directly contribute to any of their projects which protect big cats worldwide through science, community conservation, habitat restoration, wildlife corridors and education.

You may also wish to explore National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative, a partner of Panthera dedicated to raising global awareness for endangered cats.

Tolga Bat Hospital: run entirely by volunteers your funds will help maintain this incredible sanctuary. Tolga acts as a nursery for orphaned fruit bats (deforestation has fragmented much of their forest home), a hospital for injured or infected bats (fencing and parasites are killing-off these vital pollinators), and an educational center (children and families can feed and interact with the bats, learning about the species and how to help save them).

Polar Bears International: science and education are at the heart of PBI’s approach and they highlight countless ways to contribute and get involved through actions and activities such as: expeditions/tours of the Arctic, volunteer opportunities, fundraising campaigns, symbolic adoptions, classroom courses, Q/A with scientists in the field and conservation checklists to help ‘Save Our Sea Ice’ and Green Your Holidays.

Vital Ground: here you can help sustain a whole ecosystem, ensuring land for all it’s creatures. Creating wildlife corridors through land acquisition of key habitats, and promoting community conservation to benefit land owners and their wild occupants.

Sponsor Science and support stewardship by investing in our wild future.

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation: donations to the ASC are in essence a gift for future generations, and an investment in the education, experience and scientific exploration of nature. This unique collaboration between scientists and outdoor enthusiasts provides opportunities which make scientific knowledge accessible to all, including guided outings and educational resources.

Snow Leopard Trust: the majestic snow leopard is both beautiful and elusive this makes studying the species difficult without the aid of camera traps and GPS collars. Like many non-profits the Trust relies on donations to fund their field projects and to purchase equipment essential to their research. We can help sponsor their work and fund a future for the snow leopard, as knowledge of the species is what’s needed to implement effective strategies for their conservation.

Cheetah Conservation Fund: the fastest land animal is running a race against extinction, but with our support this incredible feline can finish in first place. Once again science plays a key role, and the CCF are world leaders in cheetah research. Sparking interest in the cheetah and getting people involved with their conservation through various initiatives that revolve around education—from internships to school projects and encounters with animal ambassadors like Chewbaaka (who sadly passed on in April 2011) who helped connect people with the cause. To support CCF, consider donating to Chewbaaka’s memorial fund, sponsoring a resident cheetah (the cost of care for these animals is not cheap and every contribution counts), or a livestock guard dog (by protecting livestock we can encourage farmers to coexist with cheetahs).

The International League of Conservation Photographers: there is an enormous need for evidence of what is happening to our planet. There is no better way to awaken social conscience than through powerful imagery; imagery that is made with outstanding skill and conviction and that has the necessary credibility to make a believable statement about the state of our planet. Why not sponsor a specific project, the iLCP invest in research expeditions and conservation programs around the world. Biodiversity is paramount to a flourishing earth so valuing every ecosystem equally (as iLCP does) is important to the preservation of wild places.

Rewilding Europe: aims to rewild one million hectares of land by 2020, creating 10 magnificent wildlife and wilderness areas of international quality. With special focus on Europe’s huge areas of abandoned land, and on providing a viable business case for wild nature. Make a wish to make Europe a wilder place, with much more space for wildlife, wilderness and natural processes. Donate to Rewilding Europe and support their efforts to bring back the variety of life for us all to enjoy, and to explore new ways for people to earn a fair living from the wild.

The Watermen Project: men and women who volunteer their breath-hold skills to assist scientists in their research on large marine animals. These apex predators are declining rapidly. Founded by William Winram an IUCN Ocean Ambassador, underwater photographer and freediving word-record holder, the overall arching objective of the project is to help prepare, mentor, guide and motivate future generations to act as either leaders or supporters to the mission of protecting our oceans. I had the fortune of speaking with William recently and learned of his hopes for the project, which included sponsorships for motivated individuals to join expeditions and have the opportunity to gain working knowledge of marine life. Funds are sorely needed to sustain and expand the project, we can make this happen. I encourage you all to explore the site for the watermen are doing some truly wonderful work and provide diving lessons, expeditions and other means of getting involved.

Ps. William’s film ‘Great White Shark 3D’ is now showing in IMAX theatres around the world, why not take the family on an epic underwater adventure this Christmas?

GreatWhiteShark3D