Wanderlust Blog

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky to have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock-full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world.

Border

Science Says It’s OK To Spend All Your Money On Travel

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

 

We’ve been telling our parents this for years – now finally there’s some science to back us up.

9127445510_d3001eea53_b

Recent psychological research from Cornell University in New York has confirmed that the key to happiness is through experiences rather than things. The two decade study is led by Dr Thomas Gilovich, who says that one of the key underlying differences between our value of experiences and objects is adaptation. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Basically, we get used to the things we own, and over time the happiness we derive from items dwindles. On the flip side, happiness that stems from things we’ve done actually goes up as time passes because those experiences become a part of us and shape our identity. (It’s why the baby pink Nintendo DS you relentlessly requested for your 20th birthday now sits buried and forgotten somewhere in a bag beneath your bed, whereas your four-month jaunt through South America is still recalled often and fondly, years later.)

4509396222_ae496c7358_b

Gilovich suggests that instead of saving for that plasma screen TV, a much sounder path to happiness is through spending your money on experiences like travel, or even outdoor activities, new skills or visiting exhibitions.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

by Taryn Stenvei, from article in AWOL

Travel Transforms Your Perspective About Everything

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Travel has a profound affect on many people – how they see the world, how they react to others, how they converse or eat or explore. Have you ever sat down to think about how travel has changed you? From meeting new people to having unique experiences, the things we do when we travel have a way of staying with us for years to come.

Boston main 3

To travel is to live your story

You become the central character in the adventures that you once read about only in books. Today you dive into an emerald waterfall, tomorrow you will meet a stranger whose words will change your life and the day after you won’t be the same person who took the first step into this journey. To travel is to tell your story, the one you hear more clearly now, the person you are, without everything you have always been told to be. You aren’t at the same place anymore and you can’t hear the same voices. The one that you do hear is your own.

Ireland main 5

To travel is to change the world

When you travel, you realize that reality is subjective. All the ideas you thought as concrete unchangeable reality at home, change so easily at the next border. It forces you to choose from every culture the missing pieces of your own soul. From one land to another, one country to the next, ideas bend backwards and forwards. You can’t help but ask then, what is really important? When you move across a land, you carry thoughts and ideas of other civilizations and times, of people whose perspective is vastly different from yours. You become a carrier, not of things or goods for exchange, but a carrier of new thoughts.

morocco main 4

To travel is to be familiar with the scent of life

It’s the fragrance of sunlight as it plays with the earth in the air of dawn, at the place you just arrived. It’s in the smell of a steaming cup of tea in a little shop in the mountains. It’s the scent of a village when smoke rises from the wood. It’s the forest at dusk and in the rush of the rivers. When the stars awaken at night, you can smell the dark perfumed sky. Every place has its own characteristic fragrance like no other. A fragrance that can’t be captured in a bottle, nor replicated, but one that drifts in memory. When you travel, the scent of life rushes to meet you.

Jewish Heritage Main2

To travel is to become a part of history

Far too many great souls that existed were travelers – Prophets, kings, wise men, poets, explorers, scholars and sages alike – they knew that in a journey lies transformation. Wherever they went, they left a trace of who they were. When we travel, we merge our own trace with the eternal trace of mankind and his ceaseless journeying through earth.

resized med main 2

Travel is love in movement

Once you know that there is more to the world than you previously imagined, you just cannot go back. You ask yourself, ‘What does it really mean to be alive? What do I love?’ When you’re back to the life you once knew, you no longer wish to talk about the mundane. Travelling sets you free from the things you thought you couldn’t live without, having found new things that are indispensable to you: a passionate spirit with purpose. A new possibility burns within you, one that is just as limitless as the world.

hawaii main 6

To travel is to be naked 

You may carry your clothes, but in truth you travel naked, open to surprise, wind, soil and stranger. When you travel, you are forced to leave everything familiar behind. The only thing you take with you is who you really are. Your truth is all you carry and this is what you give, to where you go. Their essence is what you take home.

South America main 3

To travel is to converse with the world.

Travelers tell each other stories that they wouldn’t speak as easily otherwise, possibly because they may never meet again or because the road opens up their heart wide, enticing them to share all that’s in it. A traveler converses with the world because you put yourself out there where the whole world is conversing. It’s a real conversation with real people. About who you are beneath all the layers. A silent conversation takes place even with just a nod, an acknowledgement. Your eyes meet and suddenly you aren’t strangers anymore. You are old friends meeting once more upon distant lands.

peru main 6

To travel outside is to travel within

The things you hear on the road are not to be taken lightly. They are powerful. In fact you find new words pouring out of your own lips too. Definite shapes and forms fall apart like a child’s sand castle and take new dimensions. You come to know yourself in the voices of other travelers.

spitsbergen main2

To travel is to move your mind by a million dimensions

In a journey you confront something that has never before been a part of your existence – faces you’ve never previously envisioned, the textures of a land, a new way of living life, even the way in which you show your affection. Travel is not just about moving your body from one place to another, from one picture frame in front of the Eiffel tower to the next in front of the Statue of Liberty. Travelling moves your mind, irreversibly alters your heart and merges you as one unstoppable human race.

Yellowstone Main 2

To travel is to confront the truth

In that moment where two completely different worlds collide, alchemy takes place. Ideas of life which were utterly unfamiliar and foreign are discussed over wine, coffee or a beer and then those thoughts don’t die or remain there. They travel onward with them, scattering to different parts of the world. When you travel, you even surprise yourself. You dance on the streets, climb mountains and swim in glacial river streams. You follow your gut and the things you do and see, change the world irrevocably forever because it changes you irrevocably, forever.

Yes you will have to eventually go back to your ‘real life’ and the real world, but you won’t ever be the same person going back home anymore.

Because Travel transforms you.

Edited from article in MSN Travel

Tips for Better Travel Photos

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

 

It wasn’t that long ago that many travel photos were taken, developed and then dumped into boxes, rarely to be seen again. These days, things aren’t so different except that now the photos get dumped onto external hard drives.

In most collections of vacation and travel photos, a precious few of the very best shots are often spared this fate – those photos that are somehow more enduring or more interesting, or that best capture the spirit and sensation of the trip. What is it that keeps these photos from the dustbin of our traveling history? Often they are simply better photographs. That is, the “keeper” photo isn’t of a favorite person, place or activity – it is better composed, better lit and thus simply more visually interesting than the run-of-the-mill vacation snapshot.

Following is a collection of low- and no-tech tips to help you improve your photography skills for your next trip.

Think “people, places, things.” 3843904037_10b131c0eb_b
This old definition of the use of a noun is a handy guide to a great vacation photo: the best travel photos will often be about all three of these. To illustrate, let’s say you want to take a photo of the Tower of London on a rainy day. If you pull up your photo and snap the Tower in the gray light, you could get a decent photo. But if you put your friends in the photo with the Tower glimpsed over their shoulders (the place of interest), visible just under the rim of an umbrella (a very specific thing that evokes the conditions), you have a great shot.

Get closer. 14279953926_97bcbb87a6_h
As Robert Capa famously said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Taken literally, the closer you get to your subject, the more detail and interest you can capture.

There are a couple of ways to do this, both equally valid and effective. One is to use the telephoto features found on most cameras to zoom in on your subject. Before anyone cries cop-out, this can be a very effective photographic technique, and has resulted in countless compelling images in this age of big lenses.

The other is simply to walk closer to your subject. Not everyone is comfortable doing this, but the person viewing the photo will appreciate it; despite how close a zoom lens makes things appear, when viewing a photo the human eye can still sense the distance, and appreciates when an image has truly been taken up close.

Be in the thick of it.
A less literal read of Capa’s statement, and probably the one closer to his intent, suggests that Capa likes photos in which the photographer him- or herself seems to be part of what is going on, and not standing apart from the action. Capa’s solution to get more intimate, engaged photos is simply to be more intimately involved in the photo yourself.

5728297735_327ffa8345_b (1)Know where the sun is.
The easiest way to flatter your subject is to put it in the best light. If you want your subjects’ faces to shine, turn them so the sun is shining on their faces. If you want your photo of your cruise ship to look like the brochures, take the photo on the sunny side of the ship. Alternately, if you want to catch the glistening of light on the ocean, take the photo when the sun is low enough to bounce off the waves.

Consider the time of day.15635520540_e3ceb753aa_k
This is a fairly simple story – there’s no time like sunrise or sunset to take compelling, interesting and even stunning travel photos. Sunrise in particular can produce very striking images, in part because most people are not awake at the crack of dawn, and so can still be surprised by a sunrise photo.

Turn the camera on its side.
In some situations, turning the camera on its side to take a vertical shot is just not good composition, it is almost essential. But taking vertical shots also has an added benefit: it will enhance the interest of your overall photo collection considerably, adding geometrical variety as folks flip through your vacation slideshow.

5728340461_b4ae53db20_bFill the frame.
The interesting parts of the scene should start at the left edge of the viewfinder and end at the right edge. That is, the subject should absolutely fill the frame such that the edges of the photo will include as little superfluous imagery and information as possible.

I find this tactic offers a couple of distinct advantages. First, the intended subject of your photo is absolutely clear to anyone who sees the photo. And second, the photo becomes a thing apart from how we usually see the world, which is more or less in 180-degree panorama thanks to our peripheral vision. A photograph can isolate and amplify our experience, which turns out to be one of the attractions of travel itself, as well.

9127445666_7df279c0a8_bDivide the scene into threes.
If you put something right in the middle of the frame, the photo is about that thing. Another great tactic for creating visual interest in a somewhat routine shot is to frame the shot such that your subject is not in the dead middle of the photo, but is placed off-center in the frame. An easy way to think about this is mentally to divide the frame into three sections (left, center and right), and put the main subject of the photo either entirely within the left or right section, or perhaps right on the line dividing two sections.

How to choose on which side to put the subject? This is easy – put it on the side that has the least background interest in the overall frame. This way, the viewer can be tricked into thinking you took a photo of both the subject and the background activities, with equal emphasis on both.

You can also divide the photo vertically into threes as well so that you have a grid of nine squares total to work with.

When taking photos of traveling companions, it is easy to prop them up in front of something interesting and then take the picture. If you go to some effort to get the attraction behind them, but cut off the top of someone’s head, or include a sloppy untucked shirt, or cut the photo off at someone’s socks, you have a good photo of the sight and a terrible photo of your friends. In this case, frame them first and then worry about the background.

Move.14323278473_eb31453a1b_b
I find that very often a decent photo could have been a great photo if I had just moved a little bit, whether to reframe the photo slightly, or to put something interesting into the background. This can involve moving a few steps forward or back, shifting to one side or the other, or crouching down. As a photographer, you have much more control over what you are doing and where you are standing than you do over the subject matter; if you just stand lead-footed in one spot, your photos will reflect this.

Zoom in and out until you like what you see.
If your camera has a zoom feature, and most do these days, you can help yourself to “move” by zooming in and out on your subject. I find that when you do this, at the point the scene becomes most interesting, your eye will notice it – that is, you’ll just like it more intuitively. That’s when you take the shot.

4588278443_6a3ee4f058_bPay the most attention to the edges and corners.
A great photo is as often defined by what is left in as by what is left out. You have considerable control here, and while it is normal human behavior to look directly and in a concentrated way at the things that interest us most, the camera behaves otherwise.

Very often you can take a photo that seems like it might turn out extremely well, but when you see the print of a photo, your friend is a speck in the middle of a nondescript background. Take all that stuff out, and you have a great photo.

In the same way, if you zoom in very closely on someone’s face, and cut out the monkey standing on her head, you missed the shot.

4508752325_da920c1ddf_bAt familiar sites, emphasize something other than the subject.
If you are photographing the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Mount Rushmore or any other frequently photographed site, you would often do better to buy a nice calendar than take yet another point-and-shoot photo that will just take up space on your hard drive until it crashes.

But if you make it a photo about something else – your companion’s goofy hat with the Eiffel Tower in the background, or a bobby in front of the Houses of Parliament, or a motorcycle gang parked in front of Mount Rushmore – then you have a great photo.

Look, then think, before you shoot.
Before taking a photo, if you just take a quick look at your surroundings, and give yourself a second to think about anything interesting that might be happening, you will get a much higher percentage of interesting photos than if you simply pull your camera to your eye and snap without planning what you want to capture.

14609595601_94969e17a1_kTry to take photos where you didn’t “have to be there.”
If you want to take a great photo and not merely a snapshot of your traveling companions in a certain location, think about how a complete stranger would react to seeing your picture. Photos that are thereby intrinsically interesting will enhance and retain their interest to you as well.

Use your sense of humor.
Do not underestimate the value of capturing or expressing a little humor when taking travel photos. Travel is usually as much about how we felt and thought while traveling, not just where we went, and photos that capture some humor often bring back the strongest memories and sensations as time goes by.

 

Edited from article in Independent Traveler

Southernisms

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

by Michele

DSCN2671-1

We just got home from our incredible Southern Charm tour where we spent time in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and it was fabulous!  We learned so much about the history and culture of the South and had the perfect weather for exploring new cities. From a plantation tour to a horse drawn carriage to rocking chairs on the front porch, this trip was simply charming.

We learned some new phrases along the way – Southernism, if you will – and we thought that they were too fun to keep to ourselves.  I dare you to use these in your every day conversations!

“I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.”
Southerners mostly use this phrase to answer, “How are you?” Even those below the Mason-Dixon know frogs don’t have hair, and the irony means to highlight just how dandy you feel.

“He could eat corn through a picket fence.”
This describes someone with an unfortunate set of buck teeth. They tend to stick up and outward, like a horse’s teeth. Imagine a horse eating a carrot, and you’ll get the picture.

“It came a Gully Washer”
Translation: A short, heavy rain, also known as a turtle floater, a duck drowner or a toad strangler or a downpour.

“He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.”
On farms (not just in the South) roosters usually crow when the sun rises. Their vociferous habit wakes up the house, signaling time to work.
An extremely cocky rooster might think the sun rises simply because he crows. Similarly, an extremely cocky man might think the same when he speaks — and also that everyone should listen to him.

 “Bless Your Heart”
Translation: If you’ve heard this, especially from a Southern woman, she doesn’t mean it.  In reality, the phrase has little to do with religion and more to do with a passive-aggressive way to call you an idiot. Depending on your inflection, saying “bless your heart” can sting worse than any insult.

“Now don’t come to me and be dumber than a box of rocks.”
Translation: This is self-explanatory.  And if you don’t get it, you might just be dumber than a box of rocks.

“If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”
Translation: “You’d better do what I want or I won’t be happy and if I’m not happy then you’re not gonna be happy either.  I’ll make sure of it.

“Gracious plenty”
Translation: More than enough.  As in “we’ve got gracious plenty of it”

“Forty-leven”
Translation: Innumerable.  As in “She had forty-leven children”

Introducing Noah

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Noah
Noah has not seen all of the world, but definitely plans to try!

At the ripe old age of 6, Noah’s love for travel was noticed when his grandmother took him on a trip from his hometown of Detroit to Los Angeles. “I love meeting new people. With each new person I get to hear a story about a different part of the world”.

Graduating from Baldwin-Wallace College with a degree in Exercise Physiology and Biology and a minor in enjoying life to the fullest, Noah quickly realized that he could use his education anywhere in the world. So after a surprise phone call with an offer to play semi professional soccer in Germany, he decided without hesitation that he couldn’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now living in Berlin, he is closer to some of the most amazing things in the world; the history and architecture of Warsaw, the beer in the south of Germany, the pasta of Italy and the nude beaches in France!

Noah’s love for the world, passion for bringing people together, positive attitude and fun demeanor make him the perfect addition to the Amazing Journeys family and we are excited to have him as part of our crew. Noah will be staffing this summer’s Mediterranean cruise and looks forward to meeting the group in Europe!

For more information on our cruise to the Mediterranean this summer, click here!