The Travel Connoisseur

Being a solo traveller at heart, family tourism is not exactly the Travel Connoisseur’s milieu. In fact, it’s an area he avoids as best he can. He has never understood parents who carry their jet-lag devastated babies halfway around the world to places best known as honeymoon destinations, and then throw all sense of adult propriety out the window.   

Screaming children and spoiled teenagers are enough to ruin TTC’s wonderful world of elegant travel, but he finds it’s often their loving parents who are the real problem. On a recent flight from San Francisco to Dubai, one lady decided to turn a First Class suite into a baby changing room. In order not to disturb her dear sleeping husband, her choice fell on the suite located right across the aisle from TTC. It happened once. It happened twice.

Prefers calm solitude to multigenerational group chaos

On the third occasion during the 16-hour flight, as the volume of the tot’s protests began to overtake Anna Netrebko performing “O Mio Babbino Caro” in his headphones, and the distinctive odour of the procedure became stronger than TTC’s vintage Eau Noire, the poor sleepless traveller roared from the darkness of his own enclosed suite, “Enough!” Seconds later, two flight attendants hurried over to usher mommy and offspring into a lavatory to complete the ritual. Their paterfamilias, meanwhile, continued to sleep peacefully as TTC was promptly presented with another bubbly flute, beaded with condensation. Evidently, First Class cabins are too small to be shared with travelling families. Needless to say, on the ground TTC steers away from family resorts.

He also has the school break schedule of major travelling nations memorised by heart. When, despite careful planning, he still happens to check in to a hotel during those adolescent-friendly times, his pre-arrival requests become focused solely on acquiring the quietest room possible – one which does not interconnect to create any larger suites. Evidently TTC is not the only one who prefers calm solitude to multigenerational group chaos, with several hotels around the world appreciating the need for a dedicated space for mature clientele.

At a Muscat resort on his last trip, TTC was pleased to discover a quiet, adults-only seafront swimming pool, which proved to be an oasis favoured not only by him but also by a pair of Italian celebrity fashion designers. In this sanctuary, they enjoyed nothing but the perfect sound of the crashing waves, all day long. It was on a visit to Cuba a couple of years ago that TTC went even further, booking himself in for a week at an entirely adults-only resort in Varadero. The absence of mobile phone connectivity and barely any Wi-Fi meant that he could enjoy the ringing silence from the moment he arrived.

The first three days seemed as blissful as can be as TTC spent up to 16 hours sleeping off the jet lag, either in his room or by the sea. Eventually, though, he began to wonder about the absence of any other guests anywhere around the resort during the day. Most seemed to emerge at sunset, the time when the jet-lagged TTC was walking back to his bungalow. On the fourth night, having adjusted to the Caribbean time zone, he decided to stay awake to discover what Varadero nights were like.

Days of sleeping by the sea and nights of fuzzy parties were fun

By midnight it became amply clear why he was the only person on the beach during the day. By sundown, the resort turned into one large nightclub, with sultry Cuban dancers, flashing lights and loud music. The wild tropical party went on until sunrise – explaining also the mystery of the slightly odd, nightclub-friendly menu selection he’d noticed at breakfast. In most guests’ cases, this was the last meal of the day rather than the first one.

Days of sleeping by the sea and nights of fuzzy parties were fun, but it was about the least relaxing vacation he had ever taken. Plus, he found that the frivolousness of the over-18 clientele at the resort was not to his taste, either. When the week was out, TTC packed up and made his way to a more traditional grand hotel in Trinidad de Cuba. To his surprise, he felt right at home once again, surrounded by mommies, daddies and their ruddy-faced kids.Well-behaved ones, of course.

Holidays Hobbyists

For Active Adventurers

  • SURF
    Just two hours from Sydney, Surf Camp Australia is designed for surfers of all levels and teaches paddling, standing up, riding the waves and surf  etiquette. Later, kick back in the purpose-built Surf Camp a short walk from the beach, with a swimming pool, hammocks and Aussie barbecues in the evenings.
    On Hawaii’s Big Island, active types can pedal along white sand beaches, traverse lava fields or ascend volcanoes on Ride & Seek and Big Island Bike Tours’ cycling adventure. Take the adrenaline rush up a notch with a pit stop for cliff-jumping, then soak in the naturally heated tide pools of Kapoho.

  • WALK
    Hike the picturesque peaks of the Caucasus in Georgia, through alpine meadows, over roaring rivers and along green valleys with Walks Worldwide’s Where Europe meets Asia trip Gape at the breathtaking views atop the 3,430m Atsunta Pass before returning to the capital, Tbilisi, for a spot of sightseeing.

For Wellness Seekers

    Get off the grid at The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu (one week all-inclusive from AED 25,000; 001-310-457 8700, theranchmalibu. com) where there’s no phone signal or Wi-Fi, allowing you to live in the moment without the distractions of technology. The daily bootcamp features a routine of sustainable activity including group hiking, yoga sessions and fitness classes, after which the last thing on your mind will be sitting in front of a computer screen.

    Detox your body and mind at The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu

  • YOGA
    Set in the Himalayan foothills in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, Vana Malsi Estate (?ve-night retreat from AED 6,850; 0091-135-391 1111, is a modern ashram-cum-spa retreat sitting on 21 acres of forested land. Activities include private and group yoga, hiking, om chanting and spa treatments. Vana doesn’t follow a particular school of yoga but goes back to the roots of the science and includes body postures (aasan), meditation (dhyan), breath control (pranayam) and nutrition to help guests de-stress and recharge.

    Complement a yoga session with natural therapies at Vana Malsi Estate

For Environmentalists

    Enjoy up-close encounters with mountain gorillas in the lush greenery of their natural Ugandan habitat while aiding conservation efforts with The Great Projects (13 nights from AED 14,080; 0044-208-885 4987, Volunteers work with local communities on tree-planting and reforestation efforts in and around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a sanctuary that is home to half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as assisting in a pedal-powered film session to educate remote schools and communities about the importance of conservation.

    Spot gorillas in the wild while helping with conservation efforts in Uganda

    Help replant coral reefs in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, with the Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (two weeks all- inclusive from AED 6,140; 0060-198- 50 5412, where you’ll be taught scientific diving techniques and methods for planting corals and rebuilding a reef alongside scientists. Also on the cards: turtle and shark conservation, which includes patrolling the beaches to protect adult turtles, eggs and hatchlings – then dive with them off Pom Pom Island

For Creative Types

    For those who like to make a song and dance about their travels, Cuba is the ideal spot. Get caught up in the rumba of Havana, join in salsa classes in Trinidad then learn to play traditional Cuban music and record your own track with local musicians in Santiago de Cuba with Responsible Travel’s Cuba music & dance holiday (nine days from AED 5,510; 0044-1273-82 3700, Both adults and little ones will be wowed by the colourful architectures, vintage cars, Latin beats and friendly locals.

    Trinidad in Cuba is a vibrant place to practise your dance moves

    Get snap happy in Marrakech with Creative Escapes’ Morocco photo tour (?ve days from AED 5,195; 0044-207-111 1293,, which takes in the bustling souks, Atlas Mountains, traditional Berber villages and gardens of Yves Saint Laurent’s
    home, with a team of experts offering live photography demonstrations, creative tuition and challenging assignments for all ages and levels.
    Put brush to canvas on an Andalucian painting holiday with Authentic Adventures (seven nights from AED 7,830; 0044-1453- 82 3328, in the village of Alajar, with its rolling pastures, charming cobble-stone squares and stone houses with wrought-iron balconies and ancient doorways. Paint under the shade of an oak tree, with tips and guidance from professional tutors, and beam with pride, glass of bubbles in hand, at the informal exhibition of your work at the end of the trip.

For Food Enthusiasts

  • FARM
    For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, working on a farm and helping with the harvest is a great way to give back to the earth. World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms ( arranges volunteer placements around the world where you can learn aboutseed sowing, composting, gardening, wood cutting, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing and grape-, cheese- and bread-making in return for food and board with the local host, all while helping to build a sustainable community – a great lesson for older kids.
    If cooking is a passion, take it to the next level with an apprenticeship with a chef on your next holiday. Learn the tricks of the trade on an Italian or Mediterranean cooking course with Tuscookany (one week from AED 12,500; 0044-7039-40 0235,, where you’ll prepare organic meals with local chefs, learning about the ingredients and traditions surrounding the dishes as well as food presentation and grape pairings.

    Learn the tricks of the trade with ravioli- making sessions with Italian chefs in Tuscany

Lazy, hazy, crazy daze


Cape Byron Light. Opposite, from top: shop sign in Nimbin; Byron Bay is a surfing hotspot.

It’s a two-hour drive south from Brisbane Airport to New South Wales’ Byron Bay, the eastern-most point of mainland Australia. We drove down the M3 Pacific Motorway, turning left at Surfers Paradise onto the Gold Coast Highway because we wanted a taste of the fabled GC. Such as it was. Sadly, the relentless line of towering apartment blocks disfigured the landscape and minimised the driving experience, so it was a relief to arrive at our destination, where the only high-rise building was Cape Byron Light, a 23m tall lighthouse commissioned in 1901.

Byron Bay

When James Cook anchored HMS Endeavour in the bay in 1770, he named it after fellow English-man, circumnavigator John Byron, who was also the grandfather of poet Lord Byron, a man famous for his well-tuned disregard for convention and reputedly the first in 1810 to swim across the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. His spirit lives more easily in Byron Bay than the circumnavigator’s. The area is a beguiling mix of surf and saffron, offering more ways of taking the road less travelled than you can shake a stick at. English settlers arrived here in the late 1800s, naming its streets after iconic figures in English literature: Wordsworth, Keats, Marvell, Shelley, Browning. My newborns seem very tired after a long trip although I have bought the best double stroller for infant and toddler for them. Hope they like it since it took me a while to look for these strollers on the internet.

Longboarders discovered Byron Bay’s fine breaks in the 1960s and the surfies are still pursuing the dream, their well-used Hiaces and Transits crammed with boards, mattresses, cooking gear, clothes. Hippy culture arrived soon after the longboarders. The 1973 Aquarius Festival, held in nearby Nimbin, well and truly established the area’s “alternative” reputation. About 1.7 million people visit Byron Bay each year, joining the town’s 9000 residents. A number are students attending the area’s many educational institutions. When we visited, the vegetable and fruit section in the town’s main supermarket was a polyglot meeting place. Students wore the compulsory dress of enlightened locals: dreadlocks, baggy Turkish trousers, beanies, beads, ankle bracelets. Later we encountered two in similar attire on Jonson St, the town’s main drag. The man was Spanish, the woman American. They were breaking up loudly and publicly. “You’re not good enough for me!” shrieked the guy as he stomped off.

A few metres away was the Byron Community Centre, plastered with notices offering an abundance of New Age therapies and activities, including “a journey of enchantment into the sacred sonic blueprint of the Universe”. We chose another path to enlightenment by taking advantage of the daily free tour of the Byron Bay Brewery. It would have been churlish to walk away without buying a sampling tray of beers from the Buddha Bar, of which the liquorice-flavoured Billy Goat Dark Lager was the stand-out.The brewery complex also houses a cinema and a meditation and massage centre.

As with most of Byron Bay, there’s something for everyone. Sampling the 50 or so restaurants and cafes in town would take a month. They range from organic vegetarian offerings to eateries in which the music thumps as loudly as the surf outside. And there’s the lighthouse, a magnet for Lycra-clad get-fitters, who seem to do the return journey as a daily constitutional. Our trip was rewarded by an encounter with a metre-long eastern water dragon.

A country gem

It eyed us from beside the track on the way down to the Pass Cafe, where our cool beer was paired with the sight and sound of kookaburras in the trees overhead. We visited a number of attractions in the surrounding area too. The small coastal settlement of Brunswick Heads has a charming collection of arty shops, anchored by an excellent coffee house. Bangalow is a country gem, with a main street full of character and lovely buildings, including a huge specialty tea shop. Further on is Lismore with its well-appointed art gallery and museum. Laid-back Nimbin is a must-visit for its chilled-out vibe, people-watching and shop windows displaying puns such as “stoned-ground coffee”.

It was different at Mullumbimby’s Crystal Castle meditation centre. Its diverse offerings include a superb range of crystals, a huge authentic Tibetan prayer wheel, an extensive range of ambient music and guide-to-life literature, and rainforest walks. Tarot reading and clairvoyance sessions were doing a brisk trade at corporate rates, not to mention the aura readings. Away from all that, the tranquil grounds were calming and uplifting.

A few kilometres out of Byron Bay is the rambling Byron Arts and Industry Estate, a vibrant hive of arts, crafts, fashion, furniture and more. We came away with two items: a chopping block bought at a shop run by a Kiwi plying his trade in an airy factory that’s occasionally visited by wandering snakes, and a quote from 14th-century Persian philosopher and mystic Hafez, relayed to us by the purple-clad owner of a store stocking Indian goods: “Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.” Byron Bay also caters to those keen on more conventional tourist activities: whale watching, scuba diving and snorkelling, ballooning, boat cruises. Happiness may well find you here.

10 Great ways to celebrate


Ascending the park’s 14,259-foot crown is a rite of passage for scramblers. But you don’t have to join the conga line: Camp at the Boulderfield (the National Park System’s highest designated campsite) and beat the crowds with an early summit. For a more moderate adventure, take a day trip along the same trail to a midway point like Chasm Lake or the Boulderfield.


Anglers in the know flock to the Estes Park area for a chance to land one of four resident trout species—brown, brook, rainbow, and cutthroat. For excellent fly fishing with a side of solitude, hike to Thunder Lake from the national park’s Wild Basin area, or fish roadside on the Big Thompson River, just east of the village.


Nothing caps off a day in the wild like a plate of sweet, fruity goodness. And nobody
does it better than Estes Park Pie Shop, which dishes up award-winning, overstuffed slices of triple berry, apple ginger peach, caramel apple pecan, and peanut butter (among many other flavors).


Estes Park and Rocky are known for their wildlife—large groups of elk are often seen sauntering right through town. From the village to the park you can also spot bighorn sheep, coyotes, bears, and, if you’re lucky, moose. Increase your chances by heading out in the early morning or cruising for wildlife in the evening hours.


Join the Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s special year of classes and events in 2015. There’s something for everyone: guided wildflower hikes, campfire history tales, photography workshops, survival skills seminars, and much more. Check the schedule:


Camping options range from the fairly civilized (try one of 14 developed campgrounds in Estes Park or Rocky) to the undeniably wild. For the ambitious: Try “The Big Loop,” a 3- to 5-day, 26-mile trek from Bear Lake to Grand Lake and back around. This incredible journey will take you through all three major ecological zones of the park: montane, subalpine, and alpine tundra.


Colorado has a solid reputation for craft beer, but don’t stop there. Estes Park has three brewery tasting rooms for post-adventure suds, and also offers a local winery, a distillery tasting room, and the largest whiskey selection in Colorado, including many Colorado-made bottles, at the historic Stanley Hotel.


After a long day of playing in the mountains, Estes locals head one place to kick back: Ed’s Cantina. The lively restaurant serves up fresh Mexican plates (try the 14er, a huge burrito stuffed with steak, chorizo, and bacon) and robust margaritas. After a drink or two, you’ll fit right in.


Don’t have backcountry campsite reservations? Head to the Backcountry Office first thing in the morning to try your luck with available permits. Hikers can get a true wilderness experience, whether 2 or 12 miles in, by securing a site away from civilization.


Our favorite route across this unique ecosystem: Park at Milner Pass and hike the 4.5-mile Mt. Ida Trail, which almost immediately emerges above treeline. Here, the trail gives way to more difficult terrain, so be mindful of the route. The trek offers excellent wildlife-spotting opportunities (look for elk, marmots, and golden eagles) on the way to the 12,889-foot summit, which treats hikers to huge vistas across the park.



French photographer Floriane De Lassée has travelled across some of the world’s most rural landscapes, from East Africa to South America; in search of subjects for her ongoing photo series, How Much Can You Carry?
Beginning her journey in 2012 in Ethiopia, the series has so far taken the 37-year-old around 14 different countries across four continents, where she has photographed 70 subjects. Her set was published in 2014 into a book, available in both English and French. As part of the shoot De Lassée travelled with her boyfriend, Nicholas Henry, from Ethiopia to Rwanda, Madagascar, Namibia, Turkey, Nepal, India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Bolivia and Brazil.

The first question has to be; how did this idea come about? When was the moment you realised you wanted to travel the world, shooting pictures of things people balance on their heads?


I wanted to give another breath to my ongoing work, Inside Views , which was mainly located in megacities. I was seeking something new. In 2011, my boyfriend asked me to travel with him around the world for 14 months. I thought, why not?, and said yes; without really thinking about where we would end up, and whether it would be interesting for my photography. Our first stop was Ethiopia, where I was struck by the sand and blinding sun — it was the exact opposite of what I was expecting or looking for.

Yet being somewhere completely new and unexpected, forced me to open my eyes and really find a decent idea for my photography, an idea that was far away from my past projects. I chose some of the destinations we visited, including Istanbul, Kyoto, New Caledonia and Bolivia, while some were Nicholas’ choice. But I didn’t realise that Ethiopia would be totally outside my artistic reference. When we started our African tour [four months through Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar and Namibia], I was pretty lost.


So this series, How Much Can You Carry? , initiated in Ethiopia, is totally different from what I’m used to shooting. Because I had no idea of where the project would end up, I decided to go for a run every morning. On these sandy roads, I passed by courageous women who were carrying heavy loads to or from the market. Exchange is their only way to survive, and I wanted to pay homage to these women, who display such impeccable strength and balance.

Were you inspired by any other artists in the way you shot the portraits?

No, it came from a scratch in my mind, and from what I saw with my own “tourist” eyes. Though later on, after I put the series together, I discovered these images of Nigerian truckers and their trucks [by Roberto Neumiller]. Those spoke to me a lot.

What would you want people to take away from this set?


At first sight, How Much Can You Carry? is a tribute to the bearers of life — those whose lives are heavy, and where smiles and laughter become the keys to a liveable existence. But it can be read on two levels. The first refers to these modern caryatids [sculpted female figures used as architectural support, in place of a column or a pillar].
The second, more metaphorical, talks about the various weights we all carry, whether they are physical or psychological like the weight of tradition, legacy, education, family, or of social difference. I feel the series can be understood by all, ranging from those on the deep roads of Africa, to trendy art collectors in the big cities. Everybody can be inspired, because everybody has a weight to carry. Now that the series is completed and a book has been published, I’ll take a step back — and see that this is not so much the “burden” that matters, but the way we have to carry it and who can support us.

Travelling the world for this shoot, what did you learn that surprised you?

I think everywhere in the world, people carry things. They carry wood to keep warm, water to drink and to keep clean, animals such as goats to eat (meat, milk and often blood too) seeds (like wheat or quinoa) — and even children on their shoulders. As I understand it, the ratio of men to women in Africa (and in a lot of places around the globe) who carry these big loads, is around one to eight.

In most cases, did your subjects understand what it was that you were trying to achieve with the images?

It depended on the level of education in each region. But ultimately, it’s not important that everybody understood; at least if they had fun, it was already a pleasure for all of us to share the moment. The kids, who were less shy, approached first, and then the parents followed. It’s very uncommon for them to have crazy people like me coming into a village; and setting up a backdrop in the middle of nowhere — before shooting images like the one with four goats on the head, for example.

My local assistants received good remuneration, and my models were “paid” with essential goods. As the photos are in digital, I could also give all of them a small print, to keep in their homes. Few tourists ever offer that sort of moment and souvenir to them. In opposition to the tourists who pass by and “grab their soul” with a photo, I first spent some time in each place. After few days, most were happy to see that I was doing this for art. And that most of all, I was seeking to give them dignity. They looked proud to take their own images away with them

Did you get any sense that the act of carrying something so immense on your head might be become extinct?

No, I don’t think so. People will always carry things, for many decades more, because in a lot of remote areas there will never be roads.

Which of your photographic subjects do you remember the most? Do you have a favourite?

Anga from Indonesia, [left] is one of my favourites. She looks like she has a gigantic girly dinnerware set on her head. But if you look closer, you can see she’s got such a strong and sad gaze. That seems to signify the weight of responsibility she may have in her numerous family roles, cleaning the dishes or clothes. She was so brave.

I would imagine many of them asked if you wanted to try balancing what they had to balance on your own head! How did that go?

Of course, I could not carry what they carry, for sure — but they had a lot of fun, with me trying to carry water jars. To tell you the truth, in some cases, I helped them out with a rope, and then I’d delete the string digitally. My aim was to give them back their pride for a time — but certainly not to break their necks.

How did your shoot make you reflect on your own world? It’s hard not to look at your photos and think, “If I had to limit my possessions to those I could physically carry, what would they be?”

A great question! I had a friend in Germany who had a tiny car, and each time he moved to a new place, he had to fit everything into his car. It was hard. Then he had a girlfriend and he had to remove more and more each time, to fit her in too. Maybe somehow my inspiration came from him too. We are consuming more and more in our modern world; but at the same time, at least now there are so many websites for sharing and exchanging goods and services instead of buying new ones. Generations before us, you would buy something for life — now you buy, then exchange, and these objects can have hundreds of lives

What were the challenges of this shoot, in terms of setting up your shots and communicating with your subjects? Did you want them to look completely natural or posed?

Their backs were bent sometimes, but always with a straight neck and a concentrated gaze. But mainly, I wanted them to look proud of themselves. The project is universal, we don’t need to speak the same language. As long as I could show them the results in the camera or on my computer, they were happy. In person, they couldn’t always appreciate the results, because I used flash lights. So they needed to come closer to my computer to see.

What gear did you use? Was it tricky to decide on the kind of equipment, and whether to say, shoot in black and white versus colour?

I used black and white between the ages of 14 and 24 years old. It’s essential to attain this knowledge, and to feel the balance and construction of an image. But for me now, to “see” in black and white is a tool. My final result will always be in colour. Concerning the choice of camera, unlike a lot of projects where I still shoot with a large format camera, in this one the results had to be seen immediately by my models and other villagers, so a digital camera was naturally the right choice.

I love the shot, of the child in the red sweatshirt balancing cords of wood — and a baby goat! How did that shot come about?


Aru was the first image of the series, and also my first ever portrait. I was shy at the beginning of the series too, and worried that my photographs were looking nothing like they had in the previous 10 years.

Then I posted this image on my Facebook page, and it was met with such enthusiasm. So thanks to my social networks, I was given the courage to continue in this direction. Thank-you to my friends and followers! Aru is a young Ethiopian girl who makes a living from selling goats and goat meat, milk and blood to the market. Wood is essential for the family to boil, cook and to heat the home. There is less and less wood in their area — and they have to go increasingly far to get some

Do More, Instead of Buy More Money Won’t Last Forever

Happiness is a noble pursuit. Who doesn’t want to be happy? Yet it is this very same goal that can cause us to work against our own happiness. This is most often exhibited when we purchase things.

We often find ourselves clinging to old standbys like “If it lasts/works longer than I can use it more” which we generally think will make us happy. When in reality that same thing being used every day loses its value to us rather quickly.

The biggest questions asked are “how should I spend my money?” This is a very important question, seeing as money (for the average person) is not an unlimited resource.
It is true that money can make you happier, but after all of your needs are met, have you really ever actually been much happier than before?

The Enemy of Happiness Adaptation

Physical objects are the go-to route when spending to achieve happiness, but this path is completely wrong. Studies have shown that by buying physical objects we are actually setting ourselves up to be disappointed. Some objects are however, not at all waste of money and should actually be purchased in order to maintain happiness, such as a good mattress. Good mattresses are essential for back health, and uninterrupted sleep, such as the best mattress for side sleepers would be.
Objects are not always the best route Thi because we adapt. The thing gets used and over time we lose the sense of value that was once attributed to it.
So instead of going out and buying the newest phone model or cutting edge kitchenware, instead contemplate spending that money on trips to special places that interest you. Or even on a small vacation for yourself. It has been proven that those small events are worth more in regards to happiness than buying objects.
Try sitting down and thinking over things you’ve always wanted to do but instead just put off so that you could buy something later. Would you have been much happier for longer if you had instead went and had that experience?
New experiences never get old, unlike objects.

Money Can Buy Happiness Using Money the Right Way

It is entirely possible to use money to achieve happiness. But the question is not in the object, it is in the experience. People who buy something almost always report that their happiness levels associated with that object drop dramatically after a while.

While on the opposite end of the spectrum people who spend their money on experiences almost always report that their happiness with that experience has increased. In a way this shows that we value memories more than money. So we while we are reluctant to spend money on an experience, when we could instead buy something we will use, we almost always end up wishing we had just gone and had our little adventures.
It truly does work against us. The fact that buying an object you can put to use give us less happiness than something you may only experience one time in your life.
The object either becomes disused or starts to become part of the background to our lives, while the memory becomes a part of us. We bring it up in conversation; it ingrains itself in our identity.

●Experience is a part of you
●Material good are separate from your own being

Experience forges Connection Sharing Your Life with Others

One other reason that experiences are the better thing to spend money on would be that they can be shared with others. Even things we once thought of as scary that negatively impacted our past can become lessons in character or a funny story that we share among friends.
In addition you are more likely to forge stronger relationships through shared experience rather than shared possessions. For example, you will have a strong bond with someone who you took a vacation with to go camping, where you will not have a bond like that just because someone you know owns a HGTV and you do too.

●Sharing experiences creates bonds
●Even indirectly shared experiences bring people together
●Forging stronger bond increases your own happiness
●You are less likely to feel negative about others experiences than possessions

Put a Stop to the Comparisons Envy Kills Happiness

Perhaps the worst thing those possessions can do for us, it to give us something to compare to what other people have. Sure when you’re on vacation you might feel jealous of someone flying first class, but it’s nothing when you compare it to someone who has the newer, hotter model of your car.

Ency is a sure-fire way to slowly kill your happiness that is why it can be important to spend less on possessions and more on experiences. You might know someone with an amazing new car, or boat, or TV, but can that same person say that they’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail? Start spending more on memories and you sure as heck could. Don’t waste your money on possessions you don’t really need, instead try getting out there in the world and making memories that truly will taste forever.

A traveler guide to hand luggage


Think about your bag’s main use. If you plan to do a lot of walking, look for a bag with cushioned, mesh-lined straps a good back system and hipbelt. If you’re more likely to use the bag as a city or laptop pack, look for padded sleeves and security features. If you’ll be carrying cameras and lenses, choose a bag that will hold them safely.


Some packs have rucksack straps, others have grab handles or shoulder straps, some offer a combination of all three. One carrying method might be sufficient if you’re only using the bag on the plane; if you plan to use the bag for city touring and walks, you might want more options.


Lighter is generally better for your back but less weight might also mean the bag has fewer comfort-focused features (eg good rucksack back system, padded hipbelt, choice of carrying method). Also, if the bag is heavy when empty, this may effect what else you can pack if your airline has a hand-luggage weight restriction.


Look for good cushioning in the areas that will be used most. If the bag has a zip-away rucksack system, ensure the bag is comfortable when being carried as a rucksack and by its other handles.


Many bags claim to comply with IATA guidelines on allowable cabin baggage size. However, these guidelines are not mandatory and many airlines have their own (smaller) dimension rules. Do some research before buying.


Hand luggage should be user-friendly. Is the main compartment easy to pack? Can you access the pockets quickly? Are the alternative carrying methods easy to use? Do you need all those extra functions or are they just extraneous bells and whistles, taking up weight and space?


Worldwide 45L £45
THE TEST: If you fancy a rucksack but are worried about the straps getting in the way sometimes, try this. Rucksack straps, a hipbelt (cushioned, mesh-lined, two zip pockets) and an airflow back system can be zipped away to leave a streamlined pack. There’s a grab handle so you can haul it onto shelves easily; it would benefit from a shoulder strap though.

On the outside are two wand pockets (ideal for tripods or water bottles), a front zip pocket (large enough for documents, pens etc) and bungee cords. The zipped main bag space has two access points – top and bottom – with drawstring fabric between them, so you can transform it into two compartments. It also has a hydration bladder pouch (which could also take an iPad), a zipped security pocket (big enough for a passport) and a rollaway raincover. At 1.25kg it’s fourth heaviest here. The verdict: A great choice for walkers – though they may not feel the need to hide the straps away in the first place.


AT Lightflite Carry-on £65
THE TEST: First thing: bags in this new travel range from Lowe come with a list of the airlines that accept each model (packed to capacity) as hand luggage. Handy. At 90g, this is the lightest pack here. It has stashaway cushioned, mesh-lined rucksack straps, which – unlike the Craghoppers pack – tuck away into pockets, saving weight on zips and fabric panels. There’s no fancy back system or hip belt but this carry method is only meant for short-term use.

There are also grab handles and a clip-on shoulder strap. At the top is a zip stash pocket with a key clip. There’s one wand pocket on the side and a luggage tag and compression straps so you can make it smaller. A large tamper proof zip enables you to open up the whole inside for easy packing. There are zipped mesh pockets and elasticised straps to hold items down. The verdict: Great value, super lightweight, versatile and easy to pack, though not the most comfy on the back.


Farpoint 40 £80
THE TEST: For an extra £15 you get a similar style bag to Lowe with a slightly more refined rucksack function. This also unzips fully so you can pack it like a suitcase; it also offers two grab handles and a shoulder strap. But there is a proper back system, which is mesh covered for ventilation, making walking more comfortable. This all zips away, which adds weight – at 1.2kg it’s third-lightest on test.

Inside the good-size main compartment there are clippable elasticated straps for securing items and zipped mesh panels (good for dirty washing). On the outside there are front wand pockets that will take a water bottle, a zipped compartment including a key clip (good for tickets, money etc) and compression straps. It also offers two padded sleeves suitable for tablets and laptops (at the same time) and a zip pocket for accessories. The verdict: Versatile, well-featured and good for those carrying laptops or tablets – all for a reasonable weight and good price.


Gear Hauler £130
THE TEST: This pack is similar to the Osprey but slightly lighter (1.15kg; second-lightest on test). It has a large main compartment – though no elasticated straps to hold items down – and a padded compartment for tablets/laptops. It has grab handles and a shoulder strap; there are also hideaway rucksack straps that zip into a front pocket – a nifty design, though having the bag’s front against your back isn’t the most comfortable.

There are compression straps and a self-repair main zip. The front pocket has compartments tailored for phones and pens, a zipped pouch for headphones and a security pocket for a passport/tickets. On one end there’s a generous zipped pocket that’s perfect for dirty/wet clothes or a pair of shoes – though this takes up some space in the main compartment when it’s packed. The verdict: Some nice features, a good weight and the ability to safely carry a laptop or tablet, but the price tag may be a turn off .


Venturesafe 45L £190
THE TEST: Yes, pricey – but this is no ordinary bag, it hides a gamut of security features. It has a built-in slash-proof mesh, and all zips are puncture resistant and interlock for extra security. Above the main zips is a ‘roobar’ – an anchor point on which to hook and lock your zips; it can also be attached to the stainless steel locking cable (for securing to a pole/table), which is covered by fabric so it doesn’t scream ‘I’m valuable!’.

All this adds weight: at 2.4kg, this is the heaviest on test by far. It’s also a good pack. It has compression straps, two wand pockets, a suitcase-like opening for easy packing, internal luggage straps, mesh-zipped panels and lots of space. The back panel unzips to reveal a rucksack back system (best on test): adjustable and ventilated, with a cushioned and mesh-lined hip belt and straps. This does add more weight though, and takes up room inside. The verdict: Heavy and pricey but if you’re worried about security it’s worth the weight.


Tilopa £250
THE TEST: This hardy pack combines the safe carrying of camera equipmentwith a comfy design, suitable for walkers. Built to take an Internal Camera Unit (section dividers for camera lenses; the ICU for this bag is £50), it also has a padded sleeve for a laptop/tablet. An internal aluminium frame helps spread the load, so at 1.9kg, this is second-heaviest here.

There are clips for extra attachments – even skis can be mounted. Zips are heavy duty; some are coated to keep water out. There are side compression straps and a hydration pocket. At the bottom there’s space for wet gear and a raincover, plus a stash pocket. Top lid pockets have specific space for camera memory cards, spare batteries etc, and the hipbelt and back system offer good ventilation and cushioning. Access is through the back panel where there are more pockets. There’s a decent amount of room inside too. The verdict: A hefty price tag, but excellent for photographers who do multi-day walking.

Protect yourself while travel in South America

Latin America is huge and diverse – and seemingly full of health hazards. Take heart though – your biggest risks will be road accidents and (especially in the warmer parts) a short-lived upset stomach. However, it pays to be prepared, so here are some of the hazards that travellers to South America face.

Montezuma’s revenge

The tropical parts of Central and South America have high hit rates for travellers’ diarrhoea. The worst countries in the New World are Mexico and Peru. Along with the ‘simple’ kind of gastroenteritis that burns itself out in 36-48 hours, there are nastier pathogens that spread in the same way – unhygienic food production. These diseases include typhoid and paratyphoid (capsules now protect against both), and bacillary and amoebic dysentery.

In Bolivia, for example, fields may be fertilised with ‘night soil’ (human faeces) that effectively recycles parasites. It’s worth adhering to the ‘peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it’ rule. Raw fish – including ceviche – has been blamed for outbreaks of profuse watery diarrhoea but fish that’s well marinated in lemon is least risky. To avoid tapeworms and worm cysts in the brain, order your steak and pork well-cooked.

Piranhas & candiru

Piranhas and candiru fish are infamous among travellers to South America. Although piranha feeding-frenzies do happen, they are unlikely unless they’ve become trapped in a tiny body of water that is drying out.

Candiru are pencil-lead thin and parasitise other fish; on very rare occasions they try to enter the urethra of male humans taking a swim. Where these fish are common and small boys swim with them, local women are good at winkling them out. Stingrays inhabit the rivers too so watch where you wade.

Chagas disease

This infection may have been the death of Darwin but is more commonly spoken of than experienced. It’s transmitted in the rainforests by assassin bugs, which hurt when they bite. Sleep in a hammock with attached mosquito netting.

Scorpions & spiders


Bark scorpions are particularly dangerous –despite the availability of an antivenom, there are 1,000 fatalities every year

Bark scorpions are particularly dangerous but there is an antivenom so fatalities should be rare and partially depend on getting to a competent clinical facility promptly. There are over 1,000 deaths from scorpion stings in Mexico annually; those who die are mostly local children. Widows, browns and sac spiders should be treated with respect – if they bite, there is usually an area of skin and subcutaneous tissue death.


American ticks come with special health warnings – potentially they can give you one of nine dangerous infections, and American Lyme disease seems to be more malign than the European variant. Keep ticks off. If you find one feeding on you, remove it as soon as possible (pack a tick-removal tool) and flood the wound with pisco or some other strong spirit alcohol.


Tiny biting sandflies can squeeze through mosquito nets and spread an illness that starts as a painless ulcer-like skin lesion. This looks as if it should be itchy or painful but isn’t. It grows and may disappear spontaneously after a month or so. Depending on the form of leishmania, up to half of victims will go on to have a nasty parasitic infection that requires extended hospital treatment.

Prompt diagnosis allows a simpler, more effective cure. Odd ‘sores’ can also turn out to be skin cancers, so show any weird lumps and bumps to a doctor. Keeping covered, wearing repellent and sleeping under an insecticide impregnated net will protect you.


Sleeping in a mosquito net to protect yourself

Malaria is a problem in much of the northern part of South and Central America – read up on your destination. Although the most dangerous forms aren’t present, malaria pills are recommended for many rural destinations. Malaria is only one of many insect-borne diseases on offer in South America so take precautions to avoid bites at all times.

Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a disease that simmers in forest animals and breaks out unpredictably. During outbreaks in South America the authorities sometimes react by instigating mass vaccination, including stopping busses and immunising everyone on board – you’ll need to wave a yellow fever certificate to avoid being stabbed along with everyone else.

Consult the web (eg, to check the current status of your destination. There have been some deaths reported in Brazil (in May 2015) due to yellow fever and there have been nine cases in Peru in the first three months of 2015.

Chikungunya & dengue

Chikungunya now seems to be a big problem in South and Central America and the Caribbean. It’s spread by mosquitoes and causes a disease akin to ‘breakbone’ fever or dengue, which is also a problem locally. Wear repellent at all times.


Snakebite is a significant problem in South America but the scale of the problem is hard to gauge. People most at risk are agricultural workers clearing vegetation. Antivenom may be available at some clinics.


The Americas are home to real vampires: bats that bite mammals, instil anticoagulant and lap the blood; a significant proportion carry rabies. Anyone sleeping out should consider this risk; arranging pre-trip rabies immunisation would be wise. Evidence is growing that a full course of rabies vaccine with a booster gives lifelong immunity. Dogs are less of a rabies risk than in the Old World, but even so there was a rabies death in Chile in 2013 following dog bites.

NEW YORK: I Could Never Get Enough of You

New York City will always be one of my favorite travel destinations. The diverse culture, and fast-paced lifestyle never fail to amaze me. I have been to NYC a lot of times, and I could never get enough of it. The colors, the lights, the places to visit, and the food choices are just so vast, I have always felt that I do not have enough time to explore this big city.
My visit this year was again too short for my enjoyment. Again I stayed over at my cousin’s house – he had always been very generous and had always made me feel at home. My first day is usually spent with him and his family. As usual, they welcome me with a gastronomic feast that would leave me wondering if I was really in New York. This is because I get to eat a great home-cooked meal that transports me back to our home town.
After a lot of catching up I doze off and prepared for my itinerary for my second day in NYC. Although I want to keep things free flowing, I figured it would be nice to have an informal plan about the places I would want to visit, so that I could make sure I would get to go visit them during my trip.
I started off visiting old friends living in the Queens area. They brought me over at this restaurant they have been raving about which is Don Peppe’s. Well, food was really outstanding there, with lots of choices and huge portions, perfect for sharing! The restaurant has a great ambience and pleasant wait staff. I couldn’t have enough of their linguine with white clam sauce, mozzarella with tomato and roasted peppers, and of course their Tiramisu. Truly one happy tummy for me there.
The next day, I decided to go for a run in Central Park. Running there was just so relaxing for me. I just love the view, the trees, the smell, the sights. I am so enamored. Everything about Central Park actually will always be fun for me, including the Whole Foods Market right across. And yes you guessed it right, I stopped by to fill up. In all my trips to New York I never fail to stop by this Whole Foods branch in Columbus Circle. It is just a happy place for me, and why not – every inch of the store is filled with delicious and wholesome food.

I could never get enough of the Big Apple. (Photo Credits: Aurelien Guichard, cc: Some Rights Reserved)

That night, I got invited by an old classmate to watch a Broadway show. Honestly, I would rather go on another food trip, but I figured this is a great cultural experience I should not miss. And I did not regret it.
The next day was one of my most-anticipated days in NYC. I carried on with my quest to find the a welding helmet, and it led me to another New York location, this time in Syracuse. I was lucky enough to be accompanied by one of my good friends in heading over to Haun Welding Supply’s Retail Store. I was like a kid in a candy shop, when I entered the retail store in their office headquarters. I just had to continue my search for the best welding helmet over at their outlet.
The welding supplies found at their store are just so vast, I was so excited to peruse everything there. It is a welder’s paradise!

Not a trip to NYC without strolling at Central Park. (Photo Credits: Nancy Smith, cc: Some Rights Reserved)

Anyway, I was glad to know that they also offer free one-day training seminars in there, and that they likewise offer training courses in their Syracuse branch. That is one thing that I may try in my next visit to the Big Apple.
Of course while in Syracuse, I did not pass up the chance to eat over at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. As a fan of the show Man Vs Food, I made a mental note of visiting this restaurant the next time in New York. And boy was I not disappointed! The ribs were just oh-so-succulent, finger-licking, and to-die-for. The Beer Menu was also very diverse that I had a hard time choosing! For those with allergies, it will be also great to note that they have a gluten-free menu to boot.

The next item on my to-do-list at New York is to, of course go shopping. I figured it would just be weird to go home with only a new welding mask so I headed over at Woodbury Commons and ticked off my shopping list. Again, shopping at this outlet is not for the faint of hearts and those who do not have self-control. I purposely left my credit card at my cousin’s house to make sure I would not go over my shopping budget and my airline’s luggage weight limit restrictions. I do not want to get something there that I could not pay for, so in this particular shopping trip, cash is my mode of payment.
I could say it is one of the best decisions that I ever made because at least, I was limited to just buying what I really needed – new pairs of denims, a nice laptop bag to replace my old one, a wallet, and the dark glasses I have always been wishing for.
Well, as I have always felt every time I am in New York, my stint in the Big Apple was again too short for me to totally enjoy the city. Like I could never get enough of it – its lights, its energy, its people. Before I headed over to Washington to visit another friend, I made another mental note of the places I would want to visit and restaurants I would like to check out the next time I am there. I am certain, that i will be back again.

Snowdonia skyline

FROM CONWY TO NEBO over the Carneddau, Glyderau, Snowdon and the Nantlle Ridge, the route I’ve called the Snowdonia Skyline is one I’d wanted to try for years. Last summer, during a period of settled weather and on a night with a full moon, I finally set out to walk it. Head west then south-west out of Conwy, keep Anglesey to your right, the rest of Wales to your left and carry on climbing those lovely ridges until you get to the other end of the National Park… sound simple?

In principle, it is. But this is also one of the most rewarding 24 hours available to the British walker. Starting in the early evening, I blundered westwards from Conwy town centre. Strangely, although Conwy has a direct path out onto some of the most scenic territory anywhere, the route is positively hidden. But after a couple of missed turns I finally found the route onto the open hill. In front of me lay one of the great concentrations of spectacular mountain ridges in Britain.

Adam and Eve, Tryfan summit, sunrise

Conwy Mountain may be less than 250m high but it feels like a mountain alright, with views down and out to the shimmering Lafan Sands and Anglesey floating above the sea, all in soft evening sunlight. The next five miles or so contain no summits, just a gradual gain of height up to Tal y Fan, the first 2000-footer. But the scenery is magnificent. Sections of the early route reminded me of the first miles of the Lyke Wake Walk, with widening views to town and country as the sun set. Tal y Fan is a curious summit, a rocky spine running east-west above the heathery moor. After that there is a heathery trundle over Foel Lwyd followed by a disconcertingly deep bwlch – the first of many – and the long pull to Carnedd Y Ddelw and then Drum. Anglesey had also now landed again; very quiet.

The ascent of Foel Fras is a dull, long grass slope, so mindless that I counted to 600 plantings of the left foot. You know you are close to the top when you encounter the designers’ only acknowledgement of it as a 3000-foot mountain: a rash of boulders. But the next miles are the easiest on the whole trip, grassy uplands leading to Carnedd Gwenllian and then on to the stone shelter on Foel Grach. By now, I had moonlight, which was reflecting brightly off Yr Elen, a tempting top, but not on the Skyline.

I spent the three darkest hours of the night in my bivvy bag and then moved on as the cold started to seep through. Ahead lay the easy ascent to Carnedd Llewelyn, far left for the summit, then the long tramp to Carnedd Dafydd. From here I needed light and I got it as, slowly, dawn organised itself from somewhere north of Merseyside. I remembered to watch for the steepening ground from Pen Yr Ole Wen, into that gully above Afon Lloer and remembered also to replenish my water supplies. But I had forgotten how slippery the next bit – all wet and dewy grass – could be. I even saw another torch, briefly, but was soon concentrating on trying to use my feet rather than my backside to progress. By the time I reached the track I was thoroughly relieved to be sprain-free, although I now possessed two very wet feet. This was a very low bwlch, but, in front of me, emerging into daylight beyond the A5, was Tryfan. It was 5am and I already had 18 miles and 6000ft of ascent under my feet but in front of me was 2000ft of infinitely varied scrambling on sound rock: the north ridge of Tryfan, served up with a blazing sunrise. My watch told me I ascended in 90 minutes but looking back, it felt like 19. And at the top were Adam and Eve: the best piece of summit design anywhere. Then the swift descent to Bwlch Tryfan and Bristly Ridge… of which I made a pig’s ear, straying left and emerging from there into Great Pinnacle Gap. The presence of discarded tape slings was disconcerting but, in the absence of skeletons and the like, I trusted in the pattern of Snowdonia scrambles: that if you wave your arms about long enough a jug hold will usually appear. Soon the Cantilever came into sight and then – surely the designers put these two on the wrong plinths – a pile of discarded dinosaur torsos at the true summit of Glyder Fach. Castell y Gwynt is another rock feature that looks to have been designed for a summit and then plonked somewhere temporary, so I climbed it. Glyder Fawr lay beyond, a less spectacular summit but a great view to Snowdon. From here, there is a mystery. Pen y Pass is one of the great honeypot sites and Glyder Fawr one of the significant summits. And yet the connecting path, although marked by the odd red paint splash, is a bit scatty. At the bottom a path did coalesce, just in time to run into a fenced-off building site.

From Glyder Fawr, a view of the continuing
Skyline, over Snowdon

I picked up a coffee at the cafe and, with my eye on my watch and my mind on my 24-hour target time, carried it up the PYG track. It was just about cool enough to sip by Bwlch y Moch – maybe I exaggerate – but then the adrenaline rush of Crib Goch provided its own stimulation. At the top I encountered the first mists, which eventually lifted at Crib y Ddysgl, where Snowdon (and its hordes) came back into view. I downed a juice at the summit cafe then headed of towards Yr Aran, realising pretty quickly that I needed to turn and hit the path that descends gently to Rhyd Ddu, the lowest point on my watershed. Rhyd Ddu was pretty quiet but, again, there were provisions available (you don’t need a long-suffering support driver to walk this route). Ahead of me lay Snowdonia’s best kept secret – the fantastic landscapes of the Nantlle ridges. But first was the purgatory of 1500f of grassy staircase to ascend Y Garn. It didn’t help that I now met the single happiest school group I have ever seen, gambolling down the steep ground with shared noisy glee. By contrast I was by now the possessor of that crazed hollow stare of an addict reaching the end of the fix, the sort you see eyeing up the last pint of a bender or putting the last coins in a Vegas slot. Eventually the slope slackened but I had acquired company. Yes, I had a voice in my head, a female companion who was convinced that we would finish this together, even if we had to run the last bit down.

As I later read, one of the local Welsh poets had written of this area: “T ere are voices and phantoms throughout the place.” Spooky? No, comforting, really. Y Garn is a fantastic viewpoint… but I cannot recall appreciating it on this occasion. Soon enough, the route became really interesting again, with care required to negotiate the bouldery staircase up to Mynydd Drws-y-Coed, and a view down one of the cleanest of vertical drops in the whole of Snowdonia. And from here on I met not a soul. No-one else was there to admire the ridge curving perfectly round the cwm to Trum Y Ddysgl, or the upland grass promenade – with that short rough gap – to the obelisk on Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd.

The next bwlch is one of those disconcertingly low ones, but my female companion kept pointing out a path that struck out half right from the low point. Her judgment was perfect as I took it and it led me round the crags on the ridge, to the summit of Craig Cwm Silyn. More great views and, at last, no more major ascents. I could sense a nearing of journey’s end, complete with its metaphors for life itself; the going easier, everything more rounded and the sea nearer. Garnedd Goch was easy up but bumpy down and looked unexpectedly huge in retrospect. From a level bwlch I picked up the thinnest path to Mynydd Craig Goch. It was all downhill now and I had 40 minutes left of my 24 hours, much of which I wasted by straying too far to the right. ‘She’ – the voice in my head – was right, I reflected, as I hobble-ran down the hill on a path that led unerringly to a new fence. Down towards Llyn Cwm Dulyn I lurched, to a stile, which led in turn to one of those mysteries of the countryside, a one-in-five grass slope that somehow holds ankle-deep water. When I eventually reached my target, the National Park boundary, the only sound I could hear – splurch, splurch – was that of water sloshing around in my runners. The time was 5.36pm. I had been going for four minutes short of 24 hours and can have rarely felt worse; then again, I had just found a fantastic route and have rarely felt better. So, there is the challenge: keep the sea to your right, Wales to your left and climb the skyline in front of you. You might want to wait till the wind’s in the east. Then enjoy.

  1. The route has a single theme: the skyline.
  2. The best views in Snowdonia are looking west, and they are in front of
    you throughout.
  3. The route includes several outstanding scrambles and all bar one are
    used the best way, in ascent.
  4. The route has a continuity of line; there are no ‘out and back’ elements.
  5. The route is navigationally obvious, with no temptingly daft options.
  6. Each of the major descents are on gradual slopes or civilised paths.
  7. The route includes two areas which deserve greater attention: the
    northern Carneddau and Nantlle.
  8. The start and end points are on the road network and readily connected
    by public transport.
  9. There is comfortable accommodation at both ends.
  10. The start is at the start of the mountain skyline and the end….is at the other end of it.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén